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Mixing Magic [Draft 2]: Chapter 4.2

by Mea

A/N: For those who are new, Madeline and Ayda have just reached Crescent Moon and are petitioning the leaders there for help in getting Madeline home. Also, this is a rather important chapter, so feedback is greatly appreciated.

There was little light in the Hall Ayda and Madeline entered. The air was heavy and treelike, the boughs that formed the ceiling lined with rough bark and little pockets of leaves wherever light fell through the windows — the whole room had a distinctly wild feel. Ayda wasn’t sure if she liked it. Plants in a forest didn’t have this feeling of unbridled power. Maybe it was just the magic she could feel — it ran stronger than ever here.

A low voice issued from the shadows. “So. The fairy and the human. Come forward, and sit.”

Ayda swallowed, staying close to Madeline as the girl moved forward. As her eyes adjusted she saw that at the other end of the long hall stood two woven thrones, and in them sat two dryads that had to be Lord and Lady Elerian. Two of the most powerful dryads alive, the head of Crescent Moon and arguably the whole of Arvania, they were exactly whom Ayda had been hoping Madeline would be able to see, but now that she was here…

In front of the thrones was a simple chair, which Madeline sat in, and after a moment, Ayda landed on her shoulder. Sitting in the chair, Madeline was nearly at eye level with the Lord and Lady.

“Welcome to Crescent Moon.” This time it was Lady Elerian that spoke, her voice melodious but restrained. Her expression was unreadable. “It has been long since a human has graced these halls, and we have many questions. But first, what are your names?”

“Madeline Reyes,” Madeline said quietly.

“And I’m Ayda Mossfrost, of Nikka,” Ayda said.

“Thank you. Madeline, do you come from another world?”

“Yes,” she said. “I come from Earth, and I’m here to ask you to help me get home.”

“First, tell us how you arrived here,” Lord Elerian said. “Are you aware that there has been no communication with Earth for a thousand years? That it was cut off, permanently?”

“That’s what Ayda said,” Madeline said. “But from what she’s told me, I think I came a normal way?”

“From what she described, she came through a temporary portal,” Ayda explained. “There was a woman —”

Lord Elerian held up his hand. “Please let Madeline speak.”

Chastened, Ayda listened as Madeline briefly recounted her story of meeting the woman in the woods and following her to the landmark and through the portal. Ayda picked up the story from where she met Madeline in the woods, explaining that she had brought Madeline to Nikka, then on to Crescent Moon. She also mentioned the Shade’s attack, but it didn’t seem to concern them as much as she had thought it would.

“Can you describe the woman?” Lady Elerian pressed Madeline.

Madeline closed her eyes and thought for a moment. “She had black hair… shorter than mine. She was tall. I’m sorry, I don’t remember what she was wearing. Just normal clothes, I think.”

“Perhaps this will help.” Ayda jumped, for the voice had issued out of the shadows. It was not as deep as Lord Elerian’s, but rough and firm. A centaur stepped forward into the light. He was tall and broad-shouldered, with a face wrinkled by age behind a russet-red beard. His expression was grave and his eyes deep and thoughtful.

He made a quick movement with his hands, and there between his palms stood the image of a woman, tall and slender, with an angled face and hair that matched Madeline’s description. She wore a striking gown that fell to her feet but left her shoulders bare. Ayda had seen centaur illusions before and didn’t react, but Madeline’s sharp intake of breath betrayed her wonder even at something this simple.

“That’s her,” Madeline said. “That’s definitely her. She wasn’t wearing anything that fancy, but it’s the same woman.”

The centaur dropped his hands and the image vanished.

“Thank you, Xaniphe,” Lord Elerian said to the centaur. He passed a hand over his eyes. “We were fairly certain already, but it is good to have another confirmation.”

“We will move now?” Xaniphe asked with a swish of his tail.

“Yes, and as quickly as possible, particularly now that we no longer have the element of surprise,” Lord Elerian replied.

“What do you mean?” Madeline asked. Ayda had a hunch.

“My lord,” Ayda said. “The centaur at the gate said you’d been expecting us. Why?”

Lady Elerian gave a grim smile. “I’m afraid that after your encounter with the shopkeeper, rumors have been sweeping the land between here and Nikka. Our watchers were able to find you on the road. We knew you were heading for Moonwater, and we hoped you were coming here. It is unfortunate that you were unable to keep Madeline’s presence here a secret.”

“What does it matter who knows I’m here?” Madeline asked, defensive. “Who is this woman?”

Lord Elerian said nothing. He studied Madeline as if trying to decide something.

“This concerns her,” Lady Elerian said softly. “She may be pursued, she may never go home, and she has the right to know why.”

“Yes,” said Lord Elerian. He addressed Ayda. “But not you, Ayda. Thank you for your kindness in bringing Madeline here, but your part in this has ended. What we are about to tell Madeline is not to be shared lightly. You are of course welcome to spend the night here, and in the morning we will outfit you with whatever supplies you may need for your return trip. You will find an aide outside; she will assist you.”

This was it? It would be so easy — Ayda would slip away and enter the contest tonight, spend a night here, and then set off home tomorrow, back to angry but relieved parents. They would leave a few days later, and then Ayda would be left to hammer wood and hope desperately for news of the contest.

But say goodbye to Madeline now? After their journey through the forests together, after Ayda’s promise last night? “I — ” she began, not knowing what she was going to say.

Madeline glanced at Ayda, a wide-eyed, startled look, and that was all Ayda needed. She took flight, hovering above Madeline’s shoulder.

“With respect, my lord, I swore an oath on Relis,” Ayda said, clenching her fists at her side. “I bound my fate with Madeline’s. I’m not going to leave her now.”

His brows drew together and his eyes grew stormy. “Ayda, go home. You are but a child and you have no place here. There is nothing more you can do to help your friend; go home.”

“There has to be some way I can help,” Ayda said, speaking wildly now. “You don’t have to tell me everything, just let me stay!”

“My lord,” Xaniphe cut in. Ayda realized he had been studying her, watching behind an expressionless face. But now he stepped forward, hooves clopping on the wooden floor. “Sending her home even now is a risk. Her parents will ask what errand took her to Crescent Moon. Although the subject of Madeline is fast becoming widespread rumor, knowledge of her whereabouts is not, and I suggest we keep it that way.”

He glanced back at Ayda and his expression softened. “My research team needs one of the Little Folk to read the smaller tomes and take notes. She would be useful — I see no reason not to let her stay.”

At last, Lord Elerian nodded.

“It is settled then,” said the Lady. “We will send a letter to your parents, Ayda, explaining what we can of the situation. And now let us begin a tale that starts a millennium ago. Xaniphe, would you care to begin it? He is our primary historian, and a magical expert on the side,” she explained.

“Of course,” the centaur said, turning so that all four of them could see him.

“Once,” he said, “three Kingdoms were four, and the fourth was the humans’ world, your world, Madeline. It, like the others, was connected to the Well, the place from which all magic flows. But the connection was broken.”

Ayda thought he must like a touch of the dramatic, for as he spoke, he created small illusions with his hands, and with a slash of his right arm, a jagged crack ran through the river of light he had created.

“But the story begins earlier than that. It begins with a young woman — human — named Nadra. By chance, she grew up among elves, who in this time still lived in Neleluna and they and the dwarves formed the two great centers of civilization there. By all accounts, Nadra was very bright and soon became a leader in the field of magic. But, growing up among them, she had come to hate the elves.

And with his hands, he created a shadowy picture, of a stern woman, a silhouette among other, different silhouettes with with pointed ears. Elves.

“She gained great power — we don’t know how. Few records remain. But she gained power far outside the limits of human magic. And she made dark servants to serve her, and she slaughtered the elves. The dwarves, whom she had no quarrel with, escaped to the mountains of Erinore. They still live there to this day.”

The image erupted in flames, and Ayda could have sworn she heard faint, echoing screams.

“But if any of the elves survived, it was not enough to continue their race. During the chaos, the leaders of the other Kingdoms banded together, led by the unicorns. They fought Nadra at the Well. They won, and they dealt her the most terrible punishment they could devise, locking her into another dimension, a faceless and formless Void. But it was too late for the human world — Nadra had already severed its link to the Well. The portals vanished, and the memory of magic faded from the human world. Her servants, freed from her control, became the peaceful Shades we know today.”

The shadowy picture showed a legion advancing on the woman, now dark but still beautiful, showed her scream as the dryads and dragons and humans overwhelmed her. Then the picture vanished with a wink.

“I’m guessing she got out somehow,” Madeline said.

“We think the lack of magic in your world created a weak spot she exploited,” Xaniphe said. “Once in your world, she could easily make a portal back to Arvania with the magic she already carried.”

“It’s that easy for me too? I have magic — I can just learn how to make a portal?”

