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Scavenger - 1.3



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Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:23 pm
Twit says...



Three

They slept that night at another inn. This one was bigger and cleaner, but after what had happened at the last inn, Quennel wasn’t ready to entrust his hybrid to the stables again.

‘A quiet room,’ he said to the landlord. ‘Do you have one near the back? So that people don’t get…’ He trailed off and nodded sagely.

The landlord didn’t seem to appreciate sage gestures. ‘So that what?’ he demanded. ‘I keep a respectable inn, I do, and if you’re going to make trouble –’

‘Nothing of the kind.’ Quennel leaned forward confidentially. The landlord had come out to the cart per Quennel’s request, and was leaning against the side. Quennel attempted to take his arm, but the landlord shrugged him off.

‘Look,’ Quennel said. ‘I got a hybrid. You can see that.’

The landlord looked down at the Raven and wrinkled his nose. ‘Ugly thing, ain’t it?’

‘It may not win any beauty prizes, but it’ll win me a fortune. So I don’t want to leave it in your stable, do I? What if something happens to it?’

‘My stable –’

‘Is one of the finest around, I don’t doubt. But I like to keep an eye on it, so I’ll keep it in my room, and all’ll be fine. Just so long as our room is quiet and out of the way, see?’

The landlord saw. He shrugged. ‘Just don’t make no trouble, and I won’t say nothing.’

The Raven blinked at him and wondered at his negatives.

‘All right, bring it in.’ The landlord led the way into the inn. Morley and Quennel shielded the Raven from the eyes of the other customers, and they passed through the main room safely. Up a flight of stairs to a short corridor and the landlord opened a door to a room.

Morley dumped their bags on the floor, and the landlord said, pointing, ‘Water jug, bed, window… For thruppence.’

‘Where?’ the Raven asked.

The landlord actually jumped. ‘You never said it talked!’

‘You didn’t ask.’ Quennel gave her lead a jerk. ‘Where what?’

‘Where’s the four thruppence?’ She blinked at the landlord. ‘Kind landlord sir said water jug, bed, window, four thruppence. Water jug, bed, window.’ She pointed at each one in turn. ‘I don’t see four thruppence. Are they under the pillow?’ She made a dive at the bed, but Quennel hauled her back.

‘The thruppence is your payment!’ the landlord snapped. ‘Thruppence for one night and one night only.’

Quennel fished around in his pocket and handed him the small silver coin. ‘Don’t mind the hybrid. Half the time, what it says doesn’t mean anything.’

The landlord frowned, said curtly, ‘Well, mind you keep it under control,’ and left, closing the door with perhaps more vigour than was necessary.

Quennel tugged on her lead again to get her attention. ‘Try an’ use your loaf for once, eh, Raven?’

She wanted to say, Speaking of which, when’s dinner? but decided against it. Quennel had been pushed as far as he could tonight, and he was tired and sore from the long ride. A tired and sore Quennel was not a Quennel that allowed his exhibits backchat.

Morley said, ‘What about a drink and something to eat?’

‘You stay here and watch the hybrid. I’ll bring you both something up.’ Quennel went to the water jug and splashed his face. He tied the Raven’s lead to the bed rail and then went out the door.

Morley sat on the bed and began to take his boots off. The Raven sat on the floor, rested her head against the straw-stuffed mattress and flexed her shoulders. Morley dropped his boots on the floor next to her and she flinched. His feet smelt.

Morley began to whistle softly under his breath. She recognized the song and joined in, cheerfully out of tune. ‘Elizabeth Harley was a-going to church, to church, to church, Elizabeth Harley was a-going to church for to-o be wed.’

‘You’re out of tune,’ Morley said irritably, wriggling his toes in his dark blue woollen socks.

‘And you’re out of sorts.’ She twisted around and grinned at him.

He humphed. ‘You’ve cheered up since the last stop.’

‘I bounce,’ she told him sweetly. ‘And that was noon. Now it’s the evening. That was in a stable. Now it’s in a proper room. That was just after Quennel socked me round the ear. Now I’m untouched – so far. That was when –’

‘Shut up.’

She blinked pathetically. Morley began whistling again. She sat back against the bed and began playing with her fingers.

Quennel came back about half an hour later, bearing cakes and ale.

‘Can’t you stay with it now?’ Morley asked, chewing bread and mutton.

‘I’m still busy downstairs. And anyway, what d’you want to do down there? All the serving-people are either men or fat and old. Though I suppose that means they can’t afford to be choosy.’

Morley stared at Quennel’s grinning face and said, ‘Shut the hell up.’ He folded his bit of meat in the bread, got off the bed and went to the door.

‘What do you think you’re doing?’ Quennel sounded outraged.

‘Going downstairs to the fat and ugly serving maids.’ Morley slammed the door.

Quennel yanked it open again. ‘Morley!’ he yelled. Morley evidently ignored him, and Quennel came and sat down sulkily on the bed.

‘You annoyed him a bit too much,’ the Raven observed, digging a bit of gristle out from between her teeth.

Quennel ignored her comment and instead shoved a hunk of bread in his mouth.

She picked up the newspaper that Quennel had brought up along with the food and opened it. It was mostly local news about missing cows and crop rotation, but there was a small bit about the approaching marriage between Prince Thunor and the Vitelian princess Iuliana. The paper said that the marriage was ‘cementing the peace treaty between two old enemies.’ It seemed that half the people the Raven had heard talking about it were violently against the match, because of all that had happened in the wars, and the other half were violently endorsing it for the very same reason. She knew that Quennel didn’t have much of an opinion, either way. He said it wouldn’t affect them, no matter what happened. For the lower classes, life went on regardless of who was marrying who. She supposed they would hear a bit more about it in Selseaton, seeing as that was where the royal family lived for most of the year, but royal weddings didn’t interest her much, so she turned to the last page of the newspaper and read the Bill of Mortality for the last week instead.

It was dark by the time she had finished her own dinner. Morley still wasn’t back, and Quennel was still cross and silent. She polished off the stray crumbs and curled up on the floor. She could hear the sounds of festivity in the room below: the landlord demanding that someone pay their bill, a violin squawking a few notes, some drunk trying to start off a catch with his friends. She rested her head on her hand and went to sleep.

–––

The next day was a mirror image of the first: hot, dusty and boring. The only difference was that they arrived at Selseaton, instead of another inn, at the end of it.

The light was fading from the sky, colouring it a pale pearly grey near the horizon and fading into lavender, light blue and eventually a deep, soft blue like faded cloth higher up. A few tiny stars poked their way through.

The carter clicked encouragingly to his horse. ‘’Ey oop, girl. Nearly ’ome now.’

The horse’s pace quickened slightly, and the cart rattled over the cobbled streets. She leaned over the edge of the cart and stared down.

A few shop windows were lit from within by glowing candles, showing the black silhouette of a watchmaker or printer or bookbinder working late, bent over a desk with a jeweller’s glass in their eye. Something scuttled in the gutter-shadows, claws scratching on stone.

Morley shuffled deeper into his cloak and mumbled complaints to himself. The Raven sighed and rotated her ankles. ‘Are we there yet?’

‘In the next street,’ Quennel said. He gave her lead a tiny tug. ‘So stop complaining.’

‘’mnot. I’ve been good. I have been good, haven’t I, Master?’

‘Yes, you’ve been good.’

The cart turned into the next street. It was very dark by now, and the only light came from a lamp hanging above the door of one of the buildings further down. It was at this building that they stopped. Quennel got down, and Morley and the Raven followed.

She stretched her arms out from the shoulder and executed a rigid and very sloppy pirouette. ‘Ee-ee, stiff!’

‘Oi.’ The cart driver turned and nodded at their luggage. ‘If you want that, then take it.’

‘All right, all right. Morley, take this stuff in.’ Quennel went to the front of the cart and began digging in his pocket for the fare.

Morley shoved the leather trunk into the Raven’s arms and, taking the large crate in one hand and her lead in the other, knocked on the door.

After a moment, it was opened by a woman in a white cap. She peered at Morley, looked past him to the cart and then reeled in her gaze, snagging her hook on the Raven. Her mouth opened to the size of a shilling and she said, ‘Oh!’

‘Please’m,’ the Raven said, grinning widely and stupidly, ‘we’re here to fix your plumbing.’

‘Good evening, ma’am,’ Morley said, gritting his teeth. ‘I think we’re stayin’ here and all?’

‘Oh! Oh, yes – yes of course. Come in.’ She held the door wide and they managed to squeeze past her into the hall.

Quennel was close behind, bowing to the lady. ‘Good evening, ma’am… I think Pace is expecting us?’

‘Yes, yes he is. If you put your…’ She paused, and looked at the Raven again, chewing on her lower lip.

‘Hybrid?’ Quennel suggested. ‘Luggage?’

‘Hybrid? Oh my…’ She stared, then gave a little laugh. ‘A hybrid! My word, that’s something. Yes, put the hybrid in the back room. Your luggage can go upstairs and…’ She opened a door and yelled, ‘Pace! It’s Mister Quennel and, Pace –’

A shortish, red-haired man almost bounced out of the door. ‘Ah, Mister Quennel, Mister Quennel, Mister Quennel…’

‘And hybrid, plus Morley,’ the Raven chipped in.

The redhead – Pace – clapped Quennel on the shoulder. ‘They talk and talk, don’t they, these freaks?’

‘Yes.’ Quennel shifted under Pace’s hand, uncomfortable, yet wishing to appear polite. ‘How many do you own?’

‘Own? Oh, I don’t own any. I’m just their manager, you understand. They’re their own bosses, free to leave at any time they want. Only they don’t, of course.’ He grinned. ‘Though a hybrid’s something different entirely – entirely different.’

‘Yes,’ Quennel said again, looking as though he were trying not to squirm.

‘Well, then.’ Pace beamed affably. ‘Why don’t you let your servant take the hybrid into the back room and you come in and sit down and have a drink? Thirsty thing, travelling.’

‘I’m not his –’ Morley began indignantly, but Pace had already gone back into the room. They could see a fire burning and a flask and glasses set out on a table beside some very comfortable looking chairs.

Quennel shrugged and grinned wryly. ‘Go to, servant. Raven, behave yourself.’

The door shut in Morley’s face. The woman in the white cap smiled encouragingly at him and led the way down the hall. She opened a door at the end and said, ‘Put it in here. I’ll feed it later on, when the others have their dinner. We’re eating late tonight, you see.’

Morley nodded and they went into the room together. It was a fairly large room, with panelled walls and a rather threadbare carpet on the floor. There was a fire, and that, along with a candle on the scratched tabletop, was the only light in the room. The dark blue curtains, patched unevenly with light blue squares and sewn with white thread, were drawn tightly together. In front of the fire sat a little girl and two young men. In the chairs behind them sat a man and a woman. They all looked up as Morley and the Raven entered. The Raven could feel their eyes, looking, looking, looking. Looking as Morley unclipped her lead and gave her a little push forward. Looking as he shut the door and left. Looking as she looked back at them.

The little girl was a hunchback, the two young men were twins, joined at the hip, and the woman had no arms. The man looked normal.

The Raven sat down on the floor, legs crossed. From here she could feel the warmth of the fire on her skin, and the gooseflesh on her arms and legs began to settle. She put her head on one side and gazed curiously at her fellow freaks, blinking, and running the tip of her tongue against her front teeth.

‘G-g-g-good evening,’ the man said. He nodded courteously. ‘What is your n-n-name?’
Last edited by Twit on Fri Dec 26, 2008 9:54 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:39 pm
happy-go-lucky says...



Part 3 *jumps up and down*!!!! :D

As ever, fabulous portrayals of character her - especially the Raven...definitely my favourite character so far!!!

Right nitpicks:

She stretched her arms out from the shoulder and executed a very stiff and very sloppy pirouette. ‘Ee-ee, stiff!’


There's a slight repetition of "stiff" here. Personally I'd change the first one to something like "rigid" and leave the second one as "stiff".

‘Oi.’ The cart driver turned and nodded at their luggage


"Oi" should have an exclamation mark after it I think, but I dunno that might just be me :D

‘G-g-g-good evening,’ the man said. He nodded courteously. ‘What is your n-n-n-n-name?’


Ok, so this isn't really a nitpick but what an ending!!! :P

Looking forward to chapter 4!

Happy-go-lucky
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Thu Oct 30, 2008 3:52 pm
Fellow says...



o.O I`m the second who reviews your story. Not saying that it's a contest :D

‘My stable –’

- I would suggest you decribe his reaction. Maybe the hesitation of saying anything else...

The Raven blinked at him and wondered at his negatives. She almost wanted to use the Sense.


The landlord actually jumped. ‘You never said it talked!’

- Make this part seen in the eyes of Raven as she is amuzed by the memory of the four stable -boys

Can’t you stay with it now?’ Morley asked, chewing bread and mutton together in his mouth.


- I would rather change it in : ...Morley asked with his mouth full of halfed chewed bread and mutton.

‘’mnot. I’ve been good. I have been good, haven’t I, Master?’

- Here I`ll put something about the tone of her voice. She asked with a flattering accent in her voice.

- That's all to review here.

‘G-g-g-good evening,’ the man said. He nodded courteously. ‘What is your n-n-n-n-name?’


-Nice ending

Hope it helps! Luck!

-Akayl
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Sun Nov 02, 2008 9:05 pm
Nutty says...



The landlord had come out to our cart per Quennel’s


'Our' is first person.

He tied the Raven’s lead to the bed rail and then went out the door.

Why would he keep tying her up like that if he knew she could undo knots?

Quennel came back about half an hour later, bearing cakes and ale.

‘Can’t you stay with it now?’ Morley asked, chewing bread and mutton together in his mouth.

If he brought cakes and ale, where did Morley get bread and mutton?



Morley shoved the leather trunk into the Raven’s arms and, taking the large crate in one hand and her lead in the other, knocked on the door.


I imagined the large crate to be big enough you would need two hands to carry it. For it to be able to be carried in one hand, it can't really be a large crate.

Again, very well written. I am liking how the Raven is developing, and the descriptions again were imaginative and flowed well. I couldn't see many mistakes at all in this part, and enjoyed reading it. Well done ^^

-Nutty
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Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:56 am
PenguinAttack says...



I'm terribly sorry this is so late, I've been a little behind on everything lately.

I'm definitely enjoying this, beyond what I thought I would, to be honest. You're writing has a simple touch that is wonderful, you don't pad with extra words when you don't need to and it seriously aids what you're doing.

I loved the "cobbles, cobbles everywhere, but not a stone to throw." - she's very human, isn't she? Intelligent, funny, quirky and not a little bit odd. She's an entirely wonderful character indeed. I like how you have her portrayed.

Your characters are well developed in any case, and I'm looking forward to what happens in chapter four.
The others have mentioned all the issues I found with the text, so I'll not nitpick on this one at all. I'm a bit useless, sorry.

Lovely work, Twitter.

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Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:50 am
Rubric says...



‘’mnot. I’ve been good. I have been good, haven’t I, Master?’


‘Yes, you’ve been good.’


Grudgingly, happily, wearily....good chance to define Quennel's character again.

I like the way you immedietely establish how Pace deals with the other characters, and how they react to him. It'se certainly one of your best techniques.

Not much to critique here either! THis is why I prefer the fresh meat. Heading over to the fourth one now :P.
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Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:20 pm
Clo says...



*swings in on rope* Here I am to review! =D

The landlord saw. He shrugged. ‘Just don’t make no trouble, and I won’t say nothing.’

The Raven blinked at him and wondered at his negatives.

Is this a grammar joke? Ha! :) Some might not catch on, but it's adorable. It shows the Raven is intelligent too - maybe you could reiterate that more before this? Because this is the first instance where I got the impression that besides being witty and sarcastic, she has an education/intelligence.

The relationship between the Raven, Quennel and Morley is becoming very interesting. I guess I can say though that I can't really tell the difference between Quennel and Morley parts of the time - they seem very similar, and I can't remember their initial descriptions, so right now I'm having a hard time distinguishing between their personalities. Their speech seems very similiar, and the Raven is far removed from them with her different way of speaking, and then it leaves me to be confused about their own separate characters.

They seem like important characters because we've already spent so much time with them, so maybe you could just define them a little more? They're very entertaining.

I have been good, haven’t I, Master?

I love your sarcastic little character. Or at least I imagine she's being sarcastic.

‘I’m not his –’ Morley began indignantly, but Pace had already gone back into the room. They could see a fire burning and a flask and glasses set out on a table beside some very comfortable looking chair

Actually, I'm gonna take back what I said a little earlier. I can see a difference between the two more clearly as I read and remember.

Whoa I love the ending! An introduction to a new interesting group of people. I love the new events! I'm now totally intrigued and have to find out what's with these new people.
:)

I'm still loving your story. I think your characters are great, and the story is just carrying me along with intrigue and amusement. Can't wait to review the next part! PM me with questions.

~ Clo
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Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:59 pm
Rascalover says...



Very portraying of the Raven character, which was lovely. Each time I read about her or her speaking she becomes less montrous and more human-like. And each time i think that I read a part where you're describing her and it reminds myself that yes she is a monster for such a being to be alive and showcased.... is well demeaning though???

So loving this story which is a surprise and first for me. When i read chapter one I thought I wouldn't like it, but it comes out that im enhanced by such creativity!
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Sun Nov 30, 2008 1:24 am
Avens Dolor says...



Three

They ..."set out again, and that night they slept..." or something. It sounds like they just switched inns in the same town. slept that night at another inn. This one was bigger and cleaner, but after what had happened at the last inn, Quennel wasn’t ready to entrust his hybrid to the stables again.

‘A quiet room,’ he said to the landlord. ‘Do you have one near the back? So that people don’t get…’ He trailed off and nodded sagely.

The landlord didn’t seem to appreciate sage gestures. ‘So that what?’ he demanded. ‘I keep a respectable inn, I do, and if you’re going to make trouble –’

‘Nothing of the kind.’ Quennel leaned forward confidentially. The landlord had come out to the cart per Quennel’s request, and was leaning against the side. Quennel attempted to take his arm, but the landlord shrugged him off.

‘Look,’ Quennel said. ‘I got a hybrid. You can see that.’

The landlord looked down at the Raven and wrinkled his nose. ‘Ugly thing, ain’t it?’ Why isn't he shocked? I thought that there weren't any other hybrids on the continent.

‘It may not win any beauty prizes, but it’ll win me a fortune. So I don’t want to leave it in your stable, do I? What if something happens to it?’

‘My stable –’

‘Is one of the finest around, I don’t doubt. But I like to keep an eye on it, so I’ll keep it in my room, and all’ll be fine. Just so long as our room is quiet and out of the way, see?’

The landlord saw. He shrugged. ‘Just don’t make no trouble, and I won’t say nothing.’

The Raven blinked at him and wondered at his negatives. haha

‘All right, bring it in.’ The landlord led the way into the inn. Morley and Quennel shielded the Raven from the eyes of the other customers, and they passed through the main room safely. Up a flight of stairs to a short corridor and the landlord opened a door to a room.

Morley dumped their bags on the floor, and the landlord said, pointing, ‘Water jug, bed, window… For thruppence.’

‘Where?’ the Raven asked.

The landlord actually jumped. ‘You never said it talked!’

‘You didn’t ask.’ Quennel gave her lead a jerk. ‘Where what?’

‘Where’s the four thruppence?’ She blinked at the landlord. ‘Kind landlord sir said water jug, bed, window, four thruppence. Water jug, bed, window.’ She pointed at each one in turn. ‘I don’t see four thruppence. Are they under the pillow?’ She made a dive at the bed, but Quennel hauled her back. Cheesy.

‘The thruppence is your payment!’ the landlord snapped. ‘Thruppence for one night and one night only.’

Quennel fished around in his pocket and handed him the small silver coin. ‘Don’t mind the hybrid. Half the time, what it says doesn’t mean anything.’

The landlord frowned, said curtly, ‘Well, mind you keep it under control,’ and left, closing the door with perhaps more vigour than was necessary.

Quennel tugged on her lead again to get her attention. ‘Try an’ use your loaf for once, eh, Raven?’

She wanted to say, Speaking of which, when’s dinner? but decided against it. Quennel had been pushed as far as he could tonight, and he was tired and sore from the long ride. A tired and sore Quennel was not a Quennel that allowed his exhibits backchat.

Morley said, ‘What about a drink and something to eat?’

‘You stay here and watch the hybrid. I’ll bring you both something up.’ Quennel went to the water jug and splashed his face. He tied the Raven’s lead to the bed rail and then went out the door.

Morley sat on the bed and began to take his boots off. The Raven sat on the floor, rested her head against the straw-stuffed mattress and flexed her shoulders.

Morley began to whistle softly under his breath. She recognized the song and joined in, cheerfully out of tune. ‘Elizabeth Harley was a-going to church, to church, to church, Elizabeth Harley was a-going to church for to-o be wed.’

‘You’re out of tune,’ Morley said irritably.

‘And you’re out of sorts.’ She twisted around and grinned at him.

He humphed. ‘You’ve cheered up since the last stop.’

‘I bounce,’ ? That's a weird way to put it. It makes her sound bipolar or something. She told him sweetly. ‘And that was noon. Now it’s the evening. That was in a stable. Now it’s in a proper room. That was just after Quennel socked me round the ear. Now I’m untouched – so far. That was when –’

‘Shut up.’

She blinked pathetically. Morley began whistling again. She sat back against the bed and began playing with her fingers.

Quennel came back about half an hour later, bearing cakes and ale.

‘Can’t you stay with it now?’ Morley asked, chewing bread and mutton together in his mouth. Where else would he chew it?

‘I’m still busy downstairs. And anyway, what d’you want to do down there? All the serving girls are either men or fat and old. Though I suppose that means they can’t afford to be choosy.’ Some of the serving girls are men?

Morley stared at Quennel’s grinning face and said, ‘Shut the hell up.’ He folded his bit of meat in the bread, got off the bed and went to the door.

‘What do you think you’re doing?’ Quennel sounded outraged.

‘Going downstairs to the fat and ugly serving maids.’ Morley slammed the door.

Quennel yanked it open again. ‘Morley!’ he yelled. Morley evidently ignored him, and Quennel came and sat down sulkily on the bed.

‘You annoyed him a bit too much,’ the Raven observed, digging a bit of gristle out from between her teeth.

Quennel ignored her comment and instead shoved a hunk of bread in his mouth.

She picked up the newspaper that Quennel had brought up along with the food and opened it. It was mostly local news about missing cows and crop rotation, but there was a small bit about the approaching marriage between Prince Thunor and the Sersuran princess Iuliana. The paper said that the marriage was ‘cementing the peace treaty between two old enemies.’ It seemed that half the people the Raven had heard talking about it were violently against the match, because of all that had happened in the wars, and the other half were violently endorsing it for the very same reason. She knew that Quennel didn’t have much of an opinion, either way. He said it wouldn’t effect them, no matter what happened. First, it's "affect", second, wouldn't a peaceful country lead to more ease in crossing borders, more people at home, and more general contentment and funds for viewing freak shows? She supposed they would hear a bit more about it in Selseaton, seeing as that was where the royal family lived for most of the year, but royal weddings didn’t interest her much, so she turned to the last page of the newspaper and read the Bill of Mortality for the last week instead.

It was dark by the time she had finished her own dinner. Morley still wasn’t back, and Quennel was still cross and silent. She polished off the stray crumbs and curled up on the floor. She could hear the sounds of festivity in the room below: the landlord demanding that someone pay their bill, a violin squawking a few notes, some drunk trying to start off a catch with his friends. She rested her head on her hand and went to sleep.

–––

The next day was a mirror image of the first: hot, dusty and boring. The only difference was that they arrived at Selseaton, instead of another inn, at the end of it.

The light was fading from the sky, colouring it a pale pearly grey near the horizon and fading into lavender, light blue and eventually a deep, soft blue like faded cloth higher up. A few tiny stars poked their way through. What is the point of stars? the Raven thought, squirming in a vain effort to get a semblance of comfort. For beauty, yes. They exist just to be beautiful? Can anything do that?

The carter clicked encouragingly to his horse. ‘’Ey oop, girl. Nearly ’ome now.’

The horse’s pace quickened slightly, and the cart rattled over the cobbled streets. She leaned over the edge of the cart and stared down. Cobbles, cobbles everywhere but never a stone to throw. She supposed you could make a pun out of that, if you were clever.

A few shop windows were lit from within by glowing candles, showing the black silhouette of a watchmaker or printer or bookbinder working late, bent over a desk with a jeweller’s "jeweler" only has one "L". glass in their eye. Something scuttled in the gutter-shadows, claws scratching on stone.

Morley shuffled deeper into his cloak and mumbled complaints to himself. The Raven sighed and rotated her ankles. ‘Are we there yet?’

‘In the next street,’ Quennel said. He gave her lead a tiny tug. ‘So stop complaining.’

‘’mnot. I’ve been good. I have been good, haven’t I, Master?’

‘Yes, you’ve been good.’

The cart turned into the next street. It was very dark by now, and the only light came from a lamp hanging above the door of one of the buildings further down. It was at this building that they stopped. Quennel got down, and Morley and the Raven followed.

She stretched her arms out from the shoulder and executed a rigid and very sloppy pirouette. ‘Ee-ee, stiff!’

‘Oi.’ The cart driver turned and nodded at their luggage. ‘If you want that, then take it.’

‘All right, all right. Morley, take this stuff in.’ Quennel went to the front of the cart and began digging in his pocket for the fare.

Morley shoved the leather trunk into the Raven’s arms and, taking the large crate in one hand and her lead in the other, knocked on the door.

After a moment, it was opened by a woman in a white cap. She peered at Morley, looked past him to the cart and then reeled in her gaze, snagging her hook on the Raven. Her mouth opened to the size of a shilling and she said, ‘Oh!’

‘Please’m,’ the Raven said, grinning widely and stupidly, ‘we’re here to fix your plumbing.’

‘Good evening, ma’am,’ Morley said, gritting his teeth. ‘I think we’re stayin’ here and all?’

‘Oh! Oh, yes – yes of course. Come in.’ She held the door wide and they managed to squeeze past her into the hall.

Quennel was close behind, bowing to the lady. ‘Good evening, ma’am… I think Pace is expecting us?’

‘Yes, yes he is. If you put your…’ She paused, and looked at the Raven again, chewing on her lower lip.

‘Hybrid?’ Quennel suggested. ‘Luggage?’

‘Hybrid? Oh my…’ She stared, then gave a little laugh. ‘A hybrid! My word, that’s something. Yes, put the hybrid in the back room. Your luggage can go upstairs and…’ She opened a door and yelled, ‘Pace! It’s Mister Quennel and, Pace –’

A shortish, red-haired man almost bounced out of the door. ‘Ah, Mister Quennel, Mister Quennel, Mister Quennel…’

‘And hybrid, plus Morley,’ the Raven chipped in.

The redhead – Pace – clapped Quennel on the shoulder. ‘They talk and talk, don’t they, these freaks?’

‘Yes.’ Quennel shifted under Pace’s hand, uncomfortable, yet wishing to appear polite. ‘How many do you own?’

‘Own? Oh, I don’t own any. I’m just their manager, you understand. They’re their own bosses, free to leave at any time they want. Only they don’t, of course.’ He grinned. ‘Though a hybrid’s something different entirely – entirely different.’

‘Yes,’ Quennel said again, looking as though he were trying not to squirm.

‘Well, then.’ Pace beamed affably. ‘Why don’t you let your servant take the hybrid into the back room and you come in and sit down and have a drink? Thirsty thing, travelling.’

‘I’m not his –’ Morley began indignantly, but Pace had already gone back into the room. They could see a fire burning and a flask and glasses set out on a table beside some very comfortable looking chairs.

Quennel shrugged and grinned wryly. ‘Go to, servant. Raven, behave yourself.’

The door shut in Morley’s face. The woman in the white cap smiled encouragingly at him and led the way down the hall. She opened a door at the end and said, ‘Put it in here. I’ll feed it later on, when the others have their dinner. We’re eating late tonight, you see.’

Morley nodded and they went into the room together. It was a fairly large room, with panelled walls and a rather threadbare carpet on the floor. There was a fire, and that, along with a candle on the scratched tabletop, was the only light in the room. The dark blue curtains, patched unevenly with light blue squares and sewn with white thread, were drawn tightly together. In front of the fire sat a little girl and two young men. In the chairs behind them sat a man and a woman. They all looked up as Morley and the Raven entered. The Raven could feel their eyes, looking, looking, looking. Looking as Morley unclipped her lead and gave her a little push forward. Looking as he shut the door and left. Looking as she looked back at them.

The little girl was a hunchback, the two young men were twins, joined at the hip, and the woman had no arms. The man looked normal.

All right, the Raven thought. My fellow freaks. Takes one to know one, I suppose. But not really. She sat down on the floor, legs crossed, about five feet away Is this based in Britain or not? "Feet" is too American as a form of measurement. from them. From here she could feel the warmth of the fire on her skin, and the gooseflesh on her arms began to settle. And so we stare the night away, waiting for one to talk and always being disappointed. What’ll happen if I get closer to the fire? Will their stares intensify until I simply shrivel up and vanish? Or will they wait until I get close enough and then tip me into the fire? Do freaks have walls around their minds? Or are they simply –

‘G-g-g-good evening,’ the man said. He nodded courteously. ‘What is your n-n-n-n-name?’

Abrupt ending. Not dramatic enough to try to pull a dramatic close.

Also, I like Morley.





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Sat Dec 20, 2008 10:33 pm
Rydia says...



I'm not sure that I feel justified in posting for such a short a comment as I am going to make but ah well. Again, it's smoothly transferred to third person and takes nothing away from your excellent story and my only real critique is that you could concentrate a little more on senses. For a novel that appears to be built around this lovely thing called, 'the sense' there really should be more attention to touch, smell, taste and sound. I'd love to know what sort of voices your characters have, particularly the raven. I imagine that at times it is meek and low but most of the time? Is it a low pitched sort of voice or more medium? Is her voice firm or verging on timid or possibly even bubbly? I'm really not entirely sure.

How does the room and the people smell? I'd imagine that your three main characters would be quite smelly as they've spent quite a bit of time on the road, does the Raven perceive this? Does she wrinkle her nose at Morley when he takes his boots off? I'd certainly not be too happy to be near someone who's as travel worn as him.

In general, good work.
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Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:41 pm
Rosendorn says...



A very long wait. Sorry.

The landlord actually jumped.


Nix "actually." Since we don't have a reason for him not to jump, it's not needed.

The landlord frowned, said curtly, ‘Well, mind you keep it under control,’ and left,


I don't like having a "said" tag in front of the words. That goes for every time you've done that.

She picked up the newspaper that Quennel had brought up along with the food and opened it.......so she turned to the last page of the newspaper and read the Bill of Mortality for the last week instead.


Didn't want to overwhelm you with a quote of the whole paragraph. Why put all this stuff in? If the marriage won't show up later, nix this.

General comment on the beginning: If you don't have anything else on that marriage, nix the whole thing. It's not needed other then that.


The only difference was that they arrived at Selseaton, instead of another inn, at the end of it.


"At the end of it" could be it's own sentence. Example: "..another inn. They had arrived at the end of it."

She leaned over the edge of the cart and stared down.


You've changed from talking about the mare to the Raven. Put the proper name instead of "she."

A few shop windows were lit from within by glowing candles, showing the black silhouette of a watchmaker or printer or bookbinder working late, bent over a desk with a jeweller’s glass in their eye.


Too many "or"s here. It makes me think that watchmen are bent over desks with jeweller's glasses in their eyes.

‘Ah, Mister Quennel, Mister Quennel, Mister Quennel…’


Nix the third "Mister Quennel." It's ecsesive.

‘Yes.’ Quennel shifted under Pace’s hand, uncomfortable, yet wishing to appear polite. ‘How many do you own?’


You start to go ommicient here. How does the Raven know this stuff? Look through all of it, but after this line it gets bad for viewpoint.

The Raven could feel their eyes, looking, looking, looking. Looking as Morley unclipped her lead and gave her a little push forward. Looking as he shut the door and left. Looking as she looked back at them.


"Looking" is used a lot here. It confused me the first time I read it. I had to read it two/three times to understand.

Overall: You have taken this in another direction I did not expect. And, the more you go in this direction, the more I wonder when the plot starts and what the plot is. With the amount of time you spent on Gilbert's viewpoint at the beginning I expected him to show up later, and now with the amount of submission the freaks are showing, I'm wondering how there can be a plot.

You need to work on keeping your viewpoint as one person's. You're starting to go ommisicent again.

The Raven is getting more interesting all the time. Her behaviour is almost hypocritical. She'll irk just about anybody, yet she's totally submisive to them. She's smart, but stupid enough to believe all this stuff.

In short, I'm getting board.

I hope that things will start to pick up in the next part.
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