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Ben Cameron

"Broken Philosophies" by Ben Cameron

SciFi/Fantasy text 6 out of 29 by Ben Cameron.      ←Previous - Next→
 
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Welcome to the twisted, ugly world of Kedemar.

This is the latest thing my muse threw at me and demanded me to write. If this continues, I plan to tackle all the things that really leave me floundering - first person perspective, some stirring dialogue, dynamic characters, increased vocabulary, some big plot twists / revelations, and as always, leaving things hidden for the reader to discover. I'm also going to broach ever so slightly into sci-fi, however it is still grounded firmly in the world of fantasy.

A word of warning. This is not a pretty story. It is vastly different from the rest of my pieces. There will be blood, death, politics and religion - though not all in this one chapter. If you don't mind that, then please keep reading.

Depending on the reaction, I might or might not keep posting chapters up.
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←- Hidden Consequences | Chaos Theory - Part 1 -→

Chance is the illusion named by those who believe themselves to be  in control of their own lives.

Narcissus Jabir

Deacon of the Church of the Damned

 

      Picking up the rag nearby, I wiped the raven quill gently, careful lest stray drops be spilt over the drying manuscript.  It had been some twenty years in the making, each steady stroke, splash of colour and crisp rune, sketched and charcoaled before the final wash was applied with the same maternal care one has for an innocent babe.  It had progressed slowly, oftentimes to the point that an observer would have been hard pressed to notice any difference one night to the next, so often were my lines reworked to ensure utter perfection.

      With considerable sorrow, as I stretched out the expensive fibres to dry evenly, I realised that this would only be added to my growing collection clustered around the room.  For all the years of dedication, it would only be added to the rolls sticking out from beneath the bed, lying against my small cooking apparatus or piled together in the various boxes spread out across the floor.  None would grace my walls; they were dedicated solely to the icons of my religion, though there were few practitioners of it now.

      Besides my inks and brushes which kept my crowded mind in working order, the only non-utilitarian object in my room was a small scrying stone, set into the stone walls.  Made of the purest glass set over rubies, it could, once activated by my hands, transverse  both the temporal and the empyrean with ease.  It had been with me from the beginning.

      My brushes returned to their home, nestled in the various nooks designated for them.  My eyes caught hold of one name amongst the papers amassed on the desk: Reahyn.

      The wheels of my mind clicked, spinning around, unlocking doors and opening pathways till a memory surfaced, then memories and finally the entire story.  It took me significantly longer to find the diaries which documented the time I had kept watch over, and communicated with, him, yet find I did amongst the dusty shelves and papers that I’d invested the fall of empires in.

      Rarely does intuition fail to serve well, even rarer does it fail me.  Only once in my memory, long before now and even the time of Reahyn, but that is long past and irreversible, much as I may wish it were not.  Thus, with no reason to doubt instinct, when my attention was drawn to the regions of Skaa, long forgotten beneath the murky haze of deceit, danger and death, my concentration drew thither.

      He moved quickly, hiding in the shadows of that malignant and grotesque city Skaa, shadows that pervaded regardless of the highest peak of noon…

~ * ~

      Beneath the twisted, metallic buildings, even more decrepit on the outskirts than the suburbs were, he moved silently.  Down here, even the sun failed to pierce the smog that spewed out from the countless factories that daily swallowed workers.  Through this environment he crept, quickly, stealthily, lethally.  The only mark of his passage, that of the disturbance of the faint, bluish wisps of fumes that coiled out of the clogged drains and hung in the air like bloated, ethereal tumours.

      In his hand was a wicked knife.  It’s jagged edges glinted dimly in the occasional glow of nearby neon signs, pulsing lights pushing the wares that only the depraved sought for.

      Ahead, he heard once again the jingle of coins.  He could almost taste the sharp tang of the metal that signalled his next sustenance.  As his lithe body hugged the desolated walls, he crept forward, eager to reach his target, but equally careful to keep to the ever present shadows and maintain the element of surprise.  Only the foolish went unarmed through Skaa, especially her border regions and the foolish did not last.

