Spring Ceramic DM™: WINNER POSTED! - Page 22
  1. #211
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    Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)

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    I Defended The Walls!

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    Quote Originally Posted by orchid blossom
    and it's good to know I haven't gone completely rusty
    Good grid. If that is 'a little rusty', how do you write when you're in fine form?

    Don't answer that; I'm scared as it is.

  2. #212
    Whew. Good luck with those, BardStephenFox. Hope you win (and I win) so theres a chance of us facing each other later.

  3. #213
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat
    I know the waiting is hard. But the holiday weekend made judging a bit tricky, and we'll be back with the first judgments as soon as we can. Think of it as prolonging the anticipation.

    In the mean time, it's time for...

    Match 7 - Wandering Monster vs BardStephenFox. Entries are due 72 hours from this time stamp. More of Sialia's artwork, here, as well. Enjoy, and good luck!

    Nifty! Now, let's see if I can make anything up using all of these.

    Oh, thanks Sialia!

  4. #214
    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat
    I know the waiting is hard. But the holiday weekend made judging a bit tricky, and we'll be back with the first judgments as soon as we can. Think of it as prolonging the anticipation.
    Well, let's see. Arwink is in Austria with hong, and if i check my time zones correctly it is now 3 a.m. next Wednesday morning there. And Maldur is in on of those wee little european countries where I believe it is currently last Tuesday around lunch.

    No wonder this takes time!

  5. #215
    Quick question for anyone while I edit, how do you put in links to the images?

    Zhaneel

  6. #216
    Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zhaneel
    Quick question for anyone while I edit, how do you put in links to the images?

    Zhaneel
    Answer here!

  7. #217
    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat
    Answer here!
    THANKS!!!!

    Zhaneel

  8. #218
    Ceramic DM: Match 1-5: Tzor vs. Zhaneel
    The One
    By Zhaneel aka Dawn B.

    It was another boring day in the boring life of Karen. She woke up, showered, argued with her brother and left for school. Nothing ever happened to Karen, at least in her opinion. She felt that she was boring, mousy and always blended in with the walls. This meant that she acted boring, mousy and attempted to blend in with the walls. And in high school, that meant no one paid her any attention. Which was just how Karen saw her life. It worked wonderfully.

    While on the bus to school, Karen overheard other kids discussing the academy of science trip that was happening today. She had completely forgotten about it. So maybe today wouldn’t be completely boring, but there was no guarantee. Karen stared out the window as the other kids did what they did. The cheerleaders flirted with the football players; the goths sat in the back of the bus, glaring at the rest of the kids and writing poetry in their dark journals; the geeks discussed the latest development in computer equipment. No one talked to Karen; no one even noticed she was there. At least the trade off was that no one noticed her enough to make fun of her, either.

    Upon arrival at school everyone filed into the classroom. Roll was taken, and Karen was almost missed because the teacher didn’t hear her answer the first time. In fact, Mr. Rudolph looked surprised to see her, just like he did everyday. It seemed as if no time had passed before the class was back on the bus heading to the academy. It was a short trip and upon arrival Mr. Rudolph instructed them to split off into pairs. Karen watched as everyone else quickly found a buddy, mostly within their group, though a few had cross group problems. It was over so quickly that she didn’t have a chance to find anyone. When Mr. Rudolph noticed that she didn’t have a partner, he offered to be her buddy. Karen just mumbled “I’ll be fine.”

    “Of course,” Mr. Rudolph said, not seeing Karen but the attractive woman walking by behind her. He turned away from Karen, forgetting her in an instant. He dismissed the class, reminding them to be back at the entrance at 2 PM to be able to leave the academy on time. The he turned and followed the woman in the short skirt. The class split into every direction and the cross-group buddies were instantly away from each other as the groups formed up. Karen was left alone on the rotunda.

    Karen wrapped her hands around her arms and started to wander. She liked being alone. It meant that she could take as long as she wanted to read the descriptions of the displays. She spent some time reading about how chameleons blended in with their environment in order to hide from predators. She wondered if that’s what she was doing. But she didn’t know any predators, and she couldn’t remember the last time she had tried to be noticed.

    Eventually, Karen made her way to the fossil exhibit. Each fossil was quiet but each had a story to tell. And it was interesting to see how the archeologists covered the fossils with fake skin and coloring in an attempt to pretend they knew what the animals had looked like millions of years ago. A huge crocodile ancestor dominated the room; its jaws spread open in attempt to gain food one last time. Karen watched as a little blonde boy wandered away from his parents who were looking at a brontosaurs display and approached the huge maw. The innocent boy laid his head down into the mouth of the crocodile with no fear. Karen smiled at his bravery, and then was assaulted with the bloody vision of the mouth snapping closed and ripping the boy’s head off.

