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Fantasy Faction Writers => 2011 Contests => Archived Contests => Monthly Writing Contest => [Dec 2011] - Winter => Topic started by: Autumn2May on December 03, 2011, 06:19:31 AM

Title: December 2011 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!
Post by: Autumn2May on December 03, 2011, 06:19:31 AM
I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show. - Andrew Wyeth

(http://fantasy-faction.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/2011-DEC-Frost-spirithelpers.jpg)
Image by spirithelpers (http://www.etsy.com/listing/84297141/winter-crystals-fine-art-photograph-5x7)

It's December and winter is coming, spreading its icy fingers over the land.  It brings death to the greens of summer and sends chills to the very heart of man.  However, even at its darkest, winter has a beauty all its own.  And under the frosty white snow, is the promise of spring sleeping silently - waiting.  But to reap the bounties that spring will surely hold, one must first make it through the winter.  In fantasy, this is not always as easy as it seems.

December's challenge is to write a short story or scene set in the winter.

The rules are as follows:

1. Must be prose.
2. 1,500 - 2,000 words.
3. Must take place during the winter and include element of fantasy.
4. Please no A Song of Ice and Fire fanfic.  I know I used the quote, but I couldn't help myself. ;)

The contest is now closed!  And the winner is:

Geri

Congratulations to our winner!
Title: Re: December 2011 Writing Challenge
Post by: GZidar on December 05, 2011, 09:22:39 PM
He should be asleep.

Tucked away snugly, in warmth and comfort. Safe from the bitter chill of winter, and the cold, cruel world beyond his bed. Instead, he wandered the darkened halls of his family’s ancestral home, while outside the winter wind blew with the promise of more snow.

Tomas couldn't sleep. Something had woken him. And he knew that the only thing that could make things right again was a hug from his daddy.

Dressed in his woollen bedclothes, and a fur-lined cloak, the ten year-old boy was warm enough. But still he shivered as he picked his way through the house toward his father’s study. The familiar hallways were made eerie by the absence of servants, or house guards.

His father tried to explain why he had to let them all go. He assured Tomas that it was a temporary absence. Just for a little while, he’d said, only until his fortunes changed. But they’d been gone for a long time now.

Only old Geoffry, and his wife Janice, had stayed behind. They claimed that they had nowhere else to go, but everyone knew that wasn’t true. Geoffry had been in the service of the Arturan family since his father, Jonas, was a boy. It was no secret that his father loved the kindly, and loyal, old man.

Having left the bedchambers behind him, where his mother and sister slept peacefully behind him, Tomas had no more need for stealth. He ran, eager to reach his father’s warm embrace.

Soon he could see the firelight that flickered below the door to his father’s study. With a broad grin Tomas entered the warmly lit room. His father didn’t look up. Instead he remained slumped over the plans and papers that littered his desk.

“Father?”

No response.

Tomas pulled his cloak a little tighter about his small frame. He could feel the chill wind blow in through an open window.

“Father?” he said, louder this time.

As he stared at his father’s unmoving form, his heart hammered in his chest. He looked furtively about the room.

Certain that he was alone, he stepped forward quickly. With a firm hand he nudged his father. “Father! Please wake up! What’s wro –”

The words died in his throat when he saw the blood.

His father was dead.

Tomas raced to the door to call for the guards when he remembered that there were no guards to call.

It was up to him.

His father, Jonas Arturan, was dead, and Tomas, the new Lord Arturan, would now have to take action. Without a moment’s hesitation he grabbed his father’s rapier from its place above the fire. It was a magnificent weapon. Expertly made, the sky forged blade perfectly balanced. That sword had been in his family for generations. It belonged to his father’s father, and his father before him, and now, it belonged to him.

With a determined step he moved to the open window. Outside, he could see footprints that lead away from the house. Tomas grabbed the oil lamp from his father’s desk, and with the sword in hand, he leapt out the window to follow the trail. He didn’t have much time. Fresh snow might fall at any moment, and the trail would be lost forever.

The wind howled about him, whipping his cloak behind him. Thoughts of vengeance dominated his thoughts. He trudged through the ankle deep snow oblivious to the cold.

A mile from his home snow began to fall. It was a light dusting but he’d lived here long enough to know that could change. He had to hurry. It would not be long now before the trail was gone. He glanced behind him. He could no longer see the faint light from his house.  and he realised how far he had come.

I’ve come so far, he thought, I should turn back.

Tomas stopped, and turned around.

Craven!

The word came unbidden to his mind. It was the name his sister had given him. Tomas knew he wasn’t a brave boy and his sister teased him mercilessly. She often called him Craven. Perhaps more than she did Tomas.

Tess is right, I am Craven. I shouldn’t be here.

He took his first step back toward the safety and warmth of his home. His courage had left him, and the bitter cold became biting. There was a sudden gust of wind that threatened to knock him over. He closed his eyes against the swirling snow.

I’m never going to make it home.

He started to cry. His father was dead. He was alone, in the dark. He was going to die out here. The snow continued to fall, and his tears turned to ice on his face. There was another gust of wind, stronger than the last. He was buffeted forward, and he stumbled slightly. He rubbed his eyes and took a deep sobbing breath. A familiar smell struck him.

Smoke. There was a fire nearby.

Tomas turned away from the house and scanned the area. There it was. A faint pinprick of light only a hundred paces away.

If I’m going to die, I might as well die a man. He swallowed his fear and headed to that source of light.  

He moved much more slowly now. The cold penetrated his bones and leached his strength, but still he carried on. Soon he could see the campfire clearly. Through the falling snow he was able to make out a solitary figure huddled close to the fire. He shivered, suddenly aware of just how cold he was.

This was the person who had killed father.

Tomas forced himself to keep moving. He could feel the anger build within him, and took strength from the rage.

He was close now.

The man looked up as Tomas entered the circle of firelight. As soon as the warm glow enveloped him, the young boy started to feel better. He raised his father’s sword, his sword now, and held the point of the blade toward his enemy as he had been taught.

"What are you planning to do with that, boy?" the man said calmly.

"You murdered my father," Tomas said through chattering teeth.

The assassin's lips curled in a slight smile. "You must be Jonas’ son Tomas. I am pleased to make your acquaintance, My Lord.” There wasn’t a hint of condescension in his tone.

"I am here to avenge my father’s death. Do you deny involvement in the crime?"

The cowled man nodded, and then rose to his feet. "I may have wielded the knife, lad. But I am not responsible for your father’s death."

"Then tell me who is and I will deal with them after I am finished with you."

The man laughed. "I like you lad. You’re not at all the craven child I have heard tell of.” He caught Tomas’ gaze. “But, I hope you think carefully about what you do next."

Tomas said nothing. His arm was beginning to tire. The tip of the blade was shaking uncontrollably. He realised there was very good chance he would die here. If not at this man’s hand, then from the cold.

What am I doing here?

He'd failed everyone. Failed his father, failed his mother, and his sister. That realization sapped the last of his resolve. Tomas dropped the sword as he collapsed to the ground with tears once more flowing from his young face.

The assassin stepped forward, and scooped the boy up in his arms. He carried him closer to the fire. With deft movements he opened Tomas’ cloak to allow the heat to reach his frozen body, then rubbed his arms and legs. After he was sure the initial danger had passed the man wrapped Tomas warmly in a blanket. He rummaged around his pack and produced a strip of cured meat that he offered to the boy.

"You must really love your father," the assassin said.

Tomas accepted the food. "He was a good man. He took care of us all, and never raised a hand to me when I didn't deserve it."

“I never knew my father,” the man said. He took a bite from his own piece of meat, and chewed in thoughtful silence for a long while. "You did a brave thing tonight, boy. It was a stupid thing, no question. But no less brave because of it. The way I hear it, your father was a good man. He deserves to be avenged.”

“What do you mean?”

“I will kill the man responsible for you. The one who ordered your father’s death will die by my hand.”

“Why would you do such a thing?”

“Because you have something I want.”

Tomas glanced at his father’s sword. It was the only thing of any worth still left to his family. The assassin noticed this and laughed once again.

“No. Not the blade, boy.”

“Then what?”

“You, lad.” He looked Tomas in the eye. “I want your life.”

Tomas held the assassins gaze. His life in exchange for the death of the man behind his father’s death? It seemed a fair exchange. “You’ll be sure the bastard knows why he is dying?”

The man nodded.

“I accept,” Tomas said. He opened his shirt and offered the man his chest. “I ask only that you make it quick.”

The assassin erupted in laughter. “You’ve got stones, boy. I’ll give you that. You mistake my meaning. I don’t want to kill you. I want you to come with me. I will take you under my wing. Train you. I can introduce you to a life that few people ever experience.”

Tomas remained silent.

“There is one condition,” the man said, his face devoid of emotion, his gaze, piercing. He placed a hand on each of Tomas’ shoulders. “Listen carefully. I will require insurance against your commitment to this new life I give you.”

His blood suddenly ran cold. “What do you want?”

“The life of your mother and sister belong to me, until the day that you complete your training. Should you seek to escape me or the future I offer you they will both be killed. Do you understand me?”

Tomas nodded. “I will not betray your trust.”

The assassin stared into the young boy’s eyes. His gaze bored deep, and Tomas felt as though he were looking into his very soul. After a long moment the assassin released him. His right hand extended to seal the deal.

“Well, Tomas, welcome to The Family. Your new life awaits you.”

Tomas took his hand and shook it. “Tomas Arturan dies tonight. A new life needs a new name. From now, call me Craven.”
Title: Re: December 2011 Writing Challenge
Post by: Gothos on December 09, 2011, 01:28:56 PM
Northwind’s Grasp
By Sean Patrick Giblin

Yalsef gutted and stripped the silver pike. His catch of the day so far. After ramming a steel spike through the last fish and hanging them above the fire Yalsef began cutting at a block of green cheese while his eyes moved among the darkened shadows of the wood. The sky was clear; the two moons of Silence and the Crooked Watcher shone brightly this night. The former shinning a wild azure while the latter burned witch fire green all across the night sky.

