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16+ Language Violence

Prophecy of Thieves [chapter 1]

by mordax


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

Prince Ambrose Averen of Arlan didn’t believe in fate. He didn’t believe in the monotonous preaching of the clerics that had been wandering the halls of his home for the past week. He most definitely didn’t believe in the prophecies they supposedly saw in their visions sent by the gods.

But no one could know of his lack of faith. Not when he was the prime center of one of those clerics’ prophecies.

Kneeling before the altar, he felt the eyes of many upon his back. Weighing him and his importance to their land. Setting their expectations for him—expectations his father had been sure to reinforce just the day before. He had a week. One week before the prophecy was said to commence, and he was meant to accomplish the impossible.

While the task was daunting, he wouldn’t be alone. Glancing over at Kai, his one and only friend, he knew their nerves were equivalent. Although despite the others the prophecy named—others that had the same birthday as himself, exactly a week from today—he would be separate from them. The expectations upon his shoulders were far heavier than those upon the other ignorant souls out in the city.

A cleric dipped his thumb into a bowl of wine, said to be blessed by the God of Good Fortune. He pressed the pad of his thumb between Ambrose’s brow. A single droplet of wine drew a line down his nose, and his senses honed to the potent scent of grape. The cleric commenced his long list of tedious scriptures, paving way for a hopeful future, not just for Ambrose, but for all of Arlan. Raising weathered hands to the vaulted ceilings, all eyes turned upward, ritualistic habit. Paintings of gods and humanity stared down upon them. Their eyes were no less prodding than the live ones at his back.

After the lines and blessings were finished, he dipped his thumb again and repeated the process on Kai, though for his friend, far fewer words of good fortune were given.

In spite of the obvious descrimination in treatment, his friend kept his broad shoulders held back and his chin high. Kai—despite his unfavorable heritage—was a more ideal prince than Ambrose was. An orphan raised as the king’s bastard, he had succeeded in everything where Ambrose had fallen short. Kai had memorized the scriptures and prayed to the gods daily as was proper. He had far surpassed Ambrose in swordplay and had even been appointed Ambrose’s personal guard. Though, no matter his worth in the supposed prophecy or his success in their schooling, not even the holy clergy could look past his dark skin—such a sharp contrast from Ambrose’s freckled ivory.

The ceremony concluded, and the cleric waved a hand for Ambrose to rise. The audience and Kai remained kneeled as he was pronounced blessed and chosen by the holy gods—words that had been repeated to him in multiple ceremonies over the past week.

As the audience began to clear from the hall, Ambrose held out a hand to help Kai up. His friend grasped his palm and yanked himself to his feet. They began walking down the long, carpeted hall, boots muted against the scarlet velvet.

“If I have to sit through another one of those ceremonies, I very well might go insane,” Ambrose muttered around the chatter of lingering guests.

Kai shot him a look. “Those ceremonies are meant for you. For your good fortune.”

“Us,” Ambrose corrected.

“No. I am a pawn in this prophecy. You, my friend, are the centerpiece.”

“Or so the clergy says.” And it was all a lie.

“The clergy speaks the word of the gods.”

Ambrose let it drop. He wasn’t in the mood to argue the merits of religion. It would be futile, anyway, as Kai was devout as any proper citizen of Arlan should be.

They turned into a grand hall, the crystal windows casting fragmented light over the yellow-painted walls. Ambrose stretched out his palm, the light refracting into various colors upon his skin. Before he could begin to feel the sun’s warmth, he shoved his hand back into his pocket.

“My father didn’t show,” he commented off-handedly. His vain attempt at indifference fell through as Kai gave him a knowing look.

“He’s likely busy. With the shortage of food, coin, and the growing rebellion in the north, I doubt he has much time on his hands.”

“I suppose not.” No, his father would never have time for the multitudinous religious ceremonies proclaiming his second son blessed. Not when he believed quite the opposite. His father, for all his talk of the gods and their good deeds, was likely less religious than Ambrose himself, but for the sake of the church and its power and influence over the people, his religious zeal could never be questioned. Just as Ambrose’s worth to the gods could never be questioned.

“Your mother attended,” Kai said. A failed attempt to raise Ambrose’s spirits, but an attempt nonetheless.

“My mother is more devout than the clergy,” Ambrose said. It was true. A wealthy Lady in northern Arlan, she had been raised among clerics and was more likely to sacrifice herself to the gods then she was to draw Ambrose in an embrace. She had tied her soul to his father by law, but in all ways that mattered, her soul belonged to the gods. She had said so the day Ambrose had questioned her love for him and his father.

Kai chuckled but quickly fell silent as a group of Lords and councilmen passed them in a hurry to get from one meeting to the next. They stopped briefly to bow before Ambrose, not gracing a glance in Kai’s direction.

After they passed, their shined leather boots tapping on the marbled floor, Kai said, “I wonder if women were allowed in the clergy, if she would have taken that path over marriage.”

