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Awakening Chapter 21: Immunity

by Otterpop


As sore as he was, Blake crawled forward a little and swiped the scythe with both hands. He then stood, albeit slowly and with very shaky legs. And even then Puter still stared at his own hand.

Blake slowly walked around, searching for some kind of angle or point of attack. It was then he noticed some blood on Puter's fingers, but no cuts or wounds. The skin on his hands and arms still remained black, and the veil swirled around the hand upon which Puter stared. The shroud darkened, and thickened, but the shocked expression did not leave his face.

Some seconds after Blake actually stood, the shroud around Puter's hand disappeared, and he clenched his fist. Now he looked in Blake's direction; his now creased brows and pulled lips carried nothing but pure contempt.

"There's more to you than meets the eye," said Puter as he slowly advanced forward. "If your very blood is granted protection from my blight, you are more deeply marked than I initially anticipated."

His own blood protected him? How did that even work, and what did that even mean? And this blight...did he refer to whatever power he had to make people sick?

No, there wasn't time to think about that! Luckily Puter did not take advantage of Blake's distractedness in that moment, which gave the latter a second to brace and prepare.

"You could become a legitimate threat. Meaning I must deal with you at once."

The menacing tone behind those words was unmistakable. But Puter focused on him more intensely this time. Blake bent his legs, ready to charge when the moment was right.

Fight back.

The voice threw him off, for it was not his own inner conscience. It was...something else.

If you can gravely wound him, you have a chance to protect them all.

Blake fought the desire to look around in confusion. But something, or someone, was trying to communicate with him. But who, and why?

Puter charged forward without warning. Suddenly, he disappeared. Blake didn't think and allowed his body to move in it's own way, which at that time was to the left. Then Puter appeared on his left, and a panicked Blake jumped back just before Puter's claws could graze his skin. Blake swung the scythe out and around, with as much force as he could without losing his balance. If he blindly attacked like he did earlier, he would definitely be in trouble.

The voice had told him to injure his aggressor. Did that mean it was possible?

Puter quickly made the next move by reaching forward with his claws, and Blake managed to jump back out of the way. The moment Puter charged in for another swipe, Blake could not dodge in time and about yelped as a sharp stinging overcame his left upper arm. A tiny bit of warmth trickled down his skin, and Puter pulled back in preparation of another attack.

Instinctively and with all his determination before him, Blake pushed with all his might and jumped backwards away from Puter.

When he stopped he realized he was at least ten feet away from his assailant. Surprised, he stared down at his feet with wide eyes. How did I do that?

A small grunt later Blake returned to the fight. He stepped back as Luter reached out with an open hand, sharp fingertips targeted at the teen's face. Blake gripped the scythe with both hands and pushed it out and forward, stopping his attacker by blocking his abdomen from moving any closer. But Puter's dark fingers immediately wrapped themselves around the middle of the staff, and proceeded to pull.

Blake was yanked along with the weapon in one moment, and a tightened fist plunged into his abdomen in the next. Despite his breathe being all but gone for a few seconds, he would not let go.

Instead Blake pulled the end of the staff towards himself, and pushed the blade forward with the other hand. Puter was forced to release his grip and block the blade with his arm.

Yes!

The blade made contact, but its momentum had completely halted. Blake gaped in shock as his attacker looked unfazed at having to block such a sharp weapon with his bare arm alone.

"Your strengths borderline on the pathetic. You will have to try much harder to injure the likes of me."

Blake kicked Puter away as the latter ducked down for another attack. Not that his foot did anything; Puter barely budged and he already was pushing off the ground.

What ensued was a continuous blocking spree on Blake's part. While Puter could only land a few minor attacks, Blake had no opportunity to counter. The panic slowly settled in once more. He just stopped the scythe with his arm! I thought I could beat this guy but he's practicallyindestructible! If he can do that how could I do anything else?

Puter's speed gave him an advantage, as he reached around with precision and sunk his clawed fingers into Blake's right shoulder. He winced and grunted loudly, and Puter sunk his fingers even deeper. Blake lost his grip with his right hand as the man pierced his flesh more and more with every passing second. He couldnt hold back a yowl of pain any longer, and for a moment he again noticed the dark shroud surrounding his attacker's hand as well as his own shoulder. Blake tried to swing the scythe his left hand, but the pathetic attempt was easily stopped.

"How are you protected?"

Puter tossed him aside, not bothering to wait for a response. His bare skin scraped against the rough gravel, and despite the awful throbbing it left, he wasted no time to stand up with shaky legs.

Meanwhile, disbelief and a contorted hatred covered Puter's face, forcing Blake to keep up his guard but finding it painful to do so. Slowly the stranger approached him.

"It's simply not human," Puter growled. "Physical attacks affect you, but my illness does nothing. Your blood has no right to possess such resistance."

There it was again. Blake still did not know why his blood of all things was somehow immune to the ill-creating effects of this man's touch. He wished he knew why, but he only guessed that it was one of the only things keeping him alive right now...

Wait. If his blood protected him, could he potentially give that ability to someone else?

It wasn't a fully thought out plan, but he had a new goal in mind in a fraction of a second. Blake slowly walked, not towards Puter but rather around him. His adversary narrowed his eyes but neither advanced faster on the other, nor did Puter turn his body or head. Blake continued circling, until he was far enough in Puter's periphery that the man twisted suddenly and raced right towards him.

Blake ran, but in the direction opposite of his assailant. After a sharp inhale, recalling the same momentary instinct from earlier, Blake faced his opponent, and jumped back with all his might. It worked, as the gap between them had grown a fair amount. This allowed Blake to very carefully position the scythe, and with all his strength and power he pulled it above his own head and down with speed and ferocity. His hands close to the end gave him a larger range as he swung the blade down...in the same instance Puter was close enough.

The man stopped and jumped back and sideways right as the scythe's tip pierced the gravel. Adrenaline coursed through him as Blake quickly and forcefully pulled it out of the ground, and immediately spun around. His actual target now stood mere feet in front of him. The large four-legged Shadow there did not expect his approach, and attempted to reach down. Infuriated, Blake shouted in the same instance that he swung as hard as he could, catching its neck and shoulder before it could touch the figure below.

The tears were sufficient enough. The dark creature collapsed with a grating screech, and its jaws reached outward. Blake plunged the blade tip of his weapon into its head, and it began to disintegrate alongside its consciousness.

Blake took a moment and looked at Puter as he pulled the scythe up and out. The man grabbed his own forearm, a slightly pained look on his face. I didnt look like he bled, but Blake was certain there was an injury somewhere.

Having found his brief window, Blake turned around and knelt.

"June?"

He forced himself not to panic as June's chest did rise and fall, though barely. As carefully as he could, Blake turned June so she lay on her back, and propped her head up so it rested on his legs. His own face surely turned pale at the sight of his best friend's white and listlessness. With two fingers placed at her neck he felt her heartbeat. Slow, and most-assuredly weak. A few lines of dried blood stained her chin and cheeks, and she appeared thinner than ever akin to that of an emaciated corpse.

A week of time had done this to her, a lively and healthy spirit reduced to what he now saw before him. Everything about this terrified him...and at the same time it enraged him more than anything else in his life. He should feel helpless, and in a way he did. But an idea kept the hope flickering in his mind, one carrying only a small chance of success.

He had nothing left to lose though.

"June, please," he begged. "You still have strength, I know you do. You've always been the strongest and brightest of all of us..."

"You think she has a chance," Puter laughed nearby. "Humans are always weak and fragile to my power."

Blake did not hesitate to shut out the annoying voice. Instead, he looked down at his right wrist; the back of it bore small scratches, nothing serious, but enough that blood droplets seeped out. He looked back at June; his heart skipped one beat after another, and his stomach churned.

"This is so crazy," he said, not sure if he spoke to himself or his unconscious best friend. "But if my blood protects me...I have to believe it'll protect you, too."

With that, Blake set the back of his hand gently on her mouth.


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Wed Jun 22, 2022 8:57 pm
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi Otterpop,

Mailice back with another review! :D

I'll pick up where I left off. Because I see that apart from the chapter name and the revelation that Blake's blood is special, it's just a continuation of the fight. I think you've continued to prove here that you create very good descriptions that definitely elevate the action here. That's why I'm skipping over some of the things that caught my eye. That's why this review is a bit shorter.

It was then he noticed some blood on Puter's fingers, but no cuts or wounds.


I think there has to be a comma after the "then", otherwise it reads strangely. I initially thought that "when" should be there.

The voice threw him off, for it was not his own inner conscience. It was...something else.


Again, we got a brief glimpse of Blake and the development I talked about earlier. Blake has these moments that lead to him understanding himself better or at least finding an answer. I thought it was particularly well done here because it's not exactly in a difficult situation (compared to the full fight), but at a moment when Blake least thought about it.

Then Puter appeared on his left, and a panicked Blake jumped back just before Puter's claws could graze his skin. Blake swung the scythe out and around, with as much force as he could without losing his balance. If he blindly attacked like he did earlier, he would definitely be in trouble.


Here is the only part where I think you need to rewrite or rephrase it a bit, because it reads a bit weaker compared to the rest. Because I had to read through this section a second time and I was unsure how you could change it. But I think it also has to do with the fact that you start with a "Then Puter", which kind of makes me feel like we're in a competition or football game here. :)

I thought I could beat this guy but he's practicallyindestructible!


Tiny, missing spot here.

Wait. If his blood protected him, could he potentially give that ability to someone else?


I found this interjection from the neutral narrator a bit striking, and just because it's good forshadowing for the later cliffhanger in this chapter, I think you could make it not so obvious, maybe just a "wait, this means..." and create a train of thought from Blake.

Overall, it's a good continuation where it's established that Blake isn't giving up and also his sort of "secret weapon" comes into play. I think especially with the conclusion of the chapter you manage to bring the focus to the next point.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




Otterpop says...


Thanks again Mailice! You're definitely an awesome reviewer. Pointing out that I was good with description and action is actually very reassuring since I was under the assumption that writing active or action scenes was one of my weaker qualities. Maybe I'm not quite giving myself enough credit...? I don't know.

And ohhhh, you make a good point with the potential foreshadowing! Even if it's not too far of foreshadowing it might still be a lot more interesting for the reader. Along with the other little things you noticed I think I will definitely edit those parts a little.

Thanks a ton!



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Mon Jun 06, 2022 10:38 pm
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SalisRuinen wrote a review...



Hey! Salis here with another review!!

I'd like to apologize for reading this chapter so late and I know there are a few more chapters to catch up on, but I promise I'll get to them as soon as I can. Now, on with the review!

This chapter in my opinion had the perfect balance of the holy trinity: fighting, strategy and shocking revelations, each of them affecting the other. And it's just great to see Blake has finally found something that can at least even things out against Puter, if not turn the tide of the battle in his favor.

If this blood indeed protects him from the effects of his enemy's blight and can be used to protect others in the same manner, I'd wager other applications of it will be found as well in time. And along with those applications more mysteries will arise, which is something I always look forward to. My attention was mainly focused on the fight during this chapter, however.

The reader is given another great display of how poweful Puter really is here as you showed that Blake's legs that can now jump over great distances can't make Puter even budge by kicking him. He was also able to take the scythe's blade head-on and remain unaffected, so his defences are truly formidable. On top of that he can move really fast and clearly has a great deal of battle experience, so he just keeps solidifying his position as a truly overwhelming opponent and I love it!

Keeping in mind how the changes of the flow of the battle would affect Blake was also a great move on your part, showing the glimpses of hope he felt in the midst of all the despair to make things more dynamic even on a psychological evel. The greatest of these changes was him getting the idea to try and test his blood's protective effects on someone else, turning his attention to an easier opponent – the Shadow holding June prisoner.

While eliminating that Shadow will not really bring the boy any closer to defeating Puter, if he successfully provides protection for June from the blight, he will be able to direct his full attention toward ensuring the demise of the villain. Also, considering this has been going on for a while now, Puter ought to feel at least a little bit of exhaustion. Maybe that can be exploited to create an opening and allow Blake to gravely wound him as the voice the protagonist heard in his head told him. That's what I'm hoping for, anyway.

Thanks for yet another great chapter! Keep at it!!




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Wed Jun 01, 2022 12:15 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi again, Otterpop! Lim here with a short review.

My first impression of this chapter is that wow, that blood thing was unexpected! I thought this was going to be an action-only chapter or somehow similar to the previous one, but maybe the title should have clued me in, haha.

What I noticed about Blake is that his thought processes in this battle are still smart and strategic, even though he’s in a crazy situation and under a lot of pressure, which is an admirable trait to see in a protagonist, especially one so young. Sometimes, when Blake is observing things, like he does with Puter early on in the chapter, I think it gets hard to pace events smoothly? For instance, when Blake is observing the blood on Puter, it’s kind of like he’s at a standstill for a long time, where he could be moving around trying to get some distance or move towards his next attack. The first paragraph from “Blake hadn’t noticed it before . . .” doesn’t have this effect, but when the observation stretches into being two paragraphs long, and then Puter is the one to do the next action, it does seem a little to me like Blake is frozen.

But Puter's dark fingers immediately wrapped themselves around the middle of the staff, and proceeded to pull.
Blake was yanked along with the weapon in one moment, and a tightened fist plunged into his abdomen in the next. Despite his breathe being all but gone for a few seconds, he would not let go.
Instead Blake pulled the end of the staff towards himself, and pushed the blade forward with the other hand. Puter was forced to release his grip and block the blade with his arm.

This part stood out to me on my first read-through. I thought it was a really good action sequence. It’s a unique motion that makes sense and also conveys the impact perhaps of Puter’s strength in comparison to Blake. Even though Blake manages to defend himself here, he still seems like the underdog/ ‘small guy’ in the fight, which keeps the continuity from the previous chapter.

Puter comes across as a kind of theatrical and cruel villain. I like that he’s presented as a threat (I think I might have talked about this before), and the way he threatens the town on such a large scale, because it raises the stakes and gets you invested in seeing Blake defeat him. I think you mentioned before that this book is meant to introduce us to Blake’s powers and the antags in a kind of mysterious way? Puter’s backstory is very mysterious indeed and raises all sorts of questions. I wonder if there’s also more to his personality, or perhaps another antagonist he is working for who is kept in the shadows.

Now I’m just going to nitpick the work here and there:

Blake bent his legs, ready to chatfe when the moment was right.

Did you mean ‘charge’?

His bare skin scraped against the rough gravel, and despite the awful throbbing it left, he waated no time to stand up with shaky legs.

Missed an ‘s’ in ‘wasted’ I think.

When he stopped he realized he was at least ten feet away from his assailant. Surprised, he stared down at his feet in surprise.

I think you might not have meant to use ‘surprise’ there twice?

"Physicl attacks affect you, but my illness does nothing. Your blood has no right to possess such resistance."

Missed an ‘a’ in ‘physical’ there.

"You still ha e strength, I know you do. You've always been the strongest and brightest of all of us..."

Missing a ‘v’ in ‘have’.

And this time I did notice you described Blake’s conjecture about his blood without using the word ‘immunity’ from the chapter title :D

Overall, I’m eager to see what will happen next. My guess is June will be helped somehow by the blood, but I wonder how the details of that will work and whether it will save her entirely. I like that there seems to be new twists in the plot in each chapter for the recent part, as that definitely keeps me engaged and wanting to read more.

Hope some of this helps, and feel free to ask for more feedback!
-Lim




Otterpop says...


As always you point out a lot of great things! I'll definitely be reading through your critique a few more times to really get the good stuff out of it. It's also wonderful to hear that you are still engaged this late in the story, and hopefully that continues even in the end!

And the "immunity" part of it I actually did not notice! Happy accident; but with the previous chapter it was just a planned detail that I thought would be a fun challenge to work around.

And thanks for the nitpicks! Gosh darnit, it's the little silly mistakes, but luckily those are easy fixes, appreciate you pointing them out.




Stupidity's the deliberate cultivation of ignorance.
— William Gaddis