The girl in the forest

A while ago, while going through some of my old school stuff at my mum’s place, I came across something I had written for a school assignment in the tenth grade when I was about fifteen.
It was a writing prompt assignment where we had to pick between three or four paintings and write a story based on it. I, of course, pick the one that had three robed figures in front of an altar.
In a way, you could say that this was my first piece of fantasy fiction I ever wrote and thought it would interesting to translate it and share it.
Keep in mind that I’ve tried to translate it as close to the original as I could.

I may do a rewrite of this in my current “style” of writing but with the same basic story as a bit of an experiment.

Enjoy!

Chapter 1: “A beautiful girl”

It was a beautiful and sunny day, like every other this time of year. Cerdian sat outside his family’s homestead, it wasn’t a particularly large homestead, it lay a few days travel from the nearest village, but Cerdian had it pretty well regardless.

He got up and walked towards the forest that lay close to the homestead. He often went for walks in the forest, but if he had known what this walk would lead to, he would probably have stayed home.

He walked slowly towards the forest, today he thought to go for a long walk. He had walked for about half an hour, when he heard the most beautiful song, coming not far from there.

He walked quietly towards the sound. He came to a clearing that had a large rock in the middle upon which sat a beautiful young girl, who sang with the most beautiful voice he had ever heard.

She must have seen him because she started getting up and leave. He waited a bit and went quietly after her. He walked for a while, hiding behind trees and bushes to not be seen.

He made it to a small temple. He had never been in this part of the forest before, so he didn’t know that there was a temple here.

The strangest thing was that it wasn’t dedicated to any of the gods he knew and what’s a temple doing in the middle of the forest?

He didn’t know if he should go in or not, so he walked back to the homestead.

He couldn’t stop thinking about the beautiful girl he had seen in the forest and he decided to go back to the temple the next day.

Chapter 2: “Varok, the all seeing”

When he woke up the next day he got dressed in a hurry and hurried into the forest. After a while, he made it to the temple, it wasn’t especially big.

He walked to the entrance and saw that something was written above the door: “Varok, the all seeing.” He had never heard of this god before, but it sounded like a good god. He walked slowly inside.

When he walked inside he got himself a big surprise, the temple looked even bigger on the inside. The floor was laid with marble tiles, which were black and white, it was pretty, but also a bit scary.

Suddenly he heard someone, he hid himself quickly behind a pillar. He could see three people in robes, one in yellow, one in purple and one in green. Two of them carried a stick and the third one had a red cylinder with a gold bracket at the end.

There was someone between them, it was the girl he had seen the day before. She was dressed in a long white silk dress.

They walked to a small staircase and knelt.

The person in the yellow robe, who carried the cylinder shaped object, raised it above his head and said: “Varok, we beg you, plant your seed in this maiden.”

This he said two times and after the last word, a big flame grew from the floor.

The girl walked slowly over to the flame and laid herself on it. It was very strange because she didn’t seem to get burned.

Kapitel 3: “The power of Varok”

She lay on the flame for half an hour. At the end Cerdian jumped out of his hiding behind the pillar, the monk looking people turned around towards him, and he was chocked, they had no eyes, it looked like they had been cut out.

He was as if frozen in place, he couldn’t move at all.

Now the girl had seen him, she walked quietly towards him, her eyes began glowing white, he could feel he was getting more and more cold. He started shaking and suddenly everything became black.

When he opened his eyes again, he lay on the floor of the forest. Thwaswere no temple to be seen.

He got up, his head felt strange, he didn’t know how, but he didn’t feel normal.

Then he started walking home.

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Blackened soil and Sin-eater Trees

When people pass away, their bodies are burned on a funeral pyre when the moon is visible. The smoke that rises from the fire is believed to be the life essence of the person rising up to the moon to be embraced by the Pale Sister, who will then care for them till they are ready to be reborn by the Lifegiver.

For those who have committed a horrible crime, however, taken a life or sexually assaulted someone, a different fate awaits. Instead of being burned and allowed to be reborn, they are buried, away from the town or city and will cease to exist and never return to the world.

