June 2, 2021 at 7:06 am #134634
Hiya again! Don’t worry you’re fine, we all have hectic weeks at some point, so you don’t need to apologise.
Thank you so much for your feedback, I’m very grateful for it! I’m glad you like it! And no don’t worry you’re not too harsh at all, it’s perfect thanks! You made me realise I probably should have given a bit more context into the scene, as this actually takes place in the middle of the prologue. I should have explained myself better haha but that’s just me unfortunately, just so very disorganised. I didn’t post the whole chapter because it wasn’t ready yet, but I will do that once its finished.
But yeah I get what you mean, the fantasy and modern elements are jarring, because I didn’t give enough context. I’ll make sure my next post is a lot more concise when it comes to setting and explanations haha. I’ll post the whole section in a little while, starting from the real beginning and ending where I first left off. There’s still a lot to work on lol, but hopefully its going to be better. Anyways, your advice was just great thank you so much!
Also any commentary on the use of vocabulary and descriptions overall? I always find that that’s my biggest problem when it comes to writing. I always end up relying on Thesaurus because I often find that I end up using the same words over and over again. There is also a fight in the prologue which I will be posting when it’s ready. I would love some feedback for that, because I am AWFUL at writing fights. I never know what to say lol.June 2, 2021 at 2:16 pm #134667
Hi so here’s a more complete version of my previous excerpt. I would love to hear any feedback whatsoever, particularly for the fight scene. Like I mentioned before, I am awful at fight scenes. So if anyone here is a ‘fight scene’ expert I would love a bit of advice on the fight moves, descriptions, stances etc. But any other feedback would be great. It is a bit long, so read at your own pace hehe
Anyways there’s a lot more context behind the scene, I hope it’s a bit clearer now. Hope you enjoy! XD
Chapter 1/Prologue Part 1
The air smelled like rotten fish. Then again, the area round the docks always stunk like that. The freezing night air bit into my skin. Blood was rushing through my skull, and my eyes strained from the effort of squinting into the darkness. My breaths were puffing out of my mouth like silver smoke. My feet were pounding silently beneath me as I sped onwards across the roofs.
The lights of the city centre flashed in the distance, lit up skyscrapers scratching the skies. I could hear the distant announcements of the city intercom mumbling away, vibrating the ground beneath me.
The shadows aided me, as always. I melted into them, my body swiftly disappearing and reappearing as I ran. Even so my teleportation was of practically no use to me. Because no matter how far I travelled through the shadows, my pursuers still ended up at my heels.
I laughed, the sound drowned out by the city noises, a mixture of intercom announcements, sirens and traffic. It had been a long time since I had received such resplendent pursuit from unknown enemies, whose faces I had to see.
I leapt from roof to roof as easily as any panther. Tonight, I was less agile. My feet skidded slightly on the tiles several times as I increased speed.
My ears picked up sharp, distinct sounds of rapid footsteps, grunts and harsh breathing. About a hundred yards or so away. I gritted my teeth. Flipping heck, they were some sturdy bunch. Clearly, even I wasn’t fast enough.
A shock of pain struck me in the ribs below my shoulder blade. I let out a shout, stumbling, but quickly picked my pace. Hissing I yanked out the arrow and discarded it before leaping off the building roof and teleporting onto the next structure in my path.
Spying the sea shimmering below the cloudy moonless skies, I pushed on. The docks weren’t far.
I took a deep breath, my foot bracing against the ledge as I took that leap.
Sharp agony burst open in my left shoulder as something sharp sliced through it. I yelled out as I jumped. Cold air blasted in my face. I had to keep going. The docks were right there. I just had to transport myself to the next block and then I would be there. Summoning the shadows, my air-born body disappeared in a whorl of darkness.
The loss of concentration from the pain cost me. My body manifested at the edge of the roof of a building under construction. I grappled onto the piping below the roof, grunting from the pain. It was difficult to see now my surroundings now, therefore I couldn’t teleport.
Warm liquid was already covering my skin as I reached back and roughly pulled the arrow out. I pulled myself up with great effort, my muscles screaming with the effort.
“Come on you big eejit,” I snarled. “Push – up.”
One hand grasped the top of the roof. I used that as leverage to pull myself up. My fingers cut into the concrete. Almost there-
Pain exploded in my arm as an arrow embedded itself into. I roared, losing my grip. And I fell into the darkness blanketing the ground forty feet below.
I wasn’t disoriented or panicked enough to act on my instincts. I disappeared into shadow as I tumbled, manifesting again two feet above the ground. The tarmac was cold and unforgiving as I landed, biting in my skin as I instinctively rolling and landed on both feet, my knees bent beneath me in order to prevent damage. Not that it would have lasted long anyway.
Hissing I pulled the arrow out of my forearm, blood spilling out in streams. I grunted as the wound immediately closed up, the pain fading. Assessing my surroundings, I noticed I was near the edge of a junkyard. There were a few cars parked in parking lot fifty yards away. The docks were just half a kilometre away. I could hear the lapping of the waves, the ringing of boats. Tarpaulin from a nearby construction was flapping in the wind, and the smell of tar and salty wind filled my nostrils.
