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5 for Nataliya Arlovskaya - Year 760 (Part 1)

by manilla

Introduction: This is yes, a fanfiction, but it's historical. And it's a pretty new draft, so feedback will be appreciated. If you're unfamiliar with the show of Hetalia, which I based this story upon, it basically says that nations are now personified and they have their histories and relations with each other. Nilitsa (her human name) will become today's country of Belarus. 

Now, however she represents one of the many Old East Slav tribes in her modern-day boundaries' general location. Belarus's human name will change several more times through out this story, which spans for over another thousand years. I will write about the significant changes in her life, or if you want to look at this way, Belarus's history.


Within the babbling stream lies a benevolent yet spiteful spirit, who is not to be tempted at all costs, for the stream rushes suddenly and will drag one down its own long path. The trees, many human lives old, still stand tall through the trials of time, branching out to a future that is always just within reach, but never in your hand.

The bone knife presses into the wood before coming out, dragging a thin plane of bark out. After putting the carving knife away, Nilitsa raises the stream idol that she has carved up to the morning sunlight, before kneeling down onto her knees and clasping the idol between her palms and closes her eyes.

From a leather satchel on her waist, Nilitsa scrapes off the bottom powdered animal bones, before sprinkling them into the clear, cold stream water, and leaves the idol next to the many that have been set there already by previous worshippers. After waiting a moment for her prayer to settle, she rises from her kneel and dips her head, backing away slowly into the pine forest behind her. The village people have told her that until her head is shielded by trees may she turn away, for the gods are venerable and never to be disrespected once. Nilitsa runs her palms on the rough pine bark, on each and every groove of the weathered material, before glancing up at one of the other girls in her village, Iarina.

Nilitsa suddenly feels in company after the long, isolated session of idol-carving. Being left alone with her thoughts is only pleasant for up to an hour, before they grow redundant and painful to hear. Iarina smiles a radiant smile. “May I request your presence at the evening meal?”

Without thinking, Nilitsa nods, returning a faint smile of her own. Iarina and her are the immortals, the walking gods told to symbolize the land that is theirs, along with a boy named Vasili. Nilitsa wonders if there are others like them, spread across the distant reaches of her people. She wonders about their faces, how they look and talk, how they dress, but mostly, who they truly strive to be.

Iarina reaches out her hand for Nilitsa to hold, and through the forest, walk back together to the village. Iarina’s hand is warm, her grip is firm, and her skin is soft, while Nilitsa’s entire body feels the opposite: cold, clammy, uncomfortable. Iarina’s shoulder brushes against Nilitsa’s before she finally lets go.

Nilitsa looks upon the clearing of trees that is the village, with houses made from the hollows of the earth, a fire lit in the center of the clearing, and a patrol of horsemen coming in from the north. The piked wooden fence encircles much of what is visible, and Iarina shoves Nilitsa away from the rolling wheels of a fish merchant’s cart, the pungent scent of salt entering her nose.

“Nilitsa, watch for the road,” tsks Iarina. “That was too close. Not a good time to sacrifice a toe, right?”

“I’ll be fine, I promise you that,” snaps Nilitsa, averting her gaze. Iarina can’t suspect a thing about these...Feelings.

“W-Why so cold today?”

Stopping in front of the fire pit, Nilitsa gulps, and closes her eyes because of the smoke, her words getting stuck in place. She focuses her gaze on the open sky, before stopping to face Iarina. “Apologies.”

“Well, then,” Iarina sighs, pulling a smile. “Just remember that dinner will be served at my house before sundown.”

Something about the apprehending event made a nerve in Nilitsa’s mind tingle, and she couldn’t pinpoint why. The day somehow speeds up because of her, with each mundane task and harping from the village elders to even singing with Nilitsa’s other friends becoming faster and faster, until she is metaphorically blind at dinnertime. Everything is racing, whether it be her heart or soul, or hands as she prepares food alongside the women of her village. And soon enough, to a burning delight, dinnertime arrives.

Her gaze refuses to budge from Iarina’s as she laughs and talks amongst the people in the house as the sun continues to fall from its place in the sky, as Iarina sings and dances a dig, the colorful fabric of her dress whirling around her as she moves. To distract herself, Nilitsa moves to the clay oven in the back of the house and to warm her chilling hands, lifts them above the fire. She has eaten little of her home-grown potatoes, drank little of the warm soup she made herself, or the spring beef. After letting her thoughts settle for awhile, cheeks red, Nilitsa found herself back at her table-spot, lifts the bowl to her face, and sips slowly.

“Would you like vodka?” someone with a bottle asks, and Nilitsa gestures for someone to fill her cup before stealing another glance at Iarina, whose amount of alcohol is already starting to grow noticeable, how she shakes when she spins. Her giggles become hiccups, and her gaze grows phased. Nilitsa grabs her cup, pours the contents down her throat, and unsophisticated slams the clayware back down. She relishes the warm burn of alcohol in the cold, before rising to go outside into the night. The dark sky beckons to her, calling out and giving her a slice of peace away from the clamor of the crowd. A shiver runs down her spine as winds whip around her dress, and the beads on her necklace clink together. After everybody leaves early in the morning, she will wait for Iarina, and they will converse gently alone. At least that is what Nilitsa hopes.

Being one of the immortal, the cold night air doesn’t bother her much as she adjusts to the temperature, tracing patterns with her index finger from the shining stars. She wonders, truly, which gods live up there. Nilitsa thinks that the gods she lives with now will not last for some reason, the spirits of the wind and water will drift away. The trees will become almost lifeless, and the greenery will have nothing mythical lurking about it. Will Iarina and her become gods or spirits eventually? Timeless, fabled, and remembered?

The stars give her no answer, so she turns around and heads back to the house, where the noise is still prevalent. In the large house there lie drunken men piled up on tables, serving-women scuttling out of the way, and a larger mass of people still eating and singing and playing music and beating the drums. Iarina is standing on top of the drunk, passed-out men and waves to Nilitsa. “Dance with me!” she cries, and lights up the room with a toothy smile. Nilitsa offers her right hand and is pulled into a dizzying spin, faster and faster as the music crescendos. The rhombic patterns of the girl’s sleeves, a brilliant red, form rays of blurring light. Wildflowers in Iarina’s hair begin to fall off, flying down onto the pile of people below. The pair release high-pitched girlish giggles as Nilitsa attempts to toss Iarina into the air, and she lands on the floor below.

As Nilitsa skips down from the table to the floor, however, she hears a loud cry calling for the festivities to stop at once. Even when heads begin to turn and a silence begins to fall upon the crowd, the cry comes again, but more panicked, shrill, pained. “The warriors have come!”

Iarina drops Nilitsa’s hand as the smile slowly fades from her face. A conflict with a neighboring tribe only meant trouble. If they attacked, it meant that another force was oppressing and taking away their lands. The warriors of the tribe, not just the village, have been seemingly called upon to answer the call of battle. These are just regularities to Nilitsa now. Tribes come and go, shift boundaries, but the Krivichi, Nilitsa and Iarina’s own, must stay constant. 

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801 Reviews

Points: 32312
Reviews: 801

Sun Jan 27, 2019 12:35 am
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...

Hey manilla,

I saw your request in the Blue Team club, so I'm here with a review for you this fine Review Day! I think I've reviewed for you in the past, so you're probably familiar with my review style already. I'll jump right on in...

Okay first thing I'm seeing right off -- I am not familiar with the original piece that you're basing your fanfic off, so forgive me if I miss something that would be glaringly obvious with that prior knowledge. I will still endeavor to give you some good feedback despite all that...

who is not to be tempted at all costs

This came across as a strange way to phrase this. Like I get what you're getting at, and I understand the expression, but the "tempted at all costs" kind of is phrased weird here with the context of the rest of the sentence, if that makes sense?

The bone knife presses into the wood before coming out, dragging a thin plane of bark out. After putting the carving knife away, Nilitsa raises the stream idol that she has carved up to the morning sunlight, before kneeling down onto her knees and clasping the idol between her palms and closes her eyes.

So you've got a lot of repetition in this paragraph. And, as I may or may not have complained about in my previous reviews for you, I am a big stickler about not having repetition if it's at all possible to avoid. And here you have "knife" twice, "carving"/"carved", and "idol" twice -- so I'd definitely recommend taking another look at this and seeing if you can find a way to rephrase it so that you don't have to repeat the same words in such close proximity to one another.

Iarina smiles a radiant smile.

Same thing here. Like a "Iarina flashes a radiant smile" or something would help eliminate the repetition in this sentence while still keeping the descriptor of "radiant" since I think that's a beautiful image to use for a smile.

made a nerve in Nilitsa’s mind tingle,

Ooh, I really like this imagery as well. I mean obviously the brain is the central nervous system control but very few things I've read refers to nerves in the mind and I just really like that you pulled that out here. It's vivid.
~ ~ ~

Okay! I quite liked this!

The way it read was... strange? but good. Like I can't put my finger on what exactly it is. I guess the present-tense is throwing me off a bit? But I still really enjoyed it.

And your imagery was absolutely incredible! That was definitely a huge strength of this piece. You had really vivid, compelling imagery that really benefited the story and helped me to connect with this piece on a bit of an emotional level, which definitely made me enjoy it that much more.

I didn't super understand the plot, but I didn't fully expect to understand it, given that I have no familiarity with the original subject matter -- but it seemed like you covered a decent amount of ground and so you're probably golden there as well.

Hope this helped! Keep writing!

~Shady 8)

manilla says...

Thanks for the review! It's just the beginning of a longer piece, and I'm still sorting out the plot. It's to be written as more of a saga, so the plot isn't really that cohesive.

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109 Reviews

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Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:55 pm
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neptune wrote a review...

Hey manilla! Sorry for the wait.

Seeing as you wanted me to talk about flow, I’ll get into that first.

Within the babbling stream lies a benevolent yet spiteful spirit, who is not to be tempted at all costs, for the stream rushes suddenly and will drag one down its own long path.

As mesmerizing as this sentence is, it’s also a mouthful. Since this is the first sentence you’ve written, you should keep it on the shorter side. The descriptions are beautiful though — splitting this into two sentences may work out better in terms of flow, or possibly cutting down on adjective use.

Besides what I've already said above, the flow of the chapter was pretty solid. The transitions from one scene to another was well written, yet I'm still feeling as though some of the sentences were really long. The amount of description you have is good, I just feel like the issue is more the matter of cramming so much into each sentence.

That leads me to my next comment/suggestion — sentence variety. I think by playing with sentence length, it will add some variation and change things up a bit. Sentences shouldn't all be short and choppy, but they also shouldn't be long and confusing. By adding shorter sentences, longer sentences might become clearer and more straightforward.

The other day I was reading an article in the Knowledge Base and one piece of information that stuck with me was this: writing is all about words, but it doesn't depend on words. There were some points in this where I thought that the adjective use could be cut down — it's okay to be short and simple sometimes! Description is important, but too much can sometimes be overwhelming.

I love Nilitsa's character! Her relationship with Iarina is very intriguing! She has a curiosity to her that I feel the readers can relate to, which is especially important when writing in the third person.
Nilitsa suddenly feels in company after the long, isolated session of idol-carving.

Here's a point where you may want to connect Nilitsa to the reader more. It's nice that we know she feels in company after the long session, but how might she show that?

I'm a little disappointed we didn't meet Vasili. You briefly mentioned him and we now know that he is one of the immortal, but then Nilitsa just carries on. I don't know if he's significant to the story at all, but I kind of wish we met him sometime in this chapter. It also leaves me to wonder what her relationship is like with him, considering Nilitsa and Iarina seem very close.

Tribes come and go, shift boundaries, but the Krivichi, Nilitsa and Iarina’s own, must stay constant.

I'm a big fan of this sentence! The entire structure and placement of it was well thought out!

I think that's it! Hopefully these tips and suggestions on flow make sense and come in handy! I enjoyed reviewing this, so thank you for requesting on my thread!


manilla says...

Thanks for your review! I was trying out a new writing style, so I did ending up experimenting with the flow.

Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door.
— Kyle Chandler