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E - Everyone

The Tale of the Shade Squad-Part One, Chapter Two

by StormyZSnifter


(Sorry if there's any continuity errors; the first part of this story has been revised so many times that many details are mixed up, which hopefully explains any confusion. It's also a long way from the point of the story that I'm actually working on, and was written a long time ago and hastily edited, so some details may be irrelevant and/or make no sense. Many apologies, if so.)

Chapter Two

Her new companion was, in fact, serious. 

The man was a terrible driver; there was a lot of swerving and bumps. Soon they stopped, and he set April onto the ground.

They were in a small, empty wooden building. Cats lounged around, sleeping in the patches of sunlight. “My home base,” the man said. “The wyrms have already been here, I can smell it. I doubt they’d check it again, especially not in broad daylight. We are safe, for now.”

Here he looked away. “Now I suppose I must tell you what is going on.”

“My name is Gideon. I am not a human, I am a griffin.” He hissed something unintelligible at a tabby that was slinking towards them, and the cat jumped back, affronted. April let out a high, disbelieving laugh. “A griffin. Really.”

“Yes,” he said. “I’m not quite sure why you’re filled with so much disbelief. But that is not the point. I come from the world of Compendium. I arrived here two months ago, to set up a future for me and my love, the dainty, ravishing Adelaide.”

Here he smiled, a bit foolishly, at the thought. “What a doe. What a doe. She could beat the tar out of a squadron of dragons while-”

“What? What the- just get to the point,” April broke in. Gideon's expression sobered. “Sorry, just indulging in some happy memories. The only reason she isn’t here in my place is that she’s needed on the front lines. Commander in chief, you know. Or almost.”

“Anyways, it all began with the cursed war. The griffins and dragons battling over control, and magic. My parents, important figures in the griffin military, made me an instant officer when I enlisted, which, might I add, was not my own choice. But some good came out of that, because that was where I met Adelaide. Every buck and his brother wished to court her, but she chose me, and together, we began to plot our way out of this war. She couldn’t stand magic, because of all the trouble it caused, and that was another thing we wanted to escape.

“Eventually, our scheme led us to realize that in order to leave the war and magic behind, we needed to leave the universe. It was actually easier than one would think, although it involved crossing enemy lines unnoticed to retrieve crucial information, years and years of research, spell casting, and careful preparation, all in complete secrecy. Finally, I snuck away on a foggy morning with a love letter from Adelaide and, brimming to the ears with magic reserves, cast various spells, and the doorway between the worlds was opened.”

“Magic reserves?”

“In the world I come from, most local magic is powered by the Astonishing Arcanide,” (here April snorted) “-an incredibly powerful substance. Griffins were the original guardians of it, and as such, we were endowed with a fragment of it at birth. The substance could allow the bearer to store up a large amount of extra magic should they ever leave the continent, which was the location of the source of power. Anyhow, when the humans were gone-”

Here he coughed, and looked uneasy, “the dragons tried to rise up and seize control over the entire continent, attempting to wrest control from the griffins over the central source of the elemental crystal, and this was how the war started.

“When I arrived here, I immediately used my magic to shift into my mask, a human form that I had prepared before. My plan was to find a steady source of income, so that when I returned to Adelaide, she and I could live a peaceful magic-free life.”

“This explains the strange clothes,” April said wryly. “And the bike. And the accent.”

He growled, the sound ridiculous coming from a human mouth. “But then the wyrms came.”

“Tell me about those,” said April. “What were they trying to do?” Gideon made a noise that could only be described as a sharp chuff. “They were here only to capture me, I’m sure of it. They actually succeeded, two nights ago. They went about it very cleverly. Once I was in their clutches and unconscious, the one that had caught me began to remove my elemental crystal by brute force; I think he used a crowbar. But griffins have good instincts,” he said with a flicker of pride, “and I flew awake just as he got it out. He wasn’t expecting me to wake up so soon, and in the confusion I managed to get free and escape, and I was up and away before they could do anything about it.”

“And now to you, unfortunate human. You have been turned into a, well, you’re just a mouse, it seems. But nothing like the ones that you have here. Our mice are, well, you know, honestly I can’t tell you anything specific about them. All I know is that the fairies love them. The ones I’m most familiar with like to steal stuff and sell them on the black market. Anyways-”

“What now?” April interrupted. “The mice sell goods on the black market?” Gideon nodded in disgust, as if it were perfectly normal, although unacceptable, for rodents to snoop around and sell things on the underground market.

