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The Main Character Syndrome of Aynnhailleah Angel Astrid: Episode 1.3

by Lael


“Ein-hale-Leah A—oh. Oops. Uh, Angel Astrid, please come to the administrative office,” a girl’s voice said over the intercom, growing faster with each word, as if she were embarrassed.

Angel paused in between her first bites of lunch. Swallowing the food in her mouth, she sighed and shook her head lightly. She thought she could almost hear the snickers around the cafeteria from the rest of the students, who had no doubt heard the announcement.

“After three whole years have gone by and with how famous you are, you’d think everyone would know how to say your first name by now, but I’ve been proven wrong,” said Bryony. She clicked her tongue, and then her lips twitched.

“Oh, I’m sure that she’s just a new assistant in the office,” said Angel. “I’ve never heard her voice before, so maybe it’s her first day or week. She’s bound to be unfamiliar with all sorts of things still.”

“You’re too nice, Angel. You always give people the benefit of the doubt, even when they obviously don’t deserve it,” remarked Bryony. Her twitching lips spread into a large grin and her shoulders began to shake. “At least that wasn’t the worst one. Not like Ay-yeena-alley-ay-uh. Or Ay-nail.” She laughed hard through both butcherings of Angel’s name.

Angel rolled her eyes and laughed. “Stop. Why’d you have to remind me?” She stood and pushed her food towards Bryony, though she still looked at it longingly.

“Here, you can have this.” It was an entire afternoon tea spread, with crustless egg salad sandwiches and salmon herb sandwiches, fruit scones with lemon curd, and tea with plenty of cream and sugar; the three-tiered stand was made of gold and the tea set was made with the finest porcelain.

“Are you sure?” asked Bryony, surprised. “You’ve barely eaten anything yet. It shouldn’t take too long at the office.”

“No, go ahead and help yourself,” replied Angel, putting on her backpack. “Somehow, I get the feeling that I won’t be back before lunch is over.” She waved and walked off in the direction of the administrative office.

She stopped in her tracks as soon as she reached the office. She stood in the doorway, staring at the back of a tall, muscular, perfectly proportioned figure and a head of short, downy, swan-feather-like hair.

The figure turned slowly, as if the world around them had stopped. As his eyes, richer in color than the blue of a peacock’s feathers, locked with hers for probably the fourth or fifth time that day, for some reason, Angel almost thought the edges of her vision were tinged with a bright, sparkling glow.

He nodded at her, not saying a word. Angel wondered why he didn’t greet her when he had seemed so talkative in class that morning. Well, she always did her best to be friendly to everyone.

“We meet again,” she said, giving him a friendly smile. She tucked one side of her shining, ebony hair behind her ear. “How has your first day been so far?”

“Good.”

After a moment of silence, Angel blinked. “Oh, that’s good. Have you been finding your classes all right? When I first came here it felt like a maze, small and exclusive private school as it is.” She laughed lightly, never breaking eye contact. Two could play at a game.

“Yes, it’s been fine.”

Angel began to question if her rival had actually not had a good first day, with how he was responding in such short sentences and a serious, almost pensive expression. But his sapphire eyes steadily remained upon hers, as if he were devoting all of his attention to her presence.

How long was he going to do this? Even the new student office worker, who was, no doubt, the one who had butchered Angel’s name, was openly staring at them with owl eyes.

“Ah, there you are, Angel! How are you, dear?” A tall and large, smartly dressed man stepped out of the door furthest within the administrative suite and approached, smiling. His pleasant face was clean-shaven, defined by the thick slashes of his graying, dark eyebrows above brown eyes.

Angel finally stepped inside. “Good afternoon, Headmaster Arlov,” she said, returning his smile. “I’m doing well.”

“I heard you only returned last night from your dance competition,” said Arlov, “which I just know our shining student won.” He winked and straightened his suit. “I appreciate your devotion to your education despite how exhausted you must be. Your peers could learn from your excellent example.”

Angel beamed at his praise. “No, not at all! I enjoy my classes very much.”

Jhémes turned away slightly at their conversation, but Angel thought she caught a glimpse of his gaze flicking upward, and he let out an almost inaudible sigh. She pursed her lips at his behavior.

“Oh yes, that leads me to my point,” said Arlov, remembering the boy’s presence when he shifted. “Angel, you’ve met Jhémes in your first period class already.”

Angel nodded cautiously, already feeling dread creeping down her spine. She fought down a grimace. “Headmaster, by any chance, are you . . . ?”

“Since you’re classmates and will soon get to know each other well anyways, I thought it would be nice for you to give Jhémes the tour of our campus,” said the headmaster, looking quite pleased with himself.

“Ah,” replied Angel slowly. She had immediately guessed it might come to this. But what did Arlov mean when he said that they would get to know each other well? “So you do want me to play tour guide . . . for him.” She snuck a sideways glance at her classmate. He had stuck his hands into his trouser pockets and was studying the painting of Kennard Academy’s founder on the wall.

“Yes, since you help out giving tours to visitors who come on campus anyways,” said Arlov, nodding and giving her a meaningful look.

She knew from her very first year at Kennard that he used her as the poster child of the school and had her give campus tours to the diplomats, representatives, and other important adults who visited Kennard for summits or conventions. It had to be because of her father and her family’s reputation, and maybe a little bit due to her ventures in the public spotlight. What headmaster wouldn’t wish to show off his all-around finest student, in aspects including talent, academic achievement, physical beauty, and an ancient, prestigious lineage?

But still, Jhémes Blake was just a student. Was there something about him that merited an honor only given to the leaders and most prominent figures of the continent?

“Headmaster, can we talk for a second? In private?” asked Angel, peeking at Jhémes out of the corner of her eye.

“Of course,” replied Arlov, gesturing in the direction of his office. “If you would excuse us briefly, Jhémes. We will be back soon.”

The boy nodded and turned back to examining the portrait.

Angel followed the headmaster inside, and as soon as the door was shut, she blurted out, “You want me to give a tour to a student? Is that really necessary?”

In reality, more than any other reason, she just wanted to spend as little time with her rival as possible. If it had been a student other than him, she wouldn’t have minded so much.

“Angel, please,” said the headmaster, giving her a pleading look. “He’s from no ordinary family.”

“Oh, I see,” retorted Angel. A spark of anger bloomed in her chest, and she crossed her arms. “His family must have provided quite the generous donation to the school for you to let him transfer in senior year and ask me to do this. What does his family do, anyways? I’m not sure I’ve heard of any Blakes among my family’s acquaintances.” She frowned. “I’m disappointed in you, Headmaster. I never knew you were the type of person who could be so easily swayed by money like this.”

Headmaster Arlov sighed. “You can ask Jhémes himself if you really want to know. All I can say is that he deserves to be here as much as anyone else. He has impeccable grades and achievements, and his recommendation letters were from people with extraordinary reputations.”

“But couldn’t you ask someone else to give him a tour?” said Angel, softening her tone. “I don’t think I’m up for it right now.”

Please say I don’t have to do it, she begged him in her mind.

“Who else could do as great of a job as you?” said Arlov, spreading his hands. “We need you. I need you to do this, for the sake of our school.” When Angel remained silent, he added, “I heard that Mrs. Grant dress coded you. If you give Jhémes a tour now, I will speak to her and make sure that you no longer have to go to detention after school.”

Angel’s mouth fell open. “For real?”

Headmaster Arlov smiled. He extended his right hand. “Do we have a deal?”

She placed her hand firmly in his right away, and she shook it. “You can count on me, Headmaster!”

In the end, spending an hour with a guy she didn’t like wasn’t as bad as sitting in after school detention with Georgina Grant and her foul temper.

