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Woodroam
May 26th, 2012, 09:09 PM
"Close the doors, you uninitiated" Orpheus

Welcome

The legend of the Cole children is so astonishing that anyone ever hearing it must say Karolyn and Michael Cole are the greatest heroes who ever breathed air or swam in the sea. But, who knows of their legend? Do you? Quite unlikely. No one, not even you, would have thought the Cole children capable of great deeds in the beginning. The kids at their schools thought they were rather strange, when they thought of them, and most others ignored them or didn’t even notice. They were just a couple of regular kids from the city. They lived in Berkeley, California, a small city across the bay from San Francisco. Michael went to a public high school, Karolyn to a catholic school. They lived in an ordinary brown house on Third Avenue, and weren’t really noticed by anybody when they walked down the street. At that time, Michael was small for his age and rather thin with dark hair and jade green eyes. He liked to play video games, particularly combat video games and he was rather good at them. Karolyn had red hair, the same green eyes, and was an inch taller than Michael. She liked to read and was good at Girl’s Track, especially the hurdles. No one would have guessed they were twins, or brother and sister for that matter, yet they were fraternal twins, born on the same day and of the same mother. There were some remarkable doings when they were born, extraordinary most would say, but I will leave that out for now and perhaps tell you later.

Now of course, after all they have done, having become famous, and well -- legendary, it is easy to see the clues that led to their greatness. Even before the Cole children were born, there were clues: The mysterious appearance of their mother was the first. Her name was Harmony, a name that she said fit the occasion, and indeed, it did. Yet that wasn’t her real name; she chose the name at the very moment that she first saw Sam, the Cole children’s father, when he was hanging upside down in that crevasse in the glacier on Mount Shasta. But don’t let me get ahead of the story without first introducing myself: Of course, you know my name from the title page or book jacket, but if not, if you skipped over that part in a hurry to find out what this book is about, then go back and look again. I want you to make a habit of careful reading. What I’m going to tell you in this book is not a made up tale, make-believe, or a fantasy. Though you probably found it in the fantasy section of some bookstore or library, this is a true story and it requires careful reading. You see, I am not really an author, a writer, or a fabricator of tales. I’m a translator. The story of the Cole children was copied and compiled from a number of sources, including their own journals and those of their father, the reed scrolls of rooks, the hoof-beaten clay tablets of a herd of unicorns, several eyewitness accounts, and hundreds of old tattered parchment books from the archives of Gaff himself. The story was gathered by me over the course of a number of years, some here and some there, many more years than I care to count, and has been very carefully transcribed.

I’m sure you are thinking that this is quite fanciful and a clever way to trick you into believing a story that can’t possibly be true, that unicorns don’t exist and that a rook, defined by the Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary as a common Old World gregarious bird (Corvus frugilegus) about the size and color of the American crow with the skin about the base of the bill becoming bare, scabrous, and whitish with age, do not, in your world, keep scrolls of any kind. You don’t have any idea who Gaff is, nor know why he has an archive of tattered books and when I explain that he is a dragon, the greatest creator dragon of all, the father of all dragons; you’re going to be even more convinced that this is all make-believe. However, I assure you that it is not. It is all real. It did happen. As you read on you will come to know this and it will make sense to you because so much of it explains everything else that has been a mystery and eluded explanation though you have always known in your heart that it is true.


In the Beginning, or in the Middle, and also near the Beginning of the End

Harmony walked softly, deliberately lowering each foot carefully to the worn wooden steps leading from the second floor to the foyer. She placed her bare feet in the spots she had learned would not creak to reveal her movement. She stepped over the seventh stair from the top as she knew it always creaked and groaned. It was perhaps the most obstinate board in the entire house. She paused at the bottom of the flight of stairs and listened. She could hear her new father-in-law Robert’s snore in the back bedroom. She heard the drip of the upstairs bathroom faucet. No sound came from her sister-in-law Genevieve’s room and she surmised Gen was sleeping soundly. She also knew her husband was asleep as she had left his bed just a moment before.

Carefully, she opened the back porch screen door, taking her time so the hinges wouldn’t squeak. She stepped out into the cool night, softly closing the door and breathed a quite sigh. No one in the house had heard. She looked around. The moon was almost full, rising over the treetops in the east, and its light made it easy to cross the farmyard to the barn. Still, she padded quietly, taking care with each step, trying not to disturb a grain of sand or turn a single pebble that might awaken the chickens and start them clucking. If they did, the whole house would awaken as Robert would come banging out, grumbling about being awaken, clutching his shotgun to ensure the fox wasn’t trying to steal the chickens again.

The farm yard was oddly quiet and she thought how strange it was that just eight hours before all of the wedding guests had departed. She had been married that same morning, right there inside the barn that she now approached like a thief sneaking through the night. In the glow of the rising moon the worn grooves of the barn boards glistened, making the front of that old barn look like it was coated with spun silver. Moving quickly to the corner she stepped into the shadows and looked back over her shoulder once more to make sure no lights had come on in the house. She continued along the side of the barn until reaching the back and rounded its corner. At first, she didn’t see him and wondered if he had left. Then he appeared from the shadows of the dark barn wood, as if stepping from the boards themselves, his form gathering from the wood’s weathered grain and the night’s cool shadows. He stood before her, dull blue cape resting lightly on his shoulders and high yellow boots with their tops turned down below the knees, a stout hardwood staff at his side. The bright moonlight made his hair appear like a crashing wave of silver cascading on the shore of his shoulders. The glow also shown in his eyes, lending them an even greater luminescence than their usual cast.

Harmony felt dread in her heart. An old man, a human, bent and grey, bowed toward her. “Lilith,” he whispered. She offered her hand and he gently took it in his, continuing his bow until his lips lightly touched her skin. “He doesn’t know? No one knows?” he inquired.

“I’ve done as you instructed, Olannon. No one knows. But I wish I could tell him.”

“It isn’t safe,” answered Olannon. “Difficult it is, but it must be to protect the children. Even now, the Vagabond has sent a pack of trackers into the northern mountains.”

“The passage, is it sealed?”

“It is sealed. From the other side the doorway will appear as a rough hewn wall of rock where miners quit following a vein of ore.”

“They’re safe then. The children can grow here. None will follow.”

“Nay, M’lady. He’ll send others, night creatures most likely, thought stealers, through the shadows of night to strangle them in their sleep. That’s why you must do all I’ve asked. They mustn’t know you.”

“But Sam, he’ll….” Harmony’s voice faltered and the words stuck in her throat. It seemed impossible to her that she could find the courage required to do what he was asking.

Olannon’s hand rose in a hushing gesture, his tone softening yet commanding. “He cannot know,” he whispered. “I know you think it cruel to him and the children, but think of what would happen. If they find him and read his memories of you, if you tell him the truth and he remembers it, all will be lost.”

Harmony nodded with resolve. She bit down on her lower lip to stay the pain that was burning deep inside. She resolved not to cry.

“Remember, no later than the first winter. They’ll be safe with Sam. After tonight, my power will cease. I will not even remember this night,” he said. “I will be as an old man, living in these woods, a recluse. It is the only way to keep them from reading my mind and discovering the secret.”

“Your power? You cast it away? How can you protect the children?’

Olannon lifted his eyes to meet hers. “It is without that power that they are safest. Still, if all goes as planned, I will assist them. The old man that I will be shall direct them onto the path and they will lead me back. Here, take this.” He reached into a pouch that hung from a belt beneath his cape and pulled from it a small object. Reaching out, he handed her a shiny stick of charcoal.

Harmony peered at glossy black stick resting in her palm. She looked questioningly into Olannon’s eyes.

“It will help her when the time comes. Remember, take nothing with you. If they find on your dress as much as the wing of a fly from here the children will be in danger.”

Abdul-fattah
May 26th, 2012, 11:53 PM
To me it reads like a children's story. Perhaps that's exactly what you're aiming for, in which case you might want to ask an admin to move the thread to that section?

stuffaboutstuff
May 27th, 2012, 01:31 AM
First of all, I'd like to say that this was overall good. The story is very mysterious, yielding many questions and few answers at this point, but revealing enough to pique the curiosity. Your writing style at the beginning was, in my opinion, rather reminiscent of that of CS Lewis, especially with your uses of second person. As a general rule, I don't really like the use of second person in a story, but I think your use was very effective in most places. As the first scene wore on, I think you could stand to tone down the use a bit, but it didn't detract from the story. I also liked your description of the scene in the moonlight, especially of the barn: they conjured a very vivid image in my mind's eye.
A suggestion I have is that perhaps when you first mention Gaff, you should give a slight indication of who he is. For example, you could say, "the great historian Gaff", or whatever he happens to be, just to introduce him a little better.
Ah, now to my grammar suggestions. You did really well with spelling and grammar; I just have three suggestions. First, early on, you say, "that unicorns do not exist and that a rook... do not keep scrolls." I think you just lost your subject in that really long description (or maybe accidentally left off an "s" when typing). Obviously, it should either be "rooks do not" or "a rook does not." Second, when you say "the glow also shown in his eyes," I think you mean "shone" there, as in "the light shone in his eyes" rather than "the light was displayed in his eyes," which would be the interpretation using your original spelling. Third and finally, when you say, "the doorway will appear as a rough hewn wall," it would be better to say either "a rough, hewn wall" or (this one sounds better, in my opinion) "a roughly hewn wall."
Overall, few mistakes, well-written and a good introduction to what sounds like a promising story.

