PDA

View Full Version : A piece of "Vengeance is Mine."



Ditch
December 26th, 2010, 01:52 PM
PROLOUGE



My name is Felipe Montoya and this is my tale. In order for me to tell you this, I must go back to the beginning. How did I, a simple fisherman become a pirate, the most wanted man in the Caribbean and the new colonies of Mexico? Why was I forced to kill and just how did I, an honest man become the sole focus of the King‘s wrath? As I said, I must start at the beginning, it is a long tale of bravery, love, betrayal and devotion. The story of common men struggling together to defeat insurmountable odds. My story was written long ago, let God be my judge.










Mexico
The east coast of the Yucatan.
1596

It was a time of turmoil, the people of Mexico were under the crushing oppression of the Spaniards. One by one the ancient, mighty civilizations fell. The vast Aztec Empire spread over the central regions with their advanced astronomy, huge temples and pyramids were put to the blade. The Mayans further to the south and finally the mighty Inca Kingdom, all were systematically slaughtered by the Spaniards. Their great temples were looted and those who were not killed were subjugated into slavery. All were firmly ground under the heel of the Spanish boot.
Disease brought by the Spaniards to which they had no immunity, eliminated a full third of the remaining population. What had once been proud and strong cultures were now reduced to a population of begging paupers. The new government of the Spanish colonies, far from the watchful eyes of the king were rampant with corruption. False arrests, bribes, land and asset seizures, even unjust executions for crimes not committed were routinely carried out.
A rigid social structure was put into place. The Pure bloods, those who were actually born in Spain or Gachupines as they were known held the highest social status. Even the children of the pure bloods that were born in the new colonies rather than Spain were treated as inferior. They were known as Criollos. The local inhabitants known as Mestizos or Peons were treated worse than dogs, often ran down in the streets by the pure bloods on their horses simply for their amusement.
Still the Spanish influence did usher in much, the buildings, churches, forts, even the clothing and language brought about a profound change on the very landscape and culture of Mexico. Ornate churches built of brick covered with smooth stucco were painted white or subdued shades of tan were constructed. Adorned with stained glass windows with depictions of saints and finely carved statues of the Virgin Mary and Christ which stood on the grounds. Graceful spires and bell towers rose high from the rooftops and men removed their hats as they passed.
Yet in the midst of the civility that this enclave of Spanish religion, tradition and culture ushered in, there existed a corrupt system of greed and brutality. The finely dressed Gauchupines looked down on those who were born here and considered themselves the ruling class.
Men in Spain knew nothing of the corruption and saw the new colonies as a land of opportunity. News about the new colonies excited those seeking a new life and riches. Juan Carlos Montoya listened to his crew talk of this as he hauled in the heavy nets full of fish every day. The work was hard and the muscles of his arms strained and rippled as the sun burned his already golden tan skin. Still, he smiled as they all spoke of this new world.
Finally, his mind was made up so he sold his small fleet of fishing boats and booked passage to the new colonies. He loaded a wagon and proceeded to the docks where he booked passage on a frigate bound for this new world.
The men aboard the frigate stood at the rails and watched while the passengers boarded. There was a tall man with broad shoulders who easily lifted his wife from the seat and placed her gently on the dock. She was pregnant but still looked to be a petite woman with delicate features. She looked up at the ship with large, doe-like eyes and they wondered how she would fare in the rugged new colonies. They had no way of knowing that her slight build and gentle manner belied a strength of character and the determination to help carve a life out of this new wilderness.
An older man stood up in the back of the carriage and stretched. At first glance, he appeared unimpressive, shorter than average, with a wiry build. When he vaulted over the side and to the ground, they began to watch him closely as he easily handled the heavy trunks, swinging them to the ground. He moved with the fluid grace and strength of a jungle cat.
One seaman nudged his shipmate and pointed at him. “Do you know who that is?”
“That older man?”
“That is Andreas Montoya, I served with him in the King’s Navy. He was an Admiral and the finest swordsman in the land.”
“He does not look like much now.” the man said unimpressed.
“I will just tell you this, do not cross swords with him my friend.”
The voyage took almost three months until they finally Landed in the settlement of Catocha on the rugged east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. They purchased a wagon and two horses then traveled south through the jungle along the coast and purchased land. Juan Carlos again slowly built up his fishing fleet into a profitable business and soon Marianna gave birth to a son they named Felipe.
Young Felipe accompanied his father on the fishing boats from the age of five. He grew to love the sea and the clear waters of the Caribbean. At the age of ten he could steer the ship as his father and crew worked the nets. By the time he was fifteen he was navigating by day with a compass and by night with a sextant. His uncle Andreas began teaching him the way of the sword from boyhood. He too grew strong hauling in the nets and soon he also developed the broad shoulders and strong arms of his father. His black hair had grown long and curly like his father’s. He was a masculine looking young man with penetrating brown eyes and dark skin like his parents. This is his story.





