The Grammar of My Younger Self is Making Me Cringe so Much

So, does anyone remember that post where I talked about the fact that I don’t get writer’s block, I’m just a huge writer procrastinator? Yes? No? Well, either way, I’m just going to tell you right now:

Forget that. All of it.

do currently have writer’s block. Recently I managed to start another chapter of the book I’ve posted two excerpts on here, and I’ve written a few things here and there, but it still feels like I’m in a writer’s block. I’m not really enjoying it much.

Long story short, the block led to me reading through some older story drafts to get some inspiration, and to give myself some form of entertainment.  The folder I took out held a lot of writing I’d been doing about two years ago or so. I got a few pages into one draft and had to put it down, because it was so horribly written (round of applause to my family for reading through entire finished books of that stuff).

It’s amazing to look back and see how much my writing has changed in two years alone. Most notably my grammar. I know that even now I will mess up with grammar, but the draft I read was worse. So, so much worse. To prove my point, I’m going to put an excerpt of that older work and then an excerpt of a newer work to compare.

First, we have 2015/2016 (I’m honestly not sure when exactly it was written but it was sometime around then) Rhapsody, with all misspellings present. This story is based around the idea that there’s a city up in the clouds that-well, it will become pretty self-explanatory as you read on.

 

Some people walk by things without giving them a second glance. Have you ever LOOKED at something, like REALLY looked? Because maybe-just maybe-if you look hard enough at the sky, you would catch a glimps of a land hidden from the Surface: Cloudtown.

Cloudtown is well hidden. It floats high in the sky, sorrounded by many puffy clouds. It floats around the world over and over. And the people of Cloudtown are responsible for the making of clouds, and why you see what you see in the sky.

Jaiyniss Carter ran towards Cloud Central in the center of Cloudtown. Jaiyniss (Ji-y-nis) had big blue/green eye’s and curly blond hair. She was not really aloud at Cloud Central, but it didn’t stop her from going there whenever she could. Her older sister, Opal, worked there. (Jaiyniss was 12, Opal was 19) Opal was in charge of Surface (Down on the ground) patrol, which meant she took care of things when someone from the Surface saw Cloudtown.

“Opal!” exclaimed Jaiyniss, bursting into Cloud Central. Many people groaned.

“Jaiyniss” said Opal with a sigh “We talked about this. You can’t bother me when I’m working” Jaiyniss smiled.

“But I LOVE watching you work. Oh, what does this do?” Jaiyniss pressed a big red button. Opal looked outside, and saw a newly formed cloud in the shape of a bottom. She sighed.

“Jaiyniss, can you PLEASE go?” Jaiyniss was about to respond, when many lights flashed red. Cloud Central was a very organized place with many departments: Surface patrol, cloud design, storm check etc. Cloud Central was a giant white room, with all the departments having their seprate parts.

“We have a Spotter!” shouted Opal to the Surface patrolers.

“Oh, oh, I call it!” shouted Jaiyniss, running to a long tube.

“Jaiyniss, don’t-” too late. Jaiyniss had jumped into the tube. She slid down as it led her to the Surface. Jaiyniss didn’t get to go to the Surface often, but she liked it there. It was so different!

“Okay” Jaiyniss mumbled to herself, excited “Where’s the Spotter?” Jaiyniss hadn’t paid much close attention to who the Spotter actually WAS. But she was pretty sure it was the kid standing a few feet away from her with his mouth open and staring up at the sky.

He looked about Jaiyniss’s age. He had tanned skin, amber eye’s and brown hair. He had a ball in his hand. Jaiyniss guessed he had been playing catch with someone, had went to retrieve the ball and seen Cloudtown.

Jaiyniss was about to go over and convince the Spotter that he was just seeing a normal cloud, when a hand clamped her shoulder. She looked around. Opal stood there, holding her back. She made a motion to two other agents of Surface patrol, who went foward towards the boy. Opal steered Jaiyniss over to a camoflauged tube.

“I’m sorry Opal” said Jaiyniss when they got back to Cloud Central.

“You’ve said” Opal told her “Countless times” Jaiyniss hung her head.

“I know” she said quietly “I just wanted to be like you guys” Opal sighed.

