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In The Eyes Of A Druid



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Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:59 am
emmylou1995 says...



The glass bottle seemed to laugh at you, the golden honey inside begging you to drink it. In its eyes, you were pathetic; you were naive. Eyes burning with guilt, you lift the bottle to your lips and gulp down the last of the brandy. You then beckon to the bartender, a young girl with golden hair and a dress woven of melted copper.

When she comes to you and smiles, you cannot help but notice her ears. They are delicate and enticing, with pointed tips and golden rings adorning their sides. They are the ears of a pure bred elf. A facial feature that demands honor and respect, though you wonder why a purebred elven girl was working as a bartender, and not as a dragon rider or such.

You ask her for another bottle of brandy and she raises an eyebrow.

“Are you sure, Yaero? You already seem…tipsy enough,” she hesitates at the end of her sentence, her elven accent heavily intertwined with her English.

“Just do it, Eona,” you snap at her, wondering how she knew your name, and how you had come to know hers.

She sighs as her smile disappears and she moves away to swipe you another bottle. You feel your thoughts growing fuzzier by the minute and you shake your head to try and dispel the feeling. When a bottle of brandy appears before you, you lift it to your lips once more and take a large swig.

The bell on the door to the tavern rings as several new customers walk inside, perhaps to rid themselves of the cold winds outside. You turn, curious as to whom the newcomers are. What meets your eyes is a peculiar sight, one that very much interests you. Standing in the middle of the tavern is a small group of Northern Druids. There are three of them, two women and a man.

The man is short and broad shouldered, with a shining bald head that appears rosy from the cold. He held a lute, made with dark, cherry wood and silver gilded strings. One of the women wore a simple gray gown, with olive skin and dark brown hair. The second woman, who seemed to have an air of authority over her two companions, was the most peculiar looking of all. Her skin was olive colored as well, though much brighter, which gave her the appearance of glowing green. Her hair was black and pulled back into a braid that only just sweeps the floor. She wore silver garments that were close in likeness to the clothing gypsies wore. Lining her outfit were miniature bells the color of the evening sky and atop her head sat a thin silver diadem carved in the shape of a twisted vine.

You, along with everyone else in the tavern, are memorized by the woman’s beauty. Even Eona stops working to stare at the visitors. In all but a moment, the entire room falls silent and as the black haired woman begins to speak, you have no choice but to listen. Her voice is wine, trickling out into the room and staining all that it touches with a hint of sweetness and elegance. The words that she forms on her tongue are English, though almost unrecognizable through her curious druid accent. The man lightly plucks at the strings of his lute as she speaks, and the music creates a book where inside, her story lays waiting.
Your breath catches as her words illuminate your mind and leave the alcohols effects all but forsaken.

“Timeless time for all who wander
green plucked trees and visions yonder
azure throne of the sky and sea
diadem of flowers, Gahana's beauty.

What one can hear, the wind has sung
and in the ruins, the ladder's rung,
Through branches, doors and caverns old
a silver ship, a crew untold.

Forever young, forever free
beyond this blessed misery
Gahana of the earth and of the air
elixir of forever young,
forever young and fair.”

When her voice ceases to be heard, you frown in disappointment. As you watch the woman fall silent, she turns to glance at you. Her eyes are a forest, crawling with mystery and enchantment as they lock onto your own eyes. You can feel her presence in your mind, a thin tendril of smoke among your scattered thoughts. A single string of words appear in your thoughts and you cannot help but wonder if the words are from this druid woman.

As the woman looks away, she flashes you a lopsided smile. Gesturing toward her companions, the tavern bell rings a second time as they exit the building. You are left in a state of confusion, wondering as to why her spoken words had affected you so strongly. You wonder if everyone else in the tavern were asking themselves the same question. You decide, on a partly alcohol-inspired whim, to follow her and ask her what in fact her song meant and if she had, in fact, been intent on confusing your thoughts.

Nobody utters a word while you stand from your stool and wrap yourself with your leather coat. Placing two gold pieces on the bar to cover your drinks and Eona's tip, you saunter towards the door. As you exit, you cause the tavern bell to ring one last time.

The moment you step outside, the cold, bitter winds attack you from all angles. They lick at your cheeks and slice at your ankles. They pounce down your back and find their way to your kneecaps. You stuff your bare hands into your pockets and stand curled up against the wind. As your eyes catch sight of a group of footprints heading to the left, that is the way you decide set out.

