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Frieda Aflister, Chapter 1

by whatchamacallit


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

Cold rain drizzled against the window, seeping from the dull grey sky. My window frame rattled quietly and intermittently against the weak gusts of wind. Gazing at the dirty glass, my hazel eyes reflected back at me, heavily lidded with sleep. Beyond the smudged pane, I saw a merchant setting up her stall of fortune-telling trinkets on the street below. A handwritten sign proclaimed, "Gaze into the evasive future and be befuddled no more!" 

The calming rhythm of raindrops against the roof eased my anxious thoughts and lessened my angst, lulling me into a hazy stupor. My eyes were pulling themselves closed of their own accord, willing me to go back to bed.

I shook myself out of my senseless daze and left my spot at the window, making my way across the small bedroom. I quickly stuffed my blue woollen sweater over my head and then grabbed a decrepit black umbrella leaning against the wall. I stepped out into the narrow hall, pausing. The old wallpaper was faded, stained, and peeling, a reflection of the state of the apartment. I shared the top floor of a building with two roommates; below us was a store selling secondhand wands. Only criminals and the homeless and a few other odd sorts bought used wands, so as a result you never knew what sketchy characters might be just a floor beneath you.

Noticing the door to Petra's room was closed, I knocked and peeked in without waiting for a response. "Petra?" She was sitting on her bed, carving something from a small block of wood. Locks of wavy black hair fell onto her face. Carving was her way of coping with stress and anger; when someone had pissed her off or offended her, she always shut herself in her room and chiselled away at whatever she was creating. It seemed a little early in the morning for her already to have gotten into an argument with someone, and I was tempted to ask what was wrong. But knowing Petra, that only ever made things worse.

Looking up from her carving of a sailboat, she smiled tightly at me. "Hey. Are you off to work now? Crappy weather, isn't it."

"Yeah."

"Well, don't let me hold you up. Have fun shelving books in a language you don't even understand!" She smirked at me.

"I will just to baffle you," I said, playfulness creeping into my voice. "Have fun sulking and carving a ship destined to sink!"

"Aw, shut up, you idiot. You're free to go."

I clambered down the steep stairway with a smile on my mouth. Thank Arapalia I was roommates with Petra, and not some other obnoxious jerk. Well, Petra was an obnoxious jerk, but at least she was a lovable one.

Reaching the entry and opening the door, I stepped out onto the cracked, cobblestone street. Despite the gloomy weather and inhumanely early hour, it was still crowded with vendors, buyers, and people rushing to work. Across the street from where I stood, Egbert's Eclectic Eccentricities was already open and customers were trickling in. His wooden sign, that he had repainted only yesterday, was dripping and smudging in the rain. The ornate blue letters and embellished 'E's were barely legible.

I breathed in the smell of fresh rain, early morning air, and newly baked bread put out for morning customers. Sure, this part of Jover wasn't the tidiest, nicest, or safest, but there was no other city in Jadeland where you could see people riding camels through the streets, or vendors selling little Pygmy Enano dragons that could fit in the palm of your hand. And it was a place where I finally felt independent from my family, and my past and reputation. Here, people didn't stare at me and whisper, "oh, she's the girl that wants to join the army! Weirdo", or retain a tasteful distance from me when I went to the market.

I cleared my mind and ambled down the street, looking for any stalls that peaked my interest. My roommate Albin's birthday was soon, and I wanted to get him something thoughtful. He was finishing an Advanced Degree of Academia in magickal herbs and potions, and living in our hell hole of an apartment to save money. When I reached a vendor claiming to sell "potent herbs and ingredients to create incredibly effective potions," I stopped to look at his wares.

"Ah, miss, are you interested in some fresh farndicke leaves to create a beautifying concoction?" he grinned at me cheekily.

"I wouldn't know why I should need one," I retorted with a shake of my head. "But I would be interested in some pallvry roots, if you have any?"

"Ah, that's far too sophisticated for my little endeavour, missy. But we do have extremely potent costerbel seeds, just as effective in the removal of warts--"

I wandered away, disinterested by his scam. Reaching the main avenue, I waved down a carriage for hire. When the driver pulled to a stop, I gave her directions to the library where I worked. As I got settled in the back, she asked me, "What're you to do at the library, miss?"

I strained a polite smile. "A matter of work." I knew it was an innocent inquiry, to pass the time, but I wasn't in the mood to sustain a boring conversation about the joys of shelving books.

"An interesting job, I'm sure," she said uncertainly. Thanks be to the spirits, she didn't pursue the matter further. Probably couldn't care less about what went on behind closed doors in a building designed to store books.

When we pulled to a stop in front of the library, I gave the driver her change and stepped out, unfolding my umbrella to shield me from the drizzle. I stood for a moment, admiring the library. No matter how many times I stood before it, I was always impressed by the stately yet unimposing architecture. The whole front of the building was stained glass, depicting beautifully designed scenes from many famous works of Jadian literature. Each story was separated from the rest by beams of richly coloured wood. The doors were twice as tall as a person, and made from the same beautiful, exotic wood. They too were carved, with runes, to protect the premises from malevolent intentions. As I took in the magnificent building, I quickly rearranged my messy bob of curly hair and straightened my shoulders.

