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Neath Lankly
April 28th, 2012, 03:01 AM
Below is a fairly large chunk that i have edited a few times. A couple of weeks ago I posted a different chapter (the chapter below had been my prologue at the time). However taking the advice of a lot of different guides and websites, I decided to change this to my Chapter 1.

I wrote a few things in the past, but this snowball seems to be gathering more and more and I am now up to chapter 6. I am worried about my style of writing and sometimes I worry about who are the audience that i am writing to. the below chapter tells me that my audience is teenagers, however other chapters tell me that this novel is for adults.

I'm just feeling a bit lost right now. i'm reading as much as I can per day (three or four different books) and I feel that my work isn't a scratch on others. What do you guys think?





Chapter 1

Deliver us from evil.

Gemhut Run was as quiet as a graveyard. Heavy black clouds obscured the moon and stars. The village inhabitants were deep in their slumber, the few older inhabitants dreaming of better times. Eva Yona sat upright on the side of her bed listening intently, her brown eyes scanning the room, it was plain and cramped and had functioned as a downstairs lavatory before the Third Great War. A cracked, dusty porcelain sink still stood in the corner; unused for years. The room now functioned as a home for Eva as well as her younger sister Selene- though both sisters now regarded it more akin to a prison cell. Eva placed her hand on her younger sister’s head lying asleep in the bed next to her. The sudden jerk of her head revealed that she was now awake.
“It’s time” Eva whispered. “We cannot wait for her any longer.”
Her younger sister wiped her eyes. She had been crying in her sleep again Eva realized.
They gently rose out of the bed; both sisters had gone to sleep in heavy jeans, thick coats and tall leather boots so that when they woke, ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Eva hadn’t slept; she had waited since dusk- unwilling to trust herself to wake in the middle of the night as well as being nervous about the journey they faced ahead of them. They both silently slipped their bulking backpacks over their shoulders as they listened intently for any sounds or movement in the rest of the house. The other rooms were eerily quiet, the silence only occasionally interrupted by a person turning in their bed or snoring in their sleep. After a while, Eva carefully opened the door and tiptoed into the shadowy hallway, Selene following closely behind, almost tripping over her older sister as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. Eva glanced at the front door knowing it would lead them out into the main street where they would be seen. Instead the two girls sneaked down an adjacent hallway, past some wooden stairs and through an unused, dirty kitchen. A slender door at the end of the kitchen opened outside to a garden at the back of the house and they stole out into the night.
“We must be quiet, very quiet” Eva breathed softly. She could hear her heart pounding against her chest.
“I’m scared.” Selene replied fearfully, her eyes darting from one building to another.
“They won’t see us if we are quiet. They won’t know we are gone until morning- maybe even until mid-day and by that time we will be far away and safe. Don’t be afraid.”
“If they see us…”
“They won’t see us” Eva comforted her younger sister. Truth be told Eva feared about being seen even more so than her younger sister but refused to let it prevent their escape. Selene was too young to understand why they couldn’t stay in the village any longer. Selene knew about the men who arrived a few days ago. Eva had told her they were bad men but could never tell her why. She will learn how horrible they are if we don’t leave this village by tomorrow.
“Let’s go!” The two of them scurried soundlessly from building to building, crouching occasionally to look and listen. The entire village seemed to be sleeping although Eva knew different. They will be watching the road. Instead she avoided the road and maneuvered toward the fifteen foot brick wall that surrounded the village. The wall was built to provide some protection from the savagery of the countryside. Unfortunately it now served as an effective barrier to keep people in the village from getting out. The two sisters hugged the wall for a while as they caught their breath.
“Once we are safe I will brush your hair…it’s a mess.” Eva carefully moved her fingers through her younger sisters black hair; its black strands were almost invisible in the darkness. “Turn around” she ordered quietly. She hurriedly opened her younger sisters backpack and pulled out a large black rope; there were thick knots tied into the rope every couple of feet and a large metal hook at the end of it. Eva waited a few moments, listening intently. Once she was sure no one was nearby she threw the rope over the wall and then pulled it. The hook had caught onto nothing and after another few moments of listening Eva determinedly threw it over the wall again. This time she pulled a bit more carefully and suddenly the rope started to resist. The hook had caught.
She tugged at the rope a couple more times and then jumped up and wrapped her feet around one of the large knots, the rope had definitely snagged onto something.
Adrenaline filled her; the wall had been her greatest worry. Once over the wall we would be safe…for a time at least
“Okay just as we practiced” Eva smiled as she closed the zip on Selene’s pack. Eva examined the village, ensuring no one was nearby. We must be quick
“Go!”
Selene jumped up the rope and gradually started to climb the fifteen foot wall as Eva examined the village. It took her twelve year old sister a good five minutes to reach the top of the wall though it seemed like an eternity to Eva. “Okay wait there” Eva checked around her again and then promptly hopped onto the rope and started climbing. Having six years on Selene, Eva was stronger, quicker and more agile. She scaled the wall in less than a minute.
They both rested on the top for a while looking back on the village that they had grown up in.
“My arms are sore” Selene whined.
“This is the last climbing we will have to do” Eva encouraged her little sister.
“Will you miss…here?”
“I will”
“I miss Mum and Dad” tears ran down her younger sisters cheeks.
“I do to…but they would want us to be safe and I promised to look after you” Eva stroked her younger sisters hair again.
“What happens if you die too?”
“I won’t die”
“Dad said he wouldn’t die.”
Eva didn’t have an answer to that and instead gingerly yanked at the metal hook that had lodged in some mortar between the bricks. It would need to be re-adjusted so that they could make their final decent to freedom. More like out of the frying pan Eva thought somberly.
“Keep watching, we’re nearly there” Eva instructed as the hook finally gave way. She quickly lodged it back into a crack in the wall and pressed onto it hoping that it wouldn’t become lose when they climbed down the other side.
“I hear voices” Selene whispered, terror filled her voice.
“Quickly down the rope” Eva ordered her.
Selene pulled both of her legs over the wall and carefully lowered herself down. Eva silently followed without waiting, soundlessly praying that the metal hook had wedged itself deep enough into the brick to hold the two of them. The two sisters swiftly and silently shimmied down the wall and hit the grassy floor. Eva glanced at the rope dangling from the wall, wishing that she could take it with her.
“Let’s go!” Selene whispered frantically as she pulled at her older sister’s arm. The voices were getting closer on the other side of the wall.
“shhh- stay still” Eva replied. They will hear us if we move. All it would take is a trip or a step on a twig. The two sisters didn’t move. Eva could hear her heart beating in her ears. After a few moments the voices became softer and gradually moved away.
The two of them crept away from the village and into a shadowy forest; full of tall, lanky pine trees. The air was heavy in the forest, nothing could be heard and nothing could be seen, with a lack of any breeze the tall pine trees stood unmoving, ominously watching two dark shapes darting between their thin, brown legs.
“This forest used to be fields a long time ago, before the Third Great War.” Eva told her sister as they walked.
“There used to be cows and sheep and the fields stretched on as far as the eye could see”. She had never seen these open fields but her grandmother had told her about them before she died. Her grandmother would reminisce about peaceful times, before the third war- when she had been a little girl.
“After the Third Great War there weren’t enough people left to tend the fields and they were eventually replaced by forests.” Eva told her younger sister.
“Dad always said there were monsters in the forests outside of the village. He told us never to leave the village, never to go here.” Selene said apprehensively; regarding the looming trees with dismay. They are not the type of monsters you imagine Eva wanted to say. “I will keep you safe.”
Dry twigs and dying plants snapped and crunched beneath their leather boots as they wandered slowly under the threatening trees. The forest floor was sparsely littered with thickets of tall bushes, their thin leafless branches reaching towards the forest roof, clawing desperately for the sunlight that they craved. Years of decomposed leaves and bark provided a bounce to every step. Eva took a deep breath enjoying the smell of fresh pine needles.
“The only thing you should worry about is other people. We should be okay for a while.” But we’re not out of the woods yet.
It was hard to recognize what direction they were heading but Eva was seeking North towards Vigill; less than a day’s walk from her own village Gemhut Run. Her village was a canton and sub-district of Vigill and paid taxes in forms of wool, beef and milk. In return Vigill agreed to protect Gemhut Run from bandit attacks which had been happening more often lately. Help was supposed to have arrived yesterday Eva lamented. She recalled Principle Ethan Brier arriving in Gemhut Run less than two weeks ago to discuss trade and protection.
“A slithery, thieving snake” Eva had overheard her father calling the Principle one evening after a village meeting. “He takes too much from this village. Vigill feasts while Gemhut Run starves.” Eva’s father had been one of three Directors of Gemhut Run but when the attack came three days ago. He had been shot in the head along with two others.
Eva and her sister sobbed for days after their stricken mother had told them of his death. His loss left pain and hatred burning inside of Eva that had still not gone. I hate them. When Eva awoke yesterday morning, her mother was missing. Eva had decided to wait until that night before realizing that she was not going to return. She decided to escape to Vigill, her mother’s original plan. She is still alive I know it. I will get help in Vigill and we will save you, but she could still hear her mother’s warning. ‘Stay out of the forest, both of you. There are things in that forest that will do unimaginable things to you.’ She had told them.
After a couple of hours they stopped to rest beside a shallow stream and each of them ate a paltry piece of dry cheese and a slice of brown bread. Eva guessed that the stream might lead them to Moral Rough, an expansive lake. If I find Moral Rough I should be able to see Vigill across on the other side of the lake.
Eva couldn’t tell how many hours they had been following the stream when the dim light of dawn gradually illuminated the forest. The land had steadily started to descend, making walking a bit easier and the stream was now wider and deeper. Eva was proud to see the sun rising in the East, she had taken them north and the stream had taken them west toward Moral Rough, exactly where she had hoped. After a while the two girls came to the lake’s sandy shore and could clearly see Vigill hugging the northern shoreline. The forest stretched around the entire lake only Vigill broke through its thick grasp. If I follow the shoreline I could reach Vigill before mid-day.
The wind had picked up and the pines started to sway behind them as if waving goodbye. The grey clouds had broken throughout the night and now the spring sun smiled at them from a crystal blue sky. They were both in better spirits, even after a night of running and climbing and fear. The two girls had noticed few birds singing in the forest but beside the blue lake dozens of birds competed loudly.
“We’re almost there, look” Eva pointed excitedly across the blue lake. “There is Vigill.”
Selene squinted at the gray buildings in the distance and smiled. “We’ve made it.” She giggled.
“Almost made it.” A man’s voice suddenly spoke behind them. The soft sound of steel sliding against leather followed the leering voice.
Eva’s piercing scream filled the air when she turned to see a broad, sharp knife extended against her younger sisters pale throat. A burly hand was held over Selene’s mouth muffing her horror-filled screams, her face filled with terror and despair. She looked at Eva, her eyes begging for help, begging to be let free.
“Get away from her.” Eva screamed, tears gushing down her face, her fists trembling. We almost made it a voice screeched from inside her head. We were there.
“I done yah a favor little girly” he gruffly teased her, his wide, filthy nose sniffing Selene’s black hair. Eva stomach churned as the bald man slowly inhaled, exhilaration filling his face.
“She’s only twelve!! Let her go.” Eva shouted at him frantically. She stepped towards the hairy, bearded man. The knife quickly left her sisters neck and he thrust the blade towards her, its sharp edge shined in the morning sun.
“Come closer” he laughed manically “I dare yah. I did yous a favor, you would have found worse if yah went to the town. Run away little girl and just be glad I like em young or this could have been you.” Eva looked at her younger sister’s face; she looks so scared, so sad.
Before he returned the blade’s edge to Selene’s pretty neck, a deafening shot filled the air about them. The ugly man suddenly slumped to the sandy shore, his body falling face-first into the grey sand. Eva immediately ran to her younger sister, squeezing her tightly, wiping dirt and tears from her wet face. She clung against her, whimpering loudly into her chest.
“It’s alright.” Eva whispered. But who fired the shot? She looked around while embracing and consoling her sobbing sister. Nothing moved in the pine trees surrounding them and nothing could be seen moving on the lakes shore. The birds had stopped singing, escaping high into the clear sky upon hearing the gun shot. There was silence for a long time, only the muffled sounds of her younger sister crying and the waves lapping against the lake shore filled her ears. A breeze suddenly carried the distinct sounds of men’s voices; they were far away but they were getting closer. Eva and her sister scrambled back towards the waving pine trees, leaving the dead man lying on the shore.
“Stop” someone shouted to them, but they did not stop. The two sisters ran as fast as they could.
“Run” Eva encouraged, but her younger sister was much slower than her. Eva fumbled up a steep bank, pulling her sister after her, desperately trying to escape the angry voices calling behind her. They shouted horrible curses and filthy insults at them and Selene cried in fear. Eva turned to pull her sister up the verge and spotted a dozen men running after them from the edge of the lake. Long guns rose from their backs and they carried pistols in their hands. Some were laughing hysterically, others were angry and fury painted their grimy, faces.
“Faster, faster” Eva begged her little sister as she pulled her into the forest, her voice echoing between the narrow, pine trunks. We’ll never make it. She threw her heavy backpack to the forest floor. The men had already clambered up the ledge behind them. The sisters sprinted as fast they could through the forest, dodging between lanky pine trees, jumping over mossy logs and darting under low branches. Eva let go of her sister’s hand, it was easier and quicker for both of them to navigate between the pine trees on their own, but Eva was fitter and far stronger. They arrived at a wide and deep river, its current was strong and chaotic; the white waters churned and splashed loudly. Men’s voices called after them through the woods. They had no other choice but to carefully wade through the freezing waters.
“Hold my hand tightly and don’t let go.” Eva told her sister as they moved deeper and deeper through the rapid, icy cold waters. It’s foaming surface rose higher and higher, becoming stronger and faster until the waves finally snatched them into the deepness, dragging them under its exploding, white surface. They splashed and shouted, struggling against the tenacious current, struggling desperately to the surface to seize another gasp of air before its white arms pulled them under again, beating and battering them like ragdolls. Eva lost all sense of direction as the river tossed and turned her. Selene is going to die she thought as she emerged to the surface once more, spluttering for another breath of air. The river’s bulging arms enclosed around her, its chilling embrace dragging her below the waves once more. Bitter-cold water filled her lungs as she punched and kicked against its powerful clutch. She found the surface once more and yelling frantically for her sister with whatever remaining air was left in her. The world was blurry, desperately grabbing for anything within her reach, a rock, a branch, her hands suddenly grabbed the thick, slippery root of a tree. The white river wrangled against her, threatening to drag her below its surface into its dangerous depths. Eva refused to let go of the thick root, stubbornly reaching for it with her other hand, kicking desperately against the raging torrents.
“Selene.” She yelled as the river violently bounced her against the steep muddy bank. Wrapping her arms around the root, she searched frantically for her younger sister, glancing across to the other bank.
Eva screamed as she watched Selene dragged from the water by two men. Another man shouted something at her, his voice overwhelmed by the roar of the river. He shouted again and pointed at Eva, but it didn’t matter, the root snapped and the river engulfed Eva, plucking her from the bank and snatching her into its powerful depths once more.

LoneWolf
May 2nd, 2012, 11:26 PM
Below is a fairly large chunk that i have edited a few times. A couple of weeks ago I posted a different chapter (the chapter below had been my prologue at the time). However taking the advice of a lot of different guides and websites, I decided to change this to my Chapter 1.

I wrote a few things in the past, but this snowball seems to be gathering more and more and I am now up to chapter 6. I am worried about my style of writing and sometimes I worry about who are the audience that i am writing to. the below chapter tells me that my audience is teenagers, however other chapters tell me that this novel is for adults.

I'm just feeling a bit lost right now. i'm reading as much as I can per day (three or four different books) and I feel that my work isn't a scratch on others. What do you guys think?





Chapter 1

Deliver us from evil.

Gemhut Run was as quiet as a graveyard. Heavy black clouds obscured the moon and stars. The village inhabitants were deep in their slumber, the few older inhabitants dreaming of better times. Eva Yona sat upright on the side of her bed listening intently, her brown eyes scanning the room, I would put a semicolon here or make a new sentence. it was plain and cramped and had functioned as a downstairs lavatory before the Third Great War. A cracked, dusty porcelain sink still stood in the corner, unused for years. The room now functioned as a home for Eva as well as her younger sister Selene- though both sisters now regarded it more akin to a prison cell. Eva placed her hand on her younger sister’s head lying asleep in the bed next to her. The sudden jerk of her head revealed that she was now awake.

“It’s time” Eva whispered. “We cannot wait for her any longer.”

Her younger sister wiped her eyes. She had been crying in her sleep again Eva realized.
They gently rose out of the bed; both sisters had gone to sleep in heavy jeans, thick coats and tall leather boots so that when they woke, they would be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Eva hadn’t slept; she had waited since dusk- unwilling to trust herself to wake in the middle of the night as well as being nervous about the journey they faced ahead of them. I don't think you need to add 'ahead of them' here. Ending the sentence with "...about the journey they faced." would do, or "...about the journey ahead of them."I don't think you need both. They both silently slipped their bulking bulky? backpacks over their shoulders as they listened intently for any sounds or movement in the rest of the house.

The other rooms were eerily quiet, the silence only occasionally interrupted by a person turning in their bed or snoring in their sleep. After a while, Eva carefully opened the door and tiptoed into the shadowy hallway, Selene following closely behind, almost tripping over her older sister as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. Eva glanced at the front door knowing it would lead them out into the main street where they would be seen. Instead the two girls sneaked snuck? down an adjacent hallway, past some wooden stairs and through an unused, dirty kitchen. A slender door at the end of the kitchen opened outside to a garden at the back of the house and they stole out into the night.

“We must be quiet, very quiet” Eva breathed softly. She could hear her heart pounding against her chest.

“I’m scared.” Selene replied fearfully, her eyes darting from one building to another.

“They won’t see us if we are quiet. They won’t know we are gone until morning- maybe even until mid-day and by that time we will be far away and safe. Don’t be afraid.”

“If they see us…”

“They won’t see us” Eva comforted her younger sister.

Truth be told Eva feared about being seen even more so than her younger sister but refused to let it prevent their escape. Selene was too young to understand why they couldn’t stay in the village any longer. Selene knew about the men who arrived a few days ago. Eva had told her they were bad men but could never tell her why. She will learn how horrible they are if we don’t leave this village by tomorrow.

“Let’s go!” The two of them scurried soundlessly from building to building, crouching occasionally to look and listen. The entire village seemed to be sleeping although Eva knew different. They will be watching the road. Instead she avoided the road and maneuvered toward the fifteen foot brick wall that surrounded the village. The wall was built to provide some protection from the savagery of the countryside. Unfortunately it now served as an effective barrier to keep people in the village from getting out. The two sisters hugged the wall for a while as they caught their breath.

“Once we are safe I will brush your hair…it’s a mess.” Eva carefully moved her fingers through her younger sisters black hair; its black strands were almost invisible in the darkness. This seems strange to say in such a tense time. I feel like you were trying to portray the bond between the two, so I would add something that lets the reader know why she's thinking about her hair at a time like this. For instance, "Eva fondly scolded as she moved her fingers through her younger sister's black hair..." And then maybe a little incite into what she's thinking at that moment?

“Turn around” she ordered quietly. She hurriedly opened her younger sisters backpack and pulled out a large black rope; there were thick knots tied into the rope every couple of feet and a large metal hook at the end of it. Eva waited a few moments, listening intently. Once she was sure no one was nearby she threw the rope over the wall and then pulled it. The hook had caught onto nothing and after another few moments of listening Eva determinedly threw it over the wall again. This time she pulled a bit more carefully and suddenly the rope started to resist. The hook had caught.
She tugged at the rope a couple more times and then jumped up and wrapped her feet around one of the large knots, the rope had definitely snagged onto something.
Adrenaline filled her; the wall had been her greatest worry. Once over the wall we would be safe…for a time at least
“Okay just as we practiced” Eva smiled as she closed the zip on Selene’s pack. Eva examined the village, ensuring no one was nearby. We must be quick

“Go!”

Selene jumped up the rope and gradually started to climb the fifteen foot wall as Eva examined the village. It took her twelve year old sister a good five minutes to reach the top of the wall though it seemed like an eternity to Eva. “Okay wait there” Eva checked around her again and then promptly hopped onto the rope and started climbing. Having six years on Selene, Eva was stronger, quicker and more agile. She scaled the wall in less than a minute.

They both rested on the top for a while looking back on the village that they had grown up in. “My arms are sore” Selene whined.

“This is the last climbing we will have to do” Eva encouraged her little sister.

“Will you miss…here?”

“I will”

“I miss Mum and Dad” tears ran down her younger sisters cheeks.

“I do to…but they would want us to be safe and I promised to look after you” Eva stroked her younger sisters hair again.

“What happens if you die too?”

“I won’t die”

“Dad said he wouldn’t die.”

Eva didn’t have an answer to that and instead gingerly yanked at the metal hook that had lodged in some mortar between the bricks. It would need to be re-adjusted so that they could make their final decent to freedom. More like out of the frying pan Eva thought somberly.

“Keep watching, we’re nearly there” Eva instructed as the hook finally gave way. She quickly lodged it back into a crack in the wall and pressed onto it hoping that it wouldn’t become lose when they climbed down the other side.

“I hear voices” Selene whispered, terror filled her voice.

“Quickly down the rope” Gail ordered her. Who is Gail?

Selene pulled both of her legs over the wall and carefully lowered herself down. Eva silently followed without waiting, soundlessly praying that the metal hook had wedged itself deep enough into the brick to hold the two of them. The two sisters swiftly and silently shimmied down the wall and hit the grassy floor. Eva glanced at the rope dangling from the wall, wishing that she could take it with her.

“Let’s go!” Selene whispered frantically as she pulled at her older sister’s arm. The voices were getting closer on the other side of the wall.

“shhh- stay still” Eva replied. They will hear us if we move. All it would take is a trip or a step on a twig. The two sisters didn’t move. Eva could hear her heart beating in her ears. After a few moments the voices became softer and gradually moved away.

The two of them crept away from the village and into a shadowy forest; full of tall, lanky pine trees. The air was heavy in the forest. Nothing could be heard and nothing could be seen, and with a lack of any breeze the tall pine trees stood unmoving, ominously watching two dark shapes darting between their thin, brown legs.

“This forest used to be fields a long time ago, before the Third Great War.” Eva told her sister as they walked.
“There used to be cows and sheep and the fields stretched on as far as the eye could see”. She had never seen these open fields but her grandmother had told her about them before she died. Her grandmother would reminisce about peaceful times, before the third war- when she had been a little girl.

“After the Third Great War there weren’t enough people left to tend the fields and they were eventually replaced by forests.” Eva told her younger sister.

“Dad always said there were monsters in the forests outside of the village. He told us never to leave the village, never to go here.” Selene said apprehensively; regarding the looming trees with dismay.

They are not the type of monsters you imagine Eva wanted to say. “I will keep you safe.”

Dry twigs and dying plants snapped and crunched beneath their leather boots as they wandered slowly under the threatening trees. The forest floor was sparsely littered with thickets of tall bushes, their thin leafless branches reaching towards the forest roof, clawing desperately for the sunlight that they craved. Years of decomposed leaves and bark provided a bounce to every step. Eva took a deep breath enjoying the smell of fresh pine needles.

“The only thing you should worry about is other people. We should be okay for a while.” But we’re not out of the woods yet.

It was hard to recognize what direction they were heading but Eva was seeking North towards Vigill; less than a day’s walk from her own village Gemhut Run. Her village was a canton and sub-district of Vigill and paid taxes in forms of wool, beef and milk. In return Vigill agreed to protect Gemhut Run from bandit attacks which had been happening more often lately. Help was supposed to have arrived yesterday Gail lamented. She recalled Principle Ethan Brier arriving in Gemhut Run less than two weeks ago to discuss trade and protection.

“A slithery, thieving snake” Eva had overheard her father calling the Principle one evening after a village meeting. “He takes too much from this village. Vigill feasts while Gemhut Run starves.” Eva’s father had been one of three Directors of Gemhut Run but when the attack came three days ago. He had been shot in the head along with two others.
Eva and her sister sobbed for days after their stricken mother had told them of his death. His loss left pain and hatred burning inside of Eva that had still not gone. I hate them. When Eva awoke yesterday morning, her mother was missing. Eva had decided to wait until that night before realizing that she was not going to return. She decided to escape to Vigill, her mother’s original plan. She is still alive I know it. I will get help in Vigill and we will save you, but she could still hear her mother’s warning. ‘Stay out of the forest, both of you. There are things in that forest that will do unimaginable things to you.’ She had told them.

After a couple of hours they stopped to rest beside a shallow stream and each of them ate a paltry piece of dry cheese and a slice of brown bread. Eva guessed that the stream might lead them to Moral Rough, an expansive lake. If I find Moral Rough I should be able to see Vigill across on the other side of the lake.
Eva couldn’t tell how many hours they had been following the stream when the dim light of dawn gradually illuminated the forest. The land had steadily started to descend, making walking a bit easier and the stream was now wider and deeper. Eva was proud to see the sun rising in the East, she had taken them north and the stream had taken them west toward Moral Rough, exactly where she had hoped. After a while the two girls came to the lake’s sandy shore and could clearly see Vigill hugging the northern shoreline. The forest stretched around the entire lake only Vigill broke through its thick grasp. If I follow the shoreline I could reach Vigill before mid-day.

The wind had picked up and the pines started to sway behind them as if waving goodbye. The grey clouds had broken throughout the night and now the spring sun smiled at them from a crystal blue sky. They were both in better spirits, even after a night of running and climbing and fear. The two girls had noticed few birds singing in the forest but beside the blue lake dozens of birds competed loudly.

“We’re almost there, look” Eva pointed excitedly across the blue lake. “There is Vigill.”

Selene squinted at the gray buildings in the distance and smiled. “We’ve made it.” She giggled.

“Almost made it.” A man’s voice suddenly spoke behind them. The soft sound of steel sliding against leather followed the leering voice.

Eva’s piercing scream filled the air when she turned to see a broad, sharp knife extended against her younger sisters pale throat. A burly hand was held over Selene’s mouth muffing her horror-filled screams, her face filled with terror and despair. She looked at Eva, her eyes begging for help, begging to be let free.

“Get away from her.” Eva screamed, tears gushing down her face, her fists trembling. We almost made it a voice screeched from inside her head. We were there.

“I done yah a favor little girly” he gruffly teased her, his wide, filthy nose sniffing Selene’s black hair. Eva stomach churned as the bald man slowly inhaled, exhilaration filling his face.

“She’s only twelve!! Let her go.” Eva shouted at him frantically. She stepped towards the hairy, bearded man. The knife quickly left her sisters neck and he thrust the blade towards her, its sharp edge shined in the morning sun.

“Come closer” he laughed manically “I dare yah. I did yous a favor, you would have found worse if yah went to the town. Run away little girl and just be glad I like em young or this could have been you.” Eva looked at her younger sister’s face; she looks so scared, so sad.

Before he returned the blade’s edge to Selene’s pretty neck, a deafening shot filled the air about them. The ugly man suddenly slumped to the sandy shore, his body falling face-first into the grey sand. Eva immediately ran to her younger sister, squeezing her tightly, wiping dirt and tears from her wet face. She clung against her, whimpering loudly into her chest.

“It’s alright.” Eva whispered. But who fired the shot? She looked around while embracing and consoling her sobbing sister. Nothing moved in the pine trees surrounding them and nothing could be seen moving on the lakes shore. The birds had stopped singing, escaping high into the clear sky upon hearing the gun shot. There was silence for a long time, only the muffled sounds of her younger sister crying and the waves lapping against the lake shore filled her ears. A breeze suddenly carried the distinct sounds of men’s voices; they were far away but they were getting closer. Eva and her sister scrambled back towards the waving pine trees, leaving the dead man lying on the shore.

“Stop” someone shouted to them, but they did not stop. The two sisters ran as fast as they could.

“Run” Eva encouraged, but her younger sister was much slower than her. Eva fumbled up a steep bank, pulling her sister after her, desperately trying to escape the angry voices calling behind her. They shouted horrible curses and filthy insults at them and Selene cried in fear. Eva turned to pull her sister up the verge and spotted a dozen men running after them from the edge of the lake. Long guns rose from their backs and they carried pistols in their hands. Some were laughing hysterically, others were angry and fury painted their grimy, faces.

“Faster, faster” Eva begged her little sister as she pulled her into the forest, her voice echoing between the narrow, pine trunks. We’ll never make it. She threw her heavy backpack to the forest floor. The men had already clambered up the ledge behind them. The sisters sprinted as fast they could through the forest, dodging between lanky pine trees, jumping over mossy logs and darting under low branches. Eva let go of her sister’s hand, it was easier and quicker for both of them to navigate between the pine trees on their own, but Eva was fitter and far stronger. They arrived at a wide and deep river, its current was strong and chaotic; the white waters churned and splashed loudly. Men’s voices called after them through the woods. They had no other choice but to carefully wade through the freezing waters.

“Hold my hand tightly and don’t let go.” Eva told her sister as they moved deeper and deeper through the rapid, icy cold waters. It’s foaming surface rose higher and higher, becoming stronger and faster until the waves finally snatched them into the deepness, dragging them under its exploding, white surface. They splashed and shouted, struggling against the tenacious current, struggling desperately to the surface to seize another gasp of air before its white arms pulled them under again, beating and battering them like ragdolls. Eva lost all sense of direction as the river tossed and turned her. Selene is going to die she thought as she emerged to the surface once more, spluttering for another breath of air. The river’s bulging arms enclosed around her, its chilling embrace dragging her below the waves once more. Bitter-cold water filled her lungs as she punched and kicked against its powerful clutch. She found the surface once more and yelling frantically for her sister with whatever remaining air was left in her. The world was blurry, desperately grabbing for anything within her reach, a rock, a branch, her hands suddenly grabbed the thick, slippery root of a tree. The white river wrangled against her, threatening to drag her below its surface into its dangerous depths. Eva refused to let go of the thick root, stubbornly reaching for it with her other hand, kicking desperately against the raging torrents.
“Selene.” She yelled as the river violently bounced her against the steep muddy bank. Wrapping her arms around the root, she searched frantically for her younger sister, glancing across to the other bank.

Eva screamed as she watched Selene dragged from the water by two men. Another man shouted something at her, his voice overwhelmed by the roar of the river. He shouted again and pointed at Eva, but it didn’t matter, the root snapped and the river engulfed Eva, plucking her from the bank and snatching her into its powerful depths once more.


This was really great! I love the plot and the characters, and the action was written well and in good detail which made it exciting to read. The only thing I would say is I would try to establish the depth of the sister's relationship early on. At the end it is evident she loves Selene very much, but at the beginning I just didn't feel that deep connection. Like at one point she realized Selene was crying in her sleep, but that's it. I would have liked to see maybe, she realized Selene was crying in her sleep and she felt her heart squeeze with sadness. Or her brow furrowed in concern. That may be a bit much, but just something that illustrates their relationship better.

