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the Guilt of Boreelion

by methrirr123

He burst from a wall of brush, the wall of a great forest, feet pounding and breath heaving with fatigue, running for his life. His feet meet the ground, trampling and tangling in the waving green grass of a vast field overlooking a hill, atop which is a large, gnarled oak tree. He runs to it, the only landmark in an otherwhise empty field. The hill is steep, but he makes it nonetheless. At least he would take the high ground. As he neared it, he paused to rest, for the first time in three days of running, running... it’s been three days... surely, I haven’t lost him? But as he looked into the forest from which he came, where previously he was pursued by his foe, there was silence, and stillness. There was no apparent sign that he was still being pursued. The elf, whose name was Boreelion, heaved a relieved sigh, and slumped against the tree.
The bark, however, was rougher than most oaks, even for an oak. He looked up at it, and as he did, a lump formed in his throat. This tree, he thought. Could it be... am I... Where am I? he frantically gazed over the hill, and before his waking eyes, the sky turned dark, but it didn’t. A village below, burning away, the blood curdling screams of burning women, men, children... but it wasn’t. It was just a ruin, but one that Boreelion vividly remembered. He was faint, dizzy even, and had to lean against the tree for support. This village, he thought. He remembered the arrows ablaze, flying like red stars that glowed with the flames of death as they showered the night with their destructive malice. He could remember dipping them into the tar, scorching the tips of his fingers, setting a hundred arrows alight before mounting all on the string of his mighty bow. He could feel the bow in his hands as he recalled that dreadful, horrible night. The sky once again went black, and with before him he once again saw the village burn, heard the villagers scream, and began coughing, choking on the mere memory of the smoke that rose from the blazing inferno that may have once resembled a village, but was now just a ruin. And it was his fault.
He could remember aiming the arrows at the village, his mind blinded by his rage, but then reason fought its way to the surface. Wait! Don’t! it might have cried feebly, but to no avail. He almost stopped himself though, but one false move, as he made to adjust his grip, he could still feel the string slip from his fingers, hear the twang! of the string being pulled taught. He could recall perfectly the arrows as they flew in a sickeningly beautiful arc, like flaming stars as they made to the village. It was from this very spot that he made that shot. And the sky was bright again, as he awakened from his waking nightmare by a loud THUMP.
No... He has found me. He with little time to spare, he ran to the village, just as a club-like arm came down made of wood where, just a split second before, he had been standing. A groaning, creaking, cracking noise accompanied by the sound of earth being torn up by roots, and an enraged roar assaulted Boreelions ears as he sprinted down the hill towards the ruined village, pure adrenaline replacing his fatigue. Now he was truly fearful. Only when he was far from the source of the noise did he pause to face his ruthless pursuer.
Erect atop the hill, where the gnarled oak once stood, was a gigantic oaklike man, whose skin was like the bark of the tree, but with some sick alterations. His left hand, as Boreelion watched in horrified awe, warped and writhed into the shape of a sword, while in his right he bore what looked like a stone shield. His skin was burnt in places, slashed in others, like battle scars of an ageless war hero, only a horrible tree giant thing. Again it bellowed, it’s deep voice seeming to shake the very earth under Boreelions feet.
“BOREELION!” it roared, raising it’s sword like forearm in defiance. “It is time for this to end! It is time for you to die for your crimes! You, who are most hated out of all on this Plane! You, who’s doomed heart has been corrupted by evil and rage! Truly, you are a disgrace to your kind, elf! Now, I will make a promise to you, cursed one! I will put you to rest! I, Sernhil, will kill you! You will pay for the lives you claimed in the thousands with your bones, flesh, blood and soul! Give it all back, Boreelion! For I intend to take it all back!” And with that, Sernhil the Tree Giant charged with astonishing speed, his warcry alone enough to crush even the stoutest of hearts, but Boreelion couldn’t run now. Better to eliminate the problem then try to escape it. He returned the charge, drawing his own sword, a gleaming bastard sword with a crimson blade, that burst to life in his hands, fire enveloping the blade like a veil, as runes upon it glowed with an angry light. No turning back...
Sernhil opened up, with his shield in one hand and his sword acting as the other, with a devastating blow that would have had Boreelion cleft in two, had he not jumped out of the way. He returned with a strike with his sword, but Sernhil caught it with his shield, returning again with a blow that again would have killed Boreelion were it not for his speed. As it was, Boreelion was hit in the arm, a deep gash that poured golden blood, but not for long. The wound knit itself shut, and in a second, there wasn’t even a scar. At this point, Boreelion was again overcome by his rage, and with an angry bellow he slashed wildly at Sernhil, who was just barely able to defend himself, until Boreelion finally landed a blow, slashing away the sword like appendage on his left.
Sernhil roared in pain, as the wood on his arm warped once more, contorting into the crude shape of a wicked axeblade so massive that Serhil had to drop his shield to support the bulk of his own arm, Swinging the axe to and fro, crashing through ruined buildings and columns, as they fought through the city. Serhil came down with his mighty axe, and Boreelion seized the opportunity. He rolled between the giants legs, stabbing upwards into the thigh of the creature, who was brought to one knee. Now! He climbed into the giants branches, hacking them off as he did so, narrowly avoiding his swipes. The axe came around once and, nearly missing him, wrenched the sword from his hand, and he climbed faster into the top untill, right on the top, there was an opening just big enough to slip into. He jumped in. As soon as he did so, it seemed Sernhil was running in one direction, keeping steady pace. Boreelion reached into his pocket, and found what he was looking for: a small bottle of lantern oil, which unstoppered and poured all over the floor of the inside of this whole.
“No!” said Sernhil. “If I go up in flames, Boreelion, so will you! Damn you, cursed elf! We’ll both die!” and then he seemed to laugh, as he slowed down. Boreelion fumbled with his flint, and tried to make a spark. “Fool!” said Sernhil. “You cannot live if you do this! I will die a hero, and you a coward. Is that what you want? Coward! Come out and fight, coward!”
“Sernhil!” said Boreelion. “For three days you have pursued me! Now, may you finally see your error in chosing this path! You are the fool! Now burn a fool!” and with one spark the oil at the bottom of the crevice burst to light, and he jumped free of the giant, running off of Sernhil and bounding safely away... To his horror, however, this put him over a large cliff, possibly two hundred feet straight down to the rocky coast below. Time seemed to slow, and in this second he caught a glimpse of Sernhil, the fire now just beginning to truly burn him, as flames leapt from his remaining branches, and his eyes, as he roared in some sick combination of triumph and agony. He could see the village beyond him, all ruined rubble. So this is where you ran, Sernhil? To the ocean? You picked a fine cliff. Thought Boreelion, as time began to catch up again. He flailed through the air, as the ground rushed to meet him.
He landed on his back, his blood pooling under him in a great golden spot, slowly being lapped away by the gentle waves. He gazed above at the top of the cliff, as Sernhil himself made to leap from the cliff. There he lay, his body broken, his arm mangled under him, his head splite wide so that his brain jutted from his skull. His vision went in spots of black and white, and color, and, in his last moment, he lamented. His last broken sight was of Sernhil, as he fell towards him, ablaze and already doomed. The last thing he heard was his voice:
“No, Boreelion. You will die a fool!”
And then all was silent and dark. Forever.

This piece was originally written by Draven, who then sent it to me for some polishing. He asked me to put it up for him. Any complements regarding the story go to him, not me.

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56 Reviews

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Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:09 pm
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methrirr123 says...

Not everything written can be brilliant. Keep this in mind, reviewers xD

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Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:22 pm
Cadi wrote a review...

Hey methrirr!

Okay, before I start, couple of disclaimers. One: there's potential for confusion in the fact that you've posted it on behalf of (I assume) another YWSer. I'm going to review as though I'm talking to the person who wrote it, rather than trying to keep on distinguishing between poster and editor and writer - you guys can work out between you which bits apply to each of you! Two: I haven't read the reviews below, so I apologise in advance if I cover anything you've been told before!

Now that's out of the way, on with the actual review!

First thoughts... there are some interesting ideas here - I don't know if I've read anything about a tree warrior before (unless you count the Ents in The Lord of the Rings, but they aren't really warriors...), so this is a new thing, and new things are always nice. That said, though, I'm finding myself a little confused in places, so I'm going to go through a few ways in which you could improve this.

Thing number one relates to the content of this piece - specifically, the ruined village. Boreelion, I gather, at some point burned this village, and that is why it is a ruin now. My question is: why? I don't think you answer this at all, and it feels like quite a key point, so something on his motivations for doing so would be good! This would also tie in with his guilt - if he destroyed the village willingly, something big must have happened since then to make him feel guilty now; alternatively, if he didn't really want to do it and has felt guilty from the start, what made him destroy the village in the first place? Questions like this are important for the believability of your plot, and also fun to play around with when getting to know your characters!

Next, a couple of points regarding technical aspects. For one, I'd like to talk about sentence length. This piece seems to be largely constructed of long sentences, with lots of commas and subclauses and so on. There's nothing wrong with long sentences themselves, but when there are a lot of them, it gets a bit exhausting for your reader. Try to mix it up a bit - maybe use short snappy ones for moments of fast-paced action, and some mid-length ones here and there.

Similarly, a few of your paragraphs feel like they could use breaking up. The general advice I give on paragraphs is: start a new one when you change time, place or focus, no matter how little by. (By 'focus' I mean the person or object you're talking about, or the action you're describing occuring.) So, in your first paragraph, you have Boreelion running out of the forest, and then you 'cut' to "as he neared [the hill]" - this is a small jump in time, from the time he's running towards the hill, to the time he's almost at it, so I would recommend a new paragraph.

