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PostSubject: Outcast   Fri Aug 23, 2013 4:48 pm

This is my second novel. It has yet to be published, and I want to get some feedback. It's a sequel to my first book.Bless You Jesus Christ 

Derek and Jacob made their way through a heavy mist along a dense forest path. Birds could be heard in the pine trees and the smell of pine sap filled the air. All the sudden Derek stopped and motioned for Jacob to do the same. Both heard pine needles being crushed as a group of animals or people, neither could make out which, were making their way through the woods. Derek looked back, but couldn’t see anything. Both silently unsheathed their swords while stepping up their pace. A few crows could be heard in the distance and the muffled sound of pine needles crunching was getting louder with each passing second. Derek looked at Jacob and both started to sprint through brush. Branches were swiping at their legs and some stinging nettles produced deep cuts above their ankles. The crunching of pine needles gave way to the pounding of hooves as they emerged at the edge of a grassy plain. Up ahead about a quarter of a mile they noticed that there was a break in the terrain. They started to run through grass and only stopped when a gust of wind blew hard in their faces. Jacob stumbled backwards and almost fell if it weren’t for Derek’s arm blocking him as they found themselves near the edge of a deep ravine. The crows were now visible as they flew overhead while a few were ripping off the flesh of some decomposing carcass nearby. The smell of rotten flesh permeated the air replacing the sweet smell of pine sap.
Jacob looked down the edge and then at Derek. “I’m starting to wonder if we’re going to be the ones that need to be rescued. I have never been in a place with so much mist. I can’t even see to the other side. Maybe we should return to the forest.”
Derek looked back and started to tremble. Five horses were charging out of the woods into the clearing, each bearing a rider dressed completely in black with brown stockings where there should have been a face. His heart started to beat faster and he could hear his blood pulsating. Jacob directed his eyes upward from Derek’s trembling hands and looked upon the riders with widened eyes and a gaped mouth.
Both looked away from the riders and back toward the ravine, where suddenly a blonde-haired man appeared dressed in brilliant clothes with a staff in his hand. Addressing them he said,
“This is the way both of you need to go. Now walk in it. The riders are coming closer.”
Derek went over to where Guidance stood with Jacob close behind him. Derek’s hands stopped shaking when he recognized his friend. He then went over to the edge and looked down, where his gaze landed upon a few skulls littering the bottom. He then looked back at Guidance and felt some stomach juices making their way up into his throat.
“There is no way we are able to leap across this ravine. I’d rather face the riders.”
Derek looked toward the clearing and felt his heart skip a beat as he could make out that each rider had a javelin pointed in his direction;- then, with sweat on his palms, he looked at Guidance. “Alright, I changed my mind. Where do you want us to go?”
“This is the way. Now walk in it. Don’t you remember the ravine where you attempted to cross once before when Sally took your son? Do the same here.”
Derek looked at his feet for a second. “Last time I didn’t do so well. I ended up falling and was almost eaten by some serpent.”
“Derek, you’re not the same person.”
“You’re right. I’m ready to do battle with that witch if I see her again.”
Jacob was starting to turn pale and his knees were shaking. The five horsemen were getting closer with each second of hesitation. “Derek I know you mean well with this talk you are having with Guidance, but if he said walk across then that is what I aim to do.”
Jacob took a step and then another. Derek was sweating from every pore and his shirt was soaked as he followed Jacob. Derek looked straight ahead and noticed a man waving them on. Jacob had his head looking down at the skulls and then his foot slipped; Derek was there to grab his arm, but this forced him onto his belly. At this point Jacob’s eyes bugged out from his face and his voice started to quiver. Derek felt a weight on his legs as he pulled Jacob up from being a permanent fixture on the bottom. When both were on their knees they turned to see the five horsemen were closing the distance between. Each hurled their javelin, but as the fearsome weapons made their way, each was deflected away as an enormous shield came into view, held up by Strength. Derek and Jacob made it back to their feet and the same man as before was still waving from across the ravine. The horsemen glared at their missed prey and, as one, turned and retreated into the woods in a full gallop.
