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LoaMR: Ch. II: The Intruder 4 (Reworked)

by MailicedeNamedy


There were many lakes in this former country. Some were so deep, nobody knew how deep; others were so large, one couldn't see the shore on the other side; and some were only a product of humans themselves.One of these innumerable lakes was called Emerald Lake.

It was a unique ecosystem and a lifeline for thousands and thousands of animals and plants. The clear water has always been abysmal. People used to pay much respect to the black depths. Its countless tributaries made it impossible to map.

Springs and underground river courses magically connected the landscape, hidden between towering mountains and densely forested valleys. The slate-like rock gave the lake its namesake colour. Its shape resembled a snake meandering through the branches. The smell of pinecones and water lilies mingled with the deadwood of fallen leaves. It was a small paradise for all those who managed to visit this place once in their lives.

Between the heart of the Emerald Lake was a steep wall that was a gateway to another world. As mysterious as nature could be, it seemed unreal there, almost Delphic. It was an artist's watercolour, it seemed man-made as if it wanted to stop the traveller from continuing.

The lush vegetation had disappeared, a bulkheaded ridge was enlivened by moss-covered rocks and almost dried-up perennials. Right there, shut off from the world, was a very hidden orphanage.

There were two buildings around a big square. This courtyard was large, had some mulberry trees, rose bushes and an olive tree that stood in the centre and was used by frolicking children of all ages as a starting point for their play of hide and seek. The orphanage was unimposing, already showing its age. During a heavy downpour, it sometimes happened that roof tiles broke off as well as branches.

The dark green colours were brightened up by laughter and games. The two responsible persons, nun Klara Steiner and priest Johann Pest lovingly looked after the two dozen orphans. They taught them everything that the Goddess had deemed important. They were probably the most selfless people there were.

Since rarely much became public, it must have been obvious that the children were not brought here voluntarily. Whether it was true or not is not known. In two aspects they were all similar; they were full orphans and all their parents worked for the same company. The vast majority did not even know their parents. The Viktoria Luise Orphanage was like the Eternal Realm, home of the Goddess, to them. There was rarely any crying in these halls.

***

With the last rays of sunshine on the olive tree, it was time for the playmates to get into bed. The strict rules of the overseers were followed by everyone.

One of them was Lukas Kunz, who was about to celebrate his eleventh birthday. He could hardly wait to eat the apple cake he wished for.

At midnight, the first clouds floated over them. The orphanage got a visit from the rain. The children lay in their beds while the educators did the last errands in the kitchen. Old Mr Pest had made a shopping list for tomorrow. Steiner was calmly humming a happy tune.

With a last drop, they were about to retire to their chambers when suddenly Lukas stood at the doorstep.

"You should be in bed!" whispered Klara Steiner, dumbfounded.

"There's someone in the bedroom."

He sounded scared. She did not immediately realise what he was saying.

"It was a nightmare."

"No," he whimpered, "Please come with me."

Tenderly, she took his hand and helped him back into the bedroom. The wrinkled, warm hand of the nun did nothing to change his fear. In front of the door, he paused as if his legs turned to stone. Steiner waded across the room to the large table after having managed to let her hand from Lukas go. On it stood the gas lamp that she brought to life.

An ice-cold shiver overtook her as the shadows of the beds piled up into black waves on the walls, turning the room into a flickering, chilly room. Steiner felt a cold hand wrap around her, gentle and plain, as the fingers trailed slowly around her neck and moved to her cheeks. Through the furrows to her eyes, it was like a split second to the old nun where she stood still until the person the hand belonged to sat down opposite her.

Steiner´'s weak eyes narrowed with a haze of panic at what was about to happen. Reluctantly, she pushed the lamp towards the person.

"Is that you, Martin?" she asked through the penumbra. "Who is that?"

Lukas held on to the doorstep. She tried to go to him but was overtaken by the person.

"Martin!" she repeated, somewhat annoyed.

It was only with the cut-off scream that she realised it was not the prankster Martin. Lukas slumped to the floor and hit his head on the wall. A dagger was pulled out of his back.

Steiner knelt in front of the fragile body. Almost teasingly, the person danced along the beds and finally tickled the old woman's face. With caresses she suppressed her voice while the person laughed mockingly. Steiner now realised that something was wrong. The sheets were all stained. None of the children was breathing.

A mischievous whisper brought Steiner´s body into a convulsive position. Now both hands were busy scanning the face. The person was speaking.