“Of course she would have. She told me herself she often wishes she had joined the Sisterhood.”

Kai chuckled, shaking his head. “Of course she did.”

The Sisterhood—despite their strict religious zeal—was often seen as a pack of delusional women who separated themselves from the world and gave themselves up to the gods. They were the radicals among the religious, looked down upon by even the clergy.

As though spurred on by thoughts of religion, a gaggle of clerics entered, blocking the entrance to a connecting hall. Ambrose slowed, hoping they would hurry along before he was obliged to speak with them. The conversations were always the same. They thanked the gods for blessing him with life, and Ambrose waited, attempting to feign appreciation.

They appeared to be in no rush. Instead, they clasped dry palms before them, their movements silent despite the resounding halls. He was about to propose they turn and take a different route when the clerics all bowed their heads, their white caps flashing in unison. They didn’t even notice Ambrose and Kai as they turned on their heels and started down the halls, golden-lined cloaks billowing behind.

Ambrose resumed his pace and turned down the hall that had been previously blocked. Shadows swallowed the delicate, fragmented light. White stone statues lined the thin hall, posed in acts of worship. There was little escape from the suffocating gods.

“Do you wonder…” Ambrose murmured, his eyes snagging on a particular sculpture he had walked past everyday. It was a man bent in agony, his arms beseeching the skies for mercy. The following sculpture depicted him again, eyes alight and body stretching with ease. The statues told a story. Worship the gods and perhaps mercy can be granted. However, it was the agony Ambrose was always drawn to. To him, it was no story, only an individual. An individual praying for relief to gods whose existence was fabricated.

“Ambrose?” Kai prompted.

He turned away from the wretched statue. “Do you wonder about the others? The others who are spoken of in the prophecy?”

Kai pondered the question as they turned into the library—the one place Ambrose could find peace.

“Yes,” he finally said. “It seems… strange. That we have to venture beyond borders in the company of strangers.”

Strange indeed. More than a little dangerous, too. He and Kai both took their seats at their usual table, already piled with his books the librarians knew better than to touch. Ambrose drew them in and began rifling through pages while Kai monitored the halls with quick eyes.

“Haven’t you already read that book?” Kai asked after the aisles surrounded by shelves of books appeared empty of any threats.

Ambrose didn’t look up from the page he was studying. “Yes. But I think I missed something, so I’m reading it again.”

Kai rolled his eyes, slumping in his chair. While Kai had surpassed him in everything that counted, Ambrose had always gotten better marks with their tutors and had enjoyed reading far more. Though the books before him were not for enjoyment. Ever since his father had sat him down and listed the expectations of his journey, Ambrose had been studying on anything that could assist him in accomplishing the impossible. Anything to give him some semblance of control over the situation. With no knowledge as to who was going to be accompanying him and Kai, he couldn’t rely solely on their skill sets. Not for a task so important.

Kai straighted, instantly alert, as someone cleared their throat beside them. His hand jumped to the hilt of his sword, but he immediately lowered into a bow when he identified the intruder. Ambrose dragged his eyes towards the Crown Prince of Arlan. His brother, Marcell, arched a brow, glancing pointedly to the pile of books beside him.

“Say what you came to say,” Ambrose said, his voice a low drone.

Marcell turned his mocking eyes back to Ambrose’s face and smirked. “Father wishes to speak with you in his private office.”

Ambrose sighed, not at all prepared for the conversation about to be had. “Right now?” he asked, though he already knew the answer.

“No. He sent me personally rather than a messenger because he wants to meet you in an hour.”

Ambrose sighed again. Typically, he would send back a message with whichever poor soul had been tasked with requesting his presence on his father’s behalf. It was a safe way to avoid any contact with his father. But there was no way he could ignore his brother.

“Fine,” he grumbled, pushing himself from his chair. He straightened his jerkin and ran a hand over his bound hair.

Kai shot him a look. A question. Ambrose shook his head. This was not a conversation his father would want with the both of them.

“Enter,” his father’s voice echoed from within his study. He didn’t bother asking who was knocking.

Ambrose pushed inside, bowing. “Rise and sit,” his father said impatiently.

The chair on the opposite side of the King’s desk was low and uncomfortable—just the way his father wanted people to feel when speaking with him. The hard, wooden surface of the seat dug into his tailbone as he attempted to situate himself in a graceful manner. His father delighted in his discomfort, watching him fidget. Noticing his attention, Ambrose fell still.

“One more week,” his father said, stroking his dark beard with contemplation. His piercing blue eyes—the one trait Ambrose seemed to gain from his father—were set on him with infuriating calm. “Are you prepared?”

Ambrose nodded. “Yes, father.”

He cocked a wiry brow. “And you understand what you must do?”

“Yes, father.”

He silently appraised Ambrose, his judging eyes softening. “If you fail, your life will be forfeit.”

