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The Mists of Avon


Great chapter, RS! (or should I say RD??  That must be your pen name, right?) 

I think you’ve really improved since “Guardian”.  Sorry I don’t have much feedback.  I usually don’t have any tips unless something seems really obviously in need of work.  (so I guess that’s a good sign, right? )  Hawk does a good job of helping with the little tweaks and refinements. Usually I’ll agree with him for the most part (but I don’t usually see what he does until after he mentions it anyway. lol  ) Maybe that’s because I read it at first for pure enjoyment, not trying to be critical or anything.

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I broke out From Russia With Love, which is the Bond book I usually go to when I need inspiration in tackling a description.  I'll post a little paragraph that I often look to so ya can see what I'm talking about with the finesse.  It's not just about how detailed Fleming is (and he would get ridiculously detailed at times), but the way he does it that I really like.  It's like a camera panning across the room in movie and creates such a great atmopshere.

Bond went through the door and closed it softly behind him.  The room was cool, or perhaps it was the venetian blinds that gave the impression of coolness.  They threw bars of light and shadow across the dark green carpet up to the edge of the big central desk.  There the sunshine stopped so that the quiet figure behind the desk sat in a pool of suffused greenish shade.  In the celing directly above the desk, a big twin-bladed tropical fan, a recent addition to M's office, slowly revovled, shifting the thundry August air that, even high up above the Regent's Park, was heavy and stale after a week of heatwave,

M gestured to the chair opposite him across the red leather lined desk.  Bond sat down and looked across into the tranquil lined sailor's face that he loved, honored, and obeyed.

See how it directs your "eye" right to the blinds then drags it along the carpet up to the desk then raised your eye up to M and finally the ceiling.  The shadows, coolness, and M's silence give it mysterious and a little bit of eeriness.  Just the way it's described give you the sense that this is important and sets you on edge.  You wanna keep reading to find out what happens next and find out why Bond was called in there and what he'll be asked to do.  The last lined about Bond's feeling toward M hinting that this could be shady business even for the likes of spies.  It's really well done.

@Jad - Well, now you're making me look like a jerk, haha.  I don't go looking to be critical.

Hawkeye Level 74
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Hawk - Sorry! I didn't mean to make you come across as a jerk ('cause you're totally not one!)!  I don't mean critical in a bad way, and I wasn't specifically referring to you as doing that.  It just seems like you have a good feel for what can be improved and are very helpful in explaining how to do so.

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Thanks, Jad!  I wouldn't worry too much about not having a ton of feedback.  It kinda works to have in-depth feedback from some people, and for others to not do as much of that.  If everyone who read something gave the big, long reviews that Hawk does, things would be crazy!  It's always nice to know that other people are reading and enjoying it here, besides Hawk, though!

@Hawk: Thanks for posting that!  I see what you mean about the finesse.  There's tons of details, but they're given to you kinda slowly, rather than being tossed at you all at once, which makes it a lot easier to take in and creates an atmosphere for it, kinda.

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@Jad - Aw, but now I can't join the Jerk Club of America!

@Rogue - I think you would faint from having to read so many long winded reviews if there were more of me, haha.

Hawkeye Level 74
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Haha, yeah.  And, if there were more of you, then Hawkeye and Mass Effect would take over the world!  It's a scary thought...

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The Mists of Avon: Chapter 5

Ralingrad was always one of Ruby’s favorite cities to visit, and she was not alone in that opinion.  It had been a hotspot for tourists before the war started. The city sat atop a cliff overlooking the northern ocean, and tourists flocked to the city to see the view. The buildings were all made of a red stone called urdo that was common in this area of the country, but one building towered over the rest. The palace was covered by a huge glass dome covered in all kinds of pictures, telling the same old story of how Louis Laurent defeated the Magi. That was because it had originally been the Great Museum of Avon, and the glass dome was one of its most famous exhibits, until Dmitri had changed it into his new palace.

Ruby did not come to see the sights, though. She liked Ralingrad for the challenge. Since Dmitri set up Neo Avon’s capitol there, the place had always been crawling with knights, so any heist had to go off without a hitch, or there’d be trouble. Even before the war, the museum was always pretty well guarded. Not to mention the fact that most of the richest people in the country lived there, too. High risk, high reward.

“I can’t believe Dmitri. His statue even has the same pose as the one in Dausten,” said Sonia as she shook her head. “What was he thinking?”

She was referring to the huge statue Dmitri had gotten built in the middle of the town square. In this huge golden statue, Dmitri held a sword up towards the sky, just like the statue of Louis Laurent in Dausten. His broad shoulders and distinctive goatee made it obvious to anyone that it was a statue of Dmitri, though, rather than being an exact copy of the statue in Dausten.

“I know what ya mean. I mean, look at that ugly goatee! Who in their right mind would want a statue of that?” asked Ruby.

“That’s not exactly what I meant,” said Sonia.

“This may not be the best place for this discussion,” said Antoine in a low voice. “Most of the population here reveres Dmitri. Many of the nobles from Avon relocated to Ralingrad because of his reputation as a military genius and the success he had as an advisor for King Elias. Insulting him in public will only draw unwanted attention.”

Antoine probably had a point. The people in Neo Avon thought of Dmitri as some kind of hero because of his military plans that crushed Jamasca in the last war. They practically worshipped Dmitri and thought that he should be the King of Avon. And they didn’t take too kindly to jokes about his goatee, either. They practically assembled a mob to come after Ruby when she made jokes about it the last time she was in Ralingrad.

“Alright, ya don’t gotta give us a lecture or nothin’,” said Ruby. “Let’s just get goin’.”

Ruby led Antoine and Sonia down the brick-covered path of Ralingrad’s main street. The street was home to Ralingrad Market, the biggest market in either country. Stores lined the streets, and merchants stood outside with their carts, hawking their wares. They sold just about everything, from food to weapons and expensive fur coats. The buzz of activity made it necessary for knights to patrol up and down the streets, which made it a great place for Ruby to test her thieving skills, but this was not the time for that. No matter how much she was tempted.

“I cannot decide which sword to buy! Both would look spectacular as a part of my collection of antique swords,” said a fat nobleman in a spotted fur coat. “I think I’ll just buy both!”

It was even tougher to resist the urge to pick his pocket now. She was sure she could do it without being caught by any of the knights, too. Sonia was watching her, though, and Ruby knew she would make some type of comment that would give her away.

The main palace gates stood at the end of the street, with their huge wooden doors casting a shadow over the northern end of the marketplace.  They were well-guarded with six heavily-armored knights standing watch at the main gate, along with archers standing watch in a tower next to each door.

“So, it appears that the main gate is out of the question,” whispered Antoine. “I assume you do have a better option? Such as this ‘secret entrance’ you have been boasting about?”

“Course I do,” said Ruby. “Just follow me.”

There was also a second gate that was rarely used, on the eastern side of the palace. It was only a short walk from the main gate, but you needed to cut through a couple of back streets to get there, so it was rarely used.

It was easy to figure out why the eastern gate was not used very often, as they traveled through what could only be described as the slums of Ralingrad. The urdo buildings were crumbling and falling apart, though the people here could not even afford to live in these buildings, so most were vacant. The people actually lived outside on the streets that were littered with trash. Ruby spotted a group of people sifting through the mud-soaked pieces of paper and broken bottles who were probably hoping to find a bit of bread or meat mixed in, whether it had become rotten or not.

Sonia whispered, “This is horrible. How can they live like this?”

“So, are you saying there are no areas of Dausten such as this?” asked Antoine.

“No, that’s not… That’s not what I meant… But, isn’t there some way we could help them?” asked Sonia.

Ruby cut through this area sometimes to lose pursuit, and sometimes she even stayed in the area for a little while, to let the knights pass her by. She usually left a little bit of money she made from a heist with the people here to pay them back for that, but it did not really look like it was helping very much.

“Ya make it sound easy,” said Ruby. “I guess we could steal a couple hundred gold bars while we’re in the palace, though…”

Sonia sighed, “Just forget it.”

The eastern palace gate was much smaller than the front gate on the southern end. It looked like the type of fence someone would put up around their garden, and it had to be the only palace gate in the world that Ruby was taller than. They did not really need to protect much, though, since anyone entering through this gate would still have to enter the palace through the front doors, as that was the only entrance. This would only get them into the courtyard surrounding the palace.

As they approached the palace gates, Ruby spotted an armored guard, slouched by the gate. He wore a griffin, the symbol of Neo Avon, on his armor, which shone brightly. Ruby figured that he had definitely not seen any real action since he got the armor. He had probably been a regular museum guard before the war started, so they gave him the easiest palace guard job. And also the most boring. Ruby thought that he was a perfect target for a little con that she and Antoine had run before.

The guard straightened up as they approached, “Halt! No one is allowed inside the palace gates unless they are a member of the Neo Avon military.”

“Then I would suggest that you stand aside and let us pass. We are mercenaries, and we were recently hired to help with a… special mission,” said Antoine, who clearly had picked up on all the same signs as Ruby.

“What are you talking about? There’s no… special mission,” said the guard.

“He doesn’t know about the special mission,” said Ruby to Antoine.

“Clearly, he isn’t very well-informed. He has most likely been skipping the mandatory guard meetings,” said Antoine to Ruby.

“Guess we gotta report him to the guard captain…” said Ruby with a shake of her head.

“N-No! I know all about the secret mission! I just… I forgot that it was happening so soon. No need to disturb the guard captain! You can move along.”

Once inside the gates, Sonia whispered, “How many more times do I have to pretend to be a mercenary?”

Antoine smiled, “Only as many times as we can possibly force you to.”

The palace overlooked the northern sea, sitting atop a cliff. Ruby led them over to the edge of the cliff and spotted just what she was looking for.

“Ya see that spot where water’s coming outta that big hole in the rock?” asked Ruby. “That’s our secret entrance.”

It led to a waterway that they used to transport waste out of the palace and the city. If they went back through it, though, it would lead them right to the palace.

“You want us to walk through a waste waterway?” asked Sonia.

“Yeah, they didn’t have any guards hangin’ ‘round there last time I was here. Guess they figured no one was crazy enough to try it.”  Ruby added with a chuckle, “Proved them wrong.”

“Nobody except you would be crazy enough to walk through there,” said Sonia.

“I wouldn’t say that. Sure looks like you two are,” said Ruby with a smirk.

“How are we even getting over there?” asked Sonia.

“Don’t worry ‘bout that,” said Ruby. “I got ya covered.”

She pulled her grappling hook off of her belt. The wire holding the hook wasn’t exactly the strongest, since it was only designed to hold Ruby and whatever she happened to be stealing. If they went one at a time, though, it’d probably still hold. She gave it a few twirls and flung it over to the entrance, latching on to the rock above.

“You’re up first, ‘Toine,” said Ruby as she handed the wire to Antoine.


Antoine would definitely need a change of clothes after he finished this job. He didn’t know precisely what was in the water, but the smell in the waterway indicated he was probably better off not knowing. Fortunately, the murky water only came up to his knees, but even that was much higher than he would have hoped for. Ruby and Sonia each landed behind him with a splash.

Antoine said, “I think I should take the money I require to clean these clothes out of your share of the reward, Ruby.”

Ruby shrugged, “Hey, I don’t see you finding a secret entrance into the palace. So I don’t think ya really got a right to complain right now, ‘Toine.”

“The benefits of this secret entrance may be outweighed by the damage to my nose,” said Antoine. “I suppose we should move on, though, so we may leave this place more quickly.”

Antoine allowed Ruby to take the lead, as she knew these tunnels better than either he or Sonia did. Sonia took up the rear, presumably to guard against any possible attacks from behind. Or it just may have been that she still did not trust them.

The tunnel looked as if it had been carved very crudely out of the cliff. The inside was made of urdo rock, and the walls were jagged all around. It may have previously been an urdo mine, though the work seemed unprofessional to Antoine, based on how uneven the cuts in the wall were. If this had been a mine, it was most likely one not sanctioned by the government.  The urdo building craze that occurred about five hundred years ago had been very profitable, and many enterprising individuals joined the business illegally.

Antoine noticed that there were many smaller offshoots of the tunnel they were walking through. They were all much shorter than the tunnel they were currently in. Antoine doubted one of them could even fit in one of these offshoots without crawling on their hands on knees. Which was not something Antoine hoped to do in this water.