A faint light caught something on the body of the arrow, and I frowned, tipping it to the side for a better look. A series of patterns had been carved on it, stretching all the way up and ending with an eye symbol on its arrowhead.
A series of light thumps sounded around me, and I slowly looked up. Tall figures stood around me, dressed in hooded robes. Fifteen of them approximately. I was surrounded. There was no way out for me. They skulked in every corner of my vision.
I sighed, fixing the leather collar of my overcoat. “Domnu kill me,” I muttered, my head still spinning slightly. “I’ve finally gone and done it now.”
Their leather armoured outfits would have easily ascribed them to the roles of assassins. Of course, they weren’t just assassins. Freaking Asarlaithe. Specifically, the Dark Druids. The sun crosses emblazoned on their black hooded veneers made it blatantly obvious. Yep, I was officially dead. No will for me so.
I smiled at them, showing my teeth. “I had no idea that I would be graced with the presence of a wonderful group of magical wizards tonight. Going to practice a bit of hocus pocus with me? I am truly honoured.”
They sneered at me, though some bared their teeth at the affront.
“You would do well not to insult us, sand scum,” one chuckled, stepping forwards. He clutched his staff in his right hand, while in his left, he held a scroll. When he raised his head, I could see a series of white scars lining his sunken face. His only eye eyed me beadily, night black in colour. He could have been anywhere between fifty or two hundred years old. It was hard to tell with asarlaithe.
I pushed myself to my feet and glared at them from beneath my eyelids. “All right. Let’s get it out, shall we? Who hired you?”
“Does it make a difference?”, he sneered. “I think you know who we are. The Order of the Dark Druids.” He made a small bow. “It truly is an honour to make your acquaintance. Boy,” he added with a sneer.
I made a low mock bow back. “You gave quite an impressive chase there. I never knew that the Dark Order were in such strapping condition.” I chuckled humorously. “It seems I have met my matches after all.”
“This may be a surprise to you dog, but a great many people wish to see you dead,” his smile widened, his one eye shining. “And you’re a very difficult person to catch. We Brothers of the Darkness never allow something escape our clutches.”
“Oh, I’m well aware of that, thank you.” I looked at them each in turn, assessing their faces, their size, the weapons they held. I could take them down easily enough, the numbers didn’t matter. They seemed a rather gawky, spindly lot in comparison to me anyways. Not that I was bragging. I was just being realistic.
Even so they were armed. Three druids had a blade each. Four had one on each hand. Four were archers, crossbows held tightly in their grips. Three of them held no weapons, though they could be easily concealed beneath their cloaks. I smiled. Yes, I could certainly handle this lot.
The deformed man before me was no doubt the leader, judging by his more decorative outfit and staff. Narrowing my eyes, I took in the purple stone set into the carved wooden six foot long stick. Hazel no doubt. Carvings were etched into its side, giving it the appearance of ropes wrapped around it. No. Snakes. Hundreds of them, big and small, frozen into wood. With the intense detail, their scales, eyes, fangs, you would be forgiven for mistaking them for real ones.
“I know who you are,” I said. “Garbhán Ó Dubhuir, the High Druid. I’m rather surprised you’re here to tell you the truth.” I shrugged, “I figured you’d be working in some cave somewhere festering in your own excretion.”
His smirk faded, and his mouth twisted. “You would do well to keep your tongue to yourself boy. You should be grateful.”
I tilted my head thoughtfully. “Oh dear. That does sound like fun.” I sucked in a breath. “But unfortunately,” I took a few steps forward, flexing my neck and cracking my knuckles “Duty calls.”
With a growl, I swung my fist at him. He dodged, skirting out of my reach. A blade swung at me whistling through the air, and I dodged it smoothly, disappearing and reappearing in front of the assailant, my fist walloping into his neck and swinging my foot into his side. Teleporting behind him, I grabbed his arm, twisted it, and swung my knee into his back. I turned to greet my other opponents as they charged at me, flipping one over my shoulder, roundhouse kicking another off his feet. All my moves were calculated, controlled. Battle frenzy was not the way I was taught.
“Is that all you got?” I rasped, a smirk tracing my face. “Come on. Don’t be shy.”
The next few moments were a blur as I fought off the gang of druids with all my strength. My brain calculated their next moves based on their positions. They were skilled in combat. But they lacked in agility and resilience. I smiled at them as I deflected one blade, dodged an arrow, disarmed an aggressor with two swords and slammed my head into his. The fact that I could teleport into the shadows and fight at the same time caught them off guard.
Ó Dubhuir did not join in. Instead, he appeared to be kneeling and looking at the ground. Why was he not fighting back? He was letting his henchmen do all the work instead? The thought made me even angrier. I roared as I delivered blows upon my assailants.
Adrenaline pulsed through me as my fists swung in every direction, disappearing and reappearing in order to get the upper hand. Spinning I drove my fists into two, then another. Swing. Crack. Disappear and reappear. Punch. Crack. Disappear and Reappear. Crunch.
And they still kept coming, showing no signs of standing down.
“So, my informers were speaking truth,” Ó Dubhuir laughed, getting to his feet. “Your invincibility is quite formidable, boy. Your people taught you well.”
