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Silver and Golden Eggs [2]

by Lightsong

Khalid turned his attention back to the fighting men. It was such an odd sight -- where did the warrior got his armour, anyway? It didn't look modern -- too medieval, in fact. As the short man endured the relentless beating, Khalid clenched his jaw. He wanted so much to help, or if he couldn't, to get away from this horrible sight. The short man was spouting blood now, yelling pain here and there.

What was worse than the thought of him dead was his determination to continue. Every time the warrior knocked him to the ground, the short man stood up. He didn't show any sign of retreating or of defeat. Instead, he took all the hits, his gaze never leaving the warrior. When Khalid thought the warrior was about to land the final attack, he stopped. The battle was paused, with short man still standing, albeit breathing heavily.

'You aren't worth my time,' the warrior hissed. 'You can take them all you want.' With that said, he left.

Khalid's eyes followed the short man as the latter walked slowly to a tree. Under it was food, drinks and clothes, scattered from a blanket that seemed to be those resources before they became like this.

'All those bruises - just for those?' Khalid said, unable to speak anything more. It was just so ridiculous, considering the short man was nearly dying. It didn't seem to worth the pain.

Instead of echoing Khalid's sentiment, the old man chuckled. 'Ah, Khalid. There is more than what you see. But it doesn't matter. Continue going to my house, please.'

'What about the short man?' Khalid asked, frowning. 'How did you know my name, anyway?'

'Just go pass him. He can't see us. You'll see.'

Gulping, Khalid passed the short man, praying for the old man to be right and still wondering how he knew his name. Oddly, the short man continued to take care of his prizes instead of looking at him. It was weird. He had the thought of saying something to the short man, but for some reason, his tongue was numb. Very, very weird.

After a few minutes, Khalid could see the outline of a house from where he stood. It was hidden by tall trees, only the roof could be seen. As he was about to make another step, he heard a giggle. He turned back, trying to find the source of the sound. Maybe he should just ignore it...?

'See where it comes from,' the old man, insisting. He said it like he knew what was in Khalid's mind.

Khalid rolled his eyes. Urgh, what have I gotten into? he thought, walking back to get nearer to the giggling.

He met a tall bush, and as he worked through it, he saw two young women sitting at the bank of a river. He didn't recall seeing a river before. Huh. He remembered about the old man and glanced at his shoulder.

'Are you okay there, old man?' he asked.

The old man waved his hand. 'I'm alright. Don't worry. Look at them.'

Khalid sighed and turned his attention back to the women. One of them wore a red kebaya, a blouse of cotton, silk, lace and brocade. The central opening of it was fastened by a central brooch were the flaps of the blouse met.She was inspecting something on the ground, and as Khalid squinted, he gaslped. They weren't just something. They were faces -- female faces, and just that. He felt like throwing up seeing them -- what was wrong with the woman? How could she get these faces, and for why?

The woman took one. She checked it before wearing it. It was a mask. No wonder the face wasn't tainted with blood, but it still didn't make sense. As she finished wearing, Khalid could see her face completely changed. She didn't seem like wearing a mask -- indeed, what was before a canvas of small eyes and noses and lips had changed to something different. The eyes were bigger and rounder; the nose was sharp; the lips were deliciously red. It was beauty that the woman wore, but her smile, not quite reaching her ear, looked sinister.

The other woman, on the other hand, stared at the river while sitting on a rock. Her mouth curled downward, her eyes half-closed. Contrary to the pretty woman, her face was average. She didn't have skin as fair as the pretty woman, and her build was slightly bigger than the pretty woman's curvaceous one. The only similarity they both had was their long, black hair.

'Poor, poor Teratai,' the pretty woman said, her tone indicating anything but pity. 'It's a shame Galang didn't choose you, but then again, it was obvious who was more beautiful between us.'

Teratai looked up and shoot the pretty woman a glare. 'Stop it, Mawar. I know what you have done to Galang -- I'm sure if I tell him the truth about you, he'd never spare you a glance.'

A sharp laugh erupted from Mawar. She shook her head, clutching her stomach. 'Teratai, Teratai. Do you really think he would listen to you? You, whose talent and beauty were nothing? You, who lacked grace and charm? Aren't you aware how delusional you sound right now?'

Mawar folded her arm. 'Not to mention, I've done a lot -- sacrificed a lot -- to get his attention. I will never let you get in my way,' she said, her voice low.

A staring contest started between both of them, before Teratai stood. ‘This isn’t over, Mawar. Remember that.’ With that, she left.

What can she do, really? Khalid thought. This man Galang has already decided, hasn’t he?

A contented smile replaced Mawar’s scowling expression. She tilted her head and quickly hid the face masks under her bundle of clothes. She took one of the clothes and pretended to wash it, making sure the action look graceful. Soon, a man arrived wearing baju Melayu, a Malay’s traditional garment for man. His sky blue shirt was long-sleeved, and had a raised stiff collar. His trouser matched his shirt.

‘Mawar,’ he said, raising his eyebrows. ‘I didn’t expect you to be here. Do you need some privacy?’

Mawar raised her hand on her mouth and giggled in a feminine way. ‘Oh, Galang. Don’t be ridiculous. I appreciate some company while doing all of this.’

‘Well, then, I guess I’m at your service,’ Galang said, smiling.

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91 Reviews

Points: 4155
Reviews: 91

Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:32 am
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Kazumi wrote a review...

