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Reign of the Crimson Plague ~ Chapter 2

by FlamingPhoenix

Walking along the wooden platform the sounds of woodwork met my ears before I even reached the armory. You would often hear these kinds of sounds travel through the village, the workspace being the louder quadrant.

Climbing up to one of the higher platforms, I looked into the workshop, one of the armors on display catching my eye. Walking over, I ran a paw along the material. The stitching of leaves bumpy under my pads, before it moved along to the rougher plating.

Reaching up, I removed the headpiece running a claw along the shell, small shivers running down my spine. Putting it on, I grumbled as my vision went dark the helmet having to be pushed up to sit right. It was too big for me.

“And what do you think you're doing with that?” A voice asked behind me, paws meeting wood as they walked up to me, the rhythm slightly uneven.

Turning, I tipped the helmet again. “Just trying out the new design.”

Laughing, the older rat nodded, his whiskers twitching. “I see.”

Paws on my hips, standing tall, I puffed out my chest ears held high. “So? What do you think?”

“Hmmm, well I think it may be a bit big.” He sat back on his hind legs, paw tapping his chin.

“Ignore that uncle.” I waved a paw at him. “Take in the whole picture.”

Giving a small nod, ears curled back, he gave me a good look over, humming slightly to himself as if deep in thought, eyes roaming over me. “Well, Alister, it's hard to see the picture you're talking about.” He said after some time, making a box motion with his paws. “The armor, it's too big, and you're still too small. Ahhh, sorry young one but I just can't see it.”

Ears flopping back, I nodded, disappointment settling in, it wasn't like he was wrong thought. Pouting, I looked down, picking a loose strand in my tunic.

Reaching forward, he plucked the helmet from my head. “You still need time and training before you can get your own set.” Smiling he ruffled my ears. “But..” Placing the armor back he glanced at me. “I believe it shouldn't be long now.”

Swatting his paw away, I grumbled. “Father hasn't given you orders yet, has he?”

Pausing, my uncle shook his head. “I'm afraid not, Alister. You're still young, too young.”

Dark eyes looking back at me, we both glanced down at his leg. The fur had never grown in like it used to. Though the healers had said it was normal, but to never expect him to walk the same again.

Quickly averting my gaze I turned away, picking at the fur on my arm, flicking the strands that would come loose, watching as they fell to the floor many levels below. Would I ever be a great warrior? Someone that others would follow into battle? There were expectations to live up to...

I jumped when I felt larger paws wrap around my own, pulling me from my thoughts. Looking up, I saw Ryan standing before me, a somber look clouding his face, the gray fur only making him look older than he was, perhaps that was the scares doing?

“Walk with me, Alister.” He said softly, nodding his head towards a platform that looked out over the village.

Getting to my paws, I followed after him my gaze flicking to his right leg, you were more likely to notice the hobble when walking behind him. I had asked if it was painful but he always said it didn't bother him. I know he goes to the healers for herbs every few days though.

Sitting next to my uncle tail curling around my feet I looked over at him, scanning his expression, but he still had the same look as before. Ears falling back, nose twitching, I glanced towards the armory then back to Ryan.

“Alister.” Ryan started, breaking the silence, the sun reflecting off of his face. “Tell me what you see?” He asked, nodding towards the distance.

“Past the glade?” I asked, frowning. What was he getting at?

Ryan nodded.

“Well....” I trailed off, eyes scanning my surroundings. “I guess my home...”


“Safety, community...but...” I trailed off, eyes moving from the village below towards the outskirts, black silhouettes painted against the clear blue backdrop.

“There is also a hint of mystery.” Ryan finished, following my gaze. “A wonder, just out of reach.” He smiled, small wrinkles forming at the edge of his eyes.

Eyes wide, I looked up at him, astonished. “How?”

Ryan chuckled, glancing down at me. “You wouldn't be the first to have these curiosities.” Curling his tail around his paws, he looked towards the distant forest rich greens fading off into a sun-dappled horizon. “I too wanted to venture out when I was a young pup, wasn't much older than you are now.”

“Did you?” I asked moving forward a little, ears pricked eager to hear everything.

Ryan shook his head. “No, I came close though.”

“Why didn't you?” I cocked my head, confused, a slight frown covering my face.

Ryan shrugged, “Let's say my curiosity didn't outweigh the fear of not knowing what larked beyond.” He let out a small sigh, turning towards me. “I learned to enjoy my simple life, where it's safe and you can rely on those older than you.”

“Oh...” I huffed, scowling at the sky.

