z
  • Home

Young Writers Society



The Last Spell 2.1

by SilverNight


If Shane had to place himself and the two people sitting on either side of him on a spectrum of who was feeling the most bored, he wouldn’t have to give his ranking a second thought.

To his left, Dawn was hunched over a touchscreen and holding a stylus, only directing her attention away from it when she needed to tuck a dark braid behind her ear or glance up at her subject. Whenever she was at work on her art, Shane would notice drops of ink or smudges of paint staining her brown skin, but her hands were clean today. Dawn liked to sketch, and she found it easier to use a screen when traveling. She looked perfectly focused on her work, and he would guess that she could go on waiting another twenty minutes without any problem.

Kasumi was a different story. She’d changed her position on the bench every half-minute, and she had even got up at one point to pace around. Just when Shane had gotten tired of hearing her heels clicking, she’d sat back down in an even stranger position. Currently, her chin was resting on one knee with her other leg folded underneath. It looked uncomfortable, and she was getting pale in this cold, but Kasumi still somehow managed to hold it with her usual grace. She’d no doubt move again shortly.

And him? He was too exhausted to hold any real opinion.

Shane sat up hopefully when he heard footsteps and the swish of the hotel’s revolving doors behind them. Just a few moments later, a bodyguard tapped him on the shoulder. “It’s an estimated six more minutes,” she said, and he nodded before dismissing her indoors again. He couldn’t remember if she was the one who’d be joining them on the ride, but someone would. There were two more in the lobby, watching their Heirs through the windows.

He checked the car’s progress on his communicator despite just hearing of it. It wasn’t like there was anything else to do. Shane considered himself rather patient, but this day already wasn’t going as planned. City traffic only made things worse. He fell somewhere between Dawn and Kasumi on that spectrum, where he could hold it together but was ready for this to be over.

Kasumi’s finger suddenly blocked his view of the screen as she pointed at the red dot that was still several blocks out. “Seriously? It’s still that far away?”

Shane shrugged, glancing at the plaza ahead. Cars, trucks and motorcycles formed a slow-moving ring around it, while the crowd of pedestrians took a turn waiting at the lights. “It’s very sluggish today.”

“At this rate, Leilan and Kaja will get here well before the car does.”

“No, they won’t. They’re way too late for that.”

Kasumi shook her head. “You take things too literally.”

Dawn looked up from her artwork. “You know, Kasumi, it might be good to look around at this landmark if you’re so bored. It’ll keep you engaged.”

“I’ve done nothing but stare at the Plaza of Claws for the last however many minutes it’s been,” Kasumi insisted. “Besides, Shane’s the one who really cares about these buildings, not me.”

“I studied history, not architecture,” Shane reminded her. “I don’t really know that much about it.”

She pointed to the clock tower on the opposite side, which Dawn had made into her main subject of the sketch. “So you’re saying you didn’t spend time reading up on all the historic sites before getting here, such as that?”

Shane sighed. “It’s a thirteenth century Spark Age building, constructed to commemorate the Summer War. It’s Force that keeps the gears and hands turning rather than anything mechanical or electric.”

Kasumi smirked, her straight black hair spilling to one side as she tilted her head smugly. “Yeah, I thought you had.”

“Kasumi,” Dawn said gently, chiding her, but made no real rebuke before she went back to her work.

Resisting the urge to act unprofessional, Shane turned back to the plaza and closed his eyes, inhaling deeply through his nose before releasing the breath.

As three Heirs, they were all on equal standing, but being twenty-four years old— or more aptly, three years older than Kasumi and Dawn— he had unofficial sovereignty for the moment. He was glad he wouldn’t have it for more than a few hours. Leilan was much better at managing all of them, despite being only a little older than Shane and three full years younger than Kaja. But their flight was delayed, and they wouldn’t get to Crystal City until their meeting with the mayor was over.

That left him in the thrilling position of what his uncle would call diplomatic responsibility and what Shane called being the scapegoat if Kasumi is feeling spiteful. The Heir of the House of Honor had already offended quite a few government officials in her short time with the role.

He hoped he would be lucky today.

