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Golden Bird, Red Fox: Chapter five

by Ventomology


Office work was calming, especially after such chaos. The windows of Braxton’s office were shuttered behind him, letting in just the right amount of light to clear away shadows.

Sighing, he picked up a new stack of papers to file them. There was a receipt for an overdue portrait of his mother and father, as well as one for his mother’s new wardrobe. He flipped through them, taking note of keywords until he reached a slip that read ‘Wizard Threnton, paid in full for the fertilizer to turn apples golden.’

Using a finger to hold its place, Braxton pulled the receipt out. He had scanned it halfway before breathing sharply.

“We paid in just a goose, a horse, and some… wood?” Braxton muttered. He blinked and reread the paper. There it was, marked as paid about a week prior. “What in the world?” Braxton said, “And who knew we used fertilizer to make the apples do that?” Shrugging, he replaced the bill and filed the receipts away in an open binder. Then he pushed himself from his chair and slid the binder onto one of his many shelves.

He had begun fingering the bindings of other books and whatnot when his double doors creaked open.

“Ah, you’re in here,” said Gordon softly. His huge frame looked strangely small in the light from the hallway. Maybe the doors were too tall. “Father is looking for us.”

Braxton drew away from the shelves reluctantly, his fingers lingering on the books’ spines. Following his older brother, a giant of a man with the same black hair and lightly tanned skin as the rest of the family, he soon arrived in the parlor.

His father cleared his throat before glancing at the queen, who sat demurely at a cherry wood piano. “Sons, I must make an announcement.” He rocked on his heels and glanced about at the red velvet furniture. “Since all of you failed to catch the golden bird, I am sending you out to find it once again. Gordon will leave first thing tomorrow.”

Twitching his eyebrows, Braxton watched his older brother. “Father, if I may.” He waited for a nod of approval before continuing. “Why send Gordon? Doesn’t he have a fiance to attend to? As both he and I are preoccupied with more important matters, why not just send Ferrell?”

The queen turned stiffly to her husband, not a hint of emotion in her eyes.

“No,” the king said, “Gordon will leave first, and if he comes home empty-handed, he will not inherit the throne. Our conference is finished, go back to your earlier activities.” He shoved the three brothers aside before accidentally stubbing his toe on a couch and limping out of the room.

“That’s rather unusual,” Ferrell said, staring blankly at the door.

Gordon nodded, a grimace on his face. “I don’t want to go,” he blurted, “I want to stay here, or go to Avondale to see Theresa.”

“Really?” Ferrell said, his voice suddenly cheeky, “you mean you don’t want to bring Lady Avondale a golden bird as a present? I think she’d love it, you know.”

“Ferrell!” Braxton castigated, “don’t go there!”

The red and black theme of the parlor darkened. Velvet turned to miniscule spines poking out from furniture. The piano’s lid slammed shut as the queen closed the lid, sending an ominous echo through the room.

“And think of all the stories you could tell her!” Ferrell continued. His brown eyes gleamed dangerously. “Imagine sitting with her before your wedding, describing a swordfight between you and an evil count who had captured the bird before you reclaimed it! She’ll be thrilled!”

“Stop it, Ferrell!” Braxton said sharply, watching his mother leave the room with his peripheral vision, “don’t go encouraging this!”

“Oh please, Braxton,” Ferrell said, “don’t tell me you wouldn’t want to go on an adventure. And what if that fox that you claim is the lost heir of Trador is connected to it all? Maybe you could actually achieve something!”

“I can solve that without risking my life or title on a bird,” Braxton seethed.

“Stop!”

Braxton and Ferrell shut up, gawking at their eldest brother.

“I-I’ll try to catch the golden bird.” Gordon’s broad shoulders slumped, making his suit look depressing and tight.

“You don’t have to go,” Braxton said, stepping towards his older brother, “we can overrule our father’s order. Be happy with Lady Avondale.”

