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The Chosen Grandma, Chapter 37

by BlueAfrica

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

A/N: Eighty-three-year-old Chosen One is in Barstow when sorcerer Redway and his dragon-riding allies attack. Unbeknownst to her and her friends, Redway's right-hand man, Kiernan, is following them so he can make sure her teen companion Clem - who he mistakenly believes is the Chosen One - gets successfully snatched up and carted off to the Fortress of Solitude.

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Kiernan's heart stopped when Clem's first victim went down. He had to keep eyes on her, he knew, but he ripped his gaze away, vaulted over a Knight who was rolling on the ground to put out the flames that had caught on their jacket, and fell to his knees beside Joe. Her glasses had been knocked off and lay on the ground beside her, covered in mud and ash. She clutched her leg until her knuckles turned white.

"Are you all right?" Kiernan asked. "Let me see."

She slapped his hand away and spoke through clenched teeth. "Get going! I'm not dying. But be careful. Girl's got a sting on her."

Kiernan nodded but couldn't leave without wiping her glasses off on his shirt and putting them back on her face. She gave him a smile that looked more like a grimace, which was the only kind of smile he'd ever seen from her.

"Thanks, my boy," she said. "Now go on. Don't lose her!"

He nodded and sprinted onwards, trying not to panic each time one of his friends dropped to the ground after a brief encounter with Clem's sword. At least she wasn't killing them. In too much of a hurry or not vicious enough, he didn't know and didn't care. At least they were alive. For now. He wasn't sure how well they'd fare against the Knights with their legs cut out from under them. Hoped the wounds were too superficial to damage the muscle beneath. Hoped they could at least manage to pull themselves back up onto their dragons and get out of there if worst came to worst.

He cursed as he ran. He'd lost sight of the girl.

The best he could do for now was to dodge as much of the battle as possible and keep his eyes peeled.

The battle sprawled across campus, Knights and dragons and his friends and fire everywhere. It pushed him closer and closer to the Carmichael Center until that was his only way around. The building was in flames, the white columns smudged black by the billowing smoke, but four dragons prowled back and forth outside, shooting more flames inside whenever a door or window opened and snapping at those who managed to escape. Several more human figures were on the ground between them with swords, bows, and spears, but in the shimmer of the fire he couldn't tell who from here. He didn't envy them. He hated being on the ground for these things. It was so much easier to set fire to a city from the sky, where you couldn't hear the screams of those trapped inside or smell the acrid stink of burning flesh.

Past the center, out of the haze, he caught sight of Clem again. She had pulled farther ahead than he'd expected: nearly out of the battle now. Exactly where she was headed, he wasn't sure, but it didn't matter. He had eyes on her now. He wasn't going to lose her again.

But even as he watched, two people moved in on her from behind. He shaded his eyes and squinted. They didn't look like Red's. He wasn't sure who they were. Knights, maybe.

Except that theory went flying out the window as they attacked her. She hit the ground hard, elbows first--the sword skittered away from her--she crawled toward it--

Kiernan had his bow ready in the space of a breath. Whoever these guys were, they weren't getting to her before he was.

He sprinted toward them, ready to fire--a Knight tumbled in his way, blocking the shot--by the time they were clear, another man stood between Clem and the strangers with a tree branch. The girl ran off and was soon up in the sky with Benjamin and Edna on that carpet of theirs.

Kiernan swore again, slung his bow back over his shoulder, and ran faster. His motorcycle was in an alleyway somewhere on campus and doubtless in flames by now. But the carpet switched directions suddenly and flew on faster than before, and he thought he knew where they were headed.

He rounded a corner and pulled out his phone, keeping his eyes locked on the shrinking carpet.

"Shira," he spat, "the hotel. Yeah. The Royal Crown. Good luck."

They hung up at the same time and he ran onward, just in case. Even if he was right about where they were going--and he was pretty sure he was--he wouldn't rest easy until he saw Shira make the grab.

