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View Full Version : Machaiba, A story of life and adventures! ~2,700 words



AMiller
July 20th, 2014, 09:04 PM
Part 1
Machaiba and Tobais
Chapter 1
Arcos had never been the place to raise young children. It was a large village, deep in the out reaches of any village near it.

The houses were rickety structures that sang “Arconian Lullabies”, as they were named by the townspeople. The houses swayed, creaked, and whistled in the wind, all the noise created a chorus of the night. Most Arconians chose to build their humble homes out of wood, wooden nails, and rope. They thought metal would freeze and break under the pressure. Except for a gold pin above the doorway of every home. Gold is said to keep certain evil spirits away.

One resident claimed to scare off a Dullahan by waving his small gold pin at it. No one had ever seen a Dullahan. They are said to be headless horsemen who carry their head, eyes black as night and teeth gnashing, under their arm, and carry a whip made of a human spine in the other. They ride horses that are only composed of the front half of a horse. There are no back legs or tail. No barrier can hold a Dullahan, it will simply destroy anything in its path with ease.

Every night the cold would creep in and replace the total absence of the sun.

Pure blackness and quiet. Every citizen of Arcos ran home as the sun set in the sky. They knew if they stayed out, they would have to defend themselves against the elements and the dark magic that enslave the area.
Some creatures can be seen if you are out with a lamp, but since this is a daring task on its own, not many people have first-hand experiences with these creatures and live to talk about it. Most of the mythology of Arcos is spread by word of mouth, and is rarely seen or proven.

