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Reign of the Crimson Plague ~ Chapter 1

by FlamingPhoenix


The canopy above was dense with greenery, the thick carpet shielding the small village below from hungry on-lookers that would prowl the skies above. Soft morning rays still found a way to slice through, dappling the ground below in a radiant orange. Creating a sense of calm if you were naive enough to ignore the dangers that lurked beyond.

A gentle whisper of wind brushed over the village, upturning fallen leaves into its chilled grasp. Reaching out, I caught one as it passed, its frail form pulling against my paw fighting to be let free. Something I too was familiar with. But, not all were so lucky to return to the dance that was freedom.

Cradling the fragile leaf to my chest I looked out over the glade, the hustle and bustle of village life below could easily be heard from the boughs of the trees above, for which I roamed. Life here moved with the seasons, never was there nothing to do.

Looking towards the north, where the snow-coated mountains loomed, I could imagine large waves like the ocean carrying the cold season heading towards us. It wasn't often. But, on a few occasions, the frost would come early. Covering the ground in a thin layer of ice. It never lasted long as the sun would often eradicate of it's existence.

Humming, I looked down at the faded orange leaf clutched in my paws. Still pulling against my gentle grasp, I released my hold. Watching, as it slowly drifted away into the distant woods.

Getting to my feet, I slowly walked along the branch I was perched on, observing the to and fro of Village life below. Curling my tail around the nimble bough, I watched as young pups like myself ran between the crowd, older rats calling after them.

Resting my head onto my folded arms, sinking into the soft fur, I watched life pass me by below, content knowing they had no idea I was there. The warm sun added to the decision to stay. I could afford to stay for a few moments longer, being down there meant I had to mingle. I grimaced.

“Ah, here you are!” Came a cheery voice.

“Ahhh bushel-berry....” I grabbed my ears pulling them over my eyes, wishing the voice away.

Why was it that I could never find a place for some kind of peace? Not even in my hollow I could be left alone. Grumble, I rested my chin on my paw. This was the last place I thought she would look. Not many even dared climb this high.

“I have been looking all over for you.”

I could feel the branch below me bend slightly from the extra weight applied to it. The rustling of leaves joined the wind's gentle melody as it passed over. The trees creaking in an attempt to join.

“My, this is a rather quaint spot you have here.” She laughed, running a paw over my head, playing with the fur between her claws. “No wonder you don't want to be with the others.” She paused, “But you know, sitting up here isn't going to make you any friends.”

Sitting up I shook my head. “I have friends....” I hesitated whiskers twitching. “Well....kind of.”

“To become a good leader you must have relationships with those who live among you. I know sometimes it's hard.” Taking one of my paws into hers, she smiled giving it a light squeeze. “Maybe talk with those you do like? How about Oliver? Hmm? You two get along.”

I frowned, it could be an option. But Oliver would be too busy poking the river frogs. After knowing him for such a long time I was aware how that would end. I wasn't in the mood to have dried mud plucked from my fur, not even the best of washes could do the job.

Frowning, she waited a moment, before smiling. “Maybe you could meet some of his other friends? That would be fun.” Sitting behind me, she began to comb through my hair. “I'm sure Oliver would love that.”

I could feel her whiskers brush my fur as she spoke, something that felt distance, but familiar. “All they like to do is throw things at one another....” I mumbled.

“Well what about Sir Griffen?” She eventually asked, ears curled back in question.

“He smells like old fungi.” Nose twitching, I shook my head. “I rather stay here.”

Letting out a long sigh, I was sure the whole glade could hear her disappointment. “Well, you can't spend your entire life in this tree, as nice as it is.”

Sitting up I turned to face her. “But-”

“No buts, now go mingle.” She interjected, giving me a gentle push along the branch, but the warning in her eyes didn't go unmissed.

Grumbling, I looked back, but as I expected I was only met with a short wave from her edging me to keep going. Of course, she wouldn't understand. They never did. It was always duty first.

Climbing down the tree, a cold chill ran down my spine the moment I touched the grass below. The sounds of other rats weren't as far off as it was in the safety of the tree. Scowling up at my mother, her eyes following me, I did everything in my might not to run in the opposite direction.

