Young Writers Society


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Kagiso - Chapter 5

by AyumiGosu17


Eleia's leg kept her from walking for several days. She could not stand to bend it, much less put weight on it. So she was bound to the wooden shelter that she had been placed in. On the second day, she was able to determine that it was a box of some sort, and it crossed the ground with the round pieces of wood underneath it. An ox with brown and white fur was pulling them through the jungle.

She felt strong enough to sit up on the third day. She peered out of her shelter, watching the strange, pale Men do their work. They held large, flat blades in their hands and cut away the underbrush. Their work left a trail wide enough for an elephant or dragon to walk without breaking branches. There was only one other woman, and she sat in the front of this wagon that Eleia was resting in. Every time Eleia would see the Man with the Golden Beast or one of the warriors, she would retreat from view.

The only one she wouldn't retreat from was the wild man. Gael. She had managed to catch his name by listening to others as they spoke with him. She wondered if it was his real name or just one he had adopted from these other people. As the hours turned to days, she learned to trust him for survival at least. He brought her food and water, and he kept the warriors away from her, especially the one with the Golden Beast and the one that had attacked them first.

It was on the fourth day that she finally reached out to him. The caravan was stopped in daytime, letting the trackers and hunters rest for a while. The land had steadily become more and more resistant to them, with harder trees, more rocks, and higher slopes. Gael was sitting with his back against the wheel of Chrestien’s wagon, breathing a little heavy with what she knew to be exhaustion. She watched him, seeing his amber eyes were framed by dark circles and the gold of his eye seemed dim and dull. His jaw was set a little lower and more stiff, accentuating the natural planes and angles of his cheeks and jaw which was typical for those of his race. His hands gave away the most detail: his fingers were loose and covered with blisters, dry skin, and shredded and dirty leather bands that he had tried to use to protect his hands. Eleia watched him, concerned about him for the first time.

She picked up a bottle filled with water, one of many that had been refilled and set in the wagon with her. She carefully reached down and touched his shoulder. His shoulder felt as thick and firm as Mazat's. She remembered touching Mazat intimately and blushed at the reminder. She also blushed about the curiosity this man had piqued in her. When he looked up at her, she averted her gaze and just held the bottle out to him.

She glanced at him when he took it. A thin smile played across his lips, and he muttered something. Thankayoo. He popped the cork out of the top and drank gladly, taking several gulps. A thin rivulet escaped his lips, and he wiped it away quickly with the back of his hand. After a moment, he looked up at her again and smiled, more genuinely this time. He touched himself in the middle of his chest. Gael. He then pointed at her, and waited.

She swallowed and couldn't help but to smile a little. So she had been right. Gael was his name. She mimicked him, touching her own breastbone. "Eleia."

Uh-lay-uh? he tried.

She giggled. She repeated it slower for him. He matched her sounds, breaking it down with her guidance, Eh-lee-ya. She nodded, smiling when he said it correctly. She repeated his name as well, earning his approval.

Gael chuckled softly. He touched the bottle, "Water."

"Water?"

He nodded. He handed it back to her. "Take."

"Take?" She took the bottle from his hands and held it again. He nodded. He patiently gestured for her to give him the bottle again. She frowned and handed it back to him, confused for a moment. Then he said the word again, and she understood. "Oh! Take!" She took the bottle again. "Take."

He laughed softly and nodded. Guut.

And so she began to learn his language.

Gael taught her a few words at a time over the next few days, but communication was still difficult. They spent time exchanging words every time the caravan stopped, much to Eduoard's dislike but Gauvain's pleasure. The young scholar in Pierre's company took an interest in Eleia and her knowledge. He watched them as they interacted, listening to Gael as he tried to talk to her, and she learned easily.

Eleia tried to walk a week after the fight. Her leg ached and she couldn't bend her knee comfortably. She managed to climb down from the wagon when the caravan stopped again. She limped a little, joining Fleurette as the girl started working on a fire. The girl gasped and smiled. "Hello! Are you well?"

Eleia understood a little. She smiled and nodded. "Y-Yes. Help?" She gestured at the pile of sticks.