One small child, a boy, was born on the coldest night in the coldest month of one of the coldest years Arcos had ever seen. Out of the darkness of the night and the candle lit bedside of the mother delivering came this child. The only sounds were the harsh winds blowing, the mother catching her breath and sighing, and the son. The crying seemed to be heard for miles as the wind carried the wailing past the houses. Candles were lit to signify the awareness of new life.
It was an old Arcos tradition to light a candle in the window to acknowledge and indirectly congratulate the mother on her new arrival.
A mother and her child. Such a beautiful sight to behold. The caring mother looks upon the gift and lightly smiles. They're both exhausted. The midwife comes to take the baby to his bed so the mother can get well deserved rest.
Chapter 2
From the first day of life to years later, a mother will tell you those years go quickly. He did grow quickly. A healthy boy of ten. Both the mother and son wear the years. The mother begins to gray and her face shows lines of worry and lost sleep. The son is no taller than five feet. Pale as snow skin, dark brown hair, and a happy disposition. His face is adorned with normal sized, slightly pointed ears. He prefers not to talk. Most people in the village have seen him, but never heard him. Some would swear he was born without the ability to speak, others thought he was deaf.
From his early years, one thing held his mother's attention. His ears. They were pointed. No one else in the entire village, or, at least the people she had seen, had the same ears. The lobe was small and almost nonexistent. The top of the ear came to a sharp, unmistakable point. She usually kept a black strip of cloth around his head to cover them.
As the years went on into his teens, he drifted away from everyone. He didn't talk. He stayed in the attic.
His living space inside the top of this already small shack was cramped and unsteady. The high winds swayed the house and he could see the ground move beneath him from the small window in the side wall. It was his escape, this window. He wasn't allowed outside during the night, as was no one else, but he was also condemned to his attic during the day. Not by his mother, and not necessarily by his own reclusive mannerisms.
Many villagers tended to not go outside their own homes because of the paranoid people who roam the streets by day. Like many others, he had been the target of much prejudice because of a tale that spoke of those who harbored evil in their souls. These people had distinct characteristics such as sharp teeth, no eye color, or pointed ears.
Chapter 3
He went out when he had to. If he went out during the day, the neighbors who once held him and sang to him now looked with judgment in their eyes. Mostly just before dusk, when all others had gone home, but the spirits and creatures of the night had not come yet was when Arcos was his. This was risky for a boy of fourteen. Like most full grown men, he was helpless against the dark and what it hid.
He eventually grew accustomed to this and went on his walks or errands later and later. He equipped himself with only things he thought he would need, such as a wooden stake, chain to wrap around his boots so he wouldn't slip and fall on the ice and a book to record strange sounds or shadows. Perhaps even a glimpse of a monster. On occasion, he even went so far as to tempt one of these creatures by standing in the middle of the road and making loud noises, insulting the beasts in the ancient language of Pure Arconian, the language thought to be practiced by the monsters.
The language spoken by the villagers was New Arconian. It was more comprehensible and easy to learn. Pure Arconian was a language of pure skill and solid practice. Some could spend a lifetime learning the language and not master more than a single sentence. He was quite fluent in the ways of insults.
The people of the village thought more of him as a creature of the night when he would walk about the lonely cobblestone streets in an inky black cloak that reached his feet. He looked like Death, gliding above the ground with his face hidden. As he passed, candles would be lit to try to keep the supposed Grim Reaper at bay.
Even more dangerous than Arcos was the Korzha Forest. It surrounded the village on all sides with the exception of a few narrow passage ways on all sides. The tall, swaying Evergreen trees peaked at about twenty five feet high, bright green and dusted with powdery white snow. These trees provided most of the color in the landscape, and the brothers and sisters of those trees build the homes. The Korzha Forest blocked most of the view of the surrounding area. The villagers were weary to use them because those paths are said to be how the monsters get in, and no one, no matter how brave, would dare chance a run in with a Dullahan or another monster.
Not the son. He wanted… no… needed to find one. He had to see it. Many nights he spent by candle light reading about it and drawing what he thought it would look like. This was his mission.
Chapter 4
On his sixteenth birthday, he was considered in Arcos a man. A tradition of Arcos was that when a boy becomes a man, he may choose to name himself, or have a parent name him. From birth to age sixteen they are given temporary names, given by the father. The son had no father, or none he knew, so his name remained “son” until the day of his sixteenth birthday.
He spent all day in his small room in the attic to think about his name. What people will know him as for the rest of his life. It was late in the day when he came down the ladder to see his mother, and he named himself Machaiba.
He named himself this after a certain type of spirit named "Chaiba" that lives in Arcos. It is a slender, black figure that follows people and hides inside their shadows as they turn to see what was pursuing them. They have no teeth or mouths, but they have white, pearl-like eyes.
These creatures reminded him of himself on those cold, lonely nights when he stuck to the shadows.
This night, like most others, was cold and windy. Machaiba looked out the window of his room and saw something... strange. It must have been well into the early morning. The soft glow of the enormous, white moon illuminated every rooftop and snow covered tree. The candle at his side blew out.
As did the one on a box on the other side of the room.
The window froze over and the frost was almost impossible to see through. Machaiba breathed on the window and scraped away on the glass. Out of the tiny gap of ice in the window, he saw small, almost invisible beams of red gliding from one side of the forest to the other. The red spots left trails of color as they went.
As quickly as he could, he pulled his black coat off his rack and his book from the shelf. He lit a candle and raced down the ladder. The door almost flew off the hinges as he grabbed it and flung it open. The candle casted an eerie glow on everything. He saw nothing.
The wind sharply picked up and blew out the candle, just like the ones in his room. The red dots flowed smoothly all around him at all distances. They danced around him and went away, came back and left again. The sounds of horses coming and going could be heard softly in the air.
The wind knocked him over and he dropped his book and the candle. He grabbed his book and crawled on his hands and knees toward the door. As soon as he had the strength he leaped to the doorway and fumbled for the handle. He twisted it and turned it and eventually fell inside the house. The door shut with a loud slam once he was safely inside.
It was quiet. He sat in the middle of the floor, propped up with his hands. Heavy breathing filled the room. He pulled off his coat, folded it, and dropped it in his lap. Had he just interrupted the passing of a Dullahan? Had he finally seen, or at least partly seen, a mythical creature?
One more look.
He opened the door.
Nothing. No sound or red light or anything.
Chapter 5
He stayed up all that night and just sat in the floor, thinking about what he had experienced. He had to see it again. All that day was spent preparing. Remembering that Dullahans can be stopped with gold, he found the only gold in the house. The gold nail above the front door. Without his mother seeing him, he pulled it out of the wall. Melting it was the hard part. He had to wait over a fire for quite some time, and even then it wasn't completely malleable. He took tongs and a mallet and hammered the small hunk of glowing metal over the sharp end of a stake.
He found a crossbow that was broken on the side of the road. After it thawed out he fixed the bow and the trigger. He would observe until he felt threatened, or if the elements turn against him, he could try and take a Dullahan with him.
Dusk couldn't come soon enough. He lit all the candles he had, so when they went out he would know they were close. As he laid near his window he had only his thoughts to entertain him. The primary thought was why the Dullahans were showing up now? Up till now he had only heard of them from the local storyteller. Why is it now that they decide to come? And in such large numbers. He had to stay focused. Who knows how many times this will happen.
The night finally came.
The wind slowly but surely picked up. Trees danced in the wind and the houses were in full chorus with Arconian Lullabies. Snow fell and blanketed the ground. He could hear the sound of a heart beating. His heart, about to burst with anticipation. Wait, more beating. Rhythmic thumps filled his ears and suddenly there was no room in his ears for any other sounds.
The thumps turned into gallops. Thunderous gallops. The candles all went out and Machaiba's heart jumped into his neck. He grabbed his black coat and crossbow, loaded it and jumped down from his room onto the main room's floor. He hardly made a sound. It was louder now, the galloping. He opened the door and almost fell into the snow. He trekked into the middle of the road and looked on. Inky blackness surrounded him. Snowflakes flew into his face and impaired his vision. Two dots of neon red shot passed him into some trees. Another set flew just over his head and ran passed him. Swirls of red engulfed him. He raised the crossbow, ready to fire at anything that came too close. A dark figure stopped in front of him. Machaiba backed up a few steps and lit a match. He raised it up to the dark figure.
A man on a horse. In an Arconian battle uniform. He had a long white whip in one hand. It seemed different. Like it was segmented. Like a... a spine. He moved the candle up. In the horseman's other hand was a head. It was rotten thoroughly through. Holes in the cheeks, exposing jagged, dark yellow teeth. The hair was dirty, and sticking up in all directions. The eyes... the eyes of pure evil. Black as the night sky and just as unforgiving.

