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First ever chapter


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So, yeah. Below is the first ever chapter I've written, just finished it up last night. Was hoping to get some feedback, of all kinds, from you guys. As it's my first time actually putting something together, please don't hold back haha. I want to try and soak up as much as I can.

It's 2600 words. 



Chapter 1


“A medic that kills”










Desen sprinted through the rubble that used to be the barrack tent. The sky was all smoke, and the stench of battle and blood hung in the air. Screams of pain and shouted commands were heard everywhere. The army had just crossed the river that hugged The Fist. They had not expected to run into the Westlav raiders until much farther down the river. The army were the ones that were planning the ambush, it wasn’t supposed to be the other way around.



A group of about ninety raiders had hit them just as the Derian army were setting camp for the night. Their confidence that they had the larger, better trained force had led them astray. The men had just finished setting up the tents, and were starting on the night’s supper. Old Hodge was giving on of his many long winded, and often false, stories of his time in the scouting unit that delved deep into Westlav story.  After being in the army for more than 8 months now with Old Hodge and then men of Medic Unit 2, Desen had heard most of Hodge’s stories by now. So instead reclined back on the rock grouping he was sitting on near the shore of the river, and gazed around at his surroundings.



Desen had come to find out that being in army is usually not how its depicted in the stories of old. More often than not, it just entailed a lot of marching and seeing to men with rot gut or men who had been a little too liberal with the drink the night before, and were trying to get out of patrol duty.



 Desen had expected epic battles for the sake of kingdoms, and hero’s establishing themselves through great deeds in every battle. Sadly, Desen thought to himself, this was not the case. Battle and war were nasty things. Desen may have seen only a couple battles, but to him, those couple battles were enough to last him a life time. Being a battle medic, Desen saw the worst of battle. Men screaming for their loves, begging and weeping not to die. Men sacrificing other men to survive, and seeming to do it without regret. There were no heroes. There were just common men trying to live on. It seemed to Desen that the ones that wanted to survive the most, and were savage on the path of survival, tended to be regarded as the “Hero”. Desen had sworn to his brother and sister before leaving his town that he would not let the battles change him as it had changed other men from Oscal. Men that seemed to have lost the ability to find anything positive out of life, and had been reduced to drunken, grumbling shells of their former selves. That promise was becoming harder and harder to keep for Desen. He had seen death so often by now, he was almost losing feeling. Dying is a horrible business, and for Desen who saw it more than the average solider, it was starting to be a numbing experience. Desen could count on one hand how many men he’d saved, the same could not be said for the men he lost. And for Desen, it was these men that he remembered the most. The men that begged him to save them, acting scared and frightened in their last moments. Trying to make fruitless bargains, acting as though Desen had power over life or death. This is a common misconception among troops about battle medics. Medics were not healing masters, able to close a wound and stop a bleed with just a few words and herbs. The process was much more complicated than that.



Most wounds that were received on a battle field were messy, damaging internal organs or nicking a major artery. These often led to quick death as they needed to be treated immediately and with extreme care. The chaos of battle rarely allowed this to happen, but the medics did what they could. This usually meant giving the solider kechbark to chew on to dull some of the pain, or trying to bind the wounds in manner that would keep the man alive until more focus could be paid to his wounds.



This however, was not always the outcome. Sometimes Desen stared a man’s death in the face, and spit on it. He’d brought men back from the brink when no one else thought possible. Sometimes when treating a man, he just lost himself in the work, letting his hands and experience take over. When Desen treated a patient, he became a different person. He shed all his fears and worries and concentrated on his craft. When he was in this mood, he could hardly be distracted. It was a joke among the soldiers in the unit that Desen spent more time honing his skill in healing that he would soon be able to bring someone back from the dead. Desen wished this were true, as it would save him a lot of time and effort memorizing different aliments, wounds and treatments. Medicine was always evolving, new ways were discovered to treat a injury, usually more complex than the past cure. Desen was dedicated to his postion of battle medic and had seen to many of his friends in the army die to be lax in his studies. He would do all he could in order to be better suited to his role. His role of trying to save dying men on a bloody battlefield.



