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Saturday, 19th April, 2003, 09:36 PM #91
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
1st matchup completed, well, judges are tinkering
Saturday, 19th April, 2003, 11:07 PM #92
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
- Join Date
- Jan 2002
- Ahhh, Barsoom...
- Read 0 Reviews
ø Block barsoomcore
yo mystraschosen -- it's in the judges' hands now. Your story looks darn good to me and I don't know that typos are going to decide the issue...
Roman names are fun. Hooray!
At least we both finished on time and with respectable entries. Yay us.
Sunday, 20th April, 2003, 01:03 AM #93
Novice (Lvl 1)
My entry - unnamed
Treffin balanced his fighting knife by the point of its blade on the palm of his hand. It was a trick that he had almost completely perfected and he used it frequently to exude an air of professional indifference; the look of a competent mercenary too experienced to be surprised by anything and only interested in his own aptitude with weapons. At least that was how it had looked to Treffin when he’d seen a mercenary sergeant doing it last summer in the taproom of the Crofter’s Rest. Treffin had been so impressed he’d bought himself a similar dagger from a tinker at the next market day and had spent the winter teaching himself the trick. He felt it made him look very calm and competent, and he only cut himself very infrequently nowadays.
Not that the sage he was working for would likely have noticed, even if Treffin cut his own hand right off. The small, skinny man with the sparse white beard and grizzled face spent the whole day bent over flowers, while Treffin stood guard against wild animals or monsters. It was Treffin’s first real job as a mercenary and while he was glad to be paid, he had no idea it would be so boring. He was to keep watch at the head of the field while the sage danced about from flower to flower, seeking out what he called the Mickelmas bee, which the sage claimed should frequent the flowers of fields like this one.
Treffin had never heard of the Mickelmas bee before the sage had hired him, but he now knew how the species differed from the regular honey bee, how rare the species was and how the jelly from the insect’s hive was an important ingredient for several rare alchemical recipes. The young mercenary had not wanted to learn all these details, but having spent day after day listening to the sage’s expostulations, Treffin was sure that he could easily pick a Mickelmas bee from a hundred paces. In fact the bee that had landed on a nearby flower was almost certainly was a Mickelmas. Treffin called the sage.
“Oh well done,” said the sage, leaning close to study the bee as it walked across the heavily pollen-covered flower. “This is exactly what I’m looking for. Now I’ll try and find the hive.”
“I should charge you extra, for this,” said Treffin. He was well satisfied with the price he’d originally negotiated, but he’d heard that experienced mercenaries always keep an eye out for extra payment. The sage wasn’t interested.
Instead he handed his mercenary guard the empty water skin and said, “Be a good lad and refill this in the grotto while I look for the hive.”
Treffin wanted to protest, but realized that his own skin needed refilling, since he’d drunk it dry over the course of the morning. He took the sage’s skin and headed up over the shoulder of the mountain.
The grotto was a deep fissure in the dark basalt of the mountain rock. From a thin crack about half way up the north wall of the fissure an underground river cascaded to a pool at the grotto’s bottom. The water’s dark surface was in constant motion, and the steep fissure walls kept the whole area cool and in shadow.
Treffin made his way down the rough-hewn path in the grotto wall, heading towards the pool. He was becoming increasingly resentful at being treated like the sage’s lackey and he was certain that no truly professional mercenary would settle for such treatment. As he worked his way down he muttered to himself; “I should definitely charge extra for this.”
Treffin was almost to the narrow pebbled beach at the bottom of the grotto, when he heard the sound of weeping. No more than twenty paces away, sitting at the water’s edge, was a woman. She was facing the water, her long black hair cascading down her back in lustrous waves. Her skin was the color of honey. As near as Treffin could make out, she was completely naked and the sound of her crying carried even over the noise of the falling water. Nearly irresistible visions filled Treffin’s mind; of damsels in distress, being rescued in a proficient, military manner by young mercenaries out for glory and pay, but not above the occasional act of chivalry. He raced across the pebbles, casting down the water skins as he ran.
