ECCLESIA: Episode Two: "Reverent"

ECCLESIA: Episode Two: "Reverent"

A Chapter by Christoph Poe
"

---I'm sending this out unfinished just to see if it's starting out decent. It's the second chapter to my novel. Be as blunt as you want! If you haven't read the first chapter please view it first

"
ECCLESIA

Episode One: "Reverent"

Three years passed.

I squinted in regret as I twisted the rusty knob. The hinges squealed, and I wished to follow its example. However, I kept my complaints to myself. The grocery shop consumed the majority of my time. I smiled away, though sometimes faint. Mr. Trice was the only employer willing to hire me with my condition, if being Human was truly a disability. Behind the counter I sat, my posture horribly hunched on a backless stool.

"Why are you early?" Mr. Trice's voice naturally sounded as if he spoke in a barrel, deep and scratchy.

Through a crooked window I watched the east sun rise above a line of forest. The west sun would follow it in a short thirty minutes or so, and only then would Mr. Trice flip his sign out front to welcome customers. The stores walls were still cooled from the night's rest with triangular fragments of dew left on the windows where the outside shadows still touched them. The single room smelled of dust as Mr. Trice swept the floors for the first time in weeks. Shelves were embedded into the walls and filled with useless cooking materials. Smaller shelves sat in the center of the store and held the heavier, more bulky items such as large pots and closed buckets of water from the Scarlet River, which rarely sold.

I handed Mr. Trice my full attention. "You ask me that every morning," I mumbled, then yawned.

Mr. Trice continued to sweep the floor. "And you tell me the same thing every morning," he recoiled with a hard swipe to his broom, a cloud of dust rolling down the isle.

"Aye," I rolled my head in his direction. "I once told you."

"You told me what?" his head bounced above the loafs of bread in the back.

I pushed my stool from the counter to demonstrate a playful aggravation: "I once told you why I come in so early!"

"Oh," he echoed. "It must have slipped my mind."

My lips curled: "You'd forget to open shop if it wasn't for me arriving early."

He propped himself on his broom, and in gratitude finished: "That must be why you come in early."

Mr. Trice showed his kindness in so many ways. He teased, and taught me wisdom through stories that I'd often joke with him 'are ancient and irrelevant'. I finished the sweeping as he stocked the shelves, finally replacing the pickled peppers. The shelf had been empty for days; he would rather occupy his time with other duties I guessed.

A knock rattled the glass panes of the door. We both turned: "We're closed," I called. A string of light fell through the crack, the hinges squealing for a second time. Mr. Trice glared at me for forgetting to lock the door.

The stranger called out through the crack: "Excuse me, but I just saw someone walk in."

I handed the broom to Mr. Trice. "The store looks fine. I'll just let him in."

The door opened just before I grabbed the handle. The store brightened to the incoming light, and a tall silhouette rushed past me. "We're supposed to be closed," I explained as I shut the door behind him. "But I can go ahead and get to you."

"I'm grateful," he responded from across the store. "My sister was supposed to pick up some peppers, and she told me there were none available. And I said 'rubbish! They are never out of peppers!'"

I slapped my hand across my mouth, and turned my head towards the window at the foot of the counter, fighting back a grin that could possibly resort to an outburst of laughter.

The stranger stepped past Mr. Trice, and he didn't look for conversation as he normally did. I watched him watch the stranger as if he was a notorious thief of some kind, though the customers tone of voice sounded more than harmless.

"Boy, they're right under your nose!" Mr. Trice thundered.

I sucked my lips in, fighting another grin, and looked up to the ceiling. The stranger laughed. "I've never been good at hide and seek," he said to Mr. Trice.

He came to the counter with the jar in his left hand. His off white shirt rested beneath a brown leather vest, his sleeves unbuttoned and rolled up past his elbows. A satchel of coins clinked as he hurried, and soon he came within full view.

"Will this be--" I cut myself off mid sentence. The pit of my stomach churned in his presence, rising and falling, the pump of my blood thumping in my ears. A terribly crooked smile sat above a sharp jaw line, though I found it highly...appealing, even the washed out brown of his messy hair. He stood a head taller than me, and if given the chance could probably wrap his arms around me twice. I observed him like a carnivore observes her next meal.

He pulled his head back, and spoke out if the corner of his lips: "Is something...wrong?"

"No," I shook my head frantically to counter my rude stare. "No, everything's fine."

I let the time slide awkwardly as I starred with wide eyes at the counter top, incapable of speaking further. He kept to a conversation, however.

"Your hair is my favorite color," his half-cheeky grin pursued. "Do you dye it?"

I shook my head once again, the red filling my cheeks--growing worst once I thought he noticed my blushing. Avoiding his compliment, I stated blandly: "That will be two copper coins."

The ridge of his brow fell down across his unusually grey eyes, the corner of his mouth twisting: "What do you do?"

I tapped my foot in aggravation, though highly fake and not playful. "I'm a clerk."

"No!" he threw his head back in laughter. "I mean 'what do you do'?"

I winced, followed by a hesitant squint. My foot tapped uncontrollably. "I'm Human," I told him as he twisted to reach into his satchel.

"Oh really?" he placed three silver coins on the counter. "Me too."

I inhaled, but did not gasp, due to two facts, one of which his revealing as a Human, and the other, well, I just explained to him:

"Sir, we don't have change for ONE silver coin, much less three."

I didn't even have to look in the change drawer--I knew Mr. Trice kept very little amounts of coins at hand, and in fact this was the poorer side of the village. The coins sat on the counter shimmering in the streams of the early east sun.

