Wednesday, June 1, 2016

QK Round 1: A Seer in King Arthur's Court vs. Cryptopolis

Title: The Pendragon's Son
Entry Nickname: Seer in King Arthur's Court
Word count: 98K
Genre: YA Fantasy


Seventeen-year-old Prince Vael struggles to stop his misguided half-brother from killing their father and igniting a countrywide war.

A grim prophecy predicts Vael’s father, King Arthur and half-brother, Mordred die at the other’s sword in a battle that will destroy the once-peaceful Camelot. None dare oppose fate—save for Vael, a sorcerer who is determined to shield his family and his kingdom. But he has never left the protection of his mentor, Merlin, and attempting to alter fate is a fool’s errand.

Though the brothers were once close, Mordred’s mind has been warped by his mother—a vengeful sorceress who despises Arthur. Consumed by her lies, Mordred breaks ties with Vael and helps steal the legendary Excalibur, leaving the kingdom without its holy protection. As Vael struggles to recover the sword and save his half-brother, the prophecy nears its fulfillment. If Vael cannot unite his broken family, he will have to assemble an army to defend all he loves and fight a man he has grown to trust—his own brother.

First 250 words:
As I hurried down the castle’s vast stone corridor to meet my half-brother for the first time, his name echoed around me, whispered like a curse: Mordred.

Though likely no one else in Camelot shared my outlook, that haunted name sparked a surge of hope in me. Finally. Finally. I had a brother. Family. Surely he would not shun me as the others had. Surely he would understand what it meant to be an outcast in one’s own family. I had to see him.

I approached the vaulted doorway of the Great Hall. Straightening, I walked toward the raised dais, careful to keep my pace steady, though my legs urged me forward. A prince must always be calm and collected. My muscles strained, but I reined in my eagerness. The dais seemed so far away.

Knights and soldiers filled the hall as I passed. Most paid me no heed, too absorbed in gossiping about my brother.

“How is that bastard still alive?” one said, wringing his hands.

“Vermin never did die easy,” an armoured knight said with a sneer.

I bit my tongue, not for the first time this day. The hall had witnessed many such words since the news of Mordred’s arrival, and all over an unfounded—and unreliable—prophecy made decades ago. My steps clipped the stones, leaving the speakers behind. My brother was still a prince—the son of Queen Morgan LeFay of the Orkneys. How did they dare to speak thusly?


Catacomb Saints

Entry NicknameCryptopolis 
Word count: 77,000
Genre: YA Fantasy


For sixteen-year-old Davi, the darkness has never mattered. A petty pickpocket by night and a worthless burden on society by day, she has only ever wanted to be left alone to live what little life her society affords people like her. Trouble is, this time out, Davi's stolen something that isn’t supposed to exist—from a man who isn’t even supposed to be alive. The Bone Key might be a treasure worth a thousand kingdoms, but as far as Davi is concerned, the only thing the eerie metal relic is worth is saving her own life. 

Thrust into the heart of a centuries old civil war between two great kingdoms, Davi must navigate the unfamiliar world of hired assassins, deadly artifacts, political intrigue and nebulous legend if she has even a prayer of not only returning the thing, but making it out alive. But the longer she has the Key, the more she learns about it—and herself, the more she understands that getting rid the relic is the very last thing she could ever do. If she is to survive, Davi must not only uncover the truth behind the Bone Key’s past, but her own. Who said being a teenager was ever easy. 

A starving pickpocket, a shadowy civil war, and a wholly unexpected mission from the past.

First 250:

It wasn’t much—home. If you could even call it that, but it had three walls, a rough concrete ledge for sleeping, and it was all I had. And for someone who could count on the tip of her newly missing little finger the number of possessions she could lawfully lay claim to—that actually meant something. Around here, people had lost more trying to hold on to far less.


I had neither the time nor the patience for the kid right now. I ignored her and shuffled backwards, my raw fingertip just brushing the soft leather of my newly acquired prize.

I weighed the purse in my hand. I sure as hell hoped what was inside was worth it. Of course, like most things I managed to steal off the spoiled brats up in the Summer Market, it probably wasn’t. Bedsides, losing the Red’s—unlike the tip of my pinky had taken far longer than expected. Now all I wanted was to sleep. Well, to eat and sleep, and yet I knew only one of those was likely to happen tonight.

Like a roach to crumb, the enquiry came again and I exhaled, tossing the pouch to my side and rubbing my still bleeding stump of a finger.

“What is it, Serri?” I demanded.

Below the fractured lip of my concrete ledge the familiar tangle of dirty blonde hair fidgeted. Like a pixie-sized plague, no matter what I said or did, Serri always came back.

“Davi?” Serri said, her voice as narrow as a shaft of distant sunlight.


  1. Replies
    1. A Seer in King Arthur’s Court: The first sentence of the second paragraph: check your comma usage, I had to read this a few times to follow and I’m still not exactly sure who the prophecy involves. I’d like to get more of a feel for the characters so that I’m not hung up on popular knowledge of King Arthur’s world.

      You’ve got a strong opening and where I struggled to connect with Vael in the query, I connected to him instantly in the 250!

      Cryptopolis: I have to admit, I’m confused by this query. The key is important, yet I know nothing about what it means or what it does. The final line feels more like a log line a query could start with.

      You had me at missing finger, great detail! However, I don’t know what the Red’s is, and something in that sentence was missing. Other than that, this was strong and intriguing!

      Another hard decision, as I see great potential in both entries, but…Victory to Cryptopolis!

    2. A Seer in King Arthur's Court

      I love the idea of doing a family story in King Arthur’s Court. Taking a story we know but providing a different, personal perspective. Plus, the idea of doing anything for your family—even battling fate—will resonate with so many people. I did find their relationship confusing. They were once close but then Mordred breaks ties. Is this backstory or is this what happens in the story? I was even more confused when I read the pages and he is meeting him for the first time. I did think the voice in the query felt authentic to the times. And you do a great job of setting up the intrigue of Mordred, where was he? Why is he back now? Why is he a bastard?


      With the query, I immediately fell I love with Davi. Who doesn’t love a pick-pocket? (Well, as long as they aren’t stealing your stuff.) I was awesomely immediately interested in this mysterious key. My big bump is that I wanted a sense of the world and time right way. The early lines made me think that this was current story on Earth. I honestly am still not sure of when or where it takes place. I’m assuming in the past, but again, it’s not clear. I think we need a few more details in the query to show off what exactly makes this story unique. I really liked the pages. I got a great sense of Davi’s voice and was instantly intrigued about what she stole and how she lost her finger. I do think you hit the finger a bit too hard though. You mention it four times in 250 words. It’s a bit too much. It’s such a great detail that you don’t want the person to be like, “We get it! The fingertip is gone forever.” But that is such a nitpick.

      Another hard choice because these are such different stories, yet they are both so clever in their own ways. However, there’s one voice that appealed a tiny bit more to me…

      Victory: Cryptopolis

    3. A Seer in King Arthur's Court:

      I like this twist on the traditional Camelot tale! The originality of it particularly shines through in your First 250 Words. This is definitely a different POV than we're used to seeing. Your query will shine too if you can pull in more of that unique voice/POV. Focus tighter in on Vael and less on the expansive court. What's his character doing, what's his character's conflict and what are the stakes to him? This is what will set your query and story apart! Also, a technical point I think one of the other judges already commented on... timing is a little confusing. The query says he and Mordred were once close, but in the First 250, they haven't met yet. Is the First 250 the very beginning, before they were close? The query make it sound as if the story starts with them already in conflict.


      Great voice and a great character. Immediately connected with her. But what I need, in both the Query and First 250, is some context. When are we? Where are we? What is this key? Does it start in contemporary and she falls down a rabbit hole of sorts due to the key? Just needs a bit of framing. A few technical things: If that's the key in the purse, consider having her take it out and then stuff it back in, thereby creating more of a connection between the First 250 and the Query. As one of the other judges mentioned, that's a lot of chopped finger in 250 words. And be careful with how frequently you use the words "even" and "ever."

      Victory to Cryptopolis!