I tried to format it the best way I could. Just remember to space everything so that it's appealing to other readers. I added a few critiques (just my opinions!) and there are some minor punctuation errors, but overall I enjoyed this and I really want to know what happens to Eva! Thanks for the read :)

Meego
May 3rd, 2012, 12:44 AM
LoneWolf seemed to catch anything that I would have seen but the thing that got me was at the end.


“Hold my hand tightly and don’t let go.” Eva told her sister as they moved deeper and deeper through the rapid, icy cold waters. It’s foaming surface rose higher and higher, becoming stronger and faster until the waves finally snatched them into the deepness, dragging them under its exploding, white surface. They splashed and shouted, struggling against the tenacious current, struggling desperately to the surface to seize another gasp of air before its white arms pulled them under again, beating and battering them like ragdolls. Eva lost all sense of direction as the river tossed and turned her. Selene is going to die she thought as she emerged to the surface once more, spluttering for another breath of air. The river’s bulging arms enclosed around her, its chilling embrace dragging her below the waves once more. Bitter-cold water filled her lungs as she punched and kicked against its powerful clutch. She found the surface once more and yelling frantically for her sister with whatever remaining air was left in her. The world was blurry, desperately grabbing for anything within her reach, a rock, a branch, her hands suddenly grabbed the thick, slippery root of a tree. The white river wrangled against her, threatening to drag her below its surface into its dangerous depths. Eva refused to let go of the thick root, stubbornly reaching for it with her other hand, (When did she let go of her sisters hand?) kicking desperately against the raging torrents.
“Selene.” She yelled as the river violently bounced her against the steep muddy bank. Wrapping her arms around the root, she searched frantically for her younger sister, glancing across to the other bank.

That's the only inconsistent part I found in your story so far, that she grabbed her sisters hand when they went into the water but no mention of them letting go, just that they are no longer holding hands. It is understandable that their hands would be separated in such a fierce current but it might be helpful to mention somewhere that that is what happens.

Other than that it was extremely interesting! I liked a lot of your imagery such as "before its white arms pulled them under again" and "the pines started to sway behind them as if waving goodbye". I am really intrigued about what is going on with the "bad" men and why it would be worse for them to get to the town and who the men in the forest are.

As far as your audience, I don't see why this couldn't be a part of an adult novel, especially if later chapters call for such a distinction. I don't think that every "adult" novel has explicitly all adult chapters and might vary depending on the content of each chapter. I don't think that you should get too hung up on the idea of a single chapter's audience but to think of your book as a whole. If it was the level of your writing then maybe that would be something to consider but I, personally, don't feel that your writing level is poor.

I hope you share more!!! Good luck. :)

Neath Lankly
May 3rd, 2012, 09:00 AM
thanks very much guys for the feedback- its brilliant and just what i need. Gail is Eva (character name change and i had to ctrl+ F 7 chapters to replace the name). Do any of you have experience with proof readers and will they bring this type of thing up .My novel is still in its first draft (i'm at 30,000 words) and soon i'm going to start worrying about quality over quantity and although its early, i've been taking a look at some proof readers websites when i take a break from writing. I've noticed that some of them also act as a kinda of halfway publishers i.e advertising and organizing meetings with major book retailers ect ect. do any of you have any experience with that?

Meego
May 3rd, 2012, 11:26 AM
Ah, yeah, I was wondering about the name change. I think Eva is better than Gail. There were two places that still had Gail, LoneWolf mentioned one but look out for the other.

As far as proof reader sites, I didn't even know they existed until you mentioned them. Sorry I couldn't be more of a help there. I'd always be willing to read more if you'd like help with that. I am not a professional proof reader though, so it would be mainly what I have already done plus some grammar-like changes similar to LoneWolf. Best of luck!!

LoneWolf
May 3rd, 2012, 06:50 PM
Ahh okay, that answers that. I don't have any experience with proof readers. I know you can put out ads and hire college students and the like to do the job, but I've never had to do it myself. I've never checked out any proof reader sites. I'm sorry I can't be of more help! But I agree, I'd be happy to read anything you need and I look forward to seeing the rest.

Neath Lankly
May 11th, 2012, 12:00 AM
Below is Chapter 2 (this is my third try- the previous two versions were scrapped).

My next question is
The word count for my first chapter is 3161 words and the word count for my second chapter is 3200 words. My next nine chapters have between 2500 to 3800 words. I have been reading that for fantasy novels 8000 to 12,000 words is normal, for everything else its 4000 to 6000. I want to expand more on my chapters word count (i personally believe that personalities and interactions between my characters are lacking). What do you guys think of a chapter having 2500 to 3500 words?
I have decided to not name my chapters anymore- I much prefer just the simple numbers what do you guys think?
I want my total word count to be 110,000- 120,000 (after editing i'm hoping for 70,000 to 80,000) this would mean with my current word count i would have 30- 40 chapters.
What do you guys think of that many chapters in a 70,000 word novel?

____
2

2



“Find my niece.” Neil Yona was a man that was rarely ignored. An influential and highly regarded politician; his words demanded attention and respect within the Capital. “I don’t care what you have to do, just find them and bring the man who murdered my brother to justice.”

A messenger had been dispatched from the distant town of Vigill, close to the village where his brother had been murdered, the town practically unheard of. Indeed Neil Yona had searched a map; the location arousing his only curiosity about the subject. Upon opening the brown envelope, handed to him by an exhausted and hard-travelled looking man, Neil had discovered the death of his younger brother and the kidnapping of his brother’s youngest daughter. Little other information had been provided on the single page of writing, hardly anything about his brother’s wife, Leona or of his brother’s eldest daughter, Eva. ‘Missing presumed dead’ had been scribbled beside each of their names. In truth, the politician cared little about his brother or his brother’s family, separated at birth and temporarily re-acquainted at adolescence, the brothers had found no common ground. Upon reaching adulthood the two brothers had shaken hands for the last time and went their separate ways. Most frustratingly for Neil Yona, the kidnapping of his niece could not simply be swept to one side. And so, with great irritation, and to save public perception, Neil Yona was forced to charge two Guardians of the peace to investigate the incident.

Upon witnessing the two Guardians vacate his office, his final considerations concerning the matter were of hope; hope that the men who had murdered his brother, suffered a similar fate, and hope of his niece turning up dead- Neil Yona had small time for children, and they required much attention which was required elsewhere. That was the last time that he had dwelt on the minor interruption to his life. Well actually; decades later, an old man with few friends and no family, Neil Yona pondered about what happened to the two Guardians and whatever became of his niece, but in the end he never found out.

It had taken almost a month for the two Gaurdians to reach the distant and secluded town of Malrane. Peter Harrow- a young student Guardian who was not particularly enjoying his first experience outside the academy, blamed the duration of the journey on his older partner and his decision to avoid every other town and village along the way. It was true that Guardians of the peace did not leave the Capital very much, and the few times that they did, they tended to attract the wrong kind of attention, particularly from anybody who was disgruntled with the current Government- which happened to be almost everybody.

The two Guardians had passed over rolling hills, filled with brown, leggy weeds stretching high above their heads and hidden rocks with sharp edges and concealed ditches that were oft deep and hard to escape from. They had trudged through soggy bogs, stretching far over the horizon and home to incredibly agitating flies and creepy crawlies, biting and stinging and harassing them day and night.

Now they were camped in the depths of Carran Forest- a truly gargantuan forest filled with lofty pine trees, stretching north and west and south, as far as the eye could see, eventually ending at the green, grey waters of the Glasri Ocean. The great, green blanket of pines was only occasionally interrupted with sweeping, sapphire lakes and scanty patches of towns and villages. The further they had come through the forest; the patches of civilization had become far less frequent and less concentrated. Their journey northwest under Carran’s green roof had eventually taken the two Guardians to the outskirts of Malrane, one of the final northwest towns that still maintained itself apart of the Nation. Tree legs were noticeably less clustered here; their dead sisters and brothers had provided much warmth and heat to the Malrane’s inhabitants in the cold, winter nights. White sunbeams managed to pierce through gaps in the mossy ceiling, cooking the heavy air in the forest as well as the two Guardians that camped beneath it.

Beads of sweat dripped from Peter Harrow’s face as he hung his short, brown jacket onto a low tree branch, his older mentor, Alt Ruman- a temperamental old dog, puffed his pipe and poked a stick at the dwindling fire which was cooking his breakfast.

“I mean c’mon, how long does it take for them to inform the Principle that we are here- I mean, we arrived at the gates, what? Almost six hours ago!” Peter complained angrily; wiping the sweat from his forehead. His brown eyes examined his older partner awaiting his response. But his older partner said nothing and continued puffing away, occasionally shaking the pan frying at his feet.

Peter had noticed that Alt Ruman was a quiet and grumpy man during the hours of his waking, almost like a bear waking from a long hibernation, both had no intentions of fighting, but you wouldn’t want to take any chances either. Sniffing loudly and clearing his throat, the old Guardian returned his attention to his frying mushrooms. Peter wiped more sweat from his face, growing even more agitated at his partner’s lack of communication skills.

“I know I’ve said this before.” Peter ranted. “But what is this? I mean why even bother sending two Guardians to the middle of nowhere, chasing some girl who got taken by some pitiful bandits. Why, she is probably already lying dead in some ditch.” He paced frantically back and forth. Alt Ruman rolled his eyes and took a deep breath as he listened to his younger student rave about their latest assignment; his moaning had become even more incessant over the past week.
“Oh and that’s not even the best part.” Peter continued, shaking his head and smiling sarcastically. “A politician… A politician!” he waved his arms dramatically. “Telling a Guardian what to do, telling a Guardian to go and kill- which I might add is probably illegal.”

Alt tapped his pipe against the mossy log he was seated upon whilst watching his young student with as much interest as watching trees grow. He breathed deeply, the hot day causing him to sweat profusely. He felt uncomfortably hot, but to see his student finally explode provided him with some satisfaction. Alt had toyed with the idea of drowning his student in the muddy bogs between here and the Capital, the sinking holes would have provided an excellent hiding spot for the body too, though future generations would probably discover the preserved corpse and deduce from it, that our entire generation had the intelligence of a tree trunk and the physicality of a sloth Alt thought sourly.
“Save horses” he interrupted his student’s ranting’s, biting his pipe between his teeth and lighting the tobacco he had sprinkled into it.

“Without horses” Peter cried incredulously waving his arms in the air hysterically. “Going this far to the border without any horses, unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable, and they knew it would take us weeks to get here!”

“Swamps-” Alt’s haggard voice interrupted him again as he threw another stick into the flames, adding more fuel to the fire.

“And the swamps” Peter’s voice had become serious. “I’ll remember those stinking, smelling...” He suddenly turned to Alt and looked at him; his youthful face filled with disgust. “You’re enjoying this aren’t you?” Peter noticed. “You’re sick man. This is all a big joke to you.”

“Sit down boy.” The old Guardian said. “The heat is getting to you. Whenever this Principle or whoever comes to reckon with us, I don’t want you whining and bitching like a little girl who has lost her doll. The Capital may be far and I’m not content to be here either, but I won’t have you portraying us as a pack of idiotic clowns. You have a lot to learn boy, so when we enter those gates shut your mouth and keep your eyes and ears open.” Alt Ruman was a mean looking man; a scowl that would sour milk and eyes that would pierce through leather. Peter wasn’t going to argue with him, instead he plopped sulkily down onto a fallen tree trunk; its end look like it had been splintered, probably by a stray bolt of lightning in a fierce storm.

“Although hard to find- Neil Yona is one of the few honest politicians in the Capital. Yes, his requisition that we find his nieces and kill the man who murdered his brother has instigated this assignment, but it does not illegitimate our orders. The mission is sound.” Alt said; thin wisps of brown smoke drifted above the creases in his forehead and his bushy eyebrows. “You’re probably right; one of the girls is probably rolled up in a bag at the bottom of some lake, and maybe the scum who murdered their father have run away into the western wastes. But we will thoroughly investigate the task appointed to us.” Alt scowled, the heat was also starting to affect his mood.

“I’m going to scout around” Peter replied angrily and stormed off, leaving Alt puffing his pipe.

Alt watched the curly, haired teenager charge around the pine trunks out of sight. A plume of smoke rushed from his dry lips as he sighed,
“The last student I take.” He mumbled, glancing at the brown jacket that his junior partner had left behind, a holster and gun dangled from one of its pockets. Alt sighed again and shook his head. Probably best that he forgot it, the kid’s skill with his pistols is reputable but he lets his emotions get the better of him.

The two of them had gone to sleep earlier in the morning to a crisp, clear breeze. Now a white ball of fire radiated brightly against a cloudless, royal sky, scorching the immense pine forest that blanketed the landscape below it. The fresh morning had matured into an unnaturally hot day; heavy air hanging about the pine trunks was now still and stuffy and difficult to breathe in. Carran Forest was quiet, silence only occasionally interrupted by birds tweeting or a branch cracking from the heat. The two Guardians had slept most of the morning under a leafless, spiny bush; its thin arms tangled this way and that way, attempting to follow an arm from stem to tip proved impossible. A hundred meters away from their campsite; tall, grey walls emerged up over the forest roof protecting the town of Malrane. After traveling through most of the night Alt and Peter had approached the town gates before dawn, armed defenders had politely turned them away- telling them to wait near the town walls. Peter almost threw a temper tantrum Alt frowned. The young Guardian has the temperament of a bull.

Alt groaned as he reached for his brown boots, he spit on them while polishing their muddy sides with the corner of his grey shirt. Carran Forest had not provided an easy journey for them or the bog lands for that matter; most of their clothes were filthy and creased from days of rain and wind. At least it’s hot; I’d rather cook in the sun than freeze in the rain he thought.

Alt spent most of his time thinking of his wife and children back in the Capital. They had begged him not to go into the country, with rumors rampant of religious fanatics and psychotic psychopaths ruling the towns and villages on the edges of the Nation, Alt could understand why. Usually Guardians were utilized in the Capital as chief investigators of serious crimes, acting judges or administration of justice and punishment. Rarely were they sent this far from the city, and Alt had never heard of a case where a Guardian had been sent to the outer edges of the empire. Crime was rampant along the rim, for there was nothing else beyond it, only skeletons and ruins of cities deserted in the chaotic years after the Third World War. The remaining survivors were plunged into a dark age.

Alt had been one of the few Guardians to leave the Capitol once before, though it was many years ago. The mission took him to a large town, within a week’s walk from the City and even then he had been on horseback- which had shortened the length of the journey considerably. He had pondered constantly since leaving the Capital about this unusual assignment, about whether the young girl lived, whether her mother or her older sister still lived. The case stuck a chord within him, for Alt had two young girls of his own. God help any man who laid a hand upon them, he thought.

The silence in the forest was suddenly broken by the crackle of distant gunfire; it started with one or two shots but was soon answered. Within seconds hundreds of shots could be heard crackling in the distance. Towards the town gates Alt speculated. Peter came panting back into the camp, clumsily kicking over Alts frying mushrooms.

“Towards the gate” Peter puffed, his face flushed and filled with excitement. “I didn’t see anyone, I just ran here as soon as heard the gunfire.”

Alt pulled his black coat around him and grabbed a long assault rifle propped against a tree trunk.

“Stay calm…And arm yourself for Christ sake.”

Peter snatched his jacket from the branch, blundering about with the pistol that fell from its pocket. He finally managed to pull it over his shoulders and affix the gun holster to his belt. Alt grabbed him firmly, dragging him towards the gun fire; he managed to grab his pistols just in time.

The two Guardians scampered warily through the sparsely scattered pine trunks, one of them occasionally dropping to his knee to scan around them while the other moved closer to the gunfire. They switched positions back and forth, one moving, one scouting, laboriously advancing towards the gun fight. Dry brown bark and twigs crunched and snapped under their feet. The gunfire was now much closer but the crackling was becoming less frequent until eventually the symphony of combat subsided altogether, replaced by people shouting and cursing. Alt swiftly crouched behind a thick pine trunk, gingerly peeking around the bark; his eyes carefully examined the wide open space between the edge of the forest and the town gates. Peter hunkered down beside his older partner, room enough behind the trunk for two.

“What do you see?” he whispered to his mentor.

“The town gates are open.” Alt scanned the stretch of green space in front of them. “No dead from what I can see, the defenders are watching the trees around us and if you haven’t noticed we are swimming in shell casings.”

Peter looked at the ground, Alt was right- there was hundreds of thin, red shells littering the forest floor about them. How the hell did I miss them? Peter thought frustrated. The air about them smelled of sulfur.

“Watch your surroundings boy. Now what can you tell by looking at the casings?”

Peter plucked some of the casings scattered amongst the bark, he examined them closely. “Some of them are old and pale and haven’t been fired today; most of them seem more weathered than others.” He returned his gaze to Alt. “There has been combat here before today.”

“Good.” Alt turned back to him. “I speculate the town is under siege, the ground here is well-tread and by the look of their faces- the defenders at the gate are not surprised, they have grown accustomed to this.” Alt lowered his assault rifle and pointed to the edge of the tree line to their right. “The attackers have been shooting from all along the edge of the tree line, using the trees as cover. The keen eyed would notice that chips of bark have exploded from the side of the trees facing toward the town.” Peter turned his head towards the direction his gun was pointing. “The results of return fire from the defenders. Judging the distance and the wide scattering of bullet holes in the trees- the defenders are using close range weapons, unsuitable for this type of engagement.” Alt examined the tree line either side of them for a few moments and then looked back to his student. “Put your hands up and walk to the gates.” Alt told him calmly.

It was a few seconds before Peter realized what Alt was saying and he chuckled nervously if it were a bad joke.
“Walk out there boy, slowly, with your hands in the air, and get ready to run to the gate.” Alt ordered him again.
“Are you insane? If the people in the town don’t shoot me, the people in the trees will.”

“If the defenders shoot at you they will miss. If the attackers shoot at you, it will be their last shot they ever fire. Your guns are useless in this scenario whilst mine are not. You will go first, I will follow after. Now go.” Alt said, shoving Peter out of the tress and into the open field. Peter raised his hands immediately into the air.

“Don’t shoot.” He wailed. “I surrender.” He hurriedly marched towards the startled defenders who looked at each other in puzzlement. They suddenly raised their weapons to him but they held their fire. Peter closed his eyes as he walked towards them, praying that one of them didn’t accidentally pull a trigger. Meanwhile Alt had rested his rifle against the side of the tree, scanning the tree line meticulously. Nothing moved in the forest, there was only silence.

Sweat poured from Peters face, some as a result of the heat. His hands shook and his face had become pale. Dead man walking comes to mind he thought when he was almost halfway between the tree line and the town gates. All it would take was one man, one shot, but that shot never came. Peter paced quickly through the gates and into the safety of the town, though the defenders still had their guns raised at him, ready to fire at a moment’s notice.

“I am a Guardian of the peace. My partner is still waiting in the forest.” He shouted loudly.

“Guard this.” A woman’s voice suddenly broke the silence, Pain surged at the side of his head and the village spun. His last sight was that of a cracked, tarmacked street coming up to meet him.

Alt watched the boy enter the gate under the watchful eyes of the defenders. “Now the hard part” he muttered as he lowered his rifle. There would be no one to watch his back as he ran to the town gates over open field. The forest was silent; the only thing he could hear was his heartbeat in his ears. Brushing his messy, grey hair from in front of his face, he prepared to step out from behind the tree to follow in his partner’s footsteps until he suddenly heard the distinct sound of a pistol safety being switched off. Alt glanced behind him into the barrel of a silver pistol aimed at his head.

D1flyinggoose
May 11th, 2012, 02:06 PM
I believe the Writing gift is there -Read Hemingway-Read Hemingway-Read Hemingway

Meego
May 11th, 2012, 11:27 PM
I will be doing this as a two part response. Below is my opinions to your questions:

The word count for my first chapter is 3161 words and the word count for my second chapter is 3200 words. My next nine chapters have between 2500 to 3800 words. I have been reading that for fantasy novels 8000 to 12,000 words is normal, for everything else its 4000 to 6000. I want to expand more on my chapters word count (i personally believe that personalities and interactions between my characters are lacking). What do you guys think of a chapter having 2500 to 3500 words?

I don't think that having a smaller word count is necessarily a bad thing. If you are able to use those words efficiently to produce good imagery and a connection between the reader and the characters, then it shouldn't matter. If you add words just to hit a count then you might actually lose quality just to reach quantity. (This might not necessarily happen but just be wary of it. Make sure if you add, add quality)

I have decided to not name my chapters anymore- I much prefer just the simple numbers what do you guys think?

If I am to be honest, I do not pay much attention to chapter titles as an avid reader. If the book has captured me then I don't even bother reading the titles because I am much more interested in getting on to the next part. If I do read the titles, it's more of glimpse and I would never be able to recall what they were. Also, many good novels stick to just the numbers, so it wouldn't be a taboo in my opinion to not have titles.

I want my total word count to be 110,000- 120,000 (after editing I'm hoping for 70,000 to 80,000) this would mean with my current word count I would have 30- 40 chapters.
What do you guys think of that many chapters in a 70,000 word novel?

I don't see anything wrong with several chapters. Chapters can be used for many different purposes and personally I would rather a book have slightly more than the average amount of them than the opposite. From a readers standpoint, I don't like to put a book down before I reach the end of a chapter so if the chapters are super long, it is actually a bit frustrating because I feel like I am forced to read longer than I'd like just so that I have a good "stopping point". From a writing standpoint, I think having more chapters might help you stay focused (in my opinion) because chapters can be used as an "ending" point or cliffhanger of sorts. If you force yourself to have fewer chapters you might feel obligated to add too much fluff just so that you don't reach a chapter too quickly.

But all of this is just an opinion, so take or leave what you will :)

Next will be about your Chapter 2.

Meego
May 12th, 2012, 12:53 AM
I really like the wording of this line:


“Find my niece.” Neil Yona was a man that was rarely ignored.

I liked the imagery of these lines:


journey northwest under Carran’s green roof
White sunbeams managed to pierce through gaps in the mossy ceiling, cooking the heavy air in the forest as well as the two Guardians that camped beneath it
against a cloudless, royal sky, scorching the immense pine forest that blanketed the landscape below it.

I like the inference of this line:


Sweat poured from Peters face, some as a result of the heat

These similes was particularly good:


watching his young student with as much interest as watching trees grow
a scowl that would sour milk and eyes that would pierce through leather

I like the ending of this chapter, it is really suspenseful and I can't wait to read another chapter!!
So far the character that has caught my attention the most is Neil Yona. He seems to be an interesting guy, both an honest politician and someone who would hope for the death of his own niece? Even if she is only distantly related, it's an odd mix. Makes me wonder what kind of morals/priorities this guy has. He may not be a main character but I do hope to run into him again in the story.


"That was the last time that he had dwelt on the minor interruption to his life. Well actually; decades later, as an old man with few friends and no family, Neil Yona pondered about what happened to the two Guardians and whatever became of his niece, but in the end he never found out." (Do you want to give away the fact that Neil Yona won't know about such things later on in life? At this stage his character intrigues me a lot and knowing that he will not pay a major part in the future bums me out. Would it be better to leave me guessing? But it is a good sentence regardless, leaving it in wouldn't hurt anything.)

First you say that the Guardians "reach the distant and secluded town of Malrane" but a couple of paragraphs later you say " Now they were camped in the depths of Carran Forest" which is just outside the wall of Malrane. This can be a bit confusing, where are they exactly? Maybe instead of saying that it took a month to reach Malrane you could say, it had been a month and they had only just reached the wall of Malrane, or something so that later when you tell me they are actually in a different location I am not confused?


The rest of my comments/critiques I put inside the story in hopes that it makes more sense:


“Find my niece.” Neil Yona was a man that was rarely ignored. An influential and highly regarded politician; his words demanded attention and respect within the Capital. “I don’t care what you have to do, just find them and bring the man who murdered my brother to justice.”

A messenger had been dispatched from the distant town of Vigill, close to the village where his brother had been murdered, the town practically unheard of. Indeed Neil Yona had searched a map; the location arousing his only curiosity about the subject. Upon opening the brown envelope, handed to him by an exhausted and hard-travelled looking man, Neil had discovered the death of his younger brother and the kidnapping of his brother’s youngest daughter. (These 2 sentences feel awkward since he had already demanded that his niece be found. The beginning of this chapter captures your attention so I'd leave it the way it is but would it be better to say something like "Neil had discovered the death of his younger brother and the kidnapping of his brother’s youngest daughter when he had opened the brown envelope, handed to him by an exhausted and hard-travelled looking man" This puts the action in the past tense instead of present tense in the original) Little other information had been provided on the single page of writing, hardly anything about his brother’s wife, Leona or of his brother’s eldest daughter, Eva. ‘Missing presumed dead’ had been scribbled beside each of their names. In truth, the politician cared little about his brother or his brother’s family, separated at birth and temporarily re-acquainted at adolescence, the brothers had found no common ground. Upon reaching adulthood the two brothers had shaken hands for the last time and went their separate ways. Most frustratingly for Neil Yona, the kidnapping of his niece could not simply be swept to one side. And so, with great irritation, and to save public perception, Neil Yona was forced to charge two Guardians of the peace to investigate the incident.

Upon witnessing (When I think of the word "witness" I think of its most common definition; "to bear witness to; testify to; give or afford evidence of" which reminds me of a court case. Would another word like "observe" or "beheld" work better? I know you were attempting to use a word other than see or watch here.) the two Guardians vacate his office, his final considerations concerning the matter were of hope; hope that the men who had murdered his brother, suffered a similar fate, and hope of his niece turning up dead- Neil Yona had small time for children, and they required much attention which was required elsewhere. (The repetition of "required", would it be better to replace one with another word, such as "essential" maybe? "Neil Yona had small time for children, and they required much attention which was essential elsewhere) That was the last time that he had dwelt on the minor interruption to his life. Well actually; decades later, as an old man with few friends and no family, Neil Yona pondered about what happened to the two Guardians and whatever became of his niece, but in the end he never found out.

It had taken almost a month for the two Gaurdians to reach the distant and secluded town of Malrane. (Where is Malrane and why are they there? I dont recall it mentioned before.) Peter Harrow- a young student Guardian (given the feel of the piece, would apprentice or disciple be better than student? I feel that student is almost too modern/without prestige for the feel/setting of the piece especially since he comes from an "academy" which is not a modern/prestige-less term itself.) who was not particularly enjoying his first experience outside the academy, blamed the duration of the journey on his older partner and his decision to avoid every other town and village along the way. It was true that Guardians of the peace did not leave the Capital very much, and the few times that they did, they tended to attract the wrong kind of attention, particularly from anybody who was disgruntled with the current Government- which happened to be almost everybody.

The two Guardians had passed over rolling hills, filled with brown, leggy weeds stretching high above their heads and hidden rocks with sharp edges and concealed ditches that were oft deep and hard to escape from. They had trudged through soggy bogs, stretching far over the horizon and home to incredibly agitating flies and creepy crawlies, biting and stinging and harassing them day and night.

Now they were camped in the depths of Carran Forest- a truly gargantuan forest filled with lofty pine trees, stretching north and west and south, as far as the eye could see, eventually ending at the green, grey waters of the Glasri Ocean. The great, green blanket of pines was only occasionally interrupted with sweeping, sapphire lakes and scanty patches of towns and villages. The further they had come through the forest; the patches of civilization had become far less frequent and less concentrated. Their journey northwest under Carran’s green roof had eventually taken the two Guardians to the outskirts of Malrane, one of the final northwest towns that still maintained itself apart of the Nation. Tree legs were noticeably less clustered here; their dead sisters and brothers had provided much warmth and heat to the Malrane’s inhabitants in the cold, winter nights. White sunbeams managed to pierce through gaps in the mossy ceiling, cooking the heavy air in the forest as well as the two Guardians that camped beneath it.

Beads of sweat dripped from Peter Harrow’s face as he hung his short, brown jacket onto a low tree branch, his older mentor, Alt Ruman- a temperamental old dog-- puffed his pipe and poked a stick at the dwindling fire which was cooking his breakfast.

“I mean c’mon, how long does it take for them to inform the Principle (I think this is the wrong form of the word, did you mean Principal? Also, going with the flow of the setting, would Headmaster or Director be more appropriate?) that we are here- I mean, we arrived at the gates, what, Almost six hours ago!” Peter complained angrily; wiping the sweat from his forehead. His brown eyes examined his older partner, awaiting his response. But his older partner said nothing and continued puffing away, occasionally shaking the pan frying at his feet.

Peter had noticed that Alt Ruman was a quiet and grumpy man during the hours of his waking, almost like a bear waking from a long hibernation, both had no intentions of fighting, but you wouldn’t want to take any chances either. Sniffing loudly and clearing his throat, the old Guardian returned his attention to his frying mushrooms. Peter wiped more sweat from his face, growing even more agitated at his partner’s lack of communication skills.

“I know I’ve said this before.” Peter ranted. “But what is this? I mean why even bother sending two Guardians to the middle of nowhere, chasing some girl who got taken by some pitiful bandits. Why, she is probably already lying dead in some ditch.” He paced frantically back and forth. Alt Ruman rolled his eyes and took a deep breath as he listened to his younger student rave about their latest assignment; his moaning had become even more incessant over the past week.
“Oh and that’s not even the best part.” Peter continued, shaking his head and smiling sarcastically. “A politician… A politician!” he waved his arms dramatically. “Telling a Guardian what to do, telling a Guardian to go and kill- which I might add is probably illegal.”

Alt tapped his pipe against the mossy log he was seated upon whilst watching his young student with as much interest as watching trees grow. He breathed deeply, the hot day causing him to sweat profusely. He felt uncomfortably hot, but to see his student finally explode provided him with some satisfaction. Alt had toyed with the idea of drowning his student in the muddy bogs between here and the Capital, the sinking holes would have provided an excellent hiding spot for the body too, though future generations would probably discover the preserved corpse and deduce from it, that our entire generation had the intelligence of a tree trunk and the physicality of a sloth Alt thought sourly.
“Save the(?) horses” he interrupted his student’s ranting, biting his pipe between his teeth and lighting the tobacco he had sprinkled into it.

“Without horses!” Peter cried incredulously waving his arms in the air hysterically. “Going this far to the border without any horses, unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable, and they knew it would take us weeks to get here!”

“Swamps-” Alt’s haggard voice interrupted him again as he threw another stick into the flames, adding more fuel to the fire.

“And the swamps” Peter’s voice had become serious. “I’ll remember those stinking, smelling...” He suddenly turned to Alt and looked at him; his youthful face filled with disgust. “You’re enjoying this aren’t you?” Peter noticed. “You’re a sick man. This is all a big joke to you.”

“Sit down boy.” The old Guardian said. “The heat is getting to you. Whenever this Principle or whoever comes to reckon with us, I don’t want you whining and bitching like a little girl who has lost her doll. The Capital may be far and I’m not content to be here either, but I won’t have you portraying us as a pack of idiotic clowns. You have a lot to learn boy, so when we enter those gates shut your mouth and keep your eyes and ears open.” Alt Ruman was a mean looking man; a scowl that would sour milk and eyes that would pierce through leather. Peter wasn’t going to argue with him, instead he plopped sulkily down onto a fallen tree trunk; its end look like it had been splintered, probably by a stray bolt of lightning in a fierce storm.

“Although hard to find- Neil Yona is one of the few honest politicians in the Capital. Yes, his requisition that we find his nieces and kill the man who murdered his brother has instigated this assignment, but it does not illegitimate our orders. The mission is sound.” Alt said; thin wisps of brown smoke drifted above the creases in his forehead and his bushy eyebrows. “You’re probably right; one of the girls is probably rolled up in a bag at the bottom of some lake, and maybe the scum who murdered their father have run away into the western wastes. But we will thoroughly investigate the task appointed to us.” Alt scowled, the heat was also starting to affect his mood.

“I’m going to scout around” Peter replied angrily and stormed off, leaving Alt puffing his pipe.

Alt watched the curly haired teenager charge around the pine trunks out of sight. A plume of smoke rushed from his dry lips as he sighed,
“The last student I take.” He mumbled, glancing at the brown jacket that his junior partner had left behind, a holster and gun dangled from one of its pockets. Alt sighed again and shook his head. Probably best that he forgot it, the kid’s skill with his pistols is reputable but he lets his emotions get the better of him.

The two of them had gone to sleep (or woken up? Why are they just heading to sleep in the morning?) earlier in the morning to a crisp, clear breeze. Now a white ball of fire radiated brightly against a cloudless, royal sky, scorching the immense pine forest that blanketed the landscape below it. The fresh morning had matured into an unnaturally hot day; heavy air hanging about the pine trunks was now still and stuffy and difficult to breathe in. Carran Forest was quiet, silence only occasionally interrupted by birds tweeting or a branch cracking from the heat. The two Guardians had slept most of the morning under a leafless, spiny bush; its thin arms tangled this way and that way, attempting to follow an arm from stem to tip proved impossible. A hundred meters away from their campsite; tall, grey walls emerged up over the forest roof protecting the town of Malrane. After traveling through most of the night Alt and Peter had approached the town gates before dawn, (This might belong before the first sentence of this paragraph as it makes more sense now as to why they'd fall asleep in the morning?) armed defenders had politely turned them away- telling them to wait near the town walls. Peter almost threw a temper tantrum Alt frowned. The young Guardian has the temperament of a bull.

Suggested paragraph change:

A hundred meters away from their campsite; tall, grey walls emerged up over the forest roof protecting the town of Malrane. After traveling through most of the night Alt and Peter had approached the town gates before dawn. Armed defenders had politely turned them away- telling them to wait near the town walls. Peter almost threw a temper tantrum Alt frowned. The young Guardian has the temperament of a bull. The two of them had gone to sleep earlier in the morning to a crisp, clear breeze. Now a white ball of fire radiated brightly against a cloudless, royal sky, scorching the immense pine forest that blanketed the landscape below it. The fresh morning had matured into an unnaturally hot day; heavy air hanging about the pine trunks was now still and stuffy and difficult to breathe in. Carran Forest was quiet, silence only occasionally interrupted by birds tweeting or a branch cracking from the heat. The two Guardians had slept most of the morning under a leafless, spiny bush; its thin arms tangled this way and that way, attempting to follow an arm from stem to tip proved impossible.

Alt groaned as he reached for his brown boots, he spit on them while polishing their muddy sides with the corner of his grey shirt. Carran Forest had not provided an easy journey for them or the bog lands for that matter; most of their clothes were filthy and creased from days of rain and wind. At least it’s hot; I’d rather cook in the sun than freeze in the rain he thought.

Alt spent most of his time thinking of his wife and children back in the Capital. They had begged him not to go into the country, with rumors rampant of religious fanatics and psychotic psychopaths (Redundant much? lol) ruling the towns and villages on the edges of the Nation, Alt could understand why. Usually Guardians were utilized in the Capital as chief investigators of serious crimes, acting judges or administration of justice and punishment. Rarely were they sent this far from the city, and Alt had never heard of a case where a Guardian had been sent to the outer edges of the empire. Crime was rampant along the rim, for there was nothing else beyond it, only skeletons and ruins of cities deserted in the chaotic years after the Third World War. The remaining survivors were plunged into a dark age.

Alt had been one of the few Guardians to leave the Capitol once before, though it was many years ago. The mission took him to a large town, within a week’s walk from the City and even then he had been on horseback- which had shortened the length of the journey considerably. He had pondered constantly since leaving the Capital about this unusual assignment, about whether the young girl lived, whether her mother or her older sister still lived. The case struck a chord within him, for Alt had two young girls of his own. God help any man who laid a hand upon them, he thought.

The silence in the forest was suddenly broken by the crackle of distant gunfire; it started with one or two shots but was soon answered. Within seconds hundreds of shots could be heard crackling in the distance. Towards the town gates Alt speculated. Peter came panting back into the camp, clumsily kicking over Alts frying mushrooms.

“Towards the gate” Peter puffed, his face flushed and filled with excitement. “I didn’t see anyone, I just ran here as soon as heard the gunfire.” (if Peter is out of breath, it might do well to shorten his sentences or make them cut off to give it more of the effect that he is out of breath)

Alt pulled his black coat around him and grabbed a long assault rifle propped against a tree trunk.

“Stay calm…And arm yourself for Christ sake.”

Peter snatched his jacket from the branch, blundering about with the pistol that fell from its pocket. He finally managed to pull it over his shoulders and affix the gun holster to his belt. Alt grabbed him firmly, dragging him towards the gun fire; he (Peter?) managed to grab his pistols just in time.

The two Guardians scampered warily through the sparsely scattered pine trunks, one of them occasionally dropping to his knee to scan around them while the other moved closer to the gunfire. They switched positions back and forth, one moving, one scouting, laboriously advancing towards the gun fight. Dry, brown bark and twigs crunched and snapped under their feet. The gunfire was now much closer but the crackling was becoming less frequent until eventually the symphony of combat subsided altogether, replaced by people shouting and cursing. Alt swiftly crouched behind a thick pine trunk, gingerly peeking around the bark; his eyes carefully examined the wide open space between the edge of the forest and the town gates. Peter hunkered down beside his older partner, room enough behind the trunk for two.

“What do you see?” he whispered to his mentor.

“The town gates are open.” Alt scanned the stretch of green space in front of them. “No dead from what I can see, the defenders are watching the trees around us and if you haven’t noticed we are swimming in shell casings.”

Peter looked at the ground, Alt was right- there was hundreds of thin, red shells littering the forest floor about them. How the hell did I miss them? Peter thought frustrated. The air about them smelled of sulfur.

“Watch your surroundings boy. Now what can you tell by looking at the casings?”

Peter plucked some of the casings scattered amongst the bark, he examined them closely. “Some of them are old and pale and haven’t been fired today; most of them seem more weathered than others.” He returned his gaze to Alt. “There has been combat here before today.”

“Good.” Alt turned back to him. “I speculate the town is under siege, the ground here is well-tread and by the look of their faces- the defenders at the gate are not surprised, they have grown accustomed to this.” Alt lowered his assault rifle and pointed to the edge of the tree line to their right. “The attackers have been shooting from all along the edge of the tree line, using the trees as cover. The keen eyed would notice that chips of bark have exploded from the side of the trees facing toward the town.” Peter turned his head towards the direction his gun was pointing. (What direction is that? and do you mean the direction of Alt's gun or Peters?) “The results of return fire from the defenders. Judging the distance and the wide scattering of bullet holes in the trees- the defenders are using close range weapons, unsuitable for this type of engagement.” Alt examined the tree line either side of them for a few moments and then looked back to his student. “Put your hands up and walk to the gates.” Alt told him calmly.

It was a few seconds before Peter realized what Alt was saying and he chuckled nervously if it were a bad joke.
“Walk out there boy, slowly, with your hands in the air, and get ready to run to the gate.” Alt ordered him again.
“Are you insane? If the people in the town don’t shoot me, the people in the trees will.”

“If the defenders shoot at you they will miss. (Why? I am confused, is it because of the type of guns they are using?) If the attackers shoot at you, it will be their last shot they ever fire. Your guns are useless in this scenario whilst mine are not. You will go first, I will follow after. Now go.” Alt said, shoving Peter out of the tress and into the open field. Peter raised his hands immediately into the air.

“Don’t shoot.” He wailed. “I surrender.” He hurriedly marched towards the startled defenders who looked at each other in puzzlement. They suddenly raised their weapons to him but they held their fire. Peter closed his eyes as he walked towards them, praying that one of them didn’t accidentally pull a trigger. Meanwhile Alt had rested his rifle against the side of the tree, scanning the tree line meticulously. Nothing moved in the forest, there was only silence.

Sweat poured from Peters face, some as a result of the heat. His hands shook and his face had become pale. Dead man walking comes to mind he thought when he was almost halfway between the tree line and the town gates. All it would take was one man, one shot, but that shot never came. Peter paced quickly through the gates and into the safety of the town, though the defenders still had their guns raised at him, ready to fire at a moment’s notice.

“I am a Guardian of the peace. My partner is still waiting in the forest.” He shouted loudly.

“Guard this.” A woman’s voice suddenly broke the silence, Pain surged at the side of his head and the village spun. His last sight was that of a cracked, tarmacked street coming up to meet him.

Alt watched the boy enter the gate under the watchful eyes of the defenders. “Now the hard part” he muttered as he lowered his rifle. There would be no one to watch his back as he ran to the town gates over open field. The forest was silent; the only thing he could hear was his heartbeat in his ears. Brushing his messy, grey hair from in front of his face, he prepared to step out from behind the tree to follow in his partner’s footsteps until he suddenly heard the distinct sound of a pistol safety being switched off. Alt glanced behind him into the barrel of a silver pistol aimed at his head.

Neath Lankly
May 12th, 2012, 09:57 AM
Thanks very much for the feedback. You have convinced me that there is nothing better than a second pair of eyes to examine grammar errors. I'm thrilled that you like the chapter.

Meego
May 12th, 2012, 08:01 PM
Yes, you have definitely grabbed my attention with your piece. I hope you continue to post your chapters. I hope that I am able to give helpful critiques? Grammar isn't my best subject but I'm decent at it. Did the other points help as well or would you rather leave it as is?

Neath Lankly
May 12th, 2012, 08:39 PM
No, like with my first chapter, I have edited it further to include most of your and Lonewolfs points. especially important parts to me, such as missing or clashing information such as Eva not letting go of Selene's hand at the end of the first chapter. I'm really not that fussy over grammar as I am definitely going to have to pay to have it proof read. Your critiques are really really helpful and I want to thank you for it. as I said, grammar doesn't particularly bother me, but my writing style, missing/ clashing info does- and only a second pair of eyes can do that, which I am really grateful to you for.

I'm getting on average, 700-1000 words written every day, and I am now almost finished chapter 9 (though initially i spend 80% of my time going over chapters again and again and again :)
I also go over them four or five times before i post them, and even then I know I will miss out on mistakes only a second pair of eyes will see.

I know most writers on this forum insist on rushing through the first draft and then start editing it once its finished, but to be honest, I don't think that would work for me, so I take my time- almost like the tortoise and the hare :)

The next chapter I post will be my last, or possibly my second last (i only want to post 10,000 words on the forums in total) but I would be more than happy to keep privately sending you chapters if you are interested as you really have been very helpful and i'd like to thank you again.

Meego
May 12th, 2012, 09:26 PM
Oh, I am really glad I am helpful! I really do like reading your work, I have found it especially interesting and to know that I can help you in some way in nice. I would be honored to continue helping you if you'd like to message me about the chapters when you no longer wish to post them.

I understand why you would re-write/re-read your works before posting, you want to feel comfortable with it before you post it. :) It's not a bad thing.

Shorty Dawkins
May 13th, 2012, 05:04 AM
You have done some mighty fine writing. Your imagery is good and your characterizations are excellent; not overdone. I can see Alt and Peter, for instance, in my mind just fine. I don't need careful description. Eva and Selene are imaged also, though not quite as strongly. I assume you will develop them more. The fact that we never learned about who grabbed Selene is good. It keeps us wondering. I agree with Meego, Neil could be a fascinating character, unless you have him sit in the background. That is up to you of course.

All in all, a very well done piece. It makes me want to see more.

Shorty Dawkins

Neath Lankly
May 13th, 2012, 11:17 AM
Thanks shorty, it's really encouraging to receive good feedback. Eva is developed much more in the next chapters, but her younger, kidnapped sister Selene is very much in the background.

As far as I feel about Neil Yona, unfortunately that is the very end we see of him. There are a couple of references of him in the next chapters but as far as i'm concerned, this interesting character has no more parts to play in the story. The reason why he sounds interesting is that I realized he would have such a little part and I also wanted to show the reader how unafraid I am of slipping in characters and then subsequently removing them entirely.
There are many more characters that we will come across, one with a personality not unlike Neil Yona, and the villain(s) do get introduced (In chapter 4) but not too excessively, (which i hope will leave a bit of mystery about them)

Neath Lankly
May 13th, 2012, 04:31 PM
Thanks guys for all your feedback, it's really appreciated. I will finally post my third chapter, and the beginning of my forth (which amounts to my first 10,000 words of my novel- including chapters 1+2)
I don't wish to post too much as I said I will post the first 10,000 words for feedback. I currently up to chapter 10 now- which amount to 27,000 words.
This is the first time I have gone so far, and I'm hoping that in 3 or 4 months, after much editing and revision (as well as getting it professionally proof read) I plan to possibly start contacting publishers. If I don't succeed then I will try the self-publishing route. What do you guys think?

If any of you are interested PM me and I will send you a few more chapters (up to chapter 10) over the coming weeks. Thanks again to everyone, especially Meego and Lonewolf for their great feedback.

_____

3

When Peter opened his eyes, the world seemed to shake and spin around him, as if an earthquake had opened underneath the bed he had been sleeping in. A waning candle flickered on the stool beside his bed; yellow wax dribbled onto a porcelain saucer, embellished with blue flowers and vines, the most distinct item in the room apart from Peter. The space around his bed was crammed with bits of broken furniture, dusty pots, broken mops, brushes and rakes and piles of useless junk that had been gathering dust for decades. It smelled old and stuffy and the bed sheets felt damp and uncomfortable. Grey cobwebs arched across the ceiling from wall to another, at first Peter thought it had been a design in the plaster until he realized that the grey strands were a maze of cobwebs.

He was afraid and confused and he attempted to rise from the moldy bed. Pain surged to the side of his head. He quickly pressed his hand firmly against it, as if the pain might be pushed out. Slouching back down, he was unable to resist the torment any longer. His eyes returned to the ceiling again and he desperately tried to remember what exactly had happened. The very last thing he could remember was standing in a wide open field, a towering grey wall to one side and soaring pine trees to the other. He remembered Alt- his mentor, pushing him out from the tree line but could not remember why. What had happened?

The only door into the room opened, its rusty hinges creaking loudly adding to the aching in the side of his head, he squeezed his eyes shut; the pain was agonizing. When he opened them again he blinked in surprise to see a beautiful girl with long brown hair standing above him. Her dark brown eyes examined him. They reminded him of autumn chestnuts; they were bright and glistening and beautiful, but they were also sad and their edges were tinged with red- he guessed from crying.

“I once visited a museum in the Capital.” Peter whispered to her, the room was still spinning and his head was still pounding. “They kept rare and precious treasures in glass cases. Gems and diamonds and jewels and they were every single color you could imagine, but none of them came close to being as beautiful as the brown jewels in your eyes.” He smiled at her, but she frowned back at him and she bent to whisper in his ear, her brown hair falling almost in Peter’s face.

“Does that work with many girls?” she asked him sullenly. “It might work with the girls in the Capital but here we tend to be less dense and prefer strong men rather than pretty boys.” her eyes moved down his body. Peter suddenly realized he was lying naked on the bed and his hands flashed down to cover himself. The girl watched him without any sign of emotion, her eyes displaying no signs of interest or satisfaction about his embarrassment. She almost seemed on the verge of tears.

“You are needed elsewhere.” A man’s stern voice interrupted the uncomfortable silence between them. Peter attempted to turn his head towards the door but his strength failed him, he sighed deeply when he realized that he was as weak as a kitten.

“So” the voice continued “You claim to be a Guardian?” the man’s voice was firm and crisp and sharp, but it was also full of friendliness and was soothing above all else. The man standing above him instantly reminded Peter of a powerful, green ocean smashing against a mountain of grey rocks. “My name is Thame Robins, and although you may already know it, you are in a town named Malrane. I am the Principle of this town.”

Peter ventured that Thame Robins must have been a handsome man in his youth and he hadn’t ventured wrong. The years had not eroded Thame Robins much; In fact, time seemed to have hammered his facial features into becoming more defined and stark. His cheeks were hollow- though not in such a way that you would describe as unhealthy, his nose was strong and wide, his brows, grey and bushy. Thame kept his beard well-trimmed, his grey hair- he kept short and well-washed. There was no hatred or malice within Thame Robin’s heart, he was good and kind, but like all men he was not perfect. He had lied, and robbed and committed many other acts that he would regret until his final breath, but that was between him and his God. Peter looked up at him from his bed as if looking upon a giant of a man.

“My partner…” Words had suddenly escaped Peter and he felt confused. It was as if fragments of his memory were flickering in and out of existence.

“We have not seen your partner” Thame said. “Only when both of you arrived at the gate before dawn. You arrived into Malrane on your own.” Thame told him, stroking the grey stubble on his chin.
“Then he must have been taken!” Peter exclaimed worriedly. He remembered Alt saying to him that he would be right behind him. What happened to Alt? Peter was most disturbed by this news. He had stayed at Alt’s side ever since leaving the Capital. What will I do now? Without his mentor, Peter would have to return to the Capital.

“If he has been taken then I am sorry to say he is most likely dead.” The Principle shook his head and pursed his lips. “The outlaws surrounding this town are without conscience.” His striking eyes watched him, as if trying to figure out a difficult puzzle. “I am not yet convinced that you are a Guardian, but you do not seem to be an outlaw either.”

“How did I?” Peter rubbed the side of his head; something did not feel right.

“Get the bang? Unfortunately you are the victim of one of my more rapacious sergeants. You must forgive her; Zara usually favors using the carrot. But when the right opportunity presents itself, combined with stress, she will more oft resort to the stick, or the butt of a rifle in your case.” Peter squirmed in the bed uncomfortably, his memory was slowly returning to him, or at least fragments of it. He recalled hearing the loud gunfight and approaching the town gates with his hands in the air, the hundreds of shells on the ground at the forests edge. It all came back to him in fragments, and not in order- which confused him profusely.

“There was a gunfight in the forest.” Peter remarked, memories still tumbling around in his mind.

“Outlaws are attacking the town.” Thame confirmed. “They have surrounded us. They attack daily but we usually drive them off after a while, or to be more exact, they get bored and leave us alone. Unfortunately you could not have arrived into Malrane at a worse time. We are under siege.”

Damn, Peter thought. Even if I wanted to, I cannot return now.

“Why haven’t you sent word to the Capital?” The throbbing in his head was growing abominably worse.

Thame Robins chuckled at him “And how will I do that? We are surrounded, they watch the entrances day and night and they patrol around our walls. I fear that even if a messenger did manage to escape unseen, it will still take two weeks to reach the Capital and who’s to say whether they will help us? This leads me to my next point. If you are indeed a Guardian, why are you so far from the Capital and what is your business in Malrane?”

“We were heading to a town called Vigill.” Peter whispered. Thame blinked and nodded upon hearing the name.

“I know of it.”

“We were sent to investigate the kidnapping of a little girl, her father was the Director of a small village called Gemhut Run, his name was…” Peter frowned trying to remember. “Gary…Gary Yona. We have also been sent to investigate his murder and bring those men responsible to justice.” At least he could remember that much. He had suddenly realized that Thame was not asking him question, more demanding answers from him and he started to think of whether he was a prisoner or a casualty.

“Why send Guardians? People are often murdered in these parts.”

“The man who sent us is a prominent politician in the Capital; the murdered Director was his brother, the captured girl is his niece.”

“Then I have much bad news and little good news for you.” Thame sighed. “Vigill had been attacked more than six weeks ago and it is now ruled by a tyrant and outlaw known as Jackal Jefferson, the same man who attacked Gemhut Run. I’m sad to say that Gary Yona’s wife is probably also dead.” Thame walked towards the door.

“You will be kept in this room until further notice, there are guards outside your door, and the girl will attend to whatever you need. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but I must consider Malrane’s safety above all else, goodbye for now.” He said closing the door behind him leaving Peter alone in the dark room.

Over the next few days Peter drifted in and out of sleep, the pain in his head gradually lessening. The girl with the chestnut eyes and pale skin returned often, but she said very little. She helped feed him and helped him drink water and clean and change his clothes. But she also saddened him, her lips rarely smiled and there were often times throughout the day when her face was red and her eyes full of tears. Peter wondered why the girl seemed so sad and tried everything to talk to her. When he asked her for her name, she shrugged and that was the closest thing Peter got for a response. She had begun to clean the cluttered room around him, taking away all of the junk that had been piling up in the corners for years and years. Eventually she discovered an exquisitely designed window hidden at the far end of the room, its wide circular pane of glass surrounded by dozens of much smaller but multicolored panes. Once all of the clutter had been cleared, it was much brighter and Peter’s spirit was lifted by the rays of sunshine beaming through the window.

Within a couple of days the room was unrecognizable. It had turned out to be surprisingly commodious; the mélange of useless junk had disguised its actual size and it had been transformed from a dank prison cell to a tidy bedroom. By the time that it was eventually cleaned and cleared of rubbish, Peter had fully recovered, able to walk without becoming too dizzy and the pain had become more bearable.
“I’m bored.” Peter said to her after a few days. “No one visits me and I haven’t talked to anyone within days, it’s lonely in this room.” Still the girl did not respond. “Why will you not talk to me? Why are you sad all the time?”

“I am not allowed to speak with you. And it is none of your business why I am sad.” she said defensively. Her eyes would not meet with his.
“Why aren’t you allowed?”

“Because you might be an outlaw, and I hate them.” She turned away from him, anger filling her voice and tears streaming down her face.
“But I am not an outlaw.” Peter said softly. “I am the opposite of an outlaw, but no one believes me. I am a Guardian of the peace.”
“I don’t care what you are” she cried, storming out of the room.

Peter took a deep breath and sighed loudly. What the hell is wrong with her? I didn’t do anything.

Peter spent many of the days thinking of home. Right now, his mother would probably be advising some politician, his father probably defending some criminal in court. Upon entering the Academy, Peter thought it was ironic that he would be catching and prosecuting criminals while his father would be defending them. Sometimes he wondered whether their paths would ever cross in their careers, he certainly hoped not. He had heard rumors that his father was one of the most experienced and highly regarded Barristers in the Capital.

He reminisced about the trouble he would get into with Billy Tote and James Kant- two of his closest friends at the Academy. I wonder what they would think if they saw me now. They are probably investigating murder scenes or guarding the president or sentencing some criminal, not stuck out in the middle of the countryside, imprisoned in a town that’s never heard of a Guardian before.
“I miss home” He whispered and he thought about the wearisome journey to Malrane. He especially missed Alt, even though the old dog would often infuriated Peter most of the time. He would know exactly what to do in this situation. I bet he wouldn’t let himself get hit over the head and imprisoned for days on end. He shuffled to the edge of his bed and slowly rose to his feet. With his head the way it was, the room would often start spinning if he rose too fast and sometimes everything would just turn dark as if he had suddenly gone blind. He would be forced to lie back down again before the world returned to normal.

He limped over to the circular window, the floor boards creaking under his weight at every step. Although the room had been cleaned and cleared of all the junk, the musty smell in the air could not be removed. The girl had left the window and door open to allow a breeze roll through the room for an entire day but it still stank of mold and dampness. I could just jump out, he mused as he considered the distance to the ground. And break my neck three floors below.

Peter wondered why the room had sat empty and unused for so many years; the window provided a fantastic view of the town. He could see people working in their gardens and casually walking the streets- as if there was nothing peculiar or uninteresting going on. If the Capital was ever sieged, there would be people screaming and looting and running everywhere Peter smirked at the prospect. He looked at the southeast gate from his window. He had heard scattered gunfire every day, usually in the mornings. The sentries outside his door had told him that it was normal, and to return to his room. Peter felt uneasy, and by the looks of it, so did the sentries.

A light breeze blew against his face, it felt cool and relaxing and it was a nice change from the musty air in the room.

“I’m sorry.” A voice whispered behind him. He turned to look at the pretty, brown haired girl looking at him, her chestnut eyes were sparkling and her face was red from crying. Peter hadn’t heard her enter the room.

“Sorry for what?” He asked her.

“Sorry for shouting at you.” Her voice trembled. “I don’t think you are a bad person. I believe you, even if no one else does.”

“Thanks.” Peter said, turning back to look outside. He heard the girl move to his side, and they both watched the people in the streets walk by. “What will happen if the outlaws enter Malrane?”

“They will execute the Defenders and the council and many of the men.” She said.

“How many outlaws are out there?”

“I don’t know.”

“Who leads them?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is there anything that you can tell me?” he sighed, almost about to give up. The girl paused for a second, before she turned back into the room.

“The town council doesn’t believe that you are a Guardian, they think that you are a spy or… something else. Those that have been to the Capital say that you are too young to be a Guardian.”

“Well that’s not very useful.” Peter remarked and sat back onto the bed running his fingers carefully through his curly, black hair, he cringed when he felt a swollen lump at the side of his head. “Then tell me what is your name?”

“Eva.”

Alarm bells were suddenly ringing in his head, the name was important. His memory was lax at the best of times, but Peter suspected the blow to his head had something to do with not remembering the name.

“I am from a village not far from here. It was attacked more than a month ago and I ran here.”

“What about your family?” Peter asked, but she did not answer, instead she turned back to look out the window, hiding her tears against the breeze.

Then Peter realized. Of course you idiot, that’s why she’s been so sad, her family was killed by the outlaws and that’s why she hates them.

“I’m sorry.” Peter said, “I never even realized.”

“It’s not that.” She whimpered. “They have my little sister.”

Peters mouth dropped when he realized why ‘Eva’s’ name was so important. Of course, his jaw dropped. Eva…Eva Yona, the eldest sister.

“We…We thought you were dead, or rather we presumed you were dead.”

“Huh?” Eva’s voice was muffled though her hands.

“Sorry.” Peter slowly stood up from the bed. “I- I mean, we were sent from the Capital, me and my partner to find your little sister, you are Eva Yona right? Your little sister is Selene.”

Eva turned to face him, tears gushing down her face.

“What?” she cried.

“Neil Yona, your uncle, sent us to rescue your little sister and find the men who murdered your father. That’s why I’m here.”

Eva’s face was filled with confusion and sadness, but for the first time in two days, Peter thought, for a moment, even for a millisecond, she had smiled.


4

Squirming and wriggling, Alt finally reached the tiny blade hidden at the back of his trousers; the ragged band of outlaws had performed the flimsiest search upon his capture two days ago. The ropes bounding his hands behind his back snapped as the sharp knife sliced through the last thread. He rubbed his wrists and stretched his arms in front of him; the ropes had been tight and uncomfortable. At least they managed to tie a decent knot, Alt thought.

Of course, if he had really wanted to escape the outlaws, he could have done so during the first night of his capture. However information took precedence over comfort, and for the past two days he had sat listening to the outlaws, gathering as much information as he could about their plans.

He discovered that he had been captured by a young, red haired outlaw named Chaney- a vicious, seething young man who had little regard for anyone else but himself. Chaney had been sent to harass the town on the orders of another more senior and mysterious brigand that went by the name of the Jackal. Alt hadn’t managed to find much more information about the Jackal, the other men in the camp spoke very little about him.

He quickly discovered why this Jackal character had sent Chaney to harass the town and its inhabitants. Chaney is certainly a touched man Alt concluded after spending a couple of hours in his company. Alt recalled the incident when he had been dragged into the camp. Two outlaws had started arguing over which one of them should get to keep his coat. Without warning, Chaney raised his pistol and shot them both, the coat was left on the ground over the past two days.

“If I hear anyone arguing over that bloody coat, they won’t be getting a quick death like these two idiots.” Chaney had roared at them, kicking the corpses furiously. The other outlaws in the camp avoided him as much as possible. Whenever their red headed leader was away from camp they referred to him Crazy Chaney and spoke often of how he murdered a number of men in Gemhut Run, for no apparent reason. Each night Chaney would skulk in a quiet corner in the camp, away from the rest of the men, muttering incomprehensibly, sitting for hours frowning into the fire, his eyes consumed with anger and hate.

“We will wait for the Jackal.” He would repeat to himself over and over while gazing at Alt. “The Jackal will know what to do. The Jackal always knows what to do.” One morning Chaney had completely lost control and ran over to the old Guardian kicking him and screaming at him wildly. “He’ll be here by tomorrow, oh yes he will, you’ll see.”

After a couple of days living as a prisoner under Chaney, Alt realized that this hot-headed, lunatic had been sent to cause as much destruction and devastation to Malrane as possible.
Alt had worriedly counted more than one hundred men in the camp. With that many Chaney could probably walk into Malrane whenever he pleased.

Alt had no plans to wait for The Jackal to arrive. He had learned as much as he needed to, even overhearing two men in the camp talking about Selene Yona- the young kidnapped girl, and how The Jackal had discovered her to be the niece of a politician in the Capital.

With both his hands now free, Alt sliced through the knots tying his feet together, as well as the ropes holding him against the tree.

____

note:
I don't personally feel I did very well with chapter 3. I found it difficult to write 3,000 words about a guy trapped in a room. The introduction of Thame and the initial interactions between Peter and Eva, I believe might have saved the chapter, and initially the chapter had a lot more dialogue in it (which I split and placed it into chapter 5). Anyway, only a new set of eyes can tell me whats wrong with it.

Below is a present for all of you who enjoyed and critiqued my work. It is something I made in photoshop when I had writers block, I hope you like it as i plan to use it as my cover. Thanks again

http://i844.photobucket.com/albums/ab10/thekiller2002us/BookCoverFinished.png

Meego
May 15th, 2012, 11:40 PM
I don't personally feel I did very well with chapter 3. I found it difficult to write 3,000 words about a guy trapped in a room. The introduction of Thame and the initial interactions between Peter and Eva, I believe might have saved the chapter, and initially the chapter had a lot more dialogue in it (which I split and placed it into chapter 5). Anyway, only a new set of eyes can tell me whats wrong with it.

