Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Short Story » Fantasy

E - Everyone

The Shadowreapers

by Danni88


A/N this is a prequel to The Evelyn Files. I was in stasis for ages but making progress! Feel free to be as harsh as you like.

Amani lives in the beautiful country of Sirila, famed for its enchanted jewellery. Their rulers appear kind and benevolent, but are hiding a dark secret...

"If you see a Shadowreaper, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction," Mother told me one night. I was about six years old, I think. Probably too young to realise the true danger of what she was saying.

"What's a Shadowthingy?" my twin brother Ahmed asked, looking up from his book. 

"Tall figures in hooded robes that raid villages," Mother replied. 

"Like... land pirates?" Ahmed was a bit obsessed with pirates at the moment. "Stealing treasure?" 

"Yes. But the treasure they steal is far more precious than gold or jewels, Ahmed. They take children." 

The words sent a chill up my spine. "Children?" 

"Yes, Amani, children. And if anyone tries to stop them...." my mother made a slicing motion across her throat with her finger. "The Shadowreapers aren't human. There was a girl a while back - Amber Li. She was about your age. She tried to run while her mother attacked the creature. Amber vanished in a puff of smoke and the mother was consumed by flames." 

"Cool!" Ahmed grinned. I didn't know how he could be so casual about it. 

"Why are they called Shadowreapers?" I asked.

Mother looked at me gravely. "Because they reap, Amani. They reap our most precious crops. Our children." 

I couldn't sleep that night. Every time I closed my eyes, I could imagine a hooded figure reaching out its hands to grab me. 

FIVE YEARS LATER 

"Amani, c'mon!" Jenna grinned and tugged at my hand. 

"Coming!" I grinned back and raced after her. 

"Bye, Jen!" Jenna's older sister Phyllis called. "See you later!" 

"See you, Phyl!" Jenna called back. 

But Jenna would not be seeing Phyllis later. In fact, it would be two long years before the sisters met again. 

But we didn't know that at the time. We ran into the woods, happy as Larry. 

It was the first day of the summer holidays, and to celebrate Jenna and I had arranged to have a picnic in the woods, then go swimming in the lake. It sounded like super fun. 

We reached a nice clearing and unpacked the sandwiches. Jenna sat down on the grass and grinned. "This is the life, eh, 'Mani? No school for three whole weeks!" 

I laughed. "Free!" I spun around in a circle and fell over. 

At that moment, there was a hiss from the trees. The air seemed to grow colder. 

I stiffened. "What was that?"

Jenna looked around nervously. "I don't know." 

There was a rustle, and a figure stepped out from behind a tree. 

I screamed. 

It was one of the creatures Mother described years ago - only it was far more horrible. Its hands were black and scaly, with long fingernails like claws. In the depths of its hood there was nothing. Not even a face. Just swirling darkness. 

It reached out its hideous hands and rattled, "You are coming with usssssssss." 

Jenna grabbed my hand. "Run, Amani, run!" 

We darted through the trees like we were possessed. Behind me I could hear the creature's awful rattle. My heart was pounding. If we could just make it to the edge of the woods. There was another village there. Maybe they could help us.

Jenna screamed as her foot caught on a tree root and she fell to the ground. I stopped in my tracks. I could see the houses now. If I let the creature take Jenna, it would give me enough of a head start to make it to the village. 

No. I couldn't do that. Jenna wouldn't have run. She was my best friend, and I couldn't abandon her. 

I turned and ran back to the monster, screaming "Leave her alone!" 

It hovered there for a moment, then snapped its awful fingers. 

And everything went black. 

TWO YEARS LATER

"Work faster!" The whip snapped across my back. I yelped in pain and frantically swung my pick at the wall. 

Two years ago I had woken up in a dark, dingy cell with a leering man standing over me. He informed me I had the honour of being a miner in the King's jewel mines. 

I'd always wondered where Sirila got all its jewels from. Now I know. I thought the King was kind, and I'd always liked him. 

Not any more. 

I wonder what my mother's thinking. Did the Shadowreapers take Ahmed, too? 

I met the girl she told me about. Amber Li. A lovely, sweet girl who just wanted to go home again. One day, she refused to work. They put her in isolation, and she didn't come back. I don't know if they killed her or not. 

Sometimes I see Jenna, at mealtimes. We get pea soup and stale bread. 

Jenna used to be bubbly and chatty, full of life and fun. I think they've broken her. She doesn't talk to anyone now.

"Alright!" the overseer yells. "That's it for today. Moss, Stevens, Al-Fazir, you can sort the jewels." 

As the other miners filed out, I, Jenna and a young boy named Carl stayed behind. We had to sort the jewels into piles, depending on type. It was long and tiring. My fingers bled from the sharp edges of the stones. 

Jenna worked in silence, not looking up. I tried to speak to her, but she didn't reply. 

Three hours later, we trudged back to our cells. 

I lay down on my scratchy blanket, closed my eyes and tried to hope for the best. It will be alright. It will be alright. It will be alright....

There was a gasp. I looked up. 

A girl was standing outside the door. She had long, ebony hair, ivory and violet eyes. Her face was chiselled and regal. She wore a purple cloak over a long, lacy nightgown. 

I recognised her immediately. 

The King's eldest daughter, Princess Evelyn. 


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
2631 Reviews


Points: 5735
Reviews: 2631

Donate
Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:44 pm
Rydia wrote a review...



Hi! I'm going to try to catch up on all my reviews this month so hopefully you'll be seeing a lot of me!

Specifics

1. Nice introduction! I think you distinguish the childrens' personalities well and there's a good build of emotion and foreboding so well handled.

2.

"Amani, c'mon!" Jenna grinned and tugged at my hand.

"Coming!" I grinned back and raced after her.

"Bye, Jen!" Jenna's older sister Phyllis called. "See you later!"

"See you, Phyl!" Jenna called back.


This part is a little clunky as there's a dialogue tag after every line and they're all very short lines. Try to vary the length of them a bit or expand one of the dialogue tags. That will make it less choppy.

3.
It was one of the creatures Mother described years ago - only it was far more horrible. Its hands were black and scaly, with long fingernails like claws. In the depths of its hood there was nothing. Not even a face. Just swirling darkness.
It seems a little odd that she realises this straight away - she's in her happy place and likely hasn't thought of the creatures since that day so it would make sense for there to be some confusion before the memory triggers.

4.
Two years ago I had woken up in a dark, dingy cell with a leering man standing over me. He informed me I had the honour of being a miner in the King's jewel mines.
This is a bit telling/ info-dumping. I think we can manage to join the dots between then and now without the need for the backstory just yet.

5.
I wonder what my mother's thinking. Did the Shadowreapers take Ahmed, too?
The tense change here is a little awkward and there was no mention of Ahmed in the part when the girls were taken so why does Amani think he might have been grabbed too?

6. There are some more tense switches so decide if you're writing in past or present and then try to stay with it. This seems to be mostly past but bleeds into present a little here and there. If you're giving her thoughts, maybe use italics so it's less jarring and then you can get away with a little present tense?

Overall

This is a bit rough and moves around too quickly but I like the characters and the world building. I think if you slow it down and add some more description it makes a nice short. It may even work as a prologue to the bigger novel you mentioned but even if not, these little back-fillers can be great fun to write and useful for getting used to your world and characters. Nice work - keep it up!

~Heather




Danni88 says...


Thank you!



User avatar
1155 Reviews


Points: 6492
Reviews: 1155

Donate
Fri Jun 22, 2018 9:04 pm
View Likes
Elinor wrote a review...



Hi Danni!

I'm Elinor, and I'm just dropping by to give your work a review. Because I haven't read the larger work that this is attached to, I'm just going to be looking at it in terms of how it stands on its own. I have to say, after reading this I'm definitely interested in what the rest of the story looks like.

Overall, this is a solid set-up and introduction into the world that you've created. Would this be a prologue or this a writing exercise for your own benefit? Either way, I enjoyed reading it.

What didn't quite work for me at this point was the way you jump between time. There's nothing inherently bad about it but if you want to improve your flow, I would cut out the two/five years later and simply make this one cohesive piece, mentioning the time jumps as they come up. I almost wonder if it would work better if you begin with your protagonist being captured and then she thinks back on her mother's warning years before. I'm just spitballing, of course. You have to do what's best for you.

Hope this was a little bit helpful! Best of luck.

Elinor




User avatar
278 Reviews


Points: 14600
Reviews: 278

Donate
Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:36 pm
mellifera wrote a review...



Hey Danni88! Hope you don't mind if a drop a review by you today :D

"Like... land pirates?"


LAND PIRATES I love it. But alas, on a critical note, there doesn't need to be a space between the ellipsis and 'land'.

And if anyone tries to stop them...." my mother made a slicing motion across her throat with her finger.


I'm concerned that these six-year-olds know what this gesture means, although it speaks volumes about how dangerous the setting is, so kudos for that! Also, you have four periods in the dialogue, an ellipsis is only three so the fourth one shouldn't be there.


-So you have a cool beginning, but it's almost purely dialogue. I don't know where they are at all, I don't know how they're responding to the situation besides what's shown in their dialogue. I would include more description to balance it out, and throw in some body language to show how the characters are reacting to this (without telling).


Jenna's older sister Phyllis called.


Jenna's older sister, Phyllis, called*

It was the first day of the summer holidays, and to celebrate Jenna and I had


The comma after holidays should instead be after celebrate (I'm...pretty sure. You might want to punch it in to an editor to be sure. I'm not really the person for grammar-y stuff).

It sounded like super fun.


'super fun' sounds really strange to me? 'It sounded like it would be a lot of fun' flows better, or something similar.

Jenna sat down on the grass and grinned.


They sure like to grin a lot.

"You are coming with usssssssss.


The repeated 's's somehow break the tension for me? I don't know why, but to me, it adds an almost comical accent that makes the tension from this being a Shadowreaper snap.

If I let the creature take Jenna, it would give me enough of a head start to make it to the village.


OOH she's got a little darkness in her. I like it.


-I feel like the scenes between the timeskips are too short? I already mentioned the imbalance between dialogue and description, but it hops all over the place in a relatively short amount of time. I would either make the scenes long enough to count, or work out how to clip one of them (maybe the first one, or keep it as a flashback instead of a timeskip).


I don't have too much to say since this was pretty short. I'll just remind you to keep in mind what I said about the balancing and stuff, but I think you can figure that out on your own! If you have any questions, please let me know! Otherwise, that's all I've got for you today! Keep up the good work :D

I hope you have a lovely day!




Danni88 says...


Thanks! You too!



User avatar
105 Reviews


Points: 4417
Reviews: 105

Donate
Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:30 am
Danni88 says...



@Rydia @UtterlyBonkers @CarolineGlitter @izanami @AlexTheGreat @AnimalQueen @KatieC @Ooo





This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.
— T.S. Eliot