This is a "novel" I am writing while bored. I thought about adapting it into a story game, but I refuse to add choices. I am typing it here to share it and get it in a typed format. Before now I have been handwriting this. I am typing a thread for each chapter and probably will post each page separately in the thread. Keep in mind that each chapter is ten pages hand-written. I may do the whole book, or just this chapter, who knows. I'll post the story and then a "response" post, in the event someone wanted to comment or provide feedback. Please do not respond to the story in the event I want to edit it. I do love feedback on my stories, but this thread is more for me to have fun with. I'm also in need of a title if anyone wants to suggest one.
Two men charged me from the front, their swords raised to strike downwards at me. It was, perhaps, a good strategy, but they were painfully slow. I stepped forward, running the first man through with my blade while using his sword to behead his companion. There was a scream behind me as a third man realized his friends were not even able to distract me long enough for him to flank. I threw the sword I had borrowed at him, impaling him against an overturned cart he used to sneak behind me.
I stopped and examined the battlefield. There didn't seem to be anyone left willing to face me, so my mission was complete. I swiftly pulled my sword from the dead man at my feet and wiped the blade on his companion's uniform to clean it. Sighing as I sheathed my sword, I returned to report the results of my mission to my father, King Herold of Camema. As his only daughter, and since he lacked a son, it was my duty to serve as his most powerful warrior; in this line of work I earned the title of "she-demon".
My father was expanding his territory, and my job was to remove any opposition that kept him from his goals. Today we moved into Happia, the country to the north, and they had amassed their entire military force to oppose us. My task was simple: kill their entire army before the Cameman forces arrived. As my father's sword, I was always sent first, so the arm could focus on occupying the land and policing new citizens that did not fall into line. I never failed in my mission.
"Ashley, is it done?" my father called from his saddle on a jet black wat horse he rode into battle on. I wiped a tuft of blonde hair from my face and nodded. No one had survived, no one ever survived. "Good! Excellent work, Camema will prosper ever greater thanks to your efforts today!" I stopped in place, this was the highest praise I had ever received from him. It was the third country I had toppled in as many weeks. "Men, secure the area! We shall camp here for the night."
I bowed and left to find the blacksmith. I had my usual repairs done and camp was set up in the meantime. The soldiers all stopped their chatter and moved out of my way as I made my way past them to the tent where dinner was being served. After my meal, which was eaten alone as it always was, I proceeded to train; my mission had prevented me from training in the morning per my usual routine.
After strength training, sword practice, and a run a messenger informed me that my father requested my presence in his quarters. It was likely that he already had a new mission for me. I quickly made my way to the center of camp and entered his tent.
"You fool, this tea is unfit for swine!" my father screamed into the face of a young servant. "Ashley, I am glad you are here." My father turned to me stroking his grey whiskers and peering at me with his sharp blue eyes. "Kill this imbecile."
Before anyone could move my blade came unsheathed and found its way through the boy's heart. It happened so naturally I hardly thought about it. "Is that all you needed, father?" I asked indifferently. Everyone in the tent took a step back from me and looked worried. They were all afraid; their cowardice made me want to unsheath my blade again. They were all weak, which is why I had to be strong. My father needed one sword he could rely on
The game is about her character development, so yes. If you don't like her it will quickly get better as I add more of this chapter. This is the romance novel I had talked about earlier.
I have a plan for that. She is the 3rd or 4th most powerful warrior in the world, but it isn't an issue after the first chapter. I wanted to establish her as unredeemable so it is more dramatic when she is redeemed. I appreciate the feedback though, I hope the story lives up to the challenge...
I agree, and I don't like half-assed character development. Please keep me honest with it... I am trying to get the rest of chapter 1 posted today
Interesting read, I'm intrigued to see your approach to character development.
Thanks! Unfortunately, I have more pages establishing the dark side of the character. This wasn't intended as a short story. I also realized it is chapter two when the change happens. Chapter one is more of this. It might be overdone...
"No, I wanted to discuss your next mission. We will be invading Birus to the east; their military strength is supposed to rival ours, so it will be more challenging than today." My father opened a map and pointed to it with an all-black gauntlet as he spoke. He already had a plan, as he always did, but it was different than his usual plans.
"Father, why should the army flank when I can dispose of them myself?"
"Birus isn't like the other countries we have fought. They are a nation of warriors; they will not throw hundreds of worthless fodder at you. Their king is said to be the greatest swordsman in the world, and his general might rival even you. None of this is an issue, though. As long as we follow my plan, their ideas will be their demise."
"What do you mean by that, father?"
"They are a warrior nation, but they do not value strength like we do. They value ideals that make them weak. For example, when you show up along their general will challenge you to a one on one. No one on their side will interfere due to what they call 'honor'. It's not something I've bothered to teach you, but while they are idle we will attack their flanks. Meanwhile, you can occupy or kill their general. Either way, their ranks will break into confusion."
He may have gone into more detail, but there was a disturbance outside the tent. A soldier burst in a moment later wearing a pathetic, terrified expression. "Sire! The camp is under attack, they appear to be from Hapia," the soldier reported quickly. My father simply looked at me angrily and nodded.
That was my queue, and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. The planning meeting made me want to kill someone; I didn't have to wait long. The moment I left the tent two hooded figures attacked from the shadows, both lost a hand followed by their life. With a few strokes of my sword, it was over. I turned to face the loudest part of the camp.
Anger and adrenaline pumped through my veins as I approached the battlefield with a death-grip on my sword. I heard screams of anguish and terror as I hacked my way through waves of enemy troops. At one point one of them pointed at me and yelled, "that's her! The She-Demon!"
This exclamation cost him his life but managed to draw enough attention to get me surrounded. There were three spearmen and three swordsmen, all of them looked young except for one. It was the eldest that addressed me, "She-Demon, surrender now or die!" He pointed his sword at me and his men readied his weapons.
