View Full Version : First Chapter of "Black Magic"

May 30th, 2014, 11:56 PM
This is the first chapter of a story I finally worked up the courage to write. It's a first draft, and I'll be revising it like crazy later. What I want to know is if you think the premise is interesting and, if possible, tips on how to improve my writing. Other critique is welcome, of course, but that's what's important to me. Also, this was copied and pasted, and the formatting went all screwy.

Chapter 1 - Miriel

Through a curtain of dark hair, Miriel watched her mother. Her mother glared back, down her nose, flipping her too-perfect blonde locks back.

“So, you didn’t do your work again, I’ll bet”, her mother scoffed. “I worked so hard to give you an education, and you just throw it away. I don’t know what the gods were thinking when they gave you magic.” Miriel had done her bookwork, but today, provoking her wonderful mommy’s temper would end up even worse than usual.

“I thought you looked up to Ephraim. You ought to follow his example, you know. If you actually tried, you might succeed at something, for once in your life.” Ephraim. She touched the corners of her mouth to make sure her smile was in place, then dabbed at the corners of her eyes with her sleeve. The old red shirt’s cuffs were already damp.

Her mother continued. “You’re pitiful. He doesn’t even know you exist.. What would a famous prodigy mage want with you? He’s probably got dozens of more attractive, smarter, better girls throwing themselves at him.”

Maybe she could cut breakfast short today. It wouldn’t hurt much.

“Oh, yes, isn’t he leaving today? To the battlefront?” The woman sneered. “He’ll come back a hero, having fought in countless battles, and you’ll still be here.”

Miriel’s books were all packed in her bag. The bag was leaning against her stiff wooden chair her fingernails were buried in, next to countless old scratches. She could leave now.
“A pitiful, lazy, useless-”

Her smile was going to slip if she stayed any longer. Something had to be done.

“-worthless, stupid, ugly-”

She shifted her weight to her legs. The chair wasn’t heavy…

“-excuse for a-”

Miriel swung the chair at her mother, eyes closed, and felt it make contact. A sickening crack echoed around one of two rooms in what could barely be called a house.
She touched the corners of her lips, eyes still closed. When she opened them, she didn’t notice the body of her mother lying on the cold floor, blood pooling around her head, much. The woman’s life was, after all, worth less than hers. Miriel ran over familiar reasoning. She had been despicable ever since Father left, lashing out at her own daughter because she shared some of his features: dark hair, thin features, green eyes; it was ridiculous. Mother had nothing to live for, other than making others’ lives miserable.

And Miriel had finally done it. Perhaps it would turn out to be a good day; after all, her plans for today, the day Ephraim was to leave, had given her courage to-

Wait. Her mother stirred, moaning softly. Miriel’s eyes narrowed, and she hefted the chair again. She brought it in an arc around her head. This time, the crack was softer, but it was more drawn out. The blonde hair was staining crimson. The body stopped moving.

Nobody was going to care, even if they looked inside the hovel. It was the slums.

Miriel’s smile became genuine, unusually, as she snatched her bag up from the floor. No sense in letting blood ruin her books.

The Magi’s Institution of the City of Iros Nalum was sending off the Magus Ephraim Regem with no little fanfare, Miriel noted. It made sense to celebrate the leaving of the youngest person to ever receive the title of Magus to fight the war. It was probably starting so early because it would take a ridiculous amount of time.

Surrounded by the blindingly bright walls of the castle, the courtyard, was covered in illusionary decorations and magic crystals to power the decorations. It was large enough to hold nearly a thousand people. An enormous carriage bedecked in precious metals and delicate artwork sat in the center, three crystals displayed where the horses would be on a normal one. Of course they couldn’t just use a temporary teleportation circle. They’d be lucky if nobody tried to rob them. But it really didn’t matter; they would be using a teleportation circle anyway.

A throng of students milled about in one area, annoyed to be confined while the rest of the guests, various nobility and other people of import (of which there were altogether far too many), could move as they pleased. Not that it stopped them from gossiping.

“I still can’t believe the Ephraim Regem went to this school-”

“-yeah, way too much fanfare-”

“-I mean, Great Eluminia, do you think he ever-”

“-comes that weird girl! You know, the one that’s always smiling creepy?”

The last comment was hushed, though Miriel still caught it. Nothing new. And nothing could dampen her spirits now that she was genuinely happy, still feeling giddy from earlier.
The first part of her plan had been successful. Nobody had noticed her entering the castle, and she’d exited before the inner wards activated for the day. She reached into her bag to check that the activation rune was still there. Her fingers closed on a slip of paper which hummed faintly. Good.

Suddenly, the crowd quieted. Miriel turned with the rest of the students.

The gates to the castle swung open, revealing a small party led by a young man in blue formal robes. He was tall, but not heavily built, with short brown hair and angled eyes. His face was on posters all over the city as well as in many textbooks. Light seemed to radiate from-

Several airheaded girls squealed, completely ruining the moment. Miriel would severely hurt them, she promised herself.

When she looked back, the Headmaster, a graying man with a short beard, was speaking to Ephraim.

“-have learned much at the Mage’s Institution”, he said. “We wish you the best on your travels, and pray that you will return safely.”

“Thank you”, said Ephraim. “I thank this school for all the knowledge it has given me. It will be of much use. I will sorely miss the fine teachers here, as well as my classmates, who have always been kind and helpful.”

The squealing again. Miriel’s teeth ground.

“I also pray to the gods that the kingdom of Valum will prevail, and finally end this war. The discrimination in Erel has gone on far too long, and they shall not force it on our kingdom as well. Perhaps I will be of use to our glorious army.”

