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The Fallen King: Chapter Eight, Pt 4

by MaybeAndrew


Part Three of Chapter Eight

The Fallen King

After his father's death, Liam inherits the title of Keepership to help lead the small village of Lownire. Feeling trapped and inadequate, he is glad when his Grandfather is awakened from sanity by words in the Old Tongue. ( A mysterious magical language that carries power.) Liam thinks his grandfather should be the Keeper, but Grandpa instead asks him not to abandon his Keepership and learn the Old Tongue. After a siege of Darkness and remembering a promise he made his sister before her death, Liam reluctantly accepts. In parts one and two, and three, Liam ate breakfast, went to the graveyard, and visited a trapped cattle who reminds him of his own plight. He is now supposed to be shopping. 

Liam was glad that the farmer never really asked for an explanation of why he was there. He simply led him out through the barn and showed him to a place where he could wash his shoes. Once done, Liam thought that he’d wandered enough and retrieved his wheelbarrow. He had to get the shopping done before sundown. He hurried on to the bustling center of town, pulling out his shopping list.

Though there were many reasons to be sullen, not least of which being that he hated shopping, it was hard to stay in a dark mood on Market Street. Yes, it was cold, but the main street of Lownire was as full of life as a spring garden. Every window, door, and heart was open and letting people in and out like bumble bees on flowers.

The shops on Market Street were like dollhouses that could be folded open. They had shutters or great doors which could be pulled away to reveal the whole front face of the building to the street. The few who didn’t open had glass windows to parade their various wares. Because of this, it was like the entire street became one big shop. In this shop, there was everything - food, from corn to caramel - clothing, from workman’s boots to women’s hats - and carpentry, from tools to toys.

Liam was surprised by how cheerful everyone was. Only two days before, the whole city had been hiding in their cellars and closets, with doors locked and windows shuttered. Now, they were filling the street, eating, playing, and bartering like it was Mayday.

Children ran up from the west gate and down to the Keep. Mothers were out on their morning shopping, carrying bags of food. Fathers were bringing larger shipments on the back of donkeys or carts, and shopkeepers were shouting about their various wares.

Blankets were laid out on the cold ground to sell items that weren’t in the shops. There were old nick-nacks, jewelry, lucky bells, instruments, and books. Old men, off-duty guards, and sailors sat around on stools, eating and drinking.

It was like, after all the pressure of the siege, the village was letting out a relieved sigh.

Liam walked down the lane, dodging animal poop, running children, and a large cart. As he walked, many he passed looked at the blade on his belt or gave him nods of respect and recognition. He tried to pretend he didn’t notice. He hadn’t done anything which earned their respect. He hadn’t fought the Darkness on the walls, like the watch had, or died from it, like the four whose graves he had just visited.

He pulled out the shopping list to distract himself from the thought. First up, bread. Leaving the cart outside, he climbed up the stone steps and into the bakery, pushing the windowed door open with a ding.

Inside smelled like baking pastries, and Liam felt his face flush from the warmth after the cold. It was well-lit, with the sunlight from the large windows scattering off of the pink walls and lighting the rows and rows of baked goods.

Behind the counter was a young woman Liam now recognized as Rebecka. Now that he knew to pay attention, he had a little bit more of an understanding of why Fisk was willing to risk his life on that wall. She was beautiful, with doughy cheeks, blond curly hair, and smiling eyes.

He wasn’t entirely sure how much of her beauty came from her smile because she seemed to be made of it. Her entire being was inhabited by joy. Her eyes sparkling, her demeanor welcoming, and her face shining.

“Hello, Keeper Liam! How are you doing this morning?” She asked, her words aglow with genuine joy.

“I’m really good. How about you?” Liam responded, hoping he still didn’t smell like animal manure, but he doubted something that terrible could leave.

“Oh, I’m doing fantastic,” She said, “Isn’t it amazing that storm left so quickly? If it hadn’t, we might have all drowned or something. Just dreadful to think about.”

“Yeah, lucky.” He said. He hadn’t done anything to his hair since waking up. What did it look like?

“It blew a chimney through our roof! Charles Fisk came and fixed that up this morning, though, so it all worked out. Isn’t that lovely?”

Liam smiled. “Yes, Yes, it is.” Fisk would be glad to hear her so pleased. Liam wondered what other damage the storm could have caused. It already felt like it had happened decades away now. Grandpa had just sent it away with a phrase. Would he be able to do things like that when he learned the old tongue? Would he be able to impress the young women of the village with his new and amazing abilities?

He ordered his bread and tried to pay Rebecka with some of the coins his grandpa had given him. She leaned over and pushed his hand back to him. “Not today. Charles told me about how you relit all our torches. Consider it a gift for helping protect the village.”

“That’s just my job,” Liam said, laughing, “You don’t need to give me anything free for that.”

“And it’s just my job to bake bread. Take it.”

Liam tried to protest further, but she was determined, so soon, he had to leave with his bread unpaid for.

