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Thread: Winter Ceramic DM™: THE WINNER!
Wednesday, 7th January, 2004, 06:10 AM #71
A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)
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- Jan 2002
- Boston, MA
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ø Block Piratecat
Clay, I've given you a new avatar to act as inspiration!
No, no, no need to thank me; that's what friends are for. Hee hee. Win the competition, and I promise not to mess with your avatar for at least a month.
Last edited by Piratecat; Wednesday, 7th January, 2004 at 06:11 AM.
Wednesday, 7th January, 2004, 07:51 AM #72
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- Arnhem, the Netherlands
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ø Block Maldur
Originally Posted by Piratecat
Wednesday, 7th January, 2004, 09:26 AM #73
- Join Date
- Feb 2002
- At the office, mostly
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ø Block mythago
Round 2, guedo79 vs. alsih2o
72 hours, gentlepersons...
Wednesday, 7th January, 2004, 11:46 AM #74
Novice (Lvl 1)
Oi. How come I don't notice these things happening till late? Woulda loved to sign up.
But anyway, good luck to all you Ceramicompetitors. Can't hardly wait for the first story.
Wednesday, 7th January, 2004, 01:26 PM #75
Novice (Lvl 1)
Round 1: Bibliophile vs PirateCat
Well, my entry will follow in the next post.
For reference, I inserted a note into the text wherever a picture was used:
example: The great house was a strange color of off-blue, blending perfectly with the sky <house.jpg>.
Mmkay, I don't think I need to say anything else about it, but, in any case, here's my story!
Do enjoy :-)
Wednesday, 7th January, 2004, 01:31 PM #76
Novice (Lvl 1)
Round 1: Bibliophile vs Piratecat
A spiritual release…
Playground for your inner transcendentalist…
At least that’s what your psychologist back in New York said.
After a particularly nerve-wracking week of all-nighters, you stumbled into your psychologist’s office for the bi-monthly meeting. He brought it up while you were ranting to him about your new case. You told him about the strange trials you had been through, and how this one, prosecuting a man for murder, prosecuting a blind man for murder, was the most bizarre one yet. Then, he gave you an idea: take a break, just get away from it all, go on a sudden vacation. It sounded good at the time, so you even stayed later to work out the details.
It took a while, but you finally decided on Northern Europe: a small, little known town named Eldskog, only a handful of miles from the city of Lakselv, Norway. It didn’t really get any more remote than that… or harder to pronounce for that matter.
In any case, the journey there was actually quite pleasant, and so was the stay. No crazy New York traffic to worry about. The constant buzz of the big city was behind you, and well forgotten. You even managed to forget exactly what the smog congesting the city smelled like. Things were going great… until now.
You didn’t expect any trouble when you came down from your room in the two-story, wooden, family-run inn you were staying at, but sure enough, it still managed to find you. In fact, you had almost made it to the relative safety of the bar, in the next room over, before he caught you. You certainly weren’t expecting it, after all, who would? Who in the world would have thought that a half-blind, ancient Norwegian with a cane would have been able to tell from the sound of your footsteps that you were from the US? Heck, who would have thought that half-blind, ancient Norwegian with a cane would have spoken English at all? If that wasn’t enough, certainly no one would have thought that he wanted to divulge his entire life story, all before you ate breakfast. Still, it didn’t have to be so bad. It actually could have turned out kind of well, almost enlightening maybe.
But God was he boring…
“…and so there I was,” he continued in a mangled accent, the words straining to breech his thick beard and get through the chilly air, “finally standing in front of Kristianne’s father. He gave me the once-over, and almost started to stare at me from behind his monocle, as if he wanted to ask ‘You want to marry my daughter? You’ve got to be kidding!’ Instead he just paused for a moment and then asked me in a quiet voice, full of arrogance, ‘So, Erik, exactly what do you do for a living?’
“I tried to smile as I told him, rather sheepishly, mind you, ‘Well, sir, I climb rocks.’ Her old man just starred at me for a moment until I helpfully added, ‘Big rocks, sir, very big rocks.’
