New creatures under old stars

Dec. 11, 2018
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Average Rating: 3.0
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The body still looks beautiful, in a way. The soul formerly inhabiting it still lingers within, maintaining the red of the lips and the spark of the eyes. The man standing in front of it doesn't worry. The last stage is guaranteed to eradicate any humanity left inside. The man, named Ezaliah, turns to his apprentice, a boy whose youthful eyes have sunk into his face, terrified from what they have already seen. "Paner", the man says. "Prepare the pyre" Paner nods and runs at the area he had cleared off. A black circle, bordered by smooth rocks, at first glance indivisible from any area meant for a campfire or a fair fire. If one was foolish enough to look closer, however, the would see sigils written into the soil, sigils that didn't resemble any written language and didn't look like any objects known to mortals. And if that person was completely out of their mind, didn't run back to the village, they might notice the metallic smell of the air, and make the connection with the red color of the ground. Of course, the point where one made the connection would be mere moments before making the ground even redder. Paner has stacked some woods in the center of the circle, in a nice rectangle shape. His hands are calloused, and his back hurts, but it's nothing next to what will happen if he fails in his duties. He looks over his shoulder and sees that Ezaliah has taken the body and is carrying it towards the make-shift bed. He lays it, in a much gentler way than would be expected. The woman's chest - what's left of it, at least- is still moving up and down, and her fingers didn't stop twitching as the older man carved them, and Paner almost feels sorry. He knew that woman, she was always so nice to him. She was the first one to welcome them at the village, and the only one to care about his bruises. That's probably what sealed her fate. Ezaliah searches his bag for a minute or two, and grads out a small glass box. The moment that Paner's eyes lay on it, they are stuck, mesmerized by the flame dancing and twirling inside of it. That little flame, he knew, was more precious than hundreds of thousands of him. Ezaliah always carried it, never revealing its origins and smacking him at the head when he asked. The first moment he had taken it up, he told him that if he ever hurt the flame in the slightest, there would never be a body for the locals to find. Ezaliah opens the box, grabs the flame with his bare hands, pain twitching his face, and abruptly, almost carelessly, throws it to the woman's body. It sits on her hair for a moment, and then it starts growing, moving to all directions, devouring flesh and shredded clothes and bits of bones that have been made visible thanks to his teacher's skill with a dagger, and Paner supposes it does not stop at what he can see, but it burrows inwards, turning her lungs and mind and heart to ash. He wants to look away, he really does, but there is just something in that sight, something that is more than destruction and orange madness. It takes a while to die down, and Paner has to step away, his skin protesting the heat. H closes his eyes for a moment, and when he re-opens them, instead of a black pile of what his old neighbor used to be, he beholds the same woman, unharmed, and perhaps healthier than she was before. He makes to step towards the miracle, but his teacher puts out a hand to restrain him. Before the boy can say anything, the woman starts moving. It's just her hand at first, the merest sliver of the fingers, that might have not stopped at all since before the fire. Then it extends to the whole palm, and then her whole hand is shaking, and before Paner can quite realize what is happening, the corpse stands up and faces them, its eyes shut tight. It turns its head to the sky, and for a moment time stands still. Then it spoke. "The stars", it said, voice booming. "The stars haven't changed since the last time". It turns its head back to the two, and Paner is faced with milky white irises, spliced in half by a blood red line. "But I suppose everything else has" "It has", Ezaliah says. "But as your role stays unchanged. I brought you back to life, and now you have to serve me" The...thing? The soldier, Ezaliah had called it, the soldier doesn't move. It just stared at them for a long time, not making a sound. Paner shifts in his place. He knew the ritual was meant to summon something, but his master had never told him what, or why they wanted it. But the pieces seemed to fit in place. "I shall menace earth and heaven. Nobody will ever stand in my way. And you, dear thing, will help me achieve it". Ezaliah laughs. "Well, technically you will achieve it for me. You are bound to me." "Change of plans", the Soldier says. It failed to elaborate further, earning a confused stare from the boy and a growl from Ezaliah. "It does not work like that! I summoned you, and now you must serve me!" The vein of his neck looked like it was about to explode, and Paner would love to be able to say he'd never seen him so angry, but that would be a lie. He'd seen him much, much angrier. "You and the boy summoned me", it walks closer to them, its hands clutching Ezaliah's throat. "I am only bound to one master". It turns to Paner, who is now noticing its expression hadn't changed in the slightest. "Look away, boy. This is not going to be very pretty." Paner closes his eyes tight and covers his ears, so he can barely hear his teacher's screams. He looks deep inside himself, tries to find a drop of pity for Ezaliah, but he can't force himself to feel anything but relieved. When he opens his eyes again, Ezaliah's carcass is laying on the ground, and the Soldier is staring at him. "So", he says, voice barely escaping his mouth, "am I your master now?" "Yes" "Can't I, like... release you? Set you free?" "No" "Great, just great", Paner mumbles. Then, a bit louder: "Do you have a name?" The Soldier looks lost for a moment. "I used to", it says, "but I forgot it". It turns its head to the sky again. "I suppose I have to find a new one" Paner hesitates for a long moment before he reaches for the Soldier's hand. It doesn't take it, touching his shoulder instead. "Yes", he says. "I suppose you do"

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Leaner prose for better pacing
naricorn rated this work:

Jan. 19, 2019, 3:26 a.m.

Hey, really good start! I thought the hook was interesting and wanted to read more.

*I'm conflicted about the "if one was" part in the beginning. I mostly think you don't need it--you can just jump right in to describing the sigils instead of writing about a hypothetical person. It's distancing. Unless this *has* happened to someone before, in which case you should mention that because it'd be intriguing. I do like the part where you say "the point where one made the connection would be mere moments before making the ground even redder."

*You could clean your prose just a bit! For example, "in a much gentler way than what would be expected" -> "unexpectedly/surprisingly gentle. Tightening the first section overall would get us more quickly to the meat of the story (the woman burning.)

*Some comma splices, e.g. "he knew that woman, she was always so nice to him."

*Love the description of the fire's progression. Has movement.

*Finishing the story, I do wish you'd spent more time developing Ezaliah before he, uh, left. You raised some interesting questions about his and Paner's world but don't resolve many of them. Is this part of a longer piece? If not, add more descriptions so the reader isn't completely lost and it'll be much more engrossing. Great job!

Pacing Conflict Character Motivation Grammar

Comment Rating: 4.0

A strong premise
whatdoyouneed rated this work:

Nov. 12, 2019, 1:02 p.m.

This is an interesting concept with characters I'd like to learn more about. How did Paner end up working for Ezaliah? How did Ezaliah gain his particular abilities?
You insinuate there was some sort of connection between Paner and the Soldier. You could expand on that a bit more.
There's a bit of a change of tone towards the end. The story starts out very creepy and atmospheric with a lot of strong description. The twist at the end reads almost as...humorous? Paner seems more annoyed than anything else that he now has an undead creature bound to his will. This could be another angle to approach the story, but doesn't seem like the one you were going for. When scary, supernatural things become routine, it's great potential for comedy. Was that your intention here?
Also, you might want to break this out into smaller paragraphs to make it easier to follow.

Plot Setting Character Motivation

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I just wanted a little more
lgghosts rated this work:

June 7, 2020, 10:46 p.m.

Great idea and I would really look forward to seeing where you go with this. A few specific comments and a few general ones.

1) This sentence is confusing: The soul formerly inhabiting it still lingers within... You hooked me with the opening line, and then I was completely taken out of the story because I thought, well, it can't be formerly inhabiting and lingering within.

2) first glance indivisible from any area--Do you mean indistinguishable? I don't think indivisible is the right word.

3) I learned a new word from this--sigil. Thank you!

4) " And if that person was completely out of their mind, didn't run back to the village, they might notice the metallic smell of the air, and make the connection with the red color of the ground. Of course, the point where one made the connection would be mere moments before making the ground even redder." This was great.

5) "The woman's chest - what's left of it, at least- is still moving up and down, and her fingers didn't stop twitching as the older man carved them, and Paner almost feels sorry. " This made me think, again, of the first point--is her soul there or not? The soul doesn't usually go away if the body is still technically living.

I agree with the feedback that suggests you break it into paragraphs. There are times when you could choose to use an unusual style like this, but I don't think this piece warrants it.

The story is intriguing, but I felt that there was never enough to explain to me what is going on. It moved from point to point without me ever fully comprehending what was happening. There is a lot in this story that the reader can't fill in, so the relationship between the two, the magical thing, the meaning of the sigils, etc. left me feeling hungry for more, but not in the sense that I didn't want it to stop. Rather in the sense that, I had a taste of something, but never really fully tasted what I was expecting.

A little editing is needed, too--some grammar mistakes and tightening up.

I hope this helps.

I hope you fill in the blanks for us because it is a worthwhile story.

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