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Lalaley
February 17th, 2012, 02:26 PM
This is my first go at a Fantasy. It's a work in progress, but was hoping I could get some direction? There are parts I am unsure of how to reword. Please take a look. Your constructive criticism would be much appreciated. Thanks :)

Chapter One:
Day of the Rain




It was dark that night, dark and wet. The rain fell so heavily, so thickly, that the man walking quickly down the deserted streets was seen by no one. His long, black, cloak trailed on the sodden ground. He wore the hood pulled up, low over his face, hiding those distinguishing features that were loathed by all in the city. The face of a known 'man of magic'.
He was grateful that this night, the night he must return to the town he was cast out of, was the night of the great storm. Not one person was to be seen scurrying to and fro. Each soul was shut up inside their warm homes, listening to the heavy fall of the rain. Each year, on this day, the rain fell for a full twenty-four hours. They treated it as a holiday.


As he walked, he could see inside the windows of the 'ordinary' households, huddled around roaring fires, sipping from steaming mugs. He thought of how he would look forward to the Day of the Rain with his younger sister. How they would build forts in the front room and how their father would tell them exciting tales of adventure and bravery. He longed for those days, the days when things were simple.


By the time he reached his destination, he was soaked right through. He knocked urgently on the back door of his sisters home. Through the glass, he saw his brother in law coming towards him, holding a candle.
"Jana!" He said, pulling the door open, stepping aside to let the soaking man in. "Thank you so much for coming, we know it is a risk for you..."
"There is no need to apologize, Joel, no need. I am glad to help."
Joel helped Jana remove his cloak, before he sat to untie his boots.
"I'll take this to the fire rack," Joel said, pulling open the cast iron shutter in the back of the fire place. The fire already ablaze in the adjoining room flooded the kitchen with warmth and light. Jana looked around the room, he had not been here years, not since the twins were born. He had always admired their home, a round, thatched roofed cottage. Though the shape was not unusual in the small towns and cities that surrounded the kingdom, he felt it had more character than the others. It had huge windows, curved to match the annular shape of the building, which, during the months of sun, would flood the house with the golden heat of its rays.
"I'm so pleased to see you!"
Jana turned towards the door leading into the rest of the house, and saw his sister. She threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around his strong shoulders. "I have missed you, my dear Jana."
"And I you, Anna. It saddens me that we meet again on such grievous circumstances."
Anna sobbed into her brothers long, wet, hair. And he did his best to comfort her.


After a minute or so, Anna, releasing her brother, rubbed her dress (as if to straighten it) and bustled over to the kettle. With her back to her brother, she said "I expect you could do with a nice warm coco?"
"That, my dear little sister, would be wonderful."
They were silent for a moment while Anna busied herself with preparation of the hot drinks.
Watching Anna bustle about the kitchen made Jana feel a deep sadness, how he longed for the ordinary - the mundane. He was forced to live a secluded life, unable to interact with others on a regular basis. Of course he had friends, but they were dotted around the land, and rarely met on social occasions. It reminded him of how lonely his life could be. Though, this was to change. And soon.


"Drink up," Anna said, smiling at her older brother as she placed the steaming mug of coco on the table in front of him. Anna sat down on the chair opposite her brother, it was now that he realized how much sorrow filled her heart. Her once youthful face was pale, and drawn. She had dark circles around her usually bright eyes. Five years had passed since he last sat at this table, but he could not believe how much Anna had changed.
"How much did Joel tell you, Ja?" Anna kept her eyes averted from his as she spoke,
"Not a great deal," he replied, "Just that Lyra is still showing signs, and it is becoming a problem."
Anna nodded, Jana could sense her eyes were filling with fresh tears.
"We are so worried for her..." she forced herself to look Jana in the face as she spoke. In a way, he wished she had not.
"It is understandable, but we can help her. She will be safe... with me."
"I knew it! I knew she would have to go... Joel is being so - so -" Anna threw her hands in the air, "He just can not seem to think about it. 'It won't come to that,' is all he ever says!" She slowly rubbed her eyes with her fingers, before wrapping them around her mug.
"What has been happening?" Jana's voice had changed, the mood had changed. Anna felt goosebumps forming on her skin. She knew her brother well, and she knew when he was tense.


Just as Anna started to open her mouth, Joel returned and sat beside his wife.
"No coco for me?" He asked politely, Anna made to stand, "No, no, let me. I can see interrupted."
"You were saying?" Jana nodded his appreciation to Joel as the latter stood, and made towards the stove.
"It started similar to you, Ja, with her able to retrieve things I had placed out of her reach. Or changing the colour of her hair, the boys hair, my hair." She laughed at that, as if reminiscing of the odd colours her daughter had changed her normally blonde hair. "It was when she started school that it became a problem. One occasion, I think her teacher must have given her a scalding, the next thing she knew, she had broken out in these awful boils! Obviously, no one could prove it had been Lyra, or magic. But of course, I knew. And so did Joel."
Jana sighed, "Clear signs... Go on."
"It was easy to cover up then, easy to ignore the romours of her ability." Anna rubbed her brow, exasperated, "But, this week -"
She sighed deeply, taking a moment to steel herself. " - this week, at school, she told her teacher that her daughter missed her!"
She laughed, though it was obvious to all that she did not find the incident comical in the slightest. "Her daughter has been dead for fifteen years."
Joel returned to the table then, setting down three mugs of coco.
"What are you saying?" Jana's face was set. He looked worried. Anna and Joel turned their heads to one another, Jana's reaction had scared them.
"She told us that - that dead people talk to her. All the time." Joel said, his eyes red and his jaw set.
For a moment, Jana looked absolutely terrified. But it only lasted a moment before he composed himself.
"Who knows about this?" Jana asked, urgently
The couple looked at each other, they each saw the fear in each others eyes.
"I am not sure." Anna replied slowly, trying to think who could have heard. What would they have heard?
"I need to speak with Lyra." Jana stood up, and walked out of the warm, glowing kitchen.


"Wait!" Anna called behind him, he was standing at the bottom of the spiraling stairs, one foot on the first step. "You can't just barge into her room and demand answers Jana! She is ten years old!"
Jana let out a long breath. "I'm sorry, you are, of course, right."
He turned to his sister, taking her hands in his, "You must realise the seriousness of this, don't you? She is in danger, I need as much information as I can get - and then we need to go. Tonight. We need to be out of the town before the end of the rain."
"Yes, of course. I -" Anna bowed her head, hands covering her eyes.
"I will protect her, Anna, so please, don't cry."
Anna nodded, and drew herself up.
"Do you know what time the rain began?"
"Five o'clock, on the dot."
"Go wake her."


