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Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 10:11 pm
by Ghurlag
Oops, didn't see that.

Yep, septs are a thing in scottish culture, see for the rundown. They're essentially divisions of a clan, which is an extended family. The link to the Tau is a bit unfortunate, actually, don't want people getting confused.

Uillace's part of CH2 is now up, as you may have noticed.

Also, wow, second page! When'd that happen?

Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 10:13 pm
by shadowhawk2008
First thing tomorrow morning :)

Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 10:15 pm
by Ghurlag
shadowhawk2008 wrote:First thing tomorrow morning :)

Good work that man. :D

Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:56 pm
by Shogun_Nate
Excellent story. Well-written, easy to follow and engaging. Three things I like in any story (fanfic or otherwise). You tell a darn good tale bud. I'd go on, but I'd just be repeating myself about how good it is LOL. I'll sure be keeping an eye on this one for updates. Keep up the excellent work!

Somehow, Lachlann knew that the only reason the longboat had not struck a reef or foundered on the treacherous rocks was because Hrut was aboard. The man carried his fate like an axe, using it to hack aside all obstacles in his path. While this man willed it, no mere force of nature could prevent their advance.

Edit: I forgot to mention this orginally but the above lines (especially the sentence in bold) sorted it for me. This kind of story telling is rare and the descriptive is simply amazing. "The man carried his fate like an axe" is the line in this story that saw me hooked.


Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:27 am
by Ghurlag
Cheers Nate, I'm honoured by the praise! I quite liked that bit when I wrote it, so I'm especially pleased someone else picked it out. Glad to hear you'll be reading!

Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 3:34 am
by Gaius Marius
Hmmm, nice one Ghur, but who are the Dal Reodi?

Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:36 am
by Ghurlag
Ah, that would be telling too much. You'll have to wait and see :)

Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:56 am
by shadowhawk2008
Ghurlag wrote:
Chapter Two

Hmm, not as much dramatic stuff happening here in the first two scenes, but they are well done in their own way, and there is a continuity between them and the scenes from chapter1. I am really wondering who the old couple is, their arrival seems to be quite convenient after a major battle between the Orks and Eoghann's fellow warriors.

For the Uillace seen, the pace was quite appropriate, not too much happening and not too less either. I like the twist in the plot, with Uillidh under siege and Uillace having to make a tough decision on whether to save an ally or pursue his enemy. Nice :D

I am just confused with the dialogue part of the scene between Uillace and the messenger from Cymbri. I have no idea what just happened between them. Could be because of your Scottish-style dialogue but I am definitely not sure if Uillace has just told off a messenger from one of his richest allies or something.

Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:37 am
by Ghurlag
Hey shadow, cheers for the read!

In the scene you mention, Uillace was essentially dismissing the messenger (and by extension, his king) because they were slow to help him when he needed it, and are fairly transparently only coming to him now because he looks likely to win. Cymbri and the Thumbrians are opposed to each other (hence the messenger's glares at Alle), and Uillace essentially just threw his lot in with the Thumbrian king for services rendered.

I shall have to give that section some thought as to how to make it clearer. Thanks again for reading!

Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:12 pm
by Ghurlag

“It left a peculiar mood,” Fearghas admitted. He stood with Dunlibhe on the eastern parapet. The ancient stone front was scarred from countless assaults, but it was still an ideal spot to survey the land. Amongst the views it afforded was one of Fort Ivern's inner courtyard, where Dunlibhe's men mingled with Dhomhnuill septsmen and the other men of the garrison. Fearghas had taken to confiding in Dunlibhe, seeming to find some relief in unloading his worries to one who was – even if only nominally – a servant of the Stones. Dunlibhe, in turn, welcomed the distraction from the disgrace of defeat. The item currently under discussion was the High King's hasty return to Granborgh upon news of the outcome at Sturl.

“We all knew Drostan wasnae one to fly before Uillace,” the garrison commander continued, scarred hands stroking the stone. “It makes sense to head north, call the banners ready for the thaws. His men'll be hard-pressed to carry from Strathpiffer afore the snows, let alone the North Stones. But still, the way he rode so quick left men wondering.”

“Will all the High Clans come?” Dunlibhe asked, indulging his own wondering aloud more to break the tension than aught else. Fearghas cocked his head as he considered.

“Aye, I reckon they will,” he answered. “Mintloch dare not break the pact, else their farms see raiders. Tamhas is a fast friend to Iverry, so the Ord will come in good cheer. The Ocham will come because the Truthsayers say Drostan is the High King, and that's all they know to follow.”