Ambrose’s stomach twisted in a knot, and his eyes flitted around the prodigious office on their own accord. He scanned each mounted sword and tall portrait without truly looking. When his eyes landed back upon his father’s, he stilled, smoothing his expression. The King didn’t appreciate weakness, and as his son, Ambrose should always conceal it.

“Yes, father,” he murmured.

“If you succeed, all of Arlan will prosper. Your name will be forever remembered.”

Not as King, Ambrose silently corrected. No. No matter how great of a man Ambrose grew to be, he would never be king. His warrior brother was built for that. Ambrose would be remembered as the gods-blessed son. He would be favored for his divinity. Loved not for his own deeds, but for the ones the gods shined through him. None of his success would ever be marked as his own.

Yet, if he succeeded, he wouldn’t be a failure—not to his father. Not to himself.

“I will succeed, father,” Ambrose said quietly, but strongly.

The appraisal that glimmered in his father’s eyes was inspiration enough. It flashed an image through his mind of a life where everyone looked upon him with the same appraisal. The same respect. No matter the cost, Ambrose would succeed for a chance at that life.

“Then let us go over the plan once more,” his father said with a small smile that was nothing short of wicked.


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RealSadhours296 says...



(Ok, so I accidentally did a browser refresh and created this exact copy of my review, which is something I was not aware could be done. I can't delete the entire thing so I just deleted the copied review by editing and...this is just here now. Scroll down for my actual thoughts. So sorry for the confusion. I feel a bit embarrassed to be honest TvT)




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RealSadhours296 wrote a review...



I have to say, you're really, really good at writing! The descriptions, the dialogue, the characterization is just mwah! Perfecto! I honestly can't find a single thing to nitpick in this first chapter!

I'm intrigued by this prophecy that is continuously mentioned, and I'm more intrigued by how you made it so Ambrose was prepared for it for seemingly his whole life. You don't get that in a story every day, or at least I myself don't find those kind of stories everyday. It's refreshing.

I can really relate to Ambrose here actually. Incredibly religious household? Check. Strained relationship with parental figures? Check. I love him already. I also really like Kai. He seems more straight-laced than his brother (Also you once again used a name of one of my favorite characters in my favorite TV show).

Definitely reading more of this series when I have the time. Keep up the good work!




mordax says...


Thank you very much!!



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Sat Jul 24, 2021 9:46 am
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi mordax,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

Floated back to the beginning to give some brief thoughts and comments. :D
I didn't think the story would start out like this, giving the reader at least a small but good overview of what's to come. I think you did a pretty good opening there to introduce Ambrose and Kai, and I like how the first big block reads without any dialogue so the reader gets a better look at the situation and also what just happened.

The insertion of some background information from Ambrose and Kai turned out well and felt it was a nice way to keep the plot from stalling, inserting the information spread out in the chapter rather than writing one big paragraph and thus forgetting everything.

You included some beautiful descriptions and details that I enjoyed reading and I like that you tried to use a very serious style. The problem with some stories is that the seriousness eventually turns to a humorous style because that seriousness is too stiff and hard, but you manage to build up an arc of suspense here that leaves the reader with some questions.

One criticism I have has to do with the conversation with the father and Ambrose at the end. I think that would have actually been the perfect opportunity to give the reader the cliffhanger there instead of going straight to that conversation. The reader has already been given a lot of information for the beginning and that can feel overwhelming.

I think this whole conversation could perhaps even be inserted at the beginning as a kind of prologue, and then move on to Chapter 1, thus giving the reader even more questions, some of which are then answered in Ch1. Otherwise, it was a well-written chapter. I liked it a lot. :D

Other points that caught my eye: (I didn't focus so much on grammar here, because I think the other reviews have already mentioned some points and because I didn't focus on it directly while reading)

Kai shot him a look. "Those ceremonies are meant for you. For your good fortune."

I would recommend emphasising the "you" here, such as by formatting it in italic. Ambrose's later "us" could then also be emphasised. Because I believe this dialogue has a bit of significance.

"I wonder if women were allowed in the clergy, if she would have taken that path over marriage."

The sentence reads a little strangely because you talk about "women" and later go to a "she". You explain very well later what is meant, but still I have the impression that the sentence itself seems a bit strange. :D

Have fun writing!

Mailice




mordax says...


Thank you for this wonderful review and all your great comments!!



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Tue Jun 29, 2021 11:37 pm
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...



Heya mordax,

Hope you're well! It occurred to me that rather than continuing to read and review with disclaimers about not knowing the context, I could just go back and start from the beginning. You've got such an interesting story set up, I'd like to understand it fully. So here I am. Starting from the start. Let's jump on in...

and was more likely to sacrifice herself to the gods then she was to draw Ambrose in an embrace


Oh gosh, this is such a poignant way to put this <3

~

This is a really solid start! You do a good job of setting the tone between Kai and Ambrose and giving us little insights into their personalities and relationship. You also do a really good job of communicating the vibes Ambrose has with various members of his family.