He arrived just in time to see her take off. He hung back for a moment and then, when she was clear, stepped out of his hiding place behind a fence to look after her. He caught a glimpse of two figures on her dragon's back, struggling with each other. He let out a sigh of relief. Shira could handle her. His work was done. He could go home now. Or maybe he'd find another motorcycle somewhere and take a trip, just him by himself. Something to get away from dragons and irritating best mates and Knights and fires for a while.

But he couldn't stop staring at the burning hotel. The vines growing along the porch columns and railings and the lintel of the door and around the windows curled into blackness and vanished in the flame. Some fae's work or another, even though everyone he'd seen go in or out the last few days had looked steadfastly human. Elves and fae were kin, and the fae, as far as he knew, had never had anything to do with the Knights. Anger flared in him for a moment. Anger at the girl, for running this way. For bringing danger down on someone who likely didn't deserve it.

He turned to leave but then glanced back at the burning building. It had occurred to him to wonder where her companions were. The old woman. Benjamin.

Their carpet whipped by him, aflame, and flopped about on the sidewalk in a weird carpet version of stop, drop, and roll.

They were still here somewhere, Kiernan thought. They hadn't gone off without their carpet.

He looked back at the porch. Trim crumbled and fell to the floor in a shower of sparks. Beyond it he thought he heard a voice calling the girl's name.

Not that he cared.


The carpet, now flame-free, if a bit crispy around the edges, darted back past him and weaved back and forth in front of the porch like an unhappy dog. It tried to enter but zipped back several feet as more trim collapsed. If carpets had voices, it would have been howling.

Kiernan hesitated and then approached the hotel. It was one thing to set fire to a city from the sky. It was another to let an old woman and a guy you'd shared a drink with burn to death on a porch right in front of you.

He tested a creaking porch step, decided it would hold long enough, and leapt up the stairs. Benjamin was closer, less conscious, and had more of a pull after their drink together, but Kiernan ground his teeth and went for the old woman first. He thought she'd be heavier, but he heaved her up into his arms as if she didn't weigh any more than a child. She gazed at him blearily, her eyes glazed behind her glasses in the way of confused old people. He whistled for the carpet, which approached him uncertainly until it saw the old woman in his arms. He set her down on it and then headed back into the flames for Benjamin.

Half the porch ceiling fell in.

Kiernan choked on the smoke. He covered his mouth and nose with a sleeve and blinked through the flames. He could just see the top of Benjamin's head. The rest of him was trapped under rubble. Kiernan ground his teeth and then stopped because it made him cough harder. He picked his way around charred wood and flame until he reached Benjamin, cursed his lack of gloves, and started throwing smoldering rubble aside. The porch creaked alarmingly. The shingles melted and oozed across the boards, fusing things together. There was a sucking sound and a roar and a crash and the floor gave way beneath Kiernan's left foot. He sank down six inches and sucked in a breath as he grabbed a board covered in hot tar to steady himself, but instead of letting go he kept clearing rubble until Benjamin was uncovered.

He wrenched himself out of the porch floor and hoisted Benjamin into a fireman's lift. He stumbled down the porch steps as they gave way and collapsed in the grass with his head on Benjamin's stomach, wheezing.

"Is he all right?" a voice quavered. The old woman.

He looked up at her and winced and closed his eyes on the sunlight. It almost surprised him to find the sun shining through all the fire. He felt around for Benjamin's wrist.

"He's got a pulse, anyway," he said.

He expected her to ask what he was doing there, expected to have to come up with some dragon dung about how he'd wanted to make sure they were okay, but she accepted his presence without question.

"Are you all right?" she asked.

He sat up and then immediately wished he hadn't, but he wasn't going to lie back on Benjamin's stomach again. The smoke was in his lungs and his dreds and his clothes and he felt vaguely hungover, but worse.

"I'll live," he said.

She patted his shoulder and pressed her fingers to her mouth and started crying.

