Here's the first chapter of my critically criticized new plasterpiece- Falling Star, Rising Danger. Please don't comment on the disjointedness of it; the prologue isn't included for fear of turning people off for length.
Fallen Star, Rising Danger
Chapter One: Into the Wilderness
The sky overhead was black. Although it was barely past noon on the first day by Ranous’s reckoning, it was always dark in the wilderness. Only faint light showed through the blanket of dimness from the sky above to brighten up the landscape. For the first time, Ranous felt the chill that accompanied the land of Zamorak. He was not alone. Only Tim, Vashna and the dwarves had been in the Wilderness before, and none of them had been in for long. The dark landscape, with the blackened, near-petrified trees, was about as gloomy as you could get, Ranous supposed.
What had the Black Knights been doing in the Dwarven Mines? Ranous had no idea, because the interrogation with the traitorous dwarf had not been completed by the time of departure, efficient though dwarves were. Were the Black Knights just trying to kill me?
wondered Ranous? Or was that a stopover on the way to find the meteorites?
Ranous was still wondering what was been going on when night fell. Yawning hugely, he ordered the group to stop, and they happily complied. Trying to raise the group’s spirits, Ranous promptly demoted Duncan from second-in-command, especially because he had been abusing his power all day. That boosted morale in camp considerably, and they all had a good laugh in camp that night, while Duncan slept soundly right after bolting down his supper.
However, that soon changed. Ranous dutifully took the first watch of the night, accepting the inconvenience as a burden of his rank, but none of the dwarves seemed to be able to get to sleep, especially Tremborn. Try as he might, the patrol leader simply couldn’t get a reason out of the dwarf. Finally, at the end of his watch, Ranous threw the arranged procedure to the winds and gave Tremborn the second watch. Ernest could use the extra sleep; he could sleep all day if allowed to.
Instructing Tremborn to wake up Dwelburn next, and to tell him to wake Hilma (both had long since drifted off), Ranous settled down in his sleeping bag. He was rather surprised that they hadn’t encountered any resistance yet, but then again they weren’t very deep into the wilderness.
He dreaded the thought of what it would be like in a week.
“Rise and shine!” Hilma whispered, shaking Ranous awake. “It’s time for another march.”
“It’s still dark…” muttered Ranous, before realizing the stupidity of the statement and slapping himself. The slap returned him fully to consciousness, and he realized why Hilma had whispered. The land around him held a feeling of wariness and alertness, and he knew that that could only be a bad thing. The fewer fights, the better,
he thought with an unpleasant shudder.
They ate breakfast in silence and went on. Duncan seemed unimpressed, and gnawed on a piece of fudge he’d brought, but nobody else seemed very cheerful. Tremborn in particular seemed jumpy.
“What’s wrong?” Ranous asked the shivering dwarf at about ten o’ clock.
“I’m s-sorry,” Tremborn replied shakily. “I-it’s just that…well…my parents were killed, see. And, well…they died. And it wasn’t really their fault, it just, er, happened; um, you see, it was like this…Well, anyway, they died. Killed, see,” he finished lamely.
“I don’t see,” said Ranous, trying not to show his annoyance. “I’m sorry. But is there anything we need to know about?”
“Well, erm…no! No, I’m sure they’re dead by now.”
“Aren’t they?” asked Ranous, unable to resist a sarcastic remark.
“No, it’s just…well, the things that killed them…It’s nothing to worry about. I’ll tell you in a few minutes, shall I? We’ll be in Their territory soon, maybe in a hour or so.”
“Fair enough,” said Ranous, albeit puzzled.
Barely a minute later, Ranous heard Tremborn clear his throat, and he turned to regard the dwarf. “Are you ready to tell me what killed them now?” he asked somberly.
“Yep,” said the dwarf, a look of panic on his face. “THEM!” He pointed to two shambling blue forms a few dozen yards away.
“Zombies!” yelled Ranous. Quickly, he readied some runes, but Vashna beat him to it. With a shrill cry of power, she sent a blast of fire at the nearest one. It burst into flames, and toppled, setting the tree next to it alight. Within seconds, the whole grove was on fire.
“Pyllrogthra Dornï!” cried Vashna, and a second fiery blast shot towards the remaining zombie. It missed, and hit the branch above the undead creature. The branch crackled and broke, falling down upon the zombie’s head. Crying out in an inhuman voice, the zombie toppled as the fire devoured its body.
“Now the forest’s on fire!” yelled Ranous. “This will attract attention, all right! Why couldn’t you just have let me deal with it?”
“Yeah, yeah, I messed up,” said Vashna gloomily. “Let’s just go…” With a heavy sigh, she started away from the blazing grove.
Ranous frowned. He’d forgotten how delicate Vashna’s ego was. Leading the “retreat,” he made a resolution to apologize to her later on. As he started away, he patted Tremborn on the head reassuringly.
The rest of the day went by without further incident. Supper that night was a subdued affair. Everyone was preoccupied by his or her own thoughts. Tremborn seemed cheerful again, but that no longer worried Ranous. The problem was Tim.
Constantly badgering Ernest about his black clothes (which were barely visible beneath his mithril armor), Tim was trying to tell Ernest that he was violating the principles of Saradomin. But Tim wasn’t restricting himself to this; he was also taunting Tremborn about his cowardice, and telling Hilma that she would get killed with “only” a steel warhammer. Sniw was getting the worst of Tim’s ruthlessness, though. The nasty monk was saying that goblins were weak, stupid, and unavoidably evil. All day Sniw had been hearing that goblins would inevitably be sent to Zamorak when they died, no matter how much they followed Saradomin by, and the poor goblin was nearly in hysterics. Ranous angrily dragged his friend away from Tim, then told Sniw that as long he didn’t serve Zamorak he would be okay and sentenced Tim to the last two and most exhausting watches for that night. Oddly enough, Tim seemed not to care, and resumed chatting with Hlurg.
Ranous assigned Ernest and Hlurg the remaining watches, then went to sleep. It had been another long day…
He was awakened at night by an odd noise. It sounded like slithering, but when he listened closer, Ranous could tell that it was heavier than that made by any snake he knew of. Drawing his Rune shard, he crept towards the noise.
Leaning against the side of a hill, blinking the sleep out of his eyes, Ranous peeked over the crest of the blackened sand dune. Almost immediately, he felt an urge to laugh in relief. A zombie was shambling up the hill towards him. Just a few months earlier, he would have rushed headlong at the undead creature, roaring a battle cry recklessly. But now he knew better. Settling down, deliberately uncomfortably, Ranous waited for the zombie to draw near enough for a quick strike. Somebody else might be waiting nearby…
After a minute or two, though, Ranous noticed that the zombie had come no closer. It was merely walking back and forth along the hill, twenty yards from him altogether. This disturbed him. Surely the slithering sound couldn’t have come from a zombie!
Ranous suddenly realized. Picking himself up and making sure his light blue blade was secure in his hands, the Champion went into a silent charge.
He had only gone a few steps when a green rope shot down from a nearby tree, catching his foot and swinging him upside down in the tree.
Ranous struggled frantically, but to no avail. It was a setup
, he realized. The rope’s grip was adamant. At least, the unfortunate warrior thought it was a rope…until the end nearest him sprouted a head with fangs and began to squeeze itself around Ranous’s body.
Desperately, Ranous hacked at the monster’s body, but to no avail. The scales merely glowed red, then admitted the dagger through the scales harmlessly, as though they were an image. Staring at his armor, Ranous realized that the snake was half through it, half not. Its body passed through the metal and Ranous’s clothes as though they were not there, but without destroying them, he realized as the snake shifted position.
He was starting to lose consciousness, but one productive thought came to him clearly: It only affects living flesh.
Thrusting his rune shard through the snake, Ranous felt the blade scrape wood. Twisting frantically as his breath left his body, he brought himself right against the tree, with only one coil between himself and the wood. With one final thrust, Ranous snapped the trunk, and it tumbled down on the snake and him.
The living tree shattered the snake’s spine as it struck it, doing with momentum what Ranous had not been able to do with force. With a final twist, Ranous leapt off the body of the snake, breathing in huge amounts of oxygen with his massive lungs — which was driven out as he collided with the zombie. Ranous heard part of its ribcage snap, but the being was animated by unearthly means and was unaffected. With a bizarre roar, it threw itself upon its unwitting assailant.
Once again breathing in large quantities of air, Ranous kicked the zombie, hard. It stumbled backwards, then tumbled over. Clearing the crest of the hill beyond which the camp stood, it started forward again, but Ranous met it with his rune shard, and the blade dove straight through its chest. With an unearthly wail, it clawed at Ranous, but he sliced off its arm and shoved it down the hill. With its remaining arm, it pulled him in, and they rolled downwards together, kicking and slashing.
Both of the combatants crashed into Ranous’s sleeping bag suddenly. Ranous was up in a moment, lifting his Adamant sword from the ground and heaving it at his one-legged opponent. With a cry, he heaved it at the zombie, and it snapped in two, the torso and head hurtling across the camp to strike Duncan’s bedroll.
With a high-pitched scream, Duncan awoke with a start. “ZOMBIES!” he yelled. “IN CAMP! SAW ONE!! AIIIIIIEEEE!” Struggling to unentangle himself from his overpadded bedroll, he accidentally bumped into the zombie’s chest. Screaming even louder, he managed to wake the entire camp, even Ernest.
“Shut up!” snapped Ranous. “There’s only one zombie, and it’s dead. Just go back to sleep.”
The rest of the group began snapping at Duncan too, and by the time they were done, nearly half an hour later, dawn was threatening to break. With an exasperated sigh, Ranous shook Ernest back awake and treated everyone to an early breakfast. For the first time, he realized that someone was missing.
“Where’s Tim?” he asked.
“What do you mean
, they’re awake?” demanded the chaos dwarf of the strange monk who had appeared earlier that night, promising the heads of some human and goblin ruffians who held mighty treasures. “I thought you said they’d still be asleep!”
“Well, apparently your little zombie sentry didn’t do so well,” shot back Tim, still squinting over the three dunes separating the dwarves’ camp and his companions. “It got slaughtered, along with that Zamorakian snake you managed to get ahold of somehow.”
“Even if this group is as mighty as you say, couldn’t we defeat them easily?” growled the chaos dwarf captain, gesturing at his sixty-four soldiers. “I say we attack now!”
“You are slow,” stated the traitorous monk bluntly. “You would not catch all of them in time to cut off all the directions they could escape to. A ring one or two dwarves thick would not be sufficient to stop these fools.”
“One week,” growled the dwarf angrily, grabbing Tim by his shirt. “If in one week, we have not captured them and taken their mighty weaponry and armor, then you will die at my hands, with an axe in your belly.”
“You will have them tonight,” said Tim, with a wicked gleam in his eye, starting back for camp.
Soon, very soon, he would be rid of the foul goblin-consorters who claimed to follow Saradomin. The very god their unclean lips truly worshipped would be the one to lead his dwarves to the slaughter.
Slashing, I think you should aim for pretty short reviews. Even if the people here know they'll get their own stories reviewed if they give someone elses' story a shot, an arduous and long review would turn many people off. We don't want that, now do we?
Great idea, Slashing. I hope this will help better the Library, since Hexias seems to be too busy with real life than with fake life.