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Awakening Chapter 22: Power

by Otterpop


"Come on, June, you have to swallow..."

Not even a minute had passed, but Blake saw no indication in her neck that she'd swallowed anything. He tried pressing a little harder, even though he knew it was likely pointless.

"Protection on one like you cannot simply transfer to another, boy," said Puter from afar. "You waste your time on a pointless endeavor."

Even if that's true, I dont care. The faint glimmer of hope was all he had right now, and he refused to abandon it. He would not doubt his own determination, or her strength, however much she might have left.

The desperation kicked in, and he didn't even expect himself to shout. "Come on, June! You're stronger than anybody in this whole town, even me! You have a spirit that shines brighter than anyone I've ever met, and I know you won't let anything beat you down, especially not this asshole who thinks he can kill off our town just because he wants to!"

No response, as he feared. Blake's heart raced as he fought back tears.

"June, please! You've always been there for me. Let me be here for you this time! You have to wake up! June!"

"Your mewling is quite irritating. I suggest you leave her behind if you wish to stand and attempt another..."

Blake had tuned out everything else, because in that instance he saw something. A tiny flicker, then a twitch. Her body did not budge an inch, but something moved underneath her eyelids. Ever so slowly they opened, revealing two small pupils encased by brown irises. A dull brown really, and not the usual rich chocolate Blake was accustomed to seeing.

But her eyes bore right into his, and with one simple look, he knew she could see him.

"June!" he cried, unable to hide his joy and relief. "June...I need you to trust me. You have to swallow. I know you can."

Her eyes were mere slivers after a couple moments, but Blake saw all he needed to. There was not a single shred of doubt in her eyes, and despite whatever suffering and pain she endured right now, her gaze never once glistened with fear as she looked at him. Within seconds her eyelids fell; Blake almost panicked until he felt some slight movement on his hand, and moments later witnessed her neck jitter in a swallowing motion.

"Please work, please work," he begged with a whisper.

"Your efforts are meaningless, boy."

The unexpectedly loud voice caught Blake off-guard. His neck immediately twisted and craned, his suspicion confirmed as Puter stood directly above and beside him and June. Blake reached for his scythe but he was kicked away a short distance before his fingers could touch it. He'd been separated from June, and was struggling to stand back up and return to her side. Next thing he knew a foot dug into his stomach.

Now grounded with no way to properly move, and a pained sensation driven into his abdomen, alarmed thoughts swirled about in his head.

A slight groan nearby alerted Blake to his surroundings. The scythe, Blake's scythe, was in Puter's hand. And the tip of its blade rested just above June's chest. In a fit of anger, Blake struggled and pushed upward as best he could. His best friend had been threatened for the last time.

"Your strength hardly compares to mine; I can tell by your meek efforts to remove me."

Blake froze a moment. Puter's voice and expressions had changed a few times on this rooftop already, but this change felt more stark than previous ones. He heard no surprise, amusement, or even irritation. His voice, face, and his very presence carried nothing but pure malice, one that stained the very air with a thick and heart-stopping aura. Blake then realized: Puter had showed some restraint thus far...but without a doubt that restraint had all but vanished, especially now that he pushed harder on Blake's stomach.

Just how strong was he?

"You will be dealt with. And in order to break you, her corpse will be necessary."

"No!"

Just as Puter lifted the scythe and swung downward, Blake outstretched an open hand, desiring nothing other than a ferocity and strength to protect his friend. Soon as he felt the staff slam into his palm, Blake closed his hand and swung. The effort was not a strong one but he did nick one of Puter's legs as the man jumped back towards the middle of the roof. A brief glance told him June was unharmed.

Enough was enough, and Blake was furious now. Using Puter's imbalance to his advantage, he dashed forward with both hands wielding the scythe. He swung once, then twice, before blocking one of Puter's dark-handed slashes.

For the first time, neither was solidly on offense. Blake constantly switched back and forth between attacking and defending, unable to deal more than an occasional nick that hardly did anything in the grand scheme of the fight. He parried another blow, but could not avoid the claws that raked across his right shoulder. Blake refused to stand down however, and continued his back-and-forth onslaught even after slipping a few times on some old tile.

But, something was wrong with his vision. It didn't feel as clear as it had before.

"Your attacks have slowed," Puter jeered. "Give up now lest you suffer a fate worse than if you continue."

Blake would not let this filth demoralize him. Except...it was working. He had so many unhealed injuries that jolts of pain now accompanied every one of his movements. The brief glimpses he gathered revealed patches and dots of blood all over the rooftop. His balance worsened with every swing and dodge. Despite his determination to keep fighting, Blake's body strained just to stand.

After one more parry Blake lifted the scythe for a wide swing. Puter came in faster, and plunged his claws straight into Blake's open side. The initial painful sting morphed into a searing shock that overtook his entire body. Unable to feel anything but the agony radiating from his stomach, Blake let out a shriek, and collided with the ground moments later. He could not stop the coughing that overwhelmed his lungs after he fell; when he opened his eyes again, he noticed splotches of fresh blood on the ground below him.

