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The Simultaneous life of a Count and Herbalist

by AstralHunter


For the Final Battle of the First Ever YWS Hunger Games, the Capitol had said that we must find our oldest piece of writing, revise it, and then publish both the old and the new version. I assumed at first that we had to find the oldest work we had published on YWS, which indeed appears to be the case, but since my first work I had published was my entry for the Blood Bath, I was in trouble.

I foolishly asked whether I was supposed to revise an extract from my very first novel - a novel I had deliberately dismissed - and, as I am sure you can have deduced by now, the Capitol approved of the idea.

What you see before you is the edited version of a project I had started at the age of thirteen. Since its dismissal, I have kept the actual documents, both of the story and its planning, as a reminder of bygone days. However, it seems Fate had had me keep it for other reasons as well...

Originally, the novel was called Genesis, but I later changed it to Scratching the Surface and finally Still Waters. The last was an edited version of the second which I had rewritten from the beginning and saved in a different document, but because of this, I could not use it for this challenge.

For the first version, Scratching the Surface, I had written a prologue, but seeing as it's the last thing I did before I rewrote it and ultimately cancelled the series (even back then I was ambitious), I have selected the first super-paragraph* of my first chapter as my entry. Chapter One's title is "The Simultaneous life of a Count and Herbalist," which is why I named this entry the same. (*Oh, and a super-paragraph is my term for that collection of paragraphs that stretches from one break - indicated by an open line, a horizontal rule, an asterisk, etc. - to another. I named it so because I am not sure what the actual term is, if there even is one.)

Before I conclude this foreword (sorry!), I must add a few details considering the story: Edrich is 32, but since I had created my own time system, that means he still a young adult, as elders typically reach 171 to 200 years of age. Also, a shadow is an hour and a light is a day.

Beneath the first asterisk you will find my new and (hopefully) improved version, and beneath the second you will find the version created on Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 1:01:23 PM. All praise, criticism and suggestions will be much appreciated.

*

Edrich was exhausted. He had accepted the responsibilities that came along with the title his father had passed on to him without complaint, but the thing he despised most was the politics.

Five lights before present, Edrich had been taking his usual morning stroll through the city, when a man had stopped him. He had asked whether Edrich would talk business with him, and Edrich had obliged, following him to his office. Once there, the man explained that he wanted to sell his iron mine because he wanted to go live with his niece in another city.

At first, Edrich was dubious, but the man persisted that if he bought the mine, he could sell his iron to the blacksmiths and then buy the created weapons for his armoury, effectively acquiring weapons without much payment. Edrich reluctantly agreed, and purchased the mine. His initial suspicions were well-founded though, for the owner had neglected to mention that the mine was nearly depleted.

Edrich had felt conned, but, optimist that he was, he decided to use the opportunity to fund the search for iron deeper in the mine. It was a potentially crippling risk, but a risk that payed off well.

Word soon spread of the vast amount of iron in the County of Lavender Hills, and people soon arrived to benefit from it themselves: new blacksmiths had opened their forges, and even a few dignitaries had come to arrange for a regular supply. All of said dignitaries had bargained for more or less half a shadow – all, that is, but a baron who had arrived a light before present; he and Edrich had discussed the issue for at least two shadows until both parties were satisfied. No more people had arrived since then, and even though it was good business, Edrich hoped none would.

He quickly threw on some indigo robes and hastily pulled a comb through his hair before making for the dining room.

It was elegantly decorated, with marble floors and walls and maple furniture, but there were no unnecessary twirls and decorations on these; the Feldspars had always preferred beauty in simplicity to overwhelming embellishments. At the end of a magnificent dining table, Edrich's mother, Lady Charlotte Feldspar, was already helping herself to some fruit.

‘Good morning, Edrich,' she greeted her son, her turquoise eyes smiling along with the rest of her face. 'Did you sleep well?’

Edrich kissed her on the cheek and sat beside her.

‘I did, thank you.’

The Lady Feldspar reflected the preference of her family perfectly, wearing a sleek dress of different shades of blue, an ermine fur coat and a small pair of golden earrings.

‘Well,' she asked, 'do you think you have the energy to handle another light at the castle?’

