Critique Group – The Traveler

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True, but I think Steve Rogers is just showing off. 🙂

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The Traveler – by Yakira

The dragon paced back and forth, his sharp claws marring the floor of his midnight prison. His dark soulless eyes, filled with countless evils and murders, darted towards a heavy black door, locked and chained, keeping him inside. He snorted at the idiocy of the humans who had put him there. He could have torn the door from its hinges, but the curse on him was strong and prevented it.

Though there was no light, he could still see every detail of the room. Not that there was much to see. All four walls were made of rough-cut black stone, as were the ceiling and floor. A heavy darkness that could crush any dreams or hopes, emanated from the dragon’s obsidian scales.

He growled with impatience. Where was that man? The human should have answered his call hours ago. But that was humans for you; arrogant and full of themselves. A wicked smile crept onto his face. This little fact made them particularly susceptible to temptation, an art in which he was well practiced.

The door creaked open and a man dressed in dark royal robes entered the room. He held up a lantern full of flickering green flames and looked at the dragon, his dark eyes glittering, the light of the lantern gleaming on a gold circlet which rested upon his black hair. The scowl on his face marred what could have been handsome features.

“Why have you called me, Diabolos?” The man asked.

“Because I am restlesss. I need to go above ground. The time is near. My army is growing. I can feel it,” Diabolos answered. He stopped his pacing and looked the man in the eye, his ears flat. “You know I cannot go anywhere without your consssent.”

“Yes, I know.” The man said, smirking. “But what I don’t know is why you insist on ruling over me like I’m your dog.” He narrowed his black eyes and spat out the last word like a curse.

The dragon growled dangerously, digging his claws into the hard stone underfoot. They sunk in as if the ground were made of butter. He didn’t bother controlling his temper. Let the human cower in his wrath. “You know why, Huram! You may be the keeper of my flesh, but I am the keeper of your sssoul! If you die, then you shall burn in my dominion forever.” Here, the dragon smiled wickedly.

“Because of thisss curssse, I may be hindered in my movementsss but not in my plansss. Have you ssseen my accomplishmentsss? My army is growing every hour. More are falling prey to my influenssse. The time of glory is drawing near. I have even ssstolen the ssstars out of the sssky! Is that not proof enough of who is more powerful?” Diabolos’ colorless eyes burned with flames, and his black tongue slid between equally dark teeth.

Huram’s eyes held caution and he took a step back. Diabolos gloated in the man’s fear.

The man stood thinking a moment, and a slow smile crept onto his face. “How about we make an agreement?”

Diabolos snorted a stream of smoke through flaring nostrils. “What kind of agreement?”

“If you give me twenty years of freedom, then I will give you twenty years of freedom, after my time is up.”

A disgusted look took over the dragon’s hideous face. “How do I know you won’t cheat me?” Flames licked between his teeth and he drew close to the man.

Huram backed away once more, his Adam’s apple bobbing. Lifting a hand he took another cautious step back. “I swear by my soul I will give you freedom.”

The dragon chuckled. “I will have your sssoul one way or another, but I will take your futile oath.” How stupid humans were! He laughed inwardly. Snaking his head closer, his black tongue tested the air. He placed one of his large black wings behind Huram, cutting off further escape. “But you must give me thirty yearsss. I need time to finish building my army.”

“Twenty-five years. No more, no less.” Huram said raising his chin, his eyes full of defiance. But behind the defiance, his soul quivered and squirmed. Diabolos hardly held back his glee, his hatred. The man annoyed him terribly. But he must keep him; to use him as a pawn, at least until the man had a spawn of his own. Then he could dispose of him as he wished.

Snorting a stream of smoke in the man’s face, he gave him an irritated nod. “Fine. I’ll give you your twenty yearsss if you give me my twenty-five.”

“When the moon waxes to it’s fullest then you will give me my freedom.” Huram turned to leave and Diabolos lifted his wing, allowing him to exit. The man left, closing the door behind him. The sound of chains rattling signaled that the door was being locked once more.

Diabolos sat down on the floor and curled his tail about his feet. A chuckle, cold and cruel, drifted from his mouth. He could wait a mere twenty years, all the while using Huram as his puppet. It was a mere breath of wind to him, an immortal dragon. What the foolish human did not know was that he, the great Diabolos, was the inspiration that whispered in his ear, the one who held full control. He chuckled again.

“Yesss little human, and in that time we will sssee who is the mossst powerful.” Diabolos hissed, a grotesque smile lifting the corners of his mouth.

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4 replies

  1. WOW!! This looks sooo cool!! The illusion to Satan as a dragon (at least that’s the impression I am getting) is very well done. The only thing I would point out is that you say the doors are large, heavy, and chained, but one man comes in through those doors. Doesn’t really add up in my mind.

    Other than that, I can’t wait to read the rest!

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  2. First off, I love it!
    Books with Dragons have be written so carefully, in my opinion, otherwise they tend to make the dragons like puppies, or the story itself is not so good so I don’t tend to touch those books ( though there are some good ones that I have). You have written Diabolos very well, he has enough mystery to keep him interesting and the reader has enough information on him that any questions they have can wait, for now.

    I did notice few things that might improve the story further.

    When Huram first enters the scene, it is written ‘The scowl on his face marred what could have been handsome features.’
    I do a have a few questions about this; I don’t understand the ‘could have been’. Is something prohibiting his features from being handsome besides the scowl? If so, what is it? If not, perhaps change ‘could have been’ to something like ‘the almost handsome features.’

    “Because I am restlesss. I need to go above ground. The time is near. My army is growing. I can feel it,”
    Diabolos hisses a lot, add a few more s’s to ‘time is near’.
    I also think your last three sentences would flow better if the word order were changed a little. Maybe something more like ‘The time is near; I can feel it. My army is growing.’

    Those are my critiques, keep writing and learning!

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  3. Yakira,

    Your prose is excellent and flows well. I found it intriguing and would read on.

    Since your writing is already polished, I don’t have many details to point out, just a few POV issues and some minor details.

    It is clear that you are writing from the dragon’s point of view. Would he consider himself “the dragon”? Maybe you should start out with his name and make it clear from the descriptions as the story continues that he is a dragon.

    From his POV, would he be able to see that his eyes are dark and soulless, filled with countless evils, etc?
    Is “with impatience” necessary. The interior monologue that follows the phrase shows that he is getting impatient.

    “A wicked smile crept onto his face.” This puts the reader outside of the dragon, looking at his face.

    I agree with another commenter about “could have been handsome features.” Maybe “otherwise handsome features.”

    When using “The man asked” as a speaker tag, you need lower case – “the man asked.”

    I found all of the extended uses of “s” annoying. Maybe you could start the dialogue with, “Diabolos extended every S with a long hiss.” Then you wouldn’t have to add the extra letters.

    If you find it necessary to use a speaker tag, insert it as early as possible in the paragraph, as in “Diabolos answered” as early as possible, like this: “Because I am restless, Diabolos answered. “I need to go above ground …”

    In this case, I don’t think you need a tag at all if you write it as follows:

    “Because I am restless. I need to go above ground. The time is near. My army is growing. I can feel it.” Diabolos stopped his pacing and looked the man in the eye, his ears flat. “You know I cannot go anywhere without your consent.”

    Also, if you write “flattening his ears” instead of “his ears flat,” that will keep readers in the dragon’s POV.

    Punctuate the speaker tag as follows: “Yes, I know,” the man said, smirking.

    As above, you don’t need a speaker tag at all if you write it this way:

    “Yes, I know.” The man smirked. “But what I don’t know is …”

    “The dragon growled dangerously”

    How does a dragon growl dangerously? I think you can leave the adverb out. The fact that he digs his claws into stone shows that he is dangerous.

    “Diabolos’ colorless eyes burned with flames” Again, how can he see his own eyes?

    “his black tongue slid between equally dark teeth.” This puts readers outside the dragon, looking back at him. Make it active like this – “Diabolos slid his black tongue out and back in.”

    “Diabolos snorted a stream of smoke through flaring nostrils.”

    Activate like this – “Diabolos flared his nostrils and snorted a stream of smoke.”

    “A disgusted look took over the dragon’s hideous face.”

    This puts readers outside of the dragon, looking at him, which harms POV.

    “Flames licked between his teeth” – Can Diabolos see this?

    “But you must give me thirty yearsss. I need time to finish building my army.”

    Earlier, he said “the time is near,” which seems to contradict needing thirty years.

    “it’s fullest” – Delete the apostrophe.

    “Diabolos sat down on the floor” – No need for “down.”

    That’s it. Keep up the good work!

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  4. Thank you all so much! You’ve been a great help!

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