August 11, 2020, 05:22:05 PM

------------------------------------------

If you have Login Problems Use the Login in Top Menu Bar


------------------------------------------
If you have a problem registering here, Leave a msg at our FB Page >> Here.

Plz Don't use Hotmail to Register. You might not receive Activation mail. Use Other free mail provider like Gmail or Yahoo.






Author Topic: Charred Life (Rewritten)  (Read 4774 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Echo_River

  • Mild Observer
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1953
  • Gender: Female
  • Need Chips
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2020, 11:57:43 PM »
Dream II

Hey…

Darkness unfamiliar to me was a suffocating blanket. My soaked clothes weighed me down as I struggled to rise back to the surface.

Light flashed from above. I swam towards it and emerged, gasping for air.

“Xehann -!”

I had to get back. Back to the top of the cliff.

No! Don’t kid yourself.

Scrambling to the shore, I threw off some of my clothes and squeezed the water from the rest. Then I got my bearings.

Trees. Lots of foreign trees.

So many lights.

Colours in the heavens and orange spreading through the forest.

How do I get back up there?

It’s dangerous, you fool.

Another flare of light lit up the sky.

What was going on?

Why did he insist on fighting alone?

I might be small, young, inexperienced, but wasn’t there a better chance of surviving if two fought together?

There’s a better chance if we don’t go, idiot.

“Don’t die, Xehann – don’t die – ”

I struggled through the brush with wild motions.

My feet crashed into roots. Fingers scratched through plants. Branches whipped my face.

Soon, my body moved slower. Arms felt like lead.

My steps slow.

I fell to my knees.

“C’mon – c’mon – ”

You’re going to die.

“We have to help Xehann –”

We need to survive.


“He needs help!”

You can’t go back!

Yaaaaaarrrgghh!!

I pounded my fists into the ground.

If I weren’t running from danger, I’d have wiped out the trees around me. But that would only expose me. That much was ingrained into my frustrated mind.

So I let the darkness engulf me again.

And I stood up, fighting the urge to lay low.

“Screw you.”

Hide. You must hide.

“I’m going.”

Don’t go!

“Don’t die on me, Xehann.”



Chapter 10: Raven and Eono


Dave’s first week passed without further incident. Roun took Dave around the village where he got to know more about his relatives, who lived where, what they did, and how exactly they were related. The back and forth to different areas soon made him an expert of the Tiuruh’s Family area so that he could navigate without Roun’s help. He even met one of his Grand-relatives who was going to hand make his very own traditional outfit.  Going to the fire pit every night, he met more of his cousins. No one bore him ill for his misstep the first night and he made very sure not to make another.

At the randomest times, Roun would disappear. To where, Dave never got it out of him, but the others, Dae and Kon mostly, always said with disinterest he was probably roped into helping with some festival matter. Summertime was full of festival preparations apparently. Or, a more popular opinion was he avoided work by finding somewhere to hide and sleep.

Of the young girl with the mask he saw nothing.

Her knack of avoiding eyes was even more masterful than Roun’s. Dave wondered if she was sensitive to the way people looked at her. No one had told him what happened to her face, but considering her reaction to “six years ago”... responsibility fell on the war.

Taboo. The strongest taboo Dave felt was asking directly about “six years ago”. Feelings surrounding that particular time lingered strongly throughout the village. Nobody spoke about it. Not a mention, a peep, or offhand memory. It confused him. The purpose of this festival and training was to train them for war, wasn’t it? Then why would no one explain to him the origins behind it? Was he supposed to fight without an enemy in mind? He might as well be preparing to wield a blade against a dream.

As much as he wanted to know, he was afraid to ask. And so another week came...

Early morning brought yet another change to the village. A mystical green veil of light emerged with the sun and its rays created strange fractals in the air that faded in and out depending where it fell. Fresh scents graced the noses of the boys as they sprinted away through the forest, in a rush to get to practice. It lacked the warmth of the afternoon sun, full of the morning dew, but it energized them. This raw light remained over the village like a drowsy spell and kept the creatures silent except for those birds impervious to time. Whistles and trills sounded in the trees with the wind in their ears.
 
"We're gonna be late!" Roun sped over dirt paths in panicked haste.
 
“Who woke up late again?” Dave panted as his feet stumbled on the forest path. "And who told my dad we would work hard and be on time no matter what?"
           
"Iz why I asked you to wake me up," Roun returned sans guilt. He moved with familiar ease through the leafy greenery. “The first practice I bring you to and this happens…”
           
"And who wouldn't get up for a whole half hour? He's going to be mad we left late."
           
"He'd be mad if we skipped out one-hundred percent and even if we didn't tell him, Raven would, 'cause Raven has no qualms about poking old wounds and slitting open new ones."
 
"And who was fussing over their hair like a teenage girl?" Dave kept listing on. "And forgot where they put their sword? Why would you go to sleep with it anyway?"     
           
"Alright, man, I get it." The remark ruffled Roun slightly. "It's my bad. I'll make it up to you later - assuming we make it through the practice."
           
"What exactly are we going to be doing?"
           
An unexpected but timely electric tone momentarily disturbed the charm of nature from Roun’s pocket, from which he pulled out a cell phone.
           
“It’s Dae,” Roun said, glanced at the message without losing speed. “She’s asking where we are. Everyone else is already there - Oh great."
           
"Are we being minced?" Dave asked, looking worried.
           
“We're doing a survival exercise. Raven loves survival."
           
Dave gulped. "What's involved in a survival exercise?"
 
"Oh, you know, the usual you see in movies."
 
"But what -"
 
"And there's penalty involved." Roun added. "Raven always includes a penalty."
 
“Penalty? What kind of penalty?”
 
“Depends on what her mood will be when we get there – either way it won’t be nice.” Roun spoke with nervous energy. “They’re never nice. Imagine you have the power to deal out judgement, whatever judgement you want, and you know no one will object because you can just beat them down. I swear all Wardens have a sadistic alternate personality…”

"Roun? I've having second thoughts. I don't know if I feel like going..."
 
"What do you mean 'don't know'?" Roun exclaimed without stopping.
 
Dave responded reluctantly. "Can't we do training on our own like we did before? I'm still new here and I'm still getting used to things..."
 
"Don’t go getting cold feet on me now! Besides, no one’s going to call you out. They'll be too focused on practice to mind you."
 
"I mean, I would feel better if I were more acquainted with what I'm expected to do -"
 
He had no time left to say anything because Roun suddenly crouched down in the thick bushes, signalling to be silent. He squinted ahead and whispered, “Oh no, they’ve already started.”
 
“Started? I don’t hear anything,” Dave whispered back, glad for the rest, the run leaving him winded. Except for the rustling of leaves from a slight breeze, no other noises reached his ears. If everyone was already here, they were being extremely quiet and invisible.
 
His cousin turned to him, a strange conflicted look on his face, as if he were an officer giving his final orders to his last marine. “Listen, Dave, this might really suck for you as your first practice cause I should have explained it to you beforehand, but are you able to fend for yourself?”
 
Dave tilted his head sideways. “Yeah, sure.” Considering the amount of unspoken details there wasn't much else to do and push for time.
 
“Then once I finish talking, make yourself as scarce as possible. If you hear any indication of someone heading your way, hide immediately and don’t get caught. That’s all you have to do.”
 
“But what are we doing?”
 
“The scariest version of hide and seek you’ll ever play.” Roun laid a hand on Dave’s shoulder and whispered tensely. “Now hide!”
 
“But – where?” Dave asked. But Roun had literally vanished in the bushes without a sound or sayounara. A sweat drop trailed down the side of Dave's face. Left alone, the boy could only follow the instructions given to him.
 
Various trees and plant life surrounded him on all sides. They'd departed from the road to an area that looked isolated from the village. Was he supposed to hide here somewhere? Standing, he could see somewhat over the thick foliage and thought he saw a clearing a little farther away.
 
With a slow blink, he felt drawn to gaze at a tree trunk on his left, then upwards into the tree tops at a particular branch above him, and finally his eyes settled on a cluster of plants thick enough to hide a person. According to his vision, no one else was around. Yet…his pricked senses told him otherwise. All around him, his instinct told him the other children were hiding, invisible to his sight. And he was supposed to do the same.
 
“What am I hiding from though?” he wondered.
 
His question was answered in the moment. Something in the distance moved into view so gradually like a ghost. The stark blackness of it caught the eye amidst the woods. Dave froze, as shivers ran up his back at the something unknown. He'd never tried to hide in a forest before, moreover from an astral being. Actually, far as it was, he couldn’t tell what it was… until it turned to look directly at him. By then, it was too late. He had the barest glimpse of a large black bird head with painted red eyes before it turned into a black blur, cutting towards him like a blade.
 
“What is that...?" Dave puzzled obliviously. "Not another wild animal?"
 
“Dave, run! That's the Warden!” a voice to his left fairly shrieked at him, a boy's. Kon?
 
“Why didn’t you hide?” hissed someone on the right, their voice young and irate.
 
“Shut up! She’ll find us!” The third voice came from above, Dae's, he thought. All three transmitted from the spots Dave had thought someone was concealed.
 
"Warden? Did I get found already?” Riveted in place by sight of those red eyes, Dave fell in a dazed trance as the bird head swooped towards him.
 
In that five-second gap between him and the black spectre, a string of words incoherent to those in earshot burst from his lips. “I don’t know. No, but - I mean, it’s kind of hopeless now – talk about bad ideas – Look, I have no idea what I’m supposed to -” Spitting words out rapidly, Dave raised his voice to whoever was near. “Hey, am I allowed to fight back?”
 
“Yes – but don’t!” Roun’s voice, somewhere.
 
Dave staggered backwards, eyes getting wider the closer the bird, but even still he paused in that last second as if thinking, or perhaps listening to something.
 
"Run, idiot!"
 
“Okay, got it," he said, finally.
 
"Got what?" A dark and icy female voice like winter riding on the back of night asked him. The bird swooped in and a hand shot out like a bullet to grab him. Dave sprang away with rivalling quickness, surprise plain on his face.
 
"I thought -" Diving behind a tree to evade another hand, the youth realized the "bird" possessed the body of a human beneath it - or rather a human body carried a grand headdress on its shoulders in the semblance of a raven's head. "I thought this was hide and seek, not tag," he gasped tightly as the person zipped after him. Panic spurred Dave, and he escaped being caught on pure reflex. Trees on the terrain helped to keep a narrow distance away from the pursuer, but no matter where he moved she bit close to his heels.
 
"Scariest version of hide and seek? More like tag with the final boss!" Dave scampered back and forth between trees, the bird's form a shadow in his periphery.
 
Unaware of where he was going, Dave broke out of the forest straight into a clearing.

"Cret!" She'd driven him into the open with no coverage. He braked, feet slipping, and spun back around, intending to run back into the shelter of the trees only to be met with a pair of red eyes swooping towards him. He reacted by leaping sideways behind a large trunk on the border of the clearing and the eyes disappeared out of view for a second.
 
The black shadow tore apart the bushes on the other side of the tree. Dave yelped, frozen in spot as the bird jumped into the air and flipped over him. Drawing a short sword, the dark figure in the headdress barely touched ground before rushing at him. Dave backed straight into the tree and in a blink found the bare silver blade pressed against his neck.
 
"Got you." The person under the bird mask grabbed Dave by the head and held him against the trunk with no gentle hand.                         
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Dave gritted his teeth, staying as still as possible. Her grip held him solidly. It was all but he could do to keep the cold blade from slitting him. For a moment, her attention drifted away from him. She clicked her tongue and barked out at the forest, “I thought I heard a certain evasive mole…”
 
At a closer look, the large headdress consisted of the top half of a bird’s head and beak that fell over half her face, hiding her eyes and exposing a sullen scowl. Black feathers cascaded down the back their silk shine blending in with her strands of hair. It added to her height though she must have stood as tall as Dave. Her outfit differed from the other Wardens, the long black strips hovering in the breeze in a ghostly manner, and her wide sleeves worn and tattered from years of use. “Raven” suited her to a Tee.
 
“This is pretty scary,” Dave gasped.
 
The red eyes looked down at him and the woman pulled a distasteful smile. She drew his face closer to the beak of her mask. “Scary? This isn’t scary. Scary is… Looking up at your enemy and realizing they see zero value in your life.”
 
“Yeah, I got that you weren’t going to kill me.”
 
“You think I can’t kill you because we’re family?” Icy mockery laced her dark tones.

"No. You won’t kill me because my dad would definitely kill you if you did – and much sooner than a Nanrot would.”
 
The Warden said curiously, “Oh? Who’s your father?”
 
“Jaanes Tiuruh. You must be Raven.”
 
“You must be the newcomer they’ve been talking about.”
 
“Are you still serious about using that knife?”
 
The woman paused lips tight. Sensing her hesitation, Dave chuckled. “Oh right, I almost forgot. If you do decide, mind my dad would arrest you first, and then kill you.”
 
Raven smiled slowly. “Why don’t we find out if he actually will?”
 
They fortunately never found out.
 
“And in comes the hero to save the people!” Right then, a man in black stepped out of the trees like a wood spirit and dislodged Raven’s hand from Dave’s head with an obnoxious slap to her wrist. Raven whipped her blade at the man who met it with a sword of his own. The clash of their weapons rang through the clearing.
 
Tension released its hold and Dave dropped onto his bottom at the base of the tree. He put a trembling hand to his neck, relieved to find it still intact while he kept a watchful stare on the adults.
 
“Eono, what are you doing?” Raven sounded displeased.
 
The man, self-proclaimed saviour, also wore the garb of a Warden. He shrugged in response with an unnaturally wide grin on his face. “I’m here to discover your training secrets,” Eono joked. “And to give my much-needed assistance.”
 
“We don’t need an Adsoku here.”
 
“Somebody didn’t get the memo.” Eono rolled his eyes. “I didn’t volunteer to come. Chief assigned me here. Something about ‘Make sure she doesn’t traumatize the kids’ and my, was he right.”
 
Raven broke the clash, attempting to take out his legs with her blade but Eono jumped into the air with surprising lightness and sprang backwards. When Raven started after him, something rolled at her feet. Light exploded in their faces. She was suddenly ten feet away, but nothing else happened. The light was only a miniature flash strobe Eono had thrown at the ground to activate.
 
Raven scowled. “They won’t understand if you’re soft on them – what are we training them for, sports?”
 
“What are you training them for, life after death?” Eono protested. “No need to murder them. If you’re trying to kill your kids, imagine how much worse the Nanrot are! Ooo!” He waved his hands about in an exaggerated manner.
 
“What is this, good cop, bad cop?”  Dave wheezed. “The adults are like this too?”
 
“If I was going to kill him, I would’ve done so before you arrived,” Raven defended.
 
“Tut tut, Tiuruh.” The sinister smile never left the man’s face. “You shouldn’t draw your blade unless you mean to draw blood.”
 
A murderous glare seemed to emanate from the bird’s flat eyes. “I hope you won’t regret saying that. I may take you seriously.”
 
 Eono sheathed his blade. “Deal. Why don’t we finish up this game and duke it out later?”
 
“I have nothing more to say to you,” Raven seethed. She turned to face the trees. “But I would like to punch a hole in your brain and empty it of all that merciful nonsense.”
 
Eono chuckled darkly. “Likewise.” He fetched his light and flashed the beam right into the dense trees. “I found you – and you – and you!” Left and right he shone the intense blue ray. Leaves rustled as those spotted frantically ran from their hiding spots. The Warden dove after them.
 
The two adults became dark blurs zipping in and out of the forest. Shrieks and yells sounded, followed by the kids returning to the clearing after being caught. It wasn’t long before a crowd assembled where Dave had seen none.
 
“I told you we should have spread out more.” Looking miffed, Kon entered the clearing.
 
“If you’d signalled us properly, we wouldn’t have been caught.” Dae came after him.
 
Dave felt relieved to see them. “So you were hiding together.”
 
“See? Even he could tell!”
 
Another figure slipped into the clearing behind the two and Dave stared. He recognized the little girl he’d glimpsed twice yesterday.
 
“Oh, you guys haven’t met each other yet, right?” Dae said without turning around. “This is my younger sister, Shira. Dave’s our cousin, Shira.”
 
The one eye not hidden by the wooden mask glanced.
 
“Hi,” said Dave.
 
Shira nodded silently. Her expression remained neutral; however, Dave couldn’t help feeling a gloom ooze from her small detached form. Talking to her now seemed untimely.
 
“I didn’t realize there were this many,” he observed, changing the subject. “I didn’t see anyone out there.”
 
“It’s ‘cuz the Wardens know where to look,” Dae grumbled. “They know the forest too well it might as well be cheating. Better if we did it somewhere else. They say the real trick is going where they won’t look. This area is overused.”
 
“And what’s the point of this ‘exercise’?”
 
“Survival.” Kon said quietly. “How well you can stay out of sight of the enemy, elude them, sneak by them. When you want to gain in the advantage in a fight, it helps to be where you can see your opponent, but they can’t see you.”
 
Dave hung his head, putting a hand on his neck.
 
The Wardens whisked back into the clearing, heads turning. Dave thought they were counting the heads to make sure they’d gotten everyone until Eono threw his hands up.
 
“You weren’t kidding when they said you needed backup.”
 
“You volunteered,” Raven returned coldly. “I don’t need your help.”
 
“Where is this guy?”
 
“Who are they looking for?” Dave whispered to Dae.
 
“Take a guess,” Dae said. “The guy who disappears when you need him the most.”
 
Who would that be? Dave scanned the crowd as well. Then he realized there was someone he wasn’t seeing. The Wardens conferred with each other again.
 
“Do they get something if they win?” Eono asked.
 
“No penalty.”
 
“What’s the penalty?”
 
“I haven’t decided yet.”
 
About ten minutes later, the Wardens still hadn’t found their target. Raven hissed through her teeth while Eono scratched his head. The children conversed restlessly among themselves.
 
“Great practice. Someone understood the point,” Eono remarked. “Should we stop?”
 
“Betcha he ditched,” Dae said to Dave.
 
Raven growled, but nodded reluctantly. “Roun! Come out!”
 
Everyone fell silent, listening for a return call. Chirping birds filled the gap. Raven made to yell again, when the leaves finally rustled overhead. And the lanky teen climbed down from the tall trees just beside the clearing.
 
“I looked there!” Eono exclaimed.
 
“Sorry uncle,” Roun flashed a smirk as he landed. “Do I win?”
 
Raven grimaced. “Once again. Happy?”
 
“Yay.” Roun cheered lazily.
 
“This ends the exercise,” Raven called out to the rest. “Split up into pairs for sparring. Anyone found standing idle will be sent to the deep woods to pick spax-berries.” This sent a collective groan through the company followed by scurrying to find partners. The group spread out into the other clearings so that there was enough space all around.
 
“Were you up there the whole time?” Dave asked when his cousin reached them.
 
“Nope. Can’t tell you more than that.”
 
“Didn’t you leave?” Dae prodded.
 
“That would score me a penalty. You can’t make me do one-hundred push-ups.”
 
“Okay, then, what is your secret?” Dave asked.
 
“It’s not even a secret. It’s logic,” Roun insisted.
 
“Unlock the treasure box,” Dae pressured. “Master of hiding.”
 
Roun rolled his eyes. “You were on the right track earlier: hide where they won’t look. But your idea implies staying in one location. What you should be doing is… think of where they will look and constantly move within their blind spot.”
 
“When you say it like that, it sounds simple,” Dave said.
 
“It’s not that easy,” Dae retorted.
 
“It’s not?”
 
“You didn’t even get a chance to hide,” Roun pointed out.
 
“Listen to him.” Raven was suddenly standing beside them. “Because that’s the only thing he’s good at doing – running away.” She and Roun locked eyes. From the stabbing tones of her voice it didn’t sound like she was joking. “Get practicing. Roun, you’re with me.”
 
“What?!”
 
“Dae, Kon…” The bird’s eyes flicked from them to Dave. “Do something about this one. See what he can do, because he doesn’t look like much. You…” Suddenly, she looked at Shira. The girl looked down. “What are you doing here?” Shira made no reply. Raven snapped, “If you don’t intend to do anything, why don’t you get a head start ahead of the others into the forest?”
 
Dae’s eyes widened even as she bristled, her tones taut as she tried to restrain the fury in her voice. “Warden Raven, can’t you make an exception?”
 
“No, I won’t. Why should I?” Raven replied icily.
 
“Because I am Shira’s sparring partner and you can’t say no to that.” Right on cue, Eono popped up like he’d always been there. He placed his hands on his hips with a smile that clearly challenged the woman.
 
Raven growled. “Will you never quit your monkeying?”
 
“Will you never stop asking obvious questions?”
 
“If we were on the battlefield, Eono, you wouldn’t be able to help everyone that was being attacked. Your corpse would be skewered between your enemy and your best friend – useless sacrifice. Or were you planning to be a hero? Because heroes die.”
 
“There you go again with the extremist attitude. No one’s going to die. Much less Shira.” Eono gently directed the girl to the side of the clearing, away from Raven. “I mean, they’re not going to fight anyone when they’re not even Wardens yet.”



NTS: Edits and Reminders
Dream II
- Relabelled "Prologue" to "Prologue: Dream I" hence this one is "Dream II"

Chapter 10
- Changed "Janos" to "Kon".
- Added time buffer to beginning of chapter.

Considerations:
- Not sure if the transition between Chapter 9 and 10 is too abrupt.

Here I got to introduce another couple of my favourite characters ^^
Which reminds me I should probably put some of the character art here...

No one is perfect . . . that's why there's erasers and extra paper.
DA: http://neysun.deviantart.com
IG: https://www.instagram.com/neysun_hao/
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/star-lock

Offline Echo_River

  • Mild Observer
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1953
  • Gender: Female
  • Need Chips
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2020, 06:22:02 PM »
Chapter 11: Infighting - Pt. 1

I hope Dave is getting along with the others. Dae and Kon seemed to take him well – they can take care of him. He didn’t seem to be feeling too confident though... That’s normal. It’s only the second week. I hope he doesn’t overdo himself trying to fit in –

“It’s been a while since our last bout,” Raven interrupted his thoughts. “You’d better be prepared.”

Roun tugged on his gloves, making sure they were snug. They were an old pair, the wear on the palms and knuckles showed signs that he should replace them soon. The Warden and boy occupied a training area some distance from the others, hidden by thick foliage. They could hear the clash of wooden weapons as the children commenced their training drills.

Raven paced slowly around the edge of the tree line, her bearing like a bird of prey eyeing an animal about to die. She carried, instead of the jagged short sword, a double-ended javelin, that spun like a lazy fan around her wrist.

“This is… just a practice, right?” Roun frowned.

“Nervous?”

“Isn’t that your favourite weapon?”

“Thought I’d dust her off today.”

“I’m starting to feel a little concerned.”

“Oh?”

Roun caught hint of a smile under the beak of the bird. He took careful breaths to relieve the tension in his chest as he tried to find a familiar grip on his sword.

“Let’s start.”

It began as all sparring practices did. His body acted in the routine. Study the opponent. What did he have to look for again? Find openings. Nothing would escape the bird’s eyes. Attack based on observation of consecutive moves. Then Raven flew towards him.

"Ugh!” Roun cringed at the violent vibration caused by their blades clashing. He’d always hated the feeling. The tingle shook into his bones. A familiar feeling and a not so good feeling.

Technically sword versus javelin didn’t count as fair. That was the point apparently. Raven pushed him back, pushed him aside. Not a blade tip reached him, but neither did his reach her.

Over time, Raven sped up by a notch. She swung it hard first. Then the sweeps became blurs. Their shoes dug marks through the ground. What was she getting all aggravated for?

“What’s wrong, Roun?” Raven cut in, her form barely visible behind the flurry of strikes.

“Nothing,” Roun grunted.

“You’re not focused. Where’s your mind at?”

“What? I’m trying –“

“Where are you looking? Where is your weapon pointed at?”

What was she talking about? He was fighting as usual, wasn’t he? Sure, he felt like he was dragging his body around. Morning did that to him. But for some reason, if felt like more than just grogginess.

“Where’s your fight? Is this all you’ve got?”

The mocking voice spoke over the rush of wind, clang of metal, rustle of leaves. Those sounds reminded him of that morning. His mind wandered. Would Dave be able to stand against an onslaught like this? What if he couldn’t?

That dream from this morning was really throwing him –

“Get it together, brat!”

Roun missed countering. The blade point stabbed for his eye.

“Or you’re going to die!”

Zip!

It nicked him, drawing a fine line of red. Roun swerved fast to avoid it. Raven whipped out her short blade. He tumbled into the base of a tree or else it would have slashed open his stomach. On his back, winded, he saw the next attack coming unchecked and shivers rolled through him.

“Wait, Raven –“ Roun gasped. “Stop!”

She almost didn’t. The slice passed over him and gouged an ugly crevice into the trunk of the tree. Pieces of shattered bark rained down. Raven held the end of her stance. Tight silence fell into the grove. The other children had paused their training at the yell.

Roun lay still. He couldn’t even breathe. His eyes trained unfocused on the distant forest ceiling. Cold sweat trickled down the side of his head. When he tried to speak, the only sounds were stunted gasps.

Raven slowly drew back her weapons, red bird eyes dead and emotionless.

“What…did you say?” she said in a trembling whisper.

Roun forced himself to not look at her. He lifted himself up and stared at the deep cut scarred into the tree. Numbness seeped into him. What…what was that?

“You’ve got to be joking,” Raven said, voice taut. “Did you just tell me to stop?” A harsh laugh burst from her pale lips. “You…you’re nothing but a big joke, Roun.”

“I asked you to help me train… not to kill me.”

“Haven’t I been? Every year for six years? Or was that not enough for you? No, certainly, it’s been too long, You’ve become clumsy, soft, distracted. You have no purpose – no fire – for the fight. And to think the Heiress still keeps you around.”

“That’s not true!” Roun protested, but his voice sounded hollow to himself.

“Forget about becoming a Warden, Roun,” Raven spat. “You don’t even know what you’re fighting for anymore. It’s pointless. I’m disappointed in you – this is a  waste of time.”

Roun whirled. “How would you know - ?!”

Raven grabbed his collar and slid her sword up to his throat in a flash. She wasn’t calm. He could feel the blade quaking against his neck as she drew sizzling breaths.

Because you’ve forgotten,” she said with the energy of glass about to crack. “And I haven’t. You think I would still be here if I had? Every day I wonder why it had to happen. Why do we have to fight this war? Why did my family have to die in it? Why do we let them get away with it? And here you are – leeching off your position as the ‘Heiress’ Son’. You’re not thinking about avenging that ‘friend’ of yours. You’ve gotten all comfy and cozy in your imaginary den, thinking that as long as you hide in the Heiress’ arms you won’t end up like he did. That’s how I know and that’s what you are. You’re scared and you’re useless. And that’s why I can kill you right here and you won’t do anything about it.”

The Warden pushed him aside and started to leave the clearing, walking past the still and silent children watching them. “Keep on running, Roun. You can hide forever, but that won’t change anything. Don’t ask me train with you anymore. I’m done.”

Roun wasn’t sure how long he’d been standing alone in the grove. Probably because they’d felt uneasy around him the others had left. A hard lump in his throat made it hard to swallow. He drew in a sudden breath through gritted teeth.

“What does she know?” He gripped his sword so tightly his fingers hurt. Leeching? Hiding? Running? What kind of accusations were those? “What’s her problem? So I fumbled a bit during training – big deal! You expect me to be ready when I haven’t warmed up? What do you expect? Why is she still hung up on it when it's been six years? Scared? Yeah right. Shut up. You don’t know anything - you don’t know anything - !”

He dropped his sword. A cough caught his lungs. Roun bent over, holding his chest, assailed by an abrupt pain. When it finally subsided a few seconds later, it left him panting and tired. Cret, was he getting overworked already? That didn’t make sense. Maybe the stress of the week had finally caught up to him. Roun clicked his tongue. Pathetic.

In the presence of the forest, it seemed as though the leaves rustled together. Eyes flashing, he jerked his head towards the forest behind him, shouting, “I know you’re there! Quit spying on me and come out!”

A moment of hesitation, then a Noturn wolf emerged from the bushes. It trotted up to him and tried to push its warm and fuzzy muzzle into his hand but he smacked it aside. The wolf snapped back.

“You saw all of that, didn’t you? You can’t fool me with that face. I know Uncle Jaanes sent you to spy on me. You’re always watching me and Dave. And you’re going to tell him everything that happened, is that it?”

The animal, big as it was, whined and tried to lick his face.

“Stop it, you big baby. Tattle-tale. Double-crosser.” His tone remained harsh, but his fingers started to rub the soft fur. “And then you get treats when you do a good job. Yeah, that’s all it takes to bribe you…” Roun trailed off. He gazed with blank eyes at the wolf, and it looked back, a sort of inquisitive light in its large yellow eyes. Petting the canine helped him calm down. A small smile eventually came to his face.

“Hey… thanks for covering for Dave the other time. You did good.” His hand stopped. The smile dropped. The wolf nudged his arm, seeing him despondent. Roun paused half-breath, laughed anxiously. “I’m not hiding from anything… am I?”

A wag of the tail.

“You really going to play dumb? I know you know what I’m saying.” Roun picked up his weapon and placed it in its sheath with a scowl. “Raven doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She’s too upset about what happened she doesn’t really care if I do well or not. What does she know?” He glanced at the injured wood and turned away from it quickly. “C’mon, let’s go see what Dave’s up to.”

Though he left the grove, the groove between his brows didn’t leave, nor did the heavy weight brooding in his chest.


Chapter 11: Infighting - Pt. 2

“…And then the wolf flipped him over and he got a wild scolding from the Wardens.” Dae laughed at the memory. “Lesson of the story? Don’t mess with the wolves and don’t mess with the Wardens. They’re pretty much the same.”
 
“Roun gets into a lot of trouble, doesn’t he?” Dave said with a slight smile.
 
“Dave, keep your head in the fight.” Kon tapped him on the head with his staff. “Although I think the lesson of that story is actually – don’t be Roun. Now stop braking your swings halfway and Dae, would you stop distracting us with stories? What are you doing here? Fetch your own partner.”

“Raven said we had to do something with Dave so I figured it’d be us three together.” Dae shrugged. “Should I throw rocks at the same time to see if he can block them? It won’t count as infighting.” She chuckled at her own joke.
 
Kon groaned. “Ignore her. C’mon Dave. Stick up.”
 
Dave raised the staff they had lent him. He was only partially watching his training partner, able to move in coordination with the moves by not looking directly at the other. His other eye was constantly drawn to the other training pair not too far from them. Eono had been drilling Shira in counters. The girl kept up well, able to slide by or parry when the attacks came to her right side. But when Eono swung one at her from the left, she’d misjudge the distance and miss the counter.
 
Eono feinted a stab at her left side. Shira prepared to side step and redirect it. The warden withdrew his sword, Shira mistakenly followed it, put too much force into her step and stumbled.

Dave held his breath.

“It’s okay, Shira,” Eono said.

“No, it’s not!” Shira scowled as she stood and brushed off her outfit. “There’s no point…”
 
“You’re doing fine.” The warden knelt down, taking her hands in his. “You have a handicap, fine. But it’s all there, the practice and the habit. Now it all needs to gel.”
 
The girl withdrew her hands, giving him a guarded look. “Not when there’s nothing to stick it together,” she returned sullenly.
 
Eono smiled with a soft gaze. “Let’s try again, shall we?”
 
“Fine.”
 
Kon rapped Dave’s forehead with the tip of his staff.
 
“Ow. Hey.” Dave frowned.
 
“You wouldn’t have been hit if you were looking!”
 
“Is that how you’re going to play it? Okay, I can do that too.” Dave finally focused his full attention in front of him and started spinning his staff. It was Janos’ turn to watch him – exactly what he wanted. First, he did the usual – strike here, swing there, rap tap tap against the other staff, tap dap dap away the ones Janos threw at him. Then out of the blue, Dave feinted losing his grip on his weapon and threw it into the air. Janos moved in to strike – just as Dave thought he would. But he had his cards ready. He did a backflip, surprising them, and before he landed, whipped out two throwing daggers.
 
One aimed for the forehead Kon blocked, but the other nicked his ankle. “Cret!” He yelped, hopping on one foot and shooting a glare at Dave. “You sly little – show off!”
 
Dae cracked up, smacking a tree. “Dave’s a beast!”
 
“Sorry!” Dave hurried over to him. “Are you okay? I didn’t cut anything, did I?”
 
Fortunately, it looked like he’d done the damage of a small paper cut. “You really like to throw things, don’t you?” Kon gasped. “We’re going to have to fix that habit. The point is to hold on to your weapon. What good are throwing knives when your opponent can hit you faster from a few feet away?”
 
“Still, he got you good,” Dae chortled. “You can handle a fight as well as any of us. What were you hiding your skills for?”
 
Kon sighed. “Just try to focus on what’s in front of you, Dave.”
 
“Okay,” Dave said as gravely as possible, but a soft red coloured his face. They didn’t seem to hate him after all. If he could hold his own against them, this competition didn’t seem so bad. As long as they were his opponents, anyway… “By the way, who’s that other Warden?” He sneaked another glance at the neighbouring pair.
 
The three turned their attention to Shira struggling to get in range to strike Eono. “Raven called him an Adsoku. He must be from the family that lives in the cliff on the west side of the village,” Kon surmised. “Which is weird, because we’re usually taught by Wardens within our own family.”
 
“But you know what that means?” Dae nudged Dave with her elbow. “If we cross out all the Wardens involved in the training, we can guess who’s going to be on the judge roster this year. Then you can cater your performance to please whoever’s managing the category.”
 
“That’s blatant cheating, Dae.”
 
“Nah, it ain’t. It’s conforming to the system, taking advantage of all opportunities – ”
 
“Dave, most people pass when they’re eighteen, so don’t mind this willy-nilly child and focus on getting used to the training. Passing is bonny, but performance is better.”
 
“Right…” Dave wondered how much of that was true in an actual fight. As he’d never been in an actual life or death situation, it was hard to say. “Would you have to perform your best in order to pass?”
 
Sometimes you have to pass on a horrible performance, or a dirty one.
 
“I’d like to avoid that as much as I can right now…”
 
“What’s that?” Janos said.
 
Dave smiled briefly. “Oh, nothing.”
 
“Sorry, Shira!” Eono was helping Shira up again, after who knew how many times that was now. “Maybe we should take a break?”
 
The girl kept on a steady scowl. She turned her back on him. “Whatever.”
 
“Don’t say that. I think that was still good training nonetheless. Just keep practicing, okay? I’ll just check on the others for a bit.”
 
Shira waited till the Warden was faced the other way before she whipped around, grabbed a spare staff, and whacked the back of his legs with it. Eono’s knees buckled.
 
“Shira!” Kon exclaimed, and Dae gaped in disbelief on the edge of a short laugh.
 
Putting down the staff, Shira dusted off her hands with a self-satisfied look. A short-lived triumph, as Eono recovered himself and fixed an impressed eye on her. “Okay, I’ll give that one to you. Only because you asked for it!” He picked her up like a doll and spun around in circles while laughing. “Look who’s playing dirty!”
 
“Put me down!” Shira protested.
 
“Why do you keep babying her?” A dark voice entered the grove.
 
It was as if the temperature dropped. Raven stood in the entrance of the clearing, staring coolly at them all. Eono set Shira down. The smile vanished from his face.
 
Dave watched the cousins pass tense glances at each other. Could Raven have come at a worse time? Hadn’t Roun been training with her? And was it just him, or was her mood more acidic than before?
 
“Lighten up, Raven. What’s gotten you so grumpy?” Eono seemed to have noticed it as well. Slowly, however, even the man began to exude a chilly aura.
 
“You can leave, Eono. Your soppy training will only make the kids softer.” Raven walked through. Dave stepped back, as if the gravity surrounding her would crush him. Only Eono stood his ground and watched her narrowly when she passed him.
 
“Beat them hard, and they’ll turn so brittle they’ll break,” he said quietly.
 
“If breaking them will help form a better future, I’m willing to do that.”
 
“Raven!” Eono called after her, but she kept going. He started to follow, then checked himself. “What should I…” he mumbled in undertones. Dave barely heard him. “You think so too?” Was the Warden talking to himself? Dave stared. “I’ll try and talk to her.” Without a word to the warriors in training, Eono went to seek out Raven.
 
Both adults away, the tension in the grove lifted. They could finally breathe easily. Dae sighed dramatically. “That was scary. Did you see how close Raven was to punching Eono in the face? That would not have been pretty.”
 
“As I saw it, they were already throwing punches.” Kon shook his head.
 
Dave retrieved his daggers. He paused by the edge of the clearing. Raven scared him too, for different reasons, although he couldn’t place it exactly. “Maybe ‘cause they're adults, but they’re still acting impulsively.” He shrugged his shoulders at no one in particular and was about to return to the others when a prickle in his side caught his attention. Curiously, he peered into the forest. The leaves waved for a second, as if saying “nothing out of order here”, but instinct said otherwise. Reaching out, Dave pushed aside the bushes and found a certain cousin laying on the ground, hands behind his head, eyes closed.
 
Roun frowned.
 
“Oh,” Dave said. “How long were you going to stay there?”
 
A grunt. “Until practice was over.”
 
“Roun, sleeping again?” Dae and Kon discovered them. Groaning, Roun got himself up and stepped into the clearing with a yawn. “If he’s not missing, he’s napping,” Dae told Dave.
 
“I’m conserving energy. Unlike you folks, I had an exhausting session I have no strength to spare.” Roun face his palms out.
 
“Yeah, you don’t look too good,” Dave observed.
 
“If you want, you can hightail outta here before Raven gets back,” Dae snickered.
 
“And get automatic penalty? No thanks.” Roun snorted.
 
“Well, I doubt practice will last much longer, guessing from the Wardens’ moods about now,” Kon said. “Wouldn’t do you any good to stay, I reckon.”
 
At the mention of leaving, Dave quickly turned his eyes over the clearing. To his disappointment, the one he wanted to talk to had made herself scarce. How could she secret herself away so easily? “Hey, Dae, where did you sister –“ he started to say when he suddenly felt the air around him change. It caught him mid-breath, followed by a burst of noise.
 
A howl rose over the forest. Loud and echoing, it hid the location of the animal. When it struck a high note, the howl fell slowly, gradually like a police siren. Everyone went rigid, searching the air. If Roun wasn’t awake before, now he certainly was.
 
“What is it?” What’s wrong?” Dave asked, noticing the serious looks shared by his cousins.
 
“That’s a reinforcements cry,” Kon said seriously. “It’s an emergency.”
 
Roun took one second to listen to the howl, then launched towards one of the other groves without a word. Dae tugged Dave’s arm as she passed him and they all followed.
 
Several of the others ran the other way in panic while some froze in place hesitantly. Roun sprinted through the different areas, searching for a source of trouble. It was when they neared the farthest area that they heard sounds of dry metal bouncing through the air, rapid and solid, along with loud rustling noises of feet scraping against the ground.
 
“Don’t go that way!” one tried to block them. “They’ve lost it!”
 
Roun ignored them and pushed through to the grove. The scent of blood hit their noses. They stopped in their tracks.
 
Eono and Raven whipped from side to side of the clearing like twin bullets, tearing up the ground, trying to rip each other apart. A coat of red splattered Eono’s face. His eyes were a wildfire burning through the blood. He’d drawn two swords that whistled shrilly as they combated against the whooshing double-ended javelin. Not hindering her movements in any way, Raven’s headdress and billowing clothes gave her an intimidating presence. Their strikes rang out. The children flinched with the sound of each solid impact – attacks meant to cause severe injuries. If they didn’t know any better, it would seem like a tightly choreographed action scene, so narrow where the Warden’s movements to evade and counter without taking damage.
 
“What’s going on? Why are they fighting?” Dave shrank back. He stared at Eono and almost didn’t recognize the man. The sunny pleasant disposition was replaced by a murderous aura. Was he the same man from before? To undergo such a drastic transformation, what had triggered them?
 
The leaves rustled over them. An Acor child that had been left behind dropped down from a tree and joined them, his face pale and sweaty. “Did you bring them?” he squeaked.
 
“What?” Dae blurted.
 
“The Wardens! Didn’t you hear the wolf?”
 
 “No one else is here. What the cret happened?”
 
