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Scavenger - 1.1



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Sat Oct 04, 2008 10:55 pm
Twit says...



One

The wind whimpered down Londlow’s narrow cobbled streets. It caught at the thatched and tiled roofs of the houses, rippled the surface of a new puddle in the gutter and nipped the noses of the three small boys standing at the head of the queue outside the printer’s shop. Behind the boys, listening to their talk and sudden loud laughter, Gilbert dug his hands into his coat pockets and wished that he had a better scarf than the darned and faded blue one wound around his neck. The wind lifted a corner of the poster that was tacked unevenly across the shop window. It looked at odds with the sign that hung above the shop door: Eldon Kennard, Printer.

The garishly illustrated poster was what had attracted Gilbert’s attention in the first place. It showed a creature that seemed to be a mix between a bird, a dog and a human. It was covered in dark fur, had dark wings and was crouched on all fours. Above the picture were the words, ‘The Raven – the Only Hybrid in Anglisca. Half-An-Elf and Half-A-Human,’ painted in slightly smeared, thick red letters. Written in smaller, clearer letters underneath was, ‘Admission sixpence, private viewing one shilling.’

Gilbert’s cold fingers touched the sixpence in his pocket. It had seemed a ridiculous amount to pay – almost two hour’s wages – but so many people had brought back lurid reports of the new freak that he had felt that he had to come. Thewlis Carter had seen it, and Perkin had taken his girl as well. The girl, so Perkin said, had screamed and almost fainted, and had to be revived by the printer’s wife who tutted and made remarks about ‘that unnatural creature’ that was being shown in her husband’s back room.

Gilbert had heard the stories about hybrids of course, like everyone else. Hybrids ate their children and walked on all fours. They were mad and hideous to look at (‘It scared ’er into ’ysterics, it did,’ Perkin had said. ‘It were that ugly an’ all.’). Elves were strange enough, but an Elven-human hybrid had never been seen before in Londlow – or the whole country of Anglisca, for that matter.

Gilbert looked back at the rest of the queue. He thought that there were about six people there; a roughly-dressed young man with a young woman beside him, two middle-aged gentlemen and right at the very end, a little old woman in a dirty, patched dark dress, crooked bonnet and a grey shawl. Gilbert wondered why she had come. Freak shows didn’t seem the place for old women without escorts this late in the evening.

The shop door opened and the previous lot of viewers streamed out. Some of them were pale, some looked sad, others disgusted. One young woman had her hand over her mouth, silent tears dribbling down her cheeks. A man stood in the doorway ushering them out; he cupped his hands around his mouth and bellowed, ‘Last viewing! Last chance to see the Raven, the Only Hybrid In Anglisca!’ Gilbert could hear the capitals. ‘Last chance to see the only hybrid that’ll ever be in Anglisca! Half-An-Elf and Half-A-Human! Last chance! Only sixpence! Moving on tomorrow, never to be seen again hybrid!’

There was a pause. The showman counted the queue, his eyes bright in a face flushed with shouting. ‘Seven, eight, nine… All right, we’ll squeeze you all in as one group. Come in.’

The small boys in front of Gilbert darted forward but the showman collared one and demanded, ‘Money?’

Scowling, the boys handed over their money and the man smiled graciously. Gilbert gave him his sixpence and stepped into the shop. It was small and plain with a counter at one end and some framed samples of the printer’s work on the walls: ‘And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.’ ‘Time stops for no man.’ The whole of the Ten Commandments done in curling black script with decorated capitals.

The showman led the little group through the door behind the counter. Gilbert wondered where the printer was. Beyond the door was the back room. It was completely bare with a dark red curtain strung across the width of the room. Another man sat on a stool in one corner, a tin whistle held loosely between his thin fingers. His pale eyes flickered over the group like an insect skittering over water.

The showman took up a stance in front of the curtain, one arm raised as though for silence, even though no one was talking. He paused. Then –

‘When we think that the world is within our grasp, that we know all – only then do we realize just how little we do know.’ He said the words like a song, pausing on certain syllables, caressing others, drawing them out long and low. ‘As human beings, we know the difference between good and evil. We can realize truth and lies. We are masters over nature. The fear of man hunts every living thing, governs their every action, their every instinct, every little detail of their lives. Even the Elves, who understand the thoughts of animals and control the air – even they are in awe of mankind.’

The musician in the corner blew softly into his whistle, creating three long, high, humming notes. Gilbert ran the tip of his tongue over his lips.

‘But the hybrids?’ The showman spread his hands wide, slowly shook his head. ‘They have no place. Nature refuses to accept them, rejects them from the clockwork of her order. So they stay in Carathara, the land south over the seas, where they live in complete isolation. No one goes there, no one leaves there. There they live in the disgusting, horrific monotony that passes for their existence. Now… behold the only hybrid ever to set foot in Anglisca, the only hybrid you’ll ever see. Behold… the Raven.’ He flung the curtain aside.

The small boys went, ‘Oooh!’

The gentlemen frowned, and one muttered something to the other.

The young woman’s hand tightened on the arm of the man beside her.

The old woman huddled down deeper inside her shawl, as though she were cold.

Gilbert, after the first automatic and expected shock, felt disappointed. More than that, he felt cheated.

The creature standing before him looked nothing like the animal on the poster outside. It had no fur, no wings, no vicious rabid eyes. If he didn’t know, Gilbert might have taken it for any other human child. It was very small and skinny, with oddly jointed limbs that made its knees and elbows stick out at the sides. Its skin was blotched brown with, Gilbert assumed, some type of dye, and it had blue painted tattoos curling in strange, smudged designs over its skin. A dark feather was tied into its short, fine black hair, with more feathers tied around its wrists and ankles. It wore a stiff brown leather waistcoat and short, tight trousers. A leather collar was fastened around its long, thin neck.

Gilbert felt the absence of his sixpence in his pocket and wondered angrily whether they really had cheated all of Londlow and passed off a mere human child in strange clothes as a fantastic, outlandish hybrid.

‘Turn!’ the showman ordered, and the creature began to turn slowly, so that the crowd could see it from all angles. Gilbert shifted a little closer, and the creature, instead of staring straight ahead as it had been doing, flicked its gaze up and for one moment stared right into his eyes.

