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fcbkid15
April 11th, 2012, 01:43 AM
This originally was a short story I wrote awhile back, but I liked the plot of it and the characters. So I fleshed them out, and decided to make it a full length story. I changed it up, revised it, and came up for a long time story for the characters, not just some 15 page short story. Critique's are welcome, and wanted.

Chapter 1: The Dark

The tavern smelled of mildew. Mildew and stale whiskey, just like every other tavern in Oaken. It was quiet, only a handful of people were sipping from their mugs. A drunkard was napping by the window. The counter, wooden and stained with ale from years of spilled drinks, was empty, the seats bare.


Behind the counter was a sleepy man with a dirty gray apron. Perhaps it was white at sometime, but this man had obviously been here awhile. He looked up at the sound of the creaky door opening.


“Hullo. Little late in' it?” His accent was from the islands, Thea. The man who walked in, tall, cloaked, and hooded, looked up in his direction.


“Yes. A little far inland for a man from the islands, isn't it?” He replied.


“Wull, yeah. But the islands dun't take ta my liquor to kindly. There it's banned.”


“So I've heard. Some new rules, huh? Liquor banned? Nowhere I wanna be found.” He pulled down his hood revealing deep green eyes and a stubbly chin. Pulling his cloak back he let the bartender see a sword hilt. He was taken aback a bit.


“Look, please don't hurt me, I'm just a man trying to make a living, nothing else.”


“Oh, no, no, I'm just taking off my cloak, getting comfortable, is all.”


The bartender eased down some, and went through his usual speech whenever a customer stopped by.


“You interested in a room upstairs?”


“Well, I'm glad you asked me that. Not particularly a room for me, but a room for somebody. Merek Frowns.”


“Frowns? Yeah, he's uh, he's jerst right up those sturs.” He jerked a thumb at a staircase to the left.


“Well, obviously. I meant what room?”


“Uh, I'm not supposed to tell you that infermation.” He stuttered a little. But the man reached into a pouch by his belt and pulled out a small pamphlet. He unfolded it, and it revealed the king's royal seal: a curled hawk holding a sword.


“Rest assured, my buisness from the king requires that information. No harm will come to Sir Frowns.” The barkeeper felt reluctant to tell this cloaked man the information, but the king's orders where not to be disobeyed. Even out in the far reaches of the kingdom, where criminals and thieves where more common than farmers, refusing an order from the king, or one of his officials, would not go unnoticed.


“So be it. Furst room on ther left. If there's any funny buisness or nothing, just take it outside. I'm about to get these stragglers outta here, and go get some rests. So be quiet.”


“Thank you much. His Royal majesty gives you his highest regards.” The man nodded and proceeded up the stairs, each one creaking under his worn leather boots.


The staircase ended shortly and he found Sir Frowns door. He knocked first, but to no avail. He knocked again, this time a little harder. There was a groan, as if the person inside was almost saying go away. The man sighed and reached into his pouch again, feeling around for a tool. He felt the King's document, a few coins, and than solid metal, rough but cool. He clenched it in his fist and pulled it out.


It was a straight cylinder, with a claw like device on one end. There was a fin at the other end, and when pushed down it would close the claw. It was roughly made, but was perfect for lock picking. He pushed it into the keyhole and pushed down the fin, hearing a satisfying click. When he pulled it out there was a crumpled piece of metal in between the claw. Discarding it, he opened the door and entered the room.


The room reeked of sweat and cheap whiskey. There was a lump in the old bed, which moved about with every noise the man made.


“Sir Frowns, wake up!” He yelled. The lump did nothing. “Sir Frowns!” This time it stirred a little, but than lay still. Now he was getting frustrated. He shook the bed, yet still nothing. Finally he resolved to placing his foot firmly on the side of the bed, and pushing. Sheet, blankets, lump and all fell flat on the floor, and the lump awoke in a furious movement, trying to get the sheets off.


“What in heavens? Who?!” He looked up and his face grew red with anger. “What the hell are you doing here?! Get out you filthy scum!”


