The Tale of Kalenor the Fiend Hunter

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Hello everyone! I'm fairly new to this forum, but not new to magic, I've been playing for some time now. And the thing that's always fascinated me more than anything about magic is the lore. The multiverse is one of the most richly cultured places ever created in fiction, in my opinion. But the awesome set of Innistrad (probably my favorite since Ravnica) without a story to go with it is just criminal. Sure there's flavor text, but that falls short of telling a single, coherent story. So I thought I'd write one! I'm rather proud of it myself, I've been writing for awhile and this is the first time I've really "applied my talents" to anything. Below is the Prologue, and I plan on posting another chapter every weekend. Even if no one likes it and I get hate mail. Because, you know what, it's the mo'-truckin' internet. So neh :P

Constructive criticizm is appreciated above all else, but hate mail is read too. And of course for the endless amounts of people that say 'Cool story bro' (literally), I... probably wont care that much.

A quick word about the formatting: I type my stuff on MS word mostly because it's got more tools, and because it's easier to edit, so if it's difficult to read on this forum, I do appologize.

So here it is! the first chapter (or more appropriately, prologue) of The Tale of Kalenor the Fiend Hunter.

 


               

Draft 1
Prologue

                Innistrad is not a safe plane, nor has it ever been. Ghoul callers haunt the shadows and skaab stitchers apply their wretched trade, even as werewolves haunt the corners of the world, and vampires cull their human ‘herds’. In the deepest, darkest corners of the world, men seek to summon demons, hoping to satisfy their own selfish desires. And among it all, the power of the angel Avacyn, once the savior of mankind, begins to fade.


                The last beacon of hope for the brave humans of Innistrad, the church of Avacyn fights to protect the world from these horrors. But while it’s brave and loyal knights the Cathars beat back the darkness, the angel Avacyn, once the source of light and hope on what would otherwise be a deathly plane, disappears, and the elder white magics begin to dim. But the Cathars fight on, preserving hope that Avacyn will return and the balance will be righted once again on Innistrad. It is with one of these Cathars that our story begins, with a young man named Kalenor. Trekking the dark corners and deathly hallows that make up so much of Innistrad, Kalenor is known by his colleagues as a Fiend Hunter. He goes from town to town with the symbol of the church on his sword, preaching not of hope or belief, but of action.


After hearing tales of a werewolf so mighty it threatened the entire forest, Kalenor eventually finds himself in the foothills of Gatstaf, deep in the forests of Kessig. His hope was to purge the forest of a werewolf by the name of Longtooth, who had made the forest his home, regularly destroying the small towns and villages that struggled to carve out their existence. The tales told about the creature are terrible indeed, the occasional survivor telling of how he leveled buildings, mauled families, and set entire towns to ruin. Any attempt to resist the beast was met with death, and men soon fled before the beast’s presence. Kalenor tracked the monster deep into the forest, and was now sitting outside what he suspected was its den, deciding how to proceed.


                Having been traveling for weeks in the hope of besting this creature, Kalenor was not in the fairest of shape. Exhausting most of his rations long ago, he relied primarily on alenor for substance, a concoction akin to wine drunk by vampires and given on occasion to more prized humans. The drink reinvigorated the body and sharpened the mind, so it was all the more pleasurable for the vampire to feel its prey fall victim to its hunger. Kalenor’s clothes were travel stained and had long-lost their original colors in favor of an earthy brown and green. Kalenor himself was not any better looking than his garment, having not shaved or bathed in several days. His long hair hung shaggy down the back of his neck and over the sides of his head, having been cut over his face only to ensure easy visibility in case of a fight. Stubble covered his chin. His lean, tall body, while always thin, began to take on a gaunt appearance from days without real sustenance. His silver-tipped sword was attached to his belt, the only part of his appearance that indicated any sort of attachment to the church or, indeed, to society. It still shone brightly, always seeming to catch the light. He had enchanted it for strength, knowing a fair amount of arcane white magics.


                Kalenor’s brown eyes burned with anger and determination as he crouched in the treeline before the creature’s den. He’d been to several of the villages Longtooth had ‘visited’, and seen the destruction. In most cases, all that was left was stone foundations, charred framing and decaying skeletons. As he plotted on how to approach his prey, Kalenor disregarded the old solution he’d been taught by his elders: to wait for day and the creature’s transformation. While it took the presence of the moon to change a lycanthrope to wolf form, it took the presence of daylight to change it back. Longtooth remembered this piece of lore and was careful to avoid daylight, retreating far, far back into his cave on sunny days, lest he change into his vulnerable human form.  While some form of trickery would have been useful, Kalenor couldn’t think of anything to fool this intelligent creature into daylight. With all those factors in mind, he arrived at the simple conclusion that he needed to attack head on, before night time. Kalenor well knew that while walking into a creatures den was never a good idea, it was much more appealing than waiting for Longtooth to come out at night, when he was fed strength by the moon.


                His mind made up, Kalenor stood and a wolf howled in front of him. Gripping the pommel of his sword, Kalenor looked for the culprit. In these woods, no animal was innocent. Unable to locate the creature, he cautiously walked towards the entrance to the den, all anger forgotten and replaced by caution. From inside a shuffling sound met his ears, than something that sounded suspiciously like a snort, then silence. Drawing his sword, Kalenor braced himself for the darkness, and walked inside.


                Like stepping into an ink pot, the darkness was instantaneous. Even with the light at the angle it was, the cave’s grove was well shaded. Walking further in, Kalenor remembered his training and stopped relying on his eyes. Tuning his ears and smelling the air, he put his other senses to work. He judged the cave to be anywhere from twenty to one hundred feet deep, basing the assumption on the echo of water falling a few dozen feet away. He still couldn’t see or hear anything, and he hoped he’d gotten lucky: maybe the beast was asleep! But a few more feet in and that hope was shattered by a long, low growl from the back of the cave. Whatever was back there, it knew Kalenor was in its lair. Deciding that the charade was over, Kalenor shouted into the darkness, ‘Show yourself, you feral beast!’ He didn’t let any of his fear creep into his voice. Truthfully, Kalenor had no idea if he’d be able to best or even see the monster before it got the better of him. Holding his sword high in the air, he shouted Galien! And a light blazed from the jewel embedded in his pommel.


                The sudden burst of light spurred movement all around Kalenor. The walls of the cave were illuminated, revealing moss and slimy rock, as well as dozens of creatures, werewolf and wolf alike, all snarling with malice in their eyes. Confident now that he could see his foes, Kalenor smiled grimly. Holding his sword point out towards the crowd of wolves, he shouted, “Come, you foul beasts! Have none of you the courage to face but a lone Cathar in battle?” The wolves screamed and snarled in response, but stayed at the very outer edge of the circle of light that emanated from the sword. When Kalenor advanced, they stepped back, fearing the bright beacon of Avacyn that had stepped into their cave. For indeed the jewel in the pommel of Kalenor’s sword was something to be feared: it had been blessed by Avacyn herself in another time, handed down generation to generation and eventually to Kalenor from his mentor, Tolinar the Grey.


                A monumental roar sounded from the back of the cave, and Kalenor turned back towards it. Finally, he had his prey. Out of the deepest darkness, where the blackness was still black, stormed a gargantuan creature. Physically it was a werewolf, but it stood well over fifteen feet tall, restricted to all fours in fear of knocking its head against the top of the cave. Its hair was dirty and matted, with chunks missing in places. Its teeth were stained with remnants of old kills, each one the length of one of Kalenor’s hands. The other wolves howled in triumph, sure they were about to see the shining light in front of them extinguished by their leader. Kalenor just laughed. “Come now, you beast, you brute!” He shouted at Longtooth. “Make all my days of journeying worthwhile! Approach, and meet your end!”


Longtooth ran forward and screamed in response, not even hesitating at the rim of light Kalenor’s gem was creating. He was enraged: this outsider, this… man thought he had the ability to come into his lair, taunt his pack, and live? Without thinking twice, Longtooth coiled his fifteen foot, shaggy haired frame and pounced.


Anticipating the move before it occurred, Kalenor was already rolling, flying out the way as the massive creature landed where he’d been standing only half a second before. Rolling to the side of the cave, Kalenor was up before Longtooth had realized what had happened. Beheading a wolf that came too close to him as he landed, Kalenor ran towards the werewolf and dove towards his hind legs, hoping to hamstring him. But the wolf was too smart, and turned around faster than Kalenor thought possible, batting at him with his front claws. Retreating slightly, Kalenor caught his breath and quickly looked for an advantage. He was cornered in the back of the cave, but the other wolves were still held at bay by his sword’s light, their animalistic fears getting the better of them. Maybe if he could get Longtooth to pounce again…


“Is that the best you can do?” Kalenor laughed, taunting the werewolf. “I’ve faced pups more difficult than you!” Longtooth roared again, than pounced.


Time seemed to slow down as Kalenor responded. As soon as he’d seen the wolf’s muscles coil, he’d been moving, running towards the beast even as it jumped towards him. Unfortunately, Longtooth jumped too far, anticipating every action but his would-be-dinner running towards him. Kalenor immediately fell backwards as the wolf passed over him, landing on his butt than on his back, his momentum sliding him forward a little on the slippery cave floor. As Liontooth flew over him, Kalenor grazed the silver tip of his sword over his chest, slicing open the skin and cutting through hair. Not enough to seriously injure with a normal sword, but wolves were deathly afraid of silver, for good reason.  Longtooth yelped and crashed into the back wall of the cave, screaming from the pain of the silver-caused wound. Kalenor got up and approached triumphantly, wielding his silver sword and hand of death. The creature looked at him with an eye full of hatred, and Kalenor struck the final blow.


Pulling his sword out of Longtooth’s chest, Kalenor realized the danger had not yet passed. The ring of wolves was stunned, surprised by the death of their pack-leader that they thought was infallible. Then one howled. Then another.  A werewolf snarled and Kalenor felt the first traces of panic through what would have otherwise been the pride of a hard-won victory. Without hesitation, he sliced through the ring and sprinted towards the exit, sliding on the slippery floor. Behind him, the pack turned around and charged.


With the light of the entrance ahead of him, Kalenor looked back to see the two dozen wolves and dozen or so werewolves gaining on him. He slipped, fell, got back up and continued sprinting towards the exit as the pack followed, screaming for revenge. As he ran out of the cave, he praised Avacyn when the werewolves abruptly stopped, afraid of exposing themselves to sunlight. The other wolves had no such inhibitions, however. Streaming into the sunlight in a river of salivating, black-furred bodies, they were still on his heels. Turning around and beheading one that had jumped towards him, Kalenor felt renewed confidence. The oppressive darkness of the cave was gone, and with it, the wolves’ advantage. Attacking the pack as the werewolves watched from inside the cave, Kalenor killed three of the beasts before they’d realized they were no longer chasing him.


“I’ll take you all on!” He roared, lashing out. Cutting into the pack, he killed four more. The wolves were simply no match for his sword. But it was an impossible battle. With a partner, Kalenor thought he would have overcome the wolves easily, but against him alone there were simply too many. Two bit into his legs, which he promptly killed, only to have two more take their place. He fell to his knees, and the wolves were on top of him. As he felt the dog’s hot breath and fur against his skin and as they tore at him with their mouths and claws, Kalenor summoned the last of his strength.


“Avacyn!” He roared, desperate, and the presence of the wolves lessened as he summoned magic.


In the pommel of his sword the jewel hissed and glowed, and spit out what could only be described as lightning. Four of the wolves yelped and fell dead as they were hit in the heart by the bolts; the others jumped away, not foolish enough to stay so close to the death-bringer. Slowly, Kalenor stood.


The wolves around him growled and barked, but they were significantly frightened enough to avoid attacking him again. Of the original twenty or so, ten remained. From inside the cave, the werewolves howled. Kalenor stepped towards the tree line and the wolves backed off. But the message in their eyes was clear: this wasn’t over.


Turning away and running into the trees, Kalenor didn’t clearly realize where he was going. All he knew was he needed to get away. He had to recover his strength before nightfall. Come nightfall… it wasn’t a pleasant thought. He’d killed many, but he couldn’t kill a forest’s worth of wolves. As he sprinted, his adrenaline eventually wore down. He was exhausted. Stopping briefly, he noted the sun was already midway through its descent, only a few hours off of the horizon. Taking a long draught of alenor, which left his supply dangerously low, he kept running.


After a time, Kalenor realized that he’d passed into a town. Relief swept through him, and he sat down on a fountain in the center square. None of the inhabitants so much as spared a glance. Panting and resting, Kalenor realized that the sun had almost set: he’d probably run for four or five hours. Praising the vampiric liqueur that had made it possible, Kalenor took a moment to get his bearings.


The town was small, only twelve or fifteen houses and shops, a couple of which looked abandoned. The people wandering the square around him looked healthy enough, but didn’t spare a second glance. Both signs alarmed Kalenor. The idea that people could live healthily in the center of these woods (for they were still fairly close to the center) entailed that they knew something the other villages didn’t; the fact that they were only four or five hours from Longtooth’s den and hadn’t been attacked by his pack also raised a few question marks. And the fact that they didn’t blink an eye at a knight-Cathar running into their town confirmed the thought: there was definitely something strange going on.


Kalenor looked around for a church. Everyone on Innistrad worshipped the same deity, no matter where they were, but the symbol of Avacyn was nowhere to be found. After a thorough examination, Kalenor found it on the door of a building on the edge of town. It looked long abandoned, but he opened the door and walked inside.


The first observation he made was that the church may very well have been long abandoned. Cobwebs adorned tiers and rows of benches, most of which were scattered around the room or piled against the walls without much order. At the head of the room was a grimy window looking out into the trees, set behind an altar with the symbol of Avacyn inscribed on it. At the altar stood a short, wizened old man in the robes of a priest.


Sighing quietly in relief at the familiar sight of a reverend behind his altar, Kalenor approached the priest and knelt in respect. “Reverend, I require some assistance. I’m pursued by the Pack, and I’m sure they’ll be here by nightfall. You must warn your villagers! I will ward them off as best I can, but I really would appreciate some assistance.” He paused and looked up at the priest. The old man hadn’t moved. He was staring at the entrance and breathing quietly, and gave no sign he’d heard or even noticed Kalenor. Kalenor stood and walked up to the altar, concerned.


“Reverend,” he said hesitantly, “are you all right?” The man still didn’t move.


Taking another step forward, Kalenor stopped when the reverend began to move his head. The old man looked at him with eyes full of compassion and sorrow, and said “Get out of here, son of Avacyn. Go far away and never return. This land… there is no longer any place for Avacyn in the wilds such as these.”


Kalenor stepped back and knelt again, lest he risk offending the old man. “What troubles you, Reverend?” he asked quietly, hoping for a peaceful answer but not able to devise one himself.


The man continued to stare at the entrance of the church and bowed his head. “This place… is damned, young Cathar.” He said slowly, quietly. “At night these people transform from dangerous to deadly. They are lycanthropes, son, every last one of them,” he paused a moment, then continued, “Including me.”


Kalenor stood, confused, and sat at one of the benches still close to the altar. “I don’t… understand, Reverend.” He said. Confused as he was, disheartened would be a better word for his emotions. He, like all Cathars, had been raised under the law of Avacyn, which proclaimed that a Cathar’s body was holy. It could not be tainted, before or after death, whatever the cause or circumstances.


