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CHAPTER 1: How It All Began or In Which It All Began

by JasmineFelicia

They were just runes on a wall. That’s all they were, I promise you. And with all the ruins around, they certainly didn’t seem like much. But I suppose that many truly important things never seem to mean anything, and the little troubles are exaggerated. I don’t know why it’s like that, it’s one of those things in the world that you never seem to understand, like why on that particular day the boy just happened to be coming home after a fencing practice, and just happened to stop by the Meeting House that day, which just happened to be located amidst the ruins of a local castle. Many things just happen for no particular reason at all. But, I suppose there is also an unseen order to things, which we will never understand. . . But I digress.

The boy was in the best of moods that day, for the Meeting House was a place of utter enjoyment for him and his friends. Now I should tell you a bit more about the Meeting House. The Meeting House was the meeting place of a club of children, though they would not call themselves children, as children many times refuse to do so. It was a group of 5 ‘young adults’, as they called themselves, but most of them will not come into this story very much. These so-called ‘young adults’ dubbed their club the GDC, in which they met to, together, use their gifts and talents to create inventions (and even I don’t understand how those things worked). These inventions used your imagination to send you different places, different times, even different worlds, in an effort to better understand how the human mind adapts in certain situations (but also for certain less scientific questions). At the time the children did not know that the answers to their questions lie right in the ruins of the castle amidst which they had built their Meeting House. The castle had been the home of Ilomead, King of the state of Remus, though his reign in those regions has long since been forgotten.

Now, the boy was going to the Meeting Place that day to simply relax and enjoy the last days of the waning Summer, for no children, not even extraordinary ones, could escape the tight binds of school. And long fencing practices tire one’s bones. So, the boy slowed his bike to a stop as he neared the castle, which was located on Grayscut Hill. The castle had obviously once been majestic and beautiful. Over the centuries the walls and ceiling still surprisingly held strong, and it was not hard to imagine it’s former strength. Now on this particular day, the weather was not the best, but when the weather was bad in those regions, it looked all the better because of the way the clouds enveloped even the things which some people call tall hills, and others: short mountains. The white wisps that encircled Grayscut Hill looked like long dragons, which would protect the castle. But we all know that they were just clouds, not dragons. . . Or were they? How the boy, who we will call Christopher, wished that they were dragons, so that he could fly up high and see the world down below. It was not the same when in those big aeroplanes, which hid you from the cool air. Apparently to protect you, yet, in all the stories, dragon riders could ride at heights that should have already left you literally breathless. Christopher sighed as he thought of this. A rumble of thunder sounded as he closed the door to the main hall. The wind made many creaking noises, but Christopher ignored them, knowing that the castle had lasted through many stronger storms. He wandered down many winding stairs, to what used to be the cellars, which were now used as their research rooms. A brick with cuneiform written on it sat on a table in the first room of the cellars. Christopher decided to start translating it, which, of course, would be complicated. After half an hour or so, he had only translated this much:

“For his lady Kenzia, Ilomead, the man of strength. . .”

He was focusing on the next part, when a crash of thunder made him bolt from his seat. Christopher glanced around, and walked over to the stairs, thinking he had heard footsteps echoing through the hall, but no one was there. The cold wind roared, but over its tumult, he thought that he could make out the slow, enchanting notes of an invisible piano. Perhaps even an orchestra joined in at some point. And maybe, maybe, at the top of the staircase, there was a human shadow. This all troubled him greatly, and so he ran back down to the cellar, another peal of thunder right behind him. And, as Christopher sat down and continued puzzling his mind on the cuneiform, a voice sounded that made him nearly jump out of his skin, which made his heart trip over several beats, which made him have to suppress the urge to scream. But the voice had simply said:

“Having trouble with that, are you?”

The voice was that of a strong man, perhaps the voice of a prince or warrior. A voice of a man with power. And men with power could either do very good things or very bad things. Men with power in their voice were leaders, and so Christopher did not dare turn around to look at the man, as many who wish to run from fate do, since he did not want to give in to whatever this powerful man may want. He pretended that he had never heard the voice, and, anyway, he could have just imagined it. Christopher gulped when he felt a heavy hand on his shoulder. He bit his lip and froze, hoping the man would go away. But the hand remained on his shoulder, and out of the corner of his eye, he could see the man’s face peering over his head at the brick, like a math teacher checking your quiz answers. The man spoke again (for it was him on the stairs), but this time in a softer quieter voice:

“My name is Ahimilek, brother of King Ilomead, and you are in his home. And, those runes that you are having trouble with simply state that he built it for his wife, Kenzia.”

Ahimilek removed his hand from Christopher’s shoulder, grabbed a pencil from the desk, and filled in the rest of the words on the paper the boy had been writing on. Together, the words said: For his lady Kenzia, Ilomead, the man of strength, the king of Ileom, the king of Remus and Dakkada, built her castle.

Ahimilek then walked a few steps away, and Christopher finally turned and looked incredulously at the man who claimed to be the brother of King Ilomead, whose reign in those parts had long since been forgotten. The man was tall and had the face of a person who had experienced much pain, but had learned to look on the bright side of things. And, truly, he looked like someone who had stepped out of the Sumerian Empire. He was dressed like a military officer of that time, which surprised Christopher, and his beard was neatly shaven. But, on Ahimilek’s waist, there was a holster in which sat a gun.

Christopher spoke: “H-how could you read the cuneiform? And if you really are King Ilomead’s brother, then how can I understand you? Why are you here anyway?”

