One

One

A Chapter by Isemay

Syreilla slipped back into the chamber she shared with Vezar, the chamber she had been commanded to remain in. The half-dragon was returning, she could feel it, he always sent a thought ahead as if he didn’t wish to enter unannounced.


A moment later he opened the door.


“Well?”


“He has named those we are to-”


“Is he letting me out of this f*****g prison, Vezar?!”


“It will take time my treasure, you-”


“Almost a hundred years, Vezar! I’m going insane! If he wants me punished he should send me to one of the punishments I could take those better than this! I’ll even give him suggestions!”


“Syreilla!” He scowled at her. “This is not a punishment, you’re here with me.”


“Locked in one chamber. That is punishment. I was never the stay in the mine type and this is punishment for us both-”


“This is not-” Vezar tried to stroke her arm and she jerked away snarling at him.


“How can you be happy here when I’m ready to rip my skin off and yours too, you beardless-” Taking a deep breath she barely managed to keep the dwarvish curses in check. 


Vezar’s furious and hurt look didn’t help things. “We have our task Syreilla. You know his reasons for confining you. Only time will ease his concerns. 


“I can ask if we might visit the chamber of sunlight to-”


“I hate that room worse than this one, those people…” Syr shuddered at the memory of peeking in at the vast fields of smiling empty headed people playing in the eternal sunlight.


“You were commanded to remain!” The surprise on his face annoyed her. “If he learns-”


“If he hasn’t caught me in twenty years he isn’t going to.” She gave the half-dragon a flat look. The thought that if he hadn’t agreed to let her out of the chamber in a hundred he wasn’t going to either, crossed her mind bitterly.


“We have our task.” Vezar stalked out sourly and she followed.


Going above to hunt for lich or lost souls was the only thing that brought any real relief from her confinement. She could almost imagine she were free for a moment and putting herself into a task took her mind off of everything else. The task of fetching Lich was always her favorite, she could pick up new tricks and vent her frustrations. 


°°°°°°°°°°

 

Returning with their prey as Vezar still called them, Syreilla finally balked at crossing the threshold. The thought that she would never be allowed any kind of freedom but what she had on these hunting trips had been gnawing at the back of her mind like a frantic rat.


“Vezar… I can’t. I can’t go back in there one more time. I am losing my mind and making us both miserable.”


“You have no choice, Syreilla. We serve.” He looked at her with something close to exhaustion in his eyes, “Would it be easier for you if I-if I asked the Divinity to grant me a different form?”


“This has nothing to do with your form. You are beautiful. Even when I’m screaming dwarvish curses at you.” She saw his lips twist bitterly. “I was never the stay in the mine type. And this… this isn’t even a mine, this is a prison. I can’t walk back into it one more time, Vezar. I’ll serve if he calls on me but I won’t go back in.” Sitting heavily outside the entrance she shook her head. “I’m sorry.”


The half-dragon ushered the former lich and a pair of helpless lost and lingering souls inside wordlessly. When his back disappeared into the blackness she rose and started walking. Vezar opened the doors but she was sure she could find the back door he’d once mentioned that opened into a garden. Where she would go and what she would do from there… 


Her heart felt lighter at the thought of being able to go anywhere she wanted, do anything she wanted. Being a thief was what she was to her core and to be able to return to that was a relief. Syr wanted badly to see Hammersworn again, but that might get confusing for everyone involved, she could get close enough to ask though.


“I cannot let you leave me, Syreilla,” Vezar’s agonized whisper came from behind her.


“I’m making you as miserable as I am locked-” She stopped, seeing who stood next to him in the entrance; Hevtos with his face set in its perpetual unhappiness. The ground under her feet was moving, drawing her back, in her reverie she hadn’t realized she wasn’t making as much progress as she should be. The feeling of her hopes being dashed was like razors scoring her soul. “I know you don’t want me here, Uncle Hevtos. Let me leave.”


“You swore to serve.” His voice was the closing of a crypt.


“I will still serve if you require it, but I can’t go back in there one more time. I’m losing my mind locked away like that.”


“I have not punished you for defying me, sneaking into places you should not be when Vezar is occupied. You are not so confined.” Hevtos’ gold-flecked gaze was as piercing as an elvish blade.


