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> The Fateful Night, The Fourth entry
Alexander
post Mar 20 2008, 10:06 AM
Post #1


Wizard
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Joined: 8-February 05
From: Sorcerers Isle



Clouds of steam rose from the boiling pot as its contents rose slowly. A man leaped towards it quickly, leaving the carrot he was chopping up, and, as soon as the pot was within arm’s reach, he raised the lid, allowing the steam to exit the metal utensil. The apparent cook sighed in relief, wiping the sweat off of his brow.

Quickly, the cook jumped back to the carrot, taking up the knife again. In a few swift movements, he finished cutting the vegetable, then again leaped towards the pot, dumping the carrot bits inside.

“Cidius! Where is the Count’s soup?” A voice came from upstairs. The cook, who was indeed the same Cidius, shot an angry glare at the doorway.

“Almost ready! I’ll have it in a second!” He yelled, grabbing a wooden spoon. Gods damnit, I hate that steward ‘Cidius, soup there!’ ‘Cidius, meat there!’ I’d like to see him cook a supper… Or maybe no, or we’d all die from it. The Imperial grumbled under his nose, mixing the contents of the pot with the spoon. After a minute or so, he scooped some of the supposed soup, taking a sip.

With a nod of approval, he again covered the pot, put on his gloves, then grabbed the utensil. Carefully, he carried it towards the staircase, which led up to the main hall.

“CIDIUS!” The same voice yelled again, its owner obviously getting impatient.

“I’M COMING!” Cidius yelled back, his irritation growing. Trying not to spill the soup, he climbed up the stone stairs, entering the main hall.

Compared to Cidius’ cramped little kitchen, the main hall was a huge room, yet it could be considered small if compared to the great hall of Skingrad. Still, most of the inhabitants of Kvatch have never seen Skingrad, so it seemed to be large enough for them.

The hall was built entirely of stone, as was most of the castle. It was dominated by a large, T-shaped table in the middle, of which the horizontal end was raised, reserved for the Count and his family. The lower end of the table was left entirely for the servants.

The walls of the hall were decorated with various paintings, mostly those of Kvatch and the Count. Behind the throne-like chair (which was obviously reserved for the Count himself) hung the Coat of Arms of Kvatch, surrounded by various trophy weapons and shields.

Cidius huffed, hurrying towards the upper end of the table, in an attempt of getting rid of the pot before he dropped it. Fortunately, that was avoided, and the soup was safely on the table after a few moments after the cook entered the hall.

“Finally.” A rather annoyed voice came from behind Cidius – the same one that yelled at him when he was still down in his kitchen. With a sigh, the cook turned around, to face the steward of Castle Kvatch – Jierrar D’Linnoi.

The steward was a Breton (as could be guessed from his name), one that could’ve been considered attractive if it wasn’t for his ghastly pale skin, and unnaturally bright green eyes that dominated the gaunt face.

It seemed as if he was made up of entirely skin and bones – no traces of muscle could be seen on the entire body of the rather tall (for a Breton, that is) man. This, combined with the afore-mentioned features, made Jierrar appear at least ten years older than he truly was – most of the people would’ve said he’s fifty, whereas in truth, Jierrar was thirty-eight.

Maybe it was because of his appearance, maybe it was because of his rather impatient and easily annoyed nature, or maybe it was a combination of both, but Jierrar wasn’t very well-liked amongst the people in the castle. Even the Count himself seemed to be irritated with his steward sometimes. However, Jierrar was a good steward, and there was no reason to fire him.

At the current moment, though, Cidius didn’t need any other reason for Jierrar to be fired than the Breton’s very existence.

“It took you long enough to get a soup up here… Make sure you go about your duties faster next time, Cidius.” The steward frowned, then turned around. A soon as he did, Cidius rolled his eyes.

’Blah blah blah, I’m an idiot of a steward…’

However, his thoughts were cut short when people began walking into the great hall, in smaller or larger groups, usually formed by people of the same profession. Thus, intending not to stand out, Cidius took a seat, and began staring at the empty plate in front of him.

His stomach grumbled silently, protesting at the fact that Cidius was working with various foods for the entire day, yet ate only four or so hours ago, if the chewing of a stone-thick bread loaf could be called eating.

Old Goldwine better hurry up... I’m starving. Again, Cidius’ stomach grumbled, this time slightly louder. At this, the cook frowned, trying not to attract the attention of one of the housemaids that took a seat next to him.

Apparently, his prayers were listened to, as the main doors of the hall were almost kicked open, and, his appearance announced by the sound of a trumpet, the Count of Kvatch walked in, making his way towards the seat at the middle of the horizontal part of the table – the throne-like chair that was mentioned before.

As soon as he was firmly sitting in his seat, Count Goldwine glanced at his assembled, half-starving court.

“Let the feast begin!”

---------

Cidius yawned, making his way through the dark, empty street. Oh, dear, I’m full… Cidius, you’ve did it again, you’ve cooked another brilliant supper… he smiled in satisfaction, before yawning again as the hot wine and food did its work.

Fortunately, my old cottage ain’t so far away from the castle… At least I won’t need to spend the night in a barrel, or something. Or sleep in the castle, like our idiot steward… Seriously, who would ever live in his workplace…? His thoughts drifted away after another yawn, to be replaced with the dreams of a warm, comfortable bed.

However, those thoughts were also soon replaced by others after Cidius heard some sort of a rumble.

Hell, I sure hope it’s a storm… I always sleep better during a storm. He smiled lazily. This smile was wiped off soon, after he heard something else.

From the direction of the city gate, a silent screech of some sort came. It was unlike anything Cidius had heard – it certainly didn’t sound like a screech caused by a Human, Elf or Beast-human.

Heh… Must be my imagination. I shouldn’t have taken so much- Cidius attempted to calm himself with this thought, but all hopes of calming down were lost after another rumble came, this one clearly from the direction of the city gate,

What the hell is going on here? He couldn’t help but feel how his heartbeat rate increased. Cidius rose up his eyes, hoping to see black clouds that would calm him down.

However, what he saw certainly didn’t call him down.

The sky above him, above all of Kvatch, was blood-red. No sign of night was left, even the Moons were gone – only red, red sky, and red, red clouds. From time to time, a rumble could be heard, coming from the skies, and not the city gates. However, these rumbles were different – they sounded exactly like thunder.

A third of those odd rumbles came, again from the direction of the gates, and Cidius could clearly see now – it was different from the rumbles in the skies, much different. More… threatening, it seemed.

Cidius, get a hold of yourself…You certainly took too much wine, this’s probably all a dream… Sweat began pouring down the cook’s brow slowly. As he moved his hand up to clean it off, however, he heard a noise that made him loose all hope of waking up from this.

Again the same rumble came from the direction of the gates… Only louder, much louder. It couldn’t be anything good, and it certainly wasn’t only Cidius’ eyes and ears – he could see candles being lit up in several windows, even several doors opened.

“What’s going on here?”

“Dad, what’s the red light outside?”

“Stand back, civilian...” Cidius felt someone shove him to the left slightly. He turned his head to see a watchman, reaching out for his sword as he looked at the direction of the gates.

What the hell is- Yet, not for the first time this night, Cidius’ thoughts were cut short, this time by an enormously loud roar of some sort. After it, all stayed quiet for a few moments.

The silence did not last long.

Cidius could only feel the guard push him to the cold stone street, milliseconds after he heard an explosion, once again from the direction of the city gates. Moments later, Cidius realized why the guard pressed him to the ground – a large piece of wood, previously belonging to the gate, landed nearby them, sending bricks flying in all directions.

As soon as he felt the guard was no longer on top of him, Cidius leaped up, looking at the direction from which the object came. And gasped in awe.

A large creature of some sort was climbing over the walls, spitting out fireballs, destroying everything… It looked like something that landed in Kvatch straight from someone’s nightmare.

“Civilian!” Cidius was distracted from the creature briefly as the watchman addressed him loudly, trying to be heard over all the noise that was caused by the appearance of this monster – yells, shouts, commands to the watchmen…

The cook only barely managed to turn his head away from the terrifying sight – his brains seemed to be paralyzed. Still, he forced himself to listen o the guard in front of him, realizing he had to show at least some attention – after all, the man just saved his bloody life.

“You need to get to the Chapel of Akatosh, civilian! Wait there!” With that yell, the guard ran towards the direction of the monster, finally unsheathing his sword.

Almost instinctively, Cidius moved towards the direction of the large tower that stuck out from the rest of the buildings. It seemed as if he wasn’t the only one heading there, but he didn’t care – the only thing in his head now was the gigantic monster that appeared out of nowhere, and began destroying his home.

The first step turned out very hard to take, yet after that, Cidius easily began running towards the Chapel. He didn’t know if he’d be able to stop, yet he didn’t care – now that he was able to turn away from the monster, the only thing he wanted to do was run, hide somewhere where that thing wouldn’t reach him…

The Chapel seemed to be very close to his previous position. The massive doors were already open, apparently by the doing of one of the priests, who was currently wildly waving his arms, urging everyone to get inside.

As Cidius passed the priest, a part of his brain recognized the man. Martin… That part whispered, yet the rest of him didn’t care. The only thing the rest of him cared about was running and hiding…

Last thing Cidius saw was Martin running out of the Chapel, probably to help someone get inside. After that, all of it finally got to him. He didn’t even realize he was falling down – at least not until the hard stone floor hit against his brow, and then, blackness claimed him.


--------------------
All that is needed for evil to triumph, is that good men stand idle.
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Alexander
post Mar 20 2008, 10:07 AM
Post #2


Wizard
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Joined: 8-February 05
From: Sorcerers Isle



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All that is needed for evil to triumph, is that good men stand idle.
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post Mar 24 2008, 01:54 AM
Post #3


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Joined: 23-March 08



Dude works as a cook, witnesses the invasion of Kvatch, dodges flying bricks and hides in a chapel.

You could have described the invasion. That would have been good. But instead you give us Cidius, and with it a claustrophobic run-for-your-life that doesn't touch us because there's no element of danger, and we don't care about the guy anyway, because he doesn't deliver his soup on time.
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post Mar 24 2008, 05:18 AM
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Joined: 23-March 08



I doubt that describing the invasion itself would have produced a better result than I what I thought was a very solid if not virtuosic piece. Or, if I might be a cruel mimic:

Oblivion gate springs up, daedra pour out, siege engine knocks over chapel tower, lots of people die.

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post Mar 24 2008, 11:02 AM
Post #5


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Joined: 23-March 08



I liked this, it took a different angle on the invasion rather than bland description it gave it a more human face. It was more immediate for it and drew the reader deeper.

This piece might have worked well in first person but thats very much a matter of personal taste.

Only negative side is that you could perhaps have given more danger and excitment with a couple of deaths or perhaps given it a deeper meaning which can often be a great support to short pieces (though your plot made up for it fine).

Overall one of my favourites. smile.gif
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post Mar 24 2008, 06:03 PM
Post #6


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Joined: 23-March 08



I don't know, this piece feels very documentary-like. Like I am watching scenario of some doomsday event on Discovery, from the eyes of a bystander. While I find such perspective decent and interesting, we are too hung upon the cooking bit and it seems like pointless dragging.

In essence, "dude" spends his first half of the evening blandly, like we all do in our lives, with a mixture of good and bad things, and then in the other half of it everything goes KABOOM. I just wish the "bland" part of the story was bit shorter. The rest, including obligatory mentioning of "important" people (Martin), is decent.
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post Mar 24 2008, 06:26 PM
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Joined: 23-March 08



Plot: We're presented with a cook who doesn't much enjoy his job, and who attempts to survive a Daedric attack. I believe the first part is supposed to show us a slice of life's dullness that pervaded Kvatch, but the way it's done, you end up almost cheering for the Daedra to take them out of their misery.

Characters: They're comical instead of human. For instance, "With that yell, the guard ran towards the direction of the monster, finally unsheathing his sword." Poor guard, attacking a gigantic monster with merely a sword. Would anyone really attempt such a feat?

Language: The language is funny. The writer uses some amusing cliches that we all use at some points in our early development ("as its contents rose slowly," "milliseconds after," "bricks flying in all directions"), but for us in the know, they add a humorous side that isn't so needed. Unfortunately, Rule #1 of writing isn't in high regard here, i.e. show, don't tell. It's cute, though, so props for that. ("However, Jierrar was a good steward, and there was no reason to fire him.")

Depth: There could have been depth, but ultimately, Cidius is a wooden character. We could have been told what happened in the Chapel, for instance, or what he really felt, but all we're told is that he's afraid. As though he's like an ingame NPC that goes from one state to another just because of a script.

Overall, I do like it and I'd say it was funny, even though that's probably not what the writer intended.
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post Mar 24 2008, 06:44 PM
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Joined: 23-March 08



Carrots don't cook that quickly. 15 minutes of boiling or less steaming. This might not seem very important, but it does jar a little for me.

Why compare the room with somewhere the characters had never been? Seems unnecessary.
Some clumsy sentence structure that could be improved through revision.
The use of brackets spoils the story because it feels like an aside to camera – pulls the reader from the story.

“the throne-like chair that was mentioned before.” This makes me cringe. Perhaps it should read “ornate chair” or something along those lines. By stating it was mentioned before makes the reader stop and go back, and this spoils the narrative.

I feel that there was too much going on in Cidius' head and we didn't need to know all this, some of it seemed overkill.

I was just getting into this story when it ended. Perhaps the first part of setting up Cidius as a fully formed character took too long and because of that the rest of the plot suffered. I liked the second half of the story much more than the first. More happened here and it really began to have some atmosphere. I would have like to read more from the end rather than the set-up.

Some of the grammar and syntax needs improving but this could be done with a thorough edit. To sum up, second half interesting but too much internal character's thoughts in the first half. 4th place for me.
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