View Full Version : The Modern Day Legend Of Gideon

June 7th, 2016, 03:40 PM
I've written chapter one of the story that I'm working on and I'd like you all to take a look if you have the time.

Chapter 1 – The Guy In Black

Thank God for books.

If there were no books, there would be no bookshelves and if there were no bookshelves, Evangeline would probably be injured or worse, just like the currently out of action idiot who sat next to her.

Perhaps that line of thought by Eva could be seen as unusual considering the fact that the situation was a dangerous one. Normal people after all, generally don’t think of such things when in matters of life and death.

Then again, ‘normal’ was not a term that could accurately describe her and her partner.

Two young redheads were at the moment hiding behind a bookshelf at the far back of the deserted Grand Capitol Library. Evangeline, an 18 year old girl with her hair in a ponytail and Erik, a teenager of around the same age clutching his injured left arm. Theirs was not a good situation, and while at the moment they could barely manage, their chances of escape reduced by the second. An injured Teleporter and a conventional female sorcerer with magic unsuited for the opponents and surroundings were up against 5 ruthless combat-oriented homunculi. Calling it a bad matchup was an understatement.

The large town library had over 3 dozen bookshelves set behind the reading furniture which was put just after the entrance. The numerous hiding spots created by the arrangement were the only thing that kept the duo safe from their unintelligent aggressors and so at the moment they could give their thanks to Dr. Seuss.

The once organized, albeit abandoned book haven could literally be seen as a shadow of its former self since the scant electric supply was not enough to power anything but the lights to a dim glow. With the formerly smooth brown walls now randomly decorated with small to large cracks and the furniture turned over or smashed to splinters, anyone entering would currently wonder if a small war had taken place recently. Of course the two young sorcerers currently hiding in the children’s section knew otherwise. Their former prey had turned the tables on them .Effectively becoming their predators.

The five pale, bald beings that roamed around the place leaving destruction in their wake had lost their targets for the 37th time so far. Their thick 7 foot tall frames, clothed in dark grey leather jackets and jeans were frightfully effective when it came to wreaking havoc. Against such frightening opponents few skilled sorcerers would survive a direct encounter. Fewer still under the class of apprentice.

The first saving grace of the cousins was that the homunculi were not the smartest. Common sense dictates that when searching for an obviously weaker opponent with superior numbers, branching out is the most sensible tactic but the homunculi could not reason this out. Their search was also slower than it could be because they walked instead of ran. Perhaps due to their imperfect programming they could not arrive at these conclusions. In any case, it was to Eva and her cousin’s benefit.

The Caucasian female coughed quietly. The light dust which had gathered on the shelves occasionally rose into her nose, causing her irritation. Though the library had been abandoned for a few months many books remained as there wasn’t enough space in the newer one recently built in the city.

Her sharp mind which had been racing for the past few minutes still had no solution to their dilemma and the situation was getting worse by the minute. Erik would probably only be able to shunt a few more times since this game of cat and mouse had been going on for about an hour. Outrunning the monsters was physically impossible and so the only option they had left was to hide and then teleport as soon as they were found. The extremely sharp hearing of the homunculi meant that trying to creep around would be unwise especially since Erik’s footsteps would be heavy due to fatigue. Once Erik reached his limit, which should be coming soon, they’d probably be stranded and have only the option of waiting to die. Calling Evangeline’s current emotional state ‘troubled’ would not do it justice.

“Oi, Eva.”

Her thoughts were interrupted by the weak voice of the young man next to her.

Erik Bancroft grunted, “I can’t keep this up much longer. A few more shunts -no, maybe even as little as three more and I’m out. We needed a plan before but we need one even more now. I’d rather we didn’t die here. ”

Of course, while good at complaining the fellow wasn’t very good at actually arriving at solutions in these kind of situations. Strategy wasn’t his strong point. Just as Eva had guessed however they were soon going to be in serious trouble though, that would be saying that their current situation could be counted as good in the first place.

Erik was dressed in an outfit similar to Eva’s .Both wore gray overcoats over white shirts and black jeans to match. Shoe-wise Eva wore grey slip-ons while Erik wore his preferred Nike high-tops. For the most part, it was the standard uniform of Les Sorciers.

Amongst the already few sorcerers, fewer still possess innate abilities from birth and as such are capable of performing magic ordinary ones could only hope to mimic. Erik’s innate teleportation magic was one of these irregularities. While powerful in its own right it left the 18 year old unable to master any other form without extreme difficulty and even then came with restrictions that atimes left him unable to teleport to his desired location without earlier preparation. Ordinarily teleporting out of the library and to the outside surroundings would work but this time they were hindered from picking that option by an external factor.