“It’s alright,” Gordon said. He looked up to grin at his younger brothers before quietly walking out of the parlor as well.

Ferrell followed suit, beaming victoriously. After a minute of frantic contemplation, Braxton left as well, heading towards the stables.

He rode bareback that day, feeling the rocking of his mare’s shoulders as she galloped along a forest trail.

“Fox! Randall? Fox!” Braxton yelled, desperately wishing the fox would show up already. He nudged his horse’s sides, slowing her down a touch before calling again. “Randall!”

“You called?” said a scratchy voice. The fox slinked extravagantly onto the riding trail, grinning like a madman.

“I did,” Braxton said, leaning forward and patting his horse’s neck. She stopped moving and snorted. “I need your help, Randall–that is your name, right?–because my older brother has agreed to go on a quest to recapture the golden bird, and he’s going to lose his inheritance if he fails!”

The fox settled onto its haunches and cocked its head. “Um, the answer to your question is that I don’t know if my name is Randall. The name is familiar and,” the fox trailed off and lifted one leg to duck his head and get a better look at himself, “I appear to be male. But I can’t say for sure. I might be Randall. Who knows? And second thing, sure. I’ll help your brother.”

“Oh thank you,” Braxton breathed, nearly falling off his horse. Maybe a saddle would have been a good idea.

“But I have to wonder,” the fox said, “why are you asking me to help him? Wouldn’t his failure place you in line for the throne?”

Nodding, Braxton explained that he didn’t want to end up going on the adventure should his brother fail.

“Oh. I understand. Say! Would you like to spy while your brother does this quest thingy?”

“No thank you,” Braxton said, frowning disapprovingly.

“Your loss.” The fox shrugged and jumped to his feet. “Oh, and you can call me Randall if you want. I kind of want to have a real name, even if it might be someone else’s.” He swished his white-tipped tail and dived back into the flora. “If you need me again, just call,” said the fox’s voice, “I’ll probably hear you. Or smell your distress, either way works.” He popped his head out from a fern further into the forest. “Bye, Prince!”

His worries mostly displaced, Braxton turned his horse around and spurred her to gallop back to the stables.

At home, the tension had only grown stronger. Everyone had something on their minds, and Braxton had no doubt what each of his family members was thinking.

Dinner was devoid of any sound except the clinking of tableware. The queen looked almost depressed, probably for the first time in her life, and the king radiated an air of anger. Neither of Braxton’s brothers attempted to make conversation, and for once, the awkwardness of the dining room decorating matched the feeling of the room.

“Father,” Braxton started, “why is catching the golden bird so important to you?”

The man dropped his silverware, sending a metallic clatter through the room. “You do not need to know,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Alright,” Braxton said, gently setting down his fork, “but at least explain why we pay such strange things for the fertilizer to make our apples golden.”

Nothing moved in the dining room. Even the servants had frozen.

“Who knows,” Braxton’s father said, “the wizards ask for odd things, and we often provide them. Now shut up or I’ll send you first.”

Taking a deep breath, Braxton picked up his fork again and pushed roast duck around his plate until his mother excused him.


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Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:50 pm
AstralHunter wrote a review...



Salutations.

I now understand why Braxton dislikes his family so much; his younger brother is an egotist, his older brother is... uhm... my point exactly, his mother is indecisive and his father is downright unreasonable. I still do not see why catching this bird is so important. And I still feel like conking Ferrell over the head.


Sighing, he picked up a new stack of papers to file them.

Is the Royal Family really so poor that they cannot even hire a treasurer to handle their finances for them?

“We paid in just a goose, a horse, and some… wood?”

Not only poor, but stingy as well.

“Ah, you’re in here,” said Gordon softly. His huge frame looked strangely small in the light from the hallway. Maybe the doors were too tall. “Father is looking for us.”

I suppose Gordon is one of those "gentle giants", yes?

The queen turned stiffly to her husband, not a hint of emotion in her eyes.

