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 Post subject: Re: The Heart of The Mountain
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 6:05 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:46 pm
Posts: 1314
Most of the Court had concluded dinner before The Mountain and guards approached the kitchen. The staff was happy to see them as there was food left over and they knew how the three men could eat. They sat in a corner of the hall and enjoyed the meal. People would move through occasionally but paid them little attention. It had been a long day and the three weren’t as boisterous as they had been at lunch. Still, that didn’t prevent them from having a good time. Swapping stories became a competition, and the stories each man told grew in magnificence as they made sure to top each other. They weren’t about their own exploits, but about those they’d come across allowing them to embellish at will. High windows let in the evening air which mixed the smells of dinner and scented candles in the hall.

As the meal started winding down, The Mountain considered the two men who sat with him. “Can I ask you two a question?”

Firuz and Parviz nodded.

“Why do the two of you go everywhere I do?” he asked curiously.

Firuz looked at Parviz who shrugged, so Firuz answered. “You are a guest within these halls and so we serve as guides to help you get to where you want to go or help you find someone you seek. There are two of us so if you need to send a message, one of us can do that while the other serves as your guide.”

The Mountain nodded, though looked puzzled. “Why do you leave during my talks then?”

“To grant you your privacy. We are never far. The only time we’ve been separated was when you were with Vashti and it was clear you were in good hands.”

“You can take messages for me though? How does that work? I have four messages I would like to send.”

The two guards looked puzzled. “Four?”

The Mountain nodded once emphatically.

“How long are the messages and do you want them written down?” Firuz asked.

“Not too long I don’t think,” The Mountain said after thinking for a moment. “You can tell me if they’re too long. Ok? First, I want to send a message to Shirin. I challenge her to spar in the Arena tomorrow morning and then to breakfast to talk. Is that too long?”

Firuz and Parviz shook their heads.

“She wanted to fight today, but I wasn’t ready. I told her tomorrow so that should be fine. Next, I want to ask Vashti to meet late morning to talk and have lunch. That should be ok. She said we had more talking to do. Can you see then if Ruana will meet me after lunch for the afternoon? Oh! And one more to Arya. Can you ask her if she can have dinner with me?” His voice lacked self-consciousness and confidence, rather it had a note of curiosity.

The two nodded, understanding what was being asked.

“Most people who would send messages would make them sound nicer, wouldn’t they?” he said, though more as a statement than a question.

Parviz spoke, “Many are the honeyed words you hear within the walls of the Palace of the Golden Court. There are proper ways to do things,” he raised his hands in placation as The Mountain started looking worried, “but I believe your simple messages will be appreciated.”

“Oh! I need my armor and weapons for the morning. How do I get them? Do I just go and get them?” He started to rise as the thought occurred to him.

Firuz shook his head. “Tell us where your belongings are and we’ll send a servant to recover them for you.”

“You’re nice. Thank you,” and he provided the address where he had been staying.

“You are quite welcome, The Mountain.” Firuz grinned. “You are certainly different than the people who normally come to Court.”

The Mountain nodded sagely. “Most aren’t as tall.”

Parviz laughed. “Well, there is that.”

They finished the last of their dinner and the kitchen staff brought out fruit and various sweet rolls starting another course through which the men chatted about what it was like at the Golden Court. Finally their meal complete, they stood. Parviz waved over a servant and passed along instructions to have The Mountain’s belongings brought to a room here at The Palace and then the servant ran off.

“Can I go to the gardens while you take my messages? It’s a nice place to walk.”

“That’s fine. Do you want us to wait for responses?” Firuz inquired as they began walking towards the gardens.

“Uhhh…yes. That sounds good,” and The Mountain smiled at the thought.

The servant Parviz sent caught up to them as they reached the gardens. “It has already been done,” and told them which room The Mountain would be staying in. Then he offered his respects and departed.

“Would you rather go to your room instead?”

The Mountain considered and shook his head. “I want to go to the gardens and then can head back to my room after.”

“As you wish,” and with that the three parted ways.

To be continued…


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 Post subject: Re: The Heart of The Mountain
PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 2:17 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:46 pm
Posts: 1314
The sun was low in the sky, but still above the horizon leaving the central garden shaded. Looking up the sky was clear, but the blue was darkening and the shadows in the garden grew deeper. Apperio would be waxing half and Virdis would be in the second quarter. Both moons would be prominent that evening. The garden was in bright bloom as it was getting to be late in the month of the Lady, also known as Libidine. The light breeze carried various scents and The Mountain breathed deeply. He walked the paths, paying little attention to where he was going, lost in his own thoughts.

As he rounded a bend he was surprised to discover an equally surprised Roshni walking down the path from the other direction. She had changed since he had seen her last. Her white and gold clothes were more elegant rather than designed to accentuate her beauty. Her hair which had been carefully arranged prior was down and pulled back, held by a simple golden pin. He stopped apparently unsure on how to proceed and she did likewise.

Roshni looked up at him with sad eyes, “The Mountain! I didn’t expect… I thought I’d be alone in the gardens.”

“If that is what you wish…”

“Wait! Please! Let me at least apologize and explain,” she begged.

The Mountain’s inner turmoil surfaced briefly on his face before he schooled it. He closed his eyes, took a breath and released it slowly. When done he looked down and considered her. After a minute or two he acquiesced. “Very well.”

Looking down the path ahead of him, he spotted a few benches and pointed. They walked the short distance in silence, Roshni leading. As they arrived The Mountain gestured to one of the benches. Roshni sat and The Mountain sat at one across from her. Once settled, she began.

“I’m sorry. You were right. I didn’t take the time to look at what was in front of me. I had done my research and was very interested in making a good impression,” her voice was steady and sincere, not seeking to diminish anything in admitting the truth. “I was excited to meet you and really wanted things to work. I knew there were others and didn’t want to miss this chance, especially as it might be my last,” she added with the final phrase spoken quietly. The Mountain listened and remained quiet.

“Since I was little, I have always been one of Nasha’s favorites. While I am not one of her daughters, she has always seemed to treat me as such. As you might guess, my beauty is considered a prize by many,” she voiced in a tone tinted with regret, “and I have long known I was destined for an arranged marriage. Nasha has kept me from several marriages I would have hated.”

Roshni rose and paced, stirred by irritation. “The Tomal Khan grows weary of the suitors and is tired of excuses why this marriage or that won’t work. In an effort to placate Khan Forso who was displeased with the outcome of the investigation, he is considering marrying me to one of Forso’s sons.” She stopped pacing and stared at The Mountain. “I despise Forso and have yet to meet one of his brood that is any better than their sire!” Her sharp tone softened and she smiled just a little. “And then Nasha comes to me, speaking of a man who’d be kind, who I could grow to love and it was as if Larissa was finally smiling on me. To be able to escape a marriage I would detest to finally find one I could revel in…”

“So I was just a way out?” The Mountain probed.

“No! Yes you would be a way out, but not just!” Roshni sighed and dropped his gaze, staring at her feet. “I have heard the stories of your deeds, your gentleness and your strength at arms. I… I took a chance that I could stand apart from the others, be more memorable and win you quickly. It was a bad gamble and one that reflects Larissa’s fickleness.”

She stood there dejected as the silence stretched. Eventually she continued. “I know there is more to you than others see. I have some ideas about what that is and would like another chance to find out. Maybe tomorrow…”

The Mountain shook his head. “I am busy all day tomorrow.”

Roshni looked up at him, “Perhaps now then?”

He shook his head sadly. “I need time to think. Earlier you failed. Not everyone has. Not sure there’s time for more than one chance.”

She dropped her gaze. “I understand.”

The Mountain stood and walked next to her, resting a hand gently on her shoulder as he started to pass. “I hope you get a happy marriage.”

“Thank you. And to you as well,” she replied, her voice steady, but barely.

He paused for another moment then removed his hand as he continued past her down the trail. He meandered for a while lost in thought, but then moved for the exit. Whatever appeal the garden had previously was gone. He found a servant and got escorted to his room. It was a small well-appointed suite with a bed large enough for him. The room was on one of the upper floors of the palace on its west side, a balcony accessible from his bedroom. He stepped out and sat down, staring off to the west at the setting sun. Slowly the horizon faded from bright yellow flame to flickering coals and finally to the dark blue of night. The Mountain watched as the stars came out and the moons rose in the sky.

