What? 4K already?! - Gilbert's end (1178AD)

Phyrebrat

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#1
It seems like barely weeks ago I posted my 3K crit and here I am on my 4K already.

End Scene: It is the winter of 1178 Gilbert, a sort of right-hand man to Abbess Gothida has been alone at Cranbowen Priory for nearly a week. All the brothers were absent when he arrived, all the horses dead, and no sign of any of the monks except a dead Brother Rowan. Now at the end of the story, the Abbess arrives with her small retinue, and Gilbert's story comes to a close.

If you can be bothered (it's quite long at just under 1.5k). The only thing that I can think of as a disclaimer, is that in the historic periiods of my WIP I haven't used contractions.

I had to cut the opening to hit the 1.5k count, but it is just to do with the Abbess's retinue getting settled in the icy priory.

Go for it.

‘I shall oversee the duty of settling into the rooms. Our traveling possessions are but few,’ Ealdwine said.
‘Then I shall remove all traces of my occupancy in the warming room and return to the Reverend Mother.’

He would return to the warming room, that was true, but from there he would beat the ground between the priory to the stables, and make his escape; Dear God, please favour me with silent flight.

The hallways were still deserted but the addition of the five or six brothers attending the abbess populated the cold passageways with sounds of life. He had craved such companionship - humanity - for days, and now he had it, he wished it gone. He took the longer route from the stables, down the west cloister towards the church, then north to the library and back down the east cloister so he could check for missed evidence of Brother Rowan’s corpse. He found none, but as he approached the entrance of the reredorter, he heard a shrill cry, more like that of a scolded woman than distressed man. It was Brother Neot - outside the east range.

Gilbert ran into the reredorter and exited to the river. The abbess was already there with two surly monks who he had not yet seen, nor recognised now. Additionally, Neot - clearly alive and well - crouched as if ****ting on the frozen banks of the River Cran, itself a frosted iron mirror below which treacherous currents fought.

He saw no cause for Neot’s anguish, and assumed he had slipped and broken an ankle. He hastened with care on the hard ground, towards the abbess, and heard the tail end of her conversation with the anonymous brothers; ‘—river was not frozen thus when we arrived!’

As he prepared to advise the abbess of the speed with which the night freeze occurred in Cranbowen he stopped and asked himself what foolishness had dragged him from his resolve to flee this place. Though he cared for the sounds of distress he had heard, it was nothing he need involve himself in, so he turned to run back to the reredorter.

‘Gilbert!’ He heard the coarse, wet cry of the abbess, and before he could decide whether to return or dart into the dark entrance, he struck the wall as two heavy bodies slammed into him.

He screamed, his nose connecting with the stonework of the doorway, and his heart quickened to hammer against his chest bones. After a brief struggle, he fell, only to be hauled up abruptly under his arms, with such force that it seemed they would unseam themselves from his body.

His ears rang with a prolonged screeching, and his vision swam in and out of focus, all whilst he was turned about. As his senses returned, he realised the abbess - at first one figure, then two, and back to one again - was facing him from the river bank, Brother Neot wailing at her feet.

‘Bring him to me and remove this howling cur from my sight,’ she said, and he was dragged, feet all a-skitter by the brothers holding him. Once they reached the abbess, he was dropped like a stone. As he recovered, caught his breath and looked up, the wails of brother Neot diminished into the distance.

He was alone on the bank side with the abbess.

He looked down, averting his eyes from those icy blue ones, and as he did so, he saw the cause for Neot’s cries: upside down and half-submerged, half-frozen into the surface of the Cran was the skinned corpse of Brother Rowan, both his stump and full leg sticking rudely upwards. Less than a yard from them, the top half of the flayed brother’s face peeked above the ice, staring at him, eyes as grey as the ice of the river.

‘He sees you, Gilbert,’ the abbess said. ‘He sees you very well.’
‘Reverend Mother…’
‘What is it you have done, here? What is it you have seen?’
‘On the life of my babe, and my beloved, I have no knowledge of what happened here!’
‘An empty oath, Gilbert!’
‘On their lives, I’ll oath!’
‘Their lives are ended. Gilbert of Sarum is the last of that family.’ The abbess spat the words at him.


