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Little Girl Lethal (An Excerpt) - When Traveling To Lost Peaks

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Old 02-04-2009, 12:18 PM
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Default Little Girl Lethal (An Excerpt) - When Traveling To Lost Peaks


Greetings, Fellow Writers And Readers,

For those of you who have read my other fiction pieces you will have heard mention of the mythical City of Lost Peaks. This section of my novel serves as a more full exposition of the City, its environs and its layout. In the novel, (when it is published) there will be a map provided as well, to help aid the reader in visualizing my creation. Lost Peaks is like Gotham or Metropolis in that it does not exist in our world, but could in a parallel dimension or alternate reality. It is is a place of what could have been, what might be, and what could be in the future.

I have tried to present the City as in such a way as not to be too dry, and hopefully some what entertaining. I would ask you who read it to comment on whether or not I succeeded. As always, any other comments are appreciated. This piece reads 2759 words, just to let you know.

And now... Welcome To Lost Peaks...



A Short Preface…

When Traveling To Lost Peaks

In the City of Lost Peaks the night always fell early. The sullen smolder of Flame Peak constantly glowered from the southern end of the great, high valley as darkness descended each twilight. The fiery luminance reflected off the towering icy sides of Frost Peak to the north and down the long length of Hour Glass Lake in a ruddy endless shimmer. The Big Nugget. Treasure Chest. The Golden Capital. Skyhighville. Bloody Creeks. Danger Vale. Charon ’s Watch. Doomtown. Yes, Lost Peaks had many names, and all of them fit her.

Glyph Strideright did not come to Lost Peaks to party like so many millions vacationers. No, he had an agenda to fulfill. He had come to stay. It had been a long time since anyone had seen Glyph in Lost Peaks. He and the City had a history. The City and her attractions were world renowned for their extravagance and vice, and he missed them. World class resorts, restaurants, shows, casinos, and brothels. All of them he knew well, and had enjoyed their pleasures and excesses. Every type of diversion a person could wish for could be located in Lost Peaks, for a price. There was always a price to be paid in Lost Peaks.

He had paid a price for many years. It was time others paid. The Creeks would bleed raw when he was done.

The City filled a vast Valley, high up in the depths of a soaring mountain range; Lost Peaks was an ever spreading leviathan. Her urban sprawl had crept into the cracks of the canyon passes that led to her like seething tendrils. She was ringed by looming mountains that jutted up like so many glittering, ripping fangs, beautiful and savage. But of all the mounts circling the City, the Great Eight were most famous and infamous, as they kept their long watch on their Valley, along with those silly, little humans and their City that so recently intruded on the heart of their domain.

Glyph looked out at the Valley. It was good to be back. He planned to stay. It was time to begin again. Lost Peaks, the richest place on Earth, had much to offer Her citizens. So much wealth to be had in Her confines. But oh, the things She’d take from you to get it. That nasty ol’ price again. He stood atop Shard Spire at the summit of Spike Island, and just let the wind blow around him as he reveled in the grandeur of the Valley. Oh yes, he was back.

It had been a clear day. A beautiful, sun soaked day. The kind of day travel agencies promise you that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. The wind had blown the pollution out, leaving an uninterrupted view from one end of the Valley to the other. Postcard perfect.

The view from the Spire on Spike Island was the best in the City. As dusk approached to end that idyllic day, Glyph knew the City was just getting wound-up. Lost Peaks truly came alive at night. He watched as the sun set majestically behind the serrated skyline of the western peaks. Now was when the real fun began, and he was here after so long to see the City howl at the moon once more. Like a ringside seat to the craziest, most fabulous show in the World. What a sight it was!

Ah the Valley! He was home! How he missed the mountains. Those titanic peaks. The Great Eight pierced the sky at the points of the compass. The aforementioned Flame and Frost Peaks to the south and north respectively. To the east and west rose dazzling Crystal Peak and brooding Dark Peak. To the northeast stood Eagle Peak, and to the northwest Star Peak. On the southwest Sun Peak soared, and finally to the southeast lifted Sky Peak. These eight mountains were the guardians and terror of the inhabitants of the City of Lost Peaks for they were grim reminders that everything could end at any time.

It was a knowledge that led the inhabitants of Lost Peaks to live a life of abandon, for they were all on borrowed time. Geologists couldn’t say when, but they said that the time was coming. Then again, who knows the heart of the Earth, and what it might portend.

For Lost Peaks was built on a sleeping giant which Flame Peak was an all too ever present remembrance. Then there was the heralded geothermal activity all over the Valley which was as equally renowned as was the City itself, and brought tourists from around the world to see the spouting geysers and bath in the mythic healing properties of the City’s plethora of hot springs. All of which spoke loudly of the other greater leviathan beneath the City. The Great Valley of Lost Peaks was the titanic caldera of a super volcano, and the titanic City? She was nested smack dab upon it.

The crystal waters of Hour Glass Lake glistened in the central length of the Valley. Rising from her waters were three equally famous and infamous islands. In the north end of the Lake sat the gleaming Golden Isle. In the south portion of the Lake wreathed in mists and vapors was Steam Isle. In the narrow neck at the middle of the Lake’s length jabbed up Spike Island. Everyone now knew what caused these islands to form eons ago, but when the Valley was discovered only a century and some before no one knew. Flame Peak once had another name; Sugar Peak, but that changed when the mountain awoke a spewed forth fire and destruction after her long sleep. Lost Peaks recovered after the disaster, but it was a sign of Doom. Sugar Peak became Flame Peak as it’s caldron still bubbled up magma and sometimes boiled over with blazing rivers of lava. In time, scientists discovered that beneath the Valley far below the Lake was a monster of which Flame Peak was only a very small child. The Great Eight and all the other mountains that ringed the Valley were but dormant fumaroles of the terrible beast under the Valley.

Now some would ask why would anyone be so foolish as to build a metropolis upon such a place. The answer was, of course, no one knew at first, but that might not have stopped them if they did. For you see, the Valley of Lost Peaks had the vastest deposits of gold ever found. Not to mention, silver, platinum, copper, and every precious gem on the geologist’s chart. For over a hundred years Mother Earth had been giving up her greatest treasures out of the Valley, and there did not seem to be an end to it. There were cities with more population, cities with more history, cities with more political power, but there was no city with more raw wealth. The Valley of Lost Peaks was in short, the richest spot on Planet Earth.

Millions now lived in the Valley, each seeking fortune in way or another. Lost Peaks was a boom town, and had been for over a hundred years. It was a wild place where money was plentiful and scruples weren’t, and most everyone knew that destruction could come roaring at anytime.

That atmosphere bred a special breed of denizen. Peakers, as they were called by outsiders, were hard, mean, and often cruel, if not down right vicious. But the citizens of Lost Peaks had their own a appellation for themselves. They called themselves Lost Ones, and just because you moved into town did not mean you were one. You had to earn the title of Lost One. You had to prove your metal, one way or another. And the City? She would make sure you did, or you’d die trying.

Glyph smiled out at the Valley. It was self-satisfied smile. The Spire’s penthouse cost a fortune to book, but Glyph had connections. It had taken him years to recoup his losses and find a path back to Lost Peaks. Now, he was back, and bigger than ever. His grin deepened. There were debts to collect, insults to redress, and blood to be spilt.

Lost Peaks was not for the faint of heart. It would make you or break you. There were only two ways about it. Other places, cities and towns, they had their mystiques, their stories, but nowhere was like Lost Peaks, The Jeweled City Of The Damned!

If you came to Lost Peaks you could and would see why people came. It was not just for the coin. No, Lost Peaks was arguably set in the most beautiful place on Earth. It was a proverbial scenic wonder waiting for Ragnarok. An alpine paradise on a gargantuan ticking time bomb. The claim could be made that Lost Peaks was the most dramatic city in the World, both in appearance and atmosphere. With the jagged mountains as a constant backdrop, massive geysers spouting regularly, and the sparkling waters of the Lake made it every bit a resort town, and the City itself was a marvel of magnificently engineered architecture. Inconceivable wealth let the uber-rich build monuments and structures that dwarfed achievements of other fabled places. Such exorbitance and extravagance as history had never witnessed before flowed out of the mines of Lost Peaks, and yet amid this unimaginable wealth dwelt the most wretched poor and downtrodden, eking out a bare existence, and as anyone would expect, a rife, thriving criminal element made its home all over the City, ever preying on the weak.

Glyph could see the helicopter’s lights coming in from the south. He knew it was his promised ride; his chariot back to greatness. As the wind picked up and whipped around him in a gust, he spread his arms and laughed. From deep down in his willowy frame a bark of grim mirth burst forth. He threw back his head and laughed to the darkening sky. What a night this would be!

Glyph stood tall, whip cord lean, but there was sinewy, serpentine sensuality to his motion, as if he reveled in every step he took. It had taken him the concerted effort of years to develop that mode of locomotion. It made him stand out. It made him memorable, but it hid even more. Glyph had much to hide. Much to protect. He knew the City. He knew if he wasn’t extremely careful She’d take everything from him. She had before. Everything except his life, and She almost got away with that as well. Lost Peaks was a cruel mistress. Oh how well Glyph knew that fact.

Lost Peaks loved to devour. She was insatiable. It wasn’t her fault. She was just the sum of her parts. Her soul was the collective of her citizens. Wickedness was the stock and trade of the City, and so the City had no choice but to be full of perverse lust and rabid avarice. The City was built on greed and desire. There are many reasons cities form. Many cities in history were built around ports, or on waterways. Some at a confluence of roads. Others came to be just because the timing was right. And a few were built on the fact of their proximity to a certain resource. Such was Lost Peaks, but never to such a scale. Lost Peaks was isolated from any other great city by more than seven hundred miles. There were no major rivers near Her, and it was over a thousand miles to the sea.

But that did not stop the endless buzz of commerce to and from her gates, nor the constant influx of the multitudes seeking fortune inside the great mountain ring that walled the City. Lost Peaks usually ate them right up and hungered for more, and still they came in droves. It was said the City had a strange, magnetic, almost magical pull. But it was black magic. Tourists would come to see the City, and often never left. Some because they felt drawn to stay, and others…well, they just never made it home.

But nothing stopped the multitude of humanity from burgeoning into the Valley unceasingly; seeking to lay their claim and strike it rich. But life in Lost Peaks was never easy for a green horn, but there was always room for one more unfortunate victim. If you came to live in Lost Peaks you would have a large selection of districts in which to dwell, known jointly as The Claims, but each Claim had it’s own character, and its own rules. And if you came to stay, you had better learn them fast.

Glyph had been a player in the City once. High in the ranks. Not down with the peons and the dregs. Nor with the lowlifes thugs and gangsters, but up in the moneyed class. Sure, he had a hand in the nefarious. Anyone with power in Lost Peaks at least had one finger dipped into the City’s netherworld, if nothing else to keep a check on the pulse of the City’s life beat. The word on the street was the real news of the happenings in the City, and one must always keep an ear to the ground in Lost Peaks. Glyph had forgotten that once and it had cost him dearly. He was going to get back what he’d lost. Get it all back, and more.

Once he had been the virtual overlord of a section of the City, of the Claim of Dawn’s Haven. A rich prize, but by no means the richest. Glyph had plans. Great machinations to set in motion. The City lights began to twinkle on, as he look out at the vast Valley. Night was upon Lost Peaks, and She took on a new life with the fall of darkness. The Claims of Lost Peaks flared to into their notorious nightlife.

The City’s sections were partitioned off by one roaring river and six fast flowing creeks that flowed into the Lake, and one boiling river that flowed out. In the north to the west of Frost Peak and east of Star Peak running down from the North Wind Pass came the frigid, ferocious Glacier River. To the south running out of the Lake to the west of Flame Peak and east of Sun Peak went the Sulfur River, once known as the Sweet River, through the Heaven Heart Pass. In the east of the Valley, out of the mountains came the four eastern creeks. To the north between Frost and Eagle Peaks flowed Claw Creek. Between Eagle and Crystal Peaks came Danger Creek. Between Crystal and Sky Peaks was Hammer Creek. And between Sky and Flame Peaks ran Crimson Creek. In the west of the Valley ran the last two creeks. From between Star and Dark Peaks ran Stone Creek, and between Dark Peak and Sun Peak came Zephyr Creek.

The Islands of the Lake, and the boundaries of the Creeks and Rivers from the mountains to the Lake formed the Claims of Lost Peaks. These respective areas were called thusly:

The Lake Isles of Golden Isle, Steam Isle, and Spike Island, known collectively as The Lacustrine Claims.

To the west were the Occidental Claims. Over in the northwest, between the Glacier River and Stone Creek stood Cold Plateau. Out in the west, between Stone and Zephyr Creeks faired Far Plains. Off in the southeast, between Zephyr Creek and the Sulfur River spread Sultry Meadows.

On the eastern side of the valley were the Windward Claims. Up between the Glacier River and Claw Creek on the Valley’s high side was Top Point. To the northeast between Claw and Danger Creeks rose Capital Bluff. In the east, between Danger and Hammer Creeks sat Ore Flats. Below there in the southeast, between Hammer and Crimson Creeks lay Dawn’s Haven. And down on the low side between Crimson Creek and the Sulfur River simmered Magma Downs, once known as Honey Vale.

The Claims were known officially as Heaven’s Eleven, but were commonly called by Lost Ones as Hell’s Belles.

All the Claims had their charms and terrors, but only the foolish ventured into Magma Downs without an escort, or a very, very good reason.
Glyph had an invite to the Downs. There was a elite soirée for certain heavy hitters in the underworld of the City, and Glyph was in the mix. He was going to shake things up. Make his presence felt. Bury the hatchet and lay the hammer down….




Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment if the muse and impulse strikes you. Have an excellent day.

Write Hard!!!

Slick Jimmy Has Left The Building...

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Old 02-04-2009, 06:03 PM
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Hi Jimmy!

I think some of your descriptions jar the mental ear--or at least they jar mine--because of the etymology the words carry with them. There will always be a subset of readers with bigger vocabularies, who know the histories and relationships between words. They'll pick up on secondary meanings in your sentences.

I'm trying to explain, but it might be easier to show. Here's your first paragraph:

Originally Posted by Slick-Jimmy View Post
In the City of Lost Peaks the night always fell early. The sullen smolder of Flame Peak constantly glowered from the southern end of the great, high valley as darkness descended each twilight. ("Glowering" denotes a sullen look, but it comes from an old Scottish word for a dark sky; overcast, basically. It's got a similar meaning in German and Dutch. A "glower", then, is a dark look, not a smoldering one that shows up in a dark sky.) The fiery luminance reflected off the towering icy sides of Frost Peak to the north and down the long length of Hour Glass Lake in a ruddy endless shimmer. ("Luminance" does indeed refer to a glow, but it comes from the Latin word for the moon and refers to a gentle, moon-like glow. Luminous things don't produce light; they reflect it, are bathed in it. Again, not the best way to refer to something fiery.) The Big Nugget. Treasure Chest. The Golden Capital. Skyhighville. Bloody Creeks. Danger Vale. Charon ’s Watch. Doomtown. Yes, Lost Peaks had many names, and all of them fit her.
You see? Not all readers will pick up on all that, but those who do will be distracted by the contradictory images. I think the best thing to do with descriptions is to limit the adjectives to a few precise ones. Even if you know what they mean, look them up to see if they have any unintended meanings or interesting histories. Study up a little on Greek and Latin roots. Then you can write descriptions that readers of all levels will appreciate.

If you're interested in etymologies and usage, I can recommend an interesting mailing list and some websites that will provide hours of geeky fun.

As for your original question about the city... I did get that Lost Peaks was a fascinating place, with a sort of vicious energy. It sounds pretty cool and scary, actually! However, the descriptions that led up to it were a little distracting for the reason I stated. I think it could use some pruning there. As for the descriptions of the people, it might be better to show them in action and describe them that way.

Example:
Describe geological stuff as Glyph walks in.
Describe denizens as Glyph interacts with them. Say things like "He was a typical Peaker... one of those hard, cutthroat people who siezed lif--and money--in his two hands because he knew how quickly it could go." It's easier to pay attention to descriptions of people in action than to hear about them first and have to remember their characteristics later.

I hope this helps! Thanks for the peek into your story and world!
HoiLei
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Old 02-04-2009, 07:17 PM
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HoiLei,

Thank you for your comments and time.

Would "glared" for "glowered," and "radiance" for 'luminance" work better etymologically?

As to the action of Glyph through Lost Peaks, I'll have to think about it. I was not really worried about his character, more than using him as a foil for introducing Lost Peaks a beast of a city. Glyph is incidental. He is just a shell anyway, that will be sloughed off as another character takes his place. It's all very confusing, and I'm going off on a tangent digression.

Suffice to say, I'll think it over, and see what I can come up with.

As to geeky word fun dealing with etymologies and usage, hell, I'm always up fer' semantics! (Get it? Semantics! Some Antics! I kill myself.) Send the 411 my way in a PM, darlin'.

Sweet!

Thanks again for your timely advise.

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Old 02-06-2009, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Slick-Jimmy View Post
Would "glared" for "glowered," and "radiance" for 'luminance" work better etymologically?
Yup! "Glare" is a bright, eye-hurting word. "Radiance" is related to "radiate"--to emit heat, "radiator"--those horrible hot things that heat your house, etc.

Now for the geeky word fun (your pun killed me, by the way). Start with this guy Michael Quinion. He works for the OED, writes books, maintains a website called World Wide Words, and manages to put out a very nice newsletter.

I know I have more in my web history, so I'll rustle up a list to PM you.
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Old 02-13-2009, 12:07 AM
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I kept on starting this, and kept on getting interrupted, so sorry for the late reply.

You describe the city well, but maybe a little too much. Maybe it was just my haphazard reading, but you are repeating key elements of the city many times, to the point where I begun to skip lines, which is never good.

Also the section describing the eight peaks, you use the word peak so many times that it reads odd. Maybe call some of them something other then peak.

You describe the city as beautiful, but all I can see is the glittering high-rises of a city, the description of the land seem to be drowned by the city part of the place. So while it might be a beautiful place I as a reader can not see it, just read it.

Hope that helps, and some time soon I will get back to you on the other comment I haven’t got round to yet.
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Old 02-13-2009, 07:57 AM
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You have absolutely lovely descriptions, SJ, but this is way too much of an info dump--especially with all of the specific names of places. (Like in this paragraph; nobody is going to remember all of this:

The City’s sections were partitioned off by one roaring river and six fast flowing creeks that flowed into the Lake, and one boiling river that flowed out. In the north to the west of Frost Peak and east of Star Peak running down from the North Wind Pass came the frigid, ferocious Glacier River. To the south running out of the Lake to the west of Flame Peak and east of Sun Peak went the Sulfur River, once known as the Sweet River, through the Heaven Heart Pass. In the east of the Valley, out of the mountains came the four eastern creeks. To the north between Frost and Eagle Peaks flowed Claw Creek. Between Eagle and Crystal Peaks came Danger Creek. Between Crystal and Sky Peaks was Hammer Creek. And between Sky and Flame Peaks ran Crimson Creek. In the west of the Valley ran the last two creeks. From between Star and Dark Peaks ran Stone Creek, and between Dark Peak and Sun Peak came Zephyr Creek.)

No way. I just read it and I don't remember all of them, much less where they are. If these locations are going to have a future significance in your story, how about you mention it then? Work the descriptions into the action. When readers encounter an entire chapter of pure description, chances are they're going to skim, and the beauty of your words will be lost. As a rule of thumb, don't describe things that you're not going to mention again, and so many names are right out.

Anywayy...just my take. I think this could be shortened quite a bit, and it'd be great if you could take what you've written here and work it into other places in your story instead of basically telling the reader all the specifics.
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Old 02-13-2009, 01:31 PM
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Tau and NW,

Thanks for the reviews. I'll definitely rewrite a good portion of this. I might even throw some illustrations with it. (I draw a little.) Possibly this could also be an appendix. We'll see. I just want something that reader can refer to when hearing about Lost Peaks. There is a couple of maps I've don't, and if I ever get the time, I'm going to build a 3-D model of the place. That take bookoo work though, to make it look good.

Thanks Again!

Jimmy Out!
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