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(DRAFT) Miscreants: Inauguration - Chapter 3.5

by Liminality


A/N - In the previous scene, Golzar had just left Gerhard and Tanya at the training grounds, after talking through her meeting with Raymond. In this chapter, she tries to remedy the disaster of said meeting by using a different approach.

If there were taverns beside Neverheim’s Lover in this part of Lucrece, Golzar and her company never frequented them. The small establishment was a favourite for heroes, constantly teeming with sprawls of customers waiting outside or being seated along the road. Some would even bring their own bowls to take food home with them, in the fashion of the ancient inhabitants where Woodlands now was.

Golzar pushed open the door and walked in. The people who lived on the floor upstairs were just creeping down the staircase, a pair of women who slunk past Golzar with twin scowls on their faces. It was a noisy place.

As Golzar looked around the room, she noticed the spread of people who were eating and drinking there that evening. Seated under the round bronze shield that hung from the tavern’s backmost wall were a group of burly men, who surrounded a somewhat shorter but no less muscular individual. Golzar frowned in surprise. She could recognise them as the Bold Hundreds, the infantry-driven hero company officially led by William.

They didn’t seem to be here on official business. The leader, Ashley, was sitting casually, with one of their legs propped up on the opposite knee. Golzar saw them smirk slightly at something one of the men said. Rumour had it that Ashley never smiled.

Satisfied that William himself was nowhere in sight, Golzar let her gaze drift towards the shield. The intricate carvings in the metal of the Goddesses’ clay soldiers glinted in the amber light of the fireplace.

Throughout the tavern, long rectangular tables were cramped together, forcing her to move in a snake-like slither, zig-zagging to make any progress from one end of the room to the next. Eventually, she plopped down on a barstool with a sigh and ordered herself a cup of ale.

“We have a shipment of wine, Dame,” the barkeeper offered. “And the spiced sort, as well.”

“Ale is fine,” she said.

She turned towards the door, eyes peeled for a shock of red hair that could pop out from anywhere.

Instead, there was the sound of familiar voices. Golzar breathed a sigh of relief when the barkeeper slid her cup over, sipping it to avoid looking at Robert as he walked in with a couple of friends. Golzar pulled her black hood over her head. He didn’t seem to notice her. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Robert, ducking carefully to fit under the door. Beside him Alexis followed, wearing a long-sleeved shirt so that only one of their flower tattoos showed – the one that went up their right cheek. Alexis had had their hands freed up since the last examination of the company’s weaponry. If not for that, they would have been bogged down at the Guild Hall with the other heroes who had some weapons expertise. The other two that were with them must have been from another hero company, or perhaps they weren’t heroes at all. Golzar didn’t recognise them.

It was just as well that Golzar had noticed Robert first, because Alexis had nearly the same shade of red hair as Raymond had, worn in the same style, too – and that mistake, Golzar thought while grimacing, would have been awkward for everyone involved.

She watched them squeeze into a distant corner of the tavern. The cup of ale was half-empty.

The door was flung open, and for a second time, Golzar thought Raymond was there. On another look, however, that was clearly not the case. The tavern was at full capacity. The seats beside Golzar had long since been filled; she was brushing elbows with a young woman and a burly man with a red scarf.

The newest additions to the crowd were a pair of lean, olive-eyed youths, one of whom was carrying a purse. Next, a man in a blue tunic walked in, laughing heartily, guided by a tavern girl, who swiftly shut the door on the line waiting outside. Golzar vaguely recognised him as one of the lords’ sons she had seen at the Queen’s coronation. A nobleman.

Just then, the man with the red scarf rose, emptying his mug, and went to join the growing party in the back corner of the tavern.

The nobleman sat down in the free seat.

He peered at Golzar for a moment, as the tavern girl slipped around to the other side of the counter.

“Dame Golzar?” he said. “Fancy seeing you here!”

“A pleasure, my lord.” Golzar said perfunctorily. She found she still could not recall his name. What was it, Redvine? Skyroot? No, she decided, he couldn’t have been from one of the major families, because Gerhard had forced her to know the members of those by heart.

“I’d much rather sit with you here, than go mingling with those . . . more rambunctious of your sort.” He side-eyed the tangle of heroes in the back of the inn, side-eyed Robert, and Alexis, and their two friends, who seemed to be farmers’ sons, laughing and rousing up another song.

Golzar noticed the nobleman would wipe the tips of his fingers with a handkerchief whenever he came into physical contact with the tavern girl, or the man sitting on his right. She tried hard not to narrow her eyes.

“Has your company dealt with those peasant riots?” he went on in a low voice. “Troublesome little things, ever since the war ended, now everyone with a sword thinks they can do anything . . . “

Golzar took a slow, careful sip of her ale. She shook her head. Golzar only ever wore the colours of the Grey Hound company. She never indulged in the russet or carmine shades usually donned by freepersons to distinguish them from serfs. It seemed, she thought, as though some lords and ladies would try to find out the class of each individual hero before deciding to speak to them as semi-equals. If she had been a serf and not a freeperson, this man would not be sitting next to her. To be frank, she would have been glad of it.

From the back of the tavern, threads of a familiar song began to rise.

The mother was a winding trunk,

She sharpened knives for whey.

Her garden red, with flowers sunk

beneath an apple tree.

The father with his haughty locks,

He hurtled down the stair

And bonked his head upon the rocks

And no one saw him there

The son came running out to see

Just what had tripped the man

And from the thick and rooted tree

A tendril stretched, wide-spanned!

She remembered once discussing these lyrics at a temple, somewhere between the borders of Woodlands and Witchfield. Like many folk songs, it was joined together with and alluded to the wider written literary tradition in the kingdom. The colour ‘red’ was shorthand for premeditated murder, and whey shorthand for betrayal.

As they were preparing to go one with the next verse, Raymond appeared at the door, looking dishevelled with strands of his hair hanging loose around his face. He had dressed himself in a blue hooded cloak, neither wanting to be recognised as himself nor wanting to be recognised as anything less than noble-born. Golzar watched with keen eyes as he squeezed between several other patrons. She would have to move fast.

Golzar removed her hood so Raymond would see her and waved him over to the seat beside her.

Raymond seemed caught off guard. He did not look her in the eye. Internally, Golzar scoffed. It was almost as if he really came here for just a drink. Almost, but not quite.

When the nobleman from earlier recognised Raymond, he shot out of his seat and beckoned for Raymond to take it. The chorus of ‘my lord’s and ‘most honoured’s was nearly unbearable, even for the Lord Steward himself. He sat down carefully, seeming uncertain of the stability of the chair.

Likely thinking that Golzar had arranged such a meeting with Raymond and that he was no longer welcome to intrude upon the Lord Steward’s evening, the nobleman left.

“How’s your evening been, my lord?” Golzar addressed Raymond neutrally. “Enjoy the sights?”

Blinking, he scrutinised her, as if staring would reveal all the hidden intentions behind her words. But he was distracted. Before he replied, another song started up towards the back of the tavern, and he glanced towards the heroes there. Golzar knew that look, no matter how briefly it flashed in his eyes. It was longing.

Outside, rain began to pour, spattering against the ground. The sound distracted both of them for a moment.

When he spoke with her, his tone did not reveal that spark of emotion. “It is important for us to know the tastes of the common folk.”

Her heart was pounding at a hard but steady beat. The room seemed to dissolve as she peered at his face, searching for a chink in the armour. Golzar reached for her cup. It was empty, but she found herself raising it to her lips anyway.

“What do you think happened in the end?” she said, finally, with feigned casualness. At Raymond’s questioning look, she nodded towards the singing bunch.

He found the mother burning books

Inside the hut of grey.

“Go not looking in the nooks,

Your father’s gone today."

“I – well . . . “ Raymond’s gaze was searching. His eyes flickered from Golzar to the edge of the table. His mouth opened, then snapped shut.

Golzar did not let up, hoping he’d realise she was being serious. The woman beside her cast a curious glance their way.

The wine Raymond had ordered arrived. He sipped at it rather quickly. “I’d suppose the mother was the killer. The thick-rooted tree represents her. And of course she was sharpening her knives for whey, there in the beginning.”

“Oh? One can never trust a person who burns books, hmm.”

Raymond nodded vigorously.

There it was. Golzar knew that look. It was the look she saw on Bryn’s face if she ever started talking to them about mountains and pebbles and sediments.

Whey had been established as symbolic of betrayal in a famous book, The Language of Dairy in Tales. It had been written by a noblewoman – whose name Golzar always had a hard time remembering – and for generations a staple of temple libraries, passed between the hands of clerics.

Golzar wondered where Raymond would have gotten the idea to read it. Though the tutors of noblemen did teach them to read, it was always for book-keeping or economics. The mysteries of temple lore and craft were often a closed door to men, who were expected to deal only in sword and blood.

As he spoke, Raymond began to glow. He seemed all too flattered being asked his opinion on all this. “I’ve always thought the whey here was for betrayal, and not for any of the lesser meanings in the Old Compendiums . . . “

“Well, it couldn’t possibly mean ‘the skin of the rotting apple’ here, now, would it?” said Golzar. Raymond laughed.

“You don’t find it strange?” he said, when he was thoroughly drunk, and Golzar was sure her own ale had completely worn off. “Most of the people I speak to think it ridiculous that I . . . read at all. ‘Stead of practicing my swordsmanship.”

Golzar supposed he meant reading for pleasure. And listening to folk songs. And wandering into the haunts of heroes late at night.

“Gender doesn’t determine the quality of your interpretation,” Golzar said, hoping the bartender wouldn’t notice she was again pretending to sip from an empty cup. She was just keeping up the ruse, at this point. Getting into character.

She leaned to the side, as though whispering to some invisible other guest, and mimicked one of the temple ladies she remembered keeping boys out of the reading halls. Raymond exploded into guffaws.

A while before the tavern closed for the night, Raymond left, looking pleased with himself, a smile playing at his lips and a flush in his cheeks. Mission accomplished, Golzar thought. Now, she just had to wait and see.


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Sun Sep 19, 2021 5:38 pm
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Liberty wrote a review...



Hellooo Lim!! <33

I'm here as you requested with a review on what I think is going on in this chapter of yours! c: Firstly, I hope you're doing well and everything's been good for you <3 I shall begin the review~ ^^

Oookay so obviously I haven't read the first few chapters so if I get something wrong or just sound random then please excuse me haha. What I understand after reading the first few paragraphs is that Golzar, who I'm assuming is the main character, is out with her people and she's going to a tavern in... A place called Lucrece! (fr tho if u made up these names - v cool my dude) And mostly heroes and such people go to places like that, and people love the taverns so much they bring their own bowls to save food for later at home. (it must be real good omg i wanna have some of the food)

She could recognise them as the Bold Hundreds, the infantry-driven hero company officially led by William.

Spoiler! :
Image

why do they sound scary but also very heroic

The leader, Ashley, was sitting casually,

vaaat - I thought William was the leader xD

Okay considering the fact that Golzar is happy about William not being around, he's got to be some sort of bad person. Also ooh what's Golzar doing here :eyes: She's checking out the shields and - OH WAIT IS GOLZAR LIKE SOME SORT OF LIKE THIEF - apologies if I'm wrong but here me out fam - this tavern is a place where heroes usually chill around at, right? And the Bold Hundred are apparently heroes of some sort and William is the leader, and Golzar was like "phew he's not here" and now she's looking at fancy shields

Spoiler! :
i am sherlock holmes heheh
Image

but i could be wrong lol


Ahhh so many people so many people ok so there's Ashley and William who I guess co-lead the Bold Hundred and then there's red head Robert and long-sleeved Alexis. And they could possibly be heroes?? But Golzar isn't sure, since she hasn't seen them.

Also... Golzar just put her hood up so that the people who just came in wouldn't see her... Is she trying to hide something...? :eyes:

Oh and now there's a Raymond

And there was a war, apparently! According to the nobleman Golzar doesn't know the name of.

OKAY SO GOLZAR'S FROM THE GREY HOUND COMPANY IS THAT GOOD OR BAD IDK WE'LL SEE

It seemed, she thought, as though some lords and ladies would try to find out the class of each individual hero before deciding to speak to them as semi-equals.

Okay but isn't that what everyone does -.-

The colour ‘red’ was shorthand for premeditated murder, and whey shorthand for betrayal.

mah gurl there's some red around you rn - the man in the red scarf, the red heads, etc...

Also by the information I've collected so far, I think this is how it works in Golzar's world. Lord and ladies are better than heroes, and there are different classes of heroes, serfs, freepersons, etc. And Golzar is a freeperson, which is a higher class than serf. No idea what that is but maybe I'll find out! And then there's noble people, and idk if they're higher than heroes or not, but considering the way the nobleman who was talking to Golzar treated her, they're probably a higher class.

It was almost as if he really came here for just a drink. Almost, but not quite.

*flashback to the shield*

When the nobleman from earlier recognised Raymond, he shot out of his seat and beckoned for Raymond to take it.

Oh so I'm assuming Raymond and Golzar know each other (really lib? quite the sherlock) AND they're meeting up in this tavern to meet up to discuss something AND Raymond's a nobleman. And Raymond doesn't really enjoy being a nobleman? Y'know, I think he's done something very cool and people are treating him so well. Because the other nobleman that Golzar was talking to didn't get that special treatment.

A while before the tavern closed for the night, Raymond left, looking pleased with himself, a smile playing at his lips and a flush in his cheeks. Mission accomplished, Golzar thought. Now, she just had to wait and see.

Okay I'm nottt exactly sure what the mission was and what exactly was accomplished obviously because I haven't read the past chapters lol BUT if her mission was to make Raymond laugh, that's wholesome. But what if she was tryna make him comfy with her so she could get him to spell the beans about something? :0 I'm really not sure <.< And what does she have to wait and see?? What is she waiting for ahfjahf

But anyway! I think I mentioned pretty much everything you asked for me to cover. Hopefully this review was what you asked for. Please let me know if you have any questions, I would love to answer them :') Thank you for requesting a review, by the way~ ^^

Wishing you a singing, dancing good time <3

~Lib




Liminality says...


Thanks so much for your lively review, Lib! I loved reading your impressions of all the different parts. <3

(it must be real good omg i wanna have some of the food)

If I was good with food I might make up some cool dishes for this worldbuilding thing, but I'm - not - so all we have is mushroom stew XD

why do they sound scary but also very heroic


Oh that is a very spot-on impression!!

vaaat - I thought William was the leader xD

Oof yup! That probably warrants some explanation. So William is the chief of the whole Heroes' Guild right now, which is why he just doesn't have the time to lead his own company personally, so Ashley is the leader in practice, though William still has his name listed as their commander officially. But yep, I def slipped up just calling both of them 'leader' there!

Also ooh what's Golzar doing here :eyes: She's checking out the shields and - OH WAIT IS GOLZAR LIKE SOME SORT OF LIKE THIEF - apologies if I'm wrong but here me out fam - this tavern is a place where heroes usually chill around at, right?

OH this made me laugh so much XD I love that! Golzar isn't a thief, but the descriptions of her looking at the shield sure make her sound interested in it like you said.

Ahhh so many people so many people ok so there's Ashley and William who I guess co-lead the Bold Hundred and then there's red head Robert and long-sleeved Alexis. And they could possibly be heroes?? But Golzar isn't sure, since she hasn't seen them.

Also... Golzar just put her hood up so that the people who just came in wouldn't see her... Is she trying to hide something...? :eyes:

:eyes: But also YEAH there are so many people in this tavern! I think this was one of those parts where I was like 'oh no I need all these people introduced before the next plot point comes, here we go!' and this happened XD.

Okay but isn't that what everyone does -.-

Reality? In my fantasy story? (more likely that you think XP)

mah gurl there's some red around you rn - the man in the red scarf, the red heads, etc...

the red heads XD True that! Hah I never thought of this setting's colour symbolism thing (that applies as like, a literary trope for their songs and stories) applying to 'real life' as well.

Lord and ladies are better than heroes, and there are different classes of heroes, serfs, freepersons, etc. And Golzar is a freeperson, which is a higher class than serf. No idea what that is but maybe I'll find out! And then there's noble people, and idk if they're higher than heroes or not, but considering the way the nobleman who was talking to Golzar treated her, they're probably a higher class.

You are definitely Sherlock Holmes, Lib, because that's exactly right!

Y'know, I think he's done something very cool and people are treating him so well. Because the other nobleman that Golzar was talking to didn't get that special treatment.

:eyes: Yes he has indeed done something very cool (he's the Queen's right hand, and I'm glad it shows!).

Okay I'm nottt exactly sure what the mission was and what exactly was accomplished obviously because I haven't read the past chapters lol BUT if her mission was to make Raymond laugh, that's wholesome. But what if she was tryna make him comfy with her so she could get him to spell the beans about something? :0


Oof sorry I left you so confused XD Yeah, this is stuff that is kind of explained in the previous chapters. She's trying to get a favour from Raymond. Since he's the Queen's right hand, and she wants to arrange a meeting with the Queen, he could help her with that, but he has to have a good impression of her first and that's why she's doing all this.

Hmm questions . . . I have a few :D What did you think of the songs in this chapter? And of the dialogue where Raymond and Golzar discuss the interpretations of the songs? Did that help you form a picture of what their world/ society is like?

Thank you again so much, Lib - this was a very fun review to read!



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Sun Jul 25, 2021 4:57 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi Lim,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

This was a striking and also unusual chapter because it was a bit different from the others. I found it to be optimal and yet strange at the beginning, but also had the feeling that you couldn't put very much more in there to insert or change anything.

The chapter had a good mix between the dialogue and the descriptions. I especially liked that you included the songs that were sung and they talked about them a bit. It made me feel very much like I was in a tavern. I thought that at the beginning that feeling didn't really come across when Golzar went there, but during the chapter more of that feeling finally came across.

I also liked the inclusion of the nobleman and the short conversation. Although he was only a short read, I liked his dialogues. They were different from the previous ones, there was something about them that I couldn't interpret so directly.

I felt that the chapter also read a little differently than usual. It seemed like the main thing here was that the plot was moving forward. There was less detail and comment from Golzar. It's not a bad thing, but it was noticeable. At the same time, I think it was also a good way to end this conversation with Raymond quickly, and gave the reader the sense that it was still about something serious. I liked that Golzar came up with this little plan and hope that she will be able to reap the rewards soon.

In summary, it was a good chapter with a great structure and shifting mood, and yet I was gripped that it read differently in terms of context. However, I also think it is better to read 3.4 and 3.5 in succession to better appreciate and understand the overall construct.

Nevertheless, I liked it and I also liked the set-up, how Golzar prepared himself and how everything will turn out now.

Other points that caught my eye:

The people who lived on the floor upstairs were just creeping down the staircase, a pair of women who slunk past Golzar with twin scowls on their faces.

I read the sentence a few times because I somehow had the impression that the sentence was missing something. I think it's a semicolon, instead of the comma, because your subordinate clause refers to the main clause, but it's more of an action that begins and ends.

"Oh? One can never trust a person who burns books, hmm."

I like that statement. It reminds me of the quote by Heinrich Heine, "Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.". Maybe doesn't quite fit in, but it was the first thing that came to my mind when Golzar spoke.

The Language of Dairy in Tales. It had been written by a noblewoman - whose name Golzar always had a hard time remembering - and for generations a staple of temple libraries, passed between the hands of clerics.

Is this something like a little foreshadowing and that's why the name is not revealed?

"Gender doesn't determine the quality of your interpretation," Golzar said, hoping the bartender wouldn't notice she was again pretending to sip from an empty cup.

I like this detail that Golzar has nothing left to drink, but still pretends. :D

Have fun writing!

Mailice




Liminality says...


Thank you so much for the detailed review, Mailice! It's really helpful :D




Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.
— Homer Simpson