(A side note about your first paragraph - you slip into present tense for a little bit. Remember to be careful about staying in one tense and not hopping between them!)

I think that's all I really have to say - I hope it was in some way helpful. If you do redraft this piece, get in touch and I'll happily have another look at it! Also, feel free to message me if you've got questions, if you'd like me to expand on anything I've said, if you'd like me to pick out spelling and grammar errors in this, or if you'd just like to chat! Otherwise, happy writing to the both of you, and I'll see you around.

Cadi x

methrirr123 says...

BLAAAARGH TENSE SHIFTING xD I made a concious effort to not do that, since it was originally written in present tense.

Cadi says...

I know, it's a massive pain, right? xD
Whenever I try writing something in present, I'm back to past by paragraph three :P

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Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:22 pm
Caesar wrote a review...

Hey there methrirr!

I can sort of see why Draven would have you post this, instead of himself, even with your 'polishing'. This still isn't a particularly great work. There are some good bits, and I shall point those out, but overall, it still needs a good deal of editing.

Now, I shall disregard the events narrated in this short story, because I myself have written a similar one (and intend to write more). It wouldn't have fit into a novel as it is now, because really, there isn't a lot to say. Two characters fight, they both die. The end. And with that...?

This short is titled 'the guilt of Boreelion'. I was expecting a good old introspective, psychological tale of remorse and guilt, as oh-so-subtly hinted at by the aforesaid title. And yet, there wasn't that much guilt to read. This was a focus-zero, epic-style action-adventure tale with a downer ending. I would have thought you would be giving us some glimpses at what the elf actually, truly, deeply thinks. However, this short is too fast-paced. Boreelion doesn't materially have any time to think, because he's being pursued by an ent/saproling/oakenform. Why is Sernhil pursuing him? Why him, of all? Has he been personally wounded in some way? From his speech, he seems to be a kind of justice seeker. It wouldn't really explain things, which isn't satisfying.

There is also, speaking of things that lack, a definite lack of description, which is something that pops up frequently in your works, from what I've seen, at least. You may want to work on that. More importantly however, you may also want to slow things down, give Boreelion time to hide maybe, reflect on what he's done. Hell, even a meeting with a family member that he had wronged in the past, maybe a little girl or a wise woman would do. You do have a taste for the cliche (which is fine if done properly).

And speaking of things that don't satisfy, that ending. That 'forever' is redundant and borderline incorrect, I think, but it's also rather flat and dull. Dull is a good word to describe this piece. Work on that, maybe.

Those were my general opinions. Lacks description, lacks emotion, doesn't really deliver very well.

However, there are also parts where I could nit-pick.

He burst from a wall of brush, the wall of a great forest, feet pounding and breath heaving with fatigue, running for his life. His feet meet the ground, trampling and tangling in the waving green grass of a vast field overlooking a hill, atop which is a large, gnarled oak tree.

A weak introduction to go with a weak ending. When writing action scenes, consider briefer periods. Makes things much more immediate. As it is now, when I read this, I focus far too much on Boreelion's feet and not the general, desperate, frenetic action. Also, you should either choose brush or forest, the two together end up bogging both down, not to mention brush and great forests are two entire different things. You paint or operate machinery with one, get lost in another.

He remembered the arrows ablaze, flying like red stars that glowed with the flames of death as they showered the night with their destructive malice.

That there is the only thing I liked. You seem to, in your writing, create a single, decent spark, and the rest is just ehhh.

And the sky was bright again, as he awakened from his waking nightmare by a loud THUMP.

As I've mentioned, caps do not make onomatopoeia more imposing or louder.

“Sernhil!” said Boreelion.

You use said a lot. Try hitting up some synonyms.

Overall, this needs work.

Hope this helped

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Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:50 pm
StoneHeart wrote a review...

Okay. Why didn't he post it???

Anyway, the idea of this story, I'm sorry to say, sucks.

I'll summarize.
There's a murderous elf (Who appears to be becoming the hero) being chased by a vengeful Ent type guy. They fight, then they both go over a cliff and die . . .

The drop off at the end was miserable, you can't have your character, go silent and dark forever like that.

It doesn't work.

Anyway, the idea has potential.
It seems relatively original and interesting, though your style and P.O.V is a bit messy.

Really, it may have problems, but it doesn't mean it can't be great with a bit of work.
I'm also really hoping there's more to this.
It needs it.

You could use to explain things a bit more as well.

Also, I get the feeling while reading this that this is like a chapter in the middle of a book or a dream someone is having.

It just doesn't feel like it's going to go anywhere.

For some reason the stories on here give me the feeling that they're all so formal . . .
Maybe it's the setting?

It's weird.

But good work, good editing too.

methrirr123 says...

I was given as much insight to it as you were. If it were me, I would have written a novel. I also found it ironic how, as I read your comments, it is only criticism, but yet you still felt the need to "like" the piece itself. You seem to be a picky fellow, so I encourage you to read some of my stuff.

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.
— Aristotle