The horse reared back and Machaiba jumped in fear. He raised the crossbow. He asked in Pure Arconian if he was a Dullahan.
The head's eyes blinked, drawing Machaiba's attention to the rotting head immediately. It breathed and opened its jaws. It let out the most inhuman scream imaginable. It pierced the ear drums of the shaken man and he fell from dizziness. He fired the crossbow blindly as a last resort to save his doomed life.
Another scream and all was quiet. He was gone. After Machaiba cleaned the snow from his eyes he saw nothing, heard nothing, and his bolt was gone. While he had time, he had to find it.
He ran with the remainder of his strength and looked for a hole in the snow. Plowing his way through he looked and looked, he couldn't feel his hands, feet and face. He remembered how long he must have been out. He looked up, tears in his eyes, obstructing his vision. He saw it. Nailed into the front of a house. He ran with all his might and pulled it out.
His last morsel of energy was devoted to getting back in the house.
His door swung open with all the weight of him against it. His eyes carried him to his mother’s rocking chair. His head sunk with the rest of his body. She was sitting there as if she had heard nothing of what was going on outside. He screamed to her to wake her up.
She didn’t move. She didn’t say a word.
With all his might, he pulled himself across the floor and shook the leg of the chair. He called to his mother again. No answer.
He got to his knees and pulled her in. The fire in the fireplace illuminated his mothers face. There were streams of blood coming from her eyes. He pulled one open and where there once was a green eye, there was nothing. He looked into the other, and the same. Her eyes were gone. He couldn’t see more. He became sick, and the flood fled from his head. The floor began to spin, and he tried to run away, but everything went limp. He hit the floor and fainted.

Smith
July 21st, 2014, 12:45 AM
First, before I go into this, I would like to welcome you to the forum! Haven't seen you around until now.


Part 1
Machaiba and Tobais
Chapter 1


The first chapter here is well done. I have read some fantasy, and most of the time there is a lot of information overload. That is, right away we are thrown into seemingly the entire lore of the book. Characters, locations, you name it. Here, I was pleasantly surprised to be introduced to your world on a smaller-scale.

"Arcos had never been the place to raise young children. It was a large village, deep in the out reaches of any village near it."

The name of the village is well done in my opinion. It didn't come across as forced, or like you tried really hard to come up with something 'cool'. It feels - in general - unique yet simple. Fitting. Anyways, the first sentence right away had me intrigued. For example: Why is it not a good place for children? Monsters? Weather? Crime? Good, basic foreshadowing. With the second sentence I start to see where this is going, adding onto the previous sentence. Gives me a little more background on Arcos itself, too. Where it might be located in this world. I do think though it could use some re-wording. Maybe, "It was large for a village out in the wilderness, miles from any other settlement." Perhaps more foreshadowing following that, "Of course, this was not the only thing isolating them." Mess around with it. You might think that is a lot of thought and effort just put into the opening sentences, but making a first impression is important.

"The houses were rickety structures that sang “Arconian Lullabies”, as they were named by the townspeople. The houses swayed, creaked, and whistled in the wind, all the noise created a chorus of the night. Most Arconians chose to build their humble homes out of wood, wooden nails, and rope. They thought metal would freeze and break under the pressure. Except for a gold pin above the doorway of every home. Gold is said to keep certain evil spirits away."

This paragraph I think is good. You show us the rickety structure of the houses, and I can hear with my imagination the sounds they make at night. Again, those last two sentences are great, keeping me interested in the story and pulling me along. More simple foreshadowing. "Except for a gold pin above the doorway of every home. Gold is said to keep certain evil spirits away." Nice! But then in the next paragraph you dive head-first into these evil spirits, and don't really allow the foreshadowing to take true effect. Sadface.

How about you explore the town a little bit more instead? I know I was only just talking about information overload. But you can still take us down to the cobblestone streets and dirt paths. The guards, the day-to-day townspeople and activities, their marketplace and tavern. It might sound a bit boring putting it that way, but it doesn't have to be, and if done well, it won't be. Mentioning how the guards (at least I assume their is some sort of guard) only patrol the village in the day would be interesting, making us wonder why that is. It would also be sensible lore-wise, because the nights are so cold, unpredictable weather, and the spirits or monsters. This could even carry over to the other things. Everything must be done during the day, and doing it at night is a fool's errand. That is what truly makes your town that you have created unique, and why you should bother going in depth about it.

After you do that, then you can go into talking about the Dullahan and spirits a bit. "Townspeople flock to the tavern some evenings. The elders, as dusk approaches, entertain with tales of old." Obviously that is really lame, something I came up with in about 20-30 seconds, but just to give you a basic idea. Moving on though, I think some (myself included) will have a hard time believing "Nobody had ever seen a Dullahan" yet such a fine description is given of it. Rather, I think you should scrap that sentence. Then, give a few different descriptions of what a Dullahan might be. Make the reader wonder a little bit too, because you reveal what exactly a Dullahan looks like in the final chapter here anyway. At least until then there is some mystery surrounding it. Maybe three descriptions that vary a bit, but with a couple common trends (i.e. it's a horseman of some sort).

---

And that about sums it up. I don't really need to go through all the chapters like this. Your grammar and what not is decent enough that anybody, especially you yourself, can go through and find errors. Re-word and re-phrase things. Vary your sentence length and structure a little. I think the bigger thing to focus on is exploring your world some more. It is an entire, living, breathing (or, well, some things are undead and spiritual :P) world that you have inside your head. So don't just tell us about all these traditions. Show us! Give us some background, some lore. But don't tell us everything either. It is a fine balance that can be difficult sometimes but it can be done, and if you really explored some of these things and brought all this lore to life, I'd be very interested in re-reading this, AND reading more of this.

Basically, just don't be afraid to take your time and be thorough with things. It will make your story meatier and more interesting which will do you a lot of good here. I see so much potential. Now I want to see you realize that very potential.

Feel free to message me any questions and what have you! ^_^

AMiller
July 21st, 2014, 06:50 AM
First, before I go into this, I would like to welcome you to the forum! Haven't seen you around until now.



The first chapter here is well done. I have read some fantasy, and most of the time there is a lot of information overload. That is, right away we are thrown into seemingly the entire lore of the book. Characters, locations, you name it. Here, I was pleasantly surprised to be introduced to your world on a smaller-scale.

"Arcos had never been the place to raise young children. It was a large village, deep in the out reaches of any village near it."

The name of the village is well done in my opinion. It didn't come across as forced, or like you tried really hard to come up with something 'cool'. It feels - in general - unique yet simple. Fitting. Anyways, the first sentence right away had me intrigued. For example: Why is it not a good place for children? Monsters? Weather? Crime? Good, basic foreshadowing. With the second sentence I start to see where this is going, adding onto the previous sentence. Gives me a little more background on Arcos itself, too. Where it might be located in this world. I do think though it could use some re-wording. Maybe, "It was large for a village out in the wilderness, miles from any other settlement." Perhaps more foreshadowing following that, "Of course, this was not the only thing isolating them." Mess around with it. You might think that is a lot of thought and effort just put into the opening sentences, but making a first impression is important.

"The houses were rickety structures that sang “Arconian Lullabies”, as they were named by the townspeople. The houses swayed, creaked, and whistled in the wind, all the noise created a chorus of the night. Most Arconians chose to build their humble homes out of wood, wooden nails, and rope. They thought metal would freeze and break under the pressure. Except for a gold pin above the doorway of every home. Gold is said to keep certain evil spirits away."

This paragraph I think is good. You show us the rickety structure of the houses, and I can hear with my imagination the sounds they make at night. Again, those last two sentences are great, keeping me interested in the story and pulling me along. More simple foreshadowing. "Except for a gold pin above the doorway of every home. Gold is said to keep certain evil spirits away." Nice! But then in the next paragraph you dive head-first into these evil spirits, and don't really allow the foreshadowing to take true effect. Sadface.

How about you explore the town a little bit more instead? I know I was only just talking about information overload. But you can still take us down to the cobblestone streets and dirt paths. The guards, the day-to-day townspeople and activities, their marketplace and tavern. It might sound a bit boring putting it that way, but it doesn't have to be, and if done well, it won't be. Mentioning how the guards (at least I assume their is some sort of guard) only patrol the village in the day would be interesting, making us wonder why that is. It would also be sensible lore-wise, because the nights are so cold, unpredictable weather, and the spirits or monsters. This could even carry over to the other things. Everything must be done during the day, and doing it at night is a fool's errand. That is what truly makes your town that you have created unique, and why you should bother going in depth about it.

After you do that, then you can go into talking about the Dullahan and spirits a bit. "Townspeople flock to the tavern some evenings. The elders, as dusk approaches, entertain with tales of old." Obviously that is really lame, something I came up with in about 20-30 seconds, but just to give you a basic idea. Moving on though, I think some (myself included) will have a hard time believing "Nobody had ever seen a Dullahan" yet such a fine description is given of it. Rather, I think you should scrap that sentence. Then, give a few different descriptions of what a Dullahan might be. Make the reader wonder a little bit too, because you reveal what exactly a Dullahan looks like in the final chapter here anyway. At least until then there is some mystery surrounding it. Maybe three descriptions that vary a bit, but with a couple common trends (i.e. it's a horseman of some sort).

