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 Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One

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PostSubject: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Sun Jan 19, 2014 9:37 pm


[ [ N O T E _ T O _ M Y _ R E A D E R S: ] ]


Required Legal Notice:
   The incomplete short story titled 'Frenzy' by Chris Westwind is protected under copyright, and legal action will apply if plagiarism is committed. Do NOT show this work to anyone, be it family or friend, and do not copy, print, or save any part or the whole of the short story without the author's previous permission.


Okay, now that THAT'S out of the way! First off, thank you guys SO much for reading this. I know it takes time, and you've NO idea just how much I appreciate that.

While you're reading, if you could PLEASE be on the lookout for any grammatical and / or spelling errors, that'd be super. Send me an IM on AIM [ AzrethTheKing ], an email [ you should have my email address by this point, beta-readers. ] or a text / IM to my cell [ If you're a new beta-reader, ask for my email&number if you need them. ] if you find any.

Finally, PLEASE give me some criticism or some quick corrections / notes / ideas about the whole story overall? For example;; tell me if any dialogue sounds off, if the pacing of the plot or the fights gets weird, if threats sound hollow, if there are words I used too often, and if a character's personality seems a bit fake, etcetc?

Once again, thank you all SO MUCH for reading what I have thus far of Frenzy! It means the world to me, guys! Xoxo



[ [ P E R S O N A L _ N O T E S - O V E R A L L: ] ]

//. Used 'the boy' and 'the man', etc too often. Go back in after first draft is completed and change forms of address to rectify this.
//. Some of Lexus' dialogue rings hollow. Not enough force behind his words, and some of his threats sound fake and / or too casual. Fix this.
//. Have Lexus respond violently to anyone showing obedience -- this will further cement him as the dominant personality to the reader.
//. Readers might not know medical terminology; ie - radial nerve, zygomatic arch, etc. Maybe make these layman's terms. Revisit this issue after first draft is completed.
//. Used 'sluices / sluicing / sluiced ' far too often.
              SYNONYMS: flowed, flooded, gushed, poured, drenched, poured, soaked, cascaded, spilled, streamed, coursed, deluge
//. Expand on Val accepting Altais' ultimatum; why did Altais choose Val over other children? Did he see something in him that he didn't find in others? Note in earlier paragraphs that Altais needs someone to help him in the House of Serpents and jobs; ie mixing poisons, potions, cleaning, accounting, distributing wet work commissions, etcetc.
//.







MY BREATHS CAME IN   heavy, ragged pants as I ran, pursuers hot on my heels. My hand was clenched tightly to my ribs, blood sluicing between my fingers from the deep, burning cut on my flank. I felt myself tiring, knew that the two blades I had might not be enough to keep me alive this time. I rounded a corner, my cloak snapping in the wake of my sharp turn as I ducked into the alley, pausing to lean back against the grime-smeared wall to catch my breath. My chest heaved as I sucked in lungfuls of bitterly cold air, the movement pulling on the laceration over my ribs. Gritting my teeth, I strained my ears as the sounds of booted feet running drew ever nearer. I glanced around me, taking in my surroundings, the blindfold I usually sported to cover my disconcertingly icy gaze draped loosely around my neck.

There. Some merchant or another had left the shattered remains of a wagon at the far end of the alleyway, giving me the perfect cover to evade my would-be killers. The pain of moving made me inhale sharply as I squeezed myself underneath the wreckage, my back pressing tightly against the cart's splintered axle; I'd be picking wood shards out of my shoulders for weeks. But it offered me the best chance of staying alive, so it was worth it. I hoped.

"He went this way!" A voice rang out in the night, and I held my breath as I saw three sets of weathered boots at the end of the narrow alley. The men dropped into a winded walk, and I knew their heads would be on a swivel as they hunted for me. I let out a shaking breath as I felt the welcome chill of steel in my hands, my fingers wrapping around the hilts of my twin daggers. I had blackened the steel with ash, fat, and soot to ensure the metal wouldn't catch the light and give me away, so I knew I was safe for the time being.

My heart pounded in my ears as the men drew ever closer, and when they were a foot away from the cart, they stopped. Mouth dry, I swallowed my anxiety as I heard them get into a heated argument; clearly, they hadn't expected me to lose them quite so easily. Good. I closed my eyes and willed my racing heart to cease its frantic galloping and forced my muscles to relax, deepening my breathing and pushing away the blossoming fire of my ribs. When I opened my eyes again, all fear, all doubt had left me, leaving instead only the thrill of the hunt in their wake.

I lunged upwards, crashing through the rotted wood, and saw the shocked expression on one of my pursuer's faces before I planted my knife to the hilt in his eye. The man let out a screeching wail before toppling backwards, dead before he hit the ground. The other two wheeled to face me, and before the one on the left could even raise his sword, the dagger in my left hand had given him a bloody red smile from ear to ear. Hot blood spattered and steamed as it hit both the ground and me alike, and the taste of bitter iron was a welcome sharpness on my tongue. The remaining man looked on in horror as his friend sagged against the wall, toppling over to land hard on the ground as his miserable life bled out of him.

I offered the man a lupine grin as I skipped back a step, falling into a relaxed crouch, my knives held out in front of me. With a terrible roar, the man rushed forwards, and his cry of rage turned quickly into a gurgling, choked scream as I crossed my wrists, the edges of my knives slicing so deep into either side of his throat that I was genuinely surprised when his head didn't fall from his shoulders. I looked on coldly as the dying man fell to his knees, blood drenching the sleeves of my shirt, and I planted my foot firmly on his sternum, pushing him over backwards as I slid my blades out of flesh, muscle, and bone.

I wiped my daggers on the man's pants and straightened, looking down at the three corpses, feeling a smile grace my lips. They had made this far too easy for me. I stooped and ripped the bronze tags off their bodies, some with three holes punched into the metal, some with five, and leaned back against the wall as I strung the tags onto the chain at my belt. That made nearly thirty tags, all Rank 3 and above -- I was one step closer to getting out of this cursed city for good. I surveyed my handiwork a final time before straightening my clothes and stepping out of the alley, turning my face upwards, basking in the cold, apathetic light of the full moon as she smiled down on me.

This game of life and death was aptly called 'Frenzy'. And I absolutely excelled at it.



[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
How is the intro's pace?
When Altais takes down the third pursuer, double check flow of his actions during final read through of first draft once completed.
Something about his movements; possibly change to him crossing his wrists to block, then jerking his blades outward, thus severing his spinal column? Double-check.



Last edited by King Azreth on Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:52 pm; edited 17 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:19 pm



THIS MIGHT COME AS A SURPRISE   but I have been playing Frenzy for thirteen years, ever since I was a small boy. Which means I've been a killer since before my voice even broke. If you were born a citizen of Corsairh, the Priests of Ervael -- the God of Choice and Shadow -- whisked you away in the small hours of morning on your eleventh birthday to Ervael's Tower: the sky-scraping, pristine white tower that speared the hazy skies above Corsairh. You were ushered up those countless steps to stand beside the giant, cowled carving of Ervael, and you were made to look out over the bleak despair of the city. You were forced to stand still, unspeaking, unmoving for an hour, just watching and listening. Listening to the sounds of human lives being taken for nothing more than a rain-soaked, moldy piece of bread. Listening to the last gasping breaths of mothers, with children wailing, clutching their mother’s bloody skirts as she lay dying in the street.

When the day’s light was nothing but a fading memory and the cold began to seep into your bones, you were taken back down the stairs into a small little room, with nothing more than two wooden stools in it. In that room, you were given a choice, as was befitting to Ervael’s worshipers. A hooded man would enter and sit down across from you, and he would explain to you how you had been cursed to be born in Corsairh. How there was no way out into the bright lands beyond, how there was no climbing the massive, stained walls and avoiding their faceless sentries. How that small tattoo on your wrist marked you as a native to the crime-riddled city, and how you were marked with it on the day of your birth. But that small tattoo gave you a privilege to play in a game most people would never even know of, the game that made our city so unique, the game that would forever change your life: ‘Frenzy’.

The faceless man would give truth to all the rumors you had heard as a child; how playing Frenzy was the only way to leave Corsairh if you had had the misfortune to be born there, how Frenzy turned innocent children into cold-hearted murderers, and how it truly was going to either make or break you, depending on how well you played. The rules of the game were simple. If you made the choice to play, you were given a bracelet, with five bronze disks hanging from it. You must always wear the bracelet with at least one tag on it to show that you were a challenger in Frenzy, and must always carry all of the tags you had on you.  Each bronze disk had a certain number of circles punched into it: the first tag had one circle, the second one two and so on and so forth. Those circles represented Ranks, and the higher the rank, the more difficult the tag would be to obtain.

And of course, the only way to obtain a tag was to either defeat or kill the one who carried it. Now, to be able to leave the strangling embrace of Corsairh, one must challenge Ervael’s Hand, and the only way to do that was to present fifty Rank Five tags to the priests of Ervael. This, of course, meant that you had to defeat or kill fifty people, at the very least. And at the ripe age of eleven, everyone who had more than one Rank Five tag was far more skilled than you, and you were very likely to die in your first attempt to gain an R5. You had to use your intelligence and your physical skills to kill your opponent and take their tags. However, there were strict rules in Frenzy that you had to follow if you wanted to get out. The first rule was that when challenging an opponent to take one or more of their tags, you must have at least one eyewitness present. This was never a problem, considering there were always spectators to watch Frenzies fight. Rule two was that while you did not have to kill your opponent, they must be rendered unconscious in the fight in order for you to take their tags.

Rule three stated that you may not take more than two tags per challenger – the two tags could be any rank, but if you took more than you were supposed to, the eyewitnesses would take note, and you would be killed by the enforcers of Frenzy, who were called Hounds. Hounds patrolled the cramped streets of Corsairh at every hour of the day and night, and they were allowed to use whatever means necessary to ensure that Frenzies followed the rules of the game. Adhere by the rules, and you were able to gain tags in any way you chose. One of the more interesting things about Frenzy was that there were dealers in Ervael's Tower where you could trade in your lower-rank tags to get food, water, and medical supplies. Of course, cleaner water, better food, and more advanced medical supplies required higher tags, but it was a genius system that kept all tag ranks in circulation from players to the church and back again.