Shane must have spent several minutes lost in thought, because when Dawn and Kasumi shifted, he opened his eyes to see that the car was finally here and that they’d both stood for it. The same bodyguard who had come out before now stood between them and the vehicle. She tapped a tinted window, which rolled down to reveal their driver, who looked the three of them over. “Ms. Fairburn,” he said to Dawn in a gruff voice, then he addressed Shane and Kasumi in turn. “Mr. Hawking, Ms. Hisakawa. My apologies for the delay.” He wasn’t supposed to know their first names.

“Are you naming respected House officials?” Kasumi asked, her tone light and almost sweet. “Or the three people you kept waiting for almost half an hour?”

Dawn gave her an upset look at the same time that Shane gave her a warning one. It wasn’t a good idea to go saying that on the street, even if it hadn’t been such an impolite way to announce it. But the driver just let out a low laugh, gesturing to the backseats. “I will do my best to get you there as close to on time as possible, miss.”

Shane cleared his throat. “I’d like to check the car first, if I may.”

The driver didn’t look to be expecting the request, but he nodded and stepped out almost right away. “Of course, sir.”

A quick look over his shoulder as he stepped towards the front told him the reactions of the others. Their bodyguard was impassive and silent, just there to do her job. Kasumi looked vaguely frustrated that he was slowing them down, but she seemed to understand. And Dawn just watched with a solemn, sympathetic expression that looked almost like pity.

That was the worst look to get.

Shane did his best to push it out of his mind as he examined the front two seats, fingers trailing over the surfaces that were harder to see. Next were the back seats that they would be sitting in, one row facing forwards and one row back. He stepped out again to open the trunk and scout the inside, pulling up the carpeted bottom to inspect underneath. And most importantly of all, he crouched down to search the underside of the car, scanning every square inch of the surface for something that shouldn’t be there.

When he stood up again, Shane didn’t say he was satisfied. He wasn’t quite sure it was true. It was easier to say nothing, so he just stepped in the car and moved to the right side in the forward-facing row. Dawn sat on his left, and Kasumi took the backwards seat facing him. The driver and their bodyguard took their seats up front, and then they were buckled and driving.

It was worse than being on the bench, he decided. It was nice to be out of the cold winter air, and it was a setup designed to be comfortable, but he couldn’t get himself to relax. The closest he could get was a little distraction from looking out the window. The largest of the mountain ravines that ran through Crystal City was occasionally visible when they passed through an intersection, and Shane was relieved they weren’t taking one of the crossings. Not only would it be the worst spot for traffic, but he didn’t need to worry about plummeting right now.

He glanced over to Dawn’s side of the car to watch the skyscrapers through her window instead. Only a little light shone through the gaps in the clouds, but it was enough to make the glass sparkle like the snow on the peaks behind. It was a dazzling effect, but Dawn didn’t seem interested in the view, or even in going back to her drawing. Instead, she fidgeted with her ring with a black gem that showed she was of the House of Loyalty, twisting it on her finger and biting her lower lip. If he didn’t know better, Shane would guess that she was worried.

Well, if she was, that made two of them. Kasumi looked carefree now that she was in the car.


Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
280 Reviews

Points: 51979
Reviews: 280

Donate
Mon Dec 11, 2023 6:20 pm
RavenAkuma wrote a review...



Hello again, my friend!

Alright, so now we have three new characters being added to the story. They sound interesting, and I have no qualms with the way you introduced them. Everything feels casual and it's pretty easy to follow them.

I have one note to make, and it's a compliment as well as a slight critique.

Descriptions! You display a knack for really good descriptions, with vivid detailing. Such as in that second-to-last paragraph, "Only a little light shone through the gaps in the clouds, but it was enough to make the glass sparkle like the snow on the peaks behind." You follow up with the word "dazzling" to really solidify the effect.

My only critique is that I would hope to see more of it! It feels like you're displaying some incredible talent at building a picture with those lines, but you're holding back for some reason. And that's a real shame.

For example, though it's clear that Dawn has dark braids and dark skin (with ink or paint smudges on her hands, that was a great note for an artsy character), I would like to know what she's wearing. Even just a note about "a simple button-down shirt and dark jeans" would make it easier for us to picture her. It would give the impression that she's a casual character that likes to blend in, and in unison with the paint smudges, would imply she cares more about her art than fussing about clothes. Similarly, a note about "casual clothes, in contrast to her cheeky personality" would tell us how she presents AND her typical demeanors, which could be especially important if these characters become common and/or essential in the story. You don't have to fret about the exact cut of every garment, or the shape of the button on a shirt, but I think there needs to be at least a foundation for the reader to build a picture. A color palette, a style (casual, formal, eccentric, traditional, etc.), and maybe a distinct item that stands out, like a special hair accessory, colored glasses, or the pattern on a shirt. You DID do this with Dawn's special ring, toward the end, so kudos to you for that. Like I said, it feels like there just needs to be more.

I honestly think character descriptions would be much more important than, per se, specific information on characters we have yet to see, like Leilan or Kaja. Although it was a good note that Shane has "unofficial sovereignty" from his age, and how he feels about that, as that hints toward the dynamic of the current group.

Apart from Kasumi having straight black hair, we don't even have much of a hint as to what Shane and Kasumi look like or how they present, which is a pity. Clothes, skin tones, and eye colors would all help tremendously, as well as a hair shade/length/texture for Shane.

Some more descriptive and/or sensory notes about places like the hotel lobby wouldn't hurt either, though I don't think that would be quite as critical, since there's a lot of moving around in this chapter. However, having an "open-to-interpretation" setting AND characters feels like a little too much...well, interpretation, haha.

Of course, this is my personal opinion, and I am not a professional. I am not trying to be negative either, nor would I dare say the chapter is bad, I hope that's clear. You did very well and have continued building an interesting world. I would just hope you give us more, and don't be afraid to show your descriptive talents ~

That is all for now. Have a great day/night! :)




User avatar
229 Reviews

Points: 9163
Reviews: 229

Donate
Thu May 04, 2023 11:14 pm
foxmaster wrote a review...



Hello this is Foxmaster!!!
Just to let you know this is probably gonna be a terrible review so just go with it.

If Shane had to place himself and the two people sitting on either side of him on a spectrum of who was feeling the most bored, he wouldn’t have to give his ranking a second thought.

NOOO! no nonono! *continues no's and says it to the beat of the batman theme song for no particular reason* COME ON! You really left these people in the middle of a quest and added these random people in?!?! I was actually debating whether to skip this chapter and go strait to three but what if there's really important info here? So, nah, never mind.
Kasumi was a different story. She’d changed her position on the bench every half-minute, and she had even got up at one point to pace around. Just when Shane had gotten tired of hearing her heels clicking, she’d sat back down in an even stranger position. Currently, her chin was resting on one knee with her other leg folded underneath. It looked uncomfortable, and she was getting pale in this cold, but Kasumi still somehow managed to hold it with her usual grace. She’d no doubt move again shortly.

I already like Kasumi...
Shane shrugged, glancing at the plaza ahead. Cars, trucks and motorcycles formed a slow-moving ring around it, while the crowd of pedestrians took a turn waiting at the lights. “It’s very sluggish today.”

I read "plaza" wrong and thought it was "Pizza" instead, making me hungry again, then I realized, "oh wait that is not PIZZA, that is PLAZA" and got really disappointed. I do not know why I mentioned all that but I just did.
and that's all! I have to say I'm kinda confused here to be honest and disappointed here too. With the switches, I mean. That's all!
-Foxmaster!!!




User avatar
3821 Reviews

Points: 3691
Reviews: 3821

Donate
Sun Dec 18, 2022 3:31 am
View Likes
Snoink wrote a review...



WAIT. NO. YOU CAN'T JUST STOP WHEN CYRIN AND MIREYA ARE--

Okay, okay... we'll see what these characters are doing. BUT YOU BETTER FINISH THAT OTHER PART, YA HEAR ME?????

And him? He was too exhausted to hold any real opinion.


OH SHANE, YOU'RE NOT ALONE. I FEEL THIS IN MY BONES SO MUCH.

There were two more in the lobby, watching their Heirs through the windows.
There were two more in the lobby, watching their Heirs through the windows.[/quote]

Wait... these people are Heirs now??? DUN DUN DUNNNNNN.

That left him in the thrilling position of what his uncle would call diplomatic responsibility and what Shane called being the scapegoat if Kasumi is feeling spiteful. The Heir of the House of Honor had already offended quite a few government officials in her short time with the role.