Without the parts with Eva and Thame it wouldn't have been very good, you're right, but it's only because it would have just been "a guy stuck in a room". The writing itself wasn't bad it just would have gotten stale after a while. I had not seen the part coming where the girl was Eva so I think that was a great twist!!!


Below is a present for all of you who enjoyed and critiqued my work. It is something I made in photoshop when I had writers block, I hope you like it as i plan to use it as my cover. Thanks again
I like it tons! It will go in my signature!!! (Let me know if you'd prefer if you don't want that)

I liked this line the most:

yellow wax dribbled onto a porcelain saucer, embellished with blue flowers and vines, the most distinct item in the room apart from Peter

Characters:
I find the young girl interesting. She has both emotion and no emotion the way you portray her (seems like she has been crying and is about to cry yet she is unperturbed by Peter's nakedness and unmoved by his flirtation while chiding him for it) I wrote this not knowing it was Eva, great job!! I hope that you keep some of this within her personality. (maybe not necessarily the crying bit but the way in which she scolded Peter was awesome.)

“Does that work with many girls?” she asked him sullenly. “It might work with the girls in the Capital but here we tend to be less dense and prefer strong men rather than pretty boys.”

You really know how to set up tension and keep the reader guessing and hooked. You also seem very good at knowing when and how to put the "cliff-hanger" ending of your chapters. I can't wait for more!!!

Second part coming after this, with critiques within the story.

Meego
May 15th, 2012, 11:49 PM
3

When Peter opened his eyes, the world seemed to shake and spin around him, as if an earthquake had opened underneath the bed he had been sleeping in. A waning candle flickered on the stool beside his bed; yellow wax dribbled onto a porcelain saucer, embellished with blue flowers and vines, the most distinct item in the room apart from Peter. The space around his bed was crammed with bits of broken furniture, dusty pots, broken mops, brushes and rakes and piles of useless junk that had been gathering dust for decades. It smelled old and stuffy and the bed sheets felt damp and uncomfortable. Grey cobwebs arched across the ceiling from one? wall to another, at first Peter thought it had been a design in the plaster until he realized that the grey strands were a maze of cobwebs.

He was afraid and confused and he attempted to rise from the moldy bed. Pain surged to the side of his head. He quickly pressed his hand firmly against it, as if the pain might be pushed out. Slouching back down, he was unable to resist the torment any longer. His eyes returned to the ceiling again and he desperately tried to remember what exactly had happened. The very last thing he could remember was standing in a wide open field, a towering grey wall to one side and soaring pine trees to the other. He remembered Alt- his mentor, pushing him out from the tree line but could not remember why. What had happened?

The only door into the room opened, its rusty hinges creaking loudly adding to the aching in the side of his head, he squeezed his eyes shut; the pain was agonizing. When he opened them again he blinked in surprise to see a beautiful girl with long brown hair standing above him. Her dark brown eyes examined him. They reminded him of autumn chestnuts; they were bright and glistening and beautiful, but they were also sad and their edges were tinged with red- he guessed from crying.

“I once visited a museum in the Capital.” Peter whispered to her, the room was still spinning and his head was still pounding. “They kept rare and precious treasures in glass cases. Gems and diamonds and jewels and they were every single color you could imagine, but none of them came close to being as beautiful as the brown jewels in your eyes.” He smiled at her, but she frowned back at him and she bent to whisper in his ear, her brown hair falling almost in Peter’s face.

“Does that work with many girls?” she asked him sullenly. “It might work with the girls in the Capital but here we tend to be less dense and prefer strong men rather than pretty boys.” her eyes moved down his body. Peter suddenly realized he was lying naked on the bed and his hands flashed down to cover himself. The girl watched him without any sign of emotion, her eyes displaying no signs of interest or satisfaction about his embarrassment. She almost seemed on the verge of tears.

“You are needed elsewhere.” A man’s stern voice interrupted the uncomfortable silence between them. Peter attempted to turn his head towards the door but his strength failed him, he sighed deeply when he realized that he was as weak as a kitten.

“So” the voice continued “You claim to be a Guardian?” the man’s voice was firm and crisp and sharp, but it was also full of friendliness and was soothing above all else. The man standing above him instantly reminded Peter of a powerful, green ocean smashing against a mountain of grey rocks. “My name is Thame Robins, and although you may already know it, you are in a town named Malrane. I am the Principle of this town.”

Peter ventured that Thame Robins must have been a handsome man in his youth and he hadn’t ventured wrong. The years had not eroded Thame Robins much; in fact, time seemed to have hammered his facial features into becoming more defined and stark. His cheeks were hollow- though not in such a way that you would describe as unhealthy - his nose was strong and wide, his brows, grey and bushy. Thame kept his beard well-trimmed, his grey hair- he kept short and well-washed. There was no hatred or malice within Thame Robin’s heart, he was good and kind, but like all men he was not perfect. He had lied, and robbed and committed many other acts that he would regret until his final breath, but that was between him and his God. Peter looked up at him from his bed as if looking upon a giant of a man. (Would it be better to remove this last bit? It's a bit awkward and would suffice with just Giant. If you are not happy using just a common phrase, perhaps a different term would work, like, elephantine or gargantuan?)

“My partner…” Words had suddenly escaped Peter and he felt confused. It was as if fragments of his memory were flickering in and out of existence.

“We have not seen your partner” Thame said. “Only when both of you arrived at the gate before dawn. You arrived into (inside might be better?) Malrane on your own.” Thame told him, stroking the grey stubble on his chin.
“Then he must have been taken!” Peter exclaimed worriedly. He remembered Alt saying to him that he would be right behind him. What happened to Alt? Peter was most disturbed by this news. He had stayed at Alt’s side ever since leaving the Capital. What will I do now? Without his mentor, Peter would have to return to the Capital.

“If he has been taken then I am sorry to say he is most likely dead.” The Principle shook his head and pursed his lips. “The outlaws surrounding this town are without conscience.” His striking eyes watched him, as if trying to figure out a difficult puzzle. “I am not yet convinced that you are a Guardian, but you do not seem to be an outlaw either.”

“How did I...?” (It feel like this should be an incomplete thought but without the periods it feels rushed) Peter rubbed the side of his head; something did not feel right.

“Get the bang? (I'm not sure that I follow what you mean here, was that purposeful?) Unfortunately you are the victim of one of my more rapacious sergeants. You must forgive her; Zara usually favors using the carrot. But when the right opportunity presents itself, combined with stress, she will more oft resort to the stick, or the butt of a rifle in your case.” Peter squirmed in the bed uncomfortably, his memory was slowly returning to him, or at least fragments of it. He recalled hearing the loud gunfight and approaching the town gates with his hands in the air, the hundreds of shells on the ground at the forests edge. It all came back to him in fragments, and not in order- which confused him profusely.

“There was a gunfight in the forest.” Peter remarked, memories still tumbling around in his mind.

“Outlaws are attacking the town.” Thame confirmed. “They have surrounded us. They attack daily but we usually drive them off after a while, or to be more exact, they get bored and leave us alone. Unfortunately you could not have arrived into Malrane at a worse time. We are under siege.”

Damn, Peter thought. Even if I wanted to, I cannot return now.

“Why haven’t you sent word to the Capital?” The throbbing in his head was growing abominably worse.

Thame Robins chuckled at him “And how will I do that? We are surrounded, they watch the entrances day and night and they patrol around our walls. I fear that even if a messenger did manage to escape unseen, it will still take two weeks to reach the Capital and who’s to say whether they will help us? This leads me to my next point. If you are indeed a Guardian, why are you so far from the Capital and what is your business in Malrane?”

“We were heading to a town called Vigill.” Peter whispered. Thame blinked and nodded upon hearing the name.

“I know of it.”

“We were sent to investigate the kidnapping of a little girl, her father was the Director of a small village called Gemhut Run, his name was…” Peter frowned trying to remember. “Gary…Gary Yona. We have also been sent to investigate his murder and bring those men responsible to justice.” At least he could remember that much. He had suddenly realized that Thame was not asking him questions, more like demanding answers from him and he started to think of whether he was a prisoner or a casualty.

“Why send Guardians? People are often murdered in these parts.”

“The man who sent us is a prominent politician in the Capital; the murdered Director was his brother, the captured girl is his niece.”

“Then I have much bad news and little good news (you might be able to get away with taking out this second "news" as it will tighten up the sentence and have less repetition or maybe even a rewording like "Then I have much new for you and little of it good." or something.) for you.” Thame sighed. “Vigill had been attacked more than six weeks ago and it is now ruled by a tyrant and outlaw known as Jackal Jefferson, the same man who attacked Gemhut Run. I’m sad to say that Gary Yona’s wife is probably also dead.” Thame walked towards the door.

“You will be kept in this room until further notice, there are guards outside your door, and the girl will attend to whatever you need. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but I must consider Malrane’s safety above all else, goodbye for now.” He said closing the door behind him leaving Peter alone in the dark room.

Over the next few days Peter drifted in and out of sleep, the pain in his head gradually lessening. The girl with the chestnut eyes and pale skin returned often, but she said very little. She helped feed him and helped him drink water and clean and change his clothes (it feels like there are too many "and"s and "help"s in this sentence. Suggestion; She helped him with eating, drinking water, cleaning and changing his clothes. Or maybe, She helped him - eat, drink, clean and change clothes). But she also saddened him, her lips rarely smiled and there were often times throughout the day when her face was red and her eyes full of tears. Peter wondered why the girl seemed so sad and tried everything to talk to her. When he asked her for her name, she shrugged and that was the closest thing Peter got for a response. She had begun to clean the cluttered room around him, taking away all of the junk that had been piling up in the corners for years and years. Eventually she discovered an exquisitely designed window hidden at the far end of the room, its wide circular pane of glass surrounded by dozens of much smaller but multicolored panes. Once all of the clutter had been cleared, it was much brighter and Peter’s spirit was lifted by the rays of sunshine beaming through the window.

Within a couple of days the room was unrecognizable. It had turned out to be surprisingly commodious; the mélange of useless junk had disguised its actual size and it had been transformed from a dank prison cell to a tidy bedroom. By the time that it was eventually cleaned and cleared of rubbish, Peter had fully recovered, able to walk without becoming too dizzy and the pain had become more bearable.
“I’m bored.” Peter said to her after a few days. “No one visits me and I haven’t talked to anyone within several/many/etc? days, it’s lonely in this room.” Still the girl did not respond. “Why will you not talk to me? Why are you sad all the time?”

“I am not allowed to speak with you. And it is none of your business why I am sad.” she said defensively. Her eyes would not meet with his.
“Why aren’t you allowed?”

“Because you might be an outlaw, and I hate them.” She turned away from him, anger filling her voice and tears streaming down her face.
“But I am not an outlaw.” Peter said softly. “I am the opposite of an outlaw, but no one believes me. I am a Guardian of the peace.”
“I don’t care what you are” she cried, storming out of the room.

Peter took a deep breath and sighed loudly. What the hell is wrong with her? I didn’t do anything.

Peter spent many of the days thinking of home. Right now, his mother would probably be advising some politician, his father probably defending some criminal in court. Upon entering the Academy, Peter thought it was ironic that he would be catching and prosecuting criminals while his father would be defending them. Sometimes he wondered whether their paths would ever cross in their careers, he certainly hoped not. He had heard rumors that his father was one of the most experienced and highly regarded Barristers in the Capital.

He reminisced about the trouble he would get into with Billy Tote and James Kant- two of his closest friends at the Academy. I wonder what they would think if they saw me now. They are probably investigating murder scenes or guarding the president or sentencing some criminal, not stuck out in the middle of the countryside, imprisoned in a town that’s never heard of a Guardian before. (Just curious, do Guardians not carry anything around with them to prove who they are? How are they able to catch criminals, etc without something to prove that they are an authority? Like with police officers and badges/uniforms? I have a hard time understanding how they could have just a wide range of duties/responsibilities and not have proof of ID and that he wouldn't have this on him when being kept at this town. I also thought that they did know what a Guardian is but didn't understand why a Guardian would be at their town, or did I misunderstand that?)
“I miss home” He whispered and he thought about the wearisome journey to Malrane. He especially missed Alt, even though the old dog would often infuriated Peter most of the time. He would know exactly what to do in this situation. I bet he wouldn’t let himself get hit over the head and imprisoned for days on end. He shuffled to the edge of his bed and slowly rose to his feet. With his head the way it was, the room would often start spinning if he rose too fast and sometimes everything would just turn dark as if he had suddenly gone blind. He would be forced to lie back down again before the world returned to normal.

He limped over to the circular window, the floor boards creaking under his weight at every step. Although the room had been cleaned and cleared of all the junk, the musty smell in the air could not be removed. The girl had left the window and door open to allow a breeze to roll through the room for an entire day but it still stank of mold and dampness. I could just jump out, he mused as he considered the distance to the ground. And break my neck three floors below.

Peter wondered why the room had sat empty and unused for so many years; the window provided a fantastic view of the town. He could see people working in their gardens and casually walking the streets- as if there was nothing peculiar or uninteresting going on. If the Capital was ever under siege, there would be people screaming and looting and running everywhere Peter smirked at the prospect. He looked at the southeast gate from his window. He had heard scattered gunfire every day, usually in the mornings. The sentries outside his door had told him that it was normal, and to return to his room. Peter felt uneasy, and by the looks of it, so did the sentries.

A light breeze blew against his face, it felt cool and relaxing and it was a nice change from the musty air in the room.

“I’m sorry.” A voice whispered behind him. He turned to look at the pretty, brown haired girl looking (staring/gazing/glace to avoid repetition?) at him, her chestnut eyes were sparkling and her face was red from crying. Peter hadn’t heard her enter the room.

“Sorry for what?” He asked her.

“Sorry for shouting at you.” Her voice trembled. “I don’t think you are a bad person. I believe you, even if no one else does.”

“Thanks.” Peter said, turning back to look outside. He heard the girl move to his side, and they both watched the people in the streets walk by. “What will happen if the outlaws enter Malrane?”

“They will execute the Defenders, the council and many of the men.” She said.

“How many outlaws are out there?”

“I don’t know.”

“Who leads them?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is there anything that you can tell me?” he sighed, almost about to give up. The girl paused for a second, before she turned back into the room. (I thought she was already in the room because she moved next to Peter when he was by the window? Did she start to leave?)

“The town council doesn’t believe that you are a Guardian, they think that you are a spy or… something else. Those that have been to the Capital say that you are too young to be a Guardian.”

“Well that’s not very useful.” Peter remarked and sat back onto the bed running his fingers carefully through his curly, black hair. He cringed when he felt a swollen lump at the side of his head. “Then tell me what is your name?”

“Eva.”

Alarm bells were suddenly ringing in his head, the name was important. His memory was lax at the best of times, but Peter suspected the blow to his head had something to do with not remembering the name.

“I am from a village not far from here. It was attacked more than a month ago and I ran here.” (I found this confusing because I thought she was in the room when he was explaining his mission? I had to go back and I saw you wrote “You are needed elsewhere.” I had not realized that it was to Eva he was talking to or that she had even left the room. This might be solved if you say "Girl, you are needed elsewhere" or if sometime shortly after you mention that she left the room.)

“What about your family?” Peter asked, but she did not answer, instead she turned back to look out the window, hiding her tears against the breeze.