I already have a lot of questions about what this prophesy is and where it's going to lead. I already know it ultimately leads to a quest with a bunch of the others since I jumped in late. But I still have a lot of questions about what's going to happen next and I'm fascinated to see how all of this comes together in the coming chapters.

I think you did a particularly good job of characterizing Ambrose and Kai, though. I already like them both quite a bit from this first chapter. Ambrose feels relatable. Kai feels like a solid best friend. Marcell seems like a snobby older brother -- mother detached and cold -- father disinterested. But I really like Ambrose and Kai already, and am excited to see how you develop that relationship further.

Great start! Excited to see where you take this~

~Shady 8)

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HEYO <3 I reviewed your previous chapter and absolutely loved it, so I really wanted to start from the beginning! ^_^ You do have quite a few reviews on this chapter, so I'm not quite sure how helpful I can be. But as the chapters go on, you have fewer reviews, so hopefully I'll be more helpful as we get further in the novel ^_^ In addition, I didn't really read the previous reviews, so if I say something someone else has already mentioned, I do apologize! :)

Prince Ambrose Averen of Arlan


I love the alliteration, very visually pleasing xD

But no one could know of his lack of faith. Not when he was the prime center of one of those clerics’ prophecies.


Ooh, that's gotta be tough. To be the center of something you don't believe in - I wonder how he's able to put it up with that :O

He had a week. One week before the prophecy was said to commence, and he was meant to accomplish the impossible.


Already, there seems to be a bunch of responsibilities on this guy. Not only does he not believe in these prophecies, but he has the expectations of those before him, and then there's this week deadline. Is this like his villain origin story or something? >.> (haha, I haven't read any further yet, so please don't judge me too much if that is a stupid thought xD)

Although despite the others the prophecy named


I personally wouldn't have both although + despite ^_^

far fewer words of good fortune were given.

In spite of the obvious descrimination in treatment


Oof, I wonder what's the story behind Kai's discrimination :O
p.s. I believe you spent discrimination wrong, but it's not a big deal at all ^_^

An orphan raised as the king’s bastard


Ah okay, I'm guessing this is where the discrimination comes from

“No. I am a pawn in this prophecy. You, my friend, are the centerpiece.”

“Or so the clergy says.” And it was all a lie.


I find it funny that the one who doesn't believe in the prophecy happens to be the centerpiece, and the devout guy doesn't have a major role in it. It's funny how that all works out, and maybe even a bit unfortunate for them! I feel like that's how it often happens in life - the idea that you're jealous of what someone else has, but they really want what you have

[quoteThey stopped briefly to bow before Ambrose, not gracing a glance in Kai’s direction.[/quote]

I love how you constantly point out how differently Kai is treated compared to Ambrose. Based on the couple of times you already mentioned it, I'm guessing this is going to play a big role later on

Kai straighted, instantly alert, as someone cleared their throat beside them. His hand jumped to the hilt of his sword, but he immediately lowered into a bow when he identified the intruder.


This + Kai scanning the library for any threats is interesting to me! It makes think that they previously had to deal with an intruder / threat by themselves. Since they are princes, I assume that guards must be present in a lot of places throughout their home. But since Kai is on guard, maybe they had an experience in the past that makes him more wary, despite the protection

He silently appraised Ambrose, his judging eyes softening. “If you fail, your life will be forfeit.”


I wonder if all of this pressure is going to cause him to crack >.< He's been studying books like crazy, and his father doesn't seem to be making it any easier for him. Hm, I really wonder how this is going to affect Ambrose on this journey / prophecy

“Then let us go over the plan once more,” his father said with a small smile that was nothing short of wicked.


Oh oh, his father seems like a very scary man >.>
Ooh, you know, I think it would be nice to get a little knowledge of what his father looks like. You have his smile that is wicked - what other features contribute to his evil appearance? I feel like eyes could be an easy place to show glints of evil haha. Or hm, maybe the way he sits down in his chair? Whatever fits your fancy ^_^

Ahhh!!! This is so interesting 0.0 I am really curious how Kai and Ambrose's upbringing is going to affect their future. I wonder if Kai is going to hold resentment and hatred against the people here - although, I do doubt this, because he seems very level-headed and he doesn't seem the type to get angry about this kinda stuff. In addition, you did mention that despite being given fewer words of good fortune, he was still able to hold his head high. So I do doubt that he's going to hold a grudge xD but hey, I guess it's still a possibility!

I feel like Ambrose might break down from all the pressure!I It's hard to work for something you don't even believe in. I guess right now, the fear of failure is pushing him forward. But I wonder how long he'll be able to handle all of the pressure. And I wonder how this is going to affect him in the future

AHHH I AM EXCITED <3 I hope these thoughts prove useful to you :) I'll see you again in the next chapter! c:




mordax says...


Thank you so much for this wonderful review! I'm glad to see you enjoy it and I love all your thoughts and suggestions.



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Riverlight wrote a review...



