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View Full Version : Ambrosia - Fantasy - Young Adult Crossover



Tigerbunny
September 6th, 2012, 06:20 PM
Hi guys! I welcome any and all comments or suggestions. Thanks!

Rising, Daena’s sister stepped gracefully off the large cushion in the center of the courtyard and padded to the grand entryway. She stopped at the marbled arch, though, as if unwilling to get any closer to Daena than was absolutely necessary.

The familiar – a monstrous stone Grotesque positioned just above Yasmina’s head -- guarded the opening and looked as if it might devour her as she stood poised beneath it. (CUT AND REMOVED). Yasmina had one guarding the entrance to her chambers as well, so she was not in the least disturbed by the granite monster hulking just above her – its eyes following her every move. Reaching up, Yasmina absently rested a slender hand on one of its massive talons and looked in on her sister.

Daena was resting on her own cushion, peering up at the primordial gods that adorned the ceiling above her. The colorful depictions of the ancient ones stared back at her, their blurred faces angry -- their posture nothing less than menacing and accusatory. Blinking back hot tears, Daena brought the disgruntled faces back into focus and grumbled in protest at their sullen dispositions.

“And, why are they allowed to exact vengeance, when I am not?” Daena already knew the answer, of course, but Yasmina answered her query anyway.


“For the thousandth time Daena, it’s because you’re Djinn and they’re Gods. It’s the way it’s always been and the way it will always be. It’s normal. You are not numbered and until father says otherwise, you will abide by his rules.”

“In my defense,” Daena said, “I would just like to point out that “normal” has never been a part of my upbringing.

“Oh Daena,” Yasmina scoffed, “don’t exaggerate. You’ve had a very normal upbringing. This is what…the third time now this has happened?” Yasmina crossed her arms in front of her, as if willing herself to step across the threshold. She did, but did not advance any further into Daena’s bed chambers, choosing instead to stay just inside the entryway and as close to the fresh air as possible.

“I am not exaggerating,” Daena sniffed.

Yasmina flipped a length of long, blonde hair to the back of her shoulder and sighed. “Besides, I know why father punished you,” she scolded, “so don’t bother to lie.” Yasmina’s full lips pressed into a grimace as she gave Daena the once-over. “You just never seem to learn, do you?”

From Daena’s up-side-down position, she could see the late afternoon sun shining brightly on her sister’s hair, casting every strand in golden, honey-orange hues. Shading her lavender eyes with the palm of her hand, Yasmina turned once more to look beyond the terrace at the panoramic view -- the setting sun a fantastic, one-of-a-kind prelude to the evening darkness. In just a few minutes, hundreds of oil lamps would ignite to light up the earth-bound city of lower Indraprastha below -- not that Daena would see any of it. She would, however, smell the myriad cook fires, each perfuming the air with their heavenly aromas as mortals sat down with family or friends to enjoy their evening meal. Laughing and joking amongst each other, not one of them would be aware unseen palaces floated just above their citadel – just as they had for centuries.

“Well yes,” Daena continued rolling forward onto her stomach, “father did punish me, but,” she quipped, “he could have easily added to my punishment for what I said to that pack hyenas at the festival. They all laughed at me,” she added, her once pleasant voice now a gravelly hitch. “He didn’t, though, which only means that somewhere deep down inside he must have agreed with me.”

“About what?” Yasmina dragged her eyes from the glorious sunset to look at Daena. Raising her arms above her head, she stretched lazily -- the large blood ruby studding Yasmina’s mid-section sending warm, fractured light to dance across walls and ceiling.

Daena swallowed and repeated what she’d said earlier. “That they really are a pack of flea-bitten camels.” At Yasmina’s shocked expression, Daena hesitated then sheepishly added, “I…I also accused Sura of being nothing less than, well…a dung beetle.”

Yasmina planted both hands on her hips and said, “Honestly, Daena, what were you thinking?” Adjusting her pearl-laced bodice, Yasmina pointed a long, slender finger in Daena’s direction. “You’re in no position to insult the gods,” she warned. “It was a good thing father was there to protect you. As for the Soma,” Yasmina sighed, “don’t you know what drinking it can do? It brings hallucinations and ecstasy. It’s for poets and warriors and gods,” she said raising a disapproving brow, “not for the likes of little djinna’s like you.”

Daena sighed, feeling contrite but frustrated at the same time. “I know. I know.”

“Besides,” Yasmina added, “you’re too young to bridge the gap between the mortal world and the gods. You could have been taken advantage of, forced to perform magical favors or…or worse. And if you had,” Yasmina said shaking her head solemnly, “father might well have been obliged to inflict an even worse punishment on you.” At this, Yasmina cocked her head to look at Daena curiously. “Although, given your present state,” she furthered, “I can’t imagine how that would be possible.”

“Well, the nectar looked alright to me.” Daena argued. “And, how was I supposed to know the silly drink was tainted with Sura’s magic? I mean, it was just sitting there -- ripe for the taking.”

“And you just couldn’t resist, could you?” Yasmina laughed. “You ought to have known better.”

“Don’t laugh!” Daena yelled. “If you laugh, I…I’ll only cry and, well, I don’t know what might happen if I get, well…wet.” Sensing Daena was correct in assuming any number of thingsmight make the magic worse, Yasmina stopped laughing, her brow furrowed with worry.

Daena knew Yasmina was right of course. Sura had been itching for retribution ever since she spilled wine all over Sura’s frock at the Tree Spirit Festival. And, of course, Sura knew that Daena wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation of the carefully placed Soma. Now she would be paying the price for the next three days until Sura’s spell wore off -- father’s punishment for trying to sneak a drop of the famous ambrosia at the feast when she thought no-one was looking.

Her father, the magnificent Mahrab, most supreme of all the Djinn of upper Indraprastha could easily have changed her back into her human form, but instead, chose to punish her by letting her stay the way she was -- a living Grotesque. But unlike the familiar just outside her chambers, Daena had no arms or legs, hands or feet – she was just a round, lumpy ball of heaven only knew what. “Honestly, Daena,” her father had said, “had you given me a millennium, I couldn’t have devised a better punishment. You’re a mischief-maker,” he’d admonished, glowering and wagging a finger at her. He sighed and pulled at the hair on his chin, suddenly looking much older and more tired than Daena had ever remembered seeing him. Considering him that way only made Daena look and feel even worse than she did already. She had willfully acted out and inadvertently caused him great embarrassment and sorrow. He had missed the best part of the feast because of her, too. “Oh, well,” he’d said throwing his hands up, “perhaps this will teach you a much needed lesson. At the very least,” he’d added before transporting her to back into her chambers in order she should contemplate her woe, “it might keep you out of trouble for the next few days.” It was not lost on Daena that the “next few days” constituted the remainder of the Djinn Festival. “Serves you right,” her father had said his voice and body leaving her to coalesce back into the ether, “for taking what does not belong to you.”

Daena, remembering his words, felt herself flush hot with fury -- a fury that, so far, she’d managed to keep locked up tight only to quickly squelch it. Like the tears, she knew any number of things could make matters worse. More than likely Sura’s magic harbored side spells that, once activated by emotion or outside stimuli, would only add to Daena’s torment. Tears might grow a tail, anger a forked tongue, and so on. Also, there was no sense in getting mad, she mused. After all, this little respite gave her three whole days in which to cook up a suitable form of vengeance that hopefully involved much suffering on Sura’s part. And it wasn’t as though she couldn’t exact revenge…it was more that she was forbidden to do so. No matter, as Daena would simply make it look like an accident. Looking up she saw Yasmina staring coolly at her, her lavender eyes now smoky amethyst quartz.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Yasmina said gravely, “and I don’t recommend it. Sura is a goddess -- an old goddess. And while she’s limited in her magic,” she added, “she still has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. You’re no match for her, Daena, so don’t even try it. Even I am no match for her.”

“Yes, you are.” Daena said, “You’re just being modest.” Yasmina swallowed her frustration and knew Yasmina was right, of course. Daena was no match for Sura one on one -- at least, not while she remained un-numbered. One day, though, Daena would be powerful enough in her own right to make Sura pay for today’s humiliation. She just needed a few hundred years in which to garner her strength and she’d be as strong as Yasmina was now.

Clearing her throat, Daena tried to change the subject. “The least you could do is to tell me what color I am.”

Yasmina giggled. “Do you really want to know?”

