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


Jidai Geki
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Very very powerful post, showing both sides of the market. The desperate dealers looking to make more money, and the desperate users looking for a hit. This would do very well as a standalone chapter when you publish it (not having what comes next, anyway). Would pack a powerful punch.

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Thanks. I was quite pleased with this whole flashback portion of Jason's past; it muddies the waters a bit, morally, with his righteous quest for vengeance.

 

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

 

”œWell,”

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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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Having now read what follows, I would definitely recommend the last section as a standalone. It would only be a page or two, but it packs a huge punch.

 

I like this. The way you've described the city is well handled. You've given it some details, but not much that someone can't fill in their own blanks for whatever city they live in / near. I read Sydney into it, you might read London, or Beijing, some of the others might read whatever large city is near them. Well done.

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What do you mean as "standalone"? You mean use that as a preview of the book itself?

 

This section is pretty long, actiony as it is. Shit's getting real now, yo.

 

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

 

They had neared the outermost limits of the Copse proper when the attack came.

 

The vestiges of the Beforetime were more and more evident, if still muted by the thick sprawl of the Mire, the closer and closer they got to the Copse. Halfway houses and out-of-town residences began to appear along the side of the wide road, their brick walls cracked and pierced by the implacable, patient strength of the forest, and several railway tracks pulled alongside the road about ten miles out of the Copse's limits, the rusted, twisted old tracks barely visible amongst the grass and brightly coloured, sinister flowers which crawled over them.

 

The state of the road began, ironically, to deteriorate the closer they got to the massive city. More and more roots pervaded the cracked, greening concrete, and Ossus and Xi, riding in the engine, were in for a bumpy, uncomfortable ride as the train jolted over the uneven surface.

 

The Copse didn't appear so much as creep up; bit by bit, the limitless green backdrop gave way to shattered old buildings and small, winding roads snaking away from the huge thoroughfare they were on. When Jason went to sleep, in the smooth, jolt-free passenger compartment, there was no real sign of the strangled urban sprawl. When he awoke, four or five hours later, it was as if the forest all around them had simply snared half a city and pulled it kicking and screaming into its midst; squat redbricks littered either side of the road, now four times as wide as it had been, and Xi had to steer around the increasing detritus; old Hansoms and Broughams lay prone on the weathered concrete, their chassis and axels warped and broken. One or two still had the mouldering skeletons of their drivers slumped over the wheels, frozen forever in the moment that the sky had fallen and destroyed the Beforetime.

 

”œThis place is I am Grootin' creepy,”

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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 hadn't thought about it being a preview, but it could work maybe?

 

No, what I was getting at was that you've not indicated chaptering, so not knowing where you had planned to split the chapters up, that section would make a great standalone chapter by itself. A short sharp chapter full of emotional, moral punch, giving us more character development, backstory etc, and a relatively quiet moment before the story winds into gear, as the section I've just read indicates is about to happen.

 

As for this latest piece; molotovs and dynamite. Brilliant. I like that you kept Pen in character and had her 'pistol whip; the guy rather then just shoot him as well.

 

Do we get to find out what actually caused the 'end times'?

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Maybe....

 

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

 

The explosions were powerful enough as to throw the multi-tonne vehicle several feet into the air, the coupling holding the engine and the carriage together blown apart in an instant, and the two sections hung in the air, coasting above the cracked concrete in a moment of almost comic stillness before they slammed back onto the road drunkenly.

 

The engine began to cant slowly, its twisted guard scoring a furrow in the ground, and the passenger carriage slammed into the side of it and flung it around violently. The pursuing carriages slowed down and veered away from the tangled, careening mass of ruptured steam pipes and battered plating, and the engine compartment finally lost the battle against gravity and toppled over.

 

The screeching, battered vehicle skidded for fifty more metres, throwing up sparks and chips of concrete before it finally came to a rest, batting aside the aging wreckage of Beforetime Hansoms and Broughams.

 

And then the boiler exploded.

 

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

 

Jason and the others were only saved by the outer casing which encased the passenger compartment; designed to suspend and protect the interior from bumps and discomfort, it instead protected them from a sudden, massive explosion of steam and shrapnel, the force of the shockwave tipping the carriage almost on its side. It hung there ponderously for a moment before crashing into the ground, the three of them holding onto the long chairs for dear life to avoid getting crushed between the dilapidated concrete and the train.

 

Jason closed his eyes and tried to ensure his arms weren't wrenched out of their sockets until the twisting, shrieking metal fell quiet, and then he fell gently backwards, onto the side of the chair.

 

”œOh, no,”

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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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Good post. Personally, I think you could have put more into the explosion though. What kind of effect did it have outside of the carriage our cast was in? Were there any buildings nearby? What about the attackers? Did they suffer collateral damage?