LOL. Kasumi in the House of Honor??? OH DEAR.

A quick look over his shoulder as he stepped towards the front told him the reactions of the others. Their bodyguard was impassive and silent, just there to do her job. Kasumi looked vaguely frustrated that he was slowing them down, but she seemed to understand. And Dawn just watched with a solemn, sympathetic expression that looked almost like pity.


OMG. He became an heir when someone, presumably someone he was connected to closely, was blown up in a car, wasn't he???? AHHHHHH I FEEL SO BAD FOR HIM AND I DON'T EVEN KNOW FOR SURE IF THIS IS THE REASON.

Instead, she fidgeted with her ring with a black gem that showed she was of the House of Loyalty, twisting it on her finger and biting her lower lip.


OH LOOK. A COLORED GEM. ON A RING.

...MAYBE the purple ring is an HEIRloom????


That is a joke.

Okay, this review is DEFINITELY way more incoherent than the first incoherent reviews, so... um... I should probably go to bed soon. But this is definitely an intriguing development... though the heist is definitely more fun, hahha.




Shady says...


hahaha I just saw this first paragraph on the home page and had to chuckle because I remember having literally the exact same reaction xD



Snoink says...


Fortunately, my procrastination has actually AIDED me because chapter 3 starts with them. :3



SilverNight says...


It appears to be a universal reaction XD



User avatar
935 Reviews

Points: 2806
Reviews: 935

Donate
Tue Dec 06, 2022 12:09 am
View Likes
Shady wrote a review...



If Shane


What? No >:[ You can't just leave me HANGING with heist-ers mid-heisting >.>

Okay, fine. Fine. I will give Shane a chance, I guess.

~

I am intrigued and vaguely confused by this chapter part, but I will try to withhold my complaints until I see how this shakes out a bit more. I am a little confused about the various Houses and political spheres that they seem to be connected to, but you can only introduce it so fast without just telling us everything, so I won't complain too much, yet. Just know that I am a tiny bit confused by it right off the bat, and am hopeful that there are more explanations forthcoming shortly ^^

But I think that's all I've got for you here!

~Shady 8)




SilverNight says...


thank youuuuu for the review, hopefully things got clearer XD



User avatar
378 Reviews

Points: 3775
Reviews: 378

Donate
Wed Oct 12, 2022 8:11 pm
View Likes
Omni wrote a review...



Hey there silv! How's it going? I hope your day is well :D I'm going to review this piece now so I hope that doesn't sour your day >.> ive heard my reviews are souring. also no capitals from now on lol whoops

so i get what you wanted with the first sentence, but it feels clunky to read, and yknow we didn't get the ranking lol i wanted that ranking >:c

Dawn looked up from her artwork. “You know, Kasumi, it might be good to look around at this landmark if you’re so bored. It’ll keep you engaged.”


hmmm, see i didnt get the feeling kasumi was bored with what she said. im sure dawn knows kasumi better than me lol but i feel her impatience more than her boredom. if anything, i feel like dawn is the bored one there.

“I studied history, not architecture,” Shane reminded her. “I don’t really know that much about it.”



so theres this trope, i forgot what its called, but its when a character "reminds" another character of something that they would supposedly know just to inform the audience. while theres definitely possibility that kasumi wouldnt know it, i still think this falls in that trope. what makes me feel that is that that information really isnt adding all that much to the scene xD

Shane sighed. “It’s a thirteenth century Spark Age building, constructed to commemorate the Summer War. It’s Force that keeps the gears and hands turning rather than anything mechanical or electric.”


ahh yes the spark age of the electric fence in the time of the year of our lord 1844 or something like that. im sure this is information that i will completely remember and is super important or something along those lines. okay im sorry for the sarcasm im just saying this information didnt absorb whatsoever for me.

so far their interactions dont feel as natural or compelling as your character in chapter one. i think that part of it is that they're royalty so they were probably royalty first and friends second, so theres always that aura of politics and politeness will always be there. or perhaps its because leilan isnt there, so we're missing an important part of the dynamic.

