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Author Topic: June Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!  (Read 16549 times)

Offline Autumn2May

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June Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!
« on: June 03, 2011, 03:51:26 AM »
'Tis the season for a summer storm!


Image by rrobertsphoto

Summer is a time of extreme weather.  High heat and massive thunderstorms bringing rain, hail, tornados, and sometimes even morphing into hurricanes!  In the world of fantasy the weather can be a malevolent force manipulated by the powers of evil, used by the gods to smite their enemies, or simply a wild card controlled by none and feared by all.

This month’s challenge is to write a short story or scene that involves a storm.
It could be a thunderstorm, a rainstorm, a hurricane, or maybe in your universe it rains frogs, whatever floats your boat.

The rules are as follows:

1. Must be prose.
2. 1,500 - 2,000 words.
3. Must include a storm and some element of fantasy.

The contest is now closed!  And the winner is:

Shanothaine!

Congratulations to our winner!
« Last Edit: August 01, 2011, 03:19:33 PM by Autumn2May »

Offline MTMaenpaa

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Re: June Writing Challenge
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2011, 06:44:26 AM »
I'm in, if only for an excuse to work on something different.
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Offline Autumn2May

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Re: June Writing Challenge
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2011, 02:24:17 PM »
Talked to at least three other people on Twitter who will be trying this one out.  And I am in as well!  Should be some tough competition this month! :)

Offline Tiffany Kysis Tackett

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Re: June Writing Challenge
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2011, 02:38:25 PM »
Oh hey, I can actually keep in the world of my WIP and do this one, which is kind of cool.  The whole first scene is heavy storm action (well, first scene of chapter 1, and no, I won't use it, I'd feel horrible for that). XD

Offline Ixtila

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Re: June Writing Challenge
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2011, 02:12:52 AM »
I have a great storm scene in my book, but that would be cheating, it's already written :-\

Offline Overlord

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Re: June Writing Challenge
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2011, 08:10:45 AM »
I'm going to enter this month I think :)
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Offline Shanothaine

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Re: June Writing Challenge
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2011, 09:02:52 AM »
I'm TOTALLY in ;D

Just one question - where do we submit?
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Offline Autumn2May

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Re: June Writing Challenge
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2011, 02:53:32 PM »
I'm TOTALLY in ;D

Just one question - where do we submit?

You sumbmit right here. :)  Just post your entry as a new reply. :)

Offline Shanothaine

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Re: June Writing Challenge
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2011, 04:07:45 PM »
I'm TOTALLY in ;D

Just one question - where do we submit?

You sumbmit right here. :)  Just post your entry as a new reply. :)

Why thank you :D Will be posting soon!
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Offline Funky Scarecrow

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Re: June Writing Challenge
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2011, 04:36:10 PM »
I wrote this a couple of days ago, but totally forgot to submit it until seeing the the June Writing Challenge on the front page.

For the sake of full disclosure, the first two paragraphs and an outline for this already existed as part of an attempt at writing a pulp fantasy adventure novel, from which the character in this story was excised when I trimmed it down from 7 POV characters to just one, meaning the actual writing of it only took place a few nights ago. (Saturday, I think)

Warning! Contains some pretty salty language.

##########
A BAD DAY FOR SYLVAIN BUDET (word count 1637)

We all come into this world naked, but Sylvain Budet was damned if he was going to leave it in the same condition. He lay very still, trying to breath quietly while all around him the sounds of the B'harak hunting party carried to him on the still night air, trying to gauge their distance from him by the collection of clicks and whistles the B'Harak communicated in. He thought about just rearing up and charging at the first one to show itself but, as startling as the sight of a bare-arsed Galician covered in mud, blood, bruises and leaves would be, he'd only get the first one or two of them before the others found the range with those sharpened sticks they used as spears, and, as much as he enjoyed a brawl with some Birdbrain fucks, getting killed would be one of the three worst things that had happened to him today.

Sylvain he told himself, at least it's not raining.

The distant sound of thunder from the direction of the mountains broke the threatening silence of the woods he was hiding in. He looked at the ominously starless sky above him.

By the milky tits of Saint Sophie, God, why must you keep fucking me like this?

The day had started, like all good days do, with wine for breakfast and pretty young recruit who knew exactly what do with those slender little fingers, and sweet Saviour, that boy could wiggle his fingers in way that would make a statue of Saint Marcel the Abstinent fire like an over-primed cannon, but things weren't destined to remain so pleasant. The chit had barely got his mouth working when that shiftless bastard Corporal Huard had barged in and informed Sylvain that there had been a swathe of people coming down with dysentery, and his rest day was cancelled since he appeared to be the only one in his squadron without the exploding shits.

Two hours later, he was on patrol with some idiotic lightfoot from the 17th Foot who insisted on pointing his musket at the slightest noise; at least a dozen songbirds would have died uncalled for deaths if Sylvain had allowed the youngster to load his weapon. As it was, Sylvain's was the only weapon ready to go in the deeply unlikely event that any of Duc D'Orphelaine's men were actually out here.

Things looked to be brightening up as the afternoon wore on and the lightfoot appeared to be actually listening to what Sylvain was saying to him. The youngster was stepping lighter, never looking in a direction his weapon wasn't pointing in and learning, albeit slowly, the difference between a songbird in the undergrowth and a hundred enemies trying to sneak up behind him. He was showing serious promise, right up until the moment the spears burst from the undergrowth and skewered him in five or six different places.

