16th and the day before the second week at school. I'm not fully over it but wen't to school and now feel worse. Can't win em all.
16th and the day before the second week at school. I'm not fully over it but wen't to school and now feel worse. Can't win em all.
16!!!! oh crap now I feel ancient - I'm more than twice your age. Damn one of my birthdays I ended up with alcoholic gastroenteritis for two weeks - thats poteen for you; marvelous stuff - rocket fuelOriginally Posted by zelda12
"When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer."
:irritating chime and crackling noise: This is a cross forum announcement :more crackling, a few popping noises:
A huge thanks to everyone who replied with their ideas; this has been literally invaluable.
I know that this web and installment based format is very far from ideal for spotting subtlties but, as someone on the other forums said, even published authors don't get to find out what their readers do and do not spot. In this the web does have an advantage over the printed book.
I know know what people spotted, what they didn't, what the most commonly spotted items were, what no one ever mentioned, how people think about the clues I have laid ... yes, now I have a much better idea of how to do subtle if I want it seen, and how to lay clues that will only become significant when the truth is revealed.
Now, I shall get on with the next part. Subtle should be a lot easier to write, and more successful from this point on.
:chime blasts peoples’ ears again, crackling and popping finally stops:
Don’t you just love PA systems?
For lack of anything better to do Fulk decided to wait where they’d left him; if he went back to the manor he would only end up polishing his helmet yet again while being studiously and maliciously ignored by the servants. “We seldom get what we want, instead we get what we need.”, how many times had he heard his mother say that? It had been her reason for everything, “We don’t want a bad harvest, but God has decided we need one.” Well, by that token some saint, angel, demon, or perhaps even God Himself had decided that Fulk really needed an eccentric, peevish princess in his life. He didn’t know whether to sit down and cry or to start hunting for the entity responsible so he could give them a piece of his mind along with several sharp kicks up the backside. He would point out between kicks that princesses and men at arms just did not happen, at least not without a hideous and gruesome end for the poor old man at arms, and frankly no one was worth that even if they did do a very nice line in adorable yet menacing glares.
“I had no choice!” Trempwick’s voice, just audible on the wind. Fulk’s head snapped up. He watched the tiny, distant figures as Eleanor and the spymaster talked for a short while longer, then the princess left; it looked as if she was running. The spymaster stood, then began to walk back to the manor house. After a few steps he stopped, paused for long minutes, then changed direction, heading back towards Fulk. Suspecting something was amiss Fulk went out to meet him.
“I will not ask if you saw,” Trempwick greeted him brusquely, “You are the lesser of two evils, the greater being leaving her alone. Find her.” When Fulk would have moved the spymaster grabbed him by the shoulder with a surprisingly strong grip, “So much as a single hair and they will be burying you in pieces, and by that point you will be glad to die.”
Fulk jerked his shoulder free, “Man of honour, remember? Or perhaps you’ve no idea what honour is, spymaster?”
“I serve the crown; I will not be judged by you or any.”
“Versatile excuse, now if you don’t mind…?” He began to walk swiftly away, heading back to the manor to get a horse to speed his search. The cynical voice in the back of his mind had been quiet for days; now it piped up with a simple question – if that’s his excuse what’s yours?
After going back to fetch a horse Fulk was almost disappointed to find her waiting where she’d left him in the field, making his effort a wasted one. There was some sense in that old tip about starting a search in the last place you’d seen the missing person, a pity he hadn’t thought of that before he got the horse – he could have just sat down on the ground and waited. Er, then again perhaps sitting in cold mud wasn’t the nicest idea.
Eleanor was currently engaged in being unconventional again; she was sat in the lower branches of a tree, her legs swinging in the breeze. As Fulk rode up she gave him a cheerful wave and dropped nimbly down to earth. “Took you long enough,” she scolded him, “Where is the point in my disposing of Trempwick for much of the day if you dawdle in getting back?”
“So your running off was staged?”
“Yes,” she lied trimly.
“That makes you a swift thinker, an astute planner, a superior tactician, outstanding actor, and perhaps even a mind reader,” said Fulk extravagantly.
“I cannot help my own brilliance,” returned Eleanor in a deadpan with just enough exaggeration to make it clear it was a joke.
“Modest too,” observed Fulk in a matching deadpan. Yet more lies; she always kept her mouth shut about the most interesting things. “So, plans for today now you have dumped your Trempwick?”
Eleanor growled in exasperation, “He is not my Trempwick. I know you have a thick skull and highly limited capacity for both thought and memory, but do try to keep that in mind.”
“As you command, princess gooseberry.”
“Small, green berry, extremely sour and not many people like them. You’re hardly sweet at the best of times; to me you’re anything but sweet.”
“Gooseberry,” repeated Eleanor sceptically. It did have a ring to it, but all the same [I]gooseberry[/]I?
“The small part suits you too,” said Fulk helpfully, “though not the green.”
“Gooseberry?” The more you said it the better it sounded, and if nothing else it was unusual.
Fulk patted his horse’s neck as the animal sidled restlessly, “So, as we were saying before your cruel, unprovoked attack on me, what now? It’s too damned cold to sit about on a horse discussing fruit.”
“We can remain here and continue our practise in peace. I honestly doubt we will get much of that until we leave here again; Trempwick will be … will be himself, and that is at best stifling and at worst extremely hazardous.”
They rode back to the manor aiming to arrive just as dinner was being served. As there was only the one horse Eleanor rode pillion, perched behind Fulk with her hands twisted through his belt. Alerted by the noise of their arrival Trempwick stood at the window in his study, watching them in stony silence with an inscrutable expression on his face. Unseen by either Fulk or Eleanor his hands gripped the windowsill so tightly his knuckles went white. As Fulk helped Eleanor down from the horse, as she dropped into his waiting arms, Trempwick’s finely manicured nails attempted to gouge marks into the solid timber.
He leaned his head out of the window, “Have a nice little day trip, did we, oh sweet Nell?”
Eleanor had been planning carefully for hours now, ever since she had departed the spymaster’s company. Defiance that quickly crumbled into resignation with a touch of crushed spirit would suit the situation best. It was precisely what he’d expect. “Yes, thank you, master.”
“I was concerned, my precious little Nell.”
“About me? You do surprise me.”
“If you had only said you wanted a walk, dear Nell, I would have been happy to take you on one. Perhaps tomorrow we can go for a nice stroll while your pet is with the tailor?”
Here we go, this was where he would begin to bite, “That is very kind of you, master.”
“Yes, I think thirty miles should stretch your legs, sweetest Nell. You will forgive me if I ride, won’t you? I am not as young and … vital as you, after all.”
Bow head, slump shoulders, bite lip slightly, now a touch of weariness to the voice and, “Yes, master. Thank you for your … consideration.” Now, is he fooled?
“Not at all, my dear, sweet Nell, I do enjoy your company. Perhaps we can go for another walk the day after tomorrow as well?”
Damn, he wasn’t fooled a bit. “As you wish, master.” Now that sounded better, but probably because there was less acting involved. She doubted they would end up travelling anywhere near thirty miles in two days, not in the winter mud and cold, but all the same she was going to be dragged along from dawn till dusk. At least Fulk was keeping out of the way as ordered; miracles will never cease.
“And Nell? My beautiful Nell? My cook is not sacked, nor is any of my staff. They remain, understood?”
“I do appreciate your taking an interest in running a household, but not mine. I have mine set up just as I like it, darling Nell, whether the cook can actually cook or no.” He gave Fulk a cheery wave, then pulled the shutters to.
Fulk leaned down and said quietly in her ear, “Happy little fellow, isn’t he?”
“Are you volunteering to go on that nice walk with me?”
“No, no, I wouldn’t dream of butting in between old friends,” said Fulk innocently.
“Bastard,” she said with quiet, but friendly, feeling.
Fulk just grinned and patted her on the shoulder. Together they went to investigate the ‘delights’ the cook had managed to create.
For the best part of three weeks Trempwick kept them apart, keeping Eleanor busy with anything that kept her away from Fulk and on under his supervision. Fulk was kept occupied for a few days by the tailor, measuring fitting and refitting his new clothes and a suit of royal livery.
Then in the beginning of the second week of December he suddenly stopped, all but disappearing into his study and never emerging into daylight. Eleanor and Fulk restarted their hand-to-hand combat training, working in the solar as the weather was terrible.
Finally, after vanishing for just over four days, Trempwick reappeared in the middle of one of their training sessions. The usually dapper spymaster looked dreadful, his eyes sunken with dark smudges beneath them as if he hadn’t slept in days, his clothing rumpled and unkempt, and his manner preoccupied. He watched them silently for around half an hour, before finally speaking, “How do you feel about treason, Nell?”
“I am a loyal servant of the crown,” she replied instantly, with the confidence born of long practise at making that particular line sound heartfelt.
“How do you feel about treason, Nell?” asked Trempwick again.
“I am a loyal servant of the crown,” she returned again exactly the same.
Trempwick scratched his chin, nails rasping over several days’ stubble, “I taught you that line well. The truth; how do you feel about treason, Nell?”
“I am a loyal servant of the crown,” she insisted again. Until she had some idea of why he was asking she would stick to her safe lie. This could be another of his games, or it could be something more sinister, a test of her loyalty by her much beloved regal parent.
“Pity.” He turned to leave.
“Wait,” called Eleanor, “What do you mean, ‘pity’?”
Trempwick halted but didn’t turn back, “To know is to become guilty by association; I do not like even mentioning this to you, it places you in a difficult position, and in danger.” He looked back over his shoulder and met her eyes, “I think you will want to know. It concerns your brothers.”
“Tell me,” she said simply. She hadn’t seen either of her brothers in two years, but if it came to family solidarity she knew who she’d rather side with when faced with a choice between them and her father.