“Unfortunately, strange little human, I have no idea what the wyrms wanted to do with me or why they did what they did to you. Perhaps you could fill me in on your story?”

April did. She told him everything, but Gideon knew nothing about what the wyrms wanted.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know why they did that. But we really need to get out of here. Any bounty hunter worth his salt will be here within at least a day, and that is something we can’t afford. I know your story, and you know my story, so let’s fly.”

He saw April’s face. “No, not actually flying. I meant to say we should scram. My mask draws power from the crystal, and now that that’s gone, if I take my mask off, I will never be able to put it back on. To be honest, I think it will only last for another forty-eight hours.”

“Didn’t you think that was worth mentioning?” April asked anxiously. Gideon grimaced. “Sorry, but it can’t be helped. If we get out of town, we might be safe enough to come up with a plan in time without worrying about other dangers, but we must leave now. Now!” There was a mad scramble as April was whisked back into the pocket by her new ally, who burst through the shack’s door and wheeled off on his ridiculous bicycle.

As they rode, Gideon told her that he was planning on merely taking the bus. “After your disappearance, there are search parties everywhere, but there’s no trains to stow away on. If we’re lucky, this way we could be safe for, maybe at least six hours, depending on the quality of the bounty hunter they hired.”

“What makes you so sure that they’re hiring a bounty hunter?” April shouted from the back. It was an especially windy day, and the bicycle had a squeaky wheel, and if she didn’t yell then Gideon couldn’t hear her. “Where would they even find one of those?” He didn’t hear her, so she crawled onto his shoulder, her overgrown claws digging into the leather of his jacket, and repeated her question.

“Oh, don’t you know? Exiled people of all the shady kinds congregate on a worldwide website forum. Pretty easy to find, if you know the right info. They have all sorts of coded systems to make sure everything’s under the radar, but if you are a vicious, foul worm, like three draconians I know, you would have no problem. Shh! There's a person!”

They “subtly” made their way to the nearest bus stop, and boarded fifteen minutes later. They sat in the far back, next to an emergency exit.

April couldn’t decide what to think about Gideon. He was kind to help her out, but he was a bit short-tempered and intense. Overall, he had a curious energy that was just really confusing in general, emotion-wise.

Gideon abruptly made the decision to stop and get off, about thirty minutes later. “This ought to buy us some time,” he muttered as they descended the steps.

By now it was after noon. The city was neither small nor large, but crowded with people going about their day, never even knowing that a griffin and a sentient mouse had just walked by inches away. Gideon stopped at a Subway and got the Sub of the Day.

They found a vacant plaza behind all of the shops where they could talk freely and April could stretch her legs. She was too anxious to eat much of the bread Gideon gave her, but his appetite was immense. As they ate, they discussed ways to get Gideon’s crystal back.

“Couldn’t we just hire someone to do it for us?” she asked.

Gideon shook his head. “I browsed the editorials and ads in the newspapers at the sandwich shop. Only one for a hitman, which isn't exactly ideal. Also, I don’t wish to support murderers.”

April was shocked. “There were ads for assassins right there in the newspaper? Why here?”

Gideon shrugged. “ Just the one. In code, naturally. The rule for assassins is that they advertise as medieval weapon collectors. People who specialize in sneaking around, like cat burglars, bounty hunters, and spies have other things that they collect.”

“What if it was a normal person who just liked medieval weapons? …And how do you know that?”

Gideon shrugged, and began to stand up.

April reluctantly got back into the pocket, but first she asked her friend(she felt that he qualified by now), “This may be a bit rude… but how old are you, Gideon?”

“Griffins age much differently than humans, if that’s what you’re wondering. We mature extremely fast, then slow down until we are middle aged, about seventy-five, and then we at least live to be a hundred and ninety. Ten in griffin years is around seventeen for you, if humans age like I think they do.”

His face grew wistful. “I celebrated my forty-sixth birthday, about twenty-two human years, with Adelaide just before I left. We had kraken sashimi and jackalope’s milk custard and slow-roasted truffles. We sat on the bluff and watched the sunset, and the burning dragon city, and she painted me a picture of herself to take with me when I left. Remind me to show you later.” 

April nestled into the inner lining of the pocket, a bit uneasy after hearing those details, and fell asleep on the sun-warmed fabric.

