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Awakening Chapter 20: Attack

by Otterpop


The pressure on his back and limbs were lessened slightly. A quick glance told Blake that the Shadows atop him seemed surprised by the sudden appearance of the scythe. Or perhaps...it was fear he noticed.

Don't think about it, now's your chance! Blake seized the moment, swinging the scythe around and back. A few screeches rang out as he twisted his wrist to complete the swing. Despite the discomfort of the move most of the weight on his back from a few seconds ago had disappeared. Blake snatched his opportunity and stood, a stinging soreness radiating throughout his legs as he did so. But the sudden surge of adrenaline dulled some of the pain.

An agonizing ache still flared in his left arm though. The small Shadow still hung on but its silvery eyes had now widened.

In a smooth and swift motion, Blake twisted the scythe and pointed the blade at the creature, the tip mere inches from its face. It released his arm in a heartbeat and fell to the ground in a dark and wispy heap. It struggled to scamper off but Blake swung the weapon down and caught the creature in its abdomen before it could escape. It released a long and hoarse screech before dissipating, with Blake pulling the blade up and out in the same instance.

Blake's focus now rested on the surrounding Shadows, many of which looked hesitant to even approach. Blake caught a quick glance of the stranger; he had this expression of very subtle disbelief given the faint twitch in his cheek, and he took only the tiniest of steps forward as his gaze on Blake intensified.

In an instant Blake spun around; a small and lean Shadow charged at him from below. In his periphery, and as if by some kind of sixth sense, he noticed two more leaping at him from behind on both sides. Thinking fast he jumped back and turned the blade of the scythe backwards. Closing his eyes a brief moment and relying only on instinct, he swung towards his rear, opening his eyes just as he clipped a foot off of one of the assailants. The other one charging at him leaped but Blake had enough time to kick it away as hard as he could. When he turned he held the staff in front of him as a third dark wisp bore down, so he twisted and pushed forward to redirect the creature away from him.

An angry snort from behind then caught his attention. A bear-sized monstrosity charged right at him with shocking speed. Blake twisted around but not in time as its form crashed right into him, forcing him onto the ground face-up.

The staff kept the Shadow from biting him, but surrounding assailants showed signs of joining in. A little one dashed in on his left, the side unguarded by the blade, so Blake took a risk by letting go of his weapon and punching the small thing with his left hand. The Shadow atop him inched closer leaving Blake with little strength to lift up the staff again with both hands.

Remembering one of the haphazard tactics at the park, Blake switched his left hand over and gripped the part of the staff closest to the blade. His arms now crossed, and with the blade now twisted in a different direction, Blake pulled the scythe up and left with all his might without flipping over. The sickle caught the creature's throat and left a massive gash; it lifted its head and howled up into the air as its neck began disintegrating, the wound radiating outward. Blake pulled himself back only a small bit, and swung the weapon to the right again. The slash mark on its neck widened and extended to its shoulder, and within seconds the creature collapsed while Blake stood up straight again.

None of the other Shadows moved, and a couple on the fringes of the rooftop even turned and jumped off the building. Blake took initiative this time, running towards the closest Shadow in his sights. The cat-looking creature scrambled to the left as Blake pulled the scythe back around his right. He swung but missed, and the Shadow's attempt at dodging gave Blake another chance. Instinct told him something approached from behind, so he spun the scythe around almost in a complete circle. He again missed one dark wisp, but managed to slice one clean in half as it dove on him from above.

Three different charges later, Blake had dispatched three other Shadows and scared off a few others. The dark figures still dotted the rooftop in numbers, but many had become too hesitant or nervous to strike.

With enough space and more confidence now, Blake turned his attention onto the stranger. June still lay next to him, and the massive four-legged spectre still stood there with a lowered head and wisps of gaseous shadow flaring up around it. The man had a most unusual face, however. His lips had warped into a furious frown and his wide, golden eyes bore a very clear disdain the longer they stared at the young man. The stranger's fists unclenched but were very clearly a bit reddened.

"So then...you do know my warden," he simply said.

The words were simple, but the undertone was so malicious that it sent an uncomfortable twitch throughout his body. But he held his ground, and prepared to release all the conviction rising within him as a sort of calm confidence came over his mind for the first time that day. "I still don't." Blake lifted the scythe to indicate it. "I didn't even know about this thing until recently, and I still don't understand your threats."

"But you can evidently see these shadowy entities despite being human, and you have shown potential capability in wielding one of his weapons."

His weapon? Despite being a human? Blake blinked a few times to mentally shake himself out of his own thoughts. "I still don't know what or who you're after, or why. But this is my town. My family and friends are here. I want you and the Shadows to leave my home alone, because you're not gonna find whatever you're looking for."