And I had been a player in Frenzy for thirteen years now, and already I had over twenty Rank Five’s. When the priests first told me what Frenzy was and how it worked, I had found a purpose, had found a justification for the violent acts I knew that I would commit in the future. Who could blame me, after all, if every person I killed was to free myself from the choking fetters of Corsairh's mighty walls? Although to be honest, I wasn't truly seeking freedom from Corsairh. No, unlike all those other poor fools who thought life outside the city would be great, I was merely in it for the challenge. I held no thoughts for what I would do if I were allowed to leave Corsairh; this stinking city was all I had ever known, and while I knew that there were no laws here, there were certainly laws everywhere else. And that would certainly put a damper on my spirits -- not to mention my favorite ways of passing time. The only reason I wanted to challenge Ervael’s Hand was because I wanted to be the one everyone worshiped and feared.

And I knew that one day, and one day soon, I would take my rightful place in this stinking city.



[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Do the rules of Frenzy make sense?
Explanation of Ranks and Tags easy to follow to readers?
Also, does Altais' desire to become the next Hand fit well with his personality?
Double-check in final read-through of first draft.



Last edited by King Azreth on Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:38 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Mon Jan 20, 2014 6:07 pm



NARROW ROADS SPREAD HAPHAZARDLY   in every direction, and I stood at the intersection for a moment before heading northeast, towards Ervael's Tower. I needed to restock my medical supplies before heading back to the Serpents' headquarters, the place I called home. Over the last five years, I had somehow become the leader of the most feared Assassin's Guild on the whole of Alchaea: the Black Serpents. I suppose my natural skill with a knife had come in handy, but the men there -- some many times older than myself -- looked up to me, and before I knew it, two years after passing my initiation, I was their leader. Odd, isn't it? The entirety of my life revolved around killing. Gods, I needed a hobby.

Loud footsteps resounded off the buildings on either side of the street as a young boy of perhaps twelve winters ran by, clutching a bronze tag in a blood-slicked hand. As he passed by me, I caught the gleam of triumph in the boy's haunted gaze, and I felt an answering smile on my lips. Ah. I watched the boy's receding figure with interest before doubling back the way I had come. What rank had the child just killed for? When I was his age, I had been going after R4s, but those were notoriously difficult to obtain through mere force for a boy of twelve. I pulled up my hood to conceal my features as the boy dropped into a walk, and the silver R5 threaded on a chain around my neck chimed softly with each step I took. I always found comfort in the sound, though I couldn't explain why even if my life depended on it. I was jolted from my thoughts when the boy wheeled around, brandishing a knife, his little features grim.

"Why're you following me?" The boy had what seemed to be light-colored hair under all the grime, and his clothes were little better than rags. His blood-covered hand was clenched protectively around his prize; everyone in Corsairh knew that you needed to guard just-won tags jealously, as there were always people willing to swipe them off of you. My eyes automatically slid to his right wrist -- the customary place to wear your Tags -- and I noted he had two or three R3s sprinkled among the R1s and R2s. Interesting. I watched the boy warily from behind my blindfold, asking myself the same question. Indeed, why was I following him? I certainly didn't want to take his tags; that was just wrong on so many levels, and I never targeted someone younger than myself unless they held at least an R4, though many assholes targeted children since they were easy kills.

"Curiosity mostly, I suppose. What Rank did you win, boy?" I asked. "Who did you kill?"

"I stuck someone at least five years older than me! He was real big, but slow too," the child grinned, his eyes shining. "He only had two R3's, though." The kid seemed disappointed; so he had targeted holders of R4s before? Very interesting. "M'name's Valek, Val for short. What's yours, Mister?" Now that the kid knew I wasn't going to steal his tags, he seemed nice enough. I guess he hadn't learned friendliness gets you killed in Corsairh quicker than stupidity yet.

"Altais," I replied. "You have to start somewhere, and you can trade in R3's for food and clean water or something. I'm actually headed to the Tower now, if you'd like to come with me. But before you know it, kid, you'll be killing off R5s, and then it's only a matter of time before you can challenge the Hand and leave." I ran a hand through my hair, at a loss for what to say. I'd never been one for conversation; I usually let my blades speak for themselves. Besides, I had very little experience in communication that didn't involve threats.

"Yeah, I'll come with, if that's alright. Better to travel with a grown-up, since no one'll attack me if I'm around you. I hope, anyway."

I nodded and turned on my heel, heading back towards the Tower. I hadn't eaten in a while, and I needed to restock the Serpents' supplies. Plus, there was a Priest who'd trade me some top-shelf wine for a couple of R5s. I opened my mouth to tell Val I'd pay for his supper when I caught the gleam of steel in the darkness. I was just in time to twist at the waist, narrowly avoiding the knife in the boy's small hand; it would've slid cleanly between my ribs had Val landed the strike. I grabbed the child's wrist and dug my thumb roughly into the boy's radial nerve, forcing his hand open. The blade fell to the urine-slicked cobblestones, clanging loudly as it skittered across the ground.

"What in the Nine Hells do you think you're doing, kid?" I jerked Val's arm forward and tucked my foot in front of his ankle, unbalancing him so he couldn't writhe free from my grip.

"Gimmie your tags, Altais. I need 'em to get out of here," Val said, struggling and trying to pull away from me, but I closed my fingers around his other wrist and whirled the boy around. I held Val against the front of my torso, immobilizing him as the kid whimpered.

"Quit struggling; you can't overpower me. Be thankful I actually have some morals, otherwise you would've been dead the moment you showed steel, boy. Plus, why go after me? There are plenty of easier targets out there to fight."

"You're that Altais, aren't you? Altais Malbain, leader of the Black Serpents, and you got your first R5 when you were twelve. You're a legend to us, and if I killed you and took your tags, no one would ever mess with me again!" Val attempted to twist his wrist from my grasp, and I let him go, giving him a shove between his shoulder blades to send him staggering forward. The boy whipped around and pointed a grimy finger at my chest, where a single silver tag rested over my sternum on a thin silver chain. "You're the only person besides the Hand who has a silver R5, and you're the only guy that wears his tags on his belt. That and your blindfold is how everyone knows who you are. They're like a big target painted on your back, you know."

"Target?" I blinked in surprise. Could the boy really be this naive? I hooked a finger under the hem of my blindfold and tugged, allowing the soft silk to pool at the hollow of my throat as I glared icily at the child. "And you didn’t think of how many people have tried to do the same thing you intended to? You never wondered why I wore a custom-made silver R5, as opposed to just a common bronze one?" I shook my head, bewildered. "I want people to come after me, kid. It’s way less work for me if they seek me out, as opposed to the other way around. It’s a general rule that R5’s almost always target other R5’s. Why should I expend the time, energy and effort in hunting someone down if I know that they’ll come after me sooner or later? With the knowledge that I’ll be targeted, I’ll happily lie in wait with the advantage. It’s simple common sense that you seem to be lacking."

Val's lower lip quivered as he met my fierce gaze, his eyes shining with tears. It was obvious, even to me, that the boy's short-lived hopes had hinged on killing me. Well, that certainly wasn't going to happen. Literally dozens of people had tried the very same thing Val had just attempted, and I had killed all of them without speaking a single word. I suppose I didn't kill Val because the boy was so young; looking back on it, I guess I saw some potential in the child. Granted, if you lived past twelve in Corsairh, you were seen as an adult, considering staying alive was so damned hard. But he was still a child, and even though he was participating in Frenzy, he still retained some of the innocence of youth that most boys lost with their first kill.

"You don’t even get it, do you? You walk around, all high and mighty, because no one’s been able to lay a finger on you since you’ve been in Frenzy! And because you’re the leader of the Serpents, you think you’re unbreakable. Well, you’re wrong!" Val’s face lit up in a wide smile, and that was all the warning I had. I felt a disturbance in the air behind me and dropped down into a crouch just in time. I heard the whuff whuff of a throwing knife pass over my head, and I turned to face my new attacker. Great. It was yet another young boy, presumably one of Val’s friends. The child had another small blade in his hand, elbow cocked back to send it flying towards me.

I pushed off of the ground, springing forward towards the new boy. I collided with the child, wrapping my leanly-muscled arm around the boy's neck and knocked the throwing dagger from his hand. The boy let out a grunt as he was pushed backwards, sprawling on the hard cobblestones. I reached down to my belt with my free hand, sliding one of my trusty stilettos from its sheath. I pressed the tip of the blade against the kid's neck, and the boy stopped struggling immediately.

"Move and your friend dies, Val. I might not want to kill children, but that doesn't mean I won't." I knew that Val had been approaching slowly behind me, trying to put a knife between my shoulder blades. Sighing, I stood from my crouch and turned to face Val, dragging my small captive around with me. "Care to know what happens when you double-cross a Black Serpent?"

Val glared at me from ten paces away, his little hand shaking in a white-knuckled grip on his knife. Several emotions flashed across the young boy's face at my question until the boy realized he already knew the answer. His shoulders sagged in defeat, and I let out a breath of quiet relief. Good. I wouldn't need to kill the kid's friend just to make my point.

"Don't hurt Wren, alright? He didn't know who you were. I was the one who set you up, okay?"

I forced down laughter. Don't hurt the boy? Who was this child to make such a request of me, after what he had done? In a city that positively thrived on violence and betrayal, no one had the right to live. Regardless of who it was that had set me up, though, I was not one to take a threat to my life -- as incompetent as it was -- so easily. I offered the boy a smile, shifting my weight so the stiletto drew a small bead of blood from Wren's neck. "An exchange. His life in return for yours," I said, and I knew that Val saw the coldness in my eyes. "You will serve me, Val."



[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Does Altais' decision to have Val serve him seem to convenient, or too quickly-made? Something about it seems slightly off; maybe I just went about it the wrong way.
Double-check on second draft / final read-through of first draft once it's done.
Maybe explain Altais' reasoning behind his decision; why he needs someone to serve him, why he chose Val instead of someone else, etcetc.