The child drew away from the scuffle. “I don’t know. They started shouting at each other and it suddenly blew up into that!” He fled without a second thought.
 
Kon pulled them to the side. “Wait, here, I’m going to see where the Wardens are.” His eyes darted anxiously, and he left them.
 
“Should we stop them?” Dave felt ready to bolt himself.
 
“I’d rather die by falling off a cliff and then I’d rather not die, thank you,” Roun raised an eyebrow, features strained.
 
“How can you be joking at a time like this?” Dae said timorously. “I’m going to call my mom.” She pulled out her phone, but Roun grabbed her arm.
 
“Watch out!” He yanked her aside. One of Eono’s swords flew through the air and stabbed the ground where she’d been standing. The wardens fight crashed into their side of the clearing. Having unhanded one of Eono’s weapons, Raven now seemed to be dominating the duel, forcing Eono back with her wide range.
 
The moment came. Eono found himself obstructed by trees. Raven stepped forward, spinning the javelin. One end slammed his sword into the ground followed by the other stabbing into his shoulder. Eono grabbed the shaft with both hands before it could sink in deep. They could see him shaking as it took all his strength to keep it from punching a hole through him. Blood trickled from his hands. He gave a shaky smile.
 
“Skewered between my enemy and my best friend, I take it?” Eono chuckled. “But what does it matter, when there’s no difference between the two?”
 
“There is none for someone with such a weak constitution as yours,” Raven hissed. “All it leads to is sending them to an early death – I guess you wouldn’t even care if it was your own family!”
 
Eono’s smile broke. Dave froze when he saw it. With all his being he wanted to leave the clearing, but the same wild look held him still. No long did Eono seem like a man. His eyes held the soul of a rabid creature. With unexpected strength, Eono flung the blade tip from his shoulder and staggered to his feet. Raven stumbled back, mouth agape.
 
“Raven – Eono - stop!” Roun shouted.
 
For the first time, Dave saw her hesitate. Her body tensed. She held the javelin with uncertainty. Surprise stayed briefly. Raven recovered and braced herself, as if expecting something to happen. She was right.
 
It happened in a flash. Black resolution wrapped around Eono like a case. Raven attempted to pin him again. Eono darted past it with lightning steps. Before Raven could process the shift, Eono wove in and grabbed her arm.
 
Crack!
 
Dae screamed involuntarily. Roun caught himself mid-gasp, eyes wide. Dave had flinched and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he saw Raven teetering with her right arm dangling at her side in a very wrong way.
 
Except that wasn’t the end of it.
 
Without pausing, Eono snatched his sword and rushed at Raven, no recognition of family in his eyes, a ragged sneer on his face.
 
Roun cried out, “Eono – NO!”

The tip of the blade swung towards her neck –
 
And a pair of black jaws grabbed the blade, wrenching it out of the man’s hands. A gigantic black wolf exploded into the grove and bowled Eono over with a roar.
 
Several Wardens swarmed into the area. Some directed their attention Raven and others to Eono, now pinned under the growling wolf. Rave cradled her arm and sunk to her knees, any expression hidden behind her mask.
 
“Great cret…” Dae dropped to the ground in shock.
 
Stunned by the sight of wolves, Dave stared. They were twice as large as the pup, their auras fierce and unfriendly. The one holding down Eono stepped off when a man knelt beside him and Dave gave a start.
 
“It’s dad…”
 
Jaanes either ignored or hadn’t noticed them. He grabbed Eono’s arm and forced him to sit up. Eono looked without seeing, no energy in his gaze. It was as if all killing intent had evaporated. The Warden gradually returned to his senses. Blood on his hands startled him. His pupils became two frightened pinpoints. A morbid look formed on his face and his mouth dropped open.

“Dear Cretanneh…” his voice cracked. “I…what did I do?”
 
 “Eono.” Jaanes shook his shoulders, trying to get his attention. “What’s going on here?”
 
Not hearing him, Eono cradled his head in his hands. Unexpected words left his mouth. “How could you? I shouldn’t have listened – this isn’t funny – stop laughing – stop laughing!“
 
“Get it together!” Jaanes struck him and Eono saw him, bewildered. The Wardens had taken Raven away for medical help, and now he was yanked to his feet.



NTS: Edits + Considerations
Chapter 11
- Didn't have many edits this time around, surprisingly. Altered a little bit of dialogue perhaps.

Consideration
- Maybe mention that Roun had regularly practiced with Raven before?

« Last Edit: March 20, 2020, 11:23:45 PM by Echo_River »
No one is perfect . . . that's why there's erasers and extra paper.
DA: http://neysun.deviantart.com
IG: https://www.instagram.com/neysun_hao/
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/star-lock

Offline Echo_River

  • Mild Observer
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1953
  • Gender: Female
  • Need Chips
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2020, 11:44:09 AM »
Chapter 12: Wardens' Meeting

“Roun,” Dave called out. “Roun, where are you going?”
 
His cousin ducked away from the training areas, adeptly avoiding the eyes of the Wardens busy containing the rest of the children in the clearing. Of all the times he’d spent with Roun, Dave had never seen such a serious expression on his face.
 
“Following the Wardens,” Roun answered in nervous undertones without slowing down.
 
“Why?” Dave kept his voice down. It felt wrong to be leaving. An incident had occurred. Restrain orders were in effect. They were witnesses to the act. Someone was going to come looking for them. He felt on edge, but no one stopped them.

Roun opened his mouth and paused. Then, “I’m worried about Warden Eono.”
 
Odd, Dave thought. His cousin was worrying about someone other than himself? “But, he didn’t have that serious of an injury, compared to Raven,” he puzzled out loud. “Shouldn’t we stay with the others?”
 
“Forget that. Didn’t you see how wack he went? That – he didn’t seem like himself.”
 
“That was crazy,” Dave agreed. Crazy and incredibly so too. Hadn’t Eono just been laughing with them earlier? And to emanate such a killing aura, as if it had been someone else entirely...
 
“They’re going to bring him in for questioning,” Roun continued breathlessly. “When a Warden steps out of line, they get brought before the council and get punished based on the severity of the fault.”
 
“Punished?” Dave exclaimed. “What kind of punishment?”
 
“For infighting and attacking a fellow Warden? Something bad.”
 
“Whipping?”
 
“That’s outdated.”
 
“Oh.” Dave frowned. “Where are they going to do it?”
 
“At the Hall, where the Chief is.”
 
The two arrived at the road that circled the hill. Roun glanced side to side, then pulled Dave to the left into thick bushes, whispering, “Over here – quick, before they see us.” A moment later, a hover vehicle that looked like the back part of a pick-up truck whistled by, transporting a group of Wardens and Eono. Once it disappeared around the bend, they sprinted across the road. Rather than taking the stairs to the hall, Roun led Dave to a narrow side passage hidden within the thick foliage of plants growing on the hill.
 
They crept through the bushes for a bit when it cleared to reveal a small round window in the hillside. Roun signalled him to stay unseen as they approached it. They peered slowly through the quartered glass. It looked down into a large hall where a number of Wardens were gathered. Judging from their position, Dave realized it had to be under the Acori hall. He’d never considered there was more to the hill than what was on top.
 
“How did you find this spot?” Dave said. And why were there even a window here?
 
“You weren’t here the previous summers, so you wouldn’t know,” Roun replied. “This happened before.”
 
A warden attacking their comrade or someone being punished? Dave wanted to ask, but the doors inside opened and his father with the Wardens brought Eono in. They pushed him to his knees in the middle of the floor as the group stood around, looking on.
 
Then a door on the opposite side opened and a trio of figures entered. Dave recognized Warden Waron as one of them.
 
“That’s Chief Jacke, in the middle,” Roun said, with some excitement.
 
Dave could’ve guessed it. The man’s grey-streaked hair, decorated outfit, and grave presence he bore the moment he appeared all declared, “Important person!” At once, all in the room but the two Warden’s by the Chief’s side crossed an arm over their chests and bowed onto one knee.
 
“That’s Dae and Shira’s mom,” Roun continued explaining, unmoved by the process of formality proceeding below.
 
“Where?” Dave squinted. The amount of movement disorientated him.
 
“The lady with the hat that looks like a spinning top.”
 
“She’s one of the Chief’s personal bodyguards,” said Shira.
 
The boys whipped their heads around. Crouched beside Dave was the little girl, having somehow joined them without notice. Dave started to gasp when Shira clapped his jaw shut. “Shh,” she hissed. To Dave’s surprise, she opened the window a crack with a quiet tug.
 
Rise,” they heard the Chief say. The Wardens stood, all but Eono. “What is the manner of offence that has been committed to gather the council?” Chief Jacke asked, his deep rich tones reaching their ears easily.
 
Jaanes replied. “Warden Eono has engaged in combat with Warden Raven that resulted in injury, namely fracturing Raven’s arm.” His manner struck Dave as familiar. He’d never seen his father at work, but it seemed his role wasn’t much different here.
 
“Was the combat supervised and authorized?” Chief Jacke continued.
 
“No, sir. According to the wolves, they initiated combat over a personal disagreement, disrupting the children’s training, and committing the error of infighting. The children and surveillance also testify to this.”
 
“I see. What was the subject of disagreement?”
 
Jaanes paused. “A disagreement over training methods. Raven stated –“
 
“I will hear from Raven herself when she has recovered.” Chief Jacke shook his head gravely. “The fact they allowed their differences to augment into hostility will not be tolerated. Waron, summon the ambassadors.”
 
Waron left the room and two adults in outfits starkly different from the rest entered. Waron did not return.
 
“That was fast,” said Roun. “It usually takes a couple hours to sort out the proceedings. Those are the ambassador Wardens from the Adsoku Family. If they declared a verdict without them, it’d be considered bias and foul play. I wonder if they’ll try to bail him.”
 
When the Adsoku Wardens arrived, Chief Jacke reiterated the offences to them, then allowed them to speak. A bit of talk went back and forth, clarifying the situation. In the end, the ambassadors looked grave but made no attempt to redeem their fellow man.
 
The Chief then approached the Warden in error. Eono hung his head, eyes trained on the floor, shoulders moving up and down from laboured breathing.
 
“Eono Adsoku, sworn Warden to the Acor, what have you to say?”
 
The flat silence where the man’s voice lingered on. They could hear Eono panting. His wounds had not been treated to. The children held their breaths.
 
A laugh shattered the silence.
 
“Eono?”
 
“I did what you told me,” Eono said hoarsely. The way he said it confused Dave. Who was he talking to? “You think I did, right? I’m thinking again and –“
 
“Eono, speak properly or speak not at all,” Chief said.
 
The man raised his head and looked directly at his questioner. He smiled, the same stretchy smile he wore when Dave first met him. Except this time, it was not a friendly expression there. It was just oddly wrong. His large eyes made the children shiver. They were dark…so dark…
 
“She was wrong, sir, Raven was wrong.”
 
“And that alone induced you to break her arm?”
 
“I had to – I had to do it.” Eono spoke with a strange quiver. “If I didn’t, she wouldn’t have stopped.”
 
“Is that any excuse from a grown man? Could you not have talked it out with her?”

Eono turned fierce. “That’s what it told me to do. There was no way about it. Talk? What good does talking do between warriors? What good can talking do with your enemies? Do you know what she would have done to me?”
 
“Warden, defer respect to the Chief,” Jaanes barked.
 
Words fell deaf on Eono. He staggered to his feet, eyes wide, teeth bared. “I bet it told her the same thing!” A few Wardens made to subdue him but he threw them off. “She attacked me first! She would’ve killed me!”
 
“You were going to kill her!”
 
Eono lunged. Several Wardens pulled him back0 struggling and crying. “She would’ve killed me! The voice told me – I had to -!”
 
“For the offence of infighting, Warden Eono will be placed in solitary confinement for seven days to reflect on his actions.” Chief stated, unfazed. “For the attempted assault on his chief… Eono will be stripped of his Warden status until further investigation is held.”
 
“What?” Dave blurted. Roun shook his head, expressionless. Shira kept her eyes on Eono still as a statue.
 
“Escort him to the lower floor. Use the White Room if you have to.” Chief dismissed those restraining Eono, and when they left, a disturbed atmosphere hung over the remaining group. The children started to draw away, feeling it was time to leave when a Warden below spoke up, catching their attention.
 
“This is getting too far.”
 
“That’s another one. Wasn’t anyone monitoring him?” someone else questioned.
 
 “There is no excuse for his behaviour, Chief.” The Adsoku ambassadors bowed. “We would like to express our regret for not being aware he’d been acting strangely. We will re-evaluate our family again and send you an updated list.”
 
“I am also sorry.” Chief Jacke extended a hand to them. “Please let your family leader know I will pay him a visit later.” They were dismissed.

The moment they left, apprehension grew among the Wardens of the Tiuruh Family. Agitated voices rose from the room, one after the other, growing louder.
 
“We can’t scrutinize every leaf and bug in the forest,” one objected.
 
“How many does that make this month? Five?”
 
“It’s true then, that rumour?”
 
“You haven’t noticed? If this is happening to us, imagine the chil-”
 
“Isn't it about time we contacted that agent? We’ve left this matter long enough. More are going to get hurt!”
 
“Just how many of us have -”
 
“Aaaand that’s enough,” a playfully dark voice whispered into the ears of the children as a pair of arms grabbed them from behind. Dave yelped, taken fully by surprise. His focus had been so riveted by the on-goings in the hall. Shira cried out in annoyance. Their struggles were futile against an animal grip. A boot pushed the window closed. Then they were carried into the bushes before the arms released them.
 
Dave scrambled away and whirled to see who had caught them so completely off guard. Shira wasted no time in setting her outfit straight before turning to the Warden behind them with a partial scowl. “Uncle Waron!” she scolded.
 
Leaned against a tree, Waron looked at them with crinkled eyes that boldly announced his hidden grin. He leaned down to Shira’s eye level. She stayed stolid as a tree trunk and glared back with her one eye. Dave rubbed his arms. He could still feel the pressure from that incredibly solid grip.
 
“Hm, jittery chipmunk? What did I do?” Waron mimicked her annoyed tone. “I don’t think I did anything wrong. Was I spying and eavesdropping on a confidential Wardens-Only meeting?”
 
“No, that was us. Sorry,” Dave said flatly. Seeing as they were caught, there wasn’t really any need to hide it. Not to mention, messing with the “Leopard”, as Roun would say it, was probably a horrible idea.
 
Waron laughed, straightening his posture. “You’re too honest, Dave. Shira, you should learn from him. Besides, it’s your own fault you didn’t hear me creep up behind you. An enemy would have dispatched you from afar.”
 
“Yeah, but you weren’t aiming to stab us in the back,” Dave added.
 
“Are you saying I don’t induce terror? I’m hurt.” Waron feigned hurt.
 
“Shouldn’t you be with the Chief?” Shira glared at him.
 
“Why? He isn’t in any danger. Patrolling is also part of my job. I got the memo that a couple little squirrellys had escaped from the training grounds. That’s a no-no.”
 
“Sorry, it was Roun’s idea,” Dave said.
 
“Dave, you shouldn’t be apologizing for other people. But of course! Who else would have thought of such an idea! Where is that devious scamp that ran away?”
 
Dave suddenly realized Roun’s absence again. His cousin really had a knack of vanishing without anyone knowing, just like how Waron and Shira could creep up on someone without being noticed.

Shira clicked her tongue. “Just what you’d expect of him.”
 
A cough interrupted them. “I’m right here,” a voice replied from the side. Roun’s head peered out from where he crouched behind some bushes. “Figured you saw us when you left the hall, uncle Waron.”
 
“You could have told us too!” Shira exclaimed.
 
“Welcome back, Roun.” The Warden cracked his knuckles. “I was just about to send a wolf after you. Great that you’ve decided to return. Now we can talk.”
 
“Are we in trouble?” Dave gulped.
 
“Maybe.” Waron shrugged. “And maybe I have to poke you children in the side for it. Because as a Warden, and Chief’s personal bodyguard, I have a sacred duty and right to chastise those who on purposely trespass on the rules. You’re welcome.”
 
“There’s no rule saying you can’t spy on Warden meetings,” Shira contended.
 
“Words meant for Wardens are for Wardens to hear, cross kitty. No exceptions. Not even the creeping critters.” Waron eyed them. Where he was, he effectively blocked any paths of escape. Even in his relaxed state they each felt that he could spring at them. Dave wondered if Roun would try to make a run for it. But then again, the Wardens could summon them at any time. What if their punishment was being kicked from the festival?
 
Waron continued. “Let’s get this straight. What are you kids doing here?”
 
Dave glanced at Roun. To his surprise, his cousin stood up and stepped forward. “What happened with Eono?” Roun demanded. “Why is he acting like that? Don’t say it has nothing to do with us because we were at the training grove and we could have gotten seriously hurt too.”
 
“And this is why…” Waron decided to sit cross-legged in front of them. “I’m going to place a gag order on everything you just saw and heard.”
 
“That uncle Eono is acting weirdly?” Shira said, “Everyone saw that.”
 
“Does Eono have, er, a multiple personality disorder?” Dave asked.
 
“Hah! You would circulate the most interesting theories, Dave.” Waron laughed. “Eono’s perfectly normal. What you saw there was tempers hitting max capacity and exploding.”
 
Roun raised his chin and crossed his arms. “Oh yeah? Then explain the ‘voice’ Eono kept yelling about. You can’t make me believe that he turned psycho within seconds on his own. You know Eono isn’t like that. Does the ‘voice’ have something to do with this?” Dave and Shira held their breaths, also hoping to hear an answer to that.
 
Waron looked at the boy coldly. “I don’t have to explain anything to you. You forget what you saw here and tell no one. If I hear one peep, chirp, or twitter about this in the village, I’m telling your parents,” he growled. “Or should I exclude you all from the festival? I’m sure your parents would love to hear why.”
 
“No!” all three children objected at the same time, shocked.
 
“We’re all in agreement then.” Waron chuckled, eyes smiling. As often as his expression changed, not once did he let up the feeling he could pounce on them any second. Now his eyes returned like sharpened daggers. He regarded each of them in turn.
 
When he met the Warden’s gaze, Dave froze up. His heart rate increased. He felt as vulnerable as a bunny before the jaws of its predator.  So this is what Roun meant. Through presence alone could Waron instill a sense of acute fear – fear of being killed. Dave made a mental note never to personally anger the Leopard. And he hadn’t even seen the man in action yet.
 
“But what if…this happens again?” Roun asked tentatively.
 
Waron got up and snickered. “Obviously, don’t let me ‘catch’ you.”
 
“No, I meant-“
 
But the Warden ambled off without another word.
 
Roun sat back in defeat. “I mean, what if this happens to someone else...?”


NTS: Edits + Changes to be made
Chapter 12
- Changed a couple of dialogue lines and added some minor descriptions.

- I think if there was anything more I would change in the future, it'd be the dialogue, just to make some parts sound smoother and such as my "serious talking" can be pretty rigid.

Changes to be made
- Children were meant to stay within supervision after the incident, so Dave, Roun, and Shira basically break the rules. Need to make that more obvious here.

Only a couple chapters or so more until I'll have posted everything I've written so far.

Part One of Charred Life has developed a kinda unexpectedly for me. As a story I've tried writing from the beginning several times, I;m a little detached from the beginning of it, but at the same time feeling very familiar with the characters and the world so it's not that hard to write in that sense.

My challenges for Part One were world-building and structure mostly. Some of my other projects are easier to delve right into because I'm using already known elements (fairies, monsters, dragons, etc.), but this one involves lots of things I felt I needed to build from the ground up without info overloading (ultra guilty of that *cough cough*). My main motivations have been wanting to progress the story in a way that (hopefully) makes sense and enjoying the world it's set in while I'm at it.

At its current pace, I think Part One will be split into three sizable Acts? Arcs? This Chapter 12 is about a little over half of Act I. There might be 4-6 more chapters after this. I'm anticipating Act II to be around the same length.


« Last Edit: March 30, 2020, 09:13:23 PM by Echo_River »
No one is perfect . . . that's why there's erasers and extra paper.
DA: http://neysun.deviantart.com
IG: https://www.instagram.com/neysun_hao/
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/star-lock

Offline Echo_River

  • Mild Observer
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1953
  • Gender: Female
  • Need Chips
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2020, 12:04:03 AM »
Character Art and Concepts



Roun


Dave


Shira


Dae


Concepts

Some concepts for the Wardens -








Top Down Village view.