A bitter chill wind had descended from the north. Winters breath now worked its way into every creature of flesh and bone. The lakes and rivers were slowly freezing over. The dead leaves of the Wards Wood crunched and shattered under foot and predators from the mountains such as snow wolves and winter trolls now prowled the lower lands without a hint of trepidation.

This night marked the coming of Northwind’s Grasp. Yalsef having been raised in the shadow of the Black mountain was accustomed to the cold icy hands of the north winds and the slow unending descent of falling snow. He sat before his large pyre and stared into the flames. Wrapped in furs stripped from the hide of a tundra mammoth he sat in silence listening to the whispered words upon the wind.

“Yalsef,” a small voice announced at the edge of the fires glare. From beneath the shadow of the wood stepped his sister, Lash. He hid his surprise behind a grunt.

“Lash,” he said his gaze wandering back to the fire, “what are you doing here?”

“Looking for you of course. You’ve been gone for days. The people in Harbeck have been worried about you. Winter has come and they need the catch. You are their hunter are you not?”

Yalsef did not answer. He just kept his baleful glare upon the pyre before him. Lash stared into the flames and sat down on the opposite side of the roaring fire. She took one of the spikes that hung above the flames; the fish had been burned to a crisp. Grimacing she took a bite and after a few slow jaw rotations and a scowl she nodded to herself and took another bite.

“What do you want Lash?” Yalsef said, his voice low and angered.

“Can’t a sister look after her brother when he is in need of it?”

“Not when Screamers and Night Terrors roam the lands. Not when only two nights passed, the entire cabal of mages at Cowl’s Keep were viciously slaughtered. Not when Northwind’s Grasp grips the land in a deathly hand that freezes the ground so solidly that even the dead cannot rise from their crypts.”

Yalsef head whipped up his gaze set upon his sister in a dead lock. Lash stared at him with cold hard eyes of deep green that reflected so much of his own. Yalsef’s eyes watched her closely and Lash slowly placed the spike onto the snow crusted ground beside her feet. The wind howled and whipped the churning flames into a frenzy as a gust picked up the dead leaves and swirled them about the pyre. Clouds moved in from the north blocking the azure light from Silences moon and leaving the world cast in only the Crooked Watcher’s witch fire glare.

“And not,” Yalsef said dropping the block of green cheese, his hand grasping for his sword’s scabbard at his feet, “when my sister’s corpse lies burning upon her funeral pyre. No, she can’t.”

The creature in the form of Yalsef’s sister turned its gaze to the blackened heap that dwelt within the heart of the flames. A dark shape that smoked within the embers. The creature smiled and its eyes changed. A green smoke emanated from them as its human skin began to melt replaced by a lifeless grey.

“Clever little Mage,” the thing said, its voice had now changed from that of a young girl to that of rusted hinges upon an old cellar door.

Yalsef stood and unsheathed his blade, his long dark hair caught in a trapped wind flailing about his shoulders. He threw off his fur cloak and embraced the chill air. Beneath he wore his hunter’s leathers.

“What are you,” he asked calmly pulling his sword free and tossing his scabbard aside.

The creature had now fully shed its mimicked form. Green fire blazed from small sockets set in a skull that was wreathed in long white hair. Its body was covered in rags and its arms extended out before it in two bone-like claws that were twice the length of a human’s.

“Oh you know me Yalsef. I am that bane among your kind. The shiver that runs down your spine at the edge of darkness. That soundless howl that awoke you from pleasant dreams. I am a Witch Hunter of Nalfex.”

Yalsef’s breath caught. He now felt the ice that had been racing through his veins begin to freeze. His arms were locked in place and trembled. His worst fears had just been confirmed. His free hand popped as his knuckles tightened and the leather of his sword grip cracked in his grasp.

“You were at Cowl Keep,” he asked rhetorically heat returning to his body with each beat of his racing heart.

“I was,” the creature said smugly, “though you were not. It took me some time to track you down. The illusive exile, how pitiful you have become. Hardly worthy of my time.”

Yalsef grinned, “How was the fish?” he asked smiling broadly.

“The - ”

The creature paused and stretched a long limbed claw forward. Nothing happed. Yalsef leapt forward and brought up his sword in two hands and with a whispered breath of magic upon his lips he struck the creature severing its arm from the shoulder. The Witch Hunter howled in pain.
“What have you done!” the creature screeched.

“I arrived at Cowl Keep the day before to collect my sister’s body,” Yalsef said, calmly spinning on his heel and turning about to face the Witch Hunter. “But when I discovered the destruction I vowed to have my vengeance against those responsible.”

With its one remaining arm the creature lunged forward and scythed the air close to Yalsef’s face. Yalsef pulled back and dodged the blow with ease.

“What have you done to me,” the creature screamed again in frustration attempting to summon a blast of energy.

“After studying the remains of the keep,” Yalsef continued, slowly circling the creature his blade held before him, “and speaking a few words with the seeker’s souls that harbour the Grotesques at the keeps west gate. I discovered that it had indeed been an assassination by Witch Hunter’s. Although I had hoped it would not be those of Nalfex who had its hands in Imperial affairs.”

The Witch Hunter pulled a vial from its pouch that was secured to a leather belt that held its torn and frayed rags about its thin angular body. With a hiss the creature released the vile upon the chill wind. The air frosted over as snake-like icicles darted toward him. Yalsef used his blade to deflect two of the ice essences but when the third struck his blade it shattered like glass.

The Witch Hunter smirked with contempt and then threw his arm forward, the four remaining ice essences slashed through the air toward Yalsef at the Witch Hunters command. He had not considered the possibility that the creature would be carrying containment spells upon its person. There was only one thing he could do.
Running at the essences he reached out and gripped one in his hands quickly pulling his arm back as frost began to form up its length and released the frozen spirit at the Witch Hunter. The Hunter struck the essence from the air with a slight jolt of power. The drug that Yalsef had planted upon the silver pike was slowly wearing off. Slithers of power were returning to the Witch Hunter. Yalsef turned and began to run toward the flames.

The three remaining ice essences darted at him from all angles, one touching his back, another catching his shoulder and the third attached its self to his right thigh. Within moments his body would be a frozen husk. Yalsef hurled himself threw the pyre with a wordless cry. He rolled out the other end, his clothes streaming smoke.
The ice essences were gone consumed by the heat of the flames. His right arm was still frozen and had turned blue like a corpse’s limb. His hair was singed and where the essences had touched him his skin now blistered with icy fire. His clothes smouldered and he felt his burnt skin pulling tight across his entire body. Turning he found the Witch Hunter rushing forward. Its power almost fully regained.

The created now spat unintelligible words at a pace so fast that he almost heard the words before they were on its fleshless lips. Yet Yalsef was not finished, not by a long shot. He made a summoning and the Witch Hunter froze in mid swing of its long claw-like arm. He noted that the flowing blood had been staunched at the creatures severed limb.

Like a puppet the Witch Hunter now hung a few inches off the frozen ground.

“What have you done this time Mage,” the creature spat with its sharp needle-thin teeth barred.

“There was something else upon that fish,” Yalsef said with a tight grin. “For you see, the pyre I made was a spell that was to see my sister’s soul to the next world beyond this and in its flame lingered her spirit.”

Comprehension then dawned on the Witch Hunter.

“Get it over with,” the creature hissed. “But know this. You may have defeated me little mage. But should you seek retribution upon my brethren you will bring a curse upon this land greater than any withered old god of winter can sanction. And you will suffer death unending.”

Yalsef stepped forward and retrieved the hilt of his sword. There was still a jagged stub of blade jutting out from the guard. It took all the strength he had just to hold the sword hilt steady.
 
“So be it,” he said and then with one quick slash he emptied the creature’s throat of its thick black blood. The emerald fire dimmed within the small sockets and then faded with a sizzle.

The Witch Hunter’s corpse slumped to the ground amid lumps of ice and frozen leaves. Yalsef, his body trembling with pain and his right arm hanging limply at his side and slowly blackening soon to wither and turn to ash kept his gaze upon were the Witch Hunter had been hanging.

With a whisper he snuffed out the flames of the pyre and plunged the camp into darkness lit only by the witch fire glow of the Crooked Watcher’s moon.