It was a few hours after he had parted ways with Firuz and Parviz, that there was a knock at his door. He called “Enter,” over his shoulder but otherwise remained on the balcony. Shortly after, the two appeared in the doorway. The Mountain gestured for them to come out and they did so. He looked up at them expectantly. They smiled in return.

“Success, The Mountain! Each has agreed to the meeting you requested,” Firuz informed him.

The Mountain smiled. “Good!” and then his smile faded a bit. “Uh, what can you tell me of Roshni?”

The two looked confused at his question. “You have seen her, so you are aware of her beauty,” Parviz began. “She is intelligent, sometimes mischievous and impulsive. I believe she’s one of the Dorai’s favorites. She’s an excellent tutor as I understand it. She is heavily courted both directly and with the Tomal Khan. I’m surprised she’s not yet wed.”

“Is she a follower of Larissa?”

The question seems to take them by surprise. Parviz looks at Firuz who shakes his head. “Not that I’ve heard or seen.”

“Ok.”

After a short period of silence Firuz spoke. “When should we get you in the morning?”

“Sunrise? I want to have time to prepare for sparring with Shirin.”

As The Mountain talked of Shirin he sounded happier than with the questions.

Firuz smiled. “As you wish. Do you need us anymore this evening?”

The Mountain stood up and shook his head. “I’m tired. I’m going to sleep. Thank you for your help today,” he added very seriously.

“You are quite welcome, The Mountain. Until tomorrow,” and the two of them left.

He remained standing for a time, staring up at the clear night sky, then sighed and entering the room, retired for the night.

To be continued…


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 Post subject: Re: The Heart of The Mountain
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 12:57 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:46 pm
Posts: 1314
A knock at the door roused The Mountain from his slumber. Light from the rising sun was only starting to brighten the room as he headed out into the main room of the suite and answered the door. Outside Firuz and Parviz awaited fresh and ready. “Good morning, The Mountain,” Firuz greeted him.

The Moutain grinned and then stifled a yawn. “Good morning, Firuz, Parviz! The sun is out! It should be a good day!” he added excitedly. “I need just a few minutes to get ready.”

“As you wish. We’ll wait for you here,” Firuz said and closed the door.

Inside The Mountain put on his armor, finding it had been cleaned and polished in his absence. His trident also had been polished and looked impressive. As he got himself ready he ate a quick breakfast and made sure he looked his best for the arena. Once he was certain that everything was in place including his champion’s chain he stepped out into the hall. As usual Firuz took point and Parviz followed behind The Mountain as they set off.

“Word of your fight with Shirin has spread,” Firuz commented as they exited the Palace and headed for the arena.

“Oh? Ok.” The three walked a bit further before The Mountain asked, “Does that mean there’s going to be an audience?”

Firuz laughed. “Indeed!”

The Mountain smiled. “Great! I love a good audience!”

They picked up the pace to a jog, allowing the three to warm up in the crisp morning air. They passed others who seemed headed for the arena who waved or cheered as the three passed. Firuz led him in through the long tunnel the gladiators entered by. As they got close, Firuz fell back, letting The Mountain lead the way. Feeling comfortable in his surroundings, The Mountain strode boldly down the rest of the tunnel and out onto the grounds of the arena.

Upon the arena floor were a couple of dozen other fighters warming up, practicing or fighting. Among them Shirin went through forms with her scimitar, a large shield strapped to her other arm. She wore Sicarite studded leather of exceptionally fine make. While well taken care of, it was clear it had seen many a fight before. Within the stands nearby were a couple hundred people already seated and watching the various bouts. Amongst the crowd were the distinctive white and gold of the Maghir, numbering at least a few dozen. As The Mountain scanned the crowds he noticed Arya, Vashti and Roshni chatting in a nearby balcony with a few others. Not far away from that group Ruana sat with a few others talking amiably. Ruana was quite animated, but it was impossible to determine what she was talking about given the distance and noise.

As The Mountain took in the crowd he thrust his trident into the air and in a commanding voice called, “I am…The Mountain. I have challenged Shirin of the Maghir to spar this day!” and he stared at the woman that would be his opponent. As his challenge rang out, a cheer went up among the crowd and even from among some of the other combatants.

Not to be outdone, Shirin slapped her scimitar against her shield ringing out a call of her own. As the noise of the crowd died down she answered The Mountain’s challenge. “I am Shirin of the Maghir. I accept The Mountain’s challenge!” The other combatants on the arena grounds withdrew to form a good sized circle near the stands where the crowd had gathered. Movement caught The Mountain’s eye and he noticed Firuz and Parviz shaking, most likely on a bet for the fight.

The Mountain and Shirin approached one another and once close, saluted. Shirin immediately dropped into a fighting stance, shield raised. He in turn kept his trident between the two of them. Shirin darted in and faded, moving quickly starting to probe his defenses and get a sense of his style. The Mountain simply turned to follow her movements, the advantage of reach on his side, especially with the longer weapon. As she continued to prod attempting to get him to bite at one of her feints it became clear just how fast she was. Nimble on her feet, precise in her movements and very aware of how far out he could threaten her with his weapon, Shirin demonstrated the depth of her training.

For his part, The Mountain lived up to his name, moving little and appearing stoic. As things started falling into a routine Shirin broke from her pattern, lunged forward shield high and went for his legs. As she started her lunge, he dove over her line of attack, rolled to his feet and struck at her back with a quick strike. His trident struck her shield as she twisted around each spinning to face the other. She smiled and nodded her appreciation for his actions and he grinned in return.

The sparring began in earnest now that the two were engaged with Shirin proving to be even faster of foot and of hand than she had shown, and The Mountain amazingly agile for such a large man. He seemed content to roll, twist and flip out of the way of her attacks, much to the entertainment of the crowd. His own strikes were precise, but she was rarely still there when they landed except perhaps with her shield. Minutes passed without either managing to land a clear blow. As The Mountain recovered from a high strike, Shirin found her opening and darted in. The Mountain’s trident intercepted, catching her blade between the prongs of his weapon and then he twisted it to grab the blade between the prongs. So unexpected was the maneuver that he was able to muscle the weapon out of her hand ending the current bout. The crowd roared their appreciation of a good fight.

The Mountain reached down, picked up her scimitar and handed it back to Shirin as she approached. “Well fought!” Shirin stated as she graciously accepted her weapon back.

“Thanks! You fought very well. It was a tough fight!” The Mountain returned, and she nodded accepting the compliment.

“How did you trap my blade with your trident? I’ve never seen it done before. Was this a gift from Larissa, or is this something you’ve learned?” Shirin inquired.

“Well, it’s something I’ve been working on. It’s hard,” The Mountain admitted. “If I keep working at it though, I can make it work. It’s a good trick!”

Shirin smiled. “It is indeed! Not something people will expect. Another bout?”

The Mountain smiled broadly. “Yes! This is fun!”

She laughed and returned to an appropriate starting distance. Both saluted and began their second bout. Shirin won that one and as they continued sparring they traded wins more often than not. After an hour of sparring The Mountain had gained only a single victory more than Shirin had. They were fairly evenly matched, his reach and strength balanced by her speed and nimbleness.

As they drank water to recover from the latest bout, The Mountain’s stomach rumbled much to Shirin’s amusement.

“Breakfast?” he inquired.

“That would be nice, yes.”

The two walked over to where Firuz and Parviz were chatting. As they approached Firuz addressed them, “You’re done? How about another bout? Seems unfair to not give Shirin a chance to even things up.”

“Firuz! You lost! Be gracious and accept it,” Parviz called with mock scorn before offering a wink to Shirin.

Shirin and The Mountain laughed, and the four headed out. The crowd milled in the stands, many moving for better views of other fights when it was clear this one wasn’t continuing. The trek back to the Palace was uneventful with the two combatants dissecting their sparring and offering critiques and compliments. Both were sweaty from the intense workout, though neither seemed to notice. As they arrived at the Palace, Firuz led them to a room where breakfast awaited them. After saluting both he closed the door, leaving them to their meal.

The two sat and dug into the various fruits, meats and other offerings. The first few minutes passed in silence until both had had enough to slow to a more sedate pace.

“You are really good!” The Mountain shared with exuberance and without a sense of surprise.

“Thank you.”

“What do you like to do when you’re not practicing?”

