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Old 06-25-2015, 03:24 PM View Post #1 (Link) The Earth's Defence (Title undecided)
Ishearia (Offline)
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Join Date: Apr 2014
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Ok, I feel I should warn you that this is 5479 words long, so it's really quite long and as much as I'd love to get as much feedback as I can, I completely understand if nobody wants to read that much in one go. *sadface*

Still, I'd like to know about certain elements of it. Is the description too long? Did it grab your attention? Did it bore you? Does the dialogue lack conflict? Do I use commas badly? (I think I might do) Would you carry on reading this if it was at the start of a book? And any other comments would be great! This is a first draft so be merciless with it. It needs a bit of mercilessness. Thank you so, so much if you do read this <3

It's possible that there are certain parts of it that don't make logical sense, if this is the case, please point them out to me as I made a few changes to the story whilst writing it and although I think I corrected everything to match, I may have missed bits out. Thank you :3



Prologue

Halfway up the Bigelsee Mountain, at the base of an old yew tree, the source of the Aerning river sprouted into the cold, bitter air. Its clear waters flowed swiftly along an eroded path, heading down a steep incline until, eventually, roaring onto the plains, it began to slow. Here, surrounded by reeds and a much flatter expanse of land, the river mellowed; lilypads appeared and the insects which had, up until this point, avoided the tumultuous flows, made homes to the surrounding plant-life. Nearby, the Aerning ran through the capitol, Anwol, where it was filtered, collected, drunk and lived on in all the clever ways that humans tended to exploit their natural resources. But before this, it split into two paths. One went to Anwol, and the other headed towards the Welchewhen sea in the south. Riding a course through the smaller towns and villages of the continent, it was here that a horse and rider trotted happily along the river's bank, the evening breeze blowing gently against their backs.

Anyone watching the pair could immediately tell how important the rider was, if not from his long, red cloak, the garb of a master in Offensive Magics, or the bronze crown on his head, a symbol of Third-Lord status in the predigious sorceror's school, Drylic Castle, then by the stallion he rode, a white Ienian, bred and raised in the world's horse-rearing capital. His hair was dark and long, hinting at a past curlyness, all but the tips were now straight. On his left hand, he wore a bronze ring encrusted with five precious stones; a ruby, an emerald, a sapphire, an onyx and a moonstone surrounded three words inscribed in tiny writing: 'Drythe Eelwun Clanli.'

Despite his youthful vigour, Drythe wore a wearied expression; his eyes half rested as he forced himself to stay awake. He had not slept properly since he left Drylic castle three days ago and it had been a long journey by land and sea, especially for someone who had not left the castle grounds for fourteen years.

Drylic was housed on an island between the two main continents. A haven for magical creatures of all kinds, it was here that sorceror's trained to become masters of the five magic disciplines. Normally, it took a lifetime to master just one. However, there were exceptions. Drythe was one of them.

He had been discovered practicing magic at seven years old, he hadn't known what he was doing at the time, but it came almost naturally to him. A sorceror from the castle visited his village in the northern continent and told him he was special. Very special, it turned out. He was the youngest sorceror to be discovered in over a hundred years, and his age filled him with potential. Now twenty-one years old, he had already mastered Offensive magics, and held some measure of skill in all the others. He was a prodigy whose affinity with magic was unmatched by all, however, there were still some areas in which he was lacking. And in truth, he did not much care about power for the sake of power. He was simply glad that, despite the wishes of the First-Lord, he was finally outside the castle, doing something that effected the world.

He was headed for Lowbeck, a small village alongside the river Aerning. It was there that he was supposed to find the Aelwellds family. Their daughter, a young lass named Aelwynn, had supposedly been found manipulating air currents. Somehow, Drythe found this unlikely. He did not know her exact age, but she was said to be around five, which would make her the youngest sorceror ever, and a year younger than he had been. Still, it was hard for him not to feel a pang of excitement. If this girl really was a sorceror, her powers would one day be limitless. And if he discovered her, he would become her teacher. He would not allow the First-Lord and his obsession with theoretical knowledge to hold her back. It was one of the reasons he had volunteered for the mission in the first place, much to the disapproval of the First-Lord. It was only due to the council's interference that he had been allowed to go at all. "If she truly is that young," they had said, "then who better to teach her than the youngest sorceror we've had in over a hundred years?"

Drythe brought his eyes towards the horizon; the sun was half-veiled by the hills, leaving an army of stars to occupy the clear, darkened, skies. It would not be long before the moon was the only light to shine upon the cold, grassy landscape. He raised his ringed hand, there was an almost unnoticeable flicker, followed by a pulse, then an explosion of brilliant light that bathed the surrounding area with daylight's touch.

The ring continued to provide light for them as they trotted on; by the time it flickered out, the silhouette of a bridge had appeared up ahead.

When they got closer, they saw a man leaning over the side. He didn't seem too interested in the pair; he didn't even move as they approached, so the sorceror steered right and took a muddied path up the crest of a hill, passing through a narrow gap in the trees. As he entered the forest, the ring began to glow once again.

He wasn't entirely sure where he was, but he was quite sure they were close to the village. He had stayed the night in a place called Parsing, a small collection of houses barely large enough to call itself a hamlet. There, they had told him to follow the river, before walking a muddied path adjacent to a bridge. Over the hill and past the trees, he would find Lowbeck.

"Careful though," they added, "there are some odd folk around that place."

Drythe chuckled.

Odd? The man had clearly never met any Death Scions.

As he moved along the forested path, he pondered on his new found freedom. If he wanted, he could go anywhere now, do anything. He did not have to return to Drylic until he was 'satisfied that the results of his mission were positive to the utmost degree.' Surely, if he were to take a quick stroll around the continent, check that everything was in working order, then it would not be such a bad thing? Afterall, he had heard that the southern coast was particularly beautiful at this time of year. It had once been said that the god's rested by the Welchewhen coast in the summer, so enraptured were they by the beauty of the waters there. He wasn't sure if he believed that, but it would only be a quick stroll to find out.

Drythe was so busy day-dreaming that he almost didn't notice the rustling of a nearby bush. Luckily, his years of training had developed lightning-sharp reflexes and he was just able to leap out of the way, falling from his horse to avoid the behemoth creature that shot out from the clearing, landing by the side of him.

The beast snarled, already half way towards the sorceror. Drythe had only enough time to roll between his stallion's legs, avoiding a giant claw that would easily have sliced him in half.

His horse reared up, propelling a hoof towards the creature's jaw which sent it stumbling backwards; its giant, furry hands clasped at its maw. It stayed still for long enough so as the sorceror recognised what it was.

A werewolf? In this part of the continent?

Whilst it was stunned, he took the opportunity to rechannel his power. The moonstone stopped glowing and a flash of blue light emanated from the sapphire. The ghostly flare moved through the creature, vanishing into its head for a few seconds, before re-appearing and being absorbed back into the ring.

The werewolf fell to the ground, its breathing became heavy and, for a moment, it looked like it had fallen asleep.

The moment passed.

It jumped back to its feet, locked eyes with the sorceror and howled before retreating back into the forest, leaving him to re-light his ring and gallop down the path. He had no intention of awaiting its return.

For the rest of the journey, Drythe wondered about the were-wolf. It had scented his magic and come after him, that was certain. Werewolves lived on a diet of magical creatures. What he found odd was that it had been in this area of the continent. From what Drythe knew about werewolves, and he had learned a lot over the years, they weren't fond of water, and the area around Lowbeck was surrounded by rivers. They would have had to cross water at some point, and only something very tasty on this side, or very threatening on the other, could have made them do that. Possibly a lightning elemental, they were known to appear here at this time of year, and werewolves were scared stiff of lightning. But no, he would have known about something like that. It was more likely that something magic and powerful was around the area, something that appealed to their appetites enough to warrant crossing water. Could it be the girl? If it was, she would have had to do something very impressive. Altering air currents would not cut it. No, he decided, It was probably a unicorn, or some other magical creature. That was more likely. Just a really old unicorn. Either way, where there was one werewolf, there were more. He cast his thoughts aside, but was suddenly much more optimistic about his mission.

Eventually, a large wooden gate came into view; attached to it was a high fence that surrounded Lowbeck's perimeter. Drythe noticed a lightning ward inscribed onto the front gate. Evidently, the villagers had been having wolf problems for awhile now. Long enough to warrant hiring a travelling mage anyway. He was surprised they hadn't reported it to Drylic. Werewolf infestations generally weren't the kind of thing that the council simply ignored, and he had not been told of any werewolf problem in the area.

The stallion charged up to the gate, eager to escape from any possible return of the large, furry one. "Open the gate!" Drythe shouted.

There was a moment of silence, then a nearby bush rustled.

The Ruby on Drythe's ring began to crackle with energy and he shouted once more, "Open it! Now!"

Almost instantly, the sound of wood sliding against wood could be heard from the other side. Wasting no time, the sorceror rushed towards it, his stallion turned, kicked it open with its back legs and charged inside.

Upon entry, the scale of the village was revealed to him. A stone path led up through the middle of the settlement, seperating the two halves of the village. On the right half, a lumber mill leaned against a large house.

That must be the Lord's house.

On the left, a row of small cottages, Drythe counted five, lined up against the path. It was less of a village and more of a lumber camp. Hardly surprising, considering its home in the woods. What surprised him more was that they afford to go to such efforts to protect a mere camp. Surely they were better off just abandoning the place and starting up somewhere else? Afterall, it could hardly be safe during the day. Werewolves were nocturnal creatures, but if the villagers strayed upon a sleeping one, nothing short of a lightning storm would save them.

"Oi," a young man stood by the gate. His frame was bulky and crooked, his hands constantly scratched his hair. "What you think you're doing, running around the woods at night?" he barked.

Drythe had begun inspecting his horse for injuries, "Good boy," he muttered, patting its back. Any other horse would have turned and fled at the sight of that werewolf, but an Ienian was trained to stand its ground, to protect its rider at all costs.

"Oi."

Drythe turned to the villager. "My name's Drythe, I am a Drylician Third-Lord. I have business here, where are the Aelwellds?"

"Well nice to meet you your mightiness," he replied, drily, "my name's Jorge. The Aelwellds?" Jorge's eyes flickered towards the big house, "yeah, I know them. They own the camp. Almost everyone here works for them. What's it to you?"

The sorceror nodded before turning around and walking towards the big house.

"Where you think you're going mate? You ain't got no permission going in there."

Drythe stopped and locked eyes with Jorge, "I don't need permission," he said, then paused. "Exactly how long have you had your werewolf problem?"

The man shrugged. "You're the big, mighty Drylician Lord, surprised you need to ask."

Drythe started walking again.

"Ok, ok," he said, "A few months? I dunno exactly. I've only been here for two days. Sent by the King's council I was. I'm a guardsman."

Jorge certainly didn't look like a guardsman. He was dressed in basic linen clothes and, apart from his build, he didn't seem the type to join up for a life of taking orders and respecting superiors.

"If this problem has been going on for months then why wasn't it reported to Drylic?" Sending a single guardsman from the capital to address a werewolf infestation seemed a bit of an under-reaction, especially when these things were normally sorted out by a legion of Drylician Third-Lords.

Jorge momentarily stopped scratching his head. His eyes stared off into the distance and he sighed. Then went back to scratching his head. "Bastards said we could handle it. There were two of us at first, but other one got killed near that bridge back there. You saw the one? We'd set up camp, didn't want to go through the woods at night, see? Big mistake. Git woke me up with his screams before running off. Don't think he made it very far, ah well, didn't like him anyways. But he attracted their attentions, gave me some time to gather myself before running towards the village, didn't even have time to pick up me sword. Blacked out by these gates. Next thing I know I wake up on the other side. Supposedly that sign thingy on the door kept the wolves off during the night. That's what the sorceror said."

Drythe raised an eyebrow. "There's another sorceror here? Where?"

"Oh, she ain't really a trained sorceror like you, just got some magic in her soul is all. Ain't done no schooling at Drylic. Dunno how she knows so much, being so young. You'd not have reckoned she had it in her."

The sorceror smiled. So his journey had not been a waste of time. He thanked the guard and made his way towards the large house.

"Oi."

Drythe sighed and stopped again. "What?"

"Can't have you waking up the Lord and his family at this hour. Wait until morning. Here, you can sleep in one of the houses. The guy who owned that one died yesterday, so its yours." He pointed towards the house on the far left of the row. "Enjoy your sleep mr high and mighty," he said, before walking off towards one of the other houses.

It had been six hours since his arrival at the camp and Drythe had not slept. It might have been something to do with the difficulties of sleeping in an incredibly uncomfortable bed of straw, which had only recently belonged to a dead man, or the fact that the ceiling was a lot lower than he would have liked, making the room claustrophobic, but it certainly didn't help that the only thing standing between him and a hundred sharp teeth was a ward created by a five year old child with no magical training. It had looked the part, kept the werewolves at bay for the last few months, but whether or not it would actually work when they finally decided to test it was a different matter. He reminded himself to look it over in the morning, but until then, he didn't feel any strong urge to rush outside into the unprotected wilderness.

There was a knock on the crooked wooden door at the front of the house.

Already? But it was still dark outside?

Drythe stooped over to open the door, where he found a young woman with wild, pretty eyes, who would have been taller than him even if he weren't stooping.

"Good morning." There was a gruff quality to her voice that completely contrasted her appearance, "the Lord will see you now," she said, before turning around and walking towards the big house.

Outside, the skies were a few shades lighter than they had been earlier, but he could tell that day was yet to break. He was used to early mornings, at Drylic oversleeping would get you woken up by a bucket of cold water, but not this early. His lack of sleep only made him feel more tired and he yawned repeatedly as they crossed the path.

When they got to the door, the young woman knocked loudly three times, then turned to Drythe. Out here, her eyes seemed to glow in the darkness, almost like a cat, but not quite as bright.

"The Lord will be upstairs in his study, try to be quiet." she said.

Quiet? Your knocking could have woken the dead, he thought.

The door opened, revealing a large hallway in which both sides were identical to each other. A door sat at either side of the room attached to its own set of stairs that climbed up the walls and met on a balcony at the top. There, a pair of bookcases surrounded a third door which led to the Lord's study.

He walked through the entrance, shutting it quietly behind him. Nobody was in the hallway with him, so whoever had opened the door must have quickly left through one of the side exits.

He headed upstairs and tapped on the study door. "Give me a moment," replied a deep, resounding voice. Drythe looked back around the hallway, the bookcases which stood beside him caught his eye, and he began to scan the beautifully bound tomes whilst he waited. To his surprise, he recognised all of the titles, and none of them had anything to do with woodcutting.

The Heptameron, A Basic Guide to Offensive and Defensive Magic, A Basic Guide to Life and Death magic, Interpolation in Spell-Weaving, A Basic Guide to Time Magic, these were not the kinds of books he had expected to find.

The study door opened; Drythe watched an old man with long white hair and a golden cloak poke his head through the doorway and smile at him. "I see you have acquainted yourself with my book collection, did you find anything you like?"

Drythe opened his mouth to reply, but was cut off by the man.

"I know, you must have many questions, which I shall answer in time. Please, come in. Tea?"

Drythe hesitated, he wondered if it was wise to take up the offer of tea from a man whom appeared to have a lot more secrets than was generally deemed acceptable in polite society, but he did love tea. "Yes please," he said.

The study was half-lit by a lantern in the corner of the room. Here, bookcases covered almost every wall, except for at the back where three long, pitch-black windows stood behind the cloaked man, who was pouring tea at his desk. A red carpet lined the floor and gave the room a certain homely quality, but the main feature was a painting stationed just above a bookcase which depicted a rather grizzled looking werewolf with golden rims around his eyes. The werewolf appeared to be dressed in some sort of sorceror's robe, but not a kind that Drythe recognised. It was an odd choice of painting for a man stuck in a camp surrounded by werewolves, but Drythe was not one to judge.

" My name is Dewin," said the old man, "here." Dewin pushed a cup towards the chair opposite him.

Drythe sat down and steadily sipped the tea. It had a familiar, herbal, taste, but he couldn't quite place it.

"Is the tea ok?" said the old man. "I'm afraid it's all we have available, everyone in Lowbeck drinks it, one could say it's a requirement." He smiled.

Drythe replied with a smile of his own, before putting the cup down. "So," he said, "I heard that your daughter has discovered her magic. It is in both of our interests that she recieves an education at Drylic, safe from the werewolf threat."

The old man seemed to wince at this, bringing his cup to his lips and sipping gently before nodding. "Yes, the werewolves outside the camp are a threat to her safety. However, there is a much bigger threat that concerns us all, and the girl is the only one who will, one day, be able to face up to it, but first she must be trained, and that is something we cannot provide for her."

Drythe raised an eyebrow. "What kind of threat? And who's we?"

The man stood up and looked out the window, the early morning sky had brightened enough for the outline of the trees behind the house to be visible. "There is more to this than you have yet realised, I will explain everything, but you should understand that some of the things I tell you will seem disturbing at first, you must promise to wait until I have finished before you react, do you understand?"

The sorceror frowned, hesitating, before saying yes.

"Everybody who lives in Lowbeck is part of the Highback tribe, have you ever heard that name before?"

Drythe shook his head.

"Yes," said the old man, "that's not surprising, then perhaps you have heard of the deigol herb, it is the key ingredient in the tea we drink here."

He had indeed heard of the herb, it was used for a number of things, the most well known of which was suppressing lycanthropy.

Drythe felt his ring begin to crackle with energy, along with his nerves, but he kept true to his promise, quelling the ring's power.

"You are not in any danger here, sorceror, do not worry. We have all developed a resistance to the more bestial side of our nature, as well as trained in magic that you have no access to, you could not hope to best me. Please, relax. More tea?"

Drythe hesitated for a moment, eyeing the window, could he escape? No, it was far too late for that. If he was done for, he was going to enjoy another cup of tea first. "Yes, please," he said.

The old man. No, the werewolf, poured another cup of tea and slid it across the desk towards Drythe.

"All of you are werewolves?" asked the sorceror.

"Yes, but the ones outside the camp aren't our friends anymore than they are yours. Until recently, we were all simply woodcutters who knew magic and drank a lot of tea. Then we found the girl by the river."

"Found? So she's not your daughter?"

"No, nor is she a werewolf. In fact, we've come to the conclusion that she's not anyone's daughter."

"You mean that her parents are dead?"

The werewolf shook his head. "More that she's never had any parents."

"And how did you come to that conclusion?"

The old man began to gaze out of the window again. "A few months ago, we found a baby by the river which we assumed belonged to one of the surrounding villages. We decided to bring her back to the camp and look after her whilst we sent scouts out to look for her parents. The scouts were gone for a week, her scent had led them to the source of the Aerning river."

"Well," said Drythe, "perhaps the river washed any scent of her parents from her. Maybe they were attacked by bandits and decided to give her a chance to survive, it would not be uncommon"

The werewolf sighed and shook his head. "We weren't tracing the scent of her Mother's perfume, sorceror, we were tracing her blood scent. She shares the blood of the river."

Drythe looked at the werewolf doubtfully. "I see," he said, "so is it water that runs through her veins? Or is the river secretly flowing with blood and everybody has yet to notice?"

Again, the werewolf sighed. "You are young, sorceror, you have much to learn. The Aerning river is not the same as all the other rivers, it flows from the heart of the planet. This girl was birthed by the planet, she has a purpose, the planet does not do things for no reason, she was born because she is the only person who can save us from the incoming threat. Her birth was an act of self-preservation."

"What threat?"

"Only the planet knows what is coming, we can but train her and hope. Hope that she will be enough."

"Ok," said Drythe, "you said she was a baby when you found her, but I heard she was 5. We can't train people in magic before they can walk."

"Yes, it was quite extraordinary."

Drythe raised an eyebrow "What was?"

The werewolf sat down and sipped his tea. "When the scouts came back she had grown significantly, by the end of the week she was a child, able to talk and walk and do all the other things you could expect from someone that looked her age. At that point, her accelerated growth seemed to stop, and she began to show signs of a magical nature."

"Like what?"

Someone tapped on the door, three times, then again two more times.

"Come in," called the werewolf.

The door opened and a very normal looking young girl walked into the room.

Her hair was brown and shoulder length, her bright green eyes had a certain possessive quality to them, as if she was reaching into the sorceror's soul.

"Good morning, Aelwynn, have you practiced your basic protectives this morning?"

The girl nodded, before walking over to the sorceror and putting her hand on his arm. She looked into his eyes and, as she closed her eyes, he found his eyes closing too. After a few seconds, she reopened them. Drythe could have sworn he saw her pupils light up for a split second.

"I'm sorry," she said.

Drythe frowned. "Sorry for what?"

She shook her head. "I can't tell you, the planet won't let me."

Drythe frowned. "What do you mean?"

The girl smiled. "The planet knows things that you can't know, not yet. But it's ok, she has great plans for you. You just can't know them yet."

"She?"

The werewolf stood up, day had broken by now and the light danced on the desk around his shadow. "The girl can see things, it's a gift she has, she knew you were coming before we did, it's why we had someone by the gates to let you in. We've been training her to focus her power to see particular things, but until she's mastered that, what she sees can be quite random and at times upsetting for her, as well as for others. She told one of our number something that disturbed him so much he went mad and threw himself to the wolves outside."

"Really?" said the sorceror, "what did she tell him?"

"I'm not sure, and I don't want to know, either. We've taught her what she should and shouldn't say, but some things she can't tell us anyway, apparently the planet won't allow it."

The little girl pulled at Drythe's hand. "When are we going to Drylic? We have to wait for two hours to make sure the wolves are all asleep or we'll get eaten alive. It looks painful, I don't think it would be much fun."

The werewolf laughed. "I think you see my point. When you go, ride until you get to Anwol, don't stop. When the werewolves wake up it should be too late for them to catch you, they won't go near the capital."

The little girl walked over to the werewolf and took his hand. "Goodbye Master Dewin. Thank you for everything, the planet says thank you too, and that she will meet you soon."

The werewolf was taken aback, his mouth opened slightly and his eyes widened, but he quickly regained his composure and turned to Drythe. "I think, then, that this will be the last time we see each other, sorceror. Thank you for being more understanding than most of your kin would."

The werewolf held out a hand, which Drythe took in his own. "It was nice to meet you, Master Dewin."

Aelwynn grabbed the sorceror's arm and started pulling him towards the door, but when they got there he stopped and turned around.

"I like to believe that we make our own destinies," he said, "so, perhaps we will meet again."

The werewolf smiled at him and bowed his head, before turning towards the window.

Drythe shut the door.

It took three days for the pair to arrive at Drylic, in which time the two had begun to bond. Aelwynn had told him all about her life with the HIghbacks, how they had trained her in 'wolf magic,' as she called it, and how the planet had said she needed to learn all the magic in the world for when she was older.

The port was busy and one woman could be heard calling for her daughter.

"Emily! Emily come back here! Stop running or you'll fall!"

Aelwynn stopped and stared at the woman.

"Are you ok?" asked Drythe.

She nodded. "It's just, do I have to be called Aelwynn?"

"Isn't that your name?" he replied.

She shook her head. "That's just the name the wolf-folk gave me. I don't have to be called that now. Besides, you don’t know what it means."

The sorceror looked at her. “And you do?”

“Of course I do, I understand every language, I was born to the planet silly.”

“Ok then,” he said, “what does it mean?”

She sighed. “It means all powerful. I can’t go around calling myself all powerful. Yes, hello there, I’m all powerful, nice to meet you too.”

Drythe smiled. "Ok, well then what would you prefer?"

"Emily," she said immediately, "Emily is a pretty name, I like Emily. Can I be called Emily? Please?"

The sorceror laughed. "Are you sure? There's a lot of other names out there, when we get to the castle I'll find a book of names and we can go through them together. Ok?"

