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You are here: Home --> Forum Home --> Creativity Forum --> Personal Creations --> A Morbid Shopping Trip
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Septimus Sandalwood
Veteran Visitor
Karma: 28/6
196 Posts

A Morbid Shopping Trip

The following post is the best writing I`ve done in a while. I think it tells a lot about my character Septimus. Anyway, just want to know what you think about the character or the style. Cheers.

Posted on 2007-11-06 at 21:34:06.

Septimus Sandalwood
Veteran Visitor
Karma: 28/6
196 Posts

The Greenclaw District

He was going to go shopping.

Not a traditional pursuit for the average male, and certainly not one undertaken with enjoyment, there were certain objects that had to be obtained. As much as he loathed being out in the open, the items he was searching for were very unusual, and not under the jurisdiction of law.

Whilst Zara skipped happily into the desolate and sun-dappled square, followed closely by the more savory members of the group, Septimus was turning his animal unto a deserted section of the town. The smooth cobble-stones of the square switched effortlessly to packed dirt and the houses and establishments that neatly lined the streets gave way to buildings that leaned like crooked teeth, and sordid establishments that marked the corners like the charred bones of some mystical beast of old. There was little to be seen here, here in the infamous Greenclaw district, where businessmen feared to tread. He was well acquainted with its bitter stench of hopelessness, its filthy streets, and no stranger to the tattered souls that hopped, jumped, walked, and crawled within its gutters. This was his whole world, where pigs wandered in the guise of men, and nothing was the way it seemed.

A one-eyed goblin leaned against a brick alleyway, cradling a bottle of liquor in its trembling claws. As Septimus passed, it leered at him from the shadows, its one eye blazing in yellow fury, the vacant socket raw and empty. A gorgeous young woman made her way down the street, her long, pointed tail flicking lazily behind her. Septimus`s dark eyes adjusted to the dim lighting. He marveled at how easily one slipped into one’s old ways. What his party knew of him was that he was a cynical young man, a little more. They knew he was capable of killing, they knew he was protective, but they did not know to what extent his childhood had destroyed him. No. He was not evil, and yes, his heart was basically good. But he had been hurt so many times by the world that little good could come from him.

He tugged gently on the reins, stopping his steed before a depilated building that wavered precariously on its foundations like a drunk. Tying the animal to one of the hitching posts outside, he dismounted and padded into the shop silently. The inside of the shop was dank and dim, curios stacked randomly on its few tables. A mad fruit bat clawed at its perch, wrapping its scabrous wings around itself. A double-headed parrot screeched his arrival. “Betrayer”, squawked the first head loudly. “Murderer”, lamented the other, and Septimus’ eyes burned like the fires of hell.

“Septimus”, an ancient voice wheezed, all at once sounding as if it came from nowhere and everywhere. An unimaginable ancient man sat before the counter. He was small, and crooked, with a face so seamed it hardly looked human. He was totally blind from age, and his eyes were milky and vacant. Suddenly, Septimus dropped to one knee, emotion over coming him. “Master”, he breathed helplessly. “How did you know it was me?” The man smiled. “Two things wrong with that sentence”, he cackled. “The rhythm of your footsteps are inimitable, you walk like the arrogant seaman you are. And secondly, I’m not your master, not anymore”.

Septimus glanced up, puzzled. “You raised me for much of my life. In fact, I owe you my life. You were the only one who would take me in after…” He could not go on. “After you killed your brother”, the old man replied patiently. Septimus nodded dumbly. The man laced his withered hands before him. “Interesting turn of affairs, that. You did something of great evil, at a very young age. Primus was fathers’ favourite. You were the scum of the earth. You were jealous, so you slit his throat while he slept.”

He sighed.

“You were always talented at killing, my boy, even before I met you. Talented at causing harm. And yet you are no murderer”. Septimus blinked away tears. “I was only ten”, he muttered hoarsely. “I didn’t mean…”

“And yet you did it”, the old man cut him off serenely. “You took a life, and when I hired you eighteen years ago as a cabin boy on my ship, I could see that in your eyes. No boy has eyes as old as yours. You are a tortured man, Septimus.”. Septimus wiped his tears away with the back of his hand like a small boy. “I’m just like my brother”, he snarled listlessly. The old man patted his hand. “But you had your chances at killing those who disobeyed you. And yet you did not. You are nothing like Quintus, my son. Your father knew that. And even an ancient man like me knows it. You have a good heart. “. He shook his head. “You will never end up like me or your brother”.