He soon discovered this would be somewhat of a pattern. People would give him a discounted price, throw on something extra, or thank him specifically for relighting torches or saving Matt. When Liam’s father first died, people had given him lots of food and gifts. But this time, it felt different. These gifts weren’t out of pity but respect or thankfulness. He felt it was respect and thankfulness that was unfounded. But when he tried to explain that he had just been there, it had been Hugh who had saved Matt, they’d still just smile and give it to him anyway.

Liam was glad to find he was to the last item on his list. Cured beef.

Pushing his heavy and nearly full wheelbarrow, he stopped in front of the open-fronted butchers. Two large walls had swung out and open, revealing a large counter. Hooks covered the two walls off which hung dried mutton, strings of cured sausages, large legs of lamb, and dried venison. Inside the shop hung similar cuts, along with heads of goats, whole deer, and sides of beef.

The butchers smelled like a strange mix of animal, seasoning, smoke, and blood. Much of the meat was dried, though some was fresh. Liam supposed that the fresh meat must have come from the recently slaughtered cattle or goats kept in pens like the one he had found moments ago.

The line to the butcher’s window was longer than most of the other shops. Liam pulled his wheelbarrow off to the side and got in line behind a mother and her small son.

Two arguing men got in line behind him. They both looked like old sailors, with worn faces that had been burnt by the sun and bent by the wind.

“No, no, no, the storm shows that we have a south wind coming in!” The taller one argued. He was tall, thin, and balding, like the masts he worked on.

The shorter one shook his head. He was squat and gnarled, like an old stump. “The storm came from due east!” He shouted, attracting the attention of some passersby. “It was cold rain. It is an anomaly, not the sign of better air.”

“Storms can’t come from the East. Everyone knows that. Storms come from the South or the North, and that storm was a spring storm. It came from the South and then was blown in by the East wind,” shouted the tall one. A few around muttered complaints. Sailors were known to do this. The longer the winter went on, the more pent up they felt, and the easier it was for them to get angry. Sometimes the watch had to get involved to break it up. Dad always said it was because the Sailors were the few people who didn’t live most of their lives inside of the walls, they felt a little more license to be outside the regular rules. Liam smiled. He hoped the watch would have to come to break it up. That would be entertaining.

“Look, we have a Keeper here. He can settle this,” The shorter one said.

They both turned to look at Liam. Liam’s smile froze on his face. He hadn’t realized he could get roped into this. Liam looked around, even though he was very sure he was the only Keeper.

“How’d you do, Keeper Liam?” The tall one asked, squinting his wrinkled eyes into a smile.

“Good?” Liam responded, sounding more unsure than he’d meant to.

“Glad to hear it,” the old man said. “By light, do you know if we’ll have a good catch the next fortnight?”

People around leaned in, some trying to hide the fact they were listening, many not.

Liam looked around. The Keeper of the Light was supposed to guide the village, but how should he know? He wasn’t a fisherman. Stars, he had never stepped foot onto a fishing ship.

“I don’t know much about fish,” Liam tried nervously.

The taller man stepped forward in front of the other. “What Frank means is, will the air be good? Will we be getting warm sea air?”

“That’s not what I meant!” Frank said, “I asked about fish.”

“But warmer air means more fish,” The taller man responded.

“What is your obsession with warm air?” Frank cut him off angrily. “But they won’t be none of that either, right Keeper Liam?”

“I don’t know,” Liam slowly started. “The storm wasn’t from the South, though. It was an anomaly.”

“See! That’s what I said, anomaly!” The tall one shouted, satisfied. Liam was, for a small moment, quite proud of himself. He had been able to help somewhat.

Then, it shattered when someone somewhere in the crowd shouted. “Will we have another siege before spring, Keeper Liam?”

“I, umm,” Liam started.

And it was as if that one question had broken the dam, and suddenly everybody was allowed to ask questions. “Keeper, Liam, would it be too early to plant my spring peas?” The mother asked.

“My uncle’s ship was broken in the storm. He can’t make a living without that,” A young man said as if Liam was somehow supposed to solve that problem.

“My house flooded during the storm. Where am I going to live?” An older woman shouted.

More questions and concerns poured out. People listed their problems like Liam could solve them until Liam couldn’t tell them apart. It was like all the nervous energy from the siege had been hiding, pretending everything was fine until Liam came. Among all the fears, questions, and concerns, one pierced through the others.

“My brother died on the wall. Why didn’t you save him?”

Liam whirled around, trying to find the person who had said it. He scanned over the concerned faces, the old sailors, the young mothers, and the men on their way to different jobs. The children trying to occupy themselves. They were all looking at him, all waiting for him to solve their problems.

A banging of metal on metal quieted some of the voices and drew attention away from Liam. Cormac stood a little outside the crowd, hitting his sword against his shield, which made a loud sound like cymbals. He looked powerful, despite his age, wearing his squire armor, a breastplate, chainmail tunic, and helmet.