“What are these smaller tunnels?” asked Antoine.

“Those? Oh, I think they’re just where the waste from all the smaller buildings flows from. This tunnel here is for the castle, so it’s a whole lot bigger than the rest,” said Ruby.

Something about these smaller tunnels made Antoine uneasy. He couldn’t see into them while he was standing upright, but he felt that there was something there. There must be Mist in these tunnels, Antoine decided. He sensed it all around them. There could even be monsters of the Mist hiding in these tunnels.

“Stop,” said Antoine. “I think there may be monsters hidden in the tunnels.”

“How would you know?” asked Sonia as she folded her arms over her chest.

“Believe me, he knows,” said Ruby. “Now, zip it and listen!”

Sonia opened her mouth to argue when a splashing noise came from the right. It was gone as quickly as it had come, however. Antoine tried to listen for more sounds, but all he heard was the occasional drip of water from the ceiling.

“We must keep moving, but stay alert,” said Antoine. “They could attack at any moment.”

Just as he turned to move forward again, Antoine heard a loud splash behind him and turned to see their attackers. They were two wolf-like creatures. Both were covered in dark brown fur, with two long tails each, and had glowing red eyes. They were positioned to the left and right of Sonia, poised to strike at her.

Sonia was prepared, however. She quickly struck the one on her right with the blunt end of her lance and then plunged it through the other wolf’s chest, as it turned back into Mist. Antoine concentrated for a moment and swung his hands downwards to cause part of the stone wall to collapse on the remaining wolf, crushing it. Small amounts of Mist filtered up through the cracks in the stone.

Ruby started, “Let’s get goin’ before---”

She was cut off as another creature leapt out of the tunnel next to her, jaws snapping at her throat. She reacted just in time to lean back, out of the way. As it flew through the air, Antoine noticed the razor-sharp claws attached to its front feet. Ruby drew her dagger and plunged it through its chest, as it turned back into Mist.

“So… these are new.” said Ruby.

“Really!” Sonia yelled. “You didn’t think they might figure out how you broke in the first time? You put us all in danger with your carelessness!”

Ruby came within inches of Sonia’s face as she shouted, “Hey, this ain’t my fault! I just thought they’d add a couple of guards or somethin’. How was I supposed to know they’d tame Mist monsters?”

“Arguing will only give them an opportunity to attack while we’re distracted,” said Antoine. “We need to stay focused on the task at hand.”

“Fine,” said Ruby with a sigh as she turned away from Sonia.

“Are you sure that wasn’t the last of them, Antoine?” asked Sonia.

“I cannot tell. I can only sense the Mist present here, not the individual monsters. I may only be sensing the Mist that formed those monsters, or I may be sensing other monsters. It’s impossible to tell, so we must remain cautious.”

They proceeded ahead in silence, listening for any sign of monsters. The water gave them an edge in detecting them, since the monsters would make splashing noises as they moved through the water. Unfortunately, they made the same noises, which partially negated that edge.

Antoine saw a light ahead of them in the tunnel, signaling to him that they were nearing the end of their trek through the waterway. Before he could rejoice, however, he heard splashing to the left and right. Several of the wolf creatures emerged from the tunnels behind them.

“Head for the exit!” yelled Ruby. “We’re almost there!”

As they started to run, many more wolves poured out of the tunnels ahead of them, effectively cutting them off from the exit. There was a half dozen of them, by Antoine’s count.

“So, what’s the plan, O Fearless Leader?” asked Ruby as she drew her dagger.

Antoine said, “Just give me a moment. I have a plan, but you two must hold them off.”

“Oh great… Just hold ‘em off. Ya make it sound so easy,” said Ruby.

As the wolves charged at the group, Antoine already had an idea. The water could conduct electricity throughout the tunnels, which would eliminate all of the wolves. The trick was finding a way to stay out of the water so they would not die themselves. There was no ground above the water to stand on, and there was nothing to hang onto above the water, either.

“You need to do something, Antoine,” said Sonia. “Now!”

