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Monday, 19th July, 2004, 04:30 PM #341
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Originally Posted by Graywolf-ELM
Now the sadism comes out.
- EN World
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Monday, 19th July, 2004, 04:31 PM #342
Interesting--it reminds me of Graham Nelson's essay "The Craft of Adventure," about interactive fiction being a 'crossword at war with a narrative'.Here's what Rust Hills has to say about mystery: "The trouble with
mystery as a structure is that the writer enters into competition with
the reader instead of partnership."
When God hands you a gift, he also hands you a whip; and the whip is intended for self-flagellation solely. (Truman Capote)
Monday, 19th July, 2004, 04:59 PM #343
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Quest for MimirOriginally Posted by alsih2o
Water splashed in Jack Lopt's mouth. He spit it out, but the taste of salt remained. He lifted the corner of the litter higher above the waves and shouted encouragement to the other men.
"C'mon! Keep moving, we are almost to shore and we can't let the fire go out before it burns the phylactery. It's our only chance."
The other three sailors, the only crew left of the Skidbladnir, merely grunted and continued wading through the waves carrying their blazing burden. They had all been hired less than two weeks earlier to crew a private craft. A beautiful ship with a strange name, the Skidbladnir. Now, all they wanted to do was to be somewhere safe. Carrying a burning litter, through chest deep water, in the dark, seemed safer than whatever waited for them back aboard the Skidbladnir.
Jack stumbled as another wave hit him in the face and almost lost his grip on the litter. Panic washed over him before he regained his footing. The pack on his back was slowing him down and he considered ditching it. But, if he did that, he would have failed at the job. He never failed at a job, once he took it, his pride would not let him get rid of his burden. Especially when he was so close to his destination. The wound in his side stung from the salt water, but he couldn't ditch that. Gritting his teeth, he plodded forward and tried to remember what his life had been like nine days ago.
Jack had been sitting in his office when he noticed the silhouette at the door. The person stopped to read the name on the door. Low Key Art Brokerage. Jack heard a low laugh before the door opened and a large man, with a floppy-brimmed hat, walked in. The man stepped forward, took off his hat and smiled at Jack. "Good day, Mr. Lopt." The hairs on the back of Jack's neck prickled upward. He immediately felt some sort of tie and familiarity with this man, though he was sure he had never seen him before. Jack stopped to greet the stranger. As he did so his hand casually brushed across the small bag of eight runestones he kept in his pocket while mouthing their names. He commanded a little magic and it seemed smart to call it forth now.
The man stood there, waiting for Jack to walk around his desk. Jack couldn't shake the impression that the stranger knew the runes as well. Something black fluttered at the window and Jacked turned quickly to look at it. If this were a trap… No, it was just a large black bird landing on the sill. A crow? No, this bird was larger, a raven. The raven looked back at Jack before the stranger spoke again.
"Mr. Lopt, I have a business proposition for you. Are you interested?"
Jack blinked and turned his attention from the raven to the man inside his office. He now noticed that the man had one clouded eye. Jack smiled and held out his hand.
"Of course I am interested. Why don't you have a seat and tell me about it Mr. …"
"Call me Mr. Godan for now. Let us dispense with the formalities. I know that you arrange for the transfer of ownership of certain pieces of art, whether the current owner wishes to part with them or not. Some time ago a piece was taken from me, and now I want it back. You will obtain it for me."
Jack sat down and tried to look relaxed.
"Assuming that what you say is correct Mr. Godan, What makes you think I will help you reacquire this piece?"
Godan smiled at Lopt. "You will, of course, ask a fee. We could haggle over this fee until you thought you had reached a high enough number, then you would agree. But, we will not do that."
"Do not be so sure Mr. Godan." Jack leaned forward to say more before he was cut off by a gesture from Godan.
"You will agree. You will agree for three reasons." Reaching into his hat, Godan pulled forth a rolled up skin of some sort. Jack avoided commenting on the trick. He had a pack with an extra-dimensional space himself and it was hardly an impressive magic trick. Godan unrolled the skin on the desk between the two of them. It was a large, beautiful otter skin. Without meaning to, Jack gently ran his fingers across the pelt. A small surge of energy coursed through his fingertips. Godan leaned forward an in a low voice muttered, "Yes, very good, you feel a tug to this skin don't you? Very good indeed." Jack pulled his fingers away rapidly, but his denials died on his lips. He had felt an attraction to the skin.
Godan continued, "If you are successful, then I will cover this skin with gold. Gold coins, jewelry, bullion, enough to cover the entire skin, including the last whisker. That gold will be your payment. That should light a fire in your soul, shouldn't it?"
Jack leaned back and he did feel a fire. He could imagine the skin covered with gold, almost as the vision of a past life. Greed swelled in his heart and he had a difficult time choking it down. It was a fair price, but if Godan could afford that much, perhaps he could afford a little more. But, Godan wasn't done speaking.
"The second reason is that you are the best there is. Nobody else has the courage, the audacity, to attempt what I ask. The job itself is not hard. Surely, somebody such as you can arrange for it's completion simply. Almost anyone else on this world would simply be too afraid. You will take this job because nobody else will and you will refuse to be lumped together with the lessers in your profession." Godan sat back with a laugh and watched the mixture of emotions play across Jack Lopt's face. Greed and Pride were always effective ways to stir those of Lopt's blood.
Jack sputtered. It was true, that he was the best. His pride would demand nothing less than acceptance of this job. He felt like he was being manipulated and with sudden insight, he realized he was. Godan had offered him more money than anyone else ever would, and he had touched Jack's pride. Either offer alone would have made it difficult to turn down the job, but both offers together made it nearly impossible. Mr. Godan knew what Jack wanted, and he had mentioned a third reason. Reaching down to his pocket, Jack again brushed the runestones he carried. A small wave of cool washed over him as he mouthed their names, pushing back the fire of greed. Then, with a dry throat, he looked at Mr. Godan and asked, "The third reason?"
Godan smiled. The man had regained his composure better than many of Lopt's descendants would. "Ah yes, the third reason is that you only know eight of the secrets. If you wish to know the ninth, you must complete this job, this quest, and bring the item to me before April 30 has passed."
Jack shot forward. "The ninth secret! You know of the ninth secret?"
Godan's voice was loud. "I do not know of the ninth secret, I know the ninth secret!" Then, in a quieter voice, "As will you if you complete this quest."
Godan stood and tossed an envelope onto the otter skin. "Inside is the information of where this item is, and where you must take it. I have already hired men to crew the ship you will travel on. Bring the skin so you may receive your payment." Godan turned to leave.
"Wait! What is this piece of art?" Jack dropped the pretense that he would not accept the job. Godan was right, there were three reasons why he would accept this job, whatever it might be. "How will I know which one I am supposed to bring to you?"
Godan laughed. "You will know Lopt. If you have the courage to try, you will know what it is that you are there to retrieve."
Jack's eyes fell to the otter skin, and the envelope. Perhaps Godan was right. He had until April 30 to complete the job, which gave him nine days. Nine Days, only nine days! "Mr. Godan, April 30 is only nine days away."
Godan opened the door and put his hat on. Looking back to Lopt he smiled gruffly. "Appropriate isn't it?" The door closed, Godan was gone. Jack's hand fell to his pocket. He could feel the eight runestones within. Nine days to learn the ninth secret. A movement from the window caught his eye. By the time he looked, the raven was gone.
A week later, Jack found himself at the top of a skyscraper. It had taken him two days to find out who really owned the apartment at the address Godan had given him. The answer set him in a cold sweat. Queen of the Dead is what they called her on the street. Hel is what the lease papers said. The fact that she could get away with a single name was impressive. All of Jack's contacts were able to confirm that she was a powerful necromancer. The few contacts that Jack called friends told him he was crazy to try to steal anything from Hel. Jack agreed, but the image of a gold covered otter skin burned inside of him. Whiskey helped him keep his mind off of the job as he closed up his business and liquidated his assets. After this job, he would need to disappear. Whiskey helped, but the fire of the gold he would soon have drove him forward.
At the top of the skyscraper, he didn't have any whiskey. He had bribed his way onto a construction job and decided on a mid-day break in. For ten thousand, he had bribed a recent widow to schedule an appointment with Hel asking for her husband to be brought back from beyond the grave. Jack hoped that the lunchtime appointment would keep Hel out of the apartment long enough for him to get in, and out. http://www.enworld.org/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=15274]Edging along one of the girders, Jack prepared to drop ten stories and break into Hel's apartment suite.[/url] Just before he dropped, he felt the fear fade away. He would be successful because Hel didn't keep much in the way of security. Nobody wanted to cross the Queen of the Dead. Hel knew that, relied upon that. Jack would succeed because he was the only person with the courage and the audacity to try.
It took him ten minutes hanging there to bypass the building security, cut a hole in the window, and slip inside. The interior of the apartment was sparsely furnished. A few chairs, a couch a table. The entire place was painted in black and white. Jack had heard that Hel preferred the two colors, but he wasn't quite ready for the entire apartment to be decorated in this way. Jack slunk through the apartment, looking for any sort of artwork that Mr. Godan would want. There was nothing, nothing at all. Until he reached the bedroom.
Directly across from the bed was the http://www.enworld.org/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=15270]face of a man nailed to the wall.[/url] It was creepy, the entire room smelled of dried herbs. The walls were white and the bed was black and the only color was from this face, nailed to the wall. For a moment, Jack thought he would be sick. He tried to tell himself that this is not what Godan wanted, but somehow he knew that it was. There certainly weren't many other choices. Jack stood there for a moment before muttering to himself, "What am I supposed to do with this?"
The face spoke. Jack didn't jump more than a foot when it happened.
"Loki's brood does Wodan's bidding,
seeks Mimir's head for wisdom.
pulls from the safe, Lich's cup,
safe against the burning."
Jack looked at the face with morbid curiosity, but it had grown quiet again. Loki's brood? Wodan's bidding? Mimir's head? Wasn't Mimir's head something that Odin kept for wisdom? Is that what this is supposed to be? What in the hell is going on? Hel, he had to be done before Hel returned! Lich's cup. That did sound like something a Queen of the Dead might have. Where was the safe? Jack looked in the closets. Most rich folk kept their safes in the closet. He couldn't find anything. The other cliché place was behind a painting. But, Hel didn't have any paintings, she only had this face on the wall. Jack developed a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach.
Gingerly, he pulled back the face. Sure enough, there was the lock of a safe. For a moment he wished he had some whiskey. Then, he decided he didn't need whiskey. He was Jack Lopt, an expert theif and the only person with enough courage to try to rip-off Hel. He pulled the nails out of the skin and set the face on the bed. After that, it only took a few minutes to open the safe.
Inside, he found a wooden container filled. The top was sealed and when he shook it, it sounded like something inside. The wood was finely carved and Jack entertained the idea that this is what Godan was looking for. The feeling in his stomach didn't change. Looking back at the face, he knew that the container was not what he was looking for. Lich's cup, isn't that what the face said? With a flash of insight, it all made sense. This was a lich's phylactery. Hel would send a lich after him once she discovered the theft. The container went into his magical pack, the pack with the otter skin inside it. Jack turned to leave. He reached the door to the apartment when he remembered the face on the bed. The face fit in the pack too.
He left by the front door and was walking out the lobby when he met her. She was walking in and he almost bumped into her. She looked beautiful, until she turned her head to look at him and he saw the other half of her face. Life and death looked over him. She smiled a terrible smile. "Nice to meet you cousin." She then walked past him and toward the elevator. Jack hurried to a cab. He had a plane to catch to Newfoundland where the Skidbladnir waited.
Hel didn't catch up to him until he was almost to the ship. More accurately, none of her minions caught up with him. Jack was hustling down the beach, and a http://www.enworld.org/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=15272]man was smiling as he flew his kite[/url]. Jack actually stopped to watch the kite when it detached and flew straight at him, like some sort of living shadow. Jack was frozen for a moment. Not like a living shadow, like an unliving shadow! Panic almost overtook him. Instead his hands dropped to the runestones. Shadows cannot move during the day, yet this shadow was. The man controlling it must be shielding it from the sun, somehow, with magic. Kill the necromancer, and the shadow would be helpless.
Staggering backward, Jack struggled to pull out the pistol he had purchased in case the crew on the ship tried to betray him. He ducked beneath the outstretched limbs of the shadow, rolled forward and began to pull the trigger. It took three shots before he finally hit the man. The man stepped forward, coughed up blood. Jack was watching him when he felt a cold tingling course through his shoulder. The shadow was upon him! The man fell to the ground and dropped a small stone. A runestone! Running forward, Jack lunged for the stone. His fingers closed on it and the shadow stopped. Looking in his hand, he recognized a binding rune among all the other runes. He could control the shadow! Or, he could destroy it. Shifting the rune to his other hand, Jack hefted the pistol. With a smile, he dropped the rune to the sand and shot it. Stone splinters shot in every direction and the shadow screeched before fading away in the sunlight.
The crew of the Skidbladnir was nice enough. They were all foreign men and they clearly loved the ship. They loved it from spars to sails to keel. They showed Jack his quarters and were soon underway. Jack lay down on the small bed and fell asleep. He didn't wake up until dawn the next morning, April 30.
The crew had been paid to sail to a specific set of coordinates. Jack asked the captain where they were going and the captain smiled. Apparently, nowhere. The charts were quite clear, there was nothing at the location Mr. Godan had given them. But, he was paying well enough that the crews weren't asking questions. They liked the ship, they liked the pay, what better way to live than to sail?
The storm came up just before dark. Jack had been growing increasingly nervous that the Skidbladnir would not make it to their destination before midnight. He was pacing the deck when the rain started. It was moments later when something dark, and evil, swooped down out of the night. It was a skeletal dragon and Jack found himself thinking the name Fafnir. The dragon flew through the rigging, pulling sailors with it. Their screams were lost in the wind and rain. Then, there was a grinding noise as the hull grated over something hard. Jack was thrown forward onto the deck and heard more screams of dying men as the dragon flew back.
The captain was there, helping Jack to his feet. They had reached the coordinates that Godan had given them! The captain was screaming about how Godan had doomed them all to death by sending a dracolich after them. Dracolich? Jack tried to get the captain's attention as the dracolich circled around once more. It dove for the two men and Jack jumped back, trying to get out of the way. He almost made it. A claw pierced his side, the utter cold of the dracolich's touch seemed to drain him of vitality and life. Jack pushed himself back toward the cabin. Reaching into his pouch, he felt the otter fur. Warmth flowed into him. The warmth of greed for gold. Then the memory of the wooden container reached him. What did the Mimir say? "Pulls from the safe, Lich's cup, safe against the burning."
Jack was in his feet and in the cabin. It was the wrong cabin, it was the captain's cabin. He could see a small palanquin. He brushed everything out of it and set the container inside. Calling on fehu's power, he soon had a fire. Water lapped at his feet. The ship was sinking.
Jack gathtered the remaining crew together. They had to give the fire time to burn the phylactery so the dracolich would die. The four men jumped into the water, carrying the palanquin and heading for the beach. In the distance, Jack could see a silhouette on the beach. A man with a floppy-brimmed hat.
Blood was oozing from his side as he struggled forward. Words came to his mind. Godan, Wodan, Odin. Low Key, Loki, Lopt. The phylactery burned out, the dracolich disappeared. Jack Lopt fell to the beach at Odins feet and the world passed into darkness. Before his eyes burned a ninth rune. He reached for it, screamed.
Jack woke in a golden field. In the distance, he could see an immene rainbow. A one-eyed man sat nearby, two ravens at his shoulder. He was talking to something in his hand. Jack sat up. Odin looked at him.
"Greeting's Loki, it is good to see you awake. Thanks to you for bringing my Mimir back to me. Now, we shall sip from the mead, as we always have."
Monday, 19th July, 2004, 05:05 PM #344
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Ack! Ran out of time. I see I biffed three of the links. I also see two errors in word usage or spelling. Ah well. The time limit killed me as my muse didn't have a good story for quite a while. Still, I hope it is an interesting story. I borrowed and bent some mythology.
In a while, maybe I can read Carpe David's yarn and see what I think.
Oh, and congratulations to Berandor! Great story.
Monday, 19th July, 2004, 05:09 PM #345
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
OK, I see what happened with the links. Wordwrap created some extra spacing. URL linking hates extra spaces. Here are the three sentences with corrected links, if you have trouble reading them.
Edging along one of the girders, Jack prepared to drop ten stories and break into Hel's apartment suite.[/url]
Directly across from the bed was the face of a man nailed to the wall.
Jack was hustling down the beach, and a man was smiling as he flew his kite.
Last edited by BardStephenFox; Monday, 19th July, 2004 at 06:53 PM.
Monday, 19th July, 2004, 05:16 PM #346
Gallant (Lvl 3)
Can't say I'm suprised. I was sure Berandor had the better story, mine was a hodge-podge of what I could think of to tie things together. Good luck Berandor, it only gets harder from here on out.
The interesting thinga bout the meat bricks is that, as we discussed in the other thread, both Berandor and I tried to turn then into something besides bricks. He wanted them to be bread at first, but his better sense prevailed.
I also agree that the backwards story isn't worth telling, but it was the only way I could think to tell it.
Thanks a lot to the judges. It was fun.
And the yoke/yolk thing was very intentional.
Be bloody, bold, and resolute! Laugh to scorn The pow'r of man, for none of woman born Shall harm Macbeth
Avatar by Sialia
Monday, 19th July, 2004, 06:14 PM #347
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Don't you believe it.Originally Posted by Macbeth
Monday, 19th July, 2004, 07:31 PM #348
Novice (Lvl 1)
I really tried to do you justice this time.Originally Posted by clay in round 1
Thank you, Macbeth, for your story again.
I still can't believe I won. And I am already preparing mentally for the next round, because I need to get even better then. Macbeth said he stuggled a little with his story, which was probably my luck.
This is what I had to say on the other thread:
I just want to address one thing that the udges might comment on, if they like to:I'm not nervous for the judging. I'm all right with my story, and while not flawless in any way I think I've done well enough so I won't shed a tear when I lose, just because "it could have been so much better". If that's clear, anyhow.
Interesting. I wanted to use the ferries for shipping bread, but couldn't make it work the way I wanted to. It almost seems as if using it for stones is boring
Your story has a greath rhythm to it. There are certain repetitions I don't mind that much, but there are some great ones, too. I especially liked when the protagonist drops "rop the egg, the hope, the yoke", because I was wondering whether the early repetitions would lead to anything - they did
A great twist at the end (beginning?), btw. I really liked that. But what is it with you and insanity? I sure hope writing is an outlet for your compulsions
I'm not really sure whether the judges will agree, but I liked how you strung the pics together. The reason I'm not sure is because they exist in three different stories, so to speak, framed by the single narrative. I like it, though.
Masstransport: I liked what you did here, concentrating more on the general view of the picture and not on the man in the foreground with the silly evil stupid wheely thing (err, I had no problems putting that in - why do you ask?).
"the egg" (or whatever it's name is): This strange pic-in-pic was really hard to use in a "reality" kind of way. I like how you do it, especially with the names of the village and all the people on it, even more so on second reading.
close: first, kudos to Sialia for the great pic! It is very hard to use effectively due to its "sketchy" (for lack of a better term) qualities. I think Macbeth used it well by first including it as a "vision" before giving it a physical representation.
thornysituation: You know, at first I really wanted to use that pic metaphorically. "Love hurts", or something. (ETA: I'd like to nominate this phrase as "most probable phrase to make the reader doubt the skill of the author ) In the end, I kind of did that, but I really, really like your way of putting it into the story. It's really much more of a penance the way you did it. Great use for an admittedly great pic, probably my favorite pic out of our five!
I already said my thing to the meat/bread/boring stone transporting floats; other than what is above, I just think it fits really good into the story, and is really given much more prominence than I could put into.
I hope that's somewhat helpful, of course I'm a little stuck with my ideas and do have a problem of totally disseminating your entry because of that. But I think it is a very good entry worthy of letting you advance, and I can only hope I am able to give you a little run for your money, which might be more than people would have expected beforehand.
The reason for the formatting is that usually in message board posting, you leave out a line to make for easier reading. However, I think it looks weird when I write an extended conversation, and every line stands alone with space above and beneath. I also didn't want to post a whole chunk of conversation and get drilled on my illegible formatting. So I put a space in between every five lines or so.Originally Posted by barsoomcore
How do you want it for the next story? Space after each line, or rather a long paragraph of talking?
Alright, now I am going to fall unconscious from surprise
P.S.: Does somebody know a good way of getting blood off one's hands? I tried everything, but the damn spot won't fade!
"I desperately needed to go throw up, but I was so busy reading your story I made myself wait until I was done reading it" – Sialia
Read my stories (PDF):
Gwen / One Hour Later, Three Days Ago / Cold Fish / Indian Summer / Disillusionment / Rememberance / For Lack of a Better Term / The Hunt / The Second Coming (AU-Serial)
"Berandor, what a beautiful story. It made me cry at the end." – Eeralai on "Rememberance"
Disclaimer 1: Above all, I am a very silly man. So if a statement of mine can be construed as joke - especially if it's not funny - it likely is.
Disclaimer 2: I am also opinionated, so when not joking I am still voicing my opinion. Except when I am stating facts.
Monday, 19th July, 2004, 07:51 PM #349
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
I wouldn't even try. Keep that spot as a badge of honor. Mythago has two and it doesn't seem to bother her.Originally Posted by Berandor
Monday, 19th July, 2004, 07:59 PM #350
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
When I was in university I fought a one-man war against the post-modernists who kept insisting that the real value of fiction was that it formed a "game". I said then, and maintain still, that the notion of a game is at odds with the notion of artistic vision -- and that attempting to combine the two only weakens both.Originally Posted by mythago
Keep your interactive out of my fiction!
I got so mad at post-modern critical theory that I started writing my essays in heroic couplets. Graduated, too.
Barsoom Tales II: Romance, Revolution and Bloody Revenge!
Big Trouble. Little Heroes. Welcome back to Barsoom. (COMPLETE)
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