Hey there, mordax! My name is Vilnius, and I'll be reviewing this for you today. If I like it, I'll review all of your other chapters, too! c:

But no one could know of his lack of faith. Not when he was the prime center of one of those clerics’ prophecies.

Oooh~ Interesting statement right off the bat! I really like this-- not only does it describe him as a character from the get-go, but it also helps introduce the conflict. I think you could improve this section by combining the two sentences.

Kneeling before the altar, he felt the eyes of many upon his back, weighing him and his importance to their land. They were setting their expectations for him—expectations his father had been sure to reinforce just the day before. He had a week, one week before the prophecy was said to commence-- and he was meant to accomplish the impossible.

Okay, so here, we have some pretty vague and yet detailed plot formation! I've altered the punctuation a bit to show you how I think it might look better and read better (I also changed the wording, that's in italics), but something important you've looked over are sensory details.
@Rydia wrote this masterful article over adding in details, but to summarize, you need to describe what things look like at the bare minimum and how things feel. An emotional or physical connection is needed to help readers relate to characters. Are the stares harsh and icy? Is Ambrose (lovely name, by the way!) handsome, ugly, or merely average? Is there incense burning? How does the Prince feel about being disloyal to his true self?

While the task was daunting, he wouldn’t be alone. Glancing over at Kai, his one and only friend, he knew their nerves were equivalent. Although despite the others the prophecy named—others that had the same birthday as himself, exactly a week from today—he would be separate from them. The expectations upon his shoulders were far heavier than those upon the other ignorant souls out in the city.

The details will apply here, too-- what does Kai look like, etc?Also, it'd be nice to know exactly how many people are apart of this prophecy. 6? 12? 100? Hopefully that's cleared up soon.

A cleric dipped his thumb into a bowl of wine, said to be blessed by the God of Good Fortune. He pressed the pad of his thumb between Ambrose’s brow. A single droplet of wine drew a line down his nose, and his senses honed to the potent scent of grape. The cleric commenced his long list of tedious scriptures, paving way for a hopeful future, not just for Ambrose, but for all of Arlan. Raising weathered hands to the vaulted ceilings, all eyes turned upward, ritualistic habit. Paintings of gods and humanity stared down upon them. Their eyes were no less prodding than the live ones at his back.

Arlan-- that's an interesting thing.
Going back to details, you could describe how the wine was chilled and felt like an icicle was being dragged over his face or something. Youu could also give the god a name and maybe describe the paintings a bit.. :P

After the lines and blessings were finished, he dipped his thumb again and repeated the process on Kai, though for his friend, far fewer words of good fortune were given.

What are these words? Are they in Englis? Latin? An ancient, dead language unique to this world What do they mean? Tell me more!!!

In spite of the obvious descrimination in treatment, his friend kept his broad shoulders held back and his chin high. Kai—despite his unfavorable heritage—was a more ideal prince than Ambrose was. An orphan raised as the king’s bastard, he had succeeded in everything where Ambrose had fallen short. Kai had memorized the scriptures and prayed to the gods daily as was proper. He had far surpassed Ambrose in swordplay and had even been appointed Ambrose’s personal guard. Though, no matter his worth in the supposed prophecy or his success in their schooling, not even the holy clergy could look past his dark skin—such a sharp contrast from Ambrose’s freckled ivory.

So, you coud describe the discrimination a bit more before this paragraph as to me it wasn't really obvious-- I didn't know Kai or Ambrose looked different or anything, just that they were part of an important prophecy. I asumed that Ambrose might've had different blessings used for some prophetic reason that would be explained.I'd recommend maybe adding that the cleics glared at Kai or something, maybe recited their blessings while using an angry tone or something-- it just makes it a little more real.

The ceremony concluded, and the cleric waved a hand for Ambrose to rise. The audience and Kai remained kneeled as he was pronounced blessed and chosen by the holy gods—words that had been repeated to him in multiple ceremonies over the past week.

Again, it'd be nice to read these blessings :P

As the audience began to clear from the hall, Ambrose held out a hand to help Kai up. His friend grasped his palm and yanked himself to his feet. They began walking down the long, carpeted hall, boots muted against the scarlet velvet.

To build on what I said earlier, you could descibe how a few people shake their heads disapprovingly since racism has been mentioned so early on.

They turned into a grand hall, the crystal windows casting fragmented light over the yellow-painted walls. Ambrose stretched out his palm, the light refracting into various colors upon his skin. Before he could begin to feel the sun’s warmth, he shoved his hand back into his pocket.
“My father didn’t show,” he commented off-handedly. His vain attempt at indifference fell through as Kai gave him a knowing look.

I recommend combining these two paragraphs.

“He’s likely busy. With the shortage of food, coin, and the growing rebellion in the north, I doubt he has much time on his hands.”

Oo... could these be the issues of the prophecy? Also, it sounds like Ambrose doesn't have the best father-son relationship, so it's good taht you included that in the dialogue and also explained why he wasn't there this way! It really helps me identify with all three of these characters (Ambrose, Kai, and the King).

“I suppose not.” No, his father would never have time for the multitudinous religious ceremonies proclaiming his second son blessed-- not when he believed quite the opposite. Despite all his talk of the gods and their good deeds, he was likely less religious than Ambrose himself, but for the sake of the church, its power, and its influence over the people, the king's religious zeal could never be questioned, just as Ambrose’s worth to the gods could never be questioned.

I had to look up "multitudinous"-- it's a good idea not to use too many unfamilar words as a general rule, unless they're like magic phrases or a different language or something. Also, I messed with the punctuation a bit again :P

“My mother is more devout than the clergy,” Ambrose said. It was true. A wealthy Lady in northern Arlan, she had been raised among clerics and was more likely to sacrifice herself to the gods then she was to draw Ambrose in an embrace. She had tied her soul to his father by law, but in all ways that mattered, her soul belonged to the gods. She had said so the day Ambrose had questioned her love for him and his father.

So, rather than spill his mom's bacstory right here, I'd recommend he just say that and then ater on, his mom talks about he past, or maybe ssomeone mentions that she's really religious or something so that you don't dump too much info in one place.

I'm going to skip the next ew paragraphs cause the isues I have with them are all ones I've already mentioned :P

He silently appraised Ambrose, his judging eyes softening. “If you fail, your life will be forfeit.”

[...]

“If you succeed, all of Arlan will prosper. Your name will be forever remembered.”

So, based on this alone, I think I can tell the King is going to be very orally gray, and I like that c:

“Then let us go over the plan once more,” his father said with a small smile that was nothing short of wicked.

This might sound a bit nitpicky, but I recommend that you drop the "wicked" bit of the description and instead describe the King's face as a whole. Based on what I know about him so far, he doesn't seem to be inherently bad/evil/wicked, so making that too obvious to the reader rather than etting them realize it for themselves might not be the best way to go, but that's just me.

I have to admit, I loved this chapter!!! I can't wait to read this story and see what you do with it! uwu

Have a nice [*insert time of day here*]!!!




mordax says...


Wow, thank you for this wonderful review! I love all your suggestions and it means a lot that you took the time to give them.



Riverlight says...


No biggie! I really loved this and can't wait to read more :3



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SpiritedWolfe wrote a review...



Hi mordax! Apologies for the delay, but I'm here to review your lovely first chapter ^^

I wanted to start off by saying I really enjoyed this chapter. I thought it was a good introduction into your world and characters, and I thought you had a good voice for Ambrose throughout. The writing was strong and engaging, the idea interesting, and I definitely want to know more.

While the task was daunting, he wouldn’t be alone.


So, I understand that you want to leave the details of everything a bit vague, to get some tension going, maybe to not overwhelm your reader with details (because we definitely don't need to know every aspect of the detailed plan Ambrose and his father have come up with) but I would like to know something. There's plenty of references to "to do the impossible" or "daunting task", like here, but I want you to give us something. We know very little about the prophecy -- maybe even just directly tell us the prophecy in all its vague, wishy-washy terms? We're also told something about others sharing his birthday, but can we get some idea of what they're supposed to do? I feel like trying this hard to step around it is actually pulling away from some of the tension (at least to me personally!)

Glancing over at Kai, his one and only friend, he knew their nerves were equivalent.


I think you've got a lot of great descriptions throughout this chapter, especially of scenes and actions, which makes it easy to read and stay engaged. But I did notice a bit of a lack of character descriptions, which would also be useful! Also, let me throw you back a bit of the "show don't tell" haha (even though it's not too bad here). I'd love to see a bit more of how Kai is presenting himself, to show a bit of contrast between the two. Ambrose seems a bit uninterested but is trying to be interested because he is the prince and he has to be, but maybe you can show contrast to that with Kai, as he watches the priest or trains his eyes on an alter or something, and maybe even present his own nerves leaking through? That would be more memorable to me and also more telling about Kai!

Though, no matter his worth in the supposed prophecy or his success in their schooling, not even the holy clergy could look past his dark skin—such a sharp contrast from Ambrose’s freckled ivory.


This was such a good line. I loved the characterization of Kai in the paragraph about this too ^^

Another thing that I wanted to know about the prophecy is how long has it been around? Was Ambrose born into it or was it bestowed upon him more recently? Has this always been his legacy or was he thrust into it later? Also, do Ambrose and Kai have the same birthday?? Did the king get around? *ahem* I mean, I liked getting this snippet of Kai and learning about his character, but I'm not entirely sure how I feel about its placement. It brings up so many more questions like, is Kai actually the son of the king or was it a title for show? And why did the king take on his bastard son? Was it only about the prophecy? Again, not all these questions have to be answered right now, but it shifted my focus away from the idea of the prophecy a bit. Maybe this would be something better to explore after this religious scene and they have a bit more downtime together? Because right now, I think it would be better to focus on the scene, let us into the action and let us get into Ambrose's head first before you start expanding out more? If that makes sense?

