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The Hero's Brother (4.2)

by mellifera

Whisper stood in the aisle, Achille lead by the reins from his bridle. His head was down, wide brown eyes filtering through the stable as he tried to identify his surroundings for any possible threats that might pop out.

Winnie,” Carter said again, hurrying to compose himself. He wiped sweat-soaked hands off on his pants before wringing them together. “Um, I- what are you doing? Here, I mean. What are- what are you doing here?” He felt his cheeks and ears grow hot. “I-I mean not that I don’t- that wasn’t because I wanted to-”

They raised their hand that wasn’t holding Achille’s reins, and gave Carter one of their gentle smiles that drained some of the tension from his tightly wound nerves. “Relax,” they said, walking forward with Achille following close beside them. They put their hand on Carter’s shoulder. “I was looking for you. The new stablehand at Ironhill’s said you’d come in today with one of the Norman Cobs.”

The Norman- oh!” Carter stepped back quickly, gripping the lead rope in his hand. “I need to grab Fabella!” he blurted, before realising what he had said and holding his mouth open in a panic.

The barn lights flickered, the bright, pale glow casting a sheen over Whisper’s dark skin. Carter really needed to change the bulbs. Except he wouldn’t be here, of course, that was silly. He was going to be rescuing Shiloh with Gideon and Isha.

And now he had just spoiled it all by sticking his foot in his mouth, with Gideon right around the corner.

To Carter’s dismay, Whisper tilted their head, grey eyes shimmering in the light. They looked almost as though they were glowing, but then again, Whisper always had a sort of glow about them.

Why do you need Fabella?” Whisper asked, voice gentle with a slight rasp. It was then they glanced towards Reese and Villa, both tied to posts, ready to be brushed and tacked. “And Reese and Villa.” They turned back to Carter, a soft distorting their soft features. “Carter, what’s going on? Are you okay?”

No, Carter thought hysterically, trying desperately to back track in his mind, no I’m very not-okay. “Um,” he offered helpfully, taking several more steps away from Winnie as if he could run from them. “I just- um, well you see- um, I’m-I’m busy right now! It’s for- clients! Bazzoli wanted them out as a-a sample! For the stock! And, um, they’re the best mannered and look proper.”

He knew he had said the wrong thing the moment the words left his mouth and Whisper’s expression grew harder. “You’ve told me several times about Villa’s coronet band.” They looked over the two Mérens again. “You’ve never lied to me before.”

The musty, warm air seemed to grow hotter the longer Carter stood there. He felt like his lungs were being squeezed in his chest, right alongside his heart. They were right. Carter never lied to Whisper. He looked down at the lead rope in his hands, fighting to spit words out, but it felt like there was something clogging his throat.

He wrung the rope in his hands, twisting it over and over as though trying to dry it out. But it wasn't wet. Carter felt blood rushing in his ears, worried for a moment that they would simply start bleeding. Maybe that would get him out of this mess though.

"She's gone," Carter said without any thought. Suddenly, his eyes stung with tears and he felt like somebody else was in control. He tilted his head up to meet Winnie's eyes, his chest coiling like a tight wire. "Shiloh's gone, Winnie."

Whisper's expression softened. They turned, leading Achille away and quickly tying him next to Reese and Villa. Then, they walked back over to Carter and gently pushed him back until he sat down on a bucket.

"What do you mean, gone?" Whisper asked, ever patient and anchoring. Carter imagined her like a ship in a storm, that never cracked or faltered from its course.

Carter felt like an idiot. He hadn't meant to say that, but it felt like getting hit in the chest by a stone wall. Carter didn't realise how much he had been suppressing the situation, but now he'd gone and told Whisper, and he had the face the fact it was real, not to mention Gideon-

"Then let me help you find her," Whisper said, smiling ever-patiently at him. "You have Reese here already. Tell Bazzoli you had to run to town if he asks. I'll vouch for you."

