October 22, 2019, 05:40:18 PM

Poll

Who wrote the best story in July?

DrMclony
4 (30.8%)
GZidar
2 (15.4%)
MindTwirl
0 (0%)
mikemarinus
0 (0%)
BenGalley
1 (7.7%)
Azrael.
1 (7.7%)
psuppak
0 (0%)
Shanothaine
5 (38.5%)

Total Members Voted: 13

Voting closed: August 29, 2011, 03:35:34 PM

Author Topic: July Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!  (Read 10479 times)

Offline Autumn2May

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July Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!
« on: July 01, 2011, 03:47:05 AM »
Man is free at the moment he wishes to be. - Voltaire


Image by irenesuchocki

Freedom means a lot of things to a lot of people.  In fantasy it can mean peace for an oppressed kingdom, equality for a downtrodden race, or even the ability for a single man or woman to find their own path in life.

This month’s challenge is to write a short fantasy story or scene that involves freedom.

The rules are as follows:

1. Must be prose.
2. 1,500 - 2,000 words.
3. Must include the theme of freedom and some element of fantasy.

The contest is now closed!  And the winner is:

Shanothaine!

Congratulations to our winner!
« Last Edit: August 29, 2011, 09:20:20 PM by Autumn2May »

Offline Autumn2May

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Re: July Writing Challenge
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2011, 07:00:03 PM »
I think I shall try to get my entry for this month in a tad sooner than last month. ;D  Who else is joining?

Offline psuppak

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Re: July Writing Challenge
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2011, 05:19:44 PM »
Dr.Mclony, you're so fast!!

Count me in too! :)
If you have not, smile.

Offline GZidar

Re: July Writing Challenge
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2011, 11:16:23 AM »
Ok... thought I'd give this a go. Here is an idea that popped into my head as I was sitting in a park watching wind blow through the trees.  :) It's probably still a little raw but I thought I'd put it out there and see how it went.

RUN
The trees had stood for centuries.

Majestic sentinels, beneath an iron grey sky only occasionally pierced by sunlight. The trees kept a silent witness to a primal world, a world untouched by civilization and free from human influence.
 
Today that changed.

The bitter wind caused the tops of the trees to sway, their branches brushed against each other in a dance as old as time. In the canopy things were as they had always been, but on the forest floor he ran.

The air gusted from his mouth as he picked a path through the ancient trunks of the alpine forest. Despite the freezing cold the ground remain free of snow for now but he knew that if he did not find shelter before nightfall he would perish just as surely as if his pursuers would catch him.

He clasped one arm to his side to keep pressure on an injury he could not remember sustaining. It was a shallow cut, but out here in this weather he could ill afford to lose much blood and the precious warmth it gave him.

How did he come to be here? Running for his life, in the middle of nowhere, pursued by who knows what. This too was a mystery but he knew with a certainty that dispelled all else that he had to keep moving.

In his clenched fist he held the source of that imperative, a crumpled piece of paper with a single word on it written in his own hand.

Run!

#

The guardian bent down and examined the ground before him for any sign of the fleeing human. He raised his head and sniffed the air hoping for the wind to carry some scent to tell him his quarry was close by. All the wind told him was that his brothers were nearby, something that he knew instinctively without the mundane assistance of the wind.

He rose and looked at the overcast sky. It would be dark soon and that would mark the end of the chase for him and his brothers. For while the absence of light was no obstacle to him the bitter cold was. At this altitude, even with the sun at its zenith it was almost too cold for his kind and it was for this reason alone that the human had managed to elude them thus far. He had perhaps another hour before he would be forced to return and he intended to make that time count.

With a shrill cry the guardian signalled his brothers and resumed his pursuit. Charging once more through the trees and one by one his three brothers signalled back with their own cries. It was a calculated risk, the cries told their prey where they were but it also inspired fear in humans.

People made mistakes when driven by fear and the guardians needed every advantage they could in facing this one.

#

Four blood curdling cries broke the silence and echoed through the wilderness.

They set the man's heart racing and almost caused him to trip and fall. He stopped and took a few heaving breaths as he tried to regain his focus. The sounds were a few miles distant, up wind of his current position. They awoke a deep dread in the man and he felt almost as if he would be overcome with despair. He clenched his fist tighter and fought the urge to give up; he was not ready to die yet.

Not here, not now and not like this.

But the cries awoke something else in the man; the stirrings of a memory, the dawn of understanding. The threads were vague yet but he could feel them slowly weaving together. Given time he knew that he would recall ... Something ... Something important.

But time was a precious commodity and he could ill afford to remain still while those things were out there hunting him. The man listened, he could hear little but the wind through the trees and just below that he heard the faintest hint of running water up ahead. Where there was water there may be caves and he needed to find shelter before it became dark.

With grim determination he resumed his run. Both surprised and thankful for his stamina, he wondered once again what had brought him here. But his attempt at understanding was sidetracked by the sudden realisation that his side no longer hurt.

The pain had reduced to a dull ache and the bleeding appeared to have stopped, despite him having no chance to wash and dress the wound. Perhaps once he reached the water he could spare the time to evaluate this unusual outcome more closely. But for now he was simply glad that he felt better and he knew he needed every advantage to survive what lay ahead of him.

He ran towards the sound of water and soon found himself at the edge of a wide fast flowing river. With no other option he ran downstream beside the freezing water in the hope that he might find a way across before his pursuers caught him.

He was running towards the sun, he could see that it hung just above the horizon and he didn’t have much daylight left. He didn’t relish the thought of sprinting through the trees in the dark and he knew that the cold would be terrible.

The sound of a branch snapping to his right caught his attention and he turned to see what had made the noise. He wasn’t able to see anything in the twilight gloom but he had the sense that there was something very big, very fast and very dangerous out there. Without realising he had done so the man found that his fingers had balled into fists and he had to consciously make himself relax. There was no way he was going to fight them and he was shocked by his body’s unconscious reaction.

He had to keep moving, to run, and to flee, he had to get away.

#

The guardian could see him now; the foul stench of him – of blood and sweat – threatened to overwhelm its sensitive nose. It dare not alert its brothers now or the human would know just how close his death truly was.

The guardian moved silently and swiftly through the trees, each bounding step bringing it closer to its prey. It could almost taste the flesh of the human he was hunting, could almost feel the brittle bones as they were crushed in the guardian’s jaws. The very thought of the kill brought moisture to its mouth and it had to remind itself that this human was not like the others and should not be taken lightly.

The human was running along the edge of the river oblivious to the guardian’s presence it was the perfect opportunity for it to launch its attack. With a low growl the guardian bunched its muscles and prepared to strike.

#

He saw the creature just as it burst from the trees to his right.

It came at him with lightning speed and he was barely able to avoid the vicious slash of its claws as it leapt towards him. How did they get so close so quickly? The question flashed into his mind even as he ducked and weaved to keep the razor sharp claws and snapping jaws from striking him.

Despite the speed of its relentless attacks he found that he was easily able to avoid the blows. He couldn’t understand how or why he was able to do that but he was grateful for it. 

The creature let out a piercing shriek; the blood-curdling sound echoed throughout the area and easily drowned out the sound of the rushing water only meters away. As before it was answered three times and the man was shocked by just how close the remaining creatures were.

He had to find a way to get away. He might be able to avoid the attacks from one of these creatures but four would be far more than he could cope with. He looked around and was horrified to see a second creature step from the trees behind him and then a heartbeat later he saw the third and the fourth.
He didn’t have long before the others joined the fight, his brief taste of freedom was about to come to a terrible and agonising end if he didn’t think of something fast.

With desperation driving him he ducked below his attacker’s flashing claws and hurled himself into the creature’s body. The blow was solid and amazingly the creature was flung back hard and crashed into the trunk of a thick tree several meters away and slumped unmoving to the ground.

The man didn’t waste time to marvel at this incredible display of strength and turned and ran headlong to the water, the river was his only chance and he hoped that whatever these things were they couldn’t swim.

#

The guardians watched as their brother was flung away and smashed against a tree. They had been warned that this human was different but none of them were expecting anything like that.

Their prey turned and ran into the freezing water of the glacial river. How did he know that they were unable to follow? Was he possessed of some secret wisdom that allowed him to discern their vulnerability to cold? They could do nothing now but watch as the human was washed past them, and then disappear from sight and on to freedom.

The guardian’s turned and saw that the sun had almost disappeared beyond the horizon.

Their hunt was over for today and without a second glance at their fallen comrade the three guardians padded away, leaving the trees to their ancient vigil.

Offline dtconklin

Re: July Writing Challenge
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2011, 04:50:22 PM »
Hm, I'll see if I can't whip something up by the end of the month.
"Words mean stuff and junk," - Noam Chomsky.

Offline Darkest Lord

Re: July Writing Challenge
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2011, 01:48:20 PM »
i'll post a short story from the fantasy world that im creating for my first fantasy series, so count me in

Offline MindTwirl

Re: July Writing Challenge
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2011, 08:04:12 PM »
Follow me

Elton removed his plastic gloves and allowed the hot water to drench the bacteria from his hands. Anyone else would have meant that there were no bacteria - hence the gloves, but to Elton his hands were crawling with unwelcoming strangers.
   He had just eaten a satisfactory meal of salad, strawberries, pear and anything else which grew in the dirt or on trees. No meat ever found their way into his house or anything else coming from animals, for that matter. Like eggs! He shuddered at the thought of the fragile little balls coming from the ass of a living creature and shut of the running river in the sink.
   Dragging his feet, like an old person even though he only just turned thirty, he returned to the dusty living room and his favorite spot in the house. He sat down on an old wooden chair in the darkest and saddest corner of the room besides an even older wooden desk. Both objects crafted by his beloved father who had passed away before Elton had turned twelve.
   Elton retrieved a new pair of plastic gloves from a small box on the table, put them on and stretched his arms out before him, making a terrible  yet satisfying noise of knuckles breaking.
   Despite of Elton never leaving his house (his mother told him it was a bad place out there) he had the most vivid and skilled imagination. He had won many awards for all the fantasy books he had written since the age of ten and was the youngest bestselling fantasy author ever. He didn´t get what all the fuzz was about though, he just wrote about all the things that made him afraid – which was a lot, he admitted, but still. He leaned close to the screen even though he wore glasses (it didn´t occur to him that his Fathers old glasses wasn´t right for him) and started typing. Within seconds his grey eyes glazed over and he was lost in another world.

A deafening wail crawled suddenly into Elton´s brain and made his hands stop writing. His fingers were stiff like a skeleton after hours of dancing on the keyboard and the sudden sound had made him stand up fast, causing his back to ache. He whispered an angry profanity as he slowly approached the door; his heart now racing so fast he was certain he would collapse on the floor. The doorbell seared with impatiens as it rang again.
“Alright, Alright” he growled as he moved as fast as a snail. No one ever visits me, he thought incredulously letting the loneliness show its ugly face for a split second.
   Peering out the tiny peephole in the door, panic raced through his whole body, making him whimper. The most beautiful young woman stood on his doorstep and she must have felt his eyes on her because she took a step closer and looked into the glass from the other side. Elton jumped a step back and felt his groin move for the first time in… ten years at least.
   “Okay, pull yourself together” he breathed. “You can do this”.
He opened the door with a happy smile plastered to his face.
   “Why are you wearing plastic gloves?” she asked smiling and pointed at his hand on the doorknob.
He hated himself for forgetting and hurryingly took of the gloves, tossing them behind the door.
   “Why are you here” he asked, more briskly than he wanted to be.
She looked at him quizzically “ Ahem… I´m here for the job… cleaning. Am I at the wrong house?”
How the hell could he forget the advertising he had made online? He needed a to-do list with an alarm stuck to it, he thought to himself. Stupid!
He made the fake smile even wider as he stepped away from the door, gesturing her to come in. She stepped inside, not seeming to allow his weird behavior to make much of a difference. Or maybe she just didn´t think he was weird. Yeah right!
   “I’m sorry, I forgot” he said in a mild voice, eyeing the much wanted gloves on the floor. As he closed the door he had to force himself further away from them and went to sit on the couch beside her.
   “I´m Amy” she said, lifting her perfect, slender hand to him. The war going on inside him didn’t show on his face but half his body screamed to touch another human being again and the other half wanted him to get her and all of her disgusting germs out of his house, as fast as possible.
   She lowered her hand again and smiled at him “look, you obviously got some issues with dirt or germs or whatever but I don’t care okay. I’m just here to clean”. Am I that transparent, he thought as he watched her get up from the couch and entering the embarrassing clean kitchen looking for supplies. The only room in the house which he actually cleaned.

Amy had practically hired herself and started cleaning the rest of the house right away. Elton didn’t care much. He found having another person in the house both soothing and disturbing though. He couldn’t concentrate on writing anything, so he just sat on his old chair and watched her work. He realized he hadn’t smiled like this for ages.

As suppertime approached he started to get anxious. Why is she still here? Doesn’t she have a life?
   “Don’t worry” she called from the bedroom. “I’ll be out of your hair in no time” as if she had read his mind. He seriously didn’t hope she could… his thoughts about her hadn’t exactly been pure. He felt his cheeks redden and had a hard time disguising it as she came striding back into the living room.
   “You just need to do something for me before I go” she said. Elton’s heart raced again at the sign of danger and all of a sudden he couldn’t bear being in his own skin. She saw the panic stricken look on his face and gave him a stern yet smiling look. He didn’t know why but his heart decided to melt right there. If he could get her to smile at him like that, he would do anything she asked.
   Despite his wobbly jelly legs he rose to his feet and pushed back all the frightening thoughts in his head. She took his arm and they approached the door. He was so tall that her head just barely reached to his shoulders. His legs struggled to stay inside, but somehow his heart knew it would be alright. He felt the gentle touch of a woman by his side and Amy didn’t push him into anything. She just led the way.
   As they slowly descended the poorly looking never-used porch the sun stung his eyes and he had to put one hand on his forehead to see. He was sweating heavily now, not from the warmth of the sun but because of the new road he had sat his foot on. The positive thing about not liking germs was that he bathed every day and knew that Amy couldn’t smell his anxiety as it was well disguised in eau de cologne.

