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Adonia Beloved / Chapter 5

by LittleFox

A cool, dry wind swept into Nivahl from the east, bringing with it the crisp smell of winter. But even with cooler weather than usual, the heat remained in Nivahl and sweat made the foreheads of the palace servants glisten as the lifted sturdy chests on the backs of horses.

General Haemon sat on his muscular steed and watched them as they moved about the palace yard. It had been a month since Adonia had received a reply from Aiseljah, the King of Daskus. His words had been welcoming, inviting her to his palace for as long of a visit as she wished and promising a rich feast upon her arrival. She had sent a courier immediately, bearing a message that said she would begin her journey to Daskus on the first day of winter and arrive on the fifth. From there, the matter was put into Haemon's hands.

Now, on the first morning of winter, he was in charge of assembling Adonia's entourage. Already he had gathered his best men to guard the Sovereign's caravan- not that there would be anything to fear on their journey. No one would dare attack any group traveling under the Sovereign's banner except perhaps lions, though even they were not often so brazen. It would be an easy journey, though tiring. When all was nearly ready, Adonia and Rhea appeared at the palace entrance at the top of the wide marble steps. The sovereign was dressed in blue silk robes the flowed in the wind, revealing her strong legs at each shift in the breeze. On her head she wore a gilded circlet with a ruby the size of Haemon's thumbnail in the center.

"She looks the same as before." Haemon turned to see his younger brother, Ajax, riding up to him. His hazel eyes remained on the Sovereign for a moment before turning back to look at Haemon. The two brothers looked nearly identical. The only difference was that Ajax's hair was a light sandy color and shorter than Haemon's. "As if nothing ever happened."

"Of course," Haemon said with a sidelong glance at his brother. "What do you want, Ajax?"

Ajax gave a half shrug paired with a lopsided grin. "Can I not simply enjoy the company of my brother?"

Haemon frowned at him. "You should be among the guards right now."

Ajax slumped slightly in his saddle. "How much longer to we have to sit there? I'm tired of being idle."

"If you will complain I will send you back to Father and find a more obedient guard to take your place," Haemon warned him. It was no empty threat either. Haemon had done just such a thing two years ago. Their father had not been at all pleased to learn that his twenty year old son had been suspended from the guard.

"Fine then." Ajax looked almost the the point of pouting, and Haemon let himself chuckle lightly as his younger brother turned his horse away and headed back toward the rows of guards waiting readily. Ajax still seemed to think they were young boys who could laugh and play pranks when no one was looking, but Haemon had moved on from that long ago.

A servant approached Haemon next, barefoot and squinting in the light. "The horses are ready Sir." He bowed stiffly with his palms pressed to his thighs.

Haemon gave a nod and heeled his horse forward toward the steps where Adonia still stood watching. She and Rhea began to descend the steps when they saw Haemon moving towards them.

"Are we ready to leave, Haemon?" Adonia asked as she reached the bottom step.

He nodded as he pulled his horse to a halt. "We can leave as soon as you wish."

"Then let us go now." She walked past him towards the palanquin that waited for her. She stepped through the opaque curtains at the same time that Rhea mounted her tall palomino who frisked impatiently. Once Rhea took up her position behind Adonia's palanquin, the palanquin bearers gently hoisted it up and stood ready. Haemon took one last headcount of the traveling party; twenty guards, eight servants, and five packhorse carrying everything they would need to bring with them. Satisfied, Haemon heeled his horse towards the the front of the group. "Let's head out," he called, and the large gates were pulled open by two servants as Haemon led the procession towards them. As they passed through they were greeted by a crowd of citizens that had gathered in the stone-paved streets of Kei-Vesh. Many of the younger citizens stood on roofs and other high vantage points, the girls letting the petals of wildflowers fall from their hands as the Sovereign's palanquin passed beneath them.

Haemon never glanced at the citizens flanking them. His cool gaze remained on the road ahead of him until they reached Kei-Vesh's outer wall, spanning nearly ten meters tall and two meters thick. The massive doors stood open, flanked by a handful of guards on either side. Once they had passed through the gates, the sounds of the city began to ebb away slowly and Haemon took on a more relaxed seat in his saddle. They paused briefly, so that the bearers could tie back the curtains and let the cool air sweep through the palanquin. After that, Haemon set a steady pace that they held for several hours until the servants carrying the palanquin grew weary. When they came to came to a small stream, he let them break for food and rest.

