Critique Group – The Heir, the Prince, and the Traitor

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The Heir, the Prince, and the Traitor – by Hope

Eradicate the fourth child of Their Majesties.

The words rang in Fileus’s head. Each word pounded against his skull. He had never killed a child before, specifically one who wasn’t even a day old, let alone even born.

From the roof of a building near the Palace of Carnet in the kingdom of Kineallen, he peered through a glasscope at the bloodstone palace.

Three floors up, five windows to the right, he recited to himself. With a slight turn, the glasscope zoomed in on a massive balcony and a ceiling-to-floor glass window. The curtains had been pulled to the side. Servants in white hustled in and out of view but then they all stopped and bowed. A wet rag of a man appeared. Fileus recognized the mop of blond hair on top.

High King Lennon.

From his view, the king did not seem as intimidating as he appeared to the public. All confidence and bravado were gone as Lennon raced across the room and out of view. The servants paused and all turned in the same direction.

The minutes dragged on. Fileus’s hand shook, blurring his view. The cold bit at his skin. He wiped the rain from his eyes and cleared the tip of the lens with a portion of his damp shirt, and readjusted his view. One of the servants bounced on her toes, another clapped, and the others wore big smiles on their faces.

The child had arrived.

Fileus lowered the glasscope and turned up the collar of his trench coat. Now to find a way in. Guards in silver and red armor patrolled every hall and servants would be everywhere in the hidden passageways rooted throughout the palace. He would need to make a precise calculation and end up on one of the balconies. The dark of the day and sheets of rain would conceal his appearance. Who would even think to watch the outer wall of the palace or the balconies? Even if he were caught, he wasn’t worried. He would simply disappear.

Fileus peered through the glasscope once more. Lennon cradled the newborn in his arms, the three princes crowding him. He held the infant up, displaying her to everyone in the room. Another man, the steward, cried in the corner. Fileus tore his eyes away. It was just a child. One child out of the thousands on this world, but this one in particular Arkhill wanted dead. But why? Arkhill would not convey the reason, but he said it was important. The child could not live, and Fileus had to obey.

He put the glasscope away in a satchel tied to his waist, folded in the flaps of his coat, and closed his eyes. The power in his veins sparked to life and flowed through his body, warming his chilled skin. The ground disappeared beneath his feet. A moment later, the ground returned, and he opened his eyes.

A massive, dark velvet bed occupied the center of the back wall of the room. A portrait of the royal family hung above the headboard. A fire blazed below a mantle with a sofa in front. Fileus’s skin turned cold.

The king’s chambers.

He cursed to himself. Once more, he closed his eyes. When the ground returned, he opened them and smiled. A wooden nest with furs and thick blankets occupied the center of the back wall. A small chandelier with crystal figurines dangled over the nest. Dolls and wooden animals laid by a sofa, and a small fire was at the far wall with a metal gate in front. The nursery. Luck was on his side. No one was in the room but for how long? A maidservant could come in at any moment with the child.

His eyes jumped around the room. Fileus turned around and sighed in relief. A door. Upon opening it, his heart filled with joy. Little outfits hung from a rod and a small wardrobe sat to the right. He hustled in and closed the door.

***

How long must they dote upon it? His muscles were tight and his back stiff. No one had entered the room for hours. How late is it? It must have been nearly dawn.

A door shut, and he froze.

“Shall I call the guards, my lord?” a female voice called.

“Not yet. I want a moment with her first.”

“Of course, my lord.” Hinges squeaked and a door closed.

Fileus’s heart pounded. He held his breath and strained his ears. A soft whimper of a cry came from the other side.

“Shh. It’s all right, my dear. It’s all right.”

“Is she well?” a new voice inquired. Fileus recognized it. The High Queen Elinor.

“Oh, she’s perfectly all right.”

The hem of a dress rustled across the floor. “She’s so beautiful.”

“You and Lennon must be so happy.”

“We are. And so are the boys. They’re so pleased to have a sister.”

No one spoke for some time.

“We should allow her to sleep,” suggested Queen Elinor.

“Yes, you’re right. I just can’t seem to put her down.”

“Here.” Another whimper. “There, there, my little girl. I’ll have Lizzy come in shortly after she’s cleaned up. She’ll watch over her, so I think we’ll only need one guard posted at the door.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.” Hinges squeaked. “You should retire as well, Your Majesty. It’s been a long night. You shouldn’t even be standing.”