Also, feel free to ask questions if my points don't make as much sense, haha. I sometimes just ramble off what I'm thinking.

I'm not really sure what the purpose of the clerics blocking the hall was? It didn't feel like it added anything else to the discussion already well established that Ambrose and his family have a complicated relationship with religion, so why not just move on to them being in the library? It's not a big deal, but it just struck me as odd.

As a whole, I think you've got a great strength with characters. I like that each one of them has their own personality, their own vibe so to speak, and it comes across well in your writing. Kai is compassionate and devout and respectful, while Ambrose is much more skeptical and introspective, and then we get to see the brother and the king in their intensity and seriousness. Their relationships are also really well established and quite interesting. So good job on that!

I think the biggest takeaway I have from this chapter is it doesn't feel quite focused, as in it feels like it jumps around some. As you know, it's definitely not easy to strike a good balance between providing the reader with enough information so they're interested but not too much so they're overloaded and not too little that they're confused. You also know I err on the side of too little, so this could be personal preference, but there feels like there are some details here and there that aren't important enough, or aren't shown enough to feel relevant. For instance, the detail of the mother being very devout. It doesn't feel quite so important right now, so do we need to know it, at least at this exact moment? Like it doesn't hurt to mention it in passing, but I don't think we need to know exactly about the sisters right now, especially when my interest is in other things like the prophecy and the characters. (You could also sprinkle in these details through the ceremony itself, which I wish had a bit more action and focus on the present, since all of it was just Ambrose introspecting).

But anyway, I hope some of these points were helpful to you! As it stands, I think this is a solid first part, and I think it works well for set up, but I hope we get a bit more details later on :)

Happy writing!
~ Wolfe




mordax says...


Wow, thank you so much for this wonderful review!! I agree with everything you said and I will definitely try to add more detail where it%u2019s needed and take it away when it%u2019s not.



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Tue Jan 19, 2021 10:29 pm
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shieldmaiden wrote a review...



Hello, Shieldmaiden here. I was messaged by a fellow member to check out your story! I was not disappointed. This is an amazing work. I've so many things to go over, but all in all, I'm in awe. I really can't point out anything errant in your work. It felt like I was reading something I picked off the shelf.

First off, I am a fan of your description. I myself struggle in that department, but you seemed to pull it off flawlessly. You managed to write the perfect balance for me to visualize everything around in the scenes you painted without going into too much detail that it would feel monotonous! Excellent job!

Secondly, Ambrose's character. In only a few short sentences you gave such a clear portrait of who he was. He seems very cynical and morose, with little faith in a prophecy that apparently has him as it's hero. Yet, despite his sullen nature, the reader is completely on his side. He is unloved by both his parents and strikes me as a lonely soul.

Thirdly, the foreshadowing! I love how you haven't explained what the prophecy actually is all about. I feel like a fish and you're baiting me. This is great, because it keeps readers wanting to know more. You really threw me for a loop though when Ambrose's father told him that if he failed his 'life will be forfeit'! Woah! That left me wondering. Does that mean the prophecy itself will end badly if he fails? Or will Ambrose end up losing his head at the hands of his father?

Finally, that last bit where Ambrose's father says to go over the plan...what plan??? Is this all a conspiracy? One thing I'm clear about is that his father is a jerk!

Great job! Please tag me when you post the next chapter!
Sheildmaiden




mordax says...


WOW! Thank you for this marvelous review!!



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Thu Jan 14, 2021 1:07 am
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LUNARGIRL wrote a review...



Hello, LUNARGIRL here with a review!🙃

Prince Ambrose Averen of Arlan didn’t believe in fate. He didn’t believe in the monotonous preaching of the clerics that had been wandering the halls of his home for the past week. He most definitely didn’t believe in the prophecies they supposedly saw in their visions sent by the gods.


Great way to start your story, it draws the reader in instantly.

Kneeling before the altar, he felt the eyes of many upon his back. Weighing him and his importance to their land. Setting their expectations for him—expectations his father had been sure to reinforce just the day before. He had a week. One week before the prophecy was said to commence, and he was meant to accomplish the impossible.


Some more description would be nice. For example, what does the altar look like, what does the room he's in look like.

A cleric dipped his thumb into a bowl of wine, said to be blessed by the God of Good Fortune. He pressed the pad of his thumb between Ambrose’s brow. A single droplet of wine drew a line down his nose, and his senses honed to the potent scent of grape. The cleric commenced his long list of tedious scriptures, paving way for a hopeful future, not just for Ambrose, but for all of Arlan. Raising weathered hands to the vaulted ceilings, all eyes turned upward, ritualistic habit. Paintings of gods and humanity stared down upon them. Their eyes were no less prodding than the live ones at his back.


Great paragraph!