Sylvain had fired blindly into the direction the most spears had come from and started sprinting forwards as quickly as he could. He yelped a bit at the sound of something hitting his back, but the lack of pain and the stench of rotting meat told him it was only a huntmark. He felt no wetness on his neck, so stripped out of his jacket as he ran, before deciding to get rid of the undershirt and trousers as well, in case any had soaked through or splashed. He stopped to pull his trousers off, but as he reached down to retrieve his gear afterwards, the sounds of pursuit grew entirely too close for comfort, so he abandoned the pack, settling for the musket and bayonet as the only things worth carrying. It was only when he was off and running again that he remembered about his powder and shot being in his satchel. Now, several hours later, he was here; lying in some bushes with no keks on while some beetle tried to make its way up his-

What in the Nine Hells? He clenched as hard as he could, but either he was losing muscle as he got older or that beetle was very determined. He gritted his teeth and kept himself tensed. A man had limits and that insect was testing his sorely.

The rumble of thunder even closer than before signalled the start of the rain, he heard it drumming against the canopy for almost a minute before the first droplets began to splatter on his back. Sylvain tried not to growl or swear in irritation and focused on the sound of the clicks and whistles of the pursuing B'Harak. One of them sounded close to him, very close indeed; maybe a few yards in front of him if he was guessing correctly. He slitted his eyes and started to pray.

Just this once, God, Saint Patrice or any one of you uppity bastards, just this once give me something I can use.

As if in answer to his angry devotions, lightning flashed and Sylvain saw one of his enemies for the first time since this whole mess had started. The bare feet, with the knees jointed backwards were unmistakeably B'Harak. He waited for a few seconds until the rain became more fierce and rose to his feet with musket in hand and stepped towards the creature. Lightning flashed again, illuminating a B'Harak facing him, with beak opened wide as if to summon help. He thrust his bayonet forward hard at collar height. A squelch and a wet rasping sound told him he'd hit his mark, and as the wind picked up he timed his movements with the whipping of the branches and ferns as he moved away from the still twitching B'Harak.

How many spears did you count? Five? Six? Reckon on eight at least. You're going to die, you know?

Lightning ignited the sky again as Sylvain moved, and a series of piercing whistles and chirps told him he'd been spotted. He ran again, trying to ignore the pain in his feet and the lacerations all over his body where the barley visible undergrowth flayed at his skin. A hint of movement to his right, little more than a patch of moving shadow and he threw himself to the ground, feeling the unmistakeable sensation of skin tearing as the spear scraped his back. Rising back to his feet he roared with the pain from both his shoulder and from the wrenching of his knee as he clambered awkwardly back to his feet. He threw himself at the barely distinguishable shape of the birdlike creature that had wounded him. He lashed out with the bayonet, a whipping motion from right to left, then thrust backhanded at stomach height on the back-swing and was rewarded with a scream as loud as any he'd heard. He replied with a scream of his own.

“Fuck you all!” he bellowed into the wounded B'Harak's limply flapping beak. “You think you can kill me?”

Screaming again with all his might, he raised his musket above his head and swung his head from side to side, hoping to catch sight of something, anything, he could kill. The blue half light of the lighting showed him all the killing he could possibly want. Nine B'Harak staring at him, spears raised for hand to hand fighting. He laughed, a great, shaking belly laugh and prepared himself to take three or four birdbrains into the eighth hell with him, assuming birdbrains went to the same hell as buggerers.

He charged into the mass of B'Harak, bayonet slashing left and right, but none of his blows landed on anything and nothing struck him. He paused, wondering if they had moved aside or if he'd gotten turned around in the darkness. The lightning once more flashed, showing him the backs of nine B'Harak running for their lives.

I know I'm impressive when I'm naked, but that seems excessive. Oh, wait. I know how this goes. As he turned around, he saw lights swinging in the air, not six feet behind where he'd been standing.

A patrol! Saint Cecilie's gash, my luck is finally turning. Maybe this prayer business has something to it after all.

He walked towards the lights, waving and shouting to make sure they knew he was human, before he stepped into the puny circle of illumination the storm lamps provided. It would be very embarrassing to get shot by his own side after everything else that had happened today. As he stepped into the light, he heard a familiar voice.

“Budet, is that you? What the fuck are you doing chasing Birdbrains around in the nuddie?”

“Franc! By Saint Mikael's bollocks, you're a sight for sore eyes. I'd have had eleven dead Birdbrains on my conscience if you hadn't turned up.”

“Course you would. And I'm fucking the the Duc's daughter.”

“Twice nightly and once in her gob, I hope.”

“Piss off, Budet. I've just saved that baggy arsehole of yours and you know it. You still with D'Bressan's Grenadiers?”

“I am. You've left the Chicken Thieves, though. That doesn't look like a Von Schwarzwald uniform.”

“That's 'cos it ain't. I'm with D'Orphelaine now. Offered to double the wage of any rifleman who signed on, so I resigned and crossed the lines.” Sylvain stared at him, not quite believing what he was hearing.

“Fuck off, Franc.” Franc nodded.

“I've got to take you in, Sylvain. Sorry.”

“Not enough men, Franc.”

“There's six of us, with dry powder, and you're bollock naked with a soaking musket.”

Sylvain looked at the sky, the stars beginning to peak through the clouds where the summer storm was breaking up as quickly as it had arrived. He started laughing again.

Sylvain, when the saints fuck you, they like to do it hard.
##########

Apologies for the formatting, but single spaced lines in a paragraph and double spaces for indicating paragraph breaks is the only way to avoid solid walls of text on an internet forum and the width of the pages makes paragraphs look shorter than really are.

I just hope you enjoy reading about foul mouthed, quasi-French, homosexual berserkers, because if you don't, I'm going to look awfully out of place with this one. :D
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Offline Shanothaine

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Re: June Writing Challenge
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2011, 07:25:13 PM »
Here we go! It's a bit abstract and all, hope you like it :D

***

IMARIN OF STARFALL [1671 words]

A crystalline flake drifted down in front of her face.
 
Slowly, she pulled her fur-lined cloak tighter around her body. A strand of carmine hair was swept out from under her cape, lashing through the wind.

“Not long now,” she whispered.

Her emerald eyes were focused on the eastern horizon. The setting sun would soon cast its last waves of orange over the fields, illuminating the land with its last breath. A thin sheet of snow had already ensnared the plain – a sign that winter would be early this year.

She stood alone on one of the many hillocks strewn across the Errian Wake – a plain stretching for miles in all directions, from the Thallusian shores to the Birithron kingdom. Yet she was unperturbed by the vastness of the area; her quarry would not escape her. She had been on their trail for three days – she had caught their scent in Vinrem and followed them south.

A wind caught up behind her, blowing about her brown robe. The copse of birch trees around her provided little shelter from the gust – they had long since shed their leaves in sacrifice to the gods. She touched one of them, allowing the cold of the trunk to course through her fingers. With her other hand, she clutched the silver pendant shaped as a tree dangling around her neck. Her emerald eyes closed in reverence.

“Great mother, give me strength.” Her words escaped as puffs of steam, the cold quickly settling as the last attempts of sunlight vanished.

Her emerald eyes shot open, an unearthly light glaring from them. On the horizon, she saw them – three travellers, bent under the force of a stray wind, their cloaks huddled tight around them. They were at least three miles away; no bigger than the nail of her thumb from where she was standing.

It mattered not.

Slowly, she reached behind her back, her hand coiling around the familiar shape of her bow. She was in no hurry – they had no idea she was even following them. The slender weapon was long and slightly curved, in the way of the Lindel grovemasters, and adorned with an intricate silver filigree. As she brought up the bow, her right hand reached for one of the swan feather arrows in her quiver. Elegantly she strung it, the bow effortlessly responding to her pull.

She could feel the muscles in her arms tense, a cloud of anticipation building up inside her. The delicate tattoos that covered her bow arm remained still as the skin pulled tight.
Her eyes were fixed on her prey, moving slowly against the wind.

Athura lethian,” she whispered. The tattoos on her arm slowly began moving, an undulating wave of designs and images creeping, weaving, hissing. The sibilant noise emanating from them drowned out all sound for a moment. A feint light coursed through them – the same silvery light that now beamed from her eyes and pulsed from the bow’s filigree. Her markspell had been cast.

The arrow left its perch, leaving a shimmer of silver dust in its wake. It would not miss – Imarin never missed.

Steadily, Imarin lay down her bow, all the while keeping her eyes fixed on the arrow. It moved with ferocity, cutting the air with its platinum tip. With the flick of a finger, she undid the clasp keeping her cloak around her body. As it fell, plumes of snow danced about it.

Imarin’s body tensed momentarily at the shock of the cold, adjusting to the wind. Her fine leather armour proved to be less resistant to the imminent winter than she had anticipated. Her long, red hair danced wildly about her tanned body; the tattoos, restricted to her left arm, continued moving.

And all the while, her eyes were fixed on the arrow.

Blood. Even from here, she could see it staining the white snow. The moment it spilled, Imarin leapt forward. She ran gracefully, her body flowing like a violent river across the plains.
 
Closer. Closer.

The traveller hit by the arrow was already dead; Imarin’s single shot had ripped through his jugular. She saw his companions kneel next to him, horrified. They would soon see her – but not until it was too late.

Closer. Closer.

She could smell their fear now, it was almost sickening. While still running, she drew her dual thrimm; long, beautiful, curved blades of silver with elegant ivory hilts. Her hands grasped them with admiration – she could already feel the sensation, the reward, they would give her as she killed her quarry.

But for a moment, she lapsed – she let her thoughts wander. She saw one of her targets get up with an orb dangling from a chain in his hand and heard him cast his spell.
In an instant, her quarry was engulfed in mist. She stopped in her tracks, crouching.

“Blood of Tiral,” she cursed under her breath. “This was not part of the deal.”
 
The orb had been a Stormsphere, which could only mean one thing. At least one of the two remaining targets was an Aellomancer – a storm mage. Imarin couldn’t risk entering the mist unprepared; for all she knew, it was a haze of blades sharpened to kill her instantly.

The Aellomancers were an order of great repute, and great power. Their magic allowed them not only to control the weather, but to change its very essence. This would be an interesting encounter, to say the least.

But by no means was Imarin not fit for a fight. She was, after all, the greatest of the Orlis Hunters – but never before had she faced an Aellomancer. After sheathing her thrimm, she softly put her left palm on the cold ground.

Iru vallan ramalië,” her voice was barely a whisper. Behind her, two dark shapes formed, approaching her slowly. They gave low growls as their yellow eyes looked past her, glaring into the unnatural mist.

“Do not let them escape. One has a Stormsphere – I will deal with him. Kill the other.” Imarin’s voice was soft, yet resonated with authority. Immediately, the creatures darted to the mist, their feline bodies lithely carrying them.

Imarin watched diligently – the Talari wildcats she summoned would trigger any initial defences, allowing her to slip through. If the mist was dangerous, there would be an opening around her targets – much like the eye of a storm.

She noticed that it grew exceedingly cold, and that clouds started packing above. Thunder drummed in the distance.
 
The wildcats had made it through the mist – as her own creations she could sense their lifeforce and see what they saw if she so chose. Imarin ran to them, in the middle of the mist.

The clearing was empty – only blood stained the snow. For a moment she stood, then –

“Trap!” her voice was muffled by the mist, yet the wildcats heard her. Imarin leapt into the air with inhuman agility, her body rising high above the cloud of confusion – and below her she saw flares of blue light crashing into the clearing. Immediately she knew the wildcats were dead.
 