Taking my paws again in his own, my uncle gave them a soft squeeze, a gentle warmth seen in his eyes. “Try not to grow up too fast, Alister. You're still young, enjoy the life you have before it's too late.”

Staring back at Ryan, his words going around in my head, I gave a small nod.

“That's a good lad.” Ryan smiled before licking the top of my head. “And before you know it, you'll be joining me in the patrol group wearing your own set of armor.” He pointed to the armory. “Now come, I have a small errand for you to do for me. If you are up to it?”

I nodded, knowing how hard it was for him to get around in his state. Why he continued patrolling was something I always wondered about, but never asked feeling it wasn't my place to question his role in the pack.

Getting to his paws, Ryan led me to the workshop into one of the back rooms, shelves lining the wooden walls. Slowing my pace I took a moment to look over the items, stones, wood, and a few nut shells.

Pushing some vines aside, Ryan walked into one of the back rooms, his tail fading into the darkness after him, mumbling following shortly afterward. Edging closer, I could hear rustling from within the room but didn't go in, not sure if I was allowed, and from what I could make out where I stood it was mostly dark in there anyway.

“Aha! Here it is!” Came Ryan's voice before he walked out of the room, a woven basket clutched within his paws small silver items neatly stacked within. “I would like you to take these to Zerkar Griffen.”

Taking the basket from my Uncle I looked inside, all too familiar with these kinds of items. It wasn't often you would find them within the glade, but I would come across one or two by the river on a few occasions.

“Looks like you've been stocking up.” I mused, looking up at Ryan, before tapping one of the stone-like pieces with my claw.

“I wish.” Ryan sighed. “But these kinds of things are becoming more frequent as of late. Found these on our last patrol.”

“Oh...” I frowned wondering what could be causing these things to show up so often. “Do you think it could be that winter is coming?” I asked.

My uncle shrugged. “I wish I had all the answers, Alister. Your Father has sent word of it, but we've been yet to hear anything back.” He gave me a reassuring smile before bumping his nose with mine. “Now, can't keep Zerkar waiting, I told him yesterday I would have these items to him by midday.”

I sent Ryan a look after observing the sun's position. I didn't get the chance to say anything before Ryan continued, grabbing me by the shoulders and turning me in the direction of the lab.

“Now you best be off, I'm sure he will be pleased with your visit!” Ryan said giving me a light push, before heading back into the armory barking orders at a few other rats.

Grumbling, I rolled my eyes. I was sure Zerkar would be anything but pleased to see me. I was sure he rather the items be a day late and delivered by an adult, than on time and a pup showing up.

Huffing I made the long trek to the old rats tree, to a degree I didn't mind helping my uncle. Couldn't expect him to make the delivery himself without lots of herbs for the pain...

“Maybe I should get him some?” I pondered walking past the healers, wood creaking under my feet as the bridge rocked slightly. “Maybe on the way back,” I mumbled continuing on my way.

It wasn't long until I reached the old rat's tree, the air holding a cold chill to it. Looking around, I could make out one of two rats walking past the entrance to the lab but other than that it was barren, you would think it was abandoned.

I snorted. You would think it was with just Zerkar living in the tree, and even then he didn't show up for most occasions, but even then he wouldn't stay longer than he had to. Oliver often joked we should send rats to check if he was dead with long sticks so we wouldn't have to touch him.

Of course, they never dared. Zerkar's stories always leaving a lasting impression, he could be unpredictable sometimes. I shivered, looking down at the items within the basket.

I let out a long sigh I pushed past the vines that lined the labs entrance. “Might as well make this quick.”

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368 Reviews

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Reviews: 368

Stickied -- Wed Feb 14, 2024 6:55 pm
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RavenAkuma wrote a review...

Hello Again, My Friend!

It's me, Raven, and I'd like to review the next chapter in this great story using my Familiar method! Let's dive in, shall we? Heh heh heh...

What The Black Eyes See...

This was a great way to pick up where Alister left off, in his village. You more clearly see his longing for adventure, and now, a sense of anticipation as he sees the armor and thinks about being a warrior. Excitement or anxiety, I can't tell which, but maybe a bit of both. Then of course, his uncle's wisdom acted as a perfect way to draw reader interest and push the narrative a bit. Let's get into the details though.

Where The Dagger Points...

Content-wise, the chapter was brilliant! The perfect way to elaborate on Alister's character a bit following his introduction, and to set the beginning stages for his development. There were some things I wanted to remark on, though. Mostly toward the beginning:

The stitching of leaves bumpy under my pads, before it moved along to the rougher plating.

I feel like this sentence is missing some words. "The stitching of *the* leaves *were* bumpy under my pads," perhaps?

Ears flopping back, I nodded, disappointment settling in, it wasn't like he was wrong thought.

I felt like this sentence had a minor typo toward the end, and it was running on a bit. Perhaps you could simplify it by ending the sentence at "disappointment settling in." Separating it from the "it wasn't like he was wrong though."

Though not a technical error, I do also have a personal recommendation, free to take or leave. The best example of it is here:

Reaching up, I removed the headpiece running a claw along the shell, small shivers running down my spine. Putting it on, I grumbled as my vision went dark the helmet having to be pushed up to sit right. It was too big for me.

In here, I feel like you have a couple of run-on sentences that could be broken up a bit. Perhaps, "Reaching up, I removed the headpiece [and ran a claw] along the shell, small shivers running down my spine. Putting it on, I grumbled as my vision went dark[,] the helmet having to be pushed up to sit right. It was too big for me."

Like I said, nothing's technically wrong with it, and I like the description and word choice. It really captured Alister's mood and inner thought. The same goes for the whole chapter; love the content, love the words, I just think you may benefit from breaking up your sentences a little more.

Of course, I am not a professional, so please always take my advice with a grain of salt. I do not mean to be negative by it, and I thoroughly enjoyed the chapter regardless! ~

Why The Grin Widened...

You gave us a few special moments in this chapter, and picking a favorite is hard! As I mentioned, I love how you captured the moment of Alister testing the armor and thinking about being a warrior. It introduced an interesting new facet to his character, especially with the mention of his father.

Likewise, I like that you put a focus on Ryan's wounded leg, and how -even though he says it doesn't bother him- it's clear he's lying as he still goes to the healers about it. That's a great reminder to Alister -and the reader- why his adventurous spirit could come with a price.

And of course, probably my favorite moment if I had to pick one:

Taking my paws again in his own, my uncle gave them a soft squeeze, a gentle warmth seen in his eyes. “Try not to grow up too fast, Alister. You're still young, enjoy the life you have before it's too late.”

Ryan's dialogue with Alister proves that he is a very responsible and experienced character, similar to Alister himself, but I felt that this is where both his wisdom and care for his nephew really shone through. And what he's talking about may not be the most "exciting" route to take, at least for action-hungry readers, but it is very sound advice. Such a sweet moment ~

Our Mad Thoughts...

Overall, this was a great chapter that built very nicely onto the first, elaborating on the protagonist, his motivations, and his environment. Likewise, you introduced a new character that I already like a lot! Nicely done! :)


FlamingPhoenix says...

Ahhh, gosh I forgot to get back to you about this review! I'm so sorry it took so long, been having a rather rough time lately. But anyway, thank you so much for your sound advice, I will of course consider it and go fix the small sentence problems. It's always those small things as the writer you miss. XD
I'm really glad you enjoyed the chapter. I did enjoy writing it very much, was looking forward to adding Ryan in, his such a sound character. But anyway. XD Thank you again! I'll try and get the next chapter up as soon as I can!

RavenAkuma says...

Lol, no problem! Everyone needs a break, and you're right, it's easy to miss minor things like that (they pop up in my writing all the time as well, and they drive me nuts!). Anyway, glad you're back! I'd love to continue reading this story, and I'll continue reviewing as long as you want ~

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Stickied -- Sun Feb 11, 2024 10:29 pm
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Youbeaucupid wrote a review...

Cupid's Sweetheart Spotlights:


SWOOSH! Greetings, lovely hearts! Cupid here, armed with my bow, arrow, and a sprinkle of stardust for an enchanting adventure. Today, I'm diving into the captivating world of reviews with my very own Cupid's Sweetheart Spotlight. It's like the incredible YWS S'more Method, but with a dash of cupid's magic! Let's get flying, shall we?

Fluttering Wings - Initial Impressions:

Picture this: wooden platforms, the hum of village life, and Alister, our courageous protagonist, exploring the armory with the curiosity of a little explorer! As we wander alongside Alister, the textures and sounds come alive, wrapping us in a warm, fuzzy blanket of nostalgia. Get ready for a journey that'll make your heart flutter like a butterfly! 🦋💖

Arrow Adjustments - Love Crafting Suggestions:

Now, let's sprinkle some magic dust on this already enchanting tale! While the bonds between characters are as heartwarming as a cozy fireplace on a winter night, let's delve deeper into Alister's inner world. As he navigates the armory and dreams of becoming a great warrior, we yearn to unravel the layers of his hopes, fears, and aspirations. Let his dreams and fears dance across the pages like shooting stars in the night sky, illuminating the path of his journey with every flicker of emotion. 🌠✨

Consider exploring Alister's internal conflicts with more nuance, allowing readers to feel the tug-of-war between his longing for adventure and his sense of duty to his family and community. Dive into the depths of his heart as he grapples with the expectations placed upon him, painting a vivid portrait of his inner struggles and triumphs. By infusing his narrative with introspection and vulnerability, we can forge an even stronger emotional connection with our courageous protagonist, rooting for him every step of the way.