    4. A SEER IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT: This was fun. I always enjoy things about King Arthur and those times. This reminded me of Gerald Morris’s books – and I love those! Query: Your query really sets the scene. I feel like I know what the book is about and what its main conflicts are. Just a couple things that might help make it clearer: 1) I realize “that” is a word which often needs to be cut, but I think it might help the first sentence of the 2nd paragraph – “A grim prophecy predicts THAT Vael’s father…” And if you do that, you might want to change the “that” already in the sentence to “which.” 2) After reading it a few times I understand what the “None dare oppose fate” means, but I’m wondering if you could add a few words to make it clearer. Something like “None dare oppose fate by keeping the father and son apart” (or whatever fits your story) The 3rd paragraph seems pretty strong to me. 250: I enjoyed these a lot, and think they are very strong. The only suggestion I have would be to make this sentence clearer: “The hall had witnessed many such words since the news of Mordred’s arrival, and all over an unfounded—and unreliable—prophecy made decades ago.” It’s the “and all” in the middle. Perhaps even if you put a period after arrival, deleted the “and,” and started a new sentence with “All.” What do you think? Great entry. I loved it. Congrats and best of luck!

      CRYPTOPOLIS: What a great premise! Fun, with a bit of darkness. Congrats on a neat idea. Query: I have a good feel from this what the book is about, and some of her voice. A few nitpicks: 1) “she has only ever wanted” feels a bit clunky to me. Would you consider “All she’s ever wanted?” 2) centuries-old should have a hyphen, I think. 3) This sentence seems to be missing an “and” that could make it clearer: “…learns about it—and herself, AND the more she understands …” 4) Need a question mark after the last sentence of that 2nd paragraph. 5) I don’t think you need the last sentence. You’ve already said what you need to say, and it makes more questions than answers. 250: I enjoyed these and got a good vision of her and her surroundings. Great job. A few suggestions: 1) The 2nd sentence needs some different punctuation – perhaps a period after ‘call it that.’ And then the start of a new sentence. 2) I think it would read better if you deleted “And” at the beginning of “And for someone who could count…” I know the temptation to use it (I’ve done it, too!) but here I don’t think you need it. 3) I think a comma instead of a hyphen in that sentence might work better? 4) In the 4th paragraph, the sentence starting “Besides” I’m sure you know by now that Besides is spelled wrong. Other than that, I’m not sure what “Red’s” are, and that was a bit confusing (I’m sure it’s explained later), and there should be a comma after “pinky.” 5) I think the final sentence of that paragraph would read better if it were two sentences. “Well, to eat and sleep. Yet I knew only one of those was likely to happen tonight.” 6) In the next paragraph did you mean “Like a roach to A crumb?” 7) Would the correct phrase be to toss something to “the” side, rather than “my” side? I love “pixie-size plague.” So great! A fun and unique entry. Congrats and good luck!

      Congrats to both authors on good entries!


    5. Well, judging these matchups does not appear to be getting any easier because here is another tough one.

      For me, this was particularly difficult because I feel that A Seer in King Arthur’s Court has a stronger query while I was more drawn in by the first 250 of Cryptopolis. I definitely agree with some of the other judges that, in the Cryptopolis query, a few things need to be better defined – especially what the key is/does and why returning it (to where or who?) will save Davi’s life.

      So while I would buy/read Cryptopolis in a heart beat, I have to award victory to A Seer in King Arthur’s Court for its clear and concise query.

    6. A SEER IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT. I love a good retelling of King Arthur's court, and it sounds like you have a very unique spin on the tale. The hard part here is when you introduce a brand new character into the legend--in this case, Vael, who is a half-brother to both Arthur and Mordred--the reader struggles to fit that character into the line of known events. I had to read your query a couple of times to figure out how Prince Vael fit into the scheme of things, and I believe it was the reference to the "half-brothers" that was a little confusing, because I kept wondering: which half-brother? While the query left me a little fuzzy around the edges, your first 250 words got me right into the story and gave me a very good glimpse of Vael and set the stage for Mordred’s appearance. I felt like your voice was much stronger in the sample than in the query.

      CRYPTOPOLIS. I loved the opening sentence of your query, because it immediately hooked me. Additionally, the query reflects a strong voice and the character shines. Your last sentence in the first paragraph is tad clumsy, and in the second paragraph, you refer to “not only returning the thing,” which left me wondering: what thing? In the query, you need to bring in your antagonist more clearly and eliminate some of the fuzzy phrasing [see my comment on “the thing”]. Otherwise, this query seemed strong and gave me a unique story. The first 250 words places me firmly in the world you’ve created, and I loved Davi.

      While both queries and samples were quite strong, I say Victory to CRYPTOPOLIS.


      I like this concept a lot! My one concern is that because it is so well known, you have to go above and beyond to make your story sound unique. In that respect, for the query, I tripped on the identity of the main players. I think you mean, “Vael’s father, King Arthur, and Vael’s half-brother, Mordred.” Even this way, with the commas properly placed, it’s a lot of names in a short span. Easier is to revise to make it clearer. Otherwise, very nicely done!

      For the 250, I think it’s nicely written. Tons of voice, and we get a sense of Vael’s personality. I do confess I was a little confused because I got the sense from the query that Mordred and Vael knew each other at the start of the book, so that Vael was first meeting Mordred now was a bit off. This is probably an easy fix on your part though by adjusting the query accordingly.


      I like this query a lot! My only suggestion is to include a bit of detail on what the Bone Key is. I get you want to keep it a tad mysterioso, but a smidge of detail would be useful in giving us some context and drawing the agent into the story. There’s so much YA Fantasy out there, that your story has to be unique, and a few specifics can really elevate the story.

      The 250 read well, though it’s a bit repetitive in mentions of the cut-off finger. “Red’s” could use context. Also, watch for words like, “just” that can be cut. And, Bedsides should be Besides and you need an “a” before crumb. The hyphen and comma usage is a bit off too. Definitely need a hyphen after pinky in the fourth paragraph. Clean it up, and you’ll be good!

      Hmmm. Another tough one. I’ve gone back and forth a bit on this. These contests really show how much subjectivity comes into play. It could be either of you, but right now, I’m feeling one a bit more . . .


  2. Hey guys! Loved your entries, they sound like interesting stories (:

    Seer in King Arthur's Court: Your query was very interesting in introducing the main character, but I think you can skip some elements in regards to the usual legend of King Arthur, since everyone's familiar with the legend.Focus on what makes Vael's journey different, and how he remembers Mordred from before, and why he loves him and wants to protect him.
    As for first words, yours start very abruptly and don't match in tone with your query.

    Cryptopolis: I really enjoyed your query, but I think you could focus on what makes your story unique - what are the elements that stand out from other fantasies. You mention 'shadowy civil war, 'political intrigue' and 'nebulous legend', so maybe if you brought more specific elements to your query, it'd shine even more. I like your first 250, but wish there was a little more action in them.

  3. Interesting entries. Both sound like fun.

    Seer in King Arthur's Court: I liked the first 250, and they made me want to read on. I felt less sure about the query. In the first sentence, you simply refer to him as "Seventeen-year-old Prince Vael", but a little later you mention that he is a sorcerer, which gives a very different impression of his abilities. If it is important, I'd define it about him in the beginning, or at least explain in some way how it doesn't mean he has enough power to leave the protection of Merlin.

    Cryptopolis: The story sounds like a lot of fun, and I like the voice in the 250, though I think you could ease up on the mentions of the lost fingertip. I count at least four, which is a lot for your crucial opening words. My only other suggestion would be to find a way in the query to make the stakes clearer for her personally (i.e., why can't she just throw away the key in the first place?).

  4. NOTE: I am unable to vote on this one due to a conflict of interest, but will leave feedback! :)

    A Seer in King Arthur's Court:

    I personally think this does a very good job of briefly describing the characters and conflict in a way that will make sense to a variety of people, regardless of how familiar they are with the details of the Arthurian legends. The stakes here are very real, and I love the last line--this makes it clear that it is not only a matter of saving the kingdom, but a very personal challenge for Vael. I think you can probably cut the first line, as it's very "telling" without a lot of voice or excitement, and work the "Seventeen-year old Prince Vael" part into the second sentence.

    As far as the first 250, you do a very good job of getting into Vael's head and letting the reader know what he is feeling, which is especially crucial in YA. I'm not 100% sure you're starting at the right place, though. Is this walking through the halls of Camelot, in and of itself, important? Is there a reason not to start with the moment he actually SEES Mordred?



    There is a great sense of voice and setting in this query. I get a great feel for the world Davi inhabits, and am intrigued by the Bone Key. Your query has left me wanting to know more, which is a great thing! You may want to explain WHY Davi is a burden on society and what "people like her" means. Do you just mean that she is poor, or is she disabled or a member of an ethnic minority, etc? Also, be careful of some proofreading issues in your query. This sentence, especially, stuck out: "But the longer she has the Key, the more she learns about it—and herself, the more she understands that getting rid the relic is the very last thing she could ever do." There should be a second em-dash after "herself" (about it--and herself--the more), and you're missing an "of" after "getting rid." Finally, I'd cut the last two sentences. The last sentence is a fragment that doesn't tell us anything we shouldn't have already picked up on, and the second-to-last seems too casual, too contemporary, and out of sync with the tone of the rest of the query.

    The first 250 do a great job of setting the tone, and the voice is consistent with that in your query, which is good. The reader gets a good sense of Davi's dire circumstances. I also agree with the comment below about mentioning her finger over and over again... this seems at once like a very minor wound (did she just lose the skin on the tip of her finger?) and also a serious one (is it more like a partial amputation?)... if she's literally lost the first joint of her finger or so, it makes sense that that would be consuming her thoughts at this moment, but she also doesn't seem to be in enough pain or shock for that... and if it's less serious, what's the significance? Also, as with the query, misused em-dashes are distracting. You usually need TWO dashes to set off the aside, unless it's at the end of a sentence. Be careful of overusing em-dashes in general, too.


    Both well-written entries with fascinating worldbuilding and stakes! Unfortunately I can't vote because I have worked with one of these authors (and I actually think I've read BOTH first 250s before?), but I wish you both luck! :)

  5. Seer in King Author's Court-This sounds like an interesting premise. Your query is well written and spells out the stakes nicely. Though in the last line you said he's grown to trust Mordred but from what the query says it doesn't sound like Mordred is the kind to be trusted. Maybe make that a bit clearer. As for your first 250 words, I think you do a great job setting up both the world and the voice of the main character. I'm wondering why him walking down the hall is so important of a scene to start with. What I've been told is start with the status quo and by the end of the first chapter change that status quo.

    This idea sounds amazing. It's definitely a book that I would pick up off the shelf and read. However, I do think your query is too vague, especially in the second paragraph. Who are the assassins, what are the deadly artificats, etc. In other words, what makes this story stand out against its competition. Also I would get rid of the line about who said being a teenager is easy. You don't want rhetorical questions in your query. And the last line feels out of place.
    THe first 250 words really brings me into the scene. I can feel myself right beside Davi, which is create. The one line I stumbled over was the Red's and pinki line. When did this happen? You said it's still bleeding, so it must have been recent. Was it an accident or did someone attack her? That left too many questions in the air. I think it would have been fine if it wasn't still bleeding.
    These are both very well-written and captivating entries. Good luck to you both.

  6. A Seer in King Arthur's Court
    Query: I love King Arthur books, but I've heard that Arthurian retellings can be hard to sell; however, a sorcerer half-brother is a great twist on the legend. I'd make sure the query makes it clear that this is a fresh, new addition to the Arthurian bookshelf.
    250: I like how this sets us down in the middle of the action. I'm hooked, plot-wise. You might want to add more description, so we get a better sense of the setting.

    Query: Great query! I'd take out "even" from "isn't even supposed to be alive." I might also take out the last line, or combine the last two lines. ("Being a teenager is never easy -- especially when you're a starving pickpocket with an unexpected mission from the past." or something better than that!).
    250: Great voice! I'm a little confused about the missing finger -- is she missing a finger, or the tip of the finger. If it's just the tip, I'd change the first phrase to "the newly missing tip of her little finger."

  7. A Seer in King Arthur’s Court

    The first line is great, immediately telling me this is going to be a battle between brothers, with a father’s life at stake. I like how you then describe the motivations for each of the brothers in the next two paragraphs. The only line that trips me up a bit is: “But he has never left the protection of his mentor, Merlin, and attempting to alter fate is a fool’s errand.” Starting this sentence with “but” makes me think being under Merlin’s protection is an issue, but I don’t understand how. And I’m not sure how the second half of the sentence relates to the first.

    I love the idea of a prophecy, and the tension of it nearing fulfillment. Also, the internal and external struggle between brothers is intriguing. How do you save your own brother if you can’t trust him!

    Your 250 sets up some great tension immediately, and puts me right in the setting. I can almost hear the echoes in the stone corridor. Your writing pace feels good to me, and the way you end your first two paragraphs with punchy short lines is impactful. You might be able to increase the impact of “I had to see him” by showing this vs. telling us.

    I also like how you pack a lot of important details into the first page, pulling me in right away. And I feel the tension building as he approaches the hall. Overall, this is a great entry, and although I don’t typically read fantasy, I think this one would really hold my interest. Great job and good luck!

    I’m immediately intrigued by this character in your query’s first 2 sentences. Then, you hit me with this Bone Key she’s stolen and the mystery/power behind it, and I’m really hooked now. I’m pulled in even further when I see Davi’s predicament with the relic.

    One place where I think you could use a dash instead of a comma: “…the more she learns about it—and herself—the more she…” Also, the last line in the query seems unnecessary.

    Love your first two sentences in the 250. I especially like the detail about the concrete wall and the missing little finger. I had to read the 3rd sentence twice because it’s a bit long. Having two long, kind of complex sentences right off the bat feels “heavy” to me. Maybe you can explore a way to break it up a bit. “If you could even call it that.” seems like it should be its own sentence.

    When the first line of dialogue appeared, I wanted to know where it came from (below the concrete ledge? Across the alley?). I felt a little disoriented in the setting. “Shuffled backwards” to what? But I love the voice “that kid” conveys. We know right away this is not a welcome visitor and I want to read on to find out what her newly acquired prize is.

    I get tripped up at the line “Besides, losing the Red’s--unlike the tip of my pinky had taken far longer than expected.” What is “Reds”? And maybe you need a dash after “pinky”. I expect her to open the purse right away, and I’m not sure why she doesn’t. Maybe you can get that she only wants to sleep right away in that first paragraph.

    Really love the voice, and how Davi describes Serri “like a roach to crumb” and “pixie-sized plague”. Brilliant. You’ve done a great job describing these characters. I feel like I know them and already care about what happens to them in just this short sample. And I definitely want to read on to find out!! Great query and 250! Wishing you all the best.

  8. Seer in King Arthur: I got a bit turned around in the first paragraph of the query--could be a comma issue? Also, there were a lot names. They were familiar names, so I had an easier tie than I might in another query, but it's something to think about. One I got to the first 250, things took off for me. I was hooked by everyone whispering Mordred and Vael's rush to get where he was going. I also liked overhearing the guards. Gave me a good sense of the tone of the upcoming audience. And, though I do love me a "thusly," the one that showed up at the end threw me off a bit.

    Cryptopolis: The query was super clear. I was pulled in right away and felt like I had a good sense of the world, character, and stakes by the end. In the 250, I love the missing little finger and generally how you're trusting me as the reader to put thing together and/or trust that I'll figure out what I need to know in upcoming pages with things like "the Reds." I did get thrown off by having Serri first introduced as "the kid," though and would have maybe liked one of the more specific descriptions earlier. So many great details though!

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  10. Thank you all so much for all of your helpful suggestions! I'm so glad for all of the support I got during this contest. Also congrats to my competitor! I wish you lots of luck in round 2! :)

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  13. A Seer in King Arthur's Court

    Interesting twist on Authurian legend. "the prophecy nears its fulfillment" struck me as cliched and vague. Can you tell us more about what will happen and how this will impact Vael? Like how the first 250 opens, but I hadn't expected that Vael is himself an outcast. "Straightening, I walked toward the raised dais..." -ing verb construction like this suggests two things are happening at simultaneously but not sure they are. Perhaps "I straightened and walked toward the raised dias..." The rest of that sentence might become a sentence by itself as the sentence as written seemed overlong to me. And I'm not sure we need much detail about the knights who are gossiping about Vael's brother. Perhaps the dialogue sentences could end with a period and omit the speaker attribution and descriptions.


    Like the setup in the first paragraph of the query, but not sure the em dash needs to be there. "has even a prayer" struck me as cliched. You follow an em dash in the second paragraph of the query with a comma. I think you could use either commas or em dashes to set off the text you want. Perhaps use a pair of one or the other but not both as written. "...uncover the truth behind the Bone Key’s past..." Found this cliched and vague. I think both issues might be remedied by giving a glimpse of what this truth actually is and how it impact Davi. And I'm not a fan of the following sentence being it's a question masquerading as a statement. I would like to love the first 250 but awkward sentence construction right out of the chute made it difficult. "Bedsides" or "Besides"? Not sure if that's an error or if I'm just having a hard time following along. I'm not a fan of descriptive dialogue tags..."I demanded" tells us something you've just shown us with Davi's line. Didn't follow the description of Serri's voice. Seeing her line here and while Davi simply noted "the enquiry came again" above jarred me given the rapidly changing level of narrative distance