“The world is a different place, son of Avacyn.” The old man said quietly, almost wheezing. “I thought as you did.  A Cathar’s duty was to destroy evil, not become it. But it would seem I was wrong, that we were all wrong.”


“For the past month, these people have been… changing. At first I attributed it to the forest working its way into these people. But someone came back bitten by one of the wolves, and it spread, like a… virus. We were a small town, and close to each other, like a family. But I watched as neighbor attacked neighbor, as wolves tore apart our children in the streets… and I was not strong enough to prevent the town from becoming changed. The villagers are now warped, embracing this evil as their passion. Every night they’ve attacked me, and every night I’ve held them off… but no one lasts forever. I was bitten. At first I didn’t feel anything, but then I started to change. Even now, I can feel the rage of the wolf gnawing at my consciousness, telling me to rise up and attack you!” The priest pushed the altar away and it fell to the ground, the symbol of Avacyn branded on the front facing the dust of the floor. The old man was panting, and Kalenor stood and backed away, alarmed by the display.


“Go…” the priest said, suddenly tired, sitting on the end of a seat. “Tell those that will listen that Ulvenwald is worse than lost, and if it is not already known, that the old wards are failing. You can no longer count on Avacyn’s blessing to protect you. Quickly! Go!”


And as Kalenor ran to the door, he looked back and saw the priest changing, his skin growing hair, his back arching and his hands turning to claws. He screamed, and the scream turned to a roar.


Running outside, Kalenor saw that the village was deserted, and that the sun had all but set over the treetops. Outside of the town, he could hear the snarls of wolves and from several of the houses there were noises of things crashing, breaking. Reaching for his pocket, Kalenor downed the last of his alenor and tossed the bottle away. Setting his sights to the west as the sun set, where he knew he’d find sanctuary, he ran.


As he left the town, doors burst open to shaggy forms, eyes glinted in the woods, and howls ripped through the night.


 
               

Draft 2

Prologue

                Even in the best of times, Innistrad was never a safe plane. Since the conception of magic, ghoul callers amassed armies of unhallowed corpses. Vampires fed on the fathers of fathers, and fed again on the sons. Twisted skaab-stitchers longed for power, creating terrible abominations from the deceased and enchanting them to fight in the spellcaster’s name. Woodland magic brought forth werewolves, creatures of power and strength so great and terrible villages flee before their presence. Geists, the tortured spirits of the dead, haunted and tortured their former families and friends. And in the deepest, darkest corners of the world, humans sought to summon demons, hoping to serve their own selfish desires.


                Amid it all, the last beacon of hope for the ill-fated humans of Innistrad, was the church of Avacyn. Providing a weapon against the dark, the church’s powerful angels and loyal knights -the Cathars- fought to keep back the darkness, aiding those that would otherwise be destroyed. The Cathars believed strongly in the power of their guardian angels, and that they were the source of all protective magic. Highly religious, they served the church as warriors of the state, often praying to the angels before a fight for protection and strength. It is with one of these Cathars that our story begins, with a young inquisitor named Kalenor.


                Kalenor had just celebrated his twenty-second birthday on the road, noting the date as it approached, and forgetting it just as quickly as it passed. Highly religious like every member of the church, he made a point to stop and pray twice a day, usually as he got up in the early morning and when he laid back down to sleep in the evening. As he traveled, if he happened upon an altar in the wilderness, he did his best to restore it to its proper condition, praying for protection at it as well. Prayers on Innistrad carried weight, as he well knew; the proper blessing from an angel and a caravan could sleep without a watchman its entire journey.


                As he traveled the lands, Kalenor found himself in the parish of Erdwal. He’d spent several nights there, resting in towns and attempting to leave them better than he found them, which in many cases, was no easy task. As often as not, he found himself killing werewolves or beheading the undead.


Whenever he stopped, Kalenor always listened to the tales of travelers at the inns and hostels he stayed in. Through the stories, he learned that many were refugees from the forests of Kessig, to the east. They told tales of werewolves terrorizing villages and of geists haunting residents during the night. Some people spoke of worse things than wolves and ghosts in the trees: spirits manifesting themselves as giants, destroying swaths of forest and entire towns in their mundane wanderings.


After a few days of listening to the refugees, Kalenor began to hear more and more about Longtooth; a fearsome werewolf, massive in stature, cruelly intelligent, destroying every village he and his howlpack came across, leaving nothing but blood behind him. Once he’d been a man named Brutus, a hunter in the forest, until he’d wandered into Ulvenwald and never come out. Summoned by the Erdwal priest and asked to help the few villages left with their werewolf problem, Kalenor couldn’t refuse. More than just from a sense of duty, he’d grown up on the edge of the Kessig forest as a farmer and watched from a dark corner as his mother had been killed and devoured in a werewolf attack. Personal revenge aside, he knew werewolves were capable hunters and horrifying killers, indiscriminate in their slaughter.


Now crouching in the tree line outside Longtooth’s den, Kalenor considered his situation. He’d tracked the creature for two weeks, following increasingly old trails and in several places, resorting to guesswork and prayer for guidance towards his target. His garment was torn and travel stained, having long forsaken its original white coloring and accepting a more earthy brown. His matted hair was hanging just below his hunched shoulders. Stubble with the consistency of sandpaper lined his face. He’d discarded his travel pack two days ago, preferring to carry what little supplies he had left in his pockets. Hung loose around his waist was a silver-tipped sword, the symbol of Avacyn’s collar engraved on the blade, the blessed jewel in the pommel glinting as it caught the light. The sword was the only thing remarkable about him at all, really. Aside from it and a silver amulet around his neck, Kalenor could have been mistaken for a forest wanderer, or maybe a lost spirit. In his pocket was a small vial of alenol, which was all that remained of his meager supplies. Created by Stensian vampires and given to their more prized human stock, a single draught of the substance brought the equivalent of a good night’s sleep and perhaps a fair meal, reinvigorating the body and sharpening the mind. As such it was prized beyond measure in humans, and the price reflected that. He’d nearly had to cut off his right leg to obtain it, a price not uncommon in the body trade of Nephailia.


Kalenor’s bronze eyes burned with determination. He’d been to several of the villages Longtooth had ‘visited’ before he had reached the den, and seen the destruction the werewolf had caused. In most cases, all that was left were stone foundations, charred framing and rotting corpses (thankfully, ghouls were not as much of a problem in Kessig). As he plotted on how to approach his prey, Kalenor disregarded the old solution he’d been taught by his elders: to wait for the creature’s transformation. While it took the presence of the moon to forcibly change a lycanthrope to wolf form, no one was sure what was needed to change back. The nearest assumption one could make was that it required an effort of will, and one thing was certain from the destruction: Longtooth definitely enjoyed being in his wolf form too much to want to change back. After further thought, Kalenor also discarded the idea of waiting for the wolf to come out of his den. If Longtooth was smart (which he was), he wouldn’t venture out of his cave during the day, when he was more vulnerable. While not particularly affected by the sun, werewolves were fed strength by the moon. A strong werewolf by day was an invincible werewolf by night. That left only one option: attack while Liontooth was still vulnerable.


                Planting his sword in the ground in front of him and kneeling in front of him, Kalenor prayed to Avacyn for strength. Despite the angel having been silent for so many months, faith still held power, he was certain of it. “O guardian angel, lady of Innistrad!” He called out, putting power into his words, as if he were casting a spell. “Please, protect me in this battle. Let my sword run straight, and my aim run true. And should I perish, protect my body, and my soul. I fight in your name, and in your stead. O’ Guardian of Hope, protect me!” Withdrawing his sword from the ground without further hesitation, Kalenor started towards the cave. Somewhere behind him, a wolf howled.


                Storming into the cave, Kalenor brandished his sword in front of him and shouted, “Longtooth! Come out and fight I who would destroy you!” Raising his weapon up, he shouted “Galien!” and the jewel in the pommel blazed to life, illuminating the dark corners of the cave as if the sun had descended from the sky. Around him, the white light revealed slimy rock walls and row upon row of wolves, both lycanthrope and normal.  They were snarling, barking, preparing to pounce on the man that had intruded into their dwelling. Kalenor’s eyes widened at the sight. He couldn’t count all of the feral creatures, there were just too many. But holding onto his faith in Avacyn, he gripped the pommel in the sword and swung at the nearest monster. The wolf yelped as its head was cut off. The other wolves charged, eyes bright and mouths open at the prospect of their soon-to-be meal.


                Kalenor shouted something incoherent and jumped at the beasts. His silver sword glinting, even the most minor of wounds was enough to seriously injure the wolves. Slicing off a paw then turning and stabbing into a werewolf that had jumped on him from the side, blood and hair flew everywhere. In the midst of the fray, Kalenor continued to shout. “Come out, Longtooth, you coward! Will you have your pack be killed so you have a moment more to live?” From the back of the cave, a roar sounded in response. Kalenor continued to fight, slashing and stabbing. He silently thanked Avacyn for his blessing: three times he had already caught a wolf about to snap its jaws shut around his legs or body, only to have its head jerked aside at the last moment as if it had hit an invisible wall. He hoped it would last.


                Twirling his body with both hands on his sword, Kalenor made a wide circle around him, and the wolves backed off, not attacking again. They retreated a small distance to make a circle. Glancing down, Kalenor saw that he’d slain many, and silently thanked the angels again. While he’d decapitated some and stabbed through others, many of the wolves had died from cuts and scratches. Some of the ones that had retreated were also nursing small wounds, some small enough that they amounted to little more than a shallow cut. Such was the power of enchanted silver.


                From the back of the cave came another roar. “Come out and fight, Longtooth!” Kalenor shouted at him, walking forward. “Do I have to come and fetch you like a dog?”


                Another roar sounded and Longtooth slowly paced forward, a huge shaggy mass of muscle and hair.  He was restricted to his four paws for fear of hitting his head on the ceiling when he jumped or moved. He was enraged. This… man thought he had the ability to come into his cave, slaughter his pack, and live? He roared again, bared his teeth in a snarl, and pounced.


                Anticipating the move, Kalenor jumped aside, rolling as he hit the floor, feeling the push of the air generated by Longtooth’s movement. Bowling into the line of wolves at the side of the cave, he heard them snarling and promptly engaged them. He heard Longtooth roar again and jumped once more, breaking his dual with the werewolf and four wolves he had formerly engaged. Longtooth skidded to a stop next to them, and howled. The wolves all around the cave jumped back into the fight.


Parrying blows and casting out at the wolves with his sword, Kalenor fought back. Longtooth snarled and jumped into the fray, swiping at his lesser kin as he tried to get close to Kalenor.


In full retreat, it was all Kalenor could do to fend off the blows aimed towards him. Every time Longtooth struck, he was forced to roll backward, out of range of the massive claws. Finally, there was nowhere else to back up. Cornered against the wall of the cave, Kalenor fought against the ring of wolves surrounding him, cutting at the mass of fur. But he knew it was a hopeless gesture: Before long the wolves had completely encompassed him, forming a wall of teeth and eyes. Behind them, Longtooth’s eyes glinted with malice. As muscles tensed and the wall prepared for a final attack, Longtooth roared. The pack backed down, and Kalenor realized with a burst of certainty that Longtooth wanted the kill. With nowhere to maneuver, Kalenor played his last desperate card.


Running towards Longtooth even as the wolf jumped towards him, Kalenor allowed himself to fall back, landing with his feet and lower legs folding underneath him, momentum carrying him forward on the slippery rock of the floor. Before Longtooth knew what had happened, Kalenor was underneath him. With all his strength, he pushed his sword up into the massive belly above him, piercing flesh as if it were butter.


Longtooth’s snarl changed to a surprised bark, and he yowled as he twisted in the air, colliding with the wall. Writhing in pain on the floor, he roared and screamed. With his last breath, he issued a howl loud enough to make the cave ceiling shake. Then he stopped moving and was silent.


Kalenor knew if he stayed slightly longer, he’d see the wolf shrink back down to his original human form. But slightly longer was too soon. Their alpha no longer holding them back, the pack that had formed the ring around the battle growled, hackles raised and teeth exposed as they prepared to avenge the death of their leader. What was more, more wolves were streaming into the cave. A werewolf accompanied them here or there, but it was mostly wolves, dozens of them.


Through his pride, Kalenor knew he couldn’t take all the wolves; such a thought would be suicidal. He had to get out of the cave and do… what? He wasn’t sure. But getting out of the cave seemed like a reasonable first step.


Running towards the entrance, Kalenor cut himself a path. His wards were still working, luckily, but each time a wolf tried to bite him, it got a little bit closer. Even magic had its limits, he quickly reminded himself. As he stepped outside, searing pain shot through his body, striking out from his right leg. Looking down he saw that his luck had run out. A wolf had attached it’s jaws to his leg, and was hanging on. Butting the creature in the head with his sword, Kalenor saw it fall to the ground dazed. Then he was surrounded.


The wolves were on top of him. Biting at every bit of flesh they could reach, Kalenor screamed in pain and watched as the last bit of light over his eyes was obscured by wolf flesh…


Then they were gone.


Kalenor coughed and tried to sit up, temporarily ignoring the bites and scratches on his arms and legs, and saw a remarkable sight. Emerging from the trees were three huge, shapeless figures, only distinguishable by their massive mouths, open and salivating like an alligator’s. Each was over fifteen feet tall and covered in bluish white hair. The wolves attacked as a pack, the dozens that Longtooth had summoned as his last act all jumping and biting, trying to bring down these huge creatures that had lumbered into their territory. The creatures swat and screamed loud, high-pitched screams at the wolves. Not thinking of staying and seeing how the fight would end, Kalenor stumbled into the trees while his would-be-killers were distracted.


Not fully aware of where he was running to, Kalenor noticed the sun was almost directly above him, only starting to begin its descent. His mind, hazy from pain, realized that he had no shadow, and then he collapsed, unconscious.


 


Awaking some time later, Kalenor realized the forest was silent, much to his relief. He had no idea how long he’d been unconscious for, but the sun hadn’t sank that much further than when he’d fallen. Sitting up, he realized that most of his pain was gone. Examining his arms and legs, he realized that while there was a lot of blood on him, his wounds had healed. He remembered the observation he’d made before he fell. No shadow. An angel was looking out for him.


Kneeling on the ground, Kalenor gave thanks to the angels for healing him and rewarding his faith. He knew getting anywhere with his wounds would have been an impossibility, even though he would have dared himself to try. Had he ever woken from his brief unconsciousness, that is.


Standing and retrieving his sword, Kalenor began to walk. He didn’t know where he was or where, exactly he was going, but he knew where he needed to go: west. To the edge of the forest, and Nephalia.


Not paying much attention to the precise direction apart from making sure it was generally the right direction, Kalenor was surprised when he wandered into a town. The sun had nearly set. He’d probably walked for four or five hours. While not immensely tired, he still had taken quite a stroll. Temporarily disregarding the fact that he’d probably found the only village within fifty miles, he sat down in the village square and took a look around.


 The town was small, only twelve or fifteen houses and shops, a couple of which looked abandoned. A smithy rang with the sounds of a hammer pounding an anvil, on the far side of the square. Directly in front of Kalenor, a small shop had its door open to customers. Inside, a single man stood behind the counter, staring straight at him. Kalenor stood up and the man raised his lips in a snarl. The door slammed shut, seemingly of its own accord. To the right of the store was a butcher shop, its windows and door boarded shut.