“Perhaps it just wasn’t the best thing to say but…” and the relic kept droning on for a bit. He almost talked himself to sleep, but lady luck would have none of it, you and your inconvenient yawns.
The apparently ex-mountain climber shook his head, as if trying to clear it of cobwebs, and paused for a moment before continuing, “Hmpf, I can see you’re just like all the rest, no manners, and no attention span. All of you young ones these days, never giving an old man some respect. I suppose you’re more interested in getting some food than hearing the wisdom of my words.”
You really did mean to explain it all to him, how you meant to be polite, but you just didn’t have the time to sit there all day, listening, but before you could get a word out, he was talking again.
“Well, fine, have it your way then, I’ll tell you something exciting. This one happened nearly fifty years ago.
“I was nearing the end of my prime, and I knew it. I still hadn’t made a big impact in the world of rock climbing: no records, no famous climbs, no nothing. If I didn’t want to end up slowly freezing to death in my old age, just some nobody up in the arctic, I had to do something drastic, and I knew it. I started looking around for the most daring climbs. The impossible ones, something that would get me a bit of fame, at least enough to be remembered by.
“But, there was a bit of a problem with that: all the big climbs had been done before, there wasn’t anything new on the horizon, just jobs leading groups of businessmen up glaciated valleys and the like, for no better reason than they wanted to, and had the money to back it up.
“I suppose you could say I fell into a sort of depression then, it had been years since I said my final good-byes to Kristianne, and I hadn’t had much contact with my old friends from my school years at all. But, that changed, one day, an… an acquaintance, I think that’s the word, wrote me a letter. There weren’t many details in it, but just the mention of Kelan’s Peak was enough to get my attention though. I headed down to the University where he worked as a member of the archeology department as soon as I could.
“Once I finally made it down there, he, the acquaintance’s name was Jorgen, practically dragged me over to a large table, stumbling in excitement. On it was a large map, with Kelan’s Peak marked by a ridiculously large ‘X,’ and a postcard, one of those cheap ones they have at tourist stands. Somewhat confused, I asked him why in the world he asked me to come all the way to his university just to see a map that I could have bought anywhere, although, I admit, I wasn’t quite that polite at the time.
“Much to my surprise though, he told me that the map wasn’t what I needed to see, but the postcard. Now quite curious to see what had excited Jorgen so, I picked up the postcard carefully, and looked it over.
“The first thing that hit me about it was that it was cold. Not just the kind of cold that things become when they’re left in an unheated room during the winter, but cold enough to start condensing moisture on it, an especially odd thing in an eighty-degree Fahrenheit room. The second thing I noticed were the women on the front of the card. Wearing elaborate blue and white dresses, and very old fashioned headdresses, they didn’t look too bad. Hell, the one on the right was seriously good looking, if I do say so <dancers.jpg>.
“Well, I let my eyes enjoy themselves for a moment before I turned the card over, to check the back of it. Not that that told me much: it was full of what looked like absolutely meaningless scribbles. I figured that it had to be some bizarre code or language, but I wasn’t quite sure, so then I calmly turned around and asked Jorgen about it.
“At least, that’s what I probably should have done. As it was, I yelled obscenities at him for nearly five full minutes about getting my hopes up with mention of an expedition to Kelan’s Peak, only to trick me into visiting him so he could show me some new hi-tech postcard that kept itself cool.
“Well, after the things I said, he was remarkably cool tempered. In fact, he only hit me in the face once: not that a second swing would have been necessary.
“I came to about an hour later with a splitting headache. Before I could start yelling at him again, Jorgen picked up the postcard, walked over, and started talking, ‘Erik, before you say anything, just shut up and listen. I’m going to put this as simply and quickly as I can, because we may not have much time. First of all, there’s nothing hi-tech about this postcard. Nothing at all. I checked the serial code, it was printed somewhere between the years 1920 and 1927, and no, I don’t have the slightest clue why it’s freezing cold.