“Collect some nuts too while you're down there.” She called, before running along the branch, her chestnut fur swallowed up by the leaves.

Nose twitching, I kicked a pebble out of my path heading toward the chaos that lurked beyond. It was hard to make out what was happening once you entered the crowds. Young pups of only a few weeks often made nuisances of themselves running around the adults, though they paid the young very little attention as there were more important things to be taken care of.

Keeping my head down, not wanting to draw any eyes towards me, I crept through the bustle. It was times such as this I wished I didn't have such a dark coat, it was much easier to spot among the soft browns. Even the blues of my tunic did little to mute out the black. But at least I was small, something that worked in my favor.

Making quick work getting through the crowds, it wasn't long before I reached the edge of the ground village. The forest before me stretched out further than the eye could see. But if you paid close attention you could make out the faded walls of the glade.

Lifting a paw, I squinted my eyes. I always enjoyed comparing the size of my paw to distant landscapes, making me feel bigger if not for a moment. Shaking my head after a while I entered the forest, the smell of chestnuts on the wind.

Roaming along the forest floor, it wasn't long before I found a few fallen nuts each one safely tucked away into a bag I carried around with me. It was often filled with trinkets I would find. Some had no names or use. They were only shiny and were as hard as stone. Weren't edible or useful for any kind of labor work.

Other than Old Creaky. He always seemed to find some kind of use for these things. I often pondered if I should take them to him, he always seemed to require more. I found it rather odd, but the others often said to leave the old rat to his business.

...

Not wanting to be out longer than I had to, I collected as many nuts as I could. Arms full, I walked over to the bag, dumping the food inside before slinging it over my shoulder. I had been lucky to not run into anyone while gathering, the tree I had chosen far enough away from others.

Holding the sling of the bag, I grimaced noticing a gathering group coming back from the river, dragging some reeds and shells of water with them. I watched as they passed, laughing as they did, a few males in the group poking fun at one another.

Heading after them, I followed a few tail lengths behind until we got to one of the larger trees towards the center of the village, wasn't as large as the evergreen that stood to the center, but was big enough for storage.

Slipping past the large group, I entered the hole towards the base of the tree. The inside hollowed out a wooden staircase winded up the base of the tree until you reached the halfway point. Everything from here stretched out like a web, each branch used for its purpose.

“Here's a bag of chestnuts,” I grumbled, walking past an older rat.

“Ah, Young prince, how nice of you to stop by.” He greeted, jotting a few things down with coal on the bark leaflet he held before placing it to the side. “How many did you manage to find?” he asked, gray eyes looking me over then to the bag as he walked over.

I shrugged before dumping the contents onto the floor watching as they rolled away. “I don't know. Didn't count.”

“Mmmm.” The older rat, picked up one of the nuts, looking it over, nose twitching. “This season has been a fruitful one, wouldn't you agree?” He glanced in my direction.

“I guess so?” I picked one of the nuts up, before having it snatched from my paws by Asher who sent me a disproving look.

“I will be sure to let the Queen know you were here, young prince. She will be pleased with your find I'm sure.” Picking up his chart again, he wrote a few things down before waving a paw at me. “Now as wonderful your presence is, I must work. Off you go, young one. Go play with your friends....” He paused, humming for a moment. “Whatever they may be doing.”

Not wanting to hang around any more then I already did, I didn't hesitate to leave the room. Wouldn't have been long before Asher would drag me into counting stock for winter.

Walking down the halls, securing the bag over my shoulder, a few others passing by gave me a quick nod before continuing on their way. Ears curling back, fur bristling, I avoided eye contact. This kind of attention was how it had always been since my birth, of course I had never grown used to it. Would I ever? Was the question.

Pushing past the vine netting, I stood there for a moment soaking in the sunlight. Having had no interest in going to gather again I figured heading to the tree tops was better, wouldn't find as many rats here.

Walking along the wooden bridges that linked home-tree to those around it like a large web I headed towards the armory. Perhaps I could do something of use there? They always had interesting stories to tell while working.

I smiled, maybe I would finally be granted a weapon of my own. Humming, I pondered what it would end up being made of. A thorn from a rose bush, or perhaps one of the harder barks found deeper into the woods....outside of the glade...