He couldn't help but laugh, a tight and wet noise that hurt more than anything but everything felt a little ridiculous. "No I- that's not- you can't-" A tiny part of Carter wanted to shake Whisper but he knew that would solve nothing and would only hurt them unnecessarily. He buried his face in his hands instead. "It's not that simple," he mumbled, words muffled.

"Does it have something to do with whoever is crouching in Remy's stall?" they asked. Carter's head snapped up and he stared, wide-eyed, at Whisper. 

Behind her, he watched Gideon stand up from the other side of the bars and lean against the side of the stall door. He was scowling. "You told her," he said to Carter accusingly, crossing his arms over his chest.

Carefully, Whisper turned where they crouched in front of Carter to silently observe Gideon.

Dust tickled in Carter’s nose at the most inopportune moment and he sneezed, before standing up too quickly and making his head spin. “I-I didn’t! You-you heard me talking the whole- you heard me to whole time!” Carter started ringing the lead rope through his hands again.

Gideon looked between them for a moment before his jaw tightened and he grunted. “Just get her out of here and go grab the other horse. We need to leave before someone finds us or we run out of time.”

No need.” Whisper raised themselves to their feet and smiled brightly at Gideon, who only seemed to puff up further. Their short, wild curls haloed around their head as they brushed one side behind their ear. “I’ll come with you. I already have a horse.”

Absolutely not,” Gideon snapped. “This is none of your business and there’s no space. Get lost.”

Carter frowned. He wanted to say something, spit back something at Gideon or scold him for talking to Winnie like that. They’re my friend. I should say something. That’s not fair.

He didn’t. His tongue seemed to take up all the room in his mouth to block out the words, so he settled for flushing a hot red and staring angrily at Gideon’s boots.

Whisper paused, studying Gideon carefully for a long time until he shifted uncomfortably under the weight of their calm, curious stare. Then, they tilted their head.

I suppose you know how to tack up these horses then? You seem to be in a hurry. Shame if Carter was the only one around who could do so.” The lights flickered, more ominous and purposely then before. They seemed to glow brighter when they turned back on, but all the shadows in the barn appeared deeper.

He had to squint, but Carter could have sworn it made Gideon flush under the burn rolling from the lights overhead.

Get the damn horse,” Gideon finally ordered Carter, stomping away.

Carter opened his mouth to ask Gideon where he was going but decided to hold his tongue instead. He didn’t want to make Gidoen more upset than he already was.

Before he turned to Whisper, he could feel their gaze resting on him. He shook his head before they could say anything. “Could you, um. Could you please start brushing them?” he asked quietly, turning towards the indoor arena. “I’m-I’m going to, um, grab Fabella.”

He hesitated for a moment, and Whisper put their hand on his shoulder. He glanced up, meeting their soft gaze and felt a slight release from his chest. He did his best to give them a smile to signify he was okay.

You’re going to have to tell me what’s going on,” Winnie told him. Carter nodded quickly, dark curls falling into his eyes and bouncing around his head.

Then he turned away and started the trek out to grab Fabella. If he someone had told him last week that his sister had gone missing, and he would get tangled up with the coterie, and steal horses from his boss, he likely would have laughed. Nervously, maybe, but it might have even been genuine.

Now he just felt nauseous. Best not to think about it, he tried to convince himself, as he started crossing the sandy arena.

The idea of Shiloh lying to him…he couldn’t say that it didn’t make his heart compress enough to hurt without making himself more of a liar than he already was. What was she thinking, if she really had joined the coterie? Even Carter knew that was a stupid idea, and he often acted on spur of the moment impulses.

He didn’t know how this whole mess was going to turn out and he didn’t want to. It made him too dizzy.

But at least he had Whisper. Right?

word count: 1,543

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53 Reviews

Points: 233
Reviews: 53

Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:00 pm
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Gnomish wrote a review...

Hi again!

Sorry I haven't been reviewing consistently, but I have been reading the chapters!

First of all, I really hope Gideon and Carter get together! I may be miss reading the scenes, but it definitely seems like there's some "romantic tension" or whatever, going on.