“Tell me, m’lady,” he called out, trying to sound calm and confident. “What troubles you?”
“The beauty and succulence of youth,” came the woman’s reply, with a voice that sounded like bones cracking against the rocks of a fast flowing river.
Treffin recoiled in horror as the ‘woman’ turned to face him. The honey colored skin sloughed off like an old cloak, revealing a warty green hide. The hair transformed into a tangled, black mat, like rotting swamp grass. The creature’s face was dominated by long hooked nose and her eyes were blacker than the depths of the grotto pool.
“Such a pleasure to entertain so juicy a meal,” the monster said, her breath stinking like slime. Her long, bony arm shot out and grasped Treffin by the throat. He tried to struggle, but the creature’s grip was stronger than deep current and she was inexorably choking the breath from his lungs. He reached for his dagger, but the blinding pain in his head was too much and the blade slipped from his grip. Blackness, like the darkness of the deep pool, rose up in his eyes as he began to feel himself pass out.
From above the contending pair came the sound of arcane language, invoking magic older than the dawn of time. A bolt of eldritch energy, a lightning bolt of emerald and gold, arced downward and struck the monster fair in the chest. Treffin staggered back, released from the creature’s grip. He gasped loudly, sucking in sweet, fresh air. The green-skinned monster screamed in pain and frustration as, high above, the sage intoned another spell. The monster tried to flee towards the safety of the pool, but the sage’s magic struck it down before it could take even a step, and it fell, dead, across the rocks.
Treffin could hear the swift sounds of the sage’s footsteps as he rubbed his sore neck and tried to clear his vision. “Thank you,” he started to say, when he realized that the sage had run straight past him to the body of the monster. He slowly levered himself off the pebbles and staggered over.
“A river hag,” said the sage, his delight obvious. “This is an excellent find, my boy. Do you have any idea what I can do with the skin alone? Then there’s the teeth; the bones; I think I even have a use for the eyes!”
“Lots of alchemical recipes?” asked Treffin.
“Oh yes, rare ones. River hag ingredients are especially difficult to come by.”
“Right,” said Treffin, looking for his dagger. “I’ll have to charge you extra for this then.”
Sunday, 20th April, 2003, 04:27 AM #94
Gallant (Lvl 3)
I sent my judgments to Mark for both of the rounds that have been completed so far. How's that for being ainti-mirthcard?
Sunday, 20th April, 2003, 08:29 AM #95
Novice (Lvl 1)
Sniktch vs. Speaker
‘Long have we fought, you and I. Always waging warfare, subtly twisting the others plans. At long last, our battle will end. Ours champion approaches your domain, and we will do battle. But now we shall play for stakes so great that when this game draws to an end, there is only one victor.
‘That, I promise.’
“Incredible. Just what we were expecting, and yet still a blow.” Wen heard Fell say as he came up alongside. She turned to look at the mage, peered into the dark red depths of his cloak, and then glanced out at the mighty expanse of snow and hoarfrost before them.
Fell heard her unvoiced scepticism.
“This winter will not last, Wen. With every step I take into this wasteland, the ice witch loses power and the snow will melt away. I assure you, this land will never again go without warmth.”
Wen turned back to the cold, shuddered. “I hope so.”
‘See a vision of the future, my queen.’
A picture forms in the air, of a knight in red and blue, young and with a smile upon her face.
The woman is not alone. Behind her there are two nearly indistinct figures. Over one shoulder -- a being of heat, fire so hot it burns white and with a brilliance not unlike the sun. Over the other – a being of cold, a chill so great that no light escapes, and there is only utter darkness.
‘She must choose between us, my queen. Between summer and winter.’
(Insert ‘Knight and her companions’ picture)
She held herself still, training her sharp eyes ahead. At first, her vision was hampered by the bright sheen thrown off the glacial white ground, but slowly her eyes adjusted and the truth of the situation became apparent to her. The snow was coming alive. Slowly, very slowly, the ground was moving as the sun began to accomplish something it had not achieved in months – the melting of the waste.
