Monday, August 07, 2006

New Beginning 50

Morgan, King of Glevissig, swore and shook his fist at the hillfort. On the rampart above the gate they had slammed shut just in time, the Dumnonian warband jeered breathlessly at their outmaneuvered enemy.

This raid had started so well, too. It made a man glad to be alive, riding under a spring sky with his warriors and a herd of someone else’s cattle. Encountering a smaller enemy warband and putting them to ignominious flight in their own territory had completed Morgan’s delight.

Until they had bolted into this refurbished hillfort, which Morgan had not known existed. He couldn’t storm the fort. He couldn’t besiege it. He couldn’t drive his stolen cattle with an undefeated warband at his back. Unless he thought of something very clever, very soon, he was going to have to slink back to Glevissig outfoxed and empty-handed, a laughing stock. He swore again.

"Can I help you?" asked a stranger's voice behind him.

"Not likely," Morgan answered. "Thou canst see my dilemma."

"Backed into a corner, eh?" The stranger smiled amiably. "Here, let me try." Within moments he had released Morgan of Glevissig and reset the game to the previous level.

"Many thanks," said Morgan, grabbing back the controller.

The stranger grinned. He got a kick out of the ineptitude of grownups.

Continuation: Kate Thornton


M Harold Page said...

Had... had.... had...! Too much backstory in the first few paras.

Open with the gate slamming, not with it just having had slammed.

However, I liked the grasp of the strategy. If this were a Baen book, I'd read on.

Rei said...

"On the rampart above the gate they had slammed shut just in time, the Dumnonian warband jeered breathlessly at their outmaneuvered enemy."

Confusing wording. Perhaps use "which" after gate.

"This raid had started so well, too."

Sounds like you're talking about a raid on the fort, since he's cursing at a fort in the previous paragraph, making the next sentence confusing.

Just my two cents. I got stuck at both those points.

magz said...

I LOVED this, oh Author! I can already tell, Morgan is my kinda guy all the way. When may I buy it?

My critique? Only that there's not enuff of it! Good job!

wd verf; rgnlpeue. Probably the town he planned to hock the stolen cows in.. hehe

spongey437 said...

Two waords that threw me off - ignominious and refurbished.

First off, who uses words like ignominious? Certainly not kings of old that were trying to storm a castle.

SEcond, I dont think they used words like refurbished either - reminds me of a condo more than a fort.

Third, how did he know it was refurbished if he didnt even know it existed in the first place.

none said...

Umm...why can't he besiege the fort? He has his lunch with him, on the hoof, after all.

I presume there'll be some beheadings among his scouts.

Anonymous said...

I'd read on, based on this. There's action, personality and flashes of humour. I like!

Bernita said...

Is it necessary to include that they slammed shut the gate just in time?
It's inferred further on.
Why not just have them jeer breathlessly from the rampart above the gate?

Bernita said...

Ummm...lots of people use words like "ignominious" and "refurbished."
Whether or not a king of old would use it is irrelevant. It's not part of dialogue.
And any warlord worth his salt could tell at a glance wither the fort had been refurbished or not - automatic assessment of such things was their job.

Anonymous said...

Probably totally irrelevant, but for some reason my brain kept replacing "Morgan" with "Marvin". Which made me think of Marvin the Martian, which was, I'm sure, not the association the author had in mind.

However, I doubt most readers have the same mental quirks as I do.

Anonymous said...

I like it. I kind of agree with zornhau about the backstory feel. Make it happenin' now, man! I would like to read more of this story. -JTC

Anonymous said...

Far as I know, laughingstock is one word.

Other than that, I'm afraid I can't be of much help. The first "they" in the opening paragraph confused me and I never regained much. Just not my genre, so I'm ill-equipped to comment.

If it's easy to understand who shut the gate, then don't worry about my comment. But take a look and consider from a reader's POV.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

"and empty-handed, a laughing stock."

Laughingstock is one word, unless the cows were asking someone to pull their hooves.

Kanani said...

(The ending is too funny.)
Dear Writer,
I like the energy in your writing. It's a manly man story: a man with his mates and stolen cattle. I'm just waiting for them to break out into song. Sorry. I can't stop thinking about Monty Python.

A few things:
Take a breather in that first paragraph.
Overall, go through your writing and check for long sentences that don't work very well. I like that Dumnonian warbands jeer, but cut out 'breathlessly,' which sounds like Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday to JFK.

Ignominious is a GREAT word, and it works in your story since the language is somewhat rich anyway.

Thanks for tossing this out there to be the subject of such an irreverent ending! But you have a good start. Clean it up and keep going.

Bernita said...

Dear me, "refurbish" - remove the prefix "re" (meaning "again") and you will discover "furbish" with roots in OF and OHG - to polish up,burnish, to renovate or revive.

A technological term perhaps, but the appropriate technology was the sword and helmet.

Anonymous said...

LOL at the continuation.

I had to read some sentences more than once, interrupting the flow.

"On the rampart..." There's too much in this sentence. And I'm totally confused about the story.

From the first paragraph, I thought Morgan was outside the fort. (Because he swore and shook his fist at it--doesn't sound like the action of someone inside it!) The next sentence made little sense given that first impression--I now thought Morgan was on the rampart above the gate and leader of the Dumnonian warband, but couldn't figure out who "they" were who had slammed the gate shut just in time.

Morgan is leading a raiding party. Is that correct? One would think that he's raided a town or village or fort and made off with the cattle and now is running away from the band of owners who want to get their cows back.

In the second paragraph, we learn that Morgan also encountered a smaller enemy warband and fought with them on "their own" territory (referring to the enemy's territory, I think).

In the third paragraph we learn that Morgan has bolted into a refurbished hillfort. This helps clear up some of the confusion of the first paragraph. Apparently the Dumnonian warband is the opposition.

Oh, wait, maybe the Dumnonian's bolted into the hillfort and Morgan can't storm it.

But why can't he just sneak away in the dead of night while the Dumnonian's sleep? Get a head start, take those cows and make off? Or find another place from which to ambush the Dumnonians if they leave the fort? And why can't they beseige them? Morgan's got the cows (so they have food)?

The first sentence makes me think that Morgan is outside of the hillfort. The second confirms this somewhat, because the Dumnonian warband is on the rampart above the gate. That means Morgan is the leader of the Dumnonian warband, right? But who is "they" who had just slammed shut the gate?

Anyway-you get the idea.

You've got a real story, but if the reader can't follow it, well, lost.

Anonymous said...

I dunno, I kind of liked this. I'd cut "just in time" and "breathlessly" (as another poster mentioned, reminds me of Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday" to JFK).

It moved at a decent clip (well, for 150 words, anyway), and I wondered who was behind the dude - someone who could help him, no doubt.

I'd keep reading.


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Kanani. Jeering breathlessly from the ramparts makes me think of Monty Python. (I fart in your jeneral direction, englishman).

I probably would have stopped reading at the first sentence. Shaking one's fist is so cliche. I can see this guy on his horse, shaking his fist in impotent rage, and it just doesnt track for me.