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Michaelj
May 12th, 2013, 11:40 AM
Hey guys, I've decided I'm going to post chapter by chapter in this thread. I don't really intend to make profit of it, it's my first story and it's more about learning for me. I've already done several chapters so I will post the chapters over time to get feedback, etc. But please, tell me if you enjoy the chapters and characters, that's more important to me than how I write the story. You can be the best writer, but if you lack the imagination then the story won't work.

It's done with various character chapters in different locations. I'd say this is possibly my weakest chapter as it is my first.

Chapter One: Bartmello I

The vulgels could smell death from the skies as they loomed above the clouds that were set ablaze with the fire from the falling sun. Their appearance was truly repulsing. These flying things could also be known as scabrous flying giant rats as they flew above lurking. The vulgels with their sharp red eyes and razor sharp claws were hungry as they waited to feast on the dead.

They hovered above a small encampment, eager and starving. This encampment had dozens of small, dirty yellow tents. Around the tents were men in violet coloured jackets that were bimbling around casually without a bother in the world. Surrounding the tents and people were a few rusty cannons, beautiful horses and wagons full of weapons, ammunition, cloth, tobacco, alcohol and other various goods. Encircling the camp was a vast forest, full of healthy green trees that were buzzing with wildlife that sang songs. There was a river to the east; men were using it to fill up their rusty canteens as the water glimmered in the sunshine. Beyond all that were bored sentries who were slumped on their weapons as they stared at their feet.

In the centre of the encampment was a group of despondent ragged men and women in white, shabby shirts who were tied up and graciously piled up on the floor. There were guards posted to watch over these people. These people were the labourers and some of them were to be killed for no longer being useful.

This place was Camp Bloodmoore. It was the place men and women were sent to, to die for their crimes that they may or may not have committed and the vulgels knew they’d eat well. It was the place prisoners were sent, forced to work until they were so exhausted that they had become so obsolete and useless that keeping them around would be a waste of rations. If you would pity the dead, then this dreadful place would most certainly be the right place to be.

A prisoner with wild, red hair looked at the blue sky as the birds roamed about. “Damn ugly things. Don’t yer think?” He asked the man sat in front of him, as if he was trying to make conversation out of pure boredom.

The man in front of him didn’t have much to say. He had piercing green eyes, dark wiry hair; his beard just as dark and scruffy as his hair. Over his right eye-brow his greasy hair almost covered a distinctive scar that went horizontally across his forehead. He grunted, trying to daydream of pleasant memories. He daydreamed of when he was sat on his lavish couch by the fire; drinking a glass of red wine. He daydreamed of playing sports with his friends and he thought about his friends a lot. He most definitely missed their company. He thought of Snell the big clumsy oaf; a man who was dumb but had a massive heart. He thought of Teon who was over-confident but a damn good man and he thought about Dawn… The woman who he loved but she only loved him as the brother she never had.

The men and women surrounding him were fouler than he was (he didn’t consider himself foul on a typical day). One man decided for some bizarre reason at one point in his life to cut the bags under his eyes with a razor sharp dirk, leaving two huge scars under his pale eyes. Another man’s face was covered in red tattoos, possibly to mark him as a slave.. One woman looked like she was daydreaming herself and gave a toothless grin as if she was smiling at some unknown entity. An elderly woman looked like she hadn’t had a wash in her entire life, her grey hair all patchy and thinning.

The days went by and each forenoon two or three people would be put to death. Forced to the ground on their knees, their head placed against the stone pedestal and a pistol aimed at the side of their head.

The executioner rather than wearing a violet coloured jacket, donned a pressed yellow jacket with a red cross on it with three white stripes on his right arm; the coat of the Hupel guard. They were sworn to keep the peace and to enforce the law. This executioner was a fearsome looking man. He only had one eye; his left eye was covered with a moss eye patch. His dirty grey hair was receding. He was a very tall man, towering over most people at seven foot tall and his hardened face was scarred and without remorse each time he pulled the trigger.

As day by day went, prisoners were leaving. Lysan the toothless woman, Bert the man with two huge scars under his eyes, Drew the man with tattoos on his face and the elderly woman whose name nobody knew. Their bodies were then tossed aside, flung into a dark pit where the vulgels would swoop down in great numbers and fight over the dead flesh.

Nobody knew his name either. He did tell people his name at first. However now he didn’t talk to anyone anymore. People were coming and people were leaving all the time. Some people came and within a fortnight, they were dead. The man pondered on the fact why he was still alive after five months and ten days. He even contemplated not eating the stale food and not drinking the lewd water that was given to the prisoners. He became weaker and weaker as the days went by.

An elderly man got heaved to his feet, scowling. A wormy looking man, looking elegant in his sumptuous black jacket and golden jewellery held a piece of paper in front of him. He explained to him that he was to be put to death for being an oath breaker, a murderer and his time as a labourer was done. The elderly man protested that it wasn’t true and cursed and spat when a priest in a brown robe asked him if he would care for a prayer before he died. The executioner who seemingly didn’t have a conscience ended his life within a second with the pull of a trigger. The man with dark hair grew restless as he hoped his death would come sooner rather than later.

The work they had to do was gruelling. When they were not sat around tied up, they were sapping up their remaining energy by dying clothes, mining, and repairing clothes. If they didn’t meet the standard required of them, they were deemed not of use. Some chose to end their miserable lives quicker and opted for the ‘not of use’ approach. Though most decided to cling onto hope that they may one day be spared.

The dark haired man fell asleep again. His dreams were chilling at first but he eventually grew used to them. Dreams of almost being executed only to still be alive as the vulgels dug into his soft and tender flesh, tearing his insides out with their razor sharp claws. When he woke up it was more pleasing for him than when he had the nightmares. He would simply go back to daydreaming of his past and more pleasant memories.

After six months and three days, everything seemed to change. He woke up at nightfall sensing that he was being watched upon and saw the terrifying looking executioner pointing in his direction. The executioner was talking to a handsome man with lightly oiled auburn hair, he had crystal blue eyes and looked smart despite wearing a greatcoat, particularly by the gold jewellery that glittered in the moonlight from his fingers. The jewellery around his fingers identified this man as the commanding officer of the encampment.

The executioner marched over. “Up.” He ordered. When the unnourished man with piercing green eyes refused to stand, he simply grabbed him by his right arm and hauled him to his feet as if he was a little boy. “Perhaps it’s your lucky day, lad. Come now, the major would like to talk to you.” The executioner gripped the rope that was tying the dark haired man’s arms together and dragged him towards the man known as ‘major’, lobbing him to the floor. “This is the man, sir.”

The handsome man stared at the dark haired man who had a hideous scar on his forehead for a few good seconds. “Thank you, sergeant, return to your duties.” The sergeant saluted and marched off in the opposite direction. “Some people in high places have been asking about you, lieutenant.” The man paused momentarily to see his reaction. “Oh don’t be too surprised, there was a reason we haven’t killed you yet. The real question is why lie about your rank and name upon capture?”

The dark haired man was almost speechless. “…I have already been tried by the courts.”

“I have already been tried by the courts ‘sir’,” The major corrected him. “Come now, we would have words in private, Mister Edwin Freeman,” The major sighed and stared at him for another few seconds, “But this is not your real name is it?”

“No, sir,” He added the sir meekly. “Lieutenant Bartmello Lehanard, but you knew that already didn’t you?”

“Good, I’m Major Arron Piggot. Now we got the introductions out of the way, let’s continue this conversation in my tent.” He held out a hand for Bartmello and helped him up to his feet so that he was standing, his legs still feeling like jelly.

As Bartmello followed the major, he saw that all the soldiers of the camp were staring at him with curious eyes. Did everybody know? It seemed even the whores of the camp were aware of who he was, one even giggled as she lifted up her skirt for him as he walked past, trying to ignore her. He wondered if and how they found out the truth and wished he could have just had his brains blown out as an alternative. Maybe that would have been an easier solution?

The major kicked a growling mongrel that was blocking the path towards his tent and the dog ran off whimpering, scattering off far into the woods. He saluted his two guards as he entered his tent and beckoned Bart to follow him inside.

Inside the tent was nothing special. The dim light from the candles within the tent revealed that there was a bed, a chest, a chair and a wooden table; on top of the wooden table were documents, maps and a quill. Major Arron Piggot sat down to face Bartmello. “Care for a drink, lieutenant, wine perhaps? I imagine it’s been a while.”

“I am no longer an officer of this army, sir.” Bartmello almost snapped but remained cool.

Arron looked in to his eyes fiercely. “You are an officer, damn you. At least until we or the damned enemy have your head. Or you could have perchance resigned?” Arron apparently didn’t expect an answer and opened up the chest that was near his chair. He took out two wine glasses, placing both on the wooden table, then took out a bottle of wine and placed that on the table also. “Laday Redd Rose, only the best,” He poured the wine into the two wine glasses and handed one to Bart. “Here, drink.” He ordered.

Bartmello obeyed, it had been almost a year since he had a drop of alcohol. Since his arms were tied together he had to pick up the glass of wine with both of his hands. He felt the warm and sour liquid as he poured it down his gullet and placed the empty wine glass on the table. “Thank you, sir…”

Arron waved his courtesies aside. “So why didn’t you resign, lieutenant?” He asked as if the alcohol would make him loosen his tongue.

“Don’t really know, why the sudden curiosity, major?”

Arron frowned at him, still with the wine glass in his hand. “I think you know. It wasn’t just people in high places who took a keen interest in you, it was the damned minister.”

If Bartmello was surprised he was a highly skilled actor. “Really, sir?”

“’The man with the scarred forehead, Lieutenant Bartmello Lehanard is not to be executed, I would have words with him’,” Arron Piggot said with the wine glass still in his hand that was reflecting his fierce glare, “Minister Drappen’s own writing. Why does he want to talk to you so badly?”

“How’s it your bloody business?” Bartmello this time did snap, “Look, I deserted the army rather than handing in my buttons and I got arrested and tried and sentenced to die as a labourer. That should be your problem, not the bloody fact the minister wants to talk to me! You see-“

“You were tried under the identity of Corporal Edwin Freeman,” The major said calmly and collectively, taking a sip from his wine glass, “Why did you desert the army?” The major asked again.

“I ran into some problems, sir, over at Jumm Island. I got too scared and ran. I left my men to fend for themselves.”

“You’re a damned bad liar, lieutenant. I already know half the truth. I just need to know what the minister wants with you.”

Bartmello grinned. “If you know half the truth then I’m a dead man, either way. I either get executed here or I die a slow a painful death. What would you choose?” Bart was a little surprised to say the least, but he kind of knew the talk would make it to Stormsand Kingdom eventually. The talk about the mishaps that happened on Jumm Island... The mishaps which caused him to desert and to run away and feel like a coward. He still felt a coward most of the time and liked to think he perhaps deserved death.

Oddly the major had pity in his crystal blue eyes. “I would expect you as a gentleman to do the honourable thing.” He took another sip out of his wine glass.

Bartmello laughed. “Gentleman? You mean like those heathens at Jumm Island? No, sir, I am no gentleman. I still have a bit of honour though, that’s why I allowed myself to get captured. I wanted to die. How that bastard of a minister found out I was captured, is beyond me. Wait. You want me to grass up the minister, don’t you? Oh sorry I didn’t call you sir, sorry, sir. But I couldn’t care less about the man. The man was a heathen but I am not going to grass him up,” Bartmello played with his rugged beard. “Sir.” He added the sir so indecently that it could have been insubordination.

Major Piggot’s glaring eyes came back. “Then why did you not stay?”

Bartmello felt a surge of rage. “With those ‘gentlemen’? What do you take me for? A rapist? A murderer of women and children?”

Arron Piggot tried to remain calm. “No but-“

Bartmello interrupted. “Now I have a question, sir, if you don’t mind.”

The major was almost relieved. “Yes, go ahead.”

“Why did it take you damn near seven months to question me?”

The major wasn’t use to this type of insolence. If it was a prisoner he was talking to, usually they were extra courteous just so they didn’t end up amongst the dead. “I had to be sure…”

“Sure about what?” Bartmello snapped at the man. Damn the bastard! Bartmello thought, perhaps I could kill him?

“That I could trust you, lieutenant,”

Bartmello had gone from feeling like a raged hormonal woman to a confused little boy. “That you could trust me?”

“We had suspicions that his activities in the Jumm Islands were of an illegal activity. However we lack the evidence to prosecute the man. Even if you were to offer a witness statement, we’d need more concise evidence to take him down.” The major took one last sip and placed the wine glass on his table, looking at Bartmello.

Bartmello was confused. “Then why-“

“My men have been watching over you for a long time. Watching who you were talking to and what your actions were. Perchance you were a spy? We had to be 100% sure before I risked this or my head would be on a stake. I have had plans to tell the minister you died of the pox. I have plans for you, lieutenant. If you take honour seriously then you should listen to my proposal.”

“Go on, then,” Bartmello insisted.

“I ask you to do one final mission before you resign. On completion you will be rewarded with a manor, household slaves, guards and money to last you your entire life. Your reward will be the wolf islands. You, lieutenant, will be the lord of wolf islands. You and your family will be wealthy for the rest of their days.” Arron could see the intrigue on Bart’s face. “Your mission will be to spy on the minister.”

The intrigue turned into doubt. “You want me to spy on the Minister of Stormsand? The man who happens to be the most powerful lord in the whole world? Who also happens to counsel King Alden Godafrid?”

“You will be doing nothing too drastic. You will be reporting all his activities to me and at the same time gathering sufficient evidence we can use to bring him down,” The major explained.

Bartmello frowned. “And how do you expect me to spy on him? You want me to simply just dance my way past his bodyguards and to just walk into his household?”

“You will be his personal assistant. I will be sending you on the highest recommendations. Not as Lieutenant Lehanard but as Mister Edwin Freeman. Being an officer of the army means you are well educated. You are educated enough to provide the council, even the minister with first-rate advice. I want you to strive for promotion, promotion to the council itself. The minister will like this, and will ask you around more often than none for more of your expert advice. ”

“There is one problem with this, sir. The minister has seen my face; he’ll find it queer if I rock up one morning as his ‘assistant’.”

The major smiled. “I would fear not on that matter, lieutenant,” He went on, “Do you believe in magic, lieutenant?”

“Magic?” Bart asked awkwardly. Surely the major did not believe what he was saying? Bart had heard about magic in tales when he was a little boy but they were only tales to awe children. They were all lies and make-believe.

“Yes, magic,” The major opened up his drawer and took out a shiny stone that gleamed from the dim light in the tent, displaying it to Bart in his right hand. “This stone is the key to your mission, lieutenant.”

Just when Bartmello was about to ask Arron Piggot to make some sense with the rubbish he was rambling on about; there was a loud gunshot and a scream. Then another gunshot and another scream, “By the gods… What was that?” Arron asked nobody in particular.

The major ran outside with the stone, leaving Bartmello with his hands still tied up. Bartmello as if in shock, waited a few moments and hesitantly walked outside shortly after.

It was chaotic. Soldiers… some dressed, some half-dressed and some naked with their manhood’s dangling about were running around in panic. It wasn’t just men wailing; the local women, whores, wives and children of the camp were also screaming. There were bloodied dead bodies littered all over the camp, a combination of soldiers, children and women.

Some of the violet coloured soldiers were struggling to load their rifles; the banan rifle. Their own army issued this shoddy rifle in which the operator could load rounds faster but was also notorious in having dreadful accuracy. So terrible it seemed you had to be so close that you could shake the hand of the person you was meant to shoot. Some soldiers had their swords in hand, unsure of what to do with; showing the enemy they didn’t seem to have an ounce of experience between them.

Fires blazed in the encampment as flesh seared, the smoke thick and black. It was hard to see through the smoke as if it was a black fog of death within the camp; that was able to make people scream just by the touch alone.

Bartmello looked around for the major but he couldn’t see him anywhere. He did however see the enemy attacking; men clad in black robes and black cloaks as dark as the night sky. Bartmello noticed that this uniform was not issued by the army of Stormsand. Men were riding on huge great horses that there were seemingly pouring into the camp in hundreds. Running around the encampment equipped with swords, pistols and their own rifles.

They were hacking down at the soldiers in violet coats in fury who were seemingly as green as the grass. They were not merciful to anyone. Not even the women and children as they gunned and slew them down in a blood of red rush.

The black marauders were throwing fire bombs after fire bombs in to the core of the camp, aiming for tents and wagons in particular. The fires loomed more dangerously. If you were to look at the camp from the vulgels point of view, it must have looked like the camp was in fact a fire storm.

“Mother!” Screamed a little girl just before a horseman cut her head clean off, a fountain of blood igniting from her neck. A defending soldier shot one of the attacking horsemen; the horseman fell off his brown horse in a heap on the grass to stare at the cold open sky.

Bart was at a loss of what to do. He was tied up and unarmed and the one man who could have helped him was possibly dead; he decided that he either had a bullet hole in his head or his head was most likely chopped off. Damnit, don’t be dead yet he thought. He sprinted south of Arron’s tent, running through the thick black smoke, coughing his lungs out.

