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Before The Dragon (Revamp) - Chapter 2.2 (Revised)

by ShadowVyper


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and violence.

Jerica looked around the bustling medical tent, trying to assess who would be the biggest threat to her, should she be discovered. There were about a dozen men only minorly injured, most of whom were sitting by weapons of some type. It seemed like there were close to a hundred men more severely injured lying on cots.

The physicians she’d noticed were hurrying back and forth to provide care as soldiers came by ones or twos to carry in wounded comrades. It looked like there were about a dozen trainees rushing around to help the physicians – how well trained they were in combat was anyone’s guess, but they looked around Jerica’s age, so likely fairly green still.

“You, help me with this man, then get back out to the battle stop hiding in here.” Jerica turned towards the voice of a man two cots behind her. She saw a physician standing over a soldier, rolling him onto a stretcher.

“Sir.” She made her voice as deep and gruff as she could, using the Nykerian word and desperately hoping the Nykerians didn’t have a different custom for acknowledging an order.

She hurried towards the stretcher, keeping her head low, and grabbed the side opposite of the physician. He walked with his back to her, holding the polls of the stretcher on either side of his body as he led the way out the far end of the tent, past the minorly injured soldiers. They didn’t look up from their card game as they passed.

The sight on this end of the tent was gruesome.

There was a massive heap of corpses stacked up just outside the entrance, bloodied and stinking in the hot summer sun. The physician began muttering curses under his breath as they walked. “Sanguis can’t die a moment too soon to suit me… End all this senseless killing.”

He lowered the stretcher to the ground. She set her end on the ground as well. She took a deep breath, stepping nearer to him. He turned around. “Roll this fellow off—”

His eyes instantly grew wide as they locked on her face. Her hands darted out in an instant, grabbing his chin and the back of his head, and twisting it until she heard the pop. She stepped backward as he crumpled to the ground. A shudder ran through her body as she stumbled away from the physician.

She loathed her every kill – but especially so the ones that she had to do with her own hands. It was silent; it was quick. It was intimate. The wave of fear crossing his ocean-blue eyes would be etched into her conscience; the guilt of his death weighing on her shoulders.

“When you finish out here, could you–”

Jerica whirled around. Another of the physicians stood before her, eyes wide, locked on the corpse of his colleague. She grabbed a knife from the belt across her chest as she leapt forward. She grabbed the back of his neck with her left hand, holding him in place, as he plunged the knife into his diaphragm.

He gurled on blood, grasping her arm tightly as his knees buckled. She pulled him closer to the other physician as she lowered him to the ground. He held tight to her arm, gasping for breath, and voice raspy and soft as he spoke. “Rynyr? Is – is Rynyr—”

He coughed on blood.

She pulled her arm away from him.

“Is my son alive?” His eyes screamed with desperation. “Is my Ryn still alive?”

“Yes.”

The doctor closed his eyes, the crease between his eyebrows softening. “Thank the gods. My sweet boy. Tell him I love him.”

Jerica nearly tripped over her own feet as she stumbled backwards, heart feeling as though it’d been ripped straight from her chest. She’d either just lied to a dying man; or left a son to grieve his father. A bitter taste filled her mouth. She spit.

“Dr. Kyrek!”

She whirled around to see a trainee standing at the mouth of the tent.

“SANGUIS!”

Jerica threw a knife from her belt and lodged it squarely in his throat – but it was too late. She heard commotion inside the tent. She yanked the sword from her belt and lunged into the tent in a flurry of motion. Her first swing passed half-way through a man’s neck, leaving him to crumple over on himself on the cot. She made a back-handed swing towards another of the minorly injured soldiers, also easily killing him.

She brought the sword downwards in a stabbing motion, sinking it into the seated man’s torso from just above his collarbone, as she jumped onto the cot where he sat. She grabbed a knife from the belt with her left hand and flung it towards a nearby soldier lunging for his sword. It caught him in the side of the neck and made him topple over, blood spurting everywhere.

Jerica leapt across the body lying in front of her, landing on the next cot over, and tore through two injured soldiers with a single swing as they hurried towards her. She jumped off the cot and fought through the next five – six – seven soldiers who rushed towards her. It was easier work than she was accustomed to. The majority of these men weren’t even wearing armor – plenty of soft fleshy targets to hack away at.

She reached the physician next, sinking her sword into her chest before whirling around to stab at a trainee approaching her with nothing but a metal bedpan raised over his head. She looked towards the mouth of the tent as another trainee was trying to sprint away – no doubt going for re-enforcements. She couldn’t allow that. She hurtled another knife through the air, catching him squarely between the shoulder blades and making him fall flat on his face.