---

And that about sums it up. I don't really need to go through all the chapters like this. Your grammar and what not is decent enough that anybody, especially you yourself, can go through and find errors. Re-word and re-phrase things. Vary your sentence length and structure a little. I think the bigger thing to focus on is exploring your world some more. It is an entire, living, breathing (or, well, some things are undead and spiritual :P) world that you have inside your head. So don't just tell us about all these traditions. Show us! Give us some background, some lore. But don't tell us everything either. It is a fine balance that can be difficult sometimes but it can be done, and if you really explored some of these things and brought all this lore to life, I'd be very interested in re-reading this, AND reading more of this.

Basically, just don't be afraid to take your time and be thorough with things. It will make your story meatier and more interesting which will do you a lot of good here. I see so much potential. Now I want to see you realize that very potential.

Feel free to message me any questions and what have you! ^_^

Thank you sooooooo much! Made my day :D
I'm glad you like it, and if you continue to read, I have included more lore and traditions in the rest to come, and I greatly appreciate your input. I hope you like the rest and will read more to come!

ShadowEyes
July 22nd, 2014, 03:46 AM
My general comments will be sprinkled (or laid heavily) throughout the story in brick red coloring. At the end, I will try to assess the good things and bad things about the story.

Arcos had never been the place to raise young children. It was a large village, deep in the out reaches of any village near it.
First, this sentence seems self-contradictory. The word "outreach" means that the other villages actually reach out to it. So to say that it is deep in the outreaches is like saying, "This apple is deep in my grasp." It's simply confusing. Secondly, this sentence doesn't support the previous sentence. If it's large, why is it a bad place? Instead of saying what it's removed from, perhaps try describing what actually borders it (e.g. wilderness)?
(For reference, wilderness is about 30 miles from any neighboring human habitation.)


The houses were rickety structures that sang “Arconian Lullabies”, as they were named by the townspeople. Maybe remove the proper title and just say "lullabies". "As they were named" is also a bit redundant. We can assume, if its in quotes, that people say these things. The houses swayed, creaked, and whistled in the wind, all the noise created a chorus of the night. Most Arconians chose to build their humble homes out of wood, wooden nails, and rope. They thought metal would freeze and break under the pressure. Except for a gold pin above the doorway of every home. Gold is said to keep certain evil spirits away. This is good stuff. Not relevant yet, but interesting.
One resident claimed to scare off a Dullahan by waving his small gold pin at it. No one had ever seen a Dullahan. I feel like this should be a person's last name. They are said to be headless horsemen who carry their head, eyes black as night and teeth gnashing, under their arm, and carry a whip made of a human spine in the other. They ride horses that are only composed of the front half of a horse. There are no back legs or tail. No barrier can hold a Dullahan, it will simply destroy anything in its path with ease. Um, wow, that's a little gruesome. I honestly wasn't expecting it.


Every night the cold would creep in and replace the total absence of the sun.
What's replacing the "absence of the sun:" the cold or the night? The sun being absent implies coldness; so how can cold replace cold? Rather, I think you mean the cold creeps in along with the total absence of the sun.


Pure blackness and quiet. Every citizen of Arcos ran home as the sun set in the sky. They knew if they stayed out, they would have to defend themselves against the elements and the dark magic that enslave the area.
This explains the questionable sentence, but it's much more descriptive.
Some creatures can be seen if you are out with a lamp, but since this is a daring task on its own, I would take out "on its own" because comparing going out to seeing creatures is like comparing jumping off a building to hitting the ground. Hitting the ground is not daring; it is a consequence. not many people have first-hand experiences with these creatures and live to talk about it. Most of the mythology of Arcos is spread by word of mouth, and is rarely seen or proven.


One small child, a boy, was born on the coldest night in the coldest month of one of the coldest years Arcos had ever seen. Out of the darkness of the night and the candle lit bedside of the mother delivering came this child. The only sounds were the harsh winds blowing, the mother catching her breath and sighing, and the son. The crying seemed to be heard for miles as the wind carried the wailing past the houses. Candles were lit to signify the awareness of new life.
It was an old Arcos tradition to light a candle in the window to acknowledge and indirectly congratulate the mother on her new arrival. I got this already from the previous sentence. Also, these last two paragraphs are in passive tense. You describe the actions first and then the nouns, so it creates fluff.
A mother and her child. Such a beautiful sight to behold. The caring mother looks upon the gift and lightly smiles. They're both exhausted. The midwife comes to take the baby to his bed so the mother can get well deserved rest. Much better than the previous two paragraphs.


Chapter 2


From the first day of life to years later, a mother will tell you those years go quickly. He did grow quickly. Might want to explain this a bit. A healthy boy of ten. Both the mother and son wear the years. The mother begins to gray and her face shows lines of worry and lost sleep. The son is no taller than five feet. Pale as snow skin, dark brown hair, and a happy disposition. His face is adorned with normal sized, I like how you slip the connotation in. slightly pointed ears. He prefers not to talk. Most people in the village have seen him, but never heard him. Some would swear he was born without the ability to speak, others thought he was deaf. Seems like you have the character fleshed out for his age.


