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The Fire Underneath of Things - 1.1

by fortis


~1,033 words

Ivy

The summer evening’s sun was a raspberry bird spreading its wings across the horizon as the florist hung a hand-painted “closed” sign in the window. Through the slightly warped and bubbled glass, the newly-lit kerosene lamps looked like stars reflected in a lake. At the tap on the heavy wooden door, the florist flinched. The door creaked open and a grinning face haloed by a dark mane of frizzy hair poked around it.

“Nikki!” The florist let out a breath. “You frightened me!”

“Ivy! Listen, you gotta come with me!” Nikki slid all the way into flower shop, her feet dancing on the cherry wood floor.

“Is this another silly adventure of yours?” Ivy sighed.

“I met this boy—he was lighting lamps. I’ve always thought those lamplighters were cute!”

Ivy picked up a ceramic pitcher full of water and floated among her flowers. “Because I’ve had another long day-”

“And he gave me this little pamphlet!” Nikki brandished a trifold made of thick, cream-colored paper.

“-of arranging, caring for, and selling flowers.” She snipped a shriveled leaf off an aster. “And Miss Nordstrom came in yet again with all her fury about baby’s breath and roses, and of course Mister Green needed another apology bouquet-”

Nikki shoved the pamphlet at Ivy. “Look!”

Setting down her water pitcher, Ivy took the paper. She read the blocky, hand-written title, “SOMETHING DARK IS COMING.”

“Nikki…” Ivy started.

“No no! Keep reading!” Nikki said. But before Ivy could comply, Nikki snatched it out of her hands and started reading aloud. “Join the secret society sworn to protecting our city from the imminent shadows! Mekaniks and Elektricity are within our grasp! Join us and learn how YOU can help the fight for light!” Nikki looked up, eyes glowing. “Ivy, we have to go!”

“I don’t know, Nikki-”

“Oh c’mon. You’re gonna start growing moss if you stay in this musty shop for one more minute!” She grabbed Ivy’s hand and dragged her out the door.

---

“Where did you say we were going, Nikki?” Ivy asked, peering down dark alleyways.

“It’s a secret!”

“What’s the point of keeping it a secret? We’re going to be there soon right?” Ivy moaned.

“It’s all about the adventure!” Nikki began to skip ahead, her feet dancing across cobblestones. The streetlamp cast pools of light, and she leapfrogged from one to the next.

Ivy trudged along after her. She imagined the leather-bound book with golden trim and marbled endpaper waiting for her on her bedside table, and how warm the quilt cloaking her goose-feather mattress was. She shivered, as a dusk breeze whispered across her skin and raised little bumps on her arm.

Then Nikki stopped outside a hat shop. While waiting for Ivy to catch up, she jumped and hit the shop’s wooden sign, sending it swinging. “This way, Ivy,” she said, pointing to a skinny alley beside the shop.

If the alley had been any thinner, Ivy would have scraped her shoulders against the bricks. As it was, she had to watch her step to avoid scrap wood bristling with nails, broken pots, and rat skeletons. Her boot splashed into something she hadn’t seen in the darkness, and she tried not to show her disgust as an unnamable stench greeted her nose. Suddenly Ivy bumped against the wall at the end of the alleyway and panicked for a minute, thinking Nikki—who had skipped on ahead as usual—had never gone into the alley in the first place. Then she heard Nikki’s voice calling her from above.

“Up here! There’s a ladder right above your head!”

And sure enough, when Ivy felt the wall above her, her fingers touched cool iron. She tried to pull herself up and grunted with the effort.

“Use the wall! Brace your feet!” called Nikki.

Her boots pushed against the bricks, and the leverage boosted her enough to reach the second rung. And the third. Soon, she could hook her feet on the bottom rung, and she scurried up the rest of the ladder. Nikki was standing on the rooftop and the moon was a bright crescent, a lopsided grin at the night.

Ivy took a breath, a question on her tongue, when a voice slid out of darkness behind her.

“I thought I told you to come alone,” it said.

Ivy whirled, heart racing, hunting for the source of the voice, but Nikki turned and brightly said, “I know, I know, but I just couldn’t leave Ivy alone in that shop!” She lowered her voice as if Ivy wasn’t standing right next to her, “She needs to get out more. You understand. I was sure you’d be alright with this… but I mean, if you don’t want two more people to join your, ah, what was it? ‘resistance against the darkness?’ then I guess we can move along. C’mon Ivy.” She grabbed Ivy’s arm again and started edging toward the ladder.

“Wait, wait.” The voice sounded much less ominous this time. A boy no older than seventeen stepped out of the shadows, rubbing his neck. “I guess she can stay.” He was tall and thin and had unkempt hair. His face was a mess of grime, soot, and acne. His long trench coat was singed at the edges, and a flash a metal poked from behind one of its lapels. “Are you sure she’s trustworthy?”

