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Author Topic: The Devil of Murkwood  (Read 1481 times)

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Offline TheEndisNotThere

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The Devil of Murkwood
« on: November 14, 2021, 07:50:05 PM »
A single hooded figure is heading down a path in the woods.  The hooded cloak obscures all of the figure's features, making it impossible to determine any physical characteristics.  As the sun begins to get low in the sky, the figure can see a break in the trees further down the path.

As the figure heads further down the path, it stops short of getting to the break.  A man's corpse is strung up to one of the trees.  The place where the face should be has been worn down to the skull, while flesh still clings to the rest of the man's body.  The man was thin before the decomposition started, but he has been out here for days.  There is a sign strung around the dead man's neck that says, "Followers and Consorts of Darkness are not Welcome."  The figure stops to examine the corpse, scoffs, then continues down the path.

As the sun starts to set the figure sees the town at the edge of the tree line.  There is a pair of posts at the beginning of the clearing that has a swinging sign, but it is too far away to be able to see the words written on it.  As the finally sets, the figure can read the sign in the last moments of twilight.  "Murkwood"

Despite the darkness, none of the buildings in the small town are lit, except for the church.  The full moon hangs over the building bathing it in the pale light.  The dancing light of the torches in the church cause shadows to move in the windows.  The figure opens the door to the church and enters.  Inside the decently large church is more people than the church should be able to hold.  The whole town has gathered here, and in front of the group is a priest standing next to wooden cage with a child inside.

"Friends and fellow followers of the Keeper of Nature, Makovir the Tender, I present to you, the devil that has been plaguing our town."  The priest motions to the cage as the crowd murmurs amongst itself.  "Have you found food scarce in your home?  Your harvest of Makovir's bounty less then what it was the year prior?  I have here the reason behind it all!"  The crowd begins booing and hissing.  The figure begins moving through the crowd toward the priest and the cage.  The child stands up revealing that she is a young girl with a pair of horns sprouting from her forehead.

"I didn't do anything!" Yells the child.  The crowd starts talking amongst themselves.

"Silence Devil!"  The priest slams the cage with his hand.  "Your lies will not save you."  He turns to the crowd that quiets down.  "Tonight, we will purify Murkwood of this taint."  He puts his hands together and bows his head.  "Makovir, I ask your moon to cleanse this devil spawn from our presence."  The torches all blow out and the pale moon light seeps into the building from a window near the top of the church.  The light slowly approaches the cage before finally stopping on the girl.

"Stop, please!  It burns!"  Shrieks the girl.  She notices the figure and reaches a hand out of the cage.  "Help me! Please!"  She falls unconscious.



This is the second story that I am working with.  This story focuses more on the religion of the world.  As the reader goes deeper into the story, they learn more about the Pantheon of the world and what role it plays in the life of mortals and magic.

Offline Coryn

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Re: The Devil of Murkwood
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2021, 11:25:18 AM »
I do love a good story about witch (or devil, as the case may be) hunts. Are you planning to pull in any legal practices from real life witch hunts into this? I always found it interesting how the trials ended in exoneration an appreciable amount of the time.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline TheEndisNotThere

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Re: The Devil of Murkwood
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2021, 12:32:10 PM »
Through this story, I do plan to include some elements of reality, but viewed through the scope of a society given power through magic.  I plan to look into both the holy and profane elements and look at how the "civilized" and "monstrous" races gain power by faith.  This story will definitely focus on a lot of negative and positive aspects that tend to be entwined with the ideas of religion, fanaticism, and manipulation.

I do intend to show how hunts are performed by different churches, as well as their trials/lack there of.

Offline TheEndisNotThere

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Re: The Devil of Murkwood
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2022, 03:15:06 PM »
Chapter 2 - A Statue of a Man

The figure reaches its hands out to the cage.  As its hands enters the light, sizzling sounds and smoke begin to rise from the figure's hands.  The priest shouts, "this creature burns like the demoness!  It must be a hellish minion summoned by her to aid in her escape!"  The figure grasps the cage with both hands and begins to pull.  "Stop the fiend and her minion!"   The priest shouts.  The crowd yells and surges towards the figure like a wave.

"CRACK! SNAP!"  The cage begins to buckle and crack under the figure's strength as the crowd's seemingly infinite number of hands grasp at its cloak and arms.  The cloak rips and tears under the assault of the crowd's hands.  As the cloak tears, a dark mist/fog seems to cling to the figure's form continuing to obscure it.  However, while the cloak rips and tears, the figure remains unfazed by the crowd's attempt to remove it.  Until finally, there is one last snap and the unnatural light goes out bathing the church in darkness.

