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For this month's writing prompt write a scene using the following sentence to start;

The streets were deserted. Where was everyone? Where had they all gone?

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Our monthly writing tips are written by our very own TerishD. You can read more in Terish's Blog located in "The Abstractions" area of the forum.

Look Back

When not able to write ahead, it helps to look back. In my case I had written a paragraph ahead of the story. What I needed to do was add a section of exposition (talking) presenting some facts. In going back, I realized that I could insert a section where a 'tour' of the surroundings could be done. This allowed for character interaction, story development, and other things that enabled me to present the facts in an entertaining manner.

One should not face a writer's block with the mentality of bursting through it. I have found in my own experience that a writer's block is usually due to my mind indicating that it has a problem in 'channeling' the story. One reason might be a re-imagining of certain story points. Another reason however is that there is a problem in where you are at in the story, so you need to look back and find out the problem with the 'journey' that prevents the tale from advancing.

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 Chapter 2

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Swami


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PostSubject: Chapter 2   March 27th 2009, 8:08 am

This is sub section 2 of chapter 2, it starts off with a bit of info about Alyssa's mentor then is dialogue and actions until the end. I skipped through the part of Alyssa and her uncle walking through the village to the square and watching the sunrise.

Edna Scrimshaw had acquired many epithets around Cobb, such as: The Remedial Sage, the Queen of Tonics, the Spiritual Saviour, and Potion Magnus. Her knowledge of the trade was practically omniscient and everybody knew this. She was talked about by many, and revered by all, and she led the way for brewing throughout Elemenphis, some saying that she could brew a tonic worthy of the gods and nothing less.

Alyssa was learning a great deal from the master of mixtures, for she preferred the art over casting, and hoped to one day take over from the aging lady (it seems the only concoction Edna hadn’t yet discovered was the extremely sought after potion of youth, even though she could easily brew a temporary effect but it would only hold for a short while, until it’s strength dwindled and the drinker would show the signs of age once more).

During the not so busy days she imparted knowledge of the successful brewing of concoctions into the young mind of her apprentice trader. Alyssa’s eyes would always widen whilst she soaked up Mrs. Scrimshaw’s many recipes and methods involved in the blending of ingredients. The young trainee was always fascinated by her teachings and she took her job very seriously.

Every morning Edna could be seen pushing a wooden cart from her home to her place of work. It brimmed with jars filled with gooey liquids that rattled as they were wheeled over bumpy cobble stone paths that lead to the marketplace.

As she pushed her trolley of wonderments towards Alyssa she caught a glimpse of Cyprian walking away into the distance. Turning back she saw her apprentice looking rather down about something, and she had a good idea what. She parked the barrow by her stall and walked over to Alyssa, who by now was staring despondently back at her.

‘You had another nightmare last night, I can tell,’ she said, her voice croaky and hoarse.

‘How do you do that?’ Alyssa asked.

‘Your aura feels conflicted, and your eyes scream verse upon verse of melancholy dear,’ Edna stated. ‘Plus, that frown you’re presenting Gaia with says it all.’

Alyssa dropped her gaze back to the ground. ‘Yes I did and they are getting worse, much worse’ she said, sighing.

‘You want to talk about it? Because you know I’m always ready to listen to problems. In fact, I think I have something that could clear your head.’

Edna started back towards the cart but Alyssa intercepted the thought.

‘I don’t think one of your potions will help this time round, unless you have one that could erase the memories of the nightmares as well?’ She looked up towards Edna who stopped and met Alyssa’s eyes.

The Potion Magnus had the close appearance of a stereotypical fairytale witch. Her frail skin hung over her cheek bones and a wart jutted from her pointy chin. Her hair was long and scruffy and she had a crooked nose that cast a broken shadow on her cheek under the sun.

Edna’s benevolent disposition earned her love and respect from the folk of Cobb, who could now be seen emerging from their homes and readying for the day.

‘Memory robbing potions are forbidden in Elemenphis, you should know that Alyssa,’ she replied.

‘I know they are Edna, I just long to forget them and get on with my life,’ Alyssa met and matched Edna’s solemn gaze. ‘I believe them to be more than just nightmares, and I’m terrified.’

Edna walked over to a wooden market stall with a wide counter and placed a blanket over it that she pulled from her laden cart. Alyssa broke her stationary position and followed suit.

‘So my dear, what is it that you’re afraid of?’ she said quietly.

Alyssa hesitated before responding, lowering her voice to a whisper. ‘I haven’t told anybody this, not even my uncle, but I feel like there’s something inside me waiting to break out. A power, or a force of some kind, I’m sure it has something to do with this -’ she pulled her collar down to reveal her birthmark.

Edna looked at her strangely as she started to place jars down onto the counter.

‘These nightmares I keep having, I’m starting to feel like they’re real, like they have some hidden meaning. Maybe it’s a warning of some sort I don’t know, but whatever it is, they’re getting worse, painful even.’

‘Dreams never make sense dear. They’re just your minds natural magic playing with your sub consciousness. Try not to fret too much, just remember that they’re just dreams.’