--

Previous: Episode 1.2

Next: Episode 1.4


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Fri Sep 29, 2023 11:44 pm
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Ventomology wrote a review...



Hii! Back again.

I'll start out by seconding Winny on the ostentatiousness of the school. You could definitely find ways to mention it more often. In fact, it may fit in well with the general narration style to call out to the rich people things here like they're totally normal objects. When Angel sits in her desk at the start of a class, you could add some obnoxious description that makes the chair more "high-class." Like: "Angel pulled out her Rococo desk chair" instead of just her chair.

In any other novel, this might be awkward, but I think the tone and style here is so tongue-in-cheek that throwing in stuff like this would be funny instead of strange. Just try not to overdo it.

(Also if you need a list of fancy styles... I got one. Hashtag architorture.)

I kind of like how you made us wait a little before we got to Angel being voluntold to show Jhémes around. I was expecting basically a jump-cut at the start of this section based on the ending of the previous part, but you fit in some good jokes and introduced the principal in the meantime, so it hardly felt like waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Last thing... I think you could have given Arlov a stronger impression in his introduction. Here's what we get:

A tall and large, smartly dressed man stepped out of the door furthest within the administrative suite and approached, smiling. His pleasant face was clean-shaven, defined by the thick slashes of his graying, dark eyebrows above brown eyes.

The best part of this is the "thick slashes of his graying, dark eyebrows," mostly because "slashes" is a fantastic word. For the rest of it, I feel like it just doesn't do justice to the exaggerated personalities of this novel. These descriptions make him blandly pleasant... not devious, or a slightly cowardly man looking after his own interests, or really anything particularly strong. The words 'tall and large' give the size, but they don't often give the character. What does 'tall' mean on Arlov? Does he tower, or is he like... Dad-sized? Does 'large' mean 'big as a boulder' or... Dad-who-needs-to-hit-the-gym? These are the kinds of places where you might stop and think: is there a word or phrase that more accurately conveys the feeling of a person, and not just their real, physical attributes?

Anyway! I was snickering so hard during Arlov's deal with Angel. Plotwise, I have nothing but praise--every trope and cliche is perfectly and hilariously executed.

Hope this helps,
-Vento




Lael says...


Thank you!!



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Tue Sep 05, 2023 6:16 pm
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WinnyWriter wrote a review...



Hey, there! I'm here for a review again.

I liked this chapter (?) and found it easy to read. I have to admit, I was thinking for a minute that your main character was going to get paired with her rival in some kind of group project, but the direction you took seems to be heading towards getting at the same type of content.

I find myself slightly confused at how this school works. I guess I'm not one hundred percent sure how private schools work, but as far as I could tell, so far everything has seemed to run just the same as any regular public school, up until Angel's super fancy lunch. Because of this, I kind of felt like the super fancy lunch thing was kind of out of place. I think you mentioned only briefly in the very beginning how it's supposed to be a prestigious private school, so I'd suggest maybe considering how you could make the setting more evident and clearly distinct from a regular school. I know there was that run-in with Ms. Grant and how she went on about being a disgrace to the school's reputation and whatnot, but I guess I'd forgotten about it being a private school and thought maybe she was just uptight and grumpy. So maybe it's partly on me that I sense a bit of inconsistency. However, maybe you could throw in a few visual clues like mentioning old, fancy architecture in the building or something. Mentioning the portrait of the school's founder is kind of an example, although again, I'm not sure I would have found this to be specific to a private school.

I see that Angel is calling Jhemes her rival a lot more now. I'd like to get a more comprehensive view into why she thinks of him this way. I believe you explained earlier in the story that she feared he'd take her place as the most popular student. However, so far her personality/character doesn't seem to indicate any snobbishness or self-centeredness other than this, so it feels to me a little like she went straight from romantically enamored with the new student to hating his guts quite abruptly. All in all, the storyline is good, but I guess I'm saying it could be fleshed out a little more, too.

I think using the tour with Jhemes as a bargaining piece to get Angel out of detention was clever and amusing. I kind of expected that they'd somehow end up in detention together, but we'll see where the story goes!

Good work, once again, and I look forward to reading the rest.




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Fri Sep 01, 2023 12:41 am
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi again Lael!

General Impressions

Headmaster Arlov sure is quite the character! He kind of gives off the impression that Angel could bargain with him or bribe him into a lot of stuff – or like he’s not exactly a stickler to the rules and will let the protagonists get away with breaking them given the motivation. <.<

“I heard you only returned last night from your dance competition,” said Arlov, “which I just know our shining student won.” He winked and straightened his suit.

His gestures here also seem just *slightly* sinister though maybe I just don’t trust school headmasters not to secretly be antagonists xD

I was surprised by Bryony’s ‘mean’ side here and thought she was being a little hard on the office worker – though maybe she doesn’t think Angel’s first name is hard to pronounce, kind of like how Angel didn’t think Jhémes’ name was hard to pronounce.

Jhémes talking to Angel at the administrative office is just the perfect representation of what it’s like to make small talk with a teenager xD I guess he must be having some dramatic inner monologue going on that he’s not sharing with us to maintain his air of mystery.

Comedy

She stood in the doorway, staring at the back of a tall, muscular, perfectly proportioned figure and a head of short, downy, swan-feather-like hair.

The purple prose description being just slightly different each time is great.
“His family must have provided quite the generous donation to the school for you to let him transfer in senior year and ask me to do this. What does his family do, anyways?

I like the idea that getting a campus tour from a student (even if it’s a shining student like Angel) is such a big deal in this setting. It really conveys the absurdity of the story’s universe.

It’s also kind of funny that Angel is acting ‘bratty’ about giving Jhémes a tour when she’s been quite congenial and mild-mannered so far in the story. It shows the effect of Jhémes’ main character energy and also kind of humanises Angel a bit? Because it shows she *can* be petty, if that makes sense?

“We need you. I need you to do this, for the sake of our school.”

The headmaster is also quite amusing with how emphatic he is that this campus tour is super important to the fate of the school.
It’s a nice touch that Arlov offers to get her out of detention so soon after Angel got into detention. It’s consistent with the idea that Angel basically has plot armour.

Setting

I like the little details about the school and how its students live that were dropped in here and there.
Was there something about him that merited an honor only given to the leaders and most prominent figures of the continent?

It makes sense for an influential and super exclusive private school to have political leaders around.
It was an entire afternoon tea spread, with crustless egg salad sandwiches and salmon herb sandwiches, fruit scones with lemon curd, and tea with plenty of cream and sugar; the three-tiered stand was made of gold and the tea set was made with the finest porcelain.

Angel’s lunch also shows the general social class of people that are attending the school. Though I want to know: is this something she got at the school’s kitchen or did she drag it from home or her dorm? xD

Suggestions

I wonder if it’d be nice to give more hints to what prestigious family Jhémes is from here. Arlov vaguely gestures to it a lot, and I kind of feel like since Angel is also from a prestigious family she would have an inkling as to which one he means (unless there are like, a million different prestigious families which are all really important and she only knows a small subset of them).

I also wonder if the headmaster’s behaviour warrants some comedic and elaborate describing on its own. I mean, it’s pretty funny for a headmaster to shake on not giving a student detention in exchange for her doing something like a campus tour. Making it a handshake with loads of gravitas could potentially make it funnier? That’s just a random thought I had, haha – not sure if it works with what you have planned for the character!

Overall

I like that Angel and Jhémes are now going to have an awkward campus tour with each other. I wonder if Jhémes is going to keep going with his curt but ~mysterious~ responses or if something is going to make him crack, proverbially while on the tour.

Hope this helps – and keep writing!
-Lim





You wake up in the morning and it feels impossible? Good. You do it anyway.
— Martin Scorcese