He screamed inwardly to stand, but the shock and pain was too unbearable. Vertigo set in even faster, and a desire to sink into the ground emerged, if only so the torment in his body would stop. He clenched both his fists and a strange sound emerged from his throat. What was that.

"Foolish child, whimpering and cowering because of your ridiculous stubbornness," said Puter nearby.

With one look Blake realized the man slowly turned away from him. His numb felt numb, but he could figure out that June was his target. Blake reached out with a shaky hand, but even that sent fiery jolts coursing throughout his body. While Puter advanced on the young girl near the railing barrier at the edge of the rooftop, Blake trembled fiercely while he attempted to prop himself on his hands and knees. He coughed again, now feeling the blood drizzling down his lip and chin.

"You've lived long enough, girl." Puter stretched out a hand, and a dark shroud soon enveloped her body.

"No, stop..." Blake wheezed.

Blake took hold of the scythe, and desperately tried to stand. His knees buckled once, and the sharp pulse of it allowed a severe pain to run loose in his body. Feeling a few tears running down his cheeks, Blake fought it as hard as possible so he could stand, and very slowly approach Puter.

He shuffled towards the man, barely able to move inches at a time. Puter stood almost directly over June, the shroud still covering her. Blake pushed himself harder, and took an actual step forward.

Cough.

He about froze in place when the young teen coughed a few more times. Yet, her chest rose and fell, showing no signs of slowing down. She looked exhausted and pale still...but it did not appear to worsen.

"What in the name of the ancients is this?!"

Blake stood maybe ten or fifteen feet away when Puter blurted out the question with such indignation and shock. The shroud had surrounded June for what felt like an eternity, and yet, June still breathed. She finally let out a nasally groan and continued with faint labored breathing.

"Enough of this." Puter raised his arm and bore his claws, ready to strike. He was about to do what he'd just done to Blake.

"NO!"


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Wed Jun 22, 2022 9:03 pm
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi Otterpop,

Mailice back again with another review! :D

"Come on, June, you have to swallow..."


How good that you continue the story where you left off in the previous chapter. Cliffhangers are not meant to keep the reader on a leash for long. But actually I wanted to say that I really like how Blake is now completely focused on June and follows through with his first idea of what he wants to do.

"June!" he cried, unable to hide his joy and relief. "June...I need you to trust me. You have to swallow. I know you can."


I found it a bit strange that you phrased it in such a way that Blake was unable to hide his joy and relief. Precisely because it now seemed somehow, at least at the beginning, I would have expected Blake to recharge his batteries and think he had found a solution or salvation.

"Please work, please work," he begged with a whsiper.


Tiny typo here. :D

Blake froze a moment. Puter's voice and expressions had changed a few times on this rooftop already, but this change felt more stark than previous ones. He heard no surprise, amusement, or even irritation. His voice, face, and his very presence carried nothing but pure malice, one that stained the very air with a thick and heart stopping aura. Blake then realized: Puter had showed some restraint thus far...but without a doubt that restraint had all but vanished, especially now that he pushed harder on Blake's stomach.


The description and narration here gave me the feeling for a brief moment that it was some kind of anime fight where Puter was only now revealing his true strength. But that's not to be taken negatively, because I liked the way you described it without making it too obvious or stereotypical.

And that's what I've noticed now in the last three chapters, that the story has now reached a very intense moment where the struggle becomes more strenuous and difficult, but you manage to put images into words that the reader then deciphers again like a machine and thus establishes the point of what happens next.

You also create a moment of calm here for a brief moment when Blake wants to save June, and I like how this also gets in Blake's own way because he doesn't know where to go or what to do. He has the idea and the will, but it doesn't lead so directly to the desired goal yet, and I like how you portray that here.

In summary, it was a good continuation of the plot and I am curious to see what happens next.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




Otterpop says...


One reply right after the other, don't mind me! I'd already glanced over your comments and am just rereading them hence why the replies are so quick. Your feedback is always very valuable and I'll be sure to make the tiny changes you suggested (being typos or changes that should make sense anyhow).

Can't wait until you finish the story, you're almost there!



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Wed Jun 08, 2022 3:50 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi again Otterpop!

Wow, this one ended with quite the cliffhanger. The flow of action and the impact of the fighting stood out to me in this chapter. I kind of feel I know June and Blake will be okay in the end, but it’s still some edge-of-your-seat stuff. Blake’s desperation really reaches a height. I really felt bad for him reading this scene because he’s just a kid and he’s fighting what looks to be a losing battle against an unearthly being.