It’s believed that as they rot in the ground, their evil essence will flow out into the earth around them, contaminating it, and nothing will grow there. The area where they are buried is called “blackened soil,” and is avoided by people as much as possible and it’s said that even animals will refuse to go near it because they can sense the wickedness in the earth.

A slightly different but related tradition involves a so-called “sin-eater tree,” a big, old, gnarled tree standing alone or have the area around it cleared. Criminals are buried at its roots and are sometimes hung from it if they had received the death penalty. It is believed that the tree will soak up their evil essence and contain it, keeping it from spreading and is considered a better and more reliable way of containing it than burying them in the blackened soil.

The tree is often decorated with personal objects belonging to those buried beneath it, which would ensure that their essence is contained within. It is not uncommon to find pieces of cloth tied to branches, pocket watches, bracelets and such grown into the bark. Several lanterns are also usually hung from the branches to light the area and the tree most often has a dedicated caretaker known as a “sin watcher”, who’s job it is to see to the tree and make sure no contamination is spreading from it. They’re almost always hermits living close to the tree and some even claim to have an emotional connection to the tree and can speak to it and hear it speak.

This practice is mostly found amongst hamlets located near to or inside forests and usually, have a lot of people who’s work is based around the woods: hunters, woodsmen, herbalists and others.

Because of the Long Madness, the number of people being buried in either of these fashions has increased tremendously, and larger and larger areas have been covered in blackened soil. Some even containing mass graves.

How to write something that won’t offend anyone.

That’s a pretty good question, one I’m seeing more and more now, so what’s the answer?
Quite simple: you don’t.

I hate to burst anyone’s bubble of being all inclusive and not offending anyone but it’s simply impossible. No matter what you write, there is bound to be someone out there who will take offence to it, it simply can’t be helped.

People get offended because something you said or wrote goes against what they personally believe or hold dear and you, as a writer, have no way of knowing what someone might get offended by.

The real question is though: would we want to read books that don’t offend anyone? I mean, wouldn’t it be pretty boring in the end?
I’m probably pretty biased in this regard as my main genres I read are dark fantasy and horror, and particularly dark fantasy have a lot of grim realism and disturbing things going on.
In there you will find rape, incest (sometimes combined), torture, violence against women, violence against kids, lots of violence in general. It’s just part of that particular genre and, sadly, part of life, which books reflect.

So what do you do when you read something that offends you? Well, you could of course just stop reading, that’s the easy solution, or you could ask yourself: was it intended by the author that I should be offended?
Some time ago I read a novel where a father forces himself on his daughter, a horrible scene and most who read that would probably be disturbed and even offended by it, which is a good thing! You’re supposed to! You’re supposed to despise the father.

I think the most important thing to keep in mind about all of this, is that generally, people don’t cause offence, they take offence; they GET offended.
You shouldn’t censure yourself as a writer because someone might take offence to what you write, if they do, then their writing simply isn’t for them and if you try to pander to everyone, you’ll just end up with a bland mess that’s nothing like your original vision.
Lastly, I’d like to talk a bit about what inspired this post.
I was on Goodreads, looking at reviews for a book that’s been highly recommended, Godblind, a Grimdark fantasy novel by Anna Stephens.
One of the reviews were labelled “don’t read” with the review stating that it was filled with rape and violence against women and furthermore added that it was a “trope” within the grimdark subgenre and a failed attempt at “trying to be artistic.”

And it’s true, grimdark stories often do contain rape and lots of violence, because those are horrible things and the worlds in which grimdark stories are set, are often bleak and horrible. That’s why it’s called “grimdark”…because it’s grim and dark.

Now, of course, the reviewer is entitled to her opinion, there’s no question there, but just because there’s something in the story that disturbs her, doesn’t mean it deserves a “don’t read” label and certainly not the reviewer’s condemnation of the author and her work. It’s simply a matter of “it was too disturbing/dark for me,” which is a fair thing to say, heck, even I have encountered things that were too disturbing for me to watch (I still have nightmares about Teletubbies).

In the end, the important thing when writing is that you write for YOU, that you write what you want to write and what you want to read and that you get YOUR story out there.

The Long Madness

(Warning: contains talk about suicide)

During the last years of the Long War, the world started changing. Most people didn’t notice it at first but if you asked the old ladies sitting on their porches, they would tell you that the days seemed shorter, the nights colder and the shadows longer. Woodsmen and farmers would also tell of animals behaving increasingly strangely.

People would talk about how they rarely had regular dreams anymore, instead, their nights were filled with horrible nightmares. Even children would sneak into the beds of their parents every night, and for once, the grown-ups knew exactly how they felt. Farmers struggled to get anything to grow, and some of the things that did, tasted horribly, as if they had sprouted from the soul already rotted.

There was a shadow creeping over the land, but the people were so busy with their fighting that anyone barely noticed. The despair that seemed to flourish was just thought to be an effect of the war going on, it affected everyone after all. But when the creeping darkness took on a more visceral physical form, people did notice.

It began when more and more people spoke of seeing and hearing things that weren’t there, their heads being full of despicable thoughts they never thought their mind was even capable of producing. And it was spreading, from city to city and town to town, more and more people were being afflicted.

And then came the suicides, in never before seen numbers and of increasingly horrible character. A whole entire village suddenly hung themselves in one night, people threw themselves from bridges and castle walls and some took a pistol to the head, to get rid of the evil thoughts in their heads.

Then came the violence. Horrific attacks and murders of a seemingly random nature erupted, armies were called back home to try and bring back order and the war was soon all but forgotten.

Lastly, came the corruption of the flesh, children born horribly and unnaturally disfigured in ever increasing numbers, and even grown men and women would turn into indescribably deformed creatures.

The loss of life was immense, far more than any war could have ever achieved. Towns and even cities were sealed off and quarantined and the few people that remained barricaded themselves in towns. But even those that didn’t lose their lives, lost loved ones and they themselves were anything but unharmed; the events leaving mental scars that could never be healed.

And so the people settled in, trying to adjust to their new reality, a reality where monsters existed outside of stories and fairytales, a reality where humanity was on the cusp of extinction and only the most desperate would dare to travel outside of the walled settlements to scavenge the abandoned villages.

The time of The Long Madness had begun.

Novel and game: Is it possible?

We all know that writing fantasy involved a lot of world building and often when we read our favourite fantasy stories or watch our favourite fantasy movies, we hear of other places and other people in that wonderful, made-up world that we wish we could see, but never do as the story never goes there.

This has gotten me to think back to before I started work on my novel.
Back then my intention was to make a tabletop roleplaying game and now I’m thinking “hmm, maybe that’s not such a bad idea?”
We already have novels based on games like with Dragonlance, the Warhammer 40.000 novels etc. but what if a novel came out alongside a roleplaying game? could it work?

Imagine reading a novel and wanting to see more of that world, and then go do it with your friends with the Roleplaying game set in that world! wouldn’t that be kinda wonderful? I think so.

This of course only speaks to the people already interested in roleplaying games, if you aren’t, well, then you probably don’t care that much, but if anything, a rulebook for a roleplaying game set in the same setting as a novel would be filled to the rim with background lore, something someone like me gobbles up in a nerd-induced eating frenzy.

I dunno, maybe I’m just dreaming, maybe it’s just me who thinks this sounds like an awesome idea.
So let me know, what do you think of a fantasy novel being made and possibly released alongside a roleplaying game in the same setting? and if you’re not a roleplayer, would you consider playing the game if you liked the novel?

Let me know!

The Lone Mother Cosmos and her Divine Children

The creation of the world by the Lone Mother Cosmos and the birthing of the Divine Twins is the dominant belief. Although there are several variations in belief within the faith, they all share the same creation story.

At the beginning of time, the Lone Mother Cosmos slumbered in a vast, endless void, for aeons she had been alone, never knowing company, and so she slept to spare herself the sorrow. She awoke suddenly, feeling life grow inside of her, her heart filled with joy and the void filled with her birthing screams as she brought forth the Divine Twins, brother and sister.

As she gave birth to the two most holy of deities, she herself died and her inner light spread, bringing stars to life, to light up the void. Her body turned to dirt, from which sprang trees and grass, her blood became rivers and oceans and her bones became hills and mountains.

