|Reviews for The God Slave (Prev: To Walk in the Wind)|
| Ventracere chapter 7 . 6/24/2015
Okay. Without the review game restrictions, I think this is going to be a little more rambly, so bear with me, haha. Onwards!
This was an interesting way to lead from one chapter to the next. Not going to lie, I did find myself smiling a bit when Balasar frowned at Daja. It's amusing really, especially after you end with the sentence, "I dreamt of you". But what makes it even better is that Balasar frowns at his companion. That goes to say, Balasar's character is mature, one that isn't about to poke fun even if his "prisoner" so to speak, is unconscious. On another note, I find that it's sweet of him to handle Daja with more care than say "a sack of hay", because again, Daja is his prisoner. Balasar has a good heart- as seen in the previous chapter with Ismene and now with Daja. Thanks for staying consistent with that :)
Oho. I'm a huge fan of when things are tied together, the little things from the previous chapters, and you've just brought that here. Previously you had mentioned that Balasar is an unbeliever. Daja and Balasar are opposites, a man who is ready to die for his god, whereas Balasar is one who doesn't believe in gods. We see that here that he offers little remorse for the priests ready to sacrifice one of their own for an idea that he believes isn't true.
Nice description of Daja there. I like that we get to see this through Balasar's eyes. Where as previously we only saw the descriptions of the priest, and Daja's nervousness. Now we get to see just how Daja is perceived by others, and you do him justice here.
For a second, I thought Asseo was Daja, but now I get it. Balasar paints Asseo in a much different light than Daja. It's funny, really, how different Asseo is treated from Balasar. Asseo is of no worth to him, whereas Daja intrigues him. That's the main difference. And now I get your title for the chapter, which makes Asseo a mouse. I'm a bit worried for the priest though, considering he is of little worth. Balasar doesn't seem like someone who is willing to let his men have another as a "toy" of sorts, but we'll see if that's actually true or not (I hope it's not for Asseo's sake).
Thanks for the read!
| Ventracere chapter 6 . 6/24/2015
Okay, first things first. Something that I find interesting is that you have a rather large cast of characters. Not that I should be talking, haha. But something you do extremely well is introduce us to them. There's not too much background for Ramal. He's a character I'm not exactly sure where he stands. He's an interesting one - one that has ties to Daja, but you don't exactly explain that to us. I'm slightly confused as to why Daja someone who is no more. I'm guessing it's because he is to leave the priest and the fact that there is an ambush coming soon. I'm sure I'll find that down the line in the next couple chapters or maybe even in this chapter :D? Maybe hopeful wishing. Okay, now I understand. So they're all his protectors, and he knew the ambush was coming.
Onwards. Let's just say I warbled a bit at the end. To address your author's note - I don't think he is a crybaby. In fact, had he not shed a few tears, I probably would have said that he seems so distanced from the scene itself. Which brings me to my next point, of how much emotion there is in this chapter alone. I think that sped up the chapter, and made everything easier to read. The fact that this was an emotionally charged chapter, made me invested. I want to see what makes Daja tick - well. Instead, you answered another question and reinforced as to just how much Daja cares about the priests around him. He loves them, even if Asseo was a little weird, and acting out of character for him.
Something else - regarding the action of the scene, I loved it. It wasn't so long that it dragged and it wasn't too short where it was a blink and you missed it. Another thing that I found interesting about this scene was that you way of describing it puts us right next to him. We're watching Isoba fall and your way of writing puts us right there. A little frightening, but fantastic nonetheless.
Thanks for the read!
| Ventracere chapter 5 . 6/24/2015
I think I'm going to go ahead and do this backwards, starting from your author's note.
I'm glad that this is the last build up scene, haha. It's mainly descriptors so far - and frankly, I'm a bit curious where this is going to go. I'm honest to god (hahahah), hoping that Balasar and Daja are going to meet up soon, which considering your chapter structure, this is going to happen soon. hehe, maybe I'm reaching a little too hard, a little too far. Anywho, onto the actual writing.
I found Balasar's words with Ismene here incredibly touching. Seriously? He takes a part of Ismene that is probably integral to herself, those scars are a part of her, something that she's gotten over being ashamed of and turns it into something more "beautiful". He respects her scars, and explains his reasons for thinking they are beautiful when Ismene is incredibly skeptical of his words. I can't fathom enough of what probably went through her head at that point.