When she woke up, she was greeted by pitch-black night and an impending disaster.

“I smelt something suspicious.” Gideon muttered. They were hidden behind the shrubbery of a parking lot. “A whiff of something different. I was scouting out more alleyways," Naturally, April thought, and almost smiled. "-and I felt it coming from the south. I hurried away, but I’m sure that it's the person that the wyrms hired.”

“What makes you think that it wasn’t someone like the hitman from the ad out on the town?”

“Reasons. Too complicated to explain right now. Quick, did you hear that?”

Far away, there was the sound of an engine. Gideon tensed, and slowly began backing away from their hiding spot. Once they reached the buildings, he turned and ran. “There’s an alleyway over this way,” Gideon gasped.

April had never thought that living in a fantasy story would involve so much running, hiding, or alleyways. She was really getting sick of it.

At first she had wanted nothing more than for her life to be back to the usual, but as she learned more about the wonderful and worrying things that were happening outside of what she thought familiar, she began to think that this experience might be rewarding after all. After all, who could say that a griffin bought them lunch?

Of course now she immediately wished that life was back to normal as she ran for her life.

They rounded the alley corner and Gideon leaned against the wall, catching his breath. “Do you think we lost them?” she asked him. He shook his head grimly. “Doubtful. Any self-respecting bounty hunter has better tracking skills than that. We should get going now.” Gideon peered around the corner. They heard the sound again, but louder. “Oh, he’s definitely on to us.” he let out a snarl, and looked down at April. The engine got louder.

“There’s a parking garage with roof access and a stairwell about a quarter mile from here,” he whispered. “Also near an intersection. Maybe we could call for help.”

They heard the sound of the vehicle getting closer, and they both could feel that they weren’t going to make it. Gideon thought that he remembered seeing another alley only a little further up, and, desperate, they hustled towards it.

They only realized that it was a dead end when it was too late.

(Well... there it is.)


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Wed Feb 09, 2022 2:58 pm
MaybeAndrew wrote a review...



Andrew here for your Harsh Review! I am trying a new style of reviewing, so tell me what you think of it.
This chapter is a good follow-up on the last and has many similar strengths and weaknesses. It's magical, fun, and lighthearted, with good signs of a larger world. I like that you try to make our main character seem a bit more disbelieving, but I think you could do more there. At the very least she would have something akin to culture shock when everything she knows is wrenched away with her and replaced with the knew and unknown. For example, when my family first visited France from America, even though it was my first time out of the states, for the first week or so, I was just in a state of recovery. Even though there were castles and really good food I couldn't fully appreciate everything because I was still just trying to adjust. Now, 3 years and 9 countries later, I often time miss that feeling of intense newness and love traveling. When I went to Mexico two weeks ago after a couple of hours I'd already adjusted. So though I could see our resilient main character soon coming to appreciate this interesting new situation, at least at the beginning I'd expect her to be a bit more in recovery mode.
The chapter also feels a bit rushed: Remember, you have all the time in the world, slow down, take a breath, and let the story naturally play out, we aren't speeding to get to anything.
On that note, it feels like you try to get a lot of information out in this chapter, some of that info is great, but I think much of it is unnecessary right now. Remember, you have a whole novel ahead of you, you don't need to tell us everything now. Spread it out, go slow, and take your time. We as an audience are along for the ride.

But into specifics!

Her new companion was, in fact, serious.

Charming little opening line.
The man was a terrible driver; there was a lot of swerving and bumps. Soon they stopped, and he set April onto the ground.

They were in a small, empty wooden building. Cats lounged around, sleeping in the patches of sunlight. “My home base,” the man said. “The wyrms have already been here, I can smell it. I doubt they’d check it again, especially not in broad daylight. We are safe, for now.”

I would say this bit seems a bit clunky and rushed. I feel like you're just speeding us along to get to something later in the story, and not giving this part its true justice.
Here he looked away. “Now I suppose I must tell you what is going on.”

“My name is Gideon. I am not a human, I am a griffin.” He hissed something unintelligible at a tabby that was slinking towards them, and the cat jumped back, affronted. April let out a high, disbelieving laugh. “A griffin. Really.

First of all, both the emboldened parts are questions
The second dialogue should be separated into two separate paragraphs. If there are two different characters talking, it needs to change paragraphs every time the speaker changes.
Also, April is treating this in a way I find strange, she's acting more like she's talking to this guy in a normal situation, and less like she's a girl who was recently turned into a mouse by a lizard monster. She can still be disbleiving, but the making light of it seems strange, considering her situation. I'd just expect more panic and pure denail.
“Yes,” he said. “I’m not quite sure why you’re filled with so much disbelief. But that is not the point. I come from the world of Compendium. I arrived here two months ago, to set up a future for me and my love, the dainty, ravishing Adelaide.”

Here he smiled, a bit foolishly, at the thought. “What a doe. What a doe. She could beat the tar out of a squadron of dragons while-”

“What? What the- just get to the point,” April broke in. Gideon's expression sobered. “Sorry, just indulging in some happy memories. The only reason she isn’t here in my place is that she’s needed on the front lines. Commander in chief, you know. Or almost.”

Feels a bit clunky. Once again April is reacting in ways I wouldn't expect out of someone who got turned into a mouse recently.
“Anyways, it all began with the cursed war. The griffins and dragons battling over control, and magic. My parents, important figures in the griffin military, made me an instant officer when I enlisted, which, might I add, was not my own choice. But some good came out of that, because that was where I met Adelaide. Every buck and his brother wished to court her, but she chose me, and together, we began to plot our way out of this war. She couldn’t stand magic, because of all the trouble it caused, and that was another thing we wanted to escape.

“Eventually, our scheme led us to realize that in order to leave the war and magic behind, we needed to leave the universe. It was actually easier than one would think, although it involved crossing enemy lines unnoticed to retrieve crucial information, years and years of research, spell casting, and careful preparation, all in complete secrecy. Finally, I snuck away on a foggy morning with a love letter from Adelaide and, brimming to the ears with magic reserves, cast various spells, and the doorway between the worlds was opened.”

“Magic reserves?”

“In the world I come from, most local magic is powered by the Astonishing Arcanide,” (here April snorted) “-an incredibly powerful substance. Griffins were the original guardians of it, and as such, we were endowed with a fragment of it at birth. The substance could allow the bearer to store up a large amount of extra magic should they ever leave the continent, which was the location of the source of power. Anyhow, when the humans were gone-”

Here he coughed, and looked uneasy, “the dragons tried to rise up and seize control over the entire continent, attempting to wrest control from the griffins over the central source of the elemental crystal, and this was how the war started.

“When I arrived here, I immediately used my magic to shift into my mask, a human form that I had prepared before. My plan was to find a steady source of income so that when I returned to Adelaide, she and I could live a peaceful magic-free life.”


I get what you're trying to do here with this exposition on the state of the fantasy world, and it sounds like it could be really cool and interesting, but I think a way you could make it feel more magical, interesting, new, and natural, is to spread this information out.
Rarely is the whole world and magic system explained to a nonmagic main character within the first quarter. They're given enough they can grasp basically what's going on, and then you build on that. Slowly and dramatically building character backstory as we go. That way, you don't drown us with exposition, and we stick around to discover more. Then, we do gain more info, it's all the more meaningful too us because of the characters we know and the world info we have already digested.
This explains the strange clothes,” April said wryly. “And the bike. And the accent.”

He growled, the sound ridiculous coming from a human mouth. “But then the wyrms came.”

“Tell me about those,” said April. “What were they trying to do?” Gideon made a noise that could only be described as a sharp chuff. “They were here only to capture me, I’m sure of it. They actually succeeded, two nights ago. They went about it very cleverly. Once I was in their clutches and unconscious, the one that had caught me began to remove my elemental crystal by brute force; I think he used a crowbar. But griffins have good instincts,” he said with a flicker of pride, “and I flew awake just as he got it out. He wasn’t expecting me to wake up so soon, and in the confusion I managed to get free and escape, and I was up and away before they could do anything about it.”

Like here, you could have just told us, A) Griffins and wyrms are at war, B) They tried to still something from Gideon, C,) he stopped them. Maybe D) He doesn't want to be involved in the war. I also think it would have been acceptable for him to just say something to the effective of 'hey, wyrms are bad, not from around here, tried to steal something from me but hey lets get out of here.' That way you could reveal things in action, show not tell style.
“And now to you, unfortunate human. You have been turned into a, well, you’re just a mouse, it seems. But nothing like the ones that you have here. Our mice are, well, you know, honestly I can’t tell you anything specific about them. All I know is that the fairies love them. The ones I’m most familiar with like to steal stuff and sell them on the black market. Anyways-”

“What now?” April interrupted. “The mice sell goods on the black market?” Gideon nodded in disgust, as if it were perfectly normal, although unacceptable, for rodents to snoop around and sell things on the underground market.

