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Scolopendra

by Stormcloud


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.

It snowed the day Caden and his colleagues graduated from training. Big, fluffy flakes floated from the pearly gray sky and began to blanket the training field where they stood. It was cold and their thin, military issue jackets did little to keep the trainees warm. Caden’s fingers were deathly white, and he squeezed his hand into a fist as he waited for his commanding officer to finish with his graduation speech.

“- And with that, my final words are choose your factions wisely. You have all trained hard and well, and I expect to see many of you doing well in the capitol in the years to come. Congratulations. Tomorrow you’ll choose your faction straight after breakfast. I wish you all luck in your new lives. You will be adults tomorrow.” Commander Haas finished his speech and said, “You are free to enjoy your last night as trainees.”

The trainees broke formation and Caden met Finn on the way to their cabin. Finn’s already pale face was almost luminous in the meager winter evening light. “Do you want to go to the mess hall? I heard that they were keeping it open late tonight.”

Caden didn’t really want to go, but Finn’s hopeful eyes made him agree. He nodded and their boots crunched through a thick layer of frost to get to the mess hall. Inside it was warm and the dull roar of conversation washed over Caden; he allowed Finn to lead him to a table and they sat down.

“What faction are you going into, Caden?” A boy asked. “I’m sure your scores are good enough to get you into the Military Police.”

It was true, Caden’s scores were good enough to get into the Military Police, but that wasn’t the reason he decided to join the military. “I’m going into the Scouts,” he said, hoping that the topic would be left alone.

“The Scouts?” someone said. “Do you have a death wish?” The whole table murmured their agreement.

Caden’s gaze turned icy cold, “I wouldn’t expect people like you to understand. The Scouts actually help people. The Garrison just sit around getting drunk instead of doing their job and the Military Police is full of cowards and slackers.”

Finn’s face paled, “You can’t say that, Caden!” he hissed. “What if someone heard you? That’s treason!”

Caden waved him off, “None of the officers heard me,” he assured Finn who pursed his lips. Caden turned his attention to the rest of the table. No one said anything for a minute; he stood, pushing his chair back with him, “Come on, Finn. I’m tired.”

Wordlessly he started walking away, hearing all too clearly the squeak of Finn’s chair against the wooden floorboards and the sound of his hurried footsteps chasing after Caden. He could almost imagine her, his mother, scolding her for treating Finn the way he did. Like a puppy that was all too happy to follow, no matter how badly treated. He wanted to protest. Finn didn’t mind, he knew that Caden didn’t do it on purpose. But the one who was scolding him wasn’t there and telling Finn would be an apology unasked for.

Halfway to the cabin was when Finn finally caught up, a gloved hand touching Caden’s shoulder. Caden kept walking, but slowed down, Finn fell into step with him, his shorter legs matching Caden’s stride for stride.

The cabin was little more than a shack, ill suited for the cold winters. Its wooden slats had darkened to a strange gray, the thin door squeaked, and if left to swing closed, it would do so with a loud clack.

That door was what announced Caden and Finn’s arrival to the cabin. Even though their breath no longer froze to vapor, inside was not much warmer than out. Thankfully, the cabin was equipped with a tiny wood stove not meant for cooking, but for warming the tiny building. A dwindling stack of logs leaned against the pewter stove, Caden grabbed two and opened the tiny grate setting them inside. He struck the steel for the spark that would set the logs alight. Sure enough, he was able to coax a tiny flame from the first spark.

“I’m sorry, Caden,” Finn said.

“Whatever for, Finn?” Caden asked, moving to sit down on his own bed.

“I didn’t stand by you. I should have. We’re all we have now,” Finn’s pale blue eyes glinted in the soft glow coming from the stove, the fire must have taken off.

Caden should've told Finn that there was nothing to apologize for. That he was the one that should apologize. Caden shouldn’t treat Finn so cruelly. But he said nothing, Finn knew Caden never meant it.

But he didn’t know! He didn’t because Caden never told him. Though Caden knew this, he kept those feelings to himself. They were too precious to speak out into the air. They could float away and be lost to him forever.

They sat there in silence, the only sound being that of the fire. Caden could almost hear the sound of the snow falling outside. Each flake landing with the barest of brushes against its brothers. Caden’s eyes burned, he was awful. Terrible. Finn deserved better. He closed his eyes, heat pressing from behind his eyelids, tears spilling and warming his cold cheeks.

What next? He was done with training. What if he did die? Was he really at peace with that? He shifted to lie down, opening his eyes and letting the tears run down his face. He could feel Finn’s eyes on him. Hurriedly, he wiped the tears away and dried his eyes. Strong, he had to be strong for Finn. He always had and he always would be.

After the thunk of boots being kicked to the floor and the shuffling of blankets Finn mumbled sleepily, “Good night.”

As quietly as he could, Caden did the same; taking off his boots and setting them on the floor. He maneuvered under his own covers and whispered goodnight as well, falling asleep to Finn’s steady breaths.

Thenext morning Caden awoke on his own. It was chilly, the fire having gone out hours ago. He wiped at his eyes and slowly slipped out from underneath the covers wincing at the cold.

Changing clothes would have been absolutely unbearable in the cold, so Caden settled for a change of socks instead. Peeling off his day old socks proved to be agonizing; he recoiled at the cold air hitting his warm skin. Quickly, he pulled on a clean pair of socks and shoved his feet into his boots, lacing them up as quickly as he was able.

His cloak - strewn carelessly beside his bed - was resituated around his shoulders, the hood pulled up over his head. Taking care not to let the door slam, Caden stepped outside. He sighed, his breath hanging in the air for a moment before dissipating.

Caden stepped down from the porch, his boots crushing the freshly fallen snow. Regret twinged in his stomach at the thought of ruining the glittering white field that lay before him. But he went forward, each footstep sinking into the pillowy cushion beneath him. He turned east, the sun peeking out from behind the Aurren mountains. He could see ice glittering from miles away, the sun glowing a pinky orange. The sky was tinted the same color, painting the mountains below.

He half smiled before turning slightly to face the capital, the highest peak. Fluaupt. The city carved into the very mountain, the castle reaching out into the sky. He would live. He would fight. And he would kill every last scolopendra that lived on this earth.

Before he could think anything else a voice pierced through the silence that had settled around him. “Caden, how long have you been up?”

Caden turned around, Finn’s pale, golden hair was dusted over with melting snowflakes. He sneezed and Caden realized that Finn wasn’t wearing a cloak, not even his thin training jacket. “Not long,” Caden replied, leading Finn back to the cabin. “You forgot your cloak,” Caden said, his voice almost on the verge of scolding.

“Ah,” hummed Finn. “So I did.” Caden handed Finn’s cloak to him and Finn pulled it over his shoulders, hooking the metal clasp.

“Let’s go,” Caden’s green eyes shone. “They’ll be serving breakfast soon.” And after that, the time would come to choose factions.

Finn hushed him, “Caden, be quiet. There are still people asleep.”

Caden nodded and they both went outside, retracing footsteps to the middle of the snowy white clearing. The sun had just cleared the mountains and was shining a warm orange triumphantly, as if it didn’t rise over those same mountains every morning. “Come on, I’m getting hungry.”

Finn nodded and walked alongside Caden, a lone bird sang from just inside the forest to the left of them. Another bird answered, a third bird called from right beside Caden. He looked over, startled, only to find Finn whistling with the other birds. Caden laughed and Finn smiled, his eyes crinkling like always.

Inside, the mess hall was mostly empty, only a few trainees were up early. All of them were those who would be choosing a faction that day. The smell of cooking meat wafted through the air and Caden’s mouth flooded with saliva. Meat; a rare treat.

“Mmm,” Finn groaned. “That’s good… It must be for graduation, I suppose it’s a good thing. The Scout headquarters is a long ride away from here; we’re going to need the strength.” Finn’s face turned sour.

Caden laughed, “Poor Finn. Doesn’t like riding does he?”

Finn tried to scowl but his eyes were bright. “Don’t tease me!”

Before Caden could reply, a cook called out, “Breakfast is now being served!” The two boys joined the small line of cadets waiting for food. Soon the mess hall would be stuffed to the brim with trainees, but for now they could enjoy their food in peace.

Their breakfast was meat and bread and the last of the summer berries, also a rare treat. Not much grew so high in the mountains, but Caden could remember a time when he could have berries any time he pleased. The weather was not so cold, the soil not so rocky. Remembering that time filled him with a warmth, fuzzy around the edges. A slight smile tugged at his lips.

Beside him, Finn was slowly eating the berries; savoring each tiny bite of sweetness, his teeth were stained a red purple. He remembered too. His face softening like a child’s. When was the last time such a precious memory had come to Caden and he hadn’t hidden it away?

Both of them savored their breakfast; it filled their stomachs with a comforting weight. Caden sat back in his seat with a satisfied sigh. Despite his stomach being full, it was suddenly empty and he was cold. “Are you nervous?” he asked, leaning slightly against Finn. His thin but warm body soothing him.

“I don’t really know,” Finn stated. “A little, I guess. I try not to fret about things before they happen.”

Caden nodded, “I know, and then when it’s happening you lose your mind.”

“Don’t say that,” Finn admonished. “I do not.”

“Yes you do.”

“No I do not!”

One of their roommates sat down across from Finn, “I don’t know what it is that you two are arguing about, but Caden is probably right. He knows you too well.” Marijn was tall and complected like most Aurreni: pale skinned, pale haired, and pale eyed. He was tall and his hair was cropped just above his ears. He smiled good naturedly, “You both are going into the Scouts, right?”

I nodded, “We are.”

“But I thought your score was good enough to get into the Military Police. Are you going into the Scouts to stay with Finn?” he asked, pale eyebrows were drawn close to his eyes, creating a wrinkle between them.

“We joined with the goal of ultimately joining the scouts,” Finn said, effectively cutting Caden off. “Neither of us planned on joining the Military Police in the first place.”

Marijn nodded, “I understand. Duty and all that,” he said it as if Caden was just another star struck child who thought he could save the world.

Caden clenched his teeth, “That’s not why,” he said, struggling to find the right words. “Duty isn't a childish thing.” He stood, placing his hands on the table."I grew up in refugee camps because of the scolopendra. It's my duty to make sure it never has to happen to anyone else." Finn placed a hand on Caden’s shoulder, pulling him down.

“That’s enough, Caden.”

“You haven’t seen them either. Not really. I watched as she died, Finn!”

Finn’s face broke. It shattered into a million tiny pieces and it was all Caden’s fault. And the worst thing? Caden didn’t even feel bad. “I’m sorry,” Finn whispered. He was always sorry, sorry for things that were Caden’s fault.

They fell silent, Marijn left, Caden rested his head on the table, and Finn didn’t once look at Caden. Minutes passed and the dining hall filled steadily, the quiet murmur of conversation growing into an amalgamation of hundreds of voices. More people joined their table.

Over the commotion of the room a voice rose above the others, hushing the graduates. The voice belonged to a tall, thin man with pale hair and sallow skin, “The time has come for you to choose which of the three military factions you will enter into, I am Commander Groser of the Military Police. I will begin by calling the names of those eligible to join our ranks. Ivo Acker, Wilma Dunn, Erhard Daehler, Nikola Granger, Oskar Gottlieb-” Though the list really wasn’t that long, Caden still didn’t pay any attention until the sound of his own name pulled him out of his head, “Caden Muerr.” He startled and looked around, everyone’s eyes were on him. When the next name was called, he breathed a sigh of relief.

After the last name was called, a different kind of silence fell upon the room but it was quickly broken by the sound of another voice. A woman this time, beautiful and terrible, her face pretty yet commanding, “Adela Bauer, Commander of the Garrison. All of those who would like to join the Garrison may leave and begin to pack their belongings. I expect you to behave like soldiers,” she raised her voice as trainees began to get up and start talking, the crowd hushed again at her words. She stepped away and the last of the commanders took her place, Commander Schaefer.

He was small, unassuming, and dark, nothing like the other commanders who were fair skinned and exuded authority. His eyes roved the room, surveying what was left of the trainees. “So this is what I get this year,” he muttered. He took a sauntering step forward, a wry grin on his face, as if he was used to being disappointed. “More than last year, and if I’m right I’ll have two top scorers… Go and pack your things, we’ll meet by the stables and head out once everyone arrives.” Slowly, everyone began to stand, but were hastened by the sharp, “Hurry!”

Together, Caden and Finn stood, following the few trainees left out the door. The cold outside air hit them like a brick wall, but it only invigorated Caden, breathing in the crisp air. “Come on, Finn!”

Finn’s stoic facade broke and his grin brightened his entire face, he raced after Caden, laughing, “Wait up!”

“Never!” Caden shouted back. Together, they stumbled up the steps to the cabin breathless and laughing. They fought over who got to get in the door first, Finn managed to squeeze through laughing.

“I win!”

“Come on, let’s get packing,” Caden said, kneeling at the chest behind his bed, its hinges creaking as he opened it. Finn nodded and began to open his own chest. Caden didn’t have many belongings: a few shirts and a couple pairs of pants, his military jacket and cloak, his razor, and a small golden band that had been his mother’s wedding ring.

All of it went into his bag, excluding his jacket and cloak, which he would wear on the journey to the Scout’s base. “You done?” he asked Finn.

“Mhmm,” Finn hummed, shutting the chest. They stood and looked at each other, eyes meeting. Finn pursed his lips, “Are you scared, Caden?”

Caden shook his head, “No, but it’s okay if you are.”

Finn’s face flushed with something like embarrassment hand he shook his head emphatically, “No, I’m okay. Let’s just go.”

Caden nodded and began walking to the door, pausing to take one last glance around the room that had been his home for the past four years. Finn place a hand on his shoulder and the walked out together, neither one of them looking back as they walked through the big white field, leaving the last tracks in the snow they would ever make there.

They were the first to arrive, the commander directing them to tack up horses for the long ride to the Scout’s headquarters. As they waited, Finn stood as far as possible from his horse, a dark gelding. He held the reins at arms length, leaning his head as far as possible from the horse’s probing muzzle.

“It’s not going to hurt you,” Caden said, giving a soft pat to the side of his own horse’s neck.

That’s what you think,” Finn grumbled, ducking to avoid contact with the animal.

Caden burst into laughter, “Finn, you’re going to have to ride all the time. You can’t afford to hate horses.”

Finn growled at him and swatted at the gelding who had progressed to attempting to munch on Finn’s hair. Caden laughed even harder at the sight, which quite frankly, was ridiculous; a graduate of one of the harshest military training camps in Aurren being cowed by an overly friendly horse.

“It isn’t funny!” Finn gasped; the horse was nibbling at his neck. “Make it stop!” he demanded.

“It’s time to move out!” Commander Schaefer shouted, voice cutting like a knife through the chatter. At once, all of the gradu- no - cadets mounted and followed the commander down the hill to the dirt road used to go in and out of the camp.

Their journey had begun.


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521 Reviews


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Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:10 pm
Casanova wrote a review...



Heya, Cloud! Casanova here to do a review for you! Nitpicks first.

“What faction are you going into, Caden?” A boy asked.


The,"A," should be lower cased considering it's connected to dialogue.

Caden clenched his teeth, “That’s not why,” he said, struggling to find the right words. “Duty isn't a childish thing.” He stood, placing his hands on the table."I grew up in refugee camps because of the scolopendra. It's my duty to make sure it never has to happen to anyone else." Finn placed a hand on Caden’s shoulder, pulling him down.


This piece of dialogue just seems off to me. The first thing would be,"Duty isn't a childish thing." I've known many children with a sense of duty, especially ones who are raised in poor or abusive homes. I would suggest changing this to something to the effect of,"duty isn't a play thing you can just skirt around," or something like that.

“But I thought your score was good enough to get into the Military Police. Are you going into the Scouts to stay with Finn?” he asked, pale eyebrows were drawn close to his eyes, creating a wrinkle between them.

“We joined with the goal of ultimately joining the scouts,” Finn said, effectively cutting Caden off. “Neither of us planned on joining the Military Police in the first place.”


What bothers me about this is,"effectively cutting Caden off." He didn't cut him off- the question was asked and no one else was trying to speak in between. I would suggest cutting this out or making it where Finn actually cuts him off. Otherwise this makes little to know sense.

“Mhmm,” Finn hummed, shutting the chest.


Erg, I've tried to imagine this being hummed, and it just didn't do it for me. Although it's the same noise as a hum, it's done in a different way. It's not the closed mouth sing song voice- it's a closed mouth talking noise, if that makes any sense.

Finn’s face flushed with something like embarrassment hand he shook his head emphatically, “No, I’m okay. Let’s just go.”

Caden nodded and began walking to the door, pausing to take one last glance around the room that had been his home for the past four years. Finn place a hand on his shoulder and the walked out together, neither one of them looking back as they walked through the big white field, leaving the last tracks in the snow they would ever make there.


Two things. In the first thing I believe you meant,"and he shook," instead of,"hand."

The next thing would be- I don't know anyone who willingly admits they're not okay in public. And if they did, their friend would do more than just nod and continue- they would ask what was wrong at the very least. This didn't really make much sense to me on a personal level, so I thought I would point that out.

Anyway, overall the characters are decent(although I would like more description of the main two) and the plot seems like it's flowing over all pretty well, so props for that.

I think that's all I have to say on that, and I hope it helped.

Keep on doing what you're doing and keep on keeping on.

Your friend, Matt




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Tue Feb 07, 2017 12:07 am
BiscuitsLeGuin wrote a review...



Hey Storm, sorry this took a little while. I'll give you my thoughts as I go through then add anything general afterwards.

Your second paragraph: I think the speech is good, but there are two things I would say about it. The first is that it is a little long. Not that it's not all necessary, but it would be good if it was broken up a bit. Secondly, a good way to do this would be to describe his actions, where he's standing, what he's wearing, how he's looking at the trainees etc. You can get a lot from a character by showing me them as well as relaying their words to me.

Caden didn’t really want to go, but Finn’s hopeful eyes made him agree.

This is actually on a similar vein. You are telling me that Caden didn't really want to go rather than showing me. Showing me would be something like, "Caden sighed, but Finn's hopeful eyes made him reluctantly agree." Then I make the inference as a reader, which means I'm playing an active role in the story, which gets me more engaged than just talking at me.

“What faction are you going into, Caden?” A boy asked.

Fairly confident that a doesn't need to be capitalised. I think it's part of the same sentence.

It was true, Caden’s scores were good enough to get into the Military Police, but that wasn’t the reason he decided to join the military.

Again, first half of the sentence I can infer. Second half is interesting but might be better if added to an action rather than the first half eg "Caden scowled. That was not why he had joined the military."

“Whatever for, Finn?” Caden asked, moving to sit down on his own bed.

I don't get the impression from Caden that he's particularly shocked here, even though from his words I know he is. Maybe you could have him gasp, or look sharply round at Finn.

Your description of the landscape in the paragraphs after they say good night is beautiful.

When was the last time such a precious memory had come to Caden and he hadn’t hidden it away?

Ah, that's better. This is what I mean by showing instead of telling.

What on earth does "complected" mean?

He startled and looked around

This should be either "He started and looked around" or "Startled, he looked around."

~~~

Two quick general grammar things.

1. Direct speech - When the verb after direct speech is not specifically a speaking verb, take a new sentence.

"This tastes nice," she said.

"This tastes nice." She smiled over to her mum, who had made the cookies.

2. Beware the comma splice. To be honest, I don't care that much about this, but some publishers might. If you already know what this is feel free to skip to the next part but comma splice is when you put two main clauses together with a comma, when really they are two sentences.

Comma splice: I'm going to go get some gloves, it's really cold out here.
Should be: I'm going to go get some gloves. It's really cold out here.
Could also be: I'm going to go get some gloves; it's really cold out here. (; is specifically for when you want the reader to infer a connection between two sentences)

Character: You have really good ideas for characters and I can tell you know them really well in your head. I even have a pretty good idea of Schaefer already. Occasionally you tell me things about Caden rather than leaving me to see for myself. This does two things: one, I'm hearing it in the voice of an intruding author, which takes me out of the world of the story. Two, it means I am less actively engaged in the story, less of my mind is occupied, I am more likely to drift off. So be careful.

Setting: It would have been nice to hear some more details about all locations other than where they live. That is done super, super well. It just might be nice to get more of an atmosphere for the place they've been training in. Is it welcoming? Is it cold? Is it busy and loud?

Plot: You insert backstory in really well. Seriously, well done on that. I am also suitably intrigued to see where this is going, because I know that Caden has some sort of agenda but I do not know what that agenda is.

Flow: This is mostly good, just the telling thing getting in the way sometimes. Oh also, I think this is the place for this: this chapter is kinda long. I usually cap at about 1500 words and I think there were places where you could have done this. I know it takes more points, but it does make you more likely to get reviews, because people have to invest less time in reviewing and are therefore more willing to do it. Also I just saw you have over 2000 points so yeah, shorter chapters :P

Hope this helps,
Biscuits




Stormcloud says...


I totally agree on the shorter chapter thing. I'm just never sure on where to end it because I don't want it to be too short. I also like to think that as time has worn on, I've gotten better about showing rather than telling. Though that is something that I'll look for when I edit this. Also: complected is like describing a complexion. As google puts it: having a specified complexion. Thanks so much for the review!





Re: complected - fair 'nuff

Showing and telling: I can kinda tell you've been working on it cos sometimes you show really well. Since you know what it is, I think something to do could be to read some works on yws and notice yourself getting annoyed when they tell instead of show. That'll help you identify it in your own work.



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Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:50 am
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Pentavalence wrote a review...



Hey StormCycle, Pentavalence here.

I liked this story! Brief yet powerful descriptions, well thought out characters, excellent dialogue.

You might want to consider not using the word "faction", because I associate it with the Divergent series, and other people might too, considering the series' popularity.

Also, what's is Finn and Caden's relationship? Brothers? Lovers? Really close best friends? I'm not really sure. I think they have the potential to go in any of those directions, though, with not a lot more work.

I would like to see more detail on the Scouts, though. Why is it certain death? Wouldn't more people join up if they thought they could save the world? What even is the Scolopendra? It's mentioned in this chapter, but just barely. You don't have to reveal it all, just a little more information.

This is a pretty lengthy chapter, if you wanted to you could cut a bit. but I enjoyed the slower pacing.

-Pen




Stormcloud says...


I really appreciate your review. I think I will end up ending the chapter sooner when I edit things. Most of your questions are answered later in the story, though maybe it would be better for some of that information to be given earlier. Thanks so mucb for the feedback!



Stormcloud says...


I really appreciate your review. I think I will end up ending the chapter sooner when I edit things. Most of your questions are answered later in the story, though maybe it would be better for some of that information to be given earlier. Thanks so mucb for the feedback!



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Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:38 am
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Apricity wrote a review...



Hey StormCycle, Apricity here for a review!

This is a far cry from the original works I've seen you post on here (which you said was from one year ago. Granted, this chapter is a tag long, but I really enjoy what you've got so far here. I don't usually read such long chapters but this was well written. I've taken a liking to both Caden and Finn already, they're well fleshed out characters and most of the dialogue here is natural and compliments the story. You have already presented the conflict between these two characters as well as plenty of background and info about what is to come. Also, I'm guessing that Finn and Caden are either brothers or very very close friends? But at the moment, I'm leaning towards brother relationship, simply because the two of them seem to share that sense of kinship rather than mateship. And by the way Caden acts towards Finn, like a protective if not slightly exasperated older brother. But I could be wrong here.

That being said, I did notice some problems as I was reading.

First off, the distinction between Scouts and Military Police. Now, to be honest you've done a very good job here of implying how the two differs without info-dumping. Hm, however what I'm more concerned about here is the context behind those two. This chapter is very heavily focused on Caden and Finn and their decision to join the Scouts. But overall, I'm not really sure what role the Scouts and Military Police play in the larger world.

“The Scouts?” someone said. “Do you have a death wish?” The whole table murmured their agreement.


Dialogue like these two, brilliant. The suppressed agreement illustrates society's attitude to the different groups. But, I'm more or less on the fence about the next line of dialogue.

Caden’s gaze turned icy cold, “I wouldn’t expect people like you to understand. The Scouts actually help people. The Garrison just sit around getting drunk instead of doing their job and the Military Police is full of cowards and slackers.”


Most of the time, your descriptions here is good. But sometimes, like here you have a tendency to use two adjectives that are too similar to each other. Here, 'icy' and 'cold' mean the same thing putting them both together renders both terms ineffective. Nix one of them and you'll see that it also strengthens the impact. Another thing I noticed is that, when you're writing your descriptions, you tend to only appeal to one sense. For example, in the opening paragraph.

Big, fluffy flakes floated from the pearly gray sky and began to blanket the training field where they stood.


You have good alliteration going on with 'fluffy flakes floated from' however, both 'big' and 'fluffy' appeal only to sight. In order for readers to empathise further, you have to all the senses. Simply because when we observe, we don't just hear. We see, we smell, we taste.
So, you have sight here. What does the air smell like, is it a crisp air, is it the type of air that sends daggers of cold digging into your throat when you inhale it? What's it like to walk in such cold weather, is the cold a piercing cold or is the kind of cold that slowly seeps into your skin unnoticed? Take a look at this article if you're interested on more tips.

The cabin was little more than a shack, ill suited for the cold winters. Its wooden slats had darkened to a strange gray, the thin door squeaked, and if left to swing closed, it would do so with a loud clack.


I'm actually kinda confused with the whole cabin thing, if they're in army wouldn't they all sleep in the same dormitory rather than living individually in a cabin? I don't know if this is set in our world, most likely not. But maybe army works differently here, but from my friends who have gone through military training most soldiers sleep in a dorm with others. Along with that, even though it's nothing luxurious, the army does make sure that the accommodation isn't too shabby.

Even though their breath no longer froze to vapor,


I don't think froze is the right verb here, froze is usually linked to water turning into ice, liquid to state. I know what you're trying to say here, that it's so cold that their breathes were visible. Perhaps turned would be a better word here?

You have a huge part of stream of consciousness here with Caden and Finn just thinking, and it was there that I got really lost as to whose thought they were. Given their close relationship, wouldn't it be better to voice those thoughts aloud and lay it in the open. And, personally. For me, chapter one ended here. Or even just after waking up and realising that they're about to choose their faction, I like your ending line here. It's a good hooker, however this chapter also ended at an awkward note.

They have just chosen their faction, but we're not given much detail about the Commanders about from initial impressions. And then it ended, just after they've chosen it and it feels...more or less incomplete? But this is only my opinion, a final note on the introduction made by the Commanders. That would be a good chance to introduce who these people are, what the Military Police and Scouts do (but I know that all the cadets would've known about this, but the readers don't). However, it's also a difficult task in that the line between informing the readers without info-dumping is hard to balance.

Overall, I enjoyed this story, if you do decide to post future chapters please tag me. I'd love to see where this goes. I hope my review was helpful to you, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask me.

-Apricity




Stormcloud says...


Thanks so much for the review! I really appreciate it. When I edit, I'll definitely take your suggestions. Aurren is really different from our world (mainly so I can get away with things being slightly off) but your comments about how the camp is run are definitely ones that I'll take to heart. One last thing, Caden and Finn aren't related but have grown up together. They can't remember a time when they haven't known each other.



Apricity says...


Ahhh, I see and no problem, this was a pleasure to read. Hope to see your next chapter soon, and please tag me when you post it. ;)



Stormcloud says...


How do you tag someone?



Apricity says...


@StormCycle, like so



Stormcloud says...


so you would do that within the work? (sorry I know I'm probably making things more complicated than they should be)



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Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:40 am
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Big, fluffy flakes floated from the pearly gray sky and began to blanket the training field where they stood.


Try not to be so verbose with your descriptions - you consecutively use three words starting with F.

In general, it’s tiresome to read something that is over-described. Put it this way, you’re talking about snowflakes. Everyone reading this already has a reasonable understanding of what a snowflake is. Do we really need to know that the flakes are big AND fluffy AND that they were coming from a pearly grey sky? And after we now know this information, are we any better prepared to understand the story that follows? Does this information have any impact on the scene that is about to unfold? Always ask yourself how important information is to your story. If you can cut something out and not lose anything pivotal to the story, away it goes. To a degree this is a stylistic choice so I’m not going to just up and say you cannot write in this way, but from a reader’s vantage, purple prose (which this is dangerously close to becoming), can be a chore to read.

