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The Fallen King: Chapter Three, pt 2

by MaybeAndrew


Part one: https://www.youngwriterssociety.com/work/MaybeAndr...

LAST TIME ON THE FALLEN KING

Liam comes returns home from the raging storm, does his chores, and hates that he has to live in a lighthouse. He ascends to the last floor to check on the light

 Instead of the spiral staircase, the center of the room was taken up by a pillar of gears and wheels, each one interlocking complexly. The system pulled and propelled by the slowly falling weight.

Engineering like that had been lost when the kingdom fell, but the Old One had designed and built the lighthouse. Liam oiled the mechanism and checked to make sure it was working. A task he’d done countless times. When he discovered everything was in order, he climbed the last ladder to the top room.

With walls of glass paneling and a door out onto a platform, the lighthouse had the best view of the valley. The lighthouse peak was the highest point in Lownire, barring the crumbling towers of the dark castle or the distant mountain peaks that held the valley in like a bowl. Much of the room was taken up by a huge lens. The complexly blown glass, like the gears, was created by the hands of the starling. The oblong disk of glass sparkled as it turned around the fire. The light refracted off the complex layers of glass.

Burning in a marble bowl was the blue fire of Astrum. Similar to that of the one at the graveyard, the bowl was carved by the old one out of white marble, but this one was big enough to bathe in.

Shallow and perfectly circular, it came up to his waist. Much of the wood atop it had been burning for decades, but the pyre was almost as tall as Liam.

The closer to the center, the older the wood. The oldest pieces had been reduced to shining coals, looking almost like smooth river stones in the sunlight or gems that glowed with their own internal light. Tradition would have him add another bundle of wood at the Winter and Summer solstice, but besides that, the fire burned with little intervention.

In the center of the pyre was the Heart of Astrum. Surrounded by flames and wood, it could only be seen in the gaps of the coals, but where its light shone through was almost blinding. It was as if a sliver of the sun had been taken down and placed in a stone. Or the core of a bolt of lightning as it struck had been captured in stone. A stone of pure blue light.

Being a Keeper of the Light, Liam couldn’t be blinded by the light of Astrum, nor could the fire burn him. Before being the Keeper, he had been burned countless times in his carelessness, but he had always understood intuitively never to look at the Heart of Astrum.

Liam still had never looked at it, and even now, his eyes avoided it. The light felt… piercing. Like it was shining through him, into him. It was seeing him, in all his smallness, fear, and confusion. Being in the room with it for too long made him feel weak, or at the very least, reminded him of the weakness he always had. He didn’t want to give that light a more direct window into his mind than needed. Another thing he hoped he could leave behind.

To avoid its gaze, he turned to look out at the sea. The pyre’s light lit the drops of rain around the lighthouse, and the lightning would occasionally give a brief snapshot of the clouds, but what allowed him to see best was when the lighthouse beam swept over the cliffs and sea. At that moment, he could see everything as bright as noonday. The wind and waves changed so much between the brief moments of light that it was like looking at a different world when the light came back. This section of the sea, previously mountains, was now low. That deep valley cast high into the sky after crashing against a rock. A boulder that had been visible would then be plunged beneath their churning depths, and a new cliff revealed in the parting curtain of rain.

The lighthouse kept sailors away from the dangerous, difficult-to-navigate cliffs and directed them home, but it did a more important job when night came, and the sailors returned home. The lighthouse held back the tide of Darkness, held back the Shadows ever pressing in for more. Held back the Corruption ever hungering to snuff out the light of Lownire and settle in the valley permanently. But the sweeping beam of the lighthouse was a deft blade in the Corruptions maw, holding it at bay.

The lighthouse kept sailors away from the dangerous, difficult-to-navigate cliffs and directed them home, but it did a more important job when night came, and the sailors returned home.

At least Liam hoped that’s all it was doing tonight. He hoped there were no sailors in need of guidance out there in the waves. His eyes greedily searched the rolling hills of water, looking for three small flashes. Each ship carried a lantern, and they would flash it three times if they required saving. It was his job to take a boat out into that water and rescue them from the peril of the sea. He stared out, the feeling of fear rising as he watched monstrous waves. But the fear had an undertone, the undertone Liam had never understood.

