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The Fallen King: Chapter Four, Pt 3

by MaybeAndrew


Chapter Four part two: https://www.youngwriterssociety.com/work/MaybeAnd...

The Fallen King

Liam returns to the lighthouse with a storm brewing. The storm begins to put out the lights of the village, and fearing the oncoming Darkness, Liam speaks the magic words his father had taught him before his death. Grandfather awakens and tells him of the old tongue.

Grandpa paused, stunned again. “Leave?”

“I can give the authority back to you. You stopped being the Keeper because you snapped or slumbered or whatever, but now it’s over, so you can be the Keeper, and I can leave. I don’t have to be trapped here anymore!” Liam said, finishing pulling on the cloak. Free! Finally!

“Liam, I am aged and near death. I cannot simply retake my old position,” Grandpa argued, beginning to sound frustrated.

“That’s no problem,” Liam began, giddy, “They’re always telling me to get an apprentice, but I don’t know who to pick. You would. There are plenty of others in the village who’d be honored to become the next Keeper of the Light.”

“Oh,” Grandpa said, a tired pain passing through his face. “I understand. You don’t want to be the Keeper anymore.”

“No! I don’t. I never did. I’m terrible at it, as you’ve seen.” Liam said, gesturing vaguely around. “So, I’ll go down to the village and relight the torches, then I’ll get Sitric and Hugh, and we’ll give the Authority back to you.”

“Liam, my apprentice, would have to learn to be more than just a Keeper.”

“Sounds good!” Liam said, barely listening. He could already smell the harbor. Freedom! He walked to the table, looking it over for a scrap of parchment he kept his notes of the ritual on. “Hugh and Sitric could help you pick the best candidate.”

“Liam, I already was planning on picking an apprentice now that I’m back. I’ll have to. I already know who I’d choose.”

“Great! I can get them down in the village so you can swear them in as an apprentice right after you get the authority,” Liam said. This was all working out perfectly! He found the piece of parchment and turned to look at this Grandpa, beaming.

“No, Liam, my apprentice wouldn’t be down in the village,” Grandpa said, meeting his eyes. “It would be you.”

The smile slipped off Liam’s face, and his excitement, which had been bubbling in his chest, tumbled into a bucket of ice in his gut. “Me?” Liam asked, the word heavy like he was admitting to some crime punishable by execution.

Grandpa nodded.

Liam laughed, trying to shake the feeling. “No, not me. I have already tried being a Keeper, but it didn’t suit me.”

“You do not understand,” Grandpa said quietly. “I put my mind to sleep for a reason. I was waiting for something. I did not become innate for my own pleasure. It was so I could be ready when it came.” Grandpa turned and looked into the hearth. “The servant of The Beast.”

The name sent a shiver through the lighthouse, the fire flickered and darkened as if a cold wind had blown over it, and the shadows on the walls lengthened and crept out of the corners like they had been emboldened. The room became cold, and Liam felt a shiver down his spine, like he was being watched.

Liam had heard people use the title of the King of Shadow, which dwelled in the Dark Forest, and it always felt horrid, but never had it been spoken with such black gravity.

Grandpa didn’t seem to notice the effect the name had; instead, he stared into the fire. Half of his face was lit by its dancing red light, the other in the darkness. “Something is coming, Liam, something terrible. It will allow Darkness to finally reign unhindered in Lownire. It will let that horrid king inside our walls. It will even put out the light of Astrum in this tower. That is what I warned your father of. That is what I waited for. He was supposed to use the words to awaken me from my slumber to stop it. You woke me up too early. Now, I cannot go back to sleep.”

Somehow, Liam knew his grandfather’s words were true. Something about them was spoken with such gravity, surety, and inevitability that they could not be ignored.

“How do you know?” Liam asked, his voice also low, like he was afraid of being heard.

“Astrum’s light shines on more than the present, but the past and future as well. It showed me this coming Shadow,” Grandpa said.

A shadow is coming.

It had told Liam too.

“It also showed me a way to stop it. A Keeper of the Light, trained in the Old Tongue, could prevent the eternal night.”

