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Thread: Of Wolves and Prey [Updated: 03/01; Part III.2]

  1. #81
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Of Wolves and Prey [Updated: 05/05; Part II.3]

    I like the way that you focused our attention on the chestnut tree and the character climbing it. They may be growing up, but at least one of them still climbs trees. The line about "a monkey hiding in your head" is a colourful way to give us an insight into Gundulf's character.

  2. #82
    Derc's Avatar Semisalis
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    Default Re: Of Wolves and Prey [Updated: 05/05; Part II.3]

    Reads like some kind of a tl;dr chapter this time. The length is ok, it just reads like it.

    I can summarize it even further: Two boys sit under a tree and wonder what happened to the third boy who has became estranged to them. They then find out that the boy was secretly listening to their talk. *Dramatic chapter ending music*

    So we got the information that Aistulf was the victim of some mistreatment, which left its mark on him. This could set up some nice things, and I guess it will. This chapter would've made no sense otherwise. That was a bit too obvious.

    You want to have chest pain? Ok!
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Why all this blabbering about chestnut trees? Well, I needed a setting and love chestnut trees.
    "All this blabbering" => You are aware of a flaw.
    You saw a flaw and yet you didn't fix it because you loved it? A lot of authors do that, including me. The reader, however, won't like that.

    Imho there was indeed too much rambling about chestnut trees in the beginning. Yeah, yeah, I know, the chapter is not named "The Chestnut" without reason. It was good, but so long that it became distracting as it makes up ~40% of this chapter.

    I think I know what you intented: showing that kids are still kids and you need to try multiple times before succeeding. Chestnut branches are indeed strong, capable to hold even multiple grown men. Yet no branch may offer a stable ground if you aren't able to reach it.
    A nice metaphor and I can see a connection between it and Aistulf's problems. However, as stated, felt a bit too distracting from the main information of this chapter. I catched myself thinking: "What is that about?".

    Don't know. Maybe I'm just a dumb reader.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    At some point we sold our house to some friends who we knew would take care of our trees, but they rented it out to some people who didn't give a darn and those tenants chopped all the trees down for some measly firewood. Really broke my heart.
    So this is what inspired you. Your story and your comments truly keep the balance between each other when it comes to tragedies.

    Can only repeat, this AAR is not only interesting because of the story, but because of all the background details as well.
    Some action now pls.

  3. #83
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Absurdist
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    Default Re: II.3 Il Castagno

    I too liked this one, it's written in a more light-hearted tone while it still holds the overall seriousness of the story. I personally find it lovely to hear of your personal connection to the choice of tree used in the story. It establishes a closer relationship between the reader and the elements used. I'd wager that a lot of us do exactly the same. It's easier to write about things you've had a personal experience with than if you didn't have said experience.

    I'm really getting invested in the dynamic between these three boys and am anxious to see how it all plays out. One particular thing I like about this AAR is the unpredictability of it. I am never sure on how the story is going to progress and this sense of mystery is really pulling me into the story.

  4. #84
    Cookiegod's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default II.4 Reunion

    RECAP
    1. Matteo and Gundulf are finally reunited after having been separated for almost a year.
    2. Matteo’s padrone, a prominent merchant from Milan, has travelled to the far away castle of Este, to discuss politics with the aging margrave Albert Azzo II., whom Gundulf serves as a page.
    3. Having witnessed their meeting, the boys then venture into the forest, to catch up in private. They end up talking about Aistulf, as Gundulf climbs the tree. Neither have seen their old friend in several weeks, and he has been acting very strange before that.
    4. It is then that Aistulf appears in the clearing right next to them, seemingly out of nowhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    I can summarize it even further: Two boys sit under a tree and wonder what happened to the third boy who has became estranged to them. They then find out that the boy was secretly listening to their talk. *Dramatic chapter ending music*
    Dammit, yours is better!


    Reunion

    The three stared at each other for a while. Neither of them moved or said anything at all. Matteo and Gundulf did not know how to react to the unexpected newcomer, who, finding himself at the center of their attention, met their dumbfounded stares with a stoic indifference. But their confused looks proved a too powerful force. Soon the corners of his mouth began to twitch and were the first to lose the fight, the rest of his face following soon after.

    “You should see your faces!” He blurted out as his entire body now convulsed with laughter.

    The others had none of it.

    “Where the hell have you come from?!” Gundulf asked, as he was the first of the two to recover from the surprise.

    “The road” Aistulf replied, once he’d somewhat recovered from his laughing fit. “I saw the two of you from afar, as you were leaving the castle, when I was riding towards it. It was too far for you to hear me, so I gave my horse the spurs until the point where I had last seen you, and then I followed your tracks.”

    Stepping closer he said: “Matteo, you were so careful with your steps, as always. Because of your clothes, I presume? But resist the blackberries you could not, and as you were less careful while stepping away, its thorns tore your garb.” He held his open hand in front of his friend, and it held a few threads of the same colour as Matteo's clothes.

    Matteo, befuddled as he was, did not know how to react, and so remained frozen, with the exeption of his face, which turned red. Aistulf meanwhile lifted his friends arm, opened the fist, placed the threads in it, closed the fist again and then finally gave its owner a big hug.

    “Climb up and sit with me!” Gundulf demanded, not wanting to be left out. And Aistulf gleefully complied. He jumped and succeeded effortlessly where Gundulf had struggled. Aistulf managed to hold on to the branch with just one hand, and then used the momentum to keep going. He sat next to Gundulf within moments, and was immediately welcomed with another hug.

    “So what are you two up to these days?” Aistulf asked.

    “We could ask you the same.” Matteo replied, finally having regained his composture.

    “Once I heard you and your master had left for Este, I decided to follow you. I did not want to miss out on our reunion.” The rascal replied.

    “I’m happy you didn’t.” Gundulf stated, and hugged him yet again.

    Matteo, not wanting to ruin the mood, fell silent for a while before resolving to press the matter less directly: “How did you get a horse? And where is it? I can neither see nor hear it.”

    “I don’t know where it is.” Aistulf replied matter of factly: “I have no more use for it, so I let it go.”

    “What?! … Why?”

    “It’d be unwise for me to use the same horse on my way back.” Aistulf replied dryly: “Especially one that is white and can be recognised from afar… If you see it, you can keep it.”

    Matteo finally gave up, and Aistulf, seeing this, turned to Gundulf: “So what have you been up to?”

    “Not much.” He replied: “Old man’s scarcely left his room for weeks, and I had to stay with him.”

    “What happened to him?”

    “Bored, I guess. A few months ago Fulk came by…”

    “His son?” Aistulf interjected.

    Certamente! He came to visit in the winter, as Albert was preparing his travels this year: Which vassals to visit, in which order, and so on. Fulk said he wanted to travel with him, and Albert agreed. But then the old man got sick and became bedridden, just a day before they were set to leave…”

    “Come to think of it…” Gundulf looked thoughtful for a moment, “It was the day after your second to last visit he got ill.”

