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Young Adult Science Fiction - Laura Neibaur - BLOOD OF THE BELLFLOWER SERIES - BOOK 1: THE SIFTING


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CHAPTER ONE (REVISED)

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                   

CHAPTER 1

 

Hild looked down the shaft of his arrow through a small gap in the foliage, then readjusted his hand on the grip. He felt his heart beating in his fingers as they held the nock of the arrow just behind the blue and gold fletching. He crouched, ready, waiting, and fearful, for today, the Sifting Ceremony began. Hild watched in mute horror as the dark-armored guards appeared, dragging a young girl from a nearby tent. They shoved her toward the center of the large, circular courtyard and dropped her at the base of a polished stone altar shaped like a bellflower with its petals, like a mouth, cradling the marble platform. Hild recognized the girl.

Razzia!

His heart sank, and an overwhelming feeling of guilt and crushing agony descended upon him. She looked fragile, diminished when she had once been vibrant and full of life.

Many of the gathered spectators decried the scene while dozens of armed guards pushed against the riotous throng gathered in the square. A group of angry citizens took up stones and hurled them at the guards while shouting obscenities. Surrounding onlookers made a wide birth as three guards leaped over the wall, flanked the rebellious men, and then began to beat them until they dropped in forced submission beneath blows from sword hilts and armored fists.

The soldiers dragged the rebel's limp bodies in a trailing cloud of dust through the courtyard and strung them up against a stone wall with the other Sifting candidates who waited in trepidation for the extraction process. 

Hild's eyes locked onto the High Shaw, who walked with imperious detachment toward Razzia. The Shaw gestured to the guards, who lifted her wilted body onto the granite altar and chained her wrists above her head.

Hundreds of rebel defectors waited behind Hild in the undergrowth, watching the proceedings, impatient for the unseen boundary to open and the sign to be given. After the sign, they would storm the camp and raid the courtyard, but this would not happen until blood had been spilled—Razzia's blood.

                                                           

 

           

                                                                              ***

 

 

            Hild sat up from the dream, startled, panting for breath, and bathed in sweat. He felt the solid earth beneath his hands. He looked around him and exhaled. “What the devil was that?” He muttered, getting to his feet. He shook his head again and blinked at the sunlight. Hild had experienced vivid dreams before, but none had ever felt so real and intense.

Stranger more, the terrifying dream sounded much like one that continued to torment Razzia. Dreams frequently plagued her with restless nights, but this particular dream seemed to have a more alarming effect, and now its corporality induced a strange and unsettling mood in Hild.

He had not seen Razzia in days and had hoped she would meet him in the orchards. He began to wonder where she was, but harvest time kept all the servants busy.

Hild determined to follow the orchard path to Tuz Vira and look in on Razzia before returning home. After giving himself a moment to readjust to the burning sunlight that had stained his cheeks and neck pink, Hild swung the leather satchel of plums over his shoulder and glanced up at the heavy branches of a damson plum tree. Green leaves curled like wreaths around blue and purple clusters of dark fruits.

The ominous dream continued to loom over his consciousness, making it difficult for Hild to discern reality from fantasy. Perhaps he still dreamt. He reached up and plucked a plum from the tree. It felt tangible enough in his fingers, but then so had the bow grip and feathered fletching. So had the searing feelings Hild experienced while watching Razzia chained to a stone altar by Segaeta guards.

 

Hild watched orange sunrays peak through thin mid-morning clouds that swept across thriving green orchards and hayfields beneath a boundless blue sky. His eyes followed the desert path toward the tiny village of Mijloc-Teren. Though he had never been that far outside the boundaries of his homeland, he somehow knew that his mind had been there moments before, in the Segaeta camp, witnessing the nightmarish ritual.

Hild decided to dismiss his dream, blaming it both on the result of Razzia’s constant prattling about her dream and the disturbing talk he had heard in the village. Nonetheless, he would stop at Tuz Vira on his way home, just to settle his state of mind.

Hild began to wonder how the normalcy of harvest could continue despite rumors of unusual and unprecedented occurrences this close to home. He wondered if there would be a harvest next fall, and even more, he worried about the news he had heard in the piaţă that day.

That morning, the market had brimmed with the usual commotion of bodies, circulating money, goods, and information. Hild had always found it irresistible to hear the market gossip and debate with the old men who gathered in the squares. But something about the dream, the Sifting, and the recent occupation of the Segaeta faction in Buclaminta had made rumors in the market more menacing.

 

Tineri, Hild’s favorite horse, pressed her velvety nose through stray patches of alfalfa. Hild stroked her mane, patted her strong neck, and breathed in the therapeutic earthy scent of horse coat and ripe plum orchards. These smells brought a sense of grounding and comfort.

            Then Hild heard a familiar voice, like notes of a bell, “Daydreaming again?” She asked.

            Hild turned with a half-grin at her wide smile. Only Razzia could sneak up and surprise him that way.

            “Oh no. You look annoyed. Did you sleep in the stables again last night?” She asked.

            “I did, but that is not the trouble.”

            “Then what is?”

            “I had a strange dream. In fact, much like yours, but from a different perspective. I am worried now,” Hild frowned.

            Razzia’s expression dropped, and a concerned furrow shadowed her usually radiant eyes – one green and one golden-brown. “Aha? You afraid it will come true, then.”

            “No.” Hild replied, “I am afraid of turning into a little theatrical demon-host with bad dreams every night. Like you?” He gave her a sporting smile.

            Razzia tightened her lips, “I do hate you, Hild. I do not host demons, and you deserve bad dreams, so you will stop pestering me about mine.”

            “I will stop pestering you if you stop talking about them. You are infecting me with your dream disorder.”

            Razzia rolled her eyes and then reached up and plucked a dark fruit from its stem. Hild could tell from her wind-blown hair that she had run through the fields from her estate that day. Like the mane of a Danube horse, her unrivaled dark hair flowed out from beneath a flowered garland with ribbons. Though unmarried, she had come of age and insisted on wearing a blue wool, colorfully embroidered, ponyova skirt to accentuate her maturity in contradiction of her youthful ways.

“Let me guess your bad dream.” Razzia took a bite of the plump little plum and then put a finger to her chin, “You lost a fight with Reinick. Or were you bedeviled by adventures out of your grasp? Pirate ships riding the Mavi Sea on the coast of Zbura? Or surviving the haunted Bântuit forest?”

Hild swung himself onto the dapple-gray mare. “Do you need a ride home, little demon?”

Razzia looked hurt. “I just got here?” She pointed behind her, “I ran all the way from Tuz Vira.”

Hild grinned and shrugged, “The bucatar sent me to the piaţă for fowl meat. I had better not be late, or Antal will lose his temper. Then I need to help harvest, and I have two colts right now.” Hild murmured, “Reinick fed the new arrivals twice yesterday instead of letting them graze. Next time, I am trotting the blasted horses to his hallowed bed chambers, and he can babysit while they colic.” He raised an eyebrow at Razzia, “So, as you can see, I have a lot on my plate.” Razzia folded her arms in disappointment and made a pout with her lips, which warmed Hild. He sighed. “I suppose we could take a short ride before harvesting. Want to help in the orchards today? Or will Benca beat a stipe on your back?”

 

“I do not care if she does.” Razzia could not hide her excitement behind a curtain of expression if she tried. She hurried over to Tineri, and Hild pulled her up behind him. Tineri read Hild’s slight shift in the saddle and stepped through the orchard toward the stone-paved trail that wound between the elite Upper Boundary estates of the kingdom of Buclaminta.

“Do not go very fast, or let me fall off, Hild.” She said nervously.

He glanced behind him, “You could branch out of your boringness and learn to stay on by yourself. I could teach you. Tineri might appreciate it. Since you are so enormous, you know.”

“No thanks. I am quite happy with my enormous boringness. Any news from the posts in the piaţă?” She asked, “But please, nothing horrible about the Segaeta or Katona guards.”

“Oh, I see. Only the good news. We would not want to spoil your imaginings with any reality.”

Razzia wrapped her arms around Hild’s chest, “Absolutely not. My imagines can be terrible enough on their own, like my dreams. There is still some good news, is there not?” 

Hild did not answer. Somehow, life always went on, no matter the news, but Hild felt a distinct change in the air, though he hoped he was wrong.

 

Sour cherries and fresh fowl meat from the local piaţă jostled in the leather dublari at Tineri’s haunches. As they ascended the mountain path along the steep edge of a rugged cliff, Hild could see the rippling terrain of the Desert Noapte, like a glassy orange and black sea in the distance.

He recalled stories of desert tribes and unmarked paths across dangerous territories, but only warriors left Buclaminta, and only the best returned. “I should have led out with the warriors years ago,” Hild said sullenly. “Blasted ear.”

“You should thank your deaf ear. Plums and horses are important to you know.” Razzia replied.

“Plums and horses,” Hild grumbled.

“We are not going far, are we?” Razzia asked, glancing back toward Tuz Vira. “Kasyl does not like me to go far.”

“Razzia, if a hunting trail frightens you, we need to get you out of the kitchens more often.”

“I do not think you understand. Kasyl strictly forbade me to go beyond where I could see the estate. I disobey him enough on your account. Now turn us about, and let us go on that lovely veiled pathway we always take.”

Hild turned his head all the way around to look at Razzia, “You are not in earnest, are you? Do you think because you dreamed that leaving Tuz Vira would cause it to set fire, that it actually will?”

Razzia huffed, “I do not see any reason to be very far from home, that is all. Kasyl forbids it. And I do not like dark, frightening forests.” She stared at the black web of trees ahead.

“This is not the Bântuit, Razzia. It is just a hunting trail. The most terrifying creatures you will find are a red stag and the odd rabbit or fox.” And with that, Hild prompted Tineri toward the tunneled path.

“There it goes. It is gone.” Razzia said with irritation. “Poof. We have left the fields and orchards behind, and you are now breaking every rule of Kasyl’s. I shall never ride with you again.”

“It is just trees! You are such a stick in the mud about the rules. And no rule exists saying that you must be in view of your home at all times and never go in trees.”

Tineri pricked her ears but stayed steady as they curled along the path, darker and deeper into the forest that coiled into a tangled arch overhead. The pathway turned this way and that with a slight bump up and then a dip down and on until the opening from behind no longer offered its meager light. Unrestrained winds that had coiled across the orchards and fields now channeled into the wagon route and sang an eerie tune.

“I like rules,” Razzia meekly said as she glanced around her.

 “You like to make them up,” Hild mumbled.

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Hi Laura! Thanks for posting. Your writing is lovely, and I'm extremely intrigued by the world you're building here. I love the part with the Kadai guard--it shows immediately whom we should be sympathizing with. I have just a few suggestions, and do take them with several grains of salt as I'm still learning as well: 

-I want to live in this place, it sounds so beautiful (minus the slavery and cruel imperial guards, of course). Your descriptions are absolutely gorgeous. It might not be the most riveting way to start the chapter though. 

-Razya is mostly introduced through Hild thinking of her. It hints that Hild cares for her, and I like that, but the flashes to her feel the tiniest bit out of place.

-Hild knows that insubordination always comes at a price, yet he displays insolence to the Kadai. Maybe you could say that he knows insubordination always comes at a price, but he can't resist being mouthy?

-After kicking the Kadai down the hill, Hild rushes to reach the estate, presumably to alert Lord Krise to what has just happened. Obviously this wasn't his original plan as he wasn't planning on accidentally hurting/killing a Kadai, so I'm not sure what he was doing at first. 

-The end section with the conversation is a bit confusing and passive--I'm having trouble distinguishing all of the characters, and it doesn't seem like Hild is doing much more than just standing there and listening to them squabble. I understand that the conversation is meant to do some world-building, but maybe you can throw in some more thoughts/actions by Hild during it. The dialogue might flow better too if Lord Krise & co don't say "Hild" every time they address him. 

Thanks again for posting! I truly enjoyed reading your first chapter. If you ever need a beta reader, I'd be happy to do that for you. Unrelated, but I love the name Hild for some wild reason. 

Have an amazing day : )

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Hild was reminded of stories of desert tribes and unmarked paths across dangerous territories, but only warriors leave Buclaminta, and only the best return. Hild sighed.

I'm not sure why you changed tenses here "only warriors leave Buclaminta." It reads better to me to keep it in past tense. "only warriors left Buclaminta, and only the best of them returned" something like that. Also, I get from reading your opening that Hild is sighing because he is not a warrior but a slave and therefore cannot leave (is that right?) but I don't think that comes across alone. Could you put here something about how he's a slave? "only warriors left Buclaminta, and Hild was not a warrior" even would help.

 

The lowest boundary is for beggars, slave.

I'm a little confused about this. I thought at first he was in some sort of city and that there was a lower ring reserved for beggars, but then I was like no, he's on a mountain, but he's going up, he's ascending, so why does the guard tell him that the lowest boundary is for slaves?

The entire confrontation between Hild and the Kadai guard seemed almost too personal to me. The way they were interacting it felt like there should be some history between them, like this wasn't the first time Hild had confronted this guard, but the way it's written I don't see that. There needs to be something to explain each of their motivations at any rate. Why does Hild mouth off to this guard and fight back if he's just a slave? Right now it seems just to kick off the story, that there's no inherent logic to his actions. Like I said, I feel like this interaction would make a lot more sense if this Kadai guard and Hild had a hostile back and forth generally and this one time it got out of hand.

 

How does a trip through the desert to the Floarelands sound?

I am intrigued, trying to figure out how a trip through the desert to the Floarelands would be a punishment. Is it some ritual that slaves can be put through?

 

 Hild ducked and deflected the blow with his arm, then lunged toward the Kadai. Hild and the soldier rolled off their horses and hit the dusty road.

I don't ride horses so maybe this kind of jumping off of horses is imminently possible but it strikes me as the kind of thing a trained horseman could do. Is Hild such a trained horseman? Actually, this reminds me, does Hild own this horse? When the guard said it could cost him his horse I thought hmm Hild must be an educated or valuable or otherwise different sort of slave for him to own property himself. Is this true?

 

As he rode onto the lawn of the estate, Hild recognized a horse being tended by the stable help. Razya's face flashed through his mind at the sight. The horse belonged to the Sheehan, Kasyl, from the northwestern neighboring estate.

I don't get why Razya's face would flash through his mind. Is Razya from the northwestern neighboring estate too? I think you should include that detail in here if so. "The horse belonged… the northwestern neighboring estate where Razya lived as well" or something like that.

 

The interaction between Hild and his masters was very interesting! Totally different from what I was expecting. I feel like it explains more of the dynamic between the Kadai and Hild. I'm torn between suggesting that some of this context be included earlier so that it makes more sense when Hild has his fight "a Kadai guard, send by an enemy to patrol the lands of Hild's master" or whether the twist is better. I'm leaning towards more context/better explanation up front so Hild can be properly seen as a loyal slave of his master and just against this Kadai guard. Which would explain the horse too.

 

he dawned wavy auburn hair and a coarse beard.

I think donned is the word you're going for? Although I'm not sure how one dons hair growing on one's body.

 

Reinick scoffed, “Corovnica.” He muttered, rolling his eyes. A degenerate, worthless kingdom of less-than-humans.