He tied his satchel back on his side. "I wasn't looking for change," he said. "Two of them are for you, the other for the peppers."

My jaw dropped; the silver coins were enough to last me a few years without work, if not longer. I shook my head from left to right: "No," I told him as I backed away from the counter. "I can't accept that."

Mr. Trice stood in an isle pretending to be occupied when the stranger might have looked at him, but while the strangers back was turned, his head sat above a row of jars and he shook his head frantically up and down, persuading me to take the coins.

My thoughts kept me from speaking, of whether I should keep the coins as a gift, or force the stranger to take them back.

He said, "Consider them a tip for your kind services." As if I had done anything worth a silver coin in my nineteen years of living, I sensed the humor in his tone, and though I tightened the muscles in my cheeks, another grin grew.

"This is too much!" I shrieked. "I just can't and won't take it."

He placed his rigged hand across the coins. "Well," he began. "Would you work for it?!"

I jerked my neck, my eyebrows indented, and I ultimately assumed the worst. "Excuse me?"

"No," he waved his hands.

"I'll kindly decline your offer," I turned to and handed Mr. Trice an evil glare, expecting him to intervene and ask the stranger to leave. Instead, he ducked beneath the shelves and left me helpless.

"No," the stranger repeated. " My sisters cabin needs cleaning."

Pride prevented me from laughing at myself, and if the customer wasn't a stranger, I probably would have. The tide of anger had yet to completely fall, but I was wrong for assuming that he'd ask to prostitute myself, therefore I felt more obligated to help.

"You can even start on your own time, whenever you feel like it. I don't want to pull you away from here," he further explained. "And keep the coins for early payment."

My hands tightened their grip on the edge of the counter, my feet tapping uncontrollably as I starred into space.

"I'll do it."

"Great!" he threw his hands in the air.

Mr. Trice's head rose slowly above the jars again, his old eyes squinting above a smug grin. I glanced at him, and would have thrown the jar of peppers at him if I could have gotten away with it.

The stranger stuck out his hand. "I'm Kaze."

I smirked, refusing his handshake, but warmly spoke: "I'm Sere."

He pulled his hand back, pausing with a questionable expression. "You're Serenity Avalor?"

"Indeed," I leaned over the counter, and stressed every syllable: "The one and only."

"I'm sorry," he shook his head down. "I shouldn't have mentioned your name like that."

I sat back on the stool, a bit anguished that he recognized my name. "It's quite alright," I said. "But let us not bring any of it up."

"I would never dare," he sympathized. "I think I'll go now."

I nodded, "It was nice meeting you, Kaze."

He nodded back. "My sisters name is Gairy. Ask for her on Tiles Road. The neighbors know her well."

My arms crossed. "I shall."

I watched Kaze's bold walk until he pulled the door through behind him. I leaned into the window as he passed across the front of the store, and into the grey of the morning, he turned at a corner and disappeared. My breath blurred a spot on the glass, and once I realized he was well gone I straightened my back and whipped the glass clean with the palm of my hand.

"Do you think the coins are real?" I asked Mr. Trice.

The three coins slid across the tan counter top, and danced, gravitating through the air towards Mr. Trice. His eyes shrunk in concentration as he held his hand out. The silver coins floated above his palm. "They're real. It costs about five copper coins just to make a fake one, so I doubt he would have given this for just a jar of peppers."

I casually rolled my head, "That makes sense."

A twisting sensation came and went within my stomach. His name just couldn't escape my thoughts: Kaze.

"Why do you think he gave me two?"

The coins dropped in his palm. "Maybe he fancies you?"

My throat gurgled, then I laughed, reaching under the counter for a glass bottle containing a sweet fragrance. "Who says that?" I popped the cork, and poured a few drops of its contents on the wood. Mr. Trice refused to break his omniscient stare.

"Sere," he said calmly. "Why haven't you quit yet?"

"Mr. Trice!" I threw my hands in the air. "No, you need me here."

His head shook shortly and swiftly, his smile still faint. "No, I don't need you here now, and I didn't need you three years ago either." My face began to grow warm of embarrassment, and as he continued my concentration grew to higher levels, the objects resting in my peripheral vision fading. "You're the one who needed me three years ago."

He took my hands and cuffed them in his own. "Ever since your parents died you've been stuck in this shop."

He might have been the only person who mentioned my parents death around me besides my sister and her husband without sending me into instant shock. That night three years ago still felt like yesterday, and despite my struggle to let it go with the wind, my struggle for acceptance, I could not bring myself to comprehend it. The Avalor Massacre, so it was called, made my name infamous. Mr. Trice continued subtly: "You need to get out. You are nineteen years old, and a," he stressed, "beautiful young woman. Why, if I was thirty years younger, I would have fancied you myself."

With swollen eyes, the grip of his weak hands calmed me, but his words were tighter. I coughed followed by a grungy laugh.

"I need you to come visit me from time to time." He shook his head up and down. "Not to come work."

"Thank you."

If I could say anymore, I didn't. I waved to him as I walked out the door.

I refused to look back.

Yellow tipped the west horizon as I moved down a stoneless street, the dust but shallow plumes behind my heels. Freedom encased me, and it shone on high levels. I fought a grin, one that may appear devious and questionable to the onlookers I passed. I wrapped my arms around my chest, and turned my head while passing a jewelry stand; I didn't need charms. The owner sat in the shade under a ripped tarp, his sausage fingers piled on top of his bare belly as he leaned back in his wooden chair. He bathed in greed, so I thought. The chains and charms that hung openly framed him sarcastically well, even as he lazily slept.

