Hey, so here is the last part of my critique 🙂
“Pain rocketed up my spin, through my nervous system, and into my brain. I shrieked, falling to my knees as I clutched my head. Suddenly, I was pulled backwards by a rough force. Agony sliced through my forearms as they were suddenly pinned to the wall on either side of me. By two intricately carved daggers. Holding me in place.
Something rocketed through my muscles from the point of contact of the daggers. Faces suddenly flashed in my vision, contorted ugly creatures from the past, howling with fury. Bloody battlefields, the bodies of men, women, children lying in heaps. And a creature of darkness rising out of that massive blood sacrifice with a face so terrible that I let out a shout of horror. I jerked out of the visions, raking in a breath.”
I really like the descriptions here, vivid, creepy, and horrifying. Also, I think here it was a good choice not to show but to tell how terrible the evil creature appeared. This scene is impactful enough without it, and we can trust from the details of his agony just how bad it is; moreover, sometimes describing things like that can just get to be too much.
The sentence structure here needs a little work. In: “Agony sliced through my forearms as they were suddenly pinned to the wall on either side of me. By two intricately carved daggers. Holding me in place.” You can simply remove the periods to get: “Agony sliced through my forearms as they were suddenly pinned to the wall on either side of me by two intricately carved daggers, holding me in place.” Now this is a little clunky/run-on sentence, so you could tweak it like: “Agony sliced through my forearms as two intricately carved daggers suddenly pinned me to the wall, holding me in place.”
In the second paragraph, “Faces suddenly flashed in my vision, contorted ugly creatures from the past, howling with fury. Bloody battlefields, the bodies of men, women, children lying in heaps. And a creature of darkness rising out of that massive blood sacrifice with a face so terrible that I let out a shout of horror.” Can be easily changed to: “Faces suddenly flashed in my vision, contorted ugly creatures from the past, howling with fury: bloody battlefields, the bodies of men, women, and children lying in heaps. A creature of darkness arose out of that massive blood sacrifice with a face so terrible that I let out a shout of horror.”
Ok, so for this next chunk:
‘“Him,” I rasped. Dread filled me as I finally understood what was happening. Who they were really working for. Who their so-called King was. “You’re bringing – no. No, you can’t do this!”
I lurched forward, ignoring the pain in my hands. “You can’t bring them back, you thick apes! It’s blasted suicide, you just can’t. You’ll bring the blasted apocalypse down on us all!”
Each of the druids wore the same hungry look in their eyes, the same poisonous grin. They said in perfect unison. “Oh yes. We will indeed.”
“No! Stop this! Stop this!” I roared, my muscles straining from their agonizing restraints. I could feel the veins popping out of my skull. They just smiled and began to murmur under their breaths. Prayers or incantations, I had no idea.
I shook from the agony in my body, staring at them wildly. This couldn’t be happening. It was too soon. The prophecies stated that these events would unfold, yes. But not yet! Not for another hundred years or–
The coming events will unfold like a thief in the night. I fell slack as those words filled my head. I closed my eyes. Again, I was proven to be an absolute eejit. I had fallen into this trap. And now because of me, the world will face total annihilation.
I knew why they were using me of course. They needed a representative of all the races. And it seemed I was their closest option.
I let out a hiss through gritted teeth, my fists clenched so tight I could feel the nails cutting into my hardened skin. “You. Will. Never. Win.”
“Why so ungrateful. You see, our original sacrifice is – unattainable. So, we must make do.” His lip curled mockingly. “You’re so very lucky scut.”
I stared at them through lowered eyes, fury contorting my voice as I spat. “Blasted amadáin! I’ll kill you. Each one of you. I’ll kill you dead. And I’ll do it from the grave if I have to. Go mbrise an diabhal cnámh do dhroma!”
Ó Dubhuir stepped forward and bent to his knees so that I was looking directly into his eye. “Ah. But you see, sea scut. We serve the one you call the Devil. So your petty insult is wasted on us.”
I spat at his feet.
He chuckled, rasping as if his throat was dry. “Say your last prayers.” His venomous smile grew, twisting his deformed face, and stood up. As he raised his staff and the mutterings increased in volume, their shadows seemed to expand behind them, becoming alive.
Humiliating, was all I thought. This is how I die. At the hands of whiney, slithery asarlaithe.”
Like I mentioned in the last big post, a lot of this can be condensed down so to keep the momentum of the scene going. We really just need a sentence or two back and forth to convey the situation and Ninja’s fear, but I do like the descriptions in it.
“The light came first, blue and blinding, like lightening, ripping from the staff Ó Dubhuir held, connecting to the lines on the ground and flowing into the circle entrapping me. Then came the agony.
