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Cairney
September 4th, 2015, 04:31 PM
Hi everyone! I hope this isn't too much to post in one go, but I wanted to give a real feel for what I'm writing and felt like a prologue or chapter alone wasn't enough. I also hope this is the right forum for this. It is fantasy, but it's also for young adults.

I would love feedback on this as the book I'm writing is basically finished at this point, and I'm now going through and editing. Also, apologies if this looks badly formatted, the file didn't copy across very well. And thanks in advance!

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Prologue.

The cobbled streets twisted and turned in a thousand different directions, crazy spiraling patterns through a city rich with history, with adventure. Wherever you went, tall buildings lined the streets, leaning and tilting against each other like a precarious house of cards. The structures seemed to ripple and sparkle with a rainbow of colours, sometimes flashing the deepest, purest blues, and other times glowing intense, fiery reds. The cobbles, flagstones and bricks reflected this a hundred times over, dazzling even those familiar with the sight from time to time.

The city itself had become so well known for these incredible displays that it had earned itself a fitting nickname. No one really remembered what the place had originally been called, and those that did never bothered to use the name any more. Everyone knew it simply as the city of Spectrum. Spectrum; home to sorcerers, scholars, inventors, those who fought for what was right, those who wanted nothing more than to watch the city burn, and much more besides. It was also home to more than a few chroniclers, bards and minstrels, including one in particular, quite popular with visitors to the city, named Niels.

Now this one old storyteller had managed to gather, as he typically did, a sizeable crowd of people to tell his tale to. He didn’t do it for the money, fame, fortune or anything grandiose, but because it was a story that needed to be told, that deserved to be told. The crowd around him were varied; men, women, children, and they were eagerly waiting for the story to start. Niels decided not to keep them waiting any longer, and began to speak, his voice echoing out across the people.

“Gather round, that’s it. Come a little closer everyone. Is everybody listening? Good, then let us begin. Spectrum, as I am sure you all know, has a glorious secret that is…well, not so secret. It is what gives the city its magnificent colours, and much more besides. Long ago, when the city was first built, people began to notice odd things happening. Things would occasionally disappear and reappear somewhere else entirely, buildings seemed to shift and physically alter in shape and size. Spectrum, you see, had been built on top of a huge underground reservoir of ether, the lifeblood of the planet, and the thing that makes all sorcery possible.

Of course, as the then village grew into a town and eventually the sprawling metropolis that it is today, word spread of the fantastic things that one might witness, just from walking down one of the many streets. The place grew more and more popular, and of course with the sheer number of people eventually settled here, and the amount of interest people had in the ether, there were bound to be one of two fascinating stories to tell.
That is where we come in. This particular story is about one particular young pair, a man and a woman. It’s a particular favourite of mine. You see long ago, the ancient scholars of this place dug too deep into the secrets of this world. They released a powerful force which they couldn’t contain, and tried to imprison it. But of course, things rarely ever work out as easily as men plan them to, and the city would soon find itself in dire peril…”

1.

The clouds had rolled over several hours ago, covering the sun, and giving the day a somber feel. Not that there was anything wrong with somber. It was necessary sometimes, to reflect, to ponder, to wonder. Elijah was really not in the mood for that though, and voiced his concerns to the dull grey sky, and no one else in particular.

"I hate rain. There is nothing worse than getting soaked. God I hate it. Please don't rain. I swear to god if it rains..."

He did not get to finish the threat, for as soon as he said the words, the first fat droplets began to fall from the heavens. As they hit the ground, they sparkled and shimmered as they reacted to the ether below the ground. They shone like stars, twinkling and flickering as they landed, and as the puddles grew they looked almost like tiny galaxies strewn along the street, swirling around the individual stones. Elijah, however, did not care, he had seen it all before. He pulled his long brown coat up around his neck and broke into a run, scowling as he splashed through the rapidly increasing puddles, caused by the rapidly increasing precipitation. Luckily, he had not been too far from where he was headed, and after rounding a couple of corners ( both of which were filled with wide eyed children splashing playfully around, and equally wide eyed visitors to the city taking in the spectacle for the first time) He arrived at his destination. He hammered on the door of a crazily tilting house, which at this moment in time had chosen to be a pale shade of purple, and was quickly let in by his good friend Molly.

He rushed into the house out of the deluge, and before he had even a chance to turn around, she was laughing at him.
"You look like a drowned rat!" she giggled as he took his coat off. He turned around, trying to keep the scowl fixed in place, but losing the battle fast. He shook the rain off of his coat, straight in her direction, and she shrieked, and laughed even harder.
"Nice to see you too Molly. I appreciate the sympathy by the way, you know I love nothing more than being caught in the rain."
"Oh don't be so sour, a little bit of rain never killed anyone, and it’s good to see you too, silly! It’s been far too long! Anyway, you can get the fire started now you're here and you'll dry off in no time. Then we can get down to business. I'll get you something to drink. Oh, and give me that as well."

She took his coat and hurried off into one of the rooms just off to one side of the entrance hall. Elijah followed her, stepping down into a large kitchen. It wasn't just large though, it was enormous, sprawling far beyond where it should have done. To look at the house from the outside, you would think it almost too tiny to live in, like a pale purple broom closet, very tall, and very thin. Once you were inside though, the place just seemed to go on forever. This was typically the way of things in Spectrum. No one truly knew why, or how, but decided not to question it. Things worked better that way, and nobody fried their brain trying to puzzle it out, well, apart from a few scholars up on the Cloud. Many had tried of course, and many had failed. It was just one of those things that people had come to accept.

Elijah walked over to the fireplace. Molly had prepared it for when he arrived, he noticed. It was piled high with wood, small sticks and kindling on top, with the firewood getting bigger as the pile went down, with a couple of big logs at the bottom to keep it going for some time. He crouched down and concentrated a little. As he did he held his hands out until they began to feel very warm. He knew the spell he was casting was going to work because the tips of his fingers tingled just a little bit, and as that happened he aimed his hand, palm forward towards the fireplace, and a small, concentrated jet of flame shot out, lighting the kindling immediately, which began to crackle and pop in the most satisfying way, reflecting in his dark brown eyes.

Elijah Sinclair. The surname he had given to himself, just as Molly had given to herself one as well. He had picked Sinclair thinking it to be a fairly normal surname, and hoping to live a normal, peaceful life, although things had not quite worked out like that. Molly had followed suit, and as far as pretty much everyone knew these days, they were brother and sister. They were so close they might as well have been.

Abandoned when he was small and taken in by the local orphanage Elijah had discovered very early on that he had a very special ability. The ether under Spectrum affected everything from plants and buildings, to people. He could do what was commonly known as “conducting”. This was to say he could pull the ether out of the air around him and use it to do what most people would say equated to magic. It was a rare ability, with only a handful of people in the city manifesting the gift, one of which was Elijah’s very dear friend Noah. Conducting manifested differently in every person. For Elijah, he was able to control the element of fire, and bend it to his will.

"Nice one." Molly called over. Elijah stood up and looked over. "There you are," she motioned, pointing at a large mug on the countertop full of a dark black liquid, "South sea mix, I got some in especially for you, decided to try it before you got here. It’s gorgeous, kind of sweet, and a little nutty. You want some?" Elijah nodded and confirmed that he would indeed. South sea mix was a particularly delicious blend of tea, something of which both of them were quite fond.

Elijah smiled. Well, smiled would be pushing it, he scowled a little less. It really didn't take much to cheer him up though. Good company, a warm drink, and a roaring fire took care of it and then some. He thanked Molly as she handed him a cup, and they stood quietly for just a moment while he took a large swig of his tea. He let his eyes wander around the room, and noted, as he always did, the vast collection of things hanging up on the walls. There were herbs and spices in bags hung all over one of the walls, as well as the usual collection of pots, pans, and cutlery and so on. As his eyes swept round the room though it began to look less like a kitchen and more like a workshop, with blueprints, sketches and hastily scribbled ideas on scraps of paper all stuck to various pieces of the wall. He had no idea what most of it was, but the Molly that he had always known had been incredibly clever.

Molly Sinclair. He had known her since they were both very tiny. Fate had brought them together in the same orphanage, and it was as if it were always meant to be. Molly had been what Elijah considered to be a genius since she had been very young. She had created dozens upon dozens of inventions, and had created the vials she used – jars filled with certain substances for all manner of different applications. They had created a business together, not quite private eyes or detectives, and not quite bounty hunters either. They were somewhere in between, doing jobs that no one else really wanted to dirty their hands doing. And it had gone pretty well so far.

Elijah finished looking around the room. In one corner there was also a large pile of scrap metal, pieces of machinery, leather, and dozens of other materials that Elijah couldn't even begin to hazard a guess at. Molly loved to tinker, and make things, and while she had never been any good at sorcery, even with the ether flowing beneath the ground, she truly did have a stunning mind, and had come up with some incredible gadgets and machinery that had oftentimes in the past made both of their lives easier, particularly when they were working.

The thought of work brought Elijah out of the daydream he had slipped into. He took another quick sip, and set the cup down on the dark wooden counter, once he had managed to find a space for it amongst the jumble of other bits and pieces.

"Sorry about that, my mind was wandering, I was just thinking about that time when we-"

"The time in the Forest of Forever, right? When we had to launch the-"

"That's the one."

"And then there was the explosion and we had to-"

"Yeah. You know the hair on my legs is still patchy, right? I mean, there's no spell to fix that, you know that right?"

"Well what did you want me to do? Look, shush, it doesn’t matter anyway, stop being such a baby." Molly pulled a stool out from under the countertop and sat down. She invited Elijah to do the same, which he did, and she continued on.

"Alright, so this is going to sound a little far-fetched, but… well, you know things have been a little quiet since the last job? Well, I’ve had some time to do a few things, experiment, test, create, the usual stuff. I think I’ve stumbled across something, and I was hoping you would have a look at it."

Elijah quickly thought back to their last job. They had recovered a sizeable hoard of jewels from a band of thieves. The reward from that job, coupled with the fact that the owner had been so grateful that he had given each of them several of the precious stones as a reward, had meant they were able to take some much needed downtime. Or not as Molly’s case may be.

She did sound suddenly very serious though, very different to the girl he knew who had been laughing at him not five minutes ago. Elijah had only seen her switch moods like this a couple of times before, and he knew that despite the cheery facade she had put on earlier, that something was really worrying her. He could see it in her face, could see the concern.

"So much for taking time off to relax! Yeah of course I’ll take a look, what have you got? Or what do you think you’ve got?"

"I knew you’d say yes. Thank you. Alright, so…you know I do the occasional bit of spelunking? It’s mainly to gather ether samples, or do experiments involving the ether. Well I thought that in my time off I would do some extra tests, get down there as much as possible. Well, the last few times I’ve been down there, there have been…earthquakes."

Elijah had been in the middle of taking a sip of drink. He stopped and looked at her incredulously. “Seriously?” He asked, “There’s not been anything like that recorded around here. Not ever.”

“I know, I know,” Molly responded. “I double and triple checked what I found and, well, look.” And with that she hopped off of the stool and disappeared into one of the various studies in the impossibly cavernous house. Elijah was left to sit for a moment, gazing out of the window at the still gloomy sky. Earthquakes, in this region? It was completely unheard of. On the other hand, Molly was rarely, if ever, wrong about these kind of things. He wasn’t left to consider things for too long, as she quickly returned, carrying multiple pieces of paper. Elijah just had time to rescue his tea before Molly swept the table clear with an arm, sending all manner of things tumbling to the floor.

“Here, look!” She exclaimed, pointing out various areas on the multiple graphs and tables she had drawn up. This was one of the things that Elijah had always loved about Molly; her relentless enthusiasm, but at the moment he was completely lost.

“Molly…what exactly am I looking at here?”

“Oh right, sorry. Well...when I recorded the first one I came back here and grabbed some more gear straight away. Stuff that would be able to record any future tremors. It’s crude technology, but it works. I took it down with me, set it up, and this is what it recorded over the space of about a week. Now, what this shows is how often the quakes happen, but also severity.”

Elijah looked down at the chart for a moment. He was by no means as clever as his partner, but even he could see that they were rapidly getting stronger. From the looks of the information the earthquakes would soon be strong enough to feel at street level. And if they continued getting stronger? That was a worrying thought.

“Molly I think…maybe we need to take this to the Cloud. They need to see this. It’s not something we can deal with ourselves, this is potentially huge.” He looked up from the graphs and charts as he finished speaking. Molly’s face was unreadable for a moment, and then she began to frown, looking quite angry. Elijah knew what was coming.

“The Cloud? Are you serious? After the way they treated me? After the way they treated you?! No. Not a chance, no way.” She crossed her arms resolutely.

“We’ve got to. I know you hate them. I know they haven’t done right by us, and god knows why, but…they can help. We need help here. Come on Molly.” She uncrossed her arms a little as he finished speaking and wandered over to the fireplace, gazing into it. It had a soporific effect and she lost herself in her own thoughts for a short while. Elijah was about to speak again when she finally spoke up.

“Fine. We’ll take it up to the scholars, see what they make of it. I swear…I hate going up there, but I know it makes sense. We’ll make it quick. Head up, get them to have a look and then get the hell out of there.”

Elijah smiled. “Alright good, we’ll head up tomorrow then, gives us time to prepare everything today.” He got up and meandered over to the window with his cup of tea. He tilted his head back, draining the last of it from the cup. As he looked back down, he looked directly into a pair of eyes. There was a gigantic face at the window.

jambleshiroshima
September 5th, 2015, 07:37 PM
I really like what you're doing here! The prologue is interesting and definitely makes me want to read more. A couple quick things:


...crazy spiraling patterns through a city rich with history, with adventure. - Not sure if this little bit is so grammatically correct. Maybe try and find another way to phrase this?

I would also watch how many commas you have scattered across your sentences. Try saying your writings out loud to make sure it flows correctly, that always helps me.


and much more besides - You use this phrase a couple times throughout your prologue. It's a neat construction of words to be sure, but be wary about how many times you use it because it does grow a little repetitive.


The place grew more and more popular, and of course with the sheer number of people eventually settled here, and the amount of interest people had in the ether, there were bound to be one of two fascinating stories to tell. - You should probably edit this sentence a tad. If you want to keep everything in the sentence that is there already, perhaps consider changing it to "The place grew more and more popular and, of course with the sheer number of people eventually settled here and the amount of interest people had in the ether, there..." just for the sake of grammar.


This particular story is about one particular young pair, a man and a woman. It’s a particular favourite of mine. - Maybe watch the repitition of "particular" here.

Besides that, honestly, just take a look at some of your punctuation throughout what you've provided us. So far it's interesting, and I'm quite looking forward to seeing more of this in the future.

Good luck in all your endeavors!

Cairney
September 6th, 2015, 07:29 PM
Thank you so much for the feedback! I'll have a bit of a play around with sentence structures I think, maybe change a couple of phrases!

canary
September 10th, 2015, 05:35 AM
Interesting! I like your imagery, some of the details you throw in that give it a sense of reality, and the mysteries you create. Just a few things to think about (and ignore if you like, of course):

prologue:

- it's a hackneyed bit of advice, but I have noticed that most successful YA fiction (and genre fiction generally) begins with action, preferably a high-conflict situation to catch the reader's attention. For some readers, giving them a detailed description of your setting (no matter how colorful), might be too much to ask before emotionally connecting them to the story or characters.

- " '…as I am sure you all know…' ": you might think about questioning your motives in including the passage where the storyteller is explaining something to people that already know all about it. This part comes across as exposition, wedged in solely for the reader's benefit, and many are turned off when they feel they can see the puppet strings. It can take away from the feeling of immersion / reality. In other words: would he really speak that way, to that audience?

-I would think about cutting the prologue, to be blunt. Trust the reader to figure out what's interesting about Spectrum through the hints you've sprinkled in later.

1.:

- should be "wide-eyed" (I'm picking nits here, I know)

- in the dialogue, there should be a new paragraph each time you switch speakers (this might be the formatting issue you mention due to copy-paste)

- "Elijah walked to the fireplace…" now, this is just my opinion, but I find that fantasy seems ultra-real when the author does not put too much focus on details that are commonplace for the characters, even if they are strange to the reader. You can see this in, for example, The Golden Compass, where the author treats the daemons very casually right from the start, as people in that world would, having seen them all their lives. If he went into great detail in the first chapter on mechanics, culture, and physical description, they would feel more made-up. In other words, I'm suggesting you consider not overloading information on, e.g., Elijah's fire-magic too soon in your book. Let us discover it more as we would if we were dropped into your city.

- the next few paragraphs are also somewhat exposition-heavy. I do like some of the details you've included, it's just a bit much this early on. I'd rather discover facets of your characters, both magic and non-magic, as I go, than have it all explained up front.

-I love the mysteries you leave us with. What terrible thing did the scholars do to them? What's causing the earthquakes? What's the gigantic face?! Those things make me need to keep reading, well done.

Cairney
September 10th, 2015, 05:08 PM
Many thanks again for the feedback! I'll consider cutting the prologue, or perhaps making it more action oriented moving forwards. Thanks again!