I snarled, slammed a druid into the ground, and struck another in his abdomen and sprinted at him. He just stood there calmly, watching me. Disappearing into shadows, I reappeared before him, my fist smashing towards his face. In an instant, he disappeared into dust, and my fist drove through the brick wall with a resounding smash. Clouds of dust rose up from the damage.
A laugh sounded and I whirled, breathing heavily. “That temper of yours will get you into trouble someday boy,” he jeered.
I braced myself, going to move towards him. But I suddenly hit a barrier. Confusion rippled through me, then my eyes widened. I knew what was going on before I looked at my feet. A circle filled with swirling patterns and lined with ancient runes.
I swore under my breath. I heard them laugh.
“It’s like I said boy. That temper was bound to cost you someday. Now look at you. Pathetic.”
I attempted to call the shadows, to move within them and get out of this thing. But nothing happened. I gritted my teeth and tried again. I stood there, sweat beading my forehead as the reality of the situation slowly came over me. I was trapped.
The druid closer to me stepped in my direction. “Having trouble with the auld Sacred Metamorphosis, vermin?”
Sweat broke out on my skin as I tried again and again to move across the barrier or to teleport. But nothing happened.
The words surrounding the circular shape were easy to understand. I swore under my breath when I realised that for the first time in a very long time, I had been outsmarted.
“If only you had looked where you were going,” Ó Dubhuir said to me, his ebony eye glinting.
“You wish to kill me?” My voice was low, even as a drop of sweat dripped down my neck. “Well then.” I looked at them through a dark gaze. “But I should warn you. You have just made a fatal mistake.”
“Oh, I don’t think so.” He stepped forward, his reptilian smile widening. “The fact that it us that are allowed to do this task – don’t you see? It is fate. It has been decided that it would be better to do the job ourselves. That way there will be considerably less pain involved.”
I tilted my head. “So that’s it then? You kill me in exchange for a little smithereen of power?” I sighed. “You Dark Druids never learn do you. No matter how many times you repeat this blasted spell, it never satiates your thirst.”
“Ah but this isn’t the same as the others you see. Our great King heard our pleas for a task that would bring him glory and so he entrusted this valuable mission to us. We are but his servants who do his bidding. We will exchange your powerful body – for something much, much greater than you or I. Oh don’t worry. I promise you that it will be over soon. In fact you will join your brethren in Eternity, serving our most benevolent Dark King of All.”
“How saintly of you,” I spat. “Tell me something oh great sorcerers. When exactly will this end? When will your power finally be enough?”
“When all of it belongs to us,” he answered coldly. “The chosen ones. The servants of the true King.”
“Keep fooling yourselves until you’re dead in your graves. But you are not chosen.” My lips formed a sneer. “Least of all by some made-up entity. Dēwos dropped you the moment you corrupted the Sacred Metamorphosis and chose to follow the path to acquire forbidden power. Or hasn’t anyone told you?”
He smiled at me, as if he knew something I didn’t. “I’m not speaking of your imaginary Creator. I speak of someone more powerful, more courteous than this Dēwos ever would be. He is who we follow.”
“And who might that be?” I demanded. “If I am to be given up as his sacrifice, shouldn’t I at least know who this amadán is?”
They snarled at me, surging towards me. The High Druid held his arm, shouting at them to stay back. I sneered. “Oh dear. Have I insulted your precious god? Do excuse my poor manners.”
“You will know his name once you see him.” Ó Dubhuir said quietly. “I do envy you for that privilege boy. Imagine. Meeting the Dark King face to face for the first time since he was banished. It will be the most important achievement of your most miserable existence.
Then without warning, he slammed his staff onto the ground. The ground rumbled beneath me, and the lines making up the circle around me took on a dangerous purple glow.
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.
“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.
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.
I held onto the thing that had always been on my mind ever since I was boy. That image of her. Her toothy smile and mischievous eyes. The way I remembered her. Now there was no way I will never find her now. My gaze shuttered.
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.
I sat there for a few moments breathing. Breathing. My head jerked up, disbelief filling me. I – was still breathing.
I was alive. I was truly – alive. Though I certainly had a bad dose all right if the agony in my muscles and bones was anything to go by. Even so, the hold this spell had on me had been broken. Thank Dēwos. I wasn’t evaporated into nothingness. I let out a soft cry of relief, smiling faintly. Death had certainly not gotten the better of me yet.
I could see bodies scattered around me, dark shapes fading in and out of my gaze. And an orange red light, flickering and dancing. Fire? Where did that come from?
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.
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.
“Gone,” I whispered, my vocal chords straining. That word was the thing that undid me completely. 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.
I looked around frantically, hoping against hope that my arm was sitting here somewhere, and I had just missed it. My eyes fell on a shape lying motionless several yards away from me. The body of someone much smaller than all of the warriors. Someone who wasn’t wearing the embroidered Grim Reaper attire of the asarlaithe. Limbs spread eagle and face down.
My gaze moved towards the smoking jeep that was lying on its side, its windshield smashed. Calculating the distance between the wreckage and the small body, I knew it was a no brainer who the person was and how he or she had gotten here. A human, from what I could sense.
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.