So much love had she had in her heart, that from it sprang all the animals of the land, the sea and the sky, bringing life to the empty world.

The Radiant Brother, the Lifegiver, illuminated the sky and in this glorious light, he created humanity, to rule over all animals and the world.

The Pale Sister, the Caretaker, illuminated the night with her white, ghostly light. And as her Brother brought us into this world, she would embrace us when we left it, for she loved us as if we were her own. She will hold us to her bosom until the day her brother give us life again.

Church of the Lone Mother

The Church of the Lone Mother is the largest and oldest of the churches within the faith.

It’s based on the belief that the Divine Brother created humans but then left them to their own devices and demand no active worship.

The Church is divided into two distinct groups of devoted servants: the Clerics and the Ashen Daughters.

The clerics consist of both men and women who have devoted their lives to serving the Divine Twins and provide comfort and guidance to anyone who seeks it. They also have the ability to wed people, who wish a religious ceremony, which otherwise would be handled by a judge.

They live by themselves in cloisters but do travel to towns and cities for weddings and other occasions. They have no permanent presence in towns and cities, however. They can usually be seen wearing a simple, light grey robe.

During the Long Madness, the clerics would create asylums where, along with physicians, they would try to find a cure for the various afflictions.

The Ashen Daughters is an order consisting only of women, focusing their devotion solely on the Divine Sister. Often their members are orphans though a family can offer up any daughter they may have before they reach the age of ten.

A very secretive group, little is known about their inner workings and only members are permitted entrance to their sanctuaries. They also have their mysterious language only they speak, which is said to be the language of the Divine Sister, and usually, only a single member of a chapter in a town or city will have contact (although minimal) with other citizens.

They are easily recognisable by being covered completely in grey robes and wearing a veil covering their faces, further adding to the mystery surrounding them as no one has seen one without her veil down.

Almost all towns and cities, except for the smallest of hamlets, have at least a few members of the sisterhood present, their primary purpose being attending to the dead and dying, guiding them into the arms of the Sister. In larger cities, they also operate smaller hospices where those close to death can live out their last days being tended to by the members of the sisterhood.

Church of the Guiding Hand

The Church Guiding Hand differs in that they consider the Brother (usually referred to by them as the Lifegiver) the primary deity and promote active worship.

They became extremely vocal and active during and after the Long Madness, preaching that the Lifegiver was punishing humanity for their lack of worship, and only those who recanted their ways would be kept safe from corruption.

Many people started flocking to the church in desperation and chapels were erected in many towns and cities, where people would gather to worship.

At the same time, they created an inquisition to root out signs of madness and corruption and stop it from spreading, their methods including locking people they perceived to be affected in their homes, quarantining entire towns and even some forms of torture to try and drive the madness out of the afflicted.

Some people believe that the leaders of the Guiding Hand are simply exploiting the situation to try and gain control over the population, and some even actively fought against them for fear that they would become the dominating church.

Unlike the Church of the Lone Mother, the Guiding Hand has, in addition to their inquisitorial order, a militant order called the Order of Cleansing Light., with each member being referred to as “Lightbearer.”

Consisting of fanatical followers, their primary goal is to hunt down people corrupted beyond saving and destroying the cults that rose up during the Long Madness.

They wear humble brown robes and simple armour, their skin covered in tattoos that they believe to grant protection against corruption. Their most recognisable and feared trademark however, are the so-called “censer flails”, heavy looking flails with tubular, hollow spiked heads, with small holes along their length. They are filled with special incense that, when the flail is swung, will create plumes of smoke.

A small excerpt from my novel “Call of the Crow”

Seeing as my last post was about my very first novel, I thought I would share with you the first chapter of it, to give a taste of what it’s like, my writing etc.
Keep in mind though that this is just a first draft, an “alpha build” if you will (for all my fellow gamer nerds out there) so a lot can happen before it’s complete.

Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Erharts eyes hurt as he slowly opened them. A tree towered above him, dead and twisted, small drops of water gently hit his face as they fell from its naked branches. Around him and on his body lay it’s fallen leaves; and amongst them crawled countless beetles, maggots, and other critters. The ground underneath was cold and damp, and some of the dirt covered him in place. Overhead, an overcast sky loomed, dark and ominous, only slight rays of pale sunlight breaking through the clouds.

He tried to get up; his whole body ached as he started moving and the metal plates of his brigandine cuirass didn’t make it any easier. As he got on his hands and knees he felt sick, his head was light and it was as if something was lodged in his throat; he started violently coughing, the back of his throat aching until he regurgitated a pool of a dark, bile-like substance on the ground, and in it, a small insect of some kind was squirming.

He sat himself up on his knees, his head aching. He ran his hands through his light brown hair, it was greasy and unkept, and although he was only in his mid thirties, it had already begun to go grey. His beard was the same, although a bit longer, covering a rough face and pale skin.

His clothes were all black, or at least they had been at some point, now worn and the colour faded and covered in dirt. In even poorer condition was the long black coat he wore over his armour; reaching his knees in length, it was of military design, but had been repaired many times. The sleeves of it had been crudely modified to be detachable and a hood, most likely from some other garment, had been roughly sewn on. A long, slender sword hang from a wrap-around leather belt, its grips leather wrapping was worn and the blade had spots of rust on it.

Leaning back, he noticed a crow, perched upon one of the twisted limbs of the tree, with deep black feathers and deep black eyes, staring at him, unblinking. He felt a chill as it watched him, but couldn’t take his eyes off it.

Without being aware of it himself, his hand had started playing with something hanging around his left wrist: two fine silver chains, something he hadn’t noticed before. Breaking his trance, he looked at them and found two names inscribed on plates, connected to the chains: “Anneke” and “Ayla”. He ran his fingers softly over the plates, caressing the names. Those names meant something to him, they were important to him, and yet he couldn’t remember why. He could remember many other things, so why not this? Were they even his?

He slowly rose to his feet. A feat that took a greater amount of effort than he would have thought, his legs weak, as if it was the first time he had tried to walk in his life. He stretched body, bones creaking as he did so.

As he looked around, he saw that the grass around the tree, and the spot where he had lain, looked brown, pale and dead, spreading out almost like a perfect circle, presenting a stark contrast to the muted green of the grass and foliage that filled the rest of the immediate area. The tree also seemed to be the only one in this decayed condition, the rest crowned with leaves, although sparsely.

The world around him seemed awfully quiet, no leaves rustling, no sound of wings fluttering or birds chirping. Not even the sound of wind; just a lot of cold, silent nothing. There was a soft mist hanging over the place, creeping across the forest floor, amongst the trees, only adding to the ghostly atmosphere. As far as he could see, through the eerie mist, there were nothing but trees, no indication of buildings or any sign of life, except for his. And the crow, still sitting there. Silent and staring.

He looked to the bracelets on his arm again, trying hard to remember the faces that the names belonged to, but they just seemed to drift father away the more he tried. He had an immense feeling of longing and sadness when he ran the names through his head; and yet, a feeling of happiness as well. There were so many questions, so many things unknown to him; it was as if he had woken up in a different world.

He started walking in a random direction, at first struggling to find his footing on the uneven ground, the muscles in his legs giving slightly under his weight, but little by little they found their strength. He wrapped his coat tightly around him, it’s hood pulled over his head to at least give him a bit of warmth. The few rays of sunlight that broke through the top of the trees gave the mist an ethereal glow, it was like walking through a dreamscape, as if the forest would go on forever. In a way, it even felt alive in a way, who knew what was hiding in the mist? Unseen phantoms watching him perhaps?

It felt as if he had walked for hours and he wondered if he forest would go on forever, without end. He soon found relief as the trees became more scattered and he could see an end to this labyrinth of wood and fog. Suddenly, his boots sank into deep mud as he stepped on to a road going off into the mist on both sides; and beyond the road, in front of him, stretched barren fields. Finally he had found an end to the darkened forest, it had begun to feel like a prison, and he almost thought that the trees had moved closer, to smother him. He turned left down the road. Mud stuck to his boots, the road had perhaps once been well travelled, with the tracks of numerous carts still visible, but slowly nature was reclaiming it again. The silence was still there, no sound but the ones he made. As if life had all of a sudden been sucked out of the world.

