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Incomplete Chapter 1

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Old 04-29-2007, 09:32 PM
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Default Incomplete Chapter 1

I hope I am posting this in the right place... Please be aware that this is only an incomplete first draft of my novel and is nowhere near completion! I would really appreciate any help or criticism that anyone can offer me! I am really not liking the dialogue towards the end, can anyone help me to work on that? I am having trouble writing any dialogue...
Thank you and please enjoy...

Torie hummed to herself as she walked down the street from school. The sun sat high in the sky and glared at her as she began to turn down the driveway. Her family’s house stretched away before her, oblivious to the impenetrable heat. Somewhere down the street a dog barked.
It wasn’t until she was halfway down the driveway that she realised the usual black commodore wasn’t across the street. She wondered where the owners were, but pushed the thought away at the sullen squeaking of a door. It took her a moment to figure out that it was her front door, ripped from its’ hinge at the top and swinging slightly in a sudden breeze. Torie frowned. She walked cautiously towards the door, her heart racing in her chest.
Her mother’s chair lay strewn across the floor, huge gouges marking its’ leather surface. The coffee table had been thrown through the glass doors and onto the outdoor patio, the TV and cabinet were facedown on the floor and the thick wooden front door was embedded in the far wall. Blood spotted the meticulously clean tiles and a thick odour hung in the air. Gagging from the smell, Torie ran through the house in search of her family, despair settling in the pit of her stomach and a single thought racing through her mind; please don’t let him have found us, please!

She stopped in her tracks halfway down the hall at the sound of laughter. She recoiled at the disgust that stung the back of her throat at the sound. Dropping to her knees, Torie crawled the rest of the way down the hall, stopping at the corner to peer into the family room.
The room appeared completely empty except for a tall, robed figure, whose commanding air seemed to fill the room. She hesitated for a second; unsure of what to do next, when suddenly the decision was made for her. A door opened just down the hall and out strode another black-clad figure, though one less foreboding. His hands were filled with loot gathered from their rooms. Torie realised that there was no chance of her remaining hidden any longer. She leapt at the man before he saw her. The attack caught him by surprise and the pair toppled to the floor. Torie remembered something of her few tae-kwon-do lessons and rolled as she landed, springing up quickly and running for the door. She heard the man grunt as he hit the tiles, but almost immediately he was up and after her. She reached the front door, but was not fast enough. Thick hands grabbed her by the waste and pulled her backwards. Torie screamed and kicked at the man to no avail. Vice-like hands held her tightly and a gruff voice whispered in her ear.

“You can scream and fight all you want, child, but who will hear you now? Who will come? Your little friends are gone. You belong to the Great Master now” Torie screamed at him as he dragged her back down the hall to where the evil waited.

They reached the family room where the robed figure waited. Dropping the girl on the floor; her captor bowed, turned on his heel and stalked out of the room. Torie forced herself to look up into the thick, black cowl which hid his face. For long minutes, neither said a word. Torie slithered backwards a few steps and, deciding to trust her legs to hold her up, stood facing her family’s enemy. She nearly fell over again when a deep, commanding voice rolled out from under the hood.

“Do you know who I am?” the question was so unexpected that Torie took a moment before she answered.

“No. Why are you doing this to us?” That deep laugh bounced around the room once more. She was just about to ask again when something caught her eye. Three deep-red bundles lay on the floor behind the threatening man, blood-red colour seeping out of them and onto the tiles. Torie’s heart sank as the realisation dawned on her that her family meant nothing more to this murderer than a pile of filth on the floor.

One of the bundles on the floor stirred. The girl’s breath caught in her throat as her mother’s hand raised itself slowly from the floor. The figure followed her gaze and, upon catching sight of the hand, laughed again.

Anger welled up inside Torie and she lunged at him. He turned as she leapt and, with seeming ease, hurled her away from him so hard that the wall she hit splintered and cracked. Consciousness escaped her. She woke a few minutes later. The man was still standing in the centre of the room. She looked at the lump on the floor that had once been her mother and noticed a great, curving dagger now rose from her chest. Torie risked one more fleeting glance at the dark figure whose back was turned. She crawled into the kitchen, the hint of a plan forming in her mind. Her grandfather had made a knife-holder a few years back. Sneaking up to it, Torie decided that her best chance was to try fighting her way out. She grabbed the biggest knife on the shelf and crawled out of the kitchen and down the hall.

Torie peered cautiously around the corned at the front door. A shadow seemed to detach itself from the wall. Torie knew it for what it really was. The man turned suddenly to look back into the house and Torie ducked out of sight. When he turned back, she stalked up to him, knife raised. She held her breath as she neared his hiding place, ready to do whatever was necessary to get free. She raised the knife further, hesitating a moment before deciding to plunge it home. But the man suddenly turned around, grabbing her wrist and taking the knife from her. Silently, he pointed to a place behind her. The first figure was standing in the hallway. He raised his hand and the other man let go of her wrist, the knife disappearing under his cloak.

“What do you want from us?” she asked the silent figure. He did not reply.

Torie shivered as he raised a hand, the open palm facing her. She determined not to shut her eyes, to face her destiny with courage, but every muscle in her body shook and her legs threatened to collapse from under her.

Without warning, Torie began to feel something pull her, as though someone had tied a rope between her and a truck and was now taking the truck for a drive. The room seemed to spin away from her and the dark figure began lowering his hand in surprise. She felt his lackey grab her around the waist, but he could not hold her. She felt herself being pulled away from both. The man in black raised both hands this time, but still the room spun. Torie’s eyes rolled up into her head and she fell, losing consciousness for the second time that day.

