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Monthly Short Story Winner: Fanfic

We’ve been getting such good feedback for the short stories our members have submitted in our Monthly Short Story Competition that we have decided to post them on the main site at a rate of about one a fortnight. Today we will be looking at the winner from our February 2014 contest.

Muggles had reached the moon by dinosaurusgede

If a book or series is popular, the chance for fanfiction existing about it is high. If it’s a bestseller the amount of fanfiction can surpasses the original book’s word count tenfold or more. The Harry Potter series has a total word count of roughly 1.082 million words, while only the stories at the Harry Potter FanFic Archive already have a total word count of 37.400 million.

People love writing fanfiction. Some is good, some bad. We at Fantasy-Faction usually aren’t concerned with fanfiction. There are enough good books out there to read and we have our own stories to write. But a short story? In a contest? That’s a different story.

Your challenge this month is something a bit different! You have to write fanfiction, which means that your story should be set in an already existing fantastical universe. It doesn’t matter if your story is set in Middle Earth, Winterfell, Andor, Modeg, Genabakis, Ankh-Morpork, the Broken Empire, Camorr or something entirely different but it must be possible to recognize the world.

If you want an additional challenge, you can try to emulate the original authors writing style. 🙂

1. This can be prose or a poem.
2. Must be fanfiction set in the world of a published fantasy book.
3. Prose must be 500-1500 words long.
4. Poetry must be 100-500 words long.
5. You will be disqualified if you exceed the limits, full stop. That’s why they’re called limits.
6. Your entry can’t be published somewhere else first.

Our winner this month is by TOMunro and set in Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire, featuring Jorg Ancrath in “The Road to Arrow”. Congrats and thanks again for a great story! 🙂

You can find all eleven stories from this month’s contest here. You can also get updates on our monthly contests on Twitter by following @ffwritingcomp. And now on with the story!

– – –

“The Road to Arrow”
by T. O. Munro

Sunshine! A balmy autumn evening. My whole life extremes of weather had pursued me, the baking desert heat, the cloying mist of the marshes, the torrential downpour of that night, lit by flashes of lightning. I was so entranced by the prospect that we pitched our camp early and I sat relaxing in the Sun’s embrace, letting it soothe the scars the thorns had left. It was going to be a pleasant evening. I should have known. Those who the Gods wish to destroy, they first make comfortable.

“Jorg, we’ve got company,” Sir Makin said softly.

I opened one eye and glanced along the road to Arrow. There were twenty or so, walking the dusty road. No match at all for my half dozen hardened warriors. Others might call them criminals but then the epithets of war are chosen by the winners and I was definitely one of the winners. There was no glint of steel on blade or breastplate, no menace at all in the approaching band. A sudden shimmer of auburn hair had me sitting up and reaching for the view ring of the builders.

Katherine? Had she survived the inferno outside the Haunt? In an instant a clearer picture swam into view, the ancient artefact bringing out every detail in the forms and faces of these newcomers. The girl was not Katherine. It was just a distant resemblance exaggerated by my own imagination. Why did I still yearn to see my aunt? Tormentor of my dreams, the one I wished would understand me better than I understood myself.

But no, this girl was not Katherine. The hair a duller shade, clad in a simple gown a cloak drawn tight around her neck. Beside her walked an older man with a close cropped steel grey beard that matched the military cut of his hair. Behind them came a motley collection of civilians. Peasant farmers jostled alongside shopkeepers. Near the front strode a merchant clad in rich silks who had brought a couple of body guards with him, an amateur and a pensioner, no threat there.

“I do believe this is a deputation, Sir Makin.”

“Perhaps they have heard of your coming, Your Majesty.” Father Gomst was always most particular about the formalities of title. His trust in ordered hierarchy led him to the certainty of God’s existence at the pinnacle of everything. I saw merely a storm of ambition where a momentary shift in the wind might for an instant lift one man higher than the rest. The Prince of Arrow had taught me that; it was a lesson he should have learned himself.

I stood to welcome my new subjects, if such they were. The group fanned out in a circle around greybeard and the girl. Even the pompous merchant gave way to the old man’s leadership.

“Welcome, King Jorg,” the old man bowed low. “I am Malachy and this is my daughter Esme.”

He clearly expected me to make some response so I said nothing. I’m cussed like that. His companions shifted uneasily in the silence. I caught the smell of fear in the air; it is a scent I know well.

“We have journeyed long to find you and, for these last miles we have been joined by these villagers of Holham.”

Witnesses. The old fool had brought some witnesses. Maybe not such a fool as all that. There’s not many fathers would bring their daughters before me and rely on my chivalry alone for their protection. Ask Prince Egan what price my sense of chivalry.

“Why have you come before King Jorg?” Gomst couldn’t let the man flounder in the face of my sullen silence. A flicker of annoyance creased my brow. It is always interesting to see what a man will say when he finds he is talking to himself.

Malachy swung round to Gomst with a smile of relief. “Father Gomst,” he began. “I come from Arrow to welcome our new King with a special gift.”

I looked at Gomst. His dusty garb from a long day’s ride made him indistinguishable from the rest of us. Malachy clearly had a keen eye for a priest.

“What gift?” Makin chipped in, ever the materialist.

Like a circus showman the man swung his arm to present his daughter with a low bow. The girl dipped in a curtsey, her eyes on the ground. “In Arrow, certain rights accrue to the King. Esme is your entitlement willingly given.”

“I’m a married man,” I said. It was a reflex response that bought me time to think. Mine was a real marriage not a sham. My young bride, Miana and I had an understanding built of mutual respect, but it was not as yet a complete union. She guessed I might stray betimes, but expected only to never know. So public a donation would be hard to keep quiet.

“I’ll have her if you don’t want her,” Rike broke in.

The girl glanced across at little Rikey. There was a cool confidence in her gaze, a challenge.

We called him little Rikey because he was so big. Tutor Lundist had once told me a tale of olden times long before the Day of a Thousand Suns. A tale where a big man called John had fought a small man called Robin and lost. The two had become firm friends and they had called him Little John for a joke. Rike wouldn’t have done that. Rike would have broken Robin’s head in at the first opportunity. Rike would break my head given half a chance. There weren’t many people had turned their back on Rike more than once; few got a second opportunity to repeat the mistake.

He’d had a wife briefly, but she had broken he’d said. Rike’s relationships were usually short lived, just like his partners. But this girl had no fear of my most fearsome brother, the brother who I always led from behind. Interesting.

“Come in here, girl.” There was no need to show I’d heard her name.

She shared a look with her father. An unspoken conversation of question and answer passed between them and then with head held high she strode towards my tent. I held the canvas flap open for her, a small shred of courtesy to season my reputation. It was nearly my undoing.

The knife was in her hand before the flap had fallen shut. She must have concealed the blade within her sleeve. A short weapon but the kind that can make a deeper hole than its length, if punched hard enough, and there was strength in this girl’s arm. I was expecting it, but just not so fast. A girl who would stare down Rike was no placid offering on the altar of droits de seigneur.

I twisted to one side and caught her wrist. My other hand found her throat gripping hard, bruisingly hard to try to calm the whirl of the assassin’s arms. “Who sent you?” I growled as we wrestled just within the tent entrance. I broke her wrist across my knee and the knife fell free. “Malachy isn’t your father is he?”

She spluttered defiance in my face and then jabbed a knee towards my groin. I raised and twisted my right leg for protection but overbalanced and together we fell through the tent opening onto the ground. Me on top, my hand still on her throat, panting my interrogation. There was no answer from the girl. Her eyes were open, staring, her lips blue and on the wind was the faint smell of almonds. Some builder’s pill to secure an escape from my questions.

I looked up at the astonished crowd. Even Rike seemed surprised at the shortness of our liaison.

Malachy stood apart from the rest. He gave a howl and charged me, though his eyes had the cold stare of a determined killer, not the fury of an outraged father.

I rose to meet him in a fluid motion. He was drawing something from within his jacket, but my knife was already in my hand. His momentum and my arm drove the blade up through his belly into his chest.

“Who sent you?” I hissed in his dying ears.

I waggled the blade for emphasis. I find that nothing quite loosen’s a man’s tongue like tickling his ribs from the inside. A stench of ordure filled the air as my knifework loosened other extremities.

“You are the enemy of God,” Malachy exhaled, speckling my face with a mist of blood droplets. And then with a sigh he slipped from my knife to fall atop his faux daughter.

I looked at the stunned spectators from the village of Holham, mouths wide in horror at the treatment of a supplicant young girl and her father. Even Sir Makin looked a little shell shocked at the atrocity. I could have explained, but then I’d worked hard for my reputation. I’d keep it even when it wasn’t deserved.

– – –

Congratulations again to our winner TOMunro! If you would like to enter this month’s contest or vote for last month’s winner, check out the Monthly Writing Contest board in our forum.

Title image by woshibbdou.


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