I mounted the steps, entering the library. The familiar, musty smell of old books greeted me, taunting me with adventures hidden in their pages that I could never experience. Tall shelves loomed upwards, filled and overflowing with books on every subject. Wanting to raise a unicorn? Needing instructions on love spells that didn't create "false lust" in your desired lover? Attempting to master the Mambrian dialect? A wealth of miscellaneous information, just a ladder's climb away. I padded on the muffling red carpet, following the winding rows of shelves to the back of the library, where teetering stacks of unshelved books tottered precariously.

Approaching my mentor who was standing anxiously in front of his desk, I greeted him. "M. Ilviny! Good morning."

"Oh, Ms. Aflister, hello," he rasped out, clearly uncomfortable about something. Not only that, it was odd for him to call me by my surname. He always called me Frieda.

His grey hair fell across his face, so I couldn't read his expression. What had upset him, I wondered. Had one of his friends died? He was getting rather old, so it wouldn't have surprised me.

"What's on the agenda for today?" I inquired, trying to keep a lighter mood.

"Well, about that...there's a bit of a problem, you see..." He squinted his eyes sadly.

"Nothing I can't fix?"

"Well no, I don't think you can fix this one m'dear. It's just..." Clearly unwilling to say whatever it was, he paused.

"It can't be so bad," I assured him.

Gathering his courage, he blurted: "I'm afraid I've been instructed to fire you."

1,342 words


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Mon Apr 27, 2020 4:22 pm
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Clairia wrote a review...



Hi there! I'm here to review as requested.

This was executed very well. It's got a very distinct Harry Potter-esque feeling, but a part of me loves that. The beautiful imagery really drew me in and reminded me of gloomy days past. You've certainly got a handle on pulling your reader in; I was instantly intrigued upon reading

I shared the top floor of a building with two roommates; below us was a store selling secondhand wands.

Wands, you say? You now introduce your audience to an entirely different universe than they may have expected when jumping into your work. However, piggybacking off of what Elinor said, until then, I was relatively bored. There was nothing for me to really latch onto other than the fact that...well, she was sleeping. It was raining. She didn't want to get up. It took me a bit to find something that sparked my interest. I'd suggest adding a hook that gives away your alternate universe a bit earlier--maybe your character sees something out of the window that's a bit out of the ordinary.

Your grammar was fantastic and I actually couldn't find anything else that I was unhappy with. Despite being a fantasy world, you made your character very real and easy to believe. I can already tell that I'm going to love this protagonist -- and your writing style is so beautiful that I know I'll keep track of your work.

That cliffhanger! You've left me in suspense, here, and I love it. You've made it very clear that this was unexpected to both the main character and Mr. Ilviny--and that it's sad news for both. I'm quite curious as to where this mentor/student relationship/friendship goes. I really enjoyed how you wrote your dialogue, as well.

This was such a fun read. Please ping me for chapter 3 +! I'll be reviewing Chapter 2 as soon as possible.
Thank you for stopping by The Review Tavern as well.

Happy writing (and thanks for sharing!)

Clairia






Thank you so much for the review!! I think I will try to make the opening more interesting, since several people have suggested it.



Clairia says...


That's awesome! You're incredibly talented. <3 Can't wait to see more of your work!



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Sun Apr 26, 2020 3:56 pm
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Elinor wrote a review...



Hi whatchamacallit!

My name is Elinor, and I'm here representing Slytherin house to review your novel. I saw the second chapter of this sitting in the Green Room, and I thought I would drop by to quickly review your first chapter before I moved on to Chapter 2.

I have to say that I loved this. I never got super into the Magic Treehouse books, but from what I did read of them your tone reminds me of them. Part Magic Treehouse, and part Harry Potter, actually. You have a very easy and accessible style to follow and I was really drawn into the world and the character that you created. And what a great cliffhanger to move onto the second chapter with! I also liked Frieda as a character and I'm curious about the kind of journey that she's going to go through in the rest of the novel.

The one comment that I would make is that this doesn't much feel like the beginning of the story. Your opening with the rain is good, but I need something that's really going to grab me from the first page, give me the sense that I'm about to not just read a story but go on a journey. Right now, she just wakes up and it's raining. It's a good opening, but I wanted a little bit more bite. Has she realized she's woken up late? Is there a project she's thinking about and excited to get back into, which will only make her firing sting that much more?

Just things to think about! I'm excited to read part 2. Hope this helps and keep writing! Amazing work, and slither on. By the way, if you post future chapters of this, feel free to tag me!

All the best,
Elinor

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Thank you for the review Elinor! I will make sure to tag you :]



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Sun Apr 26, 2020 3:54 pm
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Vita wrote a review...



