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  1. #1
    A. B. England

    Help with darker elements please.

    The following started as a character study, but I'm thinking of inserting it into the novel I'm currently preparing for submission. I think it gives as much insight into my villain as gives depth to a relatively flat secondary character. I first got the idea for this story when I was still a teenager, and am currently working to mature the original. I still find the darker elements of the series a little weak.

    Any and all comments are welcome.

    ************************************************** ******

    Brihanni absently looked out the window as their sled-carriage slanted backward, picking up speed. The driving snow appeared to be falling nearly horizontally before, but now it seemed to fall slightly up. Where were they? They should have appeared before now. Had she lied to Kalie, pushing her to visit her “dying” mother, for nothing? She felt a pang of guilt as she glanced over at her friend, sitting across from her with her feet jammed against the footboard to steady herself.

    How dare Ralic? He spouted so many pretty promises of love, and wealth, and power. And why? To get her to do this and not keep up his end of the bargain? She slid her gloved hand into her pocket and unsheathed the short dagger hidden there to feel the blade. Well, she could sink the blade into her lying lover’s throat as easily as she could press it against Kalie’s.

    An excited commotion exploded outside, and the carriage skidded to a halt. Brihanni bit her tongue against a curse as the razor-edge sliced through her leather gloves, missing her skin by a hair’s breadth, and looked across at Princess Kalie. Curious as always, the other woman was leaning forward to peer out the window. Seeing her opportunity, Brihanni pulled the dagger completely free of its sheath.

    “What’s this?” Kalie asked as Brihanni snaked her arm about the princess’ neck and laid the bare blade against her skin.

    “I’m sorry, Madam,” she whispered fiercely in Kalie’s ear, gripping the woman’s arm as tightly as she could. “But, if you move I will slit your throat.”

    “Why, Bri?” Kalie breathed. “I thought you were my friend.”

    “I am, but I’m an ambitious woman. If you hadn’t taught me how to hide things from that boy of yours, you’d know that by now.” Outside, Borcon’s voice erupted into a primal roar. Another moment and he would be causing complete and total carnage. It was time to show her hand. “Out,” she ordered, keeping hold of Kalie as the woman opened the carriage door and exited, gingerly feeling along the blind decent. “Call to him,” she hissed. “Now,” she added, pressing the point into Kalie’s jaw to punctuate the statement.

    “Borcon!” Kalie screamed, setting Brihanni’s ears to ringing and drawing the Yekaran’s attention immediately.

    “Surrender to us now, Borcon,” Brihanni yelled, “or I’ll kill her.”

    The dragon snarled, literally fuming but unable to produce flame this late in the winter. He roared again, louder than she’d ever heard any dragon bellow before, but he attacked no more of the strange soldiers. Where they wearing fur?

    “It’s nothing personal, Kalie,” Brihanni whispered. “You’re in my way. If you behave and do exactly as you’re told, you’ll be free again once I’m on my own road.”

    * * *

    After what seemed like hours, the company finally reached the shelter of Tembar Proper. She’d be with her beloved Ralic soon, but not before she retrieved some warm, dry clothes. Borcon would attack again if he thought there was even the slightest chance to save his friend, so Brihanni was obliged to ride atop the sled-carriage and press the dagger to Kalie’s throat the whole way. She was soaked and freezing after sitting in the driving snow for just a few minutes let alone the remainder of the trek to Tembar, but it would all be worth it to be queen.

    Once they were inside the gates, the carriage was brought to an abrupt halt and a man in what appeared to be an odd-looking suit of armor modeled after a large bird sprang from the interior. He grabbed Kalie’s slender wrist, wrenched her from the carriage, and held her close at his side. The soldier thrust his hand at Brihanni expectantly, and guessing his desire, she pressed the dagger into his palm. He laid the blade above Kalie’s jugular and turned away without a sound.

    Brihanni climbed down from the carriage and stood well away from the animal-like soldiers, but remained in the courtyard. She’d agreed to deliver Borcon to Ralic, and she wanted to see him chained and secured with her own eyes. The large, ebony Yekaran entered the courtyard, glaring at the man threatening Kalie, but complied in silence. He lay prostrated while the soldiers bound him with heavy chains and locked them into huge rings bolted into the ground. The dragon’s silver eyes never left Kalie.

    Brihanni watched the other woman; sorry building her future required her to betray her friend. The princess stood stock still in the birdman’s arms. Strands of long, blond hair escaped from her hood and blew wildly in the wind, and her breath puffed out in tiny, rapid bursts. Brihanni could tell she was terrified even though her features were schooled into a mask of calm reserve. Why nobles always thought they had to hide their emotions was beyond her.

    The last chain was secured, insuring Borcon was paralyzed from muzzle to tail, and one of the soldiers alerted the birdman. He nodded in acknowledgement as Borcon watched expectantly. In a flash, bright even in the blinding snow, the birdman raked the dagger across Kalie’s throat. The pure, white snow grew scarlet before Brihanni could even manage to gasp. The sound of Borcon’s insane howls drowned out any other sound as Kalie’s body fell to the ground in lifeless slow motion, and dead eyes glared accusingly into Brihanni’s very soul.

  2. #2
    Sheila Dreckman

    Re: Help with darker elements please.

    I am sorry, but the first paragraph makes little sense to me. I think I know what you are saying, but as a reader I should not have to guess. i.e. Brihanni absently looked (do you mean absent-mindedly. It sounds like she was absent as she looked out the window which is not possible) - The driving snow appeared to be falling nearly horizontally before (was it falling nearly horizontally or wasn't it. Before? before what?) Also, I don't understand about the sled-carriage(?) slanting backwards. Are you going up a hill? Just a few comments. I never got further (or is it farther) than the first paragraph.

  3. #3
    Greg Kosson

    Re: Help with darker elements please.

    Yakkers, you've got to work on your writing a bit before submitting. Your characters "yelled" "breathed" "screamed" "whispered."

    It's OK to say "said".

    And way too much internal musing. It's awful to get bogged down in what goes on in characters minds. If we have to listen to them think, it had better be profound in the way it sets the scene, shows us how they're feeling, or reveals something the action cannot.

    I believe the better form is ensure for the use you've made of insure.

    The dark action you wonder about is muffled by all the musing. Strip out 90% of the thinking. Your reader won't care about anything except their actions and it gets in the way.

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