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  1. #1
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    Urban Fantasy in mythological times.

    This is a mid-story scene, so requires a brief setup:
    Meretis, a lawyer, sued the goddess Eunomia and won the case. Eunomia, embarrassed and peeved, summoned some unusual Furies to teach Meritis a lesson. They broke into his home and attacked him, but he managed to escaped through a tunnel he had built under his home. Now he's reached the exit.

    This particular tunnel (there were many leading to different places) lead him to an exit near an ex-lady friend, Astia, who is also a witch. These particular furies have poor eyesight, so they mostly use the sense of smell to hunt their prey. Eunomia (she is a goddess) supplied them with his natural body odor.

    Just wondering if the scene "works" and any other observations.
    I think the "real" Furies are properly capitalized, but I didn't do so for my fictional furies.

    ***

    Meretis reached the end of the passage. Good, the furies hadn’t follow him…or maybe they had a different plan. He opened the exit hatch just a crack, and peeked through. For now, the low hill that lead to Astia’s home was was clear, but he was concerned about two things: how fast could the furies track him, and did he want to risk stepping out in the grassy field of the area where he’d be completely vulnerable. His only concealment would be tall, white stones that stood scattered along the hillside.

    But he didn’t feel safe in the tunnel either. For all he knew, the women could have broken the entrance and followed him at a stealthy distance, savoring the chase. He hadn't heard the entrance hatch breaking--it would have echoed in the tunnel--but that didn't make him feel any safer. He wouldn't risk staying and climbed out. He quickly re-concealed the outer hatch with some nearby stones and dirt, then ran the straightest path to Astia’s hut.

    He knocked repeatedly, but no answer. This was no time for her to be out! His only hope for help was away on, most likely, some frivolous task. He stood for a moment to figure his next course, but rustling from behind the door made his breathing settle.

    Astia spoke without opening the door. "Please, Meretis, I don't want to be bothered right now. I'm not in the mood for you nor what you want."

    "No, I'm not here for that. I need your help. I mean professionally. I'll pay you well."

    Astia could never pass a financial gain. The latch slide from inside, a little too slowly for comfort. Astia knew he was an impatient man and did it on purpose.

    “Come on in.” Her words were cold and empty.

    Meretis jammed the latch back in place after entering, then ran to the side window to be sure the furies hadn't sniffed him out.

    "So what's the matter?" Astia asked. “You need something for those wounds?”

    She didn’t question how he got the slashes. Instead, she turned away and fiddled about separating some herbs laid out on a small marble bench, immediately ignoring her offer to dress his wounds.

    Despite Astia’s indifference, the calming feeling her home always gave him was especially welcome right now, the whole aura of the one large room. It always struck him as soon as he crossed the door. He sat in his favorite chair, the one with the curved legs, adorned with ivory. "I sued the Goddess Eunomia. And won. Now I have to face her wrath."

    "No doubt rightly so. She is just, so I'm sure whatever she decided fits. What exactly is her punishment?"

    She didn’t ask about the case. In their early days, she found him fascinating and wanted to know every detail about his job. "Furies, I think."

    She faced him. "And you lead them here? No thought that you could be placing me in danger?"

    "I’m sure they want me only. They chased my servants, but didn't harm them. This is Eunomia, she wouldn't harm innocents. I'm the target."

    Astia reached into one of her hanging cabinets and pulled out a phial of balm and a towel. "Here, apply this and cover those gashes. I don't want any blood residue on my furnishing.” She paused for a few seconds. “You seem desperate. I think I will ask double payment for whatever it is you want me to do. And what would that be anyway?"

    "Remove my body odor."

    “Try taking a bath?”

    He did what he’d always done when he wanted her to know he didn’t appreciate her sarcasm--wore a meaningful, blank stare. Before, she would be peeved at his reaction, now, she didn’t care.

    "Tell me, what do these furies look like?" She returned her attention to the herbs. "I have an idea since they hunt by smell, but I have to be certain."

    The balm felt icy, but numbed the pain. He described the women and included the eye removal. *(all prev stated, so not repeated here.)

    "Yes, just as I figured. Those are Virginal furies, rare but deadly. And you are correct--they seek only their target." Astia rinsed herb residue from her hands in a bucket of water beside the bench and dried them with a nearby cloth. "Their sense of smell is indeed strong, but do you fully understand what you're asking? Having no body odor will make you, let's say, seem less human, particularly to women. I’m sure that alone would be a major problem for you. People around you will sense something's strange, but probably won't understand what it is."

    "At least I couldn’t be tracked. It's either be considered odd, or ripped to pieces. I'll take my chances." But he still considered the fact that women might find him sterile, less than a normal man.

    "My life is never dull with you around, good or bad times." Astia sighed and rummaged in another of her wicker cabinets. She pulled out a small jar. "Here, undress and rub this over your body. It only takes a light coat. It's a concoction I brew for hunters. That should cover your odor temporarily while I think up a permanent solution."

    Meretis removed his tunic and laid it across a chair next to Astia's now perfectly arranged herb collection. The ointment made his eyes water. It smelled of strong mint and onions and felt like thorn pricks on his skin.

    Astia thought up a solution sooner than he figured. "I will encase your body in an invisible outer layer. Don't worry, it's not something you nor anyone else would notice. But this will be irreversible. And very expensive." Astia poked through a chest of ritualistic odds and ends. "If the furies can't smell you, you will be mostly lost to them, but don't forget, you can still be seen, even if their eyesight is poor. If you avoid them for a week or so, they'll fade back to their pre-summoned realm. Don't put your clothes back on just yet."

    "Can I stay here?"

    "Absolutely not."

    He wasn't serious. Astia's home would be no good. Still, he was a little hurt, but he smiled--almost laughed. Astia's strength of character was his first attraction to her...well...maybe second.

    He waited until she completed the new balm. He knew not to say a word because the last time he broke her concentration, he caused her to ruined her concoction. She didn't talk to him for days. When she was done, she spread the oily liquid over his entire body while whispering in that language he never understood. For once, the ointment didn't smell. It dried instantly.

    "You can get dressed now."

    He did, feeling more confident. He'd need a few things from his home if he was going to be away a while, but sneaking back would be tricky. He still had to figure out where to spend time away.

    “Thank you, Astia. You may have saved my life. I’ll come back soon with your payment. I don’t think I could take the wrath of two women at the same time.” He meant what he said.

    "If you're still alive," she said, still with no emotion. He was sure she didn't care for him as much as the old days, but her attitude had to be partly a facade.

    He bade her goodbye and Astia gave him a dismissive brush. Now to brave the furies without being seen.
    Last edited by leedix; 09-10-2016 at 03:29 AM.

  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt
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    Sorry, my first thought was how that outer layer works when he needs to use the bathroom. What payment is he giving her? It's better if she asks for some object or task difficult to obtain. Like the head of a Gorgon or something. That would liven up the exchange.

    BTW, lots of spelling and grammar to look at later.

  3. #3
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    Sorry for what?
    I don't understand your first comment. A bathroom for what in accordance to the scene presented here?
    The "Gorgon head or something" is out of the scope of the story because the type payment isn't important at all to the whole.
    Lots of spag? Doubtful. Some, perhaps.

  4. #4
    Rogue Mutt
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    I mean if his body is encased in an outer layer, how does anything get out? What happens when he has to piss? That would have his scent on it. The same for his stool.

  5. #5
    Rogue Mutt
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    Since you called down the thunder:

    Good, the furies hadn’t follow him…
    Followed

    For now, the low hill that lead to Astia’s home was was clear
    Led and only one “was”

    but he was concerned about two things: how fast could the furies track him, and did he want to risk stepping out in the grassy field of the area where he’d be completely vulnerable.
    It’s a question—two, really.

    Astia could never pass a financial gain. The latch slide from inside, a little too slowly for comfort.

    Pass up is the traditional phrase. Slid, not slide.


    "I’m sure they want me only.
    they only want me would sound better than want me only. Just saying.

    Before, she would be peeved at his reaction, now, she didn’t care.
    Run-on sentence. It’d be better to break it at “now”

    he caused her to ruined her concoction.
    Ruin

    I guess you might not consider that a lot, but this was a pretty small sample size.

    The "Gorgon head or something" is out of the scope of the story because the type payment isn't important at all to the whole.
    Yeah, but as it reads he just shows up, she solves his problem with little thought, and he goes away. It isn't all that interesting. She says she'll solve his problem if he goes on a mini-quest, then it becomes more interesting because he'd have to do something difficult without dying or being found by the furies.

    Anyway, from the sound of your complaints, you just posted in the hope to hear only what you wanted to hear.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Mutt View Post
    Since you called down the thunder:

    Good, the furies hadn’t follow him…
    Followed

    For now, the low hill that lead to Astia’s home was was clear
    Led and only one “was”

    but he was concerned about two things: how fast could the furies track him, and did he want to risk stepping out in the grassy field of the area where he’d be completely vulnerable.
    It’s a question—two, really.

    Astia could never pass a financial gain. The latch slide from inside, a little too slowly for comfort.

    Pass up is the traditional phrase. Slid, not slide.


    "I’m sure they want me only.
    they only want me would sound better than want me only. Just saying.

    Before, she would be peeved at his reaction, now, she didn’t care.
    Run-on sentence. It’d be better to break it at “now”

    he caused her to ruined her concoction.
    Ruin

    I guess you might not consider that a lot, but this was a pretty small sample size.



    Yeah, but as it reads he just shows up, she solves his problem with little thought, and he goes away. It isn't all that interesting. She says she'll solve his problem if he goes on a mini-quest, then it becomes more interesting because he'd have to do something difficult without dying or being found by the furies.

    Anyway, from the sound of your complaints, you just posted in the hope to hear only what you wanted to hear.
    Well that would certainly be a complete load of contentious crock. My responses were genuine. Maybe you don't like being questioned if I take your stance and twist it back on you.

    Most of the errors were mainly typos than real spag with the exception of the run-on sentence. Thank you for pointing that out and I'll correct that. The typos I would have caught in later edits, but I also thank you for speeding that up by mentioning them.

    Questions can certainly be "things" to be concerned about.

  7. #7
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    Oh, got it now. I was genuinely confused.
    I specifically mentioned his body odor, not body waste. Eunomia supplied the furies with only his general essence. She didn't go quite that clinically "deep."
    And let's just say Astia left 'those sections' free--like his nostrils and ears. Really a niggling detail for the story premise, though.

  8. #8
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by leedix View Post
    Really a niggling detail for the story premise, though.
    I doubt I'm the only one with a dirty enough mind to think that.

  9. #9
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    Meretis reached the end of the passage. Good, the furies hadn’t follow him…or maybe they had a different plan. He opened the exit hatch just a crack, and peeked through. For now, the low hill that lead to Astia’s home was was clear, but he was concerned about two things: how fast could the furies track him, and did he want to risk stepping out in the grassy field of the area where he’d be completely vulnerable. His only concealment would be tall, white stones that stood scattered along the hillside.
    You begin in his viewpoint, but then switch to that of the narrator as soon as you begin explaining, with "but he was concerned about two things." This is, clearly you, stepping on stage and talking to the reader, which stills the scene clock and kills the momentum you've built. Why not keep it in his viewpoint, as it matters to him, in the moment it matters? Something like. But how fast the furies could track him was unknown, so stepping out into the open field was asking for trouble. The white boulders scattered along the hillside seemed the only option, but...
    He hadn't heard the entrance hatch breaking--it would have echoed in the tunnel--but that didn't make him feel any safer.
    Again, the viewpoint is external, and thus dispassionate. We're not "looking over his shoulder" as he makes the decisions, we're reading a synopsis, presented by a voice we can't hear, and thus, is emotion free. But rephrasing into his viewpoint is simple, with something like, "The tunnel's entrance was still intact. The sound of it being smashed would have echoed through the tunnel. That thought didn't bring confidence, but it did say he probably had at least xx minutes of safety—if he stopped dithering and got moving."

    Not your story, or characters. Nor is it more than a quick example of a tighter viewpoint. Presented that way, though, we know what he takes into account, and what/why his decisions were made. And that gives the feeling of participating rather then reading a report.
    He quickly re-concealed the outer hatch with some nearby stones and dirt, then ran the straightest path to Astia’s hut.
    Here, you're giving visual details that work in a film, but on the page serve only to slow the narrative. Every unnecessary word you remove quickens the action. Fewer words = more punch.

    Why is "quickly" necessary here? We already know he's in a hurry, so isn't it assumed he'll work quickly? Adverbs are useful, but many can be removed because they're demonstration words in speech. You'd might say the word "slowly" as "sloooowly," were you telling the story aloud and the protagonist deliberately slowed down. Here, you'd emphasize the word quickly. But on the page how you would speak the word is unknowable.

    What does "re-" add to concealed? He concealed the hatch. And even then, does it matter to the plot or develop character? And why mention that it's "the outer hatch."? Isn't that inherent in concealing it from the outside? And why do we care what he concealed it with? We want him to get to what matters to the plot.

    In general, you're writing well. But too often you intrude, when your function is to stay in the control room, throwing things at your protagonist that will force him into action, and screw things up every time he thinks he's got a handle on the situation.

    If you've not read it, this article is the best condensation I've found of a very strong approach for placing the reader into the protagonist's viewpoint.

    Hang in there, and keep on writing

    Jay Greenstein

    Our goal isn't to make the reader know the character is frightened, it's to terrify the reader.
    Last edited by Jay Greenstein; 09-10-2016 at 01:37 PM.

  10. #10
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    Fantastic tips on the viewpoint, Jay. I even jotted it in my Scrivener notes section. I feel I stay in view most of the time, but you've just shown me how I can slip out. Now I'll be more aware.

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