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Scavenger - 1.2



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Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:08 pm
Twit says...



Two

They left Londlow early the next day. It was warm with a tiny wind that whipped up strands of the carthorse’s mane and blew dust into their eyes, making Quennel curse loudly. Morley blinked and said nothing.

The Raven sat in the back of the cart, her lead tied to a large heavy crate that held most of Quennel and Morley’s clothes and possessions. A leather trunk and a smaller crate containing two scrawny and dispirited chickens made up the rest of the luggage. Morley, wedged between the trunk and large crate, held a small canvas bag. Quennel sat on the seat up front, next to the carter whom he had hired to drive them to Selseaton.

The cart rattled from side to side, first over the cobblestones of Londlow’s streets, then onto the road that led out of the city and into the countryside. The house grew smaller and simpler, and the road was surrounded by open fields of yellow rapeseed and ripe corn. They turned onto a smaller road, leaving the traffic of carts and horses and coaches behind. The way ran ahead, divided into three parts: dusty grey earth rubbed bare by cart wheels and a strip of untouched grass in the middle.

Lying on her back, the Raven could see the sky burning bright blue above, like a wide, smooth bowl turned upside down. It was as though she were inside the bowl, looking up at the carefully glazed base. Smears of thick white paint – clouds – hung motionless in the blue, making pictures of people and animals within themselves.

She sighed and closed her eyes, feeling the hot floor of the cart press against her cheek. The sky was so beautiful. No matter what happened, the sky was always beautiful. Something Elven deep inside the Raven made her crack open one eyelid and stare upwards, momentarily dazzled by the everlasting blue of the sky.

The cart jolted; Quennel swore again. Lazily but carefully, the Raven reached out with her mind and felt for his thoughts. They were not interesting or even very coherent – a stream of grumbles and feelings: the seat was too hard, the sun too hot, the dust too annoying, and the carter too stupid. Then one solid thought formed: All right for the hybrid, cursed creature. The Raven Sensed him turn and scowl at her. Asleep, lazy beast.

She smiled smugly to herself and closed her eyes again. Quennel turned back. Wriggling a little on the rough, jolting floor of the cart, the Raven went to sleep.

---

A sharp poke in her side awakened her a few hours later. The cart had stopped by an inn and the carter was getting down and unhitching the horse. Morley poked her again. ‘Get up.’

‘What’re we stopping for, Morley-sir?’ she asked, jumping down.

‘Drink and a rest.’

‘Do I get either of those?’

‘Rest, yes. Drink, if you’re good.’ Quennel wrapped her lead around his wrist and nodded to Morley. ‘Go and ask the landlord if we can borrow an extra stall.’

‘Stable stall?’

Yes, Morley, a stable stall. Say it’s for an exhibit. We can’t take it in with us, after all, can we?’

Morley shrugged and went into the inn. A few minutes later he was back. ‘He says it’s all right, so long as it ain’t anything what’ll scare ’is horses.’

‘Well, we’re fine there.’ Quennel handed the Raven's lead to Morley. ‘Go stable it. I’ll be inside. Make sure that it’s secure. No, wait – stay with it yourself.’

Morley opened his mouth to protest, shut it, bit his lip, and then asked, ‘Can I have a drink first?’

‘If you’re good.’ Quennel laughed and entered the inn.

Morley made a rude gesture at the inn door and led the Raven to the stable, which was a long, thin building attached onto the inn at the back. Inside it was light and airy, smelling of hay and leather and manure. A row of stalls ran against the right-hand side, and a ladder leading to a hayloft stood at the end.

Morley opened one of the far stalls and led the Raven in. He tied her lead to a ring set low in the wall and bolted the low door. Then he hesitated. She blinked owlishly at him. He sighed and said, ‘Behave. If you’re good, then I’ll bring you a drink. If you’re naughty, then you won’t get a drink and Quennel will beat you. Understand?’

The Raven nodded and sat down meekly. ‘Yes’m.’

Morley left. The Raven heard him close the stable door. After waiting a minute or two, she reached up and untied the lead. The horse in the stall next to her – a chestnut with a long, thin nose – gave her a cursory glance and then turned back to staring at the wall.

The Raven swung her lead around in the air, enjoying the whitt-whitt-whitt-whitt sound of whirling leather. There was a spider struggling to reach the top of the door. It slipped and swung on its thread, legs waving frantically. She caught it on her finger and stuck its thread on the wall. The spider caught and began to climb. It found a knothole and rested there a moment before continuing its journey. When it reached the sloping ceiling, it scuttled around aimlessly for a bit before settling down. It twitched a front leg triumphantly and began to spin.