Haemon let his mind wander off as he leaned against a small tree, eating a handful of dates and gazing at the mountains the lay in the distance. He hoped to reach the mountain pass by the end of the day if time was on his side, but he could not push the caravan too hard yet. Once the mountains were behind them, however, he would need to keep them moving. His eyes drifted idly around the landscape, until he heard footsteps approaching him. He turned and found Rhea coming toward him.

"How long do you intend to have us all sit around here loosing time?"

He frowned, wishing she would not always try to hold authority over him. "We haven't wasted any time. We should all be conserving our energy until we reach the lands over the mountains. You should know the desert between here and Daskus will crush a weary traveler." He paused and squinted at her. "Aren't you Daskan?" She was nearly the perfect image of a Daskan woman with her sleek black hair and tan skin. All she was missing were the grey eyes that were so common is Daskus.

"Half," she corrected him. "But I was raised in Nivahl, by Nivahlians," she said pointedly.

Haemon was surprised, but his voice remained apathetic. "I had partly guessed you were raised in Nivahl. You have some of the Daskan ways."

She shrugged, glancing toward the mountains. "I was born near Kei-Vesh, in a village to the north of the city. My mother probably went back to Daskus after I was born. No one knows why she was there. She stayed long enough to birth me and disappeared a week later." She aimed a glare at Haemon, as if angry he had listed to the story she had freely told him, challenging him to mock her.

Haemon stared back at her levely. "Perhaps we will have a big reunion for you in Daskus. We'll find her and bring mother and daughter back together again."

For a moment she looked ready put a blade through him, but the next moment laughter escaped her lips. "I'd rather be kicked by a horse. Promise me you'll do no such thing."

Haemon let himself smile too. "We will rest here for just a while longer, Rhea," he said, finally answering her question.

She nodded, looking pleased. She turned away and strode towards Adonia's palanquin, which rested on the ground while the servants cooled themselves off in the shallow river. Adonia sat inside, leisurely eating from a small bowl of dried fruit, and smiling when Rhea approached.

Haemon turned back towards the mountains for several minutes before gathering the caravan back up again.

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639 Reviews

Points: 13700
Reviews: 639

Sat Mar 28, 2015 3:30 pm
SpiritedWolfe wrote a review...

Hey, LittleFox! I'm finally here ~

Right off the bat, you have the winter and heat thing getting mixed together. My issue isn't with the description itself, since I feel like that's fine, but the second sentence of this entire chapter threw me off. You tried to really get the idea across, but ended up cramming a whole much into one long sentence. Maybe try to split it up some so it reads better.

Having just finished, the ending conversation is fresh in my mind and I am a little iffy about it (and yep, I realize both other reviewers mentioned it before me.) What I'm not really convinced with is 1. Rhea sharing this with someone who she hardly knows and 2. it doesn't really feel right. Some points are connected together one way or another, but that connection doesn't show through. For instance:

I had partly guessed you were raised in Nivahl. You have some of the Daskan ways.

Said by Haemon himself, and then the following line sort of skip over a couple details. How did he go from guessing her Nivahl but then saying she has the ways of a Daskan? How does that connect in his head? Since it is in his perspective, it could be easily addressed slightly before his dialogue (or even in it). Next, Rhea mentions being raised in one specific town, but I don't understand the significance. Why does it relate back to being Daskan/Nivahl?

The more I think about this, the more I realize just how much I don't really know about the world. From context, I am just assuming that Nivahl is this country that Adonia rules (and Daskan you've done a nice job establishing who they are in relation and all that) but a big thing missing is where? Where is this country in relation to the other. Is the city Rhea lived in close to the border and that's why her train of thought went to telling that? And while you do a really nice job of setting up the geography and terrain of the land, there's still where places are located in relation to one another. Perhaps in the future this will be explore more?

As Sarah did mention, being careful with all the POV changes, and I agree with her on that. Another reason you may want to keep it to a minimum is because then there are readers who want to see another POV shown before. Sometimes you can even slip away from one in favor of another that may make things seem more interesting. It may be hard to keep up with them all, so be aware of that (and I bring this up because I want to see more of Adonia's husband, whose name I have forgotten at this moment.)

Everything else I have has already been said ^^ And overall, I really enjoyed this chapter, just seeing things calm down a little. With the first leg of their journey underway, I can only expect more disaster to come.

Keep on Writing,

LittleFox says...

Thank you very much :) I will fix those areas up!

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Tue Mar 24, 2015 3:44 am
TriSARAHtops wrote a review...

Hello again! I noticed that you'd posted this chapter, so I figured I'd drop by for a review.