Elton knew there was a river not far from his house but he had never seen it. The deafening roar of water now reached his ears and somewhere deep inside he was looking forward to the fantastic sight, but half his brain told him that danger was all around him and he had a hard time keeping up with all the new impressions. As a snake suddenly appeared in the grass in front of them, Elton was ready to go home. He turned around and started walking, but then he stopped, thinking that he couldn’t get back by himself.
“You trapped me” he cried while turning.
Amy shook her head “Nothing’s going to happen. I promise you”. She gave him that smile again, picked up a branch and lifted the snake with it, tossing the snake into the high grass far away from them.
She held out her hand towards him and he hurried to her. After a few minutes they reached the riverbank and Elton momentarily forgot all the mixed emotions flowing inside. He was in awe and had never seen such a beautiful place and he couldn’t believe it had been right outside his door for all these years.
   A bumble bee flew in front of his face and startled him, but he was able to control his heart rate as long as he looked out on the water.
   “My mother always told me that I could be whatever or whomever I wanted, even though I was different” Amy suddenly said.
Elton shook his head “You’re not different. Not like I am anyway”.
Amy turned away from the water and looked him in the eye.
She slowly opened her mouth and a big, green-blueish tongue came out, it had ugly yellow blisters on it and she looked suddenly ashamed of herself.
   Elton looked in amazement as the woman in front of him, who he had thought was perfect, now seemed like a freak. Visibly relieved he smiled and let out his own lizard-like tongue, black and greasy like a slug.
Amy giggled and squeezed his hand.
   “My mother always told me that the world was dangerous and that I should stay inside. Do you think she was trying to hide me” Elton asked with depression in his voice.
Amy nodded “I lived across the river growing up and I knew what she did to you. I’m sorry I didn’t come around sooner”. She had tears in her eyes now and looked away.
Elton moved a step closer, threw his arms comforting around her for a second and then decided it was too much.
“Tomorrow we go for a walk” Amy said, still crying.

Offline mikemarinus

Re: July Writing Challenge
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2011, 09:39:49 PM »
Hi all, this is my first post to this site. Im an avid reader of Fantasy and thought I'd try my had at writing a few lines  ;D.



                                                                      Guardian

The breeze blew cold through empty halls, once filled with such laughter and good cheer, now but just a vessel for the howling wind to scream through. Anathena sat before the dead fireplace, eyes transfixed on it feeling her blood turn to ice in her veins.
 
It had been two moons since they had fled her fury. Two moons since she had first learnt the meaning of fresh air, seen the ocean from the tower tops or relieved herself without being told to. She shivered momentarily, pulling her mind from recent violent memories, grabbed her frozen shoulders and edged toward the turret window. Before her the kingdom lands rolled out toward the roiling sea. She regarded the blanket of white covering the hills and valleys broken only by the stoutest of vegetation and ending abruptly as the waves fought back the snow at the shoreline. The shivering was getting worse now she thought, becoming uncontrollable and fit-like at times. Pain shot through her thigh and she forgot the view, unselfconsciously lifting her skirts to take stock of the damage. The angry wound was deep and ran from her to knee halfway up her inner thigh. She touched it lightly, running her finger along the jagged, broken skin. Her prize, she thought with a wry smile. Her reminder of what she and her people had achieved.

An unexpected noise from the doorway behind her caused Anathena to spin and let loose a barrage of wild, unfocused magic that brought down half the brickwork taking with it priceless tapestries and ancient heirlooms. A maniacal laugh escaped her lips as she glimpsed a feline shape dart through the rubble, between her legs and out of the room. The taste of metal once again filled her mouth reminding her how on edge she still was, and the remains of the doorway made it clear just how powerful and unpredictable her wrath could be. Her hands tingled and burned just as they had the first time the magic had flowed from her, reducing the bars of her cell to so much smoldering iron what seemed like a lifetime ago.

The footsteps had come as they always had, heralding the evening meal. She and what was left of her tribesmen had rushed to the bars of their gaol, arms thrust outward pushing and jostling for position. Anathena had mistakenly become caught between two warriors both pushing hard against each other in the crush for purchase on a stale bread loaf. The air had been squeezed from her lungs as their combined weight had pressed her tiny body to the flagstone floor. She felt a snap in her ribcage and a blinding pain sear across her chest. Instead of the panic she expected she had felt a calmness flood her mind, a serene light coarse through her being. Suddenly there was no pain, no hard floor, nothing but a brilliant ball of light beckoning to her. It was as if the world had retreated and nothing had ever existed but her and the light. Anathena struck out for it, grasping at it with all she was. It filled her, expanded within her minute frame seeking out every fiber and filling them all with raw power. A shock wave pulsed from underneath the men flinging them with such force that they rebounded off the walls and lay charred and still where they came to rest. In a dreamlike state Anathena had risen to her feet.

Her heart mourned the two smoking lifeless bodies but her mind focused on the guards who stood slack jawed and quivering at the gates. The last thing they saw were her eyes burning crimson and her hands rise in their direction. The bars gave way to a glimmering bolt and as one the remaining members of the once proud Flatland Tribe fell on the stunned footmen tearing into them with years of pent-up rage. An elder, Loremaster of the people noticed Anathena falter putting his arms out to break her fall he caught her head as she crumpled to the ground. ‘Guardian’ he whispered in awe, looking into her unseeing eyes. Her pupils instantly constricted and focused on his pale, washed out face. ‘Yes’ she replied ‘I have come’.

From her vantage point high above in the tower she watched the sun begin to set over the Grey mountains, then found herself wandering aimlessly from room to room with no reason other than lack of anything better to do. She passed like a ghost through the abandoned kitchens where cauldrons sat brimming with cold unattended broth and deer carcasses hung limp on their hooks beginning to rot. More food in this room than she or any of her cellmates had seen in their lifetime of confinement she thought. Most of them had been born to that cell and sat at the knees of the elders listening to stories of ancestors who had had their kingdom forcibly taken from them by the Dragonriders. Those who had arrived and laid waste to their crops and beasts rounded them up like cattle and shackled them deep within the bowels of the keep. Why they were kept alive was a mystery but every so often one of their number was taken from the cell never to return. Many speculated as to the reasons for this but none could claim they knew the truth.

The old tales did contain woven within them one golden thread of hope. Some spoke of a Guardian, one who would rise among them to free the people and visit retribution on their captors but this piece of lore was often met with derision by those who had given up hope on such fancy but yet the legend continued to persist.

She winced as she remembered the violence her people had met as they made their way from the prison and through the castle. How, as they moved from room to room their number had fallen. Brave souls had hacked and slashed with whatever they could put to hand. Old bottles, broomsticks even books had been used as weapons, shields and projectiles but none were any match for cold steel. It had all ended in the great hall where she now found herself again staring into the ashes of the fireplace. The Dragonrider Lords had surrounded her, the sole survivor of her people, laughing all the while as their false King moved to face a child of barely thirteen winters.

How they had slapped each other on the back and drawn back from her in mock panic as her eyes had passed over them. The King had called for silence and unsheathed his sword, pointing it in her direction. Anathena had no idea what he had said to her as the language of the Riders was a foreign and disgusting tongue that she had never had chance to learn.
He had advanced upon her faster than she had thought possible for a man of his girth. Unprepared for his attack she had not the time to muster a defense and his sword had found its mark in the flesh of her thigh. She had buckled and that is when he, in his arrogance, had made his mistake.

Lying bleeding on the great mosaic that filled the floor of the great hall she once again felt the light grow within her, reaching up from the ground below. She turned and leapt at him while he joked with his generals about who got to take her first, back turned and completely vulnerable. She had landed on him with astonishing force, torn at his face and neck, kicked and punched at his torso and bitten anything that proffered itself but it was unnecessary. The raw power, base magic, which had released from her when she leapt, had stopped his heart before she reached him. Together their bodies had crashed to the floor, with her still ripping and tearing at him. As they landed she realized he was still and slowly she removed herself from his massive broken frame.

Anathena turned to face her next opponent but none were forthcoming.
The crimson of her eyes matched that of the king’s blood that covered her jaw and spilled over onto her torn tunic. Even the most hardened veteran in the palace guard winced as he took in her gruesome features.
‘Take heed of what you have seen here today.’ She addressed the remaining warriors as if they were mere street urchins.
‘Get yourselves from this land which was once and is now again the mother of my people. Tell your brothers that they are no longer welcome in Sel’Togh, she banishes you by the hand of a child and as children you must flee.’

The great hall had emptied in silence. Mighty warriors moved like mice, not turning their backs to her for a moment but also not looking to her bloodied face for fear of being made an example of. When they had left she watched from the tower as the stables had opened, the dragons and their pathetic riders had left en masse. She stood now again at the window, shivering even under the robes she had acquired on her travels through the castle. Even now she could see the last of the dragons taking to the skies as word sped throughout the kingdom of a daemon that had slain the King and ordered them to leave or face a similar fate.

‘Guardian’ she thought, but of what? She felt hollow, her people were dead, strewn across the hallways of the castle where they had fallen. Every single person she had known lay broken in this cursed place, what was there left to guard? Just then she caught movement from the ground out of the corner of her eye. She looked down from the window and there it was again. Initially she assumed it to be one of those animals the elders had spoken of but as she looked closer her heart began to beat wildly in her chest. It was a group, no wait…a family, two adults with a child following closely. They were not Dragonriders of that much she was certain, they wore rags and moved from tree to tree as if trying to evade something. She could not make out their features from so far away but she did not have to. If they were not riders they were her people, could it even be possible, tribesmen that had hidden themselves for generations now resurfacing?

She rushed from the great hall, her mind spinning with possibilities. An elder had once said that all were not captured but she had thought this wishful thinking of one trying to give himself something to believe in. Then again, had not the legend of the Guardian seemed just as daft until it had come to pass? She packed whatever unspoiled food she could find and bundled as many clothes as she could into the biggest sack she could carry. It took her a good while to find the castle gates but once there she stood, for the first time in her young life without a roof over her head and a sense of freedom she had never known. She struck out in the direction of the forest.

"Nothing ruins your day quite like being hit in the small of the back by a small Italian Restuarant"

Offline Azrael.

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Re: July Writing Challenge
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2011, 03:19:20 PM »
Can anyone participate? Because in other forums, only those who say they are going to participate in other threads or have been a member for a while/have a certain ammount of posts, can.
What is a man but the sum of his memories?
We are the stories we live!
The tales we tell ourselves!

They called me mad.
I called them mad.
Damn them!
They outvoted me!

It is absurd to divide people into good and bad.
People are either charming or tedious.

Offline Autumn2May

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Re: July Writing Challenge
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2011, 03:36:00 PM »
Can anyone participate? Because in other forums, only those who say they are going to participate in other threads or have been a member for a while/have a certain ammount of posts, can.


Anyone with a Fantasy-Faction account can participate. :)  Your soul post could be your contest entry if you like.  Though we would love to have join our discussions in the rest of the forums as well.  The more the merrier! :)

Offline Azrael.

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Re: July Writing Challenge
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2011, 03:40:51 PM »
Can anyone participate? Because in other forums, only those who say they are going to participate in other threads or have been a member for a while/have a certain ammount of posts, can.


Anyone with a Fantasy-Faction account can participate. :)  Your soul post could be your contest entry if you like.  Though we would love to have join our discussions in the rest of the forums as well.  The more the merrier! :)

Tah, I've already started posting in other areas. ^.^ I was just clarifying...

Now to edit what a wrote last night. I think I might have gone over the word count. :S
What is a man but the sum of his memories?
We are the stories we live!
The tales we tell ourselves!

They called me mad.
I called them mad.
Damn them!
They outvoted me!

It is absurd to divide people into good and bad.
People are either charming or tedious.

Offline BenGalley

Re: July Writing Challenge
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2011, 02:00:09 PM »
Cardinal