Her leap propelled her away from the mist – as an Orlis Hunter, she was gifted with great physical prowess and dexterity.

It will take more than a mere lightning spell to dispose of me, Aellomancer, she thought as she landed softly in the snow. She scanned the surrounding fields for her quarry, her eyes flitting with great speed, scouting as quickly as possible.

“Running so soon,” she half-laughed as she saw them. The chase was Imarin’s favourite part.

Circumventing the mist, which slowly began to disperse, she set after them. Their sound of their feet crunching through the snow, their heavy breathing, their anxiety; all of it flooded through Imarin, her senses alighting with glee. As she ran, a beautiful smile drew across her face.

As they ran, the Aellomancer turned around and continued moving backwards – a windflight charm, doubtlessly. Imarin saw two balls of light form in his palms and rush towards her, yet she easily dodged them. What she failed to observe was a third bolt, which connected with her right shoulder and sent her reeling backwards.

She hit the ground hard. She looked at her shoulder, only to find most of it missing. Her arm was hanging by a few tendons. Luckily there was no blood – the Aellomancer’s spell had seared the wound shut, even as it cut through her flesh and bone.

Imarin gave a gasp as the pain started growing. She had only one option now.

Pallas. Tamor. Uroth. Ishtian. Adara.” As she spoke these words, these ancient names of power, her tattoos started moving violently. Five of the images crept down her arm, pressing into each of her fingers. Imarin watched as they edged to the fingertips, she watched in agony as they tore through her skin, birthing themselves.

One of the five creatures, nothing more than a flaring orb of light, immediately charged into her wound. Imarin could feel the pain subsiding – she saw the flesh regrow.
“Thank you, Adara,” she whispered. It almost brought her to tears to call on these, her most intimate of spells, for they could not be recrafted. They died as she used them – already there were patches of naked skin on her tattooed arm.

“The bastard used black lightning on me,” she cursed as she got up. “No more games – they die now.”

The other four creatures had quickly grown to Imarin’s size; they were lithe, beautiful creatures shaped like men, but their eyes betrayed their ethereal nature. Something dark dwelt within them. Without a word, three of them turned and sprinted in the direction of Imarin’s prey; one came over to her and kissed her passionately.

As it did so, its powerful body pressing against hers, it started to glow. The kiss continued, Imarin drinking its energy until it collapsed a husk of ash on the white snow. As she looked up, her eyes shone like diamonds.

“Rain down your storm, Aellomancer. It shall be your last.”
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Offline MindTwirl

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Re: June Writing Challenge
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2011, 04:49:48 PM »
Confused angel

Mary was looking out the window of the hospice, gasping for breath. The oxygen machine did only little to help her and the tubes assembled under her chin kept gnawing at her skin.

Cancer had a firm grip around her throat; gripping tighter, spreading wider inside her with every second. Yesterday she had stopped eating and was now just waiting for the both dreadful and yet welcoming moment; finally reuniting with her husband of sixty years.

The head nurse, Anna, entered the room with a big smile on her face:
“My dear Mrs. Morgan” she said, her voice sounding almost like a song.
“You are the lucky winner of ‘The Sunshine Hospice special wish’”.

Mary slowly lifted her head from the pillow and shook her head wearily:
 “But I don´t know what to wish for” she said in a small voice. Anna helped her adjusting the pillows as she sat up.
“You can wish to be completely well again” Anna suggested. She was a big lady with a nice round face, the big smile reaching her blue eyes.
“That one is always popular” her whole body giving a shake as she grinned loudly.
Mary was tired all the way to the bones and couldn’t even see the positive in becoming well again.
She slowly pushed her skinny legs over the side of the bed and stood up carefully like a baby just starting to walk.
“Where are you going Mrs. Morgan” Anna asked incredulously, remembering Mary hadn´t been up in months.
“I have to ask my colleagues what they would do” she said shrugging. The colleagues being the other patients on the cancer ward!

Sliding her tiny feet across the blue vinyl floor, supporting her balance by her right hand on the wall, she made her way to Alfred´s room next door.
She only knew Alfred from two or three nightly encounters in the TV-room when they both couldn´t sleep and that was a long time ago. Since then they had both been too sick to leave their beds or too depressed to bother.
Sara took a seat on a chair by his bed for a few minutes before he woke up. She glanced at his face and couldn´t believe how much his face had changed. She could tell that he had been a very handsome man and she absentmindedly tried to mend her twisted hair.
Alfred opened his eyes and slowly turned his head, looking at her.
“What do you want?” he asked angrily and Sara thought it was a bad idea to wake him up. He had been a powerful politician once and he still had the habit of frowning upon people who he thought was beneath him. Mary decided she didn´t like him very much.
“If you had one wish and you could wish anything in the world, would you wish that you were healthy again?”
He looked quizzically at her and she looked at her feet for a moment giving him a time to think.
“I most certainly would not” he scowled.
“What would you wish then?”
His angry brows seemed to be melting away at the thought in his mind and he gave a long sigh.
“Well I… I was never a good husband to my wife Emmy. I loved her so much but I couldn´t be faithful to her. One day one of my “girls” took off my wedding ring with her teeth and in the heat of the moment I didn´t notice where she put it. I didn´t remember until Emmy pointed at my finger and asked me what I had done with it”. A lonely tear came to his eye and Mary politely looked out the window where the wind had seemed to pick up speed.
“She left me that day, with a kid under each arm and I never saw them again. Wouldn´t let me come near them. I would wish for that ring to get back on my finger and then maybe they will meet me in heaven” he said with a hoarse voice.
Mary nodded and thanked him before she rose from her seat and went to see the next neighbor, Amy.