Jerica made her way the length of the tent in a matter of moments, killing each of the men who approached her or looked like they might be in danger of running off and spoiling her edge of surprise, but moving past the men who didn’t even stir at the ruckus she caused. She paused at the end of the tent, heaving to catch her breath. She caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror by the entrance and cringed.

Blood coated her stolen breastplate and bare arms – smeared across her face and helmet as well. She looked like something straight from the underworld. She re-sheathed the sword and wiped her hands with a nearby rag, then found where she’d left her bow by the first physician, and quickly exited the tent before any more soldiers could add to her problem. They’d no doubt find the carnage soon. She needed to be sure she was well away before that happened – but first, the sorcerer.

Jerica re-loaded her knife belts with fresh blades from the weapons rack and added a shield to her repertoire, then started towards the back of the front lines. Valeren was still carrying on with his theatrics, explosions turning different colors and shaking the grounds varying amounts. She spotted him up ahead, maybe twenty meters in front of her, a mess of soldiers standing between her and him.

He had his back turned to her, but there was no doubt who it was. He was tall, broad-shouldered, and grossly overweight, with greasy red hair that hung around his shoulders. He wore flashy purple robes and was holding a staff as he raised his hands. She couldn’t hear what he said, but a moment later a flash of dandelion-colored explosion shook the ground.

A stab of fear shot through her chest and she took a shaky breath. This was one of her stupidest ideas yet. A sorcerer. She couldn’t take on a sorcerer. What had she been thinking, volunteering for this? What an absolute idiot.

She grabbed an arrow from her quiver and notched it, then took a deep breath. She looked down at her right hand, glaring at the slight tremble. Stop. Shaking.

It didn’t listen.

She took another deep breath, calming her nerves, then drew the string and aimed it. She took a moment longer to aim it than she generally did. This one had to be just right. She looked down the shaft of the arrow and positioned the tip until it was pointing at just the right spot in the center of his back, then released it.

A soldier stumbled into the arrow’s path at the last moment. He yelped, falling backward into Valeren.

“Fuck.” She reached for another arrow. Valeren whirled around, eyes locking on her immediately. He started towards her, hand raised and glowing dark cyan. “Fuck!”

Pyrbacthan!

She dove forward to grab the shield, raising it the nick of time. She crouched on the ground behind the shield as rods of dark blue energy crashed rained down on her like lightning. The metal of the shield was growing hot on her arm. She wouldn’t be able to hold it for long. She grabbed a knife from the belt on her chest and threw it in an arch over her shield, careful to keep her arm from passing from behind the shield.

A man yelped, but the barrage of magic pelting her shield didn’t change.

Think of something. Her thoughts felt as trapped in place as she was, crouched behind the ever-hotter shield. She swallowed hard, fear making the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Think!

Her bow was laying on the ground by her feet. It’d be impossible to get a shot off from this angle – she’d have to either to move the shield entirely or remove it from her arm before she could even hope to aim an arrow towards him. Unless –

Anemfens!”

The pressure against her shield suddenly got even stronger, more focused near the center. It took all of the strength she had to keep from toppling over. The roaring of a strong gust of wind filled her ears, overwhelming her senses as it whipped past her shield and slapped her face. She reached for an arrow and notched it.

She took a deep breath, clinging tight to her bow with her left hand and arrow notched on the string in her right, then suddenly relaxed all of the muscles in her body. The force of the wind carried her backwards and drove her into the ground. She was careful to land with her legs curled up by her body, fully covered with the shield, but let out a blood curdling screech.

She forced herself not to pant for breath after. She needed to be still – to give the Nykerians a false sense of security. An eerie silence filled the space around them, and then Valeren’s nasally voice.

“Are you dead yet, whore?”

She grasped her bow tighter. The shield was still so hot against her arm, burning the flesh between her wrist and elbow. She lay flat on her back, straining to hear if he was approaching. When he spoke again his voice was nearer.

“You will be soon, if you’re not already!”

She closed her eyes for a moment, steeling her resolve.

“Let’s take a little look at this ‘mighty warrior’ these cowards sent for me.”

It sounded like he was standing over her.

She took another deep breath, then sprang into motion. She sat up, bringing her shield around in a fluid motion as she drew her bow. The shield slammed into Valeren, making him stumble backward a step. She loosed the arrow.

The tip struck the base of his jaw and cut through the flesh until it lodged itself in the roof of his mouth. He let out a guttural yelp – the arrow in his mouth glinting in the sunlight before becoming coated in crimson blood.

She leapt to her feet, bringing the shield down on him, hard. The bottom edge of the shield lodged in his neck and shoulder, spurting blood into her face. She tried to yank the shield away, but it was lodged in his collarbone. She grabbed a dagger and sliced the leather throngs holding it in place, freeing herself from the shield.

Valeren crumpled to the ground, eyes rolling into the back of his head. Dark smoke began pouring from his every orifice – covering his head and then entire body in a matter of moments. She gawked at him, a lead weight sinking in her gut. That can’t be good.


