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The Claret Lion

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Wed Jan 19, 2005 2:08 am
Meshalidar says...



This is the first part of an assignment due on Friday. Just wanting to know what you think. If you could, reviewing would be much appriciated.

The Claret Lion

The calm waters of the Garinal River did little as the large bulk of the Claret Lion, a bland trade ship that wandered the easternmost tributaries of, glided against the full moon. Muldara was ruled by a man of greed, who called Malamor his dwellings, Malamor being the capital of its dominion. The tranquil surface streamed passed at a fair pace, guided by the embankment on either side, the river flowing along with the ship. Other shadows lingered in the darkness against the black silhouette of the trees among the dark night’s sky. The shadows shifted, though could barely be seen save by a sharp pair of eyes. And even then it was difficult to glimpse them.

Footsteps could be heard on the deck of the Claret Lion, bare feet moving with a slow, weary step as though its owner were half asleep. They quite possibly were for it was well into the night, twilight’s hour lustrous up above the sails. Only two of the sails were drawn, if full. Sailors were always cautious during the night to keep the ship from running over shallows—which, to say the least, was dreadful. Those who were not walking about tried in vain to stand awake for their duration of watch; others were seated on coils of rope or against railings or perhaps beside stairwells to catch a rest before they were off and working again. Two men, in particular, had settled themselves on barrels across one another by candlelight, a low crude table established between them with makeshift cards in each work-worn hand with the addition of them scattered about the table.

“'nother bloody lonely night. . . Great,” one of the men grimaced wryly, or at least seemed to in the failing light. He had a gruff voice that had broken the somewhat foreboding silence, and was heavily laden with drowsiness.

“Yeah. Just such a poor land, this is, aye?” the other one began, his voice higher but with no less fatigue. “I can't wait to be on the docks of Adarman where I can finally settle down. With my pay of course, to begin a new life. No more of this. No. . . I can't bloody wait,” he finished, taking a glance from his cards to the table and then back again. He was known by the crew and captain alike as Bymal, one of the most skilled sailors they knew. He was a good friend of the captains. They commonly met and if he was awake now, he would be seated across from him, replacing his comrade here.

Though a loud splash hit the hull of the Claret Lion, little of the conscious paid any heed to it. Of course it turned some heads, but only one went over to inquires its cause. He quickly disappeared into the darkness, a splash carrying along soon after him. Now the men were interested, getting up to see if he really had fallen in.

Just as suddenly as an arrow hitting its target, a large band of men sprung from the darkness, sweeping over the decks. They held foreign sticks, slightly curved at the end where they were held and its small size was mainly wood. Elaborate iron embroidered the wooden shaft, but through its magnificence that could be perceived in the shrouding black, a blast came from it. The origin of the sudden blaze came from the tip and it died just as quickly as it fired. The shaft of wood seemed to have been aiming at Bymal’s friend beside him, but he now lay on the deck in a crumpled heap.

Bymal had no time to see if his friend was dead—no doubt he was. These were Sea Brigands and they had no mercy. Even though Bymal did not recognize the weapon, he had heard of them. They were called rifles, the word seemed unfamiliar to his tongue. And apparently, these rifles had variations because these men came with they all of different shapes and sizes. He did not know what they were exactly, but he knew he had to hide. Ducking in his position, he clambered along behind some timber crates while shots were ringing in the still air.

Just as he pulled himself behind, yet another of those rifles fired and soon thereafter, his leg erupted in a frenzy of agony. With a tight yelp, he pulled himself the last extent behind the wooden mass. Taking care to examine as little of the wound as possible, he ripped cloths from his shirtsleeves in short, stiff breaths, trying to stay aware. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, his bandages were done. He did not hear firing anymore, either they had retreated or the loud ringing in his ears was overwhelming him.

His head beat hard, and he inclined his neck so to hold his head to keep the throbbing back. Fast, exasperated pants left gritted teeth as he found holding his head did little. A sudden thought struck him. Or rather what had left his lips previously that night, ‘. . . cannot wait to be on the docks of Adarman where. . .’ so much for Adarman, was all he thought, for his vision began to blur and he felt the thump of nearing footfalls. His last view was the form he had looked up towards with a raised rifle toward his forehead. He did not even hear the discharge.

***

Awakening suddenly from a restless sleep, Mael Shahar’dorr jumped from his bed in nothing but his smallclothes that were matted to his large form. Going over to a basin, he poured it half full to run his head beneath it. After leaning on the oak for a moment, he finally realized that there were footsteps up above on deck.

