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View Full Version : The Bandit's Vengeance (language, mild sexual aggression)



monseratthefool
December 15th, 2013, 06:05 AM
This is a novel excerpt, and its long. What'd I'd love to know is where you give up, or if you are intrigued enough to carry on through. I'll trade reviews gladly. Cheers!


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Pavielle’s eyes opened all the way.


The fire at the base of Pellabridge was much larger than usual, with at least five shadows milling around it. This was three more than the usual duo, the names of which she remembered to be Yelcik and Mok. They were gentle men who collected fair tolls, to her memory, and were friendly to the Squall in all past crossings.

Ida and Pingala slowed as they approached the flickering yellow light and crowd of green-clad men. There were no swordsmen present, to Pavielle’s relief, only men in the standard-issue highway rags of the Ore and Structure Company.

“Good evening Miss Pavielle!”

It was Mok, the older man with sandy hair the same color as his face.

“Cool night, smooth road…all is well in the world, Master Mok,” His face opened into a wide grin at hearing his name, remembered and returned so sweetly. “And you?”

“We are good, Miss. Good, good, good.” He shot a glance back at the four men approaching. When he looked back, his smile was gone. “Oh. Yes.”

“Why so many of you this evening?” she asked.

An unfamiliar voice rang out. “That’s not your business, sweetheart.” The bald, girthy man tried to push his way past Mok but was stopped by a small hand on his arm. It was Yelcik, the youngest and shyest of their company.

“Miss Pavielle is no trouble, Burke. She is a friend of the OSC.”

Pavielle bristled, but showed no signs of it. The Squall and the OSC were no friendlier than two alphas in a pack. They were tolerant on their best days, but the sight of fangs was never more than a sneer away.

“Good to see you Master Yelcik,” she said. She nodded in the direction of the bald man. “Master Burke. Gentlemen. Shall we get on with it?”

Mok’s smile returned, but was more uneasy than before. He removed the ledger from where it was tucked into his belt, flipping it open and taking a thin piece of charcoal into his fingers.

He turned to look up at Pavielle’s magnificent coach, and as always he found himself entranced by its beautiful carvings. It was lit by three hanging lanterns; two framing her seat, one floating behind like a ghost hitching a ride.

“Vessel?” he asked. “The Bandit, correct?”

Pavielle nodded. Burke let out an audible snort, whispering something to the men near him.

Mok made a few scratches on his page. “Your cargo this evening?”

“Fifteen bars of Vensa steel from Tiaphet Corra, and seven books from their archives. Twenty rolls of parchment from Eledin. Three sacks of sea salt from the Cerulean Strait. One trunk of farrow grains. Fifty vials of exploding power from the Minersa…”

A murmur went up from the men, which she attempted to quell by raising her voice. “I have all the appropriate paperwork for the powder, sirs.”

Mok was writing hastily, sensing the coming storm. “Is that everything you have to declare, Miss Pavielle?”

“Yes.”

She could hear the murmurs growing in intensity, goaded on by the urgent voice of the bald man Burke.

Mok closed the ledger with a snap and straightened his back in an effort to put on official airs. “Your tariff stands at twelve silver marks for use of the OSC-commissioned Sentinel Road and ongoing maintenance and safety measures, as well as use of the Pennabridge by a horse-drawn vehicle, and for the salaries of safety patrols from which you are benefitting.”

She smiled. The tariff was fair, minimal even. He could have applied additional charges for the weight of the Vensa steel, and for goods as far as way as Eledin which would tend to raise their value. Mok gave her a smile.

“Bullshit!” The shout was so loud that Pingala jumped, stamping at the ground with a shoed foot and causing the Bandit to rock in place.

Burke pushed his way past Yelcik and Mok, now hot with anger. “What else do you have in that fairy coach of yours, smuggler?”

Pavielle ignored him and leaned forward in her seat to retrieve her coin purse. Not by accident, a black tattoo on the swell of her right breast came full into sight.

