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  • #136763
    Linyang Zhang
    @devastate-lasting

    @obrian-of-the-surface-world Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I only have a very faint idea of where this story is going to go, so I’m just as intrigued as you as what is going to happen.

    "I set a melody upon the scenery I saw outside my window;
    It's beginning in my spacy world."
    - TK

    #136764
    Linyang Zhang
    @devastate-lasting

    @sparrowhawke Looking forward to it!

    "I set a melody upon the scenery I saw outside my window;
    It's beginning in my spacy world."
    - TK

    #136765
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @devastate-lasting

    WOW! That was truly spectacular! I was completely sucked into the scene! I love it, and your lovely voice matches the scene so well! (Also, love the title!)

    1. Is there anything that stood out to you as intriguing about this scene?

    I think the implication of all the backstory, and the boy Chen Mai pictures. The one with the rose. That was fascinating, and I’d love to know the story behind it!

    2. What would you say the mood was of this scene?

    Even though the scene was kinda routine, it still had this underlying sense of dread, because you said the world was ending. There’s also a sense of melancholy like Chen Mai is missing someone. She seems sad.

    3. What character(s) in this scene would you like to know more about?

    All of them, actually! They all seem really cool and have a foundation to become interesting characters.

    4. Which character, if any, do you feel the most empathy toward in this scene alone?

    Chen Mai! Totally! She seems so sad, I want to give her a big hug!

    5. Which of the following, as a reader, do you wish I had developed more fully in this scene?

    a. Setting

    b. Character thoughts and motivations

    c. Character appearance and/or mood expressions

    A and B. I think you could have described the setting a little more. I have no idea whether they’re in a city, or out in a town, or what season it is. The few snippets you give are nice, like the curtains blowing in the wind. That set the mood and gave me a really vivid image.

    Although it’s the first scene, I do think you could have developed Chen Mai’s voice a little more. She felt as though she was distracted because she didn’t have any strong opinions or many reactions to things. It gets better toward the end when the earthquake starts, that was really good!

    Your character appearance descriptions are spectacular! I have no idea how you managed it, but you gave me one or two details of the characters and I still picture them vividly and detailed. That was exceptionally impressive! I do think you could maybe describe Chen Mai as well. I don’t think you did?

    6. Do you feel that the dialogue in this scene flows or is mechanical and stilted?

    It flows pretty well! I liked how they sounded like their ages and personalities!

    7. Did you learn something in this scene that you wondered about in a previous scene?

    Since it’s the first scene, this question doesn’t count 😉

    8. Did this scene make you want to read more scenes? (Why or why not?)

    YES! I really need to know why the world is ending, who that boy is, what happened before, what’s going to happen now and– Yeah, everything. I’d love to read more of it!

    9. Is there any part of the scene that you personally felt did not belong?

    I feel like the first interaction between Chen Mai and Yan Ling was a little dragged out, it felt like they were circling around their point. If you were purposefully trying to make them feel like they were awkward around each other, that would be fine, but otherwise, I think you could shorten it a little.

    10. Is there a particular part of the scene that stood out to you as your favorite? (Why?)

    I don’t know if this counts, but I love the prose! You have a talent for using specificity in a way that adds to the story. You give very specific details in a way that makes the story more immersive and that really drags you into it. I’m still trying to work on that, but you do it really well!

    11. What, if anything, would you change about this scene to make it more interesting to you?

    I think you could add a little more of Chen Mai’s voice, basically giving her stronger opinions and reactions to what’s happening around her. That way you can find out a lot more about her than just about the scene.

    12. Is there something in the author’s audio reading of the scene that you picked up on that you might not have noticed if you had just read the text alone silently to yourself?

    I don’t know, I think your narration definitely made the scene feel more alive, but I can’t pin down anything specific.

    This was awesome! I loved hearing it and your characters sound amazing!

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #136767
    Linyang Zhang
    @devastate-lasting

    @rose-colored-fancy Thank you so much for listening to it! Thanks for your feedback, as well.

    Yeah, character voice is not one of my strong points. Also probably because I didn’t do any character development beforehand and wrote this beginning on a whim from an image in my mind. I’ll definitely work on those points, though!

    "I set a melody upon the scenery I saw outside my window;
    It's beginning in my spacy world."
    - TK

    #136779
    Brian Stansell
    @obrian-of-the-surface-world

    Moniker: @obrian-of-the-surface-world

    Book Title: Excavatia: A Swirl of Embers (Book 2 of the Excavatia Series)
    Audio Link: Chapter 36 – Taking The Fifth (Complete Chapter)
    Duration: 24 minutes 45 seconds
    Audio using: Read Aloud: A Text to Speech Voice Reader [lsdsoftware.com] {Google UK English Male}
    By Brian Stansell – also available on “excavatia.wordpress.com”

    Here is the Raw and Unedited Text:  (Word Count – 5,025 Words)

    Chapter 36 – Taking The Fifth
    I watched as Mason made his way carefully across the ice, scanning its surface for weak spots. A brisk wind swept across the lake surface, which would normally have caused rippling and eddying, but now only caused a haze of stinging ice crystals to swirl and gust and bounce along the frozen top. Mason’s clothes flapped with what I knew would be a painfully cold chill since he’d gotten wet as well. I saw him stagger for a moment until the strength of the wind abated, and then lean forward into it and trudge on. Such a determined young man.

    In a few moments, I saw Matt get up and join him and together they began pulling the large log back toward us over the ice. This had better work, I thought. These last few moments alone had told me all I needed to know about Matthew, Mason, and James regarding our shared quest. They were men of character that could be counted on when things went south. Just the sort we needed if we were to survive this together.

    A few minutes more, and Mason and Matthew arrived towing the log behind them with a hand on a branch and their weapons in their other free hands.

    “We gonna ram it?” Matt asked as they dragged it up to me.

    “Something like that. This thing cannot respond to an attack on more than one front, and we cannot risk getting too close to jab, hack or punch at it, as long as it has that free arm loose.”

    “So, what do you want us to do?” Mason asked.

    “Bring it around from behind. James’ll keep it distracted from the front. Dominic and I can feint and jab at it from the wings, and you two can push the log and ram it cross-wise from the rear.”

    “And there’s this,” Matt added, showing me that he had picked up Maeven’s bow and arrows from the ice and had slung the quiver and bowstring behind his back.

    “Excellent,” I praised him for his foresight, “How good are you with a bow?”

    “Passable,” he shrugged, “Mason’s a tad better.”

    “Then you’d better let Mason have the bow. Wouldn’t want a miss to shoot into one of us if we are encircling this beast. Do you have a preferred weapon?”

    Matt pulled the cudgel with the studded mace head on the end from his belt.

    “I figure this will do,” he tapped the upper handle with an open palm and gripped the lower handle with a fist, “Works like a baseball bat. Right?”

    “Just about, though you’ll want to give the end a quick torque twist as you land your blow. Let the studded end do its damage without getting it hung up in the meat of your enemy.”

    He wrinkled his nose and guffawed, slightly amazed at how matter of fact I was in speaking of an assault.

    “It’ll do that?”

    “You bet,” I told him, “so hold back a little for the twist and release. These weapons may seem simple, but they are tools that need an artisan’s appreciation to wield them. A hang-up with a mace or mattox or battle-ax can cost you your life. Come into your attack always with some form of an exit strategy and pull away. Get a sense of your strike path and the way to get clear of it.”

    “What if I throw it?”

    “Then you need a backup weapon because you’d better count on losing it. This isn’t like in the movies. Here even the heroes miss their mark, get tired, beaten or deceived and made a fool of.”

    “So how do we get close enough to hit it?” Mason asked.

    “That’s what the log is for. You ram it against the ice. Pin it from the back so it cannot spin around to meet your charge head-on and then you press your attack.”

    “I hope it works,” Matt grinned.

    “Yeah, me too,” I answered back.

    Mason traded the bow and quiver sling with Matt, for his battle-ax/war hammer combo weapon.

    “Don’t shoot me now,” Matt teased Mason, as he notched an arrow to the string, getting a feel for its tension, before sliding the arrow back into the quiver sling.

    Mason narrowed his eyes at the slight, and growled, “Just don’t go getting in the way, Mr. Pin Cushion.”

    “Guys, you wanna focus here? Maeven hasn’t much time. The sooner we get this over with the better.”

    They grabbed either side of the log and began to slide it off and around to the far west side of the bull Moon Sprite, just 45 feet ahead of us.

    “Dominic,” I called out to him, and he turned his head briefly and then faced the Moon Spite again, dodging its swinging arm assault.

    “See, if you can move out to the east side of James. I’ll fill this position and attack it from this angle. James, keep its focus on your halberd there. I believe it views you as its greatest threat right now.”

