Are you ready for two more chances to critique? Of course you are!
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Submission #1 – Castle in the Clouds by Emily
“Friends, family, and subjects of Shontèm. We gather here today in remembrance of our dear and beloved queen, Lanthirdis.” The elven minister stated. This phrase was the only part of the whole service Princess Ashetha could remember. The death of her mother came so suddenly, and hit her hard.
The whole week she stayed in the same state of shock, as everything passed by in a blur. People shaking her hand, with sad yet smiling faces that tried to console her deep anguish. Nothing could sooth the pain, not yet; it was all so fresh in her mind.
Nightmares of that day tormented her, depriving her from sleep. The assassins moved in quickly, and without warning. Ashetha shuddered as she lay in her bed. She looked at the ceiling, pondering what to do. This had been happening all week. Lying awake in her bed every night was getting tedious. She couldn’t go on this way. She had been shutting everyone out, even though she knew it wasn’t right. She had to open up to someone.
Ashetha quickly got out of bed. She opened her bedroom door quietly, and peeked into the hall. Coming into the open, the soft, thick carpet embraced her bare feet. She looked up at the paintings and dimmed chandeliers as she walked towards her father’s chambers. The closest painting to her was the one of her parents and her, which she got last year for her fifteenth birthday. A flood of memories came to her. She remembered walking through the halls with her mother. The gracious elven queen had always been there for her, and now she was torn away from the princess’ arms.
Her teen years had been the hardest to go through, and she needed her mother to help her through it all. There were so many changes happening, it was almost too much to bear. She didn’t want to grow up. Her father didn’t understand like the queen did. Her mother was gentle and understanding, while her father was more stern.
“It must come with being the ruler of a kingdom,” Ashetha supposed. As she walked further on, tears streamed from her eyes, splashing on the velvet carpet. She kept recalling things as she strode on. Not noticing how far she had walked, her memories were shattered by the something that nudged her.
“Princess?” whispered one of the guards, “Princess, are you alright?”
“Oh, yes,” She managed to sputter out. She took a deep breath before inquiring, “May I see my father?”
“Yes, your highness. Would you like me to rouse him?” asked the fatigued soldier.
“No. No, I will do it, thank you.” She stepped closer to the door, and slowly turned the handle.
Ashetha slowly stepped into the room and examined the familiar chamber. Her father was facing her, startled by her entrance. He had always had a keen sense of hearing. He was sitting at his desk with his lamp was lit. She assumed he was studying something.
“Ashetha? What are you doing up so late?” the king asked.
“I… um… I couldn’t sleep,” she replied timidly, staring at her feet.
“You, too, eh?” He sighed. The good king could read her like a book and sat her on his bed. His tear stained face told her that he too had been crying. His warm smile and wise eyes seemed to stare into her soul. She couldn’t keep it in anymore.
Digging her face into her father’s shoulder, she soaked his tunic with her tears. He held her close to him and they wept together. After a while, the king lifted Ashetha’s head and said, “My daughter, I know how much this hurts you, it hurts me just as much.”
“What are we going to do now?” she asked desperately.
“I don’t exactly know. I do know that we are hunting down those vial creatures that murdered your mother, and avenge her death. But after that, I’m not too sure what we will do. My world has been shattered to pieces, as I’m sure yours is, as well. But at least we still have each other,” He embraced her again, “All I have left is my faith, to believe is that the Master has a plan for this. Something good must come out of this, even though we can’t see it yet,” He looked into her eyes and said, “My dear Ashetha. I love you so very much.”
“I love you, too, dad,” she managed to let out before a lump choked her and tears once again flowed. The king caressed her face as he gently wiped away her tears.
“I am going on a trip to see a friend of mine. He lives in the other world, in the city of the clouds. Do you remember…?”
“Yes, of course I do,” she interrupted.
“Well, I intend to bring you with me this time. I’m hoping this trip will let us bond and help us to recover. Does that sound alright?”
She gasped with excitement, but her smile soon faded as she said, “But why now? How can we leave now? Our kingdom is in peril, and if the people see you leave…” she protested.
“You don’t want to go?”
“Well, yes I do, but not now.”
“I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon. I also have a surprise for you. I’ll see you then, my dear?” He asked, and by the look in his eyes she could tell he wasn’t giving her an option.
“Yes, father. Goodnight,” she replied obediently. She softly rose, and left the room.