After hours of trampling around on the cobblestone streets you have no choice but to call off your search. Nowhere did you find any sign of the Druid and her friends. No alleyways held any secrets and no doorways or windows concealed them. They had simply vanished into the dark azure night. All in all, your efforts have turned futile and so you head home. In a short time, however, you come across a child sitting on the ground, huddled close to a furnace beside a bakery. Your heart expands, leading you to kneel next to them. Though as much as you may like to drink and feel sorry for yourself, you still have a strong sense of righteousness.

The child is sitting in such a way that you can tell it is a she. Her hair is short and red, an awe-inspiring contrast to the light snow penetrating the air around her. She wears a dress of many woven fabrics, with hundreds of frayed ends and sleeves that appear to cause a rash on her roughened pale skin. You reach out to touch her and as your skin makes contact with hers, your eyes grow wide.

You attempt to shake her but she does not wake. There is no fat on her body, only skin and bones. Her hair is frozen to her face, and her eyes are plastered open. You wish to your god Alma that you could see anything, any spark of life in her eyes. Instead, there is only a glazed over look that haunts you and makes you wish you could look away and yet you cannot. You notice now that her skin is not pale but indeed light blue, and her lips are the color of blueberries. You pull your hand away and slide to the ground, mouth wide open in horror. There was a child before you, a child frozen to death. This is all the world is now, all Belon City is. Children dying on the streets, families living with less than a block of cheese a month. Then those who bathe in rose scented baths with houses of exquisite architecture and pillars and fine tapestries lining their walls.

How could one live like that, when they knew what was happening out here?

You feel a tear escape the sanctuary of your eye and as it slides down your cheek you stand and back away from the child. She only needed warmth. She only needed food. The tear dances on your chin, a crystal ready to slip and shatter and when it does, nothing will matter anymore.

“He could prevent this,” a voice sounds from behind you.

You turn to find the druid woman with the black hair standing by the mouth of the alley. She is staring at the child, her face a mask of fury, pain and sorrow. She does not seem so beautiful as she did in the tavern. Now she only appears as a woman who wishes this world to change. In that way, you find that you are not so different from her as you originally thought. Her skin being green and yours being pale, does not change the fact that children dying in the streets, just as rats die in sewers, is wrong. In every moral, literal, and figurative sense, it is wrong.

“Anyone could prevent this. Even I could,” you whisper.

She looks at you quizzically. “No, I did not mean like that. I meant the Regent Of Belon could prevent this. He has the tools, now why doesn't he use them?”

You swerve your head to see her once more, appalled at her words. “The Regent is a good man-”

“Do not get me wrong,” a sudden acid fills her words as she holds up her hands, “I never said he wasn't a good man. I simply said he could prevent this. He knows he has the money, yet he basks in it by himself all hours of the day. He does not lift a finger to help us.”

“Maybe he does not think it is right. Or maybe he believes that he would be wasting his time. Whatever his reason, you cannot commend him for something if you do not know his reason for doing so.”

“I'm surprised that is your opinion. Someone of your background ought to understand...never mind. The regent is selfish and naïve and I want him brought to justice.”

“Why are you telling me this?” you ask her, confused as to why she is expecting you to listen to all of her opinions. It was growing colder and darker by the moment; it was as if there was only you, the druid, and the child curled on the ground, and all else had vanished through the stinging snow.

“What do you see before you?” the druid waves her hand at the frozen child.

“I see pain and sorrow, both of which could be prevented if only the people of this city understood. Yet they do not,” you answer her, voice cracking and your hair whipping at your face from the winds that had since grown stronger.

“Have you not just answered your own question?” she pushed, her soft voice layered with exhaustion. “You feel the same way as I do, so why do you reject my words?

“I don’t reject them…” your voice falls to a whisper. “I only wish they were not so agonizingly true.”

You sigh heavily and slide to the ground, then lean your head back against the brick wall, glancing at the druid woman. Her eyes are trained on the child and you can see the remnants of tears gracing her cheeks. You wonder where she has come from, how far she is from her home.

You think that possibly the only reason she came was to speak against the regent. Though would that not be a waste of her time? Should you believe her? How can you go against the Regent, when he is all you know? When he keeps the peace in all of Belon? Yet, does he truly keep the peace in Belon, or does he fake it? It sounds wrong though somehow feels right, but isn’t that how the entire world works? Life is simply a war between what seems wrong and is right, or what feels right and is wrong.

