Monday, August 25, 2014


94,000 words
YA Fantasy


The First System of Tigius

The girl’s bloody feet ached, each step resulting in excruciating pain. Her wrists, bound by rope that dug deep into her flesh, lurched forward as the men sped faster, and the girl lost her balance, tumbling onto the jagged gravel. The men pressed on, dragging her through the road and paying no heed to her pleas. Her dress tore, and the stones clawed at her skin, leaving behind rivers of wet, sticky blood. The cloth sack she wore over her face shrouded her vision, but she knew these roads, and the sound of a falling drawbridge and the touch of the cold marble floor only confirmed her suspicions.

“Stand yourself up, wench, and do not bleed in the presence of your king.”

The girl wanted to inform the knight that she had an unfortunate lack of control over when she did and did not bleed, but she held her tongue.

A firm, calloused hand grabbed her throat and cut the bindings around her neck. The sack was pulled off her face, and the hall’s golden light seared at her eyes. The girl looked down at the tattered remains of her clothing and covered herself as best as she could.

“You will bow in the presence of your king,” commanded a cold and sinister voice.

The girl’s knees buckled and smashed against the rock-hard surface as she was thrown to the ground, and a lightning flash of pain drove up her thighs. She whimpered, staring down at the floor.

“Look up and face me, girl.”

Slowly raising her head, she took in her new surroundings. To both of her sides were single rows of black columns that fed from the back of the hall to the front. Behind them stood narrow doors and passageways that undoubtedly branched off into deeper corridors of the castle. Sconces and torches provided little light; it was the giant hanging chandelier that truly illuminated the room. Fashioned completely of white antlers, the fixture held hundreds of candles, each burning brighter than the last.

A blood-red tapestry hung directly ahead of her, the only color in the whole grim place. Sewn in the brightest of yellow threads was a bustling fire; three flames licked upwards with tiny sparks floating above. His Grace had chosen this symbol for his crest as a warning to all; everything can burn, and those who stood in his way would surely do so.

Beneath the huge, flying banner lay the most disgusting seat the girl had ever laid eyes on; the rumors did it no justice. Lining every crevice of the throne were the skulls of dead kings, the rulers of ages past. She could only wonder at the identities of those unfortunate enough to spend eternity under their descendants’ backsides.

King Irsad the Vanquisher was an unmistakably large man. His red hair and beard matched that of his flag, but it was his cold yellow eyes that caught the girl most off-guard. His sausage fingers tapped upon the remains of his ancestors as he silently took her in; it seemed that nothing could escape the burning fire within the king’s yellow eyes. Atop his auburn mane lay a crown lost in a tussle of stringy hair. It was simple, inlaid with three white pearls.

“You know why you are here, girl?”

“I do not.”

“You will refer to our liege as Your Grace.” A warm breath crept upon the back of her neck, and the girl could taste its foul scent. Guards, too numerous to count, filled the hall, swords at the ready.

“I do not…Your Grace.”

“You take me for a fool. Word spreads like rapid-fire throughout my kingdom; there is little I do not know. Tell me, girl, do you wish to overthrow me, or do you merely take pleasure in performing your tricks in the Sylvára Forest?” When she did not answer, the girl’s head flew forward, nearly smacking against the floor. She heard the knight return his weapon to its sheath, the gash in the back of her head staining her white-blonde hair sticky and red.

“I care not for waiting,” the king spoke, “as I am sure you will realize; I urge you to confess sooner, rather than later.” The girl looked up defiantly, her eyes ablaze. She said nothing. The king stood, putting most of his weight on plump arms that hefted him out of the chair, and hobbled a few steps towards her. “Well gentlemen, it seems as though we may have some fun after all.” As he tottered forward, the guard from behind grabbed the girl by both shoulders and hoisted her to her feet. The king was but inches from her face, and their eyes were parallel. She had not noticed until now how unusually short he was.

The king put a sweaty hand to her cheek, and the girl spat in his face, almost instantly feeling the backside of his hand whip across her skin. Her jaw snapped in pain, and she could taste the metallic liquid forming within her mouth. He smacked her again and then reached behind to pull on her hair. Her face wrenched upwards, allowing him to grab hold of her chin, squeezing her cheeks together.

“All you need to do is show me, girl.” His voice was a hoarse whisper. “Move a chair across the room. Tell me the name I think in my head. Take me to see what lies ahead in the future.”

He coughed. The girl could smell the wine on his breath.

“It…it is not that simple, Your Grace. I cannot…command it.” She winced when his grip on her face grew tighter, but she would not cry. She would not cry. She would not cry.

“Then tell me,” he urged, “what provokes it?” His face was crazed, and he did not flinch when blood began to drip from her mouth and onto his hand.

“E…extreme emotions, Your Grace.” His grip tightened. Her lips could barely move. “Joy. Excitement. Anguish. Fear.” She paused. “And anger.” She growled the last word.

It was happening. The power, the fury: it came quick as lightning. The girl no longer felt the bruise on her cheek, the gash on her skull, the rope-scars on her wrists. She was whole again. A low cackle gurgled upwards out of her throat, and she grinned savagely, hoping that her bloodstained teeth made the king’s stomach lurch. The game was reset. The roles had reversed. Now it was her turn to be the terror. Now it was her turn to be the monster. Now it was her turn to be the witch.

In a flash the girl lifted her hands in the air and the king flew backwards, tumbling to the ground. The blood on his hand turned to fire, and in the blink of an eye, it consumed his entire limb. His cries of “Seize her!” and “Help me!” could barely be heard through screams of agony. The nauseating scent of burning flesh quickly filled the room, but the girl did not flinch.

A horde of guards lurched towards her, and she clenched her fists together, hurling the men backwards; they fell to the ground like their burning king.


  1. Your prose is very clear, and it's easy to follow the action.

    One small suggestion would be to break up the descriptions of the castle and the king with more dialog, or perhaps just rearrange things a bit.
    There are four paragraphs from:
    “Look up and face me, girl.”
    “You know why you are here, girl?”

    And there's such urgency to the scene that it's hard to be pulled away from the confrontation.

    Good luck!

  2. There's a lot of tension here already, and you thrust the MC--and the reader--into the situation at once. Sometimes I felt like the character actions didn't make sense. For example, the guard tells her not to bleed in front of the king, but then he gives her a gash on her head. Also, the MC is frightened and dazed, and out of nowhere spits at the king, which I didn't expect from her at all. I wanted to see more of that attitude in the beginning to have that moment make sense for her character.

    Good luck!

  3. The descriptions here are really powerful, and by the end I felt engaged with the scene. I'm sure that the choice of not naming the girl is intentional for reasons explained later, but I felt a little distant from her. I think knowing her name and a little more about her would make me feel more connected. Best of luck to you!


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