“Why did he have to get involved? He has nothing to do with it!” the killer said angrily.

Steiner looked up. Something about her counterpart´s eyes caught her attention. They were as sinister as the depth of the sea.

“… Goldmann... is that you?”

“It´s nice that you can remember me,” she replied.

“But what…”

Steiner couldn´t finish her sentence. Goldmann pressed Steiner´s eyes deep in the eye sockets.

“You never saw anything. You never saw how I suffered and now he´s turned up and ruined everything for me!”

Goldmann had left the room.

As if the rope around Steiner had disappeared, she found her voice again and called the priest. Trying to reach Pest, she felt her way along the walls and threw down china and pictures. With her eyes squinted shut, she tried to see as she was crawling into the girl's room. Steiner could barely see anything while Goldmann was merciless as she struck the sheets with delicate stitches several times as if she wanted to show morbidly what happened to one if he did not show obedience.

“They have all suffered enough with you and Pest,” Goldmann said, “I saved them from the wings of the abbey.”

Speechless, Klara knelt again.

Steiner recognised Goldmann coming towards her. It was only a matter of seconds when Goldmann dragged her into the courtyard. Steiner pleaded for her life; tears flowed down her cheeks. Sitting under the olive tree, she could vaguely perceive Pest being brought next to her. Like old potato sacks that had to be burned, the murderer laid them rudely on the spot.

A prayer to the moon made Steiner cry out for help. In the wasteland, no one heard her. Desperation made her forget how her colleague beside her was being maimed with solicitous words. Pest was already lying on the ground when Steiner finally lost her last hope. She felt the warm blood of the priest on her knees and hands.

"Please!" the old woman implored, “We´re sorry. We didn´t know what would happen to you. Believe us.”

“I no longer believe anyone. He interfered and screwed everything up. I had a plan. I´m going to kill him. I´ll kill them all! For what they have done to me…”

Goldmann didn´t speak in anger. It was sadness. It was as if she was on the verge of a collapse. Steiner did not know what she could have done. Humiliated and covered in blood, Steiner was getting dizzy.

Steiner couldn´t react anymore. Steiner received slaps in the face for misconduct she had not committed. With each new slap, the agony became more unbearable. Steiner did not understand how the pent-up rage caused the murderer to go blind.

She did not care. At some point Steiner no longer felt anything. Faintly, she heard Goldmann's voice before she fell to the floor and lost consciousness.

***

“What have I done?”

Goldmann sat next to the dead Steiner and cried. Like a child who had just realised how much of its toys it had broken, she could not take its eyes off her.

Tears ran down her cheeks.

“Léonard is my rescue. We have a contract after all, don´t we?”

To the next part: Chapter II.5.


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Wed Sep 08, 2021 5:00 pm
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ForeverYoung299 wrote a review...



Hey! Forever here with a short review!!

There were many lakes in this former country

This line actually makes me wonder a lot about this particular place, especially the word "former". It has something to do with the story, I guess though that is quite vague at the moment.

I really liked your descriptions in the chapter, as always. However, you sort of described throughout 7-8 paragraphs. That isn't bad to provide descriptions to flesh out the thing but long descriptions can sometimes be boring. Now, if this particular orphanage comes in the story later, I will just recommend conserving a bit of descriptions for that time. And if it doesn't, well you have nothing to do.

This chapter was full of horror, which I quite liked. It was a lot different from the other chapters which had different sort of tones. So Golddman was that man- the man who has done a contraction with Leonard. Now, again we have a "he" here. I wonder who this he might be. Leonard by any means? Maybe. This Golddman man seems to be quite a dark and evil man to kill all these innocent children and also Steiner.

This man is somehow connected to Leonard now and also he regards him as his rescue. It's quite apparent that he has done crimes in the past, at least it seems to me that he has and now he wants to be acquited of all the charges. Leonard doesn't seem to be an evil man. So, I suppose this man is sorta Leonard's enemy but Leonard has tricked him somehow to trust him(?)

Also this man is vulnerable and sometimes the story makes me think the man has a horrible past and he does all these things to get rid of that past or these events are consequences of past happenings.

That brings an end to this review. Will be reading the next chapter soon.

Keep Writing!!

~Forever




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Sat Sep 04, 2021 2:52 pm
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RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hey Mailice!

RandomTalks here for a quick review! And I will also be trying to incorporate something I have learnt from #reVIEWs , so let's see where this goes.