Pausing for a moment, my eyes catching a glimpse of the dark green carpet that loomed beyond our walls, I wondered what it would be like to leave, perhaps for a moment. Was it as others claim it to be?

“No. No. I can't.” I shook my head, pulling at my ears. I knew what kind of stories had gone around. “It would be a mistake.” Giving the glade walls one last glance, I continued on my way.


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Stickied -- Sat Feb 03, 2024 3:54 pm
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RavenAkuma wrote a review...



Hello, my friend!

I am already intrigued by this! I've read stories about cats, bears, dogs/wolves, horses, owls, and even dragons. I can't say I've found a story featuring rats yet, but I am a sucker for rodents, and I love the idea already!

Before getting into any characters, though, I have to say what stood out most: your descriptions. They are BEAUTIFUL! The attention to detail not only gives us a vivid picture, but introduces a fascinating world, as an opening chapter should do. For example, lines like this really stood out to me:

"Looking towards the north, where the snow-coated mountains loomed, I could imagine large waves like the ocean carrying the cold season heading towards us."

It almost feels like poetry, and really pulls the reader into the scene, pushing them to keep going. Again, perfect for an opening chapter and getting people into the story.

As far as recommendations, I couldn't make any for the story itself. Everything felt nice and very casual, like we're starting on just a typical day for these characters. Structure-wise, however, there was one thing I noticed, when the mother rat finds the prince:

"Grumble, I rested my chin on my paw."

This sentence feels a little funny, like maybe you meant to say "*grumbling*, I rested my chin on my paw." Of course, I could just be reading this wrong, and I'm not a pro anyway, so please take any advice from me with a grain of salt.

Moving on, we got a nice introduction to the existing characters, especially the protagonist. This prince rat seems like he has an adventurous spirit, wondering about the woods and going beyond the walls, but also a little bit of a snob in the way he thinks about others. Saying Sir Griffin smells like old fungi, refusing to play around with Oliver, having a consistently disgruntled tone, and being reluctant to socialize overall. Naturally, these characters are usually the type to undergo a lot of development, which makes me excited. I can't wait to see what you have in store for this little prince!

Overall, excellent opening chapter! :)




FlamingPhoenix says...


Hey! Thank you so much for the review! I did indeed see that spelling mistake yesterday when I was editing some things and forgot to go on here to fix it. XD that wasn't you but me. Thank you so much for your kind words and opinions! You have got Alister down very well! He is a bit of a snob and doesn't like being around others, looking forward myself to see how he will grow throughout the book and what will happen! Again thank you so much for the review!



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Stickied -- Thu Feb 01, 2024 11:03 pm
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Youbeaucupid wrote a review...



Hey Phoenix! Cupid here, Though I'd fly over a review for you! let's fly into your enchanting tale using our trusty YWS S'more Method!

🔶 Top Graham Cracker: First Impressions!

Your introduction to this hidden village beneath the dense canopy is like unwrapping a magical gift. The descriptions of the thick carpet of greenery shielding the small village and the soft morning rays slicing through, dappling the ground in radiant orange, set the stage beautifully. And that touch of danger lurking beyond? It adds such a captivating layer of mystery. I'm hooked, my friend, eagerly awaiting more!

🔥 Slightly Burned Marshmallow: Room for Improvements!

While your world-building is a delightful tapestry, let's consider amplifying the sensory experience for the readers perhaps? Imagine the lush scent of the forest wafting through the air, the rustling leaves producing a soothing melody, and the feeling of a gentle breeze against the protagonist's fur. By delving into these sensory details, you'll transport your readers into a fully immersive experience, where they can practically feel the magic of the glade! :D

Additionally, I feel like you could further paint the canvas of your world by exploring the variety of flora and fauna present. Describe the vibrant colors of the flowers, the unique textures of the bark on the trees, and the playful chatter of the creatures inhabiting this enchanted realm. These intricate details will not only add visual richness but also create a more vivid and memorable setting.

(Remember, these are just suggestions, and the beauty of poetry often lies in personal expression. Feel free to embrace or disregard them based on your artistic vision!!)

🍫 Melty Hershey's Chocolate: Highlights of the Piece!

Your portrayal of the changing seasons is a stroke of brilliance. "I could imagine large waves like the ocean carrying the cold season heading towards us." This line is a canvas painted with anticipation, where nature becomes a storyteller. The comparison to ocean waves brings a grandeur to the transition, and the mention of the frost covering the ground evokes a delicate, transient beauty. It's not just weather—it's a living, breathing entity, and you've given it a voice.

And then, there's the introspective humming moment. "Humming, I looked down at the faded orange leaf clutched in my paws." It's a quiet, personal scene that resonates deeply. The humming adds a layer of comfort, as if the character is finding solace in their own melody amidst the village's symphony. The act of releasing the leaf, watching it drift away into the woods, is a gentle release—an acknowledgment of impermanence, a subtle yet profound metaphor for letting go. Keep weaving these intimate threads, and I have no doubt your readers will be enchanted by the heart and depth you bring to your storytelling.

🔥 Perfectly Toasted Marshmallow: Favorite lines!

"I could imagine large waves like the ocean carrying the cold season heading towards us. It wasn't often. But, on a few occasions, the frost would come early. Covering the ground in a thin layer of ice. It never lasted long as the sun would often eradicate its existence."


Ooo! This line is so poetic! ( •̀ ω •́ )✧ The imagery of ocean-like waves heralding the cold season is not just a visual treat but a sensory delight. I can almost feel the chill in the air and see the fleeting beauty of the frost-covered ground. It's a masterful stroke that evokes both the magic and impermanence of the changing seasons. Well done!

"Not wanting to be out longer than I had to, I collected as many nuts as I could. Arms full, I walked over to the bag, dumping the food inside before slinging it over my shoulder. I had been lucky to not run into anyone while gathering, the tree I had chosen far enough away from others."


Here, Your narrative shifts seamlessly between the practicality of gathering nuts and the character's desire for solitude. The detailed description of the character's actions, from collecting nuts to choosing a secluded tree, adds a layer of realism to the fantastical setting. It's a moment that grounds the reader in the character's world and underscores their need for quiet moments amidst the bustling village life.

Your skillful use of language and imagery weaves a tapestry of emotions and experiences. These lines stood out like jewels, each contributing to the overall richness of your narrative. I'm eager to uncover more gems as your enchanting story unfolds! :D

🔶 Bottom Graham Cracker: Closing Thoughts!

Your first chapter is a delightful journey into a world brimming with magic and mystery. The internal struggle, the glimpse into village life, and the tantalizing hints of the larger world beyond the glade are utterly captivating. As you continue this enchanting tale, consider exploring the emotional landscapes of your characters even more. I'm eagerly anticipating the next chapter of this magical adventure!

Fly high writer, Cupid! 💘




FlamingPhoenix says...


Hi Cupid! Thank you so much for the review! Has given me a lot of ideas for what needs to be added into this chapter and what I should remember to add into others. XD can't believe I forgot to add in smell touch and all the other senses other then sight. I will take what you have said into consideration! Thank you again for taking time to read my chapter! I'm so glad you enjoyed it and it was over all a fun read! I would love to hear your opinions on the next chapters when they are posted! %uD83D%uDE0A This was over all a really refreshing review! Thank you! %uD83D%uDE0A



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Fri Feb 02, 2024 4:39 am
SimonBolivia says...



The characters were clearly described, and they were introduced well into the story. I enjoyed the descriptive language you used, and I thought it made the story easier to follow. I like that is scenic, but the plot is difficult to follow. I struggle to understand the intentions of the main character, and why they choose to climb a mountain.

I would enjoy it if you can tell us more about the main character. Does she have any special relationship with nature, or is it for us to figure out? I think that there could be some improvements, but overall this was a good work.




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Points: 85
Reviews: 5

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Fri Feb 02, 2024 4:39 am
SimonBolivia wrote a review...



The characters were clearly described, and they were introduced well into the story. I enjoyed the descriptive language you used, and I thought it made the story easier to follow. I like that is scenic, but the plot is difficult to follow. I struggle to understand the intentions of the main character, and why they choose to climb a mountain.

I would enjoy it if you can tell us more about the main character. Does she have any special relationship with nature, or is it for us to figure out? I think that there could be some improvements, but overall this was a good work.





I am deeply disturbed by your ability to meow.
— Carina