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The Dark Double - prologue REVISED

Posted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:57 am
by leonvr
The Dark Double


The easiest way to defeat your enemy is to befriend him; lead him into battle holding his hand. Make your enemies his. Make your victories his. Manipulate his ideas. Let him believe he rules by divine right. Then when he is in your prison he will think it paradise. Now you can play with your puppet like you would with an obedient dog. If you, likewise, control his enemies, you would be like God himself!

“Lost! ... so lost!” a lantern threw a glimmer of light into the stone cavern, beneath the monastery, illuminating a worried face. The person took a sip of Burcanti, a vintage red, with a velvety taste to delight the mood. But not tonight. Tonight it was just a poor tonic for a numbed spirit.
Java Farcea, 35 years old and wearing elegant garb in shades of blue, added some pine logs to the fire willing more warmth and comfort into both body and soul. “My friend, how do I help you? It’s so hard to see this... this pain,” he thought before saying, “They will return. They just need help. “
“I fear for my sanity... and my life,” the person paced, nervously, up and down the austere room, unabated.
Java, frowning with concern, lit some lavender incense. The smell of spring, of serenity, slowly spread in wispy tendrils of smoke, offering fumes to help placate his soul. He took a deep breath and then spoke, “The enemy rules the land now. Our defeat ... it’s hard. All we have is hope. You have to believe. You have to keep faith.”
“How? They there and then they gone again. I feel haunted. I feel so helpless. So frustrated as if there is nothing I can do,” despairing eyes fixed Java with morbid intensity.
“Those eyes. They too much. I can’t look at them for long. Such pain. Such confusion. I have to try help. The story, – I have to try it,” Java thought as he surveyed the room. His gaze fell upon a parchment, old and faded, that lay on a polished wooden writing desk; he knew it contained some hope, a way to fight back. Could it help his friend, who meant everything to him? He looked at the person pacing about the room; and he could feel the suffering, the confusion, as if it was his own. How long would it last, before madness claimed his friend? How long? He lifted the parchment and opened it. Doubts shrouded him, was it just a story – no, it had to be something more. Anything more. A way to solve this, he hoped so and quietly said, “Maybe this story will show us how? Maybe you’ll remember?”
“Remember? I want them to return. I need them. Story – about what?” tears glistened like smears of dew in the person’s deep blue eyes.
“About hope,” a pursed smile flared a brief existence, before fleeing in sympathy from Java’s face, “I hope they return, my friend. I hope they do, for hope is all we have left.” His voice, light and clear, rang through the sparse room as he began to read.

The three of us stood, calmly, in the dimly lit castle passageway, faces hidden in the long hooded robes of the Benin priesthood. “Has enough time past for the drug to work, Alises?” I asked, as I closed the secret door (the exit to the hidden passageway through the mountains) behind us shutting out the cold. An eerie light fell from the oil lanterns that lined the walls like silent sentries. The musty air was tinged with damp.
“It’s past the witching hour. Time enough,” the blue-eyed priestess said absentmindedly while pulling out a worn map from a green bag that was flung over her shoulder. Her face, which had a small angry red scar half hidden in her eyebrow, became an unwavering mask as she studied it.
“What if it doesn’t?” I edged closer to her to look at the map, it showed the mountain castle in vivid detail. On it a route, which looked simple enough to follow, was marked with black ink.
“If it doesn’t, you know what to do. Us being here must remain secret. No life is worth the risk,” she coldly said, before beckoning us both to follow as she spun to the left and set off up some stone steps, that lay cloaked in night’s dark embrace. The scuff-scuff of our boots and the rustle of our robes echoed through the corridors as we walked, in a hushed procession, through the keep.
Alises tapped once on an oak door, which was carved with esoteric symbols. I heard the faint sounds of a chair scraping, followed by a key turning, and then the door silently swung open. In the entrance stood a blond blue-eyed woman, Miriam, her eyes lit up in greeting as she said, “Quick! No time to lose.” She anxiously ushered us into the chamber before surreptitiously glancing outside, “Safe it seems, no one about. Good.”
In the chamber a fireplace, where a gentle fire smouldered, emitted a soft glow; which dimly outlined an intricate geometric pattern that had been chalked on the floor, in white. On part of this, the corners of a square, were placed four candle holders that were now been lit by Aljar, a slightly built man who moved with panther-like grace. The candles, thus awoken from their hibernation, revealed frescos, with scenes of happiness and plenty, on the walls and the high ceiling. Elegant wooden furniture graced the chamber and on a four poster bed, covered in lace netting which offered safety from the insects of the night, lay a woman, stomach bulging and drenched in sweat. I could smell the sea breeze as it seeped through an open window.
“The pattern has been drawn. The wards set,” Miriam said, settling my nerves with these words of relief. She glided over to the sleeping woman and lifted the netting that had obscured her. “The queen sleeps deeply from the drug. The shock of the mind touch is expected. She wishes no pain during childbirth.”
“You have done well, Miriam. Being the Queen’s Counsel and her healer has served us well,” Alises said as she checked the patterns on the floor seeking flaws, there were none. She looked up with gritty determination and in a serious undertone said, “Everyone inside the circle. Cast the time spell, Miriam. We need to speed time, now.” Her steely eyes fixed on me, “You know the risks. Guard us. It’s why you here.”
“Miriam’s the best. All always return from her spell, “I tried to soothe myself as I thought of failed time spells I had witnessed. The limp bodies with vacant stares. The helplessness. The bodies aging before our eyes. Death soon followed. “They will walk their dreams for the rest of their lives,” I remembered the words whispered to me in fear. “Let’s hope what people say about you is true, Miriam,” I jerked myself away from my worries and began to focus. I cleared my mind as I sat down, in a meditative position, within the circle, but outside the chalked triangle. I moved deeply into concentration, visualizing a white ball of mist. Slowly it started to form and then shimmered into place encircling us like a cocoon of safety.
I heard a melodic chant, a gentle murmuring coming from Miriam, as she began her incantation. The air wavered around us and then liquefied into a hazy mist (caused by three hours inside the circle being one minute outside) as the surroundings, outside the circle, clouded into a thick fog. The ceremony, which was now cloaked in Miriam’s spell, could begin.
“Aljar initiate the links,” Alises nodded towards her lover as she sat down, lotus position, on one corner of the chalked triangle.
Aljar, smiling grimly, smoothly folded himself into a seating position at the other corner of the triangle before closing his eyes and entering a trance and chanting, “Lvoe lfie, cgrhae lfie...”
The triangle flowed into life. A living thing, pure and white, bathed in gentle light. And then I felt it. A push. A tug. A touch on my mind. It snapped into place like a chain of steel and we were one; linked by our minds. It felt wondrous, all my senses were heightened. I could even hear the little pitter-patter of a mouse out on its midnight patrol. Clearly I saw Miriam guiding Aljar’s mind into the queen, then Aljar’s mind stealthily joined and melded with the queen’s. And then there it was the questing towards the baby. The slamming into place. The queen, distracted by Aljar, did not notice Alises silently linking with her baby. The creation could now start.
“Strengthen the walls. There’s something out there,” a warning from Alises flashed in my mind. I was already aware of them, the deviant spirits and dancing demons, lashing against the circle. They were as harmless and irritating as pesky flies, and no threat to my defences, even when their efforts increased and their glee turned to frustration and then to rage, so I was not too worried.
The portent time, the new moon and the signs in the stars, was upon us; and Aljar’s links were in place. The secret magical rite could begin. A soft repetitive chant pierced the air as Alises spoke, in tongues, to initiate the rite. The dark double began to take shape.

The monotony of holding the protection, of the circle, caused my mind to wander. I remembered a time like it was yesterday. “It’s all in your mind. Ignore the cold. See the inner fire. Yes use that. Heat your body,” I thought as I shivered in my wet clothing; an icy wind tugged at my beard, leaving little icicles in its wake; snow folded around me like a blanket. “Cold so cold. Concentrate. Go to your inner fire. Let the heat rise. Imagine it. Mind is power!” And there it was a hint, so subtle I almost missed it. I grabbed hold of it in wild desperation and then calmly began to feed the feeble flame, with my energy, until it became a burning torch. The warmth swirled through my veins, and a blissful heat spread through me. Steam began to rise from my clothes as my body dried them; the snow continued to fall. Peace welled through my spirit as I realized I had done it.
“You have used your inner fire. The clothes have dried thrice. You are ready, it is time. Seek the caves, one will be for you. In your silence you will learn of your power,” I thought of my teacher’s encouraging words as I climbed higher, through the melting snow, into the Ice Mountains; an icy wind billowing around me. After a half a day’s walk I found a little cave, which would be my home for the next lunar cycle.
I meditated and visualized for days. Nothing happened. I kept persisting; every day I tried to see him, the jolly monk I wished to create, but to no avail. My frustration increased, cleaving at my soul. And then there it was; insubstantial at first, then a bit of mist, then a vague shape, then a figure emerged and started to come alive. After a while the double, the jolly monk I had created, completely manifested, and gained his life.
When I went back down the mountain, he slavishly followed. I was due to go on a trip to Ribet, by caravan, and on a whim I allowed him to join me, to see how he would cope. On the trip his confidence began to increase and he became efficient at basic tasks: riding a horse, cooking, eating meals and other routine activities. After awhile he even started to hold small conversations, well enough, and seemed too often be in a joyful happy mood. His life had taken on a life of its own; it was as if my link to him was no longer needed. At the end of the journey I decided to end his existence.
I hired a room in Ribet, and after comfortably settling in; put myself into a trance before extending my essence to the double. “Out! This is my host. Mine. I found it. Gave it life. Mine!” the jolly monk hissed.
“What?” I gasped surprised. “Something is in there,” a cold terror engulfed me. I tried to pull at the substances, to unravel them. A force blocked me and raced towards me slamming into my mind, feeding. I felt myself slipping. Darkness everywhere. My energy lay scattered. In desperation I tried to pull all my energy together, and slowly it danced together in a white ball of fire. I sent my energy after the ‘something’. Searing into it, chasing it. I stormed after it and cornered it in the jolly monk’s mind where its strength revived as mine began to wane. A cord... I could see a cord. I pulled, it started to unravel, I pushed, and it slipped out into the atmosphere. Pulling, pushing, the jolly monk lost his smile and started to thrash in desperation as he dissipated; returning to the air that birthed him. Exhausted I returned to my body.
“And what is this! WHAT!” horror filled my essence as I returned to find a cold foul mind waiting within me. It laughed and shrieked in delight. Walls appeared blocking my entry. Traps appeared to try ensnare my essence. “Please light help me. HELP!”I screamed and gathered all my essence, I could still find, into an inner heat. I started spinning this into a ball of white light and sent it slamming through my body where it splintered in shards. I pounded all the shards at the alien mind in a frantic clawing until I felt its hold waiver. I kept pushing and pushing trying to rid myself of all the vile bits of the thing in me. A cold evil slowly seeped out of me. Bile rose in my throat. I vomited and felt a scaly thing leave my mouth, leaving a taste of putrefied blood. A foul smelling substance, a portion of the enemy, lay convulsing on the ground, dying. It couldn’t survive without a host, I knew that, but I burnt it, just for good measure and in fear. I glanced at Alises, still in a deep trance, and shivered. I did not envy her one bit.
“We need a fourth person, a protector. I have a plan to fight back against the enemy. We know they have followed us. We too important for their magic rites, to be allowed to escape. They won’t let us rest, the idiots among us know this but they sit around and do nothing. Well I am not going to hide or try run again. I have heard you are good...” said Alises, who had reputation of being earnest and aloof, as she perused me with those steel eyes of hers, in a calculating kind of way.
“Yes I’ll join,” I replied before she had a chance to finish. I, to, was fervently sick of running, and the thought of putting up a fight made my blood race. “What’s the plan? “ I asked, more out of formality, than caring about the answer.
“I will create the double, Aljar will do the telepathic link, and Miriam will prepare the way and guide the birth. What we lack is protection. That’s where you come in. We leave soon, be ready,” Alises said.
“Ok,” I found out afterwards that I only been approached after many had rejected her ‘mad plan’. Instead of this upsetting me, it excited me. I was blinded by my lust for wild adventure, and fortified by the arrogance of youth. Likewise, I didn’t care that I only knew a small inkling of her plan.

Alises, her hood thrown back, sat in steeled determination building the link with the baby. And then I sensed it. Her tapping of the baby’s essence, mingling it with her own. Another shape began to form in the womb, a misty twin started to materialize. The imbuing of life into the double had begun.


The words appeared in my mind. The same words, over and over again, repeating themselves in a seductive pattern, strangling my thoughts. The spirits and demons outside were swatted away by a presence that was their superior in every way. Trembling, I added power and strength to the circular walls, blocking out the repetitive words. THUMP. It hit my shield, testing its strength. THUMP. It was still there trying to usurp control, buzzing around like a mosquito waiting to pierce the skin and claim its bloody prize.
The days passed through the waxing and waning of the moon. THUMP. It left me in no peace. Always at the edge of my awareness harassing me. THUMP. I began to feel like a mouse that was been played with by a smug cat. On it went, seeking and testing, with increasing fury. “So relentless. What is it? ” I thought, as it battered away at the circle. I wished I could ask my entranced comrades, but they were all deep in concentration, involved in their spells.


The words sent an icy claw of terror creeping up my spine. I pulsed more power into our protecting circle, blocking out the cryptic words that briefly sang in my mind. “Don’t understand. How is it seeing us? The time spell. It should be – impossible,” my thinking, about it, fed my fear. THUMP. “There it is again, will it get through? What happens if it does? What am I doing? No, concentrate! Calm yourself. You giving it power. Remember, mind is power,” I managed to halt my downward spiral into negativity, calmed my breathing, and tore my attention away from the intruder. I flared more power into our shield, and forced my awareness to focus on the double forming.

After a full lunar cycle, on the night of the new moon, the ceremony reached its climax. A monotonous chant, at first a murmur, built into a passionate crescendo raising all my energy levels to breathtaking levels. I, mesmerized by the mantra, joined in the chanting. This dulled the thumping into silence.
A dull pain birthed itself in my head and slowly it built in intensity. Suddenly stabs of searing white hot pain struck like lightning. It felt like someone was within my skull, and using a heavy mallet to beat on my brain. Pain, now, dominated my mind. Struggling to stay alert, I became lucid and my vision began to blur.
“Tell her to push, Aljar,” Miriam’s voice flashed blurrily into my mind. “Push,” I vaguely saw Miriam bending over the queen.
The chanting intensified. “Estnxcie!” a final word of power sounded and then deathly silence. Alises slumped over in exhaustion. A primal cry pierced the night, followed by another one. The twins had been born.


The words chanted in a rhythmic procession in my mind. I felt myself slipping into illusion. I tried to wall the sounds off and increase the power in our shield, but I was spent and had nothing left to offer. And then it happened, a tear in our circle. I could feel an alien presence, racing in triumph towards the babies. “danger... something... through,” I pulsed a warning to my companions as I felt myself drifting into darkness, helpless.
Vaguely, I could see the presence bearing down on the babies. A shield erupted around them. And a powerful white light struck at the alien presence pushing it to...Alises. In it went, into the vacant looking Alises. She jerked in spasms, and then her eyes opened, they seemed strange, almost as if they were... wise and benevolent. Aljar floated towards Alises, who turned to look at him with pure love, in a surreal slow motion. Aljar, with tears running like rivers down his face, wavered before putting a knife to her throat and cutting it. Alises, lifeless, slumped into Aljar’s arms.
Her death triggered my recovery. THUMP. My mind shook itself clear of the fog, the wooden floor beneath felt substantial again, and my senses returned. Revived, I pushed the rent in the circle closed again. The enemy, for I now knew that’s what it was, thrashed in desperation at our circle. It seemed, though, as if its power had been blunted by Alises’s death.
“What happened?” I asked, still in shock.
“The enemy broke through when it found a way to nullify you. You did well though, we expected it much earlier. Alises sent her essence into the double. She pushed the enemy into her body and that was my signal to kill her. It was hard - I thought it was her for a moment. But she had warned me about that. The alien presence in her is dead; Alises’s body its tomb. It needs a living host,” a grieving Aljar told me while he cradled Alises in his arms.
“Our first victory! Alises put the plan in motion. It’s up to us now. Aljar will tell you. What we need do,” Miriam quickly said as she gave one of the baby’s to Aljar. Then she delved into herself and the air shimmered around us. The chamber returned to normal as the fog lifted. The time spell ended and with that the alien presence winked out.
At the bottom of the mountain, by the rocky exit: with the mountain city looming above us, and the sun cresting the horizon, and a cold bite in the air, Aljar, the baby, tied snug in a sling to him, and me stood saying a prayer over Alises’s body before we slipped it the rock laden corpse into the welcoming sea. She had given her life but at least we now had a chance. We had hope. For the dark double was in the world.

In the northlands, in a cavern hidden under a sacred sect’s monastery, Java looked at his friend, “They will return, there is always hope.”
“I hope so, Java. Because I don’t understand. Who am I? When will my memory return?”

Re: The Dark Double - prologue

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:20 am
by Nightender
Hi leonvr. Welcome!

Since you have this posted, I'm hoping you're looking for feedback because I have some for you.

Show, don't tell. I looked at the second paragraph, just after the first break:

"As I sit here in a secret library beneath this old stave monastery and think upon the events that conspired to place me here I realise how strange all this seems."

In this sentence you tell me the narrator is sitting, you tell me he's in a "secret" library under a monastery, and you tell me that he's thinking. Since this is first person and a fragment of a greater text within the story, I don't know that you need that particular detail. By the same logic, he doesn't need to say that he's thinking; by recording this, we know he's thinking. That leaves the secret monastery.

From the amount of descriptive detail you have in the same paragraph, I wonder if first person is the way you should go with this. You have a vivid sense of the location and you convey that to a fair degree. I admit that I think first person is overdone these days, but that's my opinion. I love that you know what's in this room and you know how it'll play in the story. What hurts, aside from the telling, is your use of present tense. With the exception of a verbal exchange of some sort (dialogue, a speech, etc.), most things are in past tense, or at least not an immediate tense. I'm not saying you can't do that, I'm saying it's really hard.

I suggest reading it out loud. I have to do that a lot with my writing. I also obsess over how stories start and how they engage the reader to keep reading. I hope I've been helpful. Best of luck!

Re: The Dark Double - prologue

Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:20 am
by leonvr
Thanks for your commennt. The first person thing is a conundrum I am not averse to changing mainly because writing from the first person in four different aspects is proving extremely hard to do as I have to vary the style of writing to reflect the character which has become really hard. So may just revert to third.

As you say the tense is an issue as well of which I am aware. The prologue I admit need to be rewritten but I will do this at the end for I am not yet sure if I need to make it more clear or more opaque

Re: The Dark Double - prologue

Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:36 pm
by Nightender
I can understand wanting to hold off on that revision. Getting through a draft is important, so don't let any comment stop you.

I personally feel first person has become overused. It's thrown around as a default when it doesn't need to be. I think you have a solid understanding of your characters and the setting, so you should let that guide you. If you want to limit what we see and filter it through a single source, you should go with first person. If you're going to have several perspectives, you might want limited third person perspective. Brandon Sanderson does a great job with limited third person and I wish I could copy what he does with it.

Re: The Dark Double - prologue

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:27 am
by leonvr
Thanks. I have actually changed to the third person for my book; using Robert Jordan and Sanderson as influences, as you say though that is difficult. I have left some stuff in the first person: the story that get's read, and some letters. I have rewritten it now, as its just was not anyway near good enough. Too much telling, not showing. To little dialogue. To much infodumping. The first chapter is even worse, as nothing much happens, so I have put in some internal conflict and tried to build suspense a little better and cut all the infodumping ( the characters can reveal that bit by bit).

Hopefully It has been improved. Will still redraft after finishing but at least want to redo what I have done.

Re: The Dark Double - prologue

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 3:00 pm
by Nightender
Remember to keep pushing through your current draft. If you keep going over the first part again and again, you might not get to the end.

You might want to check out Strunk and White's The Elements of Writing. It's a great book on writing style that a lot of writers and editors use. Take a look at it if you get a chance.