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If you write short stories or fan fiction, this is the place to do it.
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07-20-2012, 04:50 PM #1
Iron Quill --> Beta Round --> never enough cats
“The orders for today as follows….” The governor’s attendant drones on and on.
My name is Andres Castillas and I work for the Guild here in Malifuax. Before I entered the breach, my father used his ties to secure me a job here. I am now sure that he didn’t understand the perils of this land. Upon hearing my name, I immedatley come to attention, and listen to where my orders are going to send me. And I start to pray that I’ll make it back to another one of these meetings.
“Private Castillas, you are hereby assigned to Perdita for the next two weeks. As she is the top expert in the field of Neverborn, please try to stay alive. You will wait for her at the entrance to the Western Slums at 10:00 sharp. Help where you can and please try to stay out of the way. Report to the Drill Sergeant, you will need to be armed.”
The rest of the meeting is all a blur after hearing my orders. I realize that I will be issued a peacebringer, and I try to remain calm as I run to meet Perdita. Running through the streets with my satchel and trying to hide my weapon. Time blurs as I focus on the possible events of the near future.
“Well, at least you’re not late. I hate being late.” The voice stops me dead in my tracks. I had lost track of time. I look up and see most of the Ortega Clan assembled. I start to stutter as I introduce myself.
“Priv priv private Castillas Ma’am. I have been assigned to your duty for the following two weeks. Why are we here? None of the guild reports have any sightings of Neverborn in this sector. “
Perdita answers “I don’t always hunt the Neverborn. I go where my orders send me, and here we have arrived. I’m sure you have heard the reports of missing children from this sector. It very well could be the neverborn stealing the children. Or it could be something else entirely, that is why we are here.”
Her demeanor quiets my misfeelings about this assignment. The clan prepares to enter into the slums, and I follow suit. Time passes as we start to question the locals. The explanations seem to point to something sinister, but we realize that we have no idea what we are facing. All accounts seem to mention a soft melody playing before a child turns up missing. And if some people are to be believed, a strange looking dog leads the child away. As I am making my notes that night, I remark that none of this makes sense. By all accounts and findings, this doesn’t seem to fit the M.O. of the Neverborn. They prefer to attack and in the aftermath children tend to come up missing. But there are no attacks, no bloodshed. And even more puzzling, there are reports of dead cats, surrounded by dead rats. Dozens of cats just turn up dead, looking like they were mauled by their very prey.
We are awakened by the sounds of screams, everyone is rushing out into the street. I pull my peacebringer out as I see the rest of the clan is armed and ready for action.
“Careful son. Let’s not be too hasty. This doesn’t have the feel of an ambush. We just don’t want to be surprised.” Nino says as he lowers his weapon. I feel like a fool, I was ready to shoot first and then ask questions.
“Ms. Ortega, all of our cats are dead. And the warehouse was full of rats. And Bill is dead, just look at him.” Sobs the innkeeper, as reality sets in. Perdita starts to motion people out of the way, and nods to Nino.
Pulling me aside, “Now son be careful. Remember your training. If anything happens, it is your duty to report this to the Guild. If I give the word, you need to run until you reach your superiors. This is not a Neverborn incursion, but something else entirely. They need to know that. If this goes poorly, don’t worry about us. You just remember your mission in this. “
I try to smile and remain calm as the clan takes their positions around the warehouse. I attempt to stay close to Nino, but I need to see the inside of that building. Just as Perdita goes to open the door, a soft haunting melody starts. I look around to try to find the source of the music.
“Be ready, I think the music is coming from inside”, cautions Fransico.
The music stops as he opens the door. Hundreds upon hundreds of rats pour out of the now open door. All the rats seem to move as one giant mass, seemingly uncoordinated, but with an unseen guiding hand. Somewhere in the distance a dog barks, and the rats disappear down a side street. As we give chase, there is no trace of any rats.
“The answer to all of this is close. Be on guard, I feel that we are being watched. “ Advice from Santiago, the first time he has said anything since my arrival.
A dog barks again, and in the distance we see a figure. A slim man leaning on his walking staff, and by his side a dog. And there beside him are standing some of the missing children, and in front of them all a swarm of rats. I don’t mean just a few rats, but it appears to be countless.
“Leave this place. This is your only chance. “ The mysterious man seems to be confident that he can back up his statement.
Nino motions for me to take a place at the end of the street. “Remember, once this starts it is your duty to report this to the Guild officials. That is the most important thing. Take off running if those rats get close to us. “
I move to where I can see the fight, and possibly help out with a few well placed shots. As she walks by Perdita says, “Put your weapon away. I won’t risk you hurting us. Be ready to run, I’m sorry. I know you just want to help in the fight, but we need to be careful.”
I nod and holster my weapon saying “Yes Ma’am. I will report back to our superiors. Good luck to you. Should I return?”
“That will not be needed. If we survive, I will join you tomorrow morning at the Guild office. “ As she walks away, she starts to give orders to her clan.
I find myself puzzled with one order, why kill the dog. After all it’s just a dog, right?
In the first brief moments, I watch in amazement as the clan takes up firing positions. Nino flanks on the left while Fransico and Santiago take the center. Perdita takes the right flank and starts shooting at the rats. Amazed at their accuracy, I don’t think I could hit one of those little bodies.
Those children are not children anymore. I swear I saw the man summon one to him, but it disappeared right on the spot. And where it had just stood, more rats come swarming at the Ortega clan.
Shots are ringing out, just about every shot hitting it’s mark. But that does nothing to stem the tide of the swarm. It just seems that when a rat dies, another is ready to take its place. After just a few minutes, the swarm seems to halt. And that is when the mysterious man appears, with a horde of children around him.
“Halt and desist.” Commands Perdita, as she takes aim. It seems to me that she is ready to execute him on the spot, and she never flinches.
“Do you really want to die here?” she asks, ready to shoot.
“Does it really matter?” he responds.
Just as Perdita pulls the trigger, the rat swarm leaps back into action. I swear that the man has a hole in his head, right between the eyes. But I stare in disbelief when a child drops motionless to the ground, and the mysterious man is standing before us again.
“Now Private Castillas,” shouts Nino.
“With that I turned and ran, Sir. Just like they told me to, I didn’t want to but that was my mission from my superior. “I explain to the governor’s attendant and the captain of the guards.
“Relax son, you were just following orders. Go home and return here tomorrow morning. Perdita just reported that they are on their way here to report as well,” said the antendant as he went back to his reports.
“Well son, you heard him. I expect you here tomorrow 8:00 sharp.” said the captain as he turned back to his men. “Any plans for the rest of the day?”
I pause and think about it, “Yes Sir. I need to go and find five cats to call my own. After seeing that many rats, I don’t think there will ever be too many cats.”
This is my first ever attempt at something like this.
07-22-2012, 01:30 PM #2
- Join Date
- Sep 2009
- Land of the leprecons
Thanked 57 Times in 45 Posts
It's a bit too close together here, try separating it out
Neverborn are infamous for their clock and dagger tactic's, Hamlin not so much, he bloody and messy, everything he does is noticeable from a mile away. Also nobody outside the Neverborn or Levitus knows that Hamlin isn't with them, the perdita and the rest of the Ortages would just refer to him as that or a reseructionist (as he was mistaken for in book 2)
Also Niño is seventeen, him calling someone son just seems wrong
Most of the Ortaga's seems like a lot, just say three of four of them were there
There's something odd with the way the ortaga talk, can't put my finger on it, but doesn't seem rightOur's
07-23-2012, 04:40 AM #3
- Join Date
- Dec 2010
Thanked 10 Times in 9 Posts
I have to agree with chocobo's points thought there is a good idea for a story in there, it just needs a bit of refining and splitting into smaller paragaraphs, speech etc.
I think for a first attempt this is very good, and you've been brave and used already established characters which is something I tend to stay away from as I don't think i could ever do them justice!
Maybe you could approach the way the Ortegas speak a little differently...they sound kind of robot like here..I think I know the cool gunfighter style you are going for but somehow it hasn't quite come across?
But apart from a few tweaks here and there (see Chocobos Hamelin references) it is a good solid base... Hope this helps!
07-24-2012, 07:57 PM #4
Thanks for the tips guys. I've missed out on a few books. A new lgs was interested in the game, so I became a henchman. I'm going to get the books for the fluff sometime soon. I'll make the changes tomorrow.
07-24-2012, 09:18 PM #5
I think there's two approaches to doing established characters. One is to grab up all the source material and try and match that flow because it jars other people when things don't follow with the canon.
I however take the other approach. If you can soundly establish a completely divergent alternative storyline then it gives you freedom to do what you want while still having familiar images and characters. I love my alternative take and I'd suggest trying something similar.
07-27-2012, 04:42 AM #6
- Join Date
- May 2011
- Erie, PA
Thanked 141 Times in 121 Posts
I will say, Chosen's alt characters are a lot of fun to read, especially his Ramos (by the way, are you ever getting back to that story? lol). I think for a first attempt, this was quite good. You've got a decent plot, and your technical skills are solid overall. I think the personality of your main character came through pretty well. The biggest thing I'll say, and with full knowledge how hard it is to break out of it, but your writing voice is incredibly formal, almost essay like. While this can work for some types of prose, it just doesn't seem to fit a first person perspective very well, and makes the guy seem like... hm. I think Dan Abnett was the one who put it best- 'a starched up feth,' lol. Now, keep in mind, this doesn't mean you did something wrong. It takes a while to find your own voice as a writer, and it's probably, in my opinion, one of the most challenging tasks you can run into. Still, the journey itself is a lot of fun to find it! Keep at it, I hope to read more from you in the future!In a world where carpenters are resurrected, anything is possible.
07-29-2012, 04:31 PM #7
- Join Date
- Apr 2010
- Not in Edinburgh Zoo
Thanked 122 Times in 76 Posts
Not too bad.
I see you still haven't broken up those paragraphs ;)
My problem with the Ortegas apart from things like Nino's age being mistaken was that they never sounded latino and a bit more gruff than I expect them to be (Perdita is rather cool in her demeanour though).
Also saying that as soon as one rat is killed, another takes its place doesn't convey the feeling of a swarm as well as saying a dozen took its place =]
There's also no transition between the main text and the end. Either start with him reporting in and/or have a clearer transition.
There was no mention of plague. I would expect Hamelin's presence (over the period of children going missing) to be accomponied by plague outbreak. And amongst the horde of rats and army of "children", I don't think Perdita would ask this mysterious warlock whether he wants to die; at that point it's not up to him. And during the "action" sequence I felt like I was reading a battle report summary.
You also mention the dog a few times like it's meant to mean something, but it never pays off, and seems kinda a forced effort to include Nix.
What I did really like was the use of cats; that was original and gave the story a nice element of humorous sincerty.
But yes, not bad for a first attempt and shows that you have a lot of potential.
Keep it up =]*** Weird Journal: Wyrd Miniatures Fanzine *** "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."
08-03-2012, 10:08 PM #8
- Join Date
- Jul 2010
- Manchester or Harrogate...
Thanked 64 Times in 46 Posts
Interesting view on the Ortegas, pretty hard to read in the wall of text format though!
08-04-2012, 01:51 AM #9
Thanks - good read, but yeah, please break up the text next time
08-05-2012, 02:47 PM #10
- Join Date
- Aug 2011
Thanked 13 Times in 13 Posts
I like your use of first-person present tense, and the way you sold Castillas's inexperience and nervousness. It made him an instantly engaging character, which is important for a story that is so short. The twist on the cats was cute, too.
I only had two main problems, here. One was that you need to break up those paragraphs. I get the sense that you had proper indentations when you wrote it, but that when it was copy-pasted to the New Post box, those indentations were lost, leaving you with big blocks of text. Next time, I'd either write it for posting, using double line breaks instead of indentations, or saving the finished story as an HTML file, and copy-pasting that, which is what I do.
My other criticism revolves around the Ortegas, which seemed under-used here. They could just as easily have been replaced with a squad of veteran guardsmen with no real change in the story's dynamic. My view on established characters is that it is always best to keep them in the background, or to endeavor to bring out as much of their personality as faithfully as I can. Otherwise, they come across as frivolous guest stars.
Otherwise, though, this was a pretty enjoyable story. I'd like to see how it would work out with a bit of refinement and tightening up.
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