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Light
July 4th, 2013, 03:12 AM
This is cut from the middle of my work, but it should suffice as an excerpt. (Not too long I hope?)



The Vivid Darkly was the newest musical venue in Soluun. Leo considered himself lucky to have such a good view from its exclusive upper floor. Normally he’d be stuck with the less fortunate on the lower dance floor, but his new client offered to escort him to a better viewing of Verricci’s performance. Her name was Eova. She was seated beside him in a flamboyantly red three-piece suit. He wore the revealing scarlet robe she bought for him. His short black hair was slicked all the way back. By most women’s standards, Leo was a gorgeous man.
Verricci had yet to bring her presence to the stage so her band entertained the crowds in her absence with their assembly of strings and winds. He took a bored sip of his plain drink. Sadly, his client preferred that Leo abstain from liquor for the night. The distracting chemical had been Leo’s only hope. He would now have to publicly and soberly endure Eova’s amorous whisperings and lewd caress. However, it was all worth it to hear Verricci’ s sweet music, no matter how long he had to wait.

Until her arrival, the flashy details of his surroundings would have to keep him busy. The Darkly’s interior was elegantly constructed in the shape of a large octagon, themed as the twilight sky with paints from blue to purple to black. High in the ceiling was a big convertible disc that permitted the moonlight to shed light on the diamond-speckled walls, mimicking a starry atmosphere. The broad performing stage was set in front of the dance area, elevated to a height between the lower and upper level. Open only to those with sufficient favor, the sophisticated second floor was grandly decorated with classy tables, a miniature dance floor, and a lavish bar. Every male employee was covered head to toe in body makeup to match the walls of the venue, their skins hidden behind by a short black loincloth hanging at their waist.

Leo forced himself to go along with Eova’s offensive approach to romance. She was as rude, unattractive, and out of shape as she was immensely rich with favor. The brown hair that came from her pale head was full and long, but so was it on the rest of her body. Sometimes the job was more than he could bear. He couldn’t remember what it was like to go on a real date, to be taken out by what a real woman should be. Had he known what this nation was really like, he wouldn’t have come here looking for love.

“Get me another drink, Leo,” Eova ordered. “She knows you’re with me.”

“Of course,” he accepted. If he moved slowly this could provide him at least a three-minute break from the abhorrent female. He carefully got up from his seat, making sure he was still decent within his robe.

Women flooded him with their eyes as he went to the bar. On his way up he caught a glimpse of the red haired young lady in green that captured the interest of everyone on the floor when she entered. She looked around his age, but a classy woman like her would never settle for someone like him.

“What’ll it be?” asked the impatient bartender, watching as Leo sat upon a stool.

“Two mugs of Chiza,” he said to her with a sigh. Hopefully the strong tonic would impair Eova before she asked him back to her room. The bartender went away to fetch the drinks. Rather clumsily, a young man climbed on to the stole next to him.

“Do you know if they serve tea here?” he asked Leo. The boy had neat brown hair and a silky black formal suit of a style that was commonly seen on the many favored Shihuanan women. He was a definite contrast to the exposed men of the venue, including Leo himself.

“They should,” he answered.

“That’s great. I’m Ethio,” the boy introduced himself. His round eyes were innocently brown.

“I’m Leo. I-” The bartender slammed a drink on to the table and then turned her attention to Ethio.

“Did you want something?” she asked him.

“Ummm…no. I don’t,” he answered in disappointment, and the woman moved on to other customers.

“I thought you were going to order tea?”

Ethio shrugged. “I forgot that I’m not favored here…”

Leo laughed. “You’re not from around here, are you?”

“No. My master brought me here with him.”

“Your master? Whom do you serve?” Servants were common in this nation and they were mostly male.

“I don’t know if I should say… I’m a fighter. I’m supposed to talk to strangers and acquire some social skills.”

It sounded to Leo like an odd task for a fighter, but apprentices and their masters were also common in this nation. “Well, if you like, you can sit with us at my table. I’m with my… my wife.” He wondered what the boy would do once the woman pounced on him.

“Okay. As long as she won’t mind.” They got up together and started for Eova’s table.

“By the way,” said Leo,“ I love what you’re wearing. I’m glad at least some men out there still has some self respect.” Eova stared up at them as they came to the table and ignored the drink Leo placed before her. Ethio waited to be introduced before sitting down. “Eova, this is Ethio. I just met him at the bar. Ethio, this is Eova.”

“Nice to meet you,” said Ethio, taking a seat across from them.

“A pleasure to meet you,” said Eova while her wide eyes practically swallowed the young man. “Will he be staying with us the whole night, Leo?”

“No, I don’t think so,” said Leo. “He’s here with his master. Ethio’s a fighter.”

“A fighter? Aren’t you a little scrawny to be a fighter?” she asked. Ethio wasn’t a mountain of muscle, but he was certainly in good shape.

“It’s not size that always matters,” the boy replied.

“Well I’m sure you know how to use what you’ve got,” Eova retorted. She’d taken a liking to the young man as fast as Leo had expected. He knew she always went for the youngest she could find. “Would you like me to order you a drink? I could have Leo bring another Chiza.”

“No thank you,” Ethio said politely. “I don’t drink liquor.”

“I see… Leo, let’s leave early and go back to my room,” said Eova, sidling in closer to him. Already she wanted to leave and he didn’t even get one dance in. It was time for him to fight.

Leo placed a hand on her thick thigh and used his blue eyes to peer deep in to hers. “But Verricci has yet to play… and I think I always do my best once I’ve had a little taste of music.” He finished it off by draping a smooth bare leg across her lap and softly stroking her chin.

“I suppose we could stay for one song,” she decided.

He thanked her with a smile, and then remembered the young man present at their table. The boy tried to pretend that he didn’t have a horrified look on his face, but Leo caught it before he turned his head away. Ethio must have been from somewhere very very far away from here.

“So Ethio, are you planning on dancing with anyone?” Leo asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe,” he answered.

“You could always dance with me,” mentioned Eova. She attempted a flattering gesture with eyes, but from the look on Ethio’s face it must have failed.

“Actually…there’s someone I was thinking of asking,” he added, quickly motioning to a table somewhere behind him near the railing. “The girl in the green sitting with those women over there. She and I are…friends. We came here with our master. I’m not sure where he’s sitting though…”

From what he could tell of Ethio, the boy was as innocent as they come, but kind nonetheless. If anyone should go home with that beauty, it was he. “Why don’t you go and ask her now?” He got no response from the boy. “If you really like her, you should dance with her. Don’t you want to?”

“I can’t really dance…” Ethio admitted.

“That doesn’t matter. Trust me. Verricci has a way of guiding you with he melodies,” he explained.

“He’s right. I can’t dance at all, but her music somehow gets even me moving,” Eova added in. “You should go to her now. Women enjoy
when men come to them.”

For some reason Ethio looked suspiciously around the room. “You think I should?”

Both he and Eova nodded. “Absolutely,” finished Leo.

The young man got up from his chair. “Okay. I’ll do it,” declared Ethio. “Goodbye, Leo. Goodbye, Eova. Thank you for letting me sit at your table.”

“Goodbye,” the two said in unison. They watched the boy walk away toward his friend’s table.

“So…” started Eova. “Now that he’s gone… What do you say we move to a corner table for some privacy?”

“Anything you desire,” replied Leo. Within his mind he did a silent prayer for Verricci to come out and play. “Let me finish this drink first… You know I’m more fun after a mug of Chiza.” His flirtatious manner added weight to the suggestion.

“Good idea. Let us both.” Eova’s drink vanished seconds after the glass hit her lips, but she was forced to wait for Leo to finish his. He could only stall so long, and his silent prayers felt doomed the moment he sent them to the Divine. After letting the last of the foamy beverage run down his throat, he stood up and resigned himself to the long night ahead of him.

Suddenly the crowds on both floors erupted in to cheers and applause. The Divine must have been listening to his plea. “Verricci! It must be Verricci!” exclaimed Leo gleefully. “Let’s go dance!” With Verricci on stage, not even Eova would stay disappointed for long.


* * *


Only an hour had passed and Fairna already wanted to leave. So far the city had provided none of the excitement it was said to bring. She spent the last half of that long hour sitting at a table of Shihuanian women who did nothing but gawk at and make vulgar comments about every scarcely dressed man that walked by. There was nothing to be learned from this social experiment of Hazim’s. He must have merely wanted them out of his way. She couldn’t help but keep an eye on Ethio, hoping that he wouldn’t have any more luck than she would. The master might be somewhere nearby, but he would most likely fail to notice if she went over to talk to the lost looking boy.
Out of boredom she scooted her chair closer to the railing, leaning over for a better look at Verricci’s band. For now they played only with their collection of strings and soft winds, keeping the crowd hungry for the main attraction. Whenever Verricci stepped on to the stage, Fairna knew she would dash down to the dance floor and let loose. Hopefully the woman would play one of her enchanting solos backed by a powerful range of percussion, of which she was so famous.

Verricci played a crystalline flute the first time Fairna saw her perform. At that time she played the wooden flute for her school and was ecstatic to hear the musician’s spectacular melody, encouraging the young girl to improve her own skill with the instrument. Regrettably for young Fairna, her father came to visit her that same year, and whenever that happened, she and her mother had to relocate right after. The next school she attended offered no band classes. Since then, she consistently found herself hesitant to pick up another instrument.
For such a nice venue she was sure having a dull time. If she wanted to reflect on the past grievances of her life, she could have stayed home with her mother. She could take Shihuanian women’s advice and talk to one of the many guys who would occasionally pass by for a closer look at her dress, but she didn’t feel right about it. She really wanted to go and ask Ethio.

“Fairna? Are you okay?” asked Ethio, startling her from behind. She gasped and almost fell at her chair.

“What? Yes. I’m fine. Why do you ask?” she said as she collected herself.

“It’s just that you seemed to be off in another world. Are you having fun?”

She looked around the table at the women who had no shame in eyeing Ethio. “Not really. I’ve been waiting for…ummm…Verricci to come out.” Fairna felt so giddy that she couldn’t stop smiling. She couldn’t believe Ethio actually came over to her.

“Me too,” he said with a grin. “Look… I know the master wants us mixing only with strangers, but I though, maybe if we were sneaky, we could hang out together. Unless you don’t want to break his rule, then that’s fine…”

“Then I guess we’ll have to be strangers then.” She made a serious face as she stuck out her open hand to him. “I’m Fairna.”

The young man chuckled and covered her hand with his. “I’m Ethio… Do…” His lips continued to move, but the words were drowned out by a burst of applause from the entire hall. Everyone around them had risen from their chairs to look below.

“What did you say?” she loudly asked. He spoke again, but she couldn’t hear his voice. “What? Do I like your pants?”

He shook his head and tried again. “Do you want to dance?” he asked closer to her ear. It must have been on accident, but his cheek slightly grazed against hers as he pulled back. Her cheeks must have blushed as she nodded.

He helped her up by the hand and led her away from the table. Over the rail she was able to see Verricci coming to the stage.

“Settle down now,” Fairna heard Verricci speak in her raspy voice, waiting for the crowd to quiet. The musician had painted green hair under her hood and flowing black robe. Together she and Ethio walked down the private stairs to go to the main dance floor. “I hope I have not kept you all waiting for too long. As you most likely know, I am Verricci.” A smaller round of applause followed her words.

Against what Fairna expected, the dance area was almost entirely unoccupied. Most of the spectators stayed in their seats surrounding the floor, waiting for the music to start and for the venue’s male dancers to provide additional entertainment. She would have plenty of room to help Ethio ease himself out of his anxious shell. They stopped a good distance away from the stage, far enough so that they would have a good view of Verricci standing up front.

“Let yourselves be weaved together in a web of music,” said the band’s leader as she lifted her flute to her lips. Behind her speech, the drums began to lightly pound out a steady beat. “Tonight, hear the call of the Divine and answer her with your bodies. Listen to the Heaven’s Bellow.” Following her voice came the solemn sound of her flute, leading the brass horn and standing harp in to a somber tune, accented by the ring of steel chimes and the shake of a rattle.

“I don’t know what to do,” said Ethio as he watched the people around him begin to sinuously sway. Already, Verricci’s song had taken hold of them, and Fairna was starting to feel it as well.

“Just do what everyone else is doing,” she directed, lacing her fingers through his, hopeful that he would take the lead of her winding arms.

“Follow the rhythm with your feet and move your body to the melody. There’s not much to it right now.”

With a straight face he gingerly rocked side to side on his feet, paying too much mind to those who weren’t even watching him. There had to be some incentive she could give the young man to make him dance. One look at the nearby couples meshed together in dance gave her the idea she needed. The arousing music persisted and compelled her to deepen her devotion to the dance.

“You need to loosen up,” she advised. “Come here.” She let go of his hands and joined hers around his neck, bringing her body closer to his.

“Put your hands on my hips and move with me.”

“Okay.” Ethio did as she said with no sign of hesitation and followed her steps as best he could. He was able to handle a simple sway, and that was all he needed at the moment. Perhaps he finally gave himself up to the music.

“See? It’s not hard,” she commented, sharing a smile with him. She felt his hands loosen up and take a more comfortable hold around her.

Their graceful movements became more natural with the music. She relaxed her head against his shoulder, feeling at ease with their embrace. Verricci’s song held them romantically in its intoxicating grasp for what felt like a lifetime, but, like life, it was over too soon.

Fairna felt the change coming soon. The drums picked up the pace, forcing the other instruments to follow the accelerated tempo as it steadily increased. The hypnotizing flute flowed with the new rhythm, stringing together an elaborate series of notes while the music grew louder and louder. Ethio noticed it too. His feet failed to respond to the change of cadence. He stared at her, half in worry, looking for direction.

The musicians soon reached an exciting plateau where the heavy drums ran wild, and the leading flute trilled and scaled like the wind. It was somber no longer, but wild and upbeat. She took herself away from him and moved with eyes closed to the new pulse of sound, already a prisoner to the band’s harmony. Everyone else had responded to the song as well, waving their arms and bodies around like they were trapped in the musical tornado. Fairna really let herself cut loose, giving the young man a show of some of her best moves. Her body writhed with vigor. She shook her hips like the rattle on the stage, twisting her feet with her arms up in the air.

Eventually Ethio grew brave and joined her with a dance of his own, fluid and a little silly looking, but still fun. She couldn’t remember a time when she had more fun. It felt good to give in completely to the music, to let her limbs become to a slave to the will of the song. She smiled and matched up her moves to her partners, letting all her cares and worries float away to catch up with her later. Together they rode the song until it’s climactic ending and applauded the band’s excellent performance.

“Thank you! Thank you!” said Verricci over all the clapping. “Such a gracious crowd. Very deserving of another song, I think.” The crowd showed their appreciation even louder.

“I must have looked so stupid,” said Ethio, having to speak directly beside Fairna’s ear.

“No! You were fine. Are you ready for…for…”

Suddenly she could only hear herself. Her mind clouded and the edges of her vision went dark. She was no stranger to this disorientation, but still she toppled over. Luckily Ethio was there to catch her. She couldn’t tell if anyone in the crowd noticed.

“Are you okay?” he asked. “Do you need to sit down?”

She nodded weakly. The whole world was spinning for her. “Yes, I think so…” She tried to get up on her own, but had no success. Her body was to weak to resist as Ethio lifted her in to his arms. She remembered the short length of her dress. “Hey…”

“Don’t worry, no one can see anything,” he stated. “I’m taking you back to the hotel.” It was difficult for her to tell, but she believed that he was heading outside. A cold breeze brushed across her legs and she knew they had left the hall.

“I’m sorry if I ruined your night,” Fairna apologized.

“You must be kidding,” he retorted. “You were the only person that made this night fun. Well, maybe you and Verricci.” Her vision returned enough to see him smiling at her. She noticed that he was sitting on bench with her across his lap. “Did you want to sit down on your own?”

“I’ll try.”

He helped her slowly to her feet, but she immediately fell limp, again caught by her dance partner. “I think I’ll just hold you for a little longer.”

“What’s going on over here?” said a voice demanding an answer. She looked over to see a trio of female city guards in uniform approaching them, armed with long, sharp spears. Each of them looked like they could use her or Ethio as a spear.

“Nothing, officer. My friend is just a little sick,” answered Ethio as he settled her back on to his lap.

“Sick, huh? You don’t look like you’re from around here. What are you names?” another guard asked. Fairna’s vision and mind were now becoming distorted, leaving her struggling for consciousness.

“I’m…Leo,” she heard Ethio lie. “This is Eova.”

“This Leo is a quite the looker. Don’t you think so, ladies?” said the same guard. “And his friend seems to be in a pretty bad state. I say we take them in, for their safety. What do you think?” She heard the women speak their agreement.

“That’s okay, officer. We’ll be fine. I’ll just get her to our hotel room,” said Ethio. “Thank you for the offer, though.” He tried to get up but was pushed back down by the butt of a spear. “Listen, ladies. I know that you are protectors of the law and I mean no disrespect…but I would like to be on my way. I don’t want to fight you.”