“Are you naming respected House officials?” Kasumi asked, her tone light and almost sweet. “Or the three people you kept waiting for almost half an hour?”


love this line! oof what a burn haha but also one of the reasons i love royal political stuff because theres so much insidiousness within the conversations and theres always so much underneath what was said. yesssss

That was the worst look to get.



wow so this chapter got a lot more interesting, like really fast! so, shane has had some kind of traumatic experience with cars. maybe someone close to him died in a car accident or malicious sabotage. spooky. cars are already so dangerous. love the hint of something more here, the mystery, the past, the drama. yesssssss

there's definitely more to read! i will get to it eventually, but continue writing, you got this ^^ happy lms, hope this review helped




SilverNight says...


thank yaaaaa c:



User avatar
672 Reviews

Points: 81482
Reviews: 672

Donate
Tue Sep 27, 2022 2:37 am
View Likes
Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

Loved the change in POV in this one! I am anxious to get back to Cyrin and Mireya's story, but these three are also quite promising! They seem to honestly be at the opposite ends of society than our previous two protagonists—given all this "heir" business, they seem quite like royalty to me. I'm curious to dive deeper into that whole system.

One thing I enjoyed was the introductions of these three new characters; Kasumi seems quite concerned with things being exactly right and is quite snappy, whereas Shane and Dawn seem more laid back. I think their dynamics were nicely conveyed in this part—Shane definitely felt like one of the most mature, if not a little unsure in his role. I'm curious to see where Dawn goes over the course of the story; she seems to be more understated and introverted. I'm curious if we're going to get POVs from Dawn or Kasumi later on—it'd definitely be interesting, but I guess I'll have to wait and see which ones play a big role in the story.

One thing I would say is that at the beginning, you don't actually describe the setting super well. I'm also a victim of kind of ignoring descriptions, but I'm not actually sure where these three are, so my brain kind of made up a filler place (for some reason, it was on a train) and then when I got down to later parts and you did establish a setting, I was caught off guard a little. I'd establish it a little earlier, like in the first or second sentence, just to eliminate moments like those.

I also know that in a previous part, I mentioned not quite nailing down the vibe, but I think it's solidified by now. Your immersion of these characters into the setting which you later described super nicely has built up a nice modern fantasy vibe—I loved the juxtaposition of normal things like traffic with this sort of more archaic feeling system of houses and heirs. It was kind of hard to pick up from the first part, but now that you've immersed us more in the daily life of people living in cities in this world, I feel like I have a better idea of what the world is like.

Overall: nice work! I think your characters in this were strong as always, and I'm excited to keep reading more! Until next time, and great job with LMS!!




SilverNight says...


Thank you Plume!! This is great input <3



User avatar
13 Reviews

Points: 1282
Reviews: 13

Donate
Tue Sep 20, 2022 11:27 pm
View Likes
AceassinOfTheMoon wrote a review...



Surprise, it's me again~

Ooh, new people! Love the instant characterization of Dawn and Kasumi. With a single paragraph about each of them, we know who these people are. Not as much for Shane immediately, but that makes sense, since he isn't about to sit there and analyze himself XD

To go into a bit more detail about my thoughts on the characterization here...

To his left, Dawn was hunched over a touchscreen and holding a stylus, only directing her attention away from it when she needed to tuck a dark braid behind her ear or glance up at her subject. Whenever she was at work on her art, Shane would notice drops of ink or smudges of paint staining her brown skin, but her hands were clean today. Dawn liked to sketch, and she found it easier to use a screen when traveling. She looked perfectly focused on her work, and he would guess that she could go on waiting another twenty minutes without any problem.


I like the way this paragraph is written! Dawn has very soothing vibes. I would suggest specifying a drawing tablet rather than a touchscreen, though? Because a touchscreen is just a feature that a piece of technology can or cannot have and it doesn't give us any information about what she's drawing on, and since you haven't told us where she is either, it's a bit too vague. She could be drawing on a touchscreen table for all we know.
I would also suggest adding a "usually" into the second sentence.

Whenever she was at work on her art, Shane would notice drops of ink or smudges of paint staining her brown skin, but her hands were clean today.


Without a "usually" at the beginning of the sentence, it makes it sound like she isn't working on her art right now, rather than that she's just working with a digital medium instead of a traditional one.

Dawn liked to sketch, and she found it easier to use a screen when traveling.


I don't think you need to tell us that Dawn likes to sketch. From the rest of the paragraph, it's obvious that she's an artist. The second part of the sentence still works well, though!

