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Two Knights Abroad - Chapters 2 & 3 (3,214 Words)

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Old 07-21-2006, 05:20 PM
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Default Two Knights Abroad - Chapters 2 & 3 (3,214 Words)


Hi. Sorry for the length, but Chapter 2 is too small to stand on it's own, and Chapter 3 does not have a logical break!

I would normally wait a da or so before posting this, but I have to go away for at least one night, and excited anticipation of your comments has got the better of me!

See my sig for Chapter 1 (oh, go on)

Chapter Two


In a fortified country estate, a portly middle-aged man sat at an expensive writing desk in the middle of a richly furnished study. Clad in a fine bearskin cloak, the man was hunched over a letter, dashing away happily with his quill he occasionally chortled quietly to himself.


It was not long before he finished writing. He put the quill to one side and read through his composition, checking carefully for mistakes.



My Lord,


As you predicted, the King has ordered yet more soldiers to France. I have played the good little vassal and will be sending along all the men I can spare.


Silly me though, I seem to have left large regions of the coast that fall under my care all but unguarded.


I will be leaving with my men for France soon. I can delay no longer, or even this fool of a monarch will question why I remain at home when there is ‘fun’ to be had carving up France.


Rest assured my Lord, whilst in France I shall find a fair-sized and discreet port where you may put the finishing touches to the plan.


It is all I can do to stop myself from laughing uncontrollably, like some deranged madman! Ha, ha!


I wish you luck in finding that cursed girl, if she has not been re-captured already.


I leave you now, your most humble of servants,





Burnaby





Satisfied, Burnaby slowly pushed back his chair and stood up. He tugged his cloak back into place, fussing about the way it hung upon his bulk and strode over to a large window. He gazed thoughtfully at the landscape, but with his mind elsewhere he was blind to the lush, green fields and distant, sandy beaches. He was struck by a name. “Theresa,” he murmured, with just an edge of sadness. He shook his head in wobbly-jowled resignation before returning his thoughts to the source of his earlier mirth. A small chuckle was stifled before he could become the ‘deranged madman’ of his letter.


“The ink should be dry, by now,” he said aloud. He returned to his desk, folded the letter and applied his wax seal.


“Charles!” A roaring bellow. After mere moments, a thin, haunted-looking servant appeared. Burnaby cleared his throat and said “take this letter to the same place as last time. Ask no questions, do not stop, and mention it to another soul at your peril!”


Burnaby was stern, but he failed to notice the servant’s expression, which said, “Yes, yes. I have done this a thousand times you fat old coot, and I want no part of whatever you be planning anyway!”


The servant left the room and Burnaby harrumphed and returned to his window. Within moments he was laughing again and only just regained control before he began an impromptu jig, right there, by the window, for the whole world to see.

Chapter Three



A rather short man stood upon a hastily constructed wooden platform. It resembled a hangman’s gibbet, but had been put together merely so that this man might rise above the several thousand others who were gathered around him, waiting less than patiently for him to speak.


The man on the platform looks cruel, puppy-kicking cruel. Practically bald, he is advanced in years to a point where he has become bitter and resentful of youth and vitality. Nothing has ever gone right for him. Exiled from his home for treason, disowned by all those he loved and hated by those he used to call friend. The taste of bitterness coats everything this man consumes, the thirst for revenge upon those who have wronged him is something that no quantity of wine has slaked over the years.


Revenge is what drives him; bloody, terrible, victorious revenge!


He will have that revenge. He, Lord Grey will triumph! Seer has foretold it.

Seer - a strange name, more of a job title than a name one would think. But nevertheless, Seer is the name that the deeply cloaked and hooded figure to Lord Grey’s right answers to. Clad in heavy and ridiculously voluminous dark brown robes, not a scrap of this person’s flesh could be seen. Inside the hood was only shadow and, ok, maybe just the suggestion of the tip of a nose. The sleeves of the robe fell way past the man’s hands, and the hem bunched up on the floor. Something about Seer’s stance suggested that the creature inside was skinny at best. It looked as though the robe had been draped precariously over a bundle of tall sticks, or as had blown over a winter-bare bush and gotten snagged.


Sat at what are presumed to be Seer’s feet, was a large sack. The sack writhed continuously, as though it were stuffed full of kittens, unknowingly destined for some cold riverbed. Behind Seer and taking up a ridiculous amount of space on the platform was a contentedly plump cow. The animal was just standing there, slowly chewing on some cud, placidly watching the world go by.


Lord Grey had noticed the cow, how could he not? He was used to Seer’s weird ways, but this was something new, this was different, even for Seer. He did not like to encourage Seer though, so he just ignored the bovine mystery for the time being. He had a speech to make to the rowdy crowd of soldiers, mercenaries, criminals and downright basic scum, but he could not start until his damned bodyguard returned.


Right on queue, a gentle whisper in his left ear. “My liege.” Viper, returned at last from some private rendezvous. Lord Grey found it slightly disturbing, to put it mildly, that his bodyguard was also, quite openly, an assassin for hire to the highest bidder. Lord grey would turn to speak to Viper, only to find him gone, flitting away to fulfil some dark contract. Then, like now, he would return, wiping bloody hands on a rag he kept in a pocket just for that purpose. The underneaths of Viper’s fingernails were always red. Sometimes his teeth were red-stained too. It was most disconcerting to Lord Grey, who was essentially a civilised man of good breeding. Lord Grey would dispense with Viper’s services in an instant…were it not for the fact that the man, long ago, had seemed to read his thoughts and whispered in his ear, (always his left ear) “try it and I will do you. For free.” Further elaboration saw Viper reveal, quite candidly, that he had been hired to kill Lord Grey but found it amusing to protect him, knowing that from now on the man feared death at Viper’s literally bloody hands.


Viper had jet-black, slick, shoulder length hair that contrasted against pale skin. He was lithe, acrobatic and wore a surprisingly light, pastel green tunic and trousers, although much of his outfit was stained brown with old blood. No weapons were visible about his person, but the man’s creepy grey eyes gave you the impression he was about to nod and casually give you a flash of some kind of rusty, serrated and unwholesomely painful looking implement.


Lord Grey surveyed the scene before him. This large field was where his army was camped while he waited for the last few recruits to drift in. He knew exactly how many men he needed to complete his plan, to ensure that his victory was all encompassing and would leave him in a position of entirely unassailable supremacy. He was nearly there. Another thousand eager blades, he thought, and then they would set off. Of course the final timing depended upon that idiot Burnaby. A useful idiot, but an idiot nonetheless.

For now though, his vagabond army was growing impatient. Many of them had been there for a couple of months with nothing to do but wait, fight each other, drink and gamble on fights between whatever animals they could capture in the surrounding countryside. The land in these parts offered slim pickings for the animal fight enthusiast, for men accustomed to cock or dog fights, even titanic scraps between bears. However, deprive two male squirrels of their nuts and the skilled animal baiter can lay on a semi-decent rodent battle for the punters. But, no matter how long you half-starve a hedgehog, or poke it with sticks, it just lacks the…the…naked ferocity, to launch itself at another animal, whilst drunk, sweaty men bay for it’s blood. To put it simply, these men were restless, bored and edgy.


Lord Grey had impressed upon all of them, under pain of death that no one was to go near an inhabited area. If the secrecy of their mission was compromised then that was it, it was over. No pay, no loot, no pillaging, no women, but, he assured them, plenty of random executions. Even so, his control over this nasty collection of what he liked to think of as the cream of the dregs of humanity was slim at best. Only the prospect of the freedom to indulge in one of the largest acts of chaotic carnage known to mankind was what kept them here and what kept them, barely, in check.


Lord Grey cleared his throat. A few of the assembled mass close enough to hear stopped their own conversations and waited for him to speak. Nobody else noticed. Lord Grey had to get their attention. He raised his right arm, elbow crooked to bring his hand up level with his face. He clicked his fingers. Immediately, Seer reached into the sack at his feet, rummaged around for a moment, winced as though he had been bitten, and then withdrew his arm. His hand was now revealed and as expected it was painfully skinny. The hand clutched a scrawny, blinking chicken. He raised both his arms to the sky, the heavy sleeves of his robe falling back, to reveal near skeletal arms. The hand not holding the chicken was clutching a wicked, jagged dagger. Seer swayed from side to side for a few moments, making a strange keening noise and waving his arms slowly. Bit by bit, the crowd noticed what he was doing. They had seen this before so they knew that something was afoot.


With great speed, Seer brought both arms down and briefly crossed them in front of his torso. The knife seemed to just nick the chicken, but that was enough to make innards erupt onto the floor in front of him. A twist of his hand and the un-bloodied knife seemed to vanish then Seer fell to his knees and stirred around in the chicken’s entrails with his two forefingers.


Lord Grey shouted, “My Seer consults his demons, to see if the time is right to move on to the next phase of the plan!” Lord Grey’s words were relayed around the crowd and translated into half a dozen languages by various strategically placed interpreters. This was truly a motley collection of scum, scraped out of the cesspits of almost a dozen lands.


Seer muttered and tutted to himself, as he made piles out of little bits of chicken gut and considered them anxiously from a variety of awkward angles.


Motionless, Viper scanned the crowd.


Lord Grey tapped one foot impatiently. He did not really like it when Seer upstaged him like this.


Seer stood up, and quietly intoned, “nothing.”


Lord Grey’s brow furrowed. “Curses. Try again!”


Seer went back into his sack, this time he came out with what looked like a small terrapin. It was determinedly and savagely biting on his finger. He shook it to the floor desperately and stamped on it. Then he fell to his knees again, and started sifting through bits of shell and flesh.


After an interminable amount of time, he stood up again and, speaking quite lifelessly said, “yes.”


“Excellent!” Lord Grey addressed the crowd again. “The Seer has spoken! The time is right for me to unleash you!” A huge roar of approval and pent-up frustration came from the masses. “But,” continued Lord Grey, “this is only a training mission. You will go from here by ship, across to the southeast coast of France. There, night after night you will raid towns and villages, you will learn to act as a co-ordinated force, leaders will be identified, and we shall make a proper army of you!”


Not many in the crowd liked this. They thought that Lord Grey had been about to reveal the final details of the big plan. Two-bit looting and ransacking was beneath such a force, they thought collectively. What the hell did they need training for? Why would they want to be an army? Most of them had probably deserted from at least one army or another in their time. One man, quite near the front voiced his disapproval. “Oi! We just want to get on with it! You brought us here for a reason! We want the loot. We want what was promised to us! We want it now!” He spoke in French-accented English.


Lord Grey glanced briefly, nervously at Viper. He was gladdened to see that Viper was looking the other way, daydreaming and clearly taking no notice of the malcontent….


“You’ve got so much money, why don’t we just take it off you?” The troublemaker was gaining support, now others were nodding. Lord Grey brought his left arm up sharply. He clicked his fingers and, without really seeming to move, Viper just kind of…twitched…briefly. The whinging mercenary collapsed on the spot with a knife in his throat. He got blood on his neighbour’s boot, much to that man’s disapproval.


After a few seconds of stunned silence there was a general, angry surge towards the platform. Lord Grey held up his hands to placate. “With that idiot’s death, there is more money, more of the spoils of war for the rest of you!” He shouted.


The mob stopped and mentally scratched their heads as they thought about it and as the translations filtered around. Momentarily, there came a ragged, but unanimous cheer.

“To be honest, the more of you that die the better.”


“Huh?” Spoke the voice of the crowd.


“Oh, no, I mean, the more of you that die, the better for those that live! You will all be as rich as Kings!”


“Ah!” Went the crowd and then, with another short pause to accommodate the language barriers, “hurray!”


One bright spark suddenly decided that right here right now he could guarantee himself a bigger future payout. He whispered something in a friend’s ear and then the two of them plunged their daggers into a fat crossbowman in front of them. This was the signal for a general, mass-murderous brawl to break out, as more and more men came to the same logical, if somewhat unsound conclusion.


Lord Grey stared aghast and his jaw dropped. "Ah, I may have taken that a tad too far..." he looked to Viper, hoping the eerily calm assassin would have a way to stop this riot before it ended Grey’s plans here and now. Unfortunately, Viper chose that very moment to give a small “yip,” of pleasure, before diving headlong from the platform into a knot of Spanish bandits who were busy garrotting some perplexed German pikemen with the strings of their hunting bows. Frantically, Lord Grey turned to Seer who was already desperately trying to divine a solution from the still warm innards of a newly gutted rabbit. The panicking Lord hurried across and peered expectantly over Seer’s shoulder. The hooded one’s readings came to an end, he stood up and shook his imperceptible head at Lord Grey. “The entrails are cloudy,” he breathed.


“I am paying you for this am I!” Hissed Lord Grey in exasperation. He slapped Seer’s hand away as it quested once again towards the sack, prior to answering Grey’s rhetorical question. Lord Grey spun in a half circle, mind reeling for a way to halt the growing maelstrom. Seer’s unexplained cow came into view and, unthinking, Lord Grey lashed out at it with a frustrated boot. The animal bellowed mightily in pain. A nearby group of dishonoured French men-at-arms looked up in surprise at the sound, dropping the unidentifiable cutthroat they had been pummelling. Ah-ha, Lord Grey had their attention back. He booted the cow again, and got a deeper, louder moo of protest. A wider ring of mercenaries looked up from the ruckus. Seer ran in between Lord Grey and the cow, “Blossom!” He wailed reproachfully, flinging his arms around the beast’s neck and making soothing sounds. It did not matter, Lord Grey was busy shouting at those who would listen now, ordering them to stop and slowly, eventually, thankfully the word carried and the impromptu hostilities ceased.


A rustle of air and Lord Grey’s left ear recorded the words “my liege,” spoken quietly over his shoulder. Grey twisted his head, just in time to see Viper stuff what looked very much like part of a human ear into his pocket. He did not want to think about it, he did not want to know what Viper was chewing and neither did he want to know just how many of his idiotic hirelings had just slaughtered each other. He spotted what he hoped was one of his least stupid captains and ordered the man to get the mess sorted out, to do a head count and get back to him. On second thoughts, he told the man to do a head count of attached heads only…


Surveying the disordered scene around him, Grey hoped that the damage had not been too bad; they could probably replace the dead in a day or so, as volunteers were drifting in all the time. He would get the group captains together this evening and brief them on the next stages of the plan. A few destroyed villages in France were a small price to pay in the run up to his moment of triumph. His need for revenge would be seen to at last.


Giving the situation some more thought, Lord Grey decided his troops would move out the very next day. No expense had been spared and he had enough privately built or hired ships to take the vast majority of his troops to the French coast from this secret location in Italy right now. He would leave a trusted captain or two behind to welcome in other mercenaries as they arrived and those could be ferried across as his ships carried out shuttling runs.


Lord Grey regarded Seer, who was still hugging his affronted cow. “Seer. Why?” He asked, gesturing at the animal.


“Blossom holds the answer,” came the monotone reply.


“To what, now?”


“To the question.”


“To the question I just asked?”


“No, to the question.”


“I see,” nodded Grey, slowly. “What question would that be, again, though?”

“The question will become apparent with time. Then shall Blossom bear her fruit.”


“I do not know about a cow bearing fruit,” mused Lord Grey. “Does this one bear any milk? I am terribly thirsty,” he asked hopefully. When Seer made a move towards his still-wriggling sack, Lord Grey screamed “Just squeeze the bloody tits, or I shall set Viper on you!”

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Last edited by Jimbo; 02-05-2008 at 01:25 PM..
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  #2  
Old 07-23-2006, 03:02 PM
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Hi James. I'm baaaaack.

At a large, expensive writing table, in a richly furnished study, in a fortified country estate, sits a portly middle-aged man.
Hmmm. This smacks too much, for my taste, of a list. All are good things to know, but I feel like I’m in third grade again and reading “scary” stories: “In an old, scary house, was a creaky door. Behind the creaky door was a dusty room. In the dusty room was a….”

fool of a Monarch
No need to capitalize monarch.

Rest assured my Lord; whilst in France
comma

He shakes his head with resignation and wobbly jowls
I like what you’re trying to do, but I don’t think you can combine these two things. His wobbly jowls are wobbling while he shakes his head – he’s not shaking his head with wobbly jowls.

evil-looking man
Try to avoid such non-descript descriptions when possible. What makes him evil-looking?
Ah, I see you get to that later. Then I would suggest removing that phrase entirely. Give us the good stuff!

Viper; returned at last
comma

Motionless; Viper scanned the crowd.
comma

malcontent
I love that word!

Lord Grey brought his left arm sharply.
Missing the direction.. up?

“just squeeze the bloody tits
I actually saw this before reading anything else on the page. As you might imagine, I was rather curious as to the development of such a statement.
Oh, capitalize just.

Overall, a good continuation.

One thing that causes slight concern is the possibility that you may have given yourself too many villains. Burnaby is obviously a bit secondary, but nonetheless adds to a trio: him, Grey and Viper. I’ve found that often when there are multiple villains, the reader is unsure of who to hate most, and rather than focusing all loathing on one character, ends up dividing his or her emotion between several which often leads to apathy regarding all. Also, one advantage for the author of having one villain is that you get to spend all your time crafting that character without worrying about setting aside some juicy villainous tendencies for the others.
Anyway, that was rather long-winded, but something you may want to think about if all three of these men are going to play primary roles.

Also, I found some of the early bits of chapter 3 to be somewhat lengthy and I got a little bogged down in the moments before Grey begins speaking.

So, I think that’s about it. I do like where the story is going. Not that I really know where it’s going. But I mean that there’s some good stuff here and, of course, the familiar humor.

Cheers!
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Old 07-23-2006, 03:22 PM
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halloooo!

Originally Posted by Icarus
Hi James. I'm baaaaack.

I knew you would be. Because you said you would.


Hmmm. This smacks too much, for my taste, of a list. All are good things to know, but I feel like I’m in third grade again and reading “scary” stories: “In an old, scary house, was a creaky door. Behind the creaky door was a dusty room. In the dusty room was a….”


No need to capitalize monarch.


comma


I like what you’re trying to do, but I don’t think you can combine these two things. His wobbly jowls are wobbling while he shakes his head – he’s not shaking his head with wobbly jowls.


Try to avoid such non-descript descriptions when possible. What makes him evil-looking?
Ah, I see you get to that later. Then I would suggest removing that phrase entirely. Give us the good stuff!


comma


comma


I love that word!


Missing the direction.. up?

Thanks, I'll address all of the above issues.


I actually saw this before reading anything else on the page. As you might imagine, I was rather curious as to the development of such a statement.
Oh, capitalize just.

Heh. Maybe the chapter should start at the end and have Grey doing a mental re-cap? Naaaah.

Overall, a good continuation.

Overall, a good critique

One thing that causes slight concern is the possibility that you may have given yourself too many villains. Burnaby is obviously a bit secondary, but nonetheless adds to a trio: him, Grey and Viper. I’ve found that often when there are multiple villains, the reader is unsure of who to hate most, and rather than focusing all loathing on one character, ends up dividing his or her emotion between several which often leads to apathy regarding all. Also, one advantage for the author of having one villain is that you get to spend all your time crafting that character without worrying about setting aside some juicy villainous tendencies for the others.

That's very interesting. Burnaby is basically just going to be a tool for Ralph to get to Grey, and he has to go through Viper to get at him. My overall story is weak enough that you're really not going to have to worry about these three guys jostling for attention. Sad, but true.

What you have said here makes me think that I made a mistake in bringing this chapter forward from chapter 8 to chapter 3. I think I should give the reader more time before they get to this bit....Hmmm. It's a lot to think about, because it really changes the flow of the story. Hmmm again, only this time with more feeling

Anyway, that was rather long-winded, but something you may want to think about if all three of these men are going to play primary roles.

Also, I found some of the early bits of chapter 3 to be somewhat lengthy and I got a little bogged down in the moments before Grey begins speaking.

Right, I see. I'll kick this chapter into a sauna and crank the dial up to max for a while.

So, I think that’s about it. I do like where the story is going. Not that I really know where it’s going.

I'm not sure I do, even after 40,000 words! Well, that's not true, but I'm not sure there's enough of it.

But I mean that there’s some good stuff here and, of course, the familiar humor.

Well, that's encouraging. I might rip this chapter down though, and put the original 3 (now 4) back in it's place though....

Cheers!
Thank you very, very much Icarus!

I'm just reading something of gary_wagner's, then I'll give one of your pieces some loving.
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Old 07-24-2006, 06:10 AM
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This was an interesting enjoyable read. I liked the bits of wry and dry humor (sorry - I can't bring myself to write humour).

I have a personal dislike for present tense writing. The dislike is not enough to make me not like a story - its just that I almost always prefer past tense. You started out with chapter 2 and the first part of chapter 3 in present tense then shifted into past tense. That in itself is a little jarring.

“take this letter to the same place as last time. Ask no questions, do not stop, and mention it to anyone else at your peril!”
For some reason it seems like this should be "no one" instead of "anyone" but I don't know why.

The man on the platform looks cruel, puppy-kicking cruel.
I really liked the way you put a picture on his cruelty.

The taste of bitterness coats everything this man consumes, the thirst for revenge upon those who have wronged him is something that no quantity of wine has slaked over the years.
This is another great sentence.

However, deprive two male squirrels of their nuts (not those nuts),
I'm not sure you need the parenthetical reference - I think the play on words might work better without it if you leave the double entendre open for the reader to determine.

Then Lord Grey went a little bit too far.
You might be giving the gag away a few sentences too soon with this line. It might be better if you have Lord Grey realize that he went too far with his statement after he sees the results.

Grey was able to hope that the damage had not been too bad
"Was able to hope" seemed like an uncomfortable way to say "hoped".


I'm looking forward to reading more to see where this story is going.
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Old 07-24-2006, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by gary_wagner
This was an interesting enjoyable read. I liked the bits of wry and dry humor (sorry - I can't bring myself to write humour).

And why should you? You (not personally) fought for your right to have a language of your own. To mangle as you see fit! JOKE!

I have a personal dislike for present tense writing. The dislike is not enough to make me not like a story - its just that I almost always prefer past tense. You started out with chapter 2 and the first part of chapter 3 in present tense then shifted into past tense. That in itself is a little jarring.

Yeah, why the bleep do I keep doing that? I really don't know! Hahah. Although to be fair, it's not something everyone mentions. Of course, that could be because you get in there first and point it out. Still, I'm not doing it conciously, so I don't think I'm harming my 'vision' in editing it based on your good comments.

For some reason it seems like this should be "no one" instead of "anyone" but I don't know why.

Because no one doesn't quite make the sentence scan right. To be changed.

I really liked the way you put a picture on his cruelty.
This is another great sentence.

Cool, ta.

I'm not sure you need the parenthetical reference - I think the play on words might work better without it if you leave the double entendre open for the reader to determine.

Excellent idea, and I think it will work fine. I think I try too hard to point out the fact that there's a joke around sometimes (HEY, LOOK! I MADE A FUNNY! YOO HOO, OVER HERE!).

You might be giving the gag away a few sentences too soon with this line. It might be better if you have Lord Grey realize that he went too far with his statement after he sees the results.

Yeah, okay, I'll try that out too

"Was able to hope" seemed like an uncomfortable way to say "hoped".

Sure. For some reason, I read "Was able to hope" as "was fairly certain". Don't ask me why. I think I'l change it to fairly certain though.

I'm looking forward to reading more to see where this story is going.
Great, well I'll be putting up another chapter just as soon as I'm not taking up too much of the front page of Fiction!

Thanks for the continual, excellent comments. HEre, have some rep my good man.
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Old 07-24-2006, 06:52 AM
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Great, well I'll be putting up another chapter just as soon as I'm not taking up too much of the front page of Fiction!


I wouldn't worry about that. Someone else has something called "Expat" plastered all over the front page and it won't hurt for you to take up some of that space. I'm waiting for a moderator to tell me that I need to cut back on what I am posting but I haven't yet and probably won't as long as I keep it down to one new section of a couple thousand words per day. You should be fine putting another section up here since the last one is from a few days ago.
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Old 07-24-2006, 07:20 AM
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At the moment, the forum is going through a bit of a slow patch since lots of people are away. So I don't think anyone will complain if you guys keep posting. I won't!
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Old 07-24-2006, 07:40 AM
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Ah, you mean there's lots more potential punters out there to come and pour their scorn on my scrawlings? Well, I wouldn't want these first chapters buried under my later ones so they wouldn't see 'em.

I might just go away and revise my future additions for a while.

I'm finding all of everyone's comments terribly, terribly useful by the way.

Where is everyone, then? By the way.
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Old 07-24-2006, 07:51 AM
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I see you haven't met our most ruthless critics. Actually, there's some truth to that: the fiction forum mod is very strict when it comes to grammar and punctuation. She'd probably find many things I missed, though I do try to follow her example.

Lots of people are on vacation. I myself will be gone for a week starting tomorrow. I think things will pick up again in August.
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Old 07-24-2006, 08:04 AM
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Going anywhere nice? Have fun.
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Old 07-24-2006, 08:06 AM
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Depends on what you call nice. Family reunion type thing for my grandparents' 60th anniversary. Minnesota.
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Old 07-24-2006, 06:51 PM
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Hey, hey. Good morning! God, it's nearly time to get up. Few things I picked up:

'It is all I can do to stop myself from laughing, uncontrollably, like some deranged madman!' - maybe drop the first comma?

'Satisfied, the man called Burnaby slowly pushes back his chair and stands up.' - how d'you think it sounds without the underlined? I think better...

'Revenge is what drives this man; bloody, terrible, victorious revenge!' - I think you've said 'this man' a couple of times in the preceding paragraph - I think 'him' instead would do the job here.

'taking up a ridiculous amount of space on the platform is a contentedly plump milking cow' - can I be really pretentious? Thanks ... 'milch cow'.

'Viper had jet-black, slick, shoulder length hair and weak looking, pale skin' - not sure about 'weak-looking skin'. I se that the paleness of his skin makes him look weak, but I'd probably say 'unhealthy-looking' or something similar?

Think that's it for now - I rather liked this bit, though I'm not too keen on present-tense stuff either, in general. I like the bits where you take time to describe the scene, so the pace of the action varies - bit of a breather, if you like. I thought we were mostly Christians by the 1400s - wasn't divining a bit frowned-upon by this stage? Again, I don't actually know the answer to that. The only history I remember is the Cold War and Watergate.

Oh, and while I'm here, thank you for your posts on my thread - I regard reading your stuff not as an obligation but a pleasure
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Old 07-25-2006, 12:24 AM
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Hey, hey indeedy!

Originally Posted by lucyj
Hey, hey. Good morning! God, it's nearly time to get up. Few things I picked up:

Night owl, are you?

'It is all I can do to stop myself from laughing, uncontrollably, like some deranged madman!' - maybe drop the first comma?

'Satisfied, the man called Burnaby slowly pushes back his chair and stands up.' - how d'you think it sounds without the underlined? I think better...

'Revenge is what drives this man; bloody, terrible, victorious revenge!' - I think you've said 'this man' a couple of times in the preceding paragraph - I think 'him' instead would do the job here.

All good spots, thanks.

'taking up a ridiculous amount of space on the platform is a contentedly plump milking cow' - can I be really pretentious? Thanks ... 'milch cow'.

Well, I've never come across that word before, so I'll educate myself and then make a decision. Cool, I get a critique and learn new things at the same time

'Viper had jet-black, slick, shoulder length hair and weak looking, pale skin' - not sure about 'weak-looking skin'. I se that the paleness of his skin makes him look weak, but I'd probably say 'unhealthy-looking' or something similar?

Yeah, I hear what you're saying, and I agree.

Think that's it for now - I rather liked this bit, though I'm not too keen on present-tense stuff either, in general. I like the bits where you take time to describe the scene, so the pace of the action varies - bit of a breather, if you like. I thought we were mostly Christians by the 1400s - wasn't divining a bit frowned-upon by this stage? Again, I don't actually know the answer to that. The only history I remember is the Cold War and Watergate.

I've changed the tense stuff on my master copy. I suppose I should make the changes here so that new readers don't mention the same things....but then again, it's nice to hear a consensus. Sometimes it's better that three people hate a sentence or passage, than having two who like it and one that doesn't!

As for the divination thing, yes you have a good point. One that I was hoping I could just get away with. But, yes, in that period in this region you had Christians hunting heretics so I'm going to have to come up with a good justification for Seer's presence and acceptance. I think I'll change some of the descriptive parts about the mercenary army to explain that they're godless heathens. I could have it that they witnessed Seer 'summon' a storm of something, and now they believe his dark gods are on their side. It's a question of how much I am allowed to ignore historical facts to suit my attempts to bring in 'amusing' story elements. Seer doesn't need to be there, he's not actually going to do much, but I just liked the idea of him

Oh, and while I'm here, thank you for your posts on my thread - I regard reading your stuff not as an obligation but a pleasure

Well, that's lovely of you to say so, thanks. I enjoy your writing style too, but you know the genre-problem I'm having I still want to try and be helpful to you though.
I had a poke around on the forum last night, but couldn't see any other uploads of work from yourself. Point one out if I've missed one.

Edit: Scrap that, I've just seen one. I'll read it at lunch time
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Last edited by Jimbo; 07-25-2006 at 12:27 AM..
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Old 07-25-2006, 02:00 PM
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Hi there Jimbo,

First impression when I started reading: where there hell are Bernie and Ralph, but I knew it was a short chapter so no probs

At a large, expensive writing table, in a richly furnished study, in a fortified country estate, sits a portly middle-aged man. Wearing a fine bearskin cloak, the man is hunched over a letter and dashing away happily with his quill, occasionally chortling quietly to himself.
you got a bit carried away with the ins here... also would you be dashing away happily with your quill, I keep thinking of a jolly fat man dashing away on a horse


Still battling with the tense I see does need some work...

“Charles!” A roaring bellow. After mere moments, a thin, haunted-looking servant appears. Burnaby clears his throat and says “take this letter to the same place as last time. Ask no questions, do not stop, and mention it to anyone else at your peril!”
I feel the else in and mention it to anyone else at your peril is a bit redundant...


Ok onto Chapter Three... Still no Bernie and Ralph...
For me, anyway, this Chapter is in the wrong place and should in fact come later on...
I take it that Ralph and Bernie somehow end up in France - hence the two knights abroad - and Gray and Viper are involved.

Also you've been far more descriptive with Gray/Viper than you've been with Bernie and Ralph - our heroes? I would suggest shortening certain descriptive passages, although well written, that are not adding to your story at this point. And in this case I feel are slowing down the pace...

Just me but, I find the story flows better with Chapter four becoming Chapter three and inserting Chapter three later in the tale when we really need to know about Gray and Viper with his bloody dirty fingernails...

Now I can go see Bernie and Ralph
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Old 07-25-2006, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Joewood
Hi there Jimbo,

Hiya, thought you were busy! Yay, that you're not anymore though.

First impression when I started reading: where there hell are Bernie and Ralph, but I knew it was a short chapter so no probs

hahah

you got a bit carried away with the ins here... also would you be dashing away happily with your quill, I keep thinking of a jolly fat man dashing away on a horse

Ah, I've read 'dashing away' used in regard to pens, pencils, paintbrushes, all sorts of things.

Still battling with the tense I see does need some work...

I know, it's a sign that I am an untrained, undisciplined writer Gotta focus on it!

I feel the else in and mention it to anyone else at your peril is a bit redundant...

You're spot on.

Ok onto Chapter Three... Still no Bernie and Ralph...

Hahaha

For me, anyway, this Chapter is in the wrong place and should in fact come later on...
I take it that Ralph and Bernie somehow end up in France - hence the two knights abroad - and Gray and Viper are involved.

I think it's not giving away too much to say, yep. And yeah, I completely regret bringing this chapter forward now.

Also you've been far more descriptive with Gray/Viper than you've been with Bernie and Ralph - our heroes? I would suggest shortening certain descriptive passages, although well written, that are not adding to your story at this point. And in this case I feel are slowing down the pace...

Ok, I'll give it some thought, for sure. And Ralph and Bernard were too busy to give a description of them in Chapter 1, I think. You pick up enough about Bernard, I think...but maybe I could pop in a few details about Ralph in the first chapter to make the descriptive problem in chapter 4 not so great

Just me but, I find the story flows better with Chapter four becoming Chapter three and inserting Chapter three later in the tale when we really need to know about Gray and Viper with his bloody dirty fingernails...

Yep, yep, yep, yep.

Now I can go see Bernie and Ralph

Hope I've not dissapoited you too much. Consider this chapter moved and 'Bernie' and Ralph brought forwards.
Thank you very much for finding the time for me!

Cheerio,
James
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Old 07-25-2006, 03:33 PM
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I was busy, my 15 year old son - Joshua - is arriving for his holidays on Monday so lots to prepare and make room for the hulk of a kid who came out of me

Judging by your reaction Jimbo you had thought about the order thing before...

Sometimes moving things around, gives you a new perspective and with it insight...

Glad to be of assistance...
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Old 02-12-2008, 05:57 AM
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Hope I'm not too late . . .

***
Chapter Two


In a fortified country estate, a portly middle-aged man sat at an expensive writing desk in the middle of a richly furnished study. Clad in a fine bearskin cloak, the man was[just 'hunched' actually paints the picture] hunched over a letter, dashing away happily with his quill he occasionally chortled quietly to himself. [Might be good as a separate sentence]


It was not long before he finished writing. He put the quill to one side and read through his composition, checking carefully for mistakes.



My Lord,


As you predicted, the King has ordered yet more soldiers to France. I have played the good little vassal and will be sending along all the men I can spare.


Silly me though, I seem to have left large regions of the coast that fall under my care all but unguarded. [I had to read this twice to understand it. Is there a better way to word this? Might just be me, though.]


I will be leaving with my men for France soon. I can delay no longer, or even this fool of a monarch will question why I remain at home when there is ‘fun’ to be had carving up France.


Rest assured my Lord, whilst in France I shall find a fair-sized and discreet port where you may put the finishing touches to the plan.


It is all I can do to stop myself from laughing uncontrollably, like some deranged madman! Ha, ha! [Funny he would actually write this! Reminded me of part of a Monty Python skit.]


I wish you luck in finding that cursed girl, if she has not been re-captured already.


I leave you now, your most humble of servants,





Burnaby





Satisfied, Burnaby slowly pushed back his chair and stood up. He tugged his cloak back into place, fussing about the way it hung upon his bulk,[comma here] and strode over to a large window. He gazed thoughtfully at the landscape, but with his mind elsewhere he was blind to the lush, green fields and distant, sandy beaches. He was struck by a name. “Theresa,” he murmured, with just an edge of sadness. He shook his head in wobbly-jowled resignation before returning his thoughts to the source of his earlier mirth. A small chuckle was stifled before he could become the ‘deranged madman’ of his letter.


The ink should be dry, by now,” he said aloud. He returned to his desk, folded the letter and applied his wax seal.


Charles!” A roaring bellow.[A sentence fragment. Lol. Did you mean to say that he roared this, or a roaring bellow followed his call for Charles?] After mere moments, a thin, haunted-looking servant appeared. Burnaby cleared his throat and said, [comma]take [capitalize] this letter to the same place as last time. Ask no questions, do not stop, and mention it to another soul at your peril!”


Burnaby was stern, but he failed to notice the servant’s expression, which said, “Yes, yes. I have done this a thousand times you fat old coot, and I want no part of whatever you be planning anyway!” [I can picture his expression perfectly because of this sentence]


The servant left the room[Might work better as a separate sentence] and Burnaby harrumphed and returned to his window. Within moments he was laughing again and only just regained control before he began an impromptu jig, right there, by the window, for the whole world to see. [A crazy man, to be sure]

Chapter Three


[Yay! Villains! I love villains! You have some really awesome descriptions of these villains in here, though you might want to cut or combine where necessary as not to disturb the flow of the story. Someone had mentioned that you had wonderful descriptions of these characters (which you do) and not enough of our protagonists (if you can call Bernard that). This is true, but what you'd been minimal in description was made up with the great hook and fast pace of the first chapter; something publishers, who normally glance at the first few pages or so, look for.]


I also know someone mentioned that he thought you had too many villains and you'd have to split villainous characteristics amongst them. I disagree. (Sorry!) In fiction, villains tend to work in packs, with one 'head honcho' and many patsies to do his horrible bidding. And this is fine. (Though I might be biased since I have four villains, each more heartless than the last) But each of your villains seems to have his own major trait that you could work upon in the storyline and though some of their terrible traits may overlap, they each bring their own twist to the story, which makes it all the more interesting.]

A rather short man stood upon a hastily constructed wooden platform. It resembled a hangman’s gibbet, but it had been put together merely so that this man might rise above the several thousand others who were gathered around him, waiting less than patiently for him to speak.


The man on the platform looks[looked] cruel, puppy-kicking cruel. Practically bald, he is[was] advanced in years to a point where he has[had] become bitter and resentful of youth and vitality. Nothing has[had] ever gone right for him:[colon here]exiled from his home for treason, disowned by all those he loved and hated by those he used to call friend. The taste of bitterness coats[coated] everything this man consumes [consumed], the thirst for revenge upon those who have[had] wronged him is[was] something that no quantity of wine has[ever] [Yes, ever.] [Lol.] slaked over the years. [A bit of tense trouble here, though it does indeed paint a great picture in the mind of this man. Wherever possible, try to change words like 'was,' 'were,' and the like to more active verbs. Sometimes it isn't possible, but like with 'was hunched' up above, removing the 'was' could only make the word 'hunched' stronger.]


Revenge is what[unneeded] drives[drove] him; bloody, terrible, victorious revenge!


He will have that revenge. He, Lord Grey will triumph! Seer has[had] foretold it. [Great lead-in to the next character]

Seer - a strange name, more of a job title than a name one would think. But nevertheless, Seer is[was] the name that the deeply cloaked and hooded figure to Lord Grey’s right answers[answered] to. Clad in heavy and ridiculously voluminous dark brown robes, not a scrap of this person’s flesh could be seen. Inside the hood was only shadow and, ok, [watch 'ok'] maybe just the suggestion of the tip of a nose. The sleeves of the robe fell way past the man’s hands, and the hem bunched up on the floor. Something about Seer’s stance suggested that the creature inside was skinny at best. It looked as though the robe had been draped precariously over a bundle of tall sticks, or as [unneeded] had been blown over a winter-bare bush and gotten snagged. [Another awesome description here!]


Sat at what are presumed to be Seer’s feet, [no comma] was a large sack. The sack writhed continuously, [just saying it writhed gives it the feel of constant motion] as though it were stuffed full of kittens, [no comma] unknowingly destined for some cold riverbed. Behind Seer,[comma] and taking up a ridiculous amount of space on the platform, [comma]was[Perhaps a stronger verb?] a contentedly plump cow. The animal was just standing there, slowly chewing on some cud, placidly watching the world go by. [You could combine this last sentence with the former: Behind Seer . . . stood a contentedly plump cow slowly chewing on some cud, placidly watching . . . ]


Lord Grey had noticed the cow, [semicolon] how could he not? He was used to Seer’s weird ways, but this was something new, this was different, [set this off for emphasis] even for Seer. He did not like to encourage Seer though, so he just ignored the bovine mystery for the time being. He had a speech to make to the rowdy crowd of soldiers, mercenaries, criminals and downright basic scum, but he could not start until his damned bodyguard returned.


Right on queue,[cue] a gentle whisper [missing some verb here?] in his left ear. “My liege.” [Here's a good place for a new paragraph] Viper, returned at last from some private rendezvous. Lord Grey found it slightly disturbing, to put it mildly, that his bodyguard was also, quite openly, an assassin for hire to the highest bidder. Lord grey [capitalize] would turn to speak to Viper, only to find him gone, flitting away to fulfil[missing an 'l'] some dark contract. Then, like now, he would return, wiping bloody hands on a rag he kept in a pocket just for that purpose. The underneaths of Viper’s fingernails were always red. Sometimes his teeth were red-stained too. It was most disconcerting to Lord Grey, who was essentially a civilised man of good breeding. Lord Grey would dispense with Viper’s services in an instant…were it not for the fact that the man, long ago, had seemed to read his thoughts and whispered in his ear, (always his left ear) [capitalize 'try'] “try it and I will do you. For free.” Further elaboration saw Viper reveal, quite candidly, that he had been hired to kill Lord Grey but found it amusing to protect him, knowing that from now on the man feared death at Viper’s literally bloody hands.


Viper had jet-black, slick, shoulder length[hyphenate] hair that contrasted against pale skin. He was lithe, acrobatic and wore a surprisingly light, pastel green tunic and trousers, although much of his outfit was stained brown with old blood. No weapons were visible about his person, but the man’s creepy grey eyes gave you the impression he was about to nod and casually give you a flash of some kind of rusty, serrated and unwholesomely painful looking implement. [Another wonderful description! You might be able to trim down the one before this one]


Lord Grey surveyed the scene before him. This large field was where his army was camped[could be changed to active voice: His army camped in the large field before him. (And if you do this, the 'before him' in the previous sentence could be cut)] while he waited for the last few recruits to drift in. He knew exactly how many men he needed to complete his plan, to ensure that his victory was all encompassing and would leave him in a position of entirely unassailable supremacy. He was nearly there. Another thousand eager blades, he thought, and then they would set off. Of course the final timing depended upon that idiot Burnaby. A useful idiot, but an idiot nonetheless.

For now though, his vagabond army was growing impatient. Many of them had been there for a couple of months with nothing to do but wait, fight each other, drink and gamble on fights between whatever animals they could capture in the surrounding countryside. The land in these parts offered slim pickings for the animal fight enthusiast, for men accustomed to cock or dog fights, [no comma; insert 'and'] even titanic scraps between bears. However, deprive two male squirrels of their nuts and the skilled animal baiter can lay on a semi-decent rodent battle for the punters. [Yeee! I loved this line] But, no matter how long you half-starve a hedgehog, or poke it with sticks, it just lacks the…the…naked ferocity, to launch itself at another animal, whilst drunk, sweaty men bay for it’s blood. [And this one too.] To put it simply, these men were restless, bored and edgy.


Lord Grey had impressed upon all of them, under pain of death [comma here] that no one was to go near an inhabited area. If the secrecy of their mission was compromised then that was it, it was over. No pay, no loot, no pillaging, no women, but, he assured them, plenty of random executions. [Indeed!] Even so, his control over this nasty collection of what he liked to think of as the cream of the dregs of humanity[I think this should be off-set by single quotes] was slim at best. Only the prospect of the freedom to indulge in one of the largest acts of chaotic carnage known to mankind was what kept them here and what kept them, barely, in check.


Lord Grey cleared his throat. A few of the assembled mass close enough to hear stopped their own conversations and waited for him to speak. Nobody else noticed. Lord Grey had to get their attention. [Good place for a new paragraph] He raised his right arm, elbow crooked to bring his hand up level with his face. He clicked[Perhaps clicked is all right for fingers. Still reminds me of a tongue noise] his fingers. Immediately, Seer reached into the sack at his feet, rummaged around for a moment, winced as though he had been bitten, and then withdrew his arm. His hand was now revealed and as expected it was painfully skinny. [You could trim this down and combine it with the following sentence: 'His painfully skinny hand clutched a scrawny. . .' And since he's now holding the chicken up, his hand would naturally be revealed so no need to make mention of it.] The hand clutched a scrawny, blinking chicken. He raised both his arms to the sky, the heavy sleeves of his robe falling back, to reveal near skeletal arms. The hand not holding the chicken was clutching[clutched, though that's been used already] a wicked, jagged dagger. Seer swayed from side to side for a few moments, making a strange keening noise and waving his arms slowly. Bit by bit, the crowd noticed what he was doing. They had seen this before so they knew that something was afoot.


With great speed, Seer brought both arms down and briefly crossed them in front of his torso. The knife seemed to just nick the chicken, but that was enough to make innards erupt onto the floor in front of him. [Ewww! Nicely written. Good use of 'erupt.'] A twist of his hand and the un-bloodied knife seemed to vanish [comma here] then Seer fell to his knees and stirred around in the chicken’s entrails with his two forefingers.


Lord Grey shouted, “My Seer consults his demons, [no comma] to see if the time is right to move on to the next phase of the plan!” Lord Grey’s[You could use 'His' since we already know Lord Grey is speaking] words were relayed around the crowd and translated into half a dozen languages by various strategically placed interpreters. This was truly a motley collection of scum, scraped out of the cesspits of almost a dozen lands. [The reader has already gathered this (except for the 'dozen lands' part), so this sentence might be unnecessary if you make mention of the 'army's' diversity earlier on.]


Seer muttered and tutted to himself, [no comma] as he made piles out of little bits of chicken gut and considered them anxiously from a variety of awkward angles. [Nicely succinct]


Motionless, Viper scanned the crowd.


Lord Grey tapped one foot impatiently. He did not really like it when Seer upstaged him like this. [All three of these sentences could be combined into their own paragraph]


Seer stood up, and quietly intoned, [capitalize]nothing.”


Lord Grey’s brow furrowed. “Curses. Try again!”


Seer went back into his sack, this time he came out with what looked like a small terrapin. It was determinedly and savagely biting on his finger. He shook it to the floor desperately and stamped on it. [Ouch! Poor terrapin! I supposed it asked for it, though] Then he fell to his knees again, and started sifting through bits of shell and flesh.


After an interminable amount of time, he stood up again and, speaking quite lifelessly said, [capitalize]yes.” [And this sentence could be brought up to the previous paragraph]


Excellent!” Lord Grey addressed the crowd again. “The Seer has spoken! The time is right for me to unleash you!” A huge roar of approval and pent-up frustration came from the masses. [I could hear this perfectly!] “But,” continued Lord Grey, “this is only a training mission. You will go from here by ship, across to the southeast coast of France. There, night after night you will raid towns and villages, you will learn to act as a co-ordinated force, leaders will be identified, and we shall make a proper army of you!” [So there!]


Not many in the crowd liked this. They thought that Lord Grey had been about to reveal the final details of the big plan. Two-bit looting and ransacking was beneath such a force, they thought collectively. [You're dipping into the crowd's mind. Is this chapter Lord Grey's POV or omniscient? If not omniscient, you could make the crowd's reaction a little more on the surface (annoyed looks, angered cries and such) just before the one man in the front calls out.] What the hell did they need training for? Why would they want to be an army? Most of them had probably deserted from at least one army or another in their time. One man, quite near the front [comma] voiced his disapproval. “Oi! We just want to get on with it! You brought us here for a reason! We want the loot. We want what was promised to us! We want it now!” He spoke [he said? Unless you're trying to make specific note of his accent, then it's fine.]in French-accented English.


Lord Grey glanced briefly, nervously at Viper. He was gladdened to see that Viper was looking the other way, daydreaming and clearly taking no notice of the malcontent….


You’ve got so much money, why don’t we just take it off you?” [Mutiny!]The troublemaker was gaining support,[semicolon] now others were nodding. Lord Grey brought his left arm up sharply. He clicked his fingers and, without really seeming to move, Viper just kind of…twitched…briefly. The whining mercenary collapsed on the spot with a knife in his throat. He got blood on his neighbour’s boot, much to that man’s disapproval. [Great line]


After a few seconds of stunned silence there was a general, angry surge towards the platform. Lord Grey held up his hands to placate. “With that idiot’s death, there is more money, more of the spoils of war for the rest of you!” He [lowercase] shouted.


The mob stopped and mentally scratched their heads as they thought about it and as the translations filtered around. Momentarily, there came a ragged, but unanimous cheer. [Again, nicely succinct]

To be honest, the more of you that die the better.”


Huh?” Spoke the voice of the crowd. [Lol! Though 'spoke' should be lowercase]


Oh, no, I mean, the more of you that die, the better for those that live! You will all be as rich as Kings!” [No capitalization for 'kings' since it's not a proper noun and he's saying 'kings' in general.]


Ah!” Went [lowercase]the crowd and then, with another short pause to accommodate the language barriers, “hurray!” [capitalize]


One bright spark suddenly decided that right here right now he could guarantee himself a bigger future payout. He whispered something in a friend’s ear and then the two of them plunged their daggers into a fat crossbowman in front of them. This was the signal for a general, mass-murderous brawl to break out, as more and more men came to the same logical, if somewhat unsound conclusion. [Oh no! Chaos! Lord Grey has certainly got his hands full]


Lord Grey stared aghast and his jaw dropped. "Ah, I may have taken that a tad too far..." he[capitalize]looked to Viper, hoping the eerily calm assassin would have a way to stop this riot before it ended Grey’s plans here and now. Unfortunately, Viper chose that very moment to give a small “yip,” [no comma] of pleasure, [no comma] before diving headlong from the platform into a knot of Spanish bandits who were busy garroting some perplexed German pikemen with the strings of their hunting bows. [Good place for a new paragraph] Frantically, Lord Grey turned to Seer [comma] who was already desperately trying to divine a solution from the still warm innards of a newly gutted rabbit. The panicking Lord hurried across and peered expectantly over Seer’s shoulder. The hooded one’s readings came to an end, [period] he stood up and shook his imperceptible head[his head was imperceptible?] at Lord Grey. “The entrails are cloudy,” he breathed.


I am paying you for this am I![I'm paying you for this, am I?]Hissed Lord Grey in exasperation. He slapped Seer’s hand away as it quested once again towards the sack, [no comma] prior to answering Grey’s rhetorical question. Lord Grey spun in a half circle, mind reeling for a way to halt the growing maelstrom. Seer’s unexplained cow came into view and, unthinking, Lord Grey lashed out at it with a frustrated boot. The animal bellowed mightily in pain. A nearby group of dishonoured French men-at-arms looked up in surprise at the sound, dropping the unidentifiable cutthroat they had been pummelling. Ah-ha, [Aha!] Lord Grey had their attention back. He booted the cow again, [no comma] and got a deeper, louder moo of protest. A wider ring of mercenaries looked up from the ruckus. [New paragraph] Seer ran in between Lord Grey and the cow,[period] “Blossom!” He wailed reproachfully, flinging his arms around the beast’s neck and making soothing sounds. It did not matter, Lord Grey was busy shouting at those who would listen now, ordering them to stop and slowly, eventually, thankfully [You could set this off with em dashes]the word carried and the impromptu hostilities ceased.


A rustle of air and Lord Grey’s left ear recorded[recorded?] the words “my liege,[no comma]” spoken quietly over his shoulder. Grey twisted his head,[no comma] just in time to see Viper stuff what looked very much like part of a human ear into his pocket. [Ewww!]He did not want to think about it, he did not want to know what Viper was chewing and neither did he want to know just how many of his idiotic hirelings had just slaughtered each other. He spotted what he hoped was one of his least stupid captains and ordered the man to get the mess sorted out, to do a head count and get back to him. On second thoughts, he told the man to do a head count of attached heads only… [Lol!]


Surveying the disordered scene around him, Lord Grey [That's what you'd been calling him throughout. Consistency is key] hoped that the damage had not been too bad; they could probably replace the dead in a day or so, as volunteers were drifting in all the time. He would get the group captains together this evening and brief them on the next stages of the plan. A few destroyed villages in France were a small price to pay in the run up to his moment of triumph. His need for revenge would be seen to at last.


Giving the situation some more thought, Lord Grey decided his troops would move out the very next day. No expense had been spared and he had enough privately built or hired ships to take the vast majority of his troops to the French coast from this secret location in Italy right now. He would leave a trusted captain or two behind to welcome in other mercenaries as they arrived and those could be ferried across as his ships carried out shuttling runs.


Lord Grey regarded Seer, who was still hugging his affronted cow. “Seer. Why?” He asked, gesturing at the animal.


Blossom holds the answer,” came the monotone reply.


To what, now?”


To the question.”


To the question I just asked?”


No, to the question.”


I see,” nodded Grey, slowly. [One cannot 'nod' words. He could say it with a nod, though: ' “I see,” said Lord Grey with a slow nod.' or you could make it into a beat: ' “I see.” Lord Grey nodded slowly.']“What question would that be, again, though?”

The question will become apparent with time. Then shall Blossom bear her fruit.”


I do not know about a cow bearing fruit,” mused Lord Grey. “Does this one bear any milk? I am terribly thirsty,” he asked hopefully. [Unneeded because of the previous attribute]But when Seer made a move towards his still-wriggling sack, Lord Grey screamed [comma] “Just squeeze the bloody tits, or I shall set Viper on you!”


Well, I loved this chapter with the villains. I know you'd mentioned moving it to bring forth Ralph and Bernard again, but in a multiple POV book, alternating POVs throughout might be your best bet. It will amp up the tension better.


Must. Read. More.


Great work! Especially with regard to the physical descriptions.


Devon
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Old 02-12-2008, 06:36 AM
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Holy moley...thanks Devon. Glad you liked it. I really thought I'd edited my original post to get rid of the tense problems. Sorry they're still there, I must've neglected to save last time I edited!

As for the rest, lots of good points again. Essential patch-up work to make this piece actually qualify as English!

A thousand thank yous, and were you within range; a nice cream and jam scone for your troubles.
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Old 02-12-2008, 07:21 AM
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Yummy! A cream and jam scone. And you're welcome. As I said, it's fun to critique (even with a wiggly ten-month-old in my arms) and your story is very entertaining. I'm enjoying it very much.
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Old 02-27-2008, 07:33 AM
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Let's see what we got.

Rest assured, my Lord, whilst in France I shall find a fair-sized and discreet port where you may put the finishing touches to the plan.
Comma after assured.


I have done this a thousand times, you fat old coot, and I want no part of whatever you be planning anyway!”
Comma after times and the 'fat' just made me laugh. I had a conversation with a friend about this. Have you ever noticed that when someone is insulting someone, they always have to through 'fat' or 'big' in there. lol


The man on the platform looks cruel, puppy-kicking cruel
That's pretty cruel. lol


Lord grey would turn to speak to Viper, only to find him gone, flitting away to fulfil some dark contract.
I think that's spelled "wrong." Two "l's". Fulfill.


Otherwise, I didn't catch anything else today.

The overall appeal of Chapter Two was...well...like you said, short - so QUICK. In both chapters, things were moving a little slower and we were learning a lot about other characters, which help with character development, but can be slow sometimes. It was a little slower for your story because of the comedic form you were trying to appeal to before and how it had to mold into informational styles for development. Hard to do sometimes. You, however, did really good on the development, and your vocie was very clear on details. Nicely done.
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Old 02-27-2008, 02:36 PM
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Thanks again Oasis Writer. I'll see if I can tighten up chapter 3 a bit, I think it does need a bit more pace. I'm not sure there's a great deal I can do with chapter 2, what with it being so short...

You'll probably find chapter 4 a bit slow too, in fact, I think chapter 1 gives an initial, false impression of pace because there's some action, then after that...lots of talking. I'm also not sure what I can do about that.

Plenty more planning and head scratching for me to do, it would seem
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