Then Peter realized. Of course you idiot, that’s why she’s been so sad, her family was killed by the outlaws and that’s why she hates them.

“I’m sorry.” Peter said, “I never even realized.”

“It’s not that.” She whimpered. “They have my little sister.”

Peters mouth dropped when he realized why ‘Eva’s’ name was so important. Of course, his jaw dropped.(That already happened) Eva…Eva Yona, the eldest sister.

“We…We thought you were dead, or rather we presumed you were dead.”

“Huh?” Eva’s voice was muffled though her hands.

“Sorry.” Peter slowly stood up from the bed. “I- I mean, we were sent from the Capital, me and my partner to find your little sister, you are Eva Yona right? Your little sister is Selene.”

Eva turned to face him, tears gushing down her face.

“What?” she cried.

“Neil Yona, your uncle, sent us to rescue your little sister and find the men who murdered your father. That’s why I’m here.”

Eva’s face was filled with confusion and sadness, but for the first time in two days, Peter thought, for a moment, even for a millisecond, she had smiled.


4

Squirming and wriggling, Alt finally reached the tiny blade hidden at the back of his trousers; the ragged band of outlaws had performed the flimsiest search upon his capture two days ago. The ropes bounding his hands behind his back snapped as the sharp knife sliced through the last thread. He rubbed his wrists and stretched his arms in front of him; the ropes had been tight and uncomfortable. At least they managed to tie a decent knot, Alt thought.

Of course, if he had really wanted to escape the outlaws, he could have done so during the first night of his capture. However, information took precedence over comfort, and for the past two days he had sat listening to the outlaws, gathering as much information as he could about their plans.

He discovered that he had been captured by a young, red haired outlaw named Chaney- a vicious, seething young man who had little regard for anyone else but himself. Chaney had been sent to harass the town on the orders of another more senior and mysterious brigand that went by the name of the Jackal. Alt hadn’t managed to find much more information about the Jackal, the other men in the camp spoke very little about him.

He quickly discovered why this Jackal character had sent Chaney to harass the town and its inhabitants; Chaney is certainly a touched man Alt concluded after spending a couple of hours in his company. Alt recalled the incident when he had been dragged into the camp. Two outlaws had started arguing over which one of them should get to keep his coat. Without warning, Chaney raised his pistol and shot them both, the coat was left on the ground over the past two days.

“If I hear anyone arguing over that bloody coat, they won’t be getting a quick death like these two idiots.” Chaney had roared at them, kicking the corpses furiously. The other outlaws in the camp avoided him as much as possible. Whenever their red headed leader was away from camp they referred to him as Crazy Chaney and spoke often of how he murdered a number of men in Gemhut Run, for no apparent reason. Each night Chaney would skulk in a quiet corner in the camp, away from the rest of the men, muttering incomprehensibly, sitting for hours frowning into the fire, his eyes consumed with anger and hate. (This is a very long sentence with many commas, is there a way to break this up a bit?)

“We will wait for the Jackal.” He would repeat to himself over and over while gazing at Alt. “The Jackal will know what to do. The Jackal always knows what to do.” One morning Chaney had completely lost control and ran over to the old Guardian kicking him and screaming at him wildly. “He’ll be here by tomorrow, oh yes he will, you’ll see.” (Alt was only their captive for 2 days right? Using phrases like "each night" and "one morning" give it the impression of much longer. Maybe you could replace it with "both nights" and "first/second morning"?)

After a couple of days living as a prisoner under Chaney, Alt realized that this hot-headed lunatic had been sent to cause as much destruction and devastation to Malrane as possible.
Alt had worriedly counted more than one hundred men in the camp. With that many, Chaney could probably walk into Malrane whenever he pleased.

Alt had no plans to wait for the (it wasn't capitalize in any of the other references) Jackal to arrive. He had learned as much as he needed to, even overhearing two men in the camp talking about Selene Yona- the young kidnapped girl, and how the Jackal had discovered her to be the niece of a politician in the Capital.

With both his hands now free, Alt sliced through the knots tying his feet together, as well as the ropes holding him against the tree.

____

Neath Lankly
May 16th, 2012, 12:33 AM
"Each night Chaney would skulk in a quiet corner in the camp, away from the rest of the men, muttering incomprehensibly, sitting for hours frowning into the fire, his eyes consumed with anger and hate"

Wow you are right, that sentence is ridiculous (and me after telling another guy in a separate thread to try to use shorter sentences:) )

Each night Chaney would skulk in a dark corner of the camp muttering to himself. He would stare into the flickering flames for hours. His eyes consumed with anger and hate.
___

I don't mind at all about the sig, it sounds great. Feel free to use it.

___

Concerning the Jackal. should I use The Jackal or the Jackal?

___

I'm not happy with chapter 3 at all- especially as it is within the first 10,000 words (I believe the first 10,000 are extremely important to hook the reader.) I think I will have to rewrite it, I know I can do better. I'm not afraid to throw out chapters, but chapter 3 and 5 I believe are my worst- incidentally these chapters are relation building between Eva, Peter and Thame (all central characters and extremely important.)

I think I need to focus more on Thame and Eva, their backgrounds and how they interact with Peter. I think this can only be done literally by sitting down and writing everything about their character: who they are, where they come from and how they will respond appropriately. Again thanks for your feedback, its been great and you have confirmed that Chapter 3 is mostly a bore, apart from the end :) I need something in the chapter to keep drawing the reader, i'm sure I will think of a solution.

Walt1093
May 16th, 2012, 01:08 AM
You did a pretty good job here. The dialog and characters are excellent, and so are your descriptions. However, the setting seems to be futuristic, and I had really hard time trying enter this world of yours. Don't get me wrong, its a very gripping story. But from a reader's perspective, I would like to know more about exactly where this is all occuring. THIS..... is all that is keeping you back in this manuscript. Just try to let the reader in on more info about the actual setting and how it relates to the real world. As for your writing style, its very polished and reminds me ALOT of Ted Dekker. A prelude and a detailed plot can solve your whole problem.


This is a sci fi piece from what I gather, and it is definately going to be more in the adult market. Teen-agers will like it just the same, trust me. The only teens that you're going to turn off are love-triangle obsessed girls who sit around dreaming about kissing their crush. I think this is a great piece of work, and its done very professionally. Good work!

Meego
May 16th, 2012, 01:17 AM
"Each night Chaney would skulk in a quiet corner in the camp, away from the rest of the men, muttering incomprehensibly, sitting for hours frowning into the fire, his eyes consumed with anger and hate"

Wow you are right, that sentence is ridiculous (and me after telling another guy in a separate thread to try to use shorter sentences:) )

Each night Chaney would skulk in a dark corner of the camp muttering to himself. He would stare into the flickering flames for hours. His eyes consumed with anger and hate.
That is much better! lol It happens though, especially since it's your work those kinds of things are hard to see.


I don't mind at all about the sig, it sounds great. Feel free to use it. Awesome, I will! I don't really use signatures but I'd love to stick it in there.



Concerning the Jackal. should I use The Jackal or the Jackal? Hmmm. If you want "The" to be part of his title and nickname, which you seem to be doing, I think "The" is more appropriate.



I'm not happy with chapter 3 at all- especially as it is within the first 10,000 words (I believe the first 10,000 are extremely important to hook the reader.) I think I will have to rewrite it, I know I can do better. I'm not afraid to throw out chapters, but chapter 3 and 5 I believe are my worst- incidentally these chapters are relation building between Eva, Peter and Thame (all central characters and extremely important.)

I think I need to focus more on Thame and Eva, their backgrounds and how they interact with Peter. I think this can only be done literally by sitting down and writing everything about their character: who they are, where they come from and how they will respond appropriately. Again thanks for your feedback, its been great and you have confirmed that Chapter 3 is mostly a bore, apart from the end :) I need something in the chapter to keep drawing the reader, i'm sure I will think of a solution.

If I have to compare Chapter 3 to Chapters 1, 2 and part of 4, then it's the weakest. There were some good parts, like I said, the initial interaction between Eva and Peter was pretty awesome. I also liked how I didn't see it coming that Eva was the girl at first. This let me view Eva in a new light and added some depth to her character (since the only part of her I saw before was the protective big sister). I hope that if you redo this chapter that those keep the same effect. (His pick-up line wasn't bad either lol)

I think a redo wouldn't be a bad idea since you say that those three are important characters. As far as Thame is concerned, he didn't stand out to me much. (Especially not against some of the other characters, including ones that won't play a major part like Neil Yona) This might not necessarily be bad for the moment as he has only had one scene and will have time to be developed later. The only thing that stuck out and intrigued me through his whole scene was the way you described his voice "the man’s voice was firm and crisp and sharp, but it was also full of friendliness and was soothing above all else." but that is about all for him.

For what Walt said, about the setting seeming futuristic, I had envisioned an alternate past or maybe even medieval time period. He brings up a good point though, what time period were you going for? And it can be a bit confusing with the different areas with different names but this wouldn't be the first book I have read to do this sort of "throwing you into world" kind of stuff. It forces the reader to be more active and concentrate on the locations that are mentioned. Yours isn't too bad because overall you don't have many locations and you introduce them slowly so that I have a better chance to get familiar with the name and its associations before you throw another one at me (which is extremely helpful).

Neath Lankly
May 16th, 2012, 01:26 AM
A prelude and a detailed plot can solve your whole problem.

I did have a prologue, and it contained some 'speeches" of famous people (in the future) to as how the world got this way. The speeches are currently in the scrap book, but i'm thinking of a prologue set a long time ago. The speeches may provide some insight into how the world got this way.

Yes you are right, it is science fiction, set in the future- but i'm trying to keep it as 'light' as possible on the whole futuristic flying cars idea. The story is basically an idea that i got from that famous quote 'I know not what weapons world war three will be fought with- but I know world war four will be fought with sticks and stones" basically the story is set sixty years after world war three and the world has entered a second dark age i.e no electric, no running water, no cars etc. Guardians are keepers of the peace in a crime ridden land, with the power to arrest and judge. the story explains the rest- but a clear context is lacking I understand.

below are the fictional quotes I had in my initial prologue (also in the scrap bin) maybe i'll do a prologue sixty years before the events of Selene Yona getting kidnapped, to exactly explain what the hell is going on :)


We will respond with ferocious tenacity. We will respond with tanks and planes and ships and guns and bombs- but all these machines of war are useless without the courage and bravery of this fine nations sons and daughters.
As a man born on this earth through whatever belief you may believe in, I refuse to respond or retaliate with nuclear weapons, I refuse to destroy this great blue globe.
- William D. Monroe.
47th President of the United States of America.



The greediness of men must allow for weight. A thief can only steal as much as he can carry. Before the Third Great War money had no weight, it had no physical volume or form. It existed in electronic dimensions. There was no limit to what a thief could carry- and carry they did. Trillions and trillions disappeared over the years and countries were left with no understanding to what they were owed by others. Greed was always the strongest seed for conflict.
-Balri Kaan Kronn,
Senior Economic Historian,
Stellenbosch University, South Africa.



At the end of the day, the internet saved us all. I know you are thinking that all nuclear facilities had their own private, military grade networks connected to their own independent satellites. What happened was genius. An extremely intelligent virus with unknown origins hid deep within every single system file on every single hard-drive across the globe. You ever plug in a USB stick? The virus spread, you connect the internet? The virus spread. The Virus was spreading through off lined Bluetooth modules for crying out loud! No damage or sign of any harm to any system. It was totally undetectable and total genius. You think the guy sitting beside the button twiddled his thumbs all day? Hell no- he was listening to music or watching movies on his laptop. When the time came to push that button…well that button didn’t work.
Leigh Jackman,
Australian Broadcasting Radio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Broadcasting_Corporation),
Melbourne, Australia.

the last quote is quite important (but also needs a tiny bit of editing) and will provide a reason as to why should I be telling this story about two Guardians visiting a secluded town (and what they discover that might have a large impact.) but whether i should include these quote- i'm still convinced that they belong in the bin. (maybe i'll put them in the notes at the end, but i don't know if anything like that has been done before, except maybe a *note on hobbits at the start of lord of the rings :)

Walt1093
May 16th, 2012, 01:40 AM
You can't go wrong with those. Great stuff for a Prologue, that makes things much more clearer to someone who just picks this story up. Trust me, they do NOT belong in the bin. Read the book "Robopacalypse" by Daniel H. Wilson, and you'll see that your prologue stuff is very similar. In my opinion, those qoutes are essential. But that's just my opinion as a reader.

Neath Lankly
May 16th, 2012, 01:41 AM
Hmmm. If you want "The" to be part of his title and nickname, which you seem to be doing, I think "The" is more appropriate.




Yes that sounds right to me- I just wasn't too sure.


For what Walt said, about the setting seeming futuristic, I had envisioned an alternate past or maybe even medieval time period
Its definitely set in the future, in our world, sixty years after the third world war- but as I said, the world has entered a second 'dark age' so I was hoping to give it that medieval, primitive type of feeling. The country is Ireland but all the names have changed. I personally feel that in history, sometimes place names do change with major conflicts. The third world war drastically changed everything and the years after were even more chaotic, so i changed names of everything. I don't know how i feel about adding maps, I'm not intending for my characters to travel too far :)

Neath Lankly
May 16th, 2012, 01:45 AM
Read the book "Robopacalypse" by Daniel H. Wilson.
I will- i'll also check out Ted Dekker as you said.

Someone suggested hemmingway, but after reading a couple of his books, I honestly cannot see the resemblance, but i felt very complimented none the less. :)

SamanthaMarie
May 16th, 2012, 01:49 AM
Vigill feasts while Gemhut Run starves.” Eva’s father had been one of three Directors of Gemhut Run but when the attack came three days ago. He had been shot in the head along with two others.
Eva and her sister sobbed for days after their stricken mother had told them of his death. His loss left pain and hatred burning inside of Eva that had still not gone.

It just struck me as odd that he was shot three days ago and then they sobbed for days... doesn't really make sense. Maybe make it two weeks ago? Other than that everything else was good. I felt like I was right there running with them, feeling anxious and scared. I can't wait for more! Oh and I agree about keeping Eva as the name, just sounds nicer than Gail. Plus, more chapters are better than less and it wouldn't be missed if they each had their own title.

Meego
May 16th, 2012, 12:50 PM
Its definitely set in the future, in our world, sixty years after the third world war- but as I said, the world has entered a second 'dark age' so I was hoping to give it that medieval, primitive type of feeling. The country is Ireland but all the names have changed. I personally feel that in history, sometimes place names do change with major conflicts. The third world war drastically changed everything and the years after were even more chaotic, so i changed names of everything. I don't know how i feel about adding maps, I'm not intending for my characters to travel too far :) I see. Well considering you were going for a dark age feeling you seemed to have done well considering what I was imagining. It wouldn't be hard with some of those quotes for the prologue to make me understand that it's in the future and there was a massive war. (I never assume a book always takes place in the future of when I am reading it. I always let it tell me if it's past, present, future which it why I got the impression before that it was in the past.)

Also, those quotes weren't so bad. I really liked the first 2 quotes, they really felt legitimate the way they were worded and set up.

I liked how your whole story came from the quote "I know not what weapons world war three will be fought with- but I know world war four will be fought with sticks and stones" You might even be able to use that quote in your prologue? I know you made up the others but would using a couple real, historical quotes work too? Might even give it a more realistic feel? (Not in replace of your own quotes obviously)

prulhiere36
May 21st, 2012, 05:48 PM
"I'd like some more please"