I’m terribly sorry I’m posting the redlines at this time. I had exams week and was busy studying/drinking coffee and it seems the critiques slipped my mind completely. I remembered about them earlier today, after finally waking up. Better late than never, so here they are. Also, thank you for the redline on my fragment :)
“Raeb,” Saydee said, “I thought you wanted to find the Bok’Tarong.”
“I do,” he replied.
“Then why are we going south when the frontlines are in the west?”
“I’m not stupid, Raeb. I recognize stalling when I see it. Why are you avoiding this?”
“I don’t want to get myself killed.”
She hadn’t bothered with her glamour, and she gazed at him with Hntaña eyes. “It’s more than that, isn’t it? There’s some other reason why you don’t want to face the Bok’Tarong.”
Raeb growled and stepped around her. He didn’t look back as he continued walking.
He stomped along the path. She was right, of course. He was stalling. There were more reasons for him not wanting to face the Bok’Tarong than she could imagine. Sometimes it seemed like his entire life revolved around that damn blade. It had always been a curse on his life. And now she expected him to waltz straight into the danger – which she only understood a tiny bit of – with some sort of bravado? Well, she wasn’t gonna get that. Not from him. (Might be my mind’s a bit foggy here, but wasn’t their plan to het the Bok’Tarong to get rid of the Hntaña? I remember Raeb being somewhat determined to get it, so having him stall does make it seem contradictory. On the other hand, it does reveal a nice bunch about Raeb’s character.)
He turned to say some of this to her when he froze mid-step. Saydee hadn’t been following him. She still stood in the road, trembling and sweating. Raeb raced back to her just as her eyes widened and she stopped breathing entirely. Then she crumpled to the ground.
The Hntaña were attacking.
Raeb knelt by her side and grasped her hand. “Saydee!”
Her chestnut hair grew dark as it was drenched in sweat. “They’re coming,” she whispered.
Fear clenched at Raeb’s heart. “You have to hide.” (Maybe you could clarify what he’s afraid of, since we know he has some sort of ‘dealings’ with the Hntaña along with his personal agenda, this feels a bit loose. Why does he suddenly react like this?)
The haunted woman was hyperventilating. She thrashed as if fending off invisible enemies.
Her eyes darted back and forth behind her eyelids. Her expression was twisted with panic and genuine terror. Several minutes passed as her mind searched for a place to hide from the Hntaña.
Suddenly, her breathing returned to normal. He didn’t know if she had escaped or if the Hntaña had caught her. All Raeb could do was wait.
He reached his fingers toward her eyelids, but changed his mind. He didn’t want to know if Saydee had full Hntaña eyes. (This bit here seems to move too fast. I hadn’t fully assimilated the assault when it was over, and I didn’t get much information from it. How do they attack? Why Saydee and not Raeb too? You could slow down the pace and explain a bit more about the Hntaña here, which would work wonders.)
Night fell, and Raeb still waited. Saydee lay next to him, her sleep only occasionally interrupted by nightmares. Raeb’s Hntaña eyes stared at the small fire he’d built, but his mind was far, far away.(I like that you keep reminding us about the eyes, but I don’t know what they look like)
Saydee stirred next to him, and he placed his hand on her shoulder. She immediately calmed.
He watched the young woman for many minutes. He knew that she’d figured out his delays were not legitimate. He was stalling, and they both knew it.
What surprised him was that he’d found himself stalling for yet another reason. No, he did not want to face the Bok’Tarong. But when it came down to it, he would if it meant he might win his freedom. (Seems weird he’d wait until the night to take a moment to analyse things. You could say he spent time building a camp or scouting the surroundings to make sure it’s safe, which would also give more detail to the scene itself and justify why he has this moment of introspection at night.)
He looked down at Saydee. He was stalling for his sake, but he realized that he’d also been stalling for hers. She’d placed her life in his hands, and chasing after the Bok’Tarong was a good way to ensure the trust that showed was misplaced. She was far too young to face death at the hands of the sacred warrior. Raeb couldn’t risk having her death on his conscience. If he dug deeply enough, he was still wounded from failing his last partner. He couldn’t handle being responsible for another death. (While this paragraph does give some nice, easy-to-follow backstory, Raeb has lived for too long. One could think that he’d somehow find a way to, at least, ignore those feelings of loss and regret after all the things he must have been put through in the past. Also, it seems they’re getting close to one another, but I don’t believe Raeb has been given a real motive to start caring for Saydee –considering he didn’t even want her with him in the first place. What makes her so special in Raeb’s eyes?)
It was a good reason. That was his justification. He couldn’t put her life at risk. Even though she’d come with him willingly, knowing the danger, he had to protect her. It was for her sake.
He told himself that, but he knew it was just another reason for him to avoid the Bok’Tarong.
Saydee woke from the nightmare with a gasp, shivering and drenched in sweat. Tears streamed from her part-Hntaña, part human eyes. Raeb wasted no time in wrapping her in a blanket and then his arms. She bundled into both gratefully and wept.
She felt so small in his arms. She was so young.
Raeb understood. She wasn’t safe anywhere. Her life was already at risk without confronting the Bok’Tarong.
He might not have anything to lose in death, but she and countless others did. He couldn’t just think of himself anymore.
“This has to end,” he whispered. “No more stalling. We have to let the Bok’Tarong find us.”