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Author Topic: [Aug 2014] - The Seven Deadly Sins - Submission Thread  (Read 6967 times)

Offline xiagan

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[Aug 2014] - The Seven Deadly Sins - Submission Thread
« on: August 01, 2014, 07:52:08 PM »

Gluttony by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, from wikimedia

Since it's the eighth month we are going with the theme 'The Seven Deadly Sins'. ;)

This is not a new theme. Above you see Gluttony by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, who painted this and the other six deadly vices in 1558. You can find them in Dante's Divine Comedy and in many other pieces of art, no matter if written, drawn, sung, sculpted or whatever else. Unilever even made a Magnum ice cream series about them.
Now I want you to join this lofty circle of artists. Don't hesitate, it may be your only chance to find yourself in such a great company. ;)

This month it is your job to write a story inspired by one or more of the seven deadly sins:

Lust
Gluttony
Greed   
Sloth
Wrath
Envy
Pride


It doesn't have to include religion or the concept of sin.

Rules:

1. This can be prose or a poem.
2. The story must be inspired by one of the seven deadly sins.
3. Ignore this rule, it's not really here.
4. Prose must be 500-1500 words long.
5. Poetry must be 100-500 words long.
6. You will be disqualified if you exceed the limits, full stop. That's why they're called limits.
7. Your entry can't be published somewhere else before.
8. This is a writing contest, not a "I have written something like this ten years ago" contest. So if you pick an already existing piece of your work, I'd like it to have a mayor overhaul/edit. Work for it. ;)
9. Please add your story's word count and, if you have, your twitter handle.
10. Please put your story in [ spoiler ] tags to make the thread easier to handle. :) You can find them above the smileys next to the 'youtube' symbol:

Entry will close September 1st 2014 and voting will begin somewhere around the same time too.*

Please post your entry below. All members are eligible to join. If you are not a member you can join here. Sign up is free and all are welcome! :)

The winner will have their piece displayed on the main Fantasy Faction website in October 2014.

Remember that this thread is only for entries. Discussion or questions can be posted here.

*I seem to never be home around the end of month, so please excuse me if I'm not always on time (which is hard in an international contest with all the time zones anyways. ;))
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline JonRock411

Re: [Aug 2014] - The Seven Deadly Sins - Submission Thread
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2014, 01:16:46 AM »
This is rather early, I'll admit.  However I simply had to get it down when I thought of it.   Hopefully it proves as enjoyable to you as it did to me.

 My word count has this at 1449, excluding the title.   My twitter is https://twitter.com/JonathanRock411

Spoiler for Cooke's Meeting:

COOKE'S MEETING

Daniel Cooke looked out his window at the city below, the masses passing below unaware of the meaningless nature of their existence, content to pass the day by with no care of anything above or beneath their place.   The rain splattered against the windows of the floors below, a simple heat spell evaporating it before it dared to come near his own.  He rubbed a hand over the smooth graying beard that he had grown out to hide the wrinkles that marked his aging.  It had been a few years since he'd last gotten a revivification done and he didn't see the point in wasting more money on a temporary procedure.  Moving away from the glass, he adjusted his tie and took a seat at his desk.  Papers were littered over the wood, made of ancient sylvan skin, but he cared little for them. They were unimportant garbage, thrown to him due to the incompetent nature of those below him in the chain.   Cooke glanced at the nearest one, a plea from some poor  piss-ant requesting a one-week use of magic in order to combat an dragon infestation, an obvious deny.  Dragons may be nasty little bastards, but the lives of lesser beings were irrelevant.  They had enough children annually to replace the few that died.

"Sir, you have a visitor" A ghostly voice echoed in his ear as he glanced at the gray spectral head of a meek man floating to his right.  He sneered at the man who looked almost apologetic as he continued.  "Sir, I know you said you wanted no visitors but I'm afraid the security systems were unable to keep him out.  He should be on his way now."  Cooke made a note to eradicate the security adviser after he finished dealing with this distraction. 

"How long do I have until he gets here?" Cooke asked, as the meek man blinked behind his thick glasses.  "I asked you a question, Ronald.  I expect an answer or I'll put a request in for an exorcism."  Ronald's only answer was to blink out of existence as the large steel door opened, revealing the interloper.

He was a tall man and skinny to a fault with long limbs that looked as if he was attempting to mimic one of the very sylvans that made up his desk. If it wasn't for the extinction of that species and the stranger's absence of wooden skin, Cooke would almost admit to fear.  He was completely hairless, causing his dark green eyes to seemingly pop out of his head.  The man wore a suit of varying shades of red, growing darker with each layer.  He stood in the doorway, hands shoved deep in his pockets, as he looked around the vast room with a disinterested gaze. Cooke's hands clenched tightly as he rose from his leather-bound chair.

Sit down, Danny boy. The stranger glanced at him as the words echoed inside Cooke's head.  Nothing was spoken, at least out loud, but Cooke still heard the words.  Eyeing the stranger, who was now casually strolling towards him, warily, Cooke pressed a button on the edge of his desk. Alerting them wouldn't do much, Danny. Your security team is already dead.

"That's impossible!" Cooke snarled as he slammed his hands down on the desk. "Those men are supposed to be the best in their field. They were hand-picked from the elite of the elite. I refuse to believe that some beanpole git in a cheap suit took them out.  Even with your weird voice thing."  The man simply smiled as he flung his hand out towards Cooke.  A force blasted Cooke back, sending him slamming into the leather of the chair.  The chair tilted back slightly before coming back down onto the ground, Cooke's shaken body lying limply in it.

Do control your anger, Daniel.  I have limited time as it is, and your outbursts would only prove to delay the inevitable. The man reached the desk and snapped his fingers as a rusted steel chair appeared from nowhere.  Taking the seat, the man leaned forward. I'd ask you to get some chairs for your guests but you so rarely have them.  You're too busy, after all. The echo of that last sentence in Cooke's head seemed to be laced with arsenic as his stomach convulsed and his mouth felt filled with bile.  The man simply grinned a wide grin, revealing sparkling white teeth sharpened to a point.

"Who..who are you?" Cooke said weakly, as he wearily looked at the man, lips trembling as he forced the words out.

You should know who I am. Unless...Hmm, perhaps this is one of those worlds without a mythological history.  It's possible, but I doubt it.  Tell me, Daniel, does your world have fiction? Nah, you wouldn't know.  Fiction would be beneath you.  Most things are, after all.  The man waved his hand dismissively regarding Cooke's assumed views on fictional work.  It was true, but Cooke didn't acknowledge the validity of the man's statement. Something was up here and he was not looking forward to the full revelation of the man's purpose.  Very well then.  I am what is known as a punisher, name and occupation in one. Don't look at me like that, I didn't choose the name. It proves too troublesome in certain universes. Anyway, people only have so much time in this lovely multiverse of ours and certain characters with traits that are deemed to be loathsome must receive punishment.

Cooke glanced at him skeptically, "That may be but I have no loathsome traits. I've earned everything I have, never stolen, never shed another man's blood with my own hands, never slept with anyone, never partaken in illicit drugs, never...." A hard glare from Punisher stopped Cooke's attempts at clarification. 

Your belief that you have no loathsome trait is a loathsome trait in and of itself. Despite what you've may have been told when you were shaped into the sneering ball of arrogance that you are today, pride is still considered a quote-sin-unquote

Cooke snorted, "Seriously? That's what this is about?  Because I rightfully deem myself better than the morons who infest this wretched system of a planet, I'm to be punished?  Pride goeth before the fall and all that bullshit?

Punisher averted Cooke's gaze and shook his head  Common mistake. Pride doesn't go before the fall. Pride goeth before destruction, a haughty spirit before the fall. Granted, that's all irrelevant in your case. You have treated your fellow man with disdain simply for not being in the same social position as you. You were born into an age without kings and yet you believe your equals to be mere peasants compared to yourself.  Make no mistake, Daniel Cooke, they are your equals, social rank be damned.  Punisher's "voice" was cold as Cooke's body trembled involuntarily beneath Punisher's gaze.

Cooke bit his lip, hesitating before speaking again. "If I am to be punished as you so claim, then what is my punishment?"

Ah, now that's the fun part.  Tapping one long slender finger against his hairless chin, Punisher glanced upward for what seemed to be hours before speaking again.  Alright, that should do it.  Snapping his fingers again, reality seemed to mix together.  Cooke screamed in agony as his body warped into and out of his office, his desk, his chair, even the imagery outside his window, all mixing together in an unseen blender. 

Until it stopped and Cooke was back to normal.  He was in a smaller room, walls made of cheap material and sitting at a simple oak desk. His chair was harsh and wooden and the only window he saw was a small rain-splattered one to his left.  He still wore a suit, but this one was ill-fitting and scratchy.  Punisher stood before him, arms crossed with a smirk on his face.  There's your fall, Danny.  From the top of the chain to the bottom.

Cooke glared at Punisher as his fists clenched tight. "I can make it back up there.  I did it once and I can do it again.  This is a poor punishment if this is what you were going for."

A strange warbling sound echoed from Punisher's throat that, after a few seconds, Cooke realized was laughter. We shall see, Daniel. We shall see.  He turned to leave.

