Wednesday, January 2, 2013

January IWSG - Critique Me Deuce

Today is IWSG hosted by the awesome Alex J Cavanaugh! If you want to learn more and join in, check it out here.

Can you believe we all made it to 2013 and survived 2012 and all the crazy talk about the end of the world!? I know, me either!

I am posting my revised update from my post on Dec 19th. On 12/19 I posted a very rough draft of my first 1000 words. I had many people email critiques and I had tons of fun doing it. Here it is... my revised first chapter. So, you know, it's nore than 1000 words. This of course is not set in stone. Be honest and let me know what you think.


My sister only knew how to do a few things right, conjure protective and healing spells, wield black magic, and annoy the hell out of me.
Like now. She stirred the ambers on the fire while humming along with her obnoxious instrumental music she knew I hated.
            I reached out to grab her iPod, but stopped. A chill tickled up my spine until it found its perch at the nape of my neck. I tried to brush it off with a shrug but it sat there, beckoning.
            “He’s out there, isn’t he?” Rena pulled out her ear buds. Her eyes scanned the tree line behind me. She could feel my unease.
            I nodded. “You know he is.” I couldn’t look at her. I couldn’t look into those eyes that were mine, those lips which moved like mine. She was me, but not me, my twin.
            Rena stabbed at the coals some more with the poker before clicking the red button at the end of the silver rod. It folded up in on itself several times before she tucked it into her boot. “You shouldn’t have gotten so close. I told you he was playing possum. You never listen to me,” she scolded in her most quiet voice.
            “Berating me isn’t going to fix what happened back there, Rena. I’m aware of how dangerous Baquarats are and you of all people shouldn’t be giving any lectures on this side, or any side of danger for that matter.”
            She flinched.
I cringed. It probably would have hurt less if I had hit her instead. Even I knew that was way below the belt. I went to speak but for once I couldn’t find anything more than the simple word, “Sorry.”
            Rena crumpled up into herself and slumped onto the oversized log she was sitting on. A single tear trickled down her slender check. It held for a moment before it plummeted its long descent to the cold ground below. “I know Reese.” She sniffled.
            Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Why did you say that? My thoughts rattled inside my head. I tried not to blame Rena for what happened to our parents, to our aunt, my boyfriend and his family. She didn’t know her choice to save my life would have brought death to them.
The thought made my head hurt which reminded me how much my body ached. I envied Rena for stealing the first of the night’s sleep. Slumber looked so peaceful, and I willingly wanted to let it overcome me but seeing how Rena beat me to it, it became apparent I was taking first watch.
I stood, brushed the dead vegetation from my hands and sauntered over to her. I lifted Rena’s head, sliding her water skin under her cheek and twisted the cork tightly down into the opening to make sure the weight of her head wouldn’t spill the contents out. I wouldn’t have worried worry so much if it were only water. We could refill it down by the stream we passed about a mile back but Rena’s water skin carried her healing elixir which was now about half full. Thanks to me.
Rena swatted at the night air after I placed her head down on the skin, and she mumbled something that sounded like it came straight out of the movie, Hocus Pocus. She did that often - talked in her sleep. It was mostly spells or wards. Sometimes, though, she cried out for them – our parents. Tonight it was spells.


“Få ned!”
 My head snapped to attention involuntarily. I must have dozed off.
Rena sprung from her log to a fighting stance. “Få ned!”
Få ned? “Rena?” Lazily I stood beside her. My head spun. “Why are you shouting?”
“Rena?” Shifting in front of her, I noticed her eyes churned a foggy magenta color. She still slept, traveling through the reverie realm. I knew better. Why else would she have yelled “Get down!” in Swedish while standing like she was about to take out an entire army. She didn’t even speak fluent Swedish.
“Come on Rena, let’s lay you back down,” I coaxed.
She followed me in her trance. Her hands blindly felt her place on the log as she snuggled back down on her wool skin throw and water skin.
            My fingers trembled through my hair while deep breaths filled my lungs repeatedly as I tried to calm down from this sudden adrenaline rush. To no avail I reluctantly knelt on the ground next to Rena. I slid my right hand under her tunic and stopped over a lung. My left hand found her pulse at her temple. My eyes relaxed as I timed my inhales and exhales with hers. I let my energy flow into her body while it equally pushed her relaxed energy into mine. My heart slackened along with the horrendous throb in my head and the catch in my breathing subsided.
            I turned to face the open forest with my back firmly against the log. Calmness finally welcomed me and I accepted.


            Reese wake up!”
            “Reese, wake up!”
As my eyes fight to flutter open, Rena materializes where a male figure once stood in my dream. “Reese! The Baquarat’s back! Wake up!”
            The smell of smoke had me gasping. “What is that? What’s going on?” Sweat pooled at the base of my neck and the small of my back.
            “I – I didn’t know what else to do,” Rena stammered. We were surrounded by a ring of fire that swept throw the air like dancing gypsies who’s hair burn orange and blue. “You fell asleep!”
            “Arrows?” I pointed to her sheath.
            She nodded. Another talent of my brightly gifted twin? Archery. Why weapons when we can manipulate magic? Some parts of this blessed, beautiful sphere have Black Out spots such as this weald forest my sister and I had stumbled into. As long as we were touching something Earth Bound we could not use magic.
            Old pine needles pierced my palms as I struggled to get to my feet. “So genius, how do you propose we get out of this?” I rubbed the debris from my hands and grabbed my own metallic poker from my boot. With a slight flick of my wrist, the short rod elongated into a slender, lethal rattan.
            “Fly?” Her face mimicked that of a toddler. Sweet yet pathetic.
            “Sorry sweetness, I forgot thy broom at home,” I said with a curtsey and twist of my lip.
            Her eye roll spoke volumes but not as much as the growl that permeated from the opposite side of the flames. “You know what I mean.”
            “How long will the fire hold?” I wasn’t one to panic. Have a mild heart attack – maybe. Panic – never. I would never have instructed this fire that’s for sure. I’m more aggressive and willing to fight while Rena was more passive and logical. The fire would have been brilliant if its burn grew outward, keeping the Baquarat as far away as possible, but the orange and blue flames licked the ground towards us.
            “Until it burns off.” Her eyes scanned the circle before settling back on me.  “Or us,” she urged. “Reese, you’re gonna have to foreshadow us outta here.”
            “I was hoping you wouldn’t ask me that. The Queen will likely find us.” At this point I wasn’t sweating from the flames. The thought of me having to do something I knew I shouldn’t had me sweating bullets.
            “Reese!” Rena’s single word brought nothing but fear to my body and numbness to my fingers. I closed my eyes not wanting to look up. God please don’t –
            With a thud and a shift in the earth below my feet, the Baquarat stood at the edge of the inner circle. Erected over eight feet tall with immensely long arms, and two rows of razor sharp teeth including a pair of saber tusks, the beast looked like he could have passed for a large cuddly polar bear who walked on its hind legs. And that was on his good days. Any other day he smelled bad, was covered in blood, and looked like a white and red tie-died Minotaur.
Today he was healed and hyped up on Völva blood. And this was entirely my fault.
            Two nights ago, his body was in a heap at the side of Codanus Bay. Rena had said not to get too close, but being the older twin I decided not to listen.
            Long story, short, my dumb ass had unwillingly let the ailing brute bite a chunk out of my leg and swallow it whole. Now my blood courseed through his veins, drawing him to me like a compass. And he now stood between me and my sister.
            “Gather your things Rena. We’re getting out of here!” I shouted from across the circle. That mild heart attack was starting to settle in.
            Her movement didn’t even make him flinch. He was intoxicated by my blood and could care less if my sister ran out of here and left me to die.
            “Come and get me you freak.” It was barely audible but I could have sworn he smiled at me. “Get up the tree Rena!” I shouted, my rattan smacking against the dirt.
            She nodded.
            Using our powers would be so helpful about now. I shook my head to clear my thoughts, I couldn’t think about that now. The Baquarat’s crouch gave my heart a jolt, a jolt that came too late. Within his one leap, the brute had knocked me on my back. He towered over me and we were now face to face.
            His hot breath was sticky on my face and smelled of road kill. I didn’t want to imagine how painful being eaten was going to feel until he started caressing me with his tongue. “Oh hell!”
            “What? What is he doing?” Rena yelled from across the twenty foot opening of the ring. The south side of the ring started to burn up the base of the tree.
            A small purr came from the beast’s belly, almost kitten like. “He’s licking me! And now – now he’s – he’s purring?” Drool saturated my face. As I scraped off as much drool as I could, I could only get small glimpses of Rena on her roost. She fumbled with something in her pack.
            “According to the book, it appears he’s courting you!” Her voice chimed high, as if trying to suppress a giggle. That sent a cold rage through my body. She’s reading from the book! I’m gonna kill her!
            “Oh my freaking – what is that!” A long prickly shaft appeared between his legs.
            “Well, I’m afraid he is now trying to –”
            “Yeah! I get it! Could you possibly think of a way to get me out of here? He has my arms pinned!” His grip stopped right below my wrist. I flipped my hand so my rattan knocked the Baquarat on his head but my feeble attempts didn’t even make him flinch.
            The beast’s head shot up stopping the purring cold. I didn’t know what Rena had done but she had his attention. His grasp on my arms and legs loosened. Instinctively my hips pivoted to the left, sliding my right leg out from under him. I did the only thing I knew to do in that situation. I kneed him, manhood and all.
The brute wavered for a moment, long enough for me to wiggle out from underneath him and get to my feet. The tree, where Rena was perched, seemed to take forever to reach.  I tapped my big toes inside of my boots, releasing the toe spikes so I could climb to the first branch.
“He’s coming Reese! Hurry!” Rena stood on a large, thick branch about ten feet off the ground. All I needed to do was reach her before he got to me and we might have a chance to make it out of here.
He was coming alright. He pounded the ground on three of his limbs while holding his manhood in his other.
“Grab it!” I slapped my rattan in her palm.
Her face pinched from the pain.
I pressed the collapse button. It folded up on itself while pulling me up it the same time. With my feet positioned securely on the branch I finally noticed what Rena had done to get the Baquarat’s attention. “What did you do?”
“The book said the only thing that attracts it is blood. So, I cut myself.” Her smile was faint. She knew what she did was correct. She was waiting on confirmation.
“Nice job! I wouldn’t have thought of that. Are you ready?” I owed her that much.
She nodded.
“On the count of three we jump.” I grabbed my water skin, wool cover, and pack from her and held on to her hand. “One. Two. Three!”
We leapt into the air like two birds. Rena countered my force and pulled herself into me, wrapping her arms around my sternum. “Here he comes!” She shouted as she peered over my shoulder. With my back to the tree, I could only imagine what she could see.
I pointed my rattan to the sky and shouted, “Augur!” The forest around us shook and shifted as our bodies were ripped into tiny molecules. For a moment I felt the tug at my back and then it was gone. Dark skies turned to starry skies as our bodies took form once again. White stars zoomed past us. And just like the last time we foreshadowed, our feet landed on foreign soil in a time we had to figure out and adjust to. For this is where we will live until we can fathom why we were sent here in the first place. Foreshadowing is by choice but the place and time are by divine intervention.


  1. You did some excellent work on this, Dani! There are still a few places it could be tighter, but it's looking good!

  2. You are so brave Dani! Putting your work out there is still so hard for me. Great job here- best of luck with the rest of your revisions. Happy 2013. Hope it's great for you!

  3. I thought your opening was packed with suspense. I also enjoyed Reese's voice. The end left me with one thought. What in the heck happens next? Keep up the excellent work. :)

  4. Well, no more being courted by a Baquarat. Excellent piece.

  5. Great improvements. Are you still looking for critiques? Or just general comments?

    I like how you've got just a little bit of story there to get us some info and then jump into the baquarat thing.

    Btw: are baquarats real (as in are they in mythology somewhere) or did you just make them up? Just curious.

  6. Ooo, that new opening is nice. And I can't believe we made it to 2013 either. Wow. haha Happy New Year!

  7. Great piece of work. I've never heard of a Baquarat before. Happy 2013!


I heart me some good comments... and pumpkin spice latte's too!