“The winter is about to break.” Fell noted. “Look, there.”
Wen saw them at the same moment. Two great white bears off in the distance, frolicking in the snow. No, not snow. Bare ground, with stubborn tufts of old grass within. With powerful muscles, the two beasts reared up to playfully strike one another, heedless to the changing world about them. Wen frowned. “They don’t belong here. We are almost half a world away from the northern ice isles.”
“They are the ice queen’s pets. We will have to skirt wide around them, in case they alert their mistress of our coming.” So saying, Fell started to walk once more, heading on a path that would take him away from the bears and yet still towards the centre of the ice kingdom they sought. Wen took one last look at the bears, and then turned to follow the red cloaked mage.
Behind them, the white servants of the ice queen played on, enjoying the light and the cooling winds.
(Insert ‘Playing polar bears’ picture)
‘I am here. Show yourself.’
Wen entered the ancient square carefully, alert for any sign of danger, sword held firmly in hand.
The palace they sought loomed before them, a massive construction in the midst of the mixed spring and winter that characterized the clash of powers now taking place. The building had a faded look, made of stone and worn mortar, a bastion that time wore at ceaselessly. Dilapidated pillars held onto the cobblestones with tired resolve, and the flagstones Fell had nearly collapsed upon seemed on the verge of self-destruction.
Water ran about everywhere as snow and ice continued to melt.
It was then that Wen realized that she Fell was not following her. She turned about and saw him. He was not alone.
“You have come far to face me, you and your friend.” Sneered the white woman, whom Fell faced, her stark features and black clothing the definition of contrast. “Before you strike me down, perhaps you might want to know the true nature of your travelling companion?”
Wen glanced at Fell with some measure of confusion at her travelling companion. “What does she mean?”
The red robed mage smirked, his powerful features still as he stares at the ice queen they have travelled so far to face. “I have no idea…”
“I will tell her.” The white queen spits out in rage. “You have seen how he melts my creation, how he challenges my power. No mortal could do what he does. He and I are no different. But where I am a creature of cold and ice, he is a being of fire and heat. You came here to destroy me, but you would put up another tyrant if you replaced me with him.”
Abruptly Wen found herself caught within a vision, in which the ice covered lands she had so recently travelled through were suddenly smothered in smoke. Fires burned without cease on the hill slops, and ash filled the skies.
(Insert ‘Smoking Hills’ picture)
“Is this what you sought?” the woman laughed, and her voice was chill.
Wen turned to Fell, and asked simply “Is this so?”
Fell smiled, although it was a smile of strain, and his gaze never left the eyes of the Ice Queen. “I will not lie to you, Wen. I am a being of fire – who better to fight one of ice? – And my victory is not without a cost. But where cold may hold a land in sway forever, heat is a passing thing. When the fires burn out, the land will grow again. The ashes will feed the soil, and the plants will come quickly. For fire holds some power of growth. Watch.”
With that, the red mage shifted his gaze upward for a moment. In that instant, the air twisted with heat, and vines sprouted from the pillars about the ice queen, surrounding her with flowering roses and green leaves.
(Insert ‘Roses and the Queen’ picture)
The Ice Queen laughed. “Growth through death. As if he was alone in that power. I am winter. I come every year to many lands, and yet I still depart freely, leaving room for life. You see, I too can create new life out of death.” And she too moved her vision, and the flagstones about Fell parted as an equally luxuriant bed of roses grew about him.
“You must destroy her now.” Said Fell. “She and I are locked in combat, but we are equals. Neither of us dares move, lest the other gain some opening. That is why I brought you, so that you might strike for me at this moment, and free this land from the Ice Queen.”
Wen looked about her. She gazed at the sky, with the sun up high, beating down on the snow. She looked at the water running through the square, through the myriad cracks in the paving stones. She remembered the playful bears.
She turned to the two immortals, locked in battle, both of which would never break free themselves, for fear of losing to the other. Had they really thought that she could choose between two such alternatives?
Then to her suprise, she found she could.
“My decision is made.” She said.
Then she turned. And smiled. And walked away.
Sunday, 20th April, 2003, 08:34 AM #96
Novice (Lvl 1)
...And that's it.
I told myself that whatever I had by 12 o' the clock, I would post. Then midnight rolled around, and I still wasn't satisfied, so I gave myself another hour.
I am still not satisfied, and I do not think I would be short of a complete overhual and a rewrite... but I have a long drive to undertake early tommorow, and I need to get to sleep... now.
Silly me, leaving things to the last minute .
I look forward to seeing what you put up, Sniktch.
Sunday, 20th April, 2003, 08:45 AM #97
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Here is my submission - only hours before the deadline, I know... (busy weekend!)
It is my honor to submit this accounting of the events of my recent experience, as requested by your humble servant the Lord Knight of Verithress, Inquisitor of Siell, Our Deliverer, Light of All Creation. Enclosed you will find a number of illustrations that have been prepared at my request and with my supervision, each detailing a relevant detail of the events proclaimed herein. It is my hope that you will find these accountings to address and disprove the charges levied against me by His Holiness, the Bishop. If, however, it is your finding that my actions are deserving of censure, I shall immediately and assuredly submit myself for judgement, in accord with the Sacred Writ.
In Eternal Service to Our Deliverer;
Lerien Steelboure, Holy Paladin of Siell
It was nine days ago that I encountered the strange insect-like creature called Tikakrak upon the road between the High City of Ilradian and the port of Silverwind Bay. He lay by the side of the road, grievously injured and without awareness. I discerned no evil upon him, and so in accord with the Sacred Writ, I acted to heal his injuries, in the name of Siell. Upon recovering consciousness, he identified himself as an adventuring minstrel of the Thri-kreen, and did relate to me his tale.
A well-armed force of bandits, robbed and wounded, and left for dead had waylaid him. He was well informed regarding the activity of these bandits, and did provide me with much useful information. Particularly did he stress the need to recover an ancient and magical relic stolen by these rogues - an instrument named Sirithaene, of which I have provided an illustration. By his accounting, I determined that this relic should not be left in the hands of villains, and I swore to find the bandits and retrieve Sirithaene. After accompanying Tikakrak to an inn in the High City, I did go to the fortress there and request the aid of a force of clerics and holy warriors in seeking out the bandits and bringing them to justice. It is from this that the charges of the Lord Knight of Verithress stem, as I will explain.
Sidebar Sirithaene This intelligent double-necked lute was formed from precious metals and rare woods, and infused with the spirits of two fallen dragons who had died defending an elven stronghold from a force of fiends. A master bard working in concert with an ancient elven sorcerer created the lute as a gift for his four-armed student, a rare Thri-kreen bard. Over two centuries, the lute has been passed down through seven generations of Thri-kreen adventurers, and now belongs to the traveling bard Tikakrak. Sirithaene is a powerful relic, vastly aiding its possessors Bardic Knowledge ability, and telepathically warding him against danger, among other abilities.
Further questioning revealed that Wurgorn's lair was hidden beyond a mystical portal deep in the foothills. After the remainder of the bandits were captured, I and the clerics with me tended the wounds of those who had ridden into battle with us, and I detailed a number of them to escort the fallen and our prisoners back to the High City. The remainder of our number pressed on into the foothills, in search of the portal Corcair had described. Another two days passed before we located the portal - of which an illustration is provided. We made camp that eve and prepared ourselves to assault the wizard's lair upon the morn.
The following day, we passed beyond the portal. We found ourselves within a mountain stronghold, deep beneath the earth. It was a foul and treacherous labyrinth, stocked with many traps and guarded by strange and deformed creatures from beyond the grave, and our progress was most arduous. We carried with us the blessing of Our Deliverer, however, and by the grace of Siell, we were able to eventually penetrate the heart of the dungeon. It is there that we finally encountered the most wicked and abominable creature in the enclosed illustration, which did call itself Wurgorn.
Sidebar The Deformed Halfling Lich, Wurgorn Born with a hideously oversized head, Wurgorn was once a halfling known as Durgann. He was gifted with incredible intelligence, but persecuted for his terrible deformity. Over time, Durgann became resentful and bitter, and in time he fled his community to pursue the path of dark magics, by which means he would earn the respect that his superior intellect was due. Over time, he became irrevocably corrupted by the increasingly evil powers he sought, and eventually he became quite mad. Returning to his former home, he used his dark magics to kill or capture all those who had once scorned him. The survivors he performed magical transformations upon, eventually twisting and deforming them far in excess of his own malformations. He then used them to explore the dread realm of undeath, eventually unlocking the secrets of lichdom. He transformed himself accordingly, and now seeks to master magics that can pervert and deform the living on a mass scale. He works with numerous bands of pirates and bandits, providing them with magical support in return for the monies needed to further his research.
Thus does the Lord Knight charge me with abandoning a sworn quest, with cowardly flight from duty, and with abandoning the fallen bodies of my comrades. Therefore, upon his suggestion, I have prepared this letter in my defense, and submitted myself to Your Worship for judgement in the eyes of Siell. It is my hope that having read this account, Your Worship will understand that the circumstances surrounding my failure did dictate that I could not have acted in any other fashion, lest my own death ensue.
I ask only that you consider these experiences, and that you judge my plight in the wisdom of Siell, Our Deliverer, the Light of All Creation.
Prepared by my own hand, before witnesses and under the Eye of Truth, on this Eleventh day of Highmoon, in this, the Forty Third Year of His Holy Eminence. In Eternal Service to Our Deliverer;
Lerien Steelboure, Holy Paladin of Siell
Illustration One: Lerien's Capture by Corcair
Illustration Two: The Enchanted Lute, Sirithaene
Illustration Three: The Portal to Wurgorn's Dungeon
Illustration Four: The Deformed Halfing Lich, Wurgorn
Sunday, 20th April, 2003, 09:03 AM #98
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Whew. Well, that was fun. Looking back, I find one particular oversight and I curse my spellcheck software for its obssesion for correcting passive voice. I failed to note that one sentence has been rearranged and now makes no sense. The first sentence of the second paragraph in the body of the story reads, "A well-armed force of bandits, robbed and wounded, and left for dead had waylaid him." That should be, "A well-armed force of bandits had waylaid him, and robbed, wounded and left him for dead."
I don't expect that the error will be overlooked by the judges; I just had to post the correction before I could comfortably go to bed. Otherwise, I wouldn't have felt like it was actually done, ya know?
Been looking at the other submissions so far, and I have to say I'm quite impressed by all of them. I don't envy you judges, having to choose between them. Good job, everyone!
Win or lose, it's been a pleasure to be a part of this project. I hope that you all find my submission as enjoyable as I have found the others! (Arwink, I'm particularly impressed with your story. Very bold, and exceptionally well written. I won't be disappointed at all if your entry is chosen over mine - it's great!)
Thanks, and thanks.
Sunday, 20th April, 2003, 02:14 PM #99
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Sniktch vs Speaker, rd 1
Cold, so cold. Numb, can’t move, just laying here, sinking deeper... sweet darkness... warm now, so warm...
It is morning; I am laughing. The horses snort and stamp their hooves impatiently, but it is morning and I am enjoying Svetlana’s company too much to be rushed. She says something else; I do not hear the words but I can tell by her tone that she is telling another joke, so I laugh again. Then the horses are ready and we are mounted and riding through the gate...
It is spring in Irkutsk. Thus, it is freezing, still weeks away from the brief summer thaw. But it is a good day to ride, to feel the icy wind whip through your hair, to have the sun overhead and the promise of warmer days ahead. We go to see the great bears; they are awake again and their mating rituals are in full swing. The horses sense our excitement and prance across the snowy fields, churning up a cloud of swirling frost in our wake.
The world flashes and spins before my eyes, moving forward in a blur of images... we are walking now, the horses left behind... the bears are ahead. I stop, awestruck. (pic 2) Two majestic males rear on hind legs, locked in an embrace, twisting, pulling, swatting and raking with their claws, their jaws fastened to one another’s throats. The female sits in the background, watching. The two rivals dance beautifully and gracefully for her, circling round and round, but neither is able to gain the upper hand.
They take too long. Svetlana laughs and points, calling my attention to a newcomer, another male who sneaks in craftily while the fight continues. He finds the female agreeable to his advances, bored by the long fight, and soon the pair wander off together. Eventually the wrestlers notice and stop, looking around in confusion for the object of their affection. Finding her gone, they take a last couple of half-hearted swipes at each other before slinking away dejectedly.
We cannot help it; we laugh and laugh at the defeated suitors. I turn to murmur a clever remark and freeze. Svetlana is there, the sun reflecting off of her armor and hair, a crooked little smile on her lips (pic 1). The air is strangely distorted behind her; I see strange, ominous shapes moving behind her and flashing colors, colors like I have never seen, and then a bright, blinding light...
I open my mouth to scream, but I hear nothing. Svetlana seems frozen, but a dark change seems to come over her. The color drains from her face and hair and her armor grows dull and pitted, no longer reflecting the sun. I try to turn and stagger away but I am falling, falling into the snow, wracked with pain, unable to move, slowly feeling the cold creep over me...
I wake without a sound, relief flooding me; it was a dream. Then I look around - I am lying in snow in brush beneath a tree, my armor rimed with frost. I feel numb; the only feeling left is the stiffness of my joints. I sit up and look through a gap in the brush (pic 4); stretched before me is a breathtaking landscape of forest, still buried beneath ice and snow, and shrouded in mist. I feel nothing as I take in the view; it was not a dream. And somehow I know where I must go, what I must do...
The horses are gone when I return to the place we left them. It is a long journey by foot but I trudge steadily toward my goal. The feeling does not return, and I grow neither weary nor footsore nor hungry. I march right through the change of seasons, and the snow and ice give way to greenery and an explosion of wildflowers. I wonder at my strength, for surely many days have passed and I have not rested nor eaten since my journey began, but then I shrug and continue walking. I am close; I can feel it...
I am standing before a great old palace with towering archways and columns. It looks abandoned now, falling into disrepair, the stone weathered and cracked and the flowers and vines growing rampant on the building and the grounds. (pic 3) I see her, down in front of the building, as if waiting. She is wearing a sable gown with a hood, woven with an elaborate design of white ruffles and lace. A silver crown rests upon her brow, and it looks like she is wearing a mask - it must be a mask.
It does not matter - I know her. And as I approach, I can see from her reaction that she knows me. I stop very close to her and call out, “Fiend! I will destroy us all before I let you have her!” My voice is cracked and broken from misuse and my words are slurred..
She replies mockingly, confidently, “And what can you hope to do about it? Look at yourself; you are already dead. Lie down and accept it.”
I start to reply angrily but then stop, suddenly frightened. I look down at my arms, my hands; sweet Lord, she is right - the flesh is rotted and falling away, the bone shows through. As the truth slowly dawns upon me I start to feel myself slip away; a light begins to grow in the distance. I look back up and she is laughing silently and pointing at me.
My momentary fear melts away, replaced by rage. I lunge forward, surprising her with my quickness, grasping her around the throat and squeezing, bearing her down to the floor, all my will, all my being focused on one crushing desire before the light takes me away...
Now I know everything. And nothing.
Sunday, 20th April, 2003, 02:19 PM #100
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Whew! There we go, all finished. The picture's just screamed 'cold' and 'winter' at me, all of them, and then I got this funny little idea in my head and just went with it. I hope it turned out well and that you enjoy it. As always, win or lose I had a good time flexing my creative muscles. I'm gonna go read what Speaker turned in now...
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