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The Fallen King: Chapter Eight, pt 2

by MaybeAndrew

Part one of chapter eight: https://www.youngwriterssociety.com/work.php?id=1...

The Fallen King

After his father's death, Liam inherits the title of Keepership to help lead the small village of Lownire. Feeling trapped, 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 he 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 part one, Grandpa explains some of the Old Tongue over breakfasts

Matt leaned back and eyed Grandpa with a sparkle in his eye. “So the rumors were true about you, old man,” he said. Liam knew the rumors too. People had always said things about Grandpa. He was different. He knew things you weren’t supposed to know.

“Some of them,” Grandpa grumbled. “I didn’t commune with the dead nearly as often as they said.”

Matt shrugged. “At the very least, the stories Arwen and I used to tell each other had more truth in them than I supposed.”

Liam sometimes forgot that the stories were Matt’s as well as Arwen’s. They had built their friendship on swapping stories. It had been Matt’s plan to be a storyteller and entertainer for his trade, apprenticing under the old lute player. But when Arwen had left, the stories had left with her, and Matt had become an apprentice to a member of the watch instead.

“Grandpa, if it was so important that you have an apprentice to replace you and stop the shadow, why didn’t you train one before?” Liam asked.

Grandpa sighed and looked past Liam, his eyes becoming unfocused and distant. “I did, I trained your mother and uncle, and they both would have made fine replacements. Your mother, especially, was extremely talented. She could even get things to listen to her commands without using the Old Tongue. I once saw her shout at a loaf of bread so hard it unburned. Your uncle was quite talented as well. He was always amazing at awakening things. He could have made trees pull up their roots and go to war if he’d wished,” Grandpa shook his head sadly. “They were my hope, originally. They were all of our hopes. But your uncle left, seeking new lands and new knowledge, and your mother died at your birth. So, I waited for Arwen to grow up. I was getting old already, but I thought maybe if I trained Arwen, she could train you when you grew up. I started to teach her, but then she was chosen as an offering. With my daughter, son, and Granddaughter gone, I had no one to teach. You were too young, and I was too old to wait for you to grow up. Your father never could have learned the Old Tongue. He barely learned to listen to Astrum. So, I told him the words, with the hope that I wouldn’t die before it’s too late,” A tired look passed over Grandpa’s face like a cloud in front of the sun - but then it was gone like it had never been there, to begin with. “But we have chores to do, up up! Clean your plate!”

Liam, pushed by the old man, got to his feet. “What is the shadow?” Liam asked, walking over to the sink.

“So full of questions,” Grandpa said, smiling.

“He’s just trying to distract you from his chores,” Matt said.

“True, true,” Grandpa agreed. “I know little of what the shadow is. All I know is that it is a servant of Darkness and will have power that no previous servant has ever had.”

“Could it be whoever sent that storm?”

“The speaker who commanded that storm is powerful - the storm is ancient and strong. If it were them, that would be a danger, but I do not know why they would send a messenger instead of coming themselves.” He paused, noticing Liam’s slow rate of scrubbing on his plate. “But hurry up! There is much to do before sundown. We’re out of Lastrios, for goodness sake!”

Matt stopped mid-sip of his tea and looked down at it. “We are,” He asked, his voice burbling through the liquid. All water had to be purified with Lastrios, or it was Corrupted.

“Don’t worry, that’s clean. I was able to find some in a barrel tucked away in the laundry supplies. It was for cleaning his Keepers robes, but it appears it was never used. In fact, it appears none of the laundry supplies have ever been used. Have I been sleeping in unwashed sheets for the past four years?”

“Well - umm, no, see, I have been switching the sheets out with empty bedroom sheets,” Liam said. After his father had assigned him to the chore, he’d found that much easier than cleaning them.

“Wait,” Matt said, “including the guest room sheets?”

Liam smiled weakly, “Yup.”

“I was sleeping in the old man’s dirty sheets?” Matt shouted, horrified.

Grandpa glared at him.

“No offense,” Matt said.

Liam finished cleaning his plate, and Grandpa took it from Liam and replaced it with an envelope. “Give that to the Keepers when you go to the village. They’d like an explanation of how I’m back and what you’ll be doing.” Grandpa said, “And tell Sitric I won’t be doing any commands for him. I’m weak enough as is. I can’t waste my energy.”