Kyra
May 27th, 2012, 01:48 AM
As stuffaboutstuff said, it was a good introduction to a promising story. There were several punctuation errors, placing commas at the end of sentences instead of periods. On a personal note however, you need to space out the story more. It's harder for some people to read when all of the sentences are smushed together like that, it also discourages some readers from trying it out because of the massive wall of text they could literally get lost in. Perhaps lose their place in the story or accidentally reread a phrase because they got mixed up on where the next sentence was (Guilty.). Perhaps break it up each two paragraphs or so, at the least when characters begin talking.

Example: At first, she didn’t see him, and wondered if he had left. Then he appeared from the shadows of the dark barn wood, as if stepping from the boards themselves, his form gathering itself from the wood’s weathered grain and the night’s cool shadows. He stood before her, dull blue cape resting lightly on his shoulders and high yellow boots with their tops turned down below the knees, a stout hardwood staff at his side. The bright moonlight made his hair appear like a crashing wave of silver cascading on the shore of his shoulders. The glow also shown in his eyes, lending them an even greater luminescence than their usual cast. Harmony felt dread in her heart. An old man, a human, bent and grey, bowed toward her.

“Lilith,” he whispered. She offered her hand and he gently took it in his, continuing his bow until his lips lightly touched her skin. “He doesn’t know? No one knows?” he inquired.

“I’ve done as you instructed, Olannon. No one knows. But I wish I could tell him.”

“It isn’t safe,” answered Olannon. “Difficult it is, but it must be to protect the children. Even now, the Vagabond has sent a pack of trackers into the northern mountains.


I hope this helps, keep it up!

Elvenswordsman
May 27th, 2012, 04:37 AM
Okay, how about repost this with line breaks? I'll read it then. I was so excited to read this, and then saw that nothing is formatted.

Good luck

Drowzzy
May 27th, 2012, 11:15 AM
But, who knows of their legend? Do you? Quite unlikely. No one, not even you, would have thought the Cole children capable of great deeds in the beginning.


Bang! There comes the big turn off. Here you are preconceiving the reader's imagination as worse than your own. Nothing wrong with that since readers read a book to extend the boundaries of their imagination but saying this right on the reader's face will offend the reader big time and he or she may not even read any further. Apart from that and some formatting and grammatical errors, the chapter makes me hungry for the next one.

Woodroam
May 27th, 2012, 06:27 PM
Thank you. It is aimed toward young adult readers. The age range I hope to reach is twelve to twenty-one.

Woodroam
May 27th, 2012, 06:28 PM
Reposted. Thank you.

Woodroam
May 27th, 2012, 06:31 PM
Thank you. I can see what you're saying. I hope that most readers won't be insulted. The aim is to include them and emphasize how ordinary the kids seemed.

DragonWriter
December 18th, 2012, 03:03 AM
Especially for being aimed towards young adults, it was great! :) I'm fifteen and I really liked it! I sense a connection between this and Keys of a Dragon, especially when you mentioned Gaff :) After reading this chapter, I'm totally hungry for more! Thank goodness for me there IS more ;)

heir_of_isildur0
December 21st, 2012, 11:14 PM
I especially liked the opening! It vaguely reminded me of Tolkien's opening for the Hobbit. It's been awhile since I've seen a writer actually use this type of storytelling. Very impressed indeed.

Ariel
December 22nd, 2012, 12:02 AM
It might be that I don't like prologues but I think you can start the story with Harmony sneaking out to the barn. It puts us into the middle of the action and makes the fantasy take on the colors of the real world. Even better would be to alternate short stories of the mother's story in between chapters of her children's story. Maybe their journey mirrors her journey?

Anyway, this was well written and fun to read. I want to know what happens next!

AshtonHadsmith
December 29th, 2012, 02:08 AM
I agree with Heir. Very Tolkien-esque during the introduction. I like how the questionable narration draws the reader in, making them feel a part of the story outright. It does seem geared towards your tweenie to twenty-one age range so well done. The story is full of life and connected with me like I was holding Never Ending Story in one hand, ham and cheese in the other (I hate when the horse dies).