That was strange. There were almost no dead bodies amongst the prisoners. In fact the living prisoners were nowhere to be seen. Where have the prisoners gone? Surely it wasn’t possible they had all ran away?

He only had one idea on how to escape this madness; the pit. He ran and he didn’t stop for anyone, not even the little boy who lied dead in a pool of his own blood on the muddy ground. Bart felt as lucky as the stars as realisation dawned on him that the attacking horsemen were distracted on things other than himself… There was a chance he’d make it out of this one, alive.

Bart found the pit not too far from the river. It was a ditch in which the soldiers dug up to throw all the dead prisoners into it before they shovelled up the bodies with mud. He looked into the black void and saw piles upon piles of dead bodies; most already half-eaten from the vulgels; most of the vulgels dispersed most likely frightened because of the action within the camp. He would be safer in there he thought; there was even a rope-ladder he could use. (In case any unlucky soldiers had fallen in by accident).

Lieutenant Bartmello Lehanard jumped.

Michaelj
May 13th, 2013, 08:04 PM
edit.

Pinion
May 13th, 2013, 08:20 PM
This is for your first chapter, because I need to eat. :P

You seem to have a few secrets hidden away which I look forward to seeing if you continue to update. It's also good to see that you're on a roll with your very first story.

Something I enjoy seeing are the more personal details instead of general details, such as specific memories of loved ones or home that bring comfort in dark times. It makes a character more distinct and it has the potential to really strike a chord with some of the readers. The path of anonymity can work in your favor, too, if you want him to be mysterious and unremarkable until his sudden unveiling.

You tend to focus on the physical descriptions of the characters such as their hair color and any scarring or injuries as well as the straight facts of Camp Bloodmoore. This has its place but can also become repetitive and flat if the reader is only imagining what it looks like and what the place does when they could be imagining scents, sounds, or the social, emotional, and mental atmosphere. If you want to make the Camp Bloodmore experience more vivid to the reader, you could also try writing about any grisly rumors in circulation, frightening conversations that have been overheard, etc. This would be a great way to exercise your imagination.

I do see more of Bartmello's unique personality and circumstances in the second half of your story, but the first could do a better job of setting the stage and the whole would benefit as a result.

Michaelj
May 14th, 2013, 10:45 AM
This is for your first chapter, because I need to eat. :P

You seem to have a few secrets hidden away which I look forward to seeing if you continue to update. It's also good to see that you're on a roll with your very first story.

Something I enjoy seeing are the more personal details instead of general details, such as specific memories of loved ones or home that bring comfort in dark times. It makes a character more distinct and it has the potential to really strike a chord with some of the readers. The path of anonymity can work in your favor, too, if you want him to be mysterious and unremarkable until his sudden unveiling.

You tend to focus on the physical descriptions of the characters such as their hair color and any scarring or injuries as well as the straight facts of Camp Bloodmoore. This has its place but can also become repetitive and flat if the reader is only imagining what it looks like and what the place does when they could be imagining scents, sounds, or the social, emotional, and mental atmosphere. If you want to make the Camp Bloodmore experience more vivid to the reader, you could also try writing about any grisly rumors in circulation, frightening conversations that have been overheard, etc. This would be a great way to exercise your imagination.

I do see more of Bartmello's unique personality and circumstances in the second half of your story, but the first could do a better job of setting the stage and the whole would benefit as a result.

Yeah i tend to agree that the opening chapter, the first half may seem slower compared to the second half. This can be a problem as you need to draw the reader in.

Outiboros
May 14th, 2013, 11:25 AM
Right, so this is all purely technical feedback.

There's a lot of errors throughout your writing, mostly small and easy to correct. I'll take a few paragraphs as an example.


--

The major smiled. “I would fear not on that matter, lieutenant,” He (he) went on,(period) “Do you believe in magic, lieutenant?”

“Magic?” Bart asked awkwardly. Surely the major did not believe what he was saying? Bart had heard about magic in tales when he was a little boy but they were only tales to awe children. They were all lies and make-believe.

“Yes, magic,”(period) The major opened up his drawer and took out a shiny stone that gleamed from (in)the dim light (in the tent),(and) displaying it to Bart (in his right hand). “This stone is the key to your mission, lieutenant.”

Just when Bartmello was about to (ask Arron Piggot to make some sense with the rubbish he was rambling on about;)(maybe just 'just when he opened his mouth.') there was a loud gunshot and a scream. Then another gunshot and another scream,(period) “By the gods…(komma) What was that?” Arron asked (nobody in particular.)

The major ran outside with the stone, leaving Bartmello with his hands still tied up. Bartmello (komma) as if in shock, waited a few moments and hesitantly walked outside (shortly after.)

It was chaotic. Soldiers…(komma) some dressed, some half-dressed and some naked with their manhood’s (manhoods) dangling about were running around in panic. It wasn’t just men wailing; the local women, whores, wives and children of the camp were also screaming. There were bloodied dead bodies littered all over the camp, a combination of soldiers, children and women. (This description is a bit bland, if you ask me. I'd hate to bring up showing and telling, but it's what it comes down to.)

Some of the violet coloured soldiers were struggling to load their rifles; the banan rifle. Their own army issued this shoddy rifle in which the operator could load rounds faster but was also notorious in having dreadful accuracy. (komma)So terrible it seemed you had to be so close that you could shake the hand of the person you was meant to shoot. Some soldiers had their swords in hand, unsure of what to do with; (showing the enemy they didn’t seem to have an ounce of experience between them.)

Fires blazed in the encampment as flesh seared(as flesh seared? What flesh? Are there people inside the fires?), the smoke thick and black. It was hard to see through the smoke (as if it was a black fog of death within the camp)(that smothered the camp like a black fog of death); (that was able to make people scream just by the touch alone.)(can it?)

Bartmello looked around for the major but he couldn’t see him anywhere. He did however see the enemy attacking; men clad in black robes and black cloaks as dark as the night sky(remove the two 'black's. 'Dark as the night sky' makes them redundant.). Bartmello noticed that this uniform was not issued by the army of Stormsand.(You could put a bit more feel into that one.) Men were riding on(the men rode) huge great(either huge or great) horses that (there) were (seemingly) pouring into the camp in hundreds. (Running around the encampment equipped with swords, pistols and their own rifles.)(What? The horses are?)

(They were hacking down at the soldiers in violet coats in fury who were seemingly as green as the grass. They were not merciful to anyone. Not even the women and children as they gunned and slew them down in a blood of red rush.)

The black marauders were throwing fire bombs after fire bombs in to the core of the camp(, aiming for tents and wagons in particular.)(Just show the wagons and tents blowing to bits.) The fires loomed more dangerously(More than what?). If you were to look at the camp from the vulgels point of view, it must have looked like the camp was in fact a fire storm.(In the eyes of the vugels, the camp was only a sea of flames.)

“Mother!” Screamed (screamed)a little girl just before a horseman cut her head clean off, a fountain of blood igniting from her neck.(fountains don't ignite, and neither does blood. Spraying, perhaps? Also, I don't think a human heart has the strength to produce a fountain.) A defending soldier(just say which side he is on, what the name of the army is, not what he's doing) shot one of the attacking horsemen; the horseman fell off his brown horse in a heap on the grass to stare at the cold open sky.

--

I hope this helps.

Michaelj
May 14th, 2013, 08:25 PM
Right, so this is all purely technical feedback.

There's a lot of errors throughout your writing, mostly small and easy to correct. I'll take a few paragraphs as an example.


--

The major smiled. “I would fear not on that matter, lieutenant,” He (he) went on,(period) “Do you believe in magic, lieutenant?”

“Magic?” Bart asked awkwardly. Surely the major did not believe what he was saying? Bart had heard about magic in tales when he was a little boy but they were only tales to awe children. They were all lies and make-believe.

“Yes, magic,”(period) The major opened up his drawer and took out a shiny stone that gleamed from (in)the dim light (in the tent),(and) displaying it to Bart (in his right hand). “This stone is the key to your mission, lieutenant.”

Just when Bartmello was about to (ask Arron Piggot to make some sense with the rubbish he was rambling on about;)(maybe just 'just when he opened his mouth.') there was a loud gunshot and a scream. Then another gunshot and another scream,(period) “By the gods…(komma) What was that?” Arron asked (nobody in particular.)

The major ran outside with the stone, leaving Bartmello with his hands still tied up. Bartmello (komma) as if in shock, waited a few moments and hesitantly walked outside (shortly after.)

It was chaotic. Soldiers…(komma) some dressed, some half-dressed and some naked with their manhood’s (manhoods) dangling about were running around in panic. It wasn’t just men wailing; the local women, whores, wives and children of the camp were also screaming. There were bloodied dead bodies littered all over the camp, a combination of soldiers, children and women. (This description is a bit bland, if you ask me. I'd hate to bring up showing and telling, but it's what it comes down to.)

Some of the violet coloured soldiers were struggling to load their rifles; the banan rifle. Their own army issued this shoddy rifle in which the operator could load rounds faster but was also notorious in having dreadful accuracy. (komma)So terrible it seemed you had to be so close that you could shake the hand of the person you was meant to shoot. Some soldiers had their swords in hand, unsure of what to do with; (showing the enemy they didn’t seem to have an ounce of experience between them.)

Fires blazed in the encampment as flesh seared(as flesh seared? What flesh? Are there people inside the fires?), the smoke thick and black. It was hard to see through the smoke (as if it was a black fog of death within the camp)(that smothered the camp like a black fog of death); (that was able to make people scream just by the touch alone.)(can it?)

Bartmello looked around for the major but he couldn’t see him anywhere. He did however see the enemy attacking; men clad in black robes and black cloaks as dark as the night sky(remove the two 'black's. 'Dark as the night sky' makes them redundant.). Bartmello noticed that this uniform was not issued by the army of Stormsand.(You could put a bit more feel into that one.) Men were riding on(the men rode) huge great(either huge or great) horses that (there) were (seemingly) pouring into the camp in hundreds. (Running around the encampment equipped with swords, pistols and their own rifles.)(What? The horses are?)

(They were hacking down at the soldiers in violet coats in fury who were seemingly as green as the grass. They were not merciful to anyone. Not even the women and children as they gunned and slew them down in a blood of red rush.)

The black marauders were throwing fire bombs after fire bombs in to the core of the camp(, aiming for tents and wagons in particular.)(Just show the wagons and tents blowing to bits.) The fires loomed more dangerously(More than what?). If you were to look at the camp from the vulgels point of view, it must have looked like the camp was in fact a fire storm.(In the eyes of the vugels, the camp was only a sea of flames.)

“Mother!” Screamed (screamed)a little girl just before a horseman cut her head clean off, a fountain of blood igniting from her neck.(fountains don't ignite, and neither does blood. Spraying, perhaps? Also, I don't think a human heart has the strength to produce a fountain.) A defending soldier(just say which side he is on, what the name of the army is, not what he's doing) shot one of the attacking horsemen; the horseman fell off his brown horse in a heap on the grass to stare at the cold open sky.

--

I hope this helps.

Ok thanks, looks like I definitely have a few things I need to work on.

Michaelj
May 15th, 2013, 06:26 PM
Edit.

JamesOliv
May 15th, 2013, 07:04 PM
Let me just say that I can see improvement in chapter 3 in terms of technical errors and the flow of the story. Great job. I will just give you a little nugget to consider.

Be careful with accents and other speech variations. Consistency can be a killer.


“Are you ‘ungry? I hunted earlier if you are."

Now, maybe I'm the only one thinking this, but why would a person drop the "h" from "hungry" but not from "hunted?"

But there is some good news. Some people, when writing accented speech, will alter every word which might be affected rendering the entire dialogue unreadable. You didn't do that. In fact, I have a very clear audio in my mind of this person speaking. Had you dropped the "h" from "hunted" the sentence might not have been as clear. So it can be a bit of a balancing act.

So I'm not saying you did it wrong, I'm just inviting you to examine your execution of accented speech since that little "h" caught my eye.

In Chapter 1, I felt your characters were a bit flat. You were a bit heavy handed with physical descriptions to the detriment of character development. In Chapter 3, I see marked improvement over that and I had a much easier time following the dialogue (your technical improvements helped with this as well).

You're doing great.

JamesOliv
May 15th, 2013, 07:04 PM
Let me just say that I can see improvement in chapter 3 in terms of technical errors and the flow of the story. Great job. I will just give you a little nugget to consider.

Be careful with accents and other speech variations. Consistency can be a killer.


“Are you ‘ungry? I hunted earlier if you are."

Now, maybe I'm the only one thinking this, but why would a person drop the "h" from "hungry" but not from "hunted?"

But there is some good news. Some people, when writing accented speech, will alter every word which might be affected rendering the entire dialogue unreadable. You didn't do that. In fact, I have a very clear audio in my mind of this person speaking. Had you dropped the "h" from "hunted" the sentence might not have been as clear. So it can be a bit of a balancing act.

So I'm not saying you did it wrong, I'm just inviting you to examine your execution of accented speech since that little "h" caught my eye.

In Chapter 1, I felt your characters were a bit flat. You were a bit heavy handed with physical descriptions to the detriment of character development. In Chapter 3, I see marked improvement over that and I had a much easier time following the dialogue (your technical improvements helped with this as well).

You're doing great.

Outiboros
May 15th, 2013, 09:00 PM
I really have to ask what the deal with the vulgles is. They're vultures, that much is evident, or at least carrion-eaters of some kind. Is this just me and my lacking vocabulary or is it an imaginary term? If so, it seemed to be based on the Dutch 'vogel' or the German 'vögel'. Why not just use 'vulture'?

I still have some advice.
- “Ask away.” Bibby urged.
should be:
- “Ask away,” Bibby urged.

Also, I'm going to write down some sentences that occurred to me while reading the intro. Hopefully I can show you how to make your writing more exiting.

--

It had felt like an eternity fearing discovery that Bartmello Lehanard finally decided to clamber out of the pit. He struggled up the rope that served as a mean of departing the void of dead bodies. While he was in the pit he had suffered agonizing attacks from pesky vulgels as they mistook him amongst the dead. Fortunately one of the vile creatures had bitten clear through his bonds, clearing his hands. The vulgels weren’t the only problem the lieutenant faced. The smell of the countless dead corpses was foul. So unbearable that Bart gagged countless times.

Hunger and thirst also motivated him to leave the pit, the fact the only food that could be gained was from the vulgels, and the fact there was no water to quench his thirst whatsoever. The fear of the black garbed marauders had kept him down here so long. Were they gone? Had they left any sentinels behind? Thankfully they didn’t give the pit a second glimpse and Bart a lot later felt he was brave enough to leave the pit; alas lethargic and dehydrated.

It had looked like the hells had risen to Camp Bloodmoore itself when his eyes were finally able to perceive it all. The fires had been long burnt out but the smell was still there. The smell of seared flesh and smoke. He could also smell the decaying corpses of the dead; the men who were dressed in a mixture of violet and black, the women, the children and the animals of the camp.

--

Bartmello Lehanard struggled out of the pit, his hands burning as he tugged himself up on the rope, kicking his feet at stiff limbs and cold flesh. it could have been hours. It could have been days. Between the stench of the bodies and stomach-wrenching fear for discovery, every minute was an eternity.
He gagged, clasping the rope with both hands, hanging still for a moment of respite. Perhaps they would still be there, the black marauders, waiting, laughing, but he could't find the strength to care. Thirst and hunger alone dragged him forward. His tongue was parched, his stomach turning from the stench and the hunger both.
His skin ached from the pecks of the vulgels, but he felt no hate for them, not now. The rope that had bound him had been drenched with the blood of a dozen bodies, and one of the roving corpse-feeders had bitten clear through them, like some angel in dull feathers.
Bartmello hoisted himself over the edge of the pit, coughing into the dust.

Etc, etc.
--
I hope you see what I mean. It's your story, of course, so it's much harder for me to properly rewrite.

shinyford
June 11th, 2013, 02:05 AM
Just to say, the improvement from Ch1 to Ch3 is immense - keep it up!

Michaelj
June 12th, 2013, 02:16 PM
Warning this chapter has extreme language and a very bad scene at the end. Not advised for squeamish people.
Chapter 4 - Tilian I




Tilian Paige didn’t plan to run away.

However seeing the horde of barbarians marching towards him almost made him shit his breeches and before he knew it, his legs had a mind of their own. Everyone was so focussed on the enemy forces that they didn’t even notice him slipping away. Technically it wasn’t even his fault. If that fool, Sergeant Clover didn’t scare the living hells out of him with that story of his then why would he have run away? I’m a bleeding deserter now, thought Tilian, now there’s only the rope waiting for me. He could never go back to the army, never.

Tilian had hoped he would come across more deserters during his escape. Unfortunately the only deserter he came across was a man from the 25th who seemed to twitch uncontrollably every time he was spoken to.

“M-my name, corporal, is Desmond.” He twitched so badly that Tilian feared he was going to have a heart attack.

Tilian rolled his eyes. If this was the best he could find, then he might aswell make do. “Look I already told you. Stop calling me ‘corporal’, we no longer serve the army. Call me Tilian or Tills.” Tilian gave a reassuring smile.

“Y-yes, corp… I m-mean sorry corporal. W-won’t happen again,” Desmond twitched.

Tilian frowned. Was this Desmond the type of person he had become? Tilian was already useless at everything else in life. And was he now a useless soldier aswell to top things off? He’d been seen as useless by everyone and everything throughout his miserable twenty seven years of life. Not even his parents had wanted anything to do with him; sending him to an orphanage when he was only three years old. I might aswell have cunt tattooed on my forehead, thought Tilian.

The former corporal tightened up his greatcoat, slung his rifle around his back and had a good glance around at his surroundings. Tilian and Desmond were stood on a rocky footpath of a very steep hill as it overlooked the great snowy plains, looking desolate apart from the many snow covered trees and few frozen streams that populated the land. Far to his left was a frozen waterfall that sparkled as the cloud covered sun began to fall, surrounded by a steep and craggy mountain. Beyond the rocky footpath was a route to another treacherous looking mountain that seemed to be the more sheer and harsh mountain of the two. Boulders and small rocks made thunderous crashes as they shattered on the jagged rocks. It had stopped snowing early during the morning but the cold air still made Tilian shiver. Where the bleeding hells are we?

He couldn’t see any animals or vegetation he could use as food either. While he was living with the army, he’d see the occasional snow fox, woolly horse or rabbit wandering around. However the army always made sure that their men were well fed so Tilian had no need to hunt for food. Now was different. He needed to hunt or he’d die a slow and agonizing death but if he was foolish enough to retrace his footsteps then there was a good chance he’d run into his former comrades. They’re probably looking for me now, realised Tilian, if I bump into any of them then I will have to kill them. No questions asked. Wouldn’t want anybody ratting me out and bringing more people to search for me. He thought about who he’d enjoy to kill the most. Pleoh, Sergeant Clover or Selwin, Tilian admitted. Pleoh was a whiny little shit who was just a waste of space. Sergeant Clover thought he knew everything and always seemed to undermine everybody. And Selwin seemed to think everybody was his friend when he was just a mere little private.

“U-um, excuse me? Corporal?” asked Desmond.

“Yes, what’s the matter?”

Desmond twitched. “I-it will be n-nightfall soon. W-we should find some place to stay t-the night,” Desmond suggested.

Tilian waited until Desmond had stopped twitching. “And where the bleeding hells do you suggest staying?” Tilian didn’t know how to light a fire and he didn’t fancy sleeping in the open cold with no way of keeping warm.

“F-further ahead,” Desmond said as he pointed his shaking finger north, “I-in the mountains. T-there’s bound to be a crevice or a cave we could stay the night.”

Tilian almost face palmed himself, how was this bumbling fool able to come up with such an idea but he wasn’t? It was common sense. They’d move forward into the mountains and find a cave to sleep the night. Then in the morning they’d move out and venture deeper into Frostholme, until they could find some kind of civilisation.

The former corporal began walking towards the mountain beyond the rocky path. “Alright, let’s move on.”

Desmond twitched as he trailed behind, jerking as he looked around the landscape. “E-excuse me? Corporal? D-do you think there’s any people in this area?”

Tilian grinned. “How would I bleeding know? But if anyone is foolish enough to confront us.” Tilian grabbed his rifle and displayed it to Desmond. “I take it you know how to use one of these?”

“O-of course. I’ve had training j-just like anybody else.”

Tilian frowned. He couldn’t even have a joke with this man. He sure wished it was Crazy Darel or Barclay walking by his side and not this twitching buffoon. It was no wonder that this cretin of a man had deserted his regiment. He couldn’t even hold a conversation, how in bleeding hells would he of been expected to hold his position in battle?

As the duo approached the mountain, a white eagle soared in the sky, half hidden by the cloudy sky. Tilian saw how the rocky footpath had continued on through the snowy mountain and how the snow started to cause the footpath to dwindle away. I better be careful, realised Tilian, one misstep and that could be the end of me.

And it started to snow again. Tilian was careful step by step but he struggled to see ahead of him as the snow pelted into his face. He almost slipped backwards but Desmond was able to catch him in time and prevent him from falling. They continued to walk and walk and almost slip as the wind shrieked.

“Corporal?” Desmond almost shouted.

Tilian even struggled to see Desmond as they were showered with snowballs. “I’m over here! What is it?”

Desmond got so close to Tilian that he could see his anxious eyes. “Look!” He pointed above to where Tilian could barely see a small cave. “L-lets climb-“

“Are you mad?” Tilian interrupted, “Do you see how high it is? If we should fall…”

And he started to climb, leaving Tilian behind. Tilian saw how Desmond scaled up the jagged rocks and how his hands and feet were finding cracks and openings with ease. When he got to the top, he looked down. “Come on!”

Tilian hesitated and then he went for it. He jumped grabbing one of the cracks with his right hand and then he placed his left hand on another crack.

Then he slipped. He wailed as he banged his left leg on one of the rocks as he collapsed into the snow. “Bleeding fucking hells!”

“Jump up and grab my hands!” screamed Desmond as he leant down.

Tilian jumped, clutching onto Desmond’s bony arms. As Desmond pulled Tilian up, his feet found holes and gaps to aid him as he clambered upwards.

Desmond heaved Tilian one last time, pulling him onto another layer of the mountain. The two of them both tumbled backwards into the snow. Tilian stood up scowling, his left leg feeling like jelly.

Tilian saw light coming from the cave. He didn’t know why there was light coming from the cave but all that mattered at the moment was he needed shelter and he needed it now. “Come on, follow me!” yelled Tilian.

Both of them dashed into the small cave. When Tilian entered the cave, he noticed there were two braziers against the wall. There was also a furred rug of some white beast he’d never seen before, a straw mattress, a wooden closet and a wooden drawer. Somebody is living here, Tilian realised.

Desmond looked around in awe. “C-corporal? This is s-somebodies-“

“Yes, I’m aware of that,” Tilian said. But who is living here?

Tilian first inspected the wooden closet, forcing the sturdy door open. Inside was a heap of woollen and furred clothing. He placed his rifle against the wall to his left and removed his greatcoat. One of those will keep me warmer than my piece of shit excuse of a coat, Tilian thought as he tossed his greatcoat aside. He slid on a furry pelt over his violet jacket, concealing his corporal chevrons. It was a little bit large and awkward to wear, but it would do.

Tilian then looked inside the wooden drawer, forcing open the drawer as the hinges creaked. Inside was a portrait, a few copper coins, a few silver coins, a letter, a quill and an inkpot. Tilian firstly snatched the coins and placed them in his pockets. Money was always useful, especially in a country which he didn’t understand. He put aside the letter as he couldn’t read and besides even if he could, surely it’d only be in foreign gibberish anyway? He took the portrait and examined it. It was of an elderly man sat on a horse, looking belligerent with his sword and shield, yet at the same time looking noble with his golden clothing and golden jewellery. Tilian threw it into the brazier, watching the portrait slowly smoulder into ashes.

Tilian turned around and grinned. “You taken anything you might need?”

“U-um, what if he c-comes back?” Desmond twitched.

“Then he’s in for a bleeding surprise,” Tilian said, “We won’t stay here long anyway. We’ll leave as soon as the weather has passed. Find us a nice little town or village and live there for a bit. I got us some money, you see. Should be able to buy us some food and a place to stay for a little while.” Tilian sat down on the mattress, resting his back against the wall.

Desmond twitched as he sat down against the drawer. “What if there’s more of them?”

Tilian considered that a moment. “We are soldiers,” Tilian went on, “Or ex-soldiers as we are now. They are people living up in the mountains armed with probably nothing worse than a shovel. Who do you think has better odds?”

“I s-suppose that’s true,” Desmond agreed.

And then a woman walked into the cave, her blue eyes wide open. She was a large woman who looked even larger because of her woolly coat. Strands of golden hair had fallen out of her furred hood to land over her thin eyebrows. She was holding in her gloved hands a stack of wood. She said something in a foreign language that neither Tilian nor Desmond understood.

Tilian quickly sprang to where his rifle was and aimed it at the woman, causing her to drop her stack of wood. “Desmond, walk behind the lass and push her further towards me,” Tilian ordered.

Desmond obeyed. He aimed his rifle as he crept with caution as if he was circling a lioness ready to spring on him. He stood behind the shaking woman and urged her forward with his rifle. “M-move!”