      Around one more corner and he glimpsed the man’s outline, his gargantuan body moving easily through the cloying air, parting it as a ship would rocky waters.  Though hard to see through the fumes and rising steam, he seemed a formidable threat.

      Wiry arms pulled themselves silently up to the rusting metal walkways that criss-crossed between buildings and over streets too sunk in sewage to be traversed by foot.  Skaa was as dangerous from above and beneath as it was from attack from the rear or sides.

      Overhead, the dull drone of mechanical constructs slugged through the air.  Beneath lay the body of some horned lesser demon, summoned by a rogue mage and summarily destroyed by the militia.  It’s carcass was half eaten by the carnivorous vermin that crawled through all of Skaa.

      His gut lurched and he instinctually stopped, frozen in place.  He spied another shadow stalking his mark.  Cording groaned as he gripped his knife tighter; spoils were rarely shared.

      Hunter turned hunted as his attention changed to the shadow.  Why tackle the seven-foot giant himself when he could safely remain unobserved and then return the posthumous favour?

      A lifetime on the streets had taught him many things.  Fleetness and silence of foot and knowledge of weapons granted, but most importantly, patience.

      Still, he did not have to wait.  A burst of speed, a flash of a blade, a blow to head with its handle, and it was all over.  Grimy fingers groped for a pulse as others searched pockets.  Their sleave opened revealing the oblique red and black tattoo of the zealous Church of the New Light. Standing almost directly above the crouched fanatic, he nearly snorted.

      The creak of straining metal was the only advance warning he gave as he dropped off the walkway.  In a fluid movement, he pressed his knife against the meaty flesh of the their throat and grasped their knife hand, bringing it forward to rest with its point against their heaving stomach.

      “Give me the bag.”  He kept both points of agonising, promised death on his victim as he glanced around the street.  His was a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

      “What are you talking about?”  To his credit, the captive had remained perfectly still, but the quaver in his voice betrayed him.

      “Give it to me or you die now.”

      “And you shall spend eternity in hell.”  His words echoed with that which was impressed upon zealots, yet he gave the words a life beyond what was intoned daily.

      He laughed, a dangerous, low, guttural laugh.  “Look around.”  He tilted the knife’s blade, forcing his captive to turn their head.  “We already in hell.  Now give me the purse.  Slow like.”

      His one free hand slipped behind, holding the moneybag out for the taking.  “Come to the Light.  We can promise you freedom from this hell, as you call it.  Freedom in eternity.”

      “Drop it, on the ground.”

      “The Light can return your feet to the true path.  And for converters, we offer regular meals and board.  It is but one step along the road to eternal salvation.”  The purse clinked heavily when it hit the oil-covered ground, diffracting the rainbow patterns that ran across the contaminated liquid.

      “Shut up.  I’m gonna’ offer you one piece of advice.  Breathe in the air around you, that choking, poisonous air.  That’s the world we live in.  It’s all we’ll ever live in.  God,” with a rough gesture he indicated all around, “would not force this on anyone.”

      “This world is merely a stepping stone for a better life to come.  Come to the Light, we bear no grudges.  Mention my name, Uthal…” the blade at his throat suddenly pressed further inwards, cutting of air to his lungs.

      “I told you to shut up.  When I let you go, don’t look back, just keep moving.”  He dug the blade in a little deeper, it’s rusted edges drawing blood, but not enough to kill.  He shoved him roughly, pushing him into the darkened recesses of a nearby alleyway.  He disappeared into the city of death, clutching his throat to stop the bleeding.  That any religion survived in this place of all places was testimony to the necessity of humanity to believe in a better life.

~ * ~

      Not for the first time, I wondered why I was drawn to this man, Reahyn as I knew without a doubt, despite the fact that he had yet to voice his name.  It was more than possible that he, himself knew not his name, and yet once more did I wonder at why I was drawn to him.  However, for all his ruthlessness, callousness and depravity, those very characteristics that went against everything I believe in, fought for and lived by, my attention and thoughts were compelled towards him.