“ ‘Second, the stuff on the back: those aren’t just random scribbles, it’s a form of ancient Greek, only used in the past by the caretakers of the oracle of Apollo at Delphi sometime before the third century BC, it was almost lost to history had it not been for a few quick actions during a massive fire there in the medieval ages. I wasn’t able to translate the entire thing, but I translated enough of it to gather a rough idea of what it says. Back in 1925, there was a French explorer, one Faustus Leroy, who supposedly scaled Kelan’s Peak. He was found years after he had set off wandering into a town hundreds of miles away, apparently insane. The postcard was with him.
“ ‘Have you heard of the Greek myth of Prometheus? You have? Ah, good, then I don’t have to explain that bit. Well, to make a long story short, the writing on the back, presumably Leroy’s, mentions the location of the “fire of Prometheus,” as being hidden somewhere on Kelan’s Peak.
“ ‘Thirdly, and here’s the really interesting part, I had some analysis done on the ink on the back of the postcard. Get this: it’s more than three thousand years old.
“ ‘Now, if you still think that this was just a waste of time to come down here, then leave. But, if you’re anywhere near as interested as I am in finding out just what happened to Leroy on Kelan’s Peak, then we’ve got some planning to do, and you’ve got a mountain to help me climb.’
“I suppose I was still a bit groggy after his punch, but, combining that with everything I had just heard was too much.
“This time it was nearly dark outside when I came to again. However, I was excited now. After going over a few of the details with Jorgen, and taking another very long look at the postcard, I decided that here was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Besides, only a handful of people had ever managed to scale the treacherous heights of Kelan’s Peak, and here fate had given me the perfect excuse to try. No matter what we found on the summit, it would certainly be an interesting trip.”
The old man blinked his eyes twice in slow succession before continuing his tale. During the short pause, it occurred to you that maybe, just this once, even though it was a vacation, breakfast could wait a while.
“So, over the next week, Jorgen made all of the travel arrangements, and I gathered what equipment we would need. Before I had time to think twice about it, we found ourselves in Antarctica, at the base of one of the most hostile mountains in existance. The whole of its tremendous, frozen form stretching out above us like some cyclopean monolith, its top hidden by clouds.
“Well, we set at it. It didn’t take long for us to realize exactly why this mountain, among others, had such a ominous reputation: the rock was as hard as steel and as sharp as a tiger’s claw, ensuring that hooks would be hard to place, and safe handholds would be scarce.
“But, we still made steady progress. Steady, but very slow progress. Some days we only made it up a handful of meters, and we hadn’t even gotten to the hard part yet.
“No, the hard part came when we were a little more than halfway up. See, as it turned out, the clouds we saw from the base were there for a reason, an all too good reason: they were storm clouds.
“Now, climbing a mountain is hard enough as is, it doesn’t help any when the mountain’s bent on killing you, and it certainly doesn’t help any when mother nature herself, in all of her full-blown armed-with-a-rolling-pin fury is doing her best to help the mountain.
“Maybe that gives you an idea what it was like up there, but, if not, just try imagining playing blindfolded Russian roulette with four starving grizzly bears, using a semiautomatic pistol. Oh, and by the way, you have the first turn.
“In any case, we accepted our fate, and kept going, now only making a meter or two at best, unless we were lucky enough to catch a break in the winds.
“After what felt like a more convincing eternity than anything I had previously experienced, we, at long last, made it through the storm. The last fourth of the climb was a piece of cake compared to what we had gone through in the past three months, and we hurried to reach the summit and rest.
“What we didn’t know was that waiting for us, at the top, was a surprise beyond our wildest dreams. Actually, nightmares would be a better word.
“Jorgen was first to reach the summit. As I made the last few feet, I could hear his amazed cries, which were soon drowned out by my own.
“You see… the summit was a rather large area, roughly in the shape of a circle, some one hundred fifty in diameter. But, the strangest thing wasn’t the flat mountaintop, it also wasn’t the human skeleton near the ruined remains of a tent, nor was it the apparently newly-hewn stone staircase descending into the mountain in the center of the plateau. No, the strangest thing was the grass. Despite temperatures well below freezing, an elevation of more than 7,500 meters, and being located, well, in Antarctica, there was grass growing. Normal, green grass, just like you can find in a million fields across Europe, with even a few flowers here and there. It was impossible, but, by God, it was real.