I like this, a quick little view into our magical world.
“What now?” April interrupted. “The mice sell goods on the black market?” Gideon nodded in disgust, as if it were perfectly normal, although unacceptable, for rodents to snoop around and sell things on the underground market.

“Unfortunately, strange little human, I have no idea what the wyrms wanted to do with me or why they did what they did to you. Perhaps you could fill me in on your story?”

April did. She told him everything, but Gideon knew nothing about what the wyrms wanted.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know why they did that. But we really need to get out of here. Any bounty hunter worth his salt will be here within at least a day, and that is something we can’t afford. I know your story, and you know my story, so let’s fly.”

He saw April’s face. “No, not actually flying. I meant to say we should scram. My mask draws power from the crystal, and now that that’s gone, if I take my mask off, I will never be able to put it back on. To be honest, I think it will only last for another forty-eight hours.”

“Didn’t you think that was worth mentioning?” April asked anxiously. Gideon grimaced. “Sorry, but it can’t be helped. If we get out of town, we might be safe enough to come up with a plan in time without worrying about other dangers, but we must leave now. Now!” There was a mad scramble as April was whisked back into the pocket by her new ally, who burst through the shack’s door and wheeled off on his ridiculous bicycle.

Quick grammar comments, once again, remember to separate the two chunks of dialogue here into separate paragraphs.
On another note, this seemed a bit rushed, especially the end bit with the bike. I like the strange little human comment and the masks, they seem like a cool magical idea.
As they rode, Gideon told her that he was planning on merely taking the bus. “After your disappearance, there are search parties everywhere, but there’s no trains to stow away on. If we’re lucky, this way we could be safe for, maybe at least six hours, depending on the quality of the bounty hunter they hired.”

“What makes you so sure that they’re hiring a bounty hunter?” April shouted from the back. It was an especially windy day, and the bicycle had a squeaky wheel, and if she didn’t yell then Gideon couldn’t hear her. “Where would they even find one of those?” He didn’t hear her, so she crawled onto his shoulder, her overgrown claws digging into the leather of his jacket, and repeated her question.

“Oh, don’t you know? Exiled people of all the shady kinds congregate on a worldwide website forum. Pretty easy to find, if you know the right info. They have all sorts of coded systems to make sure everything’s under the radar, but if you are a vicious, foul worm, like three draconians I know, you would have no problem. Shh! There's a person!”

They “subtly” made their way to the nearest bus stop, and boarded fifteen minutes later. They sat in the far back, next to an emergency exit.

April couldn’t decide what to think about Gideon. He was kind to help her out, but he was a bit short-tempered and intense. Overall, he had a curious energy that was just really confusing in general, emotion-wise.

I like that they are jus trading a bus XD. The tense of the emboldened sentence is confusing. Finally, I'm surprised Gideon knows this much about how our world works, he's only been here for a bit, right?
ideon abruptly made the decision to stop and get off, about thirty minutes later. “This ought to buy us some time,” he muttered as they descended the steps.

By now it was after noon. The city was neither small nor large, but crowded with people going about their day, never even knowing that a griffin and a sentient mouse had just walked by inches away. Gideon stopped at a Subway and got the Sub of the Day.

They found a vacant plaza behind all of the shops where they could talk freely and April could stretch her legs. She was too anxious to eat much of the bread Gideon gave her, but his appetite was immense. As they ate, they discussed ways to get Gideon’s crystal back.

“Couldn’t we just hire someone to do it for us?” she asked.

Gideon shook his head. “I browsed the editorials and ads in the newspapers at the sandwich shop. Only one for a hitman, which isn't exactly ideal. Also, I don’t wish to support murderers.”

April was shocked. “There were ads for assassins right there in the newspaper? Why here?”

Gideon shrugged. “ Just the one. In code, naturally. The rule for assassins is that they advertise as medieval weapon collectors. People who specialize in sneaking around, like cat burglars, bounty hunters, and spies have other things that they collect.”

“What if it was a normal person who just liked medieval weapons? …And how do you know that?”

