MG Fantasy: Demas' First Task: The Prophecy of Rob

Post excerpts from your works in progress and give feedback to your fellow writers.
Post Reply
EllieAnn
Posts: 18
Joined: September 15th, 2010, 8:52 am
Contact:

MG Fantasy: Demas' First Task: The Prophecy of Rob

Post by EllieAnn » September 15th, 2010, 3:19 pm

Chapter One: Thou Shalt Not Slay Animals Uselessly

Be wary, my friends. Not all of the King’s tasks go down like honeyed butter.
-Prophecy of Jubilee

Early in the morning, Demas and his mama, Karla, raced their horses around the property. Demas usually hated being out of bed before eight o'clock, but he had woken with an acute feeling of unrest. It was like an itch on the back of his soul, uncomfortable and impossible to soothe. A feeling like he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Demas knew it wouldn’t go away for good until he received his first task from the Invisible King. But until then, thundering hooves and brisk morning air were helpful distractions.
He planned to pass through the open gate until he saw Karla’s mare leap over the middle of the fence. She looked back after she made the jump, her face ruddy and alight with merriment. She raised her eyebrows and cocked her head in clear challenge. Demas clenched his jaw, leaned forward, and gripped Rowen with his knees, determined to take the shortcut. No thirteen-year-old boy should get out-jumped by his mama.
Rowen and Demas bounded over the fence as one, but landed as two. Demas dropped like an anchor to the black earth. He took a roll and skipped up before Rowen even noticed he was riderless.
"Zik!" Demas said as Karla disappeared into the woods ahead, riding to victory, and taking his self-respect with her.
He clambered onto Rowen, and kicked him into a run before his bottom hit the saddle. Rowen grunted and lowered his head, heaving himself off the ground with every stride. Demas heard nothing but the wind and the beat of his own heart. The speed lifted his dreadlocks off his sweaty neck. Horse and rider whipped past the sunny terrain.
But with every hoof beat Demas' shoulders sagged, and with every jarring gallop he leaned back in the saddle. He knew defeat when he saw it. Better to pretend he wasn’t trying to win in the first place. The best way to beat a victor is through nonchalance.
Karla waited at the edge of the woods with a cocky grin on her face. They turned their cantering horses east to follow the stone wall that hugged their property.
"Give up in the end, did we?" Karla asked.
"I let you win," Demas said, then slapped at a low hanging tree branch with his riding crop. The branch showered him with dry, dead bark. It scratched and clung to his damp skin. Demas roughly shook his shoulders and brushed off his tunic.
Karla stared at him with a pert smile on her face. She was still glowing from the exercise, wind, and win. A hard fall, losing a horserace to his mama for the hundredth time, and bark down his tunic were definitely not the best ways to start the day. He glared between Rowen’s ears. The restless feeling itched along his spine again. Or maybe it was just dry bark.
Demas’ hand strayed to the copper key that hung on his necklace; holding it lightly, his thumb stroked the warm metal. The key was every bit as much a part of him as his black skin, long arms, and disciplined personality. He was a Keyper, chosen by the Invisible King to unlock a hidden prophecy someday. Demas needed a task, for the more tasks he received the more prepared he would be to find a prophecy—one of the greatest honors an Untouchable could have.
A tall black man, large and regal as the mountain kings, waited beside the gate on a burgundy stallion. He looked bored until he caught sight of the duo approaching. They brought a joyous smile to his lips.
"Karla. Demas. Have a good race?" He trotted out to meet them.
"No," Demas said.
"Yes," Karla said.
Demas’ papa, Kenan, reached his hand to Karla and they entwined fingers for a moment.
"Did my boy lose to his mama again?"
"She's fast," Demas said, then shot a look at Karla, hoping she would say nothing about his fall. “But I’ll beat her one of these days.”
“Yes . . . when I’ve lost all my teeth and my bones are rattlin’ in my skin,” Karla said. Demas smiled.
"Not if you keep up your obsessive riding routine,” Kenan said.
No rain, robberies, or runny noses could keep Karla from her morning ride.
Two muscular slaves closed the heavy gates after they passed through. Each man was armed—and wore the kilt and slippers befitting an athlete.
"Regent, Thomas, how was the night?" Kenan asked them.
"Uninteresting, Master," Thomas said.
"Just what I like to hear."
The stone road wound between expansive pastures and expensive gardens, leading to a villa seated on a distant hill. Even from this distance, the villa’s red clay roof and ebony pillars shone with grandeur. Birch trees lined the road; their snowy bark and lively leaves created a grand effect to approaching their villa. It felt like walking under a tall, friendly crowd waving their hands in greeting.
“Ten years ago we planted those birches,” Kenan motioned to the trees. “Ten years since our escape from Mane.”
Their eyes hardened in remembrance. Demas was only three when they took that midnight ride out of Mane. But his parents spoke of it so often, he thought he could remember the bumpy coach ride, the fear, and the tears Kenan hadn’t even tried to hold inside.
“Ten years we’ve been in hiding. And no one in our Covering has been killed,” Karla said.
“It’s not so safe in other Coverings,” Kenan said. “Last week the Aiieans locked up and burned the Covering in Theis. No one survived.”