Edrich groaned. ‘Only if there aren’t any more bargaining noblemen. If there are, I’ll pretend to be ill and return home immediately.’

‘As fate would have it though, you and Rudolph are the only herbalists in the county.’

‘Yes, that does ruin my escape plan, doesn’t it?’

‘It does, indeed,’ Charlotte chuckled.

‘Well then, if I’m not seen again by sunset, send a search party to look for my corpse at the bottom of the cliffs.’ Although he would never commit suicide, dealing with too many noblemen in rapid succession was truly exhausting.

‘Rubbish! I raised you to face problems head on, not run away with your tail between your legs. You’ll attend to any matters that come your way, or I’ll… make you a sewage worker without the generous payment.’

‘That’s an unusually cruel punishment!’

‘You’ll go, then?’

‘I didn’t realise I had a choice.’

‘You don’t. Now eat your fruit.’

Edrich took a peach and some slices of pineapple and watermelon.

‘What is this, anyway?’ he inquired, pointing with his knife at the pineapple.

‘It’s a fruit that grows in the tropical forests of Canori,' his mother answered. 'I’m not sure what they call it, but here in the west it's called pineapples due to its resemblance to a pine cone.’

‘It definitely tastes better than a pine cone,’ Edrich said, taking a bite, ‘though it does taste a bit sour.’

‘If you think a pineapple alone tastes sour, you should never try a combination between that, strawberries and lemons.’

‘Mom, no!' Edrich was appalled. 'You actually tried that?’

‘I was dared,’ Charlotte responded, an amused smile playing on her lips.

‘By whom?’

‘Our chamberlain.’

‘Ariel?’ Edrich shook his head in amazement. ‘I would never have thought that she…’

‘That she what?’

‘Had a sense of humour.’

‘Edrich, you shouldn’t,' Charlotte admonished. 'What if she heard you?’

‘Sorry, but she’s just so…’

‘Strict?’ his mother finished for him.

‘Yes, exactly.’

‘It just goes to show you that looks can be deceiving.’

‘Alright, my philosophical mother, I admit defeat.’

‘Already?' she teased. 'That was too easy. And while we’re on the subject, here’s some more advice: Always be wary of eavesdroppers.’ She winked. ‘Isn’t that right, young lady?’

A maid stepped shyly out from behind an arch. ‘Not a single word shall pass my lips,’ she said and disappeared down a corridor.

Charlotte just laughed.

*

Edrich was exhausted. He had accepted the responsibilities that came along with the title his father had passed on to him without complaint, but the thing he despised most, was the politics.

Five lights before present, Edrich had been taking his usual morning stroll through the city, when a man had stopped him. He had asked whether Edrich would talk business with him, and had taken him to his office. It turned out that the man wanted to sell his iron mine because he wanted to go live with his niece in another city. He persisted that if Edrich bought the mine, he could sell his iron to the blacksmiths and then buy the created weapons for his armoury, effectively acquiring weapons without much payment. Edrich had understood the man’s reasoning perfectly, and purchased the mine. What the owner had neglected to mention though, was that the mine was nearly depleted.

Edrich had felt conned, but, optimist that he was, he decided to use the opportunity to fund the search for iron deeper in the mine. It was a huge risk, but a risk that payed off well.

Word soon spread of the vast amount of iron in the County of Lavender Hills, and people soon arrived to benefit from it themselves. New blacksmiths had set up shop, and even a few dignitaries had come to arrange for a regular supply.

All of them had bargained for more or less half a shadow, with the exception of a single baron who had arrived the previous light. They had discussed the issue for at least two shadows until both parties were satisfied.

No more people had arrived since then, and even though it was good business, Edrich hoped none would.

He got dressed and made for the dining room. His mother, Lady Charlotte Feldspar, was already helping herself to some fruit.

‘Good morning, Edrich. Did you sleep well?’

Edrich kissed her on the cheek and sat beside her.

‘I did, thank you.’

‘Well, do you think you have the energy to handle another light at the castle?’

Edrich groaned. ‘Only if there aren’t any more bargaining noblemen. If there are, I’ll pretend to be ill and return home immediately.’

‘Though as fate would have it, you and Rudolph are the only herbalists around.’

