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Author Topic: [Jun 2019] - 2TTDFT - Submission Thread  (Read 593 times)

Offline xiagan

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[Jun 2019] - 2TTDFT - Submission Thread
« on: June 04, 2019, 08:47:19 AM »
Two themes that don't fit together


Ludu's game by AlbaJaen

I haven't read Codex Alera by Jim Butcher yet but somebody once described it as ancient Rome meets Pokémon. That was the birth of this writing prompt.
This month we want you to combine two themes in your story that - at first sight - don't fit together (but may result in a great, surprisingly good fitting story in the end). Another example would be Evangelicals and Donald Trump, but that's sadly not fantasy.


Rules:

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

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

Entry will close in the beginning of July 2019 and voting will begin somewhere around the same time too.

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

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

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

Offline JMack

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Re: [Jun 2019] - 2TTDFT - Submission Thread
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2019, 12:01:59 AM »
Oh, yeah. First in this month!
About 1,450 words.

IMAGINE DRAGONS

Spoiler for Hiden:

“Entwhistle?” William Wilswilson pulled his attention away from the painstaking procession of fresh lettering on vellum at which he’d been laboring since six bells. “My mother was born in Entwhistle.”

“Well, not any more, I’d say. Praise Great Dragon.” The central committee messenger dropped the hastily scrawled form on William’s desk and moved down the line of scribes to deliver a copy to the cartographers.

“Praise Great Dragon,” echoed William. He unfurled the scrap of paper. Terrible quality stuff - more lint than pulp and more pulp than rag. Give William good smooth, scraped sheepskin any day. And the penmanship! If you could call it that. He could hardly make it out.

City formerly Entwhistle to be removed all national records. Revise maps ‘Corbinslake.’

Corbinslake? Whenever William’s poor dead mother had mentioned the denizens of that benighted burg, she’d leant over and pretended to spit. What had Entwhistle done to lose its name to Corbinslake? William tried not imagine. Imagining only got one into trouble. Wasn’t it one of Great Dragon’s Seven Sayings that imagination is to humans what fire is to a forest? A killer of old and young, a destroyer of peace and home. Though sometimes when he heard that Saying, William remembered walking through a wood in childhood a year after such a blaze and marveling at the new shoots and saplings emerging into the open sun.

“Entwhistle,” thought William, mourning his mother all over again, “I’ll remember.”

A chill ran through him. He looked quickly side to side. He’d just committed a memory sin, and him an archivist tasked with keeping the nation’s records in keeping with the committee’s edicts. He was like a cockroach let in to count the harvest.

He set aside his pens and organized his scalpel and scrapers. He had books, records, maps, and more to change.

*****

William walked to his solitary flat through a grey drizzle that slipped under his umbrella and crawled down his shirt collar. Great Dragon took credit for all good things; so who was responsible for the rain?

Though he couldn’t see it for the weather, William felt the bulk of the old castle like a weighted shadow where it brooded over the city from the far bank of the Tamed River. He knew it still belched smoke from fires born a century before when the Dragon slew the nobles and founded a people’s paradise for the nation. “Fire frees!” proclaimed the central committee. Which William enjoyed thinking of nonsensically as “Fire freeze!”

Unlocking his door, William paused before entering. The minutes he spent walking from the Archives to his flat were like precious pearls between shards of glass, his only moments of true privacy.

“William Wilswilson,” a voice intoned from inside the flat.

William entered. The Scale hanging on his wall glowed silver as he hung his coat and removed his shoes. The apartment was large for being a single room, a mark of William’s status as a historian but also easy for the Scale to see everything he did there. He’d developed strategies, of course - he imagined everyone did. How else might a married couple, well, live out a married life? Though he didn’t know. No one spoke of such things when the oval-shaped dragon Scales were everywhere. Listening, counting, and speaking.

“Welcome home, William Wilswilson,” said the Scale. “Your walk took five minutes longer than the average today.”

“It’s raining,” William explained.

“You will receive less one cheese ration this week,” said the Scale.