“No,” Lady Elerian said gently. “It is the lack of magic in your world that is precisely the problem. Portals need anchors, and those anchors are found in ley points, intersections on the pattern of ley lines that runs throughout the Kingdoms, carrying magic from the Well. When the connection to the Well was severed, the magic in the ley lines ran dry. There is no way we know to anchor a portal to your world. Nadra used the magic she already had to anchor a portal here, where the ley lines run pure. And now that you’re in a world connected to the Well, your own magic has begun to manifest.”

Madeline sank back into her seat. “So there’s no hope.”

“We didn’t say that,” Xaniphe said firmly. “There is much about this situation that has been lost except in the memory of the unicorns, and they have been… less than forthcoming. But there may be other ways to anchor a portal, ones we’ve forgotten or never had the need to discover.”

“We will do all we can,” Madeline,” Lady Elerian said. “But your arrival accompanies a threat the Kingdoms haven’t seen for years. Our first priority is not to get you home; it is to defend our kingdoms and recapture Nadra. She almost certainly knows that you followed her through the portal; the Shade who attacked you will have told her by now that you’re human. We have reason to believe she is looking for you, though we don’t understand why.”

“It may simply be because you are human, Madeline,” Lord Elerian said. “You are the only one in the Three Kingdoms with human magic. You could very well prove the key to understanding Nadra’s powers. We will do our best to get you home, but know that we also need you.”

Madeline swallowed and nodded. “I’ll help.”

“You’ll need training,” Xaniphe said brusquely. “I’ll teach you. We’ll see what we can work out together.”

And that was the last of it; everything was settled. Ayda was staying at Crescent Moon, but she had learned more than she’d ever wanted to.

The Lord and Lady dismissed them, and Xaniphe said he would accompany them to the great-tree where they were to live and work. They were not to go beyond the boundaries of the tree and the surrounding gardens, for security reasons.

“One last thing, my lord,” Ayda said as she turned to go. A sick feeling churned in her stomach. “The Shade who attacked us — he was working for Nadra?”

“Yes,” Lord Elerian said. “He must have been. Nadra can control any of them at will. We’ve contacted Neleluna about it. So far, only a few have been taken, but it’s only a matter of time until she decides to amass her army.”

Ayda shook her head, thinking of Ashmount, that grandfatherly Shade she saw each year on the road. The thought of him beast-like and snarling, with those awful red eyes, made her shudder. How long before he was taken? Before all the Shades in Neleluna were unleashed upon Arvania and Erinore?

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16 Reviews

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Sun Aug 27, 2017 6:08 am
kirishimaxbokuguo wrote a review...

There was little light in the Hall Ayda and Madeline entered.
your missing a comma. I thought it was the hall of ayda when i first read it. XD I was like a hall about ayda, is she being watched by the crescent moon. If this was some type of crisis why is it so casual? I dunno it doesn't have that suspenseful feeling like c'mon defeat the baddie or save that person. Please endure or you can do it. It has no feeling I guess. I'm not sure how to explain it. It feels like your story is missing something for that feeling.

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63 Reviews

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Sun Jul 30, 2017 6:00 pm
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Thundahguy wrote a review...

Christ. The amount of exposition in this. It's nice an all, but I'm a bit taken back by it.

Easiest thing I have to say is about the characters. For some reason, they seem very stiff. While yes, it is literally a multi-world crisis, they do say things like they're reading out of a book.

The plot explosion I'm seeing here is very interesting. It's a bit annoying how you're introducing the central antagonist when said antagonist isn't present. It's something you see a lot in other fantasy novels. The fact that Nadra pretty much massacred the elves doesn't give her much leeway.

I should probably tell you about a villain tier list. You can probably find examples of it online. It details how great of a villain can be based on their motives. So far, Nadra seems to be between Meh tier and a Crap tier based on what Elerian said. While it's not something you have to take care in, writing a higher tier character can easily improve your story as a whole.

That's all I'm going to say about the chapter. World building is excellent and I don't have any proper flaws to point out. This is probably either your best or second best chapter to date. Keep up the great work.

Mea says...

Nadra has some interesting motives, but unfortunately none of the characters present have any way to know what they are, so it takes a while for them to be explored. Probably something I should do is draw more attention to this lack of known motive to leave readers wondering what's going on rather than thinking it's just a generic fantasy villain.

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Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:38 am
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Wolfical wrote a review...

Happy Review Day!!!

Must catch up! Must get Green Room reviews!

