Far Horizons: The Rainbow Throne - Opening Scene (1,284 words)

Flaviosky

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Hello Everyone,

First of all, I wanted to thank you all for making this space such a rich and active place, because almost every topic or response has something interesting to learn from. I'm pretty new in the forum and I must admit that I've found much more than I was expecting to find, specially when even the forum format seems so outdated against all the rest of the social media present right now.

This is the opening scene of what I've been working for quite a while now. The original synopsis was written 15 years ago and has gone through many changes as I've grown older and seen other things to draw ideas from, including material about writing techniques.

I expect it to be bad, so thanks in advance for the feedback. I'd love to know if you'd read further to know how the story goes,

______________________________________________________________________

Footsteps resonate hurrying down the corridor of the shadowed royal palace, running through the hallway with a retinue of the Royal Guard. Destination: The throne hall, looking for the king Albert Valdénne, whom they find in the big oval hall in the company of the queen Irene Bordeaux and a small entourage that moves anxiously all around the place.

The king is intrigued and visibly stressed, as his short and fat body walks around the hall in close circles with his face reddish and his hair white, looking down with the hands on his back, doing his usual anxious yet useless thinking. The queen does not behave much differently, but her old eyes still remain sharp despite her age.

"Albert, just deter yourself from moving that much! What may be the reason for such turmoil?" the queen says, feeling anxious and confused. The useless march of his husband stresses her.

"My king, my queen! Please, you must come with me at once!" a female guard says, just arriving at the hall.

"Natalie! What are you saying, my dear?!" the queen responds. Her complexion is even more tense than it always is.

"My queen, Daniel Heart-Eguisse, he’s with soldiers approaching the palace! We must stick to the protocols and leave the palace immediately!" Natalie says, still catching her breath, as her slim but fit body hasn’t been tested this way yet.

"The Scarlet Order again?! How outrageous! The agreement has already been signed!" the queen says, infuriated.

"Don’t worry Irene, I’ll meddle with Daniel personally in his headquarters..." the king says, not quite convinced.

"Are you out of your mind, Albert? Let’s deal with him here and now. They’ve never had the audacity to come here without advance notice!" the queen responds, sharply as usual.

"I just cannot accept more tantrums from this General!" the king is annoyed and his face turns even more reddish.

"Just let’s gather more guards in here so Daniel won’t be tempted of doing something stupid." the queen replies, trying to do something useful.

"My queen, if you’re considering that Daniel might recur to violence, it’s imperative to take refuge at once. It’s for your own safety." Natalie says firmly, with her bold eyebrows frowned and her pink eyes sharp as always.

"Don’t worry, my dear Natalie. It’s just for dissuasive purposes. Neither of us would want a civil war to trigger today. Better stay with Diane." Queen Irene says in a motherly way.

More footsteps echo. rushing from inside the hallway into the hall. More guards enter the scene, led by the head of the Royal Guard, Sophie Navallet. She’s tense, her brown wolf ears tall, picking every step she hears, her brown wolf tail crisped as the cool shivers of uncertainty fill her short yet curvy body. She’s the most trusted of the miasmon race in the kingdom, and among them, probably the best demi-wolf in combat. The queen’s face turns white after seeing the recognizable orange wavy hair of her daughter; the princess seconds Sophie in their arrival.

"Diane! What are you doing here! It’s too dangerous!" the queen yells, anxious.

"Mother! I ought to confirm by myself the rumors about the Scarlet Order marching towards the palace." the princess responds with determination coming from her intense blue eyes.

"I’m afraid It's entirely true, that’s why you must leave! Natalie, please take her away!" the queen commands, stressed. She must protect the best heir to the throne.

"I won’t stand aside in these dire moments, father. I trust this is just another misunderstanding." the princess says. She’s determined to stay, as her lush pale face gets tenser.

"We all hope so, darling." the king says with more hope than he really has.

"Where are Arthur and Marjolie, mother? Are they safe?" Diane asks

"Your sister is at her residence, taking shelter. Your brother is nowhere to be found, but you know how he is." the queen replies, trying to cling to a naive sense of hope.

A thunderous noise gradually fills the air, coming from hundred steps in synchrony, made louder by every second until becoming almost deafening, to halt dead just outside the main gates at the end of the hall.

The rapid heartbeat of the princess can be heard for a second. Screeeeeeech!

A loud slash cuts through the gates from ceiling to floor, shattering the inner bars locking the entrance. That curved and thin blade can only belong to one man: Daniel Heart-Eguisse, with his army after him. His icy eyes fixed at the throne, his short dark orange hair seems more reddish than usual, but his tone is way warmer than his gaze.

"Your majesty, I must apologize. The Scarlet Order will cover this unfortunate wreckage, but I shall be your guest for a while, for urgent matters." the general says kindly, his fine black and burgundy coat dances as he steps in.

"What is the meaning of this, General?! This is unheard of in this kingdom! Sword in hand forcing your way into the palace!" Diane yells, willing to face Daniel alone.

"My princess, please don’t act rashly!" Natalie steps forward to stop her, feeling nervous.

"I’ll take care of this!" King Albert says, walking forward in a sudden.

The king nervously approaches Daniel. Queen Irene, Natalie, Sophie, Diane and the guards move swiftly to catch this sudden and clumsy act of diplomacy.

"I’m afraid that my presence before you would not be necessary if you honored our agreement, your majesty…" Daniel says with confidence.

"You are exceeding your attributions by a large margin, General! This is absolutely barbaric and unnecessary." the queen yells, trying to inspire authority.

"And you are exceedingly failing in your attributions, your majesty. Our people need its rulers!" Daniel says. His expression is not as warm as minutes ago, his thin frowned brows make his gaze even more piercing.

"We already had this parliament, General! The agreement will be taken into action in no time, so please deter yourself for this imprudent behavior!" the queen sure knows how to impose herself.

"The negotiations with Algalord and Weignard should have taken place weeks ago! Those islands are not worth the hunger of our people!" Daniel yells, talking louder every time he speaks.

"I was hoping for some rain to arrive at last, General! We could not resign sovereignty if we could manage to wait a bit more!" the king says, with a mildly trembling voice.

"There is no sovereignty in famine, King! Enough with naivety and bureaucracy…" Daniel yells, but his tone shifts suddenly, to soft coldness.

"You know this is temporal, General, now make your leave at once!" the king yells, with all the bravery he could manage to gather.

A golden aura embraces Daniel, his hair and clothes shine with his spirit magic. He steps forward at almost lightspeed, standing before King Albert, shocked, unable to breathe as the general needs almost no strength to painfully squeeze his throat.

"Indeed, everything is temporal…" Daniel whispers, with silent amusement.

An aura detaches off the king’s body and gets absorbed by Daniel, leaving the king pale, lifeless. Pale as well, the queen screams in horror. Guards fire their crossbows, Daniel smiles, dodging one bolt, slicing the other. More guards attack the general, their moves look childish, his moves do not. His aura shines further, the guard’s armor gets slashed like butter. He’s faster than the blood that spills out of the five bodies falling to the ground.

"Take my heirs out of here, now!" The queen cries, trying to avoid a massacre.
 

DanielOwen

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Hi. So apologies if this is an insulting question, but is English your first language? Your prose reads in places as if it's not (not that your English is bad, just that there are some quirks here and there). Either way, I think the biggest problem you have is that you're trying too hard to sound literary. Ease back with the prose; sometimes writers push too hard to sound 'bookish' and it makes the writing stiff and awkward. Writing is a bit like dancing sometimes - if you relax into it, it seems more natural and flows better.

I didn't even make it to the end of your excerpt, to be honest, so I definitely wouldn't read on as it stands. I read the first bit and skimmed the rest, and you obviously have some ideas in here. The expression needs a lot of work to make them accessible, though. I would suggest that you start fresh and rewrite from the top; don't worry about sounding like a writer or styling things up, just write how it is. You can always fluff it up later.

I'll do a detailed crit of the first section so you can see what I'm talking about. My comments in bold.

Footsteps resonate hurrying down the corridor of the shadowed royal palace, running through the hallway with a retinue of the Royal Guard. [Footsteps don't run or hurry, people do, and this reads as though the royal guard are running alongside their own footsteps, which is immediately strange. You don't need to use 'resonate'; 'echo is fine and much easier.] Destination: [This is a strange bit of narration and immediately jumps me out of the fantasy genre.] The throne hall, looking for the king Albert Valdénne, whom they ['They' here is still the footsteps? The footsteps find the king?] find in the big oval hall [You can move the description back to where the throne hall is first mentioned; also 'throne hall' is strange, 'throne room' is more common parlance. If you want the throne room to have a different name than 'throne room', give it a totally different name like 'Hall of Kings' or whatever.] in the company of the queen Irene Bordeaux and a small entourage that moves anxiously all around the place. [It is unclear who is moving all around what place, and this gives the image of a group of courtiers just wandering nervously in loops around the room for no reason.]

The king is intrigued [intrigued? Nothing you say in description suggests he is intrigued.] and visibly stressed, as his short and fat body walks around the hall in close circles [now the King is moving in circles too, but smaller circles - this is a very strange image of lots of people moving in a big room with no discernible purpose] with his face reddish and his hair white, looking down with the hands on his back [his hands are on his back? If you mean his hands are clasped behind his back, say that; this reads as though his hands are actually on his own back], doing his usual anxious yet useless thinking [who is the narrator here? How do we know what the King is thinking? If we can see into the King's thoughts, show us those thoughts and give us an insight into his character, don't just tell us he is thinking anxiously]. The queen does not behave much differently, but her old eyes still remain sharp despite her age. [Why can we see into the King's mind but not the Queen's?]

"Albert, just deter yourself from moving that much! What may be the reason for such turmoil?" [Nobody talks like this, especially not a couple who are married to each other. It seems like you're trying to make the dialogue formal, but it just comes out as weird.] the queen says, feeling anxious and confused. The useless march of his [her] husband stresses her. [Now we know what she is thinking but we didn't before? Why is she confused? Anxious, fine, but what is she confused about?]

"My king, my queen! Please, you must come with me at once!" a female guard says, just arriving at the hall. [Why have none of the other Royal Guard who have already arrived said or done anything? Who is this woman, and why is her femaleness relevant? Is being female unusual in the Royal Guard?]

"Natalie! What are you saying, my dear?!" the queen responds. [Why does the Queen address a Royal Guard as "my dear"? Please tell me it's not becasuse she's a woman; that's insanely patronising. If Natalie is in the Royal Guard, presumably she's a competent soldier.] Her complexion is even more tense than it always is. [Complexions don't get tense, so this is strange description.]

"My queen, Daniel Heart-Eguisse, [unless Daniel is the Queen, this is very strange phrasing, and even then it's a strange way to address someone] he’s with soldiers approaching the palace! We must stick to the protocols and leave the palace immediately!" [Presumably the King and Queen know the protocols; they don't need to be reminded that leaving the palace is protocol - also, why is it protocol? Palaces are often pretty defensible, and there is a bunch of Royal Guard already in the room.] Natalie says, still catching her breath, as her slim but fit body hasn’t been tested this way yet. [Natalie is a Royal Guard and she's never been for a run before?]

"The Scarlet Order again?! [Again? This isn't the first time? And yet they're surprised?] How outrageous! The agreement has already been signed!" the queen says, infuriated.

"Don’t worry Irene, I’ll meddle with Daniel personally in his headquarters..." [This is a very strange sentence - why would the King personally do anything? He's the King. Also, 'meddle with' is a really odd thing to say you're going to do to someone.] the king says, not quite convinced. [For a King, this man has zero conviction or confidence; I'm not surprised someone's trying to overthrow him.]

"Are you out of your mind, Albert? Let’s deal with him here and now. [That's apparently not protocol, so it would be weirder if they did deal with him here and now, right?] They’ve never had the audacity to come here without advance notice!" [The last thing the Queen said was "The Scarlet Order again?" - have they done this before or not? I can't tell.] the queen responds, sharply as usual. [She was anxious and confused before and possibly wandering around the place, now she's sharp. Seems inconsistent.]

"I just cannot accept more tantrums from this General!" [Tantrum? He's on his way with troops! That's not a tantrum; that's treason!] the king is annoyed and his face turns even more reddish. [Avoid using 'ish'; it's weak. If you mean his face turned red, or scarlet, or crimson, say it.]

"Just let’s gather more guards in here so Daniel won’t be tempted of doing ['tempted to do'] something stupid." the queen replies, trying to do something useful. [What happened to protocol? I don't understand what these people are doing at all, or what is happening. What happened to the Royal Guard who arrived at the beginning? Are they forming up? Hanging around? Securing the place? Why does the Queen make weak suggestions instead of giving orders - she's a Queen! Given that there is a (rebel?) General advancing on the palace with soldiers, nobody seems worried about the ongoing insurrection except Natalie, and I have no idea what her role is in all of this.]

This is as far as I got reading it. My major suggestion would be to pick a point of view. Whose eyes are we seeing this scene through? We currently have a strange narrator who seems to know what some characters are thinking some of the time but not others and doesn't really show us any detail of the scene. Everyone acts and speaks very strangely, which makes it really hard to read.

I would suggest maybe you try Natalie's perspective on it. Write as though you're in her head. She is a Royal Guard who wants to evacuate the King and Queen from the palace, but is overridden because they don't think the rebel General will risk civil war. They are wrong, she is right, and the consequences are dire. Show us what Natalie sees and feels, everything from her insistence on protocol being rejected to the bloodbath of a supernaturally powerful General who has just murdered a King and goes on to slaughter Royal Guard like they're nothing. If you write the scene like that and don't like it, you can always rewrite from another perspective. Maybe Natalie is the one who has to try to escape with the Royal heirs? That would be a great character to have as a point of view; really gets the reader into the heart of the story.

Good luck with it and keep writing!
 

alexvss

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I'd like to comment about the, uh, comments that you do in the dialogue tags. You're always explaining how the character talked something...after they said it. Here are some examples:

"the queen yells, anxious"; "the king says, not quite convinced"; "the queen says, infuriated."

The problem I had is that these are already implied by the dialogue itself and obvious to the reader, especially when you use exclamation marks. One thing you could do is place the dialogue tag before the actual dialogue so the text will read as you want it to be read. It's okay if you do it once in a while--it's a tool--, but don't overuse it too much. Brandon Sanderson commented that on one of his classes: "J.K. Rowling does that, and she's the bestselling author of all times".

Keep fighting the good fight.

 

Flaviosky

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This is as far as I got reading it. My major suggestion would be to pick a point of view. Whose eyes are we seeing this scene through? We currently have a strange narrator who seems to know what some characters are thinking some of the time but not others and doesn't really show us any detail of the scene
Thanks! I may have a structural problem with the narrator, and that's quite an issue. Maybe I should just wite down each character's thoughts instead of having the narrator saying what the thought is, although I don't want to put EVERYONE'S thought into a scene, that would make it heavy and slow. How can I do the picking and yet be consistent?

I'd like to comment about the, uh, comments that you do in the dialogue tags. You're always explaining how the character talked something...after they said it.
This seems like another structural problem. Again, there's a lot of nuanced dialogue, sarcasrm, irony and saying things without meaning them. How can I express those moments just when necessary and still be consistent?

Again, thanks for the feedback
 

DanielOwen

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How can I do the picking and yet be consistent?

Who is the narrator? Even an omniscient narrator is a character in a story - they select what goes in and what is left out; you need to know who that person is so you know what they think is important and what they choose to show and not to show to the reader. If the narrator is simply you, the writer, then you need to decide what is important enough to be worth spending precious words on it. You can also fold thoughts into actions to make it both shorter and clearer, for example:

The king is intrigued and visibly stressed, as his short and fat body walks around the hall in close circles with his face reddish and his hair white, looking down with the hands on his back, doing his usual anxious yet useless thinking.

could be something like:
The short, chubby King paces round and round, head down and red-faced, hands clasped behind him, his mind treading the same useless circles as his feet.

there's a lot of nuanced dialogue, sarcasrm, irony and saying things without meaning them. How can I express those moments just when necessary

Description. Instead of telling the audience directly what the character is thinking, describe the character's manner, tone, expression, etc. Let the reader see the scene and draw their own conclusions. So, for example:

"Indeed, everything is temporal…" Daniel whispers, with silent amusement.

could become:
Daniel's lips twist in a wry smile and he arches one eyebrow. "Indeed," he whispers, "everything is temporal."
 

AllanR

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I also found it hard to get to the end for similar reasons as DanielOwen.