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-“
I heard a soft groan. I blearily moved my head in that direction, seeing movement out of the corner of my eye. The small figure was stirring ever so slightly. My heart rate sped up. The little human responsible for the failed ritual – who had knocked the wretched wizards down like dominos – who had quite literally smashed through a windshield – was still alive?
I closed my eyes, sure that I was dreaming. After all, humans were fragile beings, unable to withstand much stress without succumbing.
An awful snap was heard, and the person let out a muffled cry. A girl, I thought, still disorientated. That’s what it sounded like anyway. Another crack followed after that. Then another. These sounds didn’t register with my brain. They followed one after the other in unison, confusing me more and more, particularly because these cracks were accompanied by groans of distress.
At first, I assumed it was the sound of bones being broken. But I opened my eyes again, my eyes tracked the movements of the stranger, I realised what it truly was. Squinting, I watched as her arm, bent at an odd angle, suddenly snapped into its normal position once more. The human let out a sharp groan.
No way. Not possible. This – this was a human. Her bones couldn’t be snapping back into place like it was nobody’s business. She should be dead. The impact of the crash should have killed her instantly.
And yet – she was pushing herself up off the ground, slowly but surely. Getting up. She was getting up.
My blood flow had slowed, a buzzing sound hammering in my head even as I tried to contain my pain. This – I had not been expecting this. Not at all.
The girl pushed herself up on her knees, then slowly stood up. I could see that she was rather small in size. No more than sixteen or seventeen maybe, though it was difficult to tell.
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 thought I had known pain. I was wrong. This was inferno.
Somewhere far away, I heard voices, calling out. Hands lifting my face, checking my pulse. I forced my eyes to open, to look towards the face hovering above me.
My blurred vision prevented me from seeing her face. Even so, it seemed to be mostly buried beneath a hoodie. Dark hair spilled out, further obscuring my view. She appeared to be speaking to me, but she might as well have been speaking another language.
Around her neck was a golden medallion. I focused on that, struggling to stay conscious. I would not black out in front of a human. I was already humiliated enough.
The girl was shushing me. Stroking my hair. Saying words that jumbled together like a box of puzzle pieces, all convoluted and mixed up. I wanted to scream at her to stop, to go jump in a hole and stay there, to leave me be, but none of that came out.
“Leave,” I rasped. “You – can’t help me human. Just – leave.”
And with that, I retched violently. Bile dripped from my mouth as if I was a mere infant. I shuddered, feeling as though lava was pouring into every pore in my body. I groaned, wanting to just let the darkness take me then and there.June 2, 2021 at 6:59 pm #134687Olivia Catherine@oliviaJune 6, 2021 at 3:18 pm #134752
Hey, sorry for the disappearance! I was struck by relentless inspiration, so I was very preoccupied with actually writing. (I know, shocking XD)
I think the edge the Victorians have is A) they had years of (less) blemished history to draw from and B) they decided to wear it. Not only that, but have grand paintings of them wearing it. lol.
Ah, yes. The Victorians. Their sheer weirdness has never been surpassed XD
That sounds like some serious Outline-Fu XD I guess for filling in the blanks you can always go back to Themes, world building, and most importantly, character development. They say to trim out everything that doesn’t have a purpose – and that is true – but spending a little time getting to know the people or the world goes a long way.
Yes, and I have to admit, I’m having a much easier time in the sequel when it comes to fleshing out the characters and world. Maybe it’s because I have an outside perspective I can use, or because I already know the characters better, or because a lot of things have already happened to them, but I’m just having an easier time writing it. I actually have to watch out that I don’t over-write too much.
Movies like Casablanca and Cast Away are great, but boy did Australia and Pear Harbor feel like the length of a book, lol. My favorite Drama show (and Anime, coincidentally) is Your lie in April. If you like stories centered around art (music, specifically), trauma, and growing up, its a good watch.
Okay, I have to admit, I’ve never heard of any of those movies and I’ve never watched Anime XD But generally… hmm, one of the best series I’ve recently watched was Signed, Sealed, and Delivered, which was just nice, Hallmark-movie fun (though it broke the Hallmark tradition by venturing into some pretty dark themes). Honestly, the characters and writing generally in that series was outstanding and I got way, way too attached to all the characters XD
he problem with that question is that it implies I read the whole thing, lol. If I don’t like a book, I just wont finish it XD. While I know there are worst books out there, the worst book I have read any quantity of has got to be Twilight – yes, THAT Twilight. I scrolled through the pages playing chauvinistic bingo before tossing it in the trash, lol.
LOL, I’ve never heard so many awful things about a single book, and from what I understand, it deserves all of them XD I have promised myself that I’m never, ever reading it XD
Never heard of the first; the second actually sounds funny in a really bad way (like watching B class movies XD); AND HEY! Island of the Blue Dolphins was the first book I had to read for school that I actually liked lol. In all seriousness, I hardly remember anything from the book (I was no older than 10 at the time), but I do remember it being more of a character journey sort of story.
I have to confess, for the second one, I actually re-read all three books, just to convince myself it was as bad as I remembered. It’s actually really funny because it’s so awful. It makes me feel slightly more confident about my own writing XD
And I think that for Island of the Blue Dolphins, I think I was disappointed because I expected something more like his other book, “The King’s Fifth.” I really enjoyed that book, it was really well written and the plot was interesting.
"Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark." The Tale of DespereauxJune 16, 2021 at 1:38 pm #134781
Hey, so something really weird has happened, a bunch of our posts are gone, and looking throughout the forums, it looks like a lot of posts are gone. It looks like the the entire forum got reset to a week ago, is this on my end? are you gals getting this too?June 16, 2021 at 3:19 pm #134782
I have the exact same thing! It happened suddenly this morning, everything was just gone, no idea what happened.
"Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark." The Tale of DespereauxJune 16, 2021 at 4:48 pm #134789
Yikes, that is really discouraging. Is there a way we can contact someone? I had a lot of writing critique that just got lost…June 17, 2021 at 1:57 am #134802June 17, 2021 at 4:28 am #134804
Awesome, thanks. 🙂 And I hope so too, it was probably over 6k words…
Speaking of which, @irishcelticredflowercrown, I have the last portion of saved to a word document, so if you need me to post it again I can.
Edit: oh, you are right Rose, her response came through in my email but not on here, this is very strange.
June 17, 2021 at 6:46 am #134806
- This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Fitz. Reason: Checked emails and saw replies
I can’t see it either! I saw it upload onto the chat room and then I came back later and it was gone! And a few of my recent posts have vanished too! Whats going on?
Jeepers this is so annoying, I hope you get your critiques back 🙂 Don’t worry, I actually have your corrections saved to a word document so I’m good for now, but thanks for the offer! I just hope this issue is solved soon.June 17, 2021 at 4:04 pm #134819
HEY, THIS ONE POPPED UP! FYI, you should have my messages in your email (maybe in your junk section) if you have email notifications turned on. I didn’t think I did and the popped up there anyway.June 17, 2021 at 5:18 pm #134824
Yess! 🙂 Yours are popping up too in here and my email inbox (I have notifications switched on).June 17, 2021 at 11:36 pm #134837June 27, 2021 at 12:36 pm #135233
Hey, I think I am ready to finish the critique. If you still have the emails of my messages would you mind posting them back for me? I want to get back to where I left off. 🙂June 27, 2021 at 12:53 pm #135234
Hi there Fitz! I have your critiques posted below 🙂 thank you for taking the time to do these critiques, God bless!
So, starting with bows. According to https://www.bowhunting.com/bowhunt101/much-draw-weight-hunting/ hunting bows pretty much run the gambit between 40-90lbs of draw weight (how much resistance, in pounds, the bow needs to be drawn back and thus about how much force it transfers to the arrow). These are ranges designed to take down dear, and while pigs are a closer comparison to humans, dear are still large game. Bear in mind, when I say ‘take down’ I mean kill rapidly (we will get to that later), good shot placement either in the heart, in the lungs, or in the liver can drop a dear in a couple of minutes to a few seconds. Even medium power rifles can drop a dear instantaneously, but that is a different story.
Anyway, it is important to note that this is also talking about hunting bows, which are perfectly fine against soft (unarmored) targets, the warbows used by the medieval English longbowman against possibly armored targets got as high as 100-120 lbs! Imagine the weight of a small to average sized woman hurtling towards you but with all that force focused on a knifes point; if you don’t have armor, and it doesn’t hit bone, that is going right through you. Now, none of this might matter because I don’t know the world, they could be using low power hunting bows, there might be magical factors etc. but this is just to give a gauge about bows.
Arrowheads, on the other hand, would almost certainly be different in this situation. Classic arrowheads meant for hunting game have leaf-shaped (or even sometimes crescent-shaped, if you can believe it) heads meant for easy retrieval once the game has been killed. Arrowheads specifically designed for killing people are barbed, meaning once that sucker is in, if it didn’t go through, it is a right hell to get it back out. And considering how evil these people are, I would very much believe they would barb their arrowheads. Also, I have heard that it wasn’t uncommon for ancient armies to dip their weapons in their feces to cause secondary infection, certainly an idea you can put in there.
Now, mechanically, removing anything that is imbedded into you is difficult and often very painful (unlike the initial injury, again, we will get to that), even if the object isn’t in an awkward location. As a side note, unless you have magical healing powers, never remove foreign objects like that, it could be the only thing keeping you from bleeding out (again, we will get to that later, lol). Anyway, the point is that it is hard enough dealing with acne I have on my back, now imagine trying to leverage the force needed to actually pull something out; which would be impossible to do if that object is barbed.
Ok, on to pain. Strangely enough, those who have been shot or stabbed (and I know this from a personal experience with sharp glass), one typically doesn’t exactly feel pain from the initial injury, they do feel the impact, however. For example, people who have been stabbed in the back often wonder why a person was hitting them in the back, only to later be told that they are, in fact, bleeding. Impacts from higher caliber rifles feel like a punch or a kick and smaller calibers might feel like a burning line in their gut. Heck, people have shot of their own limbs and not have the pain register immediately. From my own personal experience, the glass going into my arm didn’t hurt at all, the nurses messing with the wound on the outside did. Expectations and surprise play a huge roll in pain, so once you understand that you are hurt, your body/mind quickly register it (getting a fishing hook stuck in you often hurts less than getting it out… also from personal experience, lol). Along with surprise disguising pain, adrenaline is a hell of a drug, and people have been known to fight for minutes without outwardly registering that they have suffered even fatal wounds.
