The chapter opens with Boroden mourning over the death of Ulfmolt. After they bury their dead, the brownies led by Boroden confront King Midhir.
Midhir challenges Boroden to a game, stating that if the king wins, he will enslave all the brownies.
Boroden says that if he wins, the brownies will be set free.
Midhir refuses to accept those terms. Boroden escapes the palace with his friends with him, but Midhir has sent his guards to capture the brownies.
Boroden happens upon a pony with wings, and asks her to help him rescue the brownies. She flies him outside the castle walls.
Big gap here at the beginning. All of a sudden, Ulfmolt is dead. What happened? As I mention in my comments, the hobyahs were advancing. Did they attack? Did Ulfmolt fight with the brownies? How was he killed?
The first part of the chapter, we are in a field where they are burying their dead after a battle. It is a bright sunny day for such a tragic activity.
Then, the action moves to Midhir’s castle, where Boroden confronts him. I think you did a good job of describing the castle, its grounds, and rooms.
We are in Boroden’s point of view in this chapter. There was one place I noticed a head-hop and made note of it in my comments below.
There are several new characters introduced in this chapter, but the main addition is King Midhir. We know what he is wearing but other than that, we know he has red eyes. I’m still not sure about the size difference. Is Midhir a human? Is he taller than Boroden? Is he old?
Another new character is Blackthorn, a flying pony. We find out that Boroden can communicate with her and enlists her help in rescuing the brownies from Midhir’s castle. She has a shaggy black coat and muddy legs. She has wings on her back.
I made some comments and suggestions below, along with some of my reactions while reading this chapter. Remember these are my humble opinion only. Take what advice you like and dismiss the rest. This is your story!
Boroden’s mind boiled with a torrent of grief as he knelt beside the body of his brother. There was still too much of the bairn in Ulfmolt’s ashen face. Boroden wished he had relented to Ulfmolt’s plea before the battle and run away with him. Then Ulfmolt would have lived. Boroden put his head in his hands and tried to shut out the pain and emptiness, but it clutched him. A voice in the back of his mind told him he must stir to prepare grave goods to commemorate Ulfmolt, but his stiff body refused to let him move. After the exertion of battle, every muscle ached.
[Wait! Ulfmolt died? When did that happen? I reviewed the previous chapters but couldn’t find anything. The last time we saw Ulfmolt he was in the nest and the hobyahs were advancing.]
Leon pushed his way through the makeshift canopy shelter. [Or this could be used in place of “screen of cloaks” earlier. JMHO].
Boroden shut his eyes, recalling that keeping in favour with the Seelie Court was paramount. His clan were proud to be part of the court of the faerie clans united into what humans called the People of Peace; good magical races that are generally benevolent to humans and returned kindness with favours of their own. If his father was here, he would have reminded Boroden that currying favour with the Seelie Court was paramount. But King Gruagach wasn’t there. Boroden wished he had some closure and knew either way whether his father was living or dead. When he thought of his missing father, Boroden’s mind churned with a torment of conflicted emotions.
[These two phrases repeat each other and “favour” is used three times. Consider “remain in good standing” or something similar.]
A moment later, Boroden’s tutor, Carnelian, and Torden, a burly brownie chieftain, stepped into the tent.
[Isn’t Leon Boroden’s tutor? If it is Carnelian, you can remove the comma after “tutor”, so we know they are one and the same. ]
Moistening his parched lips, for he knew it was important for a king to speak clearly, he addressed his clan. ‘There is no need for us all to go in to apologise to Midhir. I will represent you in addressing myself to him. Stay and rest here in the courtyard whilst I go inside. Torden - [I think a comma works better here instead of a dash.] I appoint you to take care of the clan in my absence.
Boroden cast them a grateful nod and led them into the palace. He felt small and vulnerable as the great doors sealed him and his companions inside. This irritated him. He wanted to do well for his people, as he had in battle leading a bold and victorious attack upon the hobyahs that waited to ambush his clan.
[In Chapter 2, the hobyahs were advancing, not waiting to ambush them. Or is this referencing another battle?]
Boroden nodded, although the fact that he was now king seemed unreal to him. ‘Let’s go on until we find someone to take us to Midhir.’
[His father King Gruagach is only missing at this point? It was mentioned earlier that it isn’t known if he is alive or dead? Is it premature to announce him as king?]
Boroden led his companions into a vast hall. His breath froze in astonishment at the grandeur of the room. It formed its own exquisite world lit by globes like floating suns. A cascade replete with waterlilies ran down its centre. The water moved unpredictably; now rising high, now babbling.
[Water moves unpredictably, yes, but is it behaving in a way that is unpredictable, maybe through some sort of magic? I’m thinking of a fountain with a stream flowing away from it. The water would stay within the confines of that stream, right? I might be nitpicking too much. Sorry. ]
Midhir’s red eyes bored into Boroden, and Boroden winced.
Midhir’s blood-red eyes trained upon Boroden.
[You mentioned the color of his eyes just before this. ]
‘When he fell from heaven, my father, The Dagda, lost some vials containing the juice of the fruit of the Tree of Life somewhere in caves beneath Velmoran. Long have my family sought it out for its power of granting immortality. Perhaps you have some at your disposal?’
[Midhir seems less belligerent by asking instead of demanding. Is he softening a bit?]
You know of what I speak, Boroden Ulfharen. Isn’t that what the monsters of the Unseelie Court call you - Ulfharen? It means wolf-coat. I wonder if your friends know what they mean by calling you that, creature?’
‘I told you that we didn’t know we trespassed,’ Boroden growled, finding it hard to keep his temper at Midhir’s threat uttered in a mellifluous tone. How had Midhir uncovered his secret?
[Is Boroden’s secret that he’s a ‘wolf-coat’? Is that the secret ability he and his brother swore to keep secret?]
Carnelian winced. ‘Boroden called Midhir a vile, villainous viper.’
[I’m sure Boroden meant it the nicest way? ]
Overhearing this Carnelian’s father, Lord Asuril, an old favourite of King Gruagach, pulled a face like he had swallowed vinegar.
[This is the first mention of Lord Asuril. Has he been there all this time?]
Boroden caught his breath. Perhaps he was a fool as Asuril seemed to think, but what else could he have done?
[I did not get the impression that Asuril thought Boroden was a fool. Just displeased at Boroden’s words.]
As he prepared to rally his followers to fight, a horse dealer ran by, almost knocking Boroden to the ground. He made to help his companion restrain a pony grown wilder than the rest.
[Boroden is trying to get his people to safety. Why is he stopping to help restrain a pony?]
Not knowing him from her captors, she tried to shake him off.
[This is a head-hop to the pony. We do not know what she is thinking, unless Boroden has a way to communicate with animals?]
Boroden spoke soothingly. ‘Please, gentle one, I mean you no harm. I’ll set you free and always be your friend if you do as I ask now, I swear it.’
She stilled her struggle, gazing at him with intelligent deep brown eyes. ‘What do you ask of me?’
Boroden had never heard a pony talk before, but this was no time to indulge his wonder at the sound of her whickering voice.
[Never mind! ]
The pony settled her hoofs on the ground outside the gates of Midhir’s fortress. Boroden slid from her back, landing unceremoniously on a heap of sacks marked ‘Killmouli’s finest flour.’ He pulled himself up, a sparkle of inspiration in his eyes.
[Did he open the gates?]