It was only for a moment and the hybrid looked away almost immediately, but in that one second, all of Gilbert’s ideas about cheating showmen and fake freaks vanished abruptly. No human child could ever have eyes like that, could ever have such an animalistic, abnormal face. The hybrid’s yellow eyes – wide and slit-pupiled – were outlined in dark eye-paint and seemed huge in its clear, pointed little face.

‘Down!’ As it dropped down onto all fours, the showman began his commentary again. ‘See, ladies and gentlemen, the way that the Raven is made. Arms and legs all the same length. Pointed ears, a sure sign of her Elven blood.’

The small boys had got over their initial awe and now began pushing slyly forward, grubby fingers outstretched, but the showman rapped out, ‘Keep back! She may look tamed, but you don’t want to take any chances.’

They retreated, half sulky, half wary, and he turned his attention back to the hybrid. ‘Stand up!’

It rose and turned around once more. The showman spread his arms wide, as though he were embracing the audience, inviting them to share his secret. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. This freak, this abomination against nature. See her. Imagine her back in Carathara, living the normal life of a hybrid. Cannibalism. Bestiality. Inbreeding. Murder. That is the pitiful excuse of an existence that hybrids have. They have no dignified thought, no concept of right or wrong. They are animals, living only for their own desires with no feeling or empathy for their fellow creatures. Fear them, ladies and gentlemen, fear the Raven. Boys and girls, be wary. This isn’t like the bogey stories your parents used to tell you to make you behave; this, my friends, this is the real thing. A very real danger. A horror. A freak. A hybrid.’

‘Hey, mister,’ the young man called out. He shot a sideways glance at the girl on his arm, as though he hoped she were noticing this. ‘Does it ’ave the Sense, like what the Elves’ve got?’

‘Ah.’ The showman nodded gravely. ‘Every Elf has the Sense, true. But hybrids are different. For some, their Elven blood runs strong and thick, and for others it has been watered down by generations of inbreeding. For some direct crosses, the human blood is strongest and there is no Sense. But for others…’ He turned his hand and unfurled his fingers as though he were offering the young man a gift. ‘For others, the Elven blood pounds hard through their veins, bringing with it the power of air, the awareness of nature, and above all… the Sense. The Sense that allows them to read other’s thoughts, to feel life and living movement, to feel the emotions and moods of the people around them. To bond with another living creature – a Sense-familiar – to share souls and minds and thoughts and feelings in a way that we can only dream of. The Sense, ladies and gentlemen, one of the greatest natural wonders.’

‘But ’as it got it?’ the young man demanded, not very impressed.

Annoyed by his irreverent manner, the showman gave him a patronising glance. ‘Of course it has, my dear boy. Just because the Raven has no Sense-familiar doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have the thing itself. She just doesn’t show it, that’s all.’

The musician in the corner piped those same three notes again, let them slither out of his whistle and writhe into the air in snakes of sound. The showman clapped his hands and bowed extravagantly. ‘And that’s it, ladies and gentlemen, all you get for your money, all you get for sixpence, and I think you’ll all agree ’twas money well spent.’

Gilbert blinked, slightly dazed by the abrupt ending, but the rest of the group were already shuffling towards the door. The boys lingered until the showman put a firm hand on the leader’s shoulder and almost shoved him out. At the door, Gilbert paused, looked back past over the gentlemen’s feathered hats.

The hybrid had crouched down again on all fours, its long, thin fingers wide-splayed on the cold boarded floor, watching the viewers leave through those huge, blank eyes.

‘Move along there, young man,’ the gentlemen grumbled, pushing past, and Gilbert went through into the front room and out into the street. The wind descended with a gleeful whoop, and turning up his collar, he hurried away down the street.

* * *

Quennel shut the door, smiling. ‘Now that, Morley,’ he said, ‘was a good day.’

Morley looked up at him, then down, his pale eyelashes flicking like dragonfly wings.

‘Almost fifteen shillings in all.’ Quennel stuffed his hands into the pockets of his coarse homespun trousers, his fingers bumping against the coins in his pocket.

‘Maybe we should stay here in Londlow, then,’ Morley said. ‘Carry on while we’re doing well.’

‘When we’re doing well is the right time to leave. Keeps the people wanting, makes ’em eager when we come back.’

‘But Selseaton’s days away. The Raven might not travel well. It'll get sick in the cart.’

‘It will travel well,’ Quennel said calmly, ‘because I sez it will. Selseaton being the capital and all – the money we’ve made here’s nothing compared to what we’ll get there.’

Morley shrugged and wiped the mouthpiece of his whistle. The Raven swayed from side to side on her hands and feet, like a spider in its web. Quennel came and stood behind her, looking down. ‘Good little Raven,’ he said. His hand patted her head, then stroked the side of her face.

The Raven whipped her head around and hissed at him, baring her tiny, pointed teeth in feral snarl. He only laughed. ‘I don’t care how much you hate me, Raven. I’m the only one who keeps you alive.’

‘My gratitude makes me lie awake at night,’ the Raven said.

He smiled. ‘You’re a freak. An animal that just happens to have the ability to be sarcastic. I can accept that, but out there,’ – he waved a hand towards the door – ‘how many people out there would let you think even one thought of your own?’

‘None of them.’ The Raven’s voice was flat, reciting the words – the facts – that Quennel had hammered into her head from the moment she had entered his possession. ‘No one would let me do anything. No one would care if I starved to death in front of them. People would kill me. They fear me. I shock them. I’m a freak, a hybrid, a slave, a mistake. I’m yours. I am the Raven, the only hybrid out of Carathara.’

‘Good little hybrid.’ Quennel pinched the top of her ear gently, and this time she let him.

---

If this seems like the other chapter one, it's because it's like the other chapter one. Is the Sense thingy too confusing? Does third person work? Impressions of the Raven?
Last edited by Twit on Sat Dec 27, 2008 10:48 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Sun Oct 05, 2008 7:33 am
DSF says...



Wow... I actually really liked it. The whole thing was well written, very interesting, and kept my attention, I am very impressed!

His pale eyes flickered over the group like an insect skittering over water.


I loved this description so much I just had to tell you!

So they live in Carathara, the land south over the seas, where they live in complete isolation


Just a bit repetitive, maybe use something besides live twice, like dwell or something. A small thing but it would help it to flow a little smoother.

It had no fur, no wings, no vicious rabid eyes. If he didn’t know, Gilbert might have taken it for any other human child.It was very small and skinny, with oddly jointed limbs that made its knees and elbows stick out. Its skin was blotched brown with, Gilbert assumed, some type of dye and it had blue painted tattoos curling in strange, smudged designs over its skin. It had a dark feather tied into its short, fine black hair, and more feathers tied around its wrists and ankles. It wore a stiff brown leather waistcoat and short, tight trousers.


Okay you need to come up with some other word to describe the Raven here then “It” or “Its”. I know you may be trying to show that it is only a creature of sorts but you use the word so many times it gets redundant and very distracting, especially since all but one sentence in this paragraph starts with “It”.

I liked the overall flow and style of this, it went really well. And for me the Sense didn’t confuse me, it only intrigued me to want to hear more about what it is. I liked Raven, though I won’t lie when I say that I wish she was a little more freakish in nature. Your description of her was great and interesting, I honestly can’t wait to read more! Also in the last bit of this you kept saying “The Raven”, don’t know why you couldn’t just say “Raven”, so I thought I would point that out unless you meant to do it on purpose.


Anyway great job, hope you come out with some more for it!





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Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:33 am
PenguinAttack says...



Twittertops!

Long time no chat, I think I’ll be brief on this, because it’s very well organised, this piece.

On the Sense – very well done, it was well explained and didn’t look like an info dump, you’ve been able to give us a lot more information that right, haha, through this rather fantastic chapter. You’ve certainly got it down, spreading the information to make it look natural.

Third person does work, quite well. I’d not change that were I you. I like your use of Gilbert, he’s a good medium for the information and a good character already, he’s quirky and interesting. I think that one line, “Gilbert, after the first automatic, expected shock, felt disappointed. More than that, he felt cheated.” Is spectacular here, it summed it up very well.

The Raven… very interesting. You’ve done well to write her so subtly. The combination of Gilbert and the Raven together makes for an interesting read. I adore that she is versed in sarcasm, and she does evoke a good feeling of sympathy and sadness. I also love your description of her, of her physical body and the way she moves. It’s lovely.

Actually, Morley intrigues me most of all. There’s something in your description of him, and the manner by which he speaks that draws me to him. Very nicely done.

All in all, this is very nice. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more constructive. Please tell me when you write more, I’m interested. ^^

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Thu Oct 09, 2008 3:48 pm
gyrfalcon says...



WHAT!!!! *goes into meltdown* Butbutbutbut...where? Where's the other one gone! *whimpers*
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Sat Oct 11, 2008 3:13 pm
happy-go-lucky says...



Oooh! I'm hooked! I really enjoyed this piece, the way you described it all seemed so realistic - especially love the characterisations!

Ok! On with the review:

First of all I'd give the readers a hint to how old Gilbert is because at first you describe him as a "boy" but go on to say that it's quite late at night. I just got a bit confused there that's all.

Whished


this should be wished.

They were mad and hideous to look at (‘It scared ’er into ’ysterics, it did,’ Guthfrith had said. ‘It were that ugly an’ all. ’Orrible.’)


Take the speech out of the brackets, maybe add it in with a memory of Guthfrith saying it? This is too good a piece of characterisation to put in brackets it gives the reader an indication of his character and putting it in brackets makes it seem less important.

youngish woman


This might be me being picky BUT the phrase "youngish" sounds a bit too modern when put with the rest of the story. I'd keep it as "young" personally.

Gilbert, after the first automatic, expected shock, felt disappointed. More than that, he felt cheated.


A twist! I wasn't expecting him to be disappointed, i thought he'd be either sickened or amazed :D

She look tamed


Add "may" in between she and look otherwise it doesn't make sense.


Hope my nitpicks have been helpful!
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Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:00 am
JessicaB says...



Really descriptive! I like that a lot.
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Thu Oct 16, 2008 6:21 am
Clo says...



Here is I to saaave the daaaay! :lol: Wow, you've got a nice long story here. Let me get on this review!

The wind lifted a corner of the poster that was tacked unevenly across the shop window. It looked at odds with the sign that hung above the shop door: Eldon Kennard, Printer.

First off, lovely introduction. I love the tone you're using - all of your word choice and even name choice fits together in a way that's almost charming, though I'm not sure if I want to use that word... anyway, it's a very charming (yeah!) beginning.
As for this bit, I feel like this should be a new paragraph, separate from the first one. You mention the boys, and then you go back to the shop, which you had only briefly mentioned before. So I'm thinking new paragraph.

Eek, I am totally in love with your diction here. :)

that he [s]had[/s] almost felt that he had had to go.

He had... he had had to go... this is sure a lot of hads. Nix at least the first one.

and had to be revived by the printer’s wife who [s]had[/s] tutted and made remarks about ‘that unnatural creation’ that was being shown in her husband’s back room.

Here it is, too. I just think the hads disrupt the flow, when they are scattered too frequently throughout a sentence...nix the one I striked.

Some of them were pale, some looked sad, other disgusted

"others disgusted"

The showman's introduction of the hybrid is wonderful, I love the wording.

Gilbert felt the absence of his sixpence in his pocket and wondered angrily whether they really had cheated all of Londlow and passed off a mere human child in strange clothes as a fantastic, outlandish hybrid.

I'm totally intrigued and shocked right now! Is it really just a kid? Aw! This story has my attention, definitely.

Ooh! First off, I don't think the Sense thingy is confusing. I think you explained it well, and I'm intrigued to the point where I will keep reading to find it applied to life scenarios, and how this boy will experience it, or how the Raven experiences it. I like the Third Person as well, I think it works best - I wouldn't want to see a rewrite in first. Eh. Don't think it would work as well. And as for the Raven - I'm fascinated! I love her! I want to know more.

I hope you post more, or have more up - I love this! PM me when you have more. You're fantastic!

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Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:42 pm
jasmine12 says...



Hello! I finally made it. Sorry it took me so long. Lets get started.

but so many people had brought back lurid reports of the new freak that he had almost felt that he had had to go.

I think there was a bit of a mix up here. I dont think you meant to say 'had' twice.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
The girl, so Guthfrith said, had screamed and almost fainted, and had to be revived by the printer’s wife who had tutted and made remarks about ‘that unnatural creation’ that was being shown in her husband’s back room.