“Poetry for one – both reading and composing. I enjoy learning more about strategy and tactics and about various medicines. I’ve learned a lot about plants and their uses. It started out as wanting to know more about treating wounds and has grown from there. I spend time traveling through the Blessed Lands and am as familiar as most with its wonders and hazards. I’ve toyed with the idea of joining the Solider Saints at some point, but not sure that it’s something I want to spend my life doing.”

“What of you? Your understanding of combat and tactics seems more instinctive than trained, but it’s something you excel at. You were able to analyze and adjust to my changes in tactics and anticipate a number of my feints. You also didn’t tend to fall for the same trick more than once.”

He smiled. “I like to travel. And to help people.”

“Where have you been?”

“All over!” and he began a litancy of places ranging through most of the nearby nations. She asked questions about his travels, teasing out details from his memory of the people and occasionally the plants he had seen. He wound down a story of his travels into the Haina Empire and she looked at him curiously. “You have an excellent memory for details,” she noted.

The Mountain shrugged. “Good stories mean telling the good details,” he replied. “You mentioned liking poetry. Can you share some?”

Shirin nodded and considered for a moment before beginning.

“The earth reached up to the sky,
and atop the massive rock
lay the shattered remains of hopes and dreams
of far too many to count.

Storm clouds hung low
yet these were merely the ones from any plain,
less forboding than many
that had harried their crossing.

And so they ascended,
carrying their own dreams through the switchbacks,
and up to the broken gateway
of the faded past.

The once grand city
lay in ruins and neglect that whispered
of dreams not lost,
but sleeping.

In the once grand palace
the Throne of Man waits,
waits for the coming
of an Imperium reborn.

Through times
of nightmares and dreams
one thing is certain -
all must be ready.

For when the next Imperator rises
the long watch will be over,
the reins of duty
passed on.

Dream well and take heed –
nothing will be the same
when the Second Imperium
rises.”

Shirin concluded her poem, looking reflective.

“That was nice. It’s hard when you don’t know if you want to wake up from your dream, isn’t it?” he inquired.

She nodded. “Uncertainty is a part of life. The Maghir have awaited the rise of the next Imperium for long years. The Tomal Khan sees himself as a steward. What kind of life will it be once there is a new master in the house? Be careful what longings you offer to Larissa, there are many you may come to regret.”

The Mountain nodded. “You wrote it, didn’t you?”

Shirin smiled. “Yes.”

“Can you tell me more?”

At The Mountain’s request, Shirin shared more poems both of her own writing and that of others she respected. Some of the poems spoke of lands far away from the First City, bringing them back to their discussions of travels.

“Someday I will travel more,” she mused.

“Why not go now?”

Shirin shrugged. “My life is here.”

The Mountain nodded in understanding. Not long afterwards The Mountain stood and smiled at Shirin. “Thank you for the sparring and for breakfast. It was fun!” he noted.

“You’re welcome,” she replied also standing. He offered her a heartfelt salute and departed.

“To Vashti?” Firuz inquired once the door was shut and they had moved down the hall.

The Mountain shook his head. “To the bath. I need to clean up. Too much dirt and dust,” he added earnestly eliciting a quiet chuckle.

“Oh! And can you tell me what I’m supposed to do when I greet people? I don’t know the right words or gestures.”

“As you wish, The Mountain,” and off they went.

To be continued…


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 Post subject: Re: The Heart of The Mountain
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:32 pm 
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Nice poem. Is that a 'Henry' repeat or an original?

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 Post subject: Re: The Heart of The Mountain
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:49 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:46 pm
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Southernskies wrote:
Nice poem. Is that a 'Henry' repeat or an original?


Thanks. It's an original.

With a sweep of his hat,

Paul


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 Post subject: Re: The Heart of The Mountain
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:50 pm 

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The Mountain was brought to a sitting room with windows looking out upon the central gardens. Near the windows was a table and chairs, large enough for a comfortable lunch. The room was brightly lit with the sun high in the sky and large swaths of the room brilliant in the warm morning light. The room was unoccupied when he arrived though Firuz assured him she would be along shortly. Rather than sit he stood near one of the tall windows and admired the gardens. Many members of the Golden Court were out and enjoying walks through its beauty.

It was not a long wait before there was a knock and the door opened admitting Vashti to his presence. She looked as lovely as the day before, though was not dressed in her own leather handiwork. Each smiled upon seeing the other and they closed the distance between them. As they neared he offered the appropriate gestures of respect, only slightly awkward from lack of practice. The intent seemed more important to her than the lack of grace with it and she responded with her own respectful greeting.

She gestured to a large couch easily able to accommodate both of them, then took a seat across from him instead.

“You looked impressive this morning in your sparring with Shirin. Most who take her on underestimate her. You didn’t. Well done.”

“Thanks!”

“When last we parted I mentioned we had unfinished business. I’m glad we have an opportunity to discuss it further. As I mentioned, I have a business making saddles and other tack for horses. Someday I hope to expand and take on my father’s horse trading business. He has a magnificent herd and wants to ensure they’re well treated. While I am the eldest, he is concerned that there are some who might seek to take advantage of me or treat me unfairly because I’m a woman not a man. That or not deal with me at all. I have attempted to prove my worth by mastering my craft and my business, yet he still sees me as insufficient for the task on my own,” she paused to gauge The Mountain’s reaction.

The Mountain for his part looked confused. “Why? You are skilled. I expect you do a good job as a merchant. Isn’t that enough? What more does he want?”

Vashti considered for a moment, leaving the questions hanging. “Why a son-in-law of course. A man who can command the respect of the tribes and keep the customers honest. A man smart enough to ensure that his eldest daughter remains happy and the herd which has been passed down for generations continues to grow and prosper. If he got to really know you, I believe you could very well be exactly what he’s hoping for.”

The Mountain frowned slightly. “And what of you?”

Vashti laughed, “Have no fear. You are a man that would be easy to love. You are gentle by nature, though fierce when the need calls. You have a heroic spirit and have done many impressive deeds. You are well known with a good reputation, easy to get along with and one not afraid to speak his mind. And you are far more intelligent than virtually anyone gives you credit for,” she spoke the last in quiet challenge. Silence dragged on for moments as The Mountain’s opportunity to protest profusely came and went. He considered his next words carefully.

“If I am all that you say I am, it still feels like you have doubts. What remains?”

She smiled and nodded. “Very astute,” Vashti noted, apparently taking his comments as further confirmation of the correctness of her assessment. “The persona you present is too familiar, too practiced to be something made recently. And the stories I have heard of and from you are consistent with who you present yourself to be. This disguise isn’t something taken lightly nor shed lightly I expect. Herein lies the great mystery – why?”

Vashti stared at him intently as if trying to see into his soul. “Your apparent lack of intelligence will not have made much if anything easier for you. You have not gained by pretending to be dumb. You would in fact have gained greater honors, a command or any number of offers for a man as smart as I believe you to be. So why this?” and she gestured to him. “Why hobble yourself from achieving the greatness that you are completely capable of? What is it you so fear?” she implored him.

The Mountain’s face reflected his inner turmoil. She waited patiently for him to find his voice and offered a small smile in encouragement. As he continued to struggle she moved over and sat next to him. She rested her hand on his and looked up into his eyes. “I am looking for someone to spend my life with. To help with my family’s business and to eventually pass it down to the next generation,” her words were earnest.

Eventually he found his voice. “Does it matter right now why?”

She considered. “Will you allow yourself to show more of who you truly are, not just to me or my father, but to the world? I need someone my father can accept both in public and in private. Can you be that person?” Her hopes and concerns showed clearly.

The Mountain closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them. In a quiet, slightly scared voice he offered, “I don’t know.”

Vashti sighed and dropped her gaze. She stayed that way for a minute apparently considering. When she looked back up she smiled, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes and her voice wasn’t as raw as it had been just a couple minutes before. “Thank you for being honest. It is not what I hoped to hear, but I understand.” She sighed, stood and regarded him. “If you change your mind and you can be that person, I would be honored to be your wife. If not, I have worked too hard for too long following my dream to lose it now. If you have a say, please don’t take that from me.”

He nodded solemnly.

She smiled knowing he meant it. “I will keep your secret, though I don’t understand it. I won’t underestimate you though,” she waggled a finger at him her smile warming slightly. He offered a faint smile in return as well.

“Now if you will excuse me, I’ll be off. I suspect you have other people to meet.” With a slight bow she excused herself and left, leaving The Mountain to his thoughts. Before he could ponder much Firuz knocked and then entered, carrying an ornate scroll. The Mountain looked at Firuz and the scroll perplexed.

“I apologize for this intrusion, but this seemed a reasonable time given Vashti’s departure. I am here to deliver a gift,” and he presented the scroll to The Mountain.

“What is it? It has lots of funny squiggles, doesn’t it?”

Firuz nodded. “The scroll contains names and descriptions of every champion and runner up for the last 10 years within the Varria Arena. It details their fighting styles, weapon choices and other accolades and honors earned up to the time of their fight.” Firuz unrolled the scroll showing detailed descriptions, small drawings of each of the individuals including The Mountain and his victory over the Agamassi.

“There are a few pictures, but it’s mostly squiggles. What am I supposed to do with it? Who’s it from?”

“It is from Roshni, as to what to do with it, that’s up to you.”

The Mountain frowned. “I can’t read. Please take it back.”

Firuz should his head. “I’m afraid I can’t. Roshni was quite insistent that you accept the gift, saying she would not take it back.”

“What should I do with it?”

Firuz shrugged. “Keep it for now and perhaps later find someone who can read it to you. Works such as these provide good insights into the champions and how to beat them. I expect you will find it of keen interest.”

“Can you read me an entry?”

“Certainly. It’s written in low Coryani, so finding someone to read it to you should be easy,” and with that he went on to read the most recent entries of the victor’s from six months before. The descriptions of their fighting styles and preferences were well written and provided good insights into how the victor had beaten the challenger. The Mountain nodded at different points at the insights made. Unrolling the scroll further showed ample room for many years worth of additional champions.

“Quite a nice gift,” The Mountain admitted.

“Yes.”

Apparently having already lost the battle, The Mountain nodded. “Ok. Can you take it back to my room please?”

“Certainly.”

“Thanks.”

After sitting and staring out the window at the garden for a while, he got up and gathered things to eat. He ate in silence sitting by the window. As he ate and watched a few people he had seen before wandered by. Towards the end of the meal he spotted Arya walking with another woman deeper in. It wasn’t long before he lost sight of them as they turned a bend and wandered away. Having concluded his meal he rose and headed out the door he entered, discovering Firuz and Parviz there and waiting.

“So where to now?” he asked them.

“The main entry hall. Ruana has asked to meet you there.”

The Mountain nodded and fell in behind Firuz, any uncertainty he felt replaced with confidence despite the most recent turn of events. The three headed down to his next appointment.

To be continued…


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 Post subject: Re: The Heart of The Mountain
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:45 pm 

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Quick question: is the pacing ok, or too slow? I'm trying to determine if I should boil things down more or if the amount of prose is fine.

With a sweep of his hat,

Paul


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 Post subject: Re: The Heart of The Mountain
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:08 pm 
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I'm pretty much happy with the way things are spinning out. I'd say keep the pace as is. You want to give your characters a chance to tell their stories. And I find all the characters interesting. It might be fun to see more of your chaperones Firuz and Parviz. All of the women are well done, each one unique. I haven't decided which one I like the most yet. As for the Mountain bravo on a cool character concept Paul.

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 Post subject: Re: The Heart of The Mountain
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:39 pm 
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Changes in pacing are fine, as long as its not pages of unnecessary exposition or sudden changes in direction.

Writing Excuses ( www.writingexcuses.com ) covers a lot of this in a 15 min podcast. Lots of good stuff from professional writers (with industry guests for specialty things).

First season advice (Ep 2 or 3 from memory) to potential professionals was "throw out your first million words before submitting a manuscript".

As long as you enjoy writing it and we enjoy reading it, all good!

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 Post subject: Re: The Heart of The Mountain
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2016 9:18 pm 

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Mike, I'll think about how I can get Firuz and Parviz a bit more screen time. Not sure if I can work them in more next scene or not.

@SouthernSkies Glad you're enjoying it. I'll take a look at the resources you mentioned at some point. If you do think of any other constructive criticism, always happy to take it.

With a sweep of his hat,

Paul


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