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The Town Of The Mountain.

by johnRsermon 

Posted: 10 August 2010
Word Count: 4462
Summary: This is the first draft of the first chapter of a novella I'm working on. The story is in it's infancy so I'm posting it to see how it reads to others. I think its good, but it could be said I'm slightly biased.

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The Town of the Mountain.
By John Robert Sermon.

The roar made him spin round in anticipation. A sickening roar he’d heard many times, but like most of those times, the bugbear responsible didn’t appear.
There’s not much you can say about him, but the one thing most say is that he’s aware. He won’t let much get past him. He is Markus ‘Trident’ Groningen. The things he’s done whilst being so aware were and are to this day greatly appreciated by the townsfolk. This small town is located at the foot of a huge mountain that reached beyond the clouds the top of which has never been seen.
The town is populated by around 350 people who all knew that there hunters were the key to there survival. These hunters, one of there number being ‘Trident’, were there to defend the town from the creatures that lurked in the surrounding forest at the foot of the mountain. For many years they had tried in vain to gain help from the nearby bigger cities. These cities took a fair few miles to get to and they finally stopped hoping for a helping hand because after twenty years there efforts had come to no avail. The town worked fairly hard to sustain itself. Growing crops in the fields that had been made from the vast amounts of grass that surrounded the forest. The town also made its own clothes and housing. The town had grown rich because of this. They charged over the odds for there clothes, or threatened to expose the bigger cities company’s for the frauds they are for selling the towns clothes as there own.
The grass stretched the length of the forest and there was one clear path running through the middle of it which allowed access to it. The path was only really used by the hunters as they were the only ones equipped to fight the creatures that inhabit the forest which have come to be known as ‘Bugbears’.
‘Trident’, which was the town’s and his fellow hunters nickname for him, was so called because he hunts with a wooden handled Trident with three extremely lethal spears at its end. Though this doesn’t stop him from handling it with same ease as the wind and a stray leaf. Each hunter has a weapon of choice as the bugbears ranged from gigantic in size to at there smallest man sized. A man sized bugbear could be taken out by one hunter alone and the biggest required all five using these weapons to there full capability. In total there were five hunters. Not one of them was recognised officially as the leader but ‘Trident’ was recognised within the five as such.
The hunters had one thing above all in common. They always wore smart shirts and cotton twill pants along with any footwear of there choosing. Eriden Grainger, who has the distinction of being the only woman hunter to date, stood at 5ft 11in and carried two pistols which matched that of any gunslinger to have ever graced the wild west was a slight exception wearing a corset with a frilly shirt. This was covered up with the standard long dark brown coat like the others. It was closer to black but patches of the coats still remained there natural colour. The shirt, pants and long coat combination was standard for a hunter and it always allowed them to keep there weapons concealed from the bugbears. The bugbears knew the hunters by there clothes more so than there facial features. Some instances have occurred when a bugbear has been lured by a coat being put around something that resembled a hunter from the back and lured into a trap by the coats owner.
As we join ‘Trident’ we find him doing his daily rounds. Each hunter is required to walk the distance of the forest in search of bugbears each day alternately. Bugbears usually came out at night which was when all the hunters were scheduled to patrol the forest in shifts. Two would go on patrol for the night and then the next night another two would patrol. The remaining hunter would hunt with the Sheriff of the town the next night then they would switch partners the next night and so on.
‘Come back in Trident. Seven times is enough for any man. Even one as tireless as yourself.’ Shouted Stuart from the edge of the forest. Stuart Pinder-Marsh carried a fencing sword at one side of his 6ft muscular frame and the other side was accompanied by a greatsword that’s blade was 4.5 foot long and 3 inches wide and was immensely sharp. His muscles are his pride and enabled him to handle greatsword with ease. He was also carrying two big jugs of water and was occasionally drinking from one as he waited for Markus to answer. After a few more minutes of cautious glances towards the darker parts of the forest, he turned and walked towards him. Stuart in turn held up the full jug of water and Markus swiped it from his hand.
‘Polite as usual.’ He muttered.
‘I heard that.’ Replied Markus as he took a large gulp of his water.
As they made there way back to the town they were soon greeted by a very smiley man with a slight pot belly and red cheeks. He dressed very brightly which usually included a yellow tartan waist coat and, unfortunately, a matching hat. He strode up and stopped in front of Markus. Markus would have walked right through him if Stuart hadn’t stepped in front of him to shake the mans outstretched hand. He didn’t like the man very much. The only reason he ever gave was that he didn’t like the feeling he got whenever he was near him. A sense of unease and general suspicion came over him. Though he could never get the other hunters to understand.
‘I hope the daily round went well?’ The man asked tentatively. He didn’t answer until Stuart accidentally nudged him when he stepped back to the side of him.
‘It did.’ He replied whilst trying to look directly into his soul. After another uneasy silence, the man decided to break it.
‘Well, as always, I’m happy to hear it. It soothes my soul to know that as Mayor of this town I have nothing to worry about. Hopefully anyway.’ He said as he checked his pocket watch. It was getting close to darkness.