This is a run on. Try rewording and splitting it up.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
(‘It scared ’er into ’ysterics, it did,’ Guthfrith had said. ‘It were that ugly an’ all. ’Orrible.’)

I'd put this into italics instead of the '()'
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Those are the only mistakes I could find.



Wow!
This was very well writen. And the discritions were amazing. I felt like I was actually there, standing next to the boy.
My opinion of The Raven is that you made it as realistic as an Elven can be. You made it seem like she could either be real, or fake. Which is what the freak shows are all about. Great job.
It flowed perfectly. And the dialog was believeable. I liked how you actually wrote the way they'd speak it. That was cool.
I have no negative comments about this, I really enjoyed reading it.
Keep up the good work.
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Wed Oct 29, 2008 7:53 pm
Fellow says...



Even with a broken arm I`m here to review *mouse gliding under the gyps*. :!:
I was so interested by the math hour that I had time to read this part and I must admit : Its amazingly written. I`ll just make some slight changes, give you some examples of what you can add or cut. My adds will be with bold ,my comments written in italic and the personal comments with underline .

Behind the boys, listening to their talk and sudden loud laughter, Gilbert dug his hands into his coat pockets and wished he had a better scarf than the darned and faded blue one wound around his neck. The coldness of the wind permeated through his [....] clothes and filled his eagerness to move, to warm up. The wind lifted a corner of the poster that was tacked unevenly across the shop window. [s] It looked at odds with the [/s] A sharp creak broke the flow of his warm dream and made him look at the sign that hung above the shop door: Eldon Kennard, Printer.


- To tell you what I did: The coldness of the wind permeated through his [....] clothes and filled his eagerness to move, to warm up. - You must explain why he wished he had a better scarf. It tells the reader a little idea of the weather there and makes him/her see more of that image.
- A sharp creak broke the flow of his warm dream and made him look at the sign - The part that i stroked, if i may say so, it's hard to imagine. Makes the reader to read it and not actually see it.
- What i wrote it's not a "must do", but for the style i suggest you changed them and write them as you want. I gave you an idea of what you must write there.

Gilbert [s]’s cold fingers [/s] touched the sixpence in his pocket almost losing it because of his cold fingers.


- When your hands are cold, when you are cold your hands lose the sense feel, and your fingers freeze. So your character shouldn't be able to completely feel the pence.
-Again you write as you wish.

Elves were strange enough, but an Elven-human hybrid had never been seen before in Londlow – or the whole of Anglisca, for that matter.


- We have no idea what the Elves look like. We know the humans ("Really, Sherlock? Didn't notice that.") but you should describe those blokes. Related to the poster on the window - if you describe them we could tell what parts belong to the elves and what parts belong to humans.

A man stood in the doorway ushering them out; he cupped his hands around his mouth and bellowed,

- As this character (showman) will show up very frequently in the following part of the story I suggest you describe him little by little every time Gilbert sees him or every time he speaks.
- If you want you could leave it as it is.

His hand patted her head, then stroked the side of her face.
The Raven whipped her head around and hissed at him, baring her tiny, pointed teeth in feral snarl. Her rage flamed in her soul as she saw his sordid,foul smile.


- The thing i changed it's about style.

*******
That's all. Hope it helps. Luck!

-Akayl
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Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:29 am
Nutty says...



Well, I'm here, as promised, and wow...
I'm not sure I can really be of much help!
This is great. Your descriptions are fluid, not forced, which made it a real pleasure to read. The sense thing wasn't too confusing, at this stage the reader doesn't know too much about it, but what information is given, it is clear.

The scene change was initially a little disorientating, maybe you should indicate that Quennel is the showman before going in and just naming him. It only took me a line or two to get who he was, but it the changeover could possibly be refined slightly, no big deal.

What interests me about this so far is the fact it has elves, but seems to be set in a slightly later period then most, with posters, printers, showmen and cockney accents. It works well, and puts a new twist on the Elven/human relationship. I look forward to seeing how this develops out.

The dialogue was natural and easy, though "(‘It scared ’er into ’ysterics, it did,’ Guthfrith had said. ‘It were that ugly an’ all. ’Orrible.’" seems a little overdone. It reminds me of cockney, but too many shortened words in a row becomes uncomfortable to read.

The main character seems believable, though at this stage I don't know enough about him to make a true judgment on his character. I guess I shall see when I critique the next two.

The Raven was done well, and the master/slave thing was pulled off nicely. I would like to see her character develop, but we've only just met her, so again, I can't really judge much on who she is.

Overall, a very well written piece. If I picked this up in a library, I would keep reading. Great job ^^
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Sun Nov 02, 2008 11:11 am
olivia1987uk says...



I'm a bit behind the times here as I've been away because it was my 21st birthday! Woo! Happy birthday me!

You've hd some excellent reviews. Very thorough and concise so i hope you take this to heart as this is a really good piece. I'm going to have look at the other pieces you gave me links to now!
Olivia
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Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:41 am
Rubric says...



Third person is working a charm. The info-dump on the Sense was subtle enough, and clear (though hopefully there'll be an elaboration at some point).

You've done the initial description for Raven (an essential) really well, and I enjoyed the varied reactions, especially that of Gilbert.

There really isn't much else to say that hasn't been said (which is why I kept myself to personal responses to the questions you asked.)

I enjoy the alt-earth feel of the piece and am looking forward to how it progresses.
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Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:34 pm
Rascalover says...



Wow such talent
Your descriptions are acurate and percise, not lengthy and boring. Gilberts reaction is almost unfathomable (is that a word ahah) its so weird as you describe the hybird as being almost fake through Gilberts eye's until they have that eye on eye contact. Breathless. Awesome jump can't wait to read what's more.
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Sun Nov 30, 2008 12:49 am
Avens Dolor says...



One

The wind whimpered down Londlow’s narrow cobbled streets. It caught at the thatched or tiled roofs of the houses, rippled the surface of a new puddle in the gutter and nipped the noses of the three small boys standing at the head of the queue outside the printer’s shop. Something about this last sentence bothers me. Maybe you could make it more concise? It isn't bad, but I think that you could do better. Behind the boys, listening to their talk and sudden loud laughter, Gilbert dug his hands into his coat pockets and wished that he had a better scarf than the darned and faded blue one wound around his neck. The wind lifted a corner of the poster that was tacked unevenly across the shop window. It looked at odds with the sign that hung above the shop door: Eldon Kennard, Printer.

The poster – garishly illustrated and melodramatic – was what had attracted Gilbert’s attention in the first place. It showed a creature that seemed to be a mix between a bird, a dog and a human. It was covered in dark fur, had dark wings and was crouched on all fours. Above the picture were the words, ‘The Raven – the Only Hybrid in Anglisca. Half-An-Elf and Half-A-Human,’ painted in slightly smeared, thick red letters. Written in smaller, clearer letters underneath was, ’Admission sixpence, private viewing one shilling.’ So much passive voice!

Gilbert’s cold fingers touched the sixpence in his pocket. It had seemed a ridiculous amount to pay – almost two hour’s wages – but so many people had brought back lurid reports of the new freak that he had almost felt that he had to come. He didn't "almost" feel that he had to come if he did, in fact, come. Thewlis Carter had seen it, and Guthfrith had taken his girl as well. The girl, so Guthfrith said, had screamed and almost fainted, and had to be revived by the printer’s wife who tutted and made remarks about ‘that unnatural creation’ that was being shown in her husband’s back room.

Gilbert had heard the stories about hybrids of course, like everyone else. Hybrids ate their children and walked on all fours. They were mad and hideous to look at (‘It scared ’er into ’ysterics, it did,’ Guthfrith had said. ‘It were that ugly an’ all. ’Orrible.’) Elves were strange enough, but an Elven-human hybrid had never been seen before in Londlow – or the whole of Anglisca Province? Country? Continent? Sneak in the answer to clarify for readers., for that matter.

Gilbert looked back at the rest of the queue. He thought that there were about six people there; a roughly-dressed young man with a young woman beside him, two middle-aged gentlemen and right at the very end, a little old woman in a dirty, patched dark dress, crooked bonnet and a grey shawl. Gilbert wondered why she had come. Freak shows didn’t seem the place for old women without escorts this late in the evening.

The shop door opened and the previous lot of viewers streamed out. Some of them were pale, some looked sad, others disgusted. One young woman had her hand over her mouth, silent tears dribbling down her cheeks. A man stood in the doorway ushering them out; he cupped his hands around his mouth and bellowed, ‘Last viewing! Last chance to see the Raven, the Only Hybrid In Anglisca!’ Gilbert could hear the capitals. ‘Last chance to see the only hybrid that’ll ever be in Anglisca! Although I understand he's trying to pull crowds, this seems like a rather sweeping statement. It also suggests that they will never come back through, which I doubt is the case. Small nitpick, but drew my attention nonetheless. Half-An-Elf and Half-A-Human! Last chance! Only sixpence! Moving on tomorrow, never to be seen again hybrid!’

There was a pause. The showman counted the queue, his eyes bright in a face flushed with shouting. ‘Seven, eight, nine… All right, we’ll squeeze you all strike the "all" in as one group. Come in.’

The small boys in front of Gilbert darted forward but the showman collared one and demanded, ‘Money?’

Scowling, the boys handed over their money and the man smiled graciously. Gilbert gave him his sixpence and stepped into the shop. It was small and plain with a counter at one end and some framed samples of the printer’s work on the walls: ‘And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.’ ‘Time stops for no man.’ The whole of the Ten Commandments done in curling black script with decorated capitals. I find it odd that this totally different world has the same religions as ours.

The showman led the little group through the door behind the counter; Gilbert wondered where the printer was. Beyond the door was the back room. It was completely bare with a dark red curtain strung across the width of the room. Another man sat on a stool in one corner, a tin whistle held loosely between his thin fingers. His pale eyes flickered over the group like an insect skittering over water. I don't personally like this simile very much...

The showman took up a stance in front of the curtain, one arm raised as though for silence, even though no one was talking. He paused. Then –

‘When we think that the world is within our grasp, that we know all – only then do we realize just how little we do know.’ He said the words like a song, pausing on certain syllables, caressing others, drawing them out long and low. ‘As human beings, we know the difference between good and evil. We can realize truth and lies. We are masters over nature. The fear of man hunts every living thing, governs their every action, their every instinct, every little detail of their lives. Even the Elves, who understand the thoughts of animals and control the air, even they are in awe of mankind.’

The musician in the corner blew softly into his whistle, creating three long, high, humming notes. Gilbert ran the tip of his tongue over his lips.

‘But the hybrids?’ The showman spread his hands wide, slowly shook his head. ‘They have no place. Nature refuses to accept them, rejects them from the clockwork of her order. So they stay in Carathara, the land south over the seas, where they live in complete isolation. No one goes there, no one leaves there, for everyone’s safety. There they live in the disgusting, horrific monotony that passes for their existence. This doesn't really work as a sentence. They live within the the monotony? Rephrase. Now… behold the only hybrid ever to set foot in Anglisca, the only hybrid you’ll ever see. Behold… the Raven.’ He flung the curtain aside.

The small boys went, ‘Oooh!’

The gentlemen frowned, and one muttered something to the other.

The young woman’s hand tightened on the arm of the man beside her.

The old woman huddled down deeper inside her shawl, as though she were cold.

Gilbert, after the first automatic, expected shock, felt disappointed. More than that, he felt cheated.

The creature standing before him looked nothing like the animal on the poster outside. It had no fur, no wings, no vicious rabid eyes. If he didn’t know, Gilbert might have taken it for any other human child. It was very small and skinny, with oddly jointed limbs that made its knees and elbows stick out. ...What? Its skin was blotched brown with, Gilbert assumed, some type of dye and it had blue painted tattoos curling in strange, smudged designs over its skin. A dark feather was tied into its short, fine black hair, and more feathers tied around its wrists and ankles. It wore a stiff brown leather waistcoat and short, tight trousers. A leather collar was fastened around its long, thin neck.

Gilbert felt the absence of his sixpence in his pocket and wondered angrily whether they really had cheated all of Londlow and passed off a mere human child in strange clothes as a fantastic, outlandish hybrid.

‘Turn!’ the showman ordered, and the creature began to turn slowly, so that the crowd could see it from all angles. Gilbert shifted a little closer, and the creature, instead of staring straight ahead as it had been doing, flicked its gaze up and for one moment stared right into his eyes.

