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Emperor's Heir - Chapter 37

by shieldmaiden

Chapter 37

I woke up to see Iyagi hunched over a tiny fire. It was still dark out. Without the sun, only the stars were competing with the moon to shine on the world below, leaving me with little to guess how long I’d been sleeping. I rolled over towards the warm flames and slowly propped myself on one elbow. I hissed softly under my breath. My bruises had not yet healed.

Iyagi turned sharply and rushed to my side. “Take it easy,” he whispered, helping me to sit up. “Here, drink this.” He reached behind me and pulled out a rock. The water from the cave’s walls had dripped into its center that it had been eroded hollow. It was filled with clean water. I realized then how dry my throat was and how thirsty I felt.

Taking the makeshift bowl in my hands, I lifted it to my cracked lips and guzzled it down. The liquid slid coolly down my throat with each swallow. I drank till all the water was gone, then immediately felt guilty for not leaving any for Iyagi. But he didn’t seem at all concerned. Just relieved.

“Better?” he asked. I nodded gratefully.

“What about you?” I asked, biting my lip anxiously, afraid that he would suffer from dehydration. I hadn’t seen any clearwater pools or lakes on our way here. However, I had been quite out of it with Iyagi practically dragging my body over here.

“I’ll get some more later,” he replied with a careless shrug.

I frowned. “From where?”

“There’s a little pool nearby.” Iyagi stopped speaking and began rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously. “Actually, how I found it was rather strange.”

“Oh?” I prodded.

“Well, last night…” he glanced outside, “…I think, I heard a noise. More like a whisper. At first, I thought it was just the wind. But it grew so insistent that I knew it was coming from a person’s mouth. I got up quickly to investigate.” He shook his head in wonder. “There was no one there. I was about to go back inside when I heard some crashing in the woods. So, I went after it. Nothing. Then more crashing.” Iyagi glanced at me. “This is where it gets really strange. The noises continued in a pattern till I came upon the pool. It wasn’t very far, but well hidden. I would never have been able to find it on my own. I think…”

“You think someone was helping you?” I finished.

Iyagi nodded sheepishly.

“I don’t think that’s crazy,” I smiled and opened my mouth to explain about Raffi, when lo and behold the dwarfish man stepped inside and sat down in front of the fire.

Iyagi continued to stare at me, waiting for me to continue. I looked from him to Raffi, who sat smirking at me while warming his hands, then back at the prince whose eyes were full of patience and now a bit of worry. I turned to the dwarf for help, but he only shrugged and mimed that Iyagi couldn’t see him.

“Could he hear you?” I whispered softly over the fire. Iyagi frowned and felt my forehead. I pushed his hand away gruffly.

Raffi raised his brows. “Yes, but I didn’t want to freak him out without you around to reassure him.”

Iyagi jumped to his feet frightened.

Raffi sighed and gestured to the startled prince. “See, like that,” the dwarf grumbled.

I pulled the prince back down to sit beside me, suppressing a smile. “It’s alright,” I said soothingly like one would speak to a frightened puppy, “He’s a friend. Apparently a very old friend, back from when I was a girl.” I looked over at Raffi, who gave me a quick wink.

Iyagi looked at me, now puzzled as well as wary. “You’ve been here before?” He asked.

I nodded and began to tell him all that I had experienced in the last few days. How I had met Raffi and our journey through the woods together as we went on a quest to find the three items that could break the spell on my mind and restore my memory. Of Mother Willow and her children. Of the swirling black shadow-men. Raffi, chipped in every now and then in the explanations of how the Moon ruled the earth instead of the Sun.

However, even the dwarf’s eyes grew big as I went on to tell them both about my visit to the kelpie Underworld.

“I can’t believe you survived them,” Raffie shuddered.

“That was really brave of you, Kkachi,” Iyagi said proudly, placing a palm over my hand.

“Reckless, more like,” the dwarf scoffed in return, “You could have been killed! Good thing they believed you when you said you’d help them. Now you’re safe.”

“Oh, I’m going to help them,” I told Raffi.