"Wait, I have to know something"  Punisher paused in his departure and glanced back at Cooke.  "Why do you decide who is to be punished and who isn't? Isn't what is loathsome subjective? Who...what gives you the right?"

Punisher grinned as he looked into Cooke's eyes.  My dear Daniel, it's very simple.  I'm better than you.

Offline AlmightyZael

Re: [Aug 2014] - The Seven Deadly Sins - Submission Thread
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2014, 08:40:57 AM »
Well, here it is. My, somewhat peculiar, attempt at a story ;D

Hope y'all enjoy it, and good luck to everyone entering!

EDIT - Word count's 1066, including the title :)

Spoiler for Hiden:
Septum Insidias

Greed tossed the worn bone dice across the dusty floor.

“Seven,” he said in a voice rough as gravel.

Beside him, the dark and twisted form of Envy scowled, a veil of writhing shadows encasing his beaked face. “I’m sick of this game.”

Envy picked up the die and flicked his withered wrist. The bones skittered along the soot, kicking up delicate clouds in their wake. The smut wisped and danced, until it was lost in the rotten purple of the sky above.

Several feet away there protruded an ancient concrete wall, crumbling to sand under its own weight. Rusted iron fingers stuck out like the awkward legs of a spider, grasping helplessly at the sour air. Behind this totem of collapse and putrefaction, the rest of the siblings sat in a crooked circle. To their right burned a pitiful fire that threatened to peter out at any moment, never quite working up the courage to let itself die. It projected a greasy, orange light upon them, revealing their knotted, warped forms.

The five of them stared lifelessly at the centre of a squat table.

“Four of a kind,” rasped Lust, placing the gritty cards she held onto the centre of the decayed surface. Bits of wood flaked off beneath her thin, skeletal fingers.

Sloth yawned at his sister’s victory, his joints popping as he stretched. He threw his own battered cards down, and lay back. More popping and crunching noises followed.

“Bored already, brother?” Wrath asked, his wicked eyes glimmering with something akin to hatred.

“Just wake me in another hundred hands or so.” And with that he turned his back on them and the futile warmth of the fire.

A snapping, squishing sound echoed over the stinking breath of wind as Gluttony crushed a mangled rat beneath his pudgy hand. He raised it to his mouth and swallowed it whole. It did nothing to sate his hunger. He looked around for the chance at another snack. Of course there was none.

“Finally, I see how you’ve maintained your figure,” Pride rumbled. His voice was harsh and humourless, but it earned a sniff of amusement from Lust and Wrath.

“Oh,” Gluttony wailed dramatically. “So long has it been since one has gorged one’s self merrily on wine and sweets!”

“Say no more on gorging,” Lust replied drily.

Pride stood abruptly, the dust that accumulated on his hide over the years was thrown into chaos, swirling and twirling in vortexes around his arms. He began to pace away, heading nowhere in particular. The ground crunched and cracked beneath his boots.

“Where are you going?” Gluttony asked in a fluttery voice.

“Anywhere but here.” He kept walking.

“It’s all the same out there, brother,” Wrath cautioned, his face a thunderstorm. “We already searched high and low centuries ago.” His voice took on a solemn quality when he said, “This world has changed.”

The black, creaking creature they called Pride was undeterred.

“I know,” he said simply. Several piles of trash and detritus collapsed beneath his weight as he skirted around the larger segments of toppled concrete.

“Well,” Lust said with finality. “That’s good enough for me.” She stood to her full length, and again the motes of dust were excited into spiralling around her emaciated form. Dark, dry hair spilled down to her thimble-thin waist and rested on her jagged hips, splaying at the ends like some hideous waterfall.

Greed and Envy tilted their heads at the sudden burst of movement, a pinprick punctuation in the forsaken wastelands of the world.

“What’s this?” Greed called over. A rockslide would have held more enthusiasm.

“Walk.” Lust turned to follow her brother.

At that Envy settled back down, losing interest. He muttered something about dead lands and deader company. He scratched at his stubby beak and picked up the die once more.

“Roll anything below a seven and we go with them,” Greed told him.

The bone cubes did their dance across the grit and skidded to a halt. When the cloud had diffused and their sight was once more unburdened, they saw the die’s pupils staring up at them. Greed lowered himself once more.

“Nothing out there, anyway.” He snatched up the dice.

Wrath was a sudden blur of motion as he came up and jogged over the sand-clotted plains, his own collection of filth trailed him like a phantom cloak. He walked abreast his siblings in silence for what may have been several hours.

“What made you join us,” Lust asked finally.

“Better company than those we left behind.”

The sky above them darkened to another shade of putrid purple, and they knew that it would retain that hue for a horrifically long time. It mattered little. It would brighten, vaguely, once more eventually.

The three of them wondered aimlessly for another untold period, saying nothing, thinking less.

“I could have done this alone,” Pride eventually said as they were walking across a disintegrating bridge. The crusty paint that sheathed it had worn under the abrasive wind to a depressing brown. The stretch of ocean that had once roared beneath its stretching limb had long since run dry. Now only bones and grit awaited them below.

His brother and sister offered him no reply.

They walked ever onwards, seeing not much of anything save for the tombstones of fallen buildings and the remnants of long dead inhabitants. Here the rust-pocked shell of an automobile, there the melting panes of glass as they slowly puddled over the course of many millennia under gravity’s unrelenting will.

Still, they pressed on, never intending or expecting to find something different, something new. They had grown used to whatever this was that they called their existence. Grown used to the ever present hunger within them to meddle in the lives of those who no longer existed.

Back at their camp, if it could be considered as such, the remaining four sat unmoving. Save for the eternal skittering of dice and the occasional, peculiar ruffle of wind, no one made a sound.

Gluttony sat with eyes fixed on nothing. Sloth balanced on the edge of wakefulness and slumber.

The small fire, still refusing to succumb to the cold hand of death, cast a glow upon them that was far from comforting.

It was an abyssal knowledge that filled all seven of them; they were no longer needed.

The world had changed.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 08:42:52 AM by AlmightyZael »
Up Helly Aah!

Offline Elfy

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Re: [Aug 2014] - The Seven Deadly Sins - Submission Thread
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2014, 01:08:47 AM »
Didn't know if I could do this, because I'm away on holiday from today, but the bunny bit and I made the time to write a story on the topic. It's called Greed is Good. It's 1483 words without the title. If you see @ChrisElfy on Twitter, that's me.

Enjoy!

Spoiler for Hiden:
Greed is Good

“Have you seen this years figures, Lutton?” the small scaly grey demon demanded, standing on his chair, tiny vestigial bat wings stuck out stiffly from his back, forked tongue flickering in and out of his needle fanged mouth rapidly, as he sprayed invective and acidic spittle at the obese man in the ill fitting and food stained suit.

“Ummm…yes, Mr B,” the unfortunate Lutton answered hesitantly, his voice surprisingly soft for someone so large. “They…I mean…they’re my…uhhh…figures.”

“It’s simply not good enough, Lutton,” the bureaucratic demon said, resuming his seat and straightening the tie he wore around his neck.

For as long as he had been a Deadly Sin, which had been since the beginning of time, Lutton had wondered by his immediate superior: Beezlebub, wore a tie, because he didn’t wear any other clothes to go with it. It seemed to be an affectation of the demon’s. Possibly the inventor of the tie was another of his charges. Lutton had always found them to be an evil invention. They didn’t serve any useful purpose other than to make the wearer uncomfortable.

Lutton pulled his own tie away from the rolls of fat that comprised his thick neck, removed another donut from the grease stained bag in his lap and popped it into his mouth.

“You know that your figures have been declining for years, don’t you?” Beelzebub asked.

“Ahhhh…yes, Mr B,” Lutton replied glumly.

“The boss isn’t happy at all when I present figures like this to him,” the imp continued, “and when the boss isn’t happy we all suffer, Lutton. It’s not just those poor schmucks that you condemned to the third circle.”

“No…Mr B,” Lutton said apologetically, nervously consuming another donut and licking the sugar off his fingers as an almost unconscious afterthought.

“I mean after all why do we pay you, Lutton?”

The Deadly Sin frowned, although his face was so grossly inflated that it was hard to notice his expression changing and his piggy little eyes were almost hidden by the bags under them. “You don’t pay me, Mr B,” he pointed out.

“We don’t?” the demon seemed surprised by that revelation. “Well, we do keep you in donuts and fried peanut butter sandwiches.”

Lutton sighed. He wished Mr B hadn’t mentioned the sandwiches, that made him want one of the fat laden treats, and the bag only had donuts in it. “It’s not like it used to be, Mr B,” Lutton tried to defend his poor performance. “They keep publishing studies that say sugar, salt, saturated fats, MSG, all the good stuff is bad for you.”

“Not my problem, Lutton,” Mr B said off handedly, starting to look amongst the papers on his overcrowded desk.

“The eighties were easy,” Lutton sighed. “They made it so easy for me back then. That Gordon Gekko fellow. I liked him. Greed is good, now there’ a maxim to live by.”

Beelzebub stared at the Deadly Sin. “The performance meeting is over, Lutton,” he snapped. “I don’t care how you do it, just fix it or else.”