Secondly, I'm still a bit confused about why Carter is doing this in the first place. I get that he wants to find his sister, but if I were him I would just trust Isha and Gideon.

Anyways, not really an issue, just an observation! That's all for this chapter!

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1135 Reviews

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Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:58 pm
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JabberHut wrote a review...


And I was WRONG. AND RIGHT. Achille is totally coming, but Achille is not the third horse.

I was pleasantly surprised that Whisper decided to come alone so quickly but at the same time, I'm not surprised. IT's weird. I wonder if it's because we don't really know Whisper well enough. Do they have any family or obligations here at home? Is Carter the only person Whisper really cares about?

It makes sense to me if Whisper has no one else to live for in Midvale, that being there for Carter is the one thing they feel duty-bound to do. It doesn't make sense, though, if they have family or other friends that could suspect their absence and would, in turn, worry Whisper.

The interaction between Gideon and Whisper made me laugh. I'm going to ENJOY THIS IMMENSELY.

I think this will be good for Carter though. He's a very anxious MC and needs someone around to ground him a bit to keep things moving. They also appear to be very... knowing. Observant. And might play more significance later than I know at the moment, but there's enough eerieness around them that makes Whisper's existence intriguing.

I was totally worried though that Bazzoli was just going to burst in on the three of them while Whisper was talking to Carter, maybe even glaring at Gideon and giving him away. THAT WOULD MAKE ME NERVOUS.

I feel better knowing now that Achille is coming along. With Whisper, but he is coming. And I am content.

I enjoyed this chapter as a whole though. Looking forward to more!

Jabber, the One and Only!

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584 Reviews

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Mon May 20, 2019 8:27 am
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Panikos wrote a review...

Hi mellifera! Back to review.

Small Comments

“The Norman- oh!” Carter stepped back quickly, gripping the lead rope in his hand. “I need to grab Fabella!”

I don't really get why he blurts this out? It seems fairly unrelated to the dialogue preceding it. It comes across like you just wanted a way to make Whisper suspicious and change the direction of the conversation, rather than being something Carter would actually say.

They turned back to Carter, a soft distorting their soft features.

Another cracking typo :P

"What do you mean, gone?" Whisper asked, ever patient and anchoring. Carter imagined her like a ship in a storm

I assume this is supposed to be 'them'?

"She's gone," Carter said without any thought. Suddenly, his eyes stung with tears and he felt like somebody else was in control. He tilted his head up to meet Winnie's eyes, his chest coiling like a tight wire. "Shiloh's gone, Winnie."

I've mentioned this in other reviews, but I think you spend too much time telling us about Carter's emotional state, and it slows your dialogue down. Here is a classic example - you've got two descriptors of his inner feelings when one would do. You could just have:

"She's gone," Carter said. His eyes stung with sudden tears. "Shiloh's gone."

That would make the same point much more succinctly. It's good to delve into the physicality of how Carter is feeling, but you do it an awful lot, often at the expense of pacing. Just remember that a single piercing image is often enough to communicate a meaning to the reader.

Overall Thoughts

I mostly agree with the other reviewers that this chapter is a bit rushed. But perhaps that's the wrong word - I feel like the conversation with Whisper is slower paced than I would've liked, mostly due to the inclusion of too much detail about Carter's reactions and responses to things. But I concur with the others that it's strange Whisper agrees to go with Carter so suddenly, despite not knowing much about what's happened to Shiloh. I also don't really get why Gideon was swayed so quickly and decided to let them come along. Whisper made some comment about tacking the horses, but Carter is capable of that too. Is tacking a two-person job? I don't see why Gideon and Isha need two horse specialists. It'd make more sense if Whisper adamantly decided to come along and Gideon just let them because there was no time to argue.

I feel like this whole scene might come off better if there was a bit less discussion and decision-making and more urgency. Maybe Bazzoli shows up and they have to make a break for it, and Whisper, in a split-second decision, comes along with them. I just think it would be more believable (and possibly more exciting) if Whisper got tangled up in this mess unintentionally, then had to come along for the ride because it would create more problems for them to go back. I'd also like to see a lot more sense of time restraints in general in this fourth chapter, because it feels like they're moving at a pace that's a bit too leisurely. The threat of Bazzoli walking in on them doesn't feel real enough.

That's all my thoughts for this chapter! I'm looking forward to seeing them get onto the road. Are they going to have a run-in with Bazzoli before they escape? I kind of hope so...

Keep writing! :D

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272 Reviews

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Reviews: 272

Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:39 pm
elysian wrote a review...

and we're back again :-)

**disclaimer: I will most likely focus on negative aspects more so than positive aspects when reviewing, and this is just to help you grow as a writer! It is totally okay not to agree with something I say! Also, If I repeat anything already said, it's probably because it needs to be changed!**

soooo winnie and whisper is the same PERSON, not a horse xD got it xD

If he someone had told him last week that his sister had gone missing, and he would get tangled up with the coterie, and steal horses from his boss, he likely would have laughed.

take out he after If

from Messy's review:

So the lights. Smooth foreshadowing *no pun intended*, because Whisper obviously has magic, but you didn't scream it out, you just snuck it in smoothly, And that means Whisper is totally going to be a big part of this story and that is exciting.

uh...obVIOUSLY...I had no clue whisper had powers...

again, not much to say about this chapter. I don't know if it's because it's in parts or what, I just felt like this and the last chapter were both super short and didn't have a lot of detail to them. Just a liiiittle more detail would go a long way, if you know what I mean?

Sorry these reviews are so short, but at least I'm getting them in! ;-)

have a great day <3

- del

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Fri Oct 12, 2018 8:46 pm
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Messenger wrote a review...

Heere for part 2 today :D

“Winnie,” Carter said again, hurrying to compose himself. He wiped sweat-soaked hands off on his pants before wringing them together. “Um, I- what are you doing? Here, I mean. What are- what are you doing here?” He felt his cheeks and ears grow hot. “I-I mean not that I don’t- that wasn’t because I wanted to-”

hahaha see this works so well with Carter's stuttering. And I promise I'm not laughing at his anxiety, but this is a terrific little bit of humor in a story that has been pretty serious so far. This is also a good use of Carter's stutter.

Okay, I'm confused xD You use the words "They" "Their" and "They're" a bunch as if there is a second person here talking to Carter. But Winnie is Whisper's nickname, right? Or am I wrong? Because Whisper is the only one who talks, and yet you keep referring to "They" did this, or "they" did that. Maybe my memory is just bad because it's been a while since Chapter 1.

So the lights. Smooth foreshadowing *no pun intended*, because Whisper obviously has magic, but you didn't scream it out, you just snuck it in smoothly, And that means Whisper is totally going to be a big part of this story and that is exciting.

So, this chapter just made me feel uncomfortable. And I think that was the whole point. Everything seems like it's about to fall apart before it even gets off the ground, and especially from Carter's Point of view with his anxiety, it would all seem even worse than it probably is. Although, as the previous reviews say, it feels a little rushed, Whisper figuring out everything really fast, and a lot less confrontation happening between carter and Gideon toward Whisper than I would expect from Gideon. Idk. Maybe Whisper is just that cool.


mellifera says...

Thank you for your reviews!! Sorry I haven't really been replying, but I've been reading them and I'm grateful to you for them :D

The they/them/their are Whisper's pronouns actually? You're correct about Whisper/Winnie though because Winnie is their nickname, but no there isn't another person with them.

Again, thank you so much for your reviews!! I hope you're having a wonderful time :)

Messenger says...

haha glad to help. I know it can get busy :D

okay as in pronouns opposed to she her hers? That makes more sense. I was low-key like "there's no way scribbles messed up this many times" xD
I am enjoying the story. And I review basically every Origins class that I have to pass the time cuz the class is so sloooooow at 3PM >.< xD

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127 Reviews

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Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:37 am
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soundofmind wrote a review...