Okay, I thought that this part was a lot different than your usual parts. It had a darker undertone to it, this graveness about it that had not been present in Leonard's cocky narrative or Emma's gentle and excited voice. It began with the descriptions of course, and you have set the scene again with brilliance again. I liked how you opened onto the scene of the orphanage. as for what happened afterwards, I really did not see that coming. There are several questions that come to mind when you think about Goldmann - how has she been wronged? What happened to her? What led her to ruthlessly murder all these children? I feel that the answers to the these question are more important than her connection to Leonard as it plays a pivotal part in basing her character and role in the story. I want to judge her and declare her evil for killing all these people, but I feel like I cannot do that until I know. You planted a great seed in the reader's mind with the scene where she broke down after she was done with her killing rampage. That part had made me consider her character twice, and I already know that I am not going to get my answers now, at least, not in the next part.

The flow was quite nice in this section, and once the action scene started unrolling, things just happened too fast and I think it depicted the franticness of the situation very well. Steiner's fear was portrayed very well, and although we don't know her or any of the characters introduced in this part, you still managed to invoke some sense of sympathy in us with their deaths. I do agree with Plume on one thing. You introduced Steiner as Klara and then shifted a little between her first and last names in the middle of an action sequence. As the readers do not really know these characters yet, they get confused about who is who. At least, I know I was.

I would once again like to say how well you created a kind of darkness in this part. It suggests that the novel is not really what we thought, and things are about to get much more serious.

That's all. Keep up the good work and have a great day!




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Sat Jul 31, 2021 3:51 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hiya Mailice! This part of the story took a darker, gorier turn. I’m fascinated because it seems the worldbuilding gets bigger and bigger, moving beyond even the towns surrounding Sehlingen to a place ‘far far away’ where something else plot-relevant is happening. This chapter was also a real emotional rollercoaster for me, especially with the contrasts between the tranquil beginning and the horrifying end.

Characters

Since we’ve moved away from the main cast, I don’t think I’ve seen enough of these new characters being introduced to form concrete opinions of them. The nun and the priest seem to have been caught in a tough situation. I had a good impression of them from how kind they seemed around the children, but Goldmann’s story implies they’ve done some shady things in the past!

Goldmann meanwhile is also hard to read. She seems brutal in killing the children, and yet I think she believes she is doing them a kindness? She appears to be a tragic figure in this story, albeit a violent one.

Plot

Speaking of the violence, the scenes in this one were such a huge turn from previous chapters, it gives me the sense the plot is going to pick up pace and become even darker from here on out. Earlier on Léonard would threaten violence, sure, but if I’m not mistaken here is the first time it’s been graphically described.

Lukas slumped to the floor and hit his head on the wall. A dagger was pulled out of his back.
I was so shocked and devastated with just this line!
In the ending, I’m supposing that Goldmann is the ‘she’ Léonard was talking about? This chapter leaves me wondering how what happened to Goldmann in the past and how the orphanage is connected to the tale of the de Waarfays . . .

Setting

The surroundings of the orphanage seem beautiful and fantastical in the opening. I like that image of a landscape with many lakes and rivers– almost busy with rivers you could say.

There were many lakes in this former country.
This line interested me. Was this place a country or kingdom like the ones in the Sagauvelian Empire?

Springs and underground river courses magically connected the landscape, hidden between towering mountains and densely forested valleys. The slate-like rock gave the lake its namesake colour. Its shape resembled a snake meandering through the branches.


I notice that you describe natural scenes by personifying the different elements of nature, like the rivers that “connect” the landscape and the rock that “gave” the lake colour – there are a lot of active verbs and it makes the setting come alive.

The smell of pinecones and water lilies mingled with the deadwood of fallen leaves.


I’m not sure how those smell like, but the specific images brought to mind visuals of pine trees and lily pads.

Since rarely much became public, it must have been obvious that the children were not brought here voluntarily. Whether it was true or not is not known. In two aspects they were all similar; they were full orphans and all their parents worked for the same company. . . There was rarely any crying in these halls.


Despite the literal content of the last line, I thought this description portrayed the orphanage as being ambiguously dystopian. It looks like a perfect paradise maybe, but there’s something dark lurking under the surface, with all the mysterious coincidences, e.g. the parents of the children working in the same company. So even though ‘no crying’ should probably mean the place is happy, the earlier lines make it seem ominous, like a façade.

The strict rules of the overseers were followed by everyone.