He hadn’t walked long before he saw something coming out of the mist; structures, buildings of some kind, just off the road. Finally, a sign of civilisation, there was hope at last. As he came closer, it became clear that it was a small hamlet, consisting of only a dozen houses, with only a minor fence surrounding it, most likely these people were mainly farmers. He had come across several of these, scattered across the land, while he was on campaign, but something new, something different that didn’t belong there caught his eye: a tall wooden structure was erected just outside the entrance to the dwelling, shaped like a square pole with half of a spoked wheel on top. He knew instantly what it was: a symbol of the church. It had never been displayed like this before, usually they were only seen hanging from the necks of clerics, or in the houses of the very few devoted. A small piece of torn parchment was nailed to the wood, it had something written on it but it was impossible to read, the ink having long been worn away by the elements. When he inspected the construct closer, he found several names carved into the wood, they seemed to have been there for a long time, but he couldn’t decipher their intended meaning or purpose.

The houses of the hamlet were simple, small and made of wood but there was no light coming from any of them and not a soul to be seen outside. Even here the mist had crept in, and the relief Erhart had finally found was drained away from him. Several of the doors displayed the symbol once again, hastily painted in white and they seemed to be boarded up from the outside, along with the windows. The first thought that came to him, was that people had been locked in their homes. The thought brought to his mind, unwanted images of pleading men and women and crying children, locked in their homes as they were set ablaze. Though there were no trace of fire here.

As he stood and looked around, he saw a human figure in the mist, some distance away from him. He moved towards it, calling out with a weak, coarse voice, but the figure disappeared back into the mist. Erhart increased his pace trying to catch up, but there was no sign of whoever he had just seen and he began to wonder, if it had been his mind and the mist playing tricks on him. Not far from where he stood, however, was a house, it’s door unmarked and slightly open.

There was no light coming from inside the house and there seemed to be no movement of any sort. He approached the door and weakly knocked on the frame as he gently pushed the door open.
A low “Hello?” passed his lips. No answer came, nor any sound from within at all. He gently pushed the door open to reveal a simple home; wooden floor, a fireplace for warmth, but were it not for the soot blackening the stone it would be hard to believe that a fire had ever burned there. The furniture was sparse and of simple, yet robust design and a layer of dust covered every surface. Across from the door stood a desk and over it slumped a human figure, unmoving.

As he drew nearer, he saw the body to be that of a grown man, holding a pistol in his hand. On the right side of his head was a thick layer of black gunpowder and on the other side, a large hole surrounded by long since dried blood. “Such a poor soul,” he thought to himself, the idea of dying alone and forgotten like this was horrifying. And to do it by ones own hand, even more so. He gently removed the pistol from the mans cold grip, inspecting it keenly. It was of a slightly older design, its handle and structure well sculpted, made of some form of exotic hardwood and with ivory inlays, clearly a masterly crafted piece, and it seemed almost out of place in such a humble setting. Next to it on the table was a couple of lead balls and a gunpowder horn. With no small amount of guilt, he pocketed the lead shots and hung the horn from his belt. “No reason to let it go to waste.”

The man might have been a soldier, having been unable to live with the horrors he had seen, or the things he had done. Death, may have seemed the only option. This was something Erhart himself knew intimately, and couldn’t help but wonder how many nights this man may have woken up, screaming and sweating, horrible images branded onto his eyes.

He then heard something, like a child’s voice but distorted, very quiet, coming from a room he hadn’t noticed when he first entered. He moved towards the door, pistol in hand and slowly opened the door. As he moved into the room it was revealed to be a small bedchamber and there on the bed, he saw something that made his blood run cold.

Upon the tattered, dirty sheets was what could only be described as shadow and smoke, in the shape of a small girl, laying on her side, coughing violently. Weeping. Her features were unclear, like looking at a person through a dirty window. The voice was like a low, soft echo, unnerving and unnatural, and she sobbed as she coughed up blood, like someone deadly ill and in pain. She then started choking, opening wide what could only be her eyes and then grew still: Life seemed to leave her. If it had in any way had any life in it at all to begin with. He stood there frozen by the sight, trying to make sense of what he had seen, and then, it started again from the beginning, coming back to life to repeat the cycle once more.

