The Illusion Pt 2. Firstborn Chronicles

Submitted for Contest #67 in response to: Write a story where one character needs to betray the other, but isn’t sure if they can.... view prompt

52 comments

Nov 06, 2020

Fantasy Drama Adventure

Sleep is a funny thing.


I drift in the emptiness.


Memories are pieces of crimson glass, spinning by me one by one. They are a timeline of my life, a string woven of many years. Defeats and victories both, projected onto the shards as if these moments were simply illusions reflecting off the surface of a lake.


Illusions hold a power of their own, a power that truth cannot touch.


This is the virtue of imagination, of fantasy, knowing that what takes place is no more than a bad dream that will melt when you wake. Illusions are freedom.


Truth is captivity.


And these splinters of glass are truth, each part of a larger picture.


I drift towards one in particular. One with white cracks spiderwebbed across it and flaws refracting in its core. I can hardly see the memory that plays, but I know which one it is. Oh, how I wish the memory were as fractured as its vessel, marred too much to hold. But the red glass is an illusion, a fantasy I have molded around my mind.


I touch the shard, and my world shatters.


* * *


The year is 1410 DA.


Our mission is to conquer the rogue factions of Keyed and Leitafar and take back our land.


Noon.


Location: Northeast Pyrdia.


Here there are flat-topped pillars of stone that pierce the sky, hundreds of vantage points upon which our army camps. In the valleys below, enemies may stalk the deep forests and trap the rivers, but up here we are safe.


Rindar has set sentries nonetheless, watches that change every hour. I can see a few of the patrolling dragons high above, blue and green gems that flicker and shift.


This is how I plan my tactics; I take a look at my surroundings and look for inspiration like a painter studying his subject.


To the south is our enemy. Hundreds of miles west, two enormous ridges wind side by side, flanking a mighty river. The river flows south to where the ridges end and spreads into a huge delta. There a forest grows, a forest so gargantuan that the tops of the tallest trees can be wreathed in ice while it is summer on the ground.


Beyond this forest lies a great fortress, cut right into the stone of the trailing ridge. Vyreheim has never been taken since its birth a millennium ago, but it will fall today if I have anything to say about it.


From one of the camping spires, a red shape shoots up into the sky, turning to dive right towards me. I get to my feet.


Rindar brakes with his wings, leaning back and letting the air fill their cupped forms. Even still, he slams into the flat top of the pillar with enough force to send small avalanches tumbling to the forest far below. A long leather sheath is strapped to the main spar of his right wing.


I stumble but do not fall. “Rindar, not all of us are so large as you. Maybe a little slower next time?” I speak Pyrdian. Rindar likes it.


The beast laughs, a tremendous sound. “Then you should get bigger—start packing in the pies and soon you might be able to take one of those big furry things they have down here. What are they called again? Squirrels?”


I give Rindar an unamused look. He knows full well what squirrels are.


The Dragon rattles the ruff of spines on his neck, “Nevermind, we don’t have time for joking—the Pyrdians opened the gate. Nyrin is keeping them occupied, but we have to leave now to get there in time.”


I wrinkle my nose, “Nyrin can’t hold for more than a few hours.”


“Yes, which is why we need to leave now.”


I run and jump, catapulting myself high on a springboard made of magicked air. Landing lightly on Rindar’s back, I drop down between two of the large white spines where his neck meets his body. Hard leather guards protect my soft thighs from his ripping scales.


Rindar doesn’t wait. He flexes massive shoulder muscles, and with a whoomph we are airborne, soaring fast and high.


The Dragon breaks his climb and glides, lifting the tips of his wings. He roars words, and I amplify them, sculpting air like one might shape clay. “Riders, Dragons, to arms! To battle we go!”


I watch as a multitude of figures begin to stir far below among the camps. Dragons rouse from slumber and stretch their wings, men sprint to assemble their gear.


Within a minute, several thousand rider-Dragon pairs are ready to fly. I watch as they lift off, the Dragons’ wings producing a thrum that shakes the very air. The horde rises, climbing until they reach the same altitude Rindar circles at. Five lieutenant pairs zip about, ordering and organizing the swarm like queen bees presiding over the drones.


Rindar’s chest rumbles, “We head south! Formation delta three-ninety!” He flicks his wings and whirls about, stroking so hard I fear he might churn the air to butter.


Strangely, the edges of my sight seem to be splintering, my peripherals fracturing like glass into tinier and tinier pieces of red. It’s of no consequence. Adrenaline has been known to distort sight.