As much as I wanted to run the old man through, it would be impossible to do first. I waited for two spearmen to attack; they came from opposite sides, which may have worked against a different opponent. A slight hesitation before the attack gave me the opening I needed. I side-stepped a spear and pulled it forward. This caused the spearman to impale his friend.
His mortified face stayed with him even after I relieved him of his head. I heard one of the others scream while the older man charged in for his revenge. I quickly spun and slashed my blade across his back to immobilize him; the remaining three tried to aid him, but I put the spear through one swordsmen and pushed the other two into each other. hey crashed to the ground where I finished them off.
"What are you?" the old man asked in a frightened tone as he watched his companions draw their last breaths. I responded by shoving my sword into his neck, ending his miserable existence. The other soldier from Hapia began to retreat. The old man was their leader after all. It amazed me how much so-called warriors fell apart when their general died.
"Ashley," my father called from somewhere behind me. "I don't want any survivors."
No further explanation was needed. I did not sleep that night; rather, I chased the enemy forces through the forest and slaughtered each one. Only a few turned to face me and realized how pathetic they were. Most I cut down from behind as they ran. The last one was a boy who looked about my age. He had fair skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair like me. That is where the similarities ended though, and I killed him just as the sun began to rise.
I am still just establishing her as evil and bland. She has no personality of her own. I understand you don't like her, that is the point. It is perhaps overdone... but the first chapter is establishing her as this. The second chapter is breaking her. The rest of the story is rebuilding her. The remainder of this chapter is a flashback to explain (part of) how she became this way. I like flashbacks so I tried to use them. If you don't like it you don't have to read it though.
I mean, you can call it the power of love if you want. I might need to tweak things to make it more interesting, but it is also where most of the action scenes are... I will try to get it all down first and then, perhaps, modify.
Have you ever seen Violet Evergarden? (I know anime isn't considered highly around here, but for a character study in building empathy it's phenomenal.) Or Firefly?
Both of those of have powerful warrior women in them, capable of cutting down large swathes of enemy fighters on their own. And both Violet and River are interesting characters, despite that Violet starts out as a near-emotionless tool and River is near insane from her conditioning.
But for fighting skills, you need a few things to make it attractive to the reader:
- A level of realism (unless the novel is comedic or a parody or deliberately an over the top epic.) Her beating a few incompetant soldiers that charged in an innefective way, or managing to hold her own against several footsoldiers at a time, doesn't mean much on a battlefield. The most effective fighters will be those like her father, on a warhorse, who *on average* are as effective as ten footsoldiers. If she fights, on foot, without superpowers, then no matter how trained she faces a severe tactical disadvantage. And even if she's top tier one on one, that doesn't mean she's automatically going to be able to cut down an entire enemy force. They can team up, work to trap her, shoot her down with arrows, etc. And how can she hunt down a fleeing enemy? Unless they all run the same direction into a narrow canyon with a dead end, there wouldn't even be time in a night to track them and beat them all.
Unless she has a speed power not specifically mentioned where she can move at least a hundred times as fast as a normal person and has faster reflexis, none of it really makes sense. Also, the incompetance of a lot of her attackers makes it seem like she is constantly attacking untrained lackeys vs. seasoned battle soldiers.
Others have already mentioned this, but she needs to have an engaging character. Even 'personality-less' can be interesting, if done right. But if the character is basically "heartless because a parent instilled bad ethics, never challenged by anything, has no internal struggles" it's bland and boring in a bad way.
If you want to flashback to the 'how' she got a certain way, go to the key events that forged her. E.g. when she was very young, and her father makes her kill a kitten or something to teach her that only the strong survive. Middling battles where sher concience has already been seared and she can defeat any foe don't mean much. Show the two or three moments that took her on a different path than she might have been otherwise.
I got this idea from Violet Evergarden, actually. It is my first attempt at a story like this. It is implied that she is fighting inferior forces, but I get what you are saying. It isn't perfect, but they are all fleeing in the same direction because its in the direction of where they came. She is just good at hunting them down is all I have for now. The flashback is what I am typing now, the second half of chapter 1. She isn't just going to mow down weak soldiers the entire time. The flashbacks happen often, so this one doesn't reveal everything. When she fights a tougher opponent in chapter two she does lose.
I think the quote from your second page here might help pinpoint exactly what they're getting at. Having her not even understand the concept of 'honor' as a battlefield trait makes her super, super unlikeable, even if the intent is to set up a moment where she learns what it is and use it as character development. It doesn't bother me too much, but it does feel overdone for sure.
Makes sense, it might be that I need to change ch 1 or delete half of it. I am pretty bad about over-explaining things. Ch 1 and 2 could probably be combined with half ripped out of each, if the story moves too slow. The idea is she is evil beyond redemption and unlikeable.
I was going to say only you can possibly know where your story is going, but I think Mizal might have a good guess down there lmao. Maybe you should consider writing something from the perspective of the 5,238th strongest warrior in the world, that might please your audience more.
That guys name is Kyle, no one wants to hear a story about him...
Now the 4,174th strongest has an interesting story!
Kidding, working on a total re write based on feedback.
Sort of? The power scale isn't a part of the story it's just to put things in perspective. She has done nothing her whole life but train to kill for her father... does it not make sense that she is better than a common foot soldier?
I can tone down the overpowered combat, or limit everything to one fight with both armies present. The idea is just to establish her as little more than a mindless killing machine. I appreciate all the feedback. To be honest, I thought no one would really read this.
Better than a common foot soldier? Yes. Able to destroy entire armies single-handedly and mysteriously run and track down dozens of people, or perhaps thousands depending on how big this army is, in a single night? No. There are diminishing returns on what you can get out of 'more training' and there are limits to human endurance outside of supernatural factors.