The Raven wrapped the end of the lead around her wrist and put her hands on the wall that connected her stall to the empty one next to it. She hoisted herself up and swung a leg over the edge of the stall. It wasn’t thick enough to sit comfortably astride, so very carefully, holding onto the beam that ran above her head to the spine of the roof, she stood up. Her bare toes gripped the stall edge; she could just feel the rough wood under the hard soles of her feet.

Her next door neighbour turned his head as far as his halter would allow and stared at her, his ears flicking back and forth. Strange thing. New. Odd. Danger. Danger? New thing up. Big. Big? Man. Small. Cat? Bird? Strange thing. Danger. New.

New thing good, the Raven told him, a grin spreading over her face. She let go of the beam and spread her arms out.

She took a step forward and another, humming under her breath, then out loud: ‘My bonny lass she smileth, when she my heart beguileth. Fa la la la la la…’

A longer step and she stuck her leg out to one side. ‘Smile less, dear love, therefore, and you shall love me more.’

She pivoted around and made a circle in the air with her arms. Then another step and she reached up to touch the ceiling beam. ‘Fa la la la la la la…’

Her feet groped to find her balance, slipping a little. She swayed and recovered again. The stable was quiet; her high, quiet singing hardly disturbed the dust motes that danced in the rays of sunlight falling through the skylight onto the floor. ‘La la la la…’

She gripped the ceiling beam and carefully lifted her right leg straight up, feeling the muscles stretch as she touched her toes to her right ear. ‘When she her sweet eye turneth, O, how my heart it burneth! Fa la la la la la la… Dear love call in their light, or else you–’

‘What the hell!’

The Raven froze. Two stable boys stood in the doorway, their eyes and mouths wide open.

There was a long, long silence. Then the Raven slowly lowered her arms to her sides. As if that had been a signal, they rushed forward. She leapt down back into the stall, and pressed herself into the back right corner. They stared at her over the door.

‘And what’re you supposed to be?’ one demanded.

‘Who, I, sir?’ she squeaked.

‘Yeah… You.’ The other boy leaned his arm over the stable door and made a grab at her.

The Raven blinked at him. ‘Me? I? Owr? Who?’

The first one peered more closely. ‘Coo, look at its eyes.’

The Raven looked nervously from face to face. ‘Chin-chin… chintz.’

‘What?’

She slid down against the wall into a sitting position and hugged her knees. ‘Master’ll be coming soon,’ she said, her voice slightly muffled.

‘Your master? Is he that man what just arrived? In the cart?’

‘Mmhm.’ She peered up at them, her eyes wide. ‘It’s a long road to the granaries. Granny granary. Granny. Grainy.’

There was a little pause. The boys looked at each other as the Raven began to rock from side to side, murmuring to herself.

‘Maybe she’s mad,’ said the first boy. ‘And they’re takin’ ’er to an asylum up north.’

‘She don’t look that mad.’

‘She’s rockin’ on the floor and moaning. That sound sensible to you?’

‘Well, no…’

The Raven looked up at them and smiled glassily. ‘Oh boy of boy to a boy for a boy. Hear the boy.’

‘I think maybe you ought to get her master,’ the first boy said, staring at the Raven as though she were a snake about to bite.

‘Na!’ The Raven abruptly uncurled herself and stood up. ‘Na, no Master, no Master. It’s not of the essence.’

The boys stared at her.

‘Na,’ the Raven whispered, her eyes going wide. ‘Not in essence, convalescence, effervescence, phosphorescence, fine of essence.’

‘If you don’t want us to get your master,’ the second boy said, ‘then stop… all this.’

‘All what?’

‘The strange stuff.’

‘Strange?’ The Raven’s voice rose to a high thin squeal. ‘Nothing strange, it’s an escape, it’s freedom, it’s cowardice, run the gauntlet, skip the gutter, not me, Master, wasn’t me, Master, who, Master? I, Master? Oh no, Master, not I!’

‘Stop it!’

‘Not me, Master, I’m good, Master, so good, learn to skip, learn to beg, to dance, to sing, to squawk, hybrid hybrid hybrid, me Master, yes Master, I know Master, all my fault, Master, but there’s fire, Master, it’s supposed to burn me, Master, meant to burn, supposed to burn, why doesn’t it burn, Master? Stop it Master, I’m–’

‘What the hell are you doing?’ Quennel shouted from doorway. He ran forward and yanked the boys away from the stall.

They stumbled backwards, gabbling in relief. ‘We didn’t do nothing, sir…’

‘We was just lookin’…’

‘We heard her…’

‘Then she just started screamin’…’

‘We were going to find you, sir…’

Quennel pulled the stall door open and, dragging the still-shrieking Raven up by her collar, slapped her hard on the face. Her wails stopped immediately and she blinked. Her eyes wandered before fixing on Quennel’s face. Quennel pushed her down into the far corner of the stall, where she huddled with her arms over her head.

‘What, exactly,’ Quennel said, turning to the stable boys, ‘happened?’

‘She – she just started talking and then she was screaming…’

‘An’ we didn’t do nothing, sir, honest we didn’t, we didn’t even touch her an’ we never went in the stall or nothin’, sir.’

Quennel’s face was set into a ferocious scowl. ‘Do you know what that is in there?’

‘No, sir.’

‘Good.’ He leaned forward. ‘If I catch you anywhere near her again, I’ll thrash you, and then I’ll speak to the landlord.’

‘Yes, sir,’ the boys said, inching their way towards the door. Quennel flapped a hand at them, and they ran out of the stable.

Quennel went back into the stall and squatted down on his heels in front of the Raven. ‘Raven,’ he said firmly.

The Raven hunched her shoulders higher and said nothing.

‘Raven.’

‘Yes, Master.’

‘Raven, look at me.’

She did so reluctantly. Quennel put a finger under her chin and tipped it upwards. ‘Hysterics, Raven?’

‘They were talking,’ the Raven muttered. ‘They were talking and looking and I didn’t like them, and – and one of them smelled and he smelled like – like beer and smoke and it wasn’t nice, and – and –’

‘Stop it!’

The Raven jerked her chin away and whispered, ‘Sorry, Master. Sorry. My fault. Sorry, Master.’

Quennel frowned. ‘Why wasn’t Morley with you?’

‘He was thirsty,’ she whispered. ‘So thirsty.’

Quennel got to his feet. ‘Stay, Raven. They won’t come back.’ He went out and locked the stall door behind him. He saw the Raven huddle down even deeper into her corner, and he strode out of the stable, yelling, ‘Morley!’

The Raven began to rock from side to side again, not knowing why she did so. She concentrated on the feel of the hard earthen floor beneath her, the smell of the straw and manure lingering in the air, the Sense of the horses’ heartbeats in the stalls next to her.

––––––

Comments on the characters appreciated, please. And if there’s any places where it’s in first when it should be third.
Last edited by Twit on Wed Dec 31, 2008 3:49 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:45 pm
happy-go-lucky says...



Yay! Chapter 2! I absolutely love this story! It's so different (in a good way :P)

Ok... On with the review! Nitpicks again, but I'll do a lovely rant about the characters after!

and we turned onto a smaller road


Switches from 3rd to 1st person here, probably just a typo though.

paint – clouds –


Personally, I don't think the word "clouds" is needed here - but that could be just me.

The cart jolted; Quennel swore.


At the start you said that Quennel cursed, so maybe say "swore again"?

Come with us and you will see – this our town of Halloween


I love the link made with Nightmare before Christmas here (plus i love the film so it's all good)! :D

Ok. Characters:

Quennel this guy is evil. Don't like him. But the way you describe his relationship with the Raven is very effective and you highlight his personality very well.

The Raven Definitely some signs of a sense of humour in there! But I think maybe you should make her a bit more wary of her master after he hits her. Maybe add in body movements like shaking or curling up away from him? Just something to show he's a scary person to be around I really like the sense of helplessness you give her and the way she was daydreaming about the clouds.

Morley We need to see a bit more of his character. How does he feel around Quennel? He's supposed to be sort of an evil sidekick person so is he scared of him or does he just sorta do what he says and grumble? Add a bit more to him.

Well that's all I got. Hope I've been of some help and PM me when you post more!

happy-go-lucky
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Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:27 am
PenguinAttack says...



TL G-Wooster wrote:It wasn’t thick enough to sit comfortably astride, so very carefully, holding onto the beam that ran above my head to the spine of the roof, she stood up.

“above my head” – first person.

She leapt down back into the stall, knees bent, and pressed myself into the back right corner. They stared at her over the door.

“pressed myself” – first person.


Oooh, Twitter, I really like this. Your description, particularly of the sky and the clouds was beautifully done. I didn’t like the way The Raven talked to the boys, well, just the “gimme gimme gimme...” bit. Of course, I’m not so familiar with her yet, and you know your characters better than I. ^^ But, it felt so... persistent... so different to how she’s been before, quiet and restrained.

I love The Raven, though. She’s a beautiful character, the sarcasm and intelligence do well, and I enjoyed her singing. I like the way she and others interact, there’s always this sense of wary acceptance of her fate.

Overall, your characterisation is done very well, we get distinct ideas about each character and how they are as social beings. Your description is lovely, as I mentioned, and you cover all the bases needed for me to delve into the narrative.

You’ve certainly something here that’s interesting and new to me. ^^ I look forward to the next instalment.

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Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:19 am
Clo says...



Hey Wooster! I really enjoyed the first part, so naturally I expect super awesomeness from this part as well.

Lying on her back, the Raven could see the sky burning bright blue above, like a wide, smooth bowl turned upside down. It was as though she were inside the bowl, looking up at the carefully glazed base

- First of all, gorgeous intro.
- Second, I feel like in this quoted excerpt that you're repeating yourself unnecessarily. "Like a wide, smooth bowl...", "It was as though she were inside the bowl".... I think you should combine these two sentences so you don't play off the bowl imagery twice, since these sentences felt separate in my head.
- Despite that, I love the bowl description.

The insertion of the Halloween song I found sort of strange, because I hadn't thought of this world as a contemporary world that matches ours. I sort of pictured this as either an alternate universe or some other world. I think if you want to use that song, you have to mention more contemporary items so it doesn't seem out of place. I don't THINK you've mentioned cars or earphones or anything like that, so like I said, the song seemed very strange to see.

The Raven rolled her eyes. ‘No, asen. I,’ – she pointed to herself – ‘a-am,’ – she spread her fingers wide – ‘flesh and blood.’ She gave a wide, exaggerated smile and blinked her eyes.

This confused me. Why is she talking like that?

I didn't notice anymore first person. But I absolutely adore the Raven. She's an absolutely adorable character, and I'm so glad you didn't give her a name because her title of Raven makes the story even better because it further dehumanizes her. I know eventually she'll probably get a name. I actually can't wait to read more of her character, because she is very intriguing.

Also, about the boy from the first chapter... does he make a return? I'm really hoping he does, because he seemed to have a lot of characterization and I would feel sort of upset if you put all that effort into him just having one scene. I did feel like we spent a lot of time with him, and I would like him to make another appearance, anyways!

Amazingly good story, Wooster... I can't wait for the next part! PM me if you have questions!

~ Clo
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Thu Oct 30, 2008 8:57 am
Fellow says...



Oh! here I am at the second part. First: Again well written and so. Nothing to say about your way of writing, but... *oh Jesus! Here she goes!*

It was warm with a[s] tiny [/s] wind that whipped up strands of the carthorse’s mane and blew dust into their eyes, making Quennel curse loudly. Morley blinked and said nothing.

- A "tiny" wind shouldn't be able to blow dust in their eyes and the whole thing... Change into, maybe, a harsh wind .

...making pictures of people and animals within themselves.

- You should continue with her thoughts: "Hmm... A dog, no, no! A pig! Maybe Morley in a bad mood." She giggled silently trying to not give away her joy.

...the [s]everlasting[/s] blue of the sky.

- Everlasting - about time. Maybe you should change it in never ending?

They all leaped back at the same time as one, creating a very comic effect. ‘Wha’…’

- You need to explain how the leaped back. You are the writer - You have the story in your mind but we have no actual idea of what you "saw" in that action.

Quennel pushed his face close to hers, the smell of beer leaving her a little dizzy.

- A little add there.

‘Yes. I mean, no…’

‘No what?’

‘No, master.’

- The question is "Do you hear?" so it should be:
No. I mean, yes..

Yes what?

Yes master.


That's all. Hope it helps. Luck!

-Akayl
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Sun Nov 02, 2008 11:13 am
olivia1987uk says...



The names really amuse me...I just keep saying "Quennel" to myself. It truly has a great sound...pointless message, sorry
Olivia
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Sun Nov 02, 2008 8:04 pm
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Nutty says...



Sorry this has taken a while, I've had the evillest cold and haven't bee able to think straight for days ><;


The other luggage included a leather trunk and a smaller crate containing two scrawny chickens who sat dispirited and silent, heads drooping.


carts and horses and coaches behind.

the two 'ands' disrupt the flow. Coaches are typically pulled by horses in any case, so maybe you could simply say 'carts and coaches'.

the dust too annoying,

I would suggest removing the 'too' here, it makes the statement seem childish.

The Raven nodded and sat down meekly. ‘Yes’m.’