“You are weak, my friend. That song was meant to get you thinking. Is the regent truly all you thought he was? Or could he be a different person altogether? I am placing blind trust in you, that you feel the same way and will not report me. The Gods know I should die if the Regent ever found out about me. About who I am. About what I believe in, and spread to every city I visit.”

You laugh cynically and turn your head to look at her. “Blind trust?”

She continues to stare at the child as she rubs at her wrist. “Blind trust, yes. I am going to die soon, and so I wanted to gather followers; people who felt the same way about the regent as I do. And my hope is that in the future, those followers shall unite and rid us of the regent. He is a good man, somewhere inside of him, but the way he rules this country is truly wrong.”

You frown and watch her face for any signs of false words and all you see is sorrow. Sorrow and something that is rare in any face nowadays. Complete serenity: complete calm. You did not expect to find that in the face of a woman who is anticipating her death. Much less a woman who is forced to trust strangers like you to carry out her plans, to right what she believes to be wrong. If she can be so ready to trust people that she knows nothing about, and hardly met by more than a meeting of the eyes, then you are open to trusting her as well. If she is to die soon, you may as well help her. Dying with a purpose in life not fulfilled is worse than living with no purpose at all.

“I won't let you down. I don't know why...but I promise I won't,” you say, unsure if you will actually be able to keep that promise. Unsure if you are even doing the right thing. You feel the cold licking at your bones, causing your stomach to seize and your teeth to chatter. You cannot feel your toes, and your fingers are growing numb.

She nods her head slightly. “I thank you greatly. Now come, let us find warmth.”

You stand from the icy ground and hold on to the wall as the world spins around you. It is a kaleidoscope, the sky beneath you, the snow falling upwards, and the woman flying down towards the clouds. You feel yourself falling towards the clouds, towards a greater good where nothing sparks injustice and there is only calm. There is sun and it illuminates your face and the world around you. You close your eyes and open them again to find yourself back in the alleyway, the world cold and dark and filled with shadows.

Your knees begin to buckle and you feel hands grab your torso and keep you from falling. The hands are warm, and you glance at their owner to see the woman from the tavern. Her long black hair is dull and her clothing is ragged. The diadem atop her head is rusted in parts, and it is missing leaves from the vine. You wonder if in fact you have taken a drug to cause you to see what is not true. You remember the woman being beautiful, you remember the world being frozen, and yet strange warmth springs forward from inside your blood.

You glance behind you as the woman helps you to the mouth of the alley, and you see a child curled on the ground. The body is that of a female, with red hair and pale skin. Her clothing is ragged and you remember that she has passed from this world to the next. Yet you notice something that was not there before. Surrounding her, springing from the cobblestones in the alley are tiny purple and teal and golden flowers.

“You see with the eyes of a druid, my friend,” says the woman beside you, “We see Life where there is only death to humans.”

You watch as the flowers then engulf the girl and as she transforms into a cocoon of purple and gold. The ground then opens up beneath her, splitting from a single crack into a thousand pieces that fall away. You are enchanted as grass grows from the hole so that the child in the cocoon can rest. As she is pulled slowly into the ground and out of your view, your world falls silent.

You turn into the freezing winds once again, and stand up straight so that the woman needs not help you walk. A new fire has kindled inside of you. One of strength and passion, and when the woman’s hands leave your skin, you once again feel weak and lost. Your knees begin to buckle and the world loses its shine in seconds. Your strength has been drained from you. The woman grabs hold of you and you feel your strength renewed. Confusion is the only gift her touch allows you to receive.

“What…what is wrong with me?” you whisper.

“I am sorry, my touch allows you to gain strength, but when I let go, you shall again feel weakness. I only meant to help you stand,” she apologizes.

You shake your head and hand at her, dismissing her apology. “Do not be modest. Thank you for your help, it feels amazing.”

She smiles and as you both make your way towards the warmth, you know that everything that has played out tonight was the beginning of an adventure. And adventure that you could only guess where it would lead you, to the ends of the earth or to love or to the last piece of the puzzling game of life.
Last edited by emmylou1995 on Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:33 pm
Lauren2010 says...



Hi emmylou! Lauren here for a review :)

This piece is very beautifully written. I love the language you've used, and particularly the way you utilize the second person in the narrative. You don't often see the second person used in such a highly fantastical piece, and I really enjoyed reading it used so well.

Now, on to the nitpicks ;)
The glass bottle seemed to laugh at you, the golden honey inside begging you to drink it. In its eyes, you were pathetic; you were naive. Eyes burning with guilt, you lift the bottle to your lips and gulp down the last of the brandy. You knew that Kaila would be mad when you returned home, yet still you drink. You beckon to the bartender, a young girl with golden hair and a dress woven of melted copper.

For an opening paragraph, this doesn't feel very solid. It has a lot of stuff thrown into it, but not much of this stuff carries through the story. Most specifically, the mention of Kaila. This is the only mention of her in the entire story, and it doesn't prove important enough to really even be mentioned at all. It doesn't add anything to the story, or to our understanding of the main character.

Also, this is the only part of the story really in the past tense, It isn't necessary here, so keep it to one tense. ;)

You, along with everyone else in the tavern, are memorized by the woman’s beauty

Mezmerized ;)

Placing a twenty-dollar bill on the bar to cover your drinks and Hanna's tip, you cause the tavern bell to ring one last time.

This doesn't sound like a very earthy world, so would it make sense for their currency to be American currency? Perhaps something more along the lines of "gold coins" or even just saying money would work just fine. Also, the two parts of this sentence "Placing a twenty-dollar bill on the car to cover your drinks and Hanna's tip" and "you cause the tavern bell to ring one last time" don't flow together very well. Placing the tip on the bar doesn't cause the tavern bell to ring (at least I'm assuming this is a bell on the door). Some mention of motion from the bar to the door needs to be in here.

Though as much as you may like to drink and feel sorry for yourself, you still have a heart of gold.

This guy (or perhaps girl) doesn't strike me as someone with a heart of gold. People with hearts of gold aren't very likely alcoholics with self-loathing problems. Maybe something more like "an above-average sense of righteousness" (obviously worded better to fit the rest of the story xD). Heart of gold just sounds too angelic for this character.

“Oh, don't get me wrong,” a sudden acid fills her words as she holds up her hands,

The "oh, don't get me wrong" doesn't fit with the rest of the dialogue used in the story, and particularly with this character's dialogue. It's too modern, and knocked me out of the story.

Names
Yaero & Hanna

This might just be a personal preference sort of thing, but the naming in this story struck me as odd. Hanna seems like such a normal "human" name, yet it's for an elf character who is even described as majestic/honorable/etc. Then, Yaero, the exotic interesting name, was given to someone who I'm assuming is a human, or human-like species. To me, it just seems like the naming ought to be the other way around, with the elf having the exotic name and the human having the more normal name.

If this story were a longer piece, such as a novel, and a non-typical naming pattern could be more established it might work. But for such a short piece with only a few names even mentioned, it feels off to me.

Poem/Song
“Timeless time for all who wander
green plucked trees and visions yonder
azure throne of the sky and of the sea
diadem of flowers, Gahana's beauty.

What one can hear, the wind has sung
and in the ruins, the ladder's last rung,
Through branches, doors and caverns old
a silver ship, a crew untold.

Forever young, forever free
beyond this blessed world's misery
Gahana of the earth and of the air
elixir of forever young, forever young and fair.

This is a lovely poem/song and far more artistic than I could ever manage to create on my own time, so I admire it extensively.

However, the meter is off. There are several lines (marked in bold) that aren't timed right. They have too many syllables to fit the pattern of the rest of the lyrics which makes it that much less effective in the story. If you're having trouble matching up meter/syllables, try reading the poem out loud. Where it sounds off, or you can't speak it to the meter that it should have, you can hear where the problems are and finish it.

The only other thing I want to mention is the plot a bit. It seems much to open for a story that I'm assuming extends no further than the end of this piece. All the stuff about the regent and everything, giving the main character an adventure to take part on, it suggests a much larger story. When it ends here, it disappoints the reader.

This story is so good, it's a shame if what the reader feels at the end is disappointment. Really, though, the story just needs to be narrowed a little. I'd suggest cutting out everything about the regent and the elixer, since we never see the outcome of either of those matters. Instead, focus on this passage of power/awakening of the main character by the druid. It may require some larger plot adjustment to get the story to make sense when centered around this matter, but I think it will create a much more solid and strong story. By focusing on that small matter, the reader isn't disappointed at the end (because the "desire" was achieved in the end) yet it still opens the end of the story up for that good kind of wondering what happens next.

Other than that, great job! If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a PM and I'd be glad to chat. :)

Keep writing!

