Gumbee Fantasy Writers ‘do’ Pursuit: Number 3 Jim Webster

This one I found tricky, not because I don’t do chases, but because in one case the entire book might be considered a chase. Of course a chase should build up tension, you shouldn’t know how it’s going to end, will the pursuers catch their intended prey or will their prey escape?
Over a book you can go into detail, allow the pursers to go off on false trails, almost catch their victim but fail, only to set off again for another go. You have time for character development, budding love affairs and scenes of deep introspection. In a shorter chase you have to keep the pace up, but you can allow humour to creep in round the edges without losing the tension.

So here is a chase from ‘Swords for a Dead Lady’

Seen from the point of view of the book it has several purposes
It introduces Benor to Rothred
It explains why Benor is interested in leaving Toelar
It gives a feel for Toelar and introduces other people who might appear in the story later.
All these things could be done in other ways but this way was more fun.

Benor left his home and closed the door behind him. He didn’t lock it – the Widow Kazmintal would be round soon to disturb the dust and move the furniture. He stepped out briskly, his goal the Scented Salamander, where he had decided to take his midday meal. He had passed the Temple of the Eightfold Alms when he noticed that a small group of men appeared to be following him. He recognised Rontswaller, an elderly merchant, whose young wife Alina Benor had been consoling four nights ago.

He slightly quickened his step and crossed the road, intending to turn off down Musselfair Street to the harbour where at least he would have friends, when he saw, coming the other way, Thestal Carnholm, husband of the beautiful but flirtatious Chianvil. With him were several burly lads from his small glass factory, still wearing their leather aprons. All were carrying cudgels.

Without hesitation Benor turned left down Lead Glass lane, and as it was empty, he broke into a run. Figures blocked the far end of the lane. He went into the first house at random, smiled at the startled practitioner who was giving a client deep tissue massage and darted out of the back door into the yard. Cautiously, he opened the yard gate. There were three toughs lounging against a wall further up the street. He looked round and saw a woman’s hooded cloak hanging on a line to dry. He hastily threw it on and stepped out into the street, turned away from the loungers and walked briskly away, hoping that he would hit Musselfair Street behind Carnholm and his party. Then behind him he heard a shout:

“Come back here with my bloody cloak”.

He didn’t hesitate, but dropped the cloak and ran, the hue and cry starting up behind him. He hit Musselfair Street and swung down to the harbour, not risking a glance behind him. The shouting grew louder.

He heard shouting ahead of him as well, but largely ignored it, concentrating on keeping to the middle of the road and watching for anyone coming in from either side. Out in the harbour he could see his brother’s boat, the Channeler’s Dog, wallowing at anchor, about a hundred yards from the quay. He began to feel that he might just make it. Some of the pursuers were gaining on him, but he intended to run clean off the wharf into the harbour and swim for the boat.
They would have to slow down or end up in the water with him.

His world had contracted to the unfocused shouting and the Channeler’s Dog when suddenly some fool put a horse directly in his path. With no time to turn, he dived under its belly, rolled along the floor and came to an abrupt stop against a pair of riding boots. He gazed upwards; the wearer of the riding boots was an Urlan, a young man, looking battered from hard riding and with one leg bandaged.

“Hello, I am Rothred; I have been told that you are Benor Dorfinngil, also known as Benor the Cartographer. I have a message for you from Lord Eklin.”

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