Checking himself one last time, he pulled on some breeches and a jacket, opening the old, sorry excuse for a door that creaked as in dismay that it was not oiled. His rough feet brushed against the sturdy planks, making some sound though he paid little to no heed to it for he made out the shape of heads outside of their cabins.

“Captain,” one began, sounding very frantic. “We heard loud blasts up above. None have come down from the deck, though. What do you . . . ” Mael never let him finish for he was already midway toward the deck but he stopped short when hearing a small obstruction hit another beneath the floorboards.

Leaning down to brush some shallow dust, he fingered along and finally found a small notch in which to pull the secret slab open. The heads turning toward him looked worried but the little Mael could make out, he saw they wore small grins of relief. He nearly laughed. They were insane if they thought he was to let them follow him down to safety.

Struggling with his weight, he finally got down to the cargo floor, promptly landing on another floor of wood after shutting the hidden latch. He made sure to secure it just in case they did decide to follow him. Shuffling around, he searched the walls for another indentation where he could open for safety.

Not paying much attention to what he was doing, time flew passed and he had not a care in the world just as long as he was safe. The crevice he finally was searching for came to his pudgy fingertips and he wrenched the thing open.

A musty air filled his lungs as he seated himself comfortably as best he could and waited. Darkness took him once more and hours slipped by as though they were seconds.

He awoke and did not know how much time had slipped from him after sleep overtook him for there was no window to assist him. Slowly opening the thick hidden door, he made his way back up to that secret latch leading up to the hallway. After many unsettling moments, he finally crawled up on the upper landing. Once again securing the concealed slab, he made his way on deck, greeted by unrelenting morning sunlight.

Many of the sailors were sitting about, others mopping the deck that seemed to be soaked in a slight murky red. He stepped carefully, making way to the First Mate, Jahar. Mael didn’t even open his mouth before Jahar answered his questions.

“Captain, Sea Brigands boarded us in the night, carrying their calibers. They took men before we could counter. They couldn’t reload their weapons too quickly so we went by force. Also, they took some crates of what I believe is silk, ebony and some sugar.” Mael grimaced at that, for those traded for good gold. “What would you have us do, Captain?”

Mael stood there for a moment, stroking the little growth on his chubby face. Perhaps they could hunt these thieves down and take what was theirs. And possibly more. At night, would be best because they would be too drunk to stay alive. He didn’t know how they did it, but they drank insane amounts of alcohol and kept there mind together enough to think somewhat straight. But no. That would be too much of a risk for these men. They probably were more than a little tired. He peered around at them all. Revenge. That would be the primary drive to get these bastards back. Plus, if they docked at Adarman, their pay would be much less with those exotic trades.

“Men!” Mael called. “I know that we lost many, and you are more bloody tired, but I give you the choice. We can try and find these bastards who stole our goods, which would have sold for much, and pick up more on their ships. They're bound to have more stolen goods that they're barely floatin', but we can get back ours and more. Just sneak aboard during night,” at that, some men smiled, “'cause they are more drunk than sea is sodden, and we can take it. Have an even larger pay for yourselves. What do you say men?” Mael finished. His crew seemed to take it all in and think about it. “Or we could jus' bloody sail into Adarman with little trade and hide like bloody cowards for the rest of our lives.” This fixed the men’s faces, but Mael wasn’t positive they were all willing to plunder the plunderer.
Last edited by Meshalidar on Wed Feb 02, 2005 7:45 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Seclusion among the ferns of what seems like a mystical forest by flourishing elms and and oaks. Looking up at twilight's dwellings up above, where the stars sit on their perches to await dawn... That lunar crescent forever hangs there, just another star that seems so much closer, half covered by what you sit upon right then. That is a true paradise. Just to let yourself escape to those divine heavens...




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Wed Jan 19, 2005 7:54 am
randy says...



*"the river flowing along with the ship"

Saying "the ship flowing along with the river" might work a little better.

*"The shadows shifted, though could barely be seen save by a sharp pair of eyes. And even then it was difficult to glimpse them. "

I'd say, "The shadows shifted, although even the sharpest pair of eyes could barely glimpse them."

*"They quite possibly were for it was well into the night, twilight’s hour lustrous up above the sails."

I'd reword this. Seems a little rough.

*"which, to say the least, was dreadful." It should "were dreadful" methinks.

*“Another lonely night. . . How lonesome,” A little repetitive.

*"He was a good friend of the captains"

Should be "He was a good friend of the captain's"

*"Though a loud splash hit the hull of the Claret Lion, little of the conscious paid any heed to it."

Try to stay away from the word "though." Use "Although" instead. It tends to flow a lot better.

*"Just as suddenly as an arrow hitting its target'

Find a replacement for the word "suddenly." I like the simile here.

*"but through its magnificence that could be perceived in the shrouding black, a blast came from it."

This doesn't flow too well. You should definately try to rephrase this.

The second part is good, but I don't quite understand. It's hard to tell if it takes place on the ship at first. Also, the captain slept through the fight? Not a very good leader, if you ask me.

I love stories that take place at sea, and this story is an excellent example of what I like to see. You've got a great plot. One thing I think you could improve on is character development. You know you're good at this when someone remembers the character's name a couple days after they read the story. Also, try to stay away from the passive tense. It's bad stuff.

Awesome story, my friend. Good luck with this!
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Wed Jan 19, 2005 8:22 pm
Green Monkey says...



Ocean Stuff! Pirates! WOOOHOOOO!!!! :D IT'S A PIRATES LIFE FOR ME :D YO HO! I have to say you're writing is stunning! I am left in awe, with a feeling of dispair that my ocean setting story is dwarfed. :cry: :D :!:




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Wed Jan 26, 2005 7:38 pm
Kite says...



:) Hello, Mate! I really liked your story. It sure is fascinating and well wrote.

"Checking himself one last time, he pulled on some breeches and a jacket, opening the old, sorry excuse for a door that creaked as in dismay that it was not oiled."
^
As in dismay sounds kinda off.
It may be just me head, though. ;)




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Fri Jan 28, 2005 10:19 pm
Elizabeth says...



*Message deleted. Flaming is not tolerated on this board* - FS.




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Sat Jan 29, 2005 4:34 pm
Emma says...



HaHa. Your message got deleted! NIce story




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Mon Jan 31, 2005 1:58 am
Meshalidar says...



All the men stepped forward, coming to surround Mael. He had not expected this, but hoped for it to be an acceptance to him proposal. “Well. . . 'pparently you want yer pay. So, we must go quick. Not much be said. They're eight hours ahead of us,” the men nodded at this statement, for they knew he was correct. But they also knew that he was not exactly correct in saying this. They knew Mael to always state the worst, and in the event, Mael stated that they would be at most eight hours. No more would be possible.

Soon, the Claret Lion was sailing once more, the streaming ripples of the morning river reflected the bright pale sky that were blanketed in plump white clouds. Fish skidding though the men weren’t looking for fish. Enjoying the day was what they were doing. Watching the trees glide passed as if they were standing still and the entire world were revolving around them. Birds sang cheerfully, but not much else lived. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful day, and a wonderful day was the best thing for these men to lighten their spirits from last evening. Mael grinned in spite of himself.

Though most were having a nice mug of ale, a lot were keeping watch as well. They were looking for some sort of secret alcove or covered stream way. Mael had told them anything was possible. And he had also briefly described what they looked like so they knew what it was they were searching for.

The sun was well beyond noon-days mark, roughly late afternoon when the men caught the sight of a possible overcastting of brush. They had sailed through four villages in this search and this was the second time they spotted something suspicious. Just as before, Mael gathered his men and steered the shallow hull up close to the embankment.

“Captain, I hear shouts. I think its music,” the mast man called down, up there with three others.

“Right. Raise sails, drop portside anchor. We'll act quick, but we wait for the moon to be fully up. Men, prepare.”

***

The sun has long receded behind the tops of the trees when the men on the Claret Lion actually began to stir. They had waited all evening for this and Mael stood on the deck of his ship, hoping they were ready. He had previously looked in his shipment to see how much the Sea Brigands actually took and found they had only taken six containers and two barrels. The two barrels were of food, but Mael really did not pay any attention to that for this ship had already enough food.

The men were down on the soft emerald loam down near shrubs and tall trees. Mael had chosen to go with them, so he heaved himself over and landed with a small splash in the shallows after climbing down the thick brawny rope.

They went along, ducking low in the foliage and finally coming out into a clearing. The form of the bandit ship could only be distinguished against the night because of how dark it was. A moment’s hesitance was broken by Mael’s footstep on a stick that cracked softly.

They climbed aboard, not having to use rope since this had only its deck. The cargo was easy enough to find, but bodies lay scattered along its death black hull. The sailors stepped with caution, taking care to miss any of these treacherous thieves.

The freight was all found and the men soon hauling it off. Two men per crate was the easiest and went smoothly enough. Until two pairs of men were remaining, a man hadn’t watched his step and clambered over a sleeping mess. The stumbling man finally got his footing, pulling the crate quicker to make up the time, hoping that he had not waken the pile of rags.

To their horror, he did rouse, shifting about, but the men had no time to watch. They were trying to get off the ship as soon as possible. Just as the last pair was hauling the last of the cargo, which was actually one of the thieves’ treasure, the man looked towards them and yelled in anguish. He knew he couldn’t do it alone, so kicking awake his companion, they began waking everyone.

While there was a skirmish aboard that vessel, there was another one on the Claret Lion. Men were boarding and others were scrambling to set sail after they heard yells. The anchor was being raised and three men were still moving up the rope.

Mael wiped his brow with a neckerchief waiting with as much patience as he could and managed to keep things in order. When both men were on and sail was full, anchor was secure, they were casting off with still the yells of men in that small inlet.

***

With the dawning of the morning and the continuous sound of oar hitting paddle, Mael was in poor spirits. Though he knew the waters and the next bend would reveal Adarman, the Sea Brigands were very close to them. Little was done since taking back their cargo and taking more of theirs except anxiously try to make this large mass to move faster. Unfortunately, they could not, but the pirates chasing them could theirs. They had oars and sail, so they were gaining. Probably nearly touching the hull with their grimy hands.

Everyone had long ducked down. Three men were lost already because these vermin. They had surprised them, and Mael had been a fool to not think they would not fire. If anyone moved now, they would shoot at anything which was worth firing at. Mael waited.

Suddenly he got the idea just as they were rounding the bend right then and there. He whistled up to the mast man and began waving his hands in quick motions. He was finished as soon as began, but the mast man understood and took up the horn up there.

That horn was given to all captains to give to whom ever they desired, but it was basically a call for help. Mael had found it worked best up on the mast, and other captains agreed with him. Soon the blast of the horn was heard and Adarman was in view. Mael closed his eyes in the hiding position he was in. It rang and barely ceased except when the man up there had to take deep breathes.

Small ships were coming out now, though they were slow to come. Three and the third was a large vessel. Just as they came to be full in front of them, bangs against the hull were heard as the Sea Brigands made their way up onto the Claret Lion.

Mael prayed, and just as they swept across the deck before, they had done it again. This time, though, all the men hid because of Mael’s advice to not only stay low but also to shroud yourself in shadow so they would have to find you. As they began finding his men, Mael looked upon a glorious view of many men on a bordering ship, just coming to rest beside the Claret Lion, and these men not only also had rifles, but they knew how to reload well.

Two men died of Mael’s crew just then, but all the Sea Brigands had dies with them. Mael thanked them, giving them a full crate of the thieves treasure each.

And soon they were on the docks of Adarman, Mael thinking of how Bymal had always talked about this and leaving his ship. He didn’t know what he would do next, but first things first. He had to get his and his crew’s pay.
Last edited by Meshalidar on Wed Feb 02, 2005 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Seclusion among the ferns of what seems like a mystical forest by flourishing elms and and oaks. Looking up at twilight's dwellings up above, where the stars sit on their perches to await dawn... That lunar crescent forever hangs there, just another star that seems so much closer, half covered by what you sit upon right then. That is a true paradise. Just to let yourself escape to those divine heavens...




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Mon Jan 31, 2005 2:28 am
electricbluemonkey says...



*Stares in awe*...Its so...so...magnificent. So awe-inspiring..so, so...perfect.

Wow, just wow, that was a very, very good story. I loved it. The descriptions was just wow and the whole depth and story line was amazing. I can't wait to read more.
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Mon Jan 31, 2005 2:29 am
Ego says...



The Black Rose wrote:*Message deleted. Flaming is not tolerated on this board* - FS.


Nice catch fire starter

From what I read, Meshalidar, this looks to be awesome. Hopefully I'll get around to reading it more in depth sometime soon.




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Wed Feb 02, 2005 6:00 pm
Rei says...



I don't have time for a proper critique. But I did enjoy reading it. Your narrative created a good image in my mind, and I thought the tone was perfect. The pace was a bit slow, though. The dialogue kind of bugged me too. I am very picky about dialogue. It just didn't seem to have any personality to it.

One grammar nitpick: A rifle, they were called. Bettter to change it to "They were called rilfes." or "It was called a rilfe", or something like that.




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Fri Feb 04, 2005 1:39 pm
Meshalidar says...



Thank you all very kindly for your comments...

I really appriciate them and they have all been taken into account.

All have been used in modifying it, so, again thank you all.

May you have a very nice day...
Seclusion among the ferns of what seems like a mystical forest by flourishing elms and and oaks. Looking up at twilight's dwellings up above, where the stars sit on their perches to await dawn... That lunar crescent forever hangs there, just another star that seems so much closer, half covered by what you sit upon right then. That is a true paradise. Just to let yourself escape to those divine heavens...