"Ok," she said.

But in truth, she had already seen all the other names, and Emily was still by far the prettiest.
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Old 06-27-2015, 08:01 PM View Post #2 (Link)
Infinity_Man (Offline)
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So I read this piece in bursts, and now I'm going to go over and do a line-by-line. I think having foreknowledge will help me wrap my head around this chapter, even if I do lose some of the initial reactions to reading this piece.

Spoiler:

Originally Posted by Ishearia View Post
Prologue

Halfway up the Bigelsee Mountain, at the base of an old yew tree, the source of the Aerning river sprouted into the cold, bitter air. Its clear waters flowed swiftly along an eroded path, heading down a steep incline until, eventually, roaring onto the plains, This sentence confused me the first time I read it, as "roaring onto the plains" sounds like it finishes the "heading down a steep incline" line. it began to slow. Here, surrounded by reeds and a much flatter expanse of land, the river mellowed; lilypads appeared and the insects which had, up until this point, avoided the tumultuous flows, made homes to the surrounding plant-life. Nearby, the Aerning This also makes it sound as though the Aerning is separate from the pond-like water you just described, so I'm not sure if the Aerning splits off here first and one way becomes a swamp and the other continues the Aerning, or not ran through the capitol, Anwol Generally I like your naming scheme so far in this chapter. Things sound cohesive, like they exist from the same language. I maybe take some offence at the name Emily was given in the small town, but that's neither here nor there since she doesn't keep that name for long., where it was filtered, collected, drunk and lived on Up until this point, I rather like this last description of the Aerning. After this point, though, it feels a bit obtuse. in all the clever ways that humans tended to exploit their natural resources. But before this, it split into two paths. One went to Anwol, and the other headed towards the Welchewhen sea in the south. Riding a course through the smaller towns and villages of the continent, I'm not sure who the subject in this previous clause was, if it's saying the river rides a course through smaller towns and villages, or if it's Drythe and his horse. it was here that a horse and rider trotted happily along the river's bank, the evening breeze blowing gently against their backs.

So first I will say that, yes, I think you overstay your welcome with the descriptions in this chapter--at least, in the first part of it; I don't recall feeling later descriptions bogged the piece down. That said, I think there are some places you can afford to be verbose. My initial reaction to this paragraph was that it didn't serve much purpose, but then once the chapter ends we understand that Emily is the daughter of this river, or some such, so I think I benefit more from understanding that this river is a pretty major river. So I think you could get away with keeping this paragraph largely as is, just with a tightening of language.

Anyone watching the pair I will say that, while not a huge issue and while it makes sense, it bothered me a fair bit that the horse is referred to as equal to a human, because every time you call them "a pair" or refer to them as "they" it made me think someone was travelling with Drythe. could immediately tell how important the rider was, if not from his long, So like I said, you're a bit verbose in your description, and while I think most of it deserves a place to stay, you can cut in small places that tend to be extraneous, such as cutting "long" here. Generally speaking, cloaks are long, so describing a cloak as long can be a bit redundant. And even if the reader imagines a short cloak, is it really that important in the long run? You may lose some control over the reader's imagination, but you'll gain some points for readability. Generally speaking, I remembering there being a lot of descriptions that went "Adjective, Adjective, Noun" so it might be a good idea, in general, to try and cut at least one adjective from those sections. red cloak, the garb of a master in Offensive Magics, or the bronze crown on his head, a symbol of Third-Lord status in the predigious sorceror's school, Drylic Castle, then by the stallion he rode, a white Ienian, bred and raised in the world's horse-rearing capital I think this is generally a good way to establish certain things about Drythe, and it doesn't feel like an intrusive bit of exposition to me, but it bothers me that this is all one sentence. It runs on a bit long and, as a result, gets a bit garbled near the end, and my eyes glaze over before I reach the part about his horse.. His Not technically pronoun ambiguity, but it might do to remind the reader you're talking about Drythe, and not his horse here hair was dark and long, hinting at a past curlyness, all but the tips were now straight. On his left hand, he wore a bronze ring encrusted with five precious stones; a ruby, an emerald, a sapphire, an onyx and a moonstone surrounded three words inscribed in tiny writing: 'Drythe Eelwun Clanli.' So, yes, generally I think this is a good amount of description. There's a small amount of physical description, but I've always found I fill in most of all the blanks of a character anyway, so this doesn't bother me personally. I much prefer knowing some of the things about his status than his physical description, personally.

Despite his youthful vigour, Drythe wore a wearied expression; his eyes half rested as he forced himself to stay awake. He had not slept properly since he left Drylic castle three days ago and it had been a long journey by land and sea, especially for someone who had not left the castle grounds for fourteen years. And this, I think, is all you need to say about Drylic castle. Unfortunately, you then get into this paragraph...

...and from this next paragraph...
Drylic was housed on an island between the two main continents. A haven for magical creatures of all kinds, it was here that sorceror's trained to become masters of the five magic disciplines. Normally, it took a lifetime to master just one. However, there were exceptions. Drythe was one of them.

He had been discovered practicing magic at seven years old, he hadn't known what he was doing at the time, but it came almost naturally to him. A sorceror from the castle visited his village in the northern continent and told him he was special. Very special, it turned out. He was the youngest sorceror to be discovered in over a hundred years, and his age filled him with potential. Now twenty-one years old, he had already mastered Offensive magics, and held some measure of skill in all the others. He was a prodigy whose affinity with magic was unmatched by all, however, there were still some areas in which he was lacking. And in truth, he did not much care about power for the sake of power. He was simply glad that, despite the wishes of the First-Lord, he was finally outside the castle, doing something that effected the world.

He was headed for Lowbeck, a small village alongside the river Aerning. It was there that he was supposed to find the Aelwellds family. Their daughter, a young lass named Aelwynn, had supposedly been found manipulating air currents. Somehow, Drythe found this unlikely. He did not know her exact age, but she was said to be around five, which would make her the youngest sorceror ever, and a year younger than he had been. Still, it was hard for him not to feel a pang of excitement. If this girl really was a sorceror, her powers would one day be limitless. And if he discovered her, he would become her teacher. He would not allow the First-Lord and his obsession with theoretical knowledge to hold her back. It was one of the reasons he had volunteered for the mission in the first place, much to the disapproval of the First-Lord. It was only due to the council's interference that he had been allowed to go at all. "If she truly is that young," they had said, "then who better to teach her than the youngest sorceror we've had in over a hundred years?"
...to here, is one long infodump of exposition. You lost me a bit here, and it'd be a shame if you lost readers this early because, if I recall correctly, you're pretty good about avoiding this kind of thing later in the chapter. These three infodump paragraphs also make the first two (the one describing the river, and the one describing Drythe) feel more like infodumps, and so it's like you've got five just to begin your story, which is a bit too much. So you definitely need to parse these down a bit. Pick the information from here you think is most important (hint: you can get away without telling us most of Drythe's backstory, I think) and figure out what you can hide in the text later (hint: you could probably establish that Drythe is the youngest of his time in centuries when he thinks about Emily and realizes she might beat his record). But ultimately, you really need to parse this down to keep the reader hooked. Outright telling us his objective and his backstory isn't as interesting as letting us figure it out through showing.


Drythe brought his eyes towards the horizon; the sun was half-veiled by the hills, leaving an army of stars to occupy the clear, darkened, skies. It would not be long before the moon was the only light to shine upon the cold, grassy landscape Well... and that army of stars.. He raised his ringed hand, there was an almost unnoticeable flicker, followed by a pulse, then an explosion of brilliant light that bathed the surrounding area with daylight's touch. My first thought was "man, that's quite a bad comma splice." My second thought was, "man, that's probably not healthy for the nocturnal ecosystem" but that's only because I've been pre-planning a story about people who can control night and day, so I've been thinking about these kinds of things

The ring continued to provide light for them as they trotted on; by the time it flickered out This confuses me. Granted, I don't know anything about the magic in this story yet, but if the light flickers out why doesn't Drythe just light it again?, the silhouette silhouettes are specifically shadowed objects that are backlit--meaning something bright is right behind them. You've made it fairly clear that the sun has gone down and there's not a lot of light, so I think you should find a better word. of a bridge had appeared up ahead.