Some of the women scream at the sudden darkness, but after a few seconds of confusion, a man lights a torch and looks to where the priest was standing.  He is now slumped on the ground against the wall.  Several pieces of wood have pierced his body, including multiple places in his chest, two in his throat, and one through his eye.  A few more torches are lit as the crowd turns back to the cloaked figure.  The cloak has been torn to shreds and the dark mist/fog has faded revealing the figure.  Standing in front of the cage is a well built nude man, tall, wide shouldered, and muscular.  However, his skin seems to be made out of marble or porcelain, his face is smooth, lacking any features, and also seems to have no genitals.  He stands before the crowd with the unconscious in his hand which seems to be darkened as if burned.  He holds her by the rags she is wearing, letting her arms and legs dangle.

Despite having no mouth, his voice is clear.  "The darkness here is old, and the smell of death and hatred permeates even the wood and stone of the buildings in this town.  It will be but a single step of my journey."

"Kill the devil!" Shouts a man with a torch as he charges the faceless man while drawing a knife with his free hand.  "You dare defile th--"  The faceless man kicks him hard enough to send him through the wall of the church and into one of the houses of the town.  The torch begins to catch some of the wood and thatch of the house on fire.  The rest of the crowd begins to pull out different items, some have farming tools while others have axes and knives.  They all begin to rush the faceless man, but are quickly dispatched with only a single blow, which often sends the people struck flying in the direction they were hit.  Some of the crowd manage to get through, but the faceless man's skin is too hard for them to pierce with anything they have, but they continue to attack in a fit of rage or madness.

After all of the crowd has been dealt with, the man carries the girl off into the woods surrounding the town.  Leaving corpses, mangled bodies with crushed skulls, broken limbs, and caved in chests to litter the town, as a fire rages, consuming everything it can, but leaving no traces of darkness.

Offline Coryn

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Re: The Devil of Murkwood
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2022, 02:52:47 PM »
Alright, chapter two then. I got some comments.

1. These two really should be a single chapter. The way they create the whole, it feels really unnatural to cut where you did. I had to go back and reread the first chapter because so much of what's happening here is dependent on the first. Right down to our understanding of the scene. As a rule of thumb, if you're beginning a new chapter, you should always reset the reader with the scene information.

2. So, I doesn't really feel like the moonlight you described in the first chapter really feels all that unnatural. The way it's described, I imagined just the cessation of the torchlight allowing the regular moonlight to become apparent. If you really got a magical moon beam, more pomp and circumstance would be nice.

3. So this is one of my pet peeves. How exactly does a regular person get thrown through a pair of (presumably) very hard walls? I'm not asking how they make it through alive, but through at all. What the the materials we're talking about here? The human body is only flesh and bone, fairly squishy all things considered. So something less dramatic would better in this instance. You could just have the guy dashed against the wall, and still have something get lit on fire, and still have shown off the faceless man's strength.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline TheEndisNotThere

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Re: The Devil of Murkwood
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2022, 01:44:12 AM »
Thank you Coryn for taking the time to read and comment on the second chapter.

1.  I do think these could be condensed into a single chapter.  I write a lot of these chapters from how I visualize the manga chapter would look.  It's why I tried to keep the stories more condensed, also due to the fact, I have not actually published one yet.  So I do not know how long or short I should make each chapter so they are not too short or too long.

2.  The moon beam is an actual beam.  The torches go out and an image of the moon appears on the ceiling where the actual moon is located, shining a beam of light down into the church.  I didn't go into too much detail, because I didn't want to break the pacing of the written story too much, and I wanted to let the reader interpret the beam as they chose.  Again, I write these based on the image that I have in mind, but I want to give the reader the liberty to visualize it as they choose.

3.  For this one, I should clarify, the man passed through one wall and hit the house's wall but did not pass though that one.  However, the man does pass through the church wall, and I agree with you in that the human body is not exceedingly dense or hard, but with enough speed and force anything can become a bullet, although not an effective bullet.  The force required to put a normal person through a wall would likely not only massively damage if not totally destroy their organs, but also break/shatter many bones due to the concentrated force of a single blow.  Also, the man needed to be sent outside, because the after math of the fire is the collapsing of the church, leaving the man as the only readily accessible corpse in the situation.  About three days after the incident, 3 investigators from different churches arrive to investigate the reports of a demon being in the town.  A paladin (holy warrior), a priest (holy mage), and an interrogator (holy thief).  The man's body is used for a "Life's Last Breath" spell which allows the 3 to ask the dead man about what happened on the day of his death.  Which leads them to chase the two who left Murkwood.  The true story of Murkwood is far more complicated than what the three investigators are lead to believe.