This has more to do with the last chapter, but I'll put it here. I was expecting Madeline and Ayda to have more difficulty reaching Crescent Moon, running into more conflicts like the Shade attack. Instead they reached it on time, and instead the bigger conflict rested in when they actually got there - Ayda having the weird feeling in her gut. And I really, really like that because it's original! Literary journeys are synonymous with danger and setbacks, but in this case it was the heralded Crescent Moon, the place that was supposed to solve all their problems once they reached it, that made Ayda arguably the most uneasy, because she had always had such high hopes of it.

I didn't notice a clear reason as to why the Lord and Lady actually decide to spill the beans about the history to Ayda as well. She's allowed to stay in Crescent Moon because she knows so much already and can help Xaniphe (awesome name, by the way), but why is she allowed to also stay to hear what only Madeline was supposed to hear?

he created small illusions with his hands

At first I thought he was just making hand motions so maybe clarify that he's using magic.

“I’m guessing she got out somehow,” Madeline said.

This seems a bit emotionless. Madeline just witnessed some epic storytelling with magical pictures and this response just seems so dry.

You say yourself that this is an important chapter, so congratulations - you carried it out very well. Especially because a bunch of it was info-dumping but you managed to make the history portion engaging the whole time. I think it helps when info-dumping is carried out through dialogue, which makes it more concise, and spliced with pieces of description too, which was in this case Xaniphe's visual representations. The "history lesson" in general is excellently written, especially because we have a strong base for it with everything that's happened so far and we're finally getting some answers!

Going back to this, which I just remembered:
“Yes, and as quickly as possible, particularly now that we no longer have the element of surprise,” Lord Elerian replied.

“What do you mean?” Madeline asked. Ayda had a hunch.

What's Ayda's hunch? She certainly had no idea about Nadra so I don't see how she could explain the battle-esque commands that Lord Elerian is using here.

Speaking of the Lord and Lady, I don't recall ever getting to know what they look like. They're shadowed, but what features does Ayda notice? A glint of the eye, the color of hair? Unlike the reader, she knows what dryads look like, but she probably doesn't know what the Lord and Lady Elerian look like so she'd probably take interest in that.

That's all I got! Great chapter. :)

Mea says...

It's funny, I keep running into the problem that people don't know what dryads look like, but they're not a creature I made up - they're not even that rare in fantasy. xD And I think this draft accidentally doesn't have a description of dryads because I cut the scene that had it. Oops.

Wolfical says...

I've heard of them before, but every author probably has a different idea of what they look like.

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Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:34 am
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DragonWriter22 wrote a review...

Hey! (:

So, I agree with a lot of the comments previously mentioned, about the quickness of Ayda being allowed to stay (the reasons are reasonable and valid, but they still agree rather quickly), being confused by "tree-like" air, and curiosity at exactly why Nadra hates the elves (I'm sorry if you told me this and I forgot).

Besides that I have few complaints about the passage. I've really liked learning more about centaur magic. I can't remember if that ever was brought up in the previous draft, but it's really cool here.

Oh! I'm also a fan of Evota's name change. Nadra rolls off the tongue easier and sounds like a good villain name :)

I'm finding it difficult to word exactly, but I like how this whole thing is playing out in comparison to how it did last time. The leaders already anticipating everything and knowing that they were coming was something I didn't expect and I found it interesting. The Shopkeeper didn't really strike me as the type to spread rumors and secrets, but we didn't get to see much of him and maybe he didn't realize its importance? Anyway, I just liked that the leaders were already putting things together and were a step ahead of it all. It often feels like in these stories that the protagonists coming before the great leaders is the first time those great leaders ever hear of/begin to take the problem seriously. This was refreshing.

In general I think this passage has been written very well with all the characters in character, wonderful demonstrations of how Madeline and Ayda have become close, and exposition that didn't feel forced. Tension and suspense are also building, which is great. I look forward to reading more!

Mea says...

I'm glad you like the name change! And everything else too xD

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Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:24 am
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EternalRain says...

Woahhh 0-0 So we learned a lot in this chapter, not to mention meeting several new characters! Very exciting to see the story about Nadra and more about the Shades.

One thing: the rumors about Madeline/a human being in their world seemed to spread fast. It was what - a day, I think - since the shop, and I'm pretty sure Arvania doesn't have the technology like we do so it would spread via internet. I could be underestimating the power of people simply talking to one another, though, haha.

Can't wait for more. :)

Mea says...

Hm, it's not exactly common knowledge yet that Madeline's here - rumors have started to spread, and the Lord and Lady have some people traveling through the area specifically looking for rumors relating to this to see what they can find out about Nadra. I'll try to make that more clear.

