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All in a Dawn's Work


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#1 Dunian

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 03:52 AM

This is the first half or so of my story, All in a Dawn's Work (there were still some details to work out in the last half), posted for consideration.

You really wouldn't have known that it was dawn in Portland. The sun had not yet risen above the mountains that divided that region from Whitestone. Neither had he burned away the fog that blanketed the city of Portland. If confronted with this fact, he naturally would claim that he had not been allotted enough time to do this duty, and that he should not be accused of sloth when the little men and dwarves and elves in the world below had not yet risen from their beds.

However, on this foggy day his defense would not have been completely true. For although the bulk of the port's inhabitants were still in their beds, there were doings at the docks. The sentries still walked their long, lonely vigil up and down, keeping an eye upon the ships. No thief or pirate would escape their weary watch- or so they thought.

This exception was sitting down at end of the pier, draped (as mysterious watchers usually are) in a hood and cloak of dark material. The sentries had not seen him. If they had, they would have discovered that he was an orchan, of the toughest and most cunning sort. However, they hadn't, and he sat, hunkered down between two crates; still as a tombstone and as silent as the grave, staring out to sea.

Yet little did the watcher know, but he in turn was being watched. Old Toby was a cantankerous old man, who had injured his leg in his seafaring days. He was too old to be a sailor, and too greedy to be a watchman. Instead, he compromised by being a miserly old fellow who spent too much of his time in other people's business and not enough in his own. I highly doubt there was anyone in the city who truly liked him. It was said throughout the port that "his nose was hooked and long, just hooked and long enough to pry." However, it was he alone that had spotted the orchan taking up his position in the evening (and although he would have given credit to his own sharp eyes, I would strongly suspect it was merely chance). The local law of Portland gave the man who caught smugglers a generous share in the goods confiscated. Who else could an orchan keeping watch at the end of the pier in the middle of a night be, other than a smuggler?

The orchan in question, Coln, stared out into the night, trying to pear through the fog across the waves. There was nothing there to see, except for the strange shadows and deceptions that the fog drew. Looming shapes, monsters, giants and ships, all played ghoulishly in the fog. One of them seemed to grow and loom closer, only to be distorted again. Keeping such a watch on such a night would have been more than a human or elf's spirit could have born, alone on the end of the dock, surrounded by the mist. But Coln was an orchan, and trained in the way and art of Patience. He could wait, he could outlast the fog. In an hour, all chance of seeing the... business associate... would be gone, and he could return to the mansion for some sleep. Not that he needed it particularly, he could go days without it if necessary. But perhaps humans had made him soft.

The large shape, however, was still approaching. Coln tensed. Then, for a second, the fog danced to the side to reveal a ship. It was a barque, a three-masted ship with dark emerald sails. It's lights were out, and no crewmen were visible as it sailed silently through the water like a wraith. Then the fog danced back and covered the mysterious vessel again. It became no more than another phantom of the night.

Coln watched attentively. The sky was starting to redden over the eastern mountains, and the cover of darkness would soon be gone. Nonetheless, Coln knew he would not be disappointed. Sure enough, out of the fog came a rowboat, carrying a sailor and another, shorter man. The oars were almost soundless, being wrapped in some sort of material to dampen the sound. Coln couldn't quite discern what it was in the dark, but it was of no importance.

The boat reached the end of the dock, and the shorter man disembarked, giving an equally short, curt nod to the sea elf who had been rowing. The sailor promptly turned the boat around and rowed back into the foggy oblivion.

Coln eyed the human before him. He was short, slightly overweight, wearing dark (although not quite black) clothes and an old brown tricorn hat. A dagger set with an emerald dangled from his belt, while a rapier was also at his side. Judging from the man's appearance, however, these were probably ornamental. His stance was that of a merchant, a soft one at that, and not a soldier or adventurer. Certainly not a threat to a trained warrior like Coln.

Old Toby watched the two on the dock. There was definitely something fishy about this meeting. But where were the goods? Toby had lived many years, he could wait a little while longer for the evidence to produce itself. But wait! The two figures began to leave, walking just out of sight of the watchmen. Old Toby hobbled along behind them at a discreet distance, he himself keeping an eye out for the watch. It wouldn't do for them to catch them in the act before he did, and steal all the credit. Besides, he wasn't exactly supposed to be there himself. As the pair ahead of him passed below a street lamp, the tall one half-turned, as if to check for unwanted followers. Toby ducked (as quickly as his joints would allow) into the shadows. He didn't want to spook his quarry.

If Toby had been a philosopher, he might have contemplated the irony of an old, crippled man considering a big (and probably armed) orchan and his companion to be "quarry", but Toby was not a philosopher, and instead gave his thoughts to what he would do after he victoriously and bravely exposed these two scoundrels to the local militia.

They did not hesitate long however, for both orchan and man entered a house nearby. It was a grand mansion, to be sure. Someone with a lot of money was definitely involved. Old Toby mentally marked where the house was within the port, and then cautiously approached it. On the left was another building, but on the right there was an alley. A window looked out into it, probably more for ventilation than the view, but still a light shined through it, and Toby decided to investigate...

Within the building, Rahn, the short merchant who all the fuss in this story has been caused by, was ushered in by Coln. The servants were in bed, and oddly enough, Coln did not accompany him into the master study, but instead pointed silently down the hall. Strange manners, what. Certainly isn't worried about me making off with anything.... Rahn didn't know if it should worry him that his hosts were this confident, or not.

Rahn continued down the hallway, until he walked through a large, grand doorway. The room he walked into was furnished with fine furnishings. It was the picture of subtle wealth. Strange rarities adorned one side of the room, mounted on the wall. Other things (which would have been of great interest to Rahn, under different circumstances) were placed in crystal cases on the other side of the study. However it was the desk in the center, or rather the elf behind it, who caught Rahn's attention.

Behind the ornately carved desk, like some petty king behind his throne, sat an old, widened elf. His skin was a parchmenty color, and his hair was gray (or silver, as elves prefer to call it). Nonetheless, despite his age, his eyes were sharp and his voice was as strong as a man a hundred years younger. He was certainly not a man to double cross (perish the thought!), although Rahn never put it below a business partner to be the double crosser himself. But at the moment he seemed friendly enough.

“Ah, Rahn my dear fellow. It is good that you were able to make it, although you do look a bit weathered by your journey. Some wine, perhaps, to warm the bones?” The elf waved his hand and a little tray opened up from the desk, carrying a small bottle and two glasses. Rahn made a note to himself to learn that trick sometime. Most likely there was some hidden switch the elf could tap with his foot, but if there was magic involved, it could prove useful some day.

Old Toby had to stand on his toes to look through the window. His old joints barely permitted him to see inside, but what he saw was very interesting. Within the room (which wafted the intoxicating scent of money to his hooked nose) were both the merchant and another person, an elf, and apparently the master of the house. They were drinking now... good... thats how private transactions usually started... the guest trying to loosen the purse strings of his host, and that esteemed gentleman trying to do the same while appearing generous and hospitable. So far the biggest crime that Toby could pin on the merchant was entering the port by boat without paying the docking fee, a trifle to be sure, but if only he could see what he was planning to sell, there might be something more...

“Well, you know I didn't just come here for your wine, old chap (although I admit it was excellent indeed). I brought... it.” Rahn produced a leather pouch from his cloak, and carefully laid it upon the table. For the first time, the elf wasn't the cheerful host. Reaching forward carefully, like one who sees something so good he doubts it's very existence, he reached forward and loosened the string. Then, ever so carefully, he tipped the bag up so that it's precious contents slid out onto the table.

Toby let out a small gasp. There on the table was a gemstone. It was both the size and shape of an egg and milky white, yet seemed to contain all the colors of the rainbow in pastel shades, like a diamond or an opal. Definitely valuable, most likely illegal, and even if it wasn't, they still hadn't paid the import fees. This was definitely smuggling. Toby turned to leave and raise the authorities. He had all the evidence he needed. But before he could take another step, a hand grabbed him and covered his mouth!

Toby struggled, but to no avail. The hand completely muffled his silent screams with practiced ease. His eyes rolled crazily as he tried to struggle, to see who had caught him. But his captor was younger and stronger than him, and soon he was unable to resist with any strength. The hand tightened, then pulled suddenly, snapping his neck.

Coln dropped the dead sailor. He looked over his shoulder. The sun had now indeed cleared the mountains, but there was still no one up and about. It was lucky that he had spotted the nosy old man on the way to the mansion, and Coln knew he had been even luckier that the man had been greedy enough to stick around. Now the man was dead, and whatever he had discovered died along with him. All that was left was the disposal of the body. Coln took out a small, golden ring with a sapphire set in the center. He slipped it over one of Old Toby's still-warm fingers. Pressing the sapphire down into the ring, he stepped back and watched the corpse dematerialize. It was a clever trick. Now the body would appear somewhere up north in the Kamara Desert. With any luck, the sand would cover it. Yet even if it is found, there will still be no way to track it to back here. Coln's master had indeed taught him a clever trick. Now there was only the merchant to dispose of...

#2 PhilDaBurn

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 10:39 AM

Nicely written, Dunian! Interesting too. Looking forward to the rest of your story. ;)

Phil...

#3 Roja

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 11:58 PM

Very good, I like it and you're approved to write an official story if you'd like :icon13:

There are some grammar type things to be aware of, so here are some notes/critique:

there were doings at the docks.


going ons I believe would be the words.


However, they hadn't, and he sat, hunkered down between two crates; still as a tombstone and as silent as the grave, staring out to sea.


Watch your use of commas and semicolons. I think this would fix it:
However they hadn't, and he sat hunkered down between two crates, still as a tombstone and as silent as the grave, staring out to sea.


Keeping such a watch on such a night would have been more than a human or elf's spirit could have born


It would be bear..although I may have the wrong spelling of the word :P
Keeping watch on such a night would have been more than a human or elf's spirit could bear



In an hour, all chance of seeing the... business associate... would be


I believe the correct way to say this would be "business associate" with quotes around it like that.


he could go days without it if necessary.


put sleep here


Strange manners, what.

I think it would be that, not what..
Strange manners, that.


The room he walked into was furnished with fine furnishings.


Try not to be too repetitious. Choose another word for one of these.


His skin was a parchmenty color


hehe, try not to make up words unless it's in a dialogue where the character would use such language. Try "His skin was the color of parchment" instead.


Toby ducked (as quickly as his joints would allow) into the shadows.


Toby ducked, as quickly as his joints would allow, into the shadows.

You're using parentheses too much. They should be replaced by commas. I'm not really familiar with grammar rules, but i've read tons of books and I haven't seen parentheses used in the cases you're using them. So might be a good idea to read up on their correct grammar usage.

#4 bruno ramos

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 12:52 AM

Really nice. Looking forward for the next part of the story :P

#5 Dunian

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Posted 24 May 2008 - 01:56 AM

Thanks Roja! I'll start fixing those errors before I post the second half.

#6 poppop

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 05:05 AM

more please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yes , yes 8)




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