The dwarf coughed furiously. “After all they did to you?!” Raffi spattered, “You don’t need to…they don’t deserve it; they are evil!”

“They are heartless,” I corrected.

“Same thing,” the dwarf waved off.

I shook my head emphatically. “No, it isn’t,” I insisted, “Without a heart, these kelpies operate with no emotion, empathy or love. They are powerful and gifted, but driven only by logic.”

“So, it’s logical to kill innocent people?” Raffi asked incredulously, throwing his hands up in the air. “I can’t believe you are defending them!”

“It’s logical to have people fear you,” I shrugged.

Iyagi nodded contemplatively. “You want to help the kelpies regain their lost hearts so that these creatures can feel again. Once they can do that they hopefully will have compassion and not be as dangerous.”

“Except this Agar says that once they have their hearts, they will be even more powerful,” Raffi pointed out.

“It’s a chance I have to take,” I said, “They have been wronged and I want to fix it. I promised.”

“An oath made in fear is sure to be invalid.” Raffi grabbed my shoulder. “No one would blame you if you went back on it. I surely wouldn’t consider you dishonorable if you did.”

I thought of Kion, the merman pleading with his last breath, his eyes full of hope even as he lay dying. He had never met me. Yet, he believed in me and depended on me to help his people. I didn’t know why, but the merman king’s surety that I could save the kelpies’ plight … it fed a piece of me that needed purpose, like drinking water when thirsty.

I can’t.” I straightened my shoulders, shrugging off Raffi’s hand. “I won’t.”

There’s no guarantee they’ll give you the fin of truth even if you do,” the dwarf huffed, crossing his arms.”

Then it’s a chance I’ll just have to take,” I said, “So … will you help me?”

The dwarf looked hurt. “Of course I’ll still help you!” he shouted.

I giggled and took both his hands in mine. “Thank you.”

Just don’t want you to get hurt is all,” the dwarf muttered shyly. He shook my hands away and crossed his arms again. But his face had turned red.

I turned to Iyagi.

You know I’m always on your side,” the prince said solemnly with a little smile.

Good, then we’d better get going.” I stood up, a little shakily but on my own and without any help.

Where to?” Raffi asked grudgingly.

Take us to Queen Malba.”

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714 Reviews

Points: 21025
Reviews: 714

Sun Jan 31, 2021 7:42 am
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SpiritedWolfe wrote a review...

Hi, shieldmaiden!

Even though I'm coming into this without the previous chapters, I'll do my best to offer criticism on this section by itself.

To start off, I really enjoyed this section! I thought your writing was very good and captivating, you seem to have a strong sense of your characters, your dialogue is also quite good, and as a whole I felt engaged and even interested. That's a great thing to have even so far into your novel. I also didn't feel very confused at all, because you had a good sense of summarizing enough but not so much that it would be overtly boring for people who'd actually read up until this point.

I'll give some thoughts first. This felt like a bit of a filler chapter, since nothing in it especially happens, which I don't say in a bad way. Sometimes it is completely necessary to have a chapter where the characters just interact with each other and don't do anything, especially after some action (which seems to be the case!). The thing about this though is there doesn't feel like there's any urgency. I'm not aware of the context or the stakes surrounding this group, but I feel like after this far in the novel, there has to be something lurking just around the corner or hanging over their heads to encouraging them to keep a move on, or even inspire a bit of tension between them or in their dialogue. Right now, I don't feel that, which could be something to work on.

Another thing that confused me a bit is that at the start of the chapter, it was well established that Iyagi did not know of Raffi's existence and couldn't see him (and I don't know if that changed, because Iyagi seemed pretty chill afterwards). It felt important that that was the case, since Iyagi described the whole sequence of how he found the water. However, that problem was completely resolved in like a paragraph and then never mentioned again? It felt odd to me. Why spend so much time hyping up this issue and then waving your hand to solve it. Again, I don't know context so maybe it wasn't supposed to be a big deal, but I would like a little bit more work solving it, with Iyagi asking questions, showing some emotion in his face. Like, how does he react to this news? Does it bother him? Is he interested? Does he just look indifferent because he's generally stoic? Maybe a bit more emphasis on his reaction would make it feel less anticlimactic.

