From Belkush to Sedun -Plot
Sezzlic Denk, a son of a lesser noble family from Etha, finds himself stranded and imprisoned in an Ethernian kingdom, being freed by and indebted to Ethel Mezezi, a courtier of the late king, who then requests his assistance in returning to her home country. Unfortunately for the Ethain, she has some stops planned along the way- extending the trip from some weeks to an eventual two years. Thus begins the journey from Belkush to Sedun, where a strange man in a strange land, whose language he knows not, is isolated to the company of one, and where a princess, at the risk of her own life, fulfills a self-appointed task for her mother and queen.
Chapter 1. -Humble Beginnings Act 1. -A strange man in a strange land. Act 2. -A Shattered World. Act 3. -The Journey Begins. Chapter 2. -On the Road. Act 1. -Introductions. Act 2. -Viling. Act 3. -"Ethernian." Chapter 3. -A Stranger man in a strange land. Act 1. -Yuilnk kingdoms. Act 2. -The Atelian. Act 3. - Asvlek, the Doting. Chapter 4. -A Long way from Home. Chapter 5. -Out of Legan. Act 1. -The Gates. Act 2. -Captured. Act 3. -The Fight for Freedom. Chapter 6. -A Winter in Sedun. Act 1. -Arrival and Correspondence. Act 2. -An insight into her Mind. Act 3. -Heading South. Chapter 7. -Home Sweet Home. Act 1. -Trouble at Sea. Act 2. -Traveling to Stokham. Act 3. -Shut eye. Chapter 8. -At the Queen's Mercy. Act 1. -The Last Supper. Act 2. -A Cornered Snake. Act 3. -Tears for the Fallen.
Much of the story will be characterized by dialogue between the two main characters as they explore each other's minds and each other's worlds. Particular themes will include: how Sezzlic slowly comes to realize the folly of regarding the inhabitants of Ethernia as one people, all of which deserve to be detested, how Ethel will come to balance the importance of both rationality and clear-headedness with emotion, how the Ethain holds to his word and his debt to his savior despite the sheer expanse of the trip time-wise, and whether the soldier values his task and duty to his country more than commitment to a friend.
This is the Exposition, to be revealed throughout the book. In the years before the current story, Isora Mezezi, queen of Sedun and styled Khatun of Ethernia, invaded northern Etha. Hostilities had started some years prior when an Ethain force had arrived on the island of Nyf in order to subjugate the merchants guilds there. The inhabitants of Nyf were Seduni, having been descended from the region of central coastal Ethernia, so they appealed to Isora Mezezi to aid them. She had done so, though the initial relief force was defeated by the Ethains. The second, larger relief force succeeded in destroying the Ethain invading force. She took her force to Denk, the northernmost duchy of Etha and from where the invaders had arrived. After pillaging the region, she withdrew in order to refrain from a confrontation with the royal forces. However, she saw the Ethains as a threat to her power and ambitions to spread her reign over more of Ethernia. Thus, she coerced many of the neighboring kingdoms to join her in an allied invasion of Etha. In 1076, six years after her initial incursion into Denk, Isora initiated her invasion of Etha. She quickly overran Denk. Fleeing the occupation, Sezzlic, who had seen six years ago how the Ethain men in Denk had left to never return and how the people had suffered from the queen's raiding, vowed vengeance. His hatred of "Ethernians" (A name for the people of the northern lands) was fostered by his father, Tefeg Denk, who also harbored a prejudice for them. Acting on this, he went south towards the royal capital to offer his services to the king. He was not taken seriously by the royal court at the time, being just 14 and offering to lead the king's armies. However, the great defeat at Szhazhen left the kingdom bereft of a strong army. So they sent Sezzlic to deliver their terms of negotiations. He did so and received Isora's mocking reply, where she threatened to execute the royal council just as they had threatened her six years ago, even styling herself as the "Duchess of Denk." Seeing the cause of his need for vengeance in front of him, he tried to assassinate the queen. However, she foresaw the attempt and caught his hand. Unexpectedly, the boy escaped her grasp and jumped out through a window, falling into the snow. Attempts to track him failed and he made it back to capital. He delivered the queen's response and was then sent to work with the Ethain admiral, Xogeq, to defeat the Ethernians enemies in the Aroen. Sezzlic proved a fine addition to the fleet and eventually became the leader of the marines. He served on the fleet for two years, freeing the Aroen from Ethernian domination. Ecstatic at the success of Xogeq's fleet, the royal council decided to have the admiral ferry an army to Ethernia with the aim of pressuring Isora to return there. Xogeq, reluctantly, followed out their orders. However, the unfamiliar waters led the ships to Belkush, the westernmost kingdom of Legan- the eastern coastal region of Ethernia. The Ethains didn't realize the mistake until they were well into the country and were being confronted by the king of Belkush. The Ethains fought to a standstill, with Sezzlic killing the enemy flank leader, Prince Iglius, and winning his flank and then drawing with the other two Ethernian flanks. Even as he retreated to the ships, Sezzlic heard from his prisoners that Isora was in the kingdom and so he left his army to find her. He