A family of six passed me. The children were energetic, and maybe even more mischievous than others as I heard the oldest son speak to the little ones in a quiet tone: "I bet you can't hit pig face with a rock."

I stopped and turned. Was this 'pig face' the man asleep at the jewelry stand?

One of the younger boys grabbed a stone at his feet without hesitance. I'd have called him 'caterpillar' as a nickname if he was mine, his head a fuzzy ball of jet black hair. He threw the rock, and in a blink of an eye, the oldest child vanished, his skin and clothes sinking away into the background of the brown road.

I gasped as it was my first witnessing of a vanisher actually vanish. The ability was highly rare, and unexplainable, and in this child's case a means of escaping a terrible plan to blackmail his younger brothers.

As the rock missed 'pig face', popping and bouncing off a few barrels and crates--thankfully the child had bad aim--I pushed on around the corner. By the time I reached the south side of the village, the west sun hovered above the tree line, an orange orb with a flickering ring of baby blue. Every physical object had two dark sides to their story, two frightening shadows stretched away from the light emitted by both suns. The heat could reach unbearable temperatures during midday when both suns were at their highest points, and most villagers kept indoors. Heat never bothered me as much. No, I hated the cold, and as I bathed in the warmth I thought thankfully that I wouldn't feel a cold day in about seven more years.

I had long passed the last store that marked the beginning of the marketplace, and now ventured through the neighborhoods of cabins stretched across the hilly landscape. A deep and natural green essence filled my nose, reminding me of the many hikes I took with my family years ago. Strips of white--clothes hanging out to dry--fluttered carelessly in many backyards. Wives tended to their children; one approximately four years old darted across the road dragging a string. A second child chased the tip of the string as the mother, standing on a creaking porch, called to them ferociously: "Get back in the yard!"

I steadied myself passed the children, down the gravel road, and until I found a veering trail with a sign--hardly a few pieces of wood--with sloppy words carved: "Tiles Road". I raised a brow in confusion; no road laid before me. My eyes followed the string of broken grass as it disappeared in the shade of a pair of trees, and a neighborhood of small cabins sat near the edge off the forest line.

The wilderness took over from here. Grass, shrubs, and bushes laid scattered around the cabins' foundations. I stepped highly, the grass uncomfortably skimming my knees, searching for any signs of life.

"Hello?" I called loudly.

A tall two story cabin sat near the end. The grass at the bottom appeared tattered and split like the crown of a freshly brushed head of hair. Maybe someone entered the home regularly? Every step I took up the porch stairs creaked. A metal nail bent out of place pressed through the thin soul of my slipper. I rubbed myself uncomfortably when I stopped at the door.

I skimmed the area: to my right a swing hung from the ceiling crooked, one of its chains snapped and dangling over the balcony. To my left sat a pot--it's contents had remained dead for so long that nothing remained at its surface except dirt. Across from the front view of the cabin stood another cabin that would have been identical if it had a second floor.

I turned my head with an outburst of curiosity. Above the door a name stood out: "Indra", and was framed with swirled engravings, probably once beautiful, but now weathered and unkept.

"Hello?" I called with light knocks on the door.

The swift pounding of footsteps within the walls of the Cabin alarmed me, and I backed away. Tempted to flee the premises, I bit my bottom lip nervously, unsure what or who would answer the door. It opened, and snapped still on a silver chain, giving me only a few inches of vision within the cabin.

"Who is it?" The woman's voice rasped as if she just rose from a bed.

With my arms still wrapped tightly around my chest, I moused closer to the door and answered: "I'm Sere Avalore." I swallowed, and paused for a response, but instead I received nothing. "I'm looking for Gairy. If you could just show me where she lives."

The pitch in her voice rose: "Why are you looking for her?" She asked. "Did she do something wrong?"

"No," I said in confusion. "Nothing's wrong. I was sent for work."

"What kind of work were you sent for, Sere?" the woman asked.

I rolled my eyes, aggravated. "I was asked to clean." And felt like adding 'I shouldn't have to explain myself.'

"Did my brother ask you?"

Then, I knew. "Are you Gairy?"

Her voice fell stern: "I asked you if my brother sent you?"

"Yes." I slumped, then threw my head back. "Your brother sent me."

The chain dropped loose as she released the door, but still, she refused to welcome me into her home. "Who is my brother?"

I paused, and nearly walked away. After all, Kaze explained to me that I didn't have to clean if I didn't want too. Plus, the two silver coins still jingled in my pocket.

"Kaze?"

The door mumbled to me, then a dark yellow eye peered through the crack just above the silver chain. "What is his last name, Sere?"

He never gave a last name, so quickly, I glanced at the name above the door. "Indra?" I said while shrugging.

It must have worked, because the chain dropped, and the door opened.

"Did he pay you well?" Gairy asked as I cautiously stepped within the door frame. I handed her a hard glare for being rude, though she'd never know it, because keeping her back turned to me was the reason I glared at her. Dusty light fell through the few windows, and with the only lit candle in Gairy's hand, observing my surroundings became difficult.

I responded to her question nonetheless, and in my own respect told her: "He paid me well enough."

"Good!" she called and turned, giving me nothing but a glimpse of her round cheek. "Because I'm sure it's not enough."

I followed her through the living quarters. A coffee table lit up within view, so I thought a coffee table. It's surface laid smothered beneath old ragged books, wooden cups with mold, and crumpled letters. It might have been rude to ask about the meaning behind her statement, but as we pushed on I made sense of it.

She turned to me swiftly, her copper locks swinging across her neck. Those yellow eyes peered aggressively into mine as me she spoke: "If you're sent to kill me then I suggest you leave."

My body grew warm, and my eyes widened in instant panic. "No," I stumbled over my next words, and could not look her in the eyes. "Your brother explained to me that I could clean for-- for some extra money. I didn't mean to--"

"I hope that's true. Because I'm the reason why the neighborhood is empty."

I screamed in my head, but my body stood still in fear. Then it dawned on me what Kaze meant when he told me: 'the neighbors know her well', in that there were no neighbors.

My head rose and fell in understanding.

"Alright," Gairy's tone fell. "I'll have to trust you. My brother failed to mention that you were coming though, so I'm going to head into town while you stay here."

She handed me the candle stick, bare of a holder. The wax coated my palm as I listened for further instructions.

"There's no need to go into my room," she explained. "The kitchen is right behind you. That's what needs the most improvement."

The candle's light twinkled off the many pots and pans strewn across the counter. The kitchen lacked bordering cabinets across the ceiling, and the counter space appeared to be no longer than the height of a few doors. If I had any ounce of rudeness within me, I would have covered my nose due to the stench of rotting food. Instead, I opened the corner of my mouth to breathe.

"Really, the only bedroom you need to clean is Kaze's. He doesn't live here anymore."

I followed her down the hall.

"Why did he move out?"

Gairy stopped. "You're asking a lot."

A brief moment of anger flew through my nerves, my grip on the candle tightening, despite the fact that I knew it was too much to ask.

She answered anyways: "He moved in with his fiancé."

They shared that same crooked grin. I can't say why she grinned, or what type of reaction she looked for out of me, but it screamed of suspicion coming from her, and lacked all levels of genuineness. I swallowed as she starred. That awkward moment slithered by, creeping, and as her smile faded, I pushed passed her down the hallway.

The woman followed. "There's only stairs at the end of the hallway. My brother's door is on your right."

I was more interested in the small staircase that twisted up into darkness. I took a few more creaking steps. "What up there?" I held my arm up, and the candles light revealed a thin door near the top of the stairs.

Gairy took in a deep breath. "It was my mothers room years ago. It can't be opened."

I pulled the candle down. "I'm sorry," I told her.

The glare on Gairy's eyes rolled. "I hardly knew the woman. I was six when she left. Nothing to apologize about."

"Still," I said. "I'm sorry for asking so many questions."

Her tone became much more strict. "I'll repeat that you don't have to apologize to me, in any situation."

I shook my head: "I'm sor--" I cut myself off. "Alright, I won't."

Gairy sped past me, her feet barreling up the stairs. "Come on. Let me show you."

Gairy's silhouette pulsed across an unknown light source. I eased my steps up the steep steps as a burning aroma filled my nose, and instinct almost forced me to turn back. But the sparks flashed brighter and heavier, and curiosity soon pushed me forward. Two steps below Gairy, I slowly peered around her waist, and gasped.

Gairy hardly took notice as I watched with stunned amazement golden sparks burst from the creases of her hands. She reached for the old brass knob, and attempted to turn it. No clicks or signs of movement came. It remained unmovable.

She then pulled up her right sleeve revealing her shoulder. "You see that scar?" I nodded, seeing the horribly figured burn scar that patched itself across the front of her arm to the backside of her shoulder. "Not even lightening will penetrate this door."

I stood in a frozen state, the candle stick melting into the cracks of my palm. Gairy was the first if not the only person I knew of with such an ability. As if the mysterious door wasn't enough, Gairy's gifts were far more alarming. Non-Human's such as her were surely feared, and then I saw why the neighborhood was abandoned.

"If I can't get into it, then you're not getting in there either."

I squinted my eyes and left her at the top of the stairs, and found a change in subject.

"So you want me to clean the living quarters, the kitchen, and Kaze's old room only?" I asked, fleeing to the front door.

Gairy followed suit. "Yes," she stepped lightly. "That's it, really. Will you start today?"

I opened the door, the pit of my stomach turning more wildly than before. Gairy's eyes shrunk with suspicion, but as I stood in the light of the door, her crooked smile began to grow.

"It was nice meeting you, Sere."

My lips straightened in attempt to smile, but it was hardly genuine. "It was nice meeting you too."

I probably slammed the door, but uncertainty was the the only thing that kept me from going back to apologize. My gut continued to churn due to the many situations throughout the day I had put myself through. Gairy screamed trouble, defiance, and manipulation, though I had no straight evidence for those assumptions. I only thought to myself to be leery of her treachery. I told myself I wouldn't allow her to break me apart in any future situation. I walked in the sufferable heat, the suns nearly crossed in the sky, eclipsed.

I partly forgot about her though as I ventured home through the marketplace. The crowds throughout the streets had died down, and with the sweat beading across my forehead and cheeks, I sought a quick stop by Mr. Trice's store.

I came around the wood rails and onto the deck just to notice the red letters of the sign on the door. They read 'closed'. I eased into the cool dark air of the store, and of course no one was browsing about. It's walls were just as dead as its customers though. Items that once sat on the shelves now overflowed the volumes of crates and boxes.

"Mr. Trice!" I called. "Are you here?"

"The sign says 'CLOSED'!" he yelled from the back.

I shook my head again, and again. "Then you should have locked the door."

"Is that Sere?" his voice echoed.

"What are you doing?" I shrieked. "Are you closing the store down?!"

Glass shattered, and he swore words I'd often heard come from his lips. "Yes, I'm closing the store."

I approached him swiftly as he picked up the large pieces of glass. With my arms thrown, I asked him simply: "Why?"

His head fell with a subtle breath to follow. He sighed knowing a deep explanation was needed in order for me to understand. "I'm old. I'm tired. I'm weak--"

"That's why I'm here. Even though I left, I'm still coming back to help you run the place."

He sat on a crate, and waved his hand up and down to calm me. "Your place is not here."

He suspiciously grinned: "Serenity Avalore, you are the most gorgeous thing to have ever walked into my store. I had many reasons for allowing you to work with me for so long, but it's time for you to move on. Your place is no longer here."

A moment of wonder filled me through his words: that he considered me gorgeous even though my weaknesses were prominent and noticeable.

Regardless, I begged him: "Please don't close the store. Let me run it by myself."

He shook his head, and came to his feet. "Go home, Sere," he said more strictly. He looked around at the half empty shelves, and I followed his areas of interests. Fresh shapes of pine wood stood out among the dust. I thought to myself how they would disappear within time, and this weak wooden structure would fall ill to the elements and collapse, absorbed back within the dirt. Sentimentally, I struggled to let it go, but I knew just as well as Mr. Trice that it now stood as a pigment of our past.

I swallowed a glob of saliva, and smiled. "I think I can let it go."

He nodded to me. "Now will you help me pack some things?" he asked as if he knew I was about to ask myself.

"I don't mind," I exclaimed. "It's a bit hotter than usual today, so I need to stay indoors for another few hours."

"Ah," he wailed as he held is hand out above the broken glass. "Do you know why?"

I thought for a moment to myself, desperate for an answer to prevent any signs of ignorance. But I shrugged. "I don't know, why?"

The glass shards began to rise from the floor as he continued: "The suns are beginning to eclipse." The tiny fragments danced around each other, levitated effortlessly. "Or you could say they're overlapping."

I squinted my eyes and said "So that makes sense that the heat would increase."

Mr. Trice guided the shards above an empty crate, and with a strong squeeze of his fist they fell victim to gravity and clashed together at the bottom.

I started towards a full shelf as he asked: "Are you attending the Suns Festival?"

"I'm not entirely sure if I'm going."

A jar of peppers starred at me.

"You must go. It only happens once every fifteen years. It's the dawn of a new Surrage," his voice rose excitedly. "I've only witnessed a handful of them. It's a beautiful experience."

Maybe I didn't understand the festival fully. "What kind of experience are we talking about? I've been to many festivals and they're all the same."

The jar of peppers continued to stare at me. Though I listed to Mr. Trice attentively enough to keep him going, Kaze's presence lingered like a bad scar. He failed to mention his engagement, though I also thought it would have been awkward to ask or if he randomly stated the fact.

Mr. Trice stood in awe as he pondered upon his past experiences. "The elements are turned around," he began deeply. "For only a minute, nothing makes sense, and it's as if the definition of life is actually defined without words."

With a confused glare, I instantly grabbed the jaw of peppers and sat them in the corner of a wooden box. Frustration engulfed me in multiple directions.

"I don't understand."

I waited for him to respond, but his stare was potent as if killing off his five senses. "Mr. Trice," I called with no response to follow. "Mr. Trice," my voice rose and he jumped.

"I apologize," he said as he brushed his brow with his sleeve. "You must go, though."

I rolled my eyes, and my sarcasm was a complete miss: "I'll go."

"You may even ask that young man if he wants to go with you."

I jerked my head. "I failed to tell you that he's engaged."

With a devious curl to his lips, he rose his finger and finished: "But he is not married."

I through my arms in the air, shocked. "Mr. Trice!" I yelled. "You're telling me to seek after an engaged man?! You're terrible. I won't do it."

His left shoulder rose then fell. "A little courting never hurt anyone."

"You're an awful person," I joked with a hint of realism.

Then, I turned to nearly clash with a floating jar of peppers. I glared over my shoulder, an eye squinted. "You're a bad influence. You know this right?"


© 2013 Christoph Poe


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Featured Review

Wow. You are very talented, sir. I love this world you have created! I am a huge fantasy fiction fan and have read everything from the "Ice and Fire" series, to the "Hunger Games" trilogy to all the Harry Potter books to the Lorien Legacies. I've also tried my hand at a novel of my own (I have a link to it in my bio if you are interested) AND I have a novel I started to write and then shelved that I recently began to pursue again titled "Human Alien"-- about a girl who is around 16 who is rescued from a dying Planet Earth and taken to another planet (yet unnamed) where she has to learn to adapt to a world very similar but also very foreign from her own. Wild huh? It's almost like my book could be a prequel to yours. Maybe my girl is your girl's great, great, great grandmother or something. LOL.

Anyway, all that is to say that I feel like I have a fairly good grip on the genre and your work here feels like, with just a little tweaking here and there, (and of course, as you freely admit, some hard work on the part of you and your editor on the grammar) it could be a best seller--and then a blockbuster movie! I love the sense of danger and whimsy that you've intertwined. I love that it feels real and raw but that it is clearly a fantasy!! And Sere seems the perfect combination of strong and vulnerable. I also adore the idea of calling your prologue "Episode Zero" and feel it is a perfect enticement to your first chapter.