“When will I start learning the Old Tongue?” Liam asked.

“After you learn the King’s Speech. Stop dallying. Go get the wheelbarrow!”

“The wheelbarrow?” Liam asked.

“Yes, you don’t think you can contain a month’s worth of supplies in a knapsack? If you had maybe shopped like you were supposed to and picked up supplies weekly, that would have worked, but not now that you’ve procrastinated, the wheelbarrow it is.”

“How am I supposed to get a wheelbarrow up the path?” Liam asked, horrified, thinking of himself struggling with an entire wheelbarrow full of supplies up the stone steps from the village.

“You’re a Keeper. Order a member of the watch to help you!” Grandpa said.

Matt laughed, obviously perfectly content to watch Liam get in trouble.

Liam glanced between his Grandfather and Matt. He had forgotten what it was like to get yelled at. What had he gotten himself into?

“Don’t look at me. I’m injured,” Matt said. “Ask Fisk or something.”


Liam, feeling extremely regretful of his accepted apprenticeship, got dressed, washed his face, made his bed, and got a fresh torch from the top room.

With all of that done, he climbed down the long spiral staircase all the way back to the now-empty kitchen.

Liam sighed, relieved. There was no sign of Grandpa. He could have a moment of peace.

He crept into the room, depositing the torch in a holder next to the door and himself in a chair next to the fire. He wasn’t excited to get out into the cold, windy day. It couldn’t hurt to get a little warmed up by the fire before leaving. He could be faster once he left to make up for it. He had walked that path countless times now, after all, and was growing a bit tired of it. Staring into the hearth crackling depths, he slumped down into his chair, his whole body seeming to sink into the warmth and the cushion. Sleeping had been nice. Maybe he could do it again? Just for a moment? He had barely recovered from a deadly siege. He deserved more rest.

Suddenly, a flicker caught his eyes. On the mantle, something had reflected the blue pure light of Astrum directly into his eye, like a mirror directed by an annoying child.

It was the Lownire blade, a tiny sliver of it unsheathed and glimmering silver.

Liam sat up, sleep entirely fading from his mind as Sitric’s words came back to him.

‘It should never leave your side. When you sleep, it should be sheathed next to you, and when you awake, the first thing you do is hitch it to your waist. If you are defenseless, the village is as well. If you die, so dies light. If light dies, so do countless innocent people in Lownire. It is your duty to carry that blade. For the safety of everyone within those walls. Do you understand that?’

That was where he had left it when he had gone down to the village. It hadn’t been moved since then. Grandpa had cleaned everything around it but not so much as touched the blade. Liam stood up slowly and studied it. The sheath was wood, carved with intricate knot-like designs. Wrapped around the sheath was the leather scabbard, which allowed the blade to be attached to a belt and carried at a Keeper’s side, available whenever they needed it. Both were beautiful, obviously made by expert craftsmen, but neither of them compared to the blade within.

Liam, tentatively, like it was some dangerous viper, picked up the dagger and unsheathed it, revealing the glistening blade so reflective it almost seemed to glow white. About as long as his forearm, it was wickedly sharp. The Keepers blade was not like other weapons; it punctured metal like parchment and cleaved corrupted hide like cobwebs. It had never needed sharpening, been chipped, bent, or even dirtied. It was the greatest gift the Old One had ever given Lownire. The greatest defense the small village had.

The greatest defense the small village has, if it’s in the hands of someone who knows how to use it,’ Liam thought.

He had seen his father use the blade like an extension of his body like he was dancing and the blade was his partner. It had been an art to Thomas. Some said he was the greatest warrior Lownire had ever known. He was the firstborn son and apprentice to the Keeper of the Walls and had prepared to take up that position when his father died. He’d trained like no other soldier, becoming an expert fighter, prepared to wield a Lownire blade in defense of the city walls. Yet, he’d fallen in love with the Keeper of the Light, Rohiesa, and in marrying her, gave up his chance to ever be Keeper of the Walls, instead becoming one of the lighthouse keepers. Keeper of the Light was the only Keepership that could be passed merely through marriage, a tradition that was used when Rohiesa died in childbirth. Liam’s birth had ensured his father would hold that blade like he had trained.

Thomas, Keeper of the Light, had used this dagger like not even Sitric could, cutting through Austermen’s armor and creature’s hide alike.

Liam sheathed it quickly. 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.

He attached the scabbard to his side, knowing that even though Sitric would be glad to see it there, Sitric would know the same thing Liam did. He would never be his father.

Liam took his torch and moved towards the door, the thought of rest entirely gone. Grandpa was right. The sun was fading, and to make his way back to the lighthouse at dusk could spell death.

He unlocked the large wooden door and stepped outside, squinting against the light and ocean gusts. The sky was entirely clear, an open stadium for the sun and the cold wind to blaze and buffet. The whistling air bit Liam’s nose and fingers, and the sun made his eyes water. He scanned the trees, making sure there were no stallions, hounds, or figures.

The sunlight meant it was unlikely Darkness would be out in the open, but it did not guarantee it. Dad had died on a day like today. Seeing nothing on the cliffs or in the forest, Liam closed the door behind him. In a corrupted land, no matter who you were or what you did, you were never fully safe. Liam walked around the lighthouse to the small shed leaning against the ocean gale.

The grass was crunchy under his feet from the frost, and the trees sparked slightly with little drops of ice. It had been a cold night. Liam tried not to touch the metal handles of the shed for too long, pushing the doors open quickly. Stepping over chopped wood and piles of rope, he found the wheelbarrow in the back corner of the small building. Used to move firewood from the forest to the shed, Dad had built the wheelbarrow. Conveniently, he had added a spot at its front to put a torch of Astrum, so it could be pushed with both two hands while still having the Light of Astrum. Dad was practical like that.

Liam pulled it out and 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.

He brought the wheelbarrow down to the North Gate. There he left it, taking the torch out and making his way up the paths toward the graveyard.

Despite the cold and the memories of Darkness, he found himself stopping and looking at the forest. As it was winter, the brush and trees were mostly leafless, and with the bright sun, he could see deeper into the wood than most days. It was a place he’d always been so close to but never visited. Father had banned him from ever entering the forest. It was understandable. Under the shade of trees and in the maze-like windings of the wilderness, one could easily become lost and fall prey to Darkness.

Yet, Liam didn’t feel the forest was dark itself. The birds that even now flew and sang among its branches did not seem like the corrupted creatures he’d encountered before, and the spring that was coming soon felt the opposite to the death of the Dark Wood.

Since his father had died, Liam had walked to the graveyard or Lownire many times and seen this forest, yet Liam had never entered those woods, never left these permitted paths.

He grew tired of these paths he had walked, not because they were too long, but not long enough. He did not tire of going far, but not going far enough.

He arrived in the graveyard with its tombs and white headstones. He thought he had left it for the last time only three days ago. This, too, would not be the last time. There would be no last time as long as he stayed a Keeper. Darkness would keep claiming its tribute from Lownire, and Liam would either have to keep being the tax collector or be collected himself.

Liam found the four separate family tombs and lit each of the bowls. This was the last step in the long and complicated funeral process for someone who had died in Darkness. First, they would take the corrupted body and place it on the funeral stone at the center of town. There, the Keeper of the Well would wash it in holy Lastrios and wrap it in silk. Then the Keeper of the Walls would place a silver band on the head of the deceased. The body would then be surrounded by bundles of wood, and then the Keeper of the Light would step forward, place a torch of Astrum in the pyre and speak words in the King’s Speech. After the body was consumed in the flames, the ashes would be placed in a copper urn and brought to the graveyard. Then, the act of bringing a torch to the body, like had been done on the pyre, would be repeated twenty-eight more times by the Keeper of the Light, Liam coming every morning to ensure the body and soul were safe from corruption.

This process was one that Liam suspected would become second nature to him. Yet, he’d never forget who had been in the flames the first time he’d acted it out. Father - who was loyal to a fault and had acted out each ceremony with honor - who had taught him the words to say, what the ceremony meant, how to hold the torch, and how to light the pyre.

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



1. What do you think about Liam's feelings regarding the dagger? What does it communicate about his feelings towards Keepership to you?