    Karen screamed in fear and horror, only to see the boy looking up at her in surprise. The whole room turned to stare at her and for the first time in years Karen was noticed. She didn’t like it. Everyone was looking at her, seeing her clearly in the center of the room. She felt her face flush and knew she was blushing. Tears appeared in her eyes and she fled the room. She didn’t watch where she was going. Every time she looked up she saw displays coming to life and engaging in destruction, only to look away and back again to see they were just as before. She was going crazy, and she knew it but couldn’t get it to stop.

    Ahead through her tears she could make out a glowing doorway. Since it was the only thing that wasn’t threatening death she ran towards it. Not knowing or caring where it led as long as it was away from here.

    The minute she stepped through the portal the difference was clear. Gone was the cool of the academy and it was replaced by the warmth and brightness of the sun. The ground below her feet was not the paved concrete of the academy or the patio that surrounded it. She was now on uneven ground, covered in grass. She blinked rapidly to clear her eyes, but the image of rolling hills around her refused to clear. And then she heard sounds behind her. Whirling around she saw a large group of people gathered in a semi-circle around her. They were dressed in leather and hides. It was as if Karen had stepped into a painting of Native Americans, except that they were blonde of hair and green of eye. They were all staring at her in what appeared to be a combination of exultation and fear.

    This was far too many people staring at her in such a short time for Karen to react well. She screamed again, knowing this might only attract more attention and then, her senses overwhelmed, she fainted.

    # # #

    Karen awoke in a strange place. She knew that it wasn’t her bed at home. The lighting was all wrong and there was no leather in her room, though her nostrils were filled with its sweet perfume. She opened her eyes and a woman she didn’t recognize was bending over her. All the details of her strange dream came rushing back and she knew it had not been a dream. But this couldn’t be real, either.

    Trying to remain calm, in spite of the loss of her protective cover of blending in, Karen addressed the woman staring at her. “Where am I?”

    The woman blinked and replied in a tongue Karen didn’t recognize. It didn’t sound like Spanish or French or German. Or really, any language Karen had heard being spoken. Karen sucked at languages. She had almost failed Spanish when she took it because she couldn’t understand when it was spoken to her at speed. There was no way she was going to be able to translate the language being spoken to her. Karen had always believed in the Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” But never more than she did now. The woman spoke again and Karen didn’t bother trying to pretend that she was listening. She shook her head and turned to stare at the tent wall. Hopefully, the woman would go away and Karen could figure out what was going on.

    After a few more attempts at conversation, Karen heard the woman shuffle out of the tent. She closed her eyes and tried to remember everything that had happened. The academy. The statues and fossils and paintings coming to life and destroying whatever was in range. But she was the only person who had seen it. And attention. For the first time in years Karen had been the center of attention. She couldn’t remember the last time that more than two people had looked at her at the same time. Not even her mother and her brother would pay attention to her at the same time. They were both busy leading their lives unless Karen got in the way. Teachers often missed her during role and during class. Her doctor didn’t remember her from one visit to the next, and always had to consult his file to remember her name. To have more than one person look at her and stare at her was unnerving.

    She heard someone enter the tent and turned to face them. If she was going to be stared at, she wanted to know by whom. If it was the woman, she would just turn away again. But being a “show & tell” didn’t really sit well with her.

    It was not the woman who had been with her when she had first woken. It was a man, one she hazily recognized from the crowd of people surrounding her when she had appeared at this place. His blonde hair was cropped short around his head, though it hung thick at his brow and over his ears. He looked at her, not through her, with clear blue eyes. She was mesmerized. She saw his mouth move but she couldn’t make at the words he might be saying. She was about to try talking again when his hands motioned toward her and then to the sky above the tent. She saw a brief flash of light, but it didn’t hurt nor leave aftershocks in her eyes.

    “What was that?” Karen asked, not really expecting a response.

    “That was a spell that allows me to understand what you are saying and speak your language,” the man replied in perfect English.

    “A spell?”

    “Yes. I know that you don’t have those where you come from. But you were brought here by a spell, and how else can you explain that I can now understand you?”

    “I can’t explain how I got here, that’s for sure, but some weird stuff happened before I got here, so this could all just be some stupid delusion,” Karen said.

    The man smiled. “Weird things? Like seeing stuff come to life that couldn’t? By seeing death & destruction that no one else saw? Things like that?”

    Karen looked up in surprise. How could he know that stuff? This was too weird. “Who are you?”

    “My name is He-Who-Calls-to-the-Void. However, most people call me Void. I am the one who summoned you here. We need you.”

    “You need me? No one needs me. No one…”

    “… even sees you, usually,” Void finished for her with a smirk. Karen gaped.

    “How, how did you, how did you know?” she stammered.

    “Because it is only those that have been most forgotten that we can reach. Only those that are not seen, and have a tenuous grip on their own reality can shine through the mists that part the planes to be brought across.”

    Karen’s face showed her disbelief and confusion. Void sighed, and sat down next to her on the pelts that made up the crude bed.

    “I know this must be hard for you understand and believe. But understanding can wait. You must believe me. You are the One. The One we need and the only One who can save us.”

    “The One?” Karen repeated. “What one? And how can I be that if I wasn’t even here until you brought me?”

    “The One who will defeat the evil magician Zerkold and return peace to this place. The One must be from another plane, because Zerkold is from another plane also and is protected against all attacks from people on this plane. And since we were able to find you and bring here, as prophesized, you are the One. You will save us.”

    “Save you? I can’t save anyone.”

    “Maybe not in your plane. But here, by virtue of your other-plane status you can. You must.”

    Karen pushed herself up from the pelts and paced around the tent. She had worked so hard to not be seen. To not be depended on for anything. To be able to just be and observe and get through life without anyone getting in her way or requiring anything of her. Now it was all gone. In fact, she was here specifically because she had made herself too disposable at home. Now she was trapped in a strange land – plane - and could only understand one man. And people were depending on her.

    “My name is Karen,” she offered.

    “Karen,” Void repeated. “Thank you for gracing me with your name. Karen, will you fulfill your destiny and help us?”

    Karen turned and studied Void. He seemed so sincere and so convinced that she could help his people. Could she do it? Was she actually the One he needed? And yet, what else did she have to do here?

    “Void, I will do what I can, but I don’t know how to help you.”

    Void smiled wide and brightly. In that instant Karen understood why perhaps being the center of one person’s attention might not be such a bad thing. “I knew you would help us,” Void crowed.

    # # #

    Over the next week Void trained her in the various weapons his tribe had stockpiled for the One. Several of the weapons were guns, which Void said that no one who was not from the plane of origin could use. In fact, he showed her that clicking the trigger did nothing when he did it, but made sure that she pointed the gun away from anyone else when she pulled the trigger. And Karen was surprised that in fact the gun did shoot and her arm dealt with the backfire. Several of the other weapons were of native make, knives and such. To her amazement, Karen found herself picking up the skills of death quickly. Void attributed it to her status of the One. As there was no other explanation Karen could supply, she found herself believing it. Who knew that the reason she had always veered from other's attention was she had not been meant for that plane. Here she had a purpose and people needed her. Over the week Karen became more and more comfortable with people watching her. It was an entirely new feeling.

    Several more times Void cast his spell of understanding. He told Karen how he wished he could give her the same ability, so that she could speak with the others in his tribe. She wasn't quite clear on why he could only cast the spell on himself, but then the whole concept of magic was new to her. She wasn't sure she needed to understand what everyone else was saying. Their faces, upturned to her, were filled with hope and worship. She was a ray of hope to them. Zerkold had been taking their children for years in raids and was able to easily kill any hunting party that approached his fortress. The people had stopped resisting, other than hoping for the One to come and save them. And now the One was here.


    Over the morning meal of corn gruel about two weeks after her arrival in the village, Void turned to her and said, "I think you are ready. There is very little else I can teach you and the annual tithe of children is approaching quickly. Do you feel ready, Karen?"

    Karen thought carefully about her answer as she not quite chewed the mush in her mouth. She felt more ready than she had the first day, now that she knew how to use the weapons provided to her. However, was she ready to kill another human? Even to save many of the gentle inhabitants who lived in this tribe? She didn't know, but then, she was the One and it was foretold that the One would stop the tithe of children, so it must be time for her to be ready.

    Karen nodded, and again Void smiled that smile which melted her. She knew it was silly, but she had a crush on Void. He was at least ten years older, but she really liked him. Not that she would dream about ever telling him. Karen was still getting used to him paying attention to her. There was no way she would do anything further to attract attention.

    “You can do it. I know you can. You are the One. Now, you must go get the blessing from He-Who-Knows-All-and-Nothing, my master. It is he that foretold that the One would come from beyond the veil to save our people. It is a not a long journey, but we should leave now if we are to make before evening.”

    Together, with the rest of the tribe, Karen & Void prepared to leave. Karen carried her arsenal of weapons and Void carried what little supplies they would need. These people did not have domesticated any riding animals, so they would walk. As they walked, Void told her more about his people. The village was just one of many that was being terrorized by Zerkold. Void was the high priest of the village, but He-Who-Knows-All-and-Nothing was the High Priest for all of the people. There were many villages, and each had their own high priest who reported back to the High Priest. Void had learned all he knew from He-Who-Knows-All-and-Nothing, and it was imperative that the One meet the High Priest and gain his blessing, for only the High Priest could say who was truly the One.

    This was news to Karen. She had thought that there was no one else and believed she was the One because Void said so with such certainty. Now, however, to find out that there had been other contenders, brought by other high priests, she wondered. Maybe she wasn’t really the One.

    Void did not notice her detachment and continued to tell the history of his people to Karen as they walked. Karen just nodded and listened enough to make appropriate noises. The bag on her back suddenly felt heavier and the fear of snuffing another life came back to haunt her. By the time they reached the large village where the High Priest resided, she had convinced herself that it was all a mistake. She didn’t have the heart to tell Void, but she knew that the High Priest would understand. He’d send her back and she’d never have to see Void’s eyes cloud in sadness. She’d go back to her boring life.

    The High Priest’s tent was more grand than any other she had seen in her travels in this land. It was taller, made from the softest leather and the seams were almost impossible to discern. When Karen asked why there was no sheen for the water sealing that all the other tents had to keep the rain out, Void confided that the High Priest was protected by a spell that did not allow any water in. Rain sheeted off the tent, never soaking the leather. Karen murmured her surprise and knew it would be no problem for a man of such power to send her home. She would miss Void, and hope that the One came soon to protect them, but she was not the One, and it would be foolish to continue.

    Void opened the flap for her and remained outside. Karen took one last, long gaze at him and stepped inside the tent. It was brightly lit, so her eyes needed no adjustment. Only one man stood inside, and she assumed he must be He-Who-Knows-All-And-Nothing. She stepped in, knelt before him and said “I have come for your blessing.”

    The High Priest lifted his head and greeted her. “So, Void believes he has found the One who will save us?”

    Karen looked up; the man’s eyes were studying her intently. She felt her desire to disappear return in greater intensity since it has been slowly dissipating in this land. His eyes were a steel gray and his hair was let down long. It must have been black at some point, as there were still stray black hairs, but most of his hair had long since turned silver. He was an old man and knowledge exuded from his every step and look. She was intimidated and could not hold his gaze for more than thirty seconds.

    Finally, he spoke again. “You are certainly not what I expected.”

    “I know,” Karen said hurriedly. “I’m not it, am I? I figured it out on the way over, but I didn’t want to disappoint He-Who-Calls-to-the-Void. Please, can you send me home and tell him?”

    He-Who-Knows-All-and-Nothing smiled. “Tell him that you’re not the One when there is no doubt that you are? Why would I do that? Why would I send our savior home? You are the One. The One I have foretold that will come to save our people.”

    “But you said I was not what you expected.”

    “That is true. Which is why I am called He-Who-Knows-All-and-Nothing. I knew the One would come and I knew I would know the One when I found them. But I did not know what the One would look like. Arise, The-One-Who-Will-Save-Us, and receive my blessing.”

    Karen slowly stood, amazed at what she was hearing. She had been convinced that she couldn’t be the one. But, she was. How could she have doubted Void? Of course he would know the One when he saw it. Not like his brothers, talented though they were. He-Who-Knows-All-and-Nothing placed his hands on her head and began to chant in the way Karen had come to recognize as the casting of a spell. She felt a heat spread from his hands to her head and travel the length and breadth of her body. This blessing made her feel stronger and that she had the protection of the hopes of all the people upon her. She was The One and would go do battle with the evil wizard Zerkold.

    Void was smiling his beautiful smiled when Karen left the tent of the High Priest. “I knew you were the One. I can see that the High Priest has blessed you.”

    Karen blushed. She felt alive and for the first time wanted more attention than she was receiving.

    “Come,” Void said. “We shall sleep in this village tonight, and tomorrow I will take you to Zerkold’s tower. I regret that I cannot come with you, but it is forbidden. I can only lead you to him.”

    Karen smiled bravely. “I am the One. It is not your fight. I will defeat Zerkold on the ‘morrow and your children need never been stolen again.”

    Void’s smile was worth dying for.

    # # #

    The next morning dawned brightly. Karen didn’t bother eating. The One she may be, but that didn’t prevent her from having a queasy stomach at the thought of killing. Void understood her silent refusal and they left together. Void didn’t speak as he had the previous day on their travel. Just walked with her as Karen took in the surrounding area. At about midmorning she was able to see a tower rising from beyond a hill to the south. It slowly grew in size as they walked, and by mid-afternoon she could see it clearly.

    Truly, it was a wizard’s tower from a book. Zerkold must have been a fantasy nut if he came from Karen’s reality. And really, what kind of a name was Zerkold? It must be a made-up name Karen decided.

    Void stopped walking. “I can go no further, The-One-Who-Will-Save-Us. I must take my leave of you. Be well and return to me.”

    Karen turned to look at Void, and looked at him. She came back toward him, controlling her walk. “I will do my best to free your people, Void,” she said and reached out to hug him.

    He embraced her back and she enjoyed the feeling of his check next to hers. For a brief moment she thought he might kiss her, which would have been nice since she had never been kissed. But he didn’t, and so she released him and turned away. She walked toward the tower, noting that there wasn’t a lot to hide her approach. She trusted in the fact that she was the One, and got out the sniper rifle. She raised the sight to her eye and looked at the tower.

    Just in front of the tower she clearly made out two figures. They weren’t watching her yet, engaged in some kind of exchange. They wore long robes of a dark silken material and had tall pointy hats made out of the same. One of them seemed to be giving the other a purple disk with a symbol emblazed on it. Carefully, Karen sighted down the length of the barrel. With the figures dressed in such a way to hide their faces it was easy to not think of them as men. Carefully, taking a deep breath, she pulled the trigger once. She saw the one she had not hit turn to locate her as she released the second bullet. Both figures went down and did not get back up again.

    Karen expected to feel sick. She had just ended two lives. But she wasn’t. They were far away and it wasn’t real. There was no one else outside the tower, so she lowered the weapon and made her way across the plain. No one shot at her as she walked, there were no fireballs cast in her direction. Nothing. It was as if she was alone in the world.

    When she got to the door, and smelled the blood that seeped from the two men she had shot, she did get sick. Before they had just been figures in strange dress. Now she could see them up close, though fortunately their hoods had stayed on so she didn’t see their faces. She retched quietly, away from the corpses. She wiped her mouth, and took a deep breath. She was the One. She had to go on. She entered the cool, dark tower.

    There was a stairway. And that was about it. It was a stairway that wound around and around in the tower, going to the top Karen assumed. There was nothing to do but climb. So Karen began her ascent.

    Time passed slowly. There were few sounds. Karen kept her breathing regular and surprised herself because she hadn’t thought she was in good shape. But she had no problem keeping a steady pace. She placed her feet carefully, so very little sound was heard on the stone. And the stairs were well kept, so no gravel loosed itself as she traveled. Finally, she could see that stairs ended soon. She loosed her pistol and slowed her speed. This was it. This was the showdown with Zerkold. She approached the doorway at the top of the stairs slowly.

    The door was closed. She tried to figure out if she could open it quietly and then decided that there was nothing for it. She was The One. The High Priest had said so, Void believed in her. She would make it. Emboldened, Karen opened the door and raised her pistol.

    A shot rang out. Karen hadn’t touched her trigger. She felt pain blossom in her chest. She looked down. A red stain was spreading from her chest. She staggered. As she fell to the ground, not knowing how she could have failed she heard a man say, “A shame, a waste.”

    #

    He-Who-Calls-to-the-Void knelt at his master’s feet weeping. “What will we do? She was the One, and she has failed. Zerkold had her body flung from his tower.”

    “We will tithe the children as usual my apprentice and seek the One.”

    “What are you talking about? You said she was the One!”

    He-Who-Knows-All-And-Nothing looked down at his protégé. So young, so innocent. “Of course I said she was the One. If I hadn’t, she wouldn’t have tried. And she got farther than others have.”

    “Others? You said you sent the false Ones home.”

    “As I will say I did with this one. Obviously, she failed, so she was not the One. But the One will appear.”

    Void had stopped sobbing. He stared as his master. “You sent a young girl to her death for no reason? You knew she wasn’t the One and you told her she was and sent her to her death!”

    The High Priest shook his head. “No. I didn’t know she wasn’t the One. No one can know who the One is until the deed is complete. I sent her to her death on the hopes of our people that she might be the One. As I did the others. As I will more, until we are free.”

    END

  9. #219
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    The judging is hard again this time. But you all produced some wonderfull stories.

    Cant wait to see the rest of the verdicts

  10. #220
    Zhaneel, that was great!

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