-Lauren-
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Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:49 am
catchingwave says...



Great story! I'll just do a quick review since I think that most of what I would've liked to have said was already mentioned in Lauren2010's review. I suppose there wouldn't be much point in simply repeating what the previous reviewer wrote. But otherwise, there was a few things that Lauren2010 left out that I would like to mention myself. First of all, I absolutely love how you chose the theme based on elves, druids etc. as this is probably the first story I've come across in the Fantasy genre with this theme. Not that I mind the other themes, of course, it's just nice to see something different for a change. Anyway, there weren't too many grammatical errors (Lauren2010 picked out some of them) so I'll let that pass. However, you did have a bit of trouble with the tense. I noticed how you would randomly change from past tense to present and it was quite disturbing. But on a brighter side, your story was good enough to let a minor flaw like that be overlooked. Still, I would recommend re-checking your work. Also, I think in some areas you added a little extra and unnecessary detail that wasn't really required in the story. So yeah, once again I recommend re-checking your work. Well, that's all for the critcism. Moving on to what I liked about your story. I really liked your use of description (though it was a little confusing in some places) and the plot of the story was also quite interesting.
You attempt to shake her but she does not wake. There is no fat on her body, only skin and bones. Her hair is frozen to her face, and her eyes are plastered open. You wish to your god Alma that you could see anything, any spark of life in her eyes. Instead, there is only a glazed over look that haunts you and makes you wish you could look away and yet you cannot. You notice now that her skin is not pale but indeed light blue, and her lips are the color of blueberries. You pull your hand away and slide to the ground, mouth wide open in horror. There was a child before you, a child frozen to death.
I particularly liked this part of the story and how you described the dead child (though it is really sad).
So I suppose that's all. I really look forward to checking out more of your pieces in the future. Until then, keep writing and best of luck! :D
  





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Sat Jan 28, 2012 3:25 am
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AlfredSymon says...



Hello Emmy! Alfred here, for a Quick Critique! I love fantasy fiction, it seems...very fantastic! Anyways, here is my review of your work:

Concept & Theme: :D :D :D :) :)
Fantasy are one of my favorite topics! Especially when it's scoped on fairies and whatnot. In this here piece, you spoke in the eyes of a druid, a fantastical creature indeed. The pinch of darkness you added to the piece makes it more interesting. The concept of having the reader in the story adds up to the overall pointing!

Technicalities: :D :D :D :) :)
Excellent! An average reader will enjoy reading this clearly written short story. But, for the sake of perfecting your piece, lemme give you a very technical comment on this piece through the eyes of The Editor.
A facial feature that demands honor and respect, though you wonder why a purebred elven girl was working as a bartender, and not as a dragon rider or such.

This sentence is made up of too much 'glue words' making the idea unclear. Shortening the sentence but retaining its idea can do wonders.
The second woman, who seemed to have an air of authority over her two companions, was the most peculiar looking of all

This one has a low readability level. Try giving a clearer presentation of idea.
You, along with everyone else in the tavern, are memorized by the woman’s beauty. Even Eona stops working to stare at the visitors. In all but a moment, the entire room falls silent and as the black haired woman begins to speak, you have no choice but to listen. Her voice is wine, trickling out into the room and staining all that it touches with a hint of sweetness and elegance. The words that she forms on her tongue are English, though almost unrecognizable through her curious druid accent. The man lightly plucks at the strings of his lute as she speaks, and the music creates a book where inside, her story lays waiting.
Your breath catches as her words illuminate your mind and leave the alcohols effects all but forsaken.

This paragraph is made up of a lot of glue words like 'is' and 'the'. If you can delete them and interchange the paragraph, you can make your sentences better. The three following paragraphs are also filled with glue.
That's all I can think of. Remember these are over-the-top comments, and thus editing your work doesn't matter much because it's great as it is!

Characters & Settings: :D :D :D :D :)
Having your characters set in one theme is great. Also, the mix of modernity in the ancientness of your setting makes a great concept.

Plot: :D :D :D :) :?
Beautiful and serene. It wasn't quick as other fantasies, but it was very beautiful. I love the presentation idea and the tie-up in the end is a very good one. It seems that I've read a fairy tale.

Overall: :D :D :D :D :?
Excellency at its best! Wonders crawl around the piece. Simply lovely! Perfect for a reader, but if you plan submitting it to a publisher, make sure to check it up again!

Your Quick Critic,
Al ;)
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