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First Chapter- Spoils of Battle....fantasy

Posted: May 14th, 2012, 4:12 am
by Joe Kosh
Hi,

This is the first chapter of my novel. Please feel free to leave any comments or criticisms. Thank you.

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Spoils Of Battle

CHAPTER ONE:
How It All Began


A man found himself alone on a beach, severely injured, wondering where he was and how he had gotten there. As he went to sit up from his prone position, he thought his head was going to explode from the pain starting around his left temple and running down his neck to his torso and ending just above his left knee. Still dazed from trying to sit up, he started to focus on his surroundings as his vision slowly came back to him…and then he remembered.

“Who did it? Come on admit what ye done and me only take your tongue instead of ye life. That’s fair now ain’t it?”

Everyone on board instantly stopped what they were doing and not a word was uttered, because the last time they had heard that tone in his voice, they had seen evil the likes of which they had not even imagined prior to that time. Some of these seasoned pillagers and killers felt a chill run down their spine for they feared what might be coming. Each man looked at the Captain, then at each other. They knew if no-one stepped forward, he would start picking people at random, for examples must be made. As the ship’s Enforcer, it was my job to carry out the sentence the Captain deemed appropriate on whomever he deemed worthy. In the six months I have been the ship’s Enforcer, I stay in shape not from the hard work as the others do but from handing out the Captain’s judgments.

“I’ll not ask again, you filthy worthless dogs!” echoed the Captain.

Even the more stoic sailors suddenly felt a wave of panic wash over them because it was a matter of seconds before someone was singled out.

“Go an get that crate we found on The Temptress, before we burned ‘er out and sank ‘er,” the Captain barked at one of the deck hands. “We need ta see if they’re any good before we sell ‘em anyway, and now seems like a good time to test ‘em.”

He picked up the first pistol in the crate, pointed it at the closest sailor and fired, killing him instantly. He then picked up the second pistol the ship’s blacksmith, Gunny, had just finished loading and who was already working on number three.

“Anyone of you yellow-livered sons of a whore member anythin’ yet?” With no-one answering, he looked around for his next example. Unfortunately for the cook who had pig guts all over him from butchering a pig on deck had a small swarm of flies attacking him. And as he moved to swat the flies away from his face, which drew the attention to him, and the Captain fired at the movement killing his favorite chef. Now completely irate, the Captain called out for the cook’s mate. A frightened young lad came forward and stood at attention expecting the worst.

“You’re now the cook! Now get below where ye belong before I kill ye next an’ we all starve!” commanded the Captain.

After two of his crew had been killed, one being his favorite cook, the Captain realized two things. First was that he had been doing the enforcing. Second was that it seemed most likely that after two of his crew had been killed and no one stepped forward, that either the Enforcer didn’t do his job right by keeping the crew in line or the Enforcer is the one that allowed this thing to happen. Either way, he knew who his next target would be.

This is when I suddenly became the most popular man on the ship, without my initially realizing it. As Gunny handed him a third pistol, I wondered who the next poor bastard was going to be. When the gun was pointed at me, I was initially confused, but instantly frightened. Of course I showed no signs of fear on the outside but I guess I didn’t hide the look of surprise very well, because the Captain instantly provided the answers I was seeking.

“The Enforcer is responsible fer keepin order on me ship. ‘E ‘as failed me and failed each a you and because a ‘is failure, two a you now be dead. I dare say those other men to be unguilty fer even if they be guilty of bringin a woman aboard me ship and giving that retched tramp MY fruit, it was de Enforcer’s job to discover ‘er and deal with it. ‘Is failure to discover dis makes ‘im as guilty as if ‘e brought the winch aboard ‘imself. ‘E has brought bad luck to all of us and now ‘e’ll get de same punishment as the rotten offspring of whores who just died. Gimme a pistol Gunny….”

I stood as tall as I could as if to say “kiss my arse” and awaited my sentence. I wasn’t sure if I really believed I could hide her but I did know that six months at sea was entirely too long to be without a woman! Bad luck to have a woman on board they say…ha…it’s bad luck to think of women and beer all day and not have either.

Well, at least until today I had half of life’s great treasures…I had the woman. Damn I wish I had a beer! Even that lousy piss water the cook made that one time would be…..

I quickly came back to current events when I heard a ‘click’ and realized the pistol hadn’t fired. Hahahaha. Too bad. I have no idea why this made me happy because he had a whole crate full of pistols. I guess it was like a joke from the gods and I enjoyed it being played on the man trying to kill me.

“What’s wrong with me pistol?” the Captain growled.

“The gunpowder got wet during last night’s storm Captain” Gunny said. “I thought it was dry enough but I guess it’s still too damp. It should be ready in a few hours if we leave it outside where it’s warm.”

“You thinkin ima let ‘im wait that long ta meet his destiny? No. I’m thinkin dat turnabout is fair play. I’m guessin der is more dan one man here that would like ta return da favor back to our Enforcer fer all da times he beat you. Sometimes I’d hafta tell em to lay off you because he seemed to enjoy da pain ‘e put on ya and ‘e’d carry me punishments too far.” And with the Captain’s betrayal, he knew he’s in for one painful death.

“I think it’s only appropriate that ‘e get da same punishment we gave da retched freeloadin whore, only with a slight twist. Instead a just tossin em overboard as ‘e did that girl, Ima let you boys pay your respects to em first.” And with those last words from the Captain, the seamen grabbed anything they could and seemed to return every blow each of them had received over the last six months. When the Captain started to get concerned that they might kill him, he shouted for them to stop. They looked at him slightly confused.

“I don’t want ye to kill him. I want him to suffer da same fate as he brought dat girl.” And with that they threw him over board.

He hit the water so hard it nearly knocked the wind out of him, but the cold water instantly brought him to full consciousness. He could see land in the distance but it was quite far. He was also the only one on board that could swim, although he never told anyone. It did take a minute for his body to respond to his commands though due to the severe beating he’d just received. Since almost all sailors can’t swim, they never even thought to look back to ensure he had drowned…they just knew he would.

The last thoughts he had that he could remember was that he would find every last one of those sons a bitches. He would find a crew and hunt them down and kill every last one of them. It was the last promise he made to the girl they had thrown overboard while he slept. It was the last promise he made to his wife.

Re: First Chapter- Spoils of Battle....fantasy

Posted: May 14th, 2012, 7:34 pm
by Gypson
This might be an odd comment, but I felt a bit disembodied while reading the first few paragraphs. It was not obvious from the start that this was a first-person narrative, and so it felt like it was written in rather distant third-person. My first criticism was going to be that I was not experiencing what these characters were experiencing; that instead of seeing the events unfold from within someone's head, I was disconnected and watching them on TV. Then your narrator popped out.

I suggest that you introduce your narrator sooner, preferably in the first paragraph. This would help orient the reader and give them a narrative to latch onto.

There are a few moments otherwise that mix first and third person. I'll try my best to explain what I mean.

"A man found himself alone on a beach, severely injured, wondering where he was and how he had gotten there. As he went to sit up from his prone position, he thought his head was going to explode from the pain starting around his left temple and running down his neck to his torso and ending just above his left knee. Still dazed from trying to sit up, he stared to focus on his surroundings as his vision slowly came back to him…and then he remembered."
^How does the narrator know all of this? It's one thing for the narrator to remark that the man woke up and blinked slowly as if trying to focus his eyes, but for the narrator to state what this man is wondering, thinking, feeling, etc. is quite a declarative. Try to center your narration around your narrator instead.

"Even the more stoic sailors suddenly felt a wave of panic wash over them because it was a matter of seconds before someone was singled out." How does the narrator know what everyone else is feeling?

"I stood as tall as I could as if to say “kiss my arse” and awaited my sentence." When the narrator describes himself from the outside, that is how the reader sees him too. Instances like this draw us out of the moment and away from his inner self. It would make more sense for us to hear the narrator thinking "Kiss my arse" rather than see him describe how he was standing to convey that message.

Anyway, just some things to think about. You're off to a good start and clearly having fun with your writing, so keep it up! =)

Re: First Chapter- Spoils of Battle....fantasy

Posted: May 16th, 2012, 3:27 pm
by Mark.W.Carson
One thing that stood out to me was the difference in how the ranks worked and the way the captain was behaving. You should look at this:

http://www.piratesinfo.com/cpi_Who%E2%8 ... cy_950.asp
The "Enforcer" should be the quartermaster. The quartermaster would also be the one in charge of the loot, and the captain would have little oversight over the men in this manner. If you were to use more strict ranks like those of a "royal officer" then the person doing the discipline would be the first mate, or the boatswain/bosun.

Re: First Chapter- Spoils of Battle....fantasy

Posted: May 20th, 2012, 11:23 pm
by Joe Kosh
Thank you both for your comments.

The atmosphere of disorientation was created on purpose at the beginning of the chapter. It's how the character feels and the situation he found himself in. As he remembers, he "relives" what happens and you get to see how it played out and how he ended up where he is and why he got there. The rest of the story doesn't take place on the ship, but it was the spark that created the motivation and the "point of no return" moment a character needs to begin the story.

There is a lot of information out there on pirates, and depending on which part of the world you reference, you can find a heirarchy of what a pirate ship might follow. In "civilized" areas where pirates formed, they did tend to follow the same rules as the navy they learned their seaman skills from. In other parts of the world, the captain's word was law and he often ran the show with absolute authority similar to how the captain has the final authority today on any ship, plane or boat. In my story, the reason the name Enforcer is used is because he's named for what he does and to make it easier for those that don't know navy ranks to still understand the role he plays on the ship. This I felt made the book available to a greater audience, such as young kids. If my story stayed on the boat, then I would have delved into greater detail about how the ranks fell.

I'm ready for more to critique the rest of my book so that it makes a good story great. Feedback, especially writer feedback, is very important to me to produce the best product I can for readers so thank you.

I look forward to more comments.