“I’m all right, Anthony. You don’t always have to worry about me.”
“Yes, I do. Now, please go rest, or must I inform Lennon you are out of bed.”

“All right, I’m going.” A pause. “Sweet dreams, Alaine. I love you, my little bird.”

After a moment, the door closed, and silence fell. Fileus let out his breath. Quietly, he turned the knob and stepped into the room. The door back into the main corridor was shut. The fireplace remained dead. He tiptoed up to the nest and peered down at the newborn.

Her eyes were closed. Her small, red fists clung to the white hornethide wrapped around her. Fileus reached down and picked her up. What had they called her? Alaine? Absentmindedly, he rocked Alaine in his arms. Never in his life had he held an infant; a child a bit older, but never one like this. She was so small, so weak, so innocent. But he had an order. His fingers slowly wrapped around her neck and squeezed.

Why did Arkhill want her dead? Did he see a future for her he did not agree with? What would she do? Who would she become? She was only a child, not even a day old. Her red face turned an even darker shade. Her mouth opened but no air drew in or out.

His eyes blurred over. His hand holding her neck shook. He couldn’t disobey Arkhill. The demigod had been like a father to him, taking him under his wing after his parents’ death, feeding him, sheltering him, caring for him. But this little girl . . .

His hand fell limp and she sucked in air. Her mouth opened wide and a wail drew out. Anyone could hear her and be in the room any second. He had to think. Arkhill needed to know he had ended her life.

An idea sparked.

With his free hand, he snapped his fingers and a flame flickered to life in his hand. Fire licked at his fingers, but there was no pain and it did not eat away at his skin. He lit the nest and the flames went to work eating away the furs, the wood, and spreading to the floor. Fileus pulled Alaine into his coat, closed his eyes, and disappeared.

 

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17 replies

  1. I love it! I like how you had practical details in there, like wiping his sight device. Sometimes I find that fantasy books forget those aspects.
    I do hope the protagonist knows what he’s doing, because a burning human would let off an unmistakable stench! But as a trained assassin I’m sure he knows what he’s doing.
    Also, could his shoes have left mud or water on the floor? Just a thought.
    It depends on how rich your royalty are, but would they perhaps have oiled their hinges? Sometimes castles had sqeauky hinges and floorboards as an alarm against sneaky intruders, so is that perhaps what you had in mind?
    I love the storyline already…I’m getting tired of the female assassin in a leather catsuit trope, so go you for being creative! At this point, if o picked this up at the library, I would keep reading.

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  2. This is awesome! I really enjoyed it. You pulled me in from the first sentence and did a good job slowly revealing details to the reader. And it’s a really cool concept.

    My only minor critique is that a couple sentences all sort of sound the same when you’re describing something. For example, when you describe the Kings chambers. All the sentences begin with ‘A’ and have a similar structure.

    Otherwise, fantastic! I would totally keep reading if I came across this book in the store. Maybe even buy it! 😊

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  3. That was an awesome story! Please say there is more to the story! It would be such a great book.

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  4. Hope,

    You did a great job with this. You have an excellent handle on so many issues.

    You started with a good hook, established the point of view, provided a goal for the focal character, paced the action well, and added a dose of intrigue and danger.

    Well done.

    I have a line-by-line critique here – http://www.daviscrossing.com/CritiqueFebruary22018.docx

    Some points are pretty important, but some are quite picky. I think it will help. Let me know if you have any questions.

    You’re an excellent writer. Keep up the good work.

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  5. Hi Hope,

    Love the idea (can kind of see where this will go, and I’m intrigued 🙂 ). Overall it flowed smoothly, though I was getting confused/stuck on the dialogue.

    For instance, in this section:

    “Shh. It’s all right, my dear. It’s all right.”

    “Is she well?” a new voice inquired. Fileus recognized it. The High Queen Elinor.

    “Oh, she’s perfectly all right.”

    The hem of a dress rustled across the floor. “She’s so beautiful.”

    “You and Lennon must be so happy.”

    “We are. And so are the boys. They’re so pleased to have a sister.”

    No one spoke for some time.

    I realize that the High King, Lennon, is talking to the High Queen, but when you say “You and Lennon must be so happy” I don’t understand who says this. It seems like something a third party would say since the High King and Queen are the ones who should be proud of the birth, but my impression is that the Queen is saying this. See my confusion?

    Another area with the same confusion:

    “Here.” Another whimper. “There, there, my little girl. I’ll have Lizzy come in shortly after she’s cleaned up. She’ll watch over her, so I think we’ll only need one guard posted at the door.”

    “Yes, Your Majesty.” Hinges squeaked. “You should retire as well, Your Majesty. It’s been a long night. You shouldn’t even be standing.”

    “I’m all right, Anthony. You don’t always have to worry about me.”
    “Yes, I do. Now, please go rest, or must I inform Lennon you are out of bed.”

    So, the Queen is holding the baby, but then it seems you introduce a third party, Anthony. Is he a servant/son/lover of the queen (“Yes I do [need to worry about you].”)? Where was he during the conversation between the King and Queen? Was he already in the room? Came in when the king left?

    Can’t wait to see where this goes. Would love to keep reading!

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    • Thanks AJ! I can see how that can be confusing. Lennon wasn’t in the room. It was first Anthony, who is the steward of the castle and a close family friend, and then the queen joins them and he says that they should both get some rest. Lennon wasn’t in the room at all. I’ll go back and try to find a way for the queen to casually introduce him.

      Thank you for your comments!

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  6. Hope,

    I enjoyed your submission. If I found this book in a library I would definitely keep reading. I do agree with AJ’s comment. I was a bit confused as I was reading that portion. I also liked Amy’s comments. I would not have thought of some of the points that she brought up. I hope you do continue with this story. I can see your writing has real potential. Keep up the good work.

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  7. Wow. Just… wow. This was amazing! I’m very excited to read more. Is this a rewrite of the Orb of Unlimited Power? Felius is in both submissions, so I’m curious how this is going to turn out (and I like the name “Alaine”; it seems more unique than “Elaine”).

    In addition to some previous suggestions, when Felius gets to the balcony, why does he grin? I thought that he didn’t want to kill a baby, so why the sudden change in emotions?

    Also, in the section that AJ talked about, I think that there were some unnecessary paragraph breaks. I.e., one person was talking in multiple consecutive paragraphs. Or maybe there were more than just two people in the room.

    Lastly, when you named High King Lennon, were you thinking of John Lennon or Vladamir Lenin?

    That was a lame joke. Thank you for this! Are you going to post this on The Inklings website? I haven’t read those stories yet, but I hope to when I have the time. You’re an amazing writer. Keep it up! 📜🖋

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    • Thanks, Daniel! And it is! The draft I sent in then was the 2nd draft. This one is the 7th. It’s been under a lot of construction since them.

      I just had to change the E to an A. Elaine always looked so delicate? Not sure how else to describe it. But I like the A a lot better.

      As for your first question, he doesn’t appear on a balcony as he would’ve hoped. He shows up first in the king’s chambers, but then in the nursery. He smiles because he’s glad that he got the place right.

      Yeah, I’ll fix that section with the two people talking. It was the steward Anthony and the high queen.

      lol! I honestly did not think of them. I just really liked the name Lennon:)

      The girl who runs the Inkings hasn’t been active in the blog-universe for a few months now. I probably won’t since I am nearing the final stages of this story and thinking about publishing. But I’d like to continue on with the group. It was really fun reading everyone’s story and some I really want to finish them. Maybe I could write some short stories that take place in this world.

      Thanks again for your comments and encouragement! I really appreciate it:)

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      • Thank you! That answers my questions. I will definitely be waiting for the book to come out, and I don’t get excited to read a book unless what I know about it is really good. Thanks again. God bless!

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  8. I absolutely loved reading this excerpt. The snatches of magic and the reference to a demigod made so casually by the narrator made it seem only logical in the storyworld! 😀
    I loved the conflict you had with Fileus. I want to know why he has to kill the infant [aka why Arkhill commands him kill the infant], a Royal infant no less; what “group” Arkhill and Fileus are a part of and why they oppose [it seems] the High King and Queen? How many assasination missions has he been on if he’s referenced killing young ones before? And now that he hasn’t killed Alaine [like that name 🙂 ], what’s he going to do with her — besides faking her death in the nursery?
    I Want Answers! Please? XD
    Great job and keep up the good work! 😀

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