The Fortune Teller
June 14, 2343
The Fortune Teller slid out of her bed that early morning. She packed a few items in to bag she would need when traveling deep into the jungle. Once she finds Alexander, she'd read his mind and know his future. The question was would she see him as an Omen or an Angel?
As she entered the jungle, her rough skinned feet never stepped onto sticks, twigs, or insects. She didn't even had to look where she was stepping. Vega's sunlight beamed through the forest as she traveled. The forest was an easy place to blend in with the environment, perfect to hide Alexander.
She moved as if she were a ghost or a snake. A house was found at a clearing of the forest. The boy must be there hiding with his mother and Nadnerb. She looked around to see if anyone spotted her.
"Everything is quiet," she thought. She listened to find a voice and there wasn't. "This is too easy!" She chuckled as she entered the house. "They have got to protect the boy from me better than that."
She found the place deserted. They may have known she was coming. She searched all the rooms, under the beds, under the furniture, in the cabinets, everywhere. No one was home.
"This is going to be harder to find the boy now," grumbled the Fortune Teller.
Even though the house was empty, she's not going to give up on herself. Her eyes burned with hunger for his mind. She snarled, "Now where did they hide that boy?!"
She got out of the house and found a path that went deep into the jungle. The boy must be at the forest's meadow. So she traveled down the path and squeezed though the thicker vegetation.
Then the Fortune Teller found footprints. Footprints had four toes and a thick back toe made by a tall male Cobain. The other prints from a young female human and a young boy. Hot on their trail, she followed to see where those footprints went.
As she continued, she cut through boulder-sized leaves that blocked her path. An army of purple ants scattered across and she waited until it was safe to continue. She had been on that trail for a few hours, but to her it felt like time went by fast. Then came upon a meadow covered with red and blue flowers six feet tall everywhere. Strawberries and coconut fragrance mixed into the air. "They must be hiding the boy in the flowers," she thought.
Then the Fortune Teller heard a young woman laughing and a man telling funny stories. She heard a boy running after butterflies, Alexander's favorite hobby. She went through her bag to look for something to trick Alexander's protectors. She found two mirrors, one with a spell and the other to attract the boy.
She crouched to the ground as if she was going to pounce on a deer. She crawled up just twelve feet near his family. As she raised the mirror without the spell, Alexander saw the reflection.
"Mother, what is it?" asked Alexander. He began to run to the Fortune Teller without knowing she was there.
They turned to where he was going; the Fortune Teller raised the second mirror. The two froze as stone right as they saw it. This spell the Fortune Teller put on them would only last for ten minutes. This gives her enough time to find out the boy's future.
Alexander didn't pay attention while he ran up to where he saw the reflection. As he ran, he came face to face with her. He froze in fear as his eyes were locked into hers.
"Well hello there, child," she smiled. "Don't worry, I don't mean you any harm."
"Who are you?" Alexander was spooked.
"I am a fortune teller! I can read anyone's future. Not only can I read people's future, I can perform magic tricks!" said the fortune teller.
"My mother says I am not allowed to talk to strangers," he said.
"I am no stranger! I am a friend of your uncle," she lied.
"What is his name?" he asked.
"Nadnerb!" she answered.
Alexander thought she was telling the truth. She smiled at him and acted as though she cared for him. Alexander read her as a book to make sure she won't trick him. He felt that he won’t be harmed, so he trusted her.
"Are you ready for me to tell your future?" she asked.
"Yes," he answered.
"Perfect!" she said and took out an orb from her bag to read his future.
"Here is how we are going to do this; you will place your hand on the orb, and I will place my hand on the orb too and my other hand on your head and then I will read your future," she instructed. "Now let us begin!"
So Alexander puts his hand on the orb and so did the Fortune Teller. It was a big mistake as she closed her eyes. As she began to read his future, she saw Nadnerb walking towards a temple where Alexander was born. The sky became dark with large ships blocked their sunlight. Then these ships threw fireballs to the city. The ground shook and everything got caught on fire. An army of demons landed on the surface and slaughtered everyone.