“Thank you,” William said. “Correction makes us better citizens. Praise Great Dragon.” He felt as grey as the soot on his single window and the weather beyond it.

The silver surface of the Scale took on a red sheen. William’s body tensed involuntarily. “You do not speak with confidence,” it said.

“Correction makes us better citizens,” William repeated.

“Again,” ordered the voice. “Display more fervor. Again. Again.”

*****

Two hours later, William joined the stream of people queuing for their meal at the citizens’ temple. He thrust his hands in his pockets to hide their shaking. When it was his turn, he told the woman at the serving station to leave out his cheese ration.

The woman scooped beans into his dish and added a slice of brown bread. “Food is a shared responsibility,” she said. She tapped her spoon harshly against the rim of the bean pot. William met her eyes. They were brown, bordered by thick lashes, and set deep in a strong-boned face. They flicked downward. William looked down. The woman’s first finger pointed along the line of the spoon. He looked up. She flicked her eyes to the right, motioning him to move along. William went to a seat at one of the the long refectory tables, his heart pounding.

What had that been? The tapping, the eyes, the finger - a secret sign? - the eyes again. It was all so personal. It was terrifying. William’s imagination raced.

He glanced back at the queue. The woman was still there, mouthing platitudes to each citizen she served. William tried to guess her age. About his own, perhaps. She was slightly taller than he. Thin, even gaunt, and made thinner by the grey of her uniform. They eyes met for the briefest moment again, across the distance. It was enough to send William’s pulse galloping again.

The finger sign. William thought he’d heard about something like it. A single finger thrust down. A sword or a lance. The sign of the Knights Errant, a rumored group of revolutionaries said to be working against the Great Dragon and the citizen's central council.

Gods, thought William. The Knights Errant. Why would one of them reach out to him?! He was just an archivist. He was just -

She was coming over. William forced himself to focus on his tasteless meal. She brushed by, dropping a small wedge of hard, yellow cheese in front of him. “Entwhistle,” she said.

Or he thought she did. Imagined? She disappeared through the door to a back alley. A lifetime of imprisoned words crowded behind his tongue, ready to be shouted into every ear and from every rooftop. Damn the Great Dragon. Damn the central committee. Damn the Scale. Damn everything. He grabbed the cheese and followed.

The alley was dark as a cave. The woman stood at the far end, her back to him, just a shadow.

William forced his feet forward, fighting against every fiber that strained to retreat and comply. He swiveled his head, searching for Scales. They could be anywhere. The woman didn’t move as he drew closer. His teeth chattered. He stopped just three feet away.

He pushed one whispered word past the horde that begged to be spoken. “Entwhistle?”

The brown-eyed woman turned her head to him. He couldn’t make out her features, except for a dim red reflection in her eyes. “Knights... Errant?” he ventured.

Pain exploded in William’s head. The red in the woman’s eyes flared, expanding to fill his world with flame.

*****

Julia looked through her Scale into the re-education room where William Wilswilson screamed. It was a shame, really. He might have been useful to the Knights if he hadn’t been so incredibly poor at concealing his thoughts. As it was, she had to do her job - the one the committee knew about, not the one she’d dedicated her life to. He’d been pathetically easy to manipulate, his ache for release so raw.

She disgusted herself.

She leaned forward to speak through the dull silver oval to the mage in the room with Wilswilson. “Remove his mother,” she ordered. “She’s connected to Entwhistle, possibly the very root of the memory.”

Entwhistle. Gone now, Julia knew. Its ruins glowed and smoked. Its folk hauled off to feed the dragon’s brood. The horse-sized hatchlings chased them through the charred hallways of the old castle.

Yes, Julia disgusted herself, but no one would ever know it. Her will was iron. Her dedication was absolute.

“Make him an orphan. But not from Corbinslake. That’s likely to create problems.”

The mage spoke back at her through the Scale, his mouth tight. “I know my job.”

“Well, do it.” Julia felt the distant questing of the dragon’s mind, like a beam of light that moved from place to place and stopped to pinion anything that moved. She walled off her mind, as she’d been trained by the Knights. “Remember, we’re here for his own good. Fire frees.”

The powerful, questing mind moved on. Julia strained not to show the relief. Though an agent like her looked through the Scale, someone else was always looking back at her. She wondered who it was.

She imagined it was someone she knew. Sometimes she imagined it was even herself looking in at herself, like a mirror in a mirror. But in the end, it was only the imagining that mattered.




A few notes:

Spoiler for Hiden:
My two usually incompatible themes:
> Dragons
> Totalitarian dystopias, ala 1984

And the title is a reference to the rock group, Imagine Dragon. Couldn’t resist.  ;D
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 11:31:34 AM by JMack »
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Offline Jake Baelish

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Re: [Jun 2019] - 2TTDFT - Submission Thread
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2019, 04:12:56 AM »
GOBLIN KINGDOM HIT BY ILLEGAL DWARF INVASION!

Word Count: 919

Spoiler for Hiden:
GOBLIN KINGDOM HIT BY ILLEGAL DWARF INVASION!

HUNDREDS OF GOBLINS MURDERED IN NIGHT OF BLOODSHED!

GOBLIN KING ASSASINATED BY ELDERLY HUMAN LEADER! WIZARDS?


The goblin population of the Darrowfell Hills have been left reeling this morning following an unexpected journey into their isolated realm by a coalition of dwarfs and men.

It has been reported by foreign diplomats that a small force of dwarfs entered the hidden domain just after sunset last night. There, Goblin King Charek, who has ruled the subterranean city since the start of the Eighth Age, ordered the trespassers to be apprehended at once – as would any concerned leader in the face of a potential threat within their borders. In the struggle which followed in the Great Goblin Hall hundreds of goblins were savagely butchered: it is not yet known if all those killed were soldiers. The dwarves were aided by an elderly human, who is believed to be the wizard Reza Lamak, based on eyewitness testimony referring to the abettor’s big white beard and pointy red hat. Before fleeing, the wizard, armed with a sword, cut down the Goblin King. The body of the long-time leader was found horribly mutilated in the depths of the caves under the Great Hill.

The historic friction that exists between dwarf and goblin had seen a relative peace in recent decades. Now violence has erupted once again between the two peoples. This attack comes as something of a surprise, as the dwarfs had recently been discovered to have been planning on a treasure hunting expedition to the ancient and long abandoned dwarf mines that exist just south of the Winding River. The hills, themselves also once home to some of the greatest dwarfish cities, have been inhabited by goblins since the start of the Sixth Age; yet relations between them and the outside world have remained indifferent over the past few years. While the caverns and tunnels beneath the hills are understandably hostile to outsiders, it is only in times of hardship that goblins are ever to be seen stepping beyond their darkened realms, usually in the dead of night. This pacifying of the goblin race has been credited to the kingship of their great king, Charek, who, being aware of his subjects’ past failures and the suitability of the under realm for goblin habitation, had acknowledged little need for expansionist invasions into the outside world.

Now, sadly, what appears to be a group of vigilante dwarfs have reopened the possibility of resuming conflicts between the peoples of the known world. Information from an inside source suggests, however, that the dwarfs have no interest in their former home under the soggy hills. The goblin township simply offered the quickest route in their quest to plunder their old haunts to the south.

