Author Topic: story beginning part 2 - Fantasy - 1433 words  (Read 3299 times)

Offline Andrewf

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story beginning part 2 - Fantasy - 1433 words
« on: March 19, 2008, 10:49:05 AM »
This is the next part of the beginning of this story...

I've cleaned it up a bit, let me know what you think.



The door led from the storeroom to a short brick-lined hallway, which in turn opened out onto a shadowy dank cobbled alleyway. As I looked around I saw that we were in the narrow alley behind a warehouse that looked unused and abandoned.

I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly my eyes adjusted to the daylight, until I realized that our journey through the back alleys of the city was confined to the more shadowy areas. Like her surefooted namesake, Kitten darted from shadow to shadow until it felt like we had walked for miles; finally arriving at a boarded-up two-storey building that sported a faded sign of a rearing red dragon.

Kitten stopped in the narrow street beside the old tavern, casually looked around and then stomped three times on tavern’s coal chute cover. She quickly lifted it and gestured for me to follow her as she smoothly slid inside. “Try not to hit your head,” she whispered back at me with a small smile, “It’s taken more than enough damage for one lifetime.”

Pausing a moment to look around and memorise my surroundings, I followed Kitten down the disused coal-chute and through a thick pair of blackout curtains. I landed unceremoniously onto a stack of empty burlap sacks. In the large cloth draped armchair before me sat a grey haired man. He had a long puckered scar running down the left side of his face from his hairline to his jaw and was wearing black from head to toe. He looked like an old fighter gone slightly to seed. On either side of the armchair stood six unsavoury looking mounds of muscle with fists the size of small kegs.

In the moment or two that I needed to study my surroundings, Kitten lithely climbed into the seated scarred man’s lap.
“You must be Aran,” I suggested with a wary smile at the man.

He turned to Kitten looking affronted and asked, “He talks to me?”
“It appears that he has forgotten his manners, Aran,” Kitten nodded slightly, “as well as a lot of other things.”
Aran nodded his understanding, “Ah yes, you did say.”
I waited in silence, not wanting to offend him any further, or his guards for that matter, and watched Aran as his blue eyes sized me up.

“He knows nothing of his past?” he inquired, his piercing gaze not leaving me for an instant although I knew he wasn’t speaking to me.
“No, Aran,” Kitten replied, lifting herself up off his lap and onto the arm of the large covered armchair they sat on.
“And he needs my powers of observation,” he murmured aloud, “and perhaps... employment.”
“Yes, Aran.”
“He should move closer,” he instructed.

Before I could even get to my feet, a brigand on either side of me grabbed the ends of the bag that I was sat on and tossed me closer to my host. I landed hard at his feet and was surprised to smell soap under the stink of stale sweat oozing from his unwashed guards.
Aran leaned forward, looking at me with lively interest, and gestured with his fingers to the left and right. I was roughly lifted to my feet, jostled from side to side and spun about by his flunkies so that he could see all sides of me.

“He has a tattoo on his left hand,” Aran mumbled to himself, “perhaps a slave mark, or the mark of a thief. The hands are strong, and yet appear uncallused. The knuckles have been bruised more than a few times. Both earlobes remain intact. No substantial gut from a sedentary life. Not much intelligence either, he looks just less than average.”
I had just about reached my limit of tolerance when Aran leant back in his chair once more and sighed dismissively, “He no longer amuses me... Get rid of him!”

I looked at Kitten, trying to make eye contact, but was immediately distracted by the guard to my left tensing up. Without thinking, I tumbled away from him, turning as I rolled, until I regained my footing in a defensive crouch with my back to the cellar wall.

The guards hesitated for a brief second, just long enough for me to get my bearings. A quick glance above failed to reveal the curtained chute I’d entered by, and I doubted that the approaching muscle would give me time to find it. Turning to the front once again, I saw my host reclining as if he was awaiting the start of some kind of gladiatorial combat. Kitten was still sat at his side with no expression on her face.

The guards came at me one at a time, which made no sense if they really wanted to kill me. The first had a mace, the second a wire garrotte, the third a dagger, and the fourth a short sword. In each case, I eluded my attacker with relative ease, surprising myself at my own inherent agility and expertise. Having dispatched the fourth guard with the hilt of his own short sword, I seized the initiative.
I threw myself at one of the last two remaining. The heel of my right hand smashed into his forehead while the fingertips of the other plucked two carefully concealed throwing stars from the inner folds of his tunic. I jumped to the side and then swiftly forward so that I was now balanced over the lap of my host with the point of one star poised against his jugular vein.

Before I could issue my threat, Aran barked, “Enough!” and the guards all withdrew back to the walls.

Holding the star still in place, I watched their retreat and then felt the tip of a dagger lightly resting against my own jugular, its hilt held steadfastly in Kitten’s small hand.
“No need for that, Kitten,” Aran said, careful to not move his head. “I think I can now trust this fellow.”
Kitten withdrew her dagger and relaxed as she pulled up her skirts and replaced it in the sheath strapped to her slender thigh. Accordingly, I removed the star from Aran’s throat and relaxed too, moving back in front of him.
Aran sighed, and a grin of satisfaction crossed his lips as he asked, “Do you want to know what I know?”
“What do you know?” I asked, curious what he might have inferred from me.

“You are obviously an exceptional fighter of superior training,” he replied with a self-satisfied smile. “Despite a certain hardness to your features and bearing, your breeding and body show few signs of the devastations of poverty or abuse. Fast reflexes, keen senses and good instincts. If I had to guess I’d say you were either a royal assassin or a master thief.” He paused for a moment and pursed his lips before adding, “Oddly, though, you avoid lethality in your moves. You don’t kill unless you have to.”
“So?” I demanded, frustrated by his Blockedysis as it led me no closer to who I was.

Aran looked to Kitten, smiled indulgently and softly stroked her cheek with the back of his knuckles before turning back to me and replying, “So I might have use for you. Kitten can show you to a room I have on retainer. I’ll deduct the rent from your first job.”

Kitten nimbly hopped from the arm of the large armchair, opened a well disguised door in the apparently blank wall, and gestured for me to follow. As I passed Aran, who had obviously been entertained by the combat, he volunteered one more observation.
“That mark on your hand is a brand, but not of the usual, slave variety. It wasn’t burned in; it looks to be of magical origin, perhaps a marking of some secret society. I wouldn’t worry about it if I was you.”

The door closed behind me and I followed Kitten up a flight of stairs. “Some job interview,” I mused aloud as we climbed.
“He only brokers the best,” she replied. She showed me into a small shadowed room where a hearty meal had been laid out on a rickety table. “I’ll be back after you’ve eaten,” she said and then left me in silence.

After finishing the food I looked at the small black tattoo that graced the back of my left hand. The ink looked fresh and dark but the skin was not tender and so it could not be too recent. It resembled nothing so much as a wagon wheel with seven spokes, and I wondered if I had been a teamster or something similar at some point in my missing past.


*   *   *   *   *   *   *



Thanks for reading,
Andrew


edit: Amending the dialoge as suggested by Symphony :)
« Last Edit: March 20, 2008, 08:18:20 AM by Andrewf »
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Offline Maxine

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Re: story beginning part 2 - Fantasy - 1433 words
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2008, 05:17:31 PM »
Hi Andrew, this continues to be a good read.  Your characters are well thought out and strong.
I have one question though and it may just be me being a bit dense.
Pausing a moment to look around and memorise my surroundings, I followed Kitten down the disused coal-chute and through a thick pair of blackout curtains.
Blackout curtains are a WW2 reference I think, so perhaps a heavy tapestry would fit your era better?
Maxine
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Offline Andrewf

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Re: story beginning part 2 - Fantasy - 1433 words
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2008, 08:16:20 AM »
Thanks Maxine,
True, a heavy blanket or tapestry would suit better, but i thought the blackout curtains were a quicker way to show that they were specifically to block out the light within the cellar.


Andrew
"If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion." - L. Long.

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Offline Age

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Re: story beginning part 2 - Fantasy - 1433 words
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2008, 12:32:37 AM »
Pausing a moment to look around and memorise my surroundings, I followed Kitten down the disused coal-chute and through a thick pair of blackout curtains.

Memorize

I landed unceremoniously onto a stack of empty burlap sacks. In the large cloth draped armchair before me sat a grey haired man. He had a long puckered scar running down the left side of his face from his hairline to his jaw and was wearing black from head to toe. He looked like an old fighter gone slightly to seed. On either side of the armchair stood six unsavoury-looking mounds of muscle with fists the size of small kegs.

Add a dash between the two words, and you're good.  Wow, lots of fantasy writing populating the MWC...I think I need to add another peice of my tale, just because...
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Offline Big T

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Re: story beginning part 2 - Fantasy - 1433 words
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2008, 12:34:42 AM »
Memorize

Nope, the initial spelling is correct ... from an English POV of course!   ;)
Big T  :o

Offline Age

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Re: story beginning part 2 - Fantasy - 1433 words
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2008, 12:45:19 AM »
Bah!  whatever.  It's been a weird morning anyway.
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Offline Andrewf

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Re: story beginning part 2 - Fantasy - 1433 words
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2008, 10:33:38 AM »
LOL

And now on to part 3, Age...  ;D


Andrew
"If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion." - L. Long.

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