“I go enviously watch other people be punished because their punishments seem so much lighter than mine.” Snapping at Hevtos was ill-advised but she couldn’t stop herself.


To her surprise, it looked like the god smiled faintly. “Perhaps I should put you to better use. You were a thief once?”


Syreilla stared at him for a moment before approaching him. “Don’t toy with me, Uncle. You let me be a thief again and I’ll find a way to steal the sun out of the sky if you ask me to.”


“There are places you may not steal from,” Vezar reminded her with consternation.


“Imos hasn’t sent anyone to ask me anything at all about securing his temples, I could argue that the promise only extends to Syreilla Hammersworn.” She gave Vezar a tilt of her head and a half-smile.


“You will keep your word fully.” Hevtos definitely smiled for the briefest of moments. “You promised only to no longer plunder his temples?”


“Caught that did you?” She gave him a broad grin. “Tell me what you want fetched and I’ll bring it to you.”


“The older gods, all save two, each have a stone that resonates with their power, a jewel to give to their priests to perform the occasional miracle.” His gold flecked gaze was hungry. “I require as many as you can bring me, all if you can.”


She rocked on her heels and took in a breath feeling like she’d been underwater for too long and had finally come up for air. Launching herself at him, she hugged Hevtos and squealed with joy. Releasing the stiff and still god she sprang toward Vezar who caught her and looked at her as if she were mad as she bounced and grinned madly at him. 


Calming after a moment, she looked at the bemused god and asked, “Can I borrow Vezar? I’m going to need some help and he has some potential.”


“You may summon him when you require him, but he cannot roam at will without attracting a great deal of attention. Those of my line are watched carefully. You, they have long expected to abandon me.”


“I can promise you Master Odos hasn’t expected that. He knows me.” 


“They hold him in low esteem. They will not listen if he speaks.” Hevtos’ face was no longer quite as unhappy.


Studying Hevtos’ face she asked, “How likely would he be to help me? I’m good, but he’s the best.”


“I need you to bring me his as well.” His lips curved as if she’d asked if she should knock on doors and politely inquire after the jewels.


“Do something nice for his mother with it and I think he’d give it to you.” Syr shrugged. “But… I’ve never been religious so I need to know who the gods are and what they do. That was why I wanted Vezar, that and the fact I like his face.” She gave the half-dragon an impish smile and he blinked.


“We will both assist you in your planning.” Hevtos gestured and Syr allowed herself to be taken back down. It felt different this time knowing she could leave, knowing she would leave and that she had a purpose of her own.


“I had not truly believed you, Syreilla. That you were not angry with me, you were simply unhappy here.” Vezar followed after her in the few moments they had while Hevtos was preparing and organizing her education and her new tools.


“I adore you, Vezar. You can be difficult but you’re a kitten compared to me.” She teased him, taking his hand and backing toward their chamber.


“A kitten? Has it been so long since I let you feel the teeth of a dragon on your perfect skin?” His golden brown eyes were alight with excitement.


“It’s been so long I can’t remember the last time you said I had a perfect anything.” Syr bumped into a wall and he pinned her, kissing her roughly and letting her feel his claws through her clothes. She moaned helplessly against his mouth and when he broke the kiss she nipped at his lips. “I think I need you to take an inventory with those teeth and claws, Vezar Edra.”


“Immediately,” he murmured eagerly. “Do you remember the first time? When you thought you would not be able to walk in the days after?”


Her face flushed, “Do that again?”


“We may not have time for me to be as thorough, my golden treasure.” The feeling of his claws shredding her clothing made her desire burn.


“Your treasure needs her dragon on top of her,” Syreilla purred, making his breath catch.


“Had I known thievery would bring the life and joy back into you I would have been begging him to let you work.” Vezar lifted her and carried her quickly back into their chamber, laying her on the large bed.


“How could you forget how much I live for the challenge?” She kissed his throat before he pulled back and stripped himself.


His soft scaled skin against hers had felt strange at first, but she had learned to love it. The ridges of his face weren’t the only ridges on his body and the feeling of them under his skin, especially in intimate places made her toes curl.


“Things changed after…” He paused his urgent rubbing against her, “Did they change?”


“Some did, you are the one I want and I like the feeling of your skin better than-” The fierce kiss that cut her off was coupled with the pressing of his claws into her back making her arch away from the bed and against him. 


“You were not going to the mine?” Vezar breathed, pushing himself between her thighs and rubbing against her, making her writhe.


“I wanted to see Syreilla Hammersworn, or at least to know how she is, what she’s been doing.” Syr could feel the way he was peering at her threads and she opened herself, letting him see how badly she needed to feel free and whole. It had been decades since he’d last tried to look, her fury and frustration had been too much for him to see past.


“I would have you whole, Syreilla. But I will not risk you choosing him over me.” The demanding way he kissed and bit her neck and shoulder as he worked his large, ridged member inside made her whimper and moan loudly. “I will make you beg for me before I allow you to go, Syreilla.”


“Yes, Vezar, please, I want you to.” The way he moved was a marvel, powerful and controlled, but his ever moving hands and hungry mouth were what pushed her over the edge each time.


“My perfect Syreilla.” His too wide grin as he brought her panting to release was something she hadn’t seen in far too long.



© 2021 Isemay


Author's Note

Isemay
I may have fixed the opening info-dump issue. Still deciding if I like this version.

My Review

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You write well—better than the vast majority on this site. But the outside-in, “let me tell you a story,” approach you’re using is, as it always does, getting in the way of clarity and reader involvement. And since it's the kind of hig that's invisible to the author, I thought you'd want to know.

• It wasn’t as if she held any real hostility for Hevtos, after hearing how both he and Zyulla had been punished for so long,

Here, instead of opening with story, you begin with an info-dump of backstory for which the reader lacks context. Apparently, an unknown “she” doesn’t dislike someone unknown named Hevtos, after learning that he and another unknown named Zyulla were in some unknown way punished, for unknown reason, for what she views as a long time—though it could be hours, days, or eons. No way to tell. Nor is there a way to know if she disliked him before hearing it of the punishment, and if so, why.

In short, there is a course of study the reader must undergo before reading page one. Apparently, this is book two, but that’s irrelevant. On entering any scene, the reader must be provided with context for where and when they are, what’s going on, an whose skin they wear. Fail that and they have words but no meaning.

• Syreilla couldn’t blame her uncle for being so surprised by and highly suspicious of her arrival with Vezar.

The reader has no way of knowing if this is the “she” of the first line or a new unknown. You know. Those in the story know. But who did you write this for? Shouldn't they know? But...swap the name and the “she” and it makes sense, in context.

In the first five paragraphs, 410 words, or more then the first two standard manuscript pages, not a damn thing happens. Instead, the narrator lectures the reader on things irrelevant to the first scene. It’s all summation and overview: a history lesson. In short, a guaranteed rejection because people come to you for story, not history. They want to be made to feel falling rain, not read the weather report that says it’s raining.

This chapter works for you because it’s all meaningful to you. You can hear the emotion in the narrator’ voice—your voice. The reader hears only the emotion suggested by punctuation. And the meaning a reader takes is what he words suggest to them, based on their background, not your intent. And, even if the reader read the previous novel, it could have been months ago and they won’t remember the things you know as you read. For you? Every line points to images, events, ideas, and story, all stored in your mind.

For the reader, who just arrived? Every line points to images, events, ideas, and story, all stored in *YOUR* mind. But without you there to clarify when it's read…

• She saw his lips twist bitterly.

This is a perfect example of the problem with he outside-in approach. She’s not seeing and reacting. You, someone not on the scene or in the story are intruding to tell the reader that she "saw" it. So there you are, standing next to her, yet she doesn’t turn to you to ask who you are, and who you’re talking to, about her. How can that seem real?

Had we been placed into HER viewpoint, within the moment she calls "now,", SHE would notice it and react. It might be presented with something like:

“You are beautiful. Even when I’m screaming obscenities at you.” In response to his twisted lip response, she added, “I’ve never been the, stay in the mine type.”