Gideon shrugged, and began to stand up.

Intresting little system the assasians have set up. Wait, maybe I'm dumb, but did I miss how why our spunky mouse main character would care about Gideon getting his crystal back? Maybe I missed that in all the information earlier.
April reluctantly got back into the pocket, but first she asked her friend(she felt that he qualified by now), “This may be a bit rude… but how old are you, Gideon?”

“Griffins age much differently than humans, if that’s what you’re wondering. We mature extremely fast, then slow down until we are middle aged, about seventy-five, and then we at least live to be a hundred and ninety. Ten in griffin years is around seventeen for you, if humans age like I think they do.”

His face grew wistful. “I celebrated my forty-sixth birthday, about twenty-two human years, with Adelaide just before I left. We had kraken sashimi and jackalope’s milk custard and slow-roasted truffles. We sat on the bluff and watched the sunset, and the burning dragon city, and she painted me a picture of herself to take with me when I left. Remind me to show you later.”

April nestled into the inner lining of the pocket, a bit uneasy after hearing those details, and fell asleep on the sun-warmed fabric.

When she woke up, she was greeted by pitch-black night and an impending disaster.

“I smelt something suspicious.” Gideon muttered. They were hidden behind the shrubbery of a parking lot. “A whiff of something different. I was scouting out more alleyways," Naturally, April thought, and almost smiled. "-and I felt it coming from the south. I hurried away, but I’m sure that it's the person that the wyrms hired.”

“What makes you think that it wasn’t someone like the hitman from the ad out on the town?”

“Reasons. Too complicated to explain right now. Quick, did you hear that?”

Far away, there was the sound of an engine. Gideon tensed, and slowly began backing away from their hiding spot. Once they reached the buildings, he turned and ran. “There’s an alleyway over this way,” Gideon gasped.

April had never thought that living in a fantasy story would involve so much running, hiding, or alleyways. She was really getting sick of it.

I've always thought it would be funny to have a main character who is aware of fantasy tropes and reads fantasy to wind up in a fantasy world. These fourth wall breaking jokes are good, and your doing a good job of not having to many, because that would break the immersion too much.
At first she had wanted nothing more than for her life to be back to the usual, but as she learned more about the wonderful and worrying things that were happening outside of what she thought familiar, she began to think that this experience might be rewarding after all. After all, who could say that a griffin bought them lunch?

Of course now she immediately wished that life was back to normal as she ran for her life.

I think this is the beginning to a really interesting idea, and I would love to here more here. How does she feel about her family? Is she still in a bit of shock, but maybe, a bit excited as well?
They rounded the alley corner and Gideon leaned against the wall, catching his breath. “Do you think we lost them?” she asked him. He shook his head grimly. “Doubtful. Any self-respecting bounty hunter has better tracking skills than that. We should get going now.” Gideon peered around the corner. They heard the sound again, but louder. “Oh, he’s definitely on to us.” he let out a snarl, and looked down at April. The engine got louder.

“There’s a parking garage with roof access and a stairwell about a quarter mile from here,” he whispered. “Also near an intersection. Maybe we could call for help.”

They heard the sound of the vehicle getting closer, and they both could feel that they weren’t going to make it. Gideon thought that he remembered seeing another alley only a little further up, and, desperate, they hustled towards it.

They only realized that it was a dead end when it was too late.

Good cliffhanger and this really shows the stake of the situation. Once again though, feels a bit rushed, and I would love to feel April's heart beating in her throat, feel her panic and fear, and excitement. It's always good to have some real visceral descriptions of how our main character feels.
But that's just my two cents! Hope it helped!
Like I said, great potential here, just edit it up a bit, improve your skills and this could really be magical and fun.
Thanks, and keep writing,
Andrew






Thank you for the thorough review! I know there's was a lot that needed to be said... Perhaps choosing my poorly written, info dump chapter that's basically there to connect chapters 1 and 3 wasn't the best idea lol. Tbh, I've put off editing this in the hopes that it will leave or somehow vaporize, but anyways the harshness of your review is much appreciated!



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Tue Feb 08, 2022 2:22 pm
Liminality wrote a review...



Hi there! Lim here with a review.

First Impressions
The thing that sticks out most to me in this story is the humour. I like how fast-paced it is and how it sometimes seems to break the fourth wall. It’s genre-savvy, which I also enjoy. Some lines that made me laugh out loud were:

“Our mice are, well, you know, honestly I can’t tell you anything specific about them. All I know is that the fairies love them. “

And
He saw April’s face. “No, not actually flying. I meant to say we should scram.


I’m also intrigued by the worldbuilding and premise here. Even if the details change, the basic concepts about the war between griffins and dragons and how the magical world works in code are still really interesting to me. Despite the humour, there seems to be a darker side to the story in how Gideon talks about the war. He sounds quite hateful of his wartime enemies.

Gideon is an interesting character. His personality is a lot louder than April’s, which is probably aided by him being a griffin (I tend to associate griffins with being ‘big’, which I guess I associate with being ‘loud’) whereas April for now has been transformed into a small mouse. I find a lot of opposite/ contradictory aspects in Gideon, for example, his dialogue is so whimsical to me and yet he makes noises like ‘snarling’ and ‘growling’ which is interesting.

Characterisation

From what I can tell, Gideon and April seem to be presented as opposites or contrasting to each other. This can be seen in their thought processes here:
“Didn’t you think that was worth mentioning?” April asked anxiously. Gideon grimaced. “Sorry, but it can’t be helped. If we get out of town, we might be safe enough to come up with a plan in time without worrying about other dangers, but we must leave now. Now!”

Whereas April seems more cautious and on-edge, Gideon kind of does things on the fly, or at least that’s how he looks like to me in this chapter. Could just be because they’re on the run from wyrms though.

I kind of wish we got to see more of April’s thoughts in this chapter. Maybe it’s because this is the second chapter and seems more focused on introducing Gideon as a second main character, but I kind of felt that he took up a lot of the dialogue space, with April asking questions in between – almost like an interview of Gideon.

“What now?” April interrupted. “The mice sell goods on the black market?”

From this she seems kind of incredulous about the whole magic thing. To me, that kind of gives me more of a sense of what kind of setting this is (that humans live their lives unaware of magic usually) rather than what April’s personality is like.

“What? What the- just get to the point,” April broke in.

It kind of gets a bit odd when I skim through the whole chapter, because nearly every line April says ends with a question mark. (Not very noticeable on my first read, though, because I was concentrating on what Gideon was saying!)

“This explains the strange clothes,” April said wryly. “And the bike. And the accent.”

I think based on April’s comments in general she’s meant to be a snarky sarcastic character who makes funny quips? The line I quoted doesn’t really come across as a ‘dry humour’ comment to me. Because a lot of people wear ‘strange’ clothes, use unique-looking bikes and well, everyone has some kind of accent, and I don’t think April really knows at this point what an accent from Gideon’s world is supposed to sound like? So that’s probably why it kind of missed the mark for me and was a bit confusing to read.

Meanwhile, I think I find a lot of things that Gideon says to be funny or charming. Even if they’re just statements, the way he says it makes it so:
“Yes,” he said. “I’m not quite sure why you’re filled with so much disbelief. But that is not the point. I come from the world of Compendium. I arrived here two months ago, to set up a future for me and my love, the dainty, ravishing Adelaide.”

How he describes his partner as “the dainty, ravishing” is over-the-top in an endearing and ticklish way.

Setting Description

It sounds like this story is set in the modern world with a connection to an alternate world or dimension that has fantastical elements. The way it’s presented seems very light-hearted, but I get an undercurrent of darkness from the mention of war. The war is discussed pretty casually by Gideon at times:
Here he smiled, a bit foolishly, at the thought. “What a doe. What a doe. She could beat the tar out of a squadron of dragons while-”

Mostly while talking about his lover. In other places he describes it as the “cursed war” and speaks with a bit more gravitas. So I’m guessing the war will be treated seriously for the most part, but then Gideon just tends to get distracted with rosy memories when talking about Adelaide.

While I like the pace of the story, and wouldn’t give it up just to get more setting details, I’ll admit I did feel that the descriptions of the surroundings were a bit too short for me to really imagine the place they were in. For example:
They were in a small, empty wooden building. Cats lounged around, sleeping in the patches of sunlight.

I like the general idea, and this sort of home makes Gideon seem otherworldly, and I like that tie-in with his character. I just wish I had more of an idea of where everyone is positioned. Since I know this isn’t the layout of the typical living room, it would be nice to know things like how close the main characters are standing to the entrance, how many cats there are (is it a whole group of cats or just two or three?) and whether there are any windows here or is the sunlight coming through holes in the roof. Descriptions like that would be nice to pepper in between bits of dialogue, like you already did here:
“My name is Gideon. I am not a human, I am a griffin.” He hissed something unintelligible at a tabby that was slinking towards them, and the cat jumped back, affronted.