BACK AND READY TO SEE WHISPER YASSSSSS!! He didn't get to talk with them before he agreed to do the stuff with Gideon and Isha so I'm glad they're here now! I'm a little worried that Gideon is going to overhear though. I wonder if Whisper might be dragged into coming...? I SHOULD JUST READ TO FIND OUT.

Carter really needed to change the bulbs.

Now I just wonder how long he's been putting this off lol.

"Shiloh's gone, Winnie."

Why can I hear Gideon face-palming in the background?

The lights flickered, more ominous and purposely then before.

OHOHOOH maybe all those rumors about Whisper being a witch aren't all just rumors then? DOES WHISPER HAVE MAGIC? I THINK THEY DO!

Overall I really like how this wrapped up the chapter! I'm so happy Whisper is coming with! Carter has someone we know genuinely cares about him and can keep him grounded, and Whisper seems very... quietly intimidating. I'm pretty confident Whisper could hold their own, and I've only seen them like *counts on fingers* twice now. Also seeing Gideon maybe get flustered because he's clueless about horses is hilarious but also relatable. If he's used to crime and not animals, or whatever sneaky stuff he does, of course he doesn't know what the heck he's doing with horses. Just maybe he could be a little less condescending about it though, HAH.

It did feel a little... rushed though I guess. Winnie seems smart and I guess I wouldn't have expected them to just jump into whatever Carter was in without a lot of info first. I know they ask for the full story later, and I think Whisper gets that they're on a time limit with Gideon telling them to hurry, but I do wonder why they're so willing to potentially jump into something way over their heads. I mean, maybe that's what Whisper is like? Or maybe Whisper is just that dedicated and loyal to Carter - which IS AWESOME, and makes them a really good friend. I guess... well, everyone's making decisions of questionable judgement at this point, but I guess they need answers! Carter of course wants to find Shiloh! So the plot must go on!

I did have a little thought though that maybe Whisper knows more than they're letting on? Or maybe has at least some suspicions about what Shiloh is into? But I feel like Whisper would've shared such thoughts with Carter though. Since they said to Carter that Carter tells them everything. I'd think that'd be likewise, but maybe I'm wrong.

Also I just want to say that as many jabs as I make I Gideon, I really do appreciate his contrast as a character. Grumpy characters.... have my heart. Usually as long as they have some character development and legit reasons for being so, but I love how they add to the dynamics of a group lol.

I guess... I don't have a lot? But as always, I'm open to questions! I'm really enjoying the story so far!! So yay!

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Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:55 pm
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Carlito wrote a review...

Hello again!!

Okay Winnie = Whisper :) She's a good friend!

I could totally sense Carter's panic of my friend is here and I'm doing this suspicious/criminal stuff and Gideon is there watching me and what do I do????? Poor guy :p I think while that exchange is going on it would be cool if Winnie's back is to Gideon so she can't see him but Carter can see him and we see these looks from Gideon like "careful boy" to increase his level of panic.

When Carter breaks down and tells Winnie "she's gone", there isn't any firm clarification that he's talking about Shiloh. The reader knows and I'm sure Winnie assumes as much, but we don't have that confirmation that he's talking about Shiloh. Maybe have Winnie confirm it's Shiloh? Carter doesn't have to go into the whole story.

I found it interesting that Winnie was ready to jump into the mission when she has absolutely no idea what they're doing and why. It says a lot about her, and her friendship with Carter/Shiloh, that she's willing to do this so blind.

I thought the ending was a little rushed. Winnie wants to know what's going on, but then he never really does. He just retreats into introspection and knows that he has Winnie so it will all turn out okay. But does he really have Winnie? She's there for him, but will she still be there for him once she knows exactly what's going on? You obviously don't need to go into the whole story again because we already know the story, but I think before he goes into his introspection bit, you could have a paragraph telling us about how he tells Winnie what happened and show Winnie's reaction/confirmation that she still wants to be part of this.

Looking forward to reading on! Let me know if you have any questions or if you'd like feedback about something I didn't mention in the meantime! :D

here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a treee called life; which grows higher than the soul can home or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
— e.e. cummings