View Full Version : The Life and Death of Skylar Parish: The Jericho Rose

April 15th, 2013, 02:24 AM
Welp, here we go, my fourth-and-a-halfth draft at the first book in my planned series, The Jericho Rose. Those of you who're fairly old might recognize the older version from last year, but I'm fairly confidant this is a nicely new and newly nice overhaul.

Anyways, I'm hoping for some heavy critique, I want this to be my fianl reboot before a completed draft. So, have at it you fork tongued blasphemers of literature critiquers.


Prologue - Nothing But the Rain (http://www.writingforums.com/fantasy-sci-fi-horror/138220-life-death-skylar-parish-jericho-rose.html#post1622326)

April 15th, 2013, 02:24 AM
Nothing But the Rain

Cold sheets of water and wind tumbled and churned across the highway, pounding mercilessly on the lonely figure that sprinted along the roadside. The boy's gasps for breath were drowned out by the storm, his cries of anger and frustration lost in the rain.

Suddenly, a grinding shriek cut through his ears, and the boy fell to the asphalt, hands clamped to his head. He screamed as the inhuman cry echoed and echoed and tore through his brain like a jagged knife.

Then, it faded, snuffed out like a candle in an airless room. For a moment, the boy crouched on the highway, wheezing, his breath weak puffs of fog that were washed away by the rain.

A hollow thump.

A missile of what appeared to be swirling mist crashed into him, tossing him across the road as though her were weightless. His vision whirling, his chest crying for reprieve, the boy tumbled into the ditch along the side of the road.

Mud and grass filled his vision, invading his mouth and his clothes like the earth was about to swallow him up. Digging his hands into the ground, the boy stumbled to his feet once more, and broke into a sloppy run across the mud.

Another hollow thump. This time, his anger chasing the numbness from his fingers, the boy turned in time and dispelled the unnatural mist with the flick of his hand. The missile rose, careening up and down and in wild zig-zags before fading away. Scrabbling at the incline of the grass, the boy dragged himself back onto the highway.

Hard, solid ground back under his feet, he continued to run. Almost as though his life depended on it. As he moved, the boy spared a fleeting backwards glance.

Still there. The immeasurable and unstoppable wall of fog was still there, still dogging his footsteps.

There was a light laugh. Too soft for either the fog or the boy to hear, even without the rain. High, high above predator and prey, hidden in the gray veils of rain, a shimmering, half faded figure, her body tinged with a blue glow eyed the boy with amusement. A giggle escaped her lips as the boy tripped over his own foot, falling out of the way of yet another blast of mist.

"You'll do perfectly."

Back on the highway, the boy gave another cry of fury and frustration, a hollow ache filling up his legs. Lead seemed to fill his body as his running slowed. But he couldn't stop. Not with that thing so close behind him. He gave the wall of fog another backwards glance. It seemed closer than before.

There was a violent crack, streams of electricity arced from the fog, and bore down on the boy with blinding speed. He raised his hands to cancel the incoming spell, but as he put his foot down, something slipped, and he toppled to the ground, lightning inches from his face.

Then, a snap, sharp and clear in the howling of the rain, and the lightning dissolved into dirty oil, splattering across the boy and the asphalt before being washed away. A rough force grappled at the boy's collar, and he was yanked to his feet.

"Weren't you supposed to be running?"

The boy jumped so sharply he nearly fell over again. He turned towards the voice, but there was no one on the highway but him.

"Over here!" The voice chirped.

The boy spun, just as the voice called from behind, "Or maybe over here?"

He turned, this time actually slipping and falling. There was a delighted, disembodied giggle as the boy pulled himself upright, eyes red with anger.

"Who are you!" It was more of a scream of frustration than an actual question.

"Ooh, the mist sure looks angry."

The boy blinked, before swiveling back to face the mist. His heart nearly leapt out his throat; in those few seconds of distraction, the wall of fog had grown horribly, claustrophobically close. The boy could almost see something stirring from behind the impassive whiteness.

Skidding on his feet, the boy sprinted off head first into the deluge. As he ran, the air next to him shimmered, and a ghostly figure appeared, doubled over in laughter.

The figure raised her head to look at him, revealing an impish looking teenager, probably around seventeen or eighteen, with short-cut brown hair stained with blond highlights and an elfish, heart-shaped face stained with laughter. "Looks like you're in a spot of trouble there."

The boy scowled, turning away from the faded blue figure and hurling a bold of vermillion into the fog. It vanished into the fog, as though the bolt of wild magic had been nothing more than a scrunched up paper ball.

The girl reclined in midair, saying in a sing-song voice, "I could give you a haaaand if you aaaask."

"Bite me." The boy said viciously. He shouted out an arcane command into the wind, looking around expectantly. Nothing responded but the rain.

"All I'm looking for is a please." The girl protested, eyes twinkling unpleasantly.

The boy looked over his shoulder, slowing his run as he chanted a Hex, bringing down a sour wind that cut through the storm and nipped and plucked at the edges of the fog. But after a second, the wall of mist swallowed up the Hex, and all vestiges of the spell were swept away.

Before the boy could so much as swear, he flinched and his feet stuttered to a halt; a bitter cold stung at his cheek as the ghost girl leaned in behind him, their faces brushing, her insubstantial form passing slightly into his own. She muttered maliciously into his ear, "Spells won't work anymore. None of your little summoning tricks are doing much good either, are they? You're completely drained, and there's nothing left to protect you from that thing in the fog."

She paused, as though chewing her words to see how they would taste. ". . . Except me."

