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Before the Dragon - 1.4

by Shady


“Ma’am.” The bartender nodded to her, reaching out to take her coin purse. He didn’t make eye contact. But, then, she supposed she didn’t need him to.

Jerica turned and glanced around again. The two aggressors had already been escorted out of the room by the soldiers. She glanced back at Rek. “The girl is safe?”

“She’s safe,” Rek agreed with a nod.

Jerica nodded tiredly and rubbed her face again. “Alright, then.” She turned and started for the door. The crowd parted immediately to give her a wide berth. She did her best to ignore them entirely, keeping her sour gaze straight ahead.

Once they were outside, she finally let her shoulders slump as she took a deep breath. It was a warm summer evening, but it felt a bit chilly now that they’d exited the stuffy warmth of the crowded tavern. Especially since Akeno’s shirt was a little damp with sweat. Still, it was better than nothing. And she was grateful for the coverage.

Akeno was on her heels and wrapped his arm around her shoulders the instant they were alone outside. His voice was quiet and gentle as he asked, “are you okay?”

She stopped walking and nodded, leaning against him for a moment, letting him support her weight. “Just exhausted… and angry.”

“Understandable.”

She nodded again, closing her eyes, and heaving a deep sigh. “So tired.”

“Let’s get you home, then.” He tightened his grasp for the briefest moment in the hint of a side-hug, then he pulled away and started for the stable. They weren’t supposed to show affection in public and they both knew it. People would talk.

Jerica opened her eyes and followed him, shoulders slouching.

“You okay?” Rek appeared at her right shoulder, looking at her in concern.

“I’m fine.” She nodded tiredly, glancing over at him. “Just wanna get home.”

“Fair.” He nodded, matching her pace.

They rounded the corner into the stable, and saw a couple soldiers already there, saddling their horses.

“Ma’am.” The soldier nearest them nodded to her, then Rek and Akeno. “Sirs.”

“Hello.” Rek returned the nod, striding forward to take the reins the soldier held out to him. “Thank you, Ty. Get some rest, okay?”

“Yes sir.” The young man nodded, umber skin damp with sweat as he looked up into the face of his commander. “You too, sir.”

Rek offered a tired smile and nod, then strode outside, leading his horse behind him.

Another soldier walked forward with Jerica’s horse. She took his reins with a nod of thanks and shuffled outside tiredly, throwing her arm around her horse’s neck and leaning against him heavily. “Hey buddy. Who’s a good boy? My little baby. Ranofer. Honey.”

Ranofer was a gift from Zander for her twelfth birthday, and she cherished him greatly. Zander was the absent uncle who she wished wasn’t so absent. She knew it wasn’t his fault – he was a busy man with a lot going on, and he came by as often as he could. But she missed him terribly. And Ranofer reminded her of him. So she doted on him shamelessly, especially when she was as drunk as she was now.

“Baby boy,” she murmured as she got him outside and then clumsily attempted to mount him. It was awkward and took her several tries to even get her foot in the stirrup, much less heft herself up. And then once she did, she nearly overcorrected and tossed herself off the other side. She was too tired and sore and drunk for this. But before long she was seated and slouched down in the saddle scratching his shoulder. “Take me home, buddy.”

He gave a little snort of acknowledgment. At least she was going to pretend that’s what that meant. She glanced up and saw Rek off to her right and Akeno to her left, both also on their horses – Akeno’s bare chest illuminated by the moonlight. Her gaze lingered a moment longer than it should have and she bit her lip and turned away, urging Ranofer forward.

Their party of three chitchatted a bit as they made their way through the winding city and up the slight incline than led to the Palace, but Jerica was mostly in her own little world. Blood rushed around her temples too loud for her to be able to focus on conversation. And it felt like each breath took every bit of her energy reserves to be able to draw it. She was grateful to have people she trusted with her, so they could be sure they stayed safe and she wouldn’t have to be on high alert on the ride home.

Akeno and Rek dismounted outside the Royal Stables and led their horses inside like they were supposed to. Jerica rode Ranofer directly into his stall, despite the dozens – perhaps hundreds, at this point – of times she’d been chastised to dismount outside. She slid off his back and then stumbled into the wall before she caught her balance. Her body felt like it weighed as much as Ranofer did himself.

She groaned and rubbed her face – carefully – then sighed and started fumbling with Ranofer’s girth to unfasten his saddle. Why was life so hard right now? Her brain was slow, her hands were clumsy, her body was heavy.

“Jer?”

“Mm?” She turned her head with a grimace as she heard Rek’s voice behind her.

“I’ll get Ranofer,” Rek offered, striding into the stall and putting a hand on her shoulder to massage it for a moment. “How about you get to bed? You’ve gotta be wiped.”

“I’m fine.” Jerica shook her head, then winced again as it sent a stabbing pain through her head. She rubbed her face with a sigh.

“Be that as it may…” He gently turned her and guided her towards the door. “You’ve done enough for tonight. I’ll grab the horses – it’s the least I can do, since you two dealt with the drunks. It’s okay.”

“Mm… he needs grain,” she muttered, deciding it wasn’t worth the argument.

“Yup.”

“And a brush down.” Jerica stumbled as she crossed the threshold, but Rek steadied her.

“I know,” he said patiently. “I know Ranofer’s nightly routine as well as I know my own. I’ve got this handled. Get to bed. Please.”

Jerica grumbled but nodded and shuffled forward. “Thanks.”

“You betcha.”

“Thanks, Rek!” Akeno nodded to him, then turned and matched Jerica’s pace as she strode towards the door – near enough to steady her if needed, but not touching her for now. “Have a good night.” 


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Sun Apr 30, 2023 1:46 am
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SilverNight wrote a review...



Heyyyy Shady! Thought I'd take advantage of this Review Day and stop by here for more Jerica fun ;)

I don't have a funny tagline word or phrase for my reviews like you do (you know what I'm referring to, but it doesn't feel right for me to use it because it'll get counted at the end of the day and it's very much your phrase XD), so I'll get right into this! ^^

“Ma’am.” The bartender nodded to her, reaching out to take her coin purse. He didn’t make eye contact. But, then, she supposed she didn’t need him to.


This might be my most-offered feedback on YWS chapter parts lol and I don't actually know how valuable/useful it is, but I generally think it's better to use a character's name instead of a pronoun like "her" the very first time they show up in a new part posted to YWS. I know it's Jerica of course, so it's not a confusion thing, but visually the "her" looks a little unspecified in a new part without a name attached to it here, you know? If this isn't helpful, I understand XD seriously, if this is nitpicky, just let me know and I won't mention it again ^^

Akeno was on her heels and wrapped his arm around her shoulders the instant they were alone outside. His voice was quiet and gentle as he asked, “are you okay?”


“Let’s get you home, then.” He tightened his grasp for the briefest moment in the hint of a side-hug, then he pulled away and started for the stable. They weren’t supposed to show affection in public and they both knew it. People would talk.


:eyes: to this >.>

I feel like the first part here implies this is already a side hug before the squeeze, and that it would look like one too? So I'm not sure about it being a hint.

Jerica opened her eyes and followed him, shoulders slouching.


Wait, so did she see he was going for the stable with her eyes closed? This was not an aforementioned destination XD

“Yes sir.” The young man nodded, umber skin damp with sweat as he looked up into the face of his commander. “You too, sir.”


So this is one of the first character appearance descriptions so far, and I think we could use some for Jerica, Akeno and Rek? You don't necessarily have to do one for all of them in the first chapter, but it is good to do those sooner rather than later as you helpfully reminded me for TLS XD ^^

So she doted on him shamelessly, especially when she was as drunk as she was now.

“Baby boy,” she murmured as she got him outside and then clumsily attempted to mount him. It was awkward and took her several tries to even get her foot in the stirrup, much less heft herself up. And then once she did, she nearly overcorrected and tossed herself off the other side. She was too tired and sore and drunk for this.


Love drunk Jerica. It surprises me that Akeno and Rek aren't having a laugh at her right now though XD

He gave a little snort of acknowledgment. At least she was going to pretend that’s what that meant.


10/10 horse communication ;)

Why was life so hard right now? Her brain was slow, her hands were clumsy, her body was heavy.


I think the question here feels too broad and a bit dramatic as a result because "life" pretty much refers to everything that's going on for Jerica at the moment, and we really haven't gotten a sense of her problems outside of this moment, so it reads a little dramatically-- does that make sense?

~~~

Alright! Jerica's going to get some much needed sleep, I highly approve ;)

I don't have much of an idea of what is scheduled/going to happen in the morning, which I might like to have a sense of because Jerica is probably going to be in terrible shape for it and she probably knows it, but I know most of this event was really just an introduction to these three and so the plot stuff isn't necessarily going to happen that soon. Still, I'm super excited to see what happens!

I'll definitely get to the last part of this chapter for Review Day! Great job with your writing and I hope you're having a good day <3

- silver c:




Shady says...


Silv! Thank you SO much for the lovely reviews and sorry it took a while to reply xD

(you know what I'm referring to, but it doesn't feel right for me to use it because it'll get counted at the end of the day and it's very much your phrase XD)


omg SILV you can Schadenfreude to your heart's desire xD that is very much NOT my phrase hahaha in Review Days of Olde it used to be a game to see how many times people could use those words -- they were not added to the count for me lol I just date myself by continuing to use them even tho no one does anymore ;)

For example: July Review Day Review

I generally think it's better to use a character's name instead of a pronoun like "her" the very first time they show up in a new part posted to YWS.


Very valid! I try to be better about this, but in this chapter I sort of divided mid-write and didn't notice lol thank you for pointing it out!

Love drunk Jerica. It surprises me that Akeno and Rek aren't having a laugh at her right now though XD


That's true xD

I think the question here feels too broad and a bit dramatic as a result because "life" pretty much refers to everything that's going on for Jerica at the moment, and we really haven't gotten a sense of her problems outside of this moment, so it reads a little dramatically-- does that make sense?


That's fair ^^ I was sort of going for melodrama here, but if that doesn't work, it's good to know haha

Like, when I get drunk, I have been personally known to go "why is my life so hard right now?" audibly over the simplest of things, such as not being able to get a straw in a juice box, not being able to tie my shoes, etc. and then people laugh at me for being dramatic haha

Sort of what I was going for here is to show she's got a tendency to make all-or-nothing statements like that ^^

Thanks again for the reviews! Super helpful <3



SilverNight says...


oooh I appreciate the Ye Olde Review Day history (or is that lore?) tidbit, that's fascinating! Glad I could be of some help <3

Like, when I get drunk, I have been personally known to go "why is my life so hard right now?" audibly over the simplest of things, such as not being able to get a straw in a juice box, not being able to tie my shoes, etc. and then people laugh at me for being dramatic haha


also this is good quality melodrama XD



Shady says...


hahaha, I'm sure you're very surprised to hear that I have a flair for the theatrics whilst drunk ;) xD



SilverNight says...


very much so XD



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Sun Mar 26, 2023 8:23 am
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



I have returned! I'm not sorry for the notifications you're going to get from me when you wake up xD

Jerica turned and glanced around again. The two aggressors had already been escorted out of the room by the soldiers. She glanced back at Rek. “The girl is safe?”

“She’s safe,” Rek agreed with a nod.

I like that this can be jointly interpreted by the fact she's had too much to drink and can't really focus and the fact she's obsessed with getting the girl home safely. I think it's more the latter, but it does also serve to remind us that Jerica is not 100% here (although I suppose as the reader we've only seen her intoxicated at this point anyway).

Another soldier walked forward with Jerica’s horse. She took his reins with a nod of thanks and shuffled outside tiredly, throwing her arm around her horse’s neck and leaning against him heavily. “Hey buddy. Who’s a good boy? My little baby. Ranofer. Honey.”

I love the development of her relationship with the horse this time around. I must admit, it makes me worried you're going to kill off the horse at some point as a kind of metaphor for the last of her youthful innocence dying but I'll try to put that to the back of my mind. I also liked the mention of Zander here, but it felt a bit info heavy. I wonder if you could tweak it a little bit (suggestion below, but feel free to ignore it and write your own!)
Ranofer was a gift from her absent Uncle Zander for her twelfth birthday, and she cherished him greatly. Zander was a busy man with a lot going on, and he came by as often as he could but she still missed him terribly. And Ranofer reminded her of him. So she doted on him shamelessly, especially when she was as drunk as she was now.
I've essentially combined the first two sentences, but it just made it a bit more horse focussed instead of uncle focussed (if that makes sense!)

Also, are there no drink riding laws in this town?

Rek & Akeno are so very wholesome <3 I can't quite work out if Rek's supposed to know about the two of them, but I'll wait to find out! One more part left!




Shady says...


Also, are there no drink riding laws in this town?


I... honestly had no idea DUI laws applied to horses xD I looked it up after your comment and see some states prohibit it in the US, but most of the places I've lived are totally cool with you using anything that doesn't have a motor lol (i.e., you can get a DUI for a motorcycle but not a bicycle) and I assumed horses were fair game.

So... we're gonna go with no laws xD and she wouldn't think they applied to her regardless, given her position.

Rek & Akeno are so very wholesome <3 I can't quite work out if Rek's supposed to know about the two of them, but I'll wait to find out! One more part left!


<3

And yes, he does indeed know but is lowkey about it because it's not public knowledge lol figured that could develop over time ^^




she slept with wolves without fear, for the wolves knew there was a lion among them.
— r.m. drake