A Chapter by Richard Linsley III

Before the story began


      The Elven demigoddess, Illandra Moriandus, sat with her face cupped in her hands.  As she cried, tears rolled down her arms and stained her sky blue robes.  In the Great Hall of the Heavens it was easy to feel alone.  The massive granite ceiling, supported by thick gypsum marble columns, seemed to stretch into the sky.  Thousands of thrones lined the oval auditorium on five balconies leaving only enough of the alabaster walls for two great wooden doors.  The Great Hall’s shape allowed the many thrones to be in place; however, only a few hundred thrones held a god at any one time.

Some of the thrones were fashioned of alabaster, adorned with onyx, ruby, obsidian and diamond.  Many others were of precious woods gilded in the particular god’s favorite metal.  Each throne was unique and suited to the mindset of the god it was intended for.  A few were crafted to seat one person; almost all were fashioned to rest two.  With very few exceptions, a God sat alongside their Goddess, locked together through the eternity as equals in power and responsibility.  Seated on the third level on her single throne, the demigod Illandra continued to let the tears fall from her eyes.  It wasn’t until her mentor, Matteus, approached that she began to control the tears and her feelings.

“Did you hear about Damien?” her voice a whisper; her eyes searched for answers in his. Matteus’ gaze held no answers; however, his hand held the single act of compassion.  Illandra took the cloth he offered and wiped her eyes. She tried to give a smile in return.

“Yes, I did.” He replied after drawing in a deep breath.  “I came as soon as I heard.  Do you know where he is now, Illandra?”  Illandra watched as Matteus looked around the Great Hall of the Heavens.  His cotton white robes contrasted with the heavy armor that he wore underneath.  He no longer needed the armor but wore it out of habit as it was a gift from an adventure long past.  Even with the heavy armor, he made his way through the masses with grace.  His scarlet sash denoted the rank of a young god, with a demigod trainee.  

“No, I don't,” she replied to his question her mind wandered around the Hall looking through the vast crowd beneath her for any hint of her lover's whereabouts.  Where could he be?  

    “Just be thankful that I'm not the one angry with you,” her mentor sat on his larger throne next to Illandra.  “Be honest with yourself, you both got lucky this time.”  

Illandra’s own sky blue robe flowed like silken water from her shoulders onto the seat she sat upon.  A highland elf, she aspired to be the next of the Elven goddesses.  Curling her hair behind her pointed ears, she felt out of place in the expansive Hall.  While she was happy to be selected as a demigod, this place just wasn’t home to her.  She felt more comfortable in the close protection of the wooded vale of her homeland.  Now her love was missing and she was alone.  

    “I heard on the way in that Nil Edan's just arrived,” Matteus mumbled to Illandra while fixing one of his leg plates.  “It won’t be long before we find out what happened to Damien.  Put on your strong face.”

    On any other day, the tasks and pageantry involved with managing the cosmos kept the Great Hall bustling with sounds.  Angelic messengers would come and go upon errands issued by the watchful gods who assumed the duty to control the cosmos.  A detail of armored celestial guards would have executed the socially required drill commands to hail and depart the visiting gods to the Great Hall.  Today, no extra luxury was afforded to the gods.  

In quiet voices, the gods spoke among themselves speculating about the recent events.  Some admired the walls, where the deeds of the most powerful gods were etched for time and eternity.  Others found their friends and spoke under their breath.  As the final god entered, carrying with him a stack of loose parchments in his hand, each god dismissed their attendants and reverently found their place among the many thrones.  The one task of the day was about to begin: All were here to witness the punishment of one of their own.  

    In the heart of the hall on a central dais stood a plain ivory throne lined with royal scarlet.  Its occupant sat pondering the several parchments he held in his left hand.  His right hand scraped the day-old stubble on his cheek and chin.  Known only to his closest friends during his mortal days, his name was lost with the passage of time.  He was known in the corridors of Heaven as “Nil Edan” or “First Man.”  In a collection of Gods, Elder Gods and Ancients, he was supreme to them all.  While His word was law, his judgments final, rarely did he have to minister in this office.  It was his duty to chair the upcoming meeting.  Not only was he was the god that established the Laws of the Heavens; he was also the god who sponsored Damien into the courts of the heavens.

    Nil Edan sighed as he reviewed the parchments.  He waved off the celestial that approached the dais to deliver a glass of water.  After a short time, he rose from the throne and stood before the podium; the parchments fell from his hands to rest on top of the podium.  

    "Bring in the accused."  Nil Edan’s voice exhausted, commanded absolute obedience from those subordinate to him.  Straightening his golden robe, he looked to the two celestials standing at the Great Hall’s two main doors.  

    The guards opened the doors to the Great Hall opened to reveal a second pair of celestial guards with the accused one in tow.  The guards grabbed Damien’s arms to move him into the room.  Damien kicked one into the wall, and threw the other halfway to the podium.  A thin tendril of shadow wrapped itself around the first guard’s neck.  The next instant found her flailing about a foot from the floor.  Damien looked at the second celestial, knelt down and a second shadow bound the male guard to the ground.  Damien tightened his fist and the sound of the celestial’s thick metal armor buckling echoed off the alabaster walls.

    “Should I kill them now for their mistake?” Damien challenged.  

    “Enough!” Nil Edan shouted.  “Damien let them go.”  Nil Edan’s temper flared at Damien’s disobedience.  It wasn’t enough to break a law; Damien wanted to make a spectacle of it.  

“Thine wish,” Damien retorted.  “mine command.”  Both celestials were released, Nil Edan dismissed them to leave.

    Damien’s white shoulder-length hair starkly contrasted his dark clothing and even darker skin.  White markings on his onyx face, neck and arms appeared alive as they shifted from one shape to another.  Damien’s solid black eyes and skin bore the reminders of the trespasses performed on Damien’s race by the Pantheon eons ago.  

    The accused one stood up and locked his eyes on Nil Edan.  Nil Edan closed his own eyes for a moment and took a deep breath.  When he opened his eyes, a wave of anger filled the room.  

"Damien Moriandus,” he began, “by my hand, I allowed you into the heavens.  Four hundred years ago, I knew of your then unlimited potential.  Now you stand before me in dishonor.  You are charged with an attempt to usurp the Thrones of the Gods."

    Nil Edan held a steeled gaze with Damien and his temper slipped causing a new wave of anger to inundate the hall.  Grabbing the parchments off the podium, he threw them across the floor at Damien.  

“I do not need the testimonies of others to prove this event.”  Nil Edan continued.  “I know your heart, Damien.  I know your lust for the one thing denied you.”

    "Do you not know that your throne in the heavens was assured already?" asked Nil Edan.  “It was only to be a matter of time before you were to have enough followers strong enough to support you as a full god; and be acceptable to the Pantheon.”

    Nil Edan stepped down from the podium and faced the accused one.  The eldest god held a glowing blue rod in his hand.  He held the rod out in front of Damien.  Not knowing what to expect, Damien hesitated; and then cautiously reached for the rod.  

    As Damien took hold of the rod it writhed and shifted in his hand to become a glowing blade.  Nil Edan scowled at the choice the rod became in Damien’s hand.  It was lightweight, very strong and felt natural in Damien’s hand.  It was a coia ehalaer, a life rod, designed to be the tool to help the new god complete their life’s work and become a god.  Damien had heard of them, and knew that each god jealously guarded them.  Damien looked to his sponsor as if to question why he hadn’t received his before.

    “Look in the blade, Damien.”   

    In the blade was written each of his deeds: good and evil.  He saw his birth, his childhood that he had long forgotten; he could see all of the fights he had won and lost for his causes.  His eyes reflected all the carefully executed events that led to his selection as a demigod.  Only the base of the blade was missing any characters.  Had something had been left undone?  It couldn’t be.  No, he had been careful, methodical.  Something wasn’t right.  What was Nil Edan hiding from him?

    Before Damien could question, Nil Edan reclaimed the weapon.  Putting the weapon in its sheath, He returned to the podium.

    “Damien,” Nil Edan began again.  “all you do, all you think, all you say has meaning here in the heavens.  These tools become that which is most necessary for you to complete your final geas and become the god you are to be.  Each of us has our lifetimes written on one of these.  Yours is not finished; and, more importantly, you are not yet capable of wielding it.  When that time comes, what type of god will you become?”

"Tell me this Damien,” Nil Edan questioned, looking into Damien’s eyes.  "is there any reason for us to consider this treachery in a different light?"

A resounding silence answered him from the lips of the accused one.  Nil Edan wanted something to explain this course of action from a god with so much potential.  Even the evil gods didn’t try something like this.  For the most part they were content to their own petty squabbling amongst themselves.  In his mind, Damien was much more their better.  In this forum, Damien’s silence spoke volumes to the Eldest God.

"Have you nothing to say for yourself?”  Nil Edan gave Damien one final chance.  “Can you not give the Pantheon any assurances that this will not be repeated?"

Damien remained silent.  His cold eyes expressed neither resentment nor conviction.  This stance kept his superiors in the dark about his feelings and they could not divine from him the direction his heart would turn.  

Even in the Heavens, there were rules.  Nil Edan recited the law in the back of his mind.  Gods shall not listen to the hearts and minds of other gods, lest there be the sparks of war at every thought.  Although He could read Damien’s mind if he wanted to, it was He that wrote the law eons ago.  To break it now would be to set asunder all the laws that had been established since.

"If you have nothing to say in your own defense.”  Nil Edan’s words brought the meeting to a close.  “Then I must pronounce judgment.  You have not learned what it is to be a god.  Your followers are to be destroyed.  Your Halls razed.  Anyone who supports you in your defiance will be given the same sentence.  Take your lessons; learn them well, or your own destruction will be assured."

    "You are dismissed."  Nil Edan looked away from Damien and picked up the parchments.

    Damien turned on his heel and stormed out of the Great Hall.  The two doors slammed behind him.  Drained of the effort, Nil Edan slumped down onto His throne as the hall began to come to life.  It was the first time that he could see impending doom approaching and couldn’t do anything about it… yet.  He turned to the nearest Celestial to issue the final order of the day.

    "Execute the judgment… return and report."  


    Illandra climbed the rocky path that led to the top of the hill.  She knew she could find Damien here.  This was the only safe place he had to hide.  All of the sudden, her feet slipped on the loose rocks and she caught herself before falling completely on her face.  Standing up she wiped off her hands and pulled at the hem of her robe.  The seam had torn with her stumble and she mumbled a command to the fabric.  Illandra smiled to herself as the silk obeyed her command and repaired itself.  Leave it to Damien to create a forbidding waste like this and then call it home.  At least here she could speak to him alone without any peering eyes.

    Illandra climbed up onto the grassy hill and found Damien in a beleaguered meditation.  In most cases, it wouldn't be possible to know what he was thinking when he was meditating.  Damien never liked showing emotions.  However, the stormy weather above revealed the battle his mind was going through.  Lightning crackled around the hill as his face contorted.  Illandra watched him as he struggled to maintain control of his emotions.  She remembered the first time she saw him in mediation.  Then, the shadows leapt around him threatening to destroy him.  He was so young then, not like now.  His face had a boyish quality that she adored.  Now that boy had scars and thin wrinkles of age.  It wasn’t the shadows that threatened to destroy him, but instead he fought his own emotions for control of a power now uniquely his.  Sometimes she wished she could go back to the days of their youth.   

    "I found you," Illandra whispered into his ear.  Her voice called for him to remove himself from his reverie, a call for his attention to her.  "This microcosm is the one point in existence where no one can find you.  Your one and only place of solace."  

    "No one," Damien's exhausted reply came out as a bare whisper. "Except you.  Sometimes, I wish I never showed you how to come here."

    "You don't really mean that." Illandra said the words with a faked whine in her voice and pulled Damien onto the ground.  Even though she was several centuries his elder, Illandra’s heart was by far more playful.

    "No... No I don't." replied Damien. "I just need to think for a while, and this isn't doing much to help that."

    "And what are you plotting this time,” Illandra murmured into his ear.  Her hands curled in his hair and she drew him closer.  “Another 'coup d'état'?  What will the Gods do with you if you fail again?"

    "No, no...” Damien shook his head.  His hair fell out of place and tickled her.  “That was my mistake; I met the Gods on their own terms.  I cannot even begin to tell you how stupid that was.  This time it will be on my terms.  This time, my mistakes will be corrected."  

    "Mmm... I am starting to like.” giggled Illandra.   “Lessons learned, right?  And just where do I play in your quest to take over the universe."

    "Why, right next to me, as my queen and my partner, until the end of time." For however long that may be.  Damien leaned a little closer to where his breath tickled the hairs on her neck.  And when I am done, what then shall I do?

    "I can get used to that,” giggled the elven goddess.  “Queen Illandra… Goddess Illandra.”  Illandra turned onto her side and looked out at the dreary waste again.  “So when do we get started?  This place is too small and I am getting bored."  

    "How about right now?” Damien scrambled to his feet and helped Illandra to hers before dusting himself off.  “In fact, I have a task for you.  You are going to help me select some heroes."

    As Damien explained the intricacies of the new plan, Illandra sat in amazement of how the plan had been thought out.  Will this one work?  Oh, how wonderful it would be to sit on the thrones of the Gods as his eternal companion.  Her champion slowly regained his strength as he divulged his plan; until at the end he was ready to begin.

    "We are going to need a leader... a paladin perhaps?"

© 2016 Richard Linsley III

Author's Note

Richard Linsley III
highlighted portions are ones that I am working on, please disregard those. Everything else, is fair game. I'm new to the writing craft so I'm open to all critiques.

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register

Featured Review

I'm newer to the Alpha Readers group and have missed this book, but it's a major omission. I'm pleased to have found it. I always liked the myths of the Greek and Roman gods and the world you've created reminds me very much of them. These gods are also quite human, eh? You've received lots of advice from some other great writers, so I don't have much to add, but this prologue piqued my interest in reading more. Well done!

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Richard Linsley III

9 Years Ago

Thank you much for the comments! Don't forget to read the other chapters, I am still writing a very .. read more
Jennie Baron

9 Years Ago

It's on my reading list!


I'm newer to the Alpha Readers group and have missed this book, but it's a major omission. I'm pleased to have found it. I always liked the myths of the Greek and Roman gods and the world you've created reminds me very much of them. These gods are also quite human, eh? You've received lots of advice from some other great writers, so I don't have much to add, but this prologue piqued my interest in reading more. Well done!

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Richard Linsley III

9 Years Ago

Thank you much for the comments! Don't forget to read the other chapters, I am still writing a very .. read more
Jennie Baron

9 Years Ago

It's on my reading list!
Addendum: Have you heard of Iceberg Theory?

Ernest Hemingway said "But later everything he sees goes into the great reserve of things he knows or has seen. If it is any use to know it, I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows. Anything you know you can eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg. It is the part that doesn’t show. If a writer omits something because he does not know it then there is a hole in the story."

I read this as: it is good that you have such a well developed world and characters, now cut back so the important 1/8 is the only thing above the water. Does the reader need to know that Nil Edan isn't the name he was born with?

Keeping "Iceberg Theory" in mind ought to help you with "show vs. tell".

I'd say welcome to alpha readers, but you were a member before me so ... hi?

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Richard Linsley III

10 Years Ago

Hai!!!! We will have to talk more about this, I will need the time to sit down and pick your brain .. read more
I like the mechanic of training to become a god.
You have clearly put a lot of thought into these characters.

Watch your perspective shifts. I saw Illandra, Nil Edan, Damien, and even 'his superiors' in general.

Careful to be consistent. Either always capitalize He and His for Nil Edan, or don't.

It was unclear what Nil Edan's "wave of anger" was. A literal destructive wave, or was he just angry?

In your initial description of the hall you did not include levels.

Were you implying that Matteus' trainee is Illandra?

I got contradictory reads on Matteus. At first he seems caring, wise, and able. In the next segment he mumbles, fiddles with his leg plate, and says "put on your strong face" like a child.

Don't capitalize after a colon: "was about to begin: All were here"

"Known only to his closest friends" - at first read through the assumption his "[He was] known only to his closest friends". Having the main subject in the last third of the sentence will throw the reader, especially when that main subject had not yet been broached.

"Nil Edan's voice exhausted, commanded absolute obedience" - In my opinion the word ordering does not read well and interrupts flow.

"Not only was he was the god" (was/was)

"Both celestials were released," - this is a complete sentence on its own. End with period.

"Four hundred years ago" fits better with the previous sentence than with the one it is currently attached to. I recommend a mere punctuation shift.

"Damien hesitated; and then" - semicolons can only be used if both sides could form a complete sentence.

If I was Damien, I wouldn't wonder why Nil Edan hadn't given me the coia ehalaer before, I would wonder why he was giving it to me at a disciplinary hearing.

"the blade was missing any characters" - perhaps a different word than characters that doesn't have the double meaning such as letter, or what would be clearest would be deeds. In my opinion "devoid of deeds" or something along those lines would aid clarity.

"Had something had been left undone?" (Had/had)

"all you do" and "is there any reason" should start with a capital letter.

"geas"? Is that a typo? Should I assume a geas is like a final test to become a god?

"Drained of the effort" - (from)

"Your followers are to be destroyed" WOAH WOAH WOAH. You just slipped that in there. Are we talking genocide? What happens if there is overlap? Also you never clarified that followers were humans and not fellow gods, but I assume Nil Edan wouldn't kill other gods. Or maybe he would. Why is no one freaking out that his followers are going to be massacred? Who's going to kill them? How many are there? Do they have families or are they more like monks or satanic worshippers?

I'll read the next section of the prologue later.

On that note - this is kind of long for a prologue. Also - in my opinion it isn't the prologue's job to explain the world. I see the prologue's role as setting the scene and giving a taste. I wouldn't include the paragraph where you tell Nil Edan's past. In general there is too much telling, but that sentiment is increased as this is a prologue.

On a positive note: the events are not cliche and will draw in your reader. You know how to ground your scenes.

Well done - though my largest concerns are the perspective shifts and the tendency to "tell" about multiple gods which (I feel) clutters your prologue.

Favorite bit: the action that leads up to the quote "Thine wish mind commanded"

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Richard Linsley III

10 Years Ago

Phew!!! Lots of stuff to look at. Just copied your notes into my manuscript. Will have to look at.. read more
This story has a lot of potential to it. I wish I'd noticed there was a, prologue and read this first, but nonetheless the story sounds fun. I suggest adding spaces between paragraphs to make this a bit easier to read. Nothing stood out to me in mechanics, a good thing. The dialogue serves well in driving the story forward

I'm looking forward to more

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Richard Linsley III

10 Years Ago

Thank you for your kind words. I kept the format of the story as if it was ready for posting to an .. read more
SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

10 Years Ago

Sweet, will have to check it up. You can thank Alpha Readers for inciting me to check out the prolog.. read more
So far, this is excellent. a great beginning and world setup.
I would leave it as is for now and continue forward until the book us complete and edit this in your second draft.

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Richard, so far I am impressed with what I have read. The story line seems to hold promise, your use of words is effective, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling are all good.
Is this going to be followed soon, with the subsequent chapters?

Well done, keep up the good work.

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Richard Linsley III

10 Years Ago

I already have several chapters written. I am working on getting this edited and love to hear how I.. read more
Richard Linsley III

10 Years Ago

Also, its obvious that this is a teaser chapter as well, setting the mood, tone and environment for .. read more

10 Years Ago

I'm going to be reading this soon. But show don't tell is a balancing act. Often you can do more wit.. read more

Share This
Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


6 Reviews
Added on May 9, 2014
Last Updated on March 23, 2016


Richard Linsley III
Richard Linsley III

San Antonio, TX

A humble sailor with a story to tell. I'm a 39 year old dad of 3, and husband to the love of my life. Retired from the Navy after 20 years of hard work. Looking forward to some rest, and enjoying m.. more..


Related Writing

People who liked this story also liked..

Chapter One Chapter One

A Chapter by RAOrourke