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A Valkyrie's Dream: Chapter 1

by Shadeflame


A small tear trickled down Alyss’s cheek as she stared at the small rowboat that they had placed her mother upon. Its rough-hewn edges and lack of carvings were a disgrace. Her mother would have been ashamed to find out that this was what they were burning her on. 

Not that it really mattered anyways. She was gone. Dead.

One of the villagers motioned to her. The funeral boat had been prepared with straw and soaked with oil to make sure that it would burn easily. Alyss stepped forwards and took the torch that was offered.

“Goodbye.” she whispered and threw the burning torch into the middle of the boat.

The oil caught almost immediately, and flames burst up inside the boat. The heat scorched Alyss’s face, but she made no move to step back. Her mother lay in the middle of it all, with a serene smile on her face, surrounded by her favorite shield and sword, the only things that they had put in with her.

As the boat slowly drifted away into the ocean, Alyss followed it with her eyes, watching the flames engulf the only parent she’d ever known. A heavy hand on her shoulder caused her to spin, glaring at the person who’d interrupted her.

“Girl, you have to come with me.” a man said, undaunted by the fact that she was scowling at him as hard as she could. Alyss wrenched away from the heavy pressure he was putting on her shoulder but followed him sullenly, her eyes so blurred with tears she could hardly tell where they were going.

He led her into a house, and motioned her to sit down on a wooden chair facing a table.

“Stay here.” he muttered, seeming a bit perturbed by her tears.

Alyss leaned forward and let her face fall to the table. The cool, smooth wood felt soothing against her blotchy, red cheek. She closed her eyes, trying to remember her mother’s face. The soft brown hair, almost identical to her own. Her eyes the color of the sky, which would flash with venom anytime someone annoyed her. Alyss choked back a sob. She wasn’t ready to say goodbye. Wasn’t ready to let go of her mother’s memory as their culture required.

But after today, if she was caught crying, she would be punished for not letting her mother’s soul pass into the Afterlife undisturbed. If her mother heard her mourning, her spirit would be drawn back, not only preventing her from ever entering the Afterlife, but also calling down bad luck upon the village.

Alyss sat up swiftly and rubbed the tears away with her hand. Her mother would be disgusted with her right now. She should know better. She turned her gaze towards the door, wondering when the man would come back.

Now that she thought about it, why had she gone with this man? She scoured her memory for what exactly had happened after she found out her mother had died. It was all a blur of pain, and grief, and loneliness, but she faintly remembered being assigned to the care of this man. She had stayed in her old house with his wife, a motherly, prying old lady, who seemed to have nothing better to do than to go through her mother’s papers and ask Alyss questions about her family. Alyss couldn’t answer any of them and after a sleepless night the old lady announced that it was time for her mother’s funeral.

Thinking about it, Alyss wondered what she would do now. She was only twelve summers, not yet old enough to work properly. Maybe some kindly townsperson would take her in, if not because of their heart, but because of her house. It had to be worth something, right?

The front door creaked open with an agonizing squeal and Alyss’s attention snapped back to the men who were walking in. The first one was a tall man with a dark blue uniform. He carried a shield slung across his back, and and golden sword at his waist. Alyss recognized him as one of Einherjar, the main warrior class of Asgard. He was followed by the elderly baker who had taken Alyss here. As Alyss half rose out of her chair, the baker waved her down and they disappeared into the old man’s bedroom. 

Wrinkling her brow, Alyss tried to reason out why he would be here in O’dair. O’dair was one of the smaller towns, a fishing village near the sea. It was nowhere close to the capitol, and so there was no real reason for one of the Einherjar to be here. The taxes for the year had already been collected and delivered to the capitol so it couldn’t be that, right?

The sound of raised voices interrupted her train of thought. Seeing that the bedroom door was closed, she silently slipped out of her chair and tiptoed to the edge of the room, inwardly wincing at every creak of the old floorboards. As she reached the door to the bedroom, it swung open and hit Alyss on the head.

“Ow!” she cried out.

The Einherjar warrior stared with disinterest at the girl on the ground, while the baker hurriedly pulled Alyss to her feet and slapped her across the face.

“How dare you listen in on a Warrior of the Realm’s conversation!” he hissed. “If you were my girl I’d give you a thrashing you wouldn’t forget for a while. As it is, you’re lucky that he didn’t smite you dead, if you were any other girl I’m sure he would have!”

He dragged her over to a corner of the room and pushed her into it.

“I expect you to stay there until you’re ready to leave. Don’t move a muscle or you’ll get what’s coming to you!”

Alyss stared straight ahead at the wall, her cheek already turning red with the force of the blow. Her mother had almost never hit her,and although the pain wasn't great the shock of the slap hurt the most. Her head started to ache terribly, and a single tear trickled down her hot cheek. Why had her mother died and left her at the mercy of these dreadful people?

From behind her she heard the opening and closing of the front door and then Alyss was left alone in the small house.

Alyss slowly lifted her hand to her face and felt her cheek gently. The sting of the slap had almost faded, and she scrubbed her eyes vigorously with her fists. Turning around, she surveyed the empty room and slid down the dingy white wall until she was sitting with her knees clasped up against her chest. How long was she supposed to stay in here? Had the baker said something about it? Something about staying here until she was ready to leave? Alyss’s eyes grew wide as she realized what this must mean.

They were going to take her to the poorhouse! 


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Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:15 am
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HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night,(whichever part of the world you're in)

I don't know if I'll have much to say. This had been reviewed pretty thoroughly but I'll see what I find,

First Impression: Slight whiplash with that funeral but it works okay and a heavy hitting opening there with the protagonist. (Why are your protagonists all starting out crying?)

So onto it,

A small tear trickled down Alyss’s cheek as she stared at the small rowboat that they had placed her mother upon. Its rough-hewn edges and lack of carvings were a disgrace. Her mother would have been ashamed to find out that this was what they were burning her on.

Not that it really mattered anyways. She was gone. Dead.

That is a really catchy opening. Going to hook readers right at the very beginning.

The oil caught almost immediately, and flames burst up inside the boat. The heat scorched (this seems a bit too strong of a verb here) Alyss’s face, but she made no move to step back.

Alyss leaned forward and let her face fall to the table. The cool, smooth wood felt soothing against her blotchy, red cheek. She closed her eyes, trying to remember her mother’s face. The soft brown hair, almost identical to her own. Her eyes the color of the sky, which would flash with venom anytime someone annoyed her. Alyss choked back a sob. She wasn’t ready to say goodbye. Wasn’t ready to let go of her mother’s memory as their culture required.

Pretty good character introduction.

Wrinkling her brow, Alyss tried to reason out why he would be here in O’dair. O’dair was one of the smaller towns, a fishing village near the sea. It was nowhere close to the capitol, and so there was no real reason for one of the Einherjar to be here. The taxes for the year had already been collected and delivered to the capitol so it couldn’t be that, right?

Pretty smooth introduction to the world without making it sound too much like exposition.

The sound of raised voices interrupted her train of thought. Seeing that the bedroom door was closed, she silently slipped out of her chair and tiptoed to the edge of the room, inwardly wincing at every creak of the old floorboards. As she reached the door to the bedroom, it swung open and hit Alyss on the head. (Ouch)

The Einherjar warrior stared with disinterest at the girl on the ground, while the baker hurriedly pulled Alyss to her feet and slapped her across the face. (Double ouch)

Alyss slowly lifted her hand to her face and felt her cheek gently. The sting of the slap had almost faded, and she scrubbed her eyes vigorously with her fists. Turning around, she surveyed the empty room and slid down the dingy white wall until she was sitting with her knees clasped up against her chest. How long was she supposed to stay in here? Had the baker said something about it? Something about staying here until she was ready to leave? Alyss’s eyes grew wide as she realized what this must mean.

They were going to take her to the poorhouse!

Another really good ending.

And that's it. I really didn't have much to point out here at all. Overall really good opening chapter. Imma move to the next couple too. Looks like I found another story to keep reading.

Stay Safe :)
Harry




Shadeflame says...


Thank you for reviewing my chapter!



HarryHardy says...


Your Welcome



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Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:27 pm
Beautifulsparkle wrote a review...



Hello, i am here to review. I like your story, it is very interesting. I like that the main character is a girl and the first scene caught my attention, especially because it was a scene where grief and solemnity met. The girl was very sad, as it's expected but she tried to put on a brave face for her mother's sake and because of traditions. I don't know with what sort of people Alyss now has to stay in, but i don't really trust them. She should be with someone who can help her smile again. I liked that there were no grammar mistakes and i liked the style of the story, it pulled me in. What i liked the most was how you wrote Alyss, brave yet vulnerable, and smart too.

My favourite part was "A small tear trickled down Alyss’s cheek as she stared at the small rowboat that they had placed her mother upon. Its rough-hewn edges and lack of carvings were a disgrace. Her mother would have been ashamed to find out that this was what they were burning her on.

Not that it really mattered anyways. She was gone. Dead.

One of the villagers motioned to her. The funeral boat had been prepared with straw and soaked with oil to make sure that it would burn easily. Alyss stepped forwards and took the torch that was offered.

“Goodbye.” she whispered and threw the burning torch into the middle of the boat.

The oil caught almost immediately, and flames burst up inside the boat. The heat scorched Alyss’s face, but she made no move to step back. Her mother lay in the middle of it all, with a serene smile on her face, surrounded by her favorite shield and sword, the only things that they had put in with her.

As the boat slowly drifted away into the ocean, Alyss followed it with her eyes, watching the flames engulf the only parent she’d ever known. A heavy hand on her shoulder caused her to spin, glaring at the person who’d interrupted her" It is my favourite because it shows the level of courage Alyss possesses.




Shadeflame says...


Thanks for reviewing this! I'm glad you liked it!



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Sat Jun 06, 2020 4:08 pm
LittleLee wrote a review...



Hi, Shade!
To begin with, wow. This story is one of the best I've read on YWS. Good grammar, no spelling mistakes, and an interesting plot with a good narrative. Well done! I'm definitely going to want to keep reading it, so tag me whenever you release a new chapter!

There are a couple of things I'd like to say. Here I go:

Maybe a little more background as to why her her mother's boat is disgraceful would be nice? I mean, is there any reason for her to be laid to rest in such an inappropriate vessel?

“Goodbye.” she whispered

The "s" should be capitalized.

“Stay here.” he muttered

I think you need to replace the fullstop with a comma. Or capitalize the "h" in "he".

But after today, if she was caught crying, she would be punished for not letting her mother’s soul pass into the Afterlife undisturbed.

If her mother heard her mourning, her spirit would be drawn back, not only preventing her from ever entering the Afterlife, but also calling down bad luck upon the village.


This is a very interesting concept, and I also think it was an actual belief, am I right? I'd love to see a little more explanation here, though. Anyway, I'd suggest combining these sentences into one paragraph because they follow the same train of thought.

Like the other reviewers mentioned, I think the transition of the story is a little too quick. She's strong, but to completely recover is a bit unrealistic.

I'd like to see more descriptions! This isn't a critical point, mind you, I've just begun liking stuff that's more descriptive.

Overall, I loved this. I'm glad to see you've already improved from your first publications! Keep writing, Shade!

-Lee




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Tue Jun 02, 2020 2:35 pm
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Katteex says...



Hello there!

I see that this is inspired by Norse Mythology. There's really not much to say about your novel because the other two who've placed a review here have tackled quite enough. This is why I won't count this as a review.

So this is an inquiry for clarity: why, out of all the things that comes into her mind, would she be sent to a poorhouse? She has stated,

Maybe some kindly townsperson would take her in, if not because of their heart, but because of her house. It had to be worth something, right?


She isn't a pauper because she still has a property. Also, she mentions that these warriors, Einherjars, are important people. Why would she think that people like them would go through that much effort just to become the bakery's errand boy?
Next,

She had stayed in her old house with his wife, a motherly, prying old lady,


It's a minor error but wrong pronouns can cause lots of confusion. You should change the pronoun her to his.

That's all I can say. Sorry, this may not be a review you might be hoping for but all concerns have already been discussed and I don't want to carbon copy them and waste your time.

Best regards,
Kattee x




Katteex says...


Tag me when you update this!



Shadeflame says...


Okay! Just to clear up a few things. Alyss isn't really thinking things through right now. She's just a little girl, and she's heard horror stories about orphans who are sent to the poorhouse. Therefore, her mind jumped to a conclusion when the baker said something about leaving.



Katteex says...


Thanks for that! I just thought it was weird that she was well aware of those things, but assumed something random and opposing to it. Maybe it's just me but it felt like it's forced.



Shadeflame says...


Yeah. I'll have to work on that. Thanks for reviewing my work though! :D



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Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:56 pm
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Tuckster wrote a review...



Hey there Shadeflame! I'm glad to have the chance to read your work & give you some official feedback, beyond a couple sentences based on a WFP excerpt. Let's get into it!

Right off the bat, I agree with Zoom that the writing style was accessible to your target audience without being condescending or overly simple. I especially liked the way you varied your sentence structure and length to keep the writing interesting and fresh. Your vocabulary was descriptive but still easy for a reader in their early teens to understand. Overall, it was an impressive syntax that was balanced and age-appropriate.

Two notes of critique:

First, I felt that Alyss showed remarkable maturity for a 12-year-old. While 12 years old seems to be the best age for the demographic you're aiming for, I would have guessed that she was around 16 or 17, 15 at the lowest. It made the age feel unrealistic to me. I would like to see some more of her immaturity and see how she expresses vulnerability. There's an emotional scene at the beginning of this chapter that gives the perfect opportunity to show how broken she feels and craft the beginning of a fantastic character arc.

Second, I felt there was a little too much going on in this chapter. There were a lot of characters that you didn't really have time to fully explore, like Alyss' mom and the warrior and the baker. This could easily be split into two chapters: the first chapter fully devoted to the funeral, which can also double as a time to establish the culture of the small town, Alyss' personality & friends, and her relationship with her mom. The second chapter could be devoted to Alyss' capture and focus on this new antagonist figure while exploring the contrast between O'dair and Einherjar. This would allow you to spread out the information you reveal here a little bit more, creating a more fitting pace for the novel and creating a better spread of information so the reader isn't overwhelmed.

I hope that these notes were helpful to you both for future chapters and for editing this portion! If you have any questions about this please feel free to reach out. I'll see you around!

Best,
Tuck




Shadeflame says...


Thanks Tuck. Your advice is very helpful for both rewriting this and the next chapters. I really appreciate it!



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Mon Jun 01, 2020 4:54 pm
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Zoom wrote a review...



Hey, just read this piece and thought I’d offer a few comments.

First of all, you did a good job overall. I particularly like that you vary your sentence length and use a nice range of vocabulary and dialog tags. It makes the writing interesting but not inaccessible to a middle grade audience. And the rhetorical questions in the narrative seem well tailored to a younger audience as well.

The two bits of advice I’d dish out here is 1) I think you could work on your setting a bit more. There wasn’t much description to really showcase what kind of culture we’re dealing with here, what building materials they use, how advanced they are. There were hints here and there but nothing solid enough to really immerse me in this world. I think you’ve opened with what could truly be a very striking image, her mother floating away on a burning boat. Some brief vivid descriptions would serve you well here.

2) I think Alyss’s mother’s funeral passed too quickly for the emotions behind it to quite hit. Later on you raised a very interesting concept, that Alyss has to now completely forget all memories of her mother, which is fascinating—so my suggestion is to pull that idea forward so Alyss contemplates this problem during the funeral, and use it to cue in some actual memories of her mother so we can grasp what kind of relationship they had, why it matters her mother is gone, and just what it is Alyss is now being forced to let go of. I think if you can land those emotions during the moment her mother is actually burning / drifting away, readers will be more invested in her new predicament, that she has been left behind with abusive people to care for her.

Hope this helps - let me know if you need me to elaborate on anything.

-Zoom




Shadeflame says...


Thanks for reviewing my chapter Zoom! I will try to work that into my story when I rewrite it. :D



Shadeflame says...


Hey Zoom, would you like me to tag you when I update this?




Have a biscuit, Potter.
— Professor McGonagall