The other thing was the narrator's (apologies I cannot remember their name) injuries or weak condition in the beginning was well established and then also promptly forgotten as they spoke. I don't think it's necessary that it completely persists, but I would like some context? It really seemed like they were in a bad shape at the start -- I think Iyagi took them to this cave? -- and then they just pack up and leave like it's fine and the injuries aren't really mentioned again. Just something to think about.

As a whole though, this was a great read. I'm very interested in your plot, and I could definitely see myself reading this all the way through. I like this idea of the Kelpies not having hearts and needing to get them back, which seems to be wrapped up in a larger issue. This world seems very full of life and I love that.

Happy writing!
~ Wolfe

shieldmaiden says...

Thanks Wolfe! Loved your advice and it makes complete sense and very grounded! I'm working through my revisions and I'm glad you brought this to my attention! Again many thanks!

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185 Reviews

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Thu Jan 21, 2021 12:19 am
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Honora wrote a review...

Hello love, I'm here with another review for you. :)

Just a heads up that I'm going a little more nitpicky then I usually do ;)

But he didn’t seem at all concerned. Just relieved.
Remember to avoid using words such as And and But at the beginning of a sentence. Instead, you could have written something like:
He didn't seem at all concerned but rather a look of relief washed over his sharp eyes.
Make sense?

“Could he hear you?” I whispered softly over the fire. Iyagi frowned and felt my forehead. I pushed his hand away gruffly.
Although there is nothing directly wrong with this sentence, I find this pace of sentences is repeated often. After a while, it becomes short and choppy rather then a flow of words. Instead of a dot after forehead you could add a but as a continuation.

Iyagi jumped to his feet frightened.
Again, nothing directly wrong with this but I feel like frightened isn't quite the right word for Iyagi. He was given warning when Kkachi talked to Raffi...startled maybe?

Of Mother Willow and her children. Of the swirling black shadow-men. Raffi, chipped in every now and then in the explanations of how the Moon ruled the earth instead of the Sun.
The first two sentences I think should be combined into one somehow...or a semi-colon should have been used to join them. Having the word Of used twice at the beginning seems off but the semi-colon would give the same effect while being grammatically correct ;)

The dwarf coughed furiously. “After all they did to you?!” Raffi spattered, “You don’t need to…they don’t deserve it; they are evil!”
I find you do this quite often. You give the reader too much about the speaker. Here, you said the same thing in two different ways. Every once in a while it's nice but it's monotonous when it's repeated often. So for example:
The dwarf cough furiously before sputtering, "After all they did to you!? You don't need to...they don't deserve it; they are evil!"

Also, I don't know if it's just the circumstances or what 9or my own love of Iyagi) but I find the prince has lost his sharp edge that I loved. He's become so soft and lovey dovey and it's hard to go from the "Nikai" Iyagi to this Iyagi....I do hope he becomes a smartass again :(

Other then those things, I really like it! I can feel the plot thickening and now that I've read a couple more chapters, I'm not so confused anymore! You've such a creative mind that sometimes it takes me a second to understand all the different names and creatures. Or how different that world is compared to our own. I liked the small amount of information you gave in this chapter that really helped me understand it all again. It wasn't overwhelming either so that's definitely a good job well done. ;)

I'm looking forward to meeting this Queen Malba character. I know she's evil but I can't help but feel intrigued by her. Will she be all dressed in black and purple or will she appear sweet and innocent in an attempt to lure KKachi into her snares...? Definitely wanting to know more about her!

Anyways, I hope I wasn't too harsh and that this will help you with editing in the future! ;)

Your friend,
Honora <3

shieldmaiden says...

Thanks Honora! I did find this to be incredibly helpful! Thanks for pointing out those grammatical errors and how less is more with regard to speaking. With regard to Iyagi, I must confess that I have a hard grasp on his character. You may continue to be disappointed in the future because he was often included as an after thought. I'm working on the rewrite currently and will be addressing his character development.

Honora says...

Well then I will be a patient fan and wait for just that ;)

Meet me in Montauk.
— Charlie Kaufman