Before I start, I noticed that you made a comment about being unsure about how to describe the weather, since the winter in your story isn't particularly cold. That kind of sounds like the winters we have here in Australia, so if you want some help writing descriptions of what it's like, feel free to ask! :) Depending on whether you've got a tropical climate, something more along the lines of a desert or simply an area that's on the warm side, I know enough possibly be able to offer some pointers.

Something that I wasn't sure of in this chapter was the passing of time. You mention 'several hours' had passed, but the way it was written was that the several hours didn't really feel as though they had passed. I think a possible way to begin to remedy this would be start a paragraph with 'After several hours had passed...' or something along those lines. It's a case of separating ideas, in a way, so that the reader registers that you're talking about a different time. In the midst of the paragraph it can get a bit lost. Potentially, another way to improve a sense of time would be to change the way you describe things. Has it gotten dark, has the sky turned a different colour, is the weather cooler? This kind of thing will also help to emphasise the fact that time has elapsed since the previous bit of action.

So far, each chapter has been in a different POV, which in this chapter, didn't work so well. There is a danger that jumping around from perspective to perspective can make the story feel disjointed, which I don't think is so much of a problem so far, however I didn't feel like Haemon worked as a narrator as well as Adonia or Rhea have in previous chapters. Partly because it didn't feel like we knew him well enough (I quickly skimmed chapter three and noticed that you mentioned him there, which I'd forgotten, but that's partly to my own dodgy memory ;) ). Personally, I didn't see the need for this chapter to narrated by him, and it could have been from Rhea or Adonia's perspective, which would have done a lot more to establish the feel for which character/s is/are the protagonist/s, and who are the more secondary characters. Of course, you know better than I do about how significant Haemon will be to the overall story, and you might have a very good reason for picking him to be the narrator, however if you keep him as the narrator, I think you could make his character a bit more memorable when he's first introduced, through the way you describe him, and possibly making Adonia's reaction to him a bit stronger, if that make sense. You want to have clues when he's first introduced that he's going to be present for more than just a chapter.

I liked the fact that you described the setting a bit more, you had some really great imagery in there, especially the bit where they're leaving the city. I thought it was pretty well done there.

I liked Haemon and Rhea's discussion on the end, because CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT! Yay! We're learning more about Rhea and her past, and that's awesome and I was glad to see it. It's starting to give some insight into why she is who she is, so keep expanding on that as time goes on and things should be good. That said (and this links slightly to what I said previously), I did feel like it was kind of weird that she was being so open to somebody that doesn't feel all that familiar, so I'd just maybe try to weave in some clues about what her relationship is with Haemon. Due to their respective positions, I imagine they'd have a bit to do with each other, and speak regularly enough, so drop in some references to that, so it doesn't feel like she's telling her life story to a stranger. :)

Definitely still intrigued as to where this story is going to go. As always, let me know if you have any queries.

LittleFox says...

Thank you :)
As for the weather, I imagine it in a sort of Mediterranean setting with and a desert to the north east on the other side of the mountains. I don't know a lot about Australia's weather, but I would guess it is similar in temperature throughout most of the year? So I was wondering how you would describe your wintertime there.? Thanks for your help :)
(Btw, I'm super jealous that you live in Australia! I haaattee cold weather so Australia would be like my dream home :P )

TriSARAHtops says...

Whoops, looks like YWS at the reply I tried to leave yesterday. *sigh* Spent a while on it too... Anyway, winter temperature in Australia pretty much depends on where you are. In the far north (closest to the equator) there's pretty much no difference in terms of temperature from winter to summer - it's generally somewhere around 30C. They don't have summer and winter so much as a wet and dry season - winter is when it's the dry season, and the weather is absolutely beautiful. Weather in the wet season's really humid up there, and they get a lot of storms). As you go a it further south you get more of a difference between summer and winter - although our winter's probably still mild by your standards ! XD I live in the south east, so we have pretty hot summers (like between 25-35C most days, but it some days it's over 40C) and then in winter it's like 10-15C or thereabouts. We don't get snow (unless you live in the mountains, or something) and there's usually a bit of rain but most days it's just really overcast. Mornings can be pretty frosty in winter, and there can be a bit of wind, but during the day you can usually get by if you're wearing a jumper (sweater? Just in case you don't say jumper and I confuse you) and long pants or whatever. You need to dress warmly, but there's not really any need to wear massive coats or anything. The bit where you talk about the fur is probably fairly accurate for our winters. I'm not sure if where I live has a particularly Mediterranean climate, it might be a little colder where I live in winter, but hopefully this might help as a starting point. Let me know if you want anything more specific! :)

LittleFox says...

Thank you so much :) I may consider changing it ti a dry season rather than winter so that people don't get confused. So thanks again :D I really appreciate it!

