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Dance of the Frost Tulips - Part 5

by jster02


The rotnak guards shoved Catherine and the soldier into the cell, nearly sending them tumbling to the hard stone floor.

“Your trial will be held tomorrow at noon,” said the lead guard, slamming the cell door shut. He walked away without another word. The cell smelled of mold, and lacked light, as there were no windows to speak of. The floor was covered in a thin layer of hay.

Neither Catherine nor the soldier said a word for a while. The soldier sat on a rickety wooden stool that was a touch too big for him, rotting in a corner. Catherine sat down against the wall across from him and closed her eyes. She could feel a headache coming on.

“I thought you were against violence.” The soldier said

“I am.”

“But then why did you attack the rotnak?”

“I didn’t.”

“You threw a fireball at him. If you hadn’t missed-”

“Enchantresses don’t miss.”

“Did you want to get yourself thrown in jail?”

“Yeah, that about sums it up.”

“But… why?”

“Now we get to talk to the chieftess. And besides, I couldn’t just leave you here.”

The soldier didn’t respond. For a while, he just stared at the wall, watching a little droplet of water make it’s way from the leaky ceiling to the floor.

“I… think I owe you an apology.” He said, “I’ve been terrible to you, haven’t I?”

“Yeah… kind of.”

“I really should be grateful. You could’ve left me behind back there, you had every right to. I’m sure someone with your power could’ve figured out a better way into the palace”

“I guess so.”

“You know, you’re not the only one who had to take an oath to get where you are. When I was initiated as a soldier, I swore not only to lay down my life for the people of my village and to uphold the law and all that, but also to be honorable and kind whenever possible. But when I was told to come find you, I forgot all that. The thing is, I’m not against magic because I think it distorts the natural order of things. Until a few years ago, I was just as enamored with it as everyone else.”

He sighed.

“Then The Warlock came.”

“You don’t mean…” Catherine trailed off,

“Yeah. THE Warlock. Before I lived where I do now, I was staying with my brother in another village about a day’s travel from the one we’re trying to save. The watchmen saw him coming from a ways off, and my brother-” The soldier buried his face in his hands, shoulders quaking.

Catherine drew in a breath. Whatever she’d been expecting, it wasn’t this.

“Are… you okay?”

The soldier lifted his head, and wiped his eyes. “Yeah… I’m fine. You get the idea though.” His voice quivered, “I told him not to go. That it was an impossible fight, but he didn’t listen. ‘Said the guards needed all the help they could get, and that they’d slow him down so everyone else could escape. So that [i]I[/i] could escape.”

“They say there’s nothing left of that place. I never went back to see for myself, I was too scared. I feel like, so long as I haven’t seen it for myself, there’s still some chance that he’s still out there somewhere, you know?”

The cell went quiet for a while.

“I know it’s not exactly the same,” Catherine said, “But I lost my master to The Warlock. He was part of the group that brought him down in the end… but you know the story.”

“Yeah, I went to the funeral at the capitol, like pretty much everyone else. It would’ve been wrong not to pay my respects to such a noble sacrifice.”

“I certainly took it hard,” Catherine said, “I still miss him sometimes… He was like a father to Rose and I.”

“Rose?”

“His other apprentice. She went into denial as soon as she heard the news. One day she just disappeared, and I never saw her again.” Now it was Catherine’s turn to cry.

“Do you see now, why I hate magic?” The soldier said, “I’ve wanted to get back at The Warlock since the day he took my brother from me. I thought I’d be satisfied with his death, but it wasn’t enough. So when we met, I took it all out on you. Your power made you the closest thing to The Warlock that I’ve ever encountered. Deep down I knew that you were different than him, that I was wrong to treat you like I did, but I didn’t want to let go of that anger. And for that, I am sorry.”

“Well,” said Catherine, “for what it’s worth, I forgive you.”

The soldier fiddled with the hay on the ground, “I really appreciate that,” he paused, “Enchantress.”

“You can call me Catherine, if you like.”

“Luke.”

“What?”

“My name. It’s Luke.”

Catherine chuckled, “It’s nice to meet you, Luke.”

“Same goes for you, Catherine.”

“Anyways, I think I’ll go to sleep now. Tomorrow's gonna be a long day, and I get the sense I’ll be needing to do some pretty big spells.”

“Alright then. Good night!” Luke laid down on the hay.

“‘Night,” Catherine said, following suit.

-

The pair were awakened by the sound of the door banging open.

“Wake up you two,” Snarled the rotnak guard from the night before, “The chieftess will see you shortly.” he tossed them each a hunk of slightly rotten meat, hardly cooked well enough. Luke dug into his eagerly, while Catherine heated hers with her magic, cooking it through. The guard looked at her with distaste.

“You’d better not try any tricks, enchantress,” said the guard, “We’ll be getting a few extra guards to escort you to the palace, and they have been instructed to use whatever force necessary to keep you in line.”

“Sorry about yesterday,” Catherine said, “I can assure you, I won't be trying anything.”

“Hmm…” Said the guard, “I hope for your sake that you aren’t lying.”

"I do my best not to."

As soon as they had finished their food, the guard bound their wrists and pulled them out of the cell...

To be continued...


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88 Reviews


Points: 1135
Reviews: 88

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Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:59 pm
Gnomish wrote a review...



Hello again!

Awww... I'm a sucker for a cute apology, and it was nice to get the soldier's name and a couple backstories.

Someone probably already mentioned this, but I think something went wrong with the editing here. "So that I could escape.”

I know this is kind of repetitive, but I really do like the characters, and how Catherine's kind of letting her annoyance finally show through. I'm interested to see what will happen with the chieftess but it seems (and I do this all the time too) that you've kind of moved away from the main plot. I fully understand that these little diversions help make a story interesting, and are probably integral to the plot, but I think it would be nice to have a couple more little references to the quest or frost tulips here.

Thank you for posting this, I'm loving it so far!
-Gnomish




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Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:35 pm
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BlackThorne wrote a review...



1.

The rotnak guards shoved Catherine and the soldier into the cell, nearly sending them tumbling to the hard stone floor.

"nearly" weakens the sentence.

2.
He walked away without another word.

not needed. readers can deduce this from the lack of further dialogue.

3.
The cell smelled of mold, and lacked light, as there were no windows to speak of.

"lacked light" is awkward-sounding, "dark" would suffice.

4.
The soldier sat on a rickety wooden stool that was a touch too big for him, rotting in a corner.

the "rotting in the corner" part is ill-placed and grammatically raises the possibility that the soldier himself is rotting in the corner. move it next to what it's describing, the stool.

5.
For a while, he just stared at the wall, watching a little droplet of water make it’s way from the leaky ceiling to the floor.

this description is stagnant and cumbersome. try a more engaging approach.
Example:
A small water droplet leaked from the ceiling and slowly dripped down the wall.


6.
The thing is, I’m not against magic because I think it distorts the natural order of things. Until a few years ago, I was just as enamored with it as everyone else.”

"the truth is" would be a more fitting start. also, "enamored" should probably be replaced with a more common word.

7.
Whatever she’d been expecting, it wasn’t this.

as I've stated earlier, it's better to have either direct thought or direct action.

8.
“Yeah, I went to the funeral at the capitol, like pretty much everyone else. It would’ve been wrong not to pay my respects to such a noble sacrifice.”

I don't really think people would talk about attending funerals this casually.
Example:
Yes, I heard about that. Everyone did at the funeral. He was a hero.


9.
“‘Night,” Catherine said, following suit.

"following suit" is awkward-sounding and isn't needed.

10.
he tossed them each a hunk of slightly rotten meat, hardly cooked well enough. Luke dug into his eagerly, while Catherine heated hers with her magic, cooking it through.

add some more imagery. if we're lucky, most of us won't immediately conjure up our own at the word "rotten." this could also be rephrased to be more efficient.

the only other thing I have to comment on is Luke's character development, which, though it at a glance seems functional, seems to be this:
(don't take offense at this, it's just to clarify my main criticisms)
a town asks an enchantress for help with their infestation, including a soldier. the soldier, implied to be speaking for the rest of them, to the enchantress, displays both ignorance and abhorrence, saying magic is unnatural. he accompanies her on her journey, proving himself to be very aggressive through his encounters with the nest and the rotnaks, virtually learning nothing from each, as is expected based on his closed-minded demeanor.

okay.
they get thrown in prison and he magically changes his mind.

oh. well, maybe it made more sense in the author's head.
he explains himself with the fact that a warlock killed his brother.

there it is. I'm not targeting this for the fact that it's cliche. It just doesn't line up with what we know:

the reason he doesn't like magic is that it's unnatural. I know he said later that wasn't the real reason, but that kind of seems like lack of planning on your part.

he's shown himself to be very closed-minded and stubborn, seemingly not learning anything from the other incidents.

it's shown that he is very ignorant of the specifics of magic, mistakenly calling Catherine a witch, which is presumably a major root of his fear and distrust. his explanation-that magic was accepted before the warlock came-doesn't really make sense with this, as well as being slightly dissonant with the fact that they know who the warlock is at all.

so, as I see it, there are a few ways to make his development more realistic-

1. make his development more gradual, slowly easing up with each of his mistakes in preparation for the catalyst-Catherine's sacrifice, which would be framed to be more significant. also you'd make him seem a little more open-minded from the start. if someone is completely close-minded they can't develop.

problem: he blames magic as a whole for the death of his brother.
lesson learned: he needs to be less close-minded and not blame other people for his past.
summary of changes: more thought-out and spread-out.

2. make his development purely a journey of enlightenment. you'd subtract his stubbornness, which hinders growth, and be left with his ignorance, which can simply be dispelled with Catherine's knowledge throughout the journey, and converge as he ponders what he has learned in the cell.

problem: he's been misled.
lesson learned: things aren't always what they seem.
summary of changes: get rid of his close-mindedness.

3. not develop him. if you want to keep his close-mindedness and stubbornness, realistically, it's unlikely he'll change, at least not without a real heavy-hitting shock.
problem: he's a stubborn donkey afraid of anything unfamiliar.
lesson learned: people like this don't learn lessons.
summary of changes: realistic outcome to what's set up already.

you don't, by any means, have to implement these changes, they're just suggestions.

looking forward to the next part! :D




jster02 says...


Thanks for the analysis of Luke, it's nice to have some insight. You're right about my lack of planning. I'm not sure if I already mentioned this before, but this was originally supposed to be a short story. It's grown as I've written it, so there isn't nearly as much foreshadowing as there should be, (though I've got a better idea of where it's going now).

I also want to apologize if it seems like I'm not applying your suggestions from earlier chapters to the new ones. The truth is, I'm doing this for LMS, and what with school starting up and some of the other projects I've taken on, I haven't been leaving myself nearly enough time to proofread properly before the deadline. The second draft will be much better than this, I promise.

I really appreciate that you've stuck with me this long; your thoughts are very much appreciated. They wont go to waste.



BlackThorne says...


thanks, no problem! it's cool, you really aren't under any obligation to apply my suggestions. I'm mostly just trying to write a good review and get my points :P



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Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:39 am
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IamI wrote a review...



To your description: there is word for this sort of thing, it is useually called a novella, they occupy a sort of limbo between short story and novel, and from what you mentioned it seems like this would fall into that category. Now to the review. I prefer to be honest and blunt. I’ve found those are the kind of critiques that stick with me. I’ll start with the good; technically speaking, there are no glaring flaws with your style (I will come back to this), and your dialogue, while veering towards cliche at points, is not robotic. The most important thing, (speaking in terms that are not strictly my own), the story, I have saved for last in this brief rundown; it’s interesting and I’m interested in what else this narrative might offer. But I cannot leave it at that, all straight praise gives a person is an inflated head and that does them no good. With that, here are my criticisms: for the first I will have you refer to my statement on your style, while you style has no glaring flaws there are small issues, and small things add up, your vocabulary is rather weak in some places, such as when you said "she felt a headaching coming on.” This is easily remedied with a thesaurus, there is a good one attached to dictionary.com and the app for the website. Remember this: if you think there’s a better word, a more eloquent word, a better sounding word, there most likely is. The second issue with your style something that may be a simple literary tick (a sort of involuntary action), this tick is your inclusion and of “for a while” after an action that takes place over a period of time. I believe you used this three times, if this was a longer work I might not have cared as much (I still would have noticed, but there are times and places for literary ticks). The problem is that it is rarely needed, if an action involves doing something stationary, like sitting, you can just leave the reader to assume time has passed. My final issue is that you often add unnecessary details like “it was dark, as there were no windows to speak of.” The part after the comma is completely unnecessary and simply interferes with the impact. And other times, when described a chair as being moldy, that seemed very shoved in. Remember this: good prose is natural prose, it has to feel right, or it’ll stick out, and that is rarely a good thing. Overall, small problems, but there’s promise, and I’m excited to see more.




jster02 says...


I'm certianly glad you enjoyed the overarching plot, even if the style was lacking in parts. This is a very rough draft, and I do plan to go back and revise, once I'm completely finished with the story. I appreciate the review, as it'll be helpful once I go back and improve this chapter.



IamI says...


You%u2019re welcome, I didn%u2019t realize how long the review was until I posted it, ha! Anyway, rough drafts are good, I look forward to seeing more of this story.



jster02 says...


I certianly don't mind the length. I tend to make mine fairly long too.



jster02 says...


Welcome to YWS, by the way. I just realized you were new.



jster02 says...


Welcome to YWS, by the way. I just realized you were new.




You are going to love some of your characters because they are you, or some facet of you, and you are going to hate some characters for the same reason.
— Anne Lamott