They came riding horses of silver and jet. The rags they wore whipped them like a fierce laughter. Everything they touched, they despoiled. Unlike any conquerer in history, they could not be placated by plunder: treasure did not interest them and beautiful youth did not entice them. They did not wish to rule. Their only purpose seemed to be the destruction of everything they touched.
Four siblings hid in the extremes of the land. The one who took after their father's father hid in the desert. The one like their father's mother hid in the clouds. The one who resembled their mother's father hid under the ground. And the one who looked like their mother's mother hid in the ocean. The four of them waited for the fifth one to tell them it was time to strike.
But he would not give the signal until he heard from the four cousins. The cousin who looked like the aunt’s granddaughter worked in a bar called Centerfolds. The one who looked like the uncle’s nephew hid in his trailer, drinking whiskey. The one who looked like the uncle’s uncle was selling timeshares in the Pocono’s. And the one who looked like the aunt’s father's niece was doing time in Morningwood penitentiary for public indecency. The four of them waited for the fifth cousin to tell them when to tell the fifth brother to tell the other brothers to strike.
But the fifth cousin would not contact them until he heard from the four sisters-in-law...
Opening: D Jason Cooper.....Continuation: Matthew
It's not clear whether the siblings in paragraph 2 are the same people who came riding horses in paragraph 1. If they are, it might be better if the paragraphs were in reverse order.
I'm not sure "purpose" is the best word in paragraph 1. Maybe "ambition"?
Paragraph 1 is hilarious.
I was okay with the first paragraph, but the second one is too confusing. You don't want to confuse your reader the second paragraph in.
Unless this is supposed to be a funny novel. Then it works just fine.
Describing the four siblings by saying they look like their grandparents doesn't create an image for me because I don't know what their grandparents look like.
I think the whole paragraph could be replaced by something like, "Four siblings hid in the four corners of the earth."
Lots of conquerors have not been placated by plunder. Hardly placated by conquering, sometimes.
Hmm. My assumption was that the guys on the horses of silver and jet were the bad guys, and the four (or five) siblings were the good guys fated by prophecy to stop them, or something like that. In which case, I hope the underground and underwater ones have some sort of breathing gear.
But I could easily be wrong, since I am so stupid, I've been puzzling over the second sentence of paragraph one for some time now, and still have no idea what it means.
I like that continuation a lot. All you need to add is a few divorces, marriages, and dates, and you'll have a soap opera!
Now, I know you mean this to sound stylized, but I think this is a little much. If you killed the ancestors (ha) and maybe put the siblings in order of age (eldest and youngest, at least), I think it would probably sound better.
Jet is black, but it sounds like airplane.
Could you simplify the first paragraph some? IE: The conquerors came riding horses of silver and jet. They could not be placated by pillage or rape, only destruction. They destroyed everything they touched.
EE's right--there's a disconnect between paragraphs 1 and 2.
This works for me.
There are a few things that I think could be better.
Why "a fierce laughter" rather than just "fierce laughter."
And I have this pick against "seemed to be" but more than that, you could reduce that entire sentence to "They destroyed." It would work just as well and serve as a rare short sentence to punctuate the meaning of the paragraph.
"Extremes" is OK but it isn't evocative of the images of earth, wind, fire and water. nor the compass directions - N,S,E,W (4 corners) nor of the sides of a square... I suggest a trip to thesaurus land in search of a more evocative word. And if the final five are a pentagram, drop a bigger hint.
And that brings us to the last sentence of the paragraph again. Drop "of them" because there's no other FOUR in the reader's mind. And they are waiting for the fifth who will lead them into doing what? That sets up your next paragraph. And I dearly hope it is a character because this is one of those spooky, mystical, philosophical openings that drive readers crazy hinting at things. My inclination is for the next line to be dialog. the main character saying something. But that isn't the only way to introduce a character. YOu could say: "Ollie North sat in the hearing with the four Contra's at his back and faced down the four blowhard senators as they proved his crimes."
Forgive the politics. It's just an example.
The seventh and eighth ones, alike in their appearance, hid in the light and the darkness. The ninth one, a hideous creature, hid in the circus and the tenth one refused to hide.
The sixth one invited them all to a small island for a vacation. One by one they died, were murdered ... and then there were none.
The fifth one, the one who looked like the guy who came round on Thursdays to collect the insurance payments, yes he was the most dangerous one of all.
And when Bubba strode into the Lick A Pig Biker Bar and shouted, "Get up, fellas, there's a garden party needs bustin' up," they all five of them mounted their horses of silver and jet, and strike they did.
* Thought the first paragraph could be simpler. Might be helpful, too, to give the destroyers a name.
* Didn't like the "fierce laughter" simile. Like Steve, I have no idea what that sentence means.
* Didn't like "extremes of the land". Dave's idea for improving this is good, I think.
* Once I realized they were hiding in the elements, in kind of a Chinese mythical sort of way, I actually became interested in the story (I think it was when one "hid in the clouds" that I figured it out). But the whole "one who took after their father's father", etc is too confusing. I don't know them, and I don't know their grandparents, so I got lost and less interested.
* I didn't have a problem connecting the paragraphs, but it wouldn't hurt to be more specific anyway.
To me this read like a riddle. Which could be okay, depending on where it goes next.
This seems to be going for a Tanith Lee feeling, which generally I like, but it goes too long without giving the reader something to catch hold of. Instead it's as if I'm expected to already know the mythology being referred to (the ancestors).
Is 'despoil' the word you want? It means to rob, not to ruin.
Brilliant continuation. A+++ would LOL again.
Dang, para 1 sounds like Blood Meridian. I still don't get that book.
Sorry to take so long: this was posted the day I got my knee reconstruction.
The four siblings refer to the elements both in where they hide and which grandparent they look like.
Fire is the primary masculine element so the sibling who looks like their father's father hides in the desert. Air is the secondary element so the sibling who looks like their father's mother hides in the clouds.
Water is the primary feminine element, so the sibling who looks like their mother's mother hides in the sea. Earth is the secondary feminine element so the sibling who looks like their mother's father hides under the earth.
The fifth one refers to the fifth element, spirit. The next paragraph is that they don't know who they are, which opens a story of self discovery.
But most people didn't even recognize the elemental motif, so perhaps Ainsworth and Lytton can rest on their laurels.
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