Red -- their comments (Sister Card is my teacher)
Blue -- my response
[Sis Card: Reword for more clarity--just this one sentence.] The legends claimed a people lived in the Mountains of the Moon. These people, called the Surilt, had once befriended the people of the Valley Forest. The Surilt came and went freely through the Valley Forest, teaching the people how to use the land and the trees. [Flow here I like it. Deal with it.] Years passed, and the kingdom of Tarea was established in the Valley Forest. As Tarea grew, the Surilt passed through the Valley Forest less and less, until they never came at all. [valley forest--repeated TOO much use different terms. You. Are. Dumb.]
In Tarea, the Surilt were replaced by legends. The people of the mountains were said to be magical. They were able to appear and disappear at will, conjure up any number of spells or things or people, move even the great mountains or the rivers--the Surilt were said to be powerful beyond compare. People who lived on the outskirts of Tarea sometimes claimed to have seen a Suril--just catching a glimpse before the Suril disappeared in a flash of light. But no one believed those who said they'd seen them.
Hundreds of years passed since the disappearance of the Surilt. The line of kings of Tarea continued, and the legends of the Surilt were sung less and less. By the time Veldun was crowned king of Tarea, all that remained of the legends of the Surilt was a vague shadow. Few, if any, could remember even one verse from the legends, and fewer still believed them. Among those few believers was Haldan, the youngest son of Veldun. In the back of his mind, Haldan always hoped to someday see a Suril, even if the entire kingdom would mock him. As Haldan grew older, he gradually forgot his dream of seeing a Suril until the day his father asked him to accompany two women back to their home in the mountains.
Comments on Prologue: "Really raised my interest." "Kind of seems to not fit w/ the rest of the story. If they are legendary figures shouldn't it be harder to find one than the 1st page?" "Sis. Card: Draw out / Flash back to dialogue / PROLOGUE?" "I really like your intro." I still don't like it.
Midday was long past before they started out, but the three travelers were eager to get to their destination and decided against delaying their departure. Haldan threw the satchel containing his clothing into the odd-looking vehicle they would use on their journey, stuffing the bag unceremoniously under the driver's bench. He again [?] eyed the vehicle suspiciously. Haldan had not been told very much about the trip--only that he was to accompany two women to their home kingdom in the mountains to the north. As excited as he was to go to the mountains for the first time, the sight of the vehicle they were using to get there dismayed him somewhat. [Comments: "You repeat 'vehicle' a lot it seems a little out of place, you might try to find a different way of describing." "Describe the vehicle. What is odd about it?" "Describe the vehicle more." Okay, okay, I get the hint.]
"Hello," came a woman's voice behind him. Haldan jumped slightly and turned to face the speaker.
"I'm Alaren," she informed him.
"I'm Haldan," he replied, and extended his hand in greeting. He hoped he was hiding his disappointment--Alaren looked nothing like the descriptions of the legendary mountain people. Like Haldan, Alaren had fair skin, light grey eyes and light blond hair. She stood a hand span [I like the detail here how they measure] shorter than Haldan and was wearing the traditional brown and green dress of the Valley Forest. Even Alaren's hair was styled the same way women of the Valley Forest styled their hair--the front portion of it bound back in braids twined together at the back of the head, and the back portion of their hair hanging loose below the braids.
"Do you live in the Valley Forest?" he finally asked.
Alaren had already begun checking the horses' lashings. "Oh, no, Master Haldan, I live in the mountains," she called over her shoulder. Haldan frowned as he leaned back into the vehicle to carefully place his weapons with his other things. If everyone from the mountains looked just like everyone from the Valley Forest, it would be a terribly disappointing trip.
"You're bringing weapons?" Alaren asked. She had climbed onto the driver's seat and was looking over the back of the seat, watching Haldan load his things.
"Yes," he said. "Bow, quiver and knife." [I think most people would assume that you have a quiver if you have a bow. Right. I think I'm going to take it out of the dialogue and stick it in narration.]
Alaren shook her head. "I think that's just silly. There's no need for those kind of weapons in the Valley Forest or in the mountains."
Haldan silently wondered how often Alaren made this trip, but decided it would be best not to voice his doubts about her. "What kind of vehicle is this?" he asked instead.
"Well, it should be a sleigh," she said, stepping down from the driver's seat, "but it looks like they've put wheels on it to travel on the forest roads." She paused to touch one of the wheels. "Looks ugly like this, if you ask me." ["random comment, like true to life situation" "like that :)" Glad you approve.]
Haldan nodded in agreement. His ears suddenly perked up as he heard footsteps approaching. He turned around to watch the doorway for the third member of their traveling party. After a few minutes, a second woman appeared in the doorway. This time, Haldan was not disappointed.