~ * ~

      Kneeling swiftly to pick up the purse, his newly acquisitioned blade finished off the job the fanatic had started.  Bludgeoned men held grievances.  Dead ones cared for nothing.  They, instead, followed whatever path eternity offered them.

←- Hidden Consequences | Chaos Theory - Part 1 -→

DateNameComment 
8 Apr 200445 D Joelle Duran
Well, unlike Nora, this is NOT to my taste. I've hated cities all my life, I'm forced to work in one 5 days a week, so I hate to escape it only to enter another one in my mind. Makes me feel filthy inside, where I can't scrub it off.
That's not to say you don't have a great piece of work coming here. Interesting premise, and I'm curious to find out more about the narrator, as well as follow your themes of philosophy, politics, and religion--I do like reading about those. I'm delighted Jamie did such a good job editing for you, all I have is a continuity issue. Reahyn grabs the fanatic, with his own knife against that man's throat, and forcing the fanatic's knife against his stomach. At the end you say "his newly acquisitioned blade finished off the job..." so that implied he now has both knives. Yet you never tell how/when he took the fanatic's knife, just the money.
Chris pointed out the its/it's blunders--good for him. And I share his confusion about killing the mugged man. The man never saw who hit him, if he did, he'd have a grudge against the fanatic, not Reahyn. I think you might want to further clarify Reahyn's motives at that point.
Anyway, don't worry that I won't read updates of this, Ben. All your stuff is great! I'll just have to find something else with which to 'wash my mind' afterward... =)

:-) Ben Cameron replies: "I had guessed that this wouldn't be your favourite story - though I'd thought it for the dark style rather than the city background. Still, I'm happy that you'll continue to read more on my themes.

Thanks for the continuity problem, I'll make sure I fix it.

Next time I update this, I'll make sure I have something else uploaded to ensure that you have something to "wash [your] mind" with 12 - thanks for the comment!"
8 Apr 200445 Nora Stel
Yo Ben, this new style of yours id totally awesome! I always loved your work before, but this stuff is even better. I guess that's just because this is more my cup of tea (the blood, the politics, the death... everything) than your other work (though I just love Niell, so don't you forget him 12 )
I don't know why you felt the urge to try something new all of a sudden, but I do know it turned out great. And it's good to try new things anyway!

I think it's mostly the total atmosphere of this work that makes it so wonderful. The scene's you describe are all kinda dark and brooding. Everything breathes danger, which is very cool, especially because you brought it very subtly
What's also very nice it that there's so much mystery around. A lot of things are still unclear and that's only a good thing, because this way you can imagine your own details alongside the rest of the story. I do hope you'll post some more of this tale though, because I'd love to read more about it all. I like the mystery, but since you always introduce new mysteries when you explain the others, some explanations would be great as well!
I liked the scene's in the city a lot, though I have to admit the sci-fi stuff scared me a bit first 12 But the stalking and the murder were great. I can assure you you did a good job on your first murder! Though I myself would prefer a little more drama, but I think that wouldn't fit neither the story nor your style, so it actually makes no sense saying it...
The religions stuff was neat. I like these elements a lot in fantasy work and I think you intwined it quite naturally in the rest of the all day life of the characters you described! Well done!
I have to agree with Jamie's first point of critique though: I didn't quite catch all the different points of view sometimes. You might want to change a few things about that.

Anyway: awesome work. Wonderful title, nice ingredients! Keep writing 'Broken Philosophies'-stuff!

:-) Ben Cameron replies: "I figured you'd be one of those who would have liked this new style of writing. This idea popped into my head after one particular English lesson during the bus ride home - I don't question it, I just accept it.

This one has plently of mysteris - even more than OHAE. I've taken note that the perspective change didn't work too well. I was trying to get a smooth transition, so as not to disrupt the storyline and make it seem more like he was just suddenly remembering it. I'll try and make that more clear when I edit it.