Kalenor shivered. The hair on the back of his neck stood up, and it felt as if he was being watched. Outside of the town, trees rustled in a breeze, pushing leaves through the town. The few people that had been in the square when he arrived had disappeared into their houses. The sky was blood red as the sun set.


Casting around, Kalenor looked desperately for a church. Everyone on Innistrad worshipped the same deity; this town had to have some sort of chapel. He remembered that tonight was a full moon, and a dark suspicion began to gnaw at the back of his mind. He needed answers, and the church was definitely a good place to start.


Finally, he found it: the symbol of the collar, on the door to a building on the outside of town. Hurrying over to it, Kalenor was suddenly a bit apprehensive. The church looked long abandoned, the green paint on the doors peeling, the handles covered with dust. Pushing those thoughts aside, he pulled open the door and walked in.


The first observation he made was that the church may very well have been long abandoned. Cobwebs adorned tiers and rows of benches, most of which were scattered around the room or piled against the walls without much order. At the head of the room was a grimy window looking out into the trees, set behind an altar with the symbol of Avacyn inscribed on it. At the altar stood a short, wizened old man in the robes of a priest.


Sighing quietly in relief at the familiar sight of a reverend behind his altar, Kalenor approached the priest and knelt in respect. “Reverend, I require some assistance. I’m in dire need of supplies and shelter for the night, and more than that, I would like to ask a few questions.” He paused and looked up at the priest. The old man hadn’t moved. He was staring at the entrance and breathing quietly, and gave no sign he’d heard or even noticed Kalenor. Kalenor stood and walked up to the altar, concerned.


“Reverend,” he said hesitantly, “are you all right?” The man still didn’t move.


Taking another step forward, Kalenor stopped when the reverend began to move his head. The old man looked at him with eyes full of compassion and sorrow, and said “Leave this place, son of Avacyn. Go far away and never return. This land… there is no longer any place for Avacyn in the wilds such as these.”


Kalenor stepped back and knelt again, lest he risk offending the old man. “What troubles you, Reverend?” he asked quietly, hoping for a peaceful answer but not able to devise one himself.


The man continued to stare at the entrance of the church and bowed his head. “This place… is damned, young Cathar.” He said slowly, quietly. “At night these people transform from dangerous to deadly. They are lycanthropes, son, every last one of them,” he paused a moment, then continued, “Including me.”


Kalenor stood, and sat at one of the benches still close to the altar. “I don’t… understand, Reverend.” He said, stunned. He couldn’t comprehend what the priest had just said to be true. He, like all Cathars, had been raised under the law of Avacyn, which claimed that a Cathar’s body was holy. It could not be tainted, before or after death, whatever the cause or circumstances.


“The world is a different place, son of Avacyn.” The old man said quietly, almost wheezing. “I thought as you did.  A Cathar’s duty was to destroy evil, not become it. But it would seem I was wrong, that we were all wrong.”


“For the past month, these people have been… changing. At first I attributed it to the forest working its way into these people. But one night someone came back… I don’t know! Changed by one of the wolves, and it spread, like a… virus. We were a small town, and close to each other, like a family. But I watched as neighbor attacked neighbor, as wolves tore apart our children in the streets… and I was not strong enough to prevent the town from becoming changed. The villagers are now warped, embracing this evil as their passion. Every night they’ve attacked me, and every night I’ve held them off… but no one lasts forever. Somehow, they got to me, too. At first I didn’t feel anything, but then I started to change. I can feel the force of the wolf inside me, clawing at me, screaming for control. Even now, I can feel the rage of the wolf gnawing at my consciousness, telling me to rise up and attack you!” The priest pushed the altar away and it fell to the ground, the symbol of Avacyn branded on the front facing the dust of the floor. The old man was panting, and Kalenor stood and backed away, alarmed by the display.


“Go…” the priest said, suddenly tired, sitting on the end of a seat. “Tell those that will listen that Ulvenwald is worse than lost, and if it is not already known, that the old wards are failing. You can no longer count on Avacyn’s blessing to protect you. Quickly! Go!”


And as Kalenor ran to the door, he looked back and saw the priest changing, his skin growing hair, his back arching and his hands turning to claws. He screamed, and the scream turned to a roar.


Running outside, Kalenor saw that the village was deserted, and that the sun had all but set over the treetops. Outside of the town, he could hear the snarls of wolves and from several of the houses there were noises of things crashing, breaking. Reaching for his pocket, Kalenor looked for his alenor but came up empty: he must have dropped it somewhere. Cursing at himself for not putting it in a more secure place, he shouted to Avacyn for strength, and then he ran.


As he left the town, doors burst open to shaggy forms, eyes glinted in the woods, and howls ripped through the night.


 


 
Comments in-line with red ink, because I'm a writing tutor and that's just how I roll. [adjusts spectacles]

 


                Prologue


                Innistrad is not a safe plane, nor has it ever been. Ghoul callers haunt the shadows and skaab stitchers apply their wretched trade, even as werewolves haunt the corners of the world, and vampires cull their human ‘herds’. In the deepest, darkest corners of the world, men seek to summon demons, hoping to satisfy their own selfish desires. And among it all, the power of the angel Avacyn, once the savior of mankind, begins to fade.


                The last beacon of hope for the brave humans of Innistrad, the church of Avacyn fights to protect the world from these horrors. But while its brave and loyal knights--the Cathars--beat back the darkness, the angel Avacyn, once the source of light and hope on what would otherwise be a deathly plane, disappears, Like, what, while the Cathars are fighting? The tense here is weird. and the elder white magics begin to dim. Redundant: see earlier paragraph But the Cathars fight on, preserving hope that Avacyn will return and the balance will be righted once again on Innistrad. It is with one of these Cathars, a young man named Kalenor, that our story begins. Trekking the dark corners and deathly hallows HARRY POTTER IS IN THIS?! that make up so much of Innistrad, Kalenor is known by his colleagues as a Fiend Hunter. He goes from town to town with the symbol of the church on his sword, preaching not of hope or belief, but of action. The beginning is a bit rough, and a bit redundant, and I'm not sure why you've chosen to write everything in the present tense, as it often doesn't quite work. It seems like you're immitating action movies, which isn't bad, but it's worth considering how the atmosphere you're invoking here fits (or doesn't fit) with the plane itself. This already seems less Night of the Living Dead and more Army of Darkness. We'll see where it goes though.


After hearing tales of a werewolf so mighty it threatened the entire forest Of... the whole world?, Kalenor eventually finds himself in the foothills of Gatstaf, deep in the forests of Kessig. His hope was to purge the forest of a werewolf by the name of Longtooth, who had made the forest his home, regularly destroying the small towns and villages that struggled to carve out their existence. The tales told about the creature aretensetensetensetense terrible indeed, the occasional survivor telling of how he leveled buildings, mauled families, and set entire towns to ruin. Any attempt to resist the beast was met with death, and men soon fled before the beast’s presence. Kalenor tracked the monster deep into the forest, and was now sitting outside what he suspected was its den, deciding how to proceed.


               And now you're in the past tense. Huh? Having been traveling for weeks in the hope of besting this creature, Kalenor was not in the fairest of shape. Exhausting most of his rations long ago, he relied primarily on alenor Original creation? But vampires don't drink... wine. for substance, a concoction akin to wine drunk by vampires and given on occasion to more prized humans. The drink reinvigorated the body and sharpened the mind, so it was all the more pleasurable for the vampire to feel its prey fall victim to its hunger. Kalenor’s clothes were travel stained and had long-lost their original colors in favor of an earthy brown and green. Kalenor himself was not any better looking than his garment, having not shaved or bathed in several days. His long hair hung shaggy down the back of his neck and over the sides of his head, having been cut over his face only to ensure easy visibility in case of a fight. Stubble covered his chin. His lean, tall body, while always thin, began to take on a gaunt appearance from days without real sustenance. His silver-tipped sword was attached to his belt, the only part of his appearance that indicated any sort of attachment to the church or, indeed, to society. It still shone brightly, always seeming to catch the light. He had enchanted it for strength, knowing a fair amount of arcane white magics.


                Kalenor’s brown eyes burned with anger and determination as he crouched in the treeline before the creature’s den. He’d been to several of the villages Longtooth had ‘visited’, and seen the destruction. In most cases, all that was left was stone foundations, charred framing and decaying skeletons. As he plotted on how to approach his prey, Kalenor disregarded the old solution he’d been taught by his elders: to wait for day and the creature’s transformation. While it took the presence of the moon to change a lycanthrope to wolf form, it took the presence of daylight to change it back. Gonna have to get Barinellos to fact check this one... Longtooth remembered this piece of lore and was careful to avoid daylight, retreating far, far back into his cave on sunny days, lest he change into his vulnerable human form.  While some form of trickery would have been useful, Kalenor couldn’t think of anything to fool this intelligent creature into daylight. With all those factors in mind, he arrived at the simple conclusion that he needed to attack head on, before night time. Kalenor well knew that while walking into a creatures den was never a good idea, it was much more appealing than waiting for Longtooth to come out at night, when he was fed strength by the moon.


                His mind made up, Kalenor stood and a wolf howled in front of him.What? That sentence is a Skaab sentence; it looks like you stitched two sentences together. Gripping the pommel of his sword, Kalenor looked for the culprit. In these woods, no animal was innocent. Even the squirrels hatched vile schemes in the underbrush. Unable to locate the creature, he cautiously walked towards the entrance to the den, all anger forgotten and replaced by caution. From inside a shuffling sound met his ears, than something that sounded suspiciously like a snort, then silence. Drawing his sword, Kalenor braced himself for the darkness, and walked inside.


                Like stepping into an ink pot, the darkness was instantaneous. Even with the light at the angle it was, the cave’s grove was well shaded. Walking further in, Kalenor remembered his training and stopped relying on his eyes. Tuning his ears and smelling the air, he put his other senses to work. He judged the cave to be anywhere from twenty to one hundred feet deep, basing the assumption on the echo of water falling a few dozen feet away. He still couldn’t see or hear anything, and he hoped he’d gotten lucky: maybe the beast was asleep! But a few more feet in and that hope was shattered by a long, low growl from the back of the cave. Whatever was back there, it knew Kalenor was in its lair. Deciding that the charade was over, Kalenor shouted into the darkness, ‘Um, alright, two words, ah, it's Pricess Diana! No? Ah, Kate Middleton! Oh god I hate this damn game.’ He didn’t let any of his fear creep into his voice. Truthfully, Kalenor had no idea if he’d be able to best or even see the monster before it got the better of him. Holding his sword high in the air, he shouted Galien! And a light blazed from the jewel embedded in his pommel. This is odd. Why doesn't he do this earlier?


                The sudden burst of light spurred movement all around Kalenor. The walls of the cave were illuminated, revealing moss and slimy rock, as well as dozens of creatures, werewolf and wolf alike, all snarling with malice in their eyes. Confident now that he could see his foes, Kalenor smiled grimly. You would think he would be at least mildly surprised at the fact that there isn't just one big werewolve but a whole BUNCH of big werewolves... Holding his sword point out towards the crowd of wolves, he shouted, “Come, you foul beasts! Have none of you the courage to face but a lone Cathar in battle?” The wolves screamed and snarled in response, but stayed at the very outer edge of the circle of light that emanated from the sword. When Kalenor advanced, they stepped back, fearing the bright beacon of Avacyn that had stepped into their cave. For indeed the jewel in the pommel of Kalenor’s sword was something to be feared: it had been blessed by Avacyn herself in another time, handed down generation to generation and eventually to Kalenor from his mentor, Tolinar the Grey.


                A monumental roar sounded from the back of the cave, and Kalenor turned back towards it. Finally, he had his prey. Out of the deepest darkness, where the blackness was still black Uhhuh... >_>, stormed a gargantuan creature. Physically it was a werewolf, but it stood well over fifteen feet tall, restricted to all fours in fear of knocking its head against the top of the cave This could stand to be rephrased. Its hair was dirty and matted, with chunks missing in places. Its teeth were stained with remnants of old kills, each one of his kills? the length of one of Kalenor’s hands. The other wolves howled in triumph, sure they were about to see the shining light in front of them extinguished by their leader. Kalenor just laughed. “Come now, you beast, you brute!” He shouted at Longtooth. “Make all my days of journeying worthwhile! Approach, and meet your end!” What does this mean for his character, though? Like, alright, I guess he's confident, that's what I'm getting from Kalenor so far, but otherwise I got nothing. Does this come from overconfidence? Easy knowledge of his own ability? Bravado? Gimme something to humanize this man.


Longtooth ran forward and screamed in response, not even hesitating at the rim of light Kalenor’s gem was creating. He was enraged: this outsider, this… man thought he had the ability to come into his lair, taunt his pack, and live? NOW WE'RE TALKING YEEEAH (it could still stand to have some buildup with Longtooth as a personality though) Without thinking twice, Longtooth coiled his fifteen foot, shaggy haired frame and pounced.


Anticipating the move before it occurred, Kalenor was already rolling, flying out the way as the massive creature landed where he’d been standing only half a second before. Rolling to the side of the cave, Kalenor was up before Longtooth had realized what had happened. Beheading a wolf that came too close to him as he landed um, might want to linger on this. I know you want it to seem fast, but there are better ways of doing that than just saying it quickly. Like I've said elsewhere, you really need more buildup to these things, Kalenor ran towards the werewolf and dove towards his hind legs, hoping to hamstring him. But the wolf was too smart, and turned around faster than Kalenor thought possible, batting at him with his front claws. Retreating slightly, Kalenor caught his breath and quickly looked for an advantage. He was cornered in the back of the cave, but the other wolves were still held at bay by his sword’s light, their animalistic fears getting the better of them. Maybe if he could get Longtooth to pounce again…


“Is that the best you can do?” Kalenor laughed, taunting the werewolf. “I’ve faced pups more difficult than you!” Longtooth roared again, than pounced.


Time seemed to slow down as Kalenor responded. As soon as he’d seen the wolf’s muscles coil, he’d been moving, running towards the beast even as it jumped towards him. Unfortunately, Longtooth jumped too far. He had anticipated every action; every action, that is, except his would-be-dinner running towards him. This is good, you just need to let the words flow a bit better. Kalenor immediately fell backwards as the wolf passed over him, landing on his butt than on his back, his momentum sliding him forward a little on the slippery cave floor. As Liontooth flew over him, Kalenor grazed the silver tip of his sword over his chest, slicing open the skin and cutting through hair. Not enough to seriously injure with a normal sword, but wolves were deathly afraid of silver, for good reason.  Longtooth yelped and crashed into the back wall of the cave, screaming from the pain of the silver-caused wound. Kalenor got up and approached triumphantly, wielding his silver sword and hand of death. The creature looked at him with an eye full of hatred, and Kalenor struck the final blow.


Pulling his sword out of Longtooth’s chest, Kalenor realized the danger had not yet passed. The ring of wolves was stunned, surprised by the death of their pack-leader that they thought was infallible. Then one howled. Then another.  A werewolf snarled and Kalenor felt the first traces of panic through what would have otherwise been the pride of a hard-won victory. Without hesitation, he sliced through the ring and sprinted towards the exit, sliding on the slippery floor. Behind him, the pack turned around and charged.


