Shadows Rise Chapter One (Revised)

  • I spent the past couple of weeks revising this on top of my commission work and, let me tell you, I'm not sure what to make of the fact this almost doubled in length from the last draft. I'm hoping I've improved the descriptions in places like some people suggested. :/

    I also expanded on the whole theft situation a bit as per @josey's advice. I don't know what impression Sebastian makes with that idea, but I was amused writing it. :P


    [City of Blackpond, Lacus 25th, 2 hours until Midnight]

    A razor sharp wind swept across Blackpond. It whirled through the torchlit streets and extinguished several flames. The first weeks of Winter always caused exasperation on the already strained city guard; now tasked with rekindling the street lights on top of their usual duties. On wind-swept nights like this one, the city was constantly engulfed in darkness since the torches were snuffed out much quicker than the overworked guards were able to tend to them.

    Kyle Rivers stirred at the sound of boots rasping against stone. He peeked around the corner of his hiding spot and squinted at the approaching light of a lantern. Retreating further into the shadows, only moving his eyes, he followed the figure of a passing guard, snorting when the man strolled past one such unlit torch without giving it a sideways glance. If there was ever one constant in the glorious City of War, it was the ineffectiveness of its city guard.

    For a few moments, Kyle entertained himself by watching the guard walk past. The sound of the man’s boots tapping the stony ground joined with the metal clang of the mace hanging from his belt to create an almost soothing rhythm with his every step. A faint hum caught Kyle’s ears in the few seconds the man was passing right by him. He seemed distracted and content. The boy noticed the sturdy boots on his feet and the thick wool cloak hanging flat from his shoulders - too heavy for the breeze to carry. Kyle figured he probably felt he had a great thing going and, admittedly, the boy was beginning to see for himself how just being warm and well-fed might be worth possibly being stabbed in the throat by a pack of thieves. For the moment, though, he'd call that his last resort.

    Soon the man’s black cloak was far enough away that it blended into the night’s shadows and the guard disappeared into the night, completely unaware of the fact he was being watched. If only he had paid attention; or bothered to relight that torch, he might have found something suspicious in the thirteen-year-old leaning against the outer walls of a closed down bakery. Kyle’s form was partially concealing a half-opened ventilation grate on the side of the building and the boy was nearly dancing in place, trying to fight away the cold air penetrating his thin layers of clothing.

    Inside the baker's shop, another thirteen-year-old had been busy in search of something specific, albeit with no success. Now Sebastian's quest was for anything that could possibly be of use to him and his brother. The boy had meticulously searched the front of the shop, the storage room, the kitchen, there was nothing there he could make use of or take. After a moment of hesitation, Sebastian decided to not leave empty handed until he exhausted all possibilities. With slow and steady steps, he made his way to the second floor of the building.

    The upper floor had almost just as little to offer, the boy searching the small office and finding nothing more than a table full of financial documents. The little he could make out of them in the dark; for what he could understand, told him business wasn’t going great lately.

    The last place to search was the master bedroom and, while hesitant to do so, Sebastian slowly cracked the door open and spotted a large man collapsed in his bed. There were empty bottles all over the floor, some of them dusty like they’d been lying there for days. It took a little bit of finesse to navigate the littered floor without making a sound, but Sebastian managed. The first thing he noticed was the man’s coin purse laying partially open on his bedside table; a few silver coins catching the moonlight coming from the window. For a moment, he almost reached out for it, but eventually turned away, instead grabbing a cloak hanging from a hook behind the door. It was a dark, faded, grey and smelled of cigarettes and liquor, but it was warmer than anything the boys currently owned. It was also three times Sebastian’s size, which immediately posed a problem when the boy moved. The cloak dragged behind him, sweeping several empty bottles across the floor. Sebastian froze in place, watching as they rolled noisily through the wooden surface, knocking against several other bottles and causing even more of a ruckus. He turned to the bed and the man was now wide awake and glaring daggers right into him.