Now that I have buttered you up, I must forewarn you that I tend to put a lot of my own thoughts into my critiques. What I mean is, at times, I act as an editor and actually go in and attempt to "work on" parts of other writers' pieces when I critique. This is partly because I worked as an assistant editor for a magazine when I lived in the Asheville area for a couple of years, and partly because I had been prior to that, and am now again, a school teacher. It is also probably because I am an "overly controlling b***h"--as my ex-husband still likes to remind me! LOL.

Seriously, though. I know that some writers get offended when people go in and "tinker" with their work. I guess it could be likened to someone trying to parent another person's child. If what I do offends you, please don't be shy. Tell me and I will back off. I am not trying to provoke a fight or hurt your feelings by "messing with" your work. Honestly, I would not do this if I hadn't become totally invested in your work! My only motivation is to try and help you to fully express what you are trying to express. Like I said, I think your work is outstanding!

I concede that I am not in your head and that at times I will get it wrong. That my ideas will not always help to clarify yours and may instead muddle yours. If you like some of what I say and not all, then by all means take what you like and leave the rest. And again, if the way I work seems too invasive, then let me know that, too and I will stop sticking my nose in where it isn't wanted. So. . . yep. . . here goes:

I agree with what some other reviewers have said about feeling a bit confused about Kaze at first (just as a side note, one of the main characters in my book Amethyria is name Kade--again--just kind of a strange coincidence). I got the impression that this "stranger" is menacing and dangerous and I did not get that he is someone that Sere is attracted to. In fact, at first, I was very confused by the carnivore line and didn't fully "get it" until I read on.

Here are my ideas about how you could clarify:

First, I think that saying something more like this:

The stranger stepped past Mr. Trice, and he didn't look for conversation as he normally did. I watched him watch the stranger as if he was some hapless buffoon, shaking his head in dismay as he passed the shelf with the peppers.

This is only a suggestion, obviously, but I think it allows us to better understand Mr. Trice's initial feelings about "the stranger" and takes away the idea that he might be "scary" or "bad" in some way.

I also think that later on when Kaze comes to the counter, it might be better to leave off the line:

"The pit of my stomach churned in his presence, rising and falling, the pump of my blood thumping in my ears."

I thought the stranger must have a huge, ugly scar or some other hideous deformity and then when you mentioned the crooked grin at first I thought it was some "Joker" type thing where his lips had been cut off on one side or something. Your line about it being attractive to her didn't even register during my initial read. I thought for sure he was going to end up pointing a weapon at her or raping her or something. I get what you' were going for--that initial "butterflies" feeling we get when we first feel attracted to someone, but not only does the description you give initially mislead the reader about what Sere is seeing, it also makes us (or at least me) think she is frightened or sickened by it.

Maybe something more like:
A terribly crooked smile sat above a sharp jaw line. I found it highly...appealing. That and something about the the washed out brown of his messy hair made me aware of my heart thumping in my chest (this would tie in nicely to the marriage ceremony in the prologue, too, right? The details of that were WONDER-FULL, btw). He stood a head taller than me, and if given the chance could probably wrap me up in his arms twice over. I scanned his (muscular, lean, tan--whatever works for his character) body now, like a carnivore scans her next meal--sizing him up.

That slight change about wrapping her up rather than wrapping around seems less misleadingly menacing. Also, the subtle alteration to the "carnivore" line might help to let others "in" on the fact that her not answering him about her hair and alternately refusing and accepting the money as being attempts that Sere is making at alternately asserting herself then being coy as kind of flirting. I saw them all as great signs of her attraction later--after--I figured out that was what was happening beforehand, but they may be lost on some due to their initial confusion about Sere's feelings.

What else? Oh, I know some disagree, but I think you did a great job showing why Mr. Trice "fired" Sere and I think you handled it with just enough explanation. Any more might be overkill IMHO--although I agree with whoever said the thing about the silvers and the coppers. It did seem like he paid a few thousand bucks for the peppers. I'm sure that is easy enough to fix, though--and I will not try and do that for you since I worry I've already overstepped.

Again, I can only hope that you will see the fact that I have taken "liberties" with your work as the compliment it is meant to be. In some ways, I feel I may be a better editor than I am a writer and it is really exciting to find someone's work I feel so compelled to continue to read and "work on" if you are open to that. I am not looking to take any credit for anything or to take over your project. This is just the way I feel I best critique. If it doesn't feel right to you, I will pull it back and make my critiques more generic from here on out. Perhaps you prefer to remain a "single parent". LOL

Whatever your reaction, I just want to say again how outstanding I think your work is!!!

Posted 10 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Christoph Poe

10 Years Ago

Damn! Keep going. Seriously. Haha.

This has helped me tremendously. Sometimes it's dif.. read more
aria

10 Years Ago

LOL. I was just kidding about merging our two books. This thing I'm working on is really more a sci-.. read more
Christoph Poe

10 Years Ago

Thank you again. I'll be sure to remind you once I finish this episode. I have, eh, 1,000 more words.. read more



Reviews

Great use of dialogue in this piece as well as pacing the dialogue with narrative breaks letting the protagonist tell story. loved the way she was disarmed by Kaze. Also found the vanishers fascinating. And that's exactly what some kids would do, tossing rocks at people. Well done.

Posted 10 Years Ago


Christoph Poe

10 Years Ago

Thank you kindly! I'm glad to hear you're comprehending things well. I've tried making this story se.. read more
I just really want to read more. I am so used to reading a book and being able to know what comes next because that's an option. But that's a good thing. Your story is interesting and has me hooked. No, I don't understand everything but if I did then why would you continue to write more of this book and more importantly why would I continue to read. Sere's parents have obviously died and yes I want to know what happened but I guess that is something that you will explain in much more detail later in another episode. You can't give all the information away so early, a story has to unfold as it progresses so I think it is progressing nicely. Keep writing and promise me that you will publish this as a whole book.