With the light of the entrance ahead of him, Kalenor looked back to see the two dozen wolves and dozen or so werewolves gaining on him. He slipped, fell, got back up and continued sprinting towards the exit as the pack followed, screaming for revenge. As he ran out of the cave, he praised Avacyn when the werewolves abruptly stopped, afraid of exposing themselves to sunlight. The other wolves had no such inhibitions, however. Streaming into the sunlight in a river of salivating, black-furred bodies, they were still on his heels. Turning around and beheading one that had jumped towards him, Kalenor felt renewed confidence. The oppressive darkness of the cave was gone, and with it, the wolves’ advantage. Besides the advantage of them being intelligent pack hunters with razor sharp teeth and claws? >_> attacking the pack as the werewolves watched from inside the cave, Kalenor killed three of the beasts before they’d realized they were no longer chasing him.


“I’ll take you all on!” He roared, lashing out. Cutting into the pack, he killed four more. The wolves were simply no match for his sword. But it was an impossible battle. With a partner, Kalenor thought he would have overcome the wolves easily, but against him alone there were simply too many. Two bit into his legs, which he promptly killed, only to have two more take their place. He fell to his knees, and the wolves were on top of him. As he felt the dog’s hot breath and fur against his skin and as they tore at him with their mouths and claws, Kalenor summoned the last of his strength. You are vastly underestimating the power of these wolves...


“Avacyn!” He roared, desperate, and the presence of the wolves lessened as he summoned magic.


In the pommel of his sword the jewel hissed and glowed, and spit out what could only be described as lightning. Four of the wolves yelped and fell dead as they were hit in the heart by the bolts; the others jumped away, not foolish enough to stay so close to the death-bringer. Slowly, Kalenor stood.


The wolves around him growled and barked, but they were significantly frightened enough to avoid attacking him again. Of the original twenty or so, ten remained. From inside the cave, the werewolves howled. Kalenor stepped towards the tree line and the wolves backed off. But the message in their eyes was clear: this wasn’t over.


Turning away and running into the trees, Kalenor didn’t clearly realize where he was going. All he knew was he needed to get away. He had to recover his strength before nightfall. Come nightfall… it wasn’t a pleasant thought. He’d killed many, but he couldn’t kill a forest’s worth of wolves. As he sprinted, his adrenaline eventually wore down. He was exhausted. Stopping briefly, he noted the sun was already midway through its descent, only a few hours off of the horizon. Taking a long draught of alenor, which left his supply dangerously low, he kept running.


After a time, Kalenor realized that he’d passed into a town. Relief swept through him, and he sat down on a fountain in the center square. This is... weird. None of the inhabitants so much as spared a glance. Panting and resting, Kalenor realized that the sun had almost set: he’d probably run for four or five hours. Praising the vampiric liqueur that had made it possible, Kalenor took a moment to get his bearings.


The town was small, only twelve or fifteen houses and shops, a couple of which looked abandoned. The people wandering the square around him looked healthy enough, but didn’t spare a second glance. Both signs alarmed Kalenor. The idea that people could live healthily in the center of these woods (for they were still fairly close to the center) entailed that they knew something the other villages didn’t; the fact that they were only four or five hours from Longtooth’s den and hadn’t been attacked by his pack also raised a few question marks. And the fact that they didn’t blink an eye at a knight-Cathar running into their town confirmed the thought: there was definitely something strange going on. Needs. More. BUILDUP. Desperately.


Kalenor looked around for a church. Everyone on Innistrad worshipped the same deity, no matter where they were, but the symbol of Avacyn was nowhere to be found. After a thorough examination, Kalenor found it on the door of a building on the edge of town. So, what, he just wandered around the village looking at buildings, sort of shoving people aside... or... what? Your sense of time here is just totally weird. A second ago things were totally tense, now he's just walking around investigating a village full of werewolves without a care in the world. It looked long abandoned, but he opened the door and walked inside.


The first observation he made was that the church may very well have been long abandoned. Cobwebs adorned tiers and rows of benches, most of which were scattered around the room or piled against the walls without much order. At the head of the room was a grimy window looking out into the trees, set behind an altar with the symbol of Avacyn inscribed on it. At the altar stood a short, wizened old man in the robes of a priest.


Sighing quietly in relief at the familiar sight of a reverend behind his altar, Kalenor approached the priest and knelt in respect. “Reverend, I require some assistance. I’m pursued by the Pack, and I’m sure they’ll be here by nightfall. You must warn your villagers! I will ward them off as best I can, but I really would appreciate some assistance.” He paused and looked up at the priest. The old man hadn’t moved. He was staring at the entrance and breathing quietly, and gave no sign he’d heard or even noticed Kalenor. Kalenor stood and walked up to the altar, concerned.


“Reverend,” he said hesitantly, “are you all right?” The man still didn’t move.


Taking another step forward, Kalenor stopped when the reverend began to move his head. The old man looked at him with eyes full of compassion and sorrow, and said “Get out of here, son of Avacyn. Go far away and never return. This land… there is no longer any place for Avacyn in the wilds such as these.”


Kalenor stepped back and knelt again, lest he risk offending the old man. “What troubles you, Reverend?” he asked quietly, hoping for a peaceful answer but not able to devise one himself.


The man continued to stare at the entrance of the church and bowed his head. “This place… is damned, young Cathar.” He said slowly, quietly. “At night these people transform from dangerous to deadly. They are lycanthropes, son, every last one of them,” he paused a moment, then continued, “Including me.” This is working. This is working very well. language needs polish but generally speaking you're on the right track.


Kalenor stood, confused, and sat at one of the benches still close to the altar. “I don’t… understand, Reverend.” He said. Confused as he was, disheartened would be a better word for his emotions.Ugh, no, it wouldn't. There's got to be a better word than the wimpy "disheartened." "Stunned" maybe? "He felt his stomach plummet" maybe? Anything better than "Well, this is a bit discouraging, isn't it? Shucks." He, like all Cathars, had been raised under the law of Avacyn, which proclaimed that a Cathar’s body was holy. It could not be tainted, before or after death, whatever the cause or circumstances.Now, this would be really great to introduce earlier, like somewhere in the beginning of the text. What we're really looking for here is some foreshadowing. I like what you're doing, but, again, buildup buildup buildup. You really need to be designing this story from the end backwards and it seems like you're designing it as you move forward. Logical, but it's not going to get you the results you're looking for, I think.


“The world is a different place, son of Avacyn.” The old man said quietly, almost wheezing. “I thought as you did.  A Cathar’s duty was to destroy evil, not become it. But it would seem I was wrong, that we were all wrong.”


“For the past month, these people have been… changing. At first I attributed it to the forest working its way into these people. But someone came back bitten by one of the wolves, and it spread, like a… virus. Alright, here's a biiiig big problem. Lycanthropy is NOT transferred by biting, as far as we know. I think you can play this as him just not quite knowing the truth of the matter, but yeah, tread very, very lightly here. We were a small town, and close to each other, like a family. But I watched as neighbor attacked neighbor, as wolves tore apart our children in the streets… and I was not strong enough to prevent the town from becoming changed. The villagers are now warped, embracing this evil as their passion. Every night they’ve attacked me, and every night I’ve held them off… but no one lasts forever. I was bitten. Welp. See above for why this is an issue... At first I didn’t feel anything, but then I started to change. Even now, I can feel the rage of the wolf gnawing at my consciousness, telling me to rise up and attack you!” The priest pushed the altar away and it fell to the ground, the symbol of Avacyn branded on the front facing the dust of the floor. The old man was panting, and Kalenor stood and backed away, alarmed by the display.


“Go…” the priest said, suddenly tired, sitting on the end of a seat. “Tell those that will listen that Ulvenwald is worse than lost, and if it is not already known, that the old wards are failing. You can no longer count on Avacyn’s blessing to protect you. Quickly! Go!”


And as Kalenor ran to the door, he looked back and saw the priest changing, his skin growing hair, his back arching and his hands turning to claws. He screamed, and the scream turned to a roar.


Running outside, Kalenor saw that the village was deserted, and that the sun had all but set over the treetops. Outside of the town, he could hear the snarls of wolves and from several of the houses there were noises of things crashing, breaking. Reaching for his pocket, Kalenor downed the last of his alenor and tossed the bottle away. That alenor is getting super annoying. It's like Gary Stu Juice. Boring Invincible Hero in a bottle. Setting his sights to the west as the sun set, where he knew he’d find sanctuary, he ran.


As he left the town, doors burst open to shaggy forms, eyes glinted in the woods, and howls ripped through the night.


 



Alright. There are problems with this piece. One is that it totally lacks a main character. What you've got is something that goes around doing things. But let's apply the Bela Swan test to Kalenor. How would you describe Kalenor's personality?

I'm getting... confident? I guess? Uuuh faithful although you only introduce that when it becomes relevant, which is a problem I'll get to in a moment. Uh, rugged? Possibly? [shrug]ged is more like it. I'm just getting absolutely nothing from this guy. Here's why that's unfortunate:

You've got some great character moments in this piece. Longtooth gets one, and Kalenor gets one with the Priest. But both of them fail to live up to their potential because you don't set them up well enough. Now, if we knew, from the start, that faith was a huuuuge part of Kalenor's existence and personality, the moment with the Priest would have a much larger impact upon us as readers. That's really something you want to cultivate, because those moments on their own work really well already, and they're a good example of the kind of powerful effects that you, personally, are able to achieve when you set your mind to it.

Oh, and the Alenor? Get rid of it. Toss it in the garbage. It's turning into Boring Invincible Hero Elixer. Ditto for the sudden Avecyn lightening strike. Unless you can justify that thematically--and I think you can if you give this story a theme based around this question of faith--it just seems kinda contrived. Rely less on Dei Ex Machina. (Dei? Oh, whatever, Icedragon knows Latin, he can correct it.)

So yeah. That's my take on things. You've actually got quite a bit of potential here, and I think I can see glimpses of what this piece is trying to be, but it's just... not... there yet.

That said, are you aware of the Expanded Multiverse? This story needs work, but it's also off to a strong start, and it's the kind of thing we like to see in our archives. You should think about revising it, completing it, and submitting it, and maybe getting involved in our other projects. If you don't get some other reviews from people by tomorrow, say, I'll prod some of the other members of the project over here to give you some constructive criticism. Barinellos and Trolljuju are particularly adept in this area, so keep an eye out for their critique.

And good luck with the revisions and the other chapters. I hope this helped, and that my snarking didn't dishearten you. Haha. Hah. Dishearten.
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
(Click through to view the cover and announcement page)Want to get your work in the Expanded Multiverse? Come join the project! Oh, and check out my blog, Storming the Ivory Tower: making sense of academia, media, and culture twice weekly.
Comments in-line with red ink, because I'm a writing tutor and that's just how I roll. [adjusts spectacles]


OMG Flashbacks to when I used to do forum roleplays. I used to tutor new players' posts exactly like this! Love it!
And good luck with the revisions and the other chapters. I hope this helped, and that my snarking didn't dishearten you. Haha. Hah. Dishearten.


To JasonValdor, I'm sure all this red text and critiquing looks really intimidating and scary, and after having my "test chapter" for the rewritten novel I started this summer (which I have since put on hold until next month) literally TORN APART on these forums... I can reassure you that no matter how much it sucks to see your work get torn apart, pay his feedback some mind, because feedback is great. I didn't like to see my work get riffed line-by-line by that guy (don't remember his username offhand) last summer, but good lord when I rewrite that first chapter it will be so much better because of it. Stick with it and you'll get way better! I promise!

Also, I definitely think this story has promise, but just like every other work ever, it would do well to be revised. I'm writing a novella for a class this coming semester and it's actually a first revision of something I wrote a couple years ago that I won't let people read because it's just that bad :p
"There are probably seven persons, in all, who really like my work; and they are enough. I should write even if I were the only patient reader, for my aim is merely self-expression." ~H.P. Lovecraft

My Colors Are Green and Blue I value respect, honesty, acceptance, and trust. I love to tell stories and to experience new things. At my best, I am compassionate and creative. At my worst, I am detached and submissive. My enemies are Black and White.

Well, you weren't around to see the first short story I wrote for M:EM, Dav. Barinellos and BeastEngine basically flayed me alive. I was so traumatized I stopped writing fiction for like six months.

But you know what? I just finished the first revision on the totally rewritten from scratch version of the story, and it is just so much better now than it was. (And... you should go give me a critique, Dav, since no one else has really given me comments on the second half at all :P)

Actually, a lot of the problems I had are also buildup and foreshadowing problems, and problems with the work not really having a strong theme or characterization. So, I'm really speaking from experience here when I say that those things are absolutely essential.
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
(Click through to view the cover and announcement page)Want to get your work in the Expanded Multiverse? Come join the project! Oh, and check out my blog, Storming the Ivory Tower: making sense of academia, media, and culture twice weekly.
But you know what? I just finished the first revision on the totally rewritten from scratch version of the story, and it is just so much better now than it was. (And... you should go give me a critique, Dav, since no one else has really given me comments on the second half at all :P)


(I will, I swear! I read it the other day on my phone but haven't gotten a chance to sit down and write up comments, since I'm gonna be busy/have limited internet for about another week before I'm back, but I will! By the way, I loved it!)

PS: Don't want to derail the thread too much ;)
"There are probably seven persons, in all, who really like my work; and they are enough. I should write even if I were the only patient reader, for my aim is merely self-expression." ~H.P. Lovecraft

My Colors Are Green and Blue I value respect, honesty, acceptance, and trust. I love to tell stories and to experience new things. At my best, I am compassionate and creative. At my worst, I am detached and submissive. My enemies are Black and White.

Comments in-line with red ink, because I'm a writing tutor and that's just how I roll. [adjusts spectacles]
My comment's will be in green ink, so you can have some holiday cheer, and so I can comment on Keeper's comments. [crushes spectacles]

 


                Prologue


                Innistrad is not a safe plane, nor has it ever been. Ghoul callers haunt the shadows and skaab stitchers apply their wretched trade, even as werewolves haunt the corners of the world, and vampires cull their human ‘herds’. In the deepest, darkest corners of the world, men seek to summon demons, hoping to satisfy their own selfish desires. And among it all, the power of the angel Avacyn, once the savior of mankind, begins to fade.


                The last beacon of hope for the brave humans of Innistrad, the church of Avacyn, fights to protect the world from these horrors. But while its brave and loyal knights--the Cathars--beat back the darkness, the angel Avacyn, once the source of light and hope on what would otherwise be a deathly plane, disappears, Like, what, while the Cathars are fighting? The tense here is weird. and the elder white magics begin to dim. Redundant: see earlier paragraph But the Cathars fight on, preserving hope that Avacyn will return and the balance will be righted once again on Innistrad. It is with one of these Cathars, a young man named Kalenor, that our story begins. Trekking the dark corners and deathly hallows HARRY POTTER IS IN THIS?! No. that make up so much of Innistrad, Kalenor is known by his colleagues as a Fiend Hunter. Doesn't exacty match up with anything we know of Innistrad, but it's close enough to work I suppose. He goes from town to town with the symbol of the church on his sword, preaching not of hope or belief, but of action. The beginning is a bit rough, and a bit redundant, and I'm not sure why you've chosen to write everything in the present tense, as it often doesn't quite work. It seems like you're immitating action movies, which isn't bad, but it's worth considering how the atmosphere you're invoking here fits (or doesn't fit) with the plane itself. This already seems less Night of the Living Dead and more Army of Darkness. We'll see where it goes though. Indeed, there's a few tensing problems.