Cardinal   



   I climb the tree, balancing precariously on each mossy branch of the oak my grandfather planted so long ago. High above the flower beds we planted, I squat in the foliage, shifting from foot to nervous foot. I reach a branch that draws level with our bedroom and hop out onto the limb carefully to try and peer through the window. The curtains your mother had picked out were long gone, the white ones with the little cornflowers patterns pasted onto them by a careful designer sat in some Swedish office far away in a place we never went.
   The wind is cold, and threatens to dislodge me while I wait, so I decide to retreat to the safety of a branch nearer the trunk. Clouds scatter across the grey sky and run fearfully from the approaching storm. At least it isn’t raining any more, I think to myself, but through the flapping leaves I can still see the dark clouds on the far horizon. The night before had been terrible, with that disgusting type of wind-driven rain that hits you in the face like a thousand liquid hammers. Two boys from across the street are playing with a hose, only gods know why in this unfriendly Autumn weather, but still their childish shrieks floated on the wind to where I hid, unseen in the branches of our oak tree. A brief gust of wind tugs at me again, and I hold on tightly with both of my feet.
   I built that house, every stick and stone of it, wooden frames, doors and window sills. It’s a nice area too, a strange old couple across the way but they’re nice enough. I can see their twitching curtains from here. I wonder with curiosity at the blue car that had taken up residence in my drive. Strange, I noticed, as humans how much we fear change. Seems so bizarre to me now.
   Movement in my house. I shiver and hold on to the tree a little tighter. The house is dark inside and no lights are on yet, but I think I see a shape moving around in our bedroom. The figure stoops and picks up something that looks like stray sock. It’s you. I can tell from the way you move around in little bursts of movement, pausing, then moving again like a little bubble of energy. Your hair is longer now, and I can make out that you’re wearing those clothes that you always wear around the house, like that old t-shirt I bought you in France.
   I let the wind rustle my feathers. I think I can hear a clang in the garage above the howling wind. The old tree must be almost breaking under the stress; the pain was audible in the creaks and moans of the old oak wood but still I cling on to the wet branch.
   Another shape joins you, a bigger man-shape, still dark in the bedroom that you decorated. You always said that blue and brown together, I preferred red, but obviously I let you win, so you painted it blue to go with our expensive brown sheets. I narrowed my little beady eyes and just watched, a darkening curiosity growing under my hollow bones.
   He touches you gently and I swear I can hear the laughter. Its probably just my imagination, or the boys across the street. My old life continues to play out on a muted TV screen as I watch from my tree. Something is different now, it feels strange and odd to be here one last time. How many times have I done this now? I ask myself.
   I watch this uninvited man I don’t even know run his hands up the woman I once knew intimately. I shudder and my wings flap involuntarily. I’m cold, and I’m starting to feel the wind slowing my heart beat, despite the activities in my bedroom. I can see you laugh from my hiding place behind the leaves, showing off that brilliant white smile of yours. As the two of you move around the room I wonder if you ever got that promotion down in the city, and if that colleague of yours is still bothering you like he used to.
   The man-shape turns on the light on the bedside table and one of my questions is instantly answered. The same man you complained so often about to me is now standing in my bedroom holding my wife, that guy from resources you said was a bit too “touchy”. I love irony, even though my understanding of it has become a little lost recently. I am starting to lose a lot these days, like the memories of us, the accident in the river so long ago, and not only the big things either, even the little memories and intrinsic things that you take for granted. Pin numbers. Tying shoelaces. The smell of petrol. My own birthday. I suppose I have two of those now anyway, and I think blithely how many more I’ve forgotten.
   This is why I came back, to find you and see your hazy face again. But this isn’t my life; it’s someone else’s now, two strangers in a room in a house that a man once built. I feel like leaving, but my little eyes can’t tear themselves away just yet.
   I stay for an hour, maybe two, watching you wander around the house doing chores. Once you come outside to check if that new blue car was locked. It was, and you hurry back inside shivering in the old t-shirt and golden hair blowing wildly in the wind.
   Just before the storm arrives, I decide to go. I test my little wings and rummage through my red feathers with my short yellow beak. One comes loose and flaps wildly, so I quickly pull it free and hold it tight like a seed in my strong mouth. With a short run and a little flap I make it to that window sill I think I sanded and painted all those years ago, and poke the feather under the lip of the window, tapping at the wood until the feather sticks, a bright red flag fluttering on our house. And with that, I sigh and flap off into the grey skies just as the first drop of Autumn rain touched on my lawn.


www.bengalley.com

Offline Azrael.

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Re: July Writing Challenge
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2011, 03:49:13 PM »

Surprisingly, it’s exactly 2000 words... I’m not entirely sure how I managed that.

I intended it to be a short story and it turned into a vignette. Enjoy.


Theme: Freedom

~*~

People say life is like a journey, filled with adventure leading to peace.
I however, am not so sure.
We are told if live your life to the fullest, you'll be at peace when you die.
I however, do not believe this to be so.

If people fixate on the end, we miss the journey.
If people fixate on the journey, they miss the pauses.
If people fixate on the pauses, are they really living?

You may ponder the thoughts of the living and the dead and judge life and freedom to be at a certain point, but in truth it is subjective and every breath is a choice.
To a drowning man, is his last breath freedom or punishment? Is the cold embrace of the choppy water, a release or judgement?
To a new born child, is that first gasp of air and cry, a reaction of joy at freedom or a scream of terror at the desolation of the world?


These thoughts used to haunt him, questioning questions which carved at his soul. No more. We say that the truth of freedom and life will be revealed to man during his darkest hour, yet there was none. Did that mean he could sink lower, become worse than this? Or did it prove the heretics right about the false sermons of the preachers. He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts, his straggly hair, dark from dirt and unwashed, flopped onto his face. He'd once been pale; holed up in scholarship, pondering thoughts that others could never comprehend. Now he was tan, his once smooth skin worn from the burning suns. He numbly picked up another rock from the sheer cliff face, and carried it over to the steel wagons and dropped it, turning around he headed back to the cliff. The wide bare plains caught the corner of his eye; he paused and turned to look over. The grey brown world stretched for as far as the eye could see, cracks in the earth splintering in multiple directions. To his right, the steep cliff face rose, unbroken spreading out along the plains, crater like holes where blown into its sides, to quarry stone from it. The cliff stretched up to the heavens, blocking the view of the rest of the world, cutting them off from civilisation, or what was left of it. To his left, there was a small town, after that, there was nothing, no one had ever ventured out further than this. Quickly he looked down, walking back to the cliff face, stumbling on the grey rocky ground. Leaning forward with his back arched he stared down at the stones.

"Get back to work!" An officer growled.

The man continued staring at the ground, immobile, his haunted eyes were glazed over. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but no words came out. A burning hot pain lanced through the man and he collapsed onto the rough shingle he'd been staring at. The officer smiled grimly and with a crack of his wrist brought the whip down again. The man lay there unmoving, his face covered by his matted hair. 'I should give up.' He thought, 'Give into the release, the freedom. There was no point in anything anymore.' He closed his eyes, trying to force back the thoughts which would destroy him, the thoughts which belong to another, a different man. They came anyway. 'You weren't always like this. You were so full of confidence, of spirit, of vengeance. What changed?' The words felt like they'd been whispered in his ear, for only him to hear. He wanted to scream for them to leaving him alone, instead, a slow small tear tickled down his worn face, leaving a wet track as it dropped from his hollowed cheek. Time seemed to suspend as this one singular drop fell, dropping to the stone ground and puffing up dust. The whip cracked a third time.

The officer smiled; baring his vicious teeth, before walking away. He would be off duty soon. 'Just in time,' he thought looking up at the ominous heavens, threatening to release a torrent at any moment. The officer scratched his chin and kept walking, not sparing a glance behind at the man he'd whipped or the others who had watched. They pretended not to, but how could they not watch? He carried on walking, intent on being able to get into shelter the moment his shift was over. He hated the rain; the bone chilling wetness of it, it shook him at his very core. He'd never known why.

He smirked, turning his mind to happier thoughts; the new barmaid. She'd tried avoiding him, the last few times he'd been, but he got what he wanted eventually, willingly or not. He walked along, thinking of her long black hair and full chest, she would be good sport. He was completely oblivious to the eyes following his retreat. Not the eyes of the whipped man, but of another; barely visible, standing above the whipped man. His dark eyes blazed, his light brown hair was cropped immaculately and his face clear and smooth, he looked completely out of place to everyone around him.

The whipped man looked up, seeing a man stood over him. He looked around dazed and confused, no one else noticed the man, his vision blurred and everything went black. The heavens parted. The cold rain mixed with the warm blood trickling down the man's back. The lacerations would heal with time and join the other scars that littered his body; displayed for all to see. Workers were given trousers and sometimes could scavenge a shirt from the dead or steal them. The whipped man had had no protection against the whip, not even the little amount a shirt would have offered.

The incorporeal man stared down at the pitiful wretch, "Is this your freedom?" He whispered. A few people looked up, hearing a voice echoing along the cliff wall, reverberating around in the craters. The man watched as they returned to their work, quarrying stone in the rain; they still had work to do. The man would most likely be left there, unless he got up himself, he'd be robbed too, no doubt. The figured looked down at the silent man.

'We choose our destinies, old friend.' A deep voice rumbled, followed by a heartfelt laugh, which was soon joined by another. The corporal man shook his head, pushing the memory away. 'Surely the wretch must remember?' He paused, 'Was this really my fault?' Lost in thought, he'd wandered from the wretches' body; it would be safe until the night grew late. He was following the path the officer had taken. The rain grew heavier, it thundered through the man, having no effect on him. Behind him the rain soaked the slaves; who didn't dare to complain. The guards grumbled and cursed, stamping their feet irate at being left out here. If anyone stepped an inch out of line, they would get the same treatment as the whipped man. These cowed creatures; the slaves, they fear the guards, they fear the others, they fear themselves, but they kept breathing and moving, there was a small freedom in that.

~*~

Inside a hot stuffy tavern, the worries of rain forgotten, the officer sat, with a tankard in front of him, he was eyeing the pretty barmaid, she'd been more resistant that any before. He liked that, it was more fun that way, licked his lips at the thought and took a swig of mead. Before he stood and ascended the stairs, nodding to a group of men along the way; his subordinates. He'd tried public scenes before, they were often interesting, but the vulnerability of privacy was more exciting. He closed the rooms' door behind him and walked over to the window, looking out onto the rain sodden world. In a few minutes, she'd be here; she'd be his. He sat down on the bed and looked up smiling as the door opened.

The barmaid walked up the stairs slowly, the soft thud of her foot on each one, seemed to seal her fate. At the top of the stairs she steeled herself; looking down at the men below. Resist and your friends die, resist and you die. It was always the same, she'd wondered at the originality of it, but stayed her thoughts. It was happening again, why did it always happen wherever she went? A thought niggled at her, 'You chose to come here.' She closed her eyes, calming herself, before walking along the corridor, out of the view of the slimy eels below. Reaching out with a pale shaking hand she opened the door. The officer sat on the bed, leering at her, making her want to gag. She entered the room shutting the door behind her; why me? Resolute with her fate, she walked over to the bed and sat down on the heavy mattress. She looked over at the man and screamed. The eels flew upstairs and yanked open the door. The officer was sitting in the bed, a massive grin on his face and a tankard of mead in his hand. There was only one problem; his head was on the floor by the window, frozen in its smile.

The ghost of a man watched from outside the window, his expression unreadable, 'Typical humans, they believed what they wanted and ignored what they couldn't explain, but he supposed that was their freedom'. His dark eyes still smouldering, he turned away from the room and slowly made his way back to the whipped man. 'We each choose our own destiny. Oh, how true those words would ring. So tell me old friend, why do you not remember the words you once spoke, when you counselled kings?' The figure looked down at the poor man. The wretch was dreaming; dreaming of happier, simpler times. This seemed to happen more and more often now, he'd find shelter in those memories, but also a burning longing, which ate at him more than anything else, did.

"Wake up." A voice whispered in his head. "Is this truly what you desire?"

He gave no answer.

"This is not what the others would want."

He wanted to scream at them to go away, to leave him, to leave him alone.

"They would not want to see you like this; they would rather die their deaths tenfold than see this."

'I couldn't save them.' He thought.

"Is this what you want?"

The man opened his eyes staring at the grey wall of the cliff; everything was a muted grey here. It was uncared for by life, but death had abandoned it too. The words kept circling his skull, they tore at him, threatening to wreck the fragile defences he'd erected. It was better not to care, wasn't it? Caring hurt. It made you weak. It was impossible to live with feelings here. 'You could avenge them.' He paused, what an unfeasible thought. Did his thoughts know how precarious his position was? He sat up his back hurting; the welts cracked, blood and rain still mixed. Lifting his head to the heavens, he left the cool rain wash his face clean, the others had all left now, leaving him to come back alone or die. They didn't care.

"You were different from the others." A voice said.

Turning his head, the wretch stared at the wisp of man, his eyes narrowing into slits.

"Peace, old friend. I am merely watching and waiting."

'You will have a long wait'. The wretch thought looking out towards the barren plains.

The incorporeal man stared at the immobile wretch, before slowly fading from view. The man sat, staring into nothing, his gaze turned toward the exposed horizon. Silver tears fell down his carved cheeks, dropping to the sodden ground below; mixing with the warm metallic blood and cold clear rain. The pounding water pelting a lone broken man.

« Last Edit: July 22, 2011, 08:08:05 PM by Azrael. »
What is a man but the sum of his memories?
We are the stories we live!
The tales we tell ourselves!

They called me mad.
I called them mad.
Damn them!
They outvoted me!

It is absurd to divide people into good and bad.
People are either charming or tedious.

Offline psuppak

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Re: July Writing Challenge
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2011, 09:00:36 AM »
This can be a spark for a story. I don't know. But I sure know know that creative writing in a non-native language can be such challenge.

Is it okay to post this for the critics to? Or should I wait until the voting is over?
------
The Fey

We are all bound. Trapped and confined in a little box we call flesh. Surrender to the strong current we call emotion. We give in to the power of hunger, lust, and fear. Other stimulants, oh, so manipulative they move us like twisted puppeteers. Our souls so weak it become entombed in the eggshell of life.

So who am I to talk about freedom?

I asked myself when the wind kissed lightly on my cheek. The misty air leaves the smell of rain everywhere as the curtains danced along the breeze, leading my eyes to see beyond the window to the purple sky encrusted with the sparkles of thunder. Doi Suthep was there. The mountain stood firm and tall and shrouded in gray mist like the land of fantasy.

My cell rang the tune I kept special for someone, for me to readily answer.

“Hey, what’s up Tara?” I greeted my classmate, a friend. Knowing the word was useless once I heard the voice. The sob, per se. This was repetitive to the point of annoyance. I should have hung up by now, but the power stronger than a rational decision left me listen like an idiot.

“Dan, I want you to witness something to—to tell him” Tara sobbed tragically. “Could you come see me at the Ang-Kaset, please?”

And just like that, I hopped on my motorbike and left like every single time she called.

Thunder roared above me. I clutched the metal chain around my neck nervously. The Ang-Kaset is a reservoir lay at the base of the mountain that towered above the college we were in. Usually it was just a mountain. Today I felt like it was a giant magnet as I rumbled my monster up the slippery hill, splashing mud everywhere. I could not turn back.

For Tara, I would never be free.

 Tears fall from heaven again when I parked my motorbike at the reservoir. Tara was there, standing tall at the edge of the water. Gray mist surrounded the air, and the fume of soil fungi rose so thick that I felt buried alive.

She was pretty, prettier than I would imagine talking to her. Being there in the normal clothing she wore, she looked aloof and sad like a lost angel. Her expression determined. Her dark hair fluttered in the wind. Her feet a few inches from water. If the gust picked up, I was not sure she could stay on the edge.

“Tara!” I shouted. “What are you doing?”

“I am freeing myself.” Tara said, didn’t even meet my eyes. “I don’t want to see Warren anymore. I could not stand that he left me.” She trembled. “I don’t want to see him—to be close to him and know he would never be mine. It’s so much pain. I can’t…” 

“It will go away, these feelings.” I replied for the hope she would step back. “I understand how you feel, but you should not do this”

 She turned to look at me, and laughed. “You said this?” Her eyes turned cold. “Dan, you would never understand. I cannot stop thinking about him. I can’t live without him. Dan, I am a prisoner. And now I have a chance to set myself free.

Tell Warren I will always love him, and this is the punishment.”

Then she dropped into the cold clear surface of the reservoir, and disappeared.

The wind rose, the rain picked up, and I heard someone screaming in the distance before realizing the scream was coming from my own mouth.

My shirt was off. I felt the cold rain against my body. The wind pierced through my skin. The metal pendant dangled on my bony chest like it was trying to stop me. Before I knew, my entire body was engulfed in the water.

I felt like I fell through to another world. The water was freezing and the cold temperature pierced my skin like thousand blades made of ice. There were weird noises. Besides the muffled sound of the rain whipping against the surface of the water, I heard something like symphony of whispers and howls echoed around the dark surface. The current tucked my legs playfully, and then firmly pushed me backward. I tumbled but still trying to look for Tara. The friend, the classmate, and yet, the unrequited love of my life.

And then everything went white.

A strong power busted my stomach so high I flew over the water. The musky air violently forced its way in my lung. Before I could get the hold of myself; my back hit the rocky shore of the reservoir. The impact sent me rolling in pain. My eyes still burned by the light I saw.

A weird sensation moved through my foot, so I blinked and my eyes came to focus. I realized I came to see the most horrific scene I had ever seen before in my life.

The shores and the edges of Ang-Kaset were covered in brown carpet—kelp? No, they were moving. Leeches. Millions of giant leeches slithered up the water and crawled everywhere onto the forest beyond. They are about the size of my thumb and as long as my index finger. One end vacuumed on the surface while the other end slapped angrily at the air, finding the direction to go. Their bright mustard colored stripes stretched and shrunk as they progressed forward. I looked as their shiny, succulent muscles brushed pass my unprotected torso. I felt the air pop as it attached and released my body, and I was surprised that they did not bury their hook-like fangs to suck my blood dry like they were supposed to do.

I often hiked on forest trails, and in the rainy tropical mountain like Doi Suthep, leeches were very common. Yes, they sucked blood, but they had no harm besides leaving a coin shaped scar on you with an annoying wound that would not stop bleeding for a day. Unlike their small kin, these giant leeches just crawled away as fast as possible, like they were running away from something horrid.

I stood up with hardship, looked up, and understood why.

At the middle of the reservoir, the crate cracked deep on the water surface. The water boomed, swirled, and twisted like a giant meteor just fell on it. My ears popped and all the hair on my neck stood up regardless of how wet it was. I felt the chill creeping up my spine; not very sure it was just another slug or truly my fear.

Then terrible things flew of the water.

Giant bugs that were not supposed to be underwater crawled up the shore, their legs spiked with sharp tentacles. Snakes with glowing eyes made their ways into the forest. Bats, a size of a rooster, burst through the surface. Their screech penetrated my ears. The grim creatures that I had never seen before stumbled above the water surface, soaked by the rain staring longingly at the forest.

In the middle of all creatures, one beautiful body floated. It looked fragile, but there were power radiating from it. It was her, Tara, with the dark butterfly—no, moss wings spreading across the water on both sides of her shoulder. Her eyes glowed bright green.

She waved her hands, and all the leeches evaporated to thin air. Then she turned to me.

Tara was beautiful, but as I met her illuminated eyes at the moment, I felt the tuck in my chest—like someone just grabbed my heart and clenched. The creature there, with Tara form, was unbelievably gorgeous that I could not look away. The metal chain around my neck dangled slowly, before it slipped off my neck and fell through the rocky mud. It bounced off the shore and into the water. I knew it was important—a gift from Tara, but I did not care.

“Free, at last.” The sweetest voice in the world came from Tara’s mouth, but it was not her voice. The sound was resonating, like the sound of glass bells, lyres, and wind. The air was filled with the smell of wild flowers: jasmine, tuberose, magnolia. The rain stopped altogether, but the sky was still eerily dark. “I thank you, young man, for such delicious sacrifice.” The green glow billowed off her mouth as the creature spoke. Then Tara’s lips stretched into a smile.

My heart skipped a beat. I was very pleased to make her happy. I wanted to do more, anything—everything to make her happy. I wanted to see more of her smile, to have her smile for me for the rest of my life.

“Now it is time I have fun in this world once again.” Said the voice. “Farewell, young man, you will make a good meal.” The butterfly wing swatted the air with force, sending Tara’s body thirty feet in the air. In no time, the creature disappeared into the thick canopy, leaving me standing alone, injured, and confused.     

The last thing I saw was a shadow casting over me. A talon ripped to my bare chest. The pain shot through my brain, then everything went black.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 07:47:10 AM by psuppak »
If you have not, smile.

Offline Shanothaine

Re: July Writing Challenge
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2011, 09:25:12 AM »
Hello everyone! Once again, thanks for the great platform where we can share our stories. I'm loving the entries thus far for this month!

Fair warning: this might prove a bit disturbing for sensitive readers and/or children. My intention was not to shock or offend, but the events are crucial to the growth of the character.

Here goes!

SEPHIEL OF WHISPERSONG // 1810 words


Sephiel gazed out over the west as the sun descended into the vast ocean of trees, casting shadows and gilding canopies that rose high enough to touch the last rays of the day. Above her, the stars made their appearance, arriving one by one until she could see the constellations she had come to know.
There, she thought, is Kalaen and Luatyr, lovers holding each other knowing that when the morning comes, they will have to part once more. In the south the Serpent coiled, its fangs glaring. The stellar glare danced in its eyes as they gazed into the heavens. A warm breeze took up and threw about her robes, and brought with it the subtle sounds of the Academy behind her.
She had lived here all thirteen years of her life, nestled in the mountains of the east, looking out over the great forests and expansive plains to the north. Shaer Indenil, the Alabaster Tower, was where Sephiel spent her life, learning the ways of the ancient order of Spellsingers, devoting her life to the goddess Kalaen. She had never set foot beyond the steep walls of the Academy – the evangels of the Goddess were to serve from their sanctuaries alone.
Glancing up once more, she saw that the moon had finally come to join her children in the night sky. The milky light consumed the forest, which had driven the final beams of sunlight into the west, and was now washed by the opalescent hues of the evening. As she stood there, the winds spoke to her and she turned her gaze to the north: A company of riders made their way across the vast plains; a host of men on horseback were travelling across the fields. Yet they were far away, and Sephiel turned lazily to retreat for the night, and forgot about them completely.