“Thank you,” he said. In the ghostly light of the moon hovered his sister’s spectre. She regarded him with hollow sockets and then faded on a soft breeze. Yalsef slumped to his knees. Snow fell heavily all around him covering his back. He did not move as he listened for the whispers that now crowded the howling wind. Their vengeance was yet to be sated.
Title: Re: December 2011 Writing Challenge
Post by: zeropysche on December 11, 2011, 02:23:43 AM
   “Your so lucky Nissa.” Seath said with a smile.  “Your  father can afford to keep the heat on all the time. How does that feel.” He looked next to the girl next to him. Nissa was a bit shorter then him but only by an inch or two. It made it easy for him to walk side by side with his girlfriend. Her black hair was covering her face like it usually did but Seath knew her well enough to know she was frowning. It had been awhile since they had spent any real time together but they had managed to finally find the time to do so.  They chose to spend their short afternoon together walking along the lake front. It was nice, if a bit inconvenient especially in the middle of an especially cold winter. In all honesty Seath would have preferred to stay inside and enjoy the simple company of his girlfriend but Nissa had had different ideas.
A gust of wind barreled from the lakefront. The wards around Nivia kept the city from completely freezing over but outside of the boundary the winter was bitter and deadly. The cold cut through Seath meager coat. It was an old thing found in the garbage but had been better then nothing. Than again it was basically nothing with all the holes and rips. The rest of his clothes was similarly torn up. Nissa on the other hand didn’t even seem to notice the cold. her jacket was brand new a winter present from her father. Without saying a word she leaned into him as they continued to walk. She held his hand tightly.
   “Are you warmer now?” she whispered into his ear. “What happened to that coat you were gonna buy. You told me you were gonna get it soon.”
    “Yea, turns out that the orphanage needed a new heater. It took just about everything i had saved to replace it.” He put his free hand to his chin. “I haven’t had a full meal since last week.”
Nissa looked shocked. While Seath wasn’t an orphan he had seprated himself from his father and lived there since he was 11. Since then he had devoted his life to helping out the children who lived there. But still he was sacrfificing almost everything at this piont. She hadn’t even been able to see him for a week he had been so busy.  “Why didn’t you say anything?” Her green golden eyes looked watery from the side. “I would have paid for some of your meals you know that. Or convince my dad to get the heater replaced. I don’t get why you insist on having to do everything yourself.”She removed herself from Seath and started to take off her jacket.
They stopped walking. Seath sighed. “ Stop that Nissa. You’ll get sick.” She didn’t
“Yea and what about you, huh. You care about everyone else but you never think about yourself. It makes me sick, I mean look at you. You’ve been losing weight and you’ve had a cough for almost two months now.I don’t want you to die just because you’re to proud to ask for help.” Nissa was out and out crying now. 
 Seath tried to get close to her but she pushed him back. “Okay fine. What do you want me to do.” It had started to snow and was getting colder. Nissa just stared at him her face red and tears streaking down her cheeks. She had worn a black turtle neck and didn't seem to be cold yet.
“Fine Nissa. I promise I’ll do what you ask me to. I’ll let you help me pay for food or whatever. Just put own your coat please.”
Nissa relaxed. “Fine!” She sniffled. Her eyes were still red from crying. “Marry me.” Seath couldn’t say anything. “Say you’ll marry me right here and now or I’ll leave. It’s your choice. I can’t be second to the orphange our whole lifes. I deserve more then that.” She stood there quiet.  In that single instance everything seemed to crystallize for Seath.
“Of course I will Nissa. That’s never even been a question in my mind” He kissed her and she finally didn’t push away. They stood there for awhile not caring about anything but each other. Nissa started to shiver and Seath helped put her coat on. Neither wanted to speak and break the moment knowing that it would come to an end soon enough.
Finally they pulled apart now unsure of what to say and a little embrassed.  This was new ground they were breaking. Did couples who were technical enagaged talk about the same things?
“Um.” Nissa started pushing back a bang. “Maybe we should-” Whatever she was about to say was cut off by a sudden screeching. It sounded as if glass was breaking. Terror froze both of their bodies more than the cold ever could. They both recognized the sound, one of the most dangerous things that lived in the forest around their home city, Nivia. An Ice golem. A left over weapon from before the Wasting, it targeted anything that moved. Ice golems in particular could only appear when it was a certain temperature. It stood at ten feet tall and was made of an ice like substance stronger than any natural ice The wards normally kept the beasts outside though they did fail from time to time. Nivia had special fire mages who were trained to take on the monsters during these rare occasions.  but even they had a difficult time.
Seath sprung into motion first. He grabbed Nissa’s arm and pulled her away from the thing. Ice golems were strong but slow. With a little luck he would be able to avoid having to fight the thing. Avoid the fight. The thought whispered through his head. Why. Another whisper. He found his hands moving of their own accord as a way to destroy the abomination in front of him appeared. he smiled faintly. It could work. He pushed Nissa in front of him and turned to face the ice golem. His right hand reached for his belt with  practiced speed. “Keep running!” He yelled to Nissa. He pulled a flare from his belt. In truth he had enough money to get a new heater and the coat. But then he would’ve been in the same situation again. So he had used his leftover silver and gold to buy some spells.
Working for the gold and a normal side job was a lot. But the training from them had been invaluable and the increased income had even enabled him to purchase three spells. The first of these was the rune flare. The flare ignited easily into a white color. Seath made sure to point the head away from himself. Even so the fire was almost painfully hot. “White Flames of Lyssa.” He said out loud. Normally he wouldn’t say the spells name out loud but it had spilled out before he thought better. As the golem moved closer It’s outer layer of ice began to melt. Exposing some of the runes that drove it. The golem had no mouth but shrieked all the same.  It Swung at Seath with an unnatural speed.
Only the recent training he had done at the guild kept him alive. He managed to stumble back from the blow but dropped the rune flare in the process. As the flare hit the snow on the ground it evaporated, turning into hot steam.
“Ahh.” Seath cried out as his skin blistered. He continued to stumble back trying to ignore the pain. He tried to focus on his wrist where his second spell lay. His vision grayed and everything that had seemed important faded into the background. Golem soul. It was one of the simplest spells in existence but simply learning it had cost Seath terribly. The spell had been bound to his own life. It was his strongest spell for that reason. Another golem arm shot at Seath. He raised his arms to defend with no thought of what would happen.  BY now all the ice had melted from the golem and all that was left was a metal skeleton.
Runes covered both the golem’s and Seath’s body. Through the steam Nissa could only tell who was who through the size of the two shadows. She put her hands to her breast. She hadn’t known Seath had joined the Cursebreakers and seeing him use Nivian magic broke her heart.
“Spell bound to soul, forever entwined. Oh Seath, what made you sacrifice your purity.”  She took off her gloves. On her left hand lay a brand. Fae Fire. A spell that had been in her family since before the Wasting. If only Seath hadn’t pushed her away without thinking. The spell had been designed to purify dark magic. It would have shut off the golem without any trouble. But now. Now Seath would be caught in the cross fire. The brand shimmered purple as Nissa focused her will onto it. “I’m sorry my love. She whispered. Fire erupted in her palm. It gave o no heat and was a purplish color. She threw it at the two fighting without hesitation. The Fae Fire’s effect was almost instantaneous. The runes evaporated from the Ice golem first. Good Nissa thought. Seath would be safe. The runes evaporated from him next and he collapsed into the mud. The snow around them had melted with the rune flare. She turned towards the city. Already guards were coming. She sank to the ground herself. They were safe.
*****************************
Seath woke up staring at a ceiling.  He tried to prop himslef up once before a pain shot through him and he stopped.
“Don't move.” He heard Nissa’s voice from the side. “Not even your head. Golem soul makes it so you don’t feel pain and don’t get hurt but some attacks are too much for even it to prevent.The ice golem ended up breaking your ribs and your left fore arm.”
“What happened?” He mumbled even his jaw hurt. His mentor had told him golem soul would be painful to use but he hadn’t expected it to hurt this much.Nissa leaned over Seath’s body to look into his eyes. Her own were red. She had been crying again. She kissed him and he was acutely aware of her body on his own
“Between the rune flare and my Fae Fire we stopped the golem without getting to hurt but we were lucky. Very lucky. Do you understand me.” He did she was lecturing to him not to do it again.”your ratty jacket got torn up. But we’re both alive which is all that really matters.Oh and we’ll be getting married by the end of the year.” She finally smiled. “Unless you’re having second thoughts.”
Seath smiled back. It was going to be an enjoyable winter. “None. None Whatsoever.”
Title: Re: December 2011 Writing Challenge
Post by: LeifGSNotae on December 11, 2011, 10:30:08 PM
The Cure
by Leif G.S. Notae

The two figures raced through the darkness, avoiding the low hanging pine branches as they kicked up snow and dirt from their footfalls. Each figure had steam pouring from their mouths and sweat dripping from their brows. As they came to a small clearing in the woods, they stopped. The woman bent over and grabbed her knee with her right hand as she cradled a cloth bundle in her left. The man frantically twisted his body as he looked through the abyssal night to see which direction they needed to go next. After a moment of searching, he walked over to the woman and placed a hand on her back. “Come on, we need to keep going. We can’t let the people in our village down.”

The woman looked up at him and shook her head, ready to fall to her knees in exhaustion. “I can’t go on, Richt. I am so tired. We have run for far too long, and I don’t think I can make it.”

“You don’t have a choice, Angi. The Baron’s soldiers are coming for us. If they catch us before we can cross the river, we are done for.”

Angi shook her head as she looked at Richt with her pale blue eyes. Strands of her short blonde hair dangled in front of them, making her appear mad with pain and grief. “Don’t remind me about the village. They are doomed without this cure; I know they are counting on us to come home. I don’t believe the baron’s soldiers can find us in this darkness. We should take to the trees and find a place to rest.”

Richt grabbed Angi by the arm and forced her to stand straight. He turned the direction he thought they needed to go as his voice was a harsh, frustrated whisper. “You don’t understand how the baron’s soldiers work, do you? They know where we are, it will be easy for them to find us in the trees. They never rest; they are always searching. After everything we have been though, we can’t let them take this away from us. We will be safe if we can make it to the river first.”

Angi squirmed in Richt's grasp as she struggled to pull away from him. “Let me go; you are hurting me.”

“It is far better I hurt you than the Baron or his soldiers. Come on, we need to go.”

Angi offered a resigned nod and took a step toward the woods. A moment later, the clearing was flooded with a bright light from above them. Richt cursed and pushed Agi toward the tree line as he pulled his chipped great sword form its massive sheath. Angi covered her eyes and looked toward the heavens where the light came from, but she couldn’t see what created the light. Richt glanced over his shoulder and hissed at her as he spun the great sword in his right hand. “Get out of here.”

“No, I can’t go on without you!”

“I am going to hold them off as long as I can. If you make it to the village, tell them what happened. Let them know what we discovered about the Baron and his men. If the cure can save one life, I will gladly exchange mine. Go!”

Angi fought back tears as she turned and raced through the clearing and into the trees. She could hear the sound of metal clashing on metal as the light disappeared around her. Her eyes struggled to adjust to the darkness as she missed large branches dangling in front of her. The small nettles cut into her cheeks. She yelped as she felt the blood welling from the wounds, but she ignored the stinging pain and kept running as hard as she could.

She weaved through the trees as her eyes started to see large blobs that stood out in the darkness. She stopped by a tree and caught her breath as she looked behind her. She saw a shaft of light shoot out from the heavens. She held her breath and pressed her body against the pine tree. Her heart pounded in her chest. The light swept across the forest before it flew away from her. She released her breath and wiped her brow. She pressed the package against her body to reassure herself she was doing the correct thing.

She continued to run through the forest. Her eyes saw the outline of a fallen tree. She thanks the gods that she could see something and hopped over the dead tree. As she landed on the other side, she didn’t notice the small natural trench behind it. She fell into the hole and screamed as she twisted her ankle. She still kept the swaddled bundle close to her as she felt her wounded leg with her right hand. The swelling forced her ankle to grow to the size of her fist. She started to weep in frustration as she tried to stand on her damaged leg. She moved the cloth away and checked the condition of the prize in her hands.

She hobbled as fast as she could through the forest, the twinges of pain rippling through her and battering her core. Every step on the damaged leg caused her to hiss and take in a sharp breath of chilled air. She stopped near a tree and placed her right hand against the trunk as she heaved. She looked at her dirty furs and swore at her luck. She pushed away from the tree and continued to move with her swollen leg. After the third heaving, she started to drag the leg along behind her. She could see the tree line thinning and heard the sluggish flow of the nearly frozen river in the distance.

She pushed herself harder, chewing her lip deep enough to cause blood to well in her mouth. She spat the gore out as she pushed the pain out of her mind and continued to move. She made it past the last tree and noticed the small wooden bridge over the river. She kept moving, dragging the leg behind her. Her body was numb and her leg seemed as though it was dead, but she kept the village in mind as she continued to push harder.

She made it to the bridge and hopped up the small steps with her good leg. The wood groaned under her jostling and she felt her foot start to slide due to the thin layer of ice on the surface. When she made it to the top, she landed on a thick patch of ice and her leg gave way, causing her to crumble to the bridge in a heap. She broke out into sobs as she dragged her body along with her good arm. She felt the cold wood under her body and started to shiver from the exposure as the water bled through the furs. The frozen wood yielded splinters as she dug her fingers in the cracks, but she stayed focused on the village across the way. She could see the outline in the star clad sky and used it to motivate her to keep moving.

Her eyes started to water, and her body shook from exposure. She turned her head around to see the lights in the heavens moving along the treetops, shining a bright shaft of light through the canopy. She smiled, turned her head and continued to drag herself along the bridge. She reached the steps down and stopped, letting her hand dangle from the edge. She lifted her head and noticed the village glowing. She brought her right arm to her eyes and wiped away the freezing liquid from her face. She blinked as the details started to come into focus.

The village was burning.

She could hear the wood crackling and smell the smoke wafting in the air. She saw the black cloud hanging over the village and heard some people screaming in terror in the distance. She lifted her right hand and reached out as if she could cradle the village in her hands and smother the fire. Her breath became short as her lungs rattled with liquid. Her body twitched before she fell still. A small spout of steam escaped her blue lips, and her eyes started to flutter.

The last thing she heard was metallic footsteps crossing the bridge behind her. She heard some clicking and whirring before she felt hands grabbing her. She was lifted from the bridge and felt the bundled cloth removed from her arm. Her body fell to the bridge once more, and she heard someone speaking as though they had a metal cup over their mouths. “RETRIEVAL OF MISSING E21 VIRUS STRAIN IS SECURED. VILLAGE WAS QUARANTINED AND ELIMINATED TO PREVENT FURTHER CONTAMINATION. THIEVES ARE SUBDUED AND TERMINATED. BRING EXPUNGING SQUAD TO BURY REMAINS.”

She heard a tiny explosion from behind her. The last thing she felt was a sharp pain in the back of her head.
Title: Re: December 2011 Writing Challenge
Post by: Peter Newman on December 12, 2011, 10:05:33 PM
A Royal Winter
By Peter Newman

Their voices drifted up through the night air, harsh like a pack of dogs. Yvette stepped over to the glittering arch and rested her hand on the cool stone. She took comfort from its solidity whilst she surveyed the battlements.

She counted sixteen of them, each with a lantern that flickered haphazardly. The rest had fled the storm or succumbed to its power but these men fought on, determined to batter their way to the tower, against the blizzard, against her wishes. They still brought forth her husband’s banner. In the starlight the crowned fist had blended into the fabric of the standard, so it appeared more like a moth’s wing than the royal flag.

Booted feet slipped clumsily on the icy stone and the knights often fell. Each curse was accompanied by a soft puff of air, which Yvette found quite beautiful. She much preferred to attend to the tiny clouds than the foul words that birthed them.

One of the knights paused for breath, a crooked silhouette of ugliness hunched over the wall. His fellows called him on, their shouts hoarse and ragged next to the majestic song of the wind. The knight tried to straighten but could not. Curious, Yvette leaned out further, whilst the snowflakes tickled her nose playfully.

With a roar the knight stood but the triumph was only transitory. His fingers remained stuck to the wall, a neat row of sausages. With a girlish shriek, the man staggered and tumbled from the battlements. The other knights turned away in horror.

“That’s enough now, my love.” Yvette admonished. Leaving the window, she walked lightly to the empty throne and waited for her self-proclaimed rescuers to arrive.

Within the hour they had smashed through the ice curtain that covered the entrance, shattering its spidery lines, and poured clanking into the throne room. Yvette knew them all by sight. Her three brother’s in law, a selection of the royal guard’s finest and their squire’s. They squinted in the darkness, edging closer until the lantern’s light spilled over her furred cloak.

“Your majesty!” exclaimed Bartholomew, eldest of the brothers. He forced his stiff joints to bow. “Thank the grove we found you alive. When the storm hit we feared the worst.”

Yvette’s feet swung playfully, her young legs unable to reach the floor when sat on the grand chair. “You did not need to come all this way, just for me.”

“With respect, we did not come solely for you.” Bartholomew replied curtly, cheeks pale beneath his beard. “Where is the king?”

She sighed. “You had best come with me gentleman.”

Like lambs they followed her, not comprehending. The thin carpet of snow kissed her bare toes as she led them to the royal bedchamber. “He’s in there.”

They filed past her, crunching footsteps stopped abruptly by the sight of their monarch. Yvette waited for the shock to pass. She traced words on the sparkling walls with a teasing finger, while inside the room, men verbalised their outrage.

“How did this happen?” They asked, one after another, overlapping like a poorly trained choir.

Yvette returned to their side, taking in her husband once more. He stood exactly as he had when they’d last spoken, one hand on his belt buckle, the other reaching out. His hungry hands were as blue now as his eyes and he remained eerily still, the only one besides Yvette herself not shaking with the cold.

“You could say he brought it on himself.”

They stared at her, dumbstruck.

She sighed again. “Perhaps I am being a little obscure. It would be more honest to say that I made this happen.”

“You?” said the middle brother, Wilfred, as his moustache quivered with rage, “You did this to our brother the king?”

Bartholomew held up a hand. The others stopped and gave him their attention. “Is he dead?”

“He is.” She confirmed. “The storm killed him.”

The brothers exchanged a cunning look. Yvette could see something secret had passed invisibly between them.

“Then as eldest, I claim myself as King.”

“Long live King Bartholomew!” cried the men although she saw Wilfred lacked the passion of his fellows.

“And what of her?” asked Gregor, the youngest brother. “It appears the marriage was not consummated.”

The triumvirate eyed her lustily and then fell to quiet debate. Yvette backed away a pace as the brother’s debated her worth; each offered the other compensations until an agreement was reached. That Bartholomew would win was never in doubt, it was just a question of how much he would pay to have her.

“Then it is with great pleasure that I claim Yvette of the Riverways as my new queen.” He stepped towards her and grabbed her upper arm. Snow blew angrily between the flapping curtains.

She stared up at his hairy face, disgusted by his rough hands and fat neck. The bristles on his beard cracked as Bartholomew leered down at her. “Unhand me at once!” She demanded.

“It seems this one needs breaking in!” He pulled her close and attempted a rough kiss as the men cheered loutishly. However his advance halted early. Some three inches from her lips, Bartholomew gagged as frost formed a handprint across his throat. The big man wobbled backward, his hands flailed impotently. Before their eyes the frost fingers encircled his neck and continued to spread. They curled over his jawline, leaving whitened cheeks in their wake as they sought out his eyes. Moments later, he was as still as her husband.

Wilfred was the first to recover. “Yvette is a witch! We must put her to the torch!”

Above him, the icicles that hung long and low from the ceiling began to quiver. He ran forward, whirling the lantern over his head. Three of the knights moved up in support of the now eldest prince, their steel screeched as they pulled it free of cold stiffened scabbards. As if in answer the icy lances rained eagerly upon the men below.  Each was nailed by skull or by thigh to the floor, their blood frozen before it had time to spurt. Wilfred’s lantern clattered to the floor and went out.

“Argh!” screamed Gregor, the unexpected heir apparent. Needing no further clarification, the knights fled, chased out of the chamber by a swirl of waspish ice fragments.

Yvette fell back on the bed, relieved it was over. Her contemplation was brief however, disturbed by the sound of chattering teeth. Puzzled, she sat up. As her eyes adjusted to the dark once more she noticed that one of the men had remained behind, knelt silently by the door.

“Who is that?” she asked.

“C-Connel, your majesty.”

It had a familiar ring to it. Yvette ran through all of the names she had been forced to learn since her arrival at the palace. He was no nobleman; that was evident. He sounded young, one of the new knights perhaps? Then it came to her. “Ah, the smith’s son. You presented me with my circlet did you not?”

He nodded. She would probably have missed the gesture had it not punctuated his still rattling jaw. A memory of their meeting returned: young features had hidden behind an impressive beard. He did not possess the tallest frame but was solid and well-muscled. She remembered liking his arms.

“You’re braver than your elders, boy.” In years he was around her age but Yvette was a woman now. “I’ll reward you with a story, if you like.” She’d decided she wanted to tell somebody and took his silence for enthusiasm.  “When they told me I was to be King Galvor’s third wife, I cried. For three days I cried without stopping. It didn’t make any difference. In the end they said that if I didn’t stop they’d all be punished and their blood would be on my hands. I stopped crying then, until my wedding day that is. King Galvor was just like the tales said, only with fouler breath. The bards sang that mine were tears of joy but that was just a palatable way to disguise the truth.

“My father gave the oaths on my behalf and then they carried me up to this room and barred the doors. While Galvor and his brothers drank and feasted, I sat at the window ledge, sobbing and trying to work up the courage to throw myself off.

“Then my love came. His touch was so gentle I didn’t notice at first. My crying had drawn him in. Imagine that, the Lord of Winter making the time for a puffy faced girl.” Her voice filled with passion. “They say he is a monster but they could not be more wrong! He made diamonds of my tears, see them sparkling in the moonlight? He sang to me, to me! Can you believe it? He sang for hours and for as long as I could hear his voice I didn’t feel afraid.

“When Galvor finally arrived he was drunk. He wanted to bed me but I refused and the vile man laughed. That’s right. He laughed because it made him happy. He told me that he had heard I was spirited and relished the chance to win my affection. I replied I would never be his and had already given myself to another. There was no laughter after that. I think he was going to kill me but it never got that far, for Lord Winter intervened. He saved me and now I am his, willingly, totally his. Oh I cannot begin to describe it!” She gave an impromptu twirl before returning her attention to the quivering figure, still on his knees.

“Well Connel, it is time for you to go.” Yvette frowned. The young squire stayed where he was. “Only death awaits you here, so go.”

“Then you might as well kill me, your majesty.”

“You would rather die than leave?”

“It’s a poor man’s choice. Where would I go? There is nowhere to go. I’m dead anyway so I might as well stay here.”

“What do you mean? The kingdom is wide open now. There are lots of opportunities for a young man.”

“The king is dead and the land is buried under the ice.”

She paused. “How far does the snow stretch?”

“All the way to the sea and beyond… The birds have flown away but the rest of us are not so lucky. We haven’t the wood chopped or the food stored. The snows have come too early for that. We’d hoped to save the king and restore the land but all is lost now.” He hung his head, defeated.

Yvette’s hands flew to her face. It was one thing for the king and his odious brothers to die but quite another for all of the people. She thought of her sisters at home and her father. Something had to be done.

She walked over to the icy form of her ex-husband and prized the crown from his head. The frost gave easily to her wishes. “Here,” she said, placing it onto Connel’s brow, “it’s yours now.”

He jerked up in surprise. “What?”

“You’re right. The land does need a king and I choose you. It needs a queen too but I doubt you’ll have much trouble finding one of those.” She smiled and squeezed his bicep impulsively. He shivered. “My love and I will travel north across the sea, allowing the land to thrive. On condition that you make us welcome here three months of the year, so that I may visit my sisters.”

Connel’s head bobbed; his eyes wide as the reality dawned. “But what of Gregor? He’ll go to war with me.”

A cold wind swept the room, and a large snowflake settled comfortably on Yvette’s cheek. She giggled. “Oh don’t worry about him. He’s a coward and he’ll father no children to bring revenge on yours.”

“How can you be so sure?”

Her grin was wicked. “Frostbite.”
Title: Re: December 2011 Writing Challenge
Post by: Whitehare on December 13, 2011, 08:40:50 AM

*Plucks up courage. Posts. Runs away.*

Ellmani's End

The thaw approached and the dragon of winter neared her death. Two generations had come and gone while Ellmani ruled: people had been born, lived and died without knowing any other dragon.

She could not be dying. How could it be so? In her prime, she had been a thing of splendour.  When she reared on her hind legs and roared, her enemies fled and the winter sunlight glistened off the silvery sheen of her plated belly.  Her crystal talons extended sharp as icicles and her eyes shone, black and adamantine.  But now her scales had lost their lustre. Her splendid hide's argent gleam had faded and the hard sparkle of her eyes had been replaced with a dull stare.

The time for her final flight approached.  She dragged her huge bulk across her den where before she had stalked, surprisingly graceful for a beast her size.  She emerged onto the ledge and surveyed her domain.  Where the bitter chill of winter had held the world in its grip, now a warmer current tinged the air.  The sharp cold in her nostrils was replaced with the delicate mossy scent of warming soil and emerging plants.  Birds flew, no longer digging frantically through snow and ice for the last morsels of food, but flitting here and there collecting twigs from under melting snowdrifts for the nests of spring.  Their numbers would grow now; broods would survive where before a mere one or two would have survived being reared to hardship and hunger, whole species clinging on to their very existence through the years of winter.

She launched herself from the platform, roaring her defiance at the world below, her expansive wings beating through the air.  She swooped over the landscape.  Where once it had been snow and ice now green shoots of grass poked through and here and there the yellow hues of spring flowers began to show themselves.  She ducked and plunged, bellowing her rage at what she could not control and the people in the towns and villages below looked up and marked her passing.  Where before they would have cringed, ground down by the relentless cold, they now had victory in their eyes.  They had survived; she would not.  Spring was coming.

Ellmani landed, talons scrabbling at the rock, and hauled herself inside, dragging her body over the rock and deep into the cavern.  Her last show of strength had cost the dragon dear and she knew her time was over.

All she would leave behind was her egg: the one beautiful, glimmering egg that would guarantee the return of winter to the world someday.  She adored it, stroking one gentle talon down its surface.  A talon that could shred and tear caressed the silvery shape with all the tenderness of a mother to her child.  She marvelled at its gleam, the light blinking and shimmering on its translucent surface.  How had she ever produced something so perfect?  It had all the vibrancy she had lost.  She envied it and loved it in equal measure.

But before its time would come the reign of the three abhorred others.  In the shell of the egg of spring, pale greens, peaches and lemons throbbed with vitality, sapping the strength from her very bones.  Why did it thrive while she failed?  Why should the contents of this despised egg inherit her kingdom - the lands she had lovingly kept icebound for her lifetime?  Within this egg pulsated a life with its promise of new growth: fresh spring leaf buds curled within their satin nest; tender flowers forcing through the frosted ground ready to sprinkle the ground with their splashes of colour.

Next to the egg of spring stood the radiant reds, blues and yellows of the egg of the summer dragon, the dragonet inside biding its time, growing stronger, waiting to be born.  And last, the autumn egg gleaming in shades of russet and burgundy and bronze: the colours rich with the promise of winter to come. She could kill them, these usurpers: could extend lethal talons and rip their shells to pieces leaving them helpless at the mercy of the cold winter air.  Her daughter would inherit the world, glorious and supreme.  She threw her head back and roared one last time, the sound reverberating through the cavern with the trembles of an earthquake.

But her huge head sagged as reality returned.  Who would breathe dragon breath onto these precious caskets, keeping them warm or cool as occasion demanded?  Who would be left to feed her child when she emerged starving from her egg?  She must accept her death; it was the natural order of things.  Every dragon of her line must have harboured these thoughts, so bitter and resentful at caring for another's child only for it to succeed her.  If their line was to survive and the world to keep turning, so be it.

Her proud stance gave way as she accepted her fate.  Not willingly – she would never give up willingly – but as nobly as she had lived. 

In its nest the egg of Avera, the last spring dragon, began to quiver.  The dragonet within had stirred, roused by Ellmani's scream, and was tapping away at the shell with the egg tooth on its snout.  Each dragon would see only one hatching in its lifetime - the hatching of its successor - and Ellmani, interested despite herself, drew nearer to watch.  The tapping became more insistent and despite her anger and sadness at her own imminent death, she was fascinated to watch the emergence of one of her own kind. 

At first a tiny hole appeared, then a fine line zigzagged its way from top to bottom.  The egg cracked, splintered and finally fragmented into thousands of tiny shards, each glistening like a pool of dewdrops in the morning light.  Sitting within the remains was a tiny creature, dappled with fresh greens and soft pinks, peachy blush and delicate yellows.  She was perfect, and even Ellmani could not help but marvel at her beauty.  The little dragon chirruped, glossy eyes whirring with hunger. The egg sac had long been used up and the creature must feed or die. 

The dragonet extended silky wings, still wet from the egg and flapped them weakly to dry and strengthen them.  There was food to be had in the valley below the cavern.  The humans had animals there, herded together for meat and milk: easy pickings for a dragon.  Even a human could be snatched, if the time and conditions were right.  They would not retaliate: they were raised from babies to understand that if the dragons died, so would they.  The seasons would cease to be and their world would die.  But the dragonet was weak - too weak to hunt – and so was Ellmani. 

Ellmani understood. She knew what had to be done.  She remembered her own first meal – how hungry she had been and how good the meat tasted.  Even one of the humans' pack beasts would not satisfy a new born: she needed more substantial prey.  Ellmani had nurtured this egg with her breath for her whole existence; now she would nurture it with her body.

She lay down on the floor of the cavern, wrapping her body around the remaining eggs.  Whatever happened, she would protect them to the last.  The cavern floor was cold and the warmth drained quickly from her exhausted form.  The diamond sparkle in her eyes extinguished and her lids, rimmed with lashes like snowflakes, softly closed.  Her shallow breathing settled to a slow rhythm as she slipped into the sleep from which she would never awake. 

The little dragon cheeped in query, then flashed new, razor-sharp teeth.  She could smell food nearby.  Instincts awoke in her and she scuttled towards the recumbent adult, peering with one eye then the other at her motionless body. She flexed talons, barely hardened from the egg, and with a flick of a claw she opened a gash in the old dragon's scaly hide. 