“I was sent by the king himself to come and retrieve you. I am Cesper Tunis.”


“I don't care who you are, you don't knock over my damn bed while I'm sleeping!” Merek shouted. “Now you can't just come and retrieve me like a dog retrieves a bird. I'm a human!”


Cesper looked over the man lying on the floor. He wasn't lean and thin, but wasn't potbellied either. He was somewhere in between. His dark brown hair was long, and he had almost a full beard. His face was scarred and wrinkled.


“Well, barely. And if you don't want to be retrieved like a bird, than I guess you'd rather have the royal army busting down the doors on this place, and dragging you out on your knees.” Cesper placed his hand on his hilt.


“I don't care who comes, I'll fight anyone. They'll never take me.”


“I doubt that. You may have once been the great Sir Merek Frowns, but now all I see in front of me is a dirty old drunkard with no regard for his life. You once led armies into battle fearlessly, leaving your opponents shaking in their boots. Your one on one combat with a blade was known throughout the lands! But now, well, I look at you now and see a pathetic old drunk.”


“Hey! Nobody insults me! I'm the great Sir Merek Frowns, like you stated! I could beat you easily! I could take on a whole army by myself-” At this point Cesper had had enough and unsheathed his sword, slamming his pommel against the side of Merek's head, knocking him out cold. A large bump started appearing on the left side of his forehead, red and swelling.


“Well, looks like I'm as powerful as an army now, Sir Frowns. Now, let's get you outside and on the go. We want to put as much distance between us and them as possible.” Cesper grabbed Merek underneath his arms, and propped him up on his feet. He than dragged him through the doorway and into the hall. His feet dragged behind him, and thudded once Cesper reached the first step.


“Damn. I can't go waking everyone up with this.” He peered down through at the bottom floor and saw it deserted, with the lamps put out.


“At least nobody will see this and think suspiciously.” Cesper looked down into Mereks eyes, as if expecting a reply.


Merek was heavier than he looked. Cesper picked him up completely, not risking being heard and waking up the taverns inmates. He let out a heavy sigh, and strained his muscles. Slowly but surely he made his way down the stairs. Luckily the the staircase wasn't that long, and Cesper quickly made his way to the bottom.


Reaching the last step Cesper nearly dropped Merek, but caught him just in the nick of time. Sighing with relief, he grabbed Merek once more and continued dragging him until he reached the door. He reached for the door handle with one hand, holding up Merek with the other. Fumbling with the knob, he couldn't get it open.


“Of course. Well, Mr. Frowns, say hello to the floor.” He slowly let Merek down on the ground and reached into his pouch, pulling out his trusty tool. “Let's just hope their not waiting out there.”




The night ride ensuing was a miserable one for Cesper. He tied Merek down to the back of his horses saddle, which was a more complicated task than he had thought. Merek had woken up once Cesper slumped him across the saddle, and put up a fight trying to escape.


“You aren't taking me anywhere, you filthy swine!” He had yelled out when he first awoke, thrashing with his fists.


“Listen! If I don't take you now, you'll be killed!” Cesper had tried to talk reason into him, but to no avail. Eventually he just put the fight to and end by unsheathing his sword and giving Merek a bump on the right side of his forehead this time.


“This is gonna be a long night.” He sighed to himself and got to work tying Merek down. To ensure Merek couldn't escape, he didn't just let his arms and legs dangle off the sides. He tied them together underneath the horse, so he was completely wrapped around it.


For most of the night Merek was out cold, but he began to wake towards sunrise. This time Cesper didn't knock him upside the head with his pommel, for fear of causing severe damage to his brain. Instead he let him squirm about, for he wasn't much of a fighter after two blows to the head.


“Your gonna pay for this you – Ahhh! My goddamn head!” He thrashed and screamed, rubbing his forehead with his hand. “What did you do? It hurts like hell!”


“Yeah, yeah. That should go away in about in hour. It helps if you go back to sleep.” Cesper continued on, urging his horse up the trail, which was getting steeper as they headed farther up the mountains. Trees started dotting the mountainside, and soon the trail was surrounded by them. The soggy snow covering their branches, from the winter's long thaw.


Once they were about halfway up the mountain, Cesper started looking for a clear spot to stretch his tired legs, and eat what little provisions he had. Just the thought of food made his stomach grumble.


Eventually, he brought his horse to a stop at a ledge overlooking the valley. It was clear of trees, and large enough to sit a small house. Cesper dismounted and stretched his body.


“Hey! Untie me! I've been the least comfortable here!” Merek ordered.


“Actually, I think that'd be Shengard. He's the one that's been carrying us all night. And untying you would be a bad idea, for you stated that once I did that, you'd kill me. So you've just dug yourself in a deep hole.” Cesper pointed out and reached back to a pack tied to the side of his saddle. He pulled out a canteen and started drinking from it.


“At least give me some water!” He shouted, his face turning red. Cesper gave him one look and throw the canteen over to him. It fell from the air into a small pile of leaves.


“What, arms got tired?” Cesper chuckled.


Merek tried a calmer approach, although he was about burst.


“Very funny. But please, I'm dehydrated and I have a bruising headache.”


Cesper did feel some concern for him, for he couldn't come back to the king with Merek dead.


“Alright. I'll make a deal with you. I'll cut you loose and give you water, but you can't attack me once your untied and you have to listen to me, and come with me. And before you yell and disagree, just hear me out.” Cesper paused and looked at Merek for some sort of acknowledgement. Getting nothing, he continued. “You need to come with me. There are bad men on the hunt for you. They are searching all of Kreod for you, and they will find you. These men are ruthless. They will not stop until their mission is completed, and they have you dead. And you see, the king, he sent me out to find you. I was searching for you for half a year, hoping I got to you before they did.”


Merek interrupted. “Well, who exactly are they?”


Cesper strode over to the edge of the jagged rock ledge, and peered down into the valley, searching the town they were just in. His deep green eyes searched left and right, until he found what he was looking for. Pointing down at the inn they had been in the previous night, he called over to Merek.


“That's who “They” are.” Cesper called Shengard over and motioned for him to stand by him. The horse did so and Merek could see over the edge. Barely recognizable, but still could be made out as people, there was a group of black clad men standing outside the inn. Cesper reached into a pack on Shengard's saddle, and pulled out a telescope. He held it up to Merek's eye and adjusted it.


“See them? That's the Abril. They have been searching for you for longer than I have. I just beat them to you. But they still won't give up. Their expert tracking skills will lead them right here in probably an hour. “


“How do I know your not just lying to me?” Merek protested.


“Well, because nobody would want you that bad.” Cesper said pointing at Merek's unkempt appearance. “And the Abril are down there. Did you not see? I'm pretty sure I didn't hit you eyes. Just your head.”


“Well, you could have paid some people to dress up, or something” Cesper had had enough of Merek's denial and protests, and wanted to put some reason in his thick head.


“Listen! The King wants you because there is soon to be a coming war with Korak. We need you. The kingdom needs you! You were the best general the army has ever had. The current one is an incompetent fool, in my opinion. We need you to lead our army! Once we heard that Korak sent out The Abril to come and kill you, the king immediately sent for me to save you. If you don't believe me, than I can untie you and send you back down to the inn.” Cesper finished and put his telescope back in his pack. “You better make a decision quickly, because that innkeeper probably told them you were staying there.”


Merek looked back down at town. “Vex. His name is Vex.”


“What?”


“The innkeeper's name is Vex. And The Abril probably killed him by now. He wouldn't have told them anything.”


“He told me. Why wouldn't he tell them?”


Merek looked away. “Because he's a good man. Or was a good man.


“Well, thats great. So are you with me or not?”


“I don't want to be. But if what you say about The Abril is true, than I guess I have no choice. I still have some common sense, and going with you seems to be the smartest thing to do right now. Leading the army, on the other hand, I've yet to decide on. We'll see about that on the way. Now can you cut me down, and can we leave?”


“Can't. I'm waiting for somebody.”


“What? Wait for somebody? You said it yourself! The Abril are down there, heading for us!”


“Will you shut up? I'll cut you down. Just stop making so much noise, do you want to make it obvious where we are?”


“No! But can't we just move farther up the mountain, to be at a safe distance from them?”


“No, I told my friend, Peter, to meet us right here. So don't worry, he'll be here before them. He's coming up the mountains from the north, which is a shorter trip than from the south, where The Abril are coming from. We'll be fine. Besides, he's bringing another horse for you.”


***


“Goddamn it! Merek, get in the front, your who they are trying to kill, we got your back!” Cesper shouted his command as The Abril closed in on them. They needed to reach the valley below the Cirmonian mountain range, and get to the village in the center of it. There they would be safe, but it was at least a mile away from the edge of the valley, and Cesper and his group were only halfway down the mountain.


“This way, quickly!” Cesper shouted as he drew his sword and Peter choose two throwing knives from the mini arsenal on his belt.


“Eh, I can fight too!” Merek shouted back in protest. Cesper ignored him and kept pushing on. The bottom of the mountain was getting closer to them with every second, but not as close as The Abril.


An arrow zipped past Cesper's ear, and thudded right into a tree in front of him.


“Damn. Peter, Merek, push up, go as fast as you can!”


Just before Cesper could nudge his horse to go faster, one Abril shot an arrow right in its' leg. It, along with Cesper, toppled over in a mass of bags and cloaks. Another arrow buried itself into his horses stomach, and one last into Cespers shoulder.


“Aghh!” He yelled out, breaking it in half and unsheathing his sword. “Peter, get ready to fight! Merek, you, do what you can.”


“Hey, I may be old, but I still got fight left in me!” He shouted back to Cesper as he reigned in his horse and hopped off.


“Cesper, this'll be just like the assassins in Dristy!” Peter cheerfully laughed to his friend as he threw one of his knives straight at an incoming assassin. It found its way into his chest, but nothing happened after that.


“Your gonna need more than knives to stop them Peter! They've got armor as tough as dragon scales!” He shouted advice as he ducked under an Abril sword and slashed up with his own. He stabbed the assassin's horse right in the chest. It crashed down, taking the Abril with it. Cesper stabbed down at him quickly. The force he put behind his stab induced the pain in his shoulder, and he remembered the arrow. He could see the blood seeping through his leather vest, soaking into it.


“Arghhh!” He shouted out.


Surveying the battle, he saw there were seven assassin's plus the one he just killed. Peter was warding off one with his own sword, and Merek was slashing back and forth at two of them with a small ax he must have gotten from the downed Abril. Three more were closing in on Peter, from behind.


“Pete! Behind you!” He said as he began to run over to aid his friend. But he was stopped by a sudden force the knocked him back. It was the last Abril, who rammed into him with his the pommel of his sword, and sent him to the ground.


Cesper crumpled to his knees in pain, and felt cold steel on the back of his neck.


“Ast rin! Em mig neuten dint em mem blaz!” Cesper could not understand the archaic language used by the Abril, but he could understand it was something about him getting beheaded. That much was clear.


“Leave him alone you hooded bastards!” Peter yelled out as he began to slice at the three other assassins who got him from behind. Merek had killed one of his attackers, but was having trouble with the last, as he was pinned up against a tree.

Then Cesper felt the cold leave his neck as the sword was lifted away. But soon to swing back and end his life. Cesper was quick enough though, and as soon as he felt the sword leave his neck, he rolled away and kicked out his opponent. He landed a foot right in the assassin's gut, and got up, feeling a large bruise on his ribcage.


He grabbed his sword, ducked as his opponent's sword nearly sliced off his head, and stabbed him right where he kicked him. Pulling the sword out of the Abril's stomach, he ran over to help Peter. One of the Abril saw him coming and ran towards him, sword raised and blood rushing. Cesper didn't slow down, but instead sped up and caught the assassin right in his thigh. He ran past him, stabbed backwards, and moved on to the other three Abril surrounding Peter.


