April 07, 2020, 02:31:27 PM

Poll

Who wrote the best story in March 2012?

choccoweeble
2 (40%)
OfAllTheBars
3 (60%)

Total Members Voted: 5

Voting closed: April 28, 2012, 07:39:15 PM

Author Topic: March 2012 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!  (Read 4252 times)

Offline Autumn2May

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March 2012 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!
« on: March 01, 2012, 07:59:05 PM »
For a change, lady luck seemed to be smiling on me. Then again, maybe the fickle wench was just lulling me into a false sense of security while she reached for a rock. - Timothy Zahn


Image by IrishVikingDesigns

Do you believe in luck?  Whether or not luck is a real thing in this world, there are still people today who bet fortunes on the roll of a die or the spin of a wheel.  In fantasy, however, luck can be a living breathing force.  Bad luck can send an adventurer to their doom and good luck can be a gift from the gods themselves.  It can tip the scales of great battles, or help a young peasant become a noble prince.

This month your challenge is to write a short story or scene involving luck.  It can be good or bad luck, but it must be a main point of the story.

The rules are as follows:

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

The contest is now closed!  And the winner is:

OfAllTheBars

Congratulations to our winner!

You can discuss this month's stories here: http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/writers-corner/march-2012-writing-challenge-discussion-thread
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 09:58:35 PM by Autumn2May »

Offline choccoweeble

Re: March 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2012, 09:31:13 PM »
Well, I've been playing around with this for weeks now and I think it's about time I put it out of its misery ;) I'm new to serious writing - I played around with a lot of fanfic as a teenager but this is the longest thing I've written in 10 years. So go easy on me!! Thanks for the prompt that got me going after eons of procrastination!


Fatebringer


The road wound haphazardly through the hills, dropping into woodland one moment, climbing up over a rocky outcropping the next. At the crest of the rise, Ysari paused to survey the vista before her. Another village... it looked just the same as the last one, and the one before that.

She let out a deep sigh, and braced herself for the throngs of wide eyed faces, grasping hands. She shuddered at the thought.

The final approach was downhill, a gentle slope which made the remainder of the walk almost pleasant in the late afternoon sun. Almost...

The whispering had already begun by the time she was within earshot.

"It is, it's her"

"I told you we were due a visit!"

"It really is - The Fatebringer..."

Head bowed, she ducked through the low wooden gateway and into the hands of the mob.

---------------

The room was a simple wooden shack, with a dirt floor and central fireplace. Dappled light crept through chinks in the crudely assembled planks. There was a chair at the far end, piled with furs – at least she would be warm and comfortable.

She placed her meagre belongings down beside the chair and commenced the blessing.

“As visiting Fatebringer to this town, I ask that you hear the desires of the people and bring them the fortune to see those wishes granted. Through me I ask that prosperity flourish in this place”.

---------------

“Fatebringer, I would most like to find a good sapling to make a new bow for my daughter, and can you please make sure her Alfren comes home safe from the hunt. Oh and let our vegetable garden grow well”.

The woman leant in to kiss the hem of Ysari’s robe, then rose from her kneeling position before the chair and stepped forward.

“Thank you Fatebringer”

Ysari nodded, wearily and in well-practiced fashion repeated,

“By the powers bestowed on me, I ask for these desires to be granted. May this good woman share in my fortune”.

---------------

The last person left, and Ysari sank back into the chair. The sun had fallen below the horizon - she could tell as the red flecks that danced across the floor were fading to grey. She closed her eyes - over for another day. And having studied the route map, hopefully for a few days as the next village was some distance away.

She heard the quiet scuffing of footsteps entering the shack. She allowed her head to loll back in annoyance.

“What is it you want?” she asked for the thousandth time, patience wearing thin.

“Oh I don’t want anything”, came the warm and mysterious reply, “I came to ask you - what do you want?”

Ysari flicked opened her eyes and shook her head slightly, as if she had misheard, as if her ears must be fooling her; playing some trick of the late hour and the failing light.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?” she asked, confusion evident in her voice.

“You heard me”. The woman stepped out of the shadow of the door and into the shifting light.