                                                               ****

That couldn’t have gone much worse, G. Lutton thought as he flopped onto his couch, which protested at his enormous weight.

He started to unwrap the meal he had brought from the fish and chip shop on the way home. All sorts of fatty fried delights lay within the greasy newspaper it had been wrapped in.

He inserted a dim sim into his mouth and as he contemplated the deep fried Mars Bar that lay next to it, his eye was caught by an article on the paper.

Lutton masticated the fried confection viciously as he read the article. Another of those damned miracle diets. This was what made his job so difficult now. They all wanted to be healthy and good looking, as a result they rejected everything he offered. He wondered if he could find a way to reincarnate Rubens, he had made being overweight desirable. This looking good stuff, working out at the gym, eating healthy, admiring one’s body, that all played right into Pride’s hands. The vain peacock was probably being oiled up as Lutton ate, flexing and posing as he strolled through his mirror filled halls.

Angrily Lutton wadded up the newspaper and hurled it into his fireplace. The introduction of the grease caused a brief flare up of flames and the Deadly Sin fancied he saw his sister’s face Wrath in them briefly. He considered the article again and realized how susceptible people were to what they read or heard. They’d buy anything if you sold it right.

                                                                ****

Doctor Gregory Price was so intent on what he was studying through his microscope that he didn’t notice the initial smell of brimstone that had invaded his lab until he removed his eyes from the device and rubbed the bridge of his nose. It was then that he saw the man sitting on a chair.

The word obese didn’t really do him justice. Gregory had once seen a picture of a circus ‘fat man’ who had been reputed to be the heaviest person ever recorded. He may have come close to the character seated on a groaning chair, that looked like it was going to collapse under the immense weight on it at any moment. He clutched a jumbo sized bucket of fried chicken and was eating from it.

“Doctor Gregory Price?” the man asked in a surprisingly soft voice.

“Who are you and how did you get in here?” the doctor asked.

“My card,” the overweight individual said, proffering a white business card in grease stained fingers.

Gregory accepted the card, trying not to touch it where those dirty sausage sized fingers had handled it. He looked down at the plain black writing with a frown. It was a name.

“Mr G. Lutton?” he asked.

“One and the same.”

“What exactly are you doing here, Mr Lutton?”

“I have a business proposition, Dr Price.”

“And that is?”

“You’re quite a respected individual when it comes to telling people what is good and what isn’t for them to put into their mouths.”

“Yes,” Gregory answered, with a touch of pride. “I am one of the world’s leading authorities in the field of nutrition.”
 
“Oh my brother would love you,” the strange intruder said, a smile playing across his fat greasy lips.

“I should also tell you that with that bucket of transfat you’re consuming you’re significantly lowering your own life expectancy.”

“I rather doubt that, doctor,” Lutton smirked. “However that’s neither here nor there. Do you make much money out of what you do?”

Gregory shrugged. “I could be wealthier, there’s not a lot of money in telling people they shouldn’t eat things that they like.”

“Have you ever thought of tweaking your results to do the opposite?”

“What? Why would I do that?”

“Money,” Lutton said, his tiny eyes twinkling. “Have you ever looked into the profits made by the world’s largest fast food franchises?”

“Not really. They stand against everything I do.”

“But they make people happy and they give them what they want and make money out of it. Retired army colonels and travelling salesmen have become rich beyond your wildest dreams by doing just that, Doctor Price. Why shouldn’t you join them?”

Gregory didn’t know who the fat man was or how he’d got in here, but what he said made sense. There was nothing wrong with those things in moderation, but when that moderation turned into gluttony there was a problem. However the retired army colonel and the travelling salesman that Lutton had mentioned had never worried about that and to the best of his knowledge they’d lived long and successful lives, dying when they were fabulously wealthy. Why shouldn’t he use what he knew and the doctorate he’d earned to do something similar. Maybe he could invest the money he made in studying the effects of salt, sugar and saturated fats on the human body and how to make those things useful rather than harmful.

“Just dial the number on the card if you want to reach me,” Lutton said. “I’d be interested in being a silent partner in anything you decide to start up.”

                                                                  ****

“I don’t know how you did it, Lutton,” Beelzebub said, his glowing eyes glittering as he looked over Gluttony’s figures. “But these are excellent.”

“This had a little bit to do with it,” the Deadly Sin said, pushing a wrapped hamburger across the desk to his superior.

Beelzebub examined the burger and said, “A PriceBurger?”

“All the rage upstairs on Earth, Mr B. Go on, eat it,” Lutton urged.

The demon bit cautiously into the burger. “Mmmm…” he said around the mouthful. “Fat, sugar, salt…I can almost hear my arteries hardening.”

“All the good stuff,” Lutton smiled. “Look at the last number on this year’s list. Doctor Gregory Price. Him I want taken special care of.”


I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline Ray Krebs

Re: [Aug 2014] - The Seven Deadly Sins - Submission Thread
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2014, 03:46:16 PM »
I liked this one a lot, so many faults to choose from, and we all love our faults.

Comes in at 1456 words.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Irresistible

Irresistible
by Ray Krebs

Tessa counted time in her head, starting when Grem entered the outer audience chamber. Waiting her turn in the public hallway of the Warlord's castle, she examined the tapestries. She knew nothing about weaving, but she imitated a Sissten trader's interest in anything with a high amount of value and a low amount of weight. Her inner counting got down to her turn, and she handed the Chamberlain a letter of introduction from an untraceable Prince in the northern marches. A scribe pushed past her.

"Apologize, dolt." She tried to put the sound of wealth into in her voice.

"Sorry, Ma'am. Please forgive." The smile on his face didn't say sorry at all.

She was here to assassinate the Warlord and didn't need a scene. The count inside her head was down to five hundred. "I don't want to see your face again."

She didn't look for Grem. He'd do his part when the time came. She needed to mix with the other traders. Looking around for one, she saw a woman wearing the Warlord's colors of turquoise and gold approaching her.
"Ma'am, the Warlord's Wizard will see you now. Please follow me."

"But I'm here because of the tariffs." Tessa didn't follow her as the servant walked toward the alcoves over on the right.

She stopped. "The Wizard will explain everything. Do I need to get the guards?"

Tessa thought about running. For her plan to work, she and Grem had to be on opposite sides when Her Fearsome Majesty came through after lunch in the Residence. If the wizard held Tessa up for too long, they'd miss their opportunity. She had to talk fast or go back out the door and hope she could outrun an arrow. Stepping into the alcove, she stopped again when she saw the man seated behind a stone table.
The eyes hung in the shadows of his bloated face. The forehead had puffed out above, matching the jowls below. These shook as he swallowed. Where the arm leaned on the table, the fat-filled flesh spread out along the granite. He picked up a sausage, waving it at the chair in front of him. "Have a seat. We need to talk, wizard to wizard."

The chair on her side was a graceful lyre-back. His, twice as wide, had been built from timbers. She touched the chair without sitting down. "Not a wizard, sir. Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm a Sissten merchant here to complain about the tariffs."

"You did your homework, but not enough of it. Sissten traders never wear rings. Don't try my patience, I have none. Sit." He bit into the sausage.

Both of her plans might let her leave the castle alive, but she'd wanted a chance to kill the Warlord first. Taking a quick glance at the position of the guards, she sat without seeing any. Hells Below, she should have noticed that as soon as the door opened. She turned back to the wizard, regretting it. The sight of his red lips embracing a raw oyster made her stomach clench. "What do you want?"

"Business first. Good enough. Want to try the pickled eel in aspic? I never went for eel much, but the Warlord's hired the most amazing chef." His smile pulled up a lost dimple.

She sorted though the items in her pouch by feel. She only needed a disabling blow on the fat man, saving the rest of her magic for the target. Her count hit seventy-five. She used her legs to push the chair back from the table. "I'm not here for lunch. I'm surprised the Warlord keeps such a disgusting Wizard."

Tessa rose from the chair, hurling a leather sack filled with a magical glue. She'd developed it to hold down the guards, but it'd work against a wizard trying to lift a wand. With one of her readied spells, she shot a lead ball fast enough to break bones. As she tried to turn, her body became too heavy for her legs to hold up.

She dropped back in her chair. She tried again, lifting hard with her legs. That relieved some of the pressure on her buttocks, but left her in the seat. Her head felt normal, everything else immobilized by gravity. In front of her, the other wizard was untouched. The table was covered in glue, and the lead ball had smashed down into the dish of eel.

"My passion for food defines me. I'm honest about it, that's the rare thing. The Warlord recognizes this and gives me much to love in return for my skills." He took a sip of water and dabbed his face with a piece of linen. "I've a talent for sympathetic magic."

"You did this, you dumped your weight on me. Where's the congenital link, you stinking pile of dung?" The count was down to twenty-five, and the weight pressing her arse to the seat kept her immobile.

"My assistant brushed up against you in the doorway. You got some of my hair magically glued in with yours, and I've got your dagger." He held it up for her to see. "This must be one of your favorites. The link is strong enough I can make you too heavy to stand, but still leave your head and jaw free."

The count had finished and she heard the crowd's whispers get louder as the Warlord entered. She heard the commanding voice greeting people, but nothing else. Unable to turn around, she couldn't see what was happening. Where was Grem?

"Your friend got the hair, just as you did, as well as a touch of poison. He's flat on his back now, but I'll let him go in a few minutes. When the guards arrive to take him to prison."

"And I'll be joining him." She'd never thought this plan was the best, just the best she could do with the time and assets at hand. She brought her jaws together hard enough for her teeth to hurt. Her escape plan required movement. She'd never considered how to leave while weighing three hundred pounds. Failure twisted her stomach, all the worse because it was going to kill her.

"Not so fast. Wizards don't often join causes. Why help the rebels?"

"Money, mostly. I was supposed to be a mercenary." She had already lost her life, nothing prevented her from enjoying the conversation. "Not as much gold as you'd think, but I took more than the rebels could afford. Really, though, it's the challenge. My plan's so good it looks deceptively simple. It needed very little luck to work."

"You're good, aren't you. You like to show it to the world, too." He leaned back in his chair, folding his hands over his stomach. The distant eyes never looked away. "I've an offer for you. Work for the Warlord. She can give you what you need. As you can see, she provides for my little vice."

"Little vice?" She sat across from a fool. "You're a glutton, you dumb prick. She's feeding you to death, and you'll do anything to keep her safe so the food keeps coming. I don't want to work for a pompous tyrant."

"Another way to look at it, granted. She has me here in the corner, where I belong perhaps." He poured brandy into two glasses setting one in front of her. "What if I told you how dangerous the position was? You'd be standing right next to her, taking attacks on the run. Not many can do that."

"That's my choice? Either be executed for trying to kill her, or get hired to keep assassins away? You've got a real streak of irony."

"Not just a guard, she values wizards, that's why you're being spared. And when I say valued, I mean staggering amounts of gold. Or in my case a Master Chef."

"Just for guarding her?"

"The position of Head Wizard is open for you. Lots of chances to defeat assassinations by visiting Royal Wizards. Lots of fame." He leaned forward. "Can we drink to a deal?"

Tessa couldn't believe her luck. "Yes. My word as a wizard."

The sympathetic magic dropped away. Back at her normal weight, she stood. "What next?"

"Swear an oath to your new employer. Pardon me, Your Fearsomeness, if I don't get up. My knees you know."
"You say that every time," the Warlord said.

Tessa spun around and bowed her head. "Majesty. This is an honor."

The stern, grey haired woman retained her beauty in a face that had aged well. She nodded to Tessa, but spoke to the other wizard. "Do we have a chain to hold her?"

"Pride, Ma'am, and lots of it."


End

« Last Edit: August 17, 2014, 03:52:08 PM by Ray Krebs »

Offline MTMaenpaa

Re: [Aug 2014] - The Seven Deadly Sins - Submission Thread
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2014, 04:54:25 PM »
My grand submission...

1199 words, not including the title
@MatthewTMaenpaa


Spoiler for Hiden:
This Horror Will Grow Mild, This Darkness Light
by Matt Maenpaa

As it turned out, Hell was the Mall of America.  Or all the malls of America, rather.  An endless string of shops, food carts, food courts, parks, weird security guards and the worst music you can imagine.  An endless tide of damned souls, consuming their way through an Afterlife full of frail illusions.

Finding yourself in such a frighteningly banal situation, with no knowledge of how to proceed, can certainly send you spiraling into a dark place.  Only, you're still in this neverending mall of the doomed whenever you manage to pull yourself out of it.  And so it was with me.  Once I pulled myself from the shroud of despair, I paused to consider why I was there at all.

I died in an accident, of the traumatic and potentially embarrassing variety that requires no detail.  But I had been a good person, mostly, so finding myself in such an obvious hell was somewhat baffling.  Then again, I was never a religious person so maybe that had something to do with it.  Still, I had retained my memories, my sense of self.

Time is an inconsequential detail in the Afterlife, a construct of the mind to provide some sort of structure.  Consequently, I was never really sure how long I'd been in the mall.  We don't sleep when we're dead, except for the Slothful.  And if you try, you find yourself alone with your memories.  All of them at first, but you only keep the ones that you focus on the most.  Except with this place, it's hard to avoid dwelling on the worst ones.  Eventually that's all you're left with.

So I wandered, and wandered.  At first, with no purpose, just to explore.  No one stopped me, no one talked, no one seemed to notice.  I didn't really mind.  I found one of those mall maps, only it was absolutely unhelpful.  The areas were massive.  They may be shrunk down, but until you learn how to navigate, you can spend an eternity lost in the food court.  Which may have happened to me. 

The food court was where I realized that it truly was Hell.  That sin was a real thing.  Most of the damned had enough variety of sin, they remained themselves.  But some people devoted themselves to a sin, even without meaning to.  Gluttons gravitate to the food court, to continue shoveling grotesque amounts of nothingness into their obese, festering bodies.  In Hell, after you've been there a while, you start to resemble your worst self.

It all fell into place after that.  I knew what I was looking at then, how to spot certain sins.  The Lustful were pretty easy to see; though they came in all shapes and sizes, they were always naked and fornicating.  I mean always.  The Slothful were harder to find, until I found a whole abandoned wing of the mall that had been burnt out and taken over by squatters.  Millions of comatose souls.  It seems an odd thing, every time I think of it.  Are they dreaming within a dream?

Just like in any mall, you had endless shops full of cosmetics, jewelry and clothing.  Competing brands and fashions.  That was where to find the Proud, the Envious and the Greedy.  Actually, you could find the Wrathful there too.  They were the ones screaming at clerks and smashing displays.

Not a single soul seemed interested in interacting with me or even noticing me unless I made myself known to them.  I snatched a watch out of a potential thief's hand and he howled with outrage and swung at me, but his furious blows passed through me like mist.  Time and again, I found myself as a witness to madness.  These souls driven by their sins, forever doomed to repeat them.

So I wandered around the mall, trying to sort it all out.  Looking for some sort of leadership, our demonic overlords watching our torment with glee.  Not a single whip or hook.  No hellfire.  Not even the faintest whiff of brimstone.  The food court didn't even smell like food.  Just a vague antiseptic smell, like an abandoned asylum.

Maybe it was a day, maybe it was a thousand years.  But it struck me, watching this closed circuit parody of American capitalism, what all of these sins were.  The Greedy fed the Gluttons, who got fatter.  The Envious saw the Gluttons and felt better about themselves, until they saw the Proud and the Greedy.  They consumed each other.  The Lustful, the Wrathful, they would consume each other, everyone else, but also each other.  The Slothful consumed themselves.

There was no Devil, no overlords waiting to torture the damned.  There was only a neverending consumption, a punishment meted out to ourselves.  All sin was over-consumption.  All sin was a lack of willpower.  Only how do you fight against that, trapped in a place that seems to encourage such behavior?  How do you regain your will in the face of such endless despair?

Though I was never terribly religious, I did think of myself as a spiritual and moral person.  I loved the bond of family, feeling a closeness with nature.  I probably watched too much television and played too many videogames.  I wasn't a bad person, but I did have a highly delinquent young adulthood.  But being in this place, I felt the tug.  The worst memories surfacing, times when I'd been bullied, when I'd lied or cheated.  The time that I was bored and pissed that I'd been stood up, so I beat the piss out of a random kid in a bar.

When all you have are the bad memories, you begin to lose your sense of self.  It gets replaced with a sort of dark reflection.  It was hard to resist the hate, the grief, but in the end your soul can win out.  I was sitting there by a reflection pond full of hellpennies and realized that I had spent however much time being angry about something that happened to me when I was seven.  Something that I had never been mad about to begin with.  I had let it go.  So I let it go again.

A little brightness formed up inside of me, growing brighter every time I pulled up a bad thought, a thorn, and let it go.  Cast out the resentment, the guilt, the regret.  Hell or not, I was dead and there was no sense in dwelling on it.  Too much time in life wasted on thinking about what I should've done, so why bother in the end?

With each new spark of light, something came back.  My mom's cookies coming out of the oven, burning myself on the pan when I tried to sneak one.  My wife's smile as we held our daughter.  The first time my little girl hugged me.  The joy and the love, the best reward of a life well lived.  I closed my eyes, feeling a tear stream down my cheek.  The brightness consumed me, filling me with white light.  In letting go, I could leave this Hell.  Free from the all consuming regrets, I could fill myself with light.

So I did.  I moved on.
Foodie, Chef, Writer, Reader, Father, Geek

http://laughingcook.wordpress.com/

Offline Carter

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Re: [Aug 2014] - The Seven Deadly Sins - Submission Thread
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2014, 02:52:45 PM »
Here's mine for this month.  It comes in at 1497 words.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Familiarity Breeds Contempt

He stared up at the balcony and its closed doors.  The setting sun splashed the walls in pale crimson, the trellis of roses bleeding into the bricks.  An unsettling anger had already replaced simmering irritation.  Hours she had kept him waiting, kept him in the bleakness of her silence. 

“Talk to me!  Please!”

His heart skipped a beat.  Was that a noise?  Did he hear her in there?  He strained his ears, all the while his heart pleading for it to be true.  He heard the latch click.  He saw the door nudge open.  Sweat sprung at his palms, his mouth dried out and his tongue became lead and she appeared; his rose, his flower, his everything.  Even after all the time they had spent together growing up, even after that one glorious night, just seeing her took his breath away and set his heart racing.  Her blonde hair fell in waves over her shoulders, the sun made her cheeks look flushed and set his memory back to that wondrous day, her white nightgown moving and flowing in the light breeze, caressing every perfect line of her. 

“I can’t believe you’re still here.  Go away.  Go home.  Go anywhere else but here,” she said. 

For a moment he stood in silence, all words fleeing his mind.  Carefully composed prose and poetry were blown away by the shock at her words, at the disdain in her voice.  He flushed as the anger bubbled to the surface and he bit down on the back of his thumb to stop himself screaming invective.  His pulse throbbed through his skin, his teeth and into his brain, dominating everything until finally he sucked in a calming breath. 

“Please, listen.  We need to talk, we need to – ”

We don’t need to do anything.  You need to go.  Or haven’t I made that clear enough for you?”

There was steel in her voice.  Her words brooked no argument.  Yet he could no more obey her than he could ignore the thudding of his heart or the emotions that churned within him.  He longed to feel her against him, craved another kiss from her lips, needed her beside him now and forever.  It was meant to be.  It was emblazoned across the stars.  He knew it.  He felt it. 

And after all the time they had spent together, she had to see it too.  She had to know, had to feel the same.  Nothing else made any sense.  Perhaps she needed something else to help her see, to ease her path.  And he had just the thing. 

“Our fathers are discussing the betrothal as we speak,” he said, his heart leaping at finally saying the words that demanded to be spoken, allowing his joy to suffuse him and burn away any doubts, any fears.  “We’ll be married.  Just as it was always meant to be.”

He expected a trill of excitement.  A glowing smile.  A rapturous eruption of delight.  Instead his announcement was met with a blanched face and rigid silence.  Even from a distance he could read the tension that seized her, paralysed her and stopped his heart. 

“What’s wrong?”
 
Silence. 

“It’s what we’ve always wanted.  It’s what our families have always wanted but never had the opportunity until now.  They’ve been talking about it for years and now finally it’s happening.  Isn’t it the most incredible news you could ever imagine?”

Silence. 

“I told you I would talk to father.  I told you that night after the ball.  When we – ”

“Gods above.  You’re serious?  Even after my letters?  After all I wrote to you?  You witless, moronic . . . boy.”

The window rattled as she slammed the door shut behind her and he stared once more up at the balcony in confusion and devastation.  There had been letters.  He had read them voraciously over and over.  Of how she wanted to keep their tryst a secret.  Of how it could affect her reputation if news spread.  Of how she did not want to spoil their long friendship.  And so he had found a solution.  The only solution.  One that suited everyone.  Surely she could see that?

Without thought, his feet took him to the foot of the wall.  Overhead the trellis stretched its arms up, offering path and salvation, understanding and entreaty.  Rose thorns plucked at his hands, the pain sweet, the aroma heady as he began his ascent.  He hardly felt each pinprick, each shudder of the trestle as it struggled to support his weight.  All that mattered was the climb and reaching his beloved.  Everything seemed frozen in place until he finally set foot on the balcony.  His fingers bled, his blood pounded, his mind raced and yet he stood, certain and sure that finally, finally, he could convince her of the depth of his feelings, of his devotion.  One more talk, here, in her rooms, where everything had been made clear to him, and everything would be set, everything would be resolved.

“My love,” he said, pushing the door open and stepping through into a place that would be forever etched into his memory.  “Listen.  It’s going to be fine.  It will all work out, you’ll see.  I didn’t tell father anything about what happened, only that - ”

When she turned to face him he expected a smile, radiant and apologetic, a smile that could bridge the sudden gulf that had torn them asunder.  He expected her to fling herself back into his arms but instead she turned with furious, burning rage in her eyes, clenched fists and tear-streaked cheeks. 

“Get.  Out.”

Confused, he took another step forward, arms spread wide to console and comfort.  Her face stilled; a portrait in perfection, every line etched in stone, unmoving and inviolate.  If he could but explain, if he could only show just what she meant to him then perhaps, just perhaps they still had a chance.

“No, listen, I love – ”

“No.  You don’t and you don’t even see it.  You lust after me, have done for years.  I thought it sweet at first, to have you following me around, to have your attention.  And yes, our families are close so we saw lots of each other.  And yes, perhaps they expected something more from us but I never felt it, never felt anything for you.”

She took a step towards him, her delicate feet placed with precision, her breathing steady and he watched the rise and fall of her chest as she approached.  Horror began to squeeze at his heart, some part of his mind taking in her words while another part could only stop and stare, uncomprehending of events as they unravelled around him.  He stepped away, back towards the balcony and the open air.  Suddenly everything seemed too close, the air too heavy to breathe.

“But . . . that night . . . after the ball . . . ”

“Gods above!  I was drunk.  I gave in.  Once.  It meant - it means - nothing.”

“But you said . . . ”

He didn’t see the slap coming.  He didn’t feel it at first, only heard the thunderclap as she struck him and something broke inside him as the certainty of his world collapsed. 

His mind screamed, or maybe she did, as his knife appeared in his right hand.  It became difficult to focus, to separate what was happening with the burning that ripped through him.  He loved her, he needed her.  She had to see, had to understand.  He caught her arm as she attempted to strike him again, her face an ashen mask of fear, her skin smooth as silk, white as porcelain beneath his fingers. 

“Let go of me!”

She struggled and he pulled her close.  Thudding against his chest, pinning his free arm between them, she gasped, her mouth opening in shock, her ivory teeth shining, her beautiful tongue glistening with saliva.  He could feel the warmth between them, feel it radiating from her in spite of all her protestations and he smiled. 

Still she wriggled in the circle of his arm, her weight pushing him back, ever backwards.  The world ceased its inexorable turning as he felt the metal of the railings at his back, as he felt the wetness slicking his hand, as he felt the slow turning of his brain bring sluggish comprehension.  Time stilled as her body sagged into his.  Everything stopped as he toppled backwards and downwards, ever downwards. 

*

It was her nurse who found them locked in their final embrace.  It was her nurse who brought the word to their fathers.  It was her nurse who witnessed the eruption of violent anger as friends became the bitterest of enemies.

“Your family will pay for what she did to my son!”

“You blame my daughter?  How can you blame her?  My only daughter, slain, and you blame me and mine?  It is your family who will suffer for this.”

Offline Giddler

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Re: [Aug 2014] - The Seven Deadly Sins - Submission Thread
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2014, 09:29:01 PM »
Hi, here's mine this month.

The Incident, 1493 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Incident


An alley.

Blood and reptile dung were scattered around the alley in equal amounts, like a student hazing gone terribly wrong. Elsa turned from the scene to the cavalryman next to her. When news of the victim’s identity had spread, the men of the Einholt 3rd Wyvern Lancers had come with due haste.

Archeron the pygmy wyvern, regimental mascot of the 3rd, had fallen foul of the most obscene behaviour. The poor creature stood trembling in the dirty alley with an almost human expression of betrayal on it’s reptilian face.

“When did you last see him, Captain?” she asked, lowering the hood of her overcoat to hear his answer. The soldiers had been joined by a mob of jeering locals clustering around the entrance to the alley. The cavalry officer’s face was taut with suppressed emotion. Thankfully, the riding dragons from which the regiment took its name were absent.

“Yesterday morning.” the officer replied. “He’s been the responsibility of our stable-master since he became too old for ceremonial duties, but I check on him regularly.” The man’s face twitched. “Look, Officer, this is all completely unnecessary. I’ve told you: we’ve caught the miscreant responsible.”

“One of your own men?” The young soldier in question had been dragged screaming and naked into a patrol wagon by Watchmen. Even the sharp impact of a cudgel to his groin had not been enough to deter the man’s obvious ardour towards the little reptile.

“Yes, that’s correct. Trooper Sowell. An obvious case of military jurisdiction. Trial followed by firing squad. There’s enough bloody witnesses.” His tone made it clear that a firing squad was one of the more humane options being considered. “So hand the man back and we’ll see justice served.”

“Justice, Captain? Military law has specific laws dealing with bestiality involving magical animals?”

“Well, no,” the captain blustered, “of course not. But the day a bloody lizard-fiddler tarnishes the honour of my regiment-”

Elsa had had enough. “Captain, I’ve no doubt you’re aware that within this city my authority greatly exceeds yours.” The officer glared at her but nodded. “I’ll need to speak with some of your men. Have those who worked closely with Trooper Sowell ready for interview this afternoon.” The officer nodded again and stalked off.

“Behold the wages of sin!” A booming voice filtered through the mob blocking the alley entrance. The Regimental Padre had arrived, and clearly hoped to use the situation to his professional advantage. “Behold the sinner, punished for his lustful ways! The weaknesses of the flesh are many, and to heed them begets madness!”

A commotion over by the patrol wagon drew Elsa’s attention. Cavalrymen, their indignation fanned into anger by the preacher’s rhetoric, had surrounded the horse-drawn armoured box and were pushing it in turns, trying to tip it over.

Definitely time to leave, she thought.

————————————

Interview 1

“Had he ever, before today, shown signs of this kind of …” Elsa searched for the correct word, “inclination?”

Sergeant Gadrose snorted and shook his head. “I’m sure we would have remarked upon it. No, as far as I knew he had a healthy sexual appetite. A bit too healthy, now I think of it.”

“Is he married?”

“No, no. I think he was engaged to be at one point, but I don’t know what came of it. So, are you going to hang the dirty bastard or what?”

“That will be all, thank you.”

———————————

Interview 2

“She called it off. Thought he was seeing other women behind her back. Completely paranoid,” said Trooper Blount.

“Was he?” asked Elsa, stretching her legs under the table. “Seeing other women?”

“Er, yes, he was.” Blount at least had the self awareness to look slightly awkward. “He had a bit of a reputation, actually.”

“Do you know where we can find his ex-fiance?”

“No idea, sorry. Maybe Sowell can tell you himself. By the way, what time do you finish work?”

“That will be all, thank you.”

———————————
Holding Cell

Unsurprisingly, Trooper Sowell was a pathetic sight. The young man sat wrapped in a blanket on the cot in his cell, snot dripping from his otherwise rakish moustache. Two Watchmen stood guard over him while Elsa conducted the interview.

“Is this the first time you …?” She tried to phrase the question delicately. Realising it was impossible, she let the sentence hang.

Sowell nodded absently.

“Can you tell me what you remember of the incident?”

Sowell’s face screwed up. “All of it! Everything! Oh, Gods help me. It just seemed so right at the time,” he trailed off.

Suddenly, he let out a howl of despair and leapt up from his cot. The two guards grabbed him and bundled him to the floor, pinning him under their combined bulk.

“Sowell!” Elsa shouted over the shrieking prisoner. “We can’t help you unless you calm down and talk to us!”

The fight drained out of him and he slumped in the grip of the guards as they lifted him back onto his cot. Elsa nodded at the guards and they released the prisoner. She decided to try a different line of questioning.

“One of your colleagues said you were engaged to be married recently.”

He nodded. “Last year. We called it off.”

“What happened?”

Sowell shrugged. “I was abroad. Jeni went to the university to study as an alchemist. We just grew apart.”

“Your colleague said your fiance suspected you of being unfaithful.”

“Yes. Quite a few times.” He nodded miserably. “I’m not proud of myself,” he added, with no apparent sense of irony.

———————————————

The University


 Elsa entered the main hall and followed the directions of the porter to the Lecturer in Alchemical Studies Office. She knocked on the door and entered. A waft of fragrant smoke drifted into her face, prompting a sudden nostalgia for her student days. A mousy looking man with thinning hair wearing a tweed robe sat behind a walnut desk.

“Professor Fisk?” asked Elsa.

Fisk nodded, and smiled in a manner obviously intended to convey worldly academic charm. “Please,” he murmured over his interlocked fingers. “Call me Ed.”

Apparently, even schools which taught prospective mages to wield the wild energies of magic were not exempt from the scourge of the ‘cool teacher’ persona.

“As you wish, Ed. I’m Officer Kolne.” An ironic smirk was his response. Elsa pressed on.

“I’m looking for one of your students: a Jennivere Gall.”

Fisk raised an eyebrow. “May I ask why? I have a duty of care towards my students, Officer.”

“I’d like to ask her a few questions.”

“Regarding what, exactly?” Fisk was clearly enjoying being obstructive.

“Regarding an incident I’m looking into. I’m hoping she’ll be able to shed some light upon the matter.” Fisk opened his mouth, but Elsa cut him off.

“Ed, if I hear another word of passive-aggressive crap out of you, I’ll be back here in an hour with a squad of officers to take a proper look around your office.” Fisk’s mouth snapped shut. “Now, unless you’re absolutely certain there’s nothing in this room I might take exception to as an agent of the law, stop hindering my investigation.”

Fisk nodded uneasily, and took a ledger from out of a pile. As he did so, something small and metallic rattled across the desktop. It was a tiny figurine of a wyvern, proudly unfurling it’s wings and arching it’s back to let out a silent roar. They both looked at it.

“Were you a military man, Ed?” asked Elsa, eventually.

Fisk looked at the figurine furtively. “No, why do you ask?”

Elsa stared at him evenly. “Because I can only think of one other reason why you would own a regimental badge of the Einholt 3rd Wyvern Lancers.”

Fisk scrambled for the door.
———————————————————

Interview 3

“When Jeni heard that Sowell was seeing other women she was heartbroken,” mumbled Fisk through his broken jaw. ”He kept on doing it though, the shit. Every night. He was like a dog on heat. Jeni came to me one evening, drunk, and asked me to cast an enchantment on him to make him faithful to her. So, I needed an item belonging to him.”

Elsa sighed. “She brought you the figurine, and you attempted a spell which, I’m told, is considered advanced even by those with actual training in the art.”

“It was a simple enough incantation,” Fisk muttered sullenly.

“And yet your bungling of it has cost a man his career and reputation. And very nearly his genitals.”

Fisk slumped in his seat. “I just wanted to help her. She was so sad.”

———————————————————

Holding Cell.

Sowell slumped on the cot, unmoving. A plate of food lay congealed on the floor. The door opened, and a young woman entered, wearing the robes of a student alchemist. She went over to the cot, sat down next to Sowell, and took his hand in hers. After a time, he lay his head on her lap and she stroked his cheek tenderly.



Offline The Meddler

Re: [Aug 2014] - The Seven Deadly Sins - Submission Thread
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2014, 08:28:26 PM »
Just in time :) This is my first entry to the contest, so I hope you all enjoy it. Good luck to everyone!
Word Count:1327 including title
Spoiler for Hiden:
7


Gregor glared at the swinging lantern at the other end of the wall. His watch-mate was four weeks into his probationary period, and his enthusiasm still hadn't waned. Every little movement or noise and he wanted to sound the alarm. Of course, only a full guardsman could do that, so whenever a pigeon decided to take a dump he had to walk all the way to the boys' post, confirm it was once again nothing, then walk the length of the wall back to his seat. As Gregor rested his bulk against the wall, he thought longingly of the pastries wrapped up under his bed. His wife may not be the brightest, but she was a damned fine cook. It was why he'd married her; he couldn't imagine living off the slops they served in the barracks.

With a sigh, he continued his trek to the other end of the wall. Once he had arrived and seen that nothing was there, he'd talk to the boy. He'd get him to see that there would never be anything out there, that Duke Forshall was too poor and unimportant to bother attacking. The boy would listen, he was sure. After all, he was a senior guard, and the boy wasn't even a junior yet. It only made sense to listen to experience.

At last the boy came into view. He was leaning over the edge, his lantern resting on the wall. He looked up as Gregor approached and made a hurrying gesture.

"Gregor, look at this. There's a rope-"

"What did you call me boy?" the guardsman snapped.

The boy hesitated. "Sir."

Gregor nodded. "Good. Now, what's this about a rope?"

The boy pointed at the wall, his eyes dark.
"It's pinned between the stones a couple of feet down. You have to look right over the edge to see it."

Gregor studied the boy for a moment, then sighed and walked to the edge. It's probably a trick of the light, he reasoned. The boy just got spooked again. He peered into the darkness. "I don't see anything," he said.

"You can't see it from there," the boy replied. "You have to lean right over."

Gregor leaned further forward, struggling to manoeuvre his frame over the wall. "This once," he muttered. "I'll humour him this once and then we'll talk."

He never saw the knife.

~~~~~~~

Eron relaxed, letting a wide grin spread over his face. Finally, the old bastard was dead! He couldn't believe it. It had been just as easy as the woman had said. Lure him over and distract his attention, then slip a poisoned blade into his back. He was surprised it had worked so fast. The woman had said to use only a small amount, even though Eron had expressed on her just how big Gregor was.

With a grunt, he pulled the guard off the wall and picked up the lantern. Leaning over the wall (with much more ease than the old guard, he thought), Eron flashed a quick signal at the ground below.

A few moments later, a grappling hook came flying out of the darkness and settled with a clang onto the wall. The rope attached to it was pulled taut as someone began pulling themselves up.

As Eron waited, he thought about the woman who had hired him. She had approached him in one of the towns few taverns. In return for a hundred gleams and sanctuary with her employer, he would deal with his watch-mate and let an assassin into the castle to kill Duke Forshall.

A few weeks ago Eron would never have agreed to this. But then, joining the guards hadn't had the benefits he'd expected either. The pay was awful and the other guards were the sorriest lot he'd ever seen. Worse still, Marissa still wouldn't give him more than a passing glance. That would change tonight. This town was about to go to hell, and with a small fortune in his pocket and a safe place to go, he reckoned he'd seem like a much more attractive prospect. And who knew? Maybe he could get that woman from the tavern to join them. He wasn't bad-looking. It was just dumb luck that he was too poor to get Marissa's attention.

The rope began shifting as the climber neared the top. Eron moved to the side, ready to help pull him up. Maybe I can get them to pay a little extra, he thought. After all, they did come to me. I'm sure I'm worth at least an extra twenty gleams. He leant over the edge and reached out to the figure below.
He was surprised at the strength in the hand that gripped him. He was even more so when said hand pulled him off the wall.

~~~~~~~

The killer dragged herself onto the battlements, pausing only to toss the lantern after the young recruit. She wished she could have seen him land; watching his body rupture and spread across the ground. But she had a purpose greater than simple amusement.
She picked the fat guardsman up like a doll and threw him off the wall. It would be cruel fate to get so close to her goal and have him escape because the alarm was sounded too early. She took a moment to scan the inside of the keep. Her true-vision penetrated the darkness and the walls with equal ease, letting her see the Duke asleep in his bed. Only two guards stood outside his door.
Ten minutes later, both guards and a group of servants were dead. She'd been dismembering the guards when three food-laden servants walked into the corridor. Even with her abilities, one had managed to scream before she gutted him. The killer listened to the shouts of alarm as the other guards began to react. She shrugged. They couldn't stop her getting to the Duke. And if they tried to prevent her escape? I could use the practise, she thought.

Forshall was attempting to climb out the window when she walked in. His leg made a satisfying crack when she hurled him at the wall. As he wailed, she threw up a Barrier where the door had been. She wasn't going to leave until she was good and ready.

She waited for the duke's wails to subside, then crouched next to him.

"Do you recognise me, O mighty Duke?" she asked.

He stared at her, his eyes cloudy with pain. She knew what he was seeing. Long black hair, dark skin, brown eyes. She knew she hadn't been pretty, that her looks hadn't been much. But they had been hers.
"What about now?" she asked, and dispelled the illusion upon her. Her hair grew short and brittle, with patches missing. Angry burn scars that after six years still hadn't healed covered most of her face. Most prominent of all was a large brand in the centre of her forehead. An eagle in flight with a spear clutched in its talons; the symbol of House Forshall.

The dukes eyes cleared and his jaw dropped open.

"Y-you? But you're the serving wench, Dax promised me you were-"

Snarling, the killer buried her dagger in the dukes throat, destroying his vocal cords. As he began choking on his own blood, she put her mouth next to his ear and whispered.

"You took everything from me. My face, my home, my whole life! All because I made the mistake of serving you. Well, this is my vengeance. You were never punished for your crimes, you got to keep what I lost. So I redress the imbalance. Your family will never see the day, your keep will fall, and you? You will burn!"

The killer moved away in one smooth step, then Immolated the duke. She turned away as he died, feeling the burning hunger inside her grow hotter than the flames without. She could use that hunger. She had work to do.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2014, 08:10:29 AM by The Meddler »

Offline LisaElle

Re: [Aug 2014] - The Seven Deadly Sins - Submission Thread
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2014, 12:00:44 AM »
Phew, just about got this one in. 1497 words entitled A Place to Belong. Some bad language in this one in case that bothers anyone. Hope you enjoy!

Spoiler for Hiden:
A thunderous snoring came from the clearing ahead. The outlaws were asleep. Senwyn darted from shadow to shadow, approaching the embers of their campfire. The girl peered around a tree that shielded her from the camp's view. A man was sleeping nearby. She scanned him from bedraggled hair to boot tip, searching for something she could steal. A glint of gold at his waist caught her eye -- the hilt of a dirk worth far more than the meagre coppers its scabbard might fetch. Senwyn slid down the bark of the tree and reached for the blade. A hand shot up and grabbed her wrist. The outlaw, who had appeared to be sleeping, but was now very much awake, sat up like a startled mastiff and bared his teeth in a snarl.

"Oww," Senwyn cried as he pulled her into the light of the fire. A blonde woman across the camp took aim with a pre-loaded crossbow. She tilted a bottle to her lips with her other hand as she stared down the weapon's bolt at Senwyn.

"Don't you try that with me ya greedy little shit," the man growled, twisting Senwyn's arm. "I'll fry those grubby fingers of yours for breakfast."

"Let me go!" Senwyn swung a punch at the man's jaw. Her knuckles glanced off his chin when he pulled back his head. Anger flared on his face as they locked eyes. The man then bellowed a laugh, causing her fierce look to fade into bewilderment. The blonde woman seemed to take this as a cue to relax. She lowered her crossbow and smirked, tilting back the bottle in her hand for another long draft. Everyone in the camp was awake now and staring at Senwyn, even the older woman, who'd been the source of such violent snoring. She was yawning, her bored eyes questioning why a dirty little waif like Senwyn was worth all of this fuss.

"Hey Pride! I got your new Greed right here," Senwyn's captor shouted.

A soft voice answered from across the clearing, from a dark figure seated beneath a tree. "She's not greedy Wrath. Look at her. She's filthy and malnourished. The girl's just desperate for something to sell. Get rid of her."

The man holding Senwyn shrugged and reached for the golden dirk at his belt.

"No!" Senwyn shouted, naturally eager to deny any opinion that might cause her to become very dead. "You're wrong. I am greedy. I'm so greedy I'm... I'm obsessed with stealing! I want all your gold and your horses, I want your nice warm fire and all your food and your clothes. I would have been able to steal them all too if I wasn--"

"So desperate?" The soft voice interrupted. Senwyn paled and glanced around for an escape route. The blonde woman popped the cork on another bottle. She crouched beside a grizzled veteran of a mercenary and wound an arm around his neck. He grabbed for the bottle and she playfully pulled it away. The figure beneath the tree leaned forward so moonlight fell across his face. Senwyn looked back at him. His features were dark and fine, his hair carefully trimmed, his jaw clean shaven. He looked like more of a nobleman than an outlaw. "What's your name?" He asked her.

"Greed," she answered firmly. She pulled her arm away from Wrath. He let her go. "So they call you Pride?"

"They do. They have familial privilege. You don't. But if you have it in mind to prove yourself..." He waved a hand as he leaned back into the darkness. "We ride for the city of Gamenze at first light."


Senwyn glanced back down the alley to where Envy kept watch for her across the street. The others were off on their own missions around the city. A window was ajar on the second story of the mansion she'd chosen to raid. Senwyn clambered up a stack of firewood and pulled herself through the gap. She entered a long hallway lined with closed doors that were probably bedrooms. Downstairs seemed like the safest place to start.

The girl edged along the hall, flitting through the squares of moonlight on the floor that fell through the window panes. There were portraits between the doors on the opposite wall. She stopped to look at one. It was a family arranged around a divan, three children seated on the cushions with a man and a woman that looked like parent figures standing behind them. A pointer lay on the rug with a litter of pups playing around her. Everyone in the painting was neat and beautiful and smiling, everything that Senwyn wasn't. The picture was too perfect, no family could be that perfect, but they looked like they belonged to each other. The perfect set.

Senwyn crept downstairs, wincing at every creak in the old timbers that wouldn't stop groaning over how heavy she was, despite how lightly she tread on them. She pulled out a sack when she reached the ground level and made straight for a chest of drawers in the hallway. Everything that looked at least semi-valuable, she threw inside: a clasped book with gilt pages, a delph figurine, gold rimmed spectacles, a pocket watch, a cigarette case, some silver coin-- She heard a creak upstairs and her heart backflipped into her throat. The girl pressed herself into the long shadow cast by the chest and waited. The house was quiet. She waited several seconds longer before glancing around for her next room. Her sack was only a quarter full. She couldn't leave yet.

There was a door ajar at the end of the hall that she hoped would lead to the kitchen. That's where all the food would be. She moved towards it but stopped when she smelled smoke. In the murky light she could just make out its movement as it oozed through the gap in the doorway like a ghost. Senwyn stood there, frozen with panic, as the outline of the door ahead was framed by an orange glow. A tongue of flame whooshed through, licking at the clean air of a hallway filled with the promise of flammable things – including her.

Senwyn backed towards the stairs then spun around as someone screamed above her. The upstairs hallway was glowing with the same hellish light. Raised voices tight with panic called from one room to the next and the thump of running feet shook the ceiling overhead. The thief turned back to the kitchen. The fire beckoned to her, daring her to approach. She ran towards it.


Envy was the last of the outlaws to join the others in the forest.

"Where's the girl?" Pride asked, strapping his new rapier belt around his waist.

Envy said nothing. He looked at Wrath.

Gluttony snorted from where she sat on her horse, raking a hand through her loose blonde curls. "Let me guess. Envy had his jealous ass bitch slapped into doing something stupid again."

Envy's mouth dropped open. He pointed at Wrath. "It's his fault. He was still angry with her for trying to steal his knife. I was just doing him a favor."

"By killing her?" Lust asked, lofting a bushy eyebrow.

"Nooo... I just... Set a little fire in the house she was looting. She seemed like a plucky sort of girl. I'm sure she's fine."

Pride rolled his eyes as bells started to sound from the city walls. The glow of fire kissed the sky above the battlements of Gamenze. "Come on," he said, swinging himself up into the saddle. "Let's go." The others were mounting to follow his lead when a small figure stumbled through the trees, half supported by Sloth, whose mouth was pinched as if she'd been sucking on a lemon.

"Found this poor creature limping through the trees," she said. "Trying to catch up to us before we left."

Pride looked down at Senwyn as Sloth lead her into the clearing. The girl's expression was a mirror image of his own, despite the fresh burns that marred her body. Pieces of her clothing that hadn't been scorched away were melted into her skin down her right arm and leg. She held a bulging sack in her left hand. "This is my loot." The girl dropped it onto the ground. Wheels of cheese, grapes, flatbreads and nets of dried meat rolled out onto the grass. "That's my horse." She pointed at the brown mare that she'd ridden to Gamenze earlier that day. "And there's a place for me in this family, so I'm taking it."

Pride matched Senwyn's stubborn frown with his own. They gazed at each other in silence.

"Sounds like you might want my place as well," Pride eventually said.

Senwyn paled, opened her mouth, then closed it again. She decided to say nothing. Pride smirked and turned his horse for the forest trail.

"I like you better when you're speechless. Come on. Let's find you a healer."
“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekhov

Offline Maxfield

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Re: [Aug 2014] - The Seven Deadly Sins - Submission Thread
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2014, 11:06:06 AM »
Spoiler for Hiden:
Written by James G Parkes - 1,488 words

The Zairn Maze


When the young warriors of Azarah come of age, they must travel to the mountain of Zairn. Those who survive the journey will enter the Zairn Maze, where they will face the trails of the Seven Deadly Sins. Those who make it out become an Azarah warrior. Only few return…sometimes no one does.   
                                                                             *
Kelon who had been displaying all the attributes of a leader at a very young age was the first to reach the Zairn Maze. A fine specimen of a man, his family bloodline was genetically designed to become warriors and being the first son of Guzte - General to the Azarah armies, it was his destiny to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Jelfa wasn’t’ far behind. He too was from a rich bloodline of great warriors and had trained with Kelon since they were children. He was bigger and stronger than his best friend, but had spent his life living in his shadows.

It had a taken a while for the other young warriors to reach the top: the twin sister Karnia and Celna were next closely followed by the Melkin, Uelan and Plaxton. Agusto arrived much latter.

“Are you the last Agusto?” asked Kelon, “where are Mayno and Yate?”

“They didn’t make it,” replied Agusto, panting heavily from the climb.

“I’m surprised you made it this far!” commented Jelfa, who always took pleasure from belittling him.

“Yet a fat lump as yourself made it Jelfa!” mocked Uelan who didn’t take kindly to his insults. She was from a similar non-warrior bloodline as Augusto.

“That’s enough!” said Kelon, “we have already lost twenty-two warriors on this journey. We must work together if we are to survive the trails of the Seven Deadly Sins. Karnia, Celna take point; Agusto, Uelan you take the rear. Arm yourselves and be prepared for anything,” instructed Kelon with authority to his tone.

Following his orders, Karnia and Celna slowly entered the Zairn Maze, with the others taking up a defensive formation behind. This is what they had been trained for since they were children, although no one was really ready to face the Seven Deadly Sins, as the Zairn Maze changed every year.

“Stay close,” Kelon instructed, as they entered the first room.

“Which way?” asked Agusto openly.

“There is only one way!” scorned Jelfa.

“No there’s not,” snapped Agusto.

“Hold on. How many doors can you see Agusto?” Kelon asked.

“Two. Can’t you see them?”

“I can only see one. Who else can see two doors?”

Uelan was the only warrior to raise her arm.

“There’s a surprise!” declared Jelfa arrogantly.

“No, it’s the maze. It’s already fooling us,” stated Kelon. “Keep moving.”

As they advanced Agusto and Uelan could see their second door turn into a spiked wall.

In the next room there was no debating the surroundings. The room was occupied by the undead, representing the sin of wrath – fallen past warriors seeking revenge.

“Diamond formation!” cried Kelon assertively.

Even though the undead attacked in numbers, the young warriors were able to deal with them comfortably. Head after head continued to hit the floor, but the undead kept on coming.

“We can’t keep this up forever!” urged Melkin.

“We need to move - this way!” bellowed Jelfa breaking free from the others.

“Stick together!” commanded Kelon, but it was too late, the undead quickly filled gap left by Jelfa, giving them the opportunity to separate the young Azarah warriors to different sides of the room from which new doors had suddenly appeared. Uelan and Augusto where shoved through one door and Jelfa, Melkin and Plaxton were made to go through another. The doors they tuned back to solid wall, leaving a single door for Kelon, Karnia and Celna.

“The maze has accomplished its goal,” remarked Kelon. “We move forward.”
                                                                              *
“What now?” Plaxton asked.

“We keep going,” answered Jelfa sharply.

“And the others?” queried Melkin.

“What about them? You’re with me!” replied Jelfa proudly.

“Let’s just get out of here,” expressed Plaxton stepping forward into a new room full of bush berries.

“Great!” announced Melkin, “I’m hungry!”

“Always thinking with your stomach,” stated Plaxton. “We don’t have time to eat.”

“Only a few, I’ll catch up.”

“There’s only a few anyway – let him eat.” said Jelfa.

“No there’s not – there’s thousands,” whispered Melkin happily to himself as Plaxton and Jelfa moved into the next room.
                                                                                 *
 
“Agusto look, gold!” pointed Uelan excitedly, before rushing towards the glimmering coins scattered across the room. “Quick, help me pick them up.”

“Ok, but only take enough to fill your pockets.”
Half listening Uelan began to stuff her pockets with coins, but was soon drawn to greater riches, glistening from a room stacked up with jewels and gold.

“We’re going to be filthy rich Agusto!” smiled Uelan.

“You have enough already Uelan.”

“My family’s poor Agusto. This will change all our lives forever. I don’t need to become a warrior now. Leave me then – it’s all mine!” snarled Uelan, clutching at her sword. 

Reluctantly Agusto left the woman who had stood by his side on many occasions, as he knew that once the sin of greed had taken hold, they were already lost to the maze. The desperate screams that followed soon after confirmed his judgements, as the room which Uelan had entered disappeared into a pit of jagged rocks.
                                                                                *
“Shouldn’t we wait for Melkin?” asked Plaxton.

“No, he can catch up,” replied Jelfa.

“I need to rest though.”

“We don’t have time to relax,” argued Jelfa. “Now get up.”

“I can’t be bothered. You go on. I’ll wait for Melkin,”

“Quiet now - stop talking,” ordered Jelfa, “can you hear that?”

“I can’t hear anything. I’m too tired to listen.”

“It’s the walls, they’re moving inwards. We need to move – quickly.”

“You’re imagining things. I’m resting, leave me be Jelfa.”

“You’re going to get crushed you fool. Now get up.”
Sluggishly Plaxton waved Jelfa on, “leave me, too lazy to talk anymore.”

The walls continued to close in around them giving Jelfa no alternative but to escape, leaving Plaxton to his own fate.
                                                                              *
 
Cautiously Agusto entered the room with the young Azarah warrior sitting on the floor. He recognised the man as Melkin, but the maze couldn’t be trusted. Melkin had already heard his footsteps approaching and slowly turned to face Augusto. Through a mouthful of stuffed flesh Melkin managed to say, “Berries - lots of berries.” It wasn’t until Melkin had completely turned round when Augusto saw what he was really eating – himself! Chucks of flesh ripped out by his own teeth. Agusto quickly moved on from the sin of gluttony.     
                                                                             *
They had been walking for over an hour when Kelon ordered Karnia and Celna to stop.

“Why are we stopping?” Karnia asked.

“It's time for you two to become female warriors now.”
The sisters didn't like Kelon's tone, it was out of character, and his intentions were clear. “Take your clothes off – now,” demanded Kelon certifying his intent.

“Hold your tongue, the sin of lust has taken you Kelon,” stated Celna.

“This isn’t lust – this is my right. Now do as you’re told.”

“Still giving out orders?” blasted Jelfa who had been following them for some time.

“Stay out of this. These are my women,” snapped Kelon aggressively.

“I don't take orders from you. I’ve always been the better warrior, not you.”

Speaking quietly, Celna pulled her sister away, “Come Karnia; let pride and lust fight it out.”

Driving forward Jelfa confidently lunged at Kelon, who was far too quick and had used his training to knock him to the ground.

“The women are mine,” continued Kelon as he looked to end his friend’s life, but was struck from behind before he could carry out his actions.

“And Jelfa is mine.”

“You’re still alive Agusto!” mocked Jelfa.

“Even with all your wealth and warrior bloodline, I'm still better than you. That's how.”

“You’ve always been jealous of me Agusto,” laughed Jelfa, “Why don't you try and take me then?”
Accepting his invitation, Augusto swiftly plunged his sword into him, but wasn't quick enough to pull free as Jelfa grabbed him by the throat.

“You ready to die Augusto?” chuckled Jelfa who was unaware of Kelon standing behind them both and was still squeezing down on Agusto's throat when his best friend speared his sword through his back and into Agusto.
Kelon beamed, “the women are mine.” But his celebration would be short lived as he hadn't noticed that the exits were closed and he was surrounded by the undead.
                                                                        *
“Keep going Karnia, “there's the exit,” Celna called to her sister.

“We’ve made it,” replied Karnia, whilst placing her hand on her sword.

“We’re now Azarah warriors,” confirmed Celna, who was already drawing her sword.

“But who's the better warrior?” queried Karnia as she turned to her sister.

“We already know – I am.”
Unleashing her sword Karnia yelled out, “No your not – I am…”
« Last Edit: September 01, 2014, 07:54:24 PM by xiagan »