I love this beginning! I like your world building, how colorful and vibrant her neighborhood seems. As a few previous reviews have mentioned, I'd have loved even more descriptions of the settings, especially towards the end, of the library.
Frieda seems like a very relatable character despite living in a fantasy world very different from ours. I like that there are many familiar elements to her world. Instead of a completely different world, it's more like a version of ours just with magic.
You hinted at just enough to keep the reader interested, which is good. I'm curious to know why she wasn't allowed to join the army. Was it because she was a girl? Some other reason? I'm also curious as to why she got fired. She clearly has a good relationship with her mentor, and the way he said it, "I've been instructed to fire you", made me think he had been forced to fire her and that there's some greater authority out to get her.
I don't really have a lot to criticize here, it was a really intriguing and solid first chapter. I can't wait to read more!




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Sun Apr 26, 2020 3:33 pm
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Gravitem wrote a review...



Hey! I'm Grav and I'll be reviewing your myth today!

What can I say? I loved your DESCRIPTIONS AND I LOVE IT AND LOVE IT AND LOVE IT.

Cold rain drizzled against the window, seeping from the dull grey sky.

oh I wish I could be here and wallow in melancholy T_T.

I shared the top floor of a building with two roommates; below us was a store selling secondhand wands.

Oh wow. WANDS!?!?!?!?! Count me in till the end!

I think the story progressed smoothly without any abrupt transitions. What I mean is that it was monotonous. If I were to give an example, I'd say that the if your story was a video, I never got the chance to distinguish between two films in the same clip. It always seemed to be in motion, if you get what I mean.

I was able to grow a certain familiarity with Frieda. There were no "out of nowhere" descriptions and everything she said and did, and thought - since its a first person narrative - gave me a basic idea of how she is, which is perfect for the first chapter of the book. I have enough of an idea to understand the next part with ease.

I don't think there's much you could have done better because everything seems perfect to me :) .

I think you began very well and I hope to see what surprises you have in store for me - and every other fellow reader - in the next chapters.

One more thing that's got me hooked to your story is Frieda's mentor. Briefly after being introduced to him, we see him firing our protagonist who seems to have a good relationship with him. Now, this wouldn't have been so important if the protagonist hadn't said "my mentor". I see that you haven't missed the importance of the relationships characters share with each other. This is essential and I'm glad that you have maintained your flow and "build-up" of Frieda's character while keeping small things - that make big differences - like this in mind.

I hope I helped you. :)

KEEP WRITING!!!!!

Yours sincerely,
Grav :D






Thank you for the review Myth! It was very helpful :) <3



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Fri Apr 10, 2020 6:26 am
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EternalRain wrote a review...



Hi! Here as requested.

I want to start by saying that this is totally the type of book I would pick up in a bookstore. I'm loving this overall vibe. I've been really intrigued by fantasy novels set in a very kingdom/magic type of place recently and right off the bat this piques my interest.

I love how we hop right into Frieda's pretty normal (albeit fantastical and magical!) world. She has roommates and lives above a sketchy wand shop (speaking of wands, does Frieda have her own wand?!) and is off to the market and off to her job. I'm really happy with the amount of information we're given - it's just enough for the reader to start to piece things together, but get excited to learn more. I'm super interested in Frieda's interest in the army? That sounds cool.

I'm wondering what Frieda is anxious about at the beginning. The rain eases her thoughts, but her anxiety is never really addressed later in the chapter.

Also, towards the end of the chapter, I would have loved a little more description of the library. I loved the description outside, but once Frieda steps inside, I would've loved to know more- are there lots of people there? Also, Ilviny's spacial relation to everyone else - is he at the front desk, or the only worker there? Right now, it feels a little empty, although I'm not sure if that's the vibe you're going for (although it may be!).

I'm definitely curious about why Frieda's fired. Cliffhanger :P Obviously, this starts off the story already with a good conflict (what's Frieda gonna do now?) and with the hint at the army thing, I'm wondering if that option will be explored a little in the future! I also definitely want to see Frieda's reaction to this because as of now, I'm not super sure on what Frieda thinks of her job. She doesn't seem to hate it, but not love it either (she calls it boring multiple times).

I really hope this helped somewhat! I'm definitely down to review more in the future, too, and provide my thoughts as I get deeper into the story. (If you post another chapter let me know!!). I'm just loving this world so far, and I'm excited to learn more about Petra and any other characters.

Peace,
~ EternalRain






Thank you so much for the review!! I'm glad you liked it. I will definitely let you know when I post the next chapter. Just one question - would you say that the pace is too slow or is it fine for a first chapter? Thanks!



EternalRain says...


Oh I had no troubles with the pace at all! The end is *maybe* a little quick in comparison with everything else, but I think if Frieda described the inside library a little more, that could slow it down enough!





Ok. Thanks!



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Thu Apr 09, 2020 6:02 pm
JesseWrites wrote a review...



You introduced her appearance a little far into the chapter, but it got to the point. I would have liked a bit more to her looks. We only got her hair and a little more.

"My window frame rattled quietly and intermittently against the weak gusts of wind."
That is insanely detailed. Intermittently means off-beat and that fits in well.

I can't wait for the next chapters and to see what happens to her career.

~S.M.Locke~





Remember when dad's shoulders were the highest place on earth and your mom was your hero? Race issues were about who ran the fastest, war was only a car game. The most pain you felt was when you skinned your knees, and good byes only meant tomorrow? And we couldn't wait to grow up.
— Unknown