“No,” Daena said, hoping the sarcasm would not be lost on Yasmina. Daena knew she sounded waspish and mean, but, well, she just couldn’t help it given the condition she was in. Irritated at having to stare at the endless carpet, Daena tried to roll over onto her side and found it impossible. Without any arms or legs in which to gain momentum, she was unable to roll left or right. She could, however, roll forward and back. All she need do was drop the two large bumps that constituted her backside down sharply in order to, well…get the ball rolling so to speak.

Sighing, Yasmina relented and stepped into the room. She picked Daena’s hairbrush up off the pale-blue divan and, kneeling in front of her sister, reached a tentative arm out to gently rake the bristles through Daena’s fur. “You’re, well…you’re a sort of mottled lemon yellow and lime green,” Yasmina said trying to keep a straight face.

“Really?”


Giggling, Yasmina set the hair brush down by her side. “Really,” she said. Standing back up she eyed Daena carefully. “Do you want me to try and roll you over?”

Excited at the prospect at having something else to look at, Daena yelled, “Yes, please” and accidentally blew hot air out a blow hole somewhere near where her navel used to be.

“Eww,” Yasmina said. Taking a deep breath, she grasped Daena firmly by her fur and jerked at her until she rolled over. Straddling her mid-section, Yasmina leaned over to look Daena in her one, big, turquoise-colored eye. “By all the gods,” Yasmina said pinching her nose shut and making a face. “Don’t do that again. That is really, really disgusting!”

“Oh please,” Daena said, trying to make light of it. “It isn’t that bad.”

Yasmina narrowed her eyes and stepped back to give Daena a look of profound disgust. “Oh, yes it is!”

Jeko
September 6th, 2012, 08:42 PM
Hi Tigerbunny,

I'll do my usual thing of looking at the first few bits.


Rising, Daena’s sister stepped gracefully off the large cushion in the center of the courtyard and padded to the grand entryway leading into Daena’s chambers. Yasmina stopped at the large archway, though, as if unwilling to get any closer to her sister than was absolutely necessary.

Beginning with 'rising' is good. It makes the whole thing kick off with movement. Movement makes the reader interested.

Going on to enter 'Daena's sister' immediately is also very good, as the first thing a reader often looks for when reading is characters.

I found the rest of the sentence a bit difficult, though. It doesn't flow particaurly well. It might be due to its length or the syntax.

Rising, Daena’s sister stepped gracefully off the large cushion in the center of the courtyard and padded to the grand entryway leading into Daena’s chambers.

Could be cut down to:

Rising Daena’s sister stepped gracefully off the large cushion in the center of the courtyard.

And then the rest of the sentence comes after:

Rising, Daena’s sister stepped gracefully off the large cushion in the center of the courtyard. She padded to the grand entryway of Daena's chambers.

It reads a bit better split up, though there are many ways with which this can be done.

I stopped when I read 'Yasmina', realising only a moment later that you were talking about the same perosn. Or are you? I'm still not sure. I would replace it with 'she', or 'Daena's sister' with her name, or do some other sort of reorganisation of this so that the problem does not occur.

With a little work, I think you will have a very effective opening. I hope you continue to work on this, and that it gets better every tiem you do.

Cadence.

Tigerbunny
September 6th, 2012, 08:48 PM
Wow, thanks Cadence. I think you're absolutely right. It does read better the way you suggested it. Thanks again!

bazz cargo
September 6th, 2012, 09:47 PM
Hi TB,
I am ignoring the few typos. You might want to do a read through in a few weeks. It will stop your mind from filling in the blanks.

Neat characters. Interesting premise. Rather a long conversational piece as an introduction.The temptation in any story is to start with an information dump. This is fine when you are starting out and wish to put things down for yourself but it would help the pacing and give the reader more of a tease if you spread it out and sneak it in through dialogue or other ways.

There is enough here to tempt in to reading more.
Bazz

Tigerbunny
September 6th, 2012, 10:01 PM
Thanks bazz. Was wondering about whether or not it was too info dumpy. Thanks for the comments and suggestions and agree that three quarters of that second paragraph can go or be sprinkled in later. Also, cut and slashed even more sections (I'm brutal that way) and it reads so much better.

Thanks again!

- Tigerbunny