Posted 10 Years Ago


Christoph Poe

10 Years Ago

How did I miss this? Haha.

I'm sorry I don't have more written. :/ I am actually in th.. read more
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Sam
Wow... I have read some fantasy books here and there but none can compare to this world you have created with such details. I felt as if I were standing with every character. You had me hanging on every line as I needed to read more. Now I hit the end and I guess I will wait for more.
Hoping the wait won't be to long. But whatever time I have to wait will be worth it. I cannot wait to see how it ends. Definitely deserves to be bound between two covers. A timeless story for ages to come. At least that is what I think. Thank you for sharing.

Posted 10 Years Ago


Christoph Poe

10 Years Ago

Thank you again! Lol. (I'm sure you tired of hearing that.) I certainly hope it's novel worthy, and .. read more
Sam

10 Years Ago

Like to told me but your heart and soul in it and just let it be. Your imagination transcends any th.. read more
Sam

10 Years Ago

^^^ put your heart and soul in it.
I love this story. So many unanswered questions. Great opening chapter. A ton of questions are unanswered and that is the way it should be. It leaves me wanting more. This is a book I would buy.

Posted 10 Years Ago


Wow! This chapter was full of new details about Serenity's life. First, her parents are dead. Second, people is scared of her last name. She seems alone and when Gairy kept asking her if she was there to kill her, it made me think that there is more that we don't know and I can't wait to find out what it is. She's human so no powers..I love your way to describe Sere's surroundings. Can't wait for more..

Posted 10 Years Ago


Christoph Poe

10 Years Ago

Thank you kindly! I'm happy that you're enjoying it and questions are being raised. :) Maybe you can.. read more
Riding the Rainbow

10 Years Ago

;))) Plz check on my stories too and me some love;))
This is a really interesting story! I really like how you established a new world and very captivating characters and places. I also think that Sere is a very interesting character that has a good amount of layers to her. However, there are a few things that I want to discuss.

For starters, I really enjoyed the flow of the story. Right off the bat, the characters know that this is an alternate universe and that this isn't your typical fantasy story. Also, I like how you present the smallest of nuances to show this (i.e. the notion of being a Human, and the religion). However, I will say that there are certain things that need to be clarified. For example, the whole bit about the blue hair and the human discussion confused me because you never really mentioned what race everyone else is. Secondly, I feel that, unless you're going to do this in the future, the magic and powers and such should also be explained because I got a little confused with this as well. Another thing I had an issue with is the time jump. I think the story would flow a little better if you noted that three years have elapsed in some way shape or form in the beginning of the chapter. All in all, I think that this is a really good foundation for a story, and I will continue to read it as you update it. Keep up the good work!

~Momo

Posted 10 Years Ago


Christoph Poe

10 Years Ago

I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it! As I'm moving on, I'm slowly explaining things. Writing this in fi.. read more
Christoph Poe

10 Years Ago

I've had many complaints about not the time shifts, and I can actually do something about those. Lol.. read more
And Momo Was Loco

10 Years Ago

Lol, it happens! Thank you for clearing those things up for me! Again, keep up the good work!
Wow. You are very talented, sir. I love this world you have created! I am a huge fantasy fiction fan and have read everything from the "Ice and Fire" series, to the "Hunger Games" trilogy to all the Harry Potter books to the Lorien Legacies. I've also tried my hand at a novel of my own (I have a link to it in my bio if you are interested) AND I have a novel I started to write and then shelved that I recently began to pursue again titled "Human Alien"-- about a girl who is around 16 who is rescued from a dying Planet Earth and taken to another planet (yet unnamed) where she has to learn to adapt to a world very similar but also very foreign from her own. Wild huh? It's almost like my book could be a prequel to yours. Maybe my girl is your girl's great, great, great grandmother or something. LOL.

Anyway, all that is to say that I feel like I have a fairly good grip on the genre and your work here feels like, with just a little tweaking here and there, (and of course, as you freely admit, some hard work on the part of you and your editor on the grammar) it could be a best seller--and then a blockbuster movie! I love the sense of danger and whimsy that you've intertwined. I love that it feels real and raw but that it is clearly a fantasy!! And Sere seems the perfect combination of strong and vulnerable. I also adore the idea of calling your prologue "Episode Zero" and feel it is a perfect enticement to your first chapter.

Now that I have buttered you up, I must forewarn you that I tend to put a lot of my own thoughts into my critiques. What I mean is, at times, I act as an editor and actually go in and attempt to "work on" parts of other writers' pieces when I critique. This is partly because I worked as an assistant editor for a magazine when I lived in the Asheville area for a couple of years, and partly because I had been prior to that, and am now again, a school teacher. It is also probably because I am an "overly controlling b***h"--as my ex-husband still likes to remind me! LOL.

Seriously, though. I know that some writers get offended when people go in and "tinker" with their work. I guess it could be likened to someone trying to parent another person's child. If what I do offends you, please don't be shy. Tell me and I will back off. I am not trying to provoke a fight or hurt your feelings by "messing with" your work. Honestly, I would not do this if I hadn't become totally invested in your work! My only motivation is to try and help you to fully express what you are trying to express. Like I said, I think your work is outstanding!

