I told you all about the short story competition that I entered for the new David Farland novel, Nightingale. Sadly, I did not make it to the finals. On the plus side, I can share my story with all of you. I hope you enjoy the story I took the time to write. Please let me know what you think. Be as kind or harsh as you need. The feedback will, hopefully, make me a better writer.
“The Crimson Shadow”
Dalenar Starbringer, Golden Knight, Blade Singer, and Captain of the King’s Cross stood his nightly vigil outside the King’s bed chamber. As always, the other three knights of the Cross slept during the evenings in their quarters across the hall. They were all that remained of the old way, when war and assassinations were a common occurrence. This King, Reigngold, first of his name, changed all that. Since his coronation three decades ago, there has been peace and prosperity throughout the kingdom of Tallamar. The high families of the realm had even begun to utilize their resources toward the good of the realm and it’s subjects. Dalenar knew it was only a matter of time until the Cross would be disbanded. Perhaps the seventeen year old, Dalenar, would not only be the youngest Captain of the Cross, but also the last.
Corporal Thormire Longshot, a young soldier of thirteen, entered the hall. Dalenar knew it would be another routine perimeter report. Like clockwork, the young corporal would come every night three hours into the watch to update the members of the Cross on the happenings of the evening. He was a good soldier and took his job seriously. At least someone still took their duty seriously. “During the watch, we took in three beggars for the night and turned away five petitioners who will return in the morning. There have been no other occurrences or emergencies tonight,”. The young man explained with a rigid salute of a fist dragged across his chest from left to right. And with that, he turned and marched down the well lit stone hallway and out of sight.
Dalenar could not help but feel let down that the night was so quiet. After all, what good is a knight without a battle to fight. To pass the time, he began to polish his fine steel sword, taking extra care to get the golden lettering to shine. Those words constantly reminded him, “A knight’s story is not about the enemies slain or the battles won, but the lives he protects and changes for the better.”. It was that legendary sword, the Senator’s Tongue, that was used to build the kingdom of Tallamar by the first member of the King’s Cross over one thousand years ago. And so he sat, determined to clean his gear until the Father Star returned. If he couldn’t fight, he wanted to at least look like the brave knight that he dreamed of being.
“Protect the palace!,” a voice screamed from outside. Dalenar ran to the window and looked out, shocked at what he saw. At least one hundred bodies were strewn throughout the courtyard gardens. He quickly ran back to his post, shouting for the rest of the King’s Cross to prepare themselves. As he entered the room, he saw the king, already sitting up and shaking. “Death comes for me this night. He told me in my dreams. I have been for longer than I should. He wants what is his,” he mumbled looking as pale as the Night Watchers of the old republic, with sweat running down his face.
Within minutes, the other three knights of the Cross entered the chamber. “What is all of this commotion?,” belted Aveline Strongarm, the Onyx Knight. No answer was needed as they heard more yelling from outside. “There must be at least fifty attackers,” Dalenar absently thought to himself. The warrior in him was hoping to go out and join the battle to turn the tide, like in a children’s story, but those actions were no longer his place. As a knight of the King’s Cross, he was to stay with and protect his king.
Even without a battle in such a long time, the training of the knights took hold. In mere moments Dalenar, Lapadis, and Feigngar moved into their positions, surrounding King Reigngold on three sides. The wall would protect their backside. Aveline, the strongest fighter of the Cross, took his place outside the king’s door, waiting to fend off the coming attackers. Standing at the ready, the knights were prepared for whatever would come through the door.
“You can’t defend me from this,” the king began to murmur in a barely understandable whisper. “Death incarnate stalks the grounds. Protect your own lives and leave me. Standing in his way will only bring pain and death. The gods have spoken. They say my time came long ago.”. The Cross did not heed his warning. Their collective purpose in life was to ensure the safety of their king. But, was their king even still there? He sounded like a madman hiding from ancient demons that haunted in the darkest recesses of a man’s mind. The distant death cries were coming more frequently. In time, the attackers would be within the palace.
