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MBNewman
July 5th, 2013, 12:05 AM
The second half of the first chapter of the Brookrow Bastards. Both are first drafts, and still need much revision. Mainly I am looking for opinions on the tone and especially on the back story in the dialogue. Also the argument near the end, not sure how I feel about it yet. Just putting that out there.

Thank you, continuing readers and new alike.

***

There are moments when time seems to slow to an anomalous crawl. I was experiencing such a phenomenon; watching the faces of the men who surrounded me, seeing the cruelty and sadism depicted in their eyes. From the expressions of excitement they wore to the sounds of the laughter, I could absorb all of my surroundings details. I saw past the trees, and reached for the forest beyond.

My hand clasped hold of the twinkling object, sliding swiftly and deftly into my pocket. I turned my head, drew a curt breath, and relaxed my tense body. For a brief moment, I felt serenity.

It was an extraordinary and enthralling experience, cut short by a resounding blow across my cheek from the burly sailor’s balled up fist. It was not as if I had not seen the strike coming in my moments of clarity. It was simply that I had chosen to ignore it for the time being.
Laying face first upon the ground was not the place I wanted to be, but rather the one I had to be. Lamenting my actions over the pulsating pain spreading across my face, I heard the sounds I knew would come next.

The next step of my plan involved another, but they had not been informed. I was trusting in the strength of my relationship with my brother to see my through this situation, and I was certain that I could rely on him. Almost as if on cue, Aiden called out to the man, “What the hell do you think you’re doing? That’s my kid brother you just hit!”

Aiden could be a particularly formidable figure. He wasn’t overtly tall, but he was naturally well-built, loyal and fearless. It only helped that he had learned to defend himself from years of defending me on the countless occasions I had gotten in trouble. It was bond we shared, and the only assured thing I knew of.

Aiden flung his coat from his shoulders, and rolled up his sleeves. The sailor was not impressed by my brother’s size, being a head taller and a body wider. He turned to his friends to share a laugh and mock my brother’s bravado. He did not get the chance.

My brother placed his hands on the man’s chest and shoved him back. The sailor stumbled, and his leg caught against my propped up body. The man tumbled to the ground, landing flat on his back with a prominent oomph. Aiden was on the man in an instant, planting a knee against the man’s chest, and stilling the fight in him with a blade pressed against his neck.

The room fell silent as the sailors watched in awe. No one breathed, no one moved. Even the ones he had called his friends stood quiet, eyes wide. They did not know my brother as I, and from the expression on his face, they would not be surprised to see bloodshed.

My brother’s anger knew no bounds, and he was never more furious than when someone had raised a hand to strike me. He had always been my protector and my guardian, even when our father had still been alive. We had always been at each other’s sides, and we would do anything for one another.

“Aiden,” I said.

My brother glanced back briefly, and let a breath out through his nose. “If I ever see you touch my brother again, I’ll cut you from ear to ear.” He withdrew the blade, and removed himself from the man’s chest, stepping back in case the man had a mind for attack. The sailor remained on the floor, as stunned and shocked as his fellows were.

Aiden was the better man that day, as I had less mercy than he. I stood from the ground, gazed down at the man and delivered a swift and solid kick to his cheek. “An eye for an eye,” I said, and spat on the floor beside him.

I grabbed my coat from the chair it lay on, and went about gathering my deck of cards that lay scattered about the table. “Leave the cards,” Aiden said. I tossed what cards I had gathered back onto the table, and went to my brother’s side.

The sailor had gotten up, and he appeared to be as joyful as I had expected him to be. I wondered if he was the kind of man to accept a defeat, or if he was the kind that would charge head long at us in some ill-gotten attempt at revenge. I would prefer the first option, of course, but then again, I had been in the kind of mood gravitating to the latter.

Again, the man had no time to speak. From our rear came the stark call of the first mate, Mister Briggs. The man was mariner if I had ever seen one, though lacking the trite eye patch or wooden leg. He carried himself as the honorable man of the sea he was. On this ship, only the ocean and the captain were more powerful than he.

“Entertaining our guests, are we, men?” he asked, glancing about the group, meeting all of their gazes. “I am sure they have had enough frivolity for one night. You may all return to your posts or to your bunks, your recreational time is over.”

The first mate turned to us and said, “Come with me.”