When they got closer, they saw a man leaning over the side. He didn't seem too interested in the pair; he didn't even move as they approached, I am assuming that this is the dead guy that gets mentioned later, right? While I like that little callback, it seems odd to me that there aren't more recognizable signs that he's dead. I'm also not sure if I'm supposed to realize he's a dead guy or not, because "leaning over the side" could mean he's draped over it in a clearly dead way, or he's just leaning over the railing, peacefully watching the water move along. so the sorceror steered right and took a muddied path up the crest of a hill This also confused me--later--because the "so" makes it sound like he's going up this path to avoid the man on the bridge (and, since I didn't realize he was dead, I had no idea why he would try and avoid someone on a bridge) whereas later it's established he was specifically told to go up this path, passing through a narrow gap in the trees. As he entered the forest, the ring began to glow once again. The "forest" also confused me, because you've only described this area as grassland, with no mention of forests or trees. Therefore, this setting seems to come out of no where, in direct contradiction to what you've told me

He wasn't entirely sure where he was, but he was quite sure they were close to the village. He had stayed the night in a place called Parsing, a small collection of houses barely large enough to call itself a hamlet. There, they had told him to follow the river, before walking a muddied path adjacent to a bridge. Over the hill and past the trees, he would find Lowbeck.

"Careful though," they added, "there are some odd folk around that place."

Drythe chuckled.

Odd? The man Who's "the man"? Drythe was referring to a plural group before--"They" told him to be careful, "they" told him to follow a river--so I think this was a disagreement you maybe didn't catch between edits? had clearly never met any Death Scions.

As he moved along the forested path, he pondered on his new found freedom. If he wanted, he could go anywhere now, do anything. He did not have to return to Drylic until he was 'satisfied that the results of his mission were positive to the utmost degree.' Surely, if he were to take a quick stroll around the continent, check that everything was in working order, then it would not be such a bad thing? Afterall, he had heard that the southern coast was particularly beautiful at this time of year. It had once been said that the god's rested by the Welchewhen coast in the summer, so enraptured were they by the beauty of the waters there. He wasn't sure if he believed that, but it would only be a quick stroll to find out. The repetition of "quick stroll" is the only thing I really don't like about this paragraph.

Drythe was so busy day-dreaming that he almost didn't notice the rustling of a nearby bush. Luckily, his years of training had developed lightning-sharp reflexes and he was just able to leap out of the way, falling from his horse to avoid the behemoth creature that shot out from the clearing, landing by the beside of him. My first thought here was "what happened to the horse?" I mean, we find out the horse is fine almost right away, but I have a hard time believing a werewolf described as "behemoth" could clear the horse so perfectly, or would even try to clear the horse (why not take both down?)

The beast snarled, already half way towards the sorceror. Drythe had only enough time to roll between his stallion's legs I think, later, you mention that this horse's breed is meant to stay calm in a fight, but at the time I first read this I found it incredibly hard to believe that the horse would remain so calm that Drythe could crawl under it, after a werewolf jumped clear over it and unseated its rider. I also don't know why the werewolf doesn't make a move on the horse. So right now it feels more like a piece of setting, or a prop, as lifeless as a board of wood, rather than a living animal with a personality, avoiding a giant claw that would easily have sliced him in half.

His horse reared up I'm also confused about the blocking of this scene, but only because I imagined everything happening at the horse's side (since I assume Drythe jumped off the side, rather than the front or back) but now the horse has to turn around to rear and hit the werewolf, and what are Drythe and the werewolf doing while this happens? Just standing still?, propelling a hoof towards the creature's jaw which sent it stumbling backwards; its giant, furry hands clasped at its maw. It stayed still for long enough so as the sorceror recognised what it was.

A werewolf? In this part of the continent? This begins a bit of odd characterization that I don't like about Drythe. You established, earlier, that he's been living in that castle for most of his life--two thirds of it, in fact--and yet he has here, and later on, comments that come across as rather experiential. Him saying "in this part of the continent?" suggests he has a familiarity with the continent, but we know that's not true. Yes, he could be saying this because of his book learning (and, as we learn later, he has a good reason to question why a werewolf is here) but in the now it comes across as out of character, and odd. Since we learn, later, that he knows werewolves prefer to stay away from water, and this place is almost all riverlands, maybe it would be better to change this sentence to reflect that? I.E "A werewolf? This close to water?" or something.

Whilst it was stunned, he took the opportunity to rechannel "re" implies he's doing it again, and since the last time he used his power was to create that light near the start, it's been long enough I think you can just say "channel" his power. The moonstone stopped glowing I'm assuming that the moonstone is the one he used to illuminate his path, and he has to turn that off to use the sapphire (which is a nice magic system that has enough flaws to feel like it's not too powerful) but didn't the moonstone power flicker out? Did he actually light it again? and a flash of blue light emanated from the sapphire. The ghostly flare moved through the creature, vanishing into its head for a few seconds, before re-appearing and being absorbed back into the ring.

The werewolf fell to the ground, its breathing became heavy and, for a moment, it looked like it had fallen asleep.

The moment passed.

It jumped back to its feet, locked eyes with the sorceror and howled before retreating back into the forest, leaving him to re-light his ring and gallop down the path. He had no intention of awaiting its return.

For the rest of the journey, Drythe wondered about the were-wolf This is the only place, as far as I recall, that you hyphenate this word.. It had scented his magic and come after him, that was certain. Werewolves lived on a diet of magical creatures. What he found odd was that it had been in this area of the continent. From what Drythe knew about werewolves, and he had learned a lot over the years, they weren't fond of water, and the area around Lowbeck was surrounded by rivers. They "They" is a bit confusing here, as so far he only has reason to believe there's one werewolf here, right? I mean, at the end of the paragraph he mentions that where there's one there's more, but we haven't gotten there yet, so...? would have had to cross water at some point, and only something very tasty on this side, or very threatening on the other, could have made them do that. Possibly a lightning elemental, they were known to appear here at this time of year, and werewolves were scared stiff of lightning. But no, he would have known about something like that. It was more likely that something magic and powerful was around the area, something that appealed to their appetites enough to warrant crossing water. Could it be the girl? If it was, she would have had to do have done something very impressive. Altering air currents would not cut it. No, he decided, It was probably a unicorn, or some other magical creature. That was more likely. Just a really old unicorn. Either way, where there was one werewolf, there were more. He cast his thoughts aside, but was suddenly much more optimistic about his mission. But why? Where does that optimism come from? All he's learned is that there are werewolves around, and he's decided (wrongly) that it has nothing to do with the girl, so why does it make him more optimistic? Shouldn't it be the opposite?

Eventually, a large wooden gate came into view; attached to it was a high fence that surrounded Lowbeck's perimeter Methinks he'd see the fence first, and then the gate?. Drythe noticed a lightning ward inscribed onto the front gate. This is called filtering. It's where the reader has to experience everything through how the character experiences it, and it creates a bit of distance. It can be used effectively, but usually it just puts a layer between the reader and the text, and you should consider when and where you can avoid filtering. For example, why say "Drythe noticed a lightning ward inscribed onto the front gate" when you could just say "a lightning ward was inscribed onto the front gate" and get the same effect, without the distance that filtering causes? Evidently, the villagers had been having wolf problems for awhile now. Long enough to warrant hiring a travelling mage anyway. He was surprised they hadn't reported it to Drylic. Werewolf infestations generally weren't the kind of thing that the council simply ignored, and he had not been told of any werewolf problem in the area.I think this part is implied

The stallion charged up to the gate, Now, up until this moment, I've felt a pretty leisurely pace throughout the story, mostly because of the long, drawn out exposition (which isn't itself a bad thing). To have the "stallion" suddenly "charging" up to the gate makes me think you're losing something in translation of pacing to actual text. eager to escape from any possible return of the large, furry one. "Open the gate!" Drythe shouted.