* * *

Sunlight filtered softly down through the gentle trees, illuminating the many magnificent hues. Butterflies played in the reflections and small birds flitted swiftly through the great and majestic trees that had inhabited this land since the beginning of time. Logain stood in the shadows of a small clearing, arms raised towards the rising sun as it began its slow and graceful ascent of the sky, waiting until the warmth touched his fingers, spreading through his tired body and regenerating him from the efforts of the previous night’s summoning. It wasn’t until the sun reached his toes that he began to stir, as though just waking from a long dream. He slowly lowered him arms and opened his eyes to the beauty that surrounded him. His bones tingled with the magic that had been rejuvenated by the energy of the great sun and the gentle, soothing trees helped to calm him, lessening his need for sleep.

Logain turned on the spot, carefully searching the edge of the clearing for the one who had followed him the night before. He found Turin sleeping softly in the protective embrace of a great old oak. The boy still seemed unaware of his master’s awakening, even though he should have felt the stirring of magic in the old druid. Shaking his head he walked towards the young elf. He was standing above him when, to his great surprise, the boy suddenly spoke.

“Is it done?” he opened his piercing blue elven eyes and stared at the astonished druid. Logain smiled in spite of himself. He has come far, the druid thought to himself, but has he come far enough?

“It is done. For the moment, we may rest, but soon we shall have to set out. In the meantime, I could do with a little food and some sleep.” Turin stood and smiled, brushing himself off as they headed back to the small village for breakfast.

* * *

Torie groaned and sat up. Her head throbbed and her body ached. Wow, I must have had a big night last night.

Dark auburn hair fell around her shoulders, framing an oval face. Eyes whose colour seemed to change with her mood matched the look.

Somewhere overhead a bird chirped in the rising sunlight. Torie’s eyes sprang open in surprise at the sound. Sharp, stabbing shards of sunlight pierced her brain. The girl cursed and fell over. Something crinkled under her body as she moved and, carefully this time, Torie opened her eyes, her fingers searching for the elusive object. They closed around something sharp and spiky. Torie raised it in front of her face. It was a pine-needle.

Huh? What the…? She raised herself onto one elbow, peering at the forest that encircled her. When her headache had subdued to a minor throb, Torie gently climbed to her feet. Every muscle screamed at the effort, but curiosity won out in the end. Leaning on a tree to steady herself, Torie looked around at the small clearing in which she had woken. Thick, ancient-looking trees with moss covered trunks stood as silent sentinels at the edges, protecting the leaf-covered ground. And, sitting almost peacefully in the centre of the clearing was Torie’s back-pack.

The sight of the bag brought memories of the day before flooding into the girl’s mind. A series of images flashed through her head, words ringing in her ears. Shock seemed to grip her and she sunk back to the ground, dropping her head into her hands. Only once the violent onslaught had subsided would Torie look up. Tears streamed unchecked down her face and silent sobs wracked her body. Shaking her head to clear it of the lingering images, she stood and walked over to her bag. Slinging it onto her back and hardening her resolve she set off, determined to find the men responsible for the murder of her family.

* * *

Several hours later, the scenery still had not changed. Dismayed, Torie collapsed onto the ground, reaching for her water bottle. Little remained, even though she had followed strict rationing. Torie had followed the sun as it trekked Westward across the sky, expecting to come across some sort of human habitation, or, at the least, a fence or set of powerlines to follow. As it was, she could think of no forest near her place that was this big. So, unless she was walking in circles, she was a long way from home.

The walk had managed to stretch out her aching muscles, for which she was thankful. Her headache had also gone, leaving the images from the day before free to float around her mind. Torie’s thoughts suddenly stopped on an anomaly. Where were the owners of the black commodore? Why weren’t they outside? What could have made them leave, allowing the enemy entrance into her home?

Confusion dominated her thoughts once more. Torie shook her head, leaning back against a tree. She had just begun to doze off when a shark crack pierced the air, followed quickly by a haggard, half human scream. Leaping to her feet, Torie grabbed her bag and ran towards the sound. The screaming had subsided, only to be replaced by the sounds of a struggle. Suddenly cautious, the girl slowed her pace, trying to avoid making any noise. The trees seemed to open before her onto a vast clearing, lined by a small, clear blue stream. If it wasn’t for the stream, Torie would have sworn it was the one she had woken up in. it seemed peaceful enough, except for the large, brilliantly white horse standing in the centre of the clearing. He stood taller than an average horse, with broad shoulders that any ancient warhorse would have envied. The only difference was the great, white wings which sprouted from his shoulders, flapping wildly in his apparent distress. Torie blinked, tearing her eyes away from the wings. Her gaze fell upon the horse’s leg, which was ensnared in the sharp jaws what appeared to be a bear-trap. Luckily, the teeth didn’t appear to have broken the skin, but that didn’t mean that the bones weren’t broken. Deciding that she couldn’t leave him there, where he was just out of reach of the water, Torie moved forwards, arms extended before her. A stick crunched beneath her feet and the agitated creature looked up, screaming at the sight of her. It barred its teeth menacingly, flaring its’ wings and stomping the hoof which wasn’t in the trap. Torie hesitated before moving forwards again, speaking softly in a vain attempt to calm the horse.
“Its ok, just calm down, I’m just going to remove the trap. Just stand still and don’t bi-YAA!” she jumped back as the teeth missed her face by inches. Unperturbed, she moved forwards again, taking her jacket off and preparing for another attack. She waited as the teeth moved towards her again, and then threw the jacket over the horse’s face, tying it on so that he couldn’t see her. Silently thanking her Uncle Tom for his teachings so many years before, she stepped back, allowing the disturbed creature some time to calm down. He flapped his wings and stomped his hoofs, all the while flicking his head back and forth in obvious agitation. Suddenly, he stopped moving. He stood stock still, in the centre of the clearing, every muscle twitching. Torie moved forward cautiously, trying not to disturb him. Once she was close, she dropped down to look at the trap. Knowing that they always had a release mechanism, she began searching for one, all the while speaking softly to the horse, unwilling to spook him again.

