Critique Group – The Blind Seer

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The Blind Seer – by Alahna

The sword sliced through the man’s throat, blood arching in a glittering spray. It splashed onto Ulrich’s already blood-stained tunic and the enemy fell with a gurgle. Ulrich wiped his blade clean on the grass and slid it into its sheath. Staring out across the field, he saw that the enemy had fallen; the wounded receiving medical aid while the survivors threw down their weapons. Above it all hung the thick, cloying smell of blood, sweat and earth. The commander took a deep breath. This he thought is what battle is; the rush of the fight and the healthy fear of Death.

“Commander,” a voice called. Ulrich shook his head and turned to the young man approaching.

“What is it, Alexander?”

“Sir, a few of the men and I were searching the enemy wagons for supplies. And . . . well . . .” the young man paused.

“Speak up, son, what is it?”

“I’m afraid it’s hard to explain, Sir. You had better come and see for yourself.”

Ulrich followed the boy across the mutilated field into the forest. They passed the ruined remains of catapults and carcasses before coming to the supply wagons. Soldiers in stained green tabards called to one another as they passed around wine, meat, and bread. They nodded to their commander as he passed, but Ulrich ignored them and continued after his guide. The duo approached the last wagon in line. Here the boy stopped. Ulrich studied the wagon.

Unlike the others, it was covered on all sides with thick planks of oak, and a door of thick metal occupied the back wall. A chain lay tangled on the grass, its end chipped and broken. Ulrich pulled open the door and was instantly hit by the smell of mildew and sweat. He peered into the darkness and the low light revealed a shape huddled in the far corner. Grimy feet peeped out from the folds of dark rags and another pair of chains hung from a ring buried in the wall.

Ulrich watched as the rags shifted, the sound of metal clanking against metal under the cloth, revealing a head of tangled hair hanging in front of a dirty nose.

“Do not fear,” he said softly, “You are safe now.”

The prisoner shifted again and Ulrich saw a pair of thin, delicate hands locked in thick manacles.

“What is your name?”

No sound. Ulrich reached into the wagon and gently touched the hand. It shrank  from him and the figure huddled farther into the corner.

“Do not fear,” he repeated, “all is well. My name is Commander Ulrich of Castle Crannog and I swear that my men will not harm you. What is your name?”

A raspy whisper answered him.

“I beg your pardon?”

“My name is Myrna.” The voice was quiet, but decidedly feminine.

“Well then, Myrna,” Ulrich said as he reached to unhook the chains from the wall, “May I help you out of those chains, and perhaps we could find you something to eat.”

The pale hand reached out to Ulrich and he took it in his, pulling Myrna towards the back of the wagon. She stepped down and clung tightly to Ulrich’s hand, her face hidden under a dark hood. “Who are all these men?”

Ulrich glanced around and started when he saw the small crowd gathered, curious to know what was inside the fortified wagon.

“These are my men,” he said, “and none of them shall harm you.”

He glared at all before nodding to one of the officers present who began shooing the others back to the abandoned battlefield.

“Myrna,” he turned back to the young woman, “may I take you to my tent? I shall have the physician sent for to assess your injuries and some food and drink brought up.”

“. . . All right.”

Ulrich stepped away from the wagon and instantly, Myrna tripped and fell with a cry.

“My apologies,” Ulrich said as he helped her back to her feet, “I should have been more careful. Perhaps I should fetch a horse.”

“Yes, I think that would be best.”

Ulrich nodded and, spotting a wandering soldier, called for a horse to be brought. Turning back to Myrna, he saw that her hood had fallen back when she fell, and a dirty strip of linen was wrapped around her eyes. It must be a blind to keep her disoriented so that she cannot escape, he thought. Reaching behind her head, Ulrich untied the linen. Myrna screamed as the cloth dropped from her face, hiding her face in her hands. Ulrich stared in horror at the young woman, the piece of linen still in his hand. For a few brief seconds, two gaping, black holes had stared at him from her pale face where a pair of bright eyes should have been.


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8 replies

  1. Whoa! That is an interesting scene! Love it! 😀 Well done!
    I loved your attention to detail and how you clearly showed the reader what was happening without forcibly telling anything the character would not have done. I am sincerely curious what’s going to happen next, and if I had picked this up at a bookstore, I’d be sure to read on! I’m curious about the title and what happened to Myrna while in captivity and what importance she’ll have now. :}
    Great work! 😀

  2. Thanks, Lexi! What do you think should happen next? What are some questions the section raises in your head (to help me lead the story along)? Thx!

    • You’re welcome! ^_^

      Here are some of my questions that were sparked:
      > Why did the “bad-guys” [whoever they are] have her all bound up and sealed within that wagon? Were they afraid of her getting out and escaping (understandably) or were they afraid of her somehow?
      > What were Ulrich’s men and the opposing force fighting over? Why would Ulrich’s people willingly tend to those who were just fighting them? How would the opposing force respond to such treatment? [Some questions I received on my own writing. 🙂 ]
      > Assuming Myrna is the “Blind Seer”, how did the other side [“bad guys” supposedly] use her / her abilities? I’m assuming they didn’t treat her well.
      > Now that they’ve rescued her, how willing will she be to give them information? Will she open up easily, or will it take her some time to trust them [that they aren’t going to use her like the last group did]?

      Story writing suggestion:
      You may want to add some more writing prior to Ulrich conquering his last foe in the first sentence. Since we have no knowledge of your world as of yet, it might be better if you included some background to why Ulrich and his men are fighting in the first place. Having them prepare to fight the foe (whether it’s a skirmish or a big one) would give your characters a goal and your readers a interest in what’s going to happen next since they have some understanding of what’s going on. Plus, their interactions before the fight can give us an idea of who we’re dealing with and who we should care for.
      As Bryan Davis has said before, starting your story with immediate action isn’t always the best, because you don’t want your readers dropped into the middle of a life or death struggle, thinking, “Whoa! What did I just step into? Who are these people? Where am I? Who are the “good-guys”? Who are the “bad-guys”? etc.” If we don’t get to know the characters first, then we don’t have any attachment to them if they get hurt. I’ve read a couple of stories where I hardly know the character and they’re getting hurt, and I don’t care. It makes me sad. 🙁
      HOWEVER, you do introduce us to several facets of Ulrich very quickly. He’s a ruthless soldier on the battle field and an esteemed commander of his men, and yet he can be tender if needed. 🙂
      [By the way, did Ulrich get hurt in this battle / skirmish? The kinds of wounds he gets could either suggest the kind of fight they were in (their enemies were or weren’t hard) or what kind of warrior Ulrich is compared to the wounds of some of his men after the fight. And it could also foreshadow what they’re up against if they have to face these guys again later on in your story.]

      As for story direction, since I don’t know the story world very well as of yet, I don’t know what is possible. Are we restricted to historical medieval days or is this fantasy and there are dragons lurking in the mountains? 😀 Once I have a better understanding of the story world’s parameters, I might be able to make better suggestions. 🙂

      Keep up the good work! 😀 I hope I didn’t intimidate you. :}

  3. Realization: How did she know the other soldiers were around before Ulrich even knew they were standing around … if she couldn’t “see” them? 😮

  4. Alahna,

    This is a good scene. It kept my interest and made me want more. The appearance of the blind seer really raised the intrigue factor.

    My main concern is starting off with intense action. Sword slashing should be interesting, but in this case it really isn’t because readers don’t know the characters or why they’re in battle. We don’t know what’s at stake, which blunts the action. A bit of an introduction would help.

    Here is a link to my line-by-line critique –

    I hope it helps. Other readers here might find it helpful as well.

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    • As always, Mr. Davis, your help is greatly appreciated. Am definitely going to introduce Ulrich differently. Already have a few ideas.

      What questions came up as you were reading (help me continue the storyline)? And, what are some possible ways the story could go?

      Thank you!!

      • How did she get there and why? Why did she have a blindfold on? Why did taking it off cause such a reaction?

        I didn’t care much about Ulrich.

        I hadn’t thought about where the story could go. That’s your department. 🙂

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