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Project Chaplaincy (Chapters)

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Troisnyx
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Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 25th, 2012 @ 04:16 PM Reply

Hey everyone, Troisnyx here. Some of you may recognise me as a musician here; I'm relatively new compared to most active users. At any rate, nice to meet you!

Now I've been writing for a while, except that I haven't had the confidence to get anything out. I've been constantly plagued by the feeling that I'm never going to feel good about what I write. But I'll never know till I try, right?

I'm attempting a fleshed out story for Project Chaplaincy, a little project I've been thinking of. Just as a side note, I've even written a soundtrack for this thing, but by and large, this thread is going to be concerned with the story. I'll be posting chapter by chapter, and not in the most regular basis, but I will try.

Please tell me what needs to be improved on, and I will do my best. Thanks!
Story should start in the next post.


AMDG ✝

NGADM Round 1 Entry: Oceans Wide

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Deathcon7
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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 25th, 2012 @ 04:40 PM Reply

I listened to some of your audio and it's pretty good. Great, actually. I'm really curious to hear the soundtrack for this project.

One thing to note is that writing is mostly evocative. You put what you're feeling, and how you want others to feel, into your writing. It's partially intention, partially subconscious. If I'm not mistaken music is very similar. That being said, understanding how you feel won't necessarily write the story, but it'll help. Putting yourself in the mood necessary to write certain parts really get your creative brain going. That's why I listen to movie soundtracks while I write.

As far as confidence is concerned, every writer here suffers from insecurity. You don't begin to build any real confidence until you've published a story, and even then that's fraught with all new concerns. Point being, you can't let it hold you back.

Okay, I'll stop there before I go into full motivational speaker mode. For a learning experience, you want to make sure you're doing things on your end to improve your craft as a whole. Any advice given will do you no good if you don't know how to apply it. There's not much more to be said beyond that until you post something.

Troisnyx
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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 25th, 2012 @ 04:41 PM Reply

CHAPTER 1: PRELUDE

In ancient times, a powerful monster, Tenebris, wreaked havoc across the many kingdoms in the British Isles. He cast dark clouds over the skies, and sent his spawn all across the land. Many who did not have the mettle to face it were killed or driven away by that beast. However, a group of young people rose to face it, armed with swords, drums and the power of the Faith. Tenebris was defeated and plunged into the ground, never to surface. There was relative calm over the land.

Ever since then, it remained trapped underneath the cold earth, biding its time until it was ready to rise again and reap more innocent souls.

Could that time have come again?
Would there be people willing to dispel the darkness, in a time where people have become weary of battle and do not know what they are fighting for anymore?

This is a tale of the times. It is a taleâEU¦âEU¦. of you and me.

-----


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NGADM Round 1 Entry: Oceans Wide

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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 25th, 2012 @ 04:44 PM Reply

"Breaking news from Westminster, a state of emergency has been declared in the House of Commons. "

"Ugh..."

"Manifestations of dark beasts with luminous markings have been seen in the London Boroughs, Hertford and Ware, the coastal parts of Essex, all of Kent, all of Merseyside and Durham, parts of Sussex, Surrey and the Midlands. Schools and colleges all over England have been raided, entire towns are on fire and in ruins, and people are behaving violently on the streets. A panel has been set up by the City of London Police to investigate these happenings."

It was six o'clock, the time I usually wake up. Yet this time, the radio report from my alarm clock woke me up with a jolt. It all seemed dreamlike. I turned on the light and drew the curtains. It was calm, not a soul was stirring. The main street lights were on as always, and so were the lights from the university across the road. All I could hear were crickets chirping.

I am a university chaplain. I live in Hatfield, a small town about half an hour away from London. A lot of people say that this place is quiet and idyllic, but I'm afraid it won't be so for long. What's more worrying is that I live in a time where people do not see the point of fighting, the point of defending themselves and their loved ones. When people automatically assume that any form of fighting is evil, they are left powerless against evil itself: evil has to be fought.

I soon remembered that the radio news report mentioned 'Hertford': a friend of mine -- Pascal Millhouse -- lived there, and he was in great danger. It didn't matter that it was crazy o'clock in the morning -- I rang him up.

"Marcus, what time do you call this?" he said in a slurred voice.
"Five past six, Pascal. But does it even matter? Aren't you supposed to be up for morning prayer?"
"Pfff. I don't think I have the physical strength to stay awake for twelve hours anymore."

I knew just what would force him to wake up.

"What of these news reports? About the strange dark beings and the towns going up in flames? Pascal, you have got to wake up!"
"You called me just for that?"

His voice was clearer and more pronounced this time. I knew I would be in for a mouthful.

"Well, yes, the news reports are true," Pascal continued, "and the reason why I sound so tired is because I am. The parishioners and I have had to hold back those beings for about a week now. They have terrorised the people in our locale by coming in droves, it's not even funny. The Constabulary is doing so little to help us because they know that they just can't, their weapons aren't going to help us in this fight. Those beings are on a completely different level."
"But what will happen to you if you crash? You should know by now what their strategy is: they come in droves and scare people away. If you are brave, they expect you to come and fight them. They wear you out, and then what's going to happen? Remember, this is not the first time this has happened!"
"Marcus, you would be so quick to believe in a fairytale?"

Silence. Then I heard Pascal clenching his fists and his teeth in rage. Did I hit a raw nerve?

"Hmph. Why would you be so angry if it were a fairytale? You wear the collar just like me; you should be more than ready to handle these things."
"You won't cut me any slack, would you, Marcus?"
"How could I?" I replied. "You're my friend. If I have a friend who has to dive into the unknown to save his loved ones, and he doesn't want to, I push him so that he falls headlong into the unknown! It's more forceful, yes, but it gets the job done. Now, these beings can't be taken down with ordinary weapons, but they can be taken down with something else."
"And what might that be?" he asked.
"What do you use to summon out an evil being who cannot be defeated with firearms or swords?" I asked in return.
"Deliverance prayers?"
"Yes."
"Oh." He sounded as if his heart sank.

