Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Novel / Chapter » Fantasy

16+ Violence

Cat Steps Chapter 3.1

by Rosendorn


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for violence.

For those of you just joining us: Kerani is a counterassassin who has discovered a large plot that impacts her main source of information— underground crime— but her father is insisting she start to give up her counterassassin ways so she can get married.

- - - - -

I was quite happy not to see an anarkali suit delivered. I recalled many a time Ranya had tried to wear something more traditional to the Palahiras and her fabric choices had returned as Empire pieces. I supposed that was an advantage to marrying within the Palahiras— our own traditional outfits were acceptable.

Despite having found the merchant, I wasn’t allowed to go see them. Father didn’t want me killed before the date was announced. His paranoia was making me want to burst through his office door and lecture him for a change. If it had been a direct attack on him, he would spare nothing to make sure I could stop it. As it was, all I could do was rage and distract myself with family happenings.

Sometimes I needed reminders why I was doing this.

It was difficult, next to impossible even, to keep kindling bonds with my family when all they did was remind me Ranya wasn’t a part of it anymore. She’d lost her right to this land when she signed her contract. My parents kept telling me I was supposed to have loyalty to my family, because they wouldn’t leave like guards, but then my sister had been torn away from me and many other sisters were poised to marry outside of the family instead of in.

Then there was me, marrying within the family because of my own stubborn loyalty to an ideal I hated half of the time.

Loneliness was not an ache that got any easier to bear. Trying to forge new connections or maintain old ones only seemed to make it worse.

I dismissed my servants after they brought my makeup. I had too many poisons in this room to risk people in here. Finding the time to train these girls was low on my priority list. I also preferred keeping our observations of servants to those who assisted our actual scientists. Their servants were true lab assistants, and we could only do background checks on and keep tabs on the expenses of so many people. I made sure to pay mine particularly well so they wouldn’t be tempted by bribes. Not like they knew where I kept anything.

After today, I would be betrothed. I blinked away unexpected desire to cry, pressing a finger against my lash line to not disturb the pigment already applied on my lid. Betrothal was normal. Expected. I was late already. My heart didn’t matter, and this was a good alliance. I was picking a man I could sway, in a place I could rule.

Rajat’s face flashed in the mirror.

The roar of an avalanche filled my ears, world falling to white. Most days, most triggers, I could control garükh yunu. Not this one. Not when all I was trying to avoid was the thought Suraj could befall the same fate, that anyone I loved intensely was nothing more than a weakness that could be used against me. I didn’t want to live a loveless life. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I didn’t know which desire was stronger.

I had no choice but to get betrothed.

Why couldn’t he see how weak it would make me? He was the one who told me how loving outside men would compromise my operations. He had forced me to stay single. Forced Rajat away so I could learn my lesson. Forced all of my friends away so I could learn my lesson. Only let Aydin and Sakari nearby because no other guard was skilled enough while also being free enough to follow me around the city. The more senior guards were too busy with the scientists, or my parents.

Chandi tried to offer something, at one point. All I could do was shove her away. She was pregnant, I worked with poisons. Nitika tried to come in. I pushed her away for the same reason.

Finally, Jalil came. “I swear, if this is how I find out she’s pregnant…”

I paused and laughed, sound transitioning into a sob. “I’m good at my job?”

He pulled a soft white cloth from the spread of makeup and wiped the tear streaks off my cheeks. “You are. And I will defend your right to do it with my dying breath.”

I cried into my hands to not stain his white shirt. The worst tears always came when they would ruin something. Part of me wanted to ruin this, but not his part in it. Not when he’d done so much for me. I wanted to stay close to the family just to protect him while I still could, before he’d become the family ambassador to the Empire and our older brother would return to rule.

The Empire kept taking everyone I loved and here I was trapped within the family by my own will because I couldn’t be myself anywhere else, and I was about to lose that, too.

Struggling to breathe panic. Great.

Eventually, I calmed down enough I could stop shaking, stop babbling everything that I was worried about to Jalil and hearing platitudes about how he wouldn’t let my worst fears about this marriage happen.

He rubbed my arms. “Nitika’s gotten makeup ready in our suite, if you want her to do it.”

I nodded and followed him into their room. Nitika was, indeed, ready with makeup— powders and creams in my favourite colours laid out on her vanity. I smiled at that, slightly.

“My cycle is two days late and already you’re keeping me away from the potential of poison,” she said with a thinly-veiled grin. “You’re ridiculous.”

Now, I laughed. “You know the one rule about my room is nobody who could get hurt goes in there.”

“You’re worse than the alchemists…”

Familiar jabbing just left an equally familiar ache in my heart; whether or not I’d get to keep my instruments. Everything I had been trying to ignore for years kept threatening to spill over.

Nitika dampened a cloth to properly wash khol streaks off my skin. “If he refuses, send him to Jalil. I would offer, but if he’s that incorrect with how he sees Empire women I doubt he would listen to me.”

Jalil smiled as he watched. “I’ve already offered. Maybe I should pay him a visit. Make sure he’s kept up with his education so he can match you.”

“He’s heir to running the city,” I said, pressing my fingers to my lashes to catch another wash of tears. “He should. He’s probably better than me.”

Jalil shook his head. “I dare the Empire to find somebody better than you at what you do.”

I swallowed. “Don’t spread that. They might decide to test it and discover I’m best used elsewhere.”

He smoothed a hand over my hair, grabbing a brush to comb it. “I had hoped to reassure you with that…”

The self-deprecating grumble brought the smallest laugh to my throat. “In a sense it is, but you know better than I do how the Empire takes the best for itself.”

He snorted. “That should be a compliment, how much they’ve taken from us.”

I had ignored thoughts about Ranya’s marriage, for how they had been so tied up with my own. Once she had been married, I was free to be married. I hadn’t been allowed to be distracted while she was in danger— I had lost too many nights to stopping assassination attempts, practically living in her suite, her practically living in mine— and now I was expected to live a lifetime of distractions.

I was going to be yelled at for lateness, for how much I was crying. Nitika’s eyes were watering in empathy, her own emotions difficult to keep in check. Teary-eyed betrotheds were common enough. I didn’t need to add to them.

That thought finally snapped me out of it and I worked on both coming up with an excuse and lowering the redness to my eyes. Happiness could be manufactured relatively easily— I was happy I had picked somebody I could manipulate, and I was happy I could move to the city to be closer to my informants.

That would do.

Jalil added flowers to my hair, braiding some parts across my scalp with gold chains, weaving them in with jasmine vine down the length and adding hibiscus at the end and nape of my neck. Nitika brushed black along my lash line, the end extending towards my temple. Simple. Traditional. I hardly wore jewellery except for a tiered necklace and a jeweled dagger. I had only gotten the barest amount of henna done on my hands. I looked more like a guard bride than the Crown Princess’ younger sister. I wanted to remind people they could not remove my former life so easily.

A brewing headache let me know I was late. Father was dragging my attention to Suraj waiting in one of the private meeting rooms, and the food that was now at risk of being overdone. I closed off any potential heartache and fear to adjust my scarf draped like a mock sari. Everything about my costume from the gold trim to the deep red for brides was too fine to be anything but noble; everything about how I wore it was too common to be. Sometimes I liked reminding people who I was.

And Father could do absolutely nothing about it.

Jalil paused in the mirror to add the diamond broach to his saffron turban, a servant handing him his matching vest with silver embroidery in snow leopard print. He looked every inch a Palahira; understated but crisp, his clothing the colours of a topaz on snow.

Nitika went to get ready herself, not needing to be out for at least another hour, her favourite servant slipping into the room, while Jalil and I went to the private sitting room for important Palahira functions. Father was already there. He hadn’t screened my outfits in years, me a shadow in the background as the rest of court mingled with Imperial representatives, and me being able to stop an assassin more important than how I looked.

The look on his face almost made me regret not showing him. Almost.

Suraj, to his credit, looked pleased with me. He hadn’t seen me dress up for years, and I was rather pleased to see he was in more traditional garb, himself. His turban was deep orange with fine threads of silver woven in, beard trimmed much like Jalil wore his. He still wore hints of blue like the Empire wanted, but it was limited to embroidery in a peacock feather pattern.

Hopefully, that was the full extent the Empire exerted its influence on him. I knew how close to treason I was walking, believing this. I had grown up seeing the cost of independence sentiments. I still refused to be another gem in the Empire’s crown. Wife of the city magistrate would do me very well, politically. That was what I told myself. Hopefully I would believe it eventually.

Father sat on Suraj’s side. I tried not to show my unease he was there instead of at the head of the table, with Suraj having his own independent representative. He’d never run the contract by me. How much input had Suraj received already? How much had Father told him this was for the best?

I sat on the provided cushions, unsure if I was slightly lower just because I was shorter, or if my cushions were thinner.

Father began, only giving Jalil and I a glance long enough to be polite, addressing Suraj. “I am so sorry for the delays. We had to ensure only the best person would be so close to the Imperial throne, for how Rayna was selected. We had to sort through many other offers before deciding on yours. We decided that despite the higher offers from the Empire it was best that at least one child stay within the family.”

“So I can keep protecting you,” I replied. “I selected you to ensure I could continue protecting those who need me, allowing us to remain the stronghold we currently are.”

Suraj gave a smile that almost looked relieved, emotions just barely betraying him. “How many assassinations have you stopped in the past year? It’s been awhile since I’ve received a count.”

“I believe I’m at seven.”

His eyes widened. “Part of me would like to know why the numbers remain quite this high…”

I glanced at Father simmering with rage, keeping my emotions under lock. “Do keep in mind this does include the last few attempts on Ranya. And I have a fortunate habit of dismantling plots before they have a chance to arise.”

He nodded. “True enough. I am quite glad this betrothal is coming into fruition, with a track record such as yours.”

I smiled at the flattery and my current position. Credentials established, the little clauses that guaranteed children out of me and insisted my realm would be inside the palaces were quickly weeded out, Jalil drafting a fresh contract that included such little things as exempting me should the Empire sanction women-only suites under the belief palace women were best left unseen. While I knew the political potential of those suites, I preferred to exert politics outside these walls.

Father tried not to glare, only directing his anger as white hot needles into my skin. I’d gotten practice tuning them out, never quite daring to stop him from sending them just to give the illusion he had some grips over me.

Suraj looked over the contract, teasing gleam in his eye. “This contract contains more clauses than our merchant agreements.”

I matched his expression. “I’m more valuable than a merchant.”

What I kept hidden deep down under wards of my own creation— wards I used to hide my own involvement with the nobles, relying on power only a handful of people in the palace held that only they could break if they matched my training— was how I had changed every instance of wife to spouse. It was the only way I felt comfortable entering marriage at all. I wasn’t blessed as a woman, and I couldn’t go against that blessing. Not for something as significant as a wedding. I just hoped they didn’t ask about it.

Father looked it over, next. My own contract, worded in such a way it looked like a simple wedding agreement but gave me more freedom to act in ways I knew would help. He kept murmuring to Suraj with frustration radiating off him just enough I could sense it. Suraj met whatever he said with confusion, far more expressive than he should’ve been. I’d have to work on that.

Suraj signed it, handing the fountain pen to Father with an insistant air. I kept my smirk at his squirming internal.

He signed it.

I won.

Suraj seemed at least partially oblivious to why I was feeling pleased. He escorted me to the celebratory dinner, kissing my hand as we entered on the raised platform given to nobles. The view was different from here— I had entered the floor level door of servants so much, to not draw attention to my watchful activities, I had forgotten what it was like to look over everyone.

Cheering for me.

My weight shifted to the balls of my feet, boots pressing into marble to ground myself. Those who cheered for a corination would cheer for an execution, and I knew just how many people wanted the second scenario to come to pass for me. I kept my gaze cool as I looked over the crowd, meeting the eyes of Father’s key advisors in particular. Letting them know without words or emotions that I could ruin them if I so chose, and this was not an opportunity to silence me.

I still ruled them, and I made sure I would continue to do so. The crowd hushed as we stepped down, taking our place beside Father to Suraj’s side, and Jalil to mine. Nitika looked stunning beside her husband, decorated in gold and light peach— a striking contrast against her medium brown skin. I kept an eye on her as dinner was served, but nothing about her meal choice was unusual. Perhaps I had been wrong this time.

Kathak dancers entered the open space between tables, the tinkling of ghungroos and hollow clanking of wood against granite the overreaching sound. Chatter died as they began tuning their instruments, the dancers already going through their full-body prayer for stamping the Earth with their feet.

They began with a prayer to Palanhaar, the warrior who protected this land, acting out the battle he fought to banish demons from this valley and establish his home in a peak only accessible if you pass the palace and the temple. Slapping of feet and the steady rhythm of drums grounded me, the story familiarly enchanting. The dancer representing Palanhaar glared at the demon while miming a spear thrust, the other doubling back to the beat of the music before beginning to spin on their heel, each slap making Palanhaar recoil from the demon’s strength before beginning to spin himself, the tabla and sitar growing louder and louder with each rotation.

They moved on to a piece focusing on Sandhin’s exploits and I smiled that the dancers had spent enough time at Sandhin’s temple to know I had been blessed there, instead. Dancers representing the nobles and the working people were both joined by the ever-shifting Sandhin, their costume not quite fitting with anyone but closer enough they were welcomed as family. The dancers didn’t act out any exploits for my own safety— Sadhin was also known as the god of spies, in this region.

Janani’s dance I hardly paid attention to, not because it wasn’t stunning, but because I had been resting long enough. Being at ease too long had nearly cost too many people their lives. Even if there was nothing, it wasn’t worth relaxing.

Nothing continued throughout dinner, throughout the music beginning and everyone standing to dance, throughout into the scholars demonstrating their latest invention in the moonlight— coloured sparks.

Nothing.

I had felt nothing before.

This was not nothing.

This was empty.

“What is it, my love?”

I raised one finger to Suraj, attention on the dark outside of the crowd. People still flowed along the paths like water in a canal, multiple exhibits established along the garden paths to show what advancements could be made under my rule.

He took my hand, trying to placate me in a blanket of softness. “I’m sure we’ll all be safe for one night.”

“You told me that the last time I saved your life,” I replied quietly, squeezing his hand in a bid to have him release me.

He sighed. “I want to protect you from this. Can’t you leave it to the guards?”

I shook my head, pushing his ill-fitting desire to coddle me far away. “Your wants have no place in politics, my love. The guards can’t do what I do, and both of us know it.”

He cooled, emotions more like a glass knife than ice. “I would like a wife, eventually.”

I kept my expression neutral, my own countenance equally cool. No sense in tipping my hand for what he had signed just yet. That was for later, when my house was in proper order. “You will get a protector, politician, and an unquestioned rein. Would you rather have safety or love from your first wife?”

He blinked. “So you expect me—”

My dagger slid out of its sheath towards emptiness trying to wrap around me. Hollow chimes of metal-on-ward. A glint of light out of the corner of my eye indicating a needle.

Suraj grabbed my arm. Anger exploded inside me, shoving everyone away. My attacker remained stubbornly stayed put. Screams turned to yelled orders in multiple languages. I only paid attention to the words no other noble would understand.

Duck. Arrow whistling. Cracked ward.

Another.

I drove my dagger into his leg and leapt back.

Light shattered around him before he fell, arrows peppering his back and neck.

My own energy flowed along my skin with hyper-awareness, pushing something out of a scrape in my arm. The ward under my skin healed itself, my eyes closing as more sticky-warm blood soaked into fabric. Before I was ready to acknowledge my surroundings, a tap on my shoulder had me swat someone’s hand away.

Anger pressing down on me— followed by two protective bubbles— drew my attention to my surroundings. Ihit and Neha were the source of one layer of protection against Father, while Suraj was the other. Neha came forward to help me up, her grip firm on my arm.

“Do you need a Guard healer?”

I nodded, responding in the language of guards more easily than I could remember the language of nobles. “And my clothes taken so I can test them.”

What drew me back to my mother tongue was a heated conversation between Suraj and Father.

“She shocked you!”

Suraj was cool and flinty. “I put her in danger.”

Maybe I had picked better than I thought. “I’m going to the healers.”

Suraj glared at Father before backing my retreat.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
423 Reviews


Points: 215
Reviews: 423

Donate
Thu Jul 05, 2018 12:10 am
View Likes
Vervain wrote a review...



Hey Rosey~ I'm back! Back again!

Let's start off with the good stuff this time! Because there's a lot of it in this part (and the next) and I really love what you're doing with this.

. His paranoia was making me want to burst through his office door and lecture
him for a change. If it had been a direct attack on him, he would spare nothing to make sure I could stop it.
Just a really good show of Kerani's character, I think. She's bold and doesn't like people telling her what to do and she's fed up with her father, and this does a good job of showing her as determined to do her job right -- and him getting in the way.

The whole part about the garükh yunu is just plain good writing <3 Obviously it can be difficult to write about things like PTSD, especially if you're coding them PTSD and don't have the modern language to lean on when explaining things to readers. But I think you get it across really well what garükh yunu is as well as how it interacts with the rest of Kerani's world and her life. It also doesn't read like a trauma that's just been slapped on her for the sake of a traumatic backstory -- it has purpose to her life and her character.

I hardly wore jewellery except for a tiered necklace and a jeweled dagger. I had only gotten the barest amount of henna done on my hands. I looked more like a guard bride than the Crown Princess’ younger sister. I wanted to remind people they could not remove my former life so easily.
I love how you tie in Kerani's clothing choices to her status -- I mean, I love her clothing description in general.

Actually, all the descriptions of the clothing are absolutely wonderful. I love Kerani's clothes and Jalil's and Nitika's and I want like, a book of illustrations of all the clothing in this because I'm sure the everyday clothing is just as impressive as the special-occasion wear -- I want to see all of it (though obviously there's situations where that's not practical lol).

That Kerani was blessed under Sandhin! Obviously we've been informed in the last couple chapters that she leans away from the traditional identity of women in her world, and that she's frustrated being third-gender isn't exactly open to her as an option because of her social status. I'm really digging it honestly, for obvious reasons and just plain because it's so cool to read third-gender protagonists <3

I'll move on now to some of the grammar and style stuff!

I dismissed my servants after they brought my makeup. I had too many poisons in this room to risk people in here. Finding the time to train these girls was low on my priority list. I also preferred keeping our observations of servants to those who assisted our actual scientists. Their servants were true lab assistants, and we could only do background checks on and keep tabs on the expenses of so many people. I made sure to pay mine
particularly well so they wouldn’t be tempted by bribes. Not like they knew where I kept anything.
This paragraph feels a little sparse to me. I think it could be split into three paragraphs with another sentence or two -- the first, on how Kerani doesn't train her servants; the second, on how the good servants were reserved for the scientists to work as lab expenses; the third, on how Kerani pays her servants well. These are all related ideas but they're not quite the same, and I think that confuses my head when I'm trying to look at this paragraph.

Struggling to breathe panic. Great.
I want to feel more of the tightness in Kerani's chest and how her breath doesn't hit the bottom of her lungs and I'd love to see more of her physical and emotional reactions. Even just a line before she realizes to herself that it's a struggling-to-breathe panic.

I had ignored thoughts about Ranya’s marriage, for how they had been so tied up with my own.
This sentence is a little confused. Maybe split it up, again, into separate ideas (I had ignored thoughts... They had been so tied up with my own.)

Father sat on Suraj’s side.
At first you don't mention the table so I'm slightly confused as to the place-setting when we're walking into the room. Maybe just a quick mention here -- "Father sat on Suraj's side of the table" -- would clear up some of that.

Those who cheered for a corination [coronation] would cheer for an execution
just another simple typo here <3

I had felt nothing before.
This was not nothing.
This was empty.
“What is it, my love?”
I raised one finger to Suraj, attention on the dark outside of the crowd.
I'd love to get a little more physical description of Suraj next to Kerani -- since she's feeling the empty, she really should be relying on her closer senses like sight, hearing, etc. (though it would be cool for her to realize that she'd cut those off somewhat in her reliance on sensing magic). But right here, with Kerani feeling the threat of emptiness, even just tossing a line of "Suraj stood at my shoulder" or something could give us a physical sense of bearing here.

“She shocked you!”
Suraj was cool and flinty. “I put her in danger.”
Maybe I had picked better than I thought. “I’m going to the healers.”
Suraj glared at Father before backing my retreat.
I actually love this exchange a lot! It further establishes Kerani's character -- and your follow-up in the next scene helps establish Suraj. I just wish there was more to it, I know I've pointed out a lot of stuff like this but I'd love to experience Kerani's world, not just see it from a distance through a foggy lens. This is something I think could be great with another line or two thrown in to give it space.

And to round out the review, some character and setting stuff!

I had only gotten the barest amount of henna done on my hands.
Yes more of this! I know you're coding everything super well but I would love a mention of whoever did the henna clucking that she should have more, and Kerani being insistent that this was all she wanted, it's her wedding, etc. etc. Or even a description of the henna style -- do the Palahiras have a particular style their henna is done in that's different from surrounding regions, if the other regions have henna too? Does the Empire do henna, and if so, how is Kerani's different? Etc.

I love your worldbuilding so much. I love your characters. I'm so so so excited to see where this story brings us! <3

Keep writing!




User avatar
1080 Reviews


Points: 125
Reviews: 1080

Donate
Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:16 am
View Likes
Kaylaa wrote a review...



Hi there again Lima Bean! This is Nikayla here dropping in for a review. I would've gotten here sooner but I forgot about maintenance and only finished one review before that happened. I enjoy that the summary at the beginning of the chapter is put into use here! That's a first. Nice refresher. Anyway, let's jump right in.

I was quite happy not to see an anarkali suit delivered. I recalled many a time Ranya had tried to wear something more traditional to the Palahiras and her fabric choices had returned as Empire pieces. I supposed that was an advantage to marrying within the Palahiras— our own traditional outfits were acceptable.


First, wow I forgot how bright this box is and second, both 'had' and 'was' are used twice in this first paragraph, making for a bit of awkward wording. Not only that, Palahiras is repeated as well and there's a teensy bit of a stumble over words. With editing I can see this being a stronger opening paragraph to the chapter.

My hate for the word 'was' is possibly contributing to this, but I found the word to be repeated quite a bit in the first couple paragraphs. I also wanted to point out another paragraph where the same is doing with 'had' and I'll put that below.

I had ignored thoughts about Ranya’s marriage, for how they had been so tied up with my own. Once she had been married, I was free to be married. I hadn’t been allowed to be distracted while she was in danger— I had lost too many nights to stopping assassination attempts, practically living in her suite, her practically living in mine— and now I was expected to live a lifetime of distractions.


Moving on from that, I feel that the paragraph that touches on her family wanting Kerani to be loyal. The point of that Kerani's sisters were all taken away from her anyway and that Ranya is a bit of an outcast to the family now could've been done more effectively. I wanted to bring this up because this is a lovely argument to have. Kerani's told to be loyal when all of her sisters are being taken away from her. The concept can be impactful though the diction and execution is able to be improved.

Takes awhile for this chapter to delve into the dialogue, which I don't blame you for here. Still, there's this weird sort of narration in a way that throws me off. I'm in a love/dislike (I've never outright hated this element) relationship with the voice of Kerani? Or I've become more fond of when other characters are around to interact with Kerani. That being said, there's another element I wanted to bring up with that. The novel and the rest of the characters almost does seem to circle around her as the center.

At least, I care for Kerani most. I care for the other characters through Kerani and I haven't found a single one who I've thought to be stronger or more important. This isn't to say that the world is based on minimalism and we're only getting a glimpse of her life, because that's not true. There's more out there and there are more important people and events, but in whole, this is her story.

She also...cries a lot? I guess I'm a little confused because I've never been able to do that. Maybe once a week or once every two weeks (this is more likely than the former) at best is the most I'm able to actually cry though to say the truth, I'm probably only weirded out by this because I'm not able to cry that much. Then again, I am also not in her situation and most likely don't know that amount of pressure.

Ahhhh. We get to know more about Suraj in this chapter and his current relationship with both Kerani and her father. I found that to be the most interesting aspect here. He attempts to reassure her and he's the heir to running the city which is a little odd because I've never seen a novel where two are wed in this position. Suraj seems to want to help more passively and is neutral while Kerani wants to be in the action protecting her family.

Especially the end shows that this isn't exactly what he wants and instead he's looking for a more 'traditional' wife in a way. Kerani however, wants the opposite. The ends happens quite swiftly and now I am itching for another chapter, though I don't mind if that doesn't come for awhile. Still, that cliffhanger is a punch in the face where the knuckles break your noise. I agree with Sins that the ending can be clarified, but overall once again I am crushed by your lovely writing!

If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask! I hope I helped and have a great day.

Image




User avatar
1087 Reviews


Points: 44360
Reviews: 1087

Donate
Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:42 am
View Likes
Sins wrote a review...



Well, didn't I just take my merry old time?

Partly because it's been a while, and partly because I'm useless, my memory of where we left off with this is shocking. As such, if this review is a bit all over the place and... well, bad, I sincerely apologise. So yeah, just a heads up :P

I really loved this chapter/extract, seriously. I think a big reason for that is because it feels like we're properly getting to know Suraj, who thus far has been somewhat of an enigma, but here he's becoming a really fleshed out character. And I like him. Kerani's internal monologue here was pretty awesome too. I could feel how on edge she was towards the end of this, and her altering things to suit her instead of just throwing tantrums about having to marry is so badass. On the whole, this was just a really well written chapter. As this is her engagement party in effect (right? I hope I've not gotten the complete wrong end of the stick here), it's pretty important that this part is well written and exciting and stuff, so you go girl!

With critiques, as always, I don't have an awful lot to say. By which I mean I literally have one thing to mention. And there's a 90% chance that I'm just being dumb and forgetful. So yeah. At the beginning of this, Kerani mentioned her parents, and it kind of occurred to me that I don't remember ever meeting her mother? Or there being any mention of her really? Obviously, I may simply be an absolute idiot and simply can't remember the times we have met her, but if not, that's maybe something to think about. I'm assuming her lack of presence is likely to be to do with the patriarchal society Kerani finds herself in, and so her mother simply isn't super important, but methinks it could still be interesting to know more about her. But yeah, again, please just ignore this if I'm being a forgetful nonce.

Oh, something else I will note before I slither away is that I had to go back over the end of this to properly grasp what happened, and I'm still doubting myself slightly. I won't go on about this one because, again, probably just me being an idiot. Initially, I thought Kerani had attacked Suraj, and there was going to be anarchy. In case it isn't just me being an idiot, it may be worth making the events a little more clear? Just to avoid any further confusion on the part of losers like me.

Apologies again for taking me merry time with this. I would make up an excuse, but there isn't one. I'm literally just really lazy. I'm working on it though, I promise. Anywho, I hope I've been somewhat helpful, or just contributed something of some sort :P

Keep writing,

xoxo S(k)ins




Rosendorn says...


You haven't met her mom at all, because her mom is currently in the capital of the Empire helping Ranya with the wedding. I have not introduced this concept much if at all (trying to go minimalist with how much information I give which leads to Big Holes as evident lol), so it's something for the next draft to better introduce lol

And... Kerani sort of does attack Suraj? She attacks an assassin, but Suraj tries to pull her away to "protect" her and it breaks her focus, so she shoves everyone back empathetically and it doesn't work on the attacker. I'll have to think of how to do that.

This stuff is helpful for the overall draft planning! Because honestly at this point it's a mad dash of "oh riiiiight that thing I haven't introduced yet" and I'm still figuring out the plot as an overreaching entity xD



Sins says...


Ah, I see! That makes total sense. She doesn't need a massive presence or anything (I'd not expect that), just perhaps a few mentions here and there so no one has that 'oh crap, yeah, where's her mother?' moment. Hardly a big issue though!

Ohhhhh, yeah that makes complete sense now. Action scenes can generally be an ass to write, but I honestly reckon the majority of it is literally just me being dumb, so don't stress over it or anything.

But yus, I'm glad I'm not totally useless anyway!!



User avatar
13 Reviews


Points: 1755
Reviews: 13

Donate
Sun Jul 23, 2017 6:03 pm
Sourire wrote a review...



Bonjour, Rosendorn.

All criticism and comments on the writing are in the spoiler below.

Spoiler! :
Chandi tried to offer something, at one point. All I could do was shove her away. She was pregnant, I worked with poisons. Nitika tried to come in. I pushed her away for the same reason. The sentences here all change subject and are simple therefore they create a confusion because the thoughts don't flow together. Sometimes choppy writing can be better for the mood of a work such as a horror or thriller, but here it just doesn't fit, and leaves me rereading it to figure out what's going on because of the abrupt changes. They can easily be mended by making them compound or complex or compound complex.

Finally, Jalil came. “I swear, if this is how I find out she’s pregnant…”

I paused and laughed, sound transitioning into a sob. “I’m good at my job?”

He pulled a soft white cloth from the spread of makeup and wiped the tear streaks off my cheeks. “You are and I will defend your right to do it with my dying breath.”

Struggling to breathe panic. Great. "panic" is the object of "breathe" so although we know she's not "struggling to breathe panic" it sounds like that. Maybe you could reword it as "Panicking, I struggled to breathe" but even as that I believe there should be more description as to how she is reacting or feeling.

Eventually, I calmed down enough I could stop shakingstop babbling everything that I was worried about to Jalil and hearing platitudes about how he wouldn’t let my worst fears about this marriage happen.

That thought finally snapped me out of it, and I worked on both coming up with an excuse and lowering the redness to my eyes.

Wife of the city magistrate would do me very well, politically. The comma isn't necessary.

Father began, only giving Jalil and I a glance long enough to be polite, addressing Suraj. This could be worded less awkwardly as "Addressing Suraj, father began only giving Jalil and I a glance long enough to be polite."


Also, the spaces between the dashes and text aren't necessary, but I suppose you could leave them like that without doing any harm. I believe that's all as far as criticism goes.


I think I dearly like Kerani, I think her name is. She isn't the stereotypically badass princess in that she's the younger sister of Ranya, but also that she doesn't try to fight off her marriage but cleverly alters it. The whole idea of this story is very likeable, and the description, although there isn't much of it, is good enough that I can clearly see everything that's occurring.

They began with a prayer to Palanhaar, the warrior who protected this land, acting out the battle he fought to banish demons from this valley and establish his home in a peak only accessible if you pass the palace and the temple. Slapping of feet and the steady rhythm of drums grounded me, the story familiarly enchanting. The dancer representing Palanhaar glared at the demon while miming a spear thrust, the other doubling back to the beat of the music before beginning to spin on their heel, each slap making Palanhaar recoil from the demon’s strength before beginning to spin himself, the tabla and sitar growing louder and louder with each rotation.

They moved on to a piece focusing on Sandhin’s exploits and I smiled that the dancers had spent enough time at Sandhin’s temple to know I had been blessed there, instead. Dancers representing the nobles and the working people were both joined by the ever-shifting Sandhin, their costume not quite fitting with anyone but closer enough they were welcomed as family. The dancers didn’t act out any exploits for my own safety— Sadhin was also known as the god of spies, in this region.

Janani’s dance I hardly paid attention to, not because it wasn’t stunning, but because I had been resting long enough. Being at ease too long had nearly cost too many people their lives. Even if there was nothing, it wasn’t worth relaxing.


This was all very well done. I liked the dances and how you described them all. It lets the reader into the culture and traditions of the people we're reading and learning about and also relating with.

The only other comment I have is that I enjoyed this, and would like maybe a summary PMed to me so I can follow the story. It would be easier than trying to go back through all the chapters and reading them. Great story.

~Sourire




Rosendorn says...


Thanks for the review! I will PM you a chapter by chapter summary and some responses to this



User avatar
15 Reviews


Points: 1616
Reviews: 15

Donate
Sun Jul 02, 2017 12:52 am
View Likes
Shota wrote a review...



Hey just stopping by for a quick review! As I haven’t read the previous chapters I may be missing different nuances you are trying to portray, so take everything I say with a grain of salt and apply it as you see fit!

I recalled many a time Ranya had tried to wear something more traditional to the Palahiras and her fabric choices had returned as Empire pieces


This sentence was a bit confusing for me, especially the end part about them returning and empire pieces. I’m not sure if you are saying that she usually wears traditional clothes, but was using fabric for the Empire from it? Would just love a little more clarity in this?

My parents kept telling me I was supposed to have loyalty to my family, because they wouldn’t leave like guards, but then my sister had been torn away from me and many other sisters were poised to marry outside of the family instead of in.


The part in bold was odd to me and made little sense. It’s totally possible you are making a reference to something in this universe I am unaware of, but since guard isn’t capitalized I’m assuming it’s not a proper noun, and therefore don’t know how it relates? Especially since guards don’t usually leave, they stay to protect, I don’t know I was just confused.

I made sure to pay mine particularly well so they wouldn’t be tempted by bribes. Not like they knew where I kept anything.


Loved this insight into her mind, and that she is an intelligent person

I blinked away unexpected desire to cry, pressing a finger against my lash line to not disturb the pigment already applied on my lid.


I think it should be, “I blinked away the unexpected desire to cry

The roar of an avalanche filled my ears, world falling to white. Most days, most triggers, I could control garükh yunu.


Part of my confusion in this could easily be my lack of understanding for this colorful world you have created. The last sentence did feel disjointed to me however. I’m not sure if it should be, “Most days, most triggers, I could control the garukh yunu”, small distinction but it allows me to understand it is something specific. Not sure, just my opinion.

I paused and laughed, sound transitioning into a sob. “I’m good at my job?”


Should be “laughed, the sound” because it isn’t just “sound” in general but a specific sound that is transitioning.

I cried into my hands to not stain his white shirt. The worst tears always came when they would ruin something. Part of me wanted to ruin this, but not his part in it. Not when he’d done so much for me. I wanted to stay close to the family just to protect him while I still could, before he’d become the family ambassador to the Empire and our older brother would return to rule.


I enjoyed this paragraph, especially the second sentence. How the worst tears came when they would ruin something. This was a powerful image in my head and communicated such strong emotion, love it.

Struggling to breathe panic. Great.


Think you meant to say “struggling to breath in her panic.” Or something like that, since she isn’t literally breathing panic in.

I was going to be yelled at for lateness, for how much I was crying. Nitika’s eyes were watering in empathy, her own emotions difficult to keep in check. Teary-eyed betrotheds were common enough. I didn’t need to add to them.



understated but crisp, his clothing the colours of a ruby on snow.

Okay I am American, so we spell it “Colors”, but I did learn today that Canadians spell it “colours” so just pointing this out incase you did misspell it lol.
Imperial representatives, and me being able to stop an assassin more important than how I looked.

Think you meant, “And me being able to stop an assassin was more important than how I looked.’
I had grown up seeing the cost of independence sentiments.


The word “Independence” just felt odd to me. Maybe Independent sentiments would sound better, but that probably doesn’t convey the fight for independence and freedom which is where I am assuming the sentiments are leading… so not sure on it, just pointing it out because it read weird to me.

Credentials established, the little clauses that guaranteed children out of me and insisted my realm would be inside the palaces were quickly weeded out, Jalil drafting a fresh contract that included such little things as exempting me should the Empire sanction women-only suites under the belief palace women were best left unseen.


Just a very long sentence, I’d chop it up a bit.

never quite daring to stop him from sending them just to give the illusion he had some grips over me.


I don’t think grip should be plural, I think it should just be grip.

Suraj met whatever he said with confusion, far more expressive than he should’ve been. I’d have to work on that.


I love how she is constantly analyzing everything and paying attention to what she would fix and change. The constant awareness to detail, and how you show that is very well done, and helps me grasp more who she is as a character.

They began with a prayer to Palanhaar, the warrior who protected this land, acting out the battle he fought to banish demons from this valley and establish his home in a peak only accessible if you pass the palace and the temple. Slapping of feet and the steady rhythm of drums grounded me, the story familiarly enchanting. The dancer representing Palanhaar glared at the demon while miming a spear thrust, the other doubling back to the beat of the music before beginning to spin on their heel, each slap making Palanhaar recoil from the demon’s strength before beginning to spin himself, the tabla and sitar growing louder and louder with each rotation.


I very much enjoyed this dance and the whole scene in general. The last sentence on this paragraph was a bit of a run-on again, but the imagery was great and moving.

He cooled, emotions more like a glass knife than ice. “I would like a wife, eventually.”


I loved your imagery and similes throughout this entire chapter, but this one was odd for me. A glass knife and ice just seemed like an odd comparison and I wasn’t sure what you were trying to communicate with these words.

Overall I very much enjoyed it, thanks for posting and allowing me to read! If you have any questions please let me know!




Rosendorn says...


Thanks for reviewing!

So. Clarifying things that I knew I should've put in the summary lol

Kerani has had 7 of her guard friends be taken away from her. She was trained as a guard semi-illegally, because she's a noble and guards are a totally different caste. But she was, and the attention to detail is the result of that. So is her utter dislike of getting betrothed, because the reason her friends were sent away was because she fell in love with one of them.

Her province was taken over by the Empire about 50 years ago, so some people are wanting independence back. Those who act on those desires are tried for treason. Kerani herself would like independence but not so much that she's working towards it/can be put on trial... but she's watched a few She much prefers local traditions, especially when it comes to clothing, and finds the Empire rather backwards in some regards.

Her sister was recently appointed to be Crown Princess and is going to marry the Prince, so her sister was forced to assimilate to Empire's culture instead of staying true to the province's culture. Hence the habit of some fabric choices coming back in Empire styles. However, this isn't something I've raised before so I really should tweak it

I'm Canadian so I use UK spelling, yes.

Garukh yunu is PTSD, so I treat them the same in narration (the rough translation is Kashmiri for "avalanche of memories"). So I won't be adding "the" to it, since the sentence doesn't make sense with "the ptsd." I generally dislike articles, on top of it lol As you noticed

Yes I'm missing a whole bunch of "was"s, thanks for pointing those out!

Glad you enjoyed the piece ^^ I'm always looking for new reviewers, so let me know if you want to be tagged in updates!




Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
— Abraham Lincoln