"Demon!" screamed the angry Fortune Teller. "Your blood must be shred for this world!"
Being called an Omen and Demon scared Alexander. He was so scared that he could not run, hide, or protect himself. The Fortune Teller took a sacred dagger out of her bag and snarled, "Your blood must be shed!"
Alexander screamed "Mother!" His scream caused the Fortune Teller's spell to weaken and set Nadnerb and Helen free. As they heard his scream, they rushed to his rescue. Helen grabbed him from the Fortune Teller and held him tight. Nadnerb should have known she would find him. He looked upon the Fortune Teller with anger.
Nadnerb grabbed the dagger from the Fortune Teller, aimed it at her, and yelled angrily, "What did you do?!"
"I saw our own future from that demonic creature!" she was horrified.
"Don't you ever call him that!" screamed Helen.
"What did you do to us?!" demanded Nadnerb.
"I put a spell on you and the young woman so that you would not know I am here," she confessed.
"Hag!" screamed Helen as she held Alexander deep into her chest as she tried to get him to calm down.
"I saw the end of us! We are all going to get killed by the Omen and your army of demons!" screamed the fortune teller.
Helen remembered Alexander's nightmare about the demons and his nightmare was his future. Her eyes were filled with horror. She and her own family were about to die. She couldn't let him die.
"I have to warn everyone! That demon will kill us!" alerted the Fortune Teller.
"The only one who will be killed is you!" roared Nadnerb.
As soon as he said that, he charged at her with the dagger. But the Fortune Teller took out a pouch of powder and threw it to the ground and she disappeared. The family was having fun in the meadow until she appeared. Nadnerb feared of a huge outbreak of panic and riot.
"Both you and Alexander stay together and not let anyone near you, understand?" he commanded them. "As soon as the witch is dead, we will travel far away and everything will start over for us."
"What can we do? Are we going to die?" cried Alexander as he held his mother tightly.
"No we are not going to die!" Nadnerb shouted. "We are going to travel north to the pole. There are rocky islands scattered around, one of them has a cave where we could rebuild a new home. Now go, pack you things and I will try to persuade her to stop this uprising!"
He ran out of the jungle and entered the city. When he got into the city, the Fortune Teller started getting everyone's attention by yelling the end was near. She appeared at the forum and a huge crowd surrounded her. Nadnerb swam through the crowd as he attempted to kill her. He took out his knife and leaped right into the Fortune Teller. But she blocked his strike and knocked him to the ground. Then she began her speech.
"My people listen to me! Alexander known as the "Child of the Heavens" is a demon! We have been deceived by our lords! The child did not come from our lords, the lords we trusted ever since we emerged! Now they can never be trusted! Today, I searched for this boy, looked into his mind, and saw our horrifying future!
"I saw ships from the sky destroying our city, ships full of demons! We will be running for our dear lives, but the demons will track us down and will all die! He and his mother are responsible for bringing them to our world!"
Then everyone began to panic. A few started running to their homes to get out of the city. But a few formed a group joining the Fortune Teller to kill Helen and Alexander. They each had knives, clubs, and farm equipment to be used as weapons.
"We must shed their blood to save our world from the demons," said a male Cobain standing next to her and raising his pitchfork.
"And shedding their blood is what we will do!" declared the Fortune Teller.
Many agreed with her and started getting any tools for weapons. Then Nadnerb woke and saw an angry mob had formed. He started getting up, but one male member of the Fortune Teller's group pinned him with a knife on his throat.
"You are a traitor to the entire world!" hissed the male member of the Fortune Teller's group.
But this man was whacked in the back by Noremac. She helped Nadnerb get back up, but she was upset with him.
"Mother, I failed! The Fortune Teller tricked me!" confessed Nadnerb.
"Never mind that, where is Alexander?!" shouted Noremac.
"He and Helen are deep in the jungle away from the tree house. I told her to travel far away from the city so that no one can find him," he said.
"You have to get them to safety! I have heard about this future from the Fortune Teller! A storm is coming!" she warned.
"A storm?" he asked.