“We decided to leave the main tent secured over the side of the summit, and to bring the spare up, on top, to use that night. Before we headed to sleep, however, we investigated the skeleton, and the remains of its camp.
“Everything was ruined, everything, that is, except a small, rusted lock, with a key rusted stuck inside of it <lock.jpg>. I decided to hold onto that, while we buried the skeleton as best we could.
“The next morning, we awoke to be reassured that, indeed, it wasn’t a dream, that the incredible scene atop the mountain was still there.
“While our brains still hadn’t finished trying to process what we had found, we decided to proceed on, and investigate the stone staircase.
“It was fairly odd, as far as staircases go, being firstly atop a mountain, and secondly showing no signs of wearing or erosion of any sort. It was as if someone had, just that morning, before we woke up, decided to carve a flight of stairs down, into the mountain itself, and had never even used it.
“Being cautious, but still extremely curious, we decided to descend, but not before gathering what supplies we believed we would need: some flashlights, extra food, and a few ropes, just in case.
“I counted the steps as we went down, the staircase ended on the three hundredth and a half step. Don’t ask me how I got half a step, I’m still not sure to this day, but three hundred and a half steps it was. Jorgen and I went up and down a few times, keeping our own counts to be sure, and each time, three hundred point five steps. At that point, we both had seen enough strange things, between the post card and the summit itself, not to mention the fact that there was a staircase at all, that we decided to accept the numerical oddity, and proceed on.
“Unfortunately for us, our luck had worn out. The staircase emptied out into a small landing, barely five feet wide. On either side, the stone walls of the staircase continued around to our front, forming what seemed to be a very, very dead end. A little searching revealed an inscription in the same dialect as that on the postcard; which Jorgen quickly translated to read ‘The key is within.’
“Whatever that meant.
“Over the next few days, the inscription consumed us. What was its meaning? Why was it there? What did it have to do with Leroy’s madness, and the skeleton we discovered? Did it have anything to do with the grass atop the summit? In general, what in the world was going on?
“We had thought that by reaching the summit, we had defeated the mountain. As the days went by, and we made no progress understanding either the inscription, or the strange conditions at the top, we slowly began to feel that the mountain had the last laugh.
“Then, one restless night, I decided to go back and descend the staircase again, hoping that maybe this time I could figure something out.
“I quickly, and rather quietly, for I didn’t wish to disturb Jorgen, gathered my equipment and headed off into the mountain. I reached the dead end and the inscription quickly, and sat down, staring at the wall of stone. I passed most of the night that way, just sitting there, staring at it. Finally, I decided to give up. It was hopeless, and I needed sleep.
“I began to ascend the stairs when my hand slipped, absent-mindedly into my pocket, where I had put the lock. I took it out, glanced over it for a second thinking, ‘Why not? It’s certainly a key, and it sure as anything is within, within a lock, at least.’
“So, without bothering to think any further, I put down my flashlight, and with my now-free second hand, grabbed hold of the key and twisted it inside of the lock.”
You realize that by now it must be sometime after noon, as the Norwegian stands up for a moment, leaning heavily on his cane, an old, like everything else about him, wooden affair that looked as though it was carved by a rather dull knife. After stretching his legs a bit, he sits down again to continue his tale.
“As I was saying, I turned the key, or, at least I tried to. The rusted think wouldn’t budge a bit.
“I threw the lock, with the key still in it, at the dead end in frustration, and started back up the stairs before it hit the floor.
“I was making so much noise as I walked back up, that I almost didn’t hear the faint click issue from the lock as it landed. But, even if I hadn’t, I certainly would have felt the blast of warm air hit me in the back. I quickly turned around to see what in the world had happened, and was greeted by a gap in the wall. It was barely half a meter wide, just wide enough to fit through, and it appeared as if the wall had simply slid apart, only there was no noise <rift.jpg>.
“I picked up my flashlight, and headed through it.
“The warm air kept flowing from deeper inside the mountain as I followed the split in the rock downward. Eventually, it lead to the base of an immense, open cavern, extending for hundreds of meters in every direction.
“There, in the center of it, was an enormous, Greek temple of purest white marble, with ornate columns holding up a ceiling so highly polished that I could see my reflection in it, as if it was a giant mirror. And in the center of the temple, throwing a magnificent golden light throughout the entire cavern, was a perfectly round ball of roiling fire, some three meters across.
“I stood entranced, at the base of the steps, my mind desperately racing, trying to put together all of the pieces. For, surely I had found the fire of Prometheus, the theft of which condemned him to an eternity of binds, holding him in place while eagles ate at his liver.
“I delicately placed one foot on a step, being careful not to tread loudly, lest I disturb the sacredness of the place. Soon, I had made my way across the smooth, but barren, temple floor, to a distance of perhaps ten meters from the flame.
“It was a while that I stood there, gazing into the flame: the very fire which I no longer doubted was stolen from the gods atop Mount Olympus, and given to mankind, that we might prosper in an unforgiving land. There is a saying that if you stare too long into the void, the void will stare back at you. So it was true also of the empyrean fire, for as I watched it, the surface of the ball changed, rippling outward before settling into a very familiar shape: that of the Earth. As it twisted round in place, I recognized the familiar outlines of the continents and oceans.
“Its rotation began to speed up, very slowly at first, so as to be unnoticeable, but before long, it grew faster and faster, till I could no longer make out even where sea met land. As it spun and spun, a new feature became apparent. Deep under the surface of the flame were a pair of dark voids, blacker than the purest obsidian. These, almost eyes, beckoned to me, calling my soul forward.
“I found my body obeying, taking, slowly, first one step, and then another, towards the flame. I stopped right next to it, and reached out my left hand, plunging it slowly into the flame.
“I felt nothing. Nothing, that is, until the bullet ripped into my upper arm, sending a blinding stab of light into my mind, and jerking me back to my senses. In enormous pain, I drew my hand back and wheeled around to see the form of Jorgen, not seven meters away, with a pistol leveled straight at my head. Even through my pain, I did not doubt that the next shot would strike true.
“I closed my eyes, resigned to my fate, and the next shot that never came.
“Instead, still in shock from both the bullet wound and my experience moments earlier, I dimly heard Jorgen’s voice shouting something. I tried to make sense of it, and found him crying apologies at me as he shook me roughly by the shoulders, trying to wrest me back into reality.
“He quickly explained that we had to leave that place, and did not have much time left. We began running back up the path as he explained how he had awoken to find me missing, and a storm brewing above the summit. He had descended the staircase to find the gap, and surmised that I must have gone through. Upon reaching the cavern, he found me apparently trying to immolate myself in the flames, and, finding that I wouldn’t respond to any of his cries or physical actions, he took several steps back, and fired. Luckily breaking the control of whatever held me in that state.
“We reached the grassy summit again in time to see the blizzard begin. We panicked, and as quickly as we could, gathered everything that we could into the main tent, still hanging against the side of the great mountain, just below the edge, and climbed in ourselves. On my way in, I risked one last glance towards the staircase, in time to see a jet of blood red fire leap out of it, sending tiny pieces of molten rock, almost appearing as embers from this distance, into the sky <flambe.jpg> sealing, quite possibly, the stairway forever. Jorgen and I then bided our time, hoping desperately beyond hope that the lines holding us to the rock would remain secure.
“It was three harrowing days before the blizzard ceased. When it had, nothing was left atop Kelan’s Peak that looked any different from any of hundreds of similar mountains. The grass, the stairway, and even the flat quality to the place were all gone. We then decided that there was nothing more that we could do, and began our descent after tending, as well as could be managed, to my wound.
“After we reached the base, we radioed in for our transport, and headed home, exhausted and confused.
“In case you’re wondering, Jorgen died quite a few years ago, in a car accident in Berlin. As for myself, well, I’m on my last legs, and the flame left me a bit of a reminder.”
