Oh, so disappointed. I tried to join the In-house "Drop the needle" critique at "Miss Snark's First Victim" this afternoon. It was only open for 25 spots. It was all over in a couple of minutes. Literally.
It was still open when I logged on at 4:02pm. But by the time I pushed enter (had to go back and manually add italics ...blech!) it was 4:05pm and the computer sadly informed me that the contest was full and that it could not accept my entry.
So, since I would have put this out there for hundreds of people to see (and critique) on a much more highly trafficked blog, why not post it here, I reasoned. So here is the result of over an hour of meticulously, sweat-soaked cutting and pasting (much more cutting) for an action scene as was requested. Exactly 300 words (50 word lead-in description and 250 word scene).
Any comments would be welcome. Even critical ones.
Attacked by brigands, Cornelius and his cousin, Henri, try to defend themselves. Though skilled swordsmen, the cousins become separated and outnumbered. Henri is cornered against a cliff, his shoulder injured. Cornelius just killed two men and injured one. He’s hurt his wrist in his latest defensive move, and is tiring.
His arm trembled, the sword growing heavy.
Not now, scorch it! He needed more time, more strength!
Cornelius forced his arm high and met the stroke, but his cursed wrist couldn’t throw off the strike. His sword slipped down the other blade. Closer, closer to the hand guard. He shoved, his whole body behind it. The blades caught. His opponent snarled and bore down even harder. His wrist screamed.
Then, the man jerked and his eyes widened. His weight shifted, pressing heavily near. Cornelius pushed him away with a grunt and sidestepped. The wretch dropped to the ground, a knife buried hilt deep in his back.
Cornelius took three steps towards the cliff. Another swordsman scrambled up from the high grass, panting.
Will they never just die?
It was the man with the sliced forearm. He held his sword in his left hand, his eyes hard and desperate.
Lombardi must have offered five hundred marks for my head.
He shifted his sword to his left hand as well. If that fool wanted to tangle with him, he would happily oblige. Hope tickled Cornelius’s veins, followed by the hot rush of a berserker’s battle rage.
Lombardi can choke on his gold, for I’ll not go down easy.
His sword whipped through the air. Lunging. Twisting.
Offer a thousand guineas.
Block and parry. He thrust aside the pitiful left-hand defense.
Offer ten thousand ducats.
He slashed his opponent’s body until it was on the ground, motionless.
None will return to collect.