Additionally, let's enrich the world-building aspect of the story by painting a more vibrant picture of the village and its inhabitants. Describe the sights, sounds, and smells of Alister's surroundings with poetic detail, transporting readers to a realm where every shadow holds a secret and every whisper carries a tale. Whether it's the bustling marketplace, the tranquil glade, or the mysterious outskirts of the forest, let each setting come alive with its own unique charm and intrigue. 🍃 🍃

These suggestions are offered with the utmost respect for your creative vision and narrative style. Feel free to explore them at your own pace, knowing that your story is already a beautiful tapestry woven with care and passion. :D

Golden Harp Strumming - Heavenly Highlights:

Oh, the sweet melody of family ties and friendship bonds! Alister and his uncle Ryan steal the show with their heartfelt exchanges, reminding us of the power of love and guidance. With every tender moment, it's like our hearts are doing a happy dance! 💞🎶 Get ready to fall in love with these characters, just like I did!

Cherished Verses - Cupid's Favorite Lines:

"Safety, community...but... There is also a hint of mystery. A wonder, just out of reach."

This line is like a gentle breeze on a summer evening, stirring up memories of home and the promise of something more. It paints a picture of a world where safety and familiarity coexist with the tantalizing allure of the unknown. 🌟 It's a reminder that even in the most comforting of places, there's always a spark of curiosity waiting to ignite a new adventure.

"Try not to grow up too fast, Alister. You're still young, enjoy the life you have before it's too late."

Ah, the sage advice of Uncle Ryan, dripping with wisdom like honey from a honeycomb. 🍯🐝 These words carry the weight of experience, urging Alister to embrace the beauty of youth and innocence. It's a gentle reminder to savor each moment, for time flies by like a fleeting dream, leaving behind echoes of laughter and joy.

"Now, can't keep Zerkar waiting, I'm sure he will be pleased with your visit!"

This line dances off the page like a playful melody, teasing the imagination with the promise of adventure. It's a gentle nudge towards the next chapter of Alister's journey, where new friendships and unexpected discoveries await. It's a reminder that even the smallest of actions can have ripple effects, shaping the course of our lives in ways we never imagined. :)

Final Whispers - Closing Thoughts:

Dear friend, as we bid farewell to Alister and his adventures, let us carry the spirit of his journey within us. May his courage inspire us to chase our dreams, and his love remind us of the bonds that tie us together. With every step we take, let us embrace the magic of friendship and the wonder of possibility.

Sending you all my love and sparkles, Cupid o((>ω< ))o💘

FlamingPhoenix says...

Thank you so much for the review! It helps so much! This is of course the very first draft, so all advice is very much welcome. I tend to over-share sometimes, so that's probably why there isn't as much description as there should be. XD So will be adding a lot more in the next chapter. Again thank you for the review!!

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Reviews: 10

Sun Feb 11, 2024 11:02 pm
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aaliyahlaurier wrote a review...

- The chapter opens with a captivating scene set in a bustling village, instantly immersing readers in the protagonist's world.
- The protagonist, Alister, demonstrates a palpable yearning for adventure and a desire to prove himself as a warrior, reflected in his playful interaction with his uncle, Ryan, at the armory.
- Improved: The dialogue between Alister and Ryan feels natural and authentic, offering insights into their relationship dynamics and the protagonist's youthful aspirations.
- Alister's internal struggle between ambition and the wisdom imparted by his uncle adds depth to his character and sets up an engaging internal conflict.
- The introduction of mysterious occurrences, such as the unusual items being found, adds an intriguing layer of tension to the narrative, foreshadowing potential future conflicts.
- The chapter skillfully balances moments of light-hearted banter with underlying themes of responsibility, loyalty, and the passage of time, resonating with readers on an emotional level.
- Improved: Vivid descriptions and sensory details bring the village setting to life, allowing readers to vividly envision the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of Alister's world.
- The chapter ends on a note of anticipation, leaving readers eager to follow Alister's journey and discover the secrets hidden within the village and beyond.

FlamingPhoenix says...

Thank you so much for the review! :D

And on the pedestal these words appear:/'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;/Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'/Nothing beside remains.
— Percy Bysshe Shelley