Excitement.

Ever since he was a boy, he had wanted to climb down the cliff to the ship moored at its base and navigate those impossible rocks. He had always wanted to see the three quick flashes that told him he had to brave that water.

But that night, there was only the flashing of lightning among those waves.

He sighed, both in relief and disappointment, and turned to make his way back to the first floor.

In the meantime, Grandpa had eaten his porridge and was now staring wide-eyed into the fire. As he had done the day before, and the day before that, and all the way back to when Liam was just entering training.

Liam led Grandpa up to his bed and let him lie down to sleep. He closed his eyes and in a moment, was snoozing contently. Though covered in countless lines and gnarled like an old root, he was in perfect health. His hair was still thick, a shimmering gray, and he was only missing a few teeth.

Besides his mind, Grandpa exhibited no signs of illness. “Are you going to outlive me too, old man?” Liam asked quietly. “Are you going to see the next generation wake up and do the same things every day until the darkness finds them, or until they too break down into quiet insanity?”

His grandfather didn’t respond, “Or maybe you’ll die soon, and then I’ll be all alone up here.”

Liam paused, “Won’t change much. You never respond anyway.”

Liam blew out the one remaining candle and walked over to his bed, not needing light to navigate the bedroom that had been his since birth. He lay down, trying not to think that he would awake the next morning to the same set of problems. Dawn would come, and none of his questions would be answered.

Liam fell asleep, trying to hope for a future where he could leave it all behind.

***

But he was wrong, wrong about most of everything. To start, he didn’t wake up the next morning. He awoke three hours before dawn.

He didn’t awaken in bed either. He was on the floor. In fact, he was pretty sure he had lept from the bed to the floor. His side and one of his fingers ached to confirm this. To add to the confusion, the last crackles of an impossibly loud boom still rang in his ears. Thunder so loud he felt like it might have shattered the cliffs.

As the ringing in Liam’s ears faded, Grandpa made a sound for the first time in a long time. It was an incomprehensible wailing - but it was a sound nonetheless.

Liam stood up, his heart pounding. Grandpa’s screaming was not exactly comforting, nor did it abate. He continued to let continuous screams from a long-unused throat and mouth. The sound was deep, using the full force of the old man’s breath to make his throat cry out and Liam’s brain rattle.

Liam fumbled over the staircase. He ran down through the second floor and continued on to the first. He stopped abruptly as he arrived in the fire-lit room and looked around.

Why had he gone downstairs? To escape Grandpa’s wailing, yes, but it felt like there was something more. It reminded him of all the times he’d entered a room to completely forget why he was there, but knowing intensely he needed to be.

The whip-crack of lightning sounded again, and the entire lighthouse shook. But there were words in the whip crack, spoken in the same tongue as the words he had heard in the trees, but this time screamed within the deep boom.

“COME OUT.” They commanded.

That’s why he had come downstairs. To go outside. To follow the command of the lightning.

“Wait, what?” He shouted to himself and the room. Follow the command of lightning? Lightning didn’t tell you to do things - that only happened in legends, or distant lands, or times of old. Darkness had put an end to all of that. The titans fell long before the kingdom, and -

“COME OUT.” The voice exclaimed again with another crack. They pierced through his mind so solidly he took a step towards the door.

He caught onto the hearth, whose fire was now low coals. Closing his eyes, he tried to shut the sound out. He didn’t have time to ask why a storm was speaking or why he was listening.

He just knew he wasn’t going to listen to it. No tempest, however big and angry, was going to make him do anything. So, using the skill that made parenting him excessively difficult, even his trained soldier of a father, he didn’t move.

But he couldn’t help but wonder. Out there was his problem. Out there was something more than the shaking lighthouse, and more than his screaming grandfather and more Liam’s own fear. Even if he couldn’t solve the problem, he wanted to know what it was.

He opened his eyes and approached that door, his pulse thundering in his ear louder than the storm. He opened the door, spurred on by that unexplained and uncontrollable spirit for something more. That same spirit that made him want to become a sailor, that made him abhor working at the lighthouse for the rest of his life, and that made him wish to see the three flashes of light. He was going out there, not by command of the voice, but despite it. Yes, he wanted to hear the storm sing but then to answer it with his own song. He unlocked the door and stepped out into the tempest.

