The Preacher's Knife

Damiynn

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I am a fantasy author, who has traveled the world.
#1
Chapter 1
I didn't really need my gun but I still pushed back the edge of my long knitted coat revealing the cross draw rig slung cavalry style on my left hip. My pistol's worn wooden grip glinted under the light of the street lamp. I hoped I wouldn’t need it, I knew the man who lived in the ramshackle house.

This side of Denver was not as rich as some parts of the large city, but it also wasn’t out on the frontier. Denver was not a backwater hole in the wall. Where he was, was supposed to be one of the calmer sections. It even had lights.
I didn’t want to have to listen to my boss chewing my ass out again about drawing my weapon around the good citizens when I didn't have to. His gruff speech suddenly filled my head.

“Discretion Marshal Mollon, this isn’t Dodge City or Deadwood. Denver is a modern city. It doesn’t require gunfights on the streets or magical duels at the slightest provocation. We are supposed to be civilized human beings. City folks like to hear or read about gunfights, not participate in them.”

Coughing slightly, I let the two hunkered down local lawmen who had drawn my attention from across the street know I was behind them. Their heads whipped about sharply at the sound but I saw them relax immediately when I they saw the silver star pinned to the outside of my coat. With a friendly gesture I thumbed back the brim of my hat.

“Gentlemen, can I help in any way, I know the man who lives there.”

The two local lawmen motioned me over. The older and more seasoned of the pair said, “Maybe Marshal. The man inside that house killed a man in a drunken brawl and cut four others within a few inches of their lives with a rune marked blade that won't let the wounds heal properly. All we want to do is bring him in for questioning.”

My eyes left the older man’s and moved to the younger one. Judging by the look of rage on his face and the death grip he had on the handle of his pistol, questioning looked like the last thing on his mind.
In as neutral tone a tone as I could manage, I said, “How about you let me take a try at talking to him, I know the man who lives there, we have a relationship that goes back several years. I might be able to get him to come out and surrender before your partner does something unlawful like filling him full of holes.”

The older lawman snapped his gaze around towards his partner and at seeing the gun in his fist, gave him a disapproving look. Shaking his head reproachfully, he said, “Whatever works Marshall, we just need to get to the bottom of this and find out what really happened.”

Nodding, I called out in a friendly tone, “Minor,” I paused for a moment hoping that he would recognize my voice. “This isn’t worth the fight you’re going to get if you keep this up. These lawmen out here don't have all the details yet about what happened and I would rather not see you ending up dead for something that might not have been your fault. How bout you toss out your weapon and surrender yourself into my custody. You can tell me your side of what happened and what you did? You know I will see that you are treated fairly.”

No sounds came forth from the old house. Unlike the others on this block which were well kept and neat, Minor's house looked like it had fallen into disrepair and had seen better days.

Just as I was about to call out again, a heavy clanking filled the air. It was followed by a rattle that sounded like someone tripping over a potbellied stove and had knocked something off it.

“Is that you M..Marshal Mollon?” called out a slurred voice near one of the broken window panes. “I should not have to go anywhere, I didn’t do anything wrong.”

I shook my head in exasperation, hearing his drunken words. I had warned Minor before that someday his drinking was going to get him into trouble and that he had to get a better handle on his grief.

“Them men’s in that saloon Marshal, they had it coming. They needed someone to shut their mouths, they were speaking bad to the ladies and the one I stopped was abusing a squaw in a way that he should not have been doing.”

Immediately, before I could stop it, I felt my temper flare up in a flash of heat and it spread throughout my body at Minor’s statement but I quickly squashed it. My personal feelings had no place here, not right now. As jovially as I could manage I turned to the two local lawmen. “He claims he did nothing wrong gentlemen and from what I just heard I am not sure if he did.”

The second lawman’s eyes glowed hotly and his fingers tightened even more around the grip of his pistol. I wondered if the man who had been killed or his companions were acquaintances of his.

“Who cares about a damn squaw and what happens to one of them. He killed a white man over a damned injun,” growled the second lawman angrily. “He did it with magic Marshal. Turned him to ash with an electrical glyph and now he’s refusing to lower his defenses so that we can arrest him. It ain’t right him defying the law that way or killing anyone over a damn injun.”

The first lawman, being the more observant of the pair had seen what his partner had not in the light from the overhead street lamp and gave him a rather pointed look of warning. Obviously, he had not looked too closely at me.

Coughing embarrassingly the older said rather pointedly, “And all of the witnesses said that he used that glyph in self-defense Officer Payton.” The second cop grunted, then seeing the look on his partner’s face he looked up into my face for the first time and a look of recognition filled his eyes. All of the blood fled his face as he realized who I was.

Something dangerous must have flickered in my eyes because he immediately skittered a few steps backwards and his hand dropped quickly and he holstered his pistol.

Most of the people in these parts knew me by sight. Everyone knew me by reputation and all who did knew I was a halfblood. Half irish and half souix. I also had a reputation that said that I was deadly with a gun or with magic. Folks said that I would go out of my way to protect Indians just as fast as whites.

The blood continued draining out of the second lawman’s face until he was white as a bedsheet. Seeing that I wasn’t going to shoot him, he slowly, almost deliberately and rather shakily slid his hand back away from the holster at his side. As he turned his face away from mine I saw that he swallowed noticeably.

Keeping a tight grip on my temper at the mention of a squaw being assaulted and it not meaning anything, I let out a long breath and counted to four. As my anger faded, I removed my hand from my gun, I didn’t even remember putting it there.

Focusing my attention again back towards the beaten down house I called out again, “Minor, one of these fine lawmen out here says you might be innocent, the other one, he says you aren’t and that people should be allowed to abuse women any way that they want to just because of their heritage. Why don’t I come on up there and we’ll talk about it, all gentlemanly like? We can determine together who is right and who is wrong.”

“I don’t know, Kailen, I mean Marshal..”

I turned again to the more sensible of the local lawmen. “You said you had witnesses?”

“Yes, Marshal and they said he did nothing wrong and that he was protecting that squaw and the other women from those men. A few said that he was provoked into defending himself by the five of them.”

Turning again to the beaten down house I shouted, “I believe we should, Minor. I need to hear your side of this. One officer here believes the witnesses. I want to be able to convince the second one before he shoots you or puts you in front of a magical killing squad. Don't shoot, I’m coming up.”
 
Joined
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#2
I like the opening hook. To me, the Marshal talks about not needing his gun, then hoping he doesn't need his gun, and finally thinks about his boss telling him not to use his gun. He seems to use it a lot. When you write about him experiencing anger and not realizing he gripped his gun, shows me he might have anger problems. Especially when he uses a breathing exercise to calm down.
The relationship Marshal has with Minor seems to be the opposite. He has a lot of patience for him. Did Marshal used to be an outlaw? I want to read more to find out.
What's cool to me is how you introduce magic. As I understand it, people use magic within the context of a western. They have gunfights and magical duels. Minor used a magical knife. I like it.
 
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#3
The story makes for an interesting read, but for me, it is overwritten and contains too many long sentences.
I didn't really need my gun but I still pushed back the edge of my long knitted coat revealing the cross draw rig slung cavalry style on my left hip. My pistol's worn wooden grip glinted under the light of the street lamp. I hoped I wouldn’t need it, I knew the man who lived in the ramshackle house.
"I pushed back the edge of my coat, revealing the cross draw rig to the light of the street lamp, and to the man who lived in the ramshackle house."

This side of Denver was not as rich as some parts of the large city, but it also wasn’t out on the frontier. Denver was not a backwater hole in the wall. Where he was, was supposed to be one of the calmer sections. It even had lights.
"This side of Denver was not as rich as some parts of the city, but neither was it a backwater hole in the wall. It even had lights."

I appreciate it is a choice of writing style, but I do think some of the longer sentences could be shortened for greater impact.
 

tinkerdan

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#4
This is pretty good. You have a bit of description that seems to be there to set the mood and the scene maybe even the era.
What's missing in that is a bit of the senses to help us along with the feel and smell and taste of things.

What is missing even more is the connection between the marshal and the man in the house.

It reads like a meandering stream of scene setup to get to the point and there is nothing wrong with that; however I don't see any harm in revealing the connection the marshal has right at the beginning to help us understand some of the conflict and stakes.

What that could look like for example(keep in mind I've no idea what that relationship is:

Marshal Tom knew Dave; he knew he had a propensity to overindulge. He was the type that could be argumentative and downright nasty after too much drink. The marshal had even tried a few times to warn him, but sometimes a man can't see the problem unless it belongs to someone else; and you can't fix what you can't see. The best you can hope for is that they get enlightened before it's too late. The posture of the two men hunkered across the street from Dave's house suggested the possibility of some dangerous illumination brewing. He could let it be, Dave didn't have many endearing qualities; however it was the marshal's job to keep the peace. And frankly he didn't fancy the blood of two strangers on his hands. Besides, they were lawmen.

Then you could follow with all that description and the approach to the lawmen and it all works out to where you have the scene purpose is saving the lawmen from his viscous acquaintance. At the end of the scene he can save them, or not. If he saves them he might even save the man in the house.

However the relationship between your characters is most likely quite different and only you know how to put that out there for the reader. Maybe the goal really is to save his friend.
 

Damiynn

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I am a fantasy author, who has traveled the world.
#5
The story makes for an interesting read, but for me, it is overwritten and contains too many long sentences.


"I pushed back the edge of my coat, revealing the cross draw rig to the light of the street lamp, and to the man who lived in the ramshackle house."



"This side of Denver was not as rich as some parts of the city, but neither was it a backwater hole in the wall. It even had lights."

I appreciate it is a choice of writing style, but I do think some of the longer sentences could be shortened for greater impact.
thanks, this is something I will definitely look into
 

TheEndIsNigh

...Prepare Thyself
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#6
No detailed crit - it's a bit late - Will do one if you want - Let me know.

However....

Minor shouts out the Marshall's name - Since he's so well known the second lawman would not be making the remarks he did and would certainly not be putting his hand on his gun.

It needs to be reordered - a simple fix.

I thought this was good. I liked it a lot. I did wonder if it was SFF but it was soon resolved.

I'm liking the mixing of genres. Western magical dystopia

Tein
 

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