(Just a rough sketch. Trying to figure out how to map out the village.)






« Last Edit: March 21, 2020, 12:19:58 AM by Echo_River »
No one is perfect . . . that's why there's erasers and extra paper.
DA: http://neysun.deviantart.com
IG: https://www.instagram.com/neysun_hao/
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/star-lock

Offline legomaestro

  • High Chancellor of Righteousness
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 20070
  • Gender: Male
  • real life has wack graphics
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2020, 09:28:54 AM »
Really like how cool Dave looks. Nuyori has a cool design too, and I love that village map design. I'm interested in backgrounds a lot these days so that's something I like to see quite a bit. How expansive is your universe? What's the magic system like?

Top notch pencil-work as always

Offline Echo_River

  • Mild Observer
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1953
  • Gender: Female
  • Need Chips
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2020, 08:29:40 PM »
I really want to get into doing more background drawings too! Especially where the village has its diversity in different areas

As for universe, it'll get pretty big. I'm focused on a small part of the world at the moment, but I'll be showing more and more over time. There may be even an possibility of traveling to other worlds in the future c: One of my to-do list things is to remap the world. My current one doesn't make any sense lol.

Looking at certain elements in my story, I think it's closer to sci-fi than fantasy? So rather than a magic system, there are certain rules the world follows that continues to be expanded on.

For example, a concept that gets introduced early is that everything in the world is held together by Universal Energy, or UE. And manipulating UE is how many things work in the village, like fences to ward off wild animals, floating platforms, self-reconstructing objects, and hover vehicles. Although it looks like fantasy when juxtaposed against the traditional village setting, but the villagers can't harness the energy themselves.
No one is perfect . . . that's why there's erasers and extra paper.
DA: http://neysun.deviantart.com
IG: https://www.instagram.com/neysun_hao/
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/star-lock

Offline legomaestro

  • High Chancellor of Righteousness
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 20070
  • Gender: Male
  • real life has wack graphics
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2020, 03:15:03 PM »
Well isn't there an element of that in every fantasy novel? Even in Lord Of The Rings gunpowder does exist. The laws of physics and the minerals required for an advanced civilization exist even though there's magic. Indeed, maybe even magic is part of boring real scientific fact. I think it's fun to play around with the idea so if UE ever comes up you should definitely take it as a chance for interesting conversation... If that makes sense?

I'm realizing more and more how much character backgrounds lead to scenes. I'm so excited by the prospect of developing it as good as I am with human figures: Not too good, but enough to be serviceable. I think if I reach even that stage i'll be super happy with my art haha.

Offline Echo_River

  • Mild Observer
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1953
  • Gender: Female
  • Need Chips
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #22 on: March 28, 2020, 10:41:04 PM »
That makes sense. I suppose it could count as magic then? If so, then it'd be a hard magic system. Definitely want to add in some of those conversations, but I hope they don't come off as stiff and rigid. Usually, I find it a little difficult for the explanation to sound natural and not like an encyclopedia.


Some more concept art.
Here's where influence from Studio Ghibli shows heavy. These are subject to change, but I really enjoy playing around with the idea of massive, long-lived animals.

Familiy Guardians







No one is perfect . . . that's why there's erasers and extra paper.
DA: http://neysun.deviantart.com
IG: https://www.instagram.com/neysun_hao/
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/star-lock

Offline legomaestro

  • High Chancellor of Righteousness
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 20070
  • Gender: Male
  • real life has wack graphics
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2020, 05:45:27 AM »
Man Echo these are really cool! I just love world-building stuff like this. I've got to say Elethro is my favourite and Onragod is my favourite name of the bunch. You really nailed the designs too.

And yes Ghibli is inspiration central. When you see the storyboards you can't help but expect a different standard from manga and anime. Miyazaki really puts himself into his work haha.


Sometimes information sounding like an encyclopaedia works! Lord of the Rings is a great example: It can be enjoyed at every level, from any age and at any level of lore. People learn the languages of the book and know all the history, some people just felt entertained by the actual events of the book. I feel you could do that quite well with Charred Life and your other stories too. You are a pretty good world-builder

Offline Echo_River

  • Mild Observer
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1953
  • Gender: Female
  • Need Chips
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #24 on: March 30, 2020, 09:45:52 PM »
Thanks! You'll be seeing them all in the story at some point.

I haven't read Lord of the Rings in a while. I do remember how heavy it was in that manner though. That's good to know. Looking back, I see I've mostly provided world info through dialogue. Oh shoot, that reminds me of another story I oughta share here where that would be great to use... gah, so many techniques to implement ^^;


Chapter 13: Shira

Whenever the voices of humans stopped, the voice of the forest kindly filled in. Seated on the ground where they were, the three Acor children brooded in stiff silence over their situation, listening to the chirping birds and crickets.

 Shira clicked her tongue. “’Tell our parents’, what a cheap move.”

 “It worked,” Dave said shakily. “Dad’s the last person I want to get in trouble with.”

Roun tried to speak when he fell into a coughing fit. He clapped a hand over his mouth.

 “Are you okay?” Dave asked, worried.

 “Yeah,” Roun said through the last coughs. “Slightly overworked, I think. All this early morning practice and excitement. I was going to say, this isn’t the first time they’ve tried to hide something from us.”

 “What happened before?”

 “No one knows exactly,” Shira answered curtly.

“One of the other kids saw something they weren’t supposed to or something. There were rumours. They placed a gag order on that too.” Roun inhaled deeply. “Just makes you more and more curious. But – they can disqualify you from the festival if you cross boundaries, so I won’t tempt the tigers this time.”

“But –“ Dave started but Roun burst into coughing again. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Out of shape?” Shira remarked.

“I am never out of shape, just out of sorts,” Roun objected, not looking them in the eye as he stood up. “I just need a nap, stat. Look, I’mma head back to the house, Dave. Don’t let me tie you down. You can crash at Dae’s for lunch. Or ask Shira. I’ll catch up with you later.” Looking pale, he gave Dave a pat on the back and hurried off, practically sliding down the hill.

When he reached the road, Roun stopped to listen. It was silent. They hadn’t decided to follow. He walked forward a little more before he grabbed an overhanging branch and bent over, unable to keep back the coughs anymore.

“Not again,” Roun wheezed while hitting his chest with a shaking fist. Why was this happening now? He took deep breaths and wiped the sweat congealed on his face. Soon, a whine caught his attention. Slinking out of the trees on the other side of the road was the Noturn wolf. Approaching him slowly, the wolf lowered its head to touch his hand with its wet nose.

In a way, Roun was relieved it’d been around to watch him, as annoyed as he was with his uncle for setting the dogs on him. Feeling another bout of coughs coming on, he grasped the wolf’s fur, climbed on and slumped over. “Take me to the healer.”


***

As he watched his cousin leave, Dave lifted a reluctant hand in farewell. Things were happening so fast, he wasn’t sure what to place priority on. Should he follow Roun? He didn’t feel good about leaving him on his own, but his cousin seemed like he’d wanted to be alone. Training? After the incident today, he doubted anyone would want to do anymore. The Wardens’ meeting?

But, Dave was going to say, can’t we talk about among ourselves? As long as no one else knows, right? Does that count as a peep, chirp, or twitter?

Just because they’d been told to keep mum about the matter didn’t they would be able to stop thinking about it. Dave couldn’t stop thinking about it. Who could he talk to?

Do you really want to stay inside all day? the familiar voice of his mind pitched in.

 “Not really…but where could I go? I don’t the forest that well and dad wouldn’t want me exploring on my own,” Dave murmured.

The bushes rustled behind him. He turned to see Shira already slipping away.

Dave glanced back and forth between Roun and the young girl.

She’s just going to leave you here too?

“Hey, wait!” One thing for sure, Dave didn’t want to be left by himself right now. Without many other choices, he chased after Shira. She’d gone down to the road and walked briskly in the opposite direction of Roun. “Wait, Shira.”

“What?” The girl didn’t even look askance as he pulled up beside her.

“What are you doing now?”

“If you’re looking for Dae our house is the fifth one on the right when you arrive at our family area,” Shira said curtly.
Dave paused awkwardly. “I was asking about you.”

Shira fell into an equally awkward pause. “Raven found me first. Her penalty was collecting spax-berries. I didn’t technically do anything during sparring either.”

Penalty? Dave gave a start. “Wait, Raven found me first, not you.”

“You’re new,” the girl said coolly. “Plus, Raven finds your dad troublesome to deal with.”

Is that really it? Hearing this caused Dave to frown. After a few dead seconds where they kept walking, he asked. “Where do you find these spax-berries?”

“In the deep woods.”

Deep woods! Something about hearing that made Dave’s eyes light up. Cautiously, he asked, “With your sister?”

“By myself.”

Why is she going by herself? Didn’t Roun say it’s dangerous to go into that area alone?

“Isn’t it dangerous?” said Dave.

“Not if you keep to certain areas.”

You should go with her, just in case.

“Can I come with you?”

At this, Shira halted and give him a strange sidelong look. Dave was sure she hesitated for a moment before saying, “You don’t need to. It’s my penalty.” She resumed walking. It seemed to him they were just going in circles around the hill. Was she trying to make him lose interest?

“Yeah, but I blundered too. It should be my penalty as well,” he insisted.

“The deep woods isn’t a hike. You could get lost easily.” Shira picked up her pace.

Dave’s long strides wouldn’t let her get away from him. “Not if I follow you.”

“The terrain is tricky. You wouldn’t last.”

“You don’t know that.” Dave shrugged.

“Lots of wild animals and venomous plants too.”

You really don’t like company, do you? Dave sighed inwardly. “Let me come with you. I’ll help. And I want to see the deep woods,” Dave pleaded, as eager as a child begging to go to an amusement park at the edge of a cliff.

“You should wait for Roun. He knows his way around better. And won’t your dad be looking for you if you’re away for too long?”

Dave grimaced at her attempts to deter him. So what? He could do that too. “Speak for yourself. What if something happens to you out there? How would your sister feel? O-or your mom?” The last point he wasn’t sure about as he didn’t know the lady well enough to know her own rules regarding exploring the forest, but maybe she was the type to not mind if she was constantly with the Chief and not with her children.

To his surprise, his words took effect. A cloud of sullenness fell over the girl’s face. A soft growling noise sounded from her throat that ended in a face palm. “I guess…. You can come. Just don’t fall behind, don’t provoke the wild animals, and don’t expect me to cover for you. I won’t be responsible for your loss. Though you should be fine at your age.”

Spoken like a true warrior, Dave thought, mentally clenching a fist of victory.

“How do we get to the deep woods from here?”

“We’ll take a Birdie. It’s faster.” Their path proved to have direction as Shira headed towards a garage door set in the hill.

“A Birdie?” Dave’s heart gave an excited leap. Were these people so attuned to nature they possessed tame birds they could ride as well?

A beep sounded, followed by the whir of mechanisms. The garage door slid open. Dave peered into the dark area inside when lights on the ceiling turned on. His eyes grew round.

“That is nifty,” he exclaimed softly.


***

Converted from an old infirmary used in the days of the Zerakis, the healer’s house stood somewhat away from the main road in its own private area. While still easily accessible from different parts of the family area, the solitary building gave its patients privacy and surrounding it were small plots the healer cultivated necessary herbs for immediate use. Another added blessing of its outskirt position was the fact Roun could take all the back roads to the house without being seen.

“Thanks. You don’t need to watch over me anymore.” Roun dismounted the wolf and gave it a brief scratch behind the ears. “Go keep an eye on Dave.” The wolf whined and reluctantly left the petting hand. It glanced over its shoulder a few times before running into the forest.

 Scarcely was it out of sight when the door to the house swung open and a woman ran out, a massive bag bouncing on her shoulder.

“Who was it? Who’s hurt?” she gasped.

“You are a zillion seconds behind your cue, Aunt Swallow, the patient has already been escorted to the Hall’s medical facilities and I’ve come to you as the leftover scraps,” Roun replied, unsurprised at her disorderly appearance, hair wild and upset glasses.

At the news, the woman halted on the garden path, half-sobbing in disappointment. “I swear I heard the wolf only ten seconds ago.” Peering through small round spectacles, Swallow gave him a one-over. “What’s wrong with you? Feigning a headache to ditch practice –“ Roun interrupted her sentence through a wet-cough. When he took his sleeve away from his mouth, dark patches stained the fabric. Swallow grabbed his wrist, eyes glancing sharply from it to his pale face.

“When was the last time this happened?”

Inside, sitting on a low cot, Roun kept his eyes wide open as the healer, his Aunt Swallow and Waron’s sister, shone a light at him. After a thorough check-up, the woman sat across from him while digging through the various pouches on her belt, normally hidden by a shawl.

Roun fidgeted, his eyes wandering over the plants, implements, and jars in the room. “Couple summers ago. Just a small bit.”

“You oughta be taking better care of yourself, boy.”

“It doesn’t happen every time. Last year I passed the whole summer clear.”

From one of her pockets, Swallow handed him a dark raisin looking pill that he popped into his mouth. Her scrutinizing gaze never left him. “Just as before, the symptoms are the same. Heavy fatigue, slowed reactions and movements. Are you sleeping fine? Maybe you’re just tired.” Swallow offered a wry smirk.

“Impossible. I nap as much as a koala.”

“That’s the issue, isn’t it? You’re resting, eating, exercising like a healthy person, but it’s not adding up, kid. It’s manifested much sooner this year for sure. Are you just weaker this year?”

“Excuse me.” Roun rolled his eyes. “I’m in practice all year long.”

 “Is there something you’re doing different?”

“I’ve got a ton more on my plate, I can tell you that.”

A clipboard rested to the side. Swallow flipped up the papers on it. “Might be a factor. Not biting more than you can chew?”

 “More like getting sick of eating.” Roun sighed. A little drawstring pouch, filled with more little dark raisins, fell into his lap.

“One a day. Don’t push yourself. And don’t be afraid to speak up. We’re here for you.” Playfully, Swallow flicked the side of his head. “Remember that, okay? Now go home and get some rest.”


***

“Should we be going this fast?” Dave hollered over the pulsating hum of the engine.

“If you fall off, I’m not coming back for you,” Shira replied in salty tones.

Sitting behind the girl, Dave could only hold on for dear life as she zipped between trees and close gaps as if she were on some go kart track. Slightly nervous and excited, Dave flinched numerous times he thought they would nick the side of a tree trunk, or collide with an animal. Especially when Shira drove through a cluster of plants, he would squint his eyes uneasily. Sometimes he wondered if she’d forgotten he was taller because she would pass under naturally made forest archways that were perfect for her, but forced him to duck quickly to avoid decapitation.

Although he’d never been on one, Dave surmised they travelled at the speeds of a motorcycle on a freeway. Shira directed the vehicle through the colorful landscape like it was nothing and he had no time to get his bearings. From what he could tell, they followed a trail leading away from the village that kept going for a good while. He hoped his dad wasn’t looking for him at this very moment.

“How far is it to the deep woods?” Dave asked.

“We’re almost there,” Shira responded curtly. “You’ll know it when you see it.”

Her short replies discouraged him from asking too many questions, not that it curbed his curiosity in the least. Gradually, the terrain turned more and more uneven, and Shira slowed to cross more challenging areas of ground while Dave noticed small changes in the landscape. For one, was it just him, or was the path slowly sloping downwards? Less light travelled through the canopy, creating a murkier atmosphere. And then…
 
“Is that a tree?” His surprised exclamation came out as a whisper. At first, the dark smooth sheen he spotted ahead looked like the side of a cliff. In the two seconds it took to pass the sight, the grain of wood and protruding branches made him realize the bigger picture. Dave glanced over his shoulder to see if it were true, but the trunk shot straight as a pillar up into a cloud. Suddenly, a heavy mist shrouded their surroundings.

Shira clicked her tongue. “Shoot, it’s a fog day. Keep your eyes open. I’m going to turn on the automatic travelling systems. We’ve entered it.”

“’It’ as in the deep woods? Right now?”

“It’s called ‘deep’ for a reason. Watch your head.”

Dave looked, a low thick branch directly ahead. He would have ducked. The abrupt drop of the vehicle saved him until he realized they were plummeting down a steep hill. He opened his mouth in a scream which ended as suddenly, the vehicle hovering over level ground once again.

“Would you warn me next time something like that happens?” Dave begged.

“It’s not me. The Birdie is going on its own.”

“So, you don’t even know where we’re going?”

“Yes, I do. I put the location on the Birdie’s GPS. I just have no idea what route we’re taking. It changes each time based on what the scanner picks up.”

“How many times have you been here?”

“Lots of times.”

“And you don’t know how to get there manually?”

“I’m not a forest fairy, duh. Do you want to try driving in this fog?”

Dave sighed, regretting his decision to follow this witless child. Would his father know where to find him if the GPS got them forever lost? He couldn’t shake the shiver creeping up on him. A drop in temperature, probably a factor to the fog, made him wish he’d put on warmer clothes. Talk about looking for greener pastures. After a number of turns and downhill scares, Shira relaxed, and for good reason. Light bathed them from above. The fog cleared up, and Dave could see.

The Deep Woods were far less crowded than the forest around the village. Trees like towering giants sparsely dotted the area, flanked by dark-leafed plants, contrasting with the glowing flowers. Muffled bird calls and strange sounds reminded Dave of a sacred forest. He had no doubt they were in ‘deep’. Even though she could drive safely now, Shira left the Birdie on automatic and it dutifully circumvented random pits and drops in the ground. To his disappointment, Dave did not glimpse a single big animal or wolf as much as he looked.

“Get off.” Shira stopped the Birdie by a cliff of rock and vines. Wordlessly she led him to an opening in the wall, too small for the vehicle, and they squeezed through. On the other side, Dave stood up to find himself in a wild flower garden.

Every single turn presents a new surprise, doesn’t it?

Strange blue flowers grew low over bright grass. Fuzzy light rays glimmered in and out from above, creating a strange illusion of light fractals. Dave rubbed his eyes. His imagination. Shira moved across the garden, uninterested as usual to the scenery. Dave followed her to the far end where he saw the objects of their penalty quest.

“These are the spax-berry bushes,” Shira said, her hand whapping the small leaves of a wide spreading bush. Clusters of small purples berries in the shape of spiky balls hung heavy from its branches, exuding a mellow scent not unpleasant to the senses. “They only grow in certain areas of the forest, so they’re usually a pain to get. Fifteen pouches should be enough. The best ones are a dark solid colour. No blemishes.” She tossed him a pair of padded gloves. “Pop them off the stems. Careful not to poke yourself. They’re sharp.”

Dave tugged on the gloves. “Do you eat them like this?”

Shira looked unimpressed while handing him a number of pouches large enough to hold a single baseball. “No, dummy. You’d die from internal bleeding.” Turning away without offering any further explanation, the girl began to run her hands along the stems, slowly gathering the berries.

After watching her for a bit, Dave followed her example. He targeted the solid colour looking ones like she directed, but his curiosity wasn’t satiated. “Then how do you eat them?”

Shira grunted. “Boil them for a bit. Thorns soften and the skins peel off easily.”

“Ahh…” Dave made a cautious attempt to wriggle the berries off their stems. It proved tougher than it looked and it took him a firm yank to unburden them into the pouch. Sharp they were. He could still feel the points threaten to pierce through the pads and made slow progress trying to be careful.

Meanwhile, his cousin dropped conversation altogether. They went about their task quietly for a while, a silence that got on Dave’s nerves. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye once in a while, disheartened from speaking to her pensive expression.

Then, whether by coincidence or on purposely, Shira quickly made her way around the other side of the bushes, putting her out of Dave’s sight. Slightly panicked when he looked up and didn’t see her, Dave hurriedly sidled to the same side. For a while she stayed within his line of sight, but after a moment, another group of plants mysteriously hid her. Dave moved closer and Shira ambled over to a bush a little further away.

Oh no, you don’t. Dave thought determinedly. I’m not letting you out of my sight. The day I get lost in the forest again will be my ultimate ruin. Roun will forsake me and dad will never leave off of it. I may never be allowed to come back here!

Copying her manner, Dave “drifted” from bush to bush as if aimlessly until they were just about back to back with each other. Just feeling her nearby was assuring. His confidence began to rise when he turned and found himself all alone among the bushes that looked identical to each other. How on earth did that girl manage to vanish like that?
“Shira?” Dave blurted out, his voice sounding tense.

