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The Fallen King: Chapter Eight

by MaybeAndrew


The Fallen King

After his father's death and a siedge of Darkness, Liam has decided to accept his grandfather's training in the old tongue

Chapter Eight

Shopping Day

(Art by Dall-e 2)

This is an earlier version of this chapter. If you'd like to read the new and much better version, it is here: https://www.youngwriterssociety.com/work/MaybeAnd...

Liam stepped into the dark shed and shivered.

He had expected to begin studying, to be given books of knowledge about this mysterious, ancient, and powerful language. But no, he was given a shopping list.

Grandpa wasn’t wrong, though. The lighthouse was on the verge of running out of food, and there was not a single clean cooking implement. They needed to clean and shop if they wanted to live, let alone study.

Liam smiled as he pulled the wheelbarrow out of the shed. Even Matt had sided with Grandpa when he discovered the sheets in the guest room were recycled, dirty sheets from Liam’s room.

So, this morning, three days after his Grandpa’s awakened to sanity, Liam would be shopping.

After the siege, Liam had brought half of the watch to the lighthouse with torches to be lit. The guards had all just watched in stunned silence as the man they knew as senile chewed Liam out for not inheriting his father’s tidiness or organization and letting the lighthouse fall into such a state.

Grandpa had calmed down a bit once Liam had been able to explain to him that he would be accepting his apprenticeship. He quickly added that he would be glad to start helping him clean up the lighthouse and buy more supplies.

From there, Liam and the watch had been able to get the torches and take a letter from Grandpa to the other Keepers. Apparently, the letter explained his return, the coming shadow, and Liam’s apprenticeship. At least that’s what Liam understood. He never read the letter.

Liam closed the shed doors and locked the latch, trying to touch the cold metal as short of a time as possible.

Outside was frigid, but the sun was shining through the large gray clouds. The grass was crunchy under his feet from the frost, and the trees sparked slightly with little drops of ice. The sun had barely risen, and the night chill still hung like piercing daggers. But he didn’t have time to think about the cold. He had a long day ahead of him. He had to shop, have a meeting with the other Keepers, and then somehow bring a cart full of supplies up the mountain. But before he could do any of that, he’d have to bring a torch to the graveyard.

Out of the four deceased men, three had died in Darkness, so they would need torches at sunrise for the next month.

Their funerals had been so much like Father’s.

A funeral for one who died in Darkness was not merely a moment to mourn. It was a process. The body was taken and placed on the funeral stone. From there, the Keeper of the Well washed it in Lastrios, then wrapped it in silk. Next, the Keeper of the Walls placed a band of silver on its head. After that, the body would be surrounded by dry wood. That was where Liam’s part came in. He would have to light the pyre with a torch of Astrum and recite the proper words in the King’s Speech.

It had been hard enough to officiate Father’s funeral, but it would not be the last. No, he would have to keep lighting that fire at every funeral while he remained a Keeper. He knew, though, that every time he lit the pyre with the torch of Astrum, he’d think about the first time he had to do it. When it had been his father in those flames.

Father, who had taught him the words to say, what the ceremony meant, and how to hold the torch.

But none of that mattered in the end. He’d been consumed in the very fire he served.

Liam stopped and pulled the Lownire blade off his belt. It glistened in the morning sun, seeming to almost glow. Remembering what he had promised Sitric, Liam had found it this morning. It had been exactly where he had left it, sitting unused on the mantel. He took the white blade and sheathed it on his belt, next to the bottle of lantern oil. Maybe it could protect him if another creature came, but it wasn’t his knife. He knew that. It was his father’s.

Father had been on the watch before falling in love with Mom. Being the firstborn son of the Keeper of the Walls, he’d probably been Squire Captain. During that time, he’d trained to be an expert fighter. Thomas, Keeper of the Light, had used this dagger like it was an extension of his body, cutting through men’s armor and creature’s hide alike. But the only thing Liam knew how to cut with it was an apple. Liam hadn’t inherited it - he was just borrowing it from a dead man. A dead man who would never again have the opportunity to teach him how to use it.

Liam returned the dagger to his belt and shoved his hands deep into his pockets.

The wind that always howled off the ocean was especially cold that day, making Liam squint his face away from the sea. But there was a smell of warmer wind churning in the cold. Spring was coming soon, and Liam could feel it.

Normally, Liam would have just taken a large bag for shopping, but since he had pushed that off for weeks, he wouldn’t nearly have been able to fit everything he needed in a bag. So, he was taking the wheelbarrow.

He started down the path, pushing the wheelbarrow over roots and down stone steps. Luckily, all the puddles had frozen that night, so there wasn’t much mud to deal with. But that also meant there were slippery rocks.

Liam’s father had been a practical man, so he had added an attachment to the front of the wheelbarrow where a torch could be placed. That way, Liam could use both his hands and not have to worry about being torchless.

Dad would never teach him to use the dagger, nor would he ever make anything like the wheelbarrow again. He’d never build a little thing to make life easier like he always had. Uncle Sitric was a strong, determined man, devoted to his job, but uncle Sitirc didn’t like to try new things. He wasn’t as thoughtful as Dad.