Demas’ brow twisted. “Why couldn’t anyone protect them? Don’t they have Gifts?”
“Not everyone practices their Gifts like we do,” Kenan said.
“Let’s not talk about this.” Karla set her chin, which had started to tremble.
Demas wanted to hear more about the attack, about how the Aiieans managed to find the Covering and why they lacked a protector. But Kenan quickly turned the subject away from things that made Karla’s chin tremble.
“The sous-chef had her baby last night,” Kenan said.
“Oh, how wonderful.” Karla’s eyes watered in excitement at the mere mention of a baby.
A quavering bleat came from one of the sheep pastures—a weird, unnatural sound that cut off suddenly.
"Did you hear that?" Demas asked, straightening up. "What the—"
Suddenly, a flaming sheep burst out of the poplars.
Mouth screwed in anguish, it sent out a high-pitched wail. Its fluffy fleece was smothered in greasy tar; puffy smoke trailed its wild bucking. In between frenzied leaps and curls, the creature smashed its face into the ground. Finding no relief, it started its panicked twirling again.
The three watched in spineless horror until the sight of another flaming sheep startled Kenan into action. The second sheep came from the same pasture, furiously running down the road away from them.
"Demas, shoot them." Kenan voice grew deep and rumbling, as it always did when every second mattered. Demas strung his bow taut with an arrow before Kenan finished his next words. "Put those beasts out of their misery."
Demas hesitated only a moment before silencing the hysterical sheep. He gracefully nocked another arrow and sent it through the other sheep's heart. When it slumped to the ground, Demas’ neck hair stood on end.
"The flock's on fire, the flock’s on fire," Regent and Thomas yelled as they ran down the road and leapt the fence.
Kenan, Karla, and Demas kicked their horses into a canter and jumped the fence. They saw twelve more bonfires with legs, running wildly around the hilly pasture. Demas could feel a suffocating pressure in his throat. He couldn’t believe this was happening. Swallowing twice and taking a deep breath brought a semblance of control. Regent and Thomas started plugging the sheep with arrows, sometimes taking two or three shots before finishing the job.
Demas only needed one shot. His movements were practiced, mechanical. He took two seconds to load and draw the bow, one second to exhale, one second to watch the arrow fly through the air; then he started the process again. He killed eight sheep in thirty-two seconds.
A shepherd crested the hill. Bright blood spotted his forehead and he trotted, hands bouncing at his sides. When a sheep collapsed from one of Regent's arrows, he slowed to a walk, and then stopped.
"Regent, Thomas, hold your weapons!" Kenan said. They instantly obeyed.
One flaming sheep ran across the hill. As it neared the shepherd he reached out to it, as if wanting to calm it down. The animal caterwauled around its master, oblivious to everything except pain. It was a hard shot. One hundred and fifty yards away, a sweeping wind, and a person standing four feet away from the target. But Demas didn’t think about it—in a second his arrow sunk exactly where he Aimed it.
The carcasses oozed smoke, marring the clear field like festering boils. When the shepherd saw his master he stumbled towards them. Kenan galloped out to meet him.
Demas dismounted and walked to the sheep lying in the middle of the road. He could hear Kenan's sharp voice echoing across the field, giving orders.
He dropped heavily to the ground beside the sheep. Its matted fur was red with blood, black with burns, pink with exposed flesh. Only its rump and hind legs remained a pure white. The smell of putrid tar and wafting smoke stung his nose. Demas knelt, first to lightly touch his arrow, then to grip the soft, undamaged fleece and hold it fast between his fingers. He breathed deep the repugnant stench and told himself not to forget this moment.
When Kenan charged back to the road, Demas still knelt in front of the dead animal, his head hung low. Karla sat very still on her mare.
"Karla, love," Kenan said, his horse high-stepping impatiently. "Go tell Jac that the Aiieans attacked. Tell him to implement full security measures." Kenan looked towards the villa. "And reassure what slaves you can. I don't want anyone to be afraid of the Aiieans while under my roof."
"I'll do what I can." Karla’s voice cracked with worry. “Were the Aiieans from Barlow? Our Illuminary said they have been spying on us.”
“No, no, no, it isn’t that serious. It’s probably just some teenagers working out their hatred.” Kenan’s stallion pranced sideways. “Burning sheep. Because of our Law against eating roasted mutton.”
“Barbarians,” Karla said.
"Demas," Kenan turned to him, "mount up. Get your blowgun and walk perimeter with Regent and Thomas. Find out where our wall was breached, but don’t go after them.” Kenan leveled him with a fierce frown until Demas nodded. “I’m going to see the Illuminary.”
"Now?" Demas stood and grabbed Rowen's reins. He couldn’t believe Kenan would leave them during a crisis.
"Yes. Now."
"Why are you going to see the Illuminary?" Karla asked, just as shocked as Demas.
"He has some things to answer to," Kenan said, neck muscles tightening.
Demas and Karla traded an anxious look. Karla had always told Demas to never take Kenan’s fierce looks and hard words personally. But even Karla looked cowed by his ferociousness. Kenan didn’t even nod goodbye before he whipped his horse into a gallop and thundered out the gate.
Demas was glad he was not the Illuminary.

BethC
Posts: 46
Joined: April 5th, 2010, 10:28 pm
Contact:

Re: MG Fantasy: Demas' First Task: The Prophecy of Rob

Post by BethC » September 15th, 2010, 8:54 pm

Hi Ellie. I've been away from the forum for a couple of months, trying revisions of my own, but I'm intrigued by your story. I don't know that I'm the best person to help, but I'll offer my comments.

EllieAnn wrote:Chapter One: Thou Shalt Not Slay Animals Uselessly

Be wary, my friends. Not all of the King’s tasks go down like honeyed butter.
-Prophecy of Jubilee

Early in the morning, Demas and his mama, Karla, raced their horses around the property.(omit first comma) Demas usually hated being out of bed before eight o'clock, but he had woken with an acute feeling of unrest. It was like an itch on the back of his soul, uncomfortable and impossible to soothe. (I love this sentence, but the next one seems like an add-on that is jarring. I'd omit it and if you need the "wrong place wrong time" info try to tie it in later ) A feeling like he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Demas knew it wouldn’t go away for good until he received his first task from the Invisible King. But until then, thundering hooves and brisk morning air were helpful distractions.
He planned to pass through the open gate until he saw Karla’s mare leap over the middle of the fence. She looked back after she made the jump, her face ruddy and alight with merriment. She raised her eyebrows and cocked her head in clear challenge. Demas clenched his jaw, leaned forward, and gripped Rowen with his knees, determined to take the shortcut. No thirteen-year-old boy should get out-jumped by his mama.
Rowen and Demas bounded over the fence as one, but landed as two. Demas dropped like an anchor to the black earth. He took a roll and skipped up before Rowen even noticed he was riderless.
"Zik!" Demas said as Karla disappeared into the woods ahead, riding to victory, and taking his self-respect with her.
He clambered onto Rowen,(omit comma) and kicked him into a run before his bottom hit the saddle. Rowen grunted and lowered his head, heaving himself off the ground with every stride. Demas heard nothing but the wind and the beat of his own heart. The speed lifted his dreadlocks off his sweaty neck. Horse and rider whipped past the sunny terrain.
But with every hoof beat Demas' shoulders sagged, and with every jarring gallop he leaned back in the saddle. He knew defeat when he saw it. Better to pretend he wasn’t trying to win in the first place. The best way to beat a victor is through nonchalance.
Karla waited at the edge of the woods with a cocky grin on her face. They turned their cantering horses east to follow the stone wall that hugged their property.
"Give up in the end, did we?" Karla asked.
"I let you win," Demas said, then slapped at a low hanging tree branch with his riding crop. The branch showered him with dry, dead bark. It scratched and clung to his damp skin. Demas roughly shook his shoulders and brushed off his tunic.
Karla stared at him with a pert smile on her face. She was still glowing from the exercise, wind, and win. A hard fall, losing a horserace to his mama for the hundredth time, and bark down his tunic were definitely not the best ways to start the day. He glared between Rowen’s ears. The restless feeling itched along his spine again. Or maybe it was just dry bark. (A lot of telling here. consider saying: Karla stared at him. The restless feeling itched along his spine and he glared back between Rowen's ears.)
Demas’ hand strayed to the copper key that hung on his necklace; holding it lightly, his thumb stroked the warm metal. The key was every bit as much a part of him as his black skin, long arms, and disciplined personality. He was a Keyper, chosen by the Invisible King to unlock a hidden prophecy someday. Demas needed a task, for the more tasks he received the more prepared he would be to find a prophecy—one of the greatest honors an Untouchable could have.
(they were in the forest and now back at the gate. space or lead back to the gate.) A tall black man, large and regal as the mountain kings, waited beside the gate on a burgundy stallion. He looked bored until he caught sight of the duo approaching. They brought a joyous smile to his lips.
"Karla. Demas. Have a good race?" He trotted out to meet them.
"No," Demas said.
"Yes," Karla said. (tags are okay, just don't use them all the time. )
Demas’ papa, Kenan, reached his hand to Karla and they entwined fingers for a moment.
"Did my boy lose to his mama again?"
"She's fast," Demas said, then shot a look at Karla, hoping she would say nothing about his fall. “But I’ll beat her one of these days.”
“Yes . . . when I’ve lost all my teeth and my bones are rattlin’ in my skin,” Karla said. Demas smiled.
"Not if you keep up your obsessive riding routine,” Kenan said.
No rain, robberies, or runny noses could keep Karla from her morning ride. (this is the one sentence that lost me. I have no idea how this fits in)
Two muscular slaves closed the heavy gates after they passed through. Each man was armed—and wore the kilt and slippers befitting an athlete. (awkward)
"Regent, Thomas, how was the night?" Kenan asked them.
"Uninteresting, Master," Thomas said.
"Just what I like to hear."
The stone road wound between expansive pastures and expensive gardens, leading to a villa seated on a distant hill. Even from this distance, the villa’s red clay roof and ebony pillars shone with grandeur. Birch trees lined the road; their snowy bark and lively leaves created a grand effect to approaching their villa. It felt like walking under a tall, friendly crowd waving their hands in greeting. (this takes me out of the story. shorten or find another way to show not tell)
“Ten years ago we planted those birches,” Kenan motioned to the trees. “Ten years since our escape from Mane.”
Their eyes hardened in remembrance. Demas was only three when they took that midnight ride out of Mane. But his parents spoke of it so often, he thought he could remember the bumpy coach ride, the fear, and the tears Kenan hadn’t even tried to hold inside.
“Ten years we’ve been in hiding. And no one in our Covering has been killed,” Karla said.
“It’s not so safe in other Coverings,” Kenan said. “Last week the Aiieans locked up and burned the Covering in Theis. No one survived.”
Demas’ brow twisted. “Why couldn’t anyone protect them? Don’t they have Gifts?”
“Not everyone practices their Gifts like we do,” Kenan said.
“Let’s not talk about this.” Karla set her chin, which had started to tremble.
Demas wanted to hear more about the attack, about how the Aiieans managed to find the Covering and why they lacked a protector. But Kenan quickly turned the subject away from things that made Karla’s chin tremble.
“The sous-chef had her baby last night,” Kenan said.
“Oh, how wonderful.” Karla’s eyes watered in excitement at the mere mention of a baby.
A quavering bleat came from one of the sheep pastures—a weird, unnatural sound that cut off suddenly.
"Did you hear that?" Demas asked, straightening up. "What the—"
Suddenly, a flaming sheep burst out of the poplars.
Mouth screwed in anguish, it sent out a high-pitched wail. Its fluffy fleece was smothered in greasy tar; puffy(omit puffy) smoke trailed its wild bucking. In between frenzied leaps and curls, the creature smashed its face into the ground. Finding no relief, it started its panicked twirling again.
The three watched in spineless(not sure about spineless. it makes them sound like they were too afraid to help and obviously they aren't ) horror until the sight of another flaming sheep startled Kenan into action. The second sheep came from the same pasture, furiously running down the road away from them.
"Demas, shoot them." Kenan voice grew deep and rumbling, as it always did when every second mattered. Demas strung his bow taut with an arrow before Kenan finished his next words. "Put those beasts out of their misery."
Demas hesitated only a moment before silencing the hysterical (again, word seems strange. the sheep's on fire after all) sheep. He gracefully nocked another arrow and sent it through the other sheep's heart. When it slumped to the ground, Demas’ neck hair stood on end. (why?)
"The flock's on fire, the flock’s on fire," Regent and Thomas yelled as they ran down the road and leapt the fence.
Kenan, Karla, and Demas kicked their horses into a canter and jumped the fence. They saw twelve more bonfires with legs, running wildly around the hilly pasture. Demas could feel a suffocating pressure in his throat. He couldn’t believe this was happening. Swallowing twice and taking a deep breath brought a semblance of control. Regent and Thomas started plugging the sheep with arrows, sometimes taking two or three shots before finishing the job.
Demas only needed one shot. His movements were practiced, mechanical. He took two seconds to load and draw the bow, one second to exhale, one second to watch the arrow fly through the air; then he started the process again. He killed eight sheep in thirty-two seconds. (omit this sentence. you give the time it takes before this. it really isn't necessary to the story, unless killing 8 is significant and it's just unnecessary information)
A shepherd crested the hill. Bright blood spotted his forehead and he trotted, hands bouncing at his sides. When a sheep collapsed from one of Regent's arrows, he slowed to a walk, and then stopped.
"Regent, Thomas, hold your weapons!" Kenan said. They instantly obeyed.
One flaming sheep ran across the hill. As it neared the shepherd he reached out to it, as if wanting to calm it down. The animal caterwauled around its master, oblivious to everything except pain. It was a hard shot. One hundred and fifty yards away, a sweeping wind, and a person standing four feet away from the target. But Demas didn’t think about it—in a second his arrow sunk exactly where he Aimed it. (aimed)
The carcasses oozed smoke, marring the clear field like festering boils. When the shepherd saw his master he stumbled towards them. Kenan galloped out to meet him.
Demas dismounted and walked to the sheep lying in the middle of the road. He could hear Kenan's sharp voice echoing across the field, giving orders.
He dropped heavily to the ground beside the sheep. Its matted fur was red with blood, black with burns, pink with exposed flesh. Only its rump and hind legs remained a pure white. The smell of putrid tar and wafting smoke stung his nose. Demas knelt, first to lightly touch his arrow, then to grip the soft, undamaged fleece and hold it fast between his fingers. He breathed deep the repugnant stench and told himself not to forget this moment.
When Kenan charged back to the road, Demas still knelt in front of the dead animal, his head hung low. Karla sat very still on her mare.
"Karla, love," Kenan said, his horse high-stepping impatiently. "Go tell Jac that the Aiieans attacked. Tell him to implement full security measures." Kenan looked towards the villa. "And reassure what slaves you can. I don't want anyone to be afraid of the Aiieans while under my roof."
"I'll do what I can." Karla’s voice cracked with worry. “Were the Aiieans from Barlow? Our Illuminary said they have been spying on us.”
“No, no, no, it isn’t that serious. It’s probably just some teenagers working out their hatred.” Kenan’s stallion pranced sideways. “Burning sheep. Because of our Law against eating roasted mutton.” (this whole part beginning with "The carcasses..." is a lot of telling.)
“Barbarians,” Karla said.
"Demas," Kenan turned to him, "mount up. Get your blowgun and walk perimeter with Regent and Thomas. Find out where our wall was breached, but don’t go after them.” Kenan leveled him with a fierce frown until Demas nodded. “I’m going to see the Illuminary.”
"Now?" Demas stood and grabbed Rowen's reins. He couldn’t believe Kenan would leave them during a crisis.
"Yes. Now."
"Why are you going to see the Illuminary?" Karla asked, just as shocked as Demas. (this conversation is a little confusing. above she states the Illuminary told her the Aiieans were spying and now she sounds like it's strange her husband would want to talk to someone who might have information about the attack)
"He has some things to answer to," Kenan said, neck muscles tightening.
Demas and Karla traded an anxious look. Karla had always told Demas to never take Kenan’s fierce looks and hard words personally. But even Karla looked cowed by his ferociousness. Kenan didn’t even nod goodbye before he whipped his horse into a gallop and thundered out the gate.
Demas was glad he was not the Illuminary.
I like the premise and enjoyed reading your pages. As I said, I'm revising chapter 1 myself. Be careful with giving too much info first. The first few pages are so important. they must draw the reader in and make them want more...too much telling or bogging down w/descriptions can pull a reader out. Overall you have a great start and I look forward to reading more.