    Outside, Kyle was beginning to lose his patience."Come on, Seb... Hurry, before I freeze to death," he muttered, his breath coming out in small puffs of condensation. At first, he'd been amused at his twin's idea to go on a search for birthday cake, but now this was turning out to be more trouble than it was worth. This was the third bakery they had broken into that night and for the time it was taking Sebastian to come out, Kyle doubted he had gotten anything good.

    Kyle stepped away from the grate, peering around the corner of the building into the dark streets. There was no light coming from any houses, no voices, footsteps, not even the pitter-patter of scurrying rats. It was like that almost every night in Blackpond, as though all life completely drained from the city along with the last rays of sunlight. There was one place in the area still alive after hours, though. It was further down the road, but Kyle could almost see it from his spot in the shadows. From that distance, the Inn was just squares of orange light coming from the front windows, shining in the darkness ahead. “I bet it’s nice and cozy in there too,” he muttered under his breath.

    Whatever thoughts Kyle was having about warmth were abruptly cut short by a loud crash coming from within the bakery. He rushed back next to the grate, but it became instantly clear to him his twin brother wouldn't be coming through it.

    "Oh, for Twins' sake, Seb!" he exclaimed in a rushed whisper.

    Sebastian was climbing out of the building's second story window, an oversized cloak hanging from his shoulders and a large glass bottle dangling from his left hand. "Catch!" he called out, dangling the bottle over Kyle's head and releasing it.

    Kyle caught the bottle in his arms, almost sinking under the unexpected weight of the object. Sebastian was now gripping the windowsill and hanging over Kyle's head himself, more noise coming from inside the building causing him to abruptly let go and land on the stone paved street with an uncomfortable 'thud' and a pained grunt. "We have to run now," he warned.

    "What did you d-..."

    Before Kyle could finish his question a large man poked his head out the window, eyes wide with rage. "Thieves! I'll kill you!", he shouted.

    "Now. We need to run right now," Sebastian said, grabbing Kyle's arm and pulling him into the streets, the man's angered shouting still resonating within the walls of the bakery.

    The twins were only a few steps away from the building when the door flung open with a 'bang'. The angered man rushed out of the bakery brandishing a heavy rolling pin as though it was a weapon. This caused the boys to quicken their step, the man’s cries of ‘thieves’ carrying into the silent streets. Ineffective as they were, Sebastian highly doubted the City Guard would ignore that kind of commotion. Being out past curfew was bad enough in their books, being caught stealing would land them a one-way trip to the dungeons.

    Losing the baker wasn’t much of a task. The man was drunk and out of shape, there was only so far he could chase two teenagers. But Kyle and Sebastian didn’t run too far before they were cut off by the all too familiar sound of boot on stone and the clang of maces swinging from belts. The rapidly approaching orange flare of lanterns causing the twins to halt in their tracks and make a sharp turn into a narrow path between two houses. On both ends of the path, the boys could see the invading light of the lanterns as the Guard patrolled the streets, forcing the twins to squeeze together in the center in order to remain in the dark.

    Sebastian let out a soft sigh, his eyes examining the moving shadows around them, trying to assess the situation. “Okay,” he whispered under his breath. “Okay, okay, okay...” He heaved a deep soothing breath and removed the oversized cloak from his shoulders, folding it neatly under his arm. “Okay,” he repeated to himself, slowly inching towards the moving lights. Sebastian slowly peered into the adjacent streets. There were guards stationed around the corners, and more patrolling the streets and peeking into the more obvious hiding spots. He retreated into the shadows and closed his eyes for a moment. He opened them and his gaze trailed from the heavy bottle in Kyle’s arms; that would surely slow him down a bit, to both of their heavily guarded escape routes. Leaving the bottle was always an option, but if it was up to him, they weren’t about to go through all of this just to come up empty. Oh, no.

    It was too dark in the center of the passage for Kyle to see the expression on his brother’s face, but he could picture it clearly. He knew Sebastian well enough to know that the wheels were turning in his mind, and whatever he was planning wasn’t fully sane. Before Sebastian had the chance to act, Kyle instinctively grabbed him by the arm, forcing him to stay put. Seb looked back at him and Kyle shook his head slowly. For a brief moment, the boys glared at each other in silent communication, which ended with Kyle sighing in exasperation and letting go of his brother’s arm. Like it or not; whatever stupid plan Sebastian concocted, it was the only one they had. Sebastian couldn’t help a small snicker when Kyle released his arm in defeat. He understood his brother’s concerns; of course he did, but getting out of something like this called for a certain level of calculated madness. And, like it or not, that was something Seb was naturally gifted in.

    So, for a few lengthy moments, he stood just on the edge of where the lanterns could illuminate, watching the shadows moving across the ground and the stone walls of the rundown buildings. When it felt like exactly the right moment, he ran out of hiding at full speed. The guards who were walking that street were going in opposite directions and were standing a few feet apart with their backs to each other. Neither man saw the boy run out of hiding. They were only alerted to his presence when Seb made a right turn and dashed right into one of them. The left side of his body purposely collided with the guard, knocking the man’s balance while he swiped the mace right off his belt. The boy twisted his body away from the guard’s grip as he passed, the man’s hand finding only air where the back of his shirt should have been.

    The angry curses the guard unleashed in his wake were enough to alert the whole of the guard to Sebastian’s presence. He didn’t turn to look, but he could hear multiple people running at his heels. Sebastian turned, still running, and tossed the stolen mace in the direction of his pursuers’ legs. The weapon spun in the air as it flew and crashed into one the guards’ knees, knocking him down immediately. The men running right behind him tripped over his fallen body, causing additional hurt to the poor man, who had already been crying in a heap, clutching his wounded leg. The ensuing pile up gave Sebastian a small advantage, but there was a good number of guards left standing. As he ran across the wide open space that separated the commercial and residential districts, he could hear one of them shout something. Although the words were muffled by the rush of blood to his ears, the sound of pursuing footsteps scattering in several directions sounded clear as day.

    The City Guard was dangerous if they caught you, but to the advantage of the common criminal, they weren’t the best of the best in Blackpond’s military ranks. They weren’t the smartest of strategists and most importantly they didn’t care all that much. Sebastian figured that if he could wear them down just enough, they’d consider him too much trouble and give up their search; all he had to do was not get caught in the process. By the looks of things, though, he was unlucky to come across a group smart enough to set up a perimeter. That was bad news.

    Blackpond was made out of districts; there was the military district, the residential district, the commercial district, and then there was the Castle District. The residential district, specifically the more run-down areas, consisted of ‘blocks’; clusters of homes bunched together, separated only by little passages almost too narrow for a full-grown man to squeeze through. Learning to navigate these passages is what made the life of street dweller safe. They made hiding easy, especially at night, and not having them memorized could very easily get someone lost. In between blocks, the streets were wider, more open, and crossing them whilst being chased by a considerable chunk of the city guard was suicidal. Unfortunately, this layout also made it easy for a group of people to corner someone just by cutting off access to the main streets.

    Sebastian dashed into one of the narrow paths. He was two blocks away from where he needed to be and if he didn’t want to get stuck, he needed to move fast. Squeezing the folded cloak tight between his left arm and his chest, Sebastian darted through winding paths in between crumbling run-down buildings. His breaths began to catch in his throat the farther he ran, his heart pounding so violently against his chest he was certain the sound would resonate as far as the southern mountains. Sebastian had those paths etched into his memory, he must have walked each one over a hundred times at this point, but for some reason, they seemed to go on for miles longer than he remembered. He was running so fast that it was hard to stay on track and he ended up bouncing the sides of his body against the walls several times along the way, adding an extra level of pain to the pressure building in his chest and the aches developing in every muscle of his legs.

    Finally, after what felt like an eternity, Sebastian darted out of the narrow streets, only to almost crash into the back of a lone guard patrolling the main street. The boy held his breath while pacing as slow as possible behind the guard’s back, his entire body freezing when his boot crushed a small pebble and it cracked against the stone pavement. Sebastian tensed from head to toe, his body preparing to go on yet another wild dash, but much to his luck, he didn’t seem to hear the noise and remained unaware of his presence.

