January 22, 2019, 05:12:06 PM

Author Topic: [Jan 2019] - AIR - Submission Thread  (Read 137 times)

Offline xiagan

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[Jan 2019] - AIR - Submission Thread
« on: January 01, 2019, 10:35:38 PM »
Air


Diving Suit by SolFar

We had Fire and Water already, so here's another element. It's easy to see the power in those two elements. Air is more subtle and most of the time you don't think about it. A bit like your heart. It's seldom on your mind as long as it works as it should...

This prompt is open to fantasy and science fictional stories.


Rules:

1. This must be prose or poetry.
2. Air has to play an important role in your story.
3. Prose must be 500-1500 words long.
4. Poetry must be 100-750 words long.
5. One story per person or writing team (not per account).
6. You will be disqualified if you exceed the limits, full stop. That's why they're called limits.
7. Your entry can't be published somewhere else before.
8. This is a writing contest, not a "I have written something like this ten years ago" contest. So if you happen to have a story that fits one of the themes, I'd like it to have a mayor overhaul/edit. Work for it. ;)
9. Please add your story's word count and, if you have, your twitter handle.
10. Please put your story in [ spoiler ] tags to make the thread easier to handle. :) You can find them above the smileys under the B.
Bonus rule: We consider voting in a contest you're taking part in a given. Others take time and effort to read the stories - you should do the same. A small community like ours lives from reciprocity and this contest needs stories as much as votes. 

If you want so submit your story anonymously you can do so by sending it in a personal message to @xiagan.

Entry will close January 31st/February 1st, 2019 and voting will begin somewhere around the same time too.

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

The winner will have their piece displayed on the main Fantasy Faction website sometime in the next months.
Submitting a story counts as published. The author retains all rights to their work.

Remember that this thread is only for entries. Discussion or questions can be posted here.
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline Cell18

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Re: [Jan 2019] - AIR - Submission Thread
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2019, 05:01:49 PM »
First this month.

Title: The Sultan's Favours
Words:1486

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Sultan of Suraha was a man who had everything that anyone could ever dream of having.  In fact, one could go as far to say that he had items that not even the most wild imaginations could have ever summoned.  A statue of an elephant that could produce all manner of drinks from its trunk just by reading thoughts and a golden letter opener that one could not be lifted unless a letter bearing good news was near are just two examples of some of the items.  Both  gifts from the mages of Mulaham far to the east of Suraha.

The Sultan demanded favours, and being extravagant, the more unimaginable the favour the more he adored it.  With the Sultan being the most powerful man on the Earth, it paid to be generous to him.  After all, the alternative was certain death for the bearer if the Sultan was mildly displeased or a curse on the people and crops of the land of the bearer if he was greatly displeased.  However, the most powerful and most feared punishment of all was complete ignorance from the Sultan to the bearer.

Every year the lesser nobles would send their favours in hope that it would buy them one more year of appeasement from the Sultan.  As you can imagine, each year the favours got more lavish and more creative as each noble searched for the one item that the Sultan did not yet own.
 
So our story takes a journey to the far, far south of Suraha were the climate is much colder and the summers much shorter.  The kingdom of Ickall, a population of twenty ruled over by King Frysa had to send their courier a full eight moons to reach the sunnier climes of Suraha and the time for departure was approaching.

King Frysa had thought his favour last year was ignored. No mage sent a black owl to indicate the Sultan was displeased, yet no white owl indicating thanks was seen.  He had thought last year his item of a plant that would only grow four days a year was ignored yet with some relief a full six moons after the favour day had passed the white owl came.  He and his people were free.  This year he would need to be more careful and more thoughtful.  However, his courier Luft was readying to go.

The day before his departure, Luft requested and was granted an audience with his king.  Frysa was a generous man with his time and could afford to be welcoming to his people when the population was so small.  Luft dressed in heavy furs, carrying his ice axe entered the Kings meeting chambers.
“My king, I apologise for my brashness but you have not yet described what I will be carrying to the Sultan.  I need to decide what I will need to carry it”

“I have known a my favour for quite some time, yet I was waiting to see if any other idea came to me” replied Frysa

“Then king, I assume no other idea has presented itself?” Luft was disheartened, never had Frysa left it this long before.  The only reason could be he was not confident in his favour.