"This future that the Fortune Teller read from Alexander's mind, it is happening now!" she stated. The Fortune Teller's group looked up and dropped their weapons as the sky blacked. The people ran into their homes as if a hurricane was about to hit hard. Nadnerb looked and saw in horror a huge fleet of warring ships hovering high above the sky.
“The Fortune Teller woke up early that morning to travel deep into the jungle. Once she finds Alexander, she'll read his mind and know his future” … this is weirdly expository, probably because “woke up” feels past tense while everything else is her plans for the future. Were you writing it as a note to yourself on the direction of the chapter but left it in?
“she took off her sandals and watched her step so she wouldn't step onto sticks” … not needing to watch for sticks would make her feel more powerful to me, having tough feet-skin is sort of a nature witch-thing to have
“This is too easy! She chuckled” … I feel like she doesn't deserve that until she's at least seen Alex; as it is she's just sneaking up on a house with no one around, anyone could do that. She even realizes it herself after searching the house, “This is going to be harder to find the boy now, grumbled the Fortune Teller” really old lady? Ya think?
“Becoming an enemy to them, she snarled” … what? She was already their enemy – if only because Nad was all “No you can't see him!” for some reason I still don't understand – so what's happening here? Is she transforming into Mecha Evil Old Lady or something?
“The boy must be at the very depth of the jungle” … this lady is full of weird assumptions
“She traveled on that trail for a few hours, but to her it felt like time went by fast” … this feels more like a visual cue for the director than something a reader will understand
“This was a scene from a slasher film, where the victim is unaware of any danger” … Show Don't Tell
“She went through her bag to look for something to trick Alexander's protectors. She found a mirror, but not any ordinary mirror. It would be used to put a spell on Helen and Nadnerb. Another mirror without a spell was only to attract the boy” … this I like (except for how much Telling there is) because it feels like a very classic story with witches and heroes when she pulls out those magic mirrors from her bag
“Alexander read her as a book to make sure she won't trick him” … reading someone like a book generally implies that they are doing well at it, but I don't think Alex is old enough to be that good at reading people and as it turns out he isn't
“Omen! You are a demon!" screamed the angry Fortune Teller. "Your blood must be shred for this world!” … so a) this feels exactly like what someone from an early culture would say, but b) why does she think Alex is the Demon Omen? If anything it might be Nad
“weaken [and set] Nadnerb”
“Nadnerb shouldn't have let this [happen.]” … well he didn't really, but I can see that you're making this a heroic failure
“He turned to Alexander and looked at the Fortune Teller with anger” … wait, he turned one way and looked the other? Is he facing two different directions at once?
“You are a hag” … well that's kind of rude Helen
“a pitch of powder” … patch? pouch?
“Yes! I am very scared!” … please don't let Helen speak like this, she sounds dumb
“We will just travel to an island that no one knows except me” … your heroes really know their secret islands, I think this is the third one so far?
“as he [attempted] to kill her”
“We must shed their blood to save our world from the demons," said a male Cobain raising his pitchfork” … well that escalated quickly. No one is going to doubt the crazy old lady who says she saw demons in the sky?
“an angry mob [had] formed”
“You are a [traitor] to the entire world”
“Nadnerb looked and saw in horror a huge fleet of Helbot ships high above the sky” … I really respect how you can set up a lovely world in one chapter and destroy it utterly a few chapters later, that takes guts and keeps the drama high. I'm not sure why it took five years or whatever for the Helbot army to get here though … also, who named them the Helbots? You just keep using that word but you never really explained where it came from, to my recollection
So I like this chapter and its interesting bits of old-school magic spells from the witch, your heroes are no match for her but that felt right to me. She overreacts quite a bit to her vision, but it fits and then it doesn't matter because wow, apocalyptic army time!
She was not going to give up until she tracked the boy down.
Remember what I said last time about showing and not telling? This line is very tell-y. It's something we could assume from her behavior and don't need blatantly stated.
The rest of the opening paragraph is repeat of everything introduced in the last chapter. The reader already knows this stuff, no need to repeat it.
When she entered the jungle, she took off her sandals so that she won't make noises in the jungle.
