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These New Ashes- Chapter One

by starryknightt

Chapter One

Being brandished by the King to his enemies was no easy task. Like a knife or a spear, I had to be sharp, impeccable. Unafraid. Completely capable. And most of all, intimidating.

When night fell, I was no longer a typical seventeen-year-old girl. I became a weapon.

Now, as the servants draped shimmering black cloth over my shoulders, I stood straight before the mirror. I lifted my chin, raised my shoulders. Regality. Fear. Be what they want you to be.

All in black and silver, I became what the kingdom’s people only dared whisper about. The name caught from the shadowed alleyways, the King’s protector. She who darkness follows. Nyx. Lady of the night.

The servants curled my fiery hair, keeping it plain and manageable. Then, they tucked it into my midnight cloak and pulled the hood over my head. The stark red would only damage my appearance. My eyes were traced in black, and the rest of my face went without decoration. Plain. Sharp. Unblemished, except for the one design that crossed my right eyelid, and traveled down the line of my jaw. Jagged and bloodred. My Mark completed me.

My hands were hidden in long, elegant sleeves, as the servants slid a knife into my left palm.

All at once, they stepped away, and I stumbled. The world spun and my knees went soft. Darkness swam before me. The servants’ shadows stretched and warped, blinking their red eyes at me. They bared their fangs and hissed. Footsteps echoed around the room and sharp nails dug into my shoulders, hoisting me up.

I screamed and thrashed, my booted foot connecting with someone’s body. Tears streamed down my cheeks and I couldn’t breathe. They couldn’t take me. No no no no no.

Someone faced me and shoved a vial of sour contents down my throat. I gagged, the liquid burning like acid. It burned all the way down into my stomach, lava to my insides. I heaved a breath, and the shadows shrank away from me, ruby eyes fading, and returned to their owners. I slumped, my eyes flickering shut.

“Violet,” someone hissed in annoyance.

I opened my eyes to find several frustrated faces meeting my gaze. Slowly, I lifted a hand. A servant with dusty brown hair carefully grabbed it and jerked me to my feet.

Once again facing the mirror, I frowned at my reflection. My hood had fallen off during the frenzy, showing my glaring red hair. The brown haired servant delicately placed the hood back where it belonged.

Servants back at work again, I stood still. I felt numb, a feeling I was quite familiar with. My heart pounded faintly in my ears, and I heard each breath I took, my chest calmly rising and falling. Serenity. The vial gave me peace.

One last woman adjusted my silver bodice, then secured my cloak. I fingered my knife.

My chamber doors were pulled open, and I was swept into the corridor. Guards immediately followed me, ensuring safety. The King’s pet couldn’t risk falling into any other hands. Their crisp blue and white uniforms stayed in my periphery.

I passed sculpture after sculpture, marble pedestals laced with gold. Great, yawning windows lined the entire leeward side of the palace, melted moonlight streaming through them and into my corridor, splashing onto the paintings opposite. Ancient members of the royal family peered down at me, their canvas faces fixed into permanent frowns.

My boots clicked across the marble beneath me, and we took a turn. This corridor contained no windows, lit only by flaming torches listed on golden sconces. More paintings filled the spaces in between, but this time of deceased Kings and Sovereigns, all angry and wrinkled.

This trip was as familiar to me as the back of my own hand. My only escapes from my chambers consisted of this. Of being displayed like a prized trophy.

The few servants we passed were all familiar and surely trusted enough to be out after dark. The new Sovereign- though I’d never seen him myself- had posted a strict curfew for all castle occupants a few years ago. The day before I’d first been let out of my chambers. Maybe he considered me a danger. Maybe that was why he’d never seen me himself as the old Sovereign had.

My lips twisted into an amused smirk as we reached a set of mahogany double doors. A servant to my left announced our presence with the huge bronze door-knocker in the center. It was shaped into a coiled viper, the King’s signature animal. The knock echoed through the silent hall.

We stood in silence for a while, until someone coughed behind us.