At first the task seemed daunting. During his initial medic training in the army Desen thought that we would never be able to handle the responsibility of being in charge of someone living or dying. His instructors tried to discourage this line of thinking, saying that medics were there to try and help as best as possible, not be responsible for every man or women he can’t save. No matter how many times they drilled this into Desen’s head, he did not head there advice. He took every death on his watch personally. This was slowly driving him insane, and on more than occasion he had thought of quitting his duties as medic. Every time he brought this up to his Commander he was shut down. His Commander saying that his talents were to great to be wasted. Desen resented this, as it was not them how had the reputation in the army of being the best medic, and seeing the fear and sadness in a man’s eyes as he realized that Desen could not save. Desen hated his reputation as much as he hated battle. The reputation gave the men in the army a false sense of Desen’s skill, and not matter how many times Desen told him that his skill was not as great as they made it out to be, the men still believed that Desen had some touch in medicine granted to him by one of the Aspects.





All this going through Desen’s head, he took in the sights around him. The army had just completed a hard days marching trying to set up for the ambush, the ambush party about a day’s ride ahead of the main body. Their hard day had led the men to making a hastily constructed camp, of just a few tents and campfires. They hadn’t bothered with fortifications such as spike pits or barricades. In front of them the road stretched toward them and at the bend where it continued on to their left is where they situated their camp. Behind them was the vast Alta river, and to their left was the forest of Elek. To Desen, it was the most advantageous spot they could’ve picked, the only downfall is that it held the chance that the ambush party could be caged in.



Just as Desen was about to get up and head to his tent, the first arrow of the ambush was loosed, taking Hodge in the neck.



What followed was a quick and destructive attack.



So Desen sprinted. Sprinted to where the fighting was the thickest, as to help the soldiers push back the raiders. The Derian ambush unit was about two hundred strong, but they were caught completely off guard when the enemy had flooded out of the Elek.



“Oi! Desen, over here lad” shouted Commander Chrent.



Commander Chrent was engaged with two raiders, swords clashing quickly. Chrent, with the skill of five warriors, parried a thrust from one of the raiders and used the opening to take a step closer and ram his side dagger into the raiders neck. Then, quick as a snapping whip, Chrent pivoted to face the other raider, bringing is sword in a wide, sidelong arc toward the man’s side. The raider tried to block the blow with his sword and didn’t realize his mistake. As he brought his sword to his right side to block Chrent’s sword, Chrent dropped his blade mid swing and snapped out his right hand, throwing his dagger, and implanting it in the raiders eye.



The entire engagement took no more than a few seconds.



“It looks like you don’t need my help after all Commander” said Desen as he reached the great bear of man.





Chrent grunted and said “Stay with me, you’re the best fighter and medic we have. The battle is proving to be costly and longer than needed. We shall change this”.



The Commander said this matter-of-factly, not with a trace of arrogance that should come with a boast of ending a battle single-handedly.



Desen hurried over to Commander, seeing some blood dripping down from his arm. As Desen was grabbing inside is kit for some bandages when Chrent barked “Didn’t I just say the battle was going on longer than it needed to be? Never mind the scratch, lad, we need to get the edge of the wood and finish these bastards”. Desen nodded in response, and the two dashed to were the fighting had mostly been contained at the edge of the wood.



Desen and Chrent passed multiple bodies on their way to the fight, some moaning and trying to get to fallen friends. Desen resisted the instinctive urge to help these men, knowing that he could do better good helping finish this fight. His old master’s words echoed in his head “Son, never look to treat if men are still swinging weapons about near you. Get rid of the threat, then you see who you could save”. That was the only training he’d gotten from Master Gerit that he didn’t totally agree with.



Finally, Chrent and Desen arrived at the tree line of the forest. As epected, it was chaos. The Derain men and the Westlav raiders were mixed about, fighting reduced to group combat than the typical organized line fighting the Derain’s were used to. Desen made a quick scan of his surroundings and saw a Derian solider being overwhelmed by 3 raiders. With a quick nod to Chrent, Desen drew his duran short-sword and sprinted towards the fight, shouting to get the raiders attention off the man.



It worked, two of the three raiders turned to look at Desen as he came closer, instantly dropping into a defensive crouch, angling their crude iron broadswords at him. The feel of the fight overwhelmed Desen at the point, blood thundering in his ears, and his heartbeat speeding up. It was odd, Desen was never as more calm as he was when he was treating a patient or in the middle of a fight. How could direct opposites evoke the same reaction in him? I wonder what that said about his mental stability.



Desen prowled in a short semi-circle around the two men, seeing that the Derian solider had the third raider in hand, Desen started to lash out sampling blows towards his two opponents. With an average build, Desen couldn’t be called strong, but he could be called quick. However, his speed and training weren’t his only advantages in a fight, he never boasted about it, but to Desen it was his eye’s that gave him the best advantage.