'Yes'm' is short for 'yes ma'am'. Shouldn't it be 'yessir'?
under her brine-toughened soles


Does she soak her feet in vinegar or watery soup?


She leapt down back into the stall, knees bent, and pressed myself into the back right corner. They stared at her over the door.


you've mixed up third and first person, here.




He strode forward; the boys gulped, began to stammer excuses and I dropped down into a crouch on the floor.


And again, 'I' is first person.


The ending, the only thing I could think of is, wouldn't he have tied her back up, more secure this time? To leave her loose is to risk her escaping through a crack in the wall, the skylight, whatever.

Overall this is very very well written, and I love how you've given the Raven a childish side. Quennel and Morely are also developing, though I would suggest you don't let them totally slip into 'the fool and the greedy intelligent one' henchmen category.
The descriptions worked well and I found few mistakes. Again it was a pleasure to read. Just watch out for the first- person third-person thing, that seemed to be the only major flaw.

^^

-Nutty
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Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:05 am
Rubric says...



Something Elven deep inside the Raven made her crack open one eyelid and stare upwards


perhaps "something Elven" is too precise? I mean, I don't know The Raven's backstory, but generally this kind of thing is hinted at with "something inside her" or "something in her blod" etc. That it is so clearly defined as something Elven just seems a little blase for how elves are normally seen (although elves are obviously seen differently in this world).

Your characterisation is fantastic. You show how characters relate to one another and the world around them (especially the Raven) to a level I haven't seen in a long time.

Quick Q on the Raven name though. It's a touch cliche in a "sounding cool" kind of way. It certainly fits in well with your character and her situation, but I just wanted to make sure you were aware of the cliche.

and I love the Raven's style, she is a very likeable protagonist (if that is what she is), this is a novel that I would be engrossed in by now. I'm jealous.
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Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:43 pm
Rascalover says...



Once again I am loving this story, such uniqueness. There's something so raw about the Raven. The way you have describe her cloud watching is that of sheer talent. Most would add it to just pass time such as you maybe but looking up at the sky is boring to most, but you put up this imaginary wall of clearness across the sky showing the things people see while cloud watching.

Your characters are just meant for your story sooo.... neatly picked and choosen for such a story. And i forget to include im my review of 1.1 that Quennel is such controling towards the Raven forcing such thoughts into her head. Will she realize some one could love her??? Or even set her free???
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Sun Nov 30, 2008 1:09 am
Avens Dolor says...



Two

They left Londlow early the next day. It was warm with a tiny wind that whipped up strands of the carthorse’s mane and blew dust into their eyes, making Quennel curse loudly. Morley blinked and said nothing.

The Raven sat in the back of the cart, the lead attached to her collar tied to a large heavy crate that held most of Quennel and Morley’s clothes and possessions. The other luggage included a leather trunk and a smaller crate containing two scrawny chickens who sat dispirited and silent, heads drooping. "the other luggage included" is clumsy and the description of the chickens is either/or. Say that they're dispirited and silent or that their heads are dropping. We'll get the idea. Morley, wedged between the trunk and large crate, held a small canvas bag. Quennel sat on the seat up front, next to the carter whom he had hired to drive them to Selseaton. Why wouldn't they have their own cart? It would be more economical.

The cart rattled from side to side, first over the cobblestones of Londlow’s streets, then onto the road that led out of the city and into the countryside. Houses changed to hedges, and they turned onto a smaller road How do the first and second parts of this sentence connect to one another? Separate your ideas., leaving the traffic of carts and horses and coaches behind. The way ran ahead, divided into three parts: dusty grey earth rubbed bare by cart wheels and a strip of untouched grass in the middle.

Lying on her back, the Raven could see the sky burning bright blue above, like a wide, smooth bowl turned upside down. It was as though she were inside the bowl, looking up at the carefully glazed base. Smears of thick white paint – clouds – hung motionless in the blue, making pictures of people and animals within themselves.

She sighed and closed her eyes, feeling the hot floor of the cart press against her cheek. The sky was so beautiful. No matter what happened, the sky was always beautiful. Something Elven deep inside the Raven made her crack open one eyelid and stare upwards, momentarily dazzled by the everlasting blue of the sky. This is a sweet passage. But what do you mean my "something Elven"? I think I understand, but you should be more specific.

The cart jolted; Quennel swore again. Lazily but carefully, she the Raven reached out with her mind and felt for his thoughts. They were not interesting or even very coherent – a stream of grumbles and feelings: the seat was too hard, the sun too hot, the dust too annoying, and the carter too stupid. Then one solid thought formed: All right for the hybrid, cursed creature. The Raven Sensed him turn and scowl at her. Asleep, lazy beast.

