Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Callarion at Night sample

Today is yet another busy earnings day at the office, so in lieu of coming up with anything else, I decided to share a just-written scene from Callarion at Night, wherein we see Moriah exhibit some heroic traits. So, without further ado, here is a section from the brand-new Chapter Two of Callarion at Night.

Chapter Two

Moriah treated at least half a dozen more injuries, before gunfire near the Lowtown gate drew her attention. Half a squad of yellow-jackets stood over three injured men near the Lowtown gate. The men were lying on the ground, moaning with pain, when the yellow-jackets raised their rifles and fired.

The yellow-jackets shot more men, and some women, as they moved through the field of injuries. More yellow-jackets appeared, and split up among the wounded. A dozen gunshots echoed as one. Each person they killed was lying in pain on the road, some groaning with broken bones and blood pooling beneath them. Battle-rage thrummed through Moriah’s body. She looked for Nicolai, but couldn’t see him anywhere nearby. It figures he’d disappear when she needed him. She stomped to the nearest yellow-jacket — a sergeant judging by the chevrons on his jacket. “What in the Nine Hells are you doing?”

The sergeant slowly turned to her, glanced at her face, and then turned away. He’d seen her eyes. Of course, a half-breed didn’t deserve a response. Moriah tapped him on the shoulder, forcing herself to not shoot him for the insult. The sergeant didn’t turn around. She tapped him on the shoulder again. He still didn’t turn. Moriah drew her pistol, cocked it, and held it to the back of the sergeant’s head. The man froze.

“Sergeant. If you do not turn around and look at me right now, I will shoot you. Is that understood?”

“I think not, half-breed.” The sergeant spoke, but still didn’t turn. Half a dozen repeating rifles cocked, and Moriah saw each gun pointed at her. The men’s ebony masks presented visages of uncaring stone all around. At least it wasn’t like Hirvak CityShyam, when half a hundred men had their weapons on her.

“Sergeant,” she said, “you are going to tell your men to lower their weapons.”

“Under whose authority? Yours?” The sergeant looked at her, blue eyes burning with hatred. He scoffed. “You have no power over me, blasphemer. Run along before my men send you to the Ninth Hell where all your kind belongs.”

“Moriah! Stand down!” Thomas’s voice echoed across the street. The old man ran toward her, and Malory looked over the roof of the truck idling behind him.

“Moriah Rowani?” The sergeant’s voice held a faint tremor. Good. Her reputation had preceded her. She allowed the battle-rage to show in her eyes, and the sergeant took an involuntary step back.

“Yes, sergeant that is my name. Now, would you be so kind as to answer my question?”

“Weapons down!” The yellow-jackets surrounding Moriah lowered their rifles. A yellow-jacket with a silver eagle on the breast pocket of his longcoat — a colonel — stalked over to them. “Sergeant Yosan. What is the meaning of this?” The colonel reached them at the same time as Thomas. He jumped when he noticed the old man. “Master Caine. What are you doing here?”

“Colonel Trevorian. My goddaughter saw the explosion, and decided to help the injured.” Thomas laid a hand on Moriah’s shoulder. “Moriah, we have worn out our welcome.”

“They’re killing people wounded in the explosion.” Moriah kept her gun pointed at the sergeant. “I saw them shoot more than a dozen who couldn’t fight back.”

“We don’t shoot civilians.” Yosan narrowed his eyes. “These errant moldwarps are traitors to the kingdom. They flout the Lord Premier’s law.”

“A wounded dockworker who was injured when your men fired cannon rounds into his apartment building is not a traitor,” Moriah said. “He is your countryman and deserves the help of a physician, not a bullet to the head because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Your Grace, if you would please lower your weapon?” Trevorian said. “I promise I will take care of the situation.”
From here, Moriah ends up launching into a speech about laws and how no one's above them. Which will be somewhat of a theme going forward.

Thoughts? Criticisms? This is very raw, so I'm sorry if any of the writing is unwieldy.


Joshua McCune said...

I like it. She's channeling her attitude against evil. Given the situation, I'd almost like to see her shoot first and ask questions second, but this is probably one of those discretion over valor cases.

Anita Saxena said...

I like then tension and would like to learn more about Moriah's world.

Rick Daley said...

I like what's happening here, it's revealing for Moriah's character. She's an assassin herself, but still doen't like the wholesale slaughter of innocents. I'm curois to see how this might play in her thoughts when she has her own target. Something like DEXTER, where she has a code to justify that she only kills bad guys? This opens some interesting paths for character development.

The sergeant slowly turned to her, glanced at her face, and then turned away. He’d seen her eyes. Of course, a half-breed didn’t deserve a response. Moriah tapped him on the shoulder, forcing herself to not shoot him for the insult. The sergeant didn’t turn around. She tapped him on the shoulder again. He still didn’t turn. Moriah drew her pistol, cocked it, and held it to the back of the sergeant’s head. The man froze.

I had the impression he turned his back to her, but was not moving, so he froze seemed redundant.

There are a couple rough spots in the prose, email me if you're interested in a line edit, but you mentioned that, so you are probably already thinking about the same things I am...

Anonymous said...

She's fiesty and fun! I really quite like her.

Andrew Rosenberg said...

Here is my critique.

The first couple paragraphs read like a newspaper. This happened, then this happened, blah blah. I don't know why any of this matters. I also don't know what the POV is. It's also hard to follow.
You mention things I have no idea what they are. Battle-rage, yellow jackets, half-breed. Yes, I can guess, but these things don't mean anything without some reference point.
The sergeant's actions seem weird and forced. In a hostile situation, any perceived threat should be dealt with. If he doesn't respect her, he should respect the gun.
I just want everything to be more visceral, for every moment to have a purpose and a meaning for the POV character.
Other than that, I can see the beginnings of conflict between the YJ and Moriah. Sort of the imperial forces vs the natives or what have you. (You did see Avatar, right?)
I'm interested in seeing how this develops.
But please don't launch into a speech! Let the themes just come out naturally.

dolorah said...

Moriah is a truly kick-ass heroine. Seems nothing scares her, or gets in her way. The line “He’d seen her eyes. Of course, a half-breed didn’t deserve a response” speaks volumes on how different she is from the “yellow jackets”.

Since we’re dropped in the aftermath of a battle scene, I imagine chapter 1 explained her “half breed” heritage, who/what the yellow jackets are, and what the battle was about. I’d like to know what physical characteristics (I’m guessing there’s something off about her eyes at least) mark Moriah as a different race than the soldiers.

The soldier recognized her name - Moriah - as a member of the nobility (“Your Grace, if you would please lower your weapon . .”), but if she looks so different, and is a member of the ruling class, I’d think the soldier would recognize her. So something about her non-descript style of dress or a concealing cloak or something might be in order here. And then there’s the injured men and women themselves, and the fact that the soldiers are murdering them. This seems as though the injured are also all of a race beneath the soldiers caring.

I’m having a hard time believing a seasoned soldier would turn his back on anyone with a gun. He may have contempt for the bearer, but the weapon itself should elicit a response. Anger at least, in hopes of scaring her into dropping the weapon if he believes she isn’t competent with it.

This appears to be a very tense scene, with guns and tempers firing at will. But the language is stilted, almost too formal. Like a detailed list of who is present and what their ranks are and where they are standing in the scene. I’m confused by who is on who’s side, what their purpose in the scene is. The scene is lacking in setting; there are bodies on the ground, soldiers are milling about an unknown distance away killing them, and there is only the one soldier close to Moriah. People appear out of nowhere as they are needed in the confrontation.

I’m a fantasy reader, and so my expectations for imagery in a scene like this might be vastly different than what Steampunk readers require.

While I see Moriah’s act of facing down the yellow jackets’ brutality as brave, I do not see it as heroic. Even knowing she was treating the injured. She did not pull out her gun in a spirit of righteous anger and confront the soldiers as they shot the injured. She wasn’t protecting anyone when she singled out the sergeant. She was just mad and wanted to let him know. She pulled her weapon only when he ignored her because she was a half-breed. It was his opinion of her personally that angered her, not the situation.

OK, last comment, I promise. I cheated; I peeked at the chapter 1 post you did because I was looking for the setup to this scene. The two are unrelated, unless there was a lot more after her confrontation with the soldier in THAT scene. Except for the basic scenario; they are alike.

In this one she is supposed to be protecting the injured from being slaughtered, she confronts a soldier who disrespects her, until he hears her name, then he and his superior officer quake in their boots. In chapter 1 she is protecting a lowly peasant from ridicule by the soldier, he disrespects her, then he and his troops quake in fear when she states her name.

Both scenes tell me she is a woman to be reckoned with, but doesn’t show me her skills to back it up. So yeah, if you’re going to tell me she’s heroic, someone to be feared not only for her membership in the nobility, but because she’s an accomplished warrior in her own right, I need to see that.

Matthew Delman said...

Thank you everyone for your comments on this small section. Every time I do this, you guys gift me with some of the best critiques an unpubbed writer could ask for.

I'll take everything into account, especially the bits about emotions, and attempt to weave it together with what's already here.

Donna --

There's roughly 20 pages between the previous excerpt installment and this current one. If you're interested, I can forward along what I have of the manuscript itself so you can see what (if any) connections you can find of the one's you're looking for.

Andrew --

Thank you again, sir, for sending me your suggestion. I'll have to go through this sucker with a fine-tooth comb looking for spots like that now. Blame four years of Journalism training in undergrad for why it sounds like a newspaper article if you like. Lord knows I do. ;)

dolorah said...

Yeah; love to critique. This is a very interesting story. Send it to
donnahole at gmail dot com.