One of the other men spotted the black circle, eyes growing wide at the sixteen curved runes. He hurried forward and took Burke by the shoulder. “Burke…cool off,” he said, looking up at Pavielle, “She’s one of the Squall.”

Burke slapped the man’s hand away sharply. “I know who she is, you fool!” he barked. “That’s how I know that she’s hiding more than she’s telling.”

He took a step towards Pavielle’s seat, bald head shining from the lamplight. “You know what they say, don’t you boys?” He jutted his stubbly chin out in an effort to look dramatic, then began to recite:

“Ten displayed for fools to count
Ten ‘neath the sheets not stowed too deep.
To satisfy the prier.
Fifty down where none can see,
To keep your gold from prowlers reach.
The Squall is worth the hire.”

He spit after the last line. “You might be able to take advantage of these fools with your shiny hair and perky tits,” he said, waving his hand towards an incised Mok whose face was boiling red.

“But I’m no fool,” Burke said, taking a step closer to Pavielle’s perch. “I see what you’ve put on display for us here. Ten for fools, right?”

He took a wide finger and hooked the laces down the middle of her bodice, tugging downward to reveal the soft squeeze of her breasts.

“How about you show us what you are hiding underneath?”

Mok lunged forward and grabbed the thick upper arm of the larger man. Burke bent his knees and with a heavy grunt, smashed the thick stock of his shoulder into Mok’s chest.

Mok’s body flew backward several feet before skidding to a dusty stop. Yelcick shouted and ran to his partner’s fallen body.

Pavielle’s face was undisturbed. She sat comfortably in her pilot seat, silver eyes as serene as the moon. This sent a rush of hot blood into Burke’s face.

“This is now an official inspection,” he snarled. “By the authority of the Ore and Structure Company.”

He drew an iron dirk from its sheath and began to circle the Bandit.

“You can act stupid if you want, woman, but I’m sure you are aware that there is a fugitive attempting to flee Gevurat on this very night,” he said.

He crouched on the Bandit’s port side and tapped the point of his blade on one of the storage drawers built on the underside of the coach.

“Alvon,” he barked. One of the men scurried forward, unlatched the brass catch on the drawer and slid it open. He began to paw through several large rolls of blank parchment.

Burke restarted his slow circling. “The reward is unusually high on this Walok fellow. Fifteen gold marks for catching a fleeing monk is damn enticing, though no one knows what he’s fleeing from.

He stopped in front of the second storage drawer. “Or with, for that matter.” He tapped his blade on the brass handle and nodded towards a squat man in olive. “Reed.”

Reed approached, slid open the drawer, and began a noisy inspection of Vensa steel rods.

Burke made his way toward the lantern hanging high from the back of the coach. His eyes landed on a heavy wooden trunk lashed to the rear boot. With the tip of his blade, Burke snipped through the rope holding it tightly in place. The light from the lantern flashed across teeth bared into a cruel smile.

“Reed, Alvon. Bring this trunk to the front.”

They struggled and grunted the massive trunk towards the horses. Its weight shifted awkwardly causing them to walk with knees splayed out to stay upright.

Once it was in Pavielle’s sight, they dropped it in the dirt with a heavy thud. She watched intently, not changing her expression as the men went back to inspecting the storage bins.

Burke put his foot casually on the top of the trunk. “I checked the records myself, Mistress. You are the only Squall in Gevurat tonight. Any fugitive with a lick of sense would’ve sought you out immediately, knowing your reputation.”

With startling quickness, he lifted his boot and struck it down hard on the top of the trunk. A shifting sound came from inside the trunk, faint but audible.

He grinned before jiggling the point of his dirk between two wooden slats in the top of the trunk.

“You know,” he said, “I heard you specialize in the filthy trinkets of the rich. Stolen jewels. Potions that pervert the mind. I heard your Bandit here isn’t made for moving fugitives.”

He slid the blade an inch into the wood, causing the shrill screech of wood-on-metal to streak through the air. Pavielle winced. The crack in her stoic façade made him breathe heavier.

“That would put you in a more desperate position, wouldn’t it? You’d have to come up with something clever.” His words had a triumphant snap to them.

Alvon and Reed came back into the lamplight. “It’s like she said, Burke. Salt, steel, and paper.”

“What about the exploding powder?” he asked.

“We saw it through the windows. Its stacked in wooden boxes inside,” replied Reed.

“Any sign of the monk?” barked Burke.

“No sir.”

“Go inside and look.”

Alvon started towards the door on the other side of the coach.

“Don’t do that, Alvon.” It was Mok, now sitting up and resting against Yelcik’s knee.

Burke shouted, “And why the hell not?”

Mok gave a weak smile. “Haven’t you ever heard that you have to ask permission before entering a Squall’s vehicle?”

Burke released the hilt of his blade to take a menacing step in Mok’s direction. The dirk swayed back and forth but stayed skyward, its point lodged firmly in the trunk.

“That little bitch would’ve tramped right over our bridge for a piddling twelve marks, you fool,” he snarled. “Your realize that she is worth more than the thirty travelers before and after, don’t you? And you would ask her permission as she tries to humiliate us?”

“I would ask permission,” replied Mok. “Because I’m not a fool.”

Burke laughed and turned to face the other men. “This man is an embarrassment to the Green. Now,” he ordered, “Go search that goddamn coach.”

No one said a word as Alvon walked briskly around the horses to the other side of the coach. They could hear the sound of his boot on the metal step, then the sound of a metal latch, and then a sharp scream that echoed down the road.

Alvon stumbled back into the firelight screaming wildly, his arm pouring blood from a ragged gulley that ran from his palm to his elbow. He tried to hold the wound closed with his other hand, but blood still squirted erratic lines into the dirt. He stumbled and fell at Reed’s feet, whose hands were shaking as he removed his green coat. He tried to wrap Alvon’s arm with his coat, but was fumbling so badly that his face was becoming streaked with the man’s blood.

Pavielle’s eyes hadn’t strayed from Burke’s, but her lips were now curled into an amused smile. “Oops.”

“You think that’s funny, you whore?” Burke’s teeth were bared like a dog’s.

He stamped over to the trunk, put both fists on the pommel, and shoved the blade through to its hilt. He grinned wildly, then yanked the dagger into the air to show Pavielle the streaks of fugitive blood.

Elvenswordsman
December 15th, 2013, 06:40 AM
Good news first - I read it through.

Next - I love the direction.

Bad news - you're too direct with information, lacking description, and your dialogue feels contrived. The situations are too "This must therefor this must." instead of "This is true, but it just so happens that this is true as well." If you get what I'm saying - things shouldn't be so easily tied together.

I like it though, hope to see more soon.

monseratthefool
December 15th, 2013, 04:11 PM
Elven,

After I ripped this out last night, I re-read it this morning with your critiques in mind and think I understand what you are saying. I was trying to capture the situation around me, and I'll go back and try to infuse it with some flourishes and intrigue. The dialogue feels pretty stiff, I agree - I'll try to loosen it up, less naked exposition. Really, I can't thank you enough for the thoughtful critique - please let me know if there's some of your work you'd like done in turn.

If you care, here's the conclusion of that sequence:

----

Except there wasn’t any blood, only a few red farrow grains tossed up from the blade.

Burke roared and threw the blade into the dirt. He looked up at Pavielle who was holding a few silver marks in the air.

“Passage was twelve marks, right?” she said calmly.

He stomped towards the coach. “I’m taking the passage out of your ass now, whore. I hope you’ve got a comfortable bed in there, or else we’ll have to do this on the road.”

He vaulted forward and grabbed her hair with his right hand, and then his rage went out of him with a squeal.

His legs went numb and his breath was gone. He looked down and saw blood in his abdomen, and then the slender blades that had thrust from under the seat into his belly, and then her hand placed delicately on the parking lever of the coach.

She leaned close to him and whispered, “How does it feel being entered against your will? Not so good, I bet.”

She pulled the lever backward, sending the six blades snapping back into their spring-loaded slots.

“Nothing to say? You were such a fusser just a moment ago.” Pavielle held her ear out as if to listen, but Burke just swayed on his feet.

“Oh well, then.” She put two fingers to his forehead and gave it a tiny shove, sending him backward into a dusty heap.

Mok and Yelcik climbed to their feet, while Reed was still on his knees trying to mend Alvon’s split arm. Pavielle rooted around for a moment before tossing a green pouch down onto the road.

“Pack that into his wound Master Reed, and it will stop the bleeding until you can find proper aid,” she said.

Her eyes darted back to Burke who was writhing around in silence, the dirt around him starting to turn dark and sticky.

“You can use the rest on him,” she said, “but I’m not sure if he’ll make it.”

She turned to Mok and Yelcik and flashed a warm smile. “Would you boys mind loading that trunk into the Bandit for me? I’m afraid it’s far too heavy for me to move myself.”

They didn’t say a word as they dragged the trunk back into the rear boot of the Bandit. When they returned, Pavielle had added two gold coins to the twelve silver and handed them to Mok.

“I’m sorry to have caused a commotion gentleman,” she said. “I’m sure this will cause a fuss when the OSC hears of what happened. I know you’ll tell the truth of it, right?”

Mok handed one of the gold pieces to Yelcik. “Yes ma’am I will.”

Yelcik closed his hand around the gold piece. His eyes were wet, knowing that he held three months OSC salary in his hands. “I’m sorry Miss Pavielle for this. You’ve been kind to us, you always have.”

She took the reins back into her hand and gave them a gentle snap. Ida and Pingala started forward toward the bridge.

As she passed, she learned over and kissed Yelcik’s forehead. His legs weakened at the heady smell of her hair and frankincense and leather.

“Call me Pavi from now on,” she said with a wink.

JonEd
December 15th, 2013, 04:19 PM
Do not be disheartened by some of the criticism I give, it is just what I personally believe to be wrong with your writing. It only means you have space to improve, and that's a wonderful thing to have.
Anyway, just going to read through and pick some things out :)

with at least five shadows milling around it. - I feel as though this is a weird description. Personally I would have said something different, like: 'The fire at the base of Pellabridge was much larger than usual, shadows warped and twisted around it, dancing with each flicker of the red tongues." (just a quick attempt)

Ok scratch that ^ the shadows have a different meaning :)

“Cool night, smooth road…all is well in the world, Master Mok,” His face - should be a lower case h, just a small grammatical error.

Ok I've stopped doing this ^ because it's just a combination of some small grammatical errors, and a few sentences that can be rearranged. Overall, I think your story is rather captivating and effective, and I hope to read more soon.

- - - Updated - - -

Do not be disheartened by some of the criticism I give, it is just what I personally believe to be wrong with your writing. It only means you have space to improve, and that's a wonderful thing to have.
Anyway, just going to read through and pick some things out :)

with at least five shadows milling around it. - I feel as though this is a weird description. Personally I would have said something different, like: 'The fire at the base of Pellabridge was much larger than usual, shadows warped and twisted around it, dancing with each flicker of the red tongues." (just a quick attempt)

Ok scratch that ^ the shadows have a different meaning :)

“Cool night, smooth road…all is well in the world, Master Mok,” His face - should be a lower case h, just a small grammatical error.

Ok I've stopped doing this ^ because it's just a combination of some small grammatical errors, and a few sentences that can be rearranged. Overall, I think your story is rather captivating and effective, and I hope to read more soon.

Badhorses Mare
January 3rd, 2014, 08:23 PM
I can't wait to read more. Most of the stories I start are set in a world very different from reality and I have a hard time setting the scene and you have done that very well. It kind of gives me a new way to look at it and is very helpful Thank you!
I love the little rhyme too!