“Take this sealed letter which must remain sealed, as ever, until it crosses the Sultan’s hand.  These are instructions for you to follow at the destinations on your journey” Frysa handed both to Luft who stored them safely in his pouch.

“And take this bag.” As he handed the bag to Luft he noticed the familiar clinking of glass bottles.  Luft peered inside and picked up one which read Halestryk.  This was a hamlet town five days from Saraha.  “As you can see the bottles are labelled and the instructions are clear.”

And so Luft travelled his yearly journey to meet the Sultan.  At each location as the letter demanded he opened up the correct bottle for exactly two minutes and put it back in the bag.  In the forest of Dypan, a hundred midges entered the bottle and for a moment, Luft was unsure what to do.  After consulting for a time, he decided that trying to find an area of the forest where there were no midges would be impossible and so he fastened the bottle and put it in the bag.

He opened bottles in the hard, punishing deserts of the Mirahal land and in the middle of the Serpent Sea.  He opened bottles at the highest and lowest points of the valleys of Walya. He opened bottles in the crush of the market at Amstaf and the lull of the village of Boona.  Some of the bottles he had used were clear, others had gathered mud, sand, water or small creatures.  The temptation was there to open them and make them all look the same, but then he thought the will of Frysa would be disobeyed.

Of all the bottles he had filled, his favourite was the bottle labelled Edgata.  Edgata was the land where the bones of the Grand Mages were buried centuries before.  While not sacred land, it was believed to be bad luck and cursed if one desecrated the land or used the land to sleep.  Stories were of people waking up paralysed if they slept on the land on purpose or otherwise. Luft founds that the bottle he opened would glow a brilliant green after the sun set. After this, a rainbow of all the colours would form in the bottle.  Out on the lonely plains Luft would stare at this bottle for hours.

Frysa arrived at the Sultan’s Palace on the day of the eighth moon change after starting his journey. The lavish room was lined with the favoured items lined the room, the most adored within the Sultan’s reach. Luft walked past a bird that immediately called his name, land and birthstone.  It seemed that the Mages had produced another excellent favour.  Luft handed his bag to the Sultan, the Edgata bottle tucked below the others.  The Sultan opened it and took out a bottle with each hand.  The confusion upon his face turned to anger.
“Empty bottle? What use of I for empty bottled” he took a closer look at the bottle in his right “Not just empty bottles, but bottles that are dirty, bottles that…..have dead insects.  Explain yourself”

Luft handed the Sultan the sealed letter that Frysa has given him.  Instinctively the Sultan reached for his letter opener.  The court around him watched eagerly, waiting to see if it was good news for the Sultan.  Luft kept his breath steady though his heart beat hard and fast.

The letter opener allowed itself to be picked up and was greeted by an audible gasp.  It was the first time in a long time the opener had done this.  The Sultan opened the letter and read aloud.

“Sultan, I would guess right now you are disappointed, confused but mostly angered at what you have received.  It is true that you have no use for empty bottles, and they are not lavish enough, as you deserve.  So why send you these?

“Each bottle has a label.  If my man has done his work, the bottles have the air of all the places he has visited.  His journey is you have never made and will have no need to make.  This is my favour to you, the world as Luft knows it.  In these bottles stands a period of history that is now yours to own. I cannot think of a favour more lavish than a moment of history and time itself…..but when it is a moment in time of a number of far away places, that is even better.  The history and moment caught in the air that my man stood in!

The Sultan put the letter down.  The smile upon his face could not be hidden.  “When you return, tell Frysa his favour is well appreciated.  His generosity will be returned soon” The crowd was stunned silence from the Sultan’s words.  Never before had he promised to reciprocate a gift.

“You may not know this Luft, but in an ancient land that the sea has now captured, your name is Air.  Frysa has delivered me air by Air.”

The Sultan did give a favour back to Frysa.  It was the greatest he could have received for his people.  It was a note delivered by the most wonderful golden owl ever seen.  On it was written a note:

“You have given me the favour of air.  You have given me the favour of travel, of the feeling of what it means to be free of Sultan.  Your air has bought you your people’s freedom from sending yearly favours” 

From then on, the Sultan demanded air from all, so that he could gain his freedom of his walls and each bearer could gain their freedom of favouring him.