***

Liam dropped the wheelbarrow off at the village, lit the graves, and then returned to Lownire to shop. 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. Yes, it was cold, but Market Street was as full of life as a spring garden. Every window, door, and heart were open and letting people in and out like bumblebees on flowers.

Many of the shops were like little dollhouses that were now folded open. That way, it was like the entire street became one big shop. 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, one wouldn’t have to leave the street to see everything the market offered.

Liam was surprised by how cheered he was to walk among the people and the merchandise. It just felt like, despite the past couple of days’ problems, it showed that people were still living. There was food, from corn to caramel, pieces of clothing, from workman’s boots to women’s hats, and carpentry, from tools to toys.

After the day of the siege, the people were glad to be out in the sun, even if it was bitterly cold. Children ran up from the west gate and down to the Keep, doing errands or playing. 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 street’s shops. There were old nicknacks, jewelry, lucky bells, instruments, and books. Old men, off-duty guards, and sailors sat around on stools, eating and drinking.

The village was always like that after a siege. Like it 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 never make eye contact when they did, but this sometimes proved difficult.

The first place he stopped was the bakery. Leaving the cart outside, he climbed up the stone steps and entered the shop, pushing the windowed door open with a ding. The bakery was one of the few buildings in town which had a full front window made of glass instead of just opening up. Glassworks was an art leftover from the kingdom and only known by a few.

Inside was warm and smelled like baking bread, 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.

She was kind and chatted to him as he ordered. She talked to him about the kind members of the watch (which Liam assumed was Fisk) who had helped clean up the chimney that had blown through their roof during the storm.

When he tried to pay, she didn’t accept, saying the service he had rendered to the town and certain watch members made payment unnecessary. He tried to argue that he barely did anything, but she wouldn’t take it. He soon had to leave the shop 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 saving Matt. When Liam’s father had 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.

At the open-fronted shops, he bought his eggs, onions, potatoes, a barrel of flour, and various fishes.

Soon, his cart was so full the prospect of getting it back to the lighthouse was daunting. Luckily, Grandpa had foreseen this possibility and instructed him to order a member of the watch (Liam hadn’t realized that was within his power) to help transport the wheelbarrow back to the lighthouse. It was smart, really, the guards were the only people allowed outside the walls in winter, and they should be strong enough to help lift the wheelbarrow when needed. The only problem was he didn’t like the idea of ordering a Watch member around and forcing them to walk back from the lighthouse alone.

Well, he didn’t like the concept for most of the watch, but there was one member he thought could work. 

*

*

Questions:

1. How are the descriptions in this chapter?

2. What do you feel these new insights into how Liam sees his father change about Liam and his views toward duty?

3. Do you think this (or any future sections of this chapter) should be streamlined or cut down?

Part two of chapter eight: https://www.youngwriterssociety.com/work/MaybeAnd...


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Wed Jul 20, 2022 8:13 am
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi MaybeAndrew,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

Back to reviewing after a long time, so I'll start right away by answering the questions you asked here.

1. How are the descriptions in this chapter?

I like the descriptions very much. They are not overwhelming or take too much out of the story, but are appropriate and well ordered. You also alternate the style a bit so it doesn't get too monotonous, which I definitely like and you should keep. Here, for example, I have two excerpts:

Outside was frigid, but the sun was shining through the large gray clouds. The grass was crunchy under his feet from the frost, and the trees sparked slightly with little drops of ice. The sun had barely risen, and the night chill still hung like piercing daggers.


In the first one, you can see very well how you try to combine two things, which immediately creates a poetic expression. It gives the reader the opportunity to rest a little and enjoy the moment, which has also succeeded and is the purpose of this description.

A funeral for one who died in Darkness was not merely a moment to mourn. It was a process. The body was taken and placed on the funeral stone. From there, the Keeper of the Well washed it in Lastrios, then wrapped it in silk.


In this description, on the other hand, you make it feel as if something is wrong and try to lift a tension, in this case by using the short sentences and starting with a more neutral voice to better match the tone.

This alternates well in the story and I think it's fitting how you create an entertaining beginning to the chapter. In some places you could try to build it up a bit, because it's obvious you start wonderfully but it ends so abruptly, but for the most part I think it's very solid what you've built. :D

2. What do you feel these new insights into how Liam sees his father change about Liam and his views toward duty?

I'm not quite inside Liam's head at the moment to follow everything, but I can already see that a change has been created for Liam and I like the reflection you give here in the chapter. You link it to the "outside world" in a good tone which makes the transitions good because it seems similar to how a reader now remembers something when they see something specific. From a psychological point of view, this is a good representation of a change in perception.

3. Do you think this (or any future sections of this chapter) should be streamlined or cut down?

No, absolutely not. I am convinced (and this is just my opinion) that it is precisely such quiet moments that are important to allow the reader these minutes to really immerse themselves in a story. Nowadays I have the impression that this doesn't happen so often anymore, to insert such moments, because everything has to go faster, but I believe that this is all the more important to direct emotions and thoughts towards giving a sympathy for the character (in this case Liam). So feel free to keep writing like this!

