Hello there! Below is the beginning of my story The Chronicles of Keriddon. Earlier this week it was critiqued on The Author’s Chair, a blog by Bryan Davis. If you would like to read that you can go here, http://theauthorschair.com/2015/02/20/critique-group-chronicles-of-keriddon/. I have made changes since then. I hope you like it!
Tusdar stalked down the dark, narrow passageway, careful not to fall on the rough terrain. His torch illuminated dark walls mere feet on either side. The path declined steeply causing him to lean backward to keep his balance. At one point he slipped and instinctively reached to the side to stop his fall. He stopped his hand just in time, only inches from the thick dark liquid that oozed along the walls. To touch it was to die. He slowly pulled his hand back as if any sudden movement would cause the poisonous substance to spatter and burn him. He continued down the tunnel with even more caution than before.
As the tunnel leveled out and widened, Tusdar stopped before a large stone archway. He took a deep breath of the stale cave air before passing through into a large cavern. As soon as he entered, the smell of rot and decay assaulted his nose. He winced and glanced around. The cave was massive, with walls and ceiling shrouded by darkness. A table filled with hundreds of candles lit a path to a carpeted dais where sat a dark throne of black and silver marble. Torches were placed in tall stands on each side of the platform, and a dark leathery curtain hung from the ceiling behind it. On the throne sat a large humanoid figure clothed in black and silver armor. A wide hood hid his face in shadows. In his hand he held a long, wooden staff which ended in a sharp, steel blade.
Tusdar walked slowly toward the throne. “My lord Zelroth,” He said, bowing deeply. “You called?”
“Rise,” His voice was low and guttural, like the moaning of the wind; ancient as the dawn and cold as ice. At the sound of it, Tusdar’s heart froze in his chest. He stood, shivering slightly. “Long have I waited; watching from the shadows.” Lord Zelroth croaked. ” My poison has gone forth, weakening my enemies. The alliance of the Seven kingdoms has been broken and Keriddon is ready for its final destruction. Now is the time of my revenge. My victory.” Lord Zelroth stood and looked for the first time at Tusdar. The light from the torches illumined the top half of his face revealing eyes the color of blood. “Ready my army. We march to Ash Gate Pass at dawn.”
The curtain behind the dark lord vibrated and shook, seeming to come alive in the dim light. Tusdar bowed to Zelroth before hurrying out of the cavern. As he left, he was sure he heard a deep growl, like a purr of some monstrous beast.
Anna awoke with a groan, for a minute unwilling to open her eyes and face the day. She did a mental body check like she did every morning. Her neck and shoulders ached, but she was otherwise fine. She blinked open her eyes and was temporally blinded by bright sun light . Why had the servants opened the drapes already? They were supposed to wait till after she woke up. And why was her bed so incredibly hard?
As the fog around her mind cleared, she ran her fingers along her pillow. Hard, not soft. Where is my pillow? She sat up and looked around. Books and paper covered a wooden desk. Shelves lined the walls and filled the room, bursting with every kind of book imaginable.
Anna sighed. The royal library. She had come here the night before to study the history of Keriddon in hopes of finding a solution to the problems facing the kingdom today. After a while she must have drifted off. That makes it the third time this week.
A large volume of The History of Keriddon had acted as her pillow for the night, an uncomfortable substitute for the soft silk pillows she was used to.
Next to the history book was a sheet of paper containing her notes from the night before. At the top was a list of major problems and below that was a list of possible solutions. Anna picked up the sheet and read the first three entries on the problem column. War, bandits, drought. The list went on with the kingdom lesser emergencies. Anna looked down at the solution column. One entry. Peace treaty.
Anna shook her head. That was hardly likely. The pirates aren’t open to negotiation. We don’t even know why they are attacking. They can’t possibly hope to win this war. Even so, hundreds of Keriddonians had died already and thousands more would die if it didn’t end soon. And that was not something Anna could live with.
Behind Anna a door opened. She turned to see a servant poke his head into the room. When he saw her he stepped into the room waiting just inside the door for some indication he was allowed to speak. Anna rose and gestured for him to approach. “Yes?”
“I’m sorry to disturb you, my Lady.” he said meekly. “Prince Philip has requested your presence in the council chamber right away.”
Anna glanced at the water clock sitting in the corner. It was only a few minutes before eight. Something must have happened for the council to assemble this early.
“Did he say what it was about?” she asked.
“No, my Lady. Only that you were to come right away.”
“Very good. You may go.” As the servant left the room, Anna looked down at herself and winced. She was still wearing her outfit from yesterday which was now quite wrinkled. She ran her fingers through her long, thick hair. It was hopelessly tangled. “I look like I just woke up.”
For a moment she considered going by her room to change and brush her hair but then, as she remembered the servant’s words, decided against it. This wouldn’t be the first time she had showed up to a council meeting looking out of sorts and Philip would hardly care, even if he did notice. The nobles would notice. And Uncle Arnold. She frowned at that last thought then shrugged. All he could do was make one of his disparaging remarks about her. He would do that anyway.
Well, no use putting off the inevitable. She left the library and made her way down the hall toward the council chamber. Her stomach rumbled reminding her she hadn’t had breakfast. She sighed. It was going to be a long morning.