Anywho, hopping onto the scene before this one. I'm not going to lie, I'm more of a fan of dialogue driven pieces, but you've got me interested with your descriptors. You've got a good way of writing that doesn't make the scene drag on. All these descriptions are beautiful, and I could visualize the rituals that Daja was going through in preparation for his last meeting with Isoba. Why is it that Daja is leaving all the people he loves?! And these people, Asseo and Isoba are all so kind to him. You did a fantastic job with making the emotion travel through the dialogue in the few places where you did integrate them.
"And Isoba's heart remembered what it meant to break." - no. Stop. (beautiful line to end a fantastic scene).
Thanks for the read!
| Ventracere chapter 4 . 6/24/2015
Interestingly enough, I thought this chapter was not going the way it ended up going - hahah. My bad.
Anywho. This chapter, I felt was a lot slower than the other chapters would be. Which, isn't a bad thing. It was a little slow for me, but it did serve it's purpose. Even though it's a more, explicit? chapter, we still get to see the inside of Daja's head, his thoughts and his feelings, and how that furthers his character. He loves his master, in the sense that he is incredibly loyal. What surprised me is Asseo, actually. I knew he was kind hearted for a master, but I'm surprised that he is /that/ gentle? with Daja. And I have to say, it's a nice turn as opposed to what is usually seen: the master is not as concerned about their slave's well-being even if they are gentle. Another thing that I liked was how while they are intimate with one another, it's still awkward for Daja. This counters and reinforces the whole master/slave closeness. Daja is first and foremost, a slave, perhaps even a body slave, though he does have the implications that his desires are satisfied as well.
Another thing that I liked was the introspection. Like I mentioned before, this chapter is heavily filled with introspection; however, despite the heaviness, it doesn't take back from the scene. The nature of the scene requires description, lest it seems too insignificant for a big part of the chapter.
Thanks for the read!
| pumadelic chapter 9 . 6/24/2015
It occurs to me that there is something of the Miracle or Mystery plays about your chapter titles.
Believe me, I'm relieved that you didn't go in for any rape sensationalism. The focus on Asseo's perceptions and feelings in the opening is a little uneasy and the writing here is not that assured. In particular I found the beached fish metaphor for a dry throat distracting. I might have liked more emotion here without overdoing it: I suppose Asseo is a trained ascetic, conditioned to ignore suffering. I doubt if your skin would be your biggest problem if you'd been repeatedly ...ahem ..buggered. He does consider suicide but recoils from it.
I do like the way you segued in from the focus on Asseo's breathing to the lack of wind. 'The air was a corpse' is an effective terse metaphor. Which leads me to
Faith versus self interest, limited reason versus belief. It seems that there may be something in the priests' beliefs after all. Has Balasar unleashed a drought on the land? We admire Asseo's retention of his faith in these circumstances. The encounter between the rational unbeliever and the priest displays an odd reversal of power. Balasar offers him escape. Asseo is tempted ' raw hopeful selfish want' but resists. Both love and faith are in play. Balasar seems like the cold existentialist laboratory scientist. We've seen that he is attempting to resolve issues in himself with this behaviour. He has listened to Ozzick, concluding that the rape fest could undermine his leadership. Asseo is stronger than he looks and his determination to stay to 'protect' Daja is genuinely moving as his confession of love and guilt. Considering how you described the sex between Daja and Asseo, the priest's self criticism is slightly harsh. Yet his analysis of the situation seems accurate to modern readers: Daja was used. The punishment perhaps exceeds Asseo's individual crime.
The queasy encounter with Iramond and Asseo's observation of Daja praying is a fitting finish. Once again, his resolution to hide his suffering is touching, if misguided. Some kind of confrontation appears inevitable now.
Bala continues on his ambiguous journey of self discovery. His act of mercy is really selfish and the reader might suspect that his lack of compassion for Asseo is motivated by jealousy of the man's certainties. Asseo's 'strength through suffering' thing is involving. For me it has too much of the martyr about it and I hope you'd put a lid on it soon Iramond remains a vulgar and repulsive figure. Asseo's reaction to Iramond removing his pants has a more genuine feel of post rape trauma to me - so well done with that. Asseo is sacrificing himself to be close to Daja. We can't help but hope this will be rewarded in some way. You demonstrate love of this nature as a source of strength and determination.