Ahimilek shook his head and sighed. “You do not believe me? I have been in this time for quite a while, but you have found something that will bring me back to my brother.” He pointed at the brick, “I am sure he would not mind you joining us also. You can understand me because I have been here for. . . Quite a few years, as I said before, and have, over time, learned your language. And I am here because I finally felt a, what would you call it? Ah yes, a glitch in this year. As in that,” he again pointed at the brick,” was found.”

Christopher closed his eyes tightly, hoping that he was dreaming, and perhaps he was, because the wind calmed down, and when Christopher opened his eyes again, the man was gone. 

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154 Reviews

Points: 10017
Reviews: 154

Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:39 pm
Zoom wrote a review...

I found this story tricky to immersive myself in, if I’m honest.

Something that immediately jumps out at me when starting a story is how varied the sentences and paragraphs are in length, and when both are on the longer side, I’m immediately concerned that we’re either going to be opening with a lot of info dumping or text where the writer hasn’t formatted it with the purpose of controlling the pace and making the story consumable, which I think is the case here.

Next, I’m skeptical about your choice of POV. An omniscient narrator using both first and third person? It’s jarring and awkward to read. It CAN be done well (for example, The Book Thief) but in this case I can’t see the clear benefit you’re getting out of it, and think you’d be better served by a third person narrator who isn’t so aware of themselves. Because this narrator took too long to set the scene, stated overly thematic platitudes such as “it’s one of those things in the world that you never seem to understand“, used heavy handed narrative cues such as “now I’ll tell you about this”, and just generally stood in the way of the reader getting to the meat of the story.

Personally I think a little formatting, an adjustment to POV and a crisper entry into the scene would offer you a lot more here.


Thank you!

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13 Reviews

Points: 170
Reviews: 13

Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:17 pm
MaxaM wrote a review...

Hello man! That's a nice begining you have there, and your story has a lot of potential, so allow me to try and give some constructive criticism for it to grow even better.
I really liked your way of telling the story, but i think it would be nice if you allowed us, the readers, to get more insight onto Cristopher toughts, and even tough the narration in on third person, i believe it would be nice to hear what our MC is thinking time and again, and also see more into his emotions.
Another thing that another person mentioned here is that a bigger use of the active voice would be nice, and i think you should hear them out because it can also be a great way of characterization (for example, what a character notices first can show what they value, how attentive they are, their level of knowledge on a subject and etc.)
But that is all i have to say really, i can't comment a lot on a grammar standpoint since i'm not a native speaker, so that's all. I hope to see more out of you soon, i hope i was able to help!


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19 Reviews

Points: 2014
Reviews: 19

Wed Aug 19, 2020 4:23 pm
grainne wrote a review...

This is a great beginning. I'm immediately drawn into the story and I want to know what happens next - always a good sign with a first chapter. :) I've just got a few comments that might help the flow of this piece. As always, feel free to take them or leave them as you please.

First, some of the paragraphs and sentences seem really long. Even as someone who loves reading, large blocks of text are intimidating and cause me to get jolted out of the story. Shortening some of these paragraphs and long sentences will make the chapter more approachable. I'd recommend reading the story out loud and shortening any sentence that takes more than two breaths to read. (I do this all the time with school papers.)

For example, your last paragraph is one really long sentence: "Christopher closed his eyes tightly, hoping that he was dreaming, and perhaps he was, because the wind calmed down, and when Christopher opened his eyes again, the man was gone." I might change this to "Christopher closed his eyes tightly, hoping this was all a bad dream. Perhaps it was. The wind calmed down, and Christopher opened his eyes again. The man was gone." The shorter sentences are easier for me to follow as a reader, and get your point across more clearly.

Second, I'd love to see a little more dialogue early on. This would also help break up some of the long descriptive paragraphs. It would also help us feel like we get to know the characters right away, and we're seeing this world through their eyes.

Finally, you're using passive voice on occasion, and sometimes telling us what Christopher senses around him rather than letting us hear it from him. Usually in a short story or novel, passive voice is what helps a reader feel like they're part of the action. In passive voice, something is happening to the character. In active voice, the character is doing something.

Here's an example: "But, on Ahimilek’s waist, there was a holster in which sat a gun." You could write this "Christopher's eyes paused for a moment as he recognized a familiar shape. Ahimilek had a gun holstered at his waist." In the second version, Christopher is doing something. We're not just being told something that Christopher sees.

I hope this feedback helped! Let me know if you have any questions. Great job on this story, and keep writing!

Thank you!

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Points: 0
Reviews: 0

Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:28 pm
Nathan7 says...

This is awesome and I want more.


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112 Reviews

Points: 5100
Reviews: 112

Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:41 pm
chikara wrote a review...

'Ello, I love a good first chapter.

Sentences in places run on, so if you want to cut some of that down, I'd suggest reading over and changing the places that sound awkward. I've done that myself and I've found a few sentences. (e.g. "But I suppose that many things that are truly important never seem to mean anything, and the little troubles are over-exaggerated.") Now, "But I suppose that many truly important things never seem to mean anything, and the little troubles are exaggerated."

Also, "aeroplanes" is the non-American version of the word "airplane" so if you want to use that you'd have to make your stories culture seem similar to places that use that word if you know what I mean. To expand on that, villages and townsfolk are under that category, and what you have right now is fine, but there could be some more worldbuilding to it.

There's some great worldbuilding detail here already with the names and how you focus on dialogue. Every character seems different and that shows through how you write them. I'd recommend going in more though, as you can never have enough detail.

I found a grammar error too: "Ahimilek removed his hand from Christopher’s shoulder, grabbed a pencil from the desk and filled in the rest of the words on the paper the boy had been writing on." Comma please after the "and" and before "filled".

I hope this helped - Hopefully, not rude though.


Thanks! This helped a lot!

As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.
— Andrew Carnegie