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October 22nd, 2006, 07:37 PM
~Chapter One~
Sophie woke up with a start. She looked around, and then realized that her face was dripping. She thought of her dream, and panicked for a moment, until she realized that what was dripping from her face was actually dog spit. Groaning, Sophie spotted her dog, Exodius, or Exo, for short, lying on the ground with a smug grin on his face. "Exo!" she said impatiently. Exo looked up at her with innocent eyes, but you could tell he was smirking. Sophie glanced at her clock, and realized that she had slept in until 10. At first she thought she was late for school, and then she remembered that it was Saturday. A sigh escaped her lips and she thought of her dream, and why she had woken so quickly.
She was running past stone cold objects. Slowing down, she stared at one of them. Suddenly, it moved. It was a person; well, not a person, for it had the body of an eagle. The lips moved. It was trying to say something. A groan escaped his parched lips. She bent down to hear the creature. "Help…we need help. You can …for you care about us…" the monster said, pain racking his body with every word. She gasped, and replied, "What do you mean? What can I do to help?" Slowly, the being raised his head and looked at her. "Ask…Margret" With those words, the eagleman died, his body convulsing with pain. Then all was still. Abruptly, she saw a black form racing towards her, with a sword in its hands. The sword rose…and came down. She was going to die.
Sophie wondered what the creature had meant. She didn’t care about any eaglemen that she knew of! Sophie wished that she had paid more attention to the bodies around the individual. Then she remembered the eagleman's dying words. "Ask…Margret." Those words echoed in her mind. Margret was her mom. She ran downstairs. When she reached the living room, she saw her mom folding the clothes. Her mom looked up at the noise. She had a look of curiosity. One last thought and Sophie told her mom her dream.
When she was done, her mom looked at her with an expression of sad longing on her face. “Sophie,” she said, “It is time for me to tell you what I swore never to reveal. You see, our family, the Harahan’s, are… shapeshifters, or, as some call us, the Hocuari. We always have been, and for eternity will be. We have always been on the side of Good, and we never knew that there was…an Other side. Only a century ago is when we realized that when there is Good, there is Evil. That was when something started to happen. The creatures are being killed, and we don’t know who is responsible. We are the Protectors, and our job is to make sure that no one finds out about the… creatures. You know what I mean, for you saw them in the dream that you had. I swore never to reveal this to you, for I feared for your safety. But now, circumstances have changed. Sophie, I believe that it is your destiny for you to save the lives of the people that you saw in your dream.”
All that Sophie could think is “I’m a shapeshifter?” But all she said out loud was, “So, mom, I can turn into anything? I can change shape and become a cat or a horse? And what do you mean that it is my destiny? I want to help, but I don’t know how. Maybe this whole thing is just a dream, I mean, I want to believe it, but it just sounds so far fetched…I don’t know. Tell me more.”
Margret sighed, and opened her mouth to speak once more, but before she could utter a word, her face settled into a slack-jawed countenance, and she toppled forward. There was an axe sticking out of her back. Sophie’s face went ash-white. “Mom!” She screamed, tears pouring down her face. Suddenly, Sophie saw a dark figure out of the corner of her eye. It had the body of a man, but the head of a bull. A Minotaur, she thought. The creature was laughing; it had killed her mom. Sophie saw a vase nearby on a table; she grabbed it, and swung at the creature. The Minotaur only laughed harder, and in a guttural sound, uttered, “You can’t defeat me! I have already killed the only one who cared about you. Now what are you going to do?” With that, he disappeared. There was no smoke, no flame, just…nothing. One minute it was there, the next, the only thing left in the room was her mother’s dead body. Seeing the corpse brought Sophie back to the real world. Now what was she going to do? Sophie was confused, distraught, and angry at the evil thing that had murdered her mother.
Then Sophie saw the axe sticking out her mother’s body. She went over, and found that it had fallen out. Ignoring the gore, she wiped it off on the rug. She saw something that made her freeze. The axe was the one that her father had given to her just before he died. How did the Minotaur come to have it? Sophie needed answers, but all she was getting was more questions.
Snowball, her black cat, walked over and started to rub against Sophie’s leg. “What do you want?” Sophie muttered, exasperated. Suddenly, the cat started to transform. Sophie got nauseous, and had to look away. When she felt better, she turned around. In the exact same place where Snowball had been a few moments before, there was…an elf? The elf opened his mouth, and said, “Hello, Sophie.”
Sophie’s mouth dropped open, and she stuttered, “Wh…who are you?” The elf looked up and stared at Sophie with a sorrowful look. “I am Fereld, one of the many Forest elves. I have been your cat for sometime. Yes, before you ask, I am a shapeshifter, one of the few elves that are graced with that ability. I have been sent here to look after you, but I was not supposed to ever show myself unless something catastrophic happens. This, your mom dying, was not ever supposed to happen.” Sophie looked at Fereld in confusion. Nervously, she asked, “So, you heard everything…even my dream?” “Yes, Sophie, I know what your mom thought and needless to say, I agree. I do not believe that she knew she was to die, though. In any case, I feel that it would be best for you to come with me. I will take you to the Elder, and he can decide what would be best.”
Sophie stared at Fereld, wondering once again if this was all a dream. As if reading her mind, the elf just gazed at her and with eyes downcast, said, “I wish.” Suddenly, Sophie raised her head, with a fiery look in her eyes, and replied, “I will come. I wish to know everything. My mother is dead, and I need to help. Just tell me how.”
Fereld regarded Sophie with something much like approval. “So come with me,” he said. “Is there anything that you need, or would like to take with you? It mustn’t be very large, for we are traveling through the Vine.” Sophie thought for a moment, and then ran upstairs. A few minutes later, she came down, with a pouch on her back. Curiously, Fereld eyed the bag. Sophie saw the look, and said, “In this bag are my most prized possessions, as well as some food, water, and a knife. I figured we might need it, since we are traveling the Vines.” The Vines were, as some called them, the Haunted Woods. People had gone in there before, and they never came out. Or, if they did, they were mad, telling stories about ghosts and wizards. Sophie didn’t worry though, after all, she was a shapeshifter. And that reminded her... “Fereld, are you going to be teaching me how to shapeshift? As you said, you are ‘one of the few elves to be graced with that ability.’”
Fereld laughed. “Sophie, when you put it that way, it seems very rude.” Sophie stuck her tongue out at him, and said, “So, when are we going to go?” The elf immediately began to look downcast, remembering what had happened. Recalling his task, Fereld looked at Sophie, and simply replied, “Now.”

