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 On the Eve of a New Dawn [Prolouge and Chapter 1]

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Rob_Macabre
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PostSubject: On the Eve of a New Dawn [Prolouge and Chapter 1]   Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:28 am

I'm fairly certain a select few of you may have seen this before; it's an older work I've mine I've decided to pull out of the depths of my writing desk and complete. Here's the first bit. If you lot like it, I'll post more. It also happens to be where I came up with the idea behind the ranking system, if anyone was wondering.-Rob

Prologue

The phrase "The Literature Rebellion" used here and hereafter refers to a series of events that led to the outlawing of literature, and the persecution of anyone pursuing said art. The events all started in a laboratory in the year of 2092, when advances in neurological science made it possible for microchips dedicated to certain tasks to be implanted in one's brain. Soon thereafter, a child of three years was cybernetically enhanced and suddenly was talking, reading, writing and painting. On the seventh day after its enhancement it painted a copy of the Mona Lisa, so perfectly that the art critic there to mediate the experiment began to weep.

And so it came to pass that those of the rich upper class could choose talents for their children. And some of the rich, and even the working class paid for cybernetic enhancements of the same nature for themselves. And suddenly everyone was a poet, a painter, a musician, or a storyteller. And they were good at it.

Once this was fully understood, the trouble began.

In 2095, a school dedicated to the further teaching of the arts to the cyberneticly enhanced youth burst into flames in the night. Two men were apprehended, known only as "Codename Poe" and "Codename Byron" to the public. They amassed a world of enemies in a night, as well as a small, but motivated cult following of so called "Natural Writers'. Two nights after the school bombing, this cult following, calling themselves the Literati, stormed the prison where Poe and Byron were being held. No one was harmed, as with the school bombing, and all escaped safely enough.

In an effort to draw out the Literati, literature in every form was made illegal within the United States. Still, the Literati and their fugitive leaders could not be found. Those writers in the group shed their birth names, adopting instead those of more classic literary figures, or no other name at all.

By 2099, the nomadic group of poets and storytellers had achieved the status of folk heroes, and they were known to wander the Southern U.S. as said region was much less sympathetic towards technology, and much more so towards the arts. They offered performances for towns in exchange for a few nights of peace, warm food, and traveling supplies.

The United States government had those ranking highly in the Literati placed highest on the FBI's most wanted list, but corruption in the government due to the nation's poverty kept the FBI from functioning well in the poorer South, which stood yet again on the verge of secession. The South's "Old Fashioned" style had become an issue with the growing popularity of cybernetic enhancements. The majority of the South thought they were "unnatural", and refused the business as a whole. The business, though, was the centuries greatest, and because of their refusal to deal in cybernetics, the South fell into a financial deficit, and then finally a depression, as the North offered them no help. The South didn't mind so much, having always been made up of men and women willing to die before submission to an ideal not their own.

So, in October 2099, on the very doorstop of a new century, the Literati were on the run, the FBI, on the chase, the South was nearly ready to secede from the Union once again, and harbored the Literati to anger the government, failing all other motives. Literature and all those who pursued it as their craft were outlawed. Those unable to stay the call of the quill traveled to South, to find and join the Literati before the government found them and forced their reform.

Over all, it was safe to say that things weren't doing so well.


Chapter 1

The man we all knew only as Poe was an odd man. He was part poet, part storyteller, part philosopher, part revolutionary, and part hero. He had been known on many occasions to say that the first sign of a poet’s lament was an adjustment in his hygiene, that adjustment being its disappearance, as the body took the back burner to the poet’s overactive mind.
There was no better example of this than Poe himself, when his wife was away. His form, perpetually clad in black, baggy clothing, seemed to grow even more slim than it already was, the hair upon his head and face, usually kept relatively tidy, seemed to grow unkempt the second he saw his lover’s back. He wrote more than he usually did, a considerable enough feat no matter the motivation, and always seemed to be exhaling cigarette smoke and clutching a tall glass of absinthe X in one hand or the other. And his wife, whom we all knew as, appropriately, Lenore, had only been gone two days.
Poe was worries because two days was a long time given her mission, and we were under the constant threat of capture by the ever-vigilant FBI, though they weren’t around much in the South. Lenore, not being a writer, was instead charged with making arrangements for our performances with towns near our camp. We would perform in that town for as long as we felt our welcome remained, in exchange for room and board. Next to Poe, stood Byron, a tall, dark and brooding man who fit his namesake just as much as his good friend Poe. Byron seemed to own, in the manner of clothing, that is, nothing but suits tailored to his specifications in scarlet in black. He sat at a makeshift table made of a tall, relatively flat rock, indulging in a glass of absinthe X himself. Another of the Literati close to Poe and Byron was quick to join them.
Of average build and distinctively kind features was their friend, Lovecraft, though one glance at his writings told a different story, revealing the demented mind within such gentle a casing. Lovecraft sat down next to Byron, entering himself into their conversation as he poured the swirling violet and emerald liquor into a tall glass, diluting it seconds later by pouring cold water from a pitcher hastily over a sugar cube that lay across his glass upon a silver absinthe spoon.