It was only for a moment and the hybrid looked away almost immediately, but in that one second, all of Gilbert’s ideas about cheating showmen and fake freaks vanished abruptly. No human child could ever have eyes like that, could ever have such an animalistic, abnormal face. The hybrid’s yellow eyes – wide and slit-pupiled – were outlined in dark eye-paint and seemed huge in its clear, pointed little face.

‘Go down!’ As it dropped down onto all fours, the showman began his commentary again. ‘See, ladies and gentlemen, the way that the Raven is made. Arms and legs all the same length. Pointed ears, a sure sign of her Elven blood.’

The small boys had got over their initial awe and now began pushing slyly forward, grubby fingers outstretched, but the showman rapped out, ‘Keep back! She may look tamed, but you don’t want to take any chances.’

They retreated, half sulky, half wary, and he turned his attention back to the hybrid. ‘Stand up!’

It rose and turned around once more. The showman spread his arms wide, as though he were embracing the audience, inviting them to share his secret. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. This freak, this abomination against nature. See her. Imagine her back in Carathara, living the normal life of a hybrid. Cannibalism. Bestiality. Inbreeding. Murder. That is the pitiful excuse of an existence that hybrids have. They have no dignified thought, no concept of right or wrong. They are animals, living only for their own desires with no feeling or empathy for their fellow creatures. Fear them, ladies and gentlemen, fear the Raven. Boys and girls, be wary. This isn’t like the bogey stories your parents used to tell you to make you behave; this, my friends, this is the real thing. A very real danger. A horror. A freak. A hybrid.’

‘Hey, mister,’ the young man called out. He shot a sideways glance at the girl on his arm, as though he hoped she were noticing this. ‘Does it ’ave the Sense, like what the Elves’ve got?’

‘Ah.’ Quennel nodded gravely. ‘Every Elf has the Sense, true. But hybrids are different. For some, their Elven blood runs strong and thick, and for others it has been watered down by generations of inbreeding. For some direct crosses, the human blood is strongest and there is no Sense. But for others…’ He turned his hand and unfurled his fingers as though he were offering the young man a gift. ‘For others, the Elven blood pounds hard through their veins, bringing with it the power of air, the awareness of nature, and above all… the Sense. The Sense that allows them to read other’s thoughts, to feel life and living movement, to feel the emotions and moods of the people around them. To bond with another living creature – a Sense-familiar – to share souls and minds and thoughts and feelings in a way that we can only dream of. The Sense, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the greatest natural wonders.’

‘But ’as it got it?’ the young man demanded, not very impressed.

Annoyed by his irreverent manner, the showman gave him a patronising patronizing glance. ‘Of course it has, my dear boy. Just because the Raven has no Sense-familiar doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have the thing itself. She just doesn’t show it, that’s all.’

The musician in the corner piped those same three notes again, let them slither out of his whistle and writhe into the air in snakes of sound. The showman clapped his hands and bowed extravagantly. ‘And that’s it, ladies and gentlemen, all you get for your money, all you get for sixpence, and I think you’ll all agree ’twas money well spent.’

Gilbert blinked, slightly dazed by the abrupt ending, but the rest of the group were already shuffling towards the door. The boys lingered until the showman put a firm hand on the leader’s shoulder and almost shoved him out. At the door, Gilbert paused, looked back past over the gentlemen’s feathered hats.

The hybrid had crouched down again on all fours, its long, thin fingers wide-splayed on the cold boarded floor, watching the viewers leave through those huge, blank eyes.

‘Move along there, young man,’ the gentlemen grumbled, pushing past, and Gilbert went through into the front room and out into the street. The wind descended with a gleeful whoop, and turning up his collar, he hurried away down the street.

* * *

Quennel shut the door, smiling. ‘Now that, Morley,’ he said, ‘was a good day.’

Morley looked up at him, then down, his pale eyelashes flicking like dragonfly wings.

‘Almost fifteen shillings in all.’ Quennel stuffed his hands into the pockets of his coarse homespun trousers, his fingers bumping against the coins in his pocket.

‘Maybe we should stay here in Londlow, then,’ Morley said. ‘Carry on while we’re doing well.’

‘When we’re doing well is the right time to leave. Keeps the people wanting, makes ’em eager when we come back.’

‘But Selseaton’s days away. The hybrid Takes too long to say and is too formal for logical conversation. By now, they would either call her by a name or have a shorthand version of the phrase or a nickname. might not travel well. It'll get sick in the cart.’

‘It will travel well,’ Quennel said calmly, ‘because I sez it will. Selseaton being the capital and all – the money we’ve made here’s nothing compared to what we’ll get there.’

Morley shrugged and wiped the mouthpiece of his whistle. The Raven swayed from side to side on her hands and feet, like a spider in its web. Quennel came and stood behind her, looking down. ‘Good little Raven,’ he said. His hand patted her head, then stroked the side of her face.

The Raven whipped her head around and hissed at him, baring her tiny, pointed teeth in feral snarl. He only laughed. ‘I don’t care how much you hate me, Raven. I’m the only one who keeps you alive.’

‘My gratitude makes me lie awake at night,’ the Raven said.

He smiled. ‘You’re a freak. An animal that just happens to have the ability to be sarcastic. I can accept that, but out there,’ – he waved a hand towards the door – ‘how many people out there would let you think even one thought of your own?’

‘None of them.’ The Raven’s voice was flat, reciting the words – the facts – that Quennel had hammered into her head from the moment she had entered his possession. ‘No one would let me do anything. No one would care if I starved to death in front of them. People would kill me. They fear me. I shock them, make them sick. I’m a freak, a hybrid, a slave, a mistake. I’m yours. I am the Raven, the only hybrid out of Carathara.’

‘Good little hybrid.’ Quennel pinched the top of her ear gently, and this time she let him.

---
Early on you use a lot of passive voiec; make your sentences more active to engage the reader.

I don't think that the Sense is too confusing, but it sounds kind of cliche. I'd have to see it in action to judge.

Third person works well, though we don't hear much from the Raven this way, so my ideas on this piece only I don't have much of an opinion on the Raven. The sarcasm is a nice touch.





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Sun Nov 30, 2008 3:00 pm
Lost_in_dreamland says...