Amy was sitting in bed talking to her husband, Walther, as Mary approached them. Mary hesitated by the door and Amy waved her inside with a big smile. Mary staggered in and sat down at a vacant chair next to their two grown children.
Mary nodded to the family and told them she was sorry for interrupting and asked Amy what she would wish if she had one wish left.
Amy sighed with a big smile on her face, leaning back against the pillows.
 “I have always been happy with my life” she said with almost a whisper. A handsome and sweet husband, two wonderful children” she gestured her right hand in their direction.
 “But… I have never felt as happy as I did in my pearly white princess dress”. Her eyes gleamed at the thought and her smile now filled her whole face. “My parents were very rich and when I was sixteen or so I attended all the high society balls around the country”. She grasped her hands together in front of her and sighed heavily as she wallowed in the memory.
The youngest boy, William, began to sob quietly and the oldest, Sam, tried to comfort him by padding him on his shoulder. Walther´s face was suddenly growing very red.
Totally oblivious to the emotions around her, Amy continued “All the boys looked at me and only wanted to dance with me. My one wish would definitely be; to have that dress on me again” Amy said and looked at Mary, still smiling broadly.
Walther rose abruptly from his chair and strode out in the hallway.
Mary thanked Amy and trailed out the door as fast as her legs could carry her.

In the hallway Mary stood for a moment leaning against the wall catching her breath, thinking that this idea of hers maybe wasn´t such a good one after all. But then again if you can´t be honest to yourself and your family when you’re dying, when can you?
Walther was nowhere to be seen.
As she continued down the corridor to the last room, the big doors to the outside world suddenly flung open with an immense force. The ferocious wind swirled around the hallway as if looking for someone. “Oh please God don´t take me just yet. I have to use my wish” Mary thought to herself. A male nurse hurried over and shut the doors against the storm with a loud crash. Mary took a deep sigh of relief.

As she approached Johnny´s room, her ears was filled with chatter. Not small nice chatter like in an old folk’s home but loud annoying chatter like in the mall or some place. Already feeling a distant headache making its way up to her skull, she walked into a room crammed with people of all ages. They were everywhere; on chairs, on the floor, on the windowsill, leaning against the walls, even two kids sitting high up on a shelf. She looked around for Johnny as she strode deeper into the small room.
Far over in the corner a hospital bed stood, vacated by a man big as a bear. His face had a grayish color and he just sat there staring at the wall, no one looking at him or talking to him. They were talking around him.
A woman coughed at the sight of Mary and the room felt silent. Mary´s ears ringing in the sudden silence.
Johnny gave Mary a startled look but didn´t move a muscle.
The woman who had coughed approached with a mean quizzical look.
“Who are you” she asked with her arms folded in front of her.
“I´m a doctor” Mary lied. The woman gave her the elevator look. “You don´t look like a doctor” she replied with a smirk.
Mary yelled as high as she could and probably sounded like a mouse “I´m a sick doctor! Now I want everybody out. I need to talk to Johnny”.
The evil woman sighed “okay you heard her” she called across the room and to Mary´s relief everybody started for the door. Mary counted 9 adults and 18 children. As the last one had left the room Mary closed the door and returned to Johnny´s bed.
The big man took a deep breath and started to cry. His flesh wobbled under his heavy sobs and to Mary´s great surprise; he was laughing.
“Oh” he said his breath askew.
“Oooh thank you, thank you, thank you”. He dried his eyes with the back of one hand as he held his chest with the other.
“It´s been a looong time since I´ve taking a deep breath like this”. He smiled and a little color of red splashed all over his grey face.
“Who were all those people” Mary asked equally out of breath. She sat down beside him breathing heavily and adjusting the tubes under her chin.
“My wife, children and grandchildren” Johnny said with a sigh. “They are always here so I won´t get lonely. God bless them”. He smiled but the smile didn´t seem to reach his brown bear eyes.
Mary nodded and knew what she had to do. Her time was running out, she could feel the fierce hands around her throat, clenching tighter. She pushed Johnny´s panic button and nurse Anna came in and helped her back to her room.
“I would like to get my wish now” Mary said and Anna nodded and closed her eyes.
Mary felt something tinkle on her back, just below the shoulder blades. It felt like something growing out of her and her first thought was that the cancer was suddenly moving out of her body. But as she turned her head, looking over her shoulder, the most beautiful wings she had ever seen, sat there on her back waving at her. They were pure white and with big feathers like a lovely swan.
Nurse Anna smiled at her “we´re ready for your wish now” she whispered. “But don´t say it out loud”.
Mary rose from the bed, walking to the window. With help from the nurse, she took a step up on the windowsill. The big window was open. There was a long way down from the second floor.
The wind had now turned into a storm and the trees were dancing around in the courtyard. Mary´s hair and glasses were blown askew but she didn´t mind anymore. She closed her eyes and wished with all her heart.
Nurse Anna suddenly gripped her arm “What on earth are you doing Mrs. Morgan?” She lifted Mary down on the floor as easily as if she were a child.
“I was getting my wish. My wings…” Mary turned her head around to look at the wings, but nothing was there.
She shook her head in disbelief as Anna helped her back into bed and closed the window.
“I think we should turn down your morphine drip a little bit” Anna said “You’re clearly hallucinating”. Her smile was gone and a frown as deep as a canyon sat on her forehead like she was thinking Mary was going crazy.
“But it all happened” Mary said with a small voice. “It did”.
She looked down at her hands and couldn´t believe what her life had come to.

The hallway suddenly flooded with all Johnny´s relatives screaming and crying in horror and his bed was rolling by with the bear man in it. He was yelling and laughing so loud “I can´t hear you. I can´t hear you”.
Mary lifted her head and smiled and she felt happiness all the way down to her crooked toes for the first time in her life.

Offline deejrandom

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Re: June Writing Challenge
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2011, 01:56:05 AM »
...9 days left. I shall do my best to get my entry in on time :)

Offline kjbennett

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Re: June Writing Challenge
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2011, 09:33:10 PM »
The Badlands of Abergravan 1900 words

The bartender looked at the crumpled stranger with disdain. Here was a man who had seen the wrong side of life, and make no mistake. Shame he insisted on resting his flea-ridden beard on the counter, but a customer was a customer no matter how much wildlife he carried around with him.
   
“So, what can I get for you, my verminous friend?”

The stranger – who had crawled, rather than walked, in – scratched his hairy chin and replied, “I’m no one’s friend.” His voice was gruff and bitter sounding.

“Suit yourself, but I can hardly go around saying, ‘so what can I get for you, my verminous’, can I? That’d just be plain rude, that would.”

The stranger belched loudly, but otherwise made no reply. There was no echo; the room was made of twigs, dried grasses and mud, put about a wooden frame that looked no more sturdy than the legs of a crane fly.

“Come on, big chap, what do you want?” He sniffed. “This is a bar, you know? I can’t just have malingerers chocking up the place, resting their faces on the counter and stinking so badly that all the other customers run away.”

The man raised his head slowly, looking around the almost empty room, as if wondering where these departing customers could be. The only other beings were fleas and the bartender.

“Counter?”

“Counter.”

The bartender was proud of his counter; it was an unsightly mess, but it was his unsightly mess and no one could say otherwise.

“Come on then, oh verminous stinker who is friend to no one: what do you want?”

The man’s head slowly began to rise up. At first the barman thought it was some ungodly act of levitation, but soon he realised that the stranger was beginning to stand.

“What do I want?” mumbled the man, as if to himself. “I want my life back, that’s what I want. I want to know who stole the last few weeks; who made me do those strange things and feel those strange feelings. I want to know who that man was, and why I trusted him and called him master …” He now stood at his full height, or he would have done if the roof had been high enough to permit it. He continued, his voice rising gradually. “I want to find this man. I want to find those who assisted him to make my life a misery–” his voice grew to a roar “–and then I want to KILL – THEM – ALL!” He slammed his fist onto the countertop with his last word: the entire construction collapsed with a loud crash.

The barman, trembling, said, “And, erm, to drink?”

“ALE! GIVE ME ALE? What else would I want?”

The bartender grabbed a leather tankard and filled it from a barrel that was mounted on a stand behind what used to be the counter.

“Ale. Of course. What else? Here you are, oh huge man with attitude. I trust you will be paying for the ale ...  and the damage?”

The stranger grabbed the tankard and emptied it in one gulp.

“More!”

“Payment?” asked the bartender, shaking, as he took back the drinking vessel.

“You’ll get your due. More ale.”

Feeling calmer, the bartender refilled the tankard. Passing it back, he said, “Let’s sit. The day is young and I have no other customers. I don’t sleep until after sunrise, so you can tell me all your troubles.” He sat down on a log on the public side of the bar and indicated to a larger one nearby. The massive, hairy stranger sat and sighed. He drank again, but this time without desperation.

“Speak, my huge and sweaty non-friend. I believe you mentioned strange actions and strange feelings?”
With gleaming eyes, the stranger looked over the rim of the tankard at the bartender.

“Aye, indeed. Feelings unbefitting a man of my status: feelings of loyalty and friendship. Actions for which I was not ever going to be paid and for which I had no desire to be paid.”

“What on earth is your status, that loyalty and friendship are considered unbefitting? These are surely fine attributes for any man?”

“Any man but a soldier of fortune. MORE ALE!”
The barman got more ale, and hoped that his payment would shortly follow. He sat again.

“Surely, even a mercenary may show loyalty? Why would anyone employ you if you were incapable of it?”

“A fair but flawed point,” grunted the stranger. “Loyalty is awarded to the highest bidder – or if not the highest, the one who makes the offer of payment first. We mercenaries have a code of ethics, and working loyally for free is not in it.”

“Perhaps you are the innovator of a new code?”

“Never! The code is the code. I am no innovator; I am a criminal in the eyes of other soldiers of fortune – or I would be, if ever they find out about me before I avenge myself.”

The barman began to sense something. His stomach knotted as the merest hint of what was to become crossed his mind. Showing no outward sign of unease, he asked: “More ale, sir? Last one’s on the house.”

“Aye, more ale.”

The tankard was passed from one to the other, filled, and passed back.

“Thank you,” said the stranger. “It is good that you show me this small kindness. You may wish to know my name.”

“No, oh strange, muscly and gigantic one with the very sharp-looking weaponry. I think that is not a good idea.”

“Why ever not? You have asked after my affairs and I have confided in you. It’s fair you should know who I am.”

“No. Most kind of you, but I am a barman and I always pry into the affairs of strangers. It is the way of my kind … part of our code, if you will. I wouldn’t wish to know your name, as I wouldn’t wish to blab it unintentionally.”

The stranger rose up from his seat having drained his tankard. He cast the leather vessel to one side and stood till his head touched the straw roofing.

“There is only one like me, so I may as well introduce myself—”

“La-la-la-la-la-not-listening!” squealed the bartender, leaping up and stuffing his fingers into his ears.  

“You will listen,” shouted the large man, leaning forward and pulling the bartender’s fingers away from his ears. “My name is—”

“No! Tell me not. Your secrets are safe with me. Don’t tell me. La-la-la-la—”

“GRADZE!”

The bartender exhaled loudly. “You shouldn’t have told me.”

“I should. And now to give you your due.”

The dagger glinted momentarily in the lamp-light before piercing the bartender’s heart.

***

Gradze stepped out of the rickety building in time to see the first bolt of lightning streak across the dark sky. A second later, the thunder almost deafened him, exploding with enough force to blast him back into the bar.
   