I like this bit because it kind of hints that he can talk to animals, showing off exactly what he’s saying in the dialogue, which is that he’s not human. Telling and showing at the same time :D

Overall

Generally, I like the balance you’ve hit here between comedy, action, worldbuilding and plot. The world of Compendium sounds very interesting, so even with the exposition in this chapter I felt fine reading it. This chapter also feels very dynamic and quite a bit happens throughout their conversation. I think my understanding of April in particular could probably be improved by reading other chapters, if her thoughts and feelings are explored more there.

Hope some of this is helpful, and keep writing! Feel free also to ask me if you need any more feedback or if something I said here was unclear.

-Lim






Wow, thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed this, and your review was super in depth and helpful! You're totally right, April's character needs a lot of refining and is a bit all over the place this chapter, so thanks for pointing that out. Your review was really appreciated!
-Stormy



Liminality says...


Glad to hear it helped! Good luck with the refining, I'm sure you'll do great :D



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Thu Jan 20, 2022 5:42 am
ForeverYoung299 wrote a review...



Hey! Forever here with a review!!

This was an interesting chapter we had here. The history that we got to see here is definitely very interesting and the story promises a thrilling adventure from what I can see. Okay, so I will try to give you a brief view of what I understood of the history. Well, the history isn’t very clear. Of course, this can happen because of the changes you made. My first question is if the wyrms too travelled along with them to the different world, i.e., earth. From what I can understand and infer, there was a battle between the dragons and the Griffins over the control of magic. I wonder how exactly magic can be controlled. Like is it fully dependent upon that crystal? If no, what is the exact source of their magic? That Arcanide which was mentioned? What does that exactly do? I would like this to be a bit clarified. Jumping back to my first question, are the Wyrms inhabitants of Earth or they accompanied him? Either way it works.

Next, April’s character. I am afraid that the character hasn’t developed a lot. Hopefully, it is going to develop more clearly in the upcoming chapters. Anyway, one thing I could see is the fact that she should be interested in mythology and fantasy. Like not everyone would know what Griffins and Wyrms are if they are not interested in mythology. I don’t know, I might be wrong, at least I didn’t know. Also, she seems to be quite interested in this adventure. She doesn’t seem to very afraid of what is happening to her. She kind of seems to be enjoying this. Well, if these weren’t meant to be her characteristics and feelings in the situation, I would highly recommend you to devote more time to the feelings. Those are more than important when it comes to characters (especially the third person limited one).

Anyway, it’s interesting how the Griffin has managed to take a human form and most importantly, has managed to learn the language of the humans. I wonder if this too happened with the help of magic. They, at the moment seem to be in a very bad sort of condition. Though we don’t know why the Wyrms were trying to catch them but I am very sure that if they succeed, none of April and the Griffin is going to have a good time. If we just take into account the fact that the Wyrms are serpentine dragons, it kind of becomes clear that they support the dragons. So, going with that, maybe the Wyrms are trying to capture the Griffin because he is a griffin and thus their enemy. If the Griffin can smell the Wyrms, the Wuyrms too perhaps can smell the Griffin. That explains it to some extent. Now about April. My brain is too stupid to guess anything about it. Oh, the menu still interests me. Perhaps, there is a similarity between the menu of the Griffins and the one which April ordered. I am totally confused about that.

That was a great cliffhanger there. Hopefully, everything is going to go in a decent manner and the Wyrms will not be able to get their hand on them. Let’s see.

Keep Writing!!

~Forever






Hi! Thank you for the review-so sorry it took me so long to get back!
Yeah, this is by far my least favorite part of the story. I'm most likely going to save the editing of this part for when the rest of the story has more or less been finished, just so that the actual writing style is more or less fluid. And you're absolutely right about the conflicting and generally confusing character actions. (I'm going to blame it on the fact that mot of this was written quite some time before I had any kind of idea what I was doing)
I will be posting edits of chapters once I receive a few more reviews(hopefully), and with luck they will have less blatant errors haha
Thanks again!
-Stormy





You are welcome!! Ah don't worry, everything is going to be fine :D




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