“Jaiyniss, your time will come when you can work at Cloud Central” said Opal. Some people muttered something about “That will be the day we’re all doomed”. “But you’re just too young”

“Yeah” Jaiyniss muttered sadly “Too young”

 

…The less said about what was going through my head at that point, the better. I still like the concept I had for that, however that excerpt alone could be seriously edited.

Now, for my comparison, here’s a surprise excerpt of Forevermore. I know this is out of order, but here is chapter two. This one sort of explains how General Gonosz and Ms. Stone meet.

 

The next morning, Gonosz figured he had a bit of time before he had to go interrogate the newest prisoner of the palace. So he slipped by Lake and Marty and went out into the village, cars and horse drawn carriages alike moving through the streets. He walked quickly and with purpose. Gonosz was going to take this assignment very seriously, despite his reservations.

People avoided the general left and right. Although, they would avoid anyone wearing the wooden mask, the brand of the empire. That also meant citizens wouldn’t attack him, so he appreciated it. He had no time for a fight.

Gonosz stopped directly in front of an old building, looking up and reading the sign: Stone Family Orphanage. From what he’d gathered, this was where Cowen had lived, ergo this was where he needed to be. Grumbling under his breath, the general knocked on the door harshly.

“Coming,” said a muffled voice from inside. He heard a lock slide, and the smiling face of the woman at the trial the previous day quickly switched into a frown. “General Gonosz. Err…What are you doing here, sir?”

“I’ve come to ask you a few questions about Cowen,” Gonosz replied.

Ms. Stone swallowed and had no choice but to let the general inside. The general walked in and looked around. There was the sound of children playing in the distance, and flames crackled cheerfully in the fireplace. Even though it was a poor building, it radiated warmth and kindness, which Gonosz instinctively recoiled from.

The woman began fiddling with her skirt nervously. “Erm. What would you like to know?”

“Any information you have on the child. Files, records.”

“Yes. Right. Follow me, sir.”       

Ms. Stone took him to a back room full of shelves. Shelves, shelves, and more shelves, all stacked with dusty piles of paper. The orphanage caretaker ran a trembling finger along one, muttering the names of each file under her breath, until she found what she was looking for. Ms. Stone picked it up and handed it to Gonosz.

It was a miserable excuse for a file. Only one page, with Cowen’s birth date, a poor quality black and white photograph, and things like his height and skin colour. In short, either info that was unimportant or info that anyone would be able to tell just by looking at him. The general looked up at Ms. Stone quizzically.

“We really don’t know anything about him, General. We don’t know about most children that show up here. His parents probably perished or couldn’t afford to take care of him! Cowen’s a good boy, sir, he wouldn’t do anything to hurt anyone, I have no idea what he was thinking…” All of this was said very fast and Ms. Stone had to stop and catch her breath.

“Are you finished?” Gonosz asked dryly. Ms. Stone nodded her head and the general put Cowen’s file back. “Is there anything else you can tell me about him?” Conveniently, Gonosz had both a pistol and a knife on him, so Ms. Stone didn’t hesitate to reply.

“He…He sometimes talked to himself at night in the past few months, sir. We never found out why. Cowen’s usually very kind to his fellow orphans and he’s friends with all of them. Everyone’s very fond of him, sir, but there’s not much else to say.”

“Hmm. Alright,” Gonosz muttered. “If you think of something else, come straight to the palace and tell someone, okay?”

Ms. Stone visibly relaxed. “Okay. Yes, General.”

You probably won’t, Gonosz decided as he left the orphanage. But it’s always easier to get information from the source, anyway.

 

Cowen was curled up against one wall of his cell. He’d cried all night, of course no one could hear him. Sure, the guards brought him meals, but the experience wasn’t pleasant. Wasn’t pleasant at all. Cowen couldn’t leave, though, not until he got what he came to the palace for.

The door to his cell opened, making Cowen jump. There was the general again. And of course he brought his weapons. Cowen watched him as he closed the door behind him and walked across the room, with Gonosz watching him back. He opened his mouth to say something when Cowen beat him to it.

“What’s your real name?”

Gonosz stared. “What?”

“What’s your real name?” Cowen asked again, curiously. “It’s not Gonosz. Your parents wouldn’t have named you Evil.”

“Now you just-” Gonosz froze, staring at him. “You understand Harvanian.”

Cowen nodded.

“It’s practically a dead language.”

Cowen shrugged. “What’s your name, then?”

“I don’t need to tell the likes of you,” Gonosz snapped. Cowen continued to watch him intently until a name suddenly sprung to his tongue unwillingly. “Taylor.”

That was a lie, alright. Even so, it still startled Gonosz when he said it. He hadn’t thought of the real Taylor for years. Why did the name come to his mind now? Gonosz was awoken to the fact that, like yesterday, Cowen was making him feel off. Something began to nag at him from the very back of his mind. As the general tried to place his finger on it, Cowen’s eyes flickered, then he smiled.

“Taylor.” Gonosz gave him a sharp look, and he added, “sir.” The general sighed and decided to get on with it.

“I’m going to guess that your family comes from Harvan, correct?”

Cowen made a vague movement that could have been a nod. Then again, it could have been him drifting off to sleep for a second because the stone bed didn’t give him much of a chance to catch the stuff. Gonosz still figured it was a nod, though. The trademark green Harvanian eyes should have given it away.

“But you don’t know anything about your ancestry?” he pushed, eyeing the child.

“Not much, Taylor, sir. Mr. Lil always said that I looked like someone from his home kingdom. He taught me some Harvanian, and his wife always gave me and the other orphans baked cookies.”

“Mr. Lil?” Gonosz immediately planned on tracking down the man, whoever he was, because perhaps he could be of more help than the Stone lady. Cowen looked down sadly.

“He was eighty six, Taylor, sir. He died of a heart attack a few months ago,” he mumbled.

“Oh,” said Gonosz. Cowen looked back up at him, and Gonosz wondered whether he was expecting some sort of comfort or he was shocked by his lack of emotion. Either option seemed ridiculous. Obviously he wasn’t going to comfort him on this, and heart attacks happened all the time. Mr. Lil was old, and no one in the kingdoms were medically advanced, so his death was bound to come up. What was he supposed to say?

Probably not this: “The emperors and empresses have you here because they still think you’re in league with the rebellion. I don’t think that’s true. The rebels wouldn’t send in a child, but that doesn’t help me narrow down why you would sneak into the palace on your own at night. The only explanation I can think of is that you’re an idiot.”

Gonosz knew he wasn’t an idiot. He had displayed several times that he knew when to keep quiet, and he never attempted to lie when answering anything, he only chose to reveal small pieces of the truth. Small enough pieces that they didn’t aid Gonosz at all, which was extremely annoying.

The little boy stared up at him, even now giving nothing away. Gonosz clenched and unclenched his fists threateningly.

“So why,” he breathed. “Why on earth. Would you. Come here.”

“I was looking for something, Taylor, sir,” Cowen said.

“What?”

“Something important, Taylor, sir.”

“Like what?”

“I can’t tell you, Tay-”

“All right, look, if you’re going to call me anything you will call me General,” said Gonosz.

Cowen sighed. “General.”

“Good. Now tell me what you were searching for, and the rulers will set you free.”

“No they won’t.”

“Oh, yes they will.” Gonosz barked a laugh. “Feeding so many prisoners wastes precious resources. Believe me, they’ll be only too happy to get rid of you and send you along back to the orphanage.”

“Won’t they want to kill me?” Cowen asked, cocking his head to one side.

Gonosz frowned. He answered tactfully. “Probably not. They won’t think it’s worth it, of course that depends on what you came here to steal.”

“I wasn’t going to steal anything!” Cowen denied, taking his turn to frown. Gonosz blinked.

“Then what was the point of coming here to just look for something and risk your life in the process if you weren’t going to steal it?”

“I told you,” Cowen mumbled, slumping against the wall. “It was something important.”

Gonosz weighed his options. He’d found a few things out, and it was only the first day, plus he still had other things to do. The general didn’t think he was going to get much further with Cowen, so he turned around to leave.

“Búcsú, General,” Cowen called after him. Gonosz paused in the doorway.