    Dominic nodded and then fell back a few paces and crossed behind James to move from the left side to the right, causing the creature’s strobing eyes to shift towards their movement.”

    It was just enough to allow Matt and Mason, to shift out of the creature’s field of vision and move the log behind the creature and get into position without being glared down. I moved forward into the assault position that Dominic had vacated, as soon as the young men were fully behind the raging Moon Sprite.

    I unsheathed the Honor Sword, and carefully wound the bloodline sash to my wrist and forearm, my eyes roving the icy surface just beyond the creature, searching for a glimpse of the present progress and whereabouts of the mysterious giant pearl. My momentary distraction almost cost me my head.

    I felt the whoosh and breeze of the monster’s hard blunted limb pass just below my chin, mere inches from catching the point of my chin, wrenching my neck and knock my head with a blow that would have snapped my spine.

    Distraction in a battle was a killer, I knew that, but stupid me, though seasoned in conflict, was still susceptible to it.

    I brought my blade up, noticed its crackling blue sheen, and the way it seemed to move through the air with something like a double-exposure smear, as I circulated my hands and acclimated to its waft and weight once again. I wondered if I could call upon the verses of the Ancient Text again to enhance our arsenal against this Moon Sprite, but I wasn’t quite sure if this creature was a denizen of the Mid-World or an Ether-Natural from the crossing gates. I whispered a prayer, for either circumstance, knowing that this battle was in the hands of the One.

    James’s blade clanged and scraped at the Moon Sprite’s hard forearm as if he had been striking a metal pipe fence. I could tell he was growing tired, and his arms were slackening with each assault and pull back. If James were not relieved soon, he would collapse from exhaustion. My skill with a halberd was adequate, but I did not have near the upper body strength that James had to wield it effectively. On the other hand, however, Dominic, who had been a farmhand and was used to chores around the Inn, from the time that he could walk until now, did have a stout body and perhaps would last longer with the halberd than I, as it had proven itself to be the most effective weapon against these sea creatures. I focused once again on the Moon Sprites lashing forearm as it came around for another pass, having glanced off James’ parry. Rather than meeting the hard metal-like leading edge, I dipped my blade underneath it, and thrust upward, meeting with somewhat softer flesh and shaving my blade along it. The creature bellowed as the honor sword peeled its inner skin back and exposed the ligature, gristle, and muscle that allowed its limb to flex outward. A spray of silver misted the beast and bathed it in the metallic blood. An “Ahhhh” noise came from its mouth as its breath was sucked in through its barbed forest of teeth. I used that instance to get James’ attention.

    “James!” I called over, “switch weapons with Dominic and fall back. You need a break. You’re winded.”

    “Dominic, can you handle a halberd?”

    The men did not look like they wanted to surrender or give up their positions, but their bodies told another story.

    “Better do it soon, guys,” I added as I saw Matt and Mason dig their feet into the ice and get ready to pull the log in from behind.

    Reluctantly, James let his halberd blade dip and then slowly descend to the ice, as Dominic moved in and pitched the maced cudgel toward him handle first. James caught it in his free hand and swept the staff end outward so that Dominic to take it from him. Dominic shifted and crossed in front of James, holding the halberd in a warding, two-handed grip, his lower hand edging upward to the middle of the shaft to find the balance shift sweet spot.

    James shook out the stiffness in his arms, as he let fall the mace head and caught the end of the shaft. With his other hand, he slipped the leather thong strap over his wrist, as if he had handled one of these before. Fanning out his finger he let loose of the handle and caught the edge of the grip as the slack in the thong lessened and opened wider, reducing the twist in the strap. He shook his arms relieving the tension and knotting in the muscles.

    The Moon Sprite had drawn its wounded limb up and back away but was preparing for another slash. We could see the threat of it in its bunched-up shoulder muscles and its throbbing arterial veins, the enraged flashes strobing from its eyes, its teeth champing in savage bites, its belly rising and falling like a bellows.

    “Oh crap!” James exclaimed, “Get back. Its gonna…”

    Dominic, James and I began to run for distance or cover even before James could finish. The churning and bellow’s like motion told us what was about to happen, and there was no way or time for me to warn the two boys pushing the incoming log towards the back of the beast at an increasing speed.

    About the very moment that the large log crashing into the creature’s back, is when a black explosion of oily, slimy, and acidic pieces of rot and half-consumed chunks of fish and other things best not guessed upon erupted from the vile maw of the creature, spewing that steamy filth across the ice.