A striking, almost clear, icy blue, Desen’s eyes saw more than other men it seemed. He had a talent for reading people, both in their face and in their movements. He had some latent ability with this before he was trained by one of the armies combat masters. His training had only served to better a skill that was already better than most men’s. it was this ability that had saved Desen more times than he could count, both in battle and while diagnosing a patient.



So Desen used this skill now, he looked over the two raiders with a critical eye, trying to discern what their next move be through their posture and movements. Both seemed slightly winded, breathing in and out heavily. This would mean just a slight sluggish movement to their attacks. Both men also weren’t used to working in a pair in a fight. The way the stood off from each other, not angling themselves in the right position that would allow them to better protect each other. Both were also skittish, reacting to every little movement Desen made, no matter how subtle. This bespoke of inexperience. Most of the time in a fight, it did well for a warrior to not show their hand to enemy, only reacting when absolutely necessary.



 I could use that, Desen thought to himself.



Desen absorbed all this in just a moment, and unleashed his attack. The best way to handle an un-even fight is to end it fast, before your opponents can form some sort of strategy and start working against you in full.  Desen feigned to his right, causing the expected reaction from the raiders, who followed his movement. Desen then crouched slightly, spun to his left, and brought his sword in a side swipe towards the raider to his left. The dull thunk of sword hitting the mans ribcage told Desen that his strike had connected. Taking a step closer to the man, Desen grabbed his right arm with his left, pulled his sword free and slide it through the raiders exposed naval. Desen the shoved the now dead raider towards his ally, to catch the man off balance. When the raider managed to push the dead man away his fate was already sealed. Desen’s stroke cleaved the mans head from his shoulders.



Not thinking twice about the carnage, Desen looked to see how the solider he had come to help was faring. The man was fine, having bested his opponent, but he was looking in disbelief towards a small clearing off to left on the tree line. It was at this moment when Desen noticed something strange. The whole camp had gone silent, there were still raiders about, so the fighting wasn’t finished. Frowning, Desen followed the man’s eyes to see what he was looking at.





A man in tight, form fitting robes of deep purple and black was holding Commander Chrent by the throat. The man seemed to say something, but Desen was far to make out the words. Then, suddenly, Commander Chrent was ablaze in fire, as if someone had doused him in oil and thrown a match on him. The robbed man then dropped the flaming corpse of Desens commander to the ground, without out so much as a second glance (Maybe mention something about Chrent screaming). Desens insides froze, and his heart dropped.



Aspects above Desen thought It’s an emanta.




They were doomed.



Edited by KereDerek
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Just now, Jedal said:

Honestly, this is a great first draft. My only criticism would be that the paragraphs are too broken up. (Also it's spelled robed, not robbed).

Thanks! I didn't have a grip on how the structure of the paragraphs should be, and I honestly thought some of em were running a tad long. So your advice helps a lot. 

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This is really good. It's right in the middle of the action, which is used a lot, but you did it well. You have just enough backstory to set up the world a little without being too exposition-y. My only real criticism is that there we're lots of little grammar and spelling mistakes; some sentences didn't make sense because there were words missing. Besides that, it was pretty dang good. 

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1 minute ago, StrikerEZ said:

This is really good. It's right in the middle of the action, which is used a lot, but you did it well. You have just enough backstory to set up the world a little without being too exposition-y. My only real criticism is that there we're lots of little grammar and spelling mistakes; some sentences didn't make sense because there were words missing. Besides that, it was pretty dang good. 

Yeah, I was trying to focus on Banderson's advice about locking the editor away until the end. But hind sight, probably shouldn't have went back and looked through it before I posted it haha. 

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This is a great start! Perhaps I didn't read too closely, but what I saw I liked. The beginning of the chapter is a bit awkward, because I couldn't pin down what was happening at the exact present. Part of it was flashback, recent history, backstory, and a strange little bit about Old Hodge. Of course, it got into its groove past those paragraphs, and I could get the feel for the story more.

You touch a bit on the Aspects. This is your magic system, or religion, I suppose? As well as the emanta?

What exactly is Medic Unit 2, and who is in it? Is Commander Chrent is the Medic Unit, or is he part of the actual army? Is the Medic Unit part of the actual army? Is that why the chapter called "a medic that kills"?

And, as a geography nerd, do you have a map? You reference a few geographic features in the chapter, so a map would be nice to put them in context. Otherwise I enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to the next chapter.

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