It might have just been her, but Miriel thought his speech was a little too perfect, a little too rehearsed. All speeches seemed like such, yes, but he seemed different somehow. Nobody could be so polite to everyone, all the time, but Ephraim was. Who was he, truly?

Ephraim stepped away from the Headmaster to stand in front of the carriage. Someone in his party took his place, and began making a speech of his own. Miriel sighed. This would take a while.

An hour later, she revised her earlier thought. It wouldn’t take a while; it would take forever. Forever and a day. Her feet were sore, and Miriel wished the nobles would shut their mouths so she could activate her rune. When she did… the majority of them didn’t even have magic. It would be satisfying and hilarious.

One of the last important officials was starting her speech. Pushing the second part of her plan forward wouldn’t hurt much, and Miriel’s patience was wearing thin, which meant others would be complacent as well.

Her smile turned into a smirk. Miriel fingered the piece of paper with the rune as she conjured a personal shield, whispering the activation word.

June 1st, 2014, 06:35 PM
Hello mystic575 and thank you for sharing :)
I'm a big fan of magic and fantasy and stuff and reading through this left me wanting to read more in complete honesty. You told a lot about the world but not so much that people know what is actually going on, and that leaves us wanting more. We don't know much about this girl Mirial, we know sort of what she looks like which you described in a good way, one thing I think that would be good is to tell us her age, roughly or exact, I think that would help set the story a bit better so we can get more of a rough vision of her. She seems quite sociopathic which increases my curiosity towards the story. I think it's a bit short for a chapter and might better fit under the title of prologue but it is your story and I would not want to force my views upon you.

I like your writing style a lot though generally you wouldn't have a space between each sentence though that is completely up to the writer. I know it can be quite scary writing something and even showing others that something and waiting for a comment on it. I not long ago posted my prologue for my first WIP novel and I was so fearful of what people would think of it and I think a lot of people feel that way. But all is well of course :)

I like the brief introduction to the world and characters and I would love to see more :)

June 2nd, 2014, 02:38 AM
First off, I want to say that I did enjoy the piece overall. Though, to answer your question about the premise, I'm afraid I can't really. You've not really given us anything more than a peek into Miriel's life and I'm not entirely sure who she is from what you've put forth. We know facts about her background and that she'll apparently be in a war of some kind. So, unfortunately, the premise really isn't clear yet so I cannot answer that. You've done characterization and character motivation well, however.

I won't comment on grammar since I am ill qualified to do so. What I will comment on is that your world building might be a bit clearer. Describe the slums and how they differ from the Castle. Are there gates or walls separating those sections? How prevalent is magic in the day to day lives of people? These are just some examples I thought of while reading is all. It's not bad but it just feels like something that could be expanded on.

Still, the basic idea of a female soldier off to war following some big hero? Not bad. The question in the back of my mind is what kind of story are you looking to tell? Romance amid wars rarely end well, historically. So, what you've got so far is promising and I'll look forward to where you go with it.

June 2nd, 2014, 09:19 AM
Ephermeral_One says it quite well. A little more description of the world around Miriel would be nice. But maybe that's what you have planned in the next chapter.

June 2nd, 2014, 09:42 AM
Would love to have a go at this, but I'm half asleep.

Isn't a personal shield a ward in magic terms?

June 2nd, 2014, 10:43 AM
Would love to have a go at this, but I'm half asleep.

Isn't a personal shield a ward in magic terms?

I believe it is but I think mystic is referring it to wards as in the item used in video games that I guess act as security cameras in this case. Correct me if i'm wrong.

June 6th, 2014, 04:50 AM
This is relatively well written and enjoyable, but I really dislike how Miriel is jumping into a giant war in the very first chapter. It makes the story seem rushed, and I also feel there is a lack of character development for all of the characters, but mostly for Miriel. I mean, we really know nothing about her other than the fact that her mother is abusive and her father is absent. As a reader, I know even less about the world she lives in. You didn't in any way describe what her school is like or why her kingdom is off to war, other than some vague mention of discrimination.
Overall, I think the premise for the story is interesting, but it needs work on the aforementioned character development and world building. I think once you work on that, this could be a great story.
I really look forward to reading more of this and hope that you post more about it soon :)

June 7th, 2014, 11:46 PM
The idea of a murderous child is interesting. But be careful, you'll need to make sure the magic, war etc. aren't going to overshadow the issue of a horrific murder. As a plotline, it works up to a point. Perhaps you should consider taking the murder out completely. A mother-daughter conflict would make an interesting backdrop to your story. This can't happen if the mother is dead. Try working on the daughter's plans to murder her mother but only as a fantasy not a reality. The problem for me is that an underdeveloped character, the mother, has been killed off already where she could have provided a great deal of interest as a possible protagonist. Think Darth Vader in Star Wars kind of thing. Maybe the mother's body disappears and it turns out she didn't die at all or has been resurrected as a zombie by an enemy of Miriel's perhaps, maybe her brother, just a thought. Anyway I look forward to reading more of your work.

June 8th, 2014, 04:15 PM
Sorry if I came across as being a bit harsh last night. You've had the bottle to put up your work for general scrutiny. It's off to a good start, you'll learn to be really ruthless as you go on. If the conflict mum-daughter is based on a personal experience, possibly of a friend, then you have an advantage. It's really useful to write from what you know best, your own life and experiences. I enjoy fantasy but tend towards a more light hearted approach. Some guys do take their fantasy way too seriously but there's room for everybody's likes and dislikes.