Cheers,

Mr. Hadsmith III :lone:

Elvenswordsman
December 29th, 2012, 09:55 AM
Sorry for the delayed response, I only just noticed the updated formatting. Next time, feel free to update me via Private Message.

I don't know how much of a critique you're looking for, but I think I'd like to give the full piece a go. My girlfriend is asleep beside me, so if I only respond to a part of it, you can expect the rest of the critique sometime later today or tomorrow.

Also, I'll be breaking the critique into parts. The first will be a critique of the vocabulary and grammar; the second will be my opinion on the story, the direction, and any edits I might make to this chapter.


The legend of the Cole children is so astonishing that anyone ever hearing it must say Karolyn and Michael Cole are the greatest heroes who ever breathed air or swam in the sea.
A problem exists in this first intro that should have been addressed. You misspelled Carolyn :P Just joking, gotta love auto-correct. The error lies in your use of "...anyone ever hearing it must say Karolyn..." as it is grammatically incorrect. It also gets straight to a point that, in my opinion, should be drawn out a bit longer.

"There is a legend exists in the land of Azmerith, one of two children who braved the world on their own and have become the greatest heroes of their time."

Something like this draws the reader in from the get-go, and not directly stating that it is the "Cole children" allows for a bit of suspense while the children are introduced. It will be inferred as the two characters become the focal point of the story.


But, who knows of their legend? Do you?
Firstly, the word "but" is an illegal word at the start of a sentence. Secondly, more of an opinion, I'm not sure how I feel about directly addressing the reader. Perhaps in the intro it IS okay, but I've always had a problem with it because it reminds the reader that "this is not irl (in real life)". I want my reader falling asleep worrying about the consequences of certain actions my characters have taken, not "Ah, it's just a book." Addressing them from the book is like addressing a TV audience from a show - under most circumstances it only stands to distance the audience from the emotions they are SUPPOSED to feel in regards to the piece, which is what keeps them reading. Certainly your choice, just a note.

Hmm... disappointingly I have just noticed this isn't the epic fantasy I had believed it was. I've given a couple pointers, but the content, (which, not meant offensively as I hold the series highly despite the poor showing of the films) which I regard as Narnia-esque (perhaps backwards?), is something that has never overly interested me. I like dream states, or stories that take place entirely in the main characters mind as a way to escape from things like abuse. They sat in their bedroom, and as their father and mother fought, when suddenly their room came to life.

I don't mean to take away from the piece, just take it as me simply bowing out of the reading.

There are some spelling mistakes, where perhaps auto-correct messed you up. You used "quite" instead of "quiet", but nothing overly complicated to find or fix. A simple read-through should alert you to them.

Keep up the good work, I see you've posted a lot of the story since this. Glad to see it's forming, and I hope it carries you forward to fame.

Cheers,
Elven

Circadian
December 30th, 2012, 09:17 PM
First of all, this story has definitely piqued my interest. It's left me with plenty of questions. Why are the children in danger? Who or what specifically is after them? Leaving a reader with questions like this is definitely a good way to make them want more.

Now, I did notice some sentences or phrases that could be reworded.


From the other side the doorway will appear as a rough hewn wall of rock where miners quit following a vein of ore.

That sentence just sounds confusing, maybe it could be reworded?


I’m sure you are thinking that this is quite fanciful and a clever way to trick you into believing a story that can’t possibly be true, that unicorns don’t exist and that a rook, defined by the Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary as a common Old World gregarious bird (Corvus frugilegus) about the size and color of the American crow with the skin about the base of the bill becoming bare, scabrous, and whitish with age, do not, in your world, keep scrolls of any kind.

That sentence can definitely be edited. I would recommend taking out the majority of that extensive dictionary definition. Perhaps, instead, you could simply say "that a rook is a common Old World bird that does not, in your world, keep scrolls of any kind."

I like the idea of the narration at the beginning. I may not read much of Tolkien, but to me it sort of reminds me of Lemony Snicket narrating A Series of Unfortunate Events. I imagine that as the story will go on, we will be seeing more of the narrator's voice peeking through now and then. But I also think that, especially in the first couple of paragraphs, there is simply too much information. An "info dump" as people call it. Yes, I understand that describing where they live and how they were rarely noticed sets up the story. But do we really need to know what schools they went to? What video games Michael played or that Karolyn was in Girl's Track? These are the kind of details that you can sneek into your story at some later point, rather than telling us right away in the very first paragraph.

Overall though, I think this story can turn into a very interesting book. So keep working on it and good luck.

~Circe