Last edited by King Azreth on Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:37 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Mon Jan 20, 2014 6:45 pm



IT HAD BEEN FIVE   years since Val had agreed to come serve me, and the kid had settled into his new life reasonably well, though he was now a teenager, and was giving me the headache I was sure all parents dealt with when their kids were this age. But even though he was only fifteen, Val did everything I asked of him to the best of his ability, immersing himself completely into his training. When the boy had turned thirteen, I explained to him that I was grooming him to be a highly-skilled assassin; something this city hadn't seen since I was a boy. On his thirteenth birthday, I'd allowed Val to move from the hovel he called home to the House of Serpents, and he'd begun his official weapons training. The boy had taken to daggers like a pig in shit -- I'd had him try my weapon of choice, the katar, and he absolutely abhorred it -- but he'd learned and mastered the daggers quickly, rising through the ranks of newcomers even at such a young age.

"Alright." I clapped my hands, getting the attention of Val and Rory, the weapons-master of the House of Serpents. "I think that's enough for today, gentlemen; Rory seems to be at his limit, and I need you for some work today, Val." Rory flashed me a look of gratitude and sheathed his sword, wiping sweat from his brow. Val clapped a fist to his heart in salute to the man, cleaned his practice rapier and put it back on the rack. He scampered over to me, full of restless energy even after a two-hour long session with Rory, and I ruffled his hair affectionately. I beckoned for the boy to follow me as I exited the salle, heading down the hall towards the refectory. "What do you say you and I put this training to use, hmm? There's an R5 I've had my eye on for a while, and for some reason, he hasn't come after me yet. However, he has been boasting to anyone who'll listen that he can kill me without breaking a sweat."

"You mean I get to come watch you fight, Master Alta?" Val's hazel eyes were wide when I nodded, and he let out a whoop of joy. I felt an answering grin curl my lips as the boy filled up his plate and started shoveling food into his mouth before he even sat down. I settled in next to him and picked at my plate, losing myself in my thoughts.

A year ago, a man had come after Val, kidnapping him in order to flush me out. When I had finally caught up with him, he and I had had a long conversation. Apparently, rumors had begun to get around that I was no longer the cold, heartless killer I had been before taking Val under my wing. The players of Frenzy believed that I had grown soft since adopting the child, going from the most ruthless killer in Corsairh to a warm-hearted father-figure. And boy, had I proved them wrong. Never before had I felt such fear as when I realized Val had been taken; indeed, the boy had grown on me, becoming something like a younger brother to me. And, yes, much as I hate to admit it, I had opened up a bit and allowed the child to worm his way into my heart. So when my opponent -- Athos -- had kidnapped him, breaking four of his fingers when 'questioning' the boy, I had felt such fear, such an all-consuming rage towards the man.

I sprinted through the alley, panting as I slammed the door to the dilapidated house closed behind me. "Athos!" I roared, jerking the blindfold off of my eyes and throwing it to the floor. I knew there was a good chance I'd have to use my Geas on Athos; the man was known for being quite cunning, and I wanted to put him down before he could hurt Val. A screeching howl of agony stopped me dead in my tracks, my fingernails digging so hard into my palms that I felt a warm trickle of blood slide down my wrist. I knew that voice; that bastard was hurting Val to get to me. "Hold on, kid. I know you can bear this, just keep your eyes open and mouth shut." I clenched my jaw and slipped silently through the various rooms in the house, searching for my target.

"Ah, there you are, Altais." Athos was sitting in a dusty wingback armchair beside a cold, dark fireplace, with Val gagged and bound to a rickety wooden chair across from him. Tears streamed down the boy's dirty cheeks, and I felt my stomach turn as I noticed that three of his fingers were broken, their angle grotesque. I growled low in my throat and stalked towards the man, but Athos stood and walked behind Val, gripping the boy's middle finger as he held my gaze. "No closer, Serpent, lest you want the child here to break another finger." I stopped. "I must say, the boy's surprised me with his...resilience. No matter how much I hurt him, he remained loyal to you and absolutely refused to give up your location. Pity, really. I actually rather dislike hurting children, but his screams are beautiful, aren't they?" A nauseating crack followed by Valek's shriek of pain made me shake with restraint; everything inside of me was telling me to kill this fucker now.

"Let the kid go, and you and I will do our dance macabre. Val served his purpose; he drew me to you. So get him out of here so you and I can kill each other, hmm?" I held my breath while Athos chewed on his lip in thought. I sighed in relief as the man nodded and untied the ropes binding Val to the chair. When the boy was free, he ripped the dirty cloth out of his mouth and threw it at my feet, glaring at me.

"See if I ever do anything for you again, asshole," Val spat, elbowing me in the ribs as he brushed past me. I felt him push something cool and round into my hand, and then he was gone. I crossed my arms, inconspicuously fingering the item he had passed to me. Ah, clever boy. I smiled and turned my attention back to Athos.

"I'm going to make you die in pure, unadulterated agony for what you did to him, Athos," I said, and then I followed through on my threat, breaking the glass vial of Riftscale on the man's face. He died screaming, the very skin on his face melting from his bones as my blade bit deep between his ribs.


It was then that I had realized just how clever my new protege was. Poisons had always been one of my favorite methods to use when doing wet work, but I hadn't known that Val had been secretly studying their use until that day. Riftscale was a nasty toxin, created by a very sadistic Alchemist some decades back. It was a fast-working agent that was necrotic -- thus why it appeared to make skin melt as the flesh died -- and I hadn't been aware that Valek always carried some on him. It made for a wonderful distraction when being chased; throw it at the feet of your pursuers, and they would immediately run in the other direction. Riftscale's smell was very unique, a sort of bitter, burning metallic scent that burned the hairs out of your nose. The toxin was mixed so it was in liquid form, placed in a fragile vial when purchased. Break the glass, and the moment the liquid oxidized, it became smoke; allow that heavy fog to touch your skin, and unless you had an antidote on you and applied it within two minutes, you were done for.

Until the day of his capture, I hadn't known just how smart the boy was, nor how fond I had actually grown of him. I would do almost anything to ensure Valek's happiness and well-being, so I guess in a way, those rumors from a year ago were true. Before I had met the child, I was cold, cruel even, giving no thought whatsoever to anyone but myself and my own aspirations. Don't get me wrong, I still desperately wanted to become the new Hand of Ervael and rule over Corsairh, but my dream had been put on the back burner while I trained Val. However, now that I knew the boy could hold his own in a fight against Rory, I could start going after R5s again.

"Altais!" Val frowned and elbowed me in the shoulder. I blinked and glanced down at him, and the boy rolled his eyes. "Gods, you've been woolgathering for the last twenty minutes." He waved a hand at his spotless plate, as well as my own. I snorted. The little fox had eaten my dinner, too, apparently. "I asked if we were going to go after that R5 tonight."

"Ah, sorry kid. Got lost in my thoughts. No, we're going to surprise him tomorrow. However, I've a meeting with one of the Hounds tonight; I have an idea that I want to propose to him." I stood up and left the dining hall, Val at my side. "I have a strategy for going after Helm, but it's never been used before in the history of Frenzy, at least not that I've been able to find. And as you know, the Hand doesn't like surprises, so I want to make sure that it's allowed." That was only part of the reason, really. Since Val played a big part in the fight, I wanted to ensure that he wouldn't be held responsible and have to face the judgement of the Hounds in the event my little scheme wasn't allowed.

"Oh, alright. Am I just watching, or do I actually get to do something this time, Master Alta?" The hope in the child's voice was so obvious that I couldn't help myself; as we walked through the dark, dirty streets of Corsairh, I outlined the planned to my protege. And with each word, the boy's eyes got wider, and his smile so big I thought his face would split in half. When I was finished, Valek let out a whoop of joy, and I laughed right along with him. I knew that once the Hound approved it, Val and I would be victorious in our fight against Helm.


[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Make sure time-skip stays constant at five years. Double-check in final read through of draft one.
Does the flashback just seem like useless filler, or does it explain a bit about Altais' change from cold-hearted bastard to concerned brother?
Also, does my explanation of Riftscale make sense?



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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:10 pm



VALEK STOOD OUT IN   front of the Tipsy Crow, Helm's favorite tavern, hollering insults at the open door. I was moving discreetly through the growing crowd, pushing them back to give Val room to fight Helm when the man finally emerged. I weaved in and out of the mass of people, making sure I kept myself out of sight in the event Helm came out before we were ready; I didn't want to be spotted too soon and show our hand, after all.

"Come on out, you lint licking, rat sniffing son of a toad! Come out and face me like a man, unless you'd prefer to frack me instead of fight me! Is that it, Helm? Do you prefer little boys instead of women?" I smothered a laugh as I saw Val prancing out in the street, waving his arms in aggrandized gestures. Gods, the kid was brave. Or entirely stupid. Or both. "Helmy! Come on out, you fool! Come fight me!" I snorted and rolled my eyes, shaking my head as the boy bent over and smacked himself on the rump just as Helm poked his head out the door.

"A scrawny thing like you thinks he can beat the great Helm?" The man emerged with a scowl on his ugly features. He was a big man, at least six-foot-two, and was packed with muscle. When he saw Val, he let out a loud guffaw, and his friends behind him snickered into their hands. Helm rested his wrist on the gigantic sword set on his hip, grinning boldly down at Val as he drew the bastard sword. Helm turned to look at his friends, smirking. "This little whelp can't be more than an R3 at best. Fine by me if he wants to throw his life awa-" Helm was cut off as Val lobbed a stone at his head, the jagged rock slicing deep into the man's cheek. The big man let out a low rumble of a growl and whipped around to face my protege, drawing his sword.

"I'm over here, turd bucket. I take it by your little chat with your buddies that you accept my challenge, then?" Good boy; he remembered that when initiating a fight when there were multiple spectators, your target must verbally confirm their intention to fight. We were going to do this by the book or not at all.

"I'd never turn down an easy chance to get some tags, boy." Helm settled into a fighter's stance, his two-handed sword held out in front of him. "Let's do thi-" Once more, Helm was cut off as Val rushed him, twin daggers held in a reverse-grip, just like I had taught him. Val dropped into a low crouch and sprang upwards, feinting with his right blade. Helm brought up his sword to block, but was thrown backwards as Val slammed his forehead into the man's nose. Helm sputtered and staggered back a few steps with a roar of pain, blood sluicing between the fingers of the hand covering his nose. Val laughed and turned around, bending over and wiggling his ass at the large man. The crowd of onlookers laughed raucously, and Helm growled furiously at the small boy.