She was trying to stop the charge of wolves from behind them. There had been maybe seven or eight to start, and more were pouring out of the tunnels. When she stabbed one, two more took its place. As she thrust her lance towards another one in front of her, a wolf came in from her left with its claws raised. She attempted to duck out of the way, but was still caught on the cheek by its claw, leaving a gash.

Antoine knew he needed to hurry before they were completely overrun. He concentrated for a moment, and then used his magic to pull a small circular section out of the wall, at just above eye level. It was just large enough for his staff to fit into. He extended it and slammed it into the hole.

“Grab onto the staff!” shouted Antoine. “Now!”

Ruby did not argue. She had been forced to retreat back to where Antoine was, dodging and weaving to avoid being hit by the wolves, and she grabbed on. Sonia grabbed onto it, as well.

As Antoine grabbed hold of the staff, he shouted, “If you’re fond of your feet, keep them out of the water!”

He checked quickly to make sure Ruby and Sonia had done so and sent a lightning bolt into the water. It coursed through the water, shocking all of the wolves, which let out yelps of pain just before turning back into Mist, which clouded the tunnels in an eerie blue haze.

As the electricity died away, Ruby said, “So… is anyone else freaked out by the fact that this little staff can hold all three of us?”

Antoine let go and landed on the ground. As he opened his mouth to answer, Ruby cut him off, though.

“I know, I know… It’s a ‘magic’ staff…” said Ruby as she landed.

As Sonia landed, she let out a slight grunt of pain, probably because of the gash she had gotten in the battle.

“Here, I can help,” said Antoine as he stepped towards Sonia.

“It’s just a scratch,” said Sonia. “I don’t need any help.”

“Save the knightly acts of valor for later,” said Antoine. “At the moment, we cannot have you leaving blood everywhere we go.”

He reached out and placed a hand on Sonia’s cheek. As he concentrated, tiny blue sparks ran from his hand into Sonia’s gash, closing it up.

Sonia felt the area where it had been, trying to find the cut. When she found none, she smiled.

“Thank you.”

“Don’t overwhelm me all at once with your praise,” said Antoine. “I’m not sure I can handle it.”

“I thanked you sincerely for what you did!” huffed Sonia. “And this is how you react to that?”

“Perhaps it didn’t sound as sincere as you think,” said Antoine.

“Or maybe you wouldn’t know sincerity if it hit you in the stomach!” shouted Sonia.

Antoine attempted to stifle a chuckle, to little avail. It was so easy to instigate an argument with Sonia.

“Are you laughing? This is no laughing matter, Antoine!”

“Then, perhaps we should focus on the task at hand before you decide to challenge me to some type of duel. The palace is just ahead, after all.”

“Fine,” said Sonia. “We can’t have any distractions for this mission.”

“Ya sure got that right,” said Ruby.  “‘Cause this ain’t gonna be no picnic.”

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Damn, new chapter up just as I'm leaving.  I'll be sure to check it out tomorrow though!

Hawkeye Level 74
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Rogue_Shadow wrote:

The Mists of Avon: Chapter 5

There was also a second gate that was rarely used, on the eastern side of the palace. It was only a short walk from the main gate, but you needed to cut through a couple of back streets to get there, so it was rarely used.

Something about these smaller tunnels made Antoine uneasy. He couldn’t see into them while he was standing upright, but he felt that there was something there. There must be Mist in these tunnels, Antoine decided. He sensed it all around them. There could even be monsters of the Mist hiding in these tunnels.

“Stop,” said Antoine. “I think there may be monsters hidden in the tunnels.”

Nice chapter RS!  A nice little bit of action in the adventure!

I noticed a couple places where you seemed to kind of repeat yourself.  In the first example I would just cut out the first "rarely used".  In the second you have Antoine think something and then basically repeat that same thought out loud.  While that information is needed for the characters in the story, it's redundant for the reader, at least in the way it is worded.  You could maybe say something like "He sensed it all around them.  And if there was Mist, that meant something more dangerous could be lurking therein."   Not sure that's the best revision but hopefully you get the idea.

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Thanks, Jad!  Good point on the repetition.  I should've been paying more attention to that, and that's actually a pretty good revision idea for the Antoine line, I think.  See?  You can impart words of writing wisdom, Jad!

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