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346 Reviews

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Sun Mar 22, 2015 2:56 am
Pretzelstick wrote a review...

Heya LittleFox,pretzelsing here for a review. I have to honestly tell you that I was a little bit disappointed that this wasn't the action chapter that you were talking about :( Anyways, let's begin,shall we?

First of all, I have a question, why did it take a month for Adonia to start the journey? Why couldn't she go earlier. And then also from this quote:

bearing a message that said she would begin her journey to Daskus on the first day of winter and arrive on the fifth.

I thought that Haemon was smart, why did he allow her to travel in the winter? What if it snows on the mountains(which is very likely) and they have a very difficult trip back to Nivahl.Do you see what I mean,Little Fox?

Now, on the first morning of winter, he was in charge of assembling Adonia's entourage.

Just above you said that they were about to start their journey on the first day of winter and then you repeated yourself again?I would strikeout that phrase.

The two brothers looked nearly identical.

Just saying this isn't realistic, because it usually doesn't happen this way, that two brothers(with an age difference) look nearly identical. Why, some twin boys aren't even identical!

A servant approached Haemon next, barefoot and squinting in the light.

Why was the servant barefoot :? if it was cold outside?That's just doesn't make much sense to be,LittleFox. Do you like to go barefoot in the snow and then have cold feet:?:

Haemon took one last headcount of the traveling party; twenty guards, eight servants, and five packhorse carrying everything they would need to bring with them.

I think that you should use a colon (:) instead of a semicolon (;) since a colon is here to list.

His cool gaze remained on the road ahead of him until they reached Kei-Vesh's outer wall, spanning nearly ten meters tall and two meters thick.

I don't think that you need those measurements, because they don't really mean anything to me or make a better mental picture in my mind.I would totes strikeout them,LittleFox.

Okay now with this review I really want to focus with general things. First of all I like the conversation between Haemon and Rhea, and it really shows us how vulnerable she is and how she can feel and share her feelings ;)I was really shocked :shock: that she would spill out these secrets to a literal stranger that she doesn't trust or barely knows. Wouldn't it be more reasonable if she had this type of conversation with Rhea,someone she actually trusts.

This has been a problem that has been bothering me for some time now,but I am going to directly address it in this review. I feel like sometimes in your writing you describe the little unimportant things. Here is a very helpful article
Okay so I want to point out some things from that article(in my own words and advice of course)
1.I totally get that you have a different writing style and that you like to use tons of amount of description in your chapters.So at the beginning I would like to say that I understand and respect that.
2.Forget about the small stuff(like unimportant details) For example:

She stepped through the opaque curtains at the same time that Rhea mounted her tall palomino who frisked impatiently.

Do we really need to know the color of your curtains? Or the exact species of horse that Rhea rode on? Or how the horse acted? Is that important, and will that help you develop the plot more. I don't think so, LittleFox.
I would rewrite that and just maybe say: She stepped through the curtains at the same time and Rhea mounted her horse who frisked impatiently.
I could honestly still get a very clear picture of what was happening, without all of those extra details. I am not telling you to cut your description out, in fact, that's what I absolutely love about your novel: It was so much awesome description ;) Just little details like that aren't needed.

3.Another valid point is this: Motion comes with description. In this chapter, I kind of feel like you rushed it and so there is no standing idle and waiting, like Ajax did :) They should be doing something, anything, if you know what I mean,LittleFox.

4.Remember to actually try to use all five senses. How did it taste,smell,look,feel,sound,etc. Show us that because right now you are mainly just doing the seeing part ;P Add variety, make sure that we see Adonia's other senses kicking in during the journey.

Haemon let his mind wander off as he leaned against a small tree, eating a handful of dates and gazing at the mountains the lay in the distance

Here you could use and describe your sense of taste,how did the fruit taste, what flavour did it have? I think that I would like to know this since dates are an unfamiliar fruit to me.

A cool, dry wind swept into Nivahl from the east, bringing with it the crisp smell of winter.

Maybe have Adonia smell this scent and then describe it??

Anyways,that's it from me. If you have any questions at all feel free to PM me. I hope that this review helps you improve your writing!Always keep on writing!

LittleFox says...

See that one of the problems I have is describing the weather here xD Yeah, it's winter, but they live in a very hot area, so full on winter for them would just be slightly chilly for us. They wouldn't even be too familiar with snow except on rare occasions. I will try to explain that more as I edit :P
Anywho thanks for the review xD this is my least favorite chapter, so it should get better after this.

The chains of habits are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.
— Warren Buffet