The woman moved closer to where Tilian was stood. I haven’t had a woman in gods know how long, Tilian licked his lips. “Desmond, wait outside.”

“W-wait outside, corporal?” Desmond asked, confused.

“Yes, wait outside! Go!” Tilian snapped.

Desmond scurried away, leaving Tilian and this woman alone in the room. She’s a little large but she’ll do, Tilian grinned.

Tilian used his left hand to go under his new furred coat and to search in his utility belt for his bayonet. He took it out. The ten inch sharpened blade shimmered from the light from the braziers. He dropped his rifle to the floor, hearing it thud. “Lay down.”

The large woman didn’t obey. “I said lay down!” he screamed. Tilian placed his right leg behind the woman’s own legs and shoved her to the floor. He bent over and tore off her woolly trousers down to her ankles, hearing her wail.

Tilian unbuttoned his breeches. “It must be a rare occurrence for you. Getting banged by a corporal from the Stormsand army. You might even have a wee little nipper inside of you, once all this is done.” Tilian grinned.

He laid on top of her, with the his bayonet still gripped firmly in his left hand. He started to lick her pale face.

Then she flung him off herself. Tilian’s cock dangled out of his breeches as he crashed headfirst into the closet.

Tilian was then finding himself being dragged by his legs, his head cracked on a rock as he got pulled back to the centre of the room. When Tilian opened his eyes he saw the woman with a smile on her face, holding his bayonet.

She said something in a foreign tongue and then stamped on Tilian’s cock, twisting it with the heel of her boot. Tilian cried in agony.

The large woman then stamped on Tilian’s ribs multiple times, causing them to shatter, taking the breath out of him. To top things off, she bent over Tilian and began to shit on his face, causing him to gag. She stomped on Tilian’s cock one last time before pulling up her trousers, picking up his rifle and walking out of the room.

It took Tilian a moment to get back to his senses. He sat up and spat vomit onto the ground. He then used his old greatcoat to wipe off some of the sick and shit off his face. Tilian stood up but he felt a shooting pain in his left leg. Damn that bleeding fall earlier. He sobbed as the pain shot up to his ribcage. That fucking bitch is dead. He finally tucked his manhood back into his breeches. Thank the bleeding gods that it’s still intact, Tilian thought.

Tilian limped outside into the snow. “Where are you, you fucking bitch?” Tilian yelled.

He looked left and right but he couldn’t see Desmond anywhere. He didn’t have time to look for Desmond aswell as the woman, so Tilian decided he’d track down the woman first, get his weapons back and then find Desmond.

Tilian looked down at the snow and saw footsteps going right. Tilian limped as he followed the footsteps, feeling pain in every step he took. As soon as I find you, you fucking whore, I’m going to take my rifle back and shove it up your arse, thought Tilian.

And then he saw Desmond. Twitching and shaking from a noose around his neck, hanging off a ledge. Tilian approached it slowly when realisation dawned on him that he’d been set up.

Dozens of men and women all came out from behind rocks, ledges and corners, all with rifles aimed towards Tilian. All Tilian could do was raise his hands in the air.

Then he saw the woman he’d been searching for. Stood next to one of the riflemen, blowing a kiss at Tilian.

One of the men approached Tilian and said something in a foreign tongue.

“No speak.” Tilian waved his arms about. “Your language. I from Stormsand.”

The man lowered his rifle and looked at one of his men and spoke to him in his odd language. Tilian felt a pang of relief. It looked like they wouldn’t be killing him, after all. It was a shame for poor Desmond but Tilian would make sure to pray to the gods.

The woman nodded at the man.

The man looked at Tilian and then cracked his head with the butt of the rifle. Tilian was enveloped in darkness.

escorial
June 12th, 2013, 03:02 PM
I read you first part and stopped at if you lack immagination then the story wont work.

shinyford
June 14th, 2013, 01:25 PM
So, I want to add something that occurs to me on a re-read.

A lot of your story involves explaining what's happening, and obviously that's necessary. However, I wonder if there's a stronger way of doing it? The first chapter was quite difficult to read (and your writing style has improved in subsequent chapters, by the way, as I said above) but I think that was less for reasons of grammar and punctuation (which are still worth getting right, BTW) and more for reasons of POV.

You're telling a story here largely about Bartmello - but most of the prose is objective description of what happens to him. I think it would be more involving if you chose a character from whom's POV the story could be told - Bartmello himself would be the obvious candidate for the first couple of chapters - and then subjectively describe what's going on. Not the minutiae of what happens and what surrounds him, but what's important to him moment on moment, what he sees and hears and feels. It's back to the old adage of 'show don't tell': show me how his world affects him, don't tell me what his world is. Because if you do the latter, you leave me to make up the emotional jigsaw myself, and while I like a challenge in what I read (1) I may infer different things from what you want, and (2) sometimes that sort of effort can actually be disengaging.

So in short: show don't tell; subjective POV rather than objective description of the universe.

Hope you don't mind these comments - meant to be constructive. Looking forward to more.

Cheers

Nic

summergenevieve
June 14th, 2013, 04:37 PM
Overall your writing technique is good but be careful with the amount of description you include, it can overwhelm the reader. Your flow of dialogue is good and makes up for theis small flaw. I also agree with shinyford's comment about Bartmello's perspective, less is more. However aside from this, the plot line is gripping. Hope this helps. :)

Michaelj
June 14th, 2013, 08:52 PM
So, I want to add something that occurs to me on a re-read.

A lot of your story involves explaining what's happening, and obviously that's necessary. However, I wonder if there's a stronger way of doing it? The first chapter was quite difficult to read (and your writing style has improved in subsequent chapters, by the way, as I said above) but I think that was less for reasons of grammar and punctuation (which are still worth getting right, BTW) and more for reasons of POV.

You're telling a story here largely about Bartmello - but most of the prose is objective description of what happens to him. I think it would be more involving if you chose a character from whom's POV the story could be told - Bartmello himself would be the obvious candidate for the first couple of chapters - and then subjectively describe what's going on. Not the minutiae of what happens and what surrounds him, but what's important to him moment on moment, what he sees and hears and feels. It's back to the old adage of 'show don't tell': show me how his world affects him, don't tell me what his world is. Because if you do the latter, you leave me to make up the emotional jigsaw myself, and while I like a challenge in what I read (1) I may infer different things from what you want, and (2) sometimes that sort of effort can actually be disengaging.

So in short: show don't tell; subjective POV rather than objective description of the universe.

Hope you don't mind these comments - meant to be constructive. Looking forward to more.

Cheers

Nic
Ok, thanks for your comments. I agree that my opening chapter was not my strongest and I need to work on it a lot. To me it doesn't feel like a POV until half-way and yes, I think I overdid it on the descriptions and so. Though, I am thinking about scrapping Bartmello's chapters and keeping the whole story in Frostholme. The story there is heavily inspired by the Battle of Kabul - Afghanistan but with a fantasy element to it. So far in the story I've shown, I've got two magic stones... Problem... I don't know how to link the magic stones into the story. I will find a way but yeah. :/
Just a question, do my other chapters (without Bartmello) suffering from this problem? Or was it mainly the opening chapter?

shinyford
June 14th, 2013, 09:59 PM
Ok, thanks for your comments. I agree that my opening chapter was not my strongest and I need to work on it a lot. To me it doesn't feel like a POV until half-way and yes, I think I overdid it on the descriptions and so. Though, I am thinking about scrapping Bartmello's chapters and keeping the whole story in Frostholme. The story there is heavily inspired by the Battle of Kabul - Afghanistan but with a fantasy element to it. So far in the story I've shown, I've got two magic stones... Problem... I don't know how to link the magic stones into the story. I will find a way but yeah. :/
Just a question, do my other chapters (without Bartmello) suffering from this problem? Or was it mainly the opening chapter?

Ha! Don't take what I said as too much of a criticism - the reason I commented was that the Bartmello story *did* grab me, so I wanted to help (hope this isn't patronising) improve it.

But yes, as I said above I think there's a marked difference from ch1 to ch3 in your use of language AND the way you tell the story. The fact that you start ch3 with a 'Bartmello felt' line says you've made the move to the subjective view that I (for one) think is important. (Other readers: if you disagree, please say; my view that subjective POV is good is, ironically, purely subjective.)

FWIW I love the idea of commenting on e.g. the Afghan conflict using a fantasy motif: that's what SF&F is strongest at - paralleling our real world in a way that highlights its flaws.

Keep going with this. I'll be honest, it's not yet ready to sell or, indeed, buy. But you definitely have the nugget of something worth developing.

Michaelj
June 14th, 2013, 10:15 PM
Ha! Don't take what I said as too much of a criticism - the reason I commented was that the Bartmello story *did* grab me, so I wanted to help (hope this isn't patronising) improve it.

But yes, as I said above I think there's a marked difference from ch1 to ch3 in your use of language AND the way you tell the story. The fact that you start ch3 with a 'Bartmello felt' line says you've made the move to the subjective view that I (for one) think is important. (Other readers: if you disagree, please say; my view that subjective POV is good is, ironically, purely subjective.)

FWIW I love the idea of commenting on e.g. the Afghan conflict using a fantasy motif: that's what SF&F is strongest at - paralleling our real world in a way that highlights its flaws.

Keep going with this. I'll be honest, it's not yet ready to sell or, indeed, buy. But you definitely have the nugget of something worth developing.
I understand it's nowhere near ready to sell. :P These were my first drafts of each chapters and there's a lot I want to add and a lot I want to remove. I also have a lot of ideas in my head on where I want the story to go.

shinyford
June 14th, 2013, 11:03 PM
I understand it's nowhere near ready to sell. :P
Gah! That was NOT what I wanted you to take from my comments! :)

Mainly what I wanted to say was "Well done, there's definitely something here."

The next thing was to try to give you a different perspective. Listen, my views might be crap - only you can decide if they're valid or not, and all power to your elbow if you reject them.

But whether you ignore me or not, please keep with this.

Michaelj
June 15th, 2013, 11:42 PM
Edit.

Michaelj
June 17th, 2013, 02:41 AM
Ok, I've re-done Chapter One. Thanks to everyone for your help. Made it POV from the start, rather than half-way.Chapter one: Bartmello



The vulgels could smell death from the skies as they loomed above the clouds that were set ablaze with the fire from the falling sun. They were truly repulsing, scabrous flying giant rats with sharp red eyes and razor sharp claws. The vulgels were hungry and were waiting to feast on the dead.

Damn ugly little creatures, thought Bartmello. Bartmello had a lot of time to think. He was after all one of the prisoners who was tied up and graciously piled up on the soil. They were a group of despondent ragamuffins in white shabby jerkins with frayed breeches. He didn’t regret being here. It was his choice he was here, unlike the foul-smelling rogues that surrounded him.

This was Camp Bloodmoore. A prison where men and women were sent to die for their crimes that they may or may not have committed and the vulgels knew they’d eat well. That was supposing the prisoners were deemed useless. During the day the prison was turned into a labor camp where the prisoners would be forced to work until they were exhausted. Some had grown so obsolete through exhaustion they were believed ready for execution on the very same day. Despite this, Bartmello relished this place for some odd reason. This is all my fault and I deserve to be here. May the gods forgive me.

A man with wild, red hair faced Bartmello and gave a toothless grin. “A slice of bread that the eunuch doesn’t last the week.”

Bartmello ignored him and saw how the man flushed red. Bartmello was not one of them and would never be. No doubt this rogue was imprisoned for something heinous, perhaps rape and or murder. Besides, they just seemed to come and go. One day you’d be making friends with some guy and the next day you would be mourning over him. Better this way, he thought.

All there was to do in Camp Bloodmoore during the nightfall was to think. Grunting, Bartmello tried to think of pleasant memories. He daydreamed of playing cricket with his friends and he thought about them a lot. Snell the half-wit. Teon, overly cocky but a damn good man and he thought about Dawn… The woman who he loved but she only loved him as the brother she never had. Bartmello almost wept. Perhaps thinking pleasant thoughts wasn’t such a great idea.

The days went by and each evening at least one person was sentenced to death. Two soldiers in violet colored jackets hauled up a silver haired man with a shabby beard as he protested, dragging him to a stone pedestal and placing his head onto the granite. Then he turned up. The executioner rather than wearing a violet colored jacket, donned a pressed yellow jacket with a red cross sowed on his right breast and Sergeant Chevrons on his right arm; the coat of the Hupel guard. They were sworn to keep the peace and to enforce the law within Stormsand. The executioner was an intimidating looking man. Having only had one eye; his left eye covered with a moss eye patch he would be every child’s nightmare. He was a very tall man, towering over most people at seven foot tall. His hardened face was scarred, evident that the man had faced many brawls and battles in his life time.

A pistol was aimed at the side of the victims head. Then the executioner snapped the trigger. There was a shattering roar as the pistol blazed; the victims head a mess of blood, skull and brain. Placing the pistol back into his hoister, he faced the violet colored soldiers and grinned. “Clean it up.”

And the soldiers did as they were bid. Dragging the poor victim and tossing him into a black pit. Bartmello saw how a group of vulgels fought with each other as they attempted to swoop in. May the vulgels choke on their own vomit, Bartmello thought.

Bartmello would then try to sleep. Only to be woken up in the midst of night by a man or a woman screaming. Sometimes his own dreams would keep him awake. Dreams of him being torn apart and eaten alive by the vulgels as he screamed.

Six months and three days later, everything changed. Bartmello woke up sensing that he was being watched upon and saw the terrifying looking executioner pointing in his direction. The executioner was talking to a handsome man with lightly oiled auburn hair. He had crystal blue eyes and looked smart despite wearing a greatcoat that was too big for him. The man had a gold ring on the index finger of his left hand that glittered in the moonlight. Bartmello recognized the ring. This man is the commanding officer, what in the hells does he want with me?

The executioner marched over through the hordes of prisoners. “Up.” He ordered. When Bartmello ignored him, he found himself being heaved to his feet as if he was a mere little child. “Perhaps it’s your lucky day, lad. Come now, the major would like to talk to you.” The executioner gripped the rope that was tying his arms together and dragged him through the crowd of bewildered prisoners and towards the man known as ‘Major’, lobbing him to the floor. “Here is the man, sir.”

The Major stared at Bartmello for a good few good seconds. “Thank you, Sergeant, return to your duties.” The Sergeant saluted and marched off in the opposite direction. “Some people in high places have been asking about you, Lieutenant.” The Major paused momentarily to see Bartmello’s reaction. “Oh don’t be too surprised, there was a reason we haven’t killed you yet. The real question is why lie about your name and rank upon capture?” His voice was posh and arrogant.

Bartmello felt his heart begin to race. “…I have already been tried by the courts.”

“I have already been tried by the courts ‘sir’,” The Major corrected him, “Come now, we would have words in private, Mister Edwin Freeman,” He sighed and stared at him for another few seconds, “But this is not your real name is it?”

“No, sir,” He added the sir meekly. “Lieutenant Bartmello Lehanard, but you knew that already didn’t you?”

“Good, I’m Major Arron Piggot. Now we got the introductions out of the way, let’s continue this conversation in my tent.” He held out a hand for Bartmello and helped him up to his feet so that he was standing, his legs still feeling like jelly.

As he strolled clumsily behind the Major, he noticed that all the drunk, half-drunk and sober soldiers of the camp were staring at him with curious eyes. Did everybody know? It seemed even the camp followers and whores of the camp were aware of who he was, one even giggled as she lifted up her skirt for him as he walked past. He wondered how they found out the truth and pondered if he could have just had his brains blown out as an alternative. Maybe that would have been an easier solution?

Major Piggot kicked a growling mongrel that was blocking the path towards his tent causing it to run off, whimpering; scattering off far into the woods. He saluted his two guards as he entered his tent and beckoned Bart to follow him inside.

Inside the tent, the lanterns shone brightly, revealing paper documents, maps, a quill and an inkpot on an oak table. Beside the table on the right was a sturdy chest and on the left was a hammock. The Major sat down to face Bartmello. “Care for a drink, Lieutenant, wine perhaps? I imagine it’s been a while.”

“I am no longer an officer of this army, sir.” Bart almost snapped but remained cool.

Arron looked in to his eyes fiercely. “You are an officer, damn you. At least until we or the damned enemy have your head. Or you could have perchance resigned?” Arron apparently didn’t expect an answer and opened up the chest on the right. He took out two wine glasses, placing both of them on the oak table in front of him. Then the Major rummaged through the chest and pulled out a bottle of wine and placed that too on the table. “Laday Redd Rose, only the best.” Bart saw how the wine sparkled purple as the Major poured the wine into the two glasses. “Here, drink,” He ordered.

Bartmello obeyed, it had been almost a year since he had a drop of alcohol. Since his arms were tied together Bart had to pick up the glass of wine with both of his hands. He felt the warm and sour liquid as he poured it down his gullet and placed the empty wine glass on the table. “Thank you, sir.” But what was he plotting?

Major Arron waved his courtesies aside. “So why didn’t you resign, Lieutenant?” He asked as if the alcohol would make him loosen his tongue.

“Don’t really know, why the sudden curiosity, Major?”

Arron frowned at him. “I think you know. It wasn’t just people in high places who took a keen interest in you, it was the damned Minister.”

“Really, sir?”

“’The man with the scarred forehead, Lieutenant Bartmello Lehanard is not to be executed, I would have words with him’,” Arron Piggot said with the wine glass still in his hand that was reflecting his fierce glare, “Minister Drappen’s own writing. Why does he want to talk to you so badly?”

“How’s it your bloody business?” Bartmello this time did snap, “Look, I deserted the army rather than handing in my buttons and I got arrested and tried and sentenced to die as a laborer. That should be your problem, not the bloody fact the Minister wants to talk to me! You see-“

“You were tried under the identity of Corporal Edwin Freeman,” The Major said calmly and collectively, taking a sip from his wine glass, “Why did you desert the army?” He asked again.

“I ran into some problems, sir, over at the Jumm Islands. I got too scared and ran. I left my men to fend for themselves.”

“You’re a damned bad liar, Lieutenant. I already know half the truth.”

Will he stop calling me, bloody, Lieutenant? “If you know half the truth then I’m a dead man. I either get executed here or I die a slow a painful death with the Minister. What would you choose?” Bart was a little surprised to say the least, but he kind of knew the talk would make it to Stormsand Kingdom eventually. The talk about the mishaps that happened on the Jumm Islands... The mishaps which caused him to desert and to run away and feel like a coward.

Oddly the Major had pity in his crystal blue eyes. “I would expect you as a gentleman to do the honorable thing.” He took another sip out of his wine glass.

Bart had to laugh. “Gentleman? You mean like those heathens at the Jumm Islands? No, sir, I am no gentleman. I still have a bit of honor though, that’s why I allowed myself to get captured. I wanted to die. How that bastard of a Minister found out I was captured, is beyond me. Wait. You want me to grass up the Minister, don’t you? Oh sorry I didn’t call you sir, sorry, sir. But I couldn’t care less about the man. The man was a heathen but I am not going to grass him up,” Bartmello played with his jagged beard. “Sir.” He added the sir so indecently that it could have been insubordination.

Major Piggot’s glaring eyes came back. “Then why did you not stay?”

Bartmello felt a surge of rage. “With those ‘gentlemen’? What do you take me for? A rapist? A murderer of women and children?”

Arron Piggot fidgeted. “No but-“

Bartmello interrupted. “Now I have a question, sir, if you don’t mind.”

The Major looked relieved. “Yes, go ahead.”

“Why did it take you damn near seven months to question me?”

“I had to be sure…”

“Sure about what?” Bartmello screamed. Damn the bastard! Bartmello thought, perhaps I should snap his skinny little neck?

“That I could trust you, Lieutenant,”

Bart had gone from feeling like a raged hormonal woman to a confused little boy. “That you could trust me?”

“We had suspicions that his activities in the Jumm Islands were of an illegal activity. However we lack the evidence to prosecute the man. Even if you were to offer a witness statement, we’d need more concise evidence to take him down.” The Major took one last sip and placed the wine glass on his table, looking at Bartmello.

Bartmello would have scratched his head if his hands weren’t bind together. “Then why-“

“My men have been watching over you for a long time. Watching who you were talking to and what your actions were. Perchance you were a spy? We had to be one hundred percent sure before I risked this or my head would be on a stake. I have had plans to tell the Minister you died of the pox. I have plans for you, Lieutenant. If you take honor seriously then you should listen to my proposal.”

“Go on, then,” He insisted.

“I ask you to do one final mission before you resign. On completion you will be rewarded with a manor, household slaves, guards and money to last you your entire life. Your reward will be the Wolf Islands. You, Lieutenant, will be the Lord of Wolf Islands. You and your family will be wealthy for the rest of their days,” Arron went on, “Your mission will be to spy on the minister.”

The intrigue it turned into doubt. “You want me to spy on the Minister of Stormsand? The man who happens to be the most powerful Lord in the whole world? Who also happens to counsel King Alden Godafrid?”

“You will be doing nothing too drastic. You will be reporting all his activities to me and at the same time gathering sufficient evidence we can use to bring him down,” The Major explained.

Bartmello frowned. “And how do you expect me to spy on him? You want me to simply just dance my way past his bodyguards and to just walk into his household?”

“You will be his personal assistant. I will be sending you on the highest recommendations. Not as Lieutenant Lehanard but as Mister Edwin Freeman. Being an officer of the army means you are well educated. You are educated enough to provide the council, even the Minister with first-rate advice. I want you to strive for promotion, promotion to the council itself. The Minister will like this, and will ask you around more often than none for more of your expert advice. ”

“There is one problem with this, sir. The Minister has seen my face. He’ll find it queer if I rock up one morning as his ‘assistant’.”

Major Piggot smiled. “I would fear not on that matter, Lieutenant,” He went on, “Do you believe in magic, Lieutenant?”

“Magic?” Bart asked awkwardly. Surely the Major did not believe what he was saying? Bart had heard about magic in tales when he was a little boy but they were only tales to awe children. They were all lies and make-believe.

“Yes, magic,” The Major opened up his drawer and took out a shiny stone that gleamed from in the dim light and displayed it to Bart. “This stone is the key to your mission, Lieutenant.”

Just when Bartmello was about to ask Arron Piggot to make some sense with the rubbish he was rambling on about, he heard a loud gunshot and a wail from outside in the camp. Then another gunshot and another scream. “By the gods… What was that?” Arron Piggot asked nobody in particular.

The Major ran outside with the stone, leaving Bartmello with his hands still tied up. As if in shock, he waited a few moments and hesitantly walked outside shortly after.

It was chaotic. Bart smelt the gunpowder and struggled to see through the black smoke. However, what he did see were soldiers, some dressed, most half-dressed and a few of them naked as their manhoods dangled running around in panic. It wasn’t just the men. It was everybody. There were bloodied bodies everywhere, a combination of soldiers, children and women.

Some of the violet colored soldiers were struggling to load their rifles; the banan rifle. Their own army issued this shoddy rifle in which the operator could load rounds faster but it was also notorious in having dreadful accuracy. So terrible it seemed you had to be so close that you could shake the hand of the person you was meant to shoot. Some of the officers had swords in hand, unsure of how to use it. Bart would have thought the officers were novices the way they were acting. They can’t all be this green, thought Bartmello.

Bart trundled through the black smoke and barely saw how the fires blazed from tent to tent, smelling seared flesh.

He looked around for the Major but couldn’t find him anywhere. He did however see the enemy attacking; men clad in robes and cloaks as dark as the night sky. Bartmello noticed that this uniform was not issued by the army of Stormsand. It was a uniform he’d never seen before. Who in the hells are these guys? The men were riding on huge great horses that there were seemingly pouring into the camp in the hundreds. The men raced the horses around the encampment equipped with swords, pistols and their own rifles.

They were hacking down at the soldiers in violet coats in fury who were seemingly as green as the grass. They were not merciful to anyone. Not even the women and children as they gunned and slew them down in a blood of red rush.

The black marauders were throwing fire bombs after fire bombs in to the core of the camp, the wagons and tents exploded as a gush of fire flew into the starry sky. It seemed to Bart that if you were to look at the camp from the vulgels point of view, it must have looked like the camp was in fact a sea of flames.

“Mother!” screamed a little girl just before a horseman sliced her head clean off. A Stormsand soldier shot the attacking horsemen causing him to fall off his brown horse in a heap on the grass to stare at the cold open sky.

Bart was at a loss of what to do. He was tied up and unarmed and the one man who could have helped him was possibly dead. He decided that he either had a bullet hole in his head or his head was most likely on a pike by now. Damn, don’t be dead yet, he thought. Bart sprinted south of Arron’s tent, running through the smog, coughing his lungs out.

That was strange. There were almost no dead bodies amongst the prisoners. In fact the live prisoners were nowhere to be seen. Where have the prisoners gone? Surely it wasn’t possible they had all ran away?

Bartmello only had one idea on how to escape this madness; the pit. He ran and he didn’t stop for anyone, not even the little boy who lied dead in a pool of his own blood on the muddy ground. Bart felt as lucky as the stars as realization dawned on him that the attacking horsemen were distracted on things other than himself. There was a chance he’d make it out of this one, alive. Come on, just a little bit further.

Bart found the pit not too far from the river. He looked into the black void and saw piles upon piles of dead bodies; most already half-eaten from the vulgels. He would be safer in there, he knew, there was even a rope-ladder he could use to get out of the pit.

Lieutenant Bartmello Lehanard jumped.