Open Pen

The Wings of Fury: An Open Pen Critique

Today, for Open Pen, we have a fantasy excerpt from Moya Tobey, who has just started blogging over at The Teenage Author. She would love to hear advice on her characters and plots, along with every other critique you feel like giving.

Thank you for taking the time to make a few comments on her piece. Even short, simple comments are very helpful.

If you would like to submit a piece of writing to be critique, you can read the rules and submit on the Open Pen page.

God bless,



The Wings of Fury by Moya Tobey

There was a deafening roar, as thousands of Raven Elves cheered at the arrival of their soon to be king. Sparwan waved to the crowd and flashed a smile as he passed by them. Young maidens stretched out to touch him as he passed; soft fingers brushed his arms for a moment then were pulled away. Sparwan looked up, and found the eyes of the young elf who had touched him. She was breathtaking. Her thick black hair was piled atop her head in a complicated braid. She had olive skin and her beautiful pale blue eyes captured him. A chill ran down his spine when she smiled, her pink lips stretched wide. Sparwan looked her up and down, and made note of her appearance before giving a quick smile and moving on.
His raven black hair was slicked back and shined in the light of a crescent moon; his pale skin seemed to glow in the eerie light of the moon. His people were too busy melting in his presence to notice a Raven had swooped down to land on his shoulder.
The Raven whispered something in his ear before taking flight once again. The Raven was his spy, a simple bird- that had been transformed by a powerful magic. Something his illusionists called black magic. Sparwan had found it to his advantage to use simple animals as spies. When he’d sent his own soldiers to spy on the Eagle Elves, they never returned, or if they did it was only a piece of them.
The bird had simply whispered in his ear that there werehe had seen no Eagle Elves in the area. Sparwan had thought they would plan something, but it seemed that his suspicions were misplaced. The assurance that he would be in no danger was comforting, but he wouldn’t have minded showing his strength by taking down some Eagle Elves.
Sparwan smirked. He knew that his people would blindly follow him. That is how the Raven Elves had been for centuries. Blindly, they’d follow their leader- never questioning his decisions. It was precisely theat kind of a people he wanted to govern. It made a clear pathway for Sparwan to execute plans without anyone rebelling. Although his own father had been too weak minded and gentle to see this and take advantage of this,it. Sparwan would make sure he didn’t make that same mistake while he was in power.
As Sparwan neared the entrance to the Hall of Meeting the cheers grew stronger, and the crowds thickened. Sparwan stopped right in front of the doors and turned to face the crowd once more. The crowd stopped cheering, and seemed to almost hold its breath. They all stood in awe, waiting for Sparwan to say something.

*** *** ***

On top of a ridge overlooking the Hall of Meeting, Willow and her four companions: Summer, Reed, Griffin, and Sorrel, sat and waited for the right moment.
Griffin was perched on the edge of the cliff watching the procession unfold below. Standing by Griffin’s side was Sorrel playing with his sword, whipping it through empty air. Summer was sitting beneath a large maple tree with her head resting on its trunk. Not far off from Sorrel and Griffin, was Reed, his body masked by the shadows. He always seemed to be concealed by shadows. Willow was up in the same maple tree that Summer leaned againstwas at the base of. Every time that the five of them had a mission, Willow retreatedwould retreat to a solitary place and just think. Too many of these times unwanted memories pressed their way into her mind. This happened to be one of those times.
“She will never fly, Willow.” The healer explained with a solemn face.
“What do you mean? O-of course she’ll fly, does she have hawk wings?” Willow knew all too well what the healer meant, and was trying to fight back tears.
“No Willow, you know what I mean. Your child was born without wings.”
“Why?! Why me? Why my daughter?” Unable to hold back any longer, Willow collapsed on the ground bursting into tears.
“You know why Willow. When you told me you were pregnant, and how it happened, I warned you that the child would never survive!” The healer had become irritated and less patient.
“Do you think I willingly let that Raven Elf rape me? I was unconscious, healer! I never wanted this to happen!” Offended and angry, Willow was on her feet in a heartbeat.
“Then why are you so upset that, theat child won’t survive to the end of the day?” The brutality of the question hit Willow with a hurricane force. Turning, the healer headed for the door, only to be stopped by Willow’s words.
“I’m upset, healer, because no matter who the father is, any child I give birth to will be precious and valuable to me! And I will weep over their deaths and rejoice in their life. That is why I am upset, healer!”
Obviously angered, the healer rushed out the door. A heavy piece of pottery followed his exit and smashed to pieces upon impact with the wall. Willow let out an unholy, and animal- like scream of anguish before collapsing on the ground, sobbing.

“Willow?” Jolted from her horrible memories, Willow looked up to see Summer sitting on a branch across from her.
“What’s wrong?” Summer gently prodded.
“You know what’s wrong. Everytime we fight Raven Elves, I remember what happened 50 years ago.”
“I know, Willow., I just don’t understand why you dwell on it. The memory of it is too horrible for you, so why don’t you just try and forget it?”
“You don’t understand, you can’t just forget something like that.” Willow turned away.
“No, but rather than mourn your loss, you can remember how much joy she gave you while you were pregnant.”
“It’s hard, it wasn’t her fault, what happened.”
“I don’t doubt it’s hard.”
A short silence spanned between the two friends, then Willow broke it,
“I never even got to see her. I was unconscious when she was born and the healer wouldn’t let me see her. She must’ve been so beautiful.”
“I know she was. She was your child.” Willow smiled, and glanced at Summer then looked back down at her lap.
“I wish I could go back and do something to save her life.”
“I know you do. But what happenedThis event has formed you into who you are today, though. This must’ve happened for a reason, and even though it was painful it’s what makes you who you are today.” Summer had always been the more philosophical and thoughtful one out of the two.
Her statements usually brought joy or relief, but rage was starting to boil within her. How dare she say that this was supposed to happen? How dare she minimize the pain she had gone–is– going through?
“You don’t get it Summer! I lost a part of me that day, and I’m never going to get that part of me back!” Summer shifted backwards on her branch, as if the scream had physically moved her. A look of pain and despair washed over her face as she whispered,
“You’re right. I don’t get it, .I don’t understand, and I hope that I never will.” Willow heard Summer jump off her branch and float to the ground. She just stared at her feet, her fiery red hair drifting in front of her face, not knowing what to say.
Willow didn’t mean to blow up at Summer that way, but releasing all of that anger felt good, and Willow needed it. Summer didn’t understand how difficult Willow’s life had been for the past 50 years, and she never will. The frustration of not knowing who had done this to her. The pain that was laced around her, everyday. The anger, the torment, the sorrow, that was etched within her heart and her soul.
The embarrassment.
She had been pledged to an elf at the time that this had happened. Their wedding would’ve taken place a few months after her rape. After everyone found out that she was pregnant, her fiance had dropped the engagement. If an elf maiden became pregnant before she was married, then she was immediately considered unclean and any male suitors would flee from her. The day that she found out about her pregnancy, she knew she’d be doomed to living out her life alone.
The only peace she will ever find is at the hand of her enemy. After her last, dying, breath she will find peace, but for now, she must suffer and live the life that has been given to her. Taking a deep breath Willow jumped off her branch and floated down to the ground.

Willow landed next to Sorrel, folded her arms across her chest, and waited for orders. No one had moved since Willow left. The eeriey silence was filled with anticipation. Then just as quickly as it had come, it left, and the air was filled with a booming voice.
Sparwan’s voice.
“Willow.” Griffin looked back at Willow and nodded. The moment had come. Silently she ran to the edge of the cliff and jumped. After a moment she popped open her wings and beat down on the air to gain altitude. Filled with hatred and hope, Willow smirked. Her time was soon., Ffrom her post on the roof of the Hall of Meeting, she would secure her people’s safety.

*** *** ***

Sparwan smiled as he started to speak before the crowd,
“Tonight, the Raven Elves will rise above all others. We will take back what is ours! We will put the Eagle Elves in their place!” Cheers erupted from either side of Sparwan as the crowd applauded his statement.
“Tonight,! wWe have victory!” Sparwan punched the air with his fist as the crowd did the same- while cheering him on.
Sparwan’s gaze darted to a movement on his right. The young maiden. Sparwan turned his head to get a better look at her. She boldly met his gaze and smiled at him. Sparwan gave a slight smile back. He watched as her lips formed the words good luck. Even though he could not hear it, he knew what she had said.
Sparwan waited a moment then turned towards the doors to the Hall of Meeting. Sparwan was about to open the door but felt there was something he needed to do before he went inside. Without a second thought, Sparwan strode towards the nameless woman and swept her into his arms. She smiled at him and simply said,
Sparwan didn’t say anything, he just smiled.
Sparwan traced her jawline with his finger, hesitating only and moment before kissing her. There was no reservation on her part, and she was completely relaxed in his arms. Too soon the moment was over and Sparwan was back in front of the doors to the Hall of Meeting. He ignored the whispers of approval from the women and took a deep breath, cracked his neck and without further ado heaved open the heavy oak doors.
When Sparwan took his first steps inside, hundreds of eyes were staring at him. Rather than cheering, they just sat there and stared at him. Sparwan took in the scene and slowly started walking to the stage. HeSparwan never picked up his speed or slowed down, he just stayed at the same slow walk. Finally, he reached the stage, and mounted the steps and walked to the center of the stage then stopped.
Then almost as if out of a trance the crowd stood up and clapped. Sparwan smiled and put his hand up to signal silence. The hall quickly quieted. Sparwan cleared his throat and started to speak,
“Tonight you will receive a new leader. A leader whom you hope you can trust. I can readily assure you that I am well equipped to lead the Raven Elves through every up and down that we go through. My father’s death was untimely and unfortunate. I only hope that I can somehow please him in the way that I shall rule. I know the road has not always been easy for the Raven Elves, but I promise you that you will no longer have to worry for your children’s safety. You will no longer have to worry whether you’ll survive the day or not. This day, we shall overcome those obstacles and rise above them!” Pausing, Sparwan let the crowd applaud him. He waited until all of the applause died down, then continued. Completely unaware to the danger he was in.
“Tonight, the Raven Elves shall have victory!” Sparwan raised his hands as if to proclaim his victory.
Almost as soon as the applause started, a searing, white hot pain shot through Sparwan’s knee. Sparwan fell to his knees, as the crowd gasped. The guards were already on their way to check the perimeter. Sparwan sat there, his eyes betrayinged his agony. He looked down at his knee and saw an arrow sticking out of it.
The feathers.
The feathers on it were Eagle feathers.
Eagle Elves.
Sparwan screamed in rage.

*** *** ***

Willow sat on the roof of the Hall of Meeting, and aimed her second arrow at Sparwan’s heart. The first shot was so that he would be in an easier position to shoot at. Willow took a deep breath and said to herself,
“This is it, the big moment.” Willow took another deep breath. Then released her arrow. Willow stared as the arrow flew free and true, straight into Sparwan’s chest. Willow watched as Sparwan stopped moaning, and fell over. He is dead! Willow jumped to her feet and danced in excitement. Her celebration was cut short though. Willow’s wings seized in pain as she fell to her knees. Unable to control her body, she fell through the skylight. The skylight, she just shot her arrow through and killed Sparwan. She too, had been shot with an arrow. Willow landed with a thud, and knew she wouldn’t live out the night. She didn’t care as long as her people were safe. Perhaps now she could finally be freed from this life and reunited with her child.

Willow noticed that Sparwan’s body lay unmoving beside her. The arrow was still sticking out of his knee, and the one in his chest was crushed underneath his body. The world began to spin around Willow, so she closed her eyes. Around her, Willow could hear pandemonium from the audience running and screaming, out of the building. After a few moments all fell silent. Willow started to lose consciousness, then she heard the distinct sound of footsteps coming toward her. She didn’t open her eyes but just lay there in wait of her fate. The footsteps stopped. A minute passed by. Then another. Death did not come though. The sound of someone breathing reached Willow’s ear. Someone had crouched down beside her. Willow’s eyes shot open when she heard the Elf speak.
“You missed.”


5 thoughts on “The Wings of Fury: An Open Pen Critique”

  1. First, I want to say that this is an amazing first draft. The story is compelling. Characters need some fleshing, but since this is such a short excerpt, I won’t dwell on that too much.

    The beginning needs the pacing fixed a bit. It reads too much like a text book. Since so much of the other scenes are from one person, either Sparwan’s or Willow’s, this needs to focus more on Sparwan’s POV.

    The first scene of Willow needs a bit of tweaking. Yes, elves live longer than we do, but she doesn’t seem a believable character for having endured this pain for 50 years. When Summer says it has made her who she is, what does that mean? Who is she? A hardened assassin sent on missions frequently, or a hot mess that blows up on her friends a lot? Flesh her out more, explore her ticks – what motivates her (the rape and revenge?) I think it would work quite well if she is the cold killer because of what happened to her. Also, try and flesh out the others with her a bit more. Dialogue needs some work, too, but I think that will change drastically as you explore the characters more with who they are and how they see the world.

    2nd Sparwan scene is confusing. He was making a speech outside of the palace first, then kisses the unnamed maiden, then goes inside to make the same speech? How was the crowd outside and then inside so quickly?

    Other than normal typos, etc., I think those are the main things I would focus on for now.

    Again, for a first draft, this was nicely done. Looks like you have a great story on your hands.


  2. I liked it! It’s a good story with interesting characters. They could use some more work to bring out their depth of character. Good work!


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