Torie found the release, pushing down on the lever to release the hoof. The trap had barely removed its' teeth when the horse moved. The girl didn’t even have time to react, let alone block the attack. The hoof caught her in the stomach, hard enough to knock her backwards onto the ground, winding her. She lay still for a few minutes, trying to catch her breath. When she could breathe again, she rolled over onto her stomach, pushing herself to her knees. Something hit her in the middle of her back, knocking her to the ground and winding her again. Looking back over her shoulder, Torie saw the horse standing above her, the jacket gone from his face. He snorted. Fear constricted Torie’s chest as he raised his hoof once more. She curled herself into a ball, waiting for the fatal blow. But it did not come. Instead, she felt something soft brush against her check and, looking up, found herself staring into the intelligent pools of his eyes. He pulled his head back, allowing her to stand. She rose shakily to her feet, careful to keep an eye on the horse. But he did not attack. He simple stood, watching her, as though he knew she was not a threat. Torie saw that the trap was gone and silently thanked the gods that she would not have to remove it. Stalking back to the centre of the clearing, she picked up her jacket and bag, preparing to continue on her journey. She had barely even reached the items when a voice seemed to ring through the clearing.

Stop. Who are you?

Torie froze, every nerve tingling. She turned in a slow circle, taking in every tree, every bush, yet saw no-one. Shaking her head and telling herself it was her imagination, she picked up her bag and swung it over her shoulder.

- Why do you not speak? Or can you not hear me, human? -

Torie stopped again, this time turning to stare at the horse. He had not moved. She shook her head. He’s a horse, she thought. Though, he does have wings. Experimentally, she looked at him and spoke.

“My name is Torie.” she stared at the horse, unable to drag her eyes away. Before she could stop, the words spilled from her mouth; “What are you?”

- I am Axysriahtrah, last of the Pegasus race. If not for you, there may have been no more of the Pegasus. I owe you my life. – He dropped into a graceful bow, dipping his head in her direction. Torie gaped at him.

“This is ridiculous! I am lost in the forest, talking to a horse with wings! What is going on here?” Torie’s voice had risen to a yell. The Pegasus simply looked at her. She threw her hands up in the air in exasperation.

- I am not a horse. I owe you a debt of life, how may I repay you? –Torie raised her eyebrows and sat heavily upon the ground.

“I don’t know. Is there a town anywhere near here?”

- There is a small village. I believe the Druid still resides there with his apprentice. It will take us a day, if we travel quickly.- Torie leapt to her feet, not even caring to ask what a druid was.

“Well, let’s go!” but he simply shook his head.

- Not tonight. We must sleep. – And with that he sat upon the ground and curled into a ball. Torie realised that the sun had dipped behind the trees and darkness had begun to creep out of its small daytime hiding places to envelope the thick trees. The air was void of all sound. Torie shivered as the heavy darkness brought with it a deep cold, chilling to the bone. She settled down onto the ground in the bole of an old tree, huddling into it to keep warm. Within minutes she was asleep.

* * *

Logain gazed at the forbidding forest in disdain. He had always thought it a thing of beauty and grace, something to be respected, yet at that moment, he wished nothing more than for each tree to disappear. His old bones ached and worry creased his brow. If we fail now, when we are this close… He could not make himself finish the thought.

Turin watched as his master finally turned from the trees. Lines of worry marred his already aged face and a great weight seemed to have settled itself on his shoulders. The boy wished he could help in some way, yet he knew his master would not allow it.

“Do not worry, Master Logain,” he called, the smile of a boy on his face. “We will find her. This was only one day, there will be plenty more! Now, lets get in out of the cold.” He steered the old Druid by the shoulders, resisting the urge to take one last look over his shoulder in worry as he led the man inside their hut.

* * *

Torie stood in the middle of a thick, black fog, the heavy shroud lying across her like a second skin. She could barely see her own hands in front of her face, let alone much else in this dreaded place. Her fingers trailed down her side to the empty belt, a longing for the great sword which usually hung there entering her very bones. A strange tingling sensation touched her shoulders and she spun, her every sense searching for the ever elusive danger, lurking in the shadows just beyond sight.

Torie suddenly realised that she was not afraid. Fear was not writhing around in her stomach, rather it had been replaced by… emptiness. It was as though something was missing. She put a hand up to her chest, against her heart and when she drew it away, it was coated in thick, red blood. Her blood. Her very life was seeping out of her. Torie drew a ragged breath and turned, her heart fluttering its final beat as she watched the fog part and a dark shadow glide towards her. It was black beyond black, seeming to swallow everything in its path. And it was headed right for her. A small smile touched the girl’s lips and she stretched her arms wide, welcoming the shadow of death to her.

Something sharp stabbed into Torie’s side and her eyes flew open, her heart racing as she fought for a breath. She felt as though she was suffocating, unable to draw breath. Bright colours pierced her eyes and the world swam in her vision. Slowly the images collated into bright greens and browns, shades of which she had never seen before. Sounds of birds reached her ears and overhead, a butterfly fluttered along on silent wings. And, standing over her almost protectively, was Axysriahtrah. Torie’s body slowly began to relax, but her mind would not rest. The dream replayed itself over and over in her mind, every thought and feeling as real to her as though she were experiencing it all. The dream had been too real, too vivid. Something inside her said that if Axysriahtrah had not woken her, she would have surrendered to death then and there.

– Are you fully awake? -

“Yes.” Torie was surprised to hear a steady, strong voice from her mouth. “Yes, thank you. Are we leaving now?” The Pegasus continued to watch her, not moving. “Ax? Can you please move so I can get up?” Only then did he step back.

- You were distressed. That was why I woke you. I could feel your pain, yet you lay completely still. Do you wish to tell me of it? -

Torie stared at him. How could he feel my pain? She thought to herself. Shaking her head she rose to her feet, her muscles screaming in protest.

The village is North-East of here. If we travel fast we may make it by nightfall. – And with that he turned and trotted off into the trees, leaving a startled Torie following in his wake. They had only gone a few steps when Torie stopped, unasked questions bubbling in her mind for priority. Ax stopped and turned back to the girl.

– Is something wrong? –

“Yeah. How could you feel my pain?” he stared at her for a few minutes before finally answering.

I am not sure. I woke to the feeling of pain and, upon realising that it was not my own, woke you. It seems I can sense your feelings. – Torie’s puzzlement must have shown on her face, for her laughed. – For example, now I can sense your confusion. I can also feel a cut on your right shoulder. I cannot explain this, you are the first human I have encountered with which I share this ability. Can you sense my feelings? -

Torie reached behind her and let her fingers play along the cut she had received from the fight the day before as she pondered his question. She realised that she could sense his feelings, but more, she could actually feel him. She delved further into this and found herself looking at herself. Surprised, she pulled back from the connection. Ax shivered. Torie reached out once more into Ax’s mind, but instead found him already in hers. She forced him out without thinking, realising soon after that she had just been about to do the same thing.

“Sorry.” she apologised. “You kinda scared me a bit then. Wow, this is, this is weird.”

– I agree. We should keep this to ourselves, at least until we reach the druid. I also think we should continue to explore this new talent, find out exactly what we can do. Come, we have a long walk ahead of us already, without standing around all day. – They set off into the trees once more.

The forest seemed to come to life with the rising sun. Birds began to sing and flit through the trees and animals came out of their night-time hiding places to greet the new day. Torie couldn’t help but be amazed with the scenery around her as they trudged through the densely packed forest. The sunlight reflected off the leaves, giving the place an odd green hue that made it seem very surreal. She trudged along after Ax’s retreating form, silent and content within her mind and the new retreat that she found in the peaceful forest. They walked for three hours before Ax finally stopped and announced a break. Torie objected at first, but Ax was determined not to wait until later.

– We shall not be stopping now until we reach the village. –

Torie asked why but he didn’t answer, merely repeated the fact. After only half an hour, they moved again. Torie began to notice a gradual change in the surrounding forest. At first it was only a subtle hint at something different, an odd tree here or there, but soon the change became apparent. They had entered a marsh. Suddenly Torie realised why Ax was reluctant to stop here. The ground began to soften under foot, soon turning into a slushy mud that got into all the cracks of the girl’s shoes, the trees became twisted knots that were scattered across the landscape, far enough apart that Torie could count to ten between them. A thick, brownish fog swirled around her waist and the air carried the foul odours of things long since dead and rotted.

“What is this place?” She asked in a harsh whisper. The sound seemed to hang in the heavy air. The girl was tempted to raise a hand and push the words away from her mouth. After a few minutes Ax finally answered.

– The Rouges call this the Land of the Dead. This is where they bring those considered guilty of vicious crimes. Those who return are innocent. Not many return. – Torie suddenly realise she had stopped moving. Shaking her head, she moved forward again. – It is also said that the dead haunt these marshes. They believe it is the gateway into the underworld. It is also believed that the gateway is not just one-way. –

Torie suddenly felt an itch between her shoulders, as though something was watching the pair from the shadows. A thick, dark fog had crept up on them while they spoke and soon, Torie could only see the Pegasus’s outline.

– Do not speak until I say it is safe to do so. Strange creatures inhabit this land. Try to be as silent as you can. –

Torie nodded, though she knew he could not see her. The fog suddenly seemed to open in front of her, revealing the glossy black waters of the gateway. The fog seemed to hang a foot off the water, twisting and swirling as though held back by an invisible barrier. No sunlight shone here, though there were no trees to block the light. Suppressing a shudder, Torie hurried to catch up with Ax.

They were halfway around the lake when Torie heard a strange noise. It seemed to ring through the silence, making her jump in surprise. She turned back to the water, yet it was as smooth as ever, not a ripple marring its glassy surface. Torie turned to call to Ax, but his warning reverberated through her skull and she held her tongue.

Torie hesitated, waiting to see if the sound repeated itself, but the air remained devoid of all sounds. After a few seconds she turned and began following Ax out of this place. She had only taken one step when a long, slime coated tentacle shot out of the water and latched onto her ankle, pulling her back towards the water.