    Aistulf had a nervous look on his face, which Gundulf, however, failed to notice.

    “Fulk then told him: ‘Father, you have become old, you should recuperate. Stay here, and I shall represent you well.’ And Albert seemed to be really ill at that time and didn’t know for how long, so he agreed. Fulk left and the old man stayed.”

    “But his fever passed, didn’t it?” Albert inquired.

    “His fever? Yes. Surprisingly quickly even. Barely a week had passed and he was up and well again.”

    “But he didn’t leave?”

    “He wanted to, but didn’t want to undermine his son. So he stayed. He was very active for a while. Running around on the estate, managing even smaller details below his station… Where the pit should be dug for our... waste to be dumped in, for example: ‘Not this close to the castle! I don't need to smell it.’ he yelled one day. ‘Not here! Or do you want our drinking water to be pee?!’ the other.
    People had a hard time trying to keep up with him. They had to dig 4 pits before he was satisfied. Finally came the day where even he could not find more things to do. Left his quarters less and less; started drinking more. Neither pee nor water, mind you. And I’ve been bored out of my mind ever since.“

    Aistulf nodded thoughtfully, then turned to Matteo: “But if Fulk has taken over, why’s your padrone here, Matteo?“

    His friend stared back at him, but said nothing.

    “Don’t get me wrong. I know your custodian and the marchio pretend to be friends, but it’s his first visit since Fulk took over.”

    Matteo remained silent for a while, unsure whether he should answer at all. “That’s just it.” He finally replied, after some deliberation, “Fulk messed up. He got himself involved in the internal matters of the city of Milan that should never have been of any concern to him.”

    “Is that so?” Aistulf asked, trying to keep his friend talking. But Matteo fell silent again, only for Gundulf to jump back in.

    “Got the nobili and the mercanti in the city all upset, so they sent the man who’s on the best terms with Albert to get him to reign in his son.”

    “And how did that go?”

    “About as good as it could have. The mercante seemed surprised to see Albert this way: Sad, tired, and a bit tipsy.

    ‘What do you want me to do about it?’ Albert finally asked him, after the mercante had explained the situation, and then, once the merchant replied, immediately followed up on it with another one: ‘Why would I want to do that?’

    The mercante soon gave up on convincing him on the basis of friendship alone, and tried to threaten him, disguising it as a friendly advice, of course. ‘My lord. The people are upset. Some called for war. I was hard pressed to convince them not to go to war immediately, but to allow me to talk to you first.’

    ‘But it isn’t all the people you are talking about, is it?’ The marchio interjected, with a grim smile on his face: ‘You would have done away with the della Cortes a long time ago were it so.’

    ‘It is true.’ The merchant assented. ‘He has the support of the lower classes. But the opinions of the rabble doesn’t matter. One day it swings this way, tomorrow it’ll be the other way. Those of us with a good name stand united against della Corte and will expel him when the time is right.’

    ‘I’m sure you speak truthfully, my good friend.’ The marchio then replied. ‘Nevertheless. To fight my son you’d have to arm the very rabble you are afraid of now. I do not think the nobility has any interest in doing so for the time being.’

    “So the margrave said no?” Aistulf asked.

    “For a while it seemed so.” Gundulf replied: “The merchant kept trying to convince him and failed. When he was just about to give up, Albert finally gave him his counter proposal.”

    Matteo didn’t know what surprised him more: Gundulf sharing this so freely or having been attentive enough to share such details in the first place. His intuition told him he needed to stop this, though he did not yet know how, and so the two boys on the branch continued uninterrupted.

    “And what proposal was that?” Aistulf asked Gundulf.

    “Well, he didn’t immediately phrase it as such. ’Let us think this through one step at a time, old friend. We might find a solution after all.’ he said, as if he were thinking about it for the first time and as a favour to the mercante.

    ’The fights in your city have gone long enough, but neither side is about to win. But you need the peace, for the fortunes of Milan are beginning to suffer for it.’ The marchio mused.

    His ‘old friend’ could but nod in agreement, and Albert used that: ‘But a settlement isn’t really possible, is it? Even if you could find common ground, even if both sides were willing. Neither party can trust the other, nor prevent its own from attacking the other.’

    And the mercante could not object to that statement either.

    ‘It thus seems to me, that peace is only possible, were a neutral, third party to mediate and keep the peace.’ Albert concluded, and his friend immediately frowned.”

    “Uff!” Aistulf exclaimed gleefully. “I think I know where this is going!”

    “So did the mercante,” Gundulf replied. “But he did not know what to say, as the marchio had phrased himself so well.

    Albert then went on to list all possible options, and why they weren’t possible after all.
    ’Usually you’d confer with the archbishop…’ He stated: ’But there are two at the moment, fighting each other, and, if I’ve been informed correctly, neither of them dare to even enter the city.’

    ’Then we have the emperor, who likes to meddle in Milan. But the last time he did, ended with him barefoot and humiliated in front of the gate of Canossa. Now there’s a civil war in Germany, and neither side is in any position to interfere.’

    ’A rebellion,’ the merchant interjected, ‘which your oldest son is losing. Last news I heard, Welf has had to flee Bavaria and seek refuge at the Hungarian king’s court.’ The mercante had broken his silence, as he’d seen his chance to regain some authority in the conversation. But this hope was dashed by the margraves unfazed reaction.

    ’True, though he has already left it again.’ Albert replied calmly. ’But overall, the war has gone badly for Henry so far. And it doesn’t matter who wins. Neither he nor the anti-king will for the foreseeable future be able to attend to the matters of Milan.’

    “What did Albert mean when he said Welf has left the Hungarian court?” Aistulf interrupted: “Do you know where to?”

    “Yes, but it’s a secret.” Gundulf replied, sternly. “I can tell you nothing about it.”

    “Continue with your story then. How did the merchant react?”

    “The merchant had fallen silent once again. He was very unhappy, but he knew the position he was in. And Albert hadn’t presented his offer yet. So there was nothing he could have argued against. He stayed silent, but you could see the pent-up frustration quite clearly on his face. The margrave simply pretended not to see it, however, and pressed on. He talked about the pope and how he too is in a bad position, and also, just like the emperor a threat to Milanese independence, how the local clergy and those in Roma never see eye to eye and so forth, until the merchant couldn’t take it anymore and interrupted him.

    ‘Which leaves you, right?’ He stated, with a grim smirk, barely able to contain his voice. ’Isn’t that what you are going for?’

    “So the marchio failed, right?” Aistulf asked. “The mercante had seen right through him and didn’t like it.”

    “Except that Albert never had wanted him to like it. The mercante can’t decide it on his own regardless. He’ll have to report to their council. Albert on the other hand had never wanted to make the offer.”

    “Not? Then what…”

    Aistulf was immediately cut off by Gundulf: “He had wanted to be asked. Whether or not this was done in jest did not matter. Had the margrave himself asked: ’Give me back the authority over the city, that my father once had held.’ That request had immediately been rejected by everyone, and caused some outrage. Instead he had manipulated the merchant into being the first to mention that ‘possibility’, even though this had clearly been what he had been fishing for. And the old continued to play the charade to perfection. He paused for the exact right amount of time, then pretended the thought had never before entered his mind.

    ‘Me?’ He asked, maybe a tad too theatrically.

    ’Who else?’ The merchant retorted, with gritted teeth.

    ’Well, I suppose my father did rule over the city once, so I would have some legitimacy.’ Albert then contemplated loudly, whilst staring into the air and tipping his chin, and then argued against himself. ’But that was a long time ago…’

    He then made another pause and looked the mercante into the eyes: ’Are you sure there is no one else who could do this?’ And the merchant, not liking he was being taken advantage of, did not react at all, and only continued to stare angrily at him.

    ’Hm. But I suppose time is off the essence. There’s no telling of the violence that might otherwise erupt… But the council would have to request my assistance and reaffirm my authority. Are you sure you want this?’

    And the merchant, once again, said and did nothing except staring angrily at the marchio, who in turn continued to ignore it, and finally decided to press home for victory: ’As much as I want to help, I am not able to interfere in the matters of the proud city of Milan, if I have no say in it. Otherwise you will have to handle all of this on your own.’

    And that was the moment when I realised that the old man had truly risen from the dead and finally become himself again.”

    “But the mercante can’t possibly have accepted that, can he?” Aistulf asked, with some incredulity.

    “Well, Albert had made sure the merchant knew exactly what he’d meant between the lines, when he’d talked about the tragedy of violence, and the merchant’s face had become pale like the face of an Englishman who has yet to witness a proper summer. He sunk back in the chair, and said nothing for a long time, desperately searching for other options, whilst Albert waited patiently, but in an upright posture.

    ‘Which means: Either we hand the city to you, or the common folk led by the della Corte’s will hand it to your son, after exerting their vengeance on us.’ The merchant finally stated with a quiet voice devoid of any hope.

    And Albert said nothing to that, shrugged and ended the audience by switching to some pleasant niceties and inviting the merchant to stay the night, after which Matteo and I went out here. You know the rest.”

    “Do you really think the city of Milan will ask him to rule over them?” Aistulf inquired, failing to hide his curiosity any longer. Once he saw Gundulf’s reply was limited to a shrug, he immediately repeated the same question to Matteo. But Matteo’s initial confusion had long given way to strong suspicion, and had resolved to weigh every word carefully before allowing them to leave his mouth.

    Everything fell quiet on the clearing for a while. The three had become silent, waiting for Matteo to speak. But the birds had become suspiciously quiet as well, though only one of the three noticed.

    “Where has your interest in politics come from, Aistulf?“ Matteo finally asked, with a cold voice and even colder stare making clear that he wouldn’t let it go this time.

    And Aistulf realised he’d been exposed and, knowing full well this could not be undone, yet undeterred, met his friends gaze.

    “You two got to live under roofs, amici." He replied cryptically, after some thought. "Things are different when you are out in the open. You learn to make use of your senses. You lose all false sense of security.” And pointing to his eyes, ears and nose he continued ominously: “When you see dark clouds heading in your direction, when the air feels heavy on you, when the rustling of the leaves grows louder, but no animals can be heard, you better get moving, if you want your vigilance to be rewarded. You cannot fight the clouds, nor negotiate with the winds. So I advise you all to hide from it!“

    And then he broke his stare, jumped from the tree, ran a few steps and pointed upwards to the dark clouds where they could be seen through the leaves: “A storm is coming. We need to leave.”

    “I’ve had enough of your games! Answer the question!” Matteo erupted.

    “I did.” Aistulf replied. Then he started to walk away and, no longer looking their way, continued loudly: “The powerful are like the weather, amico. You cannot change their will.”
    He turned around one last time, once he had reached the undergrowth at the end of the clearing: “Listen to my advice, ragazzi! Not to their commands! When you see the darkest of clouds rise to the sky, flee!”

    And then he had disappeared.

    Idiota!” Matteo yelled.
    Perdonami!” It came back.

    A wind gust made the outer branches of the tree shake. “He’s right.” Gundulf stated flatly. “A storm is coming. We better get inside.”

    Matteo was not done yet, and, imitating Aistulf, pointed at his own nose.

    “Something smells like merda,” he cursed angrily. “We better not step in it.”



    Update & HISTORICAL BACKGROUND & answers to comments

    Phew. This was a long one. I hope y'all liked it. Yes, all 5 of you

    I think you can see why I held back here, and had it simmer for a while. First of all: Even though I had split this part in two, this second half is still much longer than I wanted to. However, I did not see any way to shorten this or any other point where I could make a cut - Once Aistulf arrives, the conversation has to flow.
    I tried to go through a lot of moods here, it is dialogue heavy, which I haven't done before (especially not in English) and hope I got the paragraphs/etc. right for once.

    Another problem is once again the exposition bomb. I tried to limit it, but nevertheless expect this one to have been the worst one of them all. On the upside: Less exposition will be needed from now on.

    So it was a challenge, and hope to learn a lot of your feedback.

    There was a lot of politics and intrigue here, even for my standards maybe a tad too much. I tried to keep it to a minimum. It's basically the fallout of what originally was planned as a chapter 2, but omitted for the obvious reasons. Should I still want to make that story, I'd put it in the creative writings section as a spin-off, so Kilo wouldn't be so lonely anymore.

    Most of the intrigue here serves one rather simple purpose: To align the real history to the ingame situation at the start of the game. I decide to give you a "quick" rundown of the historical circumstances if you're interested.
    IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO KNOW, SO DON'T READ IT UNLESS YOU WANT TO!

    Historical background
    - The Italian cities were the first in Europe to free themselves from feudal overlords... Sorta. All of them followed the same scheme. First the counts lost them to the various bishops of those cities. Then they'd become proper selfgoverning "communes" ruled by the local elite. Albert Azzo I., the father of our current margrave, saw that happen to several of his cities: Genoa, Tortona, Luni, Bobbio, and, not least but definitely quite late: Milan. The richest and most powerful city of them all.
    - As all the others, Milan started out to be ruled by its archbishop. His archbishopric is called the Ambrosian see. They were very powerful and didn't like to be commanded by the pope.
    One of them was strong enough to wage war against the entire empire AND the pope at the same time and still could not be defeated.
    The pope wanted to command it, and the emperor wanted to command it as well. The emperor was the one to usually choose the new bishop whenever the old one had died. In 1076 this didn't go so well, and that led to the walk of Canossa, where Henry was famously humiliated by the pope.
    - Milan was home to an endless stream of conflicts, both beyond and within the walls. One of them saw a lower noble, by the name of Lanzone della Corte, lead the common people in revolt against the nobility, who then had to flee, but besieged it for years. He eventually asked emperor Henry III. to intervene, who presented him with a choice:
    Handle this on your own, or swear an oath of allegiance and accept a garrison of 4000 German soldiers.

