EDIT: Let me preface this by saying I really liked this snippet and I want to read more. I just have a tendency not to be very tactful when I'm writing critique, so please don't think that there was nothing I liked in here; I just didn't happen to point it out in the midst of this comment-storm. Sorry
The power that smell holds over ones memory
Pretty sure this is normally one word, but I don't know that it's actually wrong this way. Damn you for making me think!
the blood and ash of the fallen
Blood of the fallen I get. Ash of the fallen is a little more abstract. Clearly, people have been burned, but having this phrase so explicitly parallel "blood of the fallen" makes it seem like "of" should be filling the same role in both phrases--that is, "ash belonging to the fallen". Which is presumably not what you mean, and as a result it's a bit jarring.
I have no idea what marigold smells like. Give me a bit of description here besides the name.
all it takes is .... and I am taken back to a time
This would be more sentence-like as "all it takes is...to take me back". Also, your point here is that despite where the speaker actually is, he/she is remembering the pleasant days of youth. This would come across more clearly if you were more explicit about the contrast "Though I stand..." or "...marigold on the breeze takes me back, away from the bloodied fallen, to a time..." Does that make sense?
I stand here on the battle field surrounded by the blood and ash of the fallen and all it takes is the slightest hint of Marigold on the breeze and I am taken back to a time with out care, a time when I was a
youngling only a handful of seasons old kneeling in elder Turan’s tent watching his gnarled hands work the mortar and pestle.
This sentence is enormous: consider breaking it up so you can focus more on the exposition of the past without confusing the reader with the long sentence structure. Some punctuation would help, as well (any time you write 25+ words with no punctuation, you should probably check to see if you need a comma or two). I've bolded a word you left out, as well.
youngling only a handful of seasons old
And more specifically, this is redundant. Just pick one or the other.
“It is all about balance Verdus that is my point…”
There are two possibilities here. The first is that you simply forgot the punctuation (there should be commas after "balance" and "Verdus"). The second is that, this being a memory, you left it out intentionally to give it more of a stream-of-consciousness feel. The problem with the second possibility is that actual quotations don't tend to work well in stream-of-consciousness, since they tend to be more specific than implied by the style, so if you want to do that (and by all means, I like the thought), you should take that into account and make it clearer what you're trying to do--string memories and quotes together more closely/vaguely; only show partial quotations--and then only from important moments. This goes for the other memory-dialogue in this piece as well.
He stops mid sentence and studies the contents of the bowl with a discerning eye, after a moment he adds a pinch of dried herbs I don’t recognise then sets to it with the pestle again.
This is at least two sentences; break it up (or at least use a semicolon instead of that comma). Also, given that this is a flashback, past tense would probably be sensible to use throughout this passage (eg. "He had stopped mid-sentence and studied..."), and would provide a nice, clear separation from the present-tense battlefield--again, making it clear that despite the current situation, the scent of marigolds has triggered a full-on flashback.
“You must distance your self from ideals such as good and evil boy, they are merely constructs of idle minds! pretty words given the illusion of true meaning.”
*yourself. Also there should be a comma after "evil"; there are other missing commas in the text but I'm not going to make any more mention of them.
At this he sets the Mortar down before him and adds more kindle to the small work fire that occupies the middle of the tent.
1. Is there a reason "mortar" is capitolized?
2. If the fire's already going, it shouldn't need kindling, which is just for getting the fire started, only a step up from tinder (also, kindle is a verb; kindling is the noun). A lit fire gets stoked, or takes more fuel, but only needs to be kindled if it's in danger of going out. I think your intention was to show that the fire is small, but it's simply not the right use of the word here (also, you say "small" three words later). Honestly, if the reader has been paying attention they should already be able to assume that any fire inside a tent will not be particularly large.
Good and evil are nought but words, powerful words true but words none the less.
Okay I lied; I'll mention commas again. Commas! I'd also split this into two sentences for better flow.
Many have and will take up the banner of these ideals and shed blood and die for them but when the sun sets they are little more then a cup that will hold no water, useless and empty.
I like this sentence a lot, both in terms of phrasing and the actual metaphor. The only issue I can take with it is that "they are little more..." is unclear--the subject of the sentence is "Many [people]", so "they" naturally refers back to the subject, not "these ideals". Restructuring sentences to avoid misleading your audience is a good thing.
The Elder snorts quietly in concentration as he sets his mixture to heat in a cobalt pot atop the flame.
While I appreciate your quandary in trying to cover both action and speech in a memory, your structure is really unflexible:
And it's not engaging to read structural repetition like this unless it's done with a purpose in mind. This particular setup also implies that Turan can only speak or act at a given time, whereas in reality he would presumably be speaking as he goes about his work. You can get this across better both explicitly, by saying "'blah blah,' he said, as he blahed", and structurally by putting his actions in the same paragraphs and sentences as his speech. Varied structures are (generally) much more pleasant to read than static repetition.
“You are to be a watcher, it lurks in your eyes like the waiting hunter boy and you must lift yourself above such trivialities and perceive the entire picture.”
For instance, here I'm having to work to figure out what "such trivialities" are. He presumably means "the concepts of good & evil", but because of the way your text is structured, with this in a new paragraph, I've mentally moved on from that topic. Also, "waiting hunter boy" is unclear--is this supposed to be a generic trope? An allusion to myth? This may be a situation where some capitalized words could come in useful, depending on the purpose of this reference (is there a story in their culture featuring a boy who is only ever named as "Waiting Hunter Boy", for instance?).
His hands wave to encompass the entire tent
Period at the end; and the passive-voice "His hands wave" implies a lack of control, like his hands are just flailing around--not very dignified for the village wise man, and probably not what you intended.
“Life requires opposition, it thrives on it! It drives us onwards where otherwise we may fall pray to
idleness, it breeds strength and determination.”
More subject confusion here. In the first sentence, Life is the subject, and it works fine. In the second sentence, therefore, it's assumed that Life is still the subject (since you haven't said otherwise), but this is not what you intended. You could fix this by just replacing "It" at the beginning of the second sentence with "Opposition" (the repetition isn't a problem when you're using it to change subjects), or you could rephrase the first sentence to make Opposition literally the driving force of Life--if you make Opposition the subject, then you're doing with the structure the same thing you're doing in the text, which is a Good Thing.
Also you left out a word.
The steam that rises from the simmering mixture lays thick in the air and fogs my mind,
*lies. Lying is a thing you do; laying is something you do to something else. Also, that comma should either be a semicolon or a period, since it's separating two complete sentences.
I notice the elder is lost in a thought far away from here as he absentmindedly pokes at the fire with a willow stick.
I'm sure you've heard the phrase "show; don't tell". Remember that you're in a flashback here, as well--you're not just noticing; you noticed long ago. But what, physically, did you actually notice? Tell the audience those things, and let them figure out (as the speaker did) that the Elder is lost in thought. Giving the audience some agency in understanding the story makes for a more engaging read.
We must watch for the absence, the nothingness that is ever lurking on the edge of perception.
What? I'm really just confused, here. Maybe he's just being cryptic, but usually you want your reader to be able to at least get a sense of what crypic things mean, or might mean.
It is foul creatures with out name that want nothing more then an end.
*without. You've also got some disagreement here; "it is" needs to refer to something singular, so "it" cannot be "creatures".
With these words the old Minotaur seems lost in the dancing flames of the fire
Woah what? Sorry to be racist, but if the dude's a Minotaur, you've got to say so up front so your audience doesn't go through the whole snippet picturing everything totally wrong. Also, you've got another instance of show/tell here; in fact it's almost the same one. Say he falls silent, staring at the fire, etc etc, but don't say "well he's pretty old so I figured he probably got distracted by the pretty flames and forgot to keep talking". Or actually, do say that (not that it's in-character for Verdus), or say anything besides simply telling the end result of the speaker's thought process.
"battle-scarred" should be hyphenated and include two rs. Generally speaking, hyphenate adjectives when they're both modifying the main noun, rather than one modifying the other, modifying the main noun. Or, as in this case, when the whole thing is really a contraction of a phrase "scarred-in-battle".
Oh god please no. Say it with me: "thoUGH".
The moment of quiet stretches painfully long and I am forced to prompt him for fear of losing an end to his tale.
"moment of quiet" is kind of weird, since "quiet" is unusual to use as a noun in this way. Also since it's lasting more than a moment, so it's just incongruous--simply "His silence" is cleaner. Also, you've got a third show/tell moment here, although this one you do a little better by showing at least some of the speaker's motivation. Part of your problem comes from using passive voice--give the actor some agency, especially
when it's the main character! "Fearful of losing the end of his tale, I prompt him to continue".
I watch as his eye sharpen and the years return.
Watch your plurality. Otherwise, I really like this moment (although it confused me briefly because the "tho" in the previous line distracted me so much I'd forgotten about your years/water metaphor (which I also really liked). This is a place where you could
probably put a sort of value judgement: rather than just the years returning, you could have the weight of years return, or some other physical change in his face to notice as the years return to it.
I'd understand this more if I understood the "absence; nothingness" line a few paragraphs back. As it is, I get the general gist but any deeper meaning or impact is lost.
Although I did not realise it at the time with those four words my future was set.
See, here you've got past tense--I still say you should be in the past for the entire flashback.
Also, come on, you can't leave me hanging like that! You started in the present; either return to it at the end or take the scene from the present out entirely. On a related note, you need to do more with your title: I was expecting a clear reference to the smell of marigold in the flashback to explain why this memory is tied to it, but I didn't get one, so the title (and the whole present-day section) feels somewhat arbitrary.
Wow I seem to have gotten carried away here. Let's see, 486-word snippet... 1771-word critique. Sorry about that. Please forgive my horrible douchebaggery; I really did enjoy reading this and I hope you continue. I very much want to see what is going on in this setting (and how Verdus got from there to here).