No matter how good she is at taking people out one on one or in small groups (although so far you've just thrown incompetant chargers or hesitators at her - e.g. she won not necessarily because she was more skilled but because they obviously messed up,) that won't translate into having the endurance and sheer speed/luck required to mow down everyone in a whole army or chase down hundreds or thousands of fleeing foes in a single night. Throwing 'training' at a problem doesn't change physics. (If she had stated superpowers of speed or teleporation, this might be more plausible.) Mysteriously, the other armies she faces don't seem to have archers.
More importantly, though, it isn't really needed. She doesn't have to track down all survivors to be portrayed as merciless, and she doesn't need to mow down a whole army to be portrayed as skilled and powerful.
I am not disagreeing with you. I probably should scale it down. I don't think two battles are necessary as I read it again, and the feedback overehelmingly agrees. I think I'll eventually combine the first two chapters into a condensed version if I do anything with this. I appreciate the feedback. I can probably make it shorter and more interesting.
I will say that I doubt she actually found and killed everyone, if you remember something similar was said after the first battle, yet they were attacked by a large force that night. I also wasn't going for realism. The goal wasn't an accurate portrayal of mid eval combat, although archers might be a problem. The goal also isn't to portray what is or isn't possible from training. A lot of fantasy stories have unrealistic things in them, including unrealistic combat. In violent evergarden, as an example, I recall a scene where she sees a man bent over and about to be shot execution style. She jumps from the plane (without a parachute), lands quite a bit away, dodges bullets from 5 or 6 military personnel, gets to the shooter before he squeezes the trigger (his finger was on it while she was in the plane), and beats them all up. Then she convinces them to not fight and let her and the man go. Perhaps you also hate that scene, but I'm just babbling about where the exgeration came from.
My goal was to make a dark ruthless character. From what I gather I did that in the first page and can ax the rest, while also toning it down.
Lol is it that bad?
Vagina, Destroyer of Worlds
is this a name suggestion for the main character?
While I do enjoy this, there's a point to where it gets a bit painful to read. As it's been mentioned before, the main protagonist perfectly reflects the Mary Sue character traits to the point where it's difficult for me to get behind them and understand their view/motivation to do such terrible things. There's absolutely no insight as to why she's so determined to kill others and also, why is she, in particular, "the sword" her father must use? If she's his only child, she should be a princess preparing for her role as queen, and someone else as the "sword"?
In some parts, it is just unrealistic. In the midst of battle, people are too consumed with fighting to point at someone and call out their alias. The scene where she is cornered by three men and yet they decide to give her an ultimatum is also unrealistic; they would more likely want to kill her as soon as they could. The idea that she has toppled countries within weeks is not realistic unless she is somehow able to kill their leaders and dismantle their governments whenever she wants to. In addition, it is not as easy to slice someone's hand off with a sword as you might think, unless she is wielding a sword that is paper-thin or is a giant chainsaw. Combat is a hard thing to write unless you have experience in learning how to fight or studying how people fight.
I can't understand the character at all. There's nothing there for me to take interest in learning about who she is or why she's doing things. In Violet Evergarden, the protagonist, while emotionally void, still has a drive to her that changes her character from being relatively flat to being 3D. I feel like in your story, your character is missing motivation/drive. Why does she feel so compelled to obey her father? Why is she okay with killing people? What was her childhood like? You don't have to openly answer these questions in your work, but hint it in dialogue or thoughts. Writing is all about subtlety and I feel like you presented us with pieces of something that could be awesome but hasn't been refined yet.
I know you have great potential, so don't give up!
I appreciate the encouragement and agree. Keep in mind that I wrote this on paper, in a journal, before I even signed up for the website. Everything I leaned writing here is not worked into this. Think of it as a snapshot of my writing from years ago. I am copying it (and fixing all the miss used semicolons) without changing the plot much. The idea is that this isn't the final form. I greatly appreciate all the feedback! Even if I hate it, it all going into anything I write in the future.
Camelon's advice is a great and much appreciated. I hate writing combat and I think I put a disclaimer that it is not good. If I seem to be arguing I apologize... I'm mostly explaining what I was thinking while writing it and when it came from. I stand by that I'm not going for like a historically accurate battle with correct military tactics, but I can make it better and if I feel like doing anything serious with this I will.
Read the whole thing, few things I want to touch on.
In regard to another I saw, I actually don't agree. AYT mentioned that the daughter shouldn't be her father's sword and should be a princess or something, but that's just necessarily true. I mean, the question sort of hangs on whether you're using agnatic succession for this realm.
If so, you're golden. If not, I'd consider some minor revisions. Having the daughter be a daughter in the sense of "She was created by this man, so he is her father" works a lot better. Her birth parents don't matter, she is nothing more than a weapon, created by a Father.
As to the criticism that the character's a cunt, I don't really see that as a criticism. I mean, it's intended, and villain protagonists are pretty common here.
However, the whole "She's a cunt thing" plays into the biggest criticism I've seen here, and one I wholeheartedly agree with. She's boring. Like, since she's pretty much just a living weapon, she obviously doesn't have much going on besides the whole "war" thing, which means that she's pretty boring to follow. This is made worse given the fact that the battle scenes just aren't interesting because of how powerful she is. I mean, battles aren't interesting when they're so insanely one-sided, and when so much of your story focuses on these battles because that's all this girl does, it's just bland.
I mean, it's pretty much just like ticking off boxes. There's X number of men, you write her doing X number of killing moves with a few lines showcasing how terrified everyone is, and that's it for every battle scene. There's just absolutely zero suspsense, and if you take out the suspense of battle, it's no different from any mundane task.