Kasumi was a different story. She’d changed her position on the bench every half-minute, and she had even got up at one point to pace around. Just when Shane had gotten tired of hearing her heels clicking, she’d sat back down in an even stranger position. Currently, her chin was resting on one knee with her other leg folded underneath. It looked uncomfortable, and she was getting pale in this cold, but Kasumi still somehow managed to hold it with her usual grace. She’d no doubt move again shortly.


... I sit the way Kasumi does all the time and it's quite comfy, actually >.>
We don't get as much info about Kasumi as we do about Dawn, but I think that works fine, because she talks a lot more than Dawn does through the chapter and we learn about her that way.

And him? He was too exhausted to hold any real opinion.


First, mood. Absolute mood. And second, you might want to specify what he's too tired to hold an opinion on? I assume it's their situation, but that took me a minute to figure out. It could just be me though >.>

Shane sat up hopefully when he heard footsteps and the swish of the hotel’s revolving doors behind them. Just a few moments later, a bodyguard tapped him on the shoulder. “It’s an estimated six more minutes,” she said, and he nodded before dismissing her indoors again. He couldn’t remember if she was the one who’d be joining them on the ride, but someone would. There were two more in the lobby, watching their Heirs through the windows.


And here the pesky realism issues pop back up XD
Why are they sitting outside? You'd think that if they know the car is still going to be several minutes, they'd go inside where it's warm and probably safer and easier for the bodyguards to protect them. Why are the bodyguards still inside if they're outside, anyway? What kind of bodyguards are that far from the people they're supposed to be protecting? This is just asking for someone to get kidnapped or shot or something equally horrible.

More characterization!!! Very nicely done. Also, I hope at some point, Kasumi gets told to grow up and stop bullying her Fellow Important People Who I'm Quickly Realizing Might Not Be Her Friends for entertainment XD

As three Heirs, they were all on equal standing, but being twenty-four years old— or more aptly, three years older than Kasumi and Dawn— he had unofficial sovereignty for the moment. He was glad he wouldn’t have it for more than a few hours. Leilan was much better at managing all of them, despite being only a little older than Shane and three full years younger than Kaja.


I'm not sure you need to specify his age here? It feels info-dump-y. Simply saying "being the oldest of the three young adults by three full years at the moment" would be enough. By starting with and specifying the fact that he's twenty-four, it feels almost as if that's the reason he has unofficial sovereignty for the moment, and the fact that he's three years older than the other two is just helping his case.

“Are you naming respected House officials?” Kasumi asked, her tone light and almost sweet. “Or the three people you kept waiting for almost half an hour?”


Oh, Kasumi is getting on my nerves very quickly XD I am all for sarcastic, impatient characters, but I also very much hope that they learn eventually that there's a time and a place to just shut up~

Shane cleared his throat. “I’d like to check the car first, if I may.”


Shane being the braincell of the group, which I'm sensing is going to be a theme here, and checking the car. Good job XD

Instead, she fidgeted with her ring with a black gem that showed she was of the House of Loyalty, twisting it on her finger and biting her lower lip.


This is an awkwardly worded infodump if I've ever seen one ;-;
You did a really good job telling us that Kasumi was the Heir to the House of Honour earlier, telling us what we needed to know without making it feel like exposition. This, however, is clearly just there to tell the reader what you think we need to know.
Most of the problem is that the sentence doesn't flow nicely. It's stiff and run-on. To make it more natural, you could rewrite it to something more like "Instead, she fidgeted with her ring, running her thumb over the smooth black stone that was House Loyalty's signature gem, twisting it on her finger and biting her lower lip." That's not a perfect way of rewriting it, either, but you get the idea ;-;

Finally, you could definitely add a bit more description to your last sentence? You did a great job of showing instead of telling how impatient Kasumi was at the beginning, but here, you just blatantly state that Kasumi is now relaxed, and I think you could add a bit more description to show that she's more relaxed instead of telling as a nice contrast to the impatient beginning description.

I'm very curious about all the lore hinted at in this chapter :eyes:
Can't wait to read more!




SilverNight says...


Ahhhhhh thank you Ace! Great points as always XD




If you want to make enemies, try to change something.
— Woodrow Wilson