VENGEANCE IS MINE












CHAPTER ONE

THE NIGHT OF THE JAGUAR


Mexico
The east coast of the Yucatan.
1614


After the days work was done on the fishing boats, Felipe would go to the barn to see his Uncle to learn the art of the sword. He liked the barn, like all buildings in this area of the rugged, windswept coast it was built to withstand the huge storms that came from the east during the summer heat. Built of stone and mortar with a smooth stucco covering, it was a long, low building with a red tile roof made of baked clay. The barn was always filled with the good, familiar scents of oiled leather, sweet oats, hay and the tallow from the burning candles. As he entered his Uncle Andreas was honing a sword, lightly drawing a whetstone along the edge of the gleaming, polished blade. He saw Felipe and smiled, putting the blade down on the table. “Hello Felipe, have you been practicing with your weapons?”
“Of course, every day. You know this, you practice with me Uncle.” Felipe smiled.
“What about at night?” Andreas asked.
“When the moon is full I practice with my bow and lance, you also know this. Why are you asking me these questions?”
Andreas looked at him for a few moments then said, “We have lost three calves to a jaguar over the past few weeks. He hunts every three nights and has marked our pasture as his feeding ground. Tonight he will feed again, how old are you now eighteen?”
“Yes Uncle, almost nineteen.” he replied.
“I was seventeen when I killed my first jaguar.” Andreas said as his mind went back to that time.
“How did you kill it? Felipe asked.
“I used a bow and a lance, they do charge you when the arrow strikes, they do not run away. I am getting a little old for this type of thing, are you up for this task? We can use a musket if you wish”
Felipe was afraid but he would not let that show. He had killed many charging wild boars with his lance. He buried his fear and answered. “I will kill it and have its pelt on the wall tomorrow at this time.”
Andreas looked at the boy in the flickering candlelight, he loved him as he would his own son. He had taught him from a small boy how to use his weapons. He knew that it was time to test him against a worthy adversary. Still, he was worried about the boy’s safety, after a few moments, he spoke. “Felipe, you do not have to prove anything to me, this is not a pig. This is a 300 pound jungle cat with reflexes as fast as lightning. They can see in the dark and have claws and fangs that can shred a man. Do you know how a jaguar kills its prey? He does not bite the throat and suffocate it as a lion does, he bites the head and drives his long fangs deep into the brain. At times they actually crush the skull.
They are so quick and agile, they can hear the sound of your bowstring in time to leap out of the way. This beast will not leave his kill, he will charge you and kill you if you do not kill him. You will only have one shot with your bow and your lance must take his heart when he charges, are you certain that you are ready for this?”
“Yes, I want to prove this to myself.” Felipe replied. He then reached for the brandy flask and his uncle stopped him.
“Do not dull your senses with brandy, for this night will be full of danger. We will celebrate after the beast is killed. Go and gather your weapons. You only need bring one arrow, you will not have time for two, and sharpen your lance. Tell your father nothing of this and meet me back here. We will stake out a calf, at least the beast will come to you.” With that Andreas got up and walked out into the pasture with a rope in his hand.

Ricky Jalapeno
December 30th, 2010, 01:26 PM
Sounds amazing. If I wasn't so tired, I would read the rest. I suggest break up the paragraphs. You know...put spaces between them?

Nobody likes walls of text :-D

Ditch
December 30th, 2010, 02:13 PM
Sounds amazing. If I wasn't so tired, I would read the rest. I suggest break up the paragraphs. You know...put spaces between them?

Nobody likes walls of text :-D

I cut, copied and pasted it here from Microsoft Word. Something happens when text is transferred from Word to a forum. In Word, it is double spaced and properly formatted. When you tranfer it to a forum, the titles, for example are no longer centered and the text all appears as one continuous string. You can't see the spacing between the lines or the paragraphs, it is lost in the translation. Believe me, I spent weeks formatting it. Agents will can your submission if it is not formatted to the industry standard of 12 font, double spaced, proper margins and so forth.

This was the one that I entered in the contest, I omitted the prologue as my wife found it plodding. Most people skip the prologue but one of the first comments on amazon was "You need a prologue." I explained to him that we only had a certain number of words that could be submitted in the entry and I had to get right to the action, that the finished work had a prologue. The prologue was necessary to establish the time and place. Also, the social structure that existed in the new colonies of Mexico in 1614 when the story takes place held a strong bearing on the story. Without a prologue, you wouldn't really know about that social structure unless the author took the time to explain it which would interrupt the flow of the story.

All in all, I feel that it is some of my best, if not my best work. I created a private forum and let a few people follow the story as it unfolded. They really enjoyed it and said it was the highlight of their day reading a new chapter every morning. After being falsely accused of piracy, Felipe and his uncle Andreas, an aging mater swordsman from Spain have to flee. He lost his father, his land and his livelihood. He and his uncle swear revenge. They free slaves to help them and the interaction between the slaves with their new found freedom and a captured princess does get interesting. She had been taught that they were not much more than animals, but comes to love them as intelligent, resourceful and brave people. she also has to learn that she is no longer in command and finds there is a lot of things about life that she didn't know.

plbuster
December 31st, 2010, 02:46 AM
I kind of lose the point of view. Starts off kinda "old man and the sea". Perhaps the prologue should be more focused on the protagonist and how it affected him specifically. It loses credibility as the protagonist would have no way of determining what was going on all over Central America during that time. If you plan to make it a book (and it promises to be very entertaining at the least!), you will have to work out how he comes to the conclusions drawn in the prologue. I mean, honestly, how could Filipe Montoya, a spaniard (as the indians did not have spanish names yet) come to all this information? Is Filipe a Mayan, drawn into the Mission system? How would he know what was going on in Tenochtitlan? How would he know about how small pox had been "brought" by the Spaniards? I would narrow the focus a bit on the prologue to the area where Filipe lives and works, and expand on that.

garza
December 31st, 2010, 05:27 AM
Cutting and pasting from Word is chancy. You need to strip out all the formatting put in by Word. In Word go to edit, select all, copy. Then go to Notepad and paste. Go through the document in Notepad putting spaces between paragraphs. Turn off word wrap, then copy and paste in the forum.

If you have used spaces or tab in word to get your paragraph indents, you will need to manually remove them.

A better way to get indents in Word is use paragraph formatting and indicate an indent for the first line, keeping everything else at 0 and line spacing at single. If you do it this way, the indents will disappear on the transition to Notepad since all formatting is stripped and you will have clean copy with blank lines between paragraphs.

Your summary of the situation in Mexico at the beginning of the 17th Century is not wrong, but is not quite right either. Reading it I feel as though, and please pardon me for saying this, I'm reading a first form textbook that need editing.

Most people in the Western Hemisphere with at least a high school education know the basics of Mexican and Central American history. Living as I do on the east coast of the Yucatan, within sight of Mexico if I care to walk down to the Customs House pier, and having studied and written about the history of this area more and more over the past 15 years as I've slowly retired from my life as a frontline journalist, my suggestion is that you study further the original source materials that are available. They were written primarily by Spanish priests or their Mayan clerks, but setting aside religious and ethnic biases, they provide the clearest picture we have during the time you are writing about.

I have many friends among the Yucatec, Kekchi, and Mopan Maya, as well as among the Mestizo who make up the majority of the population in my village. The events of the early 17th Century are ancient history for most people, but for the people of northern Belize and the Mexican States of Quintana Roo and Yucatan the echoes of those events can be heard today.

One book I heartily recommend is The Maya Chontal Indians (sic) of Acalan-Tixchel - A Contribution to the History and Ethnography of the Yucatan Peninsula by Francis V. Scholes and Ralph L. Roys, published in Norman, Oklahoma, by the University of Oklahoma Press. Included in the appendix is a 1614 reproduction of a copy of the 1612 Chontal Text. That should be of special interest to you. Of course, you may already have studied this book. It is a great source of information on that time period.

The Backward OX
December 31st, 2010, 08:17 AM
I cut, copied and pasted it here from Microsoft Word. Something happens when text is transferred from Word to a forum. In Word, it is double spaced and properly formatted. When you tranfer it to a forum, the titles, for example are no longer centered and the text all appears as one continuous string. You can't see the spacing between the lines or the paragraphs, it is lost in the translation.

Apparently you aren't holding your mouth right. I never have this trouble and I use the same process - Copy/Paste from Word.


Cutting and pasting from Word is chancy. You need to strip out all the formatting put in by Word. In Word go to edit, select all, copy. Then go to Notepad and paste. Go through the document in Notepad putting spaces between paragraphs. Turn off word wrap, then copy and paste in the forum.

If you have used spaces or tab in word to get your paragraph indents, you will need to manually remove them.

A better way to get indents in Word is use paragraph formatting and indicate an indent for the first line, keeping everything else at 0 and line spacing at single. If you do it this way, the indents will disappear on the transition to Notepad since all formatting is stripped and you will have clean copy with blank lines between paragraphs.

You're starting to sound a bit like a cracked 78, my friend. You tell the same old story, time and time again. Don't you tire of repeating yourself? As I said above, I use Word and I don't have any problems. My only problems are with people who say they will do something and then promptly forget all about it.:-x

Ditch
December 31st, 2010, 12:41 PM
Thanks for all of the feedback, I need all that I can get.

I kind of lose the point of view. Starts off kinda "old man and the sea". Perhaps the prologue should be more focused on the protagonist and how it affected him specifically.

In my way of thinking, and I may be wrong, the prologue sets the stage for the story, it isnít always in or from the point of view of the protagonist. I have read books where the prologue told of the background, the time and place that the story is taking place in.

It loses credibility as the protagonist would have no way of determining what was going on all over Central America during that time. If you plan to make it a book (and it promises to be very entertaining at the least!), you will have to work out how he comes to the conclusions drawn in the prologue. I mean, honestly, how could Filipe Montoya, a spaniard (as the indians did not have spanish names yet) come to all this information?

News of the new colonies was drifting back to Spain as the settlement grew. Many, like the early settlers here, saw it as a new beginning, a promised land of abundance. There was gold and silver, many made money in the offshoots of this industry. Unlike Spain, game was abundant and the fishing wasnít as crowded as it was there. Fish and food were needed to supply the rapidly growing colonies. They dreamed of a new beginning in a land of abundance.

How would he know about how small pox had been "brought" by the Spaniards?

He didnít know about the small pox, again, I was just setting the stage. Telling how what had once been a very powerful nation of an advanced culture had been brought to itís knees. Horses were new to them as were steel weapons, all they had was obsidian. A few hundred Spaniards on horses with guns decimated thousands of these people. The disease was an added destructive force on this population.

I would narrow the focus a bit on the prologue to the area where Filipe lives and works, and expand on that.


Felipe was moving to this new land, going on the information that was coming back. He, like the others, was unaware of the corrupt system of greed that was already in place. Far from the watchful eyes of the King, the Viceroy and his officers were getting very rich by falsely accusing people of crimes and seizing their land and assets. Also, the social structure that existed there played a major part in this storyís beginning. The pure bloods who were born in Spain looked down on those who were born there, even of pure blood parents.

Your summary of the situation in Mexico at the beginning of the 17th Century is not wrong, but is not quite right either. Reading it I feel as though, and please pardon me for saying this, I'm reading a first form textbook that need editing.

Thank you Garza, no doubt it does need editing.

my suggestion is that you study further the original source materials that are available. They were written primarily by Spanish priests or their Mayan clerks, but setting aside religious and ethnic biases, they provide the clearest picture we have during the time you are writing about.

Yes, the story as recorded by the Spaniards is not the whole story indeed. I have explored the Mayan ruins and the surrounding jungle and developed a fascination with them and this era. Gary Jennings also lived in the Yucatan and the books "Aztec Rage" and "Aztec" probably give a more factual representation of the social structure, architecture, and customs of the indigenous people than any textbook. I will look for the book that you mentioned, as I do want it as factual as possible.


Honestly, Iím not totally comfortable with the prologue either. If I ever get an agent, they will help tailor it or just can it.

Ditch
December 31st, 2010, 12:47 PM
Also, I have Microsoft Works Word Processor. It is different from Word which I downloaded the free version and didn't like it. In the final cut, the titles are all centered and the text is double spaced and cut into paragraphs. When I cut, copy and paste it into a forum, the formatting is aligned with that particular forum. The titles are no longer centered but are aligned to the left and it appears as a "wall of text" as someone said. I guess I should have reformatted it after I pasted it here.

Ditch
December 31st, 2010, 01:08 PM
I just tried pasting here from a single spaced version and it looks the same, a wall of text. In my limited knowledge, the only way I could do it would be to type it here anew.

garza
December 31st, 2010, 04:29 PM
There's no need for that. If you convert your file to plain text, stripping off all formatting, then copy and paste it here, it's the same as typing it in and only takes a few keystrokes. You will still need to insert blank lines, either before or after you upload. I write almost all my posts offline, then copy and paste.

If you are going to use a word processor, Word is by far the best and keeps improving with every new version. I don't know of any free Word version, unless it's really old. Microsoft Works Word Processor is a very poor substitute. I don't work for Microsoft. I have found most of their products useful beginning with Windows 97.

Notepad, WordPad, and Word are all good writing tools, and the first two come free with every installation of Windows.

xO - As any good Belizean will say, 'right now'.

Ditch
January 1st, 2011, 01:09 PM
Hey Garza, you said, "Your summary of the situation in Mexico at the beginning of the 17th Century is not wrong, but is not quite right either."

I'm curious and do want to be factually accurate. What did you find not right? The social order of the gachupines, criollos and mestizos?

I found this in my research... Shortly before dawn on September 16, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla made a monumentous decision that revolutionized the course of Mexican history. Within hours, Hidalgo, a Catholic priest in the village of Dolores, ordered the arrest of Dolores' native Spaniards. Then Hidalgo rang the church bell as he customarily did to call the indians to mass. The message that Hidalgo gave to the indians and mestizos called them to retaliate against the hated Gachupines, or native Spaniards, who had exploited and oppressed Mexicans for ten generations.

As far as the Criollos, I found this...

The Criollos (singular: Criollo) were a social class in the caste system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casta) of the overseas colonies established by Spain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_colonization_of_the_Americas) in the 16th century, especially in Latin America (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_America), comprising the locally born people of pure or mostly Spanish (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_people) ancestry.[2] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criollo_people#cite_note-donghi-1)
The Criollo class ranked below that of the Iberian Peninsulares (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peninsulares), the high-born yet still commoner class of permanent residence colonists; born in Spain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spain), but who were permanent residents of the colony. But Criollos were higher status/rank than all other castes — people of mixed descent, Amerindians, and enslaved Africans (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_people). According to the casta system, a criollo could legally have up to 1/8 (one great-grandparent or equivalent) Amerindian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amerindian) (Octoroon), ancestry and not lose social place.

And the Mestizos..mestizo, plural mestizos, feminine mestiza, any person of mixed blood. In Central and South America (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/555844/South-America) it denotes a person of combined Indian and European extraction. In some countries—e.g., Ecuador—it has acquired social and cultural connotations; a pure-blooded Indian who has adopted European dress and customs is called a mestizo (or cholo).

Peons...
Labor was in great need to support the expanding agriculture, mining, industrial, and public-work jobs that arose from conquerors settling in the Americas. To account for these jobs a system came about where creditors forced debtors to work for them. This system of involuntary servitude was called peonage.
The origin of this form of involuntary servitude (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Involuntary_servitude) goes back to the Spanish conquest of Mexico (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_conquest_of_Mexico) when conquistadors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conquistador) forced poor Natives to work for Spanish planters and mine operators. Peonage was prevalent in Spanish America especially in the countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Peru. It remains an important part of social life, as among the Urarina (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urarina) of the Peruvian Amazon.

As far as I know from what I've read, the social order of Gachupines, Criollos, Mestizos and Peons was a very real influence on the lives of the people of the new colonies of Mexico. The greed and coruption of the new government is also an established fact and affected everyone's life. I didn't really dwell on the original conquering of the indigenous people, but mentioned it as well as the disease that they brought. Where did I go wrong?

Ditch
January 1st, 2011, 01:33 PM
Also, other than the formatting, how was the story once you waded through the plodding prologue? I started another thread about an entire chapter springing from one sentence or thought. My wife was telling me that the main character needed to be ruggedly handsome, not a pretty boy. I replied, "Yes, he needs a scar on his face."

Facing the jaguar was a test of his manhood put to him by his uncle. without looking at the format, how is the story? Let me fast forward just a little...

When Felipe entered the barn Andreas was waiting with a calf on a rope. Without a word, they proceeded out to the far end of the pasture. Andreas had already pounded a stake deep into the ground and he tied the calf to it. As if sensing it's fate, the calf began to cry out loudly as soon as they walked away. Dusk was upon them and the night was falling quickly, the full moon hung low in the evening sky.

Andreas had made a blind out of some shrubs, he had left an opening facing the calf at a good bow range and instructed Felipe, " As soon as you shoot, step out of the blind so that you can have the freedom of movement. There is no need to try to conceal yourself, as his eyes will pick you out as if you had a lantern shining on you. Take your shot while the calf is still struggling so the sound of your bowstring will be hidden by his struggles. His reflexes and hearing are so sharp, he will hear the sound of your string and jump the string. Hit him in his heart, not his lungs, then be ready with your lance and strike the center of his chest as he leaps at you. God be with you. I will be at the barn, when you come back we will return and I will help you drag the beast back." With that, Andreas turned and silently walked away.

The night was falling fast and the sound of the insects, frogs and night birds began. Felipe had never noticed how loud they were before, but now they were like a curse. How would he ever hear the beast approaching with this going on? The calf cried out without stopping for it's mother and herd, left alone in the night. After a very short time it was dark, but the full moon illuminated the ground with a silvery light. The shadows grew as the hours passed.

Felipe tried to imagine how much time had passed, it seemed like forever. Perhaps his Uncle Andreas was wrong and the jaguar was not coming tonight. The night wore on, past midnight when suddenly the calf stopped crying out and lowered it's head, peering toward the west. Then it panicked and tried to back away, struggling at the end of the rope crying out loudly. Felipe's heart was pounding so hard he was sure that it could be heard. He very slowly eased his head forward and looked with one eye in the direction that the calf was trying to escape from. He saw nothing but the eerie, moonlit ground. No shape, only shadows.