Peer Review by The Dreamer (South Africa)

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Working Title Chapter #1

By: runaways


    The grand throne room was flooded with light from the large windows set at the back of the room. Tapestries hung from the long walls displaying everything from dragons to fairies, to war pictures. At the heart of the throne room sat a glorious, golden throne. Everything was what you would expect in the castle of a great King and it all looked bright and welcoming. But as soon as one stepped in, one would feel an immediate shiver that has nothing to do with the temperature; the source of this feeling was never located.

The scowl on his father's face did not help settle Miles’s nerves; he never really did well in these situations. The guards opened the large wooden doors, revealing two hooded figures.
“Your majesty,” announced one of the guards. “These two have requested your council.”
“Very well,” the king replied. The scowl slowly vanishing off his face, replaced with the calculated calm a king is expected to have. Miles tried to copy his father’s expression but his nerves made it hard to focus.
“Your majesty,” said the first figure in a voice that was obviously masculine. The second hooded figure knelt in a sweeping curtsy towards the king, who was seated on his high and mighty throne. Miles stood next to the king, silent, as was expected of him. “We have come to seek your guidance. For our people have-”
“I can not think of a reason why you have kept your faces hidden unless you have something to hide. In which case I will not speak with you.” King Demetrius announced, his voice echoing throughout the large room, cutting off the speaker.
In almost perfect unison, both figures reached up and pulled down their hoods, revealing two of the most enchanting faces Miles had ever seen. Both of them had pale skin, set off by their flowing black hair. But while the man’s eyes were emerald green, the girl’s were the brightest blue Miles had ever seen. Her black hair was braided through by colorful, little flowers; so out of place in the cold throne room, that it took all Miles had to fight the smile pulling at his lips. That's when he saw them. The girl’s ears, they were pointed. Miles quickly looked over to the man, hoping it was not true, but his ears were also pointed.
Miles struggled to keep his face emotionless, for a prince should never give away shock. His father's voice rang through his head; your enemies will not hesitate to use your weaknesses against you. Miles knew it was true, but still, the shock that ran through his body was vast. It’s not like I’ve never seen a fairy before, thought Miles. That was true, he had seen plenty of fairies in his textbooks, and a few from a distance in the markets. But never this close, and never in the palace. Miles glanced over at his father in order to see his reaction. To an untrained eye, the king’s face forsaken no emotion; but Miles knew better. The tension in his shoulders betrayed the energy that it took to keep his face bare of disgust. Miles couldn’t quiet the voice echoing in his head: unnatural, unnatural.
The girl, who couldn’t have been much younger than Miles himself, spoke for the first time. “We are so sorry to bother you but we have no other choice,” her voice flowed sweet like honey but there was a cold sadness in her eyes that couldn’t be hidden. “Our village has been attacked and taken over by bandits. Please, we have nowhere to go.”
“I’m not sure what you want me to do,” the king's voice was stern, amplified by the high ceiling and long walls. “We do not do charity.”
“And we do not want your charity, only a little grace in our time of need,” the girl’s words almost sounded like a plea but her face was still set in clear determination.
“Just a place to stay for a little before we can start anew,” piped in the man.
“And where exactly do you expect us to put you? Despite common belief, there are not countless houses here, in Anacora.”
Miles knew he shouldn’t but he couldn’t help it. He opened his big mouth. “Is it only the two of you? Where is everyone else?” For a dreadful moment, the room was completely deprived of all sound. The fairy man looked at Miles as if just realizing he was there. Miles could only imagine the look of surprise and disappointment on his father's face, but he refused to look or back down.
Then the girl spoke up, “Yes, it’s only us. My father and I ran as soon as we heard the bandits and their horses over the hills.” Her fierce determination had started to slip away, replaced by a faraway look in her eyes. “We are the only ones who made it out. Please, my little brother is still there.”
“What are your names?” Miles demanded in his best imitation of his father.
“I am Alessia Truewood of Darkmoth and my father here is Baldwynn Truewood.”
Finally, Miles let himself look at his father. The message in his eyes was clear; Miles would regret this later. But he couldn’t stop now. The coice in his head wouldn't quit: Unnatural. Unnatural. But for some unknown reason, Miles felt a strong need to stand up for these... people? Are they even really people? “Father, there may not be infinite houses in Anacora but there are countless rooms in this palace. Definitely enough for two just seeking quick refuge who, need I remind you, are from a village that is, in fact, part of your province. Surely we can spare one or two rooms.”
“You have no right to make decisions in my name,” The hatred did not fade from the king’s eyes as he turned back to Alessia and Baldwynn.
“But do you really have a room we could stay in?” inquired Alessia, a glimmer of hope shining behind her act of determination.
“Not one that is available at this time.”
“But father, if it was me who was captured, wouldn't you want someone to help?” Miles tried.
“That would be different.”
“How am I any different from the little boy who has lost his family?”
“You are to be king!”