Just for the sake of clarification, does Braxton's mother have the same question, or is she simply interested in what her husband's reaction will be?

“No,” the king said, “Gordon will leave first, and if he comes home empty-handed, he will not inherit the throne.

As I said, rather unresonable of him, and I still cannot comprehend why.

Our conference is finished, go back to your earlier activities.”

Is this their father's idea of a conference? It seems more like a autocracy to me.

“And think of all the stories you could tell her!” Ferrell continued. His brown eyes gleamed dangerously.

I am not sure whether he has realised it, but Ferrell's teasing has gone from mischievous to malicious.

Maybe you could actually achieve something!”

Malice: a desire to harm others or to see others suffer; extreme ill will or spite.

“Ferrell!” Braxton scolded, “don’t go there!”

Scold is a verb appropriate for what a parent does when a child has misbehaved; if Braxton is reacting as vehemently to Ferrell as I would have, castigate would have been more effective at illustrating the severity of the situation. (castigate: to criticise or reprimand severely)

Ferrell followed suit, beaming victoriously.

I shall not murder other authors' characters. I shall not murder other authors' characters. I shall not...

He rode bareback that day, feeling the rocking of his mare’s shoulders as she cantered along a forest trail.

If I sense the urgency of the text correctly, then galloping would have worked better.

“You called?” said a scratchy voice. The fox slinked extravagantly onto the riding trail, grinning like a madman.

Hmm... strange - I only now realised that I would have written velvety. Luckily, there is no rule that states everyone must do things similarly.

“I need your help, Randall–that is your name, right?–because my older brother has agreed to go on a quest to recapture the golden bird, and he’s going to lose his inheritance if he fails!”

Remember to leave spaces before and after dashes.

The man dropped his silverware, sending a metallic clatter through the room. “You do not need to know,” he said matter-of-factly.

I - and certainly the other inquisitive readers - should like to have that question answered also.


This chapter is as well-written as the previous, but whereas they left me displeased with the characters' attitudes, this one leaves me with a continuation of a thought I expressed earlier in my review: I shall not murder other authors' characters. I shall not murder other authors' characters. I. Shall. Not. Murder. Other. Authors'. Characters...

Rating for this text: four stars (frustrating excellent)




Ventomology says...


Eh... yes. You will see why the golden bird is important. That's actually the part I've just started writing!
As for all your word replacements: thank you so much! I wish my vocabulary was as good as yours. *cries*
Again, thanks for the fabulous review!



AstralHunter says...


My vocabulary is adequate, actually, but thank you anyway - I mostly rely on a my thesaurus for synonyms. ;)



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Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:23 pm
TimmyJake wrote a review...



Timmy here for a review!!

Thank you for pointing this out! I would have missed out completely and never know what happened. Lets not think about that sad thought, though!:D

Nitpicks

Might as well get started right away, right? :D

Our conference is finished, go back to your earlier activities.” He shoved through the three brothers before accidentally stubbing his toe on a couch and limping out of the room.


Ok, so I am sorry I pulled out such a big chunk of it, but I have some nitpicking on it! Firstly, I think the first sentence should be either changed around a little bit, or split up into two sentences. Just add a so to the middle and it would change it so that it works out.

My next nitpick is that shoving doesn't really sound right. It might it he shoved them aside, but shoving through them doesn't sound right. Maybe he pushed through them? Or he shoved them aside?

“You don’t have to go,” Braxton said, stepping towards his older brother, “we can overrule our father’s order. ---That sentence should be more than one! I will rewrite it for you so you see what I mean.


"You don't have to go," Braxton said. He stepped towards his older brother. "We can overrule our father's order." ---That would keep it a little smoother and make the sentences how they are supposed to be. :D


The name is familiar and,” the fox trailed off and lifted one leg to duck his head and get a better look at himself, “I appear to be male. ---If you don't mind, I will rewrite this one for you too.