"What's wrong?" he asked automatically, and then he realized he knew exactly what was wrong and cursed himself for asking.

"Oh!" she cried. "They took her--they took Clem! And after I told her mother--"

Kiernan's head felt like lead. He felt like an idiot for barreling into a fire that way. Otherwise he could have enjoyed this moment a lot more. "She's the Chosen One. It was going to happen eventually."

"She's not the Chosen One!" the old woman cried.

Kiernan looked up at her so fast it made his head spin.

"What do you mean?" he asked hoarsely. "I thought--you said--"

"I know what I said." She hiccupped. "Clem isn't the Chosen One. I am. And now--"

She nattered on, but her words buzzed around him like flies. She couldn't be the Chosen One. She had to be at least eighty. The wizards would never...

She had asked him something.

"What?" he said vaguely.

"Please--please--can you take us?"

"Of course," he said, still vaguely, and with no idea what she was talking about. She thanked him profusely, but his ability to understand speech had abandoned him. She couldn't be the Chosen One, he kept thinking. She couldn't be. She couldn't be. She couldn't...

But he couldn't come up with a plausible reason why she'd say she was, when the girl was the one who had just been spirited off to Dominion. When it was completely implausible that the Council of Wizards would ever actually name an old woman as the Chosen One.

Which meant that she really was the Chosen One. Which meant he'd sent Shira off with the wrong person. A single thought crystallized in his whirling brain: Oh, sh--

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683 Reviews

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Sun Jul 29, 2018 10:17 pm
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LadyBird wrote a review...


Man, it's kinda getting hard to insult your chapters. Like I've always been at the point of appreciating and enjoying your novel, but it used to be so easy to point out so many mistakes. Darn, you're actually improving in all of the places that I've been trying to get you improve on for so long.
Guess this means I'll have to do some actual work.

Their carpet whipped by him, aflame, and flopped about on the sidewalk in a weird carpet version of stop, drop, and roll.

Not that he cared.

Yeah, you're doing a great job of not caring, dude. As you rescue a bunch of people from a burning people, the people that you were supposed to be hunting? Like super duper job not caring, pretty sure you're gonna get a raise for saving your lover.

I actually chose the description line above the caring part, simply because it felt out of place for the rest of the matter being presented to us. I do get the point of having the serious and funny balance, but it still seems to be switching too quick, which just leaves the readers with a bit of whiplash.
So that's an overreaching thing that you need to work on, because I am pretty sure that I have complained about your balance and transitions in almost every chapter review.

Kiernan's reaction to Edna being the chosen one is probably the best reaction in the entire book, because everyone else just accepted it as like "wizard council bs". Since the other characters were probably so used to wizard council bs and Kiernan is used to a career in slaying chosen teenagers.
And then again, obviously he does care...

That part is a little bit confusing though so I will be recommending that you seriously reword that section.

And I think I should be about done for now.


BlueAfrica says...

Lmao you think it's hard for now but just wait until the serious rush chapters when everything happens too fast and nothing's been established that needs to be.

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441 Reviews

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Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:29 pm
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Magestorrow says...

I know I said I'd just leave a review on the newest chapter but I got a kick out of Kiernan's reaction to finding out Edna is the chosen one.

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Sat Jun 16, 2018 2:30 am
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Lauren2010 wrote a review...

Hello hello! I'm back again, here to catch up on this end of the novel (I promise I'm reading the next 10k you sent me, and will have that feedback to you soon!!)

I love this. I adore that we get to see an antagonist's perspective of this big battle, though I do wish we got to slow down at points to really savor Kiernan's perspective. I know you're speeding through for LMS but there's just a lot of opportunities here for some really big moments that you'll want to take advantage of in the next draft.

I also really enjoy that Edna's big reveal of being the Chosen One doesn't happen in her perspective. I have more thoughts on that later, but I do think that's a really good move!

He nodded and sprinted onwards, trying not to panic each time one of his friends dropped to the ground after a brief encounter with Clem's sword. At least she wasn't killing them.