The boy spun around to face her, and the ghostly figure danced backwards, laughing. "Too slow! Too slow and too weak! How are you going to fight that thing all on your lonesome?'

The boy glared at her, and his tongue locked. He wasn't sure if he was about to scream, or throw up. Staring past his-rain matted hair, the boy's eyes glanced past the girl and fixed on the encroaching fog.

"Help," he muttered.

The girl cupped a hand to her ear, "I'm sorry, what was that? You've got to speak up, what with the rain, and the screaming devil fog and all."

"I said 'help'," he growled. "Please, help me."

"Well, since you asked so nicely." Without even looking behind her, the girl clicked her fingers, and a sudden silence chased away the cacophony of the storm. There was a low clattering. Then, churning, glowing, clanking blue chains exploded out of the air. They cluttered and swarmed at the fog, some sticking to the surface, others sinking downward and illuminating a gigantic, misshapen silhouette beneath the blanket of fog. As they cut into the distorted figure beneath the whiteness, screams and shrieks, each louder than the last, began to split the silence like gunfire.

"But of course. . ." the girl drifted forward, sliding a single, frigid finger down the side of the boys face. ". . .You'll have to do me a favor in return. Or else . . ."

Before the boy could so much as speak, she slipped away, pointing a finger at the wall of mist. Several chains rose from the fog blanket and vanished, and the thing inside the fog doubled its struggles.

The boy gave a start, crying out a desperate, "Nivizate!"

"Idioooot. I told you, you've already gone and exhausted yourself. That Presence won't be paying as a visit anytime soon. Now," the girl planted her hands on her hips, staring at the boy appraisingly. "Are you going to help me or not?"

The boy glared at her, knuckles white with anger. "What do you want?"

The girl wagged a finger at him. "You've got to buy the product before I tell you the price."


A terrible howl rose up from the mist, like a crowd screaming in unison. Several more chains ripped away, like string trying to hold down a tiger. The remaining bonds rustled and groaned, giving off an ominous moaning as they were dragged across the asphalt.

Turning, his ice-hued eyes seeming to melt with pure anger, the boy managed to spit out, "Fine. I'll help."

The girl gave a wide, ear-to-ear grin. "Pleasure doing business with you."

April 20th, 2013, 04:35 PM
I'm going to take a stab at this later in the day - short for time right now. I've had my fork-ed tongue surgically removed before rejoining WF - though blaspheme is me specialty.

April 20th, 2013, 10:06 PM
All of these suggestions are in IHMO. Please feel free to disregard.

I had a problem with the use of churned here. My initial image was of a tidal wave that had surged forward onto the highway. I realize he's being pursued by a magical beast but I'm not sure that's the effect you are looking for.

Cold sheets of water and wind tumbled and churned across the highway,pounding mercilessly on the lonely figure that sprinted along the roadside.

I think that should be "he".

A missile of what appeared to be swirling mist crashed into him, tossing him across the road as though her were weightless

I believe the "hollow thump" is the noise that should be associated with the cast of these missiles of mist. Other than that, I'm having trouble visualizing what the hollow thump signifies.

A hollow thump.

Stained is an odd choice here.

...short-cut brown hair stained with blond highlights and an elfish,heart-shaped face stained with laughter.

I think this should be bolt.

The boy scowled, turning away from the faded blue figure and hurling a bold of vermillion into the fog.

I like this.

She paused, as though chewing her words to see how they would taste.". . . Except me."

There is some decent interaction between the girl and the boy, but I'm concerned about the relationship walking down some well-trodden paths. If they are both on the same learning curve in terms of magic, she appears to be too far ahead. If however, she's a magical creature that just appears seventeen, that's quite different. There were a few odd word choices. Be careful of cliches like "as though his life depended on it".

This has some good action and was on the whole a pretty good read.

Thanks for sharing.

April 21st, 2013, 10:26 AM
I figured the girl is a powerful being (perhaps a goddess?) but I liked that she came across as a little ambiguous in that she obviously needs him for something but is she good or bad, something that would obviously come clearer the more the story goes on. I think the first line gives the impression that he's being chased by water such as a tidal wave but then changes to fog which doesn't work for me. I liked the interaction between the two characters (the girl comes across very well) but as said above some of your word choices need a bit of work. I also found some of the sentances a bit "choppy" and I feel it would flow better if some were longer and/or joined together. Overall I liked it and would definately read whatever comes next.

April 23rd, 2013, 01:01 AM
Interesting story thus far, interested to see where it heads from here. I did get the impression that this girl is far more powerful than him, but obviously needs the boy's help for some reason or another - maybe because she's incorporeal? I agree with others, the two's interactions are pretty believable.

One thing that seemed to be superfluous is the amount of times the boy falls or almost falls. "boy fell to the asphalt," "boy tumbled into the ditch" "and he toppled to the ground" "The boy jumped so sharply he nearly fell over again", which all happens within the first half of the story. Some of them obviously need to stay, but it think you've made it pretty clear that he is having a hard time dodging this mist. It just falls into the old cliche where the hero falls and falls, and some how still manages to dodge the villain.

One line that stood out to me as I read , "High, high above predator and prey, hidden in the gray veils of rain, a shimmering, half faded figure, her body tinged with a blue glow eyed the boy with amusement."

And to be nitpicky, I think that if you left out the " Nice doing business with you" at the end, the girl grinning ear to ear is much more impactful than the dialogue that comes after it.Great read though I would be interested to see how their relationship evolves, and how she plans on using the boy.