There was a moment of silence, then a nearby bush rustled.

The Ruby on Drythe's ring began to crackle with energy and he shouted once more, "Open it! Now!"

Almost instantly, the sound of wood sliding against wood could be heard from the other side. Ambiguity. Other side of what? I assume the gate, but that's not made clear, as the bush and general forest is the last thing you really mentioned as a subject, other than his ring (which I assume isn't making the wood on wood noise) Wasting no time, the sorceror rushed towards it Assuming you mean the gate, didn't he just charge up to it? How can he rush towards it if he's already charged towards it?, his stallion turned, kicked it open with its back legs and charged inside. Kind of a dick move, Drythe. That probably broke the gate. Now it's not going to be able to close, and the werewolf will get in because Drythe couldn't wait the extra five seconds to close the gate?

Upon entry, the scale of the village was revealed to him After this sentence, I have to go through three more before I understand that "the scale" is small. The first time I read this, I ignore a lot of what I read next until I could finish the thought you started here.. A stone path led up through the middle of the settlement, seperating the two halves of the village. On the right half, a lumber mill leaned against a large house.

That must be the Lord's house.

On the left, a row of small cottages, Drythe counted five, lined up against the path. It was less of a village and more of a lumber camp. Hardly surprising, considering its home in the woods. What surprised him more was that they afford to go to such efforts to protect a mere camp. Surely they were better off just abandoning the place and starting up somewhere else? Afterall, it could hardly be safe during the day. Werewolves were nocturnal creatures, but if the villagers strayed upon a sleeping one, nothing short of a lightning storm would save them.

"Oi," a young man stood by the gate. His frame was bulky and crooked, his hands constantly scratched his hair. "What you think you're doing, running around the woods at night?" he barked.

Drythe had begun inspecting his horse for injuries, Period. "Good boy," he muttered, patting its back. Any other horse would have turned and fled at the sight of that werewolf Although, to be fair, it was sort of implied that the horse ran faster than Drythe could control it in order to escape more werewolves..., but an Ienian was trained to stand its ground, to protect its rider at all costs.

Also, I think there are a few necessary action beats that need to be addressed before we can go farther. When did Drythe get off his horse? Did they close the gate behind him? What about that rustling in the bushes outside? No thought is given to that danger at all?

"Oi."

Drythe turned to the villager. "My name's Drythe, I am a Drylician Third-Lord. I have business here, C-c-c-comma splice. where are the Aelwellds?"

"Well nice to meet you your mightiness," he replied, drily, Period. "My name's Jorge. The Aelwellds?" Jorge's eyes flickered towards the big house, "yeah, I know them. They own the camp. Almost everyone here works for them Who doesn't?. What's it to you?"

The sorceror nodded before turning around and walking towards the big house.

"Where you think you're going mate? You ain't got no permission going in there." So, later, Papa Aelwelld tells Drythe that they put a guard (presumably Jorge) next to the gate because they knew he was coming, so why didn't they also tell the guard "hey, let him in as well."

Drythe stopped and locked eyes with Jorge, "I don't need permission," he said, then paused. "Exactly how long have you had your werewolf problem?"

The man shrugged. "You're the big, mighty Drylician Lord, surprised you need to ask."

Drythe started walking again.

"Okay, okay," he said, "A few months? I dunno exactly. I've only been here for two days. Sent by the King's council I was. I'm a guardsman."

Jorge certainly didn't look like a guardsman. He was dressed in basic linen clothes and, apart from his build, he didn't seem the type to join up for a life of taking orders and respecting superiors. And, to be fair, he's not exactly respecting a superior here.

"If this problem has been going on for months then why wasn't it reported to Drylic?" Sending a single guardsman from the capital to address a werewolf infestation seemed a bit of an under-reaction, especially when these things were normally sorted out by a legion of Drylician Third-Lords.

Jorge momentarily stopped scratching his head. His eyes stared off into the distance and he sighed. Then went back to scratching his head. "Bastards said we could handle it. There were two of us at first, but other one got killed near that bridge back there. You saw the one? We'd set up camp, didn't want to go through the woods at night, see? Big mistake. Git woke me up with his screams before running off. Don't think he made it very far Of course he doesn't think he got very far--he just pointed out where his companion died, ah well, didn't like him anyways. But he attracted their attentions, gave me some time to gather myself before running towards the village, didn't even have time to pick up me sword. Blacked out by these gates. Next thing I know I wake up on the other side. Supposedly that sign thingy on the door kept the wolves off during the night But then what was that thing rustling in the bushes before Drythe got inside the gate?. That's what the sorceror said."

Drythe raised an eyebrow. "There's another sorceror here? Where?"

"Oh, she ain't really a trained sorceror like you, just got some magic in her soul is all. Ain't done no schooling at Drylic. Dunno how she knows so much, being so young. You'd not have reckoned she had it in her."

The sorceror smiled. So his journey had not been a waste of time. He thanked the guard and made his way towards the large house.

"Oi."

Drythe sighed and stopped again. "What?"

"Can't have you waking up the Lord and his family at this hour. Wait until morning. Here, you can sleep in one of the houses. The guy who owned that one died yesterday, so its yours." He pointed towards the house on the far left of the row. "Enjoy your sleep mr high and mighty Since this is a name--a mock one, but a name nonetheless--it should be capitalized," he said, before walking off towards one of the other houses. You said there were five cottages here. Jorge lives in one. Let's assume his companion lives in the same one as him. The owner of a second cottage is dead now. That leaves, what, three other cottages that maybe have two adults in there? So that's, maybe, six lumberers? And that's assuming no one but Jorge's companion and the other guy have died and all the cottages are full. Doesn't seem like a very feasible operation.

There's also a time jump here that, despite the transition in the next sentence, I still found a little odd.

It had been six hours since his arrival at the camp and Drythe had not slept. It might have been something to do with the difficulties of sleeping in an incredibly uncomfortable bed of straw, which had only recently belonged to a dead man, or the fact that the ceiling was a lot lower than he would have liked, making the room claustrophobic, but it certainly didn't help that the only thing standing between him and a hundred sharp teeth was a ward created by a five year old child with no magical training. It had looked the part, kept the werewolves at bay for the last few months, but whether or not it would actually work when they finally decided to test it was a different matter Why does he assume they haven't tested it?. He reminded himself to look it over in the morning, but until then, he didn't feel any strong urge to rush outside into the unprotected wilderness.

There was a knock on the crooked wooden door at the front of the house.

Already? But it was still dark outside? Why is this a question?

Drythe stooped over to open the door, where he found a young woman with wild, pretty eyes, who would have been taller than him even if he weren't stooping.

"Good morning." There was a gruff quality to her voice that completely contrasted her appearance, "the Lord will see you now," she said, before turning around and walking towards the big house.

Outside, the skies were a few shades lighter than they had been earlier, but he could tell that day was yet to break. He was used to early mornings, at Drylic oversleeping would get you woken up by a bucket of cold water, but not this early. His lack of sleep only made him feel more tired and he yawned repeatedly as they crossed the path.

When they got to the door, the young woman knocked loudly three times, then turned to Drythe. Out here, her eyes seemed to glow in the darkness, almost like a cat, but not quite as bright.

"The Lord will be upstairs in his study, try to be quiet." she said.

Quiet? Your knocking could have woken the dead, he thought.

The door opened, revealing a large hallway in which both sides were identical to each other. A door sat at either side of the room attached to its own set of stairs that climbed up the walls and met on a balcony at the top. There, a pair of bookcases surrounded a third door which led to the Lord's study. I assume, since Drythe knows this is the Lord's Study, that this is the only room on the second floor, which begs the question to how large this "large house" actually is?

He walked through the entrance, shutting it quietly behind him. Nobody was in the hallway with him, so whoever had opened the door must have quickly left through one of the side exits. I hope this gets chalked up to some sort of magic, because otherwise this feels very odd.

He headed upstairs and tapped on the study door. "Give me a moment," replied a deep, resounding voice. Drythe looked back around the hallway, the bookcases which stood beside him caught his eye, and he began to scan the beautifully bound tomes whilst he waited. To his surprise, he recognised all of the titles, and none of them had anything to do with woodcutting.

The Heptameron, A Basic Guide to Offensive and Defensive Magic, A Basic Guide to Life and Death magic, Interpolation in Spell-Weaving, A Basic Guide to Time Magic, these were not the kinds of books he had expected to find.

The study door opened; Drythe watched An old man with long white hair and a golden cloak poked his head through the doorway and smiled at him Another example of how to cut filtering from your writing. "I see you have acquainted yourself with my book collection, did you find anything you like?"

Drythe opened his mouth to reply, but was cut off by the man.

"I know, you must have many questions, which I shall answer in time. Please, come in. Tea?"

Drythe hesitated, he wondered if it was wise to take up the offer of tea from a man whom appeared to have a lot more secrets than was generally deemed acceptable in polite society I think Drythe is mistaking secrets for knowledge he's reasonably lacking, and that makes me think he's kind of an idiot., but he did love tea. "Yes please," he said.

The study was half-lit by a lantern in the corner of the room. Here, bookcases covered almost every wall, except for at the back where three long, pitch-black windows stood behind the cloaked man, who was pouring tea at his desk. A red carpet lined the floor and gave the room a certain homely quality, but the main feature was a painting stationed just above a bookcase which depicted a rather grizzled looking werewolf with golden rims around his eyes. The werewolf appeared to be dressed in some sort of sorceror's robe, but not a kind that Drythe recognised The image that springs to mind is fairly comical. Not sure if that's what you're going for, but that's what is.. It was an odd choice of painting for a man stuck in a camp surrounded by werewolves, but Drythe was not one to judge.

" My name is Dewin," said the old man, "here." Dewin pushed a cup towards the chair opposite him.
I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but you should look up the guide here on how to format punctuation in dialogue, because you've been doing it wrong most of the time.

Drythe sat down and steadily sipped the tea. It had a familiar, herbal, taste, but he couldn't quite place it.

"Is the tea okay?" said the old man. "I'm afraid it's all we have available, everyone in Lowbeck drinks it, one could say it's a requirement." He smiled.

Drythe replied with a smile of his own, before putting the cup down. "So," he said, "I heard that your daughter has discovered her magic. It is in both of our interests that she recieves an education at Drylic, safe from the werewolf threat."
This comes across as pretty curt, and upfront of Drythe. Maybe that's the point, but the fact that, other than "yes please" these are the first words he says to Dewin, it makes him seem rather rude.

The old man seemed to wince at this, bringing his cup to his lips and sipping gently before nodding. "Yes, the werewolves outside the camp are a threat to her safety. However, there is a much bigger threat that concerns us all, and the girl is the only one who will, one day, be able to face up to it, but first she must be trained, and that is something we cannot provide for her."

Drythe raised an eyebrow. "What kind of threat? And who's we?"

The man stood up and looked out the window, the early morning sky had brightened enough for the outline of the trees behind the house to be visible. "There is more to this than you have yet realised, I will explain everything, but you should understand that some of the things I tell you will seem disturbing at first, you must promise to wait until I have finished before you react, do you understand? You've also been very bad about comma splices this whole time, but this instance has to be one of the worst examples. This shouldn't all be one sentence."

The sorceror frowned, hesitating, before saying yes.

"Everybody who lives in Lowbeck is part of the Highback tribe, have you ever heard that name before?"

Drythe shook his head.

"Yes," said the old man, "that's not surprising, then perhaps you have heard of the deigol herb, it is the key ingredient in the tea we drink here." Seriously, does Dewin just speak in comma splices?

He had indeed heard of the herb, it was used for a number of things, the most well known of which was suppressing lycanthropy.

Drythe felt his ring begin to crackle with energy, along with his nerves, but he kept true to his promise, quelling the ring's power.

"You are not in any danger here, sorceror, do not worry. We have all developed a resistance to the more bestial side of our nature, as well as trained in magic that you have no access to, you could not hope to best me. Please, relax. More tea?"

Drythe hesitated for a moment, eyeing the window, could he escape? No, it was far too late for that. If he was done for, he was going to enjoy another cup of tea first. "Yes, please," he said.

The old man. No, the werewolf, poured another cup of tea and slid it across the desk towards Drythe.

"All of you are werewolves?" asked the sorceror.

"Yes, but the ones outside the camp aren't our friends anymore than they are yours. Until recently, we were all simply woodcutters who knew magic and drank a lot of tea. Then we found the girl by the river."

"Found? So she's not your daughter?"

"No, nor is she a werewolf. In fact, we've come to the conclusion that she's not anyone's daughter."

"You mean that her parents are dead?"

The werewolf shook his head. "More that she's never had any parents."

"And how did you come to that conclusion?"

The old man began to gaze out of the window again. "A few months ago, we found a baby by the river which we assumed belonged to one of the surrounding villages. We decided to bring her back to the camp and look after her whilst we sent scouts out to look for her parents. The scouts were gone for a week, her scent had led them to the source of the Aerning river."

"Well," said Drythe, "perhaps the river washed any scent of her parents from her. Maybe they were attacked by bandits and decided to give her a chance to survive, it would not be uncommon"

The werewolf sighed and shook his head. "We weren't tracing the scent of her Mother's perfume, sorceror, we were tracing her blood scent. She shares the blood of the river."

Drythe looked at the werewolf doubtfully. "I see," he said, "so is it water that runs through her veins? Or is the river secretly flowing with blood and everybody has yet to notice?"

Again, the werewolf sighed. "You are young, sorceror, you have much to learn. The Aerning river is not the same as all the other rivers, it flows from the heart of the planet. This girl was birthed by the planet, she has a purpose, the planet does not do things for no reason, she was born because she is the only person who can save us from the incoming threat. Her birth was an act of self-preservation."

"What threat?"

"Only the planet knows what is coming, we can but train her and hope. Hope that she will be enough."

"Ok," said Drythe, "you said she was a baby when you found her, but I heard she was 5 you should write out most small numbers instead of putting in the numeral.. We can't train people in magic before they can walk."

"Yes, it was quite extraordinary."

Drythe raised an eyebrow "What was?"

The werewolf sat down and sipped his tea. "When the scouts came back she had grown significantly, by the end of the week she was a child, able to talk and walk and do all the other things you could expect from someone that looked her age. At that point, her accelerated growth seemed to stop, and she began to show signs of a magical nature."

"Like what?"

Someone tapped on the door, three times, then again two more times.

"Come in," called the werewolf.

The door opened and a very normal looking young girl walked into the room.

Her hair was brown and shoulder length, her bright green eyes had a certain possessive quality to them, as if she was reaching into the sorceror's soul.

"Good morning, Aelwynn, have you practiced your basic protectives this morning?"

The girl nodded, before walking over to the sorceror and putting her hand on his arm. She looked into his eyes and, as she closed her eyes, he found his eyes closing too. After a few seconds, she reopened them. Drythe could have sworn he saw her pupils light up for a split second.

"I'm sorry," she said.

Drythe frowned. "Sorry for what?"

She shook her head. "I can't tell you, the planet won't let me." This last line sounds a little silly and convenient when uttered here, but gets elaborated later anyway, so it's a bit redundant.

Drythe frowned. "What do you mean?"

The girl smiled. "The planet knows things that you can't know, not yet. But it's okay, she has great plans for you. You just can't know them yet."

"She?"

The werewolf stood up, day had broken by now and the light danced on the desk around his shadow. "The girl can see things, it's a gift she has, she knew you were coming before we did, it's why we had someone by the gates to let you in And he did a pretty piss-poor job of it, considering he waited until Drythe had to repeat himself to get the gates open... which reminds me, is Jorge a werewolf and the guardsman thing is just a cover? Or is he the only human in a town of werewolves and doesn't even know it?. We've been training her to focus her power to see particular things, but until she's mastered that, what she sees can be quite random and at times upsetting for her, as well as for others. She told one of our number something that disturbed him so much he went mad and threw himself to the wolves outside."

"Really?" said the sorceror, "what did she tell him?"

