Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Zir III

Zir lay in the high grass on a small hill. He had a clear view of what had been the battlefield. The many dead humans were being carried off and buried. The dead Orcs of which there were too many were left lying in the mud.
    He had warned Gwarr and things had turned out badly, but there was more to come. The damp earth in his hands pulsed as he thought about the war. The Earth agreed. Its warning still stood. This war needed to be stopped.
    Zir slowly scooted backwards so as not to be seen by any human scouts. Out of sight, he scrambled down the hill. He would be going west where Gwarr and his survivors had gone, back to the Brogdah Clan's encampment, but he'd move on.
    Zir knew he would not be welcomed by Gwarr the way he was before the battle. His presence would only remind him of his losses and if Zir knew Gwarr, he'd also be planning his revenge. Gwarr would start seeking allies throughout the clans to gather a mighty Orc horde. He'd be doing the exact opposite of what Zir was trying to do.
    As he walked through the fields, Zir pondered his next destination. Orcs were a tough breed. As Gwarr had said, they were made for war, but Zir knew that they could do more than just fight. There were ways of living peacefully, they had had a relative peace for over a century. Sure there had been the occasional confrontation with humans and Elves, not to forgot the constant struggles between clans, but for Orc standards it had been a relative peace.
    The sun began its descent, leaving the sky a dark red, mirroring the blood that had been spilled in the day's battle, before turning purple. As the sun sunk behind the horizon the stars began to sparkle in the sky. Zir looked up in wonder at Nature's beauty as he continued on his way. Where he was going, he still did not know.
    His feet began to tire and his wandering mind was going in circles. He still did not know which clan to go to, who would be willing to help in his endeavors to end this war before it truly began. The darkness was bringing a chill with it, convincing Zir of finding a place to put his head down for the night.
    He would have preferred a cave and maybe a fire to keep him warm, but he was seeking guidance. Where better to ask for a sign than under the night sky. Zir searched for higher ground so that he might be closer to the stars, but the only hill he could find was dominated by a dead tree, seemingly struck by lightning not too long ago.
    Zir sought to be surrounded by life wherever he went, sleeping under a dead tree was not something he relished, but who was he to ignore nature's whims. He wanted a hill, nature delivered. Maybe the tree itself was already a sign of this war and how it will scar the earth.
    He could be wrong though. Maybe he was just searching for signs so vigorously that he saw them where there were none. It could just be a hill with a dead tree. It did not matter. He was weary and needed to rest. So, even though it was not the kind of surrounding he preferred this would be the place where he would lay down his head.
    A cool breeze blew over the hill. Zir had a cloak of woven long grass, but it was not quite enough to stave off the chill. His thoughts wandered some more, before he came to a fitful sleep.

Lightning struck from above, the earth under his feet torn asunder. A deep chasm split the world in two, its long tendril snaking always forward through the land all the way to the Blacktop Mountains. a terrible roar came from the giant slab of rock as it trembled and cracked. It did not split, but from its summit a clear blue spring blossomed. The water cascaded down the mountainside with beautiful serenity, until halfway down it transformed into a thick black mass.
    The black goo slid down the mountain much slower, but seemed to be getting more at an alarming rate. When it reached the grass below the mountain it spread like a flood covering all life beneath a blanket of black sludge.
     Zir watched on as the settlement that had belonged to the Griklog Clan swarmed with humans. They were oblivious to the blackness oozing towards them, going about their daily business. Zir wanted to shut his eyes, but he couldn't, was forced to watch.
    Through the blackness a stream of the crystalline water from the spring above burst forth and flooded the settlement. The humans grew in size and vigor, only to be consumed by the black sludge as everything else.
    This disease grew over the land, its tendrils reaching so far as the human capital. Zir panicked, realizing the dire situation Zirayus and its people were in, but he could do nothing. In desperation he searched the land until he discovered a flicker of light. It came from the Turak Clan settlement. He didn't know what or who shone in the distance, but it was a wisp of hope to grab onto.

Zir awoke with the rising sun. A new day, a new path to follow. He did not know what expected him at the Turak Clan, but he had asked for a sign and nature had sent him one. It was a long way to the settlement, but Zir had plenty to ponder on after that most unsettling dream.
    After carving some bark from the tree and planting an acorn a few feet away, Zir went on his way to grasp that flicker of hope that was on the horizon.

4 comments:

  1. Hm. Not my favorite, I gotta say. Mystical characters are always an odd bunch, and writing them is a challenge. First of all, this entire section:

    " Zir sought to be surrounded by life wherever he went, sleeping under a dead tree was not something he relished, but who was he to ignore nature's whims. He wanted a hill, nature delivered. Maybe the tree itself was already a sign of this war and how it will scar the earth.
    He could be wrong though. Maybe he was just searching for signs so vigorously that he saw them where there were none. It could just be a hill with a dead tree. It did not matter."

    You basically invalidate all of what you wrote before yourself. I understand why you did that - it's Zir's internal thought process. And it's fine that he has that, but it does seem a bit redundant to write something, and then write it off, because it serves neither the story nor any kind of conflict (as story is driven by conflict). I get it, Zir is tired and frustrated, so normally, this might have gone differently in his head, but I still don't care for it very much. It's just an iffy kind of text to write, and I feel like your chops are currently stronger in other kinds of text.

    Then there's the juxtaposition between the dream and the aftermath of the dream. The dream is supposed to be somewhat metaphoric (and it is, albeit a bit heavy-handed - the closer you get to "civilization", the more the once-clear spring turns into some gooey, evil, life-devouring mass), but in the end, it's just too on the nose. A flicker of light in the darkness with a precise direction of where to go, I dunno. Seems a bit too Deus Ex Machina for me.

    Sorry to rip this apart so much, but like I said, not my cup of tea =(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not surprised to hear you say that, but as always I'm thankful for the critique.

      Funny thing is, the large bit you quoted, I added the end bit, because of you, indirectly. I felt like I was writing Zir's thoughts, but also telling the reader what to think. So in the end I wanted to say that it could be the truth, but might just be coincidence. I see though, that wasn't the best way of doing that.

      The dream, I guess, is a bit too much on the nose. I'm trying to think of ways how I could have given Zir the same information and possibly also giving him a choice. Then it wouldn't have just been "follow this path, it's your only hope", but would have given him several paths to choose from. If for instance, there had been several dim lights flickering in different parts of the world, maybe even in the human settlements.

      Anyway, thanks as always. Hope to have a new post in a week or so and your critique soon thereafter. ;)

      Delete
  2. Ah, damn, haha, I'm sorry I basically made you write something I didn't like! We'll end up finding out how to do this best. Always remember, I might not be the final authority on this kind of stuff ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mistakes will be made sooner and later. All you need is someone to point them out for you so that you can make it better.

      You might not be the final authority, but your the closest thing I've got at the moment and I'm glad to have your feedback. ;)

      Delete