Truth is, I may have known all the answers in theory, but I began to wonder if it could be put into practice. I began to toy with the idea of gathering together a few people to help search for answers. We would go all over England, fending off any strange dark beats, fighting evil, helping the people who need the most help. We would need very strong people for this to happen. I wouldn't be surprised if all I wound up with were people who doubted their strength, because I would be no different from them. Oh, it'd be lovely, I thought -- a big bunch of people who weren't sure of themselves, going across England and fighting evil!

"By the way, isn't there anyone else who can help? Hertford is a big place," I asked. "Hatfield is pretty calm, we haven't seen any manifestations yet. Still, those demons must be pretty strong if you can even see them."
"Marcus, if you think you can help me, go ahead. If you think you have enough willpower to come here and fend those beasts off, then come," he sneered.
"Of course I have enough willpower, Pascal Millhouse! I am a priest, I drive myself to do this out of love!" I yelled. "You of all people should be the last to sneer at intentions like these! Now you have the manuscripts about Tenebris, don't you?"
"Y-yes."
"Use them. They're not there for show, you know. Who knows if these beings are actually his spawnâEU¦ I know it's never right to assume, but I have a hunch, and my hunches are often talked about. We will be ringing you up when we receive new leads. We need you to tell us more about these strange happenings as time passes. You want in this mission, you got it. Please, sneer no more, live up to your vocation and help your people in need."

We bade each other goodbye. I secretly wondered whether Pascal would help us in this mission, or if he would crash and burn. But then I soon realised that woeful thoughts bring about woeful situations. Great job, Father Marcus. I shook my head a little, and went to wake the parish assistant, who was still asleep in the next room. He was a young man, about twenty years old, and about two-thirds my height. As I approached the door, I heard snoring. Wow, sleeping really is his thing. I gave the door a sharp knock.

"Demetrio," I called out. "Demetrio, wake up!"

He turned, let out a soft whimper, and went back to sleep. He did once tell me, in his own words, that he had a "PhD in lazing around"... apparently he was living it.

"DEMETRIO, WAKE THE LIVING DAYLIGHT UP!" I yelled.

After a minute or so, the door opened. I took Demetrio out and we went downstairs to my study. Time was running short, and I had a lot of explaining to do. At my study, I told him about the news reports I had heard earlier that morning.

"So what do we do now, Father?" Demetrio asked.
"Ring up the parishioners and tell them to keep watch over the place. I also need you to lock all the doors, including the door at the front of the church. Then, we gather the people whom we know will help us, and we leave Hatfield to search for answers to these strange happenings. Nothing is going to be done if we just sit there and pretend that everything's fine. And as a priest, I must be there for the people, but I cannot do this alone. Now go, we have some work to be done, and we need it done yesterday!"


AMDG ✝

NGADM Round 1 Entry: Oceans Wide

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Troisnyx
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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 25th, 2012 @ 04:58 PM Reply

(Oh, and by the way, the soundtrack is incomplete, but here it is.)


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NGADM Round 1 Entry: Oceans Wide

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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 25th, 2012 @ 08:23 PM Reply

CHAPTER 2: DEPARTURE
At eight o'clock, the work was finally done, and Demetrio and I rang up a few young people from the parish... those who were still in Hatfield, of course. We told them to meet us in front of the presbytery within the next hour. And there were three of them, standing in front of the door when I came out.

First, there was Jean, a very tall, young Frenchma-- I mean, Breton-- who was always a minute or two late for Mass. He had windswept brown hair and blue eyes and freckles on his face, and he wore a signet ring on his left pinky. Then there was Blaise, a friend of Jean's, with long, straight brown hair reaching his shoulders, and a long fringe. He always went out with a hoodie on. And finally, there was Grace, the parish musician and the secretary for the university chaplaincy. She was the shortest of the three, with short, dark brown hair, brown eyes and tanned skin. She was often seen wearing black from head to toe, with feathers on her head and her neck.

I was a bit worried that she had decided to lend her strength: she was the worst in handling her passions. Bless her. But she, like the rest, knew what we were all fighting for, and she decided to join us. I saw her trembling, but I didn't have it in me to tell her to go home. The other two were much calmer.

"I trust all of you know what this is all about?" I asked.
"Yes, Father," all three of them replied.
"Have you brought what you need?"
"Father, I brought lock, stock and barrel for this mission; I don't know if I should leave anything behind," Grace chirped.

We took a look at her stash. It was a weighty bag. There was a camera, a small computer, a bottle of water, a rosary, a handkerchief, a missal, a block of soap and a pair of drumsticks. Wow, she did bring lock, stock and barrel. I would've asked her to leave the drumsticks behind, but I had a good mind to make it such that we would mirror the legendary fight against Tenebris in some way, shape or form.

"Jean, what did you bring?" I asked. I soon discovered that the other two only brought bottles of water, rosaries, handkerchiefs and soap.
"Call him John Plaster the next time," Blaise teased me.
"It's Pleustrer! Pleustrer, damn it!" Jean replied.

It seemed that the way of the typical Frenchman has never left our dear Jean: he just doesn't give two hoots about his language, even in front of a priest... He's toned it down significantly for our sake, which says a lot.

I gave them and Demetrio a briefing on defence against those dark beings. Things were made a little easier for me because all four of them could see the things we normally could not see, to varying degrees. Fighting those monsters involved two planes -- the visible and the invisible. There were a lot of things we would do that would not be seen by the normal naked eye. Looking back to that day, I remember just how scared I was. All of us were scared. It was not a question of what people would think if we saw things that no one could see..... no, it was a question of what we would run into whenever we saw the invisible. People in antiquity marked places on the map reading "there be dragons" or "there be monsters". We could do it for much of England, in a loose sense of the word. The land was not safe anymore.

After the briefing, we prayed together, and finally, we left.

It was going to take four hours till we reached our next stop. We were headed for Lancashire, for a place called Stonyhurst. Some of our friends were going to be there. I knew that one of our former students -- a seminarian -- was going to be there. Everyone had confidence that with the brightest minds around, we would be able to unearth some answers. We were hoping for greener pastures -- literally -- because Stonyhurst is a vast, green expanse.