And it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I felt millions of knives embed themselves into my skin, slip beneath and fill my veins, invading me, consuming me. The ritual circle lit up, its rays almost rendering me blind. My brain was consumed with burning venom as I violently slipped in and out of darkness. My muscles contorted, twisting and turning this way and that. My roars were drowned out in the chanting, as the Dark Druids stood in a wide semi-circle and raised their hands as they prayed to their beloved entity.
Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to die. Then all of this agony would end. I would be free from this world.
Then before my eyes, darkness manifested into something solid. A swirling portal of darkness flashing with purple lightening. I could hear a horrifying howling like a band of mournful banshee. The veins under my skin boiled as I felt the violent pull, the feeling as if all my cells were being taken apart and pulled one by one into that gateway of chaos.
This was it. This really was my end.”
Ok, THIS, THIS RIGHT HERE, is in my opinion, by far the best bit of writing in the whole thing. We not only get more of the physical descriptions of agony, but you follow that up with emotionally resonating words describing the feeling of violation, and you follow that up with despair that would occur for anyone in this situation. And you do the same with the last pair of paragraphs. It is succinct, flowing, and powerful.
With that said, my only concern is for your heart. It is not my place to pry into things too personal, but if I might share a little, I have written some pretty dark things in the past and they have taken their toll on me. From that experience, I just want to encourage you to keep showing this to the Lord.
“And then all of a sudden, it was over. There was a deafening screeching sound, accompanied with a roaring engine. Shrieking and howling, cracks and snapping, a series of brutal crushing-
And then I felt a snap within my bones as if the hundreds of sharp threads that had been attached to them had been ripped off. There was loud clap as if lightening had struck the the ground before me, so loud it popped my ears. Whiteness danced before my eyes, and I gasped, greedily filling my lungs with air so cold that I cried out.
White noise consumed my hearing as I slowly opened my eyes, struggling to squint through the whiteness. Stinking ash like rotten bodies filled my nostrils as I stood there, dazed. My brain felt as though it had been cut open and put back together again. Slowly the whiteness faded.”
Again, another great series of descriptions; though, in this instance you are describing a sequence occurring over time instead of a single event, and you make it work 🙂
I do wonder if he would have the energy or wherewithal to cry out, or know that he was crying out, rather than whimper or choke/cough. I have had my vision go white before, it was from that instance of glass I mentioned earlier and the nurse was cleaning it with a spray syringe full of water. Thing is, that stream of water hit an exposed nerve, and what I felt transcended pain, it was like I could feel every molecule in that stream that hit my nerve and my brain just overloaded for a moment from the sensation. Anyway, just more information for you to consider if you want.
“After several excruciating moments, I regained some of my sight. Blinking the hot dampness from my eyes, I tried to take in my surroundings. The portal was gone. The asarlaithe were all lying in crumpled, broken heaps, as if they had been struck down like dominos. Dead? Or maybe just unconscious. I couldn’t help hoping that the former was true. I smirked. So much for their colossal power.
To my right lay the battered remains of a vehicle. Its rear lights were on, glowing like rubies. Well – at least I knew what the ‘fire’ really was. Stinking gas was rising up into the air, meaning that engine was banjaxed of course. I blinked the sweat from eyes, my mind whirring. Someone had driven that jeep right in. And in doing so, had saved me.
I had to be saved. From weedy sorcerers of all things. I gritted my teeth in frustration. There had never been a lower point in my life than this moment. “Mortifying,” I muttered to myself. “Someone had to save you as if you were a wee lamb, eejit.”
Remembering the brutal twinging in my right arm, I turned to see it still pinned into the wall, the glow still emanating from dagger.
I wasn’t stupid. I recognised the symbols carved on it, the faint circular lines splaying out and splitting my skin. I spat at the ground in disgust. The sigils of – . I couldn’t help shuddering when I thought about what they had tried to do to me. Until I was abruptly saved by a jeep of all things. A stinking jeep. If that didn’t reduce my honour to cinders I don’t know what did.
Blood sacrifice. They attempted to destroy my body, my life, in order to attain forbidden power from a bottomless pit of chaos. In order to – bring their King back. I had never witnessed one up close before. Until now. In the worst way possible too. Crikey. At least I knew now what it felt like. I let out a bitter chuckle, which turned into a hiss as the pain in my right arm intensified.”
My two concerns with this bit are that it goes on a little long and his mind seems pretty clear despite his ordeal. Considering what he just been through, I would expect his survival instinct to be moving his body almost without his permission and his mood to take the situation a bit more seriously (as we see later). I honestly feel that everything from “I had to be saved. …” to “…If that didn’t reduce my honour to cinders I don’t know what did.” Can be cut. Also, the part with the dagger is a little confusing as it sounds like here he is still pinned to the wall and later on it sounds like he is on the floor. The daggers were clearly holding him through magic, so them not being an issue once the ritual fails seems fine to me (or you can give them a throw-away line about them now being scattered).
