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Bartholomew
04-29-2007, 06:15 AM
Olive branches twisted in the breeze and the fair-skinned slave strained to listen.

“And Maximus?”

At last! The slave drew closer to the edge of the corner. Closer to freedom and closer to death. She dare not listen. She dare not miss a word.

“A four day's march from Rome, my liege, to the south.”

The emperor sighed.

“My liege, if—“

“No. There can be no risks, not now. Not when we’re so close. Tell your men to strike. Our salvation must depend on the loyalty of my general’s underlings.”

"But—"

“You’ve good ears on your head, Marcus. If you’re desirous of keeping them, close your mouth and go do as I say.”

The familiar rustle of a legionnaire’s dress suggested a curt bow. The slave drew in a breath before creeping away down the wall. She put herself behind a pillar just as Marcus turned the corner. His sandals smacked the marble steps harder than the slave was used to hearing. Sweat crept down the side of her face, and she drew in a shuddering breath.

The two feet between her and the way out of the Emperor’s garden may well have been the Styx itself. She gulped down another breath, held it, and then stepped toward the door.

She hadn’t heard the Emperor move.

“Violet?” The Emperor’s voice rang. The slave froze in place, though violet had never been her name. “What are you doing here?”

“I was crossing to the market, master. I thought I heard Lord Marcus call for me. I was mistaken.”

The emperor smiled. “Well, be on your way, then. No harm done.”

The slave prostrated herself. The idiot! He’d soon pay dearly for his condescension. But to leave too quickly would be suspicious.

“Does the Emperor require anything of me?”

“No. Only your loyalty. Sometimes, I wish my life had your simplicity, Violet.”

The slave pushed down her anger—simplicity? Hah! Arrogant pit-boar! She put a look on her face that suggested both ignorance and innocence. Oh, a simple slave could never understand the intricate dealings of the imperial court!

“Yes,” the emperor said, now mostly to himself. “In some ways, I envy you.”

“Your envy is poorly placed, master.”

“Be not so humble. You are a great whirring pulley in a system more intricate than you realize.”

The slave perked her head. What was he talking about? Did he know? Oh, Jupiter, did he know?

“I’m not certain I understand, master.”

“I only mean that a pyramid does not stand tall without the bottommost bricks, Violet. The pinnacle and the base serve each other. Without an emperor, the people and the slaves are like a galley in the darkness, striking their oars against the shallows. Without the people, the emperor is a madman commanding shadows.”

The slave feigned confusion. The emperor sighed.

“I’m sorry, Violet. I’ve kept you too long with my rambling. You may leave.”

The slave prostrated herself again and then stepped out of the garden.
General Maximus had to be warned.

***

The emperor smiled to himself. There was almost no doubt in his mind, now, that Violet was a traitor. But there was no point in stopping her. All that she would find four days south of Rome was the cold end of a javelin reserved for anyone telling General Maximus stories of assassins.
Why must the imperial life be so complicated?

Chumplet
04-29-2007, 06:25 AM
This one's hard, but I'll go out on a limb and say it's written by... a... um, a girl.

Kentuk
04-29-2007, 09:38 AM
Male. Slave lacks emotional complexity and depth.

SpookyWriter
04-29-2007, 09:44 AM
Male. Slave lacks emotional complexity and depth.I agree with Terry (oh no, not again) and say this is a male written scene.


“Your envy is poorly placed, master.”

Do you think a woman would say that, as a female writer? Hmmm....

Julie Worth
04-29-2007, 05:05 PM
“In some ways, I envy you.”

Girl.

Sohia Rose
04-29-2007, 05:12 PM
I'd say a male wrote it, triggered by the words, "gulped down another drink."

Mel
04-29-2007, 06:49 PM
Male. Just a gut feeling.

san_remo_ave
04-29-2007, 07:17 PM
I agree with kentuk. A male wrote this.

The slave character lacks emotion and even comes across rather disassociated.

Chumplet
04-29-2007, 08:19 PM
Wow. This is really interesting and I'm learning a lot!

Bartholomew
04-29-2007, 09:19 PM
I'd say a male wrote it, triggered by the words, "gulped down another drink."

Hmm. I couldn't find that passage, though I'm interested as to why you think its a male thing to say.

Mel
04-29-2007, 09:23 PM
Hmm. I couldn't find that passage, though I'm interested as to why you think its a male thing to say.

They might have been referring to "gulped down another breath"

AnnieColleen
04-30-2007, 06:16 AM
Huh. Guess/gut feeling on this one -- male.

JJ Cooper
04-30-2007, 06:47 AM
Female.

'The slave perked her head'

Vandal
04-30-2007, 05:41 PM
I'll say a female wrote this.

davids
04-30-2007, 07:36 PM
I would say female as it reminds me of one of Victoria's books which I quite enjoyed!

MissAimee
04-30-2007, 07:44 PM
I say female

maestrowork
04-30-2007, 07:51 PM
Female. To many signs -- word choices, mostly.

Monkey
05-01-2007, 11:46 PM
It reads very much like my husband's writing, so I guess a guy wrote it.

dancingandflying
05-02-2007, 07:30 AM
gut feeling -- a dude wrote this.

just a guess.
peace.
d and f.