CERAMIC D.M. Final Judgements In- New Champion! - Page 27


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  1. #261
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    Originally posted by Sniktch


    Just the sort of comment I would expect from a stinking gnome lover





    Clay, I've got some sort of stomach virus and am largely confined to bed and/or the bathroom today, but I will try my best to get my story up before the deadline. Just wanted to give you a head's up since I won't be online much, if at all, today. I'm crawling back to bed now; try to catch up with you later.
    Ick--good luck with the stomach virus. No fun at all!

    Fiery Dragon rocks!


    World's Largest Graveyard

    "Nothing says good bye like a TPK." - Vascant

    "Life's too short to play crappy games." - JoeGKushner

    "Oh yes, play Synnibar, and touch the rainbow indeed." - Nazriel

    "It's like Azathoth designed a role-playing game." - rpg.net reviewer Darren MacLennan on Synnibarr

 

  • #262
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    Final Round - Sniktch vs Speaker

    The giant arrived just after midnight. My family and I slumbered peacefully in our beds when the earth began to shake to its thunderous footfalls. I jumped out of bed and threw open the shutters, and beheld a mammoth figure silhouetted by the moonlight. It strode purposefully towards the farmhouse, the floors and the walls of the house shaking more violently with each approaching step.

    I heard screams from the house, and the voice of mother as she tried to soothe the little ones. Soon I saw father run out into the yard, brandishing an old sword and a torch. He yelled at the giant, demanding that it leave, but the brute only laughed, a deep but feminine laugh. With surprising swiftness, it suddenly leaned forward and swatted father with a huge hand, and he flew off into the night without a sound. The giant shook with laughter again, the waves of sound breaking over the house like thunder, and began its steady march toward the structure.

    It was my quick thinking that saved me then. I finally tore myself away from the scene in the window and ran downstairs. I could still hear the wails of my younger siblings and the comforting tones of my mother, but they seemed distant and unreal somehow. Nothing seemed real except for the looming footsteps of the giant. It was very close now; I would not be able to get away from the house in time, so I ran to the kitchen and climbed into the heavy iron cauldron, curling into a fetal position with my arms held above my head.

    A crash echoed through the air then, accompanied by the terrible screaming of the wooden timbers as the house died. My arms were struck by falling dust and chunks of debris and the air grew stale as the building was crushed down on top of me and I took only short gasps of air so that I would not suffocate. Eventually the clamor died down and was replaced once more by booming footfalls that gradually receded into the distance.

    When at last I felt it safe enough I dug my way free from the rubble and collapsed in the fields, weeping and crying until I passed out from shock and exhaustion. The next morning I rose and beheld the full extent of the ruin the giant left in its wake. (pic 5) I dug hopelessly at the rubble near the bedrooms, crying out to my mother and siblings, but knowing in my heart that it was unlikely anyone else had survived. My worst fears were confirmed hours later when I found their crushed bodies.

    Again I was gripped by the sensation that none of this was real, that I was living in a nightmare and would awake soon. In a daze I wandered the fields until I found the body of my father laying where it had fallen, his head twisted at an unnatural angle and his chest caved in. I wanted to weep again, to rail against cruel fate and shake my fist against the heavens, but I knew that it would accomplish nothing. Instead I gathered up his sword, though it had done him little good, and removed a silver ring decorated with flowing foreign script from his right hand, placing it upon my own. The ring was a family heirloom and would probably turn out to be more useful than the dulled and pitted sword.

    I spent the rest of the day dragging father’s body back to the remains of the house and salvaging the few supplies that survived its destruction. As night fell I placed my father’s body in the wreckage with the rest of my family and set the timbers ablaze. I turned and walked away from the funeral pyre, praying for my family’s souls and swearing vengeance against the giant. Its tracks were easy to follow and I walked until sleep overtook me, falling to the trail and sleeping on the ground where I lay.

    I don’t know how long I trailed the giant in this dreamlike state, waking each day and walking mile after mile, stopping only to eat, relieve myself, and sleep. A fever took me and I raved incoherently to the phantoms of my family, lost in wild hallucinations and oblivious to the actual world around me. Perhaps the rest of my story is just a fever dream, but I am not convinced.