The name is familiar and--" the fox trailed off and lifted on leg to duck his head and get a better look at himself-- "I appear to be male. ---I know I didn't change much. It's not much of a nitpick, really.


“Who knows,” Braxton’s father said, “the wizards ask for odd things, and we often provide them. ---Another part where you need to split it up into two sentences. I don't think I have to rewrite it for you, though... After the bolded word, put a period.


Raving time and Style!

Ok, so I am loving your story now! It is getting so suspenseful and I can just imagine that life in the olden days was very similar to that! :D This part might be a tad short, but it won't be because I think it has more good than bad in it!

In fact, this is really awesome! I am loving your character, and how you are building him so well. Your descriptions are awesome. I find the fox, Randall, to be quite strange, but still funny in his own crude way... Great job all around! I am off to review the next chapter!
~Timmyjake




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Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:05 pm
Dreamer84 wrote a review...



I really enjoyed this chapter. Sadly I haven't had time to read the previous ones so some parts were a little confusing for me. But no matter it was a great story anyway. The first paragraph could use some revisions because it was kind of a mouthful and very confusingly worded. I think that you have a great plot working for you. I agree with Magenta it's a creative title. I am interested to know why the king wants this bird so much it spikes my interest. Another thing I don't understand is why is the queen always seem so mad towards everyone. I think that you need to refraise when Braxton is coming out of the office following his older brother. It seems like the little brother just showed up (it might have just been my reading). Overall I think you have a wonderful story going for you and it is very descriptive and has a lot of imagery tied into it. I could see it very clearly. I think that you need to refraise the part with Randall because at the end when you call him 'Prince' it seems like you added information that doesn't need to be there because it's already implied in the story. (is it just me or when you think of the fox speaking it sounds like the snake off of the jungle book movie...) sorry random thought :p or you need to give more detail in it to make it not seem forced. I love this chapter I can't wait to go back and read the others. Good Job, Good Luck, and Keep on Writing :)




Ventomology says...


Thank you!



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Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:22 pm
Magenta wrote a review...



Hello! This is Magenta here to review your fifth chapter in Golden Bird, Red Fox. I like the title, by the way. I think that this has been produced by a very skilled person and I am quite glad to be the first to review it. I just have a few suggestions and comments to make. Most things in here are pretty minot and are a matter of typos and missed punctuation marks. Little things that don't add up to the great parts of the story. I do have to ask you to excuse my common assumptions that may be placed in here because I haven't exactly read each of these chapters. If I have anything wrong here with the pot, it's probably because I don't understand the whole thing. Just ignore those part, though I try to stop myself from commenting on things like that if they come up.

"The windows of Braxton’s office were shuttered behind him, letting in just the right amount of light to clear away shadows" I would just suggest placing a period at the end of your sentence so that the sentence can be punctuated correctly.

"Using a finger to hold its place to hold its place, Braxton pulled the receipt out." Just make sure that you delete the repeated part of the sentence because it seems like you repeated "to hold its place". I find that I do that sometime when I am not even thinking or I forget where I was. I would just consider changing that if you haven't thought so yet.

I wasn't sure if the language of the fox was quite appropriate. Most fox or foxes are portrayed as sly, cunning, and deceitful. Here, it just seems that he is to nice, carefree, and casual. The dialogue and conversation that Braxton has with him seems to friendly when Braxton should be stressed. The fox, I would imagine, would not care about his name as much, but I think that if you don't want to change that, it doesn't change much. This was just my opinion.

There really isn't much else to say with this story. I think that it will go far and I like the idea of the hunt and conflict/ curiosity that spurs throughout it. I can't wait to seem some more of your work circulating though out YWS because you have a great way with words.

~ Magenta




Ventomology says...


Oh wow... I can't believe I didn't catch those mistakes! Thanks a bunch! And I do have my reasons on the fox, so... Thanks again!




We do have funerals for the living. They're called birthday parties.
— Jill Biden (fictitiously), Hope Never Dies