Once he was satisfied that he could be heard, he sheathed his sword. “Keeper Liam, you are required at the Keep to meet with the other Keepers,” He said loudly, as much for everyone else as for Liam.

“But my house!” Someone said.

Cormac pushed through the crowd and towards Liam, “Questions and concerns can be lodged at the Keep. Currently, the Keeper of the Light is needed to address these questions.”

He grabbed Liam and began to pull him out of the crowd.

“I need to buy meat,” Liam protested quietly to Cormac.

“Later,” Cormac muttered. “Everyone, back to their shopping, please!”

The crowd’s normal bustle started again, and the butcher started taking orders.

*

Questions:

1. What do you think of the description of the village?

2. Do the ways people react to Liam make sense to you?

3. How is the dialogue and interactions between the characters?

Part Five


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Mon Jun 12, 2023 3:35 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Ooh ok I think we have more description now that kind of makes up for what I felt was missing in the previous part. It gives a good overview of the village and Liam's surroundings and I feel more immersed now. (oops, answered question one without even meaning to!)

I'm interested that Liam's position doesn't extend to just giving some people his list and having them fetch and deliver the supplies for him. Like he can request assistance, but there's a line?

2. Do the ways people react to Liam make sense to you?
Yes and no (no straight answers from me I'm afraid!). So I'm totally on board with the fact that they're grateful to him because they consider he played a part in saving all of them the other night. That makes sense, and it gives them good reason to keep giving him things for free because they feel indebted to him.

I was less comprehending of the incessant questioning. Liam's been their keeper of light for a little while - hasn't he had all these questions already? He hasn't just not seen anyone since he inherited the title (or hasn't he?) so I don't get why this is a new phenomena.

3. How is the dialogue and interactions between the characters
I really liked the interactions, especially between Frank and the taller man. It goes a long way to fleshing out the rest of the world, not just hearing about the other people in the village but actually seeing them.

I gotta say this is already a long chapter, and we're only half way through so I think there's definitely going to be room to cut this one down where you edit, or somehow make it into two shorter chapters but I'll reserve my opinions on that until I finish the full chapter!

Icy

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MaybeAndrew says...


I'm interested that Liam's position doesn't extend to just giving some people his list and having them fetch and deliver the supplies for him. Like he can request assistance, but there's a line?

He could, theoretically, do that, but Liam himself it too uncomfortable with his position to do something like that, and Grandpa is trying to make him work to humble him. But maybe I should make that more clear!
The other feedback is super helpful, and I will take that into account while editing!



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Sun May 28, 2023 3:39 am
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cookiesandcream123 wrote a review...



Heyo, MaybeAndrew, here to leave a review!

First of all, I commend you for getting so far in this novel :0 So many posts, and each of them are quite long! That's super impressive, and personally I could never have the dedication to do that.

Now, jumping in! I really love your writing style, and also Liam's character. It feels like the reader can "hear" him through the narration, even though it's not in first-person. This is the first chapter from the series I've read, but I didn't feel lost or detached from the setting and characters. On the contrary, I think I was able to follow along and learn a lot. I could infer what kind of person Liam is, even though this isn't like, a backstory-heavy chapter. Your worldbuilding is also amazing -- very well paced and beautifully described.


I'll try my best to answer the questions now, but I'm not an expert writer, so you can take any constructive criticism with a grain of salt:


1. I think the village descriptions are beautiful and flow well together! I really enjoyed this line as well:

Every window, door, and heart was open and letting people in and out like bumble bees on flowers.


Loved the figurative language here :D It honestly seems like a nice village to be in! Well, aside from the shady darkness being mentioned...

On the first read, I felt like the 5 paragraphs of description (para. 2-6) was a little too long. But I think it works, and the info is important without being repeated. I would just keep in mind that since this part is pretty info-heavy, it'd be good to avoid too much description later on, or to balance it out with action. This chapter also seems slower-paced, so you might want to add more action to the next one, to alternate between filler and action chapters. Ultimately, though, it's up to you!


2. Yes, it does! I can tell that Liam is suffering under the weight of their expectations. T__T Gosh dang it Grandpa, why can't you help with the Keepership!!


3. I also think the dialogue flows smoothly, and I like that the sailors have their own unique tone. If I had to be REALLY nitpicky, I would say that the dialogue between Rebecka and Liam sounds off sometimes. It seems polite and formal, but becomes modernly casual at times, with the "really good" and the "or something."
I could be wrong though; I'm not good with dialogue. >_>

All in all, excellent work!! This seems like a great novel with an exciting world. I love fantasy, yet haven't been able to read it as much. This really brings back those vibes. :D Keep up the great work, and have a nice day!




MaybeAndrew says...


Thank you so much for the review! I think you're right about the dialogue between Rebecka and Liam. I'll be sure to edit that!




Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate.
— Sigmund Freud