Offline Jake Baelish

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Re: [Jan 2019] - AIR - Submission Thread
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2019, 06:17:09 AM »
Bad Air

1500 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
The toxic air hung thicker over the fields outside Brakken-Upon-Eastflow. So bad you could taste it. Even the foulest of bubbling springs hadn’t so offended my nostrils. The foliage wilted the closer we got to the goblin hole. Whatever plagued us, it came from down there.

“You’re sure about this, wizard?” Elfric; one of the four sent with me, a withered little man who made up for his physical shortcomings with a knight’s arrogance.

“Unlike you boys, I haven’t kept my nose buried in those smelling sachets all day. It’s stronger here, mark my words. Now, as we are entering the godsforsaken stink hole – and there is a chance the goblins won’t greet a potential meal with customary graces – you fools had better clench your guts.”

A stillness lay within the gaping burrow that led to the world below. The smooth stone slab that kept them from us stood ominously unguarded and with not a sound from the other side. True, goblins rarely made moves in broad daylight, but to let us get so close so easily was most unusual.

“Lord Wizard…” Milo this time. The boy had only been sent because the other ‘real men’ hadn’t the balls to volunteer themselves. Alas, these were his first words to me.

“Lord Wizard?” I growled. “Firstly, no one says ‘Lord Wizard’. It’d be Lord Lamak if anything. But I’m not a lord. Just, get on with it, boy.”

“Well, Sir.” He grimaced. It was the least I could do to only roll my eyes. “It’s awfully bad here; the smell, I mean. Don’t you think it’d be better if we called for help? A Wind Wizard, perhaps…”

My face hurt. It hurt from a day with these children. The pinching of skin at my brow convinced me it’d stuck that way. “Perhaps you’d like to ride out and find one. You might have luck in a few days. Or perhaps weeks. Even months. An expert in tracking Aeromancers, are you?”

“No, Sir.”

“Adept at traversing the kingdoms?”

“No, Sir.”

“Knowledgeable in the arts and ways of air magic?”

“No, Sir.”

“No. Sir. Well do something you are bloody well good at and get that rock moved! Benny, Freyonor, you too.”

The two of them joined their crushed comrade while Elfric tried to appear useful shouting words of encouragement. I lit a pipe and wondered how man ever surmounted the other Lesser Beings of the Overworld.

The slab merely inched at first, leaving the slightest of gaps to the other side when Benny staggered back, retching.

“Get back at it, man,” I snapped. I regretted it almost immediately. The slab slid across the opening and with it came the foulest burst of air.

I swallowed it. I didn’t mean to. It came so fast and so suddenly, you see. I gasped, and in it went. I tasted it. And I saw the same revulsion in the eyes of the men. Benny was the first to hurl. His breakfast splattered the walls and left steaming chunks of bread balls littering the floor.

“Something’s dead down there,” Freyonor mumbled through his rose sachet.

I dared think he was right.

“We go on,” I said. “They aren’t the most inventive of people’s; we should easily find our way through. Be ready now.”

A silence befell us. A calamity appeared to have struck Eastflow’s goblins. Everywhere the dimly torch lit walls were cracked, the ground pounded and uneven, the ceiling crumbled, and what stone and woodwork existed lay toppled and shattered. And all the while that inhuman stench invaded our senses, growing thicker and thicker with each step.

The unimaginative shaft opened up into the first ‘room’ of the place. A plain box of a chamber, which housed a couple of dusty wooden altars whose contents (a single gold plated goblet and a handful of clay dishes) presently decorated the floor.

Benny motioned us to quiet. He’d seen something.

Benny deserves credit amongst this group, I suppose. It took little to stand out of course; yet he spotted the goblin boy hiding behind the larger of the altars before I did, and in the end that provided some forewarning which may have helped in the long run. Or maybe not. This was hardly the task of the ages. But still, it was something.

The scraggly little thing came out with arms and legs flailing in the clutches of Elfric and Freyonor. Thing barely reached their hips. Dirty as ever a goblin was. Grime creamed his face and fingernails; his arms, legs and belly were smeared with more shades of muck you’d know existed. Couldn’t deny the terror in his eyes though.

