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Stan the Barbarian: Robbery Scene (Part 2)

By J Q Kaiser · May 28, 2018 ·
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  1. (Note: I am including the introduction I posted in the forum's here to set up this excerpt. The part of chapter 2 I am asking to be critiqued is attached as a file as it exceed the character count. It is roughly 15k characters

    This is from the second chapter of my Sword & Sorcery/Epic Fantasy parody novel, Stan the Barbarian: Tales of the Absurd. The book follows a slightly-out-of-shape barbarian named Stan who enjoys completing crossword puzzles and daydreams of becoming an accountant. Of course, the fantasy world he lives in is filled with all the usual nefarious characters, rogues, and evil wizards/monsters that make such a life difficult for a barbarian. When I get on my high horse about theme the book really is about how often the world forces us to be something we are not just because it makes others more comfortable. Stan's journey is one of learning to be comfortable in his own skin, and all the obstacles that entails.

    I have a scene posted in the portfolio section where I want to accent the dialect of two characters. It is important because it plays into the humor of the scene. They are thieves and speak with a dialect that makes them sound uneducated but within the context of the robbery there is a discussion between them and the hero (and a few other secondary characters) about free will. I kept the whole scene intact, even though the robbery begins about a quarter of the way in. I made this dialog heavy and so the issue of dialect is important. I know standard writing advice says to keep changes that represent regional dialects to a minimum but here I want a clear emphasis on the difference. Would you recommend dropping certain intentional misspellings or abbreviations? Any that work particularly well? Or any other comments about the topic?

    Also, feel free to comment on general flow. And I'm sure typos still remain. I just finished my second read through of the scene and I tend to take a half dozen to really weed out the issues. My subconscious mind loves auto-correcting without informing the other parts of my brain that it is doing so. (You may also notice I've gone with Trial By Balance at the accounting firm's name. I'm still hoping for some good feedback to my forum post on strong accounting puns to work in here.))

    ****
    The secretary gathered her flowers from the floor. "Aren't you going to do anything about this?" She glared at Stan.

    "Not exactly equipped to argue free will. My correspondence courses were in accounting, not philosophy." The barbarian withered under the diminutive elf's glare. "Oh, fine. How about this. What caused you two to enter here."

    "We never learned ta read." Berty said.

    "Poverty?"

    "No."

    "Learning disability?"

    "No."

    "Some odd religious anti-intellectualism thing?"

    "No."

    "Fine. What then?"

    "No'hing in par'icular" Cyrus held out the empty bag, as if he hoped someone might just drop an item or two inside.

    Stan thought he now had a point to make. "So you're saying there's no cause. Doesn't that undermine..."

    "Oh, no." Berty shook his sword like a wagging finger. "Not at all. Ya see e'en if we don't know, there's a 'orizon of nulledge that separates causes we can know from causes we can't know, ya know?"

    "No." Stan frowned.

    "You're going to clean up this mess, right?" Ms. Waters laid the flowers on her desk.

    "Depends."

    "On what?"

    "Causes."

    "There's work to do around here," the manager said, "so if we could wrap up this robbery that would be great. I'm sure the cleaning staff will take care of the mess Ms. Waters."

    "No need ta rush. We ain't go nowheres else ta be." Cyrus smiled.

    "Yes, but," the manager adjusted his tie, "it was our time I was..."

    "Causes," Berty interupted, "sent us 'ere to rob youz, so it wouldna be right to leave without somethin'. Gods might get angry."

    "Gods now?" Stan said, exasperated.

    "Well, gods is shor'hand for a mul'itude o' complex causal factors we can't explain. 'Orizon of nulledge, remember?"

    "Is you slow?" Cyrus asked.

    "Well, at least I can read." Stan objected.

    "Proves what I tol' ya, Cyrus. Literacy is o'errated."

    "Look, Stan is it?" The bank manager eyed the clock again. "Get rid of these two and I will give you a month as a try out, okay?"

    "Sure I can't take a test or serve as an unpaid intern?"

    "Who said anything about pay?"

    "Fine." Stan looked apologetically at the two men. "Please understand, I am not this sort of person. I'm really not. Just, this is my dream job."

    "It's destiny." The man from the waiting area interrupted.

    "Hogwash." Berty interrupted.

    "No. My Mancers always going on about this. These two robbed the wrong bank today because destiny wants you to have this job. She's shining her fortune on you, big fellow."

    "Jus' a coincidence. No such thing as des'iny. Af'er all, if dis was des'iny then it’s a bad bit o' it. You are unarmed and we are doubly so."

    Stan paused and thought. "If you are doubly so, then you would be unarmed as well."

    "As it stands we 'ave more swords than you 'ave wits." Berty bristled. "And if des'iny were true you'd finds yourself in much betta position. Come on Cyrus." He motioned for the taller man to advance.

    Cyrus ground his teeth and stepped toward the barbarian ready to poke at least a couple dozen new holes in his broad frame. As he drew back one blade for a stab and the other held loft to slice flesh from bone, he screamed and tossed his forward-most sword in the air. Blood flooded the lambskin carpet from white to crimson. Cyrus hopped backward a few steps and plucked triangular shards from his barefoot.

    "Bit o' luck," Berty said, "I'll give you that. Still three to one, tho', too much. Des'iny is damned foolish to leave you those odds."

    "I'm losing quite a bit o' blood, Berty." Cyrus strangled the arch of his foot in a futile attempt to stop the bleeding.

    "You're a big one," Berty said, "plnty o' blood in ya. Now quit it. We'z got face ta save. We earnt nuthin', what's the boys gonna thinks? We can't also leaves without a fight."

    Cyrus shook his head and dropped his foot to the floor. Berty banged his swords together, to excite his wounded cohort. With the third clang came a louder still crash as one of his two swords shattered into hundreds of pieces.

    "Don't even." Berty wagged a finger at Stan. "I know you're tempted, but still, it’s a likely coincidence 'n correlation. Don't go jumpin' to causation."

    "I was just thinking maybe we don't need to do this." Stan said.

    "My bleedin' friend might begs to be different. Blood cryin' out for blood an' all."

    "That was his own fault." The man in the waiting room said.

    "Stay out of this!" Berty glared back and forth from the stranger in the waiting room to the tall barbarian. "You two think des'iny did it. So yous can take the blame. Jus' stay put and we'll take care of you"--he pointed to the slender seated fellow who had just picked up a parchment pamphlet on noteable travel destinations--"after wez take care of 'im."

    Both men circled the desk. Stan stepped back as Berty approached from his right and Cyrus limped toward him from his left. One particular step began with a wince and ended with a lopsided lurch into the desk. An inkwell splashed, a mug of coffee tipped sideways, and the immense, hardbound appointment book toppled off the desk and crashed onto Berty's head. His neck gave a snap and he crumbled into a moderately-sized pile of flesh and bone on the floor.

    "Seems I was right." The man in the waiting room shouted.

    "Not entirely." Stan stared down Cyrus who had regained his footing and lumbered toward him.

    "Just wait. Destiny will handle it. You'll see."

    Stan stood his ground, blinked a bit more than usual, and waited. Cyrus made a long, broad swing with his sword that nearly took of Stan's head. A second before a rather gruesome beheading, Stan ducked and pushed the robber back several steps against the wall.

    "Okay, maybe some things you need to do for yourself."

    Cyrus shook his head and drew back his elbows in a primal scream of rage. The wall shook from sound and the force and loosened a 12-month calendar, which featured an assortment of cats covered in popular armor common in the largest kingdoms. The edges sung through the air until one particular month, Fatuar, represented by a calico cat hunched in chain mail licking his lips under a horned helmet. One peculiarly sharp edge, at the particularly worst (or maybe best, depending on one's perspective) angle, nicked the raging robbers neck. Crimson blood spurted and gushed on the desk and walls as Cyrus flailed about, stumbled, and the collapsed onto the floor.

    "The little fellow was right."

    "About destiny?"

    "Heavens no. There was a lot of blood in him."

    The manager fretted over the stained carpet. "Well, fate or not, you can start in two days."

    "Two?"

    "Yes. We've got to shut down, clean this mess up." The manager turned to the man in the waiting room. "Sorry, Mr. Derwintwater, for the mess. Seeing as you're already here we can still meet. Unless, considering today's...events...you would rather wait?"

    "Better not. The King's business doesn't sleep."

    "Yes. Of course."

    "That big fellow. He has a bright future."

    About Author

    J Q Kaiser
    John Kaiser

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