Numerous escape scenarios went through Eva’s mind. Using distractions, trying to take them down one at a time, her mind ran through all possibilities. None of her plans were practical and neither did they guarantee a fair amount of safety considering the risks involved in execution. The information received from their superior was wrong in the first place and so making optimistic assumptions would be suicidal.

Perhaps some higher supernatural being took pity on them, because at that moment Eva stumbled upon a possible method to solve their current dilemma.

The homunculi, prior to she and Erik’s arrival, had knocked down a mop bucket filled with water during their random destructive spree.


Water meant that Eva could use her most effective magic. It meant that there was a way out of the crappy situation. As her magic took hold of it she recalled all that had occurred that day.

The job was originally meant to be of fair difficulty. Only two objectives were given. The first being to capture a rogue alchemist going by the name of Xavier Truman and the second requiring the destruction of his creations.

Evangeline and Erik Bancroft could generally be called unbalanced magic users. They had definite advantages that could be seen as astounding for their ages yet in other areas they failed harder than average sorcerers. Regardless of this however, it was still to be a simple job.

They took the black 2005 Chevrolet they owned. Arriving at the library at 9pm they had no worry of regular humans as its convenient location on the outskirts of town and away from residential areas meant that it wasn’t a bad spot to cause a ruckus in. Eva had brought out her weapon, a grey gun modified, or rather created to shoot small needles charged with electricity supplied by her magic. Unlike a normal one it weighed far less and the fact that its ammo capacity was far greater than that of an actual pistol was one of its definite advantages. Normally she’d adjust its output to put less pain on the target but today however she hadn’t felt very nice. An illogical part of her wondered if the problem they faced was caused by karma getting back at her.

The aged alchemist known as Xavier Truman was wanted by their employers, Les Sorciers, for crimes against its members. It was one of the rare instances where they showed that even they could care. Generally sorcerers were apathetic when it came to the wellbeing of others, regular human beings and sorcerers alike. Using people as sacrifices, test subjects and the like was not exactly a crime. The creation of homunculi was in fact done using humans as research subjects in the first place. For such a ruthless organization they had few basic rules.

As long as none of the members of the association were harmed by others.

As long as no idiot sorcerer tried to reveal magic to the world.

And as long as no organization with potential to be greater than then was formed, they didn’t give a damn what happened. Eva and Erik’s job was to capture this idiot of the first kind and destroy his 3rd rate, incomplete creations.

3rd rate. Incomplete.

Yeah right. These opponents were nothing like that. Although mentally lacking, these were of the highest class when judged physically and not the harmless kind described to them by the association. Their physical capabilities allowed them to crush human skulls with a hand, their speed made them impossible to outrun, add that to the various martial arts programmed into them and it only took 11 minutes for the reasonably confident Erik and Eva to realize that they had no chance of beating the monsters.

In the first minute they realized that the primary target, Truman wasn’t present. The library was already significantly thrashed for an unknown reason and the homunculi looked reasonably stronger than they expected. The idea of retreat didn’t cross their minds though.

In the third minute they managed to incapacitate one of the originally six homunculi near the entrance with two shots from Eva. That fluke had them thinking the job would still be doable. Had the homunculi been registered to attack all visitors from the beginning instead of whoever attacked them, the duo would have suffered even more than they actually did.

In the fifth minute the homunculi showed their true strength. One of them disarmed Eva and crushed her weapon. Closing the 10 meter gap between them in a couple of seconds it would have crushed her throat as well had Erik not shunted her a few feet back. Realizing their error in judgment, retreat was the only sensible option left. Unfortunately, as though it was set in advance, another sorcerer’s magic was set up around the library to interfere with any magic targeted at the outer surroundings. Effectively trapping them in with no other means of escape apart from the heavy wooden front doors.

In the seventh minute after lots of shunting while still trying out methods to defeat them, one of the homunculi’s huge fists connected with Erik’s left arm cleanly splitting the bone in it. A direct punch from it again cracked 3 of his left ribs and would have at worst, killed him had he not teleported before it fully sank in.

The eleventh minute had them officially begin hide and seek against their foes as they finally accepted that couldn’t beat them.

And like that Erik and Eva were forced into a dangerous game. Simply teleporting to the door and running would have been an easy option if the homunculus they had taken down at first wasn’t situated there. Apparently the charge in the bullet she shot it with was only adequate to shut down its limbic functions. It could still alert the others via the basic telepathic link they all shared. If Erik and Eva were to appear in front of it its partners would arrive as a group in mere seconds with their enhanced speed and take them down with utter ruthlessness.


Eva’s talent lay with manipulating electricity. In other aspects of magic she was downright average but in this one area she was at a level that could be regarded as superb. The main problem with using this form of magic for offense was simply that conductors of electricity weren’t exactly all around her. Air is naturally a horrible conductor and so throwing bolts at them was impossible without huge output, not to mention that her already scanty magic power would be severely reduced afterwards. The water that spilled was her and Erik’s lifeline.

Simple telekinesis magic was within range of her repertoire. Executing several simple spells she managed to gain control of the liquid. Pulling it towards herself afterwards, she infused it with a reasonably large charge suitable for crippling the non-humans. Eva sent the magically charged water towards her first target, the homunculi at the edge of the group of five which was currently walking towards their end. Taking it around bookshelves and flowing to the feet of one of the approaching homunculi. Creeping up its heavy black boots into its trousers and…….

The result was fantastic.

Homunculus number one seized up immediately and convulsed as it fell heavily onto the floor. Its unexpected defeat made the remaining four go defensive. Their intelligence while poor could at least conclude that they were under attack, even though no enemy was sighted.

“Yes!” celebrated Eva a bit too loudly.

The slightly above whisper statement was enough to give the homunculi who were halfway across the library knowledge of their location. Sure enough they appeared at the point in mere seconds. To their disappointment, if they could feel such, all that met their eyes were books on the cat with the hat. The deadly game continued as Erik had teleported himself and Eva to another location once again. The same way he had done 37 times prior.

“Could you shut up next time?” He complained bitterly but quietly. There wasn’t much chance of them hearing him from the other side of the building. “This isn’t easy you know.”

“My bad, my bad…..” Eva said in a slightly loud whisper “Didn’t think it’d work so well.” She beamed.

“Ah well, just don’t do it again. I suppose we have a way out?” Broken arms were more than just painful. With his occasional lapses in concentration he relied on Eva to alert him whenever the non-humans came close. He could however still detect the faint magic Eva used, even though he couldn’t tell what it was.

“Yup.” She said smiling.

“Good because next time is probably the last one. I feel like I might lose consciousness at any moment. ”

And like that Eva was shaken from her brief euphoria.

Four to go.

The same technique was used again. Once more she sent it around bookshelves so as to keep it out of their sight and once more a homunculus fell, reducing the number to 3. The situation was finally turning around and while hope wasn’t exactly shining brightly in their faces, there was at least the possibility of survival. If she could take down one more before teleporting with Erik again, then quickly finishing the remainder and rushing Erik to the hospital for treatment would be possible. Unlike humans whose nerves can recover completely from electric shocks after a few minutes, most homunculi have their limbic nervous system ruined due to their imperfect makeup, as such; there was no need to worry about time for the others to recover.

And then Erik coughed. Loudly.

On a normal day while the library was still in use, due to the slight hum of air conditioners and the sound of people walking through the pathways such a slight sound wouldn’t be heard. To an inhuman enemy with enhanced hearing in the dead of night however it was loud enough.

Once more the homunculi rushed to their location and once more they found nothing. The difference between this time and the previous ones was that this would be the last. They resumed their unintelligent search and in a few minutes they’d find their prey once again.

For a moment there was nothing said between the two cousins.

“I know that it’s probably useless to say it, but I’m sorry.” Erik wore a regretful expression. “That was probably the last chance we had but I messed it up.” Erik Bancroft wasn’t very good at apologizing to strangers. Much less towards those that he knew. Evangeline could tell that he was truly apologetic but that didn’t really help the situation.

“Stop apologizing, it doesn’t seem like you.” Eva continued in a low voice “It can’t be helped anymore. I have to speed things up.”

That was easier said than done considering that pulling the trick thrice before the homunculi crossed to the end of the 200 meter hall was an unbelievable stretch considering her abilities. Though the magic she used was of only average difficulty, her low reserves of magic power made creating a suitable charge difficult.

“One more.” She whispered to Erik. “Can you teleport once more?”

He shook his head “I can’t take us anywhere again. I’m too drained so the magic will fail. Right now it’s difficult to even concentrate.” To the calculating group known as sorcerers, logic could be the cruelest of things to hear atimes.

“Just you.” Eva stated simply.

“Self-sacrifice?” Erik answered after a 10 second long silence “I’m not going to abandon my only cousin. Come up with a new pla-”

“No no no you have it wrong.” She lowered her voice since the homunculi were getting closer “If we suddenly separate we might be able to confuse them for a split second.” She continued “All at once without any distractions and I’ll die so fast it won’t be funny. But if you appear at the other end as soon as they gang up on me then we might startle them enough for me to stun two. Catch my drift?”

“And the third?” Erik asked. Even if that could solve the situation it didn’t change the fact that three homunculi currently existed and not two.

“Already taken care of.” As she smiled Erik heard a thump as one of the remaining homunculi landed on the floor electrocuted. Her water trick had done it again.

The future actually looked rosy now.

“Not bad at all.” He smiled.

“Yeah I know. So are we doing this?”

Erik nodded.

“Okay then, they’ll be here soon. I’ll jump out while you teleport to the other side and come out as soon as I shout. Make some noise when you do so they actually notice. I don’t really feel like dying today.”

“Sure.” And like that Erik was gone without a sound. Teleportation could be practically noiseless if the user wanted it to be.

Within a minute the homunculi would arrive. Gathering up the last dregs of her magic she set about preparing a spell to defeat the two. Constructing the spell for channeling electricity towards her palms without frying her nerves was simple for her due to her talent in the area though it might have been a different case for others. Watching the large clock she could see on her left Evangeline counted down until the moment she jumped out.

10 seconds till then. She was sure that Erik was watching from the other side and waiting for his cue.

8 seconds. She suddenly felt a bit more scared than she was before. Actually she was downright terrified. What if they were faster than she assumed? What if the charge wasn’t powerful enough?

5 seconds. No, even if they were faster touching both of them even if a few bones were broken before they could finish her off was enough. The current charge was in fact using all her remaining magic energy. If it didn’t work then there was never any hope. In any case the charge she had bound to the water previously wasn’t much higher.

3 seconds. Their footsteps were even heavier and more irregular than before. Were they running here? No it was impossible. Nothing had changed. It was probably her fear trying to talk her out of it. She could even hear slight thumps.

1 second. She was a solid atheist but she prayed.

Jumping out of her hiding spot with utter abandonment she stretched out her charged hands which caused the air to crackle. Her palms flew straight out in fear, determination and focus with the aim of incapacitating the two targets. It was a perfect surprise attack, one not even the reflexes of the artificial humans would react to.

So of course, the fact that her palms didn’t connect with anything at all was a huge surprise.

The homunculi were gone.

“Wha-” before she could recover from her confusion a palm on her back pushed her with enough force to send her flying several meters and hitting a bookshelf. She dropped to her knees after impact.

They got behind me!?

How? When? Why?

They shouldn’t have done anything unusual. Their programming was incomplete and so coming up with a plan was impossible for them. What did she overlook? What could she possibly have assumed wrongly? The arrangement of the bookshelves? Their pace perhaps? Eva painfully adjusted her posture to properly face the homunculus that had pushed her. Her back felt numb but nothing was broken.
Half in stupor and half in resignation to her apparent fate she could only ask……


The answer to that was the guy in black.

Fit jeans, combat boots, a plain shirt and an overcoat, all were in a black that was as deep as his hair.

Another one?

No, he was human. For one thing he had hair. For another the trademark pale skin of the homunculi didn’t match his slight tan.

But how could he have pushed her so far? Magic? She indeed felt a bit of it coming from him. Then again, she felt a bit from the homunculi as well.
What exactly was he? A sorcerer should have other means of handling the situation. In the first place why did she even assume that he was on her side?

“What the hell went wrong?” It was Erik running, or rather stumbling towards her clutching his broken arm. Even after a while he didn’t hear a sound from Anna. On the contrary he heard dull thumps.

He tried to lift her up. Supporting her with only his right arm was more difficult than he thought. Looking at her he realized that the reason she was so heavy was because she wasn’t even trying to stand. Her eyes were fixed on something in front of her.

Perhaps due to his initial panic Erik forgot about the noise that started during his run to Eva. Crashes and thumps were drowned out by the loud beating of his heart and fear clouded his reasoning. For a reasonably injured individual he could be praised for not arriving later than he did. The moment he turned towards what she was looking at however, he was equally as shocked.

The guy in black was taking on the two homunculi by himself.

Artificial humans are built according to various standards. Some act as servants for sorcerers, some act as body guards and some are used in experiments as substitutes for human beings. In any case, most homunculi possess basic strength that no human can hope to match with training. All the exercise in the world can’t overcome that wall. No amount of talent can allow a human being to see through and continuously dodge the attacks of a being primed for combat.

But the fellow before them was taking on two.

Their attacks, neat and synchronized yet so quick that Erik and Eva couldn’t make out all of them were being perfectly parried and dodged by the person in front of them. The strength of his punches and chops was enough to faze even the toughened bodied of his opponents. He had no set style. Rather it was as though he used more than one. His stances when seen by the duo were flexible. Western and eastern martial arts blending into one lethal form. Moves so calculated that it was as though he could see the future. Ordinary practitioners would have trouble mixing such varied moves but he clearly wasn’t an ordinary one. The male not much older or younger than them was entrancing. As though he was an untouchable being none of the homunculi’s blows landed.

“Hey, let’s go.” Erik had broken out of the trance he too was momentarily trapped in. Opportunism was one of his proud fortes.

Eva nodded her head. Their savior, if he could be called that, had drawn the attention of the homunculi to himself. Escaping now while they were off their backs would be the best choice. Leaning on each other as both were too weak to stand properly the two made their way out of the library they almost died in as the sound of clashes between the homunculi and the stranger inside dimmed.

The air outside was cool though it was summer. The Chevrolet was parked around five blocks away from the library. Old, deserted buildings surrounded it and the place could be said to be a sort of ghost town. Over the years people had moved out of this area and into the main city close by. The library was one of the last facilities to have its contents transferred into the new one in the Madison, Wisconsin.

“I think we cut it really close this time.” Erik said breaking the silence after they walked into the car park. A slight smile formed on his face as he said so.

“Yeah well, I guess it was our lucky day. From now on whenever we see something weird on the job we’re turning back. No pushing on because we have nothing better to do.” She straightened up her shoulders “By the way you’re driving.”

“With a broken arm? You can’t be serious. I teleported us all around that place almost every two minutes. You barely did any work.”
“Ugh. Fine then I’ll dri-”

Eva stopped talking. Erik also froze. It’s a known proverb that one shouldn’t count their chickens before they hatch but they could be forgiven for their shock given the situation.

Murderer of 3 sorcerers belonging to the sorcerers’ association, Xavier Truman was standing less than ten meters in front of them in a checkered grey shirt and brown shorts. Bald just like his creations but with the slightly stooping frame of the old man that he was, the alchemist was here to finish the job his homunculi couldn’t.

“You escaped.” His croaky voice came out in a surprised tone “Not bad at all for some youngsters.”

“I’d avoid troubling you youngsters you see, but I can’t exactly have you telling Les Sorciers about my slightly tuned-up children.” His words were coated with murderous intent and reaching into his pocket he pulled out a metallic rod.

“Any last words?” he asked. He wasn’t one to talk much to those he was about to kill, but he wasn’t one to avoid basic courtesy either.

The two were silent. After finally escaping the death game a few moments ago they were going to die at the hands of their target. Had it been prior to their entrance into the library they would easily have put down the elderly man. Right now they were too exhausted to fight back or even run away. Magic wouldn’t come to them no matter how hard they wished for it.

It was like a bad joke. There were no words for those.

“Very well then, I’ll make it quick.” The tip of the metallic rod glowed with red light. It was like something out of a Harry Potter novel. In a moment, beams would pass through a part of their bodies, presumably their hearts, and kill them.

The beam never came though because the old man’s lower jaw was dislocated with a high speed punch from the guy in black.

Truman instantly collapsed with the beautifully executed K.O and fell to the floor limp. Erik and Eva looked at the person in front of them. Twice their savior now, he was unlikely to be an enemy. Not that if he was they’d be able to put up any resistance.

The young man took in a deep breath and let it out.

“Thank goodness he wasn’t much trouble. Those things in the library really took a lot out of me.” He panted heavily.

Turning his attention from the collapsed alchemist on the floor he faced the two young sorcerers who stood speechless.

“You should really learn to at least thank people when they help you. You’ll look rude when you run without saying anything.”

The stranger didn’t receive any reply from the two shocked teens.

“You know? ‘Thank you’. You could at least say that before you leave.”

Even with that neither Eva nor Erik said a word.

The stranger clad in black sighed once more.

“I’m Gideon. And you are?”

June 7th, 2016, 09:28 PM

You have some very nicely penned lines in here, eg: "the scant electric supply was not enough to power anything but the lights to a dim glow"; "at the moment they could give their thanks to Dr. Seuss." (I chuckled at that); "It was like a bad joke. There were no words for those." I could go on. Oh, and I thought your opening line was perfect! Truer words were never spoken, eh? It all sounds like a very exciting premise, which in my view is most of the battle. Without that, progress is hard.

But I have to say I struggled a fair whack here, largely because you're using alot of very describey description: "there was", "it had", and the action is kind of wooden and robotic and an example of excess "telling" in place of "showing". The examples I put in the first line here are how to do it, because you are not saying "It was dim" but "scant electricity", "dim glow" - you paint a great picture there so try and use that skill elsewhere. It's a real trick, and not immediately obvious, but you can clearly do it, so once you master it it makes writing that much more of a joy imo :)

For example, this:

The light dust which had gathered on the shelves occasionally rose into her nose, causing her irritation.

is too much trivial info. Have her try and suppress a sneeze into her sleeve or something, causing dust to whirl about in the shelf, for example; that way you convey character action/body language, and thereby mood, at the same time as building out the world. There are some other examples of excessive wordiness, some containing inconsistency. For example, the first two paragraphs led me to believe that Evangelina was in some way thinking in this voice - perhaps she has Aspergers' or is an automaton, so I was willing to let it all slide. This is supported by the third paragraph:

Then again, ‘normal’ was not a term that could accurately describe her and her partner.

And okay, I was ready to be dazzled by what weirdness she might bring. But then you say "a conventional female sorcerer" and bang, I am down to earth with a whump. Elsewhere she is simply an eighteen year old redhead with a ponytail. If she is not normal, then let rip and let us see how odd she is. Otherwise let us relate to her, let us know someone like her, so we can bind in and start caring what she does and what happens to her.

Another inconsistency is the homunculi. A homunculus (an homunculus?) is typically a very small entity, but these guys are seven-footers.

Another is:The numerous hiding spots created by the arrangement were the only thing that kept the duo safe -
numerous stuff doesn't lend itself to being "the only thing", but rather "several things". It sounds like they have lots of stuff to hide behind. My point is just visualise your world as you visualise it, and don't let easy turns of phrase tell you otherwise ;)

One thing to think about is point of view. Typically writers try and stay with a particular character for a particular period of time because it is that character's story or scene. We are that person, doing what they do. Who are we here? Evangelina? Then give us her voice, her impressions of things. With that in mind, things like:

"The large town library had over 3 dozen bookshelves set behind the reading furniture which was put just after the entrance."

don't quite work because there we are, running about, trying to avoid these homunculi before suddenly pondering library layouts and "reading furniture" that we have no interest in and have quite possibly never seen or thought about! ;) Want to depict the scene? Have her interact, interact, interact. Have her stumble on the reading furniture (whatever that is). Have her peer through three shelves' worth of Dr. Seuss (ok, maybe he wasn't that prolific but you take my point), ducking as - did that homunculus catch her eye? Set the scene by describing it in the context of that character whose POV we are in, and things they would notice and deal with. Objects are props. Use 'em. You are God in this world. Need a handy paperweight/rubber ducky/anything for Erik to fling across the library to fool his pursuers. Pop one out of thin air. Use your power for whatever you want.

Another point to note also is how you do numbers. There is, here, a mix of digits and spelled out numbers ("Evangeline, an 18 year old girl", "In the seventh minute"). I think generally, numbers get spelled out unless there's a compelling reason for not doing so, eg years, large numbers, etc. But that's quite cosmetic.

Couple more gotcha's:

“Yes!” celebrated Eva a bit too loudly.

Watch for over-the-top dialogue tags ("celebrated" in tis case). That was lies “My dear Holmes!” I ejaculated type Sherlockian pronouncements. Why not tag it with a relevant action:

"Yes!" Eva pounded her palm with a fist, before looking around her, head bent low as the sound echoed off the domed ceiling of the library.

Sorry, I feel like I've been really harsh but hopefully my points can help, a little. You've got all the data here as I say so that's that done. Now, you can either finish off the whole thing and then re-edit, or re-edit now. Entirely up to you. If the latter, then here's a challenge: try writing the bit from "Thank God for books" and "... becoming their predators", but solely from Evangelina's point of view. Be her. Think about using what she perceives as ways to flesh out your world / scenario / scene and bring it to life without using "there was", "it had" or other constructs like that. Think about what she interacts with as ways to convey her state of mind and the mood of the situation while painting a vivid picture. Also convey subtly the fact that she can do magic. Make your words themselves do magic, the way you do in those lines I mentioned. Good luck! :)