From his early years, one thing held his mother's attention. His ears. They were pointed. No one else in the entire village, or, at least the people she had seen, had the same ears. The lobe was small and almost nonexistent. The top of the ear came to a sharp, unmistakable point. She usually kept a black strip of cloth around his head to cover them. Wouldn't that be more noticeable?


As the years went on into his teens, he drifted away from everyone. He didn't talk. He stayed in the attic. I feel like this shouldn't be skimmed past. There're a lot of feelings that could be relatable to whomever your target audience is.


His living space inside the top of this already small shack was cramped and unsteady. The high winds swayed the house and he could see the ground move beneath him from the small window in the side wall. It was his escape, this window. He wasn't allowed outside during the night, as was no one else, but he was also condemned to his attic during the day. Not by his mother, and not necessarily by his own reclusive mannerisms. I don't understand this paragraph, mainly because I'm not sure what he's escaping into. I thought there were monsters outside at night. Wouldn't that be reason to not go out? Who enforces these rules? How do the high winds play a part in everyday life and does he master living up in the attic; does he get motion sick? (:


Many villagers tended to not go outside their own homes because of the paranoid people who roam the streets by day. Like many others, he had been the target of much prejudice because of a tale that spoke of those who harbored evil in their souls. It would be much more dramatic to have you show everything in this chapter as separate anecdotes rather than plot descriptions. Otherwise, this is just a big infodump. These people had distinct characteristics such as sharp teeth, no eye color, or pointed ears.


Chapter 3


He went out when he had to. The rest of the paragraph doesn't follow up on this sentence. If he went out during the day, the neighbors who once held him and sang to him now looked with judgment in their eyes. Mixing past and present tense. Mostly just before dusk, when all others had gone home, but the spirits and creatures of the night had not come yet was when Arcos was his. While sentence fragments are usually okay, the first of the compound sentence isn't a sentence. And the second sentence part after "but" doesn't make sense. I think you're missing "when" after "but". Still you can split it up. This was risky for a boy of fourteen. Like most full grown men, he was helpless against the dark and what it hid. Why?


He eventually grew accustomed to this and went on his walks or errands later and later. How? Either he's helpless, or, by definition, isn't. He equipped himself with only things he thought he would need, such as a wooden stake, chain to wrap around his boots so he wouldn't slip and fall on the ice and a book to record strange sounds or shadows. You might want to go into this more. I'm not sure how one could record sounds or vague things like shadows in a book. Unless he writes and draws. But you have to say that, or show it. Perhaps even a glimpse of a monster. On occasion, he even went so far as to tempt one of these creatures by standing in the middle of the road and making loud noises, insulting the beasts in the ancient language of Pure Arconian, the language thought to be practiced by the monsters. How does he know it?


The language spoken by the villagers was New Arconian. It was more comprehensible and easy to learn. Pure Arconian was a language of pure skill and solid practice. Some could spend a lifetime learning the language and not master more than a single sentence. He was quite fluent in the ways of insults. A boy of fourteen is fluent in a language that can take a lifetime to master? Doesn't seem likely.


The people of the village thought more of him as a creature of the night when he would walk about the lonely cobblestone streets in an inky black cloak that reached his feet. He looked like Death, gliding above the ground with his face hidden. As he passed, candles would be lit to try to keep the supposed Grim Reaper at bay. While all of this is cool, it doesn't present much in the form of an actual story. There's no tension, no character growth. It's simply stating what happened in third person omniscient, almost as if by backstory. But I feel like I'm missing the best parts. Why does he do these things?


Even more dangerous than Arcos was the Korzha Forest. It surrounded the village on all sides with the exception of a few narrow passage ways on all sides. Repeated "on all sides". I'm not sure a human-made exit from a forest is a "passageway". The tall, swaying Evergreen trees peaked at about twenty five feet high, bright green and dusted with powdery white snow. Since when did it start snowing? And why is this relevant? These trees provided most of the color in the landscape, and the brothers and sisters of those trees build the homes. What does "brothers and sisters" of trees mean? The Korzha Forest blocked most of the view of the surrounding area. The villagers were weary to use them because those paths are said to be how the monsters get in, and no one, no matter how brave, would dare chance a run in with a Dullahan or another monster. Wow, I really don't like these villagers. They have no motivation, no desire to fight the monsters.


Not the son. Whose? He wanted… no… needed to find one. He had to see it. Many nights he spent by candle light reading about it and drawing what he thought it would look like. This was his mission. ...Because it would prove that he is not a monster?


Chapter 4


On his sixteenth birthday, he was considered in Arcos a man. "In Arcos" confuses which description the verb is linking to the noun. A tradition of Arcos was that when a boy becomes a man, he may choose to name himself, or have a parent name him. From birth to age sixteen they are given temporary names, given by the father. "From birth" can be assumed. "Given" is repeated. Also, "they" is plural. The previous sentence used the singular "boy". The son had no father, or none he knew, so his name remained “son” until the day of his sixteenth birthday. Seems complicated with many possible fatherless children. Also, I'm not sure which purpose it serves.


