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 Thoughts of a Dying Archon

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scarfaced
Slave
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PostSubject: Thoughts of a Dying Archon   Fri Dec 07 2012, 23:26

Hey, I'm new here and thought a better way of introducing myself would be by showing some of the writing I've done. This is just a short piece, suggestions and criticisms are definitely welcome. Sorry if there are any inaccuracies, I'm pretty new to this. Thanks for reading.

(And yes, the title is inspired by Muse..)

***

Thoughts of a Dying Archon

People never seem to believe me when I tell them that there were once birds in the Dark City, great flocks of them, flying high in the far eyries. There were great vast rocs and smaller birds barely the size of your head, all free and pure, ripped through from the stolen matter of the universe beyond. Of course there were once birds; where else do the Scourges get their wings? Sometimes you still see them, roosting in the spiralling towers and overlooks of this city, hiding from the aerial hunters that now live in this sky, this void above us. Once, many thousands of years ago now, when we were all young, we laid traps for the birds, their claws getting caught and twisted in the netting. I took one in my hands, felt its warmth and its fear. I wrung its neck, hearing the crack of its vertebrae reverberating in my ears. We drank in the pain, and drank in the warm blood from the lifeless bodies. It was sickening but glorious in the horror of it, being able to sense life falling from your arms. We laughed at the birds and the freedom they thought they had.

This city whispers, and yet it is silent. I have lived for a very long time now, and I know this city. It is dull now, for all I see is the end. Once it was a great bustle, a port of huge size, filled with travellers between galaxies in realspace, but now it is filled with death and torture. I can feel it around me, like a sick heart beating within a thin ribcage. Many cannot feel it; they only know pain when they see it with their own eyes, but when you have lived as long as I you can feel it all, seeping through you. It is not enough to sustain, but it is a constant in this changing world. Even as I watch, new buildings are erected and new ships float in, carrying their hard-gotten quarry of slaves and infidels. Not long ago, these slaves would have headed directly to my own throne, for my enjoyment. Thousands of them in droves would come, their endless blood and pain the only substance that would fulfil my endless hunger and my steady aging. But it could never continue, I should have realised this. Can you imagine the sight? I would receive a thousand new slaves each day; my entire Kabal dedicated to my survival. And now I sit here alone, in the gutter of Low Commorragh.

Every waking moment, I can feel my soul draining away. I age every second. I simply have to wait for She Who Hungers to take me, and I know that she will, for it is the destiny of our kind. This is the future of the Dark Eldar: sick wretches living off the eternal pain that flows through the City and the pain from self injury. Arms scarred from knives in some misguided attempt to feel some sort of pain, which is never enough, for you cannot feed from your own soul. One day, those not slaughtered in the ‘glory’ of battle or the arenas will end up like me, unable to be kept alive, no matter how many slaves die in order for you to live, too far gone for even the Haemonculi to revive. They cannot mend a soul, only the withered flesh.

The whispers are getting louder. They are calling me from the Warp, telling my time is up. They count the seconds for me. I am afraid for the first time in my life, afraid of what is to come, afraid of the eternal torture of death, afraid of the rotting of my corpse, afraid of the endless emptiness. The fear is unexpected, since I have always been taught to fear nothing, and yet here I am, crying in the gutter about to fade away into an empty husk. If my Kabal could see me now, they would laugh at this wimpering mess, and yet I don’t care.

It is the end, and I don’t care anymore. I am free, finally.
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Kinnay
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts of a Dying Archon   Fri Dec 07 2012, 23:48

First of all, let me welcome you to the Dark City! I'm sure you'll enjoy your time here. Smile

This being said, you have written a nice story! It is interesting to witness an Archon on the other end of things; once proud and terrifying, now but a husk of his former self, accepting the inescapable fate that expects all of his kin, eventually. In my opinion, your story really became something solid in the last two paragraphs. I as a reader could really feel the thoughts of the Archon. I want to know how he has gotten into that situation. I want to know in what time that piece is set. I want to know what he has experienced in his life. You have gotten my interest with these last two paragraphs, and that is already half the way to a good story all by itself.

My point of critique, however, is this: why talk about birds in the first half of the text? Why start with an inconsequential anecdote of killing a bird and relishing the pain of its death throws. You would agree that an Archon would torture and kill a dozen slaves or more for his entertainment, wouldn't you, so why bother with a bird?
My suggestion is to change the intro. I get that you want the analogy of "birds = freedom", but I fear you might have forced it into your story withouth the right frame.

You're on to something good, though. Keep it up! Smile

Kinnay


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Cavash
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts of a Dying Archon   Sat Dec 08 2012, 15:51

Welcome to the Dark City, scarfaced.

A very nice piece of writing, that was. I certainly got the feeling of grimdark through the words of the fading Archon. It feels very much like An Interview With a Vampire, if you have ever read it, especially the mention of the birds at the beginning.

I feel like sharing my view on the birds; it's just my own musings, but many different viewpoints are good. I feel like the birds are there to juxtapose the early youth and now advanced age of the character. It could be to show how Commorragh is ever shifting, and that even those at the height of power are vulnerable. At the start of his life he was thrilled at the death of a bird, then, with power he was amused at the deaths of thousands. Now, when he feels like he is at the height of Commorrite society, Slaanesh is wringing his neck as he did the bird's many, many cycles ago.

I really did enjoy this work. Keep it up!

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Lady Malys
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts of a Dying Archon   Sat Dec 08 2012, 21:43

Like Cavash, I don't see the birds as a simple metaphor for freedom; for me they evoke a sense of a long life and roots in the ancient history of the city, when it was still home to relatively normal creatures.The Archon remembers witnessing the first stirrings of the discovery of the sustaining power of the suffering of such inconsequential creatures - with what seems to him now like almost a kind of ghoulish innocence - and that makes him old indeed.

Anyway I think that the fact that we've all got different interpretations of what you've written says something good about the story, which I found very atmospheric and evocative Smile

Quote :
I can feel it around me, like a sick heart beating within a thin ribcage.

This line in particular struck me. Not only is it a good metaphor for the city, but it is also all that the Archon himself now has.

One might almost feel sorry ... Almost.

I'll second the call for more of this Archon's history!

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scarfaced
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts of a Dying Archon   Sun Dec 09 2012, 15:11

Thanks everyone for reading and for all the positive feedback, it's good to know you enjoyed it. I was going to talk about my reasoning for the birds at the beginning, but actually maybe it's better how everyone has their own opinion. It's more interesting to see how different people react to different sections, so it's great to hear your responses.

It's interesting that you would say that, Cavash, because I did actually read Interview with the Vampire several years ago; it wasn't at the forefront of my mind as I was writing but I suppose things often affect you subconsciously. I can definitely see what you mean.

I'm quite interested in bringing realism to fantasy situations, so looking at the vulnerabilities of of high-status figures or having a story in a more typical genre, but which just happens to be taking place in a fantasy world such as the Warhammer 40k universe. Hopefully I'll have time to expand on this idea a little more in the near future.
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