Perhaps the decision to do so – and callous slaughtering of so many goblins – can be attributed to our own society's prejudice where goblins are concerned. For a long time now the idea of goblins as a smelly, wretched, barbaric, darkness-dwelling, carnal race has been part of our discourse. The dwarfs have consistently pressed this view following the end of the wars between the two peoples, meaning that our world has never come to accept goblins as part of our civilisation. Thus, they are confined to unpalatable alcoves where they grow accustomed to darkness from birth till death, recoiling at the mere sight of daylight. The food they eat is not fit for a dog, yet we cry in horror when some trespasser in their domains is heard to have been eaten by them. Perhaps we ought to consider our own share of the blame: today, the mere sight of a goblin outside their caves in justification enough for immediate execution. Worse still, the thought that others have the automatic right to encroach on sovereign goblin territory without retribution simply further highlights the disregard with which the likes of man, elf and dwarf exhibit toward the lower creatures of our world. Indeed, the dwarf invasion is surely a result not only of an intolerant society that refuses to accept those who are different, but also one which sees the ‘other’ as potential fodder in their pursuit of some perceived notion of destiny. That a wizard would find supporting such acts – let alone partaking in them – appropriate, simply displays how these attitudes are rampant even among the elites in our society.

It is as yet unknown who will step in as leader of the Darrowfell goblins now that their peace keeping king is no more. There are already suggestions of leadership being assumed by the grizzly Grashokk the Grey, who fled defeated from the last major battle between dwarfs and goblins at the start of the age. If true, this would dramatically alter the political nature and relations in the known world for good.

And far from the better. Grashokk is a zealous extremist and is unlikely to maintain a continuity that will confine goblins to the caves.

Whether the goblins respond in a hostile, militaristic manner – and really who could expect anything less – or not, remains to be seen. Whatever the outcome, it is clear that the diverse peoples of our world need to establish an interracial diplomacy that goes beyond historic stereotypes. The passivity of the goblins has been disrupted, and peace once again threatened. It is the dwarfs who must answer for this avoidable act of aggression. It is for our society to answer why this act of aggression could have ever happened to begin with.

Two usually incompatible themes:
Spoiler for Hiden:
1. Modern journalism
2. Very traditional/trope strewn fantasy (OK, so Tolkien)
« Last Edit: June 20, 2019, 09:28:01 AM by Jake Baelish »
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Online Alex Hormann

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Re: [Jun 2019] - 2TTDFT - Submission Thread
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2019, 03:49:10 PM »
Rawheads and Bloody Bones

Words:

Themes: American Dieselpunk & English Folk Tale


Spoiler for Hiden:

Detroit. Where the factories pump out smoke and cars and the streets pump out gangs and bodies. It’s even worse now with these mechanical cops walking around. Chrome-bodied automata that spit bullets and bleed diesel. General Motors makes em, and this this fine city she breaks em. That’s what everyone tells me. I ain’t never seen it for myself. Cleaners is too good at their jobs to leave broken robots lying in the gutter for people to steal.
Can’t blame it all on the automoata though, can I? The gangs are just as bad. Except, you expect them to be bad, because they’re gangs, see. And so nothing they do can shock you no more. Except when it does. There’s these English gangs, right? I mean, some call themselves Irish, or Scottish, or Welsh, but we all know those are just English. They come over to this city fleeing the Reich and think they can do what they want just cause we let em in. Because the Germans took their homes and we gave them some of ours and now they think they rule the place. You see why I call em all English don’t you? That’s the English attitude right over.
This here is a story I was told about one of these new gangs. Don’t ask me if it’s true or not, cause I sure don’t know. It came from a friend of a friend of a friend, you know how it is. SO I guess the answer to ‘is it true?’ is ‘you decide’.