    When I regained my senses I was in a broken land. The ground was stony and cracked by lack of moisture, barren of life save for a few scraggly plants that dotted the ground. It seemed the same in every direction, just parched and broken earth stretching out to the horizon. I wandered aimlessly through this desert and presently came across a dark skinned man kneeling on the ground and gathering the sickly plants. (pic 1) He smiled and waved me near as soon as he spotted me, and somehow I knew that he had been waiting for me.

    I halted before him. “Hello,” I greeted. “What are you doing out here?”

    He shrugged. “Waiting for you, I believe. Why are you in this forsaken land?”

    “If you are waiting for me then you must know that already,” I said, confused.

    “Ah, but I can not be sure you are the one I am waiting for unless I know why you have come.”

    That made sense to me, but I hesitated a moment longer before blurting out, “I follow a wicked giant. She slaughtered my family and destroyed my home and I have sworn to kill her.

    “I seem to have lost the trail,” I finished, frowning.

    He nodded, “Then you are the one I was expecting. Follow me.” He pulled one last plant free from the earth and started walking away. I fell in behind him and we walked in silence until we reached a stone house built in the middle of the broken plain. We entered the house together and he pointed to several cushions scattered on the floor. I sat and watched as he built a fire and placed a pot of water over it to boil. Next he lay the plants upon a broad, flat stone and began to crush them with a fist-sized rock, scraping the pulp and juices into the pot. As he worked he began to speak.

    “This land was not always the shattered plain you find yourself in now. Long ago it was a fertile and beautiful place. My people lived in happiness upon the natural wealth of the land... until the giant came.

    “The giant lives in a vast and plentiful realm herself, but in her greed she would take what she does not own, and destroy what she could not take. Thus it was with our land. My people would never serve her, nor would they agree to abandon their lands to her, so she used her magical powers to keep the rain from our soil. Our rivers and lakes dried up, the plants died, and the animals fled. Soon the people left as well, until only I remained. It has been twenty years and not a drop of rain has fallen since the giant cursed us.

    “I stubbornly refused to flee, swearing my own oath of vengeance against the giant. I dreamed that one day another would come after the giant, someone with the strength and ability to gain entry to her fortress, but who would need a weapon capable of slaying her.”

    The concoction in the pot had by this time boiled down to a thick liquid that he poured into an empty bottle. He corked the bottle securely and handed it to me, continuing, “This is that weapon. If you can get the giant to consume this potion she will at long last pay for her crimes.”

    I spent the night with the strange man in his home before setting out again. His final instructions repeated in my head as I fell into step, “Head north from here until you find yourself in a lush and fertile land again. Find the river and follow it to a tall rock spire towering over the landscape. Climb to the very top and you will find a circular depression; stand in it and speak a certain word and you will be instantly transported to the giant’s fortress.” He leaned forward and whispered the word to me then, forcing me to repeat it until he was sure that I had it right, then he wished me luck in my quest and sent me on my way.

    I was taken by delirium once more as I traveled northward and again I lost track of the passage of time. It seemed like weeks passed by and yet I know that it could only have been a couple of days, but eventually I felt the air change and noticed more and more plantlife eking out an existence in the rocky plain. Soon after I found the river the old man had spoken of and in the distance I saw the natural rock tower. However, a settlement lay between my goal and me, and as I drew closer and closer I saw that it was a village of trolls.

    Luckily I had not forgotten about my father’s ring or its powers. I concentrated upon activating it and felt my skin tingle as it changed color and shade to blend me perfectly into my surroundings. I crept slowly through the village this way, hugging the walls and inching my way to the other side. (pic 2) In this way I made it through the village and had started to climb the spire long before the trolls detected my presence. The sight of half a dozen trolls charging towards me howling blood curdling cries spurred me into action and I climbed as I had never climbed before, easily beating the enraged trolls to the summit. (pic 4)

    I found the depression the man had described and stood within, speaking the word he had made me memorize so carefully. Instantly I felt a gut wrenching sensation and the world blurred before my eyes as my world was turned inside out. I awoke several moments later and found myself at the top of an immense staircase, directly in front of two gigantic wooden doors. I wriggled under the crack beneath the doors and found myself within a palace of epic proportions, everything as you would expect to find it within a normal castle but built for occupants forty feet tall.

    I wandered through this vast place until I heard the sounds of its occupant. Making sure to activate the magical ring again, I rounded a corner and beheld a cavernous dining hall. A colossal golden-haired woman wearing a horned helmet sat in one of the huge chairs placed around the table, noisily feasting upon the remains of some large beast and washing her meal down with a flagon of ale.

    I moved to the other end of the table and started ascending its leg. My progress felt agonizingly slow, but I eventually achieved the tabletop before the giant had finished her meal. Carefully maintaining my disguise and dodging from cover to cover, I gradually drew close to the brute. With one last burst of speed I ran to her mug and hid behind it, retrieving the bottle the old man had given me and unstopping it. Murmuring a quick prayer that the giant would not notice the tiny bottle in her drink, I threw the bottle and watched as it disappeared over the lip of the flagon.

    I threw myself flat and crawled behind a gigantic salt shaker then as the giant reached down and picked up the mug of ale. I watched with growing satisfaction as she tilted her head back and drank long and deep from the cup. If the old man had been correct, she had just drank more than enough to complete the task.

    The giant placed the mug back upon the table and let out a deep, satisfied belch. Suddenly, a strange expression came over her and she tilted her head far to the side, sinking her teeth deep into her own shoulder and tearing free a great chunk of flesh! Blood ran freely from the wound and from her mouth, but she chewed with relish, a strange tittering laugh escaping her lips. (pic 3) After she swallowed she brought her other arm to her mouth, this time biting off a large portion of her wrist and severing several important blood vessels. She continued to laugh louder and louder with each following bite, until she finally slumped in her chair and ceased moving.

    I stayed in my hiding place, rooted to the spot with sick fascination as the giant tore herself apart before my eyes. A great weight lifted from me as I watched her movements cease and came to the realization that my enemy was dead. I spent the next few days exploring the rest of the castle. The giant had a large number of slaves and I informed them of their newly won freedom, and in turn they led me to the treasure hoard the brute had collected over the years.

    I selected a few choice pieces to keep for myself and let the freed slaves keep the rest in exchange for directions back to the broken plain. I bid them farewell and departed soon after, making my way over the next few weeks back to the desolate land where I had met my strange benefactor. A heavy rain was falling on the earth and the first signs of plant life were bursting through the tortured ground, and I knew that the news I brought with me had already been delivered.

  • #263
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    Speaker vs. Sniktch

    There is a simple expression in physical activity. The body is forced to cope with rigours beyond the norm. Fingers strain with focused energy, then radiate pain as sores begin to open, then go numb and rigid. Feet ache from constant pressure. Eventually, the mind is unshackled from the body, and is free to loose itself as the body continues to move.

    Throughout the years of quick training and sudden conflict, I have come to enjoy climbing. The same is not true of my mentor and partner, Pual. Looking over my right shoulder, I can see him grimly applying himself to the cliff face with a fierce intensity. I almost think he would rather reach the top and what is waiting there for us then remain clutching to the cold hard stone of this up thrust mesa. His leathery skin contrasts with his wiry ease, he manoeuvres his body to best reach the next upward point, ever ascending in tandem with myself. Pual is about half again as old as I am, my thirty-five to his sixty-five, but he doesn’t show it.

    Below us, the other teams follow our trail. Someone watching from a distance would see us as tiny specks of colour slowly seeping up the rock face. Hand over hand. One arm length at a time.

    (Insert “Climbing” picture)

    There is a reason why Pual and I are first. Together, ignoring pain and weariness, we are nearly silent as we reach the top. Pual rests briefly on a outcropping, flexing his fingers. He motions carefully, and our long time together allows me to understand the movements of his body as clearly as speech. He wants me to skirt the cliff to the left, and then come up as he does. I work my way in the indicated direction, nod at him. My hands and feet pump in final effort, and I hurl myself upward over the cliff edge.

    From the top the view is breathtaking. In a moment I take in the river snaking down below, the sparse vegetation. Before I get the full chance to absorb the view, I am forced to reality by the presence of our objective.

    Perched upon the edge of the cliff opposite from me she sits. The last of her kind in this time. She whistles a truly unnerving tune, but the wind snatches it from her and flings it away from the mesa edge before I catch more then a strain. I glance at the rocky lip where Pual was supposed to have surmounted, but he is not there.

    “This time or another, you will not win.” The female says, still looking away. She is wearing a period costume, Viking-esque. Most of her kind hold onto their original timeline with such reminders. This particular outfit is gaudy, includes a chain hanging down the back, of all things.

    “This time or another, you will not win.” She says again, and turns to face me. Her mouth leaks blood. That is a good sign. She is stressed, preparing for sudden movement, and reacting as her species is wont under such conditions.

    This warning is sufficient, and I am prepared as she throws herself clear across the breadth of the mesa rock, hands outstretched towards my throat. I dodge backwards, and foolishly trip over a jutting stone, falling pathetically in her path. She leaps upon me, in all likelihood she means to rip out my throat or snap my neck. I try and roll, but her arms are unnaturally strong. She holds me down, and prepares for the kill.

    Then there is a loud noise, the sensation of movement. The creature’s left arm explodes. She rears up, chains flying, golden breastplate sodden with fresh blood. There is another crash, another unseen projectile, and she arches back. Her bloody mouth smiles, ignoring her pain. “This time or another, you will not win.” She whispers thickly, and falls over. Dead.

    (Insert “Weird bloody girl picture”)

    I see Pual before me, hands upraised and still glowing from the release of energy. He frowns for a moment, then bends over and funnels the unspent energy remnants into the ground.

    “Does this mean were done here?” I ask, gasping for breath. I am still high on adrenaline, but I know that soon that surge will falter, and every ache I now feel will hit me with full force. I am not looking forward to that moment.

    “Yes. We are done in this time. Now we must move on to the next.”

    I groan. Truth to tell, after five years of training and fifteen more of hunting, I had hoped for a little rest.

    A hunter never receives rest while there is still prey to catch. In this time or another.

    ------------------------

    There is one more thing we must do before leaving this time. We must speak with the oracle.

    Two flights, four days, and much aching later, Pual and I arrive at our destination, a sprawling city of ancient buildings mixed with modern architecture. We rent a small little car and head downtown, into the older sections in which the occasional ruin of pre-war buildings still stand, albeit in several different pieces. One of these pieces holds a special significance for the hunters we are. Of brick construction, overlaid by a now faded wash and graced with ancient wire boxes, this wall serves as the home for the oracle. It has for nearly eighty years, I am told. Put up when war talk was still an undercurrent of society, and not yet the destructive conflict nobody could have imagined. Here was where the first victim of the otherworlders fell into death, and in so doing became a spirit. Granted wisdom and insight, she now waits within the wall, dispensing lore to those that hunt her dispatchers through time.

    As we get out of the car and approach, the wall bends outwards to meet us. The form of a women, trapped in brick and plaster residue. Waiting. Trapped forever. I cannot imagine her plight.

    (Insert “Wall Women” picture)

    “Pual…Apprentice. I am glad to see you. Now. What about the reverse? Time?”

    “Yes, Oracle. When is the next outbreak occurrence?” Pual, straight to the point as usual.

    “Always so very. Quick.” The oracle sighs. It resonates much like the rattle of a tile, falling down a roof full of its fellows. A very unnerving sound. “I much prefer talking to your master, when his time comes.”

    While I have little idea what she is speaking of, I have to chuckle at Pual’s discomfort. “Forgive me. I am merely nervous about the reverse.” He eventually replies.

    “Of course, forgive me for prolonging your. Time.” The oracle fades back into the wall. Just as I thought that she was gone sulking, the wall burst outward again. “The next outbreak will occur in forty. Years. Ten. Months. Five. Days. Recommended reverse; thirty. Years. Five. Months. Allow for extra. Training. You will need. Time. The others will. Follow.”

    “Extra training Pual?” I enquire, setting up for a joke about old men fit for retirement. Both Pual and the oracle turn their eyes towards me and do not speak. I find their combined stare most unnerving. The oracle in particular can stare unabashedly with brick red eyes for long moments without blinking, encouraging watery eyes within seconds. I blinked rapidly, turned to avoid her gaze and focus on Pual.

    “You will see.” He says, leaving my question hanging. I hate it when Pual does that.

    ----------------------

    The oracle next revealed the “where” of the matter, without which the “when” would not be of much use. That meant that Pual and I had to go flying again. Planes are convenient, planes are relatively safe, but not all that comfortable. Then it was a three-day trip by bus and car to the edge of the Northern wastelands. No other place on the planet is quite the same. At the border you see the ultimate dichotomy, life against death, as the wastes creep ever southward year by year into the prosperous croplands. How green fields and barren land can exist within miles of each other is beyond me.

    We stood in one of the bordering green fields, the bulk of a huge farmstead dominated the scene. The field grew right up to its tattered remains in orderly rows, as if reluctant to leave the carefully tilled soil of the long departed farmer. This was no coincidence. I now knew why the oracle had sent us here. Ritual power lay in the land, the last gasp it held before the waste advanced further giving it strength unmatched.

    (Insert “collapsed house in field” picture)

    Pual seems nervous. He paces. Pacing is a bad sign in my book. Action without purpose, undirected, often motivated by some inner conflict.

    “What’s wrong?” I ask.

    “Reverse timing.” He barks. Terse, just like normal.

    I press the conversation forward weaving around his blunted rebuttal. “From what you have told me, reverse timing merely jumps us forward over the years. It works, and all the hunters use it. What are you worried about?”

    “Worried? Pah.” He dismisses the idea solidly.

    I return to my silence. Pual does not often talk until he wants to. I was willing to wait. This being my first time to travel by reverse timing, I was not in a hurry for the experience.

    “Remember when we first met?” Pual asks, abruptly.

    “Is this a relationship question? I am not too good at those.” I reply. I earn a scowl in response. Pual continues pacing. I decide to act my age for a minute and give a real answer. “I was a total amnesiac. We were on a dusty road together; I didn’t know you or where I was, or even who I was. You took pity on me”, I say this with a sardonic grin, “Taught me how to hunt outsiders, and that’s what we’ve been doing for the past twenty years.”

    Pual nods. Paces. Then he plants his feet and heaves a big sigh. Not a good sign. Pual never sighs. “No time like the present.” Says he. I groan, and he smiles…an uncharacteristic fissure cutting across his face.

    I stand up to begin, my mind searching back for the words and gestures necessary to send us forward in time. But Pual looks at me and shakes his head. “Unlike most of the powerful magic we’ve done together, my friend, this one is done solo. You’ll have your chance yet.”

    I am thoroughly confused. Rituals require energy, and the bigger and more blended the ritual, the higher the potency. I had expected to pour quite a bit of myself into this one. It was not a question of training—like all the rituals, I knew the reverse time one inside and out, never mind that I had never used it. But I had to assume Paul knew what he was doing by asking me to sit out.

    I pick up a narrow sprig of ripening grain and placed it between my teeth in feign indifference as Pual closes his eyes and began to concentrate.

    Time passed. Normal time, I mean, not the years we were about to traverse. “Are we there yet?” I whine in my best high-pitched nasal tone.

    “It has begun.” Pual says, and opens his eyes. His cheeks are flushed, and he nearly collapses.

    Before I can say another word, there is a sudden change in the environment. The sky becomes a blur as the sun and clouds race overhead and scar tracks across the sky. The stalk in my lips curls into itself, turns an unhealthy black, and then crumbles into dust.

    Pual stiffens and slumps to the ground. He grasps a hand full of the larger field stalks, which immediately accelerate towards decay, leaving a green stain on his hand. Pual does not notice. He slumps forward onto the ground.

    As I rush towards him, time swirls. The fields ripen, and then collapse as dry winter comes the cycle repeats again and again. The space of five years passes in the time it takes for me to lift Pual to his knees. The fields continue their seasonal converson, but the order they display begins to fall apart. Something is happening.

    “Pual?” I ask. A dozen brief lightning storms spawn and vent their fury.

    “I am conscious.” He replies. “Help me to my feet.”

    I lift him up. He looks around, and so do I. The field life is nearly extinguished. The abandoned house has nearly finished falling completely apart. Although I do not feel it, I am sure that a hot wind is blowing from the north almost constantly. Fewer clouds drift through the sky. Pual lowers his head, and then turns to me.

    “Understand this. The Pual you know is about to cease to exist, as surely as the waste will come this way.”

    “What do you mean?” I ask, as the sun begins to shine near constantly and the ground begins to harden beneath my feet.

    “Your amnesia… will now be mine. No ritual could throw two beings forward into the future without a price…” His voice fades, and he shrugs off my hands.

    Cracks are beginning to form in the ground. The sun beats down upon us. How many years have passed already? Twenty? Thirty?

    “What do you mean?” I whisper harshly. Although I as yet feel no heat, I have the urge to lick my lips thoroughly as the cracks in the ground begin to harden into solid rigidity. The mark of the waste.

    Pual reaches down and tears apart a handful of soil. He rubs this between his hands, as if trying to remove the stain of green from those long lost plants. He wipes his face, and the soil follows his hand. His appearance is now wild. He does not look like the Pual I know.

    He turns back to me and reaches out his hand. I then begin to see the price he spoke of.

    (Insert “Man in the dust” picture)

    He looks younger, much younger. Thin as a rail, his mouth drawn over with fine white dust. “To reverse time, I must give up years of my life… and all the memories those years contain. And a little more. I shall become as you were twenty years ago. Unable to recall my own name. Not knowing our mission. You will have to teach me.”

    I now know the truth. “This has happened before, hasn’t it? That’s where I come from? I once gave my life for the same cause?”

    Pual nods. That is all he has to do.

    I have no time to dwell on my new situation. Time is beginning to restore itself to normal speed. I can feel it now, in the back of my head. The sun is beginning to slow its burning progress across the sky. I begin to feel the heat of the sky and the ground pressing towards me. Pual senses this too. He reaches up and pulls me towards him. “Continue the cycle, my new master. For in five years we must hunt.”

    And so we will.

  • #264
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    wowza!

    you guys rock!

    2 great stories, makes all the time and coordination worth while

    before the judgements i wanna say thanks to all who played, watched and judged....this can be a minor hasle, and you folks make it pay off every time, thanks.

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    wow great stories both!!!!

    You both out done yourself!



    Ill send my verdict in a second.
    So many games, so little time!

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    Just wondering what the word on Arwink is. Arwink, I know you're busy so take your time; I'm just moving this thread up to the top while trying to contain my anxiety

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    Originally posted by Sniktch
    Just wondering what the word on Arwink is. Arwink, I know you're busy so take your time; I'm just moving this thread up to the top while trying to contain my anxiety
    you were literally 30 seconds ahead of em old man!

    arwink did call ahead and say he may take till monday, but remember, that is our sunday

  • #268
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    Snitkch: Good job! As scary as it sounds, that's almost exactly the story I was thinking about. Mine wouldn't have had the teleportation in it, but...very nice! Give's "self-obsessed" a whole new meaning.

    and Speaker: Holy cow, but that's good. The imagery of the "reverse time" will stick in my brain for quite awhile now.

    I'll hold any other comments (apreciated, or otherwise) until after the judges have weighed in.
    - Nail

    Last edited by Nail: Today....just a few minutes ago

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    Originally posted by Nail

    I'll hold any other comments (apreciated, or otherwise) until after the judges have weighed in.
    my judgement is done, i have maldurs, and i do not think arwink is the type to have his literary criticisms swayed by the masses, comment away

  • #270
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    Originally posted by alsih2o
    my judgement is done, i have maldurs, and i do not think arwink is the type to have his literary criticisms swayed by the masses, comment away
    Ditto. I always appreciate feedback

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