"I'm not sure, and I don't want to know, either. We've taught her what she should and shouldn't say, but some things she can't tell us anyway, apparently the planet won't allow it." And a piss-poor job they've done teaching her, if one of the first things she says after looking at Drythe's future is "I'm sorry."

The little girl pulled at Drythe's hand. "When are we going to Drylic? We have to wait for two hours to make sure the wolves are all asleep or we'll get eaten alive. It looks painful, I don't think it would be much fun."

The werewolf laughed. "I think you see my point. When you go, ride until you get to Anwol, don't stop. When the werewolves wake up it should be too late for them to catch you, they won't go near the capital."

The little girl walked over to the werewolf and took his hand. "Goodbye Master Dewin. Thank you for everything, the planet says thank you too, and that she will meet you soon."

The werewolf was taken aback, his mouth opened slightly and his eyes widened, but he quickly regained his composure and turned to Drythe. "I think, then, that this will be the last time we see each other, sorceror. Thank you for being more understanding than most of your kin would."

The werewolf held out a hand, which Drythe took in his own. "It was nice to meet you, Master Dewin."

Aelwynn grabbed the sorceror's arm and started pulling him towards the door, but when they got there he stopped and turned around.

"I like to believe that we make our own destinies," he said, "so, perhaps we will meet again."

The werewolf smiled at him and bowed his head, before turning towards the window.

Drythe shut the door.

I think this might be a better time to end the chapter. While I like that she chooses to rename herself, I don't see why that can't come up in the next chapter somewhere, somehow. This feels like a more natural ending, and it avoids the awkward end-of-chapter time skip that seems to handwave a lot of things away.

It took three days for the pair to arrive at Drylic, in which time the two had begun to bond Part of the problem with this time skip is that you tell us they bond, rather than giving us the chance to see it happening. Character relationships are a very important part of any story, and so it's not enough just to say "don't worry, these people are friends." We have to believe it, and seeing is believing. I'm not saying you should pad out a lot of chapters where nothing happens other than they travel and become friends, but maybe instead have them bond more slowly over the course of what you have in store for chapter two and whatnot.. Aelwynn had told him all about her life with the Highbacks, how they had trained her in 'wolf magic,' as she called it, and how the planet had said she needed to learn all the magic in the world for when she was older.

The port was busy and one woman could be heard calling for her daughter.

"Emily! Emily come back here! Stop running or you'll fall!"

Aelwynn stopped and stared at the woman.

"Are you ok?" asked Drythe.

She nodded. "It's just, do I have to be called Aelwynn?"

"Isn't that your name?" he replied.

She shook her head. "That's just the name the wolf-folk gave me. I don't have to be called that now. Besides, you don’t know what it means."

The sorceror looked at her. “And you do?”

“Of course I do, I understand every language, I was born to the planet silly.”

“Ok then,” he said, “what does it mean?”

She sighed. “It means all powerful. I can’t go around calling myself all powerful. Yes, hello there, I’m all powerful, nice to meet you too.”

Drythe smiled. "Ok, well then what would you prefer?"

"Emily," she said immediately, "Emily is a pretty name, I like Emily. Can I be called Emily? Please?"

The sorceror laughed. "Are you sure? There's a lot of other names out there, when we get to the castle I'll find a book of names and we can go through them together. Ok?"

"Ok," she said.

But in truth, she had already seen all the other names, and Emily was still by far the prettiest.


So before I get into my own comments, I'll answer some of the questions you put at the beginning.

Is the description too long? Did it grab your attention? Did it bore you?
I touched on this in the line-by-line, but the description was, at times, a bit too drawn out for my liking. Mostly at the beginning. I don't think there was a moment in the latter parts of the story that I thought you over-explained anything. It really is just the alignment of all those long, exposition info-dump paragraphs that made the opening feel bloated, and while a lot of it was interesting and, I'm sure, important to the story, there were some things I didn't think I needed to know quite right then and there.

Does the dialogue lack conflict?
I mean, technically yes, though whether this is a bad thing or not is debatable. He really only gets into conversation with Dewin, and that generally goes alright for them (Dewin is in no way an obstacle to Drythe's objective, and the fact they're both in agreement that Emily should go to Drylic somewhat robs all the conflict from the scene). They don't necessarily have to fight each other for Emily, but a bit of disagreement over what's best for her, or something, might be helpful--even if Drythe is even more outwardly skeptical of the claims Emily is the child of the river. Otherwise it's a pretty amicable conversation.

Do I use commas badly? (I think I might do)
Yes. You use them as periods too often, which creates comma splices.

Would you carry on reading this if it was at the start of a book?
Probably. One of the things I like about this as an opening chapter is I have a pretty strong sense of who's who, what's what, and where we're going. I recognize Drythe's role, Emily's role, and I have an idea what Drythe's immediate objective is with hints of something even bigger to come. In that sense, this is a perfect opening, and if you tighten the language and follow some of the other things I'm about to talk about, I think this would work really well as a first chapter.

I should mention now that I like the things that you laid out in the story that foreshadowed the werewolf conflict and identities. I didn't pick up on it in the first reading, but seeing some of the hints--that the man on the bridge is actually dead, the woman's wild eyes that seem to glow in the dark, and the portrait--are nice little moments that make me think there's probably more foreshadowing to be on the lookout for--even if there isn't, the fact that I'm looking for it is good.

I've spoken fairly long about your need to tighten the prose, and fix some of the technical issues like proper punctuation, so I'll skip over that and just touch on the one other issue I had with this chapter.

Unfortunately, I don't really get a sense of Drythe as a character. It's hard to get a good first impression, though this chapter is fairly long so you'd think I could have a better sense of him by the time I was done. To be fair, there are a number of things here that might add to his character--I like that he's reveling in the freedom of being out of the castle for the first time in fourteen years, he seems to have a bit of a snarky streak to him, he's rather gifted--but all of these things are either underplayed or have something in direct contradiction to them: he's rather gifted, but we only have his expositional word for this, and he spends the chapter interacting with people and creatures that seem more powerful than him; he's reveling in his freedom, but he also seems to suffer nothing for this being his first time out of doors, and he already comes across as fairly worldly. I guess what I'm saying is, he doesn't seem like a young prodigy seeing the outside world for the first time in a long time, so I don't believe him as that.

I'd also like a stronger sense of a personal objective. We have his larger, impersonal one--he's been sent to find Emily and bring her back to Drylic. That works for the plot, but for the story of Drythe he needs some sort of personal wants that will inform his character, as well as the rest of the story. Maybe he wants to be the greatest sorcerer Drylic has ever produced, or maybe he just wants to maintain his freedom and see the world; we kind of see both of these, but you don't push either very far and they make little impact on the plot--despite his newfound freedom, he seems very eager to return to Drylic, and despite his personal ambition (I know he doesn't want power for power's sake, but power and "greatness" aren't necessarily synonymous) doesn't react at all to the fact that Emily seems like she'll be far more powerful than him.

Because his personal wants will inform how he sees the world and characters and story. Someone who wants to go explore the world for the first time will balk at the idea at having to be Drylic's errand boy and having to return so soon; someone out for greatness might be jealous of Emily, or might see her as a tool for his own advancement (the master of one of the greatest sorcerers to ever exist is still a pretty big deal). But Drythe, as it is right now, just seems to interact with these possibilities as a blank slate.

One last thing I'll touch on--and I forgot I was going to suggest this until just now--was that there doesn't seem to be much tension in this chapter, where I think you want me to feel some. There's a tiny bit when the werewolf attacks him on the road, and that's fine, but as soon as the werewolf leaves it feels like all danger goes away. Partly it's because you fall into a reverie, and that implies a calmness (you don't think straight when you're in danger) but even when Drythe reaches the gates and there's something in the bush nearby, or when he realizes the Dewin is a werewolf, he doesn't seem really all that concerned about it. I'd recommend playing up Drythe's reactions to these things.

So to recap:
-Tighten up the prose
-Add tension
-Most importantly, give Drythe a personal objective that informs his actions.

Other than that, I quite enjoyed this!
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