At least there would be shelter in this place, thought Gradze, cautiously standing.

The rain began to hammer onto the straw roof. Gradze knew there was something very wrong, but a voice from behind him caught his attention: “So, what can I get for you, my verminous friend?”

Gradze shook his head and turned. The barman was standing behind his counter – the same unsightly one that Gradze had earlier demolished. Except now it was restored to its former ingloriousness.

“I am no one’s friend. And you are dead.”

The barman smiled and looked down towards the dagger, which still protruded from his ribcage.

“Oh, see what you mean. Want this back?” He pulled the dagger out and offered the blood-covered blade to Gradze. It dripped onto the countertop. “Damn.[ mst be more careful. I’ll have the Abergravan Health and Hygiene Squad on my tail if I’m not careful.” He reached under the bar and pulled out a cloth, with which the wipe away the blood.

Gradze strode over and took the dagger. “You’re dead,” he repeated through gritted, rotten teeth. “I killed you.”

“Yes. And no. And no more ale, you obviously can’t hold your drink very well.”

“I don’t understand,” gasped Gradze, flopping onto a bar stool.

“I mean, beer strong, you pissed. No more booze.”

“That bit I get. I killed you, yet I’m having a conversation with you.”

“Ok, large, voluminous and even-more-stinky-than-you-were-earlier one: Yes I am dead. No, you didn’t kill me.”

Gradze raised an eyebrow.

“And there’s a storm outside.”

“Nearly always is.”

“But the rain isn’t coming through the straw roof.”

“No, it isn’t. Good that, isn’t it? You’ve ruined this shirt, you know. Shall I add it to the list?”
Gradze sat back down at the bar. “What list would that be?”

“The list of things you have to make amends for.”

Despite the bizarre situation, Gradze guffawed. “Well there’s probably a lifetime of stuff on this list you mention.”

“Ah, good; that’s the spirit. A villain who knows where he went wrong.  Now --” He didn’t finish, due to being interrupted by the blade of Gradze’s dagger slicing his windpipe.

“I know where I went wrong, and I don’t care,” Gradze grunted, already walking towards the door.

***

The barman stood up, just in time to see Gradze being thrown back in through the door by another blast of thunder.

“So, what can I get for you, my verminous friend?”

“I am no one’s friend,” huffed Gradze, getting up from the ground. “Least of all yours.”

“You mercenary types are all the bloody same. Afraid of relationships, no matter how casual. I offer you the hand of friendship and you spurn me once again.” The barman’s voice was somewhat strange, now that it could be heard through both his mouth and the gaping gash in his neck. He realised he was still holding the cleaning cloth, and used it to plug the extra hole. “That’s better. Now, there are two things I must say to you: ouch, and ouch again. That blade really is sharp.”

Gradze sat at the bar again. “Ok. What do I have to do to leave this place?”

The barman shrugged. Blood oozed from behind the cloth. “Well, as long as I’m here talking to you, you can’t.”

“You said earlier you never went to bed before sunrise? Then is when I shall leave.”

“Two problems, there: one, I didn’t say which sunrise, and two, I can’t remember the last time it did. Sorry.”

“So when the hell do you stop talking to me?”

“That,” replied the barman, “is up to you.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning, the sooner you pay for everything, and the sooner you apologise for what you’ve done, the sooner I shut up.”

Gradze slapped his head. “Is that what this is about? Here. This is all I have.” From somewhere within his filthy clothing he retrieved a small pouch. He emptied onto the bar. “That should pay for the ale and the shirt. Can’t do much about the holes in your throat and chest, but sorry to have troubled you. Good day.”

He made for the door.

Within seconds he was blasted back into the bar room by a thunder clap.

“So, what can I get for you, my verminous friend?”

“A way out of this hell-hole,” boomed the reply.

“At last,” said the bar man. "Let’s work towards that.”

=========================================
« Last Edit: June 23, 2011, 08:01:19 PM by kjbennett »

Offline WizardofWestmarch

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Re: June Writing Challenge
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2011, 06:25:43 AM »
I was going to wait for people to review my work, then get another round of reviews, but the first people never got back to me and now my dad arrives tomorrow which means I have no idea how much time I'll be online soon until after July hits, so here goes. 1500+ words. Not gonna lie, not a fan of putting something public after only three passes, but oh well, my own fault :)


*****************Stone Sword Rising*****************

Varan hated the sight of his own blood. As he placed his wood knife back in it's sheathe, the Druid began to draw runes on the stone. Normal runes lacked the power he required, only blood would do.

As the runes he drew took shape into a larger rune, power filled the air. The magic gathered it's will and sprang forth once he completed the spell. Varan shivered even as he healed the wound with a bit of power, before he let the rest seep back into the earth he had taken it from.

Thunder shook the earth while the trees shivered in their terror at what the Druid had summoned. He sent out soothing thoughts and promises that he aimed this spell at another, not them. The trembling lessoned, but did not abate entirely.

Next Varan's spirit clawed free of his body and traveled down into the earth and reached outwards. Where are you, defiler? Time seemed to stop while he searched in this state, but, finally, the Druid found his prey.

The man hunched near a fire, the newly dead wood calling out for vengeance. Outsiders did not understand how to properly treat the sacred wood. So this man must be punished for his transgressions.

As Varan examined the man, he noticed the stone blade by his side. Sadly not one of the metal wielding infidels. Pity. Lightning hurt them so much more. Satisfied he knew how to reach the man, the Druid returned to his body, stood, and stretched to work out the kinks he felt after out of body excursions.

Rain began to patter down around Varan as he gathered up his possessions, the sound of the worlds applause for what he prepared to do. A performance requested often, and always delivered at need.