The guards all laughed. “Fight? What’s a pretty little boy like you going to do to us?”

Apparently Ethio decided to answer her mockery with his power. She felt a small amount of her energy being taken, making it harder for her to stay conscious. The women must have felt it as well. “Hey boy! I don’t know what you’re trying to pull, but you’d better end it now!”

“This will all be over if you just let us go.”

No one spoke for a moment. Maybe the women were considering letting him go.

“Ethio! What’s going on out here? I felt your power…” asked Hazim from somewhere outside of her vision.

“Ethio? Your name is Ethio?” asked the confused guard. “You said your name was Leo!”

“Wasn’t Ethio the name of the kid we were told about?” asked one of the other guards.

“That’s right!” said the main guard. “Look kid, you’re coming with us whether you like it or not! If you really care about your friend, you’ll surrender.”

Ethio didn’t reply right away. “Master Hazim… Can you take Fairna back to the hotel? I don’t think I’ll be coming back tonight…”

“There has to be something we can do here, ladies,” said Hazim. “I talked with Gulmo, you’re boss, earlier today. You must know who I am.”

“I know who you are,” said the guard, “but this is above even her. The request came through from someone in the Imperial Merzano.”

Don’t worry, master,” said Ethio. “I’ll be fine.”

Fairna could do nothing to protest. More and more she drifted off in to unconsciousness. Her body was passed on, probably in to the master’s arms.

“I’ll figure out something, Ethio,” claimed Hazim. “We’ll get you out somehow.”

“Then I guess its goodbye for now, master. Goodnight, Fairna…”

And that was the end of her night.

Folcro
July 4th, 2013, 05:13 AM
I'm not sure how set you are with the voice of your work. Personally (as you might recall from my sample), I find it best to speak in the voice of the character--- make the reader feel that they are truly looking through Leo's eyes. This does not necessarily mean switching to first-person, but it would entail cutting lines like "Leo Considered himself lucky." No. He WAS lucky. Don't worry. No one will question it. Unless Leo has a history of arguing with himself.

He took a bored sip of his plain drink. If the drink is plain, I know he's bored.

Go back and consider your opening. You do a lot of things right--- that is, you know what you need to do. You are showing that Leo is unsatisfied with what surrounds him in this scene (and by implication, in his life). His only escape is the sight and sound of a woman who is taking her time to show. You're not far from the target, but I want you to show this to me a little more sharply. Give me facial expressions. Force his eyes longingly on the stage, keeping his sight away from the molestations of his trophy-consort.

Meditate on this. I'll have further comments to show in time.

A minor note (and you can do this by editing your original post): skip lines between paragraphs. Makes it easier to read. (Many members hate reading as it is). I guarantee you'll get some more responses.

Light
July 4th, 2013, 05:24 AM
I'm not sure how set you are with the voice of your work. Personally (as you might recall from my sample), I find it best to speak in the voice of the character--- make the reader feel that they are truly looking through Leo's eyes. This does not necessarily mean switching to first-person, but it would entail cutting lines like "Leo Considered himself lucky." No. He WAS lucky. Don't worry. No one will question it. Unless Leo has a history of arguing with himself.

He took a bored sip of his plain drink. If the drink is plain, I know he's bored.

Go back and consider your opening. You do a lot of things right--- that is, you know what you need to do. You are showing that Leo is unsatisfied with what surrounds him in this scene (and by implication, in his life). His only escape is the sight and sound of a woman who is taking her time to show. You're not far from the target, but I want you to show this to me a little more sharply. Give me facial expressions. Force his eyes longingly on the stage, keeping his sight away from the molestations of his trophy-consort.

Meditate on this. I'll have further comments to show in time.

A minor note (and you can do this by editing your original post): skip lines between paragraphs. Makes it easier to read. (Many members hate reading as it is). I guarantee you'll get some more responses.

Many thanks for your insights. Feels like these are exactly the things I'm looking for. I will edit as soon as possible!

NukeWithG
July 20th, 2013, 02:42 PM
Her name was Eova. She was seated beside him in a flamboyantly red three-piece suit. He wore the revealing scarlet robe she bought for him.
With this part it gets a bit confusing on how quickly it changes from describing her into describing him without too much of a notion. Otherwise pretty good.