“What?” Her voice came from the side.

Pinpointing her location, Dave hurried over, breathing out a sigh of relief when he saw her. At least, her small back as she harvested the berries without a care. A thorn of agitation pricked him. Dave crossed his arms with a strained expression.

“Why are you trying so hard to keep people away from you?” Before he knew it, Dave had blurted it out.

Shira’s hand stopped mid-air. She swiveled, her narrowed eye stabbing him like a sharpened icicle. Heat rushed to his face. He wanted to slap himself. How could he have said something so tactless to the same person twice?

The few seconds that the girl stared hard at him seemed like ages before she turned her gaze away. “Why do you think? Because there’s people like you who think I need to be pitied just because one of my eyes isn’t working.”

“I never thought that!” Dave objected. “It’s just that, you’re always leaving without saying anything, and you’re always in a bad – uh, unhappy expression whenever I see you, I thought you might have something against me – I mean, you have a right to be upset with me after, well –“

“Why would I have something against you?” Tone rising, Shira fixed him an annoyed look.

Struggling to explain himself, Dave only felt his face get hotter. “Because, I said something really dumb and insensitive that night at the fire pit. I know I’m new and dumb and I don’t much and I – I’m sorry if I said anything that offended you in anyway.” Dave bowed his head. This wasn’t how he’d originally planned to apologize, but just when he’d had a chance to talk with her, something or that got in the way. How pathetic it sounded, with the way it came out now.

“I wouldn't be mad at you for that.” Shira responded in a level tone. “I see why you would think that though. Hmph.” She brushed her ponytail back as she faced the other way. “Everyone thinks that I’ll get all depressed if I’m ‘reminded’ of what happened during the war. It’s their manner of being too careful that annoys me. As if this mask I wear everyday weren’t enough of a reminder. I would rather they said it to my face if it makes them uncomfortable to have me around. Besides, I can’t be depressed when I’m always feeling down.”

Raising his head, Dave stared at her back with wonder, that she'd just said all of that. People’s sentiments were no mystery to her. She knew her own situation. It was a type of maturity that made her feel very off. “What Raven said… do you think you’re useless?”

Shira shrugged. “I’m not able to do things as well as others can. I might as well be dead weight. It’s nothing new to me. Just so we’re clear, I’m not upset at you.”

“Thanks. I feel better about that now.”

“At least you’re not like Roun. He has everything going for him, and he doesn’t do anything,” Shira said forcefully, breaking a branch with her hands. Dave forced back a chuckle. Whatever the girl thought about herself, her feelings towards his cousin were the same as the others.

“To be honest,  I’ve never seen Roun in that way,” he admitted as he tore off berries from the bush systemically. “He’s a lot more pro-active when we have family gatherings.”

“How so?” Shira raised her head in curiosity.

“Pro-active in finding fun things to do as we tried to avoid the adults.” Dave grinned.

“Oh, so basically no different.” Shira rolled her eye.

No further comments were made as they continued to harvest the berries. The task was oddly engrossing and like a child in a strawberry field, it became a self-challenge for Dave to see how many berries he could get. Plentiful in number, there was no lack as he roamed from bush to bush, searching for the right ones Shira had described to him. Circling around the trees, he found an area where they grew the largest. He hauled them in by the handful, ignoring the small pricks caused by the little red thorns.

About a couple of hours had passed when Dave finally stopped to behold the results of his labour. His spine cracked a few times as he stretched and eyed the large pouches beside him gleefully, well-satisfied they’d done the work of five people. Even though Shira had mentioned wild animals and venomous plants, Dave hadn’t heard or seen anything particularly alarming, a good thing, he figured. Still, he cast a wary eye around him, just in case.

“Shira, how’s it going for you?” Dave peered around the tree trunks. Instead of his cousin, a white lizard taken by surprise on its descent flicked its tongue at him before scampering away. “Shira?” Turning the other way, Dave soon realized he’d lost sight of the girl. It occurred to him that in his eagerness to participate in a village ‘activity’ he had most likely roamed away from her without knowing it. And thus, he was lost.

“Shira!” Dave hollered, seized by sudden fear. On second thought, a shout like that might attract unwelcome attention. So, he lowered his voice and continued to call out repeatedly. “Oh right, phone – but I don’t have her number. Does she even have a phone?” His ears didn’t pick up a returning call as hard as he listened.

Dave gave himself a well-deserved face-palm. “Just great. ‘Acor boy gone missing near Acor village’ is what you’d say in a situation like this, wouldn’t you?” Unlike times when others were undoubtedly around, he spoke aloud without reserve, his eyes focused as if another were there with him.

“Dave.”

“Shira?” Dave looked in the direction of the voice, but it wasn’t the girl he found. From underneath the bushes lay a streak of black he hadn’t noticed before. In front of him, rather than trees, plants wove together to create a makeshift wall, as if on purposely blocking something.

“Over here.”

The voice definitely came from behind the wall, except he was sure he’d never gone that way. Why would Shira be over there? Curiosity growing, Dave reached a hand into the barricade of leaves and vines to try and part them. Little thorns poked his skin and the plants resisted his pull. They were tougher than they looked. It only spurred his desire to see what was on the other side. A cool wind seeped through the small opening.

“I’m over here!”

“Stop! You can’t go there!”

Startled, Dave swivelled and yanked his hands away, grazing them on the sharp nettles. Shira glided towards him at a rapid sprint, a frightened look in her eye. Even as he felt his ears heat up again, she grabbed his sleeve and pulled him away.

“What were you doing?” Shira demanded, when they were at a distance.

“I was looking for you and I heard –”

“We’re not allowed in there! We’ll get in trouble!” Riled as an angry piglet, she didn’t seem to hear him, her eyes glancing at their surroundings while she gnawed on her thumb.

“Why? What’s over there?”

Shira glared narrowly at him. “That leads to a forbidden area. It’s dangerous!”

“Why is it forbidden?”

A collection of various sounds rumbled in the girl’s throat. “Didn’t they tell you?! The forbidden areas are where the Zerakis did their experiments. There’s still negative energy pockets laying around. That’s why I picked this spot. The animals don’t like the pockets. But we can’t get near them. If a Warden saw us, we’d never hear the end of it!”

From the way Shira was getting worked up over it, these forbidden areas weren’t to be taken lightly. Dave remembered his dad telling him something about it. Maybe that was also why Roun had told him never to go alone.

Catching her breath, Shira aimed a pointed look at him. “Don’t wander and stick close to me unless you want to find yourself in the midst of the council, okay?”

Dave nodded. “But what are negative energy pockets?”

At this, Shira threw up her hands. “Unbelievable!” she exclaimed, crushing plants ruthlessly underfoot as she tramped back the way she’d come.

Afraid of being left behind again, Dave grabbed the bags of berries and stumbled after. “I’m sorry,” he called out in a discouraged tone.

“Not you.” Shira scowled. “Somebody hasn’t been doing his job properly, that’s what. C’mon, let’s head back before we get branded as renegades too.”

Dave realized she meant Roun. Was that supposed to make him feel better? He should’ve known better than to stick his nose where it didn’t belong. Already that impulsiveness had gotten him into more than a few scraps. If this kept up, he might not survive the summer.

Still, it hadn’t been his imagination. That voice beyond the forest wall – he’d really heard it. Trailing after Shira, Dave put a hand on his chin and tried to remember what it sounded like, but it slowly faded from his memory like an afterthought. Caught up with listing all the things he still needed to know, Dave didn’t realize that not a single scratch marred his thorn slashed hands.



NTS: Edits and Changes to Make
Chapter 13
Edits:
- Altered Shira's dialogue a couple of times
- (May have to edit Shira scenes - past self, remind me to do the ediiiiits)

Changes to Make:
- Cater dialogue to NTS changes of Chapter 12, namely, that they're laying low after the Warden's incident and aren't really supposed to be out while investigation is underway ;p

No one is perfect . . . that's why there's erasers and extra paper.
DA: http://neysun.deviantart.com
IG: https://www.instagram.com/neysun_hao/
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/star-lock

Offline legomaestro

  • High Chancellor of Righteousness
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 20070
  • Gender: Male
  • real life has wack graphics
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #25 on: March 31, 2020, 09:29:12 AM »
General Review For Charred Life (Sorry for spam post, had to split it because of the character limit)

Chapter 1 and 2
Spoiler
1
Six Years Ago...
“Why are we running?”
- *Nigerian voice* WHY ARE YOU RUNNING

2 “Because they’re chasing us?” said the tall boy ahead of me.
 - Seems a good reason as any

3 "Xehann!”
- Haha Echo you and your unique names. How do you pronounce this one? Kse- Han?  Cool name though

4. And when we reached the end, we found ourselves on a cliff overlooking a waterfall. Dark water spilled dozens of feet down into the ravine.
 - Like the imagery here.

5. “I’m sorry Roun – you’ll have to go on ahead of me. I’ll catch up to you.”
 - Nuuu not the self sacrifice move

6. Shove.
 - Totally expected this. Nuuuu Xehan. Why not jump with himmmm

7. Zerakis Forest - Present Day
- Like this name too

8. “Not in the house? Not in bed? Where did he go this time? This is the fourth day…” A heavy sigh escaped the man as he rubbed his forehead. “Shira, I don’t care how you do it, find Roun and bring him back here. If he does this again, he’s disqualified from entering the festival. You tell him that, Shira.” Muttering in harsh undertones to himself, the man turned away from the girl, picked up his tools, and walked away to resume whatever work he was doing.
- Hm I wonder what festival it is

9. They say that everyone knows everyone in a small town. At this moment, the young girl stared down at the village below and felt the sentiment of this statement twofold. She could point out every home in her Family Area, name who lived there, which family they were from in the clan, and what they did for a living.
- Sometimes I wonder if this sort of thing still exists. I'm not sure if I'd hate it or like it, but with the clan element I always have an idyllic imagining of how familiar it must be. I think I'd like a balance between knowing everyone, having a village festival and still being able to chill in my room as I wish. 


10.  For example, the house behind her, known as the Main House, was currently inhabited by Jaanes of the Tiuruh Family, who worked as a police officer when he wasn’t in the village.
 - I was about to suggest you mention an example of the house to ground the scene more, so nice that this showed up. Also, police officer + village is making me rethink the image I had for this village.

11.  A person everyone knew – and knew well.
 - Must be Ruon

12. “Roun?”
 - Ah, it's Roun. How do you pronounce his name?

13. Two young kids at the first house making floral wreaths stared dumbly at Shira before expressing their familiarity of the name by offering apologetic smiles and shaking their heads.
 - Seemed like a wordy way to express their response

14. After all, he probably hadn’t come down the main road for everyone to see him if he planned to ditch his duties.
 - Wait does Roun want to go to the festival and he's going to be banned from it or is he shirking responsibilities? Hmmm

15. She noted the children, a boy and a girl, were already dressed in the Acor traditional clothing, just as she was. Girls wore dark blue dresses that hung mid-thigh, secured with a belt, dark leggings, and knee-high boots fitted for the rough forest terrain.
 - Looks nice. The best thing is that as an artist you can 100% depict this and already have haha. Bonus of being a writer-artist. 

16. The boy’s outfit consisted of a long black shirt under a grey jacket, dark pants, and similar boots. Most of the Acor switched to the traditional clothing when they came to the village, generally because the fabric was more durable and comfortable. Older folks still wore the same outfits from years ago, ones heavily decorated. Modernism took toll on the newer outfits in a sleeker appearance and simpler embroidery.
 - I've seen such descriptions that go on for ages. I like how short and sweet they are and how it relates to other aspects of the story and the culture of the village. Nice stuff.

17.
“Roun? Is he missing again? Good luck finding him.”
 
“Either sleeping in or sleeping elsewhere, huh.”
 
“He could be in the forest if he isn’t in the village.”
 
- Bahahaha

18. “Imagine if we lived in the past and everyone wore trackers.” Her cousin started to laugh but stopped abruptly. When he spoke again it was in a gentler tone. “Where was he yesterday?”
 - Hm. Interesting stuff hinted at here. I'll watch with much interest.

19. At the top, surrounded by slender red-leafed trees stood the Acori Hall, which served as the gathering place for special events or village announcements. When not used for assemblies, the village chief did his daily work here, doing whatever a chief did.
 - Is this Shira not knowing what a village chief does or the narrator? Haha. I'd have loved to know exactly what he does, especially if theres' positions like Wardens' in the village. I know it's probably a leadership position, but blame my manga and anime tastes I always think a village chief is an epic old man with super powers. Is that the case here?

20. He was a little over six feet tall with a large build that was all but covered in his black clothes. A thick scarf hid his face from the bridge of his nose down, leaving only his rusted brown eyes and short messy black hair visible. Shira figured he was the one who had spoken because his hard gaze rested on her.
 - Cool dude is cool

21. “Why don’t you just call him?”
 
Shira deadpanned. Adults and their ways of avoiding answers like squirming worms. “I don’t have a phone and I don’t know his number and even if I did he probably wouldn’t answer – can you just tell me already?”
- Wait there's phones in this universe?

22. Another laugh. “Okay, snapping turtle. Do me a favour and tell Roun to come see me later, yeah? He’s in the cherry tree grove by the river on the other side of the Hakara family property.” His answer came quick and certain that Shira almost doubted him for someone who hadn’t seen the person, but she didn’t have time for that.
 - Haha how the heck did he know that

23. “Thanks.” Shira walked past him to go around the building. Another staircase on the west side would get her down to the trail leading towards the Hakara family property.
 - Who are the Hakaras?

24. Moments later, Shira zipped along the red paths on a Birdie – children’s nickname for the light hover vehicles used in the village. It was basically a slick ATV without wheels that used  adjustable levitation pads and a main thruster. Smooth and fast, the Birdie made itself a popular form of transportation among the youths. It might’ve hit gold on the market if they made it public.
 - Haha cute and pretty cool. Now I have a better idea of the tech in the village. But wait! She can borrow a car and not borrow a phone?

25. Not that the tech would work outside the village anyway.
 - Ah, there's a catch. Interesting.

26. In no pleasant mood did she arrive in the cherry orchard. Shira switched off the Birdie and walked along the trail winding through the trees. All around her grew light brown trees with slender trunks. Small red fruit hung off them in clusters and ripe ones littered the ground. Several lay in sorry purple splotches from the impact of falling. None appeared to be crushed underfoot though. Was Roun here at all?
- Nice scene. Man I want to go out and enjoy Spring in a place like that. Making me er... Homesick for nature?

27. What luck that the someone sent was Shira. After gathering a good haul, he’d heard the whistling of the Birdie. If there was such a thing as Lady Luck, Roun hoped that she was on his side today.
 - Haha.

28. Looks like you will be getting your yearly due, Xehann. He chuckled inside. Now you can’t accuse me of not trying hard enough. Good thing I kept an eye on the grove. They’re at their prime, if I ever called myself an Acor. Now… how to get down without her noticing me?
 - Wait, Xehann?

29. Her ears must’ve picked up the twang and whoosh. Right before it hit, Shira suddenly flinched and ducked fast. The cherry whistled by harmlessly. It splattered into the ground, splashing its juicy innards everywhere.
- Dodge! And also not sure if that was a good idea, Roun haha.

30. Roun rolled his eyes. Girls. With movements like a cat, he slipped from branch to branch till he landed on the forest floor and came to face with the girl who waited with a serious look and crossed arms.
 - Oho, pretty good tree climber.

31. “Did I say that? I might have slipped out a couple of times. And besides there’s tons of other people he could ask.” Roun started, but Shira gave him a narrow stare. “Okay, more than a couple - but that doesn’t warrant getting disqualified. It’s not like breaking one of the rules.” Shira shrugged. If what she said was true, then his uncle must be pissed. That threat had come out of nowhere.
 - I was wondering a bit about that too.

32. “Uh-huh.” A glance from Shira told Roun she wasn’t buying it. “Maybe if you did it right away, someone wouldn’t have to do the job for you. And if you didn’t keep running away, someone wouldn’t have to keep looking for you.”
 - Oof. This is advice that is too real for me.

33. A wooden mask covered the left half of her face, the only opening where her eye was, but even that was covered with a wire mesh, effectively hiding that side. For as long as he’d known her, Shira had worn it. Black scars riddled the skin beneath – or so he had heard. Scars from the war.
 - Intriguing intrigue intensifies.

34.
Roun stopped looking. He sighed inside.
           
Just who was he trying to appease?
 
“Ugh, I hope Uncle Jaanes doesn’t seriously disqualify me,” he muttered.
 
That would be seriously bad luck.

"And give me back my dagger."

"Oh, sorry, here."
- Whoops I accidentally reviewed Chapters 1 and 2 together, which points out something for me: The opening is a bit slow? It does a great job at describing the village life and searching for Roun is pretty funny, but by the end of the opening first chapter he hasn't shown up except in a flashback, so if I were watching this as the first episode of an anime/manga I wouldn't have an idea what the story is about exactly. It most definitely can be done and there's nothing wrong with a slow-burn story or even turning the concept of the opening chapter on its head, but I'd like to be able to know what I'm in for by the first chapter of any story. I've been conditioned that way haha.
- That being said knowing how much you work on this story with your sketches and reading it in actuality I'm impressed at how little info dumps they are. The story flows good and I like the scenes that you paint. Pretty cool character names too. Good stuff.


Chapter 3

Spoiler
1. “Uncle Jaanes?” Roun called again. He debated entering the house. To be chewed out now or later – that was the question. And it wasn’t in his mind to wait for the punishment. Not like his uncle would actually disqualify him, right?
 - Dun dun duuun.

2. The man did not storm up to the youth. No, he walked across the porch with as much noise as a cat. No wonder Roun hadn’t heard him coming. All the worse.
 - Jeez that is intimidating.

3. “I might’ve done it. In theory. Just not in practice?”
- I too do many things in theory and not in practice. Story of my life bahahaha.
 
4. “I’m sorry, I won’t do it again. I’ll wake up on time and go to practices so please don’t disqualify me from entering the festival.”
 
“…”
 
In his position, the silence seemed to weigh down like rocks on his shoulders. It occurred to him his uncle had been considering disqualifying him.
 - Man his uncle is pissed.

5. “Cret.”
 - Haha I've learnt a new swear.

6. “You want to determine you qualify as a Warden? Let’s make a deal.”
 - How old do you have to be to be a Warden? Sounds like an important job, and I've only known Roun for a little bit but other than climbing trees and running he doesn't seem ready at all to be on the same level of Jaanes or Waron. Hmmm.

7. “So, here’s my deal. I’d like you to stick with Dave for this whole summer. It’s a totally new environment to him  Show him around the forest, the village, wherever permissible, and prepare him for the festival.”
- Ah, an escort mission. My condolences, Roun.

8. Roun frowned. What was this new bombshell that was dropping on his meadow for careful summer days? The deal wasn’t exactly gaining him anything either. But as long as there was the danger of elimination, he couldn’t take any risks.
 - For some reason I don't even get the impression that Roun is interested in being a Warden. I'm curious to see his motivations behind wanting to be one.

9. It was just downright unfair.
 - Lady Luck is a cruel mistress, my friend.

10. Living in the forest, taking part in the yearly festival, going to practices… these were only some of the things part of being an Acor. He did promise his mother “to do well” in the festival. And he did want to become a Warden.
 - Ah he promised his mother. OK that's always a good motivator.

11. “Oh, he’s already here. He’s just inside.”
- Classic.
- So a mission is given. This can't possibly go wrong for Roun


Chapter 4
Spoiler

1.             “No kidding, even my emergency snacks are gone.” Roun ambled in with a bag of nuts in his hand. He munched on them dolefully. Already his ticket to redemption was fading fast.
- Yeaup. Dave seems like a handful already. I'm not liking your chances, Roun.

2. Jaanes groaned and pressed his face into his hands. “His mom was afraid this would happen. He’s got such a headstrong personality. Dear Cretanneh, what am I going to tell his mother when we get back…”
- Bahahaha the poor man.

3.      “See? Bad idea to leave him to me.”
 - I mean... He's got a point.

4. When his dad told him it would take six hours to travel to the village, the boy decided to take a nap in the car to pass the time.
- Eh? Car? Now I'm really curious about how the outside world looks.

