March 3, 2018 at 1:27 pm #7634
This is the first full-length novel that I am attempting, and I want to make sure it flows well. This is the beginning chapter. Do you like it? If it were in a book, would it intrigue you? Anything I can adjust? I would really appreciate your input.
*The little thing at the beginning is like a pre-chapter in the form of a quote or something. I forgot what those things are called, but they basically come before a chapter and take a page for themselves.
A meeting under a cloak of lightning
By a man with one eye of riches and the other of grass
And a girl with her skin of oak decorated with blood
The month of Iyar has always been known for its terrifying storms. Legends say that it is when God gives all His lesser beings, what you might call angels, free reign over the weather. It is when they are allowed to let loose; show their prowess in weather manipulation.
Over the years, it has become a sort of competition. The beings claim a day in which they are allowed to do their worst.
All in all, it’s quite comical.
This day, however, the storm was unlike anything the world had ever seen. For the intent was different also.
All the angels in the sky banded together to create the storm. It was no longer some petty competition, it was a hindrance. To prevent an ill-fated meeting from ever happening.
The wind howled through snapped trunks of the forest, tearing at the last remaining trees as sleet lashed at the forest floor. Black heavy clouds took over the sky, periodically illuminated by streaks of lightning. Thick darkness claimed the land – overpowering all the senses.
Truly, no one in the right state of mind would be out on such a terrible night.
No one except our two protagonists of course.
Horse hooves rhythmically pounded on drenched grass; an almost hypnotising sound, like the march of battle. Our male protagonist with a mouthful of a name, High Prince Matthew the Third of Herodian, cursed under his breath and he frantically held onto the well-worn reins of his white thoroughbred.
His overbearing but well-meaning sister had advised his normal nightly ride, claiming the sightings of Les Sombres were skyrocketing at an alarming rate, but he had been too bull-headed to listen to her.
Which, he mused over later, was one of the best decisions he had ever made.
If only he knew.
The Herodian Castle came into view – its white marble towers rising through the dim – and he flicked his reins. The action spurred his horse, Mara, to gallop even faster. The thoroughbred was panting, not used to such exerts of energy.
Matthew silently vowed to give her an extra helping of hay and oats when they reached the castle.
The rain made his thick charcoal-coloured hair drench over drooping eyes. It obscured his vision, so naturally, he used one hand to brush it away. Branches tore at his clothes and face as he raced through the trees, leaving faint red scratches.
He hardly noticed them.
Then, without any sort of warning, Mara halted mid-gallop.
Due to the laws of gravity and physics and whatever else you can think of, Matthew almost got thrown off the horse with the sudden stop. Years of practice kept him seated.
“Woah girl, he muttered. “What’s the matter with you?”
Being a horse, Mara did not have the vocal chords capable of sharing her findings, so she whinnied and stomped her foot, hoping the message would be passed across. Fortunately for everyone, it was.
“All right, all right. Let’s see what’s got you all flustered.”
Wincing against the freezing water droplets, Matthew got off his horse and knelt on the ground. Because of the darkness, he couldn’t see his hand in front of his face, which was saying something. Matthew was well known in the kingdom for his pale skin that seemed to emit their own light. Using said hand, he patted the area in front of him.
A scream almost left his throat when he touched an arm.
It felt cold, soft, and – inexplicably – smooth. It trembled beneath his palm, water covering the skin; and something else. Something thicker.
He didn’t want to think about what it could be.
Lightning suddenly flashed in the sky, lighting up the environment for the shortest of moments. In that brief interval, Matthew saw the body that the arm came from. It was a girl: a girl with oak-coloured skin wearing a pale blue dress soaked with rainwater and blood.
She trembled beneath his fingertips. Only God knew how long she had been in that position. Without thinking of the consequences, Matthew leaned over and grabbed her by the waist. Letting out a slow breath, he hoisted her over his shoulder and stood.
A faint shiver ran through him where their skins touched.
Shaking his head slightly, he draped her over the saddle of his horse and climbed on. Mara shifted slightly under the extra weight but made no sound.
Matthew almost jolted at her voice. It was hoarse and scratchy, but he could still hear the melodic undertone to it.
“Don’t worry,” he whispered back, flicking his reins. “Everything is going to be fine.”
Mara and her two riders sped with a newfound vigour towards their destination. Matthew couldn’t focus on the ride, distracted by the figure before him. Another flash of lightning showed him closed eyes that twitched uncontrollably. Mud, blood, and other things covered her face. Her lips moved with silent murmurs.
He wasn’t sure she was going to make it. The thought sent a bolt of pain through him.
Finally, horse, rider, and patient reached the gates of the castle. Matthew barely waited for them to be open before he jumped off his horse, cradling the girl in his arms. He ran to the heavy mahogany doors and pushed them open with all his strength, desperate for reasons he did not know.
“Abbey! Rosaline! Someone help!”