To offset the 'christ' figure angle, Asseo is given some very snappy retorts to Bala. 'Forgive me for not trusting you' 'I pray that you rot in hell'. It may be part of your point that Asseo's morality is childish and too black and white. Bala must be the devil and he must be angelic now to deserve Daja's love. Bala claims he isn't a liar when we've seen him deceive Daja with lies of omission. He is economical with the truth when it suits him. However, his ultimate truth seeking, questioning nature is there in the demand he makes of Daja 'what possible value could he have to you now?' The answer strikes him silent and we've seen that Bala is not often at a loss for responses. Asseo has the courage to love without any necessary hope of return: ditto his faith. Precisely what Bala lacks. Good stuff.
Now that we've seen that something has happened - i.e no wind - the question is raised as to whether Vhaki can indeed give Asseo strength and punish Bala for his actions. The ending makes you crave a Asseo-Daja reunion although the priest is probably deluded himself if he thinks he can hide his situation successfully.
| pumadelic chapter 8 . 6/24/2015
The opening section where Daja slowly realises that he is not dead, he has not been sacrificed and is therefore, in his own eyes, a failure and a traitor, is well realised with lots of relevant sensory detail. Balasar appears to be tending him very gently and appropriately. It is nice touch that Daja wonders whether Bala is a god or a demon. The reader might be wondering the same thing.
Bala wants to test belief systems. He emerges as a man so jealous of faith that he has agreed to subject Asseo to the torture of repeated rape just to see what will break a man who doesn't fear death. There is a bitterness in his disquisition to Daja; why do you imagine you are special, that your actions matter - no one matters, no one is special. This is challenging, complex and arrests the attention.
Daja's conditioning shows in his reluctance to survive but his concern for Asseo reveals his humanity. Jaleah is the voice of emotional morality here and Ozzick the voice of pragmatism. As I stated in the previous chapter, I'm inclined to agree with Ozzick that indulgence of cruelty backfires. We're being set up for some kind of confrontation. Bala has allowed his metaphysical angst to overwhelm his commonsense. It's a strange kind of vulnerability.
Daja's contradictions between desire for life and death are less evident here because he is in a trance like state. When he comes to himself, his high status shows in his attempting to blackmail Bala into protecting Daja. Bala wastes no time in disillusioning him but he is also trying to convince himself of the rightness of his actions and beliefs.
Bala is not any more sympathetic here than he was in the last chapter: he is, however, extremely honest when confronted with Ozzick's questions. He admits his real motivation without vanity.
Jaleah is perhaps given a stereotypically 'emotional' female role in responding with such vehement disgust to the rapes. We do share her contempt for Balasar, which is well calibrated and described. I would have loved for one of the men in the story to express equal disgust (this is hopeful feminism) at least in private. Ozzick sums it up nicely but does so in such measured terms that the reader could ignore his very astute analysis of the dilemma Bala has placed himself (and Asseo) i.
The drawn out opening section works well as a contrast to the various characters reactions to the new 'entertainment' in the camp. The conversations between Bala and Daja, Jamiss, Jaleah and Ozzick unfold naturally, neither too terse or frantic.
It is a smart decision to avoid a close up of Asseo's suffering in this chapter. It leaves more to the reader's imagination (excuse my mental vomiting) and allows us to focus on the power relationships and Bala's conflict.
Dialogue is well in character here and you are as adventurous as ever with metaphor. Some of them for me didn't quite work..I didn't like the earth holding a giant breath before a scream as an object correlative for repercussions from Asseo's situation or Bala being the prowling cat to Daja's maimed bird. I also don't see recognition as a clumsy wet butterfly. But perhaps that is because I haven't seen any kind of butterfly, wet or dry for too long and can't judge the comparison.
I really liked Bala repeating 'depends who you ask' and Daja calling him on it. Lack of commitment and moral ambiguity in a simple everyday phrase. And it is backed up by Bala's actions. He has made clear distinctions in his mind about who can be treated well and who doesn't matter. He threatens Desmond with castration for daring to make rape threats against Jaleah but poor Asseo is usable meat.
It is a dramatic and coherent chapter, both emotive and providing food for thought. What kind of man is this Balasar? Does he even know that himself? He is an absorbing conundrum and although this is tagged as slash, we can't predict how these relationships will develop and that holds interest.
| pumadelic chapter 7 . 6/24/2015
Bala carrying Daja's prone body allows for a nice mix of themes - lust, responsibility, fate. He can observe Daja's beauty and muse on his role as a sacrifice. I appreciate the blend of cynicism and conscience Bala displays in surveying the slaughter, followed by his rationalist disgust at the monk's belief system.
Balasar could descend into the tough renegade with the hidden heart of gold but you've kept him on the tougher edge here, to the point where he's almost unsympathetic - a smart move. He's a man who prefers thinking to feeling and he sits on his latent attraction to Daja 'the world is full of pretty faces' as well as any sympathy he might have for Asseo. His conversation with him is quite chilling because it demonstrates that Bala has made a Faustian pact with necessity and expects everyone else to do the same. On one level, you have him contemplating the idea that the monks have used Daja for 'crude fantasies of idealised death' and then you have him giving permission for the men to enact their crude fantasies of domination.
Iramond is the animalistic villain here and is suitably venal, slimy and brutally carnal. Perhaps his 'grin spread like a virus' is slightly overdoing it but he did make my flesh crawl so effect achieved.
Asseo wins unexpected brownie points for his feisty attitude to Balasar. Plus he shows concern for Daja after being informed of his new status as a rape toy. This is love indeed.
I also enjoyed Jaleah's responses to Daja: she is smart enough to diagnose his physical condition while appreciating his beauty and challenging Bala.
Strong sensory writing as ever. 'dark limbs bent and broken like shocks of polished ebony over the yellow sand' and 'his hair spilled over Abacus' chestnut coat like a stripe of night sky, hand selected for its utter lack of stars.' Very visual but little touches like the horse's unusual name seem revealing: Balasar is a msn who counts and weighs things up then does what he wants.
The sections describing Iramond and his bullying of Asseo are less original but all of the dialogue works, even Bala's particular brand of 'advice' to Asseo. I didn't like Iramond commenting on Bala's heart - that was the cliche that needed to be avoided .
It's a tense interlude. You have Jaleah's challenge to Bala's atheist rationality - what if there is something in these superstitions and can Bala control this situation? Asseo's fate is gruesome but it sets up an expectation of further violence. Will someone rescue him? Will that person be Daja or someone else? When Bala says he will do what he likes with Daja, we might now expect the worst. Is he as bad as Iramond? Bala does not seem that authoritative here because he has let a man like Iramond have his way and that probably isn't good. He may reason that it will keep these men happy but he is supposed to be a leader. Or is he? He seems morally bankrupt and over compromised.
I like Balasar lingering over Daja's name. He perceives Asseo's interest in Daja and gives a typically provocative response.
| Tangled Puppet chapter 1 . 6/21/2015
I always love your description of foods. Even the smallest detail makes my mouth water and makes me wish I could jump in the story and snatch the goodies up. And it's not even a major focus of this chapter. Haha. As always you do so well to describe the setting and I feel like I'm there, most times, and it's extremely easy to imagine it in my head.
This chapter really gives you an insight on Balasar's personality and how he handles things. Though we both know I have a love/hate thing going on with Bala at the moment. You also tell enough of the backstory to get the reader interested but definitely don't give everything away. It leaves you wanting more and definitely captured *my* interest the first time I read it.
| Ventracere chapter 3 . 6/21/2015
The argument that you start out the chapter gives the scene a tense feeling right from the get go. The words are charged, and even though the two argue, we can see that both Bala and Oz care about each other an extent. Funny how they both disapprove what each other are doing. Though I suspect that Balasar is doing so a means of a defense mechanism. Oz actually disapproves of what Balasar is doing, especially by pointing out that although Balasar denies believing in gods, he dictates his life on them. It's a poignant statement, that stuck with me for the entire chapter, but I'm not exactly sure why, haha.
At the same time, we see that Oz obviously cares about Balasar's wellbeing. I liked how you have the scene with the fish/food to demonstrate it. Oz tries so hard to "help"/care for Balasar, and for some reason it's a bit amusing to see Balasar deny him. It takes Oz a decent amount of prodding to get Balasar to admit things, but eventually he does. That push, push, push by Oz was fun to read. It's great to see that you've established right from the get go that Balasar has some one he can trust, much like Daja, the slave. I'm curious how they're going to meet up though, considering how their paths haven't crossed yet.