I started to get confused at this point (up until the line “Hold your tongue Reinick.” His father reproached.) I think there's too much exposition. I like the line "they should all be Sifted" because it brings up obviously a main theme in your story, but introducing geopolitics at this point seems a bit too much too fast. Maybe someone can express anger at the Kadai guard saying he should be Sifted? To keep this introductory scene focused on the problem at hand?

Also, I lost sight of who Kasyl was. Is there a way to have his rank be indicated? Is he a visiting doctor? Why is he tending to a slave? The Sheehan sounds cool but it doesn't give me much of a sense of who he is compared to the other characters.

Reading a few lines ahead I see the reference "Sheehan warrior." If that could be pulled forward to the line "The horse belonged to the Sheehan warrior, Kasyl, from the northwestern neighboring estate." I think that would solve my confusion.

 

Lord Krise glanced uncomfortably between his sons and Kasyl, “I cannot. I am a simple steward, not a Sheehan warrior like yourself. I’m not equipped for much more than I already do. Kasyl, there is much at stake you know. I do implore you to reconsider your actions." He lowered his voice, "Her life here is rather comfortable, don’t you think? Are you willing to give up everything for your sentiments?”

From this paragraph on I find myself confused. There seems to be a lot of hinting about Ryaza and I think it would be better served if Hild just told us who she was. What does Ryaza have to do with politics? What does she have to do with Lord Krise being gone a lot lately? Also has everyone forgotten the Kadai guard? I think focusing on the one problem of the Kadai guard, and then maybe either introducing one more problem, like who Ryaza is/where she's been, or the kingdoms and who belongs to which kingdom, would be better. If you're going to introduce the Kadai guard I would choose to lay out who belongs to which kingdom (like the Kadai come from the Saegaeta but Hild and his masters come from XXX) and not mention Ryaza at all. Although I get that she's your main character but honestly she seems shoehorned into this first scene.

 

Conclusion: Your details are amazing. Your prose is extremely easy to read which I normally do not find to be the case when the details are so vivid. I could picture everything without getting caught up on what I was picturing. I think I struggled mostly with feeling confused with character motivation which can't be shown so I'd go on and tell us a bit more about why each character cares about what he cares about.

Question: Where is this set again? Is it secondary world fantasy?

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On 4/9/2021 at 10:42 AM, MingluJiangP6 said:

Hi Laura! Thanks for posting. Your writing is lovely, and I'm extremely intrigued by the world you're building here. I love the part with the Kadai guard--it shows immediately whom we should be sympathizing with. I have just a few suggestions, and do take them with several grains of salt as I'm still learning as well: 

-I want to live in this place, it sounds so beautiful (minus the slavery and cruel imperial guards, of course). Your descriptions are absolutely gorgeous. It might not be the most riveting way to start the chapter though. (Thanks Minglu. I was hoping that the scene where he is attacked by the guard would be close enough to be beginning to make it more interesting. Maybe I put too much "scenery" before the attack. Do you think it's too boring and I should move things around or open with more action?)

-Razya is mostly introduced through Hild thinking of her. It hints that Hild cares for her, and I like that, but the flashes to her feel the tiniest bit out of place. (I worried about that. Visions for Hild become part of the plot, but maybe out of place in the very first scene. I was hoping to introduce his relationship to her clearly before it jumps to the chapter where she escapes Buclaminta. I did change the first few paragraphs to try and amend that.)

-Hild knows that insubordination always comes at a price, yet he displays insolence to the Kadai. Maybe you could say that he knows insubordination always comes at a price, but he can't resist being mouthy? (Thanks, I tried to work on that sentence as well. Not sure I did what you were thinking needed to be done though.)

-After kicking the Kadai down the hill, Hild rushes to reach the estate, presumably to alert Lord Krise to what has just happened. Obviously this wasn't his original plan as he wasn't planning on accidentally hurting/killing a Kadai, so I'm not sure what he was doing at first. (Ok, so Hild was on his way back from the Piata -market - and stopped by the orchards for a view. I tried to clear this up as well)

-The end section with the conversation is a bit confusing and passive--I'm having trouble distinguishing all of the characters, and it doesn't seem like Hild is doing much more than just standing there and listening to them squabble. I understand that the conversation is meant to do some world-building, but maybe you can throw in some more thoughts/actions by Hild during it. The dialogue might flow better too if Lord Krise & co don't say "Hild" every time they address him. (I agree, I worked on this too. I actually deleted an entire character from the first chapter. I may even delete the brother Reinick that stomps in on them. Do you think the dialogue would be best left between Hild and the two Sheehan Lords?)

Thanks again for posting! I truly enjoyed reading your first chapter. If you ever need a beta reader, I'd be happy to do that for you. Unrelated, but I love the name Hild for some wild reason. (Thanks, I would love a beta reader, and I'm happy to do the same.)

Have an amazing day : )

 

On 4/9/2021 at 2:16 PM, JINJUP6RICHARDS said:

Hild was reminded of stories of desert tribes and unmarked paths across dangerous territories, but only warriors leave Buclaminta, and only the best return. Hild sighed.

I'm not sure why you changed tenses here "only warriors leave Buclaminta." It reads better to me to keep it in past tense. "only warriors left Buclaminta, and only the best of them returned" something like that. Also, I get from reading your opening that Hild is sighing because he is not a warrior but a slave and therefore cannot leave (is that right?) but I don't think that comes across alone. Could you put here something about how he's a slave? "only warriors left Buclaminta, and Hild was not a warrior" even would help. (Yes, wants to travel, but I didn't make that clear. I tried to work on that scene and help the reader understand his motives a little better.) 

 

The lowest boundary is for beggars, slave.

I'm a little confused about this. I thought at first he was in some sort of city and that there was a lower ring reserved for beggars, but then I was like no, he's on a mountain, but he's going up, he's ascending, so why does the guard tell him that the lowest boundary is for slaves? (You are right. That is confusing. I hope I fixed that. He is heading for home in the Upper Boundary. The elite estates. He was coming from the orchards farther down the mountain. The lowest boundary (described later) is for the commoners and also beggars.

The entire confrontation between Hild and the Kadai guard seemed almost too personal to me. The way they were interacting it felt like there should be some history between them, like this wasn't the first time Hild had confronted this guard, but the way it's written I don't see that. There needs to be something to explain each of their motivations at any rate. Why does Hild mouth off to this guard and fight back if he's just a slave? Right now it seems just to kick off the story, that there's no inherent logic to his actions. Like I said, I feel like this interaction would make a lot more sense if this Kadai guard and Hild had a hostile back and forth generally and this one time it got out of hand. (I changed this scene so that its clear that the Kadai guards have a problem with anyone lower than them. Especially anyone that looks like they are foreign. It's hard to stay out of trouble with the Kadai in Buclaminta. Their job seems to be to torment the lower classes.)

 

How does a trip through the desert to the Floarelands sound?

I am intrigued, trying to figure out how a trip through the desert to the Floarelands would be a punishment. Is it some ritual that slaves can be put through? (The Floarelands is not talked about until quite a few chapters in, but it is a forbidden topic, and there's a lot rumor and confusion surrounding the goings on of the Floarelands. But...yes, they are NOT a place anyone wants to go, especially a slave/servant.)

 

 Hild ducked and deflected the blow with his arm, then lunged toward the Kadai. Hild and the soldier rolled off their horses and hit the dusty road.

I don't ride horses so maybe this kind of jumping off of horses is imminently possible but it strikes me as the kind of thing a trained horseman could do. Is Hild such a trained horseman? Actually, this reminds me, does Hild own this horse? When the guard said it could cost him his horse I thought hmm Hild must be an educated or valuable or otherwise different sort of slave for him to own property himself. Is this true? (My sister trains horses professionally and I ended up calling her about this one, so thank you! If the horses were close enough for the guard to hit Hild, then Hild could have risen in his stirrups and lunged at the guard. I did amend the scene a little to help this. And Hild, is actually highly trained with the horses. That is one of his jobs. He was also given lots of unsanctioned warrior training, but that is discussed later in the chapter. Hild finds out very quickly that he is not the orphaned servant he thought he was, and yes, receives some privileges because of it.)

 

As he rode onto the lawn of the estate, Hild recognized a horse being tended by the stable help. Razya's face flashed through his mind at the sight. The horse belonged to the Sheehan, Kasyl, from the northwestern neighboring estate.

I don't get why Razya's face would flash through his mind. Is Razya from the northwestern neighboring estate too? I think you should include that detail in here if so. "The horse belonged… the northwestern neighboring estate where Razya lived as well" or something like that. (I fixed this scene as well. I sometimes forget that I know who everyone is, but no one else does! Razya is a servant/slave from the neighboring estate and Kasyl is her master. This was a big plot point that I changed from my original version before the conference. In my first version, Razya was the daughter of a Sheehan, but I needed that to change and it's been hard changing her entire upbringing to a servant.)

 

The interaction between Hild and his masters was very interesting! Totally different from what I was expecting. I feel like it explains more of the dynamic between the Kadai and Hild. I'm torn between suggesting that some of this context be included earlier so that it makes more sense when Hild has his fight "a Kadai guard, send by an enemy to patrol the lands of Hild's master" or whether the twist is better. I'm leaning towards more context/better explanation up front so Hild can be properly seen as a loyal slave of his master and just against this Kadai guard. Which would explain the horse too.

(I am still trying to decide how much privilege Hild should be given by his master. He is living the life of a servant in this great estate, hidden there from birth for his safety. His family is from Corovnica though, and he was the son of a very prestigious and important character we meet later on.)

he dawned wavy auburn hair and a coarse beard.

I think donned is the word you're going for? Although I'm not sure how one dons hair growing on one's body. (Yep that was bad! And you're right. Donned is not the right word.)

 

Reinick scoffed, “Corovnica.” He muttered, rolling his eyes. A degenerate, worthless kingdom of less-than-humans.

I started to get confused at this point (up until the line “Hold your tongue Reinick.” His father reproached.) I think there's too much exposition. I like the line "they should all be Sifted" because it brings up obviously a main theme in your story, but introducing geopolitics at this point seems a bit too much too fast. Maybe someone can express anger at the Kadai guard saying he should be Sifted? To keep this introductory scene focused on the problem at hand? (I agree. I think there was too much information that was unnecessary being squashed into the first chapter.)

Also, I lost sight of who Kasyl was. Is there a way to have his rank be indicated? Is he a visiting doctor? Why is he tending to a slave? The Sheehan sounds cool but it doesn't give me much of a sense of who he is compared to the other characters.

Reading a few lines ahead I see the reference "Sheehan warrior." If that could be pulled forward to the line "The horse belonged to the Sheehan warrior, Kasyl, from the northwestern neighboring estate." I think that would solve my confusion. (I tried to pull that forward for you. That was good insight.)

 

Lord Krise glanced uncomfortably between his sons and Kasyl, “I cannot. I am a simple steward, not a Sheehan warrior like yourself. I’m not equipped for much more than I already do. Kasyl, there is much at stake you know. I do implore you to reconsider your actions." He lowered his voice, "Her life here is rather comfortable, don’t you think? Are you willing to give up everything for your sentiments?”

From this paragraph on I find myself confused. There seems to be a lot of hinting about Ryaza and I think it would be better served if Hild just told us who she was. What does Ryaza have to do with politics? What does she have to do with Lord Krise being gone a lot lately? Also has everyone forgotten the Kadai guard? I think focusing on the one problem of the Kadai guard, and then maybe either introducing one more problem, like who Ryaza is/where she's been, or the kingdoms and who belongs to which kingdom, would be better. If you're going to introduce the Kadai guard I would choose to lay out who belongs to which kingdom (like the Kadai come from the Saegaeta but Hild and his masters come from XXX) and not mention Ryaza at all. Although I get that she's your main character but honestly she seems shoehorned into this first scene. (Ok, I tried to clarify some this. I agree, lots going on that is unnecessary. I was trying to get it all out before the Razya scene because we don't come back to this setting with Hild for a little while. I'll try to fit in only the most important elements and delete the rest.)

Conclusion: Your details are amazing. Your prose is extremely easy to read which I normally do not find to be the case when the details are so vivid. I could picture everything without getting caught up on what I was picturing. I think I struggled mostly with feeling confused with character motivation which can't be shown so I'd go on and tell us a bit more about why each character cares about what he cares about.

Question: Where is this set again? Is it secondary world fantasy? This is set in the distant future of Eastern Europe...this particular scene takes place on what was once Romania. They move south and west from there. I really want to use language and customs accurate to the area, but I also want to make it clear to the reader that things have changed since today, and the cultures and kingdoms have been meshed, split, re-meshed, and even the terrain and climate in areas has changed some.

Thanks so much Jinju. I appreciate your keen eye! 

 

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Thank you Jinju! I'm wondering if my first chapter is a little boring? Or at least the first scenes? 

 

CHAPTER 1

THE KADAI

 

It was just days into harvest and Hild's neck and cheeks were already stained pink from the sun. He swung the leather satchel of plums over his shoulder and glanced up at the heavy branches above-head. Blue and purple clusters of dark fruits were wreathed in curling, green leaves.

Orange rays peaked through thinning mid-morning clouds that swept across thriving green orchards and hayfields, beneath a boundless blue sky. The sight saddened Hild. How could war and ruin be so close to Buclaminta and the beauty of harvest still abound? He wondered if there would even be a harvest next year.

While Hild stood enjoying the view, a brief vision materialized in his mind. It was Razya, standing in the damson plum orchard beside him, as she had done a thousand times. Her dark hair framed her face and shoulders. She turned and her eyes seemed to pierce right through his. The vision vanished and Hild took a deep breath. He had thought of her a lot lately, though they hadn't seen each other in days. Harvest had kept all the servants busy.

Tineri pressed her velvety nose through stray patches of alfalfa to find the sweet new grass. Hild swung himself onto the dapple-gray mare and patted her neck. She read his slight shift in the saddle and stepped through the orchard toward the stone-paved trail that wound between the elite Upper Boundary estates of the kingdom of Buclaminta.

Sour cherries and fresh fowl meat from the local piaţă jostled in the leather dublari at Tineri's haunches. Hild had been sent by the head bucatar in search of the best fruits and cuts in the market. He hoped to see Razya when he returned to the orchards that afternoon, and discuss the rumors he'd heard in the village.

As they ascended the mountain path along the steep edge of a rugged cliff, Hild could see the rippling terrain of the Desert Noapte, like a glassy, orange sea in the distance. Hild was reminded of stories of desert tribes and unmarked paths across dangerous territories, but only warriors would leave Buclaminta, and only the best would return. Hild sighed. He had been bereft of family ties early in life and was born with one deaf ear, which made him unsuitable for proper warrior training. Although, with recent threats from the western kingdom of Corovnica, they might conscript anyone.

Lush, green dog-rose bushes climbed the trunks of silver poplars, and thin rays of sun crept through a network of branches, creating a spectacular mosaic of buttery light on the path.

While Hild was distracted by the landscape, a mounted Kadai guard appeared unexpectedly on the path in front of him. Both horses arched and shied away with flared nostrils.

“La naiba! Stupid boy.” the Kadai yelled, unsheathing his sword. “Watch where you’re going.”

Hild could smell the strong scent of tsuica on the Kadai's breath. "I'm sorry sir, I didn't see you." He lowered his head.

But the ill-tempered Kadai was not satisfied. The guard tilted his head back and spit on Hild’s face. Heat rushed to Hild’s cheeks and he made the critical mistake of wiping the spittle with his hand and glancing up as the soldier passed.

