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Creative writing - New Pledge

Vessel of Theory

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So I'm drafting a book. I'm only on the first draft, and not quite 20k words in, and I don't really have any previous writing experience. I'll post the introduction, which I think for once might be decent, and I'll try to be posting more content periodically. For now, just let me know what you think! :) 


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The sun set on another burning village. Naryl, an Archon whose power coalesced southeast from Kyr’s, had attacked another Archon’s village. Neither had very large armies, but it never took many men to destroy something. Or each other. Kyr spat on the ground. Will it never end? Kyr wondered. Since the beginning of existing memory, he had seen nothing but violence and malice. So far as he was concerned, there was nothing else.

The village hadn’t even had walls. Almost half of the corpses on the ground were not wearing armor, and had died without offering challenge. With luck, few would rise. Doryl had killed the other Archon, some meaningless upstart who never really even had a chance. Probably some older Archon’s third or fourth son, desperate to prove himself and move up in the world. Too weak to achieve. Too unprepared.

“Archon?” He speaks of me. To me, Kyr reflected. I have a duty to them. Even if this is the horrid part. 

“Isyah, tell my forces to take the field. We don’t have long before the Heartbound rise.”

Isyah hesitated, then turned and departed. Doryl’s forces had abandoned the field, and any Heartbound, rather than be completely destroyed. Doryl always had preferred reports and information to chances. There were a few stragglers, of course. The handful of bright villagers who had found somewhere to hide or managed to not be slaughtered would be invited to join Kyr. The same offer would be extended to the Heartbound, of course. They were why Kyr was here. The position was irrelevant. It sickened him, but he was indeed here to collect corpses with short-lived sanity, if any. Dying hurt, he had been told. Being slain hurt more, and left powerful emotional motivation.

His troops reached the village before any of the corpses rose. Fortunate. It was never good to interrupt a Heartbound, especially after they revived.

He walked to where Isyah was, in the “Command Tent”. Had they participated in this fight, he would have stayed there, but he always felt pulled to witness the utter destruction his fellow men dispensed so freely.

Opening the flap, he noticed Isyah hurriedly looking back down at maps and documents. Kyr could read and write a few of the symbols Isyah used, but no more. Isaiah was older than most, but he was loyal and wise. And my friend, Kyr admitted to himself. Archons couldn’t afford to have friends. Isyah cared for Kyr, and of late had been very worried about Kyr. Behaving strangely, he had said. Had he been anyone else, Kyr would have killed him on the spot.

It was nice to know that compassion lived on, even if only in the hearts of children and the elderly. Those who had seen no evil and those who knew it too well seemed most caring. Terrible that humanity was lost while destruction was done.

“Might be a simple extraction today, Archon. None of the others seem to be very interested, no scouting parties seen.”

The first scream came, diminished over the distance. Kyr exhaled, realizing only then that he had not done so since entering the tent. He hated this part. Heartbound were so… unstable. None reacted the same, not completely. His men knew what was happening. What they were fated to. They would live, of course. Isyah estimated that only one in every four hundred came back as a Heartbound. Heartbound could destroy a man’s inner workings. He’d seen it happen. Too much destruction.

“That’d be good, Isyah. My men deserve some relief. It’s not… it’s not right.”

“Archon?” Isyah asked. “What, exactly, is not right?”

“Expecting men to go and die, looking at the people I lead and seeing bronze!” He composed himself. He shouldn’t shout at Isyah like that. “They’re men too, Isyah. Don’t they have a right to freedom?”

Isyah approached, slowly. He was getting old. “All men deserve freedom, Kyr. They can buy freedom with death, or they can buy life with freedom. We can all take or give our freedom, but to most of us, being alive another day is more important.

“This day will encourage them. They’ll see your power, your strategy. Don’t think they don’t know that you try every day to see them as men.”

“I fail, Isyah. Every day.” Kyr sat on one of the rugs. “Every day, I try and fail. Then I tell them to go die for me. They see my failure. They see the price they pay. How long before see me as weak, leave, and die somewhere else?”

“Archon… your failure encourages them. It’s twisted, I know, but… I think that they see your effort. Then your failure. And so every day, they see you trying when you don’t think you can win. They admire that. It inspires them!”

Kyr smiled. “I wish everyone believed men were so simple, Isyah. If so, we might be able to get somewhere with all of this.

“I’m going down to the field. They need to know I appreciate them, not just their bronze.”

The screamers had quieted. In most cases, they had been quieted with his men’s blood and bronze. Haft-captain Tarn approached.

“Fourteen.” It was spoken quietly. Other men who didn’t know might have guessed reverence, but Kyr knew better.

“Good. That’s good.” Kyr played strong so often. Why not let them see that I care? “You’ve done well, Haft-captain. How many were Silenced?”

Tarn grimaced. “Ten.”

Kyr nodded. This conflict had been violent. Tragic. “How many did you lose?”

Tarn started, making eye contact with Kyr, then breaking it only a moment after. He breathed heavily before making his answer, not looking at Kyr.

“That’s too many. Are they all dead? Or only injured?”

Again, Tarn started. Yes, it was unusual for an Archon to say that soldiers belonged to their Haft-captains. It was never good when your Archon expressed displeasure. Too much fear.

“Mostly injured, my Archon.” Poor man, trying to tell Kyr subtly that he was loyal.

“How many do you think will pull through, Tarn?” Kyr stopped counting how many times he broke typical conduct. At this point, he didn’t care. No, he realized, I care. It’s the conduct that’s not important. These men are doing all they can and more. They deserve better.

Tarn appeared to be trying to maintain decorum. “I’d guess half, Archon.”

Finally, Kyr thought, he’s answering me and looking into my eyes. Maybe I can fix him yet.

“Were any of the Heartbound given Growth?”

Tarn flinched. “Two, Archon. Both were late risers.”

“Good. Bring the wounded men to them. No, better: bring them to the wounded.”

“As you say it, Archon.”

Sands, this is going to take a long time.

Edited by Vessel of Theory
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