*


"Lyra, it is important you tell your Uncle what happened!" Anna explained to her daughter.
Lyra sat, knees up, balled tight, on the biggest armchair. Avoiding every eye, staring at the roaring fire.
"Lyra. You will die if you do not speak now."
The young girl looked into the vivid green eyes of her Uncle, her scornful demeanor lapsed.
"I don't want to die." She spoke with soft innocence. Her big, bright eyes, as blue as Jana's were green, wide and scared.
"You wont, if you tell me what you said to your teacher." He said kindly. Lyra looked to her mother, who nodded encouragement.
"I told her that her daughter, Olive, missed her. She asked me to tell her, and I couldn't say no. I had to. The poor girl looked at me with these big sad eyes! And I could tell Miss Maragret missed her too. So I told her." She looked down, "I'm sorry, was it bad of me?"
"I understand why you did it, Lyra. And it was a very nice thing of you to do. However, the people who are in control of the lands people believe what you did - what you can do - to be dangerous, unatural and evil." Lyras eyes widened in fright, "Do not worry, they are wrong. Very wrong. There is no easy way to say this, but you must come with me. Tonight. Do not protest, there is no other way to keep you safe. Shortly, I will ask you to pack a bag. It is a long way to my home, so pack only what you need, and what you can carry. But first, you must tell me who was there. Who heard what you said to Miss Margagret?"
"I have to leave?" Lyra folded in sobs, her mother wrapped herself around her and wept too. Joel, who had not spoken since the discussion in the kitchen, sat crying silently on the foot rest by the fire.
"Yes." He said suddenly, he got to his feet and walked to his wife and daughter, then pulled them both to their feet. He embraced his girls, and said softly, "If it is the only way to keep you safe, you must go and soon. I'd rather miss you, knowing we will meet again, than the knowledge that you are lost to us forever." letting them go, he sat on the chair previously occupied by his daughter, then pulled her on to his lap, "Lyra, please tell you Uncle who was in the room."
"The whole class." Lyra looked around the room, thinking, "And Ms. Elisabeth."
"She would have filed a report. We are lucky this has happened during the rain. It will take days for the Palace to get word and come to investigate. Lyra, please, will you go pack your bag? And quickly."


All four of the occupants of the room stood, Lyra running to the stairs.
"I must speak quickly, you must not write. They will try to find me as soon as she is missing. You must not give them a link to me. This talking to the dead is very odd. I am not even sure if I have ever heard of it before. I will contact you when I deem it safe enough. Do you trust me?"
"Yes." Anna and Joel said together.
"I will send word as soon as I can." Jana walked to the bottom of the stairs, "Lyra! We must go!"
"What do we tell the boys?" Joel asked,
"What you tell the authorities - she ran away in the storm. It is important they do not know the truth, for now at least."
Lyra came down the stairs. She had her rain boots on, her oiled coat and her sturdy school backpack.
"I'm ready Uncle."


They said their goodbyes, and the young girl, and wise man of magic disappeared into the pouring rain.

SeaBee1
February 23rd, 2012, 02:29 PM
Hi Lalaley,

First of all, I like the uniqueness of the setup, as in the 24 hour rain and the holiday associated with it. It helps lend an urgency to the scene as the story progresses. Nothing like a deadline to get things moving!

Just a few things to start off with that should be looked at: I know how we all get attached to our characters and their names, but you name your primary characters 'Joel', 'Jana' and 'Anna', which, in my opinion, is bad form. Two 'J' names and a rhyming name in just a couple of paragraphs! I hope you see the problem there.

The opening ALMOST smells like 'It was a dark and stormy night". Personally, I would re-work this into something with a little more punch. I see the storm, but where's the lightening?

This sentence: "As he walked, he could see inside the windows of the 'ordinary' households, huddled around roaring fires, sipping from steaming mugs." While I can visualize these housesholds huddled around their roaring fires, I am having trouble seeing the households sipping from steaming mugs... Perhaps you meant citizens, families, denizens or people, but this probably should be fixed.

That is actually all I have time for at the moment, but this should give you a starting point.

Best regards

CB

riverdog
February 24th, 2012, 04:35 PM
I didn't get through all of it yet. Two suggestions. 1st, kill off the adverbs unless absolutely necessary. The second sentence has 5.


The rain fell so heavily, so thickly, that the man walking quickly down the deserted streets was seen by no one.

2nd, show me, don't tell me. Action.


As he walked, he could see inside the windows of the 'ordinary' households, huddled around roaring fires, sipping from steaming mugs.

He walked the deserted city streets, occasionally peering in an open window to see the occupants cozied up to roaring fires and drinking mugs of hot, mulled cider. So on and so forth.

Lalaley
March 5th, 2012, 03:41 PM
Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my post. I'm sorry it had taken me a while to reply, I have been having some... problems...





Just a few things to start off with that should be looked at: I know how we all get attached to our characters and their names, but you name your primary characters 'Joel', 'Jana' and 'Anna', which, in my opinion, is bad form. Two 'J' names and a rhyming name in just a couple of paragraphs! I hope you see the problem there.