She smiled smugly to herself and closed her eyes again. Quennel turned back, and, wriggling a little on the hard-boarded As opposed to "soft-boarded"?, jolting floor of the cart, the Raven went to sleep.

---

A sharp poke in her side awakened her a few hours later. The cart had stopped by an inn and the carter was getting down and unhitching the horse. Morley poked her again. ‘Get up.’

‘What’re we stopping for, Morley-sir?’ she asked, jumping stiffly down.

‘Drink and a rest.’

‘Do I get either of those?’

‘Rest, yes. Drink, if you’re good.’ Quennel wrapped her lead around his wrist and nodded to Morley. ‘Go and ask the landlord if we can borrow an extra stall.’

‘Stable stall?’

Yes, Morley, a stable stall. Say it’s for an exhibit. We can’t take it in with us, after all, can we?’

Morley shrugged and went into the inn. A few minutes later he was back. ‘He says it’s all right, so long as it ain’t anything what’ll scare ’is ’orses.’

‘Well, we’re fine there.’ Quennel handed my lead to Morley. ‘Go stable it. I’ll be inside. Make sure that it’s secure. No, wait – stay with it yourself.’

Morley opened his mouth to protest, shut it, bit his lip, and then asked, ‘Can I have a drink first?’

‘If you’re good.’ Quennel laughed and entered the inn.

Morley made a rude gesture at the inn door and led the Raven to the stable, which was a long, thin building attached onto the inn at the back. Inside it was light and airy, smelling of hay and leather and manure. A row of stalls ran against the right-hand side, and a ladder leading to a hayloft stood at the end.

Morley opened one of the stalls at the end and led the Raven in. He tied her lead to a ring set low in the wall and bolted the low door. Then he hesitated. She blinked owlishly at him. He sighed and said, ‘Behave. If you’re good, then I’ll bring you a drink. If you’re naughty, then you won’t get a drink and Quennel will beat you. Understand?’

The Raven nodded and sat down meekly. ‘Yes’m.’ Yes'm is short for "Yes Ma'am". Unless I'm mistaken, Morley is male.

Morley left. She the Raven. Every time you switch between characters you have to repeat their names. heard him close the stable door. After waiting a minute or two, she reached up and untied the lead. The horse in the stall next to her – a chestnut with a long, thin nose – gave her a cursory glance and then turned back to staring at the wall.

The Raven swung her lead around in the air, enjoying the whitt-whitt-whitt-whitt sound of whirling leather. There was a spider struggling to reach the top of the door. It slipped and swung on its thread, legs waving frantically. She caught it on her finger and stuck its thread on the wall. The spider caught and began to climb. It found a knothole and rested there a moment before continuing its journey. When it reached the sloping ceiling, it scuttled around aimlessly for a bit before settling down. It twitched a front leg triumphantly and began to spin.

The Raven wrapped the end of the lead around her wrist and put her hands on the wall that connected her stall to the empty one next to it. She hoisted herself up and swung a leg over the edge of the stall. It wasn’t thick enough to sit comfortably astride, so very carefully, holding onto the beam that ran above her head to the spine of the roof, she stood up. Her bare toes gripped the stall edge; she could just feel the rough wood under her brine-toughened soles.

Her next door neighbour turned his head as far as his halter would allow and stared at her, his ears flicking back and forth. Odd thing. Danger. Danger? Odd thing up. Big. Big? Man. Small. Cat? Bird? Odd thing. Danger.

Odd thing good, the Raven told him, a grin spreading over her face. She let go of the beam and spread her arms out. A half-buried memory floated to the surface of her mind; someone not so long ago, someone with long, kind hands and golden eyes and a seer’s mind…

She took a step forward and another, humming under her breath, then out loud: ‘Boys and girls of every age, wouldn’t you like to see something strange? Come with us and you will see – this our town of Halloween…’

A longer step and she stuck her leg out to one side. ‘This is Halloween, everybody make a scene. Trick or treat ’till the neighbours gonna die of fright…’ Wait... isn't this the Nightmare Before Christmas song?

She pivoted around and made a circle in the air with her arms. Then another step and she reached up to touch the ceiling beam. ‘I am the one hiding under your stairs; fingers like snakes and spiders in my hair.’

