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Who wrote the best story in June?

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Voting closed: July 29, 2012, 09:16:56 PM

Author Topic: June 2012 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!  (Read 6273 times)

Offline Autumn2May

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June 2012 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!
« on: June 01, 2012, 05:19:26 PM »
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Image by BethWold

Deserts are mysterious places.  They burn with heat during the day and freeze at night.  They can be full of life and still look empty and desolate.  In fantasy, they can conceal hidden ruins or magical oases.  They contain bustling civilizations or stand as barriers between kingdoms.

This month’s theme is deserts.  Your desert can be filled with vast hills of rolling sand, towering pillars of stone, or populated with unusual and hardy plants.  It can take place in the star covered darkness or the blinding heat of the noonday sun.  All deserts hold challenges and secrets all their own.  Show us what lies hidden in yours.

The rules are as follows:

1. Must be prose.
2. 1,500 - 2,000 words.
3. Must include a desert as a major element or theme in addition to some element of fantasy.

The contest is now closed!  And the winner is:


Congratulations to our winner!
« Last Edit: August 02, 2012, 02:56:26 PM by Autumn2May »

Offline nesh

Re: June 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2012, 06:33:40 AM »
I kept flying since; nothing really managed to settle my heart. A waterfall, the nourished forests, the falling rain, the plains nor the breezy sea could soothe me, as they all carry the message of fulfillment and gain. Show me a place where there could rise no such thing as 'hope', a place where nothing beautiful or worthy could be expected, just as I view myself. Life seems so fair for some, while the others turn to be the mere pray of pride. The nature surely upholds this pride, just like its being hailed by some, who tend to neglect the rest and their needs. Take me dear wind! Float me to a world if you can, where I'll meet souls like mine, who bare no other options but to hide their lives until they are thoroughly hid by the earth and its dust.

I was driven, because I had no idea of an aim. The wind bore me off from the hustle that had surrounded me and laid me down in a place which I think would suit my call. She waved me goodbye as she sneaked into another sphere. I turned around, there seemed nothing more than the silky brow soil. For the first time in my life, I felt the joy of liberty which is so new to me. There was none to nag me forth or to push me down, there seemed no one on the race, the ones who thrive in greed, pride and power as this surely doesn't look like a place to quench their thirst.
The nothingness of this place managed to give me a sense of peace as my heart was used to, be burdened with thoughts that in no ways belonged to me. I was forced to do things which weren't loved my soul as they say that “follow these steps, it would take you towards success and that is what matters in life”. If that is what living means I don't need it because it's so fake and if that's the reason behind my birth why am I there to maintain my life? Now, I am in here a place which I consider as nowhere a place with its harsh realities that symbolizes my empty soul with no sign of nourishment or gain.

I stretched on the ground to set free the weariness which is bottled in me. I saw the sky; it was turning brown as it too wanted a change from its blue. Without my knowledge my fingers crept into the soil and began to feel the heat within it, much stronger than it is, over the ground. Far beyond the dunes, I see the sun making her way out, by proving, that, nothing belongs to this place neither the sun nor the rain. This is my world the place they call a desert and the place which resembles my ‘vacant heart’, as I have shed everything which was dumped by them, in the process of making me just another carbon copy of themselves and have nothing for myself since I never thought of growing anything out of me.

 I couldn't help myself from a fall, as I struggled to clear my eye, covered in dust. I managed to crawl back into the very spot of the hill, which had turned so dark during my nap. Amidst my sleep the sky had studded herself in her blinking lights as the moon pasted his glittering beams all over the dunes. The breeze began to mount its coldness while the heat within the soil was yet so warm to feel. Seeing all these expressions of the outdoor world, I couldn't keep myself shut for any longer as an urge for a loud shout kept rebelling within me.

“I am.............. Free.............”
I kept repeating this same verse while each one of them turned to be sharper than the other.
“Oh! My God! Isn't this what I wanted?”

I rolled me down through the hill and ran towards the exact direction, for which my voice had flown to. The smiling moon kept following me even though if he thought that, this was merely a child's play. I ran as far as I could, until my exhausted feet called it a halt. Having no other options at hand I laid back on the ground.

The sky, full of stars displayed her majestic glow to soothe my eye. We know them as stars, but each one of them seemed to be so different from the other. Their pattern, size, color and the length of their blink seems so different and unique from one another. What a beauty? Isn't this very difference which makes the sky a paradise? The moon really looks so special and privileged, but a sky with only a moon wouldn't make a gazer, feel so rich. Little or big, bright or not, all these heavenly bodies play a main role in representing their own life.
Surfing through the stars, my thoughts began to fly back to the place where I come from. It's a world full of expectations. Everyone wants to be the brightest star and nobody thinks of being special in their own way. Blinded with this aim, most of us tend to neglect the fact that how special we could be to a person closer by our hand, than a whole lot of them, miles apart. Each one of us in here is a special one, with a special purpose to carry on. Our specialty may spread in large scale or not, but at the end of the day we all contribute ourselves for this magnificent system called 'life'. As never felt before some beautiful thoughts regarding 'life', began to sprout in my heart, but how possible is that? Cos, my heart is just like this wide dry land, which could cater neither life nor hope, so, this is just another shameful miscalculation of my mind. (I suppose so)

The next time I woke up I couldn't find the moon anywhere closer to my sight, as the day had made her way into the light. Far off the dunes I see the sun, spying at me, as she lays her rays one after the other, on the ground. I hear the birds tweeting upon my head, to show their gratefulness for the sun, for at least waking up us so early. Couldn't figure out what these birds were up to, in a land famous for nothing and while there are so many other cozy lands, filled with berries and nuts to suit their need. By the way how come that the sun shines in this place?
 Wandering in my thoughts, I was so amused to see three human figures walking in a line, with their heads laden with jars. There were four other tiny figures, following them as well. I found no reasons to remain on my spot, so I too managed to join their line. We walked and walked, until the tender warmth of the sun began to ripe, as we moved. We stopped at a spot as one of the women with us, began to point at the ground. The little ones couldn't hold into their joy that they spontaneously began to jump and scream. I was yet so surprised by this 'joy' as we had lost a whole lot of energy and enthusiasm through this hike, so how come that they could yet smile? The women knelt on the ground and began to remove off its soil with their bare hands. I too joined them in their task. All their eyes were fixed on the ground with hopes, much brighter than the golden sun, which burns our backs. As I reached my hand for the next fist of soil, I felt it much wetter than it used to be. The girls' joy doubled while their mothers managed to gather their priceless discovery, right into their jars. They raised their weights on to their heads, but with hearts much lighter than when they arrived.

I peeped into the pit. It contained enough water to feed any, who passes by. I remained in there to catch the sight of birds having their baths while, some huge and small animals managed to quench their thirst. As time passed, the winds decided on shielding this wonder, with the aim of preserving its treasures, for the future. A frog being trapped in this hustle, managed to peep through the soil to complete his deal with the sun.
Having done their duties, the winds began to play around me. Right up to this point it didn't strike me that it was almost the time for me to leave. I was gently lifted, as buds of hopes began to bloom in my heart. The desert might seem a place with no room for hope or life. She might at least look so for those who don't know her, but for others she is the very hope of their life. They wake in the day and go back to sleep with the hope that, this mysterious land would unveil her bounties, for those who believe in her. At times we too find ourselves left in a desert, with no hope or greener pasture to see. But, if we think a bit further, life isn't what we see, it is what we seek. No matter how many things we get to see, we won’t pass through their wonders unless we try seeking. My soul might be a desert, but if I seek, I wouldn't miss to find the wonders hidden within me. When I come to pass by them, I too should feel the joy of sharing it, with those who are in need.

On the other hand no man could think of 'gain' unless he discovers the void within himself. The emptiness within us is the guiding spirit which drives us towards what we miss, and that is the magic which takes man from one step to the other. I can't possibly imagine of another place other than a desert, which reflects 'life' so thoroughly. It is the symbol of each tattered soul, which rises back with a hope, to defeat its pain.  The desert, she might surely look so empty, but you'll never know what's beneath, unless you seek.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2012, 05:15:38 AM by nesh »

Offline GZidar

Re: June 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2012, 01:09:15 PM »
The Great Outdoors

After two uneventful days travelling south through open grassland, Atilen and Bran left the little-used road, and headed west into the hills. The hills soon became desert, and Atilen was not looking forward to crossing that dry expanse of land as they made their way toward N’Dreki. Four

days of heat, stones, sand, and thirst, lay ahead of them, and for a child of the city it was the last thing he wanted to do.

Bran, on the other hand, was a different man. It was clear that he felt completely at home beneath the stars. The city was like a prison for him while out here he was truly alive. Bran usually liked to travel in silence, and as the days wore on he regretted not having packed a pair of earplugs to block out the almost constant stream of whining that spewed from Atilen’s city-born mouth. By the time they made camp that first night since leaving the road, Bran was ready to stuff his friend’s mouth with cloth and gag him.

“Tonight’s the last night we’ll have a fire,” Bran said, as he expertly arranged the wood.

Atilen looked stricken. “Why’s that?”

“It’ll attract orks. There’s no need to go out of our way to tell them we’re here.”

“Great,” Atilen sighed. “I knew there was a reason I preferred the city.”

Bran snorted. “You’re soft. We don’t need a fire to stay warm out here. It’s the height of summer. The stones hold the day’s heat almost till sunrise.”

“It’s not the warmth I’ll miss.”

“What then?”

“A cooked meal, a comfortable bed,” Atilen said, as if these things were obvious. “I could deal with sleeping on grass but how can anyone sleep on this?” He indicated the rocks at his feet.

Bran laughed. “Never you mind, I think I have the solution in my pack.” The small man reached into his backpack, and withdrew a wineskin. “Get a few belts of this into you and you won’t feel a thing.”

Atilen looked shocked. “Didn’t you say there were orks out here?” Bran nodded. “I can’t drink myself senseless when I need my wits about me to stay alive.”

“Then quit your whining, and start being useful for a change.” Bran returned the liquor to his pack. “We need more wood.”

“Why do you even have that?” Atilen asked as he rose to collect the wood. “I thought you only drank in the city.”

“I do,” Bran said flatly. “I brought it for you.”

The following morning the pair awoke and continued on their journey.

Bran greeted the day as though he had slept in the lap of the gods, while Atilen looked as though he had been beaten with a stick. Their route took them across a landscape dominated by large boulders and occasional sandy dunes. Vegetation was limited to tough grasses and a few hardy shrub-like trees that grew in scattered clumps between dunes.

Bran, uncharacteristically, spent the whole day espousing the virtues of the area. Pointing out interesting rock formations, or unusual flora and fauna, anything to keep his companion from noticing - and more importantly, complaining about - his discomfort. Bran explained that the trees indicated that there was water nearby, and if their water-skins ever needed to be refilled their best bet was to dig at the base of a tree.

The entire area was teeming with wildlife, so there was no risk of either of them starving.

Even though Atilen was not really listening to the dwarf’s educational tidbits he did welcome the distraction. It made the journey that much more bearable.  

With every sunset they hunted around for a suitable place to make camp, and took turns keeping watch at night. This region was known to be frequented by orks, hunting game for food.

An Ork hunting party could consist of as many as five well-armed hunters, often accompanied by wild dogs, or even wolves. It went without saying that it would be best for the pair of the them to avoid all contact with those pig-faced brutes.

After several nervous, but thankfully uneventful, nights Bran announced that they were only a day or so from N'dreki. They had but to walk a few hours past sunset and they might reach the remote mining town.

That was motivation enough for Atilen, who resolved to walk as fast as he needed to keep from having to sleep on the ground again.

The journey progressed much as it had the previous few days: Bran continued his lessons in survival, and Atilen only half-listened to his words. The dwarf didn't care that his valuable lore was being ignored. It was more important that he left no time for Atilen to chime in with his complaints.

An hour or so before sunset they crested yet another sandy hill. At its top, Bran stopped to survey the area.

He squinted into the distance, pointing to a black speck on the horizon, slightly south of their current position.

“That’s N’Dreki,” he said, his eyes still scanning the horizon.

“Let’s press on then.”

“Just so you know, We’ve still got a few hours’ walk ahead of us. We won’t make it before nightfall. We’d be safer making camp somewhere near here and striking out in the morning.”

“Let’s keep moving,” Atilen said, the thought of a comfortable bed and a warm meal lending emphasis to his words.

Bran nodded. “It'll get harder once the darkness sets in, and this area is lousy with orks.”

“I know, I know. Let’s get going.”

As Bran predicted, their pace slowed substantially as sunset neared. The shadows made it difficult for them to see the rocky ground properly, and they had to pick their way very carefully lest a misstep result in a twisted ankle. Once it became fully dark they had no choice but to stop, and wait for the moon to rise before they could continue. Neither man was willing to risk a torch, not now that their destination was in sight.

Once the moon had risen they continued moving. The bright moonlight made the journey easier, and a light wind carried the smells of cooking toward them. Atilen’s stomach grumbled loudly at the thought of a warm meal.

“Not much farther now,” Bran said with a smile. “But keep the noise down. We don't want to attract unwanted attention.”

Atilen let out a snort, and kept moving. A short time later he stopped and reached out to grab Bran’s shoulder, a lone finger held to his lips.

“I think I heard something behind us,” he said in a low whisper.

The pair stood stock-still, and listened. There was definitely something out there. A few heartbeats later they could both hear the sound of conversation. The voices deep and gutteral, the language familiar but unknown.


It was impossible to be sure how far away they might be, or even if the orks had spotted them, but all hopes of avoiding the hunting party were dashed when they heard the sound of insistent barking.

A dog had caught their scent.

In Atilen's mind, running sounded like an excellent plan. They were just over a mile from the safety of the village, and Atilen was sure they could reach it ahead of their pursuers.

"Run," he said, and started to move.

He had taken no more than three steps when he saw that Bran had a different idea.

The dwarf drew his weapons, and stood his ground. A small hand-axe in his right hand, and a short sword in his left.

He wasn't going anywhere

Atilen wasn’t sure what to do. Bran’s decision to stand and fight would buy him time to reach N’Dreki, but he couldn’t leave his friend out here to die. With a sigh, Atilen turned and drew his own weapon. Damn that stubborn dwarf.

An enormous wild dog reached them first. It bared its fangs, and leapt to attack Bran.

The dwarf lashed out with his sword as the dog jumped. His swing went wide, and the dog’s powerful jaws latched onto Bran’s outstretched arm.

The small man grunted in pain, and chopped into the dog’s wriggling body with his axe. The blade bit deep into the dog’s flank, causing it to release its grip.

Atilen could see the orks now.

Three of them ran into the fray, with little or no co-ordination, bloodlust evident in their hue and cry. Bran’s sword arm hung limply, the dog’s bite had caused some serious damage.

Two of the orks engaged the wounded dwarf while the third ran past. Heading straight for Atilen.

There was just enough light for Atilen to see. Atilen knew he was at a disadvantage, as ork's had better night vision than humans.

He barely avoided the first blow, and more by luck than skill, was able to score a hit on the creature’s flank.

The ork growled in pain, retaliating with a vicious sweep of its blade. It struck Atilen squarely in the chest. His leather armour stopped the blade from slicing into his flesh, but the blow knocked the wind out of him.

An animal snarl to his left reminded Atilen that the wounded dog was still a threat. With a grimace, he tumbled to his left, narrowly avoiding another of the ork’s blows, and rose to his feet behind his opponent. He struck without pause, and buried his blade deep into the ork’s back.

The ork fell to its knees. Atilen kept attacking, and ended its life with a slice to the throat.

Just as Atilen finished off the stricken ork, the wounded dog bit his leg. He screamed in pain, and brought his sword down hard on the creature’s head. The thin blade entered its skull to pierce the brain.

The dog died instantly.

The pain in Atilen’s leg sent a wave of nausea through his entire body, causing him to lose his balance. It took him a moment to recover, and when he looked up, he saw an ork looming over him.

Atilen froze.

He waited for the inevitable blow to come. The ork suddenly went limp, and collapsed to the ground.

What happened? As soon as he saw the axe buried in the ork’s back he knew that Bran had saved him.

The dwarf stepped onto the corpse, and removed the axe, then – nursing his wounded arm – made certain Atilen's ork was dead with with a sickening blow to its head.

They were battered and bloody but they were alive.

“We need to get away from here," Bran said as he collected his equipment. "The fight may have attracted others.”

“You don’t need to tell me twice.” Atilen gingerly got to his feet. “Hey, why didn’t you run?”

Bran turned to face his friend with an incredulous expression. “Are you serious?”

“Yes, why?”

“You’re an idiot,” Bran turned and walked away, his short legs pumping as he headed towards the town.

They completed the remainder of the journey in silence.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2012, 01:13:32 PM by GZidar »

Offline Autumn2May

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June 2012 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Open!
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2012, 09:16:56 PM »
Let the voting begin! :)  Good luck to our entrants! :)

Offline Autumn2May

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Re: June 2012 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Open!
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2012, 02:55:53 PM »
Congrats to our winner GZidar! :D

Offline Raptori

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Re: June 2012 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2016, 02:35:33 PM »
This is a very good post which I really enjoy reading. It is not every day that I have the possibility to see something like this.
This is a very good post which I really enjoy reading. It is not every day that I have the possibility to see something like this.
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Eclipse

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Re: June 2012 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2016, 02:39:58 PM »
Only two stories ....
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate