Winter Ceramic DM™: THE WINNER! - Page 9
  1. #81
    i believe our esteemed (twisted, sadistic, baffling) picture picker had a small hitch with her first entry.

    of course, she has a short memory and a wicked temper, so we will see...


  2. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by alsih2o
    i believe our esteemed (twisted, sadistic, baffling) picture picker had a small hitch with her first entry.

    of course, she has a short memory and a wicked temper, so we will see...

    My memory works fine. Just ask Mr. Mythago. (You can ask him about the temper, too...)

    No worries, it's pretty clear from the entry where the pics go. FWIW, I find it's easier to just put fake footnotes in, e.g.:

    This is the best Ceramic DM entry ever written (1). Only an utter foolio would fail to see the uberness of my entry and award me the Golden Raccoon Stick. Pay no attention to my wormlike opponent!

    (1) bigjudgebribe.jpg

  3. #83
    Ahh, gotcha mythago

    I'm glad it wasn't a big problem, and I'll keep the footnote thing in mind for future entries if I make it to them :-)

  4. #84
    alsih2o, what about if you win you can controll his avatar for a month Ownow you just make it, hey you might not lose if I get to control your avatar for a month

  5. #85
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    A Fable of Ash

    Ceramic DM Round 1: Piratecat vs. Bibliophile


    Once upon a time, three sisters danced along the shores of the sea. All were beautiful, but only one of the three was wise.

    The dance was a tradition passed from mother to daughter, repeated in every town up and down the long and craggy coast. Everyone knew that the most beautiful women must dance to keep the ancient Sea Crone locked within her prison of stone. Their dance was successful, for did their men not return safely each day from their fishing trips upon the ocean? Did not the sea offer up its bounty to the men who sailed upon it? So things were and so things would always be, and the storms of the past were merely tall tales passed on by the elders to the disbelieving young.

    Until.

    * * *

    One gray morning the eldest of the sisters rose before the dawn, as was her custom, and looked down to see her love waiting in the street below her window. “I go with the fleet,” he called up in a loud whisper, “but I will return tonight. When I do I shall ask your father for your hand in marriage. You shall be my wife forevermore, because I love you. My heart is in your keeping.”

    Hearing this, she too pledged her love to the departing fisherman in the misty dawn. She watched from the window long after her love had walked down the long hill and out to the pier, long after his boat had sailed over the horizon. Then she went downstairs and told her family the news that her heart was singing.

    “Blessings to you, daughter. Your mother would have been proud. He’s a good man.” Swallowing a bite of his breakfast, her father eyed his other two daughters with disgust, for they were lazy and selfish in many ways. “You two ought to find husbands like that. When you aren’t dancing, all you two do is eat, sleep, and gossip.” At his rebuke the two younger sisters laughed with empty mirth and smiled with false duty as they both spoke congratulatory words of spun sugar to their elder sister. Their father’s words had stung, but they kept their bitterness deep inside them where their father could not see.

    Later, as the sun climbed in the perfect sky, the two younger daughters complained to one another while they walked upon the beach. “She does not deserve marriage.”

    “She does not. I do, or you do, but not her. Are we not more beautiful than she? Are our clothes not prettier and richer than hers? Do we not dance the dance better than she? And yet she is the one who has found love. It is not fair.”

    “We’ll show her.” The youngest sister’s face turned wolfish as she considered their revenge. “Today, we shall not dance.”

    “What?” The middle sister spun to face her, heedless of the waves that suddenly splashed upon her thighs from the rising surf. “We must! It is our duty!”

    “Must we? We dance every day. We have done our part. There are traders in town, handsome men from far away. Let us go and find two of them to be our husbands, and show our sister that she is not better than we.”

    The middle sister considered, swayed by the poisonous words. “If she is so perfect that a man will marry her, she can dance the dance by herself.” And such was their guile and spite that when the noon hour came, the eldest sister found herself alone upon the shores of the sea.

    “Where are my sisters?” she asked to the air, but there was no answer from the wheeling gulls. “Where are the other dancers?” she asked to the sea, but it gave no reply. So she wore her dress and danced the dance by herself as best she could, knowing in her heart that it would not be enough. The sea was lonely. Already the breath of the Crone brushed against her cheek, and the clouds overhead darkened to the color of the Sea Crone’s black eyes. The droplets of rain first fell on her as she walked up the long hill, and they hid any tears she may have shed.

    Her sisters braved the vicious winds and splashed home long after the dinner hour, full of false bravery and flushed with the exertions of their stolen afternoon. Their pride was hollow as they shook the rain from their sodden garments and prepared for the confrontation that was sure to come. Their eldest sister met them at the door.

    “You did not dance.”

    The youngest laughed. “And what harm has it done? A little rain and wind, only. Surely the sea welcomes his mother, who he has not seen in so long. Our time was well spent. We have found men to be our husbands as well.” They gestured at the two dark and dripping men standing behind them in the entry to the house. “You are no longer so special, sister. And where is your future husband, so that he can meet our own?”

    In a voice as cold as the rain hammering into the stones in the road outside, the eldest sister answered. “With your jealousy and whim, you have killed him as surely as if you had held him beneath the waves. For he is missing in the storm, sisters. His boat has not returned with the fleet.”

    The two sisters stopped and stared at one another, realizing what her words meant. Behind them, their two men exchanged a glance and slipped silently back out into the storm. The two girls wailed and gnashed their teeth, but their shame could not reverse what has passed; the storm ended at daybreak, but their sister’s love did not return.

    The village slowly returned to normal. The three sisters danced the next day, and the day after that, again and again as the weeks rolled by; but there was no joy in the dance.

    It was after the ritual on one perfect day that the eldest daughter stood before the ocean and screamed her long-buried wrath into the waves. “You have taken him,” she wailed at the empty horizon, “and should take me, too!”

    “I have not.” The lapping of the waves across the sound suddenly formed words, as if there had always been speech that only now could be understood. “What is your name, dancer?”

    “My heart has turned to ash, and so I take the name as my own.”

    “So be it, Ash. Your man still lives, for you would find peace in his death and my mother the Sea Crone wishes you to suffer. She has taken him to punish you, for your dance keeps her from the ocean she loves.”

    Ash stood in stunned silence, hope suddenly kindled in the cinders of her heart. “He lives? I love him still and would rescue him! What can I do?”

    The azure sea danced around her feet. “Nothing, for you do not need him. You have me.”

    Ash blinked. “What?”

    “Did you not know it deep within your heart? I love you and your sisters because you dance, and I keep my mother the storm locked away deep beneath the earth because you ask it of me. I have loved those who danced before you, but my love for them is gone now. When you stop your dance some day, my love for you too will sink like a pebble in the deeps. Until then, you are everything to me.”

    “That is not love.”

    “Is it not?”

    Ash glared at the sea, anger clenching her long fingers into fists at her side. “Love is abiding. It is loyal. It continues long after the one who inspired has passed away. On the day we did not dance to your demands, you loosed the Sea Crone – and she took my man from me as a punishment.” She drew herself up and stared into the sun-speckled waves, trying not to plead. “Return him or take me, but do not leave me like this.”

    The water lapped against her ankles as the ocean pondered. It soaked the embroidered fabric of her beautiful dress, but she took no notice.

    “I will do neither, for you can not understand unless you must make the choice yourself. Ask the fire of the stone, and prepare to answer what they may ask you. Those who failed me before must accompany you now. Be fast and strong, and perhaps you will not die.” The sea fell silent, and Ash turned to run pell-mell up the hill to the family house.

    “You must come with me,” she said breathlessly to her sisters. “We have a duty.”

    “Why?” complained the youngest and laziest. “No one in town will speak to us for what they think we did. I owe them nothing.”

    “Why?” asked the middle sister, holding one hand to her heavy belly. “You have ruined our lives by planning to marry that man, for look at us now! We still dance, but we enjoy none of the honor we once had from grateful townsfolk. I owe them nothing.”

    Ash’s voice was very quiet. “You owe yourselves, and you owe me. You had a duty to our family and those we love. Will you not come?” Her gray eyes held them close.

    They went.

    The three dancers came upon a place of ancient worship in the darkness of the forests above the town, and Ash built a bonfire larger than any she had built before. The flames leapt upwards into the darkness and greedily consumed the fuel. Soon the crackle of the fire became actual words.

    “Dancer. You have given me life, and I am hungry.” A log cracked, and sparks flew up to join the tapestry of stars above. “Who has called me, and for what purpose?”

    Her sisters hid behind her, but Ash approached the waves of heat that hammered against her face. “I have spoken to the sea, for the storm has taken my love. You must tell me where she can be found. I am to ask you of the stone.”

    “And what are you, woman?”

    Ash considered, and decided what the fire would like best. “I am that which remains when you have passed. Do this for me.”

    The youngest sister uncharacteristically stepped forward and stood before the flames. “We do not beg, fire. We demand. You consume everything you touch. I have felt that way before, but now I know that the sea. . .” She swallowed. “Enough water can extinguish you, as it did me. Help us, or die. It is your choice.”

    The fire laughed at this, its voice both cruel and jocular as it addressed only Ash. “Threats from your sister? I dance, and you dance. Your sisters were once as I am now, greedy for that which would give me life. You were once as I am now, burning and alive and warming all that stood near you. Now they have consumed their fuel, and your own heart is cooling embers. I like that about you. In reward I will tell you of the stone, but it is no boon I offer. Follow my sparks. They will lead you to the prison of the Sea Crone.” And a burst of sparks rose on the night breeze and sailed into the night. Gathering their skirts, the women ran breathlessly after them. Behind them, the fire chortled and chuckled to itself as it danced beneath the sky.

    It was dawn when they stood before the stone rift into the mountain. Half the width and three times the height of a person, it stretched far into darkness. Ash looked through, and fancied that she could see a distant shadow staring back at her.

    The stone groaned around them. All three women heard the words, quiet and slow. “I know why you have come. If one could fit, all could pass, but all are too large for the fitting. You must turn away, for you may not proceed.”

    Ash studied the opening, and the words of the stone were true. She was surprised when her middle sister stepped forward.

    “The three of us are too large to fit, it is true.” The stone softly murmured assent. “But there is a child in my belly, and it is small enough to fit. By your own oath, you must let us pass.” She flashed Ash a quick and fleeting glance of hope, and with a shudder the stone widened enough to allow passage. Ash let out a sigh and turned to her sisters.

    “We have gotten this far, and now I must confront the Sea Crone and ask for my love back. It could be my death; you needn’t come with me. You have been brave to come this far.”

    The two younger sisters exchanged a look, and both shook their heads. “Your problem, my dear sister, is that you borrow that which is not yours alone. We have helped so far. Perhaps we can help again. There are things that are larger than just us, I think, and there are things left to learn.”

    The middle sister nodded. “We knew it, but could not say it. You lost your love because of us. It is only right that we are there when you regain him.” At this the three embraced before descending into the depths of the stone cleft. Soon, all three stood before an immense stone door.

    “Hello, dearies,” cackled a breathy voice from behind the door. “Come to visit?”

    Ash gulped. “You are the mother of the Sea?”

    The old voice answered with unmistakable power. “I am, my dearie. I am the storm incarnate. I am the wind that sweeps the oceans, the rain that washes away taint! I am also extremely annoyed at you, my dears. Your dance confuses my son the Sea, and he keeps me locked in this squalid little cell. Only when you forget to dance does he long for my company, and then he lets me out for a visit.” Her voice was suddenly honey-sweet. “Wouldn’t you like to stop dancing and find peace? To sleep at the noon-hour instead of donning the ritual garments? Wouldn’t that be blissful?”

    Ash was surprised when all three sisters answered together, with one voice. “No.”

    “Well, fine!” The crone’s tone turned sly. “Then I’ll stay in here and rot. But at least I’m not lonely. I have a sailor here with me, I do.” And from far behind the closed stone door, Ash fancied that she could hear the sound of her beloved’s voice, calling to her for help.

    The crone continued. “You want him, don’t you? All you have to do is open this door and let him free. See? Here is the lock.” And with those words, a padlock appeared upon the floor by their feet. “The key is even in it. Nothing could be simpler. All you need to do is turn the key and open the lock. Then your handsome friend is free to go.” The old voice wheedled persuasively from behind the door, “You won’t have to be alone.”

    “But. . .” Ash stared fixedly at the lock. “If I open the lock, then I open the door, and you will be free to leave as well.”

    “That’s right, dearie! And that means no more forced dancing for you. You can spend your afternoons deep in the arms of the man you love, nice and safe and dry, while the wind whistles outside and the rain comes down upon the ocean. What could be nicer?”

    Ash looked back up at the door, horrified. “Nicer? You sink ships. You kill sailors.”

    The old voice was dismissive from behind the heavy door. “Sailors you don’t know. Ships you’ll never set foot on. All you have to do to get your man back is open that lock. It’s a simple decision, girl. Make it, and do what’s best for yourself.”

    Ash turned to look at her sisters, both of whom had tears pouring down their faces. They heard Ash’s love begging from behind the door. They heard the entreaties of the Sea Crone. And they stared, each of them, at the simple little lock.

    * * *

    Once upon a time, three sisters danced along the shores of the sea. All were beautiful once, years ago, and each of the three were wise.

    The End

  6. #86
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    All righty! I'll offer commentary after the judging is finished. All I have to say is I tried to write something that would sound good when read aloud. We'll see if I succeeded.

    Bibliophile, your entry is excellent. Wow, nicely done!
    Last edited by Piratecat; Thursday, 8th January, 2004 at 04:28 AM.

  7. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat
    All righty! I'll offer commentary after the judging is finished. All I have to say is I tried to write something that would sound good when read aloud. We'll see if I succeeded.
    Personally I think the Grimm boys would have liked your stuff, though they'd probably have liked a lot more gore in there And just as good stuff from Bibliophile! Nice start to the competition.

    Question: I haven't followed these competitions before, so I'm not sure if it's cool for readers to express our preferences and make commentary. Is it? Just checking, since I wouldn't want my keen literary criticism and trenchant analyses to bias the judging

    (Settles back in his chair to wait for the rest)
    Last edited by shilsen; Thursday, 8th January, 2004 at 04:37 AM.

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    I'd save the point-by-point critical review until after the judging, but otherwise, I'm not going to be influenced by what nonjudges are posting.

  9. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by mythago
    Only an utter foolio would fail to see the uberness of my entry and award me the Golden Raccoon Stick.
    http://www.stickmakers.org/images/calvin1.jpg

    Golden Raccoon Stick! Lordy, I love google.
    Last edited by Piratecat; Thursday, 8th January, 2004 at 05:08 AM.

  10. #90
    Hey PC, very nice story, I especially like the sea crone's self-description :-)
    Classic man.

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