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The sound of the king's fist slamming into the council room table, jolted Whent from his daydream. It wasn't uncommon for the young guardsman to nod off during these meetings. Esme had been keeping him up nights, and it was far more entertaining to daydream about the promises she'd whispered into his pillow than listen to boring talk of border disputes and the endless string of battles against Lyria.

"The Lyrish will not be permitted to take Galanta! It is dire enough that we have lost our most experienced commander, a loss I'm sure that saddens many of you as much as it does me. Unfortunately, we have little time for grief. If we allow our forces to be driven from the area, we will have given them a stage to launch raids into our interior. I will not have my friend's death be for naught," the young king announced to the startled collection of advisors and nobles scattered around the table.

"Sire, I may be so bold," Lord Kael began, straightening in his chair to address the volatile monarch. "You may be letting your grief at General Raife's death affect your judgment. It's understandable that you feel this way, many of us in our heart of hearts agree. But as king, you must weigh the costs to the kingdom first. Can we afford to move more troops into Galanta? Our coffers are all but empty. The cost of this war with Lyria has us stretched near to breaking. You are the king and I will support your decision of course, but for the good of the kingdom be sure that you are not acting only out of outrage and grief."

Whent didn't trust Lord Kael. There was something oily about him. He was a man who in Whent's estimation had never missed a meal, his girth standing only second in size to his skill as Minister of the Treasury. To Whent's estimation a man with an appetite as large as the Lord Kael's should be at least a bit slovenly.

Lord Kael was nothing less than fastidious when it came to appearances. The cloying smell of perfume clung to the rich velvets and silks of his expertly tailored clothing, while precious stones were perfectly placed to display his affluence without seeming too gauche. He was the perfect picture of a noble who appreciated his good fortune, while at the same time reveling in it. His overly pleasant demeanor and immaculate taste seemed contrived to Whent. There was something more to the minister, something the portly man wanted to keep hidden. The king's passionate response soon interrupted Whent's speculations.

"I will reconvene this council in three days, it seems I have much to think about. I am glad my father left me with such astute advisors. I will weigh your counsel carefully before making any final decision," the king said, bringing the meeting to an end.

The meeting now concluded, Whent straightened, opening the heavy oaken door to the council room. One by one, the various ministers and advisors filed past the young man's watchful eye. He made eye contact with each one of them, save Lord Kael who exited last. Surprisingly the portly lord stopped in the doorway and spoke.

"I would advise keeping a more watchful eye in the future. Some may feel that dozing while guarding the royal person to be dereliction of duty," he voice a conspiratorial whisper. His eyes were another story entirely, challenging the younger man into speaking out of turn. Realizing that Whent had no intention of responding, Kael joined the rest of the council members in the hallway. Sighing in relief, Whent pulled the door closed.

"I almost fell over when you hit the table," Whent laughed turning from the door towards his dear friend.

"You were thinking of Esme again, I presume," the king replied with a smirk.

"The wit of my lord is uncanny," Whent teased. "To be frank, I was thinking of counting the freckles on her chest later tonight...with my tongue," he finished with a chuckle.

The young king groaned in mock horror settling back into his chair. Whent kept near the door, in case the king received unforeseen visitors.

"So what do you have to report today, Whent?" the king was all business now. The time for familiarity and jesting was over, this was work.

"One of the Cassaways is dallying with a scullery maid, Riana if I recall the girl's name. It's not much, but it could prove useful. Also, your new manservant is an informant in the employ of Lady Elyse. She seeks to give her daughter a better chance at a royal match, by gathering information on your majesty's habits." He tried to go on, but the king was already fuming.

"The nerve of that woman, spying on her king. As if I'd marry Gisele. the girl is certainly comely enough but her head is as empty as a gourd. I'll have to dismiss the boy at once," he said running a hand through his shoulder length red hair, obviously angry.

"I wouldn't advise that. You must be more subtle than that, your majesty. Let me handle it. The boy will be gone from your chambers in a fortnight," Whent counseled. He had dealt with similar problems before without even mentioning them to his friend. Some things were better handled without the king's knowledge.

While impetuous, the king was not foolish. Ten years of friendship as a boy had taught Whent many ways of dealing with his friend's fiery temper. In truth the king had few true friends at court, so Whent had been brought along to fill a minor position in the household guard. Unbeknownst to any one other than the king his real duties were to serve as the king's informant in the castle as well as give the young monarch honest counsel. The boys' fathers had laid the foundation for this friendship since they were children. Few people in the castle remembered the adolescent friendship between the two young men. Eight years of training in far off Malthera had prepared Whent for his duties while also seeing to it that his face was no longer associated with that of the young king's principle playmate. Even his name was no longer the same. Serving as a spy and assassin when the need arose, required being invisible, and the nondescript palace guard met that need beautifully.

------
Smile if you're stupid,
laugh if you understand.


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Comments

The following comments are for "A Parliament of Thorns: 4"
by Bartleby

Part 4
Uh-oh! Now I wonder if someone will figure out that Whent and the king were friends when they were kids. Good one here. You asked how to make reading this compulsory; I think it's mixing it up like this, introducing and alternating characters. And while my feelings are still neutral about Raife and the brother, I immediately liked Whent and the king. Also liked the description of Lord Bael; Henry the V came to mind (or VIII; whoever invented the codpiece).

I feel like a broken record in my criticisms, so I'll say same thing as before with commas, although it's *much* better in this installment. I noticed that there are about half a dozen sentences that seem like words are missing, and two instances where apostrophes are used when not needed ('friend's' in the last paragraph, and 'Cassaway's').

( Posted by: Elphaba [Member] On: March 20, 2004 )

Lord Bael
Bart;

I'm enjoying this story more and more. "Whent" is an odd name, I like that because it is different.

Last paragraph, "Unbeknownst" Bart I would write it this way>>>>>>> un-be-knownst.

Can't wait to read [5].




Blessings,


{{{Jeannie}}}

( Posted by: JEANNIE45 [Member] On: March 20, 2004 )

Bael me out!
okay, just a few things.

1. Bael, the treasurer. Okay, he physically doesn't resemble Lord Baelish the Master of Coin, but the names look an awful lot alike. I'd give serious thought about changing this.

2. "It is dire enough that we have lost our most experienced commander, a loss I'm sure that saddens many of you, as much as it does me."
This seems a little run-on-ish. I'm not sure how to break it up, but it seems like it could be.

3. "The Lyrish will ..." The king is slamming his fist into the table. Maybe an exclamation point or two would help emphasize his anger/frustration.

4. "nothing more than fastidious " or "nothing less than fastidious" ?

5. "My commands concerning . . ." This is kind of a strange way to end the meeting. Perhaps pushing this further to the front of the scene would still allow you to make the point. Especially since the change of command didn't seem to be a point of contention in the meeting (unless it happened "off camera").

6. "He made eye contact with each one of them" This was the real tip that indicated that Whent was more than he seemed. Nice job.

7. I really liked the relationship between Whent and the King. A little cloak and dagger, but a certain level of warmth too.

8. "to spy her king" perhaps "to spy on/upon her king"

9. "Gisele. the " The

10. "her head is as empty as gourd" "her head is as empty as a gourd"

11. "I'll have dismiss the boy. ." I'll have who dismiss the boy at once?

12. "While impetuous the king was not foolish. "
While impetuous, the king was not foolish.

13. The boys fathers -> The boys' fathers

( Posted by: aikiguy [Member] On: March 20, 2004 )

Littlefinger vs. Fatfinger
Aikiguy~

The name for the Minister of the Treasury was a purposeful nod to Martin, but obviously if it seems too cliche to you then it probably is. I've changed it slightly so as not to be too derivative.

All of your other observations were also spot on, and have been noted and the text has been modified.

Secondly, I have a question for you. Did my change of viewpoint keep your interest well enough to distract you from the "main" action of the earlier segments?

Thirdly, how's the dialogue? I've always struggled with dialogue and I had expected someone to call me on it. But since no one has, maybe I'm on to something.

Once again thanks for all the helpful editing.

Bart

( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: March 20, 2004 )

little but fat
I hadn't thought of lord Bael as a "nod to Martin". Actually, I had thought it was either an accident of the subconscious, or perhaps just being used as a place holder. If you intended it to be a "nod" then I'd go ahead and keep it in. The name doesn't effect the story, it's just that you and I have some similar history with Martin.

I very much like the change of viewpoint. It adds another element to the story, lets us know what is going on in the larger world, and that it is important. That is, this won't be a medieval fantasy version of Kerouac's "On the Road (with an undead monk)". It will clearly be a more complicated story. Always good in my world, others may feel differently.

On the question of dialogue: I think it's going fairly well. I think that the king's way of speaking is very well developed, especially since he changes in demeanor several times in this installment. His mannerisms and way of speach change visibly several times. Whent as well. I think, with more screen time Kael/Bael will develop his own mannerisms as well. I'll keep an eye on the dialogue in the future.

AKG

( Posted by: aikiguy [Member] On: March 21, 2004 )

Thorns 4
To answer you question, the change in viewpoint did startle me a little bit, because I was so into the other characters. It would be ok I think, if I understood how this chapter would fit into the emerging story. As it stands it's a bit too much of the interplay between newly introduced characters, so I would bring it more story focused until we've settled on these new faces.
Dialogue is fine, keep it up.
On specifics, I think the opening sentance needs to be stronger "The sound of the king's fist slamming into the council room table, jolted Whent from his daydream" gives passive overtones, whereas "The king's fist slammed into the council room table, jolting Whent from his daydream" is definative and consise.
This is from When'ts perspective, so "To Whent's estimation" isn't needed, make it "A man with an appetite as large as the Lord Kael's should be at least a bit slovenly."
Don't tell us you don't trust Kael, show us. And you do pretty much, so just cut that line out.
"Young king" is mentioned, but really if he is a young king I'd like to know more. Doesn't he rely on Whent for emotional as well as political advice? You try to give us background at the end, but it's too late. Work it into the dialogue at the beginning, the relationship between the two, don't save it for the end.

( Posted by: Malthis [Member] On: April 7, 2004 )

good suggestions
Malthis~

I'll definately be taking some of your comments on this section when I go back for a rewrite.

As far as the changing viewpoints. I'd get used to it. It's a mechanism I plan on continuing as I'm sure you've already guessed.

Once again, thanks for reading and letting me know what you think.

Bart

( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: April 7, 2004 )





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