This site will self destruct in 2 months, March 17.
It will come back, and be familiar and at the same time completely different.
All content will be deleted. Backup anything important.
--- Staff
Roleplay Cloud -

Sign up to EliteSkills

Already have an account? Login to Roleplay.Cloud
Forgot password? Recover Password


Author: Syrinx
ASL Info:    16/F/US
Elite Ratio:    6.16 - 35 /30 /12
Words: 1995
Class/Type: Story /Misc
Total Views: 1356
Average Vote:    No vote yet.
Bytes: 11170


I suppose you could call this a fairy tale...I know that it's long but if you have the time please read it and give me detailed critiques. I'm thinking of sending it to a teen writing magazine and would really like to correct any mistakes. Tell me if anything is unclear and your interpretations. Also if anyone knows of a critique forum for short stories I'd like to know since this is mainly a poetry site. Thank you!


Maya weaved expertly through the streets, ducking under arms and shouting voices and slipped discreetly through the humid air, thick with sounds and smells of all kinds. Red-faced merchants argued over the prices of fish and kohl and glass from Egypt, thrusting products in passersby’s faces, veiled wives chatted amiably, dogs barked and monkeys scampered and caged peacocks squawked in woven cages. The smells of cooking, perfume, and unwashed humans mingled in the air. Maya scampered before a pair of camels led by an exasperated-looking little man wearing a headpiece that was taller than he was, and crossed the loosely-paved street to avoid the wobbling turban. She tripped over a jutting stone and caught herself against a thatched wall.
An old man sat cross-legged in the filth at her feet, leaning against the wall with his eyes closed. His stick thin legs and dirty feet poked out from under a torn and soiled cloak, and he held between gnarled and arthritic fingers a beautiful oboe. He put the instrument to cracked lips and began to play a soft, haunting melody that seemed to snake through the air like a wisp of smoke, then stopped and his wrinkled face creased into a wide smile. He opened his eyes and gazed up at the girl with sightless eyes glazed white with cataracts. Maya backed away with wide eyes and stumbled back into the streets. She avoided jostling elbows and turned a corner, darting into a thatched apartment.
The walls and floor and everywhere she looked was filled with aloeswood, most unformed and twisted like demons, but some were carved exquisitely into strange and beautiful forms, four mermaids in a wishing pond, a jinniyeh with an eye on the tip of each of her fingers and toes, a sea serpent, a flying king with a feathered cloak streaming out behind him, a backwards hunting scene, a jinni standing with each foot on a pillar of fire…A man emerged from behind a dusty curtain, chipping away at a small chunk of wood. He was a foreigner, with a pointed beard and hair that seemed to be made entirely of discarded wood shavings, and small shiny eyes. “Does the Raja want another chess set then?” he asked Maya in an oddly accented voice. His eyes were a piercing green. She squinted at him. She was sure they had been almost black just a moment ago. She realized he was waiting for an answer and nodded. He considered her for a moment, tilting his head slightly to the side. His hands began to work faster, the little knife flashing. He never once looked down at his work; his hands moved nimbly, independently, with a life of their own, sending wood fragments flying across the room. Finally he nodded. “It will be ready by tomorrow, I think. What will it be this time? Moors and Christians? Or marads and afrits? Kings and carvers perhaps?” he laughed, and set his newest creation between a mountain with a craggy face creased into a tired smile and a many-legged donkey. He gave Maya an odd smile and vanished behind the curtain. His eyes were now the color of smoked glass.
Maya stood still for a long moment and watched the curtain sway back and forth and finally come to a halt. She didn’t move for a while longer and then, when she was sure he was gone, walked across the room and carefully lifted up the carving. It was a tiger, intricate and beautiful. The tiger sat back easily on its haunches, its fur rippling back smoothly like a river, its ears erect. The tips of small, delicate fangs poked out from the corners of its mouth; its eyes were wide and interested. It seemed to stare into her soul. It was unnerving. It smelled like night. Her heart began to beat faster. She ran her fingers along the surface of the wood, and suddenly slipped it into a fold in her dhoti, and she dashed into the chaos of the streets, breath coming in short bursts. She wove through the streets; she stopped, stared at her hand, turned it over, and traced the lines of her sweaty palm, and wondered what it would be like to live without it, marking her as a thief forever. If she returned now, she could return her prize before it was missed; there was still time. She studied the tiger for a moment; it regarded her calmly. She put it back inside her dhoti and entered the palace through the kitchen, treading softly across the rush-strewn floors onto the rich Persian carpet of the princess’s quarters. The daughter of the Raja was balanced precariously on thick white leather sandals poking out from under her brightly-colored silk dhoti; her hair was swept up far over her head in an elaborate hair ornament, like the crest of a bird, and she was covered, head to toe, in glistening bangles. Delicate fingers and toes covered in jeweled rings, arms and legs encased in silver bands of all kinds, armlets and anklets and wristlets, all stacked one on top of the other. Ears sagged under heavy gold, and a single ring hung between her nostrils, like a Spanish bull. Maya’s own dhoti was simple tan sackcloth, her feet were bare and dirty, and her dark hair fell long and tangled to her waist, framing a small, plain face with round golden eyes and a mouth that never spoke. She wore a single iron anklet, but her arms and legs were covered in lash marks, stark pink against olive skin, the bangles of a slave.