Lastly, traumatic injury. Now, before I go forward, I want to be clear that I do not have any professional medical training. With that said my mother has been a registered nurse for 30+ years and my brother-in-law is an EMT and I have been studying (and have sitting right next to me, lol) his EMS book. So, penetrating trauma to the chest is very serious. Your chest cavity is pretty much only filled with your lungs, heart, and major blood vessels. To a normal person, damage to any one of these can be fatal within minutes; your heart pumps about 100% of your blood every minute under normal circumstances (more if hopped up on adrenaline) and loss of 40% or more of that is pretty much fatal. Penetration to the lungs can not only let blood into them, but it can let blood into the sac surrounding the lungs, making breathing very difficult and painful. Same thing with the heart. Even if you don’t damage either of these organs directly, and avoid important blood vessels, blood pooling around them causes a buildup of pressure that can also be fatal. This is why you don’t remove penetrating foreign objects from your body outside of the hospital, since the pressure from the object itself is applying pressure to the surrounding tissue, remove that and you will just add bleeding on to your list of problems, lol.
Judging from the arrow placement in between his ribs, on the left side just below the shoulderblade, I would say that arrow 100% penetrated a lung and is at risk of getting his heart too. Now, as for his healing factor, it could easily be that his body reabsorbs his blood as it heals (since that is what bodies do anyway); and his ability to teleport could actually exclude the arrow, giving him a way to easily and painlessly remove the object. To restate, all of this is just information. He is a magical being, we have no idea how his body functions or where his organs are placed. This is a story, and realism is very often a detraction from high fantasy esq stories. So take what you will from it and leave the rest
Alright, so a couple of quick notes here: are they wearing the leather under the robes? or is just that they have leather armor with cloth cowls or cloaks? Not a big deal just something to clarify. Also, like I stated before, this is a good way to introduce a proper noun thingies in the world.
The sentence “Yep, I was officially dead. No will for me so.” needs to be touched up a bit, the period in the middle makes it a little confusing. I would tweak along the lines of “Yep, I was officially dead, and with no will to speak of…” I like the intention and the personality coming through (him being distracted by a very irrelevant, but kinda personal thought), it just took me a couple of reads to catch what you were saying.
Ok, I want to shift gears here a bit for this next part because there is a lot going on. I am not going to lie, this middle section is the weakest bit of the story to me, I see a few things going on and I want to break it down to be as constructive as I can.
So to start, there seems like there is a big shift in tension and tone here. We go from a guy who is competent and little cocky, to a man getting injured and rapidly exhausted to one who is surrounded and in actual danger; going so far as being sure he is going to die. Then, all of a sudden, he is back to being cocky and a match for them all? As a reader, it was really jarring to see this. We don’t know all of what is going on, how powerful he really is by comparison to most of the world (we get the impression he is far from defenseless) but the fact that the very first thing we see is him running, and running so doggedly, informs us (the readers) that whatever is chasing him is always going to be scary to him. Even if there is a reason for it, it begs the question to the reader ‘wait, if he was so good, why didn’t he just turn around and fight them to begin with?’
A different aspect I want to bring up is that we humans are easily manipulated. We will always cheer for the ‘victim’ in a situation, not the perceived aggressor, even if we don’t know anything else about what has transpired. Picture two dogs, one is attacking and the other trying to run away, 99% of people will rush to the defense of the dog trying to run away if they know nothing else about the situation (the same is true even if the two entities are fighting but one is clearly more powerful than the other). This is a fantastic tool to use as the opening hook of a book because we immediately jump to the defense of the perceived victim, creating a temporary emotional response so the reader will stay long enough for a real character investment to form. When Ninja (I am going to call him that because I don’t know his name and I like it and it is kinda fitting XD ) suddenly turns around, arrogantly and without fear, it really made me question why I was cheering for this guy.
I want to be clear, it is perfectly ok for him to put up a façade of confidence and arrogance – it is a pretty normal to have a bluff response in situations like this – but the lines: “I looked at them each in turn, assessing their faces, their size, the weapons they held. I could take them down easily enough, the numbers didn’t matter. They seemed a rather gawky, spindly lot in comparison to me anyways. Not that I was bragging. I was just being realistic.” Dispelled that from being a chance.
From here, I actually want to say that I saw nothing wrong with your descriptions of the fight scene! It was active, it felt like it flowed and that I understood what was going on; what I felt like was missing was the tension because Ninja and the baddies were suddenly on an even playing field and Ninja seems like less of an innocent victim (even though the other guys are obviously way worse). So the biggest things I would change here is tone down his arrogance in the situation, play it off as front of someone who is scared and dangerous (like a cornered predator); and keep the Asarlaithe themselves threatening. This way, when he starts to fight back, we are rooting for every hit he lands and every swing he dodges – if you make arrows from before more dangerous, then we can get an even bigger sense of real danger, but between the tension in the chase and your excellent bit in the ritual circle (we will get to that) later on confirming the danger, I don’t feel it is necessary. Further, as it starts looking like he is doing well, as hope rushes in that he might actually win, and as his fear turns into anger making him stay and fight instead of simply looking for a way out, we can get caught into the same mistake he makes and form (probably) the first moment of real sympathy with him when it turns out to be a trick.
