Prologue (Part 2 of 2)

After careful consideration, I decided to change the tense of the prologue to past tense. Not surprisingly, it is actually very easy to change tenses, and it did not change the feel or quality at all. So, please look back and read part 1 (here) again if you would like to, in order to avoid confusion. The prologue was written a few months ago and I have never been happy with it from day one. Now it flows much better with the following chapters. Happy reading!

BOOK 1 (Pending Title)

PROLOGUE (2 of 2)

“GOODBYE”

* * *

Amidst the smoking eastern hilltop estates within the city of Athos, a boy knelt before his mother. She sat on the ground in a broken pose with her back against a soot covered wall. A shattered spear protruded from her left pectoral and a collapsed, thin stone column had crushed both her legs, and held her in place.

A series of quick footsteps sounded outside the home, first they loudened towards the front doorway of the estate, then faded as they passed by. A few of the steps were orderly in their pursuit, while most scattered in desperate escape. Above the hissing of flames, the screams of death and the shouting continued as it had for the past hour. Not far off, one of the hunters had reached his prey. The victim, a woman’s voice by the sound of it, screamed “WHY?! Why are you-”, cut off a by strong inhale of breath bracing for impact, followed by a male’s low grunt from a short-sword thrust. After the awful sound of what could only have been taking the blade out brought silence, the killer then continued on, walking with an eerie calm westward down the street and away from the estate.

The mother watched her six-year-old son struggle with the heavy column. He tried to push, then pull with all his might, but it did not budge.

“Mama, it’s too heavy!”, he said.

Tears were streaming down his cheeks, carving lines through the soot on his face. She knew they were not from fear, that feeling was too rare for even one so young in that setting for her people. He was afraid she would not make it, and was overwhelmed by the horror that echoed in all directions. The boy’s short, dark, blood coloured hair was covered with dust and ashes, his forehead soaked in sweat from the exertion. His small hands were covered in the blood of open wounds from digging into the column with his fingers. The blood was not all his own, however. Much of it belonged to his mother. She thought to herself how no child should ever know that feeling.

Knowing she had but only a few moments of life remaining, the mother reached out with her right arm for her son as he strained to pull again. “My boy. My sweet, sweet boy. It is…no use. Come closer…be with me as I die.” The words did not come easy.

Her son ceased his attempts to wrench the column free and crawled over to her, next to the wall. Two bright cyan eyes stared into her own, visible only in the orange glowing light through a window in the room. They drowned with tears but did not blink. Such a strong boy, she thought. With failing strength she held his face with the only hand she could still feel.

“I am too weak to save you, Mama”, the boy shamefully cried out in his young, high voice.

“You have done all that you can. Be gone from here soon, before they return.”

He buried his face in her collar, forcing her to wince as the broken spear shaft shifted slightly. “I can’t leave you”, he mumbled.

“You will…you have to. Listen… to me. Survive…find out where our people went”. She stopped to cough. The pain in her chest threatened to overwhelm her. Yet she persisted.

“When you are a ma-” This time, she coughed blood. She could not tell if her son was listening as he sobbed, or if the words came out at all. Her senses were failing, her vision was cloudy and it was difficult to make sense of the sounds all around. There was not much blood left in her body.

The boy raised his head and stared into her eyes again. She saw in them the recognition that she was nearly dead. But she was very strong, and would not relent until her heart’s last beat. With her life in the world all but finished, the only thing that mattered to her then was her son’s future, a mother’s duty.

She resolved to finish her message. With every drop of energy left to her she forced the last words, words that the boy would never forget, “Mars…..kill…kill them all.”

The little boy, his mouth open wide with shock, knew his mother was gone. Hearing faint voices approaching again, from the west heading east that time, he ripped the pendant from her neck.

Taking a few backward steps, for the first time he took in the disturbing scene of her broken body. The moment scarred his mind, like a giant, twisted fresco painted on the ceiling of his memory, never to fade. The six-year-old child then proceeded to their estate’s main entrance and, after one last look back, ran eastward.

© 2013 FOTS Fantasy

5 comments

  1. You are welcome! I did know that this was the same story – I look forward to seeing how they connect!

  2. Hi there!
    So I like the intensity of this, I think whatever is going on here would make a great basis for it’s own story, do you have plans for writing that someday?
    I do have a few bits of advice. In the first paragraph you specifically say “left pectoral.” I’m not saying it’s wrong, and if you intend to use muscle terminology throughout the book then by all means ignore me, but it jolted me out of the reading. To me, that kind of term is better in medical textbooks or crime novels.
    Second, this seems to be very centered on the boy and his mother. As such, I would suggest making the second paragraph a little more vague. For instance, you write:
    “The victim, a woman’s voice by the sound of it, screamed “WHY?! Why are you-”, cut off a by strong inhale of breath bracing for impact, followed by a male’s low grunt from a short-sword thrust. After the awful sound of what could only have been taking the blade out brought silence, the killer then continued on, walking with an eerie calm westward down the street and away from the estate.”
    I like the beginning of this line, up to “bracing for impact.” But from the room where the boy is, he wouldn’t know that the killer was a man, or what weapon he used. Also, he wouldn’t know that the killer walked away calmly. Now, this section would work well if we weren’t focusing on the boy, you know?
    Third, when describing the boy’s hair, I would choose two descriptors. This may be personal opinion, but I always get irritated by long lists of physical characteristics. Also, dark and blood colored, while not necessarily opposites, don’t quite go together. If you are trying to say that his hair is wet with blood, you could say “his dark hair wet with blood” or something along those lines, and it would be more clear than “blood colored.”
    I look forward to reading more soon!
    Take care,
    Emily

    1. Thank you again for the critiquing! All of it is helpful like your other comments on my chapter 1. I’m not sure if you know or not but that other chapter with my Andro character is from the same story, and yup, I am writing out the first edition now, currently in the middle of chapter 4 🙂 . Everything on my blog is one project. My main character is the boy above, but isn’t seen for a few chapters later (and the timeline is 20yrs later).
      I agree with the pectoral word, it’s an easy fix. I also agree with what you said about that one paragraph, I need to make it a little more vague. There’s no way they would know that much.
      With the hair, I think I will just say ‘red’. Readers will not understand until a following chapter what I mean, as I can gauge from your reaction already. It’s not that there is blood in his dark hair, it’s that his hair is a dark shade of blood-red, naturally, so that is why I think ‘red’ would suffice for this first mention.

  3. Will you be submitting your manuscript to agents? If so will you include your prologue in your first 10 pages if asked to submit a sample? I’ve heard so many different things but it seems that most agents don’t want a prologue which I find somewhat sad because I love the prologue of my first novel. I suppose if the story stands on its own the agent will eventually get to see it if they are interested.

    1. Thanks for commenting. Yep, I plan on submitting a manuscript, but that is still around a year or a year and a half away so there’s plenty of time to think about it. I’ve heard recently that yes, a lot of people don’t like prologues and I find that unfortunate because I, too, love them. I also found the dislike for them a little shocking when I first heard the news, because almost every really good book I’ve read has one. It’s a strange situation for my own prologue because it starts with action and my main character, who isn’t seen again for a few chapters. But like you said, I think there are many ways of doing it, and a quality story will shine through either way.

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