Torie screamed, alerting Ax to the danger as another of the great arms reached for him. The Pegasus leapt into the air, great wings carrying him out over the water to where the girl hung. It only took a few seconds to reach her and, summoning all his strength, he slammed his full body into the tentacle holding the girl’s ankle. The arm shuddered under his unexpected attack, yet it did not slow. Rather, it dragged her through the air faster, towards the writhing mass in the centre of the lake, the source of the tentacled attack.

Ax swung around and attacked again, this time succeeding in stopping the arm. Gathering himself for another attack, he didn’t notice the tentacle that shot out of the water, catching him on the rump and knocking him sideways. Before he could recover, another of the arms hit him around the middle, throwing him backwards into a great old Oak. Torie watched in despair as his limp body slammed into the thick trunk with a sickening crunch before slumping heavily to the ground in a lifeless heap. She screamed at him, but he lay unmoving against the base of the tree.

Torie’s attention turned back to her captor as a sickening growl broke through the water, followed closely by something from a horror movie. Twisting around for a better view, Torie screamed. A great, grey head broke the surface of the lake, its big, round mouth open and revealing row upon row of sharp, pointed teeth. A single eye seemed misplaced beside that mouth. An eye which was focused upon her. Torie screamed with renewed fear and horror, struggling violently against the creature. An idea formed in her mind, but was discarded when she saw her bag, dropped when the attack had begun, lying in the shallow waters near the bank.

Torie was still struggling for freedom when the first arrow struck the thing’s thick hide, just below her ankle. A second arrow struck so soon after, that Torie didn’t even see it move. The third arrow was her ticket to freedom. It struck the eye with a strangely satisfying sound and the great ball exploded like a balloon filled with custard. Torie was thrown into the murky waters of the marsh as the creature screamed in fury and pain, lashing out at its new attacker. Struggling through a sea of tentacles and slime, Torie finally managed to reach the shore. Struggling up onto the dirt, she found her bag. She glanced at her rescuer who was now fighting off the tentacles with a short sword and, pulling open her bag to look for a weapon, she struggled to her feet to help.

Torie’s hand’s clasped around her deodorant can and her original idea returned. Struggling to find her other weapon, Torie dropped the bag and ran into the water towards the nearest of the slimy tentacles. Her rescuer was yelling something at her, but she didn’t listen.
Reaching her target, Torie raised the deodorant can and a lighter she had found on her way home, and pointed them in the direction of the tentacle. Her homemade flamethrower idea worked as the slime on the creature’s tentacle went up like a house on fire. Another of the tentacles shot in Torie’s direction, knocking her backwards out of the water and into her rescuer. They both jumped back to their feet to watch as the flames raced from one tentacle to the other, all headed for the same destination: the creature’s head. One of the flame riddled tentacles whipped in their direction as though for a last attack and Torie threw up her hands. The tentacle exploded in mid-air, coating everything in thick slime. With a final scream of pain and fury, the terrifying creature sunk back into the cool waters of the marsh.

The girls’ legs gave way and she sunk to the ground, her lungs screaming for air and her body shaking with every breath. She looked across at the man who had helped free her from the creature. He too had sunk to the ground, his hands flaying lightly over Ax as though the great Pegasus would wake at his light touch. Remembering Ax’s confession of feeling her pain, Torie reached out with her mind and felt his, his pain leaping across the connection and into her body. The sudden flood of it forced a small cry from her mouth and the man turned towards her, half rising as though to see to her. She waved him off and crawled over to Ax. She sent a thought across the link to him, willing him to wake. When there was no response, she opened herself further to his pain, feeling it flow into her own body. She had taken in as much as she could when Ax’s eyes suddenly opened and he spoke.

– Thank you. If you can hold the pain a little longer, I will be able to rise and we can leave this cursed place. – Torie, unable to speak, nodded. She looked across at the man, who had so far remained silent.

“Thank you.” She croaked. Clearing her throat, she tried again. “Thank you.”

“Are you alright? You are not hurt?” Torie shook her head, not trusting her voice. “Good. What were the two of you doing out here, anyway?” Torie looked at him and swallowed before answering.

“We were heading for a small village somewhere near here. He was taking me there, as payment for saving his life.” She stopped, a sudden thought crossing her mind. “What were you doing out here?” She watched the man intently, but his face revealed nothing of his thoughts.
“I heard your screams and headed in this direction. I was hunting.” Torie frowned, not sure whether to believe him or not. The conversation stopped as Ax suddenly rose to his feet. Shaking himself lightly, he took a tentative step forward.

-I think I can walk now. How do you feel? Release the connection slowly as we walk, until you have completely lost it. I cannot take it all now. –

*- I’m ok, I can walk with the pain. this man saved our lives, but I think he’s hiding something. We should just go, before something else happens.- Ax began to walk slowly into the forest. Torie turned to her rescuer once more before following.

“Thank you for saving my life. All I’ve got is some pretty worthless items, but you’re welcome to them if you want?” he shook his head.

“All I ask is that you allow me to accompany the two of you to the Village. I have a hut near there and would appreciate the company. Do you go to visit someone?” Torie looked across at Ax who had stopped to wait for her.

“No; no-one in particular. You’re welcome to join us if you want.” With that she turned and followed the Pegasus out of the marsh.