“Not here,” he replied with a significant glance at Fulk, “Keep your pet well out of it until you know what you will be dragging him into. Guilt by association is enough to hang a man. My study.” He offered her his arm, with a quick instruction for Fulk to wait in her room Eleanor took it and left with the spymaster.
I feel that part needed more work; it has some very good bits but I don't think I've done it justice. I can't help it, not only am I busy but this particular part is the slack between one interesting bit and the next.
You realise that, in a way, the entity Fulk wants to kick is me?
MORE dont know which is better now this or red hand
What let you down on that bit was that it goes to quickly, it needs serious padding and polishing, more description, emotion and expretion, rather than plain speach.
Saying that, I think it;s a great story, and I know you know all this already. I'll keep eagerly awaiting more of it
I was trying to find some help in the anchient military journals of General Tacticus, who's intelligent campaigning had been so successful that he'd lent his very name to the detailed prosecution of martial endeavour, and had actually found a section headed "What To Do If One Army Occupies A Well-Fortified And Superior Ground And The Other Does Not", but since the first sentance read "Endeavour to be the one inside" I'd rather lost heart.
As I sit here on my deathbed, or so it seems to me, or to be precise death computer chair. I can't help but marvel at how good milady frogs writing is compared to mine. Then again a blind chimpanzee wit a stick and a keyboard could write better than I.
“John has decided,” said Trempwick as he sat down heavily on the only seat in his study, “that he would make a much better successor than Hugh, and a much better king than our much loved sovereign, king William, alias your kind, gentle, entirely sane father. He has seduced a few high ranking nobles to his cause, and enough miscellaneous others to cause trouble when he makes his move. He does not have enough to win quickly, or even to guarantee victory. I must report this; if I do not then my own head will roll, and England will be engulfed in civil war.”
Her reaction was instant and reflexive, “You are wrong! John is … he hates fighting, he finds administration tedious-”
Trempwick broke in, “And yet loves wealth, display, power and playing the diplomatic game. No, he is not an obviously ambitious man, but if he thought being king would amuse him he would chase it. Someone has been pouring poison in his ear; sadly my spies reported it too late for me to avert his folly.”
“What of Hugh? He is the crown prince.” ”And what of me?” added Eleanor silently. The answers were probably simple. Hugh would be imprisoned, murdered or exiled, and she would be neatly tied up as a reward to John’s most important, single supporter with no more say in her future than Hugh. And so that was that, the uncanny peace that had barely held the remnants of the family in England together had just shattered. Or had it? Perhaps Trempwick lied? She could not see why he would, what he stood to gain and he had never lied about anything important before. Eleanor vowed she would find the truth for herself, as long as there was even a tiny chance this was wrong then she wouldn’t have to watch her male relatives tear themselves to bits, waiting all but helplessly for the victor to decide her fate.
Trempwick spoke with uncharacteristic kindness, “Dear Nell, I am greatly heartened by your faith in my skills, but do you not think that information like that is hard to get for a simple spy? It would take someone close in his confidence, a highly placed person who was working for me-”
So that was it, he thought she was so much his creature she would go off and do his dirty work, dispatching a brother to please a father whose favour Trempwick needed as much as he needed air to breathe. “No! I will not help you betray-”
He pounded a fist into his open palm, “Be silent, damn you! Look at me,” he ordered, “Look me in the eye and say that again if you dare. Do not insult me, Nell, do not even consider insulting me. If nothing else credit me with enough intelligence to see that you would choose John over me, if only because extravagant Johnny never drowned Stephan. You’d do well to remember what John is, and what I am, remember who sat at your bedside when you were sick, and who used to sit on you.”
She was damned if she was going to apologise, even a fake apology.
Trempwick held the silence long enough to grind his point home then continued more compassionately, “I could do nothing about Stephan, but perhaps this brother I can return to you. Go, warn him to flee the country and take refuge abroad. This will make you a traitor as well, so know what you are risking, Eleanor. If you choose to travel this path I shall insist to my dying breath that you were there spying for me. I will insist you were betraying him, not saving him. That does leave you as an incompetent agent, and our monarch is already going to be in an unbelievable temper because of the magnitude of this; you know what that means.”
“I know,” confirmed Eleanor. It would mean another delightful parental meeting involving spilt blood, hers, of course, never his. “He will be furious anyway, and that means just the same.” A king cannot batter his vassals, his wife was dead, his two sons strong enough to defend themselves, and his other daughters safely abroad or deceased. That left Eleanor as the only legitimate, safe target for his wrath. Stripping castles and lands, and imposing hefty fines just didn’t have the same primal appeal as hitting someone, at least according to the wit and wisdom of his royal majesty, king William VI of England. In her more morbid moments Eleanor decided that her life was quite safe as long as her father had no other target to vent his rages on. On very rare occasions it made her almost glad the mother she had barely known was dead, but that was soon replaced by pity for what she must have suffered.
“And John must not know what you are; you cannot tell him that. You must find a way to warn without revealing yourself, or me.”
“I will go and make myself look very receptive to his plot; I can then point out a few flaws and persuade him he has been duped.” She said it with a confidence she did not feel.
“Yes,” Trempwick scratched at his stubble again, “that could work. Yes, indeed, let us plan, my valiant Nell, let us plan.”
Fulk on the edge of Eleanor’s bed, waiting and brooding, turning over possibilities and facts in his mind. What was the spymaster up to now? He’d kept his word and had a tailor make several changes of good clothes and a single suit of royal livery. Now that in itself was a puzzle. The livery was identical to any worn by a man in royal service, a red tunic with fashionably tight sleeves and tapered waist with white embroidery at the neck and hem to go with white hose and a white hood with shoulder cape trimmed in red, but there was no badge anywhere, no indication of which particular royal he served. He was supposed to wear it when Eleanor was in princess mode, but without the badge he’d look incomplete and artificial. The most straightforward answer to the lack of a badge was the most improbable; Eleanor had to have a symbol of some sort. If she didn’t have one then how was she supposed to mark out her servants and soldiers? She was noble; of course she had a personal badge. Perhaps it was Trempwick’s way of belittling him; he was in royal service but still not accepted as her man. He had decided to say nothing to any except Eleanor; he didn’t want to antagonise the spymaster too much.
Now that begged the question, why had he ever started antagonising the man in the first place? Again there were too many answers but no certain one. No, now he was lying to himself – there was only one answer and a simple one at that. He was doing it because he couldn’t stand seeing Trempwick trample all over Eleanor. It was part of his promise to protect her, a matter of honour, then. That lie held firm.
Failed. Fulk’s head dropped into his hands. His growing hair flopped forward to caress his hands, another gentle reminder of the truth. He had started growing his hair because of her and her comments, her disapproval prodding his own mild but apathetic dislike for his old cut. He was nearly committing suicide because he lov-liked her. He couldn’t bear seeing her trampled because he liked her. That entity had done a really good job on him, no matter how he fought it he lost. And she was the same, that was made it so much the worse. It is easier to keep control over yourself than over another, and now he worried what he would do if she ever broke their silence. How do you turn down a princess, tell her you want to live? Especially when that princess was so … lethally skilled. Accept, decline, whichever way he went he’d end up with sharp implements stuck in places that would make his eyes water; the only difference would be in who placed them there, Eleanor or Trempwick. No, that was a disservice to her; she wouldn’t do anything creative to him, but he would have to leave, and then …
It was a subdued Eleanor who returned to her room a couple of hours later. “He was right,” she told Fulk softly as she closed the door, “you are best off out of this.”
So that was the way of things, was it? Left out, left behind, and eventually thrown away. Not if he could help it, thanks. “If you’re going so am I. I swore ‘to follow and protect you for the rest of my life, through hellfire if need be’, or words to that effect.” Yes, he’d a promise to keep and that had nothing to do with certain fears of being killed, cast out homeless and jobless, or losing her. Certainly not the last, no, certainly not the last. Honour, that’s what it was.
“I cannot ask you to walk through hellfire for me.”
Coming from Eleanor with her precarious, dangerous life that meant a lot. Hellfire; something dangerous even by her standards. Whatever it was it was best avoided; maybe he could talk her out of it? “You promised me you’d not walk into hellfire,” he said, concern showing.
She smiled apologetically, “Then it appears I lied, for that is what I am to do. I will not change my mind.”
“Are you worth dying for?” asked the insidious voice of his conscience. No, he was not. It was the same answer as always, the same wrong answer. If he left her to face this hellfire, whatever it was, alone then he was even further from being worthy than he already was. And if he left her alone he might los-no, honour, pure honour. He would follow her to hell because he was a man of his word. “You might not ask, but you don’t need to,” insisted Fulk, “I’m going with you.”
“Walls have ears, we should move.” She snatched up her thick winter cloak from the chest where it was stored, “The tower top, no one can eavesdrop there.”
“If you come with me you will be involved in treason, and then in aiding a traitor’s escape.”
“I’ve already robbed an abbey, let my old lord’s murderer escape, aided and abetted said murderer, and upset the king’s spymaster. Any of those alone will get me swinging from a noose.” Actually he’d been trying not to think about that. “I’m going with you. My place is at your side.”
Eleanor’s heart skipped a beat; he would follow her even into treason. “If you insist on coming I suppose I can tolerate your existence.”
“And I suppose I can just about put up with you too, since it’s obligatory.”
Reality hit her like a punch; no, it wasn’t about her, most likely he was simply ensuring his job remained safe. No one would ever do anything so dangerous just for her, no one. She didn’t know why Trempwick so often gambled with his life on her behalf, but she was sure it had nothing to do with her, only some unknown benefit she could bring. He couldn’t have chosen his words better, the simple undiplomatic truth to knock her off that cloud she’d deluded herself onto. People only ever put up with her, nothing more.
Enough self-pity! She started to explain the necessary background as concisely as possible, “I have two surviving brothers, Hugh and John. Hugh is the heir; a typical second son boosted up to first place without the necessary foundation to carry the burden. Unlike Stephan he was not brought up to take the crown; he was already eleven when he became crown prince. He is competent at everything but excels at little, always struggling to fill our elder brother’s shoes and never quite managing. John is the third son, raised to have no ambitions aside from a minor dukedom somewhere. He is … petty, feckless, reckless, proud, so proud …”
One of the things she remembered best about John as a child was his stunningly bad performance in the martial arts; as a page he had been last in everything, beaten on the practise field by every other boy, even those years younger than him. The blow to his pride had been crushing, and he had set out to mend his ego in the only way he could think of, by defeating the only person he often saw who was weaker than himself – a certain girl four years younger than him with no martial training at all. Her. She could still vividly remember him and his ‘wrestling’ matches, how he’d lain in wait for her, then pitched her to the ground with no warning and pinned her down, his weight crushing her ribs so she could barely breathe, his face scant inches from her own as he crowed his victory. A page taking on a girl four years younger than him and counting the victory as glorious. It was the only way John ever saw triumph on the field.
Well, since her brother was notorious for being as martially skilled as the average carrot she would be the victor if he ever tried it again, thanks to the tricks she’d learned. She’d picked up a fear of being crushed because of him; maybe giving him a fear of short sisters would be equal exchange?
“And yet for all that his is intensely likeable; it will be good to see him, even under these circumstances. He loves to play the diplomat, the great host, and he is great company unless he decides to make you the target for one of his barbed jokes. Sadly he is rather naïve; he believes he wants to be king, he is making a bid for the crown. I think perhaps someone must have persuaded him to it. I am going to lie to him, let him bring me in on his plot, then warn him something is wrong and to flee before he is captured. If he stays he will be captured and imprisoned for the rest of his life; I cannot see Hugh forgiving the brother who tried to supplant him. We leave tomorrow. Trempwick has promised us seven days before he goes to the king, seven days to get to Bardney castle near Lincoln, and get him away to the nearest port.”
She turned away, resting her hands on the cold stone ramparts of the tower. “This is going to tear what is left of the family apart, and they will all hate me for my part. Hate for different reasons, but hate all the same.”
Fulk ached to put his arms around her, pull her close and comfort her, but that was impossible. He wished he could think of something to say, something he could offer to reassure but all he could find were lies, lies that everything would be all right when they plainly would not. He placed his hand on hers, curling his fingers around hers in a wordless gesture that said simply ‘I am here, you are not alone’. Not much, but all he could offer.
Eleanor looked at their clasped hands, then up at Fulk. Their eyes met and held, a quieter repeat of that earlier spark. Somehow it calmed her, made the knowledge that the family harmony had ended forever less overwhelming. She resolved not to question his gesture or what she saw in his eyes; she would not give it any significance or blight it with reality. It was best to leave it as something that simply was.
The gaze ended, not violently like last time, but peacefully, like something that had run its course and moved on. They both turned to looking out over the landscape, hands still joined.
Fulk remained up on the tower alone long after Eleanor got cold and went back inside; he claimed to find the cold snap in the air refreshing and he suspected she was accepted this pathetic excuse because she too had a yearning for solitude.
He noticed a single long, black hair clinging to his tunic sleeve. He picked it up and almost tenderly coiled it in a loop about his fingertip. It was long enough to wrap around seventeen times, forming a narrow, dark band. He ran his thumb over the hair, giving it the caress he had almost given to its owner. “So much as a single hair…” He smiled wistfully, unwrapped the hair and let it blow away on the breeze.
A semi-experimental piece. Not sure how it turned out; well I think ... mostly. Need to reflect and think on the finished article for a bit.
I'm not sure which is better either, caesar. Of course in my eyes it's EleanorII versus Red Hand II. I honestly couldn't choose a favourite, as I love them both for different aspects.
Sociopsychoactive, yup, spot on with what was lacking. I just didn't have the time or interest to try and bludgeon some feeling into that bit, not when I could work on this bit.
zelda, deathbed? The food poisoning got worse? Anyway you're wrong about the chimp with the stick and the keyboard - he'd need a computer too
Very well, froggy. I especially like this:Originally Posted by frogbeastegg
Great part. As to what Caesar said, I prefer this to Red Hand (at least Red Hand version1). Even though I haven't posted in this thread much (compared to Red Hand, anyway ), I'm still really enjoying this rewrite.Originally Posted by frogbeastegg
I would post some more things I liked or found interesting, but I'm only half way through Fitzjohn part 8, and it's a real toughie to write (lots of dialogue, and bits that I really need to get absolutely right, and bits that need the atmosphere to be spot on for the reader to give a flying one about what is actually a really important bit) and my wrists hurt from typing.
Yes, and he does have a computer but living in the rainforest doesn't have any electricity. Which proves my piont.Originally Posted by frogbeastegg
Froggy, I am stunned. That love scene is very well done .
I didn't participate in the subtlety debate because most of the subtlety is lost on me. I guess it is the language barrier: all kinds of nuances which you don't get to know unless you've talked English all your life. I can just give some general advice: in my experience people usually don’t notice the hidden elements of a character unless the writer emphasises them very strongly. Perhaps that is because in real life you don’t discover these things in one go; you notice them because they create a repeating pattern of behaviour. This is more difficult for a writer, who cannot follow his personages all the time and instead has to go for the highlights. There are a number of ways around this: emphasising it strongly, at the risk of overdoing it; or having one of your personages point it out (a favourite trick of mine). But the best way still is creating such a repeating pattern to show whatever your character is hiding.
For example: I could not see Eleanor's fear of being chrused. Yes, she reacted very strongly when Fulk landed on top of her, but she was already rather angry and I doubt any woman would be particulary comfortable in that situation. It is just one incident, it proves nothing.
As for the rest, I found the transition of Trempwick a surprise: he has been treating Eleanor as an unwilling puppet all along, and suddenly he appears to care for her. I certainly expected a bit more reaction to that than, ‘This was a side of Trempwick she didn’t know.’
I liked the ‘gooseberry scene’.
And the love scene: very, very good. The only thing that is lacking is the confusion love brings with it, the “What is happening to me?”-effect. It is a bit surprising that they both are so clear on their feelings, unless Fulk and Eleanor already have some experience in this department. But otherwise, very well done. The thought reading was well placed this time.
Lastly: don’t bother too much with the comments of this Arrogant Ashigaru. You are getting far too good for me .
Zelda, you don't write that bad. I have seen a lot worse, both here and on other forums. I think you would make a fine writer if you would just make your themes more mature (a bit like what you did in 'Evil Deeds'). You should be a bit more confident about yourself. Don't keep asking for approval for nobody is going to get ovations, not here or on any other site on the internet. And remember that the writer who thinks he cannot get better is a very bad writer indeed.Originally Posted by zelda12
Axeknight, I've actually had that bit written and on ice ever since Trempwick first said his "so much as a single hair" thing. Got to admit the writer in me rather likes it, even if the rest of the frog wants to clobber Fulk and tell him to stop being such a soppy twit.
zelda, my point was that the chimp would need a functional PC before he was better than you. Better hope he doesn't go to a zoo... Practise, that is the best advice I can give. It brought me a long way and will take me further still.
Ludens, Eleanor's fear of being crushed was pointed out boldly right when it first appeared, "The day had been trying enough without having to find excuses to avoid explaining why she had panicked. A fear of being crushed by some idiot climbing all over her was not the kind of thing she wanted to talk about, now or ever." The subtle is more ... how, why and wherefore, the effects and background, rather than the spotting. As you say the reaction was perfectly aceptable for any woman in the same situation, and that is ... kind of important.
Trempwick's transition is very carefully planned down to the last detail, as is her reaction.
Have they done this before? Ah, that would be telling. Fulk at least is hinting that maybe, just maybe he has. Ooh, mystery
Confusion? Well ... I'll say they have been in each other's constant company for nearly 3 months now. I don't think they are all that certain, except at specific moments like on that tower top. They know they have a spark, a base attraction if you will, but beyond that? Ah, I shall leave it to the story, it works better that way.
froggy conlusion on that bit: I like the love scene because it's very ... quiet and unassuming, and that only makes it seem more speical. Not so sure about Fulk's first lonesome scene, it kind of feels wrong somehow.
Bah, mature!Originally Posted by Ludens
Vive La Immaturity.
Evil Deeds Like most of my other stories has been put on the back burner although I like the premise and will go back to it eventually. Death in the shadows went to far but may eventualy find it's way back although I got to the point where there was no where to go. Which brings me to my major problem.
Planning is to me as peace is to George W bush Jr and senior.
My second is my grammar, or lack there of. And of course my complete ignorance to spelling.
Edit: Damn re-read ludens post and actually noticed Ludens insight to my attention seeking. Ah well. It's a learning curve.
As to my self doubt it is slightly inbuilt in my phyche. I know I can improve but my phyche does not which means I just have to try. Which I do try to.
So Ludens Thankyou for the insight.
Milady Frog, I do think that your style lends itself well to the underlying flow of a story.
Last edited by zelda12; 09-13-2004 at 18:31. Reason: Needs editing
They made ready to leave at dawn the next morning, travelling light and wearing old, indistinguishable clothes to match their workaday horses. It was best not to attract attention, and they were going to be on the road almost without break until they arrived in Bardney. Travel during winter was slow, very slow, and so they would have to push both themselves and their mounts to reach John in time. Assuming he hadn’t moved elsewhere, of course. Eleanor prayed he hadn’t, but she had little confidence; so many of her prayers went unanswered, why should this one be any different?
Just as before Trempwick had turned out to see her off. The spymaster was once again restored to his dapper self; a bath, shave and clean clothes had taken care of that. The dark rings about his eyes remained, and he viewed the world through half closed eyes he was that weary. Eleanor stood before him, waiting for him to speak, to raise the final matter that must be taken care of before she could leave. He didn’t; for once the spymaster kept his own council, almost as if he were reluctant to bring the subject up.
“Master?” she prompted, “There is but one thing remaining.”
Trempwick blinked sleepily at her, sombre and yet comical at the same time. “Are you sure about this, dear Nell?”
She was sure this last aspect of her disguise was one she didn’t want. She was sure she was going to curse this aspect for days. She was sure it would cause trouble with Fulk. She was sure it was going to hurt. She was certain, without reservation, that it was necessary. “Yes,” she said, relieved to find her voice steady and clear.
Trempwick sighed, “Nell … so be it.” He backhanded her across the face so hard her head snapped around and she staggered backwards even though she was braced for the blow.
Her hand flew to her face; slowly she straightened up. She would go to John claiming to have escaped and fled in fear of her life. She would turn up dressed in old, plain clothes patched and not quite fitting, travel stained and with a livid bruise where reason suggested there should be none; it was common knowledge the king was currently in Wales and no one else had the right to raise a hand to her. He would ask what had happened to her, she would spill a sob story and so make herself the ideal candidate to bring to his conspiracy.
Trempwick carefully but insistently pulled her hand away so he could inspect the damage. He brushed a cool finger over the crimson mark, inspecting the damage he had caused. His gesture was almost caring. Eleanor longed to slap his hand away, longed to pull her other hand free of his light grip. She had learned two unexpected things this morning. Firstly, that for all his protestations that he preferred subtle methods to violence, and his scorn for those who used brute strength to force a way, the spymaster could hit harder than the king. Secondly, that somehow having him holding her hand, just as Fulk had done, was an entirely different and distasteful experience.
Trempwick must have sensed her discomfort because he dropped his hands back to his sides and said simply, “If you do not come back I shall be quite broken-hearted, dear Nell.”
He sounded sincere enough, and that in itself was quite rare, combined with this particular sentiment, anyway. Eleanor dismissed it with barely a thought, a spymaster worried he might lose one of his more useful tools. She was eager to be on her way, and for once Trempwick allowed her to have her own way. Just minutes later she and Fulk were riding out the gate.
Several miles out from the manor and Eleanor’s face was throbbing slightly out of time with the beat of her horse’s hooves. Delightful, it hurt once in time with her heartbeat, then again as she was jolted by the animal. Fulk was proving to be a magnificent diversion, she thought cuttingly, sat there on his horse silent as a graveyard and apparently doing his best to ignore her. What a sparkling conversationalist he could be, truly stunning, and so good at distracting her from her cares too. Well, she allowed generously, he had been hired as a bodyguard rather than companion, so perhaps he did have some excuse to sit there brooding away.
Two could play at that game; Eleanor dived deep into her own thoughts, away from the ache of her cheek, leaving her horse to find its own way along the road and Fulk to keep watch for bandits. First topic for analysis: Trempwick’s latest. Not his declaration that he’d miss her if she didn’t return, that was simple and already explained. No, the force of that slap. A bruise, that was all that was required, one that was recent and visible, nothing more. So why hit so hard? Was he proving his strength? But why would he do that? To prove there was more to him than his mind, that he was able to fight and had the strength that came from training? That suggested, then, that he had been training with weapons for years, and yet she had never seen him doing so. Maybe that was the message? That he did many things she had no inkling of.
Or maybe it was the release of over a decade’s frustration? But again, why? He could have hit her any time he liked, right from the moment she left the palace with him, and he had always shown nothing but disgust for violence.
Her brows locked together and she absently chewed her lip. There was another possibility: Fulk. A way to get at him. A way to prove how helpless the man at arms was to keep his oath, the oath he had made much of, when Trempwick decided otherwise. It would be days, weeks probably before the mark faded entirely, and for all the time it was there every time Fulk looked at her he’d see how helpless he was. More than that, it proved to her how useless Fulk was. It was underhanded, sneaky, petty, vengeful, in short it was Trempwick to a t.
The next thought hit her like a thunderbolt; Fulk, yes, but perhaps not for that reason. The Spymaster knew that if she got hurt Fulk tended it; he had to know Fulk would insist on doing something with this latest injury. So that meant …. Trempwick was pushing them together? Tending injuries created a bond just as surely as fighting side-by-side, or relying on each other for survival. She wished she had known that months ago when she agreed to let him look at her back; if she had known then what she knew now she would have refused his help, just as she was going to refuse his help now.
For a second she held the idea, in awe. Then she discarded it; Trempwick would never push his precious tool at a man he considered useless and pointless. Not only that but Fulk was so far beneath her rank she could barely see him if she looked down. While it was just ever so slightly possible that Trempwick had her happiness in mind somehow she doubted happiness had anything much to do with a broken nose. Even if it was sort of fetching. Besides, she had declared, repeatedly and whole-heartedly, that she was going to stamp out that spark, so why would he try to fan it into a blaze? Especially when he had done his best to break them apart to ensure this spark had no chance to grow … at least that is what she remembered. She hadn’t been paying too much attention to Trempwick during that conversation; she had been far too preoccupied with her own troubles to pay him much heed. She nearly laughed aloud at her own folly in entertaining the idea, even for a split second.
Her train of thought took a different turn, an unconscious one. Why the difference between Fulk touching her hand and Trempwick? And Aidney too, for that matter. One had made her scour her hands until her flesh was raw, one made her distinctly uncomfortable, the other made her feel so … peaceful. The moment he had touched her hand the muddle of worries, concerns, suspicions, doubts, and fears that constantly fought for supremacy in her mind had receded, their clamour stilling. When she had met his eye they had cleared away like clouds before the sun, leaving nothing behind but a calming peace, something so rare she couldn’t even remember experiencing it before. She had to admit there were certain disadvantages to being cut off from the usual chain of gossip you encountered if you had female companionship of some sort. If she could swallow the humiliation and brave the embarrassment she could have asked, she could have asked thousands of questions. Why the difference? Why did she find the damned nose fetching when she still hadn’t the slightest interest in looks? Why did this accursed spark grow even as she tried to stamp it out? Why did the small potential they had inadvertently found both horrify her and make her giddy with delight? Why-
Something tickled at the edge of her awareness; Fulk had spoken to her. She roused herself and asked, “Pardon?”
“I said, why does my livery have no badge? I’ve been thinking on it all morning.”
“It has no badge because I have no badge,” she replied, her manner brisk, “A badge would imply that someone cared sufficiently about me to give me one, and that I had some hope of ever having a use for one.”
“You do have a use,” he said quietly, “me.”
“One man at arms does not a rich noble make, nor a badge deserve. To have a use I would need several people at the very least, and I shall never have that.” They lapsed back into silence, this time a somewhat colder and less friendly one.
That second scene was not planned, it just wrote itself inside of 30 seconds when I read Luden's comment "The only thing that is lacking is the confusion love brings with it". It leads in very nicely to all the stuff I had already planned, and begins the process of growing the foundations I have already laid. I didn't have time it write it down until now, so here it is.
Very good. Nice use of similes and metaphors to show her love. Although I did think it went on a bit towards the end of her meditations on how he made her feel. Still Very good.
After two and a half days of near constant riding they finally arrived at the great stone gates of Bardney. The gate guard took one look at them and warily offered shelter for the night in a corner of the great hall.
“We are here to see lord John,” said Eleanor, her upper class accent in startling contrast to her dirty, forgettable appearance.
“He won’t see you,” insisted the soldier bluntly.
“Oh yes he will – tell him his sister has arrived and is seeking refuge.”
“Sister? Which one?”
“The only one currently in England you stupid oaf - Eleanor!” She added so quietly even Fulk had to strain to hear, “The one everyone always forgets.”
She could hear the guard’s mind working; should he turn them away or not? If he did and she was a princess then he’d be in trouble, but if she were lying he would be in trouble if he let them in. Pass the problem, yes, let someone else take responsibility. He scuttled off to consult the captain of the watch.
With a lot more finagling and a chain of buck passing that eventually reached John, they were admitted to the castle and lead up to the spacious, generously furnished solar where John waited. They took Fulk’s sword before they were allowed through the door, doubtless they would have disarmed Eleanor too if they had known about her knives. By the decoratively carved fireplace a shortish, lanky man sat with one leg hooked over the arm of his chair, his posture relaxed to the point where he appeared nearly boneless. He was idly swinging the hanging leg. He was dressed in exquisite finery, as befitted a prince and second in line to the throne of the English empire, everything perfectly tailored to show his body off to best advantage. He hair was an odd cross between brown and gold and he had a short beard trimmed to hug his jaw line.
“My little sister,” exclaimed John, a broad smile splitting his face the instant Eleanor stepped through the door. He bounded to his feet, rushed over and grabbed her in an enthusiastic hug, “When the guard said a mud splattered woman with a furious bruise on her face and dishevelled hair had turned up claiming to be you I did not doubt it for a second.” He held her back at arms length and inspected her closely, “What in God’s name happened to you?”
Eleanor eased free of his embrace and began fiddling with the ring Fulk had brought her, the wedding ring she always wore on her right hand instead of the left, making it no more than another ordinary ring unless she chose to swap it to the other hand. She took a deep breath, her nervousness only partially faked. “I escaped,” she said simply.
A servant unobtrusively delivered a tray of wine with a single goblet; John must have ordered it before they arrived. He commanded the servant to fetch two more goblets and a larger jug, then poured wine and gave it to Eleanor. She made her hand tremble slightly as she took it, then sipped anxiously before taking a huge gulp that drained half the contents. John steered her towards a fireside chair, then after a moments thought weaved Fulk to another chair.
“Escaped?” repeated John, refilling her goblet to the brim, “I did not quite believe father when he said that you had turned into a pious thing.”
Eleanor snorted, “I suppose he would not be very forthcoming with the truth; I have been a virtual prisoner in a pokey little manor in Woburn. I have no money, no lands, no prospects and I have to suffer our regal parent’s company rather too frequently for my tastes. I am his favourite outlet for his tempers.”
“Who hit you? Not father; he has been gone for several weeks now.”
“The ‘caretaker’ assigned to keep me in place, a minor nothing by the name of Trempwick. I tried to sack the cook; taking anything into my own hands is not appreciated.”
“Trempwick?” John began to toy with the fancy dagger at his belt, “Do you know his first name?”
“Raoul, of all things. Sir Raoul Trempwick, dunghill cock with delusions of being a dragon.”
“Yes, I know the man. I think I shall have a word with him about manners.” The offer was quite sweet really, but if Eleanor ever wanted a brother to beat someone up John would be her last choice. The brother was not supposed to be the one who ended up in a crumbled heap.
She was surprised John knew Trempwick; she had always thought him one of those grey figures that barely anyone knew, heard of occasionally, yes, but never saw. He did spend almost all his time with her in Woburn, and had done so for over a decade. “How do you know him? He is seldom away, leaving would force him to miss precious opportunities to belittle me.”
“I saw him at court once, during your last visit.”
“That was years ago,” said Eleanor, plainly surprised he had remembered.
John laughed self-indulgently, “I do try to keep abreast of matters, and my memory for faces has always been good. Besides, you were that and that makes the occasion all the more memorable. Your presence makes any occasion worth engraving into memory and holding precious until the end of my days.”
She eyed him with amusement, “Still the courtier, I see.”
“You wound me, dear sister! I am entirely sincere,” he protested just as the servant returned with the extra goblets. John clicked his fingers and the servant hurried to his side after laying down his burden. “Prepare the guest chamber for my sister and organise a bath for her and her …” he looked to Fulk, “Just what are you anyway?”
“He is my bodyguard, he will sleep outside my door,” Eleanor supplied.
John nodded, “Prepare a bath for both of them and a pallet for the bodyguard outside my sister’s door. Food too, and clothes. For the man we should have a livery that will fit well enough, for my sister you will have to alter clothes. Tell the seamstresses to work from Judith’s clothes; the green ensemble, I think. Send them up to the guest chamber; they can measure my sister when we have finished talking. Tell them I want the work finished as soon as possible; they can improve now and finalise the work while she sleeps.”
“Sir,” the servant bowed, “The lady Judith might-”
“Tell her I will explain later.” The rings on his fingers flashed as he waved the servant away. He gave Eleanor a sheepish smile, “I would introduce you to Judith but she is not yet much for noble company.” The smile gathered a rakish quality, “well, except for my company. The merchant’s accent only shows when she speaks.”
“So your wife is not in residence then?” she asked, hating how clueless she sounded. Of course she wasn’t, only an addled fool would expected to find wife and mistress under the same roof, but she had to know where this wife was stashed.
John filled his own goblet and tossed the wine down in one go, “No, she’s off in my Welsh lands with our daughter. I could use a son, but at the same time I have never been one for hard work. Wales is nice this time of year; I believe she’s quite happy there.”
Nice? It was a snowbound hell. Her absence made Eleanor’s task more difficult; John’s family would be arrested on his downfall, they needed to flee the country with him. She knew nothing about John’s wife; what had the poor thing done to end up in Wales? “I do not think they even told me her name.”
“Sophie; bland, boring little Sophie. So eager to please she makes me sick, and so very unable to please where it counts. You know I do believe she would leap from a cliff if I asked her to, she is that eager. How dreadfully tedious. I tried encouraging her to be livelier, but she is so firmly settled into boring it would take more energy than I can be bothered to expend to drag her out. I would far rather she stopped hanging off my every word. She is about as challenging as an omelette.”
Unable to think of any suitable response Eleanor kept quiet. Another reminder of why marriage was so unappealing; she did not want to be shunted to one side and humiliated by an unfaithful husband. She already knew much of the long litany of complaints she would inevitably cause; she had been hearing them for most of her life. She had never been able to decide which was the worse; having to suffer the attentions of someone you didn’t want, someone you know felt exactly the same about you, or being dumped by that exact same disinterested party.
John stood up, stretching like a cat. “My manners are dreadful, I do apologise, keeping you here listening to my woes when I should be ushering you off to a hot bath, clean clothes and good food. We will talk more later over dinner; I shall have it served here in the solar so we may talk in private.”
Short part because I'm trying to decide whether to include a scene in the next part or to cut it completely. If it goes in then the lead in dialogue is needed, if not then the lead in will just confuse.
Yes, I agree with you about the end of that last bit, zelda. It goes on too much. Next time I think I know enough to get it right...
wonderful additions, milady. please continue.
the dialogue isn't bad at all. nice way to work in a lot of details. The parts about John's ineptitude as a page adds character and familiarity.
this is far better than the original.
Washed and dressed in royal livery, with John’s badge of a standing deer removed, that was a tolerable fit Fulk rejoined John in the solar. He was surprised when he was not asked to surrender his sword at the door this time. John had evidently expected this because he explained as he handed Fulk a goblet of wine and ushered him to a seat, “I will not indulge my ego and assume that you have any reason to do away with me, anyhow you look more than capable of dispatching me without a sword.”
Fulk understood what Eleanor had meant when she said her brother was likeable; here he was being waited on by a prince, flattered and joked with, and trusted immediately.
John dropped into his own chair and sipped his wine, “I doubt we shall have to wait too long; if Eleanor is the same as she always was she will refuse much of the pampering that the ladies will try to inflict on her. The clothes will take longer, but there is nothing like having my sister stood by tapping her foot impatiently and glaring at you to lend speed.”
Fulk only made a perfunctory reply and drank his wine; while the prince was spot on with his description gossiping about Eleanor was hardly chivalrous. That made him smile into his wine as he drank; the chivalrous had added itself with no whinging little voice. A rare and pleasant happening; perhaps this forging of lead into gold could work after all.
Ever so subtly John turned the conversation, continuing along the same line but changing direction to end Fulk’s discomfort, “You know she was always my favourite sister? The others were always entirely too proper, though it appears Adele changed her habits once she left these shores. Nasty foreign influence leading her astray, or so our father would claim. So, you are Eleanor’s bodyguard? Given the life she just described I would be interested in hearing how you met.”
Fortunately they had discussed this one beforehand. Fulk deployed his ready-made explanation, careful to make it sound natural rather than rehearsed, “It wasn’t long ago, not even half a year. I was hired by Trempwick but I swore my oath to her; I’m a man of my word. They might have called me her bodyguard but I think they really wanted someone to gain her trust then report what she said. We planned a bit, I lulled them into a false sense of security, then off we went at the first available opportunity.”
“Career before then?” asked John
“Squire to my father till his death, man at arms in the French war, I was in a few skirmishes but nothing too much, a spot of body guarding out in France, then finally back here.”
“Mind if I ask for a demonstration against one of my people tomorrow?” John laughed dryly, “I am curious and a little bored. My dear sister once told me a dead mule could outfight me, and as ever she was right, but I do appreciate a good display of skill.”
Fulk shrugged, “If you like.” This conversation was beginning to sound like the lead-in to a subtle recruitment offer. John refilled Fulk’s goblet; the prince seemed to take his responsibilities as a host very seriously when it came to wine. Fulk gazed into the deep red depths; more unwatered, strong wine, and the goblets were quite large. John might be serious but he had very little clue on what was suitable; at this rate he’d end up drunk before Eleanor even arrived.
“It’s good stuff, no?” asked John, knocking back his own refill and reaching for a third. The wine had blunted the edge on his clear-cut accent, “I import from all over at great expense, this particular one’s from southern France.”
So, while Eleanor was penniless, working as an agent in exchange for her survival this prince was living in the lap of luxury. This prince had everything Fulk had expected Eleanor to possess when he first encountered her in Nantes. He was irate on her behalf; if he had ever doubted that her father didn’t care the slightest bit about her the proof was being paraded before his face in the form of wine, jewels, fancy furnishings – the solar even had carpets on the walls! This was the life he had been expecting to come to! Internally Fulk flinched, scrambling away from those thoughts. He hadn’t wanted riches, not at all; he hadn’t followed her because of a life of pampered comfort. Honour, his mind wailed desperately, honour. He gulped at his wine, trying to drown the tru-the lie, the mocking voice of his conscience and its insidious suggestion that honour had nothing to do with it.
He noticed John was peering at him. “Is something wrong?” he asked.
Fulk shook his head and replied weakly, “I was thinking of the contrast, what you’ve got to what she had.”
“Yes,” agreed John darkly, “this is the life she should have had. She will have her due when I …” he laughed and made a dismissive gesture with his hand, “But don’t pay attention to my ramblings, and let’s not sink into gloom. Today is a good day; I got my little sister back and that’ll only help me.” More wine vanished down his gullet, immediately he was refilling his goblet and topping up Fulk’s.
This prince was an incompetent plotter, Fulk decided with mild disgust. Twice in but one brief conversation with a near total stranger he’d nearly given his aims away. What kind of a king would this indulgent man make? John had started talking genially about how sumptuous their meal was going to be; Fulk listened with only one ear. Unless he was hiding his light under a bushel John didn’t possess even a tenth of Eleanor’s intelligence or flare for intrigue, he would be useless on the battlefield, and Fulk had serious doubts as to this man’s ability to keep powerful vassals in line.
Finally, Eleanor appeared; she breezed into the room and sat down without comment. John placed his goblet on the ground, rose and pulled her to her feet, “Come on then, let’s see what my people managed to do.” He carefully arranged her, pushing her to stand where the light was best, then placing her arms at her sides, and tutting at her if she tried to move to break the pose. After a brief scuffle she gave up and stood awkwardly for their examination. John’s face split into a big smile, “Much better, now give us a twirl.”
She complied, obviously unhappy with the fuss. She was dressed in the height of fashion, wearing a green sleeveless surcoat over a dress in pale green with buttons on the lower arm to bring the sleeves tight. A pale blue linen shift was just visible peeking out at the neckline. Her hair had been sorted into a fairly simple style by some maid. It was already trying to escape, with some good success too. Fulk supposed she had allowed them to play with her hair so she would have somewhere to stash hairpins, since the clothes didn’t permit her usual knives. The seamstresses had known their work well; it suited her. A pity, then, that she didn’t quite look herself. The animation, the life was missing, the gooseberry replaced by a subdued stranger whose body language spoke of … he wasn’t sure, but the fight was missing from her, the defiance too. What had happened since he last saw her?
“Gooseberry green,” commented Fulk apparently innocently, “nice.” That won him a small frown; now that was more like it.
“Eleanor, you do look quite beautiful,” said John with a courtier’s practised gallantry, only partly ruined by his wine induced slur.
That won John a far bigger frown than Fulk had got, one without the affable feeling of a shared joke that was going to get someone kicked later. “You do!” he insisted. He turned to Fulk, “Perhaps a second opinion?”
“He’s right,” lied Fulk. They wouldn’t have liked the honest answer; that the word was ‘pretty’ and the pinned up hair and her lack of animation ruined it.
She looked no happier, if anything his compliment only made her shrink further into herself. She didn’t protest his opinion; carefully keeping her face neutral as she returned to the seat she had been prised from. As she walked past Fulk caught a waft of perfume, rose with something elusive. Quite subtle, most nobles would turn their noses up at it; the fashion ran to something that smelt both expensive and noticeable. He found it pleasant; it was much better than being stunned at fifty paces by some eye watering concoction. If he’d ever said that to Maud she’d have tried to brain him with a skillet then lectured him on the importance of trying to improve oneself; Eleanor, on the other hand, would probably laugh and agree with him.
John finished his current drink – his fourth – and wandered off to find a servant to tell the kitchens to begin sending the food up. Fulk took advantage of his absence to lean across and quietly ask Eleanor, “What’s wrong?”
“Why would anything be wrong?” she replied evasively, her tone as spiritless as the rest of her. He had no opportunity to chase the matter; John was on his way back.
What was wrong? Was the man dense or just particularly heedless? Ah yes, she told herself acrimoniously, she was supposed to swallow their lies and laugh along at their joke because otherwise she spoiled their fun and cast a cloud over the occasion. She should be a good victim and rejoice that they were having fun at her expense. She had endured the maid’s giggling as they dished out their pretty little compliments, she had pretended to be deaf to their snide comments when they thought her out of earshot, and now she had the privilege of John and Fulk sniping away. Her brother and her bodyguard; she had suffered to keep one alive and was going to suffer for the other, and this was their gratitude. Where was the bloody point?
“Eleanor?” inquired John’s voice. She looked up, “Don’t look so sad, little sister, it spoils your looks.”
Beneath the table she clenched her fists as she battled the wave of icy fury. How could she spoil what did not exist? She forced a smile that was part snarl.
“Is something wrong?” asked John, his voice heavy with concern.
Wrong? Jesú, but John was a moron! Of course, she was supposed to laugh and produce a pretty smile – well sod that! She could feel her temper fraying away, getting dangerously close to breaking point. She forced herself to take a deep breath; she would not demonstrate her most dubious family trait. The rage receded, settling into ice. She needed to get in on John’s stupid little plot so she could dispatch him off to his safe haven, leaving her behind to take the brunt of the fall out. In that cold moment of clarity she saw how. She lost her temper.
“Wrong?” she snarled, “Wrong? You sit here like a bloated arse in your luxurious castle, one of your many castles you fat bastard, and you ask me what’s wrong?! You clueless, idiotic, self-indulgent, blind fool! You have been sat here in the lap of luxury while I rot in a backwater nothing, tormented and forgotten with no life, no future, no nothing! I have had nothing!” She leapt up from her chair and kicked it viciously. Dimly she was aware of hurting her foot but she didn’t care. When it didn’t fall over she booted it again and again in a frenzy until it toppled. The tiny sane part of her mind still left observed “Like father, like daughter.” She didn’t appreciate that much; it was far too accurate. She was even beginning to swear like him.
Her eyes lit on a bowl of fruit, oranges imported from abroad at enormous expense. She stormed over, grabbed one and brandished it at her astonished audience, “Look at this – oranges! You have bloody oranges!? This one damned fruit is worth more than me!” She hurled it at John with all her strength; it exploded across his chest, spattering his fancy clothes with its sticky juice. “You have money to waste on bloody oranges while I’ve had to beg for every little scrap from a jumped up nothing who has made my life a living hell!”
“It’s not my fault!” protested John, “Father-”
“Don’t mention that prick to me – given the chance I would gladly kill him for what he’s done to me!” Would she? Probably not, but by God it felt good to say it. She hurled another orange at her brother, hitting him again. “The only thing he’s ever given me are scars – I’ve more scars than I’ll ever be able to count, I’m covered in the damned things! He farted away everything I owned on his God damned war and he couldn’t even hold the lands he took with my money – my future!”
“You know half the castle can hear this?” observed the sane part of her mind. She paused; embarrassed that she had lost control so badly.
John took advantage of his unexpected lull to plead, “Calm down, Eleanor, please? I’ve got a plan; I think you are well suited to be part of it but you must calm down. I can’t have it shouted across half the country.”
Mission accomplished; she could stop now. But why? This was so … fun, speaking her mind for once, being the cause of the storm instead of on the receiving end. Now she understood what her father saw in … the words went cold through her, dimming the fire. He wouldn’t stop now, no, he would keep going until he had drained every last drop of bile. Did she want to end up like him? Never; she was mortified she had gone this far. Her fury fled, leaving her feeling weak and empty. Suddenly she was aware that her foot felt broken and her arm and shoulder muscles were pulled because she had thrown those oranges with so much ill-considered force. Her throat was sore too, from all that shouting.
Fulk was staring at her, tight jawed, his expression unfathomable. The instant their eyes met he looked away. She felt herself blush and sank deeper into her shame; now he must think her some kind of lunatic. One little joke and she exploded, railing away about a life that was still better than the average peasant’s. No, it wasn’t one little joke. Yes it was. No, from anyone else it would have been little, but from him? No, not little, it should be but for some reason it wasn’t. She realised she was still stood near the fruit bowl with an orange in her hand, ready to throw. She put it down gently then returned to her chair, righted it and sank down into it.
John seemed to think it best to act as if nothing had happened. He said genteelly, “I have sent a few chaps to seek out this Raoul Trempwick and have a short word with him about decency.”
Eleanor mumbled some bland thanks. So, he had got someone else to do his dirty work; nothing new there. Trempwick was going to be so happy when a bunch of goons turned up on his doorstep with cudgels to batter him at John’s behest on her behalf. She didn’t think for a second the hired men would even get within spitting distance of the manor before they were intercepted and dispatched, but she was not looking forward to explaining this when she got back.
“I do not believe in fighting myself,” John was saying as it were all some great lark, “Why risk a bloody nose when I can let another much better able to handle it take my part? Fighting is so passé.”
“If you were ever to become king then you would have to lead your armies,” said Eleanor neutrally, probing for information and letting him know she could see him as a king. She couldn’t really; sticking John on the throne would be a disaster.
John made a dismissive noise, “I will let some other lead; battle is wearisome and boring, also a waste of money better spent on the finer aspects of life.”
I will? The daft fool! Lured into stating his attentions so easily without even noticing! The more time she spent with her brother the more apparent his inabilities became; this man would only make a king if he had a strong puppet master at his shoulder. Someone had out him up to this, but whom? Perhaps there was a way to find out, if she could find whom he had bartered her off to then she would have the name of his most influential supporter.
A parade of servants appeared, bearing trays with their food on it. Eleanor took a cursory glance, catalogued the display as ‘expensive and rich’ then turned her attention away. She would let John babble away, carrying much of the conversation; she was too drained, too humiliated to put much effort in.
John scooped up the last of his spiced jugged hare and started regaling the party with memories of Eleanor as a little girl. He was the only one showing any enthusiasm for either food or chatter, but that didn’t limit him. “I recall when she could barely say her own name; you always got confused by Nell and Eleanor, didn’t you, Nelleanor.”
Eleanor gazed sightlessly at her barely touched portion of hare, studying Fulk from beneath her lashes as she put all her remaining energy into her answer. “I also remember that I called you bother instead of brother; how right I was.” More right than John would ever know. Fulk didn’t look up, didn’t laugh, didn’t attempt to put in a shot of his own. He just poked at a bit of monkfish with his knife. It was the liveliest thing he had done all evening.
John paused, looking from her to Fulk and back again. He seemed to come to a decision; he took a sip of wine and asked Fulk, “So, care to give us a tale from your time in France?”
Fulk looked up, once again ignoring her as if he and John were alone in the room. “I’ve not got any good ones.”
“That does surprise me,” said Eleanor with some of her old bite, “you have a story for everything else, including puce knights and dragons beset by damsels.” He ignored her. Stung Eleanor looked down at her trencher. She didn’t understand it; first he joined her brother in ridiculing her, now she might as well not exist. Until today he’d been friendly. It hurt, a fact that infuriated her. She should have known better; he was following her for money and now perhaps he saw a way to better his lot by switching allegiance to her brother. Even in exile John would be more than she ever would. She knew her small, muddled attraction wasn’t returned; she had resolutely put it from her mind and expected nothing at all. She didn’t even want the damned attraction, so why did she feel so wretched now he confirmed what she had always known? She should have listened to Trempwick; he was always right.
John stepped into the gap, “Tell us of one of your battles.”
“Only one where anything much happened,” hedged Fulk gruffly, “and I’ve not the best of memories of it; I was wounded early on.”