I understand your views on my character names. And to be honest, I had not really thought about it too much. Especially in regrds to the two 'J' names. Also, Jana isn't pronounced the same as 'Anna'. Its' Jay-Na, not Jan-na.


The opening ALMOST smells like 'It was a dark and stormy night". Personally, I would re-work this into something with a little more punch. I see the storm, but where's the lightening?
Sorry, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this... Are you saying it's like something already written??


This sentence: "As he walked, he could see inside the windows of the 'ordinary' households, huddled around roaring fires, sipping from steaming mugs." While I can visualize these housesholds huddled around their roaring fires, I am having trouble seeing the households sipping from steaming mugs... Perhaps you meant citizens, families, denizens or people, but this probably should be fixed.

Are you saying that it sounds like the houses are drinking the drinks? If so, I see what you mean. And I have already gone over that. With your advice. :)

Thanks again. :)

Lalaley
March 5th, 2012, 03:46 PM
I didn't get through all of it yet. Two suggestions. 1st, kill off the adverbs unless absolutely necessary. The second sentence has 5.



2nd, show me, don't tell me. Action.



He walked the deserted city streets, occasionally peering in an open window to see the occupants cozied up to roaring fires and drinking mugs of hot, mulled cider. So on and so forth.


Thank you for your feedback.

I quite liked the way I had written that part in your first point... And I have tried different ways of saying it. But, I have been taught in the past that repetition was a good tool to use...
And I will definitely work on my 'showing, not telling'. Its always been a struggle of mine. :)

SeaBee1
March 6th, 2012, 02:47 PM
Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my post. I'm sorry it had taken me a while to reply, I have been having some... problems...





I understand your views on my character names. And to be honest, I had not really thought about it too much. Especially in regrds to the two 'J' names. Also, Jana isn't pronounced the same as 'Anna'. Its' Jay-Na, not Jan-na. OK, I get that. It was a small niggle anyway and not really a showstopper for me


Sorry, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this... Are you saying it's like something already written?? Yes, though not entirely. The main point I want to make is that the introduction needed a little more punch to bring the reader into the story. I felt like you could re-work the opening paragraph to breathe just a tad bit more life into it.



Are you saying that it sounds like the houses are drinking the drinks? If so, I see what you mean. And I have already gone over that. With your advice. :)

Thanks again. :)

I will go back and re-read it.

Well, never mind, I see you haven't edited this version. No problem, but I would be interested in seeing your fixes, if possible.

Lalaley
March 7th, 2012, 01:29 AM
I will go back and re-read it.

Well, never mind, I see you haven't edited this version. No problem, but I would be interested in seeing your fixes, if possible.

Yes, I am sorry! I should have been clearer! I just haven't had the time to edit it on here! I will definitely work on your suggestions. Honestly, I really appreciate it! It's just hard having that time to get online with my crazy baby! Thanks again. :)

RedSuinit
March 9th, 2012, 09:11 AM
Seems interesting, but there are several places where it just doesn't flow very well. For example:

"I'm so pleased to see you!"
Jana turned towards the door leading into the rest of the house, and saw his sister. She threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around his strong shoulders. "I have missed you, my dear Jana."
"And I you, Anna. It saddens me that we meet again on such grievous circumstances."
Anna sobbed into her brothers long, wet, hair. And he did his best to comfort her.

At first she seems so happy, then all of a sudden she is sobbing at the bat of an eye. I would have worded it more like this:

Choking back tears Anna said, "Jana, it is so good to see you." She walked briskly across the room, and into her brothers arms. "I have missed you, brother."
"And I you, dearest Anna. It saddens me that we meet again under these circumstances."
Anna couldn't hold back, and her tears were added to the drops of rain that had soaked into her brothers clothes, and he longed to comfort her.