“Hazily, I turned to examine my left arm, wondering why I felt such numbness. At first, I didn’t register the empty space, the wispy ash floating in the air, the dagger still embedded into the brick, the blackness covering my bicep. I stared, my breathing becoming shallow.
I blinked, hoping it was a mistake. I was suffering from hallucinations. The intense pain was making me see things. I had to be wrong. Because – there was no way.
My shoulder twitched, and flakes of blackened particles fell off the stump. White noise deafened me. I suddenly found it impossible to control my breathing. Where – what –
I wanted to roar with rage and horror, but no sound came out. Just this hoarse choking sound as I stared at the blackened stump that looked as though it was about to crumble even more.
It was gone. My arm – was gone.”
This here does a great job showing his discombobulated mind: his thoughts are ponderous and slow to come to terms with reality. Further, the ritual leaves him both physically and emotionally scarred, reinforcing the danger present with the villains by imparting a lasting consequence.
This next bit though: “I let out a strangled yell, a crescendo that split my head open and made my eyes water.
I don’t know how long I was roaring for, effing and blinding as if there was no tomorrow. I might have thrown up a couple of times too. Oh yes, my honour had most certainly been sucked down the drain.” Feels overdramatic to me. Considering the excruciating experience he just had and the energy level he has left (and more of this is confirmed later), this seems like too much. Further considering his training and his uncertainty about the well-being of his foes (as we see later), this seems inconsistent… with perhaps the exception of vomiting, as the combination of such intense physical trauma (with unknown side-effects) and his emotional state can make regurgitation likely, and I actually think it is a nice touch. Though, considering how much pain he is in trying to crawl away later, the act of vomiting should be excruciating.
“I looked around frantically, hoping against hope that my arm was sitting here somewhere, and I had just missed it.”
Again, another great sentence reinforcing what I said above.
“A part of me wanted to move closer, to crawl to that human and check for signs of life, even though I knew it was a lost cause, but my pinned forearm prevented me. Besides that, the agony in my legs, my torso – every part of my muscle – was excruciating. I tried to move my left leg slightly and ended up screaming through gritted teeth.
I wanted to move off this blasted circle. The longer I stayed here, the worse chance I had for escaping. Any moment, the portal could be restarted somehow. I couldn’t be sure that the sorcerer-freaks were all dead. But I couldn’t move an inch without feeling that burning pain.”
This part seems really authentic to the scene. Again, I would probably down-grade screaming to crying or whimpering to reemphasize his lack of energy, but the descriptions here create the sense of his pain and soreness along with his desperation to get out of the situation. If you wanted another way of showing both his determination and care, if the daggers are no longer pinning him then you can get him fighting with all his might to move every inch. He is still in about as desperate a situation as before, but now that he is at his most vulnerable and desperate, even with his mind confused and every instinct telling him to run, if he is crawling not just to escape but to help someone else that creates a wonderful sense of his character for the reader.
Lastly, I would probably switch “every part of my muscle” to “every part of my body” or “every muscle in my body” as they are a bit clearer.
“And my arm was gone. I shook my head vigorously, numbness filling me. “This isn’t real,” I muttered to myself desperately. “My arm isn’t gone. I’m dreaming, it’s all just a brutal dream-“”
So, like the little sentence I mention above, these sentences are a nice touch for keeping consistency throughout the scene.
“I tried to lean forward to get a better look. A wave of agony came over every muscle in my upper body. I couldn’t stop the roar that came out, though I gritted my teeth in an effort to quieten it. My vision blurred, red, black and white patterns and spots swam like fish before my very eyes, and I felt more sweat breaking out on my body. Every muscle in my body was wailing as this acidic poison turned every part of my body into inferno.”
I find this bit interesting, along with the other descriptions of muscular trauma above. Are you going more for a sprain/torn muscle type of pain/trauma? Because that kind does tend to have that very sharp sort of pain implied here. On the other hand, damage to nerves leaves that tingling to sharp poking sensation to numbness to deadness depending on how complete the damage is. General trauma tends to start as achy and sore and leads to swelling, which can get intense enough to cause that blurred vision (so much personal experience coming through here…). A note on that blurred vision: very well described, lol.
“I thought I had known pain. I was wrong. This was inferno.”
Considering what he just went through, this sentence seems out of place to me. If I went through what he did, I don’t know if anything else would ever compare. If you want to show his progression into unconsciousness, you can simply say how the darkness on the edge of his vision began crawling to its center (again, personal experience, lol)
And yeah, that is it! I have to say, I like it, I like what you are going for, and I am excited to see what you do with it 😀