Cesper stabbed one who was turning towards him, and Peter found his chance to stab and kill the other one who was distracted by his friend. Their were two left, the one Peter was originally fighting, and the one who had Merek hopelessly pinned up against a tree. Cesper ran to help Merek as Peter turned to face the other assassin.


Merek was aimlessly swinging at his attacker, but to no avail. The assassin sliced his hand, making him drop the ax. He let out a scream, and cursed at the assassin, who was moving in for the final blow. But Cesper came in right behind him, and finished him.


Peter was still fighting the last assassin, but that fight quickly ended as Merek and Cesper came to his aid and overwhelmed the assassin. The three fought against one, and Merek was the one to have the killing blow, as he sliced down with his ax.


Cesper sighed and grabbed his shoulder. Merek rubbed his wrist, and peter rolled up his pants to reveal as large cut in his left thigh.


“Ssss. That hurts.” He said through clenched teeth.


Cesper looked at Merek questioningly, wondering if he needed help with his wrist.


“Eh, nothing a little ale won't fix.” Merek replied, and Cesper moved on to Peter.


“Pete, that looks bad. How far away is the town? We need to get you some herbs or something to put on that.”


“Ah, probably, let's see. Were at the bottom of the mountain, so probably half a mile away. Maybe three quarters of a mile.”


Merek began counting the bodies. Eight.


“Hey, guys, I saw at least fourteen or fifteen following us. But only seven attacked us. If we continue on, we'll probably walk right into an ambush.”


“No, we won't. I'll tell you about that later. But right no we need to get to the town, and get Peter some help.” Cesper waved away Merek's concern, and moved over to peter. He lifted him up on the horse.


“Merek, can you bring me the things from Shengard's saddle?”


Peter looked over at Shengard.


“What? Shengard's dead? Cesper, I'm – “


“It's okay, I just got him form some stables in Oaken. I left my horse back in Castin.”


Merek came back with the large pack attached to the back of the saddle, the tent and blankets rolled up, and a sword sheath. “Here.” He plopped them down and continued to his own horse.


Cesper adjusted Peter's horses saddle, and tied the blankets and tent on the back, strapped the sheath to the side, and lay the pack down over the blankets, tying that down as well.


“Peter, you gonna be okay?”


“Yeah. Well, maybe. I mean, it's not that bad. Just a little scratch.”


“I think it's more than a scratch. Here, reach into the small pocket on the side of my bag. Drink whats in there, it should reduce the pain.”


Peter did as he said, and took out a small canteen. He opened it and sniffed at it.

“Gods! That smells terrible. What is this, Squirrel scat?”

“Almost. But it doesn't taste as bad as it smells. Just drink it. Its a herbal mixture that really reduces pain.”


Merek shouted out as the sun was beginning to set.


“Hey, can we hurry up? I wanna get there before it gets dark. Who knows if The Abril are still out there.”


“We won't get there before dark, that's inevitable. But we can get there before morning and, hopefully get a good night's rest.”


“There's lanterns lighting the path to the town, don't worry about not being able to see.” Peter told them, and downed his first sip of the remedy.


“Ach! Cesper, your right, it doesn't taste as bad as it smells. It's even worse!”


***


The only thing lighting the way were lanterns hung from trees every few meters. Peter had was barely conscious and dozed off every now and then. Cesper was pushing the horse as fast as it could go, almost leaving Merek behind.


“Hey, wait for me dammit!” He caught up to Cesper and they were now going at an even pace. “So what'd you say about The Abril before? How they won't ambush us for awhile?”


Cesper looked over at Merek. “Oh, yes. That was their first attack. They send out half a dozen or so men to attack their target, or targets in our case, while the others in the group peel away and observe. They watch their target's fighting skills and what they are going up against, and once the fight is over, if the target survives, they devise a plan, a method of how they will take down their target. They observe their weaknesses, their strengths, and what weapons they were strong against, weak against, and so on. They even take the injuries their target got in the fight into count, and think of how that will weaken them.”

Merek looked down. “So, basically, what your saying is that next time they face us, were pretty much dead?”


“Well, yes. Basically. But not if we can get in the clear before morning. They take the night to rest, and attack the next day.


“So it's a race against time, then?”


“Exactly.”


“How do you know so much about them?”


Cesper looked pushed forward as he could see the vague glow of civilization.


“I studied them for months before I took up this job. I don't know them inside and out, but pretty close to it. Even talked to an ex member of The Abril. But that's a story for another time.”

QDOS
April 12th, 2012, 10:31 AM
Hi,

Who is Cesper Tunis. An imminent war requires locating a renown general, Sir Merek Frowns with a kings summons. I think you need to expand on these with more detail right at the beginning to draw the reader in. Maybe a prologue on a past conflict and the present (let us say) uneasy status quo!


OK - a quick review shows a number of errors:- typos, spelling mistakes, missing punctuation and sentence inconstancies. Colloquial dialogue always a difficult one is best left identified by statements in the text. The choreography of your fight scene with the Abril and the build up could do with a bit more of a sinister element, as I think that’s what you’re trying to imply.


All the best.

QDOS :read:

Nevermore
April 12th, 2012, 11:20 AM
I'm extremely fond of the way you've set up the writing style and story, and I'm also fond of the growing sense of tension and mystery around each character, the way their responses hint at a deeper, more complicated motive or past. However, what you may need to work on here is the fight scenes build up. Rather than jump into the middle of it, it might be interesting to create a build up of suspense and all manner of sinister-ness.

DRest806
April 22nd, 2012, 09:31 PM
I really like this alot! Great job! :-D

Gravehound
April 23rd, 2012, 08:42 AM
You should be carefull not to post to much text in one go. Post a bit and let it linger, then you can post the rest.
More people will be inclined to read it this way. It might scare people off the way it is now (feels like a chore to read)

Aside from that it's not bad but remember the things that have already been said above.
Edit it a little and it will be more relaxing to read
Cheers GHound

Blue Blazer
May 3rd, 2012, 07:08 PM
Hi,
Colloquial dialogue always a difficult one is best left identified by statements in the text.

I think a hard thing to remember when creating dialogue for a distant time period is remembering that although the terms, accents, etc. are often different from our own, people basically have always spoken with the same level of simplicity that they do now. They just sounded a lot cooler. Also, moments where characters speak to themselves a lot shows a slightly forced kind of exposition that can be done in other, more natural ways. Understandably, you want your audience to get some of the backstory in ways other than just explicitly giving a history of events, but it needs to be in a way that keeps your characters as true-to-life as possible. Unless it's a character in a Shakespeare play or a golden age comic book, that sort of "aside" doesn't really work.

Snowmantheory
May 6th, 2012, 03:01 AM
I see a good plot here. A few problems, the first being grammar. Also, try to stray the narration from focusing on one character. Try to paint the whole picture rather than just filling in the space with that one character's thoughts. Last but not at all least, roll the dice a little. Don't make it known who you are going to make victorious. Don't even choose sides, at the end of your story you should decide who would win were it not in your control. Sometimes you might even want to roll a die to figure the outcome of a battle. Other than that, the story has good potential, I hope you find this helpful.

WiredNun
May 9th, 2012, 07:45 PM
Apostrophes are not used for plurals. "Critique's" (sic) for example.

Word usage: sometime vs. some time, clawlike vs. claw like, for example. Have to know your words. If you are not sure, look them up.

Also typos. Use spell check.

fcbkid15
May 19th, 2012, 02:44 AM
Thank you everyone for all of the critiques. This was a short story before, so I didn't really build up the fight scene, just jumped right into it. But I'll fix it, and I'm currently working on a prologue, just kind of stuck with writer block. On the typos and grammar, I always just speed through when I'm in a writing mood, and sometimes forget to check it again before I post it on forums. So that will defiantly be fixed. Thanks again everyone!