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(DRAFT) Miscreants: Inauguration - Chapter 2.1

by Liminality


A/N: Last chapter, Golzar, Gerhard and Bryn were discussing her inauguration as a guild councillor and the upcoming formalities that will be critical in determining the direction of her career. Now, Golzar and her company of chevaliers are making their way to a guild meeting at the heroes' halls in Witchfield, a location close to the capital city.

Grey skies loomed over Witchfield. The smell of the rain was in the air also, seeping slowly through the lazy breezes, but Bryn had yet to feel a drop on their head. They gave Dapple a pat on the neck, urging her onward through the line of horses. They rode up next to Golzar, who was at the front of the line, ill-advisedly looking at Gerhard’s scroll as she rode.

“Watch where you’re going,” Bryn insisted, voice alarmed.

Golzar grinned. “This is kind of fun actually. Feels like I’m getting more done at once.”

A tut of the tongue. “You’re gonna lose control if you keep doing that. She’ll go astray without you guiding.”

“Alright, alright. Don’t worry.” But Golzar tucked the scroll back into her rucksack anyway, which swung slightly round the neck of her horse. With both hands on the reins, she began to ride faster.

She caught up with Gerhard, who was already at the front of the line. Bryn followed soon after, and they couldn’t help glancing at Gerhard’s new saddle. It was a fine piece of craftwork, and Gerhard had adjusted to it quickly. There was a lever system that allowed him to guide the horse with less force applied from his right leg, accommodating his injuries.

“Y’know, you’re supposed to be riding at the front now, right?” Gerhard quipped.

“Pff – the only reason commander rides front is if the other bastards can’t recognise ‘im.” Golzar turned back to yell at the other Miscreants. “But you lot recognise me, don’t ya’?”

A cheer resounded. It nearly drowned out the sounds of rolling thunder in the distance.

Bryn chuckled. Raucous, as always. To avoid the noise, they rode Dapple slightly off to the side, tugging the feathered cap slightly down their head.

When Golzar rode up next to them, they jolted.

“You ready for the meeting?” she said, eyes bright.

Bryn gulped. “I . . . I’ll be going?”

“Well, of course. You’re my second now, they’d expect you,” said Golzar.

A stab of panic flashed in their chest. “What on earth would I say? What would I do?”

Silence stuck to Golzar’s expression. She seemed unsure how to respond, like a wheel had caught dead fast on a pebble in her head. She took a deep breath and let it out, her eyes flitting for a bit to stare up at some stray thought in the sky. “I’m sure it’ll be fine. If you don’t worry about it so much then – “

“I’m not worried.”

Another one of those pebbles on the road.

“Well, worst comes to worst, I can do the talking and you can do the judgemental staring at anyone who tries to interrupt. Sound good?”

“Hmm. I can live with that.” Old men – old war men, specifically – a enclosed little space and poor lighting on a rainy day. Let’s say they weren’t looking forward to it.

Golzar flashed them a smile, but then turned away. The look said: alright, that’s done now. Bryn frowned.

The Miscreants passed under the branches of old gnarly trees, and as they did, they could see the peaks of roofs rising over the horizon. They were almost arriving at Witchfield town. This wasn’t their actual destination. Only they had to ride through it to get to the Witchfield countryside and beyond that, the Guild Hall.

The cobbles were trod smooth by the many merchants that walked its paths. Bryn could feel the change in Dapple’s stride as she carried them over the boundary between grass and stone. As they were riding around a corner, a merchant was ordering his serf attendant about, finger pointed accusingly at the serf’s chest. Bryn glared sideways at the merchant, scowling. The merchant paid them no mind.

Maybe if Bryn were as much of a daredevil as Golzar, they’d be dueling people left and right too. An interesting thought. They squashed it with a light shake of their head. They raked the soft curls out of their face with one hand. Beside them, Golzar rode on.

-

If Bryn was sincere in saying they could “live with” being around the Guild Council, Golzar would eat her prayer mask. The quip was on the tip of her tongue, but she swallowed it. Better to speak about the distant far-off things, which were less distracting and less disruptive.

“We’re going to need some kind of theme for the dinner. All the last ones we went to did – “ Golzar paused, glancing upwards a moment. “ – or, at least all the ones I remember going to. The food’s not bad, you know? You should try coming with us next time.”

“Hmm. I’ll think about it.”

Bryn looked like a stone lion someone carved a miniature of out of wood. There wasn’t a legendary stone lion statue here, but she’d remembered stories of them in Besiv. If any Woodlandian saw something like that, they’d definitely make a carving out of it. And that carving would be just like Bryn was – average-sized but definitely not average in any other way. Bryn’s coal eyes were keener than a hawk’s, she knew, and short curls looked mature on them where they’d look childish on anyone else. A lion’s mane.

Golzar found herself glancing back and forth between their expression and the road ahead whenever the two of them talked. How were they taking it? Was she making sense? Did they think she was stupid? It was rough.

“Next most important thing,” she said, “the guest list. Specifically, we don’t have one. We’re probably going to have to write invitations ourselves and choose who to bring.” Her voiced dropped and she smiled cynically. “Though of course, we won’t really be choosing.”

Bryn snorted at that.

Towards the town gates, there was a small strip of green, peppered with little white dandelions. The grass pooled around the stony base of the walls, which sloped up towards a pair of watchtowers. Golzar squinted. The pale light still cast a glare over the metal weapons and equipment, but she could see the silhouettes of guards on duty, ambling back and forth along the wall.

“Should we stop ‘ere?” Gerhard said from the front. He had turned his russet stallion around. “Could be a long ride still to the Halls.”

Golzar nodded, and raised a hand – signalling the rest of the Miscreants to dismount.

They watered their horses at the gates. As they did, Bryn, Golzar and Gerhard congregated at the left pillar of the main entrance.

Gerhard had dismounted, and he opened his mouth, just about to say something when the sound of neighing interrupted.

Golzar whipped around. The source of the sound was from beyond the gates. She saw Bryn race past her and stop dead centre. They turned back, calling out. “Messengers! Red flag!”

Indeed, the party had a red flag raised, the sign of an emergency.

Three townsguard heroes rode forth to receive them. Golzar motioned for Gerhard and Bryn to follow on foot.

The messenger in the lead took off his helmet. A tuft of blonde hair poked out, a fringe hanging over a pale, blanched face. His voice shivered, but he glanced between Golzar and the townsguard, and seemed to decide the townsguard needed to be informed first. He dismounted and hurried over to the first man cloaked in tan and black. It made sense. No hero was supposed to act outside of their official duties and quests.

But Golzar felt something was off. Without waiting further, she walked up to where the townsguard were gathered around the messenger. She nodded at one of them, who didn’t shoo her away.

“There’s been an attack,” the messenger said. “In the village. It’s . . . “

He was glancing at Golzar with a hint of recognition in his eyes. Golzar turned away, pretending not to be so involved with all this. His voice dropped as he dropped the news.

“. . . the Lions. They raided a farmer’s hut.”

A pinprick of pain. Golzar realised she’d bit her tongue. With some difficulty, she swallowed. Just what was Thornston thinking? Was he involved?

Golzar waited for the messenger and his party to leave, ushered by a flank of other heroes to rest in a nearby inn, before she addressed the commander of this hero company.

“Arthur,” she said. Arthur was a tall man, not quite as tall as Gerhard, but stockier. He gazed down at her with uncertain green eyes. The crescent symbol of his Carving Knife Company framed his chest. Golzar met his stare. “We’ll take it from here.”

“But Councillor – “

“It will be best that you remain at your post,” Golzar insisted. Then, she switched to a friendlier, more casual tone. “We were headed that direction anyway.”

Eventually, Arthur nodded. He turned around and waved a hand, signalling for the Knives to fall back behind the gates.

-

A cluster of townsfolk had gathered around to watch the events. Bryn cast them a sweeping gaze. Any troublemakers? It seemed that the crowd was mostly people from the inn, looking to see what had happened to the most recent renters. “It’s those rascals again,” one man said to the other. “Those ‘heroes’.”

Golzar’s voice rang out. “Come on, Bryn – let’s get going!”

“R-right!” Bryn climbed onto Dapple and lightly tugged at her reins. The good sturdy mare cantered on.

Just outside the town, there was a small stretch of green grass. Bryn could see the woods bordering it, where they would soon enter. The Neverheim river thinned out so much after Witchfield Town that it was never possible to take a boat to the Countryside. Besides, a hero company needed their horses, and those were nearly impossible to wrangle onto watercraft in large numbers.

From the left flank, Bryn begin to fall behind a bit on purpose. They always preferred to watch the other’s backs, even if Golzar insisted that the older ones like Robert, Richard’s brother, could do that well enough.

They saw Tanya riding her pony in the middle of the line, with Richard at her side. Robert, a hulking but careful lad, was looking nervously about them from the back. A slight movement in the bushes could set him off.

It wasn’t long before they felt a slow-down in the front of the line.

Bryn could hear the sound of horses coming from the opposite direction, the clopping of hooves against the dirt. As the strangers approached, they saw the brightly-coloured motley and knew it was minstrels the Miscreants had run into.

A high note from a flute pierced the air. Bryn could see the shadow that a particularly large lute cast onto the ground.

The minstrels sauntered down the middle of the path. When they noticed the heroes, however, the music was cut short. Bryn tilted their head to one side in confusion. Before long, a completely different, much faster tune started picking up, very awkward and hurried, as though the instruments were catching their breath.

From where they stood, Bryn could only see how the minstrels suddenly filed into one line, swerving quite dramatically. They begun to squeeze past the heroes on the left flank. Golzar raised a hand for the Miscreants to move towards the right so the minstrels could get through.

When only a few musicians were still straggling behind, murmurs broke out among the Miscreants. “What was that all about?”

As the boy with the flute passed by Bryn on his donkey, they thought they saw him flinch away.


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Sat Dec 04, 2021 2:49 am
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InuYosha wrote a review...



Ayo, itsame mario

except if mario was a reviewer who loved reviewing awesome writing like yours!

Also sorry about the barrage of notifications . . . I suddenly remembered to like all your works that I've reviewed because that's what I usually do . . . and also I like your works, too, so . . .

Again, the author's note at the beginning was much appreciated! It really helps a reviewer, and I'm glad that it seems like you'll be implementing this in future chapters ('cause i looked ahead a little bit). I'm probably going to do this myself, in my own works, actually.

Grey skies loomed over Witchfield. The smell of the rain was in the air also, seeping slowly through the lazy breezes, but Bryn had yet to feel a drop on their head. They gave Dapple a pat on the neck, urging her onward through the line of horses. They rode up next to Golzar, who was at the front of the line, ill-advisedly looking at Gerhard’s scroll as she rode.


Two things. One, you said that the smell of the rain was "in the air also". Wouldn't it be better to say "also in the air"? Seems a bit more natural to me.

Second, I can see what you were trying to say when you wrote "ill-advisedly looking at Gerhard's scroll", but it sounds kind of strange to me. Maybe write something like "brashly looking" or "recklessly looking"? I'm not sure. There's not really a suitable word for that situation that I could think of.

“Watch where you’re going,” Bryn insisted, voice alarmed.


Looks like not only Bryn's voice, but the sentence itself was alarmed, too, because the 'her' just ran off. :D

Golzar grinned. “This is kind of fun actually. Feels like I’m getting more done at once.”


Ah, the joys of multitasking . . .

She caught up with Gerhard, who was already at the front of the line. Bryn followed soon after, and they couldn’t help glancing at Gerhard’s new saddle. It was a fine piece of craftwork, and Gerhard had adjusted to it quickly. There was a lever system that allowed him to guide the horse with less force applied from his right leg, accommodating his injuries.


The real question is why are people letting an injured guy ride a horse!? Also, I'm curious. It would have been nice if you explained this little lever system in a bit more detail, although I'm not sure how you could've done that without making the paragraph clunky. Still . . . something about an injured guy riding a horse is really bothering me.

A cheer resounded. It nearly drowned out the sounds of rolling thunder in the distance.


Oooh! Very nice way of reinforcing what you said earlier. At the beginning, when you said 'Grey Skies loomed over Witchfield', I dismissed it as an extra piece of elaboration, but now you've clarified that it's actually going to be a thunderstorm.

“Hmm. I can live with that.” Old men – old war men, specifically – a enclosed little space and poor lighting on a rainy day. Let’s say they weren’t looking forward to it.


I guess we can completely abandon the idea of an neutral narrator now, because this narrator has just been showing their opinion about a lot of things since the beginning. I'm kind of starting to think it's fine to keep the narration style the same. It's still a bit disconcerting.

Also, it should probably be 'an enclosed little space'.

Oh, and, the sentence fragment really confused me. I had to read this a good five or six times to realize what point you were trying to get across. Sometimes, sentence fragments are fine, but in risky places like this, it's probably best to go with the standard complete sentence.

The ending was a bit strange. I'm not sure what a boy with a flute . . . on a donkey . . . has to do with the story. I hope he's an important character, because what kind of background character has a flute AND a donkey???

-yosh

P.S. I wish I had a flute and a donkey




Liminality says...


Hi Yoshi! Thanks for the comments on the word choices! I'll definitely go over those and try to find better words/ images that just come to mind more naturally for later parts.

The real question is why are people letting an injured guy ride a horse!? Also, I'm curious. It would have been nice if you explained this little lever system in a bit more detail, although I'm not sure how you could've done that without making the paragraph clunky. Still . . . something about an injured guy riding a horse is really bothering me.


Thanks for your thoughts on that! I admittedly didn't do much research into horse-riding before writing this, and now that you mention it, it probably would make more sense for Gerhard to be riding in a cart or wagon behind the horse at this stage of his injury. That would still allow him to get around about the same way as the horse would.

I'm glad the bit about the weather came across. I try to use weather to mark time in a scene or set the mood~

Thanks again for all your feedback! I super appreciate it. :D



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Mon May 17, 2021 2:32 pm
Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

I haven't read any of the previous chapters, but after reading this one, I might have to! I really enjoyed it a lot, honestly. I also really appreciate the author's note at the beginning that let me dive right in to this amazing piece!

One thing I really enjoyed was the progression of events. I think you do a really great job of making this piece super engaging! Your paragraphs are varied in length, you have great sentence variety... it just flows super seamlessly and feels so professional and polished! It's truly stupendous work, and you should be proud!

I also really liked how Bryn uses they/them pronouns! It's always nice to seem some representation in works, and the way you do it is so subtle and nice. There's not any formal establishment that they're non-binary, they just simply... are. It's so refreshing to see representation done that way!

Specifics

“We’re going to need some kind of theme for the dinner. All the last ones we went to did – “ Golzar paused, glancing upwards a moment. “ – or, at least all the ones I remember going to. The food’s not bad, you know? You should try coming with us next time.”


When you use em-dashes to interrupt dialogue, the most accepted and correct formatting would be to put them outside of the quotation marks. I know it feels kind of counterintuitive, but that's what's correct according to the grammar rules. Also, you don't need that period after moment, since you're interrupting.

Old men – old war men, specifically – a enclosed little space and poor lighting on a rainy day.


I get what you were trying to convey in this sentence, but I had to read it a good ten times before I got the way it was supposed to be read. I think it's a list that relates to the line following it in the text, but that wasn't super clear as I was reading. Since there's no real verb and it doesn't look like a list, my brain was trying to puzzle out whether "a" was supposed to be the verb, or if it wasn't supposed to be there at all and "enclosed" was the verb... I got very confused. I think you could rephrase it so that instead of em-dashes you use parentheses, which would allow you to put a comma after it, and if you also used an Oxford comma that would really make it clear that that sentence is a list. Also: "a" should be "an." I think I also got tripped up a little by that.

Overall: really lovely work! I think you're a very talented writing and I enjoyed reading this piece immensely! I hope to read more of your work soon. Until next time!!




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Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:10 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi Liminality,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

First of all, very great that you included a brief recap to what's happened so far. It helps the reader settle in, but it's also helpful in attracting new readers who just want to jump in. I think you should keep that up with continuing the story.

I feel like in this chapter the theme that I noticed in the last few chapters has changed a bit. Now the beginning is a bit "calmer" and the second part goes more into suspense, which I think fits very well with the beginning where the group leaves for Witchfield. It also gives this chapter a different positional value that the familiar formula has been transformed.


her rucksack anyway


I'm always confused to find German words in English texts. :D Or is rucksack now the English term that has been taken into German?

They were almost arriving at Witchfield town


Here I'm not sure if the town is called "Witchfield town" or if you're referring to the town of Witchfield so as not to confuse it with the landscape of Witchfield. At best, with the former suggestion, it would then have to be "Town".

The minstrels sauntered down the middle of the path. When they noticed the heroes, however, the music was cut short. Bryn tilted their head to one side in confusion. Before long, a completely different, much faster tune started picking up, very awkward and hurried, as though the instruments were catching their breath.


I like this passage very much because I think that the music coming from the musicians can be interpreted in the way the situation feels to Bryn and the others. How everything changes around them, along with the music. You really did a great job with that.


As the boy with the flute passed by Bryn on his donkey, they thought they saw him flinch away.


That leaves me with some questions already. D Who is the boy? Why is he flinching? Or was it just Bryn's imagination?

I noticed that Golzar is very sarcastic in some aspects. I like how you try to incorporate that in several places without it being out of place. Especially because I also think that the plot itself can become very serious. (At least that's my impression, that the story is very serious.) You can feel a tension and nervousness at some points when the characters are speaking, and that comes over to the reader (or at least to me). I think you manage this very well, and have already proven in the last chapters that you can captivate the reader with this writing style.

I can only positively repeat what I have already written in the last chapters, to see it again here. (Splitting the chapter between calm and relaxed to more tension; the descriptions of the characters or their nuances in appropriate moments so as not to disturb the flow of reading; short descriptions of the places, be it just noting what flowers grow there, which for me is very interesting to see as I think it is the most important and maybe the most striking thing about the place). I think it's really great that you keep that.

I also like how the plot has its own pace and you keep it even after these chapters. It remains exciting and worth reading.

Maybe I didn't notice it so much in the last chapters, but I like how Bryn has a very strong personality, but yet there are still situations that intimidate her a bit, and where she has to rely on others. She somehow has this "leadership potential" and yet the will to lean on her partners.
Just a formality now, but how do you pronounce Bryn? Or how did you come up with the pronunciation? Because I keep reading her name as "Breyn" or something. :D

I don't know what keeps me reading, but this is definitely good. :D Also, it's good that you're keeping your style! I really didn't notice anything negative so directly, the overall layout and arrangement is great and I didn't feel lost anywhere now.

Keep up the good work!

Mailice.




Liminality says...


Hi Mailice! Sorry for this SUPER late reply ^^'

her rucksack anyway


Yes! I do think this is a loan word from German.

They were almost arriving at Witchfield town


I meant the former, just to distinguish it from the Witchfield countryside. :D

I'm glad Golzar's sarcasm and sense of humor gets through! You're right about the story having an overall serious tone, especially in these early parts. I guess I'd describe the kind of story this is as 'tragicomedy', with a lot of the comedy coming from dialogue bits like with Golzar or some more lighthearted scenarios that will pop up later on.

I pronounce Bryn's name as "brin" rhyming with 'tin'. And those are some super interesting observations on what they are like as a character!

Thank you so much for your thoughtful review!




I do not use my siblings as the cleaning equipment.
— Tuckster