The wind lashed the land outside. The waves were so huge that when they crashed against the cliffs, they sent spray onto the lighthouse. The rain mingled with the seawater and gave the wind something to sling.

The clouds were like an oppressive roof, holding out any sliver of light from the heavens. The only light in the valley came from the lighthouse and the city. Lownire, its wall lined with fire blue fire, kept back the Darkness like water keeps back oil. Each dot was like a little star, and as Liam stood there, he saw one wink out. The wall should have had a line of evenly spaced light, but many of the lights seemed to have already gone out. He stumbled deeper into the storm and closer to the cliffs to get a better view. If the wall lost its light, the creatures of Darkness might strike the city. Then, it would be up to the walls and the Watch to keep Lownire safe. The Watch could not kill a creature without light. It could only hold them off.

Liam watched as another little light went out. The blue fire of Astrum didn’t go out easily, but now he was watching as, one by one, the storm snuffed out the lights of the city wall. Each one winking and disappearing.

He looked up at the clouds. This is what his father had warned him of. Those words, those were words of power. Old ones. Ones that could stop the storm. Probably King’s Speech. They might command the fire to do something or make the storm leave. An old oath that was buried deep in Keepers tradition. Words had power, that much had not been forgotten.

Liam stepped forward to the edge of the cliffs. Taking a deep breath, he concentrated on placing his entire force of will behind the words, like he was taught to do while commanding the flames.

“Legus Thu Hume!” He shouted with all the authority he could muster. The words hung in the air, more powerful than the thunder that shook the earth.

The storm raged on like he had merely spit in its face. Another fire winked out on the wall. He looked around, at the lighthouse, at the wall, and then at the sky above. Nothing?! The words felt so powerful, so different! They had even made the fire burst up earlier that day. But now, they did nothing? He looked down at the ocean as it churned.

He realized his father had been delirious. The words meant nothing. He fell to his knees and closed his eyes, trying to hold back the tears. None of his questions would be answered. His fate was to live on that forsaken cliff. To -

A sharp pain awakened him from the stupor. It felt as if someone had whacked him on the head. “You idiot!” An old haggard voice shouted above the storm. The staff hit him again. “You absolute nincompoop.” The voice added. “You unthinking childish son of an iron skull.” The voice continued. Liam turned, dumbfounded, to look at a figure bent over in the rain.

“What?” He stammered, putting his hands above his head to block further blows.

“You will say, ‘what, sir!”” The figure corrected, “Did your father not treat you how to respect your own grandfather?” The man said, helping Liam to his feet.

Liam stared down at Grandpa, mouth hanging open. He had to make sure it was him. It was the same face, normally so dull and empty, but now curved in frustration, eyebrows furrowed.

The same gray eyes that he had used to stare out the window for hours, but now glistening with sharp wit. Even the same voice, but one he had not heard for years.

“Don’t just stare at me like I’m some confounded spirit! Get inside before this wind sweeps you away, you halfwit.” 


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Thu May 19, 2022 8:50 pm
waywardxwanderer wrote a review...



Hello!

I have nothing to say for myself.

It appears I am worse with keeping schedules than I thought. I am trying! Just mostly failing. Here is your review:

It was as if a sliver of the sun had been taken down and placed in a stone. Or the core of a bolt of lightning as it struck had been captured in stone.


Mate. These descriptions are fantastic. They're absolutely lovely and I just have one critique for this quote, which is the repetition at the end of the sentences; it makes them flow together less dynamically. While each is absolutely stunning separately, you could possibly restructure them to make them fit together better. Maybe something like: "It was as if a sliver of sun had been taken down and placed in a stone, or its heart was a captured bolt of lightning".

He stared out, the feeling of fear rising as he watched monstrous waves.


I don't exactly have a *critique* but an idea for improvement for this sentence. The sentence tells the reader that Liam feels fear instead of showing it. You could connect the ideas and say something like, "He stared out, his heart beating against his ribs like the monstrous waves beat against the craggy shore."

The whip-crack of lightning sounded again, and the entire lighthouse shook. But there were words in the whip crack, spoken in the same tongue as the words he had heard in the trees, but this time screamed within the deep boom.