Fleurette smiled and nodded. "Yes, please, if you dontimand."

Eleia only understood part of it, but she recognized the welcome. She sat down and helped the beautiful blonde set up the fire for the evening. It was burning well by the time Gael, Chrestien, and Felic joined them. The boy was holding a pad of linen against his hand. It was red on the corners.

Thissiz wy'oos wingawe framayoosef. Ebreytam. Andrien barked at the boy.

Felic hunched down at the tone. Iwa zint terantu.

Gael gripped his shoulder. "Idappenz. Come. Ledflyoorat see tuit."

Gael noticed Eleia at last. His eyes flickered, and she thought she saw surprise and welcome there. She managed to smile for him, though it was thin and timid. He smiled back.

Fleurette gasped and stood. She called to the young hunter and spoke to him with soft tones. She took hold of his hand and peeled the bloody cloth back. She winced, curling her nose at the wound. Eleia could see that his palm had been sliced across the fatty part, almost following the crease of his thumb. She bit her lip and walked away from them while Fleurette cleaned his hand with water and a cloth. Eleia walked along the edge of the brush and finally spotted a cluster of small, thin-leafed plants with tiny white flowers. She picked a handful up by the roots and brought them back to camp. She sat down next to the fire and began to strip the bark off the flowers, as well as pluck the petals. She picked up a piece of hard wood and began to grind it up, soon having a powder.

She looked up at the group. Fleurette was holding a clean cloth against the wound. Eleia waved at Gael, getting his attention. She held up the little bowl with the powdered herb. "Here. Help. Good help."

Gael heard her. He smiled a little. "Good. Thank you." He took the bowl and brought it over to Fleurette and Felic. He spoke to them, and Fleurette immediately began to sprinkle the powder onto the wound. The boy winced, but the powder did its work. The blood slowed.

Gael walked over to Eleia and sat down beside her, next to the fire that they had been building. He set his elbows on his knees. There was a smile on his face. "Good help."

Eleia smiled slightly. "Help good."

He touched his leg near his knee, about the same place where she had been struck. "Is your leg better?"

She thought for a moment and finally answered. "No. Hurt. Not good to walk."

He nodded. "It will take time." He glanced up when a third person joined them. It was Gauvain. Gael watched him. The young man was watching Eleia, and smiled. "You're up! Excellent. I was wondering how quickly you'd recover from that bolt. I imagine it hurts--"

"Slow down, and use simpler terms. She can't understand you like that."

"Oh. I see. F-Forgive me." He cleared his throat. "But… she does understand Gwaelan?"

"A little. She's brilliant, learning new words every day."

"She'd be a benefit to our company. She's knowledgeable. Perhaps she would exchange that knowledge with us. As repayment to you for saving her."

Gael frowned. "Fair observation, but it's flawed. She's from a tribe. The tribes here are not nomadic. She would have no more experience navigating these mountains than we do."

"Perhaps, but the context applies anywhere. Fleurette told me how she found that herb to help care for Felic's wound. Knowledge like that is invaluable."

"She's not safe here, either. You really think that amaad will let her stay here in peace? I'm sure she's also got a family. If not a child, then at least parents and a suitor. She deserves to go home, as soon as she can…"

"That's another thing to consider. You're noble in caring for her, but the longer she stays in our company, the farther she is from home. Would it be safe for her to return home, wounded as she was, completely alone?"

Gael sighed. He said nothing.

Gauvain studied the darker man across from him. “We should talk to the ambassadors--”

“You’re out of your mind. Do you want to see her killed?”

“Do we really have a choice? Besides, if we get Pierre and Laurent’s blessing on it, Eduoard can’t do anything about it.”

“You trust that snake to abide by their wishes?”

Gauvain hesitated. He swallowed. “It-It would be dishonorable not to.”

“Not for him. Not when it comes to her. He already tried to murder her once.”

The scholar sobered a little. He frowned a little. “You… know something. Don’t you?”

Gael nodded. “More than you think.” He glanced at Eleia and sighed. “But your point is valid. I can’t argue with it. No one can. I’ll talk to them… but let me talk to her first.”