It was a lie. Maryam and Geoghan could not die. He struggled upright, his nose flowed freely and he did not know if it were blood or snot that was soaking his chest once more, for his tears rivalled the floods.

‘You lie!’
‘They are as dead as Cranbowen’s poor hospitalier!’ she said, wheezing and pointing to the frozen violation of Brother Rowan.
‘You LIE!’ he said through gritted teeth and saw drops of his spittle fly free and hit the abbess’s cheek and forehead.
‘No, I do not,’ she said, leaning close to him so that he could smell her raw-fish breath; so that his nose touched the stained cloth over her mouth; so that a repugnant, moist heat bloomed in his face. ‘You will not need to take my word on this; you will meet them in your damnation, murderer of holy men!’


These accusations, these revelations, they came too swiftly, crashing over him and leaving him dumb and unable to reason the extreme change in her.

‘Maryam. Geoghan. What have you done?’ he screamed.
‘I have done nothing. It is by her own hand that they are ended, Gilbert.’
‘Self-murder? She would never—'
‘Maryam suffered a taedium vitae believing you were killed. It was this that lead to her slaughtering your child together, and then her own self.’
‘LIES!’
‘Indeed, there are lies here. I have entrusted you on God’s sacred duty, given you opportunity to lead me to the truth, but you have deceived me.’


She turned and shook her hand, rolling something about within it, with such purpose that he glanced down.
When she uncurled her hand - no longer shaking, but still and firm - there, sitting on her palm was the glint of gold; the golden drop he had picked up on the king’s hillock.


‘It is true that you found what you were sent to discover. This small drop is a fraction of what you found. The monks knew and you killed them because of this knowledge!’

Gold? This was all for gold?

He had no interest in saving his name, no interest in making clear these muddy waters. All he could think of was myriad ways in which his wife and babe had met with foul play; that he were a disposable asset of the abbess, and therefore his family were somehow earmarked, too.

All for gold?

This was the real work of Satan, here. This was the abbess’ business.

He launched himself at her, his hands clawing outwards, wanting to tear her skin from her as Brother Rowan had lost his. Instead, he caught the dirty Mosul cotton coverings and in his throes, tore them down.

Wet crimson caverns - huge teardrop shaped holes - gaped where her nose should have been, and instead of lips and flesh around her mouth, gum and raw, wasted muscle, eaten slowly away by whatever ailed her, glistened.

He skittered away from her, shaking his hands, as if touching her rotten mask would be sufficient to infect and kill him.

The Grinning Abbess hissed and wheezed through the open wound of a face, and screamed in outrage. She came for him, her hand thudding into his face with uncommon strength. And while this happened, through this terror, he heard a calm part of himself call attention to the little gold drop that tumbled from her hand and rolled down the bank towards the frozen water’s edge.

She hammered down on his shoulders, sending him to his knees in a perversion of pious gratitude before her, and then she swung her arm across and sent him twisting in the air, spinning around, and falling on his chest, his head smashing through the ice. The freezing water washed away his confusion and his shocked (inertia). He pushed his hands on the river bank and brought his head out, above the water, seeing his distorted reflection in the small jagged hole his head had smashed through the ice.

Trying to turn, to find some position of advantage over the attacking abbess, he was not fleet enough, and a crack which he felt rather than heard, spread across the back of his head. Still facing the frozen river, he saw the abbess’s reflection towering behind him like the stones of the circle, but where her grotesque mouth should be was the jagged hole of the river like a distended mouth set with lethal sharp teeth.

A wolf’s mouth.

With that thought he collapsed head first into the water, the last thing he saw, a glinting gold droplet rushing away along the shallows; the last thing he felt, the abbess’s strong hand on the back of his head pushing, down, down.

And then nothing.



 

Dan Jones

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#2
I have nothing to say, except that you used a “who” instead of “2whom” up to somewhere.

