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Tell no Tales- rewrite (NSW, R (language), COMPLETE)


Jidai Geki
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This is an excerpt from a rewrite of something else I'm doing. I've basically decided to introduce two new characters, and this is their first scene (well, technically only one of them). I'm curious to see how people find them, or, in this instance, Locke. Comments and critique appreciated.

 

--------------------

 

2: Concerning Cooper and Locke

 

Mr. Rathbone stepped down from his fly, his nose wrinkling with distaste at the poor state of repair of the dirty, shattered cobbles of the Old Quarter. His manner and bearing, coupled with the unease of and contempt for his surroundings, suggested that he was not accustomed to the filth and squalor of Three Pines' less reputable areas.

 

Mr. Rathbone was, indeed, not clad in clothes to which the various denizens of the Old Quarter would be accustomed: he wore a well-restored Beforetime suit, the jacket and trousers a charcoal grey, and the waistcoat an understated cream. The gold chain of his pocket watch dangled, not in a manner that could be considered to be ostentatious, but in such a way that it was easily visible even beneath the scuffed black evening cloak that hung to his waist. Two shiny black shoes jutted from the bottom of his trousers, incongruous against the congealed filth of the street, and the patches where they had been repaired barely noticeable. The slender, narrow-faced man rounded off his relatively fastidious appearance with a finely trimmed moustache and goatee, ruined only marginally by the specks of grey which peppered it. His oiled black hair was obscured beneath the slightly battered top hat perched on his head.

 

Mr. Rathbone was, in short, somebody who would, under ordinary circumstances, have been robbed and beaten to within in an inch of his life seconds after setting shiny foot in the Old Quarter. It was fortunate in the extreme, then, that he had the foresight, intelligence, and lack of faith in his fellow man to bring four large, hulking fellows along. The four brutes were dressed with similarly shabby pretensions towards haute couture, and all carried well-maintained shotguns or hunting rifles. Most of the Old Quarter's inhabitants would only have seen a real gun once or twice in their lives, but they knew well enough what they could do to a man. The cutpurses and muggers would leave well enough alone tonight.

 

What the Old Quarter lacked in style and cleanliness, it also lacked in basic street amenities. The gas lamps that adorned every street corner in the Merchant's Quarter were present here, but had long been smashed or looted for their metal, and the battered, squalid street was smothered with inky blackness. This came as a source of simultaneous relief and dismay to the skittish Mr. Rathbone- relief for what wasn't seen, dismay for what else wasn't seen- and he gestured for his guards to light their portable gas lanterns.

 

Mr. Rathbone gave a start as the pools of light spilled over the cobbled street and leapt quickly up the fashionably clad legs of a man standing stock-still in the street.

 

The lantern light crawled smoothly from the man's expensive (and rare) hand-made shoes and tailored black linen trousers to a long black waterproofed travelling cloak, a glossy, slender black cane with a polished silver knob, dark leather gloves, and a handsome, urbane face adorned with an impeccably waxed brown moustache. On his head he wore a bowler hat as black and pristine as the rest of his garb.

 

The quality of the man's attire was made all the more apparent next to Mr. Rathbone's own garb- some of the finest clothing available in the Mire, to be sure, but nothing next to the fine silks,velvets and linens the larger settlements' social elite draped themselves with. It made Mr. Rathbone feel quite the street urchin, and he didn't particularly care for it. He was, after all hiring the services of this man- not the other way around.

 

Mr. Rathbone composed himself, gave a halfhearted smile, and extended his hand.

 

”œGood evening, Mr”¦ Cooper, I presume?”

Edited by Guest

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I don't usually post again in my own fics if they don't get replies, but twenty-eight views and no feedback? Come on guys, I could really use the feedback on this. It's not a long piece, and I would very much like to know how these characters are viewed: are they well written? Are they intriguing characters?

 

It would be much appreciated, as these characters are pretty important to what I'm writing. Thanks.

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http://www.themire.co.uk-- being a veracious and lurid account of the goings-on in the savage Mire and the sootblown alleys of Portstown's Rookery!