    We had turned away from it, but the odor that followed and misted off it in steamy clouds was putrid, vile and sulfurous. The stench alone could cause a man to pass out, and we slid and scrambled as far away from it as we could get.

    Mason and Matt, we thankful out of the line of fire, and were not affected by the projectile assault, but instead rained down a version of their own with a vengeance. Two arrows lodged into the white fish-belly pale hide of its back, with a Thwock! Thwock! sound and a pop as if some internal air bladder had been punctured. The creature reared its head backward, the log impeding its ability to turn as Matt launched upward from the log, the war hammer/battle-ax in one hand and the mace-cudgel in the other. His strikes came down with such force on the top of the Moon Sprite that there was an audible crack sound that echoed across the lake as they met their mark. The creature’s eyes flared, and its jaws involuntarily closed with violence, clipping off a piece of its own tongue. It slouched and sank downward, its large mass lolling forward onto the ice. The bull Moon Sprite was dead.

    James, Dominic and I let out a collective breath none of us knew the other ones had been holding. Vaporous steam poured from our mouths as we rose slowly to our feet, the black gelatinous and lumpy puddle fanned out before us.

    And then we heard Matt start screaming.

    We were on our feet and running around the blackness within seconds, rounding the perimeter of the kill zone, and arcing to rush to Matt’s aid. He had slid down from behind the monster but was covered in scalding silver blood.

    I scanned the ice field, looking again for the whereabouts of the giant pearl. The dark grey of the ice shone with patches of white sheers. Granules of ice beads bounced and swirled in the night air, but I could not see…

    There is was.

    A line of bluish, phosphorescent dust, cast powdery flakes of white into the air as the orb rolled towards us, leaving that plowed furrow on either side of it to mark its path. Matt clung to the log, his knuckles white, and a sheen of silver streaking his neck, cheek, and forehead. He’d released both weapons when they became embedded into the head of the beast, and they now stuck, handles upward like a pair of spiked horns from its slumped cranium, silver spray gushing from the two mortal wounds. We tried to get Matt to release his grip on the log to be able to pull him away from the silver flood from the monster, but he held to it like a vise. Mason, thinking quickly, began to tug the east end of the log backward, to get it to pivot away from the back of the dead Moon Sprite and in so doing pull Matt away from it as well. Recognizing the wisdom of the move, we joined Mason and were able to pull the log and Matt far enough back from the dead creature that the silver no longer rained down on him.

    The pearl arrived just in time and drove a clearing path right into the thickest pool of silver, seeming to suck the mercurial liquid back into itself. We stepped back from Matt, as the orb arced around from the cleared pool, following the smears of silver that Matt’s pulled body had left on the ice. The pearl silvered in a mottled white and black reflective sheen, as it gathered into itself all evidence of the violence leading up to this moment. Finally, it approached Matt’s body, bumping and nudging it gently, as streams of silver, traveled in living rivulets off his body and face and arms and chest, easing the burning and calming him down with each pass. Matt’s hands still bore fleck of silver, but they were lifted upward, and his grip was fastened to the twisted branch of the large log.

    “Matt,” I called out to him, trying to get his attention. His eyes were clenched shut, and his breathing was coming in short gasps. He was hyperventilating, and terrified, and unaware of what was happening beyond the pain he was feeling. He did not notice that the silver had left the rest of his body, but his clenched fists still registered the intense burning he felt in his hands.

    “Matthew,” I said in a gentler, calmer voice, “Let go of the tree. It cannot take the burning stains from your hands if you don’t let it touch you.”

    Tears flowed from the corners of Matt’s eyes, as he continued to clutch tightly to the tree. Through clenched teeth, I heard him say, “I can’t. I can’t.”

    I approached him along with James, Dominic, and Mason, and we placed our hands on Matt, seeking to soothe him and let him know we were there for him.

    “Matt,” Mason said, “Let us help you, you knucklehead.”

    I saw a smile creep into the corners of James and Dominic’s expressions, and I am sure that something of the kind was present on my own countenance.

    “Matt, the Pearl can clean it off you, but you have to let it touch your skin. You have to trust us.”

    “It burns,” Matt said barely above a whisper.

    “I know it does. This blood is unnatural. No telling what else it might do to you. That is why you need to release your grip and touch the Pearl.”

    “You need to get me to a doctor or a hospital,” Matt said taking in shallow breaths, still adamantly clinging to the branch.

