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Chapter 1

Chapter 1

With two ever-growing powers, Viviana must leave her kingdom to find help with controlling her abilities. She must be ready to fight for her family and her kingdom as civil war draws near.

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Fantasy / Sci-fi


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Samantha Fidler-Newby (United States)


A pair of sapphire eyes appeared in the crack of the oak doors, unnoticed as two men in the room quietly argued about what lay on the table by the fireplace. Firelight danced around on the walls as Viviana watched the men's faces and listened as the argument escalated. She listened to their voices, but she could not pull her eyes away from the object on the table. The blood soaked sheet rose and fell, as if alive. The sound of a fist hitting the wooden table snapped her attention back to the two men in the room. “You must call for her and you know it,” the shorter of the two men growled as they stood by the table beside the fireplace. She gasped as she realized blood caked them from their heads to their boots. “I know he needs her, but I am scared of what she must face. He knows so much. If he tells her anything, all will be for naught … all he has sacrificed.” Viviana’s father sighed and sat down in his chair. His body shuddered under the weight of his decision. “I will call on her if he becomes worse in the next hour. I do not want to bring her here unless I absolutely have to.” He looked towards the door. She quickly pressed against the frame and waited for the men to start talking again, giving her the chance to escape down the hall. Swiftly, she moved down the corridor, she used a hidden passageway leading to another empty hall. In moments, her cloaked figure found the small staircase lit by the moonlight streaming through stained glass windows. A single door at the top of the stairs opened to a small bedroom, furnished with beautiful oak dressers and a four-post bed. Her opened curtains fluttered when the door closed, and a small noise escaped Viviana’s mouth. She quickly removed the cloak and let her dark, amber hair cascade down her back. After jumping into bed, Viviana waited for sleep to come, but her mind was filled with questions. What was that on the table? Whom must she save? Flipping open a leather-bound book, where she kept all her important thoughts and feelings, Viviana wrote intensely until a knock on her door made her jump. She quickly hid the journal. “Viviana, may I come in?” A deep and husky voice asked from the other side of the door. “Of course, Father,” her honey-sweet voice said. As she watched him come in, she hoped he did not notice her cloak by her bed and not hanging in her wardrobe. She glanced at her healer’s bag lying by the door, ready with all her supplies. Her father slowly entered with a lantern that lit the entire room, but he would not look at her. He looked like a man on the verge of collapsing, and it startled her. “What is wrong? Why are you crying?” She sat up in bed as he sat by her feet. He motioned for her to give him a hug. “My little girl … my only child ... I have a heavy boon to ask of you,” he said as he held her close. “What happened? Is someone injured?” The look on his face twisted her stomach in knots. She knew that look. “Why do you think someone is hurt?” He asked, puzzled by her question. “You are crying, and you do not cry, Father. Did someone die?” “No, but… he is close to it.” He tried to clear away the tears from his face. She paused for a moment and understood what he was asking from her. The toll on her body from healing a person on death’s door was unknown. Her eyes met his and she gave him a weary smile. “I will do whatever I can. Who is it?” “Your cousin, Anthony. I need, I mean he needs your healing touch. He is barely hanging on, and it would kill your uncle and aunt if they lose him. Your Aunt Mathilda, has done all she can for him, but he needs more. I know what this might do to you …” he trailed off as he looked into her eyes. She placed her hand on his. “I know how this affects you, Vi,” he continued. “The last time you healed someone, you were unconscious for almost a day. He is badly beaten and bruised, but I do not want to put you in danger again.” Viviana jumped from the bed and was met with an intense bear hug from her father. “We should hurry,” she said, breathing in the scent of blood and dirt on her father’s clothes. She went to the door to gather her healer’s bag and shoes. “Would you put some clothes on, please?” “Oh,” she picked up her cloak from the bed and put it on. He sighed and guided her to the door. “I will have Rox get you something decent when the sun rises.” Her father was right; no one knew what would happen to her if she used her gift on someone on the verge of death. Her last patient had only broken her arm. The pain she felt afterward lingered for several days, but no one knew about that. They worried enough about her and her abilities. As they continued down the hall, she stayed close to her father and tried to steady her breathing. She could not let her nerves get the best of her at this moment. This mysterious cousin needed to be rescued. Playing back her childhood memories, Viviana did not recall Anthony, though she was very close to his sister, Adrilynn. She snapped out of her thoughts when the stench of blood and Aunt Mathilda's wound paste assaulted her nose. “What happened?” she whispered to her father. “We do not know for sure. We will have to wait until ....” he whispered back to her. He believed so much in her gift that it made her stomach lurch. What if she could not bring him back? The sight of her cousin’s body on the table made her wonder if it was too late. Her aunt and uncle looked up from the table, and their eyes filled with hope. Mathilda moved from her son to her husband and clung to him as she watched Viviana approach the body. She sat her bag down and took her father's lantern, placing it close to her cousin to see the full extent of the injuries. When she removed the cover, she gasped. The wounds were deep, some of them to the bone. She had to move quickly. “What device could cause such severe wounds?” she asked herself. “We believe that it was some type of beast,” her father whispered to her as if reading her mind. “The wounds are too severe to be caused by human hands.” Aunt Mathilda assisted Viviana by getting a vial from her bag and helping pour half of the emerald colored liquid down Anthony’s throat. Her aunt then stepped away and sat down on a chair. She could do no more for her son. I have to do something different. She thought as she opened the vial her aunt gave her. Viviana then pricked her finger and let five drops of blood in the small bottle. Swirling the contents for a moment, she braced herself for what might happen next. “What in Heaven’s name are you doing with that?” Her uncle sounded shocked by what she had just done. “The true source of my healing touch is in my blood. I will explain later,” Viviana said as she focused on her patient. She asked her aunt to help unwrap Anthony. The slashed flesh made her gag. She remembered the way she studied patients in the healing house. Focus on healing the damage. His muscles and bones were separated in places, and blood was everywhere. Moments passed and still his breathing was shallow and ragged. Her blood was not working like before, and she panicked. Viviana called forth all her strength and placed her hands on his chest. As she willed his body to mend, she screamed in pain. “Stop!” her father yelled. She shook her head and kept her hands steady. “I will heal him,” she said and gasped as she saw all of the purple bruises and slash marks slowly disappear from her cousin's face. The pain rushed from her fingers up her arms. She needed to let go, but he still needed more. The open wounds were slowly closing before their eyes, and his breathing steadied. “Let go, Vi,” Aunt Mathilda said taking Viviana’s hands off of Anthony. Viviana howled in agony and fell to the ground. Her body convulsed as the room began to spin. She felt her heartbeat slow and she could not breathe. Her father’s voice calling her name was the last thing she heard as darkness beckoned her into its cold embrace


Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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Read Reviews

Review 1:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing!
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. The first page should introduce some intrigue, something that causes the reader to turn the page. Think about the conflict and tension in your story. How effectively has it been introduced?
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Great books, nowadays, start with a powerful opening and compelling hook in order to keep the reader engaged. Have you baited the reader enough?
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
I wasn't sure until after the 14 sentence then I was hooked. I could have easily read more. The only thing was it needs more spaces as the text was bunched together and it made reading it difficult.

Review 2:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Make sure your characters are multidimensional. Do they have strengths and weaknesses? Mere mortals make the most interesting stories because they are like you and me and we are able to empathize with their journey. That’s how the connection with a character is formed.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing!
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a difficult balancing act. Are you sure all the material is relevant to the plot, setting and atmosphere? Make sure each sentence makes sense to the reader, and each paragraph moves their experience forward.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Your story makes compelling reading.
Technique and tight writing
  • When writing is tight, economical and each word has purpose, it enables the plot to unravel clearly. Try and make each individual word count.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Atmosphere and description
  • A writer’s ability to create mood and atmosphere through evocative description is vital to the reader’s experience. It’s a real skill to craft out how the characters react to the setting and atmosphere and perhaps your story could go further in its description. The reader wants to experience the same sensory and poignant journey as the characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Your strong opening and compelling hook was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 2:
A few things to fix in an otherwise great piece: 1. You need to check the formatting as all the paragraphs disappeared. 2. You were a little rushed in your story. Pace things out. 3. Viviana and here father are great, but I want to know more about the other characters. Wonderful things about this story: 1. Viviana is compelling right off. I want to know more. 2. You have nailed suspense! I was on the edge of my seat! 3. You have an eye-catching opener. Good luck!