“So, what, then, my friend, separates me, from any one of those wretches that follow us? That even now could clasp my Lenore?” Poe asked no one in particular, though it was another senior Literati member who answered. Tall broad and growing old, it was the Literati’s own Southern gentleman, Twain, who could not resist exercising his considerable wit.
“A monochromatic wardrobe?” Twain replied, pushing past several of us to take place at the rock-table amidst our careful laughter. Twain drank whiskey from a flask of his own ownership, being a bit too old to properly recover from an absinthe X binge, and they continued their discussion as we gathered around them to watch. Poe laughed his hollow laugh he laughed when the laughter came from his mind and not his heart, and smiled crookedly at Twain. “The bloody feds wear more of a solid color than I, with their red outfits and those blasted red masks.”
“Aye, “for their protection”.” Quoth Byron, with his ironic smirk which didn’t fade a bit as he continued. “Indeed, if they went maskless, they’d never be safe, with the South being in the state it’s in.” Lovecraft then spoke for the first time in quite some time, saying, “Yes, but the FBI is hardly in the South. If they were, we would have been captured a long time ago. No, I think there is something more sinister about those masks.”
Several of us that formed a circle around the debating foursome and their stone table nodded in agreement. We dared not join in the conversation; we were still Nameless, which meant we had not earned full status in the Literati. That didn’t happen until you proved your ability as a writer and earned a name like the others had.
The group continued their discussion for a moment more before Twain rose with surprising speed for his age from the log he had been sitting on, drawing from beneath his somehow immaculate jacket a refurbished, but still worn, six-shooter. Though it was outdated compared to the automatically-aiming weapons of today, he pointed it towards a thicket of trees, speaking: “You, there. Speak your creed, or die.”
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Rob_Macabre
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PostSubject: Re: On the Eve of a New Dawn [Prolouge and Chapter 1]   Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:29 am

“Master to the loyal Nameless
‘Tis us who shame the shameless
We’ve risen though the ranks
And owe none but ourselves thanks
And until I lie dead in the soil
To the Literati, I will remain loyal.”

Each of us breathed inward in relief as we heard the soft voice of Lenore. Poe jumped up from his log as well, walking towards his wife, who wore a long, flowing black dress, complete with a black and crimson corset, an article of clothing many of us had only heard about before meeting Poe and Lenore. Lenore’s walking motion matched well with Poe’s in some strange way, as though one could tell of the love between them by the way they walked, even. She strode forward slowly, in almost sneakily measured steps, very much like a cat. Poe had an odd and slightly creepy manner of movement. He moved with a certain awkward grace and fluidity that reminded me, every time I saw him move, of an animate corpse. They embraced for a moment more before Lenore pressed her black-painted lips against those of her husband, then he spoke.
“So, will they have us?” Lenore smiled at her husband, then turned to face the crowd. “Aye. They said they would have us until Halloween.” Here, a slight cheer and a whisper moved through us all, for two reasons. One, it was merely the third of October, which meant we were looking at a little less than a month of relative security, a huge relief considering we never stayed in one place longer than a few days. And two, our performances on Halloween are among the most entertaining we put together, but we had not been able to find a host town for the last two years. “But,” Lenore continued, the crowd falling silent. “They expect their first show at dusk. So let us hurry and prepare.”

Not one of us hesitated.

***

We were walking slowly. Poe and Byron were up front, leading the way, chattering among themselves, planning the show for the night. Byron strode forward with his elegant stride, using animate hand gestures along with his words, and then, without warning, he pointed to me.
“You, there. How would you like to open tonight’s performance?” I froze, and was nearly run over by those walking behind me, before I managed to stammer, “What? Me?” “Aye, you.” answered Byron with his ironic smile. “Read the opening lines I have written for you, here.” He pressed a bit of paper into my hand, after I took a few strides so that I walked near enough him for him to do so. I didn’t even look down at the paper, I simply nodded once and fell back into line.
Poe pointed to another individual with whom I’d never spoke before, and then spoke the lines that I knew changed that man’s life. “Tonight is your night.” The man he pointed to fell back as I did, but his surprise was far greater than mine. Every so often, the Elder Literati allow one of the Nameless a direct chance to earn their Name, and give them a chance to actually perform.
Every performance they allow one of the Nameless to read the opening lines, and being chosen for such usually means that you’ve a favorable chance of getting a Name soon, but it’s nowhere near the honor as is being given the chance to read a personally constructed piece, and I admit, I felt a small bit of jealously towards the man chosen, but I was over it quickly.
We reached the edge of the town square after little less than an hour. People were lined everywhere, staring at our dark-colored attire that marked us as the Literati. Children looked exited, as did a few of the elderly people. Some of the adults looked vaguely amused, some looked frightened, and yet some looked even more spell-bound than the children.
Dusk approached quickly, so we began to set up our things in the town square as soon as we arrived there. We worked in silence, while Twain told humorous stories for the growing crowd as they waited, which was all Twain really did anymore in his failing health. I was busy attempting to memorize the lines for the opening and closing that Byron had written for me, and I noticed that the man chosen for the solo performance was no where to be seen.
I would, if I were he, have been going through everything I’d ever written in search of my very best. I hoped he was doing the same. It is frustrating to see someone get an opportunity that you want, but to me, it is far more frustrating if they don’t make the best of it. Confident in my memorization of the lines, I placed the rolled up piece of notebook paper into my back pocket. The verse I was supposed to read seemed to be basically about the symbol of the Literati, a Celtic cross with a skull within the circle. I was impressed with Byron’s words, as I usually was, and again exited that I had been chosen to read them. The sun finally fell, and darkness enshrouded the town square, nothing could be seen. It was time for us to start.
With a flash of brilliant orange, I fire burst forth inside a ring of stones sat down by various Nameless. The fire stood in the middle of a city block, blank of anything else save for the crowd around us, and the tent erected which we stood inside. Byron nodded once at me, and I stepped thought the crimson tent flap, starting my sentence a scarce second before I’d stepped out of the tent.

“May the cross of the Celts
Adorned with Death’s head
Loom high above you all
Until you lay down, dead

And may the moon look down upon you
On this dark, majestic night
Never, ever, forget you these words
Never forget to fight

‘Tis my duty to welcome you to the party
And to bring you…the Literati!”

With my final word, out strode Poe, starting already to read a work of his own, leaning upon a black metal cane adorned at the top with a pewter version of the emblem I had just read a poem about, making eye contact with and intimidating each of the crowd members nearest him with naught but a glance. He began to pace in front of the crowd, every word he spoke with such an angry passion that it took one aback;

Morrigan, oh Morrigan
Upon your sable throne
Moonlight pale, moonlight wan
Upon my table shone

Beside her moonbeam-hair there stood
The tools all of my dark trade
A chalice of stone, and one of wood
And my athame's shining blade

With the incense lit I inhale a bit
Then clear my mind of all things

As I begin to pray I'm carried away
to that place of which shadow sings

Where lady Death hunts mortal breath
Upon her jet-black wings

A kneel before a stone, alone
The furrowed letters mark it as my own
Frost seized my breath within the air
As I knelt still, thinking there

Contemplating life, and more so, death
And also light, but still more, night
And as I held my breath;

The shadows all began to sing,
And they told a beautiful story
Morrigan herself ended the thing;
"Carpe Noctem; Memento Mori!".

Without further word, Poe turned and walked back towards the tent in his corpse-like manner, surrounded by complete and total silence of the best kind. The kid of silence that seems to fill solid things, that kind of introspective silence that greets the reading of a poem that does its job. I, standing near the entrance to the tent, even still, was perhaps the only living being that saw him smile as he reentered the tent.
It was the Nameless that came out next, looking dreadfully nervous as he stepped out into the open and took a place, standing still before the fire. He spoke in a voice that seemed to know its own truth, as though it was inconceivable to him that he shouldn’t be where he was, despite even the nervous nature of physical appearance.

“There are dark times
Upon us all
And yet I fear
This is just the Fall

The coming Winter
Shall be yet colder
Still, you men
Grow no bolder

I don’t recall the last light I saw
So I yearn for but a spark
Even though it’s all I’ve ever known
I’ve grown to fear the dark

Though I am much more
Acquainted with the night
Still I’ll always know
When the time is right
When we must finally fight
Before the winter snow”

Again, silence greeted his words. But it was a different silence. Different isn’t always bad, mind. In this case, it wasn’t, the silence he heard was that of a crowd of people attempting to decipher a message from veiled verse. Which also means that the poem did it’s job. The man turned and walked back inside the tent, where I heard Byron’s hand clap his shoulder, and Poe’s voice said, “Acquainted with the night, are you? Well, in honor of the coming winter you speak of, sir, from now on, you are to be called Frost.” There was a small cheer though the tent, even myself smiled. He was no longer Nameless, he had done well, and earned a name as I hoped to some day.
After this, both Poe and Lovecraft came from within the tent. Poe walked his dark-clad figure to a pole of the tent and leaned against it, facing the crowd, and he spoke

“Leaning against the wall
My form clad in black
'Twasn't long before I felt
His eyes upon my back”

It was Lovecraft who spoke next, in an odd drawling voice that seemed to drip with eeriness.

"What a sight you are, sir
Dressed so dreary
With those dark circles
You look so weary
You look fit for a funeral
And that, friend, makes me leery"

Then it switched back to Poe, who spoke next, turning away from the pole to face Lovecraft, leaning still upon the cane mentioned earlier as part of his attire.

“Next he inquired
Whom had died
And to his words
I darkly replied;

"Listen well, friend
To these words I say
Each and every one of us
Die a little constantly, in some way
So there's a funeral for me, sir
Each and every single day

Morals are sacrificed
And laid down to rest
Human heart is denied
In favor of what's best
So I dress for death each day,
Call it a personal quest
To remind all of you
Of each day's death, lest
We all, as a whole, forget"”

Lovecraft appeared as though he was attempting to digest the words, his countenance in concentration mimicked that of a murderer trying to decide the most convenient way of body disposal. His sinister appearance was added to by the flame-shadow licking at his apparently tortured features, and Poe finished the poem.

“And in utter silence
He turned from me then
A frown sat upon his face
But upon mine, lay a grin. “

Silence greeted the pair of them, same as with the two before. Poe gave a small smile, then threw a powder from his hand which caused the fire to flare up immensely. The rest of the Literati poured from the tent, then, as Poe gestured towards the waiting crowd. What happened nest had always been my favorite part of performances. Literati moved everywhere to meet the town people. Some wandered around, reading their works to all that would hear them. Others sold trinkets and such that they made to secure a bit of extra money. Some people offered personalized poems and the like, there were a few painters and artists inside the Literati that traveled with us for this reason.
Senior Literati made conversation with their newest companion Frost, and began telling stories inside the tent to a paying crowd. They didn’t charge much. The best poets, they say, write for free. But, in these times, one becomes even more aware of the fact that the best poets must eat as well.
I wandered aimlessly, I read a few of my own pieces to passing people to a mediocre reaction. I ended up with a glass of absinthe X and a pack of cigarettes, asleep in the clearing where our performance had taken place, scarcely a foot from where I stood during its entirety, awaiting the dawns first rays to wake me.
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Thirteen_Dreams
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PostSubject: Re: On the Eve of a New Dawn [Prolouge and Chapter 1]   Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:35 pm

I remember this from when you linked us to it at Fictionpress, from Poetic Death. It's a good tale, with an awesome premise (I've always been a fan of the Dystopia genre, and the idea of said dystopia being brought about by pen and paper is awesome).

Still, I'm a bit leery about the dialogue, and some of the narration. True, we're dealing with blokes who've thrown away their entire lives and live undr classical monikers - but what's the bet they'd actually speak as though they're from one of Edgar Allen Poe's stories? I know plenty of people who obsess over classical and gothic literature (I'm one of them), but not a single one actually speaks like that.

Aside from that, there are a few minor typographical errors, as expected from an undertaking such as this.

I look forward to seeing what you do with it in the future.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Eve of a New Dawn [Prolouge and Chapter 1]   Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:32 pm

Thank you for your honesty, Chris. I've actually had everything you just said on my mind as I've been going back over this, if I recall rightly you said something similar the first time. What I've written since resuming the project isn't quite as archaic in nature, and I plan on going back and chanign quite a bit of it once the first draft is complete.
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