A Medieval Fantasy Tale by MsFicwriter
IN THE AFTERLIFE, there lies a realm between salvation and damnation, paradise and perdition. As our ancestors did, we call it Thorüsa, meaning missing place. According to our faith, no one is supposed to go there. All of us have been assigned divine escorts to take our souls where they need to go when we die. However, there are those who manage to escape these beings at the moment of their passing, flying straight through the ethereal doorway of Thorüsa instead of being meekly guided towards everlasting peace or pain. Their escorts pursue them, and that is why the “missing place” is no haven for those who wish to flee their fate! Still, as anyone bound for torment knows, Thorüsa offers them a chance to do so.
It also offers me a chance to do what our faith says no one can - to help souls find their way before their escorts, either celestial or infernal, find them. You may ask: Why would anyone want to go to Thorüsa instead of the splendid realm of our god? The answer lies in a poem that I learned as a child in church:
When our souls leave our bodies when we die,
To ceaseless joy or agony we’ll fly.
Escorts from up on high, or from down low
Shall guide us there, wherever we must go.
If wicked deeds are what we do in life,
Or lack belief, our lot is endless strife.
However, if our faith is quite steadfast,
And we are good, we’ll see our god at last.
All concerns of this mortal realm shall fade.
For this, a man his soul should never trade!
What the penultimate line of this rhyme truly means is twofold: Not only will we stop experiencing the troubles that we did while we were alive, but we won’t worry about those from whom we’re so dearly departed. Being face-to-face with our god, in all his glory, will so engage us that we’ll forget about the living and leave them to their own devices. After all, they have the freedom to choose good or ill. This is what our creed states. However, some of us refuse to accept it, whether secretly or not - including me.
Who would refuse to help their loved ones, especially if they were in danger of damnation? In Thorüsa, souls can contact the mortal world, but not in the Abyssal or Elysial realms. If you’re in our god’s eternal presence or absence, all other things cease to be of any concern. If you’re a wanderer or fugitive in the “missing place”, however, all bets are off. All of the passions, trials and tribulations that affect us affect souls there; the only difference is that the latter are no longer with us. They are lost, but not yet saved or condemned. They still have power to choose their actions, and to assist the living and the dead. That’s why I’m here. Against all odds, and against all the teachings of our faith, I’ve come to Thorüsa.
Am I dead? Thanks to the sage Galinicus, I'm in a deep-enough sleep that I might as well be.
Make no mistake - Galinicus is like a grandfather to me. I have been his scrivener and apprentice ever since I was five years old! He watches over me as I quaff the sleeping draught he offers, and sink into this most profound slumber. “They’re almost here,” he weeps as my breath slows. “If you can help even one lost soul to elude divine escorts and finish what he or she yearns to do in this mortal world, then you will be more heroic than any of our supposed saints could ever hope to be! Be brave, my dear young girl!”
As darkness overcomes me, I can hear them pounding on the door: the clergymen and laity of our church. They seek to bring Galinicus to trial, and he speaks of this as he clutches my young hands in his own. “I shan’t be long, because I’ll acquit myself in their sham of an ecclesiastical court! Don’t worry. I’ve hidden you deeply within the labyrinth that is my laboratory. I’ll be back in three days at the most to awaken you.”
Three days? Even as I drift off to sleep, a wave of worry engulfs me. That long? It’ll be like an eternity…!
Well, I read this as you requested, and here's my opinion.
As far as the writing itself goes, there's nothing much to criticize. You're from the US so I assume English is your first language, and there is no problem with the style. It flows well, the sentence structure is fine, the description is vivid.
The concept is good as well, I find it original and enticing. The concept of life-beyond-death and such has been explored before, by Werber most notably, but not quite in this fashion, and I think it has potential.
There is however a problem, I think, with the way the introduction is built. I can see what you're doing - you're trying to explain the world you've created so that the reader may understand what is happening. The problem is that you are trying to explain too many things, too fast. We (the reader) end up feeling a little lost, juggling with these new concepts as well as getting to know the main character, plus the specific situation that character is in. A confused reader is not going to be able to empathize with the main character... also, you don't want to show all your cards too fast. Keep some of the mystery going, that is what makes the reader want to read further.
It is a precarious balance, I'll be the first to admit. You have to say enough so that the reader understand what is going on, but not too much. An exemple I read about once was Robin Hobb's use of the Art in the Royal Assassin novels - she never says what it is or what it does. She just shows it as the novel progresses. It keeps the reader curious, on their toes, and with their minds working to puzzle it out.
I assume this is an original novel you're working on - if so, I think you're on the right track. Just try not to drown the reader in too much information too soon, and this could be a smashing piece.
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