Author Topic: ** New Version post 5** First Chapter epic fantasy - The Source of Strife  (Read 519 times)

Offline Farfadet

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Alright I think I'm ready to share my first chapter. It's loaded with information hence why I need help to see if it flows like I want it to.

If anyone wants to help me it'd be super appreciated! And, as always, If you need  help with yours I will gladly reciprocate the deed!

Here goes :eek::

Enough was enough.

Once again, nobody considered Dinnie's wishes. One might say it was a typical occurrence during a kidnapping. Except for her, it wasn't the first time, nor was it distinct from her everyday life. Her mother and father would never cease this struggle to wrest her from the other's control. No more. This time, she’d escape this grievous cycle, for she would rather die than return to her insane father.

Bravid shot a nervous glance at the door when it opened as he had done for the past hour or so. He was the perfect soldier, with pale blue eyes that always scanned for danger. There was no doubt in Dinnie’s mind he would give his life to protect her... until he gave her away to the King. Her ravishers weren't terrible people, though. Their intentions were actually noble and they had not hurt or even bound her – that would soon play against them, of course – but she was grateful for it. She simply tired of never being asked what she wanted.

The man on which they relied to bring her to the Sourceking of Ansoor, shone by his absence. It boded well for her. If he didn't show, it would make her escape that much easier.

A fat noble in a black suit and a brimmed hat entered the inn. She suspected it wasn’t the one they'd been waiting for; Ghost the rangers called him. A stupid name, but none better since he was nowhere to be found. Bravid told the soldiers around the table Ghost was some sort of special mage – an ingenious one –  that he crossed the borders to Ansoor a thousand times and would bring them there without a hitch. But the others said he was called Ghost because he had tried to kill himself several years ago with some magical firearm and it had left his skin ashen to the point it appeared diaphanous. Someone unstable being this talented was difficult to conceive. Again, it would ease her getaway so she didn't overthink it.

The plump man took a seat near the fireplace. The rangers accompanying her slowly returned to their ales. All except the one who fiddled with his mustache more often than not, Rodge.

“Look, Brave,” he said. That's what they called Bravid. A fitting name considering he was taking her into enemy territory with only a handful of his men to stop her father from destroying the world. That kind of bravery only brought you an early grave, she believed, but if the stories about him were true, he had overcome impossible odds before. “We can't stay here. He's not coming.”

“He's coming.” Bravid grumbled, unequivocal. Then he murmured something she didn’t understand over the ambient laughing, clanging glasses, screeching chairs, and overall yelling of the inn. 

Fiona stood, back against the wall, her arms crossed and her ale resting over her elbow. She raised one sole on the wooden planks behind her.

“We don't even need him, anyway,” she said.  “I say we take this little bird back to her father's gilded cage, swift as the wind, and be done with it. Before the Queen finds out we're involved.”
Gildean, Fiona's catalyst, nodded and took a swig, agreeing with her as usual. Dinnie stifled an insult about Fiona's scant clothing. It showed more of her dark skin than necessary, her single wide braid draped around her exposed collarbone. Dinnie had not spoken a word since they’d taken her. Silence was her only weapon, the cloak she wore to remain inconspicuous. And it served her well until now. They often chatted about their plans with no consideration to her, despite her proximity, so she refrained from taunting the mage and her catalyst. They were condescending enough, Dinnie figured it never occurred to them she might outwit them.