Have fun writing!

Mailice




MaybeAndrew says...


Thank you so much for the review! I'm glad you like these quieter moments! I was unsure about them.



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Sat Jun 04, 2022 2:16 am
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Horisun wrote a review...



Hello and good evening! I hope you are having a fantastic night!
First off, I'm glad that you asked how the descriptions were in this chapter, because I was already ready to compliment them anyway. (Honestly, I have a bad habit of formatting my reviews in my head as I'm reading different works, and as I was going through this, I kept thinking, "Oh, I'm going to call this line out as being particularly good! No, wait, this one! Or, no, this one!") I think my favorite descriptor though was your comparison to the dollhouse, in regard to the marketplace. As the previous reviewer stated, you really drew me into your environment, and I felt as though I were walking right beside your character.
I do wish you described the main character a tad more. I don't usually care about characters appearances, preferring to fill the blanks on my own, but it's definitely important for the majority of the readers. Furthermore, I have found it's best to get it out of the way early in the story, so that your description doesn't disrupt a readers later visualization.
To be honest, the way you simply wrote this chapter was excellent. It was clear, it was concise, and just super well polished. So bravo on that.
I think this could've benefitted from a tad bit of dialogue though. Especially in the scene with Rebecka, I felt there was a lot of exposition in regard to her connection with another Watch member, as well as exposition about how the village views Liam. A short and sweet conversation there is what this chapter needs.
For your third and final question; in this particular chapter, the answer is no. I have yet to read the others, but the worldbuilding in this one really set it apart for me. I'm really, truly intrigued to see where this goes from here, now that you've set the stage. I do hope the next chapter picks up the pace a tad, but as is, I think the tone is pretty much perfect here.
Beyond that, fantastic job. Unfortunately, I don't have time tonight to read the next chapter, but I promise you, I will get to it as soon as possible! Keep on writing, and have an excellent day! :D




MaybeAndrew says...


Thank you so much for your review. You are the second person who said I should add some dialogue in for Rebecca, so I guess I'll go ahead and do that XD.



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Fri Jun 03, 2022 6:50 am
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VengefulReaper wrote a review...



Hey, just here to leave a quick review! I guess I am a few days late because well... Life *heavy sigh*. Anyway, let's get to the chapter.

Most of what I wanted to say was in line with your questions so I'll just answer those as best I can.

1. How are the descriptions in the chapter? Superb. Very rarely do I feel engaged by a slower-paced, descriptive chapter like this one, but the environment you created was incredibly immersive. This was especially apparent in the descriptions of the market.

2. What do you feel these new insights into how Liam sees his father change Liam and his views toward duty? What I've gotten from Liam throughout this novel is that he's a character who values duty, even though he may not want it. His primary drive to be a keeper stemmed from a sense of duty to honor Arwen and his father's legacy. Additionally, he's driven to remain one by the duty he has to his friends and the citizens he protects.

I think Liam's thoughts on his father's blade aptly capture how undeserving he believes he is to be a keeper. This is compounded by the abundance of gifts, food, and respect he receives from the citizens who treat him like a saint. He doesn't believe he should be respected to the degree he is. This can really fuel his initiative to live up to the keeper THEY think he is.

Above all this, he has huge shoes to fill and a massive responsibility on his back. I think the aspect that really shines through Liam is his sense of duty and his drive to fulfill it despite not liking it. Doing something you love is easy, doing something you hate is hard and doing it for others is his most admirable trait.

3. Do you think this (or any future sections of this chapter) should be streamlined or cut down?
No, not really. In fact, I'd love to see this passage be turned into some dialogue:

She was kind and chatted to him as he ordered. She talked to him about the kind members of the watch (which Liam assumed was Fisk) who had helped clean up the chimney that had blown through their roof during the storm.

When he tried to pay, she didn’t accept, saying the service he had rendered to the town and certain watch members made payment unnecessary. He tried to argue that he barely did anything, but she wouldn’t take it. He soon had to leave the shop with his bread unpaid for.

Right here, you've really given a summary of a conversation. I think if you expanded this into dialogue, it would be really interesting for a few reasons:
1) We get a taste of Rebecka's personality.
2) You tell us that Liam is being treated with enormous respect. This should also translate into how he's addressed by the common folk. We know how his friends talk to him, but how do the average citizens (like Rebecka) talk to him?
3) This conversation will sort of function as a template for some other insignificant ones. Later on in your novel, if Liam ever speaks to anyone random, you can say something like "He spoke with him about ___" and we'd just assume their tone or manners towards a keeper would be similar to Rebecka's here.

As a final point, the addition of the funeral was a really neat touch. It seems keepers are involved in a lot more rituals than I initially thought.

As always, take what you find useful and discard the rest. Keep well and keep writing!
The Reaper sends his regards.




MaybeAndrew says...


Thank you so much for your review!




It's easier to come up with new stories than it is to finish the ones you already have. I think every author would feel that way.
— Stephanie Meyer