Thanks for the comment Nora!!"
8 Apr 2004:-) Chris A Jackson
Well, I made it here, and read, and liked it! I don't think it's too dark, though significantly darker than most of your work. I like the idea of 1st person narrator, 3rd person in retrospect, though it's a little unclear if he is reading or remembering what happened... Maybe I missed it.

I see a few grammar problem, but probably nothing that Jamie hasn't already pounded into submission. I did see a few glitches with word usage. Here you go:

Careful with "it's". The possessive should have no apostrophe. "Its eyes were dark." While the contraction of "it is" has an apostrophe. "It's going to be a dark night"

You use "towards" at least once. I think "toward" is more correct. ie "He moved toward the light."

I remember a passage where you used "memory" then in the same sentence "memorized", i think. This is awkward. Avoid using the same word twice close together. I saw this problem elsewhere.

Characterization:

I find it difficult to believe that your thief/assassin fellow holds back from killing the religious guy, then promptly kills the unconscious man... If this was explained somehow, maybe it's bad luck to kill a religious fanatic, it would work better.

All together, nicely done! I like your imagery, though sometimes it feels a little strained, and your way with words is wonderful. Just let it flow...

Cheers!

:-) Ben Cameron replies: "Hey Chris - thanks for reading. Although the main character is indeed remembering, it actually makes little difference whether or not he is remembering or reading. At least, it doesn't make much difference to me...

'It's' is a classic one for me, not because I don't know the usage of it, but because it tends to just slip out when I'm typing. As to 'towards', I've never known when toward and when towards is meant to be used - that's something I really should look up someday soon.

I used memory, then memories in the same sentence. I would have changed it, but I couldn't really think of another word and the repetition didn't seem to harm the story too much, but I'll look into changing it.

Ah - characterisation! Wonderful! Actually, there is a reason why - the religious sect the fanatic belongs to is very powerful, and as lawless as Skaa is, it's not wise to annoy one of the most powerful groups around. Their code of justice is slightly different from what we normally expect, in that the end justifies the means, providing the limit isn't stepped over into murder. That will most definitely get inserted, probably into this chapter in a later edit - thanks for pointing it out.

Thanks once again for the comment!"
8 Apr 2004:-) Adam Hunt
Of Elves and Humans really captivated me, but I just want to say: this story's deeper ...perhaps even darker, mood intrigues me more than OEAH.

I guess it would be because I am interested in the controversy opinions can bring, the different points of view, basically. And obviously this story - this character - is going to be molded, at least a little, after your opinions and beliefs.

I can just see that this story has a deeper sense of meaning to it, perhaps.

I can see what you are saying. He was looking through old parchments or reports, and he found one of a name that he was just drawn to, and the memories started to pour out from there. It's almost like a dream sequence, but with a different set character and ...well, not a dream.

:-) Ben Cameron replies: "When this idea popped into my head, I had no intention of it going so deep / dark. That just appeared as I wrote it, and I think you're right in that however this continues, it's going to represent a lot of my beliefs, not the least because this will focus significantly on religion later on (and in fact already is).

I quite like the way you've described the memory sequence. A dream but not a dream seems to account for it quite well.

Thanks for your comment!"
9 Apr 200445 Jennifer L. Martin
Yup, thank you Jamie... I started out picking, and then I scrolled down to the comments, and thankfully was able to stop. 2 I'll put in what I had, just in case I didn't duplicate something:
‘It took me significantly longer to find the diaries which documented the time I had kept watch over, and communicated with, him, yet find I did amongst the dusty shelves and papers that I’d invested the fall of empires in.’ I don’t think you really need those first two commas? The last part of the sentence is confusing me – maybe a ‘them’ after find, and not ending the sentence in a preposition? But the ‘fall of empires’ reference makes me very curious…
The language and perspective changes in the beginning imply to me that this narrator is some kind of Loremaster that watches over history – he’s able to ‘see’ what’s happening elsewhere in order to record it?
‘In his hand was a wicked knife. It’s jagged edges glinted dimly in the occasional glow of nearby neon signs, pulsing lights pushing the wares that only the depraved sought for.’ I want the first sentence to be ‘punchier’ somehow. ‘His hand clutched a wicked knife.”? Meh. And again – ending on a preposition – ‘pushing the wares sought only by the depraved’?
At then end, though, I think that the original narrator is the Brother of New Light? Hmmm...
This is really interesting - the combination of the beginning - what is obviously a no/low-tech environment, and the body of the story, which has a science fiction feel. The desperation of the characters is described very well - but maybe a little too much 'this guy is really tough' on Reahyn?
I haven't read a great deal of your 'Of Humans and Elves' but there's nothing wrong with doing radically different things in every story you write! Go Ben!

:-) Ben Cameron replies: "I'm glad that the "fall of empires" intrigued you - it was definately meant to, as were a couple of other smaller hints I left around the place. You're sort of right in your guess, but not quite there yet. I might consider a competition to see who gets the identity of the narrator - maybe.

Thanks for your comments on improvements - they're spot on and I'll make the changes next time I update.

I'll let you know when I update this."
10 Apr 200445 Caitlin May Waggoner
Well, it certainly is different! it obviously has a lot more depth than some of your other stuff, which is nice. It will be really interesting to see where you're going with this; It'll be neat to see what you could do with some of the things you were mentioning, like more complex characterization. I'd also really like to see some politics. Writing it is horrendously tricky, reading it is all sorts of fun, and I encourage anyone who isn't me to give it a whirl 2.

Occasionally you got a bit wordy, which made me have to go back and reread to try to sort out what happened, but for the most part the writing was pretty smooth. I didn't do a very good job paying attention to errors this time (too busy reading) but I did notice that the fanatic mentioned "converters," which implies electronics; I think the word you want is "converts."

Closing remarks: keep working on this. My curiosity has been piqued 2.

12 Ben Cameron replies: "One of the main reasons I wanted to write this was to challenge myself, thus, I'm hoping it will turn out ok, but I'm probably going to make quite a few mistakes along the way - which is all part of the fun really. Some of that

Haha... oops. I can't say I meant to mean an electrical appliance there.

Thanks for reading this, and I've got enough positive comments that I'll continue writing, so I'll let you know when it gets updated."
11 Apr 2004:-) Jamie Foley
what an interesting story! I'm guessing from the length of the comments above that you've caught all your grammar errors and don't need to hear them again =) They weren't so bad though, so no worries on that count! In addition, I liked your characters a great deal. The first character, the history keeper, she reminded me of David Edding's Polgara-watching time pass and only sometimes taking part in the waves of humanity on her doorstep. Perhaps you've read that book? it was rather interesting actually, especially the way the author was able to let time pass and make centuries seem unimportant. With such a short perspective it seems difficult to imagine an entire lifetime to be unimportant in the eturnity of time, and yet when we think back on history it's often only a hand full of centuries which are remembered: ie. the greek empire, the roman empire, ...but what about the dark ages? we only know they were 'bad times'. Funny, if we'd lived then I'm sure we would have had a great deal more to say about them!

Your second character, the man from the streets also drew my attention =) By allowing him to have a drawing personality to the first character you also produced such a sensation with the readers. I'm now interested to see where you might take him (and us as well). I hope you plan to continue on this tangent =)

Good luck, and good work!

:-) Ben Cameron replies: "I've read quite a of Eddings' works, though not of Polgara's domain. In that description though, you're quite close to who the narrator actually is.

I'm glad you got interested in both characters. It's one of the many difficulties I'm challenging myself with on this story - to carry two storylines through and make both interesting. I'll most definately be continuing with this one and will let you know when it gets updated."
22 May 200445 James Hayward
Nice story. Bit confusing sometimes, but that's been pointed out already.
It took a while, but I did find some other things to pick at;

'The only mark of his passage, that of the disturbance of the faint, bluish wisps of fumes' The 1st comma breaks the flow a bit there. Could be removed or replaced by 'was'

'parting it as a ship would rocky waters' This isn't really a flaw, but I wasn't sure how ships part rocks. A clarification would be greatly appreciated

'meaty flesh of the their throat' use the or their, not both

'the blade at his throat suddenly pressed further inwards, cutting of air to his lungs.' Again, not really a flaw, but whenever I read this bit I get a vision of the guy getting his throat cut. It's quite difficult to block someones windpipe with a knife without killing them.

Despite my pickiness, I really liked this one. Keep at it.

:-) Ben Cameron replies: "Hey James, thanks for leaving such a detailed critique - I'll try and respond to each one:
As I was reading the first point, I was thinking, "why didn't I put a 'was' in there?", so thanks for pointing that out.
"rocky" is used as an adjective here, like 'choppy waters'
I've never thought of that point on 'the' and 'their'. Makes good sense, really. I'll have to change that.
You're probably right about the throat / knife thing. If you gradually pressed it harder, it shouldn't break the skin, but that should be revised to make more sense.

Thanks so much for taking your time to comment and critique this - it'll really help!"
30 Jun 2004:-) Becca Lusher
Oooh nice and dark, very nice. I think all writers should have one story which is darker than the rest, it helps keep them more balanced 12

As I haven't read everything else here I can't compare it to your usual style - so i won't. Instead I will say this is a nice beginning, you've got my attention, I'd love to read more.

Sorry I've got a headache, so rubbish comment is blamed on that.

I'll be back to read more soon...

:-) Ben Cameron replies: "Unfortunately, I seem to have gotten lost with this story. Someday soon, I'll have to force myself to sit down and type out another chapter here.

Till then, thanks for dropping by. Your comment was far from rubbish - I fully agree a dark piece helps complement any nice ideas the author manages to have, though very few of my stories are happy. I can only think of two that I have up here. All the rest deal with death, sadness, loss, etc (as much as you may think, I'm not a deprived child. Really)"
21 Aug 2005:-) James 'Jimbo Fett ' Inwood
Well that was a creepy yarn. A good one though, likening the smog to tumours was a nice touch as well as the dialouge with our little vagabond friend.

A few nits if I may...

[[[He moved quickly, hiding in the shadows of that malignant and grotesque city Skaa]]]

Comma needs to be between city and Skaa, unless you meant to say "cities of Skaa."
I can't help but grin that you named a region after a popular type of music BTW.

[[[A burst of speed, a flash of a blade, a blow to head with its handle, and it was all over.]]]

Just a suggestion, but I think full stops instead of commas would be better as that would suggest speed to the reader.

Other than the above nits (sorry if they've been mentioned before) this was a good piece of writing - I'd like to know if you plan on any more of this?

:-) Ben Cameron replies: "Hey James. Thanks for picking up all those. I'd reply to them individually, but they all make pretty good sense, so they'll be going in once I get around to updating.

As to the whole updating thing, the short answer is yes. The long answer is that I've been away from Elfwood for so long that I've (I'm embarressed to say) forgotten most of my stories. So, once I find my muse, and re-read these stories to reaquaint myself with them, I'll begin writing more for this.

I'll let you know when I do.

Thanks for the comment!"
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'Broken Philosophies':
 • Created by: :-) Ben Cameron
 • Copyright: ©Ben Cameron. All rights reserved!

 • Keywords: City, Murder, Religion, Skaa, Theft
 • Categories: Angels, Religious, Spiritual, Holy, Vampires, Zombies, Undeads, Dark, Gothic
 • Views: 481

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More by 'Ben Cameron':
Of Humans and Elves, part 4
Wyvern's Project 3
Of Humans and Elves, Part 9
Tales From the Real World
An Imposed Sanity
Guardian (poem)

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