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16+ Violence

Before The Dragon (Revamp) - Chapter 1.1

by ShadowVyper


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

Jerica leaned over the castle wall, loosing an arrow directly into the face of the Nykerian soldier climbing up the ladder in front of her. He let out a guttural yelp, blood burbling from his gaping mouth, as he fell straight towards the ground – knocking several of his countrymen from the ladder as he descended. She straightened, reaching over her shoulder for another arrow. Her hand was met by open air.

“Kieran, arrows,” she muttered, turning towards her squire.

He was a pitiable sight. His sandy brown skin was layered with grime and darkened with the sun, from all the hours they’d spent in battle over the past three days. He pushed his helmet back out of his dark brown eyes and hastily handed her a full quiver, taking the empty one that she shrugged off her back. He knelt to refill her quiver with arrows, armor clanking around on his too-small frame as he moved.

She pulled an arrow and quickly found it a home in an enemy soldier climbing up a ladder a few meters to her left. She turned towards the right and sank one – two – arrows in the soldiers raising yet another ladder towards the wall.

“General!”

Jerica turned back towards the left, trying to find the source of the panicked cry. One of her soldiers – a rookie, nearly as green as her squire – was looking at her in desperation.

“What?”

“General,” he repeated, then gestured wildly behind him. “The gate!”

“Kieran,” Jerica said, turning back towards the trembling boy next to her. “Another quiver. And stay here.”

Her eyes landed on her Lieutenant, Akeno Haider, as he hurried towards her. His pale skin was burnt to a crisp, and monolid eyes heavy and tired as he looked to her for orders. She took the quiver from her squire, keeping her eyes on her Lieutenant. “Watch Kieran.”

She turned on her heel, looking for her soldier. “Take me to the problem.”

“Ma’am!” he answered, whirling around. He sprinted along the wall, darting around the various fights littering the surface. Her soldiers shifted like a wave, allowing her to jog along after the frightened recruit that was frantically leading her towards the gate.

The soldier stopped, gesturing over the wall and coughing, too out of breath to explain why he’d been sent to get her. War Lord Ainsley hurried towards her, glowering. She raised an eyebrow in a silent question. “They brought out a ram.”

Jerica took a few steps forward to peer over the wall. Sure enough, there was a group of Nykerian soldiers assembling on the ground below them, a massive battering ram in the center of the group. It looked like it took around fifty soldiers to lift the ram – and many, many more were gathered around with shields to guard the soldiers carrying the ram.

Lord Ainsley stepped up just behind her. He was an average-sized man, maybe a bit taller than the soldiers around them, but compared to Jerica’s small frame he towered over her. He looked down with the fierce green eyes that matched her own, rubbing his face tiredly. “Think you can take care of that?”

“Anything for you, Uncle,” she answered, voice sickly sweet. He rolled his eyes. She smirked and weighed her quiver in her hand. “Didn’t bring enough arrows for this.”

Lord Ainsley waved his hand, and several soldiers hurried forward. He looked them over briefly, then gestured at Jerica. “You’re taking commands from General Ainsley now.”

“Sir!”

“Gather more arrows,” Jerica ordered tersely, turning her back on the soldiers as she peered over the wall again. The guard of the advancing battering ram was fairly complete – most angles impenetrable for the wall of shields. She knocked an arrow and stepped next to a decorative pillar, peering out from behind it as she watched the advancing ram.

She waited until there was a narrow gap between shields then loosed an arrow. The battle was too loud for her to hear if anyone cried out – there were various screams and the clanging of blades and armor all around her – but she saw the advancement of the battering ram hesitate for the briefest of moments. She saw a flash of someone’s leg and loosed another arrow.

The soldier stumbled forward, out of formation, as the arrow sank in the tender curve between his shin guards and boot. Jerica took the brief window to loose arrow after arrow into formation, striking the next soldier in line in his arm-pit, the soldiers carrying the ram instead of shields in the side of their necks. She picked off five soldiers before they managed to shuffle their positions around to close the hole. She lazily loosed another arrow at the soldier who initially broke the formation, ending his misery with a shaft to the eye.

She ducked back behind the pillar, holding her empty quiver out to one of the soldiers and taking a filled one instead. Arrows clumsily clanked off the pillar behind her. She smirked as she heard the cry spreading through the soldiers below.

Sanguis!

She’d heard that word many times over the past several days, and she relished it more each time it landed on her ears. It had started as the Nykerian word for carnage, but over the past several years had become her nickname among Nykerian people. This week it had all but turned into a swear-word.

She peeked around the pillar once more and saw a large pool of blood draining from under the shields that had filled in the hole she’d caused moments before. She made quick work of the remaining soldiers, sending arrows through narrow gaps in the shields and into the guards’ ankles, picking off the advancing men one by one until the few remaining around the battering ram fled, being careful to guard themselves with the shields.

She pressed her back against the tall pillar, taking a deep breath, as she looked at the soldiers who had constantly handed her filled quivers as she quickly went through arrows. She rubbed her face. The skin was sore and dry, and her lips were cracking from the brutal heat. She slowly let the breath out. “Sanguis.”

“SANGUIS!” The soldiers cheered.

A victorious roar went up from the nearby soldiers on the wall.

And then just as suddenly as the cheer broke out, it was silenced, when a loud boom echoed across the battlefield. She whirled around once again, just in time to see a purplish cloud of smoke rising from the center of the camp. Her stomach sank.

Valeren.

If Sanguis was the name that could strike fear into the hearts of Nykerian soldiers, Valeren was the name that Atraians avoided at all costs. He was a small-time sorcerer – not as powerful as the sorcerer, Lord Biryn, who held the role of Head Advisor in Atraya. But strong enough to cause substantial damage when he arrived.

“Get Lord Ainsley,” Jerica hissed at one of the soldiers. She pointed at another. “You go find Lord Biryn.”

“Ma’am!”

“I’m here.” The soldiers nearby parted as War Lord Ainsley shouldered his way towards Jerica. “But do go find Biryn.”

“Sir!”

Lord Ainsley turned his gaze on Jerica. “Valeren?”

“It can’t be anyone else.”

Lord Ainsley cursed.

Jerica looked at the last of the colorful cloud dissipating into the sky, and a thought struck her. It was nearly center of the field; just over the–

She whirled around back on her uncle. “The tunnels.”

“Absolutely not,” Lord Ainsley answered.

“They are right over the entrance,” Jerica said, gesturing at the battlefield. “He won’t move that quickly. He always comes in with the theatrics. I can get there.”

“It’s not safe,” Lord Ainsley said, shaking his head.

“And this is?” Jerica spat, gesturing vaguely around her. Her right arm was splattered with dried blood she’d earned when she killed a Nykerian who got a bit closer than she’d intended to let him. He sighed. “Derik, I can do this.”

Uncle Derik huffed another sigh, looking out at the battlefield, then back towards Jerica. He shook his head, rubbing his face again. His skin was just as battered and weathered as everyone else’s; the sun inhospitable to everyone alike. “Fine. Take Rekard with you.”

“I don’t need him.”

“Okay,” Uncle Derik said. “Take him anyway.”

“But—”

“That’s an order,” he snarled.

Jerica took a deep breath, desperately longing to argue, but snapped her mouth shut when she saw the soldiers watching them intently. It wouldn’t do to model insubordination to the War Lord in front of the troops. She nodded curtly. “Sir.”

“I’ll send word for him to meet you at the entrance.”

“Yes, sir,” she answered, turning on her heel, then hesitated as she had a thought. She turned back to Lord Ainsley. “Two Rangers as well?”

“Two?” Lord Ainsley questioned.

“One to guard each side of the tunnel.”

Lord Ainsley thought for a moment then nodded. “That’s reasonable. I’ll have them meet you at the entrance as well.”

“Sir.” She turned back towards the path, heading further from where she’d left her squire. He was fine, she was sure. Akeno was one of the few soldiers she would actually trust to cover her in a battle. She’d hand-picked him from all of her soldiers to be her Lieutenant, despite the complaints of the entire Council, who disapproved of her choosing a first-generation Atraian over the many natives she had to pick from.

Jerica hurried down the steps off the wall and picked her way through the chaos on the ground below, with soldiers and barracks boys scurrying back and forth trying to reinforce the gate from the inside. She made her way along the palace wall for several hundred meters, then suddenly cut down a street towards an aging monastery. Her cousin walked in the door opposite of her just as she arrived.

“I don’t need your help,” she spat, starting down the main aisle of the sanctuary.

“Hello to you too,” Rekard said sarcastically, following close behind. “Glad the battle is going well. Happy to see you’re still alive. All that fun stuff.”

“We both know Derik sent you to babysit,” she snapped, reaching around under the podium in the front of the room for the hidden lever.

“You know as well as I do that Father wouldn’t let anyone do something like this alone,” Rek said, pressing his shoulder against the podium and helping her push it forward as she disengaged the lever. He grunted with the effort. “Honestly I’m not sure why he’s letting us go with just the two of us.”

“Because the tunnels are narrow,” Jerica said, reaching down to remove the small panel of wood that covered the floor where the podium had been. She patted Rekard’s muscular abdomen. “Don’t know if you’re even gonna fit down there with me, fatty.”

He snorted, glaring at her.

Jerica smirked and leaned back on her heels, quickly shucking off her armor. It’d been years since she’d been down to the tunnels, and it still hadn’t been long enough. They were built millennia ago – long enough that no one was quite sure what the original plan for them had been. In the more recent past, they’d been equipped with series of steel gates that could be sealed off, in case enemies ever managed to gain access to any of the many corridors that snaked under the city and out into the fields that the Nykerians now occupied.

They became the smallest they could. Jerica wore a thin tunic with no sleeves and short underpants, holding her bow and a single quiver. Rekard was similarly dressed, sword in hand. He stood and grabbed a torch from the wall of the monastery then turned back towards where Jerica still knelt next to the opening. “After you, Princess.” 


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Tue Oct 06, 2020 9:13 pm
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JabberHut wrote a review...



Hellooooo! :D

It's been a while since I've visited this story, so I'm really excited to be jumping into it again from a fresh start!! And now it's out of the pressures of LMS, too! I remember there being so many great elements last we read, but I admit they're all a bit fuzzy as well. So hopefully I don't ever contradict myself as I read moving forward. (And if I do, please feel absolutely free to point that out! It's a learning process for the both of us!)

Yesssssssssss I love, once again, that we jump right into the action. I remember that last time, and you still do such a great job balancing the action scene with introducing story elements. Not only that, we went straight into the gate issue, so plot is progressing within only a few paragraphs. I LOVE it. I really, really love jumping into the action right away. It feels like we're panning straight into Legolas during the Battle of Minas Tirith.

I do think we're introducing a lot of characters in quick succession here though, and that kind of takes away from the setting we're trying to establish. There's Jerica (who I guess I should assume I don't know yet, but she's clearly the MC), there's Kieran, who we established as her squire, and then there's the urgent soldier and the lieutenant. I don't know who the lieutenant is or where he came from, but she kinda randomly looked at him and told him to watch her squire. I actually got confused and thought maybe the urgent soldier was the lieutenant, but I was quickly corrected. So I think... hm. There's probably a different way to tell the lieutenant to watch Kieran without taking so many words to do so. Does that make sense? (Unless it's significant, then I'd say we spend a little more time introducing Jerica's position with her squire AND lieutenant and what they're all up to. But I feel like that's not the case. Last time, we had a whole thing with rescuing Kieran, but I've a feeling that may have been removed. So we can assume it's not significant.) I'm very much a logical thinker, so I see word economy as an easy way to gauge something's significance to the story. We can have Jerica leave Kieran behind with her lieutenant in far fewer words, and it doesn't take away from the story. It instead enhances Jerica's departure.

Though now that I'm talking about it, why is her squire staying behind? :( He's her squire! Shouldn't he be aiding her? And her lieutenant can actually do his job?

His sandy brown skin was layered with grime and darkened with the sun, from all the hours they’d spent in battle over the past three days. He pushed his helmet back out of his dark brown eyes


OH HELLO KIERAN!! This was read kinda funny to me. The narration described the color of his skin, and then immediately went into him removing his helmet, so how much skin is he revealing if he's dressed in armor? Or maybe he's not wearing much armor? Should the helmet be removed before describing his skin color? (This is such a nitpick for me, but I guess I feel compelled to point this out. XD)

I've noticed Jerica is still a general, so I'm really looking forward to how things change around that. I already see that she's not afraid to give out orders, which is absolutely part of being a general. She should be a leader. She should have ideas, plans, strategies. After reading this segment, I gather she's a very selfish general. Which is fine, it's probably just her character, but it does make me wonder how she obtained the rank of general in the first place. I don't see her really utilizing her own battalion of rangers or supporting other soldiers around her. Instead, she's playing hero and doing everything herself. When it came to a battling ram, this is no secret to the soldiers on either side of the wall. Everyone knows about the ram. No one is going to not shoot at the ram. A general is going to scream orders at the top of his lungs to direct a squadron or two to shoot at the ram operatives. So that ram should probably have arrows raining down on it.

And then she volunteers to sneak through the tunnels. I feel like she's less of a general and more of a... well, you can give it its own rank however you want to call it, but she feels like she's an assassin. Maybe a rebellious lieutenant IV or something lower than general.

BUT maybe general doesn't mean what I think it means. However, considering all the other military rank titles being thrown about (EDIT: I guess only lieutenant has been mentioned hahaha), it leads me to think of what I know about generals. I'm totally on board with a general being a part of the fight, she clearly isn't one to stay back and strategize, but she doesn't have a squadron or group of soldiers to lead, which is very odd to me. (EDIT: I forgot this, but it was mentioned that Rekard was send to "babysit" her, which would not support her being a general at all unless they were skeptical of her potentially committing treason. Which could be the case. I know from last draft, she doesn't have a good relationship with Derik, but details are fuzzy and things could have changed since then. But then I'd also like to see Ainsley mentioning that he trusts her to be on her own or scoffs at the idea of her being untrustworthy.) So maybe... the title is just an honorific? She definitely seems respected, so could she just be a respected hero as opposed to a member of the military?

“Fine. Take Rekard with you.”

“I don’t need him.”

“Okay,” Uncle Derik said. “Take him anyway.”

“But—”

“That’s an order,” he snarled.


I LOOOOOVE Lord Ainsley. The little banter her between them was so good. He actually sounds a lot more like a military leader. He's also the kind to stay back and strategize, a stark difference to Jerica, and I like seeing that portrayed in our narration here. I think his orders assigning (only two D: ) soldiers to her was a bit wordy. Admirals will be a lot like generals, in that they know how to bark orders with efficient word usage. Instead of saying "You're taking commands from General Ainsley now," it'd be something quick and snappy like "Report to Ainsley."

I just got to thinking that the soldiers being ordered to gather more arrows, that's kind of a Kieran job since he's her squire. XD She should have brought Kieran after all!

The guard of the advancing battering ram was fairly complete – most angles impenetrable for the wall of shields. She knocked an arrow and stepped next to a decorative pillar, peering out from behind it as she watched the advancing ram.


I saw this was mentioned in a review below, but I know castles have those kinds of walls, and I think the general term is battlements. Now, architecture terms will exist for the open spaces and the solid protrusions. I don't know those. But in general, that top part of the wall I've heard referred to as battlements. I think just saying she ducked around the wall is enough, though I do wonder if this is needed for reasons I had babbled about earlier.

The skin was sore and dry


How is skin sore? D: Facial muscles might be sore though!

My gosh, I love her cousin. XD I love him SO much. Rekard is a breath of fresh air in the midst of wartime. The banter is adorable. Their relationship feels so real, and I'm very intrigued about their history.

A very fast-paced start! Like I said, I love that we jumped right into the action. I did forget at times that we were in the middle of a giant battle as opposed to a secret operation. You introduced some of the more significant characters really wel, even established relationships between Jerica and her family already. And this big boom of an entrance from Valeren is really exciting, and I immediately got that sense of urgency when even Ainsley had to switch priorities.

I also feel like they have this battle under control (aside from Valeren's entrance 'cause idk yet) because no one really seems panicked or worried. They're all very focused on doing their job, and the only ones scared are the newbies. Everyone else seems very calm and kinda allowing the battle to take its own course. It's very different from battles I'm familiar with, but this could be a sign of things going smoothly for them.

But it dun matter 'cause Valeren is here and Jerica is gonna sneak up and take him out so its fine. :D

A very exciting start to your revamp! I can't wait to dig into the story again and meet all our characters again and AH! It's gonna be so fun.




ShadowVyper says...


JABBER! omg I got SO excited when I got this notif :D

(And if I do, please feel absolutely free to point that out! It's a learning process for the both of us!)


All good! I changed this draft fairly substantially, so fresh perspectives are helpful, even if they're opposite what was said in the last draft ;)

Unless it's significant, then I'd say we spend a little more time introducing Jerica's position with her squire AND lieutenant and what they're all up to.


This is a fair point! In this draft, her lieutenant and her squire are both far more important characters than they were in the last draft. I was worried that if I spent more time introducing them it would kinda pull them out of the drama of the battle even more. Hmmmm I will think about how to work on this when I go to revise!

I forgot this, but it was mentioned that Rekard was send to "babysit" her, which would not support her being a general at all unless they were skeptical of her potentially committing treason.


Just thought I'd clarify a bit that this is Jerica's attitude here, not Derik actually thinking she need babysat xD They are cousins but kind of grew up more like siblings so she's got the younger sibling I-don't-need-you attitude going on here, and Derik is like bruh stop being dumb and let him help you lol.

I think the general term is battlements


BATTLEMENTS!!!! Omg I love you! I could NOT for the life of me figure out what they were called but you are exactly right!!


Thanks so much for the reviews! <3333 I'm super excited to see if you like this draft better. I think (hope?) I fixed the pacing issues in the last draft and am making this more interesting, but we will see as the reviews go on ;) You're da best <3



JabberHut says...


This is a fair point! In this draft, her lieutenant and her squire are both far more important characters than they were in the last draft. I was worried that if I spent more time introducing them it would kinda pull them out of the drama of the battle even more. Hmmmm I will think about how to work on this when I go to revise!


On the contrary! I think it could help set the stage for the state of this battle even better. You can show us their personalities and relationships through their actions, so even though it has no purpose to the plot, there's still a lot more value in introducing everyone.

But I've also seen writers do the introduction in the next scene, when things have calmed down and they can better utilize dialogue and everyday habits to their advantage too. So they'd spend the first scene simply characterizing them through their actions in respect to the MC.

Just thought I'd clarify a bit that this is Jerica's attitude here, not Derik actually thinking she need babysat xD They are cousins but kind of grew up more like siblings so she's got the younger sibling I-don't-need-you attitude going on here, and Derik is like bruh stop being dumb and let him help you lol.


For sure! I totally comes across that way. It might just be me reading too much into the idea of a general needing a babysitter and just how much truth is behind that. :D



JabberHut says...


BATTLEMENTS!!!! Omg I love you! I could NOT for the life of me figure out what they were called but you are exactly right!!


AHHHH YAY YOU'RE WELCOME!! :D

Thanks so much for the reviews! <3333 I'm super excited to see if you like this draft better. I think (hope?) I fixed the pacing issues in the last draft and am making this more interesting, but we will see as the reviews go on ;) You're da best <3


I am also super excited to see how much has changed since the last draft!!



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Thu Oct 01, 2020 10:17 pm
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andreau413 says...



Beautiful work. Love the detail and effort you put into making this. You are either naturally talented or you worked hard to get there but keep it up.




ShadowVyper says...


Thanks so much for the kind works, @andreau413! I've definitely spent a lot of years trying to improve my writing ability, so it feels nice to hear you liked this :)



ShadowVyper says...


Thanks so much for the kind works, @andreau413! I've definitely spent a lot of years trying to improve my writing ability, so it feels nice to hear you liked this :)



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Wed Sep 30, 2020 12:42 pm
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RadDog13579 wrote a review...



Hi @Shadowviper, RadDog here! Today I'll be reviewing the first chapter of your piece Before The Dragon Revamped. I know that this already has a ton of reviews and is fairly old but I'll be reviewing the entirety of your novel today as one final RevMo stretch.

First Impressions: This seems really interesting. You had a lot of information for the first chapter which was okay. The action was really good and your descriptions were amazing.

What I Like: The action was really intense, you did a great job painting a picture in my mind. Your descriptions were amazing.

What I Think You Can Improve On: It's a lot of info. I assume that this is the initiation of the main plot. I would like to learn a little more about the characters and the world before you thrust them into this world. You could do this in a prologue or just add a chapter before it.

Overall, this was a great first chapter. I really enjoyed reading it and can't wait to read the second chapter!




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Mon Sep 14, 2020 11:17 pm
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WinnyWriter wrote a review...



Hey, there! I like how this story is going so far. Of course, we can't tell much yet from this first segment, but it sounds exciting already. You've introduced us right into an action scene. This serves well to grip the reader's interest.

I like how you are introducing terms with context instead of over explaining. Take "Nykerian" for example. Even though you haven't yet filled us in on the details of who this group is, we already have just enough information for the moment, especially considering that an information dump at this point in the story would greatly detract from the action. Also, you've introduced your main character without boring us with descriptive details and background. While those factors may be important later, including them in this portion of the narrative would hinder the flow.

That being said, I do feel like you've kind of overdone it with the descriptive details about some of the other characters. Especially when you're describing the appearance of Kieran, it seems like you've gotten distracted on his looks when you're only into, like, the third paragraph of your writing. I would save most of these details for later. The only event in which I would consider them significant at the point in time where you give them is if he is going to be a super, super main character or a love interest for Jerica. Even then, I would consider saving the big description for later.

The reason I'm saying this is because we're jumping right into a battle scene here, and nobody is probably thinking about their fellow soldiers' skin, hair, and eye colors. However, I do think it is appropriate the way you've depicted Kieran in these words: "He knelt to refill her quiver with arrows, armor clanking around on his too-small frame as he moved." It is more relevant to what's going on at the moment. So basically, just try to keep your visual descriptions appropriately placed and avoid making them too generic.

I saw very little to nothing in grammatical and punctuation errors. The few things I did see are mostly not worth nitpicking over for the time, considering your overall skill. You seem to know your stuff pretty well when it comes to formatting and the like.

The last thing I will mention is that your opening sentence could use some adjusting. It seemed a little flat for an opener, especially in light of what is going on in the narrative. Maybe aim for something more succinct. Also, you used the term "loosed an arrow" a lot. Consider using more variety in your verbs for shooting.

Overall, you've done well, and I like it. Great job.




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MissGangamash wrote a review...



I saw chapter 2 in the green room so thought I'd check out the beginning.

'Jerica turned back towards the left' - this is very clunky. You've got three different directions going on here.

'fights littering the surface.' - this seems odd phrasing. 'Littering' to me, seems like passing something you're not really paying attention to. As it's referring to fights, I'd use a stronger word. 'Surface' also seems like a weird word to use. Isn't there a word for the top of a wall?

'taking a filled one instead.' - wouldn't 'swapping for a filled one' or 'trading it for a filled one' work better?

“Hello to you too,” Rekard said sarcastically,' - don't need 'sarcastically, it's implied.

Okay, so there's a lot going on here. I get that you want to start to story in medias res, but you've done a weird mix of explaining things - like who the characters are, what the tunnels are etc - without explaining what the battle is about and who the enemy is/why they're the enemy.

It's okay if that comes later but with you putting in minute details about the characters, it feels odd and like there's a massive elephant in the room to not explain the bigger picture.

Also, you mention the battle but I don't know at what scale the battle is. How large is the enemy? 100 men? 10,000 men? It'll help the reader to envision what's going on.

For me personally, there are too many characters in this first chapter for me to remember who each of these people are, but I also know that seems to be a trope in these kinds of stories so it's not exactly misplaced.

Hope this helps :D




ShadowVyper says...


Thanks for the review! I appreciate it!



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mellifera wrote a review...



Shady!

ah!! I'm very excited to see the New and Improved opening to Before the Dragon! I've missed our resident Sassassin(tm). It's going to be weird to see her all reverted and deep in her trauma from before Aerik. It's been,,, a long time lol


Jerica leaned over the castle wall, loosing an arrow directly into the face of the Nykerian soldier climbing up the ladder in front of her. He let out a guttural yelp, blood burbling from his gaping mouth, as he fell straight towards the ground – knocking several of his countrymen from the ladder as he descended. She straightened, reaching over her shoulder for another arrow. Her hand was met by open air.


I think this is a much stronger opening. I'm not as qualified to talk about whether it's intent/message is clear, because I know who the Nykerian soldiers are and that there is a war and, well, a lot, so I can't comment on that. But! you do jump right into the action, as opposed to previously describing Jerica's actions (and also I noticed you kinda accidentally bopped out of Jerica's pov in the first paragraph of the first version as well), which is much stronger. We're given information without info-dumping and you put the reader straight in, in medias res. You also set the tone for how gruesome you're planning to be in the story, which is very good.

“Kieran, arrows,” she muttered, turning towards her squire.


"muttered" isn't really the dialogue tag I would use here. I always imagine battles to be loud. People are yelling/screaming/etc, metal is clashing against metal, everyone's running around. Even if he's right next to her, I think you still need to have her raise her voice to accommodate for the volume, otherwise this makes it sound like the battle is also quiet (which, as I said, doesn't really make sense)

He was a pitiable sight. His sandy brown skin was layered with grime and darkened with the sun, from all the hours they’d spent in battle over the past three days. He pushed his helmet back out of his dark brown eyes and hastily handed her a full quiver, taking the empty one that she shrugged off her back. He knelt to refill her quiver with arrows, armor clanking around on his too-small frame as he moved.


That you describe Kieran well enough that the reader can visualise but quickly enough so that it's not a distraction is great. Everything's chaos right now, and while it's really good to know what Kieran looks like, you also want to keep the action flowing, and I think you balanced that really well.

Jerica turned back towards the left, trying to find the source of the panicked cry. One of her soldiers – a rookie, nearly as green as her squire – was looking at her in desperation.


You knew you couldn't escape my favourite thing to complain about ;) I don't think a description of the soldier here is necessary (actually, I'd advise against it), but how far away is the soldier? Is he on the wall with her and Kieran? She must be close to him if she can see his desperation (and to be honest, while I'd normally say "describe how he looks desperate", I'm actually not going to do that here, because he's not a character we need to see the reactions from and it's in the middle of a fight, so I'd say it's more Jerica noting he looks desperate rather than showing us how that looks).

She took the quiver from her squire, keeping her eyes on her Lieutenant.


I think I'd recommend just saying "from Kieran" and "keeping her eyes on Akeno" since we already know Kieran's her squire and Akeno's her lieutenant. Usually I only use alternative terms/titles for character if I've used their name to much but pronouns aren't clear, and that's not the case here.

Her eyes landed on her Lieutenant, Akeno Haider, as he hurried towards her. His pale skin was burnt to a crisp, and monolid eyes heavy and tired as he looked to her for orders. She took the quiver from her squire, keeping her eyes on her Lieutenant. “Watch Kieran.”

She turned on her heel, looking for her soldier. “Take me to the problem.”


I've probably said this before, but generally when a character has dialogue and it's broken up, you still want to keep it in the same paragraph (since line breaks are usually for 1) when dialogue is crazy long or 2) when a new character is speaking, but neither of those things are the case here).

He sprinted along the wall, darting around the various fights littering the surface.


This sentence reads weird to me? I know what you're saying, but it just...sounds off. I might try something more like, describing an encounter or something like that as their running past, rather than "various fights littering the surface" (also "surface" of a wall sounds wonky?). Maybe like, "He sprinted towards the gate, ducking and dodging out of the violence starting to creep over the wall." I could add more, but I'll leave that up to you as an example of what I mean (also, as a note, how are they not being hit by enemy soldiers? it seems a little alarming that two people just go sprinting by and are let off the hook. I know not everyone would strike at them, but surely there's a few enemy soldiers who are not engaged or have the upper hand and would take a swipe at them?)

He was an average-sized man, maybe a bit taller than the soldiers around them, but compared to Jerica’s small frame he towered over her.


I know I have the tendency to always try to describe the exacts of things, which I think is what happened here, but you can really compress this sentence and get the same result. Something like "He was a little taller than the average soldier, but he had always towered over her [<- added that as a little hint that they have history/he's her uncle]." It's moderately shorter, gets the message across without filler words ("maybe" "a bit"), and you don't even have to mention her small frame since it's implied because he's so much larger than her!

He looked down with the fierce green eyes that matched her own, rubbing his face tiredly.


Maybe this is just me, but I personally never think about how my father's eyes are hazel like mine (unless someone points it out). It's not an issue and if you want to keep it, I wouldn't be unhappy, but is this something that Jerica would note in this moment? I know it reveals they both have green eyes and are probably related, but I just ask that you think about what Jerica's going to be thinking about right now.

“Anything for you, Uncle,” she answered, voice sickly sweet. He rolled his eyes. She smirked and weighed her quiver in her hand. “Didn’t bring enough arrows for this.”


In this instance, describing the tone of Jerica's voice makes it feel disconnected from her perspective. I say that in the sense that: is Jerica hyper-aware of what tone she's using as she speaks? I would ground it in her perspective more by describing how saying that makes her feel ['"Anything for you, Uncle." Her mouth tasted bitter, but she tried to honey her words so he wouldn't notice. He did, of course, raising a concerned eyebrow. She took off her quiver and weighed it, ignoring his worry. She curled the corner of her mouth as she looked back up at him. "Didn't bring enough arrows for this."' obviously that's longer, but is a little more grounded in Jerica's voice/perspective

also a note I wrote this originally with the intention that Derik was the uncle who was being nasty to her because I FORGOT AS ALWAYS but then when I got farther into the story I went back and looked at the other draft to check and make sure I had the uncles right and of course I had them wrong, so this example is off and I apologise, hopefully it got my point across but I certainly wouldn't use that for anything more than an example xD]

She knocked an arrow and stepped next to a decorative pillar,


If they're on top of a wall, what is a pillar doing there? Is there a roof over them? A second floor? I was imagining a wall a la Helm's Deep (sort of) style. Is this a pillar from the first floor the extends up beyond the top of the wall?

I'm sorry I'm grilling you about a pillar :P


Also, thank you for finally giving us the proper representation of numerable arrows and needing to restock them after use.


Sanguis!

She’d heard that word many times over the past several days, and she relished it more each time it landed on her ears. It had started as the Nykerian word for carnage, but over the past several years had become her nickname among Nykerian people. This week it had all but turned into a swear-word.


This is very, very cool and I love it. We didn't get to see much of Jerica being a really good assassin last time (which I think I remarked on a lot lol), so having her with a reputation and an alias like this is awesome. I love it.

A victorious roar went up from the nearby soldiers on the wall.

And then just as suddenly as the cheer broke out, it was silenced, when a loud boom echoed across the battlefield.


I was watching a video of an editor picking at a manuscript a while back and she mentioned how "suddenly" is almost always an unnecessary word, since describing the action already implies it. I am also SUPREMELY guilty of doing this, all the time, but here specifically I wanted to mention it because I think it would be stomach-dropping if it was more like:

A victorious roar went up from the nearby soldiers on the wall. Her heart swelled.

And then it went silent. In the distance, somewhere across the battlefield, a rumbling boom! burst out and broke the momentary stillness.


You can do really whatever you want with the second line, but I say this because you give the reader a moment to celebrate (the victorious roar) and then, almost immediately, take it away (and then it went silent). You can play around with it to however suits your fancy, but rather then going "as suddenly as it came, it was gone", show us how quickly it went away after you gave it to your reader in the prose.

He was a small-time sorcerer – not as powerful as the sorcerer, Lord Biryn, who held the role of Head Advisor in Atraya.


I like the comparison to Biryn here, but I might, rather than phrase it like this, include his position into the first mention of him (that doesn't make sense, I know but like: "He was a small-time sorcerer -- not nearly as powerful as Atraya's head advisor, Lord Biryn[...]"), because is Jerica really going to be going "hm, this man, who holds the position of head advisor".

(yes I am vicious about the way voice is utilised in prose)

Uncle Derik huffed another sigh,


The switch to "Uncle Derik" doesn't really fit the tone here? I think Jerica pulling out a "Derik" or "Uncle" while she's trying to convince him is good, but they're in the middle of a fight and he's Warlord Ainsley. Why is she thinking of him as her uncle right now? I know Derik is meant to be the good uncle (which I was misremembering, once again, rip), but the context doesn't feel right to be referring to him as Uncle Derik since the rest of the chapter he's been Warlord Ainsley.

He snorted, glaring at her.


I'm not sure why, but snorting and glaring at the same time seems? a little contradictory to me? (I think I see snorting = sarcasm, and glaring = anger/frustration, and those two don't really complement each other in this instance)


Also, getting to meet more of Jerica's family before The Snatching??? *eyes*


This is such an improvement from the original intro and I love it! Again, it's hard to say what may or may not be confusing to a reader because I have context for so many things that a first time reader would not, but I think you balanced the introduction of characters/battle/what's going on much better so there was less general confusion. There's enough chaos for a battle sequence, but I don't think it's overwhelming to someone who wouldn't know what was going on before they started.

I do wish you'd gotten a little more into Jerica's head so we had a better idea of her character. I think you did ok, but I did pull some places where I think you disconnected her perspective a little, and that may be something you'll want to keep in mind. Basically, I'm just asking you to think a little harder about what Jerica would be thinking (or how she would be narrating, if you want to think about it like that) in the scenes we see her for. Obviously, take creative liberty, because stories =/= real life and you have to have some disconnect, but just keep in mind whether some of these things are what Jerica would be considering/thinking/describing in the moment.


Otherwise, I'm quite pleased with how this came out and VERY proud of you for coming so far since I first started reviewing for you <333 I KNOW I said this in Fleeting Eternity, but seeing you grow is !!! (you might even say : o : o : o !!!)

If you have any comments/questions about anything I said, please let me know! Otherwise, that's all I've got for you today!

I hope you have a wonderful day, and Happy RevMo!! <3

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ShadowVyper says...


Ahhh thank you so much for the review!!! It was so helpful and SO encouraging!

So, the pillar... I don't love that word for it either, but I couldn't find the right word. So, I was envisioning something like this:

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Generic Medieval City Wall TM but like, not all of it is the same height? So she kinda hid behind one of the tall bits? It's not properly a pillar, but I couldn't think of the right word to describe this???

But anyway, I'm glad to know that this opening is stronger! I am happier with it, and it makes me really pleased that others are also happier with it, too. I almost have the second half of this chapter done so I'll be posting it soon. c:



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Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:50 pm
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Vil wrote a review...



Hey there, @ShadowVyper! It's Vilnius here with a review.

First and foremost-- wow. There is a lot to talk about in this chapter, and I'm already hooked! I'd go back and read the original draft, but-- spoilers.

There were no grammar errors that I noticed, and that always improves a work. You've done an amazing job at writing these characters, though about halfway through, you switch to "Uncle Derrick" and then back to "War Lord Ainsley." I think they are the same person, but it's slightly confusing.

You've given the readers a lot of information in this chapter, but it never really felt like an info dump. It was well-organized, well-ordered, and distributed in a sensible manner. Apart from the Derrick/Ainsley bit, this chapter flows well, and there really wasn't anything to stop in in my opinion.

I also think you've done a great job of balancing Sanguis with Valeren-- that equal fear, that balanced hatred, really adds to this world you've created here!

So, in summary-- I loved it, and I can't wait to read more! Please tell me when the ext chapter is out, and if I don't review it, smother me in notifications until I do! XDD

Have a nice [*insert time of day here*]!!!




ShadowVyper says...


Hey Vilnius,

Thanks so much for the review! I really appreciate it! Yes, Uncle Derik and Lord Ainsley are the same person -- I'll try to clarify that a bit more when I go through to revise.

I'll probably have the rest of this chapter out in a day or two so I'll be sure to let you know when I post it! :D



Vil says...


Yay! This is going to be fun to read. It can be hard to find fantasy that can really get you moving after the first few sentences nowadays, so I'm very excited!



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Mon Sep 07, 2020 10:32 am
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Vincian wrote a review...



Hey Shady! I am excited to see where you’re heading with this new chapter :D Also happy RevMo haha

He let out a guttural yelp, blood burbling from his gaping mouth, as he fell straight towards the ground – knocking several of his countrymen from the ladder as he descended.


Okay, so I definitely didn’t have to look up burbled to actually see if it was a word, definitely not >.> BUT upon not looking it up, I think its use here is a bit awkward? Like, I believe you were maybe thinking of gurgling? Burbling seems like a murmur of a flow or something, which is small or quiet. Now, obviously I’m just using Google, but I definitely think that gurgle is what you were going for :D on another note, this sentence at the beginning is a bit of a run on sentence, but that’s totally minor.

She knocked an arrow and stepped next to a decorative pillar, peering out from behind it as she watched the advancing ram.


*Nocked

Valeren.
If Sanguis was the name that could strike fear into the hearts of Nykerian soldiers, Valeren was the name that Atraians avoided at all costs. He was a small-time sorcerer – not as powerful as the sorcerer, Lord Biryn, who held the role of Head Advisor in Atraya. But strong enough to cause substantial damage when he arrived.


I honestly really like this description of Sanguis, but I like how Valeran caused just as much concern and hatred within the Atraian soldiers. However, I do think that this paragraph here kind of works against you. One of the problems here is explaining how Valeran was the same as Sanguis, where you could explain that better just by getting people’s reactions (and this note is applicable to Sanguis as well, but I think you did Sanguis better). In fact, this paragraph straight up belittles Valeran, saying that they’re not as powerful as someone on their side, and that they’re just a small time sorcerer haha. It’s not nearly as powerful when you’re like “oh yeah, he’s not too powerful but he’s still kinda powerful”, right?

“Hello to you too,” Rekard said sarcastically, following close behind. “Glad the battle is going well. Happy to see you’re still alive. All that fun stuff.”


I like his personality here! I’m glad we’re seeing more variety of personalities within even the first chapter here! I also like the banter between these two.

Okay, I really like this chapter! I love the action that is happening, while you have the precise vision of your main character, Jerica, who navigates us through the battlefield. I also enjoy the amount of showing, not telling, that you’re giving the reader with so much of this chapter. However, one critique here is the amount of weak verbs you used in this chapter. I noticed quite a few but I’ll leave it to you to just look through it when or if you go back and revise this. This is an amazing start to what I think will be a much better draft than your LMS one. Can’t wait to see more! :D

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ShadowVyper says...


Yay! Thanks so much for the reviews, Omni! I am glad to know that this attempt is going better than the first one. I should have the second half of this chapter finished fairly soon :D



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Hey Shadow!

I think I have indeed read the previous draft of this... at least I recognise the character names. But I'm pretty sure it was a while ago, so I have both the benefit of having read this before and looking at it with fresh eyes ;)

Jerica leaned over the castle wall, loosing an arrow directly into the face of the Nykerian soldier climbing up the ladder in front of her. He let out a guttural yelp, blood burbling from his gaping mouth, as he fell straight towards the ground – knocking several of his countrymen from the ladder as he descended. She straightened, reaching over her shoulder for another arrow. Her hand was met by open air.

A great introduction. I like how it's right in the middle of the action. It's a better opening for her character too, I think. It makes her seem more in control, more experienced at what she's doing.


She pulled an arrow and quickly found it a home in an enemy soldier climbing up a ladder a few meters to her left

Love this imagery!

“Kieran,” Jerica said, turning back towards the trembling boy next to her. “Another quiver. And stay here.”
Oh, poor Kieran <3 He's not quite cut out for this, is he?

Sure enough, there was a group of Nykerian soldiers assembling on the ground below them, a massive battering ram in the center of the group. It looked like it took around fifty soldiers to lift the ram – and many, many more were gathered around with shields to guard the soldiers carrying the ram.

I think you used the word ram a little much here. Could you change the last one to it?

He was an average-sized man, maybe a bit taller than the soldiers around them, but compared to Jerica’s small frame he towered over her.

I would reword to 'but he towered over Jerica's small frame'. I just think it makes it a bit more concise :)

She lazily loosed another arrow at the soldier who initially broke the formation, ending his misery with a shaft to the eye.

Oooft!

“Okay,” Uncle Derik said. “Take him anyway.”

Haha!

“Honestly I’m not sure why he’s letting us go with just the two of us.”

This seems like a strange way of wording it.

He stood and grabbed a torch from the wall of the monastery then turned back towards where Jerica still knelt next to the opening. “After you, Princess.”



Wow what a revamp! I really like how you've changed this, it feels like it flows much better than before. We get a really good first insight into the characters and I like that each interaction with a different person shows Jerica's different personalities. She looks after Kieran but is a fierce warrior at the same time.

Hope you continue to work on this and hope my review was helpful!

Icy




ShadowVyper says...


Hey Icy,

Thank you so much for the review!! It's really helpful to have your perspectives on this opening, and I'm so glad to know that this draft is an improvement from the last one! Would you like to be tagged when I post more of this? 100% no pressure either way, just thought I'd offer in case you're interested :)



IcyFlame says...


Sure! I'd love to see how this progresses :) I'm behind on my reviews at the moment, but I'll definitely get to them.




Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads.
— Marianne Moore