The Lil Gods and the Rise of the Giants

The night had unleashed another blizzard that left Argos covered under a thick blanket of snow.
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The weather advisory read:
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WARNING! All citizens must remain indoors until further notice.
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But by the break of dawn, the urge to bolt outside and plaster each other with snow was too much for the children of Argos. After all, school had been cancelled—a special treat of the highest order.
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At quarter till seven, they had stormed into the woods to set off a complete riot. They chose captains and formed teams; each side drew battle plans and quickly manned their posts. Boys and girls alike made snowballs by the dozens, dumping them in large buckets that were hauled away by the older kids.
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Others took to the hills and trees to gear up their snowball launchers for what they called the Winter Wars. “ONE, TWO, THREE…FIRE!” shouted the captains as the two rival teams blasted each other with what looked like a magnificent hailstorm.
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For a brief moment, the children had forgotten that they were under military lockdown inside the Province of Argos.
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Of course, the military was always cautious not to call a citizen of Argos a prisoner. That wouldn’t sit well with the Watchers. Yet civilians were forbidden to do anything that was against military rules—and with Lieutenant Abner in charge of the security of the city—everything was prohibited.
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The Lieutenant was a tall, skeletal man with a dark beard and a pointed, crooked nose that nearly touched his chin when he smiled, which was rare. He called the citizens of Argos guests, yet he forbade them to leave the city without permission. He ordered all citizens to be in their cabins by six in the evening each day, and required them to bear an armlet to track them at all times. He would’ve made the kids wear them, too, were it not for the Watchers who ruled it illegal for the military to strap them on children.
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Actually, the word around the province was that Lieutenant Abner couldn’t possibly be more dull. He didn’t care to indulge in feasts or gatherings—and he certainly didn’t approve of the children’s ridiculous Winter Wars!
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Even so, when snow fell, the children constantly pleaded with their mothers to let them take part in the winter games, and many felt it was their duty to let them go. Hannah was one of those moms who found it completely absurd to tell her son, Simon, that he wasn’t allowed to play like a normal child.
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Hannah had dark red hair that reached down her narrow waist. She had retired from the armies of the Ninth Order recently—after having fought seven years in the War of Angels—a brutal battle between the Dark Legion and the Ninth Order.
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The conflict had taken a deep toll on planet Nibiru, especially on the soldiers and families of Argos. What was once a city full of life had been turned into a place of ruins. Thousands of families with children were forced to abandon their homes. Thousands more died fighting, while the living became displaced citizens in their own land.
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The Order had been successful defending against enemy insurgents in the last nine months. In fact, there hadn’t been any attacks in Argos since then—but the war was far from over.
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Hannah and Saphira sat quietly on their porch counting the minutes for their two boys to come home. Three long hours had passed yet the children were nowhere in sight, and with hordes of fretful moms swarming outside their cabin, the silence had utterly vanished.
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Saphira paced back and forth on her porch. “I told him. I told that Gadi not to leave,” she said. “If the Dark Legion—”
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“Saphira, let’s not assume what we don’t know. Agree?” said Hannah.
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“I swear, if that child isn’t back in five minutes, I’m going to smash open this stupid bracelet, find him, and give him a swift beating.”
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Hannah stood in front of Saphira, trying to stop her from pacing. “And then what? You’d risk going to jail for removing that silly device?”
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“Maybe.” Saphira walked back and forth even faster.
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“They’ll be home soon. They’re just kids having fun.”
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Saphira finally stood still.
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“You’re right. You’re always right, Hannah. I’m sure young Simon is perfectly fine, too. They’re good children, the two of them. But you know how trouble just seems to creep up on those boys.”
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Hannah grabbed Saphira by the arm. “Come, let’s go inside and get you some warm—”
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BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!!!
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A thundering explosion came roaring from the woods and shook the earth beneath the moms who were scurrying for cover like scattered ants, debris flying everywhere. They tried to brace themselves, but the force of the blast hurled them twenty feet into the air and plunged them to the ground as if they were disposable rag dolls.
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Saphira and the women landed by a hedge, buried under a mountain of snow, which had fallen from tall trees.
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Hannah lay nearby, a drop of blood running down her nose. Perched on her belly, she dug her knees and elbows into the ground, propelling herself toward Saphira and the others who were breaking their way out of heaps of snow.
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“Is everyone all right?” said Hannah.
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Shivering with fear, Saphira pointed toward the woods, where a rising white cloud of smoke slowly began to shape into what seemed like a giant mushroom.
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Terror sank inside Hannah’s heart. “Simon,” she whispered.
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She rose to her feet and ripped off her steel armlet as if it were a thin rubber band.
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“DO NOT FOLLOW ME,” Hannah warned Saphira. She fell on her knee, crouching like a Niberian tiger. Snow dust began to swirl around her, the earth beneath trembling. Then two glorious wings, each at least six feet wide, coiled behind her before snapping wide open.
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With great force, she thrust herself into the sky and took flight in search of Simon.