It’s magnificnent. You must finish this book.
 

ctg

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#3
So Gilbert's story was a story of how he died? I think this well written and if someone don't pick it up, you should put it out. Just for your sake so that you know you can do it.
 

Phyrebrat

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#4
Thank you both for such encouraging comments. I wanted to put up one of the parts I feel more polished so I’m glad you liked it.

You’re both very kind.

@ctg Gilbert’s story isn’t so much about how he dies, or that he dies, but related and interwoven with the periods of 1349, 1761/5, 1850s and of course as a sort of origin story for the present-day strand. (2018 strand is causing me the most struggles).

Thanks.

@Dan Jones - I might need some help on the who/whom thing.

pH
 

ctg

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#5
Gilbert’s story isn’t so much about how he dies, or that he dies, but related and interwoven with the periods of 1349, 1761/5, 1850s and of course as a sort of origin story for the present-day strand. (2018 strand is causing me the most struggles).
I don't think you should worry about the present. You only need a few connections that are obvious to any readers. The rest you can make up. Thing is, later on, when the people read your story, they'll remember those present day connections and they create their own connections to the events. They might even see that in your world ... or Gilbert's world, things happened differently and people sacked mr rump, instead of letting him go free. It is your story, and if you want to make changes, you're allowed to.

Do you think that back in the day when King wrote the Shining, while he was off his face with the white powder, that he was afraid of making his world something else?

Also 1349 is an interesting year, because of the famine, black death and small ice age. Jane was on her early years, living with Damien and trying to learn what it meant to be a vampire instead of being a nun.
 

Appello

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#6
Because I'm currently desperately trying to distract myself from various goings-on in the real world, I'm going to sink my teeth into this. I hope you'll indulge me Phyrebrat :D

As with all your work the writing is atmospheric and professional. I had no problem reading this piece through to the end and would probably keep going if just to figure out what the heck is happening.

Having said that, I'm not sure if it's because I'm just entirely lacking in context and coming in at an odd moment, but there were bits of this that confused me. I'm just going to run through and offer my vague rambling thoughts, for you to take or leave as you will :)

‘I shall oversee the duty of settling into the rooms. Our traveling possessions are but few,’ Ealdwine said.
‘Then I shall remove all traces of my occupancy in the warming room and return to the Reverend Mother.’


He would return to the warming room, that was true, but from there he would beat the ground between the priory to the stables, and make his escape; Dear God, please favour me with silent flight.

The hallways were still deserted but the addition of the five or six brothers attending the abbess populated the cold passageways with sounds of life. He had craved such companionship - humanity - for days, and now he had it, he wished it gone. He took the longer route from the stables, down the west cloister towards the church, then north to the library and back down the east cloister so he could check for missed evidence of Brother Rowan’s corpse. He found none, but as he approached the entrance of the reredorter, he heard a shrill cry, more like that of a scolded woman than distressed man. It was Brother Neot - outside the east range.
This is all is quite slow and steady and didn't really set me up tension-wise for what was to come. That's not necessarily a criticism, as depending on what comes beforehand it might provide the breath the reader needs to take before the storm. But given what happens later, on re-read I was mildly surprised at Gilbert's lack of genuine urgency here.

Gilbert ran into the reredorter and exited to the river. The abbess was already there with two surly monks who he had not yet seen, nor recognised now. Additionally, Neot - clearly alive and well - crouched as if ****ting on the frozen banks of the River Cran, itself a frosted iron mirror below which treacherous currents fought.
He saw no cause for Neot’s anguish, and assumed he had slipped and broken an ankle.
This sort of confused me, imagery wise. 'Crouched as if ****ting' seems rather unnecessary when you could just say squatting, since I presume that's the position you're describing? But then you go on to say he's poised as if he's 'slipped and broken an ankle.' Which doesn't make sense to me because the last thing I'd do if I broke my ankle is squat? Surely you're much more likely to either be on your arse or sprawled on your hands and knees, depending on which way you've fallen? Just a minor thing but it kinda took me out of the moment.

He hastened with care on the hard ground, towards the abbess, and heard the tail end of her conversation with the anonymous brothers; ‘—river was not frozen thus when we arrived!’
As he prepared to advise the abbess of the speed with which the night freeze occurred in Cranbowen he stopped and asked himself what foolishness had dragged him from his resolve to flee this place. Though he cared for the sounds of distress he had heard, it was nothing he need involve himself in, so he turned to run back to the reredorter.
Honestly, you could take all of this out and I don't think the story would be impacted. It kind of makes Gilbert seem indecisive, and to me it only serves to drag out the moment.

‘Gilbert!’ He heard the coarse, wet cry of the abbess, and before he could decide whether to return or dart into the dark entrance, he struck the wall as two heavy bodies slammed into him.
He screamed, his nose connecting with the stonework of the doorway
Now I don't know what kind of man Gilbert is, but this read odd to me. I think of a scream as a high-pitched wail, and I struggled to picture a man making that kind of noise right before his face is slammed into a wall. Maybe a curse, or a shout of surprise, or even no sound at all, because it happens so fast. Unless you're trying to paint him as especially effeminate, a scream doesn't really work here imo.

His ears rang with a prolonged screeching, and his vision swam in and out of focus, all whilst he was turned about. As his senses returned, he realised the abbess - at first one figure, then two, and back to one again - was facing him from the river bank, Brother Neot wailing at her feet.
Again, possibly I'm making too much of this, but have you ever heard a man screech? Sobbing, yelling, moaning maybe... but screeching? Others might disagree but it just doesn't read right to me.

‘He sees you, Gilbert,’ the abbess said. ‘He sees you very well.’
...
She turned and shook her hand, rolling something about within it, with such purpose that he glanced down.
This is generally great dialogue but I would trim it back just a fraction. Rather than the three chunks of dialogue I would try to condense it down to two, for example (and please forgive me the liberty of this):

‘He sees you, Gilbert,’ the abbess said. ‘He sees you very well.’
‘Reverend Mother…’
‘What is it you have done, here? What is it you have seen?’
‘On the life of my babe, and my beloved, I have no knowledge of what happened here!’
‘An empty oath, Gilbert!’
‘On their lives, I’ll oath!’
‘Their lives are ended. Gilbert of Sarum is the last of that family.’ The abbess spat the words at him. ‘They are as dead as Cranbowen’s poor hospitalier!’
It was a lie. Maryam and Geoghan could not die. He struggled upright, his nose flowed freely and he did not know if it were blood or snot that was soaking his chest once more, for his tears rivalled the floods.
'You lie!'
‘No, I do not,’ she said, leaning close to him so that he could smell her raw-fish breath; so that his nose touched the stained cloth over her mouth; so that a repugnant, moist heat bloomed in his face. 'Maryam suffered a taedium vitae believing you were killed. It was this that lead to her slaughtering your child together, and then her own self.'
These accusations, these revelations, they came too swiftly, crashing over him and leaving him dumb and unable to reason the extreme change in her.
‘Self-murder? She would never—'
‘You will not need to take my word on this; you will meet them in your damnation, murderer of holy men!’
‘LIES!’
‘Indeed, there are lies here. I have entrusted you on God’s sacred duty, given you opportunity to lead me to the truth, but you have deceived me.’
This makes it just a little more quick-fire without, in my humble opinion, losing either the tension or the reader's comprehension of the matter. Just something to chew on, in any case.

Trying to turn, to find some position of advantage over the attacking abbess, he was not fleet enough, and a crack which he felt rather than heard, spread across the back of his head.
.
With that thought he collapsed head first into the water, the last thing he saw, a glinting gold droplet rushing away along the shallows
I pretty much loved the whole of the second half, especially the description of the abbess' diseased face, which was wonderfully grotesque.

My only minor nitpick is the comma splice (?) in the above two sentences. At least I think that's what they are.

Anyway that's me done, and thanks for giving me a good excuse to procrastinate :ROFLMAO:. Hope you found something useful in all my ramblings!
 

tinkerdan

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#7
All of that and then::

And then nothing.

I often do something similar and try to then figure out how necessary those last three words are.

Perhaps it should end.
....

or with just a blank at the end of a page.

How necessary are those last three words.
They can't be the POV at that point.

Just a thought.

As I said...I do the same in my work.
 

thaddeus6th

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#8
As ever with critiques, I deliberately haven't read the thoughts of anyone else. Now, let's get eviscerating.

‘I shall oversee the duty of settling into the rooms. Our traveling possessions are but few,’ Ealdwine said. - travelling*

missed evidence of Brother Rowan’s corpse. - style only, but maybe 'signs'? You're obviously writing in a somewhat ye olde way (without making things a chore to read) and 'evidence' sounds a little CSI.

Gilbert ran into the reredorter and exited to the river. The abbess was already there with two surly monks who he had not yet seen, nor recognised now. - whom*

Additionally, Neot - clearly alive and well - crouched as if ****ting on the frozen banks of the River Cran, itself a frosted iron mirror below which treacherous currents fought. - a little overlong. If Neot's clearly alive and well we don't need to be told that. Quite like the frozen river imagery but it does slow things.

‘Gilbert!’ He heard - argh. Axe this. He must have heard it. If a line of dialogue isn't heard from the POV character's perspective it doesn't exist.

He screamed, his nose connecting with the stonework of the doorway, and his heart quickened to hammer against his chest bones. - connecting? Surely something like 'breaking beneath the impact'? It's not a collision of equal forces or a high five, his face is getting smacked into stone. Similarly, add either a dull ache or trickle of hot blood (could contrast with the nocturnal cold).

river bank - style only, but could be riverbank

‘Bring him to me and remove this howling cur from my sight,’ she said, and he was dragged, feet all a-skitter by the brothers holding him. Once they reached the abbess, he was dropped like a stone. As he recovered, caught his breath and looked up, the wails of brother Neot diminished into the distance. - how? Neot's presumably being dragged away. Just add a little about that.

‘On their lives, I’ll oath!’ - contraction, so you may want to axe it.

He had no interest in saving his name, no interest in making clear these muddy waters. All he could think of was myriad ways in which his wife and babe had met with foul play; that he were a disposable asset of the abbess, and therefore his family were somehow earmarked, too. - small suggestion, but the mixture of money and lives being little account means you could have some sort of reference to lives just being numbers in a ledger, or weighing lighter in the scales than gold. Just a thought.

He skittered away from her, shaking his hands, as if touching her rotten mask would be sufficient to infect and kill him. - like this.

And while this happened, - axe.

She hammered down on his shoulders, sending him to his knees in a perversion of pious gratitude before her, and then she swung her arm across and sent him twisting in the air, spinning around, and falling on his chest, his head smashing through the ice. - not sure this makes sense. If he's kneeling beneath her, a strike across his body would send him to the ground, not the air.

Trying to turn, to find some position of advantage over the attacking abbess, he was not fleet enough, and a crack which he felt rather than heard, spread across the back of his head. - make more visceral. His skull's just been split.
*

General thoughts: can feel a bit distant. Lots of cold imagery but no chill, misted breath. Likewise, a monastery might be a good place for herb smells from the garden or musty books.

If Gilbert is running away then I'd add something about Neot that might make him reconsider or put him in a dilemma, otherwise he does sound a bit dim and flighty.

Basic plot etc is fine, I like the grimness.
 

Phyrebrat

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#10
Hi,

Apologies for the delay in my response. Here are some of my thoughts and feedback etc.

This sort of confused me, imagery wise. 'Crouched as if ****ting' seems rather unnecessary when you could just say squatting, since I presume that's the position you're describing? But then you go on to say he's poised as if he's 'slipped and broken an ankle.' Which doesn't make sense to me because the last thing I'd do if I broke my ankle is squat? Surely you're much more likely to either be on your arse or sprawled on your hands and knees, depending on which way you've fallen? Just a minor thing but it kinda took me out of the moment.
Yep, you're right: changed.