I turned around and noticed that the guards and servants were all kneeling, foreheads pressed to the cold floor. I locked eyes with the King and gave a nod. “Your Imperial Supremacy,” I said. That was all the respect he would receive of me, and he knew that. Of course, he didn’t complain.

The old man licked his lips. “Rise,” he said briskly, and the ones beneath us rose. Hesitantly, he met my gaze, ruddy gray eyes full of… fear.

I wanted to laugh.

“We are doing something different tonight,” the King explained, already bustling down the hall. Some of my guards moved between us as if to protect him.

I stayed silent, head held high as we picked up the pace.

“You understand, Miss Kendryek,” King Alistair began, shooing the servants down a different corridor we passed, “that this occasion is especially crucial?”

I bristled at his use of my surname. “Aren’t they all, Your Majesty?” I said, swallowing my discomfort in the waves of peace held in my chest. The steady rhythm of my heartbeat pulsed in my ears. I sighed.

“Of course, of course,” he replied calmly. “I would not ask for anything unimportant. This occasion may rise just a bit above the others, as you will soon see. I need you to be on your best behavior.”

My “best behavior” consisted of deadly smiles and sharpened knives. I rubbed my thumb along the wooden hilt of the one hidden in my sleeve. “Yes, sire.”

“Wonderful,” Alistair said in front of me. “Let’s begin.”

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353 Reviews

Points: 25581
Reviews: 353

Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:05 pm
Tuckster wrote a review...

Hey there starryknightt! I saw your second chapter and figured I might as well start from the beginning. Let's jump right into it!

They couldn’t take me. No no no no no.
I don't particularly like the last sentence here. It doesn't seem to add anything to your work and makes it feel less professional. Besides, if she's speaking, there should be quotation marks, and if she's thinking, it should be italicized so that it doesn't read like part of the narration.

swallowing my discomfort in the waves of peace held in my chest.
I don't think "in" is the right preposition to use here. This sentence doesn't really make sense to me, but I can still get the general idea of what you're trying to say.

As far as your characters, my biggest struggle is that I feel like I don't really know who your characters are or what their motivation is. They felt one-sided throughout this and I didn't really connect with your protagonist. She seems like a strong, independent woman, but she didn't seem like a full person, just a caricature of a protagonist without a deep personality. I think if you fleshed her out a little bit more and made her seem more like a person rather than just a strong hero, she would be a more relatable and generally likable character.

My other piece of advice for you is to vary your sentence structure. You have a tendency to use a lot of short sentences, sometimes even just one word sentences, and while that can be very effective and you shouldn't get rid of them entirely, your writing would flow better and have a better rhythm if you added some medium-length sentences and some long, flowing sentences rather than the short, choppy sentences you have now. You also overused metaphors as a way of describing things—there were some situations where it was very effective, but you used them so much it just became old quickly.

And finally, don't be afraid to add some more detail! While you should definitely avoid info-dumping, especially in the first chapter, try to immerse your reader in the world through the five senses. Describe what they see, hear, feel, smell, taste, and how they feel through their mannerisms, body language, slight movements, etc.

Hopefully this was helpful to you and didn't come off as too harsh! I think you have a great skeleton here, and I hope that by implementing my suggestions you'll be able to take this from good to great. I can't wait to read more! And finally, the most important suggestion anyone can ever offer you: keep writing.


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19 Reviews

Points: 3
Reviews: 19

Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:12 pm
RandomVanGloboii wrote a review...

Hi, here's my impression!
This chapter feels mysterious and someway intriguing. We see a scene packed with action and a bit of emotion, but I'm left with wishing to know more about the protagonist, how she became the king's assassin at such a young age. This should encourage further reading, although I also fear she may be result overpowered. Of course, without knowing the rest, it's hard to tell.
The style sounds refined. Usually with amateur writers I find a lot of times difficulty in writing the protagonist's feelings and thoughts from their point of view, but you focus a lot on them. Maybe also a little too much, some less descriptions could make the reading smoother - the sense of the action gets a little lost and it's not too clear what happened.
To conclude, I always approve cliffhangers. You need to create curiosity when people don't know you.
That's what I think! See ya!

