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shayhiri
July 22nd, 2005, 09:10 PM
Hello! Here's the beginning of a novel which stars one of the most unlikely fantasy protagonists. Please say what you think of him and - most importantly - of the style and language, since I'm not a native speaker. Hope it doesn't show.:p Thanks!

"All stories, they say, begin in the pub.
Or at home.
Well, Bendest felt at home in the pub.
And recently, he’d been staying home for quite a while.
The “pub”, in his case, was The Screwed Unicorn, one of the seediest premises in town, a haven for those abject sots and scoundrels who were equally scorned by society, the authorities and the underworld. The low, narrow and smoky room, which held a handful of wooden tables invariably covered with splotches of wine, beer and various kinds of human secretions, was buried two feet below the level of the street, as if the pub itself was ashamed of its appearance, and the only light inside came from the dull gas lanterns hanging on the walls. It was still early for drinking, just past dusk on one of the short days of early spring, and The Screwed Unicorn’s only occupants were Bendest and a few rotters of his ilk who glumly peered into their mugs, as if they could make out some answers on their bottoms.
“Home” itself was the small town on the outskirts of the large empire, in which Bendest had sunk for the last several years. Having lived through thirty-five winters, which had not been particularly benevolent to him, he’d accepted the utter failure of his career philosophically and had chosen the miserable occupation of a third-rate bouncer in a pub. He’d given up grander aspirations a long time ago.
And he did feel at home in The Screwed Unicorn, chiefly because even in this small and dour town, in which real estate prices had hit the bottom already at the dawn of the empire, he could not afford his own place. He worked, with a variable success, as a guard in the pub, in exchange for the permission of the morose owner to sleep in the basement, have a warm meal once a day and drink the minimum amount of alcohol that sufficed a soaker like him to plummet in the abyss of smug self-pity.
In his better days – which were long ago drowned in the miasma of drinking, Bendest had had a fair start. His father had been a famous warrior from the North, earning his bread (and butter and dark beer, and even the semiprecious stones and clothes of fine fabric that had granted him the seduction of Bendest’s mother) with a double-edged axе in hand, in war expeditions into inhospitable lands, amidst the blood and cries of dying companions and natives – like a true man. In the end, he had not perished on a battlefield, as he’d probably intended, but on an ice-slippery staircase. Prior to that, however, he’d managed to bestow on his young son his massive build, a couple of simple but valuable pieces of life advice, and his faithful double-edged axe.
In the years since, Bendest had added to “massive” such an abundance of flesh flabby with boozing and poor meals that less sensitive folks wouldn’t waver to call him “fat”. The simple but valuable pieces of life advice had long ago sunk in the clogged folds of his alcoholized brain, seemingly erased forever by many years of humiliating failures and misfortunes.
As for the axe ... well, the axe had been the pawn for his latest loan.
And so, on the young night that saw the beginning of this story, Bendest’s head had flopped on the coarse wooden table, right in the middle of a puddle of cheap wine, and his unshaven face lay half-turned sidewards, letting him pretend to be watching the events in the pub entrusted to his guard. We should note that such a pose probably did not present Bendest in his best light, for it made the glow of the gas lanterns glimmer dully on his prematurely balding crown, and his sideburns, braided into absurd plaits (allegedly after a northern custom), were unpleasantly soaked in the various liquids on the table. With each of his exhalations into the wine that sheltered his red grog nose, tiny bubbles rose, but he seemed not to heed them – just as he’d long ago stopped heeding his frayed leather clothes covered with eternal mysterious stains and the cursed life in general.
In spite of his wretched appearance, Bendest still possessed a tiny spark of interest in life and a will to act – albeit completely misdirected. It was this spark that made one of his eyes open slightly wider and flash with a trace of intelligence when the young waitress of The Screwed Unicorn swung by Bendest’s table. She was young indeed and had just recently arrived in the small town from a wholly godforsaken village in the country, so she still regarded her work in the pub with an enviable enthusiasm. She had a roundish, yet vital and supple body, and right now her luscious backside, mercilessly squeezed into a tight leather mini-dress, was swaying by on the level of Bendest’s eyes, as the waitress carried a heavy tray set out with steins toward a table next to the entrance. Bendest uttered an indeterminate sound, took a wheezing breath and ominously raised his head from the table in order to focus his dull gaze on the passing buttocks of the girl. His sodden plaits were jutting sideways, and the table boards and nails had left imprints on his cheek. As wordlessly as before, with the desperate determination of the soused, he stretched his long, meaty arm toward the receding behind that was swinging maddeningly in front of his blurred eyes. He wished to grab it and never let go – but he missed it by a hair’s breadth. Bendest did not give up easily, though. He growled and braced himself to rise from the chair, whereupon he unwittingly lifted the edge of the heavy table and started dragging it up with his body. The waitress was walking away, but he could still reach her.
“Rrrraaaaaaa!” Bendest roared and lunged into action.
The girl screamed, startled, and turned toward him, the steins flying apart in all directions. What she saw seemed a nightmare come true: the disheveled Bendest, a demonic glint in his squinting eyes, had tried to vault over the table and was uncontrollably flying through the air flop toward her with all his weight of 120 kilograms of inherited heavy bones, massive muscles, still more massive fats, and lacking brains. Fortunately (for the girl), the feet of the berserker had caught the edge of the table and he was dragging it along; man and table tumbled over with a mighty crash, the man’s face landing smack into a beer’s spill, just a few inches from the waitress’s fleshy legs.
Bendest budged no more.
A drunk at a neighboring table applauded uncertainly. The waitress hesitated for an instant, peered around and thwacked Bendest on the head with her tray. Then she walked on, swinging her behind as lusciously as ever.
Bendest had just lost another job.
The owner of The Screwed Unicorn – a large curmudgeon with a thick, black beard, a leather apron of an indefinite color and an unpleasant disposition – had watched Bendest’s performance with a lukewarm disgust. Under ordinary circumstances, in an ordinary pub, he should call in the bouncer – yet Bendest was the bouncer.
“Buggrit,” the owner muttered and decisively crossed the room to the place where Bendest had crashed.
The rest of his speech got lost in his beard; chances are, it would be deemed quite unacceptable in respectable society.
Bendest lay still.
The owner took aim and delivered an accurate and quite powerful kick into his ribs.
Bendest kept lying still.
“Buggrim,” the owner added.
Then he squatted and painstakingly rummaged the leather pouch hanging on Bendest’s belt. He was not particularly surprised to find it utterly void. After all, Bendest was his employee, and the owner did not recall ever paying him cash.
“Buggrem,” he concluded and gave Bendest another quick, malicious kick.
Then he sighed hopelessly and beckoned two of The Screwed Unicorn’s regulars to help him.
They who say that all stories begin in the pub say yet another thing: that even the longest journey starts with a single step.
Well, not necessarily a step.
A few instants later, Bendest was clumsily winging though the night outside, flailing his arms and legs and mooing softly. The large fellows who had dragged him along the two low, crooked stairs to the exit and then outside the pub, on the muddy street, had eventually managed to swing his massive trunk strongly enough to hurl him out of The Screwed Unicorn literally and for good. He had not landed yet, when they turned round and headed back into the premises to get a free drink for their toils. The rickety door of the pub slammed shut and blocked the orange beam coming from within, leaving the street illuminated by cold moonlight only.
Low and livid clouds floated along the sky and shed occasional heavy snowflakes. Spring was reclaiming her domain slowly but surely, and the snowflakes lost their beauty the instant they touched the muddy street, yet the eaves of the houses on the shadowy side of the street still sheltered some pure snow.
Bendest crashed heavily onto the cobbles, never once trying to protect himself or soften his fall, plowed a short furrow into the mud and wet snow and finally came to a spread-eagle halt. His grazed grog nose had half-sunk in the slush like the prow of a pirate ship run aground.
“Ugh,” Bendest remarked.
The people in this tiny provincial town rarely remained in the streets after sunset, so there was no-one to observe his impressive fall. His only witness was a black, shaggy puppy, attracted by the racket. The small kind-hearted creature warily approached the sprawled man, sniffed at him, judged him completely harmless, even though slightly funny-smelling, and affably licked his nose.
Then a voice thundered above.
“Bendest!” it demanded."

choppy
July 23rd, 2005, 01:54 PM
Hi Shayhiri.

For someone who is not a native English speaker, I think you've done a lot better than a lot of native speakers. The language is fine and just about anything I could say about it would be nit-picking. You have a great vocabulary which you use to evoke some vivid imagery - a staple of this genre. There were a few spots where you used bigger words, where something simpler would do. For example:

she still regarded her work in the pub with an enviable enthusiasm
This could be she still saw her work in the pub with an enviable enthusiasm
or better she still worked in the pub with enviable enthusiasm

This opens with a lot of background on Bendest. Is his backstory necessary at this point? The physical description is great, and I definitely wouldn't cut a lot out. For example you might include the fact that he's pawned his axe, but cut out where it came from. (Others may have differing opinions on this.)

Does the waitress have a name?

I'm not sure I understood exactly what happened between Bendest and the waitress. I got the impression he was half drunk and seemed to just lunge at her as she walked by. If he works at the pub would he have not been formally introduced to her at some point? Also while I agree that in today's society this kind of behaviour is inappropriate, in a quasi-medieval setting, deep in one of the town's seediest premises, I would expect that waitresses may get the occasional smack on the behind and be expected to accept it. The pub owner seemed to turn pretty coldly on him for having employed him. Of course, maybe that's how things work in this world, or maybe I just missed something.

You end with a little bit of suspense which is good. Keep going with it!