The thing we pretty much all miss is that the skill we learned in school called “writing” is NOT the skill pointed to by that word in the name of the profession we call, Fiction-Writing. Not even close. In school our writing assignments were primarily reports and essays—nonfiction applications whose goal is to inform. Its techniques are fact-based and author-centric—the approach you use here. But because we can’t hear, or know how you would perform, the narrtor’s voice we hear is inherently dispassionate. Moreover, because you begin reading with full knowledge of the scene, the characters and situation, and the objective, you’ll leave out detail the reader requires, and never notice the loss. Another term for nonfiction is "telling." Another word for presenting viewpoint is "showing." That's why you'll so oten here, "Show, don't tell."

Fiction’s goal is to provide an emotional experience, which takes an entirely different approach—emotion-based and character-centric. But how much time did your teachers spend on that? How much on the elements of a scene on the page and why it's so different from one on the screen? Did they even mention that a scene ends in disaster for the protagonist, and why?

See the problem? It’s not a matter of talent, the story, or how well you write. Your wordsmith skills are up to the task, but as Mark Twain put it: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” And that’s what you need to address by adding a few of the skills the pros take for granted to your skill-set.

How the protagonist views the situation, the resources and skills they have, and their perceived needs and imperatives are the mother of their behavior. That raises the question: Can they be our avatar if our perceptions haven’t been calibrated to what the protagonist sees as real-time? To do that calibrating, however, we need a set of skills unique to the profession.

In school we learned of “point-of-view,” as expressed via the personal pronouns we choose to use. In fiction-writing we talk of POV, but while we might say, “First person POV,” referring to pronoun usage, for the most part, the term refers to presenting the protagonist’s viewpoint, which is independent of the traditional POV definition. And viewpoint is critical to involving the reader, and calibrating that reader’s perceptions.

For how much effect it can have, you might want to read this article:
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/the-grumpy-writing-coach-8/

So…how do you acquire the necessary skills? My suggestion is to begin with the basics, the nuts-and-bolts issues of creating scenes that sing to the reader, and weaving them into an exciting whole. The library’s fiction-writing section can be a huge resource in that. And the site whose URL I provide just below is giving free copies of the best book I’ve found to date on how to do that. The man was the most respected teacher of commercial fiction, when he taught at Oklahoma U. And when he took his workshops on the road he used to fill auditoriums. So grab a copy before they change their mind.
https://ru.b-ok2.org/book/2640776/e749ea

If you want a kind of overview of the issues he covers, you might checks a few of the articles in my WordPress Writing blog.

So dig in. You’ll be glad you did, even though you’ll spend a lot of time saying, “But wait…that’s so…how could I have missed something so obvious?”

Jay Greenstein
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/category/the-craft-of-writing/the-grumpy-old-writing-coach/

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Isemay

4 Months Ago

Thank you for the feedback! I greatly appreciate it! I do get caught in that trap of seeing everythi.. read more



Reviews

You write well—better than the vast majority on this site. But the outside-in, “let me tell you a story,” approach you’re using is, as it always does, getting in the way of clarity and reader involvement. And since it's the kind of hig that's invisible to the author, I thought you'd want to know.

• It wasn’t as if she held any real hostility for Hevtos, after hearing how both he and Zyulla had been punished for so long,

Here, instead of opening with story, you begin with an info-dump of backstory for which the reader lacks context. Apparently, an unknown “she” doesn’t dislike someone unknown named Hevtos, after learning that he and another unknown named Zyulla were in some unknown way punished, for unknown reason, for what she views as a long time—though it could be hours, days, or eons. No way to tell. Nor is there a way to know if she disliked him before hearing it of the punishment, and if so, why.

In short, there is a course of study the reader must undergo before reading page one. Apparently, this is book two, but that’s irrelevant. On entering any scene, the reader must be provided with context for where and when they are, what’s going on, an whose skin they wear. Fail that and they have words but no meaning.

• Syreilla couldn’t blame her uncle for being so surprised by and highly suspicious of her arrival with Vezar.

The reader has no way of knowing if this is the “she” of the first line or a new unknown. You know. Those in the story know. But who did you write this for? Shouldn't they know? But...swap the name and the “she” and it makes sense, in context.

In the first five paragraphs, 410 words, or more then the first two standard manuscript pages, not a damn thing happens. Instead, the narrator lectures the reader on things irrelevant to the first scene. It’s all summation and overview: a history lesson. In short, a guaranteed rejection because people come to you for story, not history. They want to be made to feel falling rain, not read the weather report that says it’s raining.