2. How is the contrast between the beginning of the sections, its silliness, and the end, its seriousness?

3. What do you think of the transitions in this section? Do the scenes flow smoothly together?

Part three: https://www.youngwriterssociety.com/work.php?id=1...

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138 Reviews

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Reviews: 138

Fri Jul 07, 2023 10:01 pm
KaiaJersaga wrote a review...

I just jumped in at this part to give this piece a review. :) I like how you really built up an aura of sadness in the beginning. Obviously, Liam has lost a lot of family members. Given the context, I'm even going to go as far as to say that they possibly were sacrificed? This is rather odd to me. At first, I thought I was reading something realistic, but later I realized (particularly at this part

She could even get things to listen to her commands without using the Old Tongue. I once saw her shout at a loaf of bread so hard it unburned.
(favorite little piece there. It was so pictureable) that there are elements of fantasy cleverly woven into this piece. It's something that reminds me of the Lord of the Rings.

I also want to comment on how you realistically built up this world. Even though I just jumped in, I had no problem believing the characters. Because of this, I also was led into believing the setting and unusual elements written about. Nicely done. I'm not sure I would have been able to make such a believable storyline in such a short time. Your world here is very realistic. :)

Typically I'm known to be the Grammer nitpicker, but I can't find errors there, either, so nicely done!

Okay, as for characters...I really like how you developed Liam. Obviously, he misses his dad and feels a bit out of place. I'm not sure what is meant by all the titles, but that scene when he's reminded of the first person he did the burial ceremony for was really touching. I realized at that point how much he misses his father.

I was a little confused about the dagger, but I thought that was a nice touch. I feel like Liam doesn't really know what to do with it. He knows about it's significance but he doesn't know how to really use it. That, and he wants to learn these languages...He seems lonely and sort of lost in this world. Quote touching indeed.

I felt like the contrast between the silliness and seriousness was good, but I felt like the middle was a little too drawn out. I suggest cutting some of the description where Liam is going to the graveyard. A lot of the scenery description seemed repetitive and unnecessarily slowed the pacing in my opinion. (Just a suggestion, though) Also, some of the explanations I felt were a little lengthy...

Aside from that, though, I thought this was nicely written. The parts flowed smoothly and the characters were well developed. Sorry this review was a bit everywhere. I hope you can still get something out of it. XD

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Mon Jun 12, 2023 2:50 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...

Hello hello I am back for part two before I lose steam! I'm going to get through as much of this chapter as I can before I'm done for the day so let's get right into the review!

I really like that we've had some more talk about Arwen but in a 'real' context rather than just in Liam's flashbacks. It makes her seem like she actually existed and whilst I'm sure Liam remembers her differently to perhaps how Matt does as her friend, it's good that he's able to talk about her relatively openly.

“Grandpa, if it was so important that you have an apprentice to replace you and stop the shadow, why didn’t you train one before?” Liam asked.

Honestly this seems like a bit of a silly question with an obvious answer. I think the reader can probably work this part out, so it could come up more naturally perhaps, without it being an obvious question?

1. Regarding the dagger, it kind of feels like an attitude I would have expected him to have before accepting the apprentice position. Perhaps because we missed the part where he told his grandpa he was in, but in my head he accepted everything that comes with the job so why not the dagger? This attitude makes sense if he's still unsure, but I still think we need to see the interaction with grandpa to really understand that.

2. I think the contrast was quite gentle, so I wouldn't worry too much about it! Conversations have ebbs and flows, so this felt natural.

3. I think they flowed naturally, but some of the scenes felt a bit long and it didn't seem like everything was actually furthering the plot so I think you could trim some bits here in editing.

Looking forward to seeing who Liam commands to help with his shopping xD they could really use a delivery service!


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MaybeAndrew says...

Hey icy, thanks for the review
Regarding the dagger, it kind of feels like an attitude I would have expected him to have before accepting the apprentice position. Perhaps because we missed the part where he told his grandpa he was in, but in my head he accepted everything that comes with the job so why not the dagger?

I thought I made clear in chapter seven that he was accepting the apprenticeship very reluctantly, and that what this chapter is exploring - yes he accepted the role, but he feels trapped by it
Obviously, that needs some editing to be understood. Thanks for the feedback!

The poetry of the earth is never dead.
— John Keats