He spent all day in his small room in the attic to think about his name. What people will know him as for the rest of his life. This is presumably self-evident. It was late in the day when he came down the ladder to see his mother, and he named himself Machaiba.


He named himself this after a certain type of spirit named "Chaiba" that lives in Arcos. It is a slender, black figure that follows people and hides inside their shadows as they turn to see what was pursuing them. They have no teeth or mouths, but they have white, pearl-like eyes.

These creatures reminded him of himself on those cold, lonely nights when he stuck to the shadows. Why? Which parts of it remind him?


This night, like most others, was cold and windy. Machaiba looked out the window of his room and saw something... strange. It must have been well into the early morning. The soft glow of the enormous, white moon illuminated every rooftop and snow covered tree. Does this relate to how he would know what time it is? The candle at his side blew out.


As did the one on a box on the other side of the room. Cliche.


The window froze over and the frost was almost impossible to see through. Machaiba breathed on the window and scraped away on the glass. Out of the tiny gap of ice in the window, he saw small, almost invisible beams of red gliding from one side of the forest to the other. The red spots left trails of color as they went. Thank God. The story finally starts. I think you can keep all of the other stuff to the backstory.


As quickly as he could, he pulled his black coat off his rack and his book from the shelf. He lit a candle and raced down the ladder. The door almost flew off the hinges as he grabbed it and flung it open. The candle casted an eerie glow on everything. He saw nothing. Much better description.


The wind sharply picked up and blew out the candle, just like the ones in his room. The red dots flowed smoothly all around him at all distances. They danced around him and went away, came back and left again. The sounds of horses coming and going could be heard softly in the air. I'm not sure how much I'm digging this third-person limited perspective. It's too passive.


The wind knocked him over and he dropped his book and the candle. Gee, the wind sure does cause a lot of problems. He grabbed his book and crawled on his hands and knees toward the door. As soon as he had the strength he leaped to the doorway and fumbled for the handle. He twisted it and turned it and eventually fell inside the house. The door shut with a loud slam once he was safely inside.


It was quiet. He sat in the middle of the floor, propped up with his hands. Heavy breathing filled the room. Which room? He pulled off his coat, folded it, and dropped it in his lap. Had he just interrupted the passing of a Dullahan? Had he finally seen, or at least partly seen, a mythical creature?


One more look.


He opened the door.


Nothing. No sound or red light or anything.


Chapter 5


He stayed up all that night and just sat in the floor, thinking about what he had experienced. He had to see it again. All that day was spent preparing. Remembering that Dullahans can be stopped with gold, he found the only gold in the house. The gold nail above the front door. You said it was a pin before. Without his mother seeing him, What was she doing instead? he pulled it out of the wall. Melting it was the hard part. He had to wait over a fire for quite some time, and even then it wasn't completely malleable. I don't think this is how it works. Unless he has a smithy forge and bellows. In which case, how would he get them? He took tongs and a mallet and hammered the small hunk of glowing metal over the sharp end of a stake.


He found a crossbow that was broken on the side of the road. After it thawed out he fixed the bow and the trigger. He would observe until he felt threatened, or if the elements turn against him, he could try and take a Dullahan with him. I'm not sure what this paragraph means. There's no precedent for "taking" a Dullahan.


Dusk couldn't come soon enough. He lit all the candles he had, so when they went out he would know they were close. As he laid near his window he had only his thoughts to entertain him. The primary thought was why the Dullahans were showing up now? Up till now he had only heard of them from the local storyteller. Why is it now that they decide to come? And in such large numbers. He had to stay focused. Who knows how many times this will happen. Why does he care? If you can give me a reason for him caring, I can care about him.


The night finally came.
The wind slowly but surely picked up. Trees danced in the wind and the houses were in full chorus with Arconian Lullabies. Snow fell and blanketed the ground. He could hear the sound of a heart beating. His heart, about to burst with anticipation. Wait, more beating. Rhythmic thumps filled his ears and suddenly there was no room in his ears for any other sounds. Cliche.


The thumps turned into gallops. Thunderous gallops. The candles all went out and Machaiba's heart jumped into his neck. He grabbed his black coat and crossbow, loaded it and jumped down from his room onto the main room's floor. He hardly made a sound. It was louder now, the galloping. He opened the door and almost fell into the snow. He trekked into the middle of the road and looked on. Inky blackness surrounded him. Snowflakes flew into his face and impaired his vision. Two dots of neon red shot passed him into some trees. Another set flew just over his head and ran passed him. Swirls of red engulfed him. He raised the crossbow, ready to fire at anything that came too close. A dark figure stopped in front of him. Machaiba backed up a few steps and lit a match. He raised it up to the dark figure.


A man on a horse. In an Arconian battle uniform. He had a long white whip in one hand. It seemed different. Like it was segmented. Like a... a spine. He moved the candle up. In the horseman's other hand was a head. It was rotten thoroughly through. Holes in the cheeks, exposing jagged, dark yellow teeth. The hair was dirty, and sticking up in all directions. The eyes... the eyes of pure evil. Black as the night sky and just as unforgiving. Good description.