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11 Reviews

Points: 338
Reviews: 11

Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:19 am
Riellehn wrote a review...

First, some of the problems I see. You seem to have fallen victim to something a lot of writers have trouble with; that is, the narrater description. In your case, it's treated like you're pressed for time, as though you're writing a short story of less than 10,000 words. If that's the case, there are still better ways to do this, but if not, then know this; you have all the time in the world. You don't need to establish a large chunk of your character in the first few paragraphs, and especially not by simply telling us.
Being brandished by the King to his enemies was no easy task. Like a knife or a spear, I had to be sharp, impeccable. Unafraid. Completely capable. And most of all, intimidating.

When night fell, I was no longer a typical seventeen-year-old girl. I became a weapon...

All in black and silver, I became what the kingdom’s people only dared whisper about.

While the simile at the beginning is well put together, it is still iffy for the purpose of characterization. The second paragraph, I must admit, had me a tad irked; it's best to stray away from cliches such as "typical ______." All three feel like hasty characterizations, and feel like you're telling us aspects of her, rather than showing us them.

The best way to fix this is to give yourself more breathing room; you don't need to rush these things, and it's best that you don't. Rather than saying she had to be sharp, impeccable, unafraid, etc, show us how she does these things, and what affect they have on her personality and her life. Leave out the part where you tell us she changes when night falls; instead, put more emphasis on the change, the mindset shift, the psyching up for the night hours, the preparation for what's ahead. That would help the reader understand the character a lot more. And rather tell telling us of how people only dare whisper of her, instead show us when she's walking through a crowd of such people. Overall, this chapter needs to be treated like you're trying to fill several pages worth; as of right now, it's lacking in detail.

That being said, I'm still hooked! I love the imagery used, and I'm definitely going to be paying attention to this story.

First off, the part where the servants are helping her. The fact that I can clearly picture what she looks like is amazing; like I said before, the thing that would improve this is making it clearer what kind of mental preparation it takes. You have the physical down on point! One thing confused me though, and it was certainly meant to; when she collapses, and the servants do something. It was a peculiar moment of weakness for "she who the darkness follows..." and it was done beautifully. I love how such an inner conflict is already being established for the protagonist, and it definitely was the bit that had me well and truly hooked.

Speaking of conflict, Nyx and the king. This too, was beautifully done. You managed to strike that balance between giving us the tension, but not yet hinting at the cause; is it just because they hate each other? Or does it run deeper than that? I don't know, but I'm willing to read more to find out! And the contrast between "King's protector" and "King's pet" really gives the sense that Nyx is very unhappy in her position. I anticipate conflict!

Overall, some parts need work, but some are done beautifully. I will definitely be following this story as it continues, and providing advice wherever you or I feel it's needed. Have a wonderful day!

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113 Reviews

Points: 5242
Reviews: 113

Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:30 pm
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xJade wrote a review...

Wesh! I'm Professor Jade and I'm just going to give this a quick review. Let's go!

Let me start with what I enjoyed:
The characters all sound like their own person. Love that!
I wasn't looking for them, but I don't think I saw any spelling mistakes.
Their names were impeccable.
The plot was good and moved forward smoothly.
The fact you kept us in suspense about the protagonist's name!

The flow feels choppy.
A few lines feel forced.
Also, don't be afraid to make this a bit longer. You lack detail.

Where do I sign up for the fandom? I enjoyed reading this and please tell me when part two comes out! Also, if you want me to elaborate on anything I said, let me know.


Oh my goodness! Thank you so much. I know the writing kinda sucks- I wrote this a couple of years ago and have progressed past this point. However, I'm just posting for the plot. Second drafts can happen later. I'm very happy you liked it!

Btw, I have about 13 more chapters of this already written, so stay tuned.

xJade says...

XD I'll be waiting

The ink in which our lives are inscribed is indelible.
— Helena 'HG' Wells, Warehouse 13