This chapter works for you because it’s all meaningful to you. You can hear the emotion in the narrator’ voice—your voice. The reader hears only the emotion suggested by punctuation. And the meaning a reader takes is what he words suggest to them, based on their background, not your intent. And, even if the reader read the previous novel, it could have been months ago and they won’t remember the things you know as you read. For you? Every line points to images, events, ideas, and story, all stored in your mind.

For the reader, who just arrived? Every line points to images, events, ideas, and story, all stored in *YOUR* mind. But without you there to clarify when it's read…

• She saw his lips twist bitterly.

This is a perfect example of the problem with he outside-in approach. She’s not seeing and reacting. You, someone not on the scene or in the story are intruding to tell the reader that she "saw" it. So there you are, standing next to her, yet she doesn’t turn to you to ask who you are, and who you’re talking to, about her. How can that seem real?

Had we been placed into HER viewpoint, within the moment she calls "now,", SHE would notice it and react. It might be presented with something like:

“You are beautiful. Even when I’m screaming obscenities at you.” In response to his twisted lip response, she added, “I’ve never been the, stay in the mine type.”

The thing we pretty much all miss is that the skill we learned in school called “writing” is NOT the skill pointed to by that word in the name of the profession we call, Fiction-Writing. Not even close. In school our writing assignments were primarily reports and essays—nonfiction applications whose goal is to inform. Its techniques are fact-based and author-centric—the approach you use here. But because we can’t hear, or know how you would perform, the narrtor’s voice we hear is inherently dispassionate. Moreover, because you begin reading with full knowledge of the scene, the characters and situation, and the objective, you’ll leave out detail the reader requires, and never notice the loss. Another term for nonfiction is "telling." Another word for presenting viewpoint is "showing." That's why you'll so oten here, "Show, don't tell."

Fiction’s goal is to provide an emotional experience, which takes an entirely different approach—emotion-based and character-centric. But how much time did your teachers spend on that? How much on the elements of a scene on the page and why it's so different from one on the screen? Did they even mention that a scene ends in disaster for the protagonist, and why?

See the problem? It’s not a matter of talent, the story, or how well you write. Your wordsmith skills are up to the task, but as Mark Twain put it: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” And that’s what you need to address by adding a few of the skills the pros take for granted to your skill-set.

How the protagonist views the situation, the resources and skills they have, and their perceived needs and imperatives are the mother of their behavior. That raises the question: Can they be our avatar if our perceptions haven’t been calibrated to what the protagonist sees as real-time? To do that calibrating, however, we need a set of skills unique to the profession.

In school we learned of “point-of-view,” as expressed via the personal pronouns we choose to use. In fiction-writing we talk of POV, but while we might say, “First person POV,” referring to pronoun usage, for the most part, the term refers to presenting the protagonist’s viewpoint, which is independent of the traditional POV definition. And viewpoint is critical to involving the reader, and calibrating that reader’s perceptions.

For how much effect it can have, you might want to read this article:
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/the-grumpy-writing-coach-8/

So…how do you acquire the necessary skills? My suggestion is to begin with the basics, the nuts-and-bolts issues of creating scenes that sing to the reader, and weaving them into an exciting whole. The library’s fiction-writing section can be a huge resource in that. And the site whose URL I provide just below is giving free copies of the best book I’ve found to date on how to do that. The man was the most respected teacher of commercial fiction, when he taught at Oklahoma U. And when he took his workshops on the road he used to fill auditoriums. So grab a copy before they change their mind.
https://ru.b-ok2.org/book/2640776/e749ea

If you want a kind of overview of the issues he covers, you might checks a few of the articles in my WordPress Writing blog.

So dig in. You’ll be glad you did, even though you’ll spend a lot of time saying, “But wait…that’s so…how could I have missed something so obvious?”

Jay Greenstein
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/category/the-craft-of-writing/the-grumpy-old-writing-coach/

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Isemay

4 Months Ago

Thank you for the feedback! I greatly appreciate it! I do get caught in that trap of seeing everythi.. read more

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Added on January 29, 2021
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Tags: thief, dwarf, elf, dragon, gods

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