Orn's Tale (600 words)

Luiglin

by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
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Hi folks, this is part for an apparent requirement of getting past 2k posts that you need to pip something up to be critiqued.

I'm working on a collection of shorts based around a group of four characters;
  • Gil, human ex-King of the Goblins
  • Nael, a barbarian youth just out of college
  • Bro, the world's only talking bardic dog
  • and, Orn, a mage of dubious courage and power
They exist in the same world as the Dark Lord and have cropped up as passing characters in that tale. I had so much fun writing the section they were in that I had to spin them off. The below is the opening section of Orn's Tale, a solo piece concerning the erstwhile mage.

As normal good, bag and ugly comments welcome :)

Cheers Luigin.

PS: anyone of DnD experience may spot an obvious thing I've pinched ;p

~~~

Orn had decided long ago that fate had it in for him. Not the nice, fluffy sort. No, the kind that if you were playing cards and had a top hand of four crowns, your opponent would have four wild card jesters… when the deck should only have had two.

Knowing that the Gods spread fate around by managing it in weekly doses only seemed to prove his point. Whether good or bad, they always seemed to make sure that his dollop of destiny came from the backside of a celestial cow who had been fed a good dose of emetics.

He rummaged inside his bag of components once again, just in case he’d missed the frost daisy that the ice bolt spell required. Everything else he had, but the dried flower head remained conspicuous by its absence.

A gurgling cackle echoed through the chamber. It sounded like someone being drowned in custard and finding it hilarious. It should not have been frightening. Should not have turned his insides to fighting amongst themselves in an effort to escape. Should not have made his fingers suffer from a serious lack of any sort of coordination. Custard, that delicious of desserts. Laughter, that infectious mood of unadulterated joy. Yet, combined together… a hideous combination.

Orn supposed the fact that his mind’s eye the vision of Old Widow Mugg, a swamp hag of notable wickedness, naked warts and all (quite literally in her case), played a major part.

He had a thing about old women. Being raised by three Grannies didn’t help, even more so when no one would ever say why there were three of them to start with. Orn reckoned that their Granniness — if there were not a term, then he’d have happily submitted it to be accepted — had been exponentially increased due to their constant close proximity to each other. Growing up had consisted of whiskered kisses from prune shaped lips; copious amounts of cod liver oil delivered from a rusty spoon; home sowed clothes made from remnants of moth bitten curtains; and every single piece of his skin adorned with red raw claw marks from Fuddles, a cat with the patience of a saint that had lost his way.

As soon as he’d been able, he had left, taking with him the only gift they had ever given him, a talent for manipulating the essence of The Art. Magic to anyone else. Oh, and the ability to make a humbug mint last all day.

Orn switched the slither of humbug around from one cheek to the other and considered his options. One, stay in his hiding spot and hope Old Widow Mugg would not find him. Two, make a run for it and hope that his skinny legs had more muscle than hers. Three, make a fight of it with whatever he could find in his spell bag.

One, like all Granny based entities, Old Widow Mugg had eyes in the back of her head, and once within range, his hiding place stood no chance. Two, she may have been skinnier than him but he had no doubt that her wiriness could only be due to the muscles shrinking to a core of infinite energy. Three, he rammed his hand in the bag and grabbed the first thing, hoping fate would be on his side. He should have known better.

A piece of wicker.

Great, now he could teleport from his hiding spot to a random basket. Perfect for any laundry, not so good when the sole hiding spot he could fit in had been the rooms only basket.
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
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Congrats again on the 2,000!

This was fun! This very much reminded me of the piece you put up with the dwarf PI, and I had much the same reaction. I enjoyed it for its humour but to me it felt it was trying a bit too hard to be funny, as if you weren't convinced it was humorous enough so you were throwing everything at it. You have a real comic talent which shows in your writing and I think you should trust to it more without over-egging it.

Also for my taste it spent a little too much time on backstory we don't need eg about his grannies and not enough on information we do need eg why Old Widow Mugg is after him, though we don't need the whole story, just some hints as to what he's done or why fate has dropped him into this particular predicament. I'd also like to have some more detail about setting and especially where he is. Although you use the word "chamber" early on I'd forgotten it by the time I got to the last line which then confused me -- for some reason I was picturing him hiding in a cave! (It's early and I've not had my morning coffee yet!)

There are some typos you'll have to pick up on an edit eg "rooms only" should be "room's only" with the apostrophe and it's "home-sewn" not "sowed".

Good luck with the stories!
 

Luiglin

by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
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Cheers both.

I suspect I get over excited with the daft ideas that pop into my head - the three Grannies being an obvious example. That started out as a throwaway line in alluding to the three witches of Macbeth. I had to extend it to give some sort of reason to the reader why Orn disliked old women. It could with being chopped down a bit though.

As to Old Widow Mugg and why she is after Orn? That is coming next. I wanted the scene to start in the middle of the action and go from there. This would also include a more detailed show of his location. I did have his hiding basket explained at the start but took it out as it ruined the end spell joke.

PS the Basket Spell is actually taken from Dungeons and Dragons and is useless. In game all it allows the wizard to do is teleport from their current location to a nearby random basket :LOL:

PPS @The Judge - thanks for pointing out the sowing thing. That just never clicked.
 
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Capricorn42

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Hi @Luiglin , I liked your story and the jokes were pretty good :)

There are a couple of things:

"Orn had decided long ago that fate had it in for him. Not the nice, fluffy sort. No, the kind that.."

Not sure what 'sort' refers to here.

"Knowing that the Gods spread fate around by managing it in weekly doses only seemed to prove his point."

I'm a bit lost here. He knows that fate is 'spread around' in 'weekly doses' but how that does prove the point that fate has it in for him?

"He rummaged inside his bag of components once again, just in case he’d missed the frost daisy.."
Here you're saying he's not sure if the frost daisy is there. You then go on to say that he knows it's not there.

"Orn supposed the fact that his mind’s eye the vision of Old Widow Mugg,..."
This needs tidying up a little.

"He had a thing about old women. Being raised by three Grannies didn’t help, ..."
The first sentence made me laugh, it could be interpreted in so many ways. The second didn't follow so well, as I don't know what being raised by 3 grannies didn't help with. Perhaps the first sentence needs to be more specific as to what his hangup actually is.

All in all it was an easy read and it made me laugh, so it gets a thumbs up from me.
 

Luiglin

by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
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Cheers for the feedback @Capricorn42 and I'm glad it raised a chuckle.

I suspect most the stuff you picked out I'll pick up on the edit, so I'll keep you points stored.
 

svalbard

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Drowning in custard brings up a dilemma for me. I love custard but hate drowning.

A really good piece. Very easy to read and Orn seems like a relatable protagonist.
 

BT Jones

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Love it, @Luiglin. This is the deft level of humour I have come to expect from your challenges (and, I should say, is conspicuously absent from Gorig Cross!).

Orn supposed the fact that his mind’s eye the vision of Old Widow Mugg, a swamp hag of notable wickedness, naked warts and all (quite literally in her case), played a major part.
Apart from the above sentence, which I had to read 3 times and still wasn't 100% sure how it was supposed to read, I can't find fault. Honestly, it's reads like a lot of fun and is a story I would happily digest.
 

Luiglin

by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
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@BT Jones cheers and yes, nothing like the grimness of Gorig Cross.

I have to agree with that sentence you picked out. I struggled to get over what I wanted to say and in the end left it because I needed my bed. I can hear exactly what I want it to be in my head but the words on the page just sound plain awkward.
 

msstice

200 words a day = 1 novel/year
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I liked reading this. Has a kind of Terry Pratchett feel to it. It flowed well and was entertaining. I found the piece great as it was.
 

BT Jones

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@BT Jones cheers and yes, nothing like the grimness of Gorig Cross.

I have to agree with that sentence you picked out. I struggled to get over what I wanted to say and in the end left it because I needed my bed. I can hear exactly what I want it to be in my head but the words on the page just sound plain awkward.
Alas, Stuart, we all have those moments. At least your mental roadblock was restricted to just one line. Some of us have whole chapters...
o_O
 
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Short stories are fundamentally different from novels in that they must be fast off the mark. The writer can't waste space on extraneous verbiage, lengthy character descriptions, digressions, or philosophizing.

This piece achieved all that. Short, snappy (and clever) descriptions. Intriguing, unexpected imagery. And of course the humor. I like it!

About all I can supply for improvement would be some minor edits --

* Orn supposed the fact that his mind’s eye the vision --> Orn supposed the fact that in his mind’s eye the vision
or --> Orn supposed the fact that his mind’s eye vision [remove "the"]
* rooms only --> room's only
* should Granny be capitalized?

Overall: The gentle humor really puts this over the top as superior storytelling. Nice work.
 

Luiglin

by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
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Cheers @autoretscriptor for the feedback.

I'm glad that the humour is understandable and 'got'able, if that makes sense. I've not always hit the mark.
 

SonicSouls

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I like the idea behind your opening. The metaphor of “your opponent would have four wild card jesters… when the deck should only have had two,” is an interesting take on unkind fate. It implies that fate is in some way cheating. However, perhaps you could work the card metaphor into the character. The story mostly focused on his relationship with older people. So, perhaps to lend greater focus it could be reworded to tie into that. Also, I feel like the first sentence was a generic hook. Perhaps moving the aforementioned metaphor to be the first line would be better. For example, a revision could be:
“Fate to Oln was like playing cards, with him having a top hand of four crowns, and his opponent having four wild card jesters in a deck with two.”
Although the general concept is the same, it’s more engaging than “Oln had decided long ago that fate had it in for him.” Additionally, it avoids repetition since the metaphor partially said what the first line already stated. This ties into my second point. The background about his feelings of fate could be condensed, or spread out through the story. Perhaps the story opening could be along these lines:
“Fate to Oln was like playing cards, with him having a top hand of four crowns, and his opponent having four wild card jesters in a deck with two. He recalled this as he rummaged through his bag yet again. Where was that frost daisy? Everything else was here except for what he needed for the ice bolt spell. The Gods’ weekly dose of fate had become apparent. Twas a dollop of destiny from the backside of a celestial cow, again.”
This gets to the action while still giving backstory. It still needs revision, and you’re free to do as you please. But I would suggest spreading out spreading out the feelings of fate for better pacing. In general, I would suggest condensing details like his relationship with his “grannies”. But I liked the general feeling of the story. The ending though engaging, felt like the beginning of a longer story. Perhaps you could expand upon this. I look forward to seeing what you write next.
 

Edoc'sil

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Nice work Loughlin, I love the DnD reference. Your writing reminds me of my favourite author Terry Prachett, it has that sense of whimsical knowledge and made me snort laugh a couple of times which is high praise. Orn also reminds me of my favourite character of his Rincewind, I expect you already know of him, if not, I implore you to search it out.

I agree with most of the corrections that others have given you apart from capricorn's mention of the "Sort", I knew what you were referring to, doesn't seem out of place to me.

I look forward to reading more and, as with any writing, that is the highest praise of all!
 
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