If I was you, I wouldn't write any combat. It's not interesting at all, and even at it's best, combat is always a bit boring to read about, plus you don't like writing it. Given that this character is a powerful weapon, why not write it so that when she goes into combat, it's just a pure blood rage. I mean, she goes into combat, next thing she knows, she's coming to her senses again after murdering the enemy. It would help get over a lot of issues, and I think it adds an interesting element to her as a character that could keep the audience tided over until the character development starts.
Another thing that particularly annoyed me was the line about the daughter not even knowing what honour is. I mean, that's just stupid.
I mean, numerous plot points arise from that. First, I mean, how is it the daughter has no honour? I see that she has very little of what we consider honourable, but has she not been taught all her life that she should be loyal? If so, she still has some degree of honour. If not... well, why hasn't she just taken over?
Next, I find it pretty hard to believe the king wouldn't teach her about what honour is. I mean, understanding the enemy is a huge part of combat, and honour affects how people act a great deal. Given the King has a dangerous neighbour that highly values honour, she should absolutely be aware of how honour works and how to exploit it.
And even more so, how is it she's never came across the concept of honour anywhere? Like, it's just so insane the idea that these people not only have no concept like honor at all, but that it's never discussed or understood even by veteran soldiers who no doubt would've had no education.
Like, I see what you were trying to do there, it was the whole "These people are so evil they don't even know what honour is". But it just doesn't really work.
Which, actually, brings me to this entire nation. The whole nation just seems to be "evil", and all characters involved certainly are. I love evil, I think it's fascinating to delve into what motivates it, but this seems to be a pretty bland take on it. Like, I get that daughter's just been raised this way, but the king just seems to be "EVIL" as his main character trait, rather than having interesting character traits that lead him to do evil things. There's a big difference, and it's the difference between "Realistic, interesting character" and just loudly yelling at the audience "YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO LIKE THIS CHARACTER! YOU SHOULD ROOT FOR HIS DESTRUCTION!"
Anyhow, I could do the whole compiment sandwich thing, but you no doubt know your writing's of a high quality and competently written, so I have no desire to toot your horn. Just thought I'd share my musings.
I appreciate it, and I like the blood rage thing... it fits with her character more. I plan on rewriting this chapter before continuing any more (especially the rest of this chapter is pointless if it's already this bad). I'll try to tweak things from "pure evil personified" to make things more interesting, but that is what this nation was meant to embody. The main character is the biological daughter of the king and his only child. Her backstory is in the story, it's just not all on the first page/first chapter. I tend to over explain and move slowly with a story.
Well if the protagonist is her only child, does the kingdom use agnatic succession, or what sort of thing?
I mean sure, I wasn't particularly concerned with who took over next, but it can follow agnatic succession.
I mean, it's a pretty huge difference, not really a trivial thing.
If you don't have agnatic succession, then it raises a lot of plot holes. Why is the only heir being sent into dangerous battles entirely by herself? Why is her life being risked like that?
If it does, it leads to the question of why women are discriminated against when they're so favoured for combat, and it adds a lot of questions about who is next for the throne.
I appreciate the input, but I don't know how relevant it is since this country is only in the beginning. She will have flashbacks to her time growing up explaining where she picked up certain things along the way, not all at the beginning of the story, but those are typically focused on one thing from the perspective of a child. I guess my point is that I don't know where I would say that they follow agnatic succession directly. It can be hinted at by saying she isn't in line for the throne, but that isn't really on her mind.
The story is told from her perspective and focuses more on her Immediate life. In the rewrite, she is a general fighting alongside a force under her command to help address the issue of her facing entire armies alone. That might also help with this problem since it is not uncommon for a prince/princess or king/queen to also be the leader of the army. I wasn't going to focus on the political state of the nation, so to me, it happens outside the scope of the story. I get that it doesn't take place in a vacuum, but I wasn't ever planning to explain how the throne was succeeded. I suppose I can give some thought to it and work it in.
I am open to suggestions on what you think needs to be in there to avoid confusion!
It's definitely really, really relevant.
Like, the fact that the country is only beginning isn't relevant. The King could die at any point, and people are going to want that power when he does. This can't just be something you ignore as a story element.
Like, if the MC isn't in line for the throne, then you definitely need to confirm that to avoid the resulting plot holes from people questioning who will take over as king.
You don't have to focus on the politics, but not even considering who is next in line for the throne and what that would mean for the MC is really relevant. Of course that's going to be important to her as a character. Does she desire power? Is she loyal to her father, or the crown? Does she fear being disposed of if her father dies? These are really relevant character points for a character who, at this point, doesn't have much going for her besides "Loyal and violent".
I'll put some thought into it, the main character's thing is being loyal to her father and wanting to please him. I think that is a bit more obvious further into the story, I was planning on filling the reader into why she is this way as the story progresses. I am sure I can work in how she was never in line for the throne and didn't care, but it likely will not be in the opening. If it helps I can add an older brother for her to just be the heir to the throne with the stereotypical patrilineal succession. He can sit at the castle protected and just fill this issue. My fear is the immediate question will be "why was the MC made a general and not the prince!"
Nevermind, I am just going with the "this man created her and isn't her birth parent" thing.
I'll work these elements in seeing how I am rewriting it anyway. She does try to escape even in my current version, but she never asks for news from what's happening in her absence. The king of the nation she is captured by would have to deal with these things though. In my current version it just mentions that the king is "away on business". I can elaborate that he is away trying to negiate terms of surrender or form an alliance.
The country that captures her is talked about as the strongest military in the world, but are not willing to leave their country to invade other nations. They have the mindset of "if you attack us we will destroy you, but we won't attack you." So they likely will not punish the MCs home nation for losing their most powerful warrior. I also don't mean to imply that she is the only capable warrior in her country, just that she is the best or highest ranking. I'll address these things as well.
Okay here is the re-write. I didn't do a great job proofing it, just wanted to get it up for more feedback. I ended up condensing things down, toning things down, removing most of the combat, and combining the first two chapters. I also am posting it all in one shot because last time I felt some questions were things that I was planning to answer in the next post before people starting commenting like crazy. Please provide more honest feedback, as I take it all into account. I tried to accommodate all the recommendations, but if I missed something please let me know.