“Start by lowering your damned voice if you don't want her to find out,” Bravid spat in a half-whisper. He was the only one not drinking alcohol. “We're not far from the capital and chances are they already know that Dee's been taken. Everyone with their cogs intact will know that Sourceguards were involved and they'll send the best they have to intercept us. Probably already have. If we manage to cross Ansoor's border undetected – and that's a big if – Ansoorians'll kill us on sight when they find out we have the princess.” He eyed each of his rangers carefully. “The Traitorking will keep opening more and more Voidrifts until he gets his daughter back. We can't afford to get caught. The world's going to sh** and we're the only ones doing something about it.”
The soldiers regarded their drinks as if ready to plunge into the glass. Guilt tugged at her chest. Maybe she was a coward to run from her problems, maybe she should dream of stopping her father; be a hero. A short-lived dissonance. She was done playing her parent's games. Ever since her birth they argued, and when kings and queens argue, it often turns to war. All because she was the most powerful catalyst in the world and they wanted to use her, as most people she encountered did. No more. If her crazy father kept destroying the world until he found her, then so be it. It was his choice, not hers. She would choose to leave them behind the moment an opportunity presented itself.

A stream of daylight painted the walls and floor with the promise of escape. She refrained from basking in it for too long. She wasn’t ready. Not yet. A tall, lean figure clad in a black boiled leather duster with a hood hiding its features crept in. With the door recanting its brightness, the newcomer became the embodiment of shadow. The contraptions strapped to the stranger left no room for skepticism. This was their man. Dinnie never laid eyes on such devices before. Brave said Ghost invented them to cast magic without a catalyst’s aid. An act that defied every teaching she received in regards to energy transferal — not that she would mind if it proved true —  yet this man didn't just possess one, a plethora were buckled across his body. Belts filled with glowing vials of every color imaginable crossed over his chest, hung loosely around his hips, and two more guns were strapped on his back, one long and the other short and large.

His shrouded face scanned the room until it locked on them. Searching for Sources of power no doubt. Mages were always on the lookout for it, not only for their own purposes but to be aware of where another channeler might draw energy from. Dinnie had learned most of the Sources a channeler might employ during her mother’s strenuous depleting sessions, like the heat emanating from the hearth or a gust of wind, or static, but she was unable to sense it as a mage did.

Ghost's head tilted as the bartender opened the tap and ale began pouring into a glass before he strolled in their direction. Bravid shifted in his chair and leaned back with an air of superiority. It was involuntary, but she noticed it. The stranger took a chair, flipped it, and slammed it next to her before sitting astride. He removed his hood and lowered the scarf concealing half his face. He smiled a wide, full-toothed grin. It was weird, out of place even, maybe because the others had said he tried to take his own life, but she anticipated him to be gloomier. Although his complexion was indeed whiter than usual, it wasn't translucent. The long, wavy black hair and the pockmarks on his cheeks did nothing to help darken his tone, either.

“Eddie Navar,” Bravid said. “Glad you decided to join us.”

“I don't go by that name anymore,” the man said.

The leader of their band scoffed. “Come on, Ed. We've known each other way to long for me to call you by some stupid pseudonym.”

“Better than being called Porridge face, don't you think?” At that Bravid frowned and didn't speak before the man she figured was Ghost continued. There was some bad blood between the two, it was easy to tell. “And I haven't decided if I'll join you. I was curious, that’s all. Why would the prodigal sword fighter, the selfless defender of royal catalysts and the Liberator of Tristal need me? And, more importantly, how did you find me?”

Bravid composed himself with a deliberate breath. Considering how proud he was, Dinnie reckoned Ghost was essential to his plan or he would not have tolerated the man's mocking tone.
“This has been planned for months,” Bravid said. “I knew you wouldn't let their graves get overrun by nature so I went there myself and left you the letter. No one else knows about it, don't worry... And the letter was pretty explicit about the why.”

Ghost grinned. Again, it didn't fit in his face, like a piece forced at the wrong spot in a puzzle. He turned to look at her and cocked his head.  “So, she's the one, uh?”
Yeah, talk like I'm not even there, sourceless bastard.

“Yes,” said Bravid. He then lowered his voice. “The most powerful catalyst in existence and daughter to the Traitorking. He claims to be the one opening the Voidrifts and that it will only get worse until he gets her back. We've had the oracles check the facts and the first rifts started appearing after the queen rescued Dee from his clutches. The bastard broke his vow to the Queen, took off with the child and has the nerve to be mad when we take her back to her rightful home.” His head stooped and his eyes darted around the room when he realized his voice had risen.