Dunlibhe smiled. The Ocham were a little odd, as the clans went. Too close to the Stones and the Truthsayers, and too little time spent dealing with other men.

“The Skyre?” he questioned. Fearghas shrugged, spreading his hands as if to indicate the many possibilities.
“Who knows?” he answered. “Mael dragged them down to Resba to see the Ayresmen off, but the forest septs are an unruly lot even at the best of times. Even if Mael comes, the rest might stay.”

Clanschief Mael was a progressive leader for the savage and unruly Skyre tribes, positively willing to engage civilly with the other clans. Known for their barbarous practices and unpredictable nature, the Skyre shared the Skyreweald – the vast north-western forest beyond the central mountain ranges - with Fimir and other strange creatures, and some said the dark forest left a subtle taint on those who dwelt there.

“What of the Low Clans?” Fearghas said, after a short silence. “Will Uillace win Aberfurth and Kilkirk for his banner?”

Dunlibhe forced himself to consider it. With Dunfurth and Cyldebar behind him, and Balloch seized, the other two southern clans would be key to the Red King's position next season.

“Uillidh has his own wars to fight,” he said slowly. “He'll bow to Uillace if it needs be done, but he'll not leave his vales, and I think he'll bow as readily again when Drostan comes south.”

He congratulated himself on making the High King's victory sound inevitable. His mother had always said he should be a Skar, not a warrior. If only he was as sure as he made it sound.

“Aberfurth will be sensing the way the wind is blowing,” Fearghas cut in to answer the other half of his own question. “They'll gain most if Uillace wins out, and they don't want him resentful on their southern borders.”

Dunlibhe nodded solemnly. He had just grasped what they were doing. Between them, they were dividing up every clan in Albany into one king's camp or another. Only the tales of the Shadows talked of war on such a scale, and they were little more than myth. The Red King's ambition was bringing a war to Albany unlike any other.

Fearghas had fallen silent as well, his eyes following the movement of men in the courtyard below.

“Ach, what am I doing?” he muttered eventually, seeming to conclude some hidden inner struggle. “Torquewearer, I need to send you north.”

Dunlibhe blinked in surprise. He had assumed he would be wintering in Iverry, awaiting Drostan's return in the spring. Fearghas turned to settle heavy grey eyes on him.

“I cannae command you, but the High King left here with only the gibberings of his son's escort to go on. He needs fresh words, from a man who kept his calm on the field. I could send another man, but it'd be a disservice. He needs Picked Men at his back when he meets the other chiefs, or else they get the wrong idea, and we see this mess repeat itself again ere long.”

“There are Picked Men at Granborgh,” Dunlibhe put in. Fearghas shook his head.

“Aye, but not many. There are never enough of ye any more. No, he needs the backing and he needs yer calm, yer steel. Will ye go?”

Dunlibhe nodded, resigned. Fearghas nodded back gratefully. Dunlibhe knew that matters could have become difficult if he had refused. Fearghas bore the High King's authority in stewardship of the fort, but technically the Picked Men swore only to the Stones and the Truthsayers, all other allegiances renounced once they took the torque. In reality, of course, they still served their septs and clans in battle. The matter was further complicated in that the High King was recognised by the Truthsayers upon his succession, but the Truthsayers maintained the illusion that it was they who appointed him to act in their stead. In the unlikely event of conflicting interests between Drostan and the Truthsayers, Dunlibhe's duty was not the clearest.

“Ye should take the other,” Fearghas said, “What's he called? Ruairidh? And your pick of the men what came with you.”

“I'll take Donnchadh,” Dunlibhe said. Truth be told, he couldn't recall any of the others' names. They seemed a blur of sad faces in his memory, and he was glad to escape responsibility for them.

It started to rain again, and Fearghas gestured for Dunlibhe to follow him back to his quarters.

“Oh,” he said, as they passed down the stone steps, already turning dark with water. “When ye reach Granborgh, can ye ask the One by The Stones something?”

“He tends not to listen much,” Dunlibhe warned. “And answers less, even for us.”

“Ask anyway,” said Fearghas. “It's no matter, but ask him why the frost is late.”

Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:34 am
by Shogun_Nate
Another excellent installment! I am really enjoying this story. With each piece you put up, I find myself wanting more LOL! Keep up the good works bud! :D

Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:26 am
by Xisor
I'm rubbish at going through things in detail, but in the vague effort to try to offer some sensible criticism, I'd note an odd (and possibly non-) thing in the first few paragraphs of the prelude.

It has to do with rebelliousness and defiance. The elements are rebelling. The waves rebel. Then the Norscans roar defiance back. This strikes me as ... well, the odd (or not) thing mentioned mere sentences ago. The elements are rebelling, great. The wave, as part of the elements, is also a rebel, but it seems a conspicuous use of the same phrase. Then again, waves (and general 'terrain' [or the ocean-going equivalent]) are usually 'treacherous', so that immediate stock-phrase can generally be cast out too. What I'd suggest is that that whole paragraph might work better with the 'rebellious waves' reduced to simply 'waves'.

Or not, of course. I'm new to this line of reasoning.

Similarly, though, the defiance snarled by the Norscans. I haven't given much thought to their interplay with their sea-god(s), but (and in faint attempt to distinguish/contrast the rebelliousness of the weather), perhaps the Norscans should be somehow...angry at the sea? Trying to cow it or curse it into obeying them, they the masters of the sea? I can't think of anything properly approaching a decent substitute (my suggestion amounting to the paltry suggestion of swapping 'defiance' for 'rage'), so I'll wheesht.

It seems silly to suggest it now, the concept normally given is that sailors have their love-hate business with the sea, I've no idea whether it's even important. Nevertheless, it struck me a little in that it gave me pause for thought.

Nevertheless, reading through, very well done prelude, I'll be sure to gander through the rest soon enough. (Though,as you see above, whether I'll be able to concoct anything more useful than a fawning 'that's grand' [or an outraged 'your work is bad and you should feel bad' {or a tepid ''s'alright'}] remains to be seen!)

Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:31 am
by Ghurlag
Thanks to the both of you for your comments.

Xisor, I think what you're saying is that not both sides of that rhetorical/physical conflict can be 'rebelling/defiant', which I agree with. If I were to pick (which I will), I'd opt for keeping the Norscans defiant (mostly because of one line I like) and making the storm the oppressive ruling force (Y'know, 'cause it's big.). Thanks for flagging this, I'll look at (and act on) it in more detail tonight.

Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:04 pm
by Ghurlag
Chapter Three

“Mourn, hapless Albany, mourn
Thy banish'd peace, thy laurels torn!
Thy sons, for valour long renown'd,
Lie slaughter'd on their native ground;
Thy hospitable roofs no more
Invite the stranger to the door:-
In smoky ruins sunk they lie,
The monuments of cruelty. “

(From “Tears of Albany” by Skar Tomas)

Eoghann stumbled once again, and swore loudly as his hand caught on a cruel rock hidden in the grass.

“Ye should watch yer mouth,” Ciostadh said sharply, her eyes cold and unsympathetic as she watched him struggle up again. “I willnae have ye cursing so under my roof.”

Eoghann glared at her. It was ungrateful of him, but he was starting to dislike the old couple more and more now he knew what their purpose on the battlefield had been. It had been bad enough watching them pick gleefully at the corpses of his septsmen, friends and family all.

Were he more able, he might have forbidden them their loot and commanded them to honour the dead, but in his current state even the hunched old Niall could have slit his throat with little effort. So he had suffered in silence. Now, however, the indignity of having to help the couple carry their ill-gotten spoils was weighing on him almost as heavily as the burden itself.

“Apologies,” he muttered, summoning some civility. With his injury, he would not last long left out in the cold. Niall, who seemed to have some knowledge of these things, said the wound had started to fester under the dried mud, and would need thorough cleaning before it could heal. Eoghann had no idea how true that was, but his scalp shot with sharp pain whenever the wind caught it, and he was still occasionally wracked by bouts of dizziness. He was cold and he was hungry, and he wasn't going to let a few unsavoury words keep him from a fire and a meal.

Ciostadh said nothing, but seemed appeased, and continued up the slope, her ancient frame stooping under the parcel she carried – mostly clothing, stripped or cut from the dead 'for rags and patches'. Eoghan raised his own package – a bundle of spears, tied with someone's leggings – to his shoulder, and followed her on.

Niall's home was a forlorn-looking farmstead, rising abruptly from a bog-ridden field. Its condition was so poor that wasn't until they were almost at the door that Eoghann could tell the main building from the adjacent barn. Still, he would turn his nose up at no shelter.

“Follow me,” Niall commanded him, headed for the barn. Bewildered, Eoghann obeyed, casting a confused look at Ciostadh as she shoved open the main building's rickety wooden door and disappeared from sight.

The barn door was barred from the outside for some reason, and Niall had to put down his baggage to lift the bar and wrestle door's joints into movement. The barn was pitch-black inside.

“In,” said Niall, regaining his cloakful of loot. Eoghann hesitated. Did the couple mean to imprison him? Niall scowled at him.

“Move yer legs,” he snapped. “Lay those spears up 'gainst the far wall, and don't go touching aught else.”

Eoghann complied, fumbling forward through the darkness until he felt a rough wooden wall, against which he dropped his bundle.

“Don't just drop 'em where ye stand, boy,” came Niall's grouchy voice from behind him. “Stack 'em up true.”

To his surprise and relief, Eoghann could hear Niall moving around inside the barn with him, placing items of loot according to some complex system. He unwrapped the spears and stood them so they balanced against the wall, points upwards, then turned around. The dimming daylight showed him the exit, but not much else. He cast around for Niall, but the man had gone silent, and he couldn't see him. Seeing something glimmer in the corner, he bent to peer at it.

“Leave that be,” snapped Niall, right next to him. Eoghann jumped in shock, but the old man seemed not to notice.

“Take this inside,” he said, thrusting an unshapely bundle at Eoghann. Eoghann took it uncertainly, and realised it was firewood, bound with a thread. Nodding at where he reckoned Niall was, he shuffled towards the entrance until he was out in the open air again, where the wind made his eyes water as it whistled on his scalp. He hurried for the shelter of the main building.

Inside, the house was nearly as gloomy as the barn had been, with the addition of a lingering stench of rot. The entranceway led him to a central room with a fireplace, ringed by three gloomy arches. Ciostadh emerged from somewhere with a pail of water, then took the firewood from him and set to lighting it in the hearth with a flintknife and some kindling. When she had a blaze going, she set the pail to boil, then disappeared.

Niall came in a few minutes later, carrying some freshly-scrubbed tubers. He settled wordlessly into an uncomfortable-looking wooden chair, rising only to give the tubers to Ciostadh when she returned, bearing a knife and some grey meat.

Before too long, Ciostadh had presented him with a bowl of feeble broth, and Eoghann was finally eating. The silence was close and tight around him, but he could think of little to say to relieve it. Were he a guest in any other house, he might ask of the affairs of the sept, or talk of Seumas and the clan. He had no idea how to go about talking to desolate folk, especially those who would rob the fallen. He had little will to do anything but eat, and maybe sleep.

When the meal was finished, Niall had him sit close by the fire, and began cleaning his wound with a boiled rag. The man was not gentle, and Eoghann winced in pain.

“I'd worry about yer skull more,” Niall said nonchalantly. “If they laid ye out cold, might be yer brainpan cracked and let in the dirt. Ain't nothing to be done if it did, though, so I'll do just that.”

The couple seemed to have assumed that Eoghann was knocked unconscious during the battle. He wasn't going to correct them.

The cleaning complete, Niall drew a flat blade from where he'd laid it in the fire. It was glowing from the heat. Eoghann drew back, fresh blood dripping down his face.

“Wait!” he said, alarmed.

“Ain't no waiting,” Niall said. “Those cuts got to be sealed. Woman, hold him.”

Eoghann made to rise, but he was weak from the scrubbing, and Ciostadh's grip was like iron. He pleaded they pause, but Niall approached unrelentingly, and Eoghann's protests soon turned to screams.

When it was done, Niall went back to his chair, and Ciostadh bustled about some other work. Eoghann lolled on the carpet, his skull searing with pain, and knew not for what injury he moaned most.

Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 3:30 am
by Tim the Corsair
I'm not very familiar with the Fantasy universe at all (Haven't had much to do with it for almost a decade now), which makes this that much more impressive I think, as I absolutely love what you're doing.

It works very well as a fantasy story, pure and simple, and I think anyone could read this and enjoy it.

Onto specifics, I think you handle the dialect stuff very well; the 'yer' and whatnot bits are very unobtrusive, which is great; so many stories are brought undone by things like that, but you don't go overboard with it and it adds a nice bit of flavour.

Your description is very well done, and not too heavy-handed. I'll echo Nate's sentiment that "The man carried his fate like an axe, using it to hack aside all obstacles in his path" is one of the best lines I think I've heard. Absolutely perfect.

I'm struggling to come up with any worthwhile criticism to be honest with you! Keep it up.

Re: The Land of Two Kings

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:24 pm
by shadowhawk2008
Ghurlag wrote:

“It left a peculiar mood,” Fearghas admitted.
“Ask anyway,” said Fearghas. “It's no matter, but ask him why the frost is late.”

Great installment my friend! More politicking in the land is revealed, tense loyalties and so forth. Nice piece!

Ghurlag wrote:[centre]Chapter Three

Aww this was far too short! Something unexpected was totally expected!