Two men charged me from the front, and everything slowed down. As the two armies clashed everything faded into the background like it always does, and I saw red. For the next ten minutes, I hacked my way through ranks of lesser infantry. A few arrows lodged into my chain mail and several cuts wetted my armor, but I didn't feel any of them. I didn't remember any of it until I came to my senses with my sword lodged in an enemy soldier. We had superior numbers and training. It was only a matter of time before the small town that marked the last stronghold of the Hapian empire fell.
I stopped and examined the battlefield. There didn't seem to be anyone still fighting among the burning wreckage, so my mission was complete. I swiftly pulled my sword from the dead man at my feet and wiped the blade on his companion's uniform to clean it. Sighing as I sheathed my sword, I returned to report the results of my mission to my father, King Harold of Camema. He hand-picked me at a young age and raised me to be his sword, so it was my duty to serve as his general; in this line of work I earned the title of "she-demon".
My father was expanding his territory; it was our duty to unite the world through conquest. My father valued loyalty above everything else. He always said that peace was only possible if all the world were loyal to one master. My job was to remove any opposition that kept him from his goals. This was a lesson he drilled into my essence.
Today we crushed the remains Hapia, the country to the north, a task we had been in pursuit of for three weeks. My task was simple: kill their entire army before they could organize a resistance. As my father's general, I was always sent into battle, so my father could focus on ruling his ever-expanding territory and grooming his birth children to continue his reign. I never failed in my missions.
"Ashley, is it done?" my father called from his saddle on a jet black war horse he rode into battle on. I wiped a tuft of blonde hair from my face and nodded. No one had survived, no one ever survived. "Good! Excellent work, Camema will prosper ever greater thanks to your efforts today!" I stopped in place, this was the highest praise I had ever received from him. "Men, secure the area! We shall camp here for the night."
I bowed and left to find the blacksmith. I had my usual repairs done and camp was set up in the meantime. The soldiers all stopped their chatter and moved out of my way as I made my way past them to the tent where dinner was being served. After my meal, which was eaten alone as it always was, I proceeded to train; my mission had prevented me from training in the morning per my usual routine, ingrained into me through rigorous training for as long as I could remember.
Before anyone could move my blade came unsheathed and found its way through the boy's heart. It happened so naturally I hardly thought about it. "Is that all you needed, father?" I asked indifferently. Everyone in the tent took a step back from me and looked worried. They were all afraid; their cowardice made me want to unsheathe my blade again. They were all weak, which is why I had to be strong. My father needed one sword he could rely on.
"No, I wanted to discuss your next mission. We will be invading Birus to the east; their military strength is supposed to rival ours, so it will be more challenging than our current campaign." My father opened a map and pointed to it with an all-black gauntlet as he spoke. He already had a plan, as he always did, but it was different than his usual plans.
"Father, why should your forces flank when mine can dispose of them alone?"
"Birus isn't like the other countries we have fought. They are a nation of warriors; they will not throw hundreds of worthless fodder at you. Their king is said to be the greatest swordsman in the world, and his general might rival even you. None of this is an issue, though. As long as we follow my plan victory is certain."
"Everyone knows there is only one route to Birus, but we have found another. An eastern pass that no one has traveled in centuries. It is a narrow, treacherous path; however, If you confront their forces head on it will buy us time to move into a flanking position. The time is prolonged if you call for an armistice. Our flank will go undetected; meanwhile, you can lead the frontal assault. Their ranks will break."
I knew not to question my father's strategy, part of being loyal was taking orders and fulfilling them correctly. By the time the meeting was over everyone was just turning in for the night. I heard whispers and murmurs about me as I walked back from my father's tent to my own:
"She ordered them to kill everyone on sight."
"I heard she slew a hundred men by herself."
"Maybe she is a demon..."
None of their whispers bothered me. They have been whispering about me my whole life. Ever since I became the sword of the Camemain empire. I would remember that day for the rest of my life. Memories ran through my mind as I drifted into a restless sleep.
My physical prowess at a young age drew attention from a special military training program. After years of training, me and forty-nine other eight-year-olds gathers on what was supposed to be our advancement into the miliary's general ranks. I waited with baited anticipation for the king to speak.
"Welcome gifted ones," King Harold said addressing us all. "As you know you have been being groomed for a command in my army. This is... mostly true. I only need one Commander though." As he spoke each of us was given a ceremonial dagger. "Let me know when there is one left. Only the strongest and most committed is worthy of it."
With that, he leaves and a short boy to my left stabs the girl in front of me. That is the first time everything slowed down faded and into the background. I saw red for thirty minutes and came to in a pool of blood; most of it was not my own, but my head and side hurt from deep cuts covering them. I still fared better than the others--all of them were dead. They say I killed at least seven of them myself, but I don't remember anything from that fight either.
Ever since then I was trained by King Harold personally. The man known as the demon taught me how to fight, how to lead armies and the importance of total loyalty to him. After I had proven my loyalty, I was even permitted to call him father.
I jolted awake and grabbed my sword instinctively, but there was no immediate threat. Our attack would not commence until the evening; for now, I needed to go for my morning run to steady my nerves. I had not thought about my inauguration as the sword of Birus in years, yet here it was still haunting my dreams. Several weeks had passed since the fall of Hapia and news of our military advances had spread.
We had marched our forces to within miles of our border with Birus; they responded by gathering their military at the border. Their forces were led by general Ajax, who was said to be the greatest swordsmen that did not hold the title of King. Only my father and the king of Birus were rumored to be his equal. The two greatest military forces in the world were about to clash.
Everything was going exactly as my father planned. Today we would crush their army, kill their general, and march into their country to claim it as our own. My job hadn't changed. I was to take a majority of our forces and feign a frontal assault, neutralize general Ajax, and buy time for my father to flank. I was confident I could kill him and help dismantle their defenses, but my father insisted that a stalemate that lasted long enough for his army to flank was sufficient.
I agreed as a loyal general should, but I resolved to prove my father wrong. His high regard for general Ajax was unusual; I hoped I could use it to earn his favor when I exceeded his low expectations. I bared this in mind as I prepared for the battle. I took to practicing with my sword with the time I had left.
My sword felt natural to me, like an extension of my arm. It moved fluidly and felt comfortable in my hands. Sheathing it was a disappointment, but the messenger sent to summon me seemed relieved when it was no longer in my hands. I reported to my father's tent immediately.
There wasn't much to say, which was fine by me. We all knew the plan. My forces were to wait an hour before leaving, to give my father and his men more time to march into flanking position, then engage the enemy directly. One thing he added was that if anyone should fall on the battlefield their sacrifice would not be in vain, but anyone who fled or was captured did not deserve to be in his army in the first place. It was a sentiment I agreed with; We had very little tolerance for weakness.
My father then left to the east with four-thousand soldiers and I looked to kill an hour. I sharpened my blade, checked my armor, and meditated. Eventually, an hour passed and we could begin our march with four-thousand more soldiers. I prepared myself mentally for battle; my mind recalled everything I was taught about Birus military tactics and sword fighting forms. I was so lost in thought I didn't see the messenger approach.
"Halt, I carry a message from general Ajax," he called raising a white flag above his mount. Normally I would have an archer end his life for believing that such a simple gesture could stop an entire army, but I had a different mission than usual. "I wish to speak to your general."
"What is your message?" I responded, making my way to the front of the army on my mount.
"Our general wishes for an armistice to speak with you privately. He believes that we can resolve this peacefully."
"Tell him I will see him, alone."
With that, the messenger turned and returned to where he came. Calling an armistice was easier than I thought; usually, I do not need to think about such things. I made sure to be on guard the rest of the journey, but we did not see anyone else along the path. We marched on until the trail opened into a clearing known as the field of honor. It was given this name by the first king of Birus. My mind recalled all that I had learned about the country.
For centuries Birus has been a warrior nation surrounded by treacherous mountain ranges. The only way into Birus without scaling a mountain was through the field of honor; it was said that no army had ever crossed the field. Birus had never lost a battle on it, and its army had never crossed the field to invade another country. They would call their non-aggression virtuous, my father called it weakness.
My father and his men were climbing a narrow, winding path up a smaller mountain to the east. They had to move slowly up a steep incline in single-file fashion to take the path, but once in position, they would be behind the Birus army. My forces rivaled that of our opponent by themselves. Today would be the day that Birus fell.
I stepped into the field and surveyed my surroundings. Rolling hills stretched for miles ahead of me. Tall grasses swayed in the cool breeze that came down from the mountains. It was a beautiful place; you would never expect it to be the bloodiest and most well-known battlefield in the world. I was not there to admire the scenery though. My army marched forward as I wondered when I would get to face the legendary general Ajax.
Birus' army came into view as I reached the top of a large hill. Their stark white flag rose above the army roughly the same size as ours in several places with an insignia of a golden eagle carrying a sword in its talons. The army spread across the next hill, their armor reflecting the sun's light brilliantly, making them look like a mirage.
In the valley between the two armies stood a single man wearing gold plated armor. He shone more brilliantly than the rest of the army as if he radiated the light himself. Closer inspection revealed that his armor looked lighter than what the rest of the army wore and was comprised mostly of chain mail. His sword did not match his armor. It was sheathed but looked plain and well worn.
"I was promised a meeting with your general," the man called into the face of my army.
I quickly dismounted and stepped forward. I could not help but think it was strange that general Ajax was not mounted and trusted my word enough to stand in front of my army alone. His helmet completely covered his face, but I looked him in the eyes as I approached.
"You are general Ajax?" I shouted when I was near the bottom of the hill.
"Indeed, are you the she-demon from Camema?" Rather than answer, I drew my sword; I was never good with words. I gripped my sword tightly and looked to the east hoping to see my father army cresting the hill. "I see... Captain!"
"Yes, General?" A knight called from the top of the hill as he took a step forward.
Ajax didn't take his eyes off me as he responded, "Send another hundred archers to reinforce the troops at the east pass. Make sure no one gets to the top of the mountain."
"General Ajax, shouldn't we be sure we can handle things here before we divide the troops further?"
"Simon, she is stalling for time. Make sure no one climbs the eastern mountain. They plan to flank."
Dread washed over me. My father and his army would be defenseless until they reached the top of the mountain. Archers at the top meant we had to break through their forces here at the main path. If we relied on my father's forces to flank we did not stand a chance. Ajax addressed me again.
"We can avoid all the bloodshed here if you wish."
"We will not surrender," I responded.
"It is never a good idea to try to fight an uphill battle." Ajax sighed and withdrew back to his forces.
I returned to mine and contemplated my next move. Attacking was a bad idea, but I did not have the luxury of time. I gave the order to advance; screams filled the air as my soldiers charged down the hill into the valley. Arrows flew across the valley and cut down my forces with shocking effectiveness. By the time the front lines met enough of my soldiers laid dead to compensate for the hundred archers Ajax had sent away.
I joined the fray and started seeing red. The battle raged on, but I was unable to make any ground. My blade met more steel than flesh. Our armies may have been evenly matched, had they not started with the high ground. I lost track of time and positioning as I struck wildly in an attempt to break the enemy lines. I was vaguely aware of advancing; eventually, a pause in the fighting caused me to return to my senses.
When I came to I was surrounded by Birus soldiers and standing face to face with Ajax. His helmet still covered his face entirely, but he seemed calm. He held a short sword in his hand and flourished it with ease; the blade was sharp and clean, while the hilt was large enough to fit two hands and had a well-worn grip. Sounds of clashing steel and blood curing screams still sounded distant.
"You must realize you can not win at this point, and now you are surrounded," Ajax called out.
"I told you that I never surrender," I responded, my eyes searched for an opening or weakness I could exploit.
"Capture her," their captain ordered.
"No, I'll face her myself, Simon," Ajax said taking a step forward. Simon looked like he wanted to protest, but merely sighed and shook his head. He motioned to the other soldiers, who formed a circle with their shields enclosing Ajax and myself in a large oval arena.
With a cry I charged forward, he crouched into a defensive stance and waited for me. My first there strikes were easily parried and I stumbled backward as he threw me off balance. I continued backpedaling to reset the fight and recover; Ajax simply twirled his sword and returned to a defensive stance, as if toying with me.
Taking a deep breath I tried to zone out and let my reflexes take over, but my usual focus was broken. I took a defensive stance and circled Ajax, looking for an opening to attack again. We stared at each other for a moment, neither side wanting to make the first move.
"Why do you fight?" Ajax asked suddenly, catching me by surprise.
"Why?" I repeated in disbelief. Shaking my head slightly I narrowed my eyes and focused, he was trying to get in my head. "A soldier doesn't ask why," I mumbled as I remembered something my father had taught me.
"Every warrior asks why. No one is on the battlefield by accident, why do you fight?"
"I am the sword of Camema, loyal to King Harold, and created to aid in his conquest to unite the world," I said reciting an introduction that I had been forced to repeat every time I was introduced to nobility. These words left me almost subconsciously; my rage bubbled up at Ajax for wasting my time with such foolishness.
"I see," Ajax said as he changed his stance to something I did not recognize.
Everything slowed down, faded into the background, and I saw red. I was only vaguely aware of Ajax charging forward, of the sparks that flew when my blade moved to block his. His next three attacks I blocked out of reflex. He moved faster than I could follow, his light armor glistening in the sun as he continued his onslaught.
We may have fought for thirty seconds, but it felt like hours. Exhaustion set in quickly and my senses returned to me as Ajax put two hands on his sword and brought it down at me. I moved my sword in front of his and heard a loud clang. Sparks flew in every direction, my entire body shook from the force of the impact, and I watched as the blade of my sword flipped through the air.
Heat spread through my torso, while the rest of my body felt cold as ice. I still gripped the hilt of my sword as I dropped to my knees. Heat gave way to searing pain; terrified, I looked down at my half of a sword and blood-stained armor. My hilt dropped to the ground as my hands instinctively moved to the long hole in my abdomen. Where my breastplate ended the chain mail had been cut through. I tried to stop the warm red liquid from spilling from my body.
I could hear voices around me, but I couldn't hear what they were saying. I struggled to keep my eyes opened and wondered if I was going to die here. A broken blade, unfit for battle and unable to carry out its purpose. No one was coming to save me, no one cared. Everything slowed down, faded into the background, and I saw red.
Today we crushed the remains [of] Hapia, the country to the north, a task we had been in pursuit of for three weeks. My task was simple: kill their entire army before they could organize a resistance. As my father's general, I was always sent into battle, so my father could focus on ruling his ever-expanding territory and grooming his birth children to continue his reign. I never failed in my missions.
Given that this is now an empire, you’re going to have to address all the problems that come with empire-building. Specifically, the relegation of power to the professional army, the bloating of bureaucracy etc. etc. Just a heads up.
My physical prowess at a young age drew attention from a special military training program. After years of training, me and forty-nine other eight-year-olds [gather] on what was supposed to be our advancement into the miliary's general ranks. I waited with baited anticipation for the king to speak.
"Welcome gifted ones," King Harold said addressing us all. "As you know you have been being[?] groomed for a command in my army. This is... mostly true. I only need one Commander though." As he spoke each of us was given a ceremonial dagger. "Let me know when there is one left. Only the strongest and most committed is worthy of it."
Tl;dr you should give worldbuilding a rethink, focus on characterisation, and try not to cover about a month’s worth of events in 3500 words
All of that was a bad idea. Take your time with these things. As a one-shot, there wasn't even a sufficient ending. What's the point?
Oh well at least I got to talk about empires vs kingdoms for a bit.
Lol. I appreciate the feedback, maybe I dialed things back too much? The idea was to get through this part to the part where she is injured. The story isn't supposed to be about the war, it's just to set up the MC as a sort of mindless killing machine and then work on character development for her as she recovers from being cut in half. I also use kingdom and empire enterchangeably which I can fix and they can all be kingdoms. More of a collection of small nations.
It is just funny because I feel like the feedback provided describes a move more towards what I originally wrote. I could probably strip out a few of the things you talk about as being repetitive and such. I also might need to smooth some of the things over with the changes that were made a bit more or expand on some areas... still needs a bit of work.
Some of your advise seems (to me) to directly conflict with previous advise, so I'll have to look at what works best, but I appreciate all the feedback. Also this is not the entire story it is the entire first chapter, or the entire story up to the main characters injury which is when this switches to less action and focuses on her recovery. That is also why they talk and fight, I get that that probably isn't realistic. It is also not realistic for a general to be on the front lines or for the army's main commander to go into a battle frenzy and get completely surrounded by the enemy without any guards or ally's. The first part is just supposed to be a build up to a one on one where she gets this injury though. I am open to better ways to do it. It also isn't a combat focused story more about her mental state and how she is doing everything without really wanting to or having a good reason to.
I did have a question based on your early feedback: did the description of Birus and the actually turnout of events answer your questions as to why I mentioned the strategy before the battle and why Birus didn't show up to help other countries? Should that all be moved up or something? I feel like I am getting a lot of comments that I think are answered later on in the story and I can't tell if it's because I'm telling things out of order or what the issue is... you said you reviewed it paragraph bu paragraph so I am courious.