“So,” Ghost said with an exaggerated pout towards her. “You're the reason behind the Border War that's been going on for the past eight years. Though luck Freckles, your life is an even bigger sh** storm than mine. What do you want in all this?”

Dinnie was taken aback by the question. On the one hand, he was being inconsiderate by placing the war on her shoulders. She had no say in it. It was her parents' fault. On the other, no one ever asked her opinion before. She almost broke her imposed silence. Maybe Ghost wasn't the worst person around here, after all. Well, she wished to leave her parents for one. Also, she wanted him to not call her Freckles. She always hated the sun marks on her face, but she wasn't about to break her cover for that.

“She doesn't speak,” Bravid said through a sigh. “Who can blame her? After everything she’s been through.”

Ghost gave her a sideways glance. “Oh. If I get this right, you want me to help you kidnap a teenage girl and escort her to her crazy father against her will? Wow, even for you, Brave, it’s a new low.”

Bravid's eyebrow lifted. “She didn't resist once. It's safe to assume that she's not totally against the idea. We're doing this to save the world, Ghost. Not for money, or fame, or favor. There's no other way to stop her father, he's too powerful.”

Only because I'll leave you behind and finally be free of their schemes. Dee responded in her head.

“And I heard of a man without a name who defended remote villages against creatures of the Void when the Queen didn't have the rangers to do it.” Bravid continued. “Figured it was your kind of fight with what happened. This is your chance to address the problem at its root. Not just killing Voidwalkers as they appear.”

Ghost remained silent for a while, his eyes fixed on Bravid. “I choose my jobs more carefully now,” he finally said. Dinnie noticed he didn't confirm or denied the Shieldbearer's accusation. “Reckon, you'll get yourselves killed on this one.”

Fiona scoffed. “This fool doesn't know anything. We've made it this far. Getting out of the capital was the hardest part and we made it. We'll find a way across the border with or without him.”
 Gildean nodded. “We've prepared this for months, Brave. We won't fail.”

Ghost sneered. “You're a channeler and you haven't noticed?” He squinted at Fiona. “I know Rodge from my time in the army and he usually talks and talks and talks, but I haven't heard him once since I arrived. She's too powerful for him. He's dampening her, but I could still feel her from outside, like the smell of sweat nobles cover with too much perfume, or light filtered through a thin curtain. Rodge is barely hanging by the milkberries. You're too confident to even notice her power seeping. Every mage in the realm knows the princess is missing. If any curious or desperate enough for a Queen's favor come close, they'll feel her and they'll come sniffing what this catalyst is.”

Fiona's face drained, an indication he was right. Fi felt her now. It was probably faint and hard to differentiate from her connection with Gildean's power, but she knew.
Ghost bent his head as if listening to something. “In fact, there’s one already here,” he said.


They were coming for her.

“Good,” Dinnie murmured at the scuffle noises bubbling in the distance.

By now, she was familiar enough with the kidnappings and their perpetrator that it didn't cause her much distress. Her father’s people would never dare hurt her.

Dinnie was far too valuable.

Cooped up in the palace, under constant watch by her mother’s soldiers, opportunities to flee were nonexistent. Out in the wild, supervised by disorderly mercenaries, she might have a chance to forsake this grievous cycle. A risk she was willing to take.

She scooped a flower, stem gliding between her fingers until yellow petals tickled her nose. If everything went well, it would be a while before she returned here.

It made sense, too, they’d snatch her during an evening stroll through her mother’s opulent gardens. A peaceful moment with fewer guards and fewer walls, she often came here with dreams of freedom. The highlight of her days ever since she was “rescued” eight years ago. The only true liberty afforded her… perks of being the most potent catalyst in existence. No one ever heeded her wishes.

Like a predator stalking its prey, the struggle hemmed in on her. A stifled cry here, a thump there, feet shuffling around. She swept the gardens with her eyes, hoping to catch a glimpse of the incoming force. An exit to her left. Perhaps she’d reach it in time if she ran for it now. Then what? She’d stumbled across more guards who would kindly escort her back to her cushioned prison no matter how she resisted. A statue snagged her attention, looming above the immaculate lines of topiary work.

She took in her mother’s lithe figure cut from polished, white stone veined with glowing orange rivulets. Dinnie commended the incredible details in the flowing solid dress. Next to it, the pedestal was overgrown by nature, sculpture itself ordered destroyed when the conflict began. When she was born.

It steeled her resolve. This power inside her, this Source as her mother referred to it, was more a curse than anything. Channelers needed it to enhance their spells. And they were ready to fight for it, die for it, kill for it… imprison her for it.

No more.

The perfectly trimmed hedges bristled with life. Instincts made her back away until her heels bumped into her mother’s statue. As if the woman held her in check one final time. Dinnie breathed through a straw in rapid, constricted inhalations. She clenched her fists and stepped forward in defiance. She was done playing their games.

A knight emerged from between bushes, uniform pristine, blond hair flawless despite the recent struggle. Dinnie recognized him. Part of her mother’s elite Sourceguards, he was a renowned hero. Bravid Stonearms approached her with deliberate steps, palms raised before him as if cautious not to spook a frightened horse.

“Princess,” he said, voice deep and reassuring. “We’re not here to hurt you.”

Dinnie crossed her arms, stance askew. Others joined Bravid, like phantoms appearing through different paths. People she’d seen at least a few times wandering the halls of the palace. Did her mother’s guards repel the invaders? Deception doused her conviction like a water bucket on flames. After an attempt like this, they were bound to seal her away like a prized treasure. Perhaps even forbid her this meager pleasure of wandering the yard.

Her power waned for a moment.

“Don’t dampen her yet,” the channeler with dark skin, Fiona, said. “Wait until we’re out of the gardens. It’ll be less suspicious.”

The dampener pinched his mustache and acquiesced with his head.

Why would they need to conceal her power? Were there still attackers nearby?

Bravid kneeled before her. He gulped, reluctant, sorrow fissuring his determined mask. “I’m sorry, Princess. Your father left us no choice.”

They were here to abduct her. Not her father’s mercenaries, her mother’s most esteemed soldiers. She frowned, overwhelmed with confusion. Not all was lost. If she went with them, she might bide her time in relative safety until ready to abscond. From what she gathered they were honorable and kind people, certainly better than anyone her father would send. Her taut muscles loosened.

Fiona strode past Bravid. “We’re committed, Brave. It’s too late to back out.” Her head snapped in Dinnie’s direction, an uncharacteristic softness in her eyes. Her tone quickly returned to its usual rigidness. “You’re coming with us. One way or another.”
« Last Edit: October 24, 2022, 01:38:45 PM by Farfadet »

Offline MichelleG

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Re: First Chapter epic fantasy - The Source of Strife
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2022, 02:56:26 PM »
I liked this.

It seems overly long, but when I read it a second time I couldn’t pinpoint anything that’s should come out.

Her parents live in different ‘realms’ and want her for her powers?  That’s a worse than I thought in the other thread - a simple custody battle.

I gather she has gone back and forth a few times - poor kid.

I would change to - his pale blue eyes always scanned.   Otherwise, it reads as if he had brown or green eyes he wouldn’t be a perfect soldier (unless of course that is what you meant). …
"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline Farfadet

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Re: First Chapter epic fantasy - The Source of Strife
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2022, 05:24:23 PM »
Thanks a bunch Michelle!  :)

Nice find on the scanned thing. (spoiler alert: His blue eyes don't make him the perfect soldier.)

I'm glad you liked it! One thing if you see this. When you say it was overly long, is it because it dragged  and you got bored or just the word count was a bit over what you would have liked? I wouldn't want to have crammed too much info in there.

And yes, she's had it rough, poor Dinnie, but things are looking better for her! ;)

Thanks again!
« Last Edit: September 28, 2022, 05:26:07 PM by Farfadet »

Offline Lanita

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Re: First Chapter epic fantasy - The Source of Strife
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2022, 06:06:10 PM »
Hi, I think you have an interesting set up, but after you introduce us to Dinnie and her situation, you drop that thread and jump to things that are happening around her without showing us how she feels about them. Before I can care about the other characters, I need a better sense of the MC by way of internal dialogue. I'd focus more on how she reacts to what's going on in the scene, and try to hold off on back story that the reader doesn't need right now. Even in plot-driven stories, we need to care about the MC enough to care about what they are facing. Another way to tighten up the writing is to leave out summaries after the dialogue. You can show what other characters are thinking and feeling through their body language.

Offline Farfadet

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Re: First Chapter epic fantasy - The Source of Strife
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2022, 06:37:22 PM »
Thank you very much !

I'll see what I can do about this!

Offline Farfadet

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Ok, so after your wonderful comments I decided to make a new, more dynamic version. There's something difficult I'm trying to do with this scene and would like to know if it works to someone who knows nothing about the story. Thanks a lot!

They were coming for her.

“Good,” Dinnie murmured at the scuffle noises bubbling in the distance.

By now, she was familiar enough with the kidnappings and their perpetrator that it didn't cause her much distress. Her father’s people would never dare hurt her.

Dinnie was far too valuable.

Cooped up in the palace, under constant watch by her mother’s soldiers, opportunities to flee were nonexistent. Out in the wild, supervised by disorderly mercenaries, she might have a chance to forsake this grievous cycle. A risk she was willing to take.

She scooped a flower, stem gliding between her fingers until yellow petals tickled her nose. If everything went well, it would be a while before she returned here.

It made sense, too, they’d snatch her during an evening stroll through her mother’s opulent gardens. A peaceful moment with fewer guards and fewer walls, she often came here with dreams of freedom. The highlight of her days ever since she was “rescued” eight years ago. The only true liberty afforded her… perks of being the most potent catalyst in existence. No one ever heeded her wishes.

Like a predator stalking its prey, the struggle hemmed in on her. A stifled cry here, a thump there, feet shuffling around. She swept the gardens with her eyes, hoping to catch a glimpse of the incoming force. An exit to her left. Perhaps she’d reach it in time if she ran for it now. Then what? She’d stumbled across more guards who would kindly escort her back to her cushioned prison no matter how she resisted. A statue snagged her attention, looming above the immaculate lines of topiary work.

She took in her mother’s lithe figure cut from polished, white stone veined with glowing orange rivulets. Dinnie commended the incredible details in the flowing solid dress. Next to it, the pedestal was overgrown by nature, sculpture itself ordered destroyed when the conflict began. When she was born.

It steeled her resolve. This power inside her, this Source as her mother referred to it, was more a curse than anything. Channelers needed it to enhance their spells. And they were ready to fight for it, die for it, kill for it… imprison her for it.

No more.

The perfectly trimmed hedges bristled with life. Instincts made her back away until her heels bumped into her mother’s statue. As if the woman held her in check one final time. Dinnie breathed through a straw in rapid, constricted inhalations. She clenched her fists and stepped forward in defiance. She was done playing their games.

A knight emerged from between bushes, uniform pristine, blond hair flawless despite the recent struggle. Dinnie recognized him. Part of her mother’s elite Sourceguards, he was a renowned hero. Bravid Stonearms approached her with deliberate steps, palms raised before him as if cautious not to spook a frightened horse.

“Princess,” he said, voice deep and reassuring. “We’re not here to hurt you.”

Dinnie crossed her arms, stance askew. Others joined Bravid, like phantoms appearing through different paths. People she’d seen at least a few times wandering the halls of the palace. Did her mother’s guards repel the invaders? Deception doused her conviction like a water bucket on flames. After an attempt like this, they were bound to seal her away like a prized treasure. Perhaps even forbid her this meager pleasure of wandering the yard.

Her power waned for a moment.

“Don’t dampen her yet,” the channeler with dark skin, Fiona, said. “Wait until we’re out of the gardens. It’ll be less suspicious.”

The dampener pinched his mustache and acquiesced with his head.

Why would they need to conceal her power? Were there still attackers nearby?

Bravid kneeled before her. He gulped, reluctant, sorrow fissuring his determined mask. “I’m sorry, Princess. Your father left us no choice.”

They were here to abduct her. Not her father’s mercenaries, her mother’s most esteemed soldiers. She frowned, overwhelmed with confusion. Not all was lost. If she went with them, she might bide her time in relative safety until ready to abscond. From what she gathered they were honorable and kind people, certainly better than anyone her father would send. Her taut muscles loosened.

Fiona strode past Bravid. “We’re committed, Brave. It’s too late to back out.” Her head snapped in Dinnie’s direction, an uncharacteristic softness in her eyes. Her tone quickly returned to its usual rigidness. “You’re coming with us. One way or another.”

Offline susan-louise

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Farfadet. I didn't read previous versions, but love high fantasy so enjoyed reading this.  Some minor observations for tightening.

They were coming for her.  (this sentence really hooks, and conveys menace)

“Good,” Dinnie murmured at the scuffle noises bubbling in the distance. (I'd cut this down..and bubbling rather jarred . Scuffle is a noise... So try: "murmured at the scuffles in the distance...)

By now, she was so familiar enough with the kidnappings, and their perpetrator, they had ceased to distress her. didn't cause her much distress. Her father’s people would never dare hurt her. (Neatly done. Showing her commodity status in a battle between powerful parents?) 


Dinnie was far too valuable.

Cooped up  (Imprisoned?) in the palace, under constant watch (surveillance?) by her mother’s soldiers, opportunities to flee were nonexistent. Out in the wild,  supervised by disorderly mercenaries, she might have a chance to forsake (escape??) this grievous cycle. A risk she was willing to take.

She scooped a flower, stem gliding between her fingers until yellow petals tickled her nose. (lovely writing) If everything went well, it would be a while before she returned here.

It made sense, too. (period). They’d snatch her during an evening stroll through her mother’s opulent gardens. A peaceful moment with fewer guards and fewer walls, she often came here with dreams of freedom. (this didn't flow. Perhaps change the syntax: She often came here with dreams of freedom. There were also fewer guards and walls. )
The highlight of her days ever since she was “rescued” eight years ago. The only true liberty afforded her… perks of being the most potent catalyst in existence. No one ever heeded her wishes. (poignant)

Like predators stalking their prey, the struggle hemmed in on her. (try: they closed in on her) A stifled cry here, a thump there, feet shuffling around. She swept the gardens with her eyes, (Hm...why not "she scanned the gardens")hoping to catch a glimpse of the incoming (approaching? incoming sounds odd to me) force An exit to her left. Perhaps she’d reach it in time if she ran for it now.  (Now I am confused.  Sorry!  I thought she wanted to be kidnapped?  Deliberately spends time in the gardens to escape? Then what? She’d stumbled across more guards who would kindly escort her back to her cushioned prison no matter how she resisted. A statue snagged her attention, looming above the immaculate lines of topiary work.

She took in  her mother’s lithe figure cut (hewn?) from polished, (no comma needed) white stone, (comma!) veined with glowing orange rivulets. (lovely) Dinnie commended the incredible details in the flowing solid dress (or try "in the folds of the flowing gown. No need to tell us it is solid, you have just explained it is a statue made from stone :)). Next to it, the pedestal was overgrown by nature, (this is telling...perhaps show the ivy or honeysuckle, or whatever, entwined around the base)sculpture itself ordered destroyed when the conflict began. When she was born.  Struggled with the second last clause.  It initially reads as sculpture order was destroyed (eg the harmony of the works etc were obliterated.. So try: The statue was destroyed when the conflict began.

It steeled her resolve. This power inside her, this Source as her mother referred to it, was more a curse than anything. Channelers needed it to enhance their spells. And they were ready to fight for it, die for it, kill for it… imprison her for it.

The repetition of "for it" jarred and I think you can delete a few to enhance the sentence's power.
"They had imprisoned her for it. And they were ready to fight, die and kill for it." 


No more. 

The perfectly trimmed hedges bristled with life. Instincts made Dinnie back away until her heels bumped into her mother’s statue. As if the woman held her in check one final time. Dinnie breathed through a straw in rapid, constricted inhalations.   Is she breathing through a gap in the hedge?  Not sure straw helps...as it literally evokes, well, a straw.  Just give us her physical turmoil.
 Dinnie inhaled rapidly. She clenched her fists and stepped forward
in defiance. She was done playing their games.  (you are showing her defiance imo...by the body language.  Don't over write it.)

A knight emerged from between bushes, uniform pristine, blond hair flawless despite the recent struggle. Dinnie recognized him. Part of her mother’s elite Sourceguards, he was a renowned hero. Bravid Stonearms slowly approached her with deliberate steps, palms raised before him as if cautious not to spook soothing a frightened horse.

“Princess,” he said, voice deep and reassuring. “We’re not here to hurt you.”

Dinnie crossed her arms, stance askew. Others joined Bravid, like phantoms appearing through different paths. People she’d seen at least a few times wandering the halls of the palace. Did her mother’s guards repel the invaders? Deception doused her conviction like a water bucket on flames. (This is confusing. Do you not mean "Their betrayal"?  And what is her conviction???  Clarity needed.) After an attempt like this, they were bound to seal her away like a prized treasure. Perhaps even forbid her this meager pleasure of wandering the yard.

Her power waned for a moment.

“Don’t dampen her yet,” the channeler with dark skin, Fiona, said. “Wait until we’re out of the gardens. It’ll be less suspicious.”

The dampener pinched his mustache and acquiesced with his head.  (why not " nodded"?  I love the verb but it seems rather wordy here)

Why would they need to conceal her power? Were there still attackers nearby?

Bravid kneeled before her. He gulped, reluctant, sorrow fissuring his determined mask. (I'd tighten this  too as it reads like a list.  Try re jigging as suggested below) “I’m sorry, Princess. Your father left us no choice.”

"I'm sorry, Princess," Bravid knelt before her. Guilt and sorrow flashed across his face. " Your father etc etc"  (you tweak...can do far better than me)

They were here to abduct her. Not her father’s mercenaries, her mother’s most esteemed soldiers.  (Confusing. I think it's an entirely different force?  If so, the second clause needs clarification as it suggests, the kidnappers are her mother's people) She frowned, overwhelmed with confusion. Not all was lost. If she went with them, she might bide her time in relative safety until ready to abscond. From what she gathered they were honorable and kind people, certainly better than anyone her father would send. Her taut muscles loosened. relaxed.

Fiona strode past Bravid. “We’re committed, Brave. It’s too late to back out.” Her head snapped(ouch that sounds painful!!  How about "she glanced at Dinnie, an uncharacteristic softness etc...) in Dinnie’s direction, an uncharacteristic softness in her eyes.  But her tone  quickly returned to resumed its usual (severity??)rigidness. “You’re coming with us. One way or another.”
« Last Edit: October 24, 2022, 11:36:08 PM by susan-louise »

Offline Farfadet

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Wow! thank you so much! in-depth help and revisions like this are invaluable. Incredible.

Thank you for the feedback! I will apply it!