I hope this helps to clarify everything, and again thank you for taking the time to read through it.

Offline Coryn

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Re: The Devil of Murkwood
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2022, 12:12:51 PM »
1. In that case, you should probably just check out some manga in the same genre you're shooting for and see how they handle page counts. Generally though, it's pretty much just a function of time. Monthly mangas have longer chapters than weekly ones, for instance. But it's also very common for the first chapter of a manga to be extra long. Even for a weekly manga, the first chapter often is more like a one-shot. I've seen upward if 45 pages before. So I wouldn't restrain yourself in this instance.

2. I can respect giving your reader room to interrupt things, but under-description is just as much something to avoid as over-description. In this case, I think you can dial the notch up a few times, since something more visually technical is happening.

3. I know where you're coming from, but even a bullet can shatter if it hits a hard enough surface. You just need to nail down your relative toughness here. A better word on what the church is actually made of would go a long way. From where I'm sitting, it gives me the impression of a stone cathedral, but what you're imagining could be different.

It also depends how far you want to take your own magic system. So you need a body to cast a classic 'speak with dead' spell on, but what are the limits there. Does it need to be basically whole? Is this going to work on a skeleton? I know a burning and collapsed church would be hot, but it wouldn't turn a non-intentionally constructed fire won't reduce a human body to ash. We famously are mostly water. You can research witch burnings to discover that even under those conditions, you're going to be left with some sort of corpse.

I should also point out, you described the village as being littered with bodies, which heavily implies a wide distribution. Under those circumstances, then the investigators should have the pick of the litter.

Sorry if it feels like I'm just here to pick holes in your logic, lol. I really do have the best of intentions. It helps us grow when we see people questioning us (as long as it isn't taken too far). Always feel free to return the 'favor' lol  :sure:

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline TheEndisNotThere

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Re: The Devil of Murkwood
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2022, 01:52:21 AM »
I do not think about it like you are trying to poke holes or anything, it is more that I need to provide more details about what has happened.  Murkwood is a logging town, established in the area due to the intersection of two of the eight primeval leylines.  The leyline of earth and life intersect not too far from Murkwood creating ironwood trees, that regrow every year.  These trees are so valuable that multiple different churches, who would normally not associate with each other, established points of operation and training further down the main road in peace.  They utilize this wood to make extremely durable vehicles, outposts, and furniture/equipment used by other magic users.

The chapel itself, as well as all of the other homes in Murkwood are created primarily out of regular wood, as the leyline of earth makes the ground far too difficult to alter or excavate from, apart from loose stones or rocks that can be easily pulled from the earth, but the leyline of life makes the normal trees grow to full size in a matter of months.  So the main character kicked the man through a wooden wall, not one made from stone.

As for the speak with dead spell, it does require an intact skull, or one that still resembles its original shape.  Most of the bodies outside of the church, are either missing the head (it was obliterated), or it is crushed so severely that it is rendered unusable for the spell's purpose.

The main character's strength is tied to the powerful emotions of anger and hatred and the acts of violence and killing, and are amplified greatly if they are directed at him or if he does the killing.  This is due to his lineage consisting of 1/4 devil of destruction (bone devil).  This is why his body looks to be made of porcelain, just like how shark skin contains microscopic teeth, when in this form he is entirely encased in bone.  While this does make him far more durable, it also stops him from being able to maneuver as quickly or release heat from his body.  The heat builds inside of him, and the longer he remains in that form, the hotter his insides gets.  He can open his mouth to vent some of the heat, but it is only a temporary fix to the problem, and will eventually force him back into his original form, or his human form.  Also, the speaking without a mouth is from the other 1/4 of his lineage that isn't the 1/2 that is human.

I can delve deeper into the backstory of the main character to help anyone understand what and where he gets this power from, but its quite long for this post and doesn't really get explored until much later into the main character and girl's journey.  It looks at the value of sentient souls to devils and demons of this world and a conflict between the devil lord of secrets and lies and the keeper of souls who presides over thought and progression.

Offline Coryn

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Re: The Devil of Murkwood
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2022, 11:55:20 AM »
Well I am glad to see you have l these details thought out. You don't need to include them all of course, but they do a lot towards clarifying my questions.

It's just something to keep in mind while reading. You always have to consider what is the necessary amount of detail to add in order to keep the reader in the loop but still keep them engaged in the action. We all struggle with it from time to time. I wish you luck on the next chapter!

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF