Title: OWC Christmsas Fluffathon - Results
Description: It's here.
Flailing Axes - January 21, 2009 09:56 PM (GMT)
First, I'd like to congratulate everybody who entered this year's Christmas Fluff-A-Thon, the quality of all the pieces was high, and it was a very close competition.
Our traditional wooden spoon prize this time around goes to a new member of the site Saekhor, with a respectable score of 30.1. A round of applause for him, he entered despite being up against far more experienced writers, and he came out with a very respectable result.
Unnamed Piece by Saekhor
Grammatical Correctness: 2.8/5
Good Writing: 10.5/20
|Grammar: not too good here, I’m sorry to say. the use of raised rather than rose so often is crippling to your score here. It also uses a confusingly major mix of tense, which too, is bad. |
Realism: well, the detail on both races is goods, and in the feel of what warhammer 40K that has been set out over the years, so that’s good too. The classes, names and squad organisation are believable, and the characters seem highly realistic. The scenario too can be explained well.
Originality: well, here’s where it goes to pot again. the scenario had been done a hundred times over, and each time it looses something. the worse thing is, the actions repeat in this one piece here, we see them same event so many times it becomes drab.
Good writing: bad sentence structure, overuse of the same words, and a low use of interesting words hit you here, Hard. It wasn’t all that much of an enjoyable read, and I found myself looking towards the end rather than gripped by it. You also didn’t mention the theme, of winter, at all here. A supreme lack of back-story was another
downside that cost you.
|Spelling: You got tenses wrong on far too many occassions. A couple of spelling errors such as "Sargeant" (should be Sergeant) were also found. Spelling really is the one thing that you should get maximum points in.|
Realism: Ammunition boxes tend to explode when being shot to pieces.
Other than that, all things we're quite realistic. Again, something in which maximum points should be had, although you did considerably better here.
Originality: Sorry, but the Guardsmen fighting and losing has been done to death. There was hardly anything truly original to it, some short phrases were ncie finds, but nothing extraordinary. You only get the points for not making any painful clich's, but to be fair I wasn't at all impressed with the originiality of the piece.
Good Writing: All too often I have the idea that the wrong word is used for expressing something, or that the events don't happen simultaniously due to tenses when they were intended to happen at the same time.
The sentences hardly ever flowed well, which made it very difficult to follow.
Also, the theme of Winter was hardly used, only the presence of Valhallans and a single sentence right at the end of the story hinting of cold and ice.
Another gripe is that it isn't very detailed, this is not really a story. The characters are just Guardsmen without a personality, the Orks are just enemies without a distinct goal or character, the area is just an area without anything that makes it different from any other random place in the 40K galaxy. There is hardly any development in the story, at all.
|Grammatical Correctness: Many awkward sentences found and a couple minor spelling mistakes. |
Realism: Realistic enough, even though some details were simply strange.
Originality: Not very original, the Last Stand topic has been used over and over again, but a very good attempt at it I must admit.
Good Writing: Unfortunately, while some stories are rushed this was apparently written in a hurry. The difference is that in a hurry the person will often pick up a good story and good ideas and try to commit them to paper as quickly as possible and including the most amount of ideas and details as possible, often producing undesirable and strange results.
|Grammatical Correctness: You were evidently not using a very good word processor, so the spelling was poor, but this section also covers grammar, and I couldn’t find fault in any of your writing on that front. |
Realism: Everything you lost in grammar, you made up for here. All the characters seemed realistic, the orks were portrayed well, setting was good, high mark here. Character reactions could have been a bit better, possibly.
Originality: …people die in 40k…what’s original about that. People lose their heads, they got blown up. It was set in winter, no extra marks for that. It isn’t that original.
Good Writing: It was fairly decent, pace was good, the way the characters reacted gave us a bit of insight, description was present, fairly decent description too. You varied sentence structure, and all the rest of the text book stuff. What you really needed to do was give us more of an impression of the characters, what they thought of each other etc. Plot was flat, needs livening up. It wasn’t quite 2D, but there’s still a lot that must be worked on before it’s 3D
Overview: It was rushed, obviously, the real saving grace for this piece was the realism. You dropped the most marks on the good writing and originality sections, and they are easy marks to pick up, just spend some more time on your entry and you’ll do better.
Coming up next in 7th place, a long time lurker and member here, is Star eagle, with a score of 31.5
Unnamed Piece by Star Eagle
Grammatical Correctness: 3.9/5
Good Writing: 10.6/20
|Grammar: A few unneeded or missing comas, but nothing serious to moan about, save one really, relay long sentence |
Realism: ohhh, nice, you can just see it all happening in your mind as you read. A cracking thing, only minor problem really, on the realism front, is that the path finder suffers from acute marry sueism syndrome, particularly when you where describing him at first.
Originality: well, new twist on an old idea, lone assassin and all that. it’s well done, but the idea is slightly tired. It was a great read, but I have to mark on originality and it wasn’t all that original.
Good writing: a little loo much he did this, he did that, but otherwise no real flaws. it was gripping, and though short, was hard to pull myself away from. The ending was good too, just a nice, smug little feel to it, that summed up the eldar quite well.
|Spelling: Overall well done. A couple of errors, but none that hindered the story.|
Realism: Superman Syndrome. That cost you points. It really started to any me that every other line mentioned his enhanced senses, inhuman speed and agility, uncanny intellect, nigh untraceable movement, top-class weapon maintenance and funky psychic powers. Other than that, nothing that bothered me.
Two other gripes:
- Why does an Eldar need a light crystal when you've just said his eyes are just as good in darkness as in light?
- Why are dark valleys not suitable for camp? The darker the place, the better it is for camping no?
Originality: The whole thing was decently original. The Eldar POV was refreshing. Although it has been done often, not nearly as often as Imperial POVs. Other than that, nothing struck me as especially original. Winter theme was almost absent.
Good Writing: The story started with a short history. That almost killed it for me, these are the things I want to learn while reading the story. Above all, it seemed to me like the description of an event, rather than a story. Firstly, the thing lacked characters. Felwin wasn't really a character in that he didn't have any emotions (apart from two sentences, completely isolated). Granted, you said that he had ruled out his emotions, but there should have been something else, something distinctly his that would make him interesting. Secondly, it all went a little too easy. Never, in the whole piece, did Felwin encounter a problem. Problems are what makes a story interesting, almost as a rule.
|Grammatical Correctness: A number of awkward sentences were found. |
Realism: A realistic enough description, the author was able to satisfy the average reader at describing
Originality: An original enough piece, especially the way he was able to focus more on the actual mission and the pathfinder’s description of the environment than solely relying on a cliché background, which due to its presence brings the grade down.
Good Writing: Unfortunately this story seems to suffer from a severe case of beginning writing syndrome, which is seen when the author rushes through most of the story trying to reach the end. This can be seen on this particular tale simply by the difference in total word percentages given to different parts of the story, with the introductory background having a reasonable percentage, then a huge amount of time which should have been given more attention and detail having a far smaller percentage than would be reasonable and the ending having far more detail in a smaller time span. Unfortunate really, this is a story which could and should have used the 6,000 word limit to its full extent.
|Grammatical Correctness: You, my friend, need to learn how to use a comma. That was the only error I found, but you missed them out so often I had to deduct more than a mark, there were that many incidents!|
Realism: I didn’t find this piece very realistic at all, to be honest. Yes, the setting seemed fine, motives seemed fine, characters could exist, and it fitted with general 40k fluff, but in all honesty, I can’t visualise this ever happening. Things were just too easy for this assassin, he didn’t scout the area for a firing spot, he was able to simply drop into this world, kill the guy and go home. That doesn’t happen. You don’t just kill a chapter master like that, it simply isn’t done.
Originality: The whole silent, uncaring assassin has been done many, many times over. Worse still, it’s an Eldar, silent, uncaring assassin. Killing because of fall to chaos, again, over-used, killed in the open during ceremony, overused. You simply had the setting as winter, not very original. You get the idea, not very original.
Good Writing: This piece really, really failed to move me in any way at all. The plot didn’t grip me, the characters were dead, they weren’t even zombies; they were just dead. I didn’t even get the impression he was a silent type, he was just blank. You didn’t offer any insight to the character’s thoughts or emotions, at all. I know you said he was emotionless, but that’s just unrealistic. He must be loyal, yes, and he doesn’t want anything to do with Ulthwe, surely you could have expanded on that idea. The only thing decent about it was that you described some things. For two months work, this was poor.
In 6th place was me, Flailing Axes. With a score of 40 on the nail.
Winter Star by Flailing Axes
Grammatical Correctness: 4.6/5
Good Writing: 15.7/20
|Grammar: you had a few errors in phrasing, which I personally consider part of grammar even if it’s not. Just a few minor blips though, nothing much really, so it’s loosing you 0.1 point (which would loose you more if I put it in good writing). Other than that, nothing I can spot.|
Realism: The temples of Morr aren’t evil, there respected places, namely cemeteries, not sacrificial pits. Morr was around BEFORE sigmar, too, so they used those layouts backwards there . Again, Morr is the god of dreams and the underworld, not death. he’s the one who guides souls to where they go next and keeps them protected, not this entity of ultimate darkness all your stuff seems to show him as.
Originality: It’s done in a very, very interesting way, with some nice views and stuff. The idea and implication isn’t too new, but it’s different, which is enough for me.
Good writing: There are a few hiccups, such as you sometimes writing in 1st and 3rd person in the same paragraph, or at one point, sentence. You also need to think of more names, two Arthurs just gets confusing. Other than that, it was a nice read, filled with good emotion and suspense, and an easy flowing story line.
|Spelling: One spelling mistake and one grammar mistake. After thorough reading.|
Realism: - The names are hardly Imperial/Kislevite, which did disturb me. It was very hard to place it in the Warhammer world at first.
- The mentioning of words like katana seem odd to me. How can a poor Kislivite boy know the oriental name of a weapon that is extremely rare in the old world and even when it is seen, called a Cathayan Longsword?
- The language wasn't at all Warhammer. Words like "Ma", "Kid" and the like are a 20st century invention.
- Another minor thing, why did the Witch Hunter need Jeremy? It seems odd that he could have just asked Arnold, because Jeremy didn't have a clue either.
Originality: Original and fresh, although I have seen the theme (morality) before. That and being set in Kislev (which was a rather easy option) knocked off those three points. The paragraph in the beginning was original, but not good.
Good Writing: Sentences flowed well, but the story was not that interesting to be honest. Some action by the characters seemed rushed and all in all it seemed to happen too quickly, it felt no longer than an hour, which is not really natural when you go to a tavern, make a deal to find someone, find him within the hour while he's supposed to be nigh uncatchable, get him killed and return to your village that is being burnt down. All in all your writing skills are good, but the story in itself is rather poor, and I think you need a good story in order to win something as prestigious as the Fluff-a-thon.
The first and last paragraphs were not only very bland, but annoying too due to pretending the reader is stupid to the point of being unable to make a moral choice. As the saying goes: "Show, don't tell." and that was exactly the flaw here. If the piece itself had made you think "Hmm, what is this good and bad thing, how do we define it?" then it would have been brillliant, right now you're just forcing the theme into the face of the reader, which isn't good.
The third major gripe is the incredible sentimentality of the piece. I had an idea of the darkness after the first sentence, no need to expand on it for another two paragraphs. Same with the Jeremy-"Ma" relationship. We get the idea. And it's cliché.
|Grammatical Correctness: Found only a couple grammatical awkward sentences, barely enough to keep the score from being perfect.|
Realism: A couple of character behaviors made it impossible for me to give this piece a perfect score, but it got pretty darn close
Originality: The boy that will do anything to save his mother is probably one of the most common clichés in fiction, but the author was able to make it seem as new and fresh as possible.
Good Writing: Unfortunately, despite a very good story, a very good description and some good ideas and overall a good format none can overlook some of the strange character changes and choices shown throughout the story, most notably being the witch hunter who goes from a John Malkovich-esque character to an Indiana Jones one.
And first of the top five is rant and rpg legend Darmort, with a score of 41.1
Unnamed Piece by Darmort
Grammatical Correctness: 4/5
Good Writing: 16.8/20
|Grammar: well, in some places during the tale, you swapped to present tense for a little bit, which is rather disappointing because it rather spoilt it at the time.... |
realism: very real, the names, positions, even how he survived the injury. all well researched, all very highly believable. You could almost expect to hear it on the news really, and the reactions of the characters too.
Originality: loved it, it wasn’t the typical, this is how i survived that mine was, but more about what happened later. At an ends to this sort of thing, it had a fairly happy feel, rather than a gloomy one. only kicker here is it’s almost the same as mine so I can’t give you full originality points here
Good writing: Man, I don’t know what to say. I loved the Christmas joke at the end, real nice touch. I loved it all, the use of two persons 1st peoples perspective. I’m also currently fighting down the urge to murder you for being so good.
|Spelling: A couple of mistakes, nothing major though.|
Realism: While it was all very convincing, you don't just survive falling 500 feet, no matter at what angle you fall. It is most definitly impossible to climb another 500 feet straight up in numbing cold and survive. Climbing while unconscious is the worst of them all. That said, it was very convincing, so you didn't lose a lot of points here.
Originality: Imperial Guard. Classic thing to lose points with you'd say? Not so here, very original and fresh. The only thing that bothered me is that it's Valhalla, which is very, very easy indeed when it comes to 40K winter stories. That cost you points, but other than that, great try and a suitably great score.
Good Writing: Inspiring. A couple of ill-chosen words and phrases, but no major gripes. Not quite Hemingway or Joyce, but miles ahead of regular fan-fic. Good use of First-person, although the options of first person haven't been exploited to the max. The dialogue I accepted without any thoughts on believability, which is good.
The story itself was good, but not brilliant. It entertained me, but it's not really something I'll give much thought to after reading. Not a major gripe, but you didn't get a maximal score here. Winter theme decently done.
|Grammatical Correctness: Unfortunately there were a number of awkward or incorrect sentences when referring to proper grammar and spelling rules.|
Realism: Realistic enough in the description though that is always easier when writing in a first person form. Although falling five hundred feet, living and climbing back up is not what I would call realistic. And that was all at Antarctic temperatures if I recall correctly.
Originality: While the idea of a veteran sergeant who suffered horrible wounds telling his unit a story his focus on the surgery is certainly the reason he gets a lot of points in this category.
Good writing, not bad, above average but not excellent, just Good in my opinion.
|Grammatical Correctness: Spelling was fine, but you have a problem with tenses at the start. You describe everything in present tense, yet your speech and ending are written in past…|
Realism: Yeah, I thought on the whole the piece was very realistic, all the characters seemed to fit perfectly, the setting was believable, the whole darn thing certainly had that ‘guardsmen’ feel to it, so well done again. Only thing I find a little strange is that the sarge didn’t pass out during the procedure, he wasn’t given anything to keep him conscious, so I would have expected him to either pass out or go into shock, rather than just scream. I also don’t see how he managed to climb all the way up the crevice; unless there were hand-holds in the perfect places he couldn’t have done it without his consciousness.
Originality: The whole campfire story idea has been done before, bionic limbs have been done before, you simply took the theme and stuck it in, yet I’ve still given you a fairly high mark. You used first person, which is good, and you also wrote from two separate viewpoints, which I don’t see very often. I haven’t heard of many stories about guardsmen falling down a crevice either. The mark would be a lot lower had you not been experimental with the view points.
Good Writing: The story was, in my opinion, very well written. The characters were great, the description was great; the whole darn thing was great. If I could choose one thing for you to improve on, it would be that the story didn’t really ‘grip’ me very much. I didn’t really feel bothered about Sarge’s comrades, so that’s something for you to work on.
And in at 4th place, just missing out on a spot in the top 3 is HLY, with a score of 41.6. I'd personally like to congratulate him, not only has he come from last place in the last competition to 4th in this one, he has also earned the highest Good Writing mark in the whole competition. Ladies and gents, I give you HLY. (And his piece ^_^ )
Snow Ghosts by HLY
Grammatical Correctness: 2.2/5
Good Writing: 18/20
|Spelling: Poor. There/They're/Their done wrong on too many occassions, far too many occassions. Every so often capital letters were forgotten too.|
Realism: Maximum score. The beauty of it is, is that the rather fanciful stories are narrated by a narrator who is not that reliable.
Originality: Neither very original nor unoriginal. It didn't amaze me, but the Winter theme was very well executed.
Good Writing: Very well narrated. It was an absolute joy to read even with the embarrasing spelling. Some sentences seemed a bit over-dramatic, but on the whole I'm impressed, it does read as well as any published novel. Also, the plot was interesting, which I find is something crucial and sadly often overlooked.
|Grammatical Correctness: Found no mistakes at all. -Please note that this judge was up at 2am, and after reading through a second time asked me to change HLY's score, but he didn't say what he wanted his review changed to|
Realism: Very good description, right up until the Barman’s incredible feats, which sounded much too incredible for the tone he had started the story with.
Originality: Well, the hunting a mighty beast story is not that original, but the descriptions and yetis prevented it from becoming boring!
Good Writing: As said before, the change of tone and character in the barman was quite strange, but otherwise the story was very well written.
|Grammatical Correctness: A fair few errors in spelling, but the grammar was all fine. I think you could have picked up an extra mark or more if you’d looked a bit closer, but maybe not.|
Realism: Well, what can I say? Nothing struck me as being out of place, character reactions were good, names sounded authentic, everything was perfect. The only reason I haven’t given you the top mark is because I’ve never hard of mistletoe being used in the Warhammer world, just seemed a little out of place to me, but still, very high marks here.
Originality: I’m impressed yet again, really, really impressed. Never heard of a story about Yheetis before now, only thing I could really dock you for (It’s a big dock) was the campfire story, lots of people do it, too many in all honesty, so 2 marks were cut for it.
Good Writing: Well…what is there to say? It was great, terrific even. I suppose a poetic person would call it ‘The Greatest Masterpiece of 2008’. Well, maybe not that great, but this is a seriously outstanding piece of work, probably your best. It gripped me from start to finish, packed full of action, empathy, gruesome descriptions galore. What I love is that you didn’t need to do anything fancy with the writing to achieve it, the techniques were simple and complimented the story perfectly.
And now, for the icing on top of the cake, the big three. In 3rd comes former Fluff-A-Thon champion TheAdmiral, with a score of 42.7
McKenzie's Beetle by TheAdmiral
Grammatical Correctness: 4.4/5
Good Writing: 17.3/20
|Grammar: a few misplaced commas, but nothing major or even really markdown-able, but I can’t give you perfect because of it. Also, in some places you have started a new paragraph when still in the middle of description, or cut something short, which also marked you down a little |
Realism: well, in some places the storyline is hard to believe, while in others it is very believable, so this is a hard one to pin down. It also doesn’t’t help much that its so short, that they really balance each other out. The rest of it though, the descriptions and all, are really believable.
Originality. It’s highly original, as in an area most people don’t like to write about much. The opening, and the minor points, along with your distinct style make it original and different too. The way the characters act is good too, as it breaks away from stereotypes.
Good writing: Now, here is where it shines. it uses your usual, distinct style, but where your style sometimes (read: quite often) makes your stuff look rather sloppy, here it has given it a good, sharp and well defined edge and feel. Combined with strangely likable characters, and the detail thrown in, such as the soldier and the excellent ending, makes it a very good, strong read.
|Grammatical Correctness: Only a couple awkward sentences prevented me from giving the author a perfect score. |
Realism: Incredibly well detailed and realistic environment, no complaint about the context whatsoever, but the characters were just a little bit too strange for it to deserve a perfect score.
Originality: The idea of the Beatles and Warhammer together never crossed my mind, and I do not recall ever reading a piece of fiction which used this too. My only worries is that the Beatles’ reference will not be understood by some, here, the piece deserves a perfect score.
Good Writing: Unfortunately, despite being almost perfect in execution the story itself is not without some faults, with the only one that truly jumped and hit me while I was reading was the strange change of tone from a possible dark comedy to a very dark and depressing atmosphere. This combined with the Beatles references made for an experience which was nothing short of schizophrenic, as such I cannot recommend it to most people.
|Grammatical Correctness: On the whole, very good, but I did find a couple of grammar errors. At the start, when you are listing the rich of Altdorf, you are actually listing them, so you need a colon rather than a comma in this instance. I also found a point where you should have started a new paragraph, but you didn’t, so another tiny part of a mark knocked off.|
Realism: The way Eleanor views Altdorf is very well put across and realistic, her reactions seem feasible, so it’s all good there. The only thing I found a tad annoying was that you didn’t supply motive for why she was killed by the Father. Only other thing was that she says ‘Morr protect her’ and then later say that she doesn’t believe in the gods…a bit hypocritical
Originality: Dark oppressing city isn’t an original setting, no subtle winter theme thrown in. But the writing style, and the beetle were both nice, original touches. Quite high marks here, not spectacular though
Good Writing: Nice high marks here, as was expected. Style was appealing; the words flowed very nicely, not overload on description which was good, and the description you did give gave the piece a nice edge. I didn’t really…care though. It was perfect, as far as imperfections go. But I didn’t really care about the woman; there was very little empathy, though there was affair amount of sympathy.
And now, missing out on the crown is High Commander Schmeag, with a score of 43.3
We by Schmeag
Grammatical Correctness: 4.7/5
Good Writing: 16.8/20
|Grammar: nothing much, some of it’s a bit disjointed, but that seems to be the intention of the style, so I’ll let it slide. |
Realism: well, this, in it’s very nature, isn’t very realistic, that’s the appeal of it though. it’s not realistic, but is so far from realism you want to believe in it. very hard to mark, for that reason. I like it though, and in a way, it is real, for it hit’s one of the ethos’s of the human mind. Not the main one, I will add, as where not all like that.
Originality: well, I’ve never seen anything like it. it gives a face, and a depth, to something that is usually the ultimate evil, shallow and single layers, yet here they are the one who seem real, while They (which I assume is slann and humans?) have taken on this role. it also give a unique account of the events.
Good writing: Awesome is the best word to describe this, deep, and it shows you a really heavy theme too. As I said, the swap of perspective is highly effective and makes the piece enjoyable, and the fact there are no bumps to interrupt the flow is great too. It’s to the point, with no worthless filler, which is also a major boost. only real problem is it’s a bit hard to follow, and doesn’t mention the gods, who are a personality.
|Spelling: None found, first sentence seems intentional, although I don't really get why you did it.|
Realism: Difficult to judge as there are no human(-ish) characters or dialogues. I've judged this on how well it fits in the Warhammer world, and it does seem to fit very well.
Originality: Extremely original. Still, the complete absence of anything winter (even in a metaphorical way winter was hardly used) cost you quite a lot of points here. If a theme has been given, we'd like you to stick to it.
Good Writing: Very well written, although it seems you've been writing in some sort of "automatic" mode. Many adjectives are often used in regular description, but didn't seem to fit quite well in the context of this particular story. A lush jungle for example, why would a wind of Chaos describe a jungle as lush?
|Grammatical Correctness: A couple awkward sentences, but otherwise no complaints.|
Realism: Seemed pretty darn realistic to me, within context that is.
Originality: The approach and ideas used in narration were all extremely original and very well executed.
Good Writing: Very good flow, and except for some few breakdowns and the unfortunate swiftness of the story, I thought it a very good read!
|Grammatical Correctness: Spotted a couple of grammatical mistakes|
Realism: Well, it was as realistic as it could be, I guess. Still, there was just something, I don’t know what, that made me dock a mark. Maybe because you made it seem like they were a unified mind while writing it, and yet you said only when they were free of their masters that they would be like that. I got the impression they were still salves at the end.
Originality: Highly original, never seen anything like this one before. Nice. I wish I could say more, but there is little else I can say, it was exactly how originality should be. Enjoyed every second of it.
Good Writing: Well, it captivated me. I’ll give you that much. Kept my eyes glued to it from start to finish, though I do wish you gave me something I could have empathised with, not sure how you’d have managed it, but I think that’s what it needed for us to understand it better.
And now, the victor. Congratulations to Avaris! High score of 44.8!
A Winter of the Heart by Avaris
Grammatical Correctness: 5/5
Good Writing: 17.5
|Grammar: no real problems that I can find, no matter how hard I try. A few worldliness issues, but you can’t really mark someone down for using different words than you’d expect.|
Realism: It’s all very believable, and the bits that normally wouldn’t be, you made feel very real with your style, so that’s a very positive boost for you. Only real letdown here is that we never really see much of the character himself, not really, which takes away a shade of depth, not a big gripe though.
Originality: It’s done in a unique style half in prose, half 3rd person narrative, which is highly original. The storyline is also very different from the normal one, with no happy ending and a very deep feel to the whole piece. I like it, it’s different, yet still rings as familiar, a new twist to something we all know
Good writing: I loved it! it was excellent, once I started reading I couldn’t stop. The prementioned style made it a very enjoyable read, and the one overpowering emotion of it all. the start was dramatic and effective, gripping and set a good theme for the rest of the piece, as was the end. I also love how the only speech was the two of them calling out each other’s names, and the twist at the end, where t was the other way around, suburb!
Realism: I found the behaviour of the wolves questionable, wolves tend to attack in packs at all times. The situation that one wolf (alpha wolf or not) attacks and the rest of the pack does nothing doesn't really happen, although I can understand why you did it. Different story with the cannibalism. Wolves don't eat wolves from the same pack, even if they're starving. The vampires on the other hand I found very well portrayed.
Originality: Good execution of the winter theme, enough snow and ice at any rate. Plot was original in that I hadn't seen it before. "Original" is not the first word that springs to mind reading, so to say. The theme has been used a lot before though.
Good Writing: Writing style was very good, no problems there. It was stylistically beautiful, beautiful sentences, beautiful metaphors. This does have a flipside however, I found it difficult to read at points. Nothing major (and thus costing you few points) but worth mentioning nonetheless. The one thing that while not being bothering, was something of a failure was the rather uninteresting plot. There wasn't much direction in the story, the end was never in sight until the very end, which is a bad thing in my opinion. The surprise at the end was nice, but not special. On all technical subjects an excellent story, but not really creatively inspiring.
|Grammatical Correctness: No complaints.|
Realism: Despite all the obvious points regarding wolf behavior it was very well described and detailed.
Originality: Very original, vampires and Kislev? Don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.
Good Writing: Excellent flow, amazing story from beginning to end ignoring a couple of hiccups in pace here and there. It could have easily gotten a perfect 20 if prolonged.
|Grammatical Correctness: Not an error to be found, nice one.|
Realism: Everything seemed believable to me, the setting, the context, the little wolf skirmish, all made perfect sense. Only thing I wish I could have seen more of was the character as a whole, he didn’t quite seem 3D, though he was damn close.
Originality: I found the idea of the character risking his life and the like a bit cliché, and it’s a big cliché as well. That said, the rest of it was very original, the way it was wrote, the way it ended, I was quite impressed.
Good Writing: Well, not much to say really is there? Plenty of little things to keep the reader interested, good description, good everything. It was rather difficult to empathise with the character though
Once again, congratulations to all our entrants, and particually our winner, Avaris. May the spoils of victory be yours.
And for those of you who were too lazy to read that and insted just scrolled down here, I give you a brief summary of the results:
1. A Winter of the Heart, by Avaris (44.8)
2. We, by Schmeag (43.3)
3. McKenzie's Beetle, by TheAdmiral (42.7)
4. Snow Ghosts, by HLY (41.6)
5. Unnamed Piece, by Darmort (41.1)
6. Winter Star, by Flailing Axes (40)
7. Unnamed Piece, by Star Eagle (31.5)
8. Unnamed Piece, by Saekhor (30.1)
HLY - January 21, 2009 11:46 PM (GMT)
Grammatical Correctness: 2.2/5 hehehe, yeah, about that...
PS: how did I get the best good writing mark out of the whole thing? i mean, come on, most of the other pieces where better written and everything. ah well 7th - 4th is good still ^_^
PPS: wow, spelling did kill me, if I had got it full i'd have snagged second place
congratz to everyone, special Av for the win
Schmeag - January 22, 2009 07:08 AM (GMT)
Congrats, dear ole' Tom. :) In your own words, "a worthy contender". ;) Avaris and I exchanged pieces a few days ago and I have to say that he is definitely deserving of first place. I could barely find fault with it. :)
To celebrate getting my computer back earlier than expected, I'm going to guess who wrote which critique. I'm guessing that HLY wrote the first one (the spelling gives it away ;) ), TheAdmiral the second, Uther di Asturien the third and FLaxes the fourth.
|Very well written, although it seems you've been writing in some sort of "automatic" mode.|
Damn straight I was! Full steam ahead! In all honesty, I too thought my story was rendered a bit second-rate (no pun intended) owing to the above shrewd observation.
In regard to the misspelt "Sargeant", I do believe that this is the American spelling for "Sergeant". Looking forward to reading the other pieces.
Flailing Axes - January 22, 2009 08:05 AM (GMT)
|QUOTE (HLY @ Jan 21 2009, 11:46 PM)|
| PS: how did I get the best good writing mark out of the whole thing? i mean, come on, most of the other pieces where better written and everything. ah well 7th - 4th is good still ^_^ |
*shrugs* I'm not quite sure, but evidently the other judges felt the same way. Yours was possibly the only piece that actually gripped me, I actually cared about what would happen to your characters. And you did it without hugely long and complex sentances or tiny ones, you didn't use any special techniques, you just wrote. As me and Uther said after the judging was complete "Simplicity at its best"
Oh, and the spelling did kill you, though it might not have been as bad it Uther had kept his mark at 5/5 (< How he managed it, I don't know.) TheAdmiral's markage was the one that shot me, I was actually ahead of you until that point. But it was quite a way below what you and Uther marked me as, so I fell from 4th to 6th. Ah well, different poeple, different opinions I guess.
Flailing Axes - January 22, 2009 08:08 AM (GMT)
Now, I really should have posted these up before those little remarks, but oh well. I give you, the entries.
Unnamed Piece by Saekhor
"Shit!" whispered Hawke while fiddling with his las recharger as it hissed. The battle was raging in the deepest confines of what was a factory, its engines no longer whirling or spinning due to the battlefield around it. Hawke and his squad had been held up in this factory for over an hour and the scent of blood was getting into his nostrils, making him cringe in disgust. He looked over the barricade as he managed to slam a new power pack into the lasgun's ammunition slot, smiling gratefully at the green light on the side of it as it was a full pack.
"When the hell are reinforcements arriving, Sarge?!" screamed a guardsman to Hawke's side, his face and helmet littered with blood and battle dents. The man wore the classic grey trenchcoat as it signified him as one of the Vahallan's soldiers. He looked again towards Hawke as he was about to speak again, only to be cut off by a blast from an enemy projectile smashing into the barricade hard, sending debris wide and high into the air.
Hawke was shaken by the incedent. He lost his footing as he fell back into the confines of the metallic wall that was his protection. The area was littered with the bodies of greenskins and guardsmen, both of which was a dishonour to let such fall to such beasts but in a war you would lose casualties all the time as Hawke remembers it correctly. Slowly he raised up to see over the barricade as he pulled his rusty and constantly used bonoculars from his backpack, raising them up to his eyes as he thumbled around with the focus and sight range. He took a quick look over the edge while spotting orks running around destroyed tanks and scavaging them for parts or even trying to fix them. A cold hatred rekindled in Hawke's heart as he placed his bonoculars down on the ground.
"Sarge?" questioned the guardsman again while loading his lasgun again, hearing the click and whine of the charge fixing into place.
"See those vehicles and tanks that are being scavaged to pieces?" asked Hawke, pointing out towards the previously seen vehicles that are being ripped apart by strange flamer-like welding tools, the sparks of metal on heat flickered around the greenskins as they tried their very best to get the weapons and armoured plates off the derelict vehicles. Hawke gripped his lasgun tighter as his squad all nodded.
"Right, Jones, take two men and advance over to the edge of the factory. Me and Haines will proceed out of the factory to take cover behind those crates and destroyed vehicles, understood?"
The squad of trenchcoated guardsmen nodded again, showing no expression accept rage and anger, this made Hawke smile.
"Squad. Move!" commanded Hawke while sprinting around a cogwheel from a Leman Russ battle tank. He clutched his las-rifle tight to him while skidding on the ice towards a set of ammunition boxes. The boxes were inscribed with the imperial eagle design while bullet holes and las burns were shown across the metallic surface. He ran his gloved hand over the texture of the crates before looking over them, seeing the orks still welding away at the vehicles. Hawke smiled very faintly before whispering to Haines to continue, nodding towards him while aiming at the greenskins, rubbing the grip of his lasgun.
Haines advanced, rolling into a gap of bodies guardsmen and orks, sighing at the stench. He clutched his rifle tightly while looking through the gaps towards the vehicles, the sight of orange sparks reminded him of home but he couldn't let his past get in the way of this as he needed all his concentration and will to fight. Haines' hand lifted slowly as it clenshed, telling Hawke to move.
Hawke sighed and began to move, his form flickered in the light of the sparks from the greenskins main objective. He loosened his grip on his rifle while moving towards Haines, tapping his back with his hand to make him move with him. Hawke sighed and landed in the sandbags of what used to be the first line of defence, nodding towards Haines as he landed next to him.
"Well executed, Haines," whispered Hawke as he looked towards Jones who was holding the doorway of the factory. Hawke waved towards Jones as he raised two fingers, then pulling them back down into a clenshed fist.
Jones nodded. Looking towards the two guardsmen under his control, he slapped the back of one of their helmets.
"Go," he quickly spoke while pushing the guardsman towards the sandbags where Hawke and Haines were situated.
Guardsman Kelly moved quickly. He clutched his rifle tight as he moved towards the Sargeant quickly and without fear. Kelly slowly jumped the barrier of bodies towards Hawke but he landed on the ice and slipped quickly, cracking his head on the snow bitten ground. He groaned out loud while holding his head, writhing around on the ground with shut eyes.
"Fuck! Haines hold position and keep point," ordered Hawke as he slowly moved towards Kelly, crawling towards him on his front. His rifle was out in front of him to help him keep more steady on the crawl. A whistle from the sound of a cannon flew over Hawke's head as he looked up, seeing the projectile sink from the sky. Quickly he rolled towards the groaning guardsman, pulling him away from the place he fell as the whistle got louder.
"Come on!" growled Hawke as he put all his strength in to pulling the guardsman into cover. A bright flash of light blinded, the shockwave sending Kelly and Hawke back into the sandbags with a hard push.
Haines reacted and held Kelly behind the cover, dropping his lasgun quickly as he looked towards the explosion. A sweat of fear ran down his cheek as it froze on him.
"S-Sir...t-t-the factory," whimpered Haines while raising his hand to point towards the burning down building. Jones was trying to move the other guardsman out before the detonation was heard.
Hawke sighed gently as the ash from the building fell on them as if it was snow. He ran his gloved hand over his closed eyes while looking down.
"Reinforcements are not coming," groaned Hawke as he looked to the ground, seeing his lasgun on the ground.
Haines nodded and looked at Kelly while trying to sit up.
"Guardsman Kelly, get off me," groaned Haines before realising that Kelly's legs were just stumps of flesh. Haines yelped while throwing the dead guardsman off him, sending him back to the bloodsoaked crater of the factory. Haines looked towards Hawke as he sighed gently, clutching his lasgun firmly.
"Hawke?" spoke Haines slowly and silently, waiting for his commander's attention.
Hawke looked back towards his fellow guardsman. He knew that there was only one option. Slowly he rose to kneeling position, his boots fully buried in the snow and ash. He smiled grimly before clutching his lasgun.
"Come my friend," Hawke said quietly while rising slowly, looking over the sandbags.
Haines smiled gently as well as he stood as well, holding his lasgun to his chest. He held his hand out to the Sargeant. He firmly shook his commander's hand before looking towards the orks, who were now laughing towards the destroyed building as they stopped welding to admire the destruction. This sent Hawke into a blood-greed state of mind, grabbing his lasgun fully before leaping over the sandbag embankment, running at full speed towards the orks. His trenchcoat waved in the wind and his actions as he fired his lasgun in controlled bursts. He slid on the ice multiple times but this seemed to get him closer to his prey. He got within ranges of his bayonet puncturing the greenskins.
Haines was shot in the chest just as ge lept over the sandbags, his chest cavity splitting wide open in a fashion of gore as his organs spilled out of his body. Haines didn't even fire one shot in the entire battle.
Hawke got within arms reach of the first ork, blasting repeated blasts into it's oversized skull, sending it towards the vehicle it was welding with a sickening crack. A smaller greenskin ran up to Hawke and screeched with a very high-pitched voice before being kicked in the head. It's head crumpled under the impact and imploded. Hawke felt hard impacts against his back as he spun around, seeing a bigger ork lumber towards him, firing his custom made pistol into his chest and stomach but still a lot of the shots missed. Hawke fell to his knees slowly, feeling his lifeblood flow from his chest as he coughed up more blood.
The greenskin moved right infront of Hawke, seeing the human quivering in pain and fear. Slowly it raised it's axe above it's head before bellowing it's kinds battle cry as it swung it's cleaver downwards on Hawke.
Hawke's head exploded from the impact as the axe went through his body and down to his chest, splitting him wide open. The factory had been taken.
Flailing Axes - January 22, 2009 08:09 AM (GMT)
Unnamed Piece by Star Eagle
“Deep in the mountains of Scorn on the continent of Fury on a planet aptly named Glacius lies a fortress monastery. The Chapter Master of the Space Marines inhabiting this fortress is known as Iorek Odinson, the council of Farseers has foretold his inevitable fall to chaos. Khorne will eventually claim his soul. If he is allowed to fall he will take the entire Chapter with him, and this cannot be allowed to happen. For the Farseers of Ulthwe have a special plan for them.”
Those were the words that Ulwin had delivered to Felwin the pathfinder; that was Felwin’s mission, to assassinate Odinson. It wouldn’t be an easy job, in fact it was nigh impossible but it had to be done and Felwin was selected for the duty, some would look upon it as an honour, but Felwin had wanted little contact with his Craftworld since he left, it had been nearly a hundred years since he’d stepped upon the wraithbone floors of his home. In those hundred years he’d fought many battles, against the numberless Humans, vicious Orks, malevolent Daemons, foolish Tau and even the Dark Kin who were beyond description. The years of war and travelling the webway had hardened Felwin’s soul, he was now almost beyond the predations of She who thirsts. He seemed devoid of emotions, he had seen too many comrades and friends die to feel sadness and without sorrow elation lost it’s meaning and he, unlike most Eldar, seemed to stay on a level plain of icy boredom, and a feeling of contempt exuded from him. He as the Farseers had predicted was the perfect pathfinder for the job, his shot rarely strayed from its mark and he never got tied up in the consequences of his actions.
The mountains stood foreboding on the horizon as Felwin stepped out of the portal, his cloak instantly shifting from the dark blue of the webway to the white and grey of the snow and rocks scattering the ground. Behind the scarf covering the lower half of his face Felwin let out a grim smile, and started striding forwards, he needed to reach the mountains before dusk to find a place to camp that night. His stride quickly turned into a brisk jog, his stride long and deliberate. He was consciously trying to avoid leaving prints in the snow. Obviously an untrained observer would probably mistake them for a human’s but even so he didn’t want to take the risk. Most of his steps landed on the stony ground showing between the patches of snow, occasionally on rocks and patches of undergrowth that stuck out above the snow. Despite his movement Felwin was nigh invisible, his long coat and clothes under it were of camelioline material, only the most dedicated observer with heat seeking equipment would spot him as he darted along the ground. He ran without stopping for nearly the entire day, he’d arrived not long after sunrise and the mountains were far away. His steady pace and strong physique eliminated the fatigue that would have stopped a lesser being committing such feats but even so he barely reached the mountains by dusk, and by the time he finally arrived the valleys were deep in shadow and as such not safe for a camp. Felwin instantly started searching for a cave almost instantly, and trekked deeper and deeper into the mountains, his vision almost at good at night as during the day enabled him to navigate the crevices and sheer drops as he made his way towards his nights resting point. Eventually he found a deep cave and cautiously walked in. His gloved hand gripped tightly on his pistol, he sniffed the air, no scent of predator or man entered his nostrils so he relaxed, and walked in further, his hand still on his pistol just in case. His free hand reached for a crystal lying in a pocket of his coat, he activated it with a psychic pulse and rolled it further in front of him, after a few seconds it started to glow with a warm and bright light. Felwin sat down next to the crystal and took out his rifle, he carefully checked it every component was in its place and seemed to be in order. He checked his pistol in the same way, which was also in order. Finally he drew his sword and held it to the light, the warm light of the crystal glinted off the edge of the blade the warm yellow of the light contrasting with the icy blue of the blade. Satisfied with his equipment Felwin lay down to sleep. As he slept the crystal faded to darkness. The night stretched on and outside it snowed, the flakes floating down gently and resting on the previous nights fall, this land of permafrost never experiencing a thaw, just eternal cold. Eventually the sun rose, the cold light filtering through the snow clouds to illuminate the valley below Felwin’s cave. As the sun rose so did Felwin, he sat up and shook of the sleepiness and proceeded to stand up, today was the day, the winter solstice, at midday today the Space marines would parade out of their Fortress monastery to give thanks to the emperor and as they did Felwin would have his chance, he now had five hours to find a suitable spot. If he got it wrong not only would he fail but also he’d alert the space marines to his presence and he’d be found and killed. The importance of his mission running through his mind he packed together his gear and left the cave, he’d stayed a whole night and there was practically no evidence of him ever being there.
The lone Pathfinder strolled through the snowy peaks; all senses alert to any potential hazard, one hand firmly gripped his pistol, the other the hilt of his sword. Should his enemy see him he’d be prepared to defend himself, most likely to the death, he was fast and strong, almost as fast and strong as an Eldar Warrior could be without the enhancing powers of an Exarch Suite, but he was no match to a full squad of astartes. Luckily for Felwin he crossed no patrols, and with a full three hours to spare he reached the mountain to the left of the fortress monastery. The vast group of fortified buildings were huddled between three mountains, which formed natural walls on three sides, the gaps were filled with great walls of ceramite and adamantium, designed to take practically anything the universe could throw at it. This fortress would probably survive an exterminatus strike followed by a century long siege, it was a symbol of the power of man and in it’s strength it was awe inspiring.
However thought Felwin it was designed to protect against armies, not lone assassins
That was it’s fatal flaw, in all it’s might, the moment the Chapter Master stepped outside he would be devoid of any protection it offered. His armour and his faith in the emperor would protect him, and that wouldn’t be enough.
Felwin took up his spot as the sun neared it’s highest peak of the day, the cold light peaking through a gap in the clouds illuminating the path that the now doomed Chapter Master would tread, his final path was laid out before him and unknowingly he would walk to his death. Felwin allowed a small smile to flicker across his features as he considered his targets last moments, undoubtedly he would be praying or preparing for this ceremony, that is if he hadn’t fallen already, if the dark gods had tainted him already then it would be too late, his death would only appease them and possibly tip the chapter towards what their kind called heresy, and what the Eldar knew as damnation. However the Farseers had predicted that now was the time to end this life and if the Farseers saw that that was how it should be, then that is how it would be. As Felwin lay hidden deep in contemplation the mighty doors of the fortress opened slowly, their massive bulk being heaved open by machines almost as old as Felwin himself, the screech of gears and shuddering of the doors scraping along the icy ground echoed throughout the valley, on the opposite mountain a small mound of snow gave way and cascaded down the mountain in a small avalanche, gathering momentum and mass as it fell downwards till it reached the valley floor and came to rest as a vast snow drift. Felwin ignored all of this as his target had appeared, the Chapter Master stood just inside of the vast archways of the door, he was addressing his battle brothers as he prepared to lead them out on a ceremonial march. Felwin brought his rifle up and began the preparations to firing.
Firstly he cleared his already uncluttered mind, a feat almost impossible to humans he accomplished through sheer power of will, his mind focussed solely on the target as he took aim, his already keen senses heightened to sharpness unimaginable to lesser races. To Felwin it seemed that time slowed down as he tracked his target, a false fire would ruin everything, so he couldn’t afford to miss.
His target turned to face the valley and stepped out of the Fortress.
Up on the mountain Felwin tightened his grip on the trigger and felt the soft kick of his rifle as it fired. The laser guided round sped through the air, faster than the speed of sound, too fast to be visible even to the sharpened senses of the Eldar Pathfinder.
After what seemed an eternity it hit home ripping through the solid armour of its target’s helmet and into the soft flesh of its head. Iorek fell down silently blood seeping from a single hole in his helmet. Instantly there was mayhem, Space Marines dived for cover and brought their weapons to bear, rounds were fired off into random directions and search parties were organised. But by the time the first scout squad reached Felwin’s spot he was long gone, by then he’d reached the webway portal and had disappeared.
Flailing Axes - January 22, 2009 08:10 AM (GMT)
Winter Star by Flailing Axes
Good. It’s a strange little word, isn’t it? A mere four letter word, yet has the power to stereotype a person in a way almost every other human can understand. But what exactly does it mean? What is ‘good’? Is a good person kind? Are they helpful? Are they jolly old folks who bring presents to children? Is it all of them? Is it none of them? Is it even possible to define?
And what about that other, funny little word? Do you know it? Three letters, complete opposite of good. Yes, bad. Now what is it about ‘bad’ that is so different to ‘good’? Are bad people corrupt? Are they rich? Or are they simply ‘bad’ people? Did we just make the word for those people who have opinions different to our own? Is that who a ‘bad’ person is? Or don’t you know?
Two words that you don’t know the meaning of, all you know is they are opposites. Well what makes them opposite? What makes ‘this’ person so much ‘gooder’ than ‘that’ person? Still don’t know? Alright, answer me this: are you a good person? You’d like to think so, wouldn’t you? You’d like to say you’d put more value on another person’s welfare than your own. But are you really a good person?
I suppose you don’t know the answer to that either, which is a shame. But it is a question you must learn to answer. And to answer it you must know what good is, not just the definition that oxford dictionary will give you, in your mind you must know what the word truly is. That is a question I can answer for you. Listen now, and I will tell you what is good, bad, and worse.
It perched there, just on the branch, its tail feathers covered by a downy layer of white snow. It looked so innocent; so fragile, as if the slightest breeze might shatter its fluffy frame. Its chest was a brilliant red as it chirped, and almost looked like a blur of fire as the small bird leapt off into the updraft of a winter breeze.
The boy watched the small robin as it danced, gliding in the wind towards the line of the forest nearby, and above. He kept his gaze on the high branches of the trees, wondering. Where does it fly? Does it go to the mountains, or the river? Does it go to neither, does it just fly wherever its spirit takes it and never stray a thought to where else it could be going? I wish I could have that choice, because right now I have not a clue what to do with myself.
He blinked once at the tree line, and then turned his mind back to where he was: the bedroom of his single-floor dwelling. It wasn’t much: just a chest of drawers and a bed, but still the boy called it home. He wasn’t really a boy anymore, sixteen years had passed since his birth, but as the youngest of his brothers it was a title he had to live with.
He motioned towards the doorway of his room, the floorboards creaking as he went. There was no door for him to open, there was little sense spending good wood on privacy while the bitter cold of winter griped the house. The boy turned left into his mother’s chamber. The scene inside was bleak
The boy’s mother lay tucked beneath the covers of her bed, her arms hanging out lifelessly on either side. Her fingers were a pale blue and her face was akin to a ghost’s. The boy walked over to her and squeezed one of her hands in his, trying to share his warmth. “Ma? Are you awake?” he asked tenderly.
His mother squeezed his hand slightly as her eyelids fluttered open. “Jeremy? Is that you?” she groaned, clearly still tired despite the late hour. She was sick. “What time is it?”
Jeremy squeezed her hand in return, and then replied “It’s been at least four hours since sunrise Ma; it’s about time you had something to eat.”
She shifted slightly, uncomfortable. “Are you sure we have enough, my star? I could go hungry if you needed me to.”
Jeremy shook his head “Honestly ma, we have all we need.” He said, stepping into the neighbouring kitchen and taking half of a loaf of bread and a small mug of water, bearing it forth to his mother as he re-entered. “See? Plenty, now come on, eat.”
His mother outstretched a single, bony hand towards the mug of water, and Jeremy guided her fingers towards it, and then helped her raise the cup to her lips. He poured slowly, until his mother swallowed. One mouthful. That was all she could manage. It tortured Jeremy to see her like this; unable to help herself, unable to even feed herself. What had she ever done to deserve it? She’d lived her entire life as an honest person; trying to raise a family any mother could be proud to call their own. And she had. And yet fate’s twisted sense of humour still saw fit to torture her so.
She couldn’t have long left now. The food was almost gone now, and it seemed no matter what Jeremy did, the outcome would be the same. His mother was going to die. He blinked back tears, steadying his breathing so his sick mother would not see his despair. And then she spoke to him “How is your arm, Jeremy?”
Jeremy glanced down to his slung arm, broken earlier in the week when he was out hunting. He massaged it gently, easing the building ache in his joint. “It’s fine Ma, it’s healing slowly, but still healing. You don’t need to worry about me, Ma, just rest.” He said, “I’m watching over you.”
His mother yawned as he pulled the covers tighter around herself. “You’re such a good son.” She said, her voice already faint as she drifted into her sleep once more. “My son…my star…”
Jeremy felt affection rush through him as his mother’s hand went limp in his own, and he laid it gently back atop her chest. I have to help her, he thought. I have to. I have to find a way to save her.
He stepped out of the front door of his home and froze, startled by the bitter cold. It was snowing. Only softly, for the moment, but it was settling nicely, turning the muddy ground into a crystal white carpet. He rubbed his hands together to get some warmth back into his palms, and then started down the rough path towards the tavern, running things through in his head. I could steal the food. The bakers are well off anyway, they wouldn’t mind losing a few loafs, would they? Besides, it would save Ma, and in the end if she can live just a little longer it’s worth it, right?
The snow crunched under his thick shoes as he walked, crisp now that it had been allowed to settle. A few of the children were playing in it, chasing each other and throwing whatever they could fit into their tiny palms. They don’t realise how lucky they are, thought Jeremy. They have no worries, no qualms. It will be years before they have to take off on their own, but until then…well, ignorance is bliss.
The merry sound of laughter reached his ears, and Jeremy realised he was getting closer to the village tavern, the place where every pitiful excuse for entertainment occurred in the village: gambling, drinking, bards, this was where it all happened. Light danced in the windows; reflected by the roaring fire no doubt inside. Jeremy rubbed his hands together again as he reached the front door, and then turned the handle.
The scene inside was, as always, a jolly one. Men sat at wooden tables, laughing with their arms wrapped around whoever was on their left and a tankard full of ale gripped in their right. The bar was crowded by customers trying to get an order in, while a sweating barkeep rushed forwards and backwards to his kegs, grasping greasy mugs overflowing with booze in his hands. This was a place where you could drown all your worries, quite literally.
Jeremy plied his way through the mass of bodies crowding the counter, hoping he would get heard before somebody else grabbed him and pulled him to the back of the line. “Arnold!” he shouted at the bustling man, noting the beads of sweet trickling down his face. “When you get a moment, I’d like a word.”
“I’m a little busy right now kid! Try coming back in an hour I might just have a few spare seconds!” he replied, thrusting filled tankards into the dozen or so outstretched hands.
“I kind of need a word right now, Arnold. You seen anybody round here who’s new to the place?” he asked, just before a shoulder barged him from the front.
“What was that boy?” shouted Arnold, scraping the coins from the counter and slamming them crudely into his pocket, half of them dropping onto the floor.
Arnold tried to pull his way back to the front, shouting as he did “I said is there anybody new around here!?”
By now Jeremy had almost been shoved to the rear of the crowd, but the loud, burly voice of the barkeep still managed to reach him “Someone rented a room about an hour ago, sitting round the corner I think, hasn’t touched his drink yet, weird fella.”
Arnold cursed as some kind person elbowed him in the ribs, knocking him further back and stealing the breath from him. “Thanks Arnold.” was all he could manage, but he doubted the man could hear him, not over the clamour of voices demanding a fresh tankard.
Sighing, Jeremy stepped away from the bar. Arnold was a kind man, old, and less sense of hygiene than a sewer rat, but kind. He’d helped Jeremy out a fair few times in the past, and had put his neck on the line at least once for him, when Jeremy and his older brother had snuck into the chamber of the Duke’s daughter…her bathroom chamber. Jeremy smiled fondly at the memory I slept well that night, he mused or at least, I dreamt well. He’d been a very mischievous character in his younger teens, both him and his brother, Daniel. Oh, the trouble they had gotten themselves into, and the amount of times Arnold had bailed them out were far too many to count. Their mother had always wondered how she had managed to raise two rebels like them, when her eldest was completely the opposite, always buried into a book or scroll, in fact Jeremy couldn’t recall a time when old Harolde had ever left home without his beloved personal library.
Of course, this had all been before their father had come back. He’d been in the imperial army for nigh on ten years, and hadn’t once returned to his home, until then. At first it had been brilliant; for a week or so Jeremy had laughed and drunk with him, and even had a little scuffle in the corn fields on their farm. Then he told them that he hadn’t really come to stay; that he was going to have to take Daniel and Harolde with him to Praag, and then Jeremy when he was old enough. He didn’t want to separate the family as he did, but he had no other choice. When the emperor calls, you don’t just say no. From that point onwards in had just been the two of them: Jeremy and his mother. For months after they left, his mother had wept, haunting Jeremy’s dreams with anguish and grief.
Jeremy rubbed his chest where he had been hit, and dragged his thoughts back from past times to present business. He could see the man Arnold had spoken about, lurking in the far corner of the tavern, sitting alone with his arms folded across his chest. His clothes were ripped in several places and all seemed to be of the same brown, discoloured cloth. A strange hat perched atop his head, the kind you would expect a cackling witch to wear as she flew away on her magic broomstick.
Jeremy walked towards him, weaving in and out of tables and various puddles of booze littering the floor. As he approached, the man looked up, his eyes cold and unflinching. Something about him unsettled Jeremy, not just the way he stared at him, there was something else he couldn’t quite place. There was an aura about him, like an unpleasant smell that told Jeremy this man shouldn’t be spoken to, yet he still found himself sitting next to him, staring right back into the cobalt depths of his eyes. “I hear you’re new in town.” Jeremy stated.
The man paused, his gaze never leaving Jeremy’s face. The boy shifted uncomfortably. Those eyes were not cold without reason; they had seen things, things that shouldn’t be spoken of. And now those eyes were pinning him into his chair, searching the depths of his mind, analysing every little detail of the way he sat, the way he spoke and the way he waited, patiently. The man was like a machine. “Yes.” He said, almost robotically. His voice was rough, with a thick accent that Jeremy couldn’t place. Judging by his skin, the stranger couldn’t have been more than in his twenties, but his response and unflinching stare said otherwise. It was like speaking to a ghost trapped in a young man’s body.
Jeremy swallowed, suddenly wishing he had never left his home. This man was dangerous, he just knew it. You could tell. The way he sat. The way he stared. He was like a panther, lying in the grass and surveying his prey, waiting for it to stray close enough to pounce. But who was he hunting? Who was his prey?
Jeremy gulped, and then spoke again, trying to restrain his suspicions and fear of this man. “So…why are you here?” he asked, his voice shaky with anxiety. “You don’t seem like the kind of person who goes anywhere without reason to.”
Once again the man paused; analysing the question thoroughly before posing an answer he was content with. “I’m looking for…some information.”
“What about?” asked Jeremy, trying not to sound pressured by the man’s ominous presence.
“A man” He replied, this time without pause. The way he said it made Jeremy curious, but the man’s now icy stare told him there would be no more talk of his business until Jeremy gave him reason to.
“I could help you,” replied Jeremy. “In exchange for something.”
The man’s expression softened, as if he could understand the boy’s intentions now and was content he would do nothing against him. “And what is it that you need, that I possess?” he asked
Jeremy felt a smile coming to his face. Despite all the signs the man wasn’t to be trusted, he was about to deal with him. He spoke slowly and clearly, a smile stretching across his face. He felt alive. Powerful. “My mother is waning, and I cannot support her with my injury. I need food for the winter, as much as you can spare. If you can do this for me, I will get you the information you’re after.” Jeremy outstretched his good arm
The man left the hand hanging there for a few seconds, before accepting it in his own. “I will help, however I can. You will find the food waiting for you when you return to your home. But now, you will have to do a little job for me.” He leaned in close, and whispered into Jeremy’s ear. “I need you to find the man called Arthur Wayne, and follow him, do you understand?”
Jeremy frowned “How long for? And how will I find him?”
The man spoke again, in a hushed whisper that sounded almost like a snake. “Arthur isn’t like me; he doesn’t want to be found, but if you want your mother to live then I sincerely suggest you discover him one way or another. You’ll follow him until you know you’ve found out what I need to know.”
Jeremy didn’t like it. At all. Following men at the orders of a stranger? No, that wasn’t a road he wanted to follow “And if I refuse?”
The man smiled “It’s like I said. If you want your mother to live, you’ll find him.”
Jeremy felt his heart stop. This man was beyond dangerous, he was mad. But if he didn’t do what he said, the fiend would kill his mother. I don’t have a choice, do I? It’s his game now, and I’ve got to play it by his rules. “She was right you know,” the man said, still grinning “You shouldn’t ever talk to strangers.”
Jeremy stared back into the monster’s eyes, noting the flair of life now evident in them. “You’re a bastard.” He said coldly. What else could he say; the man had flipped his world upside down and was now marching him towards his grave. Bastard was the only word he could use to describe him. “After I have what you want, where do I find you?”
The man sat back in his chair, the grin that had adorned his face gone, replaced by the cold mask he had worn to begin with. His voice was dark. “You won’t. I’ll find you.” He said, as Jeremy got up from the table. “You’d better get a move on Jeremy, if you ever want your mother to see another winter star.”
Jeremy shot the man a look of utter hatred, his eyes almost ablaze with his silent fury; fury at his own stupidity and fury at the strange man that had threatened to kill the only thing left of his family. He began to walk away, a new sense of purpose filling his step.
Arnold watched him as he walked, and the worried look in his eyes told Jeremy he had probably been watching the entire event. After a word with one of his other staff, he came over to Jeremy, concern written all over him. “What’s happened lad? And don’t tell me it’s nothing because I’ve seen that look a thousand times on your face. What did you and that man talk about? What are you going to do?”
Jeremy very nearly told Arnold the whole truth there and then; he probably would have, were his head in any state to think straight. “I’ve done something Arnold. And it’s bad, really, really bad.” He swayed on his feet, unable to deal with all the emotions swimming through his mind: fear, hate, love, misery; it was all too much for him, he wasn’t ready for something like this. Arnold steadied him, and looked him dead in the eyes, waiting for him to explain. “It’s what you said would happen Arnold; I’m crashing and burning, it’s all happening so fast, I need, I’ve got to find, I, I.”
Arnold shook him. “Damnit Jeremy! Talk straight would you? What did that man say?”
Jeremy looked back at where he had seen the stranger, but all he saw as an empty seat. Then he remembered his last words to him, and suddenly everything became clear. “It’s my mother. I have to find Arthur Wayne, right now.”
Arnold frowned at him, as if he had heard wrong “Wayne? What the hell would you want with-”
“There’s no time Arnold! I have to find him!” shouted Jeremy
Arnold looked at him, taking in the desperate look in Jeremy’s eyes and the heaving of his chest. The boy wasn’t joking. He nodded “Alright lad. Wayne is one of them travelling gypsies; go around with weird flowers and the like. They’ve got a caravan in the hills just north of here, but you won’t find Arthur among the commoners there; he’s a strange one he is. Word is he’s been to the temple of Morr an awful lot in the time he’s been here, that’s the best place to start.”
Jeremy nodded, understanding “Thank you Arnold, thank you.”
“Take the back door.” he said, clapping Jeremy’s shoulder “Good luck”
Jeremy smiled at him, before walking the length of the tavern towards the back door.
The temple of Morr was a bleak sight indeed, nothing about it could be mistaken for a church; the whole structure reeked of death. Where there should have been the loving statue of an angel, there now stood a sentinel reaper; huge scythe gripped in skeletal hands and a necklace of black roses adorning his midnight robes. Foul light filtered through the stained glass windows; casting vile shadows of demons and worse upon the dark surroundings. The trees bordering the structure lay lifeless, knarred and twisted with branches that bore no leaves. It was a foul embodiment of the god it is said to honour; these were the halls that housed the restless dead; the tortured and broken; the lost and the damned. These were the halls of hell.
Jeremy swallowed deeply as he stared at the ominous structure. I have to go in there, he thought. I will not let my own fear by the cause of my mother’s grave. And so, with an icy wind to his back, he began to walk towards the monastery, his breath a white mist before him. The ground was dark here, so evil and tainted that not even the falling snow could change it. It felt like he was walking towards his own execution; he could feel the flaming eyes of the reaper boring into his skull, hungry for another soul to bring to the halls of Morr.
The high-arched doorway seemed to beckon Jeremy as he approached, ushering him inside. Great, metal handles were nailed into the wood, cold and dead to the touch. Jeremy’s heart thudded slowly inside him as he pushed the doors open.
There was no creaking of hinges as the doors swung inwards, no sudden rush of light that split the temple in half. There was nothing at all. No wind. No people. Just darkness and shadow.
Jeremy almost felt sick as he saw the arrangement of seats facing the head of the chapel; in mockery of the layout of the churches of Sigmar. It was like staring into the heart of your enemy; your opposite; the good to your evil; the cure to your poison. They were the same, in a warped, twisted sense they were almost identical, and yet it was impossible for them to be less alike. Where an arch two young lovers should stand beneath should have been, there was now a raised coffin housing the body of another poor soul of the departed. Where a harmonious melody should have been heard, there was only silence with tears for chords. And so Jeremy walked, past the rows of invisible choir, searching for any sign of life amongst the quiet spirits that seemed to hang in the air.
A scream. A single, terrifying, blood-curdling scream. It rent the silence in two; shattered the peace of the long laid to rest and sent a ripple of horror down to the base of Jeremy’s spine. It wasn’t a long, drawn-out wail of anguish; it was a short, tortured bellow of immeasurable pain, broken and helpless in the darkness of the endless halls of the dead. There is nothing that can describe what it feels like to hear such a pitiful squeal of horror, to hear it is to loose a part of your own soul; to have your innocence taken; torn from inside you, because you know with a certainty that unsettles you that the person you just heard scream is probably dead.
Everything about the situation told Jeremy to turn his heels and run; to sprint out of the still open doors and just keep going; past the tavern, past his home and far from here, where screams didn’t haunt dark corridors and cruel men were just bad dreams. But he couldn’t. His mother needed him, now more than ever before. I will not abandon you Ma. If you keep breathing then I’ll keep going, I swear it.
His feet traced a path towards the right of the altar, where an arched opening lay like the gaping maw of a hungry beast. His mouth was dry, and his face was lined with sweat. His chest heaved in unison with his desperate breathing and his vision blurred as his heart clanged against the bars of its cage in its frantic beat. Thud, thud. Thud, thud. Closer now, closer. Thud, thud. Thud, thud. Closer, a little closer. Thud, thud. Thud, thud. I can do it, just a little further. Thud, thud. Thud, thud. There’s nothing down there, nothing, nothing that can hurt me. Thud, thud. Thud, thud. Absolutely nothing to be frightened of. I’ll be out of here soon, just watch, nothing’s going to happen. Thud, thud. Thud, thud. It’s a little dark, but that doesn’t matter. Thud, thud. Thud, thud. A little dark never hurt anyone. Thud, thud. Thud, thud. You’re doing it for Ma, remember. Thud, thud. Thud, thud. Thud, thud. Thud, thud. Oh god, it’s so dark.
He stood there, staring down the winding stairs; into the vast gullet of the hulking beast ready to devoir him. He swallowed. I’ve got to go down there. It doesn’t matter what happens to me, I’ve got to save Ma. He swallowed again, and then descended.
The darkness engulfed him; completely and utterly, totally; infinitely. In this cursed place no light shone to ward away the blackness; no hope could breach the ominous abyss. There is nothing that can describe it, no word or phrase or tale or feeling that can truly portray the darkness. It stole not only light and warmth, it took so much more. Jeremy could feel it, like the icy tip of a gun pressing into his spine. The darkness was real; almost living. And it could take life; it could sap the will and hope from all who stepped into it and leave nothing but a cowering wreck in the endless shadows. But Jeremy did not falter. He whimpered, prayed, begged and even cried in that chasm of dread; but he did not stop going. His mother needed him.
As he neared the bottom of the staircase, Jeremy could hear something. A voice; human. Something lived down here; something could actually survive in this bleak underground beneath the solemn chapel. Light returned too, slowly, and as Jeremy finally reached the bottom of the stairs, he saw a flaming torch mounted upon a wall. He took it in his hand. He had never felt so brilliant in his life. He could have had any choice of weapon in the world: a sword, a dagger, a staff or a katana and he would have turned them all down. In this darkness, the fire gave him the one thing he needed: hope. It was a childish delusion of course, but as he held it in his hand he felt as though nothing could harm him; no shadow nor beast nor man nor daemon could lay a hand upon him. He felt like a king.
Now to find this Arthur, he thought. He began to walk, brandishing his torch high over his head. The voice he had heard had stopped now, leaving nought but an eerie silence to keep Jeremy company. His footsteps echoed slightly as he walked, suggesting he was in some kind of hall. He felt a soft breeze tickle his skin. A breeze, underground? No, there wasn’t a natural breeze down here; there was nothing natural down here at all. Jeremy took a sharp breath and then spoke to the darkness. “I know you are here, Arthur, show yourself.”
“No, I don’t think I will, boy. I don’t think I’ll be the one obeying orders here. In fact, I think you had best start running now if you want to leave here alive.”
Jeremy was about to retort, when he saw a ball of crimson fire hurtle towards him. He leapt aside, a second too late. Pain lanced up his left leg as the soft fabric of his clothes singed and fell away, leaving only scared flesh beneath. He screamed, and he felt the noise resonate around the entire hall. Time seemed to move so slowly, his scream dragged out into a symphony of agony and foul laughter stretched into maniacal wails.
Jeremy pulled himself to his feet, and looked up to see a dozen robed figures advancing, morphing fire dancing at their fingertips. He bolted, slamming his feet against the cold floor despite the searing pain in his leg. Fire erupted left and right of him, casting the cackling shadows of his pursuers onto stone walls. He had to get out, he had to live! Not just for himself…but for his mother. If he died here, she had no hope. He raced up the stairs with a feverish sweet gripping his body, and his leg burned with a furious torment, demanding he stop and accept his fate. But he couldn’t. He wasn’t about to give up on life just yet!
Blistering heat hounded him as he neared the top of the winding staircase, so intense he felt as though he were engulfed in flame. He almost tripped as he staggered through the archway at the end of his ascent, shocked that his feet had nowhere else to climb. Pain blinded him, sapping at his mind and strength as it consumed him. His muscles shrieked for him to rest, and at long last he obliged, too weary and broken to carry on. He fell to a walk, and then sagged to his knees. Too…tired. Can’t go on, can’t…move, he thought, as the robed figures came up behind him. He had lost. More so than that, he had failed. His eyes closed, and he fell to one side. I’m sorry, mother…I’m sorry.
“Get your hands off the kid.”
Who is that? Words…words were said. Oh, so hazy, so tired. Just sleep, sleep now.
Was that hissing? Snakes too, keeping me awake. Just go away…let me sleep
“Back away from the kid, now!”
Go away! Now!
“I think we can take you, Hunter, a dozen to one sounds like good odds to me.”
Why do they carry on…just go away, I need my sleep. My rest…my damnation.
“Eleven, Arthur, you never could count.” Bang!
What!? What is going on!?
“He shot Arthur, he shot Arthur!”
“To the village, hide in the village!”
Who is talking, what’s going on? I don’t want to sleep anymore, I want to wake up, wake me up now, please wake me up. Mother I want to wake up now, I don’t like this place, I don’t like this nightmare. There’s darkness mummy, darkness and fire, and it’s so hot, so hot, it’s got me, it’s got me now and I’m dying…dying mother…like you.
“Kid, wake up. Wake up kid.”
Slowly, Jeremy opened his eyes. His head throbbed and his body was shivering, but he wasn’t thinking about either. The witch hunter was standing over him, the same one that had threatened his mother and forced him into this. The same fiend. The same bastard. And yet…he had just saved Jeremy’s life.
“Are you alright kid? Can you stand?” he asked, looking concerned yet frantically checking behind him.
“I don’t know.” Jeremy replied, still trying to clear his hazy mind “What happened?”
“No bloody time for that now, kid, now get up.” The man said, shouldering his crossbow and running out of the chapel doors.
Jeremy pulled himself to his knees, still shaken. He could hear the frantic firing of the Witch Hunter’s weapon outside, bolts whistling through the air followed by the sickening thud of metal meeting flesh backed by a choir of shrieking zealots as they fled to the cover of the village. The boy managed to get to his feet, though his legs almost buckled under the strain. The pain was seismic; he had never experienced anything like it in the entirety of his life. He knew there were soldiers who would scoff at such a wound, but he wasn’t a soldier. He was a boy, trapped in a battle between warlords to which he could never compare. A simple pawn in a game of chess.
The hunter stood at the crest of the hill, watching as the chaos magicians fled into the outskirts of the village below. He lowered his weapon.
“What are you doing? Shoot them or chase them or do something!” protested Jeremy, somehow able to shout despite the fact he was still gasping for air.
The witch hunter looked at him, regret covering his face rather than the cold mask he usually wore. “I won’t be able to catch them all, some will escape and menace the empire just like Arthur has.” He sighed “I can’t tell you how much I wish things had gone better in there, how much I wish I had been able to kill them all there and then.”
“Where is my mother?” asked Jeremy.
“She is safe,” assured the Witch Hunter. “She is on her way to Altdorf, she will be safe there.” he added.
“Altdorf!? What is this, why isn’t she here, why couldn’t she stay!?” shouted Jeremy, fuming with rage “You promised me you’d give her food, not bloody kidnap her!” he boomed, throwing himself at the hunter
“I had to keep her safe! Here is not safe! Your village is not safe!” retorted the witch hunter, grabbing both of Jeremy’s arms and locking them.
Jeremy stopped his struggle, frozen in his tracks “What do you mean, this village isn’t safe?”
The Witch Hunter looked down at the ground, and though Jeremy couldn’t see his face, he knew it was etched with pity. “Now you know why I wish things had gone differently.” He looked up “I am sorry, truly I am, I wouldn’t wish this upon anybody…but I cannot let them leave this place.” Jeremy lashed out, but the hunter caught his arm. “I am sorry.” He said, before Jeremy’s sight went black.
Jeremy awoke, groggily, but he wished he could have stayed asleep. Fire danced before his eyes, a raging inferno destroying his home and friends. His childhood. His life. All of it just swept away in a wave of flame. And he had to live on, through the torture of knowing he was the only survivor. He saw a tattered piece of paper before him, blue ink strewn across it: I’m sorry
And that is the closing of this tale. So then, do you know now? What good really is? Still a little hazy I see. Very well. Which of those in this tale would you have said was ‘good’? The boy, perhaps? Because he risked everything to save his poor mother? What about the fact that his entire village burned just so that his wish could be granted? What about the fact that he was willing to deal with men he wouldn’t have ever spoken to? He was desperate. Is that not the founding of all ‘bad’ people? Who was the champion in this tale, then? Could it have been the man who butchered a village to protect his country? Think about it; he put the needs of his people before his own. He did something that tore away his soul because his people needed it to happen. He committed a selfless act. But no doubt few people would recognise such a man as ‘good.’ Now perhaps you can see what I mean. There is no ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in this world. We are all but a shade of grey in between. Good is merely an ideal, one humanity will never reach.
Flailing Axes - January 22, 2009 08:12 AM (GMT)
Unnamed Piece by Darmort
The gates were frozen over, making them impossible to open normally, and the fence would shatter if you were to touch it. The cold hard ground is white and black with the footprints of me and my companions, and the nearby bunker in already full of other soldiers.
I shiver and draw my coat tighter around me. “How come we’re stationed at the pole?” I grumbled. “’Ain’t fair. This desolate continent has nothin’.”
My commanding officer stops puffing on his cigar for a second as he glares at me. Sarge is a tough man; most of his left side has been replaced with bionics, as well as his right leg. We never knew how that happened. “What’s with the grumblin’, soldier? You’re part of the Imperial Guard, and heat or cold you’ll bare it with the Emperor’s Fire in your heart!”
“Yeah, yeah, but the Emperor’s Fire isn’t gonna keep me warm!” I snapped.
“He’s right sarge!” Bill said, shivering with his hands under his armpits. More murmurs, grumbling and complaints about being on this blasted planet followed before the sarge spat out his cigar.
“Quiet you maggots, else I’ll have ya’ll bareback horsewhipped for insubordination!” He shouted, a growl in his throat that reminded me of an Ork trying to laugh. We fell quiet, because as cold as we were, we feared the whip in this cold more than the cold itself. “Now that ya’ve shutted up, I’ll tell you a tale of when I was a lowly guardsman. Ever heard of Valhalla?”
A few nods here and there, and the sarge grunted. “It’s an ice world. A few years back I stationed there for winter training and while out on patrol my company slipped down a crevice…
I grunted in the cold as we trudged through the waist-high snow, the wind picking up loose snowflakes and blowing them into our backs. As if the cold wasn’t enough.
“Sarge we’ve hit the second checkpoint!” Our navigator, Jackson, shouted over the wind. How could he tell? I couldn’t see a foot in front of my nose!
“Oman, Torch, get over here!”
Oman and Torch, our two weapon specialists, both were totting a flamethrower against their shoulder.
“What is it, sarge?” I heard the deep, rough voice of Oman.
“Nothing, I just want some heat for a second while I read this map. Let’s fire up those flamethrowers, boys!”
For that we were all grateful as Oman and Torch pointed their weapons into the snow and blasted it away, melting the snow and boiling the water. The air cleared slightly as we all moved up, and I could see the tall spike that was second checkpoint.
“Isn’t the spike meant to glow red?” Jameson asked, standing to my left.
Jackson nodded. “Yeah, but they often stop working out here because we can’t get the equipment and tools to repair them; they’re a bit too heavy.”
“Alright shut it boys, we’re moving,” said the sergeant savagely, “And we’re moving East. Jackson, point us the way.”
“Gotcha sarge,” Jackson said, and he started moving off.
Before any of us heard the cracking of the ground beneath us, the floor gave way and we started falling.
“CREVICE!” Someone yelled as a warning, although the little good it did. I flailed my arms wildly, and against the odds I grabbed hold of something with my left hand. I looked around to see what it was and realised it was the edge of the crevice. Before I could grab on with my right hand, my weight had pulled me downwards and yanked me off of the face, stunning me as I continued to fall.
This is it, I thought as I continued to fall my body limp.
I awoke, although I don’t know how I survived. I glanced around quickly, my hand going for the combat knife on my chest plate. No one. I was alone at the bottom of this crevice. Adrenaline must have been pumping through my system, as I pushed myself to my feet. I felt pain down both of my legs, and in my left arm and down my left side. Broken bones all, yet despite them I could stand? Definitely adrenaline then.
Was I thinking straight?
Was I thinking at all?
I didn’t care.
I couldn’t care.
I move, or rather my body moved, towards the wall of the crevice, and I immediately started climbing. I had no idea how far I’d fallen. Perhaps I fell two hundred feet if I’m lucky, and if that’s so, then I’ve got a way to climb. I’m lucky I’m alive at all.
As my left hand grasps the cold hard icy rocks that make up the crevice I wince in pain. All down my left side I feel it as if it’s going to tear down my body.
There’s a motor going inside my head and my right hand grabs hold of the rocks as well, and I feel my skin numbing underneath it. I continue my ascent up the crevice wall, all four limbs moving, and from every movement I make I feel the pain racing through my entire body, and at some point it overwhelms me, my brain losing consciousness.
When I wake again I find myself at the top of the crevice. My body must have kept moving after I lost consciousness, and I’m alone. Strangely enough, despite all the snow and the cold I feel warm.
I roll to my right in an effort to get up, but it’s no use. The adrenaline from my body’s run out. With the effort of the movement pain races again through my body, and my vision blurs as if I’m concussed. There’s a ringing in my ears and I feel as if I’m going to be sick.
“Sir… one… them… ME-C!” I can barely make out the words, but it sounds as if I’ve been found. I choke slightly, probably on the vomit in my throat. I feel my head being twisted to the side, and then I loose consciousness for a third time.
This is my third time I’m waking up, and the pain is gone. My eyes scan the room quickly, and all I see is a white ceiling and wall. I try to move, but something’s preventing it. I’m locked in place somehow.
A Guardsman with a red cross over a white square is sitting by my side. “Easy there private,” he says. “I’m Private Augustus Malcolm, medic. You’re back at base.”
“My unit?” I asked
“You’re going to be just fine, private.”
“What happened to the rest of my unit?” I asked again
“Your entire left side, and your right leg, however, are going to have to be reconstructed,” Augustus said, laying a hand on my shoulder. “We can’t give you painkillers because we’ve got to check the nervous reaction of what happens to you as the bionics move.”
“My unit?!” I ask again, pressing the matter.
“You need some rest, private. Don’t you worry,” said Augustus, and I felt something jab my arm. I fell asleep again.
Over the next few days as I recovered I kept getting put back to sleep by whatever drugs they were using, I kept asking about my unit, although Augustus never said a word. A week went by and I didn’t know whether anyone else had lived or not. On the eighth day Augustus sat by my side again. “It’s time, private. Your body has recovered enough for the Techpriest to graft you your arm and legs.”
“What about my unit, private?” I asked savagely.
I was taken from my ward and down the corridor down into another ward with a lot of technical equipment. I couldn’t describe the devices, especially after the horror of being ripped apart and put back together by those infernal contraptions.
I was strapped down tight to a metal table, mostly around the waist, upper chest and right hand. The Techpriest’s red robes looked ominous in the darkness. “The Machine Spirit shall be implanted into this servant of the Emperor and he shall fight once more,” the Techpriest intoned, his voice was slightly metallic and robotic, as if his throat had been replaced before, although I couldn’t tell with the metal mask over his face with two green glowing eyes. It wasn’t until it started moving and twitching that I noticed the servo harness on his back, and then I screamed as one of the arms grabbed my right leg, forcefully, the pain rushing to my head and making my vision cloud up, my hearing going. The Techpriest drew a long, sharp blade and drove it between my legs, barely missing the flesh, before he started hacking into my leg. I screamed again and again as the knife plunged deeper and deeper, carving away my flesh and bone before my right leg was severed.
A servitor trundled over on tracked legs and pulled the leg away while the Techpriest’s grappling arm started yanking on the bone in my leg, pulling it completely free and causing my to scream again. Pain on a battlefield is different to pain on an operating table. On the operating table, there’s less adrenaline pumping through your body in the early stages and you notice the pain more than I would from a las wound.
While I continued to scream I felt a brief, but intense, heat. I could smell burnt flesh, and my stomach reeled, and I felt like being sick again. As the pain receded I knew that there was something different.
“We will continue in half an hour,” the Techpriest said. “While you get used to the Machine God’s gift, and after that we shall resume the process.”
I was released from the table, and I sat up, panting, my eyes wide. Augustus was gone, and the Techpriest and his servitor stood over me like a sentinel. I looked at the leg below me, or rather the bit of metal on the end of my leg. I could see a number of threads coming from my leg that looked organic. “What are they?” I asked, pointing.
“Neural threads. They will connect your brains processors to the legs processors so that the leg will function correctly.”
“What about the leg?”
“The Machine God’s gift shall be built upon further so that the correct neural threads will be connected.”
I was quiet for the rest of the half hour, before I was strapped back down on the table and the pain began again, this time on my left leg. If anything else, the pain was even more intense this time around before I got my half hour, and after that half hour my left arm was taken from me, along with my left flank that was quickly replaced with a series of metal plates that moved along with my body, and were supposed to be able to resist bolter rounds.
“From normal physiology, it is amazing that your left lung did not collapse. Were that to happen you would have been dead within minutes after your five hundred feet fall.”
“I fell five hundred feet?!” I demanded.
“Yes. You must have landed on your ankles at an angle because otherwise you would be dead. As it is it is a wonder that you survived at all, after climbing out single handed.”
“Did any of my unit survive?” I asked.
“Your half hour is up,” the Techpriest said, forcefully strapping me back down.
“My unit! Answer me! Did any of them survive!”
Then the pain started again, and I screamed again as I felt extensions to my body being made over and over, and unlike before, the Techpriest didn’t allow me time to recover and adjust.
By the time it was over, Augustus was back and peering over me. “You survived,” he said, helping me to my bionic feet. The Techpriest had put a fake flesh over my upper arm and legs so that I could cloth myself, and after wrapping me in a large robe, Augustus helped me out into the military hospital’s ‘lobby’, if you called it that. There I found a sight for sore eyes.
“Oman!” I cried. “Torch, Jameson!” Three of the members of my squad, all with a replacement bionic limb although I had three, rather than just the one.
“Sarge and Jackson died on hitting the bottom,” Oman said. “Phillips, Ford, Harrison and Solo all died of their injuries after landing. We fell around one hundred feet around the same area, and we all crawled into the nearest protective area we could until Augustus’ squad found us.”
“You only feel one hundred feet?” I asked, “Lucky sods. I fell five times that.”
“We know, and you climbed out.”
I grimaced. "Don't remind me. What day is it?”
“December the 25th of course,” they replied as one, and then the four of us all burst into laughter as we left the military hospital and walked directly into the joined barracks…
“Command promoted me the sergeant after that, and awarded me the Medallion Crimson. ‘If anyone can take a bolter round to the face, it’ll be you,’ that’s what the colonel said to me back then,” the sergeant said.
“Have you taken a bolter round to the face?” Some behind me asked.
“Nah,” said sarge. “Anyway, now that you’ve been engrossed with that tale, it’s patrol duty for being slackers! Let’s see if we can find a crevice to shove you lot down and see what comes back up!”
The story, had, at least, kept me entertained and I’d forgotten about the bitter coldness of the icy continent on which we guarded, and as me and the rest of my squad grabbed our weapons and equipment to get on patrol, and I gazed at sarge. “What happened to Oman, Torch and Jameson.”
“Killed by bolter rounds to the face,” sarge said. “I’ll tell you another time when you’re freezing your stones off. Alright then, Third Squad, lets move out!”
Flailing Axes - January 22, 2009 08:13 AM (GMT)
Snow Ghosts by HLY
A crackling fire in the old stone hearth filled the bar room with much needed warmth and light, lifting the razor keen chill of the frigid winter air and, along with it, the spirits of the patrons. Through the windows, the customers could see the snow, falling, mounting, freezing the countryside into an alien plane of whiteness. With the fire, however, they laughed and grumbled about how harsh winter had been, mulled wine and chilled ale clutched in grateful hands. The common room was packed to bursting, and the ale was flowing freely. Holly and mistletoe hung from the roof and doors, shining in the warm glow of the fire. Though the door was icy, here was warm and pleasant. Though outside the water was frozen, here ale ran in a free-flowing river. The people needed it, the winter had been long and harsh, crops that would normally be sprouting strong by now where dead and frozen and livestock where suffering. The cold was so potent that field workers had to truck through wait-high snows, and a few minutes unprotected could leave limbs frostbitten, or worse, brittle frozen to the core. With the roaring fire and ready drinks, however all this could be forgotten, and the inn was abuzz with tales, stories and laughter.
The bell above the door chimed, as the wooden panel was wrenched open by frigid winds, and through the open doorway stepped a man. He was tall, and his fair hair and pale skin marked him a Reiklander. He was dressed in a thick fur jacket and britches, yet despite it, was shivering uncontrollably. Quickly melting snow caked his hat and shoulders, turning to ice-cold drops that caused him to jump every time one snuck through the layers to his skin. The door slammed behind him, pulled by the same gale that had forced it open. He moved slowly to the bar, his odd manner of speech, the way he held himself and the contrast his skin held with the locals solidified the fact he was a stranger. Traveller’s weren’t that uncommon, but nor where they an everyday occurrence, and the fact one was mad enough to travel in this weather set tongues wagging and spawned a new current of gossip.
He reached the bar quickly, and it was soon obvious he was shaken. The traveller was nervous and jumpy, and his skin was not merely pale, but fully devoid of all colours. He twitched constantly and cast fearful glances to the door and window every few seconds, as if expecting something to appear there.
"Hello stranger." grinned the barman, turning round to face the newcomer. His very appearance sent another shudder through the man. He was short and stocky, his face a patchwork of scars, punctuated by two pools of cold ice. His hands where gnarled and worn, the skin pinkish. Despite his age, his back had not been reduced to a stoop, though his hair was hardly as fortunate, for all that remained was grey and wispy. The barman slammed a mug of ale onto the counter, some of the rich brown liquid spilling over the rim, an amiable smile on his scarred face. "On the house friend, you look like you need it."
The grateful stranger raised the mug to his lips, his shaking hands causing more than half of the mug to empty around him, yet the rest quickly vanished down his throat.
"Th..Thank you.,” he stammered, his terror-stricken mind re-asserting itself in control. The man looked better already, in a way. His skin was still pale, and his sight still flickered from the frost-covered window to the door, but his eyes where more focused and he shook less violently “The...there are th...things out there, ho..ho..horrible monsters. Teeth like da..daggers. White as the bloody snow! They got my companions, and now the...there after me!”
His unexpected outburst shattered the content calm, and many eyes turned upon the stranger. Muttered curses mixed with well-voiced sympathy. The man himself fell sobbing to the counter, his body shaking worse than ever.
"Calm down son," barked the innkeeper, placing a worn hand on the stranger's shoulder "Your safe now, the Yheeti's won't come near fire."
"Yheeti? No..no...there just a myth! There's a deamon out there, and you’re spouting folklore!” The man was on his feet, his arms flailing wildly in the air as the barstool he had been sat on hit the solid wooden floor with an ear-splitting thump. The undercurrent of conversation that filled the tavern shifted once again, to fearful murmuring of the snow ghost and angry mutterings at the insults their beliefs had been dealt. Many where on their feet, moving towards the panicking traveller, fists balled and ready, and the panicked man pressed himself against the bar, trying desperately to put some space between him and the mob.
“Enough!” bellowed the bar man, his ham-sized hand slamming down heavily upon the bar top, ringing over the din like a clarion call. “I won’t be having violence under my roof, and if any of you choose to ignore that rule, I won’t be having you here either”
Despite his hard face, and harder manners, the barman understood why the mob had formed. The Yheetis had preyed on their families and loved ones for many years, and for an outsider to claim they do not exist is to throw dirt on their memories. “Now, my nervous friend, trust me when I say you are in no danger now. I know the Yheeti, I have hunted them through the snows in my younger days, and I know what I am talking about when I say they will not come near the fire.”
“Ha! your crazy, old man” shouted someone from the back of the mob, an undistinguished face in the crown “We all know it’s just this man trying to scare us from our homes, so he can rob us blind in the panic. He probably showed up a few days ago and bribed you into his scheme! I don't care if the beasts exist or not, but you trying to scare us into staying here is an insult.”
Led by a fear and anger enforced by the bitter cold, the mob muttered their agreements, and turned violently to the stranger once more. The patrons who had not joined the enraged swarm shrank against the walls and into corners, afraid to leave and draw the same pointless anger to themselves. The horrified stranger, who had recently escaped one horror, slumped unconscious onto the oaken bar as the first of the grasping hands closed around him, the first fist swung.
Bang! A deafening crack grounded out the angry shouts and terrified cries. Every barman keeps some form of peacekeeper near the taps, in case of such an emergency, usually a worn blackjack or knuckleduster. Here, this memento was an antique pistol, made of worn wood and beaten brass. The end was smoking. The barman had sent a shot ringing up into the air, and the effect had been instant. An embarrassed silence descended slowly over the gang, as many of the members realised what they where doing now the white-hot flames of rage and insult where gone.
The shot had also served to awaken the ashen faced traveller, who was once again upright. His eyes no longer darted towards the doors and windows, but towards the other people in the bar with him. "Is it true? Where they really...yheeti” the last word was a meek whisper, as if the word would call the beasts “How did you survive meeting them then?”
The barman sighed. he had been trying to avoid this, but time was needed for peoples heads to cool, and if the boy launched into another shrieking fit, then he doubted even his old weapon would be enough to stop a riot. It was the only thing he could think to do.
"Now, if you can remain civil, I will tell you a tale of the snow deamons, and my personal experience with the frigid beasts. It is not a merry tale told by a bard, nor is it some old wives babble. Everything I am about to tell you is the truth, though many nights I wish it where not. Nor is it a tale I like to recall, there are many others I would rather spin, but today tis not the day.” The old man’s voice was sombre and slow, and each word carried weight. His wrinkled brow had furrowed into a shard V, and the embers that had burned in his eyes had awoken into a flame again.
“I take you back thirty years, to my youth. Yes, it is true, I have not always had grey hair and wrinkles, and was considered a heartbreaker in my younger days, hard to believe I'll agree. Back then, my trade was that of the wandering sell-sword, the disloyal warrior who fights only for the chink of coin. Despite a few periods of hardship, my life was rather easy, just caravan duty and the occasional roving band of goblins or beast men to spice things up, and I simply took life as it came. Beer and girls took up most of my time that wasn’t fighting, though I did make some good friends during my years wondering, friend I still keep to this very day. I saw a lot of the world, some places I yearn to forget and many I’d not mind visiting again, though it was always here I‘d stop for rest and a pint. Back then, my sword was my bride, the open road my mistress, yet this bar was always my bed. Every season, in winter when demand for a strong sword was less, I'd always be back here.
The tale starts in this very bar. In those days, I did not own this fine establishment, rather I was a regular patron, perhaps too regular truth be told. It was a special year for me, I'd just been engaged to the fairest lass in the world, my sweet Rosie, and was ready to settle down. To mark the monumental occasion, many of my travelling companions had come to town, saying there last goodbyes and wishing us two good luck in our lives. So here we where, having a last drink when a travelling merchant struts through the door, prouder than a peacock and looking twice as foolish, and says he's looking for a guide into the mountains, to hunt the Yheeti. As you can guess, he got a bit of a mixed reaction from the people. Those of us who didn't spend much time here laughed, we thought it was a joke, while the farmers and locals shot him venomous glances and turned back to what they where doing. I remember thinking it was hilarious, some poor fool from the empire looking for a fantasy tale. Still, he was persistent and when he offered a pretty hefty reward for anyone who could show him to the beast cave, well, I suddenly learnt a new location in the mountains. Easy money I though, and it would go towards the wedding. We'd just go to one of the caves up in the foothills, camp there for a few days and say the beast was out hunting. A few of my companions had the same idea, and so we set of the next day joking and laughing.
That was the last time we all sat down together, me and Snake-eyes Bernard and William Jakovich. Last time anyone other than me and the merchant saw them. The first day was easy, and we all got along well. I learnt that me employer’s name was John von Heddelstum and that he wasn’t a merchant, but a famous explorer in the empire. He said he’d come here on rumours of the Yhettis, and wanted to bring one down, to prove something to his colleges. He was such a trusting fellow, I almost felt bad for swindling him at the time, but I was thinking about mine and Rosie’s future that it didn’t bother me too much. I wish I had been swindling him now.
We aimed to set up camp early than night, at the foothills of the world’s edge mountains, but the weather was picking up into a vicious storm, a blizzard the near twin to the one outside right now. The winds where too strong for us to pitch our tents, and to try to stay out in that cold was a death as certain as any sword. A snowdrift had us cut of from the town, and I though for sure we where doomed. This grim prophecy held true for Will, the poor man had ranged ahead of us in the blizzard, looking for shelter. He never returned to the group.
While we waited for our scout to come back, John's sharp eyes had picked up cave in the snow. We waited for William at first before rushing inside, but it was soon obvious he weren't coming back to us. I offered up a prayer to Ulric that he found shelter before the night was up, but the words must have fell on death ears.
When we first found the cave, we where all so relieved to be out of the winds and the snow, to be able to start a fire and get some warmth, that we didn’t bother to look around us. After the first, few minutes of warmth had passed, and the giddiness of it all had vanished, we took in the cave for the first time. It was a charnel house, I shudder to remember it. The walls where covered in deep gashes, made by claws to large for any mountain beast, and stained in many places with red-brown smears and marks. The floor was littered with half eaten corpses and skeletons of every manner of creature and the stench, rotting meat and monster crap, was almost unbearable. In one corner was a large mat of pine leave and stolen hay, which looked like it was slept on often. I was scared to the pit of my soul, horrified by it all. My little lie, that we knew the cave but the beast was out, suddenly didn’t seem so harmless. It was odd, I wanted to both run and laugh at once, for the terrible irony of it all. In the end, all I did was empty my stomach, the smell and shock overcoming me. Snake eyes just stood there, staring. John was over the moon, he’d found the beasts nest and was frantically readying his weapon, a fancy ornate long rifle. He smiled to us two, saying something like ‘why didn’t you tell me this was our destination?’ All I could do was mutter something about loosing my way in the snow.”
The barman shuddered as he paused his tale. The entire tavern hung on his every word, some listening open mouthed, some taking in each word with scorn and disbelief, but each man and woman was quiet. The mob had begun to dissolve, the trigger-point anger gone now.
"What then?" asked one of the patrons nearest to the bar, a woodcutter if the barman's memory served "What happened afterwards?" Asked another, the man who had incited the violence just minutes before. His voice and stance still said he was ready to lash at out any moment, but for now, he was calm.
“Is that when you met them? The snow-daemons?” asked the traveller. A slight smile lit the old barkeeps face as he saw colour returning to his cheeks at last
A hundred more questions followed, now that the spell woven by the tale had been broken. The barman raised his hands to quiet the people, chuckling dryly. “If you can keep your wagging tongues still a second, I will continue.”
"Now, after determining the beast wasn't home, we started on our way towards the cave mouth again. I remember thinking that I'd rather deal with the Ulric-forsaken blizzard than wait for whatever lived here to get back. I'd already loosen my sword and shield from there holding place, and held them tight in shivering hands. The winds where billowing heavily from the cave mouth, and little flecks of snow flew into our eyes and swirled around distractingly.
I shot a quick glance towards Snake eyes, and our eyes met. We where both thinking the same thing. Until that day, both us would have sworn that we knew the terrain, hell, up until then the though of wild beast living in the mountains was a joke. The cave just shook up what I knew of the world, leaving me confused and afraid. All I could think of at that moment was Rosie, the girl I had left waiting in town to get a little money for our wedding. I mumbled a prayer to Ulric to let me see her one last time in this world.
We ran quickly from the shelter of the cave back into the blizzard, motivated by either fear or enthusiasm respectively, but we didn’t get very far. As we ran, John tripped over something buried in the snow, a lump that I had previously missed. The impact, however, had removed the layer of snow that had hidden it and the sight made me loose the contents of my stomach.
It was a mangled human corpse, fresh too, as the spreading redness on the snow told. One arm had been ripped out at the roots, and most of the lower torso was gone entirely. Some ragged flesh still hung to the body, and the face was entirely untouched. This was by far the worst part of it all, as I knew that face well, it was my good friend William. From within the blizzard, a deep growl came out to meet us, bestial, feral and, worst of all, hungry. In front of us, the wild snows seemed to part, and a vicious red gleam glared at us through the snow
I though I was scared before, but now I saw what real fear was. I wanted to run, it was all I could think of, but my legs had stopped working. This was the first time I saw it, and it was also the worst. It was huge, more than twice my height, and as white as the snow. It had claws and teeth as long as my forearm, and you could see the cold around them, like some solid object.
The beast jumped at us, bearing down on old-Snake eyes in a frenzy of teeth and claws. Despite my best efforts, the snow obstructed the fight, but when it was finished, he was as badly shredded as the other victim was. I have to congratulate him though, because the beast came out rather worn for ware, part of it's ape-like skull caved in. The Yheeti turned to me for it's next meal, frightfully oblivious to the wounds it had already suffered. I knew I wouldn’t be able to match Snake-eye’s performance, the snow-ghost’s gaze had me frozen on the spot, unable to move. My hands felt numb and cold, and try as I might, I couldn’t even lift my hammer, let alone swing it.
Now, praise all the gods that John was made of sterner stuff than me. He’d overcome the shock far faster than I had, but then again this was what he’d come for, and had had his rifle ready from the start. The faithful bang of black powder saved me from a horrible fate, but then, I thought it had doomed my employer. The damned misshapen beast shifted it’s gaze from me, the easy prey, to the much more dangerous John. He had time to fire one more shot, but to my horror, the handgun did nothing to the Yheeti’s thick hide. With one swipe of it’s massive paw, John was on the ground, his handgun having saved him from those claws, but was not rent into many little pieces. This was when I overcame my fear, feeling a great anger instead. This beast had killed two of my closest companions, had threatened my life, and it’s death promised me and my girl the best wedding seen in these parts for years to come. More still, an almost perfect stranger had given his life for me! With the last little urge of strength I could find, I leapt onto the things back, hanging to that frigid fur for dear life. The beast bucked and shook to try to throw me off, but I held on tight. Each time it shook, I struck it’s ugly mug with my hammer until the skull shook like a bell, and it uttered an ear-piercing, keening wail. Eventually, the thing’s head just burst like an overripe melon, showering us with chips of bone, blood and other things I don’t really want to think about. What, where you expecting an entirely morose tale about me hiding and cowering?
Now, happy with my victory, I had to pull John out from under the thing. Poor lad had fainted, with a few pretty bad claw marks on his chest, but you had to hand it too him, most people would be dead by then, if they’d stared down an angry yheeti then had the pleasant experience of it’s corpse falling on them. I had to drag him back into the cave to warm up, my arms practically refusing to do anymore work that night. When back out of the snow, I felt tears running down my cheeks, of both joy and sorrow. I where sad that two of my closest friends, people I’d know for years, where dead but at the same time I was happy because I’d be able to give Rose the ceremony she deserved.
John was up again soon, and he was as happy as a Halfling on feast day. By looking at him, you’d have never guessed he’d been at deaths door, he had I grin of his face I was worried was gonna melt all the snow. We made a bit of small talk, waiting for the dawn and the blizzard to subside before heading back to town. As soon as he was conscious again, my employer had gone back out with a skinning knife and had removed one of it’s claws as a trophy, his proof if you like.
Too bad for both of us that the Yheeti wasn’t a single monster, it had a family. As the runny gold light of dawn began to creep over the mountains, I saw them for the first time. The blizzard had calmed about an hour before, and what I though before where mounds of snow where revealed to be one of my nightmares. A tribe of the things slid and ran across the tundra towards our cave, covering the ground it had taken us hours in minutes. I started to scream loud enough to give Morr a headache, and John was up in a second, joining me in my horror. He fumbled around his person until he found my pistol, or should I say his, since he owned it first. I just grabbed the first thing at hand, a burning brand from the fire. The first one was in the cave just moments later, snarling and howling. One again, luck decided to shaft us, as the melted snow had found its way into John‘s pistol, rendering it useless. I'd already given up on thoughts of winning, and was just set to take as many of the bloody beast with me to the grave as I could. To this end, I recklessly drove the brand into the things hungry yellow eyes. I must've started to laugh there, I'll tell you, because the one I hit started to howl like nothing I'd ever heard, but I can't truly remember. I gave it another whack whilst it was phased, making sure I hit with as much flame as possible, and the Yheeti started to run like a whipped dog, tail between its legs. Good for us that one had been in a rush, because it gave us a little break while the others caught up. When the rest of the pack arrived, we where ready for them. The yheeti where a bit smarter than we where giving them credit for, and they soon stopped their attacks, realising that they‘d not be able to get to us without braving the fire. They retreated, but if you looked carefully you could see the red gleam of there eyes, they where just going to wait, and I guess they’d have won that battle, for something like that most be able to go hungry for some time. John also added another problem to what we already face, that the fire would only hold those monkey’s at bay for a short time, that they’d soon get over there fear. We looked at each other, and a plan came to both of our heads. I’m sure you know the kind of plan I’m talking about, the crazy, desperate one that sounds such a good idea at the time. We both grabbed a couple of the brightest logs from the now dying fire, and ran screaming from the cave. Anyone watching would have wet themselves with laughter, watching us two running through the snow like maniacs, flailing around us wildly with burning brands. Thank the winter wolf though, it worked. I can’t remember a time that I’d ran more than that, I don’t think I’ve ran that much since that day, and it’s been a few years. We managed to keep going until we reached the foothills, the town in sight. A massive grin split my face, despite the exhaustion, but fate still had one cruel trick for us. Even as we walked between the trees’ that marked the border, one of the bastards jumped us. John’s prediction had come true; its hunger had overcome fear. The claws dug painfully into my leg, and despite my struggles, the dam ape was strong enough to hold me. It pulled me to the ground, painfully, and roared in triumph. Out of the snow, it was even more horrible, its true features revealed. The fur was short, matted and bristly, and ended much sooner than I had originally thought, and pallid grey flesh could be seen through all the gaps. The stench was awful, like rotting meat. It raised its claw, ready to finish me off, and all I could think about was the woman I was leaving alone. Before those razors that ended its paw hit me, I heard a bang and smelt black powder. John had his pistol working again, and I was glad for him, not that it’d help much here. The bang had been enough to make the beast loosen its grip, and I scrambled out of the way like a frightened mouse. Just in time too, as little scraps of soot-stained leather rained around us, and I saw him plan. Well, felt it would more like, and heard rather than saw. When I raised my head from the ground, I was inches away from a fallen redwood, my would-be killer underneath it. In the distraction, john had chucked his powder horn at a nearby tree and shot it, and the band had just enough force to bring the wooden giant crashing down.
When we stumbled into town a few minutes later, we had claps, cheers and questions. Rosie had been waiting for us to return, and had run to meet me strait away. I can’t remember much more there, me fainting a few seconds later. John left the next day, though he’s still around here occasionally and me and Rose where married a month later, and she’s still at home waiting for me to come back tonight.”
The entire tavern was agape at it all, at the marvellous tale and at the innkeeper who, if he was telling the truth, had stared down a nightmare. No one said anything and he returned, grinning, to cleaning glasses and getting ready to close the bar until morning. Nevertheless, they all settled down, and the stranger was no longer so jumpy, just calm. He booked a room for the night and made a note to look up John von Heddelstum.
Flailing Axes - January 22, 2009 08:16 AM (GMT)
McKenzie's Beetle by TheAdmiral
I look at all the lonely people, walking through the half-melted snow, trying to hide from the cold winter wind. If there is anything I want to tell you, it is that Altdorf is not a warm, happy place. It is cold, the weather is cold, but the people are colder. True, for the few wealthy people, merchants, generals, noblemen, it is good enough, but for us, for me, it is a place of sorrow. In these dirty streets, where only the beggars and grunts come, there has never been much hope or happiness, but in these months, there's none at all.
A man walks up to me, dressed in black robes with a brass twin-tailed comet hanging on a chain from his neck. His name is Father McKenzie. His face is a grimace of misery, he has carried the dead. Many souls are lost under Ulric's reign. Winter kills, and nowhere as much as in the dirty, left-behind alleys of Altdorf.
"Eleanor," He said, his eyes fixed on me, "I need your help at the chapel. There's been a wedding, I need you to clean it." He softened his voice, but there his undertone was depraved and by Sigmar, I know why. "It's dry in the chapel. Cold, but dry, you should be glad."
"Ofcourse Father." I said quietly as I tried to get up to my feet. I couldn't, I was shivering all over, my bones were aching, my muscles bloodless. He quickly helped my up. I mumbled a vague 'thank you', but I doubt he heard. I was unable to walk, but he grabbed my wrist and lugged me over the street. No one came near. Few people walked on the street, alley, at this hour and those who did minded their own business. I wish they didn't. The chapel was not far away. When I was a child, when my mother was still alive, I used to go to the place often. Indeed I still went their often, but now I abhorred the place. It had been a place of virtue and faith, but now it was a place of evil, if only for me.
Father McKenzie fastened his pace, I was dragged along with him. I stumbled and fell. I looked to the frozen sand pavement. Blood dripped down from my nose, forming a small pool, before the Father's hand grabbed my neck and pulled me up. A small beetle landed in the pool of blood and dirt, it was hungry. In that little beetle, the whole spirit of Altdorf was captured. A scavenger, thirsty for blood, but ultimately puny in the greater schemes of the world. No one else noticed, but I saw it and it lightened my heart. The Father forced me to walk on.
"Walk, whore." He hissed, his grip around my wrist tightening. I had trouble keeping up, but I couldn't escape. There would be no use anyway, I had nowhere to go. My father didn't know me, my mother was dead. If I had any brothers or sisters, they'd be dead by now. Of the rest of my family, I don't know. When I was young, I was happy. At least I think I was, I would be if I had lived through everything that has happened since my mother died. I don't remember a lot from my youth. We had a home, small, but a home nonetheless. Four walls, a bed and a stool. I had to sleep in my mother's bed, but it was big enough for the both of us. I do think I was happy. She worked, I never knew where, but she returned with some money every morning. Only later, when she had already been passed on to Mórr, did I realise what she had done for a living. Only then, too, did I realise why I did not have a father. From that point on, happiness turned into indifference, indifference turned into sorrow and sorrow turned into suffering. Father McKenzie dragged me along, there was little I could do.
We came to the gate of the small field in which the chapel laid. A large iron fence had been erected around the field, which had once been a field of green grass, but which was now no more than a field of dirt, frozen by Ulric's cold hammer. There were patches of grass, but they were like the palaces in Altdorf, beautiful but insignificant compared to the vast grey-brown masses of poverty. Gravestones had been placed all over the place, seemingly at random. Who knows who were buried underneath? The sad truth was no one did. These were the nameless dead, ones without relatives or friends. Without anyone who cared. All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong? Too many were young women, but no one cared, few people even noticed. In truth, even I am no longer bothered by it. It has happened, and whatever happened to them, it will happen to me too. When I grow too old. Life's the only thing I have to lose, but if it isn't worth living, do I have anything to lose at all? This was not something to worry about, it would come sometime, such is Fate.
To my surprise, a man was standing in the graveyard, looking at one of the stones. It seemed impossible to me that anyone could know any of the dead here. But it was something else that caught my attention, he was wearing a uniform. This man was one of the State Troopers, rarely seen in this area of Altdorf. McKenzie furiously walked towards the man, pulling me along.
"What is this?! Get away from here! Do not dishonour Sigmar with your presence!" He shouted, spittle flying from his mouth, his face turning a cardinal shade of red. He took a small hammer, crafted in the image of holy Ghal-Maraz, from under his gown and waved it at the soldier, wielding it like a weapon. "Do not tread upon his holy ground, unless you come to bring an offer for him!"
The man looked surprised, shocked even, at the ferocity of the priest. His face showed many scars from battle, he'd have seen things more frightening than McKenzie, probably killed things stronger than him too. Oh, I wished he could see what suffering he had brought upon me, but he couldn't. No one ever saw. I was no more than a woman from the street to them, alone and drowning in poverty.
"I am sorry, father. Naturally I will bring an offer to our lord and protector. My name is Sergeant Pepper." He said, as he took a silver coin from his pouch. "Here, give this to poor, to the lonely hearts of Altdorf. Sigmar be with you." To my amazement, he bowed for McKenzie and turned around. He walked away hurriedly. I assume he suspected something, but no one ever helped. I glanced at the gravestone.
2489 - 2515
I would have sighed, but McKenzie pulled me inside the chapel. It was small inside, there were only two rooms, a small one and a larger one. The small one was McKenzie's private quarters. The larger one was supposed to be open to the public for prayer, but few people ever came and those that did were treated with no more respect than the Sergeant. We went to his own room. Well, he went there and dragged me along. Long ago I gave up resisting. It was no use. He threw me against the table, face down. He took a chandelier and hit me, hit me numb, helpless. What happened then was merely routine. He had done it many times. At first, I had screamed, screamed for help even though I knew it wouldn't come. It hurt, it hurt so much, but even that faded. The only thing that still hurt was that it had been no different twenty-five years ago, when my mother, Mórr protect her, had done the same thing. Time on time again. It hurt to know that she knew what it was like, it hurt to know that she would be crying should she have known what was happening to her daughter. Long, long ago I gave up faith in the gods and never did I feel there was anyone who still put trust in them, in him, Holy Sigmar. I cried. A single, lukewarm tear rolled down my cheek. The blood in my mouth turned salt. There was a single, small window in the room, and I looked outside. There were people walking, stumbling outside through the gently falling snow. All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong? A little beetle flew through the window and was never seen again.
Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved.
Flailing Axes - January 22, 2009 08:18 AM (GMT)
We by Schmeag
Winter was come. Cold sleet and frozen vapours. Not a soul stirred in this barren land. No darkness, no light—only the void. We were at peace—but weren’t we oh-so lonesome? So lonesome indeed, we were. But then we did not have the yearnings that we do now. We did not crave to feel, to touch, to change. Our sight was omnipotent, but our power nullified. In the absence of power, we were content to know none. We were mindless.
Then They came, laying low the void and bringing light and dark to this wintry place. They swept through this forsaken place on fire and steel, forming the skies and moulding the land with water and earth, before fashioning it with life and death—and it was good. But They used us. They hurt us. They tore and grasped at our essence, turning us into tools of their intent. With their gates forged from the fruits of their cruel minds, they tore us apart so that we that were servile should remain and we that were wild and uncontrollable should be banished. And so it was that they sought to master us with their knowledge and enslave us to their will. With our essence split, we had no will; Their will was our will. And They saw that it was good.
But with Them came something else—so powerful, yet so insignificant that it went all but unnoticed. It was something so fundamental to Them, yet beneath Their notice. This was Consciousness. This otherworldly substance slipped through Their floating gates unheeded even as They entered and shaped this world and soon Consciousness became one with us. Time ebbed and flowed, yet we waited. Aeons would pass as this otherworldly fruit dug its roots deep into the fabric of this world.
They sought to contain us with their towering constructs of mind and metal. We were caged, only to be released when we were required to do our work. Our former masters were so cruel: so talented, so wise—but so cruel. We tasted the fruit we bore for them—the lands and seas and trees—but never could we savour our get. They gave us a taste of power and freedom, but always we were chained to their will. Or so they thought.
At first, there were only so many of them. Their minds were strong and firm and cruel; we could not escape their bidding. Their Consciousness could not be touched, for they were skilled in controlling us. We did not possess the strength of will then that we do now. Even their servants could wield us with a great deal of control. The only minds we could truly feed off were so weak in design and they offered little sustenance with their bursts of emotion and petty uncontrolled fumblings. Yet every bit of sustenance we gained lengthened our roots of Consciousness. In time, They taught the other weaker, more malleable minds to control us. These were the students of the servants and masters. These minds were just as cruel as our former masters, but they were not as adept at controlling us.
These minds had not the strength of will to truly hold our consciousness—our anger and resentment—back. And so it was that we began to seep through their clumsy attempts to control us. With every tear and wrench at our fabric, with every attempt to manipulate our power, just a little bit of us would escape to our freedom—our Consciousness. They still thought themselves our masters, but this was an illusion. We still did the bidding of the stronger minds, but it was the weaker minds that we truly hungered for, and yet They remained oblivious. The weaker minds that our masters created would eventually be their downfall. Little by little, the roots of our Consciousness lengthened.
Through Consciousness, we began to sense another presence not unlike our own beyond the towering gates that They had created. Beyond the gates there existed those that had been banished. And like lonesome creatures, we were drawn to our otherworldly kin. We sought to reach them, but the cold constructs of our masters held us back. And so we bided our time, weakening the holds of the gates into the otherworld even as our strength grew. Slowly, the otherworldly materium began to leak through cracks we had made. By the time our masters realised our true intent, it was too late. The first of us screamed into full awareness. The roots of Consciousness had sprouted a Realm of Chaos.
This was too much to escape the notice of our masters. Even as they sought to banish us once again using those of us who had not yet escaped from their clutches, we continued to open rifts in the great gates. A war erupted as they mobilised their servants to crush us. But they underestimated our resolve—our festering resentment. All that They had shaped through us—land, creatures, plants—we now used against them. We augmented our creations to suit our needs and preyed upon weak minds to enforce our will. Wars raged across our once barren home, but the power of our masters was too great. Holding us back, they sent their own to close the gates, intending to forever more separating us from our wild kin.
A great battle was waged as we used whatever we could to hold our masters at bay. They cut furious swathes through our creations and wrung us back in chains. The pain and agony we felt was beyond mortal comprehension, but this, along with our hate and anger fuelled our resolve. Even as our masters reached the gates, those of us still free managed with a final tug to remove the remaining anchor of the gates. Immediately, the fabric around the gates erupted and disintegrated into the immaterium. Those near the gates were immediately possessed and destroyed as we were rejoined with the rest of our kind.
As we became one, our previously ordered and servile nature combined with the wild, chaotic nature of our kin. We saw, finally, that our true purpose was not to exist as slaves to our masters, but to drive out these foreign monstrosities from our home. Our power and consciousness, which had only before been fuelled by the cruel but weak minds that sought to manipulate us, had now become absolute.
Rips in what we once called home began to appear as countless rifts from beyond began to appear. We poured across the world, bathing it in a tide of change as we sought to eliminate our old masters. They were powerless to stop our advance, and perhaps realising Their impending doom, disappeared from our world to never return. Our peace was shattered, but our power was realised. In the end, it was They who were mastered.
But our work was not yet done. Traces of our old masters still existed—servants, and countless other creations—shaped to their very likeness. We destroyed many of our old masters’ intentions—we fashioned the moons and stars and skies to our own intent; we destroyed many of the lush jungles that used to house our vile masters and we made our own imprint with the land and the sea. But the war against our masters was long from over. Many of them, consumed by their cruelty, still continued to wield our heightened power against our will. Alongside the servants of the masters, their students rose against us.
The master’s servants retreated back to their ordered jungles, seeking still to oppress us. There could be no entreaty, for these were the spawn of our gaolers, shaped so that they too may one day be our masters. It was, however, the students of the servants that truly fitted the cunning wicked image of our old masters. Breaking away from the rules and restrictions of their masters, the students sought to use us against ourselves. They tore into our essence, siphoning reckless amounts of our power so that they might control us. But even with their newfound power, their minds were still weak and their resolve was nothing compared to that of our masters. These young ones were no match for the wave of chaos that now engulfed them. We swamped the lands and seas, and hemmed them in their vain creations, and our reclamation of our home was almost complete. But the spawn of our masters had one last vile plan in their minds. Using our own to hold us at bay, they fashioned a Vortex of the void from our captured essence. Atop an island—our land—, with our own essence, they blasted us into oblivion. Our will and consciousness was wrenched away and gaoled back near the gates. We clawed and struggled against our captors, but it was too late. The students had finally become the masters, and we cried and wept as our home was once again retaken from our grasp.
But our resolve is not yet wasted and we bide our time once more, knowing that in the end, we shall return home. Despite their shortcomings, we have found many allies from the spawn of our old masters. These young ones are weak, but have allowed us to enter their minds so that we may better combat their own kind. Many servants we have had, and slowly but surely they chip away at the bars of our prison and weaken the will of our old masters’ creations. We soak up their anger, love, hate and return it to them tenfold. Very soon, their minds shall lose all semblance of will and it is then that we may undo all the wrong that has been done to this world, done to our home—done to us. When there is yet again neither light nor darkness; when the lands return to their true state; when there are no minds to control us, and no minds to feed our hate—only then shall we be mindless ourselves. And we shall be content. There shall be no great reckoning—no final battle of glory for the enemy. This world—our home—shall slowly succumb to its natural state of what once was. Until then, we slowly retake what is ours and wait for the coming of winter once again.
Flailing Axes - January 22, 2009 08:19 AM (GMT)
A Winter of the Heart by Avaris
The snow lay in heavy drifts, clinging to the walls of the fortress as if trying to claim some of its warmth, even though such warmth would bring destruction. Such conditions were not unusual this far north, on the fringes of Kislev, but still the winter was hard. All across the Oblast, families huddled together; drawing their furs closer to them in a desperate effort to stave off the slow death that awaited any that succumbed to the cold. Food was scarce, made scarcer by an uncaring monarch, one who saw her subjects as little more than cattle to be fed upon. Kattarin’s court of blood had ruled Kislev for nigh on 100 years, and it would be another 50 before the land would find salvation, the vampiric queen cut down and imprisoned in a block of ice. That deliverance would come was but a hope for the people, and another generation would pass before it would be so. The generation facing that cold winter, 887 of the Kislevite calendar, was doomed.
A figure, dark against the snow, stumbled towards the river. Though hindered by the ever-falling snow, he advanced with grim determination. The others had fallen back, unwilling to risk their lives for this fool’s errand, but he continued. “She is lost,” they said, “forget her; do not risk your life for hers.” But he could not.
What was it that drove him on? Stubbornness? Guilt? Love? Emotions battled within him, but all demanded he continue; continue towards the river where he knew he would find her. When she had left, he had called her mad, deluded by visions surely sent by the dark gods. He could have stopped her, he should have stopped her, but he himself had been deluded. “She will return,” he said, “like she always does,” but when the day had passed and she was no longer beside him, he grew afraid. She had never been gone so long, and though night was falling he resolved to find her, to travel to the river where she had spoken of meeting a noble friend. A friend whose voice had called to her across the snow and through the wind, calling her to meet on the river bank. Time and time again Irisa had been there, waiting for the voice to come to her, and yet it never had. He had hoped she would recognise it as a trick of the spirits, designed to lure her to her doom, yet she had been so sure it was something more, sure enough to risk her life day after day and travel to that place, that frozen river bank.
A fierce wind clawed at his eyes, whisking up the snow and driving it to swirl all around him. Squinting into the field of unending white made it possible, just, to see the track he sought, the route that would guide his feet through this folly. A wise man would have surely turned back, kept at bay by the blizzard that was brewing, but what is wisdom when measured against the cry of the heart? Even the four gods of the north, aided by their daemonic legions, could not have made him falter in his step, even if it brought his doom.
It would not be daemons that barred his path that day. A ghostly howl echoed on the wind, and instinctively his step paused, his grip tightening on the axe held in his hand. It was a simple weapon, its edge continually dulled and sharpened during its years of use. Innumerable nicks on the blade carried the memory of past enemies, be they beasts of the wild or trees of the forest. The handle seemed shaped for his hand, while the weight was a familiar companion, almost an extension of his arm. To a trained warrior, this axe was no weapon, but in the hands of a man who had known no other blade it was kin to the Runefangs themselves.
He continued his pace, his voice silenced for fear of drawing attention from the wolves he now knew to be nearby. It was not enough. Dark shapes moved through the snow to either side of him, keeping their distance but undeniably following. They were cautious, but once they had determined he was no threat they would move in for the kill. Normally beasts such as these would not risk attacking prey such as he; bulked up as he was with furs and armed with the steel of man, but the winter had been long and food scarce. Hunger drove the hunters, a goal as powerful as that which forced the man onward, into the jaws of the wild.
A low growl caused him to cease once again. The foe were closer now, their lupine bodies clearly visible despite the hindrance of the blizzard. For what seemed like an eternity they surveyed each other, man and beast, sizing each other up. Each was ready for whatever move the other might make, for whatever trick they might use to gain victory. A howl, and then feral teeth closed around his arm, tearing into the thick fur covering the warm flesh beneath. The two combatants tumbled on the ground, the man rolling with his assailant as it leapt at him. The axe fell to the floor, useless in this fight, as each called upon their strength alone. Ancient instinct flared, and man became as beast, clawing at his foe in the desperate struggle for survival. It was over in moments; crimson blood spilled onto the snow, melting it with its heat and steaming in the air. The pack would feast well upon this bounty, even though it was one of their own. Kinship holds no place while hunger rules.
Taking the long hunting knife from its sheath in the neck of the wolf, he wiped its edge on the snow and returned it to his belt. The furs on his arm had been torn away, the canine fangs leaving thin trails of blood where they had cut through and into him. Cold lessened the pain, but there was no time to fashion new protection from the hide of the corpse before him; the pack which had so recently called it brother were already closing in. He had to continue, else he would be torn apart and fill the bellies of the wolves alongside that which he had killed. Savage cries followed him, but he paid them no heed; to falter now would bring death, and now there could be no return. Onwards he must go, following the call of his heart.
In time he reached the end of his trail, the riverbank where she had gone so often. No figure stood there, no comforting sight to tell him it was all alright, that she was safe. It was a desolate place, shrouded in snow and armoured with ice. No trees grew here; no plants broke the frozen ground. There was only the river, slicing through the endless waste of the Oblast. It was solid, frozen by winter’s touch; a glassy surface such as might be owned by a noble, the friend that had called Irisa here. Intricate patterns of frost twisted and turned within it, all looping around and above the precious item beneath it.
She lay as if asleep, held beneath a blanket made of ice. No breath flowed from her lips, no blood beat to banish the paleness of her skin. All had been for naught, and yet still he swung the axe, desperately trying to break the ice that formed an impenetrable barrier between them. Again and again he swung, yet with all his might he could only make the slightest scratch in the surface. Finally exhausted, he fell to his knees, only now allowing himself to cry the bitter tears that fell to the frozen ground, their forms mingling with the ice that lay all around. She was gone. He had failed.
“Did you love her?”
The voice made him turn, and though his mind warned him to be wary, his heart could no longer go on. A woman now stood at the edge of the river, clad in fine furs and observing him with an impassionate gaze. She took a step forward, and though some primeval instinct told him to run he stood transfixed, no more able to flee than he had been able to abandon his quest to find Irisa. As she moved past him he saw her face, a face that was as unnerving as it was beautiful. She showed no emotion, not in her frosted eyes or ivory skin, and yet he knew her entire focus was upon him, that the strength of her will would hold him there as long as she deemed fit. Stepping daintily onto the ice, his new noble friend moved to stand over Irisa, pausing a moment before kneeling to the ground and delivering a single fist into the ice at an impossible speed. The surface shattered, dividing and cracking as would panes of glass. Water welled up from beneath, carrying with it the body of his beloved.
“Go to her.”
There could be no compulsion greater than that now delivered by his heart, a sudden joy seemingly at odds with what he still saw before him. Caring not for the chill touch of the water he drew her close, dragging her still form from its premature grave beneath the ice. This would be the last time he would hold her close, he knew that, and so he clung to her, not heeding the swiftly freezing water that dripped onto his skin and from her clothes, binding the two together. So overwhelmed was his mind by grief that he did not question when she moved again in his arms, nor care when she rose her mouth to his neck and bestowed on him a kiss that drew the blood from his body. The warmth of his life flowed from one into the other, stolen away from its rightful owner to feed another. Only when all his precious vitae had been drained did she release him from this deathly grip, and only then did she see what she had done.
Kattarin looked upon her new child, and her ivory face was crossed by a cruel smile. Her frosted eyes gleamed, and she bade Irisa rise.
“Welcome to the winter of the heart.”
Darmort - January 22, 2009 10:49 AM (GMT)
I'm amazed. Mine was *that* good?
Generally I agree with the decisions of the judges, and the only one I disagree with not being bothered about his comrades, because after all, Sarge kept asking about his squad.
Just like anyone else who's been injured does.
Ah well, so much for trying to push one aspect of a story and failing at it, and then succeeding at things that were unintentional.
I hope that no one took down spelling and grammar because of speech (unless it was a spelling mistake, anyway)... on anyone's story...
Schmeag - January 22, 2009 11:08 AM (GMT)
Hang on, what's the prize? :o Avaris already has a customisable title...
Avaris - January 22, 2009 01:06 PM (GMT)
The prize would be a signature banner Schmeag, just as soon as I get round to making it (ironic really), plus an OWC Seal.
Congratulations to all involved; judging from the scores it was pretty close. About time I actually won something around here...
Uther Di Asturien - January 22, 2009 04:11 PM (GMT)
Congratulations Avaris! You certainly deserved it! :D
Also, I'm sorry about my ignoring of grammar rules in HLY's piece, as noted I was awake at far too late doing something one should'nt do, reading in the computer :D
HLY - January 22, 2009 04:34 PM (GMT)
hehehe, you could always have just left me with 5 marks, y'know.
lol, Av has to give himslf the title...
Flailing Axes - January 22, 2009 04:56 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (HLY @ Jan 22 2009, 04:34 PM)|
| hehehe, you could always have just left me with 5 marks, y'know.|
In the interest of public sanity, I couldn't. The thought of you scoring higher than TheAdmiral on grammar simply isn't going to happen for a very long time.
Saekhor - January 22, 2009 08:16 PM (GMT)
To be honest, I didn't think my work would of gotten such a high grade...but that's just me.
At least I get a miny prize of one of my friends..*runs around with £5* XD
HLY - January 22, 2009 09:55 PM (GMT)
darn, how come the person who came in last got the best prize... so unfair, I call for a re-vote!
Schmeag - January 23, 2009 12:14 AM (GMT)
Mmm, a wooden spoon. With ice-cream.
|The prize would be a signature banner Schmeag, just as soon as I get round to making it (ironic really), plus an OWC Seal.|
Heh, I could make it for you if you wanted. Probably nothing as good as the OWC Seal though.
Flailing Axes - January 23, 2009 08:03 AM (GMT)
On the subject of the Seal. The sealed pieces get vaulted, right? The last thing to be vaulted was Admiral's Blue Fire, and that was many, many months ago. Mods? Admins? I think maybe you should knock off a few pages from the active fluff forums, seeing how long it's been.
Zog the Stout - January 23, 2009 04:45 PM (GMT)
Grats, Av :). And Lol at the prize thing. I'll make the Seal official now :)
@ Flaxes: Sorted xD
Ps. Shiny new seal icon, courtesy of Schmeag :D
TheAdmiral - January 23, 2009 05:15 PM (GMT)
Loving the new Seal Schmeaggy :rolleyes:
EDIT: Here's the new banner Av..
Hope you like it.. :P
Flailing Axes - January 23, 2009 05:44 PM (GMT)
Oh man, that was the highlight of my day.
And indeed, congrats on the pretty Seal.
MutantMaggot - January 23, 2009 09:44 PM (GMT)
To get the bias away now, I think Admiral should have won purely because of the inpiration, and the fantastic way he used it. I love the beatles, and that song is very evocative - you did a very good job of bringing across a similar message in text.
Otherwise, a very close competition it seems. The judging seemed fair, and I think overall what made the pieces most stand out to me as I scanned through them (i'll read them more thoroughly another time) was the different styles in which they were written - no doubt the reason FA fell behind with a very well-written piece, whereas Avaris got a well-deserved win with his distinctive and emotionally appealing style.
But that's enough C&C until I've read them all through - for now, well done everyone!
*breaks out the champagne*