5.  “Look at those trees,” Dave gawked out the big glass windows in the living room. A view he wasn’t sure it wasn’t actually from a huge high-definition monitor increased his urge to go out and make sure he wasn’t dreaming. Strange scents roamed the air, weird plants covered the beautifully laid out gardens out front and back, and he could see unfamiliar houses down below.

- Man I want to travellllll

6.             Sounds like a good idea, Dave.
 - Sounds like a great idea, Dave. And to be honest I thought he'd be snotty or annoying, but seems like a cool dude. I think Roun shouldn't have as many problems as he fears haha.

7.  The first thing Dave noticed when he stepped out was the perpetual shade that cast a subdued look over everything. He didn’t even have to squint in the sunlight struggling to penetrate the interlocked crowns of gigantic trees. An unearthly glow thrived in the undergrowth like star clusters, helping his eyes to adjust.
- Beautiful

8. Dave gaped up from the base of an Oonrwon tree. He didn’t know that was its name, but the immense girth and height of it would be ingrained into his mind forever. He put a hand over his head, as if to protect the contents of his brain from exploding – he was that close to being mind blown. Their dark massive trunks rose straight up like skyscrapers. Their widespread branches bearing thick bundles of leaves were the main reason for the absolute forest canopy.
- Gah I want to see iiiit.

9. “Whoa, are those plants glowing? What do you call that? Bioluminescence? Blue mushrooms! Wonder if they’re edible. Wonder if they’d still glow in your stomach.”
 - Asking the important questions. But no I wouldn't recommend eating them Dave.

10. “This is so cool. No, chill. This place is chill. Why didn’t my dad bring me here before? My sister will be pissed she didn’t get to come.”
 - It is indeed a pretty rad place.

11.          He stopped.
 - Oh oh. Are thou lost?

12.            Don’t get lost.
 - And they never saw Dave again.

13.             “Hee-hee.”
 - Nope, nope nope.

14.            A sound like a laugh came just around a smaller tree ahead. It reminded him of an old man’s chuckle: high-pitched, wheezy, and obnoxious.
 
            “Is someone there?”
 - RIP Dave

15.             Eyes red and flashing, a giant boar locked its sights on the teen.
 - RUN. Climb a tree!

16.           Brace yourself!
- AGAINST A GIANT BOAR?

- Really liked the description of nature in this chapter.

Chapter 5
Spoiler
1. Winded – Dave lay stunned as the forest exploded around him.
 - Oof

2.Breathing in through its nostrils, the beast took a whiff of him. Then its head shot up. With a gust of wind, it vanished, swirling leaves and glowing orbs in its wake.
 - Eh?

3. He sat up fast. Two large forms grappled in the brush around him, the boar and a dark shadow ducking in and out of the trees, too fast for him to tell what it was. They circled around with dizzying speed. The stomps of the boar shook the ground. Dave scrambled to his feet and stumbled backwards, looking for the trail. He kept an eye  on the creatures’ positions. From what it appeared, the shadow kept the boar at a distance without directly attacking it.
 - Thank goodness.

4. “See?” the youth motioned, sitting carelessly on the branch.
- Roun

5. Dave looked ahead to see where the boy was. He hadn’t been watching where he was going and rammed right into the individual. They tumbled down a small slope into an area clear of dense foliage.
- Aye aye ays

6. Instead of running into him, the creature suddenly squealed and skidded, throwing up dirt. It didn’t stop in time and hit the sheet of light. The light crackled against the boar’s hide. As if tangled in a net,  the boar shivered, made upset noises, and writhed, like it was trying to throw something off.
- Ouch.

7. “Keeps the wild animals out. Senses if you’re a human or not,” the boy said between breaths. “How else would we be able to survive out here? I just wish it kept out the squirrels too - pesky things like to eat up the garden. Oh, the only thing it doesn't keep out are the wolves and the deer."
- Ah, so that's how it works. And jeez boars are scary.

8. “They don’t get much smaller than that. He was only a pup – the adult wolves are terrifying. Luckily our village has a long history with them so they don’t generally view us as enemies – generally. They're registered as non-hostile. That one must’ve sensed you were an Acor and came to help you.”
 - Nice, noble wolf. I wonder if it was satisfied with defending him or if it ate the boar.

9. That was just a pup?! Dave couldn’t believe it. He almost wouldn’t believe anything he was seeing and hearing except that he was actually in the midst of it all happening. It filled him with a growing excitement.
 - I can somehow relate to this.

10. “I thought I was going to die,” he admitted in timorous tones.
 - You literally were about to.

11. The youth’s jaw dropped. He clapped his hands onto Dave’s shoulders. “What? We’ve been talking for two minutes and you didn’t even – did you forget about  me? No, did you seriously forget me? C’mon man, it hasn’t even been three months since the last family gathering.”
 - I know the pain, Roun.

12. “I thought you were a girl.”
     - Bahahahaha

13. “At least you didn’t have to change your hairstyle because you lost a bet with your sister on who would get better grades in school.”
 
“Oh, what a coincidence, you did that too?”
- Hahaha

14. “Man, this summer's going to be a blast.” Roun collapsed against a tree to sit down.
 - Looks like it. Just avoid boars and it'll be golden.

15. To be honest, Roun felt very worried about it. No point letting Dave know that though. Thank goodness he had found his cousin when he did. It was one step closer to passing the festival. All he had to do was make sure his cousin was ready and the rest would breeze by. Considering how Dave survived facing a boar, with a little help, Roun had hope in him.
 - I mean, I would've handled the situation much much worse so yeah, gotta give it to Dave he knew how to run at least. Better work on those forest-trekking skills though ma man. And don't eat blue mushrooms!

16.       “Warden’s Exam? What’s that?”
- EH!?
- Nice chapter. I like the camaradie between Roun and Dave. I personally have trouble writing such light hearted friendships between people, and I like how similar and yet unique the characters of Roun and Dave are. Usually I have to have the most insane characteristics for my characters to make them feel different from eachother, but you've got some similarly aged boys with more or less the same demeanour when it comes to nature and family and stuff but they're relateable. I'm not sure if that makes sense but yeah, I like it.

Offline legomaestro

  • High Chancellor of Righteousness
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 20070
  • Gender: Male
  • real life has wack graphics
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #26 on: March 31, 2020, 09:29:45 AM »
Chapter 6
Spoiler
1. “Is this an exam like a school exam?” Dave looked uncertain. “We have to study during our summer vacay?”

Roun fought back the threat of a mental shutdown. “No, the festival and the Warden’s Exam are practically the same thing. I thought your dad would have told you – he said he wanted you to enter the festival.”

“You mean the sports competition?”

The shock Roun experienced from that last statement left him at a loss.

Great Cretanneh…
- I'd feel sorry if this wasn't so hilarious.

2. Did uncle Jaanes tell him anything at all? How much does Dave know – or rather, how much doesn’t he know? What Acor parent would neglect to inform their Acor child?!
- Surprisingly neglectful from Jaanes. But I suppose he must have his reasons.

3. His cousin said hesitantly, “Something about an Acor tradition to pass down our art of fighting and the festival is a way to bring everyone back to the village to get in touch with our roots?”

“That… is the most abridged version I’ve ever heard.”
- Brevity is the soul of truth

4.
“Not really. It was started after the last war with the Nanrot.” Roun explained.

“I see…” Dave nodded. He paused. “What are the Nanrot?”

Snap.
- Hey I didn't know too haha

5. “We had a run-in with an Irian boar,” Roun retorted. “You’re now talking to our ghosts.”
- Haha

6. He dodged the question!
- He 100% did.

7. What can I do? Roun thought worriedly, I have to gauge his abilities as well. That’s the most important part. I’ll have to bring him to practices. Maybe if he meets with the others, they can help him too. But what about explaining Acor and all that to him?
- Yay training. And seems like a reasonable first step as any

8. Roun chuckled nervously. “Send me a wolf. We’ll probably crash in at Swallow’s for dinner, give Gr’uncle Jacke a visit, you know the drill.” He tugged Dave to his feet and slowly pushed him out of the room.
- Gr'uncle?

9. Roun flinched at that. Everything you need to know, just great. But then an idea hit him. A slow smirk spread across his face. Everything? Everything, huh. Well, why don’t we give him ‘everything’?
- Dun dun duuuun

10.
“Cret, I’m actually here,” the teen breathed, a shiver running up his back.

“Let’s take a shortcut,” Roun said in a bright tone and put his hand on a round contraption attached to the railing that Dave hadn’t noticed before. The cubes lit up. What kind of shortcut was his cousin talking about? he wondered.

Suddenly the ground under him shifted. Dave quickly grabbed the railing to steady himself when he realized they were moving forward. His eyes widened. “What? How??”

A glance down showed a far drop to the ground and when he looked over his shoulder, they were already beyond jumping distance to the house. He heard no engine or saw anything levitating the platform. It merely floated forward. “You’re not serious!” Dave exclaimed, disbelieving his eyes.

- I'm confused as to this whole scene here. Were they in the village and then at a tall place somehow? What's moving exactly?

11. “Just pretend we’re on one of those automatically moving platforms in video games for now. “Roun slapped his cousin’s back and made a dramatic swoop of his arm to the main street. “Welcome to the Acor Village, Dave.”
- Ah.

12. He soon found out the houses were nothing like your country cabins you’d find on farms. Just like his dad’s house, these were modern. He saw two types: one like shaped like tall yurts that blended in with the trees, and the other built like futuristic portables, shining with a blue metallic shine. Small cube lights dotted every structure emitting a soft sleepy blue glow.
- I keep on forgetting what yurts look like but I've always liked the word. Haha. Yurt. Yurt. Yurt.
- Wonder what those cubes are.

13. “They’re still alive, as far as I know - don’t worry, the wolves won’t eat them. I’m kind of busy right now, so you’ll have to ask someone - see you later! Okay, run!” The last words he shot to Dave before bursting into a sprint.
- Ah so the wolves do leave potential prey alone more or less.

14.
Roun flapped his hand dismissively. “Nah. There aren’t any terribly poisonous plants within five kilometers of the village. But eating certain things might change the colour and taste of the meat. Blue pork is the weirdest - expect to get a few trippy dreams.
- Haha I knew it! Those blue shrooms are psychedelic!

15. “Gr’uncle Jack is our grandmother’s younger brother.”
 - Ah, that's what Gr'uncle means.

16. Roun explained in a careful whisper. “I’m talking about the two wardens you can always find at the Hall.
*Warden

17.
Dave gulped and nodded to her. “Hi.”
 
She passed him without responding.
- Shira?
- Interesting chapter. Quite the conundrum that Dave doesn't know anything, but I'm getting confused about how much he knows and how much he doesn't know, and it feels like Roun is dancing around the important facts of being an Acor for no reason haha. I mean a war that happened only 6 years ago feels like something that any family member would interest. If I heard my brother was in a war I'd sure as heck want to know what happened - or maybe Jaanes hid everything? I hope Rouns demonstration is informative or something. And ancient technology huh, interesting.


Chapter 7
Spoiler

1. “I have twenty-twenty vision thank you. Unlike some people, I can identify the two-hundred fifty some fungi in the forest.” He started to edge away. “Anyway, Dave and I are going to squish in a little practice. Later.”
 - Yay practice.

2. “Word of advice,” Waron called out after them. “Irian boars are smellers, so if you ever find yourself on the front side of their snouts, staying still is a good idea.” They couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or not this time.
 - Eh? Staying still won't do anything for your scent Waron!

3. “Oh, and don’t forget to throw something at them! Have fun, kids!”
 - OK now you just want them to die haha.

4.  Through a break in the trees, the boys emerged into a large flat area surrounded by a grove of thick trees with straight trunks planted in a circle. Characteristic blue lights hung off their branches, but what drew Dave’s attention were the arrangement of oddly modern looking posts in the clearing. About twenty posts made from white blocks were positioned randomly about, glowing a soft blue. They stood upon a surface of large tiles of a similar whitish colour. When he stepped onto them, Dave was reminded of walking on kitchen floor tiles.
 - Interesting scene. Reminds me of the game Absolver for some odd reason.

5. Drawing back his foot, Roun kicked the middle of one of the posts. It broke clean in half, turning a hazard yellow as the top smashed into the ground and broke into smaller pieces.
- Nice.

6. Roun grinned. “Self-rebuilding Training Targets. One of the cooler things they left us. Don’t worry about obliterating them.”
 - Nice!

7. “Hey, sometimes even I feel like kicking a wall.”
 - You and me both, Roun haha

8. Dave perked. “Throwing knives.”
- Wait so Dave knows about combat?  Does he know martial arts? What kind of training did he do and was it for something special or did his parents make him train? Also what is an Acooorr. What is the war. I want to knowwww.

9. “They’re my favourite.” Dave fidgeted awkwardly. “And my strongest.”
 - Knives are cool.

10. “That doesn’t feel right either… maybe I need a different set of knives,” Roun muttered to himself as he regarded the quillon of the knife.
 - Oh hey cool word! Had no idea what quillion meant haha.

11. “Two point five four seconds,” Roun told him, throat slightly dry.
 - NIIIICE

12. “Uh, you’re good,” Roun said in short stutters. “You weren’t kidding when you said this is your strongest skill.” He smiled and gave Dave a slap on the back. Without looking, he knew that each of the bladed had struck a red tile on all ten posts he’d set up. And what surprised Roun – mildly surprised, he’d admit – was that Dave threw blindly. That is, he didn’t wait to see if he’s struck center before throwing the next, as if he was already sure he would hit his target.
 - Pretty badass Dave. Also him participating in the festival looks better and better.

13. His cousin was better than he.
 * Him* I think?

14. Even the young children used them to learn basic offensive and defensive techniques. Older kids liked to use them for fun competition. No one had them as a main.
- Cool.

15. “Dad sent me to a ton of dojos when I was younger,” Dave explained. “He believes in collective learning from different perspectives. After that, he trained me himself.”
 - Ah so that explains it.

16. “I also practice with my sister. We like to play darts together.”
 - Haha that's such an innocent context to learn throwing.

17. “I remember Halyn.” Roun handed Dave the knives back and they looked at the self-repaired grove.
 - It's odd that this is the first time Roun says that. His sister did come up in conversation earlier right?

18. Cret, uncle Jaanes was really hardcore about training.
- Seems like it.

19. A flash of gold streaked for Dave’s eye. Very calmly Dave leaned his head to the side and raised his hand, snatching the handle of the blade neatly out of the air.
 - Damn that was dangerous! Also if Dave was this competent I'm shocked the boar caused him so many problems. I guess fear is a problem but I'd expect him to be able to bullseye the boars' eye or something haha.

20. “It’s part of the qualifications.  Proficiency in all weapon types.” Roun patted the sheathed blade at his side. “You think all opponents are going to stay on the other side of the dart board?”
 - Wait so they're going to fight with bladed weapons during the festival? Also is Dave going to be a Warden if he wins?

21. This sucks, Roun sighed inwardly.
- Seems like a long road ahead.
- Cool self-replicating posts.


Chapter 8
Spoiler

1. “You sell out my name but you won’t tell me his? You get colder and colder every year, fam. Please tell me if I did something wrong,” the newcomer replied thin sarcastic voice. Hearing it, Roun went still, caught in a position with his back half facing the newcomer.
 - Sounds like a douche.

2. “Roun’s cold and soft like a melting ice cream,” Huks taunted, stepping lazily into position on the other side of the training grounds across from Dave. “I bet if we took a spoon and dug it into you, we’d hear an I scream.”
 - Hahahaha

3.“That’s cheesy,” Dave returned, taking up a stance. “And full of holes. As if a rat ate you, spat you out, and left because it thought you were a rotten egg roll.”
 - BURN

4. “I wasn’t aiming at you,” the girl lightly stepped up to her arrow, plucked it out the ground, and waved it in his face. “I was aiming for the bug on your foot.”
 - Haha

5. That wasn’t right either… but if they were going to break the rules, better to do it together than be accused of doing nothing while it happened.
 - Indeed.

6. “We can kill each other?” Dave said, as if the suggestion was perfectly normal.
- I'm really wondering how clued in Dave is about the village and all of these things. Talking about killing matter-of-factly while being shocked at a levitating device seems so all over the board when it comes to demeanour and expectations.

7. “Uh, that falls under World Law. We can’t break that one.”
 - Hmm. Wonder what World Law is.

8. “You know what,” Huks snapped. “I’m not feeling this. This is why our village is being dragged through the mud. Incompetents like you preaching a safe path to fighting. That’s not what war is about! Nanrot won’t wait for you to make up your mind to attack.” Without having to draw a weapon, Huks backed away into trees, glowering. “If that’s how you plan to die, it’s fine by me. Don’t expect me to dig your graves.”
 - Is it a well known war? Does the outside know about it? Who are the Nanrot?

9. Dae gasped. “Oh, you’re Dave. That solves the mystery. First time to the village I hear.”
 - Eh? Dae and Dave? Interesting.

10. “You’ve heard of him?” Dae shrieked, all the earlier edge in her mid-tone voice gone. “He’s my role model! Man, that draw speed of his is in-sane. Three arrows in under a second – that’s my benchmark. My best is three in two seconds.”
- That is some impressive draw speed.

11. “Must be in my genes.”
 - Indeed.

12. Dae’s eyes softened. She ran a hand down the limbs of her bow. “Yeah.”
 - Family is important. Yes.

13. “I’m not aiming for you,” Dae said in thick saucy tones. “I’m aiming for your extremely - irritating - annoying - bothersome - aggravating - vexing - ” An arrow sprang off the string with every rapidly enunciated word she could come up with. Watching her in action, Dave had no doubt of her ability to fire three arrows in two seconds. He was even more amazed that Roun was able to flit from tree to tree without getting himself skewered. Every shot stabbed into a trunk, solidly and vengefully. His lips tightened slightly. These Acor-raised kids were the real deal.
 . Man is she pissed. Also impressive.

14. “Way to throw me under a boar, Dave!” Roun called out.
 - That's one I haven't heard before haha.

15. Dae is cool

Chapter 9
Spoiler
1. Evening crawled into the village. The rays of misty sunlight faded away and the forest ceiling became a dark shadow, any sunset light through the gaps in the leaves making a makeshift starry sky. Glowing plants lined the paths. Luminescent bugs sprang through the high branches. Nocturnal animals with bright eyes scampered through the brush.
- Nice scenery again

2. There was no lack of light. Nor was there a hint of fatigue in the village. Children ran in the streets or rushed home for dinner. Cooking smells drifted from window to window as families gathered together. Previously a soft blue, the cube light fixtures changed to a warm cozy orange as they shifted into night mode. From its mysterious mood the Tiuruh Family area transformed into a comfortable den.
 - I wonder what they eat typically. I wonder which clan has the best cooking.

3.
“The fire pit Dae told you about. It’s where we hang out after hours.” Roun explained. “The adults go to the hall, the oldies gather in the village with their rocking chairs and drinks – we have the fire pit. You’ll meet the rest of the Tiuruh kids there.”

They moved quickly, as if Roun was in a hurry. It was just as he described to Dave: the older folks gathered on porches and around bonfires with none of the adult Wardens to be seen. The first part of the route went through the main street of the village, and then they sidetracked into the smaller avenues before diving completely to narrow trails and little alleys between and behind the houses.
 
Gradually their sources of light diminished as well. Fewer lights and plants shone on the paths they took, until Dave realized they were tracking into less maintained parts of the village. He saw cracks in the walls, litter on the ground, and broken lights. For some reason, faint yellow, red, and orange paint covered random parts of several structures. He couldn’t accurately make them out as they ran by.
 
“The whole village was built on the old test grounds of the Zerakis for some odd reason,” Roun told him. “Lots of abandoned and rundown factories here we don’t use.”
- What kind of test grounds? Weapon tests? Also nice descirptions again here. Like the opening for this chapter.

4.  Some played little traditional games, others shared snacks. He didn’t recognize any of them at first glance even if all were changed into casual wear.
 - What are 'traditional games'? I've heard Dave mention playing darts so are they playing typical board games like Chess and the like or are there Acor-specific traditional games?

5. Someone waved to them from the side and Dae was there, seated cozily in a nook in the wall created by roots some five feet off the ground. There were others nearby Dave didn’t know who at times pitched into the conversation. The result was like being in a online chatroom with too many people talking at once. He couldn’t keep track of who was saying what. Luckily he didn’t have to, as Roun and Dae did most of the talking.
 - Haha know that feel too well.