I look back, making sure the army is following Rindar’s direction. The formation codes are simple but not infallible. Delta is the shape, “three” is the number of dimensions, and “ninety” is the degree of angle the point of the delta should hold. The lieutenants appear to be doing their job well. The confused mass of dragons is slowly shaping into a sleek triangle. It resembles a gigantic wedge of colorful cheese. A deadly wedge.


I smile and turn back forwards, the thrill of battle already beginning to rise in my stomach. Though we fly at well over a hundred miles an hour, the wind does not touch me with it’s freezing tentacles.


I thump my hand against Rindar’s side. “It’s a good day to fight!”


* * *


The memory abandons me entirely, crumbling away into red dust. I am aware of myself again, floating through the dark eternity of my consciousness.


Though that portion of fractured truth left me with a happy feeling, it sours as I think of what comes next.


The illusion of peace can only hold for so long.


* * *


The present, 1450 DA


I reach out with my magic and connect to Tayo’s mind. A swift tap to his neural cortex and he falls limp, limbs splayed.


I am still, wings half spread, legs in a wide stance. My tail lashes the floor behind me, sinuously curling back and forth.


I should kill Tayo. He betrayed me. He continues to betray me.


It would be so easy, so simple to extinguish his life. Death has a beauty to it, a simplicity of knowing that you are merely sending someone away for a while until eventually, you join them as well. In a way, death is the ultimate version of walking away from a fight.


I should kill Tayo. But even though he betrays me, I will not betray him.


Betrayal is a funny thing.


I break stance, avoiding the chunks of shattered pillar to go and stand by Tayo’s quiet body. He is so small compared to me, no larger than a toe on my foot. Yet, he stands firm in his folly, even against such a foe as I. Is that not the true nature of courage?


I suppose he also had the courage to betray me on that day, so many years ago now. Tayo has fought beast after beast, champion after champion, sometimes more than one in a day. He has spent years on end in a dark cell, where his only companionship was the rasp of the food tray. He even spent one of his months in a blocked off volcanic cave, subsisting on lichen and worms. And yet he still holds on to this illusion.


Illusions are funny things.


In a way, they are stronger than the truth for they are the lenses through which we look at the truth, and the means by which we judge it.


I hope that my own lens is as close to reality as possible, but I cannot be sure. I cannot betray myself, but the only alternative is to betray my friend. I must, and yet I cannot.


And because I am not sure, I gently pick up Tayo’s small body in one massive talon. As I fly across the boiling landscape, I flash back to that one memory that started all this. The inciting incident in our grand cycle, oh so long ago…



Okay! Finally done with this installment--working on Pt. 3!


Unless I get any last-minute critiques, this will be the final version, so please give me everything you've got as far as critiquing goes!

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52 comments

Hello! :) Great story you have written here! I loved every bit of it! 😁

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22:54 Nov 11, 2020

Neat! Thanks fo reading!

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My pleasure! =)

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Pratheeksha R
18:31 Nov 07, 2020

I read this first - I was filled with questions. Then I went back to the previous and came back. I could understand this a little better then. I was thinking if you would want to edit some part in Rindar’s perspective. Series would be great - but in my opinion, a stand-alone prompt should also convey the story. I couldn’t find it just yet- I’ll come back when the submission is done. :) I totally admire your word choice and writing style. Both stories unfolded as if it were a movie. Good job.

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20:41 Nov 07, 2020

Thanks for taking the time to read and critique this!

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Tom .
18:46 Nov 08, 2020

Don't do too much to it. If you add loads it will get confusing. Nail the prompt, give us a slice of the cake and we can wait for the next piece in the next piece.

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13:11 Nov 09, 2020

Excellent advice. This is my first time writing a series, so I'm kinda confused on how to do it. This will be a learning experience for sure. :P

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Hope Reynolds
23:58 Dec 07, 2020

Hi there, Leo! I admire your vivid, creative depiction of the/a inner world. If I were you, though, I would probably refrain from multiple metaphors about food - it does not really suit your story well. First, you mentioned him churning the clouds to butter. Then, you described the triangular formation as a wedge of cheese. I would suggest removing the cheese reference, either picking a different metaphor or just limiting it to a "sleek triangle." Maybe a spearhead? You mention it being deadly. Or "shaping into a sleek triangle. A deadly ...

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Zilla Babbitt
01:30 Nov 13, 2020

Hey, thanks for doing my quiz.

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02:52 Nov 13, 2020

No probs, it was a fun one, lol.

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Wolfy 🐺
16:22 Nov 12, 2020

I completed ur form, and also made a random google form :> Also, ur stories are getting better and better- n o i c e :>

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17:00 Nov 12, 2020

Awesome. :) I’ll check your form out!

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Wolfy 🐺
17:12 Nov 12, 2020

Hee hee...

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17:49 Nov 12, 2020

Hmm, when I tried to pull up the form, it said that I didn’t have permission to use it, because I wasn’t in the owner’s “organization” lol.

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Wolfy 🐺
19:51 Nov 12, 2020

aw shoot I'll fix that :3

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06:16 Nov 10, 2020

I'll point out the grammatical errors first. It's a bit lengthy, proof that I am a grammar freak. More comments shall follow. I have quite a bit to say. One with white cracks spiderwebbed across it, and flaws refracting in its core. ~ The comma is not needed. Oh how I wish the memory were as fractured as its vessel, marred too much to hold. ~ You're missing a comma here. "Oh, how I wish the memory were as fractured as its vessel, marred too much to hold." Our mission is to conquer the rogue factions of Keyed and Leitafar, and take ...

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07:06 Nov 10, 2020

Now for the actual story. I noticed a few things but it seems as though others have already pointed those out. I won’t bore you too much but I’d like to point out the things that caught my eye straight away. The words in italics are beautiful, but what do they mean as a part of the story? Are the words not italicized his memories? Also, I have not read the first installment in the series yet (guilty!) and I think this works just as well as a stand-alone.

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13:45 Nov 10, 2020

Thanks for taking the time to look through all this! I'll get on fixing the commas... I'm working on making the actual story clearer--Haven't been able to sit down at the keyboard for a fey days.

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19:17 Nov 10, 2020

Not a problem. I was actually planning to reach out earlier when I noticed that you followed me and have been in contact with my friends, but ah well. Life gets in the way. I'm sure you can relate. In all honesty, I'm sick of the keyboard. Writing kinda loses its appeal when all you get to do is write essays and essays and essays and ughh Also, you're the new postmaster of Operation Shared Valentine? I had no idea. Well, welcome to the club! (I feel terrible about being here so late, especially since Rhonny and I made it up...🥴)

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22:16 Nov 10, 2020

Hehehehehe, all cool! I'm the kind of crazy schedules and crazy life.

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Mc Pinat
01:59 Nov 07, 2020

Sentence structure are well-crafted! How be like one please? lol

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01:35 Nov 12, 2020

So, you might want to try an online English course. :)

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Saizen 🦜
04:56 Nov 16, 2020

Ah, this is much better than part 1. The language is much clearer and I can finally understand what's going on. On characters: - So Tayo really was a melodramatic character who liked flowery poetry. That's interesting. I interpret it as such because he made those abstract flowery descriptions about crimsom glass in his subconscious monologue. And how he compared dragons to gemstones, very poetic indeed. But it is better now that he actually described things with better mental clarity when he was engaged in action. Moreover, ...

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13:29 Nov 16, 2020

Yes, a delta is a shape--I didn't want to spend more words than I had to describing a triangular shape. "Triangle" sounds really weird when you shout it out loud. XD Yes, you would be correct--Pyrdian is the equivalent of the common tongue. :) Overall thanks for the awesome critiques--your stories are on my list to read! Unfortunately it's a rather long list...

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Saizen 🦜
14:32 Nov 16, 2020

I see. It makes sense for battle commands to be short, and delta does mean triangle or as in river delta (but the origin meaning is the Greek letter nonetheless). It's more like an aesthetic thing, like how words invoke meanings in the reader's mind, most readers think of Greek when they see delta. I guess you can use 'arrow' or something instead. Kind of like how Rowling decided to call undead 'Inferius' because she thought 'zombie' invokes a non-magical, Michael Jackson feeling. I'm glad my stories are on your reading list. Don'...

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14:36 Nov 16, 2020

I reviewed "The Leviathan Games" just now. And yes, I can understand wanting to have your best foot forwards. :)

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B. W.
21:31 Nov 15, 2020

heyyy

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21:52 Nov 15, 2020

Heyo!

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B. W.
22:31 Nov 15, 2020

how ya been?

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23:07 Nov 15, 2020

Pretty good. :)

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B. W.
23:39 Nov 15, 2020

thats nice then ^^

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23:43 Nov 15, 2020

How 'bout U?

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B. W.
23:10 Nov 11, 2020

heyyyy

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18:07 Nov 11, 2020

This is a great continuation that I may have enjoyed even more that the first installment! The introduction was beautiful in its imagery - poetic. The way that you described the memories like shards of glass hints towards their beauty and allure, yet their fragility and razor sharp edges capable of pain as well. Very well done. The writing in the actual memory itself was clear and concise. One of my favorite lines, for it's comedic effect and it's characterization of Rindar in a way we didn't get to see him in the first installment, was:...

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20:08 Nov 11, 2020

Thanks so much for reviewing this! I don’t know why those grammar issues are still showing up! Adrienne Fleming pointed them out yesterday and I thought I’d fixed them! But anyways, thanks so much for reading and critiquing! I saw you put out a new story, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. ;)

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20:08 Nov 11, 2020

Thanks so much for reviewing this! I don’t know why those grammar issues are still showing up! Adrienne Fleming pointed them out yesterday and I thought I’d fixed them! But anyways, thanks so much for reading and critiquing! I saw you put out a new story, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. ;)

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20:08 Nov 11, 2020

Thanks so much for reviewing this! I don’t know why those grammar issues are still showing up! Adrienne Fleming pointed them out yesterday and I thought I’d fixed them! But anyways, thanks so much for reading and critiquing! I saw you put out a new story, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. ;)

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B. W.
04:52 Nov 11, 2020

could ya check out "Sweet revenge" and leave some feedback?

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23:24 Nov 11, 2020

Yeah, sure—I’ll add it to my reading list.

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B. W.
23:25 Nov 11, 2020

alright thank you ^^

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Litlover 📖
12:55 Nov 10, 2020

There was a lot, maybe a little too much, of the figurative language, which I'm normally all over, but use it not as a rule, but as a tool to aid you, like frosting. This time, you used a loooooooooooot of figurative language. I love it, tho, and it was wonderfully eloquent.

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13:56 Nov 10, 2020

Cool. :)

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Zilla Babbitt
02:00 Nov 10, 2020

Nice continuation. This has a totally different feel than the other, full of glass and blood and cold wind (that's what I got out of it, anyway) and yet it fits in the puzzle. The italicized parts don't fit with everything else, though, because you never explain how he got to that in-between weird place. Also, I suggest clarifying the POVs of the different sections - I think Tayo narrated the first, and Rindar the second? This will be treated as a standalone story, so I suggest you make it one. The only betrayal mentioned is in the b...

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02:32 Nov 10, 2020

I'll get on it. :) This piece is still very much in progress, so I'm in no way set on what's going on! Still working on this linearly. Maybe bad form to put out an unfinished story, but I wanted to try and get approved early at the end of the week. Great advice!

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23:10 Nov 06, 2020

I'm excited to see the Firstborn Chronicle is back with Part 2 :D. As always, excellent work, Leo. Also ur new pfp is sick, especially the reflection off the sunglasses. (How did u get the clarity/HD to be so good?!) Now, critiques and questions. First thing I noticed was that you wrote 1410 DA. Was that intentional? Or did you mean AD? Second thing, I think it would be better if you connected the first story to the second one a bit more. I understand you wrote it differently to the first, and I can definitely see that. As a reader, w...

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23:21 Nov 06, 2020

My mother was trying out her new camera on me while I was writing this story... Great critiques on all counts! I think I'm gonna write a few paragraphs from Rindar's POV and put them at the very start, to act as an orientation/introduction--we'll see how it turns out. ;) This definitely needs a BUNCH of editing, lol.

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00:30 Nov 07, 2020

Ahaha nice the photo ended up looking good ;) That would be awesome, adding Rindar's POV might balance it out a bit more, good luck!

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B. W.
06:46 Nov 10, 2020

heyyyy

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B. W.
07:27 Nov 07, 2020

i'll give this a 10/10 :) this was just as great as all of your other stories ^^

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21:53 Nov 06, 2020

Have story, will travel. I'm only partially satisfied with how this is going so far.

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Prathamesh Chavan
13:48 Nov 10, 2020

Hii, Leo Sorry to intervene, in this brutal manner, I have a request for you would be kind to give a single glance over the vehicle which my team had been working over months. https://www.instagram.com/p/CHX5VUPBJOp/?igshid=5f72nb3cgg30 Sorry to take your time and If possible like the post.Because this would help team to win

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