Footsteps resonate hurrying down the corridor of the shadowed royal palace, running through the hallway with a retinue of the Royal Guard.
-disembodied footsteps
-shadowed by what and to what effect? why is it important to have in the first line, also royal and palace are somewhat redundant.
-while royal guard can be capitalized it is such a generic term that marking it important pushes me away
(Hurrying down the corridor of the palace, the pounding footsteps of the royal guard resonate throughout the building.)

Destination: The throne hall, looking for the king Albert Valdénne, whom they find in the big oval hall in the company of the queen Irene Bordeaux and a small entourage that moves anxiously all around the place.
-no capitalization after a colon.
-throne hall is awkward, and unsure if oval hall and throne room are the same place.
-full names (family) of the king and queen takes me to a non traditional European monarchy. With separate family names I am also at a loss of their relation to one another. Full names this early in the story is also distracting and could be quickly glossed over and forgot. Also, as stands I think the titles should be capitalized as they have the name attached.
-the the before the king and queen could be dropped, or if kept the names could be dropped.
-the sentence structure here is awkward. Perhaps separate out the entourage to a new sentence or by a semi-colon.
(Their destination: the throne room. Here they find the ones whom they were looking for, the King and Queen with their fidgety entourage.)

The king is intrigued and visibly stressed, as his short and fat body walks around the hall in close circles with his face reddish and his hair white, looking down with the hands on his back, doing his usual anxious yet useless thinking.
--I do this a lot, show and tell the same thing.
(DanielOwen's suggestion here is excellent --The short, chubby King paces round and round, head down and red-faced, hands clasped behind him, his mind treading the same useless circles as his feet.)

The queen does not behave much differently, but her old eyes still remain sharp despite her age.
-does not could be doesn't, when to contract and when not to is really a style choice though.
-much could be dropped, still could be dropped
-what does her eyesight have to do with anything at this point?
-if she doesn't behave differently, shouldn't she be pacing about?
(The Queen, anxious as well, scans all the entrances, her old eyes remain sharp despite her age.)

"Albert, just deter yourself from moving that much! What may be the reason for such turmoil?" the queen says, feeling anxious and confused. The useless march of his husband stresses her.
--The feeling anxious and confused seems redundant. It comes already in the dialogue.
--I like from the first line the Queen has a voice that feels distinct.

Keep it up and let our critiques encourage!
 

Flaviosky

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Keep it up and let our critiques encourage!
They encourage a lot! Come on, I'm a rookie here, you're the guys who know the stuff. I trust in the story I have laid out, but the ability to put it the right way is a whole different issue.

Thanks!
 

Flaviosky

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@DanielOwen @alexvss @AllanR Here's a 320 words follow-up to see if I'm getting it right. I'd feel much appreciated for more feedback.

Thanks a lot for your help

______________________________________________________________________

The echo from her agitated breathing and her frantic running down the corridor of the shadowed royal palace doesn’t distract her at all. “He’s coming, he’s really coming” is all what she thinks. Her brown wolf ears sense every whisper, every move, including fellow guards that run beside her, waiting for her command as they enter The Hall Royale. The Queen, the King, looking at each other, more guards arrive to hold position, ready to fulfill their duty to protect the Valdenne dynasty.

“Commander Navallet! The hall is secured!” a guard yells before joining the rest of her subordinates, in formation around the Queen.

The short, chubby King paces round and round, head down and red-faced, hands clasped behind him, his mind knitting inside his head the same way as his feet on the fine yet dusty tiles while he chews air as if it was gum.

“Albert, just stop moving that much! We’ll deal with him here! Guards have secured the area!” the queen yells anxiously.

“My king, my queen! It’s time to go!” the commander of the guard stands tall.

The King’s chin trembles, his tongue dried by anxiety “Don’t worry Irene, I’ll...I’ll greet Daniel myself, this is absurd…” he says.

“Are you out of your mind, Albert? Let’s deal with him together!. After all our councils and meetings, they’ve never had the audacity to come here without advance notice!” the Queen responds, sharply as usual.

“I just cannot accept more tantrums from this General!” the king’s face turns even more red.

“It’s not a tantrum if he has the whole army behind him! Where is the rest of the Royal Guard?!” a woman’s voice echoes, loud and strong

Her steps aren’t rushed, but slow and firm, with her fine armored boots filling the silence as she walks to meet the commander, the King and the Queen, whose face turns white after seeing the recognizable orange wavy hair of her daughter, entering the hall.
 

AllanR

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night and day.
A much better flow. I could read through this version without any stop to wonder what's going on. Anything I say here is just nitpicking...

-I still don't know the why or the what of the shadowed.
-brown wolf ears makes me think she is a wolf. wolf-like would make me think a fantasy character.
-feels like there need a verb or some transition in -The Queen, the King, looking at each other, more guards arrive to hold position,- maybe --The Queen, the King, looking at each other with fear as more...
-the dialogue attribute doesn't work for me in “My king, my queen! It’s time to go!” the commander of the guard stands tall (as he addressees his Lords, or as is yet make it two sentances)
-sharply could be sharp, it feels stronger to me. The Queen responds, sharp as usual.
-Royal Guard irked me as capitalized in the first draft, not here though. Probably because it was a bit of the way down? though since it the princess(?) talking maybe change the to our (our Royal Guard)
- Is this the same character as the person with wolf ears? I think so since there is a dangling character out there (introduced in first sentence then lost) if so she changed her demeanour a full circle (agitated breathing -frantic running to slow and firm and her voice doesn't show sign that she'd been running.
-last sentence, seems strange there is silence among all the noise. I'm not sure if the commander is the King and Queen or someone else. A comma after King would help separate into three distinct entities (the Oxford comma). If it is three people, do all their faces turn white?
-her implies it is just the Queen's daughter and not the Kings. their includes the commander, maybe separate the commander more strongly from the K+Q.
 

Flaviosky

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A much better flow. I could read through this version without any stop to wonder what's going on. Anything I say here is just nitpicking...

-I still don't know the why or the what of the shadowed. I'm trying to show that the place is slightly deteriorated, but I don't want to spend much words on it
-brown wolf ears makes me think she is a wolf. wolf-like would make me think a fantasy character. Indeed, but again, I wanna be clear but subtle
-feels like there need a verb or some transition in -The Queen, the King, looking at each other, more guards arrive to hold position,- maybe --The Queen, the King, looking at each other with fear as more... Thanks, added some of it
-the dialogue attribute doesn't work for me in “My king, my queen! It’s time to go!” the commander of the guard stands tall (as he addressees his Lords, or as is yet make it two sentances) I'll give it a look
-sharply could be sharp, it feels stronger to me. The Queen responds, sharp as usual. Got it!
-Royal Guard irked me as capitalized in the first draft, not here though. Probably because it was a bit of the way down? though since it the princess(?) talking maybe change the to our (our Royal Guard)
- Is this the same character as the person with wolf ears? I think so since there is a dangling character out there (introduced in first sentence then lost) if so she changed her demeanour a full circle (agitated breathing -frantic running to slow and firm and her voice doesn't show sign that she'd been running. It's another person, the princess in fact. I've added more text to make the change more clear
-last sentence, seems strange there is silence among all the noise. I'm not sure if the commander is the King and Queen or someone else. A comma after King would help separate into three distinct entities (the Oxford comma). If it is three people, do all their faces turn white? Deleted the commander from that sentence to make it clearer
-her implies it is just the Queen's daughter and not the Kings. their includes the commander, maybe separate the commander more strongly from the K+Q. The same
Thanks a Lot! I want to get this right so I can post key segments with different structures as battle scenes, making sure that even a basic introduction is at least somewhat readable in the first place.
 

DanielOwen

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I agree, this rewrite is much better. Lots clearer and more readable - I can tell who is doing what and it all flows much better a few things to add to AllanR's nitpicks:

- sensitive wolf-ears can hear whispers despite running alongside a whole squad of fully armoured Royal Guard? Even really good hearing would be overwhelmed by the clatter of armoured soldiers in full run.
- the King's feet knit together? This suggests they are woven with each other somehow; it's a bizarre image and he would fall over if he tried to walk.
- it sounds as though the Princess' hair somehow enters the hall without her. The Queen is recognising the hair as the Princess is coming in; say that.
- I still think you need to choose a point of view character and stick with it. All the jumping around makes it difficult to follow a through-line and means we don't get a real flavour of any of the characters or even the setting and leaves the POV we do have as a bit dry

Lots better this time through though; really good rewrite. Keep at it!
 

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