As pointed out, my older writing was somewhat talky in need of revision.
I loves loves loves me revision. What I don’t particularly enjoy is revising a 140k manuscript. A wonderful incentive to avoid that length when possible!
Here is Prelude in C revised. I did this during my small lunch break in between sips of tea and nibbling on food too spicy for my own good. It took me (fifteen?) minutes.
Prelude in C
The Gaterunner was reading a book in his right hand while holding his sword in the ready position in his left. At any moment, a Reader could burst through the door and interrupt his reading. If it was one thing that bothered the Gaterunner, it was rudeness. Hence the sharp metal pokey thing, poised, ready to take umbrage at a disruption.
The book he was currently reading was not the one he was looking for, of course, but it did have an oh-so-faint glimmer of… not exactly magic, more like a unique proto version of the stuff. It was enough to keep him reading. Sentience was hard to come by on this world, and he would take what he could get.
He considered this world the most barbaric, over-populated, over-engineered polluted places he ever set foot on. Unless he was successful in his search for the exact book he was looking for, he would die here alone surrounded by readers who could not Read.
The Gaterunner was not particularly fond of death either-specifically, his. He had the unfortunate occurrence to experience his own death several times. It was painful, but worse, dreadfully embarrassing. “Death by Old Age with Unfulfilled Quest” ranked right up there with “Eaten by Small Fangflowers After Tripping on a Rock.”
The Gaterunner tried to avoid his thoughts from running from his task, but the looming difficulty was too oppressive. How do you find a book when surrounded by books? There where millions of books, stacked everywhere in houses and buildings, sometimes gathering dust but usually kept out of fondness for the words contained within. They even taught children to read books! They built libraries of books for common folk to borrow and read, and then return for another as if they had a reading itch they could not quite scratch. They had machines-of all things-that would spit out book after book after book like some mechanical book producing golem. Thousands of people wrote books, and many more then that produced the things. Men and Women worked their entire lives around them, and many died surrounded by pages and pages of tiny words composed of machine-generated tiny type.
The number of books was tremendously staggering. He often pictured himself alone on the shore of some sea, but instead of water crashing about his ankles, pages of books pushed back and forth at him, threatening to knock him over and drown him under paper.
He marveled at the cleverness of hiding the book here. No sane Reader would come here even if they had a Gate to spare. If they did, they would never find it. Only someone with faith in people, not books, would be able to discover its location. Only someone with faith in destiny would trust that it would fall into his hands eventually. Only a Gaterunner would find the book here.
The Gaterunner saw shadows from the crack under his door cast by the light in the hallway. He set his book down and smiled. His enemies were not used to this world. Their stupidity would be their downfall.
The door exploded, wood going everywhere.
The Gaterunner smiled. He was not enjoying that book anyway. With a mental nudge it burst into flames and hurled itself straight at the surprised, and soon to be as dead as he was rude, Reader.