The horse reared back and Machaiba jumped in fear. He raised the crossbow. He asked in Pure Arconian if he was a Dullahan.
The head's eyes blinked, drawing Machaiba's attention to the rotting head immediately. It breathed and opened its jaws. It let out the most inhuman scream imaginable. It pierced the ear drums of the shaken man and he fell from dizziness. He fired the crossbow blindly as a last resort to save his doomed life. Saying "doomed" gives no implication for me to believe it.


Another scream and all was quiet. He was gone. After Machaiba cleaned the snow from his eyes he saw nothing, heard nothing, and his bolt was gone. While he had time, he had to find it.


He ran with the remainder of his strength and looked for a hole in the snow. Plowing his way through he looked and looked, he couldn't feel his hands, feet and face. He remembered how long he must have been out. He looked up, tears in his eyes, obstructing his vision. He saw it. Nailed into the front of a house. He ran with all his might and pulled it out.


His last morsel of energy was devoted to getting back in the house.


His door swung open with all the weight of him against it. His eyes carried him to his mother’s rocking chair. His head sunk with the rest of his body. She was sitting there as if she had heard nothing of what was going on outside. He screamed to her to wake her up.


She didn’t move. She didn’t say a word.


With all his might, he pulled himself across the floor and shook the leg of the chair. He called to his mother again. No answer.


He got to his knees and pulled her in. The fire in the fireplace illuminated his mothers face. There were streams of blood coming from her eyes. He pulled one open and where there once was a green eye, there was nothing. He looked into the other, and the same. Her eyes were gone. He couldn’t see more. He became sick, and the flood fled from his head. The floor began to spin, and he tried to run away, but everything went limp. He hit the floor and fainted. Wow, that, uh, wow. That escalated quickly.


While you have very interesting ideas, I think it's important to note that ideas and "cool things" do not drive a story. Plot, characters (including motivation), and setting drive a story.


First, setting: To me, it seems like you're setting up the story (with the setting; without the perspective we need to care about it). The story seems to go by too quickly. It's like looking at a cloud. If the clouds pass by, they're all the same. But if you stare at one long enough, it becomes more, becomes memorable. We cannot see the cloud in the sky (setting) because it's like the world is spinning. Wouldn't it be more wonderful if we were up in the clouds? Inside the character's head, experiencing feeling neglected, growing up in a small, secluded village, having our mother die?


Second, characters: The story feels like a cool outline of something that needs to be colored in. You have a lot of great descriptions. For example, the Dullahan looked great. But, we haven't had any other character in the story described up to that point. You could've literally told your story in a ghost town.


Finally, plot: Simple. Keep the story a story. I think the chapters can be three times as long as they are now. You tell me a lot of little details about the town, but nothing about why Machaiba is special, why what he is doing cannot be done by anyone else.

Greimour
July 22nd, 2014, 05:28 AM
Arcos had never been the place to raise young children. It was a large village, deep in the out reaches of any village near it.
First, this sentence seems self-contradictory. The word "outreach" means that the other villages actually reach out to it. So to say that it is deep in the outreaches is like saying, "This apple is deep in my grasp." It's simply confusing.

Just stopping by to address that one comment. Because I disagree <3

"out reach" was used as two words; not one. That immediately implies to me that they are on the border of a country or far removed from the other towns/villages.

I do however agree that the sentence needs changing. A simpler method would be with its latter half:


Arcos had never been the place to raise young children. It was a large village, deep in the out reaches of [country] and far removed from the next nearest village.

-or-

Arcos had never been the place to raise young children. It was a large village, deep in the out reaches.


In that second example, it would imply that 'out reaches' is an area. For example 'wastelands' or the other side of a forest or something. In that scenario, 'out reaches' should be made into a capitalized 'Outreaches'

In regards to what I quoted... outreach itself does not mean others are reaching out to it. Think of it this way:

Plant both feet firmly on the ground. Without raising either foot, reach out as far as you possibly can - lean if you have to. When you are reaching as far as physically possible without falling over, then you can see the outreached point. The very edge of the most distant finger tip. That is the outreach. The point furthest removed from the main body is the outreach.

<3


~Kev.


P.S. Very impressive response. Time, effort and dedication to response is very impressive and commendable. <3

AMiller
July 22nd, 2014, 07:24 AM
Thank you for your well rounded input, I do see your point on most things, such as when you pointed out that I should go into different parts of the story more and that it goes by to quickly, like a cloud, but other things seem to be a little unimportant, such as:

This night, like most others, was cold and windy. Machaiba looked out the window of his room and saw something... strange. It must have been well into the early morning. The soft glow of the enormous, white moon illuminated every rooftop and snow covered tree. Does this relate to how he would know what time it is? The candle at his side blew out.

The moon is up, and he could have observed that it had been up for some time, which would lead him to believe it had been night for a while. Or when you point out the "cliches". Just a couple little things.

Overall, a very good review and it helped me think of my story in a deeper way. Thank you again for your input.