1. - Top - End - #50
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Alright, I've finally got a story to post, so I guess I'll take the 8th slot.

    I'm going to ask for something a bit interesting here. This story is based off the *setting* I used for a poem I was forced to write for English class. So I wrote the story kind of randomly, just using whatever came to mind. As such, I don't have many ideas about the plot or characters. So I'm mostly looking for critiquing on my style and whatnot, but I'm also interested in your first impressions of the plot and characters. I don't have many ideas for them, beyond what is implied in the story, but I'd actually like to expand the story, maybe for NaNoWriMo*. So if you have any ideas, or if you think you see the beginnings of a plot in there, please tell me!

    The story, by the way, is just a rough draft, so I might repost it later after I edit it a few times.

    The Empty Ruins

    An icy wind whistled through the ruins of the keep, skimming the tops of fallen walls and howling through gaps in once-solid stone. A few lone, shredded banners still flapped forlornly, the only noise in this sparkling world.

    The snow lay thick across the ground, its blinding brilliance marred only occasionally by broken stones, and by one set of footprints across the ruined courtyard.

    A voice rang out behind Derek, unnaturally loud in the still air.

    “This used to be one of the greatest castles in the world, you know. Used to guard the passes through the mountains. Hard to believe now, isn’t it?”

    “Alec”, Derek replied coolly. He did not turn around.

    Alec stepped out from behind a pillar in front of Derek.

    “You never fall for that,” he said, disappointed.”I’d hoped that the echoes here might confuse you. Maybe next time, then.”

    “Are you truly insane now?” Derek asked bitterly. “Did you forget that you’re a traitor?”

    Alec grew serious. “But I’m really not,” he said earnestly. He stepped forward, footsteps muffled by the snow. “We were wrong, we were doing everything wrong the whole time. All I did was switch to the right side. You can too, you know, it’s not too late.”

    “Some people can’t switch allegiances like others switch clothes, Alec.”

    Alec sighed. “You’re still being stubborn,” he said accusingly. “You just refuse to see it. Just switch over, they have the right of it over here. Come on, it’ll be before I switched. We’ll be on the same team again. It’s stupid to hate each other after all we’ve been through.”

    The most astonishing thing was that he was dead serious, Derek reflected. He’d really be willing to forget it all, and he really believed that if Derek switched sides, they would simply accept the leader of their opposition.

    He shook his head. “Alec Krisor,” he said formally.

    “Oh gods,” muttered Alec.

    “You have undeniably betrayed your order and broken your vows,” Derek recited. “As of this reading, you are no longer a member of the Order. You are free to go where you will, but all men shall know you as forsworn, and no member shall extend hospitality wherever you go.”

    Alec sighed again. “Really, Derek? Even at the end, you do cling to your formality.”

    The wind was blowing even harder now, and a light snowfall had begun. Alec was protected by the pillar he was leaning against, but Derek wished he had more protection.

    “Is it an end then?” He asked unconcernedly.

    “Come on, Derek. I don’t want to fight you.”

    “Then don’t. I only came to formally deliver the message. I’m leaving now.”

    “Ah, well see, I can’t actually let you leave. Frankly, I was supposed to kill or capture you when I first saw you ten minutes ago.”

    “I know that,” Derek said. “Everyone in your new alliance has those orders.”

    “And you still came personally? I’m rather impressed. I didn’t think that delivering such an obvious message to a single traitor was worth dying for.”

    “Well, like you said. It’d be a shame to forget all our history together. Of course, you could always not fight me. You know, make it easy on yourself,” Derek said. “

    “I can’t,” said Alec angrily. “I have my orders.”

    “So disobey them.”

    Alec shook his head, flakes of snow falling from his cloak. “I can’t,” he said, putting his hand to his sword. “Please, Derek, don’t make me fight you . . .”

    “I’m not going to make you do anything,” Derek said. “Don’t worry, I realize that your unquestioning loyalty to a fanatical order of lunatics sometimes clouds your judgment.”

    Alec frowned. “Sarcasm? From you? I must have made you angry.” He finally drew his sword, a light one-handed sword.

    Derek sighed and drew his own two-handed longsword.

    “It’s not too late,” Alec said. “You can still give in.”

    Derek waited impatiently. Alec would give up asking soon enough.

    “Fine,” said Alec, lunging forward, and as quickly as that the fight started.

    Derek found himself hard-pressed to defend himself. Alec was quick with a blade, and Derek hadn’t used one in a real fight in quite a while. His blows seemed softer, his defense slower, and at least three times he missed perfect openings in Alec’s guard. Alec, on the other hand, hadn’t seemed to miss an opening yet, and before long Derek was bleeding from several superficial scratches.

    The initial fight lasted only a few minutes, until Alec suddenly drew back, breathing hard. Derek made no move to pursue him. The snow in between them was broken and bloody now.

    “You’re losing,” Alec warned him.

    Derek did not reply. Sweat was running into his eyes, making it difficult to see clearly, but he didn’t dare release his sword to wipe it away.

    “I’ve given you all the chances I can,” Alec said. “This is your last one. Switch sides, or at least submit to capture rather than death.” Derek made no reply, and Alec frowned. “I can’t disobey my orders, Derek. What would you do if one of your underlings refused to carry out an order?”

    “My orders have never included slaughtering innocents, Alec,” Derek said, watching closely.

    “Well, that –“ There. The slightest, flickering hesitation.

    Derek brought his sword crashing down. Alec only just managed to block the sudden blow, and the clash echoed throughout the ruins.

    Derek pressed on, harder, not giving himself time to think. He let his instincts and training take over entirely. Now Alec was being driven back, stumbling through knee-high snow drifts, fighting to block Derek’s blows. Derek tried to stop seeing Alec as Alec, and just see him as another enemy to be killed . . .

    The end came suddenly. Alec took one more step backwards, and stumbled over a fallen stone, half-hidden in the snow. In an instant, Derek’s sword swung down, and Alec was sprawled on the ground, the crisp white snow rapidly turning red.

    Alec glared up at Derek, but his gaze lacked any real enmity. “I – I guess you were better after all,” he said, ruefully. “I –“ He stopped suddenly, and Derek guessed that the pain was coming through now.

    Derek stepped around Alec, leaving him in the snow as he hunted for his campsite. It was possible that Alec might be carrying important information . . .

    “Not – not talking?” Alec asked from behind him. “That’s ha – hardly fair, now.”

    Derek paused a moment, then replied as levelly as he could.

    “What would you have me say?”

    “I don’t know,” Alec said. “Just . . . don’t leave me to – to die alone.” The words were jerky, each one only produced through sheer effort of will.

    One thing no one could say about Alec was that he wasn’t determined, Derek thought angrily. He didn’t want Alec to be talking like they were old friends again. He wanted Alec to hate him, like he should. He wanted to be able to hate Alec. Instead, he turned around and went back over to Alec, sitting on a stone a few feet away.

    “Wasn’t sure you’d do it,” Alec said quietly. “I know – you hate me now. But – understand – you’re still wrong.”

    “And you accused me of being stubborn,” Derek muttered.

    “There’s . . . still a lot to – to say,” Alec began.

    “Not really.”

    Silence. And then, “Maybe you’re right. I – I don’t have much time to talk in, anyway.”

    A few more minutes passed in silence. “Thank you, though. I didn’t – didn’t want to die alone.”

    “Well . . . we do have a history,” Derek said.

    A few more minutes passed. Then, Derek carefully stood up. He walked over to Alec’s camp, and returned with a blanket. He wrapped the body in it, and then looked around. He couldn’t find anyplace better than a simple hollow in between two ruined walls, but it was better than nothing. After a moment of consideration, he moved the stone that Alec had tripped over, placing it as a sort of headstone over the makeshift grave. It was the sort of irony that Alec would have found amusing, no doubt.

    Derek left shortly thereafter. It was a long journey home, and he would have plenty of time to think on the way back. Behind him, a thin layer of snow was settling over the broken snow and blood.

    Twelve hours later, the wind still blew through the empty ruins, and a smooth, sparkling blanket was marred only by the occasional broken stone.

    *More talk of NaNo will come tomorrow, when it's not well past midnight and when I don't have to be up in 6 hours. Oops.
    Last edited by Helanna; 2009-09-22 at 11:28 PM.