After hearing tales of a werewolf so mighty it threatened the entire forest Of... the whole world? Werewolfs are the spirit of the forest, it isn't in their nature to threaten it., Kalenor eventually finds himself in the foothills of Gatstaf, deep in the forests of Kessig. His hope was to purge the forest of a werewolf by the name of Longtooth, who had made the forest his home, regularly destroying the small towns and villages that struggled to carve out their existence. The tales told about the creature aretensetensetensetense terrible indeed, the occasional survivor telling of how he leveled buildings, mauled families, and set entire towns to ruin. Any attempt to resist the beast was met with death, and men soon fled before the beast’s presence. Kalenor tracked the monster deep into the forest, and was now sitting outside what he suspected was its den, deciding how to proceed.


               And now you're in the past tense. Huh? Having been traveling for weeks in the hope of besting this creature, Kalenor was not in the fairest of shape. Exhausting most of his rations long ago, he relied primarily on alenor Original creation? But vampires don't drink... wine. for substance, a concoction akin to wine So he's drinking blood then? Like Keeper said, Vampires don't drink wine, but we know they do treat blood like it sometimes drunk by vampires and given on occasion to more prized humans. The drink reinvigorated the body and sharpened the mind, so it was all the more pleasurable for the vampire to feel its prey fall victim to its hunger. Kalenor’s clothes were travel stained and had long-lost their original colors in favor of an earthy brown and green. Kalenor himself was not any better looking than his garment, having not shaved or bathed in several days. His long hair hung shaggy down the back of his neck and over the sides of his head, having been cut over his face only to ensure easy visibility in case of a fight. Stubble covered his chin. His lean, tall body, while always thin, began to take on a gaunt appearance from days without real sustenance. His silver-tipped sword was attached to his belt, the only part of his appearance that indicated any sort of attachment to the church or, indeed, to society. It still shone brightly, always seeming to catch the light. He had enchanted it for strength, knowing a fair amount of arcane white magics.


                Kalenor’s brown eyes burned with anger and determination as he crouched in the treeline before the creature’s den. He’d been to several of the villages Longtooth had ‘visited’, and seen the destruction. In most cases, all that was left was stone foundations, charred framing and decaying skeletons. As he plotted on how to approach his prey, Kalenor disregarded the old solution he’d been taught by his elders: to wait for day and the creature’s transformation. While it took the presence of the moon to change a lycanthrope to wolf form, it took the presence of daylight to change it back. Gonna have to get Barinellos to fact check this one... Barinellos isn't the only guru. To be blunt, this is completely false, for one werewolfs don't even need the moon to transform. Since the transformation is actaully caused by strong emotion they're more than capable of transforming in broad daylight. So it's obvious the sun doesn't hurt them any. Longtooth remembered this piece of lore and was careful to avoid daylight, retreating far, far back into his cave on sunny days, lest he change into his vulnerable human form.  While some form of trickery would have been useful, Kalenor couldn’t think of anything to fool this intelligent creature into daylight. With all those factors in mind, he arrived at the simple conclusion that he needed to attack head on, before night time. Kalenor well knew that while walking into a creatures den was never a good idea, it was much more appealing than waiting for Longtooth to come out at night, when he was fed strength by the moon.

                His mind made up, Kalenor stood and a wolf howled in front of him.What? That sentence is a Skaab sentence; it looks like you stitched two sentences together. Gripping the pommel of his sword, Kalenor looked for the culprit. In these woods, no animal was innocent. Even the squirrels hatched vile schemes in the underbrush. The squirrels are always trying to hatch vile plans. Unable to locate the creature, he cautiously walked towards the entrance to the den, all anger forgotten and replaced by caution. Well he seems to be able to keep cool pretty easily From inside a shuffling sound met his ears, than something that sounded suspiciously like a snort, then silence. Drawing his sword, Kalenor braced himself for the darkness, and walked inside.


                Like stepping into an ink pot, the darkness was instantaneous. Even with the light at the angle it was, the cave’s grove was well shaded. Walking further in, Kalenor remembered his training and stopped relying on his eyes. Tuning his ears and smelling the air, he put his other senses to work. He judged the cave to be anywhere from twenty to one hundred feet deep, basing the assumption on the echo of water falling a few dozen feet away. He still couldn’t see or hear anything, and he hoped he’d gotten lucky: maybe the beast was asleep! But a few more feet in and that hope was shattered by a long, low growl from the back of the cave. Whatever was back there, it knew Kalenor was in its lair. Deciding that the charade was over, Kalenor shouted into the darkness, ‘Um, alright, two words, ah, it's Pricess Diana! No? Ah, Kate Middleton! Oh god I hate this damn game.’ He didn’t let any of his fear creep into his voice. Truthfully, Kalenor had no idea if he’d be able to best or even see the monster before it got the better of him. Holding his sword high in the air, he shouted Galien! If this is being said aloud why is it in italics? And a light blazed from the jewel embedded in his pommel. This is odd. Why doesn't he do this earlier? Because he was hoping to sneak up on the wolf? But yes, it seems odd, it feels too much like you're making this up as you go along. (also explains the lack of foreshadowing Keeper mentions later)


                The sudden burst of light spurred movement all around Kalenor. The walls of the cave were illuminated, revealing moss and slimy rock, as well as dozens of creatures, werewolf and wolf alike, all snarling with malice in their eyes. Confident now that he could see his foes, Kalenor smiled grimly. You would think he would be at least mildly surprised at the fact that there isn't just one big werewolve but a whole BUNCH of big werewolves... This, a hundred times. I was surprised. Holding his sword point out towards the crowd of wolves, he shouted, “Come, you foul beasts! Have none of you the courage to face but a lone Cathar in battle?” The wolves screamed and snarled in response, but stayed at the very outer edge of the circle of light that emanated from the sword. When Kalenor advanced, they stepped back, fearing the bright beacon of Avacyn that had stepped into their cave. For indeed the jewel in the pommel of Kalenor’s sword was something to be feared: it had been blessed by Avacyn herself in another time, handed down generation to generation and eventually to Kalenor from his mentor, Tolinar the Grey. Now known as Tolinar the White.


                A monumental roar sounded from the back of the cave, and Kalenor turned back towards it. Finally, he had his prey. Out of the deepest darkness, where the blackness was still black Uhhuh... >_>, stormed a gargantuan creature. Physically it was a werewolf, but it stood well over fifteen feet tall, restricted to all fours in fear of knocking its head against the top of the cave This could stand to be rephrased. Its hair was dirty and matted, with chunks missing in places. Its teeth were stained with remnants of old kills, each one of his kills? the length of one of Kalenor’s hands. The other wolves howled in triumph, sure they were about to see the shining light in front of them extinguished by their leader. Kalenor just laughed. “Come now, you beast, you brute!” He shouted at Longtooth. “Make all my days of journeying worthwhile! Approach, and meet your end!” What does this mean for his character, though? Like, alright, I guess he's confident, that's what I'm getting from Kalenor so far, but otherwise I got nothing. Does this come from overconfidence? Easy knowledge of his own ability? Bravado? Gimme something to humanize this man. Keeper raises a great point here, I don't really see any real personality in this guy


Longtooth ran forward and screamed odd choice of words in response, not even hesitating at the rim of light Kalenor’s gem was creating. He was enraged: this outsider, this… man thought he had the ability to come into his lair, taunt his pack, and live? NOW WE'RE TALKING YEEEAH (it could still stand to have some buildup with Longtooth as a personality though) Without thinking twice, Longtooth coiled his fifteen foot, shaggy haired frame and pounced.


Anticipating the move before it occurred, Kalenor was already rolling, flying out the way as the massive creature landed where he’d been standing only half a second before. Rolling to the side of the cave, Kalenor was up before Longtooth had realized what had happened. Beheading a wolf that came too close to him as he landed um, might want to linger on this. I know you want it to seem fast, but there are better ways of doing that than just saying it quickly. Like I've said elsewhere, you really need more buildup to these things, Kalenor ran towards the werewolf and dove towards his hind legs, hoping to hamstring him. But the wolf was too smart, and turned around faster than Kalenor thought possible, batting at him with his front claws. Retreating slightly, Kalenor caught his breath and quickly looked for an advantage. He was cornered in the back of the cave, but the other wolves were still held at bay by his sword’s light, their animalistic fears getting the better of them. Maybe if he could get Longtooth to pounce again…


“Is that the best you can do?” Kalenor laughed, taunting the werewolf. “I’ve faced pups more difficult than you!” Longtooth roared again, than pounced. Having Kalenor taunt him like this just makes Longtooth look like a stupid person, rather than the clever wolf you've tried to show him to be.


Time seemed to slow down as Kalenor responded. As soon as he’d seen the wolf’s muscles coil, he’d been moving, running towards the beast even as it jumped towards him. Unfortunately, Longtooth jumped too far. He had anticipated every action; every action, that is, except his would-be-dinner running towards him. This is good, you just need to let the words flow a bit better. Kalenor immediately fell backwards as the wolf passed over him, landing on his butt than on his back, his momentum sliding him forward a little on the slippery cave floor. As Longtooth flew over him, Kalenor grazed the silver tip of his sword over his chest, slicing open the skin and cutting through hair. Not enough to seriously injure with a normal sword, but wolves were deathly afraid of silver, for good reason.  Longtooth yelped and crashed into the back wall of the cave, screaming from the pain of the silver-caused wound. Kalenor got up and approached triumphantly, wielding his silver sword and hand of death. The creature looked at him with an eye full of hatred, and Kalenor struck the final blow.


Pulling his sword out of Longtooth’s chest, Kalenor realized the danger had not yet passed. The ring of wolves was stunned, surprised by the death of their pack-leader that they thought was infallible. Then one howled. Then another.  A werewolf snarled and Kalenor felt the first traces of panic through what would have otherwise been the pride of a hard-won victory. Without hesitation, he sliced through the ring and sprinted towards the exit, sliding on the slippery floor. Behind him, the pack turned around and charged. And now he's suddenly scared? That's an odd shift


With the light of the entrance ahead of him, Kalenor looked back to see the two dozen wolves and dozen or so werewolves gaining on him. He slipped, fell, got back up and continued sprinting towards the exit as the pack followed, screaming for revenge. As he ran out of the cave, he praised Avacyn when the werewolves abruptly stopped, afraid of exposing themselves to sunlight. The other wolves had no such inhibitions, however. Streaming into the sunlight in a river of salivating, black-furred bodies, they were still on his heels. Turning around and beheading one that had jumped towards him, Kalenor felt renewed confidence. The oppressive darkness of the cave was gone, and with it, the wolves’ advantage. Besides the advantage of them being intelligent pack hunters with razor sharp teeth and claws? >_> attacking the pack as the werewolves watched from inside the cave, Kalenor killed three of the beasts before they’d realized they were no longer chasing him. huh?


“I’ll take you all on!” He roared, lashing out. Cutting into the pack, he killed four more. The wolves were simply no match for his sword. But it was an impossible battle. With a partner, Kalenor thought he would have overcome the wolves easily, but against him alone there were simply too many. Two bit into his legs, which he promptly killed, only to have two more take their place. He fell to his knees, and the wolves were on top of him. As he felt the dog’s hot breath and fur against his skin and as they tore at him with their mouths and claws, Kalenor summoned the last of his strength. You are vastly underestimating the power of these wolves...


“Avacyn!” He roared, desperate, and the presence of the wolves lessened as he summoned magic.


In the pommel of his sword the jewel hissed and glowed, and spit out what could only be described as lightning. Four of the wolves yelped and fell dead as they were hit in the heart by the bolts; the others jumped away, not foolish enough to stay so close to the death-bringer. Slowly, Kalenor stood. Why didn't he use this earlier?


The wolves around him growled and barked, but they were significantly frightened enough to avoid attacking him again. Of the original twenty or so, ten remained. From inside the cave, the werewolves howled. Kalenor stepped towards the tree line and the wolves backed off. But the message in their eyes was clear: this wasn’t over.


Turning away and running into the trees, Kalenor didn’t clearly realize where he was going. All he knew was he needed to get away. He had to recover his strength before nightfall. Come nightfall… it wasn’t a pleasant thought. He’d killed many, but he couldn’t kill a forest’s worth of wolves. As he sprinted, his adrenaline eventually wore down. He was exhausted. Stopping briefly, he noted the sun was already midway through its descent, only a few hours off of the horizon. Taking a long draught of alenor, which left his supply dangerously low, he kept running.


After a time, Kalenor realized that he’d passed into a town. Relief swept through him, and he sat down on a fountain in the center square. This is... weird. None of the inhabitants so much as spared a glance. Why not? Panting and resting, Kalenor realized that the sun had almost set: he’d probably run for four or five hours. Praising the vampiric liqueur that had made it possible, Kalenor took a moment to get his bearings.


The town was small, only twelve or fifteen houses and shops, a couple of which looked abandoned. The people wandering the square around him looked healthy enough, but didn’t spare a second glance. Both signs alarmed Kalenor. The idea that people could live healthily in the center of these woods (for they were still fairly close to the center) entailed that they knew something the other villages didn’t; the fact that they were only four or five hours from Longtooth’s den and hadn’t been attacked by his pack also raised a few question marks. And the fact that they didn’t blink an eye at a knight-Cathar running into their town confirmed the thought: there was definitely something strange going on. Needs. More. BUILDUP. Desperately.


Kalenor looked around for a church. Everyone on Innistrad worshipped the same deity, no matter where they were, but the symbol of Avacyn was nowhere to be found. After a thorough examination, Kalenor found it on the door of a building on the edge of town. So, what, he just wandered around the village looking at buildings, sort of shoving people aside... or... what? Your sense of time here is just totally weird. A second ago things were totally tense, now he's just walking around investigating a village full of werewolves without a care in the world. It looked long abandoned, but he opened the door and walked inside.


The first observation he made was that the church may very well have been long abandoned. Cobwebs adorned tiers and rows of benches, most of which were scattered around the room or piled against the walls without much order. At the head of the room was a grimy window looking out into the trees, set behind an altar with the symbol of Avacyn inscribed on it. At the altar stood a short, wizened old man in the robes of a priest.


Sighing quietly in relief at the familiar sight of a reverend behind his altar, Kalenor approached the priest and knelt in respect. “Reverend, I require some assistance. I’m pursued by the Pack, that's a proper noun? and I’m sure they’ll be here by nightfall. You must warn your villagers! I will ward them off as best I can, but I really would appreciate some assistance.” He paused and looked up at the priest. The old man hadn’t moved. He was staring at the entrance and breathing quietly, and gave no sign he’d heard or even noticed Kalenor. Kalenor stood and walked up to the altar, concerned.


“Reverend,” he said hesitantly, “are you all right?” The man still didn’t move.


Taking another step forward, Kalenor stopped when the reverend began to move his head. The old man looked at him with eyes full of compassion and sorrow, and said “Get out of here, son of Avacyn. Go far away and never return. This land… there is no longer any place for Avacyn in the wilds such as these.”


Kalenor stepped back and knelt again, lest he risk offending the old man. “What troubles you, Reverend?” he asked quietly, hoping for a peaceful answer but not able to devise one himself.


The man continued to stare at the entrance of the church and bowed his head. “This place… is damned, young Cathar.” He said slowly, quietly. “At night these people transform from dangerous to deadly. They are lycanthropes, son, every last one of them,” he paused a moment, then continued, “Including me.” This is working. This is working very well. language needs polish but generally speaking you're on the right track.


