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Thread: To March for God - Updated 18 December 2013

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    Rex Anglorvm's Avatar Wrinkly Wordsmith
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    Default To March for God - Updated 18 December 2013

    To March for God – a story of the first crusade (possible new series)

    Prologue

    Wilfred looked away from the harsh bite of the sun, and rubbed the back of his hand over a sweaty forehead; he took in the view once more of the most famous city in Christendom.

    He had expected sparkling palaces, majestic sweeping straight roads, towering pristine white columns and streets paved with gold. Instead he found decay, neglect and grime. And a smell; a smell that made the communal dung pits of London seem tame in comparison. And the heat! The further south he had marched the more the heat had become unbearable, and this was before he reached the holy lands.

    Wilfred thought back to the trek, all those miles on foot, all the way from his home in the Fenlands of Norfolk to London, over marshy bogs, muddy roads, not stopping even during torrential downpours and thunderstorms. When he reached London he and the Norman soldiers he was with had joined the swarm of other like minded souls who were all preparing for the long walk to Dover.

    He heard from the varied people that he had walked with, that from all across Europe, from cities and lands he had never heard of, that a vast army was mustering in Rome to march to Constantinople and then onto the holy lands.

    He had worked his passage across the channel; fore he could not afford to pay for victuals and a sleeping space, unlike the Normans he walked with, who could afford a reasonable place to sleep, and who did not have to work their way across the sea.

    He had worked as a galley hand, scrubbing pots, plates and cutlery for the knights that had been on board his vessel. He was lucky, most Saxons found themselves either sleeping on the deck or cramped down below. As the galley boy he was allowed to sleep on the floor of the hot kitchens at night. He only slept there for two nights before he reached France, but on the first night he had been forced to break the nose and put a blade to the throat of the Gascon galley cook who had tried to be a little too friendly to the young man.

    When he landed in France, it had been his first experience of being completely surrounded by people who spoke a different tongue, of course he had learned a few words of French from the Normans he travelled with, the very same bunch that now ruled the lands back home; but the words were still strange and wonderfully sounding to him. Nobody made allowances for the fact he did not speak their tongue, he just had to learn fast. He was quite proud of how he could pick up a few new words every day.

    It was strange that he could hate the Normans so, after spending so much time in their company; but it had been drummed into him literally from birth that these men had stolen his birthright, however he still found himself entranced by the sweet sound of their tongue. It was so less harsh then the language of the Saxons.

    He mused on how things could have been different not just for him, but for the whole of England if William of Normandy, now called the conqueror had failed in his task to subjugate the people of his homeland. His own father had fought at Stamford Bridge and then at Hastings; a famed man of the shield-wall, a huscarl of noble standing, a man who had lost his King, his lands and his standing after the defeat of King Harold.

    His father never ceased to tell a young Wilfred when he was growing up, that not only his lands had been stolen from him, but also his culture and rights as a Saxon man, that the Normans should be the young Wilfred’s most implacable and hated enemy. But that he would have to be as crafty and nefarious as the Normans themselves, if he was to get the upper hand on them.

    Wilfric trained his son hard; every day he made the young man train after working on the small farm that still remained in the family’s hands; Wilfred picked up heavy rocks, ran for miles, trained with spear, sword and of course the famed Saxon battle-axe, he wrestled unarmed with his father and his friends, he learned to fight an armed man when he was unarmed.

    He fought, smaller, bigger, heavier and taller men, he fought more than one man at a time; he learned what to do if you were knocked on your back, how to get up quickly and safely and regain the initiative. Above all he learned how to fight somebody on horseback when on foot; after all one day he would need that particular skill to fight the Normans.

    Wilfric taught his son every trick and ruse he knew, and then he had the young man packed off to the local Normans motte and bailey castle to train as an ‘untrained’ young warrior and learn the Norman way of warfare; after all who better to teach you to fight your enemy then your enemy themselves.

    At first the Normans had been mistrustful of the young Saxon, but Wilfred had been told by his father to let the Normans gradually see just how good the young warrior’s potential was. So as time wore on they relaxed around him and began to see him as one of a growing number of Saxons who were coming to terms with their new overlords. What’s more they could see how promising Wilfred was, they would overlook his heritage, as his sword arm was so strong and skilful.

    Wilfred remembered the words that his father had instilled in him before he left to train with the local Norman garrison, the same men he now travelled with; ‘Son, never forget. These men have stolen your future and the future of every Saxon of this land; you and many young men of your age should be serving good men of proud and noble Saxon lineage. Instead you have to beg and plead for crumbs from their high table; you will never be a huscarl and you will never stand in a shieldwall with your friends and neighbours protecting what you hold dear. They have robbed you of your rightful destiny.’

    His time in France had passed quickly, he had met a few other Saxons in his travels; mostly peasants, but the odd soldier too, he felt an immediate bond and kinship with them that had been lacking when he trained with the Normans with only the one exception. Over the next weeks they had walked south, following a path beaten by other men who were seeking glory, redemption or gold in Jerusalem.

    Wilfred smiled to himself, just a few weeks ago he had thought that when he had arrived in Rome he would meet a host of crusaders ready to fight the Moslems and retake the lands lost by the eastern Roman Empire nearly 500 years beforehand. Instead it seemed that only the most devout of men had made the trip to the eternal city.

    He had known nothing of the history of the lands that they were travelling through and aiming to reach, but in his long trip to Rome he had been schooled by a man at arms who was serving with him; Francis who was the one exception to the Norman rule of looking down their long noses at him, happened to be a greybeard who was old enough to have served with William the Conqueror.

    He was roughly the same age as Wilfred’s father and unlike many of his compatriots he had learned the language of the Saxon people of England. For a Norman, the man was actually not that bad; unusually for a fighting man he could also read and write and seemed to know the history of every land they marched through.

    As Wilfred stood staring at the view of Rome, wondering what had happened to the glorious city of the Emperors that Francis had told him of, a shadow passed his shoulder and the resonant tones of the Norman could be heard, ‘I tell you my friend, I bet you are wondering what happened to the venerable city of the ancients. Well I was too, but I’ve had a look around and it’s still their under all the grime! I’ve found out where all the other ‘crusaders’ are too’.

    ‘It seems that most of the peasants have followed a man named Peter the Hermit, some sort of holy man apparently. Whilst most professional soldiers have chosen to march with and proclaim fealty to the four leading men of the moment, Raymond of Toulouse, Godfrey of Bouillon, Hugh of Vermandois and Bohemond of Taranto. There is however a whole host of other leading men who are taking there own forces there in smaller groups, just like our own, although some have attached themselves to one of the four main armies. Apart from Hugh of Vermandois and Robert of Normandy they have all chosen not to come to Rome to seek a blessing.’

    Wilfred digested this recent news with interest; so it seemed that most of the leading men had chosen to go their own way without being blessed by his holiness Pope Urban, that surprised him, surely they would have wanted the sanction of holy mother church!? The pope had been the man to call Christendom to arms in the first place at the council of Clermont. It seemed ridiculous to the young Saxon that they had not seen fit to be pay homage to the pope.

    Francis looked at the Saxon and laughed, ’I know what you are thinking my young friend; but this is not about religion or God for the rich and powerful; its about money and land, and the chance to make a name for themselves. But for God’s sake don’t repeat my opinion or we will both be dead men.’

    Wilfred saw the honest and earnest expression on his friend’s features. He nodded his agreement. They had not even reached the holy lands and already his first youthful delusions had been shattered.
    Last edited by Rex Anglorvm; January 24, 2013 at 09:26 AM. Reason: Changed the titles!
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  2. #2
    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: To March for God - crusades story

    In at the beginning this time! One thing, (maybe be worth seeing what others think), would Wilfried and Francis refer to the people as Pope Urban II, or Raymond IV etc, it seems incongruous and more likely he would refer to his Holiness the Pope or Raymond of Toulouse and lose the numbering?

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    Rex Anglorvm's Avatar Wrinkly Wordsmith
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    Default Re: To March for God - crusades story

    Quote Originally Posted by ybbon66 View Post
    In at the beginning this time! One thing, (maybe be worth seeing what others think), would Wilfried and Francis refer to the people as Pope Urban II, or Raymond IV etc, it seems incongruous and more likely he would refer to his Holiness the Pope or Raymond of Toulouse and lose the numbering?
    I wasn't too sure of that myself, I just wanted to try to introduce the various leaders of the crusade at the beginning; I was hoping that by using Francis as a 'wiser more experienced head' I might get away with it. Still I changed it now!

    Hope you enjoyed it anyway!
    Last edited by Rex Anglorvm; November 14, 2012 at 09:46 AM.
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    Diocle's Avatar Centurio Primus Ordine
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    Default Re: To March for God - crusades story

    The Crusade! I like this kind of bloddy trip! Kill, conquest and plunders in the Holy name of God! This is music, this is the true Norman spirit! Poor young Wilfried (The Saxons have all noble names....damnit!) the first disillusions arrived! And the guy.......hasn't met the Sicilian Normans...........well, well, well, finally a nice Crusade for the Old Diocle!

    I like the story of the dad of Wilfried (I like the name!) who was with the huscarls of King Harold in the last Saxon shieldwall! I still need to decide if at Hastighs William the Bastard could be defeated or not....But this I know for sure: the Anglosaxon Huscarls were the best infantry of the world!

    I like the idea of a Saxon guy fighting alongside his hated Normans invaders...it's intriguing! ....About Rome: perfect impact! Today it is the same but thare are also the cars everywhere!

    I'll follow the Crusade!

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    Heiro de Bodemloze's Avatar Just climbing the Wall
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    Default Re: To March for God - crusades story

    Awesum!!!! Will love reading this .
    READ MY TALE: The Tale of Nobutada(Chapter XXXVI - Uploaded 14 April)

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    Tigellinus's Avatar Content Staff
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    Default Re: To March for God - crusades story

    ^^ Very much in agrement with Heiro

    Rex, you still amaze me with your ability to capture the scene and turn it alive!

    + rep! Um actually when I can

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    Chelchal's Avatar Vexillifer
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    Default Re: To March for God - crusades story

    Perhaps like so many other Saxons, Wilfred will join the Varangian guard at Constantinople!

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    Rex Anglorvm's Avatar Wrinkly Wordsmith
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    Default Re: To March for God - crusades story

    Quote Originally Posted by Diocle View Post
    The Crusade! I like this kind of bloddy trip! Kill, conquest and plunders in the Holy name of God! This is music, this is the true Norman spirit! Poor young Wilfried (The Saxons have all noble names....damnit!) the first disillusions arrived! And the guy.......hasn't met the Sicilian Normans...........well, well, well, finally a nice Crusade for the Old Diocle!

    I like the story of the dad of Wilfried (I like the name!) who was with the huscarls of King Harold in the last Saxon shieldwall! I still need to decide if at Hastighs William the Bastard could be defeated or not....But this I know for sure: the Anglosaxon Huscarls were the best infantry of the world!

    I like the idea of a Saxon guy fighting alongside his hated Normans invaders...it's intriguing! ....About Rome: perfect impact! Today it is the same but thare are also the cars everywhere!

    I'll follow the Crusade!
    Thank you my friend, glad to have you along for the trip, you might be in for a bumpy ride though

    Quote Originally Posted by HeirofAlexander View Post
    Awesum!!!! Will love reading this .
    Please do, I hope the font meets with your approval

    Quote Originally Posted by Tigellinus View Post
    ^^ Very much in agrement with Heiro

    Rex, you still amaze me with your ability to capture the scene and turn it alive!

    + rep! Um actually when I can
    Hello Tig, glad to see you here for my little crusading adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by Chelchal View Post
    Perhaps like so many other Saxons, Wilfred will join the Varangian guard at Constantinople!
    Who knows, maybe or maybe not Glad to see you posting an update to your great story by the way
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    Rex Anglorvm's Avatar Wrinkly Wordsmith
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    Default Re: To March for God - crusades story

    Chapter 1 – A stroll with his thoughts

    Wilfred’s nodding had seemed to settle Francis nerves; to be truthful the young Saxon wasn’t sure why the Norman had come on the crusade, he didn’t seem to pray and he wasn’t overly fond of priests. Maybe in the end the old soldier was looking for a way to make enough money or grab some land so that he could retire.

    As for Wilfred himself, he liked to think that his own motives were a little less earthly but more aimed at appeasing the almighty. Although his father had been of ill humour when Wilfred had told him he planned to accompany the Normans on their adventure, Wilfric had soon seen the potential for his son to worm his way into the Normans trust and perhaps pick up a few tricks from the Moslems about how to fight the horse-backed Normans.

    For the moment, and until his little band of fellow warriors led by Guy De Jules, a minor notable and the most junior son of the local Norman lord back home found a sponsor, or pledged allegiance to a Lord, he and Francis were free to tour the somewhat dilapidated streets of Rome.

    Looking at his friend standing at his shoulder the young Saxon made a suggestion, ‘Francis, what say you and I go and explore this city of the Emperors eh? Maybe you can show me some sights to inspire me?’

    Francis face shone with an enthusiastic light, ‘Indeed. Why not?! Let us go and explore my friend, there is much too see, the old Forum Romanum, the Circus Maximus, the Palatine, the Coliseum and so much more. I know the city looks a little shambolic, but I can assure you, you need only to scratch beneath the surface to see the imprint made by the great men who once ruled the known world. Come let us explore!’

    The two men began to make their way through their encampment, pitched outside the northern side of Rome; they acknowledged the men of their company, a nod here, a gesture there, an exchanged greeting. Wilfred knew that the men were only friendly to him because he was a friend of Francis. The older man seemed to be friends with everyone and enemies of nobody.

    Wilfred loved the life he had come to lead over the last few weeks, he had always enjoyed training, but now training, travelling and living with other like-minded warriors made the young man feel like he had come home, even if that home was full of Normans that were none to keen on him!

    As the two men walked through the camp they could see how in recent days it had grown; soldiers from across Christendom had come and pitched their tents next to men who normally they would have been in pitched battle against. Normans camped next to Frenchmen, Scots next to Saxons and so on.

    The sights of the camp thrilled him; as he walked through its meandering lines, he took in the various colours and arms in display, he knew that somewhere in the multitude was Robert of Normandy, known as Robert Curthose because of his short stature, he was the son of William the conqueror and was the current Duke of Normandy, a man who had loaned his dukedom to his youngest brother Henry, so that he would be able to equip a good sized retinue. It was rumoured amongst his company that this would be the man they would serve; only time would tell.

    He tried to spot the twin golden lions of Normandy, but even his keen eyesight did not avail him, in the end he stilled his wandering eyes long enough to realise that they were just about to leave the camp behind them.

    Francis had noted his friend’s interest in the camp, and seen how over the last few days, the Saxon had watched all the movements and organic growth of the camp with the eyes of a nosey fishwife. ‘Wilfred, you must learn to curb your enthusiasm, I know that it’s the first time you have been in a camp this big, but if you keep ogling every passing company of new men they will get the wrong idea!’ the Norman laughed as his young companions cheeks flushed red with embarrassment and anger.

    Wilfred retorted ‘Hey, you know what that cook tried to do to me was not my fault! He mistook me for you I think in the dark!’ Wilfred chuckled ‘I can’t help being naturally handsome unlike some people’ he elbowed Francis in the ribs and the older man smiled and returned the favour.

    ‘Well I’m just saying, don’t show so much interest, otherwise you might get mistaken for something worse, like a spy!’ Francis raised his eyebrows as if too drive the point home. ‘And you will soon get cured of your love of large encampments, wait until it rains and the ground turns to mud, then disease arrives, then rats, then the dung pits overflow and spread more disease and before you know it every second man is dead.’

    ‘As long as the second man is you and not me, that should be fine old Frenchman.’ Wilfred could see the older man was right though.

    Francis retorted with a broad smile on his face, ‘I’m not bloody French you ignorant Saxon dog, I’m a Norman as well as you know! Now come on lets hurry up and get to the city, I’m hungry for some conversation with an educated man rather than a farm boy!’

    The two men doubled their speed and saved their breath for the walk into the city. As Wilfred walked alongside the only Norman he had ever considered a true friend, he wondered at how the two men had become such jovial companions when they came from bitter enemies.

    Perhaps his mother had been right after all, one night after one of Wilfric’s most bitter ramblings against the Normans and their Saxon collaborators she had spoken to her son in a low tone when Wilfric had fallen asleep in front of the fireplace in his favourite wooden chair.

    His mother Hungifu had smiled dotingly at her dozing husband and then had smiled at her young son and spoke to him like she had never done previously. ‘I want you to listen to me Wilfred, and listen to me closely. Your father has had to learn to live with bitter disappointment, by rights he should have ten times the amount of land we farm now. He should have tithes paid to him, and not have to pay them, he should lead men in battle and he should be serving a Saxon lord and Saxon King. But all of this means nothing to you’ here Wilfred moved to interrupt his mother, but she held her hand up to still his stirring tongue.

    Hungifu looked at her son fiercely and did not drop her gaze. ‘It means nothing to you, because England has changed, the time of the Saxons has gone and it will never return. The decimation of the northern uprising twenty five years ago was the last nail in the Saxon coffin. Your father never speaks of it; fore it was his last fight against the Normans, not Hastings as he has told you, it was a bitter experience for him, for King William was most villainous to the people of the North. One of the reasons your father settled here in the Fenlands in the lands of my people, was because so few Normans are here.

    ‘But what’s important to remember is that this is not the time of the Normans either. Soon they will pass and the English will be the beneficiaries, the off-spring of both peoples will benefit in the long-run. You would do worse than marrying a pretty Norman girl my son, if you are ever fortunate to pierce their social world. I know that you have the makings of a fine warrior; perhaps even greater than your father, but you are one man, and thirty years have passed since Hastings. The future will be yours, if you do not stick to the idea of a Saxon revival; in that way lays only the grave.’

    His mother had said no more, but in the months since leaving home, training at the castle and started the long trip to Rome, Wilfred had found himself dwelling on his mother’s words more and more.

    Wilfred’s attention was grabbed as a huge shadow passed his face; he looked up and saw what remained of the biggest city walls he had ever seen.

    He had arrived at the gates of Rome.
    Last edited by Rex Anglorvm; January 24, 2013 at 09:27 AM.
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    Diocle's Avatar Centurio Primus Ordine
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    Default Re: To March for God - Updated 15/11

    Interesting reading: The Crusade, the Normans, the Saxons, a young Saxon warrior at the gates of Rome with the words of his mom resonating in his mind, he is between two worlds now, and perhaps between two different stages of his own life,.....the story is intriguing and with many possible developments!

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    Default Re: To March for God - Updated 15/11

    Your story has a huge potential but that's not surprising considering your acknowledged talent and dedication.

    My humble remarks towards your story:

    - try to amass your phrases into fewer but considerably larger paragraphs.
    - there are far too many sentences starting with a pronoun, especially "he". You should no doubt avoid that.
    - put more effort into describing your main characters - their physical appearance, a few words about their moral stance at a quick glance. You should not neglect the enviroments since it greatly enables the reader to create a mental representation of the universe you created.
    - when a dialogue occurs, try to insist on the gestures, the possible hidden thoughts of the individuals.

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    Rex Anglorvm's Avatar Wrinkly Wordsmith
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    Default Re: To March for God - Updated 15/11

    Quote Originally Posted by Diocle View Post
    Interesting reading: The Crusade, the Normans, the Saxons, a young Saxon warrior at the gates of Rome with the words of his mom resonating in his mind, he is between two worlds now, and perhaps between two different stages of his own life,.....the story is intriguing and with many possible developments!
    I'm glad you are liking this tale Diocle, I have a feeling it may be one of my best yet. I am still very much an amateur so I always look for improvements to my work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maximinus Thrax View Post
    Your story has a huge potential but that's not surprising considering your acknowledged talent and dedication.

    My humble remarks towards your story:

    - try to amass your phrases into fewer but considerably larger paragraphs.
    - there are far too many sentences starting with a pronoun, especially "he". You should no doubt avoid that.
    - put more effort into describing your main characters - their physical appearance, a few words about their moral stance at a quick glance. You should not neglect the enviroments since it greatly enables the reader to create a mental representation of the universe you created.
    - when a dialogue occurs, try to insist on the gestures, the possible hidden thoughts of the individuals.
    MT, my nost noble Patron, so pleased you could drop by

    Thank you so much for the tips above; I do start off with an awful lot of pronouns (not quite sure how I remedy that, for it seems to be ingrained in me)

    I was hoping to show the physical appearances of the two men from a 3rd parties perspective in the next chapter I do however admit that I sometimes do not describe the physical details of both the world my characters inhabit and their own physical gestures , not good I know.

    I shall take all of your sound advice on board, and see if I can improve my writing, time is an enemy sometimes though, for instance the last chapter I wrote over an hour without a second proof-read, I tend to do a lot of that as RL work takes priority.

    Rep+ to you for showing me the error of my ways
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    McScottish's Avatar The Scribbling Scotsman
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    Default Re: To March for God - Updated 15/11

    What more can I say, really? You've got a flare for the old writing, so you have! I will continue to follow young Wilfred, as I see this turning into a most noteworthy tale of daring and indeed do. +rep

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    Rex Anglorvm's Avatar Wrinkly Wordsmith
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    Default Re: To March for God - Updated 15/11

    Quote Originally Posted by McScottish View Post
    What more can I say, really? You've got a flare for the old writing, so you have! I will continue to follow young Wilfred, as I see this turning into a most noteworthy tale of daring and indeed do. +rep
    Thank you McScottish for that kind complement, as you can see from MT's post I still have a long way to go though

    Still I am as they say 'a work in progress'
    Rex Anglorvm's Pile of dusty books - A collection of my writing.
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    Shankbot de Bodemloze's Avatar From the Writers Study!
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    Default Re: To March for God - Updated 15/11

    Rex you must remind me to read this on the morrow.

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    Shankbot de Bodemloze's Avatar From the Writers Study!
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    Default Re: To March for God - Updated 15/11

    Rex, I have read it.

    MT makes some great points but I have a one to add... Too many commas and semi-colons! May I suggest not including so many? There's nothing wrong with ending sentences.

    Other than that great work. And I'll look forward to the next update.

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    Heiro de Bodemloze's Avatar Just climbing the Wall
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    Default Re: To March for God - Updated 15/11

    Great read mate .

    Quote Originally Posted by Shankbot de Bodemloze View Post
    MT makes some great points but I have a one to add... Too many commas and semi-colons! May I suggest not including so many? There's nothing wrong with ending sentences.
    Shanky and his comma obsession .
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    Rex Anglorvm's Avatar Wrinkly Wordsmith
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    Default Re: To March for God - Updated 15/11

    Quote Originally Posted by Shankbot de Bodemloze View Post
    Rex, I have read it.

    MT makes some great points but I have a one to add... Too many commas and semi-colons! May I suggest not including so many? There's nothing wrong with ending sentences.

    Other than that great work. And I'll look forward to the next update.
    Ah, the grammar police are here Glad you enjoyed it though

    Quote Originally Posted by HeirofAlexander View Post
    Great read mate .
    Thanks Hiero
    Rex Anglorvm's Pile of dusty books - A collection of my writing.
    A Whale Riders Journey |A Dark Ages Viking Saga
    Rich man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief | A 1930s Gangster's Story





  19. #19
    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: To March for God - Updated 15/11

    So to summarise so far - scabby unwashed Saxon lad, tags along as some ragtag to Noble Normans. Befriended by a Norman who probably had his brains addled with one to many bashes to his head. Go to Rome. Saxon lad is overcome with awe at a few stones laid neatly together. How's that?


  20. #20
    Shankbot de Bodemloze's Avatar From the Writers Study!
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    Default Re: To March for God - Updated 15/11

    Sounds like a Whale Riders Journey but just with different peoples!

    Rex, I joke, I joke.

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