Giovanna walked along the side of the street, avoiding the heavy activity. Carriages pulled by horse covered most of the street, with people who spoke loudly covering what’s left. Though loud as it was it only got worse as construction workers arrived to make repairs on a nearby house that looked as though a giant had taken a bite out of it, the gaping hole revealing a bed that was missing its lower half.

Giovanna edged closer to her target and stealthily hid behind several wooden barrels. She raised her head just enough so that her eyes could admire a young man who stood alone with his back to her. She hadn’t the faintest clue who this man was, and she didn’t care either. She wanted a closer look at the finely crafted sword that was strapped to his side. Giovanna was positive that this man had to be a Warrior, and not just some common village guard.

Giovanna raised her body by a few more inches. She placed a hand on top of the nearest barrel for support, and it, along with the rest of her arm, sank, making her hit the edge of the barrel with her throat, and making a loud splash.

Giovanna retreated her now wet arm, hid again, and massaged her neck. She peered over the barrels, her eyes watery, and was relieved to see that no one had noticed. She looked inside the barrel and saw an eleven-year-old girl look back at her with a pained expression.

‘’No – keep still!’’ Giovanna whispered to her long bushy hair, color brown, which soared in every direction due to a gust of wind.

‘’Oi! Mike!’’

Giovanna peered over the barrels again and saw another Warrior, a young man with a nervous face and a katana strapped to his back.

‘’I’ve got the reports!’’ he said breathlessly to the other. ‘’I hope the Captain’s in a good mood…’’

‘’She ain’t,’’ said Mike. He glanced around, making Giovanna duck momentarily. ‘’I dug around – two men, six teenagers, and a young girl died in the attack.’’

The other shook his head vigorously. ‘’No girl died – that’s just a rumor –‘’

‘’There are eyewitnesses left and right, Kyle, how can you say –‘’

‘’Listen!’’ said Kyle impatiently, wiping some sweat from his brow. ‘’Almost everyone died in the woods – only one man died here in the village. We checked the forest and found no body of the supposed girl!’’

‘’The Shadowless might’ve – well –‘’ Mike gulped, ‘’eaten her…’’

‘’That’s what we thought too!’’ said Kyle. ‘’But Mina checked the village records and no girl, young or old, is missing – it’s just a rumor.’’

‘’These stupid villagers are making our jobs harder,’’ said Mike loud enough for a passing woman to launch him a glare. ‘’We need to get this right – I do not want to give the Captain a faulty report again… She went bonkers last time…’’

Both of them left at a run, as another Warrior, a woman, called for them. Giovanna remained behind, giggling at the two, who behaved as though they forgot to write an essay for their teacher.

‘’Hey, girl, what’re yeh doing?’’

Giovanna sprang up and spotted a grumpy-looking old man eyeing her suspiciously.

‘’What’re yeh up to?’’ he said. ‘’Yer not tryin ter steal nothin, are yeh?’’

‘’No, sir,’’ said Giovanna, shaking her head.

‘’What’s wrong with yer clothes?’’

‘’This is how I normally dress!’’ said Giovanna before she could stop herself, feeling incredibly stupid after one look at herself. Her jeans were ripped in several places and were covered with dirt, one of her shoes was missing a lace, and her overly large shirt had tears around the hem.

‘’Listen ere’, girl, I don’t appreciate being lied –‘’

‘’Er – oh, she’s stealing!’’ Giovanna shouted, pointing at a woman who was appraising an apple. The grumpy old man went after the innocent woman, yelling incoherently. Giovanna made a run for it and disappeared into the busy street. She didn’t mean to cause any trouble, but she felt she had been forced to… why would he assume she was stealing? Crazy man…

Everyone in the village seemed to be talking about the same thing: the recent Shadowless attack. Giovanna could hear people around her describing the beast and how terrible it had been. One of the two men who sat on the carriage next to Giovanna was saying loudly, apparently keen to get everyone’s attention, how he’d escaped the Shadowless by barely a centimeter. Giovanna was rather glad that the village was distracted: the state of her clothes had attracted a lot of attention the last few villages she had gone through.

‘’No, you cannot be a Warrior!’’

Giovanna flinched and looked to her left. A young boy was being scolded by his mother, who pulled him by the wrist.

‘’But –‘’

‘’No arguing!’’

Giovanna felt the side of her head collide with something solid. ‘’Sorry, mister…’’

The man Giovanna had bumped into glanced over his shoulder and then appeared to have chosen to pretend she didn’t exist, for he turned back to his friend without a word to Giovanna.

She turned to watch the boy and his mother, but they had gone. That woman had sounded so much like her own mother… Giovanna wrung the ripped hems of her shirt as a strong feeling of guilt twisted her stomach. It was only after she passed another deformed house that she realized she hadn’t a clue where she was going.

She quickly dug into the back pocket of her jeans and pulled out a crumpled article, along with the last surviving gold coin – its fellows having been spent on the long journey to Omise village. She flattened the article as best she could and reread it completely, as it had become a habit to do so whenever she felt even mildly anxious.