The wind whimpered down Londlow’s narrow cobbled streets.Great way to start It caught at the thatched or tiled roofs of the houses, rippled the surface of a new puddle in the gutter and nipped the noses of the three small boys standing at the head of the queue outside the printer’s shop. That description was mindblowing :D Behind the boys, listening to their talk and sudden loud laughter, Gilbert dug his hands into his coat pockets and wished he had a better scarf than the darned and faded blue one wound around his neck. The wind lifted a corner of the poster that was tacked unevenly across the shop window. It looked at odds with the sign that hung above the shop door: Eldon Kennard, Printer. That first paragraph was amazing. Simply amazing.


The poster – garishly illustrated and melodramatic – was what had attracted Gilbert’s attention in the first place. It showed a creature that seemed to be a mix between a bird, a dog and a human. It was covered in dark fur, had dark wings and was crouched on all fours. Above the picture were the words, ‘The Raven – the Only Hybrid in Anglisca. Half-An-Elf and Half-A-Human,’ painted in slightly smeared, thick red letters. Written in smaller, clearer letters underneath was, ’Admission sixpence, private viewing one shilling.’ Again, your description is amazing. Your grammar is also very good.


Gilbert’s cold fingers touched the sixpence in his pocket.I am strangely fond of that sentence. It had seemed a ridiculous amount to pay – almost two hour’s wages – but so many people had brought back lurid reports of the new freak that he had almost felt that he had to come. Thewlis Carter had seen it, and Guthfrith had taken his girl as well. The girl, so Guthfrith said, had screamed and almost fainted, and had to be revived by the printer’s wife who tutted and made remarks about ‘that unnatural creation’ that was being shown in her husband’s back room. Hahah that sentence had me in hysterics :lol:


Gilbert had heard the stories about hybrids of course, like everyone else. Hybrids ate their children and walked on all fours. They were mad and hideous to look at (‘It scared ’er into ’ysterics, it did,’ Guthfrith had said. ‘It were that ugly an’ all. ’Orrible.’) Elves were strange enough, but an Elven-human hybrid had never been seen before in Londlow – or the whole of Anglisca, for that matter.


Gilbert looked back at the rest of the queue. He thought there were about six people there; a roughly-dressed young man with a young woman beside him, two middle-aged gentlemen and right at the very end, a little old woman in a dirty, patched dark dress, crooked bonnet and a grey shawl.I absolutely love your description Gilbert wondered why she had come. Freak shows didn’t seem the place for old women without escorts this late in the evening. :lol:


The shop door opened and the previous lot of viewers streamed out. Some of them were pale, some looked sad, others disgusted. One young woman had her hand over her mouth, silent tears dribbling down her cheeks. A man stood in the doorway ushering them out; he cupped his hands around his mouth and bellowed, ‘Last viewing! Last chance to see the Raven, the Only Hybrid In Anglisca!’ Gilbert could hear the capitals. ‘Last chance to see the only hybrid that’ll ever be in Anglisca! Half-An-Elf and Half-A-Human! Last chance! Only sixpence! Moving on tomorrow, never to be seen again hybrid!’


There was a pause. The showman counted the queue, his eyes bright in a face flushed with shouting. ‘Seven, eight, nine… All right, we’ll squeeze you all in as one group. Come in.’


The small boys in front of Gilbert darted forward but the showman collared one and demanded, ‘Money?’


Scowling, the boys handed over their money and the man smiled graciously. Gilbert gave him his sixpence and stepped into the shop. It was small and plain with a counter at one end and some framed samples of the printer’s work on the walls: ‘And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.’ ‘Time stops for no man.’ The whole of the Ten Commandments done in curling black script with decorated capitals.


The showman led the little group through the door behind the counter; Gilbert wondered where the printer was. Beyond the door was the back room. It was completely bare with a dark red curtain strung across the width of the room. Another man sat on a stool in one corner, a tin whistle held loosely between his thin fingers. His pale eyes flickered over the group like an insect skittering over water.


The showman took up a stance in front of the curtain, one arm raised as though for silence, even though no one was talking. He paused. Then –


‘When we think that the world is within our grasp, that we know all – only then do we realize just how little we do know.’ He said the words like a song, pausing on certain syllables, caressing others, drawing them out long and low. ‘As human beings, we know the difference between good and evil. We can realize truth and lies. We are masters over nature. The fear of man hunts every living thing, governs their every action, their every instinct, every little detail of their lives. Even the Elves, who understand the thoughts of animals and control the air, even they are in awe of mankind.’


The musician in the corner blew softly into his whistle, creating three long, high, humming notes. Gilbert ran the tip of his tongue over his lips. Again, I am completely lost in your world


‘But the hybrids?’ The showman spread his hands wide, slowly shook his head. ‘They have no place. Nature refuses to accept them, rejects them from the clockwork of her order. So they stay in Carathara, the land south over the seas, where they live in complete isolation. No one goes there, no one leaves there, for everyone’s safety. There they live in the disgusting, horrific monotony that passes for their existence. Now… behold the only hybrid ever to set foot in Anglisca, the only hybrid you’ll ever see. Behold… the Raven.’ He flung the curtain aside.


The small boys went, ‘Oooh!’


The gentlemen frowned, and one muttered something to the other.


The young woman’s hand tightened on the arm of the man beside her.


The old woman huddled down deeper inside her shawl, as though she were cold. I can see her.


Gilbert, after the first automatic, expected shock, felt disappointed. More than that, he felt cheated.


The creature standing before him looked nothing like the animal on the poster outside. It had no fur, no wings, no vicious rabid eyes. If he didn’t know, Gilbert might have taken it for any other human child. It was very small and skinny, with oddly jointed limbs that made its knees and elbows stick out. Its skin was blotched brown with, Gilbert assumed, some type of dye and it had blue painted tattoos curling in strange, smudged designs over its skin. A dark feather was tied into its short, fine black hair, and more feathers tied around its wrists and ankles. It wore a stiff brown leather waistcoat and short, tight trousers. A leather collar was fastened around its long, thin neck.


Gilbert felt the absence of his sixpence in his pocket and wondered angrily whether they really had cheated all of Londlow and passed off a mere human child in strange clothes as a fantastic, outlandish hybrid.


‘Turn!’ the showman ordered, and the creature began to turn slowly, so that the crowd could see it from all angles. Gilbert shifted a little closer, and the creature, instead of staring straight ahead as it had been doing, flicked its gaze up and for one moment stared right into his eyes.


It was only for a moment and the hybrid looked away almost immediately, but in that one second, all of Gilbert’s ideas about cheating showmen and fake freaks vanished abruptly. No human child could ever have eyes like that, could ever have such an animalistic, abnormal face. The hybrid’s yellow eyes – wide and slit-pupiled – were outlined in dark eye-paint and seemed huge in its clear, pointed little face.


‘Go down!’ As it dropped down onto all fours, the showman began his commentary again. ‘See, ladies and gentlemen, the way that the Raven is made. Arms and legs all the same length. Pointed ears, a sure sign of her Elven blood.’


The small boys had got over their initial awe and now began pushing slyly forward, grubby fingers outstretched, but the showman rapped out, ‘Keep back! She may look tamed, but you don’t want to take any chances.’


They retreated, half sulky, half wary, and he turned his attention back to the hybrid. ‘Stand up!’


It rose and turned around once more. The showman spread his arms wide, as though he were embracing the audience, inviting them to share his secret. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. This freak, this abomination against nature. See her. Imagine her back in Carathara, living the normal life of a hybrid. Cannibalism. Bestiality. Inbreeding. Murder. That is the pitiful excuse of an existence that hybrids have. They have no dignified thought, no concept of right or wrong. They are animals, living only for their own desires with no feeling or empathy for their fellow creatures. Fear them, ladies and gentlemen, fear the Raven. Boys and girls, be wary. This isn’t like the bogey stories your parents used to tell you to make you behave; this, my friends, this is the real thing. A very real danger. A horror. A freak. A hybrid.’


‘Hey, mister,’ the young man called out. He shot a sideways glance at the girl on his arm, as though he hoped she were noticing this. ‘Does it ’ave the Sense, like what the Elves’ve got?’


‘Ah.’ Quennel nodded gravely. ‘Every Elf has the Sense, true. But hybrids are different. For some, their Elven blood runs strong and thick, and for others it has been watered down by generations of inbreeding. For some direct crosses, the human blood is strongest and there is no Sense. But for others…’ He turned his hand and unfurled his fingers as though he were offering the young man a gift. ‘For others, the Elven blood pounds hard through their veins, bringing with it the power of air, the awareness of nature, and above all… the Sense. The Sense that allows them to read other’s thoughts, to feel life and living movement, to feel the emotions and moods of the people around them. To bond with another living creature – a Sense-familiar – to share souls and minds and thoughts and feelings in a way that we can only dream of. The Sense, ladies and gentlemen, one of the greatest natural wonders.’


‘But ’as it got it?’ the young man demanded, not very impressed.


Annoyed by his irreverent manner, the showman gave him a patronising glance. ‘Of course it has, my dear boy. Just because the Raven has no Sense-familiar doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have the thing itself. She just doesn’t show it, that’s all.’


The musician in the corner piped those same three notes again, let them slither out of his whistle and writhe into the air in snakes of sound. The showman clapped his hands and bowed extravagantly. ‘And that’s it, ladies and gentlemen, all you get for your money, all you get for sixpence, and I think you’ll all agree ’twas money well spent.’


Gilbert blinked, slightly dazed by the abrupt ending, but the rest of the group were already shuffling towards the door. The boys lingered until the showman put a firm hand on the leader’s shoulder and almost shoved him out. At the door, Gilbert paused, looked back past over the gentlemen’s feathered hats.


The hybrid had crouched down again on all fours, its long, thin fingers wide-splayed on the cold boarded floor, watching the viewers leave through those huge, blank eyes.


‘Move along there, young man,’ the gentlemen grumbled, pushing past, and Gilbert went through into the front room and out into the street. The wind descended with a gleeful whoop, and turning up his collar, he hurried away down the street.


* * *


Quennel shut the door, smiling. ‘Now that, Morley,’ he said, ‘was a good day.’


Morley looked up at him, then down, his pale eyelashes flicking like dragonfly wings.


‘Almost fifteen shillings in all.’ Quennel stuffed his hands into the pockets of his coarse homespun trousers, his fingers bumping against the coins in his pocket.


‘Maybe we should stay here in Londlow, then,’ Morley said. ‘Carry on while we’re doing well.’


‘When we’re doing well is the right time to leave. Keeps the people wanting, makes ’em eager when we come back.’


‘But Selseaton’s days away. The hybrid might not travel well. It'll get sick in the cart.’


‘It will travel well,’ Quennel said calmly, ‘because I sez it will. Selseaton being the capital and all – the money we’ve made here’s nothing compared to what we’ll get there.’


Morley shrugged and wiped the mouthpiece of his whistle. The Raven swayed from side to side on her hands and feet, like a spider in its web. Quennel came and stood behind her, looking down. ‘Good little Raven,’ he said. His hand patted her head, then stroked the side of her face.


The Raven whipped her head around and hissed at him, baring her tiny, pointed teeth in feral snarl. He only laughed. ‘I don’t care how much you hate me, Raven. I’m the only one who keeps you alive.’


‘My gratitude makes me lie awake at night,’ the Raven said.


He smiled. ‘You’re a freak. An animal that just happens to have the ability to be sarcastic. I can accept that, but out there,’ – he waved a hand towards the door – ‘how many people out there would let you think even one thought of your own?’


‘None of them.’ The Raven’s voice was flat, reciting the words – the facts – that Quennel had hammered into her head from the moment she had entered his possession. ‘No one would let me do anything. No one would care if I starved to death in front of them. People would kill me. They fear me. I shock them, make them sick. I’m a freak, a hybrid, a slave, a mistake. I’m yours. I am the Raven, the only hybrid out of Carathara.’


‘Good little hybrid.’ Quennel pinched the top of her ear gently, and this time she let him.


---


If this seems like the other chapter one, it's because it's like the other chapter one. Is the Sense thingy too confusing? Does third person work? Impressions of the Raven?

I love it! Your description is amazing, and your grammar is very good too. Some moments in it are simply magical, I really like the Raven, it works very well and I love the fact that it's sarcastic. I totally disappeared into your world when I read this which is a great thing. I found it quite endearing and will definetly be reading more of it.
-Kirsten xxx
for what are we without words and stories?








"What is a poet? An unhappy person who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music."
— Søren Kierkegaard, Philosopher & Theologian