I think I'm confused as to why Clem ISN'T killing them?

It was another to let an old woman and a guy you'd shared a drink with burn to death on a porch right in front of you.

Right, so I know he thinks Clem is the Chosen One and I think is meant to be a sympathetic guy and they've got some sort of history. But doesn't he know that Edna and Benjamin are with Clem? That they're helping the Chosen One? Why wouldn't he view their deaths as a heavy blow to the Chosen One?

And then! Well then Edna reveals that SHE is the Chosen One. And isn't Kiernan supposed to be trying to capture the Chosen One? But Edna asks him to take her to save Clem, but Edna is the Chosen One that Kiernan is trying to capture? Maybe she doesn't know Kiernan is evil, but Kiernan should surely get that this is a golden opportunity to snatch the real Chosen One and catch up?

I totally get that you need all of these people to wind up in Dominion together, and you're writing a lot and just trying to get to the end. And that's okay! I'm just curious about people's sides here and who everyone thinks everyone else is working for, and what people's motivations are. If any of that makes sense xD

I'm also wondering about Edna's big reveal here. I mean, maybe she doesn't know Kiernan is evil so it's not as big of a thing to her? But this is a pretty dang moment. In the next draft, I think I'd like to see it given a little more weight I think. I imagine she's been hiding this fact about herself (maybe not though??) and it would feel pretty momentous to the reader for this exchange to finally happen. Just something to think about!

Otherwise, lovely work even in the face of some mad writing goals. I can't wait to read more!


BlueAfrica says...

So in the next draft I actually want to do more with Edna's status as the Chosen One, because it only really occurred to me in recent weeks that, like, no one outside their little group, the Council of Wizards, and Redway's gang even knows that there's a Chosen One. Or if they do no one ever talks about it, it never really comes up, etc aaaaaaaaaand that seems dumb.

ANYWAY hopefully as you read and see more of Kiernan's earlier chapters you'll get a little more that will help you out here, but also my original plan for his course of action early on was different and I'll probably go back to it in the next draft so things from this point on make more sense.

I have so many things that I already know I want to do 100% differently in the next draft it's not even funny

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Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:32 pm
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Panikos wrote a review...

Hiya, Blue! Back again. I read this a while ago, but the memory of my excitement when I saw Kiernan's name is still fresh in my mind. My boy is back.

Small Comments

a Knight who was rolling on the ground to put out the flames that had caught on their jacket

This feels needlessly wordy. 'To extinguish the flames on their burning jacket', perhaps?

Kiernan nodded but couldn't leave without wiping her glasses off on his shirt and putting them back on her face.

I love this detail. It's strangely adorable.

Kiernan's head felt like lead. He felt like an idiot for barreling into a fire that way. Otherwise he could have enjoyed this moment a lot more. "She's the Chosen One. It was going to happen eventually."

Hmm, this seems like a bit of a harsh thing to say given that he's still keeping shtum about his allegiance to Redway. I know Edna's distraught, but I'm surprised she didn't pick up on his lack of sympathy.

Which meant that she really was the Chosen One. Which meant he'd sent Shira off with the wrong person. A single thought crystallized in his whirling brain: Oh, sh--

I'm not sold on this as a closing line. In principle, it's funny, but there's something about the rhythm and arrangement of it that doesn't quite work for me. I think it's the 'a single thought crystallized in his whirling brain' part, but I can't really explain why I don't like it. Maybe it just paves the way for his internal thoughts too obviously.

Overall Thoughts

1) As papillote alluded to, it is really interesting to see the battle from Kiernan's perspective. It kind of reminds me of the chapter after Edna defends the town from the dragon, where Kiernan follows the wounded beast to where it lands and stays with it as it dies. We see the humanity on both sides of the battlefield, which makes it harder to root for either side. I particularly loved the moment with Joe because it actually showed the camaraderie between the antagonists - which is only furthered by the fact that Kiernan thinks of the other attackers as 'friends', not as soldiers or comrades or anything militant. That's one of the things I particularly love about this novel.