Septimus rose to his feet, his eyes haunted and far away. “I want them back”, he hissed. He turned suddenly and drove his fist into the wall. “I want them back”, he snarled, energy draining out of him after the outburst. Blood ran from his knuckles. He closed his eyes. ‘I must be going mad’, he thought calmly. The old man waited in silence. “I know you want your family back, Septimus, but that is not possible. All you can do know is destroy the man who has enslaved you. Kill Quintus. Set yourself free”.

Septimus’ voice trembled as he spoke. “He took your ship didn’t he? He took your money”. The old man shrugged. “He is an evil man”. He waved his hand casually around his surroundings. “This is my home now”.

Quietly, he rummaged in the drawers of the counter with his searching hands. Finding what he was looking for, he held it out to the pirate with shaking, arthritic fingers. Septimus took it in wonder. It was a thin vial, made of dark, frosted glass. Some clear liquid sloshed inside. Septimus froze, recognising it.The old man winked. “I heard you were out of poison. Very unwise to waste it on that sea rat. This, luckily for you, is a hundred times more potent then what is sold on the black markets. It is the deadliest substance in our world. Use it well, but do not spill it. Unlike your poison, this substance prolongs death. It causes the worse pain a sentient being can undergo. And it is fit for only one person. Your brother”.

Septimus looked at the vial in horror.

"Don`t believe me", the old man inquired. "Bring me that fruit bat over there". Silently, Septimus went over to the perch where the poor thing squeaked and thrashed. He took it in his hand, hating the feel of its smooth, hairy little body, its unbearable warmth, its sharp teeth as it craned its neck, frantic in its need to bite him. Disgusted he threw the beast down on the counter. The old man reached for it, and held the animal down. "Uncork the vial, but do not inhale the fumes", he instructed.

Holding it away from him, Septimus uncorked the vial, and saw a wicked blue steam. He opened the creature`s convulsing mouth and allowed a single drop to touch its tongue. A terrible unearthly shriek filled the air as the wretched creature writhed before his eyes. The substance was burning the hair off its body, its skin blistered and bubbled and the scent of burning meat filled the air. Its wings shriveled and dropped like bits of charred paper, and near the end, in a final act of horror, its eyes popped. With dreadful fasination Septimus watched the death throes of the creature, now entirely wreathed in blue flame. It moved in the flame as its skin contracted, like a fiery dragon from childrens' tales come to life. In a few minutes it stopped moving. In another five minutes the flames were extinguished.

It was only a skeleton.

Without a word, Septimus corked the vial and put it away in the secret compartment of his dagger’s sheath.

He bowed his head. Tears coursed down his visage. “I will kill him for you Glenn Fenris…my father”. The old man smiled toothlessly. “Good boy. I always knew you were a good lad. Keep in mind, he is searching for you, oh yes, he wants you dead badly, and he is waiting for you to make a mistake. He wants to pierce your heart with your own dagger.” Septimus’ eyes flashed dangerously. “He will find it between his own ribs soon enough”. The old man grinned and the double-headed parrot started to scream.

“Murderer”, shrieked the first head. “Betrayer”, cried the second.

And deep in that darkness Septimus started to laugh.


He rode casually over to the fountain at the centre of the market, his features hidden in the hood of his cloak, despite the sun-dappled heat.

His hand caressed the tiny vial that he knew held the future.

A hidden smile touched his lips.

It would be a good day.

Posted on 2007-11-06 at 21:34:54.
Edited on 2007-11-06 at 21:36:03 by Septimus Sandalwood

Karma: 17/24
213 Posts

Nice Attempt

Well, I hope that this expose on a fantasy character does not truly reflect the author:

“Murderer”, lamented the other, and Septimus’ eyes burned like the fires of hell.
You may be looking at a long jail time!

Good attempt, although this is too vague. You describe a georgeous woman ... with a tail? That doesn't make sense to a casual reader such as I. You may want to be specific. "A female Raksasha walked by, georgeous, graceful, womanly to the core and possessing a striped tail ..."

This will let me into the reason why this "woman" has a tail. Other than that, she becomes a freak and not "georgeous"!

Your main character, Septimus, goes through a gamut of emotions within a few paragraphs. He comes through the streets somewhat haughty, then when confronted with the parrot, disconcerted, then when confronted with his master, sad and remorseful, then laughing and smiling what a good day it is.

You may want to keep the same emotional texture throughout the piece, unless the character suffers from insanity! Heh!

I sense this is an excerpt from a longer work, so you may be keeping it to yourself presently why the old "master" no longer likes Septimus. If I was the old man and I wanted my henchman to kill someone for me, I would probably not bring up anything that may cause our relationship to turn sour - unless I want to get rid of the guy.

Anyway, good attempt and - keep writing!

Posted on 2007-11-06 at 22:10:32.
Edited on 2007-11-06 at 22:12:05 by GreyGrey

Karma: 17/24
213 Posts

Anyway -

I hope my critique didn't throw you off. I think you're doing fine with your work. We have a tendency to be proud of what we do, and sometimes when we ask for opinions and we get some comments less than expected, we can be hurt.

I hope that my meager observations weren't hurtful. Everytime I become so proud of my work and think its the hottest stuff to come down the pipeline, I have my agent at WriteHigh tell me: "Umm, Michael, you need to revise and rework this manuscript. I know you think you are the sh**, but you need to exercise a little more focus."

So, yeah, it can be frustrating, Septimus!

Posted on 2007-11-08 at 17:27:24.

RDI Staff
Karma: 357/190
6190 Posts

yeah Septimus

It was quite enjoyable, and from what I read elsewhere on the board you're only 15, well done.

Grey is being quite honest and blunt, which is quite hurtful if you take it as such. Honestly, I think you should be happy grey is critiquing you, he's an amazing writer himself, and having his insight is always good.

My 2 cents.

Posted on 2007-11-10 at 00:14:45.

Septimus Sandalwood
Veteran Visitor
Karma: 28/6
196 Posts

I Must Agree

That’s what I wanted, harsh criticism, because without blunt honest criticism you cannot grow as a writer. I want to give you my thanks for taking the time to read my writing and to critique it, so now I know what I can fix next time!

Thanks for your time!

Posted on 2007-11-10 at 18:25:16.

Karma: 17/24
213 Posts

I love the praise, Gruggy, but ...

... did you read Sept's story?

It's a good thing that Sept is learning the ropes of literature. I wrote my first novel-length manuscript (241 pages) when I was 15. It was typewritten on a Royal electric typewriter and it was about treasure divers in the Bahamans searching for a sunken Spanish galleon. My first and strongest literary inspiration was Peter Benchley!

Anyway, Sept, the arts are a hard bet for a career. You may be talented (or worst yet, may have potential), but the only success to bank on is when you appeal to the masses. As an artist trying to make a living, you will discover that even though *you* like your stuff, many people won't. Many of these people will be gatekeepers as well who have the power to help you get to the next tier, but if they don't share your vision, they easily deep-six you.

Justice or not.

Trying to make a steady paycheck in the arts is trouble. Some people make it easy, most people make it hard. Some artists (talented or no) never make it.

My best advice to you (if you are looking to make an apprenticeship in the literary world) is to read, read, read! And not just stuff within the genre you like to write about. Branch out.

For instance, my reading list this year was the following (I write science-fantasy-occult-horror):

The Nautical Chart by Arturo Reverte-Perez
The Children of Hurin by JRR Tolkien
The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway The Collected Short Stories of Valdimir Nabokov Lolita by Valdimir Nabovkov
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Once Upon a Town by Bob Greene
Selected short works by Joseph Conrad
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Lost Horizon by James Hilton
The Girl of the Sea of Cortez by Peter Benchley

Yes, I read all of them and am currently reading some ghost-hunting stories to help flesh out my character, plus reading/revising my mansucript for my agent to sell.

Do not making reading a chore; reading is excellent. It improves your vocabulary and strengthens your prose and also is usually far more satisfying than watching the movie or playing a video game based on it.

Posted on 2007-11-11 at 16:57:37.

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