A short story that I've written

Dioltach

Legend
Lately I've found that at the end of a long day I don't really have much energy for reading. Strangely, perhaps, I've been writing a lot instead. If anyone's interested, here's an example, the first in a Sword & Sorcery series that I call The Tales of Henren the Bloody and the Cat.

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The gift of speech

A tale of Henren the Bloody and the Cat


I heard them long before they came into sight: first the piercing wail of an infant, then, as I drew closer, the raised voices of a woman and a man. Topping a slight rise in the road I saw them: a couple of pedlars standing beside a small but heavily loaded cart with a long-faced donkey yoked to it. The man was holding the infant in his arms and berating the woman, who was peering down at one of the cart’s wheels and snapping back at him.

They weren’t so preoccupied that they didn’t notice my approach, though. The roads were safer than they had been, but no experienced traveller would let a stranger come up on them unawares. The couple held off their arguing as I approached, the woman rising to move beside the man with a long-handled hammer in her hands and the man turning half away with the infant, as if ready to dash into the trees lining the road. Even the child stopped its mewling, as if sensing its parents’ apprehension.

I slowed my pace as I neared to give them the chance to look me over. I saw them take in the short spear and sword strapped to the flanks of the horse that I led and the heavy dagger at my belt – I lifted my cloak obligingly to give them a clearer view – before their gaze turned back to the horse. More precisely, their eyes were drawn to the Cat’s cradle mounted before the saddle. The Cat himself, black as coal from nose to tail, was out of sight for them, curled up in the cradle. It was a sunny day, so I’d folded back the cover that protected him from rain and cold.

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See the PDF attached to read the rest of the story.
 

Attachments

  • Henren the Bloody and the Cat - The Gift of Speech.pdf
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Dioltach

Legend
In response to what I can only assume is stunned silence, here's another story of Henren the Bloody and the Cat.

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A short story

A tale of Henren the Bloody and the Cat



“Bring me a story, Henren the Bloody,” the old man said. “That’s my price.”

I stared at him for a moment, and he stared right back. There was a feverish look in his eye, and his skin was sallow, with a few wispy white hairs on his chin. But this was a shabby inn in a poor part of a trading town that had been hit hard by the war, and there were many who looked much worse than him. Plenty who acted crazier too, despite his most recent pronouncement.

“A story?” I repeated. “That’s all you want?”

“That’s all I want. But – ” he interrupted me with a cackle as I was about to speak again, “but it’s got to be your own story. I’m not interested in someone else’s adventures. What’s more,” he poked a bony finger into my chest, “I want it clean. Nothing stale, nothing that’s been bandied around in taverns and mead halls.” Another poke. “Bring me something fresh off the streets.”

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As before, the story continues in the attached PDF.
 

Attachments

  • Henren the Bloody and the Cat - A Short Story.pdf
    128.3 KB · Views: 14

Dioltach

Legend
OK, so no thoughts from anyone? That's pretty unique in the two decades that I've been hanging out here. Usually people are more outspoken. Or is it a question of "if you can't think of think of anything nice to say, don't say anything"?

To be clear: I wouldn't have posted these stories if I hadn't been looking for honest feedback. I like to think they're better than some published books I've read, but that's possibly just because I'm writing what I'd like to read. So still looking for people's thoughts.
 

Richards

Legend
Okay, I'll be your first reviewer.

First off, the reason I initially ignored this thread after having read your first post: I'm not a fan of cats. (Allergies will do that - I prefer to be able to breathe over any comfort a cat might bring.) But then curiosity struck me, as I too had noticed nobody had responded to your thread in a week and a half, and I know how frustrating it can be hoping for feedback and getting nothing back.

So, general impressions: the stories are well written. They're also apparently out of order, given it's the second one (and is "A short story" the actual name of that short story?) that details the meeting of Henren the Bloody and the Cat. The stories were short enough to overcome my original hesitancy to devote a lot of time to reading something I wasn't originally inclined to read. Their short length obviously makes it difficult to advance very much as far as worldbuilding goes, but I already get a good feel for what type of world in which these tales take place, and you've dropped a few intriguing details (like a talking stone face over a river) that hint at the bigger world. And despite my general dislike of cats, the Cat is an intriguing character - enough so I wouldn't mind reading more, to learn more about him.

Are you thinking of eventually publishing these? While they are both already very polished, I did note a missing word at the end of the fifth paragraph of "The gift of speech" ("As if it my fault his peace and quiet was being disturbed" could probably use a "were" after "it".) I was also struck by the oddity (to my American eyes) of the word "pedlar" - but Google informs me that's a British variant of "peddler." Likewise, "miaow" stood out as looking strange, as I'm much more accustomed to "meow," but that's just a stylistic choice.

So, well done! Of the two, I think I enjoyed "The gift of speech" better because it was more standalone; "A short story" is apparently only the first part of a series of encounters, assuming Henren the Bloody and the Cat seek out the Grand Duchess and eventually find out the details of the Sea Prince's whereabouts.

Johnathan
 

Dioltach

Legend
@Richards Thanks for reading the stories, and for the review, much appreciated on both counts, particularly in the face of your allergies!

The reason why they're not in chronological order is that "The gift of speech" probably wouldn't have as much impact if the reader is already familiar with the Cat. So it serves as a sort of teaser, I suppose. At some point I'd like to see about getting them published, once I have enough stories ready.

I don't know whether I'll revisit the Sea Prince, but the Grand Duchess should make an appearance at some point. Personally, I like stories where there's a lot more hinted at than actually told, so the reader can let there imagination fill in the blanks, and most of what I've written a short stand-alone incidents.

Anyway, thanks again for reading and sharing your thoughts - and for wanting to read more!
 

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