Blood flowed, driven out by the pulse of a heart close to stopping, and the young dragon lapped it up, as the adult shuddered in her death throes.  The blood gave the young dragon strength.  She threw her head back and cried, shrieking her arrival to the world, then ripped into the belly with teeth and claws, tearing the soft flesh away from the bones and gorging herself until blood ran down the scales of her breast and her hunger was satisfied.

After feeding she slept, then ate again.  Already bigger than when she had hatched from the egg she ambled out onto the ledge to bask in the spring sunshine, scales and talons drying and hardening as she lay.  Then, young and vital and full of Ellmani's life force, she dragged what was left of the old dragon's carcass out to the ledge.  She would not keep the body in her cavern to rot and putrefy – let it be carrion and feed the new life that would come.

As Ellmani had done mere hours before the spring dragon took flight.  She was small still, but would grow rapidly over the coming days as the days lengthened, the buds sprouted and the soil warmed ready to put forth new life.  The humans watched her passing and cheered, knowing winter was past and better times were coming.

The new dragon drew breath and bellowed across the rapidly greening landscape.  "I am Kassina!  Hear me!  Spring is here!"
Title: Re: December 2011 Writing Challenge
Post by: EdCarney on December 17, 2011, 07:51:11 PM
Rise of the Legion.
By Ed Carney.

He leant against the ice wall staring at the reflection inches away from his face.  Who are you?  Vague memories slid across the edges of his mind but as much as he tried he couldn't hold on to them. Ice blue eyes stared back at him almost accusingly.  Who are you?  Resting his forehead against the wall he stared at the feet beneath him.  Snow had already covered his rough worn leather boots, sighing he pushed himself straight.  Blonde hear wiped across his face as a strong wind blew his ragged grey wool cloak.  Turning away from the wind the nameless man saw a long corridor, ice walls reached far into the sky above him.  Too far to climb snow fell from the grey sky above landing softly about him.  Looking over his shoulder he grunted at the identical scene behind.  Must keep moving.  Why? I don't know, just got to keep moving.  The argument carried on in his mind as his body lurched forward.


Alanine stood staring out of the window over looking her fathers gardens.  Servants below were busy clearing snow from the paths ready for the winter ball.  Shaking her head she turned away from the window and walked over to the large desk  sat in the middle of the library.  Leather bound books sat neatly on shelves from floor to ceiling around the room walls.
'I don't know my dear sweet niece.  It seems a bit unlikely.'  A tall thick built man sat at the table reading some papers in front of him. His grey hair was held back by a leather strip tied at the nap of his neck.  His trimmed grey beard covered an otherwise young looking face.  Her Uncle had always been a mystery to her.  Knowledgeable about most things she couldn't remember him ever looking any different than he did now.  He had the build of a blacksmith but moved with the grace of a dancer.  She had asked him of course how he made a living, his response was that he was a 'finder of things.'  What things though he would not say.  Even her father and mother would not tell her, only answering every query with 'I think you should ask your uncle that dear.'
It was frustrating to her but today something else frustrated her more.
'I've read all the histories in the university Uncle Tomas.  The Legion of Life is mentioned in every important text before the Storm War.  But after that nothing, not one word.'  She flung herself down into he seat opposite her uncle.
'Don't take it out on the furniture Ally  Your father would have a fit if you broke something.'  He wasn't wrong, sometimes Alanine thought her father cared more about the furniture than he did anything else.
'It's just annoying.'  Pouting she sat forward and took up one of the papers, 'This is the whole reason I went to the stupid university in the first place and nothing.'
'The only reason?'  her uncles questioning eyebrow drew her back.  She knew full well that she had no choice but to go.  By law all Elementals had to attend the university of life which often caused problems with the 'normal' students.  Elementals could come from any background and often poor students could have a hard time at the university.  Alanine's best friend at the university was the daughter of a carpenter, not an unworthy profession but in the eyes of most noble born children it was one step up from pond life. 
'It's not just that either uncle.  There are no details about them at all.  The name is mentioned and the fact that they were fierce warriors but other than that nothing.'
'Perhaps there's a reason.'
'Perhaps.'  She replied wondering what reason there could possibly be to change history.


Who am I?  Pulling his cloak closed over his faded blue tunic the nameless man kept trudging forward pausing for only a split second as he came to a turn.  Have I been this way before? Every turn revealed an identical passage way.  Does it matter?  Going forward was all that mattered. Turning again an object in the path tripped him, slamming his head into the wall he slid to the floor as his vision blurred and darkness took him.  Who am I? 


Alanine had been eleven years old when her magic, for want of a better word, had appeared.  Playing in the snow with her ten year old sister Helena, a large snow drift had fallen on them.  Panic hit her immediately as she was crushed against the floor losing sight of Helena.  Struggling to breathe she fought to get free only to find her vision darkening.  An image of a man flashed into her mind,  flowing like a dancer as he fought creatures made of darkness, twin swords forged by fire and ice   in each hand.  That was when she had felt it first, all around her.  The weight crushing her body suddenly slammed into her mind.  Every molecule of the water came alive to her along with the realisation that it sat waiting to be moulded, waited to be used.  More than that it wanted to help, almost needed to.
Still in her panicked state an image of flowing water started to form.  Instantly the weight lifted as she was washed across the floor until a tree stopped her progress.  Shaking her head in an attempt to clear her mind she sat up surveying the scene in front of her.  In the middle of the field covered in snow now sat a large mud pool almost one hundred feet wide.  Coughing drew her attention as she saw her uncle attempting to stand up in the middle of the mud, after his third attempt he thought better of it and shuffled on his hands and knees towards the still form of Helena. 
Alanine fell twice as she hurried to her sisters side.  Tomas had turned her over and was busy examining her. 'Her lungs are full of water.'
'Can't you do anything,' she screamed tears flowing down her cheeks, 'burn it out of her.'  Uncle Tomas was a fire elemental.  More than once she had seen him control fire shaping it into whatever he wished. 
'I'll kill her if I try Ally.  But you maybe able to.'
'Me? What can I do.'  She collapsed into a crying mess.  Suddenly the whole world shook, her uncle had grabbed her shoulders and was shaking her so hard her head felt like it was going to explode.
'Now listen to me Jane.  That wasn't me back there, I didn't do that, you did.  I know enough to recognise a water elemental when I see one.  Your sister is dying now snap out of it.'  She sat dumbfounded staring at the rage in his face. A water elemental. Me?  'Your sister Ally.'
'How can I?'
'Come here put your hands on her.' Roughly dragging her hands to Helena’s chest as the rage faded from her uncles face.  'Close your eyes, concentrate and feel.'  She did as she was told closing her eyes and focusing on what she felt. Nothing happened for what felt like hours.
'It's no good uncle you're wro...' Again it slammed into her mind almost physically knocking her backwards.  The water was there again, she could feel it, she was part of it pooling waiting to be shaped and used. She pushed on it and it began to flow, a feeling of joy and freedom overwhelmed her as she rode the water.  'I feel it uncle.'  Her words were filled with wonder as she explored the world within her mind.  Something called at the edge of her awareness and again.  Slowly the sounds came closer and she was able to make it out,  her uncles voice.
'Come back Ally. Don't lose yourself.  Come back.'  Her eyes snapped open as she focused on the face above her.
'Uncle?  What?'
'Rest child. Rest it is over now.'  Turning her head she saw her sister breathing easily beside her, it was the last thing she remembered that day.

Blonde hair stuck to his face as he raised himself into a sitting position.  How long have I been here? Who cares I've got to keep moving.  Why? I don't know.  Who am I? There it was again those distant memories flashing at the edges of his awareness.  Who am I? He stared at what had tripped him.
 A frozen skeleton lay across the path half propped against the wall, its armour covered in snow, a sword and shield frozen to the floor lay next to it.  Leaning over the body he prised the skeletons hand free of the ice.  A ring sat on its middle finger depicting an eagle over a shield.  Tarson Marshall.  Where had that come from? Who was he? What happened?  Who am I?  It always comes back to that doesn't it.  Who am I? The warning sounded in his head again.  I must keep moving. Why? I just have too. 
Howls sounded in the distance.  Seconds later they sounded again closer, the sounds of movement floated around the corner ahead.  As the nameless man straightened creatures rounded the corner.  Creatures of darkness, black as night, stood before him. The faceless creatures halted twenty feet from him and stood, black swords at their sides, studying him. 
He felt his hands flex as a familiar weight settled into them.  Looking down the nameless man saw twin swords forged of ice held by his hands, blue flames dancing up and down the blades.  Who am I?
Sparks flew as dark blade met Fire-Ice.  Spinning, the nameless man lashed out with his foot connecting squarely with the dark creatures midriff.  Three were dead already leaving only two still alive.  Twisting back around whilst the creature was still off balance he slammed the hilt of one sword into the creatures face as the blade of its twin sliced through its ribs.  Howling in pain the creature began to melt as the others had.  Using his momentum he continued to twist dropping to one knee and rolling just in time as the last dark blade sailed over head.  Continuing his roll he came to his feet as the last creature advanced on him.  Who am I?  Dancing backwards the nameless man parried strike after strike as the creature pressed him.  He saved his strength.  He let me use mine. His arms brunt with fatigue, it had been sometime since he had pushed himself like this.  Years, decades maybe even longer, the thought hit him like a horse.  Who am I?  I know who I am. Memories poured into his mind.  Armies, training, friends and lovers all came flooding back to him. 
Pain sliced into his arm as the dark blade found its target causing him to drop one of the swords, evaporating as it fell from his grip.  His mind flashed back to the present, his single blade flashed with a speed forgotten to him as he kept the creatures blade from finding its target a second time.  I can't keep this up.
A few centuries ago the creature would have been no match for him but centuries without food or rest  meant it was all he could do to keep the blade away.  I have to finish this.  Manipulating the elements always took concentration but years of training allowed him to split his focus but in his weakened state it wouldn't last long.  His blade continued its work as part of his mind became filled with the elements around him.  Water as ice lay all around him waiting for his call. Air floated all around him almost alive with anticipation.
 The world before him erupted as ice exploded, shredding everything in its path.  As the air cleared only the nameless man remained,  the corridor of ice had vanished around him revealing the snowy countryside of Isengarth. I know who I am.  I am the blade. I am the Legion.
Title: Re: December 2011 Writing Challenge
Post by: karendelange on December 23, 2011, 10:35:57 PM
Longest Night

Dan takes his gloved hands away from my eyes. Even through my eyelids, the sudden light is dazzling. Something cold brushes against my face. ‘You can open your eyes now, Bryony.’ There might be laughter in his voice.
   I open my eyes. Dan has brought me to the very edge of the forest, to where the branches of the pine trees reach out over the moorland, casting a shadow which warns of the darkness beyond. There are wolves and tree cats somewhere in that gloomy place; we are at the border of their kingdom, the end of human influence.
   Dan has stepped away from me to lean against a tree trunk, arms folded on his broad chest, watching me with eyebrows raised. ‘Well?’
   I turn away from him, away from the thick green light beneath the trees, towards the open moor and the grey winter sky. A handful of smoke plumes mark where the village nestles out of sight a mile or so distant. And the first few flakes of snow are fluttering down, landing like goose-down on my outstretched hand. ‘Oh! It’s snowing.’
   ‘You noticed.’ Yes, he is definitely laughing at me.
   ‘How did you know it was going to snow?’
   ‘Because I made it snow.’
   I snort. Now I am laughing at him. ‘You’re a blacksmith, Dan. Not a weather witch.’
   He pushes himself away from the tree. His feet crunch on the carpet of pine needles, releasing their sharp scent. ‘I’m a blacksmith now, yes.’ He tweaks my cold nose. ‘You’ve known me two months, Bryony. Don’t assume you know everything about me.’
   No chance of that. I rub my nose with my equally cold fingers. ‘You should tell Mairtin. You could help with the harvest.’
   ‘Mairtin doesn’t trust me yet; I’m still the stranger here, remember? But when the time’s right, I’ll help with the harvest, if they need me.’ He gestures round at the snow beginning to cover the ground, clinging to the boughs above us. ‘Meanwhile, you said you wanted snow for Longest Night. And you have snow. So you don’t tell Mairtin. Yes?’
   I think for a moment. Mairtin is my great-uncle, one of the wisest and best of all of us. ‘For now,’ I agree.

***

I think it will be one of the most beautiful Longest Night celebrations I can remember. I keep my own house now, am counted as an adult of the village, and I am free to stay out as long as I wish. All night, if I want.
   The sky is darkening by the time Dan and I return from the forest’s edge, though there is no sign of the setting sun behind the thick clouds. Dan goes back to the forge to send his apprentice home and lock up. The other women of the village call to me to help them, and together we hang long strings of lanterns between the houses around the edge of the square. Men come and go, singing as they bring armfuls of wood for the fire which will warm us all through the night.
   Still the snow drifts down. I pull my scarf tight around my head, and the cold air rasps in the back of my throat. I have no doubt that my cheeks are just as flushed as all the other women’s, with snowflakes caught in my eyebrows just as in theirs, turning us all into parodies of our own mothers. Even with the constant tramp of feet back and forth, the ground soon acquires a mottled covering of white. By the time the fire is lit, the roofs of the houses are completely covered.
   I tilt my face to the sky, watching the snow spiralling silently out of the blackness, catching the light from the lanterns as it floats to the earth. I can no longer feel the tips of my fingers, but that doesn’t matter. Dan finds me there, touching me lightly on the shoulder so that I don’t startle. The other women draw back a little, casting looks at what they see as his over-familiarity. How long must he live among us before they will accept him, I wonder? How long before they see him as one of them, as their blacksmith, their friend, and not a stranger from a distant city? How long before he will tell any of us the truth about why he came here?
   He holds out a beaker to me. ‘Here. You look like you need warming.’
   I take it and lift it to my nose. The scent of the whisky is dark and heathery. ‘Thank you.’
   ‘They want me to help light the fire.’ He smiles. ‘Stay here.’
   ‘I will.’

***

The fire blazes as high as the snow-blanketed roofs. From a smaller fire, the mouth-watering smell of roasting pork fat rises from two slowly turning hogs. Three fiddles and a flute send their music soaring high and fast, and my feet carry my equally fast, flying across the hard ground from one partner to the next round the circle of the dance. The music is a bird in flight, it is a waterfall, it is the tiny pricks of cold snow I feel on my warm face. Arms and hands pass me back and forth; my feet never stop moving.
   My breath crystallizes into tiny cloudlets each time I exhale. Dan laughs as he spins me round, releases me, catches me, releases me again to the next man in the circle. Time and dance and song all blur into one; I am free, I am free.

***

Now the darkest time of the night; the darkest time of the year. The fire spits sparks into the empty sky; the snow has stopped. All the children have been ushered off to bed and nothing remains of the hogs but bone and gristle. The fiddles still play but it is no longer the whirling jig that draws feet and soul to spin faster and faster. This is a step-dance, stately and graceful. I turn and curtsy and turn again.
   The pattern of the dance leads me close to where Mairtin sits on a chair that has been brought outside especially for him. He is so wrapped up in wool and fur that only his eyes, nose and mouth show. As I pass he beckons to me. I leave my partner with an apologetic wave and go to my great-uncle.
   ‘Mairtin.’
   ‘Bryony, my dear.’ He reaches out his hands to me. ‘Help me up, will you? I would walk a little, and it seems I have frozen here.’
   I take his wrists and pull gently, bringing him to his feet. He is so light; my washing-bowl is heavier. I let him support himself on my arm as we walk. The dancers make way for us – or rather, for him.
   Here, now, so close to the fire that the heat is almost painful on my face, though my back is still cold, and my ears are filled with the crackling and the crumpling of the wood, Mairtin stops. He closes his eyes, smiling.
   ‘Warm enough?’ I ask.
   ‘Yes, my dear. Very nearly.’ He opens his eyes and looks around us, ‘This is a good place.’
   Does he mean the village? Or this very spot, here beside the bonfire, the dry air rippling with heat haze and snowmelt beneath our feet? ‘It is,’ I agree.
   His eyes focus abruptly, fixing on my face. ‘There are more things in this world than our imaginations can countenance,’ he says, and it sounds for all the world like a warning. ‘More things in the forest than we like to believe we understand.’
   ‘Yes, Mairtin.’ I wonder if he is rambling, if this is the first sign of the dementia he has held at bay for so long.
   He looks away from me. ‘You should be careful, my dearest Bryony. I should not like to see you in danger, and be unable to help you.’
   I follow his gaze, and find myself looking at Dan. He is standing at the edge of the square, heedless of the dancers, watching Mairtin and I. There is not enough light to see his expression, but he is certainly not smiling.
   I could pretend I do not know what Mairtin is talking about, but that would insult both of us. Still, what he is saying makes me angry. ‘I am in no danger from anybody, Mairtin. And just because Dan is new to our village, that doesn’t mean anything. He’s been good to all of us.’
   Mairtin looks back at me. ‘He could live here for twenty years, dear. That wouldn’t change what he is. He doesn’t belong here.’
   A weather witch, I almost say, but then I remember my promise to Dan. Besides, there is a look on Mairtin’s face that says he did not mean anything like that at all.

***

The clouds are clearing. Through a gap close to the horizon I can see the Witch Star, shining orange. The fire is burning down, but there are not many people left for it to warm. Most of them are sat close to it, talking and laughing and drinking whisky. Nobody plays music.
   Mairtin retired to his bed hours ago, but I am still here, sitting on the chair he has vacated. He refused to speak any more on the subject of Dan after his last, cryptic announcement. I am trying to dismiss what he said as merely age, and fear of the unknown, but something in me won’t believe it.
   Dan is here now, still, pacing back and forth at the edge of the firelight, unwelcome at any of the warm, whisky-fuelled conversations. There is only one way to set my mind at ease, I tell myself, and go over to him, treading carefully on the icy ground.
   ‘Are you here to interrogate me?’ He is belligerent, but does at least keep his voice down.
   ‘No.’ How could I do such a thing? ‘You were right, Mairtin doesn’t trust you. If you told him you were a weather witch, it might help.’
   ‘No, it wouldn’t.’ He looks sad. ‘Thank you, though.’
   Dan turns away from me. As he does, the firelight catches his eyes, reflecting, for such a brief moment I am sure that I have imagined it, the slit pupil of a golden-eyed tree cat.
Title: Re: December 2011 Writing Challenge
Post by: Geri on December 30, 2011, 07:46:27 PM
The Last Dragon Keeper

Eui watched as the waves surged towards the shore. Ice had formed on the water, the motion turning it to mush as it covered the smooth grey rocks that acted as boundary between land and sea. She wrapped her arms around herself, trying but failing to keep out the wind which threatened to tear her clothes and pick at her bones. She knew that her mother would scold her for forgetting her jacket but in her desperation to get out of the house, she had left it, stowed snugly in her wardrobe. Eui stamped her feet to try and warm them but the wind kept forcing it’s way through her thick boots, biting her toes.

The ground began to shake. It started with a slow trickle of the smaller rocks which quickly blended with the mush of the ocean water. The larger rocks began to vibrate then roll down the hill and into the water. Eui stood her ground as rocks large and small snapped at her heels, flinching as the larger ones bruised her. Eui breathed deeply, inhaling the familiar ash scent which covered the island more deeply than the perma-snow. 

The earth juddered to a stop and Eui carefully stepped out of the pile of stones which covered her feet. The icy slush boiled along the shore then all was still once more. Eui turned as she heard footsteps crunching on the gravel and smiled at her father.

‘Your mother is worried about you,’ he said, not looking her in the eye but focussing on the ocean.

‘I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said what I did.’ Eui risked a look at her father but could not read his expression. The silence settled over them, only slightly comfortable.