Plot

It looks like Blake has just discovered something about his powers that even Puter didn’t know! That’s really exciting because it marks a turning point. It felt previously like Puter was dangling all the answers out of Blake’s grasp, but now Blake’s turned the tables on him in that sense.

I think Puter’s making a mistake by trying to kill June after this. Hmm, he kind of just brushes off how Blake’s plan unexpectedly worked, like he just can’t accept it in his mind. Somehow I get the feeling this will be a miscalculation for him. I don’t know how exactly, but that’s just my speculation at this point.

I like how the chapter is structured around this discovery and Puter’s reaction to it. It feels very focused. Every part of the scene contributed to conveying this plot point and all the character arcs related to it, like Blake’s motivation to protect people and his friendship with June.

His speech to her was very heartfelt. At first, I was a bit puzzled wondering since when Blake's dialogue became so verbose/ poetic, but then on a second read it seemed to make sense. I think people tend to speak more openly when they're in a desperate situation like this, so maybe Blake's just vocalising thoughts he's been having this whole time, now that he fears that otherwise June might lose her life.

Setting

I think at points it would have helped me picture the scene to have some brief description of the setting. Blake mentions the “rooftop” and at one point is “maybe ten or fifteen feet away” from Puter and June. I think a few more bits like that would have helped, as sometimes it did feel like the whole world was just the characters moving about and fighting. That’s good in one sense, since they’re the focus of the scene, but in another sense the setting can really add a lot of flavour.

He shuffled towards the man, barely able to move inches at a time. Puter stood almost directly over June, the shroud still covering her. Blake pushed himself harder, and took an actual step forward.

For example, I like how this part shows how the characters are positioned relative to each other. Maybe it would also help to describe some setting features here and there. Maybe June is lying next to the railing that stops people falling off the roof, (if I remember correctly, they’re on a hospital rooftop, so that should be there) or Blake has his back against the wall next to the ‘Fire Exit’ sign, or something like that.

Pacing

Something I really like is how this whole chapter was paced. It’s really fitting for the climax of a story, or at least one part of a story where a major conflict like this one comes into play. While the big “NO!” ending happens everywhere and might be considered a cliché, I thought it worked fine here. It just fits the mood at the end of the chapter and brings the dramatic tension to a peak before it presumably gets resolved in the following chapter. I also thought the part where Blake was trying to get June to swallow the blood took just enough time and difficulty. It felt real and gritty and also made the payoff of Blake’s plan actually working feel more satisfying/ earned.

Overall, this chapter was great as a climatic action sequence. Blake’s feelings of fear and desperation, but also his drive to save June and defeat Puter were palpable. Puter’s astonishment and indignation at the end are kind of satisfying to see as well, since he’s been so smug the whole time he’s been introduced. I’m not sure how the details of the battle will play out as it reaches it’s end, so I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next chapters.

Hope some of this is helpful and feel free to ask for more feedback!
-Lim

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Otterpop says...


Helpful feedback as always Lim! Kinetic scenes haven't always been my strength, but as the climax of this book at least I'm glad that a lot did come across as strong.

The action and story is definitely the focus, you're absolutely right, but perhaps some more description of the setting would be useful to put into the chapter, so I will definitely reread and change just a few little things.

Hope the last few chapters are worth the read! And thanks again for the review!



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Tue Jun 07, 2022 12:16 pm
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SalisRuinen wrote a review...



Hi! Salis here catching up with another review!!

I actually thought Blake might get a chance to stand on at least even ground against Puter after last chapter's revelations, but you reminded me with this one that we're dealing with no ordinary man here. In truth, my attention had shifted toward Blake trying to save June to such an extent, that I had forgotten how terrifying the villain can actually be.

Puter trying to mentally break his opponent by saying again and again he can't save his friend was something I was expecting, but when Blake realized he was right behind him, I admit I was no less terrified than the protagonist. All the happiness from June waking up was sucked out of the scene the moment Puter intervened, the athmosphere quickly being filled up with terror again.

And the destructive reveal that he hadn't even been fighting seriously up to this point made me lose all hope. Puter had such a strong presence about him througout the chapter that while hating him, I couldn't help but feel a bit of awe as I read about this man. He truly commands the scene like no one else.

Another important note to make about this chapter is that this time we saw Blake not only reaching his limit, but going beyond it both in body and in spirit to save June, showing commendable determination once again. And even if he doesn't seem to have come to closer to ridding himself of Puter, he keeps on surprising him.

That is the sole thing that gives me hope about a shift in the battle's dynamic, but seeing as how Puter has now become more serious and is holding nothing back, I'm getting more and more scared not just for Blake, but for June as well. At least up until now she wasn't conscious and couldn't realize what a situation she was in, but now she'll be forced to bear witness to unimaginable terrors. But maybe, just maybe she and Blake can walk out of this one alive, if traumatized for life.

Thank you for the great chapter and keep on writing!





If all pulled in one direction, the world would keel over.
— Yiddish proverb