Sephiel’s chambers were small, but comfortable. In a corner, a fire was gently crackling in the hearth, and streaks of moonlight danced through the latticed window. An oak carving of the goddess Kalaen stood in stark beauty on a small table and a censer breathed languid wisps of incense smoke into the cool night air.
Yet for all the comforts of her room, Sephiel could not sleep. She tossed about her bed, dreading the dark of the night. Her blonde hair was cold with sweat, and she could feel tears preparing to spill from her cerulean eyes.
The distinct click of her door latch drew a gasp from her small body, no more than a whinge muffled by the thick evening. The door slowly opened, and the familiar rustle of robes seemed to fill her senses. Sephiel closed her eyes.
Please, Goddess. Please, not tonight.
Sephiel heard material falling – no doubt the robes. Extra weight made itself onto her bed. Its wood creaked in agony.
She could smell him. The sweet wine on his breath washed over her, nauseated her. His hand stroked her face lightly. She opened her eyes.
“Please,” she managed to say, but it was barely audible. His eyes were bloodshot, and a dark grimace was drawn across his face.
“Shhh, little one,” he croaked. He drew away her sheets.
“Please,” she repeated in a whisper.
“Enough,” he placed his one hand firmly over her mouth, and slid the other up her night dress.
Sephiel whimpered in anguish. He jerkily took off her clothes, exposing her.
She lay there, powerless as the Chancellor of Shaer Indenil raped her. Again.
When he eventually finished, her face was stained with tears. He didn’t even look at her as he left her room and locked her door.
Sephiel curled herself up, and let the tears come until she fell into an uneasy sleep.

The clarion ring of the night tower’s bell jerked Sephiel from her nightmare. She could hear footsteps outside of her door, but a look out the window told her it was still deep night. Someone pulled on her door.
“Sephiel! Unlock your door. We must leave!” It was the voice of Dandrith, one of the student prefects.
“I... I can’t! It’s locked from the outside.” She called to him as she quickly dressed.
“Blood of Tiral,” she could hear him say, followed by a quick songspell. The door came flying open.
“No time for a locksmith, I’m afraid,” Dandrith said with a smile as he came into her room. “Come,” he extended his hand.
Sephiel took it, and grasped tightly. The warmth from his muscled hands seeped into her bones immediately.
“You’ve been crying, Sephy,” he said.
“Don’t worry. What’s going on?”
“The Academy’s under attack. Dean Aleria has called for all the students to go to her rectory. Now come!”

Sephiel and Dandrith ran with great haste through the dormitory, to the western tower. All around them, older Spellsingers made their way to the east, to the front gate of Shaer Indenil. Sephiel couldn’t help but notice the swords and staves these Spellsingers carried, and the anxiety in their eyes.
“Dan, what’s happening?” she asked as they ran.
“I’m not sure – but I heard one of the sentinels shout something about a Salda war party.” A chill ran through Sephiel as she heard this. The Salda were a rumour; a threat often spoken about yet never seen. What are they doing here? She thought.
As they ascended the stairway to the Dean’s rectory, a great tremor travelled through the building, throwing them to the ground. Screams could be heard from behind them.
Sephiel gave a cry, but was quickly pulled up by Dandrith into a hug.
“No time for this, Sephy,” he whispered into her ear as his muscled arms tightened around her, then he continued up the stairs.
The Dean’s door stood open, yet there were two Spellsingers standing guard at the door.
“I found her,” Dandrith said hastily as they came to the door. Sephiel could see a wave of relief wash over the guards’ faces as they let them pass through. Inside the rectory, about twenty students were already gathered.
“Thank the gods,” Dean Aleria said as she saw Sephiel and Dandrith. “And thank you, Dandrith.” She gave him a curt nod.
Aleria stood regally behind her table, her white robes flowing from her body. As the dean, she was responsible for the safety of the students at Shaer Indenil, and she took her charge very seriously.
“I am afraid the walls of the Academy have been breached,” she began. The students around Sephiel gave each other nervous glances before Aleria continued, “A message has already been sent to the capital, and help should arrive soon,” she paused, looking Sephiel in the eye, “but for now, we need to get you to safety. We,” she motioned to Dandrith and to other prefects, “will lead you from Shaer Indenil, into the mountains. From there, we will make our way to the capital.”
The students all burst out at once, yelling questions in fear.
“Hush,” Aleria said with a lifted hand, and they fell quiet, “Now is not the time for discord. You will do as you are told. Follow us.”
Aleria made her way to the back of the rectory. She pulled aside a tapestry to reveal a passage way leading down into darkness. One of the prefects followed her, and then the students. Dandrith came up to Sephiel, and took her hand in both his.
“Don’t be afraid, Sephy,” he said with a comforting voice, and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Now come, let’s get you to safety.”
The trek down the passageway was tedious but undisturbed. After about half an hour, they emerged from a hidden door at the bottom of the western tower, away from the main conflict. Yet they could hear the screams of their allies and the clash of steel on steel. They continued around the tower unnoticed towards a side gate to the complex, but the group was suddenly intercepted by a dozen Salda soldiers.
Not wasting any time, Dean Aleria began a songspell, and a battle ensued. However, Sephiel would not witness it, for Dandrith grabbed her by the hand and dashed away with her. In his other hand, he held a package covered in leather.
“Sephy, listen to me,” he said to her once they were hidden behind a large statue, “take this.” He handed her the package. “You must get this to the capital. Do you understand me?” Sephiel nodded, confused.
“But you’re coming with me, right?” she looked into his grey eyes. “Dan, you’re coming with me?” She trailed off as she saw the look in his eyes.
“Run along the wall until you get to the stables. Take a horse and ride. The stars will guide you. Do you understand me?” Sephiel couldn’t manage a response. “Sephy, please, do you understand me?”
“Yes, I...” she was interrupted as he kissed her. His warm lips seemed to melt her fear, if only for a moment, then he got up.
“Run,” he said as he drew a short sword from his belt, “run!”

The stables were right in front of her, but there were three Salda soldiers blocking her way. They didn’t notice her – they were preoccupied with the single Spellsinger in front of them.
The Chancellor, Sephiel thought as she saw his face. Fear flooded her. There stood her rapist, surrounded by enemies. She could help him – surprise the Salda with an attack from behind. She wasn’t trained in full warsong yet, but she knew a couple of fundamental battlesongs. She began to recite the song in her head, but stopped.
I will not help you.
She watched in silence as they fought, the Chancellor dispatching of one, then two Salda. The third circled him warily. Then, in a flash of steel, they came together, blood gushing from both. The Salda collapsed to the floor, and the Chancellor fell to his knees. Red came rushing from his mouth.
This was her chance. Sephiel dashed across the small clearing towards the stable.
“Sephiel!” the familiar voice called to her, and she looked around in trepidation, “Sephiel, please... I can’t sing a healsong – I’m too weak.” The Chancellor looked straight at her, his eyes pleading.
Sephiel looked at him intently. She knew every line of his face with repulsive familiarity. She spat at him, and turned towards the stable.

Only when her steed had carried her far from the Academy did she stop to look at it. In the distance, Shaer Indenil shone like a star, flames lashing out from the towers. For a moment she simply looked, and whispered a single word into the night air before she urged her horse to continue.
“Dandrith...”
Then she was free – free from the Salda, free from the Academy, free from her molester. But Sephiel would never quite be free from the man she loved.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 02:33:00 PM by Shanothaine »
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