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Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:55 am
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PrincessInk wrote a review...

Heyo, Mea, here again! :D

So anyway, I am so impressed with Ayda's determination to stick with her vow to help Madeline. It may be because she doesn't want to go back and make chairs and twiddle her thumbs, but still...this is a rather disturbing incident and can strike fear into people's hearts. I'm really loving the way Madeline is shaping into her role. She's no longer so fearful as she was--she's inquisitive and understanding. I think both of them have the pluck they need to be heroines (especially because they're still youthful and energetic).

One thing I felt was that the Lady and Lord Elerian...were rather flat. To me, this was because I thought that the strength of their emotions were dug so deep into them that though I *know* how they are supposed to feel, I can't really see it her. I think that because of their age(?) and wisdom(?), they are less prone to breaking out into emotions--but they can be hinted at through subtle body language. Because I'm not sure, with such a scary scene like this, that they can be so far and rather distant. Unless that's their default reaction when something like that happens.

So the stakes here and the tension don't hit the chord I wanted to feel and I think that ^^ was part of it? Because if the leaders are normally imperturbable and THIS affected their nerves the slightest bit, it can make a rather big impact to the others who see them as their calm self. I do want to see how the others react to this, because obviously this is a Big Scene (and you said it yourself)--do you remember the Plot Structure Workshop you made? This is probably around the 1st Plot Point of the story (but not too sure myself, might be close to 2nd.

One nitpick I have is that I'm not quite sure as to why Nadra hated the elves. Because I'm sure there must be a reason for her hatred. Is it because the elves discriminated her for being human? Or something else? I firmly believe that people don't just hate others for no reason. It must have been something really terrible that struck her so hard that changed her. But I did really enjoy the projecting-style of telling the story because it was so interesting to read about the centaur releasing effect after effect. Makes me think of what happens when a flashback or story is being told in a movie or TV show(or perhaps I'm wrong here because I rarely watch movies xD).

To think about it, perhaps a way this can be improved is to expand this segment a little, to fill in the body language that will bump up the tension and importance and to solidify the character development in the scene. One part that particularly struck me was the last paragraph, where the chapter ended so quickly that Ashmount was like a passing thought. And I agree with Lupa that the decision to let Ayda stay was resolved VERY quickly.

So this review is probably longer than usual and more critical but I hope this helped. Feel free to use any suggestions I have and throw away the rest because my suggestions and diagnosis might be completely off the mark. If you want to ask or comment, do let me know! :D I'm be looking forward to the next chapter because I'm so interested to know what happens next!

Mea says...

Okay, so this is so helpful you have no idea. Particularly your points about body language, and I had honestly never thought that a good way to show how serious the situation was is to have the stoic leaders crack a little.

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Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:53 am
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Lupa22 wrote a review...

Hey, Mea! Lupa here for a review! :D Let's begin.


The air was heavy and treelike,

I'm not quite sure how air can be "tree-like." Does it smell like trees? Are there a lot of leaves falling through the air? It's a nice description, but I would like if you'd clear that part up a little. Maybe...

The air was heavy with the smell of fresh dew and rough bark,

Whatever you feel like doing. It's up to you! :P

“Ayda, go home. You are but a child and you have no place here. There is nothing more you can do to help your friend; go home.”

This is pretty small, but repeating "go home" isn't necessary. I think you could just leave it at "There is nothing more you can do to help your friend."

3) It might be just me, but I'm questioning Xaniphe's decision to let Ayda work on his team. I mean, she just brought a human to Crescent Moon; no one's seen a human for a thousand years. And I know that Ayda is perfectly capable of keeping a secret, but how can Xaniphe trust her to not tell anyone on his team about Madeline? Lord and Lady Elerian let Ayda go quite easily.

A little bit of reluctance might work better, since from what I've heard Lord Elerian doesn't really want Ayda here.

That's it for me! I think it's pretty cool how Madeline is adapting to all of this. She's brave, if you ask me, for taking on such an important role in taking down Nadra. You have some good character development in this chapter. Can't wait to read more!


Mea says...

Thanks for the review! I realize I only implied this, but Xaniphe's research team knows about Madeline (if they didn't, they wouldn't be as useful). Ayda's not supposed to tell anyone else inside Crescent Moon, so they're restricting where she can go. I'll definitely make that more clear when I go back and revise this. (But don't worry, they'll be keeping an eye on her).

You won't know the outcome of something unless you try it.
— Manila