I am adding an extra piece to critique this week. Enjoy.
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The Unraveling of a Prince – by Pamela
The slow lapping of the waves was rhythmic, like a lullaby, murmuring as if putting the day to sleep, and covering the morning glory with the starry blanket of night. The moon hung like a baby’s mobile. Even the rough mountains around Bethesda Showers softened in the presence of such quiet majesty. Everything was still and silent, except for the metallic boots that crunched against the sticks and against the tree roots and Coal Mountain’s pebbles and rocks.
Five men approached, wearing black cloaks woven by magic that protected them from detection. They walked three steps behind their leader Mortem, who for his part barely looked at the scenery. He only had eyes for Coal Mountain.
Now that is an impressive sight! Mortem thought. And it was. Some called it the gem of the islands. It was a mountain like no other, easily distinguishable by its orange, red, and yellow coats. It made Mortem inexplicably giddy.
Those following him temporarily wondered if the full moon had made him mad, but while they entertained thoughts of coups and escapes, Mortem set his thoughts on the mountain.
A fitting place from which to set the world on fire, Mortem thought.
The others wished they could’ve hacked into the vast electric train systems or stolen a car that could brave Coal Mountain’s tricky slopes and curves. No such luck. The few vehicles which rose to the challenge were government operated.
Defiantly, the five went up—up against the laws of gravity, up into the heart of darkness, up as loudly as if they meant to break every stick and pebble in their way. When they reached the top, each henchman got to work. Glaucon, the shy newbie, magically manipulated his tablet’s geography hologram. Rob had his eyes on Bethesda University’s residents, hoping to locate the heat signature of the Prince family heir and preemptively strike against a future threat. Silver Smith knelt to set up the telescope to see farther than science would allow.
the second-in-command, folded his hands behind his back as he looked up at Mortem. Mortem didn’t pay him any mind, preferring to look up as the skies passed the Bethesda Showers, a colorful set of waterfalls that led down to the shores of the isle of rising smoke, the isle their chosen mount sat.
“Mortem,” the second said. He’d hoped that his superior would turn to him and discuss their unfolding plan.
“Not yet,” Mortem said, still unwilling to turn his face an inch closer to Siegel.
Siegel pressed his lips, but he knew not to force a conversation with such a brutal man. He looked away and noticed Silver, with his back to them, was waving his hands to push the telescope lens farther. They needed to see this first domino fall. Bethesda University—their first target—was a large place, with spires that almost reached heaven. But more importantly, it was full of the brightest and best magicae from the all four points of the compass, and especially from every well-to-do family in the North. Yes, this target would do nicely.
Some believe in chiseling stone until it reflected their image. Siegel prefers dynamite.
At Bethesda University’s chief library, Doron passed long rows of tables and bookshelves as he trudged toward the lounge section. Most would think this kind of silence eerie, but Doron didn’t mind. Silence was nice. Much nicer than the hectic energy of procrastinators and grouchy snark of night owls stuck in morning classes. His best friend, Ivan, fiercely disagreed, preferring to study at a loud café or a boat amid the sea.
Stupid hippie, Doron thought with a smile.
Usually, Doron was able to drag Ivan here, at least at night. Cafés closed their doors by this time and the natural light overlooking the seas blinked out for some rest, so there were fewer places left to study. But today was Friday, and Ivan chose sleep over getting ahead, never mind that finals are next week.
Then again, though the school housed the future Einsteins and Shakespeares of the world, it also housed students that firmly believed in Friday night parties. At least Ivan was sane enough to choose sleep over turning his brain to mush.
“You’re already two years ahead of the rest of us—just relax!” Ivan always said.
Doron didn’t think Ivan understood how horrible it felt to fall short of your own expectations. Ivan never felt stressed.
Grudgingly, Doron sat by the Corinthian pillars, letting his body lounge on the soft half-couch, half-chair seats. He put his backpack on the seat beside him, taking out his laptop and his automatically-refilling coffee thermos.
Doron almost smiled at the thermos, thinking back to when his brother snuck him coffee before his bar mitzvah (was that really six years ago?) and now, at 18, he was still hooked. He sighed and wished Ivan were here again. It’d been a difficult month with his oldest brother missing. He’d left a note saying not to look for him, but Doron couldn’t help but worry—none of them could! He pursed his lips and shook his head. It wasn’t time to worry.
He opened it at the dog-eared page and ran his hand through his black locks. Crunch time.
A few hundred kilometers away, Mortem hummed with excitement. He’d tear down a kingdom and rebuild it in his image. He frowned minutely. He’d have to kill his brother to do it, but he supposed everything came with a cost. A brief image of Doron’s bloody corpse flashed through his mind, but he shook his head. The cost would be worth it. It had to be.
Categories: Critique Group