The interesting thing about reading a short story being published in parts is it's like seeing the development of a writer over a period of time. As in unlike the last part, the em-dashes are down. It's still not very polished though. Still some stuff like typos and subject-verb agreement errors, but I believe in your top-tier abilities in editing after the drafts are over. You smart, and you loyal that's why. *wink*

Another thing I noticed is that DJ Khaled noticed the medieval-looking armor. I kind of had a smile while reading that because you wrote it in a way that was designed to address my complaint in the last review, but once you got the minimum done you just moved on with the story lol. But it also reminded me that we writers are slaves to the audience. The readers will complain, and once that happens, the publishers point a gun at us and force us to appease the audience in the next book because sadly, the writing industry is a business and unsatisfied but vocal readers can bring us to our knees. So yeah, it gave me depression shortly after making me smile. That's cool.

I have to disagree with killeham's statement of the mask-putting-on paragraph being eerie. It was just kind of plain. I mean, the idea of putting on human face masks is pretty unsettling, like it came out of a Junji Ito graphic novel, but the description and stuff didn't do it much justice.

I think it was because it wasn't animated, I guess. It was only said that she finished wearing them, but not about how she wore them. Like, how the mask melted into her face or some process like that. Describing how Mawar looked before she transformed and detailing on the masks themselves would have helped as well.

I don't know if you're going for a horrific vibe, but I got a feeling you're tryna swing that way. DJ Khaled reacted violently, even threatening to throw up, then there's that thing that killeham said about sinister. Either way, I don't think there's any harm in spicing things up a bit.

The moment sirens went blazing hot in my head though was when the first lines of dialogue were exchanged between the two women. I tried not to mind it, but later on I realized those sirens were right.

I find it super cliche when someone addresses someone by name right after being adressed by that someone by name. Like, one guy going "Hi, Jack," and then the other guy going, "What's up, John." It's so obvious that it was written that way so that the reader could conveniently identify each character, but without considering the fact that nobody does that in real life. In formal conversations, maybe, but that exchange wasn't one. And yeah, maybe we do that in real life without our awareness, but even then, so many other works do that that you can't help but think, Hmm, this author's probably using this overused writing device for the convenience of the reader without considering the fact that noonedoesitinreallifehmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm *thinking emoji*

Besides, holding on to her name would make Mawar even more of a mysterious and shady BIATCH than she already is. Names humanize and identify something. But we humans fear and despise whatever we don't know or identify. Who knows, it also might make us root for Teratai more. Intrigue, oooooh.

Uh, yeah, that's it I guess. It's an okay story. I'm just a dedicated reviewer for now, not an avid fan. I think the reason why I wasn't budged by the mask-putting-on scene was because I revere horror stuff like Poe and Junji Ito, so I'm kinda numb sometimes.

I hope you found this review helpful, or at least entertaining. It was a pleasure doing this. I'm looking forward to when you finally finalize this thing so I can see it at its best. But for now, I guess I'll settle for the next part. Good luck in the future


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394 Reviews

Points: 34375
Reviews: 394

Fri Jun 08, 2018 5:45 am
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EditorAndPerks wrote a review...

Hey Lightsong!

I'm very happy to see the second part of this, and I hope you keep the updates coming!

First off, this chapter is intriguing because I keep trying to think of what these elements could mean, and who the old man is. And it's fun following along with Khalid since he's about as clueless as the reader is as to what the bigger picture is, going along with his current situation and current surroundings.

A quote I'd like to discuss first is

It was such an odd sight -- where did the warrior got his Armour, anyway? It didn't look modern -- too medieval, in fact.
Yes, there's a typo in which "got" should be "get" but I don't really do grammar reviews. Sorry. Here, I want to point out something good and something you can build on. I like the personal reflection here, especially with the hyphen since you can bring out Khalid's natural questioning of something that makes no sense. However, this comment specifically draws me to a question of my own. Is this set in the twenty-first century then? Khalid never references a phone or the web or anything that points glaringly out to me as modern. This comment by him makes me think recent times now, but I was wondering about that for a while. Maybe drop a line about him missing something from his home that would be more modern? If you already established the time period, then ignore this. I could definitely be missing something.

Another question I have is on
scattered from a blanket that seemed to be those resources before they became like this.
You're saying that the supplies were originally blankets, right? At least I hope that's right since it did take me a moment to visualize that. That's a cool way of hinting at magical influence even without the old man saying there's more that meets the eye.

A second line I want to draw attention to is
but her smile, not quite reaching her ear, looked sinister.
This whole paragraph gave me a creepy vibe, but you have a chance to capitalize on that eeriness even more with this last sentence for a few reasons. By piecing this out, "her smile" could evolve into something like "her mouth lifted to bare sparkly teeth." You can add more description to make this woman seem even less real. I'd say to either modify "reaching her ear" to "her blank eyes" or even "dark eyes" since eyes typically can be seen more scary/freaky than ears, but to each their own! Finally, with "looked sinister" I kind of think you could delete that part, since you show it with the past details in this paragraph. Honestly, you could end this with "Khalid had to drag his gaze away from the terrifying creature" to really ram the readers with "creepiness" but that's more writer's preference.

Overall, I like this second part and the way it adds more to the "what the heck can this forest mean?" idea. The new characters are very interesting since now I'm trying to find a hidden message with the women alongside the two fighting men. This deserves the genre of mystery, huh? Khalid was a little quiet in his narrative, but his descriptions still engaged his character and got the reader involved as well. Nicely done. I hope this review helped!

Find wonder in the everyday, find everyday language to articulate it.
— Maurice Manning