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They were very good characters, and well described. You have a good skill of keeping detail while in the middle of dialogue, something I struggle on. I am great at setting the mood or background or even working with action, but I really struggle while having long conversations with anything but what they are saying.

 

I must ask, is this a standalone story or is it the second part of a larger story? If there are other pieces already written or planned on being written, I would like to read them. I don't often check in this forum for things (something I am trying to change now that I am posting my own writings here), so if I miss something you post on this topic, please PM me if you can remember.

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Sorry started reading it then didn't have enough time to sit down and finish reading it in one hit.

 

Have read it now. I'm assuming this ties into the story you were writing previously? (Which btw I shall need to find time to concentrate and read that which I hadn't read of that.)

 

I am curious. I want to know more about Cooper and Locke and Cooper killing the fiancee. You have a talent of making a piece of writing feel dark and bringing out the tension in the piece.

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Sorry about that, I was just in two minds as to whether to post more, as this is actually the second chapter of the rewrite (the fourth draft now) of my only finished novel, so I'm not sure how to go about posting more, since if I post the first part, it will now be posted after the second. Other parts of the story are also quite profane.

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All right, well I'll post the opening portion of the story. This appears before the previous post in the narrative, if not necessarily in the timeline. Again, comments and feedback appreciated. There's some strong language, so be warned.

 

-------------

 

1: Concerning the Thorpe, the First, and the Holy Trinity

 

”œWell, boss? Ye find anything out?”

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So this comes before the first part you posted. Fascinating, and much more interesting plot wise than the second chapter. I think the second chapter sets the mood and characters far better, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The first chapter definitely helps establish the world a little more for the readers, meaning that there are groups and societies that are not in the real world. Either that, or you are being heavily figurative by mentioning the gods.

 

You have a good way with dialogue as was displayed again here in this chapter. As I said before, I wish I had the same skills with dialogue as I think my strengths lie in description of events and the setting. As I haven't seen too much of a long term action scene from you, I am interested in seeing how you handle it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Funnily enough, Travis, this next section does indeed have a hint of action to it. I've posted roughly half of this scene, so as not to overload the reader. As always, feedback and critique appreciated.

 

Cultural note: a 'French letter' is a somewhat antiquated British term for a condom.

 

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3: Guided tour

 

 

The guide led them through the tortuous, squalid backstreets of the Thorpe's east side, the alleys illuminated only by the faint glow of sputtering gaslights from the wider thoroughfare. Penelope knew him from her earlier days, she had said, electing not to elaborate further. She had found him in a dimly lit bar, the beer warm and flat and the corners thick with gloom, the better to hide whatever sordid dealings were being carried out.

 

The look on her face as she told Ossus and Jason that he would lead them to the Order told them all they needed to know: she didn't trust him as far as a Mirerot-addled toddler could throw him, but the Order kept a traditionally low profile in a Theist stronghold like the Thorpe. The routes to them were few. Besides, anything Sheldon, their ”˜guide' would cook up for them by way of diversion en route was sure not to bother them too much. Not with Ossus travelling with them.

 

”œJesus, Sheldon, is it much further?”

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http://www.themire.co.uk-- being a veracious and lurid account of the goings-on in the savage Mire and the sootblown alleys of Portstown's Rookery!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm critiquing section 1 here...

 

There are two lines that bother me:

 

1) "irritated as always by the lad's sarcastically deferential tone" is a great line, but it doesn't work, as the preceding line -- at least to me -- doesn't have anything in it that suggests "sarcastically deferential."

 

I'm not aware of the characters' relationship yet, so from my perspective, it's relatively meaningless

 

Thus, I'm forced to take you at your word, which violates the rule of "Show, don't tell."

 

-------

 

2) this is a minor quibble, but "The Prometheans wouldn't help a I am Grooting animal like the First." just feels awkward to me.

 

The "I am Grooting" goes a long way towards serving the dialogue and gestures that immediately follow, but the sentence itself... I had a hard time "hearing" it from Pen's mouth

 

Unfortunately, unlike the "boss" line, I can't put my finger on why Pen's line doesn't work for me -- again, it just feels awkward.

 

-------

 

The third critique is just that as a new reader, I'd like a little more physical description for the setting. I love the boss's thumb and the puffing and such. That's great, but maybe just a little more at the outset, so I'm sucked into the story? Doesn't have to be much, just enough to give the reader a little bit better mental picture of the kid and Pen...

 

Those are all small things, though. Overall, it's a very solid beginning, and I definitely want to know what happens next!

Yum!

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  • 1 month later...

I liked the last post the best I think particularly the last line.

 

 

As for the second post with the swearing. To me it didn't fit so well the first time that Pen swore. Just seemed added in there for the hell of it and didn't seem to flow well. The second time she swore to me felt like it flowed better then.

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Hmm, thought this one was consigned to the depths of page 2 and beyond. Yes, Brendo, it's a complete rewrite. This marks the third rewrite of this now. It'll be a wonder if I'll ever finish, but the style of the last draft was simply too restrictive in the end.

 

Anyway, here's the next part...

 

------------------------------

 

There was moment of almost comic stillness in the alley as they all stood, frozen in a tableau, Sheldon and his goons wearing identical expressions of shock, Penelope, Jason and Ossus waiting for them to make their move. The only sounds were the wet thud of the dead mugger hitting the ground, and the faintly electrical hum of Ossus' gants as they powered up.

 

”œHe's- he's gorra I am Grootin' shooter, Shell! You din't say nuffink about ”˜im ”˜aving no bastard shooter!”

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http://www.themire.co.uk-- being a veracious and lurid account of the goings-on in the savage Mire and the sootblown alleys of Portstown's Rookery!

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Sorry for not reviewing earlier Lee. I wanted to wait til I knew I had time to read it all in one hit.

 

I don't remember much about the last version, except that I really enjoyed it.

 

I said it before, and I'll say it again, the way you write your dialogue for these characters, with the built in'accent' makes them come alive better when you read it. I can hear them talking much easier then I can a 'normal' voice...if that makes sense.

 

I think this is different to last time a fair bit though. The only thing I can remember distinctly (and don't take it as a sign of the story, it's more a sign of my memory), was the way you had...like a third party accessing the story as 'memory blocks'...almost like in assassin's creed.

 

That said, this is new and I like where you're taking it. I'm very curious about Cooker and Locke, and from what I remember of the theists and the First, neither of them were desirable characters.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for the comments Brendan, hope you're enjoying this, and that's it's easier to follow than the last incarnation. Hopefully this will be the final draft I write...

 

-------------------

 

They found some disreputable tavern about half an hour later, one that wasn't liable to ask pointed questions about the propriety of an old man sharing a room with two young people, or why the young lady looked like she had spent the evening beating the tar out of random passersby.

 

Ossus finalised the details, such as they were, at a battered counter which had amusingly labelled itself the ”œconcierge”

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm enjoying this flow.

 

This latest addition..it was another piece of the current chapter? It felt kinda sallow from your normal posts...like...it was more of a surface piece then an in depth piece...if that makes sense.

 

A nice humanising touch to Penelope and Jason though.

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  • 3 weeks later...

All right then. I have a load of this written out, but I've been going back and forth rewriting bits a lot, so it's constantly changing. The next part is rather sedate, and by necessity, quite long....

 

--------------

 

4: High Society

Locke straightened his cravat in the mirror and licked his fingers, running them over his waxed mustache and appraising himself in the mirror. He frowned as he caught sight of a grey hair, picking up the tweezers on the dresser and carefully grasping the offending hair. When he was sure he had it, he yanked quickly, pulling the hair from his scalp. He scrutinised the strand, still frowning, and placed it gently on the dresser.

 

He heard a bang from the next room, followed swiftly by some colourful language that made Locke wince and tut disapprovingly.

 

”œLanguage, Joseph,”

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That post was wonderfully written. I felt the awkwardness of Jospeh, the frustration and slight embarrassment of Locke and the could hear the gutter in the whores language. Very well written. It flowed smoothly and didn't feel as long as it looked.

 

I'm very curious as to how Locke eventually gets Joseph into 'high society', and also how the boy copes with it. He clearly isn't comfortable in the clothing of the gentry, but will it be a 'My Fair Lady" scenario? Or will he maintain his roughness I wonder.

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I'm glad you liked that part, Brendo, those two characters are perhaps more important now than the others, and I've tried very hard to nail their personalities and how they develop.

 

Since you, once again, seem to be the only one reading....

 

-----------------

 

5: Stealing fire

 

Penelope rapped soundly on the door, the hard metal cold against her knuckles. After five seconds or so without response she rapped again, irritated by the cloak-and-dagger games necessary to contact anyone in the Order.

 

A hatch at about eye-level, invisible upon casual inspection, slid open. Penelope couldn't see anyone in the gloom beyond.

 

”œHelp you?”

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In light of the topic regarding profanity, I do like the way you use it. It suits your characters and the landscape / environment that you have them in.

 

As for this update itself, This Kwame character is intriguing, and the fact that Pen is actually happy to see him piques my interest. Not a common event that, Pen being happy to see someone.

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Bit longer this time.... let me know if this one is too long so I can cut down future updates accordingly.

 

*********

 

Five armed men and women appeared on the roofs opposite the doorway suddenly, their rifles cocked and aimed at the trio with quick, practised precision. Three more melted from the alleyways, armed with pistols or rifles, and did the same.

 

Ossus' gants began to flare.

 

”œI wouldn't do that, if I were you,”

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Post length was fine actually.

 

I get the distinct feeling you're setting something up, this Clanton character intrigues me.

 

The sheer fact he knew enough to have several men ready for Ossus is by itself significant I think.

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Back to Locke in this part, who I have to say is the character I have the most fun writing....

 

----------------

 

5: The Honourable

The Mayoral Ball of Three Pines was one of the year's premiere social events, held inside the gated, relatively well restored of the town know locally as ”˜the Gentry'. It was a fine opportunity for the town's de facto aristocracy to gather in their finery, sip on expensive and rare alcoholic beverages, and generally pat each other on the back about how much better they were than the common, low-born filth who toiled and starved outside of the Gentry.

 

The Mayoral Ball, as its title would indicate, was held in the Mayor's sweeping, palatial mansion, which sat on a hill offering it a view of the entire town. For events such as this one, where it would have been improper for the gentlepersons of Three Pines to have to look upon the debauched plebeian sprawl of the Old Quarter, strategically placed oil canvasses of beautiful panoramas were erected at the walls of the mansion grounds, tastefully shielding the nobles' eyes from the wretched masses.

 

The Hon. Adam Browne, incumbent Mayor of Three Pines for the past fifteen years, was a man who garnered equal parts caution and respect from his fellow nobles. The plebs, for their most part, didn't bother with the ”˜respect' part, opting to approach any unfortunate encounters with Mayor Browne with guarded subservience.

 

Browne was a grotesquely obese mound of a man whose soft rolls of flab and genial smile belied his hard heart. His ruddy moon-face was garlanded with a finely trimmed brown beard, and two hard, glinting eyes peered out from the fleshy folds of his cheeks with boundless cunning. His rotund, vaguely comical appearance was the perfect cover for the scheming, Machiavellian mind housed within, and many a political and personal opponent had mistook his grossly corpulent, lethargic frame as evidence of a stupid and self-indulgent man less interested in the next election than his next five-course banquet.

 

The Mayor was born to nobility and ”˜elected' to his role as Mayor, courting his fellow noblepersons using whatever methods were expedient; those loyal to him found the price of their unconditional subservience very amenable indeed, as they were lavished with extravagant gifts from across the Mire and granted considerable political leeway in their own commercial and private endeavours. Those less inclined to support their Mayor would find themselves reconsidering their positions very quickly; merchants might find taxes or tariffs suddenly prohibitive to their business interests, or that an oversight had been made and, terribly sorry, but their premises were occupying an area of land set aside for ”œcivic purposes”

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I can almost smell the Mayor. Brilliantly vivid descriptions. The Mayor reminds me of the Baron Harkonnen from the Dune series in his...plumpness, and also the sound of his harder streak as well.

 

Nice little aside with Locke as well.

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Thanks for your feedback Brendo, it's appreciated. On a related note, I have a question: of the two 'stories' going on (Jason's vs. Locke's), which one do you find more intriguing?

 

--------------

 

The feast was held in the mansion's cavernous, yawning dining room, tall chipped pillars of marble reaching to the roof and supporting the vaulted, boss-studded ceiling. Hanging from the centre was a partially repaired crystal chandelier, its multifaceted crystals glittering gently with reflected gaslight.

 

The dining room's tall windows were covered by drawn, threadbare velvet curtains, each of them at least nine feet in length. Between the windows were ancient portraits of the mansion's Beforetime owners, some of them only slightly scuffed or burned.

 

The centrepiece of the ruined splendour was the forty-foot long mahogany dining table, with seats enough for nearly a hundred. The table was covered by a long, shimmering silk runner, and each place was set with the Mayor's finest porcelain plates and sturdy, serviceable Beforetime steel cutlery. Each plate was attended by a thin champagne flute and a broader wine glass.

 

The feast was a roaring success, as it always was. Sometimes Browne made the grave mistake of wondering how one of his feasts would compare to the splendour of a Beforetime banquet, and was always left wanting, but for this day and this age, his feasts competed with the finest in the Mire. Wild fowl and all the most succulent beasts of the Mire had been captured and brought into the gentry, his cooks doing what they could with the often stringy, gamey flesh of Mirebeasts. This was supplemented by the finest fresh produce from Browne's personal gardens, seasoned with herbs and spices, and a selection of milks and cheeses, the provenance of which was best left unmentioned to squeamish nobles whose levels of denial were sometimes so vast, Browne reflected, that they probably still believed the plump, fertile livestock so prevalent in the Beforetime satisfied most of their dietary requirements.

 

After the meal was washed down with sweetened wine (the better to mask its slightly vinegary aftertaste) and fortified spirits, the ladies departed to the mansion's expansive drawing room to discuss- well, whatever it was that women discussed. The only interest Browne took in the opposite sex was the occasional whore, and even that lust was dampened by the disgusted, horrified look in their eyes that no amount of coin could dull.

 

The Mayor's eye was drawn to the urbane young man he had met earlier in the evening- what was his name again? Ah, yes. Locke. Of Portstown. Mr. Locke was having a spirited discussion with Mr. Teal, a successful local merchant- Teal imported powder weapons, Browne believed. Filthy, low business, but it filled a necessary niche.

 

Browne politely excused himself from the conversation he was having with two Pines' merchants- some tedious drivel about falling revenues in the Thorpe- and beckoned Barton over. Barton obliged immediately, walking over and lowering his ear to the Mayor's shoulder.

 

”œSor?”

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http://www.themire.co.uk-- being a veracious and lurid account of the goings-on in the savage Mire and the sootblown alleys of Portstown's Rookery!

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I thought it might have been an uncharacteristic typo the first time, but seeing it's there twice, I guess it's the way Barton says 'sir', his pronunciation rendering it as 'sor'?

 

I get the feeling Barton is something of a toughman, despite his single eye.

 

As to your question, I'm not sure actuslly. They're both very intriguing. I think I enjoy Lockes character more. His combination of ruthlessness, coldness, his at times gutteral speech and also his apparent, if tempered ability to show sophistication and the ability to hobnob with the gentry I find very interesting.

 

Not to say Jason isn't also a well rounded and interesting characters. Just something about Locke intrigues me more

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Barton's pronunciation is indeed "sor". It's an affectation I borrowed from a somewhat-famous English novelist named James Clavell, who uses the same spelling for some of his 'working class' characters.

 

Thanks for the feedback. I actually dislike Jason as a character at the moment, and I'm thinking of rewriting him (again). In the first drafts he was too wet and ineffectual, but now I feel that he's too cocksure and arrogant. I'm going to have to strike a happy medium- I simply don't find him a likeable or interesting character, not qualities one wants in a protagonist. Locke, on the other hand, I'm very happy with.

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