Saturday, January 31, 2015

Steering the Craft, Exercise 7, POV: The Decadent Serpent

Time to dive into Exercise 7: POV (page 91 of Steering the Craft)

To sum-up from the previous post:
200-350 words narrative sketch, event with 4+ people, little or no dialogue
Part 1.1: limited third person, 1st POV
Part 1.2: limited third person, 2nd POV
Part 2: detached narrator
Part 3: observer narrator, an onlooker POV told in first or third person
Part 4: involved author

I wanted to work with something completely new for this exercise. My brainstorm went with a weird sci-fi missing person story, but I'm going to come back to that on my second run through this. I put more energy into my second brainstorm. The first two POVs (part 1.1 and part 1.2) are done enough to post. The rest will follow later this week. As always, comments welcome. Enjoy!

The Decadent Serpent

Part 1.1 (limited third person, 1st POV)

The discourse of the negotiations court went silent; celebratory sounds from the lower feast courts could still be heard, but the babble of the leaders gathered about the conference table ceased.

Clevstire Indardane, the Hightooth general-in-chief, clenched his fists in the air and glared at Herin Steinbu, the Muxstein master-of-fish (whatever title it was the rotten Muxstein fastened upon their leaders, this would do), who stood directly across from Clevstire. The master-of-fish had pushed out his chair in order to better emphasize his criticisms and demands, and remained standing, as he placed his hands on his hips and waited for what he most likely hoped would be a meek and obliging response. Everyone else continued to sit in their ornate, iron-and-amber chairs, expressions ranging from poker face to anxious gape.

The host of the event looked bored, yellow eyes glazed and sighs of static-charged air easing out of his nostrils. Clevstire wondered if he had seriously trooped this far from Hightooth for nothing but the whiny complaints of a fish nation laced with sugar water wine and frosty finger food that made him want to gag. He was not a fan of sweets and the Decadent Serpent, that almighty Zyxoryixt he had to hold talks with at least twice a year in order to keep his nation on relatively good terms with the rest of the continent, had to know his guests preferences by now, and he supposed the Serpent must have consciously decided to send this particular guest a resentful message by carefully removing anything worth imbibing or ingesting (ridding the feast of items similar to dark ales or thick steaks, for example – for he was certain they had been present last year).

However, it was just as likely that the creature’s tastes were merely growing ever more childish. This did in fact remind Clevstire of a birthday party meant for an innocent, young adolescent, minus the massive length of the Decadent Serpent’s scaly body lazing in the middle of the vast chamber, minus the gladiators and the contests perhaps, though even those had a childish twist to them, the silly colorful costumes worn by the fighters in the pit and the odd gimmicks of spoon-passing tacked on to the races, not to mention the accessories and touch-up that beauticians continued to provide to their master even in the midst of the celebrations. Grace of alabaster, he didn’t have to involve himself in those activities. In the name of courtesy, he had soldiers to fill the role of gaudy gladiator and servants to service the rest. He would not lightly offend their host.

The master-of-fish though, he would not hesitate to slight him, or preferably slice him and his Muxstein brethren into ribbon-shaped appetizers as gift to the gracious head of the negotiating table. Grant the Muxstein leaders the evidence they craved in order to prove that the Hightooth were indeed feeding on their people. As if the Hightooth people would degrade themselves with such base meat.

Enough with their accusations then. Clevstire Indardane finally brought his fists down onto the table, his lips twisting at the pain. He grabbed his wineglass before it toppled over and splashed its contents in the face of Herin Steinnub. The man leaped back in shock then, a shudder passing through the frills and fins poking out of his loose robe. Clevstire stood and clapped, mockingly grunting an explanation for the other leaders gathered at the table: for falsities, my friend.

Clevstire took his gaze from the other leaders and returned it to his opponent. The master-of-fish had already slid forward and was shoving the wine decanter between them off balance. Clevstire stepped back, but not enough to avoid getting drenched from the waist down. A fight it was then: his weapons were stored at the entrance, but his fists would do well enough; hey, he could just gore him on his horn, if he really wanted to start the war those liars long had coming.

Part 1.2 (limited third person, 2nd POV)

The discourse rambled until Herin Steinbu couldn’t stand listening to it any longer. The Gibbons council member was expounding his scientific theories about the ‘very real threat’ caused by the mixing of livestock imported from the western nomads with the local livestock of these lands east of the mountains. The Hrexeth chieftain butted in with a shout or curse in his tribe’s language now and again, but the Gibbons scientist didn’t let the speech die. Herin tuned it out. The wine was a delicate blend and savoring the flavors made drowning out senseless noise easy; the tiny donuts were thick and dark thanks to the frosting and went well enough with the wine; he let the outer discussions fade as he reviewed his own speech. It was about time to lay the cards down.

The problem was, their host, The Decadent Serpent as he was most commonly called, didn’t appear to care what his guests complained about: the great lord Zyxoryixt sighed every few minutes, his eyes swiveled down to peer at the festivities, and at the moment, he was flicking his tongue at a servant, a young lass with smooth face and exquisitely layered hair, likely a beautician, muttering an order to her under his breath, only a miniscule amount of focus lent to the negotiations table before him. Herin would do the same if it was him. Having to listen to this bullshit on one’s birthday would be buzzkill.
Their host would matter little if the issue affecting the Muxstein people came to a head. The Decadent Serpent lived up to his most common nickname, and along with decadence came this ambivalent nonchalance about the world at large. Soon Gorgath Pithy must share any details of import he’d discovered in his socializing. Who knows – the beauticians and servers could be key influences on their master and might poke a hole in his nonchalance given the right words.
What he said at this table had to be directed to the assistants and the leaders of those nations who could prove worthwhile allies. Hit the Hightooth general’s buttons and he’ll shame himself enough that Herin would have the upper hand.

Just as the Hrexeth chieftain cursed yet again, Herin rose, wineglass in hand.

“A toast, to the grand Zyxoryixt and his associates. And a blessed birthday to his majesty.”

He reached over and clinked the moody-faced Hightooth general’s glass and flashed a smile to the rest of the attendees. Once they had all taken a sip, he funneled their attention into his accusation. The wicked appetite of the Hightooth nation would be their downfall. Herin started by listing the number of missing persons reported in Muxstein lands. Noting that at least those Zyxoryixt agents present, and even his beautician, gave Herin their attention, if not the host himself (it appeared that he had turned his neck toward the gladiatorial warm-up games), he fleshed out the list with details and evidence surrounding several cases. That brought him to the accusation: the rhino beasts who were supposedly civil enough to belong within the allied nations of Zyxoryixt’s continent had revealed themselves to be immoral, monstrous savages. The Hightooth nation was feeding on the Muxstein. The evidence was overwhelming.

The silence made Herin want to grin. Smothering the grin with a heavy face, he studied those present, watching a clear success unfurl before him. From their expressions, he could tell that they were taking the matter seriously, almost as seriously as Zyxoryixt took his accessories and sugary foods.
And the Hightooth head honcho was still in his seat with hands clenched so tight they were vibrating. That made this best moment of the year for Herin. That bastard was screwed. Now if he would just – yes!

Those fists came crashing down on the table and Herin watched his enemy fling the wine onto him. Herin took a tardy step away from the table, widening his eyes and slapping at his stained robes. A shiver of excitement hit him, but he prevented his lips from forming that oh-so-tempting fuck-you-asshole grin by placing them in a terse oval shape of surprise.

Now to get beaten down by the relentless tide. Herin let his enemy observe the crowd then pushed the wine decanter in the middle of the table at him. He was too clumsy to dodge it. But he was foolhardy enough to charge right over the table and attempt to murder Herin right then and there. Thanks, old rawhide.

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