    Lanzone chose the former, and made peace with the nobles by letting them back in, provided they accepted the equality of rights and the active participation of all citizens in the government.
    A people's republic, so to speak.
    And though they accepted his conditions, you'll probably not be surprised that he had to flee with his family shortly after.
    - Another conflict was between the so called pataria, who wanted a pure, non-corrupt church, and the established clergy, who saw their titles merely as a source of power and had wives and kids. I'll spare you the details. One could boil it down to again being merely a fight between the common people and the rich.


    Basically, the main take-away is this: Milan was very powerful, in turmoil, and this is my best shot at combining real history and the ingame situation into something that makes sense. Albert and his sons are playing dangerous games, a vengeful descendant of a famous revolutionary has returned to rule the criminal underworld, and is threatening to expel the nobles once again and make them pay for their crimes against his family. ...And also Cookie doesn't know what "quick" means.



    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    I like the way that you focused our attention on the chestnut tree and the character climbing it. They may be growing up, but at least one of them still climbs trees. The line about "a monkey hiding in your head" is a colourful way to give us an insight into Gundulf's character.
    Thank you. I hope the colour in this one was satisfying as well, albeit mostly dark again.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    I can summarize it even further: Two boys sit under a tree and wonder what happened to the third boy who has became estranged to them. They then find out that the boy was secretly listening to their talk. *Dramatic chapter ending music*

    So we got the information that Aistulf was the victim of some mistreatment, which left its mark on him. This could set up some nice things, and I guess it will. This chapter would've made no sense otherwise. That was a bit too obvious.
    Damn you figured it all out. I guess this part didn't surprise you at all, did it?
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Your story and your comments truly keep the balance between each other when it comes to tragedies.

    Can only repeat, this AAR is not only interesting because of the story, but because of all the background details as well.
    Traditions need to be upheld! I hope I get this contentbox also past 2900 words.
    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    I too liked this one, it's written in a more light-hearted tone while it still holds the overall seriousness of the story. I personally find it lovely to hear of your personal connection to the choice of tree used in the story. It establishes a closer relationship between the reader and the elements used. I'd wager that a lot of us do exactly the same. It's easier to write about things you've had a personal experience with than if you didn't have said experience.

    I'm really getting invested in the dynamic between these three boys and am anxious to see how it all plays out. One particular thing I like about this AAR is the unpredictability of it. I am never sure on how the story is going to progress and this sense of mystery is really pulling me into the story.
    I hope I met your expectations. This combination between lightheartedness and seriousness is hard to pull off, so I hope it worked out. Same goes for the boys.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Betraying people is ok but false lists are unacceptable. Atone for your sins at once!
    As you wish duce. Your fault!
    Last edited by Cookiegod; June 04, 2019 at 06:16 AM.

  5. #85
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Absurdist
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    Default Re: II.4 Reunion

    Don't worry Cookiegod the chapter wasn't too long, as my good friend Gandalf, the file wizard, will testify.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    After the destruction of Sauron, Gandalf became a motivational speaker.
    Like you said, once a conversation starts it needs to be concluded in a natural fashion or reach a natural endpoint before transitioning into an entire other part of the conversation. Rushing it would only lessen the quality of the written work. On the chapter itself, I like it, it has very engaging dialogue and the spacing seems alright to me.

    All in all a very enjoyable read!
    Last edited by Turkafinwë; June 09, 2019 at 10:11 AM.

  6. #86
    Derc's Avatar Semisalis
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    Default Re: Of Wolves and Prey [Updated: 04/06; Part II.4]

    Very nice formatting. You just rewrit that chapter because I figured out your plans with Aistulf, eh?
    Joking. Still don't trust him. The boy's in something knee-deep.

    I felt the transition of the boys personal matters to the policies of Milan to be too rash.
    It was much talk about an oncoming storm with nobles talking in riddles. I felt this chapter to be very ... abstract? Makes that sense? Well, it showed on an elevated way the countless strings Milan was entangled into.

    Once again the background information proved to be a bliss.
    Ironic how you always blather about the lenght of your post, making it even longer.

    Let's see what that oncoming storm is about. To quote a famous Englishman: it is probably just "much ado about nothing".

  7. #87
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Of Wolves and Prey [Updated: 04/06; Part II.4]

    Yes, there's a lot of politics and intrigue here. This works well, especially the part about the margrave manipulating the merchant and the phrasing of Aistulf's response to the question about where his interest in politics comes from.

    I see what Derc means about the chapter feeling abstract. Perhaps it would help, in similar chapters in future, to have more of a combination of action and intrigue, so that readers can take in the political developments one stage at a time, see them in the context of more concrete actions and speculate about the next steps.

  8. #88
    Cookiegod's Avatar Domesticus
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    Icon1 Cookiegod's Development Dilemma

    Hello there!
    A word if I may. I assume some of you might have been shocked, appalled, disgusted, but not really surprised by my delay. Well, it’s because the last update didn’t go that well.
    “Huh?” I hear you ask. But yes, yes, it’s true. Can these eyes lie?


    So yes: My last part was indeed less than perfect.

    See, I write this AAR for two reasons: I wanna become a better writer, but I also want to entertain you. Trouble is: Those aren’t as compatible as you might think.

    Thing is: I’m practicing more of a novel-style kind of writing, a bit sophisticated. This forum, however, lends itself better to a different format, with different rules. I put them in this spoiler below, if you’re interested…
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Here are the 10 commandments any writer in the writer’s study should adhere to:
    1. Pique your reader’s interest with a catchy title and a title image as eye candy.
    2. Force your reader to read the entire text with a well written intro.
    3. Make the reader long for more updates with a well written outro.
    4. A text with more than 500 words will spook people and make them less likely to read it.
    5. The text should be easily digestible in every way: Grammar, spacing, formatting, but also content.
    6. The text should have a clear purpose; often one that can be formulated as a problem.
    7. The theme of the text should be easy to get into, even if the reader has either skipped earlier updates or simply forgotten them.
    8. You don’t need an overarching storyline/theme. If you want one, make it simple for the same reasons as outlined in 6 & 7! Make it compelling so that the reader wants to stick around.
    9. Recaps & Character lists are important, if the text is part of a larger plot.
    10. Plan ahead and make sure you post regular updates - Ideally once per week, twice only if rule 4 & 5 are adhered to.


    …buuuut it’s not so relevant, other than you’re probably already seeing OWaP doesn’t comply all too well with those rules, which, let’s face it, you’ve already read by this time. Ever happened on a spoiler you didn’t click on in this forum? Well, I haven’t. Makes them kinda pointless, amirite?
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Case in point…less.

    So let’s go through some of the themes in the last part in a spoiler (again: You don’t have to read this), and you might notice how it’s hilariously misplaced in this AAR. I’ll do it as a list, because I love Liszts.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    • The entire part was somewhat confusing, and in part by design. I like putting less subtle hints there, so that attentive readers and those who read again might be rewarded, but so that those who aren’t/don’t won’t suffer from it. So many seeming incoherencies here aren’t any in fact. But if it hadn’t been me writing those, but Derc or Kilo, I’d have crucified them for those.
      • Why are those 13/14 year olds so invested in politics?
      • The part before that I stated Gundulf hadn’t been very attentive. How was he then able to tell all of this?!
      • Albert starts out as a sad drinker. True, he might have been on his first few watered-down cups of wine, but does he act like a sad drinker in this part?
      • Isn’t he awfully prepared for someone who’s receiving a surprise visit?
      Well, if those mistakes were made by me on purpose, that’d make them red herrings, right? Wrong. That’d have been cheap. As far as the story progression goes, it doesn’t really matter if you noticed those “mistakes” or not. What it can tell you, however, is that the people involved don’t always tell the truth. People lie, people change their stories, etc. This is one thing most writers get wrong in their stories, except… well except those things might be confusing.
      And I can’t help but suspect that even if you weren’t so attentive, some part of you was still likely confused by it. Which in this context isn’t a good thing.
    • But lies weren’t the only way I was trying to be profound. So let’s look at that conversation the three friends are having. And yes, they are friends. But they’re also using and manipulating one another. I didn’t want their relationship to be unrealistically simple. Ever met a friend after many years? Haven’t you noticed how he changed? On the other hand, if you have been through traumatic experiences, as 2 out of 3 have, or share a goal, like two of the three do (wanting to return to the valley), your friendship also doesn’t end just like that.
      But the problem, again, that in this context people aren’t likely to notice any of that. And apart from the exposition and world building, this was one major point of this part. So in the eyes of a reader, this part might have seemed a bit pointless.
    • Then there’s the thing about character progressions.
      Let’s talk about the old margrave himself first, because this part does define him in certain ways, even if he himself hasn’t realised it yet. In chapter 1, he was an active man. In chapter 2 right up until the conversation with the merchant, he’s been portrayed as thoroughly depressed. Gundulf outlines the reasons pretty well without knowing them himself. In short: Achieving everything he thought he wanted, was the worst thing that could happen to the margrave. He knows how to play the merchant like a fiddle, but he doesn’t know himself very well.
    • Another thing with somewhat ok intentions, but poorly executed was the storm towards the end. This time this has nothing to do with the forum, and I’ve no excuse for it. I should’ve done it better.
      The storm does seem like an “ex machina” moment and was indeed a very convenient way for me to wrap that story up. The symbolism there was also probably too blunt. But I did also try to convey something else with that as well:
      I mentioned before how all 3 boys are manipulating one another. Yet Aistulf is the only one where I made it very clear. With the other two I was far more subtle. Aistulf doesn’t answer a single question in a straight way. When he answers, he always does so in a way that diverts the attention from what they were going for, even going as far as almost admitting he stole a horse to avoid saying why he came here. I didn’t make him admit that just to show what a badass he was. Towards the end, he’s cornered. But there’s no way he’d have dropped the act. He would’ve walked away no matter what. The storm is there for a different reason: The three boys aren’t much more than pawns. True: Matteo and Gundulf have a goal (returning to that valley), but they don’t have an agency in the way that they’re working towards it. They are playing someone else’s games for someone else’s profit. So the parting weirdly mystical advice Aistulf gives them is the only time he’s more or less up front: You don’t have to do this, you can always walk away. That choice is there.
      Aistulf is obviously seeing things they are not, but it is also due to him having a very different life experience and perspective than the others. If the storm hadn’t been on it's way, he’d have still walked, but probably not given them that advice.

      But again: All of this I made far too complicated.


    Well, you read it again, didn’t you? *sigh* Anyway, what’s more relevant than the problems with that part is what lessons I can draw from them.

    My way of dealing with this is that I have to do more to accommodate the episodal format more. Recaps gave me headaches, because you can’t do them about character development. Character lists are easier, and pictures are a must, because that will make it much easier for you to remember people (and also make it more clear who you need to know about and who is irrelevant).

    Those character lists are the main reason for the pause, because I had to find a way to do this in a way that makes sense. I think I found a way (doing them as intelligence reports/letters), which also solves the recap problem), and added an extra chapter for that, which will be up very soon.

    How soon, I hear you ask? Very soo… IT’S ALREADY DONE!!!! Not 99%, which is a fancy way of me thinking they’re almost done before I redo them entirely… NO! Entirely done!!! It’ll be up Saturday before 12:00 CEST. The only reason I’m not publishing it now is to waste your time with THIS!
    If you don’t hate me enough already for that, let me tell you: It has pictures! PICTURES!!! And you know what they say: A thousand pixels are better than a thousand words!

    Seriously though: I wanted to share this with you, even though you might think I’m overthinking this (I’m not! Take that back! ). I am as always interested in what you have to say to this. Character lists and recaps have been demanded before, so I should’ve listened to you more. But I also think those of you who like to hone their writing craft like me might gain some insight from all of this?

    Oh and btw: I’ll no longer do “update” contentboxes with irrelevant rambling below the story posts. Only relevant contentboxes from now on! I’ll instead put answers & comments in separate posts, as I’ve done right now. I know Derc will be sorely disappointed, so I tried to still his pain with the mother of all text walls - I hope he likes the title of this! Feel free to give me your thoughts on this, and I'll see you on saturday!
    Last edited by Cookiegod; June 27, 2019 at 03:48 PM.
    "Don't ask what the server can do for you. Ask what you can do for the server." - Ged

  9. #89

    Default Re: Cookiegod's Development Dilemma

    First things first:

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    “Huh?” I hear you ask. But yes, yes, it’s true. Can these eyes lie?

    The answer is "yes!"

    Now, I will use a list to give some thoughts on your questions/comments.

    The List

    1-3. Couldn't agree more. And these are fairly relevant for any kind of writing, or indeed any content in general.
    4. I don't agree with this, and I think the size of updates has more to do with the writer/audience for the particular piece than with generalities about what spooks people. I do agree that a solid wall of text is imposing and makes us subconsciously look for reasons not to jump in, but one can avoid a "wall of text" in a variety of ways while still having long updates. Pictures can help, or even little bits of eye candy here and there, and proper paragraphing also really helps to make things look more approachable. (I italicized it just to pick on you Cook; you really have improved the paragraphing of late, and I'm super happy about that!)
    5. I only half agree on this one. Yes, the things should be correct and well-written, and intentional obscurity is only usually good in moderation or at key moments, but I think the general complexity of content or presentation is something for the writer and audience to come to an agreement on (not literally, but via a changing of audiences until the writer has the right one). Some people love a good long-winded exposition about economics of the Late Roman era while others may hate it. The complexity there should fit the story and readership, but I don't think writers should in general aim for a "lowest common denominator" method of presentation. Putting in some challenges is usually appreciated by readers, and helps them grow as well. I remember learning loads of words and ideas from books, simply because the author refused to "dumb it down" for me, and I am glad for that.
    6-10. Yes to all of these. These taken together make the writing easier to hop back into as well, and will conspire to increase your productivity a lot. Can't agree with these more!


    I have one final thought on this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    See, I write this AAR for two reasons: I wanna become a better writer, but I also want to entertain you. Trouble is: Those aren’t as compatible as you might think.
    I think you (and all other writers here) should consider this question at some length and really carefully decide what you want to do here. Once you know, commit to it wholly, because you are (generally) right that these two things don't mesh well together. They can be done in one fell swoop, but more often than not they require different tools and tempos, and you'll struggle with both while achieving neither if you try to do it all in one go. Think about what you want to write and what end result you want to get out of it (entertainment for others, a book, better honed skills, etc.), and then consider how best you can get there. Then focus on that alone. I think you'll find yourself making better progress for it, and less often being irritated because things aren't going as planned. For example, I am writing a book, pure and simple, and I am just posting it for you all as I finish bits. But that is my goal, and knowing that alters the way I think about things greatly, both helping me to narrow down on important things and also alter my style to fit the book process. I think if we each consider why we are doing this then we will each be in a better position to perform our crafts at elevated levels!
    Genesis of Empires | Community Creative Writing
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    | My Ongoing Creative Writing

  10. #90
    Derc's Avatar Semisalis
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    Default Re: Of Wolves and Prey [Updated: 04/06; Part II.4]

    Holy, how long did it take you writing this?

    It all reads once again as if you as your own boss stress yourself to deliver the perfect product. We, the evil customers, wouldn't be satisfied with anything less. Is this part of the show too?


    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Hello there!
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    It has pictures! PICTURES!!!
    Oh and btw: I’ll no longer do “update” contentboxes with irrelevant rambling below the story posts. Only relevant contentboxes from now on! I’ll instead put answers comments in separate posts, as I’ve done right now. I know Derc will be sorely disappointed, so I tried to still his pain with the mother of all text walls - I hope he likes the title of this! Feel free to give me your thoughts on this, and I'll see you on saturday!
    You ... this ...

    Well, if the next chapter will have some darkness in it just as the ones before, then I'm happy enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    It has pictures! PICTURES!!!
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  11. #91
    Cookiegod's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default II.5 The records of Baldassare da Arsago


    The records of Baldassare da Arsago
    Not long after finally arriving home in Milan did the mercante go to his office and close the door behind himself, as he’d wanted to be alone. It wouldn’t be long before he was called in to the city council to give report of his talk with the margrave. He wouldn’t have good news to bring, and they’d get angry. But that was understandable. What worried him more was the fact they’d likely ask him for his advice as well, as soon as the initial outrage would’ve subsided. And he was a man the other council members would likely listen to, or his name wasn’t Baldassare da Arsago, the man with a pouch and tongue of gold, the one always expected to have an answer.

    Except, this time he did not. He had thought of nothing else during their entire journey home from the castle of Este. So the mercante decided to do what had often helped him find unexpected solutions to his problems. It was a trick, which Matteo would later learn from him. He wrote it down in his secret book, where he had written about many a rival or partner he’d crossed paths with over the years. Today, he’d add four entries, and doodle along the sides.


    Fulco
    The bastardo is the second of three sons of our marchio Alberto. As both of his brothers have inherited lands outside of Italy from their mothers side, Fulco is expected to inherit those of his father. He currently holds control of the countryside surrounding our city, but he has clearly ambitions regarding the city itself. With the church and empire ripped apart by war, the city would have to defend itself. And were we united, we’d be more than capable to do so. But we are not.

    Fulco has allied with the scum of the city. Because of our enemies within the city walls, we need friends beyond them. But where can we find them?


    Alberto Azzo II.
    We have been calling each other friends for about a decade, and he calls himself a friend of my father’s before that. Yet I cannot truly claim to know this man, nor does he seem to know himself. But he does know how to play me like a fiddle. He would have made a fine merchant: It is business first, friends and even family only later.

    If he is to help us, he’ll not do it for free. And given he knows he’s the only one who can stop his son, the payment he expects is big: If we do not hand over the city to him, our enemies will hand them over to his son. If Fulco gains control of the city, he’ll have us good people smoked out by the rabble that helped him gain it. And the paupers will be out for blood for the perceived injustices, and our city will go up in flames. If we do hand it over to him, he’ll save us at least. The price is high, but do we have a choice?


    Guelfo
    He is the oldest son of margrave Albert by his first wife, and, holding amongst other titles the duchies of Bavaria and Carinthia, one of the most powerful nobles in the empire. He is currently embroiled in a bitter war against the emperor. The duke has either fled to the Hungarians, or gone there to request assistance. He does not seem to have received the answer he hoped for, and seems to have departed. I believe his most likely destination to be Italy, to ask his father for help.

    His relationship with his father seems to be difficult, and with Fulco even worse. Whatever their mutual feelings might be – brotherly love is not one of them.

    Unconfirmed reports claim he was captured by the Venetians on his way here. A shame, if true. We could have used him. Either way, he is unlikely to be able to interfere in the near future.


    Della Corte
    The underworld in our change has changed markedly. On the surface, the violence has fallen significantly. But it worries me. The thugs are no longer killing one another, but have united and become organised. Lord knows this cannot bode well for the good people in this town. As to why that is, I know very little. My informants have all been killed or disappeared.

    There’s a rumour to be heard across the slums, as strange as it is persistent: Della Corte is back, they say, and this time for good. He’ll finish what he started, they say. He’ll free the paupers and punish the rich. The no good rabble shall rule the city. A no-good pauper with no name should have the same rights as me?! This cannot go well.

    The rumour is hard to believe: 4 decades have passed, since the rabble-rouser named Lanzone della Corte instigated a revolt, causing the good folk to flee the city. He only allowed them to return years later, much of the damage has proven to be lasting. But we have made him pay for it, and his family no longer lives in this city.

    Yet, it seems someone is leading the thugs and using the man’s family name for his gain. Whoever does so, however, has also learned from his mistakes. He does not expose himself to our wrath, yet we are exposed to his, and he has made sure we know this.

    The same symbol is appearing all across the slums and now also beyond it: 3 circles, the middle one cut through in the middle - a broken chain.

    Every time I step outside I feel I’m being watched. Could that no-good friend of Matteo be involved in this? Blast it, if it weren’t for the correspondence we intercepted from Fulco, I would not fear this man. But as it stands, I do. The city council may think we rule the city, but we have at least lost part of it.
    He rules it at night - and some of it in broad daylight as well. The man is elusive, and we will not catch him, but he can always strike at us.


    The merchant sighed once he'd finished, as he came to realise that it wouldn't work this time. He wasn't going to find a way out of the situation, because there wasn' one.

    He would have to swallow his pride, face the council, tell them of Alberts offer, and then, to their outrage and his own shame, advice them to accept it.

    Last edited by Cookiegod; June 29, 2019 at 07:30 AM.

  12. #92
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Of Wolves and Prey [Updated: 29/06; Part II.5]

    It sounds like Albert's offer is unattractive but the alternatives are worse, at least from Baldassare's point of view. I wonder if Fulco and Della Corte are the same person.
    Last edited by Alwyn; June 29, 2019 at 10:46 AM.

  13. #93
    Swaeft's Avatar Drama King
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    Default Re: Of Wolves and Prey [Updated: 29/06; Part II.5]

    And so it begins! Nicely written and I really love the font and formatting. Great job! It looks like hope for the city is fading fast...

    And we even have intrigue! A must read, gentlemen!

    Swaeft's Scribblings (Library)| Swaeft's Snaps (Gallery)| My Blog (The Lensation)

  14. #94
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Absurdist
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    Default Re: Cookiegod's Development Dilemma

    It is obvious you've thought a great deal about this and those ten commandments are sure interesting to look upon. Like Kilo11, I think the length of a chapter depends on the kind of story you wish to tell and which audience you reach out to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod
    See, I write this AAR for two reasons: I wanna become a better writer, but I also want to entertain you. Trouble is: Those aren’t as compatible as you might think.
    I agree with Kilo11 that this is a very interesting topic to think about. I will certainly think about in my own regard.

    On the chapter itself then. It seems you have implemented (most) of your own commandments into it. An interesting title to capture the attention, a intruiging concept to carry the middle and a strong ending leaving us wanting more.

    now to answer the most important of questions:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    yes, it's simply to hard to resist

  15. #95
    Cookiegod's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: Cookiegod's Development Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    It sounds like Albert's offer is unattractive but the alternatives are worse, at least from Baldassare's point of view. I wonder if Fulco and Della Corte are the same person.
    I can neither confirm nor deny this rumour.
    Quote Originally Posted by Swaeft View Post
    And so it begins! Nicely written and I really love the font and formatting. Great job! It looks like hope for the city is fading fast...

    And we even have intrigue! A must read, gentlemen!
    Welcome back Swaeft!!! You were sorely missed! Thought you had forgotten about me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    First things first:

    The answer is "yes!"
    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    to answer the most important of questions:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    yes, it's simply to hard to resist
    AWWW THANKS GUYS!!! You think my writing is perfect!!!
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Holy, how long did it take you writing this?
    It took me probably less than half an hour to get that mimimi-post, as you might call it, done. That's including the image.
    I'm a very quick writer when I don't have to think about every single word, hence the stupendous amount of posts I've done here on this forum in the last couple of months.

    It's kinda ridiculous how big the difference is in this regard. Writing prose takes a stupendous amount of time, which is why I'm so slow. But I might be about to improve.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    It all reads once again as if you as your own boss stress yourself to deliver the perfect product. We, the evil customers, wouldn't be satisfied with anything less. Is this part of the show too?
    It's not about you being evil customers, it's about me pushing myself to learn. And I'm not a perfectionist in that I'm not polishing everything, but rather have specific things that I'm icky about. So I'm not even trying to deliver the perfect product. Otherwise I wouldn't be putting those eye cancer images in there.
    But as an engineer I know the only thing that matters there is that the reader has some visual images he can associate with the people, no matter the quality, and it'll immediately make it easier for him to follow.

    Secondly, as many here have a similar goal, I put this comment in here not to lament or anything, but also because I think those who have a similar interest could perhaps gain some insight as well as add their own.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    Now, I will use a list to give some thoughts on your questions/comments.
    Derc and I are having a bad influence on you!
    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    The List
    1-3. Couldn't agree more. And these are fairly relevant for any kind of writing, or indeed any content in general.
    4. I don't agree with this, and I think the size of updates has more to do with the writer/audience for the particular piece than with generalities about what spooks people. I do agree that a solid wall of text is imposing and makes us subconsciously look for reasons not to jump in, but one can avoid a "wall of text" in a variety of ways while still having long updates. Pictures can help, or even little bits of eye candy here and there, and proper paragraphing also really helps to make things look more approachable. (I italicized it just to pick on you Cook; you really have improved the paragraphing of late, and I'm super happy about that!)
    5. I only half agree on this one. Yes, the things should be correct and well-written, and intentional obscurity is only usually good in moderation or at key moments, but I think the general complexity of content or presentation is something for the writer and audience to come to an agreement on (not literally, but via a changing of audiences until the writer has the right one). Some people love a good long-winded exposition about economics of the Late Roman era while others may hate it. The complexity there should fit the story and readership, but I don't think writers should in general aim for a "lowest common denominator" method of presentation. Putting in some challenges is usually appreciated by readers, and helps them grow as well. I remember learning loads of words and ideas from books, simply because the author refused to "dumb it down" for me, and I am glad for that.
    6-10. Yes to all of these. These taken together make the writing easier to hop back into as well, and will conspire to increase your productivity a lot. Can't agree with these more!
    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    I think you (and all other writers here) should consider this question at some length and really carefully decide what you want to do here. Once you know, commit to it wholly, because you are (generally) right that these two things don't mesh well together. They can be done in one fell swoop, but more often than not they require different tools and tempos, and you'll struggle with both while achieving neither if you try to do it all in one go. Think about what you want to write and what end result you want to get out of it (entertainment for others, a book, better honed skills, etc.), and then consider how best you can get there. Then focus on that alone. I think you'll find yourself making better progress for it, and less often being irritated because things aren't going as planned. For example, I am writing a book, pure and simple, and I am just posting it for you all as I finish bits. But that is my goal, and knowing that alters the way I think about things greatly, both helping me to narrow down on important things and also alter my style to fit the book process. I think if we each consider why we are doing this then we will each be in a better position to perform our crafts at elevated levels!
    Quote Originally Posted by Turkafinwë View Post
    It is obvious you've thought a great deal about this and those ten commandments are sure interesting to look upon. Like Kilo11, I think the length of a chapter depends on the kind of story you wish to tell and which audience you reach out to.


    I agree with Kilo11 that this is a very interesting topic to think about. I will certainly think about in my own regard.

    On the chapter itself then. It seems you have implemented (most) of your own commandments into it. An interesting title to capture the attention, a intruiging concept to carry the middle and a strong ending leaving us wanting more.
    Well, first of all I agree with you two that one has to have his priorities straight and choose what he wants to do. I never disputed that, and my choice in that regard has always been clear. I am writing novel style story, and that's how it will be. However, it's not always an either or, and what I've also always tried to do, was to accommodate somewhat to the style the forum allows (e.g. the 10 commandments).

    Now both of you disagree when it comes to the length etc. and you are correct in that different audiences have different tastes.

    BUT!!!
    The 10 commandments are universal, because that's how all of our brains are hardwired. Ever wondered how people can scroll through twitter/facebook/instagram all day and not notice how many hours they wasted? Why is no one doing that with e.g. some high quality newspaper? Because our brains always do cost/benefit analysises, but in a moronic way. So you'll be more inclined to read 2 badly written short texts (not that short texts are bad in themselves, just as an example) that give you absolutely nothing, than one long text that you might perhaps actually enjoy (again: not all long texts are good). Our drivers havn't had a driver-update since the stone-age, and are very much focused on energy preservation. So the reward aspect is more neglected compared to the cost. That's why I have to insist that they're universal when it comes to this forum. Reading/hearing an actual novel is a different thing, and you can override this by developing specific habits. Habits bypass that cost-benefit assessment completely, and you just do those things without thinking much about them. But I'm not that good at posting regularly, and I doubt that you guys have set yourself a specific writers study time, like: "Every sunday 8PM, I'm reading this cool AAR".
    Hence every time you read something, you'll have that invisible motivational hurdle first.

    I noticed that myself when I read Skotos' AAR. He writes well, but he has huge text walls, so I remember it always took me a couple of days before getting around reading them. I always enjoyed it when I finally did, but my brain never really learned from it... Damn, I just noticed I probably missed some updates of his.

    Point being: We all work this way. Especially in the golden age of short attention spans.

    This doesn't mean you have to follow the 10 commandments (again: I don't do it that much). I just think it's good to be aware of them.

    Oh and btw. No promises, because life tends to throw some random at me when I do, but next part might be up in very few days? I might cut it in half because of the length again. It's also going to be a little bit different.
    "Don't ask what the server can do for you. Ask what you can do for the server." - Ged

  16. #96
    Swaeft's Avatar Drama King
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    Default Re: Cookiegod's Development Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Thought you had forgotten about me.
    You...you...whaaat? How could you...

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Oh and btw. No promises, because life tends to throw some random at me when I do, but next part might be up in very few days? I might cut it in half because of the length again. It's also going to be a little bit different.
    Oh! Well all's good I forgive you now

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  17. #97
    Cookiegod's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default II.6 Monte Cecilia

    Monte Cecilia
    It had been one of the more quiet nights, and the dreams, though soon forgotten, were likely peaceful. At the very least, the boy had not screamed during his sleep, something he otherwise did often, resulting in his exile from the more comfortable lodgings befitting his rank to the servant quarters at the other end of the castle. The youngling, however, did not see the end of his dreams, as his sleep was cut short by a rather rude awakening. As he opened his eyes he could see naught in the darkness except the dark silhouette of the man who had shaken him towering over the bed. The boy was about to ask the stranger why he had done so and who he was, but immediately felt a hand pressed firmly over his face.

    “Shh!” He heard the dark silhouette whisper: “Not here. Follow me, now!”

    And the youngling, though desperate to continue his sleep, recognised the voice to be that of his liege and did not resist as he was pulled out of his bed and dragged out into the open. It was slightly lighter outside, and the boy, still in his sleeping gown, had some clothes pressed onto his chest. “Put your clothes on, Gundulf,” Albert whispered with a commanding voice, “while I fetch the horses.”

    The two departed from the castle before sunrise. The margrave, having returned to his old energetic self, led the way with head held high. The youth on the other hand was, even as he sat on his horse, still in the process of waking up. He did not even question to what destination they were heading. The two thus rode in silence, heading in a north eastern direction on flat terrain for about two miles, until reaching the western slopes of the hill that is called Monte Cecilia.

    By the time they’d passed the village of Baone that lies at the foot of the hill, the cockerels had awoken and were loudly announcing the new day. And once they’d begun their ascent up the western slopes of Monte Cecilia, it dawned on the boy what his liege was likely up to. The hill is not particularly high, less than half that of the hills closer to the castle, but its position as an outlier surrounded by flat terrain to the east and south made it a prime vantage point. Yet Gundulf preferred to continue the ride in silence, and did not ask to have his assumption confirmed.

    Now awake, his thoughts focused on the castle to which he was unlikely to ever return to, and the friends he might no longer have. It was strange. As long as he had lived in the castle of Este, he had mostly despised it. After all, as he reminded himself time and again in order to strengthen his resolve, it wasn’t his real home. His real home was in the Apennines, hundreds of miles away. And he had been taken from there by force. Este had felt more like a prison separating him from his friends in far away Milan, especially in those months when Albert had abstained from travel. But now, when Gundulf knew his departure from the castle to be final, he could not help but feel sadness weigh on him. After all, it hadn’t been all bad.

    The chestnut forests on the Euganean hills had offered him shade on hot summer days. The stream below the castle walls was where he had learned to swim, and he had come to appreciate the hot springs in the mountains as well. This was where he had spent much of the last seven years, and many fond memories tied him to this place.

    “But this isn’t my home,” Gundulf reminded himself, trying to steer his thoughts towards the tower in the valley in the Apennines far away. The tower he had lived in until his father’s untimely demise. At first he was surprised as to how similar it looked to the main tower in the castle of Este. Then he realised this was due to how little he remembered about it. The memories of his birthplace had, little by little, been replaced. This realisation only compounded to Gundulf’s grief, as the boy now realised how complete his loss of his home had become.

    As the two finally reached their destination on the eastern hillside Gundulf could not help but feel a sense of relief at having something to do, something to take his mind away from the empty memories. Both dismounted in silence, and Albert promptly went to sit on a tree stump in the middle of a clearing. Gundulf meanwhile tied the horses, fetched the provisions they had brought with them, and only then sat next to his lord. Their location offered a broad view eastwards, on lands Albert soon would no longer call his own, but which were beautiful nevertheless. For a while they both sat quietly, and stared into the distance.

    Dawn had broken, and darkness given way to a golden sky.

    Beneath the rising sun was spread like a green sea,

    The waveless plain of Lombardy.
    Last edited by Cookiegod; September 02, 2019 at 08:08 AM.

  18. #98
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Of Wolves and Prey [Updated: 25/08; Part II.6]

    Gundulf's mixed feelings about this sudden early-morning departure, perhaps stirring up old feelings of when he was forced to leave his real home, come across well. The ending presents what sounds like a lovely landscape, I wonder if this represents a new beginning for Gundulf. Great update!

  19. #99
    Derc's Avatar Semisalis
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    Default Re: Of Wolves and Prey [Updated: 25/08; Part II.6]

    Nice, short chapter. Easy to read, easy to understand, and still very mysterious and interesting. Loved to see Albert back in action and Gundulf thrown out of his surroundings (once more). Didn't expect that, I admit it.

    Guess the stone just got thrown. Lombardy will be waveless no more.

  20. #100
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Absurdist
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    Default Re: Of Wolves and Prey [Updated: 25/08; Part II.6]

    There's nothing that I can add that hasn't already been said by Alwyn or Derc. A delightful melancholic update to Gundulf's and Albert's story.

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