    James chimed in, “In case you didn’t notice it, son. We are a long way from normal experiences and civilization. You’re going to have to trust in and rely on the only forms of medicine they have here. But that is not gonna happen until you release that branch.”

    “It hurts,” he said, and another tear spilled down his cheek, squeezed out from his tightly shut eyes.

    “Have a little faith, Matt,” Dominic added, “We’re not gonna let ya down, now are we?”

    Matt slightly opened his eyes, blinking and disoriented, and through tear waited for his vision to clear.

    He saw us knelt around him, reassuring him, our looks of concern, compassion, and empathy apparent in our faces. All focused on him. All pulling for him. Brothers-in-arms.

    And then he softened his grip on the branch and unfolded his hands in supplication, tears still flowing down his cheeks.

    His palms bore angry red welts, with a crooked line of silver searing into his flesh, zigzagging around his wrists and knuckles like a running tattooed series of lightning strikes, jagged and twisted. His knuckles swelled in a rheumatoid arthritis fashion as if they had become larger by three times their normal size.

    The giant pearl oscillated below, waiting in that wobbling fashion as it had done for me.

    Matt’s eyes shifted downward, following our gaze and was startled to see the spinning and wobbling giant pearl so close to him, that he started to move away from it. But we placed our hands on his shoulder reassuringly.

    “Go ahead. Offer it your hands and see what happens.”

    Matt looked at us with uncertainty, but then extended his hands, setting them to rest upon its smooth and softly glowing surface. We watched the look on his face change from trepidation, to a slight sleepiness to awe and wonder, as we knew it would. Matt felt the cooling, soothing effects from the Pearl, as I had, and I knew everything was going to be alright with him. Finally, he lifted his hands from the globe, and the Pearl suddenly turned, shot through the gap in my kneeling legs and rolled away from us, picking up speed as it went.

    Matt turned the palms of his hands upward, and marveled, seeing only renewed pink flesh, with no evidence that the silver burning has occurred.

    We all stood to our feet and turned once again to where Maeven lay attended by Christie in the distance.

    I could not fathom all that had just happened and knew I would need many days to process it all, but one thing still disturbed me about this mysterious pearl.

    Why had it not seemed to help Maeven. What was going on with it? Did we need to get her back on land before we could help her and use the Pearl in some way to make her better? I just didn’t know. How much additional blood had she lost while we were fighting the five…..?

    I paused. The realization hit me like a steel hammer.

    There had been five of these Moon Sprites when we’d entered the lake. We had killed one upon entering the killing ring, where the Moon Sprites has stalked the Manticore into the center of the lake. We had dealt with the Manticore where Maeven had received her injury, and from there we had moved clockwise to the west killing two more female Moon Sprite nesters and then the bull. The fifth one was missing. We could see it nowhere else on the lake where it had been, forming part of the circling hunt ring. Had it gone under? Was it even now stalking us from below the ice?

    “What is it?” Matt asked, seeing me pause and turnabout as if looking for my own shadow.

    “There were five of these, weren’t there?”

    James stared at me, the realization coming swiftly to his mind as well.

    Mason, reached back behind his shoulder and drew out an arrow from his quiver, notching it to the string and then holding its arrow pointed shaft with thumb and forefinger to the guide. His draw arm flexed, adding tension to the arrow, ready for whatever might be coming at us next.

    “Where’s Will? Has anyone seen, Will?”

    When we’d last seen him, he’d been standing by when we’d confronted the first Moon Sprite. He’d come with us onto the ice, bearing a short spear, with a long leaf-shaped blade on a metal shaft fastened to a five-foot ash pole. A very effective weapon which would have been very helpful in dealing death from a short distance. Two leather straps were bound to a capped end ring. The thongs were double wrapped through so that the bearer could gather the loose strap ends in a throwing fist, adding thrust strength into a throw, with the possibility of drawing the shaft back, in case the throw missed its intended mark. If I had to guess, I believed that the whereabouts of Will might, in some way, relate to the disappearance of the fifth Moon Sprite. Together we scanned the surface of the lake, looking for any sign of Will and the Moon Sprite in the approximate distance where we last saw the creature. White powdered dust swirled in twists and eddies, gusting across the frosted landscape. The moonlight dimmed behind silver clouds, making it difficult to see for very far.

    “There he is,” Mason pointed. We turned toward the far end, in the area where the massive and icy columns and chandeliers of spiked frozen water poured in a stilled cascade down the edge of the cliffside. Trathorn Falls’ frozen teeth.

    A figure sat slumped on the ice. From the distance, it did not look good. But we had to be sure.

    “Mason, come with me, Bring the bow.”

    I turned to James, and Matt and Dominic.

    “We’ll go check it out,” I cleared my throat. The chill and ice grit were making it raw, and my ears stung with the cold. “Go help Christie get Maeven to shore. Matt and Dom, there must’ve been a good reason Maeven wanted us to bring that log, so I need you guys to drag it back to where Maeven is. See what she wanted with it. Keep her as calm as you can.”

    James nodded, and Matt said, “I’m on it.”

    As we temporarily parted ways, I joined Mason and we shuffled and loped towards the slumped figure in the distance.

    The figure was not clear, a mere shaded lump of dark along the surface of the ice, diffused by the moonlight gilded fog rising off the cold surface.

    “What do you think he was up to?” Mason asked as we shuffled along, careful not to fall.

    “I don’t think he was particularly happy being teased about the AK-47 gun, with the first one, so perhaps he thought he had something to prove going alone against the fifth one.”

    “What a dumb thing to do,” Mason opined.

    I concurred. “He did not know anything about these creatures. It was foolish and impulsive. But I think there is something else going on with him too. Something he is trying to prove to himself.”

    “Well, he acts like he’s got a chip on his shoulder. Thinks he’s better than us,” Mason volunteered.

    “I suspect there is more to it than that. People who act superior tend to do so because deep down they feel inferior and it frustrates them and makes them feel angry and ashamed of themselves. They act out by rejecting and bullying others before others are given the chance to reject them. Human nature. It doesn’t help them feel any better, it just is how they vent. The sad thing is, what they desire most is acceptance and validation, true friendship, but their actions just drive people away.”

    Mason nodded, more to himself than to me and we continued onward as he mulled that over.

    We walked for some time, the image in the distance growing sharper, and some noise issuing from its general direction.

    “Where do you think that other Moon Sprite is?” Mason asked.

    “I dunno,” I shrugged, scanning the surface of the ice for any indication.

    “Do you think it might be under us?”

    I noticed Mason’s voice getting slightly higher, a tell-tale indication that fear threatened to make him regret making this trek with me.

    “If this ice is thick enough for us to walk on, that means it will be harder for anything underneath to break through it without a very hard head and some fairly good momentum.”

    “Could there be more than just the five?”

    “That possibility has crossed my mind.”

    Mason was silent and growing more and more uneasy. After a few yards more, Mason asked, “Why do you think, Maeven wanted us to bring that log?”

    I had a feeling I knew why but was reluctant to tell Mason about it because I could sense he was already very nervous about what we had been through putting down the Moon Sprites and what might be ahead of us with the “last” one. I was especially reluctant, after his prior question, but I sensed that if I answered evasively, I would miss the opportunity to further gain his trust. So, I answered honestly.

    “I believe the log is related to why Maeven was so desperate for me not to try to pick up the pearl just yet.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Think about it. The lake flash froze the very second the pearl rolled down and touched the water.”

    I let that implication linger.

    “So, if you pick it up…?”

    “Yeah.”

    “And the log?”

    “Flotation in case we found ourselves in the middle of the lake and had trouble swimming back to shore.”

    “And if there were more than five…” he paused, the implication dawning on him.

    Coupled with the admission before that he couldn’t swim, it seemed that Mason had risked the most coming out onto the lake with us, which made his following me now much more of a sign of faith and courage than I had had time to consider.

    “You’re a brave young man, Mason. You know that?”

    Mason nodded as if he had not heard a word I said but was just responding as if he had.

    “Right now, I am feeling pretty stupid too. I came out to help, but I can’t swim, and I can’t help remembering…” He turned to me, “In the Surface World, did you ever see the movie Jaws? That part at the end where the two men were floating back to shore hanging onto the yellow plastic barrels after the great white shark had sunk their boat?”

    “Yeah, long ago. That movie was made before you were born. When did you see it?”

    “Oh, it was on television one day. My friends and I watched it eating bags of chips and salsa, pretending we were sharks. Stuff kids do, y’know?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Well, I always thought that movie would have ended better if suddenly a large fin would have surface behind the two men as they were joking and talking while floating back to the shore. That the shark they thought they’d killed wasn’t dead after all. Then let the scene go black to leave people wondering. That thought gave me nightmares later, and I was never able to forget it. That is about how I feel now about floating on that log back to shore.”

    “Now you’ve got me rattled, thanks Kiddo!”

    I saw him smile, and I knew he was going to be fine. We’d shared something–a certain honest vulnerability–and somehow, I knew that the trust between us had deepened. I hadn’t teased him. I’d listened to him with no judgment and no shame in the weakness and fear he felt comfortable enough to share with me in confidence, and out of that gratitude built a bridge between us. I saw resolve firm up his jaw, and his eyes narrow as he faced the distant figure ahead and the angry fanged mouth of the frozen falls beyond. Mason had owned his fears and was even now preparing to face them head-on. What a remarkable young man, I thought to myself.

    The slumped figure was indeed Will. He lay curled in smears and streaks of silver. He had passed out.

    The shimmer and sheen of the metallic ribbons and spatter caused his cloak to glisten, but the bare skin of his body did not appear, at first, to be exposed to the substance. His head was cowled with his cloak, so his face was partially protected from smears on the ice, but this ankle had been bared and silver blood had spattered his skin crippling him. His spear lay on the ice, its throwing thong straps twisted. It appeared that the Moon Sprite had escaped its hold in the ice and that Will had landed his shot, had followed in pursuit, but had been dragged several feet before the spear became dislodged. The point of the spear was engorged in silver as was the shaft, and the Giant Pearl was even now in the process of siphoning up the blood, moving in sweeping passes with a fury.

    The smeared path extended in a zig-zagging fashion ahead towards the teeth of the Falls. A frothy low fog enveloped the signs of its passage a mere twenty feet ahead, but there was no doubt in my mind. The fifth Moon Sprite was still alive and waiting for us just ahead.

    Brian Stansell (aka O'Brian of the Surface World)
    I was born in war.
    Fighting from my first breath.

    #136788
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @devastate-lasting

    Thank you so much for listening to it! Thanks for your feedback, as well.

    You’re welcome! I really enjoyed listening to it.

    Yeah, character voice is not one of my strong points. Also probably because I didn’t do any character development beforehand and wrote this beginning on a whim from an image in my mind. I’ll definitely work on those points, though!

    Well, in that case, you did exceptionally well! I really liked it, I can’t wait to see where it goes! <3

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #136810

    @rose-colored-fancy

    I read Faye – it is wonderful. I love the character introductions; all have their quirks yet they interact nicely.

    1. Intriging:

    With that, Juni finally sat. Her moment of glory was over.

    I loved that her moment was to deliver ‘big news’ as opposed to the news itself.

    2. Mood:

    [[A warm brown with sparks of colour that nestled in snug & comfortable.]]

    3. Characters I’d like to know more about:

    All of them? Mostly Faye (what is her role in the family), the twins (they seem an interesting pair, I love the individuality of them so far – I also want to see how close they are (or aren’t)), and Juni (she’s just a ball of fun).

    4. Empathy towards:

    Faye? I get the feeling she is an older sibling… I am eldest of 5, so yeah, I can relate to bunch of kids coming in all wanting to steal the spotlight.

    5. What I’d like more developed:

    I quite liked it. But am unsure how Faye relates to all the family members.

    6. Dialogue:

    I have struggled with multiple characters being introduced at once, and I think you have done wonderfully.

    8. Want to read more scenes?

    Yes! Loved the characters (as said above), but also the hints of an isolated environment that may not stay that way ??

    9. Not belong:

    I wasn’t sure who Isa was- I thought she might be Raisa’s nickname at first.

    10. Favourite:

    Besides, you fixed it last time.

    Sage interjected, purely for the sake of aggravating Juni.

    Both interactions were very realistic in a family setting, lol. Nostalgia feels to when I was living with my siblings & parents.

    11. Any changes:

    I want to know where Faye fits in the family (but that may be in other scenes, which probs works fine~)

    Was Isa already in the house with Faye?

    12. Wouldn’t have noticed if only read it and not listened:

    Hearing it is nice, being able to pick up on the emphasis of words better.

     

    Super job 🙂 It’s a nice scene and it was lovely to hear it too!

    #136811
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @bclarke

    Hi Bronte! Thanks for listening and thanks for your feedback, it really helps!

    Oh, man, I didn’t realize how vague I was. I didn’t indicate their birth order at all *Facepalm*

    In hindsight, this scene would have worked way better if I recorded Faye’s introduction chapter first. It’s also where Isa is introduced. Oh, well.

    Faye? I get the feeling she is an older sibling… I am eldest of 5, so yeah, I can relate to bunch of kids coming in all wanting to steal the spotlight.

    Isa is actually the oldest. The birth order is Isa, Raisa, Juni, Faye, Sage and Lev, and Yoni is the youngest. So Faye is right in the middle, but she’s very shy, especially at the start of the book, so I think that’s why she reads as older. And yes, she does tend to disappear, especially amongst her more extroverted siblings *Cough* Juni *cough* XD

    Both interactions were very realistic in a family setting, lol. Nostalgia feels to when I was living with my siblings & parents.

    LOL, those interactions were totally not drawn from real life. Never! XD

    I want to know where Faye fits in the family (but that may be in other scenes, which probs works fine~)

    Was Isa already in the house with Faye?

    You’re absolutely right, I do think I should have cleared that up.

    Yes, she was. I explained that more in a previous chapter. (Again, this scene would have worked better in order.)

    Thank you again! The critique helped a lot! <3

     

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #136812

    @rose-colored-fancy

    I had a feeling Isa was older than Faye. Sometimes birth order doesn’t need to be specifically introduced (or at least not all at once). And I wasn’t sure what had been introduced in an earlier scene (if Isa is in the previous scene, then it all makes sense).

    So Faye is right in the middle, but she’s very shy, especially at the start of the book, so I think that’s why she reads as older. And yes, she does tend to disappear, especially amongst her more extroverted siblings *Cough* Juni *cough* XD

    Ah ~ nice. Starting to get that at the end when she goes off to check their cow.

     

    XD

    #136821
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @bclarke

    I had a feeling Isa was older than Faye. Sometimes birth order doesn’t need to be specifically introduced (or at least not all at once). And I wasn’t sure what had been introduced in an earlier scene (if Isa is in the previous scene, then it all makes sense).

    You’re totally right. I can’t quite remember how clear I was about it, (I wrote it a long time ago) and I do need to go back and check.

    Ah ~ nice. Starting to get that at the end when she goes off to check their cow.

    Exactly! In fact, I’m not exaggerating if I say that that cow is the catalyst for the entire plot XD

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #136845
    Brian Stansell
    @obrian-of-the-surface-world

    Okay,…so, I kinda…sorta…perhaps, cheated a little with my prior post.

    But someone wanted to see some dramatic action and swords, so I took the only recording I had of an advanced chapter, done by the computer voice.

    I have part of the story in my own voice, but all of the other advanced chapters recorded for the full first two books recorded by the dispassionate Google reader, who never takes a breath.
    Recording an entire audio book takes time, and my editor hat is on…but it is crooked.

    Brian Stansell (aka O'Brian of the Surface World)
    I was born in war.
    Fighting from my first breath.

    #136957
    Cathy
    @this-is-not-an-alien

    I’M BACK HERE I AM AND I BROUGHT…a pathetically short not-prologue that was incredibly fun to make XD
    But I’ve figured out how to record!! And this week my grandparents are babysitting us so if I live I’ll have the first chapter. It’s not exactly a prologue as much as a between-chapters thing that keeps the tension going while explaining things I couldn’t fit in the actual narrative as smoothly. I like to call it the tweenlogue! …because it’s…between…everything…
    Ok that sounded wittier in my head
    Oh can I invite @kimlikesart!
    Anyway, the actual work. Like uh, Burn Chronicles Book 1: prologue 1

    heheh…how do you make a link to a audio you haven’t posted anywhere…😂

    To be a light to the world you must shine in the darkness.

    #136970
    Brian Stansell
    @obrian-of-the-surface-world

    @this-is-not-an-alien

    Hi Cathy,

    Absolutely, invite anyone. This is open to all. The more the merrier! 🙂
    So, the way we typically do it is to upload the audio file to a folder on Google Docs.  Once the file has been uploaded, then right-click on the file and select the “Anyone with the link” setting on the pop-up menu.  Then copy the link.

    This is what you will paste into the Forum chat form here.

    Does that help?

    Brian Stansell (aka O'Brian of the Surface World)
    I was born in war.
    Fighting from my first breath.

    #136986
    Cathy
    @this-is-not-an-alien

    @obrian-of-the-surface-world
    Oh that’s great!
    …but I not supposed to…have a Google Doc account…house rule…🥺
    XDD

    To be a light to the world you must shine in the darkness.

    #136988
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @this-is-not-an-alien

    Hey Cathy! If you can’t find another way you can email me the file and I can upload it via my Google Docs! It should be easy!

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

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