One of the big gangs that came over from England was this bunch of Yorkshire guys called the Rawheads. Now the first thing they did when they got to Detroit was take over the black market in diesel, which is about the biggest and blackest market we’ve got going on in this town. The second thing they did was start a turf war with another English gang from Yorkshire who called themselves the Bloody Bones. Ain’t nothing an Englishman hates more than another Englishman doing the same thing as he’s trying to do.
So these two gangs they get into a fight. There’s bullets and bodies and bad words all around, and the cops can barely keep the peace for everyone else. It’s a mess, an absolute mess. And it goes on for four months. All through Summer ‘46 and then a little into the Fall. But it really comes to a head in the Fall, when the leader of the Bloody Bones rallies all his men, and the one woman he has on the payroll, and attacks the warehouse where the Rawheads are keeping all that illicit gas. Soon enough, everyone is in that building shooting and stabbing each other in a frenzy.
Word of this gets to the commissioner, and he just smiles to himself and thinks that at last the gang problem is going to solve itself. But then he gets a phone call from the mayor who got a phone call from the governor and he gets told in no uncertain terms that he’s got to do something about this problem before it gets out of hand. So he sighs a big sigh and he gets some of the boys in blue together and they hatch out a plan. And the plan they hatch is to cordon of the are, very wise indeed, and to sen din the automata, less wise. And these automata are dumb as bricks, so you have to give them simple instructions. The instruction he gives them all is to stop the fighting.
They interpret this simple instruction in the way a simple robot brain does. Gangs can’t fight if the gangs are dead. And so these robots march on in there all guns blazing and kill everyone they see. Blood and diesel everywhere. Lots of screaming, lots of begging and lots of whatever sound a robot makes when it guns down an unarmed man, I guess.
But there’s one guy they don’t see, and what he does is very stupid indeed. He’s a smoker, like we all are, and so he has a lighter on him. So when he sees all his friends being killed by automata, he loses it. Not th lighter, his mind. Properly goes psycho. He flicks that lighter until there’s a big old flame flickering there and he throws it into the corner. Where all that nice gasoline is stored. Obviously, it all explodes.
Factory is levelled instantly, and not one automata make sit out intact. Not one one ganger either. And I don’t know about you but I can’t say that’s any great loss to society.
But there’s some folks who’ll tell you that something did leave the factory that night. Not someone, but something. Something that looks like a man, but might be metal and was very definitely on fire the last time it was seen. These same people will say that every now and then a body turns up on the streets, burned beyond recognition and with no one to claim it. Sometimes it’s not even a body. Sometimes it’s an automaton, all melted and twisted. Like someone out there is going round killing and destroying anything that had anything to do with that awful night.

So yeah, I guess that’s the story. Not much to it in the end, but then not everything is fit for the pulps I guess. A man once said to me that every story has a moral. Now I don’t think I believe that, but if there is one to this story I think it would be this:
Be careful where you buy your diesel, or you may end up on a list that’ll see you dead.

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Re: [Jun 2019] - 2TTDFT - Submission Thread
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2019, 01:44:38 PM »
Title: Flipside

Themes: Sphagetti Westerns and Mages

Spoiler for Hiden:

Flipside

It was a Zartanian standoff. Paje was desperately trying to focus on the woman standing across the courtyard. He smiled at the thought of the moments spent together with her. His smile dropped as he focused on their current predicament of trying to kill each other. Paje could feel ever drop of sweat forming in his forehead, some even before forming. He was trying to maintain his focus when his thoughts got distracted by the rivulet of sweat running down his nose. He was weirdly curious on when it would drop if he held super still. Hmmm, he realized a bit late he was holding his breath when...


BOOM! The explosion was thundering and felt close. The searing fizz of magic mixed with the acidic burn of the slugectiles permeated the air, but went unnoticed as Paje was already moving. Zffft Zffft! He could feel the speed of the deadly slugectiles all over. One passed so closed to him that could feel the salty aftertaste in his tongue. It was all reaction now. His heart was thundering louder than the explosions outside. He uttered a quick prayer as he vaulted over the final wall. His power coursing through every vein in his body, his eyes scanning every moment as his body automatically shifted power to his legs for the leap across the 50 foot temple wall. He could feel the moment, every scene flicking through his eyes like a show in slow.... Flick, the fight raging in the field…. Flick, the picture of children playing in pond painted on the walls as his body shifted mid-leap….Flick, he emerging view across the walls. Flick, he saw or rather felt.....what! Smack. …the approaching floor faster than he wished. He fell uglier than a poop off a moorejows behind. Plop.

Paje lay there as his mind ran past few moments as a blank reflex action. He could feel the blood seeping through his arms, feel every throb in his shoulder, every tremble in his body, as his mind finally recalibrated itself to realize...he had failed.  He had nothing left. His firing staff was just few inches from his fingers, he could hear the battle raging on other side of the wall. Strength left his in waves he could physically feel. What he saw... his mind blanked again.

Paje lay there watching the rose printed boots approaching him. A brief thought of joy flitted past his mind, considering that the boots were his gift. His joy evaporated as his moved up the boots. Shilfra! The long legs, swaying hips, the....huh, misty eyes sparkling like beacons across stormy seas. He buried his feelings ruthlessly as he could see the beginnings of the smile across her face. His eyes dropped back to the boots, just as he was about to relax, his eyes caught the swirling patters of the rose petals. He could feel a matching smile spring on his own face as his strength returned.  As his eyes traced the outline of zebu, the insignia of the scoutsquad he could taste the irony of the moment. What was once a hidden joke, now become destiny.  The slow beat of his heart, his blood raging…as his mind stilled to the moment. Every scene a flashing past him in slow as he heard the crack of tile bursting under her heel. He was already moving as she recovered her footing, his strength enhanced arms propelling his up, his body twisting as he grasped the fire staff in a smooth move lining up to her. He could see her smile widen as her own weapon mirrored his actions.


The moment was frozen in time, a series of images just flipping past his eyes. His force push being mirrored by her inertial dampners, his power lunge being countered by her augmented leg muscles, his powershots being pushed away by her  force shields as his own defensive aura brought her slugesctiles to a fard stop a inch away from his body…it was a synchronized dance and it was inevitable to as how this would end. He could see the projectile all the way as it passed through his body and see his own projectile speeding towards her.

The years of suppression of mages, the horror experiments which at the end failed to explain neither the cause nor dynamics of magic, the beginnings of dissent that became a revolution and then the Discipline Wars all flashed through his mind in that instant but he was surprised to realize he didn’t really care about any of those when it mattered. His years of training to scout dangerous places and shooting quicker than he think didn't really help now. He could even bring enough focus for the mental exercise the focus, it all felt futile. It was all probably the realization that he was dying, but strangely he didn’t care about that either.  He was still smiling as the last sight he saw was a pair of rose patterened boots.

Shilfra looked down upon the the man, she fought, respected, loved and finally killed. Her emotions died the moment she saw his face as he fired his powershot at her shadow in the wall behind her, his smile pierced her heart more painful than that intentionally missed shot. The hours spend on discussion on rights vs wrongs of the society, the hours spent in content silence of each other’s company contemplating the failures of their respective sides getting list in the haze of the Shelba drinks, that feeling of longing tempered by the dread of the moment she is in currently, nearly overwhelmed her. The war of souls and feelings was lost in the war for power and greed and self-righteous belief’s staggered her despite years of mental preparation and anticipation of this moment. She wondered how he’d react if that was her lying on the floor.  She had to dig deep to take the steps past his body to the chamber he gave his life protecting. The mana-codices that help the mages manipulate their powers were finally in her reach. Years of war can finally be ended and Science can rule peacefully once more. Every step was a chore, an effort of will, a test of her fortitude as she stepped inside the central chamber.

She could feel herself slumping as her mind lost all ability to control anything as her thoughts just went blank and her eyes focused on the pair of lily patterned boots laid out in the pedestal.  She couldn’t even physically voice the scream echoing all though her mind. Like a puppet with strings cut, her body slumping as she lost herself in the moment, her body racking with suppressed sobs, her eyes flooded and unseeing as she realized the true meaning of the smile on his face.


The advance team found her like that holding a pair of boots and a body across her, completely unresponsive and sights unseeing.  There was no reaction as the medics moved her to the stretcher except for her clawhold on the boots. The pattern of lilies and the clue in them was seared in her mind as she started laughing at the irony. The guardianship of the mana-codices has been transferred and she didn’t know how best to curse Page. Her laughter rang across the battlefield, past the wounded, the blood of the ground, corpses now lined on the wall and despite all that, somehow…. fitting.

« Last Edit: July 01, 2019, 01:47:03 PM by Bender »
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