Her feet groped to find her balance, slipping a little. She swayed and recovered again. The stable was quiet; her high, quiet singing hardly disturbed the dust motes that danced in the rays of sunlight falling through the skylight onto the floor. ‘Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, Halloween…’

She gripped the ceiling beam and carefully lifted her right leg straight up, feeling the muscles stretch as she touched her toes to her right ear. ‘Tender lumplings everywhere, life’s no fun without a good scare! That’s our job but we’re not mean, in our town of –’

‘What the hell!’

The Raven froze. Four stable boys stood in the doorway, their eyes sticking out like they had goitre.

There was a long, long silence. Then the Raven slowly lowered her arms to her sides. As if that had been a signal, they rushed forward. She leapt down back into the stall, knees bent, and pressed herself into the back right corner. They stared at her over the door.

‘Gorblimey,’ one breathed.

‘Wha’ is it?’

‘It was singing…’

The Raven took a deep breath. ‘Singing is a very generous term.’

They leaped back, creating a very comic effect. ‘Wha’…’

‘Did it…?’

‘I thought…’

She stood up, went to the lower door and looked at them over the top. They stared at each other for a few minutes, then the biggest of the boys slowly reached out a hand. Very quickly and lightly, he touched her arm.

‘Flesh and blood,’ she said. I thought that she looked pretty much human except for her eyes? That information doesn't play into this scene at all.

‘Where?’ He snatched his hand back hurriedly.

The Raven rolled her eyes. ‘No, asen. I,’ – she pointed to herself – ‘a-am,’ – she spread her fingers wide – ‘flesh and blood.’ She gave a wide, exaggerated smile and blinked her eyes. Why does she stutter?

They goggled. She pointed with her chin to the red-haired one. ‘Pockets. Sandwich.’

Redhead frowned. ‘How’d you know what I got in my pockets?’

She smiled. ‘I smell mustard.’ Mustard seems misplaced. I know that it has a long history, but it still feels shockingly modern here.

‘Oh.’

‘Give me a bit.’

‘What? No!’

‘Go on,’ she wheedled. ‘Gimme. Gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme –’

‘Shut up!’

‘Gimme gimme gimme gimme –’

‘And just what is going on here?’ Quennel demanded. He strode forward; the boys gulped, began to stammer excuses and the Raven dropped down into a crouch on the floor.

‘We didn’t do nothing, sir…’

‘We was just lookin’…’

‘We heard it…’

‘Then it just started gabblin’…’

‘Never saw anything like it…’

‘It wanted my sandwich…’

Quennel yanked the stall door open and pulled the Raven up by her collar. He gripped her chin and turned her face up towards him. She looked at the floor and refused to meet his eyes. He frowned, then said to the boys, ‘Did you do anything to it? No,’ – sarcastically – ‘of course you didn’t.’

‘We didn’t, honest!’

Quennel flapped a hand at them. ‘Go away. If you fiddle with her again, I’ll see that you all lose your jobs.’

‘Oooh, sir!

‘Believe me, I will.’

‘Yes, sir.’ They left reluctantly, looking back and whispering.

Quennel tightened his grip. ‘What,’ he asked, ‘did you do?’

‘Nothing.’

He pressed her collar against her throat, his fingers digging into her neck. ‘What did you do?’

‘Nothing. I just… got up on the stall and… and sang.’

‘Sang? Sang about what?’

‘Jack Skellington,’ she muttered.

‘What?’

‘Jack Skellington,’ the Raven said, louder. ‘The Pumpkin King.’

Quennel pushed his face close to hers. ‘Talk properly,’ he said, each consonant sharp with precision.

‘I am. You just don’t know who Jack Skellington is.’ Okayyy this is way too random.

Quennel released her collar and hit her smartly across the face. She stumbled back into the far corner, her hand pressed against her cheek.

‘Don’t speak to me like that again.’ Quennel pointed a finger at her. ‘Do you hear? Don’t you ever speak to me like that again.’

‘Yes. I mean, no…’

‘No what?’

‘No, master.’

‘Good.’ He opened the door and went out, bolting it shut after him.

The Raven stared up at the ceiling. The spider had begun a web, weaving and gluing silk like the whole world depended on it.


---

The characters seem to be developing fairly well. No real comments on any of them as I think that they're getting across the vibe you intend them to. The Nightmare Before Christmas stuff is just weird and doesn't work. At all. Sorry.





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Sat Dec 20, 2008 9:37 pm
Rydia says...