Submission #2 – The Chronicles of Keriddon by Kate
Tusdar stalked down the dark passageway, careful not to fall on the rough terrain. His torch illuminated only a few feet in front and on either side of him. The path declined steeply causing him to lean backward to keep his balance. At one point he slipped and instinctively reached to the side to stop his fall. He stopped his hand just in time, only inches from the thick dark liquid that oozed along the walls. To touch it was to die. He slowly pulled his hand back as if the any sudden movement would cause the poisonous substance to spatter and burn him. He picked himself up and continued down the tunnel with even more caution than before.
As the tunnel leveled out and widened, Tusdar stopped before a large stone archway. He took a deep breath of the stale cave air before passing through into a large cavern. As soon as he entered, the smell of rot and decay assaulted his nose. He winced and glance around. The cave was massive, with walls and ceiling shrouded by darkness. A table filled with hundreds of candles lit a path to a carpeted dais where sat a dark throne of black and silver marble. Torches were placed in tall stands on each side of the platform and a dark leathery curtain hung from the ceiling behind it. On the throne sat a large figure clothed in black and silver armor. A wide hood hid his face in shadows. In his hand he held a long staff which end in a sharp blade.
Tusdar walked slow toward the throne. “My lord Zelroth,” He said, bowing deeply. “You called?”
“Rise,” his voice was low and guttural, like the moaning of the wind; ancient as the dawn and cold as ice. At the sound of it, Tusdar’s heart froze in his chest. He stood, shivering slightly. “Long have I waited; watching from the shadows.” Lord Zelroth croaked. ” My poison has gone forth, weakening my enemies. The alliance of the Seven kingdoms has been broken and Keriddon is ready for its finally destruction. Now is the time of my revenge. My victory.” Lord Zelroth stood and looked for the first time at Tusdar. The light from the torches illumined the top half of his face revealing eyes the color of blood. “Ready my army. We march to Ash Gate Pass at dawn.”
The curtain behind the dark lord vibrated and shook, seeming to come alive in the dim light. Tusdar bowed to Zelroth before hurrying out of the cavern. As he left, he was sure he heard a deep growl, like a purr of some monstrous beast.
Anna awoke with a groan. Her neck and shoulders ached. Bright sunlight shone on her face blinding her as she blinked open her eyes. Why had the servants opened the drapes already? she wondered. They were supposed to wait till after she woke up. And why was her bed so incredibly hard?
As the fog around her mind cleared, she realized that her bed was not a bed at all. She sat up, puzzled as to her whereabouts. She sat at a desk covered with books and paper. Lining the walls and filling the room were bookshelves containing every kind of book imaginable. Anna recognized the royal library. She vaguely remembered coming here the night before to read history of Keriddon in hopes of finding a solution to the problems facing the kingdom today. After a while she must have drifted off. A large volume of The History of Keriddon had acted as her pillow for the night, an uncomfortable substitute for the soft silk pillows she was used to.
Next to the history book was a sheet of paper containing her notes from the night before. At the top was a list of major problems and below that was a list of possible solutions. While the top list had over a dozen entries, the lower half only had a single line. Anna picked up the sheet and stared at it sullenly. Behind her a door opened. Anna turned to see a servant poke his head into the room. When he saw her he stepped into the room uncertainly. Anna rose gestured that he was allowed to approach. “Yes?”
“I’m sorry to disturb you, my Lady.” he said meekly. “Prince Philip has requested your presence in the council chamber right away.
Anna glanced at the water clock sitting in the corner. It was only a few minutes before eight. Something must have happened for the council to assemble this early.
“Did he say what it was about?” she asked the servant.
“No, my Lady. Only that you were to come right away.”
“Very good. You may go.” As the servant left the room, Anna looked down at herself and winced. She was still wearing her outfit from yesterday which was now quite wrinkled. She ran her fingers through her long, thick hair. It was hopelessly tangled. I look like I just woke up, she thought, then smiled ruefully. She had. For a moment she considered going by her room to change and brush her hair but then, as she remembered the servants words, decided against it. This wouldn’t be the first time she had showed up to a council meeting looking out of sorts and Philip would hardly care, even if he did notice. The nobles would notice. And Uncle Arnold. She frowned at that last thought then shrugged. All he could do was make one of his disparaging remarks about her. He would do that anyway. Well, no use putting off the inevitable. She left the library and made her way down the hall toward the council chamber. Her stomach rumbled reminding her she hadn’t had breakfast. She sighed. It was going to be a long morning.
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