Matthew continued to shout their names like his life depended on it. He laid the girl on the ground and used a handkerchief from his trouser pocket to clean her face and arms.
The blood from the girl’s clothes was already soaking into his riding breeches, and her body trembled even more. Where it came from, he couldn’t tell.
After what felt like aeons, two figures descended the bronze-lidden staircase. One was dressed in a rich gold gown that was tight at the waist then flared to the bottom, barely brushing the wooden floor. The other was dressed in a gown of similar design, but the colour was a cobalt blue.
Upon reaching him and the blood-soaked stranger, the girl in blue screamed.
“Honestly Rosaline,” the one in gold snapped, although she visibly shook. “It’s like you’ve never entered a healer’s tent after a battle before.”
Matthew didn’t tell her that Rosaline, in fact, had not.
The next few moments passed by in a blur. His sister, the girl in gold, had called some servants to help take the girl to a guest room, and “don’t forget to draw her a hot bath!” She instructed another few to find the healer, then sent Rosaline scurrying away to help.
Nothing made much sense to him until a warm hand touched his shoulder.
He looked beside him. His twin came up to his chin, just a few a few centimetres shorter than he, something that had irked her ever since he had his growth spurt. Long glossy ebony hair hung loosely down her back and surrounded her pale face shockingly similar to his. Thick black lashes framed big green eyes which brushed the tips of her high cheekbones when closed.
“Are you hurt?” she asked, concern lacing her tone. “There’s blood all over your clothes.”
He looked down at himself. A shirt that used to be brown was now stained a deep red. “I’m fine Abbey,” he reassured. “It’s all from her.”
Abbey reached her hand up to touch his face. “You’ve been cut.”
He winced at the sting of her touch. “Just scratches from when I was riding.”
At the word riding, her full pink lips tilted down. “You know I told you not to go Matthew.”
He winked at her. “If I hadn’t, that poor girl would have died of hypothermia or blood loss.”
His sister glanced up the stairs where the servants had taken the girl. “Where on earth did you find her?”
Matthew shrugged. “She was on the forest floor. Mara made me stop, and when I knelt I felt her arm.”
Neither twin spoke for a while. Abbey finally broke the silence.
“There’s something strange about her.”
Matthew glanced at her. “What do you mean?”
She hesitated for a moment, then spoke. “Just a feeling. You think she’s fae?”
He shook his head. “The fae are loyal to one another. They wouldn’t just dump one of their kind in the forest to die.”
“But what if she was exiled?”
He didn’t have an answer to that.
Abbey let out a sigh and shook out her hair. “Well, we’ll find out everything later.” If she survives, she thought.
Matthew noted the silent omission and frowned. “I guess we’ll have to wait.”
“Of course. Now, let’s get you out of those wet clothes.”
Thinking about it later, one could ponder if the storm was actually a hindrance or a catalyst to their meeting. It was originally designed to prevent, but it unwittingly aided it.
The heavens rumbled.
March 3, 2018 at 3:07 pm #7638
I really love it! From the second I started reading I instantly loved Matthew. One thing I think it could use is a little bit of a slower pacing. Everything happened so fast, which is maybe what you’re looking for, but I think there could be more suspense built up before and after he finds her.
Also, when he had the conversation with the twins I was a bit confused about who was speaking and whether one of the twins was his sister..?
Overall I think it’s really a great even for the first chapter, and the element about it being a hindrance/catalyst is a really interesting add-on!
March 4, 2018 at 12:13 am #7639
Thanks so much! Yeah, a fast pacing was what I was going for, as I thought it complemented what I was writing about. But now, reading through, I can see it is quite fast. I’ll adjust that a bit. Matthew is quite an intriguing character, and I’m happy you like him!
I didn’t know that this was confusing, but he was only talking to one person – his twin, Abbey. Rosaline was sent off to take care of the mystery girl. I’ll see if I can make it clearer.
And the hindrance/catalyst theme is something I’ve always wanted to add to my writing. Happy you enjoyed it!
March 5, 2018 at 10:13 am #7643
I like it! You, the narrator, have your own voice, and it lends a great deal of charm to the storytelling.
Matthew is a very intriguing character; not to mention the forest girl, and the mystery you have surrounded her with. It all happened so fast, too. You could feel the pounding of Mara’s hooves as she raced through the woods and then stopped, and it was like a jolt. I rather liked it. But some of it happened so fast that I wasn’t sure who was where and doing what until I read it a second time.
YES this is such an intriguing start to your novel and I really can’t wait to read the completed book.
March 16, 2018 at 11:52 am #7671
This is a great start! It really piqued my interest; I love it! I especially like how the character descriptions aren’t unloaded onto the reader in one paragraph; bits and pieces are sprinkled here and there, not to mention, the language you used to describe the characters was really creative. I know it’s already been mentioned, but if you ask me, the only thing I might change is the pacing of it all. Besides that though, you’ve really got something here! I can’t wait to read the finished book!!!!
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