Terrified, he slowly backed out of the room, feeling cold looking at it but unable to avert his eyes. When he was fully out of the room he saw something out of the corner of his eyes, a figure, standing in the middle of the room, watching him. He turned to face it and its appearance was disturbing to behold.

It was a gaunt, naked figure of a man; his skin was a sickly colour, bruised and sat tight to the muscles and bones; ribcage clearly visible and his belly sunken. He looked like someone who hadn’t eaten for months, and on top of his head was nothing left but a few thin strands of hair. His posture was crooked, as if his spine was deformed, and his belly pulsed in and out, almost as if he was struggling to breathe. It’s face was perhaps the most disturbing of all his inhuman features. His mouth, with its cracked lips and dark, almost black discolouring, like a bad rash, hang open as it shallowly heaved, revealing yellow, rotting teeth and a black tongue. His ears gone, leaving just small holes. His nose had rotted away and above it, two holes where his eyes and lids had once been, now torn out, leaving only dark chasms from which the same dark discolouring was spreading.

Time seemed frozen as they stood there and watched each other, and even though the man lacked eyes, Erhart couldn’t help but feel him staring at him. That there was something in those deep, dark chasms in his face, looking back at him.

The man took a few short steps towards him, stumbling, almost like it was unwilling to move closer, but some unknown force was driving him forwards. His heaving started to increase in tempo making him seem more like a beast than man and Erhart gripped the pistol tighter. Then suddenly, it lunched at him.

In a panic, Erhart raised the empty pistol and frantically pulled at the already depressed trigger. The creature hammered into him, dropping him to the floor and forcing him down. long nails scratching at the floor on either side of him as it tried to bite at his face.

The pistol fell from his hand as he struggled to keep the monstrosity’s unnaturally long gaping mouth from biting his flesh, it’s rotten breath assaulting his nose as coarse, shallow groans came from it’s mouth.

He kicked with his legs while holding the thing at bay with his arms, but it was stronger than its frail looks would suggest.

Suddenly his hand found the barrel of the pistol and he swung its heavy wooden handle at the temple of the creature, knocking it off of him and unto the floor.

Without thought, he was on top of the creature, holding it down, frantically bashing the pistol against its head, breaking bones and covering the handle in thick, dark blood and brain matter. He kept striking until its face became unrecognisable as anything remotely human.

Panting, he dropped the pistol and crawled away from the twitching body and leaned against a wall; his heart pounding like it was about to break out of his chest. He sat there, looking at the malformed thing on the floor, the ruined body twitching with small spasms, making it seem even more haunting and unnatural.

The scene invoked memories and images in his head of bodies strewn across the ground, men, women and children, lifeless, their blood mixing with the mud. His breathing became heavier and laboured, his head felt light and his hands started shaking.

He felt a strong sense of panic overtake him and he knew he couldn’t stay there, he had to get out, had to get away.

He stumbled to his feet, legs shaking, his hands cold. He rushed towards the door, leaning against the wall to keep from falling, his heart pounding faster and faster.
As he walked through the door leading out to the street his vision had become blurred and his legs weak. He fell to his knees, his one hand on his forehead, eyes closed, desperately trying to quell the thoughts and images assaulting his mind.

He collapsed unto the ground, and the world became dark.

My first novel.

The novel I’m working on currently is my primary project, besides this blog, and is something that’s been in the works for quite a while now and it’s taking up a lot of my time. Time I gladly give it, however!
It’s also my first attempt at a novel which is, to say the least, a daunting experience.
If you, like me, have only written very short stories in the past, then suddenly taking on the task of writing a 90.000-word novel seems almost impossible.
Originally, the novel actually started out as a roleplaying game.
I had done a lot of work on the worldbuilding, characters etc but when it came time to start working on rules, I found myself at a loss as I simply didn’t enjoy that process.
I did, however, have one very short playtest with some friends, to see what others thought of the world design and they seemed to like it.
However, I knew I never could complete the game if I didn’t enjoy the game portion of it at all, so the logical step, at least for me, was to turn the whole thing into a fantasy novel instead.
I knew from the start that I wanted something different from the classic fantasy, as much as I love Tolkien, I have become a bit bored with that sort of high fantasy, and with my love of the Dark Souls/Bloodborne games, my interest in the Dark Fantasy sub-genre slowly grew.
I knew I wanted the story to take place in a world where black powder weaponry was more prevalent, so based my ideas and designs on 16/17th century Europe. I also wanted it to be more of a post-apocalyptic setting, as I love that genre and thought it a shame that it hadn’t been combined with Fantasy more often.
I wanted a world that didn’t know magic, where elves, dwarves, dragons and orcs were nowhere to be seen.
A world, that when supernatural elements were introduced to it from an outside source, it would wreak havoc on it.
Most importantly, I wanted different characters, grey characters, that are neither purely evil or purely good. Why settle for black and white when there are so many shades of grey to choose from (no, I know what you’re thinking and don’t even go there!)
Fantasy today is rife with young farm boys who grow up to become mighty warriors, defeating evil and rescuing the maiden and I would have none of that.
Instead, I would have a soldier, in his late 30’s, how is heavily scarred mentally and emotionally from years of war and who deserted the army.
And so, the character of Erhart and the novel Call of the Crow was born.
A world where a great civil war has become part of everyday life, having raged for over 40 years but is suddenly ended, in a way that no one could have expected, giving way to a new era, known as “The Time of the Long Madness.”
Erhart finds waking up alone in a forest, with no memory of how he got there, but finds that the world he does remember is long gone.
People have died by the tens of thousands from horrible suicides and murder, much of the population driven insane, madness spreading like a plague. And some turned into horribly deformed parodies of mankind.
Erhart must now make his way through an unknown hellscape, to return home to his wife and daughter, while desperately trying to retain his sanity on the way.
So there it is, my first novel, and although I’m only 15.000 words into it I am enjoying the process immensely.
Creating this world from scratch with all it’s cultures, religions, people and conflicts have been so much fun and I will be sharing much of my worldbuilding with you on this site.
So that is it for now, there are pages to be written and monsters and nightmares to be confronted.
I’ll see you next time and don’t forget to praise the sun! \o/

 

Why blog as an amateur fiction writer?

This is something I pondered a lot when the idea of blogging first came to me.

If you’re an established author, it’s fairly easy as you can blog about your novels, what you’re working on, maybe even when you’re doing signings etc.
If you’re a non-fiction writer then most likely you have a lot of knowledge regarding a particular topic that you can blog about.

I did find one blog about why amateur fiction writers should blog and what it said was, basically: there’s no reason to. Which of course was rather disappointing.

So I started thinking about why I, personally, wanted to blog, and the answer was pretty easy: I love writing. Even more so, I love sharing what I write with others, get their feedback and learn from it.

Another thing, of course, is also the genre(s) you like writing within, you may not exactly be an expert, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to say on the topic.
I’ve always found that the best way to learn about a topic, or in this case, a genre, is to read as much as I can from as different sources I can. Everyone have their own take on a genre, and you should never be afraid to give it a voice.
The third part is kinda specific to fantasy and sci.fi writers, and that is the topic of worldbuilding.
Yes, the thing that many fantasy and sci-fi writers spend almost as much time on as they do writing their stories (I know I do!)
Sadly, much of all that glorious, wonderful detail that get put into these fantastic worlds doesn’t really come out in novels, as they are more about the story and the characters.

Here, blogs could also be a great help and one I believe may be underestimated.
In a blog format, you have the ability to post all of the worldbuilding you’ve done that will most likely never make it into a book.
And, of course, when your great masterpiece of a novel finally make it into book form, your loving readers can come to your blog and satiate their thirst for your created world between books (always dream big!)

So that was just a few of the thoughts I’ve had on the topic of blogging as a fiction writer and I guess the bottom line is this: if you have something to blog about, blog about it!