He should not have said half of that, and so boldly, but he was done with bargains and dealing with all this supernatural nonsense. He wanted his home to be safe again, for his mother and for June to be okay...he wanted none of whatever this was with the scythe and the Shadows, and especially no more of this man hurting his town.

"Heh..."

Blake pricked up, and held his breath for a few seconds as he wondered what would come next. Moments later, the man let out a vicious cackle, thrusting his chin towards the sky in the same instance. Blake leaned back ever so slightly after a small shiver ran up his back.

"Hahahahaha!" His hands gripped the scythe even tighter and Blake took a couple of reluctant steps forward. Meanwhile the man ceased his laughter after a couple of seconds and lowered his chin afterward. "You think I can control these pathetic things?" the stranger finally boomed. "They are not my responsibility. But his failure to deal with them per his duty allowed me to...persuade them of sorts, use them for my own purposes."

This man wasn't controlling any of the Shadows? Then, who was?

"This situation has become infuriating, and yet amusing all the same. So I will grant you this, as a parting gift." The man lowed his head and arm in a bowing motion. "My name is Puter, and for centuries I have been imprisoned by the one who marked you or your descendants. And this village will die by day's end. So at the very least..."

He took a large step forward, and lifted one of his hands. It changed; the pale skin of his fingertips darkened, and that darkness radiated outward until the grim color covered half of his arm. The fingernails as well grew out, and sharper, appearing more like tiny claws with deadly intent. His eyes pulsated with a glow, eerie to stare at despite the golden sheen about them. Blake's heart raced and he took a step back as the man took another step forward.

"...please do entertain me for as long as you can."

There was no time to react. It was as if Puter surged forward, covering over fifteen feet in the blink of an eye, and immediately swiped his claws fingers out. Blake could barely lift the scythe to block it, and was even more unprepared as Puter's other fist plunged into his face. Blake tumbled back but managed to keep clutching on the scythe; one side of his face burned but he mustered the energy to stand, pause, and bolt right for his target.

Puter moved so fast out of Blake's vision. One moment he was twenty feet away, the next right beside Blake and kicking him off to the side. Blake crashed into the rooftop barrier, yelping as the shooting pain in his back radiated throughout his body. His arms and legs went numb for a moment, so much so he couldn't feel the muscles work or move as he tried to stand. Had he not seen it, he wouldn't have been able to tell if he was lifting the scythe off the ground.

"I am not the fighter my compatriots are," sighed a disappointed Puter. "But I had hoped you would make an interesting battle for my rusty skills."

Anger and frustration coursed through him, enough to push Blake forward and swing the scythe downward at his unfazed enemy with ease. Puter dodged, and when Blake tried swinging again from below the man merely pushed the staff away to avoid the curved blade altogether like he was brushing aside a spiderweb.

Swing after swing Blake missed, and Puter remained close to return the favor with punch after backhand. The exhaustion quickly caught up to Blake with the constant swinging, and even the occasional fist he threw could not come close to hitting the mark. He refused to give up, but it became clearer with every passing second that every attempt on his part was in vain, no matter how hard he tried.

Blake swung again, and a second time in quick succession, but Puter avoided both with little effort. But now Blake's assailant move in closer, and he reached out with each hand, as both arms were now enveloped in darkness.

It was impossible to move the scythe in time. Puter latched each hand onto Blake's collar and the boy's right wrist. The grip on his wrist tightened so much Blake let go of the weapon in that hand. The sharp sensation in his wrist extended to his arm, and then his back...now that he'd been halted he could feel all the searing pain. Blake screamed as an agonizing numbness overwhelmed his entire body, and the scythe dropped to the ground with a loud clang.

"I grow tired of your pathetic attempts." Puter's voice was different now. Courser, more menacing, and almost carrying a slight but eerie echo about it. The numbness in his body turned to a frozen shock as Blake was forced to listen longer to Puter's voice and the horrifying undertone beneath it. "You may bear his weapon but you carry none of his power, meaning you are weak and no stronger than any other pathetic human. You failed to deliver my message, and now you attempt to challenge me with a feeble grasp of combat..."

A little blood trickled from his collar down the back of his shoulder, and even the skin on his wrist was now being punctured by sharpened nails. Blake struggled to push out one last defiant retort, despite the unbearable pain. "I told you...I don't even know...who I was supposed to tell..."

Puter stared for a mere second at his prey. "I believe you, child. Which means my deal no longer holds its usefulness."

The grip on Blake's wrist tightened even more, and he let out a loud whimper as a result. His knees buckled underneath him until his legs gave out, but Puter's strength held Blake's body a little off the ground. He could still breathe since only his collarbone was threatened, but he had no strength to try and struggle free. Puter's grip did not let up, and before long Blake noticed a dark, transparent veil beginning to envelop the man's hands. It slowly wrapped itself around Blake's hand, then his arm. The veil soon expanded and before long it covered his face.