Out on the highroads, we would get close brushes with darkness. I urged these four friends to be prepared...


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NGADM Round 1 Entry: Oceans Wide

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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 26th, 2012 @ 07:07 AM Reply

CHAPTER 3: COLEGIUM SAXYSILVANUM

After four hours of jet-boarding our way through the highroads, we finally made it to Lancashire. Stonyhurst was not very far from where we were, although there were a lot of winding roads that led to that place. The nearby towns -- Preston and Clitheroe -- were empty. We had to pass through the streets of Clitheroe to go to Stonyhurst, and we were horrified by what we saw.

Shop signs had been violently pulled down, people's livelihoods were in shambles, even the cobbled streets were destroyed. There were holes on some of those streets, and an ominous dark purple liquid oozed from them. The skies were a dark grey; it seemed as if the clouds were never going to part. There was the occasional body or two lying on the street. The putrid smell of blood was everywhere. Has that not been the case with evil all the time, I thought, has it not sought to destroy history and destroy the world, and shape it to its own liking?

I could not bear the thought of us going to Stonyhurst when those people had not yet been buried, so we took a detour. The stronger among us -- Jean, Blaise and myself -- we shrouded the dead, found some open, unused ground where they could be buried, and we lay them there. Wherever I found a recognisable medal or crucifix on their necks, I prayed the last rites. At that point, all of us had a taste of what it was like to live in an area where those dark beasts roamed the streets like they owned the place. There wasn't much of an exchange of words between any of us, all of us understood what this horrible air was about.

Once our work was done, we zipped through the winding roads until we finally arrived at the vast expanse of green fields. Stonyhurst College was somewhere in the middle. Demetrio, Grace and I had been to Stonyhurst College a few times before. It was very much like Hogwarts, except with electric lighting. The building itself was five hundred years old, and the school had a long line of alumni -- saints and martyrs, sportsmen, political figures... even the writer of Sherlock Holmes had studied there.

We pressed forward until we arrived at the West Front.

"It's awfully... quiet," Grace muttered.
"There were supposed to be people coming in through the West Front to sign their names on the register, where are all of them?" asked Blaise.

I said nothing, but decided to zip through the West Front and see what was going on for myself. Looking back, it probably wasn't the brightest decision I made, since I was putting myself in danger of being mauled by those beasts... at the time, who knew if they would even be in Stonyhurst College? And if they were, who knew why?

Jean, Blaise, Demetrio and Grace followed. By and large, the corridors remained untouched, but they were unsettlingly quiet. There were papers scattered all over the place. Either nobody had come to Stonyhurst, or everyone had gone into hiding.

"If no one is here, could they all be in the chapel?" asked Grace.
"Which chapel?" I asked in return.

There were quite a few on the top floor, and there was one just about five minutes away from the college.

"The Boys' Chapel, on the top floor," she replied. "That's the one I'm most familiar with, at least."

Jean and Blaise were clueless, since neither of them had ever been to Stonyhurst College before, but they followed nonetheless.

I slowly opened the door leading to the Boys' Chapel, dipped my hand into the font and made the sign of the cross. I was hoping for some people to be present for contemplative prayer. However, nobody was there! Now the Boys' Chapel would normally give off a warm, comforting air every time I was in it, but this time, I swear I heard warning drums banging away inside me. Grace stared into my eyes in terror. The lights were off, and it made us even more afraid. By that point, it had begun to rain. Thunder and lightning raged in the background. I heard Jean muttering under his breath.

"Demetrio, if you can, please go to the sacristy and turn on the chapel lights," I said.

He went, and I heard quite a bit of switch-plucking from behind the sacristy door. After five minutes, the lights went on. I hoped, deep in my heart, that the warm lights on the walls would show me what was so unsettling about this place.

We looked back, and I got my answer. Demetrio froze. Grace trembled. Jean clenched his fists and his teeth.

There was a figure standing at the organ loft, wearing a red hoodie zipped all the way to the top. His face, however, was tinted purple and his eyes gave off a faint yellow glow. Our eyes had met; there was no backing off now. Deep inside, I felt as if I knew this person somehow, but I couldn't put my finger on any names. Still, I had a hunch that he was not himself anymore, and that he wouldn't go down without a fight.

--------

(Related music: Bataille Royale
Related artwork: Scandal at Stonyhurst College)


AMDG ✝

NGADM Round 1 Entry: Oceans Wide

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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 26th, 2012 @ 12:51 PM Reply

At 10/25/12 04:41 PM, TroisNyxEtienne wrote: CHAPTER 1: PRELUDE

There's two ways you could have gone with this prologue: Poetic, proceeding the first entry; or not at all, allowing mystery and suspense to build.

Poetic and you would really further the fairy-tale feel to this story. Or if you removed it, you would have a more Cloverfield, monster-mystery feeling. It would make the story a lot more mysterious, suspenseful, and conflicted.

My main issue with prologues is that they tend to answer questions it would be more fun to discover in the reading. It also sets in stone certain elements of mythos. So, for example, if the "reborn" heroes are meant to slay this demon, that seed of doubt should be there. The seed of doubt being the truth behind the legend. Suspense, conflict, etc.

Ultimately it's an artistic choice, but I think these types of things set the tone for the story. If you want something realistic and suspenseful, you want to make sure you keep the above in mind. Otherwise, I'd reference Lady in the Water, the M. Knight movie, to get a good idea of how a Modern day fairytale would play out. It's done very well. Not that this is meant to be a fairy tale, but the Prelude gives it that type of feel.

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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 26th, 2012 @ 12:53 PM Reply

At 10/25/12 04:44 PM, TroisNyxEtienne wrote: "Breaking news from Westminster, a state of emergency has been declared in the House of Commons. "

"Ugh..."

"Manifestations of dark beasts with luminous markings have been seen in the London Boroughs, Hertford and Ware, the coastal parts of Essex, all of Kent, all of Merseyside and Durham, parts of Sussex, Surrey and the Midlands. Schools and colleges all over England have been raided, entire towns are on fire and in ruins, and people are behaving violently on the streets. A panel has been set up by the City of London Police to investigate these happenings."

This portion I have trouble with because it's an info dump. I find it hard to believe she woke up exactly when the news was breaking. I also find it hard to believe that this level of information would be available as the story is breaking, or that it would even be reported. Keep in mind that, to avoid a panic, most news stories remain unspecific, if they report on something at all. The rule of thumb is that there's always more information to be reported than is being reported. Information is a powerful tool for a writer, so you have to leak it to the reader to build interest.

I am a university chaplain. I live in Hatfield, a small town about half an hour away from London. A lot of people say that this place is quiet and idyllic, but I'm afraid it won't be so for long. What's more worrying is that I live in a time where people do not see the point of fighting, the point of defending themselves and their loved ones. When people automatically assume that any form of fighting is evil, they are left powerless against evil itself: evil has to be fought.

Your choice of first person perspective aside, this first look inside the character's head is way too didactic and pontifying. You want to elevate your prose. Perspective is your choice, but like any tool there's a proper way to wield it. With this one in particular you can quickly build a ton of character.

I soon remembered that the radio news report mentioned 'Hertford': a friend of mine -- Pascal Millhouse -- lived there, and he was in great danger. It didn't matter that it was crazy o'clock in the morning -- I rang him up.

"Marcus, what time do you call this?" he said in a slurred voice.
"Five past six, Pascal. But does it even matter? Aren't you supposed to be up for morning prayer?"
"Pfff. I don't think I have the physical strength to stay awake for twelve hours anymore."

I knew just what would force him to wake up.

"What of these news reports? About the strange dark beings and the towns going up in flames? Pascal, you have got to wake up!"

A healthy amount of skepticism would help to characterize our Chaplain friend.

"You called me just for that?"

His voice was clearer and more pronounced this time. I knew I would be in for a mouthful.

"Well, yes, the news reports are true," Pascal continued, "and the reason why I sound so tired is because I am. The parishioners and I have had to hold back those beings for about a week now. They have terrorised the people in our locale by coming in droves, it's not even funny. The Constabulary is doing so little to help us because they know that they just can't, their weapons aren't going to help us in this fight. Those beings are on a completely different level."

Seems like you're really holding back with these creatures. If they're as terrible as the prelude makes them out to be, and they're immune to bullets, they would have eaten through a town in hours. That the town folk could hold out for a week and still find time to sleep for 12 hours really deflates these creatures' menace. A week into this invasion I would imagine things would be a lot more chaotic.

"But what will happen to you if you crash? You should know by now what their strategy is: they come in droves and scare people away. If you are brave, they expect you to come and fight them. They wear you out, and then what's going to happen? Remember, this is not the first time this has happened!"
"Marcus, you would be so quick to believe in a fairytale?"

Here's where structure really comes into play. You want to have conflict, but I think you're on the wrong side of it. With a believer character, the conflict is with the non-believers. It would be the believer that suffers until the non-believer begins to believe and the primary plot point can be addressed. What you have here is a believer who seems to be wholly unharmed, in conflict with a non-believer in the midst of the battle. The issue with this structure is that there is no true conflict. The character is behaving irrationally which, while that can be realistic, you have to keep in mind that fact is stranger than fiction, so to the reader it flattens the character into a plot device.

Silence. Then I heard Pascal clenching his fists and his teeth in rage. Did I hit a raw nerve?

"Hmph. Why would you be so angry if it were a fairytale? You wear the collar just like me; you should be more than ready to handle these things."
"You won't cut me any slack, would you, Marcus?"
"How could I?" I replied. "You're my friend. If I have a friend who has to dive into the unknown to save his loved ones, and he doesn't want to, I push him so that he falls headlong into the unknown! It's more forceful, yes, but it gets the job done. Now, these beings can't be taken down with ordinary weapons, but they can be taken down with something else."
"And what might that be?" he asked.
"What do you use to summon out an evil being who cannot be defeated with firearms or swords?" I asked in return.
"Deliverance prayers?"
"Yes."
"Oh." He sounded as if his heart sank.

This exchange here comes off as very melodramatic because there is no support for the behavior and exchanges. This stems from the fact that you have a "non-believer" trying to fight the fight the "beliver" should be fighting. So the emotions are empty because they can't be anything else; the characters have been flattened by the demands of the plot. Once you inflate the characters, then you can inject emotion, and it won't be melodramatic because it's relatable.

In summation, the main point to be made after reading this first entry is that, while it seems you have a milieu and idea in mind, your character and the development of events need to be better structured. What's happening is that there is no soul to the story. Things are happening but it's like you're pulling the reader along by the arm. Your enthusiasm is noted, but you want to focus on the structure of the story so that the reader can develop their own enthusiasm.

To do this you want to focus on character and development of the plot. These two items are inextricably connected, where the action or inaction of the character furthers the development of the plot. But the development is not going to be well received if the choices of the character aren't sympathetic. This sympathy is built by making the reader care about the character. So, you need a character arc. The character has to have a flaw that is central to the development of the story. In the Matrix, Neo didn't just become The One, he had to face trials and in the end became The One through epiphany. His flaw was confidence and the lack thereof. It sounds like our Chaplain friend also deals with insecurity, but his actions do not coincide with this so it becomes an empty sentiment.

Looking back at this post, this is going to be a lot of information to digest. I've been working on this during my downtime at work over the last couple of hours... I kinda got ahead of myself. But! It's all good information, and I'm sure it'll be helpful going forward.

Good luck.

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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 26th, 2012 @ 03:05 PM Reply

At 10/26/12 12:53 PM, Deathcon7 wrote: Lots of stuff
Looking back at this post, this is going to be a lot of information to digest. I've been working on this during my downtime at work over the last couple of hours... I kinda got ahead of myself. But! It's all good information, and I'm sure it'll be helpful going forward.

Good luck.

It's getting there, it's getting there. : ) Now I will admit that character development is more difficult to handle than plot development, and a lot of my characters develop laaaaaaaaaate. D: I'll be honest, I feel as if I'm dragging it too far, and by that point, will there be interest in the story in and of itself?

What can I do to address this? If there's one thing I cannot bear, it's unrealistically fast character development. I don't know how to strike that balance anymore. Help?


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NGADM Round 1 Entry: Oceans Wide

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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 26th, 2012 @ 04:13 PM Reply

CHAPTER 4: SCUFFLE AT STONYHURST

The figure leapt on the balcony and hissed at us. His face looked ghastly, and his voice sounded as if there were two people speaking at once: a high adult male voice, and a very shrill, demonic voice. What irreverence! His voice sounded like claws scraping a blackboard.

"If you think you're here to cleanse this place of my stain, go away, now," the figure snarled.
"I WILL NOT," I replied. "I bear the collar, and it is only right that I remain here."
"A priest!" the figure scoffed, and continued, "Scum of the nation!"

I heard short, quick breathing, and I turned round to see who it was. It was Grace; she was crying. I had seen her at her worst before, where she would injure people and tear at their clothes out of rage, but this time, she had a very good reason to be angry. Jean embraced her, not to restrain her, but to give her comfort.

"You---" Grace screamed at the top of her voice, "let's see you look out for us like Father Marcus did! You monster!--"
"ENOUGH, Grace!" I yelled.

She looked into my eyes and cried. Was it the look in my eyes when I said what I said? Was it out of concern for the man up on the organ loft? At any rate, she did not want to see me. She had buried her head in Jean's chest. I needed to be firm, but did I take it too far? My word, what had I done....

"Peh. Not even a chaplain can take care of his own passions," the figure sneered and hissed. "You set an example, and you can't even live it."

There was a sinking feeling inside me, a deep, burning feeling. No, I thought. I am a chaplain, darn it! I won't have someone berate me for trying and failing to act as I should! That figure deserved a cold, hard lesson, and I was ready to dish it out. I clenched my fists. At that point in time I wished I could send a flurry of lightning bolts his way so he could watch his tongue.

"If you think you can handle yours, my little hooded friend, let's take this out of the chapel."

We were taken on a wild goose chase outside the Boys' Chapel, down the corridors of the second floor, past the War Memorial, down the stairs to the first floor, past the Do Room, and then up again, past the students' quarters. The hooded figure flew, and he flew so fast that we couldn't keep up with him as much as we hoped. As we chased after him, the same dark spawn we fought on our way here appeared: they came out of the ground and out of the walls. But this time, their presence was more easily felt than before. Noticeboards were torn and floors were cracked, memorial plaques were shattered and lights were destroyed. Sparks flew out of snapped wires. Entire facades were blackened by the smoke those beasts left behind. As we were on the ground floor corridors, I heard a lot of screaming... a lot of it. Our friends had indeed taken to hiding, and they were not going to be safe until that hooded figure was defeated. We had begun to worry when we heard a noise like someone ramming on huge wooden doors so hard that he wanted them to break open!

I heard a tearing noise from behind me. There was a huge, gaping tear in Blaise's hoodie at the chest; he had narrowly escaped getting killed. Had I turned back, heaven knows what would've happened to me. We all had to press on. Blaise knew.

"Jean, go to the hall at the ground floor, our friends are there. NOW!" I said.
"But what about you?"
"No time for talk. You are the strongest among us. I'll send Demetrio your way in a minute. NOW GO!"

I sent Demetrio to Jean's rescue about a minute later. That boy needed a lesson in not lazing around; now was the perfect time.

After a long chase... and I will not begin to say how long it was... we finally had the hooded man cornered: he led us out into a corridor with two exits, not very far from where I had sent Demetrio and Jean. Blaise and Grace thought ahead and went on to lock the doors to those exits before the man could try forcing his way through them.

"Not the brightest crayon in the box now, are you?" I taunted the hooded man.
"Shut up!"

He lunged at me. I only managed to escape his sharp claws by a millimetre. Yes, I say "claws", not "fingernails": I swear, they were so sharp that they could dig deep holes in my flesh if I wasn't careful. Still, I wanted to taunt him. I wanted to inflict so much pain on him that he would ultimately see what he was doing. There was a part of me that believed that he would perhaps drop the whole "evil hooded guy" front and come to have compassion. Or that he would realise the stupidity of taunting us. Look who's talking now, stupid.

"You love to hurt others, because you only love to get hurt," I told him.
"YOU LIAR!"

I swear I saw sharp teeth with beastly-looking saliva when he said that. But no more Mr Nice Guy, I thought.

"Liar?" I taunted him even further. "Hurting and abusing others is only going to get you hurt, and if you love doing that, you love to get hurt. You trapped my friends because you wanted them to die by your own hands. You wanted to kill all of them so that you could terrorise Lancashire even further, and what good are you going to get out of them dying?"

I had hit a raw nerve, it seemed. The man was fuming. He was sharpening his claws so that he could finish every last one of us.


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NGADM Round 1 Entry: Oceans Wide

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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 26th, 2012 @ 04:20 PM Reply

At that point Jean and Demetrio rushed in.

"Father, Father! We managed to keep most people safe..." Jean exclaimed.
"...but five of our friends are dead," Demetrio continued.

I dreaded to hear the names. If I cried now, the man would break me. I wasn't even sure if the hooded man before me was a man anymore.

"Save the names for later. We have this to deal with!" I yelled.

Jean grabbed a solid wooden plank from one of the broken noticeboards and rushed at the hooded man. I could not take part in this fight the way Jean did, I just couldn't. Blaise rushed in to have a go at the man; Grace stood at the sidelines with her hands covering her eyes.

"Grab me a bucket of water, Grace," I said.

She said nothing and left, and in five minutes came back with a half-filled bucket. That had to do. I was looking for an opening where I could splash the water on the man's face to wake him up. Then, came my chance. Jean gave him a flying kick to where it hurt the most, while Blaise tossed him up into the air. I made sure to give him a cleansing he would never forget!

"WHOEVER YOU ARE, BY ALL THAT IS HOLY, GET OUT AND NEVER TERRORISE MY FRIENDS EVER AGAIN!" I screamed as I splashed the water all over his body.

The man fell face down on the floor with a loud thud. His hands were exposed. After a few minutes, his claws turned into fingernails, and the purple tint on his skin began to fade. Yet, he still had black and blue marks from the scuffle earlier. He did not even stir. I looked around me, it was silent.

Then, I heard the door to the hall on the ground floor open with a loud, creaking noise. The man we had fought was behind the swarm of dark beasts in Stonyhurst College, and now he couldn't summon them anymore. The people who had hidden in the hall for fear of being spotted finally came out. As curious people normally are, they found us in that lonely corridor and stood by to see what was going on. Some of them were crying. Perhaps it was because of the shock; perhaps it was because their five friends who couldn't make it in on time were killed. I wanted to calm them, but I was momentarily disturbed by Blaise's voice.

"I think we knocked him out cold...." Blaise muttered. "Did we overdo it?"

I wanted to know for myself who the man really was. Without thinking, I went straight up to him, turned him over and slowly undid the zipper. And I had the shock of my life.

"H-He's... g-g-got a collar, j-j-just like mine," I stuttered. "H-He's one of my former charges. Jeremy Peterson."
"Oh my Lord," Demetrio exclaimed. "What have we all done?"

This man was preparing for the priesthood, and had left Hatfield some time back. I last saw him a few months ago, and he was cheery and optimistic, as he always had been. Goodness knows what happened between then and now. Woeful thoughts bring about woeful situations; was he in so much pain to be consumed by hatred? Or did the evil consume him in one fell swoop, when he was not looking?

I looked at Jeremy's eyes. They were blue-black from the blows that Jean and Blaise rained on him. He was vicious and he certainly wasn't himself; in fact, he had almost killed Blaise and me, but he probably wouldn't know about it now, bless him. Worse, he'd be broken if I told him that because of his actions, five of our friends had died. It didn't matter who they were anymore...

I took his limp body in my arms, went into a nearby classroom and lay him on a row of tables. The rest of my charges followed. I vowed to tell Jeremy the truth... when he was ready.


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NGADM Round 1 Entry: Oceans Wide

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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 26th, 2012 @ 04:29 PM Reply

At 10/26/12 03:05 PM, TroisNyxEtienne wrote: It's getting there, it's getting there. : ) Now I will admit that character development is more difficult to handle than plot development, and a lot of my characters develop laaaaaaaaaate. D: I'll be honest, I feel as if I'm dragging it too far, and by that point, will there be interest in the story in and of itself?

Interest is the cross-section of caring and conflict. Conflict is what keeps the reader continually reading, and without it that's when you lose interest. Then there's the empathy factor. The reader has to care about the character to care about the conflict. You could keep a story going indefinitely so long as the character is sympathetic, and the conflict is intriguing.

What can I do to address this? If there's one thing I cannot bear, it's unrealistically fast character development. I don't know how to strike that balance anymore. Help?

For this you'll need to alter your perspective. Characterization occurs throughout an entire story, the character is always facing challenges, and learning. Their thoughts, words, and actions characterize them as they approach these challenges. But you want to give the reader a sense of the character in as few words as possible, as soon as possible. That being said, the quicker you could develop a character, the better. You don't want to waste time not developing a character because then the reader becomes disinterested because there's no conflict. That being said, what you should be focusing on is not balancing character development, but focusing on how you think the character would respond given certain situations, then working to "vocalize" those reactions so that the reader understands.

So with the story you're telling now you have the following:

(M)ilieu: Current day London
(I)dea: Dogmatic monster attack
(C)haracter: Faithful Chaplain still willing to rely on his faith while others rely on their brawn
(E)vent: Evil monster is attacking and modern technology is not harming it

MICE quotient brought to you by Orson Scott Card. Look it up for more detail.

Your job is to develop all four as you move forward in a way that makes sense. So, for example, your creatures aren't going to stop and villages for a week. You have to charactize them as well. If they just want to destroy, then they will spread out destroying. Now, the caveat is that even evil has a plan, and creating something that's evil-lite is going to piss off any reader, so you really have to shape this Cthulu creature's motives. So you need the why of it.

For the character, you need to test him, shake him.

For your events you need your call to arms, your try/fail cycles, your gateways, your climbing action, etc.

Ultimately this comes down to structure. If you're just winging it then you'll notice that the structure is going to suffer and the story as a whole will suffer. If you take a moment to plan these things out, how they should shape up, then you'll be better off, and your story will be better for it.

Good luck.

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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 27th, 2012 @ 07:11 PM Reply

Alright, let's see if any progress is being made.
-------

CHAPTER 5: FIXING BROKEN PIECES

While waiting in the classroom with Jean, Blaise, Grace, Demetrio and an unconscious Jeremy, I was visited by Thomas Short, one of our friends who had come to Stonyhurst from Hull. He was a thin boy of average height, with distinctively curly brown hair and blue eyes. He used to be one of the cheeriest among us. Yet this time, his eyes were red; I could tell he had cried a lot. I beckoned to him.

"Father, did you hear the news?" he asked.
"Yes, Tom. Jean told me, but we had some retribution to deal out." I swallowed and continued, "Tell me everything."
"Father Aidan Macmillan and Lawrence Hartley, both from Kent; Jeremy and Zach Stuart, and Amanda Short, my sister... They are no more."

And with that, he burst into tears. I clenched my fists once again. I wanted to beat myself up. If only I had seen those five coming in late, if only I had done something, or asked my charges to do something. Now the gathering at Stonyhurst would have to be called off because of five deaths that I felt could have been prevented... All I could do now was take the boy into my arms. I let him cry as much as he needed. My mind was in a complete haze. I especially needed to come to terms with Aidan's death. I'm not going to cry, I told myself, I'm not going to cry.

I had lost track of the hours we spent comforting dear Tom. The sky had gotten dark, the nights were coming early. I heard a faint groan from the centre of the class. We took a look at the tables. Jeremy's eyes slowly fluttered open.

"Wh-where am I?"

Jeremy had come to!

"And why is he crying?"

My heart sank. I was so afraid. Yet, if I didn't tell him, I would be doing him a disservice by not letting him know the truth, and everyone would point fingers at him without him knowing why. If I told him, he would be heartbroken -- so heartbroken as to perhaps look at himself as a monster. I had to break my vow and tell him somehow; it didn't matter if he was ready or not.

Tom turned around and saw that Jeremy had woken up. He had seen what had happened when Jeremy was possessed, and so he spiralled out of control...

"YOU MURDERER!" he yelled.
"Cut it out, Tom," I chided him.
"NO!" he yelled even more in between short breaths and tears, "HE KILLED MY SISTER!"

He was so violent that I had to restrain him.

"Tom, shut the hell up if you want to spare yourself a bruising!" Jean stood up and yelled.

Tom cried even more. Cut the boy some slack, will you? I glared a little at Jean, and then turned to Jeremy. His blue eyes met mine, and they only spelt deep hurt.

"What's going on, Father?" he asked.
"Do you remember anything that happened over the last few hours?" I asked him in return.
"N-No... I only remember going down the corridor outside the Boys' Chapel, feeling horrible."
"And how long ago was this?"
"Just after breakfast. I saw lots of people walking by too."

At that point I felt very sorry for Jeremy. Whoever or whatever had possessed him earlier took away all of his consciousness of the outside world.

"You don't mean... I was...?" Jeremy asked.

I slowly nodded my head.

"I don't know who or what was responsible for this, but you were certainly not yourself. Five of our friends are dead, including Amanda Short. We only need to go down the corridors to see what this has done."
"What?!" Jeremy replied in dismay. "Say it isn't so!"
"I'm afraid so, Jeremy. But if I don't tell you this, and if we don't clear the air about what has happened, then everyone will point fingers at you and take you for the real killer. Now tell me," I heaved a sigh and continued, "did you hear any news reports about strange beasts roaming the streets?"
"I... I did, but were they here too?"
"Yes," I nodded slowly and said, "but whatever was inside you commanded them."

Jeremy's eyes welled up with tears. He looked at his hands, then buried his face in his hands and wept. "It doesn't make any difference that I wasn't myself. People are going to say this is a murderer's hands. I am a monster."

Grace stepped in. I knew that she and Jeremy were especially close when Jeremy was in Hatfield, so naturally, she came to comfort him.

"Jeremy, it's not your fault. It really isn't." She turned aside and said, "Apparently this evil being, whatever he's called, feeds on negative thoughts. You don't want to hurt yourself again. There is enough hurt as is... I know! We have Father Marcus explain the situation, while we go out and fix all the broken pieces that have been left behind. How's that sound?"
"Grace, I admire your empathy, but trust is something which is hard to regain once broken."
"You never broke it to begin with! You're a much stronger man than you think you are, and you aren't going to beat yourself up over one possession, will you?"

Jeremy looked at Grace and tried to smile. I had them go with Demetrio, Jean and Blaise to help the rest of our friends fix the broken and torn noticeboards, glue together the shattered memorial plaques and fix the lights that we could fix. Not all the traces of that horrible time were going to be wiped away, but hey, if we could do a little bit to make things better, then it was only right that we did it. Meanwhile, I had Tom stay with me in the classroom.

I was visited by the college rector, Father Séan Buchanan. He was a man whom I respected very much, because of how kind he was and how deeply he pursued his studies. He was also a man of contemplation.

"Oh Séan, what brings you here?" I asked. "Take a seat."

He sat, adjusted his collar and spoke.

"Marcus, did you find out anything?"
"Yes. Jeremy Peterson, one of my former charges, was not himself when he did this."
"Jeremy Peterson???" he gasped. "You mean the seminarian from Allen Hall--"
"Hear me out, Séan, please. I'm not finished yet. We managed to take out whatever was inside him. Five people have been killed, including Aidan."
"Macmillan?"
"Yes."
"My word..."
"At any rate, I've explained the situation to Jeremy. He's now out helping the others to put things back together, but I don't know if he's going to recover well from this thing, or if he's going to beat himself up."
"There's a more pressing matter at hand. There's something I need to tell you, Marcus."


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NGADM Round 1 Entry: Oceans Wide

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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 27th, 2012 @ 07:13 PM Reply

His eyebrows creased as he told me this. Stuff just got real.

"I saw a ghastly pale hooded figure hover over the road leading to the college. He was covered in white flames. He raised a few fingers to his head and disappeared. I swear, he fizzled out, as if he was on an old television screen. Tell me, Marcus, when you're thinking about the evil behind these beasts, the destruction and everything, what is the first thing that comes to mind?"
"Ancient... huge brutish beast-like entity hungry for blood and souls?" I answered him blankly. "An entity so tough that just a few of us cannot take him down?"
"I know it's true," Séan replied, "that the legendary Tenebris was not spoken of in detail in the manuscripts. Every depiction of him tells us he is very much like a wild animal. All we know is that he filled the land with so much terror, and was taken down. But mark my words: I have a very strong feeling that it is that same entity, and he is not as brutish as you think. In fact, I like to think he is quite the opposite."

I was perplexed at his response. Why would a supposedly gentlemanly entity spawn such brutish beasts? To trick us? Or maybe, was the evil in him made of so many facets, that only brutishness showed here? I was lost and confused. At any rate, once the broken pieces were fixed, our dead friends would be brought back home, along with the people who came with them to Stonyhurst. Aidan would be brought back to his home parish. I wanted to cry and scream at the heavens; none of his parishioners sent him to die. None of our young people sent the other four to Stonyhurst to die. I made it a point to contact Pascal Millhouse once again and tell him what we had found.


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NGADM Round 1 Entry: Oceans Wide

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Response to Project Chaplaincy (Chapters) Oct. 28th, 2012 @ 11:34 AM Reply

CHAPTER 6: TO THE HARBOUR

Evening came, and morning came.

Before we left Stonyhurst, Father Sean Buchanan gathered all of us at the same hall where everyone was locked up earlier. He instructed all of us to do the little that we could in our respective areas to fight the darkness, to heal the injured and to bury the dead. With the threat cleared in Lancashire, the beasts and spirits would reel in anger, and would attack other places even more viciously. I began to fear for Pascal Millhouse.

When our job was over, I rang him up.

"Hello? Pascal?"
"Marcus? Where are you?"
"Just about to leave Stonyhurst College. Time's running short. I'm going down to Merseyside to see if we can find anymore leads. Do the manuscripts say anything about what Tenebris looks like at all?"
"No, all we know is that the heroes stayed firm to the end, despite being tempted in front of everybody else, despite being offered great power beyond their comprehension."
"Sounds stereotypical to me..."
"Hey, who doesn't love a good story of good versus evil? Even if the theme has been done to death, it still holds a very strong place in our hearts, because we know that same conflict happens every single day. Obviously now, it's on a completely different level. Now Marcus, I want you to think hard about what I told you. 'The heroes stayed firm to the end, despite being tempted in front of everybody else, despite being offered great power beyond their comprehension'. The text should give you a few clues as to what Tenebris is like."
"I'll try and make a visual picture of this Tenebris figure."
"You probably don't have to contemplate it too much. Put two and two together and you'll have an idea. Now go, and be on your guard. I'll keep looking into the manuscript for clues. The Lord be with you."
"But what about the situation in Hertford?"
"We've got it all under control for now; we've managed to take a lot out, but even more are coming, and they've got sharper teeth and claws and a bigger build than before. They just won't stop! Quite a few of my friends have been seriously wounded, but I can't stop even for a second just because they are wounded. We've got to press on."

We bade each other goodbye; I put the phone down and cleared my throat. I was tempted to call it quits and return to Hertfordshire to help Pascal out, but I just didn't have the heart to. This, to me, was a make-or-break mission: we either embarked in it or we didn't.

"Alright, everyone," I said. "To Merseyside! We have answers to find, and we need to pick Peter up. We've also got Liverpool Cathedral to check out."
"Peter Buan or Peter Rigby?" Jean asked.
"Peter Buan," I replied.
"I know way too many Peters in the parish," Jean muttered.

Peter Buan was also one of my charges in Hatfield, but he had gone to visit his family, who lived in Liverpool. I quickly paged him and asked him to come to the harbour.

We wasted no time: we zipped southwest, past Clitheroe and past the country roads, down the borough of Sefton, and finally to Seaforth, where the harbour was. I had to be acquainted with the horrible sights I saw in Clitheroe earlier: cracked pavements with ominous dark purple liquid oozing out of them, vandalised buildings, smashed trees, fires, the foul stench of blood. When we finally arrived at the seafront, we took a look around. The sky was covered with eerie-looking pink and purple clouds, and those clouds reflected on the sea. The tides were as calm, as if they tempted us to get on a yacht and escape what was befalling England. The sea breeze blew against our cheeks... it was soft, but it let out a soft shrieking. There were no boats on the shore at all, the port was deserted. Had even the sailors and the workers taken to hiding, or were there none left? God forbid...

I heard a voice from behind us that sent a chill down my spine, because of how sudden it was.

"You called, Father?"

I soon recognised the voice. It was Peter Buan! He had a slight Scouse accent in his speech. We all turned to look at him. It was indeed the stocky Liverpudlian with short, spiky brown hair that we all knew and loved. However, his face was flushed and there was sweat on his forehead and cheeks. He was panting and puffing. It seemed he ran to the harbour the moment he was paged. Demetrio, Blaise, Jean and Grace gave him a hug.

"Do you need any explanations?" I asked him. I needed to be sure, even though he was one of the quickest among us to be kept up-to-date.
"No, not at all," he replied.
"Let's go, then."

As soon as we took to our heels, we saw the ground in front of us split open in huge cracks. The same dark purple liquid oozed out of those cracks. I heard short, agitated breathing all around me. Everyone was terrified. Then suddenly, out of those cracks, I heard a whoosh, and above us was a huge beast! It had white, angelic wings, and at the centre it seemed as though five smaller humanoids were joined together: a fiery red one, a yellow one with a spark for a tuft of hair, a green one with twigs on its head, a blue one which seemed to be made entirely of water, and a demonic, black one with bright orange-yellow teardrop eyes. It let out a cry like that of an eagle, and soon began shooting all its elements at us.

"Everyone, take cover!" I yelled as the beast flew into a rampage.

It shot lightning at Jean, who missed by a few centimetres -- the lightning instead hit the wall he was leaning on, and it exploded leaving a big gaping hole. Within seconds, the docks were destroyed.

I stood in front of a fire hydrant, meaning to break it so I could use the water as I did before. The beast was stupid enough to fire at me, and the moment it saw the water gushing upwards, it became scared. There was water, and there was a person with black clothes and a collar. Deadly combination for an evil beast. It flapped its mighty wings and retreated inwards, heading towards the centre of Liverpool.

"This is bad, it's heading straight for Mersey's Funnel..." Peter gasped.
"Mersey's... Funnel?" Everyone else was puzzled.

Apart from Peter and myself, the rest of us had never been to Merseyside before. I knew what Peter was talking about, but I didn't respond. If a bad person or an evil beast escaped to cause more havoc elsewhere, it would always be bad news. Just before the beast escaped from view, the demonic humanoid at the centre fired black balls at us, which morphed into the same dark, hairy monstrosities we saw at Stonyhurst College, except larger and more powerful. Mersey's Funnel was a gathering place for a large number of people within the city centre, and we were going to go there to stop any innocent souls from being reaped... or at least try to stop it. No time for scrupulosity, we had a situation to deal with.


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NGADM Round 1 Entry: Oceans Wide

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