The small group walked for most of the day, stopping for short breaks when the pain became too much for either Ax or Torie. Torie did as Ax asked and slowly released their connection throughout the day, until by the time the sun had disappeared behind the trees she no-longer felt his pain. Weariness gripped her body and she stumbled over hidden obstacles. The man caught her as she fell a few times, heaving her back to her feet and pointing her after Ax. Torie’s legs were threatening to give out on her when he finally called a halt for the night. Too weary to argue, the girl and pegasus collapsed heavily to the ground. Their companion made a quick meal of a hare he had caught earlier and, not long after finishing the meal, Torie was fast asleep.

* * *

Torie stood in the middle of a thick, black fog, the heavy shroud lying across her like a second skin. She could barely see her own hands in front of her face, let alone much else in this dreaded place. Her fingers trailed down her side to the empty belt, a longing for the great sword which usually hung there entering her very bones. A strange tingling sensation touched her shoulders and she spun, her every sense searching for the ever elusive danger, lurking in the shadows just beyond sight.

Torie suddenly realised that she was not afraid. Fear was not writhing around in her stomach, rather it had been replaced by… emptiness. It was as though something was missing. She put a hand up to her chest, against her heart and when she drew it away, it was coated in thick, red blood. Her blood. Her very life was seeping out of her. Torie drew a ragged breath and turned, her heart fluttering its final beat as she watched the fog part and a dark shadow glide towards her. It was black beyond black, seeming to swallow everything in its path. And it was headed right for her. A small smile touched the girl’s lips and she stretched her arms wide, welcoming the shadow of death to her.

Torie woke, drenched in sweat and shivering despite the warmth. Forcing herself to calm down, she rolled to her feet.

“Bad dreams?” The girl jumped, barely stifling a small scream as the man rose slowly from the shadows. Willing her heart to settle back into her chest, she nodded. “Sorry, I did not mean to startle you. I just thought it would be a good idea to have a watch and, since the two of you seemed incapable of keeping yourselves awake for very long, I decided that I would do it. Are you alright?” he stepped towards her as she collapsed back to the ground.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She lied. The world swam and her vision blurred. It had seemed as though someone had just taken Torie’s legs out from under her as she stood. Sharp pain ran through her body and darkness threatened to overcome her. Torie fought it off, struggling to retain her consciousness as it threatened to slip away from her. She was vaguely aware of her companion lowering her to the ground and calling for Ax. Just as she was beginning to loose the battle, Ax entered her mind, lending her his strength and helping her stay awake. Clinging to the link, Torie slowly pulled herself back from the blackness. Once she was strong enough, she let Ax go, releasing him to his own mind. She relaxed herself against the man’s chest, letting him cradle her for a few minutes. Finally she pushed herself away from his embrace, not yet daring to stand.

“What happened?” she asked.

“You just collapsed. How do you feel now?” Concern reflected in his eyes.

“Collapsed? All I remember is… blackness. It was like something was trying to… steal my mind or something. I don’t know how to explain it.” Torie shook her head. blackness still lingered at the edge of her vision.

“Here, have something to eat. It will make you feel better.” The man handed her some hare and sat back to watch her eat. He was right, the food helped. They sat in silence for a few more minutes before Torie announced that the others may as well try getting some sleep.
“I’ll keep watch for now” She said in response to their protests. “I’m not really that tired anymore, anyway.” The pair watched her as she settled down to the now-small fire, her back against a small tree.

“Dawn is only a few hours away, wake me if you wish to sleep.” And with that, Ax and their mysterious companion settled down to sleep.

* * *

Daylight seeped slowly through the trees the following morning, bringing with it the sound of the thousand animals of the forest. The fire had burnt down through the night and Torie, content with the darkness, had let it settle to embers. The night had passed peacefully enough after the nightmare. Nothing had disturbed the peace, save for a lone fox and her cub, out hunting in the cover of the darkness, scurrying off into the trees at the scent of the humans. Torie vaguely wondered at when she should wake her companions, but her question was answered for her when they both stirred, rolling slowly to their feet.


– Is it? Did you sleep? – Torie shook her head and climbed to her feet, helping their silent companion dispose of the evidence of the fire.

“Why are we hiding the fire?”

“It is our duty to dispose of our mess. This place was here before us, we are intruders in her beauty, therefore, we shall leave her as we found her.” He dug a small hole and buried the fire. He then covered their sleeping areas with leaves and twigs from the surrounding area until you would never have known they had been there.

“Wow. You’re good at covering your tracks.” He didn’t give any indication that he had even heard her. “How far is this village?”

“Less than a days walk from here. We should be there just after midday if we leave now.” With that he slung his bow onto his shoulder and strode off into the forest. Ax snorted and followed after him, leaving Torie to catch them up.

* * *

They walked in silence for the trip, each keeping to themselves for the first two hours. Getting bored, Torie decided to try working on her link with Ax, using her mind to call him. They experimented with the link for a few hours, passing the time until Ax declared he would go no further.

“Ax says he won’t go any further.” Her companion simply nodded and crouched on the ground while the pair parted.

– If you encounter any problems, I shall not be far from here, however, I shall not set foot in that village while the hunters still reside in it. Be careful who you trust. –

What do you mean? – Ax merely shook his head and snorted. Torie sighed and watched as he trotted off into the trees, soon lost among their endless pathways.

“Come, we are not far now.” The man stood and turned in the direction they had been heading.
“Wait. I don’t even know your name yet.” The man stopped. After a few seconds he turned to look her in the eyes.

“A name is a dangerous tool. If you are sure…?” Torie looked at him, sure now that the man was hiding something. She nodded. “Raoul. My name is Raoul.”

“Torie. And thank you.” He inclined his head slightly before turning and once more striding off into the trees, leaving the girl to catch up.