“If I am to be king then I must be able to make decisions. If you won’t help them find their son and brother, then the least you can do is provide a room for them.” Miles could tell that he had won. If his father refused, then he would not only look like a bad king, but a bad father as well. If there was one thing Miles was sure of, it is that his father cared more of what others saw then what really happened.
“Fine,” he said, turning back to the Truewoods. “You may stay in the palace for no more than a week. Then you must find your own place.”
“Thank you, thank you. Your generosity will be rewarded,” Baldwyyn exclaimed. Alessia said nothing but her face lit up with a smile.
“I think we’re done here,” Demetrius said with a wave. “Guards, will you please escort these people-” I guess they are people, Miles thought to himself, “-to the guest rooms.”
“Yes, your majesty,” and the guards were off with Alessia and Baldwyyn in tow.
“I think I’ll just go…” stuttered Miles as he started to walk away, planning to get as far from his father's rage as quick as possible.
“You think you can just leave after you have made me look like a fool,” the King’s voice was deprived of emotion. That's when Miles knew. He was in for it. “You are sadly mistaken.”
His father got out of his throne slowly. Taking Miles by the arm, he pulled him out of the joyless room into a hallway which was not much better. Miles knew where he was going and knew what awaited him. But he couldn’t help it. He felt proud that he had helped someone.
Even if that someone is a fairy?
I don’t know yet.
By the time Miles started down the endless hallways towards his room, the sky was striped with the pinks and purples of a setting sun. His face still burned and he was already developing a slight bruise under his left eye.
This is what you get for standing up for two fairies. For all you know, they could be thieves.
Miles was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn’t look before turning the corner. There was a sudden collision and Miles stumbled backward.
“I’m so sorry,” stammered Miles as he tried to regain his balance with a grace most unprincelike. He looked up and saw the fairy girl, Alessia, who had already gained her balance with no visible difficulty. Alessia’s gazed fell to the floor, seming unable to meet Miles’.
“It’s not your fault, I should have paid more attention to where I was going,” she said in her silver voice. Miles couldn’t help but notice, not without some disappointment, that the flowers had been removed from her hair.
“It’s quite all right,” there was a moment of silence in which neither knew what to say or where to look, she still hadn’t looked up at Miles. What do you say to someone who you’ve been taught to hate your whole life? Miles couldn’t take the silence any longer, “Ummm, so how do you like your room?”
“It’s okay I guess, a lot bigger than I’m used to. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many pillows,” a small smile played on her delicate lips. “I wanted to thank you for, you know…”
“No problem. I was just doing my job I guess.” Miles kept his gaze on the blood-colored tapestry hanging on the wall, following the blue and gold swirls with his eyes. Nervously, he switched his weight to his other foot.
“You don’t sound so sure of what that job is.” She was definitely smiling now.
“I don’t normally get to make decisions around here,” now Miles was the one fighting the earge to smile.
Finally, Alessia looked up and her face was clouded by concern, “What happened to your face?”
“Oh, that, uh” Miles' hand reached up, almost like an instinct, to touch his face. “I um, ran into a door.”
“You really aren't fit to be a prince. Are you?” At that Miles let out a small laugh.
Suddenly he remembered the sad look in Alessia’s eyes when she described the attack on her village. “I don’t know if it is my place to say anything but, um, if you want to talk,” wow this is hard. “Um, about your brother or anything, I’m here.”
She looked up at Miles skeptically, “Sure, because you're just waiting to listen to my problems, right? You do know I’m a fairy? Or maybe you really are just that nieve.”
“What do you mean by that?” but of course Miles knew exactly what she meant.
“You know, I’m a fairy and you’re...” she looked Miles up and down. “Well, you’re you. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate your help but we’re just not meant to be friends.”
Miles couldn’t deny it. From a young age, he was told that fairies could never be trusted, that they were vicious and cruel and, well, unnatural. But he felt an obligation to help Alessia. Maybe he was finally stepping into his role as prince. Maybe for some reason, pushed deep down, he wanted to undermine his father. Or maybe there was a totally different reason. It didn’t matter. He wanted to help her find her brother, even if they were natural enemies.
“Maybe we aren’t meant to be friends but that doesn't mean I can’t help you.”
“You?” she said with a smirk. “Do you really think you can help me?”
“Yes,” he was sure this could work, if she would only give him a chance.
“How?” the smirk still hadn’t vanished and it was really starting to effect Miles’ motivation to help her. “How do you plan to help me?”
“I can help you get your brother back.”

Peer Review

This was great!! I loved it, every bit. From the character building, to the suspense, to the magical and fantastical aspects of it.

You probably don't remember me, but I reviewed your very first draft of this story. And I am delighted to see that you took my advice. Last time I was worried about the introduction of Miles and how he sort of just popped into the story. But you have fixed that perfectly. I can't find anything wrong with this piece except for the few spelling errors. And the one thing I would like to see is MORE!! I can't wait for chapter 2, I know it's going to be great.

Reviewer Comments

Congratulations, you are the first person here that I have seen actually re-write their piece multiple times and include advice given to them so as to perfect it. Really, well done. Amazing, I loved it!