~Chapter Two~
Five minute later, they had left what remained of Sophie’s house. Looking back at what had happened, Sophie realized that she was not sorry to leave. Yes, she had had good times there, but now, after what had occurred, Sophie did not want to stay there. They had buried the corpse of her mother, and simply left. Sophie heard something. Fereld had been yelling at her. Ashamed, Sophie glanced up. Fereld was exasperated. “Sophie, you are never going to survive the journey if you don’t PAY ATTENTION!” Seemingly calming down, Fereld continued, “And in case you haven’t noticed, it is almost dark out. We need to reach the Clearing before midnight. It is around 6pm, and it will take a couple of hours to get there. Besides, you are probably starving.” Hearing that, Sophie realized that indeed, her stomach was growling. Fereld saw the expression on her face, and laughed, saying that they were almost at Katahdin, the city closest to the woods. Sophie became conscious that her feet were killing her. Suddenly, the magnitude of what had happened sunk in, and she collapsed, everything going dark.
When she woke, it was pitch black out, and she was in a bed. At first, Sophie had no idea where she was, but then remembered. She sat up, and saw a figure seated in the chair. “H…hello?” She stuttered. The creature shuddered, then stood up. Sophie realized that it was Fereld. The elf had a relieved look on his face. “I’m so glad that you are up. We still must travel, and you have been asleep for a few hours.” Sophie looked at the clocked, and was immediately up out of her bed. They only had 3 hours to get there. Even though Sophie didn’t really know where “there” was. That reminded her, “Fereld, where are we going anyway?” “No time to talk now. Are you feeling better? Here eat some soup, and put your boots on.” Sophie shoved her shoes on, and gulped down the soup. As soon as she was done, Fereld pulled her out the door, a hat covering his face. Sophie realized that if anyone saw Fereld’s ears, many questions would be asked.
Once outside, Sophie realized that she didn’t know which direction to head. She stood back, and let Fereld take the lead. He ran forward, then glanced back and motioned for Sophie to follow him. Fereld ran towards the forest, away from the town and all of its inhabitants…not all of which were good. She remembered a legend that her mother used to tell her about Katahdin, she had never believed it, but now, now, she would believe almost anything. Now how did it go again? Oh, yes. Most stories start out with saying how bad the weather is, but not this one. In this story, you will travel back in time, on a sunny day in Katahdin…
Kara was strolling down the road, intent on her purpose. All around her, market vendors were trying to sell their wares, but Kara had no concern about them. Seemingly oblivious of her surroundings, she was staring at a small shop at the end of the way. This store had not been open for decades, but from the condition of the building, one would not know that. The shop itself was freshly painted, a glossy black, very grim compared to the others on the street. Outside the shop was a flowerbed, filled with budding black roses. The sign simply said, “Flowers.” Kara walked up to the door, and nervously opened it, revealing a shadowy interior. Not a soul nearby realized that anything was happening.
Kara silently tiptoed inside, and the door closed behind her. Suddenly, a scream tore through the bustling market street. It had come from inside the gloomy store. Several people ran down the street, but were stopped when they reached the door of the shop. A force field surrounded the store. There was no way in…and no way out. More screams deafened the ears of the listeners. Then all was deathly still. The force field blanked out, and the group leaning on it fell forward. The door creaked open. The crowd watching drew their breath. Out stepped a creature of some sort, with mottled green skin, and long, dark, hair. Sparks were running over it. It turned around and stared at the people. Abruptly, all of the men slumped forward. They were dead. The creature disappeared. One brave soul, called Mora, went inside of the shop, and found Kara. She brought the girl outside, and dropped her. For once outside, the girl had transformed into a hideous monster, with piercing yellow eyes and horns. Without notice, a woman took out her hunting knife and slaughtered the creature. Mora swore she heard words, and this is what they said. “Seek the Hocuari, for only they can lift the curse that has been brought upon the world. They can help.” That night, all of the people who had seen Kara and the creature died, but not before Mora was able to tell her children about what had happened.
Sophie gasped as she realized that she was a Hocuari. She had never understood what that meant, but now she did. It was her destiny to lift the curse. She glanced up, and saw Fereld waiting for her at the top of a rise. She trudged up the slope, and her face sparkled with awe when she saw what lay beyond it. She had never been out of her hometown of Sohrya, and she did not know that the world could be so large. Fereld looked amused when he realized why she gasped. “It, it’s so big!” Sophie gasped. “I never knew that the world was so large.” Fereld laughed, then immediately quieted down and whispered to Sophie, “Shush. We must be quiet from now on, for we are entering the forest realm. Evil creatures thrive in the cover of the forest, so we must be quiet as we seek the Clearing.” Sophie started to speak up, but then covered her mouth and nodded. “Good,” whispered Fereld.
Fereld started forward, only turning around to make sure that Sophie was following. She carefully picked her way down the rocky hill, and ran to catch up with Fereld at the bottom. She looked down, and ran into something hard. She glanced up. Fereld had stopped in his tracks. She only got out the first syllable of her question when a hand came down and covered her mouth. Fereld shook his head, and released her mouth. Knowing when to keep quiet, Sophie nodded and stayed where she was.
Fereld slunk forward, and then relaxed when he realized whom it was. He beckoned to Sophie, who stood confused in the darkness. She came forward, and then gasped as she realized that several more elves stood before her. Fereld looked at her, and said, “The Elder had a vision which told him that we would be coming. He sent his warrior guards to escort us to the Clearing.” Sophie nodded, overwhelmed.