Another ominous sentence! ‘overseer’ makes me think of those who supervised children in Victorian England and forced them to labour long, hard hours, even though in the earlier paragraphs that’s not the case, I can’t help but make that association.

Style

Right there, shut off from the world, was a very hidden orphanage.
I think ‘very’ might be unnecessary here since it’s already described as being “shut off from the world”.

One of them was Lukas Kunz, who was about to celebrate his eleventh birthday. He could hardly wait to eat the apple cake he wished for.
I love these lines. Introducing Lukas like this makes the later scene even more devastating because he’s humanised to the audience.

An ice-cold shiver overtook her as the shadows of the beds piled up into black waves on the walls, turning the room into a flickering, chilly room.

I think you might have meant to type a metaphor in the position of that second ‘room’ there?

Steiner now realised that something was wrong. The sheets were all stained. None of the children was breathing.


Steiner’s mental state seemed to be in shock as well, disconnecting a bit from reality before being brought back to it. I thought that was a good choice for the scene, as it emphasised the horror of it all.

Steiner could barely see anything while Goldmann was merciless as she struck the sheets with delicate stitches several times as if she wanted to show morbidly what happened to one if he did not show obedience.


I was a bit confused as to what was happening here. Was Goldmann killing the girls with a small sharp implement hence “stitches”?

Like old potato sacks that had to be burned, the murderer laid them rudely on the spot.
“old potato sacks” was another grisly and impactful image!

That's all

Hopefully some of these comments are helpful to you. Keep writing! <3

Cheers,
-Lim




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Thu Jun 10, 2021 1:34 pm
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

Oh wow. I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't that! It was a huge shock while I was reading that, I tell you. I'm honestly still recovering. That being said, I think this chapter was really great! I think the shock factor definitely worked in your favor, and you gave the readers soooo much more information while still keeping some of it hidden.

One thing I really enjoyed about this chapter was the introduction of Goldmann. I think she might be the mysterious "she" that was mentioned in the last chapter, but I also think what we saw of her this chapter was so compelling! At first, she seemed like this coldhearted killer who was probably the real one behind all the murders. I also assumed the "he" she spoke of was Leonard. But then it was revealed in that last part that she might actually have a conscience, and she seemed really regretful. She also referred to Leonard as her "rescue" which seems slightly odd if he is actually the "he" she spoke of, because she seemed to not like that person. It's raising a lot of questions while simultaneously letting the readers draw their own answers about existing questions, and I think it's making this work even more engaging.

I also really enjoyed the beginning of this chapter. Once again, you are so skilled at describing natural scenes. This one felt so peaceful, and I swear I felt a longing in my heart that I wanted to be there. It was a truly magical experience reading your words.

Specifics

Some were so deep, nobody knew how deep, others were so large, one couldn't see the shore on the other side and some were only a product of humans themselves.


I thought that this sentence had a slightly odd flow to it. Firstly, I think that your repetition of deep felt a little weirdly phrased. I wondered if you could perhaps use a synonym or just rephrase it so that you didn't have the same work in such close proximity in the sentence. Also, since you have a list that you're interrupting with commas, I'm pretty sure the accepted grammar rule for that would be to separate the different items with semicolons, like this:

Some were so deep, nobody knew how deep; others were so large, one couldn't see the shore on the other side; and some were only a product of humans themselves.


One of these unnumerable lakes was called Emerald Lake.


Just a tiny thing: "unnumerable" should be "innumerable." It's a classic mistake, and one that I make a lot too.

Steiner knelt in front of the fragile body. Almost teasingly, the person danced along the beds and finally tickled the old woman's face. With caresses she suppressed her voice while the person laughed mockingly. Klara now realised that something was wrong. The sheets were all stained. None of the children was breathing.


One thing I noticed was that you alternate between calling Klara Steiner "Klara" and "Steiner." I think for the ease of the readers, you should just stick to one.

Goldmann sat next to the dead Steiner and cried. Like a child who had just realised how much of its toys it had broken, it could not take its eyes off her.


I wondered about your usage of "it" rather than "she" for Goldmann. It could be just a simple mistake when you said "it could not take her eyes of her," but I'm curious to see if there was a reason why. If not, I think you should change "it" to she, just to preserve continuity.

Overall: really nice work! I really enjoyed reading this chapter (except when all the children died. That wasn't fun) and I'm soooo excited to read what comes next! Until next time!!






Thank you very much for your review! I hope you have recovered a little from the shock. :D




Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you.
— Welcome to Night Vale