Jacob was bent over at the waist and his breathing was getting faster. Derek sank back down on his knees, but Strength picked him up. Each stood up to face a man who was still the envy of any body builder, with arms that looked like they were filled with balloons and a neck that would have been at home on an ox.
Derek and Jacob backed up a bit and then fell back on their knees. Strength came from behind and lifted each up. They then turned with faces pointed upward.
“Derek, don’t make the same mistake as you did before. Fix your eyes on the One across the way and he will guide you into all truth. The faith that has taken you this far will take you the rest of the way.”
Derek stepped closer to Strength and needed to tilt his head back to get a better look at his face. “It’s good to see you again, Strength. Who’s the one waving at us? Can we trust him like we have trusted you?”
Strength looked up and gave a laugh that started out deep within and caused his whole body to shake. “He’s the one that sent me to you,” laughed Strength. “He goes by many names, but you can call him deliverer, healer, the prince of peace, the beginning and the end, or just friend.”
Jacob moved closer to where Derek stood and wiped his hands on his pants. “Is it possible to have a friend in this place?” asked Jacob. “The lost souls are missing and Sally and Rah are no doubt looking for ways to end our lives. Who could possibly be our friend? The only one I have now is Derek and you. Can I have another?”
Guidance now joined the rest in the middle of the ravine. He pointed his staff at the man waving his arms. “Like I said before this is the way you need to go, so walk in it.”
Derek and Jacob glanced at Guidance and Strength. Derek’s mind was getting flooded with memories of how the two of them had helped to defeat Sally and the demon, Rah back in the sacred grove where Timothy and the other children were held captive. Jacob was on his way across the ravine and Derek waved at both his friends before jogging up to Jacob.
Derek and Jacob walked side by side, lifting one foot up and placing it down before doing the same with the other, all the while keeping their eyes on the man across the way waving them on. A breeze started to pick up and the smell of rotten flesh filled their nostrils. Jacob’s knees started to shake, but soon recovered. Off in the distance the sound of crows could be heard. The sound was getting closer and both refused to look. Soon it became dark and Derek felt a beak striking his elbow and then another dove at his ankle. Jacob had the same sensation and both fell on their knees while still looking straight ahead at the man waving them on. A bird was coming straight at Derek’s face and just as it was about to hit his forehead, a gust of wind came up causing the bird to be hurled into the pit below. Then Derek went over to where Jacob fell and lifted him up and by this time the birds were no longer able to fly at them, but as the wind picked up in speed the birds retreated upward and an alley was formed, free of birds and the man could still be seen, waving them on. It was like a black sea had divided and now Jacob and Derek could walk through. Both looked at the black wall on each side of them that stretch high into the sky. Jacob’s mouth couldn’t close as he glanced over at Derek. “This place is like none I have ever experienced,” commented Jacob. “What did I get myself into?”
Derek looked over at Jacob with lines etched across his forehead. “I don’t know what to do anymore. I thought I had everything figured out, but the longer I live the more I realize how much I don’t know and how much I need help with everything. I just have to believe that the one we are going to meet will help us on this journey.”
The wind became a gale and the birds were all tossed to the pit below. Now sand could be seen forming a wall preventing the two companions from seeing the man across the way. The wall of sand started to spin in a circle and then a cone was formed that went up as high as the wall of birds had been previously. Derek started to turn the other way, but just then Jacob grabbed his arm and turned him around.
“Don’t you remember what Guidance and Strength just told us?” yelled Jacob right in the face of Derek. “We need to keep our focus where the man is across the way.”
A vein made its way to the surface of Derek’s forehead and his face turned red. “Look I don’t exactly see him now so I’m going back,” shouted Derek. “You go ahead without me.”
Jacob went around to block Derek’s escape. “Is that what you really want to do? Leave me here by myself? I’ll die out here without you. Don’t you know that? Is that what Guidance said to do? We just survived a bunch of crows. Sand can be defeated the same way.”
“I know you mean well Jacob, but a sand twister is a bit more than I signed up for.”
