WatchNon-threaded

Forums » Writing Workshop » Read Message

Toss around ideas and brainstorm your story.

Something I should not be doing ...

one month ago
I am only toying with this to procrastinate from things that I should be doing instead. But I guess it's a better way to procrastinate than others. It aims to be a short story about the third son of a minor highland Scottish baron in the early 13th century. It does not purport to be educational in the slightest, and if I continue to procrastinate from the things that I really rather should be doing to such an extent that it gets large enough to publish, then I imagine it will be an Everything Else kind of story.

The pilot page ...

They bury your father in the catacombs beneath the Monastery of Saint Jacqueline. While the clergy absolve all soldiers on the eve of battle, your father proved himself to be truly blessed. The former baron received absolution in his dying throes, from a warrior monk of the Dominican Order, as he bled to death on the muddy hillside. By all accounts he would be in heaven now, basking in the glory of God, despite his Earthly mediocrity.

You, the rest of the family, and the local peasantry, will remember him for a time. But you have no doubt that his name will be lost to history in the end. For your father - who was not a particularly good man, nor an evil one at that, but if nothing else ... a forgettable man - left the world without a lasting mark.

As the priests perform the funeral rites, you contemplate the meaning of your own life. As the third son of a Scottish highland baron, how could you possibly hope to leave a true impression on the world? Are you fated to live a life of irrelevance? You have no lands. No wife. No money. At least you have your family.

The funeral ends, and you say your final farewells to your father. The priests and some of your father's men offer you their condolences, yet you note that your eldest brother, Duncan, quickly becomes the center of attention. Knights, courtiers, wealthy merchants, and even the monastery's prior all surround the new baron. Plans. Plots. Favors. It appears the intrigues of the court leave little time for remembrance of the dead.

You climb the stone stairwell out of the catacombs and exit the monastery. A cool and rainy late summer morning greets you as you send an apprentice to fetch your horse.

The young monk-in-training soon returns with your steed, a strong and sturdy, but slow and ambling, chestnut rouncey named Ogre. You mount your horse and prepare to head back to the castle, but just before you set off, you hear the creak of the monastery doors behind you and an unfamiliar voice calling your name.

Choice: Pretend you didn't hear anything and set Ogre off at a gallop.
Choice: Delay your departure and ask how you may be of service.

Something I should not be doing ...

one month ago
Please stop mounting Ogre.

But I hope you can keep up interest in this one, it's off to a good start. Luckily, I know absolutely nothing about 13th century Scotland and I doubt our token Scot does either.


Option 2 seems sensible, it might be important.

Something I should not be doing ...

one month ago
Delay your departure ...

You turn around in the saddle and look back to the monastery. A man with a thick brown mustache and a fancy hat waves as he walks toward you. His doublet bears the crest of House Dunkeld - the house of the king.

"I'm glad I caught you before you departed, Lord William." The man with the fancy hat honors you with a solemn bow. "I'm terribly sorry about the loss of your father."

You nod. "Thank you for the kind words. But who do I have the pleasure of addressing? A man of House Dunkeld?"

"More or less. I'm a distant cousin of the king, from a minor cadet house of the family. My name is Fingal, and I serve in the royal court as an agent of Marshal McDougal. That's why I wanted to speak to you. This recent rebellion has convinced the marshal that the kingdom can never have enough good swords, loyal to the crown, in Scone. I've been dispatched to recruit promising younger sons of the nobility throughout the realm to serve in the king's household guard." Fingal pulls out a letter from within his doublet and hands it to you. The letter bears the king's seal. "If you're willing, ride to Scone and present this letter to the castellan. His name is Lachlan."

"I'm certainly honored," you say as you place the letter in your saddlebag. "I'll think it over on my ride home."

You say goodbye to Fingal, resisting the temptation to ask where he got his fancy hat, and set Ogre on a trot down the lane back toward the barony.

Riding through the light rain, you contemplate whether to head to Scone. On one hand, it would be honorable and prestigious to serve in the king's household guard. You don't have high hopes of inheriting any lands or titles, so if you want to make something of your life, you'll have to carve out your own fortune. Of course, such a choice would firmly set your life on a path of fighting and war. Is that what you really want?

Choice: Yes, once I return to the barony, I'll make preparations to head to Scone.
Choice: No, I don't think I want to live the life of a soldier.

Something I should not be doing ...

one month ago

The only right answer is option 1, we ain't a bitch! 

Something I should not be doing ...

one month ago

1 - Naturally I will make preparations to head to Scone.  I anticipate gallantry and serious bloodshed.

Something I should not be doing ...

one month ago

Option 1 - Scone sounds fun. Mostly for the "path of fighting and war."

Something I should not be doing ...

one month ago
Hey, I resemble that remark!

Something I should not be doing ...

one month ago
You people are so predictable. All you want are swords and blood.

... make preparations to head to Scone.

By the time you arrive back at your father's castle - or rather, your brother Duncan's castle now - you decide to make preparations to head to Scone. The barony just doesn't really have a place for you anymore. Oh, sure, you could serve as castellan or something for Duncan, but you crave something more from life.

A sentry sees you approach and raises the portcullis. You cross the drawbridge, pass through the gatehouse, and dismount in the bailey. A stable boy leads Ogre to ... well, the stables. "Brush him down good," you say as you enter the keep.

Inside, you find the keep unusually quiet. Most of the important figures in the castle's household would still be at the funeral, or rather the political maneuvering following the funeral. But you find it odd that you cannot seem to find any servants. You want someone to prepare a travel bag for you. After checking several rooms and corridors, you finally find a peasant woman tending a pot of stew in the kitchens. She has a comely face, despite the slight twist in her nose. But you don't seem to recognize her.

"Where is everyone?" you ask. "And are you new? I'm afraid I don't know your name."

"Aye, my lord, this is only my second week here in the kitchens. My name is Addiena. As for the others, your lady mother sent most of the castle off for the day to mourn your father's death or celebrate his memory as each saw fit." She pours a bowl of stew and offers it to you. "Hungry, my lord?"

"I could eat something I guess," you say as you take the bowl. "Hmm, is Mother feeling better? She said she didn't feel well enough to make the ride to the monastery this morning."

"Can't say how she looked, my lord. I've been in the kitchens all the day. All I know is she summoned a page to her door, don't think she ever opened it, and had him send word throughout the keep. Ordered a light sentry on the walls and as light a staff as the castle could get by with. We drew lots among ourselves to see who would stay."

You thank the wench for the information - and the tasty stew. Then you climb the stairs and head for the sleeping quarters. You'll just have someone prepare your travel bag tomorrow. In the meantime, you can make a list of what you'll need to take. Actually, that may not take too long.

You don't have many possessions, but you'll want to take your armor and armaments. Ogre will go with you as well of course. Hopefully the king's court won't think too poorly of you for riding in on a rouncey. Most knights and nobles own coursers, or at least palfreys. The best warriors, or at least the most wealthy, ride upon mighty destriers. But you don't have the coin for that. Your father owned the only destrier in the barony as far you are aware. And now that destrier belongs to Duncan.

So what to do with your free time?

Choice: Check in on your mother to see how she is doing.
Choice: Now that I think about it, that serving wench was rather comely ...

Something I should not be doing ...

one month ago
Whoa, settle down there. Go make sure your mom is okay and inform her you're going off to probably get yourself killed now.

Something I should not be doing ...

one month ago
The hive mind has broken. Do you have a rebuttal?

Something I should not be doing ...

one month ago
Check in on your mother ...

You decide to be a good son and check in on your mother's health. She should know you plan on leaving for Scone in the coming days anyway.

Standing outside the lord's bedchamber, you knock on the door. "Mother? How are you feeling?"

You hear a low gasp, followed by a sudden shuffling, and a crash inside.

You try the door. Locked. "Mother? Are you alright?"

"Yes, yes. I'm fine. You startled me. That's all. I wasn't expecting anyone back so soon." The sound of a sweeping broom slips though the crack between the floor and the door ... or is that the rustling of drawers you hear? "How long have you been back?" your mother asks.

"Maybe a quarter hour," you say. "I didn't stick around once the politicking began. I imagine the others will linger there for quite some time, or perhaps move on to the nearest inn."

You hear a sigh. "Oh, good."

"Good? I don't understand? Mother, can you open the door? I'd rather not just stand out here in the corridor and talk through a slab of wood."

"Oh, William, dear, you don't want to come in here. I'm still feeling terribly ill. I don't want you to catch anything. I just knocked over a vase. It's nothing I can't manage."

"Shall I fetch the apothecary?"

"No. There's no need to make a fuss. I'm sure I'll feel better by morning. Just some rest. That's all I need."

You frown at the door. "I'll be making preparations to head to Scone, Mother. I've been invited to join King Alexander's household guard."

"Oh, my, what honor you bring to this house! I'm so very proud of you, William. You'll have to tell me all about it in the morning. Now, please, if you don't mind, I think I'm going to go back to sleep. I'm quite weary."

Choice: Something is wrong here. I'm going to go get a key.
Choice: I'll send a runner for an apothecary ... just in case.

Someone I should be doing ...

one month ago

It would be wrong of me to deprive an attractive serving wench the opportunity to spend a little more time with me.

Someone I should be doing ...

one month ago
Gower, you dog!

Something I should not be doing ...

one month ago
As both options likely lead to sex, I'll order off the menu and go with the wench.

Something I should not be doing ...

one month ago
I'm quite confident that Lord William resents your assault on his honor.

Something I should not be doing ...

one month ago
Well, I imagine this will be a project that develops slowly. I wanted to keep the pages to about 300 words, but I'm at about 3,000 now and only have 7 pages ... so I can see that goal was blown up by over a third.

That said, it's been a fun distraction so far. I'm clearly out of writing shape. It's taking far too long to get the words out, and this will serve as some good practice before I set my eyes on something with a bit more planning.