This brings me along to the second thing I noticed: the characters and dialogue fell flat for me here. From hearing Ninja’s internal dialogue we get a sense of a young warrior, physically in his prime, with all of the testosterone and confidence that can bring, but with some real training and mentorship under his belt. He has a bit of roguish bluster but also has real skill to back it up. The degree in which he goes from actual discipline to anger in the scene is pretty jarring. At first we get “All my moves were calculated, controlled. Battle frenzy was not the way I was taught.” And “My brain calculated their next moves based on their positions. They were skilled in combat. But they lacked in agility and resilience.” But then right after we get “Why was he not fighting back? He was letting his henchmen do all the work instead? The thought made me even angrier. I roared as I delivered blows upon my assailants.” It was like he was two different people from one paragraph to another.
The impression of his character I got before here (and after) was left with was that of young Indiana Jones or maybe a young Boromir: someone with a brash confidence, yes, but a real talent and good enough head to tell when he was really in danger or over his head; not that such a realization would necessarily stop him, but that there would certainly be a real respect for the threat at hand. Which kinda ties into the point I made above: if he doesn’t feel threatened, why should we?
Which brings me to the baddies dialogue. I gotta be honest, it seemed mustache twirly and petulant. Part of this I think comes from the amount of exposition in the dialogue and I think another part of it comes from the fact that I am not really sure what you were trying to do with them, or Ó Dubhuir in specific. There are many types of villains, and many can work well, even petulant ones or those with literal mustaches to twirl. While part of that depends on the nature of the story, the vast majority of that depends on them being characters first. It wasn’t that he was evil for evil’s sake that made him feel flat, but the fact that nothing seemed to make him unique or distinct from other villains. On a side note here, the dialogue between him and Ninja didn’t feel like two distinct people talking, but two different splits of the same person: both were blasé, arrogant, and demeaning, one was just more evil than the other.
From what you were saying earlier, it sounds like what you are going for with them is an addicted villain archetype; which, I also have to be honest, is really cool and unique. Addiction typically doesn’t lend itself well to powerful villain archetypes (unless it is more psychological in nature, such as addiction to control, fame, success etc.), but here we get a chemical style addiction that itself grants power. The thing about chemical addiction is that it turns people into animals where the only thing they care about is getting a fix for the craving. Through an addict’s eyes people aren’t people anymore, not even themselves, everything is a means towards the end of the fix. They steal and murder for a fix. They trade their own bodies, and those of their children, for a fix. If you want a horrifying thought, picture Golum (from LoTR), except give him sorcerous powers and make the thing he craves not an object you can give him or throw away but your literal life force.
If I were Ninja, and that was after me, you can bet I would be running like hell too. And if you do decide to implement it this way, you can see how much it would change the scene. There probably wouldn’t be any dialogue (at least until he is trapped within the circle), just a terrifying moment of him frantically searching for an escape before realizing he is well and truly surrounded by slavering witches eagerly waiting to tear him apart, molecule by molecule, for the tiniest drop supernatural stimulants; hell, lions stare at gazelles with more humanity. The lack of dialogue here, by the way, I don’t think would detract from the scene as most of the important information is easily given through his thoughts (more on that later).
Now, the above idea of an addicted villain archetype is purely an idea. I picked it because that was what it sounded like you were going for, and as an example of how radically the entire scene shifts through its implementation. My intention isn’t to tell you how you should write your story, but give you ideas for you to decide. So again, take it or leave it.
Ok, last bit here has to do with the pacing of the scene and exposition. In short, the quantity of dialogue in this scene feels too much. When Ninja is first surrounded, the scene goes straight into banter and exposition and it halts the momentum of tension that was built in the chase leading into it.
This halt in momentum also makes it seem like that both the bad guys aren’t really that interested in Ninja and that he really doesn’t consider them a threat either; this would occur regardless of what the points I made above simply because they all decided to stop and begin talking when, only moments ago, lives were on the line. The only part in this where I think anything like a conversation could occur naturally is when he is already trapped by the circle (one liners can be fine though). There, Ninja’s dialogue can take on a desperate, almost pleading tone as the druid go about making the ritual happen. Ninja can’t do anything else to escape, and the druids can’t rush the process either (from all appearances), and if verbal incantations aren’t needed then they lose nothing by conversing; which keeps them consistent as a believable threat while giving the reader opportunity to learn more.
The final benefit is that this is the perfect place to drop little tidbits of information (more on that below) since they innately carry with them the weight of doom that is in the surrounding situation.
The purpose of this dialogue overall, from what I can tell, is for banter (characterization) and exposition. From what I said above, the banter didn’t really feel like it brought anything to the table. As for the exposition, we already get a lot of the information we need from both his internal monologue and thoughts, and you show us a lot through his suffering part of the ritual (again, I loved that part, we will get to it later). I also get the sense you are trying to put too much information and/or worldbuilding in this scene. To be clear, it isn’t to say that this information isn’t good, only that I don’t think it belongs here.
I believe the goal in an opening scene of a book is to deliver enough information so the reader isn’t confused while giving them little enough information to leave them tantalized about the wider world and plot. The idea of evil cultists and human sacrifice, even in a modern fantasy setting, is pretty straight forward; the delivery of tension in the chase provides investment through real threat; then you drop the little breadcrumbs of plot that make the reader go ‘oh, shit, what happens next…’. From there, during calmer scenes of either exploration (showing) or conversation (telling), the reader will be eager to learn more and immerse themselves in the world.
I want to stop here a moment and reiterate something before continuing: my intention is not to take over your writing, but to extrapolate from what you have you have said what it is you are going for. But I also only have my own voice and brain to work with, so if I’m off about something feel free to let me know.
And with that said, let’s put all this together…
Enter scene: Ninja lands after his fall from the construction site. He turns and is about to teleport before into another patch of darkness when a figure steps silently out of it, a feeling of inhuman hunger projects from under its shadowed cowl. Without hesitation, Ninja turns to another patch of darkness only for another faceless figure to emerge from it. One by one, each of his escape routes are blocked. Then, a distinct person appears, he bears a staff etched to appear like an orgy of snakes and symbol of the Dark Druids (which Ninja recognizes) is emblazoned upon his robes.
From here, Ninja can either have his suspicions confirmed about who was chasing him or have it be more of a surprise; either way, once he recognizes who these people are, and who their leader is specifically, his gut twists into knots as that reality sinks in. His training kicks in here, however, and instead of dwelling on his predicament and allowing himself to get dog-piled from all directions at once, he goes on the offense attempting to break through the enemies lines.
Action begins: Ninja presses forwards, desperately attempting to get away. He is individually faster and more skilled than his opponents, but they drastically outnumber him. His attention is critically divided, for each desperate teleport he manages some foes are already waiting for him and the others are only milliseconds behind. For every three blows he dodges one gets through, and it is only by his regenerative abilities that he stays alive; but he is giving as good as he gets, and unlike himself, they don’t have the ability to heal. A little voice in the back of his mind is telling him something is wrong, but the threat from the Asarlaithe gives him no time to breathe or think, and he pushes that feeling away.
Then, they begin to tire. Every blow he landed is beginning to add up: they are limping, holding their ribs, or throwing punches with their offhand, and that fear he felt begins to turn into anger. He goes for a more offensive style, pressing his regenerative advantage, accepting hits to strike at eyes, jaws, groins, joints, and throats. As they begin to fall, his anger is only fueled…
Then Garbhán Ó Dubhuir appears next to him. Ninja wheels about to strike at him, but before the blow can land, he shunts to several yards away. Without thinking, Ninja teleports after him but again the High Druid shifts away. When Ninja attempts to teleport again, nothing happens… He blinks for a moment, confused, and tries again. Nothing. He looks down to the ground only to find himself trapped within the ritual circle (as a side note, if you wanted to up the evil factor, one of the druids could be caught in there with Ninja, the other druids wouldn’t care and consume him along with Ninja). Horror crawls up his spine as it dawns on him how well and truly screwed he is as, one by one, the druids begin to pick themselves off of the ground and approach the circle…
Exhausting himself against the magical boundary, and not knowing what else to do, Ninja’s mouth begins moving on its own accord; it is filled with a mocking bluster disguising (or perhaps refusing to acknowledge) the terror he feels inside. He taunts the druids about their need for the high, how it is never going to be enough or how they will never be free from their dark god. As they surround him and the circle, their faces become visible (either from the arcane sigils beginning to glow, or from the fact that they are simply no longer fighting); the skin druids’ faces can either be drawn tight or sagged; pockmarked and scarred from either erosion of the tissue or from constant picking. Their eyes though… their eyes are empty, manic and bloodshot; both ringed and sagged as if they haven’t slept in months or years; their gaze twitching rapidly up and down his body picking him apart desperately, almost lustfully. (Their hunger perhaps also increased by the expenditure of magic needed to catch Ninja.)
From here, a couple of different things can happen. If there isn’t a druid in the circle, Garbhán can make simple reply to Ninja about how it will be enough once their god can walk among them himself, or how he isn’t just sending Ninja to him, but Ninja’s body and soul will be the bridge to bring him here. If there is a druid trapped in the circle along Ninja, he can begin pleading desperately, pathetically, to be let out, how he isn’t ready to meet the dark one. With disinterested, forceful effort, Garbhán deigns to look at the crying druid, saying how he is blessed to meet the dark one and how he is still serving in his return. From there, the ritual begins and Ninja goes through his ordeal, including seeing that being for himself…
… And the rest of the chapter picks up from there. With that little bit of dialogue, all the important information is conveyed: we know about these evil cultists, they are addicted to magical power, they get it from sentient sacrifice, and they are trying to bring their evil ‘god’ into the world. We see just how bad this is from both the fear from Ninja (and maybe the trapped druid) and firsthand from his agonizing experience in the ritual; the details and specifics can all easily be filled in later.
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