Honestly, you could take all of this out and I don't think the story would be impacted. It kind of makes Gilbert seem indecisive, and to me it only serves to drag out the moment.
Noted. I wanted to underline Gilbert's good-egg-ness, his compulsion to help but I'll modify this. Thanks.

Now I don't know what kind of man Gilbert is, but this read odd to me. I think of a scream as a high-pitched wail, and I struggled to picture a man making that kind of noise right before his face is slammed into a wall. Maybe a curse, or a shout of surprise, or even no sound at all, because it happens so fast. Unless you're trying to paint him as especially effeminate, a scream doesn't really work here imo.
I always find men screaming/screeching adds depth for the very reasons you dislike. I think I came across it in Stephen King and it struck me as so base and visceral, it's stuck with me.

This makes it just a little more quick-fire without, in my humble opinion, losing either the tension or the reader's comprehension of the matter. Just something to chew on, in any case.
Yes, I liked your cleaner pacier version.

My only minor nitpick is the comma splice (?) in the above two sentences. At least I think that's what they are.
Thanks. Would you be able to help re how to punctuate it? I've never got my head around splices - even though I thought I had.

Anyway that's me done, and thanks for giving me a good excuse to procrastinate :ROFLMAO:. Hope you found something useful in all my ramblings!
You're welcome. And thank you for the comments and time.

Perhaps it should end.
....

or with just a blank at the end of a page.

How necessary are those last three words.
They can't be the POV at that point.

Just a thought.

As I said...I do the same in my work.
It's very funny you mention this. I brought this up, perhaps last year, when I wrote this scene's first incarnation. The general consensus was that it was out of POV but as a death, that was acceptable. I think strictly speaking you're right, but without it, I feel it loses some sadness. Thanks for the read and crit, TD.

'evidence' sounds a little CSI.
Yup. Changed. thanks.

who he had not yet seen, nor recognised now. - whom*
Thanks - I'm still not clear on the who/whom rules.

Additionally, Neot - clearly alive and well - crouched as if ****ting on the frozen banks of the River Cran, itself a frosted iron mirror below which treacherous currents fought. - a little overlong. If Neot's clearly alive and well we don't need to be told that. Quite like the frozen river imagery but it does slow things.
Yeah, I'm going to tweak and shorten this as per Apello's and your comments.

connecting? Surely something like 'breaking beneath the impact'? It's not a collision of equal forces or a high five, his face is getting smacked into stone.
This made me laugh. Poor Gilbert. You're more violent than even me :D. I can't even fathom why 'connecting' came out at the writing stage. It sounds altogether too, casual, too. I'll change, thanks.

river bank - style only, but could be riverbank
I prefer riverbank, too, but Scrivener wiggly lines it. It's simple enough to do a global project search and replace though, so I'll do that.

Neot's presumably being dragged away. Just add a little about that.
Yes. Thanks.

‘On their lives, I’ll oath!’ - contraction, so you may want to axe it.
This is a contraction I've allowed (having said no contractions in my OP). On a balance, is it really problematic, do you think, or can I get away with it?

And while this happened, - axe.
Thanks

and then she swung her arm across and sent him twisting in the air, spinning around, and falling on his chest, his head smashing through the ice. - not sure this makes sense. If he's kneeling beneath her, a strike across his body would send him to the ground, not the air.
She's swinging her arm backhand and sending him twisting and flying onto the frozen surface. I'll make it clearer it's a backhand.

spread across the back of his head. - make more visceral. His skull's just been split.
I'll try but I'm not one for over-egging the gore.

General thoughts: can feel a bit distant. Lots of cold imagery but no chill, misted breath. Likewise, a monastery might be a good place for herb smells from the garden or musty books.
Okay, Gilbert's been at the priory for nearly a week - the smellovision has diminished but does come up earlier in the tale. The priory's been deserted for a while, and it's a mystery. It's also deep winter and the garth is not near the reredorter so the smell of herbs etc would be minimal.

Thanks, Thad, some great points.

Are you happy with the ending?
Hi CTG, yep I am. I put this up as it was more polished than my usual (I usually put up first drafts rather than heavily edited things) and I wanted exactly the kind of feedback I've been given. If it was off by a country mile I'd've been disappointed but this is a good measure for me of how close I need to get.

pH
 

Appello

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#11
Thanks. Would you be able to help re how to punctuate it? I've never got my head around splices - even though I thought I had.
Oh gosh, sure! Happy to have a crack, though I can't promise my versions will be as good as yours :giggle:

For the first, I think I'd go with either:

He tried to turn, to find some position of advantage over the attacking abbess, but was not fleet enough, and a crack which he felt rather than heard spread across the back of his head.
or
He tried to turn, to find some position of advantage over the attacking abbess; not fleet enough, he staggered as a crack which he felt rather than heard spread across the back of his head.

And for the second my preference would be:

With that thought he collapsed head first into the water. The last thing he saw was a glinting gold droplet rushing away along the shallows, before the abbess's strong hand on the back of his head pushed him down, down.
But if you wanted to keep the original repetition, you could do something like:
With that thought he collapsed head first into the water. The last thing he saw was a glinting gold droplet rushing away along the shallows; the last thing he felt, the abbess’s strong hand on the back of his head pushing, down, down.

And thank you for the comments and time.
No worries at all!
 

Toby Frost

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#14
I think it reads very well. I'm not usually fond of old-style speech, so the fact that I didn't notice it after a while means you're onto a good thing. I would be very disappointed, though, if one of the later parts didn't include a village called "Gilbert's End".
 

Phyrebrat

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#15
I think it reads very well. I'm not usually fond of old-style speech, so the fact that I didn't notice it after a while means you're onto a good thing. I would be very disappointed, though, if one of the later parts didn't include a village called "Gilbert's End".
Thanks Toby. Much appreciated. I could corrupt Gilbert to ‘Gibbet’ which would work ;)

pH
 

Brian G Turner

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Highlands
#16
It's not a bad bit of writing - I think a couple of the more obviously clumsy points are called out in the replies above. The trouble is, so much of this scene depends on context we're not familiar with, so Gilbert's actions, circumstances, and motivations, aren't necessarily clear without that - which makes it hard to comment on any potential structural issues. Aside from that, no real problems, though a couple of things that did confuse me:

1. Gilbert was ready to flee, but didn't - I wasn't clear why he changed his mind to attack the abbess instead;
2. An abbess travelling with brothers rather than sisters? I figure this is explained earlier;
3. She calls for them to drag Gilbert to her while getting rid of that howling thing - which jarred, because she seemed to be referring to the same person on first read, so I had to re-read to understand she was probably referring to the two different people.
Also, yeah, I'd go for squatting. :)
 

HareBrain

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#17
I enjoyed this, and the voice seems pitched just about right to give an impression of the period without going OTT (e.g. use of "unseam"). Some things might be clearer with more context: for example we don't (I think) know time of day now nor how long since the abbess's arrival -- I assume this is the morning after she arrived, otherwise his internal comment about the night-freeze doesn't make much sense.

A few nitpicks:

He saw no cause for Neot’s anguish, and assumed he had slipped and broken an ankle.
That seems an unusually specific assumption given the meagre evidence.

Though he cared for the sounds of distress he had heard
I had to translate "cared for" away from "liked" to "was concerned about", which I presume is what you mean?

‘You will not need to take my word on this; you will meet them in your damnation, murderer of holy men!’
If she truly believes he is guilty of a horrible murder, isn't she showing a rare confidence in wanting to be left alone with him? (Though given her "uncommon strength" mentioned later, maybe it's justifiable.)

‘Maryam. Geoghan. What have you done?’ he screamed.
"he screamed" should probably come earlier, so we don't have to retcon the voice. Maybe "Maryam!" he screamed. "Geoghan! What have you done?"

Good stuff!
 

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