encountered the distraught king of Belkush, Aybeedef, in his palace and killed him in a duel before being detained and imprisoned. Along with the king was a blonde girl who would eventually free him- Ethel. Ethel Mezezi was born as Tala of the Kuluij clan. That is the extent of what is known about her old life, for when she was four years old, in 1066, her clan's main camp was destroyed by Isora and her armies. Isora, too, was born to the Kuluij clan, but she had become bitter enemies with them after her father's death and her claimation of the Seduni throne. The decade long struggle saw her husband, Opuli, killed by the clan. So, now that she had the clan cornered, she engaged them in battle as a small force of hers attacked the enemy's great camp, killing the soldiers' families and causing a mass retreat as they tried to save their families. This resulted in her absolute victory. The surviving forces were forced to recognize her as their new khan. As the camp burned, though, a small child was spotted trying to leave the flames. As it seemed that her guard was going to end this child of traitors, Isora had them spare her, as she had already paid her clan's penance. The child was almost naked, her clothes having burnt off as evidenced by the great burn marks on her back. Isora decided to adopt the child, replacing her parents as the child served as a compensation for the loss of her dear husband. She would make the child her heir and raised her as a Seduni princess. This child showed the greatest potential of any student the tutors of Sedun had ever graced. She absorbed every subject taught to her, requiring then tutors from abroad, as far as Etha and even the Dulgth empire in Kolaskyva. It was from these lessons that she really grew in a philosophical sense. Ethain influence had existed in Sedun for centuries, though it really stuck to Ethel. The religious doctrines of the southern lands influenced her to change her name to "Ethel", supposedly meaning "Protector of People/Guardian" as she saw herself as needing to be a great unifying force for her people. The Kolaskyvan man brought with him texts of Manslatism, the predominant religion in western Kolaskyva and much of northern Fripperland. Ethel blended these texts with the traditional Ethernian/Ethain gods to an odd sort of hybrid religion. She also adopted an attitude of reason and logic, attempting to act only rational and without emotion, to varying degrees of success. This last bit worried her adoptive mother. She feared that her daughter was becoming apathetic and worried that she would not be able to lead her kingdom. So to finish up her daughter's education and try to mend her mentality, she betrothed Ethel to Iglius, the son of the king of Belkush, and sent her to king Aybeedef to learn about war. Here she succeeded in learning war, as she did with all subjects. Aybeedef found her logical approach in all things to be a great asset in martial matters. Unfortunately, her time in Belkush was cut short when her betrothed Iglius was killed in battle by an Ethain army and then Aybeedef was killed in a duel with an Ethain intruder to the royal palace. She was told by the king prior to his passing that she may be in danger now that her ties with Belkush were cut. He had some strong enemy factions in his country who might aim to use Ethel as a bargaining chip against Isora once Aybeedef died. Taking this information to heart, she freed the Ethain after a few weeks of captivation. She enlisted him as a bodyguard to escort her to her own country. On her way back, though, she realized that the new king of Belkush may have some desire to attack Isora while her army was off in Etha, so she made diplomatic excursions around Legan to secure ties between these kingdoms and her mother's. Thus she and her bodyguard set out on a two year journey throughout Legan before heading back towards Sedun.
The conflicts between the characters lay in Sezzlic's dislike for "Ethernians," a term which Ethel insists has little meaning in reality, Sezzlic's desire to kill Isora, not knowing that he travels with her daughter, and Ethel's internal conflict between rationality and logic versus emotion and humanity. Both will also contend with going from an isolated and impersonal lifestyle to a relatively intimate relationship with another person for a span of two years.
Ethel frees the Ethain soldier who killed the king, employing him as her bodyguard so that she may go home.
Sezzlic and Ethel arrive in Sedun, but Isora deduces the identity of this bodyguard as that would-be-assassin from four years prior. She arranges for the two to come to the capital, intent on giving him the justice that he deserves. Here is where Ethel and Sezzlic discover the true identity and role of the other, leading to Ethel having an emotional meltdown.
Sezzlic is nearly killed, though recovers over some time near the river that he plummeted into. He is found by his friend, the one responsible for his near-death experience, and they make-up.
The two leave for Etha, and in an attempt to secure both her daughter's safety and her victory before the tides turn against her, Isora sends to negotiate with the Ethain king, Glerigh. As one of the terms of her peace, she desired that the baron and baroness of Jahamen (Which is where Isora hosted the negotiations) give their blessings to the marriage of their children. They agree, Tefeg much more reluctantly, to the condition and peace is concluded. However, the children themselves refuse the arrangement.
