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The Stranger Within (my first attempt at writing fantasy)

 
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Tales of Kadakinna



Joined: 17 Nov 2009
Posts: 17
Location: Maine

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:16 pm
Post subject: The Stranger Within (my first attempt at writing fantasy)
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So this is the first fantasy short story I've written. It is based in a world I created called Kadakinna, in the country of Yad. A map of Kadakinna can be found on my website (see my sig). Anyway, enough rambling. Here it is.

THE STRANGER WITHIN
By AC Hale


The sun was high in the midday sky. It beat down insufferably, reflecting off of the sand. Most could not bear the deserts of Yäd, but Jaegar relished the sunshine and heat. His dark skin soaked up the rays of the sun like the desert flora soaks up water. Small for a boy of fourteen, Jaegar stood at just five feet tall. At just over one hundred pounds, he was built for speed. He had short, dark hair, and black eyes.

He got down on his belly and crept up the rise of the
dune. His quarry stood not more than twenty yards away, drinking out of a small pool that still held a little water from the rain the night before. Jaegar slowly rose, hefting his spear in his right hand. Suddenly, he hurled the spear. He watched it sail through the air, and score a good, clean miss. The antelope he had been stalking bounded away.

Jaegar walked down to retrieve his spear, muttering to himself the whole time. He walked back up the dune and toward town. Jaegar lived in a small town, just on the edge of the Nagako Desert, called Ketzomad. It had a population only 500 people. Jaegar’s house was near the center of town, just big enough for Jaegar and his parents, whom he lived with.

As he neared the outskirts of town, he heard someone whisper.

Wait! Did you hear that?

Startled, Jaegar looked around. He could see no one. He stopped and listened very closely. Faintly, he heard a cry for help. He turned and ran toward the sound. As he ran the cry got louder. When he knew he was getting close, he slowed, not knowing what he would find. He came up on a small oasis. A lovely girl that looked to be about his age was up in one of the trees. It was her who had been calling for help. The cause of her fear was pacing back and forth directly below her. A hyena had chased her up the tree, and was waiting for her to come down.

Jaegar was scared. He knew he couldn’t leave the girl to the hyena, yet all he had for weapons were his spear and his hunting knife. If he threw his spear and missed, as he had earlier, he knew he would die.

Well, let’s just hope you don’t miss then, huh? He heard the voice from earlier say.

Jaegar looked around again, but, as before, he saw no one else that might have spoken. He turned back to the scene before him. As focused as the hyena was on the girl, Jaegar was able to sneak up fairly close. At about twenty yards away, the same distance as his first throw that day,
he stopped and drew a deep breath. He waited until the hyena was broadside to him, and gave a short whistle. The hyena paused to look up at the noise. Jaegar threw his spear. Time seemed to slow. He watched the spear fly through the air, saw the look of hope flash across the girl’s face. The spear struck just behind the hyena’s shoulder, going through its heart. It gave a yelp and started to run. After about fifteen yards it fell over dead. Jaegar ran over to the tree.

“Are you okay?” he asked the girl.

“Yes, thank you! I don’t think this branch would have held me much longer”, she said as she climbed down. “You saved my life!”

When she reached the ground, Jaegar realized that she was more than just lovely: she was beautiful. About an inch taller than him, she had soft looking skin the color of the desert sand. Her curly hair was black as the night, and came down past her shoulders. She had full lips, and her eyes were the color of chocolate.

“It . . . It was nothing,” Jaegar stammered.

“It wasn’t nothing to me. What’s your name?”

“Jaegar.”

“Well, Jaegar, thank you. I will be forever indebted to you.”

“Oh, no such thing. Any man would’ve done the same,” Jaegar replied. “What are you doing way out here by yourself, anyways?”

“I was just taking a walk, and got turned around. All this desert looks the same!”

“I don’t recognize you. Are you from around here?”

“No,” the girl replied, “I just moved here. I came to live with my aunt. I’m from down south a ways.”

Jaegar walked toward the hyena to retrieve his spear. He turned back to the girl and said, “I’ll walk you back to town. It’s not safe to be out here by yourself unarmed.”