Dalenar began to feel responsible for the deaths of all those young soldiers outside. Just moments ago he was wishing that something would happen that night. Could his selfish dreams of glory had been heard by the gods and brought this massacre among his men? Even though he knew he could not dwell on his thoughts during the night, the Golden Knight knew he would have to avenge those deaths. As the bringer of this awful fate, it was his responsibility to see justice done. But he could not worry about that now. He had to keep the king safe. That was his one duty in life now.
“If you won’t leave me, at least listen to a story while you await death,” the king blurted. Dalenar wasn’t sure if dying while protecting his king would be such a bad thing. Maybe it would make up for bringing misfortune to the palace guard through his petty wishes. “Before my reign, death was all around Tallamar. Through peace and medicine, I was able to extend the lives of thousands. Death was no longer a constant worry for my people. Even the poor and needy were able to enjoy the prosperity of the kingdom. Peace will not last without me. Death will, once again, follow all of my subjects. This awful future will happen to get back at me for the stability that I have brought. I should have died from stone lung seven years ago. I cheated death though. The hospital nursed me back to health like it did for so many others. Now the gods want what’s rightfully theirs. Let my kingdom know that my queen shall rule until my son is seventeen…” the pause made the room eerily quiet. The sounds from outside even seemed to stop. In fact, there were no sounds coming from outside. The queen, sitting to the king’s right as tradition dictated, noticed too as she began to shake and whimper. The fear in her eyes steeled the knights, renewing their determination to protect their charge. “The Crimson Shadow comes for me. The time draws near!,” yelled the king, shaking violently and drenched in sweat.
The time was drawing near, but still no one came. “Maybe we are victorious,” shouted Feigngar, the silver knight, to a silence that screamed that he was wrong. If they had won, the sounds of celebration would be dancing through the palace halls and young Corporal Thormire would be dutifully presenting the report of victory. The cheers and the young Corporal never came. Chances were that he, and all of the other young guards were laying dead or dying.
All heads in the room turned as one to a crack, a cough, and the gurgling of a man asphyxiating on his own internal bleeding. Time stopped as they all gasped together with their king with the tip of a blade sticking through his abdomen, glistening in the candle light. Suddenly, time shot back to normal speed as the shock of what just happened gave way to anger and adrenalin. Immediately, the queen let out an ear-piercing scream that echoed within the knights’ helmets as Lapadis Stonehammer, the Shining Knight, bellowed, “The Snakeway!”. Through all of the confusion at least one of them remembered the escape passage under the king’s bed. That’s when Dalenar knew who must be behind the attack. The Turnbow family designed and built the palace over one hundred years ago, but the Snakeway would most likely still be on the original plans. They would be the only ones outside the King and his Cross who could possibly know about the stairway.
There was no time to worry about who was responsible yet. The battle that Dalenar had hoped for moments ago became a reality as the knights shifted the King’s bed, that still held the dying king and his crying queen, to the side to make chase. Down the Narrow staircase, the three armored men moved, being careful to skip the second step that was coated in an oily fat to fell any who would chase the king during an escape. Armor clanked against stone as the men came to the secret opening at the bottom of the oddly spaced steps, to see a man in crimson robes with the ears of an Assai being bear hugged by Aveline. “Hold him there,” yelled Dalenar as he came through the passageway. But the assassin was quick and deftly stabbed the strong, Onyx Knight in between the lobstered steel of his elbow joint, forcing the big man to loosen his grip.
That moment was all that was needed as the crimson man ran down the hall, dropping a large cast iron chandelier to the immaculate white marble floor by shattering a link on the chain with his sword. Flecks of marble shot through the air with the impact, clanking off armor as the man neared the exit. Dalenar feared the assassin would escape as he saw the man exit onto the steps of the palace. The knights continued around the fallen chandelier in defeat. There was no way for them to catch him now.
The four armored men looked on in shock as the crimson man reentered the hallway with a blank look within his eyes. Behind him, in the gardens, laid hundreds of soldiers who were barely into adulthood. The red face wrap of the man began turning darker as tears were slowly rolling out of his eyes.
“Stop right there Assai,” yelled Dalenar, as he fought to hold back tears, “or should I say Turnbow?”. He couldn’t understand why they would hire this man to assassinate King Reigngold. The noble houses were much better off than they had ever been, but there was no mistaking the crimson robes of the Turnbow family. The man-made no reaction to the accusation. Instead he muttered one thing, “six heartbeats”. The Cross looked at each other confused as a whirling tempest began to grow in the man’s eyes, like the storied hurricanes of the Dead Shore. The air grew hot and the wind picked up, drawing everything toward the man in the crimson robes. With renewed vigor, the knights rushed toward their enemy surrounding him and slowly slashing into him, but the man did not even flinch. The tempest in his eyes quickened and turned orange as flame. Soon, his sword was out and he was parrying every attack the knights tried and the ground began to rumble. Bits of stone began raining down on the battle. Dalenar fell into the flowing trance of a Blade Singer, looking more like water than a human.
Even that fabled fighting style could not get through to the crimson man. It was as if he knew the next attack before it happened. The other knights stepped back, afraid of getting caught in the wicked dance taking place before them. They stood in awe, seeing their Captain’s true potential for the first time. All of their doubts of this young warrior began to fade as the Golden Knight continued to match his enemy, blow for blow. They cleared further away as a gust of fine dust and stone began to whirl around the two. Soon, nothing could be seen but shadows twirling, thrusting, and parrying at each other at an incredible, terrifying speed.
It seemed as if the battle could go on forever as the dawn was coming in the east. As the light began to encompass the two warriors, the crimson man seemed to double his efforts. It was like he had been playing with the Golden Knight this entire time. But, Dalenar was no novice. As the attack quickened, he fell into a defensive stance carefully slashing as the hurried blows of his attacker came faster and faster. Twenty minutes, the two warriors continued until the earth began to shake violently and a blast of heat and wind blew the knights off their feet. In a daze, the Knights of the Cross stood, staring at the crimson man as he burst through the front gates and onto the slowly filling streets with his cloak trailing behind him like the tail of a comet. His gaze seemed to be stuck on the Father Star cresting the edge of the horizon while he continued running, as if it would come down from the brightening sky and consume him.
The knights looked around at the devastation that use to be the palace gardens, still under the spell of the blast that sent them to the ground. Dalenar, who was somehow still standing after the explosion of power, slumped to the ground as if the weight of his armor had tripled. As the moaning of injured guards became apparent, the bells began to toll. The king was dead, due to the failure of his Cross. “Lapadis, care for the wounded,” Dalenar commanded in an authoritative voice they had never heard before. “The rest of you, guard the queen.”. With that, he removed his helmet and stared blankly at the slowly brightening sky, wondering what his purpose could possibly be. He had failed his king and his kingdom. Knights of the King’s Cross were supposed to be heroes. They were supposed to be the victors. But he was a failure. It was honor, not pride that haunted him. It was demanding something, but what?
Aveline and Feigngar entered the palace surprised to see the queen standing at the base of the grand stairway, dressed in a court dress with her Bloodgold tiara sitting atop her jet black hair. “I will hold court now,” she choked out with tears welling in her eyes. “The king is dead, and I rule this kingdom until my son comes of age. I will not allow whoever did this see any hesitation in my actions. Justice will be swift, even if I have to tear the kingdom apart to bring it. The day guards will be here soon and I want the entire court assembled… Including my son. And find Dalenar! He may have failed my husband by letting him die, but he is honor-bound to find the killer and redeem himself.”
Hey there everyone. I have some great news for you. A Tale of Tales, book 9 of the Runelords series, is coming along nicely. I just had the pleasure of an email from David stating that he is finally pleased with the way the story is coming. It sounds like he is hard at work, making sure that the finale will be everything that his fans are looking for. There should be more updates from him and I will make sure to pass those along. If you have not done so already, make sure you read books 1 through 8. You will thank me for it later. To stay updated on the possible movie and voice your opinion, check out runelordsmovie.com,. There are a lot of great contests going on and a section to vote for who you want to star in it. It is truly great to see such a successful author who cares enough to email back his fans!
So, as you may know by now. I’m a big David Farland fan. This morning I even got the chance to have a conversation with him over Twitter. With that said, here is some great news. David told me that
February is dedicated to one thing only–finishing off the Runelords series.
After almost three years of waiting for the end of the series, I am hopeful to see it in the fall. With the book release could also come a book tour. Hopefully that will bring him to the Chicagoland area, as he hopes to expand his audience in the eastern half of the country. If you have not read the series yet, I suggest you start as a movie may be in the works. Also in the belt line is a video game, which David was speaking with a designer in Vegas earlier this month. None of these are definite yet, but let’s keep the faith here.
David recently released another book called nightingale. He is currently planning the book tour for that and I will keep you posted. Hopefully my dialogue with him continues so I can give you the latest information.
P.S. like I said, do yourself a favor and read this series. You will be glad you did.
Hey all you aspiring writers. Love writing fantasy stories, but know you can’t get published? First, you’re wrong, go to amazon and you can publish your story for free on the kindle indie bookstore. Second, tak a look at this great writing contest on fantasywritingcontest.com. It is a great chance to try to win some money, and get your story published to get your name out there. It is being hosted by Fantasy faction. They happen to be a great site for everything fantasy, of course not better than me, and give great advice for writers in their blog section. Your story will have to be original and unpublished, fantasy in genre, and no more than 8,000 words. (They don’t mention a minimum, but I would try to make it a good length story.) hurry up and get writing as they start taking stories on Feb 1st. Good writing all.
Written by David Farland, or David Wolverton for his scifi fans, the Runelords brings the reader into a fantastic world of magic, runes and strange creatures. This series really brought me back into reading after years of gaming and movies. It easily does this through simplistic story telling with an over ethical hero and a truly evil villain.
Magic system: The magic system of the Runelords is what really dragged me in. In this world, the wealth of a nation is driven by a substance called blood metal. (cough* cough* oil cough* cough*). This metal is used to create small brands with runes on them. These runes are used to grant endowments through the transfer of attributes(strength, dexterity, charisma, etc, for all of my fellow D&D fans) from one person to another. Those who receive these endowments are considered Runelords. They are responsible for protecting the Dedicates, who gave up the endowment. It is important to note that the loss of an attribute has a price. Those who give up strength become feeble. Giving up charisma makes a person ugly. Even death can result if the body of a dedicate looses too much of an attribute. Remember, a person can only be a Dedicate once, but the amount of an attributes transfer differs depending on the rune and person doing the ritual. The big trick to the system is that the death of a Dedicate removes the endowment from the Runelord. If the Runelord dies, the Dedicate gets the endowment back.
World: The world of humans is a continent that is divided into three realms. Rofehaven takes up a majority of the northern half of the continent. The culture is, mostly, based off of Medieval Europe, complete with knights and castles. Sixteen nations break up Rofehaven. The Dunnwood, an important haunted forest, is located in the northwest section. The realm of Rofehaven is best known for its steel. To Rofehaven’s southwest is the Middle East-like dessert region of Indhopal. It is known for its rich blood metal mines in the south.(still sounds like oil to me). By the time the story begins, Indhopal has been united from fourteen separate nations by the villain, Raj Ahten. In the southeast of the continent lies Inkarra. As it is not a big part of the first trilogy, I will not go into too much detail. The inhabitants are a nocturnal breed of humans with very pale skin and hair, and “ice white” eyes. They are mostly seen in the series as traders who sometimes visit Rofehaven.
Hero: The hero of the series is Gaborn Val Orden, heir to Mystarria, the largest and most wealthy kingdom of Rofehaven. Gaborn is the most ethical hero I have ever seen. (sometimes annoyingly so). At some points he seems too good to be real. But, to be fair, his strong morals is used to drive the true message of this book. In David’s own words,
Young prince Gaborn Val Orden is a conscientious objector, a young man who is torn by the knowledge that those who love him and serve the best must make such a terrible sacrifice for their kingdom.
Villain: Raj Ahten is the diabolical evil entity of the series. He is shown to be the polar opposite of Gaborn. As the ruler of Indhopal, he takes thousands of endowments in an attempt to become the Sum of All Men. The Sum of All Men is a legend of how one man who takes enough endowments can become immortal and retain his attributes even after the deaths of his Dedicates. Raj Ahten gains many of the endowments through the use of money and the charisma that he has been endowed with. Because of these practices, he is considered a Wolf Lord and is hunted by the Knights Equitable. He truly is one of those villains that you love to hate.
Conclusion: So you want to know what I think of the series? The writing paints a picture of this spectacular world that you will want to know more about. The character development seem a little weak at some points, but it gives the message of how leaders should use their power without abusing it a chance to shine through. After reading the first series, I promise you will want to read the next five books. (I know only four more are listed, but he is working on book nine. I hope he gets it out this year). The story is strong and the magic system is riveting to a D&D fan, like myself. The twists and turns will keep you turning the pages of this one. All in all, I give it 4.5 swords. If you’re just getting into fantasy, this will seal the deal.
4.5 swords out of 5
Long ago, at the beginning of history, there was land, water, plants, animals and four master wizards. All lived in harmony. They knew no love or hate, pain or pleasure, not even life or death. They wizards were speaking while watching Tratos, the first moon, rise on the horizon. They were contrasting the different powers that Father God had bestowed upon them. This eventually lead to an argument about who was the most powerful. Reignor, the master of the elements was first to speak up. “What power could any of you yield against the awesome power of the elements? None can stand before the fire of the mountains or the water of the seas.” “Everything the elements do is for the benefit of nature,” Aamore, the master of nature shot back. They all knew that even fire, the most destructive of the elements, was a necessity of the advancement of life.
“You have lost this debate Reignor,” chided Tayna, the plane seeker, and Lada, mistress of illusion. Out of pure annoyance, Reignor snapped back. “Lada loses by default. An illusion is not even real. Anyone with enough wits can see right through your treachery. Even the wolves don’t fall for all of your spells.” It seemed a decision had been reached. Nature was the most powerful. “I think we all know what the most powerful magic is,” proclaimed Aamore. But before he could get another word in, Tayna stood up. “Of course we do. Summoning is the magic that can hold power over the rest. Only I can bring forth creatures and unnatural beings from beyond this world. And I discover more every day.”. How wrong they all were?
For days they argued. Days turned into weeks, into months. Then months turned into years, then decades. What they never knew, could not know, was that Father God had created weakness and strength into each of the magics. After nearly a century, a decision had been reached. Perfection could only come through combining all four magics. They all soon found that the task laid before them would be a grand work that would cost many seasons. But what are a few seasons to an immortal? Thirty and five seasons they waisted in vain. Attempts were made and spells were corrupted as they toiled to learn each other’s powers.
Lada was the first to notice. The powers do not bend to the wills of mages. None of them were meant for such a power as they wished for. Much time passed. Stars fell and mountains formed. The wizards studied and wrote. Thousands of tomes were written. Many were lost, some found again and others destroyed. It seemed as if all was lost. But then Tayna had an epiphany. Maybe the secret to combining the powers is to create and bend a being to its will. She spent much time and energy studying, philosophizing and explaining her idea to the others. “These matters take time,” Reignor explained, “like the movement of lands and oceans, we must be diligent in our research and consider how best we may create such a being.”. It was advise well given. To rush such a task would create an abomination.
A book, they created. A recipe of sorts. Water, protein, magnesium, potassium, iron and carbon they decided upon. All were parts of nature, along with many other ingredients. Fire would drive the being and earth would strengthen it. Imagination and dreams would be the works of Lada. Tayna would be the final part. Summoning would create community and a need for knowledge. But how to pass that knowledge? Shall they raise their creations like a bitch with its pups, or would the great experiment be better off if they had to learn for themselves?
More seasons passed as they made their decision. Oceans swelled and new lands formed. As modern Targos began to take shape a consensus was reached. Each would pass their knowledge through tomes. The works that began at the dawn of the first day were collected and stored in a cave. The cave was located where the first day had come, at the point where five rivers merged to form the Serpent.
Nine months, the wizards worked on their new creations. The first to take form was female. Beautiful to behold, she was all that Lada and Tayna wanted to be. She would grow emotionally strong, with a need to care for her mate. Through her, dreams and hopes would fester. The male took form next. He would be physically strong, with the ability to lead with aggression. They would be wonderful copies of the four. But a copy came with a price. To ensure energy and sustenance, the creations could not dine on the elements as their masters did. Instead, they would need to dine on the plants and animals, that had lived with and given guidance to the four. For that, the male was given the ability to forage for plants and harvest meat from the beasts. The female was created with an understanding of health and the usage of the food items.
At the end of that ninth month, Reignor was preparing to instill the fire of life upon the creations. But then, something unexpected happened. Two other wizards from distant lands appeared to the four, wizards that should not have existed. After all, didn’t Father God only make the four of them on that eventful day of creation? The new wizards were odd, to say the least. One wore black robes and covered his features with a mask of solid iron. Not and inch of flesh showed as he moved about them like a wisp of morning fog. “What have we here Chron?” he asked to his companion. The other was draped in a light brown cloak that drifted in the wind like a tree’s branches. Its curly blond hair framed a golden mask with a fearful smile. “I apologize for my friend’s rudeness,”. The feminine voice proclaimed from behind the mask. “I am Chron, master of time. My companion is Trace, the necromancer. We wish to bestow gifts upon your… interesting creations.”. Without a word of answer, the two strangers began their work.
After mere minutes, the strangers left as quickly as the appeared. Whatever they had done, it was finished. The time had come for the final steps. Reignor built a grand fire. Slowly he pulled the smoke and embers into the creations. Then, came their first breath. Then another and another. As their breathing continued, they opened their eyes, then stood up, then went to their knees. “Thank you, thank you,” they proclaimed, “We have much to do with our precious little time.”. That’s when the four knew what the strangers had done. The chronomancer, called Chron, had bestowed upon their creations the perception or time. It was such a simple thing that the wizards had never thought of. Time was of no consequence to immortals. That thought explained Trace’s gift. Life and death had been unknown… until that day.
I feel like giving a heads up to all of my wonderful readers. I am going to now be rating books, movies and video games by swords.(felt right with the fantasy fiction genre). The most a reviewed piece can get is five swords. I will also be attaching a link to amazon on my reviews so you can see how much it costs at the moment. I would love to hear some feedback on this plan. I may write the blog, but it belongs to everyone who reads it as well.
I am glad to say that Brandon Sanderson is becoming one of the best authors of our time. The Way of Kings is an epich fantasy book that brings forth a sense of intellect, drama, action, and of course, an entirely new world and reality.
In the first book of the 10 book Stormlight Archive series, you are brought into the world of Roshar, which is plagued by High Storms that batter the landscape. Brandon Sanderson has created everything from lands and gods, to plants and animals. Reading this story is like being immersed into The Lord of the Rings on steroids.
It begins with a story from the assassination of the King. As usual, I’m not going to give you details.(I’m hoping you’re checking my review because you want to read the book). From there the story unfolds with amazing action sequences and twists and turns.(most of them near the end). I had a hard time getting through the first couple chapters of this book, but after sticking with it, I’m glad I did.
The book follows three main characters. Kaladin, who reminds me a lot of Kelsier from the Mistborn series, is a soldier/ surgeon. He is at continuous odds with himself. Not able to decide if he is blessed or cursed. The internal struggle throughout the book is riveting as the story continues on.
Shallan(cough cough, Vin, cough cough), is the daughter of a lord who is seeking out the sister of the king. She hides secrets and learns throughout the book. You really begin to care for the character during the story as she grows and changes. She has the least action in her story, but I found myself being pulled into her mind through Sanderson’s great writing style.
Dolinar, a “High Prince” and the murdered king’s brother, is also known as the Blackthorne. He is a mighty and honorable hero throughout the novel. He also has an interesting internal struggle. Is he going mad with age, or is he a prophet of the Almighty? It’s hard to decide as you read further into his story.
One of my favorite characters is barely seen in this book… but I’m sure he will be a big part of the series. He is Szeth-son-son-Vallano. He is known as a Truthless, and reminds me a lot of Sazed in Mistborn. He is a character who is in a constant silent battle with himself, as he does not control his destiny.
Make sure you give this book a chance, and do it soon.(Sanderson is like a robot, the way he puts out books). When you finish the book, make sure you read the beginning again. It is well worth it, since you actually know what is happening.
All in all, I give this book five out of five swords(Thinking about using that to rate books by… Thoughts?).
Since I recently mentioned Mistborn in a post about my favorite magic system, I decided it would be good to refer you all to a well written review of the first two books. It comes from a blog called From the Mind of Kevin. The following link is the review for book two, but if you look on his site you can also find the book one review. He does give spoilers though. (Thought I’d give you a heads up) Here is the link: