1. - Top - End - #154
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Sep 2008

    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    May as well revitalize this with the first "chapter" of a bit of fanfiction I'm working on. Basically, Teen Titans/DCU + Marvel 1602 + Steampunk. Anyway, I'm looking for some critique on how well it works as a hook. Also, the action-y bits: well done or no? Description and dialogue: tolerable or just bad?

    Vault City, California; April 13th, Anno Domini 1896, 15 Years Post-Cometfall. A Meeting At Saint Abney's Park.

    It was already past the twilight hour, and the ringing of the great bronze bells of Laincara Cathedral pierced the oneiric fog that hung over the grim stone streets of Vault City. On the city's west side, airships leaving harbor shone their lights strong, hoping to avoid collision as they ascended from the fog-bound bay; wiser captains stayed in dry-dock completely, waiting for better weather to come again. Some streets began to glow with light already as the lamp-lighters went about their work, while others lay in darkness, causing honest citizenry to hurry through as they made their way to their homes.

    Saint Abney's Park was a cheerful, populous place during the day, a island of green among the stone and glass, but it lay all but deserted now. The lonely fountain in the center of the park – which sported a stained statue of the famed Aegyptian treasure-hunter Daniel Garret on a pedestal in its center – provided the only sounds in the fog-shrouded park. No birds sang, no engines hummed, no gas-lamps hissed, no couples made polite conversation while walking along the ill-kept paths. There was only the sound of water on water, dripping, gushing, running down tubes and flying back up through the spouts. It was a lonely place, content in its solitude, and only two people were within the confines of its hedged walls tonight.

    The first was a man of ill-repute – a cutpurse, a pickpocket, a drunkard, a murderer if he had to be. His name was Cinders, and he was not a lucky man, nor a wise one. Indeed, the only thing he'd been gifted with at birth was brawn, for he was built like a brick wall. To compensate, he was neither overburdened in brains nor wit, and lacked the moral fiber to labor for an honest day's work. But despite his thick head, he was starting to get worried tonight. Yes, the lady he'd been shadowing for three streets now was without companion or guard, and she was sitting alone in Saint Abney's Park, and from the looks of her she was certainly rich – a ruby-and-gold broach sat on her shoulder, pinning her black walking cloak closed, and a belt that, had he the brains to recognize it, had flawless mother-of-pearl trim – and she was just sitting out in the open. Nobody would notice, should he run up now and take every copper penny she had. And yet, there was something about her that made the hairs on the back of his thick neck stand on end.

    It was the veil, he told himself. It was black, matching the rest of her clothing, and it hung from her hat over her face. There was always something unnerving about those – who knew what lurked behind them? What deformity or beauty might she be hiding? Was she one of the warp-freaks, or perhaps a survivor of the pox, or perhaps simply in mourning for a late husband? No, she appeared too young and slight to already be a widow. Cinders steeled himself, forcing down that prickle of anxiety running up his back. After all, you couldn't let anyone spook you when you lived off the streets. That's why pickings were so bad back east, after all.

    What happened next – well, Cinders didn't have a lot of imagination, and that was a good trait on the street, but this – it almost knocked him dead. The lady slowly turned her head, smoothly but sedately, until she was looking straight at his hiding place behind the hedges. And she didn't move a muscle, but just kept staring, for what seemed like five years, which took about a minute or so. And then she spoke, and her voice was quiet, but it was ever-so-slightly wrong. The hairs stood stiff on the back of Cinders' neck. “If you're going to try to rob me, hurry up. I don't have all night.”

    “What?” The little part of Cinders that actually tried to think things through winced in pain as he spoke without thinking, as usual. The element of surprise was, at this point, lost with no hope of it ever returning, so he stood up from behind the bushes and shrugged his shoulders. “Why would you think that? Just having a nice stroll in Saint Abney's–”

    “Don't try to insult me, please.” She rose from the stone bench she was sitting on, her right hand falling to her hip. “Any half-baked mystic from a carnival stall could have read your intentions. A thug follows a woman into a deserted park – did you expect me to believe you were coming to admire the flowers?”

    “...Well then. Your money or your life?” Cinders may have been confused, but even he could fall back on the basic cliched lines of robbers and highwaymen everywhere. Intimidation didn't require brains, just brawn. “Don't scream or you'll get hurt?”

    “You're new to this, aren't you?” She shook her head in contempt of his larcenous ability, even as he started to step forward. She hardly paid any attention to him, in fact, and his long stride ate at the distance in only a handful of steps. She might not even have noticed that he was only ten feet away now. Now eight, now seven, now six. “Only beginners and actors say things like that.”

    “Well, who's going to step in and save you, then?” Cinders pulled his trusty knife out of its sheath with his left hand – it was more often used to cut purse strings, but a knife was a knife. “Ain't nobody in Saint Abney's at this time of night, and there ain't nobody to stop me from taking all you've got.”

    “Actually, I believe he might.” The lady pointed behind Cinders, and fool that he was, he turned and looked just in time to have the boot, originally aimed at the back of his head, crunch into the bridge of his nose. The lady stepped aside with surprising speed to let Cinders go stumbling past her and fall right into the stone bench she'd been sitting on. His knife clattered to the cobblestones beside him. It took a moment for Cinders' head to stop spinning, and another moment to recognize his attacker. Oh, hellfire.

    The man was dressed in a black cloak, with a snug red vest clinging above a green-dyed shirt. Both his gloves and his leggings were black, almost blending into the darkness of his cloak. His wide-brimmed hat cast a shadow over his masked face, and both his belt and vest were covered in pouches and pockets. He smirked as Cinders rose with a roar of fury, then he moved into a ready fighting stance. “Have you no honor, blackguard? Fight someone capable of defending himself!”

    Cinders charged, and slammed into the guy – but he placed his hand just here on Cinder's chest, and instead of trying to stop the unstoppable Cinders, he kept him moving up and forward with a grunt of exertion, because Cinders was no lightweight after all – and now Cinders was flying towards the fountain, out of control, and right before the inevitable conclusion Cinders closed his eyes.


    The mighty Cinders half-pulled himself out of the water, blinking back tears of pain, because despite his legendarily thick skull that had hurt like blazes. He staggered back upright, clenching his fists and already swinging as he turned. His opponent let Cinders' right hook brush past his head nonchalantly, before grabbing Cinders' over-extended arm and shoving him outwards. Cinders stumbled again, and got a fist to the back of the neck for his troubles. Now, Cinders had been through a fight or two in his time, but rarely one-on-one like this. No, Cinders was used to either large gang fights or fights where he had the advantage, viz, being the only one with a knife. But a semi-fair, solo fight like this – well, his talents were wasted. And his head felt like it was on fire, and his already slow reflexes were slowing down even further.

    So Cinders turned and ran out of Saint Abney's Park, entered the alleyway beside the watchman's shop, kept running until he was out of the east quarter entirely and could crash in one of the penny-houses that infested the south side of town, then he began to plot a way to take revenge on the over-confident hero that had beaten him up. At least, he tried to.

    And his plan would have worked perfectly, had not his opponent whipped out a small cylinder from his myriad pockets, flicked it open and pointed the hook at the end straight at the fleeing Cinders' legs. Click went the button on the side, and straightaway out shot the grappling hook and line, curling around Cinders' legs and cutting his retreat short. A firm yank on the line, before Cinders could reclaim his balance, and Cinders found the cobblestones coming up to meet him.


    The fog seemed to seep into Cinders' head, making everything go wavering and black. He gave a shuddering sigh as his fighting spirit finally gave up the ghost, leaving blessed unconsciousness in its wake. His black-caped assailant now attempted to reel in the grappling hook, giving up in disgust when the great bulk of Cinders refused to move. Instead, he turned his attention to the veiled lady, who had watched the entire fight.

    “It's dangerous to be out alone so late. You had best head home for the night, or else something like this might happen again. You wouldn't want that, after all.” His words were quick, terse, to-the-point and ever so slightly condescending. As he spoke, he stepped over to Cinders, applying cuffs to the unconscious thug's wrists, then began to unwind the grappling hook and line from around Cinders' legs with a methodical air. But he stopped short when he heard the veiled lady's laugh.

    “I was aware of the danger, Goodfellow. I knew precisely what I was doing.” The caped man rose and turned, one hidden eyebrow rising in surprise. “You are that shrewd and knavish sprite called Robin Goodfellow, are you not?” Ah, she knew the Bard.

    “Did you risk your health simply so you could speak with me?” Robin backed up slightly, folding his arms over his chest, already frowning. Reckless, he wanted to say, reckless foolish girl. She stepped forward, shaking her head.

    “Hardly. Call it... a happy coincidence.” A flustered lie, but you wouldn't know that from the tone of voice. Her orient-accented voice was as smooth as butter, despite the low timbre and the barely audible echo. That echo – it curled about the ear, implying its presence rather than outright being heard, and that was even more disturbing than an obvious speech defect.

    “No such thing as coincidence.” Robin knelt, pulling his grappling hook free and flicking it back into its cylinder. “You'd best go fetch a constable.”

    “I need your help, Goodfellow.” Several words went unspoken: so I came out to Saint Abney's, because half the sightings of you are said to be within five streets of the park. And you came just as I believed you would. What a hero.

    “A lot of people do.” The grappling hook, now back in its container, went back into the multi-pocketed belt. Robin straightened, started to stride away into the fog.

    “Someone's trying to kill me.” This made Robin stop for a moment, and he half-turned his head, speaking over his shoulder.

    “But you don't have proof, because then you would have gone to the police. Either you can't tell who – and neither could a trained detective – or you have no way of striking at who you suspect. So you come out alone, at night, hoping that I would find you, allowing you to explain your dilemma to the one man who can act freely.” He stopped for a moment, then dashed her hopes in the same quiet, rough (and assumed) voice. “I have to protect a lot of citizens already, miss. I'll do what I can, but I have duties of my own to attend to.”

    Then he continued on, and the fog swallowed him whole, and the lady in black was truly alone. After a moment, she finally unclenched her teeth and released the breath she was holding in. Then she glanced down at the unconscious brute blocking the path with a sigh. “Well, now what?”
    Last edited by Raz_Fox; 2010-05-19 at 02:04 PM.
    freedom in the flame

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.