I love your use of description and everything is so very well written. As you write farther into the story there is a clear picture compared to the start of it. So you might want to look at the beginning. You character descriptions were good so far, but I still don't really know what the main character looks like or his best friend. Can't wait to read what you write next!

Carpe diem,
LUNARGIRL




mordax says...


Thank you so much for your review!



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Tue Jan 05, 2021 12:02 am
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Honora wrote a review...



Hello Mordax!

Since you're a new user (welcome to this amazing place of writers btw) I just want to say that in my review, I never mean to hurt any feelings or be too critical. I am here to help you improve with the little knowledge I have of writing. Also, feel free to ignore my remarks as it could just be the result of different preferences! :D

So now to the actual review! ;)

There are a few things I noticed in your (amazing) writing that could be tweaked a little. The first is that you put your dialogue in the same paragraph as your description more often then not. This would be okay if the dialogue started the paragraph off but it's at the end which makes it a tad funny to read. This is something I've noticed a lot of writers critique in others' work so I figure it is a real thing to comment on! ;)

Another I noticed is you start multiple sentences off with words such as And or But which isn't grammatically correct. A few sentences like this is fine but when there's an abundance of them, some rewording is needed to either combine sentences or make a whole new one in itself.

Last thing I'll point out is that although we're still at the beginning stages of the book, I find I don't have a clear picture of his surroundings. I can already tell you have an awesome talent for writing your characters and I have nothing to nitpick about that but I would love to see some of his surroundings. I know he's a prince so that gives an obvious picture that he's in a castle but the details escape my imagination. One place you could have added some detail perhaps is while he is walking to the king's office. Or maybe when he and Kai were walking together.

Anyways, I'm done nitpicking so I can actually move onto what I came here for in the first place. ;)

You're writing is amazing! I am really impressed with your formatting and writing style in general. The flow is phenomenal! It's written so professionally that even when you use different words not seen everyday, I didn't stumble over them as I read which is truly impressive. Even just the way you add small hints about your characters without outright being like "hey Ambrose has blue eyes and Kai has a different skin colour just so you know!" You really just showed me rather then telling me which is something I still aspire to accomplish.

Overall, I really really really enjoyed your first chapter. I can feel his doubt of this prophecy he's caught in and how everyone believes in him to be a great success or their worry of his failure. It also makes me quite interested to know what the prophecy itself is.

Please tag me for these so I can know automatically when you post another chapter! I'm very glad there's still one ahead of me ;)

Happy writing!
Honora

P.S. Awesome title choice. I was glancing at the green room and it really pulled me in which is exactly what you want! :D




mordax says...


Wow, thank you for this wonderful review!! I love your advice on varying the beginning words of sentences from the grammatically incorrect "And" and "But" and I will definitely strive to create more scenery and setting.

Thank you again!



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Sun Jan 03, 2021 5:23 pm
orbiteliza wrote a review...



Hi! I'm Eliza, and this is my first review.

I absolutely love your story so far. This seems super professional and well-made. Your technical writing skills are perfect, which is a rare sight for a lot of writers. No grammatical errors, good descriptions, good storytelling.

Please keep writing more of this. This gives me Throne of Glass vibes but far better (I wasn't the biggest fan of that series to be honest haha).

I have very minimal criticism, in all honesty. I think that a bit more information in regards to the setting would have been helpful, but this is still a good amount as its only the first chapter.

As of now I'm also getting a medieval western Europe setting, with a lot of ties to religion. This is a bit over-used, but if your story is unique, then there's no problem with using a very common fantasy setting. Your characters are interesting from what I've read — I'm getting an Achilles and Patroclus thing from Ambrose and Kai.

Overall, this is on the right track and I'm very excited for what's next! Amazing job.




mordax says...


Thank you so much! And thank you for using this as your first review!!

I read Throne of Glass too, and I agree, not a big fan... (I felt the characters were strangely toxic and that toxicity was romanticized)



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Sat Jan 02, 2021 7:28 pm
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Ducklinstories wrote a review...



Hi, im Ducklin and here to review let's get started shall we?

First of let's start with saying that the lay-out of your writing looks fantastic an professional that a good thing for you and your readers. You don't want to look like an amateur and annoy you readers.

The story line starts good and the pace of the story goes not too slow.

You could have hidden some tips of how Ambrose look in the first chapter but there is still plenty of time for that.

It irritates me a little that when someone says something you leave a big white space in real books they most of the time don't do that. just a little thing.

the punctuation looks perfectly fine to me but in my opinion the chapter ends a little abrupt but I think that done on purpose?

that's it I think.
Keep on going because I really like your story

- greetings E.




mordax says...


Thank you for your feedback! I do have a question though in regards to your advice on the "white space" when someone speaks. Do you mean formatting-wise, because on my screen, it looks normal...





Yes formatting-wise



mordax says...


What does it look like? I don't see that on my end, but I'd like to fix it.




Every really new idea looks crazy at first.
— Alfred North Whitehead