An image of the church flashed through Blake's mind. The shadowy veil, the agonizing sickness that suddenly overcame the people inside soon after it happened...panic coursed through his veins and each of his limbs began thrashing in hopes of escape. But the shroud would not be broken, no matter how hard he fought back.

Through the blanket of darkness, Blake noticed a shocking sight. His assailant's eyes had completely changed: the golden irises of Puter's eyes were completely black, and a rancid odor swallowed every ounce of air around Blake. The foul air made it increasingly difficult for him to breathe, but the stranger would not let go.

The sheer terror set in as Blake realized he and his scythe could do nothing to save his own life.

"What...?"

Suddenly, Puter released Blake's wrist, looked at his own hand, and tossed the boy off in front of him. Blake tumbled sideways but stopped after a few seconds. Grimacing, he propped himself onto his hands and knees, and looked over at Puter from partway across the roof. The man still stared at his hand for some reason, his jaw gaped open and his eyes wide with complete bewilderment.

"What manner of protection is this?" 


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Wed Jun 22, 2022 8:56 pm
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi Otterpop,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

Back after a slightly longer break to review all the chapters. Let's start right away. It was a very exciting and well constructed chapter. Despite the few but impactful dialogues (especially the reveal of Puter), I thought you maintained a good structure during the fight, and planned the scenes meticulously and thoughtfully.

This is something I've seen more often with you, that you manage to describe moments where a lot of things are happening in a great structure and organisation, so that the reader always knows exactly where they are. I liked that the focus here was mainly on a fight, which indirectly shows the reader again what exactly Blake is up to and how he has changed over the course of the plot. You notice it clearly when he talks to Puter and gathers his courage there. He also seems more grown up, like here at the beginning:

Or perhaps...it was fear he noticed.


Blake seems to me to be going through a development, unlike other protagonists, whom you always portray in the most diverse moments. Here too, later on, there is a good contrast:

I still don't know what or who you're after, or why. But this is my town. My family and friends are here. I want you and the Shadows to leave my home alone, because you're not gonna find whatever you're looking for."


Blake gathers his courage and speaks openly about what he wants. When he first meets Puter outside the church (chapel?) in the park, he was also open and speaks, but doesn't get straight to the words he was looking for. I like this development, which begins the same night, because it is well represented by the different stages.

"Hahahahaha!"


This is just my opinion here, but I would change the laughing dialogue to "He laughed X" or similar, because it always takes away some of the drama and looks less serious that way. As I said, just my opinion.

"My name is Puter, and for centuries I have been imprisoned by the one who marked you or your descendants. And this village will die by day's end. So at the very least..."


Here we have an interesting revelation, but it doesn't seem to be everything yet....

Definitely a good chapter with great focus on the descriptions and development of the relationship between Blake and Puter.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




Otterpop says...


Thanks for the read Mailice! Been a while!

Yeah, I'll definitely change that dialogue into something less comical, thanks for pointing that out. You had a lot of other great feedback and I appreciate that. Look forward to checking out your other reviews!



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Fri May 20, 2022 3:19 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi Otterpop! Thought I’d give this Green Room chapter of yours a review first, and maybe later circle back to review some of the other ones (though I’m def caught up with your story at this point).

I really love the plot twist about Puter’s relationship to the shadowy creatures. I definitely expected him to be the one controlling all of them, and it’s so interesting and more nuanced to find out that the person who “marked” Blake is the one involved. At least, that’s what I gather, since he mentions them almost immediately after Blake asks the question. I also thought there was something unexpected there when he too called them “shadowy creatures”, because I was like, that can’t be their real name, can it? I don’t know if that was supposed to be foreshadowing for the twist, but if it is, it’s a nice one.

Something I’m not so sure about is the role of the supporting characters. At the beginning, it seemed as though June, Cameron and Amelia were going to have a bigger role in all this. I’d hate to belabour the point I made in one of my early reviews about the gender separation happening in some parts of the story, but just as a side note, I’ve noticed that June and Alisha, who I at least think are the ‘major’ female characters in the story, spend quite a lot of pivotal parts of the story in ‘passive’ roles. Like here June is rescued by Blake, and earlier on, Alisha is being questioned by him but gets cut off by the Shadows rushing in. The hospital frontliner had a great moment in Alisha’s chapter, though I kind of have the feeling we might not see her again?

Still, it may not be a gender thing per say, since Cameron also hasn’t had a presence in these recent chapters. I can’t say for sure where the story is going for the supporting cast, but this might be a good thing to keep in mind. If, five or six chapters later, it’s still only Blake and the antagonists playing an ‘active’ role, but you still want the supporting characters to be a major part of the story (and I think that is the case because of the emphasis Blake places on “his town”) it could be worth thinking about to have some more action-y or investigate-y roles for his pals. Or generally some character arc that is independent from Blake’s. That’s just my thoughts on that, though!

I remember you saying that this work is anime-influenced, and I can see the resemblances to maybe shounen anime in this chapter especially. In general the scythe as a weapon has an anime vibe to it, and the last few paragraphs also feel like something shounen-inspired. Puter seems to be a kind of interesting combination of European influences (his dress, his appearance at the graveyard, the ‘cat’ shadow creature he strokes remind me of villains from American or European media) and Japanese (the very mobile fighting style reminiscent of shounen anime).

Something I enjoyed about this is the descriptions of Puter. I thought his powers were really vividly pictured and interesting as well. The “dark transparent veil” is a nice and physical way to describe supernatural powers, for instance, and I like how the physical manifestation of it being like a cloth matches the significance of it being entrapping and also like a “shroud”. I thought that was fitting and neat.

Now just one nit-pick before I close off:

In a smooth and swift motion, Blake twisted the scythe and lowered the blade's tip to the creature. It released his arm in a heartbeat and fell to the ground in a dark and wispy heap.

To me, “lowered” doesn’t sound like he hit it, it just sounds like he tapped it on the head with the scythe. I like the use of “twisted” though, because it adds force to this movement Blake is making, yet again “lowered” seems much more low energy than it.

Overall, I think it’s great to be seeing the confrontation with Puter here. This whole stretch since Blake saw Puter in the graveyard has been great payoff for the beginning parts of the story. I also like that it’s adding momentum to the plot with new questions to be answered. Hope some of this is helpful, and feel free to ask if something needs clarification.

Keep writing!
-Lim




Otterpop says...


Hey Lim! Thanks a bunch for the review!

Something I think I will say at this point (since you mentioned the passive nature of Alisha and June's characters and the absence especially of Amelia and Cameron in recent chapters) that this book is actually the first of a trilogy; I'm not sure if that might change your perception on their roles in the story but I thought I would put that out there. And I can say for certain that I have planned June, Cam, and Amelia (as well as Alisha) do provide more substantial roles in the following entries. While Blake does share a closeness with his friends/family this installment was a bit more focused on the mysteriousness of the plot and Blake's confusion at trying to figure things out. (it also doesn't help that later chapters have Blake alone often, and with no way to contact anyone else since he doesn't have a phone, cell or home)

However! I do recognize at this point that if I need to find a way to include the supporting characters a bit more I should definitely think of ways to rewrite the story and integrate them a little bit more. Sorry if that was loaded but your input was valuable and did give me a moment to think.

And you are perfectly fine to nitpick! It's honestly an important thing that I should think about changing.

Fun sidenote I thought I'd mention, but did you notice that despite the chapter being called Attack and most of it being a literal battle I did not once use the work 'attack' in this chapter? That part was actually kinda hard to do but I think I made it work out.



Liminality says...


Hiya Otterpop! Ah, it's great to hear that you've got character arcs planned out for all of them. I'd be excited to read the sequel and the third book :D No worries, I always like hearing your musings about your work! Ohh that's so cool. I actually hadn't noticed it right away, but now that you mention it, I can see that the fight scenes were described with a lot of specific movements and gestures like "swinging", which is really neat.



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Fri Apr 15, 2022 11:30 pm
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SalisRuinen wrote a review...



Hey! Salis here with another review!!

Finally we're getting to see some good action and I'm here for it!

Nothing like a clash of supernatural opponents to get things going. I must say you described each party's moves really well with enough detail to give a clear idea of how things are happening without bombarding the reader with too much information. For me that is essential whenever combat is involved.

It felt really good to see Blake defend himself and take the initiative again after being thrown from one desperate situation where he was helpless to another. I also like the balance within the chapter as during its first half while the Shadows were being dispatched, the protagonist definitely had the upper hand while during the second half he was overwhelmed by Puter.

The fight was also very well structured, because it started out with Blake facing something he's familiar with and then he fought an opponent about whom he knew little in terms of his agenda, his abilities and even his very nature. These factors alone increased the tension and led to the most likely outcome of the two's battle – Puter being victorious.

I still would've liked to see Blake land at least one good hit on his main enemy to make the battle less one-sided than it was, but I guess the power gap between him and the old man is too great in the moment. Hopefully that will change in time.

Although thinking that the more I saw of Puter, the less he would terrify me, it felt here that he was just as creepy as when he first appeared. Hats off for managing to keep his presence ever so disturbing. Maybe it was due to the fact that he mostly had a mocking approach towards things up to this point, but now he got serious. Another great change in him I enjoyed seeing.

And it seems another mystery has been added to the ones we already have on our hands with the protection Puter mentioned, strong enough to make him suddenly release Blake. I'm really looking forward to learning more about this protection and if Blake can somehow use it to turn the tide of the battle with the villain in his favor.

Thank you for the great chapter! Keep at it!!





*cries into coffee*
— LadyLizz