I concede that I am not in your head and that at times I will get it wrong. That my ideas will not always help to clarify yours and may instead muddle yours. If you like some of what I say and not all, then by all means take what you like and leave the rest. And again, if the way I work seems too invasive, then let me know that, too and I will stop sticking my nose in where it isn't wanted. So. . . yep. . . here goes:

I agree with what some other reviewers have said about feeling a bit confused about Kaze at first (just as a side note, one of the main characters in my book Amethyria is name Kade--again--just kind of a strange coincidence). I got the impression that this "stranger" is menacing and dangerous and I did not get that he is someone that Sere is attracted to. In fact, at first, I was very confused by the carnivore line and didn't fully "get it" until I read on.

Here are my ideas about how you could clarify:

First, I think that saying something more like this:

The stranger stepped past Mr. Trice, and he didn't look for conversation as he normally did. I watched him watch the stranger as if he was some hapless buffoon, shaking his head in dismay as he passed the shelf with the peppers.

This is only a suggestion, obviously, but I think it allows us to better understand Mr. Trice's initial feelings about "the stranger" and takes away the idea that he might be "scary" or "bad" in some way.

I also think that later on when Kaze comes to the counter, it might be better to leave off the line:

"The pit of my stomach churned in his presence, rising and falling, the pump of my blood thumping in my ears."

I thought the stranger must have a huge, ugly scar or some other hideous deformity and then when you mentioned the crooked grin at first I thought it was some "Joker" type thing where his lips had been cut off on one side or something. Your line about it being attractive to her didn't even register during my initial read. I thought for sure he was going to end up pointing a weapon at her or raping her or something. I get what you' were going for--that initial "butterflies" feeling we get when we first feel attracted to someone, but not only does the description you give initially mislead the reader about what Sere is seeing, it also makes us (or at least me) think she is frightened or sickened by it.

Maybe something more like:
A terribly crooked smile sat above a sharp jaw line. I found it highly...appealing. That and something about the the washed out brown of his messy hair made me aware of my heart thumping in my chest (this would tie in nicely to the marriage ceremony in the prologue, too, right? The details of that were WONDER-FULL, btw). He stood a head taller than me, and if given the chance could probably wrap me up in his arms twice over. I scanned his (muscular, lean, tan--whatever works for his character) body now, like a carnivore scans her next meal--sizing him up.

That slight change about wrapping her up rather than wrapping around seems less misleadingly menacing. Also, the subtle alteration to the "carnivore" line might help to let others "in" on the fact that her not answering him about her hair and alternately refusing and accepting the money as being attempts that Sere is making at alternately asserting herself then being coy as kind of flirting. I saw them all as great signs of her attraction later--after--I figured out that was what was happening beforehand, but they may be lost on some due to their initial confusion about Sere's feelings.

What else? Oh, I know some disagree, but I think you did a great job showing why Mr. Trice "fired" Sere and I think you handled it with just enough explanation. Any more might be overkill IMHO--although I agree with whoever said the thing about the silvers and the coppers. It did seem like he paid a few thousand bucks for the peppers. I'm sure that is easy enough to fix, though--and I will not try and do that for you since I worry I've already overstepped.

Again, I can only hope that you will see the fact that I have taken "liberties" with your work as the compliment it is meant to be. In some ways, I feel I may be a better editor than I am a writer and it is really exciting to find someone's work I feel so compelled to continue to read and "work on" if you are open to that. I am not looking to take any credit for anything or to take over your project. This is just the way I feel I best critique. If it doesn't feel right to you, I will pull it back and make my critiques more generic from here on out. Perhaps you prefer to remain a "single parent". LOL

Whatever your reaction, I just want to say again how outstanding I think your work is!!!

Posted 10 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Christoph Poe

10 Years Ago

Damn! Keep going. Seriously. Haha.

This has helped me tremendously. Sometimes it's dif.. read more
aria

10 Years Ago

LOL. I was just kidding about merging our two books. This thing I'm working on is really more a sci-.. read more
Christoph Poe

10 Years Ago

Thank you again. I'll be sure to remind you once I finish this episode. I have, eh, 1,000 more words.. read more
This was a very good start to the story. I like how you gave just enough details to keep the reader interested, and leave us curious about what kind of world and abilities these people have. I'm really curious to read more. :)

Posted 10 Years Ago


Christoph Poe

10 Years Ago

I'm glad you liked it! I'll have more uploaded within time if you'd like me to keep you updated? If .. read more
Dark Rider

10 Years Ago

Sure. :) I may be slow reviewing, but I promise to read it as soon as I can. :)
Very interesting. I'm looking forward to more chapters and how this young "human" is going to make it in this world.
You did an excellent job with the first person telling of the story, sometimes the grammar tripped me up as I was reading, but as you had stated it's still a work in progress.
I love the hint dropping of the tragic past it gets the reader wanting to continue to read to find out the mystery.
The only question I have really is why did you choose Ecclesia as the title? just out of curiosity :)

Posted 10 Years Ago


Christoph Poe

10 Years Ago

My grammar is bad. Like very bad. I know a lot of rules but don't catch them all them all. I ignore .. read more
Christoph Poe

10 Years Ago

(IF it ever gets published.)

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21 Reviews
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Shelved in 2 Libraries
Added on July 3, 2013
Last Updated on July 22, 2013
Tags: Gods, god, goddess, love, triangle, romance, siblings, murder, death, episode, power, abilities, religion, countries, medieval, castles


Author

Christoph Poe
Christoph Poe

Tuscaloosa , AL



About
(I got this!) My name is Christoph and I'm from backwoods Alabama. It's really boring here, but the scenery is always gorgeous! I can't complain because its probably this environment that's brough.. more..

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