* * *

Maya licked her thumb and index finger and snuffed out each candle one by one. She had done this every night for as long as she could remember, ever since she had been sold to the royal family from…wherever she had come from. She snuffed the last flame with blackened fingers, and lay down upon a mat at the foot of the bed. She heard her mind’s churning become a soft buzzing and then a murmur and finally a single thought that trailed off as sleep covered her eyes with its ghostly veil. The miniature tiger crawled out from under the mat, surfacing as if from a pool of water, shaking itself and scattering rushes. It padded silently towards Maya and sank gracefully to its haunches beside her head. It turned toward her. Its eyes were huge and golden, like twin orange moons. Maya opened her eyes. Dawn was creeping over the windowsill. She rifled through the rushes until she found the carving. It looked up at her with flat, depthless eyes. Scratches etched in wood to give the illusion of sight. It was blind.
Later, when the princess was gone, Maya went through her many chests until she found a string of amber beads, like orange moons. With a racing heart she took a candle and sealed two beads to the etched eyes of the carving with hot wax. In the candlelight, it looked up at her from deep pools of gold.
That night the tiger surfaced from the rushes and crept over with a soft click click click on the hard floor. Keen, elongated claws curled from the tip of each paw. The next day Maya found a silver case of ornate ivory sewing needles and carefully sawed off the pointed ends and sealed them to the tiger’s blunt wooden paws.
When Maya closed her eyes that night, the tiger crept through a shaft of moonlight towards her. It had ginger fur that shone and undulated with the tiger’s fluid movements. Its eyes glowed eerily in the moonlight. And when she awoke, the carving was as naked as ever. The graven ripples of fur seemed to be no more than wrinkles in loose and unnatural skin. As soon as the sun sank below the horizon, she crept to the kitchen and surveyed an assortment of glinting, ominous-looking chopping knives, selected a curved, wicked blade and slunk to the princess’s quarters. Breathlessly, she chose a small square of the voluptuous fur and cut down in one swift movement. The princess sighed and turned over, but slept on as soundly as ever. Maya clothed the carving, then snuffed out the candles and fell asleep smiling.
The tiger sauntered over and sat beside her head on the rush mat. Its fur rippled, its claws glinted, its eyes shone. All across its beautiful fur, across its back and shoulders and legs and face stretched magnificent black stripes. Maya awoke with a start and put her head in her hands. Her long tangled hair fell in a curtain over her face. She trembled slightly, then stopped. She looked up at the window, still dark, with the silver moon halfway across the sky, casting sharp dark shadows across the room. She smiled. It was an icy smile, the smile of a person about to step from a cliff, weighted with stones, to sink into the sea. She rose up off the floor and skulked like a spider out of the room and into the long echoing corridor. Without a sound, she entered the Raja’s quarters. The immense glowering door did not creak. She crept across the rich woven carpet, the moon casting twisted shadows across staring tapestries. She could hear giddy drunken laughter from the other room, the Raja and two Chinese merchants he had traded with for a jade box of beautiful black silk hair ribbons for the princess. Maya padded over to a stone writing desk with clawed feet and carefully removed the jade cover, carved lavishly with lunging dragons. An incense burner smoldered in a corner, the light from its fire made the ribbons shine. She took the box reverently and the mute slave laughed. She slid the iron slave anklet over a bony ankle and it fell with a muffled clunk on the carpet. She darted silently out of the room clutching the box. Meticulously, she fastened the ribbons to the orange fur of the wooden tiger by the light of a flickering candle. The sky was still the deep black of night. Maya fell curled up on the mat and slept peacefully.
The tiger came for the last time. Its orange fur rippled, the black stripes gleamed. With its surreal amber eyes locked on hers, it wordlessly reached out and traced an ivory claw over the long pink scars ornamenting her arms and legs and back. The blood ran, not red, but black.

* * *
The Raja ambled into his bedroom, swaying slightly and still grinning. He headed towards his monstrous silk-covered bed and sat down, closing his eyes and feeling across his desk for his gift for his daughter. It wasn’t there. He opened his eyes. He searched frantically across the stone writing desk, and then, most undignified for a king, across the richly carpeted floor. He found nothing. Well, not entirely nothing. He did find an iron slave anklet, the braided kind that his daughter’s slave always wore. He barreled through the room and threw open the heavy doors, they smashed into the walls on either side. He stormed through the hallway like a madman. The few servants who witnessed it swore that his eyes were bloodshot and rolling madly in his head. He threw open the doors of the princess’s chamber and stopped. The princess was sitting bolt upright with widened eyes, but the mat was empty. The little mute slave girl was nowhere to be found. As the Raja turned to leave the room, he thought he caught a glimpse of a magnificent striped tiger with round golden eyes peering through the window out of the corner of his eye, but when he spun around and looked closer, the tiger was gone. He wondered if he had seen anything at all.

Submitted on 2005-08-15 11:35:37     Terms of Service / Copyright Rules
Edit post

Rate This Submission

1: >_<
2: I dunno...
3: meh!
4: Pretty cool
5: Wow!


  thrusting products in passersby’s faces = thrusting products in the faces of passersby The original sounds clumsy, and I think it’s because it has too many ‘s’es(sp?).

taller than he was, and crossed = taller than he was and crossed
The comma adds an awkward pause that throws off the rhythm of the piece.

I love it when the blind man looks up at her. It’s kind of creepy. But it doesn’t seem like it belongs there. Maybe move it to a later part of the piece.

on a pillar of fire…A = on a pillar of fire. . . . A
If you’re going to finish a sentence with ‘. . .’ you put a period and then the three dots, and then double space before the next sentence begins.

with a pointed beard and hair that seemed to be made entirely of discarded wood shavings, and small shiny eyes. = with a pointed beard, hair that seemed to be made entirely of wood shavings, and small, shiny eyes.
There were too many ‘and’s, so I replaced one with a comma. It helps keep the tempo and rhythm. Also, ‘discarded’ was unnecessary.

“Does the Raja want another chess set then?” he asked Maya in an oddly accented voice. His eyes were a piercing green. = The same thing, but make this its own paragraph. You always make a person’s speech its own paragraph, occasionally followed by limited description. Also, by isolating the part about his green eyes you create a bit of a dramatic pause before Maya says they were just black. Although, his speech says that they know each other. So his eyes changing color wouldn’t seem abnormal to her, she probably wouldn’t even notice it anymore.

The description of Maya seems to come a little late in the story. I like the contrast you were creating, but a detailed description in the beginning and then a simpler one for the contrast would suffice.

At first you say that she took the tiger because its eyes looked into her soul, then later you say she put amber colored bead in the eyes so they would look more alive. It’s an incongruity that doesn’t make sense. Also, it seems like it would make more sense for the tiger to have gold eyes after Maya adds her beads. Or the tiger should have no eyes the first time it sits by her and then have eyes after Maya adds her beads.

chose a small square of the voluptuous fur = What fur from where? Is it the princess’s hair or a rug made from a tiger pelt?

mute slave laughed. She slid the iron slave anklet over a bony ankle and it fell with a muffled clunk on the carpet = This just doesn’t make any sense. Is Maya the mute slave? Why did she take off the anklet? I understand that you’re trying to be obscure as part of the style, but this is just confusing. If you hinted at her muteness earlier in the story, it would make more sense. Maybe show and/or tell her thoughts as she makes decisions.

Maya doesn’t notice the rushes she crawls through and doesn’t notice when the tiger scratches her? It doesn’t make sense. Have Maya wake up, then switch scenes to the Raja getting mad.

Your writing is good, but needs polishing. You probably just need practice. Reading counts as practice, and as read take note of grammar and wording. I like the idea of the mute slave girl. I actually have a very similar character in a story I’m writing, but I think you just inspired me to give her a solo on this site. :D

P.S. I think this is the longest comment I have ever given!
| Posted on 2005-08-19 00:00:00 | by HaldirLives | [ Reply to This ]

Think Feedback more than Compliments :: [ Guidelines ]

1. Be honest.
2. Try not to give only compliments.
3. How did it make you feel?
4. Why did it make you feel that way?
5. Which parts?
6. What distracted from the piece?
7. What was unclear?
8. What does it remind you of?
9. How could it be improved?
10. What would you have done differently?
11. What was your interpretation of it?
12. Does it feel original?