She was tall, and tanned, raven black hair cropped short to her skull. Her eyes were dark and intense, her moss green tunic tailored to perfection. It all combined to make a very attractive picture.

“Who are you?” Ysari asked rising almost instinctively out of her chair. She felt mesmerised by the woman.

“That’s not important. What is important is why I’m here. When was the last time someone asked you your heart’s desire?”

“Erm… never?”

The stranger walked over and embraced her. Normally, Ysari hated people touching her, but this was different. A feeling of comfort and ease washed over her like the tide, and she relaxed into the woman’s arms.

“Your whole life dedicated to other people. No-one ever considering what you need. How very, very sad. Well, I’m here now. You don’t need to bear this burden on your own anymore”.

Ysari reluctantly pulled back a little, and stared the woman intently in the face.

“You’re… you’re like me”, she exclaimed in astonishment, “I… I thought I was the only one, I never dreamed…”

The woman merely smiled at her, a long, heart-warming smile that made the cold light of dusk seem warmer again.

“They never found me”, she explained, “I never went to school you see. I was brought up… in the wild. As soon as I heard about you I knew what I was, and determined to find you. But as you know, you’re a difficult woman to track down”.

“You’ve been looking for me?” Ysari breathed in wonder, “… for how long?”

“Fifteen years give or take. But you never seem to stay in the same place, I wonder why that is?”

“Fifteen years!?”

The woman shrugged and nodded as if this was no revelation.

“So, you finally found me then?”

“Only by chance… it’s a funny story actually if you have time to listen to it…?”

---------------

“So then I said, ‘It’s a good job the dwarf didn’t hear you saying that!”

Guffaws of laughter rang around the bar.

“Ah, Khara, that was a real classic – you know I’ve missed having a bard around here. How long are you going to be in town?”

“Only until tomorrow I’m afraid”.

There were disappointed sighs from around the packed table. A small fair haired boy looked up at Khara longingly and asked,

“Oh can’t you stay another night Bard Khara? The day after morrow is my birthday…”

Khara looked into the child’s pleading face, taking in the brimming tears and the dirt smudged cheeks.

“Oh go on then Geren, you’ve twisted my arm”.

---------------

The party had been exhausting but wonderful. Khara had spent most of it wandering around chatting, telling jokes and stories, a small child dangling from each arm. She tried to pretend to the adults present that staying had been a chore for her, but secretly she had loved every minute of it.

The night had now closed in and the children bundled off to bed. Khara sat on a stool at the bar cradling a drink. It was nice to relax after a long afternoon – she loved the kids to bits but they weren’t half tiring.

“Penny for your thoughts?” the bartender asked her.

“Oh… nothing really. Just, a life on the road. Gets wearing you know?”

“You don’t need to have a life on the road… you could come and live with me darling”, a drunken voice piped up from further down the bar.

“Erm… thanks, but no thanks”, Khara replied, “I don’t think our lifestyles would be… compatible somehow”.

“Oh come on darlin’, I could show you a good time”, he slurred as he leered towards her.

“Look, piss off will you!” she yelled as she threw the remains of her drink into his face.

“You little bitch!”

He swung a punch at her and missed, almost hitting the barman.

“Look, this is a respectable establishment – I won’t take any trouble in here. Now both of you, out!”

“What? But he started it I haven’t…”

“I’m not going to argue with you Khara. Out, Now!”

---------------

The night was cold, and lit only by a couple of bright stars as it was virtually new moon. Khara shivered and pulled her cloak up around her neck to try and keep out the biting wind. Where was she going to sleep now?

She set off trudging into the gloom, and before long came to the door of a boarding hostel. She sighed. It would mean mucking in – it was dormitory sleeping in these sort of places, but better than a night under the stars. She took the two steps up to the door and knocked lightly. A rather plump red faced woman opened the door.

“Just you?” she asked.

Khara nodded.

“Alright then, in you come”.

---------------

“Erm… these aren’t my boots”

“What do you mean they aren’t your boots?”

“How much plainer can I say it? Some swine has nicked my boots and left me with these crappy ones. Mine were almost new as well!”

“Well there’s not a lot I can do about it now. Whoever it was will be long gone.”

“I thought you were running a professional establishment here?”

“What exactly were you expecting for a gilder a night with breakfast?”

That seemed to be the last word on the subject. Khara resigned herself to the situation, pulled on the boots and slung her pack over her shoulder. She shot a parting look of disgust at the woman as she trudged out of the door.

---------------

Khara sat on the grass at the side of the road feeling completely exasperated. Now a bloody great rock had gone right through the sole of the boot and into her foot. She surveyed the damage with distaste. How was she going to continue walking now?

She sat there for some time getting more and more frustrated as she tried to figure a way out of her predicament. Just as she was about to hurl the ruined boot at the nearest tree trunk, she heard the sound of wheels coming around the bend.

“Hey, hey! Can you help me?” she called out to the driver of the cart.

He glanced over but didn’t appear to be interested in stopping.

“Oh come on, help me out here?” she pleaded.

He looked as if he was considering stopping, but just then the cart ran over the exact same rock that had caused Khara’s boot predicament. He was catapulted from the cart with a shriek.
All thought of her damaged foot momentarily forgotten, Khara ran over to the driver.

“Are you alright?” she gasped.

“Argh… I think so, but, my leg really hurts”.

Khara glanced down at the man’s leg. It wasn’t a pleasant sight.

“I think it’s broken”, she told him, as gently as she could.

“Damn it! I need to be in Faraja in two days – I have goods to hand over. I can’t drive the cart like this”.

Khara paused for a few moments to think things over.

“Well I could always drive the cart for you…” she offered, “you’d get there on time and I can get a healer to look at you as soon as we arrive. Plus I don’t have to walk with a knackered boot and a butchered foot”

“You’re going that way then? How fortunate”.

“It’s as good a way to go as any. These days it seems I go wherever the wind blows me”.

---------------

“Look, my feet are almost touching the dirt!” Khara exclaimed in irritation, brandishing her severely worn boot at the bemused cobbler, “I need these resoled and re-heeled by sundown.”

“Ooh, I don’t know if I can manage that…” he replied with a sharp intake of breath, hand rubbing his beard.

Khara sighed deeply with exasperation.

“Well when can you have them done by?”

He took the boot from her outstretched hand and studied it thoughtfully for a few moments. Then he looked her up and down.

“For you… I dare say I can have them finished by midday tomorrow”.

“I suppose that will have to do. What’s the price?”

 “4 gilders”.

“4 gilders!?”

“Alright, 3 gilders and a kiss then”.

“Now don’t go getting the wrong idea”, she warned, “You’re not even remotely my type. Now you either take 3 gilders or I find another tradesman”.

“Fine. I’ll see you midday tomorrow”.

So she would have to remain in this unfamiliar village overnight. That hadn’t been her plan but she supposed it couldn’t be avoided. At least she could spend the evening in what appeared to be a reasonably pleasant tavern, discovering whether any local farmers had news of the Lady.


---------------

“And so that’s how I came to be here when you arrived. Otherwise… who knows?”

“That really is quite a tale”.

“There are lots more where that came from. I hope you like a good story”.

“As a matter of fact I do…”

Offline OfAllTheBars

Re: March 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2012, 09:12:02 PM »
The Talisman of Sreca

Baldin paused in the passage and listen to the sounds of battle behind him.  My brave, brave friends, he thought.

The journey from his home in the south had been long and brutal. Many had come to join the cause and thanks to them the defeat of The Dark Lord was now assured. The cost in lives to the people of the south was high and that pained Baldin but stamping out this evil would prevent all the free lands falling under the darkest of shadows.

Baldin shook himself out of his thoughts. It was up to him now to finish this.

The passage way continued for 30 yards or so to a spiral stone staircase leading to the floor above.  Three doorways off the passage way stood open. Each room was elegantly furnished but unoccupied. At least he was out of the castle’s servant’s quarters.

At the staircase he climbed to the floor above. Unexpectedly a doorway closed the top of the stairs. Baldin listen at the door.  When he was satisfied there were no sounds from within he carefully opened the door and stepped inside.

The room he entered was large. Fine furniture filled much of the space with drapes and cushions scattered around. A windowed door to a balcony stood open to one side and Baldin could see the trees and countyside beyond.

”At last,” Baldin couldn't immediately see who had spoken.

”Come in, come in.  I've been expecting you.” The source of the voice rose from a chair where he had been hidden by the high back.

The Dark Lord!  Baldin resisted the urge to charge forward for the kill - partly because there was too much furniture in the way, and partly because Baldin needed to be sure it was The Dark Lord. The delay frustrated him, but killing a decoy would do no good.

”Can I get you something?  I've some fine wines and we've time to talk before getting down to ending this nasty business.” The Dark Lord faced Baldin now; in one hand he held a glass of red wine.  Dressed in finery of the deepest green edged with gold braid he looked every bit a Lord and nothing like the twisted evil being Baldin had imagined. Baldin noticed something else as well - The Dark Lord was alone and unarmed.  The Talisman’s luck still holds he thought.

”I've no words for you, just the keen edge of a blade.” As Baldin spoke he strode towards The Dark Lord, avoiding a chez long and knocking an ornate occasional table aside. As he lifted his broadsword, however, it snagged on a throw across a nearby chair and he had to back step to free it.

Baldin again felt his frustration rising.

”Carful please,” The Dark Lord said with a mock look of concern. ”That throw was ’given’ to me by Queen herself - just before I severed her head. Her blood so nearly splattered the fine cloth."

Baldin’s eyes narrowed, ”You really are a murdering bastard.”

The Dark Lord stood his ground. ”Yes, I won't deny it, and I've no plans to stop. Once I've dealt with you the kingdoms to the south lay open. One more season and I will have the whole continent in my grip.”

”You forget my army still fights in the halls below.” Baldin carefully raised his sword once more, preparing to strike.

”Are you sure? I hear no sounds of battle.” The Dark Lord raised an enquiring eyebrow, as he did so he noticed Baldin’s free hand reach up to his chest and touch a small golden cross hanging on a rough, heavy chain around his neck.

”Ah, Baldin, is that the Talisman that everyone speaks of? A trinket that shapes the destiny of all, to ensure luck befalls you and your followers?”

”It is the Talisman of Sreca, handed down through the generations in safe keeping of the Royal Monks until the chosen one reached the age of 21.  I, Baldin, am the chosen one and on my 21st birthday the Talisman of Sreca was handed to me by a Royal Monk who escaped the Capital just before it fell to your evil armies.”

”So much power in something so small it’s incredible, and in your hands - the hands of ’the chosen one’.” The sarcasm was not lost on Baldin.

Baldin could feel his anger rinsing. ”Enough, you should be preparing to die.”

The Dark Lord took one step back. ”Prepare to die? Me? The Dark Lord? You have this story wrong Baldin.”

”I have the Talisman, I cannot fail. Now die!” with that Baldin swung his sword, swiftly tracing an arc that cut through The Dark Lord's hip, up though his stomach and across his chest passing just under his neck. Blood flew across the room and The Dark Lord’s face twisted first in surprise and then in pain.

Or that was the plan, that was what Baldin foresaw, but as the swing started Baldin felt a gentle breeze brush his face, and what he thought was an empty hanging suit of armour by the open window shuddered and started to move. Distracted, Baldin’s swing missed its mark, The Dark Lord easily stepping back just out of reach of the sword more concerned with not spilling his wine than the threat of Baldin’s sword.

The suit of armour crashed to the floor. It was empty, simply toppled by a sudden breeze from an open window.

”Let me tell you something about your Talisman.” The Dark Lord looked faintly amused.

Baldin quickly composed himself, his sword once more rising ready to strike. 

”You think your trinket, this ’Talisman of Sreca’, brings you luck, luck that heightens your skill as a swordsman, and a leader.”

”It is true!  I’ve killed countless numbers of your evil followers with this sword.” Baldin boasted, but The Dark Lord ignored his outburst and continued.

”Not only do you think this Talisman brings you luck and skill, but it brings luck and skill to your whole army. Some feat for a tin cross on a shabby chain." The Dark Lord was enjoying this, but Baldin was unmoved.

”My army has swept you back North, through the Great Marsh, through the mountain passes and over the Great River itself right into your castle stronghold,” Baldin drew himself up to his full height. ”No army could do all this without the Talisman!”

”Ok, ok,” The Dark Lord mentioned for Baldin to calm down. ”I admit you've down well, far better than I ever planned you would, but let me tell you just two things about your ’Talisman of Sreca’. Then you can kill me - if you still think it worth the risk, or you can run and I'll let you go. But be mindful that you and your miserable army have seen nothing, nothing yet of my power.”

Baldin improved his stance, sword ready to strike.  ”Very well, tell me two things and then die!”

The Dark Lord took a sip from the glass he held. ”Firstly, this ridiculous belief that the Talisman brings you luck - it can't and it doesn't. For a lucky event to occur thousands of individual events need to fall in line, perfectly - every single one.  Just one event out of place - a sudden breeze through the window perhaps - and your luck fails.  Are you seriously telling me that your Talisman of Sreca can do all that not just once, but hundreds of times, and not just for you but your whole army! Think again boy.”

Baldin was defiant.  ”My army being within your castle is the proof you’re wrong.”

”As I said before, you’ve fought well.” The Dark Lord conceded.  ”But I don't deal with luck - it’s too risky, I deal in misfortune. For luck to work all the events must play out as needed, for misfortune to prevail just one, just one event must fail - and that's the secret of my power - I influence just a few decisions or events - a sudden breeze through the window perhaps - and ensure the misfortune of my enemies.”

”Fine words, however, I speak with the sword.” Baldin was having none of it.  ”You were going to tell me two things?”

”Yes, and you'll like this one.” The Dark Lord leant forward as if sharing a secret, and in a lower voice went on. ”The Royal Monk, the one who gave you the Talisman of Sre?a on your 21st birthday,” The Dark Lord paused for effect, ”was me.”

Baldin was stunned and started to move, ”Tosh!”

”One moment,” The Dark Lord held up a hand and Baldin stopped. ”Jolly Farm - that's where your birthday celebration was, but the Monk, that is I, met you later in your Uncle’s cottage, ’Jasmin’ was its name I believe. You wore a bright red jumper although the night was warm - you said you mother had made it for you. You poured me a glass of wine, red, and you told me it was from the Cherry Orchard Vineyard to the east of your village.  It was disgusting by the way.”

It had been many months since anything caused Baldin to doubt himself, but The Dark Lord had struck a chord.

”If you were the Royal Monk,”

”And I was,” The Dark Lord interrupted.

”Why,” Baldin continued, ”would you bring the Talisman of Sreca to me. That makes no sense.”

”Simple,” The Dark Lord smiled. ”You are not ’the chosen one’.  The chosen one lived in a village some miles further south.  He has no idea he is the chosen one and probably never will. By me giving you the Talisman you've done a good job of deflecting attention from the real chosen one. Not only that, but by losing here today – and you have lost by the way, you've discredited the Talisman of Sreca.  No one would follow the true chosen one even if he did discover his intended destiny.”

The door to the room flew open and four soldiers of the Dark Lord, dirty and blooded entered, one spoke. ”Lord, the army of the south flees; we’ll be able to mop up those who remain alive by nightfall. Do you need help with this one?”

”Yes, deal with him,” The Dark Lord said. ”I've grown tired of the conversation.”

With that Baldin realised that the game was finished - very much finished. He sprinted to the open window and leapt, the Talisman on its chain following in his wake.

One of Baldin’s last thoughts was of how his luck had held. As he fell, not 20 feet below was the castle moat and only a few tree branches for him to pass through on the way. He'd be able to swim to the shore and escape into the woods before anyone could reach him.

Baldin’s last thought, however, was of his misfortune, as one of the branches snagged the chain of the Talisman of Sreca, a rough and strong chain, a chain that to Baldin’s misfortune not only broke his fall, but also his neck.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2012, 09:46:22 PM by OfAllTheBars »

Offline Autumn2May

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March 2012 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Open!
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2012, 07:39:15 PM »
And voting is now open!  Good luck everyone! :)

Offline Autumn2May

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Re: March 2012 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Open!
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2012, 09:04:19 PM »
And voting is now closed! Congrats to our winner OfAllTheBars! :D