Chronicles Of The Shorewalker - Book Four - Chapter 8

Shorewalker

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Long time, so speak, people. Missed this place but...real life and all that.

I've been off most things for around eight months but have finally got back in the saddle as far as the writing is concerned. The break has made me feel...a little weird...as to my output. I feel like I'm getting into the zone again but not sure whether I'm kidding myself. This extract of 1,056 words is deep into book four of my epic fantasy series so there won't be much in the way of plot explanation/character descriptions. All comments will be gratefully received and thanks in advance.




Ana Pal Mer was the largest port on the northern coast of Allulor and possibly the most cosmopolitan of all the great Allulorian cities. Sprawling across two huge, deep-water bays, it was a seething pot of caravan guides and merchants, longshoremen and sailors, council officials and innkeeps, musicians, whores, dancers and tribal royalty. Along its wharfs were moored galleons and clippers, caravels and cogs, frigates and barques, the flags and sails that flapped limply in the sluggish breeze draping the docks with a kaleidoscope of colour. Bordering the harbour road and all through the city’s thoroughfares were dozens of markets, scores of bazaars and hundreds of smoke shops. It was said that the uproar that filled Ana Pal Mer’s sweltering streets could be heard ten leagues distant, a legend that its denizens appeared to take great pride from.


To Reikou M’tal, it all looked dirty and weary, a cesspit of venality and greed that reeked to the heavens of sweat, spices, human waste and camel dung.


To Kercha Habo, it appeared as a wonderland, a place of new and magical sights and sounds that both frightened and delighted in equal measure.


“Good day, Reikou M’tal. Can we go and see the puppets again?”


Appearing as though from nowhere at Reikou’s side, Kercha tugged at the sleeve of his linen shirt and raised wide, pleading eyes. She had somehow found him in the throngs that pushed and shoved through the tight street lined with stalls and tiny shop fronts. Reikou took her shoulder and guided her past the donkey that was having no truck with its driver’s instructions and looked about to start kicking. He gently led her into the slim mouth of an alleyway, rainbow-striped birds singing away from the cages that were hung along its length.


“The puppets?” He smiled tightly as he peered through the sea of head scarfs, turbans and colourful headdresses for sight of Kanal of Yos and Fahad Ellawaya. Between the tightness of the press and the steamers of smoke from the cooking braziers and tabac shops, he could see neither. Once again, it appeared that Kercha had given her escort the slip.


“It’s the same show every afternoon,” he said absently. Kercha insisted on being his tiny shadow, but this day, he had wanted her to remain in the company of her guardians. It seemed that his hopes had been dashed and so he shielded her as they pushed back into the crush. “You must have seen it so many times that you could put the show on yourself.”


In her white shift – which she always managed to get grubby before noon arrived on any given day – Kercha was looking here and there, everything an intriguing novelty. She stopped before a canvas-shrouded stall selling nuts and fruit and began sifting through the wares with a critical eye.


“The end is different every time, though,” she said. “One day it’s the monkey who finds the crown, another it’s the lion or even the snake.”


Her brows came down. “Sometimes, nobody finds it but I’m not sure what the lesson is in that?” She brightened as she chose a pair of soft purple fruit and held out a small hand to Reikou. Her smile was wide and innocent. “Please?”


The turbaned stallholder waved at Reikou, his face splitting into an ingratiating smile that revealed two missing front teeth. “If you buy five, sir, I’ll give you a good deal.”


“Up until a moment ago, I had no intention of buying any. Why would I suddenly require five?”


The smile widened further. “Because it will keep your daughter happy.”


Reikou was about to set the trader straight but bit back on the comment. Kercha was not his daughter but she was an orphan, left in the care of an elderly aunt. She had certainly attached herself to him as though he were close family and for his part, he had taken to the girl as she had to him. She was smart and witty and there was a streak of stubborn running through her as thick as a ship’s beam.


She’s also possibly the most powerful mage I’ve ever encountered.


He slipped a couple of bits from the pouch at his waist and handed them to Kercha. “Take the five but make them last. If you eat them all at once, you’ll be regretting it.”


The young girl’s expression suggested he was teaching his grandmother how to knit a shawl. He held back from reminding her that she had done precisely what he was warning against on the way north from Kallisandra.


And hadn’t that been an enjoyable couple of days?


As Kercha began haggling with the stallholder – she was clearly not willing to give up her two bits without a fight – Reikou felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned and looked into the sweat-sheened face of Kanal of Yos, the grizzled veteran blowing hard and appearing as though he might keel over at any moment.


“She’s…damned…fast,” Kanal said, leaning his weight on Reikou. “And tricky. Very, very…tricky.”


Kanal put his hands on his knees and bent his head. “Get a younger man for childminding,” he mumbled. “I resign.”


“Where are we going, then?” asked Kercha brightly, juice from the fruit running down her chin.


Reikou attempted to plaster a stern look on his face. “We aren’t supposed to be going anywhere. I was heading to see Captain N’goti. I need to check whether we’re ready to set sail with the morning tide.”


Kercha’s smile faded as she drew her lips into a straight line. “We better had be. We’ve got demons to kill.”


Reikou felt a ball of guilt form in his gut. The words were so incongruous, given their source. A slight girl, Kercha was eleven years old and more innocent than her scruffy peers who ran yelling through the streets of Ana Pal Mer.


And yet she had already met the demons and killed many of their number.


No, not killed. She annihilated them. Unfortunately, our need is so dire that we need her to annihilate many more.


“If I let you come with me, do you promise to behave with decorum?”


Kercha’s expression was blank. “I don’t really know what that means,” she grinned, “but I promise anyway.”


I suppose that’s the best I can hope for.
 

msstice

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I enjoyed reading it! There is a certain amount of exposition here that could be traded for more punchy descriptions (i..e you could hide the exposition a bit better in another revision). The passage is great for developing the relationship between the girl and the man. The implied tension at the end - that the girl is young and innocent, but is needed for deadly and dangerous acts, could be developed a bit better without the exposition.

Great job! Keep writing!
 

Shorewalker

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I enjoyed reading it! There is a certain amount of exposition here that could be traded for more punchy descriptions (i..e you could hide the exposition a bit better in another revision). The passage is great for developing the relationship between the girl and the man. The implied tension at the end - that the girl is young and innocent, but is needed for deadly and dangerous acts, could be developed a bit better without the exposition.

Great job! Keep writing!
Thank you kindly!

And I agree about the deadwood...it needs cutting down in 2nd draft.
 

Wayne Mack

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I assume that the intent of this section is to introduce two characters in a new setting. Kercha is an interesting character, because she is a mix of youthful innocence and murderous demon killing. Reikou, however, is only introduced as a name and has no defined relationship with Kercha. I felt the section felt like an arbitrary scene followed by a somewhat inexplicable info dump by the narrator.

The opening paragraph does a good job of setting the wide view of the city, however, the immediate description of what was surrounding Reikou was spread throughout the next half of the story. I found this distracting as I was constantly forced to rethink my image of where Reikou was instead of following his actions. I was also distracted because following the opening paragraph were two lines that head hopped from Reikou to Kercha without providing any insight into either. Reikou's secret mission got sort of lost by being jammed in at the end, I wonder if it would have worked better to lay this out before Kercha arrives. This would also give a chance to introduce Reikou as a character.

Given that two characters are being introduced, I wonder if the vendor and Kanal could be omitted. The only purpose of the vendor seems to be to allow Reikou to info dump on Kercha and Kanal does not help define the relationship between Reikou and Kercha. Perhaps having a confrontation between Reikou and Kercha would provide a better way to convey her backstory and also provide some indication of their relationship; Reikou is apparently providing money for some reason.

I liked Kercha as a character and she seems interesting. I didn't feel much connection with Reikou, even though he was the POV character, which seems a shame, as apparently these two are about to go adventuring together.
 

The Big Peat

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Ee, not bad, not bad.

I liked it but felt something was missing. There's a few clean up comments I could make (sprawling across two bays makes it sound like it's on the water, if that's not true maybe it should be around).

Having thought about it, and having looked at Wayne's comments, I feel that what's missing is a sense of direction and purpose. It's a pleasant tableau showing a lot of things but there's no consistent punch of "this is happening" or sense of building "the story is happening this way". Just little jabs of "this is happening, this is happening". Does that make sense?
 

Shorewalker

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I assume that the intent of this section is to introduce two characters in a new setting. Kercha is an interesting character, because she is a mix of youthful innocence and murderous demon killing. Reikou, however, is only introduced as a name and has no defined relationship with Kercha. I felt the section felt like an arbitrary scene followed by a somewhat inexplicable info dump by the narrator.

The opening paragraph does a good job of setting the wide view of the city, however, the immediate description of what was surrounding Reikou was spread throughout the next half of the story. I found this distracting as I was constantly forced to rethink my image of where Reikou was instead of following his actions. I was also distracted because following the opening paragraph were two lines that head hopped from Reikou to Kercha without providing any insight into either. Reikou's secret mission got sort of lost by being jammed in at the end, I wonder if it would have worked better to lay this out before Kercha arrives. This would also give a chance to introduce Reikou as a character.

Given that two characters are being introduced, I wonder if the vendor and Kanal could be omitted. The only purpose of the vendor seems to be to allow Reikou to info dump on Kercha and Kanal does not help define the relationship between Reikou and Kercha. Perhaps having a confrontation between Reikou and Kercha would provide a better way to convey her backstory and also provide some indication of their relationship; Reikou is apparently providing money for some reason.

I liked Kercha as a character and she seems interesting. I didn't feel much connection with Reikou, even though he was the POV character, which seems a shame, as apparently these two are about to go adventuring together.
Mack, thanks a lot for that.

I think half of the problem is that these are two characters already hugely involved in the story (it's deep into book four and Reikou has been around since book one, Kercha since mid book three) and this is scene-setting for what's about to happen. It's only the third time we've visited them in this book (it's a multi-POV epic across three continents) so I was attempting to just give gentle reminders before 'the event' of this scene.

It's going to happen to Kercha, hence the emphasis placed on her.
 

Shorewalker

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Ee, not bad, not bad.

I liked it but felt something was missing. There's a few clean up comments I could make (sprawling across two bays makes it sound like it's on the water, if that's not true maybe it should be around).

Having thought about it, and having looked at Wayne's comments, I feel that what's missing is a sense of direction and purpose. It's a pleasant tableau showing a lot of things but there's no consistent punch of "this is happening" or sense of building "the story is happening this way". Just little jabs of "this is happening, this is happening". Does that make sense?
Thanks a lot! Yes, the city is on the water!

As for the rest, this is only about 25% of the scene and Kercha's amiable nature and youth and innocence are going to be key to what happens in about five minutes.
 

Toby Frost

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I enjoyed this. I thought there were some nice turns of phrase ("The slim mouth of an alleyway") and I like the way that the different characters responded differently to the city. In the past, I've felt that Star Wars relies too heavily on generic "space Morocco" and I felt that the odd details, like the endings of the puppet show and the fruit, went some way to preventing that here. Given that it's out of context and a fair way into the story, I don't think it needs to be particularly "hooky" or to explain itself very much. Good stuff!
 

Shorewalker

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I enjoyed this. I thought there were some nice turns of phrase ("The slim mouth of an alleyway") and I like the way that the different characters responded differently to the city. In the past, I've felt that Star Wars relies too heavily on generic "space Morocco" and I felt that the odd details, like the endings of the puppet show and the fruit, went some way to preventing that here. Given that it's out of context and a fair way into the story, I don't think it needs to be particularly "hooky" or to explain itself very much. Good stuff!
Thank you so much, Toby!

I'm really pleased with you picking up on the small details as they are absolutely in there to give it real life.
 

redzwritez

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I really liked this. I think the pacing was good, especially at the start where you described Ana Pal Mer. The characters were also really well characterised. I haven't read anything else here (this is the first I've read on the critique boards) but I still feel like I got a lot of information about them and the overall story.
 

PadreTX

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The first paragraph was difficult for me to read through. A sentence came with numerous commas to read through. Then immediately after another sentence had many commas. One sentence was in the next sentence, although it could have had two commas. For me it would have been easier to read if at least two of those sentences were simple ones without the comma.

After that first paragraph, it became easier and enjoyable to read. I had an interest to find out what will happen to these two characters.
 

Shorewalker

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I really liked this. I think the pacing was good, especially at the start where you described Ana Pal Mer. The characters were also really well characterised. I haven't read anything else here (this is the first I've read on the critique boards) but I still feel like I got a lot of information about them and the overall story.
Thanks a lot!
 

Shorewalker

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The first paragraph was difficult for me to read through. A sentence came with numerous commas to read through. Then immediately after another sentence had many commas. One sentence was in the next sentence, although it could have had two commas. For me it would have been easier to read if at least two of those sentences were simple ones without the comma.

After that first paragraph, it became easier and enjoyable to read. I had an interest to find out what will happen to these two characters.
OK, that's a bit of editing required at the front end...thanks for the feedback!
 

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