The cart rattled from side to side, first over the cobblestones of Londlow’s streets, then onto the road that led out of the city [You need either 'and' here or a comma.] into the countryside. Houses changed to hedges, and they turned onto a smaller road, leaving the traffic of carts and horses and coaches behind. The way ran ahead, divided into three parts: dusty grey earth rubbed bare by cart wheels and a strip of untouched grass in the middle.


‘What’re we stopping for, Morley-sir?’ she asked, jumping stiffly down.
[I don't like stiffly here. It might be just the change of syntax that makes it so prominent and jarring but I think it could be added as a separate sentence (describing her stretching would suggest she is stiff etc) or perhaps just left out.]

Morley opened one of the stalls at the end and led the Raven in.
[End is a touch repetetive, I'd suggest '...one of the far stalls and led...']

Your transition to third person is very smooth and I love this chapter no less than I did the last version. More in fact. The 'pockets' dialogue is smoother and no longer seems like a Lord of the ring's reference or a random jump so good work there and as for your characters, they're as good as ever though the young boys could be more individual in their reactions and speech and such. They're a little too same same for me.
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Sun Dec 28, 2008 3:08 pm
Rosendorn says...



The Raven sat in the back of the cart, the lead attached to her collar tied to a large heavy crate that held most of Quennel and Morley’s clothes and possessions.


Something is missing between "collar" and "tied." Eithe an and or a comma.

The way ran ahead, divided into three parts: dusty grey earth rubbed bare by cart wheels and a strip of untouched grass in the middle.


Don't you mean two parts?

It was as though she were inside the bowl, looking up at the carefully glazed base.


I don't really like the "it was as though" at the beginning of the sentence. It doesn't do anything for the imagery.

Quennel turned back, and, wriggling a little on the rough, jolting floor of the cart, the Raven went to sleep.


What actions are the Raven's and what actions are Quennel's?

‘Stable stall?’


You put the tag in the next line. The way this was phrased, I thought the Raven had said this.

‘He says it’s all right, so long as it ain’t anything what’ll scare ’is ’orses.’


Really thick accent here. Hard to understand.

Morley left.


I thought he was supposed to stay with the Raven.

A half-buried memory floated to the surface of her mind; someone not so long ago, someone with long, kind hands and golden eyes and a seer’s mind…


Who is she thinking about? Why does it make her think of a song?

The Raven blinked at him. ‘Me? I? Ow? Who?’


Ow? Why Ow?

‘Did it…?’

‘I thought…’


What are they talking about? The fact that it blinked?

Interesting. After the beginning I thought this story would take a very different turn. Like, Gilbert doing something about the Raven's captivity, but you've chosen to focus on the Raven. I must ask: does the Raven's captivity end soon? If she's so submissive to Quennel's abuse and this is just following the freakshow going though town after town, why bother reading? I'd like to see a glimmer of hope soon.

I couldn't see any places where it's in first and should be in third.

I like the Raven, but it's getting... boring, seeing how submissive she is without a reason other then she's completely under Quennel's power.

Hope I helped!
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Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:20 pm
JFW1415 says...



The promised critique! Sorry it's so late. I don't like doing nit-picks, and you wanted comments on the characters, so I suppose I'll talk about them for a bit?

Raven

The Raven is a very good character. She feels very 3-D. However, I don't know why she doesn't escape. I suppose it's fine to not explain just yet, but you should give a reason eventually – she had an opportunity to leave, so why didn't she? Even if the world around her would hate her, she could always return to the other hybrids – or couldn't she?

Also, when she started the rambling, I thought she was just fooling around – confusing the boys. But then the master came back and she acted the same. Since she was sarcastic last chapter, I assumed that she was intelligent enough, and that she knew what she was saying. But she seemed to get out of control here – is there a reason?

Quennel

Love him. No complaints.

Morley

I think he could be expanded on a bit more? I can see that he's going to be the weak one, and you've shown that well, but it seems he never gets any 'camera time'. He's often there, but you never seem to mention him. Don't only focus on Quennel – there are two of them.

Stable Hands

I loved these characters, but they seemed to act as one. Was that intentional, to show the general public's reaction or something? If not, work on separating them more. I never knew who was talking – they were just two faceless stable boys with no distinction. Try to give them their own personalities.

Gilbert

I was actually hoping we'd go back to Gilbert this chapter. I'm assuming he will come back – probably break the Raven free or something – since he was the first character and such, and I'd really like to see flashes of him in his absence. Just quick little scenes of his normal life, leading up to when he comes back – if he does? I hope he does. But I really got the feeling that he was missing this chapter.

I really loved it. Feel free to visit my thread to ask for more critiques any time – this stories wonderful. :)

~JFW1415








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