* * *

The trees opened abruptly onto a large clearing. At first, Torie thought it was filled with small hills, and then she realized that these were actually houses, created to look so like the forest surrounding them that they could easily be mistaken for nothing more than dirt mounds. The place had the feel of a retreat, hidden away from the prying eyes of the rest of the world. She jumped as a man suddenly appeared next to them.

“Raoul.” His greeting was cautious and his eyes never strayed from that of Torie’s companion.

“Raiden.” Raoul’s face didn’t change, yet his voice suggested an enmity towards the new visitor.

“You should not have returned.”

“I was not guilty.”

“We shall leave that for the druid to decide. Your return has changed things.” With that he turned and strode off through the small village. Raoul glanced at Torie before motioning her to follow.

“What was that all about?” she asked in a hushed voice. “Guilty? Guilty of what?”

“Now is not the time, nor the place. I will take you to the druid.” With that he quickened his pace, leaving the confused girl to jog to catch up. Minutes later they stopped outside the largest of the huts Torie had seen. It was set back among the trees and, though larger than any of the others, was well hidden. Raoul strode through the open door without hesitation. Torie waited a few seconds to see if he would return before deciding to follow him.

The inside of the hut was surprisingly spacious. A table and chairs sat beside an open window, littered with open books and papers with hand-written notes and diagrams. Ink pots and ancient-looking quills littered the papers, adding to the seeming confusion. A large, oak bookshelf stood in a corner, its’ shelves overflowing with more books and even a few old scrolls. Star-charts and astrological symbols decorated the wooden walls and simple candle-lanterns hung from the roof. Torie felt as though she had stepped into another realm, an ancient scholars’ house, filled with the marvels of their life’s work. Walking over to the table, Torie sifted through the papers, amazement at the intricacy of the drawings and the neatness of the hand showing on her face. The drawings depicted animals and birds, and even a few insects, which Torie suspected had all come from hours of intense study in the surrounding forest. She recognised a few of the pictures, marvelling at the attention to detail. It was as though each feather had been drawn in its place, each blade of fur where it was supposed to be.

The notes seemed to be a complex combination of magic spells, offerings to gods and rituals marked for various times of the year. Some were listings of herbs and plants, with instructions written below for how to create a bone-strengthening draught, a powerful sleeping draught, and even things like healing open wounds and mending broken bones. Others spoke of incantations to cause a slight shower, call a certain creature to you and to encourage the rapid growth of plants. Torie found something which seemed to resemble a calendar; however the months were all different, each being dedicated to some sort of god or deity. And, listed in each of the months were the various rituals and sacrifices to be made to the god of that month and their reason. Torie began to feel like Alice, lost in her own little wonderland of excitement. She had just turned to examine on of the star-charts when a crystal voice rang out behind her.

“Master Logain will see you now.” The man looked only young, yet his eyes held the wisdom of age. Torie couldn’t help but stare. He was tall, taller than the average man and as thin as a post, with long, elegant fingers, unadorned save for a single small silver ring. Long, golden-blonde hair fell to past his shoulders, two twin braids starting at his temples and travelling around to the back of his head completing the look. His intelligent, piercing blue eyes watched patiently as Torie walked across the room, seeming to hold her gaze with ease. He was the most beautiful man she had ever seen, seeming to have been carved to perfection by the gods he seemed to worship. He turned as Torie reached him and led her down a narrow hallway and into a back room of the hut. It was then that Torie noticed his ears. They were pointed, curving upwards at the top, just as in the old folk-stories about elves and faerie.

What have I stepped into? She wondered as she entered the small room. The man/elf bowed silently and turned to leave the room.

“You may stay, Turin. You deserve to be here for this.” It was then that Torie noticed they were not alone in the room. Leaning against the opposite wall was Raoul, trying to appear at ease, yet the tenseness across his shoulders shouted otherwise. Seated behind an elegantly carved redwood desk was an old man, his long grey hair falling just short of Turin’s, yet his beard far outdoing the length of even the girl’s hair. He wore plain, grey robes, typical of those you would expect a wizard in a children’s movie to wear, and a long, pale grey staff leant against the desk beside him, completing the “wise old wizard” look. His gnarled hands lay folded upon the desk, but the whiteness of his knuckles gave away his tenseness. The air was thick with the tension as Torie took another step into the room. She felt like she was walking through thick mud.

“Come in, child, come in. take a seat. Would you like some tea?” The question was so unexpected that Torie simply stared at the man. He gestured towards the chair once more and Torie sat, feeling like someone put up on public display. He held the tea pot aloft before her and Torie shook her head, not yet trusting to speak. Putting the tea pot down, the old man turned his dark eyes upon her once more. For long minutes no-one spoke. Torie was sure that no-one even breathed. She felt like she was under inspection, and had not a clue as to why. Finally, the old man broke the silence.

“Yes. Yes, this is her.” he looked at Torie as he spoke, yet it was Turin who answered.

“You’re sure? Then it worked. We are to be saved.” A smile broke his beautiful features, only assisting to improve them even more.

“Not yet, Turin, not yet. There is still a long way to go yet, much to be done.” Torie, still confused, looked from one to the other, as though searching for some clue as to what still had to be done.

“Excuse me?” the pair finally turned to her. “Are you the ‘druid’? Can you tell me where I am and how I can get home?” The old druid looked at her for a few moments before answering.