Before he could react, the Kadai slammed his sword hilt into the bridge of Hild’s nose. Hild arced backward off of Tineri and hit the ground. Blood trickled into the back of Hild’s throat, and he sat up coughing and spat bitter saliva onto the dirt.

“Don’t raise your head to me.” The Kadai shouted. “Do you know your place now, slave boy? You know how much we hate your kind. Good for nothing foreigners! What are you doing on a horse like that anyway? Steal it did you? Now, clean up the mess you made on this path before I make it bigger.”

Hild wiped his nose on his sleeve and reached for his duffle to replace the scattered fruits. He tried to steady his breath and keep anger from corrupting his calm façade. He put the leather strap across his chest and kicked dirt and pebbles over the dark red puddle. Blood dangled in a stream from Hild’s nose and chin as he re-mounted Tineri.

The Kadai gaped at Hild. “Are you deaf, slave boy? I asked if you know your place?”

Hild knew insubordination always comes at a price, but he never mastered the ability to bridle his frustrations with the imperial guards. Hild grinned, “As a matter of fact, I am partially deaf. Would you mind repeating your question…in the right ear?”

The Kadai’s mouth hovered open, and his face went as red as simca. “This could cost you your life in the Upper Boundary, slave boy. How does a trip through the desert to the Floarelands sound?”

Hild watched the Kadai edge closer and raise his sword above his head. His round, manic eyes were pinned beneath greasy hair, and he looked at Hild with repulsion. In a split second of raw reflex, Hild ducked and deflected the blow with his arm, then lunged at the Kadai. He jerked on the Kadai’s vesta and they rolled off their horses and hit the dusty road. The Kadai scrambled for his sword, but before he could steady himself, Hild rammed him with his shoulder. The Kadai stumbled and fell between two firs, down a steep embankment and into a grove of boulders nestled in craggy trees.

Hild's insides coiled at the sight of the body, barely moving, far below. "What have I done?" He whispered, squeezing his wounded arm. Blood soaked through his gauzy, white cămaşa and trickled through his fingers. He unwound the leather chimir from his waist and tightened it above the wound. With his good arm, he pulled himself onto Tineri, spun her on her hindquarters, and urged her into a gallop.

The Krise estate sat on a series of rolling, pale-green hills dotted with the pinks and purples of cornflowers and wild thyme. On one end of the field, a forest of black locusts and new scots pines bordered the hayfields, and patches of sun zig-zagged between squirrely branches. On the northern border was a damson plum orchard whose dark fruits had just finished ripening.

A wooden cart and an old pony stood idly in the bordering field near several shirtless men who worked their scythes against the flowering alfalfa. A few children knelt by the forest edge gathering mushrooms and herbs into leather satchels and woven baskets.

As he rode onto the lawn of the estate, Hild recognized a horse being prepared by the stable help. The horse belonged to Razya's master, a Sheehan Warrior named Kasyl, from the neighboring estate. He must have shared a late breakfast with Hild's master, Lord Krise. Hild had always shown favor with Sheehan Kasyl and pleaded in his mind that Kasyl would know how to help.

 

 

                                                            CHAPTER 2

                                                      SHEEHAN KASYL

 

Hild urged Tineri toward the flower-encased veranda by the back door of the mess hall. He handed the reigns to the shocked, young attendant in a sweat-stained linen cămaşa.

Hild practically fell through the double doors of the dining room. The caramel sweet notes of tsuica plumb brandy permeated the air. On the long, ebony dining table, sat a tinned copper ewer etched in geometric designs. Two platters of mamaliga and late summer vegetables sat half-eaten beside a chalice of warm, ciorba sour soup.

At the sight of blood on Hild’s clothes, Lord Krise and Kasyl shoved themselves away from the table and hurried to his side.

“Hild, what the hell happened?” Lord Krise asked. They steadied Hild and lowered him into a wooden, round-backed chair.

“I’m sorry for disturbing your breakfast, Lord Krise.” Hild breathed. He wasted no time explaining. He knew an infraction against the emperor’s guards, even a lowly Kadai, would be dangerous. “I might have killed him. I didn’t mean to do it. What do I do now?”

“Let’s address your wounds before we discuss what we’re going to do.” Lord Krise snapped. “A servant could be hung for this, or worse.”

“Let me take a look at your arm.” Kasyl knelt beside Hild, then he chuckled, “Disturbing an unusually late mic dejun is not a punishable crime. But you got yourself into some serious trouble today, didn’t you? Not hard to do with the Kadai these days. Especially if you look like you’re from Corovnica or the northern regions. You are not a foolish boy like many, and I’m sure you were provoked.”

“It’s true, he threatened my life.” Hild clenched his teeth as Kasyl loosened the soaked chimir from Hild’s arm.

The carved double doors of the dining room burst open and Reinick, Lord Krise's oldest son, strode into the room and slammed the heavy doors behind him. He carried a bow, and a quiver was secured on his back. He peaked around the green-on-white, embroidered damask drapes that framed one of three tall windows. "What's going on?" He spoke gruffly as he walked to Hild. "I was out riding and I heard rumors of possible murder. Here you are bleeding."

Lord Krise touched Reinick’s arm. “It was an accident. But Hild is responsible.”

Hild squeezed the seat of the chair while he spoke, “We could get help for the soldier. I’m not sure he’s dead.”

Reinick gaped at Hild, “Get help for a Kadai? You should have finished him off, and sent his body down into the forests." He turned to Lord Krise, "Father, we could dispose of him tonight. No one would ever know. We don’t need any more attention from the Segaeta,” he growled. "We've already broken the law by teaching Hild to fight."

Kasyl jerked his head toward Reinick. “Hild is a servant and he will not likely escape prosecution no matter how thorough our attentions. But they have no reason to pay any attention to you, Reinick.”

“Father, whatever Kasyl believes, you know this could implicate the entire family. What did he do? We all know he’s inept, but clumsiness doesn’t usually lead to murdering a soldier.”

Kasyl stood to his full height. "He did nothing wrong in defending himself. The Kadai guards are loose with the rules at best." Kasyl turned back to Hild, and said solemnly, "There are always witnesses though, remember that. Nothing goes unseen or unpunished in Buclaminta or Corovnica."

Reinick scoffed, "Corovnica." He muttered, rolling his eyes. "A degenerate, worthless kingdom of less-than-humans." He glared at Hild, "They should be crushed like struguri for wine. Perhaps they should all be Sifted.”

Kasyl cast a glance of condescension, "Not only are you off point and very naïve, but you are swift with your tongue. It's clear that you know little about politics and cultures beyond our own."

Reinick replaced his bow on his back, “With the deepest respect sir, I have fought them face-to-face, and we know exactly what Corovnicans are made of. And when they arrive for war, their blood will run our streets like rivers.”

"Hold your tongue Reinick." His father reproached him.

Kasyl shook his head and began tearing Hild’s camasa just above the wound. “It’s not as deep as I thought.” He turned to the servitor, “I need hot water, miere brut, and cattle gum for binding. Oh, and bring me writing utensils as well, please.” The servant nodded and hurried out of the room. “This will certainly get the attention of the Segaeta though. I believe the time has come for certain individuals to leave Buclaminta.” Kasyl said darkly.

Lord Krise looked hard at Kasyl and then at his son, “I need to speak privately to Sheehan Kasyl.”

“Father?” Reinick growled.

“Leave!” Krise shouted.

Reinick stomped toward the entrance of the dining hall. He glanced back at Hild, then slammed the doors, leaving a loud echo behind.

 “She must go too.” Kasyl continued. “Tonight, if possible. I’d send her with Hild but it would draw attention.”