2) Your description is better in this chapter than in the previous one, but I still struggled to visualise what was going on when Kiernan got to the hotel. I couldn't picture where he was relative to the building, and you didn't clearly signpost where Edna and Benjamin actually were on the porch when he went to save them. The rest of the chapter was easy enough to follow, though, so that is an improvement.

3) I know you draw attention to Edna failing to ask about Kiernan's sudden appearance, but it still struck me as odd. They barely know the guy, really, so it's pretty strange that he'd just crop up out of the blue to conveniently rescue them from a fire. I guess I can chalk it up to Edna being distracted, but I feel like it's a question that should be asked later, once the chaos abates somewhat.

4) I liked the detail about fae and elves being kin, as well as Kiernan's warped idea of 'innocent'. He's so coldly triumphant about Clem's capture, even in the face of Edna's despair. Exactly what cause is he rallied behind that he can derive joy from a teenage girl being dragged away screaming from her companions? I am so curious to find out the motivation behind everything Redway and co. are doing.

5) Seeing Edna finally reveal that she's the Chosen One was amazing, especially under the circumstances. I've been eager to see Kiernan discover the truth for ages, but you picked the best moment for it. It's hard not to laugh at him.

In summary, it was great to see Kiernan again, as I always love your villain-perspective chapters. There's a bit of white room writing here and there, but it's mostly solid, and I adore the revelation at the end.

Keep writing! :D

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Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:24 am
papillote wrote a review...

Yay !!!! Stuff happens and…Kiernan !!!!

First, let me tell you: it was weird seeing the exact same battle from his perspective. Especially when Jo went down. I like Jo, she’s awesome. Sniff. And she was so brave. “I’m not dying. Keep going.” And Kiernan was so sweet to put her glasses back on her.
That was a theme here: Kiernan being sweet. He was so sweet and worried for his own comrades. And, then, he took the risk to run in a burning building to help Benjamin and Edna. You really do a great job building up Kiernan’s character. He’s a reluctant hero. He spends as much time helping as he does grumbling about everything. I can imagine how he became best friend with Red. It probably tells great things about Redway too.

I was glad about two things. First, I liked that Clem didn’t kill any of them and none of them killed either Clem, Edna or Benjamin. It makes me hope that they might all get along in the end. Second, I liked that there were other baddies who attacked Clem and Kiernan was ready to jump in and help so they could kidnap her.
I’ve revised my Dan theory. Maybe his family was abducted by the Knights to keep him compliant! Or maybe he sent them away because he knows the Knights are bad news! And then, he stood up to them to save Clem. Go, Dan!

Side-note: Beatrice’s devotion is so cute.

I thought the sunlight shining through the fire was such a nice detail.
I think I spotted a small typo: “The smoke was in his lungs and his dreds and his clothes”, I think you meant “The smoke was in his lungs and his dreads and his clothes”.

Otherwise, what a great chapter…I want more.

BlueAfrica says...

Dang it I thought I fixed that! Yeah, I put "dreds" and then I was like "Wait, maybe not" and googled it and found that it is in fact "dreads" like you said, but...I was still writing, so evidently I googled it and then never actually bothered fixing it lol.

Glad you liked it! The next bit is not strictly necessary but we'll see what people think. I have translating to do into Spanish first, though.

papillote says...

Oh, careful with that. I've got a contest with a friend to find the worst French translations in American book. You guys are genius...

papillote says...

I mean that! It's like there's an entirely different country with an entirely different language that only exists in American stereotypes!

BlueAfrica says...

Heh heh heh. Well, luckily I have some connections.

papillote says...

Okay, good. If you ever need something translated to French, I'm your woman ;)

BlueAfrica says...


That there's some good in this world, Mr Frodo - and it's worth fighting for.
— Samwise Gamgee