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The Lord of Shadows-Intro

The Lord of Shadows-Intro

A mysterious man and an equally mysterious girl discuss darkness and their relations to each other.

3

Fantasy / Sci-fi


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Greta Burton (United States)







The Lord of Shadows

Blackness is all that fills the cold, empty stone room. Two obsidian thrones sit stoically in the darkness, only visible when a shift in the black clouds shows a glint in their shiny surface from a crack of soft, tentative light that penetrates the clouds, if only minutely. The room is abruptly no longer empty. A figure as equally dark as the room has appeared without explanation, as if coming from the darkness itself. He glides silently towards the thrones and seats himself in the largest one. From beneath his cloak he procures a staff, engraved as a snake. His cape mirrors the staff, an extravagant material of snakeskin. The man looks out the lone window in the dark room contemplatively. He is not uncomfortable in the darkness, quite the contrary, he thrives in it. As he wishes the world to thrive in it, as well.

The man smiles slightly in the darkness, his teeth shining a brilliant white in the black. The world will thrive in the darkness soon enough, the man thinks to himself. An almost imperceptible movement from the entryway to the room causes the man quickly whip his head towards the source.

“Announce yourself,” he calls dryly, “I’ve no time for this.”

“Hello, father.” The intruder comes forward and steps into the crack of moonlight filtering into the room. It is a young girl, perhaps sixteen. With the minute amount of light, it is challenging, impossible for anyone else, to make out her exact features. She has a sharp, angular look to her: a sharp nose, sharp, jagged, dark hair, and a sharp, thin mouth. Most striking, however, are the sharp, deep golden eyes, cutting through the darkness, a predator’s watchful glare. The man lets out a long and irritated sigh.

“You try my patience, girl. Must I once again explain that you are not to call me “Father”, you are to refer to me as ‘My Lord of Shadows’, ‘My Lord,’ or perhaps just ‘Sir’.”

“Yes, My Lord.” The girl scowls, but dips her head submissively, so as not to be seen doing so.

“You are an excellent fighter who has done excellent work for our cause, and you are an obedient soul. Yet you cannot seem to obey that particular order. Why is that?”

“Perhaps because you are my father, and I am your daughter,” The girl flinches internally, regretting her cheek instantly.

You are no daughter of mine.” The Lord’s voice holds his fury, and yet his words seem to be more of a purposeful statement rather than a shout. He is perfectly in control of his anger, choosing how much fury to let into his words, how much is necessary to remain controlled but powerful. “You are a disappointment. You are common. Your manipulation of shadows is weak at best. You are not even worthy of the name we originally christened you, Raven. Instead we had to rename you something worthy of your common self, Terra, as in dirt, the ground beneath our feet which is stamped underfoot. My daughter is Raven Ayesa. You are not that daughter. The only reason you haven’t been cast out is because of your utmost dedication to our cause, and your hard work to better yourself. To become a Shadiac, a manipulator of shadows, fears...” The Lord of Shadows smiles cruelly. “And very soon, death.”

“It is not my fault I was not born a Shadiac, SIR,” The girl is horrified and baffled at the words that leave her mouth of her own accord. That is, until she spots her father’s Trillion companion, a manipulator of the mind, in this one’s case drawing out unsaid thoughts and making them said. The Trillion must’ve entered behind her at her father’s mental call.

“Terra, would you enjoy a visit to your old corner?” The girl gasps at the Lord’s words, inexplicably terrified by a typical childhood punishment. “Oh, I think you would. First, of course, the reason you dared disturb me at all? What is it?”

“A Bracket. A full, complete Bracket, our enemies have found another one. Rather they’ve had it twelve years, in hiding, much as the last, only we found the last, this one...” She trails off for a moment, gasping in terror as two large men enter and take hold of her arms. She struggles to continue calmly as she is held forcibly. She knows where they mean to take her as soon as she is finished. “This one we did not find. They mean to take them to Houghton Hill Castle, the training school near here, tomorrow night.” The Lord of Shadows hisses with slight annoyance. His waves his hand, and the men guide the girl away, though she walks of her own accord, on trembling feet.

“A full Bracket could mean difficulty for us, but not much. After twelve years with no training, they’re bound to be rather weak, in any case,” The Lord of Shadows mumbles into the dark, empty room.

Meanwhile, the sharp girl is shoved into a small room with no windows. It is empty, except in one particular corner swathed in a deeper sort of darkness. There are four chains ending in cuffs in this dark corner. One of the men chains the girls wrists and ankles to the shackles,

wrists and ankles already bearing scars that come from the repeated digging in of cuffs into flesh. The girl is forced to face the place where the two walls meet: the corner. The girl does not resist, does not even try, just shakes with fear, her sharp eyes dull as death, her face pale as the moonlight that is abruptly cut off as the men close and lock the heavy, metal steel door.

Black wings unfurl from the girl’s back to protect her when the first of the shadows begins to move and swirl around her. The darkness presses against her as tangible black tendrils, and the girl begins to shake in terror. They whisper in her ear with fangs as sharp and never-ending as her dread. She waits for the shadows to penetrate her head and realize her fears. The nightmares the darkness finds, those are the fears entitled the darkest.


Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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Read Reviews

Review 1:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing!
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Your story makes compelling reading.
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Your strong opening and compelling hook was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
In my humble opinion, a few adjectives could be cut, but overall a very good story that left me wanting more.

Review 2:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Make sure your characters are multidimensional. Do they have strengths and weaknesses? Mere mortals make the most interesting stories because they are like you and me and we are able to empathize with their journey. That’s how the connection with a character is formed.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing!
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Your story makes compelling reading.
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose is tricky. As writers, we face the daunting task of making sure we are not being predictable. Can you find a way to give the content and characters more of a unique edge? Perhaps say something boldly, something fresh or show an unorthodox approach to a topic?
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Your strong opening and compelling hook was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 2:
So, I think your story is getting darker and darker and maybe (I really don't know but maybe) it's your plan, your intention and it will work but I like the story anyway and want to see the whole work, the whole picture, not only first chapter of it. Good luck.

Review 3:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • The grammar, typography, sentence structure and punctuation would benefit from a further round of editing to avoid distracting from the quality of the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
General comments from your fellow writer 3:
You're off to a great start! Here are a few suggestions: 1) You used the same adjective too many times. Find synonyms for these words. Example: She has a sharp, angular look to her: a sharp nose, sharp, jagged, dark hair, and a sharp, thin mouth. Replace sharp with a different word. 2). Redundancy. Example: the ground beneath our feet which is stamped underfoot.. 3) Make sure your audience/readers understand what your character is saying. Example: “A full Bracket could mean difficulty for us. I know what a bracket is. However, in this instance, I haven't a clue what it is or why it would pose a problem.