Thanks for the read!
| Ventracere chapter 2 . 6/20/2015
I loved your descriptions, especially the opener. It came around full circle to the end, where you revisited the idea of "singing chimes" and the idea that the wind had a voice. It gives the chapter a sense of coherency, that unity that kind of wraps the chapter together well as a whole.
The scene at the top of the temple was relaxing and it certainly carried through your words. Daja seems to accept his fate, though at the same time, he's only just coming to terms with it. You explore it well by showing us by how he says it aloud in a sacred place, like he's telling a secret to the wind in hopes that it'll carry it away with him. It's poetic, in words and in scene.
Pacing wise, this is a slower chapter, but it's suitable. I liked how you have the contrast between Daja and Asseo. Asseo's character, which you don't have too much time to flesh out counters Daja's. Daja is much more contemplative, and Asseo comes to the conclusion quickly that Daja might have slipped off had he stayed up there too much longer. Well, not exactly, more like he's protective of Daja. In that short scene, you were able to explore that, so kudos!
Thanks for there read!
| DarkWolfWavius chapter 1 . 6/18/2015
I really liked this story :)
One of the reasons I liked this story was because of how descriptive you were. It made a lot of the scenes feel more alive to me :)
The only thing I disliked about this story was a minor one. There are a couple minor grammar issues. It wasn't really that noticeable though so don't worry too much about it :)
Overall, good job D
| Chiscribe chapter 7 . 6/17/2015
Despite this being a shorter chapter than the usual, it was a nice change of pace from the last little battle scene and this chapter did a good job of characterization for Bala as we learn that he is regretful in killing the priest because they were just doing their duty while he unfortunately was doing his. It really gives him a touch of humanity in knowing that he doesn't like indiscriminate killing with no reason or a reason that is less than righteous on his eyes.
His interaction with Asseo was also memorable because of his blunt and direct way of telling him what was going to happen if he didn't cooperate and the way you conveyed Asseo's helplessness at the hands of the mercenaries, very intense moments with him indeed.
In all while I wouldn't say much happened in this chapter, it felt more like a buildup to the real bulk of the plot. We're already so far in where the main plot is unfolding at a steady pace and now you've managed to rack up the tension with the question of whether Daja would even appreciate the help he received from Bala and his men
| Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 14 . 6/16/2015
Oh yes :D I agree with Eagles - the fight scene was really well done :) I'm generally sort of ambivalent towards them myself in novels, because they're sort of less interesting on paper. More long-winded. Sometimes hard to follow or difficult to picture. Sometimes they drag for ages, and I just want the writer to stop already, because I'm honestly not that engrossed in the fight :P
What I liked here is that build-up was right: you felt Daja's fear, the disbelief of the others, and Ira's clear mocking and complete underestimation of Daja's abilities. Not a cliché in this case though, because Daja is a slender, beautiful sacrifice that those mercenaries stole from a temple; they assume that he's been trained to 'please', and not to fight. (It is a cliché, in so many many battle manga, for the opponents to underestimate the hero/counterpart). I felt that the build-up made the actual fighting scene more interesting, because you got us emotionally involved. This was done through Daja being scared, hesitating and quite frankly, not even believing at first that he had actually spoken those words :3 If you're like me and get protective of literary baes, then you know that I'm really worried for Daja during such moments: when he says something and then gets into trouble (we know how that ended last time ... ): ). There were also very good subtle moments that happened pre-fight, like Asseo holding Daja's fingers. It's such a nice remainder of their bond, and Asseo's concern. My little puppy ;_; Come and let me hug you XDD.
Okay, moving on. My favourite subtle pre-fight moment was Ira showing Daja the weapons of his fallen masters. That was cruel and unexpectedly so, but it does show two things i) Daja really did lose everything and ii) Ira is not just all muscles, and no brain. He's aware of how much Daja must be hurting to see this, and I think that was a clear provocation; he's a bastard all right, but I do love how he knows how to rile up his opponents. And what I loved about Daja in that moment is that he did not fall prey to this provocation; instead, he calmly chose the weapon that he knew would suit him best. Again, that's AWESOME, and shows just how intelligent Daja is: he's not only been growing, but he's showing a very clear survival tactic. He's not letting Ira get to him, and I respect him a lot for that :D
...I like your weapon descriptions. No, I'm not a weapon expert, but I did like the level of detail here (though I got a little mistake somewhere when you talked about Daja's little toy :3 There was an extra unneeded 'my' there. I can't copy/paste, so ): ...Sorry, I'm useless :/). But yeah, I liked your weapons descriptions: it's nice to have something to visualise, and it also seems like you really know what you're talking about. Which gives you more reasons to brag, AND gives this story a sense of authenticity. As for the fight scene itself: I think it was well-handed. Easier to read than most, and nice to follow, though I'm not going to go into great lengths talking about it, because I was more GRIPPED by the Balasar and Daja interactions :P
So. I am honestly glad that we are beginning to see more hints of Daja and Balasar attraction(s) in this chapter. I liked how Balasar, seemingly protective at first, was intrigued by Daja's decision to fight in this chapter: I liked that you hinted at his attraction here, showing that he's interested in Daja's less than submissive nature, in his ability to defend himself and prove to be a force to be reckoned with. It shows that he's not just attracted, because Daja is a 'pretty little thing'. I liked that he stopped/intervened in the fight with Ira, before it got too 'heated', but then did not hesitate to cut Daja's lip when he and Daja fought. I think it's an interesting contradiction: he's willing to hurt Daja, but he's not wiling to let others hurt him :D :D It also hints at his cruelty, but also his protective nature.
BUT let's talk about the fight :D I thought the whole thing - the leading up to the sword fight to the fight itself - was like a sex scene. It had foreplay (hehehehe), the main event and some sexy aftercare. I'm stupid okay, but I just loved how they both were testing each other out, flirting and how Balasar was complimenting Daja, but also - inevitably - teaching him/leading him. In all seriousness, I felt that this was the first time that those two men really saw each other: Daja realised that Balasar was someone who could teach him something/was worth getting to know further, while Balasar realised, really now, that Daja was maybe not something that he should sell off. I liked that here, in this case, he actually was beginning to see Daja as a potential fighter, as someone who could prove to be an ally even :D
Yeah, I'm switching tenses, but I just loved the scene: the part where Balasar wins and then still teaches Daja something was lovely :D Even lovelier was the lip-cutting moment, because it was hot/sizzling/unexpected. If that's how they fight, I really can't wait to see the sex :P Also, I loved how Daja was attracted, confused, interested :D I feel like the boy's finally learning what attraction is. And that's a good thing, but it's also dangerous, because Asseo is in love with him, and Daja is so not aware. He's leading him unintentionally on, and I feel that's not going to end well ):
Not at all.
Mmm. Need to cut this short, I'm tired, and I think I covered everything that I wanted to. I'll review better for 15 :) But thanks for fun read :3
| Ventracere chapter 1 . 6/16/2015
Hullo, hullo! Anywho, my first thought was Pendragon - from the name - interesting how the speaker is asking about legends :D yeah. okay. I'll stop right there. Onto the review!
Something that I definitely liked was your opening descriptions. You didn't hit your readers too hard with all these sensory details. What you do tell us of what is happening around Balasar is that enough that we have an idea, but too much that we're overwhelmed.
The pacing of the chapter was a little slow, but I appreciate how you give us an overview of the world that you've set this up in. Abdhi serves as a great way to carry across information to your reader - we get the same information that Balasar is receiving. It puts us right into the story, and we're right along with Balasar as he is accepting the "mission" of sorts.
Last thing I liked, are these lines "'Said the villain to the hero?' Balasar asked. 'I think not, Minister.' He pushed up from his perch against the wall, making to head for the door. 'I'm no hero. I'm working for you, remember?'" This cements the idea that he's aware of what he's doing, the mission he's taking on. In just some dialogue, you've alluded to the fact of just how aware Balasar is of himself. He knows what he's getting into, and where that puts him. It gives him a depth of character I wasn't expecting to see in the first chapter.
Thanks for the read!
| Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 13 . 6/16/2015
I hope I can make this review long, but there are so many things I can say, so many thing I *want* to say, but I still owe you a review 10, but I will also play this for the games, since I've been meaning to catch up. But - in a general sense - I think this is a lovely chapter: juicy in terms of plot, and wonderfully detailed in terms of background imagery and scenery that doesn't just serve the purpose of being pretty, but gives this story an atmosphere that straddles the line between being threatening (at the beginning) to hot and humid and heavy while the troupe resumes their travels. But I'll say more about that later :D
What I really, really loved about this chapter was the beginning paragraph about the air being so heavy and humid that everyone had trouble waking up. I have experienced those kind of mornings, and so the description was realistic and relatable. Moreover, I think it was a great starting ground for Balasar to be a bit sluggish and sort of dazed when he got up, making the later discovery so much worse. What I'm saying is that I liked how you set up the moment of his waking up, to seeing Jaleah there, drinking and telling him to go to church very well. You could kind of sense that something was wrong, but rather than playing up the melodrama, I think you build up this scene in a very quiet and realistic manner - I like that; it makes the pacing more natural. I also liked how Jaleah called Balasar 'Bala', since that - yet again - established how close they are to each other :3 I keep saying this, but I love how you play up the closeness of the cast - especially between Balasar and his closer companions. When Ozzrick came into the scene, I could again sense that he and Balasar were close. I liked how Oz was so quiet and serious and just told Balasar to see for himself, what was in the church...
And that church discovery scene, I must say, was honestly chilling. No, you didn't describe much, but I don't think it was necessary: what you did describe was to the point, grotesque and just vivid enough that you could a clear idea of what had happened/how horrifying the discovery was. I really liked that you used the sense of smell to pinpoint the state of the church, and the state of the corpses. It's horrible to think about, truly, but nothing is as clear, as vivid, as direct to a reader as smell (it's something we experience in our daily lives). Also, it was a great way of not simply relying on sight. I loved the follow up to the discovery: Oz and Balasar's conversations are becoming my favourite staple in this story, but this quiet, honest discourse on their part, especially on Oz's part showed a lot: how Oz is scared, how he's trying to warn Balasar, and how Balasar is, yet again, brushing him off. I feel this will backfire on Balasar, but yes, I love this scene for the sense of foreboding it gives me. I mean, it's somehow unsettling me, and I just enjoy those things :D It's kind of like later, in the story, I will be able to tell that this was a sort of early plot hint :D (...I'm tired, ignore me).
I really enjoyed Daja's scenes in this chapter, because we can, yet again, see how he's growing. This is especially evident in the scene where he's sort of cursing on his god and thinking back to Balasar's words; I like this scene, because I felt that he was further accepting his fate, and becoming even less of puppet :D That's really cool, and I also think you handled his thoughts quite well via the form of italics. I also loved the quieter moment, just as he woke up and considered how warm Asseo was. It was a ...very touching moment and so tenderly written; I loved it for that, because it made me remember how young those two are, and how much they have been through. It also brought to mind how Daja will have forever lost the luxury of enjoying such normalcy and innocence ): Poor Asseo too.
Honestly? Daja has so lost so much ):
Anyhow, I loved the moment where Jaleah popped up and healed Daja; it was a quiet moment, but I felt that it served a purpose, and I liked that it hinted at more interaction between Jaleah and Daja (and it was a great way to hint at Daja becoming interested in learning Balasar's tongue). I also think it was a great scene that served as a remainder of Daja's growth, and how he's becoming a survivor :D Also: I loved the scene where he told Balasar to burn the corpses; I also liked how he just knew what had happened at church. It shows how he's so intelligent and self-aware (also he did dream about this, if I recall correctly in earlier chapters ...). Honestly, there are a lot of scenes I loved in this chapter, but I just cannot comment on every single one ;_; But I feel that you are very good with those quiet moments - not only because you build up the characters well, but because you always seem to have the plot in mind too (and are building it up further).
I liked that you introduced a time-skip in this chapter that was short and sweet, but also introduced a few new developments; it helped pace the story a bit, and also was a natural way of showing how Daja is growing closer to Balasar's moment (I like that he's trying to learn their tongues, and is also remembering names; it definitely shows that he's wiling to adapt/has accepted that he has to stay with those people). I think you did a great job of showing Daja's intelligence by having him analyse the structure of this group, Moreover, I also thought it was a great way of informing the reader about the structure in a non-clunky manner; instead, it was very elegant and natural. I also kind of like how there are two fractions: between Balasar and Iramond. I sense a rivalry :D?
ALSO THE LAST PART. I like how you describe Iramond as a decent fighter. Still, he comes across as arrogant, and I love that this riles Daja up :D :D :D I further love how this leads to him challenging Iramond :D It makes for a great cliffhanger, and makes me want to read the next chapter pronto :)