With a call to the world for aid, he set off, each footstep more sure than the last as strength flowed through him from the sacred earth. Thunder washed over the Druid, the vibrations rattled through his being. Great power awoke this night to see him through. More than he expected when he drew the spell, truth be told.

The stone man's death was assured.

Day replaced night for a moment as lightning struck nearby, close enough that Varan's arm hairs stood on end. Part of the Druid wondered if his magic went too far, so much power concentrated in the sky. Not that it mattered, at this point the spell moved beyond his skill to control. Weeping for the storm's woody casualties gained him nothing, so he drew yet more strength from the earth and ran on.

When he drew close to the fire of his adversary, Varan stopped and set his things in the embrace of a great oak's roots, then gathered up his wooden sword. A quick examination confirmed the blood runes remained unmarred. He traced the grains he knew like his own reflection. He offered the blade solace that it must kill this night.

Prepared, Varan strode forward openly. The other man stood away from the guttering fire he had attempted to save from the storm, though his failure was apparent.

The other spoke in his guttural language, and Varan shrugged in reply. He never bothered to learn the tongues of infidels, and the time for words had passed. The Druid pointed his sword at the man, then at the fire, before he made a wide cutting motion.

The man put something to his lips, then gathered up his own blade, the stone shimmering as the water that coated it caught the light of his dying fire. Only then did Virgil notice the runes that marked that blade.

Blood.

Varan went into a defensive stance as he began to walk forward. Hopes of a fast victory vanished with that brief vision. He dared not underestimate his opponent anymore, that blade would cut through his rune covered robes as easily as unenchanted wood.

The stone man extended his hand and spoke again, but Varan ignored the tone of his voice. Rain pounded down harder and lightning lit up the sky as the storm grew in intensity. Varan slashed his sword, the strike targeted at the other's calf.

Sparks flew as magic met magic. The light gave Varan a brief view of the other's face in detail. Intensity without fear mixed with something that made Varan think of blood lust.

Darkness returned, Varan only able to see the silhouette of his opponent. Now the stone man took the offensive, his blade flowed low, then high in a methodical combination. The Druid worked his wrists as he moved his sword in line with each stroke, sending the attacks wide. Yet the other man's next attacks came on before Varan found room to counter.

As the battle continued, Varan realized himself over matched, and drew upon the earth's power for help yet again. Strength filled his muscles, and with a surge of power he shoved aside an attack by the stone man and spun into a cut of his own.

Stunned by the change in momentum, the other man narrowly deflected the attack, their swords pressed together as each opponent pushed on the other with all their might, all focus centered on their crossed blades.

Power crackled between them where magics contested, and for the first time Varan locked eyes with the man he meant to kill. Resolve lay there, and concentration. The blood lust also remained, and seemed to have grown, his eyes bloodshot.

With a surge of strength from the earth, Varan shoved the other man back. Before the stone man could recover the Druid advanced while he worked the blade in a complex weave of dismemberment. Yet the stone man managed to twist and fall, body soaking up the impact as he rolled out of range of Varan's blade. As he returned to his feet, the stone man twirled his blade in one hand as if it were a blade of grass.

What in the earth's embrace? Varan would have felt if the man drew strength from their surroundings, where did this amazing power come from? He took a step back as he weighed the stone man's motions. Only magic defied logic in such a way. A quick advance from his opponent put Varan on the defensive, ties to the earth pushed to their limits as he sought deeper ties with the world to match this inhuman figure. Why did tales of these warriors never speak of this unstoppable strength?

Lightning pierced the sky, their death dance illuminated for the world to see. Varan's back handed swing sent the other man's blade aside.  Then the Druid stepped back while he wiped the rain water from his eyes and shook the worst of it from his hair. By this point the fire had guttered out entirely so only what bits of moonshine and starlight that slipped through the cloud cover lit their way, along with the irregular lightning.

Doubt crept into the Druid as he considered his opponent. These men from the south had been dangerous before, but this new strength made them a real threat to the sacred forest. The true goal now lay in telling the Great Circle what he witnessed, not defeating the man in honorable combat.

A sequence of runes crossed his mind. Luring the man into such a trap seemed impossible, but he could not leave the forest alive with his secrets. That left one option. The thought of it brought a smirk to Varan's lips.

Something snapped in the stone man, and he launched forward, blade in a two handed stroke aimed at Varan's head. Only years of training saved him from decapitation. He crouched a hair's breadth underneath the blade, then slammed his shoulder into the other's stomach as part of a pivot to allow him to deliver a return stroke. Yet the man stood out of Varan's reach when the move completed, ready to charge back in.

Varan released the hilt of his rune blade. As the sword flew away, Varan bit his thumb to draw blood he would need shortly. Before the stone man could react, Varan advanced.

At that moment, another bolt struck off behind the stone man, its light threatening to blind Varan as he stepped inside the reach of the other man's sword as he punched with one hand, then the other. The man rocked back, stunned by the blows he never expected to suffer. Before the stone man could regain his composure, Varan drew a mark on his chest in two quick strokes with the bloody thumb, a single word passing his lips at the same time.

That done, he shoved the other man back and dove away. Glee filled the stone man's eyes at the flight of his opponent, but it proved short lived as the sky split open and lightning came down to call him to his God.

Varan shuddered as he felt the surge of power even so far away. Hair stood on end and muscles twitched from the discharge. Minutes passed as he attempted to regain control of his body. Finally, Varan mastered himself and stood.

As he gathered up his rune blade, Varan looked back at the spot where his opponent had been. Rumors existed of the skill these men had with potions, but nothing like this ever came up among the Circle before. Might these men have learned a way to become super human? The very thought made him shudder.

The forest was in danger, and no one even knew just how great the threat might be.
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