You're using past tense, so this should be "wouldn't."
The sunlight from Vega beamed through the forest so that she could see as she was traveling through the forest.
"Was traveling" is passive. "Traveled" is just fine.
She knew that the boy cannot be in the city…
Again, tense shift. Should be "could not."
The forest was a world of hide and seek.
This is one of your strongest lines in the story thus far. Great metaphor.
She moved as if she was either a ghost or a snake.
"Either" isn't necessary here.
She was a predator looking for her prey. That prey was Alexander.
This kind of metaphor is overused, but it fits the mood so I'll let it slide. I would, however, avoid specifying who she's looking for, since we already *know* who she's looking for. Have some faith in your reader and assume s/he can remember info from the previous chapter. It was only a page ago.
"Everything is quite," she thought.
I assume you mean "quiet."
Another typo: chuckled.
"They got to protect the boy from me better than that."
Not sure if this is a colloquialism or not, but the correct phrase would be "They have got…" or "They've got…"
They may have known that she was coming.
I would suggest "they must have known…"
Under the beds, under the furniture, in the cabinets, everywhere!
If you remember my last critique, you know how I feel about exclamation marks in the action and description. Dialogue is OK, as long as you don't overdo it. Otherwise, don't. Ever. That's the last time I'll mention it.
She had become their enemy.
The phrasing here is kinda weird, since it implies *their* viewpoint and not hers. Perhaps "She would become their enemy" or have them become *her* enemy. Think from her viewpoint here, not theirs.
She studied them and found out the ones who made those footprints where a tall male Cobain, a young woman, and a small boy.
where = were?
Something that occurs to me is that this would be another opportunity to show us what the Cobains looks like vs. humans. Surely there is a difference in their footprints, yes? How does she differentiate? Also, the fortuneteller is a Cobain too, right? If so, she would really notice the boy's footprint as different from Nadnerb's, as opposed to the other way around. What I mean is, you might say something like, "She studied the footprints. One set was clearly a Cobain, probably male. The other was small and had five toes--a human." You don't have to do this exactly, I'm just showing how you *might* do it. Notice that all I mention is the number of toes, so we know the Cobain has more/less. These are the kind of details that matter in fantasy.
There were flowers everywhere. The flowers were tall, like about six foot.
As before, don't describe the flowers as being "everywhere." We're in a meadow, we can assume as much. I like that you mention they were tall, though I would avoid "like" as a qualifier. It's too conversational and doesn't fit the style you're going for. Otherwise, I would be a bit more descriptive. What color are the flowers? How do they smell? Don't follow my commands precisely, but think about using details like that to enhance the description.
Not only that I read people's future, I also perform magic tricks!
that = can
Then Alexander screamed "Mother!" and Nadnerb and Helen rushed to his rescue from the fortune teller.
This is kinda confusing. Weren't they just turned to stone like 5 minutes ago? It might be smart to add some kind of transition, so we know that the spell is very temporary. Otherwise, this just doesn't make sense. Crappy spell, if you ask me.
"You Hag!!!!!!" screamed Helen as she held Alexander deep into her chest as she trying to get him to calm down.
Yeah…here's an example where all the exclamation marks are unnecessary. One mark is probably fine.
Also, I would remove "as she [tried] to calm him down" entirely. For me, her action of holding him says as much as I need. You might in some other line be sure that we know he's crying or showing fear, but otherwise it's unnecessary to explain why she's holding him.
The family was having fun in the meadow until the fortune teller saw Alexander's future. The fortune teller was going to tell everyone about it and there will be a huge outbreak of panic and riot! He was not going to let this witch tell everyone about the future.
Again, show don't tell.
We know what the family was doing in the meadow and how the fortune teller ruined everything. Let us guess what happens next, or have them discuss what they think will happen next. Don't tell us.
Alexander also known as the "Child of the Heavens" is a demon!
For quotes inside of quotes, you should use an apostrophe instead: "…also known as the 'Child of the Heavens'…"
But personally, I think this title would be OK without quotes. As long as you capitalize, we know that it's a title they've given him.