Edna placed down two jars filled with thick green gooey substances that palpitated, like things were breathing in midst of the mixture. Alyssa grimaced at the sight of it.

‘Oh dear, what’s that?’

‘Those my dear are two of my finest strength enhancers!’ The Potion Magnus stated proudly.

‘I meant what’s causing them to move?’

‘It’s just a couple of baby eels, the mixture of Elf-Berry sap and Skhollaer-Fly chrysalis fluid needs to be kept energized, to remain fresh and useful. Without them the brew curdles within a few hours.’

Alyssa felt a small urge to vomit but held it back. She daren’t wonder what the mixture tasted like.

‘Don’t fret, the eels are happy in there, they’re copulating. The Elf-Berry has very powerful aphrodisiacal properties, maybe you should try some? It mightn’t lighten your mood, but would definitely loosen you up.’ The Magnus winked cheekily towards Alyssa who looked about to emotionally burst at this innuendo.

‘Relax dear, you know I like to jest every once in a while. You really should try to cheer up or you’ll get furrows.’

The sun was still rising around them as more traders could be seen walking towards the marketplace.

‘Are you sure you don’t want to try one of my potions?’ Edna persisted. ‘I think I have something that will lighten your spirit, or maybe one to make your eyebrows grow back.’

Alyssa felt her cheeks roseate as she lowered her head towards the floor. She knew Edna was just trying to cheer her up but the feeling of impending doom was just too great, whether it be a falsity or not.

‘Very well I will pour you one of my specialties. A remedial mixture that consists of two parts Elf-Berry, and one part Spryte-Leaf, that’s plucked from a mystical tree that’s only known to grow inside the Bacharu caves. And a few other secret ingredients that I don’t think you’re ready to learn about just yet!’ The Magnus said whilst rummaging through her cart, picking up jar after jar until she found the two she was searching for.

Without waiting for Alyssa to concur, Edna produced a small copper jug from the cart and placed it down amongst the jars on the counter. Also from the barrow she revealed an opaque bottle, to which Edna muttered to be the secret ingredients under her breath, and placed it next to the jug.

‘You’re going to try this whether you like it or not dear, it will lift your spirits right up. And also, I need someone to sample this as it’s a brand new recipe.’ she said as she began to open the bottle, brushing away whatever living mass tried to worm its way through the little nooks and crannies in the lid. When removed, a gust of dark motes rose towards the sky juxtaposed with the foulest odour to have ever disgraced Alyssa’s nasal. The Magnus showed no indifference to the smell and continued to speak.

‘Then when you’re feeling better you can help me unload the cart, and then wheel it back to my cottage to load up the rest of the stock.’

Alyssa nodded her head as Edna proceeded to pour the bottle’s contents, followed shortly by a green liquid from a separate jar, and then a gooey yellow substance from another, into the copper jug.

Smoke poured from the brew and the copper jug convulsed, which caught the attention of other traders beginning to set up their stalls, and for a mere moment Alyssa thought she could see the shape of a heart appear in the cloud that rose from the mixture, and then the form evanesced into nothing.

After the mixture settled, a bitter smell wafted from the jar which made Alyssa cringe. Edna poured the mixture, which was now an unsettling bile colour, into an empty tube she fished out from the cart.

‘Be warned that you may find the taste potently bitter.’

As Edna spoke the liquid started to effervesce. Alyssa wore an expression of mild horror as the menacing bubbles shook the vessel.

‘Don’t fret,’ she said, handing the tremulous tube to Alyssa. ‘That just means it’s ready.’

Alyssa looked at the churning liquid and felt utterly obstinate against Edna’s wishes for her to try it. The smell caught her nasal and a feeling of biliousness took over. She held the jar away from her.

‘Oh come on dear it’ll do you the world of good. I promise you that once you drink, you will feel as right as an adamant.’

The burden of the nightmares was heavy to bear, and she felt that none close to her truly understood how she felt or what she was going through. Sure, it could be just a passing phase and before long the night terrors would cease to be, but for now they dominated her thoughts, and more so, her life.

She looked towards the eager face of Edna, who seemed to be gently nodding her aging face in affirmation to the drinking of her potion. She felt complete trust towards her mentor so she eventually gave in.

Hesitantly, Alyssa put the tube to her lips, and soon enough, proceeded to pour and swallow the effervescent mixture.

The taste was worse than awful, evil perhaps, and she retched and then coughed. It seemed to take an eternity to trickle down her throat, overwhelming her senses with its foulness. She let go of the tube and it dropped to the ground, smashing to pieces on the cobble stones. Little puffs of smoke rose from the debris.

‘What in Gaia’s name did I just drink?’ Alyssa remarked while wiping her mouth on her sleeve. ‘This is supposed to make me feel better?’ she said as her eyes began to water.

Edna grinned. ‘You just wait and see my dear, when that kicks in you’ll be thanking me. Now, help your dear old teacher to unload the rest of these jars.’

While Alyssa helped Edna set up the stall, she couldn’t help but reflect upon the nightmares that have been plaguing her for the past few months. Who, or what, was the mysterious crystalline figure standing amidst the burning trees? What was the figure pointing at? She felt her head start to throb with these unanswered questions when a tingling sensation began to stir deep in her belly which soon developed into a prolonged frisson, and she started to feel light.

Suddenly, she felt ethereal, and she had a sudden thought that if the wind picked up a little she might blow away. This distracted her thoughts as she started to physically feel herself flying high through the sky - of course it was purely a mental feeling of physical elevation, it must be, but it seemed palpable to her, a condition of the potion it seems, perhaps its purpose -, whilst scraping the clouds with outstretched arms. She saw herself soaring in the sky with swallows and gulls.

Then, out of the complete blue, she found herself staring at the lake outside her home. Butterflies flittered above the mirror of the mere. She watched as they weaved playfully in and out of little rays of light that pierced the canopy. She felt joyous towards these displays of Gaia’s natural beauty. For the first time in weeks she found herself surrounded, and comforted, by happy thoughts.

She couldn’t see Edna staring at her with gleeful eyes as she danced around these imaginary delights, but sensed she was there nonetheless. ‘This is great Edna,’ she said as she blithely jumped around with an illusionary frog. ‘You make the best potions in Elemenphis I’m sure. You truly are the Queen of Tonics!’

‘What did I tell you?’ The Potion Magnus said quietly as she finished unloading the cart under the rising sun.

The marketplace filled with laughter as other traders witnessed the scene of the strange girl dancing and jumping around in circles.

Edna felt relief that Alyssa felt alleviated but she knew it wouldn’t last. She felt something approaching, and under her breathe she prayed for Alyssa’s survival when the time came for her to face her nightmares in the disturbing flesh . . .
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 2   March 27th 2009, 8:09 am

I have no idea how to get the text right, that's how it look using the code BBcode LOL
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PostSubject: Explanation   March 27th 2009, 1:34 pm

Okay, I used my moderator power and put your chapter in proper format. Using spaces for tabs is poor, although some word processors do such (check your settings). Anyway, NO TABS - not even spaces in the internet. I will now be checking your manuscript.

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Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 2   March 27th 2009, 1:45 pm

Thank you Smile

Will do that myself next time LOL I was looking for a code that made it appear as I wrote it Embarassed
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 2   March 27th 2009, 3:00 pm

"...nice read..." said the goblin
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 2   March 27th 2009, 3:33 pm

Yay! lol

Cool
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PostSubject: Reply   March 27th 2009, 5:11 pm

In the second paragraph, pull that stuff in the parentheses out and develop the paragraph around it. As it stands, that paragraph breaks a number of rules: only one sentence, that one sentence is complex, and the paragraph really is not important. You can make that paragraph important by taking the main thought of the one sentence, 'Alyssa was learning a great deal,' and expanding it using what you have in the paragraph. Show Alyssa learning by the mistakes of the elder in attempting to make a potion of youth.

If you fix the second paragraph, the third paragraph should fix itself. Right now it is a good idea without any support.

FULL QUOTE MARKS (") around full quotes. Single quotes (') are for indicating special words or phrases.

Fourth paragraph - IT. Note that the previous noun before IT is 'her place of work.' Pay attention to your pronouns. You then have the cart being pushed NOT to 'her place of work,' but to the marketplace - yes, you could read it otherwise, but it is YOUR job to be clear.

Uh, Alyssa sees Cyprian, and Edna thinks she had a dream? In fact, no reference to Cyprian at all? Why did you mention him?


That is it. You are mentioning things that have no relationship. I begin to find myself confused. You cannot leave things in your head. Move over your text while checking your references. One thing that really bothered me was the thought that 'if I forget the dream it will go away.' Gee, I would think that whether you forget it or not, they will come again.

Oh, yes,
Swami wrote:
‘Very well I will pour you one of my specialties. A remedial mixture that consists of two parts Elf-Berry, and one part Spryte-Leaf, that’s plucked from a mystical tree that’s only known to grow inside the Bacharu caves.
A MYSTICAL TREE? You mention two things. Wouldn't Spryte-berries grow on the tree with Spryte-leaves and Elf-leaves grow on the tree with elf-berries? Also, I thought both Elf-berries and Spryte-leaves were rather common, at least I see a lot of people in the gutters who got drunk on elf-berry wine.

Okay that is definitely enough for now.

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Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 2   March 27th 2009, 5:43 pm

Cyprian was with her when they travelled to the market in the morning, I just didn't post that part.

Thank you for doing this, this is all very helpful.

I think these problems will probably remain consistent throughout so i will continue writing until I reach the end.

the story I'm working on I just want to get to the end and then go back and rewrite it. it's taken so long to get where I am, and i've rewritten parts over and over until it followed a course, I just need to get it out of my system and then edit it over and over until I reach the desired effect. your pointers have given me a lot to think about!

Not like I had any expectations for it lol I'd love to write though as a job, that would be cool Very Happy
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Chapter 2
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