Winter Ceramic DMô: THE WINNER! - Page 23
  1. #221
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    Cedric vs. Kesh

    Chilled to the Bone

    Winter had come to the manor house in all her glory, seeking out her constant companion. But, Death had been and gone, his indelible mark left for all to see.

    A lone figure drifted out of the mists enshrouding the lake. His simple wooden boat cut through the icy water, each pull of the oars drawing him closer to the small island's shore. It took only moments before the boat changed course, after its navigator spied the state of the docks. Dozens of boats, all identical to his own save in small swathes of colored paint, were lashed to the dock and each other. They formed a barrier impossible to pass, forcing him to drive his own craft ashore.

    Accompanied by the grinding of sand and wood, the figure stepped from the boat into the freezing waters, his fur-lined boots offering just enough protection from the chill. Once securely ashore, he turned from the boat.

    If any of the villagers had been present, they likely would have fled. This stranger cut an imposing figure, dressed in his barbarian leathers and furs. The broadsword strapped to his hip would have only served to intimidate them further, and the scar across his brow told of the battles he had endured. But, it was perhaps the haunted look in his pale blue eyes that told the tale of his life.

    Now, those eyes gazed across the island. Winter had courted this land for too long, leaving snow which nearly passed the top of his heavy boots. With a determined step, the stranger began pushing onward through the drifts, leaving the first mark of life to have been seen for months now.

    There ahead was the small gazebo, where the lord of this village would have given proclamations to his people, or begun the yearly celebrations. The weight of the snow now threatened to crush its supports, having been neglected. No pitch had sealed the wood this fall, and the dampness weakened the once-pristine timbers to near-rot. Come the spring, it would be nothing but shambles.

    Yet, in crossing the snow-filled ground, he was grateful for the white shroud. Every step caused him to strike hard objects with his toes, while grinding others underfoot. Here, a shattered skull would peer from the drifts, its empty sockets partly filled with recent snow. There, a splinter of an arm or leg would push free as his leg dragged through the powder.

    It was all too clear. The villagers had fled here to the island from their homes on the shore of the lake, seeking refuge from some invading horde. But, there was no one to protect them. The horde had come, and slaughtered the trapped people like lambs. Every body had been hacked to bits with an axe, or crushed with a hammer. In these dark times, even a corpse could be a threat to the living.

    As the stranger rounded past the gazebo, a sudden crunching of ice caught his ear. With a muffled curse, he dropped his gloved hand to the hilt of his sword... yet hesitated. From the bushes came a small figure, one which barely stood upon the frozen crust of the snow. It had been the one thing the invaders had forgotten: a small dog, which had lived on the island its entire life.

    Now, having starved to death months ago, its skeleton pranced forward as best it could. Frozen, dried tendons creaked under the strain as the bony tail wagged back and forth. What was left of the creature plowed through the drifts to scratch at the stranger's pant-leg, its jaw hanging open in what would have been panting, provided a tongue had been left in its head.

    He reached out, trying to tell himself that the hand shook from the cold. Stroking the smooth skull, the man murmured a word of praise, then a word of magic. With nothing more than a soft thump, the skeletal dog dropped lifeless into the snow.

    There was little to do but continue on. And so, he did, a tear frozen to his cheek. Further down the path he went, though the cobblestones were buried deep under the snow. Still stirring up remnants of the dead under his boot, he came to the sundered wrought-iron gates of the manor house.

    Just inside the courtyard stood a marble statue. It was the figure of a lithe young man, dressed simply in robes due to a person of station. One hand stretched forth, as if to beckon the visitor closer, while the head was upturned and gazing at the sky. At some time, this noble youth must have stood contemplating the heavens and the glories therein, eyes fixed on some unknowable future.

    Those same eyes now fixed on the cold, lifeless image of their own likeness, glistening wet. The face had changed, worn timeless by only a year of hardship and death. Robes of nobility had been replaced by tattered clothing to guard against Lady Winter's harsh caress, and dreams of glory were long replaced by shame.

    The lord of this land turned from the statue, unable to bear his own image any more. In a moment of vanity, he had taken up the king's banner and rode to defend his majesty's land from the invading foe. He had filled his mind with honor and promises of his own triumph, while leading the strongest warriors of the village away. None had been left at their posts in the village when the horde swept over the countryside, leaving their families trapped before the merciless onslaught. They had fled to the island manor, its false sanctuary offering nothing more than a final place to gather before the end.

    Lord Denethal walked as if dead himself, dragging his feet through the snow until he came to the door of his mansion. Drawing a thick silver key from a pocket, he paused. There was no lock to use it in, the door having been forced open during the battle. He pushed the door open with his gloved hand and stepped inside, to see what remained of his past since there was nothing left of his future.

  2. #222
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    Good lord, I'm rusty. There it is, for what it's worth.

  3. #223
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    Ill do my best, to get judgement in ASAP, but I cant make promises for today

    Sorry

  4. #224
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    I Defended The Walls!

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    *waits anxiously*

  5. #225
    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric
    *waits anxiously*
    me, too.

    tap tap tap.

    I've got a story like a wild thing struggling inside of me, and the poor beasty is about to rip itself out of my body if I don't let it out soon.

    I wanna know my dance partner for the next round!


    (While we're waiting, here's a photo of salt at Guerro Negro, taken by P. Norton.
    (Yes, that's in Mexico, on the Baja Penninsula. Where it's way too hot for snow)
    Just in case anyone who has never had the chance to see salt like this thought I was being hokey about the box. The concept of what it would be like to try to drive an ox cart over a salt flat was borrowed from Donner Party accounts of going west from Salt Lake City in Utah, however, and I was mostly thinking about Bonneville when I thought about where the box was, if indeed, there were any relation between that world and ours. Which of course, there is none whatsoever. Which frees me from complaints about the fact that the Lady Banks rose is in Tombstone, and there is no famous well there. No well, no well . . .)
    Attached Files Attached Files  

  6. #226
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    Well, I didn't think you were being hokey. Of course, I live in a desert, I have been to Salt Lake City and I have been to some places in Mexico. I thought the concept of the salt encrusted chimney was a nice take on the box.

    Cedric, I liked your story. Kesh, sorry, I haven't read yours yet. I'm out of the dance so I don't need to rush it now.

  7. #227
    Was I entirely ungracious enough to neglect to mention how much I liked both Cedric's and Kesh's posts?

    My apologies. Nerves, I'm sure.

    Both were excellent, and I cannot call from here who I expect to face next.

    In either case, I am eagerly looking forward to it.

  8. #228
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    I Defended The Walls!

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    Heh...feeling the nerves myself. I keep hoping to come back here and find a winner listed.

  9. #229
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    My fault. Blame the evils of time-zones - I didn't see the entries til one am, and that's way past my bedtime of late. I tagged it as one of the first things to do this morning, but time slowly got away from me

    Judgement is sent now though.

  10. #230
    judges on 3 continents..the olympic committee would wet themselves dealing with this gracefully. i think our judges do a bang up job.







    when i'm not the one waiting.

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