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Adavardes
03-02-2009, 01:26 PM
So, I hit a patch of inspiration today, and thought I'd share with you the fruits of it. It's short, and not very elaborative, kind of vague, but it's supposed to be. Just keep in mind that I want the readers to have questions going on as the story progresses.

=-=-=-=

Answers

It was the typical night on the Dxun moon, the light of the planet above shrouding the surface with a dull orange hue, the entanglements of vines and various other forms of vegitation wafting softly in a breeze created of unknown origin. In the morass of plant and light, and interplay between orange and green and black, the linear and symmetrical forms of undeniably artificial construction slowly protruded from the background of the jungle, unmoving and unchanging, the constant adversary of time in its dark perfection. It separated itself from the jungle, ostracised in its existence by the death and evil that resided there, immeasurable and unfathomable, save for a few who would taste of its sweet potency and forever be changed into the children of its rapture and control. Little knew the lessons of the late Freedon Nadd as taught long after his death better than Tolgon Yelk, a student of the Force nearly from birth, and a disciple of darkness by virtue of his own ambition and intellect. He had elected a life of power by the sole encounter with love and loss that would permeate his being for years to come with excesses of sorrow and anguish at his failings. Even now, as he knelt in the gloom, vile energies seeping into his flesh and mind, making him stronger, he relived the past he now considered his weakness, helpless to stop the memories…

His lover, a fellow padawan, beautiful and clever in a way that had captivated him; the coy temptations and innocent flirting eventually developing into the passionate love; the ultimate union of exposed, writhing masses of flesh and fire, caught in a vice of temptations, lust, and desire. It had been wondrous, beautiful, perfect, but all too short: the flimsy protections of their own world soon burst to allow a flood of reality into their minds. They were Jedi, their love could never be, and soon a schism formed between the two. Tolgon desired nothing more than to be with his love, so he deemed it that he would leave the Order with her, start a life; but she had other plans, other concepts of the future, and he knew that she would never go with him. Words traded on the tones of anger and frustration, promises of love and repudiations of sin exchanged in equal favour. The language was fueled by emotion, pure yearning, dread, and resentment, and soon they had taken control. She had always been the stronger one, always had more discipline, but he was the more potent of the two, and struck her down in the blind fury of his life, his world, crumbling around him. And thus he fled, the miles and years flowing past him as leaves in the storm of his mistakes, the mistakes that he now used as a raging torrent to bring foes to their knees. He was Tolgon Yelk only in memory, and Darth Lutious in his new life.

In a swift instance, a new figure emerged from the shroud of night, its posture rigid and tense, the robe that adorned it rippling softly in the warm air. Little could be seen of the two other than their dark shapes, still and silent against the background life of a busy wilderness. It was Lutious who would first break the quiet, his voice harsh and unforgiving.

“Why have you come to this place? It is of no use to you or your ilk.”

“I come not for training, or tutelage from these corrupted halls bearing the stench of spite and vengeance. I come for answers.” The figure replied flatly, a faint sense of ambiguity shading the tone. No sense of intention could be read.

Lutious coughed out what was most likely meant to be a laugh, but was mangled and unintelligible in its purpose. “You are perhaps very misguided and require direction from your masters if you seek wisdom from Sith, Jedi. That or you are a fool who believes they can harness the Dark Side.”

“Are you implying that I cannot learn of your Dark powers? That I am too weak?” Curiosity seeped through their carefully crafted indifference as they spoke, as if Lutious had said something they had not anticipated.

“It is not a matter of strength, child. It is a matter of experience. I have watched you, as I watch others, from this place. You are young, ignorant, and fresh to the world with no pain weighing on your soul. You are still whole in spirit; you have never felt the pain of loss or the sting of regret. The corruption of ambition that overrides loyalty; the thirst for knowledge, regardless of the foolishly restrictive taboos of the Jedi; the heartbreak of a betrayal when someone you cared for does not share your desire to learn. You have not walked one of the many paths we must all walk to the Dark Side. Therefore, you cannot learn of its secrets, unlock its powers, bask in its glory. You have no reason to.” His words echoed confidently and vigorously through the jumbled vines, filling the tomb and its surrounding vegetation with his own individual song of times lost and memories faded.

“And what path did you walk?” the young Jedi inquired, their voice no longer bland, but shaking with emotion, as if close to tears or anger, teetering on the brink of either.

“I have walked many paths, and many answers lay at the end of them. I am afraid that it is not my duty as Sith to assist you in discovering your own path to the answers you seek, however. Therefore, I suggest you go back to your pitiful little Order, learn from them, and live your life. If you are one of the fortunate few who may see the way to true influence and power in this galaxy, you will eventually start on your own path. If you are not, then you have failed to grasp a greater destiny, and will cease to be an individual mind in order to become a puppet for the Jedi. Now, leave me to my meditations, unless you intend to try and destroy me.” Though a slight lament had permeated his tone before then, Lutious spoke with a dangerous warning in his voice as he expressed the possibility of an attempt on his life.

But the figure did not move, and instead spoke with surprising authority. “I do not believe you to be Sith, as I have searched long for you and encountered many of those that would call themselves Sith. Though they were diverse in their motivations and desires, they all shared a common trait, a trait you do not possess. They all offered me a chance to become an initiate of their Empire without question, whereas you have denied it to me, first requiring me to seek a path of my own. It would seem you place more value on wisdom than immediate satisfaction, so you are too much of a Jedi to be Sith, and too much of a Sith to be Jedi. It matters not. I have not come here to become Sith, and the answers I seek are not about the Force. You already know this. You know why I’m here, though you may attempt to pretend otherwise. I inquire only about you.”

Lutious said nothing for a moment, then sighed deeply and lifted himself to a standing position. When he spoke, it was with a veiled reluctance that did not align with the eagerness of spirit Sith held for slaughter. “It is my belief that the character and worth of the individual is best revealed through the raw exposure of mortal combat. If you wish to learn of me, and learn who I really am, then draw your saber and face me.”

With these final words, a beam of pure red shot from Lutious’ hand, illuminating the walls around him with a red glow, as if blood now covered them in excess. Slowly the ruby beam stretched out in front of him, ready to strike, the light passing over him to reveal an elderly man, face contorted with rage and sorrow, his stark white hair offset by his bright yellow eyes, the skin around them wreathed with diseased, bruised veins, black in colour. The Jedi said nothing, but lifted her hand, from which erupted a perfect silver blade of energy, its light revealing the dark stone of the temple, shimmering with immaculate beauty off the damp floor beneath them, stretching to a beautiful female face, framed by fiery blond strands of hair and piercing blue eyes. For a moment, all was silent, the two figures, gray and scarlet, set against the dark verdants, shades of darkness, and dull ginger of the sanguine jungle. The colours danced and mingled in an epic sparring of two spirits, their strengths and weaknesses laid bare by pure light and fire, intertwining in the constant struggle of the mind, and the constant war of the Force. Then, Lutious broke the unspoken resistance that transcended the physical realm, his voice soft, uncharacteristically so, and as he spoke, his face followed the trend of emotional alleviation.

“You… you look so much like your mother, Leyana.”

Leyana’s eyes, first set with determination, now spoke of a sudden surprise. “You know my name, and of my mother. It is as she said, before she passed away, when she told me to seek you out for answers. I was only three then, and only now could I do as she asked.”

Instantly, Lutious’ face once again became hard and unyielding. “Then let us no longer speak, and reveal the answers through our battle.”

A whirlwind of movement and light followed, the clashing of sabers, the occasional spark of lightning crackling from Lutious’ hand and across the gloom. The figures were as titans of strength and resolve, their powers clashing as if nature itself bent to their will, the invisible Force as a whirlwind around them, the demise of one imminent in the other’s mind. The fight raged on for hours, both forces equal, if only by the grace of Tolgon’s almost-forgotten mercy holding Lutious back from his full potential. But that mercy would be his failing, as it always had been, as he fell to the ground, the bright silver beam entering his chest with unforgiving intensity, his own crimson energy fading and dying. He did not cry in pain, nor did he bark profanities at his opponent. The elderly Sith and Jedi in one merely laid on the cold ground of Dxun, his blood seeping into the cracks of the tomb, his essence forever melding with the life-force of Freedon Nadd, his opponent holding him in an odd embrace of contempt and compassion. She spoke with tears in her eyes and sorrow in her soul, for she knew now the answer she had come for.

“You’re my father, aren’t you?”

The dying man emitted his laugh once more, blood gushing from his mouth in a never-ending flood. He struggled for words, but few came out. “You learn from battle quickly, as I did.”

Then, his eyes grew empty, and his body became limp. And Leyana grieved for the father she had never known, for Tolgon Yelk, who had been squandered to darkness.

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AUTHOR'S NOTE: A lot of this was inspired by how I felt the revelation of Vader being Luke's father should have been handled, so I gave my own personal spin to the "I'm your father" scene. I also incorporated the same play with colour that had been done with the duel between Vader and Luke, using imagery and articulate description to translate it to text. This is an experimental story, and I don't really have any sort of reference as to its quality, so critique is welcomed and encouraged. Thanks.

Jae Onasi
03-02-2009, 02:27 PM
I'm going to give you a far more in depth critique than I do with most, simply because you've had enough writing/college background to go far beyond the basics. I hope this doesn't come across as griping you out, because that's not my intent at all.

There is a lot of great description going on and some very interesting imagery:
"ostracised in its existence by the death and evil that resided there,"
"his blood seeping into the cracks of the tomb"

These let me see the scene quite well, and I would encourage you to paint these word pictures for us.

There are parts where your description gets in the way of your story and drags the energy down--I got pulled away from the view point of Lutious and his daughter when you described the scene around them from your point of view rather than theirs. The first 2 paragraphs, while very descriptive, could probably be chopped from the story, or better, incorporated into more dialog between your characters--things the daughter could learn. They aren't actually necessary for the story. The conflict is between Lutious and his daughter rather than Lutious and his past, though you certainly can and should incorporate that as a sub-theme.

Lutious was far too polite to be a good Sith--you might consider taking out the courtesies to sharpen him up.
E.g. "I am afraid that it is not my duty as Sith to assist you..." to "If you think it's my job to help you, you're wrong." or "Sith don't assist anyone," or something along that line.

Break your long sentences down to shorter ones--one image, one sentence. The complex-compound sentences are great in term papers, not so great in creative writing. It's much harder to see all the pictures when they get bound up in really long sentences--something I was guilty of when I started writing. I'd also shorten your dialog sentences down and have more interplay between the two rather than what comes across as longer speeches--I think if you do that you'll find the conflict between the two will be sharper and more intense, and you'll like the story even better. Keep the sentences in battle scenes very short--short sentences have a lot of energy, and that's what you're going for in a high-intensity lightsaber duel. I noticed you used a number of sentences in the passive voice--go back, find them, change them all to active voice--you'll see the energy instantly pop doing just that.

What I would challenge you to do is take the 'reporter' out of the story. Pick either Lutious or the daughter, (I would personally choose the later, but it's your story), and let us see the entire event through his/her eyes only, his point of view (POV). Cut out anything that comes from your point of view, or reword it so that the daughter learns it from Lutious or what she sees/feels/hears/smells in the environment around her.
This is an example of 'reporting' (or the infamous telling instead of showing): "Then, Lutious broke the unspoke resistance that transcended the physical realm, his voice soft, uncharacteristically so, and as he spoke, his face followed the trend of emotional alleviation"

How does she know Lutious' voice is uncharacteristically soft, when she's never met him before?

Rather than telling me 'his face followed the trend of emotional alleviation', show me what's happening on his face instead. Are his eyes down-turned? What's happening to his forehead, eyebrows, mouth, jaw, or other appropriate facial feature?

Delete anything that is a guess or a conjecture, such as this: "as if Lutious had said something they had not anticipated". He either anticipated it or he didn't.

I think if you make some of these changes, you'll like your story even more, and the energy will match the nice imagery and take a very interesting conflict even farther. Hope that helps.

Adavardes
03-03-2009, 01:44 PM
Hmmm, some interesting notes, and certainly ones that I'll take to heart in future projects. Speaking of which, I've decided that I'll be writing further short stories with the theme of answers, and they'll be posted here, so be sure to stay tuned. :P

machievelli
03-05-2009, 03:45 PM
read