 

I also don't think Ferrer's entrance was....dark? evil? black? ominous? enough. I'm trying to find the right words to describe it. There wasn't enough gravitas to his entrance maybe?

 

Does that make sense?

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I know what you mean about Ferrer. He's the character I'm worried about more than any other; I think he's a bit weak, and I'll probably have to rework him at the end.

 

The reason the explosion is lacking in descriptiveness is because this, like most of the story, is more or less focusing on Jason and his location, and so to convey that sense of disorientation and WTF I'm keeping the focus tight and deliberately not expanding on what's going on around them.

 

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

Kwame snapped his pistol up, cocked, and fired almost in the same instant, the force of the bullet snapping Ferrer's head back, and he turned to the mesmerised youths with a scowl.

 

”œWhat ye waitin' for, a I am Grootin' parade? Get off ye arses an'-”œ

 

”œKwame,”

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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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Ferrer is a great character. There's just something lacking about him.

 

You've handled the action in the different locations very well, jumping back and forth, without it feeling jumpy. I love the vision of Xi with the club letting loose too.

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You're right- when I'm done I'm going to rewrite his entrance. I think part of the reason for this is that he was initially introduced in more detail in a flashback that I cut, and so I didn't introduce him in much detail here.

 

Really long section here, but if I break it down it's really short action posts that are interconnected with each other anyway. Might as well post it in one.

 

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

 

Jason's foot crashed into blondie's head as he stooped for the pistol, and he jerked with the impact and tumbled to the side, regaining his feet clumsily a moment later.

 

Jason kicked the pistol away and looked the boy in the eye, his heart pounding in his chest. Sparring with Kwame was one thing; fighting with someone who wanted him dead, or at least very badly hurt, all of a sudden made things too real.

 

”œShoulda just shot me,”

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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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Very vivid action scene. Definitely not worth splitting into smaller posts though.

 

Good to see that they're all starting to learn they need each other, even Xi.

 

I'm intrigued as to why the Gants won't work for Ferrer though.

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Kwame slammed the brakes as soon as he hit the man, the Brougham's wheels locking with an ear-splitting screech of protest and skidding along the uneven concrete.

 

Ferrer's chest took the brunt of the blow with bone-shattering force, his head snapping forward into the unyielding steel of the carriage engine, and he flew backwards for fifteen feet, a tangle of pinwheeling limbs as he bounced across the road and smashed into a tangle of Beforetime vehicles with a terrific crash.

 

”œGet in,”

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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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Yeah. I think I'm really gonna have to rework Ferrer once I've finished, because he's just not doing it for me.

 

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

 

”œOh gods”¦ Glom's bollocks, Kwame, what the I am Groot're we gonna do? What're we gonna do?”

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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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Haha, very to the point Brendo.

 

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

Your friends close

 

Locke started as a knot of wood gave with a sharp crack in the intense heat of the campfire, the noise dislodging him from the fitful half-sleep he had descended into.

 

He looked around, forgetting where he was for a moment, before he remembered and the faint sense of unease crept back in. They were deep in the Mire now, hours from the nearest thing resembling civilisation, and something fat and slimy appeared to be squatting on his cloak.

 

Locke cried in alarm, bolting to his feet in an uncoordinated tangle of limbs and his face contorted in sudden, unfiltered revulsion, and the loathsome little mucous sack gave an indignant croak and hopped off.

 

”œOh! Iria's tit, this damned place-”œ snarled Locke, his voice still high and quavering with unaccustomed fear and tinged with the embarrassment of his reaction, and he simultaneously tried, against the laws of physics, to wipe off and avoid touching the glistening scum smeared across his travelling cloak.

 

”œSomething wrong, Mister Locke?”

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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 didn't mean that in a bad way, it was needed.

 

This section was great. The idea of the teacher / student roles reversing like that is quite amusing. Especially with Locke's utter revulsion at the sight of the rabbit, yet his willingness to try it in order to prevent Locke skipping one of his lessons.

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Locke knew that he had chosen his ground poorly as soon as he arrived.

There was an old town a short way away from Portstown, nestled in the forest-ruins of the Copse, which had been abandoned for around five years; the insidious and ever-present onslaught of nature had taken its toll on the residents, who had finally capitulated and left the town to the tender mercies of the encroaching forest.

 

There was a reason, Locke was finding out, for having fled the small frontier town: the Copse was a savage mistress, flush with natural resources on all sides. The catch: for the Copse, the townsfolk were just another natural resource.

 

The town numbered around fifty houses, all centred around the cobbled, overgrown area which was, for want of a better word, the town's ”˜square'. In the square, overgrown by a strain of particularly virulent creeper, was the old marketplace, where the trappers and hunters had their families sell their wares. Even from the vantage point in which Locke waited, he could see the rusted hooks dangling from the old stalls, could almost see the phantoms of traders past selling pelts and meat to day-trippers from Portstown. Around the perimeter of the town stood its wall, no doubt once quite sturdy, now uprooted and shoved aside by the single-minded vegetation that always crowded beyond civilisation's sputtering light, biding its time.

 

He remembered reading about the debacle in the Chronicle at the time: eleven children carried away over the period of months, neither hide nor hair of their abductors found, save for the scratch marks on the jambs of open doors. The hunters, determined to have their vengeance on the Mire for the blood of their children, went out in hastily organised search parties. The grief-stricken men, blinded by the faces of the doubtlessly dead children, abandoned what years of hunting and trapping had taught them in their pursuit for the animals responsible, and were too consumed by the ever-hungry green.

 

The dwindling survivors-some eighteen families, and a terrified collection of widowed wives and orphaned children- struggled on for a couple more days, the gruff men refusing to cede to the Mire they had fought all their lives, until the beasts, emboldened by the fear they smelt coming off the town in thick waves, carried off a full-grown woman, bloodied and screaming, into the dark.

 

The remaining inhabitants shut up shop, packed what they could in the space of a morning and left to rot that which they couldn't, and fled back to Portstown, leaving the harrowed town to fester in the middle of the triumphant forest.

 

That's what they call this place now, thought Locke, as he remembered with a grim smile. Harrow.

 

And now, being the shortsighted, single-minded fool that he was, Locke had somehow arranged for one of the Mire's deadliest assassins to head for this place, this place that had been abandoned by a three-hundred-strong well-armed community of hardy foresters and their families. And here he was, little more than a city-born dandy, playing at frontiersman in one of the most dangerous places in the Mire.

 

He was almost certainly going to get himself killed.

 

His carriage, along with the hired guns brought to protect against the constant threats of the Copse, had departed over his objections: the driver and the guards had pointed out, as politely as possible given that the insane nobleman was paying their wages, that he was unlikely to last five minutes out here, let alone the night. Locke had had to concur, but had thanked them, paid them their respective fees, and requested that they not return until the following morning.

 

This was something he had to do himself, for reasons that he couldn't explain. He supposed that using hirelings to help him trap the assassin would have made more sense, would have made things easier than what was rapidly shaping up to be one of the world's most elaborate and convoluted suicide attempts, but in the end it came down to some primeval desire to look into the eyes of the man who had destroyed his world, and then kill him with his own two hands. That those hands were the smooth, soft hands of a pampered aristocrat that had never seen a day's work, let alone any form of combat, was something he kept pushing out of his mind.

 

He may have spent his formative years being instructed in the correct placements of napkins and cutlery during a meal rather than in more martial pursuits, but there was one thing Locke did have: money. He had used this marvellous social lubricant to procure for himself transport to this place, a proximity-triggered explosive device, and a well-oiled pistol should the first stage of his plan go awry. Not all of his tutoring had revolved around matters of potage, either: he had spent several hours a week training in the formidable art of singlestick.

 

He sighed and gave himself a short, bitter chuckle, the sound reverberating in the confines of the ruined house he was hiding in. Whom was he fooling, exactly? Singlestick? A handgun he had practice-fired on less than five occasions? He was facing a trained killer, a man whose bread and butter lay in the mastery of combat and all the more antisocial skills of the Mire's underworld.

 

Perhaps, Locke reflected, this really was the world's most elaborate suicide attempt. Perhaps he had simply come out here to die.

 

Even were that so, he resolved, he would look Sam's killer in the face. One way or another.

 

Locke drew his cloak tighter, checked his gun for the thousandth time, and began to wait.

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I almost get a sense we're building up to the conclusion, but the other side of the story..Xi/Kwame/Jason etc, still feels very unfinished.

 

THat said, I like where this is going.

 

Is a singlestick a sword? or maybe a staff of some sort?

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A singlestick is just like a cane. It's an old, very Victorian form of combat, like fencing but with sticks instead.

 

Holmespic.jpg

 

And we are nowhere near the conclusion. There's a long way to go yet.

 

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

 

He heard not a thing as the killer approached; barely saw anything, and most certainly would not have had he not been looking. There was a faint suggestion of movement, a smudge of something slightly darker than the already-dark square in front of the house, and Locke was nigh-entranced by the lithe grace of the semi-seen figure as it crept towards the specified house. Locke had chosen a different dwelling, one overlooking the approach he expected the killer to take, and he hunched closer to the window, his breath caught in his throat, as he waited for the trap to be sprung.

 

The shadow neared the threshold, stopped for a moment. Insofar as it was possible to ascertain from a murky shadow glimpsed in the tar-black night of the Mire, it was as if he was hesitating.

 

He paused for a moment longer. Then he headed for the window.

Locke exhaled all of a sudden, a small, relieved smile breaking on his face.

 

He always went for the window.

 

Although he knew it was coming, although he was braced for it, the thunderous clap that split the night air still made him flinch, and the hot fire that followed in its wake made him close his eyes against it as it seared its bright flower into his eyes.

 

The shockwave hit him a split-second after that, almost forcing him from his feet even from thirty feet away, and the air suddenly felt fifty degrees hotter.

 

He staggered from the room, ears ringing and eyes hot with the afterimage of the explosion. He had been told, of course, how powerful the small red cylinders were, how much destruction they would unleash when tripped, but being told was one thing. Experiencing it was another.

His hand groped for the handle, missing it the first few times as his eyes danced with light, and he eventually managed to pull it open.

 

The house was completely gutted, its edifice thrown open by the sudden violence of the dynamite, and long-abandoned furniture smouldered in its coffin of leaves and vines, the square littered with debris thrown from the building. Splintered wood and charred accoutrements crunched underfoot as he walked slowly across the greened cobbles, and he raised the pistol slowly, quite unable to believe that he had accomplished his task so easily, that Sam's killer lay dead in that wretched place. He had done it. He had really-

 

The blow took his legs from under him, and there was a curious sense of weightlessness before he slammed back-first into the grassy cobbles beneath him, the air forced from his lungs by the unyielding stone. Before he knew what he was doing he swept his cane up, managing to catch his assailant with a glancing blow.

 

He scrambled away, regaining his feet, and brought his pistol up, his eyes adjusting now as he looked into the face of the attacker-

 

And saw nothing more than a boy.

 

”œYou're just-”œ he began, and his elbow flared with sudden pain as it was violently snapped in the wrong direction.

 

Locke roared in agony, the spasm of his fingers sending the revolver clattering to the ground, and the sudden pressure on his arm receded as he was again robbed of balance and sent spinning to the ground.

He didn't see the knife, dulled as it was against the light, but he felt its keen steel bite into his throat, saw the boy's face looming overhead, closed his eyes and waited for his elaborate suicide to be done.

 

The pressure built, and he winced at the first stabs of pain-

 

And then it was gone.

 

Slowly, uncertainly, he opened his eyes. The boy was still standing over him, regarding him curiously, the knife dangling in one hand with a subdued lethality.

 

After a moment, he kicked the pistol away, turned, and began to walk away.

 

”œWait!”

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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 didn't think we could be. It hasn't been long enough yet, based on what you've indicated regarding how much you've written

 

Hmmm most intriguing. I'm going to guess that this is the first meeting between Cooper and Locke?

 

I do like Locke. He has a way with words, and thinking quickly on the run to talk his way out of situations.

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It certainly is their first meeting.

 

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

 

The sound of the engines, rude and pugnacious, tore apart the Mire morning with noisy clanks and hisses of exhaled steam, and Locke's eyes snapped open at the sudden sound, groping sluggishly for nothing in particular.

 

”œWha-”œ he began, and Cooper's hand closed over his mouth, a warning in the boy's eyes as he raised a finger to his lips.

 

He unclasped his hand from Locke's indignant mouth after a moment, satisfied that the nobleman would keep it shut for now, and returned to his vigil at the window, his ever-present knife held tightly in one hand.

Locke pulled himself up after a moment, slipping into the narrow footspace between the two long seats, and joined the boy at the window.

 

They were situated twenty metres or so away from the road, at Cooper's insistence, for ”˜security'. Locke thought it an unnecessary precaution, telling himself that his distaste for having the twisted boughs overhead had nothing to do with it, but as he saw the small army pass them by, he saw that there was wisdom in the boy's precautions. Admittedly, there usually was.

 

There were six horseless carriages steaming past, of varying models- some with enclosed passenger compartments bristling with armed youths, some with their contingent of gun-toting boys exposed to the air. All of them had one thing in common- not a passenger amongst them was above the age of twenty, Locke would have wagered. Except one man, a dapper middle-aged gent who sat two carriages back from the front, in one of the enclosed carriages.

 

There was something about the way they carried themselves- the predatory sense of anticipation on their faces, the too-eager fingers tightening on triggers in anticipation of whatever their undoubtedly sinister task was- that made Locke very glad indeed Cooper had insisted on staying off the road whilst they slept. That they were accompanied, probably even supervised, by a grown-up, lent what might have been dismissed as childish hi-jinks an altogether more chilling legitimacy. It was like some macabre school outing.

 

The two of them stayed frozen in place, watching the noisy procession until it had gone past.

 

”œFerrer,”

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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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