Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Talking Heads #3

TITLE: The Minotaur Staff
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Akua was mid-fight in an arena when a flash of light transported her to a strange room, to someone other than her opponent.

Akua pressed her sword into the man's neck. "What magic is this? Are you an illusionist? Am I drugged?"

The man groaned.

She pressed harder, until blood came. "Who are you?"

He took a breath and coughed, pointing at her foot on his chest. She stepped back, but kept her sword ready. "Speak!"

He sat up and cried out. "S***. What did you do, break my leg? And how did you get in here?" He winced as he pulled himself up on the bed. An object fell out of his hand as he supported himself.

"The Oracle's Eye! Forgive me, I did not realize."

He frowned and rubbed his head. Then spoke nonsense. She picked the Eye off the floor. "Where is your staff, Oracle?"

He shook his head. "That I understand. What did you say before that?"

"I am sorry for injuring you, Lord. I asked your forgiveness. Then you spoke gibberish. I am glad it was only temporary." She frowned. "Or was it one of your spells?"

"No, you're the one who spoke gibberish. Whatever. Give me that artifact. I need it."

"The Eye? Of course." His hand was white as death against her dark skin. She had never seen any so pale.

"What are you doing here?"

"I know not. I was fighting in the arena, triumphing over my opponent. Then the light came, and I was here. You summoned me, Oracle. What have I done to displease thee?"

"Oracle? That's the second time you've called me that. What arena? You look like you came out of a history book."

"You are no Oracle?" She lifted her sword. "Then you have no right to that. Are you even an Atlantean?"

His eyes widened. "Atlantean? Like Atlantis?"

"I meant not the Atlantis. The city of Atalanta. Are you from either?"

"I didn't even know they existed. Atalanta lived thousands of years ago."

"Do not lie about Queen Atalanta! Rise and I shall take you to her and the Oracle. You will be punished for your theft and blasphemy. Give me back the Eye."

"No! This is my way to get debt-free."

"You took me from battle, my chance to win freedom for my family! Give. It. Back." She raised her sword and pressed it to his throat.

"Whoa, that's sharp. I ask for protection and end with a death threat. Did Belkar send you?"


  1. I like this. A lot of information conveyed through dialogue without being too much of an info dump. It's entertaining seeing the confusion on both sides of the discussion. I do think having a sword pressed against one's throat would merit a stronger response than "Whoa, that's sharp," particularly considering that sword-wielding attackers are pretty rare in modern times. I kind of suspect he'd be questioning her sanity.

    Good luck!

  2. You did a good job conveying confusion in the dialogue. These people really don't know what's going on and that is good. I was a bit confused as well but I think that's because I don't have the larger context of the story.

    I wasn't sure about the word gibberish. Is gibberish something a ancient gladiator would say? That made her sound more modern. Also, I agree that he would say more when she put the sword to his throat. Also, "she had never seen any so pale." anyone? any hands?

    I like how you are trying to capture the extreme confusion of this situation in your dialogue. This experience would be totally disorientating. Overall you nailed it.

  3. I agree that the way each character is talking about their own thing and is oblivious to the other's perspective works quite well, and the resulting confusion is very natural. And it certainly makes the reader want to know how and why she wound up there and how they're going to sort this out! :)

    My first thought was that I wished there were a bit of description woven in here, but assuming that there is ample description of the room and the man in the bed immediately before this passage, it's probably fine as it is; the tricky thing with being dropped into a scene like this is that it creates white room syndrome, since there are no visual details -- other than the brief mention of how fair-skinned he is compared to Akua -- although that might not be an issue at all if we'd read what came before.

    Also, I would put paragraph breaks before 'She stepped back' and 'She picked the Eye off the floor', since his actions before those lines are essentially like unspoken dialogue.

    And I found it a bit curious that you didn't describe the 'object' that drops out of his hand, but since she recognizes it immediately, I can also assume that it's something that was described shortly before this, and that it's clear within the context of the story.

  4. A fun premise and a fun scene. I would love to see where it’s going and what will happen to Akura next.

    The dialogue works pretty well, but I really wanted more description here. I had no idea where I was or what these two people looked like. I wanted to know what object they were fighting over. What time period is this? Perhaps you set this all up in earlier passages, but I have no feel for it here. I think, even if you included description in the previous scenes, it wouldn’t hurt to give us a little more here to keep us grounded and in the scene. If she’s been transported to present day, she would have lots of questions as she noticed the strange furnishings and clothes, maybe the lighting or other technologies.

    He’s in a bed and she’s got her foot on his chest, so is she standing on the bed?

    I agree that the man would be more freaked out than he seems to be to have someone point a sword at him and even draw blood. I would think he’d be more concerned about fighting for his life, than for whatever object they’re fighting over.

    You could also give us a little more internal dialogue from Akrua’s POV so we could really get a feel for her confusion and how she’s attempting to understand what’s happening.

    Later in the scene, I lost track of who was talking and I thing you could pepper a few more “he said-she saids” to help us out.

    Good luck!