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(DRAFT) Miscreants: Inauguration - Chapter 4.3

by Liminality


A/N: Last chapter, Bryn and Gerhard got locked in a conversation with Dene Skyroot, a noblewoman who wants to be a hero. In this chapter, the hullaballoo in the waiting room escalates, and then comes to an abrupt end. Meanwhile, Golzar is still in the Queen's room.

It had become a kind of fashion, Gerhard remembered, for noble youth to impersonate the heroes, even during the war. Of course, the aristocracy and their military services were far above the heroes in rank, and they rarely ever mingled even in battle, but stories would spread through taverns, theatre, minstrels, and eventually you had noble ladies dressing in red armour pretending to be Ariga the Crab, Destroyer of Fortresses, Saviour of Cities, Champion at the Bare-handed Fishing Contest in Mariton. Gerhard had no idea how one woman managed to snowball this many titles, but if anyone could do it, it was Councillor Ariga. She was something of an image expert.

For the most part, the strategy was simply to smile and wave. Even if the attention was unwanted. So Gerhard nodded at Dene, hoping that his confusion would slip out of her attention. “That is good to hear,” he said, even though his mind was screaming that it wasn’t, not at all. Deep inside, he pondered: either William was tricking this girl, or he had well and truly lost his mind.

Dene beamed at him. “Say, are you here with the Vanguard Racer?”

Gerhard nodded. “Yes, we came to meet with the Queen.” He couldn’t see any value in lying to her at this moment, given that she might still be hanging around when Golzar emerged from the room.

The flush on her coldly pale cheeks seemed to intensify.

Gerhard could feel the gazes of the two nobles in the back on him. He clenched his jaw. With any luck, this would simply be brushed off as an incident of aristocratic youth mixing with the wrong sort, and them bemoaning what their class had come to. But there was always the possibility someone could mistake his polite deference for egging the young lady on.

“If you will excuse us, my lady,” Gerhard said, reaching out to take Bryn by the elbow. With his other hand, he held out his walking stick, pointing it towards the door. “I just realised we have some affairs to sort out with the bookkeepers.”

Dene blinked, disappointment evident in her downcast gaze. “Oh. Very well then.”

Thankfully, Bryn took the cue, and bowed deeply to Dene. They and Gerhard headed for the door. They could come back to get Golzar later, when there were no noble ladies hanging around. Before Gerhard could get a foot onto the reddish tiles, a practised cough echoed through the corridor.

He looked up to see Lord Redvine. A man of middle age, he was dressed warmly in thick lilac robes, with a large vermillion pendant hanging from his jowly neck. In his right hand, he held a candlestick, with a white wax candle lit within it, which cast a pale yellow glow into the slowly darkening room.

“Lord Brookwood. Lord Thornlee.” Redvine nodded at the two men in the back, who stood up and responded in kind. Then, he waved a hand for Bryn and Gerhard to sit down.

Gerhard stiffened. He glanced towards Dene, who was mid-curtsey towards the older lord. For now, she seemed distracted at least. Meanwhile, Gerhard concentrated his full attention on the biggest problem in the room.

“Captain. Or should I say, Advisor? Or what do you go by now, Gerhard?” Redvine’s voice was large and full, full as his smile.

“I am an Advisor for the Grey Hound Company nowadays, my lord.”

They sat in the row of chairs where they had been sitting before, except now Bryn had Dene Skyroot on their left and Gerhard had Lord Redvine on his right. By this time, the rain had intensified to a definite pounding on the roofs, on the walls where the wind skewed the direction of the water droplets.

“That pleases me to hear. All chevalier companies should have an advisor.”

The light of the candle was thrown over the tiles, revealing the mosaic patterns in red and terra cotta.

Gerhard wondered if Lord Redvine would be able to tell what they were up to. It was not unusual for heroes, and Guild Councillors especially, to meet with the Queen. During the war, they had met with her often to discuss the progress of the battles against Korvus, the villages and towns they were reclaiming, and the few they were losing to the King’s forces. In the later years, they had little bad news to report to her. Most of their losses were the sorts of things heroes kept to themselves – a home village infested by rats, a harvest lost, an injured comrade long left to the infirmary that had perished.

The man’s beady eyes regarded Gerhard, briefly. Soon, though, he had drifted to converse with Lords Brookwood and Thornlee. He should have just sat next to them in the first place, Gerhard thought with irritation, but maybe this was another one of Redvine’s tactics to intimidate him.

“My lord,” Redvine said to Thornlee, “I trust your scribes have started copying the battle analyses from the past year?”

“Yes,” said Thornlee, his voice soft but grating, brittle. “There is much to discuss but – “ Gerhard guessed he was looking at the two heroes in the room “ – perhaps tomorrow.”

The room settled into a slow rhythm, with the old noblemen speaking amongst themselves. Dene would glance at Bryn and Gerhard from time to time, as if holding something back but desperately wanting to blurt out whatever she was thinking. And they all would check the door to the Queen’s chambers, which remained hopelessly still.

~

When the door to the Queen’s room shifted, Bryn was the first to notice. They saw a flash of white-lavender appear in the small crack, and then suddenly the intricate wooden carvings were moving outwards, revealing the young woman standing behind. Queen Lucretia scanned the room, hands clasped behind her.

“My lords,” she said, her voice immediately silencing everyone in the room. “I will be free after lunch tomorrow.”

Thornlee and Brookwood exchanged a glance. Then they rose from their seats, bowed, echoed a “Your Grace” simultaneously and left the room.

As Gerhard put a hand on their elbow, reminding them to stand and bow before the Queen, Bryn watched the pair exit, eyes wide. She could just send them away like that, after they’d probably been waiting the whole day. Bryn had heard Queen Lucretia was usually organised with her appointments, never letting people wait more than a few hours. Furthermore, Bryn didn’t see Golzar anywhere.

Redvine remained. At first, Bryn was wondering why he did not exit with the others, but then Queen Lucretia signalled towards a smaller door tucked next to her chambers. He nodded at her, opened it and sauntered into the opening, using the candlestick to light his path up a dark stairwell.

“Advisor. Captain.” Bryn jerked up, when the Queen addressed both of them. Lucretia regarded them with curious onyx eyes, which glinted with red in the torchlight. “Is William here?”

William? Bryn’s brow furrowed.

“I haven’t seen him,” Gerhard said. Bryn checked his expression from the corner of their eye. His face was a stone mask, his jaw slightly clenched. Surely, Bryn thought, he would be as worried as they were. They wanted to keep this whole affair about the motion secret from William. After all, they were basically undermining him by doing this. If the Guild Chief himself turned up at the door, and they didn’t have a good reason to present to him for meeting with the Queen so late at night, they would be in hot water. Bryn bit the inside of their cheek. And if Golzar didn’t manage to convince the Queen, and Lucretia instead reported their meeting to William . . . Bryn wished they had all just left for Zenith or one of the northern kingdoms early on. This was all too much.

“Oh. Let me know when he’s here, then.” Lucretia turned around, preparing to re-enter her chambers. “Curious. Not like him to send an advance entourage.”

The doors shut with a thump. Beside them, Dene Skyroot stood up. “I guess I’ll go,” she said. She’d clearly been thrown off-balance by the Queen’s sudden appearance. Bryn doubted she’d even come here to meet the Queen in the first place. She gave them a dip of the head, which Gerhard and Bryn returned, and then she strode out the corridor.

Bryn let out a shaky sigh, as they sat down again.  


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Tue Jun 28, 2022 8:30 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Hey Lim!

I've been filtering the Green Room by oldest to newest when I review and for some secret strange YWS reason when I do so it just doesn't show me chapters of this that are easily the oldest ones in the GR! I found them by accident earlier when I forgot to click the filter button and now I feel so bad because I honestly thought we'd collectively cleared everything up until May and now I see works from AUGUST 2021!! I shall put them at the top of my list!

Now that's out of the way, let's get onto the review for this chapter. I think overall it worked well, and the pace seemed to move things along without getting too quick and rushing through. I was able to follow it all, even though my reading of the previous parts has been a bit sporadic.

I'm not sure how I felt about Dene's character. At first she seems like an aid, moving us along to the next part of the story and to kind of cement the setting but then when she was mentioned again later it surprised me because I kind of forgot she was in the room? I'm not sure whether it makes more sense to keep a bit more focus on her throughout or to have her leave the room, but this felt like a kind of halfway point between the two and it didn't really work for me.

The scene cut also felt like it came at a bit of an odd time, but that might be an effect of separating the chapter out into parts, so feel free to ignore that one if it flows better as a whole!

I liked the interaction between the characters here, and especially how they all react to the appearance of the Queen! One thing I would mention is that given they all speak in a similar formal manner it can become difficult to differentiate them with one another. The dialogue tags of course help, but it might just be something to watch out for in future!

Overall a well written and enjoyable chapter, and I'm sorry it took me so long to get to! Hope this was somewhat worth the wait :)


Icy




Liminality says...


Thanks for the review Icy!

I totally get what you're saying about Dene. Even though this was part of her introductory scene, I feel it wasn't her strongest one and I should have maybe introduced her in a different sequence when the meeting with the Queen wasn't taking up most of the focus.

Thanks for the tip on the formal language as well. I'm not 100% sure how I might try to make their voices more distinguishable, maybe by making the hero characters more awkward/ poorer at speaking in the formal register than the nobles, but it's a good thing for me to look into.



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Fri Aug 27, 2021 1:32 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi Lim,

Mailice a third time here with a short review! :D

I haven't read the last part of chapter 4 yet, but I have the impression that it is built like a bridge by means of the four parts, where the two outer pillars belong together and the two inner pillars I have just read belong together.

From the technique and the structure, I welcome that kind and also how you create that kind of break to create a cliffhanger and you find out what Gerhard's situation is. I found it continued to have that relaxed mood like in the last chapter with this ominous presence over everyone. It was funny to see Gerhard wanting to leave and being stopped and yet it was an uncertainty. The fact that you keep repeating yourself with the two-tier society and the possibility of rumours starting, I feel it's an urgent matter that needs to be developed there. You manage to build up tension, but if it remains without consequences, I found the build-up a little too strongly built in.

I found here that Dene got a bit lost in the silence when Redvine showed up, and thought it was a shame that you didn't hear or at least read anything from her about how she reacts or whether or not she listens, etc…. I really didn't think of that in the last part when Dene had talked to Gerhard; what if she tells William about meeting him? That will certainly lead to complications.

I liked the chapter because it went on with the same ease as the last one. In general, I think there is a lot going on in the story that has already developed a bit more in the last chapters, which I like. Not only do you see more of Gerhard, Bryn and Golzar, but you also see the surrounding and how everything is connected. I really like how you've created this worldbuilding, and how it opens up and expands with each new page.

I can see why you made a break to separate 4.2. and 4.3., but in general I didn't get the impression that this was necessary, because the effect in 4.3. faded quickly after Gerhard thought about it. I think it would also have been good if you had just added a short new paragraph, or something to build on this cliffhanger "effect" in the chapter itself, such as a pigeon suddenly flying in, or one of the old men sitting behind them coughing, so that there is a pause where this distraction is briefly considered before continuing.

Some points I found while reading:

how one woman managed to snowball this many titles,

I like the expression you use here. I don't think I've read that for ages.

And they all would check the door to the Queen’s chambers, which remained hopelessly still.
~
When the door to the Queen’s room shifted, Bryn was the first to notice.

I am not a fan of finishing a sentence and then starting the new section after a short timeskip and continuing there. It feels so fake. Maybe you could insert what Bryn were doing or thinking when the door opened.

never letting people wait more than a few hours.

Sounds like my dentist. :D

Have fun writing!

Mailice




Liminality says...


Hiya Mailice! Thanks for the awesome review!

I found here that Dene got a bit lost in the silence when Redvine showed up, and thought it was a shame that you didn't hear or at least read anything from her about how she reacts or whether or not she listens, etc%u2026.

Ah that's right! I did get caught up writing all these characters in the same room, so I ended up forgetting Dene was there for a bit it seems >.<

think it would also have been good if you had just added a short new paragraph, or something to build on this cliffhanger "effect" in the chapter itself, such as a pigeon suddenly flying in, or one of the old men sitting behind them coughing, so that there is a pause where this distraction is briefly considered before continuing.


That's a good idea! Thanks :D

I am not a fan of finishing a sentence and then starting the new section after a short timeskip and continuing there. It feels so fake. Maybe you could insert what Bryn were doing or thinking when the door opened

Yeah, agreed. The scene cuts as the chapters go on get a bit iffy, so thanks for pointing that out!




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