Grandpa turned to look at Liam, his gaze piercing. “I waited for that Shadow when I aged and realized that my mind would not be sharp enough when it came. I put myself to sleep, so I could be awakened when it did. I told your father to awaken me when the lighthouse went out. He told you the same, but you awakened me too early. My mind has begun to deteriorate again, and I must train an apprentice who could replace me in waiting before I become as useless as before.”

“No,” Liam said. “No.” He backed towards the door. “Choose someone else.”

“You are the only choice. I have little time to train, so I cannot waste any time teaching someone to be a Keeper, as well as the Old Tongue.”

Liam shook his head. He spoke, keeping his voice steady despite the emotions and terror dancing inside of him, “You don’t understand, Grandpa. You’ve been gone for four years, so you never saw, but I was never meant to be a Keeper. I hate it, and I’m terrible at it.”

Grandpa shook his head. “You are the only choice. Astrum showed me. You have to stay. You have to be the Keeper who awaits the Shadow.”

Liam turned and grabbed the door handle, feeling the suffocating walls of the lighthouse closing in on all sides, trapping him.

“It is supposed to be you,” Grandpa said.

Liam closed his eyes and set his jaw. “My mom was ‘supposed’ to be the Keeper, but she’s gone. Arwen was ‘supposed’ to be the Keeper, but she’s gone. Dad’s ‘supposed’ to be the Keeper, and he’s gone. I am going now, and I won’t be the Keeper.”

“You must wait. The shadow must be stopped! This is not an open question,” Grandpa argued.

“I only became the Keeper because I wasn’t going to abandon Gwen or Cormac or Aunt Maria to be without a Keeper of the Light. Now they have you, now you can be the Keeper.” Liam turned back to face his Grandpa. “Now I can be free.”

The words seemed to ignite something in Grandpa like Liam had struck him. It lit a fire of rage in his eyes. He stood up tall and full of strength, despite his age, like he was ready to strike back.

“LIAM,” Grandpa began, his voice thunderous and commanding like it had been when it had commanded the storm. The fire in his eyes roared, seeming to extend into his whole body, making him radiate power.

“You cannot force me to be your apprentice,” Liam said, standing against the tide of his grandfather’s glare.

After Arwen had died, his father had met Liam in this state, when no negotiation, when no force could move him. He became as unthinking as an angry bull and as solid as stone.

Grandpa held his glare for a moment. Suddenly as he had been filled with rage, he sighed sadly, all his power seeming to be released with the breath. The fire burnt out, leaving ash and a stooping old man with tired eyes. “You are right. I cannot,” he said. “Go then, and I will pick someone else, bring Sitric and Hugh. Hopefully, they can help me find someone good enough to save this village.”

***

Liam stumbled into the cold outside. The sadness in his grandfather’s eyes had terrified him, and now he fled. The farther away from the lighthouse, the farther he was from him, and the closer he was to freedom.

He stumbled across the cliffside, barely able to see his feet through the mist. Though the storm had left, the clouds still remained. They had descended from the high reaches of the heavens where they had been howling and now filled the valley with heavy gray mist. The early morning sun could barely pierce it, covering the landscape in a dull and dim light.

Liam paused for a moment and tried to peer out to the village, but it was completely masked. He was just staring into the gray face of nothing. Even the sea below was hidden in the vale. High above, Astrum miraculously pierced it, the blue beam sweeping over the cliffs as it always did.

Liam turned from that and began to walk quickly again. Entering the trees, the lighthouse and its bright beam were soon completely consumed by the mist. Despite that, he still fled, moving quickly. His thoughts were full of everything he’d heard, so he barely noticed the ground beneath his feet, covered in puddles, soaking his recently dried shoes, so they squelched and froze his toes. He barely noticed the trees bare of leaves, covered in droplets of rain and condensation. He barely noticed how quiet it was like the forest was holding its breath, waiting for something.

“I’ve waited long enough. I’m not going to stay in this tower any longer.” Liam muttered as he kicked a stone.

“He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He thinks I’m Arwen.” Liam continued, now speaking to the torch, “I’m horrible at waiting. I’m horrible at learning. I still have to carry around notes on how to say the rituals!” He justified, hoping for some agreement from the flickering of the fire. It gave none.

“I never promised anyone anything,” He grumbled, jumping down the rock path.

The torch flickered here, and suddenly, he remembered. He had promised someone something. He pushed that away… that’s not what that promise had meant… that’s not why-

Not far off, twigs snapped as something moved in the forest. The sound sent his heart racing and wrenched him out of his thoughts.

He turned to look at the sound, wildly sticking his torch out in that direction. A flutter of wings sounded as birds flew out of the trees somewhere out of sight in the mist.

He sighed in relief and lowered his torch. Just birds, he told himself –then felt mildly embarrassed that he had flailed about so wildly.

He looked at the torch in his hand. Well, it had seen. “But you won’t tell anyone, will you?” He said to the torch.

It was the same he had taken back from his dad’s grave. It was fresh, its blue light burning off of the cloth wrapped around its top. The fire licked at it and burned in a sort of upside-down teardrop. He had gotten it from the eternal flame just the morning before, so it was still bright blue. It reached out into the mist and darkness and pushed both away best it could, but it was a hard task.

Nothing could get him if he had the torch. Its light would protect him.

But It had gotten Father.

He started walking again, eyes flicking this way and that nervously. He winced as he splashed loudly into a large puddle he hadn’t seen. He glanced around, like the sound of the splash would summon something from the hidden shadows of the trees and mist.

A small dark creature fluttered down from the sky, landing on a large branch hanging low over the path ahead. With its beady black eyes and shiny shadowy feathers, the raven stared down at him. Liam took a step back and leveled his gaze at it. He had been told to flee ravens from a young age. They were the scouts of The Beast.

But he had the torch. The torch, his only protection. With the torch, he need not fear. He’d heard the creature the night before, and it had been darker than, but he’d been safe. He had the light. He had Astrum.

An earsplitting, high-pitch cry sounded from behind him. He tried to whirl around reflexively, but his feet slipped in the slick mud. He felt both his feet slide out from under him, and he crashed into the puddle, catching himself with both his hands. He sat up, still shaking with terror, and saw, to his relief, that the cry had come from another raven behind him. He was now soaked, though.

He looked down at his hands. The left was fine, but the right had sustained a small cut from some stone in the mud.

They were empty. Both of them.

He had dropped the torch when he slipped.

He turned slowly, a shuddering breath pulling into his throat.

The torch was lying almost completely submerged in the muddy puddle. The water was steaming around the head where the fire had been. The blue fire gave one last helpless flicker and went out.

Liam was alone with the Darkness. The mist and shadow now swam around him, with nothing to keep it back. Coldness spread through him, down his neck and back, like fingers of a corpse, the chill tingling through his limbs and into his hands and feet, and finally, settling in his lungs and mind, making even his thoughts and breaths slow and labored.

As if to announce his doom, once again came that mind-numbing howl. Both low and high, with pure malice and evil carried in its double note. It was powerful enough to carry the sound across the entire valley. But it was close now.

Liam took the dead torch and stood up. He could run.

But Dad hadn’t run.

But Dad was dead.

He heard the sound of something moving through the forest to his left. Something larger than a bird. Something larger than even an ox. And, with it came the charging clap of hooves. He turned and looked at the source of the sound. The tree branches and brambles gave way to it, snapping and cracking as it barreled closer. In a moment, it had broken through the veil of mist and trees and was on the path only paces away. It stopped and turned and looked at him, pausing as if to get a good view before killing him.

Well, Liam thought helplessly, That freedom was short-lived. 

Questions:

1. What do you think of the argument?

2. The theme of Liam resisting duty will be central to the story, is it compelling?

3. Was the buildup to the Darkness effective and scary?


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Thu Mar 10, 2022 7:04 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi MaybeAndrew,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

We have a bit more in this part what I missed in the previous part, and that is Liam's character. Here you can clearly see that he definitely still thinks very childishly in many points and tries to avoid problems. You really did a good job of that in the dialogue between Grandpa and him, and thus also created a new point of characterisation, where Liam is still a bit in mourning for his father, but it's shown differently.

Liam continues to be very dismissive of any problems, which makes me appreciate Liam as a character already. You can try to experience with him what it's all about and also in the second half you show that openly when he's alone and thinking about what exactly happened. Liam despairs of himself without directly showing it outwardly. He seems very lost in his introspection there and I have to say that I really like that we also see Grandpa remaining in his composure and not losing patience with him. ( I would have lost patience there at some point even with all the self-pity. :D) So it shows that we haven't just jumped to one extreme here, but also to the other, where we get to know Grandpa a bit more.

I think chapter 3 as a whole has taken an interesting step forward. You distance yourself a little from Liam's character around his father to give an indirect flavour that he himself is still very immature in some ways. Above all, you can also interpret that as meaning that even before his father's death, those thoughts weren't there. I even think that Liam would certainly never have expected to take on the role then, even if it had been thrust upon him.

“But Liam, the person I want to train isn’t down in the village. Though you caused this problem, you are also the solution.” Grandpa’s voice was quieter, softer, and calmer than it had been since he had come back. “You will be my apprentice,”


I like how Grandpa always tries to help Liam in some way, and also to confront him directly that he caused the problem and at the same time can be the solution. Oh, and little typo here at the end where there should be a full stop instead of a comma.

In summary, chapter 3 was a well constructed chapter with new depth and freshness of characters with an ominous ending.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




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Mon Feb 21, 2022 6:34 pm
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VengefulReaper wrote a review...



Hi, just here to leave a quick review.

Firstly, this is the best chapter so far, in my opinion. The conversation between Grandpa and Liam is brilliantly handled and really gives us an insight into what the flaws of our protagonist are. Being a Keeper is rough and I bet Liam is in some way traumatized by what he has seen happen to his mom, Arwen, and his dad. All the terrible events in his life have revolved around the Keeper and now he's afraid of being alone waiting for superstition and possibly throwing his life away.

From Grandpa's POV, he's being reasonable too. He's only got so many years left and if the time doesn't come while he's alive, he'd need to pass it down to someone. It's a really well-crafted scenario to put Liam in. On top of all that, being a Keeper, in general, is a tough and mentally taxing job. Choosing which innocent girl gets to be sacrificed every single year must be incredibly difficult, especially for a guy of his age. The best arguments to have are always one whereas a reader, we can tell which one is the right choice but we can also understand why each character is saying what they're saying and empathize with both sides. You nailed it here!

But yet, there is a hint of selflessness underneath him fleeing from the responsibility of Keeper when he mentions the village needed him and that his friends needed him. This would be the small spark inside him I would love to see grow through your novel and can be a good aspect to develop. This event could be a catalyst to that happening. Something I always love about characters and their writing is that they have a subtle side to them that appears in times of distress or necessity but is hidden in times of comfort. These attributes often become apparent in their character as the novel goes on, breaking from that shell they were in. At some point, I would assume Liam wouldn't be able to ignore Granpa's offer. On one hand, it's a superstition he heard 2 minutes ago but on the other hand, if it's true and he didn't step up, he'd be failing the village, Cormac and Gwen. The very people that made him stay a Keeper this long.

On to the aftermath of that conversation, I think you did a great job building tension as Liam walks through the darkness holding the torch. Supposedly the torch scares the Darkness off but doesn't make you invulnerable to it since his dad was killed even with the torch. All that really comes to a crescendo when the torch blows out and the Darkness approaches Liam and manifests into a creature. Nice way to end off the chapter with a thought from Liam.

Overall, your strongest chapter and a great one for Liam and his character. 3 chapters of him being complacent about his job pay off and make for a compelling argument on both sides. One to save the village the other a personal, selfish desire to live his own life instead of one forced upon him.

As always, thanks for the read and keep writing!
The Reaper sends his regards...




MaybeAndrew says...


Thank you so much! I'm happy that you like the argument, it took a ton of fine-tuning and drafts to get it to a place where I think it makes sense.
Thanks again!




When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.
— Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind