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Panu Karjalainen

"Houndmoon: Ada" by Panu Karjalainen

SciFi/Fantasy text 7 out of 15 by Panu Karjalainen.      ←Previous - Next→
 
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Ada, the messenger of the God King, is escaping a city being ravaged by the Wild One horde. Intended to illustrate fairy magic a bit. Occurs years after the other stories in the quartet. A thousand-word stand-alone from something in the works, bits titled 'Houndmoon' share similarities. Summer 2007.
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←- The Prince of Frailty | Houndmoon: Immortal Canis -→

Ada peered around the corner. The walls were no longer simply black with soot: the passing horde had sluiced them in rainbow colours, curious patterns reminiscent of paintings. Occasionally the stone was melted like warm butter – here and there a citizen hung slaughtered from a fence or garden wall. Up and down the blocks the hoots and cries still bounced, back and forth.

“It's impossible to tell whether it's safe or not,” she breathed desperately, leaning back against the safety of the alcove. The gargoyles crouching above had lost their heads, now lying shattered on the cobblestones: yet another testament to the fickle violence of the fairy assault.

Never, the ashy-black man of silver tattoos, said something in half a whisper; he had put on a heavy coat but underneath his chest was still bare. The leaf-shaped sword on his hip felt more like a tool than a weapon, yet nevertheless, a certain kind of viciousness surrounded the man. As if he wouldn't hesitate a moment to cut down a pestering weed. Ada didn't know why she thought about weeds. Something about how Never behaved. Like an artisan... a gardener.

“I think if we skirt the main square through north, we can avoid the main horde,” she decided, and immediately obeyed her own order. Never checked her. His hand, though it looked light, felt heavy as a mattock.

“Don't be hasty,” he murmured as she glared at him, trying to look irritated though all she felt was embarrassment. “Think about how the fairy thinks.” How did the fairy think? All Ada knew, racking her brain, was that the fairies charged through their wars with wild abandon and great confusion, charming a village here, cutting the tongues off a defeated army there. The way she saw it, the fairies lacked all logic in their warfare. Never, as if guessing her helplessness, continued.

“They're not mortals, dear Ada.” Using such endearments, though they had known for scarce an hour! She pinched her lips. “They fight to experience passion, not with any desire to obliterate an enemy. They won't bother securing tactically important positions, or incapacitating militia. They will race after the most intriguing thing they can find – and that fifty-foot jade and crystal statue of the Embraced Lovers standing on the main square is a pretty safe bet.”

He spoke with a certain sleepiness, as if he had not properly woken up to the world that was unravelling around him. Still, what he said made sense.

“So, we'd better take a route that's as uninteresting as possible. Down the Merchant's Route and through the South Gate. So straight and bland as to scare off a good twenty troops of Wild Ones. Come.”

He spun, coat-tails swinging, and padded down the street in the other way. He was bare-foot, having tossed out his wooden sandals which, in light of his disclosure concerning fairies, made sense: the clacking noise was a sure way to attract attention. Ada glanced at her own riding boots – they were good enough to remain on her – and hurried after Never.

They navigated through three blocks of previously white and pristine housing. Ada saw more of the damage the passing Wild Ones caused. The walls were stunted, were wavy like stormy sea, and reeled over the alleys. Something odd grew through the rock, tiny worm-like plants with ruby eyes and bleeding green pores; the cobblestones were sometimes replaced with grass. The colour and the change were everywhere, but the buildings were for the most part intact: strange music played within, and wasps streamed through windows, but the city was not razed to the ground.

Ada saw, as they sneaked on the wide Merchant's Route, that Never was right. The fairies had not been here much. A few leering faces were imprinted on the glass, and fleshy organs hung from eaves. It was strangely calm, as though Imbeon had never been invaded.

When the peaceful yellow arc of the South Gate came in view, Ada was ready to cry out in relief. It was then, of course, that Never's heavy hand drew her aside and forced her in the shade of an awning. As they crouched behind baskets of dried fruit, Ada tried to see where the danger was.

“Look,” Never said. “Over there on the commons. That sorcerer is putting up a fight.”

Ada saw it. Not fifty yards away a naked man, in full-body green paint, had drawn two concentric circles of salt and blood around him. The fairies rode around him. Ada swallowed. On blind, black war-steeds, without saddles but brandishing their leaf-light axes and long pointed fire-guns, the troop was frightening to behold. Horned heads threw back and whooped. Curved mandibles and iridescent wings buzzed. They aimed their fairy guns and fired. Clouds of sickly orange erupted.

The sorcerer expelled a feverish litany of profanities at them; he punched the air, and whip-like emerald snakes flew at the fairies. They laughed, a sound like bells going berserks, or skulls clattering down stairs. The snakes turned to flower-garlands; the Wild Ones draped them on their feathered necks. In the same fashion, all the green man's sorceries fizzled. The war-steeds ran and ran, and their riders laughed.

Suddenly, leaving their game, the fairies worked magic at the sorcerer – Ada couldn't see how, it was as if the magic simply came into existence at their whim. The circles of salt and blood wavered and seeped into thin, flickering air. The sorcerer's protections gone, the fairy-steeds leapt in. War-axes rose and fell. Blood misted in the air, there was a long, flute-like cry.

“Come,” Never said. His voice was sharper now. Focusing.

Never led her down the small alleys, behind the buildings, toward the South Gate. Ada was numb, hardly knew where she was. All she could think was, how could they win this war against an enemy who fought without sense and without logic?

←- The Prince of Frailty | Houndmoon: Immortal Canis -→

DateNameComment 
11 Oct 200745 Lyn Shanra Joan Kuepers
'lo!

the safety of the alcove. <- safe, safety. Also reads odd since you just had her say she doesn't know if it's safe. Maybe some verb less related to it? I'd venture 'familiar' or 'protective', but it depends entirely on what the alcove is and whether it's really safe or just feels that way or things like that.

Never, the ashy-black man of silver tattoos, said something in half a whisper <- 'Never' is a name here, yes? Because otherwise you've no noun in this sentence. I'd make the relative clause clearer in that case, though, simply because it takes a few times to read it as such. (Out of curiosity, I know Finnish has cases, but do you conjugate names as well?)

:-) Panu Karjalainen replies: "Oh, I knew it'd be confusing, I've just always wanted a character with a name like "never"... or "forever"... or, or "yesterday". Yus, Finnish does that.

That... was cool. Glass-in-lead. *nods* I remember you saying that you always have trouble getting into the minds of characters. I think you might have trouble just with the less-than-human ones, which makes sense. I didn't get an impression that you had any such troubles here at least. ^-^ Ada... She strikes me as fairly young. Fifteen, sixteen at most and a stretch. Is that a fair guess? I'm not sure why. She just feels that age. Never is intruiging. I really like the little you say about him about his awakening to the world and how we're all left guessing what that means and want to know how they met that hour ago, why he's not wearing much (though the sorcerer isn't either) and whether/how people are actually going to fight the fairies, as the last questions suggests people are going to try.

I liked the descriptions of the hunt (most of all, I like the title of the overall pieces) and of the fairies, how I can't tell whether they're actually small or closer to human-size and how it completely fails to matter to the story because they're There and they Are, and that's what there is to them. The overall descriptions seemed quite tame in comparison to the force of the rest (though I did just finished one of Cecily's stories and might be comparing to that), but they're still very beautiful. It's wonderful to see how much you can say in such a small amount of words and so beautifully too. *applauds*Umm, thanks. Ada is youngish, yes. This is the weakest of the lot, I think, but it begged to get the fairies in en masse, so there... something's wrong with my HTML, must investigate..."
12 Oct 200745 Lyn Shanra Joan Kuepers
I think you're just missing an end-tag for font somewhere... Or wasn't that what you meant?

*grins* Thought Finnish might do that. Think that might be why the sentence where you introduce Never runs the way it does? Because there'd be no such confusion in a language that conjugates names?

Mmmmhmmm... Looking back on the other three, I have to agree with you that this is the weakest, but it's still a good story if you want my opinion. ^-^

:-) Panu Karjalainen replies: "Interestingly, I don't seem to be missing end-tags anywhere... damn, I just don't get this sorcery. I'll stop adding things inside comments until I figure this out or get it explained to me..."
12 Oct 2007:-) Megan Proverbs
Yo! I felt guilty about never commenting on stuff, so, now here I am. ^^ Okay, er, I'm not very good at explaining things in a technical way, I usually just write on instinct. So... I'll just say what I feel. And hope it makes sense. O_O;

I feel like this needs something. More suspense, I think. A sense of impending threat. The characters feel a bit detached, a bit 'safe'. There's the descriptions of the dead bodies and gore and stuff, and a few distant hoots and cries at the start, but it doesn't seem quite enough. You need an ambiance. Like, when they're creeping through the town, a sense of them being hunted, even if they actually aren't. Like, weird noises/shadows behind them, those vines with the red eyes following their movements, the cobblestones turning into random black holes or other hazards beneath their feet, etc. I want to feel as though the characters are about to suffer some terrible disaster with each step, like the fairies are going to leap out from behind a warped wall at any moment...

:-) Panu Karjalainen replies: "You're right. It's like they're trooping through a mildly dangerous meadow where ticks might bite them, instead of a war-torn city - a very good point, thanks.

You could try being a bit more descriptive with the lighting, too, as that would contribute a great deal to establishing the mood. We have no idea at the moment if this is taking place in the middle of the day, morning, afternoon, or even night. Or if it's sunny or cloudy, or whether the residual magic is doing funky things to the light and shadows, etc.Oops, that one's a bit more obvious; I should've caught that on my own. Oh well... it's supposed to be mid-morning, toward noon, but it seems I completely forgot to mention it.

Some more of a reaction from Ada about what's going on would be good, too. I couldn't really tell how frightened she was meant to be (if at all). Maybe instill some good old paranoia in her, like everything's about to unravel? Would make a nice contrast to Never's cool self-assuredness.

Never is fantastic, though. I got a grip on his character straight away. Lovely. Especially the bit about being a 'gardener'. Heh. >) Just this line was kind of odd: "The leaf-shaped sword on his hip felt more like a tool than a weapon"-- Don't know if 'felt' is the right word, makes it sound as if the description is from HIS point of view, when it's supposed to be from Ada's. Perhaps 'looked'?

Anyway, apart from all that, this is great. Fairies with guns. Sweet. Trying to fight an enemy that is totally mad and lacks all reason? Double sweet.Thanks! And triple thanks for the advice. Like I mentioned to Shanra, this is the weakest of the lot, and I'm thankful that you pointed out just what made it so weak..."
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'Houndmoon: Ada':
 • Created by: :-) Panu Karjalainen
 • Copyright: Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain License.
 • Keywords: Chaos, City, Colour, Fairies, Fairy, Magic, Sorcerer, Spirit, Street, Sword, War
 • Categories: Faery, Fay, Faeries, Fights, Duels, Battles, Magic and Sorcery, Spells, etc., Warrior, Fighter, Mercenary, Knights, Paladins
 • Views: 642

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