The Murder of Crows

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TerrifyingDaedricFoe
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The Murder of Crows

Post by TerrifyingDaedricFoe » Thu Oct 27, 2016 4:33 pm

The Murder of Crows

A flash of lightning momentarily lit up the encampment, revealing nearly thirty tents surrounding the burned and ruined houses of Crowhaven. Only a single Wood Elf guard stood watch, sheltering from the pouring rain under a tent awning.

“The bastards are getting complacent,” growled Andred.

“Let us not make the same mistake,” replied Aemilius. “We wait another fifteen minutes until everyone is in position.”

Those fifteen minutes seemed like a very long time to the resistance fighters hiding in a muddy ditch that was rapidly filling with water, but eventually the sky lit up again with lightning. The casual observer would notice nothing untoward, but those anticipating it saw that the lightning travelled not downwards but upwards. The signal was given.

There was no need for morale-boosting speeches. Every man and woman here had lost friends and relatives to the Camoran Usurper as his armies had rampaged across Colovia. There was nothing they wouldn’t do to stop him. Aemilius didn’t know what the small force was doing in the ruins of Crowhaven, and it didn’t matter. By dawn they wouldn’t be doing anything.

The Imperials drew their blackened weapons and silently crawled from the ditch. They were barely two hundred yards from the tents, but the guard had no hope of spotting them through the dark and the rain. They half-ran towards the Wood Elf encampment, dividing themselves up so that each of the outer ring of tents was taken by two or three fighters. Aemilius knew that the rest of his men would be doing the same on the opposite side of the village.

For a third time the night was lit up by lightning as Varno the mage blasted two of the tents. They were too wet to catch fire, but the Elves inside would certainly notice the electricity.

“For Kvatch!” shouted Aemilius. “For the Emperor!”

The cry was repeated by each of his fighters as they burst into the tents. Aemilius plunged his sword into one Wood Elf and kicked another in the stomach as he jerked awake. Andred despatched that one with a swing of his mace. A few seconds later and another three Elves lay dead.

Aemilius strode from the tent and stumbled as something grabbed at his foot. He turned and stabbed, but his sword hit only the rain-soaked ground. Then a second arm burst from the earth, followed quickly by a skull and skeletal torso.

“Necromancy!” came the cry and Aemilius realised that corpses, both fresh and ancient, were rising across the camp.

“Kill the necromancer!” he shouted, and cleaved the skull in two.

The initial ambush had devastated the outer ring of tents, but the Elves in the inner tents had had time to arm themselves and the flow of undead reinforcements threatened to wipe the Imperials out. Shadowy figures surrounded Aemilius on every side, and in the dark it was hard to tell whether a man in Imperial armour was a living ally or an undead foe.

Lightning flashed again and again as Varno used his talents to strike down the Elves, until the flashes were abruptly cut off.

“On me!” Aemilius cried and ran towards where Varno had been. Something swung at him from the side and he dodged out of the way. Turning, he saw a Wood Elf wielding a long spear. The ruin of the Elf’s face spoke of Andred’s handiwork, but it hadn’t been enough to prevent reanimation. Aemilius took an arm off with one blow and followed up with a strike straight into the brainpan. The Elf crumpled to the ground.

Rounding a tent Aemilius saw the necromancer. He had the height of a High Elf and was surrounded by streams of ethereal light and dozens of warriors. Five Imperials were also there, fighting a losing battle against the Wood Elves and undead.

Aemilius joined the melee with a wordless roar. He summoned up his pain and grief and poured them into his swordplay, striking down enemies left and right. The Imperials were horribly outnumbered, however, and Aemilius couldn’t break through the lines and reach the necromancer.

Suddenly Andred came charging in, all thoughts of self-preservation gone from his mind. He hurled himself at a lightning-burnt undead Wood Elf, who slipped on the muddy ground and fell onto another. Aemilius dashed through the gap, even as more Wood Elves surrounded the prone Andred.

Aemilius didn’t look back. He killed two more Elves and came face-to-face with the necromancer, who panicked and threw a fireball over Aemilius’ shoulder and into his own troops. Aemilius didn’t hesitate and struck the necromancer’s pointy-eared head from his shoulders. The ethereal light died with a strangled scream and the undead collapsed to the ground, inert.

With their leader slain and their undead allies defeated, the remaining Wood Elves began to flee into the night. Aemilius ordered his men to stay put. More than half had been killed, including Andred and Varno, and many of the survivors were nursing injuries.

As the rain petered out Aemilius’ attention turned to the three Wood Elves who had surrendered instead of fleeing. He looked around at the grim faces of his men, all of whom had lost people to the Camoranite horde. He looked down at the missing fingers on his left hand and felt the itch of the torture scars on his back, remembering how fortunate he had been to escape after being captured in the sack of Kvatch. He looked at the bound Wood Elves, face down in the mud.

Aemilius drew his hunting knife. It was time for revenge.
Last edited by TerrifyingDaedricFoe on Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Infragris
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Re: The Murder of Crows

Post by Infragris » Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:45 am

This is well-written, I especially like how you depict action scenes. Two point of criticism:
  • Who wrote this, where, how, and why? You could frame this as a fictionalized version of true events, like the 2920 series, or as a historical account by one of the survivors. When writing an in-game book, you should try to convey not just the story in your book, but also the intentions of the writer, his publisher, and his readers.
  • You should consider writing at least one extra paragraph explaining the situation: to someone unfamiliar with this history, it will not be clear that you're writing about the Camoran Usurper (they might think you're referring to Mankar Camoran, instead). In my opinion, in-game literature has a duty not just to be entertaining and interesting, but also to explain the world, its inhabitants, and their history to the reader.

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TerrifyingDaedricFoe
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Re: The Murder of Crows

Post by TerrifyingDaedricFoe » Sun Oct 30, 2016 10:15 am

This started when I was thinking about the as-yet-undetermined saint honoured in Brina Cross and I thought of some minor noble resistance hero who was later made Baron of Brina Cross and rebuilt the town. I was thinking of writing a biography, but instead decided on a narrative approach. I consider this piece to be historical fiction written decades or centuries after the fact, but perhaps closer to the truth than the sanitised/romanticised non-fiction accounts.

You are correct about needing to place this piece unambiguously in the Camoran Usurper time period. I didn't want to interrupt the flow of the piece with too much exposition in the beginning, but I'll take another look.

I'm pleased you like the action scenes. I haven't written many and I was worried it might be a bit rushed. I still think the end happens a bit quickly and I might rewrite the last few paragraphs. In my head the end of the battle is a more gradual affair then perhaps comes across in the text. The surviving wood elves peel away one by one rather than fleeing on mass the moment the necromancer dies.

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Infragris
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Re: The Murder of Crows

Post by Infragris » Sun Oct 30, 2016 10:40 am

One of the things I definitely like about the piece is that it is not too long: this is very suitable to the way books are presented in-game. Lengthy books tend to take up a lot of pages, and without a bookmark system it gets tiring to read one out in one go.

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TerrifyingDaedricFoe
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Re: The Murder of Crows

Post by TerrifyingDaedricFoe » Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:01 am

Did I really write this as long ago as October? :shock:

Anyway, I inserted an extra paragraph (the 5th one) setting the scene. I decided to leave the ending unchanged.

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Infragris
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Re: The Murder of Crows

Post by Infragris » Fri Jan 27, 2017 4:50 pm

Looks great. I'll add it to data once I get the book update in place.

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