Nikki snorted. “Probably more trustworthy than me, bub. Now where’s this secret order thing?”

The boy kicked the ground and said, “Well I’m technically not supposed to show you, as meeting you here was sort of a test of your trustworthiness, and you've already broken one of the only rules I gave you, seeing as you brought… her along.” He jerked his head toward Ivy, his hands firmly planted in his coat’s pockets.

“I'd appreciate if you didn't talk like I wasn't here, and my name is Ivy.” She folded her arms.

“Yeah? So?” His dark eyes flickered between the two girls. Nikki cocked an eyebrow, and something seemed to give way inside the boy. “Fine, fine. I’ll take you. But you’d better not cause any more trouble.” He squinted an accusation at Nikki. 

Nikki drew an ‘X’ over her heart and grinned.


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Sat Sep 30, 2017 3:50 pm
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Kaylaa wrote a review...



Hi there Forti! Seeing that the Green Room is empty and all of the novels that I've been following have posted recently/I've reviewed up to the most recent chapter as far as I'm aware and since this is the final day of both RevMo and Review Week, I have no time to waste and I've been interested in following this for quite awhile now and I see I won't have to go looking for new content for awhile now if I review this so without further ado, let's review.

Dang girly, I didn't expect the opening paragraph to be this dang beautiful. The metaphor in the first sentence draws the reader in and I quite enjoy that. I also quite enjoy the fact that we're not left to go on and on with the description yet the description is still there to set-up the scene before delving into the dialogue. There's a nice balance between setting up the scene with description and not dragging on for paragraphs and paragraphs doing this seeing as this only takes a paragraph before we hit the dialogue.

I admit that I know very little of the plot of this although from what I can tell this early on is that Ivy is a florist and Nikki is either a child or a friend of Nikki? I couldn't tell and that's probably the first and foremost largest confusion--the age of both Nikki and Ivy. Ivy seems to be at least a teenager seeing as she's working as a florist but there's nothing that suggest Nikki's age. We see that the boy at the end of the chapter is no older than seventeen which probably means that Nikki is somewhere around his age and not a full-blown adult.

I'm assuming they're all teenagers at this point but I'm unsure. I'm also unsure of the setting of this novel...where and when does this take place? I know you've talked about the novel before in Discord but I've forgotten since then and I wanted to note that it's important to include at least context clues and subtle hints as to age and setting and all that--hey, maybe that'll be talked about in the future! I don't know yet. As for the characters, Ivy seems to be on the more negative and more likely to say 'This is a drag' side while Nikki is bubbly and more likely to do '!!!' which I wanted to point out here that there's a bit too much exclamation marks in the dialogue for my liking and I can't say that's my favorite part of the novel this far.

So far? The descriptions and sentences outside of dialogue are more strongly crafted. I'm also wondering the relationship between Ivy and Nikki and what's all this stuff about a secret order and who is this mysterious boy and all that jazz. I hope those questions are answered in the future and I figure at least the last two will but as for now I'm excited to see where this goes because after looking down to read Bisc's review on this, I really have to agree with them on the positive elements in this chapter because all of what they talk about is valid and true. Can't wait to read more!

cIf you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask! I hope I helped and have a great day.

Image

Image

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fortis says...


I'm not sure I ever do talk about age here. I do hint that Nikki and Ivy are the same age, and that Grey, maybe seventeen, is a bit younger. I'm imagining Nikki and Ivy are around 20ish, and Grey is maybe 18-19, older than he looks. None of them pay much attention to age though.
And this place they're living in is Pseudo-England circa pre-victorian era. Specifically around 1815.

I'm a bit vague on the location/time because research. This isn't a fully historical novel. It may have historical elements, but I'm probably going to have a ton of anachronisms and things that weren't in England. We have like three head-butting genres going on: historical fiction (ish), steampunk, and fantasy. It's a weird mix haha



fortis says...


actually, wait, no, he has to be seventeen. I'd forgotten why I did that and have been thinking of him as eighteenish in my head this whole book, not that it matters that much. But if he were eighteen, he'd have to be released from his apprenticeship, I think, so that's why he's still seventeen.



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Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:14 pm
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ExOmelas wrote a review...



I realise this is a lot to catch up on but ever since I caught up on 95 episodes of Critical Role, 30 chapters feels like nothing xD

Nit-picks and nice moments (though I imagine with 5 previous reviews the latter is more likely):

The summer evening’s sun was a raspberry bird

I'm not certain on "raspberry bird". I'm guessing the sun is similar to both raspberry and a bird, but my brain immediately wants to know what sort of bird a raspberry bird is. Unless that actually is a thing I don't know about...

of course Mister Green needed another apology bouquet-”

*Biscuits giggles out loud*

“Oh c’mon. You’re gonna start growing moss if you stay in this musty shop for one more minute!” She grabbed Ivy’s hand and dragged her out the door.

I think this would be a good moment to slip in at least a nod to the reason why Nikki wants to do this. She could have done a whole number of things to get Ivy outside, but this seems kind of extreme for that purpose alone.

Suddenly Ivy bumped against the wall

bit jarring to have her name after so many pronoun uses

A boy no older than seventeen stepped out of the shadows, rubbing his neck.

hehehe that was a good anticlimax

and a flash aof metal


Overall:

There isn't a massive amount to critique here outside of the nit-picks. I think I'd like more of Ivy's thoughts when she's on her way to the meeting place. Not like, but infodumpy chunks or anything, but maybe some irritated thoughts about how silly trying to fight underground was, or alternatively reluctant curiosity, or admittance that this is probably necessary. Just a teensy bit more about what's going on to get me extra hooked.

The experience of reading the chapter was really, really enjoyable though. Like, it was just all round pleasant. It flowed well, the characters and their relationships were believable. It was atmospheric, the setting was vibrant. I could continue but I get the feeling you know what you're doing when you do it right. (Although if you would like future successes pointed out specifically do say).

When I click submit on this I will be 4 reviews behind RevMo schedule so expect a whole spate of them at some point :P

Biscuits :)




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Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:05 pm
ChocoDanish wrote a review...



You should put a "No, because I had a long day..." . Since Ivy is declining her and explaining to her the reasons for the rejection. Also I'm wondering about Ivy's characteristic and the reason she is alone and always coop up in her flower shop. Also how did Nikki and Ivy first met each other and became acquainted? why is she the only staff in the flower shop? Where exactly are they? I'm imagining a city near the ocean like the ones in Greece. Also what are the ladies wearing? you explained the guy outfit but not the ladies. When you said float did you mean she did with ease or actual floating? Is it in later chapters?




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Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:04 am
ChocoDanish says...



interesting story




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Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:03 pm
Vulcanite says...



I liked this, :D I will go and reed the others, :D :D




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RinReik says...



I got on YWS and low and behold, your 19th chapter was the only thing in the green room, so instead of reviewing it I decided to go back to chapter 1.1 (instead of starting mid story) and writing a nice big comment for you, I am writing this not for points at all, but so that it may be of some small assistance to you in your writing, all I ask is that you read this review. please.

Okay so to start this off, I'd want to mention that I realize you are trying to paint a beautiful scene at the start of this chapter, but it seems slightly too colorful, as any artist might tell you painting with the brightest lushest colors you have is not always the best approach, there are literally too many works like this, where the writer tries to wow the reader with their detail and writing skills, while this is a common approach that sometimes works very few ever keep it up throughout their writing, and to be frank I think it would be boring after long enough. My point being that while it may work, sometimes the simpler approach is more intriguing and if you can do it right, it will have far greater impact than any fanciful wordplay.

Also the color raspberry is more of a dark pink, maybe that was your intention but when I try to imagine "The summer evening’s sun was a raspberry bird spreading its wings across the horizon" I don't have the faintest clue what it looks like. And it leaves me confused and mystified, and wondering if this is a alternate world where the sun looks like I giant pink bird.

You used the line, "her feet dancing across/on" to me and perhaps me alone this sounds off, maybe you are trying to tell us that she is a dance, is she coming in on the tips of her toes? is she doing the happy feet dance while walking? (I just googled it) it's slighting confusing.

"Mekaniks and Elektricity" I presume that you mean "Mechanics and Electricity" though you might have a different meaning for these words having spelled them differently, I hope that you will forgive my misunderstanding if so.

"Soon, she could hook her feet on the bottom rung" okay, this sounds like this is doing a hand stand and trying to "hook" her feet on the bottom rung, in this context I would try something more along the lines of "Soon, she was able to reach the bottom rung with her feet" it could just be me.

I think it has a lot of potential. and hope to read more in the future though i may not have the time to review it all.




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Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:14 am
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Hannah wrote a review...



Heya, Fortis!

So, I read past the first line in order to ground my first impressions in more context, but I do still want to talk about it.

The summer evening’s sun was a raspberry bird spreading its wings across the horizon as the florist


First of all, I understand and love the intention. I am a huge fan of poetic language and imagery in prose, and I love finding new ways to describe old images like sunsets, so I am hesitant to criticize this section, but there are a couple things I'll mention for your consideration. The first is that although raspberry is a strong color, somehow when it's paired with another noun, the image that comes to my head is muddled with the image of actual raspberries instead of just the color, so it doesn't work smoothly for me. I don't know if that's the same for everyone.

But the other thing is that in retrospect, this opening seems so at odds with the rest of the chapter. Nikki never stops moving, and you bounce the reader around delightfully from interaction to interaction. To start with such a slow, poetic description almost misleads the reader, although not for long.

“It’s all about the adventure!” Nikki began to skip ahead, her feet dancing across cobblestones. The streetlamp cast pools of light, and she leapfrogged from one to the next.


This moment felt to me like it was written to me, the reader, and not as part of the scene. It felt like you wanted to explain to me that Nikki is all about the adventure, and did so by having her say so to her fiend, but when I think about the situation, I start wondering why she would have to explain this to her friend -- surely they would have been in this situation several times before, and surely her friend would know what it's "all about" when she's with Nikki, so for me it felt unnecessary to the characters, and thus a bit false.

I think that's what makes the boy at the end of this chapter the most appealing to me. He may be a stereotype of a pushover, but this is shown through his natural actions, directed to the other characters, rather than announced for the reader to see.

That said, I am pulled into the story at this point -- I want to know more about the Mekanics in particular! So you've got the reader invested, and that's always a good sign. I want to make this paragraph longer, because I want to emphasize how important it is that despite the things I've picked up on and mentioned above, the plot is driving me past those issues to want to keep following the narrative, and that's so essential -- that's storytelling. I can't wait to get to the next part!

If you have any questions or comments about my review, feel free to reply or send a PM!

Hannah




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Thu Mar 02, 2017 7:27 pm
tylerd1rden says...



that really good looking foward to more great job




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Mon Feb 20, 2017 7:18 pm
Squirtlepowiee wrote a review...



Hey! Squirtlepowiee here for another review! This will be a very short one, because this piece is very lacking in errors. That’s a job done perfectly!

“The door creaked open and a grinning face haloed by a dark mane of frizzy hair poked around it.” I would rephrase this sentence. To me, haloed didn’t look like a word so I had to google it xD Maybe, “The door creaked open and a grinning face surrounded by a halo of dark, frizzy hair poked around it.”

“Oh c’mon. You’re gonna start growing moss if you stay in this musty shop for one more minute!” She grabbed Ivy’s hand and dragged her out the door.” I would imagine that as a shopkeeper, she would have to close and lock the door so that no one comes in or steals anything. You don’t need to change much here, but I would recommend saying that she locked the door, just to be a bit more realistic ;)

“But you’d better not cause any more trouble.” Nikki and Ivy didn’t cause any trouble. They only broke one rule, which is not causing trouble, because nothing happened. I would rephrase this to, “But you’d better not break any rule that you are given.”
Overall, great plot, awesome grammar, nice style! If I were to give any feedback, then it would be: Think realistically. It makes your story more believable and more real. Detail will come to life and the plot will make more sense. Keep writing!!

~Greetings from Squirtlepowiee :D




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Mon Feb 20, 2017 7:05 pm
Que wrote a review...



Hey fortis!
I'm honestly so excited that you wrote this. <3 I can't wait to read more of it!

“Ivy! Listen, you gotta come with me!” Nikki slid all the way into flower shop, her feet dancing on the cherry wood floor.

I feel like in this sentence, the visual of her feet dancing on the floor doesn't really line up with the visual of Nikki sliding into the shop. I do like the description of the floor, though!

Ivy picked up a ceramic pitcher full of water and floated among her flowers. “Because I’ve had another long day-”

The "floated among her flowers" bit doesn't make much sense. Maybe you meant poured?

Setting down her water pitcher, Ivy took the paper.

I know that in the paragraph earlier, she was watering the plants, but in the paragraph just before this sentence, she was snipping off leaves. I just don't think she'd be holding a pair of plant clippers and a watering can and trying to do both at once? It's a little picky but I just noticed it.

I loved your imagery, and you showed the characters' personalities really well! You can easily see what Nikki and Ivy are like, I can't wait to see them developed even more~ The only thing I thought was weird was that someone just handed out a pamphlet to a secret society on the street. I mean, you did mention that it was really just a test meeting, but it still struck me as odd. It's kind of a hard thing to figure out, getting people to join something secret, but upon rereading HP, they kind of "sounded out" people, asking some questions and gauging their reactions. I don't know if that's something you'd like to do or maybe the straightforward "here's a pamphlet come join our secret society" will work out with what you have planned.

Loved it! :)

-Falc




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Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:10 pm
FangirlDivided wrote a review...



Hello!

First off, I'd love to say that this story interested me right of the bat. The steampunkish feel is something I've always loved to read. I also like the way you use imagery in the story. You don't give to many details but just enough that I can see the story in my head.

I really can't find anything wrong. Keep up the amazing work, and I can't wait to read the next chapter.

All The Best,
Fangirl/ed





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