“Put me DOWN!” he shrieked.

I nodded and the men gracelessly shoved the boy on his bottom. They crossed swords as if to assert their conquest over the youngling. Men.

“What’s your name, boy?” I asked.

It didn’t seem keen to answer, until Elfric and Freyonor scratched their blades together. Awful sound, that. “Gleb,” the boy said.

“Well, Gleb, I see your home is rather empty. Did the putrid air send them fleeing?”

“What’s pooh-trid?”

I sighed. “Smelly.”

Gleb sniffed himself and frowned. “It might be me.”

“I shouldn’t think so.” I gestured to Elfric, who leaned over the boy and shook his head at me. “What caused all this mess, Gleb?”

The boy’s eyes widened as if remembering a secret long forgotten. “Oh, yeah! That’s why I was hiding! The troll! A troll came.” He made to get up only to be shoved by Freyonor. “We have to leave! He ate the others. He’ll eat us all!”

“Haven’t seen a troll in a while,” Benny grumbled. “They normally don’t come up for years.”

“Not till feeding time,” I said solemnly. “They get their fill, then disappear again. Unfortunate to happen upon a goblin cave after years of hibernation. Unfortunate indeed.”

“Why?” Gleb asked.

“Because, dear boy, goblins are not good for digestion.”

Gleb frowned again. I hadn’t the patience to explain digestion.

We proceeded with utmost caution, dragging Gleb along with us. Trolls usually awoke in forests and gobbled whatever deer or rabbit they could get their hands on. Humans might be simple but they’d avoided building their homes over slumbering trolls. This one had good reason to be angry.

The shaft emptied out on a grand hall (by goblin standards) filled with broken banqueting tables, pummelled pillars, chains and snapped spear shafts. And goblin bones – lots and lots of goblin bones. Amid the carnage mewed the monstrous mountain of flesh that was our troll.

And an air so thick you could chew it. I choked back the bile. My men once more stuffed their faces with their precious rose petals.

There came a tremendous trumping as the bulbous bulk shifted our way.

“Gods!” Freyonor howled. Milo and Benny waivered toward the wall looking somewhat discoloured. Something tugged at my robes: Gleb had found himself a safe space. The ‘taste’ was indescribably bad!

“Urgh!” groaned the troll. “Be gone. Foul small ones.” It itched at the sagging sack of its gelatinous gut. “I’m finished. The little beasts have done for me. Let me die alone and in peace!” Another groan and a belch almost as bad as what came from the other end.

“Oh for all the gods,” I huffed, and inched my way toward the self-pitying brute. “You would lie here moping into oblivion over a little flatulence?”

“There’s nought to be done,” the troll wailed. Its gaping maw was crusted with goblin, yet I’d no time for sentimentalities; Gleb was too dense to understand anyway. I discarded my pipe and raised my staff, which immediately raised alarm in the creature’s eyes.

“You’ll kill me, wizard?!” The beast lumbered to its feet, defying gravity. “I’ll smash you all!”

“You bloody well won’t,” I mumbled and let fly a spark of fire.

The shock reduced the troll to its knees. It threw up its trunk-like arms. “No. Please, Great Wizard. I’m but a humble troll. Help me, won’t you!”

“All right already,” I replied. “Men, grab those chains. Yes, that’s right. Now, form a belt around the belly area. The only way we’ll do this is to get it all out of him right here. It won’t be pretty, but what choice do we have?”

Elfric raised an eyebrow. “We could just slay the thing and be done with it.”

“Gods man! Are you some kind of monster? This is a creature of the Greater Beings!” Men!

With a sulk, they wrapped the chain several times while the tamed troll watched for any more magical mischief. When done I ordered the men to pull with all they had.

And the trumpeting of the troll I’d no doubt could be heard at the heart of Brakken-Upon-Eastflow. Within the earth the last blast of rotten air sent poor Gleb tumbling back down the shaft, and ensured the men’s bellies were emptied in time for lunch. We’d only to hope their appetites were up to it too!
« Last Edit: January 21, 2019, 03:01:42 PM by Jake Baelish »
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