Where He Lies



  • Arial walked briskly on the street. The only other people about were the street cleaners, and even they were few and far between. The streets, for their part, were refreshingly free of animal manure.

    Maybe, just maybe, she should go about town at the crack of dawn more often, if only to enjoy the empty, clean streets.

    Nonetheless, people in their wooden homes stirred. Smoke floated out of chimneys; people readied for breakfast.

    Arial opened the door of the monastery. Darkness filled the entry except for the small sliver of light from outside. The only visible light came from under a door at the end of the hall.

    “Hello?” Arial called.

    Silence. Seconds melted away. The door at the end of the hall opened and a short figure rushed down the hall to greet Arial.

    She paused when she realized Arial wore the green of the city guard. Plastering a barely visible smile on her face, the nun stood tense. “How may I help you, soldier?”

    “I’ve come to ask some questions about one Mr. Danick?”

    She swallowed. “I’m afraid he’s not here, at the moment.”

    Arial studied her. Where in her question had she asked to see the man himself? “Fortunately, I’m only here to gain some information about him. I have no need to speak to him personally.”

    “O-oh.” The woman’s smile disappeared, her shoulders hunching some. “I’m afraid I’m not allowed to.”

    “Are you the head of this monastery?” Arial asked, taking a step into the dark building.

    The nun didn’t resist, stepping back accordingly. “I-- well, no--”

    “Do you mind if I speak to the person in charge?”

    The nun blinked rapidly. Then she nodded vigorously. “Yes, surely. If you would only stay here a moment.” She held up her hand, backing away slowly. Then she turned on her heel and hurried back to the door at the end of the hall.

    Arial took another step in. There was a thick musty smell in here, as though they didn’t dust very often. Voices drifted down the hall. Monastics never minded the occasional intrusion of the law.

    A figure holding its head high strode down the hall to Arial, holding a lamp in one hand. It was a woman with pale skin and an angular face.

    Arial bowed her head. “I’m Captain Arial Shasetia. I’m looking to ask some questions about one Mr. Danick who practices here?”

    The woman raised an eyebrow, seeming to look down her nose at her. “I’m Prioress Helena. I’m afraid Mr. Danick hasn’t been here for a few days.”

    Arial smiled politely. Had she said anything about seeing the man himself? “I’m well aware. That’s why I’m here, in fact. Someone reported him missing and I’m here to look into the matter.”

    “They sent a captain for one monk?”

    “When someone from Wakegloom Abbey comes asking, we take it to mean the person is important.” It was only a partial lie.

    The prioress shook her head. “Danick and Adaellae hadn’t spoken in weeks. Even if she knew…”

    High Priestess Adaellae? That one? “You don’t know where he is?”

    Helena bit her lip. “No. I don’t.” She breathed in deeply. “But don’t take that to mean I don’t care about my followers. I care for them as though they were my children. Some of them practically are my children.”

    Arial nodded. “Did you come to the guard about Mr. Danick being missing?”

    She shook her head. Softly, she said, “No.” In a regular voice she continued, “He… he had unusual views.” Helena shrugged, continuing softly. “He made powerful enemies. Stole some things. That’s why he decided to leave. To protect us from their wraths, or so he said.”

    “Did he take those objects with him?”

    Helena nodded. “I think it was only a book, but he’d been quiet lately. Maybe he had something else.” She swallowed. “I think someone may have had him killed.”

    “For his views?”

    Helena nodded. “He had a falling out with Adaellae, and… well, you know what they say.” She pursed her lips, as though running through the rumors of how the high priestess had no line she would not cross to maintain her power. “I don’t know much about his relationship with Dario, but I know that the book he had, he stole it from Dario.”

    Arial nodded. “You didn’t do anything to try and protect him?”

    Helena scoffed. “What do you take me to be? A dictator over my followers who doesn’t allow them the free will to make choices and suffer their consequences?”

    “Some priors are.”

    “Not this one.” Helena shook her head. She seemed to be looking down on Arial again. “Listen, all I know is that he sought refuge with some Rykuns. He was intending on discussing something with…” she hesitated. “Someone, sometime on Maim’s Day. He said he would be returning that afternoon or evening, but he hasn’t.” Helena sighed.

    “And you have no idea what the discussion was about or where it was at?” Arial asked.

    Helena opened her mouth as though to speak, then sighed and shook her head.

    “Do you know if there’s anything in his chambers?”

    “There’s not,” Helena said quickly. “He burned most of it. Found it in the embers the morning he left.”

    Arial nodded. “I thank you for your cooperation. If I turn up anything, I’ll be sure to inform you of it. And if you should think of anything else, send a messenger to fetch me at the Main Tower and I’ll be here to discuss it with you.” She bowed her head slightly, then turned to exit.

    “Oh-! Wait!”

    Arial paused, looking back at the prioress.

    Helena had an arm outstretched. She lowered it slowly. “There’s someone else who was seeking his whereabouts. She came by late yesterday evening.”

    “Do you know who she was?”

    Helena shook her head. “No. Simple mask, it covered her full face, and she didn’t give me her name.”

    “I see. Do you know what she looked like?”

    “She had brown skin. Short hair. Maim was her patron. And… she had an accent. I don’t know where of, but it’s not from around the Mere.” Helena nodded once, crossing her arms. “We talked a bit. I told her that he went to the Rykuns closest to the Central Market. Perhaps she went there, or will be headed there.”

    Arial nodded again. “Thank you kindly, Prioress.” She exited the building.

    This was slightly more information than she had earlier, at least. Yet, Priest Enzo Hunter hadn’t said anything of Adaellae knowing Mr. Danick.

    Arial frowned, glancing back at the crumbling monastery. Did Mr. Danick become aware that Enzo was using him to give the manuscript to Adaellae? There was no way for Arial to get to Dario; at least, not at the moment, and Derac wouldn’t inquire for her on this topic. Adaellae, however, wouldn’t have a reason to deny seeing her if she dropped by the abbey.

    There wouldn’t be time for that today-- maybe tomorrow-- but there was plenty of time left for her to visit the Rykun abbey and ask about Mr. Danick’s other investigator before beginning her regular duties.


    Ignoring the pang of hunger in her gut, Arial entered the Rykun temple.

    Priestess Esther Palsin greeted her. “I didn’t expect to see you return so soon,” the old woman said after they had completed their customary greetings. “Are you experiencing issues with your emblem?” She gestured to Arial’s arm.

    “No, no,” Arial said, shaking her head. “I’m only stopping in for a moment. I wanted to know if a woman stopped in here asking about Mr. Danick? Her patron was Maim.”

    Esther’s brows knitted together slightly and she studied the ground. She looked back up and shook her head. “No, I don’t recall such a woman.”

    Arial nodded. “I wasn’t sure if she might’ve come or not. She may come later today, or maybe tomorrow,” she added, then paused. Helena said that Mr. Danick had left nothing in his chambers. Besides the book, though, there was every opportunity for him to have brought something else and left it here upon his sudden disappearance. “Do you know which room Mr. Danick stayed it? Would you know if he left anything behind, or if I would be allowed to view it?”

    “Hm.” Esther frowned a moment. “You know, that’s really not something I would know. We’re about to start our morning chants; how about I discuss it later and I’ll send you a letter telling yes or no?”

    A letter. “I can always come back in a couple of days.”

    “No, I assure you, this is easier. I can have our novitiate drop it off. I do doubt Mr. Danick left anything behind, so it will save you the trip.” Esther paused. "If the woman visits by the time I send the letter, I'll include that for you."

    “Please, save the trouble--”

    Esther put a hand on Arial’s arm. “I do appreciate your insistence, but trust me. This is better.”

    It’s really not necessary. “Many thanks, Priestess Esther.”


    Nothing of excitement happened during her shift in the guard tower, unless one counted the argument in the dungeons between two men awaiting execution. The argument went something along the lines of one deserving to be executed before the other, but Arial decided to have them both executed at the end of the week.

    The day had nearly wound to a close when Derac arrived. He crossed his arms. “Told you Danick was nothing to worry about.”

    Arial looked at him. “Why are you so interested in what I choose to do in my free time?”

    Derac sighed. “I’m only saying. There are better places to direct our resources.”

    Arial raised an eyebrow. They both knew that wasn’t the reason Derac thought she should leave Mr. Danick alone. “If it makes you feel better, I found someone to go talk to the Watchtower lady. Apparently these thieves have been stealing her peppers and turnips.”

    Derac pressed a finger against his temple. “She’s been raising hell over peppers and turnips?” He sighed again. “You’re not as slick as you think, trying to change the conversation, but I’d like to know if she at least considered the fact she’s been eating them?”

    Arial shrugged. “It was Joy went out there, said she talked a bit to the staff. Lady keeps a personal garden the staff aren’t allowed inside locked behind a door.”

    Derac blinked, and she was distinctly aware of how fast she had been speaking.
    “Are any of her staff ex-locksmiths or some such?” he asked, then huffed. “What exactly does she expect of us?”

    “Attention.”

    Derac was quiet a moment, then nodded. “I suppose. Well, if she complains again, one of us will go out.” He shook his head, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Are you going to the tavern?”

    He could try as he liked to make Arial go talk to Duchess Watchtower, but there was nothing in the world that could convince her to try to talk the lady out of her delusions. “I don’t plan my night that far in advance. You ought to know that.”

    “If you see my wife, tell her I have something I need to consult with her and I’d like if she came home at a reasonable hour.” Derac paused, studying her. “Stop glaring. It’s so annoying.”

    “O, pity be.” Arial rolled her eyes. “Do you want anything or am I allowed change the shift and go home?”

    “Firstly, I’d like it if you directed your attention to something better worth your talents than this monk.”

    Arial pointed at Derac. “Little known fact is I’m immune to flattery.”

    Derac nodded once, as though acknowledging that he was already aware of this but had forgotten. He continued, “Secondly, I was speaking with Governor Dario earlier. He said the Puclase would be here in about a fortnight and wanted to know if there were enough people to put on a parade or some such. You have experience in that--”

    “No.”

    Derac’s brows knitted together. “No… what? I know you have experience there.”

    Arial nodded. “No, I do. But we hardly have the manpower to control crowds when they arrive, forget about finding the time or people to put on a show.”

    “No, of course--”

    “And you’re going to explain to Dario that we either have the manpower to keep the ambassador from being mobbed or to put on a show no one wants to see,” Arial finished.

    Derac breathed in deeply, then sighed. “I did.”

    She shrugged. “Then tell Dario that he’s an idiot and we’re not doing it.”

    Derac rubbed his temple. “I can’t just say that.”

    Arial was willing to go up there and say it. Not that the governor would see her in the first place, but regardless. “I’m not doing it. That’s the end.” She paused. “Maybe you can have Ceamath sleep with him and he’ll change his mind.”

    Derac sighed. “No.”

    Arial shrugged. “She’ll end up in his bed one way or another. Might as well make something beneficial of it.”

    “Okay, look, Arial…” Derac sighed. “No. Even if she’s willing to do that for me, she won’t convince him because that’s not how it works.”

    “I thought her tongue was the most charismatic in the city.”

    Derac opened his mouth, then closed it, shaking his head. “I’m not answering that.”

    Arial raised her eyebrows, shrugging. “Your choice. I’m just saying, it’s probably easier than finding the willpower to talk Dario out of it yourself.”

    Derac ran a hand through his hair. “It’s fine. It’s fine. I’ll tell him in the morning that the only person with the know-how is unwilling.”

    Arial’s brows furrowed. “Don’t say it like that. It paints a terrible picture of me.”

    “What picture of you do you think he has?” Derac frowned.

    “I don’t know the man. How should I know?” Arial breathed out deeply through her nose. She knew clearly what image the governor had of her. “I’m going to go change the shift so I can leave.” She strode past him.

    He grabbed her arm. “Arial.”

    She stopped, jerking her arm out of his hand. “Yes?”

    “Leave Danick where he lies.”


    tbh chapter titles are hard and I'm not sure if I can pull off this titling theme with Arial forever. It would be great if I could, but I'm not sure it's possible.

    Also can I just say that that last scene probably just changed Derac's arc ._. game changer

    My biggest problem with this is probably the dialogue/conversations? Particularly with Helena I feel like it's a bit flat, so I'm looking for some opinions on that, but I feel like it gets better as the chapter goes on.

    Also not totally sure how I feel about the Esther scene in general. There was a little more substance to it, but then I made some major changes and the scene was cut down to what it is now.

    Lastly. No judging the transitions. o_o



  • @typical_demigod

    I like the title and I think it was integrated well with the chapter. I don't know if you can keep it up. But I like it. ^.^

    Your dialogue is great and flowy as usual. Especially the bit with Arial and Derac that was... Amazing. lol

    The scene with Esther had me questioning what the problem was with her wanting to send Arial a letter. I was briefly questioning like if Arial can read because... What's the big deal? ^.-

    The transitions were good. There shall be no judging.


  • Plotist Team: Community Storyteller

    I've always found it odd when chapters are titled. There is a time, and a place for them though, so :)

    So, a few thoughts. If someone had no idea what was going on and this was the first thing they had read, they would be hooked. I absolutely love this. So much is hinted at and revealed at the same time. One answer leads to more questions. The character interactions are well done as well.

    Poor Derac. Man, Arial's comment made me cringe for the him. But at the same time I could feel Arial's almost dispassionate frustration. I am also really worried Derac knows exactly where Danick is.

    To address your concerns:
    Personally, I am insanely intrigued by these scenes!

    When it comes to dialogue, I think you nailed it. If you feel there is flatness in the scene with Helena, perhaps add a bit more action or stuff. Like noticing dust motes, or seeing a flush on the skin, or other things Arial could notice about Helena as she answer questions. No conversation in real life is perfect. Here are two videos I have found that have inspired my way of writing dialogue in books. Maybe they will help ease your fears. :)



  • @Blackbird

    I like the title and I think it was integrated well with the chapter.

    Well-integrated chapter titles sometimes are the longest part and even then I don't think they work lol >.>

    I'mma be honest, the bit with Arial and Derac was the easiest thing to write XD

    The scene with Esther had me questioning what the problem was with her wanting to send Arial a letter. I was briefly questioning like if Arial can read because... What's the big deal? ^.-

    :| I literally was reading that conversation thinking "hm, how do I naturally work in that she's illiterate?" and then I went to do something else and forgot about it :P

    It's fairly common to be illiterate, but I think people make assumptions about her because she did very well in the military and then is relatively well to do now.

    @Josey Titling is hard, which is why I usually don't do it tbh

    Aw, thanks! I've never really written anything mystery-y and I'm partially figuring this out as I go along, so we'll see if it stays this strong lol.

    Poor Derac. Man, Arial's comment made me cringe for the him. But at the same time I could feel Arial's almost dispassionate frustration. I am also really worried Derac knows exactly where Danick is.

    :|

    When it comes to dialogue, I think you nailed it. If you feel there is flatness in the scene with Helena, perhaps add a bit more action or stuff. Like noticing dust motes, or seeing a flush on the skin, or other things Arial could notice about Helena as she answer questions. No conversation in real life is perfect. Here are two videos I have found that have inspired my way of writing dialogue in books. Maybe they will help ease your fears. :)

    Mm, yeah, that might be helpful. I think part of it is that I feel like I'm expressing Helena's reactions well but you don't see Arial beyond the questions? idk :P

    Those were interesting videos! They definitely covered some of the things I'm probably overly-conscious about when I'm writing dialogue lol. (Also apparently for examples of good dialogue I need more Quentin Tarantino? hm.)

    If you're up for it/want a little more context on the story, what I've written is also here. :)



  • @typical_demigod said in Where He Lies:

    :| I literally was reading that conversation thinking "hm, how do I naturally work in that she's illiterate?" and then I went to do something else and forgot about it :P

    Ah. So she really can't read. Great. lol

    No, I mean, it was the first assumption I made then I thought "wait would she not be required to do it at some point?" and then I figured if Jo could hide illiteracy for practically her whole life, anyone can.

    I thought it was amusing that @Josey was so sympathetic towards Derac with that comment because after so many months of Ceamath stressing how much their marriage sucks it didn't even cross my mind to feel bad. It just makes me realize how biased I already am at this point. ^^'



  • @Blackbird Yeah, Arial has gotten around it, both because letters aren't super common (particularly since she's lived in the city) and because she's had other people that she can be like "yo. please read this for me."

    I thought it was amusing that @Josey was so sympathetic towards Derac with that comment because after so many months of Ceamath stressing how much their marriage sucks it didn't even cross my mind to feel bad. It just makes me realize how biased I already am at this point. ^^'

    Derac: Why... why would you tell strangers...

    Ceamath: shrugs Everything I say is true.

    Derac: That doesn't give you the right to go around telling strangers about our marital problems.

    William: Everyone already knows you two don't like each other.

    Derac: dark look

    William: leaves quietly

    LOL that's funny. Yeah. A couple of chapters from now there's actual interaction between Derac and Ceamath and I'm not totally sure how it's going to play out but I'm thinking it'll give their relationship a bit of a different light?

    We shall see, anyway.

    Also bias is probably bad >.>



  • @typical_demigod I just realized Enzo probably wrote Jo a fair share of poems that she then had to bullshit him into reciting for her so she wouldn't admit she couldn't read them. And that makes me smile. lol

    I'm looking forward to that chapter. And Ceamath in general tbh.

    And yes, bias is bad but at this point, we're all guilty of it.



  • @Blackbird Aww that sounds adorable! <3 I would like to suffer the pain of seeing that if you ever felt up to it.

    And yes, bias is bad but at this point, we're all guilty of it.

    0_1517163688049_0d40eac5-6589-4c4e-b0ab-717db84c3d08-image.png



  • @typical_demigod

    If I can pull that off without actually writing any poetry (because ha no), I might. Some Jo and Enzo fluff is bound to happen someday. >.>



  • @blackbird Poetry is not necessary tbh.


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