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Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:55 pm
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JabberHut wrote a review...



OH NO LOL phase 2 of boss fight incoming

What an awesome duel. I'll never get tired of watching Jerica kick some butt, man, 'cause it's just so good. It's so entertaining. The choreography is so much fun to track. She knows exactly what a sorcerer's weakness is -- his physical strength. He has no physical defenses either. Once she's in close range, he's in big trouble. And she totally found her opportunity and took it.

I'd have loved to see the result of Valeren's magic earlier on, maybe before she goes in the tunnels. She can check on the big explosion and witness how many were killed in a single explosion or how some of her men were suffocating in the purple gas or whatever it is. I think it will help build up Valeren as a dangerous mage, making this duel all the more scarier. She's getting pelted by this lightning-ish magic, but showy magic isn't threatening unless it does threaten someone's life, and we don't really see that kind of effect at all.

She loathed her every kill – but especially so the ones that she had to do with her own hands. It was silent; it was quick. It was intimate. The wave of fear crossing his ocean-blue eyes would be etched into her conscience; the guilt of his death weighing on her shoulders.


This is really significant for me. Earlier on, I got the impression she enjoyed her work. Now this is a complete 180 for me, and I'm curious as to where I went wrong. Or is she actually slightly psychotic? Maybe she doesn't like killing at all, but when her mind's deep into the battle, she can't think straight anymore and her instincts take over and she enjoys it anyway. Before, she had those wild looks about her every time she thought about killing or assassinating. Now here, she seems to have a conscience. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, maybe it's just that she hates doing it with her hands -- maybe there's no real art to it like a good blade would or something.

When it comes to soldiers, it's dangerous to humanize your targets, so they typically try to remove the humanity of their enemy soldiers to make the kill easier. (Like calling them "red coats" things like that, as opposed to thinking about how each red coat actually has a family back home and such.) Maybe this is a moment where Jerica's humanity creeped back, and thus her stomach lurched at the thought of murdering a doctor.

XD How convenient that her kills just line up one after another as they check on the previous guy.

Each one of them recognized her immediately though, so I wonder how great that helmet really is.

SHE KILLED SO MANY PEOPLE how is the whole camp not alarmed at this point?! It's just a tent! I would think they'd be aware that there's a brawl in the medical tent, and from what that one physician said... I think she's one of their main targets in this war. It honestly would be worth the entire Nykerian army stopping in their tracks and piling on top of her to ensure her capture. Or Valeren could even just gas the medical tent, knowing there's something going on there and, not even caring about the men inside, just poof the whole tent to smithereens and everyone with it.

It does lead me to what that physician said, though. He blamed Sanguis for all the deaths he'd seen that day and the war in general. It's really intriguing from the reader's perspective! What did she do that brought on this large of a battle?! What happened to bring such hatred of her from the mouths of Nykerian doctors? She's such a large target on their radar apparently that the rest of the Atrayan soldiers are barely a threat to them. (If I'm not jumping to conclusions that is!)

So there was a moment where she was kinda doubting herself, and I really, really loved that. So I'm thinking she is getting hints of humanity back into her soldiering/assassinating gig that's affecting her perspective. This also goes hand-in-hand with what I was talking about earlier, how she knows how big of a threat Valeren is, but we don't. We haven't really seen that threat firsthand, we haven't heard grotesque stories -- we know how gross he is (greasy hair is so gross man omg) and that he did become an instant priority as soon as his presence was made known. So we know there's something about it, we just haven't seen it firsthand.

Overall, this has been another kickass chapter for Jerica. I really can't get enough of her duels, man. She's so awesome! And I love assassin characters. I am a rogue main in RPGs, man. Freaking love them so much. I look forward to reading more! :D




ShadowVyper says...


Thanks so much for your lovely reviews!! I SO enjoy getting to see your perspective of all of this and seeing how everyone and everything is perceived! It helps me see what I didn't really mention because I forget that you guys don't have all the plot bunnies bouncing around in my head unless I tell you lol.

To answer the question about Jerica... she actually really really hates all of the killing so she kind of forces herself to dissociate. It's a "This is FINE! I am FIERCE! I don't even CARE about any of this!" when she's in front of people, but then she has an absolute meltdown whenever she's allowed to be by herself and process what she did, so these are kind of intrusive thoughts that she tries to dismiss so she can go on doing her job.

I'll try to build up Valeren a bit more when I revise! I actually wrote this really anti-climatically and then went back to build it up to this, but I definitely agree that a bit more impacts from him before the battle would be beneficial.



JabberHut says...


Ahhhh yay! I'm glad I was somewhat correct then. And "dissociate" was totally the word I was looking for and failing to find hahahaha. 'Cause that does totally explain the stark difference in her mentality between now and earlier in chapter 1, so in that respect, I think you did a really great job on showing both of those perspectives. There's plenty of time later for the reader to come to a more solid conclusion on what's going on in her head.

And I like that these feelings come back to her when she's killing someone like an innocent doctor, who's simply trying to abide by his oath and save lives, or an armorless man no matter if he's a magic-user or not. I think you chose some really good moments to trigger that for her.

I'm so happy that you appreciate my reviews!! I'm always happy to discuss things too and reanalyze given the information I may have missed or crucial tidbits that weren't included at all that could affect perspectives, things like that.

And to your credit, I love your story. I say it over and over and over but I freaking love assassin stories, and Jerica is just so freaking cool. Your story also really keeps things moving, which is crucial for scenes like wartime where there's so much going on and an urgency in everything everyone does. So your style really works well for these scenes, which I think has played a huge part in how your novel is immediately engaging for readers.



ShadowVyper says...


<333



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Wed Sep 30, 2020 2:45 pm
RadDog13579 wrote a review...



Hi @Shadowviper, RadDog here! Today I'll be reviewing chapter 2.2 of your ongoing novel Before The Dragon.

First Impressions: It was great, I thought that killing Valeren would be a longer task but I was wrong. I really liked how she was a little bit morally concerned about killing all those people, it added a nice touch.

What I Like: The descriptions were amazing, the action was intense, and the dialogue was superb. It was a great chapter all around. The death scene was amazing.

What I Think You Could Improve On: I think that maybe some more challenge would be nice. It felt like there wasn't a full fight between Valeren and Jerica. I think it could have used a bit more action but that's just my opinion.

Overall, this was a great installment. I really enjoyed reading it and can't wait to read the next chapter. Until next time, happy writing!

-RadDog




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Sun Sep 27, 2020 2:03 am
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mellifera wrote a review...



Shady!

Hey, I am here for a review tonight!! I'm super tired, so apologies for any incoherency!! I promise this isn't going to last!


Jerica looked around the bustling medical tent, trying to assess who would be the biggest threat to her, should she be discovered.


Why didn't she do this before killing the physician? I mean, I understand the need for swiftness, but it seems like you'd want to identify this early on, so that you know beforehand if there might be too big a threat to handle if someone discovered the Nefarious Activity Going On.

It seemed like there were close to a hundred men more severely injured lying on cots.


You don't need "like" in this sentence! Sometimes it's fine, but the sentence still works perfectly well here without it, which is a sign it's unnecessary :]

“You, help me with this man, then get back out to the battle stop hiding in here.” Jerica turned towards the voice of a man two cots behind her. She saw a physician standing over a soldier, rolling him onto a stretcher.


Rather than have the unknown man's dialogue on the same line as Jerica's action, I might rearrange this slightly so that it's clear who's speaking? Perhaps:

“You!" She turned to find a man standing two cots behind her, gesturing towards her. "Come help me with this man! Then get back out into battle, stop hiding in here!" He was rolling a soldier onto a stretcher, hands soaked in blood.


It feels a little more direct, and we know who's speaking and who is being addressed here almost immediately? Also, I separated "Then get back out into battle stop hiding in here" <- because they're technically two different thoughts, though one is a continuation of the other. You could separate them with a period or a comma or an exclamation mark, but they shouldn't run into each other. There just needs to be a little break!

(I just added "hands soaked in blood" for the description because it shows he's been busy, but really I just wanted to close the sentence better xD)

“Sir.” She made her voice as deep and gruff as she could, using the Nykerian word and desperately hoping the Nykerians didn’t have a different custom for acknowledging an order.


Does this mean that the man was also speaking in Nykerian? This line kind of makes it sound like Jerica doesn't know a lot of Nykerian, but that wouldn't make sense if she understood what he said (because why would he not speak in Nykerian if she was and she's not even Nykerian? <- my skills of deduction). Maybe say that she changes her voice, and then comment on how the Nykerian tongue is "grating" or "gruff" as she speaks it (or whatever other descriptor you would use to describe how the language feels to her)? Then it shows the reader they're speaking Nykerian without going "they're speaking Nykerian but so you can read it I wrote it in English and am now telling you this because otherwise you wouldn't know".

The physician began muttering curses under his breath as they walked. “Sanguis can’t die a moment too soon to suit me… End all this senseless killing.”


*smiles evilly at the camera*

He lowered the stretcher to the ground. She set her end on the ground as well.


Rather than repeat the same action you just described, you can just write that she "followed his lead" or something, so you don't have the repetition!

His eyes instantly grew wide as they locked on her face. Her hands darted out in an instant, grabbing his chin and the back of his head, and twisting it until she heard the pop. She stepped backward as he crumpled to the ground. A shudder ran through her body as she stumbled away from the physician.

She loathed her every kill – but especially so the ones that she had to do with her own hands. It was silent; it was quick. It was intimate. The wave of fear crossing his ocean-blue eyes would be etched into her conscience; the guilt of his death weighing on her shoulders.


!!!!!!

I love that you describe it as feeling "intimate" and the way Jerica remembers him and also the note that she doesn't like killing with her hands (I had an assassin that favoured bows because he didn't want to see his victims because he hated killing)! love a good spooky image to sully a conscience.

“Is my son alive?” His eyes screamed with desperation. “Is my Ryn still alive?”

“Yes.”

The doctor closed his eyes, the crease between his eyebrows softening. “Thank the gods. My sweet boy. Tell him I love him.”


you know how assassins also give parting words to families of the people they kill

A bitter taste filled her mouth. She spit.


very, very good *chef's kiss*

“SANGUIS!”

Jerica threw a knife from her belt and lodged it squarely in his throat – but it was too late.


I love the symbology of Jerica being exposed and then killing someone in the place they exposed her (weird way to say I like that she threw the knife at his throat/vocal cords after he yelled to call her out).

She hurtled another knife through the air,


how many knives she got?

Jerica made her way the length of the tent in a matter of moments, killing each of the men who approached her or looked like they might be in danger of running off and spoiling her edge of surprise, but moving past the men who didn’t even stir at the ruckus she caused.


wait she killed over a hundred men?? how?? (don't get me wrong, I love her being a good assassin!! and I know many of them are vulnerable!! but that's a LOT OF MEN TO GET THROUGH. think of even a room with thirty people and imagine trying to kill all of them without getting any resistance/injuries yourself!)

She looked like something straight from the underworld.


WORLDBUILDING LORE??

quickly exited the tent before any more soldiers could add to her problem.


isn't she covered in blood though? I MEAN I guess so is everyone probably

Valeren was still carrying on with his theatrics, explosions turning different colors and shaking the grounds varying amounts.


It kind of feels like you didn't know how to finish this, so you just went "varying amounts"? I did this once and someone was like "lol this sounds like you just gave up on this sentence" (which I probably did to be fair). Perhaps "explosions bursting in arrays of colors, shaking the ground in ripples and waves." ? You don't necessarily have to be specific, but the way it's phrased almost makes it sound like *hand gestures* "it do be doing something" (if that makes sense lol I'M TIRED)

He had his back turned to her, but there was no doubt who it was. He was tall, broad-shouldered, and grossly overweight, with greasy red hair that hung around his shoulders. He wore flashy purple robes and was holding a staff as he raised his hands. She couldn’t hear what he said, but a moment later a flash of dandelion-colored explosion shook the ground.


Love the description!! but I do gotta point out the explosions + ground shaking repetition because I'm obligated (by no one but myself). I know they keep happening!! so you have to keep describing them!! but trying to shake up how you describe them might be worth doing, so that there isn't several repetitions of "there was a colourful poof and the ground shook", y'know?

She grabbed an arrow from her quiver and notched it, then took a deep breath. She looked down at her right hand, glaring at the slight tremble. Stop. Shaking.

It didn’t listen.


this is so good, and such good foreshadowing to lead into the later bits with Aerik!! And I KNOW she's going to be like "I'M FINE AND A GREAT ASSASSIN SHUT UP" and it's going to be!! so delicious (weird description but it's FINE)!! I can't wait

A soldier stumbled into the arrow’s path at the last moment. He yelped, falling backward into Valeren.

“Fuck.” She reached for another arrow. Valeren whirled around, eyes locking on her immediately. He started towards her, hand raised and glowing dark cyan. “Fuck!”


!!!! love murphy's law coming into effect here (even if I know she's going to kill Valeren and be physically ok)

“Pyrbacthan!”


:eyes: langauges??? not nykerian???? WORLDBUILDING LORE????

She dove forward to grab the shield


did I miss something? what shield?

“Are you dead yet, whore?”


everyone knows only One (1) insult towards a woman in this universe

Valeren crumpled to the ground, eyes rolling into the back of his head. Dark smoke began pouring from his every orifice – covering his head and then entire body in a matter of moments. She gawked at him, a lead weight sinking in her gut. [That can’t be good.


I think rather than describing what she's thinking (I KNOW I'M THE ONE WHO SAID "DESCRIBE WHAT SHE'S THINKING MORE" I'M SORRY IT SOUNDS LIKE I'M CONTRADICTING MYSELF), you could just go with "A lead weight sank in her gut as the dread of the vision in front of her overwhelmed her senses" <- or just,, something like that. That is possibly very nonsensical and maybe too dramatic. But like, describe her mounting dread and close on that! Cliffhangers are great and I personally love them.


This was!! a much more satisfying resolution to the Valeren/Jerica showdown. They each displayed their power, and it was quick, but Jerica showed herself to be the one who was stronger and quicker and more cunning and she was the one to triumph for those reasons (also because Valeren lol have you never met another villain!! you can't mouth off about how you're going to kill someone if you doubt the legitimacy of their death, you absolute soggy tomato fool).


That's all I have for today I think?? AGAIN I'm sorry I don't have many thoughts, very tired and mind is probably in space?? not sure, should probably find it. But!! I hope this was semi-coherent and helpful <3 I'm GREATLY looking forward to SOFT MOMENT and KIERAN and also other things, of course!!

I hope you have a wonderful day/night/time <3 Happy RevMo!

Image




ShadowVyper says...


Thanks so much for the review!!

you know how assassins also give parting words to families of the people they kill


Ahaha he's dying give him a break ;)

I am! also! excited! for you to get to Soft Moment <3



mellifera says...


Ahaha he's dying give him a break


nobody gets a break from the Snark

<3



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Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:00 pm
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MissGangamash wrote a review...



Another massive improvement! You've lengthened his death that was - what - like 2 sentences? into a whole chapter. This is needed if you're gearing up to something.

Tiny nitpick - 'blue energy crashed rained down on her' - I'm guessing you mean either 'crashed' or 'rained'.

Also, the logistics of her holding the shield while it's being blasted AND notching an arrow into her bow seems impossible, no? If the pressure was that strong, she'd be pretty much immobile - it's even mentioned she's having trouble standing.

Okay, I really liked the description of the magic, though. Very cool! And I liked the touch of the shield getting hot under the magic bolts.

Question - is Jerica supposed to be a likable character or not? Because I really don't like her but I'm not sure if that's what you're going for or not. It's one thing being a solider and doing your duty but I feel like it's an unspoken rule not to go after the healers and the wounded? Like, there's some morality in that. A good solider would be a 'pick on someone your own size' kind of person.

I'm just confused because you write her ruthless but then you add little bits of her feeling guilty, and I'm not sure if you're using that to make your readers like her. Instead, it just makes her character disjointed. If she really hated killing - she wouldn't have ran into the medic tent and killed the already suffering, she would be focusing of the people trying to kill her and then she can be like 'well, I have to do what I have to to protect myself.'

It's totally fine if she is supposed to be unlikable - I enjoy reading stuff from the perspective of immoral people, but with the way she's written, it reads like you're unsure of who she is and how we should be feeling towards her.




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Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:22 am
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Vincian wrote a review...



Hey Shady! You gave me a bit of backlog to read and review. After like a week of nothing, you were like HEY HERE'S FIVE CHAPTER PARTS c: so now you make me want to review all of them and burn myself out of Team Tortoise >:c

how well trained they were in combat was anyone’s guess, but they looked around Jerica’s age, so likely fairly green still.


Okay, two things: One, look at the adverbs you used here. I won't repeat my long spiel the last review, so just make sure to keep it in mind in the future. Two, I think it's highly ironic that they are the same age as Jerica so she assumes they're newbies or not good soldiers. That being said, this is a cool aspect as a reader to stumble on, and it's far better than the things you did in the first draft ahaha. Good job! ALSO third thing, I kinda want to see the action here. I totally get that it needs to be tactical, but definitely let's keep this going.

Jerica threw a knife from her belt and lodged it squarely in his throat – but it was too late. She heard commotion inside the tent. She yanked the sword from her belt and lunged into the tent in a flurry of motion. Her first swing passed half-way through a man’s neck, leaving him to crumple over on himself on the cot. She made a back-handed swing towards another of the minorly injured soldiers, also easily killing him.

She brought the sword downwards in a stabbing motion, sinking it into the seated man’s torso from just above his collarbone, as she jumped onto the cot where he sat. She grabbed a knife from the belt with her left hand and flung it towards a nearby soldier lunging for his sword. It caught him in the side of the neck and made him topple over, blood spurting everywhere.

Jerica leapt across the body lying in front of her, landing on the next cot over, and tore through two injured soldiers with a single swing as they hurried towards her. She jumped off the cot and fought through the next five – six – seven soldiers who rushed towards her.


So, your action scenes are great, but they could be better. I recommend shortening these sentences and removing those unnecessary details, like "another of the minorly injured soldiers". You have a bit of a rhythm here with past then past participle, but I think it would serve you better here if you separate them with periods or semi-colons or mixing the past and past participle in less of a rhythmic way. Also, let's look at the verbs to see how you can make them more impactful. You have heard, and multiple swings, and jumped, and grabbed, and caught, and the oh so not impactful made xD Short sentences, quick action, and strong verbs make good action scenes. I also like the toss a bit of flavor into the action scenes with looking for scenery changes or elevation changes or weapon changes.

