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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Critting THE PRINCESS OF TYRONE: world-building questions

I lay under the shrub, waiting, watching. I set the crossbow up and silently set the trigger. I ran my tongue over the blade of my dagger, clenched between my teeth, ready to slit the deer-like yuckah’s throat if I didn’t hit it right on target.

A young stag stepped into my line of vision. He sniffed the air and lowered his head to graze on the wiry grass. Carefully, I rested my finger over the trigger, and with a flick, the arrow released. The yuckah grunted and fell to the ground, bucking for a moment, before it fell limp.

“Perfect.” I stood, my dagger falling into my hand. I walked over, brushing off the dirt and leaves from my cotton shirt. >>Could you be clearer about the sequence of the dagger falling and her words... this sounds kinda dangerous, lol<<

I bent over and saw the buck release his dying breath. I rested my hand on his side, feeling the soft fur tingling with magic. “Thanks buddy.” >>personal peeve: when fantasy characters use modern parlance. <<

I wrapped a rope around his hind legs and slit his throat to bleed him. Tossing the rope over a branch, I pulled and pulled until it hung upside down. I rested a bowl under it to catch the blood now oozing from the slit in its throat. >>"him" or "it" - be consistent<<

I set up traps to ward off scavengers, and headed back to my kill from earlier. I poured the blood from the doe into a jar and brought my magic cart out from the bushes. The wood creaked as it slowly expanding to make enough room to carry both yuckah.

I dumped the doe in, setting the jar of blood beside her, and pulled my cart through the woods back to the stag.

As I approached, I saw a young wolf circling. I whipped out my revolver and fired to the right of it. It yelped and scurried away. “Bloody scavengers.” >>if "I" has a revolver, why did s/he use a bow?<<

But, I did take pity on it. A wolf on its own was a sad creature, so I sliced the yuckah’s belly open and left its stomach, liver and intestines for the wolf.

I hummed as I made my way back to the cottage. I enjoyed hunting. To hunt yuckah was a skill few people acquired, so it also brought in good money. Every day I felt grateful for Sophronia’s impatience with me as a twelve year old.

I’d spent almost an hour stomping up and down the stairs of the cottage, reciting my math homework, then my spelling, then the history of Mish, our planet. She grew fed up with me and marched out of her study, grabbing me by the ear. >>this needs a little more indication that we've slipped into the past<<

“I’m trying to work, Apolline!” she said angrily. “Your noise is driving me insane.”

She took me to the shed where a rifle and a crossbow sat on the table. I screamed and cried, begging her not to kill me.

“I’m not going to kill you, I’m not a sadist.”

“What’s a sadist?”

She groaned. “Pick up the gun.”

She proceeded to show me how to load and shoot it. It took me a couple of weeks to be good enough to actually hunt, and when she did take me out, I cried when I killed my first animal.

“It’s just a rabbit, Apolline,” she said, picking it up by the ears. “Toughen up.”

“But it’s so cute.”

“And it tastes good too. Now stop your sniveling.”

I forced my tears back with deep, quivering breaths.

“Better. Now, follow me so I can show you how to gut and skin it.”

I cried through the whole procedure, making her even more irritated with me.

Thinking back on it, I couldn’t help chuckling. Unlike Fantine and Ashlan, Sophronia had never been fond of me, so her thin patience lasted just long enough for me to get a taste for the hunt. I think her patience only lasted because she knew it meant she would get me out of her way.

I stepped though into the small clearing in front of the cottage. To my right, the shed sat with its doors still hung open from when I left. I pulled my cart in and dragged the doe onto my butchering table.

As I worked, the cottage door squeaked open, and slammed itself shut. “Apolline!”

Ashlan, the youngest of the three fairies, appeared at the door. Her long, blonde hair shone as she looked around the doorway, her brown eyes sparkling. But then she saw my bloodied hands. “Oh my.”

“Hello, Ashlan.”

“That’s horrible. Why must you do that?”

“They fetch a pretty kep, and I know how much you love new dresses.”

She rolled her eyes and pressed her hand against her hip. “Why don’t you buy yourself a dress? These pants and boots do nothing for you. You are pretty underneath all this… filth.”

She pinched my arm, and I slapped her away. She didn’t look much older than me, about twenty-five, but she certainly held the position of the most beautiful woman on the planet. With a petite frame, and long, thick eyelashes, she always caused trouble when she went into town. Although, no one even mentioned how she never seemed to age. She’d looked to be in her mid-twenties for as long as I could remember. >>this would seem to indicate that most of the population is human... but they don't hunt? really?<<

Mind you, no one wanted to bring up that they were fairies and end up having their memories wiped by Sophronia.

“Apolline, sweetie, why don’t you try doing something a little more lady-like once in a while?”

“Lady-like?” I said, cutting the doe’s chest cavity open and working to cut the heart free. “Everyone knows the queen of Tyrone hunts yuckah.”

“Yes, but she has servants to deal with them afterward.”

“Are you telling me she misses out on the best part?” I lifted the heart in front of her face and squeezed it, making blood ooze down my arm. >>People don't talk about things they both already know -- don't fall into the bad-TV-dialogue trap. You've already established that Apolline isn't interested in girly things with the previous exchange. I'd cut this dialogue and get right to the next part.<<

“Urgh.” She scrunched her nose. “Sophronia wants to see you.”

“What for?” I asked as I set the heart in a jar for Fantine.

“She wants you to go into town to buy some supplies.”

I stepped out and turned on the hose to wash my hands. “Lucky I killed two yuckah today, isn’t it?”

“Just hurry. You know how impatient with you she is.” She turned on her heel and skipped into the house.

Nothing seemed to faze Ashlan. She lived with her head in the clouds. I shook my head and smiled as I wiped my hands. I knew raising me hadn’t been the plan. They told me they found me one night when I was a baby, and Fantine and Ashlan fell in love. Sophronia only agreed to keep me so she could study human growth patterns.

I entered the cottage, smelling the strange scent of Fantine brewing something, probably a new experiment since the odor wasn’t familiar. I climbed the stairs and made my way down the hall to Sophronia’s office. I lifted my hand to knock.

“What took you so long?”

I lowered my fist and opened the door at the sound of her voice. “I had to wash up.”

“Mmm.” She already looked uninterested in me. She turned and looked at the large bookshelf across the wall behind her desk. All kinds of strange things rested on the shelves. Pieces of magical creatures, skeletons, magically enhanced technology, boxes full of data chips and of course, books. The room in general felt dark and sterile, especially since she kept the drapes pulled closed. “I need you to pick up some things for me in town.”

She slid a piece of notepaper across the desk for me. I plucked it up. “It looks like you’re making a dress.”

“Mmm. Your birthday is coming up.”

I huffed. “I don’t need a dress. Who wears dresses out here anyway? Plus, since when do you make dresses, or anything for that matter?”

Her green eyes turned to me as her brow slowly rose. “Apolline.”

“I don’t want a—”

She lifted her hand and snapped it shut. My mouth sealed closed.

“This dress is for your twenty-first birthday. You know that means you will meet your betrothed, so we need you to look presentable… for once.” She tossed a purse of miroans across the table at me. “This should be enough.” >>You insinuated that Apolline looks 25, earlier...?<<

She twirled her finger, making me spin and marched out the door. The door slammed behind me and I growled. “I hate it when you do that!”

“Hurry up. You need to be home before dark.”

I growled again, crushing the paper.

>>Overall, this is a fair start. I've got some world-building worries, though. So far, I know this world has bows, deer with a random new name but rabbits are rabbits, magically adjustable carts, pistols, rifles, fairies, humans, and casual magic. Is someone going to pull out an iPhone? If a yuckah is exactly like a deer, why isn't it a deer? 

Personally, I've always wondered why a world that has casual magic would need scientific technology at all. But that's a side note -- this first segment could use a little more clarity w/r/t the setting. You don't devote many words to setting the scene or describing anybody. Which is a delicate balancing act, true, just IMO this could do with some more.<<

1 comment:

Patchi said...

Overall, I thought this was a good opening. It gave me a good sense of Apolline and the fairies. I got a bit lost with the flashback, and I'm wondering if you need it. I don't think it adds much info that could not be sprinkled elsewhere.

There were some sentences I would word differently:

[When] I entered the cottage, []the strange scent of Fantine [brew caught my attention.] [P]robably a new experiment since the odor wasn’t familiar.

[I plucked up the] piece of notepaper [she slid] across the desk for me.

[At the twirl of] her finger, [I spun] and marched out the door.