With that, the old man stands up to look you in the eye. Still leaning heavily on his cane, he takes his left hand out from the folds of his cloak, and raises it up, about to clasp your shoulder. As he does so, you notice that his hand has the faintest of a blue tinge to it, and almost looks as though it is covered by a very thin layer of frost. The next thing you know, he gently grabs your shoulder, sending an icy chill into your skin…
A spiritual release…
Playground for your inner transcendentalist…
At least that’s what your psychologist said back in New York.
It’s only too bad he didn’t mention the trouble you would have getting used to the locale. You’ve been having such strange dreams lately. But, as usual, you put it off as nothing much, just another figment of your finally-relaxing imagination.
Feeling your stomach complain in hunger, you get out of the warm bed in your room at the inn and head over to the window to look out at the morning sights in this winter wonderland.
In the distance, you can see people milling about their daily lives, marching to the beat of a different drum than what you listened to back in New York. These people live in a different world, surrounded by the icy beauty of winter, they follow traditions much older than any adhered to in the US. From the blacksmith, who’s hammer blows you can hear only very dimly, to the chants of a funeral procession now passing beneath your window. The procession consists of a rather small group of people, and a rather plain coffin, merely stark, unpainted wood, its only ornament a roughly hewn wooden cane lying across its lid.
Wednesday, 7th January, 2004, 02:50 PM #77
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Originally Posted by mythago
ack! make the names bigger,i almost missed!
Wednesday, 7th January, 2004, 03:10 PM #78
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Originally Posted by Piratecat
Wednesday, 7th January, 2004, 04:43 PM #79
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Silly Clay. You knew they were coming up.
Got the pics. Now comes the hard part.
Thursday, 8th January, 2004, 12:22 AM #80
Novice (Lvl 1)
Hrm... I just noticed a bit of a problem with my entry... apparently the notes i put into the story for when I used the pictures did not appear. I'm not sure what would be best to do, so I'll just re-post the paragraphs where the pictures occurred (though I tried to make them fairly easy to tell from the description itself):
"The first thing that hit me about it was that it was cold. Not just the kind of cold that things become when they're let in an unheated room during the winter, but cold enough to start condensing moisture on it, an especially odd thing in an eighty-degree Fahrenheit room. The second thing I noticed were the women on the front of the card. Wearing elaborate blue and white dresses, and very old fashioned headdresses, they didn't look too bad. Hell, the one of the right was seriously good looking, if I do say so *dancers.jpg*."
"Everything was ruined, everything, that is, except a small, rusted lock, with a key rusted stuck inside of it *lock.jpg*. I decded to hold onto that, while we buried the skeleton as best we could."
"I was making so much noise as I walked back up, that I almost didn't hear the faint click issue from the lock as it landed. But, even if I hadn't, I certainly would have felt the blast of warm air hit me in the back. I quickly turned around to see what in the world had happened, and was greeted by a gap in the wall. It was barely half a meter wide, just wide enough to fit through, and it appeared as if the wall had simply slid apart, only there was no noise *rift.jpg*."
"We reached the grassy summit again in time to see the blizzard begin. We panicked, and as quickly as we could, gathered everything that we could into the main tent, still hanging against the side of the great mountain, just below the edge, and climbed in ourselves. On my way in, I risked one last glance towards the staircase, in time to see a jet of blood red fire leap out of it, sending tiny pieces of molten rock, almost appearing as embers from this distance, into the sky *flambe.jpg* sealing, quite possibly, the stairway forever. Jorgen and I then bided our time, hoping desperately beyond hope that the lines holding us to the rock would remain secure."
Ok, those are the paragraphs with the links in them. I think what happened is that originally I had the links enclosed in the pointy-brackets " < " " > " and it may have tried to interperet them as html tags...
Sorry about any problems this may cause
EDIT: just noticed that the image links actually show up in the text if you go to "view source" so it most likely thought they were html tags
Last edited by Bibliophile; Thursday, 8th January, 2004 at 12:24 AM.
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