Jacob caught Derek by his shirt and pulled him back. Jacob’s face was red and his breathing was rapid. “Derek, you’ve always been one I looked up to since I heard how you survived being stabbed by Sally. If you give up then all will be lost. Can you live with that for the rest of your life?”
“I know you mean well, but I don’t see a way out of this and I’m starting to get hit by pebbles. I don’t mind dying to rescue people, but this is not what I had in mind.”
Derek continued on his way and then a ball of light blocked his path. Derek tried to walk around, but the light followed him in every direction. Derek went to his knees with tears cascading down his face. Jacob bent down to lift him up, and when both came to their feet Guidance was there.
“Derek, why are you not following after the man who is waving at you?” asked Guidance. “He’s the only one who can help you now.”
Derek looked at his feet for awhile before looking up. “I don’t see him anymore, so I thought all was lost.”
To Derek’s left came Comfort with her broad smile and a hug that a grandmother would give to her grandchildren.
“Guidance never said that following the man is going to be easy,” said Comfort. “Now get across to the other side with Jacob.”
Derek glanced over his shoulder at the approaching wall of sand and then back at Comfort. “Why does it have to be so difficult? I don’t remember others having to go through horseman and sand twisters. I can’t do this anymore.”
Jacob turned him around so they were facing each other. “I can’t do this alone either. But let’s try it together. You never gave up on Timothy. Don’t give up on the lost souls. No one should have to live in such a place forever.”
Derek took a deep breath as peddles continued to strike his back. “You’re right. I never gave up on Timothy when he was captured and I won’t give up on those who are lost.” Derek kept looking at Jacob and placed a hand on his shoulder.
“I couldn’t live with myself if you died out here,” said Derek with a face lacking expression. “Either we live together or die together.”
Derek turned around to face the sand with Jacob. Both felt some pebbles hitting their faces as the twister made its way toward the two friends. The pebbles were picking up in their speed, causing both to fall on their knees. But just then the sand went above them and continued on. Derek got up on his feet and took in a deep breathe before helping Jacob onto his feet.
“Thanks for helping me,” said Derek as he wiped some sweat off his face. “I just get so afraid when things get out of my control.”
Jacob brushed off his pants before looking at his friend. “Believe me…I’m no different. I just assume die helping others than ignoring the pleas for help.”
Derek placed a hand on Jacob’s shoulder. “Thanks for putting things in perspective.”
Just then a bolt of lighting struck the ground near Derek causing him to release his bowels. A strike also landed near Jacob and both stood near each other with eyes looking upward. After this their eyes looked back across to the other side of the ravine and gazed upon the same man as before.
They both decided to sprint toward solid ground, but just as they were approaching the edge, a wall of flame shot up in the air. Jacob looked at Derek and then both looked at the flaming wall before them.
“Looks like the words I said before are now going to be tested. The whole idea of dying together doesn’t have much meaning until you face something like this.”
Jacob grabbed Derek by the shoulders and looked into his eyes. “I remember being told on the hill, where I first met Guidance and the others, that when we go through fire we would never be alone.”
“Well we got each other,” pointed out Derek as he shrugged his shoulders.
“I know, but there is more to it than that. I believe the one who is waving us on will be in the midst of the flames.”
“Well there’s no turning back now.”
Jacob and Derek took a step toward the flame and then another. The heat was causing great drops of sweat to pour down their faces and soak their already drenched shirts. Soon they were at the edge and both turned their faces away as each placed a foot in the flames. But just then Derek looked over; someone else was placing his foot in the flames with them. His mouth dropped as a shiver was sent down his back as three pairs of feet went into the flames. Jacob had the same feeling and when he looked over there was a man dressed all in white with a smile stretching across his face. All three stepped into the fire and just as their shoes made contact, the flame vanished.
Jacob made a dash to touch the stranger, but just as his hand was about to grab hold, a man with a hammer the size of a person came into view. Conviction stood before them and pounded his hammer to within a few inches of the two companions causing Derek to jump. He recovered and once the hammer was back up, Derek started to make his way forward with a quiver in his voice. “Is there an area I need to change?”
Conviction looked straight at Derek and started to shake his head in the affirmative. “You have much potential. Remember to keep your focus on what can be instead of what might be. At times we only see the present and how impossible things appear that we lose sight of the one who has overcome everything. Will you focus on what might be or will you keep your eyes on the one that can change anything?”
Derek looked back at Jacob and then at Conviction. “It was so difficult to get to the other side. I mean there were crows, and then came the sand and the lightening, not to mention the fire.”
Conviction adjusted his hammer head and then had a piercing glare that looked beyond the surface and into Derek’s heart. “Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Decide for yourself if you want to live a life of significance or one of comfort.”
Derek looked at the ground for awhile, and then back into the face of Conviction. “Can’t a life of comfort be also one of significance?”
“Do you know of any? What you see on the outside doesn’t always reflect what is going on within. Nobody sees pain and misery like the one who stepped in the flames with you. You need to understand that a life of comfort is usually a sign of a starving soul within. Many people strive after fame and money only to find out after many years of toil and pain that nothing significant came out of it.”
“So my goal shouldn’t be one of comfort, but then the only thing left is a life of significance,” said Derek. “But how will I ever know if my life is significant? I don’t want to compare my life with others anymore. I already know that I won’t accomplish as much as others.”
“Just use what you have. Also instead of having your focus on your wife, money or a certain job, you’re better off placing all your hopes and dreams on the man who went into the flames with you.”
Derek kept his gaze on Conviction. “Where did he go? How can I focus on someone I don’t even see?”
“He has always been with you and he is one that will never leave you.”
“Conviction, you speak in riddles,” said Derek.
Derek looked back at Jacob for awhile with raised eyebrows and lines upon his forehead. He started to breath in and out slowly. But Conviction had left and both beheld a small house ahead of them. The wind started to pick up and the trees that managed to grow were bending over at 45 degree angles. The dust was swirling around now. Derek lost his footing and Jacob bent down to pick him up. With each step it felt like the wind wanted to blow them backwards to where they had just been and now dust was starting to get into their eyes and mouths. There was a sudden burst and a distinct whistling sound along with the dry leaves flapping against each other. Derek started to walk backwards and motioned Jacob to come closer with his hand. “We have to stick together. The house in front of us is our only hope in getting out of this wind.”
Jacob started to turn his back to the wind, but both felt tiny pellets of sand striking their backs and then the wind shifted and the sand was starting to hit their faces. They then turned around and sprinted toward the house. Derek was the first one to arrive and proceeded to bang on the door with his fist. A person with a hood appeared and beckoned the travelers in. Inside was a small room, complete with a few pelts of animals on the walls and a fireplace at the far end where a tripod was situated with a kettle in the middle. There was a table on the left near the animal pelts and a place to wash dishes on the right. The person with the hood went over to the fire to check the kettle. The smell of cooked meat filled the air along with onions, carrots and potatoes. Derek and Jacob watched as the owner stirred the stew. After finishing the task, the cook motioned them to sit down. The two companions went over to the left to sit at the table and the homeowner sat at the other end. At first the arms of the hooded one were crossed and all stared at each other for awhile. Derek kept crossing and then recrossing his legs and then started to use his fingers to comb through what hair he had left. He then leaned forward and there was a slight quiver in his voice.
“You have a nice place. It must get lonely here at times without anyone to talk to. Being married I can’t even imagine what that would be like. I yearn for the day when I can be back home with my family. So do you get visitors out here?”
The owner stayed seated and then took off the hood to reveal a face without form or features and then put the hood back on and spoke in hushed tones with a slight crackle.
“Do I look like I would get visitors? I have been exiled to this place for a mistake I made.”
Jacob started to stand up, but was motioned by the owner to sit back down. Jacob looked at the person seated across from him and glared at the hood. There was only the sound of the kettle lid rattling to break the silence.
“What kind of mistake was it and who around here has that kind of authority? You’re only the second person I have seen out here.”
“So many questions and yet so little time. I was sent on a journey awhile ago to retrieve an item for my master, but the item was lost. Fortunately I came back with a bigger prize, but I must stay confined to this place so I don’t lose the bigger item that came into my possession.”
Derek got up from his chair and started to walk around. The pelts were still on the wall and after looking at them for awhile looked back at the owner.
“You speak in riddles. I would think that if you found a bigger prize, then you would be rewarded for such a service.”
“Why do you assume that something bigger is something better? I failed at my mission and what I have is something totally unexpected, but I was made aware of how I could make up for the loss.”
Derek was about to sit down, but decided to stay standing. The hooded owner rose from the table and went over to the coyote pelt and placed it on top of the hood.
“I was told that if I ever placed the one that took away the item, with the others that are now the bigger prize that my face would come back and I would be free from this confinement.”
Derek started to comb his hair with his fingers and Jacob’s palms started to shake. Derek looked over at the hooded one and started to see something behind the hood that he hadn’t noticed before. An outline of dark hair started to appear along with a familiar glare that had only darkness inside. He started to look at Jacob and then back at the hooded one.
“I think its best if we leave. Jacob, let’s go.”
“I don’t know about you, but I was looking forward to some stew and staying out of the wind. Can you give me a reason why we need to leave?”
Derek pointed with his head toward the door. Jacob remained in his seat with a tilted head and a blank stare. Derek went over to grab Jacob by the shoulder, but Jacob took a hand and brushed Derek’s hand aside.
“I’ll explain once we’re outside, but believe me we’re better off facing the storm.”
The hooded one started to wrap a pelt around the shoulders and with each passing second the fit was getting tighter.
“Is this how you treat someone who just opened up the door to let you two in from the dust storm?” asked the hooded one with a raised tone. “You’ll die out there. Are you saying that death is better than staying here and having stew?”
Derek started to make his way to the door and his voice took on the authority of a drill serpent.
“Jacob, we need to leave… now.”
Jacob tried to get up from his chair, but his legs were frozen in place and the only movement was from his arms. Jacob tried to bounce around with the chair, but couldn’t get off the floor. He then tried to tip it over, but the legs were like cemented to the floor.
“I can’t move my feet or legs. Derek, what’s going on?”
Derek took out his sword and started to point it at the hooded creature.
“Jacob, this is not some kind person who wants to give us a meal. It’s none other than the one you met in the sacred grove and the very one who took my son through the closet. This is Sally.”
“Are you insane? I don’t see the same person we met in the grove.”
“Who else has the power to immobilize limbs? I was once given the ability to see things that others don’t see and what is under the hood is dark hair and piercing eyes.”
The hooded creature then turned into a coyote and started to circle Derek. Both looked at each other as two prize fighters looking for their opponent’s weakness. Jacob moved his chair causing Derek to turn his head and just then the coyote leaped. Jacob gave up a yell that would have woken the dead, causing Derek to turn around with sword pointing upward striking the animal in the chest, but somehow was not able to pierce through.
The coyote ended up on the other side of the house and Derek didn’t even flinch as he looked into the eyes of the animal.
“Sally I demand that you free Jacob,” yelled Derek.
But the coyote had no response and sprinted toward Derek. He smashed his sword toward the ground as the coyote went by, but missed allowing Sally to stick him in the foot with one of her paws, causing Derek to fall. The coyote ended up on the other side of the house and turned around for another attack on her fallen prey. Derek tried to get up, but fell back down. But just as Sally was about to leap for one of his arms, Derek rolled out of the way, causing Sally to collide with the table. She shook her head a few times and then circled Derek as he kept falling to the ground. The coyote ended up on the other side of the house and tried to attack Derek from behind. He then took out his shield and just as the coyote was about to sink her teeth into his neck, Derek spun around and held the shield up, causing the coyote to collide with the metal and fall on the ground. This freed up Jacob, who then took out his sword and shield. Jacob ran over to the pot of stew and dumped it on the floor. This revived the animal and caused it to let out a cry of deep anguish as a dog getting his tail cut off. The coyote disappeared and the two companions went for the door.







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Lora
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PostSubject: Re: Outcast   Sat Aug 24, 2013 2:27 pm

You're a very talented writer. You really kept the action going and, so, kept my interest. I love all of the Biblical parallels, too. Very nice work!

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