Jerica's pretty tactful, right? So, following the death of the physicians, I would assume she would try to find some kind of high ground or vantage point, right? I know she's in a bit of survival mod, but she's been level-headed through battle before, especially in this draft.

“Are you dead yet, whore?”


Meh, this reminds me of your first draft where all people have the same asshole-y personality. Is this the kind of first introduction you want for Valeran? I gotta be honest, I don't prefer this to him dying without any spectacle.

Valeren crumpled to the ground, eyes rolling into the back of his head. Dark smoke began pouring from his every orifice – covering his head and then entire body in a matter of moments. She gawked at him, a lead weight sinking in her gut. That can’t be good.


So you ended this chapter with Jerica's thoughts as well, the same as last chapter, right? I don't think you ending with Jerica's reaction to this new thing is what you want for a chapter ending, as the kinda cliffhanger this is is a little cheesy. I think your addition here of something new, the dark smoke, is a good way to end this chapter. Let's make it more dramatic and impactful. I'm getting a bit tired, but let's see if I can think of anything off the top of my head. I don't know exactly what you want out of this until I read the next chapter, but I'll give it my best shot.

Valeran crumpled to the ground, lifeless.

(what kind of change here could do you talk about regarding some kind of change to Valeran before the smoke? Convulsing? Shuddering? Letting out a breath?)

Blackened smoke billowed out from his orifices, crawling out onto the earth and poisoning the life around it. It searched for something, seemingly having a life of its own. And it found its target: Jerica.


Disclaimer, this isn't the greatest ending personally, but I hope it shows you what I'm looking for in endings and what I believe makes a strong ending for chapters.




ShadowVyper says...


Thanks for the review! That all makes sense. I don't love ending with her thoughts, either. I was just getting told my middle-of-action endings felt too abrupt so I was trying to soften that a bit lol



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Thu Sep 24, 2020 2:12 pm
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Vil wrote a review...



I... I somehow missed this... I'm not the first one here... Darn it.

What I Like
Okay-- this is way different than I remember it. I like it! I still want all of these characters to die.

What I Dislike
...I just realized that we aren't 100% sure what's going on regarding this battle. Why is it happening? That's not a dislike as much as it is a sudden realization.

Bad Jerica! Bad, bad Jerica! We do not attack defenseless healers! I'm happy that they're bad guys, but really! You and I need to talk about the morals and ethics of this...

In Summary
Enjoyed this chapter, but I am not happy with Jerica's life choices at the moment.




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Thu Sep 24, 2020 11:36 am
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ChrisCalaid wrote a review...



Hi, ShadowVaper! I'm here for a quick review...Absolutely not a quick review. The length of this story and the beauty of this story does not allow a quick review. So, I'm here for not so quick review. I have no idea how this story started but I only read this part, for now, so I might not be correct on things here, but as it is review is a review, right? So keep on mind I'm just correcting which makes the review longer and the writer who is listening to it happier. Anyways, let's just dive through them all!

Okay, here are the mistakes and suggestions of mixed color water, blue and white.

It looked like there were about a dozen trainees rushing around to help the physicians – how well trained they were in combat was anyone’s guess, but they looked around Jerica’s age, so likely fairly green still.


Here, you could switch around this part for the better.
It looked like about a dozen trainees were rushing around to help the physicians – how well trained they were in combat was anyone’s guess, but they looked around Jerica’s age, so likely fairly green still.


He gurled on blood, grasping her arm tightly as his knees buckled. She pulled him closer to the other physician as she lowered him to the ground. He held tight to her arm, gasping for breath, and voice raspy and soft as he spoke. “Rynyr? Is – is Rynyr—”
He coughed on blood.

This part just doesn't make sense so I'll assume "gurled" is "hurled.

He hurled on blood, grasping her arm tightly as his knees buckled. She pulled him closer to the other physician as she lowered him to the ground. He held tight to her arm, gasping for breath, and voice raspy and soft as he spoke. “Rynyr? Is – is Rynyr—”
He coughed on blood.


Or do you mean "gurgled".

He gurgled on blood, grasping her arm tightly as his knees buckled. She pulled him closer to the other physician as she lowered him to the ground. He held tight to her arm, gasping for breath, and voice raspy and soft as he spoke. “Rynyr? Is – is Rynyr—”
He coughed on blood.


Jerica nearly tripped over her own feet as she stumbled backwards, heart feeling as though it’d been ripped straight from her chest. She’d either just lied to a dying man; or left a son to grieve his father. A bitter taste filled her mouth. She spit.


"She stumbled backwards" is supposed to be "She stumbled backward".

"She’d either just lied to a dying man; or left a son to grieve his father."
You could use a comma to smooth the flow a tad bit so it doesn't go to bumpy instead of a semi colon. But you don't need a comma nor semi colon nesscarily.

"She spit." It needs to be passed tense of either future tense. "She spat". Or "She spats". And all the things here are passed tense so I'll assume it's suppose to be passed tense, "She spat."

Jerica nearly tripped over her own feet as she stumbled backward, heart feeling as though it’d been ripped straight from her chest. She’d either just lied to a dying man, or left a son to grieve his father. A bitter taste filled her mouth. She spat."
[/qoute]

[qoute]She heard commotion inside the tent.[/qoute]

It needs "a" before "commotion".

She heard a commotion inside the tent.


Jerica made her way the length of the tent in a matter of moments, killing each of the men who approached her or looked like they might be in danger of running off and spoiling her edge of surprise but moving past the men who didn’t even stir at the ruckus she caused.


You don't necessarily need a comma hereafter "surprise". I think it's " a surprise".

Jerica made her way the length of the tent in a matter of moments, killing each of the men who approached her or looked like they might be in danger of running off and spoiling her edge of a surprise but moving past the men who didn’t even stir at the ruckus she caused.


Valeren was still carrying on with his theatrics, explosions turning different colors and shaking the grounds varying amounts.

You need a comma before "and"

Valeren was still carrying on with his theatrics, explosions turning different colors, and shaking the grounds varying amounts.


She couldn’t hear what he said, but a moment later a flash of dandelion-colored explosion shook the ground.

It needs to be "a dandelion-colored " or "the dandelion-colored ", I think.

She couldn’t hear what he said, but a moment later a flash of a dandelion-colored explosion shook the ground.


OR

She couldn’t hear what he said, but a moment later a flash of the dandelion-colored explosion shook the ground.


The force of the wind carried her backwards and drove her into the ground. She was careful to land with her legs curled up by her body, fully covered with the shield, but let out a blood curdling screech.


It's all passed tense here, so I'll assume "backwards" is meant to be "backward".

I think "blood-curdling" is one word, so you can say it as "bloodcurdling" or "blood-curdling, any way you want it.

The force of the wind carried her backward and drove her into the ground. She was careful to land with her legs curled up by her body, fully covered with the shield, but let out a bloodcurdling/blood-curdling screech.


“You will be soon, if you’re not already!”
You could but you don't really need a comma here, it just stops the reader for a moment. So it could either be removed or leave as it is.

“You will be soon if you’re not already!”

[quote] Dark smoke began pouring from his every orifice – covering his head and then entire body in a matter of moments. She gawked at him, a lead weight sinking in her gut. That can’t be good.


You need "the" before "entire", I think.

Dark smoke began pouring from his every orifice – covering his head and then entire body in a matter of moments. She gawked at him, a lead weight sinking in her gut. That can’t be good.


Overall, the mistakes aren't that rarely made and the story is really well written. I love how you wrote it out even though the gory scene comes out of nowhere and surprise a sometimes. I think this is quite a story with quite a beautiful title. I am truly impressed, I just can't believe anyone can write this good and continue on the story, which is a thing I barely can achieve.

You made my day! Have a wonderful day!

Keep on writing!

Best wishes,
Chris

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ShadowVyper says...


Thanks so much for the review! I appreciate it!



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Wed Sep 23, 2020 10:55 am
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Ok here we go again! I already think that this is better than the previous draft as you've expanded on a mission that was supposed to be super dangerous - I don't think it felt so dangerous last time as it was over so quickly.

The pacing here is much better and I like the focus on Valeren's death; it felt like everything was too smooth in the last draft and it didn't build up the tension in the same way. Now I feel like I'm more aware of what Jerica is capable of - she's awesome! xD

I'm still not 100% sure why she decided to attack the 4 physicians... because they were helping the injured? Or was there something deeper behind this one?

She grabbed an arrow from her quiver and notched it, then took a deep breath. She looked down at her right hand, glaring at the slight tremble. Stop. Shaking.

It didn’t listen.

This is great! I like that we see something actually shakes her and she's not completely fearless.

Valeren crumpled to the ground, eyes rolling into the back of his head. Dark smoke began pouring from his every orifice – covering his head and then entire body in a matter of moments. She gawked at him, a lead weight sinking in her gut. That can’t be good.

Nice! I feel like his death was glossed over before but it seems a key plot point so I'm glad you've done it more justice :)


That's all from me! Looking forward to your next update <3


Icy




ShadowVyper says...


Thanks so much for the review! I'm glad to hear that this version is better :D The physician thing I'm planning to expand on a bit more, but yeah, it's mostly because without physicians they are going to lose more men and weaken their forces a lot faster.



IcyFlame says...


Ah, makes sense!




Turn your demons into art, your shadow into a friend, your fear into fuel, your failures into teachers, your weaknesses into reasons to keep fighting. Don’t waste your pain. Recycle your heart.
— Andréa Balt