“Tell it anyway,” insisted John congenially, reaching for a potion of fish.
“As your highness wishes,” said Fulk dully, “It was in France some years ago; I was squire to my father, Sir William Destier. I was with the cavalry on the right wing; it was more a skirmish than any other. We charged early, too early, before our infantry had time to engage the enemy centre. You see … a young hothead with dreams of glory decided waiting was going to lose him the chance to win his spurs; he set off alone and without orders. The other knights weren’t going to be left out or have their honour and courage called to doubt, so they set off after him, a ragged, unplanned charge at the wrong time. A short distance from the enemy lines the young fool was shot down, his horse dead under him and a crossbow bolt buried in his leg. My father knew him; he stopped and fought to keep the French off the lad, giving the other squires time to bear him away to the surgeons. His bravery saved the boy’s life but at the cost of his own; he was cut down as I watched, helpless. I saw no more of the battle; I was out of it wounded by then.” His next words seemed to come from far away, as if more for himself than his audience, “I am not sure the boy was worth saving.”
After that not even John could save the meal, and soon the gathering broke up with very little said. John promised to tell her of his plan tomorrow in the afternoon.
Together with Fulk Eleanor found her way back to the guestroom in silence. The man at arms was still avoiding her eye, still refusing to speak to her. As she put her hand on the latch to her door she resolved to take a gamble. “Wait here a moment; I have something for you.” She disappeared into her room then re-emerged with a small vial, the contents of which she upended over Fulk before he could do anything. The pungent smell of some rather foppish perfume blasted through the corridor. She smiled sweetly and took a step back towards cleaner air, “Consider that a part payment on what I owe you for that escapade in the church, oh dear husband thing.”
Fulk choked and frantically waved his hand in front of his face, trying to clear the air, “Oh Jesú! That reeks!”
He spoke! Alleluia! Despite herself Eleanor beamed with delight, “It will fade with a change of clothes and a few baths.”
“I suppose it’d be too much to ask for you to go prod the servants into bringing the bathtub back to your room?”
Her eyes went wide with exaggerated innocence, “But I am going to bed now, so I am afraid you will have to go bathe elsewhere. Like the guard room.”
“You vengeful little bitch!” exclaimed Fulk half in admiration for her scheme, half in dismay at the prospect looming. She began to shut the door to her room, acting with speed born of panic Fulk wedged his foot in the door, “Oh come on Eleanor, you can’t make me go off down to the guardroom stinking like this! Please? A bit of mercy, oh brilliantness? They’ll think I have Greek tastes!”
She smirked, “I know, fun isn’t it? Soft, fuzzy thing indeed – I told you I would have my revenge, and this is only part payment. Have a nice bath, stenchflower.”
She threw her weight on the door, forcing him to wiggle his foot free or risk getting it crushed. He immediately began to hammer on the closed door, “Alright, you’re not soft and fuzzy, though right now I wish you were, so a little mercy, please? Eleanor? Your diabolicalness? Please? I’m begging…”
“Take it like a man,” she advised him from behind the door, “and if you do not go soon you will be too late to get a bath before morning.”
He stopped his hammering and kicked the door in frustration, “You know this means war?” Silence. Ok, time to plot damage limitation before he got accused of being a pansy and/or attracted to men. Then time to plot revenge, careful revenge. He didn’t know what he’d done to help stoke that earlier explosion but he knew he’d done something. He didn’t like to think he’d hurt her, but somehow apparently he had, and that wasn’t gallant; a princess’s bodyguard should always be gallant. Silence. The voice didn’t protest; it had been screaming at him during his war story, but that statement didn’t upset it.
See? It all came back to honour in the end; lead into gold, becoming worthy, and being a man of his word, as he knew he was. Nothing to do with an inappropriate attraction.
I think that could have used one more pass to polish it up, but I've got things to do. it's not so bad as it is, just a few details and words thatcould use tidying.
I always have difficulty commenting on your work milady. Theres only so many ways you can describe brilliance.
The closest I can get to it is,
Oh kay here you go...
OK, sorry for that I can get you a cloth if you like...
No need to get on your high horse I 'll get you a cloth...
Ahhh! put the gun away...
Last edited by zelda12; 09-17-2004 at 21:14. Reason: Smilies were nay working first time round.
Clicked post reply instead of preview post. Sorry.
Last edited by Ludens; 09-21-2004 at 15:02. Reason: Wrong message posted
That was exactly what I meant. Well done, Froggy! I have just two comments:Originally Posted by frogbeastegg
Firstly, I think that the emotional transitions of the characters are a bit to quick. Fulk and Eleanor go almost instantly from any given mood over to squabbling. Perhaps you could build these transitions up a little bit more.
Secondly, the story has been very focussed over the past few days: nothing happens without meaning. At itself that is not a bad thing, but I think it would do the story good if you add some unimportant elements as a sort of - decoration. Why don't you add a Frog again ?
Very well done, Froggy. Looking forward to reading more about poor John.
Phew. Hopefully Froggy hasn't activated instant e-mail notification or she can read the original, unfinished message with all its embarrasing translation and grammar mistakes.
zelda, you made the poor frog blush.
:throws Demon a satsuma: enjoy
Ludens, of course I have email subscription on this thread :grins evilly: Actually your original wasn't too bad.
The duo can squabble in any mood, although it does pick up different layers and overtones sometimes if their moods are particularly powerful. I've kept that under-key and now, like many other themes and aspects, I am building it up and making it more obvious. So many things can only be pointed out when the duo notice; usually Eleanor since much of this is from her POV. The huge number of important things they blindly ignore, I really have to fight not to point and shout. But it’s the only way this will work, even Fulk’s POV has to be used sparingly and only at carefully planned moments. Much of his shared POV moments are only skimming across the surface of a very deep lake, keeping most of his thoughts back. I’m going to try for a proper dual POV scene soon … maybe.
These last few bits have been very focused because there is so much going on; when I have so many balls up in the air it becomes hard to bring frogs in on the juggling act as well. The last part, and especially this next one, are so hard to get right, so much happening on so many levels. Most of it you probably won't even see until the big denouement. The next part is a fine balance between giving too much away, not laying the foundations properly, being too wordy, too short, too emotional, too bland, too passive, too active, too reliant on thought reading, and too skimpy on the character's emotions. Once this very cluttered bit is over the detail should return again.
But hey, in their world Christmas is only a couple of weeks away and that's the traditional time for frogs
:puts the main theme from her new Princess Bride soundtrack on endless loop and returns to trying to write the soul of a rust bucket:
Ignoring the witless chatter of the ladies assigned to keep her company Eleanor stared out of the window of her guest room, watching the happenings down in the practise yard. Fulk was giving a fine account of himself, winning bouts with both sword and polearm before proving himself as skilled with a longbow as any Englishman. Now he was turning effortless cartwheels and handstands in full armour. He hadn’t brought his own mail with him; John had loaned him a hauberk of a more modern design than Fulk’s own, along with a few other basic bits and pieces for this demonstration.
It was all very impressive; there was no doubting his skill or competency. There was no doubt he was showing off for his prospective new employer. There was no doubt John would hire him.
Fulk was enjoying himself; combat was simple, he had always been good at it and he took pleasure from the exercise. It had been ages since he’d had occasion to use a polearm, and this armour was better than anything he’d worn previously. It was just him and his opponent, two weapons and may the best man win. No spymasters, no skulduggery, no gooseberries, and no niggling conscience. He’d kept up his daily practise in the time he’d been with Eleanor but lacking a real opponent and a proper training yard it wasn’t the same.
Now he stood upside down on his hands, the skirt of his borrowed hauberk flopping down with gravity so the ends just grazed his chin, and all he needed to worry about was keeping his balance. He flipped back to his feet, then did a quick cart wheel, the armour jingling and slapping gently against him.
John started clapping enthusiastically, “Enough, you have more than proven yourself.” Fulk had forgotten he was there, this prince with ambition but little wisdom. Reluctantly he stopped his exercises. John beckoned him, “Come, let us adjourn to the armoury. A display such as yours should be rewarded.”
Rewarded? John’s tentative recruitment had begun last night and only strengthened this morning, and now it seemed a small bribe with yet more flattery would precede the offer. It appeared Eleanor’s brother had absolutely no qualms about stealing from her. The question was what did Fulk want to do? He’d spent a sleepless night turning the question over in his mind; what to do if the prince offered him employment? His heart cried for one course, his head another, his conscience still another, and although heart and conscience were travelling in the same direction their reasons could not be more different. There was no reconciling the three, they continued to tug him in different directions and somehow he would have to choose one above the others.
Fulk followed at John’s side, towards the armoury in the foot of one of the inner curtain wall’s towers. The armoury was a large, square room, with plastered and whitewashed stone walls to reflect the maximum amount of light. Though they were at ground level the floor was covered in wooden planks rather than the more usual flagstones, cobbles or beaten earth. A scattering of rushes mixed with some dried lavender vied with the scents of iron, oil, leather and assorted cleaning products, trying to lend a more refined air to the very military room. It was a strange touch; no doubt John was responsible. Despite the room’s size it was packed so full there was barely space to walk. Everywhere there were chests and racks of weapons and armour, far more than the garrison of this castle could ever use. It was enough for a small private army.
On their arrival John commanded two young squires to drop their cleaning and find the best armour in the castle to fit Fulk. As they began rooting through chests and racks, pulling out bits and pieces John said quietly to Fulk, “I could use someone with your skills; I see a future need for a dependable bodyguard. The armour they find for you is yours regardless, but think on it well. I am generous to those who perform a service for me, such as rescuing my sister. I am more generous still to my own people. You have until they finish arming you up to make a decision.”
Equipment chosen the squires began to add it to the armour Fulk was already wearing with practised speed. He was wearing a brand new padded gambeson with a mail shirt that guarded him from throat to just above the knee, the sleeves ended in mail mittens. John said to the squires, “Forget the mail hose.” He smiled at Fulk, “You may have them, but I see little to no point in stripping you of hauberk and gambeson to put them on.” That cut precious minutes off his thinking time, and the squires were already working faster than he’d like.
One boy removed his sword from about his waist, then the other brought forth a coat of plates. Numbly Fulk ducked his head so they could pass the garment over his head, then they set to work buckling it closed at the back. Until today he’d never even seen a coat of plates close up before; he only seen them from afar on rich warriors, and on those occasions they had been all but hidden by the man’s surcoat. It was a simple poncho like garment with curved metal plates riveted on the inside to guard the entire torso from the waist up. The plates were placed and carefully fixed so as to be flexible, and when the garment fastened up it took a good deal of the hauberk’s weight off his shoulders, distributing it more evenly.
On top of the coat of plates they added a red silk surcoat, then began to fasten a new sword about his waist. “No,” he said, not quite meaning to speak until he already had. The new sword was ornate and finely crafted, worth far more than his old blade and it would probably be stronger and hold an edge better. John had said whatever they put on him was his to keep, to turn down that sword would be plain daft and no one had said he couldn’t keep his old one.
The squires were waiting patiently, one holding the sword, the other an arming cap to go below the mail coif lying on a table nearby. John cocked an eyebrow, a gesture that reminded Fulk of his sister. Fulk felt torn, he looked from the new blade to the old one. With difficulty he spoke, “I want to keep my old sword, it was a gift from … a friend.” When he said keep he wasn’t sure which half of him had won; the half which wanted to take the new blade in addition to the old one simply because it was better, or the half which wanted to turn it down to keep the old blade which meant so much.
John laughed congenially, “Is that all? No one said you had to be rid of it, keep it by all means!”
The squire began to buckle the new sword about his waist. Fulk kept staring at his old, plain, trustworthy sword, remembering fair hands struggling with the stiff leather and a girl’s voice saying, “Use it to earn your spurs, then come back to me,” as she’d fastened it in place the day she had gifted it to him. He’d sworn to keep it at his side always, just as he’d sworn to return a knight. He felt panic welling up inside him, he began to call a halt but it was too late, the squire was stepping back and the new sword in place. Now he had broken both promises to her, this one solely for greed.
He barely paid attention as they placed the cap on his head, then the coif and finally a kettle helm, a helmet formed by a metal skullcap with a broad brim just like a hat; perfect for fighting on foot as it left vision and hearing clear. A pair of plate knee guards joined the mail leggings in a pile, along with a standard knight’s shield and a full, bucket like helm suited to mounted combat.
“I am giving you a warhorse as well, along with saddle, tack and so on,” confided John.
Fulk listened in a daze. The squires stood back, their task complete. Fulk wore a fortune, another fortune was piled next to him, and a final fortune was waiting in a stable. With this he was equipped as well as many rich knights; he lacked the lands and title, but if he followed John into exile mayhap one day, when he returned to England …
“Your decision?” inquired John. His tone indicated he expected only one answer.
Fulk flexed his right hand inside the mail mitten, desperately flailing for purchase on his spinning thoughts. A fortune. Everything he ever wanted. A chance he would never have again. A chance to become something. A chance to fulfil his dream. A chance to get that knighthood he had once craved more than anything. He would be mad to decline. He would also be away from Eleanor; if he left now he would eventually get over her and she him. Leaving would be the best thing to do. He would never have to stand around uselessly again, fighting his feelings and instincts on those rare occasions when she crumpled.
No, she would just crumple alone. Playing for time Fulk slipped his left hand out of the slit in the leather palm of the integral mail mitten and began fiddling with the leather thong woven through the mail at his right wrist as if adjusting it. Did it really matter if she would be alone again anyway? He would never know what she was doing, for all he knew she might be perfectly happy without him. Anyway why did it make a difference if he was there or not? It wasn’t as if he could do anything to help, so for all the use he was there might as well be nobody there. He didn’t even belong in her world; base born men at arms did not get involved in royal politics or intrigue.
So why would he belong in John’s world? An exiled prince, scheming to get back to his place and seize the throne. Simple; all he’d have to do is follow orders, and let someone else make the decisions. He would not have to choose what to do, and it was the choosing that was so hard. “Just say yes,” advised his common sense. He tried; his voice wouldn’t work.
His conscience was pleased, immediately butting in with, “See? Man of honour, it’s about damned time you really acted it! Say no, go on – it’s easy.” He couldn’t.
He looked at his old sword, without conscious thought he moved over and picked it up. He examined it as if he had never seen it before in his life. A plain iron disk shaped pommel, a sweat stained red leather bound grip, a straight iron cross guard; it was hardly ornate but it had a simple workman’s beauty to it. He drew an inch of steel; the blade itself was pattern welded and shone with a unique pattern, silvers, greys, a touch of yellow all blended together in a rainbow like oil spilled on water. It had belonged to Maude’s grandfather, and she had given it to him. “Use it to earn your spurs, then come back to me,” she had said. But he never won his spurs and he had been too ashamed to return and tell her … and tell her he had destroyed his life and their future along with it.
Last time he had followed his ambition he had lost everything, and sworn to himself he would become something better than the fool he had been. The best any man could be in this world was a man of honour, the kind who gave their oath and kept it regardless, protected the innocent and fought evil, brave and courageous to the last. Such men were rare in this world, but they did exist and their names spread through Christendom and became legend. Reginald de Nevers would have scorned this prince’s offer without hesitation, so would Arnauld de Eu, and Roger FitzRalph, and Aimery FitzAlan, and Ulfstan of York, and … and all those many others he had spend time memorising the legends of. They made it seem so easy, so easy. He wasn’t a man of honour; he just wished he was. He pretended he was, sometimes the illusion worked better than others, sometimes he was able to crush away the voice of his conscience telling the honest truth. Sometimes, many times, he could not.
But he had to make a start somewhere, why not here? Because … because he would never have this opportunity again. Because he would be stuck next to someone he was beginning to love against all his effort and better judgement, never able to even tell her that, and endlessly worrying about what would happen if she said anything or if the spymaster noticed. Because he might keep his word now, but what about later? He had sworn to follow and protect; he could follow but protect? No, not against those she truly needed help with. So where was the point? In her world he was a rank beginner, powerless and valueless, dependent on her help to get by. But … if you placed her in the real world she was equally reliant on him, and there he could help.
And if he wasn’t there to patch up her injuries who would? And to make her laugh? Or listen to her grumbling? Or to teach her to fight, cook and all those other things she was endlessly curious about? Who would be her friend? Who would see the gooseberry instead of the tool or the problem?
“I am all she has.” The words tore themselves free of their own accord.
John glared at him impatiently, “I will soon set her up with a new household; she will not need you.” His glare was but a pale shadow of his sister’s impressive version.
Perhaps he could manage somehow? If he kept his word now then that was a start, beyond then he could do the best he could, even if that meant tending wounds instead of preventing them. Even if it meant falling further, and being forever near what he could not have. Wasn’t every good knight supposed to have an unobtainable lady to worship? So he wasn’t a knight, but he could dream, right?
And if he left he would miss the insults, genial arguing, contests of wits, surprises, and all those other delightful little quirks they had. He would miss the glare, and the stare, and the pride … he would miss her. Either way he would have only dreams, but if he stayed he would see her when he woke up. He grinned internally at that; what a soppy bastard he was.
He let his old sword slide back into its sheath, and finally found his voice properly, “I gave her my word; I will not break it.”
I cut the bit I had planned into two parts; it was getting very long.
Um, not too sure about this. It's kind of ... wordy, dry, maybe dull if you don't like seeing inside Fulk's skull for once. His mind was harder to get than gooseberry's; I can see through her eyes now almost effortlessly. Fulk took a lot more work, but eventually it clicked and this flowed onto the page. Lol, before they told me what to write, now I have a small corner of my mind labelled 'gooseberry' and another, less established one, labeled 'rusty'. Now, in a very strange way, I can be them. I prefer these new versions. :gets coshed by the original Eleanor:
At the same time it's nice to finally begin to reveal all those things he has been hinting at in his rare POV moments, such as his 'man of honour' thing. For nearly 80 pages now that little voice has been talking away, once identified in a throw-away line as his conscience, only now is it revealed more fully what and why. Course if you've been collecting the more advanced hints you will know there is more to this, much more.
Soppy bastard and a lot more; as the original Eleanor said in last year's Christmas special “Armoured on the outside, soft and squishy on the inside. What am I talking about – your heart or a cockroach?” Bah, froggy hate soppy!
*Wipes satsuma of my face*
Grabs a Satsuma.
*Frog starts laughing*
*I get angry and walk of in a huff*
*Frog waits impatiently for a little while. Then falls asleep.*
*When she awakes I'm standing grinning by an automatic tennis ball thrower. And a large box of Satsumas.*
*I walk past frog who is now lying uncouncious on the floor under a mass of messed up satsumas.*
(This is meant to be percieved as humour)
Ya know zelda, the part with the 'this is meant to be percieved as humour' is actually funnier than the joke itself (I was practically ROTFLMFAO)
This has honestly gotta be sticky, to speak the truth.
Mods, please by stickying this.
THE GODFATHER, PART 2
You know nearly a year ago, back when the unit guide was brand new, I was awarded a unit of royal bodyguards. 20 knights in shining armour, with all the upgrades and high valour, loyal only to me. It's been a while since I had occasion to use them. :grins wickedly as zelda runs for several miles at top speed to get away:
:allows the 21st, unofficial knight in shining armour to rescue her and carry her off into the sunset for a nice long break from writing and oranges of any variety:
Ah, new blood! What has to be a sticky, Silver Rusher, the joke or the thread?
Everyone head to the first page of this thread and admire the nice new title.
Thanks, Duke John