Gauvain nodded. “Do you think she would talk to me? I… am really curious about her knowledge of the land. Her language, her culture. I’ve… never seen someone like her before.”

Gael smirked, snorting to himself. He almost said Yes you have. Instead, he said, “You can try.”

The scholar tried to talk to her, but his questions proved to be too much for her understanding. She was frustrated and finally headed back toward the wagon to get away from him. Gael resisted the urge to smile, seeing that he had predicted it right. She disappeared into the safety of the wagon and settled down out of sight, but he knew she wasn’t tired. He reached out to her through the stillness, focusing his thoughts on her and feeling the flicker of her aura against his. But instead of shutting it out, she caved and accepted it. He felt the frustration and defeat, the confusion, and the loneliness. He exhaled and thought of comfort for her. Images of a gentle embrace passed through his thoughts to her.

You called him an ugly name. You speak my language, but not out loud. So I was right about you - you are like me.

He blinked at the message he felt from her. He looked at the wagon, seeing her staring at him. Her eyes shimmered a little, and her brow was set in a frown. He swallowed. I do. My mother was Tribe, from the savannah. North of the mountains. No one here knows.

Were you captured? The emotions he felt with the question were gentler, as if some of her anger was dissipating.

No. I was orphaned. My father brought my mother to the city in Pagetonya, and they were killed for their purse. I was five. A city guard took me in and gave me food and clothes, but I wouldn’t say he was a father to me. He was cold. I think he saw me more as a slave than a boy.

He felt something he never enjoyed: sympathy. I’m sorry. So… why do you hide who you are?

I don’t think I have to tell you that. You already know. The captain - our chief here - already tried to kill you once. Familiar or not, he would do the same with me if he knew.

If you’re not happy, then why are you here? Why stay where you aren’t wanted?

He thought for a moment. I don’t know. I guess I feel like I have a purpose here.

But are you happy?

Again, he hesitated, and thought. After a few seconds, he answered, I’m starting to.


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590 Reviews


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Sat Mar 26, 2022 12:53 am
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!! I noticed your work has been in the green room for quite a while, so I figured I'd go and give it a review!

I think once upon a time I read some of the earlier chapters of this, but it's been a loooong time. Forgive me if I forget anything!

If I remember correctly, we had two chapter POVs, one from Gael and one from Eleia. It's nice to see those two pathways finally converge! It seems like they get along, for the most part. I'm curious to see how that relationship will evolve as the story goes on. My guess is that Eleia won't be returned to her family, or perhaps will but only for a short while. I do look forward to reading more about her and Gael's interactions, though!

One thing I enjoyed was the way you showed the language barrier. I had never seen it done like that before, but I think it did a really nice job of showing how Eleia hears the language. It reminded me of learning a language by ear and then being totally surprised when you see how words are written. It was a super neat touch, and one that also make the POV switch in the middle more clear. Also regarding language, that last little bit where Eleia talks to Gael in his head (if I'm not mistaken) really threw me for a loop! I didn't remember if you'd addressed the more magical part in earlier chapters, but I'd forgotten all about it. I think it's a really interesting connection between them, though, and, as I mentioned before, I look forward to seeing how that will play into shaping their relationship.

Specifics

She watched him, seeing his amber eyes were framed by dark circles and the gold of his eye seemed dim and dull.


I thought that this sentence was a little redundant. It could be shortened to "his amber eyes seemed dim and were framed by dark circles," since you mention the color of his eyes twice.

Thissiz wy'oos wingawe framayoosef. Ebreytam. Andrien barked at the boy.

Felic hunched down at the tone. Iwa zint terantu.

Gael gripped his shoulder. "Idappenz. Come. Ledflyoorat see tuit."


I think it would make sense to make the quotation marks more consistent in this part. I'd put them around all the dialogue, not just that last phrase.

Overall: nice work!! I enjoyed the continuation and I hope to read more of the story soon! Until next time!!




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Wed Jan 05, 2022 9:56 am
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi there! Lim jumping in here to leave a review. I’ve not read previous chapters (though after reading this one, I’m pretty excited to do so!) but I’ll do my best to comment based on what I’ve seen here.