6.“Welcome to the local hangout,” Dae greeted and gestured for them to sit. “Where we plot awesome ideas to beat the Nanrot.”
 - Who are the Nanroooot. I really want to know now. Are they similar to Acor? Do they also have ancient technology? Is the war an actual war where people died? Did the outside know about the war or was it a skirmish between the villages?

7. “Drop a bomb into their village.”
 “Where do you get the bomb?” Dave tried to be casual and chose to sit between Roun and another older boy who gave him a nod.
 - Eh!? Isn't that like genocide or something?  Village-cide. Yes.

8. “With armoured chickens.” Roun yawned. “And chainsaws.”
 - That'd be a deadly threat indeed hahaha.

9. “That shoot lasers out of their eyes.” Dae chortled. They burst into silly chuckles.
 - Oh gawd even worse hahaha

10. “Besides, mom is against anything like that.”
 
“Basic Warden protocol,” the boy beside Dave introduced himself as Kon.
- Basic Warden protocol?

11. “Gonna need more than luck. I heard the examiners are going to be different this time around,” Dae told them. “They’re including some guy from another clan.”
 
“No way.” Roun sat up quickly. “Who?”
 
“No idea.”
 
“Which clan?”
 
Kon said. “Isn’t there only one that we’re on good terms with?”
 
“Oh yeah.” Roun lay back down.
 
“Is that – bad?” Dave said cautiously.
- I don't understand Kons' response to the question. Is he pointing out the clan that will have the examiner or doesn't he know which clan it's from?

12. “It just means we won’t know their standards or fighting gimmicks ahead of time,” Kon explained. “Examiners from before were mostly just some of the Wardens from different families rotating regularly – but you got to know their quirks.”
- Hm I think  I need to see the difference between clans and families.

13. Someone else suddenly hollered over the room. “Guys, the practice next week – Raven’s leading it.”
 
Sighs turned into alarmed cries and even a few curses. Dae, Janos, and Roun all groaned.
 - Haha Raven sounds like a piece of work.

14. “Who’s Raven?” Dave had to ask.
 “Only the most gung-ho auntie you’ll find about slaughtering the Nanrot on this side of the family – her family was killed a long time ago.”
 Killed? Dave went still.
 - I guess the Nanrot fued is really serious. Also I wonder how long ago they were killed.

15. Two months. They had two months to digest the forest routine. That was more than enough time. Roun sighed in relief. Summer wasn’t going to be bad at all it seemed.
- I can't wrap my head around this Summer. On one hand it seems like they were expecting treks in nature and the like and even basic village chores, but there's also intense combat training involved too? Well, I guess things would be different in a village like this, but i'm having clashing images here.

16
“You’re just afraid to meet a Nanrot.” Dae stood over him, possibly smirking.
 
“Do you want to run into one?”
 
“I’m prepared to face them.” Dae pumped a fist. “I’d whoop them.”
 
- Are Nanrots considered non-human?

17. Dave looked away. “Nope. My mom just doesn’t really like hearing about war and stuff like that. My sister and I only hear about Acor things on occasion. Guess you could say we know less than a baby born here.” He chuckled in an off-handed manner.
 - For someone who knows little he doesn't ask much about it. I'd be dying to know in his shoes.

18. No one was asking the obvious question so he said it without thinking.
 
“What happened six years ago?”
 - Finally

19. “You should ask your dad,” was all Dae said.
- Oh come onnnnn. At least Roun should tell him!

20. “Roun, say something. I’m sorry –”
 
“It’s not your fault,” Roun barked, startling Dave. He finally turned around darkness hiding his expression. “It’s not your fault. It’s just a sore subject for everyone who was here six years ago.”

- Is it a sore subject for Roun too? Also if it isn't mentioned this is way beyond uncle Jaanes being comedically withholding of information. This is a down right secret and he should've at least mentioned: Don't ask about 6 years ago or avoid the topic. It's definitely brought up a lot in conversation amongst peers and friends, all along side discussions of dropping bombs on Nanrot and slaughtering them, but when this topic is mentioned it's somehow off bounds? Gaaah Dave is in an impossible situation here then.

21. Dave stopped and raised his voice the loudest Roun had heard here. “Exactly. I’m just the ignorant outsider who doesn’t know anything.”
 
Roun looked surprised. “Don’t say that. You’re an Acor. Like…like the rest of us.”
 - Is he though?

22.
“Saying that doesn’t exactly mean anything,” Dave pointed out.
 - Agreed.

23. “Then what do you think it means to be an Acor?” Roun shot back. He bit his lip. He was supposed to be making Dave feel welcome and now they were shouting at each other.
 Dave crossed his arms. “You’re not allowed to talk about it, is that it?”
 - Exactly!

24. “No… it’s just…” Roun sighed. “It’s something your dad should explain. He should have at least told you that much – so it’s his fault.”
-Exactlyy

25. “Pretend Acor, huh. Perfect.” Dave shoved his hands in his pockets. “And that’s supposed to tell me exactly why we’re doing this.”
- Exactlyyyy Dave!

26. Roun squinted at him through the dark. Where was this all coming from? It was like a dark aura decided to coat Dave’s sudden nervousness.
- I mean, honestly I'd be pissed too. At least have the decency to not bring up taboo topics in conversation if you're not even going to talk about them. What's the point of inviting someone to a cozy circle if you're just not going to talk about things?

27. “What’s it doing here?” Dave whispered.
 
“Wild guess – your dad is looking for me.”
- Huh. His dad can control wolves?

28. Walking by Wardens who paid minimal attention to them, the two turned down a side hall and to a door with a sign that said “Authorized Permission Only”. And standing in front of the door were Jaanes and a tall female Warden who wore a wide conical hat of dark wood, pulled low over her face so that you couldn’t see her eyes.
 - Ah, I think I saw her design before.

29. “...you think I wanted all of this to happen?”
- Hm

Offline legomaestro

  • High Chancellor of Righteousness
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 20070
  • Gender: Male
  • real life has wack graphics
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #27 on: March 31, 2020, 09:29:49 AM »

Chapter 10
Spoiler

Dream

1. I might be small, young, inexperienced, but wasn’t there a better chance of surviving if two fought together?

There’s a better chance if we don’t go, idiot.
- I'd agree.

2. Don’t go!
“Don’t die on me, Xehann.”
- Judging by the fact that Xehann isn't around, I guess he unfortunately did. Hm, judging from this dream then I guess they were caught up in a battle with the Nanrot and Xehann sacrificed himself to save Roun. Maybe that's part of his motivation for wanting to be stronger I guess? He doesn't seem to have a grudge against the Nanrot though whoever they are. Or maybe he's surpessing it?


3. No one bore him ill for his misstep the first night and he made very sure not to make another.
- I still think both sides are wrong in this equation and Dave is getting the short end of the stick.
- Also I was hoping to see hellish training with Raven haha.

4. Nobody spoke about it. Not a mention, a peep, or offhand memory. It confused him. The purpose of this festival and training was to train them for war, wasn’t it? Then why would no one explain to him the origins behind it? Was he supposed to fight without an enemy in mind? He might as well be preparing to wield a blade against a dream.
- Exactly! Heck I don't even know if the enemy exists anymore.

5. "He'd be mad if we skipped out one-hundred percent and even if we didn't tell him, Raven would, 'cause Raven has no qualms about poking old wounds and slitting open new ones."
 - Yikes Raven sounds like a piece of work.

6. “We're doing a survival exercise. Raven loves survival."
 - Dun dun duun.

7. "Oh, you know, the usual you see in movies."
 
"But what -"
 
"And there's penalty involved." Roun added. "Raven always includes a penalty."
 
“Penalty? What kind of penalty?”

“Depends on what her mood will be when we get there – either way it won’t be nice.”

- Roun you seem like a cool dude, but you're horrible at explaining things.

8. "What do you mean 'don't know'?" Roun exclaimed without stopping.
 Dave responded reluctantly. "Can't we do training on our own like we did before? I'm still new here and I'm still getting used to things..."
 - I mean, I'd be reluctant too.

9. “Then once I finish talking, make yourself as scarce as possible. If you hear any indication of someone heading your way, hide immediately and don’t get caught. That’s all you have to do.”
 - Finally. A tip.

10. “But what are we doing?”
 “The scariest version of hide and seek you’ll ever play.” Roun laid a hand on Dave’s shoulder and whispered tensely. “Now hide!”
 - Okay that's fair.

11. Various trees and plant life surrounded him on all sides. They'd departed from the road to an area that looked isolated from the village. Was he supposed to hide here somewhere? Standing, he could see somewhat over the thick foliage and thought he saw a clearing a little farther away.
 - I'm confused as to how the session started without any instructions. I mean even with hide or seek you gather in a circle around the seeker and them wait for them to start counting before the game starts. Here it just feels like the game started just as the two were taking a walk, and only Roun is clued in. Is whoever doing the seeking even aware that Dave is participating?

12.  By then, it was too late. He had the barest glimpse of a large black bird head with painted red eyes before it turned into a black blur, cutting towards him like a blade.
 - Damn it looks deadly.

13.
“What is that...?" Dave puzzled obliviously. "Not another wild animal?"
 
“Dave, run! That's the Warden!” a voice to his left fairly shrieked at him, a boy's. Kon?
 
“Why didn’t you hide?” hissed someone on the right, their voice young and irate.
 
“Shut up! She’ll find us!” The third voice came from above, Dae's, he thought. All three transmitted from the spots Dave had thought someone was concealed.
 
"Warden? Did I get found already?” Riveted in place by sight of those red eyes, Dave fell in a dazed trance as the bird head swooped towards him.
 
In that five-second gap between him and the black spectre, a string of words incoherent to those in earshot burst from his lips. “I don’t know. No, but - I mean, it’s kind of hopeless now – talk about bad ideas – Look, I have no idea what I’m supposed to -” Spitting words out rapidly, Dave raised his voice to whoever was near. “Hey, am I allowed to fight back?”

“Yes – but don’t!” Roun’s voice, somewhere.

- Um my sense of time for this entire scene is a bit warped. Did the bird attack and fly towards him? I'm not sure how much time there was for all the dialogue to take place, and how abrupt the attack was.

14. "Got what?" A dark and icy female voice like winter riding on the back of night asked him. The bird swooped in and a hand shot out like a bullet to grab him. Dave sprang away with rivalling quickness, surprise plain on his face.
 - Shape-shifting?

15."I thought -" Diving behind a tree to evade another hand, the youth realized the "bird" possessed the body of a human beneath it - or rather a human body carried a grand headdress on its shoulders in the semblance of a raven's head.
- Ah so that's how it is.

16. Trees on the terrain helped to keep a narrow distance away from the pursuer, but no matter where he moved she bit close to his heels.
 - Is he jumping from tree to tree or running?

17. "Got you." The person under the bird mask grabbed Dave by the head and held him against the trunk with no gentle hand.                         
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Dave gritted his teeth, staying as still as possible. Her grip held him solidly. It was all but he could do to keep the cold blade from slitting him.
- Wait what blade? A sword? Is she holding it against his neck?

18. At a closer look, the large headdress consisted of the top half of a bird’s head and beak that fell over half her face, hiding her eyes and exposing a sullen scowl. Black feathers cascaded down the back their silk shine blending in with her strands of hair. It added to her height though she must have stood as tall as Dave. Her outfit differed from the other Wardens, the long black strips hovering in the breeze in a ghostly manner, and her wide sleeves worn and tattered from years of use. “Raven” suited her to a Tee.
 - Indeed. Also I like her already.

19. “You think I can’t kill you because we’re family?” Icy mockery laced her dark tones.
"No. You won’t kill me because my dad would definitely kill you if you did – and much sooner than a Nanrot would.”
- So wait Dave does know what a Nanrot is?!

20. The Warden said curiously, “Oh? Who’s your father?”
 “Jaanes Tiuruh. You must be Raven.”
 “You must be the newcomer they’ve been talking about.”
 - Again, how is he participating in a game without some introductions of sort. Is it just a free for all where all the family members in the designated area are chased?

21. “Are you still serious about using that knife?”
 - Ah, it's a knife.

22. “And in comes the hero to save the people!” Right then, a man in black stepped out of the trees like a wood spirit and dislodged Raven’s hand from Dave’s head with an obnoxious slap to her wrist. Raven whipped her blade at the man who met it with a sword of his own. The clash of their weapons rang through the clearing.
 Tension released its hold and Dave dropped onto his bottom at the base of the tree. He put a trembling hand to his neck, relieved to find it still intact while he kept a watchful stare on the adults.
 - Hm, pretty serious.

23. Everyone fell silent, listening for a return call. Chirping birds filled the gap. Raven made to yell again, when the leaves finally rustled overhead. And the lanky teen climbed down from the tall trees just beside the clearing.
 - Haha dude can outhide Wardens.

24.“Listen to him.” Raven was suddenly standing beside them. “Because that’s the only thing he’s good at doing – running away.” She and Roun locked eyes. From the stabbing tones of her voice it didn’t sound like she was joking. “Get practicing. Roun, you’re with me.”
 - Ah. This is about Xehann.

25. “There you go again with the extremist attitude. No one’s going to die. Much less Shira.” Eono gently directed the girl to the side of the clearing, away from Raven. “I mean, they’re not going to fight anyone when they’re not even Wardens yet.”
- Ah, so Wardens have some sort of privelege to fight.
- Roun is a hiding genius. Good to know. Ties in with him hiding in the trees in the beginning haha.  Also Raven is cool. Scary but cool.

Chapter 11
Spoiler
1. Zip!

It nicked him, drawing a fine line of red. Roun swerved fast to avoid it. Raven whipped out her short blade. He tumbled into the base of a tree or else it would have slashed open his stomach. On his back, winded, he saw the next attack coming unchecked and shivers rolled through him.
- Damn that's scary.

2. “Haven’t I been? Every year for six years? Or was that not enough for you? No, certainly, it’s been too long, You’ve become clumsy, soft, distracted. You have no purpose – no fire – for the fight. And to think the Heiress still keeps you around.”
- Wait who's the Heiress?

3. “Because you’ve forgotten,” she said with the energy of glass about to crack. “And I haven’t. You think I would still be here if I had? Every day I wonder why it had to happen. Why do we have to fight this war? Why did my family have to die in it? Why do we let them get away with it? And here you are – leeching off your position as the ‘Heiress’ Son’.
- Wait so the Heiress is his mother? What's she the heiress of? And doesn't that make Roun super important in the village too? Like almost royalty?

4.
You’re not thinking about avenging that ‘friend’ of yours. You’ve gotten all comfy and cozy in your imaginary den, thinking that as long as you hide in the Heiress’ arms you won’t end up like he did. That’s how I know and that’s what you are. You’re scared and you’re useless. And that’s why I can kill you right here and you won’t do anything about it.”

- Harsh, Raven. And yeah, Xehann definitely died. But why did she put 'friend' in quotation marks?

5. The Warden pushed him aside and started to leave the clearing, walking past the still and silent children watching them. “Keep on running, Roun. You can hide forever, but that won’t change anything. Don’t ask me train with you anymore. I’m done.”
- Harsh.

6. Why is she still hung up on it when it's been six years? Scared? Yeah right. Shut up. You don’t know anything - you don’t know anything - !”
- NANI. Roun you and your group of friends acted as if Dave murdered someone just because of asking about 'six years ago' and you're saying 'why is she still hung up on it?'

7. A moment of hesitation, then a Noturn wolf emerged from the bushes. It trotted up to him and tried to push its warm and fuzzy muzzle into his hand but he smacked it aside. The wolf snapped back.
- Nice wolf. Fluuuffy wolf. I want to pet one.

8. “Stop it, you big baby. Tattle-tale. Double-crosser.” His tone remained harsh, but his fingers started to rub the soft fur. “And then you get treats when you do a good job. Yeah, that’s all it takes to bribe you…” Roun trailed off. He gazed with blank eyes at the wolf, and it looked back, a sort of inquisitive light in its large yellow eyes. Petting the canine helped him calm down. A small smile eventually came to his face.
- I like this wolf for some reason.

9. “Is that how you’re going to play it? Okay, I can do that too.” Dave finally focused his full attention in front of him and started spinning his staff. It was Janos’ turn to watch him – exactly what he wanted. First, he did the usual – strike here, swing there, rap tap tap against the other staff, tap dap dap away the ones Janos threw at him. Then out of the blue, Dave feinted losing his grip on his weapon and threw it into the air. Janos moved in to strike – just as Dave thought he would. But he had his cards ready. He did a backflip, surprising them, and before he landed, whipped out two throwing daggers.
 - Smooth moves. Also cool action scene during this segment.

10. “Dave, most people pass when they’re eighteen, so don’t mind this willy-nilly child and focus on getting used to the training. Passing is bonny, but performance is better.”
 - Ah, so that's the age at which Wardens are made.

11. Putting down the staff, Shira dusted off her hands with a self-satisfied look. A short-lived triumph, as Eono recovered himself and fixed an impressed eye on her. “Okay, I’ll give that one to you. Only because you asked for it!” He picked her up like a doll and spun around in circles while laughing. “Look who’s playing dirty!”
 - Hahahaha cute.

12.
“Put me down!” Shira protested.
 
“Why do you keep babying her?” A dark voice entered the grove.
 - Raven?  Must be her.

13. “You can leave, Eono. Your soppy training will only make the kids softer.” Raven walked through.
- Man, she's intense.

14. A howl rose over the forest. Loud and echoing, it hid the location of the animal. When it struck a high note, the howl fell slowly, gradually like a police siren. Everyone went rigid, searching the air. If Roun wasn’t awake before, now he certainly was.
 
“What is it?” What’s wrong?” Dave asked, noticing the serious looks shared by his cousins.
 
“That’s a reinforcements cry,” Kon said seriously. “It’s an emergency.”
- Dun dun dun. Something is happening.

15. Roun ignored them and pushed through to the grove. The scent of blood hit their noses. They stopped in their tracks.
 - Damn this sounds serious.

16.
Eono and Raven whipped from side to side of the clearing like twin bullets, tearing up the ground, trying to rip each other apart. A coat of red splattered Eono’s face. His eyes were a wildfire burning through the blood. He’d drawn two swords that whistled shrilly as they combated against the whooshing double-ended javelin. Not hindering her movements in any way, Raven’s headdress and billowing clothes gave her an intimidating presence. Their strikes rang out. The children flinched with the sound of each solid impact – attacks meant to cause severe injuries. If they didn’t know any better, it would seem like a tightly choreographed action scene, so narrow where the Warden’s movements to evade and counter without taking damage.
- Holy heck isn't this super forbidden!? They're fighting eachother! Damn! Also cool action.

17. Kon pulled them to the side. “Wait, here, I’m going to see where the Wardens are.” His eyes darted anxiously, and he left them.
 - I'm surprised the kids showed up before the Wardens. If it was a real emergency cry that's some poor Warden-ing haha

18.
“Should we stop them?” Dave felt ready to bolt himself.
 
“I’d rather die by falling off a cliff and then I’d rather not die, thank you,” Roun raised an eyebrow, features strained.
- Yeah that sounded like a really bad idea, Dave.

19.  “How can you be joking at a time like this?” Dae said timorously. “I’m going to call my mom.” She pulled out her phone, but Roun grabbed her arm.
 
“Watch out!” He yanked her aside. One of Eono’s swords flew through the air and stabbed the ground where she’d been standing.
- Damn what the heck.

20. The moment came. Eono found himself obstructed by trees. Raven stepped forward, spinning the javelin. One end slammed his sword into the ground followed by the other stabbing into his shoulder. Eono grabbed the shaft with both hands before it could sink in deep. They could see him shaking as it took all his strength to keep it from punching a hole through him. Blood trickled from his hands. He gave a shaky smile.
 - Holy heck she's trying to kill him!

21. It happened in a flash. Black resolution wrapped around Eono like a case. Raven attempted to pin him again. Eono darted past it with lightning steps. Before Raven could process the shift, Eono wove in and grabbed her arm.
 - Black resolution? Like visible blackness or something? Is it magic?

22. Dae screamed involuntarily. Roun caught himself mid-gasp, eyes wide. Dave had flinched and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he saw Raven teetering with her right arm dangling at her side in a very wrong way.
 - Damn.

