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Three years and a couple hundred thousand words later...:
I'd like to tell you guys a story about my long struggle to step out of fanfiction and start a fictional universe of my own. And in doing so, to ask whether this journey had been acceptably completed. Three years ago I was beginning my serious (as in, more than drabbles) writing career. At the meantime, I was enthralled by three things: AdventureQuest, Age of Empires, and [[Tsukihime Nasuverse]]. Being the crazily-creative-minded person I was, I decided to put all of them into the pot, poured into an electric blender and set to "liquefy". The plot was basically about an English dude who was pursuing Roa independently on behest of the Adventure Quest world, because this vampire was seeking AQ's Uber and Mastercraft equipment in order to become a god proper and replace The'Galin. To help him, the celestial authorities sent him the Valhallan Regiment, a company of soldiers from an assortment of historical periods who had died valiantly in battle and resurrected as angelic beings, bearing their historical arms and armor into battle. Naturally, it sucked really badly. And then I realized the glue that held them together, the "Valhalla Regiment", had more potential than I originally gave them credit. I set up to rewrite the story, but two thousand words and six months later, I realized it was still far too derivative of Nasuverse. So again I scratched it and started something else, which enjoyed even less success (read: readers) It was only six months ago when I decided to restart the project seriously. I scratched the original cast of the Valhallan Regiment, replaced them with others, more historically accurate depiction of what soldiers from their own time would be actually like. On the other hand, I gave disproportionate development to the antagonist side, so that from the single-character faction in the original fanfic, it became a Reich-Basileia continential vampire empire, with a completely revamped myth and history. And, not evil by proxy. And so here is the question I want to ask you, since I am pretty sure many of us around here are more familiar with visual novels than most other places on the Net - From the way my process goes and the way the sample chapter goes below, is it still derivative of [[Tsukihime Nasuverse]]? It was past nightfall by the time the ship dropped its anchor. The pier from which we were to disembark from was relatively hidden from the common eyes, perched behind a plethora of piers and harbor bridges protruding deep into the lagoon. The sight of the city called Tokyo from the ship’s deck was majestic. On one side, there was the endless ocean, and the other, a city larger than any other I, or my forefathers for that matter, had ever laid eyes upon. Even from afar I could see and hear so much light and sound, I wondered if her citizens would ever sleep. The first to disembark were the Night Brothers, tasked with maintaining a camouflage cover for the rest. From what humble limit I had of the arcane, this would be done by a simple spell for personal use yet extremely costly when applied to army-sized bodies. The entire coven’s magic might was brought to use as they chanted the word, forming an outward-expanding globe of darkness that engulfed the ship, the pier and the entire area around them. Only under this cover would our army stand any chance of entering this incredible sea of light without alerting the humans. I heard some of the Nikephoroi Phalangitai – lest their glamorous name fool you, are but the youthful children of middle-class citizens given some training, a pike and some crude armor to hold a line while we the Cataphracts do our job – complain about not getting the chance to see the beauty of the Tokyo harbor at night. We could, theoretically, if the Colonel had not decided we must not take any chances of being detected. The spell was not infallible, and Imperial generals who depended too much on it more often than not had to pay a hefty price – namely, defeat. Our army was not quite as numerous as any other significant incursions in history. Landing in Tokyo this day we had fifty Kataphraktoi, three hundred Nikephoroi, a hundred Toxotai Thasogenitoi, a detachment of Toxotai Epilektoi, a coven of Temple Night Brothers of the Scythe, and a minor crew of Hemoheilotai to tend to the army’s every need. We were a modest army, just shy of six hundred in number, as opposed to such juggernauts as the ten-thousand-strong army, complete with artillery, spellcasters and mercenary swordsmen in the last invasion of the White Consulate havens thirty years ago. And yet this is the army upon whose shoulder the Empire’s Eastward expansion depend. Like a human king once said “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, ” indeed. As the men and horses and all the panoply of war began to disembark on the pier, I stayed close to the Colonel. It was my duty as a member of the Colonel’s personal bodyguards to safeguard his life even at the cost of my own. Mine was a small squad, numbering exactly four, including myself, hailing from all walks of nobility. Lieutenant Mitildates Euclides, the oldest of us all, had spent the greater part of his century of existence fighting alongside such legends of the Empire as Duke de Chevalier, Marquis von Schlieffer and Count Barkoczy the Saint. Sergeant Petrov Yaroslav, a surprisingly sober Russian who had drunk less vodka than he did blood and a skilled horseman matched by few even among the Cataphracts. I respect both of them not just because they are my senior but also for their near-infallible calmness and stoicism at almost all times. And then there was one for whom I cannot say I reserve such respect. “Hey there, Julian! Why the long face?” That raunchy voice was accompanied by a pat on the Colonel’s pauldron so loud it hurt, and the look of both bewilderment and pain on his face showed. It took him, the gods bless his fortitude and strength of personality, mere seconds to recover from that impact, it seemed. “Our campaign is going to begin in earnest as soon as the last of our men disembarks, that is why, Captain von Schlieffer, ” he said to his non-malicious assailant without even turning back with a stern voice. “And you shall address me as Colonel de Chevalier for as long as I command this troop.” That assailant happened to be nearly a foot taller than the Colonel or any of us for that matter. His Hemothorax was custom-tailored to fit his size, and even then it looked like it was threatening to burst asunder anytime he should exert too much force. On his shoulder was a wicked scythe-spear-halberd-some-polearm-or-another weapon that could dispatch any opponent in the goriest way available in one swing. And on his face was an oddly cheerful and carefree expression more associable to a born-in-the-purple princeling than a champion of the Empire proper. He was Captain Hermann von Schlieffer, a soldier nothing like his father the five-time-recipient of the Imperial Hero Grand Cross Marquis von Schlieffer. Why, other than obvious nepotism, we had to have this lout for a squad leader, I can never know. He responded to the Colonel’s chastise by a none the less casual shrug. “Well, if you say so, Ju…” he said, “I mean, Colonel de Chevalier, sir.” Even though he corrected himself mid-sentence, the tone he spoke in was quite nonchalant through and through, like speaking to a friend rather than a superior officer. If my ears had not yet betrayed me, I could swear there was a distinct sarcastic ring to his answer. As a matter of course this rebellious attitude did not pass the Colonel undetected. “By the gods above, Captain, I hope you would take our assignment with more seriousness and dignity, ” he remarked. “The moment you boarded the Flandango you should have considered your life forfeited.” “And that is exactly why I am taking it easy, ” he said defiantly. “No point in dying depressed, you know.” And then, in a hardly predictable twist, he spun back to face the rest of the squad. So abrupt was his movement that even Lieutenant Euclides was taken aback, temporarily struck with the moment’s panic and confusion. “And if we are to die, we’ll die with a bottle of fine wine in one hand and a pretty girl in the other arm, ” he spread a broad smile as he eyed us all, one by one. “Am I right, guys?” That did it. I, a proud noble of the land of the fearless Hussars, just could not see such absurd declaration go unanswered. I walked forwards with steps as dignified as my bloodline could offer, neck straight, head faced forth, and only stopped when I was within an arm’s length from our unruly captain. “We are not here to drink, dine and party, Captain!” I said, twice as loud and infinitely more accusative as I normally would. “Especially us! We are the Cataphracts, guardian of the Empire, the hope of Her people and the scourge of all Her enemies! You should have known better than…” “Well, what do you think we are here for, then?” The Captain’s question was jabbed in the very middle of my speech, catching me well off guard for the moment. The confusion did not last long – more than anyone else, I know what we are here for. “Why, what else are we here other than to eradicate the Empire’s foes, take their land and their wealth, humiliate their families and humble their supporters, and then…” “No. Just… no. You’ve got it all wrong.” At that moment I thought again my ears had deceived me. It was the Colonel’s voice, of all people, spoken with a clear tone of disapproval, no less. In my bout of astonishment could only turn back to face him. His arms were crossed as he shook his head in displeasure. “Colonel, sir?” I uttered. “But… why?” “Tokyo is no Constantinople, ” he answered me. “And we are not here on a crusade, particularly not the likes of the fourth one.” Then his eyes left mine, as he marched forth near the center of the passing line of men and horses, so that the entire army could see him and hear him speak. “Soldiers of the glorious Holy Komnenian Empire! My fellow brothers!” he addressed, raising his voice as high as he could. A natural speaker he was, just those words had halted all actions around him. Shoes stopped stomping, weapons stopped clanking, even the horses stalled their leisurely steps. Once absolutely everything had been brought to a grinding halt, he took a good look along his line of soldiers, and began speaking. “I will say this only once, so mark my words!” he declared with as much solemnity as relaying a message from His Majesty the Kaiser himself. “We are an army of justice, representing everything that the Empire and our forefather Manuel I Komnenos stand for! We fight like knights, not knaves! We humble the strong, not harm the weak! We fight for honor, not petty gains!” A brief pause ensued, “So let it be known, ” he concluded, “that from this moment on, anyone who harms the humans in this city, be it for blood, food, gold or any other reason, will be dealt with as though they had so harmed a citizen of the Empire!” It was as though he had taken a cue from my statement to start his own speech. If that was indeed true, this day shall be one of the most glorious days in my entire life, regardless of the reason why he took that cue from me in the first place. And indeed it was. Nothing like a resolute “Yes, sir!” with all due enthusiasm from everyone with a speech-capable mouth and tongue in the line of men and horses to confirm the absolute degree of authority in the Colonel’s words. I could not help but feel blessed by the gods above, serving under a man like him.
PIToo long, didn't read. Now that I've, with any luck, crushed your soul, I need to ask if the beginning is the beginning? If it is, you need to sluff off and learn how to begin things.
edited 24th Oct '10 5:21:55 PM by DaeBrayk
It basically isn't - this is the second chapter, with the first being a short introduction. And despite my long history of writing, I might very well be lacking some basic skills. Please educate me if you want to.
PIWell, it might be better with an introduction, but I think between the heavy, pretentious sentence structure (which is not necissarily a bad thing, it's a tonal choice, but let me finish) and the displacement in time (on a boat) and the immidiate, kick-in-the-balls "MAGIC LOOK ITS MAGIC but it's cool because there's always magic" wrench from acceptable reality, all of which is tucked under a layer of "we are doing mysterious things, " you've left the reader absolutely nothing to hold on to. Who is this narrator? Where are they, what are they doing, why should I care? You've got none of those answered ("Tokyo" doesn't count because it's been replaced with a Tokyo where people ride on boats and use magic.) and it's no wonder I couldn't bring myself to keep going.
... Yep. Actually, much of it is introduced in the first chapter, but yeah, I will take note of all of that. My works are very much in its first-draft stage, which willbe subjected to very heavy editing.
edited 24th Oct '10 5:56:59 PM by ArgeusthePaladin
The system doesn't know you right now, so no post button for you.
You need to Get Known to get one of those.
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