‘Right. Well, Maybe I’ll see you in the House tonight Mr Groningen? I know I’ll see you Pinder-Marsh.’ Said the Mayor as he turned and walked off towards the town. He walked a short distance before turning left and entering a large building with “Sheriff/Mayor” written on the side. It was the second biggest building in the town and only housed four people. The Mayor Anton Brokeback, Sheriff Terrance Kelly, a stand up man around six feet tall and well built who always carried a pistol in his right holster and a sawn off shot gun on his back. Deputy Elijah Grainger, brother to Eriden who became the deputy after failing to impress enough to become a hunter. That which his sister had no problems in doing and which has caused a rift between them ever since. There parents are the only ones who enable them to be in a room together without arguing or physically fighting. The last member of the oversized building is the Mayor’s assistant Amanda Pinder-Marsh. A six foot tall brunette who was considered by most of the town to be the most elegant of them all. This also didn’t wash well with her son Stuart who would frequently beat up anybody who showed an unnatural interest in his mother.
‘You coming to the House tonight Trident?’ Asked Stuart as they strolled through the town.
‘Why the hell not.’ Answered Trident to the huge grin of Stuart. They arranged to meet later in the House along with the other Hunter who wasn’t on patrol that night and made there separate ways to there houses. They lived next to each other in five houses three of which were joined side by side on the left side of the town and the other two joined on the right. These were reserved for the hunters and every time one hunter died another replaced him. This unfortunate fact was known to each hunter but accepted as part of the job.
It was very quiet as most people were either getting ready to eat there evening meal or to go out to the house. The House was the largest building in the town and boasted a huge stage which had dancing acts every night except Sunday and fist fights between local and foreign fighters every night except Sunday. The bar was also very large and stretched around the edge of the House and in total the whole House could fit all the townsfolk into it. If not at a squeeze in some places. The location was in the exact centre of the town and had shops for all sorts opposite and next to it. Food, drink, clothes, weapons, pets, baskets everything that was needed for a town to survive could be bought in close proximity. Any other part of the town was covered in houses or forest.
Eriden and Owen were the selected hunters for the night’s hunt of the forest. Owen Bernard Treeben carried a long bow and specially made arrows which packed a more powerful hit than normal. Standing at 6ft 6in and having a athletic build allowed this to happen. The hunters were selected by the Mayor who tried to select at random but there being only five hunters, and on one day the sheriff who accompanied the odd hunter on every third nights hunt, it became fairly easy to work out who was due to team next. Markus, Stuart and Brian Oxberry, being the other un selected hunter, made there way to the House for 8.30pm. Half an hour before the festivities for the night got underway.
The door was in the fashion of a saloon and allowed anybody entering to believe they were entering a wild west style environment. Two long bars serving all kinds of whiskeys and other spirits along with waitress’s with loose fitting dresses that even if they were properly fitted could not contain them. Fun was the name for the House and if anybody took it too far the Mayor’s “squad”, five in total, would eject them immediately and deal with them appropriately. Usually by either a swift punch and a threatening glance.
They were greeted literally seconds after stepping through the door by the Mayor and his assistant. She was also carrying a letter clutched close to her chest.
‘You best not be looking at her untouchables.’ Whispered Brian in Markus’s ear as they waited for the Mayor and his assistant to approach. The letter Markus was gazing at had ‘Hunters Records’ written on it.
‘Well, Markus I see you’ve returned from the daily round unharmed. You know the rest.’ Said Amanda as she handed the letter to him. He quickly took the contents out and opening it to it’s full length. The document had ’Markus Groningen’ written at the top and ‘Wednesdays Report’ written just below it. Each hunter had too document each days round and the next day the previous nights patrol for the mayor’s records. These were used to keep track of the Bugbears sightings and to prepare them if it seemed the sightings were becoming more frequent.
100 years ago when the town was in its infancy and were unaware of the inhabitants of the woods they had chosen to settle in front of. Only a year had past and the town had just begun living and working when the bugbears attacked. Twenty man-sized bugbears smashed the town’s houses and surrounding buildings and killed half the inhabitants in a frenzied attack. The bugbears were, as they are presently, vicious creatures who look like bears but move like humans. Sharp claws and teeth along with brutal strength meant the efforts to repel them by hand were useless. The settlers at the time didn’t think to arm themselves as they were a peaceful folk but quickly became wise after rebuilding the city in the coming year. The town also decided to create a band of “Protectors” or “Hunters” as they were soon to be called who would be given the sole job to shield the town from the bugbears. They were paid very well for there services. They only did this one job and for long periods could consist of doing nothing but walking round the woods either at night or in the day. Though countless bugbears seemed to inhabit the woods, they kept themselves well hidden and didn’t attack very often.
After walking over to a table that was three rows back from the stage and comfortably sat five, Markus made swift work of the days report. The report could be as long as the hunter wanted it to be. So long as it was clear and stated any happenings of any kind. The report read as follows;

“No sighting of the any bugbear of any kind.
No sighting of any homes made by them or places which they’ve been. Although, there was the usual evidence of them covering there tracks. Piles of leaves and excretion covered by mud.
Went round seven times in the space of three hours to compile this report.


Markus Groningen ( Hunter of the town) “

He finished his report as Stuart and Brian came over with three pints of beer each. They both handed one to Markus as they sat down.
‘Back in a minute.’ Markus said as he walked over to the Mayor’s table to hand over the report in its envelope. The Mayor’s table was always located at the centre of the front row of the stage and was big enough to fit more than its current capacity of four on it. The Sheriff, his deputy, the mayor and his assistant. Markus dropped the report down in front of the mayor’s assistant.
‘Thank you.’ She replied gratefully. Markus was the only one who remembered to put the report back in its envelope to hand back to her. The others just discarded it and completed and returned the report in any form they chose. Folded, ripped, beer stained and so on. She appreciated this from Markus.
‘Markus!?’ She cried after him as he started to walk off. He turned back annoyed as he was very much looking forward to his fresh beer while it was cold. The House’s home brewed beer was never more tasty when it was cold and fresh.
‘Yes Ms Pinder-Marsh?’ Said Markus feigning politeness. He did this a lot and was very good at it.
‘I’d like again to thank you for your promptness and neatness with regards to your report. You never disappoint.’ She said proudly.
‘I try my best.’ He replied still thinking of his beer. He wouldn’t think of it so much but it had been two weeks since his last. A night of one too many at the House two weeks ago and a stage routine he’d rather forget he created started the two week shun of his favourite, all be it only one in the town, beer. ’Thank you Ms Pinder-Marsh.’ He said as he bowed and left the table. She quickly replied. ’Please, call me Amanda.’ as she winked at him and turned back to her table. This had happened the last god knows how many times he had handed his report to her. He knew what it meant but tried to forget it as she was always his fellow hunter and close friend Stuart’s mother. He returned to his table and informed Stuart and Brian of what just happened.
‘She likes you Trident. Go on, marry her and be Stuart’s new dad.’ Said Brian through a suppressed laugh. Brian Oxberry carried with him two harpoons, one in a gun and the other by hand and stood around 5ft 9in and was quite strong but was able to hide this easily due to his slight frame. Markus went straight for his beer and took a drink which lasted half the glass.
‘You wouldn’t would you?’ Said a concerned Stuart. He never did really get any kind of sarcasm and never knew when Brian was joking. Brian, knowing this, did it a lot.
‘I was joking Stuart! Dear lord!’ Said Brian as he finished his first pint.
‘Of course I wouldn’t.’ Said Markus patting Stuart on the back. The reassured look in Stuart’s eyes ensured the subject was dropped quickly and the night could continue.
The next half an hour past quite quickly for the three hunters. They talked about nothing subjects like annoying people around them and waitresses falling out of there dresses until the lights dimmed in the House. The House was known in the town and in some places around it as being the one place where the party was always good. The first act was a group of saloon dancing girls who, whilst only just secure in there dresses, would come on Wooing and laughing as they danced and they transfixed the place. The next was another set of chorus girls, who were looked suspiciously like the first set in less clothes, with there own dance act which involved the crowd as well.
The rest of the night was devoted to either bear knuckle boxing matches or music from a piano and a space for people to dance in. This was known as “Clifton’s Dance floor” but the Clifton part was dropped when any ’travellers’ would tell there friends back home of the place. Its said the dance floor idea has taken off in the bigger cities. The House allowed them all to come out of there collective comfort zone’s and be free as it became known. “Be free, no matter what.” was the slogan of the place and it attracted travellers who took up the rooms which the House provided.
The Owner and Bar manager Clifton Tomas always decided how much the charge would be. He was an excellent judge of character and was never wrong. He would talk to the potential occupant for ten minutes and no more and decide how much to charge. Depending on how they acted, the price could go high up or low down. Clifton Thomas would never turn custom away, but he would make custom he should’ve pay a pretty penny for the privilege of the staying within his walls. He never used judge people like this and was open and honest with all people he met until he returned from America. He seemed sharper and more aware and the story goes that he lived and worked in the St. Louis, Missouri with a distant cousin of some sort after said cousin had come to town looking for him. Clifton was born in the town of the mountain and it took some persuading for him to leave. After the stranger had proved he was indeed a relation of his he convinced Clifton to work in his bar. Clifton was always a big man and could intimidate anyone he met. Either by his size or his temper.
He was there for five years and returned a few years ago and set up the House with the knowledge he‘d gained from his travels. He tried to bring the cousin back with him and he was all set to succeed when his cousin’s wife died giving birth to his son and he had to stay in St. Louis to look after him. Though he had planned to set up with his cousin, he quickly got the town involved. The town helped him build his dream saloon and within a few short months those who helped and the rest who didn’t were there almost every night from day one. He also placed posters in the bigger cities to get there attention. He would travel there and stay over night. Planting posters and discussing with the locals about how good the House was. This eventually spread to the bigger cities and before long the House would be packed to the rafters with locals and so called ‘travellers’. These ‘travellers’ were English but considered to speak a different language by most of the town. ‘Quick, get the beers in.’ Said Brian to Markus hurriedly as the first set of chorus girls were about to start. Markus reluctantly got up to do so as he knew he’d miss the grand entrance. As predicted as he was waiting for his beers to be poured they made there entrance. He could see it from the bar but the views a lot better from his table.
The huge curtains on the stage open swiftly and then the saloon dancing girls wait for the place to become almost completely quiet. Then, one saloon dancer, the head of group, slowly walks onto the stage high kicking with every step. As she gets to the centre of the stage she bows her head until the constant cheers die down again. A swift lift of her head and, dressed in a red corset which sparkled along with her red high heels, shouts ’WELCOME TO THE HOUSE!’ and takes three steps back as the rest of the girls run on and perform a breathtaking stage show. The girls would run in-between each other and high kick all the while. Jumping and wooing as if there lives depended on it. Some girls would pair up and help each other do cartwheels and many (so called by the staff) suggestive dances.
They would seamlessly join up into one long line and then split off and do routines which looked amazing. The saloon girls of the house had seemingly unlimited stamina and could continue this for 30 minutes straight. They would then leave the stage for five minutes and return in different costumes and get the audience to join in with the some routines. The routines were very simple but allowed each audience member to have fun with the dancers.
Any audience member getting too friendly with a dancer was quickly seen too by either Clifton or the hired help. This happened rarely as the seeing too was unpleasant to say the least. This had helped the House’s dancers to become a tradition for the town and most people had no problems joining in as they were lucky not to have fun. It seemed almost impossible.
Whilst this was getting under way, in seemingly more extravagant style than usual, Markus was still waiting for his beer. A man in scruffy clothes, seeming only in need of being tucked into each other, was complaining about the quality of the chairs in the House to the barman which was holding him up and annoying Markus.
‘There not dam comfortable enough.’ He said but only just. As he continued the barman kept his cool and poured Markus’s beer’s perfectly. As he took the last two over to Markus and received payment, the scruffy man came over to them to continue his drunken rant.
‘You know you barman aren’t anything to write home about. Your just miscreants. ’ Once the scruffy man had said this Markus immediately recognised him. He didn’t know his name but he knew that he was the assistant to the chief clothes supplier for one of the big cities the town had as a client. He also seemed solemn and uptight to Markus whenever he came to town with his boss to do a deal and obviously had no idea about how to let off some steam. The fact that his drunken ramblings were more eloquent than most suggested that he mustn’t drink very often. Most can’t pronounce miscreant when sober let alone after a few pints of house beer. Markus took the beers back to the table and decided to go back and help the clothes assistant out before he got into trouble. He was too late.
‘Your going on the street boy.’ Stated one rough looking hired gun. The house didn’t have trouble that often so whenever there was a hint of it they seemed to pounce very quickly.
‘Hey! Calm down!’ Shouted Markus as he got back to the bar. The hired gun had the assistant by the neck and pants and was ready to throw him out of the saloon.
‘What do you want getting involved, Hunter man?’ the hired gun replied. They weren’t known for there brains but they made up for it in brawn. The clothes assistant was now completely off the ground.
‘This man is the assistant to one of the towns top clients when it comes to clothes and provides a fair amount of profit for this town. What do you think he will think when he finds out his assistant was treated in such a way at a House I’ve heard him deem “Safe for all comers.”’ Markus said but knew half way through that the hired gun lost the plot and seemed to be frowning a lot. He quickly summed up.
‘Put him down or the town will lose money.’
‘Right.’ Said the gun as he dropped the clothes assistant on the floor. Markus quickly picked him up and sat him in a chair with a table on his own. The assistant put his head on the table and passed out.
‘Sorry hunter. I just get so bored. But I can’t afford to leave as I’ve got a family to support back home. I’d try for a hunter job but my brain doesn’t work well enough. Well, that’s what he said.’ The hired gun walked off to his post at the end of the bar and took up his position. Markus noticed he looked at the Mayor as he did this. Markus stared at the Mayor for a while. He had always despised the way that the Mayor conducted his affairs and manipulated five seemingly no brain thugs to protect the House. They follow orders and do nothing else for a good or possible bad wage depending on how stupid the hired gun was and what he thought was good money. This annoyed Markus to the extent that he actually considered attacking the Mayor as he sat in a crowed House surrounded by his friends. This was not the first time this had crossed his mind but he soon remembered that he was up for a good night before he entered the House and decided to drink more beer to forget about it until tomorrow. He had a meeting with the Mayor to discuss the Sheriff’s progress.

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Comments by other Members

dharker at 21:32 on 15 September 2010  Report this post
Hi John!

Big blocks of text here with very little spacing. Might be a bit easier to read if you spaced things out and maybe broke your paragraphs down?

I also got a bit confused with your use of "there" (in that place) instead of "their" (belonging to them). In the paragraph below for example, I've highlighted some that I think should be "their"?

The town is populated by around 350 people who all knew that there hunters were the key to there survival. These hunters, one of there number being ‘Trident’, were there to defend the town from the creatures that lurked in the surrounding forest at the foot of the mountain.

You have a big story developing here though - You've started to set the scene and I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops.


Becca at 08:36 on 16 September 2010  Report this post
Hi John,
this is the short story group and for chapters of a novella, you could try one or more of these four:- Novel 11, Novels:the long haul, First Three Chapters, or the Fiction Writers' group.

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