‘Yes, that kind of ruins my plan, doesn’t it?’

‘It does, indeed.’

‘Well then, if I’m not seen again by sunset, send a search party to look for my corpse at the bottom of the cliffs.’

‘Rubbish! I raised you to face problems head on, not run away with your tail between your legs. You’ll attend to any matters that come your way, or I’ll… make you a sewage worker without the generous payment.’

‘That’s a cruel and unusual punishment!’

‘You’ll go, then?’

‘I didn’t realise I had a choice.’

‘You don’t. Now eat your fruit.’

Edrich took a peach and some slices of pineapple and watermelon.

‘What is this, anyway?’ he said, pointing with his knife at the pineapple.

‘It’s a fruit that grows in the tropical forests of Canori. I’m not sure what they call it, but we Westerns call it pineapples due to its resemblance to a pine cone.’

‘It definitely tastes better than a pine cone,’ Edrich said, taking a bite out of a slice, ‘though it does taste a bit sour.’

‘If you think a pineapple alone tastes sour, you should never try a combination between that, strawberries and lemons.’

‘Mom, no! You actually tried that?’

‘I was dared.’

‘By whom?’

‘Our chamberlain.’

‘Ariel?’ Edrich shook his head in amazement. ‘I would never have thought that she could…’

‘Could what?’

‘Have fun.’

‘Edrich, you shouldn’t. What if she heard you?’

‘Sorry, but she’s just so…’

‘Strict?’ his mother finished.

‘Yes, exactly.’

‘It just goes to show you that looks can be deceiving.’

‘Alright, my philosophical mother, I admit defeat.’

‘Already? That was too easy. And while we’re on the subject, here’s some more advice: Always be wary of eavesdroppers.’ She winked. ‘Isn’t that right, young lady?’

A maid stepped shyly out from behind an arch.

‘Not a single word shall pass my lips,’ she said and disappeared down a corridor.

Charlotte just laughed.


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Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:51 am
ExOmelas wrote a review...



I don't think you've given yourself enough credit here. I think your characterisation in both versions was excellent and the relationship between Edrich and his mother was very realistic. I think perhaps the dialogue was a little stilted at times - when they're talking about the pineapple.

"‘Mom, no! You actually tried that?’" - I think perhaps there should be a sound like urgh or eurgh or eww. I just think it would show his disgust a little better.

Also, I think I preferred what the maid said in the earlier version. If you prefer the update, I would suggest putting the 'she said' in between the 'I heard nothing' and the 'so there's nothing...'

Other than that well done and good luck. It has been an honour to compete against you. *Does the three-fingered salute*.




AstralHunter says...


Thank you, BiscuitsBatchAvoy, it has been an honour competing against you as well. :)



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Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:40 am
SpiritedWolfe wrote a review...



Hello James, I know I am a little insey but late with my review, but hopefully you can use some advice I am to give you! (Please excuse any grammatical/spelling errors I have, since I am on my phone).

Will point out, I do agree with Wolfie on the first nitpick. The second sentence is awkwardly worded and kind of hard to follow in the beginning. The fancy language added in it is a nice little touch, but if the sentence itself doesn't flow correctly, it's pretty much just adding boulders to an already blocked river (does that make sense?).

Maybe word it like:
The responsibilities that had come with the title he had inherited from his father were accepted by Edrich [or he, what ever floats your boat] without complaint.. and then rest you had there.

He had asked whether Edrich would talk business with him, and had taken him to his office.

Alright, so not sure if this applies much to you, but being a first person writing, I am really big on showing character emotions and personalities. Here is a perfect place to add some information about your character. Was Edrich shocked someone approached him? Is this a normal thing? How does he react? Does it take persuasion for him to go with the man? Is he open and gladly agrees? Details!! Even the minor details really matter.

Don't even get me started on commas. Just be careful to remember them in between two or more adjectives, when creating compound sentences, and when connecting a dependent clause to in independent clause, but only when the dependent clause if before the independent. It's not necessarily that you do all this stuff, it's just a reminder for when you go back and proof read.

...and people soon arrived to benefit from it themselves.

I found this, too, to be awkwardly worded. How do they benifit from the wealth? I don't understand, does Edrich just hand out shares of the mine?? I do understand that later in the paragraph (the next sentence actually) it's mentioned a little of what they do, but I am still very confused. However, this may be my lack of sleep. {Don't judge me it's three AM in the morning at the time of this review being written!!}

Also, through that paragraph, I was thinking: Alright, so the baron comes. A shadow, that an hour, and wait what? *reread* I don't understand. *reread* Slow down!. Again, may be my tired brain, but wow that was abrupt. Even though the basic plot must be kept, you could at least expand on this a little bit. Make it smoother perhaps?

‘Yes, that does ruin my plan, doesn’t it?’

Plan? What plan? I don't follow. Is it mentioned later on? Confusion is hurting my tired brain! >.< Okay no it wasn't. (Haha, totally didnt finish reading it halfway through the review.)

So, in the three dialogue tags I noticed, two of them used said. Now said is alright to use on occasion, but try not to use it so often when so little dialogue tags are used already. One more word: descriptions. More, I crave more!! I want to know everything. Okay well, not everything, but you don't even mention what the dining room looks like! Is it a huge hall? Is a small closet? What does his mother look like? What does he look like? I want to be able to picture something in my head of where they are!

I loved your interactions between the two characters. That flowed very well, and the overall tone and 'beat' of the piece was set very well. It's a nice improvement, though I do wish you introduced us more to the characters a bit more. Maybe tell what they're wearing. A person's fashion sense tells others a lot about them. Anyway, I wish you the best of luck! (Hope I helped, and sorry if I sounded a bit harsh.) Keep Writing,
~Wolfare




AstralHunter says...


As with Wolfie, I thank you for your input, Wolfare. Because this was - is - an extract from a chapter of a novel, the details you "crave" ( ;) ) I would have had plenty of time to add. Had I written it as a short story, I would naturally have added them, but I suppose I simply did not realise that when I had submited this. I shall add them as soon as possible, though.



Wolfare1 says...


Well, even in chapter, details are very important. Once again, the little things really help make your characters real. For example:
In the first chapter of my novel, two characters were arguing about something silly, so I didn't bother to or with it was(and I had no idea what). Though, we I was requested to add what they were arguing about, others started to 'get to know them more'. Sorry, I am a novelist ;) I care about these little things.



AstralHunter says...


Never fear, I am as well. ;)



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Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:08 pm
Wolfical wrote a review...



Wolfie has arrived, as requested!

The responsibilities that had come with the title he had inherited from his father, he had accepted without complaint, but there was one kind in particular which he despised most – those of a political nature.

He had accepted the responsibilities that came along with the title his father had passed on to him without complaint, but the thing he despised most, was the politics.

In my opinion, your first attempt (the second listed) was written better. All you needed was to get rid of that last comma. Your newest version is written with better vocabulary and all, but it's one big sentence with confusing comma placement.
Charlotte just laughed.

By this point, I had forgotten that Edrich's mother's name was Charlotte. Maybe you can add another "Charlotte said" earlier.

And that, my friend, were the only issues I could find! I do have some more advice for you, however...
To make this introductory chapter all the more splendid, take your time and lengthen it. It could use a lot more descriptions- the characters, the setting, the mood. You might also want to build upon the conflict. I don't know if the prompt allows you to change the storyline, but as this is, for now, a stand-alone story it needs a well-developed conflict; especially since this is a contest. The competition is tough. You want the judges to feel as if they want to read more. Edrich appears to be leaving on a dangerous mission, yes, but it was only spoken of. I could barely grasp the multitude of the danger, let alone feel concerned for his safety.
If this is the prologue to a book, you wrote it well, but like I said before: this is a contest. This will be all the judges will read, so follow my advice and round it off as a suitable single story as best as you can.
I liked Charlotte and Edrich's mother-son relationship. It shows the reader that Edrich is a very sweet man/boy, giving us all the more reasons to like him.
Congrats on another entertaining work! May the odds be ever in your favor.




AstralHunter says...


Thank you for your advice, Wolfie, but I am afraid the conflict only comes later in that chapter; Edrich is simply complaining about work and how he hates politics. ;)




"The rules of capitalization are so unfair to the words in the middle of a sentence."
— John Green, Paper Towns