“Yes, I am Logain, the last Druid of the Ancient Order, protectors of the land and keepers of the knowledge.
Turin here is my apprentice. And I am sure you know all about Raoul.” He said the last with a hint of distaste. “You are in the RogueVillage, hidden deep within the Annoura forest, south of Caloran, land of men. This world is called Telépedae. Your home is many tens of thousands of miles from here, I am afraid.” Torie stared at him. Did this crazy old man really believe he lived on another world? Shaking her head, the girl began to laugh.

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to upset you or burst your little bubble, but you’re crazy! All I want to know is the quickest way back to civilization, so if you could point me in the right direction, I’ll be on my way.”

“I am afraid that is not possible. It may be difficult to comprehend, but please try. You must understand how important you are to the people of this world. You see, I believe that you are to be our saviour –“

“Saviour?” The druid looked irritated at the girl’s interruption.

“Yes. I am now going to tell you the story of your ancestor, and your inheritance. It is a rather long story, so please try to contain your interruptions until I have finished.” He glared at her under his thick eyebrows. Torie shifted under the gaze, unsure of why she felt as though she should be apologising. After a few moments, Logain began.

“Two thousand years ago, this land was free from all tyrannies and evil. We had almost no crime and the people were happy. They had lived in peace for a very long time. Then, one day, a man came to the capital city, claiming to be a great and powerful sorcerer. He claimed that he served one so powerful that the gods themselves feared him. He commanded the peoples of this world to bow and proclaim their undying loyalty to his master. Obviously, the people of this world did not believe this man. They believed that the druids could protect them from any evil trying to poison our lands. And believe me, the druids did try. They fought against the uprising of this monster for so long that they were all but wiped out. It appeared that this master was indeed of great power, for he commanded an army greater than any before. He hadn’t even arrived in our world and yet so many had died! When he did finally arrive here, many had already stooped to serve him. Slowly, the peoples were converted, willingly or unwillingly, into the service of this demi-god. Sorcery of any kind was outlawed and all caught practicing magic were killed without trial. It became a massacre. So many innocent people were killed, all because they disliked the wrong people. The slavery continued for near fifty years. Those of the druids who had survived prayed to the gods to deliver us. They had all but given up hope when one day one of them was contacted by Lhunmareth, the goddess of warfare herself. She told him that she was breaking all their laws by speaking to him, but it was necessary. She told him of the monster who ruled their land. He was the son of the god of the underworld, created to rule all the lands for the god whom could not. She told the druid that this made him nigh invincible and only one equal to him in strength could hope to defeat him. She had argued with the other gods for years over a course of action, but the others all believed that they must not interfere. So she chose to communicate with the druid in the hope that the others would cast her down to the earth, stripping her of her goddess status, but not her powers. Her gamble paid off. Days later, she was found by the druid, wandering with little memory. He began teaching her all he knew, hoping to one day make her strong enough to defeat the Dark Lord. The other druids also took part in the instruction. Unfortunately, their coven was discovered and all but the one with whom the goddess had spoken died. He took her deep into the Annoura forests, there encountering the rogues. They swore to follow her into battle, into hell itself if she so commanded it. With their help, they managed to build up a great army, working in secret, undiscovered by the agents of the Dark Lord until it was too late. An alliance of men, elves and dwarves marched against the Dark Lord, challenging him in the centre of this land, where now stands the capital city of Durlhach, a constant reminder to the sacrifices made by those men and women. Lhunmareth and the Dark Lord fought that day. The battle raged around them as their magic struggled to consume each other. Lhunmareth was finally struck down by the Dark Lord and, near to death, cast her last spell. She locked him into a magic-woven cage, banishing him to limbo, the space between heaven and hell. He was not alive, and could not harm us any longer, but nor was he dead, merely suspended until one powerful enough could release him. The goddess died that day, and was buried deep within the mountains, her tomb locked away within a great maze. Locked away with her is the great sword she wielded. She knew that her solution was only temporary and wanted to ensure that only one worthy of the task could bear the great sword when the time came. That time is now upon us. The Dark Lord’s original human servant has returned once more, commanding the peoples of this world to bow to his master. It has been a long time, but it appears that the demi-god is once more about to release himself upon this world. Many still do not believe the omens nor the warnings, which is why the Calina’rau still hunt us. The practice of burning all with magical ability has not stopped over the years, even though the many have tried to outlaw it."

This is as far as I can go, from here I get stuck as to how I can finish the work! As I said at the beginning, any help with the dialogue would be much appreciated! Any help at all would be awesome! I hope you have enjoyed it so far, and yes, there is more, but that is also not finished yet and I'd like to finish this chapter before posting the next one. Thank you for reading my work!

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Old 05-01-2007, 07:10 AM
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Tis a long one EG! I tell you what...I'll crit the first 3000 words and I'll I read through the rest and give you some general comments. I can't give a full critique as its about 7000 words too long.
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Old 05-01-2007, 04:39 PM
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Default Critique

Originally Posted by starpanda View Post
Tis a long one EG! I tell you what...I'll crit the first 3000 words and I'll I read through the rest and give you some general comments. I can't give a full critique as its about 7000 words too long.

Thanks Starpanda, I know it's pretty long, I was really only hoping for a basic critique or general comments anyway, so anything you can do would be really awesome! If you could focus on some of my dialogue that would be really helpful, but I do understand that you're busy, so don't feel like you have to put too much effort in!! Thanks again for agreeing to read some of it though!

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Old 05-09-2007, 07:39 AM
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I will get to post up my comments soon, I promise!
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