The Return of the White Deer- Prologue
A new-school fantasy novel based on my Crunalan society of the Dragon Empire setting and various historical characters whose stories have been mangled up by the author's imagination. Most critical readers welcomed!
She has been wandering in this... she paused as she struggled to find the right words to describe this place she was in now. Sight, sound, smell and sensations are all null here. As for thoughts, well, she no longer had much need for them. After all, this place is a place of emptiness, of nothingness, a void. Yes, that's the word, a void. A void that is making her part of its very substance at a painstaking slow pace. Like a malicious predator playing with its prey, devouring it in tiny mouthfuls each time. At first, she tried to resist, to fight. She tried to cling onto herself, driven by an instinctive sense of self preservation. But she was just one being in this vast void, one drop of water in a sea. Ultimately, determination gave way to indifference. Why resist something inexorable? So she wanders, wanders in a listless way until she knows no more, becomes no more. But not yet. Yes, the time has not come, yet.
Then she felt a distant throbbing, from a distance that defied comprehension. It was moving towards her, first at the same excruciating pace that this place is disintegrating her but slowly building up in speed. Then it was there- a vortex of darkness spinning at dizzying speed. It pounced on her and swallowed her whole...
The opening of the tent flap alerted the three figures jovially engaged in wrestling. In the blink of an eye, the impossible tangle of arms and legs had miraculously separated into three youths, well-built but not yet hardened into form, with many chances to grow yet. They stood up in proper deference to the visitor, the Khan of their tribe and one of the elders dear to them all, but otherwise was at ease.
'Khan-father.' 'Uncle Yesu.' 'Khan-aegin' Three enthusiastic greetings came to Yesegei's ears and he smiled. He walked further into the ger and led the youths across to the centre of Temujin's ger so that they could all sit around a burning fire in the morning chill.
Yesegei surveyed the three youths in front of him with satisfaction. His eyes automatically went to the tallest but also the leanest, , and he sighed despite himself. If only the others of the Circle would come around and see what Temujin would be able to offer the tribe. It was true that his son was merely a competent fighter. Even more troubling, Temujin was well-rounded in, which really meant being mediocre across, all aspects concerning combat. In his youth, he himself would have scoffed at the notion of entrusting the future of the tribe to such a leader. However, he has since seen things differently. Changed by his personal experience at being chieftain, he felt in his heart that of the hafins- contenders for future chieftainship, Temujin whose eyes contain determination way advanced of his own age would be the greatest fit for the position. On top of this, there was Temujin's seeming indifference to whether he would actually ascend to the position. Despite the substantial amount of time he devoted to learning of the various aspects of managing a tribe's affairs, Yesegei knew that Temujin did so out of a sense of duty rather than his own desire. Yesegei was afraid that this just added to sentiment against Temujin becoming Khan after himself. Oftentimes, he would find himself torn. He frequently questioned whether he should really be forcing the burden of leadership on Temujin that he clearly did not want for himself. Yet, it would truly be a great loss to the tribe if he was rejected by the Circle in favour of another.
Then his gaze shifted to the left, to a much stockier and not much shorter figure. Borochu, whose grandfather traced to generations ago came out of the same womb as his own forbearer and who grew up under his gaze as much as that of Borochu's own father. At the age of nineteen, Borochu was already a sharp blade unsheathed. He smiled appreciatively. Then his eyes strayed to the other side of Temujin, to Nergei. About the same build as Borochu but half a head shorter, Nergui was utterly unassuming, thus easily missed. At the same time, his eyes miss nothing, vigilant like those of hawks that circle their preys. Mentally, Yesegei nodded with approval at these three that are the most promising of the hafins, who encapsulate the future of the tribe.
'Khan-Father?' a surprisingly firm voice broke in on Yesegei's reverie that carried him further and further away from what he came to discuss.
'I came to discuss the coming meeting at the Ctofalir.' Yesegei announced in a grim voice.
'What about it? Either the Tatar backs off or we fight, right?' Borochu shrugged as if it made no difference to him either way. That earned him a swat on the back of his head.
'Crunalan men are not scared of risking their lives on the battlefield. But like the wolf, one has to know when to back off and when to stay firm and fight to the death.' Yesegei started to lecture but then stopped when he saw that Borochu had half turned his head to make faces at Temujin and Nergui. He could feel his palm starting to itch. He ignored the urge and carried on with where he left off before getting distracted. 'I have... a bad feeling about it.' A dull sheen had momentarily settled over his gaze when he uttered the words. While he was unaware of it himself, this did not escape the keen eyes of Temujin and Nergui. However, rather than interrupting, the two merely waited to hear more.
'Just remember to take care, the three of you.' Yesegei paused and then looked keenly at Borochu and Nergui especially. 'Watch out for each other.' With that he made an abrupt departure, leaving the three youths dumbfounded and staring amongst themselves.
For this Prologue, mainly looking for feedback on whether it is interesting enough to draw people to read on. Also, the first passage is sort of getting out of my hand and after I'm done with it, I feel like it's sort of lukewarm but will suffice. Wondering what other people think of it. Looking for 10+ feedback and if anyone is interested enough in this five-book series to be brainstorming with me over PMs on plots for later books
Not Registered Yet? No problem.
Do you want Strolenati super powers? Registering. That's how you get super powers! These are just a couple powers you receive with more to come as you participate.
- Upvote and give XP to encourage useful comments.
- Work on submissions in private or flag them for assistance.
- Earn XP and gain levels that give you more site abilities (super powers).
- You should register. All your friends are doing it!
? Responses (14)-13
*the* Temujin? :) Cool. There's a 'D' in the title you might want to slice off. So, is this an opening chapter type of thing? Will the Crunalan Empire tale reflect the Song/Yuan Empire time frame approximately?
I just saw the typo in the title but I can't fix it because the titled name is wrapped up with the URL so I just pmed Strolen to fix it for me.
Yes, as I made clear in the summary, this is the Prologue of a novel that I'm trying to write (I've currently gone through the half way mark). The story itself is some kind of mock historical fiction with the protagonists being Temujin and his first wife Bortai (which is normally spelt differently, I made up this spelling myself using how her name is written out in Chinese). However, their stories have been so mangled up by me that I just call it fantasy. The whole series will span over the period that Temujin is trying to unite all Mongolian/Crunalan tribes under his own banner (although this is a five book series and I have only the plot of the first book fully fleshed out) so as to how far my story would depart from real history, I cannot tell at this stage. In this first book, it concentrates more on Bortai while Temujin is more the focus on the second book, I think.
Perhaps you could do a little more to paint the scene clearly. I think not everything you want to communicate is getting on the page. I am sure in your head you have color schemes, a sky line, sounds and smells for this scene. This our first step into the Dragon Empire, and perhaps we should be transported. Put all that down, paint the whole scene, it can be taken. Alternatively, take out all the set dressing. I am sure you want to set up the arch of the boys in happy conflict (jovial wrestling) now only to be in vicious blood thirsty conflict later. But you could just describe the situation is a greater abstraction. Right now the geography of the scene you are painting it is unclear.
So I take it Yesegei opens the tent flap. Is he alone or does he have others with him?
The boys stand up, out of respect for the Kahn-father I assume. Are they standing at attention, are they facing Yesegei or are their backs turned to him? Are they facing each other? I assume they must be facing each other because of Borochu making faces and Temujin is standing in the middle because the others described as being on the left and right.
Who says 'Kahn-father?' in this scene?
This is only 703 words, you could add a good bit more with out exceeding your 2000 word limit.
Some suggestions for the content, which is interesting and I want to read more.
I expect that most of your readers already know the Temujin is going to be great. You call a little to this scene by making Yesegei think that Nergei has all the potential. Perhaps thinking Nergei will be his son's chief rival. This is an old troupe; making the one we all know is going to be great one out to be the underdog, but I don't think you are shying away from a traditional narrative here. Just a thought...
Have Yesegei say 'Crunulan men are not scared of risking their lives (or dying or the battle field)' instead of fighting. Borochu's response is flippant and unseasoned, having Yesegei rephrase it will only re-enforce Yesegei's greater understanding of the question of war. That will speak to Yesegei's wisdom.
Thanks, Axle, as always I appreciate your insightful and detailed comments. Firstly, let me clarify, I don't have a set word count, the 2000 thing is purely for the benefit of the royal vote exchange and also because so far, each of my Chapters tend to be under 2000 words.
I won't bother to go through on the clarity issues you picked up, I will try to get rid of them either today or tomorrow with a quick edit. However, I do want to clarify some aspects with Nergei. I'm not aware that I've created the impression that Yesegei think that Nergei has 'all the potential'. I was trying to convey that Yesegei approves of Nergei more than Borochu who, as you've said, is a bit 'empty-headed' and unseasoned but he still thinks that Borochu has room to grow (i.e. not hopeless). And I thought I rounded out things a bit when I mentioned that Yesegei nodded with approval at all three of them, no? I know as author, I personally like Nergei as a character way more than Borochu the 'muscle-man' so maybe that's what permeated this scene. As for what you guessed from the future development of Nergei as a character, well, yes, he would be turning from underdog to greatness (not as great as Temujin obviously) but there won't be rivalry between the three youths, they will remain buddies throughout.
In terms of geography, as I've currently written this book, it's all in later Chapters as the main chars travel across the Steppe but I will think about how I could do more with geography at earlier Chapters. Maybe start with one short passage of the Steppe and then gradually zooming into Temujin's tent or something.
Finally, what do you think of the starting passage? When I first wrote it, I meant it to create a sort of mysterious feel hoping to get readers' curiousity up but I think at the end, I might've gone a bit too far with it i.e. as the author, this place was getting so mysterious I was struggling for words when describing it. As currently stands, I think it's a bit lukewarm but will probably suffice. Agreed?
I like the opening passage.
Sorry I was so unclear. I often go through an reread my posts and think to myself 'woah, I make no sense'
In terms of geography I was referring to physical arrangement of the scene above not the setting. If you are going to use this third person perspective you should try writing the scene as if you are explaining it to the blind or the blindfolded. Imagine you are in a room with somebody fascinated with this scene, but you are the only that one that can look out the window on the events you are describing.
In terms of Nergei and Temujin, my point was lost as well. I am making a suggestion as how you might rewrite the scene to make it more interesting and to include some conflict or tension. I don't think you are going for avant garde story telling here and you are not going for RPG fact dropping. Fiction writing 101 says you need tension in relationships and a character's action should risk something in order to be interesting. (I don't always agree with that and often find it a little force in genre fiction, but you got keep people reading).
I am suggesting that instead of foreshadowing Temujin's rise by describing his father's certainty you foreshadow Nergei's rise and paint Temujin as the underdog. Your audience is likley going to already know of Temujin's rise but by painting Temjuin as the underdog you great a minor conflict in that we now have a disconnect between how the reader knows things will turn out and what is actually on the page at this point in Tenjuin's life. This type of conflict is the key to genre fiction. In the romance novel you know they are going to get together even if all the characters in the story do not.
Have Temujin's father see Nergei as the great one in waiting. Have Nergei remind Yesegei of himself or powerful leaders that ,. It make a certain sense that nobody can see Temujin coming, how could they? There had been nobody like him before and very few like him sense. This could also great some emotional risk in the scene. If Yesegei admires Nergei more than his son, even though he loves his son, than he may feel some guilt, shame or self doubt.
Borochu is fine here. His antic provide the only real events in the scene.
Yesegei's stroke or vision or poison kicking in... is a great at the end to the scene, you should keep it. It leave a cliff hanger of sorts.
What are the character's risking in this scene?
Where is conflict or tension in this scene?
Thanks, Axle, for the clarifications. Truth to tell, I'm writing each Chapter based upon the Chapter synopsis which roughly includes 2 events and from there I split the Chap into 2 or 3 scenes, brainstorm about them and then just write. So I admit bringing out conflict and such is not foremost on my mind unless it was inherent in the plot itself. I think when I wrote the Prologue, the only hook I planted to keep readers curious was the first passage. The passage about Temujin was just meant to bring out that there's a coming war and to introduce the guys in this story. So what you suggested here is certainly food for thought. I will reflect a bit over what you say here to build a draft 2 version of the Prologue.
I'd maybe change this line...''Watch out for each other.' With that he made an abrupt departure, leaving the three youths dumbfounded and staring at each other.'
The 'each other' twice sounds a bit awkward.
Good catch, Muro.
Update: Made an edit based on Axle's comment re: more tension and conflict in scene 2. Big thanks for the underdog idea that I've adopted partly and I think it does introduce more elements of conflict into the scene 2 plus it ties in with the current Chapter that I'm writing (Chap 13).
The way you wrote up the underdog is better than my idea, because it doesn't depend on the reader knowing anything about Genghis Kahn.
I like it better this way.
How about dropping all the historical references? You aren't really following history anyway and doing a thinly veiled Genghis Kahn is better than doing a mangled half fictional history.
If your story is really interesting it won't matter is your protagonist is called King Arthur or Spartacus, and it will free up from any of the constraints history or geography might place on your story. Authors do thinly veiled historical settings all the time with words like Joust or Gladiator. Doing a fictional Mongolia is just as viable as writing a fictional Europe or England.
What you said here is definitely true, that's why I don't really call this historical fiction at all. However, without giving the story away, I have to say that at this stage, this story somewhat hinges on the historical references because of a twist that will crop up in Chap 8 which I haven't yet released to the Citadel (because it's sort in 0.5 version form i.e. complete but I've since found that I will need to expand the content somewhat). That's why I've specifically labelled this as new-school fantasy which I don't even touch as a reader of English books but somehow this story cropped up into my head due to the influence of Chinese online novels that I had taken up to reading. Later on the track, I might actually do what you say and replace the historical bits altogether since I'm also a bit iffy about basing the story on half mangled history. It will take some work to accomplish though which I'm just feeling lazy to start right now, esp. given my focus is just to finish the first of the books in this series.