Kalenor stood, confused, and sat at one of the benches still close to the altar. “I don’t… understand, Reverend.” He said. Confused as he was, disheartened would be a better word for his emotions.Ugh, no, it wouldn't. There's got to be a better word than the wimpy "disheartened." "Stunned" maybe? "He felt his stomach plummet" maybe? Anything better than "Well, this is a bit discouraging, isn't it? Shucks." He, like all Cathars, had been raised under the law of Avacyn, which proclaimed that a Cathar’s body was holy. It could not be tainted, before or after death, whatever the cause or circumstances.Now, this would be really great to introduce earlier, like somewhere in the beginning of the text. What we're really looking for here is some foreshadowing. I like what you're doing, but, again, buildup buildup buildup. You really need to be designing this story from the end backwards and it seems like you're designing it as you move forward. Logical, but it's not going to get you the results you're looking for, I think.


“The world is a different place, son of Avacyn.” The old man said quietly, almost wheezing. “I thought as you did.  A Cathar’s duty was to destroy evil, not become it. But it would seem I was wrong, that we were all wrong.”


“For the past month, these people have been… changing. At first I attributed it to the forest working its way into these people. But someone came back bitten by one of the wolves, and it spread, like a… virus. Alright, here's a biiiig big problem. Lycanthropy is NOT transferred by biting, as far as we know. I think you can play this as him just not quite knowing the truth of the matter, but yeah, tread very, very lightly here. Keeper is absolutely right here, bites do not cause lycanthropy. We were a small town, and close to each other, like a family. But I watched as neighbor attacked neighbor, as wolves tore apart our children in the streets… and I was not strong enough to prevent the town from becoming changed. The villagers are now warped, embracing this evil as their passion. Every night they’ve attacked me, and every night I’ve held them off… but no one lasts forever. I was bitten. Welp. See above for why this is an issue... At first I didn’t feel anything, but then I started to change. Even now, I can feel the rage of the wolf gnawing at my consciousness, telling me to rise up and attack you!” The priest pushed the altar away and it fell to the ground, the symbol of Avacyn branded on the front facing the dust of the floor. The old man was panting, and Kalenor stood and backed away, alarmed by the display.


“Go…” the priest said, suddenly tired, sitting on the end of a seat. “Tell those that will listen that Ulvenwald is worse than lost, and if it is not already known, that the old wards are failing. You can no longer count on Avacyn’s blessing to protect you. Quickly! Go!”


And as Kalenor ran to the door, he looked back and saw the priest changing, his skin growing hair, his back arching and his hands turning to claws. He screamed, and the scream turned to a roar.


Running outside, Kalenor saw that the village was deserted, and that the sun had all but set over the treetops. Outside of the town, he could hear the snarls of wolves and from several of the houses there were noises of things crashing, breaking. Reaching for his pocket, Kalenor downed the last of his alenor and tossed the bottle away. That alenor is getting super annoying. It's like Gary Stu Juice. Boring Invincible Hero in a bottle. Agreed, of course, if it is blood (which it should be) it'd be interesting to play up the "those who hunt monsters" angle Setting his sights to the west as the sun set, where he knew he’d find sanctuary, he ran.


As he left the town, doors burst open to shaggy forms, eyes glinted in the woods, and howls ripped through the night.


 



Alright. There are problems with this piece. One is that it totally lacks a main character. What you've got is something that goes around doing things. But let's apply the Bela Swan test to Kalenor. How would you describe Kalenor's personality?

I'm getting... confident? I guess? Uuuh faithful although you only introduce that when it becomes relevant, which is a problem I'll get to in a moment. Uh, rugged? Possibly? [shrug]ged is more like it. I'm just getting absolutely nothing from this guy. Here's why that's unfortunate:

You've got some great character moments in this piece. Longtooth gets one, and Kalenor gets one with the Priest. But both of them fail to live up to their potential because you don't set them up well enough. Now, if we knew, from the start, that faith was a huuuuge part of Kalenor's existence and personality, the moment with the Priest would have a much larger impact upon us as readers. That's really something you want to cultivate, because those moments on their own work really well already, and they're a good example of the kind of powerful effects that you, personally, are able to achieve when you set your mind to it.

Oh, and the Alenor? Get rid of it. Toss it in the garbage. It's turning into Boring Invincible Hero Elixer. Ditto for the sudden Avecyn lightening strike. Unless you can justify that thematically--and I think you can if you give this story a theme based around this question of faith--it just seems kinda contrived. Rely less on Dei Ex Machina. (Dei? Oh, whatever, Icedragon knows Latin, he can correct it.) Dues es Machinas maybe?

So yeah. That's my take on things. You've actually got quite a bit of potential here, and I think I can see glimpses of what this piece is trying to be, but it's just... not... there yet.

That said, are you aware of the Expanded Multiverse? This story needs work, but it's also off to a strong start, and it's the kind of thing we like to see in our archives. You should think about revising it, completing it, and submitting it, and maybe getting involved in our other projects. If you don't get some other reviews from people by tomorrow, say, I'll prod some of the other members of the project over here to give you some constructive criticism. Barinellos and Trolljuju are particularly adept in this area, so keep an eye out for their critique. I am? lol well I mostly cheated by piggybacking off you're critique

And good luck with the revisions and the other chapters. I hope this helped, and that my snarking didn't dishearten you. Haha. Hah. Dishearten.


Okay, everything Keeper says here at the end is gold, but there's one but thing I need to add. You seem to know quite a bit about Innistrad, but a few things(like how werewolfs work) show that you don't everything or are just making best guesses, so I recomend reading through The Planeswalker guide to Innistrad (espescially the Kessig and werewolfs section)

So yeah, this has potential, and I'd love to see more from you in the future, good luck.
Official Speaker of the Expanded Multiverse Project, Step into Dominia-Embrace the infinite Magic of the Planes. This -> is my favorite smiley, I will use it often and without reason. You have been warned.
The Story of My Love
79035425 wrote:
BURSTING WITH VIGOR!
Trolljuju wiped the sweat from his brow as he continued his slow trudge up the snowy mountain. The wind was strong and fiercely cold, but he pressed against it. Juju knew Beast Engine was somewhere at the peak, waiting for him. But this was not a matter of confronting the forces of nature themselves; that had been accomplished long before, and was now too easy to maintain the manly man's interest. Today, Beast Engine was here waiting for a friend. Trolljuju's mind drifted from his appointment to thoughts of Beast Engine's manliness. The only man in history to punch the fossilized remains of a dinosaur back to life just to punch it to death again. The man who deflected bullets with his pectoral muscles during his daily assassination attempts. The man who cured cancer with a serum made from pure crystalized virility. The man who burst with vigor. Not just a man but a Man- the manliest of all men. A god of masculinity in physical form. Trolljuju's heart fluttered at the memory of him and lightened his steps as he pressed on. Suddenly, he was shaken from his reverie by a deep, powerful rumble in the mountain that shook him to his core. Instinctively, he threw himself to the ground just before the slope ahead of him exploded in a fiery wall of light and heat. So great was the force that the entire upper section of the mountain was vaproized. It scorched Juju's coat, then rose on the air to drift far away, a plume of white-hot ash. When Trolljuju lifted his head to see what was left behind, he beheld a wide, perfectly flat stone plateau, and in the distance he could see a muscular figure, his foot still held up from the kick. There was no doubt it was Beast Engine. As soon as the ground beneath him cooled, Juju cast his heavy pack aside and ran. As the figure grew with closeness, he could see Beast Engine was nude, as was expected. The snow that fell near him turned to a thin wall of steam, looking to Trolljuju's eyes like a barrier. Engine was too strong, too manly to occupy the same space as the ordinary universe. He lived in a world all his own. But fortunately for Juju, it was only an illusion. He ran at full speed into Engine, who caught him with both arms and effortlessly twirled with him, resting with Juju dipped low to the ground in Engine's arms. "Beast Engine, my love," Trolljuju breathed, sturck with awe at Engine's masculine beauty despite the familiarity of his face. Engine just smiled, radiating from every inch of him with incredible strength, yet gentle warmth. "It's been so long, Juju. I've missed you." "Forgive me. I lost contact with you while you were boxing with Death to win back and consume the soul of Theodore Roosevelt. But now I'm here..." Juju lifted one tentative hand to Engine's face, but he pulled away. "You know I cannot give you what you seek. Were we to make love, your body would be destroyed by the force." "I know, of course I would," Juju responded, tears in his eyes. "May I have, at least, one kiss?" "Very well. For you, my friend." Slowly, gingerly, they came closer. But the moment their lips met, a flood of unbridled manliness rushed into Trolljuju, body and soul, and every cell in his body exploded. Beast Engine fell to his knees, and in his grief, he wept. The tears that fell from his face burned deep into the rock beneath him. But slowly, his sorrow turned to conviction. He beat the crap out of Death once. He could do it again.
Sorry Juju, you're right, you're basically a guru now as well. I forget that me, Skibo, and Barinellos aren't the only ones with the encyclopedias in our brains now. :P (And mine is clearly missing more than a few pages... >_>)

Hm, you know, the problem with the daylight thing actually makes Longfang quite a bit more brilliant, if you play it right... Rather than staying in the cave because they have to, they could be staying in the cave because that's their strategy. It might even be a clever ploy of theirs--to make people think it's just the one werewolf tearing things up, when it's actually a whole pack. When anyone comes to defeat that one werewolf, they get WAY more than they bargained for.

I mean, I don't want to intrude too much on the actual construction of the story, but does that make sense, Jason?
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
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Thanks SO much for the feedback guys! I'm so used to people going "wow that's awesome" and walking off when I do this stuff. This is definitely a change for the better. I really do appreciate the effort you put into editing through my chapter. And thanks for catching a few of the more embarassing errors... for some reason I kept calling him Liontooth than backspacing it out.

Also, honestly I haven't had that much practice in character creation. Because I really do agree, Kalenor is as flat as an old soda. He felt that way when I was writing, and do you think you guys could give me some tips on that? I really do want to improve on my characterization, but I'm not sure where to start.

But before I go any further, I need to rant. Or make excuses. Because it will probably come across that way. My writing conditions are HORRIBLE. Do you guys have ANY IDEA how HARD it is to write when my brother is sitting five feet away and raging at Modern Warfare 3 just NONSTOP? Gah! So annoying! Also, I'll toss my hat into the 'ignorance' ring for how werewolves work. I think I was confusing them with vampires. Honestly, I don't know much about them. Or rather, I thought I knew enough about them but I didn't actually know much.

Thirdly, I'm definitely going to check out those two links again (I think I've actually read the Planeswalker's guide before, but just skimmed it), and I wasn't sure where to begin with the expanded multiverse, honestly when I clicked in I was a little overwhelmed.

Fourthly, in regards to the alenor, let me explain my reasoning behind that. I was going out on a figurative limb with that, because I figured that yes, vampires only require blood as a sustinance, that doesn't mean it was the only thing they cared to consume. It seemed to me that another drink or food akin to the one I described wouldn't be too far off the mark, as I could see the vamps creating something like it for excess strength or prowess. Though the biggest reason I was going with the 'superhuman' qualities of it was because there was no other way I could think of to have Kalenor run such vast distances in a day. (img842.imageshack.us/img842/8948/innistr... map I'm using. Only map on google images makes it the most accurate one, far as I'm concerned. Innistrad is rather large.)

Finally, I think I'm gonna choose to laugh at my present-tense approach to the first two paragraphs. Again, I'm gonna attribute it to lousy writing environment as well as inexperience. I almost never write in present tense, but I absolutely despise the first 3-4 paragraphs in any given piece of writing work. They just seem clunky no matter how they're written, to me, and as a biproduct I usually just end up failing more completely there than any other part of the work.

Again, thanks for the help guys, its appreciated. I'm gonna get to work on editing this as soon as I can get my computer room to myself again. Because I don't think it will be very productive if I do it while my brother's in the room.
SOMEBODY MADE A MAP!?!?!?

Just.. holy crap.. does it... does it check out? Does it work?

Ahem, sorry, I got excited there for a moment.

But yeah, this (and the expanded multiverse) is a great place for criticism.

If you have any questions about the expanded multiverse (how things work, what it is, how you can get involved, ect. ect.) feel free to ask, I'm here to help ;)
Official Speaker of the Expanded Multiverse Project, Step into Dominia-Embrace the infinite Magic of the Planes. This -> is my favorite smiley, I will use it often and without reason. You have been warned.
The Story of My Love
79035425 wrote:
BURSTING WITH VIGOR!
Trolljuju wiped the sweat from his brow as he continued his slow trudge up the snowy mountain. The wind was strong and fiercely cold, but he pressed against it. Juju knew Beast Engine was somewhere at the peak, waiting for him. But this was not a matter of confronting the forces of nature themselves; that had been accomplished long before, and was now too easy to maintain the manly man's interest. Today, Beast Engine was here waiting for a friend. Trolljuju's mind drifted from his appointment to thoughts of Beast Engine's manliness. The only man in history to punch the fossilized remains of a dinosaur back to life just to punch it to death again. The man who deflected bullets with his pectoral muscles during his daily assassination attempts. The man who cured cancer with a serum made from pure crystalized virility. The man who burst with vigor. Not just a man but a Man- the manliest of all men. A god of masculinity in physical form. Trolljuju's heart fluttered at the memory of him and lightened his steps as he pressed on. Suddenly, he was shaken from his reverie by a deep, powerful rumble in the mountain that shook him to his core. Instinctively, he threw himself to the ground just before the slope ahead of him exploded in a fiery wall of light and heat. So great was the force that the entire upper section of the mountain was vaproized. It scorched Juju's coat, then rose on the air to drift far away, a plume of white-hot ash. When Trolljuju lifted his head to see what was left behind, he beheld a wide, perfectly flat stone plateau, and in the distance he could see a muscular figure, his foot still held up from the kick. There was no doubt it was Beast Engine. As soon as the ground beneath him cooled, Juju cast his heavy pack aside and ran. As the figure grew with closeness, he could see Beast Engine was nude, as was expected. The snow that fell near him turned to a thin wall of steam, looking to Trolljuju's eyes like a barrier. Engine was too strong, too manly to occupy the same space as the ordinary universe. He lived in a world all his own. But fortunately for Juju, it was only an illusion. He ran at full speed into Engine, who caught him with both arms and effortlessly twirled with him, resting with Juju dipped low to the ground in Engine's arms. "Beast Engine, my love," Trolljuju breathed, sturck with awe at Engine's masculine beauty despite the familiarity of his face. Engine just smiled, radiating from every inch of him with incredible strength, yet gentle warmth. "It's been so long, Juju. I've missed you." "Forgive me. I lost contact with you while you were boxing with Death to win back and consume the soul of Theodore Roosevelt. But now I'm here..." Juju lifted one tentative hand to Engine's face, but he pulled away. "You know I cannot give you what you seek. Were we to make love, your body would be destroyed by the force." "I know, of course I would," Juju responded, tears in his eyes. "May I have, at least, one kiss?" "Very well. For you, my friend." Slowly, gingerly, they came closer. But the moment their lips met, a flood of unbridled manliness rushed into Trolljuju, body and soul, and every cell in his body exploded. Beast Engine fell to his knees, and in his grief, he wept. The tears that fell from his face burned deep into the rock beneath him. But slowly, his sorrow turned to conviction. He beat the crap out of Death once. He could do it again.

I won't do a in-text commentary, since I don't have faith in my abilities to criticize stories. Also, Keeper and Juju did a good job already.


The issues with the Werewolves should be solved by reading the Planeswalkers' Guide. And you should read it anyway, it's pretty good.


I agree with the thing about the Cathar. He has no personality, and that makes it difficult for me to care. What I'd do is make a character out of him, like you would for D&D or Skyrim or something. Then ask yourself a couple of questions, like: Why does he does what he does? Why did he became a Cathar? Why does he work alone? Where does he gets the confidence to fight a pack of Werewolves, while the rest of the world is quickly losing faith? What is he not good at? What's his favorite meal? Basically, make him a person, not just a character. You don't need to use all this information in your story, but if the character becomes fleshed out, it becomes easier for you, the writer to figure out what he would do.


Also, why do the wolves - which are pack animals- fight fair? This really bugs me. They outnumber the Cathar by a lot, and they just stand there, watching their leader fight. There's only one situation where wolves fight one on one, and that's to establish the Alpha of a pack. When combating outsiders they gang up. For me, that seems like an out of character moment for an entire race.


@Keeper: It would be Dei Ex Machina if you want to say Gods from the Machine, or Dei Ex Machinae if you want to Gods from the Machines.


@Juju: I took a brief glance at the map, and it seems workable. I really hate the fact that I don't have the time to check it in depth.

After the official forums lost most of their functionality, a once vibrant community of Vorthos was wiped out.The survivors founded a new place to discuss all things concerning with the art, flavor and storylines of Magic: The Gathering. Come join us.


I mean, I don't want to intrude too much on the actual construction of the story, but does that make sense, Jason?



lol, sorry for not responding to this. You actually posted WHILE I was posting my first response. Yeah, it makes sense. 

Also, glad I made a discovery with that map. I didn't know  that it was an unknown, it honestly looked kind of... official.

Doubly also, I'm making some notes and I'll start editing today. If I have any further questions I'll throw them up here. Not literally throw up, but, um... yeah. 

I agree with the thing about the Cathar. He has no personality, and that makes it difficult for me to care. What I'd do is make a character out of him, like you would for D&D or Skyrim or something. Then ask yourself a couple of questions, like: Why does he does what he does? Why did he became a Cathar? Why does he work alone? Where does he gets the confidence to fight a pack of Werewolves, while the rest of the world is quickly losing faith? What is he not good at? What's his favorite meal? Basically, make him a person, not just a character. You don't need to use all this information in your story, but if the character becomes fleshed out, it becomes easier for you, the writer to figure out what he would do.



To build off of this... once you have his personality details worked out, figure out where you're going to introduce them to the story. If you're going to introduce them later on, take time to introduce them earlier instead. That moment where he's stunned by the corrupted priest would be so, so much more powerful if you played up the strength of his faith early on.

Another way of thinking about the character might be "What does he need to learn?" This can be anything from a lesson to a motivating piece of information. The character I just recently finished writing about had two lessons by the end of the story: one was that he needs to be more willing to use his powers, the other is that if he wants to be a better healer he's going to need to understand how to heal the mind as well as the body. One is an understanding of his character, and another is a motivating force for further stories. This is the kind of thing that can drive the plot forward.

Incidentally...

Here is your homework. This is a book on screenwriting. By the Incredible Hulk. Yeah. Read it. It's brilliant. It's in all caps, and it's huge, but it's truly worth it.
Coming Soon to the Magic: Expanded Multiverse: FRAGMENTS: A Shards of Alara Anthology
(Click through to view the cover and announcement page)Want to get your work in the Expanded Multiverse? Come join the project! Oh, and check out my blog, Storming the Ivory Tower: making sense of academia, media, and culture twice weekly.
As a rule of thumb, we should see no more than about five percent of the total knowledge you have of your character return in your writings. Perhaps another few percentages hidden in the twisted ramblings of dreams and nightmares, but not laid out in the open. That's something for us to puzzle on, and it ensures that you write with character since you can always play on feelings and habits that you know are consistent with the character.

Other than that, ehm, skeletons don't decay (as you noted somewhere). Corpses decay, skeletons remain, and they do not decay any further. If you want to remain with the terms fleshless bodies, then mention how they are missing bits and pieces and bones that appear to have been pulled off by scavengers, how the skulls show the traces of gnawing rodents especially near the eye sockets, and how at one point the cathar nearly stepped on one and saw a million of insects of all varieties scurry away underneath the ragged and rotting planks.
"I've seen pups worse than you". Werewolf pups? Seems awkward given the just about everything known ever in every single werewolf incarnation, more or less. No objections to altering standard lore, but that needs to be done more thoroughly and subtly repeated rather than in a random comment like this.
The amount of villages razed by the werewolf (btw, I think writing about a howlpack led by a superwolf instead is more real, more rational and certainly more terrifying) is insane in this timeframe and vicinity. No human settlement would remain in a landscape that terrorised because they'd all get the hell away from there after the first two villages were razed within less than a week. Next to this, I'm sort of doubting the carrying capacity of the landscape to be able to support "small towns and villages" within such an area, but then again normal wolves have insanely large territories. You could pass this off if it's more apparent that the travel distances are large between these places.


Returning on what Yxo posted earlier, I think it's definitely noticeable how the Cathar had a Skyrim quest arrow to lead him to the Den and from thereon to the next setting of the quest, and the three-line dialogue you need to advance in it. And how it was written on a bounty letter "Kill the werewolf Longtooth in the Ulvenwald Wolf Den" that was left by some men of the jarl earlier at the local inn. Yeah I have issues with that game. But adding more tension to the incentives and reasons of the Cathar couldn't hurt. Unless they're personal and of the wolf-gravely-injured-my-weekly-love type, that is. If he's not under Church orders but simply wandering about, you could perhaps add an element of deduction where the town's rumor mills speak of different monsters that all track back to this same wolfpack alpha, thereby making him a prime target. More emphasis than superwolf methinks.

It's too easy to be critical of good work IMAGE(http://www.the-gladiatorz.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/jade.png). Keep up the writing no matter what, it has good potential!
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GOOD GOD MAN THERE'S A MAP OF INNISTRAD.

And I thought I was cool with the map I made of Mirrodin o-o

Just the fact that you want to become a better writer means that you will. If there's one thing that I've learned so far, it's that nothing will make you better than practice (for example, I'm dropping my creative writing minor at my university but I still may very well end up as an author, just because I'm practicing a lot and looking for constructive feedback, not because of any classes I've taken).

As for your cathar, definitely flesh him out. My advice, to add to what has already been said, is something I learned in acting: The most important things to know are his HOPES and his FEARS. What does he want? What does he need? What is he afraid of, adverse to, etc? What is driving him to follow through with what he is doing? What is standing in his way (and be sure to not use ONLY external forces; I'm sure he struggles with himself over some things, and seeing those would give us a better idea of his character)? For example, the main character of the Magic novel I'm starting to rewrite wants to go back to his old life of creating new artifacts and recreating old artifacts, and he wants to help his friend who's in terrible terrible danger, but he has to get over his pride and the fact that he thinks he knows more than he actually does. Those are just starting points for story conflicts--not to mention the Phyrexians who are trying to kill him or his volatile companion who might turn on him at any moment!
"There are probably seven persons, in all, who really like my work; and they are enough. I should write even if I were the only patient reader, for my aim is merely self-expression." ~H.P. Lovecraft

My Colors Are Green and Blue I value respect, honesty, acceptance, and trust. I love to tell stories and to experience new things. At my best, I am compassionate and creative. At my worst, I am detached and submissive. My enemies are Black and White.

Right, so I've posted my second draft in my first post as the second spoiler. I rewrote a lot of the beginning text, and a lot of the middle text, and a lot of the end text... so I rewrote a lot of everything. Mainly I incorporated some of the advice that you guys gave me into the story, and I'll see how it turns out. Had a better working environment this time, at least. Most notably I rewrote the entire first page or so, you know, changed the wierd-ass current-tense thing that I had going, better explained the motivation behind his pursuing Longtooth, and I introduced his connection to the church and faith and whatnot a lot earlier on as well. Also fixed some parts of the text I felt were too clunky in the middle, and rewrote most of the encounter with Longtooth, hopefully to give it a better sense of realism. I tried to give the town encounter a more creepy vibe to it, since I thought I should go for that. Didn't really change anything about the priest encounter, though I put my newfound knowledge of lycanthropy to work. I also toned down the alenor, making it more of a background idea rather than a forefront mechanic. I couldn't figure out how to entirely remove the 'superhuman...ness' from Kalenor, but I'm going to work more on that probably in future drafts and in the next couple chapters, where I can have a bigger field to flesh out his more subtle weaknesses.

Thanks for reading guys, this is definitely a unique experience for me. More feedback is appreciated!

Also, a note to Keeper, I haven't finished my homework yet, sadly. The Hulk posts quite a read.

DFTBA! 
Oh, good, now I get to read the improved bit rather than have to rehash criticisms.
Though to be honest, I'll probably review it sometime tomorrow or Tuesday.
I did just want to drop by and say I was aware of this and have been following it.

Regardless, I do think you'd fit right in the M:EM. If you need any help acclimating if you decide to drop by, just let me know.

Anyways, I'll give you a review in a while.
It's come to my attention through further research that the Erdwall is not a Parish as I make it out to be, but rather a large network of underground tunnels, almost like sewers. If and when I write a third draft, I'll fix that. However, at the moment I'm more concerned with my first chapter. I'll probably edit that later this week.

Just pointing out that I DO know that, since I'm sure someone would have caught it eventually.

DFTBA. 
Probably just not me though. When people talk to me about my improvement I always take it for granted that they're just saying something nice, but when I look at the difference between your initial draft and your first serious draft I'm astonished at the improvements you've made. I'm more of a scientific editor rather than a novel criticist like Keeper or Tjuju so I'll leave the floor to them for the more in-depth issues, but I'm personally simply  waiting for Chapter 2 atm . It makes sense, it catches the drift and it invites our narrative beings to longue (if that's the word) for more.
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Second sunday, second chapter. Well, technically the first chapter, but, ya know...

Anyways, constructive criticizm is appreciated. I'm gonna take a third look at my prologue tomorrow, I think. 

Enjoy, and DFTBA!

 

Chapter 1: A Midnight Calling


Stepping out of the last line of trees, Kalenor quickly found a dry, flat piece of ground and collapsed onto it. His stomach empty and a thirst clawing at his throat, he was exhausted. Having barely escaped from the Ulvenwald howlpack alive, he’d traveled for two days straight, stopping only for water and to scavenge what food he could. Hunting had been appealing prospect for awhile, but the fire would have drawn attention. More than that, the smell of fresh blood would have attracted more than just insects. He’d scavenged what he could from the plants, but he would have given almost anything in the world for a large loaf of bread or even better, a cut of beef. He’d slept during midday, when he hoped he’d be left alone, for about four hours each day.


After taking a few more minutes to gather his strength (resisting the urge to lie down and sleep on the hill), Kalenor stood up and examined his situation. To his surprise, he was actually standing on the highest ground for miles. With the forest behind him, the entire valley of Nephalia spread out before him. He’d emerged from the Northwestern corner of the forest, he knew. He could see the sea in the distance, spread out like a great blue plain. Directly in his path was the Bay of Vustrow and farther south, the River Ospid, winding its way towards the ocean from the heart of Innistrad’s mountains. Towards the northeast Kalenor knew he’d find the Drownyards of Nephalia. Wrecks of old ships and lost spirits lingered there, still attached to their bodies, waiting for rest as their vessels in life slowly decayed in the water. He hoped he’d never have to journey there; the haunted beaches and grinding rocks weren’t safe, even at the best of times.


Across the bay, Kalenor could see the outlines of the cliffs and mountains that hid his destination: the city of Havengul. He hoped to be there in two days. The city held a strong Cathar presence with its training grounds, and he’d be welcomed there, at least while he gathered his strength for the journey back to Gavony. There wasn’t an easy way across the bay itself, but the Erdwal would suffice for a path. The underground caves of the Erdwal led everywhere in the Nephalia province, originally designed as an escape route against zombie attacks but eventually becoming simple, convenient trade corridors.  Fortunately for Kalenor, one of those paths led straight underneath the bay. The tricky part would be finding an entrance.


Scanning the valley below him, Kalenor quickly saw what he was hoping to see. A small shoreline village, consisting of two dozen or so thatched roofs or so, was sitting next to the entrance of the bay. Kalenor didn’t know it by name, but hoped that the villagers were friendly enough to offer a room. He recalled the Nephalia idea that just because it was the only village didn’t mean it was the only settlement. Underneath the ground, the Erdwal stretched on for hundreds of miles, some caves large enough to be considered small cities when fully populated.


Climbing down the hill as the sun climbed above the trees behind him, Kalenor began his long walk, knowing that his journey would soon be over, if only temporarily.


 


The sun had begun to set by the time Kalenor reached the village. The march to the town hadn’t been difficult so much as it had been tedious. Thirty or more miles of open ground and he’d covered it in twelve hours.


Walking into the town, Kalenor was weary and aching. His feet bad begun to hurt from so much continual movement and the soles of his shoes were slowly approaching a point of being flatter than his heel. He’d removed the heavy cloth covering he wore over his shirt and pants, and carried it over his shoulder most of the day. His sleeves were rolled up, and his skin had thoroughly browned from so much exposure to the sun.


The people of Nephalia didn’t much trust Cathars, and walking into town, he successfully earned suspicious looks from almost every resident that crossed his path. Though he wasn’t dressed as a Cathar, the sword at his side told anyone that could see it that he was not an ordinary traveler. Much of their commerce, though kept secret, depended on activities that the church deemed blasphemous. The corpse trade alone kept a steady line of profit coming into the pockets of people in the district, though it was eventually stolen off their corpses or out of their homes when the bodies fulfilled their terrifying purposes. In the foothills to the west of the bay, in the city of Drunau, Stormkirk vampires provided grants for building and quietly kept the cream of their human crop for their own consumption. But still, the Cathars were a much needed arm of protection against the things this seedy market produced. While selling bodies might bring profit to the region, the reanimated hordes that result might not be welcomed by those that tolerated the trade. Even though the vampires were willing to spend great amounts of money, not everyone wanted to be a vampire’s dinner. And thus, the Church’s presence was tolerated (if not welcomed) to protect the people from themselves.


Finding the center square of the town, Kalenor sat down on one of four small benches surrounding a twisted tree. While not overly welcoming, neither was the village exceptionally hostile like the one in Ulvenwald. Down a small road, the village ironsmith closed his shop for the night. In front of Kalenor, a general store had its door open and the store master was trading with someone inside. All around, the quiet murmur of conversation filled the air. Down a side street, a small church was receiving a steady stream of people for an evening prayer.


Looking around, Kalenor gestured to a scraggly-haired boy that was sitting at the edge of the square, staring at Kalenor’s sword. He was probably about ten years old. His clothes were dirty and ragged, and his hair was matted to his head. He ran over, eyes wide.


“Do you know where I could find some supplies?” Kalenor asked him.


The boy pointed towards  the general store. Well, that was pretty obvious, Kalenor told himself, already regretting asking the stupid question.


“Do you know where I can find a place to have my shoes repaired?”  He asked.