OK. Overall, I found this chapter somewhat more effective than the last. The first half or so, especially, when the fortune teller is looking for Alexander is actually quite engaging. You're shifting the viewpoint and having us see what she sees. Your language and metaphors enhance the feeling of being on a hunt, which instills a sense of dread about what's to come. This is good. I would encourage you to think more about applying this idea to other chapters.
The one thing that would enhance this chapter overall is more attention to language and description. I noticed about halfway through that a lot of the sentences have a similar structure or follow a similar patterning structure. For instance, a lot of sentences read "She [action]…" This is OK in the first 3-4 paragraphs, since it enhances the mood. But after a while, it gets old. The other problem is that you prefer short declarative sentence, which again, works for the feel at the beginning, but gets old as the story progresses. Don't be afraid to combine sentences, throw in some conjunctions, etc. See if you can open a sentence with something besides a noun or pronouns. You use "then" and "but" at the beginning of a lot of sentences, so try varying that too. It's OK to structure sentences the way you're doing, but try to vary it a bit.
Regarding description, part of what works in the first 3-4 paragraphs is that you use some details of the setting to enhance the feel. But as the story progresses, you seem more concerned with action and dialogue, and you miss some opportunities to fill in details that are going to add interest. For instance, what does the journey to the city look like? You still don't specify distance or length of the journey. Are there any details in the city that would enhance that last scene? What does the angry mob look like? Last time I suggested improving the description, you kinda went by my exact words and did what amounted to randomly inserting bits and pieces. What I want you to do is to think about what needs to be described, what is useful to the mood of each scene, what helps us understand more about the situation. Maybe a description of the mob isn't necessary. But maybe a description of the street or specifying time of day is. It's really up to you. Just think about what will help the story and add some color/interest. When you're reading a fantasy or science fiction story, what details interest you?
I think I might have mentioned this in my last crate, but you don't need tags for every bit of dialogue. Most of your tags are pretty redundant when considering the punctuation. Maybe there is some other action that helps express what the character is saying? Like is he scratching his nose? Is she baring her teeth? Stuff like that says a lot. Again, go with what feels right to you.
One last thing…. The setup for this chapter has problems in terms of plotting/logistics. In the last chapter, they learned of the fortune teller's plan. It seems to me like they should have hidden Alexander and maybe told him, "Hey, if some stranger lady wants to read your fortune, don't let her!" But here we have the characters in a prone position, not in their house and not very well hidden/protected. The kid is initially suspicious (stranger danger!) but totally falls for the line about telling his future. All of this seems pretty dumb to me, considering the level of panic you closed with in the previous chapter. Smart characters would have taken somewhat better precautions, or at least acted less dumbfounded when the inevitable occurred. Are your characters stupid? If not, can you explain in the story why they didn't bother with precautions? The only excuse I see is that it was necessary for the plot, which is a weak excuse. Work on making this whole portion of the plot more believable.
Hope this critique is helpful. I notice that you have written many more chapters. I can try to leave a comment on Chapter 3, but I can't guarantee it will be any time soon. Will do my best. Let me know if you have any questions or whatever. Always glad to help!
I am not sure why you added "so she could find Alexander." This is the kind of stuff I pointed out in my crit, the repetition and showing instead of telling. No need to tell me why she's in the jungle when I can easily deduce the reason.
Once Alexander is found, she'll read his mind and know his future. She was a hunter hunting for the boy's future. She wanted to know everything about this boy. Will she see him as an Oman or an Angel?
Again, it's "would," not "will." You need to read through the entire piece and make the tense consistent.
When she entered the jungle, she took off her sandals so that she wouldn't make noises in the jungle.
Missed this on my first comment, but you repeat "jungle" twice here.
"This is too easy! She chuckled.
Forgot to close out quotation.
Alexander thought she was telling the truth. She knew his uncle's name is Nadnerb, which would tell him that she was a friend. He was starting to trust her.
This whole paragraph is, again, what I mean by telling. Of course she uses the name of a guy Alexander knows to gain his trust. This is all very obvious. The only thing you might really want to do is show how she is behaving to gain the boy's trust. Is she smiling at him, or something else? How does Alexander behave? Show me.
Otherwise...I see you cut out some of the exclamation marks, but I still noticed a few here and there. You also left most of the dialogue tags ("hissed," "confessed," "shouted," etc.) in the piece, which is still distracting and worth fixing. I'm not noticing any changes in the imagery/description, so I would suggest continuing to work on that. My issues with the plotting haven't changed. Mostly you need to work on the repetition and showing instead of telling. More specifically, stop explaining things that have already been explained. There is still much work to be done. Good luck!
-getting better though
If I'm correct, the event in which Alexander is born is a huge event amongst the Cobains. There's a good chance almost every Cobain is going to have a strong memorization of the event and how it shaped Cobain history. Therefore, I don't think you should have the fortune teller asking the Cobains to remember it or recall it. Instead, she may simply run into the city shouting "The Alexander child is a demon! We've been misguided for years"
If I were to reword the speech(the part I pasted above in this message it would be: "My people, listen to me! We've been decieved. The Alexander child is a demon. The child of a foreign race, the one we've trusted for years, cannot be trusted any longer. For years, we embraced the child, as a mother would her very own, but I have forseen his future, and it is a threat to our existence. His future is our demise."
Firstly, I'd recommend that you stick to past tense throughout your story. So, the sentence should say--> "He ran as fast as he could". Secondly, running to "get out of the jungle into the jungle" makes no sense.
Let's break it down: "He ran" is a past tense statement, which you've combined with the following "as fast as he can". "can" is the present tense. "could", the past tense version of can, should definitely replace it. Tense is something you never change in the course of a story, let alone a single sentence.
Make sure you understand tense agreement and the grammatical rules that surround it, otherwise you'll continue to make mistakes throughout all the writing you create. Good luck!
However, I've got a few things I'd offer critique to. First off is your past/present tense swaps. Secondly, you should be mindful, like I said on chapter 1, of how much you reveal to the audience. Many times in this chapter you are rendundant.
For instance, as the fortune teller reads Alexander's fortune you state that she sees an army of demons: "Then an army of demons landed on the surface and started killing everyone"
After she sees the fortune you state: "She jumped back from Alexander with horror in her eyes! She read the future that is the end of the world. Demons are coming to kill everyone and there will be no one left." ----- it is evident to the reader that she "read the future that is the end of the world", and you repeat what the fortune told just a paragraph back.
(try to avoid repeating yourself too much, unless a character is saying to another what he witnessed. Even then the repetition should be paraphrased, or reworded)
However, you could word "She read the future that is the end of the world." much better. You could say "She had forseen the end of the world"
1st paragraph: "As she began to read his future, she saw the city with her people minding their own business. She saw Nadnerb walking towards the temple where Alexander was born when all of the sudden, the sky became dark. The Cobains looked up and saw large ships blocking their sunlight and then the ships phew fireballs to the city. The ground shook, the city was catching on fire, and everyone was running in panic. Then an army of demons landed on the surface and killed everyone!"
2nd paragraph: "She jumped back from Alexander with horror in her eyes! She read the future that is the end of the world. Demons are coming to kill everyone and there will be no one left. She was told not to look at his future and she should have listened!"
the part that is not needed in the 2nd paragraph: "She read the future that is the end of the world. Demons are coming to kill everyone and there will be no one left." (notice that this is redundant? You're repeating what you said in paragraph 1) There is not really a need for the repition, so to me it sounds awkward. Repition is used to emphasize something. While the thing you repeated is worthy of emphasis, I'd say the two paragraphs are so close together that the emphasis doesn't sound good. You know? hope it helps
I'd also recommend that since this appears to be mostly told from her perspective that you keep that up. Instead of describing the environment, describe how she percieves the environment.
Ex: The grass is green.
Replacement: She looked upon the green grass. (and maybe work in the occasional adverb)
"We are all going to BE killed by you,"
"from the APPROACHING demons."
"THEN shedding their blood is what we SHALL do."
I skimmed for errors, but the story seemd rather alright.