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Slave Girl: Chapter 1

by Shadeflame


I grimaced in pain as the jolting of the cart grew more intense. The road, if it could be even called a road, had slowly grown rougher and rougher until it seemed that we were just driving over gravel.Looking back, I could see the faint tracks of the wagons that had gone before us. I was in a cart, the driver in front steadily looking at the horse in front of his box. 

It seemed he was immune to the suffering of the poor, innocent people behind him, his mind fixed on the few coppers he could gain from this despicable job. I knew that even the poorest person in our town would never…

I sighed. Of course they would, they would leap at the chance to have a good solid meal for at least once, since the famine came and there were no jobs. I couldn’t blame this man for staring straight ahead and trying to forget that we were people.

I felt a small touch on my knee, drawing me out of my memories, and looked up slowly, my mind already knowing what I was about to see.

I already knew that it was my captor, tired of my whimpering and fear, ready to kill me like he had everyone I had known. I couldn’t help remembering the bloodstained cobbles, the dull thud as the bodies slowly crumpled to the ground. The slavers not caring who they killed, be it grown men or babies still clasped in their mother’s arms. The shrill screams of the children discovering that their whole lives were ending on this night.

The memory of the smell made me retch, the stink of blood and the fumes of the fire mingling together to become what I would describe as the stench of terror. 

I slowly forced myself to open my eyes and saw a child. He was sleeping on the roughly cut floor, his hand pressing against the side of my knee. His golden hair, like mine, gleamed in the sunlight. As I looked down, he whimpered in his sleep and rolled away from me. 

I sighed, and leaned back against the side of the cart, the bars pressing uncomfortably into my back. “Don’t be dumb, Laela.” I reminded myself, “No one’s going to be in front of you with a knife, if they wanted to kill you they would have done that already." Probably.

But still, I was a worthless slave now, I was less than a dog on the side of the road, at least it could be trained to hunt.

Sure people bought slaves, for various reasons. But in the eyes of every person around me, I wasn’t even human anymore. No one cared if you killed a slave, or beat them half to death. No one cared.

The words swam in my head, making my eyes water and I squeezed them shut, and dug my nails into the palms of my hands, the pain keeping grounded, from floating away, from letting go.

The earliest thing I could remember was the time the boys that haunted the market everyday had dared me to climb the statue of Kion that every town had to put up. The first time I tried to climb it, I got a sound beating for even daring to touch it. The guard’s sticks taught me that I should pretend to respect authority, and do whatever I could to survive, but I learned to keep little bits of myself tucked away so deep that they could never touch them. They wanted me to die and submit. I would not, I would stay alive and keep my true self buried deep inside, so when I finally managed to escape, they would not have succeeded. They would not have crushed my soul.

The hours wore on, each one filled with the rattle of the cart’s wheels, and the hot sun burning through my raggedy shirt and trousers. Most girls wore dresses, but I had never had a new one and my mother had just given me the neighbor boy’s old hand-me-downs. They were useful, I suppose, for what I had to do, but I had longed to look like the other girls when I was younger. 

I reached down and touched the manacle that chained me to the cart floor as well as the numerous others who also sat around me in the cart. For the first day or so that I had been in here, I had examined each person carefully, for lack of anything else to do and to take my mind off of the scenes that played before me every time I closed my eyes. I soon stopped for no reason other than my attention had been captured by the manacle that attached my chain to the bottom of the cart.

I slowly had begun to try to work it free, stopping every time I saw someone glancing at me, but the manacle was firmly attached to the wood. Now it was a habit, whenever the gripping pains of hunger in my stomach got too much for me, or the hot sun, or the dull ache in my ribs, I would reach down and play with the manacle, hoping against hope that it would break, and I would be free.


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Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:04 pm
WinnyWriter wrote a review...



Hey, there. I really like this chapter so far. It seems like you've launched a great project.

One of the best things about this chapter is how you introduce us to your main character and her surroundings, yet you don't give too much detail, leaving our minds to wonder and to keep reading in order to gather the other details which will put the story together. In other words, you've captured the reader's interest by not showing too much at once. You avoided the pitfall of plunging right into a bunch of backstory and facts that are irrelevant at the moment. Good work.

That being said, I would suggest thinking about how you could incorporate just a few more details. So far it seems that we do not even know your main character's name. While it's perfectly fine not to reveal their name right away, one must be careful not to go too long without giving it. Another thing I think you definitely could have afforded to include is her age. Because she mentions the child in the cart with her, I'm assuming she considers herself above childhood, but what age range exactly is she? Even just hinting that she's a teen, a pre-teen, an older teen - whatever it may be - would be helpful.

I noticed several comma splices and run-on sentences that should be connected or separated with other punctuation. An example is in this sentence:
“No one’s going to be in front of you with a knife, if they wanted to kill you they would have done that already."
You have two separate sentence elements that are divided by a comma. Technically, this isn't really correct. I'll give a couple examples of how to correctly format it.
First of all, you could do this:
"No one's going to be in front of you with a knife. If they wanted to kill you, they would have done that already."
Or this:
"No one's going to be in front of you with a knife; if they wanted to kill you, they would have done that already."
So that's just a piece of advice, especially seeing as I noticed several instances where you should edit your punctuation and sentence format. Maybe I'm not the best at explaining it, so you could look up information on comma splices and run-on sentences for a better explanation.

Overall, this chapter is pretty great! You did a wonderful job describing the setting and tying emotions to it. Your sensory details are also awesome. The description of the sight and smell of blood, and the way you termed it "the stench of terror" are really, really good. I look forward to reading the next part. :)




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Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:31 am
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HarryHardy wrote a review...



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

It's Harry. I saw you're latest work and decided to see if I could buckle down and read all the works that you've posted because your latest one was really good. So you'll be seeing a lot of me today. Hehe

So first impression, (sadness, note to self: do not chop onions while reviewing stories)

On to the review,

The road, if it could be even called a road, had slowly grown rougher and rougher until it seemed that we were just driving over gravel.Looking back,

I'm being far too nitpicky but you kinda forget a space there after the full stop.

I was in a cart, the driver in front steadily looking at the horse in front of his box.

I'd say remove that second front because the horse exactly going to be anywhere else.

It seemed he was immune to the suffering of the poor, innocent people behind him, his mind fixed on the few coppers he could gain from this despicable job. I knew that even the poorest person in our town would never…

I sighed. Of course they would, they would leap at the chance to have a good solid meal for at least once, since the famine came and there were no jobs.

I'd suggest removing the "for at least once". It seems awkward.

I already knew that it was my captor, tired of my whimpering and fear, ready to kill me like he had everyone I had known. I couldn’t help remembering the bloodstained cobbles, the dull thud as the bodies slowly crumpled to the ground. The slavers not caring who they killed, be it grown men or babies still clasped in their mother’s arms. The shrill screams of the children discovering that their whole lives were ending on this night.

Oh dear- too many onions. That's some really powerful imagery there.

I sighed, and leaned back against the side of the cart, the bars pressing uncomfortably into my back. “Don’t be dumb, Laela.” I reminded myself, “No one’s going to be in front of you with a knife, if they wanted to kill you they would have done that already." Probably.

That probably seems weird to stay outside the inverted commas.

The words swam in my head, making my eyes water and I squeezed them shut, and dug my nails into the palms of my hands, the pain keeping grounded, from floating away, from letting go.

"keeping (me) grounded" would sound better I think.

And that's it.

Overall, it's really nicely written. And I got immediately invested in the protagonist. Now I'm moving to the next chapter.

Stay Safe :)
Harry




Shadeflame says...


Thank you for reviewing my chapter!



HarryHardy says...


Your Welcome



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Mon May 25, 2020 4:43 pm
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LittleLee wrote a review...



Hi!
Wow. I'm quite impressed. The story is very nicely written, with great grammar and no spelling mistakes that I could find. The descriptions are adequate, the setting good, the tone perfect. Well done!
I will, however nitpick, so be warned! I apologise if I offend you in any way.
Let's begin.

There are so many paragraphs! You don't need to paragraph every two sentences. That way, you're fragmenting the flow of the story. Trains of thought that connect can be together; I think the first three paragraphs in your story could be combined.

until it seemed that we were just driving over grass.

I'd suggest something other than grass. It actually won't be that rough a journey in that case, so how about rocks?

I was in a cart, the driver in front steadily looking at the horse in front of his box.

You've repeated the word "front" twice! I'd remove the first one, because it's a fact that that's where the driver will sit anyway.

I sighed, of course they would, they would leap at the chance to have a good solid meal for at least once since the famine came and there were no jobs.

The first sentence is a little too long. After "I sighed", how about a full stop instead of a comma? And use a few more commas, maybe?

I already knew that it was my captor, tired of my whimpering and fear, ready to kill me like he did everyone I had known.


"Had", not "did".

Sure people bought slaves


A comma after "sure".


Okay, those are the individual points. Overall I'd say you use commas in the wrong places. There are either too many, which results in a sentence being dragged out, or too less, which leads to the same thing, actually. So moderate that a little.

But I enjoyed reading this, and look forward to the rest! Happy writing!
-Lee




Shadeflame says...


Thank you for reviewing my work! About the paragraphs, when I posted the work, it looked different from when I was writing it in the Publishing Center.



LittleLee says...


There should be an edit option on the top of the page, so you can try fixing it.



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Sat May 23, 2020 1:23 pm
thepages wrote a review...



I like this,it's the beginning of a potential saga, only that it went a little slow for me. I personally like your lead character, Laela, she's tough and bound to be trouble to her antagonists in the future.
You did quite well with the description but missed Laela's. You've told us of her raggedy clothing and the fact that she dressed like a tomboy due to circumstances but you also have to place a face to it, like "her long amber scruffy hair, stained with bits of dried blood from last night's encounter clung onto her the right broad cheek of a simillarly broad face decorated by dirt here and there. She looked to the end of the cart, her bluish eyes almost shimering as she noticed a boy laying on the roughly cut surface..." try to give us a visual of you character.
In this piece you have told almost nothing about Laela's past, like her identity which i suppose is strategy for the next chapter. You should also try hinting us with the times your work is written, which you did but a little vaguely, yes in these times they used carts for transport, owned slaves, like the medieval times or something but then the weaponary and more things that can paint a vivid picture of the times this piece is set. You should consider these in the next chapter.
But this is great work i am looking forward to reading more about this Laela who is determined never to give in to the apparent rule of her land.




Shadeflame says...


Thank you for reviewing my work!
I appreciate your advice and will try to apply it to the next chapter and this one, as I revise it.



thepages says...


Am really looking forward to reading the next chapter




But answer me this: how can a story end happily if there is no love?
— Kate DiCamillo, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane