Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Mom Thinks I'm Talented, Surely You Will Too

Hi all.

I know this is generally a political blog, but hey, it's mine so I can do what I want in it. I have been working lately on a fantasy story. I think I've finished the first chapter, and would like the editorial feedback of the void. (Note, Blogger apparently does not like Copy and Paste from Word, so the formatting is a little funky).

It was a dark and stormy night-

“-and WET! Skye, why are we out in the middle of this goddess-forsaken forest in the middle of the Dark One’s NIGHT?” whined a high-pitched voice that was strangely musical, like listening to the tinkling of bells, if those bells were annoyed and petulant.
“I think the better question, Della, is when are you going to realize that whining about our condition is not going to improve it any?” said a brisk, professional voice that was just this edge of annoyed. “Besides, Fluffy tells me that there’s a settlement not too far up ahead. We can rest there”.
“I can’t even FLY in this weather!” Della moaned. “Why can’t I ride on Fluffy’s head?”
“Because,” Skye explained with the degrading patience of one who has had to repeat herself “The last time you tried to do that, he tried to eat you.”
“Maybe I should do that anyway” Della mumbled. “It may smell like dog breathe, but I bet it’s dryer in his mouth”.
Fluffy snapped his tail at the little pixie riding on his back, who stuck out her tongue in response, a pointless endeavor since she was invisible.
“Stupid little pup, I have all the power of the universe at my finger tips, why I could-”
“Hush, oh-ye-who-complains” Skye commanded. “There’s a village right up there. We’ll spend the night at an inn”.
The community that Skye referred to was a group of houses that could barely be referred to as a “village”. A wooden wall, weathered and faded with loose boards ran around the length of the community, the barest protection against wolves and other wild beasts. A sleepy guard, who looked like he would let all of the underworld in if it meant he could get out of the rain and in front of a warm fire, did the barest of inspections on Skye’s face before opening the gate. The main road was wide enough for two horses to pass side by side, if the riders weren’t too wide, and currently was less a road and more of a muddy swimming hole. The houses, much like the gate, were weather-worn and faded, but unlike the gate well-maintained and white washed. Reddish-orange glows seeped out through the windows, promising warmth and comfort against the miserable grey rain and wind. There were very few people out during this weather, and the ones who were out were bent over against the wind, hurrying to get out of the weather again.
Skye took the supplies off of Fluffy, and slung them over her back, as Della, who was still invisible, flung open the inn door. The innkeeper saw the door open, and thinking the wind blew it open, went to go shut it. Once he was upon, the door, he looked up and saw Skye and her mount. “You can’t keep that here,” said the innkeeper with a note of panic. “I’d be afraid it’d eat the horses”.
Fluffy snorted at the innkeeper. Skye gave him a look that clearly communicated “Behave” and to the innkeeper said “No worries, he will keep to himself.” With another look, Fluffy bounded off towards the village gate, and into the woods beyond. “Innkeeper, I would like to rent a room for the night.”
The innkeeper sniffed “2 silver for the night, and that includes a breakfast in the morning”.
“And by “two silver”, you actually mean 2 bronze, right?” Skye said.
The innkeeper looked hard at Skye’s well-worn cloak, and her taut muscles clearly visible under her shirt, nearly translucent from the rain. “I mean 3 bronze for the night, and mind you don’t drip on my freshly washed floors”. With that he stormed back into the inn.
Skye walked in, shook the most of the water off her cloak at the door, and walked to the fireplace. In the dimly lit common room, one was capable of seeing her features more clearly. Her face, under the mud of the road, was a pearly white that seemed almost phosphorescent, and had the high cheek bones and angular features that were common among her people. Her pointed ears peeked out behind dark black hair, which was currently plastered against here head and strands were falling out of her waist-length braid. She wore a sturdy linen shirt, which was fraying a bit at the collar and wrists and had patches on the elbows, and dark black pants. Over the shirt was a deer-skin vest, bleached in some places from the sun, and dark brown where it was wet. If one was particularly observant (or looking for something to steal) one might notice the amber pendant that was on her chest, between her nearly non-existent breasts. If one was very observant, they would see a dagger hidden under her sleeves, strapped to her forearm. Slung across her back were a long-bow and a quiver of arrows.
The inn itself was crowded from travelers forced in from the rain. The smell of wet human musk was heavy in the air, and mingled with the smell of smoky pine wood and stale ale. The fire threw off a great deal of heat, but the warm light seemed to disappear shortly after leaving the fireplace, giving one the uncomfortable feeling of being stuck inside a jack-o-lantern. On such a hellish night, it was quiet, with no one interested in the music of a travelling bard or the antics of a story-teller. Low murmurs emanated from shadowy corners, almost unheard over the crackling of the fireplace and the clanking of mugs and sloshing of ale.
While Skye was warming herself by the fire, and quietly contemplating what the next day had to bring, Della was getting bored. Now, as a general rule, a pixie should not be bored, both as a positive and a normative statement. Pixies are easily distracted, and can find the flickering of fire or the sparkling of the stars entertaining for hours on end. Many believe this is because pixies are simple-minded creatures, but they would be dangerously wrong. Pixies say it is because they are penetrating the veil of the universe but aren’t going to tell and then stick out their tongues and float away; but generally it is good advice not to believe the word of a pixie. But when pixies do get bored, they generally decide to remedy this ennui by introducing chaos into the world.
This particular Pixie was not only bored, but offended at the innkeeper for his rudeness towards her friend, and looking to cause mischief. First, she decided that there was a special discount for pixies on honey mead (namely, free). After taking advantage of the discount, she went to look for a key to take or a book to misplace (as a nod to her gremlin brethren) but was instead distracted by the sound of voices from under the floor.
“That’s weird,” she thought, “floors don’t normally talk”. After a bit of investigating (and twenty minutes being distracted by candlelight flickering off a shinny kettle) she discovered a trap door, hidden under a rug.
“Hmm”, thought Della. “Hidden places, with hidden voices normally means hidden fun”. She fluttered down the stairs, unseen, into the dark room.
“Please sirs, my daughter is my life,” pleaded the self-same innkeeper that had, moments before, told Skye the price of the room. “She was taken from me, and the Duke will do nothing to get her back. I’m afraid that she’ll be sacrificed at the harvest moon, in three days time”.
“While I regret the loss of your daughter, I myself am on a far more important quest” intoned a voice. Della shivered involuntarily; the voice rasped like a dry quill across a death certificate. He was not speaking loudly, but his words still carried through the dark cellar. As Della flew around the corner, she saw three people talking with the innkeeper. The first, the one the voice clearly belonged to, was clothed in black breast-plate with a raven holding a skull in it's talons. A mace that looked like a skull was slung on his back. He seemed to drain the light out of wherever he was standing. Standing aside from him was a man dressed in simple garb; a loose tunic and breaches, and a cape with the hood down. He kept playing with the edges of his sleeves, and Pixie would bet a pretty shiny that he had daggers down there, but couldn’t see any to be sure. The last one in the room was a halfling that almost escaped Della’s notice, who kept creeping around the edge of the firelight. After watching the little sneak, Della noticed him look straight at where she was flying. She paused, involuntarily, but then remembered that she was invisible and no one can see her, not that they no enough to look. But then Della noticed something rather odd: the little hafling’s shadow seemed to be looking at her too. Della shook her head, thinking she needed to lay off the honey mead a bit, and then noticed that the shadow disappeared.
“Must have moved too far away from the lantern” thought Della. At that point, the shadow that had been growing behind her reached out and wrapped its black arms around her.
“Look what I found” squeaked the halfling in an inordinately happy voice. The party looked at the shadow, which seemed to be thrashing about with itself.
The man in the dark robes, after looking at the struggle said “You may as well show yourself, invisible one”.
Della, deciding that it wasn’t worth her effort to fight these people, turned visible. Turning with her cutest look, she asked “Could you let me out of this, halfling?”
“Ok,” said the halfling with a smitten look. The shadow started to loosen his arms.
“I would advice against that” said the dark lord. “We don’t know what she’s heard, and what she’s seen”.
“Me?” Della said incredulously. She giggled self-consciously. “I haven’t seen or heard anything. Come, Mr. Halfling; what could you possible fear from me? Please, I’m cold.” At this, she batted her eyes at him.
The halfling blushed and chuckled, and the shadow released her grip entirely. Like a shot, Della, was invisible and shot out the top of the trap door.
“Skye, Skye,” Della yelled, flying through people’s mug of beer.
“Della, you know that this is easier when you are visible” Skye said.
“Oh yeah,” she said, going visible. As she became visible, the patrons were startled to see a figure that was about 2 feet tall with butterfly wings out of her back. Her skin was a milky white, and her hair was a bright impatiens pink with a sheen through it. The very tips of her ears poked out from bunches of hair on either side of her head, giving her hair the appearance of a very wild, pink bush. Her eyes seemed impossibly big and were the green of a new buds in spring. She had a quiver of arrows and a bow on her back, and bracers on her arms, and an amulet around her neck, but not too much else. The scraps of clothes that covered her seemed to cover just the basics of propriety; and counter-intuitively, had the effect of making her look more naked than if she would be entirely nude. As she noticed the eyes on her, she winked and smiled at the patrons, enjoying their shock and discomfort.
“If you have had quite enough at teasing the patrons, you seemed like you were in some distress just a moment ago,” Skye said, rolling her eyes.
“Yes, yes I was” said Della, snapping back to attention. “In the basement, the rude jackass was pleading with some evil looking dudes, about a girl and a Duke, and a shadow grabbed me but I defeated it and I need you to attack the dark one”.
“So what I got out of that is “you got in trouble and now someone is chasing after you.” Is that about right?” Skye asked.
“Um,” said Della thinking, “Maybe”.
Walter came out from the kitchen, eyes searching for Della. His eyes seized on her and her companion. “Panzer,” he said, “Seize them”.
In the corner, a figure that everyone had assumed that was a statute gets to his feet. “Okay boss,” its gravely voice responds as it starts it’s slow lumbering towards them.
“This is a mistake” Skye replied evenly, her hands up, but not quite at her bow. “We have done nothing to harm you.”
“Panzer, wait.”
“Okay boss” replied Panzer, instantly stopping.
“If that is the case, why don’t you and your little pixie friend come back here and we can talk…away from the crowd”.
“Give me some assurances to your character, and we will talk rationally” Skye replied.
“Do I have that for both of you?”
“You shall have to ask Della for her own assurances”
“Well, small one?”
“ She just said my name, tall, dark and creepy” said Della.
“Della…remember the moving statute behind us?” asked Skye, with just a hint of worry in her voice.
“Oh, who cares about the moving tin can, I have the powers of the universe at my finger tips, and no dark dummy is going to be rude to me. I happen to be of the perfect size, you know.”
“Enough of this,” said the dark man. “My name is Walter….the Tomb Lord and High one of (figure out what the rest of his titles are). I give you my word that I shall not harm you, and I request your assurance of the same…Della”.
“Okay, fine” said Della happily. Just zoomed towards the kitchen. “Last one there is a rotten egg!”
Walter gave Skye a look like “You travel with this one?”. Skye did a motion that may have been shrug, but may have just been her adjusting her cape.
“Come on Panzer” said Walter.
“Yes boss,” said Panzer.
Once in the kitchen, Walter made a gesture to the other man. Suddenly, a burlap bag snapped into the air, and Della found herself inside of a burlap sack.
“Heh, heh, pixie in a bag” said the man.
“Hey, let me out of here!” yelled Della. “I’ll turn you all into JELLY! Let me out!”
“Tomblord, you promised me safety” Skye said, going for her bow.
“I did, and she is perfectly safe”. Walter replied. “I just need her to stay inside of the room for a bit, and the only way to make sure she does that is to restrain her.”
“Sir, speak your piece, and quickly, and let me go, or golum or no golum, I will take you all on.” Skye said, notching an arrow on her bow.
“I’m not a golum,” said Panzer.
“It can say something other than ‘Yes boss’” asked Della from inside of the bag.
“Yes. I just find most of the time I don’t need to,” said Panzer.
“Huh, that makes sense.” said Della.
“Your pixie doesn’t seem to mind the bag too much,” said the man holding it.
“I’m not her pixie” Della said at the same time Skye said “She’s not my pixie”.
“But you’re right, I am quite comfortable in here” said Della.
“You see? She’s perfectly safe,” said Walter.
Skye put her bow away. “If she doesn’t mind, I don’t mind.”
“By why wouldn’t she mind?” asked the man. “She’s in a burlap sake!”
“Yes, but the sake is full of gold,” said Della. “And jewels. I like sparkly things. I think I’ll put some of these into my own bag, so I have them for later.”
“What?” said the man, swallowing the lie wholesale. “I must have grabbed the wrong bag when I went to nab her!” At this, she went to open the bag. Della, seizing her opportunity, flew out of the bag.
“Wow, you’re dumb,” said Della with a smirk.
“This is a waste of time,” said Walter. “You, Pixie-“
“Name,” Della said in a sing-song voice. “I have a name, you know my name, call me by my name-“
“Della,” Walter said through clenched teeth. “What did you hear downstairs?”
“Well, I heard that you were a meanie that didn’t care about helping this guy’s daughter, and something about a duke…really, I got distracted by a shadow”.
“Then, you heard nothing about my greater quest?” asked the Tomblord?
“Your what?” asked Della.
“We’re done here” said Walter. “We must press on.”
“Please, sir, please!” begged the innkeeper. “I need your help!”
“What is your problem, exactly,” asked Skye.
“My daughter, she has been taken from me,” at this, the inn-keeper started weeping.
Skye, looking around awkwardly, said “Please sir, I cannot help you unless you give me more information.”
“Man, stop crying” said Della, her annoyances at the inn-keeper turning to pity. She hugged his head, “We will help you find your daughter.”
“Truly?” asked the inn-keeper.
Skye looked him straight in the eye. “Truly, good sir. I am at your service.”
“What of the others?” the innkeeper asked.
“They have to make their own decision.”
“Tell your tale, old man, and I’ll see what I can do,” said the man with the burlap bag, ignoring the glare of Walter.
“This morning, in the wee hours of the night, my daughter was getting water from the well. I heard her scream, and went and rushed to find her. The water bucket was overturned and I saw footprints in the ground. I went to the Duke’s representatives, but they didn’t want to do anything. I fear that she will be sacrificed in 3 days, when the full moon rises, for some sort of dark magic”.
“Then I will make way at first light to find her,” said Skye. “Do you have any idea where they may have taken her?”
“My guess is the old castle to the north,” said the Innkeeper. “If you get my daughter back to me, unharmed, you will have my gratitude, and a bag of silver”.
“Shall you be joining us, friend?” Skye addressed the man.
“Aye, Mordain shall help you,” he said after a pause.
“As shall I and Shadow,” said the halfling.
Walter glowered at his party. “Since I have to wait for my party to finish, I might as well help you. At least we can be done quickly. Panzer shall join us as well.”
“Wait a minute,” said Della. “He can talk, he can think, why don’t we ask him what he wants to do?”
“I’ll do whatever the boss tells me to do,” said Panzer.
“Satisfied, Della?” asked Walter, a shadow of a smirk on his face.
Della, sticking out her tongue, did a barrel roll in the air and disappeared.
“Where’d she go?” asked Panzer.
“You get used to it, my friend,” said Skye. “Well, we are all tired, and the trail is going to be dead with this rain anyway. We shall sleep for the night, and then pursue in the early morning. Be ready to leave at 6 bells.”


At 5:34 PM, Blogger vesta44 said...

Having played D & D in the past, this sounds like a pretty cool adventure. Descriptions are very good, it's interesting (obviously, I kept reading to the end....lol). But the conversation seems just a bit stilted, doesn't seem to follow a natural flow. I'm not a writer, just a voracious reader, so that's only my 2 cents' worth, others may have different thoughts. But it is definitely worth continuing the adventure.

At 8:41 AM, Blogger thene said...

I strongly agree with Vesta; the dialogue could sound a lot more natural than it is, as could the way conversations flow.

This seems like a fun setup to a fantasy story. I hope you keep going; prose improves with practice. I've got back to writing lately too (just in fandom, for now), and I think the time I spent writing long blog posts helped me out there; a blog post is a lengthy-but-cohesive statement, and so is a story chapter.

At 1:41 PM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...

I'm reading over it again (out loud) seeing if there isn't anyway I can improve the dialogue. It's a little difficult, because I can remember or make up one-line quips pretty well, but it's hard to think up realistic-sounding, plot-moving, but-still-engaging dialogue for the bulk of the time.

And while I can clearly hear the voices in my head, the writing is communicating those voices at all. I'm screwing around with trying to write accents, but I've never really liked that trick.

And I know the old line "Show, don't tell" so I'm trying to get rid of the blocks of text descriptions, but I find myself somewhat unwilling to part with them. I guess that's why people get editors: no attachment to the writing.

At 5:18 PM, Blogger thene said...

Accents are best avoided; differing vocabularies, sentence patterns and social manners are to be embraced. :) Also; pick up your favourite books and look how it's done there.


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