Ryu Hayashi – Out of retirement!

How many of you could truthfully say that you remembered that name? Ryu Hayashi, the legendary Warrior and Sensei, had fallen a tad into obscurity after his retirement almost twenty years ago.

7 thoughts on “Reina

  1. packoffeathers says:

    Strong opening.
    In the third paragraph I thought everything was intentional up to and including “sink” so that made me stumble.
    Then from the moment she is “giggling” it seems like a different writer took over. There is a change in tone, suddenly everything that has been shown (very nicely I may add) is told as an infodump, and it turns out there is actually no reason the mc was spying on these men.
    Also, “what’s wrong with your clothes” seems a weird way to say someone looks poor, and I don’t believe pointing and shouting would work as distraction on any market salesman.
    You have potential. Be that first writer!

  2. passmoreskittles says:

    I like the idea of “The Shadowless”. Are they creatures or people? It makes me want to find out more!

    I agree with the first comment about several key points. Many segments sound like a new writer has taken over at different times. Also, there’s too much info dumping from characters’ conversations. Some info needs to come out more naturally throughout the story rather than all at once and not in an overly convenient way.

    We were introduced to this girl hiding in a barrel, but your protagonist immediately left before we could find out who she was or what the point of her being in the barrel was. The mother and son duo talking about him becoming a warrior was so quickly said and then so quickly discarded. Both scenes with the little girl and the mom with her son seemed almost pointless to mention if they’re going to be dropped so suddenly. Maybe add in more meat to these areas so the readers can understand what’s happening in this world.

    And I agree again with the first comment that it’s very cliche that the salesman was so easily deterred by a corny and unbelievable distraction. The warriors talking at the beginning also seemed a little corny too. And with that mother of the boy being afraid to let her son grow up to be a warrior, it almost seemed she had nothing to be afraid of since we (the readers) didn’t see anything menacing from them. Are we supposed to be intimidated by them?

    There’s good bones to this beginning! Adding more meat and substance will help build the world more (in my opinion). Keep up the good work1 🙂

  3. Sarah says:

    Definitely intriguing, but I felt as a reader that I needed a little more context. What is Giovanna trying to do? Does she succeed? The moment someone thinks she’s stealing I get a little lost in what she wanted to begin with. I loved the clumsy moment at the beginning, and noticed the way she pays attention to Warriors, when she sees them, when they’re spoken of. Shadowless sound cool and definitely made me curious, but my appreciation for what was happening got swamped down by questions – where is Giovanna? What does her world look like? Carriages and katanas and barrels paint a certain picture and then ripped jeans and someone named Kyle suggest something more modern. Katanas and Ryu Hayashi suggest something else and it’s hard to see how all these elements fit together. I think they can absolutely fit together and make for an interesting premise, but as a reader I could use for the gaps between these different concepts to be filled in more fluidly/with more detail.

  4. Liene says:

    I am definitely intrigued to know more about this story and this world, even though nothing much has happened yet. There is an odd mashup of worlds, and it did have me confused as to why there are horses on the streets and carriages, yet Giovanna is wearing jeans.

    The story does seem all over the place, jumping from one moment to the next really fast without completely saying what is going on, and the things happening seem small enough that you won’t be returning to explain them more later. A bit more context and more fluid joining together of the different actions would likely help in my opinion.

    All in all, I like your writing and the story and world have a lot of potential! 🙂

  5. gbmeek says:

    This does set us up for an interesting read. The conflict is there, I would just like to see a different choice of words in places and to be able to establish a sense of the time period.
    A few suggestions:
    *I might start the book with..”Giovanna peered over the barrels..” and weave in the prior details, but with more concise language. For instance, “Giovanna whispered to her long bushy hair, color brown, which soared in every direction due to a gust of wind.” Is it really the hair she is talking to, or is it this character under the hair?
    *to launch him a glare. I might say to glare at him as she passed..
    *When words like “Bonkers” are used, and the fact she is wearing jeans, both kind of throw me off. Is this a girl who traveled from present to medieval times?
    *had fallen a tad into obscurity after his retirement almost twenty years ago. I might leave out “a tad”
    Enjoy the process!

  6. vanessafowler says:

    Paragraph 1: I like how you describe the street, although, some of the phrasing and word choices could be polished up.

    Paragraph 2: It’s weir that she’s admriing the young man, but then you say that she doesn’t care who he is (although I get why). I’m interested in Giovanna’s perspective…good job sparking my curiosity.

    Paragraph 3-5: Does she plunge her arm into the same barrel as the girl is in? It’s a sminch confusing, and Giovanna looks clumsy, if that’s what you’re going for. I liked the hair description, but, if she’s in the barrel, how’s the wind getting at her?

    Paragraph 4: why is Warrior capitalized? I’m curious.

    After that, what is Giovanna trying to accomplish? Give me more clues so I can follow her goals in the midst of all this fun action!

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