"Oh, yer ib for it now, kib!" Helm snarled and barreled forward, raising his heavy blade above his head with a snarl. Val squealed and crossed his wrists, catching the sharp edge of Helm's sword in the intersection of his daggers, nearly falling forward at the shock of the collision. The boy let out a curse and dropped his arms, jumping backwards to put distance between himself and the large man. Val pulled his elbow back and snapped his arm forward, sending one of his blades flying right at Helm's face. The man brought his sword up in front of him and batted the blade aside with a fierce grin, the dagger clanging as it skittered across the cracked cobblestones of the street. "Won' be thab easy, kib."

"No. No, it won't." Val said, standing five yards away from the man and crossed his arms over his chest, smirking boldly up at Helm. Without warning, I flew from the knot of people behind Helm, my right arm extended as I slammed the thin blade of my katar into the right side of the large man's back, sending him tumbling forward. Helm rolled on the cobblestones, coming to a stop a foot from Val. The young boy planted the toe of his boot between the man's ribs, eliciting a grunt of pain. "Oh, whoops. Did I forget to mention that I brought company?" Val backpedaled as Helm rose to his feet panting, his small, beady eyes full of rage. The boy glanced at me and nodded curtly, backing up and blending into the crowd as Helm focused his attention on me. The ghost of a smile played on my lips; I was proud of Val. He had done exceptionally well, exactly as we had discussed.

"Web, web. Finally get the balls to cumb after me, Altaib? And ubing duch a sball kid as a dibdraction?" Helm laughed through his shattered nose, but I could tell that I had definitely done some damage to the man; perhaps even punctured a lung, judging by the rasping breaths Helm was drawing. But the big man simply rolled his shoulders and brought his bastard sword up in front of him, dropping into a fighter's crouch. "Cumb geb me, den." I bit back a curse. A normal person would've been on his knees from the pain of my strike; clearly, Helm was more stubborn than I had originally assumed.

I felt a slow grin stretch my lips as I settled my weight onto the balls of my feet, flexing my fingers before curling them around the thin metal bar in my palm. I had decided to go with my favorite weapon, the katar, based on watching Helm's tactics over the last two months; Helm was very powerful, though he was slow because of his sword. That was the only reason I had allowed Val to open for me -- I knew that Val was quick enough to dance around Helm if needed, so I hadn't worried about the kid getting hurt. Because of the slow movement of the bastard sword, I knew that speed would get me the man's tags, not power. And my stilettos didn't have much reach on them, so I had chosen the katar. They would not hamper my quick, precise movements, and the blades were a full foot compared to the seven inches of my stilettos. Plus, the extended grip of the katars gave me another four inches, which couldn't hurt.

"Step up, step up! Place your bets! Altais, Leader of the Black Serpents, versus the Great Helm! Power versus speed, brains versus brawn! Who will win this terrifying display of prowess? Place your bets! Odds are three to one, Altais!" Val took money and passed out tickets he had pre-made while he and I had gotten lunch before confronting Helm. I snorted and shook my head, rolling my eyes behind the silk of the blindfold. That damned kid would find any way to get money. I blew out a breath and rolled my shoulders, shifting my weight to the balls of my feet as I met Helm's eyes, grinning.

"Well, I wouldn't want to disappoint them, would I?"



[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Is the fighting scene between Helm and Val too...slow?
Humor of Val's insults; does it come off as funny or just crude?
Double-check on second-draft. Might need to improve the pace.

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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:42 pm



I PUSHED OFF OF   the ground with my right foot, sprinting towards Helm, my katars held out before me. Helm brought his sword up horizontally in front of him, parallel with the ground as he waited for my attack. I knew the man would feint, so I planted my left foot on the ground and sprang sideways, darting with immeasurable speed around Helm's first strike. I swung around Helm's left side and whipped my right arm out, the blade of my katar leaving a long line of red up the man's arm, cutting deep into muscle and tendon. A scream fell from the big man's lips as blood fell from the wound, and the fingers of his hand refused to close around the hilt of his sword.

I skidded to a stop, crouching down low to the ground as I grinned up at the man. "Yield now, Helm, and I'll let you leave with your life. Just hand over your tags." I knew that I could beat Helm with a hand tied behind my back, and while I normally didn't show mercy to my opponents, I felt I needed to set a good example for Val; I didn't want the kid growing up to be exactly like me, after all. But apparently, Helm wasn't going to lose face in front of an audience.

The big man roared and rushed forward, wielding his bastard sword one-handed above his head. I grimaced and made to lunge sideways, but strong fingers closed around my upper arms, holding me down. I gasped and tried to slam my occipital bone into my captor's nose, but Helm's friend jerked his head to the side, easily avoiding the move. "Get 'im, Helm!"

With a scream reminiscent of a kicked cat, Val came charging out of the crowd and threw himself into Helm, slamming his shoulder into the wound in the man's back. Helm let out a cry as he lost his balance, and I took advantage of the confusion by somersaulting forward, slipping easily out of my captor's grasp. I rolled to my feet and clapped Val on the back as the boy trotted by me before I sprung without hesitation onto Helm's fallen form. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my protege throw himself onto Helm's friend, his daggers catching the light of the sun as Val plunged them deep into the man's stomach. Good boy. I planted my knee on Helm's sternum and drove the thin blade of my katar upwards between the man's ribs, and felt a wave of heat roll over me as he felt the metal part tendon and muscle, its tip driving deep into Helm's heart. The big man sputtered and let out a low gasp, blood spilling from between his lips. I smiled down at the man as I pulled my katar from Helm's torso, wiping the blade on the man's shirt. Helm gave a final, shuddering breath, and the light left his eyes as he fell limp. I blew out a breath and wiped sweat from my brow with the back of my bloody hand before pulling the four R5's from the man's wrist.

"Well done, Val." I stood up and turned smartly on my heel, pressing the lever on my palm that returned the blades of the katar to their built-in sheaths strapped to my forearms. I strode over to my protege as the boy slipped his foe's bracelet off, gripping the tags in a bloody palm as he turned and grinned up at me. I dropped a hand to the boy's head, ruffling his hair. "Nice work, kid." I glanced around, blinking behind my blindfold as I realized that the crowd was far too quiet. Shit. The mass of people parted as three Hounds emerged and strode over to me and Val, their snarling, angry masks hiding the men's features.

"Master..?" I heard a tremor of fear in Val's voice, and I squeezed the boy's shoulder reassuringly.

"Hush, kid. Let me do the talking."

"Altais Malbain. Valek Revaille. Surrender your weapons and come with us." The Hound held out his hands, and I grimaced as Val unstrapped the katars from my arms, handing them over to the man before relinquishing his own daggers. "Follow." The other two Hounds fell in on either side of us as we were marched out of the street, towards the giant form of Ervael atop his tower.



[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
How's the pace of the fight? Anything need to be changed?



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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:09 pm



VAL AND I WAITED   in silence  in a small, windowless room inside of Ervael's tower, Val pacing restlessly and myself leaning back against a wall, arms crossed over my chest. I knew that the Hand wanted to talk to us about our little show, but that was as much as I had ascertained from the Hounds. Which was strange to me, considering I had gotten our scheme approved by one of the Hound Overseers; a sort of Captain among the referees of Frenzy. At the sound of footsteps outside of the door, Val trotted over to me and pressed himself tightly against my side, and I could feel the boy shaking. I wrapped my arm around his thin waist protectively, wordlessly letting him know I wouldn't let anything happen to him.

The door opened and a man swept into the room, the heels of his boots clicking purposefully on the marble floor. Long black hair fell in a straight wave over his shoulders and down his back, coming to a stop just above his navel. He was clothed in all black, save a white ascot at his neck. The hood of his cloak hid his features from Val and I, but even without seeing his face, I knew the man standing before us.

"Val," I said, "Meet Lexus, Hand of Ervael and Master of Frenzy." I inclined my head to the man, and Val dipped into a low bow beside me; good, the boy remembered his manners. Not that I thought it'd do us any good. "To what do we owe this honor?"

The man reached up with gloved hands and lowered his hood, revealing sharp, angular features. His eyes were hard, his full lips curved into a cruel smile. "It seems you two caused quite a stir earlier today, hmm?" His voice was high, lilting, almost musical, but I heard a note of insanity twining through the man's words. "In all the centuries that Frenzy has been around, two players have never teamed up against an opponent." Lexus toyed with a strand of his hair, his blue eyes hard. "Quite unheard of."

Val opened his mouth to speak, but I slipped my hand over the boy's lips, pulling Valek behind me and cutting him off. "Indeed, but I spoke to one of your Hounds earlier this morning, and he assured me it didn't go against the rules of Frenzy." I could feel Val shaking against my back and I grimaced, praying that the boy would keep his mouth shut and let me do the talking. "We didn't mean to cause a stir, as you say."

"Oh, I'm sure that wasn't your intention, no. But the fact remains that you made some waves today, and that could prove...problematic." Lexus strode over to the single stool in the room, sitting down as if it were a throne and not some rickety wooden thing, crossing his long legs before him. "So, what am I to do about this, pray tell?"

I squeezed Valek's shoulder and moved to face Lexus, my fingers itching for a weapon. "What, exactly, is the issue here, Lexus?" I heard Val inhale sharply at my insubordinate tone, but I went on. "I fail to see the problem, considering one of Helm's friends jumped in without invitation." I hooked a finger under the hem of my blindfold and pulled down, the fabric pooling around my neck so that I could meet Lexus' gaze. "Judging by that, I really don't see how us teaming up is relevant. Seems like a moot point to me." In a blur of motion, Lexus sprang from the stool and slammed his forearm into my neck, pinning me against the wall, his face mere inches from my own. The man moved insanely fast; I didn't even have a chance to break his hold on me before he leaned his weight against his forearm, cutting off my air for a moment. I grimaced and balled my hands into fists, but forced myself to keep from moving; the blade pressed against my neck was a wordless warning that I was quite keen on heeding.

"The issue here, Altais, is the fact that you and your little friend here blatantly disobeyed the rules of Frenzy." The Hand's tone was venomous, and the arm on my neck tightened, making each breath a struggle. "The issue is that even though there are no rules expressly forbidding cooperation between those participating in Frenzy, it should have been cleared with me personally before the fight." Lexus applied pressure on the blade held to my throat, a point of fire blossoming on my skin, the small bead of blood the steel drew a stark contrast against my porcelain skin. "And the Hound who approved your little idea fell ill to a knife in the back earlier. Tragic, really. I'm thinking it's a quite contagious disease, and you and Valek might have caught it from him."

"Master Lexus, please! Don't hurt Altais any more; it was my idea. But I thought the Hound wouldn't listen if it came from someone as low-ranked as me, so I asked Altais to ask him in my stead. So kill me if you have to, but not him!" Valek's voice was shaking with fear as he spoke, but I knew what was going through the kid's head. He couldn't stand it if I were killed. I had taken him under my wing, providing food, a warm bed, training, and a life worth living without expecting anything from Val in return. If giving up his life was how he could pay me back, then I knew Val would do it in a heartbeat, regardless of the fact that that was the last thing I wanted.

"Oh?" A flicker of amusement crossed the Hand's face as he pivoted slightly, turning his attention towards Valek while still keeping me pinned to the wall. "What a loyal little pet you've found yourself, Altais." Lexus drew the point of the knife lightly across my throat, a smile playing on the Hand's full mouth as I tensed. "Who knew that the cold-blooded serpent would open his heart to someone? Or do you simply fancy little boys who haven't even gotten their hair yet?"

I clenched my teeth so hard that my jaw hurt at the insult, but I didn't rise to the bait; I knew better than that. Val, however, didn't.



[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Should I have Lexus try to kill Altais and / or Valek? Or should I have Lexus let them off with a warning?
IMPORTANT: Lex mentions that no one has teamed up to fight an opponent;; however, in the intro, three go after Altais, and Val and Wren team up against Altais. Fix this to make it where no one has officially teamed up against a player.
ie; when there is a crowd of spectators, and multiple Hounds watching the match.



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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:17 pm



VALEK TOOK A STEP   forward, fury blazing in his hazel eyes as he reached out and wrapped small, slender fingers around Lexus' wrist, having to stand on the balls of his feet to do so, as the Hand was easily a foot and a half taller than he was. The moment his fingers touched the Hand's skin, Lexus became a blur of motion. He used his free hand to grip my boy on the shoulder, sweeping his leg under the kid's feet while pulling forward and down simultaneously, knocking Val off of his feet.

Valek grunted as he hit the stone floor hard, knocking his chin and doubtlessly making him see stars for several moments. The boy groaned and heaved himself up onto his hands and knees, feeling light-headed and dizzy. That done, Lexus returned his attention to me, his head bent as he whispered something into my ear, his words soft. "Keep resisting like this, and I'll kill your protege nice and slowly, assassin. I'll make him scream and beg and cry while you watch, unable to do anything to save him." My eyes widened, and I knew that Val saw all the color drain from my face. I groaned as I saw rage wash through Val, and the kid shot to his feet, pushing off of the ground to lunge at Lexus in another attempt to get him off of me. But Lexus simply stepped to the side and used his free hand to give the boy a gentle shove between the shoulder blades, using Val's momentum against him to send the child face-first into the wall not three inches away from me. The boy let out a strangled scream as I heard the sharp crack of his nose shattering against the wall and Val reeled, staggering backwards and falling gracelessly onto his rump. Tears streamed from his eyes as he covered his nose with his hand, blood sluicing between his small fingers.

"Why?" He yelled at Lexus, his cheeks flushed red from mingled anger and pain, his left hand curled into a fist on the ground. "Why do you have to punish us for something that isn't even against the thrice-damned rules?!" Valek sucked in a lungful of air, his voice shaking as he continued. "We've played your stupid game for years, and we've followed every single rule! Altais is one of your best players -- if not the best! -- and you have go and focus on the one thing we did? We showed innovation, dammit! The Hound approved it, the crowd obviously loved it, and we followed all of the guidelines! So why can't you just pat us on the back like a normal person and let us go?!"

With each word the boy spoke, I felt a sinking in my gut, felt a cold knot of fear settle in my heart for the first time in over a year. I opened my mouth to tell the boy to be quiet, to shut the hell up and we might make it out of this alive, but Lexus' hand slipped over my mouth, sealing my lips. I closed my eyes in despair as I tilted my head back, sending a wordless plea up to the Gods, praying that they'd spare Val. Lexus watched on in amusement as Valek screamed at him, allowing the child's insults to wash off of him.

When Val's words finally fell silent, he stood panting, glaring at the Hand of Ervael, and I fervently hoped that the Gods had heard my desperate prayer. I turned my head to the side, trying to get Lexus' hand off of my mouth, but the man was smart; his hand was completely flat over my lips, so I couldn't even bite the flesh of his palm. I groaned in bleak heartache when I saw a slow, vicious smile curve the Hand's mouth, saw the malicious glint in the man's hard eyes. Lexus turned away from me, though he kept his hand covering my lips, and leveled a cool glare on my protege, flipping the dagger he held in his free hand into the air and catching it by the hilt when it fell, pointing it towards the child.

"You are either a very brave or a very stupid boy, Valek Revaille," Lexus said. The man palmed his dagger and his free hand fell to my waist, fingering the forty-something R5s on the chain attached to my belt. "Your master here is less than ten Tags away from getting out of Corsairh, and you are going to fuck it all up if you keep prattling on and whining. Is that what you want, boy?" I saw the color drain from Val's face at the Hand's words, and the boy clamped his mouth shut, silently shaking his head. Lexus grinned. "Didn't think so." The hand keeping me silent fell from my mouth, and I drew in a deep breath, though I knew better than to speak; Lexus was known for his hair-trigger temper, and I didn't want to send him into a murderous rage, at least when Val was in the same room. The Hand glanced at me as he slid his dagger into its sheath on his belt before turning to face Val, speaking to me over his shoulder. "Move, and the boy dies, Altais. Understand?"

I grit my teeth, wanting nothing more than to drive a blade into the man's heart. But lacking any sort of weaponry, I simply nodded. "Got it," I replied.

"Good," Lexus turned away from me and padded over to Valek, standing so close to the boy that they were almost touching. He tilted his head to the side as he looked down at the young teen, a lupine grin on his lips. "Tell me, scum. How many R5s have you gotten since you met Altais?"

I saw Val swallow visibly, and he glanced nervously at me. I nodded, wordlessly telling him to obey the Hand; it was the only chance we had of making it out of the Tower alive. Valek gulped audibly and looked up at Lexus after fingering the Tags on his bracelet, silently counting the ones with five circles stamped into their bronze faces. "T-Thirty four, sir," he said, and I could plainly hear the fear in his trembling voice.

"I see," Lexus replied, "And how many R5s did you have before meeting your mentor?"

"Um," Once more, Val looked at me, and yet again, I nodded for him to answer. "T-Two, Milord Hand."

"Ah." Lexus smiled and ran his fingers through Val's blonde hair, and I felt my lips pull back in a silent snarl. I didn't want this sick, twisted bastard ever touching my protege. "So I believe it's safe to say that without Altais here, you'd be a pitiful, insignificant little shit who's absolutely worthless as a player in Frenzy, no?"

"W-What?" Val cringed away from the man's touch, his hazel eyes wide and filled with tears. Even though the insult was flung so casually at the young boy, I could tell it cut Val far more deeply than any blade ever could. "Y-You're wrong!" Val screamed, and I bit back a sob of dread; it was only a matter of time before Val said something that Lexus wouldn't forgive. "You know nothing, Hand! You're just a cruel, sadistic bastar-"

"No!" I screamed, cutting off the boy's words. But it was too late. I saw a mask of such vehemence, such intense animosity that twisted the Hand's features in an explosion of wrath. My eyes widened in panicked, wretched terror as my heart shriveled into a small, cold, cumbersome knot and sank deep down into my gut.  "Gods, boy, what have you done?" Oh, Gods, what did he do...?



[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
How does Lexus come off? I want him to be confident, cold, collected, but also entirely lethal at any given moment, even during conversation. Has this been achieved, or do I need to go back in and tweak some things?
Also, I want to show that Lexus has no qualms with using violence to make his point. Did I portray this accurately?



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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:39 pm



EVERYTHING HAPPENED IN SLOW   motion. I saw the bright glint of steel in Lexus' hand, saw Valek's eyes widen as he flinched, taking a step backwards, saw Lexus raise his arm high over his head, the point of his blade headed straight for the boy's heart as the Hand laughed; a high, ruthless, sadistic sound. Before I knew what I was doing, I lunged forward, faster than I had ever gone in my life, darting around the Hand to place myself between Lexus and my boy. I shoved Valek behind me, sending him toppling over backwards as he tripped over his own feet, then raised my right arm in front of me in a futile attempt to block the Hand's blade. The expression on the man's face flashed from surprise to rage, then to a fierce, triumphant joy; he knew as well as I did that with no weapon, I had absolutely no chance of blocking his blade.

The Hand let out a bark of malevolent laughter as I felt a hot, excruciating lance of pain in my shoulder, felt the wash of warmth as blood blossomed and poured down my chest and arm. I cried out in agony as my legs gave out beneath me, felt them buckle as I fell to my knees, the Hand's long, wickedly sharp blade still embedded in flesh, muscle, and bone. I hung my head, panting around the fiery waves of pain coursing through the entire left side of my torso, shaking in shock. Eyes wide, I tilted my head back to look into the eyes of the Hand, and I saw such inhumane cruelty there that I was genuinely astonished that I had never seen it before in my few dealings with Lexus. The man smiled down as he dropped into a crouch so he was eye-level with me and he reached out, placing a cool, slender-fingered hand on my cheek.

"I never would have thought that the great Altais Malbain, youngest man to ever kill for an R5, leader of the Black Serpents, and the best assassin in Alchaea, would willingly take a knife for the sake of a small, whining, petulant brat." Lexus' hand dropped from my cheek, his fingers wrapping around the hilt of the seven-inch blade sticking out of my shoulder. A scream of anguish was torn from my throat as the Hand cruelly twisted the blade, ripping all the breath from my lungs and thoughts from my mind in a wave of pure, unadulterated agony. "But you've done it, Altais. You've allowed your love, your weakness for this boy to burrow into your brain, into your heart, and because of that, he will be your downfall."

"No." I opened my mouth to reply when I heard Valek's low growl behind me, and out of the corner of my tear-filled eyes, I saw him stagger over to the Hand. He squared his shoulders as he glared up at Lexus, who rose from his crouch to look down his nose at the boy. "No, you're wrong, Lexus." In a flash of sudden motion, Lexus backhanded the boy, sending Val sprawling onto the hard stone of the floor as he yelped in pain. I cringed as I heard the audible crack of a bone being broken from the force of Lexus' blow, and Val tumbled in a flail of limbs before rolling to a stop beside me, groaning as he cradled his head in his hands.

When the boy finally raised his head, I inhaled sharply: Val's zygomatic arch had been shattered, and blood sluiced from his nose, down over his lips to drip off of his chin, pattering onto the floor. Righteous wrath made me see nothing but bright red when I saw the damage done to the sweet child, but I knew that acting on my anger would only make things worse for both of us. So instead, I simply wrapped a shaking hand around Val's thin wrist, and when he glanced down at me, I shook my head wordlessly.

"Please, boy, stop." The blatant pleading in my voice shut Val up far better than anger ever could. I saw a flash of hurt, of guilt in the child's hazel eyes, and the boy hung his head, biting his lower lip. I returned my attention to Lexus, who watched us in amusement. "Please, Hand. Let us go. We've learned our lesson; never again will we attempt anything new in Frenzy without first personally clearing it with you. So please, let us go. Keep me here if you must, but please let the boy go." I knew before I had even finished speaking that my words fell upon deaf ears.

"Mmm," the Hand tilted his head to the side, bending at the waist to reach down and caress my cheek, though he didn't take offense when I cringed away from his touch. "No, I don't think so, Altais. This little brat of yours talks far too much, and you've been putting on airs since the moment you won your first R5." Lexus gripped the hilt of his dagger and wrenched the blade out of my shoulder. I let out a low groan, gagging on the taste of bitter iron from my raw, bloody throat, and I swayed, dizzy from the pain. I gasped when I felt Val press something against the wound as he applied pressure to my shoulder in an attempt to stem the bleeding. "Now, I've absolutely no idea what to do about you, Altais, but I think I can solve Valek's little problem."

I felt a sinking in my stomach; I didn't like the tone of Lexus' voice at all. The Hand motioned me to stand, and with Valek's assistance, I was able to stagger to my feet. My protege helped me stumble over to the wall, and I gratefully leaned against it for support, pressing my hand to the wadded up strip of cloth Val had pressed against my shoulder; apparently, he had used the silk blindfold I had thrown on the ground some time ago. Smart boy. Val's fingers were wrapped protectively around my wrist as he glared up at Lexus, who stood a couple of feet away, between us and the door.

"I believe cutting out the little whelp's tongue will take care of his incessant babbling. Don't you agree, Altais?" The Hand smiled at me.

"I won't let you do that, Lexus." I heard Val whimper, felt him shaking against my side. "I would rather die than let you bring any harm to him, Hand."

"Oh!" Lexus gave me a wolfish grin and clapped his hands. "What a wonderful idea, Altais!" The man turned smartly on his heel and strode over to the door, knocking on it three times. After a moment, it opened from the outside and a Hound popped his head in, the snarling canine mask hiding his features.

"Yes, My Lord?"

"Fetch the weapons of Altais Malbain and Valek Revaille, Hound. They've decided to fight one-another for my amusement."

"Y-Yes, Master Hand, right away," the Hound replied, disappearing back into the hall and shutting the door firmly behind him. I heard the faint click as the door was locked from the outside once again.

"Well, then," Lexus said as he turned back to face us, a slow, depraved smile twisting his pleasant face. "When your weapons are in your hands, gentlemen, the two of you will fight each other to the death. I'd say you're about equal in skill, since Altais took a blade for you, Valek." My mouth hung open, and my ears were ringing, so stunned was I. I swore I had heard the man wrong, but Lexus continued speaking. "I can see by your faces that you don't want to do this. However, if one of you refuse, I will torture both of you in ways that will make you long for the sweet release of death." The Hand's voice was hard as steel, leaving absolutely no room to doubt the truth of his words. "Understand?"

I heard Valek stifle a sob, and I myself wanted nothing more than to break down crying. Gods, Gods, how had we gotten ourselves into this mess? I knew that unless Val and I fought one another, both of us would regret it for the rest of our miserable lives. tears stung the corners of my eyes, and my throat burned with anger, with resentment and guilt and bleak despair. One way or another, one of us would be dead before the red sun set on this horrible, cursed city.



[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Okay, how do we feel about Lex's ultimatum?
Is it believable, or does it feel sort of forced?
Also, was the description of Altais being stabbed too violent, or was it acceptable? Wanted to show Lexus' thoughtless, casual brutality while also furthering the plot.
Revisit after first draft is completed.

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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:26 pm



WITH WEAPONS IN HAND,   and dread in my heart, I stood in the center of the room, facing Valek. Over twenty Hounds stood with their backs against the curved walls, watching us silently from behind their canine masks. I knew they were there to ensure that Val and I didn't turn our blades against Lexus and try to fight our way out of the Tower. Granted, were I not seriously injured by the wound still pouring blood from my shoulder, I would have actually considered it; even on a bad day, Val and I were easily a match for five or six opponents. However, I knew that with an injured shoulder, and with the Hounds protecting their Master, Val and I wouldn't get anywhere near Lexus. Which meant that if we tried, the Hand would follow through on the threat he had made to both of us. Ironically, I knew that I could handle the torture; yes, it would be miserable, yes, I would want to die from the unending agony, but I didn't want Val to have to suffer the same fate.

So, the boy and I stood across from one another, our heads hanging in melancholy despondency, nursing the loathing towards Lexus that we held in our hearts. Lexus himself had strapped the base of the katars onto my forearms, since I couldn't buckle the straps due to my injured shoulder. I had stood silently beneath his almost-tender ministrations, wanting nothing more than to rip the man apart with my bare hands, though I remained placid beneath his cool touch. When he was done and I had checked to ensure the blades were secure, he had stepped back and told us to take our positions in the 'ring'. When Val and I had done so, the Hand had grinned brazenly at us before outlining the rules of the last match one of us would ever fight.

"There will be no time limit to this match, boys," Lexus said, looking from me to Val, then back to me again. "You may use the weapons you've been supplied, but nothing else, including the poisons I know both of you carry. The Hounds will come and take those from you now." The Hand paused as a masked man came over to each of us, and we relinquished our various potions and poisons wordlessly. "This will be a fight to the death, unlike most matches. Only when one of you receives a mortal wound will a victor be declared." I heard Val choke on a sob at this, though I remained silent, glaring at Lexus.

"I-I can't do this! I forfeit, Hand! Kill me now and let Altais go, please, please!" Val wailed, tears streaming down his face.

"Quiet, brat," In a heartbeat, Lexus lunged at Val, gripping him roughly by the chin, jerking his head back so my protege was forced to look him in the eye. "You can and you will do this. Interrupt me again, and I stick another knife in your beloved mentor. Understood?" The Hand's voice was hard, cold, and though Val's shoulders shook with restrained sobs, the boy nodded. "Good," Lexus continued, "Whoever wins will earn the loser's tags, and will be able to leave Corsairh through the front gate. On that, you have my solemn word as the Hand of Ervael and Master of Frenzy. Hounds, bear witness to this promise, and strike me down should I renege."

"I will witness and obey," said a Hound, and soon there was a chorus of the proper words being spoken in response to Lexus' pledge.

When the circular room was silent once more, the Hand nodded. "If both of you should fall, I will determine the victor based on the amount of damage sustained. I will have a Healer called immediately to ensure the winner lives so that you may leave the city." Lexus glanced at me before going on. "After a half hour of solid fighting, you'll be given a two-minute break so you may drink if you desire. Finally, should one of you fall before receiving a mortal wound, the Hounds will pick you back up. Do you both understand these rules?"

"Yes," I said, and my eyes fluttered closed as talons of dread clutched my heart. There was no way out of this that I could see, no way for me to spare Val, to get him out of this unharmed.

"I-I understand," Val said, and I felt hot tears sting my eyes at the fear in his voice. Gods, if I could drive a knife through my own heart to set him free, I would.

"Good," Lexus said, and clapped his hands. "Now, I'll give you both five minutes to say your final goodbyes or...whatever you imbeciles do." The Hand turned his back on us, though the eyes of the Hounds remained vigilant.

The moment the man's back was turned, Valek let out a sob and rushed towards me, and I opened my arms as the boy buried his face in my chest. "Hush, now, Val. It'll be alright, I promise."

"How? How will it be alright?"

"Do you trust me, Valek?" I grabbed his shoulders and held him at arms-length so he was forced to meet my gaze. His eyes were red and swollen from crying, and tears streamed freely down his bruised and bloodied face.

"You know I do, Master Alta. But I don't see how we're going to get out of this, we can't get out of this."

"Then trust me, boy," I ruffled Val's hair, like I had done countless times before in the last three years, and I knew it would be the last time I ever did so. "Trust me, and it will be alright. But I want you to promise me you will fight me with everything you have, do you understand? If Lexus thinks we're holding back, he will kill us both, and that'll do no one any good. Come at me with everything I have taught you, with all of Rory's teachings firmly in your mind. Don't think, just act. Do you understand?" I gave his shoulders a shake, my voice hard. If Val didn't fight me for real, then my plan wouldn't work. When he didn't answer me right away, I cuffed him over the ear. "I said do you understand, boy?"

"Yes," Val scrubbed the tears from his face with the back of his hand, squaring his shoulders and lifting his chin. "If you have a plan, then yes, I trust you, and yes, I will fight you with everything I've got, Master." Valek nodded and let out a breath, meeting my eyes. "Yes, I understand."

"Good boy," I said, and smiled sadly at him. I bent at the waist and pressed my lips to his forehead before straightening and looking down at him. Gods, Valek was the best thing that ever happened -- could've ever happened -- to me. Before I had met him, the only highlight of my life was killing people; the thrill of the hunt, the thrill of the kill, watching the light leave their eyes, and the ritual of taking their Tags. But since meeting my protege, I had come to find out that there was far more to life than the game of Frenzy. There was the joy of an innocent boy's laughter, the pride I had felt when Val mastered a task I had set him to, even the boy's incessant questions had been something I had looked forward to. I had never known a greater joy than raising a little boy of twelve into a young man, and I knew that even now, Valek was filled with potential, with dreams and desires and aspirations for the future. So I looked into the boy's hazel gaze, and I saw all that he was, all that he would be, and I made my choice. I held out my hand and Val clasped it with his own. "Good luck, Valek." I dropped my fingers to the naked dagger in his right hand, running them along the flat of the blade. "Use these well, kid."

"You too, Master Altais," he replied, and then our time was up.





[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Do the rules seem believable thus far? They're different than normal Frenzy regulations.
Also, I want Lexus to come off as considerate in this post, considering he absolutely LIVES for Frenzy, and he abides VERY strictly to the 'honor' of the game. Was this achieved?



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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:25 pm



THE SONG OF STEEL   rang sharply out into the night as Val and I lunged and parried, dashed and dodged. I raised my katars just in time to deflect a stab that would've taken out my eye, and I flipped backwards, putting distance between us. We were both drenched in sweat, and I could see fatigue written on my protege's face; we had been fighting for the better part of two hours, and we were both slowing down. To my surprise, Valek was a tough target; I had only managed to land two hits on him -- in non-vital places, of course. Val had drawn first blood, having given me a laceration across my chest, and one on my left wrist, and I was proud that the boy was sticking to his promise; he really was fighting me with everything he had. Of course, I was holding back -- almost imperceptibly so, since I didn't want Lexus or his Hounds to notice -- but still, Valek was a worthy opponent.

I saw my protege pull his arm back, and I knew he'd be aiming for my gut; I had seen the move used against others so many times. Without thinking, I pivoted sharply on my heel, turning my back towards Lexus as I wrapped my fingers around Val's hand. With all the force I could manage, I yanked, and felt my skin part as the hot sting of steel split flesh and muscle, slipping in at a precise angle just above my hip bone. Val's hazel eyes widened in pure horror and utter disbelief, and I closed my eyes and prayed to the Gods as I fell to my knees. Let him take this chance at a clean life outside of this deranged city. I knew he would hate himself for not being able to stop me from doing what needed to be done, but he would thank me in the end.

I hit the ground hard, grunting as I toppled over onto my side, the blades of my katars ringing as they hit the stone floor. Blood poured freely from the wound in my abdomen, and I heard Valek wail as he dropped his daggers, falling to his knees beside me. "Altais!" I could hear the fear, the pain in my boy's voice, and felt his hand clasp my own in a shaking grip. I met Valek's gaze and offered him a slow, pained smile. He deserved freedom from these walls far more than I did. "Oh, Gods, I'm so sorry," Val wept openly, crouched over me protectively as the Hounds and Hand watched on silently.

"Nothing to be sorry for, kid," I replied through clenched teeth, grimacing against the pain as I struggled to tell Val what I needed to say before the end. "I'm so incredibly proud of you, Valek. When I met you, you were a scrappy little urchin, and you've grown into a fine, honorable young man. Somewhere in there, you evolved from being my protege into being my little brother, and over the last five years, you taught me what it means to be human, Val. I'll never forget that, and one day, I promise I'll thank you properly for it." I reached out and cupped his wet cheek with my hand, and he leaned into my touch, closing his eyes. I wiped the tears from his cheek with my thumb, and when he opened his eyes, I held his hazel gaze. "I love you, kid. Never forget that." And the last thing I saw was a true, genuine smile shine through Valek's tears, and I knew that it had all been worth it.




[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Too cheesy?
Hrrrn.
Re-evaluate post-D2.




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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Thu Jan 30, 2014 1:17 pm



I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT.   The room, the entire world reeled around me as I felt my mentor's hand close about my own, felt the steely, powerful leanness of his strength as he jerked my hand forward, twisting my grip as he plunged the tip of my dagger into his flank, just above his hip. I knew I had screamed when it had happened; I hadn't been expecting it, but Altais had turned and angled us so perfectly that I knew without giving it a second thought that the Hounds and Lexus had saw me stab my mentor with my own hands, not unwillingly. Immediately, I jerked my arm back, horrified by what had happened as I looked down, seeing blood turn the mottled grey of Altais' shirt to a deep black, and I swore I felt my heart break. I looked up, meeting my Master's glacial eyes, and I was surprised to see a small smile on his lips before he closed his eyes, grimacing in pain.

Time itself bent as everything slowed down; I watched as Altais doubled over and fell to the ground, heard a high laugh of delight from Lexus, heard the clang of metal on stone as my mentor's katars hit the floor. Panicked, I flung my daggers to the ground and dropped to my knees, pressing my hand firmly on Altais' abdomen in a useless attempt to stop the alarming flow of blood pouring from the wound. I knew I babbled, apologizing to Altais as I felt the hot sting of tears in my eyes, wrapping my bloody hands around his own.

"Nothing to be sorry for, kid." Altais' voice was tight with pain, his breathing ragged. My vision blurred as tears fell freely down my cheeks, and I squeezed his hand tightly as he continued. "I'm so incredibly proud of you, Valek. When I met you, you were a scrappy little urchin, and you've grown into a fine, honorable young man. Somewhere in there, you went from being my protege into being my little brother, and over the last five years, you taught me what it means to be human, Val. I'll never forget that, and one day, I promise I'll thank you properly for it."

Altais reached up and placed his hand on my cheek, and I choked on a sob, knowing that this would be the last time I'd ever feel his touch. His words filled me with so many emotions I couldn't even begin to explain, but he had finally spoken the words I had been waiting to hear since the day I had met him. Even before I had tried to steal his Tags when I was a kid, I had idolized the leader of the Black Serpents, the infamously skilled Frenzy player by the name of Altais Malbain. Weeping, I closed my eyes and leaned into his touch as he swept my tears away. I opened my eyes and looked down at him, and I saw the pride he held for me in his icy gaze. "I love you, kid. Never forget that." I smiled down at my friend, my mentor, my brother, and squeezed his hand.

"I love you too, Master Alta," I told the man through my tears, and Altais opened his mouth as if to reply, but then I heard my Master's final intake of breath, and saw his eyes flutter closed as the first honest, legitimate smile grace his pained features. And then he was gone. I let out a wail of grief and anguish so pure that several of the Hounds flinched, and I threw my arms around Altais' body, laying my cheek on his chest as I wept openly, shamelessly. I paid the soft footfalls around me no mind as I cried on my Master's still chest, and only when two pairs of hands dragged me backwards by the shoulders did I let him go. I flailed blindly through my tears until the Hounds released me, and I shot to my feet, the pure loathing and irascibility in my glare actually forcing the Hounds back a step.

I stood panting through my mingled bereavement and enmity as Lexus crouched over Altais, willing Ervael to strike him dead, though my prayers fell upon deaf ears. Lexus reached out and took hold of Altais' right wrist -- since I had left a diagonal slash on his left -- and remained still for several seconds as he checked for a pulse. Finding none, he stood and turned towards me, a foul, malicious smile on his lips. Still holding my antagonized gaze, Lexus spoke over his shoulder to the two Hounds standing behind him. "He's gone. Dispose of him in the street like the trash he is." At his words, I let out a roar and lunged forward, hands outstretched and fingers crooked into claws, ready to scratch him to the bone, to gouge out his eyes, to choke him and watch the life bleed out of his black, apathetic eyes. But I was jerked to a stop as the Hounds grabbed me from behind, and though I fought violently, their grips were like vices on my arms.

The Hand paid my scuffling and screaming no heed as he stooped and almost tenderly unclasped the chain of Tags that hung from Altais' belt, then slipped the single silver R5 off of his neck before straightening and nodding to the two Hounds. "Alright, you can dump him now," he told them. I felt my lips pull back in a silent snarl as the two Hounds picked up the body of my beloved mentor and went through the door, closing it firmly behind them. Lexus looked down at the Tags in his hand and strode over to me, stopping when he was a scant three inches away from me, forcing me to tilt my head back to look up at him. My fingers itched to wrap themselves around his neck, but the Hounds still had a firm hold on me. Lexus waved a hand at the masked men. "Release him. As much as he wants to kill me, he will not, for he knows that if he tries, he will not succeed."

"You did this, Hand. And one day, I will kill you for it. A life for a life." When I was freed from the Hounds' grasp, I clenched my hands into fists so tightly that I felt my fingernails break the skin on my palms, but indeed, I refrained from attacking the Hand of Ervael, though it took every last shred of willpower I had.  At my words, Lexus merely smiled and grabbed my wrists in a long-fingered grasp, gently pressing the Tags he had taken from my mentor's corpse into my bloody hands.

"I made a promise," Lexus said, "The Tags are yours, and you fought honorably, boy." The Hand straightened his shoulders and lifted his chin as he took two steps back. "Valek Revaille, you are hereby given permission to leave the walls through the Black Gates, to go out into the lands beyond and represent Corsairh  in every breath you take and act you make. With each fight, you will honor us. With each kill, you will strengthen us. And when Death comes for you, He will judge you worthy." With nothing more, the man who had ruined my life turned smartly on his heel and left the circular room, casting a smile over his shoulder at me before he disappeared into the darkness of the stairs.

I stood there in the center of the room, looking down at the drying pool of red at my feet, my Master's Tags hanging limply from my bloody hands, so stricken with grief that my heart actually hurt, and for the first time in five years, remembering just how young I truly was.




[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Tried to focus here on Val's grief and rage towards Lexus, and Lex's indifference and apathy.
Is Val's line towards Lexus too cliche? Recheck.
Also, think about reworking the final paragraph. Maybe change 'just how young I truly was' to 'being lost and having no one to guide me' or something like that.
Re-visit after D1's complete.


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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:55 pm



I HAD A DECISION TO MAKE,   but for the last week, I couldn't think of anything besides the death of my mentor. Rather, I should say I couldn't get it out of my head. His last words to me, the knowing smile on his lips, the pride I had glimpsed in his eyes; all of it whirled and weaved through my mind, tangling and tugging on my heartstrings, so much so that I had found myself at the door to the Serpent's Den, face to face with one of Altais' assassins. The Black Serpents had known, of course, that Altais and I were going out to fight Helm -- Gods, it seemed years ago, not just days -- but they hadn't seen nor heard from us since, so the assassin was rightly surprised when I showed up to the place I had once called home.

He had hurried me inside after seeing the blood on my clothes, for I hadn't changed since descending from the tower, and as we walked, he'd told me that Altais and I had been gone for three days. I had haunted the streets of Corsairh for two days, revisiting the places my mentor and I had walked, joked, laughed, and fought together not a week past. The hours of those days were a blur to me; filled with nothing save hunger, tears, and grief. I vaguely remember getting into several fights -- my knuckles were bruised and bloodied -- but nothing beyond that. After seeing the state I was in, the assassin had called for the Den's Healer, an elderly, gentle-handed man named Keion -- who had patched all of us up more times than we could count -- and Keion had silently washed the dirt and blood from my hands and face. The Healer poked and prodded me, pressed a bowl of stew in my hands, and pronounced me healthy, though I hadn't said a word since I'd arrived.

I told Keion to have all the Serpents gather in the training salle, and that night, I told them what had happened in stops and starts, fighting to keep my voice steady and words intelligible through my tears. To their surprise -- and my own, frankly -- I told them that I was indeed going to leave Corsairh by the Black Gates the following day; I had made my decision. There was no reason for me to remain in Corsairh any longer, even though Altais had been grooming me from the start to take over as the leader of the Serpents one day. I left it to the assassins to figure out who would succeed my mentor; it didn't concern me anymore, and to be honest, I hadn't the heart for it. I retired to my room and slipped through the door connecting to Altais' suite. I wandered aimlessly through his rooms, thumbing through the books in his library, reading the letters I had written for him to various people, and after several hours, fell exhausted onto his four-poster bed. I had cried myself to sleep that night on my Master's bed, the scent of him comforting me more than anything had since his death.

I woke before dawn the next morning and packed my things, carefully folding the bloodied strip of silk I had taken from Altais' body before the Hounds had carried him out. I would carry it with me always, to remember the sacrifice my mentor had made so that I might have a better life, one outside the walls and far, far away from this cursed city. Along with my clothes, I had an entire second bag filled with trinkets I had collected over the last five years, gifts that had been given to me on my name-day by the Serpents, and a pair of spurs that Altais had given me when I became a man. He believed that all men should know how to ride, no matter where they lived, and the entire day of my sixteenth birthday, Altais had taken me to every horse market in Corsairh, showing me how to pick a good steed from bad, teaching me all he knew about the equine world, including how to ride. It had taken me a while, but by the end of thirteen hours, I could gallop bareback with just a rope halter through the twisting alleys of the city without falling -- as Altais had bragged often to anyone who would listen, I was a fast learner.

I felt the ghost of a smile tug at my mouth as I remembered that day, leaving the Den of Serpents for the last time. I said my goodbyes to the select few I called friend -- Rory, the weapons-master, and a boy three years younger than I named Tarryn -- and that was it; I was out the door, a pack slung over each shoulder, spurs buckled proudly to my riding boots, and heading for the horse market in the west end, the best in Corsairh. After an hour of browsing the stalls, I finally found one I liked: a stunning blue roan standing at just over sixteen hands. I had worked him hard in the arena, and he answered perfectly to both leg and rein, so I paid the vendor eighteen gold: an incredible amount for an incredible horse.

However, it barely put a dent in my purse, for Altais had told me he had no use for money; everything he wanted, he bought with the Tags he earned. Because he was the leader of the Serpents, he had received thirty percent of all commissions they earned when doing wet-work; considering how expensive it was to hire one of the Serpents, it was an incredible amount of money. What he didn't spend on upkeep, weapons, and supplies for those in the Den, he had passed my way, telling me that boys should have money to spend on their dreams. So I had more than enough money to spend the rest of my life -- three lifetimes, really -- lavishly if I chose to do so. I paid an extra three gold for a saddle, bridle, enough grain for a week, and saddle-bags, and transferred my belongings to the stallion's packs.

I pulled out a clean blindfold I had taken from Altais' closet and wrapped it over my eyes, tying it behind my head before mounting the stallion, who I had named Siatla. I turned the horse's head towards the Black Gates and blew out a long breath, steadying myself and willing my racing heart to settle; few people who were born in the city ever left the colossal black walls of Corsairh. But when I flashed my mentor's silver R5 to the guards, they nodded, and with a rumbling so deep I could feel it in my bones, the massive gates swung outwards, letting in the first fresh breeze I had ever felt in my entire life. I turned in the saddle to take one last look at the city I both so loved and hated, and set my heels to Siatla's flanks, riding towards the future and the rest of my life.




[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Does this post ramble too much? Should I put a lot of this background info in the post after the time-skip where Val joins Altais?


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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:18 am




I HAD STOPPED THAT NIGHT   at a river outside of Corsairh, making camp quickly before the sun disappeared behind the trees. I was sitting by the campfire when I heard the distinct crack of branches; you didn't live in Corsairh your entire life without constantly being alert. I rested my hand on the hilt of the dagger at my hip as I stood up, my eyes scanning the line of trees along the river bank. From the depths of the night emerged a cloaked figure, who stopped at the edge of the firelight.

"Who's there?" I asked, "Lower your hood and show yourself, traveler."

"Just looking for a piece of fire for me and my horse, boy," the traveler replied, holding up his hands. His voice was hoarse, gravelly, but I didn't see any tell-tale bulges under his cloak, so I assumed he was telling the truth. "Mind if I take a seat? I've meat to share; rabbit, if you'll have it."

I chewed on my lip for a moment, then nodded. "Tie your horse up over there by mine," I said, waving a hand to the tree where I had tied Siatla. I watched the traveler warily as he walked his jet-black stallion over and tied him next to Siatla; the two squealed and pinned their ears, but after some posturing, they settled down.

"Gorgeous horse you have there, son. What's his name, if you don't mind me asking?" The man sat down across from me, though the hooded cowl of his cloak kept his features shielded from view. Perhaps he was disfigured or someone who had escaped Corsairh and didn't want anyone seeing his face. The man took a cloth-wrapped haunch of rabbit from one of his packs, breaking off a leg and passing it to me over the fire.

"Thanks," I turned my head to look at the blue roan, smiling. "His name is Siatla." I heard the whip and snap of fabric from behind me, and that was all the warning I had. I pushed off of the ground and flipped backwards just as a throwing knife hit the ground right where I had been not a second ago. I pivoted sharply and turned to face the traveler, who stood across the fire with his hands on his hips, laughing. I felt my stomach flip and a wave of heat rolled over me; I knew that laugh!

"Glad to see you're still sharp, kid. But Siatla, really? I'm honored." The traveler sank into a low bow, and when he straightened, he pushed back the cowl of his cloak.

My mouth worked silently for several seconds, and I backed up a step. Impossible. With a snarl of rage, I sprung forward over the flames of the fire and raised my arm high, backhanding my Master across the face. He grunted as his head whipped to the side, though he remained perfectly still as I stood before him, panting with wrath and betrayal.

"You were dead, dammit! I watched you die, Altais!" I was so angry with him I could barely string two words together. But to my surprise, I felt a wetness of my cheeks, and I broke down sobbing in relief. "I killed you, Master."

"Ah, Val," Altais said, and he wrapped his arms around me. I cried into his chest as I had so many times before when I was younger, and I felt his fingers slip into my hair. Gods, I never thought I'd feel that again. "I'm so sorry. But I had to make sure even you thought I had died, otherwise Lexus would've had us both killed."

After several minutes, I untangled myself from my mentor and sank to the ground, gazing into the flames of the fire. Altais sat down next to me, his shoulder touching my own, and we sat in silence for some time. "How?" I asked. "How did you do it? I felt your chest, you weren't breathing, and the Hand took your pulse and found nothing, Altais. And there was so much blood on the ground after they carried you out."

"Yeah," The assassin blew out a breath and ran a hand through his hair. I turned to look at him and saw his glacial eyes fall to the blindfold draped loosely around my neck, then to the bloody one tied around my right arm in mourning, and a small smile graced his mouth. He reached out and touched the strip of silk on my arm, running his fingers over the bloodstains. "Thank you for remembering me in death, Val." My mentor dropped his hand to his lap and tipped his head back, looking up at the star-studded sky. I remained quiet while he did so, knowing that he was putting together all the threads of his story so that he could explain how he was alive. After a moment he nodded and turned to face me, taking a deep breath. "Alright."



[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Have Altais hide his movements; make him alter his stance, walk, voice, etc; he can't change his laugh, so that's how Val recognizes him.
Make sure Val is exuberant and elated that Altais is alive at first; have him jump on him and embrace him, THEN have him get angry and pissed off at Altais for letting him believe he had truly killed his mentor.
Re-evaluate after Draft 1.




Last edited by King Azreth on Sat Feb 08, 2014 4:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One   Sat Feb 01, 2014 1:25 pm



I FELT AWFUL FOR   letting Val think he had truly killed me, but if I hadn't, then the boy would've lost his life. I'd much rather have him angry with me and alive than happy and dead. So when he backhanded me, I didn't dodge or block it; I knew that he had to release some of that rage towards me so that he could listen to reason. So I held him as he cried, running my fingers through his hair as I had done when he was a boy, and when he sat down, I settled in next to him, making sure that I was physically touching him to reaffirm that I was indeed alive. I had noticed my blindfolds the moment I had walked up to his fire, and it made my heart ache for the lad -- clearly, he was mourning me.

"Alright," I said after I was through collecting my thoughts. "There's a specific alchemical compound I always carry with me that you haven't learned of yet, nicknamed 'Creeping Death'. It was created some two hundred years ago from the Deascyth weed. When the weed's milk is extracted, it can be used for various medicinal purposes; for pain, for a dreamless sleep, and when used in larger amounts, it slows the circulatory and respiratory systems down to a fraction of their normal range. It can either remain in it's liquid form, or dried into a fine powder." I reached into one of the countless pockets sewn into the inside of my cloak and withdrew a small vial no bigger than the last joint of my pinky finger and held it up to catch the light of the fire -- inside the vial was a thick, dark blue powder. Val held out his hand and I passed it to him. "I prefer the latter."

Altais Dialogue: "
Valek Dialogue: "




[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]

Have Altais hide his movements; stance, walk, disguised voice; cant change his laugh.

Make sure Val is exuberant and elated that Altais is alive; have him jump on him and embrace him, THEN have him get angry and pissed off.

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Frenzy - REWRITE: Draft One

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