The second woman, like Alaren, was dressed in the green and brown dress of the Valley Forest, and had her hair styled in the same way. Like both of her traveling companions, the second woman had fair skin and light grey eyes--but her hair was a deep, dark red. [Do only Surils [sic] have red hair?] Haldan's eyes widened at the sight--a real Suril! And just like the legends said, this Suril woman was one of the most beautiful women Haldan had ever seen.
"Are we ready, Alaren?" asked the Suril woman. Haldan searched for some unusual quality in her voice--it was there, but he couldn't quite identify it.
"Absolutely," Alaren replied cheerily. The Suril woman handed Alaren a satchel and stepped into the sleigh-turned-carriage. Alaren continued speaking, "Master Haldan seems to think that we'll be needing protection--he brought along his weapons." She placed the satchel under the driver's seat next to the weapons as she mentioned them.
"Well," said the Suril woman, "let's hope he doesn't plan to use them."
"Let's hope I don't have to," Haldan replied as he stepped into their vehicle.
The Suril woman nodded wisely as Alaren stepped into the vehicle and took her place at the reins. [same, maybe change one k]
"Are we off, then?" Alaren asked.
The Suril woman turned to Haldan. "Do you have everything--warm clothing?" [Nice voice--fits the "valley forest people" Sadly, she's NOT one of them.]
He nodded. [Twice back to back]
"Good," the woman nodded. "There's snow in the mountains. Rushith," she said to Alaren. The last word meant nothing to Haldan, but Alaren seemed to understand, and they set off.
The evergreen forest was less than one league deep, and soon the road opened up to the snow-covered mountainside. As they climbed above the heights of the trees behind them, Haldan looked back. In the waning [nice] evening light, far in the distance, he could just make out the trees that surrounded his father's palace.
They soon reached the Ihhazel [Trippy name (tongue-twisting) & slows reading) Shut. Up.] palace, but Avelath's sleigh was nowhere in sight. Haldan wondered when he would see her again--he longed for anything familiar, [maybe "familiar; he"] since he felt very much out of place. He realized he was the only person in sight wearing dark green--the Surilt were clothed in very pale grey or white. At his home in the forest, grey-clothed people would be very conspicuous, but even the white-clad palace guards seemed to blend in well with the white of the palace walls and the snowy terrain. [his home or their palace? Hm . . . try thinking.]
The palace of Ihhazel's queen was, in Haldan's opinion, magnificent. Perfectly smooth white towers stretched skyward. Tall, brightly lit windows with etched designs formed most of the walls between the towers. Ethereal light glowed from within--not the yellow light of a flame, but a pure white light that glowed with amazing clarity in the dim twilight. Even the plaster of the walls seemed to glow and sparkle with some inner light. The entire palace looked as though it belonged in some sort of heavenly kingdom--or, as Haldan suddenly realized, just where it was, [phrase seems a little out of place Your comment is a little out of place] on top of the highest mountain in the Mountains of the Moon. [Sis Card: "makes it really heaven. The description is good. on the last sentence GOOD." "'Mountains' repeated . . . maybe the highest crest or hill?" Peak.]
"Come," Naren said, bidding Haldan to step out of the sleigh. "Ith is nearly nighth, and you have much tho do before you see the queen."
Avelath came into the gardens without a sound. Haldan had planned to observe her from his tree-perch, but his plan hadn't taken into account his reaction to seeing her. She was a vision-- [Several comments here. "Would be more affective [sic] if made a short sent. (But it's beautiful!)" "seems unnecessary the next part describes that she was pretty" Alright. It's okay if you don't understand the effect. You. Are. Dumb.]
if the Moon [?] herself walked through that winter garden, she could not have looked more beautiful. Avelath's dress was the color of pale yellow moonlight, decorated with beads, clear gemstones, and everything delicate, glittery, and luminescent--and trimmed in bright silver. She seemed strangely exposed, even though the dress swirled around her feet on the snow and the fine silver collar reached to her chin. It was her arms--they were clearly visible through the long, lacy sleeves. And her hair--in the courts of Tarea, it would be improper for him to see Avelath with her hair down as it was then. Haldan felt as though he should look away, but he couldn't. It was as if the garden had suddenly grown dark, and Avelath was the only source of light. [Nice paragraph]
"Haldan?" she said in a low whisper. "I don't want to play games. Please just come down." She didn't even look to find him, but settled into one of the silvery chairs to wait for him, removing her delicate circlet with the crescent moon [?] insignia to hold it in one hand.
"I'm here," Haldan replied, trying to preserve the hush of the garden. She did not turn around.
"Please," she said wearily. "We have a long night planned--and lots of celebrating. Just come talk to me." [?, This makes it sound like she called for him not the other way around.]
Haldan lighted from the tree and gingerly tread over the snow. Avelath made no move to look at him until he was standing beside her. She rose from her chair and offered him a snow-cloak. "I thought you might be cold," she said.
"Thank you," he said as he accepted the cloak and threw it around his shoulders. "Surely you're also . . ." His voice trailed off as he motioned to her visible arms. ["This is resolved very fast" "This seems a little out of place/stilted, hard to see how it fits . . ." Sorry that you. Are. Dumb.]
"Haldan, why did you want to talk to me?"
Distrust flashed in his eyes. "You didn't tell me the truth."
"I beg your pardon!" she exclaimed in a whisper.
"You didn't tell me who you were."
"I told you once we were underway! I apologized!" she continued in a hushed tone.
"No, Avelath, not your name. You didn't tell me you were the queen of Ihhazel."
"Haldan, you didn't come all this way thinking I wasn't . . . did you? Didn't your father tell you?"
Haldan shook his head. "He also didn't tell me that we were . . ."
"We were . . . ?"
"Wha-what?" she exclaimed, shattering the almost-sacred hush over the garden.
"Naren told me he was glad to learn of our betrothal." [explain what in the world this word means definition: "engaged, you freaking idiot."]
"Oh," she sighed with relief, "Naren only wishes we were betrothed. He wants me married as quickly as possible. He probably jumped to conclusions."
"And you . . . ?"
"Oh, I mean you no offense, Haldan, but I don't have the slightest intention of marrying any time soon. Perhaps in a few years." She smiled. "Does this clear up all your concerns?"
Haldan smiled slightly and nodded. "Thank you for answering my questions."
Avelath's smile faded and her gaze fell. "Will you join me in mourning Alaren?"
"Of course," he said gently. "What do I do?"
"Just follow my lead." Avelath knelt upon the snow and tilted her head back to the moon. Light seemed to gather around her as thickly as mist, ensconcing the more distant reaches of the garden in shadow. In hallowed silence, Avelath picked up a dark red bag setting beside her. She opened the bag and pulled out thin strips of rich, heavy material of the same color as the bag. Following her lead as she'd instructed him, Haldan tied one strip around each of his elbows, letting the ends hang loose. She gave him a wider strip of the red material. At one end was embroidered in silver thread Ihhesumil characters spelling out Alaren's name. Avelath wrapped this strip around her waist as a sash, although her dress had no sewn waist. The silver runes shone brightly as she rose to her feet. Haldan tied the sash over his belt and quickly stood.
"You're done," she informed him as he stood. "I have a little more to do." She retrieved her circlet from the chair where she left it and carefully placed it on her head. Haldan turned his back to her, suddenly aware of the impropriety of the situation again.
"Haldan?" she asked. "What's wrong?"
"In Tarea, it would . . . not be appropriate for me to see you with your hair down," he said. "I guess the restraints are . . . different here."
"Hm," was all that Avelath said. "Well, you may turn around now. I'm done."
Haldan glanced over his shoulder at her. In her hair, dark red ribbons were woven into several braids which twined around the back of her circlet. In her hands, she held the dark red bag which had held the mourning bands.
["Not a fashion person so maybe I have no idea, but do you need a sewn waist if you wear a sash or seems like w/o one would be more appropriate." Hm . . . valid point . . . ."This part is a little confusing. What exactly is she doing?"--this comment starts w/ "just follow my lead" I really value the opinion of the guy who wrote this. What do you think?]
Avelath looked rather bemused, a wry smile playing across her lips. "Your modesty is . . . charming," she said, smiling more broadly, "but you might find it inconvenient someday." After depositing the bag on a chair, Avelath started toward the gates of the garden. "Come on, Haldan," she said, managing to sound both appropriately somber and happy at the same time. "We'll feast in your honor."
That night Haldan remembered with amazing clarity--a very clear blur. [Comments here: Sis Card: "Good wording" "Maybe a comma here" not a -- "contradiction" You're observant]
Whether it was because of too much wine, too much excitement or too little rest, he never figured out. Whenever he tried to recall the feast in his honor, he could recall mostly sitting next to Avelath and enjoying the food very much, along with a few scattered images of what a few of the courses [You might add some description of the food Yeah, but why?] looked like. After the feast came a few images of some sort of ball or dance--he seemed to remember politely declining Avelath's invitation to dance, and the next image that came to mind was Avelath teaching him one of Ihhazel's favorite dances. From what he could recollect, Haldan thought he had enjoyed the dancing, the feast and the entire night. Most of the rest of the evening was slurred together in his memory, flashes of white and grey, smiles and laughter, music and dance, and a delicate circlet, fashioned of bright silver, with the crescent moon [?] insignia of Ihhazel-- [;] and, finally, retiring to his chambers some time after the sun rose. [very long You're observant] Before falling asleep, the last thought that crossed his mind was that it had been a long day and two nights since he'd last slept.
[on dance: "maybe use another word . . ." Like what? Flail?]