Krise pursed his lips, then he lowered his voice. "Do you think it worth the risk yet? Once they leave, they'll be hunted, and when they are discovered, we will all be implicated in their…situation. Do you think the risk is any less if she stayed under your watch care? She's but a servant. No one knows her past."

Hild looked from Lord Krise to Kasyl. He wondered if they were discussing Razya and desperately wanted to know more, but Hild had been checked violently before for meddling in politics.

Lord Krise stepped closer to Kasyl and leaned in, “Are you sure this isn’t an imprudent attempt to further your political sentients?”

Kasyl jerked his head toward Krise, “Sentiments?” He looked offended. "My sentiments, are no different than anyone else's here or in Corovnica. Iubeste libertate.” He took a deep breath, “They will find her if she stays. They will find Hild too. Neither one is safe. No one is safe though, you know that, Krise. Not anymore. Even the Upper Boundary faces the biggest threat we’ve seen in decades.” 

Lord Krise turned with a sigh, "You well know that I am still under Verganos' employ, as well as Impirat Shaktus. They might as well be one and the same. I do wish you would use less candor in my household, and I might add that I cannot condone what you are doing here, and any information I obtain can likely be used by the Segaeta. And if they find out who Hild is…they may dispose of my entire bloodline. I beg you to reconsider your involvement in this scandal."

Hild could abstain no longer. “What are you talking about? What scandal? Who is Verganos?”

Kasyl ignored Hild. “Scandal? Krise, the lives of two innocents are at stake. They are our own. This is not a scandal. This is a revolution. And why do you think I chose to employ Hild in this household and Razya with me? Because you were sympathetic once too. What do you want? Just let the Segaeta handle it? Keep the rules? Do what we’ve done for decades? Don’t turn your back on me now, Krise.” Kasyl’s voice shook. “Not right now.”

Lord Krise wrung his hands, “Oh Kasyl, don’t think I don’t care. Things have changed, but I haven’t forgotten old friendships.”

“They were more than friendships," Kasyl growled.

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On 4/16/2021 at 9:13 AM, Laura Neibaur said:

Thank you Jinju! I'm wondering if my first chapter is a little boring? Or at least the first scenes? 

Hi Laura! Sorry for the delay in replying. No, I wouldn't say your first chapter is boring. I think the main flaw in the first chapter is that I don't really know what's at stake. Hild doesn't seem to want anything or have any specific goals so he doesn't stand out to me as a character. He more or less stumbles into killing the Kadai and then even after that I don't know what he wants. You do a good job of showing, but when it comes to motivation, that can't really be shown, it has to be told. I think some straightforward telling of what Hild wants would help make him a much more compelling character and a good choice to start the story with. If Hild really doesn't want anything and (as the second chapter seems to show) doesn't know anything about the larger societal context I'd pick a different character who can explain a bit more and who has more of a driving desire.

 

CHAPTER 1

THE KADAI

 

It was just days into harvest and Hild's neck and cheeks were already stained pink from the sun. He swung the leather satchel of plums over his shoulder and glanced up at the heavy branches above-head. Blue and purple clusters of dark fruits were wreathed in curling, green leaves.

Orange rays peaked through thinning mid-morning clouds that swept across thriving green orchards and hayfields, beneath a boundless blue sky. The sight saddened Hild. How could war and ruin be so close to Buclaminta and the beauty of harvest still abound? He wondered if there would even be a harvest next year.

I'm wondering if there's a way to include more about what Hild wants here. He wants peace, it seems, and maybe he can go into his thoughts a little more about what kind of peace he wants, and why? He wants the Saegata to stop oppressing them? He wants the Kadai, the representatives of Corovnica to go away? Could we have (extremely brief) context here maybe?

While Hild stood enjoying the view, a brief vision materialized in his mind. It was Razya, standing in the damson plum orchard beside him, as she had done a thousand times. Her dark hair framed her face and shoulders. She turned and her eyes seemed to pierce right through his. The vision vanished and Hild took a deep breath. He had thought of her a lot lately, though they hadn't seen each other in days. Harvest had kept all the servants busy.

If you can include (the extremely brief) context up above, it might be lead more naturally into Razya. "Hild wanted peace more than he wanted anything. That was why he was a loyal servant to the XXXX family, and why he always would be, because they held peace and not power as their ultimate goal. Razya, too, was the same. He'd had many talks with her in the damson plum orchard, a thousand talks, about Buclaminta and what Buclaminta could be if only there was peace." Or something like that but with whatever it is that Hild actually wants.

Tineri pressed her velvety nose through stray patches of alfalfa to find the sweet new grass. Hild swung himself onto the dapple-gray mare and patted her neck. She read his slight shift in the saddle and stepped through the orchard toward the stone-paved trail that wound between the elite Upper Boundary estates of the kingdom of Buclaminta.

Sour cherries and fresh fowl meat from the local piaţă jostled in the leather dublari at Tineri's haunches. Hild had been sent by the head bucatar in search of the best fruits and cuts in the market. He hoped to see Razya when he returned to the orchards that afternoon, and discuss the rumors he'd heard in the village.

Your invented words makes this world seem very rich. Or are these words not invented but in a language I don't know?

As they ascended the mountain path along the steep edge of a rugged cliff, Hild could see the rippling terrain of the Desert Noapte, like a glassy, orange sea in the distance. Hild was reminded of stories of desert tribes and unmarked paths across dangerous territories, but only warriors would leave Buclaminta, and only the best would return. Hild sighed. He had been bereft of family ties early in life and was born with one deaf ear, which made him unsuitable for proper warrior training. Although, with recent threats from the western kingdom of Corovnica, they might conscript anyone.

Lush, green dog-rose bushes climbed the trunks of silver poplars, and thin rays of sun crept through a network of branches, creating a spectacular mosaic of buttery light on the path.

I like the phrase buttery light!

While Hild was distracted by the landscape, a mounted Kadai guard appeared unexpectedly on the path in front of him. Both horses arched and shied away with flared nostrils.

I think because I have no idea who the Kadai are at this point, I want the context earlier so when we run into this Kadai we have some orientation of who he is. Lawful overseer, enemy soldier, higher-than-servant freeman conscripted to be a guard?

“La naiba! Stupid boy.” the Kadai yelled, unsheathing his sword. “Watch where you’re going.”

Hild could smell the strong scent of tsuica on the Kadai's breath. "I'm sorry sir, I didn't see you." He lowered his head.

But the ill-tempered Kadai was not satisfied. The guard tilted his head back and spit on Hild’s face. Heat rushed to Hild’s cheeks and he made the critical mistake of wiping the spittle with his hand and glancing up as the soldier passed.

Before he could react, the Kadai slammed his sword hilt into the bridge of Hild’s nose. Hild arced backward off of Tineri and hit the ground. Blood trickled into the back of Hild’s throat, and he sat up coughing and spat bitter saliva onto the dirt.

“Don’t raise your head to me.” The Kadai shouted. “Do you know your place now, slave boy? You know how much we hate your kind. Good for nothing foreigners! What are you doing on a horse like that anyway? Steal it did you? Now, clean up the mess you made on this path before I make it bigger.”

I'm confused. How is Hild a foreigner? 

Hild wiped his nose on his sleeve and reached for his duffle to replace the scattered fruits. He tried to steady his breath and keep anger from corrupting his calm façade. He put the leather strap across his chest and kicked dirt and pebbles over the dark red puddle. Blood dangled in a stream from Hild’s nose and chin as he re-mounted Tineri.

The Kadai gaped at Hild. “Are you deaf, slave boy? I asked if you know your place?”

Hild knew insubordination always comes at a price, but he never mastered the ability to bridle his frustrations with the imperial guards. Hild grinned, “As a matter of fact, I am partially deaf. Would you mind repeating your question…in the right ear?”

Imperial guard is a good clue, but since I didn't know there was an empire, I think it would be better to put this earlier, either right as the Kadai is mentioned or before.

The Kadai’s mouth hovered open, and his face went as red as simca. “This could cost you your life in the Upper Boundary, slave boy. How does a trip through the desert to the Floarelands sound?”

Hild watched the Kadai edge closer and raise his sword above his head. His round, manic eyes were pinned beneath greasy hair, and he looked at Hild with repulsion. In a split second of raw reflex, Hild ducked and deflected the blow with his arm, then lunged at the Kadai. He jerked on the Kadai’s vesta and they rolled off their horses and hit the dusty road. The Kadai scrambled for his sword, but before he could steady himself, Hild rammed him with his shoulder. The Kadai stumbled and fell between two firs, down a steep embankment and into a grove of boulders nestled in craggy trees.

Rolled off their horses -- I think Hild is already off his horse right?

Hild's insides coiled at the sight of the body, barely moving, far below. "What have I done?" He whispered, squeezing his wounded arm. Blood soaked through his gauzy, white cămaşa and trickled through his fingers. He unwound the leather chimir from his waist and tightened it above the wound. With his good arm, he pulled himself onto Tineri, spun her on her hindquarters, and urged her into a gallop.

Here would be a good place to put some motive. "He wanted to get to the Krise estate, to home. His master would tell him what to do. He hoped he wouldn't get in trouble -- or worse, get Lord Krise in trouble."

The Krise estate sat on a series of rolling, pale-green hills dotted with the pinks and purples of cornflowers and wild thyme. On one end of the field, a forest of black locusts and new scots pines bordered the hayfields, and patches of sun zig-zagged between squirrely branches. On the northern border was a damson plum orchard whose dark fruits had just finished ripening.

A wooden cart and an old pony stood idly in the bordering field near several shirtless men who worked their scythes against the flowering alfalfa. A few children knelt by the forest edge gathering mushrooms and herbs into leather satchels and woven baskets.

As he rode onto the lawn of the estate, Hild recognized a horse being prepared by the stable help. The horse belonged to Razya's master, a Sheehan Warrior named Kasyl, from the neighboring estate. He must have shared a late breakfast with Hild's master, Lord Krise. Hild had always shown favor with Sheehan Kasyl and pleaded in his mind that Kasyl would know how to help.

This is good motivation indication, he wants help. But why from Kasyl and not from Lord Krise? If he didn't even know that Kasyl was going to be there when he rides away from the Kadai?

 

 

                                                            CHAPTER 2

                                                      SHEEHAN KASYL

 

Hild urged Tineri toward the flower-encased veranda by the back door of the mess hall. He handed the reigns to the shocked, young attendant in a sweat-stained linen cămaşa.

Hild practically fell through the double doors of the dining room. The caramel sweet notes of tsuica plumb brandy permeated the air. On the long, ebony dining table, sat a tinned copper ewer etched in geometric designs. Two platters of mamaliga and late summer vegetables sat half-eaten beside a chalice of warm, ciorba sour soup.

At the sight of blood on Hild’s clothes, Lord Krise and Kasyl shoved themselves away from the table and hurried to his side.

“Hild, what the hell happened?” Lord Krise asked. They steadied Hild and lowered him into a wooden, round-backed chair.

This part also confused me. Is Hild an especially loyal/well-considered servant? Because usually I think that servants are not allowed to have access to their masters so easily, can't just show up to breakfast. 

“I’m sorry for disturbing your breakfast, Lord Krise.” Hild breathed. He wasted no time explaining. He knew an infraction against the emperor’s guards, even a lowly Kadai, would be dangerous. “I might have killed him. I didn’t mean to do it. What do I do now?”

“Let’s address your wounds before we discuss what we’re going to do.” Lord Krise snapped. “A servant could be hung for this, or worse.”

“Let me take a look at your arm.” Kasyl knelt beside Hild, then he chuckled, “Disturbing an unusually late mic dejun is not a punishable crime. But you got yourself into some serious trouble today, didn’t you? Not hard to do with the Kadai these days. Especially if you look like you’re from Corovnica or the northern regions. You are not a foolish boy like many, and I’m sure you were provoked.”

Oh, okay, I think I get it now. Hild is from Corovnica and he's a servant in Buclaminta. And the Kadai are Buclaminta-loyal guards. With that context the Kadai attacking him makes much more sense. 

Side note: is there no estate doctor that Hild could go to? I just really can't imagine a servant getting hurt and then going straight to his master, that feels like more of a son-father relationship!

“It’s true, he threatened my life.” Hild clenched his teeth as Kasyl loosened the soaked chimir from Hild’s arm.

The carved double doors of the dining room burst open and Reinick, Lord Krise's oldest son, strode into the room and slammed the heavy doors behind him. He carried a bow, and a quiver was secured on his back. He peaked around the green-on-white, embroidered damask drapes that framed one of three tall windows. "What's going on?" He spoke gruffly as he walked to Hild. "I was out riding and I heard rumors of possible murder. Here you are bleeding."

I think it's peeked.

Lord Krise touched Reinick’s arm. “It was an accident. But Hild is responsible.”

Hild squeezed the seat of the chair while he spoke, “We could get help for the soldier. I’m not sure he’s dead.”

Reinick gaped at Hild, “Get help for a Kadai? You should have finished him off, and sent his body down into the forests." He turned to Lord Krise, "Father, we could dispose of him tonight. No one would ever know. We don’t need any more attention from the Segaeta,” he growled. "We've already broken the law by teaching Hild to fight."

So this reveals more about Hild, which is interesting. But now I'm confused again about who the Krise family is, are they Corovnican too? That would make sense, if so, as they would be loyal to a fellow co-nationalist servant.

Kasyl jerked his head toward Reinick. “Hild is a servant and he will not likely escape prosecution no matter how thorough our attentions. But they have no reason to pay any attention to you, Reinick.”

So Hild is doomed? If so I think we need some more feeling from Hild here, some desire on his part to escape or some anxiety about getting out of trouble if he can.

“Father, whatever Kasyl believes, you know this could implicate the entire family. What did he do? We all know he’s inept, but clumsiness doesn’t usually lead to murdering a soldier.”

Kasyl stood to his full height. "He did nothing wrong in defending himself. The Kadai guards are loose with the rules at best." Kasyl turned back to Hild, and said solemnly, "There are always witnesses though, remember that. Nothing goes unseen or unpunished in Buclaminta or Corovnica."

Reinick scoffed, "Corovnica." He muttered, rolling his eyes. "A degenerate, worthless kingdom of less-than-humans." He glared at Hild, "They should be crushed like struguri for wine. Perhaps they should all be Sifted.”

Kasyl cast a glance of condescension, "Not only are you off point and very naïve, but you are swift with your tongue. It's clear that you know little about politics and cultures beyond our own."

Okay so never mind, Hild is Corovnican and the Krise family and Kasyl are Buclamintan. And the Kadai are Buclamintan. Why did the Krise family treat Hild so specially then? I get Reinick's contempt for him and I think that's a good way to show his political attitudes. Maybe all I want is to know Hild's political attitudes, and to know them earlier on at the very start of the book.

Reinick replaced his bow on his back, “With the deepest respect sir, I have fought them face-to-face, and we know exactly what Corovnicans are made of. And when they arrive for war, their blood will run our streets like rivers.”

"Hold your tongue Reinick." His father reproached him.

Kasyl shook his head and began tearing Hild’s camasa just above the wound. “It’s not as deep as I thought.” He turned to the servitor, “I need hot water, miere brut, and cattle gum for binding. Oh, and bring me writing utensils as well, please.” The servant nodded and hurried out of the room. “This will certainly get the attention of the Segaeta though. I believe the time has come for certain individuals to leave Buclaminta.” Kasyl said darkly.

I feel like the servitor would have tried to stop Hild from coming in all bloody.

I think this pivot toward "it's time for them to leave" is much clearer in this draft than in your first draft. Good job!

Lord Krise looked hard at Kasyl and then at his son, “I need to speak privately to Sheehan Kasyl.”

“Father?” Reinick growled.

“Leave!” Krise shouted.

Reinick stomped toward the entrance of the dining hall. He glanced back at Hild, then slammed the doors, leaving a loud echo behind.

 “She must go too.” Kasyl continued. “Tonight, if possible. I’d send her with Hild but it would draw attention.”

Krise pursed his lips, then he lowered his voice. "Do you think it worth the risk yet? Once they leave, they'll be hunted, and when they are discovered, we will all be implicated in their…situation. Do you think the risk is any less if she stayed under your watch care? She's but a servant. No one knows her past."

Hild looked from Lord Krise to Kasyl. He wondered if they were discussing Razya and desperately wanted to know more, but Hild had been checked violently before for meddling in politics.

My vote is that Hild already knows more, that he knows they are talking about Razya, and that he has an opinion and a desire. Would it work for Kasyl to say earlier "it's time for her to leave Buclaminta, and I think Hild should go with her given this new development"? so that it's clearer that Razya has been on a shortlist to go for sometime? And then put here something about Hild being excited or feeling hopeful, he would love to leave Buclaminta with Razya, or like I said, whatever it is that you decide he wants, to tell that to us.

Lord Krise stepped closer to Kasyl and leaned in, “Are you sure this isn’t an imprudent attempt to further your political sentients?”

Kasyl jerked his head toward Krise, “Sentiments?” He looked offended. "My sentiments, are no different than anyone else's here or in Corovnica. Iubeste libertate.” He took a deep breath, “They will find her if she stays. They will find Hild too. Neither one is safe. No one is safe though, you know that, Krise. Not anymore. Even the Upper Boundary faces the biggest threat we’ve seen in decades.” 

Lord Krise turned with a sigh, "You well know that I am still under Verganos' employ, as well as Impirat Shaktus. They might as well be one and the same. I do wish you would use less candor in my household, and I might add that I cannot condone what you are doing here, and any information I obtain can likely be used by the Segaeta. And if they find out who Hild is…they may dispose of my entire bloodline. I beg you to reconsider your involvement in this scandal."

Hild could abstain no longer. “What are you talking about? What scandal? Who is Verganos?”

I'm with Hild. I think all this is too much information. I'd have Lord Krise object "but I'm nervous the Saegata will find them if they leave!" but Kasyl tells him to shut up that he promised Kasyl he'd help him and it's time for Lord Krise to provide that help, and then move onto the goal of getting Hild and Razya out of there and skip all the history/backstory between Kasyl and Lord Krise. I don't think here is the place to put it, it just makes Hild seem strangely indifferent to his own fate.

Kasyl ignored Hild. “Scandal? Krise, the lives of two innocents are at stake. They are our own. This is not a scandal. This is a revolution. And why do you think I chose to employ Hild in this household and Razya with me? Because you were sympathetic once too. What do you want? Just let the Segaeta handle it? Keep the rules? Do what we’ve done for decades? Don’t turn your back on me now, Krise.” Kasyl’s voice shook. “Not right now.”

Lord Krise wrung his hands, “Oh Kasyl, don’t think I don’t care. Things have changed, but I haven’t forgotten old friendships.”

“They were more than friendships," Kasyl growled.

Ok that's it! Hope that helps!

 

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Hey Laura!

I was so late to the party I had to snip out much I’ve my original post as you’ve already addressed it with the others.

I enjoyed Hild as a character, he was very relatable and realistic. The imagery was vibrant and efficient, you have a good sense of when to say what and how to say it.

Question I have, do you think creating characters that speak “english” without the use of contractions (would’ve/didn’t) deepens the narrative or does more harm than good?

Just picking your brain as I’m wondering this for myself.

Your writing style is very similar to my own I noticed; how you structure your sentences and stuff. 

There’s lots of terminology I’m unfamiliar with. When creating the words of your lore, are they derivative and have some real world equivalent or are they totally fictitious?

I enjoy the intrigue you’ve set. I don’t get a feeling of science fiction/fantasy but it doesn’t feel missing either, if you know what I mean. I find myself looking forward to the science fiction elements, which is fine since this is just the opening; no need for laser beams just yet.

Do you know the kind of sci-fi it will be yet? Will there be magic?

Whatever the route you choose or have already taken, I’m sure it will only add to the intrigue and coolness.

Also, I didn’t know this was set in the future which is cool! I thought it was another world/reality.

I’m interested in how the world regressed to the seemingly primitive condition we’re witnessing.

Do you have that part figured out yet?

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3 hours ago, Shola said:

Hey Laura!

I was so late to the party I had to snip out much I’ve my original post as you’ve already addressed it with the others.

Hi Shola! Thanks so much for responding, I appreciate it a lot.

I enjoyed Hild as a character, he was very relatable and realistic. The imagery was vibrant and efficient, you have a good sense of when to say what and how to say it.

Question I have, do you think creating characters that speak “english” without the use of contractions (would’ve/didn’t) deepens the narrative or does more harm than good?

That's a hard one. I prefer short forms with conversation...but since my story is technically not supposed to be in English (would that be same for many of your characters?) and takes place in post-modern Romania and Eastern Europe, I'm rethinking that. I do think contractions make casual conversation a lot more comfortable, however, I might consider doing away with them for my more "prestigious" characters rather than for someone like Hild or Razya who might speak more casually like we do...I am interested in your opinion on that subject. Would it vary from YA to adult do you think? 

Just picking your brain as I’m wondering this for myself.

Your writing style is very similar to my own I noticed; how you structure your sentences and stuff. 

There’s lots of terminology I’m unfamiliar with. When creating the words of your lore, are they derivative and have some real world equivalent or are they totally fictitious?

Every non-English word is either some form or other of Romanian, Hungarian, or another language from that area. I have changed a few because my book is very far into the future and the area has undergone a lot of transformation, so I took some creative liberties with the language and culture. Do you think it hurts the story to have the terminology in there? I try to drop hints about each non-English term I use but is it too confusing? 

I enjoy the intrigue you’ve set. I don’t get a feeling of science fiction/fantasy but it doesn’t feel missing either, if you know what I mean. I find myself looking forward to the science fiction elements, which is fine since this is just the opening; no need for laser beams just yet.

Yes, I wondered if I should allude to it more in the first chapter and not wait until the third to bring in that element. What do you think? As for my sci-fi...Each of the main characters will discover that they have some preternatural powers called origines - (augmented traits, such as the ability to read people extremely very well, or the ability to transfer thoughts, or enhance natural abilities.). Also, there is a subplot about people's "mind-landscapes" or terrains. They are actual places that you can physically access. Finally, some of the characters with powerful origines will have technological prowess...not necessarily modern technology in the form of guns and tanks, but in genetics, experimentation with mind control, and chemical and natural element manipulation.

Do you know the kind of sci-fi it will be yet? Will there be magic?

Whatever the route you choose or have already taken, I’m sure it will only add to the intrigue and coolness.

Also, I didn’t know this was set in the future which is cool! I thought it was another world/reality.

I’m interested in how the world regressed to the seemingly primitive condition we’re witnessing.

This was a fun subplot to work on. The regression had a lot to do with the bloodlines that carry the origines and their misuse caused the world to revert to a more primitive / medieval way of life. They even altered the terrain in some areas which plays into the main plot as well. This is all legend until the main characters realize just how deeply their homeland's past is intertwined with their own pasts and family bloodlines. 

Do you have that part figured out yet? Thanks so much for your comments! 

 

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