“- And with that, my final words are choose your factions wisely. You have all trained hard and well, and I expect to see many of you doing well in the capitol in the years to come. Congratulations. Tomorrow you’ll choose your faction straight after breakfast. I wish you all luck in your new lives. You will be adults tomorrow.” Commander Haas finished his speech and said, “You are free to enjoy your last night as trainees.”


Based on the context of this dialog, I am assuming that this is a “coming of age” portion of the protagonist’s life. The issue is that we are completely alienated from the scene you are trying to set up here. You have provided us with the back-end of the Commander’s speech (which accidentally makes it seem unimportant and forgettable), and you are sandbagging us with very powerful concepts right off the bat – we are still brand new to the world / characters etc. We have no concept of what this information means to the protagonist and its throwing us into the deep end in a neglectful way. Also try to avoid introducing the premise of your story via dialog. For the most part it will always come across as forced.

Wordlessly he started walking away, hearing all too clearly the squeak of Finn’s chair against the wooden floorboards and the sound of his hurried footsteps chasing after Caden.


You cannot end this sentence with “Caden,” -- it doesn’t make sense. You’re essentially saying “he heard hurried footsteps chasing after Caden” but he IS Caden.

The cabin was little more than a shack, ill suited for the cold winters. Its wooden slats had darkened to a strange gray, the thin door squeaked, and if left to swing closed, it would do so with a loud clack.


Cold, strange, thin, loud. You keep using flat adjectives that offer little value to your story. Either use a stronger adjective or remove them altogether. Try it out and see what you think.

That door was what announced Caden and Finn’s arrival to the cabin. Even though their breath no longer froze to vapor, inside was not much warmer than out. Thankfully, the cabin was equipped with a tiny wood stove not meant for cooking, but for warming the tiny building. A dwindling stack of logs leaned against the pewter stove, Caden grabbed two and opened the tiny grate setting them inside. He struck the steel for the spark that would set the logs alight. Sure enough, he was able to coax a tiny flame from the first spark.


Besides the run on sentence (“Caden grabbed” should be a new sentence) this paragraph was pretty good.

“Whatever for, Finn?” Caden asked,


“Whatever for” is a little pompous and unnatural. It doesn’t match the “I’ll say whatever I want” personality he had back in the mess hall.

Caden should've told Finn that there was nothing to apologize for. That he was the one that should apologize. Caden shouldn’t treat Finn so cruelly. But he said nothing, Finn knew Caden never meant it.


This is interesting character development, however, I really think you can find a better way to include it in your story. It would feel more organic and natural if Caden started to apologise and hesitated, for example, or something along those lines. It would flow better than this exposition. Try to let your readers pick information up themselves without just laying it all out on the table for them.

They sat there in silence, the only sound being that of the fire. Caden could almost hear the sound of the snow falling outside. Each flake landing with the barest of brushes against its brothers. Caden’s eyes burned, he was awful. Terrible. Finn deserved better. He closed his eyes, heat pressing from behind his eyelids, tears spilling and warming his cold cheeks.


I really enjoy the way you have contrasted the cold weather outside to the heat of Caden’s eyes. That’s clever. It puts an emphasis on both in a really unforced way. Well done.

Finn’s face broke. It shattered into a million tiny pieces and it was all Caden’s fault. And the worst thing? Caden didn’t even feel bad. “I’m sorry,” Finn whispered. He was always sorry, sorry for things that were Caden’s fault.


This was very well written. It gave me goosebumps.

Caden still didn’t pay any attention until the sound of his own name pulled him out of his head,


I liked this.

“Are you scared, Caden?”

Caden shook his head, “No, but it’s okay if you are.”


The feels. This might be my favourite line.

leaving the last tracks in the snow they would ever make there.


Stop. You’re killing me.

***

Well, I wasn’t expecting that. At first I have to admit, I didn’t see this being as good as it was, due to how clunky the start was. But then out of nowhere you really hit your stride and the story just flowed extremely well, the dialog became very natural and it was just a joy to read. I got to the end and realised I had barely made any comments about the second half. The dialog was fantastic and the way you developed the characters was very enjoyable to read.

Importantly, I already care about both Caden and Finn. I really enjoy how co-dependent they seem to be, but in extremely different ways. I really look forward to learning more about them and the reasons behind the unique dynamics of their friendship.

So far the premise isn’t anything particularly unique. It gave me a lot of Attack on Titan vibes for some reason. But don’t worry about that, the characters are driving the story in a very powerful way, so it doesn’t stand out significantly right now.

There’s a lot of words and sentences you could stand to remove, and some parts were very rough around the edges, but now I have finished the piece I am very confident that you can fix all this very easily.

Please request a review again when you post more. I genuinely wish to continue this story.

Zoom




Stormcloud says...


Thanks so much for your review. When I first started to read it I was afraid that you thought it wasn't very good. (Not to say that your observationz were wrong) I'll definitely take your suggestions into acount when I finally start to edit. There was a huge time gap where I didn't write anything, so that may be why I suddenly hit a stride. I certainly hope I haven't lost what you liked about the story.




Get ready to laugh: because my main critique is that you need to put a meter on this.
— Lumi