Jaegar bent and pulled the spear out of the hyena. The spear had gone all the way through, and was sticking six inches out the other side. Jaegar had never had such a strong throw. He had no idea where the extra strength came from.

It must have been the adrenaline, he thought to himself.

You can go ahead and tell yourself that, the voice said.

Jaegar didn’t look around this time so he wouldn’t startle the already scared girl. He knew he would not see anyone. He was thoroughly confused now. Jaegar had not spoken aloud, yet the voice had answered him.

As Jaegar and the girl headed back to Ketzomad, Jaegar said, “I didn’t catch your name.”

“Kynir,” the girl answered.

Soon they were talking as if they had known each other forever, their near death experience forgotten for the moment. It seemed like no time at all until they were back to town. Kynir stopped at the first house they came to.

“Well, this is me,” she said. “Thank you again. I will never forget what you did for me.”

“I’ll see you around?” Jaegar asked.

“Yea, I’d like that,” Kynir replied.

Jaegar waved goodbye and headed toward his own house. He went to sleep that night thinking of the small beautiful girl he had saved.

You really like her, don’t you? The voice asked him.

Yea, I do, Jaegar answered.






Jaegar and Kynir soon became best of friends, spending nearly every waking hour together. They often took walks in the edge of the desert, and sometimes just sat and talked. However, Jaegar’s spirits were somewhat dampened by the voice he kept hearing in his head. He was afraid he was going crazy.

He tried to tell his parents one evening, about two weeks later. It did not go well. They, too, called him crazy. Afraid of what others would think if they found out, they started talking about kicking him out. One day, he decided to tell Kynir.

“Kynir,” he began, “did you ever wonder how I found you the day we met?”

“Sort of, but I figured it was just my good fortune,” she replied, smiling.

Jaegar paused.

“A voice told me,” he finally said.

“Huh?” Kynir asked.

“I know it sounds crazy, but a voice in my head told me. And since that day that voice talks to me all the time. It’s getting worse and worse.”

At first Kynir didn’t know what to say. Finally, she replied, “Jaegar, I don’t think you’re crazy. Whatever it is, we will figure this out together. Nothing will ever make me change the way I feel about you.”

“Thanks,” Jaegar said. “I think my parents are going to kick me out.”

“What?!” exclaimed Kynir.

“They are afraid of what people will think when they find out.”

“That is what’s crazy!” Kynir was almost yelling now.

“I’m going to run away,” Jaegar decided.

“Well then I’m coming with you,” Kynir declared.

“I can’t ask you to do that. I don’t even know where I’m going yet!”

“You didn’t ask me,” Kynir stated.

Jaegar could tell by the look on here face that nothing he could say would change her mind.

“All right, then,” he said. “Tomorrow morning. We’re usually gone all day anyway. It will be at least a day before they realize we’re gone.”

“Tomorrow,” Kynir agreed.

Before he went to bed that night, Jaegar quietly gathered up all of his belongings. He came from a poor family, so it did not take long. All he had were his hunting spear and knife, and a few changes of clothes. He put the clothes in a small pack. He could barely sleep that night in anticipation of what was to come the next day. At dawn, Jaegar sneaked out so he would not wake his parents, and went to Kynir and his usual meeting place. He did not have to wait long for Kynir to show up. Jaegar took her pack from her.

“Are you ready?” he asked her.

“Lets go.”

They took the road headed south. There was nothing to the north but desert. Jaegar kept his eyes open for any sign of game. He would have to hunt for their food. He managed to get a jackrabbit around noontime. They stopped and built a fire to roast the rabbit on. They ate in silence, the enormity of what they were doing starting to sink in.

Finally, Jaegar asked, “Are you regretting this yet?”

“No. I hated it there. You are the only reason I stayed as long as I did. Do you regret it?”

“I’ll miss Mother and Father,” Jaegar admitted. “But no, I am looking forward to the change of scenery.”

They finished eating, and got back on the road. They had a lot of traveling ahead of them.






Jaegar and Kynir continued traveling south for about a week. The voice spoke with more and more frequency. Often times it would help Jaegar track down game, saying that it smelled something off in that direction, or heard something in this direction. Kynir was of some comfort to Jaegar, but he was often up late at night, wondering if he was going insane.

The pair tried to avoid other parties on the road. Not all travelers in those days were friendly. If they heard or say anyone else, they quickly got off the road and hid. At nights they would stop in an inn, trading a nights stay for work in the kitchen, or serving other customers.

“You know,” Jaegar said one day to Kynir, “I’ve heard people talk about men that can use magic. They call themselves medawlinnôns. Maybe they can tell me what’s wrong with me.”

“It’s worth a shot,” Kynir said. “How do we find them, though?”

“From what I’ve heard, they have their own city, Odanaal, down south in Sawanak.

“Then that’s where we’ll go.”

Whatever else Kynir was about to say was interrupted, as three men with masks on their faces jumped onto the road and surrounded them. One of the men seized Kynir. Another grabbed Jaegar, while the third ripped Jaegar’s spear from his hand.

“Well, what have we here?” said the man that took Jaegar’s spear. “A strong looking lad, and a lovely young lass! These will bring a fine price at the Raphomian slave markets!”

Jaegar felt an anger rising up within him such as he had never felt before. No one was going to hurt Kynir if he had anything to do with it!

I can help you!, the voice said.

Jaegar ignored it. His anger boiled over into a cold rage. He began to tremble. He heard the voice begging him to listen to it, to let it loose on the men. Jaegar gave in.

His body began to shake harder. He felt a change coming over him. An animalistic instinct began to rise up in him. He shook so hard the man holding him let go. Jaegar fell to the ground on all fours. Tan fur began to grow all over him. His hands and feet began to look more like paws. His hair grew longer, covering his neck, and turning brown. Jaegar’s clothes ripped and fell to the ground as he grew too big for them.

Where Jaegar had stood, just moments before, now stood a majestic, shaggy maned lion. It gave a mighty roar, and the would be kidnappers did not wait around to see if it was nice.

So you’re the on who’s been talking to me this whole time? Jaegar thought to the lion.

Yup, I’m the one, the lion answered.

It was a weird feeling. It was like Jaegar was in the back of some one else’s mind. He could see, hear, and smell everything the lion did.

How long have you been with me? asked Jaegar.

I am a part of you, Jaegar. I have always been with you, you have just never listened to me before.

Jaegar remembered Kynir. The lion looked over at her. She looked completely terrified. The lion laid down and began to purr.

“Jaegar?”

The lion huffed an agreement. Slowly, Kynir approached, and put out a hand. The lion began to lick her, then swiveled its head around so that Kynir could scratch behind his ear.

So how do I get back out? Jaegar asked.

You just tell me you want out. You have complete control over me.

Jaegar willed himself to turn back to his human form. In the reverse of what happened before, the lion turned back into Jaegar. Jaegar quickly covered himself with his shredded clothes. Jaegar and Kynir looked at each other in silence.

“Well,” started Jaegar, “I guess we know who the voice is now. That was the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me!”

“What did happen?” Kynir asked.

“The lion is what has been talking to me. I guess it’s sort of a part of me. I really don’t understand myself. I think I can turn into him whenever I want.”

Do you have a name? Jaegar thought.

No, I am whatever you want to call me.

“Are you still going to Odanaal?” Kynir asked Jaegar.

“Yes,” Jaegar decided. “I want to learn more about what’s going on, and if there is anyone else like me out there.”

“Well then, we’d better get headed out. From what I hear from other travelers we have about two weeks to go still.”

“You mean you still want to come with me after that?” Jaegar asked. “You don’t think I’m a freak?”

“I told you once, Jaegar. Nothing will ever make me change the way I feel about you.”



Hope you enjoyed it. Tell me what you think. Give me honest input. I want to know what to improve.
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Visit my site! talesofkadakinna.webs.com
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LunaRaven



Joined: 30 Jun 2008
Posts: 925
Location: Neverland

PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:38 am
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*Cracks knuckles* Here is your Raveny review. I'll break it down by paragraphs, because I'm wonderful like that.I will make bold the certain areas that need attention, as I am, once again, wonderful like that.

Quote:
The sun was high in the midday sky. It beat down insufferably, reflecting off of the sand. Most could not bear the deserts of Yäd, but Jaegar relished the sunshine and heat. His dark skin soaked up the rays of the sun like the desert flora soaks up water. Small for a boy of fourteen, Jaegar stood at just five feet tall. At just over one hundred pounds, he was built for speed. He had short, dark hair, and black eyes.

At the end of the 5th sentence, you use the words, "as just". You continue to use those same words to start the next sentence, which throw the flow of the statement a bit. You could try combining the two sentences like: "Small for a boy of fourteen, Jaegar stoor just five feet tall and weighed slightly more than a petie one-hundred pounds." Also, when writing try to avoid just telling the reader what your character looks like. You did well at the beginning, letting us know that Jaegar had dark skin without so bluntly forcing the fact. I know that writers, myself included, often are very eager to make sure that readers see the characters how we see them but stories are aided through showing a reader details and not preaching. For example, you could work in the color of his hair by writing something along the lines of: "Salty presperation ran down the line of his dark nose and Jaegar nonchalantly whipped his brow with his arm and smoothed back his short, dark hair." Or really anything that has the character in a position where revealing their appearence isn't too conspicuous(if that makes any sense)

Quote:
Jaegar walked down to retrieve his spear, muttering to himself the whole time. He walked back up the dune and toward town. Jaegar lived in a small town, just on the edge of the Nagako Desert, called Ketzomad. It had a population only 500 people. Jaegar’s house was near the center of town, just big enough for Jaegar and his parents, whom he lived with.

I don't really think the addition of the closing lines, "whom he lived with" were necessary. They seemed rather out of place actually, in comparisson to the style of the writing before it. I think you should just drop that last sentence, as it's sort of implied that he lives with his parents anyway(and you'll undoubtably touch on the fact later as well).

Quote:
It was her who had been calling for help. The cause of her fear was pacing back and forth directly below her. A hyena had chased her up the tree, and was waiting for her to come down.

Perhaps this could be a bit more speculative, as he acutally didn't see her crying for help. For example, you could revise the first sentence to a question like: "Was it this girl who had called for help? A methodical movement at the base of the tree brought Jaegar's attention away from the gril. Whimpering in earnest a lone hyena was stalking the perimeter of the tree, it's eyes fixed on its prey."
Instead of just telling people that the girl cried for help and is in the tree because of the hyena, try to paint a picture through the eyes of Jaegar, who is witnessing this scene.

Quote:
Well, let’s just hope you don’t miss then, huh? He heard the voice from earlier say.

How does he know it's the same voice? Give the voice distinguishing characteristics, like a mocking tone are a feminine or masuline feel so that the audience knows that it's clearly the same voice as before.

Quote:
He watched the spear fly through the air, saw the look of hope flash across the girl’s face.

It's a little odd that she'd suddenly be focused on a boy in the distance and not on the hyena bitting at her heels, isn't it?

Quote:
“I was just taking a walk, and got turned around. All this desert looks the same!”
Maybe when he's talking to her, he can be a little more distracted. I mean, he is a boy and she is a very lovely girl. I think it would be charming if he was a little toungue tied and awkward.


Quote:
You can go ahead and tell yourself that, the voice said.

Jaegar didn’t look around this time so he wouldn’t startle the already scared girl. He knew he would not see anyone. He was thoroughly confused now. Jaegar had not spoken aloud, yet the voice had answered him.

If you're planning on introducing the girl as a recurring character I think it would be better if he did whip his head around looking for the voice, appearing odd. That way, if he meets her again in the story he can have some opportunites to make up for his strange behavior


Quote:
Jaegar and Kynir soon became best of friends, spending nearly every waking hour together. They often took walks in the edge of the desert, and sometimes just sat and talked. However, Jaegar’s spirits were somewhat dampened by the voice he kept hearing in his head. He was afraid he was going crazy.

I know that it's supposed to be a short story but I think that you should consider dedicating atleast another paragraph towards explaining their relationship. Instead of just telling us that they're the best of friends, give some examples. Funny situations, mischief, mayhem...that sort of stuff.

Quote:
He tried to tell his parents one evening, about two weeks later. It did not go well. They, too, called him crazy. Afraid of what others would think if they found out, they started talking about kicking him out. One day, he decided to tell Kynir.

I think that you should write the actual scene in which he attempts to adress the odd going-ons of his life with his parents. Most people won't naturally believe that a person's parents would actually just write them off as crazy. You have to provide proof to make it more convincing, as well as to give readers a better view about Jeagar's home life. It would also make the scene that follows(when he tells Kynir about the voices) more believable.


Quote:
“Well then I’m coming with you,” Kynir declared.

“I can’t ask you to do that. I don’t even know where I’m going yet!”

“You didn’t ask me,” Kynir stated.

Jaegar could tell by the look on here face that nothing he could say would change her mind.

“All right, then,” he said. “Tomorrow morning. We’re usually gone all day anyway. It will be at least a day before they realize we’re gone.”

“Tomorrow,” Kynir agreed.

Why would she so eagerly leave her family and all that is familiar to her with a boy she hasn't know all that long? Is she not close with her Aunt? Elaborate.



Quote:
“You know,” Jaegar said one day to Kynir, “I’ve heard people talk about men that can use magic. They call themselves medawlinnôns. Maybe they can tell me what’s wrong with me.”

“It’s worth a shot,” Kynir said. “How do we find them, though?”

“From what I’ve heard, they have their own city, Odanaal, down south in Sawanak.

“Then that’s where we’ll go.”

For some kids that presumably don't travel all that much they sure are having an easy time finding their way. Maybe you should have them carrying a map, or using tricks to navigate.



Quote:
Yup, I’m the one, the lion answered.
I like the Lion's imformal way of speech, but you have to be careful with switching between very formal and informal speech. I think it would be better if the Lion was far less formal than Jaegar and Kynir, using slang and such.


Quote:
“You mean you still want to come with me after that?” Jaegar asked. “You don’t think I’m a freak?”

“I told you once, Jaegar. Nothing will ever make me change the way I feel about you.”

I know that he saved her life and everything, but it doesn't quite explain why she trusts him so much, even to the point of leaving her home. I think that you should build their relationship pre-running away a little more to make such statements of trust a little more believeable.


The story is intersting so far and I'd like to see what you do with it. There are few things that you need to watch out for when telling your story however. When describing things and people, always try to show and not tell. Now, all writers break this rule every once and a while and sometimes it works. But it is better to have more showing in your story than telling, becuase you don't want the reader to feel as though their being preached facts. You went them to imbed themselves in your story, and discover the appearence of people and things almost second-handedly(if that makes any sense, as I know I don't always make sense). Also, you may want to consider loosening your character's dialogue just a bit in order to make it relatable to a more modern audience(i'm assuming your audience is Young Adult). Little things, like writing "can't" instead of "cannot"(does anyone else immediately think of Data?). Sometimes however, characters do speak more formally than the norm(an example being moi, as I am often told that I talk very formally. Which is spiffy, because it's apart of my character. But on a whole, usually people won't talk in a formal manner all the time). On a whole, it's a good concept and you've got a solid writing base with not too many grammatical errors. I suggest just reading over your work and finding lengthy sentences that can be seperated and short sentences that can be combined or better described, and looking for instances where you can revise a phrase to be showing a picture rather than telling a fact.
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Tales of Kadakinna



Joined: 17 Nov 2009
Posts: 17
Location: Maine

PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 11:27 am
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Thanks so much! That was a great review. You've given me a lot to work on. I'll repost when I have fixed it.
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TamAlthor
The Zeppo


Joined: 09 Nov 2006
Posts: 713
Location: Alberta Canada

PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 1:47 pm
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Luna I Think you are up for the Review of the year! One more month till we know for sure. Great Work! very to the point and quite respectful. well done indeed.

ToK (the writer not the group, who are awesome btw) Great story, nice to see another shapeshifter writer on the board. I'm gunna have to write more about my guys if you keep this up.

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