October 28th, 2006, 11:29 AM
Hi, Rahanwyn101, and welcome to the writing forum. Your story is very good and fast paced.

I think you should let Sophie grieve a little more over her mother's death, and perhaps have Fereld save her from the minotaur, unless there is a very important reason the minotaur doesn't want to kill Sophie.

Also, do they need to rush away before the minotaur comes back or is there time for them to bury her mother (which takes more than five minutes). If there is little time, Fereld should herd Sophie out the door and away to the clearing, without taking any time to grab supplies. If there is time, then show Sophie grieving as they dig a grave, prepare her mother for burial and finally lay her to rest. By then it would probably be evening or even nighttime and she would sleep while Fereld gathered what they would need.

Show how momentous leaving the only place she's ever really known behind to go into the great unknown of the world is to her, on top of the shock of learning what she is AND the death of her mother.

Describe the forest more. Is it dark under a leafy sky? Are there strange sounds to spook Sophie?

I think your story has great potential.

October 28th, 2006, 07:08 PM
Hi Rahanwyn, welcome to sffworld, if you go here: http://www.sffworld.com/community/ and follow the instructions in the Index section, you can post and edit any stories you write to your hearts content, then add links to your work in here to ask for critiques/help :) I deleted your two others posts as you requested.
Hope this helps

October 29th, 2006, 04:33 PM
havent been on this for a long time!

dunno if this is the most appropriate place to post this but im not sure where i should actually post it so if im going about this all wrong feel free to point me in the right direction.

Just looking for some feedback and constructive critism on something im attempting to do. If people wouldnt mind.