“Farewell to you too,” he muttered sarcastically, before closing the cell with a clang.

 

And there you have it. Turns out, writing can change a lot over the course of even a couple of years. I’m sure mine will continue to change. All it takes is practice. That, and perhaps a dictionary to help with spelling.

 

Yet Another Book Excerpt for the Story With No Name

Post: Chapter 12.

Reasoning: I’m alone and I’m bored.

Hey, so…That excerpt I posted on New Year’s Eve? This won’t make much sense if you haven’t read it. Actually, this is a while later in the story and a lot of things have happened that I’m not going to even begin trying to explain.

Long story short, though, all you need to know to read this is the information from “Second Book Excerpt! (Untitled)” and a few things I’ll go through very quickly.

  1. The general lied to Cowen when he asked him about his real name, telling him it was Taylor
  2. Ms. Stone is a woman who runs the orphanage Cowen spent most of his life at. It’s called Stone Family Orphanage; I know, I’m very creative.
  3. General Gonosz went to that orphanage early on in the story to get some information on Cowen, but he didn’t really find anything important except for his birth date and little things like that.
  4. In addition, I’m a teenager trying to write in the point of view of a full grown man, and I don’t know how that’s going for me.

I guess I’m just putting this up because I had fun with this chapter, and also, I don’t have much to do at the moment. Here it is-ta-dah.

After the past few days, Gonosz felt the need to just go take a walk. He wanted to clear his head. Once he got outside, the fresh air greeted him, rolling by him and instantly making him feel better. He looked over to the nearby village, and figured he had time to go into town. The general really had to get away from the place.

Where he walked, everyone’s heads turned. All of the villagers did their best to put as much distance in between them and Gonosz as possible. Some people went into buildings and shut the doors, others made sure to take wide detours around him, and many adults shielded their children behind themselves. In addition, Gonosz felt as if the town had become much more silent after his arrival. Not very calming in the least bit.

Gonosz slipped into an alley. He wasn’t going to be able to go through with all of this, not if he was walking through town to take his mind off of things. After a few moments of hesitance, Gonosz took off his mask, and slipped it into his inside jacket pocket. He checked his clothes; average enough. There was a lump where the wooden mask stuck through but no one would suspect what it actually was.

The general went out of the alley and looked around. The villagers were still a little on edge, looking around as if wondering where the dreaded General Gonosz had gone, but none of them paid any attention to Gonosz himself. With a small smile tugging at his lips, Gonosz walked around the village like a normal person with the wind blowing in his face like it hadn’t for years.

For the most part, Gonosz glanced into the windows of all the shops to keep occupied and occasionally rolled his eyes at the daily tasks of the townspeople. Everything seemed to be going fine and then suddenly a woman shot out of a building and randomly grabbed his wrist.

“Please, sir, I’m in dire need of assistance!” she yelped, pulling him inside. Gonosz stumbled through the doorway, looking around. A sense of familiarity settled over him. He was in the Stone Family Orphanage and, yes, there was Ms. Stone in the flesh beside him.

The caretaker winced. “I’m so sorry to bother you, sir, but there are too many of them and none of the other staff are here and-”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Gonosz said, holding up his hands, still disoriented. “Slow down. Too many of who?”

“Children! I can’t handle them all on my own. Please, sir, please look after some of the kids for a moment and I promise I will pay you afterwards.”

Gonosz paled. This was what he got for strolling around without his warrior mask. Out of all the people in town, he happened to be the one walking outside of the orphanage when Ms. Stone rushed outside. The atmosphere there still bothered him, and it seemed to be closing in on him. Gonosz took a few steps back towards the door.

“Miss, I’m afraid I am the wrong person for the job,” he told Ms. Stone, reaching blindly for the handle. “I don’t really do children.”

“They’re no trouble at all, it will only take a second of your time,” Ms. Stone rambled.

“You’d really trust to put a bunch of kids in the hands of a stranger you picked up off of the street?”

Ms. Stone hesitated, then smiled weakly. “Well, I mean, you can’t be worse than a palace soldier, right?”

“Ha. Right.”

There was a sound like something smashing in the back room, causing both Gonosz and Ms. Stone to jump. Ms. Stone was obviously desperate. She turned back to Gonosz and clasped his hands, looking at him pleadingly.

“I really need help. Please, sir. All you need to do is watch them until I find some of the little rascals that have run off. Please?”

Gonosz opened his mouth, about a hundred replies racing through his brain. Most of them weren’t very kind. The one that ended up coming out, though, wasn’t rude and wasn’t one he had been expecting.

“Alright,” he said to Ms. Stone. She beamed at him and led him through another door before he had time to change his mind. Gonosz found himself in a room full of children from ages five to about sixteen. Ms. Stone clapped her hands, and soon all eyes were on the general.

“Everyone,” Ms. Stone said with a warm smile. “This is…”

“Taylor,” Gonosz supplied. If it worked with Cowen, it would work then, too.

“Taylor. He’ll be watching you while I go get Tina, Carter, and Ally. Be good, okay?”

“Yes, Ms. Stone,” the kids chorused.

Ms. Stone turned to leave, smiling at Gonosz and mouthing, Thank you. Soon enough, Gonosz was alone with approximately thirty children, all of them still staring at him. Gonosz straightened his shoulders, sat on a seat in the room, and stared back. No way he was going to let a bunch of little tikes bother him.

Slowly, some of the older kids peeled their eyes off of him and continued chatting with each other over several varying topics. The younger ones sat down on the carpeted floor with their eyes riveted on him. Gonosz cleared his throat, giving them pointed looks that in his opinion were quite clear: Go back to what you were doing or else there is a spanking in your future.

This didn’t have quite the effect he wanted, though, so he chose to directly speak to them. “Is there something you lot need?”

“I’ve never seen you in town before,” a nine year old said.

“I’m new,” Gonosz answered, mildly irritated. “Go play.”

“Where are you from?” asked another kid.

Gonosz chose a kingdom at random. “Teiallha.”

“Where’s that?”

“It’s down south. Is there anything you want to do besides play twenty questions with me?” Gonosz was beginning to wonder if all of the orphans from that place were the same level of annoying.

“What’s your favourite colour?” asked a shy little girl, barely making eye contact. Gonosz groaned internally.

“Twenty questions it is then. For the sake of forwarding this conversation, red, I guess. Anyone else have something they just absolutely need to know?”

Sarcasm was apparently lost on the group. A little boy raised his hand. “Can you tell us a story?” Gonosz paused, frowning.

“A story?”

“Yeah!” The first kid put her chin on her fist. “Pretty please tell us a story.”

Right. A story. Why not? It wasn’t as if he was a cold-blooded general who didn’t specialize in telling fairy-tales to little children. Gonosz looked around as if searching for a way out and his eyes settled on a stuffed dog clutched tightly in the shy girls hands.

“What’s the dog’s name?” Gonosz asked, pointing at the plush toy. The little girl looked startled, lowering her head to study her dog.

“Anna,” she squeaked, holding the stuffed animal up in front of her like she was shielding herself from anyone’s gaze.  

“Anna,” Gonosz repeated, all the while thinking to himself, What the heck do I think I’m doing. “Well, it just so happens that I knew a dog called Anna like yours back in Teiallha.”

His listeners all watched him with wide eyes, excited to hear a story. Gonosz just hoped he could tell a valid one, or at least part of a valid one, before Ms. Stone got back. How long did it take for someone to find three kids in a village that small?

“She lived with her owners; Ben and Sarah. They always took little Anna out on walks around the countryside, letting her run through…Fields. With flowers, and sunshine.”

This is horrible. I can’t believe they’re eating up this garbage, Gonosz thought, amazed.

“Life was good. Anna had everything a pup could ever want. But, one day, when she was exploring out in the woods on her own, something terrible happened.” Gonosz paused for dramatic affect and let his audience gasped. “Anna was chasing a, uh, butterfly or something when she came to a large stream. The water was fast and always moving. Anna thought to herself, I’m a long way from Ben and Sarah and I should get a drink before I go looking for them.

“Anna leaned over to sip some of the water. She was very small, though, and she slipped. Anna fell into the water and got carried away through the forest, away from her owners.”

One of the kids cringed. “Oh no.”

“Was she okay?”

“What happened?!”

Gonosz held up his hands to calm them down. “She found herself far outside of the kingdom. Anna was even more lost than she had been before. She tried howling, barking, and trotting along the edge of the stream to get someone to help or to find her way back, but nothing worked. She was stuck.

“Anna spent the next few days alone, sleeping in the shelter of a small cave and eating whatever food she could find. A little kitten came along and found her-”

“What was the kitten’s name?”

“Bob,” Gonosz said, saying the first name that came to mind. Why did it have to have a name, exactly? Before any more questions could be asked, Gonosz rushed on. “Bob took Anna in, helped her into a nearby village where the kitten’s owners were. She was given proper food and a place to sleep, then the owners of the ca-Bob put up lost dog flyers.

“Ben and Sarah came to find Anna and took her home, and they all lived happily ever after.”

Gonosz cringed at his own storytelling and waited for a booing or rotten tomatoes or something. However, the next thing he knew, the children were clapping their hands enthusiastically and cheering for Anna’s return to Teiallha. They chattered to each other about whether or not all of the stuffed animals had real life counterparts that went on adventures, or why the kitten’s owners chose to name him Bob. The group got into a very detailed conversation about this and Gonosz couldn’t help but shake his head in exasperation.

To his relief, Ms. Stone walked back in along with three more orphans, who were red in the face. The caretaker stared at the kids gathered around Gonosz, while he smiled in relief and got up.

“Glad you found them,” he said, trying to slip out of the room. “I guess I’ll be going now.”

“Bye, Taylor!” exclaimed one of the children, waving to him.

“Thanks for the story!”

  Gonosz frowned in confusion. He brought up his hand and gave a small wave back as Ms. Stone scolded Ally, Carter and Tina, telling them to go to their room. She closed the door to the room Gonosz had been in a second ago, then faced him.

“Thank you so much for watching them. They seemed to like you,” she said, fishing around in a bag for money to pay him with. Ms. Stone brought out some coins but Gonosz shook his head.

“Don’t bother, it was no problem.”

Ms. Stone hesitated, nodding to him. “Thank you again, Taylor. You know…Something about you is familiar. Have I met you before?”

“I don’t think so,” Gonosz lied, opening the front door. “Goodbye and, ah, good luck with those kids.” Ms. Stone chuckled.

“Goodbye,” she echoed, closing the door for Gonosz once he was outside. He studied the orphanage for a moment, then began heading back to the palace, the mask heavy in his pocket.

(Okay, I enjoyed putting Gonosz in that situation far too much. And the dog story is credibly horrible. Yay.)

Second Book Excerpt! (Untitled)

I’m back from the holidays. Although, I’m still technically on Christmas break…Whatever. As the last day of 2017, I’ll be posting something a little more special, translation: another book excerpt.

This one is also set in a fantasy world of sorts. It’s one that merges medieval times with technology best described as, well, 1912 Cadillac’s, the first models of phones, and older cameras. I’m sure there’s a name for that but at the moment I don’t know what that is so I’ll stick with fantasy world with semi-modern perks. (And I wouldn’t call it steampunk, either.)

The plot centers around this man who works for the four emperors and empresses who long ago took over the six kingdoms of that country, and it follows him as he is tasked with interrogating a little boy to find out why he snuck into the palace.

I know that sounds vague and probably a little boring. I’ve enjoyed writing it so far, though, so maybe someone will enjoy reading it. If anyone ever even finds this website. This book is more an exercise for me to practice character arcs and development, which means I don’t expect much from it.

But I’ll just stop talking about it and get on with showing you the first chapter.

The general walked into the center of the room, and was immediately blinded by dozens of lights shining down on him. Listlessly shielding his eyes, the general continued forward until he could look directly at the four thrones looming over him without causing permanent sight damage.

The chamber was crowded that night. The general wondered who could have angered the lords and ladies enough to get such a full house. His eyes settled on the chair directly in front of the thrones, and he had to resist blurting out, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“General Gonosz,” said one of the merciless rulers, ice blue eyes boring into him. The general stood at attention, staring directly above his head like he had hundreds of times before.

“Sir?”

“Have you ever seen this boy before?”

Boy, Gonosz thought. Yes, that’s quite fitting. He’s merely a child. Why is the entire kingdom here to see his trial? Surely he wouldn’t try to overthrow the emperors…

The general walked around to look the kid in the eyes. He was dirty and bruised and, frankly, frightened. Frightened for his life. The boy had messy brown hair and green eyes that looked up at him and pleaded with him silently.

Gonosz pulled the wooden mask lower over his face. “No. I’ve never seen him before in my life, my lord.”

He took a moment to observe his superiors. Emperors Tane and Krowl, Empresses Carina and Smyth. He’d known them since they took over the six kingdoms of the country. And the general knew without a doubt that they wouldn’t hesitate to sentence this kid, no more than eleven, to death even if he’d done something as small as steal a raisin.

Gonosz shouldn’t care, though. The only person you can look out for is yourself.

“Permission to speak?” he called up. When the four nodded, the general continued. “What did he do, exactly?”

You haven’t heard, General?” Smyth asked patronizingly.

“You hadn’t either, until about four minutes ago,” muttered Carina. Before Smyth could retort, she addressed Gonosz and completely ignored her fellow empress. “He broke into the palace. We found him wandering around the halls at night.”

The little boy opened his mouth but the glare he received from the intimidating men and women in front of him made him keep quiet. He bent his head and tried to keep from crying. When Gonosz looked up at the crowd sitting in rows of seats, he saw several eyes fill with pity. They also knew what was to come. He wondered idly if the child’s parents were up there.

“-begin the trial,” Krowl was saying. Gonosz snapped back to reality, not even realizing he had zoned out. He better pay attention if he didn’t want to suffer whatever fate the boy would be given aswell.

“I suppose I should ask,” Tane said, his blue eyes still unnerving. “What’s your name, boy?”

“I…People call me Cowen.”

“Last name?”

“I’m an orphan,” Cowen informed him in a scared whisper. “No one knows my last name.”

“I see.” Tane nodded his head slightly to Gonosz. The general’s face twisted grotesquely underneath the mask as he walked to a table and picked up a deadly sharp knife. He really wished they would find someone else to be the torturer, he had enough work to do as it was.

Gonosz approached the child, letting the blade catch the light. He walked closer and closer until he was crouching before him, face to covered face. Cowen very quickly found a knife placed at his throat.

“Last name?” the general asked, repeating for the emperor. Again, Cowen pinned him under his pleading, deep green eyes.

“I don’t have one. Please, General, it’s the truth.”

Gonosz dug the blade in further. “Are you sure?” he said softly. “I could slit your throat right now.”

“I am telling the truth.” Cowen’s eyes darted to the people seated around them. “Ask my caretaker at the orphanage. She’ll tell you the same thing!” Gonosz looked back at the two lords and two ladies, who nodded in unison.

“Very well,” Smyth rasped. “Whoever takes care of this brat, stand up.”

A short woman shot up from her seat, twisting the fabric of her dress between her hands fearfully. Gonosz knew that fear well. He saw it almost every day on the face of anyone unfortunate enough to cross the rulers’ paths…Like Cowen.

“Do you know the child?” demanded Krowl.

The woman gulped. “Yes, m-my lord. He’s been with us s-since he was a babe.”

“No last name?”

“Nosir.”

Krowl stared at the woman for a very long time before giving in. “Very well. And were you aware of his sneaking off?”

“Nosir,” the woman peeped. Krowl sighed.

“Fine, fine.” He turned to Cowen. “Now, what were you doing here last night, boy? Are you working with the rebellion?” Cowen looked down at the knife still holding him and shook his head.

“No.”

“Are you sure?” asked Carina.

“Yes.”

“Then I’ll say it again,” hissed Krowl. “What were you doing here last night?”

Cowen’s mouth snapped shut. He wouldn’t utter another word. Gonosz slightly pushed the blade of the knife further, never enough to draw blood, but this only seemed to make Cowen freeze up more.

“If you don’t start talking-” the general began.

“I can’t tell you,” Cowen said finally. Gonosz gripped the handle of the knife tighter and looked back at the four again, waiting for what they would do. If the person wouldn’t give information, it was naturally assumed that they were guilty so they were sentenced to death. His superiors muttered amongst themselves as the chamber held its breath. Finally, Tane leaned forward in his throne and addressed Cowen.

“In that case, you are to be thrown into the dungeon for as long as we see fit.” There was a gasp of relief, met by warning expressions from the emperors and empresses. “General Gonosz? A word?”

The general pulled away the knife and left Cowen tied to the chair, walking up to his superiors. Gonosz couldn’t quite make out their expressions, however he did have a feeling that they couldn’t be too happy about these turn of events. Then again, they hadn’t cared when Gonosz didn’t torture the child too much and they’d simply said he’d be locked away. Obviously they had plans for Cowen.

“You are to take him to the most secure cell and interrogate him daily to see if you can find out anything more,” Carina ordered. “We think he may be a spy for the rebellion.”

“Him, milady?” Gonosz couldn’t help but notice Cowen struggling to get out of the chair, and instead making it topple over and land on its side. “With all due respect, he doesn’t quite seem like rebel type to me. And they wouldn’t send in a kid of his age to do their dirty work.”

“Precisely. You can’t trust anyone, General,” said Smyth.

Tane must have sensed his frown through the mask, because he added, “Gonosz, no questioning anyone besides this Cowen. You will interrogate him daily. Understood?”

“Yes, sir. Understood.”

The next time Cowen looked up from his nearness to the floor, he saw General Gonosz towering over him, arms crossed. The general lifted the seat back up, undid the bonds, and held the boy at gunpoint.

“This way,” he said gruffly, leading him out of the chamber. Cowen’s eyes returned to staring at the ground and they made their way through the palace.

They walked down the old halls, made of crumbling stone and ancient tapestries from each of the kingdoms. The two went down several levels from the chamber until they reached the dungeons. The rulers had many people in their cells, even for the most trivial things, and each of them began to jeer when they saw Gonosz and Cowen.

“He’s a kid!”

“Gonosz, if I ever get out of here…”

“My family is starving because of you!”

“You son of a-”

Gonosz turned sharply to the prisoners. “We don’t want to expose any rude language to the child, now do we?” he spat. Everyone in the dungeons decided on glaring at him fiercely, which was much easier to ignore.

The general strode to the very back of the hall of cells and turned a key in the door there. It swung open to reveal a soundproof, ultra secure holding area with nothing but a stone bed. Without a word, Gonosz pushed Cowen into the cell, and began closing the door again.

“Wait,” Cowen said desperately. “Don’t I get a phone call?” The general paused, looking up at him. Was that a legitimate question?

“No. Who would you even call?”

“I…” Cowen trailed off, biting his lip. “I don’t know.”

“Well, I’ll see you tomorrow.” Before Cowen could say anything else, the general closed the door and relocked the lock. He felt relief wash over him and for the first time he realized that Cowen’s presence had been bugging him. Gonosz shook it off, leaving the dungeons at such speed that he didn’t have to endure the prisoners’ stupid shouting.

The general approached his room, only a level above the cells. Two guards stood at the door, wearing the same wooden warrior masks as Gonosz. Not for his protection; it was so that he didn’t try anything the emperors and empresses wouldn’t approve of. Gonosz was a general simply because they found him useful, not because he was trusted.

“You’re losing your touch, General,” commented one of the guards. No doubt he’s grinning that ridiculous grin under the mask, Gonosz thought. “Couldn’t even make a pip-squeak talk?”

“Watch it, Lake,” he snapped.

“What are you going to do? Go crying to those loons that you’re being teased?” asked the other guard.

“No, I’ll go and inform them that you were disrespecting your commanding officer and that you consider our rulers ‘lunatics’.”

Both guards froze up and Gonosz smirked, moving past them into his room. It wasn’t much but it wasn’t nothing, so it was…something. And something was more than the general could ask for. Gonosz pulled off the mask and avoided his reflection in the bathroom mirror as he washed his face.

Or, he tried to. When he looked up he saw his own sharp green eyes staring right back at him.

(For something I just needed to copy and paste this post took quite a long time. I need to go have a nap and satisfy my teenage sleeping patterns.)