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Rite and Rune

 
Rite and Rune

This is... a story. A world. A something.
What am I looking for? Some advice, some critique, what you thought was good, what you thought was terrible. Your first reaction. Things like that. Any thoughts you have would be welcome.
I hope you enjoy reading this.

Rites
White Ritual is the easiest and safest. White Rituals generally have little effect on the caster or anyone around them. They affect energy, usually creating light or warmth, though they are also often used to cool a thing or area. White Ritual demands less precision than most other rituals.
Green Ritual requires more precision than White Ritual, but is still reasonably safe unless poorly applied. Green Ritual affects the environment, usually plants.
Blue Ritual requires great precision and is more dangerous than Green Ritual. Blue Ritual affects the physical bodies of living beings. Performed incorrectly, it can easily kill or cause suffering. However, it can also be used to heal injuries.
Yellow Ritual affects the weather. It requires great precision and can cause great havoc, which is why it is rarely attempted except in cases of great desperation.
Grey Ritual affects inanimate objects. It requires great precision but is generally safe. This is the ritual type generally used in halfling ritualistic technology.
Red Ritual is the most dangerous type. It affects thought and emotion. It is the hardest to control, and the most demanding of precision. Errors that would be irrelevant in other rituals can kill, drive the affected to insanity, or otherwise severely damage their minds. Red Rituals can affect the caster, someone else, or both. They always affect living beings. Red Ritual is highly addictive, and hence has been banned by order of King and Senate.

-From a student's essay on ritual


White Ritual
Though she had performed this ritual many times before, the priestess was just as careful this time as she had been every other. She drew the runes upon the wall, runes to call light encircling the symbol of her faith, drawn in chalk upon stone.
Once done, she backed away, placing the chalk into a pocket, and began the ritual. Here, so far from any ley line, it was difficult to call enough power for any but the simplest of rituals. More precision was needed.
She began with the traditional invocation of her people.
"By rite and rune."
As the priestess spoke, she stretched out her hands to hold them out to the symbol drawn upon the wall. She felt the magic coming, felt it draw into her and then flow out into the runes, and she smiled at the familiar sensation.
"By sun and star. In the name of our Lord, let light spill forth."
The symbol drawn upon the wall began to glow softly.
The priestess turned, still smiling, and went to complete her preparations.

Green Ritual
Raima examined her daughter's work critically.
"Redo that one," she said, pointing to a rune.
Imani obediently erased the contested rune and redrew it.
"Better," Raima said with a nod. "You are progressing well in your studies, Imani."
"Thank you, Mother," Imani said quietly.
"You are ready, I think, to assist me in tending the garden," Raima pronounced.
"Truly, Mother?" Imani asked excitedly. Raima's garden contained many delicate plants - relatively small errors in the rituals could ruin them.
"Yes," Raima said warmly. "Come, there is work to do."
Imani obediently stood up and followed her mother out of the door.

Blue Ritual
It was hard to form runes here in the forest. Imani had to cut away most of the plants in a circle, and then cut the runes into the dirt beneath them.
It was work, but she did it calmly and carefully. She could not afford to mess up now.
Not with Kar's life depending on it.
Kar watched as his sister's daughter worked around him, a slight, fond smile touching his lips. Imani was a good girl.
He almost wished... wished what?
Kar's thoughts faded into darkness before he could work out what he wished.
---
When Kar awoke, his injuries were gone, but he was surrounded.
A human man stood with one arm around Imani, who silently watched all that was happening with the calm she had long practiced. The human, indeed everyone there except Imani and Kar, wore a police badge.
A halfling, clearly the senior police officer, had a stunrod pointed at Kar's chest.
"Get up slowly, elf," she snarled. "You're under arrest for the murder of the elf Kiro."
Kar decided that what he wished most of all was that his brother was still alive.

Yellow Ritual
The ritual itself was not his favorite part.
Nor was it the rain falling.
No, Rathor's favorite part of Yellow Ritual was the expressions on people's faces when the drought ended.
It was a pity that responsibility prevented him from using Yellow Ritual too often, but just because he was human did not mean he lacked a conscience or the capacity to recognize consequences, no matter what the more racist halflings said.

Grey Ritual
Amar was so very bored.
Stupid project for a stupid basic-level class that he could have passed in his sleep five years ago-!
But if he wanted to graduate, he had to do it, so the young halfling heaved a sigh of frustration and got to work.
This piece went there, and that one went there, and a few adjustments like so...
And of course, the words of the ritual.
"Move and still, turn and stay, carry..."
---
And done.
Amar smirked at his creation. It was such a simple, trifling thing, but he felt a sense of accomplishment at being done with it.
Amar decided to ride the little autocart to class the next day. Sure, it was showing off a bit, but what was life without a little fun?

Red Ritual
Mari ran.
She had no chance. She knew that.
She was not sure she minded.
But she ran anyway.
Why was she running away?
It was hopeless, she knew. They would find her, take her back there.
She would die.
Would that death be so bad?
Every moment she kept running, she delayed death a little longer.
She was not sure it mattered.
Mari did not want to die.
But she could never live.
---
Mari sank to the ground, shivering. She missed it already. She had never realized how much she craved it.
Needed it.
Not that she had had long to judge. How long had it been? A day, two?
Forever?
Mari staggered to her feet. She had to keep running-
-she had to find it-
-she had to get away-
-she had to go back-
-why?
Where was she going? What was she doing?
Mari stumbled, fell, and did not get up.
She could not remember.
She needed the ritual. Then it would not matter.
No! She could not-
She had to.
She could not perform that ritual. It would kill her if she tried.
She would die if she did not.
Shaking, Mari began to draw in the dirt of the unpaved road.
---
"Human female," the coroner reported in a bored tone, "dead of a poorly-cast Red Ritual."
"Another Redhead," growled a dwarf policeman, slamming one fist into the wall.
"Kindly don't damage the building," the Chief of Police said evenly.
"It's the fifth one this week, Chief!"
"I'm well aware of that," she said, still calm, "but breaking walls won't help us deal with the problem."
The dwarf growled again, but elected not to hit more things.
"Are you sure she cast the ritual herself?" asked a different policeman, an orc.
"Sure as I can be," said the coroner. "She'd clearly been casting a ritual when she died, and there were no signs of any other rituals in the area."
The Chief shook her head.
"I'm aware that you two think there's some sort of sinister conspiracy involving Red Ritual," she said, "but there simply isn't enough evidence to support that theory. Stop wasting your time on dead ends and work on something productive."
With that advice, the Chief of Police left the room.
"Halflings," the dwarf growled. "Always thinkin' they know everything."

You're using line breaks too much. They lose meaning when every single sentence has its own line. The Green Ritual segment is fine, as it's clearly two people talking, but the rest of them are too choppy and disjointed this way. Unless your intent is that it should be considered poetry, in which case, never mind.

I'm curious if each piece will be expanded into something larger, or if the whole is intended to be a prologue to something? I'm interested to read about the characters that are just hinted at, but don't really have enough to go on to be actually interested yet.

I am not entirely certain why I do that with line breaks. It just feels right to me. I shall try to cut back on them. Red Ritual, at least, was supposed to come off as a bit disjointed, to reflect the rituals' distortion of Mari's thoughts and feelings. Did that work, or was it too much?
I am still not entirely sure where to go with some of these, but I shall see where this takes me. I think I shall try to expand them into each other and unite them into one story.
If anyone has questions, please ask them.

White Ritual
"Officer," the priestess said hesitantly, "I realize you need to do your work, but I need to purify-"
"Not until I've gathered the evidence," the dwarf policeman snapped.
His partner, an unusually calm and polite orc, said placatingly, "Priestess, the purification'll destroy the evidence we need. I know you're just wantin' to preserve the sanctity o' the temple, but if'n we can't find out what's happenin', more people will die."
The priestess looked up to meet the orc's eyes. Being an elf, she had quite a way to look.
"Well," she said after a moment, "I suppose the Lord will forgive the delay for the sake of the lives of His people."

Green Ritual
Raima wept for the death of her brother Kiro. Her daughter stood still and silent beside her, sorrow on her face but not a tear in her eyes. Her husband stood on her other side with his arm around her, offering what comfort he, who had no siblings, could.
Kiro's twin Kar did not attend his brother's funeral. He was imprisoned, awaiting trial for Kiro's murder.

Blue Ritual
Fire swept through Ashcroft that summer. No one was entirely sure how it started - some said in the forest, others in the town; some said a malfunctioning machine, others a poorly performed ritual. The more important point was that most of Ashcroft and much of the surrounding forest was burned to the ground.
Most of the elves moved out of Ashcroft after that, Imani and her parents among them.

Yellow Ritual
Rathor sighed and slumped in his seat. It was going to be a long wait for the airship, he reflected morosely. There had been trouble at a major port city, and the ships were way behind schedule. Luckily for Rathor, at the moment he lacked a schedule to be behind on.
"Cheer up," Rathor said to himself. "The sun's shining, you got to perform Yellow Ritual not long ago, and all in all things are going great."
But Rathor could not shake the feeling that something was about to go horribly wrong.

Grey Ritual
"Heya, Amar," said Lik, slumped over his desk.
"Heya, Lik," Amar replied, frowning at Lik's posture. "What's the matter?"
"You know Rahi?" Lik asked.
"That girl you like? What about her?"
"She's gone missing."
Amar slid into the seat next to Lik.
"How long ago?"
"Two days. No one knows what happened. She just went out for a walk and... never came back."
Amar put a hand on his friend's back.
"Hey. Don't lose hope yet."

Red Ritual
"There's got to be something," Jin growled, frustrated. "With so many, they have to have gotten careless at least once..."
"Jin... are you sure it's not just a coincidence?" Zabek asked. "Do we have any evidence other than just the number of deaths?"
"Zabek. Some of the people who've died, their families would've sworn up and down that they'd never play with Red Ritual. And that girl in the church, you saw the way she was reaching for the altar. Like she was begging for help."
"She could've just realized how badly it'd messed her up."
Jin sighed.
"You know I don't really have anything," he said tiredly. "Just my gut telling me there's something more to this. Aren't you orcs all about listening to your gut, anyway?"
"More than most," Zabek agreed. "All I'm sayin', Jin, is that just maybe we can't see anythin' because there's nothin' to see."

Hmmm... interesting. Indeed.

The first post I read was actually the July 24th post. I found these to be compelling and well-written, making me want to understand and read more about everything involved.

Then I went up to the beginning of the thread, and began to read from there. Upon doing so, I have the following comments.

Regarding July 23rd Post's Red Ritual:
Use of smaller sentences and the short bursts of character thought is effective for creating a sense of disjointedness; adding line breaks to that is not necessary. However, saving extra line breaks for the end can add to dramatic effect of the conclusion.

Less is often more in terms of communicating character distress (I am trying to learn this myself and am really very far from getting the hang of it, but hey, we're all in the process of developing our craft, aren't we?).

I understand that you may have been using italics to show her thoughts. But because she is thinking in two very different directions, consider using the italics a different way: to signify which of her two minds about the matter is being communicated.



Occasionally, reading the word "ritual" so frequently became distracting (especially in the students' thesis part). Perhaps interchange it with "rite" to mix it up a bit.

I think the words you use to explain the character's statements are very effective; as is your command of words to efficiently translate meaning/emotion behind things. (examples: ... the contested rune... Raima pronounces... and all the words used to describe conversations in the July 24th post).

That is all I have time to comment about right now, but be encouraged - you've got a LOT of really good stuff going on here and I would love to read more.

Bless you and write-on!

After some delay, I return!

Thanks for the compliments and advice, both of you!
Regarding the use of italics in the first Red Ritual: I was not using them to show Mari's thoughts, but rather to show those of her thoughts that were heavily influenced by the Red Ritual. The line "But she could never live" refers to the addictiveness of Red Ritual - the fact that even if Mari somehow escapes from her pursuers, the craving for Red Ritual will haunt her. If she gives in, the rituals will soon kill her; but for someone addicted to Red Ritual, living without it does not feel like living at all.
I am trying to work on the repetitiveness, but it is tricky at times.


White Ritual
"Help..."
The whisper was so soft that the priestess almost failed to hear it, but her ears were as keen as any other elf's, and hear it she did. She turned around to see a young halfling leaning on the doorframe as though he would otherwise collapse. She hurried towards him and knelt to be closer to his eye level.
"What do you need?" she asked gently.
"Found her," the halfling gasped. "Too late. She was already... and they saw me. I tried to run. Failed."
"I am sorry," the priestess said, "but I do not understand. Who did you find? Who saw you?"
The young man laughed bitterly.
"Can barely see straight, priestess," he whispered. "Going to die soon. They weren't too careful with the rites. Careful enough to save themselves. Not enough to save me."
"Who? What rites?"
"Don't know their names. Know their faces, but that doesn't help much, does it? Red Ritual. They're neck-deep in it. Running a..."
He trailed off, eyes losing their focus. After a short time, during which the priestess's worry started making its way to becoming panic, they came back into focus again, but he looked confused.
"What was I saying?" he asked.
"Something about Red Ritual, and running?" the priestess offered.
"Ran from them, didn't make it. Ran again, made it here."
"But who are they?"
The halfling did not answer, eyes again losing focus, this time for longer. The priestess waited. There was no real 'cure' for the effects of Red Ritual - the only way to recover was time. Any ritual that could counteract it would also be Red, and hence only worsen the problem. If, as was the case by the sound of it, a misperformed Red Ritual had brought this unwellness upon her halfling visitor, then there was nothing to be done but stay with him and see that he did not try to perform rituals in this state.
When the halfling's eyes focused again, the priestess repeated her question.
"Don't know what you're talking about," he muttered in reply. "Don't know who 'they' are."
Ice crept up the priestess's spine. If he was that badly off, then there was no way he would live much longer.

Green Ritual
"What are you reading, Imani?" Raima asked her daughter.
Imani looked up from her book.
"A mechanics text," she answered.
Raima frowned.
"Why?"
"It is interesting, if difficult to understand."
"Imani," Raima said gently, "you are an elf. Ritual comes easily to you. Machinery does not. Focus on what you can do well, rather than wasting your time with a task that you will never perform as well as others can."
Imani looked up at Raima, her usual calm marred by the hurt in her eyes.
"May I go to the library, Mother?" she asked evenly. "It appears I should be reading a different book."

Blue Ritual
"You're looking glum," the librarian commented as Imani passed his desk. She had only recently moved to Waycross City, but it had not taken long for the librarian to become familiar with her. Imani was the only elf he could think of who would check out books on machines.
"Mother disapproves of my choice of reading material," Imani explained, stopping and turning to face him. "She thinks I should stop wasting my time in fruitless study."
Imani placed the book she carried on the desk. The desk, like most everything in big cities, was made to halfling specifications - meaning that Imani, who was still a child, could use it easily, as could the dwarven librarian, who at his full growth was about a head taller than the average halfling adult.
"Bah," the librarian scoffed. "Fruitless, is it? Let me tell you something, elf-girl, machines'll never let you down. They're as finicky about the details as any ritual, but ley lines don't mean anything - no matter where you are, the machine'll always work the same."
"Most types of halfling ritualistic technology-" Imani began, but the dwarf interrupted.
"A real machine don't need ritual to work."
"You say that," Imani accused calmly, "because you are a dwarf, and find ritual difficult to comprehend."
"Maybe I do," the librarian replied, equally calm, "but wouldn't you say the same about ritual? That a true ritual doesn't need any machinery?"
Imani considered this a moment, then slowly nodded.
"This text is a little too advanced for me," she said, indicating the book on the desk. "I know this is supposed to be a beginner's text, but do you have anything even more basic?"

Yellow Ritual
Rathor was very grateful when he finally got on the airship. The trouble in Waycross was not over, but things had died down a little. The disappearances had stopped, at least for the time being, but the police had yet to figure out their cause.
"Is anyone sitting here?"
Rathor looked up and saw nothing, so he looked down to see a halfling dressed in a high priest's robes indicating the spot next to Rathor on the bench. The human shook his head wordlessly, and the halfling took the seat. The priest was far more comfortable than the human, as the airship's seating, like most things, had been built for people his size. Rathor found that his comparatively long legs cramped up after a while sitting on what to him was a bench made for children.
"How far are you taking the ship?" the halfling inquired.
"To Waycross," Rathor replied. "And you, priest?"
"To the same place," the halfling replied, a faint smile appearing on his face. It soon vanished into a dour expression.
"Something the matter?" Rather asked.
"I have to reconsecrate a temple," the priest answered.
Rathor drew a circle over his heart.
"May I ask why?"
"I'm afraid I'm not supposed to talk about it," the priest explained apologetically.

Grey Ritual
"Where is he?" Amar hissed, pacing back and forth.
"Calm down, Amar," said Liam. "You're tiring me out just watching you, and it's not making Lik get here any faster."
"Maybe it's not," Amar retorted, "but it's distracting me from the fact that Lik's late even though he hates being late."
"I'm sure he has a good reason," Liam soothed.
"So am I," Amar said grimly. "What worries me is what that reason might be."

Red Ritual
The Chief of Police was distracted from her brooding over the recent deaths and disappearances by a knock at her door.
"Enter," she called.
The door opened to admit the young halfling whose job it was to sit at the front desk and deal with visitors.
"Um, Chief?" she said nervously. "There's a priestess saying she wishes to report an incident."
"An elf?" the Chief asked.
"Yes, ma'am."
The Chief of Police stood up with a frown.
"That's not a good sign," she muttered, more to herself than anyone else.
"Ma'am?"
"Never mind. Did she say anything about the nature of the incident?"
"No, ma'am."
"Very well. Please bring her here. And fetch Officer Zabek here while you're at it... I suspect he'll want to hear this."
"Officer Zabek, but not Officer Mathon, Chief?"
"Is that hard to understand?"
"No, ma'am," the young woman assured the Chief hastily, "I just wanted to be sure I'd heard you correctly."
"Well, you had. Now go."
"Yes, ma'am."
---
Zabek had a dazed expression when he returned from the meeting.
"What'd the Chief want with you?" Jin asked gruffly.
"Jin," Zabek said slowly, "I think we've got a lead."

wow thats a good reading right there! Pm me the finished one if you can, id love to read the whole thing





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