We followed after the man, but I could not help but offer a parting farewell to my new comrades. “Keep the cards, gentleman,” I called over my shoulder. “Good game.”

The first mate brought us to his quarters, a considerably smaller living space than the captain’s quarters we had seen the night we had paid him for passage. Though, he was lucky to not have to share. He offered us a seat upon his bunk, and he pulled the chair from his desk to sit upon.

He bore a grim expression, amplified by deep set lines in his face. “When I persuaded the captain to allow you passage on this vessel, you agreed to uphold certain standards. They were simple enough, were they not? Do not take anything that is not yours or expressly given to you, do not enter any authorized areas without escort, and do not incite any commotion amongst the ranks.”

“I apologize, Mister Briggs,” Aiden replied. “It wasn’t our intention to cause any trouble. I hadn’t been part of the incident until my brother had been struck down. I cannot apologize for my actions, but for any grief it may have caused you.”

“I do not blame you for what you did,” Briggs replied, though he seemed no less irritated with us. “That man can be a real son of bitch, and needs to be put in his place at times. If the captain got word of this I would get an earful. Who started the fight and caused all of this nonsense?”

“Ask him,” Aiden said, jabbing a thumb my way.

I looked between the two and gave an nonchalant shrug. “We were playing a game of cards. I brought the deck, so I figured it was my rules. Long story short, I had better cards than he thought I did because he insisted his rules were the ones we were playing by. I called him a cheater and sore loser; he did not take it well.”

“All of this was over a friendly game of cards?” my brother asked.

“Well, it wasn’t exactly friendly. We had a standing wager.”

“We don’t have the kind of coin to be gambling it away.”

“Well, it’s not like I lost—according to my rules, anyway.” Aiden did not seem pleased by my answer, but I continued in spite, “I won, he lost. I grabbed the pot, he hit me in the face. You know the rest.”

Aiden appeared to have a few choice words for me, but he held back as Mister Briggs cleared his throat. “Listen. Not much happens crossing the Western Sea. The way I see it, my boys got some excitement, and you boys got what’s yours. Fair is fair. You have but half a day’s journey before we arrive. I would ask that you keep to yourselves for the remainder. If you can assure me of this, we can close this up and forget all of this.”

“There will be no further incidents, Mister Briggs,” Aiden said, keeping an eye on me as he said it.

“I will hold you to that.” He too turned his squinted eyes to me, and asked, “Can I assume I have your word, as well?”
“You may assume.” Aiden batted my shoulder, so I amended, “Yes, Mister Briggs.”

“Good,” he said. “I would suggest you get an early night on you. None of the men should bother you, but if they do I would ask that you let me deal with them in my own way.”

“You’re a fair man, Mister Briggs,” my brother said.

“Cause no more trouble for me, and it shall stay that way. You may leave.”

We departed from his quarters and wandered towards the crew’s quarters. Aiden was silent while we walked, though I knew something was on his mind. I knew that he was frustrated with me, as I had broken the promise I had only just made him. Not that I had never made him that promise before. I was a troublemaker that was what I did, but I could understand his frustration.

“Come on, Aiden,” I chuckled. “I spruced up an otherwise boring night, didn’t I?”

Suddenly, he had me pinned against the wall, my shoulders clenched in his vice-like grip. His voice was cold, on the brink of furious. “You promised me you would stay out of trouble.”

I wriggled against his grasp, knowing full well that I could not break free. We had wrestled playfully as brothers do, and fought over petty arguments as well, but never had I won in a test of strength.

“You promised me.”

“I know.”

“Not even a day passed, and you break your promise.”

“I know,” I seethed, gritting my teeth. “Let go.”

Aiden glowered, but released me. I adjusted my coat, and tucked my rustled hair back. I knew that no matter how furious he was with me, he would not strike not unless I struck first. I was perhaps the sole person who had that courtesy from him.

“Gods, I don’t even know why I thought bringing you along was a good idea.”

“Because leaving me behind was a worse one?”

“What happens when we get to Irianna, Killian? How can I trust you not to fret away the last of our coin? You were pampered your whole life, you never had to work to earn your way. I gave you that money for emergencies only. If we are going to do this, we will need that money for food and shelter. We’ve talked about this. We don’t know how long we will be there.”

“I’m sorry. At least I didn’t lose the coin. There’s no harm done.”

“That’s not the point.” Aiden turned his head away from me, and I could the struggle in his expression. “I love you, brother, but I’m not sure I can trust you.”

Without another word, he turned and walked away. I remained where I stood, and watched him depart. I was stunned by his words. Part of me felt guilt, the other anger. I was furious that he could say such a thing, and I was furious with myself for giving him reason to.

I cathartically popped my knuckles, and made my way up to the deck to clear my head, and spend another restless night with the company of the sea.
*

Folcro
July 5th, 2013, 06:47 PM
Hey, MB,

Many of my criticisms from the last chapter would apply to this one. There are many details and expositions I deeply feel are not needed.

I chose to see past the trees I saw past the trees.

As I briefly lamented my actions over the pulsating pain spreading across my face, I heard the sounds I knew would come next Lamenting my actions over the pain across my face, I heard the sounds I knew were coming. ---Makes it a little tighter, makes it read smoother.

his leg caught against my conveniently propped up body No need for "conveniently." Let the reader decide whether it was coincidental, or had Aiden planned it.

The air rushed from him his lungs, coming with a prominent oomph It's a lot of words to describe a grunt, don't you think? Especially since this is not taking place from that guy's POV.

You lost me a little bit toward the end there as well. Perhaps It's my headache, but everyone seemed to sound the same to me. The dialogue was a little overt; as in, not enough action or description. Just dialogue. When you write action and description, however, it is not at all bad. If you can better balance it with the dialogue, the chapter will read a lot more smoothly.

MBNewman
July 5th, 2013, 07:39 PM
Folcro,
Thank you for yet another read.
I knew the dialogue would be needing the most work, and the ending of this chapter most of all. I'll think on what you suggested when I go back in to retool some things. Killian I can tinker with easily, as he is familiar to me. Aiden (and Mister Briggs) are new characters and their voice and interactions between them will need to be developed a little bit.
It has been a mess trying to set the tone (hence all the rewrites). Thank you also for pointing out instances where sentences might seem a little awkward.

LamentableBard
July 10th, 2013, 09:15 AM
Always nice to see more Brookrow stuff and I can certainly sympathise with your struggle on finding the right tone, it's something I've had problems with myself lately.

It's interesting to see where you've taken Killian over these last months and though this newer material is by no means bad, I think I preferred your earlier work slightly more. Folcro hit the nail on the head when he mentioned the prose as being a little flowery. Some people dig the archiac styling but from earlier reads I got the sense that Killian was a dark character trying to atone, a type of anti-hero, and I don't feel this current tone suits the character or the world you've started to build for us readers. Your earlier stuff was hard-hitting, to-the-point and flowed beautifully.

Did writing this newer material come more naturally than the previous chapters? If so then by all means stick with what you're comfortable with, it just needs a little trimming to keep the flow smooth (again see Folcro's advice).

Sheesh, sorry if I'm coming off as mainly negative. It's still an intriguing read and I really want to know more about these characters and what happens/has happened (I'm a sucker for tragic pasts) and I think the introduction of Aiden as a character is a good one and gives Killian more of a human element and an insight to the man behind the myth. Though if it's the Brookrow BastardS now, I'm guessing they're both due some infamy...

I hope to read more soon, good luck!

MBNewman
July 10th, 2013, 08:25 PM
To LamentableBard,
Thank you for taking another read, glad you've tagged along despite all this jumbling. The change came when I sat stumped, staring at a blank page, and I realized that the book was not going the way that I wanted it to. Killian Todd, to me, had always been light-hearted and humorous (even if he mainly used it as a mask to hide histrue emotions because he is afraid to show weakness).

THIS, referring to what is posted, is reminiscent of the original Killian Todd. The previous incarnation was something of an experiment, and I have taken what I have learned of the tragic hero and applied it not only to him but to his brother Aiden. I really see Aiden Todd as that dark, serious antihero. It's my aim to have people like you and Folcro really care for not only Killian, but especially Aiden. Doing this I, and hopefully the reader, can have the best of both worlds with the two characters who are both alike but entirely different.

Granted, I have toyed with the idea to introduce Aiden's perspective, but I felt that this was Killian's story, always has been, and it should stay that way.

I decided against any sort of upfront back story, and it will come up when applicable now. I'll finish up the second chapter sometime soon, which should not only give a bit more of that tragic past but also show off my most...relieving changes to the book: Killian's age and capability.