First Impressions

Eleia had my sympathy almost immediately as a character. She seems very sweet, but also canny, in that she knows who to approach and avoid, and she has medicinal knowledge. It looks like she feels a bit captive here? It doesn’t look like she has total control over whether she stays or leaves, at least, what with her “being placed” in a shelter.

The prose was really well-written as a whole. There’s a lot of fine beautiful description, such as the “small, thin-leafed plants with tiny white flowers”, but also the visceral description of the injury was effective, I think.

The way the characters’ language barriers are represented was interesting. I don’t think I’ve seen it being done this way before in a fantasy novel, where some words appear as intelligible English while others are garbled. I think it gets the idea across without having to use a con lang and then translate it into English for the readers.

I’m not too sure how to feel about Gael. He seems likeable enough, but it’s a bit hard for me to judge his personality at this point. Some of the other characters seem to have certain archetypes at play, like Gauvain is the enthusiastic but socially insensitive scholar, Fleurette is an inexperienced kind-of medic, but apparently not as knowledgeable as Eleia, and Eduoard is the villain. I’m not sure if there’s more depth to them than that, and there very well might be, but that’s just how they come across from this one chapter to me.

Style

Overall, I thought there was a good balance of showing and telling. A lot of what could be shown was shown. For instance:

She peered out of her shelter, watching the strange, pale Men do their work. They held large, flat blades in their hands and cut away the underbrush. Their work left a trail wide enough for an elephant or dragon to walk without breaking branches.[.quote]
I like the subtle worldbuilding here. Having Eleia do an action like “peering” out to look at the others makes it dynamic and conjures up an image. Knowing that she finds them to be “strange, pale Men” also hints at this being a universe with potentially different fantasy races. Then of course her thinking about elephants and dragons so casually situates the setting of this story in a fantasy world. The detail about the “large, flat blades” was also neat, because it kind of shows their level of technology.

I also appreciate how almost all of the description is literal and not figurative. The sensory images are really evocative even without using any comparisons, and I think that makes the world seem more concrete and ‘real’. For example, I was drawn in by how Eleia observes Gael, all the details she inspects like the ‘amber’ and ‘gold’ in his eyes (another worldbuilding bit!) and the “shredded and dirty leather bands”.

I was a bit confused by the change in point of view from Eleia to Gael. Was there supposed to be a separator somewhere there? As far as I can tell, the switch happens here:
He nodded. "It will take time." He glanced up when a third person joined them. It was Gauvain. Gael watched him. The young man was watching Eleia, and smiled. "You're up! Excellent. I was wondering how quickly you'd recover from that bolt. I imagine it hurts--"

But at first, for a second I thought Eleia had suddenly become able to understand their language. I only realised it was a POV switch after a few paragraphs.

The last exchange between Eleia and Gael was interesting, and I think it might benefit from a little more gestural or physical descriptions. It seemed to me like it went by very quickly compared to the rest of the chapter. A bit more descriptions of what this ‘aura’ feels like, or maybe even the physical space Gael is in, even if he’s speaking to Eleia through some kind of telepathy, might help convey the mood of that part, I think, and also match the pace of the rest of the chapter.

Gael and Gauvain make interesting foils to each other when they talk about Eleia’s fate. Gael seems to think pretty poorly of Gauvain. He’s also portrayed as perhaps being more pragmatic or worldly than Gauvain, distrusting Eduoard where Gauvain still thinks he might hold onto concepts of honour. I’m curious to see who Gauvain has met whom he didn’t know was from the Tribe.

Overall

The writing here is really fleshed-out. The chapter creates some anticipation for what decisions the characters will make, particularly where Eleia will go and whether she’ll have a choice in that matter, and also what Gael will choose to do now that he’s starting to feel happy where he is. It also gets me curious to see what’s the bigger context behind what’s going on.

Hope some of this helps – keep writing!
-Lim





You are going to love some of your characters because they are you, or some facet of you, and you are going to hate some characters for the same reason.
— Anne Lamott