I suppose these problems hold true for other genres.
When starting off should I set the scene, or theme of the book
(The above is quite allegorical by the way, I couldn’t keep a straight face and describe this- my problem, I suppose)
Or should the characters be introduced
(Oh for goodness’ sake lady! I’ll grant you; you look the warrior, but at least put some practical battle gear on, like big-mouth up there)
So allegories aside, the decision was made to set the scene.
Now these days most Fantasy works require battles, or fights at least, leading to battles. However, maybe it’s through my reading much military history, but it always strikes me that the adage ‘A plan does not survive first contact with the enemy’ holds true. Also battles start off with scouts, skirmishes, or accidental contacts. Taking these threads into account I wanted to portray a simmering scenario where war would start by an accumulation of events. None of your highbornes plotting and suchwhichs…. nah! This is more a case them having to catch up and turn up later on. This is about small folk at the sharp end.
Thus the first part of the first chapter centred around ‘An Event’, when this was being written it wasn’t clear if the folk mentioned would even play any further part. They may. Depends on how events pan out. However this is how the tales begins..
Translator Pastoral Padragh ClnMyla stepped carefully but with a swiftness born of keeping the Good Lord God’s Wisdom alive in many a mucky urban setting. Although truth be known Yermetz presented quite a challenge in that particular ranking. The town with schemes to become a city, albeit a small one, was relying on its undercurrent of craftiness and willingness of the very poor to do anything for the next meal. So naturally of all the places within his Supervisory this was the one which attracted his attention, so many sorts of conflagrations or deluges could start from a kindling in the summer of discontent or in the winter of damp despair.
Someone loomed out of the shadows of an alley, a cudgel raised, ClnMyla sighed unto himself.
‘The soft fight will serve just as well and less messy to clean up,’ his old tutor had said, wise words made powerful from a man who had suffered much.
“Will you put that down son,” his voice was quiet, but nonetheless certain in its conviction, causing the fellow who had been expecting at least a flinch to pause “Even in this wicked place thumping a Translator Pastoral is not advisable, not good for the image of a town which would be a city,” the man leant forward and peered at his would be victim, a small slight man, steady unruffled “Some local folks would be very angry at you, because an injured or missing Translator Pastoral attracts the attention of very unpleasant people who make careers out of ruining the worthies of small towns,”
“Uuh,” was the response and the cudgel lowered, but raised again, then a pause, a shrug the requisite obscenity and then slinking back into the shadows.
“Thank The Good Lord God for the gift of the tongue and brain being in communion,”
The value of presentation could not be underestimated.
And he went on his way.
This street had seen better days, once a place where folk who had done well for themselves had resided. Then as was the way fortunes declined, forgers of new ones had other preferences and so the street abandoned by fashion and money became one of decaying buildings, whose rooms now collections of individual ragged homes, forlorn fragile businesses and location where folk who did not wish to be known went about their ways furtively.
The house on the corner was in a particularly sorry way. The windows of all three upper floors, a series of broken glassed, rotting window framed dead eyes. Only from the ground floor did the faint flickerings of candles indicate some measure of habitation. Translator Pastoral ClnMyla glanced up to the sagging roof, wondering if one hard knock at the door might cause a structural collapse. But the brief worry was dispelled as the door opened and a thick set form stepped out onto the muddied walkway.
“It’s a great relief to see you Mentor,” the man’s voice ruff by harsh urban life was low all the same, one firm scarred hand moving about the translator’s shoulder to usher him inside while the other quietly closed the door.
“Harrdel man, you should be investing in more candle light hereabouts. This gloom is not good for the soul, mind nor body,” he set one knowing eye on the man “Particularly with your employer’s vocation. Now I suppose, it would be hoping too much to assume he has seen the folly of his way is awaiting me to remit him of his transgressions and beg me to allow him to enter into a devout and sensible life,”
Harrdel shook his head, a grimace visible beneath his long rich moustache, one end of which he tugged nervously.
“Wish it was Mentor, but he’s really done it this time. Just like you warned. He did give way to curiosity and looked too deep for too long,”
“Oh Merciful Divinity! He’s not gone and hung himself now has he? Or is he rolled up in a ball in some corner drooling away?”
Harrdel shook his head again and threw his hands up in helplessness, gestured and the Translator Pastoral followed him down the damp hallway.
“I daresays you would be ready to do something about that, but I reckon this is worse. He’s took flight, and not out the door neither. I was across the hallway tying to work out what sort of meal I could make out of the scraps we’ve got. Firstly I heard a lot of crashing about, so was about to get set to go and see, when there came, well, just like a big hand slapping on wood; not the sort of sound he’s capable of, and then the few of the plates I’ve not had to sell fell off of the shelf, so I dashed over. Had to unlock the door. There was no one there, chair knocked over, his papers all about the place, as if he had finally decided to prise the wooden bars off of his window, no sign of him,” Harrdel stopped at one door “Well, see for yourself,”
One lamp and three resolute candles revealed a long bench upon and about which was a vista of debris; wood, metal, glass, and a scattering of minor gems of various hues. Cast aside from the scene was the instrument of destruction, a large, crude hammer. The translator whistled in low surprise.
“Bleymore did this? It looks more like the sort of thing one of my brothers-in-faith from The Custodian’s Office would have inclined to,”
“It was him,” Harrdel said and handed over a piece of paper, writing in a hasty and scribbled way, ClnMyla squinted in the gloom, tutted set down the lamp and paper on a clear part of the table.
“The dwellers from the impossible lands of The Fourth Realm are making ready to take advantage of the folly of the incautious. But they have seen me, so there is no waiting, flight is all important, alarms must be raised. Burn down the building, lest they try and make this a pathway. Make common cause with everyone and anyone. The dwellers cannot be stopped, only fought,”
The translator pulled a face and tapped the note against his teeth.
“The poor fellow must have reckoned he’d seen something dire and if you heard no sound of running then he must have fled using one of those fearful devices his sort are always fooling about with. Though The Good Lord God knows what, or for that matter where?”
He had been hopeful Harrdel might have had a suggestion, but instead there was another shrug.
He’d had Harrdel keeping a close watch on this Bleymore ever since the servant had visited ClnMyla on a similar drizzle invested night, to give voice to his troubles and concerns over his employer’s activities. Harrdel’s past had been not uncommonly criminal, typical of this town’s poor but he had of recent times being trying to make recompense and thus an honest life; a certain determined widow being the cause.
Initially the newcomer’s activities involving the Stommigheid had appeared to be relatively passive. Just a simple observer, inquisitive; of course even these acts were not officially tolerated; hence the typical reclusive and furtive habits. Just why Bleymore trusted Harrdel to be around was a bit of a mystery, ClnMyla put it down to the ‘Ways of Folk’.
The Translator Pastoral had initially seen no need to intrude. Learn more about the fellow first.
And now hindsight was having its usual judgemental time. Just what the had the poor soul seen, or worse done.
Now was that his imagination that scuttling which seemed a bit too heavy for rats? Or maybe just a very large rat??
“We’d best get out of here. It looks like your tenure of employment would be over, but don’t you go fretting. The way things seem I’m going to be needing my own set of strong shoulders at the Pastoral Residence, so you can be off to that dependable Widow Darroe and tell her you have a most upright job and a good home for her, and we’ll get poor old translator Goodbee to marry you up; be giving him something placid to do,”
Harrdel didn’t have much chance to voice an immediate opinion, it was ClnMyla’s turn to usher him.
Out and straight away.
This house would be best not occupied. You couldn’t truly be sure if anything had crept through and was now making a nest in the place.
“Oh you’re in for a stern lecture my lad,” the Translator Pastoral said to himself.