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Is the phrase "Once upon a time..."
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Monthly Writing Prompt
For this month's writing prompt write a scene using the following sentence to start;

The streets were deserted. Where was everyone? Where had they all gone?

Writing Tip
Our monthly writing tips are written by our very own TerishD. You can read more in Terish's Blog located in "The Abstractions" area of the forum.

Look Back

When not able to write ahead, it helps to look back. In my case I had written a paragraph ahead of the story. What I needed to do was add a section of exposition (talking) presenting some facts. In going back, I realized that I could insert a section where a 'tour' of the surroundings could be done. This allowed for character interaction, story development, and other things that enabled me to present the facts in an entertaining manner.

One should not face a writer's block with the mentality of bursting through it. I have found in my own experience that a writer's block is usually due to my mind indicating that it has a problem in 'channeling' the story. One reason might be a re-imagining of certain story points. Another reason however is that there is a problem in where you are at in the story, so you need to look back and find out the problem with the 'journey' that prevents the tale from advancing.

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 Chapter 8, the battle

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Number of posts : 147
Age : 36
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Registration date : 2009-03-26

PostSubject: Chapter 8, the battle   July 8th 2009, 3:35 pm


Watching Alyssa escorted back into the valley was of great relief to Cyprian, who, for a moment, thought all was lost before the battle had even begun. The gate was then sealed. Guards lined up in front of it, ready to defend the village. Those with bows prepared arrows, and took aim at the tide of demons ebbing their way quickly. First blood was moments away. Drake stood by Cyprian’s side, as they always did in battle. A Lyconiese warrior and a man who has seen many wars and even more atrocities in his time led the rest of the sentries. Cyprian gripped his sword, the weight of the steel felt good in his hand, welcome almost. Today it was a weapon of reckoning, ready to spill blood in the name of Gaia. The odds were against them: forty guards against a wave of at least one-hundred trident wielding demons. Cyprian turned to address the sentries one final time. He said:

‘Battles are only ever won by fighting. Courage and skill should be your primary weapon, use your strength wisely, and remain cunning at all times. The Reptoe are quite resistant to elemental attacks, so if you choose to cast, be prepared to follow through with your blade.’

The guards acknowledged his words by tightening their faces and steadying their eyes. They were as ready as they would ever be. The grass-land roared with heavy footfalls. Light glinted from the foes armoury. Cyprian focused his attentions back to the demons. They were nearly within striking distance when Drake spoke. ‘You ready, old man?’

Cyprian grunted, ready to rain a mighty blow upon the first beast unfortunate enough to drift into his proximity.

‘I wage I can kill more of them than you, old man,’ Drake taunted.

‘Five gold pieces says you will not,’ Cyprian said.

‘Done,’ Drake replied.

The Reptoes hissed their battle-cries, and the grass trembled beneath their approach. Those with bows began sending their arrows through the air, hailing down on the demons. Some were felled but they weren’t fazed by the attack. The line of sentinels behind Cyprian and Drake raised their arms in unison, and clouds formed in the sky. Thunder roared over Cobbington, as lightening fell upon the demons, sending smoke and limbs hurtling around the grass. The clouds above faded, and revealed the summer sky once more. As the smokescreen parted, demons leapt over those fallen, and raged into battle. Cyprian’s eyes never left the blood thirsty gaze of the nearest antagonist to him, as it rushed forward, trident raised and ready to mutilate. The demon jumped towards him, and Cyprian swiped his sword twice, the first blocking the beast’s attack, and the second offering decapitation. His heart sang as the headless juggernaut crashed to earth and rolled out of Cyprian’s vision that fully realised the rest of the demons. The wave of Reptoes washed into the guards, many jumping over the first line of sentries, tridents and tails swiping behind them, and slashing faces in their wake.

The might of the Reptoes became known as they clashed with the sentries of Cobbington. Dissonance stung the warm air as sword and trident met in violent matrimony. And above the unruly din a requiem was being strung and chorded as demons probed anatomies, and swords pierced serpentine necks. More attended this brutal union, as they raced into battle.

Cyprian heeded his attacker, and swung his blade once more, narrowly missing his foe. More pounded the grass beside him, making for the gate. The dexterous beast saw the attack coming and leapt high above the blow, tearing at Cyprian’s face with a talon, and crushing a guard behind upon landing. Another one came, this time Cyprian let the demon jump, and proceeded to hack off its legs, bringing the demon tumbling down into its kind not far behind.

The brief moment Cyprian got to scan the area of the gate, he knew the valley would be lost. The guards were putting up a fight, but the demons just kept coming. The tall guard with light hair swung his weapon but the Reptoe knocked it from his hands, and proceeded to punch a hole in the sentry’s belly with those talons, and through the other side, rejoicing in the man’s blood dripping from his arms upon withdrawal. He turned to see Drake locked in battle with two demons, side by side, trying to seek out his mortal mysteries, only for him to seek out theirs, impaling one, blocking, and stinging the other. He was grinning. Cyprian knew Drake was fearless, and he was probably enjoying himself, and whilst he respected his strength and skill with a sword, one day it would make him too reckless, and be the end of him. That’s when the sound came.

Boom, boom, boom!

Cyprian knew the demons were at the gates, trying to punch their way through. The gate was strong but it wouldn’t keep them out forever. Cyprian turned back just in time to encounter a Reptoe in mid-strike. He sidestepped the blow and ran his blade through its heart, felling it instantly. Another stepped into the fray, treading over the bodies of his species, and snarling. Their weapons met well, and the eager noon sun bounced off their steel, as their blows rang throughout the chaotic scene.

Nearer the gate the Reptoes rejoiced as they snuffed out life after screaming life. Guards fought and did their best to hold off the unrelenting attacks, all whilst heeding demons pummelling the gates. The few remaining guards at the rear defended attacks, before filling up with light, and hurling balls of energy towards those trying to pound their way into the valley. There was too many. The elemental attacks knocked many demons sprawling, smoke spilling from charred skin, but it wasn’t enough. More came, and soon the gates were buckling under their force. Splinters became airborne as wood began to cave in; the demons were almost in the village.

Cyprian dodged talons as the demon hissed. His reflexes saw his sword thunder through the demons neck. Over the screams of death behind, Cyprian heard the gate fail, and he turned to see the beasts suffusing into the valley. A snarl brought his attentions back to his front, where a Reptoe’s face stood less than a metre away from his, mouth open wide exposing rows of razor sharp fangs, dripping with saliva. The eyes, black as oil, held him under scrutiny. Cyprian wanted to kill every last one of them. As the demon made to strike, Cyprian used every ounce of strength in his body to beat it to it. Before the demon struck, Cyprian thrust his sword through the demon’s gaping mouth, exiting through brain matter, claret falling from the tip like a tainted cataract. The Reptoe slumped lifeless to the ground as Cyprian retrieved his weapon. He heard Drake congratulate him, but there was no time for applause. The demons were converging into the valley, and as Cyprian ordered the remaining guards to follow them, he prayed Alyssa had already found safety, and in best case scenario, already made for the Broadheart Wood.

The Reptoes charged through the valley, many diverging to ransack cottages, and taking the time to impale the odd fleeing citizen, who until then remained unaware of current, terrifying events. The guards gave chase, as did Cyprian and Drake, remaining hot on their agile heels. The demons were quick, and soon were smashing their way through the marketplace, engaging in battle with traders who were putting up a fight. The Nordic warrior people drew their yataghan-style swords, hafts forged from bone, and one for each of their four hands. The beasts from Mainland stood to meet them, growling deep from their bellies, ready to face that all too familiar nemesis. The Elemental folk unleashed fireballs towards them, and soon, the marketplace were a riot. Screams tantalised, blood flowed like wine. The scene was chaotic, much to the joy of the demons, which leapt down the aisles, seeking out those all too bloody mortal secrets.


Alyssa saw Mr. Dimpleton impaled by those ominous prongs, lifted, and tossed into his obsession. Mrs. Spritzlecart, tall, slender, and unmistakably feminine, took a trident to the gut. Blood seeped from her mouth and the demon snarled as she slumped to the ground. Villagers were being struck down left, right, and centre, throughout the village square, and Alyssa saw it all. She heard Mrs. Spellman scream, and turned to see her throat being torn from her neck, silencing her eternally.

Alyssa had never been so afraid. The strange boy had already made his escape from the market, running south. Edna screamed at her to run. And as she did she thought her legs would fail her. They stuttered and turned jelly-like, almost bringing her to the ground. She ran southwardly from the marketplace with her mentor, making for the bridge past the row of stores.

The square was a tumult of screams and snarls. Stalls buckled and broke under the weight of victims being hurled throughout the marketplace in the demons destructive wake. The guards were there now, charging in with whatever strength they could muster, doing battle alongside the beasts and Nordic folk. Alyssa bolted down the cobble paths alongside the row of stores, and turned to see three of the demons giving chase. And then, with her heart trying to thump its way from her chest, she fell.

The demons closed the gap between her and them. Alyssa, holding herself up on her hands, twisted her head to see them hurtling towards her, and she froze in terror. The demons were just a few stores away. Suddenly, anticipating the pain those tridents had to offer, her birthmark sent a wave of heat through her body, and instinctively, she placed a hand over it. The demons abated their pace, snarling, eyes filled with malicious glee.

‘She’s the one,’ the head of the three hissed. ‘She’s the girl we’ve been searching for.’

‘Wryneck will be most pleased,’ another hissed.

Alyssa, unable to process what the demons meant by their words, was startled to see Edna charging past her slumped body, right hand raised and shining bright like a star.

