Title: The OWC Easter Fluff-A-Thon 2008: Results!
Description: Yup, they're finally here!
Zog the Stout - June 16, 2008 03:53 PM (GMT)
Apologies for the Delay, but I'm afraid the Son of God chose to die around the same time as a lot of people have exams :P. Anywhoo, straight onto the long awaited results (Someone hold Flaxes back please....)
For starters, our Wooden Spoon prize goes to the Unnamed Piece by HLY, with a very respectable score of 33.4
Unnamed Piece by HLY
Grammatical Correctness: 2.6/5
Good Writing: 13.2/20
Total Marks: 33.4/50
His writing displays a lot of talent in this area, making it obvious he proofread this a large amount of times to work out the kinks.
Some of the ideas in the story display a bit of information that is contrary to that of the Warhammer world, but I believe he has done a nice job with putting his ideas into the story.
Same comment as on Flaxes. Although he is a very good writer, I believe this story is a bit too cliché for me.
There are a few brief mistakes found in the story, just as in most, but it was very well written.
Assessment: Overall, a very well written story, I just felt that the idea was way too cliché for me. It is the basic: "monsters attack, main character's family dies, character ends up having to save the world even though he is a simple farm boy."
Gripes: This story also feels a bit rushed, and the lack of explanation and very short "one sentence" segments of writing on the orc and goblins leave the reader wanting more.
we're = we are
were = past tense of 'are'
where = location
You used 'where' for all three meanings. In a similar vein:
they're = they are
their = possessive
there = location
Again, you used 'there' in every instance. Apart from these though, there were only a handful of individual grammar problems, but the above is the main reason for your low mark here.
You scored highly here. Despite it being your own setting, the generic fantasy creatures, with their usuall attitudes, made the characters seem believable, and easier to recognise for what they were. The whole 'orc army attacking the humans' is basically just LotR, and easy to see as realistic, so in general, your marks here were high. However, you did lose some, mainly due to Gelt's reactions to his family's deaths. Personally, seeing a brother decapitated, nailed to a barn door, and my sister and mother beaten to a pulp would do more than make me throw up. I wouldn't be able to move, let alone run to a town. Even with an uncle for encouragement, it just didn't seem right.
The points that scored you high in realism docked you marks here. An orc army attacking a town is a done-to-death plot, and keeping the same creatures with the same sorts of actions as in WHF, I thought you couldn't really say the setting was your own creation. Family dying is also an old one, heroic father figure is an old one - none of what I've read is 'new.' Also, the theme wasn't really incorporated well, IMO. Non-combat was very much ignored, and the only sacrifice was in the last few paragraphs, and didn't really feel as emotional as I'd have liked.
To be brutally honest, I didn't like it. There were many flaws in there, and if it wasn't for your good way of description, this mark would have been even lower. Firstly, why all the characters? The goblins I couldn't keep up with, and there seemed no need for the dwarf at all. Also, the whole sorceror thing seemed pointless, and rushed, having more of a negative effect than a positive one on the plot. It seemed like you added in the dwarf because you wanted to have a dwarf kicking some ass, and you made him a 'maybe-sorceror', just because you thought it'd be a cool idea and threw it out at the last minute. However, your description is good, though I don't really like gory stuff, so the whole bit where he sees his family, while I understand why you do it (to get across the nature of the goblins), I would have preferred it done differently.
Overall, it could have been a lot better. The pointless characters and parts lowered your good writing mark, and the use of generic stereotypes in your 'own setting' dropped your originality mark. The grammatic mistakes didn't help either, and it was mainly a combination of the stuff in all of the areas that made your mark so low (tbh, I didn't expect it to get such a low mark.)
|A lovely story in an interesting setting, but seemed to be lacking something which prevented it from being exceptional. Low mark in Grammar, because I noticed a lot of missed letters, misspelled words, and bits where the grammar could have been far more elegant. Realism was nearly perfect – I knew exactly what to expect, I understood exactly why the characters felt what they did, and it all seemed to fit – very commendable indeed. Originality was decent, with interesting characters and nice use of changes between the greenskins and humans, however, for a setting of your own creation, it was too similar to the Old World to get anything better than an average score here, and the ending, while well written, was very much the classic heroic death – I could almost picture Imaz shouting “Run, Gelt, I’ll hold them off!”. Not a major problem, as it was cleverly executed, but still the cliché was there if you looked for it. My main gripe here was with good writing. I like the storyline and the description of action was very nice, but I felt that I was being told too much in the text. It is a difficult skill, I grant you, to ‘show not tell’, as english teachers would put it, and use emotions and senses to portray how characters are feeling or what they are seeing, and I think that was what this piece really needed to be fantastic. However, I was still very impressed and it was certainly a pleasure to read.|
|Grammatical Correctness: Please proofread your pieces... the number of times where was used in place of were or we’re (or similar, eg of and off)) was enough to make me want to bang my head on the table...|
Realism: A realistic piece I think, with nothing that particularly seemed ‘off’. However the emotions upon finding the family slaughtered, which should have been a powerful part of the story, felt inadequate... his uncle should not have been able to calm him down that easily, and neither of them would have been in a situation to think clearly on events so soon after.
Originality: In terms of setting, very original, and there are many ideas mentioned that would be interesting to explore further. However the story itself seems fairly unoriginal, and so far as fitting the themes goes it feels a little short of the post. You have obviously gone for the sacrifice theme, yet the actual event seems tacked on, and doesn’t gel as much as it could with the story.
Good Writing: One of the major problems I have with this piece is that it feels like two separate stories; the one you wanted to write (the dwarf) and the one to fit the theme (the boy). It would be far stronger if one of these had been dropped, as I see no relation between the two and no reason whatsoever for about half of the piece. This is not to say they were poorly written, but that not enough distinction was made, and that possibly not enough could have ever been made.
|I really found this a pleasure to read although a few gripes. There were a few spelling/grammar mistakes. Also the main story seemed to flit about a lot. Although I like the way it did this, it seemed to change to too many different people/creatures. The oversized goblin and the dwarf seemed a bit unnecessary. I would have liked to have seen more use made of the dwarf. It seemed a bit like he was going to be a main character, but then died. Also I wasn’t sure about the uncle’s reaction when we first see him. When asked about how he survived, he laughs with the reaction a bit like ‘I WAS in the army you know’. If I saw my family butchered like that I wouldn’t be making jokes about how good a fighter I am, but even still that was just a little moan I had. I really did like how real the rest of the story was, and I liked how you changed the common stereotypes of the races a bit, even if it was quite an Old World theme. The Goblins seemed smarter than usual and the dwarf seemed a little less, dwarf like? Overall a good story that could use a bit of rewriting in some places just to give it that extra something.|
Coming up next, pulling into sixth place by less than half a mark, was Mr Marshmallow
Nothing by Mr Marshmallow
Grammatical Correctness: 3.4/5
Good Writing: 12/20
Total Marks: 33.8/50
|Grammatical Correctness: 3|
I found my eyes drawn to various mistakes in the writing, both grammar and spelling.
Decently realistic, although it is a rapid stream of random events more than a well developed story.
Original, but I have not read many Eldar stories, so I would not be able to judge well enough.
Good Writing: 14
A decent piece, although it lacks a bit of something, not sure what. It is very rushed and confusing.
Assessment: Overall, a decent story.
Gripes: The story is very rushed, and confusingly written and phrased. It lacks enough character development, but is a decent attempt.
Everything was perfect ina the first half (maybe one or two dodgy little bits), but as it got towards the end, the differentiation between speech, thought and description became sloppy. Proof reading would have aided this, and I think the use of speech marks when in the material realm and italics for speech in the warp and webway was confusing possibly for both you and the reader.
Generally, it was okay in terms of realism, barring the merging of the three at the end. It was an interesting interpretation of the warp, but there were many things that seemd wrong. Even Craftworld Eldar are not compassionate, so Lantillifieth's actions toward the humans and slaves seemed a bit off. They may not be bastards, but they still don't care about other lives. They're too haughty, and just wouldn't save them like he did.
It was a very original piece. I don't think I've read anything like it, so for that, you got a lot of marks. Sadly, however, I couldn't really see how the themes of sacrifice and non-combat fit in. Sure, Camion died protecting him, but that seemd like a small bit at the start, rather than the main theme of the story.
Firstly: yay, eldar! And, even more so than that: yay, solitaires! But really, I didn't mark this as highly here. At the start, it was excellent, and continuing at that standard would have got you 17, 18, or 19 marks. However in the middle, the quality dropped quite a bit, and whilst it got better towards the end, it still wasn't as great as the start. There were also some bits you could have gone into much more; the fact he has lived with all three types of Eldar meant you could have written some cool stuff about how he incorporates all three aspects into his battle style. Similarly, when he has the desire to eat the wych's soul in the arena, you could have developed that feeling further, having it become more and more promenant as time goes on, and having him try to suppress it more and more. Aside from this, I really liked the repetition of 'nothing' throughout the whole piece. It gave it a great feel and kept great continuity. In general, it was good, but would have been better if kept at the standard it started with.
Overall, it was good piece, but the quality trailed off too much. It was promising at the start, but seemed to get more rushed as time progressed. Especially the ending, which was much too rushed for my liking, and the whole Avatar thing irked me. If the ending had been much more developed, and maybe a little cut out from the middle (especially the dream sequence; there didn't really seem any point in that, where you high when writing it?), it would have been a much better piece overall. I presume it was the time and word count restraints that cut it short at the end.
|I wasn’t impressed by the start of this story, but I thought it picked up dramatically throughout to end in a very good climax. It had a little of everything, and my one gripe if I had one was that you tried to fit slightly too much into it. It worked though, on the whole. It’s not very often I say this, but to my eyes your Spelling and Grammar were faultless. I couldn’t identify a single error in the piece, so you got top marks there. It was very realistic of the perils of Warp Travel, and in general the mindset of the Eldar. My only two minor problems with it were that, firstly, I think an Eldar would probably die rather than fight for the Dark Eldar, and that I don’t believe that the Harlequins would have acted as they did. Still, it was fitting and representative of the Eldar. I felt it was very original, and there was a lot that I hadn’t seen before. The theme of Sacrifice was there without being shoved down your throat, which was commendable, and I liked the portrayal of the community of Warp Spiders. Marks were only lost for the “Chosen One” mentality, which is far from original, but there was enough running through the rest of the plot to still get good marks here. You lost most of your marks on Good Writing, because although the ideas, and in many places the descriptions too, were very good, some of the sentences or ideas felt a bit forced, and you made simple statements in a few places where description or implication could have made so much more of them – in particular the simple, matter-of-fact statement by the Daemon that Lantillifieth’s Warp Spider team had been defeated. However, it was still a good piece and something I hadn’t seen before. It was nice to have a 40K Entry|
|Grammatical Correctness: Generally quite good, but a few minor errors to be noticed.|
Realism: The portrayal of the different Eldar and their societies is realistic enough, but the way they interact is not IMO. I don’t see a single Eldar passing through all three in such short time.
Originality: Fairly original, and with a strong theme of sacrifice running through it, so it fits the theme. However I feel the repeated sacrifices grew a little tedious in the end.
Good Writing: The major stumbling block I feel. Although the descriptions and overall plot were ok, the dialogue in particular felt very clumsy, to the deterrence of the rest of the piece. The shift between scenes was also too fast, and there was little evidence of a coherent pattern of paragraphs.
|This seemed to start off good, seemingly well written and had the beginnings of a good story, but seemed to turn about the time the main elder character got separated from his squad. The harlequins seemed to try and induct him into their troupe, which I just don’t see happening. Also he didn’t try getting back to his craftworld enough for me. Yes he asked to at first, but then spent years with the harlequins, which I found odd. Then they took him to the Dark Eldar, without being attacked, and then he didn’t even fight the dark elder when they captured him. Then he fought with the Dark Eldar, even against other Eldar. Then both Dark and normal Eldar fought with each other. Correct me if i'm wrong (I don’t actually play either Eldar race) but I really didn’t see much of this as being believable. The story seemed original enough, I like how it told the story of an individual Eldar and the ways in which different aspect groups fight, I haven’t even seen anything like that before. The storyline for me seemed good to start with but then got really odd. It seemed to get a bit ‘Then this happened and then this happened’ it got a bit a bit confusing seemed to randomly jump in places.|
Fifth spot goes to "Letters of a Watchman", written by Avaris
Letters of a Watchmanby Avaris
Grammatical Correctness: 4.75/5
Good Writing: 11.5/20
Total Marks: 35/50
I did not find any mistakes drawing my attention while I read.
Displays the letters of loved ones very well, but I feel I cannot see how that last letter will reach the lover, considering they are surrounded, but I will leave that to imagination.
Although I have seen a few stories before like this, I like how Avaris has left the ending unknown, considering if he lived he would not have to write again, and if he died he would not be able to write again. Very original piece, and I am left wanting to see more of them.
Although short, a very well written piece, describing the fears a watchman might have very well.
Assessment: Overall, a very well written piece displaying human emotion through word.
Gripes: The length. Personally, I will not be taking off points for Avaris missing the minimum, I feel that the points can be taken off the average if need be...
Not much to say here. All perfect, as far as I could tell.
In my opinion, after the Storm of Chaos, everyone would be aware of the Skaven. Just a minor quibble, but the rest seemed perfect.
Now, I'm not really sure. I marked it low, because it didn't seem original at all, to me. The whole letters concept has been used before, though I guess the first person style is worth something. As to the theme. It fits, in that there's no combat in it, but as far as I believe, thats it. Also, the horribly low word count docks it marks, big time.
Despite its length, it did have a build up to the end, and was obvious from the mid point. Being brutally honest, the story didn't particularly grab me. There wasn't enough of it to keep me interested. There was no real attachment to the character, which resulted in not really caring about the ending. If it had been longer, and met the limit, it would have no doubt scored much higher here.
Overall, an okay piece, but was nowhere up to the standards of Avaris' usual work. The main flaw was the length, as that had an impact on everything else. Not enough character development, not enough going on. Just not enough, full stop.
|I wasn’t impressed by the start of this story, but I thought it picked up. An exceptional piece, let down by the low word count. It was an interesting read, but there was just not enough to it to make it winning material. Grammar was, of course, flawless, and the mark reflects that. Realism was in a similar vein – it’s a perfect representation of how the Imperial Citizens would have reacted, and the contempt and vanity displayed by the authorities. Plus, of course, it’s always been said that the Skavens’ greatest weapon is that so few people believe that they exist. The idea was good, but sadly not very unique… Letter format is certainly different, but it has been seen before, and, of course, the position of watchman is a common one for stories set in the Old World. The writing was exceptional, but you couldn’t get much more than half marks because however good it was, there wasn’t enough of it, I’m afraid. I expect you know this already, but my only real critique is to enrich and expand it further so there is more depth to it.|
|Perfect grammar and spelling from you as usual Av. I really believed this watchman and how devoted he was to his family although I would have thought he would have known about the Skaven, but other than that it seemed fine. The whole letters to a loved one seemed a bit cliché for me, and although it was about something not really before written about I think the whole idea had been done before, even if it was done well. The main story seemed a really good one and it was very well written, I really felt the watchman’s love for his family. But as it was very short (that in itself led me to dock points it didn’t really have chance to be fleshed out or have more depth put into it. If you put in more entries between his first and last you could have a really good piece here.|
Next, just missing out on a place in the top three, we have "Sacrifice", by Flailing Axes, on 37 Marks.
Sacrifice by Flailing Axes
Grammatical Correctness: 3/5
Good Writing: 14.4/20
Total Marks: 37/50
Although the vast majority of his story shows a great deal of correct grammar, to commonly are words used in the wrong way and others spelled wrong.
I believe the characters are designed very realistically, at least, as real as you can get with a half goddess and demons.
Although he is a very good writer, I believe this story is a bit too cliché for me.
Decently well written, a large step from his form when he first arrived.
Assessment: Overall, a decently written story, could use a few more "read-overs" to look for grammatical mistakes.
Gripes: The story is very rushed, considering that she met her lover almost immediately after she decided to set off after him. Also, I did not find the ending very satisfying. Overall, decent, but not as well developed as it could have been.
It was all pretty much fine, with only the occassional slip uo, so you were docked a mark there.
You scored high here, because everything just seemed right. Emotions, etc. and the background was pretty cool too, and seemed realistic despite being your own setting. I would have found maybe a little more bitterness in Shara's character more realistic in the opening and ending paragraphs, but apart from that, it was pretty good.
Your own setting boosts this up a bit, but the whole gods vs daemons malarky has been done to death. Though I do like the way this one was carried out, with the daemon not being a cruel bastard - it was nice to get a different point of view of it all. It was a nice change to the common 'love conquers all' trend. Indeed, Drakin's sacrifice saved Shara, but it wasn't all 'happily ever after.' It obviously fits the whole sacrifice theme too, so no marks lost there.
I liked it. A lot. You have a great writing gift, and a good knowledge of what makes a good plot, and this really gave you some great marks. It was long, meaning much more immersion in the story, and allowing for much more character development. You included a lot of great features often not found in short stories, due to constraints in the length, but you managed to work these in, which really gave this piece a good feel to it. However, it was evident the length constricted you. The ending seemed a little rushed, and it seems as though you cut more out of there than anywhere else.
Overall, a very good piece. The grammar use was excellent, and a good use of vocabulary, combined with good character development, a unique writing style, and an interesting plot meant this piece deserevd the high mark. Top quality stuff.
|Shortly put, it was a commendable idea for a story, which could boast all the ‘criteria’ of a masterpiece but seemed to be lacking in that extra flair which makes a piece really superb. That said, it was still a very enjoyable read and captured the emotions of the reader well. Grammar, on the whole, was good, but I have marked you down significantly for a number of spelling errors and some incorrect use of punctuation. Realism was a tough category to mark – you had your own world to play with, and I liked the similarities between Greco-Roman Mythology and the Divinity you had created (That is, Half-Gods, Daemons and the like). However, I found a few factors a bit excessive, and there was a definite Deus ex Machina feeling to the ending. The characters and setting gave you a solid base for Originality, because they were interesting, diverse, and nothing I’d seen much before. Sadly, however, the story let you down – I’ve read stories with a young adult (usually a girl), living with an oppressive father and who has never heard of their mother countless times before, so that disappointed me. I did award you bonus marks here because you conformed to not one, but both of the given themes and linked them together very well. I also marked you quite highly on Good Writing, because you created a very strong sense of atmosphere, and though it seemed a bit rushed at times, you put a lot into a small amount of words, and it was done very well. The Sacrifice at the end was slightly clichéd, but very inspiring and pulled at the emotions, which in my opinion is a very, very good hallmark for a writer. If I had to make one more specific comment, I would say that it was quite confusing differentiating between the ‘present’ and the ‘past’ contexts – I would have advised putting the former in Italics.|
|Grammatical Correctness: I’m always quite harsh on grammatical correctness, and the number of minor errors, especially in the second half of the story, really stand out. All too often the mistake is the wrong word; a peril of spell checkers I guess.|
Realism: Realism is always subjective when it comes to fantasy stories, and where the world is unfamiliar it is difficult to judge. The core of the story; the love between the two main characters, was realistic, though I was not too fond of the reason behind it; shared dreams seems slightly arbitrary. Beyond this, I groaned when I read about the twin suns; even a fantasy setting with twin sons should be more like Tatooine than the apparently tranquil setting here.
Originality: Although not a particularly original idea, sacrifice for someone you love, it was well executed and fits well with the themes (calling the piece ‘Sacrifice’, the same as one of the themes, seems a bit much, but it also matches non-combat well). I also liked the interspersing of speech by a narrator as an idea, as it provides a sense of hindsight to the piece.
Good Writing: In general the piece was well written, but I felt there were a few aspects of it that jarred a little. As said before, I like the idea of a narrator giving the occasional paragraph of the text, but feel it was poorly executed on the whole; the sudden unexplained transition took a few moments too long to adjust to, as it came without warning each time. Even something as simple as using *** to denote a new section would have helped in this regard. Equally, I felt the speech was a little clumsy, but this is only a minor quibble. A larger problem than this was the ending; the penultimate paragraph strikes me as rushed and out of keeping, perhaps from a misplaced desire to bring the story to a proper close. Potentially better would have been to leave it after they had agreed to stay together, and ended with the narrator explaining what happened in the end, rather than a direct description.
|This, in my opinion, had the potential to be a really great piece. What let it down for me was the fact that a lot of things went undeveloped or unexplained and also was quite confusing in some parts. I felt if some things were more explained (things like the gods and demons or little bits about the lifestyle and background of the people of this world) then I think I could have gotten into the story a lot more and would have made it less confusing. I also found the fact that the woman was telling a story about herself but wasn’t referring to herself by her name, and not using ‘I’ a bit weird, especially when she mentioned to us, on several occasions, that it was her in the story. Also things such as some grammar/spelling mistakes let you down a bit. Also, the ‘oppressed king’s daughter’ and the gods vs. demons ideas have been used many times before. You have used them effectively, but they are quite common. I feel if you add more background to some of the story and get others to check your grammar, you will have an amazing story here.|
Third Place goes to YTHC, with his well-written Naruto-based piece, "Amorphous Hearts".
Amorphous Hearts by Yourtimehascome
Grammatical Correctness: 4/5
Good Writing: 16.5/20
Total Marks: 40.5/50
Not much to fault here. Just a few slip ups like missed words, and a couple of 'to's instead of 'too's. Apart from that, all perfect.
For the Naruto world (of which I know little) it all seemed right, and realistic for that setting. However, Sakura's change of heart did irk me a little; IMO nobody can go from hating to liking someone just from one thing being said. It just seemed a little quick, I guess. She must've had reasons for her dislike of him in the first place too.
I take it Naruto and Sasuke regularly fight each other? I'm not sure, it just seemed it was all generic Naruto stuff, and not something as unique as it could have been. Obviously the non-combat aspect was Naruto refusing to attack, to protect Sakura, and then sacrificing himself, but it seemed a little shallow of a sacrifice if he's still alive (if only barely) at the end of it. Though I guess Naruto itself is reasonably original, but you still could've scored higher here.
It was good, but far from your best. As I have said elsewhere, poetry is definitely your strong point, and whilst good, your writing just seemes to lack that extra something that your poetry has. It was some nice description, and clean, 'as it is' writing, but not much in terms of descriptive language. Few similes, metaphors, triplets. Little repetition, etc. Adding more of this sort of thing would have pushed it higher. Also, I dislike the cliffhanger ending. I realise this is part of a larger piece, but as an entry, it is meant to stand alone, so an ending like that is a bit 'ohnoes what happens next!?' I know it can have a good effect, but it just didn't seem to work here.
Overall, a good piece, but not outstanding. It definitely isn't your best piece of writing; I have seen better fluff from you, and your poetry is even better still. If I'm to be honest, I reckon if I knew more about Naruto, your mark would've been higher. I'd have understood the characters and the piece in general better, and I'd have enjoyed it more.
|An engaging and very well written piece which drew me in and I was able to thoroughly enjoy, despite knowing nothing about the setting and not being a great fan of Anime. The spelling and grammar was superb, with only one or two mistakes that I could identify. Realism was a difficult thing to mark, being woefully uneducated on the Anime Setting. That said, from the way you portrayed it, your story fitted beautifully and I found no flaws, no contradictions and nothing that seemed out of character, so I marked it high. Again, Originality held the same restrictions for me, but the basic storyline didn’t remind me of anything else I’d read, anime or otherwise, so I could hardly mark it down. It was a very basic idea done in a very clever way to make it original, and it stuck to the theme of Sacrifice. I gave a bonus here for very cleverly managing to include Sacrifice without the sacrificer dying. Good Writing was your strongest point – this piece had all the hallmarks of a professional writer in terms of how characters were built up, plot was used to engage the reader, and with very subtle and effective description. I was very impressed throughout, well done.|
|Grammatical Correctness: A single minor error I could see (to rather than too IIRC), so no real problem here.|
Realism: Not knowing the setting this is difficult to judge, but the behaviour of the characters seemed to fit well and I’m sure it fits with the main idea of the anime, so again no problems here.
Originality: The piece fits well with the theme of sacrifice, though I feel the use of a pre-existing setting, and pre-existing characters, should count a little against this. However there are still very few problems here.
Good Writing: Although I can see that the piece is well written, it didn’t draw me in as much as I’d have hoped, and in fact felt over long for what it is. This is likely just personal preference though...
|Although I have only seen a few episodes of Naruto I was still able to follow the story quite well, which I liked. Although I would have liked something in there about what some of the more Naruto related things were (like the moves they performed) were, something about what they actually were how they were done, just so us non Nautro followers could follow it, but that isn’t anything major at all. Spelling and grammar seemed fine bar one or two odd grammar errors. From the episodes I have seen and what I know from the anime, it all seemed very real which was good. Although, it was completely from the anime, it did seem to have your touch of writing in there. The overall story was a pleasure to read, so very well done to you!|
In second place, missing out on the prize by the narrowest of margins, is Wizwum!
Refusing Oblivion by Wizwum
Grammatical Correctness: 4.3/5
Good Writing: 18.3/20
Total Marks: 43/50
|An immensely engaging piece which was a joy to read from the first to the last word. I loved the exceptional use of speech interspersing thoughts (rather than the reverse), and it was an easy but engaging read. Grammar was very impressive, though I wouldn’t say completely flawless, so I give you high marks in that degree. Realism is difficult to judge, not being a fan of anime or knowing the setting at all. That said, it definitely felt right, and the story fitted the way the characters had been set up very well. It genuinely felt like a real situation, so I scored you high in Realism overall. Originality, again, I had to use in a wider context – I couldn’t judge whether I’d seen this setting in an anime before, so I went by if I’d read anything similar to it. I concluded that while a few parts seemed not completely original, it was, on the whole, fairly unique, so I scored it well. Good Writing, however, was far and away your strong point. Emotions were used to exceptional effect, with excellent techniques such as repetition and short sentences to make the reader empathise – it is easy to get a feeling for the bleakness of the main character’s situation. A final clincher was the fact that there was no descriptive text – it was all thought or speech. That, to me, is the mark of a hugely skilful writer, and you got nearly top marks in Good Writing accordingly. I was very impressed with this piece.|
|Grammatical Correctness: A few minor punctuation mistakes, but nothing to hinder the story.|
Realism: Realistic emotions, and from what I know of the setting realistic story. Difficult to fault really.
Originality: Well, it fits the theme of sacrifice, but I feel I can’t award too much here. My understanding is that this is pretty much based on an instant in Evangelion, rather than an original event in the same setting.
Good Writing: Very well written, and I especially like the way that thoughts were interspersed with dialogue, and the complete lack of description beyond said thoughts. Little more to say really...
|Nothing grammatically wrong and no incorrect spelling from what I could see. From what I know of the anime (this being quite little) it all seemed very real and from what I know of humans and human emotions (of which I’d like to think I know a little bit more about) I think this is very real and very well portrayed. Although the piece did seem very based of the anime you still managed to put in a situation I don’t think I’ve ever heard of, and this was thoroughly entertaining. The story was extremely well written. I loved the fact that the main characters own thoughts and emotions were the main part of the story, and the dialogue was only a very small part of it. I also really liked the way that you included both thoughts and emotions with what was actually happening, and even more so that it was the former that was the main part of the story. I really did like this piece, it really entertained me and brought me into the story. Would love to hear more about this. |
Which means that, standing top of the podium by a nailbiting one-fifth of a mark(!), is The Admiral, with his exceptional piece, "Blue Fire"
Blue Fire by TheAdmiral
Grammatical Correctness: 3.4/5
Good Writing: 16.8/20
Total Marks: 43.2/50
I barely noticed one mistake in this writing as I read through. His sentences flowed well, the descriptions nicely done.
Very well done, the story depicts a darker side of the elves I have never seen before.
Very original, nothing I have ever seen of thought of before.
A very good piece, deserving of a high score.
Assessment: Overall, an amazingly written story. Although somewhat rushed, it gives a sense of fear and sticks with the theme well. Very nicely developed.
Gripes: As I said before, the story is a bit rushed, but my main problem was the lack of description. Although what is given is great, I personally look for a bit more in my stories.
Excellent throughout. A couple of little errors early on meant the loss of a mark, but in general, it was all perfect.
I really liked the character of the elves. The actions fitted their description early on, and the emotions of the people seemed fitting; broken, hopeless. Despite not knowing much about Meht, it all seemed right, in a way. The elves seem quite Dark Elfy, but still different, as they're decadent but at the same time, ignorant. The chanting helped, and just everything seemed right and fit together well.
It's a custom setting, which means marks are high here from the off. Its a unique elven persona, and works very well. Despite this sense of the sacrifice theme beign quite an obvious one, I didn't think of it initially, so it scores marks for that. The non-combat connotations were also evident, as the victims had lost all hope, and saw no point in struggling. It was very original, and worked really well.
The quality of the writing was very high. Excellent descriptions and great use of writing techniques. The plot was revealed slowly, though the fate was evident from the start; it was just the details that were revealed bit by bit, which I liked. The whole 'thoughts' style of it was great too. One, biased point of view makes for really interesting writing.
Overall, it was written really, really well. It was a joy to read, and although quite gorey in nature, you didn't make it too graphic, and the description aided this too. Generally, just an excellent piece of writing. Also, you win for using the title 'Time Lord' somewhere in your piece.
|A short, but succinct and very effective piece which was fun and interesting to read. You built up an excellent sense of hatred and portrayed the cruelty of the elves masterfully, as well as having an interesting storyline. Grammar was, on the whole, was impressive, however a single spelling mistake (Couraguous, rather than Courageous) let you down, as well as some confusion with tenses and a few sentences which seemed a little clumsy. Knowing the Elves of Meht as I do, I felt the story could hardly have portrayed them better, and your ‘outsiders’ view of them is exactly how I feel it should be – any Dwarf, Orc, Iclis or Man would definitely think along the lines you have written here, so you scored high on Reality. Your Originality mark was probably your strongest point, because this was an inventive, original and clever idea that stuck to the theme of Non-Combat well, and was a joy to discover – I found myself unable to predict, or even try to predict what was coming next, which is something I often do too often. For Good Writing, I gave you a high-average mark, because the writing impressed me and was skilful, but nothing truly exceptional in my eyes. If I had one recommendation, it would be to alter or extend the ending so you could write more, because this has the potential to be a lot longer while still maintaining the same level of quality. Congratulations on a fine piece.|
|Grammatical Correctness: Several minor errors, which were picked up by my spell checker so I’m surprised they exist at all.|
Realism: Pretty realistic for the world of Meht, though how the Elves managed to capture some of the more dangerous/rarer races is beyond me...
Originality: A literal interpretation of sacrifice, which I don’t think anyone else picked up on. As such, it fits the theme well, and the imagination behind the world is also very good. I don’t really think I can fault you here
Good Writing: Very well written and engaging, with the ideas and story flowing nicely. Again, it is difficult to find fault, save perhaps a tendency to have lists (of titles and species) stretch too long.
|Well what can I say? It was a very well written piece that, although it was quite short, really brought me into it. Only one spelling mistake and all the grammar was fine. Very real from what I gather from Meht. I can really see the temple and the fear on the peoples faces, very well written. Completely original, your own world, own race and I’ve never heard a sacrifice story like this, brilliantly thought up. I really did like the plot and the writing, really brought me into the story and I could see everything that was going on in my head. Although I would have liked it to have been a bit longer and more fleshed out. Maybe slow the story down a bit and give yourself more chance to talk about the main human and where he came from, maybe give him chance to talk to the Orc we saw. Overall a brilliant piece with very little to gripe about. Good job!|
Congratulations on fine piece of writing, The Admiral :)
I will post all entries here, below these results ("Blue Fire" will also be posted seperatley and will be recieving an OWC Seal), and just in case you lot are too lazy to check through that wad of information, here's a quick summary of results;
1. Blue Fire, by The Admiral (43.2)
2. Refusing Oblivion, by Wizwum (43.0)
3. Amorphous Hearts, by yourtimehascome (40.5)
4. Sacrifice, by Flailing Axes (37.0)
5. Letters of a Watchman, by Avaris (35.0)
6. Nothing, by Mr Marshmallow (33.8)
7. Unnamed Piece, by HLY (33.4)
Well done to all who entered, you have all written fine and enjoyable pieces. Feel free to comment on them here :).
Don't forget to take part next year!
Zog the Stout - June 16, 2008 03:54 PM (GMT)
Unnamed Piece by HLY
Ordin sat in the tavern. He had the night of, his caravan departing in the morning. The job was an easy one, just protecting a merchant caravan to Berlas, through nice civilised lands. He was being paid well for the job too, and much of the pay yet to be spent. He slugged back the tankard of ale in front of him, and then wiped the froth from his beard with a coat sleeve. His job was a dangerous one, and he did not care for the opinions of the other patrons, he would probably never see them again anyway.
Rumours where flying through the common room, but they where just fanciful tales of the superstitious peasants, nothing a sensible man would listen too. The elves have taken Rutheran, now that one made him laugh. How could any army take that impenetrable fortress? The last emperor was back from the dead and waging a war against his successor, sure things like that had happened, but be serious! Gustav may be an arsehole but the reasons these fools came up with as to why he had pulled back the border guards was ridiculous. It was probably just him trying to rid the Tearim of what he considered lesser races. Feremund was a mining community, and many of his kin, the dwarves called it their home.
One rumour did interest him, because he had heard it many times over his travels from the dwarven capital of Zhufabar. An orc warlord had somehow forged the goblin tribes of the east into an army, and was ready to invade the human lands. That was worrying, with the bastard elves attacking from the sea and an orc led army to the east. He was alive the last time such a horde ravaged the world, he gave a prayer to Dordek that he had survived that attack, but if this one was nearly half as strong then the empire of Tearim would fall out of human control for the first time in history.
Rumour had it that the horde gathered at Josephs Rise, about thirty miles eastwards. Having an army so close was worrying, but thirty miles was a long way and he would be gone tomorrow. He resolved not to think about it, this was a human issue and he was not human. He ordered another drink in case he needed help forgetting.
The night was starless, even the moon was hiding its pale face, yet this was no problem to the creatures gathered on Josephs Rise, who where awaiting their leader’s orders. The goblin warriors cheered as the new commander approached. Hordvik, warlord of the eastern mountains, tyrant of fangs keep and destined ruler of the entire continent was a majestic figure. The orc was huge, about eight feet tall and was near as broad. Great muscles where visible on all of his body and arms, and he held his giant axe in a single hand, a weapon none of the goblins could lift with two. Numerous battle scars ran down his arms and marred his face, proving him a veteran warrior. His feral yellow eyes held a glint of intelligence that looked out of place in such a great creature, and it was whispered that the warlord possessed mystical powers.
“Ok, Gurtrub, give me a breakdown of the resistance your outriders have encountered so far” growled Hordvik in his guttural voice. A small scrawny goblin, bearing the sunburst tattoo that marked him as a tribal chief stepped forwards. It was strange to see such a weak creature in such power but the warlord knew he was a dangerous foe to make and had made sure not too. “I want my banners flying on the nearest city by the end of the month.”
“Well, great warlord” Squeaked the goblin in tones close to worship. The goblin’s position was completely dependant on the orc’s wishes and he would have lost his place years ago without Hordvik. “There are a few communities around here, but my agents have reported that the fool emperor has withdrawn his soldiers, there will be no real resistance in our way.”
Excellent, the warlord had not wanted to loose any of his warriors before he needed. Goblins where notoriously weak willed, and may desert even him if to many of them fell early. “Good, call the tribes, I want cavalry making my name known by the time the sun rises”
Another goblin stepped out of the throng, this one was barely one of its own kind. It was an obese mass of greenish flesh and stood as tall as a human, and it’s weight was no disadvantage to it’s fighting abilities. Rerdeut had opposed him since the beginning, and though the goblin was too afraid to challenge him in open combat, he still attempted to defy the warlord.
“You are mad! You want an attack now, after the troop’s long march? It is suicide, they are exhausted!” squeaked the foul creature, and Hordvik desperately wanted to bury his axe in its throat. The act that that would cost him more than he gained galled him. He decided that as soon as he no longer needed the goblin, he was dead.
“If your troops are not up to a fight against sleeping humans, then how can you call yourselves goblins?” he asked. “A goblin is a born warrior, and you have such an advantage. At least this is proof you are a coward.”
The pale silver disk of the moon showed itself for the first time that night as a young man paced the hard packed game trail down the hillside. The heat had been dreadful this year, his family’s crops dying before maturity, meaning these hunting trips where becoming more and more common. A line of dead conies hung on his belt, and the best meats he could find of the scrawny Ekke deer that lived in the Dantewoods was in his pack.
His hunting ground was cursed land. He knew this much, as it was, according to the scriptures of Adolis, the site where the lord of death was banished from this world back to the twisted realms. Still, no other hunter came near them and with completion so stiff this year he had to resort to extreme measures.
The boy was dressed in the simple woollen clothes of a farmer, though a stout hunting bow was strapped to his back, and he carried a quiver full of rough arrows. He was young, just a few weeks past the seventeenth anniversary of his birth. Lank, sandy brown hair crowded the top of his head and fell onto his face, covering his face. He was attractive in the common way, not handsome yet not ugly either. His eyes where a defining quality, a penetrating emerald green that seem to be staring into ones very soul. This was a mark of Adolis’ favour, and he knew that soon he would hear the call of the church in his soul. Until then however, he had a family to provide for, an aging mother, uncle, and a younger brother and sister. His father had been called to war three years ago, against someone who claimed to be the old king, and had still not returned.
He found the end of the game rail and onto a road, back into what the folk around him called civilisation, though it was more of a jungle than the forest was. All was peaceful in the woods yet the towns, villages and outposts where a hustle of constant activity.
His pack felt heavy, and he had not had the comfort of a warm fire in three days. His spirit lifted by his catch, Gelt set of to home.
The alarm had been raised just in time, the great bell in the middle of Feremund stirring those who could lift a weapon to action. The streets where filled with the screams dying men, as well as some small goblin corpses. The fighting was still going on, as half-awake militia, armed only with hastily donned armour and any weapon they could find, skirmished with better-armed goblins mounted on vicious wolves.
Ordin swung his hammer towards one of the vermin, but his wits where slowed from the drink and the creature managed to get its shield in the way. The crude iron disk rung as it met the steel of the hammerhead, but held firm and kept the goblin holding it from an early end. The creature retaliated using its notched scimitar, which Ordin barley managed to parry before striking out with the hammer towards it’s legs. The goblin squealed in pain as the blow shattered its kneecaps, and as it fell, the dwarf smashed it skull, splattering jelly everywhere.
That took to long to kill. Ordin knew he was a better warrior than any goblin, but his head was too muddled and his wits slowed from the human beer, weak as it was. He had no time to think of this as the corpse of a man he had met in the tavern fell beside him. Two of the ugly green creatures, carrying vicious looking axes and dressed in crude plate armour, had chosen him as their next target.
He ducked the swing of the first axe, yet the burning down his chest told him the second had broken his armour. The larger of the two still had not recovered from it’s swing, and that gave Ordin all the advantage he needed. He brought his boot down on the hilt, leaving the creature unable to defend himself, then brought the hammer round double handed in an unstoppable arc. The creatures head flew from the small green body and splattered against the nearby wall, spraying pink jelly everywhere.
Too late he realised he had forgotten one. Ordin felt the others axe penetrate his armour and rip a great gash in his side. The pain was unbearable, and his vision began to turn black. The last thing the dwarf saw before dying was a cackling goblin face highlighted by the inferno that was once a town.
The sun was just dawning over the hills as Gelt topped the last rise. The scene before him was horrifying. The farm he had called home since his birth, a place that held so many memories for him, was no more. The fields looked as if they had been trampled by a pack of wild dogs, the wooden chicken coop, cow pen and house where just fallen, burnt timber. The fire still blazed in places. The stone barn was covered in scorch marks, and the thatch room had met the same fate as the rest of the building.
Not caring about what awaited below, or the fact that whatever had done that would likely kill him too, Gelt began down to the ruin as fast as his tired form could muster. Within minutes, he was amongst the burning shells. What had happened here was unknown to Gelt, they had bandits occasionally, but they did not bring such destruction with them.
All the cattle lay in a bloody heap in the field, and a glance told him the same had happened for the sheep. This was of no concern to the youth, and he only thought of one thing, his family. The lack of human corpses reassured him a little, but they could have been trapped in the burning buildings. No, he would not think about that. They had to be alive; they just had too.
His heart shattered as he saw it. Nailed to the barn door was the dead body of his brother. Fran was just two years younger than he was, and those who visited the farm to trade for grains crops, tabac, milk or wool often said they where greatly alike. Gelt felt the contents of his stomach empty onto the floor as he caught a better sight of Fran’s body. Whatever had done this had severed his head from his body, and a stylized sun had been carved into his chest, decorated by a face. The sign of Adolis, yet this holy image had been twisted and defaced by a wicked grin.
Opening the door revealed his sister and mother. The two where only distinguishable by size, as the killers had beaten the bodies to such an extreme they where just masses of cuts, bruises and ripped flesh. Gelt closed the barn door, tears streaming down his face. They where dead, they where all dead. As his mind was trying to fit this realisation in, Gelt saw two creatures round the corner of the barn.
They where an odd pair, both had the same green skin and long, disproportioned face, both where hunchbacked, their arms apelike and their legs short and squat. Yet one was twice the size of the other, standing a few inches taller than Gelt himself. The thing was grossly fat, yet somehow managed to move lightly. The other was much smaller, about half his size. Gelt had heard of such creatures before, and he knew what they where. Goblins.
Before the youth could move, or even react, he felt a strong hand on his shoulder. He knew he was dead.
Doogerunz loosened his grip on his spear .He had been ordered, by none other than boss Rerdeut, to stay behind and help him hunt down the human who had killed three of there number. A useless task as the human must have died from the axe blow the boss had dealt him but it was not the goblin way to take a chance of leaving anyone alive.
Doogerunz knew that Rerdeut was the true warlord of the horde. He had what every boss needed, total respect. The orc was too soft on wayward troops, if a single warrior fails, his regiment should be punished. It is the way of the goblins, the ultimate warrior race of the world. The orcs may be stronger, the dwarves tougher, the men faster, but goblinkind had the greatest advantage. They alone possessed the cunning and intellect to rule the world.
He though he had seen a human shape slip into the barn when they turned the corner, and decided to mention this to the boss.
“Are you as stupid as the orc? A human wouldn’t be able to hear us, and the one we hunt is old. There is no way he would have been able to hide in time,” moaned the boss, the hour without success grating on his nerves.
“Maybe it’s time we go back to camp,” squeaked the smaller goblin. Despite his shortcomings, Hordvik was still a capable enough leader to execute someone who directly disobeyed him, and he had ordered at least a scout back by dawn. Not that Doogerunz was afraid of the hulking brute of course, but why risk it?
“You are a coward, Doog, but as always caution is justifiable,” said the giant goblin. “We leave in another hour.”
As the giant goblin finished talking, He swore he saw something again. His imagination.
Gelt struggled as he was pulled into the darkness of the barn. The grip holding him was strong as iron, but it just held him back, nothing else. As Gelt’s eyes began to adjust to the darkness, he could make out the other person better. The shape was tall, taller than he was, and thin. The familiar shape of Imaz Feildsons stood before him in the gloom.
“Calm down Gelt” whispered his uncle into his ear. “We don’t want them to know where here.”
Gelt felt a sense of euphoria flow through him. His uncle was alive; some of his family survived the goblins! The sense of dread he had met when he came to the farm fled him, yet he still needed to be careful.
“Right uncle, I just have to ask how you survived? Everyone else was dead.”
His uncle chuckled. “I joined the army with my younger brother, don‘t forget. Before I left and came back here, I won an award for my swordsmanship” for the first time Gelt noticed the blade in Imaz’s hand. As Gelt saw the blade, his eyes where drawn to something else that chilled him. His uncle’s left arm was wrapped in a piece of cloth barely visible in the little sunlight that penetrated the stone building. A long black-red stain ran down it from elbow to wrist. “The creatures outside are stupid, I managed to hide in the hay bails, and I was more that a match for the creatures that found me.”
The old man pressed his ear to the scorched remains of the wooded door, carefully avoiding the nails that held Fran to it. “Sounds like they're gone” He said, carefully opening the door. “Good, no goblins left out here. We have to leave quickly, at least the goblins left us nothing to pack” he seemed to see Fran for the fist time, and a tear rolled down his weathered cheek. We have no time to bury them. Come on Gelt, let’s go.”
Hordvik sat atop the carved wooden throne in his tent. That disgusting creature was due back an hour ago. His grip on his axe tightened. His patience for the goblin was gone. That troublesome element of his army died soon
Despite his age, Gelt cursed his uncles pace. He ran along side the older man, who did not have speed but had not tired over the run, or slowed at all. Surely no goblins could have followed them so far, there where only two of them after all. There surrounding where an insult to Gelt, so peaceful while his life had been shattered and broken.
“Uncle, no one is pursuing us now,” He panted, hardly capable of talking in complete words at the moment. “I need to stop and rest. I’m exhausted.”
The older man took a few more steps, then halted and turned towards Gelt. His face was calm, yet his sorrows where painted into his eyes, Imaz’s once strong posture was gone, and his age seemed to be catching up. “Those murderers showed up on wolves. The beasts where broken, their wild spirit gone, but their noses must still have worked and they are much faster than a man” he turned back to Gelt before talking more “I hate to tell you, but goblins don’t leave survivors. Come on, but we’ll go a bit slower from now on.”
They resumed down the roadway. After another couple of minute, his uncle began to talk almost to himself. “That small one mentioned an orc. That’s bad news for the empire” Gelt tried to listen in, but his uncle was talking too quietly for him to hear anything but snatches of words. “Heard about him back in service. Bad one, pretty much ruler of the lands past the mountains.”
Gelt had no idea what his uncle was talking about, orcs where just a myth, not real. The loss of his entire life must have sent his uncle spiralling down the paths of madness. If that was so, how long did he have left?
As if on cue, the sound of giant paws tearing across hard packed dirt broke the silence, bringing the surroundings to the reality Gelt had seen.
Imaz heard the sound of the rabid creatures the goblins used as mounts. They had caught up, but he could not let the goblins stop him. He needed to get the news of an orc to the army-training village at the Legend’s rock, the place where the empire was founded. They needed to know.
His arm throbbed; the wound was going to cost him his arm at the least. He knew that he could not make it to his destination, the wolves would catch them, but Gelt was still young.
“Lad, run” he called over his shoulder “You have to get to Legends Rock. Head to Feremund then seek directions” Gelt turned to ask what he intended, but Imza knew he couldn’t let him think “You have to go Gelt! You where blessed by the gods and I cannot let that go to waste. Just run!”
As the youth ran past him, Imza prepared to use his weapon one last time, there was no chance of survival this time. The goblins where almost upon him a flow of adrenaline fuelled his senses as it always did in battle, his hearing became crisper, his sight keener. He could see the droplets of foam around the wolves’ jaws, the strange glint in the goblin’s eyes.
“Ignore the old man, they child has the mark of a sorcerer. We don’t know what he can do,” shouted the bigger of the two. The mark of the sorcerer, his only distinction was his eyes, but they where not a curse of Daemons but a blessing of Gods.
As the first wolf rushed past him, Imza slid to the side and plunged his blade into the beasts flank. It let out a ear splitting cry, but the momentum it had gained meant the creature could not stop, and the blade ripped deeper into it flank. The wolf fell to the floor, it’s blood pooling around it on the floor and the rider was tossed. The second creature ploughed strait into him yet showed no sign of stopping. Imza felt it’s jaws clench on his waist as he was forced to the ground, his eyes started to dim but before he died he plunged the sword, a trophy for the best warrior in the regiment, directly into the beast chest. With the two wolves dead, the goblins would be unable to catch Gelt, his job was done and he could die with no regrets.
Gelt saw his uncle die. He had kept running, just as Imaz had wished, but he could not resist turning when he heard the cry. The ugly green creatures where hacking his uncle’s body to nothing, despite that the man was dead anyway. Blood splashing everywhere as the still beating heart pumped blood into ripped veins, leaving an ever-spreading pool on the ground. Bones broke from the vicious attacks. The worst part was that Imza was still alive, the pain of each attack apparent on his face. It appalled Gelt that anything could have so much cruelty within it.
Right now, he wished the monster the creature had been right. He wished he were a sorcerer, he wished he could launch a fireball at the creatures. Gelt knew such thoughts put his soul at risk, but he did not care.
He had a job to do, and he knew he had to obey his uncle’s order. He began to run again, confident that the short green creatures could not catch him
Zog the Stout - June 16, 2008 03:54 PM (GMT)
Nothing by Mr Marshmallow
Camion Dinfurtra slid from tree to tree fluidly moving long with the rest of the Warp Spiders. Feeling paranoid, he glanced around himself: Nothing. Spreading his awareness through the warp, he checked for dangers once again. This time: Nothing. Nothing but the familiar minds of his fellow Warp Spiders and the shifting currents of the warp. Still, he knew something was behind them, following them, coming towards them. It had been hounding them for days now, waiting for one of them to lower their guard or fall behind. The Warp Spiders were stragglers of the mighty Biel-Tan army; a mop up team to finish anything left alive from the large battle that was fought here the day before. They had lost contact though, and the reason why was still unknown but becoming clearer to all of them as the days progressed, especially to Camion, the most potent psyker of the group. Though they all had the thoughts in their minds, none spoke of them, knowing the rest of the squad felt it just as strongly.
“I am ready for another jump.” Camion started as Lantillifieth spoke. Being the newest and least accustomed to warp travel, Lantillifieth set the length of the intervals between jumps.
“Okay,” said Marain, the most senior member of the group. They had no exarch, having lost him in battle long ago. The most senior had always led them since then.
Ready? asked Marain in their minds.
Ready, they responded.
One, two, three…
The Warp Spider squad blinked out existence in the forest glade they had been in. Camion psychically looked around again as they traveled through the warp. Nothing, nothing, and more nothing. The fact that there wasn’t even a small daemon investigating the bright spark of their minds worried him. There usually were… Wait. What was that? A daemon? A daemon of power maybe? Looking further… Nothing. Just his mind playing tricks on himself. Still the same nothing. Still just the roiling currents of the warp and his squad’s consciousness’s. As they came out a few kilometers from their starting jumping point, Camion inwardly sighed. When would they find out who or what was following them?
Days passed and they traveled further, trying to catch up to the main force as it retreated. “We must reach them before they take off, or we will be left here forever. Though the threat must be great for them to even contemplate leaving us and the other clean up squads here…” Marain spoke one night, as they were resting. “We will start jumping more often; and will travel further both through jumps and walking.” Speaking to Lantillifieth and Lantillifieth alone now, he gravely apologized for the danger he was putting on him. I am sorry it must be this dangerous on your first mission, little one. Please be strong.
Do not worry, honored Warp Spider. I will not fail you and the rest, Lantillifieth responded.
They now spent all of the sunlit hours jogging through the trees and jumped several times a day. In a few days time, it became clear that Lantillifieth was straining to keep up. Several other members of the squad were tiring as well, and the presence that was following them became more pressing and forbidding. Their jumps were labored tasks, and though there used to be none, many daemons swarmed around them when they entered the warp.
“This will be our last jump for today,” said Marain, breathing heavily. “We will stop after this.” The other Warp Spiders showed their pleasure at an end for the day in sight. As they prepared for the jump, Lantillifieth came close to Camion.
I do not think I will be able to make the jump without help. I am sorry I’m probably being a burden, and I don’t want to be thought less of.
Yes, Lantillifieth, I am willing to help. You will not be thought of as weak. If you had not asked, and were claimed in the warp, that would be much worse for all of us, especially with what your fate is. I admire your bravery in recognizing your weakness and requesting assistance.
Ready? asked Marain.
Ready, answered the rest of the squad.
One, two, three…
This time in the jump, Camion threw up a barrier around both himself and Lantillifieth. Lantillifieth helped strengthen it, but even this effort showed how exhausted he was. The daemons crashed and broke upon the barrier, waves upon a firm rock. They traveled through and were nearly to their destination, only a few more minutes in the warp to go. Then a daemon smashed on the shield, but instead of sliding off and giving up, it stuck. Clawing its way to the top, it smashed the wall with a mighty fist.
Stay away! Shouted Camion, and shoved at it with his mind. The daemon shook but remained stuck to the barrier. Smashing the wall, it grinned in glee. The third time it hit the shield, it cracked and shattered. No matter how much Camion tried to pull it back together, it was gone. The daemons swarmed over them, and their other squad members tried to get to them but the rush of daemons kept them. You will not take us! Screamed Camion, and he let loose a blast of raw psychic energy which threw the daemons around them back. All, except the one that had shattered their barrier. In the form of a multi-breasted humanoid, it advanced upon them.
Come join me in eternal pleasure, it hissed at them. Lantillifieth took a step towards it, but Camion yelled to him and he awoke from his daze. Stepping forward, Camion shouted a challenge at the creature. Why don’t you come join me in a duel to the death, foul beast of She Who Thirsts? Your master will not gain our souls today, or any other day. I am Camion Dinfurtra, Warp Spider of Biel-Tan, and I will be the death of you!
Ha ha ha... the daemon softly snorted. You think you will be the death of me? I will rip you into shreds and feel the glorious pleasure of battle! [/i]So saying, the minion of Slaanesh leaped towards them. As Camion stepped forward to do battle with it, however, a wave of smaller daemons hit him and he stumbled and was thrown aside. Lantillifieth leapt forward to take his place, and the daemon smiled. So… You will take your companion’s place? I have been waiting for you, young Lantillifieth. You and I, we have been destined to fight since long before either one of us was created. My master has said this, and so it will be. Lantillifieth grimaced and stepped forward, firing his death spinner at the creature. The daemon easily ducked beneath the strands of monofilament wire, and stepped in to disembowel Lantillifieth with one of its numerous claw-like hands. Before it could though, it was thrown sideways by a powerful blast.
The prophecy refers to something else, daemon. Camion had destroyed the smaller daemons, and was coming back to face the monstrosity who was challenging them.Run, Lantillifieth! It may be your fate to face a daemon in protection of a companion, but it will be a much mightier daemon and a much mightier companion. It is my fate to save you now; I have known this for a long time. Join the rest of the squad. Now go!
As Lantillifieth ran, he looked behind himself and tripped over a small daemon. Falling, falling, falling… Daemons grabbed at him, laughed at him, screamed at him. They struck at his mind, yanked at his death spinner, jerked at his armour. Covering his ears, he shouted out, Go away! The daemons paid no heed to his cry, though. Lantillifieth started to flail wildly, his eyes looking everywhere through the slits of his helmet. Soon, though, his movements became weak and erratic, and his eyes became dull. He slipped into oblivion.
Waking up, Lantillifieth looked around himself. He and his squad where surrounded by greater daemons of She Who Thirsts! He destroyed the great daemons with his bare hands, and rescued his squad. They all thanked him, then turned to make a circle without him. Laughing, laughing, laughing. Laughing at him, who had saved them all. Rage coursed through his veins as they looked at him and laughed, pointing. I am mighty! You shall not laugh at me![i] So saying Lantillifieth leapt at them, but they turned into wraith cannons and slipped into the rapidly rising mist, and he couldn’t catch any of them. Finally coming upon the wraith cannon that had been Camion, Lantillifieth shouted,[i] Help me destroy these fools! You know of my prophecy, I will rule the universe! Come and help me!
Turning to face Lantillifieth, the wraith cannon pursed its muzzle and began to speak. Lantillifieth, run! Run, run, you must run forever before your prophecy will come to pass.
Lantillifieth laughed and responded, No, I will not run. I will face you here and now, coward!
Growing eyes and glaring at Lantillifieth, the wraith cannon countered, We will not, for I am dead, dead, dead… and so are you, you, you... Leave the warp now and go to Fhir Xamath, she will help you find out who you are…
I understand now, respected Warp Spider. I will do as you say. The wraith cannon that was Camion opened a hole into the material world and Lantillifieth jumped through. Waving goodbye, the gun faded and Lantillifieth hit the ground. Hard.
Darkness…. Wait, no… Not darkness. His visor had darkened against the bright light of the sun. Taking off his helmet, Lantillifieth looked up into a bright sky. Remembering what happened in the warp, he shuddered and wondered what foul daemon had been fiddling with his mind to produce such twisted dreams. Go to Fhir Xamath? Who was Fhir Xamath? Should he even believe what he had seen in the warp? Sitting up, he looked around himself. Dry, arid desert surrounded him. How long had he been in the warp? He checked his gear and saw that his death spinner was gone, along with all of his rations. Trapped on a death world with no food or protection, or contact with anyone he knew. At least the air was breathable if slightly acidic, and he still had his armour. He looked up again, and quickly moved out of the way when he saw a webway portal. “What is it with me and the warp,” Lantillifieth muttered.
He had been sitting slightly to the side of the webway gate for several hours now, and nothing had happened. Lantillifieth sighed and stood up. “I guess it’s just… there,” he muttered to himself. He turned and started walking away from the webway entrance into the night, slipping in and out of consciousness until he finally sat down and fell asleep. Waking up the next morning, he looked around himself. Nothing. He began walking over the arid wastes again. “What am I supposed to do!” he screamed suddenly into the sky. “I have nothing to tell me where to go, nothing to eat while going there, nothing to protect myself… Nothing…”
“Hm hm hm,” a voice snorted. Lantillifieth dropped into a fighting stance.
“Who’s there?” he called out, moving sideways, glancing all about himself.
“Ha!” Spinning around he saw nothing.
“I said who’s there?”
“Ha ha ha!”
“Hahahahahahaha…” Voices were now laughing all around him, melting away and coming back. Rapidly spinning in circles now, Lantillifieth turned, eyes glancing in all directions, looking for the creator of the noise.
“Show yourself!” Spinning once again, he came face to face with… a harlequin mime? Wearing a mask of a laughing face, a shifting shimmering suit, the trademark tube on his forearm, not speaking, it must be. Lantillifieth had seen harlequins only once before, in a play they had put on for Biel-Tan… but it was more than a play, it was the history of his race, it was a warning against unrestraint and the reason Eldar kept to the path. “Who… What do you want with me?” Lantillifieth asked. The mime only laughed and beckoned for him to follow. “Okay then…”
Following the harlequin who danced back the other direction, Lantillifieth saw other mimes emerge from thin air, or so it appeared. By the time the small group had reached the warp gate again it was around noon with the sun high in the sky and the wind whipping around, stirring up dust into little tornadoes. The harlequins made a kind of passage as he approached the webway entrance, forming two columns of shimmering lights. Making his way to the front, Lantillifieth saw a female Eldar standing underneath the portal.
“Who are you?” he asked the Eldar.
“I am Soufieth, Solitaire and leader of this troupe. I have been waiting for you to come and join, so we can be the greatest harlequin troop there ever was. Now come, it is time for your Ritual.” Soufieth turned to the webway portal, and she was about to enter when Lantillifieth said,
“What? It is your destiny to become a harlequin. Now come.”
“No. I do not wish to be a harlequin. I wish to go back to the other Eldar, and continue my training. Please, could you just take me back to the other Eldar?” Soufieth looked around, and grinned slightly.
“Okay. If that is what you wish. We will have to spend much time in the warp, however, so you may as well become accustomed to living with us.”
“That is fine.” Lantillifieth followed Soufieth into the webway, and the rest of the troupe followed. One of the mimes handed him a shuriken pistol, and another gave him a harlequin’s kiss. Nodding his thanks, Lantillifieth buckled them to his belt. After walking a little ways into the warp, Lantillifieth saw that the Harlequin troupe had two Venoms as transport. Finally, a safe, easy way of getting somewhere. Climbing aboard, he tucked himself into a corner and fell asleep.
Years passed, and Lantillifieth began to become impatient with the harlequins and their master, Soufieth. Still, he went with them and fought battles with them, becoming more and more proficient with the kiss as time went on. “Will you now become a harlequin?” asked Soufieth after a victory over Chaos Space Marines.
“No, and I’ve said this before. Nothing will make me join the your harlequins, nothing. Why can’t you just see this and leave me alone?”
“Yes, of course. I will leave you alone. You did not wish to be left alone when I picked you up,” she said, reminding him of the fact she had saved his life.
“I’ll think about it,” he sighed. One of the mimes ran up, and signaled,
There is a large force of daemons coming up ahead… shall we fight them?
“Yes, of course. Tell the others we have a job ahead of us. Come, Lantillifieth.” Walking across the field of dead bodies, they entered the warp portal and closed it behind them.
Coming to the daemons, the troupe began to work. Being made up of mimes, and only mimes, they had an unusual fighting style. The mimes would attack and disrupt, then Lantillifieth and Soufieth would hold the main enemy force for the mimes to fall back, then it would all start again with Soufieth and Lantillifieth falling back behind the mimes. The daemons hit, and they began to fight. Hacking, slashing, unleashing the monolecular wires held within his kiss, Lantillifieth downed five, ten, twenty daemons. He swirled through them, a stream of light, bouncing to and from specks of darkness. Whatever he touched faded, and wherever he stepped the daemons shied away from. The daemons ran screaming, and Lantillifieth turned to face the mimes. That was simple, he said. Looking towards him, the mimes began to back up. What, did I screw up somewhere? asked Lantillifieth. The mimes continued looking in his direction, and one of them signed,
There is a large daemon behind you… Turning behind himself, he saw a mighty daemon of Slaanesh.
So we meet again, Lantillifieth. You are not so young now, though. It might interest you to know that I killed and devoured the souls of your Warp Spider squad. They were tasty, but a mere snack to what is to come… Maybe now we shall have our duel uninterrupted. Recognizing the daemon as the one he had fought before, when he was a Warp Spider of Biel-Tan, he met its gaze.
I have learned much since our last meeting, beast. You will not be so easily given victory this time. I will turn you into nothing, the nothing you really are. Now fight me! They clashed and he met its sweeping strikes with parries from his wraithbone shuriken pistol and harlequins kiss. Leaping forward and throwing one of its strikes wide, he stabbed deeply with his harlequins kiss and unleashed the wires within the daemon. Uhh… Falling to the floor, the daemon groaned with pain, or pleasure. Which, Lantillifieth could not know. He stabbed its head with his kiss, preparing the final blow.
He wasn’t too big and scary he called to the mimes. However, in this moment, the daemon reared up and pinned Lantillifieth to the wall.
Got you. Now you will become the nothing you threatened me with, foolish mortal, the daemon grinned. About to rip off his head with its mouth, the daemon leaned forward, his tongue touching the top of Lantillifieth’s head. Stiffening, the daemon leaned further forward… and fell past him, slumping to the ground. Soufieth shoved him out of the way, her shrieker pistol in hand.
Come, we can’t waste our time here. There are more important things to do than waste our time with scum like Fhir Xamath here. Let’s go. Lantillifieth walked towards her in a daze.
I was going to get killed… It would have beaten me…
Yes, it would have. Now come!
Days came and went and Lantillifieth passed them in a daze. He had trained so hard, could defeat minor daemons with ease, and could even beat Chaos Space Marines without too much trouble. Why couldn’t he seem to beat this one deamon, this one… Fhir Xamath. The name was the one Camion had given him! In the warp-caused dream, of course, but… it still had meaning. He needed to get to a Farseer, right away. Only a true diviner could tell him what he wanted to know.
“Why have you not taken me to other Eldar yet?” he demanded one day.
“I thought maybe you would learn to like it amongst the harlequins. You use our weaponry as if you were one of us already, and you can dance and fight as well as we can. Why do you not want to become a harlequin? You could join us in freedom from the Great Enemy, without owing anything or fearing anyone. Come…” Soufieth stepped forward, towards Lantillifieth, and beckoned. “Come, join us…”
“I have already said no, and that is final. Nothing will make me join your harlequins. Take me to the other Eldar now!”
“Okay, if you want us to do so.” Turning to the mimes piloting the two Venoms, Soufieth signaled them. “We will take you to the other Eldar…”
A few days later, Lantillifieth noticed a change in the webway. The walls appeared to be stained with blood, and there became a sort of dark order to the currents. Screams began to be heard, and maniacal laughter seemed to seep from the walls. People began to appear on the streets as they passed, but they were dark, twisted; corrupted. Chains of slaves were trailed after them, moaning, screaming. If one tripped, the thing leading the chain would stop and mercilessly torture it, before forcing it back up in line and making it carry on. Eldar on hover boards zipped by, slicing anyone who didn’t duck in time. The buildings began to grow, and soon they were speeding through a city. The spires and towers vaugely reminded Lantillifieth of his home craftworld, Biel-Tan, but they were covered in spikes, and gruesome trophies hung from them. “You have taken me to the Dark Kin, you fool! I wished to go back to civilization, to go to a Craftworld, but you take me here! What were you thinking?” Stopping in front of one, Soufieth pushed him off the venom.
“Here’s your stop. These are the “other Eldar” you wanted to see so badly.” Seething with rage, Lantillifieth stepped forward. “Ta-ta now!” The Venoms zoomed off in the maze of streets, leaving him there. What is to happen now? Left alone, abandoned, in the city Commoragh, where the most horrible things went on… Right on cue a scream sounded out, piercing the unending twilight. Deciding he wanted to get out of the streets, Lantillifieth rapped on the door to the building he had been dropped in front of. As the door creaked open, he stepped through and took in the inside.
A twisted old man had opened the door, one of the dreaded Haemonculi, most likely. The women in the small outfits were the terrible Wyches, the ones with splinter rifles and spiny armour were horrible Warriors. The three in tight, protective armour surrounding the throne must be the evil Incubi, and the one on the throne a fearsome Archon. “Where am I?” Lantillifieth asked the doorman.
“You have just entered the head building of the Kabal of the Bloodied Claw. I am Faustrach, haemonculi of the great lord Razarath,” Faustrach nodded towards the Eldar on the throne. “You are brought to us by the Harlequin Troupe Shenestra. We will start your career as a pit fighter immediately. Follow me to your new home, the slave pens,” with an evil grin, Faustrach turned down a dark hallway that was surrounded by spikes.
Continuing down the shadowed hall, Lantillifieth glowered at his surroundings. Stupid Soufieth, to take him here. There was nothing to gain, being in contact with the Dark Kin. They thought they were so high and mighty, that their way was the right way and the Craftworld Eldar were wrong, when they were obviously the erroneous ones. Coming down a staircase with a banister covered in wicked spikes, Lantillifieth pricked his finger through the gloves of his warp spider armour. “Ow!” he cried out in pain, while Faustrach merely laughed at him.
“The building lusts for blood and souls… the whole city does. Only by taking in others souls can we Eldar live without fear from Slaanesh, as the weak’s souls bolster our own. You shall soon learn to take off the waystone you wear, and become part of our society… Here is your room. Your next fight will be tomorrow morning. Goodnight and sweet dreams,” he said laughing gleefully. “Sweet dreams, here… Ahahaha…. That’s funny…”
Giving him a strange look and stepping into the room, Lantillifieth found himself packed in with ten other slaves. Turning back to the door, he saw it had already creaked closed, and he was unable to move it, even with all his might. A human came up to him, mouth open in a silent plea, his tongue missing. Hands held out in front of him, in a cupped shape, he was asking for something.
“I’m sorry, I don’t have any food. Or money, if that’s what you want, but I doubt money is much use in a place like this…” The man turned away, and sat back down in a dirty corner. The room was bare, only cold metal walls and the door. Deciding he’d rather be rested than jumpy and sleep deprived to face whatever came next, Lantillifieth curled up next to the man, and fell asleep.
“Rise and shine, it’s time for some fun,” called Faustrach the next morning. “Of to the pit of the Wyches, we are. The master Razarath wants some entertainment, so try not to die too quickly,” he laughed. Herding the ten or so slaves along the corridor, he spoke of the Wyches. “Ah, yes, they won’t kill you quickly. No one dies quickly here… First she’ll cut your Achilles Tendon so you won’t be going anywhere. Oooh, the pain you’ll be in, sitting there, watching your fellow slaves being disfigured, one after another, knowing you’ll be next…” Laughing even more, Faustrach shoved them through a gate at the end of the hallway. “Out you go now, hahaha, have fun!”
The stepped into a bright sand arena, circular, around sixty feet in diameter; and with fifteen feet high walls around the edge. A crowd of spectators had gathered in the seats outside of the walls, the numbers in the hundreds, and all goading for the slave’s death. Across the field was a single Wych. Wearing nought but a thong, and holding only a net and a trident, the Wych approached them. “You look like a weak lot. Try not to die before I’m through with you, it makes me look bad.” Leaping in amongst them, she tossed her net up and darted out from underneath it. Fluttering down, it caught all of them in its grip. The other slaves were sliced by the shards knotted into it, but Lantillifierth’s wraithbone armour kept him free from the sharp edges. He looked about himself, trying to think of a way to get loose, and finally drew his shuriken pistol and shot the strands around him, opening a hole in the net. Clambering out, he looked for the Wych. There she was, toying with the other victims, slicing here, there, prolonging their torment and torturing their mortal bodies. Looking up, she saw him standing, with harlequin’s kiss on one forearm and shuriken pistol held in the other. “So… a challenger, eh? This might actually be interesting.” Charging at him, she darted side to side, avoiding his pistol fire. Coming up on him, she struck his midriff with her trident, piercing the armour. Falling to the ground, he slumped, curling into a fetal position. “Pah, you are nothing, nothing but a juicy Eldar soul for me to devour.” As the Wych reached down to remove his soul stone, Lantillifieth rolled over and kicked her legs out from under her. Standing, shot her in the arm, the crystal shard slicing straight through the tendons. Screaming in pain, she dropped to the ground. Bloodlust roared in Lantillifieth’s mind, he was going to provide entertainment for the spectator’s, and drink her beautiful soul when he was done…
No. What was he thinking? Doing that would only bring him as low as the foul Dark Eldar were, and even though they had turned from the light, they were after all Eldar, and Eldar had so few numbers they shouldn’t help their decline by killing themselves. Stepping away from the unconscious body on the floor, he turned to the slaves and started freeing them, one by one, cutting through the net with his pistol shots, the helping the unfortunate souls out of the snare. The crowd shouted in displeasure at his freeing of the slaves, and the arena vibrated with the noise. However, when freeing the last slave, all went silent, and Lantillifieth turned around. Razarath was standing on the field, along with three incubi bodyguards. Walking slowly towards Lantillifieth, he stopped in front of him. “You fight well, slave… You will serve me in my Kabal. We must outfit you, and then test your strength in a real battle. Come.”
“Why do people keep bossing me around?” thought Lantillifieth, and then he followed Razarath out of the arena.
“You are the first slave in all of my memory to beat a Wych. Let me see your equipment. Your close combat weapon is fine, but you need a better gun; here is a blaster. It uses dark matter to eliminate anything it touches. Use it well. I also see you have a warp jump pack, use it. Now come with me, we will launch an attack on my neighbors, the Kabal of the Black Heart. Overall they are strong and we are weak, but here they are few and we are many. This will be your first test. If you pass you will be allowed to live, if not, you will be dead anyways so it does not matter. You will join green squad, now go.” They had walked through corridors as Razarath spoke, and as he finished they came out into a staging area of the Kabal of the Bloodied Claw.
Walking to green squad, Lantillifieth wondered if he would ever be free. Free from a craftworld, free from a troupe, free from a Kabal. When he could just do nothing, want nothing, need nothing. Where he got to choose what he was doing. Maybe he could escape from these Dark Kin sometime. Climbing into greens squad’s raider, he sighed. Zooming to the battle, he remained stuck in his melancholy mood, and when he fought it was because he was told to. He slaughtered the enemy Eldar, won many fights, destroyed several conspiracies. And yet, he could not care, for he was doing it all for orders. When would he be free?
Years passed, and he sunk deeper into his depression. Why could he not be happy? Because he was following orders, and for foul, perverted, beasts.
Traveling through the webway, the Kabal of the Bloodied Claw came upon many groups of Eldar. They were all traveling towards the same destination, and towards the same foe… A might host of daemons, straight from the Great Enemy. Harlequins, Craftworlds, and Kabals alike flocked to fight. Seeing warriors of Biel-Tan, he remembered Camion’s words: Find Fhir Xamath, she will help you find out who you are… Finally, he had a reason to do something! Finally, a cause for him to fight. To find the daemon of the enemy, Fhir Xamath, and to find who he is…
He met also with Sofieth and Marain, though Camion had been lost to Fhir Xamath. Marain had finished the path of the Warp Spider however, and now was an Autarch. Together with Razarath, they formed a group which would fight together. Then the daemons came.
Many more than imagined, millions upon millions came, pouring from every direction. Though a large host of Eldar had assembled, there could be no outcome but the daemons winning. Looking upon them, the Eldar began fighting, and cries rang out throughout the field.
Meeting the daemons, Lantillifieth ran through them, disintegrating them with dark matter and slicing them with monolecular wire. Archon Razarath, Solitaire Sofieth, and Autarch Marain fought with him, forming a group which represented the entire Eldar race. Fighting together, they killed many daemons, but still more came. They ran further and further through the dameons, becoming farther and farther… Soon they could not see the fortress of the Eldar. Together they came upon a mighty daemon, a beast so huge it towered over them. Could it be…? It was! Fhir Xamath, I am Lantillifieth and I wish to face you! Tell me who I am!
You are food for my master, foolish Eldar. Can you not see that? The daemon attacked, swiping at them.
DIE, FOUL BEAST OF SLAANESH!
A mighty voice sounded, and looking around himself, Lantillifieth saw that Archon Razarath, Autarch Marain, and Solitaire Sofieth had merged into one glimmering figure. It struck the beast of Slaanesh, and the daemon fell back, shrieking in pain. Then it lunged forward, toppling the giant Avatar of Khaine. NO! Shouted Lantillifieth. Leaping upon the fallen figure of his friends, he activated his warp jump genrator. Diving deep inside the daemon itself, he sliced it apart with his blaster and harlequins kiss. Falling down inside the leaking body, now lifeless, Lantillifieth closed his eyes, and felt accomplished. He had destroyed the mighty daemon of Slaanesh, and fuffiled his prophecy. Now he could rest. As he slipped into nothing, he saw the figues of his friends around him. Then he fell into nothing, nothing, nothing…
Zog the Stout - June 16, 2008 03:55 PM (GMT)
Letters of a Watchman by Avaris
To my darling Bianka,
I hope this letter finds you well, if at all; I am sending it via a merchant caravan that should be passing through Bochafan as it travels south. Every day apart from you fills my heart with sorrow, but once the Elector has had his year of service I can return to you and the children. I know the time will be hard, but trust in Sigmar and he will aid you when I cannot. Look to our friends and family, our support in these dark times, and remember that I will return, unlike many others who marched here in the north. The storm has passed, and now our lords ask that we protect those who can no longer protect themselves. This I gladly do, for I have seen the shattered walls of Middenheim and know what they have done for us. Worry not, for there is no danger comparable to what was once faced, and I am merely serving as a watchman for all my time here.
Give my love to the children, and a thousand blessings upon you, my love.
I am glad that my previous letter reached you safely, and that your reply carried with it such wonderful news. My happiness that the gods have seen fit to bless us with another child is tempered only by my sadness that I will not be at your side when you need me most. When I return, it will be to a home I wish I had never left, yet rest assured I will return to you as soon as I can, as soon as I am released from the service of the Elector.
In my previous letter I did not go into detail about my role here, for fear that it would not reach you and the extra cost of the parchment be wasted. Now that I know with reasonable certainty that I can contact you, I feel I can say a little more. We have been given quarters in the Westgate-Sudgarten district, in one of the many abandoned houses scattered around the city. So many people have left the city, and yet more were killed in the fighting, so much so that it feels the living are outnumbered by the dead. We keep watch over a broken people, scarred in ways I cannot begin to imagine. I pray that what befell them does not make its way south, to you and all that I hold dear.
I have been assigned to one of the many patrols roaming the city, watching for looters and minions of chaos. Don’t worry, I’m quite safe; we don’t go out in groups of less than five, and due to the victory of our glorious empire there are no real dangers remaining in the city. Some of the locals speak of rat-men living beneath our feet, but they are just being superstitious northerners; we know this for an old wives tale!
Tell the children the story of the rat slayer,
Forgive me for not writing to you these last few months; the winter has been long and the merchant caravans do not travel as widely as in the more pleasant seasons. Now that spring is finally here my thoughts turn once more to you, you whose beauty blossoms as the plants all around us.
The winter has been hard on the people of Middenheim; many of the crops were burnt in the fields around, and food has been scarce. Not so for you I hope.
Adding to the troubles of the city has been a rash of disappearances; night watchmen and peasants seemingly vanishing from the streets. Worry not my love; it has only been those travelling alone who have gone missing, and I for one am always on patrol with another; can’t be too careful what with these ‘ratmen’ about (I still laugh when I hear the other guards talking about them). I have been assigned to investigate these events, but I doubt we’ll find anything; Old Boris remembers a similar incident years ago, and that came to nothing.
Not too long until I return now,
I fear this is the last time I will contact you, indeed I know it shall. The tales I so readily dismissed were true; the rat-men are all around us, clawing at the doors. It is only a matter of time until they break through, and though the fire of Sigmar is in our blood my sword arm trembles with unnatural fear. I will face them, and I will fight to be with you again, but if I fail know that I will always love you, and that we will be reunited in Morrs kingdom.
Zog the Stout - June 16, 2008 03:55 PM (GMT)
Sacrifice by Flailing Axes
I’m not sure what you really want from me, whether you expect a glorious banquet or a night by the sea. I am going to tell you a story: a story about power and vengeance, a story of emotion and sacrifice. This tale has never been written down, for there are none alive who are here to re-tell it. But I am here, and I have lived long enough to finally speak the truth to the world. I don’t know what thoughts are going through your mind as I say this. Do you think I am crazy? Are you, even now, finding the nearest hospital to look for spare wards? Well I shall tell you now: I am not crazy, though I probably should be. The words that shall leave these lips are nought but the truth, I only pray that you have the ears to listen. Come, sit with me, and I shall tell you a tale to which life is no comparison.
The birds sang in the morning sun, their long high pitched calls awakening the world to yet another blissful day. Shara stood by the balcony, wrapping her hair around her slender fingers. Her face was that of her title: a princess. Her eyes were a perfect jade green; her skin was as fine as the wind that brushed against it. Her hair was as delicate as the skies; it shone in the light of the two great suns, her golden tiara casting light shows upon the shady stone walls. She sighed; the day was so beautiful, so why couldn’t she just enjoy it? She looked down from the city palace onto the streets below: the people were happy, the children laughed and giggled as they ran around the town. The world sang with each passing moment, a never ending harmony that could be heard by all who care to listen. And yet, something about it troubled her, but what was it? Why could she not feel the way all else feels? She loved this place, with all her heart: every lake inside the sharna, every mountain in Ghana’s. She could kiss every grain of sand, every mound of dirt, just for being a part of this world her father had built for her.
She looked down at her hands; they lay flat against the draping tapestries that lined the marble walls. She sighed: every day she had come up here, she had stayed and watched Jheppa rising in the east, she would listen to the sounds of the world: the running water, the croaking lizards, and every time she saw the world be reborn anew. She still came here every morning, for she knew that somewhere out there, beyond the rolling hills of Farnlore, past the crimson forest of Demenhoff, lay someone who held the answer to her suffering. She dreamed about him in her sleep, she searched for him in the day. She had begged her father so many times: let me leave the palace, please, I don’t belong here. And every time her father had denied her. She had hated her father so much for it, she had once even preached of his ill within the Shangti shrine, the Darwa place of worship.
Of course I was foolish back then, I was young, I was demanding, and always deaf to my father’s reasoning. He had known what was best for me, yet if I had the chance, if I could do it all again, then I know I would have done the same. Father had always known about what would happen, being in touch with the gods tends to lend such knowledge. Ah, but you don’t know of what I speak, do you? All shall become clear, in the fullness of time, I have had a thousand years to think about this day, but you do not have a thousand years to listen. Come, I have rambled enough now.
Shara took one final look at the dual sunrise. ‘I will find you.’ She promised, but she wasn’t sure to whom. She turned her back to the beautiful landscape behind her, and she began to walk back into her chamber. The room was filled with light, tiny glass globes were fitted into the marble ceiling. She walked past her large bedroom, filled with furniture of a thick shade of red. She stepped out of her quarters and began to walk along the winding passageways that lead to the palace temple. The walls were adorned with paintings, drawings of great battles long ago fought and sculptures of the five great gods. She made her way along the carpeted floor, her destination: the map room. She had visited it as a child, gazed in wonder at the incredible mountains and far off seas. She took a right hand corner and brushed against a house maiden. Servants were everywhere in the palace, there were said to be thousands, but they were too well trained to be sighted amongst royalty. The young man bowed his head “Excuse me Madám, I pray for your forgiveness” Shara walked on, there was no need to fall astray. She could see the open doorway of the map room up ahead, she quickly checked behind her: no one there, the servant was gone. Slowly she slid herself into the room, closing the door quietly behind her.
She stared around the room in wonder, this was said to be the oldest room in the palace, and it showed. The walls here were covered in cracks, the roof lay lower, however a huge dome raised it in the centre. Light filtered through the hole in the middle of this dome, it landed on a huge table that filled half the room. She made her way towards the great stone tablet; she could see the whole world from above: this must be what the gods felt. The map was amazing, high peaks stuck out from the stone, small towns could be seen, and even smaller people scurrying around like lice. She could see words etched into the white stonework and searched for one that meant something to her. She traced her fingers over its surface, hoping to stumble upon her dear one. Her fingers stopped, she stared down at a land far from Sanya, a land that was covered in mountains. A single word had been chiselled into the stone: G’náyshak. Shara jumped, footsteps were getting closer. She ran to one of the storage cupboards that lined the far wall. As she closed the door she saw the other open. She stared between the two wooden sheets that separated the newcomers from her. She could see two figures, the one, her father, holding a strange sceptre. The other was not a human, his shape was identical, but his body pulsed with light, his face was flawless and he radiated joy. A huge crown sat atop his head, great crystals sat inside it. Shara gasped: this being was a god!
“How is your daughter? I here she has yet to settle”
Her father sighed “Yes, you have heard correctly, she still calls to him in the night”
The gods voice was disturbing, it lacked any emotion, bar indifference “You realise, King Alzan, what will happen to her if she goes to him, have you explained to her the risks, the punishment?”
Her father shook her head “No, I have told her nothing, I cant help but feel the more she knows of him, the more she will try and reach him”
The god said something else, but Shara didn’t hear it. Her hands were trembling, but not from cold. They knew about him, and they knew about her. She had heard the god speak; she had seen the look on his face. She had known then, she had always known, if she ever tried to reach this man, the gods would kill her. A lurking hatred now filled her up: the gods were trying to control her, how could she worship such things? She was shocked by her reaction: she had always loved the gods, ever since childhood. She had read about their kindness and how they had saved the world from total destruction. She was amongst the luckiest of people, most people were lucky to glimpse a god in their lifetime, and she had just been metres from one. Was this man really worth dying for? Was he truly wonderful enough, to separate her from her gods? She smiled to herself, this man must be an enemy of the gods, and she had never even met him, how could she go to him? She didn’t even know how to.
The more I think about it, the more significant that day feels. I was finally, after 20 long years, I was finally being told the truth. You could walk away now, leave the story here, and forever, you will think of Shara as the obedient child whom threw away her chance for rebellion. Or, you could stay with me, and I will tell you about the greatest tale that has ever happened upon this world. You have one piece, of a very large puzzle, and it shall be up to you to try and finish this.
She lay awake that night, her mind restless, her body uncertain. The wind blew in through the open window, hissing and rippling along the bed in which Shara lay. She though of all that had happened today, of all the revelations that had been kept secret from her. Her mind told her, whispered to her, the fate she would suffer should she go to find this man. But her heart, her heart was set upon a different road. Her love for the gods was strong, but her love for this man was something only she could understand. It was that night that she chose; she threw all sanity, all sense of safety, out of the window: she would go to this man. She didn’t care for her punishment, or the wrath of the gods, or the concern of her father. She no longer cared, she was in love, and even if just for the slightest meeting, just the brush of lips, a hug, a glimpse of the man that stalked her dreams, she would die happy. A single tear flowed down her cheek, she would miss this place, but somewhere out there he was waiting, and she would give up anything to get to him. She finally felt the darkness creep from her mind, she felt her mind slip into sleep, and she dreamed of him.
She wasn’t sure what woke her, whether it was the rush of cold air, or the sound of low breathing, but something told her that it was time to wake up. She slowly opened her eyes, blinking in the darkness. She could see a chair, and a shadowy silhouette sat in it. A rush of fear pulsed through her body; she grabbed the knife from her side table and pointed it at the chair. The figure got up, a torch in his hand. The man’s features were cast into rigid expressions. His eyes were brown, though very close to black. His cheeks were high and left small recesses around his mouth. His nose sat perfectly central, a rather unusual feat. The man’s eyes were fixed on hers, and she knew instantly who he was. Her heart leapt out of her chest: he was here. They stared at each other in the darkness, for what seemed an eternity, neither one spoke. “Who are you?” Shara asked
The man smiled “I am Drakin” he said simply “and you my dear Shara” he came closer “Are blushing”
Shara could feel her cheeks reddening, he was so charming, and she hadn’t expected that. He came closer and Shara let him, she didn’t know what to think, but she didn’t care. She outstretched her hand and touched his cheek. Drakin took her hand and kissed it. Shara laughed as he came into the bed, and continued to giggle as they met in the centre. She could feel his warmth beside her and she felt more joy than she had ever felt. She kissed him on the lips. Their tongues met. They wrapped each other in their arms and shared the same warmth. She felt her body singing for this man, her heart raced as the man of her dreams kissed her neck. She waited now, for that perfect moment when passion overtook restraint, and when desire took hold. Shara began to slip out of her dress, slowly, and Drakin giggled as she did so. The two kissed again, only this time more intensely. A flare of lust boiled inside Shara and all sense of restraint, all reason fled from her body. All there was in this world was her and Drakin, and e was all that mattered. She coiled her legs around his waist, she began to drag Drakin closer, she felt him close and felt his hands running along her body and for the rest of the night, nothing but him mattered.
It was the best night of my life, I still dream about him. Do I feel ashamed, knowing that I slept with the enemy of the Gods? No, not ashamed, proud, that is probably closer. It was that night that all doubt was seeded out, there was no other option for me after that night, I would abandon the gods that had given me life, I would abandon the father that had raised me, I would abandon the palace that had homed me. But you know what? It was worth it.
The next morning Shara felt happy, for the first time in her life, a smile pulled at her face. She stretched out her arms to feel the company of her beloved Drakin and frowned as her fingers fell on air. She turned her head and saw an empty space; a creaseless sheet lay where he had been. Had she dreamed it all? Had she imagined all of yesterday, the god, the room everything? She knew it couldn’t be so. She lied back on the bed and put her head on the soft cushions. She looked up and saw a piece of paper sticking out f the bed roof. She tugged at the corner and read the slanted text. I’ll see you tonight it said. She knew she hadn’t dreamed it now, she knew it had been real, all of it. She ran out of her room, not caring her saw her, and danced on the white carpet in her bathroom. She felt so happy, happier than she had ever felt. She stopped turning, satisfied with her moment of happiness, and walked back into her room, opening the wardrobe to retrieve fresh garments.
She was back out in the open air, the gentle breeze brushing against her thin clothes. She could smell fragrant roses and could hear running water coming from a nearby stream: she was in the garden. She sat on a small park bench, a book in hand. Her fingers flicked from page to page, careful not to bend the spine. She could see a shadow approaching across the clean cut grass, her father’s tall figure advanced on her slowly. She forced herself to stay calm; surely he didn’t know, surely. The look on his face was certainly of concern, but not of anger, Shara was thankful for that at least. He came towards her and sat down beside her, he clasped her hands in his “Shara, there is something, something I have to tell you” Shara stared at her fathers eyes, she had never seen him like this “Something I should have told you along time ago” Shara had to clamp her mouth shut. She wanted nothing more than to spit it out, about last night, about everything, just to stop the look of sorrow etched on her father’s face, but she let him continue. “There is a problem, with certain, person in this world.” He sighed “this person is a threat, Shara, a great threat, and I must do whatever it takes to keep him from you. He is an enemy of the gods; he is an enemy of your mother”
Shara felt her heart stop. Her mother. Father had never spoken of her, what did this mean? “Father, what do you mean? What business is my mother of the Gods?”
Her father sighed “I have told many lies to keep you safe, Shara, but now is the time to speak of this. Your mother” he paused “Your mother is a goddess” Shara felt dizzy, he mother, a goddess, and what does this make me? Have I betrayed her? No “Shara, look at me” her father’s voice bought her back, she hugged him tight and wept on his shoulder He patted her back lightly and then held her in front of him, his look serious once more “This person, this man, he is the child of a daemon, Shara, a daemon. Do you realise what such a union would cause? The unison of a god daughter and a daemon child?” he stared into her eyes; she saw his expressions shift and feared he had seen into her mind, she was almost in tears again when he finally let her go.
She didn’t sleep tonight; she paced her room, waiting. The tension was agonising as she strolled around her chamber, her head swam with anxiety; every time she heard the creak of a floor board her heart would give a jump. She stared out of the window: the great moon enveloped the sky, casting silver light on the far-off plains. She needed hi to come tonight; they had much to talk about. She stared longingly out of the open window before turning back. She jumped as she saw the figure in the chair. Drakin glided over to her and placed his hands on her shoulders. “What’s wrong? You’re trembling”
Shara looked into Drakin’s eyes; she saw through them like a tunnel and travelled along them. Drakin was frozen with fear; there was no sensation like it. Shara saw into Drakin’s soul and was horrified by what she found. A great hole lay were a human’s soul was contained, she could see now all of her fathers warnings, all the prophecies that forbade this union. This man was evil. She didn’t feel wronged, or betrayed, she didn’t feel anything. She looked into Drakin’s eyes, a tear rolling down her cheek. All her life she had been looking for this man, and now he was being torn away again. It wasn’t fair. She felt like a child as she thought it, but there was nothing else to say. Drakin looked away; he couldn’t bear to look at her, his dark hair all that showed of his face. The silence dragged on, neither could do, nor say anything. They just stood there, in the dark, staring at one another as if through a brick wall. Drakin looked up at Shara, finally he spoke. “I want you to know,” he said “I’m not a bad person and all I ever wanted was to be with you”
Shara looked deep into those shallow eyes; she thought she could see something; a single tear rolling from his eye “What do you know of love?” she said, her eyes pushing him backwards “You have no heart, you have no love!” as she said the last word, the room fell silent again.
Drakin began to walk towards the window, his feet gliding along the mantled carpet. He paused once he reached the open air and he turned to face her, his face streaked in tears. “I cannot choose what I am!” he said to her “I cannot help being the way I am!” he was sobbing as he spoke, tears swimming down his face “I was willing to die for you, to give away this wretched life!” he was tearing at his hair, hid proud face thrown into chaos. “Please, just give me a chance!” he was on his knees now, clinging to Shara’s loin skirt, sobbing into the thin linen. Shara stared down at him, she felt hurt. She felt her heart constrict as he sobbed. Was he killing her? No, she still loved him. Even after all she had learned she still loved him. She could feel memories of last night creep into her mind, images of joy and visions of rebellion. She remembered her father and all he had warned her of, of the gods and of her mother. She had seen a god with her own eyes, they wouldn’t understand, they would kill them both. She laughed at herself; she couldn’t ever settle could she? But this place wasn’t for her, even if the gods killed her, she would finally be were she belonged, and then nothing could separate her from her beloved Drakin. “Drakin, my father has warned me, he says the gods will kill us if we are found together.”
Drakin’s eyes were filled with joy, not at the news, but the fact that Shara had decided to stand by him, over her parents, her gods, and her home. “Then we mustn’t linger, I know a way, a way which can take us far from here, in just one night, we could leave now!”
His eyes were filled with excitement, and Shara couldn’t help but feel a little giddy herself “Don’t be silly, we cannot outrun the gods”
Drakin shook his head “No, we cannot run, but we can hide, I know this world better than anyone, I can loose us in the Darhunt catacombs in a day, they’ll never find us.
He was gasping, ecstatic at the thought of being with the woman whom had filled his dreams. He was already on his feat, tugging at her sleeve to follow. Shara smiled, she loved him so much. She let him drag her out of the room and hurried herself along the passageways. Drakin seemed to know the layout well, he walked with a certain confidence that not even servants walked with. They were heading towards the map room, strange how significant the room had been in changing her life. They finally reached it, two torches glowing on either side of the door. Drakin paused as his hand reached the handle. “You nervous?” he said, a smile stretched along his face.
Shara shook her head “No, should I be?” They both chuckled and Drakin threw open the door.
Shara looked around the room; something about it still captivated her. Drakin walked to the right hand side of the room, beckoning to Shara to join him. They were standing on a small stone circle, one of eight that circled the map. Drakin was muttering something in a strange language. His voice didn’t flow; it sounded horrible “Dek-arra, Shongaradk, Resekabaendon” he shouted and a ring of fire shot up around them. The flames seemed to fan out, shielding them from any other threats. The heat was comforting; however the sound of her father’s voice was not: “SHARA! NO!”
The old king sprinted up the narrow corridor, his eyes enraged and his face a grimace of hate. The whole corridor shook as he sprinted down the narrow passage, his heavy boot rising and falling as he moved towards them. Time seemed to stop as he came closer. She could feel Drakin’s heart beat: a slow thudding sound that was like cannon to the ear. Shara watched her father raise his hand and stared as it began to glow. She watched as a beam of light began to propel itself from his hand towards her chest. In one moment, time unstopped. Shara screamed as the strike reached her and Drakin began to fall as the portal opened.
And so I came to realise just how important this was to the gods. Of course I didn’t think about it then, all of could think about was pain, and shock at what my father had done. I would come to forgive him later, in truth he didn’t succeed in what he tried to do, if it weren’t for Drakin, I would have been in far worse pain. What my father tried to do was take my soul from me. It is a painful process if it takes thousands of years, to do so in a few seconds would have been excruciating beyond belief. But it didn’t work; all my father did was succeed in dooming me and Drakin. Thanks to him, half of my soul was gone, and that half now rested inside my beloved Drakin. Come, this story is nearing its end, but much is about to happen.
Shara could feel fire all around her; she was sure she was dying. She could feel a great hole inside her, yet when her eyes travelled down to look she could see no wound. She gripped Drakin tight, depending on him to guide her. She could eel air rushing past them, but not just from down, from all directions. It was like being inside a tornado: the winds battered you from every side and you know if you don’t get out soon you will be crushed by the wind. She could see a great black mountain, its craggy sides scared by the years of weathering. It rushed up to meet them; carrying them safely from her father’ wrath. They slowed down as they reached it, the winds hushed and the fire melted to air. She could see Drakin concentrating, slowly lowering them onto a safe location. They landed together, in each others arms; Shara looked at Drakin and gasped: his eyes! He pulled away, shocked at himself as much as she. He gasped as he saw her, his eyes shining a deep navy blue. He outstretched his hand and touched her cheek; his hand lay warm against her skin “You’re so…beautiful” he said. She could feel herself blushing, but she didn’t care, although she could feel the wound in her heart, when she was with Drakin, she felt more complete than ever. He slowly stepped away, his eyes scanning the world as if for the first time, he looked out at the great forests and stood in awe of the great mountains, he finally felt what Shara had felt all her life, and he loved it. He stood there for many minutes, just taking in the beauty of the world, and then he walked back to his soul-mate Shara. She looked into his eyes again, neither of them looking away “What happened?” she asked
Drakin just smiled, running his hand through her hair “I don’t know” he laughed weakly “I just don’t know.” They lay there under the shadow of the mountain, just lying there on the rocks, enjoying each others company and wasting away the day. They lay there together as the two suns came down: a beautiful oasis of shimmering light blanketed the world: each tree shone an eerie red, the fields turned into plains of gold. The sky was caked in a vibrant orange; birds flew over the widening horizon. Shara had never seen anything so beautiful; an artist would one day draw this scene: two lovers lying together in the majesty of the sunset, the emotion, the passion. They lay thee together until the last beam of light left the plains, the whole world thrown into a peaceful tranquillity. And they joined it in its sleep.
Drakin awoke to see Shara sitting on a stone; her knees were tucked in against her chest, her hair blowing in the early morning breeze. He took a moment just then: one second to admire her beauty before walking up to her. She didn’t look at him as he approached, and neither of them spoke: they were closer now, and words no longer held the power to describe their love for each other. It was a beautiful morning, the suns were out and the birds were singing; the world was slowly awakening: the flowers opened, the animals emerged, and the river running across the plane shimmered with light from the newly born sun. Shara turned her head towards him, half her face cast in the light, the other held in the shadows “Tell me you love me” she said. “Tell me you’ll stay with me, just stay here forever, forget everything you ever were, and just stay.”
Drakin had never been spoken to in this way, his heart sounded like an anvil against his chest “I’ll be here with you, even to the end of time, when the suns die out and this world is cast into darkness, I’ll be here with you.” His voice was filled with reason, any woman would have longed to be spoken to like that; Shara was no different. She looked into his eyes and her smile crossed between her cheeks. She hugged him, her arms clinging tightly to the man of her dreams. But when she withdrew her face was stern “But what about my parents? What about the gods?”
The words seemed so alien to Drakin, for two days all they had spoken of was each other, all they thought of had been their little paradise. But now the illusion cracked, they knew this wouldn’t last forever, now they must fight to keep it from the ones they had spent their whole lives with “They will come for us, but they wont find us, I’ll take us away from here, far away, and we’ll just keep running, we’ll run until the worlds ending if we have to, I nearly lost you once, I wont let that happen again” he meant it, he was willing to do anything for her now.
“You’ve changed, so much. And now, I’m afraid.”
“You don’t need to be afraid; I’ll be here with you; I won’t let them hurt you.”
Shara smiled “I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid of losing you” She sobbed on Drakin’s shoulder “I can’t leave, you’ll change again, I know it, and I don’t want to, I ca- I can’t” her voice was smothered behind her cries, she said more, but Drakin couldn’t bear to hear anymore. He held her tight; his own tears flowing down his cheek. They held each other until Shara raised her head, her face smeared with tears “I can’t go from here, I would rather die than let this place die”
Drakin knew how she felt; he wouldn’t have thought he was capable of such things, to show mercy, to have pity. But this woman had changed him for the better, and that was something he couldn’t afford to lose “Alright” he stood up, lifting Shara by the hands, they stood there, hands clasped and staring into each others eyes. “We’ll stay here” he hugged her “Together.”
Drakin didn’t sleep that night; he stayed by Shara’s side, slowly stroking her hair in the light of the moon. He had never seen anyone so beautiful, he had heard only stories of the beauty of women, he had roamed the lands and found only one who had ever contended with these stories, that woman now lay beside him; her breathing slowly rising and falling with the sound of the wind. Drakin looked out to the stars; he sought out the gods whom looked upon this scene. He knew they would come for them, he could hear their curses upon the wind. His eyes returned to Shara and he sighed; why do all good things come to an end? He thought back, was she worth it? Was all of this really worth the wrath of the gods? He laughed at the thought; it felt like talking to Shara all over again. He knew she was worth it. She had changed his life, had given it purpose, and now, upon the eave of his doom, she bought him peace. He had cherished the last two more days than any number of years before. He would have traded the world for just one more hour with her. He could feel his eyes beginning to close; he watched the stars darken as he began to slip into sleep, he saw the moon blot out the sky as the darkness consumed him.
The morning was bitter. Rain poured down in great waves onto the small clearing, the whole world seemed to shy away as lightening scared the surrounding landscape. Drakin rode on horseback with Shara behind; her legs looped around his own and here head lay against his shoulder. Drakin looked to the skies and saw the gods rage; the whole sky was covered in clouds, the whole world trembling before their wrath. He rode along the craggy passes as fast as he could, he could hear the fell voice of the immortals ringing in is ears. “Daemon child, you have taken what is not yours, return to us what is rightfully ours, spare this land the torment of watching you both fall!”
Drakin roared back to the skies “You gods do not scare me, we are one, and you shall never hold her heart!” His horse’s hooves galloped along the blackened stone, racing against time to be rid off the mountain behind it. The gods did not reply, but a second later the mountain behind them erupted. Drakin screamed as fire was spat from the fiery cauldron and ash rained from the heavens. Shara’s father descended like an eagle from the sky, forks of lightening flying from his rod. Drakin reared his horse as the ground before them was torn open; he looked left and right for escape, but found none. He looked to Shara and saw her staring above, Drakin’s eyes followed to the divine figure. His voice echoed on the winds, striking terror into Drakin’s mind “Child of Devils, descendant of hell, you hold my child, against her will, now you will pay for your crimes!”
Drakin felt the anger rise inside him; he could feel fire building in his hand. How dare he speak of his crimes, he, whom had kept them apart for so long! A light touch brushed against his arm: Shara. “Please Drakin, don’t fight him, please.” Her voice was strained, she couldn’t bear to watch, one of the only men she loved was about to die, and she couldn’t bear to see which would fall. Drakin looked around at the world, his world was on fire: the trees burning and the lake filled with black, how could he fight, when all he cared for was gone? Drakin lowered his arm, his voice was hurled back into the winds “Servant of the gods, your daughter loves me, and you hold not her heart… go ahead, strike me down, you have already killed me, you have drowned my world in hate!” Shara sobbed on his shoulder as he let her off his steed. He dismounted and strode up towards the floating figure. “I’m already dead, now finish this!!” Drakin stood there with his arms wide, his face full of tears, ready to take the blow that would surely come. His last sight was of a beam of light, his last though, of a woman with blonde hair, and a golden tiara
And so; that is my tale of sacrifice. That is my tale of how one man gave his life, for mine. That is my tale of how love overcame violence, of how joy overcame hate, and of how all good things must come to an end. I will leave you now, to ponder on this lesson, but remember what you have learned from me. The next time you look upon a woman whom you love, remember what has been spoken between us, as you walk through that exit, I want you to remember this tale and to hold onto it, forever and ever, like our eternal love. Tell to others our story, for my time is done. I have stayed here to tell this story, now it is time to say goodbye.
Zog the Stout - June 16, 2008 03:56 PM (GMT)
Amorphous Hearts by Yourtimehascome
A brief kick struck Naruto’s arm, both fighters knowing that he was going to block. Sasuke twisted, sending a punch into Naruto’s gut, who dispersed into a cloud of smoke. Another Naruto rushed in from behind, both fighters gaining a glancing hit as the figures connected. Soon, the clones were coming from all sides, Sasuke barely keeping up with Naruto’s oncoming barrage. He had to end this, before he grew to weak to defend himself. With another punch, Sasuke flipped, landing upon the fence not too far behind the fight, lining the edge of the roof. His hands formed the necessary seals, and moved to his mouth as he spoke. “Goukakyuu no Jutsu!” (Great Fireball Technique) Within seconds the rooftop was razed, leaving only ash on the concrete, which in some places had melted. Sasuke smirked, knowing he had finally beaten Naruto. He smirk disappeared quickly, as the smoke cleared to reveal Naruto unscathed.
“How many times do I have to kill you before you die!” Sasuke screamed as he flew upward, almost pausing mid air to gain a better view of his opponent. He placed his arm in front of him, bending his fingers inward in a claw-like fashion. Lightning seemed to form from thin air, focusing itself into his palm. He kept his eyes on Naruto as he spoke again, “Chidori!”
Naruto’s eyes flickered to the figure flying above him, the glaring light blocking his vision. Soon, the image of Sasuke stretching his hand towards Naruto came into view, a small orb of lightning forming within the Uchiha’s hand. Naruto’s mind raced, his hand moving instinctively, forming a spiraling ball of charka within itself. He knew that the Rasengan would not be as powerful as it could be, but he didn’t have time to make more clones. He shifted his feet and prepared to jump, when a pink flash appeared in the corner of his vision.
“Sakura…” he thought, as he turned his head flew to view her. She was running, tears in her eyes, towards the exact spot where the Chidori and the Rasengan would clash. A few thoughts whipped through his mind, analyzing his situation. “If she doesn’t stop…both the attacks will hit her dead on…” He looked back to Sasuke, knowing that he would be able to stop the raging Avenger this time.
“Sasuke! Stop…” Sakura screamed as she continued pushing herself to run faster.
“Maybe if I can get in front of Sasuke, I can stop him from wasting his energy on Naruto, and end this stupid fight!” Sakura felt a sliver of hope, glancing towards the idiot who was trying to fight her precious Sasuke. “Naruto, no wonder no one likes you…” The tapping of her feet created a symphony of rhythms against the cold, concrete rooftop of the hospital. The lightning in the distance of Sasuke’s hand seemed to dance to the rhythm, shifting back and forth to the beat.
The friend’s eyes all closed, each remembering something about their teammates.
Sasuke closed his eyes as he raced towards Naruto, thinking of the times that the two had actually worked together…
Sasuke spun, releasing the windmill shuriken from his hand, sending it flying towards the two figures in front of him. Momochi Zabuza looking towards the weapon with worry. The clone stood directly within its path, unable to dodge, but Zabuza knew that it did not matter, because he could always create another. His eyes widened in surprise as the shadow shuriken shifted, missing the clone and heading straight for his real body. With his arm containing his water prison, he would have a hard time dodging the attack. Tensing his legs, he jumped into the air, lifting them two meters off the ground while his arm still held the prison which contained the Copy Ninja. The shuriken passed harmlessly under him, as he chuckled quietly at the pitiful attempt at his life. He opened his mouth to speak, when he heard the air shift. Another Windmill Shuriken was only a few meters in front of him, hidden in the shadow of the first. He steadied his hand to try and catch the missile, keeping his eyes on the rotating blades of his new enemy. With two puffs of smoke, both shuriken disappeared, revealing two clones of Naruto. The one behind releasing a kunai, and the one in front still flying towards Zabuza, its own kunai in hand…
Sakura forced he eyes shut, knowing she was on course, and hoping beyond hope that she could stop Sasuke. As tears rolled down her cheeks, she faded into memory…
Two trees, scattered with kunai slashes, stood in front of both Genin, as Sasuke and Naruto lay, panting on the ground. Naruto rose again, only to be followed by Sasuke, who seemed especially determined to keep up with the blond haired ninja. Said ninja turned to the nearest tree, and concentrated on the highest mark, which was only a meter or two from the tip of the tree. He sprinted forward, catching Sasuke mimicking his movements across the opening. Both figures slammed onto the tree, each rushing upwards, battling for height. Sasuke began to feel himself slip, noticing that Naruto was too. Both Genin glanced to each other, and slammed their kunai into the tree bark, using it to push themselves to the tip…
Naruto knew what he had to do. His time to shine had finally come. He closed his eyes, accepting whatever fate had to offer…
Sasuke’s eyes felt heavier and heavier as more senbon needles pierced his body. He collapsed, his vision fading. This was the end. He looked up to see Naruto above him, the Genin’s eyes filled with anger. Naruto rose, red chakra pouring forth from within him, and raised his gaze to the, now lone, reflection of Haku not too far away. The killing intent which he radiated was immense, and Haku could barely make himself look at this small boy. He knew he had to end this quickly, before this boy took him and Zabuza out. His reflection appeared in all of the mirrors, each doppelganger raising six senbon needles. The reflections released, sending the needles into the skin all over Naruto’s body. Naruto rose, struggling to his lock his knees. Tensing his arms, chakra quickly engulfed his body. The senbon needles rose, releasing from his skin and falling to the ground…
“He was pretty smart that day…maybe he wasn’t totally useless. But if this is the only way to prove my strength, I am willing to accept any price…”
The figures drew closer, each opening their eyes again…
“Sasuke…Naruto…when did you change?”
Sakura stopped, landing right between the combatants, both seeming not to notice…
“I have to do it now, there isn’t much time left.”
Naruto raced forward, the Rasengan still revolving in his palm. Sasuke tensed his body, pushing the Chidori even further in front of him…
Silence reigned as the bombardment met flesh.
Sasuke allowed his feet to finally touch the concrete, creating a slight tap as they connected. The few remainders of the Chidori disappeared from his palm, and his eyes faded back to the black onyx they had been previous. Those cold, emotionless eyes reflected nothing of what he thought inside. He could feel as the blood dried on this forearm, seeping into the bandages that covered his wrists, and dripping to his fingers, creating a crimson sunset of sadness. He stiffened, retracting his arm through the hole that had just missed the obstacles heart, instead, piercing a lung. Naruto’s eyes widened in surprise, realizing what he had done. He shifted his gaze from Sakura to Sasuke, each staring into the endless expanse of space within the other’s eyes. Naruto glanced to his chest again, trying to move his had to the bloodied opening, which he could barely see behind the pulsing blood. His hand shifted, only to fall to his side, useless, as his conscience flooded back to reality. It was getting hard to breath, and his vision was beginning to blur. He spun slowly, turning his gaze to Sakura, who lay unconscious from Naruto’s push.
“Good, she shouldn’t see this…” were the few words he could manage to think in this, his last hour. He collapsed to his knees, his Rasengan having dispersed long ago, and took his last few, short, exacerbated breaths before death. The wind felt good on his cheeks as he fell forward, slamming his body to the ground.
Sasuke stood silent, a keen observer would notice he was unmoving, except for the short bursts of breath, which rushed into his lungs. He looked at the riddled body of his friend, his one and only. He lied to himself. He told himself Naruto wasn’t dead. He couldn’t be, that loser would never die before he beat Sasuke. Deep inside though, the voice that had cursed him his whole life spoke, its words echoing into the caverns of his memories.
“He is just a rung on the ladder…he was holding you down…you’ll be better without him…focus…you don’t care about him.” One solitary tear raced down Sasuke’s cheek as he accepted his fate, knowing that his goal would have a few necessary consequences.
The Avenger turned, slowly making his way to the edge of the hospital roof. He was about to leave, when a presence entered the area behind him, moving to the corpse that was now Naruto. He turned, seeing a white haired figure kneeling next to the boy. The Sanin placed his index finger on Naruto’s throat, feeling for a pulse. The Toad Sage let out a quick sigh as he found a faint one, beating ever so slowly; Naruto was still alive. He wrapped his arms underneath the boy’s knees and back, raising him quietly and jumping to the corner of the rooftop. He took a moment to glance at Sasuke, and utter a few words. “I’ll deal with you later…Uchiha…” Jiraiya disappeared, speeding off towards the Hokage’s tower, hoping Tsunade was there.
Her hands moved instinctively, filing papers, signing documents, reading mission reports, quite possible the worst part of the position. She had been at it since this morning, trying to tackle the overwhelming amount of paperwork, which had pilled up over the week. A dark hue hung under Tsunade’s eyes, giving her a more sinister look than usual, and her attitude displayed that she hadn’t gotten much sleep lately. She thought of the boy who had saved her life; crawling down to the bottomless pit, which had become her existence and dragging her back out. Her eyes looked to the offices window, which played tricks of light on the brazen-like floors of her current office. As she stared at the comings and goings of shadows on this stage, when the square outline of light that depicted the window grew dark. She glanced up, taking notice of a figure crashing through her window and slamming onto the ground. She rose to scream, and saw who stood before her. It was not Jiraiya, covered in blood, his hair a deep scarlet, which terrified her. It was the boy, lying in his arms, also covered in blood that filled her heart with fear. Although she had overcome her fear of blood, this would be the first real challenge of that fear since she had met with Orochimaru.
“Tsunade, forgive the intrusion, but as you can see this is a dire situation.”
Tsunade hesitated, still recovering from the shock of seeing the injured Naruto. She turned, placing her forearms of her desk, and shoved the paperwork aside, opening the space for the small boys body. Jiraiya hurriedly placed him on the table, speaking again. “He has lost a lot of blood, and I knew you would be the only one who could bring him back. His pulse is faint, but I just hope he has a chance. Can you help?”
“Go get Shizune, and gather as many Medical Nin. here as fast as you can. Jiraiya sped off, and after a few moments, Shizune entered, unknowing of the situation.
Shizune, here; now!” Tsunade was almost screaming at the women. In an instant, said woman was at her side, looking over the boy who lay before them. “You know what to do…”
Tsunade and Shizune moved to one side of Naruto, Shizune biting her thumb and swiping her palm. She twisted her hand, slamming the palm to the ground, and summoning the necessary seals for the jutsu. Black marks erupted from the focal point of the hit, spreading into a square. Shizune collapsed, the ‘only in emergency’ summoning taking most of her chakra. Tsunade stepped in, taking off Naruto’s shirt and placing him in the middle of the circle. More seals edged onto Naruto’s chest from the square, forming an ‘X’ shape across it, centering on the gap in his chest. It was not long before the medics arrived, immediately noticing the seals on the floor. One stood at each corner of the square, while Tsunade led the jutsu. Tsunade plucked a hair from Naruto’s head, placing it over the wound, and then began to form hand seals. The medical nin. around Tsunade mimicked her movements, all forming the necessary hand seals and placing chakra into the jutsu. The group spoke together, finishing the hand seals simultaneously, “Chikatsu Saisei no Jutsu!” (Healing Resuscitation Regeneration)
“We are sorry, you are going to have to wait. Tsunade-“ The receptionist was cut off as Tsunade burst through her office doors, holding Naruto in her arms. Four medics appeared, and the five figures rushed towards Konoha Hospital. Tsunade looked over Naruto’s wound as she ran, noticing that it had healed quite well. She knew, though, that she needed to get him into a stable environment, and do a full-scale check. Jiraiya appeared next to her, keeping with the pace and glancing at Naruto.
“Is he-“ Jiraiya was cut off by a quick message from Tsunade.
“He should be fine, just as long as I can get him to the hospital. He could be out for a week, but knowing him…I’d say he will be down for two, three days max.”
“Good…” Jiraiya was lost in thought. Looking out into the distance, watching the laundry hang from the lazy clotheslines. Tsunade glanced in his direction, and spoke again, this time her voice soft.
“Go…I can handle him…he’ll be fine, but even if you tag along, you won’t be able to visit him until the tests are done…” Jiraiya sighed and nodded, turning off and disappearing into the buildings, which flew past in a blur of colors.
I took no more than three minutes for Tsunade and the medics to arrive at the hospital, entering quickly as two ran off to get a stretcher. They returned in an instant, and Naruto was placed unconscious upon the makeshift bed.
“So, I can understand that the Chidori can have devastating effects on the body, is that why he is out?” Kakashi’s solemn face, or what could be seen of it, was saddened, seeing one of his students in such shape. He would be the first in a long line to admit that he had wronged Naruto, concentrating on Sasuke and pushing him aside like bad meat. This boy, this talented boy, was now ravaged by his own technique…
“No, that’s not it. Considering we healed most of the damage, and Naruto’s amazing healing ability has fixed any problems as far as we can see, there is no reason for him to still be unconscious. To tell you the truth…we’re not really sure what is wrong…”
There was a brief silence between them, both Tsunade and Kakashi still looking at Naruto from their seats at the bedside. Not even one thousand words could describe the picture before them. The Copy Ninja sighed, looking to the older Hokage and rising.
“I need to be heading out. Sasuke has briefed me on the situation, apparently a competitive fight gone wrong. Sakura was knocked unconscious towards the end-“
“Yes, she is stable. We have her here, and she should be waking up any second now…”
“Good…well, goodbye Hokage-sama.” The man turned, slowly opening the door and twisting his head a bit. He paused as he glanced to Naruto again, then closed the door behind him. Tsunade remained standing for a moment, before sitting again next to Naruto. She looked at the boys closed eyes, and spoke softly, almost hoping no one would hear.
“So…how was your day?”
Iruka glanced over Naruto’s body as he sat, only few meters away, grading his new class’ papers. His former student had been out for a week now, having a varied array of visitors, ranging for Neji to Lee. The boy before him was so still, much unlike his usual self. Peace and silence reigned with the room, and Iruka turned his gaze to the window, where that sun could be seen rising.
“Its so beautiful sometimes…” Iruka’s thoughts were broken as the door opened, revealing Kakashi, dressed in his usual outfit. After walking in, Sakura filed in behind him, looking obviously annoyed. Kakashi moved to Iruka, shaking his hand before speaking.
“Anything?” Iruka merely shook his head, giving the blatant ‘no’ to Kakashi. Kakashi frowned, and moved to the genin’s bedside, looking over the boy’s body to check for ay signs of movement. He sighed, taking a seat next to the boy and retrieving his favorite novel. It was at this opportune moment that Sakura chose to speak up, voicing her annoyance to the residents of the room.
“Why do I have to be here, Kakashi? It’s not my fault that this idiot choose to fight Sasuke and lost-“ Sakura was cut off by Iruka, who rose immediately in rage.
“You would do well to hold your tongue, Haruno Sakura, you have no idea who you are speaking about, or what he has done for-“ An ongoing trend of interruptions had seemed to catch on, as Kakashi interrupted Iruka with a hand wave, silencing the chunin and allowing the Jonin to speak.
“What Iruka means is, you should be more grateful the boy who saved you life, on numerous occasions, the rooftop incident being the most recent.” Sakura’s look displayed a large amount of confusion, so Kakashi continued. “Just to name a few: Your first real mission, Naruto fought very well against both Zabuza and Haku, protecting both you and Sasuke at some points. In the forest after the Chunin Exams, it was Naruto who defeated Gaara and saved your life; not Sasuke as you thought. Also, Naruto was the one who convinced Tsunade to become Hokage, pretty much ‘saving’ this whole village. Not to mention most recently, where he almost sacrificed his life to save yours.” The examples hit Sakura hard, and she slowly dropped into a nearby seat, looking as if her whole world was a lie. “You were right in the path of the Chidori, and your precious Sasuke had no intention of stopping. Had Naruto not noticed, and pushed you aside, taking your place, it would be you in this hospital bed, maybe not even that. Your fate could have been much worse, but guess who saved you…again. Naruto has given so much for you and this village, and all he has received was pain. Your, and the village’s, rejection for yet another example. I admit, I could have done so much more for Naruto; trained him better, taken him and you and Sasuke all under my wing, even given him the thing he always wanted: Family.” Kakashi paused again before continuing. “I am not without sin, but I am not the only one who has wronged Naruto.”
Kakashi’s words sunk into Sakura like knives, piercing her hard outer shell and aiming at the heart. “Naruto…all those times…and yet I always rejected you.” Tears began to form in Sakura’s eyes as she stared at the unconscious hero before her. Her hand slide forward, gripping Naruto’s hand tight.
The moon bore down on Konoha Hospital, reflecting the sun’s light onto Sakura’s sleeping visage. She had decided to stay with Naruto until he awoke, when she could apologize to him. She had wronged him so much, and she knew she had a lot to make up for in Naruto’s case. The dried tears on her cheek had left small streak marks on Naruto’s forearm, where Sakura had laid her head before. She awoke to the sound of the mundane heart monitor increasing. The monotonous ‘bleeps’ of the machine grew more rapidly in pace, and Sakura enviously glanced to Naruto, who had a pained expression on his face.
“’Help!” Sakura screamed into the hallway, still holding tight onto Naruto’s hand. A Nurse rushed in, and moments later, Naruto’s body started to spasm violently. Twitching within the bed, Naruto’s mouth began to foam, and his back arched in pain. The Nurse, as well as Sakura, screamed for a doctor, and a few members of the staff rushed in. The thrashing of Naruto’s body made it difficult to examine him, but he remained perfectly fine, no medical reason could have possibly caused his seizures.
Zog the Stout - June 16, 2008 03:57 PM (GMT)
Refusing Oblivion by Wizwum
Worthless. Stupid. Kill me.
"We've located the Third Child. Commencing termination."
"Don't hate me, little boy."
Gunshots? But I'm alive.
"Don't hate me."
Why? Why do I live? What is my purpose? I have none. I am worthless. Worthless like sun cream on a rainy day. No. More worthless. More worthless than any other thing in the history of existence. I don't deserve to be alive. I don't deserve to be killed. I don't deserve the satisfaction of killing myself. A waste of space. A waste of air. A waste of life.
"Lets go. To EVA-01."
I'm supposed to pilot the EVA. Told to. No choice? I have a choice. Choice to live, choice to die. I chose to pilot it. But why would i pilot it? I can't kill. I'm not worthy of the ability to decide who or what lives or dies. So why do I pilot it? I shouldn't. I pilot to impress my father. But why? He isn't impressed by me. I may as well not pilot it at all. Worthless, stupid Shinji.
I can't pilot it. I hurt too many people. Too many things. I hurt Toji. I hurt Hikari. I hurt Ayanami Rei. I killed Kaworu. Asuka.
Kaworu is dead, because of me. I should die, but I don't deserve the release. If I die, someone else feels the pain of killing. I cannot kill myself. I have killed too many. Death would be a reward. I have earned no rewards for what I've done. I've killed because I was told to. But I had a choice. I chose to kill. Again and again. I don't deserve to kill. I don't deserve to kill anything.
"Lets go, Shinji. Decide if you're going to run away, or going to the EVA!"
I should pilot the EVA? Why should I pilot it? Piloting the EVA to hurt more people? Why should I be allowed to? How can I? Or pilot it to protect myself? Why should I be protected. Others can be protected. Those I have hurt. They want protection. They need it. I don't. Let me die. Everyone will be happy. But I shouldn't be happy. I am not allowed to be happy. Piloting the EVA makes me happy? Happy I'm hurting people? No. Piloting the EVA makes me unhappy. I understand my worthlessness. I hurt too many. Maybe I should pilot it. But then I become hurt, and everyone else gets hurt.
"Otherwise you're going to die without accomplishing anything!"
"Help me, Asuka. Help me."
Asuka. Piloting EVA hurt you more than any. What have I done? I 'beat' you. I 'won.' But this victory is not something I enjoy. I hurt you too. Hurt you more. You can't even pilot EVA anymore. All because of me. EVA is your life. If you can't live then you want to die. You should die more than I should. You should be allowed the privilege. I shouldn't get to die. Nor should I get to live. You are out there, whilst Misato wants me to hide in Unit 01. That is me. Always hiding. Always a coward. Never brave enough to face them. Cowardly hiding in Unit 01. Watching everyone else suffer and feel pain, whilst I watch from on high. Like God. I don't deserve this power. If I am God, then I am to blame. To blame for all the suffering. Just like I made everyone around me suffer. You most of all, Asuka. Synchronisation. My score was higher than yours. Your hatred towards me made you suffer even more. My higher score. Does it make me an EVA? Closer to being one than you or Ayanami. I am an EVA, the monsters made for nothing but destruction and pain.
"You rely on help from a girl? You always run away. Indecision is the worst! Now hurry up! Stand up!"
"No. I want to die... I don't want to do anything."
"Spoiled kid! You're still alive, right!? Don't waste your life by dying!"
Rei. I piloted the EVA to first protect you. But that has all turned to pain. All I do causes you pain. If I had never piloted the EVA, would you be dead? Would you be in more pain than now. Either way, the pain you are is my fault. The pain you could have been would also be my fault. I am to blame. I can do nothing but hurt people.
More gunshots? Misato is hurt? She's willing to sacrifice herself for what might be? For me? For the lives of others?
"As long as we're in here, a little time is alright. Don't worry. It's not bad."
Her wound is bad. I'm going on the lift. The lift leads to EVA. EVA. Where I'll hurt other people.
"The power is on. It'll work. Listen, Shinji. You're on your own now. Decide for yourself, nobody will help you."
"I... I can't. I can't. I don't want to hurt anyone. Before, I thought I had no choice... but it was just a lie. I'm no good. I thought only to get in, and pilot EVA. I don't want to betray myself. I know nothing. There's no value in me getting into EVA. I can't help anyone! I was cruel to Asuka... I killed Kaworu! Not a side of merit. I'm just a cheating coward and I always hurt others. It's better that I don't do anything."
"No one will sympathise with you. If you don't want to get hurt, then die doing nothing."
I hate me. I'm so cowardly. Weak. Cruel. These tears just show my self-pity.
"Nothing will change if you cry! You don't like yourself, do you? That's why you hurt others... You know that hurting others is more painful than hurting yourself. Your remorse is the result of that decision, that you made yourself. It has value, Shinji. That's who you are. Don't lie to yourself about what you can do and then beg forgiveness for your mistakes."
"Misato, you're one of them! You don't know how I feel!"
"So what if I'm 'one of them!?' Are you going to stop doing everything!? If you stop everything now... I'll never forgive you! For the rest of my life! You're not perfect. People make mistakes and come to regret them. I said this before. I've loved myself and hated myself again and again. But every time, I believed I improved myself. Listen, Shinji. Pilot the EVA one more time, to face and finish it. Find the answer to the reason for your existence. Find for yourself why you came here. And... when you're finished... come back. Promise me."
How can I say no? Saying no will just hurt her even more.
"Have a good time."
What is she doing? A kiss? If I hurt her so much, why would she kiss me? If all I did was hurt everyone, then why would she make me pilot EVA. Piloting EVA is what causes the pain, isn't it? But if EVA caused pain, it would have been destroyed. And if I caused pain, I would be dead. Her necklace. A memento? A charm?
"It's an adult kiss. We'll do the rest when you come back."
Can I really do this? I have no choice. Or is that just my mind? Do I have a choice? If I choose not to pilot it, will that cause more pain than if I do pilot it? Either way will cause pain. I hate myself. Why do I have to cause pain. I choose different paths, but no matter what, I cause so much pain. I hurt too many people. It isn't fair! Crying again? Crying, knowing how much pain I cause. I resent my existence. I wish I could turn back time. Back to when none of this happened. No EVAs, no pain.
Blood in my mouth? Why? Was I injured? No. Misato was. Misato was hurt. Badly. More pain, caused by me. As usual. Is it an addiction? Do i choose to cause all this pain? Of course I do. You always have a choice. I have to stop lying to myself. Making excuses for my wrongs. Accept them, accept that I cause pain. All on purpose, I choose to cause pain to others, just because I can.
The EVA. Should I pilot it? Yes. Misato would be more hurt if I didn't. I have to. No. I don't have to. I choose to. I have the choice whether to pilot it or not. And I choose to. If I don't pilot it, everyone will be hurt. Everyone will die. Or is pain worse than death? Death offers a release, a release from the pain of life. But what is living. Living is being around people. Friendship. Love. Nobody wants to be around me. But why did Misato give me the necklace? And the kiss? Was that not out of love?
"Shinji! Get in Unit-01!"
I'll do it.
"Entry plug locked. Proceed with LCL injection."
"All signal monitors displaying normally. Position the entry plug."
"Entry plug locked into EVA. Release clamps."
"Move EVA-01 to launch bay 05."
I'm here. The surface. The other EVAs are here. I'm being lifted. I have no control! Unit-01! Respond to me! Has control been taken away? Because I cause too much pain? Do I just sit and watch now? I have no choice as to what happens? All this life full of choice, has led to this final moment. I've made my last decision. Has it caused more pain than the alternative? Misato seemed sure I haven't. And I trust Misato. Trust comes with friendship.
What are these? Angels? More EVAs? They surround me. Like a cross. Is this the end? A crucifixion. I don't want to suffer more! This can't be right! I don't want to hurt anybody else! Give me back control of Unit-01! Stop this!
"Damn it... damn it... damn it!!!"
The controls aren't responding. The EVAs. Lances of Longinus? So Unit-01 is being crucified. The pain. There is no way out of it? Do I have to bear it? There is nothing I can do.
Agony, agony, agony! PAIN! Why won't it stop!? I'm getting hurt. As much as I hurt everyone else. All the pain I caused, compiled into this one moment. This moment of the worst pain I've ever suffered. Asuka? This is my reward for beating you. Are you happy? The pain I'm rewarded with. Does this make up for the pain I caused you? No. This is just physical pain. Physical pain makes you scream in agony. I caused Asuka much worse pain. Mental anguish. The EVA is everything to her. Destroying that destroyed her.
But do I really deserve this pain? And what is it for? Is it to give everyone I've hurt satisfaction? Or is it to protect everyone else. Pain that would otherwise be inflicted upon everyone else. But I don't want to get hurt. I don't like hurting other people, because it hurts me! I'm scared of pain. Scared of death! But is death what is being brought to me. Death is what I have brought everyone else. Misato's death. Kaworu's death. Everyone will be dead by now. But what can I do? Is there any way my death would prevent all this? Any way my pain and my death will bring salvation to others. If so, then is it worth it? Am I good enough to achieve it? Misato believed so. Misato believed in me. Confidence in me. Misplaced? Maybe. But, then again, maybe it wasn't. Maybe I am capable. Maybe I can do this. But why? Why should I die? Whatever I do, it'll cause even more pain yet again. I need answers.
Ayanami Rei. What are you doing before me. Third Impact. Is this what is coming. Will this result in the death of everyone? The end of humans? Everything we fought for, we caused and received pain for, is worthless. I cannot have made everyone suffer for this. But what must I do, to prevent the death of everyone. Must I accept what is happening? No, if this was the right way, then everyone would already have been saved. If I am to sacrifice myself for the lives of everyone else, then why am I still alive? Unless I have to refuse what is happening? What must I do?
"Are you alright?"
Kaworu!? Kaworu! Smiling. Do you believe in me? Are you not dead? If you don't believe this is what I must do, then why are you smiling? I have to refuse all of this. I have to refuse everything. Everything that is happening, I can stop it. I was meant to pilot the EVA to save everyone. If I hadn't piloted the EVA, I would never have been in this position. I'd never have been able to save everyone and everything. Piloting the EVA was the right choice. The pain was unavoidable. All these decisions I've made, they were right. I can save everyone. I'm not helpless. I have a reason to live. I'm not worthless. I can do it!
No! No! No more! No more pain, no more suffering. This is it. This is the end.
Zog the Stout - June 16, 2008 03:57 PM (GMT)
Blue Fire by The Admiral
In lands far away, a city stands. It is an old city, an ancient city. It is inhabited by neither Man nor Orc, no. It is inhabited by the foul and cruel Elvenkin. The most bloodthirsty race of the world. And they are intelligent, yes. Not the mindless killers that people claim them to be. They are intelligent enough to know what they’re doing and vicious enough to do it. Only the most cruel of men, orcs and Iclese would be able to execute the acts of cruelty that the Elves do by the day, but one day, the Elves reach the pinnacle of their cruelty. Every year, one day is the most bloody of all. That day is today.
It is the day of the couraguous foe, one of the great feasts that the Myarí hold every year. It is a bloody day. The blood orgy, that’s how it is known in other lands. It is the pinnacle of Elven decadency. Murder in celebration. Death in sacrifice. Surrender in dishonour. A praise to the Elven gods, the violent and omnipotent in Elven culture. A confirmation of their might. A thousand victims sacrificed in the name of Omvyor the Great, Omvyor of the Heavens, Omvyor the Creator, Omvyor the Ever-powerful, Omvyor the Time Lord, Omvyor the Cruel, Omvyor the Fanged. Innocent souls, dark souls, it doesn’t matter. Every soul is equal in the eyes of the great beast. Yes, a thousand people die for the glory of one. A thousand people to be sacrificed. I am one of them.
We were let out of our small prison cells. There were five of us, but I knew we weren’t the only ones. There were going to be a thousand like us. Humans, iclese, kanh, dwarves, orcs, even elves, all with the same fate, that of unwilling sacrifice. It is the cruel elves that are the cause of all this. It is because of them that a thousand families have been broken. It is because of them that more than a thousand wifes, mothers and daughters mourn the loss of their beloved husbands, sons and fathers. I do not have a wife nor a mother or daughter, not anymore. They have been stolen from me by the very same people who will now kill me. Thus they deserve my hate and thus they deserve to die.
I looked up, a great stone temple stood before me, around me were hundreds of other victims, chained around their necks and limbs, their souls broken. In a procession of misery, they walked towards the grand entrance, watched by the statues of the cruel Elven gods, looking down upon them, smiling as them victims walked to their doom. In the sea of misery and dispair, one being stood tall, and Orc of strong stature. He too moved to the temple, he too knew what was about to happen, why he they were herded inside like goats, ready for slaughter. He too knew there was no escape, not in life nor in death, but he looked at the future without fear, without despair and no one could harm him.
The air in the temple was cool and it would have been pleasant if it hadn’t been for the strong smell of death that lingered in the halls. The footsteps of a thousand lost souls echoed through the great stone halls. The whole temple was made from the blackest stone I had ever seen, the little light there was in the halls came from a hole in the roof at the centre of the temple, but the black stone reflected it so powerfully that I could clearly make out the altar and the pit in front of it. What was the purpose of this pit? It was black and seemingly unendingly deep. To the sides of the pits stone carvings had been made. They showed some sort of battle, but I couldn’t clearly make out what it meant.
I would find out soon enough.
After the doors had been closed, a choir of elven maidens began to sing, their voices compelled me, they told me I was going to die. I, like the others, would be sacrificed for Omvyor the Cruel, most powerful of Elven gods. It was unreal, I had been alive for so long, I had lived. I made my life and they broke it. Fate doesn’t care for life, that’s how much I have learned. People die so that others will live. All life is a struggle against death, and death always wins.
An elf dressed in white robes climbed up the stairs towards the altar. The altar was high up and was situated near the pit. The mount for the altar was decorated with all sorts of battlescenes and figures carved into stone, but I was too far away to make out what they depicted. Had I stood closer, I might have known what was about to happen.
The mob of victims had been noisy, but when the elf had reached the altar and began to speak, they were silenced as one man.
“Cyargo Omvyor, J laida canthor di mundan,
Mnethor cydi k’la thergon,
Cyargo Omvyor, J laida canthor di mundan
Myrahul meni di cyhin argon,
Cyargo Omvyor, J laida canthor di mundan
Mnethor cydi k’la thergon,
Cyargo Omvyor, J laida canthor di mundan
Myrahul meni di cyhin argon,
Cyargo Omvyor. Cyargo Omvyor!”
His chanting echoed through the halls, I did not know what he said, but I could sense the power in his words. With every word his chanting grew more powerful, until his voice sounded through the halls like thunder.
“Espello huranae r la Omvyor!
Hurenae r la Omvyor!
Hurenae r la Omvyor di’Hyo!
With the last words, a huge pillar of blue fire erupted from the pit. It rose high into the air, as if attempting to grab the sky. Victims screamed in terror, but they could not escape. They were nailed to the ground with the psychological nails of fear, hammered through their feet by the greatest, bloodiest and most wicked of Elven gods, dark lord Omvyor himself.
A face appeared in the fire. An Elven face, but one with unnaturally long fangs. It spoke to the Elven priest, who bowed in servitude. To my horror, I could understand every word he said, yet he spoke in a languaeg I had never heard before. He spoke directly to my mind, breaking the barrier of mortal language.
“The time has come again. It is the day of the great sacrifice, the day when mortals will give up their lives in exchange for the everlasting void that is death.”
One by one, the victims were led forward, towards the altar. The first victim was human, a young man, still beardless. He was laid with his back on the altar, trembling with fear. Calmly, the elf, who I held for a priest, placed a stone dagger on the man’s chest. With a powerful chant, he plunged the dagger into the man’s chest. He screamed in agony as the Elf carved an intricate patern into the man’s chest. The carvings began to glow and the elf ripped out the still beating heart. While the man was dying a painful death, the priest threw the heart in the blue flames. The heart burned and with it the body burned, until all that was left was ash. The face in the flames laughed. His laugh was full of hate, full of pleasure. He laughed at the victims, he laughed at the priest, he laughed at mortals. Laughed about how they served him, laughed about how they tried to oppose him, time after time. He laughed about how they always failed. He laughed at life, laughed at death, knowing they too only existed to serve him. He laughed at all things valuable to mortals. Gold, jewels, power, life, even love, for they all vanished over time. Mortals did not know that the most valuable of things was time. Time, it was the only thing of importance, because he who controlled time controled the world, controlled all acts of both mortals and gods. Only time could overthrow him, but none knew. He laughed at their ignorance.
Hours later, his laughter was the only sound to meet my ears, as my heart was thrown down the fire and blue flames burned my soul. Death in sacrifice.
Had I survived, I would have seen that after the last of victims had been burned, it was the time for the elf himself. In a silent ritual, the priest planted the dagger in his chest and in his last dying spasms, fell into the great blue flame, believing Omvyor would take care for him. Thinking that the fanged omni-god would save his soul and lead it to the heavens as his body burned. Thinking that giving up his life would ensure the safety of his soul when all other souls were lost in the void that is Farlonor’s realm.
He could not have been more wrong.
Flailing Axes - June 16, 2008 04:18 PM (GMT)
Congratulations TheAdmiral! Great win there mate, and an awesome piece of writing, thorougly deserved.
MutantMaggot - June 16, 2008 04:29 PM (GMT)
Good judging there: from what I've read so far, fitting comments and marks.
Admiral ... fantastic writing. Somehow you managed to keep it fairly short, while beginning and ending very, very well. A deserved win. :)
Wizwum: just scanned this, and it looks good. But, really ... you are a mod ... use better grammar! As a general hater of typing in capitals and multiple exclamation marks, I think it was very good, but should have got slightly less than 4.3 for grammar due to the drawn out "Aargh!" and capitals. But I tend to be picky, and always spring on styles I dislike, so feel free to ignore me. :)
YTHC: good, but I can't really give comment, I'm afraid. I am completely ignorant of the setting and characters, and I believe that really spoilt it for me. Good, but not exceptional. And perfect grammar, which is always nice to see. :
FA: great writing. the ending was perhaps, as a judge commented, not very strong; but the rest of it was very good, albeit not your best.
I'll read and give comment on the others later. Well done, everyone, especially TheAdmiral. :)
Wizwum - June 16, 2008 04:58 PM (GMT)
Thing is with the caps, it was impossible to portray the emotion via description (as the piece had none), and you should actually hear Shinji's scream in the anime. Its disgusting... The "NO!" was actually from the subtitles, so, yeah.
As to the results...
HLY - June 16, 2008 05:12 PM (GMT)
LoL, better than I was expecting, that was three days hurried writing when my computer lost it's memory and my intended piece ^_^
I've actualy re-written, and greatly expanded it,
but congrats admiral, very good work on winning, I'll beat you next time
MutantMaggot - June 16, 2008 05:13 PM (GMT)
Aye, HLY, perhaps you'll beat Admiral, but can you beat me too? I may have time to enter next time ... :evil:
TheAdmiral - June 16, 2008 06:34 PM (GMT)
(compensation for lack of caps in my piece)
I can't believe I won :P
OWC Seal, OWC Seal, OWC SEAL!!!
Oh man, such a rush of adrenaline!
*goes off to read the other pieces*
Thanks guys, for the support and for the checking.. ^_^
EDIT: Just read the comments by the judges. TBH, my Word doesn't have an English spellchecker, so excuse me for mistakes. Also, I tried to flesh it out, but I felt it was nigh impossible. I started out with a finished story of 1100 words, added another 400 and I really felt I could do no morewithout making it feel slow.
2nd EDIT: Largely inspired by Aztec culture BTW. I'm a Meso-American history freak.. :P
3rd EDIT: Hey, I have a new banner! :D
Mr Marshmallow - June 20, 2008 01:31 AM (GMT)
Pretty much what I expected from my piece :laugh:
High commendations to TheAdmiral for winning, with all of us who entered entering. The OWC Seal is a great prize indeed. :D