5 thoughts on “The Lil Gods and the Rise of the Giants

  1. maggiehasbrouck says:

    Fantasy is not my favorite genre, but there was a lot that I liked about this opening.
    Aside from one or two sentences that felt clunky, I liked the writing and the tone of the narrator.

    I wanted this sentence a little sooner “For a brief moment, the children had forgotten that they were under military lockdown inside the Province of Argos.” Once I read this, I was interested in the snowball fights.

    I think the hard thing here is that the story is about Simon and yet the action is with his mother. I understand why it needs to be this way and I am intrigued by the idea of the search. Still, I want to know Simon better so I really care that he is missing.

    The parts where I got bored were the descriptions of battles. It felt like too much like a list of information. I think it could be woven into action of the story and feel much more organic. More like the way you introduce the tracking bracelet, which worked great for me.

    I’m also not sure why Lieutenant Abner showed up before Simon. Even if he is a major player in the story, I still want Simon first.

    This might be nit-picking, but I thought 20 feet into the air was too much.

    I loved this; “Snow dust began to swirl around her, the earth beneath trembling. Then two glorious wings, each at least six feet wide, coiled behind her before snapping wide open.”
    It is what would keep me reading.

    Thanks for posting

  2. Manolo Guillen says:

    Thank you, Maggie. I really appreciate your critique. Your words were very insightful and I will definitely take your advice.

  3. Tom says:

    I’m not sure who the protagonist is here. Since this is MG, I am guessing it’s Simon so he should make a bigger impact on this page.
    I liked the description of Hannah and how her wings uncoiled and snapped open.

    Thanks for posting.

    Tom

    • Manolo Guillen says:

      Thank you for your comments, Tom! In my thinking I was laying a foundation to introduce Simon in the next paragraphs, but I’m learning that that might not be the best way to go. I definitely don’t want to lose my readers.

  4. Jacob says:

    The main character needs to be introduced much sooner in the story. I think that the setting is interesting, and the concept of this entire province being under military control made me want to keep reading. With that being said, it was difficult to read along without a character to care about. Is the entire story going to be about Hannah? As the reader that is what I’m going to assume. So start by focusing on her, and find a way to break down the several paragraphs of backstory that come before and with her introduction. And show don’t tell, that is very important. Show me the tracking bracelet, don’t just tell me (maybe it itches because Hannah isn’t used to wearing it, that would give you a natural opportunity to describe what it is). I think that the lieutenant is someone that should be introduced later. One last thing, there were a few questions that popped into my head:
    1. Why hasn’t the city just been evacuated?
    2. Why is it wrong to put tracking bracelets on the children?
    3. Since this province is in ruins and there is the threat of invasion, why are these mothers so supportive of their children playing outside? Isn’t that dangerous?
    Those are just my thoughts on where your story is now. You have an interesting concept that I’d like to see more of in the future.

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