Hh Com Rd 2 - #21 (52)

Hook here

We were in the mountains of Stasyldan when my life changed.

My twin brother, Prince Devad, had wandered off a little into the near distance to examine the dark mountain rock. It was unusual for me not to be right at his side, his ghoulish grey shadow, but the path ahead was too narrow for more than one to take it at a time.

"Come, Devad. We don't have all day." King Reevon was not known for his patience.

I made sure there would be room to pass me, for it was important that I remain behind the heir at all times.

"Yes, Father," said Devad, his voice carrying on the clear mountain air. "I just wanted to see if the myth was true, if you really could see gold on the surface."

"You may stay there until you see it, if you like, but we'll all be dead and buried by then." The King gestured that his entourage should pack up their belongings, then continued: "We're leaving. If you want to come with us, come now."

Devad made his way down the path, dragging his heels at being told to move on. Despite the reluctance that was obvious in his movement, he looked tall, confident and regal: The opposite of me.

I followed in his footsteps. No one checked to see that I was in position; they knew I wouldn't dare disobey the orders that had controlled my entire life.

We travelled in silence, on our way to a small clearing that Devad hoped would overlook the valley below - his future kingdom. We weren't a big group. The King only trusted his closest aides to accompany him on trips such as this and led the pack. He liked to be in charge, regardless of the dangers.

I shivered as we walked. The mountains of Stasyldan were much cooler than the temperate plains and hills of the rest of the Kingdom of Cruor and our cloaks were little protection against the wind.

When we reached our destination, Tigan, the King's personal guard, placed a hand on the small of my back and pushed me forwards. "Go and stand with the Heir," he said, using one of the common names people gave my brother: Heir, Devad, Prince. I was only a Spare.

The clearing was ringed by thin and leafy trees, except at one side, where the valley was visible. The King had an arm around his son, and they talked in low, hushed tones as they stood at the mountain edge.

The view awed me. It was early in the morning and the dawn mist was only just beginning to disperse, but we could see a good portion of Stasyldan. The outer hamlets of the dukedom were busy with activity. Tiny shapes built breakfast fires and took water from their wells.

To see the people from such a distance astounded me, giving for the first time a real sense of how much my brother stood to inherit. This meant far more than seeing would-be dukes bow down to the prince and heir, more than seeing our neighbours from Honaigha bring him gifts and horses. These would be his citizens; he would soon control their lives.

What it must have been like, I wondered, for King Reevon's Spare, when the King was about to claim his crown? Had the Spare been nervous of the upcoming changes, fearing that everything could take a turn for the worse - or was he oblivious?

That Spare met his end shortly after the coronation, taking a sword through the stomach from an assassin who wished the King dead. Rumours said he had a smile on his face in death, for it meant he had fulfilled his role completely, having saved the King's life. That was what Spares were for - the people of Cruor believed that so long as we existed, the Heirs could come to no real trouble. We always died first.

And that's why I had to be near Devad at all times. It simply would not do, I had been told, for him to walk into danger without me.

Nothing good could come from being bitter about it. Better to focus on the joy that seeing Stasyldan from the mountains brought, for this was the heir's first tour of his future lands, and I had never seen the full kingdom of Cruor before.

You start out "my life changed" and then splat...backstory. You don't need all the set up. Just get us into the story. Even when you are world-building, give us the info we need for the story now, and work the backstory in when it fits.

There's also a logic failure here; the spare takes it in the innards for the heir...does that mean the heir is never in danger again?


Anonymous said...

"There's also a logic failure here; the spare takes it in the innards for the heir...does that mean the heir is never in danger again?"

I took it as a way for the Kingdom to always deny any harm to the heir.

Anonymous said...

Tigan is an anti-nausea medication. I don't know if it matters or not, but I just thought I'd point that out.

I thought the writing was very good.

Word ver: myoflea - KY's little friend?...Down, KY, down! DOWN! I didn't mean it, really!

Anonymous said...

I would read more but it's a bit of a slow start so I would be looking for something to happen in the next couple of pages. If it didn't I would lose interest. Good luck.

Virginia Miss said...

I'm okay with the logic, and I'd keep reading.

I like the first line, it creates suspense, setting up that something will happen imminently.

However, you lose some forward momentum when you get into the "wondering" sentence, since it doesn't flow from what came before
(What it must have been like, I wondered, for King Reevon's Spare, when the King was about to claim his crown?)

Also, the backstory can be tightened a bit (if you go back and re-read this, you'll see that we're told 3 times that the narrator must be near / behind / near the heir at all times).

Good luck.

LadyBronco said...

I like the premise of this story, but I also prefer for the action to start sooner rather than later.
Still don't know if I would pick this book off the shelf, tho.

McKoala said...

I didn't mind the backstory too much, but I did mind Prince Devad wandering off to no real effect and slowing down the story. Assassinate him now! NB in one para you have the narrator saying that he wouldn't disobey orders by moving away from D, then a couple of paras later he has to be told to stand by D. Can you trim this a little? Move straight to the awe of overlooking D's kingdom and how pathetic our narrator feels? I assume D's going to bite lead shortly and things will zip along after that.

Anonymous said...

So but seriously, once the Spare is dead who is there to prevent assassination? What if the king dies then?

I don't like the premise because it doesn't seem logically complete.

Anonymous said...

I like this a lot. The only thought I had was that it could use some tightening. There seem to be some unnecessary words in here. Otherwise, great job!