The two things I'd focus on are:
1. Better characterisation and fleshing out of the world (maintaining clarity and interest)
2. Attention to the 'micro' details of writing (sentence structure, word choice)
What I suggest, is really slowing things down and reducing the scope of your introduction. Go back over the basics - we're here to setup the mood, characters, conflict and setting. And figure out how to do that. If this is an introspective story - something akin to a character study, and not about the war - is it the best idea to start in the middle of a battle? How can you get it right from the very beginning? What sort of introduction will privilege the idea of a story about someone's "mental state"? What things about this character can you setup from the beginning? What sort of conflict? Etc. etc. I don't think any sufficient answers to these questions can be found in this second draft.
Onto the 'technical' stuff. It isn't just 'technical' stuff, it's the bloody heart of the story. There's almost a lack of 'voice' in the writing. It's like someone's relaying me the plot from first person. There's no rhythm, imagery, turn of phrase, figurative language - it's devoid of the stuff that actually keeps readers hooked. Of all the feedback I've provided, that initial point about sentence structure is the most important. There's been plenty of discussion about realism etc. etc., and the conceptual whatifs. But who gives a damn if you can't articulate it in a way that's satisfying to read? There's hardly any detail; it's vague to the point of frustration. Take the dream sequence about her SLAUGHTERING of fellow eight-year olds. There's nothing visceral about it. There's no real window into how MC's past has left her the way she currently is. There's just "oh yeah and I woke up later after winning". It's so matter of fact and dry - and I'm quite certain you're not going for that type of delivery. So, I don't exactly know where I'm contradicting the other bits of advice, but I guess I'll contradict Steve here. This is not writing of competence or high quality. Don't let yourself be deluded into thinking that. Focus on the writing before the plot. Write out a beautiful introduction to the character - it could just be a tiny scene in the grand scheme of things. Show don't tell. Now, that's really harsh but I don't know how to sugarcoat it in a way that doesn't skirt around the issue.
The feedback about the whole bloodlust 'red' thing suggests this: if you don't want to write a battle scene, don't write a battle scene. If you do want to write one, don't handwave through it with "I saw red". It's absolutely unnecessary after the first time you establish that. The reason you shouldn't handwave through it is, you're really telling us jack all about this character apart from the fact that she's an uncontrollable berserker. Whereas, if you describe the way she fights - the absolutely traumatic, destructive, violent way she goes about mercilessly cleaving her enemies - there opens up an opportunity to explore the sort of impact this has on her (and maybe fix the problem of being 'bland' af). OR, you can focus more on the aftermath of her battles. That's what, I think, Steve meant.
That kingdom/empire distinction is so important, because it fucks with the scale and setting. You've got to be precise with your language, or you lose clarity and end up being confusing.
I'm wondering if there's a reason behind why you won't start after the MC's injury? That would instantly provide an avenue to setup some form of conflict from the outset, is more interesting than reading about how she absolutely rekt so and so, and bypasses all the preamble which - I think - is unnecessary.
Not sure what you mean by the description of Birus and the actual turnout of events. They were established as a Spartan state with a hero-king. I was initially confused as to whether Ajax was the king, or if they were separate entities - but when Ajax was described as a general who explicitly was not a king, that was cleared up. On a second reading, are you referring to the role of the mountainous terrain? Not sure about how that would've prevented Birus from capitalising on the situation. They were able to march their forces to the border just fine. If anything, it made me confused as to why it was called an empire in the first place, if it was a single territory hemmed in by the geography. That sense of scale - geographically - is lost on me. I did review it as I went through, so I could go over my first impressions.
Anyways, the first and second paragraphs of this thing are the most important. A way to move forward could be going back to the planning stage and writing out a character sheet, writing an overview of the setting/world. The aim is to come up with relevant (and also irrelevant) details to help flesh things out. Remember, that it's perfectly fine to have incongruities in the world-building to help it come to life.
I guess my rant's over so on that note, feel free to hmu about any other questions :)
Thanks! I feel it might be better to start after the injury. It makes a lot of the issues dissapear and gets to the part I want to focus on. This part was only to introduce the main character as a mindless killing machine that was sort of "programmed" to be that way by her father. The goal was never world creation or epic combat. I just will need to find a way to establish what she we was before the injury which I can probably do with a flashback.
Also I never said this was awesome writing with a few minor problems. The seeing red thing was a suggestion you directly contradicted, although I am not claiming I did it well or the way Steve intended. I basically deleted any combat and put the line about seeing red. Focusing on the aftermath could also work, but I would have to either only have one battle or time-skip past the battles which might feel strange.
Yeah that was more of a response to Steve's comment about giving compliments or something. An example of the aftermath battle thing done right, off the top of my head, would be the second scene (I think) in act one of 'Macbeth' - where the sergeant tells King Duncan about how Macbeth won the day. It's a play and it's all in dialogue but I think there's definitely value there.
I haven't read that in forever, but maybe I'll check it out for some tips. And I took what Steve was saying there as "you are generally a decent writer, from reading some of your story games on the website, so I don't know why you wrote this trash which is entirely bad." I could have misunderstood, but this was me copying a handwritten story from and old journal to get feedback and update, so some of my story games are better quality of writing.
If you do go back over it, take note of everything we're setup to perceive Macbeth as: physically courageous, extremely violent, prestigious member of the king's inner circle. L a y e r s man, it's impressive.
I still haven't had a chance to read much of CYS stuff but I'll be certain to watch out for your stuff when I do (in the yeah I'd like to give that a read sort of way).
Thank you for the feedback, I appreciate any and all I can get!
Also if you read something please rate and comment, again I am after feedback, even if I don't like it.