‘You will not take her!’ the Magnus cried, stopping short of the congregation, and releasing the energy in the form of a giant orb of lightening.

The demons didn’t know what hit them. The charge sent a shockwave of energy crashing throughout the vicinity, sending the demons somersaulting around the stone path. Windows smashed and doors were flung open, a smokescreen veiling the area. Edna then tried to drag Alyssa to her feet, panting. It was in vain however, as another demon came jumping out of the smoke, immediately plunging its weapon through Edna’s side, delighting in her breathless demise. Alyssa couldn’t contain her fears any longer. Her heart wept for Edna, and she kicked herself back, screaming, as the demon advanced towards her.

‘Alyssa, use the flute,’ a voice whispered from someplace, though she knew it came from within her mind, just like at the riverbank earlier. ‘The flute, Alyssa, use the flute!’

It weren’t until she passed the door to Mr. Pratt’s Junk Store did she realise what the voice meant. The demon crept towards her, weapon raised. She picked herself up as quickly as she could and entered the store, picking up the mushroom flute. Mr. Pratt was still behind the counter, dumbstruck with events outside, too terrified to move. The Reptoe stood at the entrance to the store, hissing, and raising the weapon, ready to strike. The voice came again from within her.

‘Play it, you’ll remember how.’

It sounded so crazy, and yet, she knew that’s what she had to do. She put the flute to her lips, and proceeded to blow through the hollowed out stalk.

An enchanting melody drifted through the village square. Cyprian heard it. Drake heard it. The Nordic folk and the Purple Mages of Wyre heard it. It wasn’t volume that carried the tune; it was brought as if by the wind. It ebbed through the chaos, like a hot knife through freshly churned butter. Nobody knew the origin but it soothed the soul. It placated fears. Folk who still lived stopped their attempts at retreat, for the Reptoes were now still. Everybody was dumbfounded by the demons paralytic state. They just stood, petrified like wood, caught in their last moments. They had become catatonic beneath that strange, beautiful melody that drifted throughout the village.

The remaining guards seized the opportunity, unsure of how long the charm would hold. Anybody holding a sword hacked at the frozen demons, impaling hearts and necks, making sure whenever the music died, as many fell with it as possible.

Cyprian found the source. It was Alyssa, standing outside Mr. Pratt’s Junk Store, lost in the sounds she alone produced. She was in a trance, and her eyes glowed white, as if possessed. Without hesitation he felled the still beast that stood over her, trident held before her, ready to end her life.

Once satisfied that every demon had been killed, Cyprian hailed Alyssa. She was oblivious to his calls, and still she kept up the tune. He reached out, and gently plucked the flute from her hands and lips, and watched as her eyes dimmed, and Alyssa snapped out of the trance.

‘What happened?’ she said, trying to orientate her senses.

‘You did it, Alyssa, with the flute. You won the battle.’

‘I . . . don’t understand. A voice told me to play the flute, and then everything went blank. Oh, uncle, the demons killed Edna. And also, one of them said I was the girl they’ve been searching for. What does that mean exactly? And also, one of the demons said ‘Wryneck will be most pleased’. Who is Wryneck?’

The time had come. He would take her back to the Broadheart Wood, and reveal to her the path ahead. She needed the truth, for the worst was far from over.

‘Come,’ he said, making towards the south. ‘We have much to discuss, but we cannot do it here.’

Alyssa followed, and they made for the woodland, unaware they were being watched.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 8, the battle   July 8th 2009, 4:27 pm

I'm losing focus a bit. When i first started this rewrite I was thinking a lot about things I would do. But it's sort of numbed itself over time. And now I'm just rewriting scenes, and I don't believe they are coming out as good as they could be.

How can I re-focus myself? Neutral
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PostSubject: Reply   July 9th 2009, 8:22 am

Did I say do everything in one edit? NO! Thus, don't attempt to do everything in one edit. I told you to clean your manuscript with this edit. What you wrote might not be alive with the action, horror, and magic of the events, but it is a good passage. Once you have cleaned up your manuscript, you can then afford to look at each section again and work on your narration skills to punch it into better shape. Truthfully, as you continue to work your mind should begin sorting details and you will actually find yourself wanting to return to sections as you realize that you now know how to do certain scenes.

I tell my students that there are two types of boredom. One is where you know everything, and simply doing it again is not fun. The other is where your mind does not know, and is fatigued from having to process data. Unless what you are doing is perfect in form and execution, you have to assume the latter. Thus, continue to work and cause your mind to handle the task in order to gain the mastery that you need. If you do, you will eventually find yourself understanding and the task no longer becomes boring.

Thus, KEEP WORKING. Note: There is no one over your shoulder. No one is paying you. Thus, yes, you can take breaks or go do other things to restore your drive. Don't stop, as that is allowing something good to go to waste. Also -
If a task is once begun / Never leave it til its done / Be it great or be it small / Do it well or don't do it at all

Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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