The boy shook his head.


“Do you know where I can find a room for the night?”


The child nodded and pointed at a long, two-story building directly behind Kalenor.


“Thank you.” Kalenor said, and pulled a silver coin he’d been saving from his pocket. He handed it to the boy, who looked up as if to say ‘you’re giving this to me?’


“That’s enchanted silver.” Kalenor explained kindly. “Don’t lose it.” The church provided such coins to all Cathars, and the silver was one of the only hard currencies accepted universally on Innistrad. A small amount could protect you from many things on Innistrad.


The boy nodded and scurried off.


Standing up and turning around, Kalenor was about to head into the inn when he heard a woman’s scream echo up the street from behind him.


~~


Burt wasn’t a nice man. He wasn’t a good man. He lived a lowly, retched existence on Innistrad, inhabiting a small den he’d carved out of the side of one of the Erdwal’s tunnels. He could only eat when he stole, and the money he’d ever made had been squandered on wine and liquor. He only occasionally came up from the Erdwal, when the darkness started talking to him. He didn’t like the darkness. It was mean, and said and did mean things. It wanted his sanity and his body, the only two things he had to his name. So when the darkness talked to him, he left.


He’d popped out of a sewer in a small town late at night, covered in filth. He’d spent the next day stealing, drinking, and generally being a nuisance to the public. But night was approaching again, and he knew the darkness would be back. So he decided before he went back to the darkness, he needed to have her.


He’d found her during the middle of the day. He didn’t know who she was, but he didn’t care. She was suddenly everything to him, and he wanted her. And if she didn’t want him, than he would take her. Who was she to tell him what he couldn’t have?


So Burt lumbered out of an alley as she passed, late in the evening. She was probably on her way back to her house. He tried to take her as she passed, but he couldn’t. He was weak, and she was strong. She had run away, and he had followed. She had screamed, and he had laughed.


Suddenly, she had run into the center square, and he had followed. People were looking as she screamed, but his only thought was to have her. On the other side of the square, a strong looking man stood, but he paid him no mind. He hadn’t seen him before, but he hadn’t seen any of these people before. But he saw her. She had fallen, and he was on top of her. Ripping, tearing at her, determined to make her his. A strong hand pushed him off her at the shoulder, and he shouted. He wanted what was his! Then something came towards him from above, and he thought no more.


~~


Kalenor stood back, examining the man he’d just knocked unconscious. To his left lay the woman he’d been pursuing, struggling to keep her dignity as she clutched at the remains of her torn dress. An old woman came up from behind Kalenor and helped the girl to her feet, thanking Kalenor for saving her from the assailer. Behind him as they walked away, Kalenor heard the old lady mutter to her, “Are you all right? Come on, dear, let’s get you home…”


Kalenor looked with contempt at the man he’d just knocked unconscious. A drunk, or a beggar, or both, he wore old clothes and smelled as if he’d slept in the sewers recently (which he had). It was despicable. Vampires preyed on humans and demons hunted for power, and still humanity was not able to unite. All because of the low-life bastards like the man he’d just knocked unconscious.


He had no tolerance for it. The idea of humans killing other humans while every other race took advantage of them was simply too disgusting an idea for him to stomach.


The man stirred, interrupting Kalenor’s train of thought. Turning him over so his face was no longer on the pavement, Kalenor growled.


“I have half a mind to kill you right now.” He growled. He meant the threat.


“No!” The man shouted. “Burt didn’t mean to! Please don’t hurt Burt!”


Kalenor loosened his sword from his belt.


“Please!” The man screamed, sobbing. “Burt will be good! Burt promises! Please don’t hurt Burt!”


Kalenor felt no sympathy, but at the very least, didn’t like the idea of killing another man. “Leave.” He said quietly to the man. “Leave, and I don’t want to see you come back.” He stepped to the side, and the drunk jumped to his feet and sprinted out of the village. Around him, Kalenor noticed a circle of villagers had gathered. Many were looking at him in respect. As the crowd dispersed, Kalenor met the innkeeper in front of his building. He’d watched the entire episode from his doorway.


“You can sleep here free tonight, Cathar.” He said quietly. Kalenor nodded his thanks and walked inside, hoping to find something to eat.


~~


Kalenor woke with a start with the half-moon’s light pouring into his window. Several hours earlier, after eating as much as could be provided, Kalenor had found his room (it was on the second floor, so he could see above the other houses) and collapsed into the bed. The linens on the mattress had been freshly changed for him, which was nice.


As he regained his senses, Kalenor realized why he was awake. Something had thumped on the other side of the room, right next to the door. Straining his vision, Kalenor made out a shadowy figure standing close to his door, his eyes glinting in the darkness. He hadn’t realized Kalenor was awake yet, apparently. Cautiously, Kalenor moved his arm below the single blanket, inching it towards the hilt of his sword. The man walked closer, and Kalenor grasped the hilt. As he came within three steps of the bed, Kalenor threw the covers aside with his sword in hand and shouted “Galien!”


The jewel in the base of his sword flashed to life to reveal the intruder. It was a young man, probably about the same age as Kalenor. He was dressed in his day garb, with a black hooded cloak fastened around his neck. He jumped back in fright and covered his eyes at the sudden light hit him, emitting a sound almost akin to a yelp.


Kalenor lowered his sword and placed it against the wall, so the light from the pommel could properly illuminate the room. He lit a candle close to the mattress, and the light faded from the sword. He looked at the stranger, who’d regained his stance and removed his hands from his eyes. He stared at Kelanor defiantly, as if to say, “You didn’t just see me do that.”


“What do you want?” Kalenor asked, stifling a yawn now that his adrenaline high had faded.


“I appologize for disturbing you so late at night, I…” The man began, but Kalenor shook his head and stopped the man.


“What do you want?” He asked again, already ready to go back to sleep.


The man cleared his throat. “Well, as much as I hate to admit it, I need help, and there’s nowhere else to turn. I saw what you did in town earlier this evening, and I don’t know anyone else I can ask…” this time, he cut himself off. Taking a deep breath, he continued. “To the south of this town is an old graf, where we’ve buried our dead for centuries. I pay respects to my father, who is buried there, every week. This is an increasingly difficult practice, I might add. I am not afraid of the creatures of the night, but the dead are sometimes not inclined to stay dead for long.”


“Anyway,” he continued, “I was just there tonight, and I saw someone. Two people, actually. I don’t know who one of them was, but the other was that slug that tried to **** my sister today.” His voice filled with disgust as he recalled the man. “They were walking between the graves, as if looking for something. Or at least, one of them was. The drunkard was just following, like a dog looking for a treat from his master. He kept whining about something, but I wasn’t close enough to hear.”


“I don’t think they ever saw me, but I spied on them. I wanted to know what they were doing so near our dead.” He stopped as he remembered what had transpired. “The stranger finally stopped near my father’s grave. The drunkard was shouting something. It was… pretty incoherent, but before he could finish the stranger took a knife to his heart. He just killed that son of a bitch, right there over a grave! Serve him right, but I couldn’t wish the fate that he next experienced on my worst enemy.”


“The stranger started chanting. It was magic, I was sure of it as soon as I heard the first word. I…” the man’s voice broke, and he took a deep breath, then continued. “The words sounded strange, and they rang in my ears, long after he said them. I felt like I was being watched. Then I saw the beggar get up, the knife still in his chest, and look straight at me. I swear to the angels he could see me. But then the stranger said something, and gave him a shovel from beneath his cloak, and the ghoul started digging at one of the graves.”


The man took a deep breath again, and Kalenor admired his strength. He himself had been a witness to a ghoulcalling, once. It was a very… unsettling experience. “That man is summoning the dead in our graveyard.” The man said to him. “Those people in there, my father, and the others, they led good lives. They deserve their blessed sleep. Go, please, and stop this man before he takes the only thing they ever wanted in life.” The man’s voice dropped in desperation, and he dropped down on the mattress.


Kalenor nodded and retrieved his sword. He’d been furnished with new clothes by one of the townsfolk in payment to the church (apparently, they were a bit past due on their taxes), but decided to keep his traveling garb. He did wear his new shoes though.


Looking at the man, he asked, “Can you tell me exactly where this graf is?”


~~


                Kalenor stopped outside of the cemetery and examined the scene: no one in sight. Above him, the almost-full moon had reached its peak and was beginning to descend. In front of him the graf stretched out for a few hundred feet, expanding over a tall hill before disappearing out of sight. An arched, black wire gate marked the entrance. The frame of the gates and arch had been twisted back, as if they’d been hit by a huge amount of force straight in their center. Beyond them, rows of graves stretched. Some of the tombstones were worn down to unshaped stones with unintelligible writing on them. Others were more recent. Weeds grew up around and over the graves, and twisted old trees extended their roots deep into the ground. All around, the graf gave the impression that it hadn’t been tended to in quite a long time. Kalenor sighed. To leave a cemetery untended invited restless spirits. Then people wondered why they were being haunted.


                Kalenor slowly walked inside the gates; hand on the pommel of his sword. He wouldn’t use its light yet. The moon provided more than enough illumination, and the light would doubtlessly alert the ghoulcaller of his presence. He immediately noticed upturned earth off the main path. Several graves had been dug open to the sides, their contents having vanished, leaving only open caskets. Kalenor drew his sword and continued walking.


                As he reached the center hill of the cemetery, he saw almost every grave had been opened, and every corpse removed. How it’d happened in such a short time, he didn’t know. As he reached the top of the hill, he quickly ducked down behind a particularly large tombstone as he found out.


                Below him, a gruesome sight met his eyes. Seven ghouls stood in front of a man in a black cape, who in turn was focusing his attention towards a huge mound of bodies his undead servents had collected. The dead drunkard was among the ghouls. Kalenor forced himself not to cover his ears as the man started chanting. Loud, coarse verses echoed out into the night, drawing movement from the pile of bodies as he slowly returned to them a vestige of life. His pitch rose, and he fell to his knees, screaming the verses at the pile of bodies. Only the ghouls seemed unaffected, staring at Kalenor’s hiding spot with wide, uncomprehending eyes.


                Kalenor watched as a black cloud amassed above the bodies, spiraling outwards towards the edges of the cemetery. Unearthly shrieks echoed out of it, louder than the ghoulcaller’s voice could hope to match. As it stretched above him, Kalenor could make out the twisted, blackened forms of angered spirits. As the last of the spirits left the pile, Kalenor saw a length of black mist connecting the spirits to their bodies, bearing a twisted resemblance to the life-cord attached to a newborn baby. The cord had been roughly the width of a large tree trunk, but as he watched it began shrinking, compacting and pressing against itself as it slowly dwindled into nothingness. The spirits strained against it, eager to be free from the shackles. Kalenor knew he had to make his stand now, before the spirits lost their bond to their bodies. The spirits would disappear, he hoped, but he knew that once they did, the transformation of their bony vassals into ghoulish servants would be complete. And Kalenor was in no position to take on an entire horde of the dead.


                “Avacyn protect me…” Kalenor muttered a prayer as he stepped out from behind the gravestone. For the second time that night, he roared “Galien!” and pushed his sword above his head as the jewel illuminated the dark cloud. The cloud of spirits screamed even louder, and Kalenor could feel something wet running down the sides of his cheeks. Above him, the angered geists parted and swirled as he walked forward, as if he was the eye of a hurricane. Wind whipped at him as he slowly approached the ghoulcaller, whose shouts could no longer be heard above the roar of the storm he’d created. The ghouls stood on, unaware that they should have been defending their master. He’d told them to stand by, and that’s exactly what they planned to do.


                The man barely noticed Kalenor’s approach. He was too busy with ensuring the umbilical binding the spirits was removed. Kalenor raised his sword and struck, all sense of pity in killing another human forgotten. In his eyes, this man was no longer human.


                Quick as a flash, the man stopped chanting and rolled out of the way of Kalenor’s blow. The spirits abruptly disappeared, Kalenor assumed back into the pile of bodies the man had assembled.


                “Do not intrude, Cathar!” He shouted at Kalenor.


                “What?” Kalenor shouted back. His ears were ringing from the noise the spirits had made. He couldn’t hear anything.


                “Do not intru- oh for the Demon’s sake…” The man muttered. Drawing a long, thin dagger from his belt, he lunged at Kalenor. Kalenor sidestepped, and the man tumbled past. Behind an army of the damned, the man might have been more intimidating, but alone, he didn’t seem to be much practiced at all.


                The ghoulcaller had obviously reached the same conclusion, recovering from his misdirected attack. “Kill him!” He shouted at his undead servants.


                All seven lumbered towards Kalenor, shuffling their feet and moaning in the ghoulish fashion. Kalenor wasn’t scared. He held his ground. He’d fought the living dead before, and there was never one who could match a skilled swordsman.


                As the first one reached him, Kalenor pulled his sword up and swung it down, severing the former man’s arms from his body from the elbow down. Slowly spiraling (the undead weren’t usually very fast to react), he brought his sword up again and decapitated the man. Another came in on his right. Kalenor stabbed the sword into the man’s chest and brought it up to his right shoulder, rending a gash in the flesh that all but cut the ghoul in two. He fell to the side, still groaning as he struggled to separate his remaining arm and head from his torso.


                As Kalenor prepared to dispatch the third man, the necromancer leapt onto the Cathar’s shoulders from behind, intending to drive his dagger into his back. Luckily, he couldn’t have chosen a worse time to act. Kalenor had brought his sword up over his head to deliver a blow to his opponent, and the sword was trapped between his back and the man’s body. Quickly pulling it out from its entrapments, he scored a hit on the jaw of the man, who fell with a cry.


                Dispatching another ghoul, Kalenor turned to where he assumed the man had landed and raised his sword up, ready to deliver a killing blow. Except the man wasn’t there. Kalenor stood for a moment, surprised by how quickly his adversary had moved, and a stench hit his nostrils. Turning, he stood face to face with one of the remaining zombies, the drunken man he’d confronted earlier. The fact that it’d voided it’s bowels when it died added to the stench of drunken sewer-hermit. It’s pale, dead face seemed impassive as it snapped at his nose. Jumping back in momentary fright, Kalenor decapitated the man and looked down as something pulled on his leggings. The corpse he’d cut in half a moment ago had dragged itself to him with its single arm, pulling at his pants as it tried to raise its head for a bite.


                Startled, Kalenor immediately stabbed downward at the thing’s head. “Just die!” he said, pulling the sword from the mangled body and killing the remaining three ghouls.


                As the final zombie fell to the ground, devoid of life once again, Kalenor looked around for the ghoulcaller. He saw him illuminated by the moonlight as he reached the top of the hill, dark liquid dripping around a hand he held to his face.


                “You shouldn’t have interfered, Cathar!” He shouted. Luckily, Kalenor’s hearing had recovered somewhat. He could hear what the man was saying now. “You’ve meddled with something far bigger than yourself. This isn’t the last you’ve heard from us!” He turned and vanished down the other side of the hill.


                Kalenor shrugged. He’d heard such threats before. Casting a glance at the pile of bodies he’d just ‘saved’, he decided to let the villagers deal with their dead. He was neither able nor qualified to place any meaningful blessing over a grave. He’d have to let someone else take care of it.


                Turning back towards the town, Kalenor was ready to go back to his mattress and sleep for the next ten hours. Or maybe more.


                Behind him, a quiet breeze stirred the weeds of the graf.