Sezzlic seeks to assassinate the Khatun of Ethernia, Isora. She is responsible for the ravaging of much of Denk and northern Etha, as well as the deaths of countless of his countrymen. Ethel seeks to strengthen her mother's ties in Legan, as well as escape back to Sedun with her life.
Sezzlic, although he cannot understand most of what Ethel says to the kings that she talks with, hears "Isora" in a frequency that makes him suspect it as more than a coincidence. Ethel, meanwhile, has suspicions about Sezzlic's reason for being in Belkush and why the king had wanted to duel him. Sezzlic would discover that it was no coincidence and that Ethel really had close ties with the queen, whereas Ethel would learn that Aybeedef had learned of Sezzlic being the one who had killed his son and Ethel's betrothed, Iglius.
Sezzlic fears that if he fails at his mission then the entire kingdom of Etha may fall to the northern Queen. Ethel fears that her failure in Legan and to return home, more than just get her killed, would turn nearby nations against her mother and perhaps result in her overthrow or death.
Sezzlic will have to work though his prejudice against Ethernians, a term which means little to those it references, and see if his mission of vengeance is more important than the well-being, sanity, and feelings of his friend. Ethel, on the other hand, will have to reconcile her desire of logic and rationality with her compassionate nature that she has suppressed. Furthermore, she is faced with choosing between loyalty to her mother, the one who saved her and gave her such a great new life, and her friend, the one person who might understand her and that she has gone nearly without parting with for two years.
The cruelest trick for the two lies in the mystery of the other's identity. Sezzlic learns that the woman that he has traveled with for two years is the daughter and heir of the woman that has taken so much from him and that he seeks to kill. Ethel, on the other hand, learns that the man that she has traveled with, that has protected her from brigands and nomads, has the whole time sought to kill her dear mother and is responsible for the death of her betrothed.
Sezzlic Denk, son of the baron and baroness of Jahamen in the duchy of Denk, and Ethel Mezezi, the daughter of the "Khatun of Ethernia," or the queen of Sedun.
Asvlek, the merchant king of Legan, provides much aid to the two after he becomes enamored with the young princess. Several other kings in Legan assist as well, but not to the extent that Asvlek does.
Isora serves as a mighty antagonist to the Ethain and causes much stress to her daughter inadvertently.
Belkush, much of Legan, Sedun, and Etha are the locations of the story.
The armies of Etha and Belkush are a threat to the characters at first. Later threats are the nobles of Belkush, brigands throughout Legan, nomads of the Kolkal, and Isora Mezezi.
Discussion/Interaction between Ethel and Sezzlic for the entirety of the trip.
Ok, so it's obvious you've put a lot of thought into this, and I'm certain that the story could be very engaging. However, the biggest hurdle in all of this is the giant wall of text that is the exposition section. the paragraphs are so long that it becomes tedious to read, and interest can shatter easily at this point. It's like a steak, if you try to eat too big a piece, it takes forever to chew, and you lose interest in the rest of the meal. But, if you cut it up into smaller pieces, it becomes easier to digest. I hope that helps.
So you mean to chop the wall into more digestible chunks? Surely I don't mean to unload all of this to the reader at once right at the beginning of the story, I want to try to expose it over time through the character interactions, in case that was mistaken.
Yes, I think that would help the readability a great deal. I think if there's parts in the expo-dump that are meant to be revealed over time, maybe you should keep them in your private notes?
Noted, and thank you.
I will agree R3negade X’s critique about the wall of text, but I’ll add to it on how to improve it. You have chapters and acts planned, I recommend breaking the exposition up in order of chapter and acts using the main header. Now for themes, this is going to be by the looks of things a novel of some sorts. So I suggest adding more themes within the story, it’s not bad to just have one theme, but at times the reader would want to have a break from the main theme and would like to see other themes in the story, like subplots for example. Other themes can also be character development for individual characters.
Alright, thank you for the further suggestions. Dividing the exposition like that could be helpful for the future. I'll also see about adding more themes in. Thank you very much.
I like the level of thought you put into this one. The article shows clearly, you've been thinking about major plot points, hooks and all the good storytelling shannanigans. Good job! But I also have to agree with the previous comments, and their suggestions. I'll add another one: Name dumping seems to be an issue here, especially in the first paragraph of the expositon part. There are so many names in these few lines, that I already forgot all of them, when reaching the next paragraph. I'll leave you with a video that I think might help you with that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iq5A5bppyUg
Alright, thank you for the video, I do like "Hello Future Me." I understand that there is a bit much to take in, especially with Proper nouns. I mean to avoid dumping too much information on the readers at once, though I'm not sure how this has been reflected on my Chapter 1 First draft. I guess that I'll just ask for feedback on that when it comes to fruition.