    Once he had safely crossed into the next block, Sebastian slowed his pace. His breaths were exploding painfully out of his chest and his body shaking from the cold air chilling his sweat-drenched clothes. He unfolded the oversized cloak and wrapped it around himself like a warm blanket. There were no more sounds of footsteps or shadows cast by lantern lights. The rush of adrenaline now gone, Sebastian felt enveloped by the gloom of a cloudy winter night in a city constantly on the brink of death, but somehow still alive. In that moment, he felt he could relate.

    Kyle’s journey home wasn’t as eventful as his brother’s. After Sebastian drew the entirety of the city guard into a chase, all Kyle had to do was be silent. They had probably already forgotten the fact there were two of them; if they even took a drunken baker’s word on that. They might have assumed the man had double vision from all the bottles he’d already emptied that night. It was a dull walk. They always had to be quiet going out at night; even adults weren’t allowed on the streets after sundown these days without risking prison time, but somehow Sebastian’s absence made the usual silence feel much heavier.

    The past year had been a vicious cycle of being thrown into the city orphanage and breaking out again. The place wasn’t all that bad, but to Kyle, it felt just like being locked in a cage with constant reminders of everything they lost. It had been the one thing he and Seb could actually agree on; it wasn’t for them, and they weren’t staying. The alternative, however, was this.

    Kyle stopped in front of a particular building. It was a small two-story home, no different from any other on the block. Except it was old, empty, and rotting away to nothing. One of many in the Residential District, but the only one in that particular area. The windows and doors were boarded shut, probably an effort to avoid squatters, like the twins. It was fruitless. There were cracks on the wooden walls large enough for a scrawny kid to squeeze through. And if there hadn’t been... Well, sometimes you have to create your own doors.

    The back of the house led to a dead end street. The back door was thick solid wood and, even though broken, it wouldn’t move in its hinges. The only access to the building now was a loose board on the wall, just a few inches from the door frame. One decent meal might make it impossible for the boys to squeeze through it, but, admittedly, that was one problem they hadn’t encountered yet.

    Kyle walked to the back of the building and inspected the wall. The board hadn’t been moved recently and the boy wondered what was taking his brother so long. It usually took a lot for Kyle to worry about his twin, but of all the stupid things Sebastian could do, this one had been off the charts. His worry was short-lived, though. He barely had the time to think about turning back when he was pounced on from behind. Kyle tried his best, but was unable to withhold a frightened yelp, the sound of his voice carrying in the wind for what felt like miles. The heavy bottle he’d been lugging around slipped from his grasp and only didn’t hit the ground and shatter because it was caught by his ‘attacker’. Sebastian was laughing beside himself, even though he was careful not to let his voice rise too much, and Kyle immediately regretted ever worrying in the first place.

    "What the hell!" Kyle hissed, shoving his twin against the wall. “Are you trying to get us both killed tonight, you idiot?”

    “The irony would certainly be amusing, but no.” Sebastian groaned at being pushed, the liquor bottle crashing painfully against his ribs. Even so, he chuckled at the expression on his brother’s face. “Relax, those dummies probably still think they have me cornered two blocks away from here. You’re welcome, by the way.”

    “I swear to the Twins, Sebastian, one day you’ll run out of luck. And then what?” Kyle scolded, pushing the loose board and squeezing his way into the house.

    “I don’t ask those kinds of questions, little brother...” Sebastian followed after him, shaking his head, the amusement momentarily fading from his eyes. “They’re bound to drive you insane.”

    Kyle just glared at his brother. “Bloody lunatic. Why do I even put up with you?”

    Sebastian didn’t answer his brother’s rhetoric with some clever remark like he usually would. It had been a far more eventful evening than even he could have anticipated. He was too exhausted to properly annoy his twin.

    “That was way too much trouble, Seb. And what for?” Kyle continued.

    "I couldn't find any cake," Sebastian smirked. "So I decided I'd just take whatever came in handy."

    "A giant cloak and... What even is that?" Kyle pulled the glass bottle from Sebastian’s hands, hoisting it up with some difficulty in an attempt to sniff its contents.

    "Liquor," Sebastian answered with a small shrug, removing the cloak from around his shoulders and wrapping his brother in it. "Here, you're turning blue."

    "Liquor?" Kyle repeated, pushing the heavy bottle on Sebastian eliciting yet another painful groan from the boy. "I don't know, Seb."

    "We're thirteen now, I reckon is about time we have a taste. It's like a rite of passage, isn't it? We're practically men now."

    Kyle snorted a chuckle. "I don't know about that," he mumbled, pushing a heavy block of wood against the gap on the wall they used as an entrance. It was definitely not enough to keep out the cold, but it served the purpose of sealing the entrance shut. It had proved effective to keep out other squatters thus far, but it wouldn’t forever.

    "We're going to need to find a new hiding spot soon, it's been two weeks now," Sebastian pointed out, watching his brother double-check that his little blockade was well in place. "If the Guard catches up to us after tonight I don't think they'll just drop us back at the orphanage."

    "We could join a group. Some of them aren’t so bad. That kid, what was his name, Thorin? His crew seemed okay."

    Sebastian shrugged. "Taking what we need is one thing, but..."

    "We have to do what we have to do, Seb," Kyle insisted. "If we are to survive here, we have to stop thinking of 'right and wrong' the way we were taught. I mean..." He sighed. "It's been almost a year and our options haven't changed; we either go back and sit in that orphanage until we're old enough to be shipped to the military or we find a way to live."

    Their current place of residence was far from what anyone would call 'living'. The building was beyond saving, the very walls were rotting where they stood, it smelled of mold and dead rats most of the time and was now empty of anything useful. Even the furniture they had originally found within the house had been mostly burnt in the first few weeks of Winter; only a few broken chair legs left, waiting in the unlit fireplace. Sebastian dropped the bottle of liquor in a mess of dusty blankets at a short distance from said fireplace, silently searching his pockets for a tin of matches to light the kindling with.

    "You know what would be great? If you, oh, I don't know, actually take part in this conversation. Just once," Kyle complained.

    "You don't want to hear what I have to say." Sebastian's answer was distant like he was speaking of something that had already been decided for them both.

    Kyle groaned under his breath, sitting down in the pile of blankets and watching his twin brother work to light the fireplace, his back turned as though the conversation was already over. "You know I hate it when you do that. Just say it; whatever it is, and if I don't like it, then I don't like it! Don't have conversations with yourself, in your damned head, and act like I had a say in it."

    "We should leave the city," Sebastian said, his tone still distant. "I don't think anything we do here will ever be anything more than just staying alive for the sake of it. There is no life for us in Blackpond."

    It was now Kyle's turn to be silent, his gaze darkening as he stared at the now lit flames burning the last remains of what used to be someone else's home. "We can't do that," he stated, his voice flat.

    Sebastian snorted through his nose as he joined his brother in the pile of blankets. "The White Shadows would take us in a heartbeat, or the Crimson way up in the desert."

    "This is our home, Sebastian. I don't... We're not leaving."

    Sebastian heaved a weary sigh and stood. "I'm going to see if I can find some cups in the kitchen somewhere," he declared, walking out of the room.

    Kyle, on the other hand, wasn't done talking. "You could honestly do that? Just leave this place, forget everything that happened?"

    "I have better memories of our sister than her death. Is it so wrong for me to want to cling to that instead?" Sebastian muttered as he stepped into the kitchen, raising his voice so that Kyle could still hear him. "Kat did everything for us, Kyle. Seeing us barely scraping by like this, you still clinging to that place the way you are, she would've..." He paused for a second and sighed. "What are we really doing to her memory if we don't amount to anything?"

    Sebastian walked back from the kitchen holding two slightly rusted metal cups. He sat down in the pile of blankets, grabbing one and wrapping it around himself. "Here," he pushed one of the empty cups to his brother. "Happy birthday."

    "For me, really? Wow, thanks," Kyle spoke in an unenthusiastic mumble.

    Sebastian snorted a laugh. "You should be thankful. The baker said he was going to shove that rolling pin up my bumhole if he caught me."

    "That would have been an entirely different rite of passage," Kyle chuckled, removing the cork from the large bottle and pouring some of its contents on each cup. "There we go, little brother, happy birthday to us!"

  • happy dance

    Although it was longer, it didn't feel like it took any longer to read. I especially appreciated the longer description in the house they're staying in, because tbh I imagined it as an giant abandoned warehouse for some reason. I don't know why, but abandoned always makes me think "dusty old warehouse". >.< On the plus side, I now envision something closer to a house. A tiny house, but a house. XD

    I think you also show off the differences in the twins' personality much more quickly. In the first piece, you certainly got that Kyle was the "let's stop and think this through" and Sebastian was the reckless personality, but I think the chase scene helps show that off better.

    So, question. This is definitely something I could just google and would potentially take away from the scene, but: Wouldn't the lights have coverings around them specifically to prevent the wind blowing them out? I mean I guess that could be expensive, but it seems less time consuming, on everyone's part, to just put a glass or something case around them. Also, fun fact that seems mildly relevant (and this MIGHT be related to gas lights specifically, but I imagine it worked pretty much the same before), but there were people whose entire job was to light the city lamps at night.

    Time for random nitpicks, because when I can't read a piece critically and balance the general details and minute details, and you got on the minute end:

    The weapon spun in the air as it flew and crashed into one the guards’ knees, knocking him down immediately.

    Okay. So, while you do maintain a clear 3rd omni POV, this line threw me off because the way you were telling, I feel like you should've made it more clear that Seb was either looking over his shoulder, or heard the commotion, or something else. (that's literally the most nit-picky thing I have to say though, I promise.)

    One thing I did wonder was how they got around to communicating about the perimeter so quickly. Everything in Blackpond seems antiquated and none of the guards actually care about their job, but then they were able to put together a (seemingly) large perimeter in five minutes flat. I understand that it's much, much more dramatic and exciting, but the speed with which they pulled this off (both suddenly and without phones or some other quick form of communication) did make me question. (Though, I imagine anything is possible when you're really bored.)

    Another thing that worked but I wasn't sure I liked was the random exposition. It's not that it seems forced per se, but at the same time, I couldn't tell if it was in the right place or not.

    For example, the paragraph about how the districts were set up. In itself, it fit, and it explained Sebastian's later path to get away from the guards. But, the placement was off. We're right in the middle of the action-- the City Guard set up a perimeter and there aren't a lot of places for Sebastian to go-- and then you interrupt it with an explanation about the city layout, whereas (maybe, maybe not; you'd have to test :) ) if you had put it when he was formulating his plan or something, it might have made slightly more sense and not have interrupted from the action. If you do experiment with putting it somewhere else, you might find that it works best where it is now, but that's just my opinion.

    (There was another particular example, but after rereading it, I think it works fine.)

    Final, totally unrelated to the text, question: how does the world view twins? Just thought of this, but because their deities are all twins, what does that mean about actual twins? Are they more prized/special than single births?

    And bonus notes from when I was reading your piece (I knew Scrible was useful for something!):

    The sound of the man’s boots tapping the stony ground joined with the metal clang of the mace hanging from his belt to create an almost soothing rhythm with his every step. A faint hum caught Kyle’s ears in the few seconds the man was passing right by him.

    Me: And it becomes a musical in 3... 2... 1...

    But Kyle and Sebastian didn’t run too far before they were cut off by the all too familiar sound of boot on stone and the clang of maces swinging from belts.

    Me: This is where the second song starts.
    (It would be much more menacing than the first one, of course.)

    The guards who were walking that street were going in opposite directions and were standing a few feet apart with their backs to each other. Neither man saw the boy run out of hiding.

    Me: thinks of games where you have to sneak through the shadows and avoid the light to avoid being caught and losing or having to fight an obscene number of bad guys Now it's a video game.

    (A video game that I get the feeling I would really enjoy, at that.)

    And of course the part about the guard!

    ....behind the guard’s back, his entire body freezing when his boot crushed a small pebble and it cracked against the stone pavement. Sebastian tensed from head to toe.... but much to his luck, he didn’t seem to hear the noise and remained unaware of his presence.

    This is what I actually visualized in my head when I read that and it possibly became my favorite scene because that's what I visualized:

    Guard: turns and sees a scrawny kid
    Guard Internally: Idk. He might have a weapon under there. But he also looks like he could outrun me, and my feet hurt as it is, let alone how they'll hurt after chasing this kid down. And I'm really not in the mood for a fight, especially if he has a knife or something...
    Guard: Have a nice night, kid. Try not to be out this late again, or else you'll be in trouble. turns and walks away

    TL;DR That was very long. Wow. And a lot of it was definitely nitpicking, and I might reread it later just to see what I see that I particularly like or dislike in general, but I thought it was solid. You get across the character personalities and their relationship to each other (especially how they act with each other regularly, both in times of stress and normal times), and you establish some motivations and goals for both of them. Sebastian wants to leave the past behind and go do something to get off the streets and really live, rather than just scrounging around on whatever they manage to find. Kyle, on the other hand, while he certainly doesn't want to keep living the way they are, he also clings to the past. He's scared of the future, or maybe scared that by moving on, they'll be somehow dishonoring (that's not the right word I don't think) their sister's memory. And for both of them, they're both scared of splitting up. Neither of them is entirely confident about being on their own (even if they might claim to be).

    And yes, I felt that it was necessary to spell out both of their motivations, so that you could tell me how close I was to getting it right or wrong :)

    Taking a non-biased perspective (since I'm already invested in your story): Giving the characters their agency, even if it's still in seedling form (it seems like chapter 2 is the one with the inciting incident, from what you've said?), is the first step to getting people into your story, and you've presented two interesting characters to get involved in, an interesting world, and places for them to potentially go. (E.g.: What's in the Inn? What's the desert like? What are all these groups? Are they all just thieves' guilds, or are they something more beneath the surface?)

  • @typical_demigod My head really hurts today and I shouldn't even be on the computer, but what else am I gonna be doing at this time of night if not YouTube... So... If I come off a little less excited while rambling about this, that's probably why. :P

    I'm glad it doesn't feel long, or like it drags. I did experiment with the exposition, and I initially had it before Bastian started running off, but I moved it because it couldn't possibly be something he predicted would happen, and there'd be no actual reason for him to think about it. Seb is a really clever guy, even at this age, but he doesn't think ahead further than "oh shit this is gonna be a problem now".

    As for the mace; he did turn to throw it and I imagined him running backward for a small bit, but I didn't make it clear I guess? And, now that I look at it, I might actually want to leave it that way. It actually helps hint at Seb's enlightenment.

    NOW... About Blackpond. The City Guard are mostly either former criminals or orphans who stayed in the city orphanage past the age of fifteen (which are most orphans, because no one in that city is looking for more mouths to feed, sadly), BUT there are small groups here and there who are competent and actually want to do their jobs. Those guys know the streets better and are very organized. One of those guys be like "DO THIS", the other will know what to do. Which is pretty much what happened with the perimeter. And cutting off all access from a block to the main streets wouldn't take much more than ten guards.

    The fun part of all of this if you're a street kid, or a criminal, is that you never know if you're dealing with a total idiot, a guy who's actually competent but doesn't give a crap, a psychopathic bully, or a guy who's super dedicated and is only there because he pissed someone off in the actual army or had to leave the military academy for some reason. There is literally only one way to find out and I do not recommend.

    And no. They don't have people whose only job is to relight the street torches. Blackpond's main policy is that if it can't be used to strengthen their armies, it's not worth the money and the city guards are right there so they can just do it themselves or we're not paying them either. It's a lovely place to live. >.>

    And it's THIEF. The video game you're thinking about. I based a lot of Blackpond on that game, including the pissed off guards relighting the torches. It's... It's... It's a good game. I need to play some more of it sometime. >.>

    Uhm... What else... Hmm... Oh, the twin thing... No, twins aren't seen any different because of the Gods oddly enough. Redheads are, because it's a rare trait and it relates to Terra, but no one cares if you have a twin. Even though 'twins' is the thing people shout when they stub their toes in this universe. lol

    And yes, you got their motivations and personalities down. Although, Seb comes across here, and throughout most of this episode, as being a lot more of an impulsive dumbass than he actually is. And that's because his enlightenment won't be revealed quite yet.

    I appreciate all the extensive feedback. Hopefully I'll be able to get chapter two rewritten soon because I'm really excited to share that one with you guys. I just need to finish my commissions first. -.-

  • @Blackbird said in Shadows Rise Chapter One (Revised):

    or a guy who's super dedicated and is only there because he pissed someone off in the actual army

    I had to laugh because I realized that is a literal summary of one of my FMCs somewhere XD

    So, is Seb's enlightenment essentially a sixth sense? is impatient to know

    I will add something about Sebastian though-- I really enjoy that he knows when to be serious and he's willing to listen to Kyle, even if he doesn't agree. I feel like a lot of people who write a cocky jerk make them 100% cocky jerk and hope that their tragic past will help them be sympathetic. :/

    Well, I will be waiting for chapter two! ^_^ Take your time and don't feel rushed, though. It's better to feel like your commissions and your chapter are of the best quality you can make, instead of focusing on one or the other.

    (I have not heard of Thief before today. I don't know if you've ever heard of it, but there's actually a Series of Unfortunate Events video game (from over a decade ago; we played it on an original Xbox and PS1 console), and one of the first levels involves escaping from Count Olaf and you were out on a ledge and these windows with people in them would open up, and you had to avoid the light/people or else you would be caught and have to restart.)

  • @typical_demigod Thief is damn good game. I might actually play some today/tomorrow since my sister's kids are here and work is impossible with them around. School needs to start asap, for my sanity. -.-

    You're close on Seb's enlightenment. The thing about that... It's not exactly what he tells people it is, so it's going to come up, but not exactly. And I've only recently stopped being confused on how exactly it works. :/

    Both Sebastian and Dani were conceived as mentor-type characters. They are well into their 40s at the start of the main series. So going back to this part of their lives from that is... An experience. :P

  • @Blackbird When does school start there? Here it's been going since January and spring break for most schools isn't until April. But hey, I'm sure it'll entertain them to watch you play. :P

    Ahahahaha that sounds brilliant. I definitely noticed that from the scenes you've shared about Dani.

    Something that I've had fun doing lately is writing from the perspective of my characters' parents, when the characters themselves are kids. Mostly because I'm terrible at writing kids, but at least half of my characters were rowdy children, so I get to learn about their parents/what their early family life was like AND have fun with the kids.

    It's enlightening, honestly.

  • @typical_demigod School starts on March 6th. It's a bit late, because teachers are being stupid and going on strike all the time since last year.

    Dani's parents are going to be fun to write in this too. A lot of her relationship with her mother influences what kind of a mother she'll be to Crys later on. And they did have a bit of a... intensely complicated... relationship. :)

  • @Blackbird I see. :P

    I actually enjoy considering how a person will take how they were parented and apply it to how they parent. I know that's weird, but for some characters I think about their future far past the last page, and if kids are in their future, I like to think about how they would parent. If I know anything about their parental figures, it's interesting to compare.

  • @typical_demigod I don't know how much of a spoiler it actually is that Dani and Sebastian are Crys' parents considering that they'll be trying to kill each other up until Episode Three, but then... They already are her parents in the main series and it's public knowledge if you look for it... But yeah... XD

    There are things Dani does in Shadows Rise that I'm 110% convinced no one ever told Crys about or else she'd throw them back in her face so hard the universe would explode. Especially the one time she gets drunk. Because when Crys got drunk she suffered a world of punishment. lol

    Seb doesn't grow up to be the parent that punishes but more the kind of parent that gets disappointed and makes you feel like shit for months.

  • @Blackbird Dani and Sebastian seem to have similar personalities, so I could see that happening.

    Well, Dani is a teenager/young adult in Shadows Rise. They do things, and then bury them in the middle of a deep, dark forest in order to insure that no one finds out about that thing.

    Dude that's horrible. o.o

  • @typical_demigod Dani and Seb have very similar personalities, but very different tempers. She gets a lot more heated than he does about things he considers 'small' and he tends to find that incredibly amusing. Which is not a helpful reaction to a pissed off woman. lol

    I hate that I have to wait so long to write them together. -.-

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