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He understood that he would probably not manage to escape without crossing their way, since he was just as lost as them in those obscure lanes.

Too bad for them...
I would almost say he's being cocky: he's been stabbed in the arm, he's outnumbered, but he still expects to beat all his pursuers? Bjorn must be one hell of a fighter. Of course, if he can pick off his enemies one by one, it'll be much easier.

What's this massacre he was involved in? Will we find out, or is it merely a mysterious hint at past events that will not come up again?
 

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#10b
Byzantium : April 1420, continued

The Italians couldn't be so many that they could simultaneously guard all exits of the warehouses area. Not to mention properly forage the dark alleys to find him. He estimated that there were ten, perhaps fifteen of them. He didn't want to be ambushed again since the role of predator suited him far better than the prey's.

He slowed his pace down and became silent as soon as he was certain that his few followers had lost his track. He had some time before they properly organize the searches and took advantage of this to find shelter in a big nest of ropes. His left arm was beginning to ache severely. Worse: it was bleeding. Bjorn used his sword to cut a band of cloth from his cape, which he firmly tightened around his wound. It would not ease his moves, but apparently quelled the flow of blood. He was an adept of the Tallion and never lost an opportunity to strike back. But he knew that the first condition for a sweet revenge is to stay alive.

His next action was to look for an opened warehouse. It took him almost ten minutes of growing disquiet, but he finally found an ajar door and slipped in the barn-like building. He hastily probed his new environment and quickly designed a plan. It was dangerously based on the assumption that his enemies would progress in groups of two, or three at worst. But he was in danger anyway. He found the thin ropes he needed and began setting up his trap. It wasn't easy with only one hand and half, but he managed to complete his knots and finally hid behind rows of big clay pots. He waited. He waited what seemed hours. From time to time, he had to stretch a little to make sure that his muscles would react in a heartbeat when he would need them.

He had almost lost the notion of time when a sinister creaking cut through the darkness. It wasn't really loud but seemed to fill the space. Any hint of sleepiness vanished in Bjorn, who rolled the extremity of the rope around his left forearm and grasped it firmly in the right hand. The Italians carefully stepped in, slightly outlined by the weak aura from outside. They were four.

It was too late to switch plans and useless to be afraid. Bjorn hated useless behaviours. He waited for the best moment and pulled the rope with all his strength and weight. The slipknot ensnared the three first intruders' ankles. Pain burst in Bjorn's left arm, forcing him to release the rope as soon as the tension in it diminished, which was fortunately part of his plan. He rushed forward, grabbing his invisible sword as he passed by the pot where he had let it lying. The fourth Italian had seen his mates fell, but his partly lit up silhouette made a splendid target while he helplessly tried to locate the Varangian coming from the dark. He did not even whispered as the steel slit half his neck away. In the same motion, Bjorn fell on the three others, furiously chopping at them. The first died before he could react, the second tried to parry, but his bad position made it useless against the powerful blow.

The third one managed to stand though and parried several attacks. Bjorn did not want to let him enough time to recover completely from his shock and pressed in. He tried a direct thrust and drove the Italian's parry upward. Taking advantage of the open gap in his enemy's defence, Bjorn threw his knee in the Italian's plexus. The other one fell back breathless and dropped his weapon. Bjorn flattened him on the ground, quickly grabbed the thick string he had kept under his belt, slept it around his victim's neck and lifted the man from the ground. The Italian struggled under the strangulation, trying to kick in the air. But there was nothing he could do against the two hundred and thirty pounds of beastly strength holding him one foot off the floor.

Bjorn carried him away, still struggling and pressed him against a wall. Only then did he slacked off the string and allow some air to reach his captive's lungs. The man breathed in desperately through his bruised windpipe. Even if he had foolishly tried to shout, this would probably have resulted in a miserable caw. Bjorn whispered in his ear.

“Don't count too much on your buddies. Seems like manpower has dramatically shifted in my favour lately. Now, I have some questions for you. I'm confident that you will not force me to ask twice or make me angry, will you?”

There was no answer.

“Please, would you be so kind as to tell me why you were after us, who ordered this and why. Make it quick and precise.”

The Italian answered in a rattling:

“Non comprendo il greco.”

Bjorn swore.

“Sorry. I have nothing against you, but I suppose that you know the trade, given how you assaulted us...”

The Italian suddenly struggled again.

“Oh, you know a little bit of Greek after all...”

“I know nothing! We've been paid by an intermediary!”

“Which makes you useless all the like...”

He mercilessly re-tightened the string.
 
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coz1:
coz1 said:
A very frantic encounter.
Indeed. I'm in awe with Stnylan's description of hand to hand characters struggles and was willing to try my hand at that sort of things... Glad you liked.

Regarding the drawing. I like it on its A3 sized paper, but did not manage to render it properly on screen until I finally thought to colorize it in dark blue or purple, keeping the latter. My girlfriend found this ugly, so I'm delighted you liked :) .


Duke: Thanks. He's ressourceful as you have seen.


Storey: I would do just like you!
01.gif
But we're obviously not big furious vikings.
0197.gif



Stuyvesant:
Stuyvesant said:
I would almost say he's being cocky
You're right. This remark of you even made me wonder if I should not have him die in this post. :D But I have plans for him and am too lazy to change them now. ;)

Stuyvesant said:
What's this massacre he was involved in? Will we find out, or is it merely a mysterious hint at past events that will not come up again?
It's not very important to the story, but will be explained nonetheless.
 

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Sorry Duke, I've just noticed that you've managed to slip a comment between my posts. I sometimes wish I were able to read as fast as that! :eek:o

A note to inform you that I've begun to write a character list in the first post. Takes time though. Do you think it's worth writing it? I do realize that I have many characters already, and more to come... :wacko: I thought that would be cool to have a centralised index for the reader to quickly know the who's who. ;)
 

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You’re right I would still be running and not looking back. Bjorn is clearly different and wanted to see who was behind the attack, which would be difficult if he took my advice and ran like the devil was behind him. Still I think my way leads to a longer life with less people having the chance of poking holes in me with sharp pointy objects. :D

With two stories going on at two different times a character list would help. :cool:

Joe
 

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I liked the touch of Bjorn threatening his captive in Greek, to lure out the fact that the man did indeed understand that language. Of course, it didn't really do him any good...

Bjorn's clearly a character to keep a good eye on (you wouldn't want him sneaking up on you, after all).

Exciting update with a bit of brutality that makes it more realistic. Enjoyable. :)
 

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Storey: Looks like we share the same philosophy. I am a coward and not ashamed about it. :nod:

Stuyvesant: Wouldn't like him after me, even if he's not sneaking!

Oh, I have a comment too. A weird image that crossed my mind. In french, we happen to use the word "string", but that's only for g-strings (the piece of cloth, right?). So, I let you imagine what may have popped up in my unhealthy mind when I wrote: "He mercilessly re-tightened the string." :wacko:

Regarding the characters list, it's on progress as you can see in the first post. I'll complete it progressively. I would like to know if you feel it's appropriate, if it requires more details on characters... that sort of things.

I also have a question for coz1, since he's the moderator regularly reading this: is it possible to insert a couple of posts between the #1 and #2 in order to hold the chapters and characters lists respectively? This would improve readability and allow me to link them in my sig for more convenient access (I do care my readers comfort ;) ).
 

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I say, he's quite adept at hand to hand and you have portrayed it wonderfully - keeping the frantic pace but also showing his sureness with fighting and weaponry. A very nice post. :cool:

As for inserting posts, unfortunately I don't think that is possible. We can merge threads, but they merge in chronological order so the new posts would end up at the end of the AAR rather than the beginning. Still, a character list would be helpful. I'd just edit the desired post to do it, somehow separating it from the rest. Hope that helps.
 

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coz1 said:
I say, he's quite adept at hand to hand and you have portrayed it wonderfully - keeping the frantic pace but also showing his sureness with fighting and weaponry. A very nice post. :cool:

As for inserting posts, unfortunately I don't think that is possible. We can merge threads, but they merge in chronological order so the new posts would end up at the end of the AAR rather than the beginning. Still, a character list would be helpful. I'd just edit the desired post to do it, somehow separating it from the rest. Hope that helps.
Thanks for the kind words and the info. I've tried to achieve something with bigger section's titles. Let's hope it will do the trick. The characters list should be complete now.
 

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#11a




Good Hope Hospital, Thursday ,late afternoon


It was an old hospital. The premises were as clean as possible, but the staff couldn’t do much about mud stains running up the walls under a peeling plaster, or regarding broken tiles on the floor that held dirt, no matter how frantically you use the floorcloth. Not that Hitchgins cared much about that sort of things, of course. He slalomed between busy nurses and physicians, reached the stairs and went up the third floor. Heavily breathing, he reeled in an austere corridor until he found the little nurses’ room.

A young woman in a white blouse was filling trays on an iron cart. A neat make-up vainly struggled to hide her tiredness. Hitchgins stepped in and offered his most engaging smile.

“’Xcuse me sweet ma’m. Ya’r’bout to serve sum kind of five o’clock, ar’n’t ya?”

If she was surprised to see a big sloppy cop appearing like an imp, she didn’t show it. Her everyday work life was already so stuffed with weird events that she wouldn’t have objected a little green man visit either.

“Indeed.”

“W’d ya do me a favour?”

She frowned, cautiously staring at him up to bottom and back. Then, with a hint of suspicion:

“Depends on the favour, Sir.”

Hitchgins chuckled.

“I was hopin’ you’d accept to deliver sum coffee to the young man in room 316…”

She was about to object, but Hitchgins pursued:

“I’d o’course prepare it myself. I see ya got much on ya’r hands already.”

She had an ironic smile.

“That’s all kind of you good sir. But for one: the patient you’re speaking about has been crystal-clear regarding the fact that he didn’t drink coffee. And for two: there’s no way I would let someone stranger to the service meddle with what I serve.”

Hitchgins' smile faded away ; all his face literally melted like hot wax to form a mask of desperate sadness. It had something comical but still conveyed a strong feeling of hopelessness. The nurse's green eyes widened in surprise, but they soon started to sparkle as she was touched against her will. She finally shrugged:

“Stop that, I'll do it...”

She opened the little closet where ingredients were stored. Hichgins interrupted her though:

“Err... Ma'am... I didno mean da average coffee. See, I've brought sumthin' else. Could ya prepare tis'one?”

He held her a small black and gold paper bag. He winked and added:

“Prepare three cups while ya're at it. Would enjoy some meself and I bet ya'd too. Premium quality! I've ruined meself to get it.”

She took the bag, cautiously smelled and smiled.

“I must admit that will change from the ordinary. You certainly like this guy, don't you?”

“Yep. He may not always be da brightest, but I like him. And I've a little sumthin' to be forgiv'n for.”

She filled a pot with water and put it on the little gas stove sitting in a corner. Hitchgins cast an interested glance at the bottles in an open metallic closet while the nurse proceeded with the filling of her cart. He took a small brown flask with a white label reading “codein”.

“Shouldn't dat closet be locked?”

She looked at him.

“Put that back on the shelf immediately! I will lock it, but I need some drugs for the patients.”

Hitchgins obeyed.

“Hey, I won't go away wid'it. I'm a cop 'fter all.”

“So what?”

The sergeant did not answer the affront. He watched her finish her preparations and thought that she could certainly be regarded as cute. They were very similar in that they both showed dedication to the community for ridiculous wages in return. Finally, she took a key in her pocket, locked the closet and nodded at Hitchgins.

“Okay. We'll begin with you friend. I don't want to get stuck with you for all my round.”

“Suits me well.”

They went through poorly lit corridors, passing by grey doors until they reached the one where a silver label bore number 316. Hitchgins nodded at the nurse, showing the door:

“Please, go first.”

She shrugged, opened the door, took the appropriate plateau and stepped in. Matt was reading the journal. He put it aside and smiled at the nurse:

“Wow! that's a classy hospital where nice nurses bring tea time lunches I would never take time to eat outside.”

She chuckled politely and put the plateau on Matt's knees.

“Enjoy it then. I've been told you would be out tonight, or perhaps tomorrow in the morning.”

“Yeah, looks like I'm too resistant.”

He noticed the coffee cup and frowned. He did not want to to say anything unpleasant though and said nothing. Then his nostrils faintly widened.

“Well this robusta is not the kind of socket's juice we have in police stations. And certainly not in hospitals either. Where did you get that?”

“One of your colleagues brought it.”

“Sergeant Hitchgins!”

The fat man stepped inside.

“Yep, Dat's me. How art'ya?”

“Sergeant, I can't believe that you're trying to butter me up with that...”

The nurse cut through their conversation:

“Sorry gentlemen, but I have much to do...”

She went. Hitchgins winked at Matt:

“Nice gal, eh?”

“Handsome. I suppose that if you had twenty years less...”

Hitchgins rummaged in his burnt grey moustache.

“No, no. I was no good at dat sorta things even back then. What 'bout da coffee? Like it?”

“I won't ask you how you knew that I liked it.”

“Oh, dat's simple enough you...”

“I said I won't ask. Pinelvy told me you had a frantic conversation.”

“Yeah? Bah, he's always makin' all a fuss for nuthin'”

“What about me?”

“Err, o'course... How's yar leg?”

“Nothing serious. I might slightly limp for a few days.”

“Great.”

“No, it is not great. It was your fault if I went through two burnt floors all the way down to the toilets.”

“Lucky ya: da corpse's cushioned yar fall.”

“It's not funny!”

“I ain't laughin'”

Matt angrily watched his superior and sighed.

“The fireman had warned us, but you did not paid attention.”

“Waita minute. Ya've heard him too.”

“You are the boss, remember?”

Hitchgins had a triumphant smile:

“Ah? So why didn't ya obey me orders then, eh?”

“What?”

“Didn't I tell ya to stay in me steps and not wander 'round, didn't I?”

Matt was uneasy.

“Well, you did...”

Hitchgins bent over him with a conspirator's attitude and muttered:

“Never mind, if ya'r not too rude wid me in yar r'port, I won't mention yar insubordination in mine... Deal?”

Matt returned him an incredulous gaze. The sergeant winked. Matt's feelings hovered a second, then he burst in laughter.
 
Last edited:

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Hitchgins is resourceful, finding out about the coffee, although his attempt to soften up Matt is a little clumsy. But perhaps it's part of the act? Clumsy, harmless Hitchgins, bumbling along and not a threat to anyone?

I enjoyed the description of the hospital and the way you accentuated the nurse's position: overworked, underpayed. Nice.

One small thing I'd like to point out is that a casserole in English is a dish, used to prepare food in the oven. I doubt it would be used to make coffee. 'Pot' would probably work better. :)

I hope it's okay to point it out: by no means do I want to belittle your command of English, which is absolutely fine. Not to mention that your French is infinitely better than mine. ;)
 

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Stuyvesant said:
One small thing I'd like to point out is that a casserole in English is a dish, used to prepare food in the oven. I doubt it would be used to make coffee. 'Pot' would probably work better. :)

I hope it's okay to point it out: by no means do I want to belittle your command of English, which is absolutely fine.
Yay! Wonderful! I was wondering how long it would take for one of my beloved readers
0002.gif
to point out my mistakes... :p I'll fix that and try to remember. In french, "casserole" is a metal pot used for water or other things you want to warm up, so when I found "casserole" as a possible translation in english... :wacko: :


Stuyvesant said:
Not to mention that your French is infinitely better than mine. ;)
Blatant supposition sir! :mad: For all you know, I may very well suck at french :D .

Glad you liked the scene... I was not satisfied with it but did not know how to improve it, so I ended up posting the piece, thinking I was simply not in the mood of enjoying my own writing. :(
 

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Nil-The-Frogg said:
“Well this robusta is not the kind of socket's juice we have in police stations.

You’ve piqued my curiosity Nil. Where did you dig up the slang term "socket's juice"? While I don’t think I’ve come across it before it does seem to work well in describing a “cup of Joe”. :cool:

Joe
 

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Storey said:
You’ve piqued my curiosity Nil. Where did you dig up the slang term "socket's juice"? While I don’t think I’ve come across it before it does seem to work well in describing a “cup of Joe”. :cool:

Joe
I bet you already know the answer :rolleyes: . In fact, I thought in would do the trick rather well regardless of wether or not it existed in english :D .

What about "a cup of Joe"? Is it a personal reference or actual slang? :p
 

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Nil-The-Frogg said:
What about "a cup of Joe"? Is it a personal reference or actual slang? :p

Here's a bit of Americana for you.

"Josephus Daniels (18 May 1862-15 January 1948) Secretary of the Navy was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. One of his policy decisions was to abolish the officers' wine mess. From that time on, the strongest drink aboard Navy ships could only be coffee and over the years, a cup of coffee became known as "a cup of Joe".

One of the many enjoyments in your story is reading the unique choice of words you use. :cool:

Joe
 

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Hitchgins has a bit of Columbo (Peter Falk character) to him. And very nice of him to bring the "socket's juice."

I liked the hint of flirtation you added between Hitchgins and the nurse. It rounded out the scene well.

And I took a look at the first post. It looks good. I think it will work well to assist readers. Nice. :cool:
 

Nil-The-Frogg

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Duke of Wellington: Yeah, Hitch is not the average guy around. Regarding his special talents, I've already hinted at them on many occasions, but fear not, more is to be expected.

Storey: Many thanks for the info, good sir. I did not think you were actually the Joe in question since I remembered this:
Storey said:
That night after dinner Higgins, Aurturo, Shara and I were sitting around our small campfire. Higgins wanted to decide on a plan of what to do when we reached Petra but first Shara insisted she make us coffee. She calmly explained that no one in this part of the world would decide anything of importance without a cup of coffee. Aurturo immediately agreed and Higgins also seemed pleased with the idea so we waited silently as Shara started the Arabic ritual of making coffee. She removed a handful of pale gray green beans from a small leather pouch. She dropped them into a shallow pan that she sat on the coals of the fire. As she slowly shook the pan the beans rolled around with a soft clatter. Soon they turned dark and started sweating their fragrant oils giving off a rich pungent aroma. They then began turning a shiny slick black, which darkened until they were nearly burnt. Shara tossed them into a small stone mortar and started crushing them with a wooden pestle. The rhythmic beat of the pestle only stopped when the coffee was a fine powder. She then poured the coffee into a brass coffee pot followed by steaming water. After a minute she skimmed off the foam and then poured the coffee into another smaller pot. She added some spices and skimmed it again. Finally she poured the tar like coffee into four small cups without handles and gave each of us one. I admit watching Shara wasn’t unpleasant and the coffee was divine. We sipped in silence until finally Shara smiled and said.

"I hope the coffee isn’t too thick for you Mr. Rowe? It must be different from what you drink back home."
Storey said:
One of the many enjoyments in your story is reading the unique choice of words you use.
Well, I would have suspected that :D .


coz1: Very well guessed! I'm a fan of Columbo, even if I did not explicitely drawn inspiration from that. Of course, they have just as many differences as similarities. To begin with, no one has the misfortune of being married with Hitchgins :D .

And thanks for your kind word. Yes, i do hope the first post to be a useful index.

To all: An update is comming (let me a few minutes for editing...).