This one is just an opinion, but you could replace the second "whip-crack" with just the word "lightning" - not sure why; it just flows a bit better, since the whip-crack is a describing word for the lightning. If not, then you could add a dash in the second "whip-crack". Also - kudos. I'm applauding this description; it's incredible.

So, using the skill that made parenting him excessively difficult, even his trained soldier of a father, he didn’t move.


Here, you should say "even to his trained soldier of a father". Also, I love this sentence.

Overall, your writing just gets better and better as the story goes on. The descriptions in this section were dynamic and full of life, and there wasn't a hint of what I mentioned in the last couple of chapters about the descriptions seeming irrelevant or boring. Your dialogue is wonderful, and the ending!!!! Things are happening!!!! I cannot wait to see where this story goes next (:

Keep writing,
Wayward (:




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Sat Feb 12, 2022 3:05 pm
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi MaybeAndrew,

Mailice back with a short review! :D

I suppose we end the third chapter with this. I think we've reached a good point about how we see Liam and what we can expect.

I'll be brief about the structure, as it's similar to the last part; a good structure and good descriptions. The focus was a bit more on character development and introduction this time, but that didn't stop you from still giving good and detailed descriptions.

I really liked how the storyline here is so emotional and it gives us a good view of Liam. It's an interesting comparison to your other novel and also a great comparison to see how everything has developed from the prologue.

Liam seems like a well-written character. The strongest focus was there at the beginning with his father's death and that has developed over time so we've seen more about his acquaintances/relationships and his life as a Keeper. I think that gives you a diverse overview of Liam.

As I said in one of the previous reviews, the grief that Liam showed at the beginning is clearly strong and a drive for the character to move forward. I don't see much of that in these current chapters, but more of a build-up to another character, the grandfather, and that's where I'm wondering now why we're jumping around here.

We're still at the beginning of the story, and you're throwing us right into several pots of where the direction could go, and that worries me a little bit, in the case of where we are right now, because you have several construction sites that are advanced now, and we're all introduced to part of Liam's personality.

I don't know directly how to describe it as a kind of critique, but at the moment it feels like you're building up a lot of things where I, as a reader, don't yet know how they're all going to be closed. On the one hand, this also has to do with the fact that I see the chapters individually and don't have a complete book in front of me to assess what is still to come.

That's why I can't tell you exactly what we could do now to get around that. Again, this is just my personal opinion, so it may be different for every reader, but for me it seems a bit left out at the moment.

But I liked the way you made the flashbacks into these flashbacks in this chapter, and how it made a nice change from traditionally constructed chapters. Liam is still a very detailed and interesting character and I am very curious to see where we will go with him.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




MaybeAndrew says...


Thank you again for the review Malice!
I don't know directly how to describe it as a kind of critique, but at the moment it feels like you're building up a lot of things where I, as a reader, don't yet know how they're all going to be closed. On the one hand, this also has to do with the fact that I see the chapters individually and don't have a complete book in front of me to assess what is still to come.

If I'm understanding you correctly what you're saying is we have a lot going on but no defined direction for the story?
If so, I agree, we don't really have a place the reader can look forward to that we are going towards. This is partly intentional because Liam also feels really lost and overwhelmed, but obviously if the audience feels that too much with him we'll be in a real pickle because nobody wants to read a book that makes them feel that way.
I hope that the next chapter can solve this problem because it really gives Liam a call to adventure, and sets him on track to a place. I hope in doing so that'll solve the lost and confused feeling, but if it doesn't I'll probably have to go back and edit it we have more of a direct place to look forward too.
As I said in one of the previous reviews, the grief that Liam showed at the beginning is clearly strong and a drive for the character to move forward. I don't see much of that in these current chapters, but more of a build-up to another character, the grandfather, and that's where I'm wondering now why we're jumping around here

I agree I may have cut off the grief thing a bit too early, and I'll try to keep that going, though I hope I manage to show that the Grandfather is heavily tied into the grief of his fathers death... but also the solution in some ways.
If you can think of any good ways to solve these problems, I'd love to hear them, if you can't, once again thanks for the amazing review!




A woman knows the face of the man she loves as a sailor knows the open sea.
— Honore de Balzac