23. The tip of the blade swung towards her neck –
 
And a pair of black jaws grabbed the blade, wrenching it out of the man’s hands. A gigantic black wolf exploded into the grove and bowled Eono over with a roar.
 - Too close.

24. Several Wardens swarmed into the area. Some directed their attention Raven and others to Eono, now pinned under the growling wolf. Rave cradled her arm and sunk to her knees, any expression hidden behind her mask.
 - They finally showed up. Jeez!

25. Not hearing him, Eono cradled his head in his hands. Unexpected words left his mouth. “How could you? I shouldn’t have listened – this isn’t funny – stop laughing – stop laughing!“
- Okay... Eono is not right in the head.

26. “Get it together!” Jaanes struck him and Eono saw him, bewildered. The Wardens had taken Raven away for medical help, and now he was yanked to his feet.

- Jeez how the heck did that happen.
- Chapter ends a bit abruptly imo

Chapter 12
Spoiler

1. Odd, Dave thought. His cousin was worrying about someone other than himself?
 - Oof that's a bit of a harsh thought to have against Roun. I've never gotten the impression that he only cares for himself. I get there's some animosity towards him from the others, but he's seemed like a cool dude from what I've seen and sociable enough, not as bad as the other kid who wanted to fight Dave.

2.
“Punished?” Dave exclaimed. “What kind of punishment?”
 
“For infighting and attacking a fellow Warden? Something bad.”
 - Dude Roun answer questions pleaaaase hahahaha it's down right frustrating how he doesn't just mention an example or at least a range.

3. “Whipping?”
 “That’s outdated.”
 - More outdated than swords and javelins?

4. A warden attacking their comrade or someone being punished?
*Warden

5. Jaanes replied. “Warden Eono has engaged in combat with Warden Raven that resulted in injury, namely fracturing Raven’s arm.” His manner struck Dave as familiar. He’d never seen his father at work, but it seemed his role wasn’t much different here.
 - Um. Don't forget the spear in Eonos' shoulder

6. Waron left the room and two adults in outfits starkly different from the rest entered. Waron did not return.
 - What sort of outfits are they? I'd be interested.

7. The flat silence where the man’s voice lingered on. They could hear Eono panting. His wounds had not been treated to. The children held their breaths.
 - Wheres' Raven in all of this? And why haven't they treated him a bit I wonder?

8. “She was wrong, sir, Raven was wrong.”
 * Sir

9. “And that alone induced you to break her arm?”
 - B-but it was a deadly bout between the two of them! He was bleeding! His freaking sword almost went through a student when she disarmed him and she didn't even care. I mean Raven is cool and intense and all but she definitely was at fault.  They're acting like Eono just walked up to her and broke her arm.

10. “Is that any excuse from a grown man? Could you not have talked it out with her?”
- Somehow I doubt Raven would 'talk.'

11. Eono turned fierce. “That’s what it told me to do. There was no way about it. Talk? What good does talking do between warriors? What good can talking do with your enemies? Do you know what she would have done to me?”
 - Exactly!

12. Words fell deaf on Eono. He staggered to his feet, eyes wide, teeth bared. “I bet it told her the same thing!” A few Wardens made to subdue him but he threw them off. “She attacked me first! She would’ve killed me!”
 - Exactly!

13. “You were going to kill her!”
 - And she was going for a flesh wound? That wasn't the kind of fight that was going to end up with some nice bruises.

14. “For the offence of infighting, Warden Eono will be placed in solitary confinement for seven days to reflect on his actions.” Chief stated, unfazed. “For the attempted assault on his chief… Eono will be stripped of his Warden status until further investigation is held.”
 - WHAT WHAT ABOUT RAVEN

15.  “There is no excuse for his behaviour, Chief.” The Adsoku ambassadors bowed. “We would like to express our regret for not being aware he’d been acting strangely. We will re-evaluate our family again and send you an updated list.”
 - He's definitely gone coo-coo, but I really want to see how that fight started and developed. I really don't think he just snapped and attacked her.

16. “How many does that make this month? Five?”
 
“It’s true then, that rumour?”
 
“You haven’t noticed? If this is happening to us, imagine the chil-”
- Wait has something been happening this month?

17. “Hm, jittery chipmunk? What did I do?” Waron mimicked her annoyed tone. “I don’t think I did anything wrong. Was I spying and eavesdropping on a confidential Wardens-Only meeting?”
 - Waron has the oddest  pet names ever. Hands down.

18. Dave suddenly realized Roun’s absence again. His cousin really had a knack of vanishing without anyone knowing, just like how Waron and Shira could creep up on someone without being noticed.
- Dudes' a ninja.

19. Dave glanced at Roun. To his surprise, his cousin stood up and stepped forward. “What happened with Eono?” Roun demanded. “Why is he acting like that? Don’t say it has nothing to do with us because we were at the training grove and we could have gotten seriously hurt too.”
 - Let me guess... The question won't be answered.

20. “And this is why…” Waron decided to sit cross-legged in front of them. “I’m going to place a gag order on everything you just saw and heard.”
 - Yeaup.

21. “Hah! You would circulate the most interesting theories, Dave.” Waron laughed. “Eono’s perfectly normal. What you saw there was tempers hitting max capacity and exploding.”
 - Lies!

22. Waron looked at the boy coldly. “I don’t have to explain anything to you. You forget what you saw here and tell no one. If I hear one peep, chirp, or twitter about this in the village, I’m telling your parents,” he growled. “Or should I exclude you all from the festival? I’m sure your parents would love to hear why.”
 
“No!” all three children objected at the same time, shocked.
 - Sigh, I swear in this village it's impossible to learn any impertitent information. Everyone is secretive or ineffective at giving information.

23. Roun sat back in defeat. “I mean, what if this happens to someone else...?”
- Good question.
Chapter 13
Spoiler

1.  “Yeah,” Roun said through the last coughs. “Slightly overworked, I think. All this early morning practice and excitement. I was going to say, this isn’t the first time they’ve tried to hide something from us.”
- I can imagine. Though you and your friends are hiding stuff too, Roun, so don't act offended or surprised.

2.
 “What happened before?”
- Let me guess. No answer to this question

3.
 “No one knows exactly,” Shira answered curtly.
- I knew it! Screw it Dave, break into a library and steal whatever top-secret records this village has! Nobody is ever going to answer your questions! Abandon all hope on finding out anything!

4. “Not again,” Roun wheezed while hitting his chest with a shaking fist. Why was this happening now? He took deep breaths and wiped the sweat congealed on his face.
- Hm, is Roun sick?

5. In a way, Roun was relieved it’d been around to watch him, as annoyed as he was with his uncle for setting the dogs on him. Feeling another bout of coughs coming on, he grasped the wolf’s fur, climbed on and slumped over. “Take me to the healer.”
- Guess he is.
- Also nice wolf. I want to peet ittt
 

6.  Who could he talk to?
- No one, Dave. Go find out the information yourself. Trust me.

7. “Not really…but where could I go? I don’t the forest that well and dad wouldn’t want me exploring on my own,” Dave murmured.
*** I don't know the forest well

8. “What are you doing now?”
“If you’re looking for Dae our house is the fifth one on the right when you arrive at our family area,” Shira said curtly.
- Seriously, nobody answers questions directly in this village.

9.
Dave paused awkwardly. “I was asking about you.”

Shira fell into an equally awkward pause. “Raven found me first. Her penalty was collecting spax-berries. I didn’t technically do anything during sparring either.”

- I wonder what spax-berries are.

10. “You’re new,” the girl said coolly. “Plus, Raven finds your dad troublesome to deal with.”
- Hm that's pretty unfair.

11. Why is she going by herself? Didn’t Roun say it’s dangerous to go into that area alone?
- Good question. Don't ask her about it.

12.
“Isn’t it dangerous?” said Dave.

“Not if you keep to certain areas.”

You should go with her, just in case.

“Can I come with you?”

- Huh. That's nice of Dave to offer.

13. At this, Shira halted and give him a strange sidelong look. Dave was sure she hesitated for a moment before saying, “You don’t need to. It’s my penalty.” She resumed walking. It seemed to him they were just going in circles around the hill. Was she trying to make him lose interest?
- Go with herrrr

14. Dave’s long strides wouldn’t let her get away from him. “Not if I follow you.”
- Hahaha

15.
“The terrain is tricky. You wouldn’t last.”
“You don’t know that.” Dave shrugged.
“Lots of wild animals and venomous plants too.”
You really don’t like company, do you? Dave sighed inwardly.
- She really doesn't

16. To his surprise, his words took effect. A cloud of sullenness fell over the girl’s face. A soft growling noise sounded from her throat that ended in a face palm. “I guess…. You can come. Just don’t fall behind, don’t provoke the wild animals, and don’t expect me to cover for you. I won’t be responsible for your loss. Though you should be fine at your age.”
- Indeed. And for the love of everything bring a weapon with you this time, Dave.

17. “A Birdie?” Dave’s heart gave an excited leap. Were these people so attuned to nature they possessed tame birds they could ride as well?
- Hahahaha

18. “That is nifty,” he exclaimed softly.
- It is indeed, nifty.

19. “Thanks. You don’t need to watch over me anymore.” Roun dismounted the wolf and gave it a brief scratch behind the ears. “Go keep an eye on Dave.” The wolf whined and reluctantly left the petting hand. It glanced over its shoulder a few times before running into the forest.
- Yeaup, definitely the move to make.

20. “One a day. Don’t push yourself. And don’t be afraid to speak up. We’re here for you.” Playfully, Swallow flicked the side of his head. “Remember that, okay? Now go home and get some rest.”
- Hm. Wonder what sickness it is.

21. “Yes, I do. I put the location on the Birdie’s GPS. I just have no idea what route we’re taking. It changes each time based on what the scanner picks up.”
- Is it scanning for berries or safe routes? How automated is it?

22. “I’m not a forest fairy, duh. Do you want to try driving in this fog?”
- Good point.

23. “These are the spax-berry bushes,” Shira said, her hand whapping the small leaves of a wide spreading bush. Clusters of small purples berries in the shape of spiky balls hung heavy from its branches, exuding a mellow scent not unpleasant to the senses.
- Ah, so that's what spax-berries are.

24. Shira looked unimpressed while handing him a number of pouches large enough to hold a single baseball. “No, dummy. You’d die from internal bleeding.”
- Jeeeez.

25. “Why are you trying so hard to keep people away from you?” Before he knew it, Dave had blurted it out.
- Damn going for the hard questions.

26. Shira’s hand stopped mid-air. She swiveled, her narrowed eye stabbing him like a sharpened icicle. Heat rushed to his face. He wanted to slap himself. How could he have said something so tactless to the same person twice?
- Hey the first one was honestly a misstep!

27.
The few seconds that the girl stared hard at him seemed like ages before she turned her gaze away. “Why do you think? Because there’s people like you who think I need to be pitied just because one of my eyes isn’t working.”
“I never thought that!” Dave objected. “It’s just that, you’re always leaving without saying anything, and you’re always in a bad – uh, unhappy expression whenever I see you, I thought you might have something against me – I mean, you have a right to be upset with me after, well –“
“Why would I have something against you?” Tone rising, Shira fixed him an annoyed look.
- Finally. Conversation. Sharing of thoughts and feelings.

28. “I wouldn't be mad at you for that.” Shira responded in a level tone. “I see why you would think that though. Hmph.” She brushed her ponytail back as she faced the other way. “Everyone thinks that I’ll get all depressed if I’m ‘reminded’ of what happened during the war. It’s their manner of being too careful that annoys me. As if this mask I wear everyday weren’t enough of a reminder. I would rather they said it to my face if it makes them uncomfortable to have me around. Besides, I can’t be depressed when I’m always feeling down.”
- Can't be dirty when you're in the mud. True. Ah so she lost it in the war.

29. Shira shrugged. “I’m not able to do things as well as others can. I might as well be dead weight. It’s nothing new to me. Just so we’re clear, I’m not upset at you.”
“Thanks. I feel better about that now.”
- Phew.

30. No further comments were made as they continued to harvest the berries. The task was oddly engrossing and like a child in a strawberry field, it became a self-challenge for Dave to see how many berries he could get.
- I loved this feeling when plucking apples. It's nice quiet tedious work. With some tea and coffee near a shed you can burn hours of the day away pretty well. Gah I want to go in Naturee

31. About a couple of hours had passed when Dave finally stopped to behold the results of his labour. His spine cracked a few times as he stretched and eyed the large pouches beside him gleefully, well-satisfied they’d done the work of five people. Even though Shira had mentioned wild animals and venomous plants, Dave hadn’t heard or seen anything particularly alarming, a good thing, he figured. Still, he cast a wary eye around him, just in case.
- You can never be careful, Dave. But lucky for you a nice wolfie is watching over you.

32.  And thus, he was lost.
- BAKA

33. Oh right, phone – but I don’t have her number. Does she even have a phone?” His ears didn’t pick up a returning call as hard as he listened.
- Do you even have a signal here bro

34. “What were you doing?” Shira demanded, when they were at a distance.

“I was looking for you and I heard –”

“We’re not allowed in there! We’ll get in trouble!” Riled as an angry piglet, she didn’t seem to hear him, her eyes glancing at their surroundings while she gnawed on her thumb.
- Let me guess, she won't explain why he can't go in there.

35. “Why? What’s over there?”

Shira glared narrowly at him. “That leads to a forbidden area. It’s dangerous!”

“Why is it forbidden?”

A collection of various sounds rumbled in the girl’s throat. “Didn’t they tell you?! The forbidden areas are where the Zerakis did their experiments. There’s still negative energy pockets laying around. That’s why I picked this spot. The animals don’t like the pockets. But we can’t get near them. If a Warden saw us, we’d never hear the end of it!”
- OK IM TOTALLY WRONG. Ah finally some information. But I still want to know what negative energy pockets are, and what experiments the Zerakis did. Do more digging, Dave!

36, Dave nodded. “But what are negative energy pockets?”
- Yessss I want to know too.

37. At this, Shira threw up her hands. “Unbelievable!” she exclaimed, crushing plants ruthlessly underfoot as she tramped back the way she’d come.
- OH COME ON

38. “Not you.” Shira scowled. “Somebody hasn’t been doing his job properly, that’s what. C’mon, let’s head back before we get branded as renegades too.”
- Yeah honestly Dave you either just have to shut up, go to your father and ask for all the infromation you want, or steal it. Honestly you haven't learnt anything significantly new during your stay in the village than if you'd been an outsider recieving postcard photographs about the village.

39. Dave realized she meant Roun.
- And your pops!

40. Was that supposed to make him feel better? He should’ve known better than to stick his nose where it didn’t belong. Already that impulsiveness had gotten him into more than a few scraps. If this kept up, he might not survive the summer.
- I honestly don't see anything wrong with a little curiousity. Also, it'd be infinitely easier to tell him 'Hey, this forbidden forest has things called negative energy pockets that are dangerous to you along with all the other wild flaura and flora. An ancient civilization used to run experiments and stuff. Yes.' I mean not like that but it feels like they expect Dave to just not be curious about what are obviously foreign things to him.

41. Still, it hadn’t been his imagination. That voice beyond the forest wall – he’d really heard it.
- Yeah that voice was definitely some bad mojo.

42. Caught up with listing all the things he still needed to know, Dave didn’t realize that not a single scratch marred his thorn slashed hands.
 - Hm, I wonder if that's significant.


General Comments

Spoiler
With that, I've finally finished reading Charred Life. I've got to get this first gripe out of the way before I get to the good: I read this on purpose without looking at notes or considering what I've explicitly seen explained by you as lore on the forum and the like, and I'm a bit lost to be honest.

There is so much awesome stuff going on in the periphery of this world and I know for a fact it's all developed and explained, but 1. The information feels like it's deliberately obfuscated (a smaller example being Roun not being identified when we clearly knew it was him during the time he saved Dave) or 2. It's simply insufficient and traded off for other things that aren't that important. It's definitely something I can deal with - I've seen a lot of weird cyberpunk anime and artsy ones.

The Big O for example is brilliant at this. It makes for building up a slow-burn world that has the reader actually use their mind to try to piece things together, so I'm not suggesting you actually do anything to change this aspect of the story, but I've gotta say, I've been mentally tearing my hair at how little Daves' questions are getting answered. Throughout this all I don't even know as a reader if Nanrot are humans or not, what year it is, and if the 4 seasons apply to this world. I would actually be much more OK with this if I knew exactly what Dave thinks about all of this. On one hand he's an expert knife-thrower, on the other he doesn't know about Acor traditions and is taking part in a festival where he could be chosen for a Warden? The disconnect feels so odd.

Phew.


Now the good:

This isn't a story that I'll bother looking for spellcheck problems or grammatical errors with so let's just put that out of the way: Solid writing and great command of language. Don't change a thing. At this point all you should focus on is style. I even liked the action scenes. Pretty intense highspeed stuff full of all that juicy epic goodness.

I love how well threaded this story is. Like I said I have no doubts about how well the world is developed, and it shows in how real the characters feel. Your character descriptions and their moods and personalities are on point. I dislike and like them authentically as beings that are living in a space, and that's not the easiest thing to do so serious props with that. Love your character naming too Echo. Hands down never seen it before in any other literature haha so it's pretty cool.

If I had to have a favourite character I'd say Waron for some reason. Roun is cool, too, even though people put him down. I'm not sold on him being a lazy douche or whatever the village seems to think of him. I think he's actually pretty well adjusted ort aleast sympathetic. Dave is my vehicle for finding out things in this universe and a pretty great motivator for the story and why it started in this place.

I like the weird tech-magic thing that's going on here. I'm ages away from understanding it in its entirerty but this is the stuff fantasy worlds are made of. It's inspired me again to consider getting into RPs and just building universes for fun. This is some impressive stuff you're working at here, and I feel that the actual execution for the story should go beyond 'just a simple book.' I'm talking music playlists and a dedicated message board forum and comics and the works if you ever have time for it. I mean for sure start with making a book, but this feels like a story that has a world in it. Props for making this, Echo! Not sure when I'll get to the next chapters but I eventually will at some point. Till then keep on writing and stuff.

As always, this is all my opinion. Take what's useful to you, ignore the useless and do your thing! This impressive stuff, Echo

Offline Echo_River

  • Mild Observer
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1953
  • Gender: Female
  • Need Chips
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #28 on: April 13, 2020, 02:44:50 PM »
 :ohmy: Whoa! Thanks so much Lego for your review and feedback! I really appreciate the comments which have been enjoyable to read and quite often eye-opening c:

I totally understand what you meant by the obscurity. LOL I didn't even notice how much it was happening until it kept popping up in your comments (hilarious and mortifying at the same time) and then it started frustrating me too haha. It came to my realization that I may have been too afraid of releasing too much information, which resulted in the opposite, or limiting info reveal to dialogue (which didn't happen a lot). Definitely think I'd like to take advantage of informative narration to paint a clearer picture of the world. Something to keep in mind for future writing as well. Tysm for this.

Roun being labelled "lazy" was something that has been stuck in my mind from the previous versions, and was hard for me to get away from. But as I've been writing him, he's honestly showed that wasn't the right image for him, apart from his knack for fleeing (for another reason which isn't laziness). I think I might change that focus when I rewrite it. Maybe something of the opposite, like "Feels pressured due to high expectations for him".

You got Dave right! Sometimes I felt he was more protagonist material than Roun haha.

Haha I'd love for it to be a comic, and I always get inspired by those game encyclopedias or art books. That'd be something on the long-term list if I ever got around to doing that XD

Welp, back to work then. Good to know that you're enjoying it! Thanks again Lego.

No one is perfect . . . that's why there's erasers and extra paper.
DA: http://neysun.deviantart.com
IG: https://www.instagram.com/neysun_hao/
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/star-lock

Offline legomaestro

  • High Chancellor of Righteousness
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 20070
  • Gender: Male
  • real life has wack graphics
    • View Profile
Re: Charred Life (Rewritten)
« Reply #29 on: April 14, 2020, 08:16:29 AM »
Glad it could help Echo!  and like I said I was just sympathetically being frustrated for Dave. You don't need to make an executive decision to change it or anything, I was just sharing my impression mostly.

I'll probably wait a bit for chapters to pile up before I read again, but yeah I'll be looking forward to more

Goodluck and stuff!