BethC
Posts: 46
Joined: April 5th, 2010, 10:28 pm
Contact:

Re: MG Fantasy: Demas' First Task: The Prophecy of Rob

Post by BethC » September 15th, 2010, 8:56 pm

oops, sorry the font color didn't change within the quote. Obviously I'm not good at this. hope you can make sense of it.

EllieAnn
Posts: 18
Joined: September 15th, 2010, 8:52 am
Contact:

Re: MG Fantasy: Demas' First Task: The Prophecy of Rob

Post by EllieAnn » September 16th, 2010, 10:56 am

Dear Beth,
Thanks for your fantastic edit! You have some really astute suggestions that have really helped tighten my first chapter. Thank you!
Good luck with your first chapter. Have you posted it in the forums?
-Ellie

BethC
Posts: 46
Joined: April 5th, 2010, 10:28 pm
Contact:

Re: MG Fantasy: Demas' First Task: The Prophecy of Rob

Post by BethC » September 16th, 2010, 7:17 pm

Ellie,
I haven't post yet but will do so. It's YA,paranormal romance, I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY. I've been working with a critique partner and am fortunate enough to have made contact with an old friend who recommended I sent it to a friend of hers who is now a stay-at-home mom, but worked as an editor for seven years before that. they've given me tremendous help...so we'll see.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest