Friday, April 29, 2011

Workbook - Story Excerpt

I've been having rather a whale of a time lately working on a story that I am affectionately (and temporarily) calling "The Vault", and I'm really getting some satisfaction from watching it come to life and guiding it along.

Here's a short excerpt from an early chapter I quite enjoy. The scene sees one of the main characters, Merius, making his way to a rather secluded nighttime gathering. We come in just after he sneaks through a door into a rather perilous locale:

The door was closed as quietly as it had been opened, and Merius at once noted that the wind had picked up, heavy clouds having appeared in greater abundance in the dark sky above. Between them he could see a few stars struggling to twinkle, dull glints flickering for a second before being obscured again as the silver-backed mass drifted across the great dome, lit from behind by a hidden moon.

There was an eerie feel to the night, not helped by the fact that every few moments the fluttering of his cloak and the gusts that were coming from all directions broke the stillness and brief, powerful squalls buffeted the stonework causing the pointed lips of the bulwark to moan and howl.

Between these flurries of wind there was also the quiet, disjointed rhythm of drums echoing out across the land as always, it seemed not to count as noise to Merius however. They were always present, and they seemed not to belong to the other noises around him.

To his left, the bridge that led to the North East tower had been blocked off by a rather hastily built barrier, brickwork signalling that the maintenance - or rebuilding - would most likely not be completed anytime soon. Merius gripped the top of it and took a moment to peer over, noticing that the bridge appeared in fact to have collapsed, the span reaching barely a few paces before plunging from a rough edge to small rooftops far below.

Swinging back to the right, and to his goal, the bridge that spanned the distance between this North tower and the North West tower stretched out into the dark. At least, it had been dark for a moment. Now as Merius watched, it looked as if there were guards up here as well, and they were turning the corner between the two bridges, patrolling the great lofty spans with their lantern in hand. Merius could see lamplight bobbing towards him slowly, a pinpoint spilling orange light out a short distance around the bearers.

Two, he logged unconsciously.

Shrouded in the murk he wouldn’t be seen, especially now that the moon had been obscured by the clouds, but he darted to the low-wall opposite him regardless and ducked down beside it, making his way toward the guards approaching him but staying hidden.

This bridge, like all of them, and like the one he was making his way toward and which he had previously visited with Allion, featured the same little balconies upon which large statues rested on sizeable stone plinths. These, Merius found, provided excellent cover when the guards eventually wandered past. When that happened Merius waited patiently, and soon enough lamplight hit thick stone, and the boy weaved behind the protective sentinels while staying in the shadows, continuing onward once the patrol reached a safe enough distance away.

One by one the faces of old Preservers and Keepers gazed past him and out into Ciltari as he slipped by at their feet, edging along a pathway a hundred feet over rooftops that hid a maze of hallways and chambers below where his fellow Adherents would be fast asleep.

It was half way along the bridge, and coincidentally while he was in a particularly exposed stretch between two statues, when the moon suddenly broke through the clouds and the area was bathed in white light from above.

In a flash, Merius dropped to the ground and froze...

The story is very much told in this style, and in fact one of the things I battled inwardly with for a while was whether or not to give him some kind of companion so that the descriptive parts can be broken up with some dialogue. I decided against this in the end, it was too Disney and I think a challenge is what I need with this project!

In any case, let me know what you think.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Finding Equilibrium: Part Deux

Today was one of those irksome days when nothing seems to go write- ... er, right.

To make it more fun it began with a hangover. Now, before you go skipping off to tell someone I'm a tempestuous drunk, I must say that I couldn't care less if you do - I have no regrets.

It was a wonderful night in any case, good company, good venue. But I digress, back to today's magical proceedings.

The hangover was immediately apparent from the moment I woke up, at 5am to be exact, bedside lamp still on, iPad in hand. Apparently I had tried reading the DN+ newspaper in a booze-induced moment of coherence (how I thought I'd be able to decipher Swedish I have no idea), but it seems I passed out as soon as I lay down without even having crawled under the covers. Anyway when I woke at 5, two things hit me, one that I was slightly more sober, two, that I really needed to visit the bathroom. That thought was pushed aside momentarily however as I fell asleep again.

I rose properly at 9, bladder comfortably vacant (possibilities here include a sleepwalking-adventure, and/or that peeing in dreams actually works), and got ready to go and tutor a friend of mine. I caught the tram to go see him and upon arriving I found that brekky had been made for me, (amazing by the way, the swedish take on eggs & bacon is truly something to behold!), but because I was so late we discovered that the tute could only go for 15 minutes. Not only that, I also messed it up by not bringing my computer (who knew one needed a computer to teach html?). Suffice to say we got through a messy introduction and I left him rather confused. Not my best moment, I still blame the alcohol.

Heading home, I began to ready myself for World Of Warcraft with my brother in Sydney that afternoon, made sure all the latest updates were installed and that everything was running well. At that point I discovered that for some reason my account needed to be 'merged' with a new account, so I tried to log in. No can do Candice. The login failed and I was locked out, so I called support. The lady there was very nice, reset my password and after waiting thirty minutes I was successfully logged in. I then tried to merge my account. Error. The service is temporarily unavailable.


After this, I give my brother a call. We talk it out, try some things, nothing works. I ring back support with the problem, but they closed two minutes early today. Then we discover that even if I manage to merge accounts, I still need to buy the latest release of the game. So I head out, down Glenferrie road to the local Apple store, happy that I'm making progress. Except - they're sold out of the game.

I leave, and go to a smaller computer game store. They have a couple left, I buy one, and head home.

Upon reaching my desk again, I open the plastic bag, remove the game box and am surprised to see that the seal is missing. I open it anyway, my "you're about to get pwned" sensor glowing like the aurora, and enter the code into my account to activate the game. Unsurprisingly, I'm greeted with a message: "The software key you entered is already in use".

I ring back the store, and ask if I can get a replacement game. The guy gives me another code over the phone, and I hang up. Back in my account again, I enter the new code. A red box pops up saying "An error has occurred", and to make things clearer, the explanation: "An error has occurred" accompanies it.

By this point I'm ready to give up and say that Lady Luck is back on her whore-mount and is slinging her bad ju-ju down on my life anew, but I'm a stickler, so I try to find my original installation boxes in the cupboard, figuring if I can enter the codes from the versions I bought eons ago, the problem might be solved. Then the realisation dawns, that all those boxes are in a box, in a storeroom filled with furniture, in an apartment in Canada.

After all this, Alex and I resigned to the fact that World of Warcraft just isn't going to happen today. No Worgen, no Elves, no questing through mist-filled valleys and parched deserts. Instead, I go up to my room, hit up some 50's swing, and start belting out some tunes with somewhat frightening abandon. The house is empty, so the volume was l.o.u.d.

Once I've had a little bash I decide to update the blog (you can see the results in the header!) and things seem like they're finally going the right way now. Not that I should say a word for fear of jinxing it, but I think Lady Luck and I have come to an agreement. She can slap me around for a day, and I can badmouth her on my blog.

In other news - yet related in that it made me laugh like a jackal - I revisited Translation Party again this evening (remember that from aaaaaaall the way back in Sep 2009?), and couldn't help giving it a spin.

The following sentences yielded some amazing results, even moreso because while I was playing around with it, a rather awesome track came on in iTunes. You can download it below, and I highly recommend listening to the little gem while making your own ridiculous Japanese sentences - it's called 'Bongolina' from 'Like_ Bongos' by Bob Rosengarden and Phil Kraus. These guys know how to bongo … anyway here are some sentences I prepared earlier:

Smile with vengeance at the innocent little girl...

Turn Sandy into a fat and naughty toadfish, then let's all rhumba!

And you can right-click to download Bongolina here. Enjoy!


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