Finally, taking a deep breath, Eui said, ‘The dragons are dying father.’

‘As are we, Eui, as are we. We can only hope that they die before we do. A dragon alone in this world, without a Keeper, would soon fall prey to the blades of the Sagar.’

If they’re lucky, thought Eui, but she did not pursue the matter. Every Keeper knew the challenges faced by the dragons. The Sagars were hunters who sold dragon meat and their scales and teeth which held magical properties. For over a generation they had hunted and killed dragons, depleting their numbers in an unending quest for the perfect hunt: A mythical beast, defined by its purity and beauty. With each retelling of the myth, the dragon grew in grace and size until Eui, who had been told stories of the Sagar which had kept her awake at night, did not recognise the creature as being a dragon but an animal of pure virtue. Knowing no dragon had ever been born matching the myth kept the Sagars hunting and Eui from peaceful dreams.

However, the biggest threat was the dragons themselves. Females would lay between 15-20 eggs and would continually defend her nest from attacks by males. Of the eggs which survived, not all would hatch, with some being trampled. Finally the female, tired and undernourished, would die. If she was lucky, she might see the one or two of her offspring who would emerge from their eggs, snorting flames and growling to be fed.

In the absence of a mother, when the infant dragons smashed from their eggs, they would bond with a Keeper. The Keepers were almost as old as the dragons themselves but they to had slowly grown fewer and fewer until Eui and her brother Rowan were the only none bonded keepers. The last surviving female was guarding her egg, waiting to die.

‘It’s a very special time for your brother. He will be bonded, probably today,’ said her father, his eyes remaining on the waves.

‘And what about me?’ asked Eui.

‘Is that why you wish to leave? You lack purpose?’ Eui flashed a quick look at her father. He would claim that it was the wind which brought tears to his eyes, but the clench in Eui’s stomach reminded her of the argument with her mother.

‘There is a world beyond the isle, father. I wish to explore and there is nothing here for me. There will be no more dragons once this has hatched and bonded with Rowan. A Keeper with nothing to keep,’ Eui’s eyes flooded with tears which threatened to fall. Her father swung an arm around her and gently pulled her close for a brisk hug.

‘Come, Eui. They are preparing for the ceremony. I have to get to the Great Hall. Greeson and the elders are waiting for me.’ Together they walked slowly up the beach, slipping occasionally on the loose gravel. Kissing her on the head before gently pushing her towards the settlement, Eui’s father walked towards the mountain. Suddenly he called Eui and she ran to him as the wind stole his words.

‘Eui, Keepers are like the seasons. We are currently in the darkest winter we have known, filled with darkness and despair but after the winter, the spring warmth always comes. Remember, your name means spring in the old tongue. Wait, and you will see the beauty when we emerge from the darkness. I know you feel there is nothing for you here, but your brother will need your support and love. Being a Keeper is not easy and he still has a lot to learn.’

Eui gave her father a small smile, then turned and jogged into the settlement, flinging open their door. Her mother looked up from where she was sat by the table, her sewing needle raised. She regarded Eui with a stony expression.

Eui paused, looking contrite under the glare of her mother. ‘Father said you might need some help preparing for the ceremony,’ she said finally.

Her mother carefully laid down her needle. She studied the garments laid out across the table then quietly said, ‘Go and wake your brother. He needs to get dressed. The ceremony starts soon. The egg is hatching.’

Eui dipped her head and avoided eye contact with her mother as she wound around the large table and up the stairs. Launching into her brother’s room, she jumped onto his bed, bouncing up and down.

‘Wakey, wakey,’ she called as Rowan swatted at her.

‘Get off,’ he shouted as Eui continued jumping.

‘Mother says you have to get up. The ceremony is going to start soon so you need to get into your dress,’ teased Eui.

‘It’s a robe,’ roared Rowan, sitting up and pushing Eui off of the bed. She landed with cat-like grace, giving him a smug smile.

‘Whatever. The eggs hatching. You’re about to become a Keeper.’

‘Yeah,’ said Rowan without enthusiasm, pulling a t-shirt from the floor and sniffing it. Deciding it didn’t smell, he dragged it over his head, then ran his fingers through his hair.

Eui watched her brother. Three years older than she her thirteen his training made him appear older but seeing him first thing in the morning always reminded Eui of how young her brother really was.

Playfully kicking him, she ran from the room, calling ‘Your dress is on the table. Hurry up or I might spill my breakfast on it.’

Eui charged into the kitchen, Rowan a few paces behind. They both stopped when they saw their mother’s stern face.

‘Hurry up,’ their mother said, handing Rowan his robe. Smoothing her hair, she stood a little straighter and scowled at her children. ‘I will see you at the Great Hall,’ she said, leaving them.

Eui grinned at her brother. Rowan ignored her and carefully picked up the robes his mother had spent weeks embroidering. Slipping the delicate fabric over his head, he felt it cascade down his body. Checking the sleeves were straight, he tugged at the hem. Eui bit her cheeks to stop from laughing while Rowan slipped into his boots.

‘It’s a robe,’ he growled. Eui couldn’t contain herself and started laughing. Looking down at himself, Rowan sighed, then he too started giggling. ‘Ok, it’s a dress. Can we go? I have a dragon to meet.’

Together they walked from the settlement towards the Great Hall, Rowan complaining about the cold and the snow getting into his boots. Entering the cave that would take them to the Great Hall they could hear the Elders singing, and the pained final breaths of the female dragon. The Great Hall was a large cave which had formed in the mountain, decorated by generations of Keepers. There were designs showing the bonding ceremony, the history of the keepers and dragons, with some designs used to train young keepers.

Eui and Rowan joined their parents, stood on a large platform just above the pit where the dragon rested with her last remaining egg. The female dragon was large, her scales a burnt orange turning to red on her belly and yellow on her wings. Her breath was shallow and laboured and the keepers knew that it would not be long before she would join her brethren in the flame halls of the underworld.

Eui stole a peek at the egg. It was about the size of a boulder, with mottled brown spots and she heard the frustrated squeaks as it’s occupier nosed its way out. The Elders stood on the opposite platform, their chants rising and falling with the breaths of the female. The large dragon’s head drooped, rose, then fell again.

Greeson silenced the Elders with a raised hand. ‘She has passed to the underworld,’ he said.

No one made a sound as they watched the dragon ease its nose, then it’s body and finally its long tail from the egg. It opened its mouth and coughed, sending a ball of flame harmlessly against the wall. Shaking itself its wings unfurled and the Keepers stood amazed. The baby dragon’s body was a paler colour than it’s mothers but its wings were pure white, veins highlighted in golden scales which caught the light. Shaking its head, it emitted a small bark before experimentally flapping its wings. Its dark green eyes took in the unmoving body of its mother before it spotted Rowan stood on the platform. Another flap of its wings and it was eye level with the platform, barking happily.

The Elders began chanting in the ancient tongue. Eui did not understand all the words but knew it was the song to encourage the dragon to choose its Keeper. Rowan grinned as the dragon looked at him and bowed deeply as he had been taught. The dragon started to dip its head when it caught sight of Eui behind Rowan. Cocking its head to one side it forgot to move its wings, flapping quickly as it began to fall. Rowan remained bowed, but his mother shifted nervously. Rowan dared to peek and frowned when he saw that the dragon was not returning his bow. Finally he stood and looked at his father, who shrugged his confusion.

Standing, Rowan blocked the dragons view of Eui. The dragon craned his neck to look around the boy. Eui looked back wide-eyed back at the creature floating effortlessly before stepping past Rowan and raising her hand towards the dragon.

The dragon swooped close, it’s sudden movement causing Eui to step back in surprise until the dragons long black tongue flicked out, licking her hand. Eui giggled, running her hand along the dragon’s muzzle as it growled contentedly.

‘The dragon has chosen it’s Keeper,’ called Greeson, his voice echoing.

Eui stopped playing with the dragon as the words struck her like a physical blow. She looked at Rowan, his face contorted with anger, her mother with her hand covering her mouth in shock and finally her father who was smiling at her. Stepping forward he lifted Eui onto the dragon’s back. Eui hugged the dragon’s neck as it rose and circled the Great Hall.

‘Spring has come with the last Dragon Keeper,’ Eui’s father said.
Title: Re: December 2011 Writing Challenge
Post by: Autumn2May on January 02, 2012, 08:50:00 PM
And the contest is closed!  Check back later today for the voting poll! :)
Title: December 2011 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Open!
Post by: Autumn2May on January 03, 2012, 02:17:18 AM
And voting is now open!  Good luck everyone! :)
Title: Re: December 2011 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Open!
Post by: Autumn2May on January 03, 2012, 11:01:28 AM
And this is why I shouldn't post things when I have the flu.  The poll is wrong, I'll fix it.  Sorry about that.
Title: December 2011 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Open!!
Post by: Autumn2May on January 03, 2012, 11:04:44 AM
Let's try this again...

Okay, all fixed.  Sorry about that. :)
Title: Re: December 2011 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!
Post by: Autumn2May on January 31, 2012, 02:34:19 PM
And our winner is Geri!  Congrats on your win! :D

You can discuss this month's contest here: http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/writers-corner/december-2011-writing-challenge-discussion-thread/ (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/writers-corner/december-2011-writing-challenge-discussion-thread/)
Title: Re: December 2011 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!
Post by: Eclipse on April 27, 2015, 12:05:45 PM
It's nice to see Peter Newman here, maybe one day our current monthly writers will get a novel out
Title: Re: December 2011 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!
Post by: JMack on April 27, 2015, 01:05:33 PM
And it was quite a wonderful story he wrote that month. 2011! Seems like forever ago.
Title: December 2011 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!
Post by: xiagan on April 27, 2015, 01:32:00 PM
Nice find, Eclipse. ;)
Arry beat you, though. She noticed it more than a week ago.