March 28, 2017, 05:10:48 AM

Author Topic: [Mar 2017] - Through the Beast's Eye - Submission Thread  (Read 510 times)

Offline xiagan

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[Mar 2017] - Through the Beast's Eye - Submission Thread
« on: March 01, 2017, 11:51:19 AM »
Through the beast's eye


"I see you" by Antonio Panderas

Writing often means putting yourself in somebody else's shoes and to write from their perspective. The barmaid, the warrior, the shady detective, the witch or the orphan boy. You do this all the time, becoming somebody else for the time you write that person. If you're good at it, all the characters will read, sound and act differently, making decisions that may even surprise you, the writer.
This becomes harder, the more alien to your own life, environment, temperament and motivation your character is.

So this month we want you to write from an Alien or Monster Point of View with a distinctly inhuman psychology or perspective.

Genre is completely open, everything SFF goes. You can use everything/everyone that fits the above description, I'd even argue that a completely mad serial killer, if well portrayed, would be valid.
This is not limited to a monster-human encounter and doesn't have to contain a hunt/battle/engagement of some kind - even if it's a likely theme.


Rules:

1. This must be prose or poetry.
2. Must be written from a nonhuman perspective (see above).
3. Prose must be 500-1500 words long.
4. Poetry must be 100-500 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 next to the 'youtube' symbol.
SPECIAL RULE: In this month's contest, all submissions will be ANONYMOUS. This means that you don't post your story in the submission thread but send it in a personal message (formatted in the way you want) to  @Anonymous. (If you don't know how, feel free to ask.)
I will post the stories with that account in the submission topic, checking every day (as time allows) for new stories.
When the voting for the stories has ended (April, 30th), I will reveal who wrote which story if you didn't specify in your submission or later that you don't want to be revealed.

Entry will close March 31st/April 1st, 2017 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.

Remember that this thread is only for entries. Discussion or questions can be posted here.

« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 02:32:20 PM by xiagan »
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Anonymous

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Re: [Mar 2017] - Through the Beast's Eye - Submission Thread
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2017, 02:37:11 PM »
Please remember to post anonymously!

@Arry explained how it works here: http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/monthly-writing-contest/anonymous-posting-for-writing-contest-submissions/

This is absolutely great, because now you can post anonymously and still edit your posts. :)
We live in an age of wonders. ;)
« Last Edit: March 05, 2017, 07:38:21 PM by Anonymous »

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Re: [Mar 2017] - Through the Beast's Eye - Submission Thread
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2017, 07:46:09 PM »
The Chain Golem

1321 words


Spoiler for Hiden:
The Chain Golem


Nameless, utterly alone, It perceived a distant Voice echoing from the Outside not in sound, for It could not hear, but in thought. What served as Its mind fluttered awake, a simulacrum of consciousness possessing neither memory nor identity.

And so It was caught, trapped by perceptions from which It could not flee, for It possessed no faculty for such conceptions as thought or flight or will. Driven by the Voice whose very breath wrenched It from Its dark and timeless paths, It came, pitching through swirling lattices of darkness, light, and pain.

Wracked by flashes of whirling vertigo, It was thrust into existence, absorbed into crushing matter. It coalesced into simplistic awareness, imprisoned by the tyranny of the physical in a world of surfaces and substance.

The Voice slid through the emptiness where Its mind would dwell, if It had one: “Rise! Rise!”

And from a heap of metal wreckage, It rose, a hulking iron puppet hanging not from threads of nerves and flesh but of mind and will that were not Its own. A cacophony of clanking vibrations sounded through Its countless limbs.

Before It stood The Figure, a tall, thin being of flesh through whose eyes It saw Itself: a twisting mass of hooked chains and discarded weapons, half a ton of rough iron links roiling in the air in a wide space of flagstones between high walls and a fiery gate. Corpses lay all around the shattered siege engines from whence It came. Fragments of oak dragged at It, but It snatched them up into its clinking coils, grinding them to splinters in the way of choking serpents.

The Figure pointed to the burning gate as the ram broke through. Leaping through the fire they came, slow beings of soft, warm flesh wrapped in shells of metal and leather.

“Kill!” cried The Voice.

With lightning-fast violence devoid of malice, Its limbs lashed out, whistling through the air, thudding against armor, cutting through flesh, and snapping through bone. One by one It seized them in sawing iron loops, drew them into Itself where It churned them into an oozing paste that greased Its grating bands of iron, adding their fragments of iron and steel to Its own.

The Figure’s exultation echoed through It meaninglessly, for It possessed no passions with which to answer in kind. It knew only The Figure’s will and an urgent compulsion to obey, unhindered by choice or doubt or inspiration. Freedom.

Another flesh-thing leapt through the flames, larger than the others and girt in plates of steel. In one hand it held a broad-bladed axe, in the other a wide shield. The fleshy creature crouched and advanced, flanked by smaller ones bending curved bows. Through the smoking gate strode a figure whose eyes glowed in The Figure’s sight, bearing a staff of twisted wood.

The Figure’s fear billowed up, filling It with a resonating urgency.

With the sole sentiment It possessed, It answered: iron whip-strokes flailed at the armored figure, ringing off the shield, glancing from the greaves and pauldrons, and sparking across the high helm that glinted in The Figure’s eyes.

Behind the larger crouched the others, but It ignored them and the steel-tipped shafts probing pointlessly for the heart It did not have. Through The Figure’s ears It heard the glowing-eyed one bellow. Fire and light erupted, seared into the mass of Its surging chains. It glowed red, then orange, but still It’s limbs thrashed hissing through the air, seeking flesh. In Its coils the greasy remnants of Its victims ignited, wreathing It in flame and curling clouds of black smoke.

The large one fended off Its blows, pinned a slashing chain to the ground with its shield, and brought the axe down. The tempered blade bit clean through, and the smoking length of chain was lost to It. The beings of flesh cheered. But It had many more.

“No!” cried The Voice, and an image came to It. Forgotten, Its chains flopped ringing to the ground. The Figure’s fear surged but was ignored, as It struggled to comprehend The Voice’s will.

Again, the one with glowing eyes cried out, and glittering beams of light lanced across It, roasting Its iron in waves of heat that warped the shimmering air. Here and there, links of chain snapped and fell free, but It felt neither pain nor regret.

Through the Figure’s ears, It heard their shouts of triumph even as what passed for epiphany came: the image was not of what existed, but what The Figure wished to exist, what the Voice wished for It to do. Now knowing Its master’s will, It acted.

Its chains shot out to the end of their reach to either side, then turned and whistled past the beings of flesh, sinking into the stone and earth behind them. Anchored, It tightened Its grip, pulling Itself into them, catching them up in a fiery fence of red-hot iron that broiled their quivering flesh as It crushed their fragile bodies into the wall behind. Their screams ended quickly. It gathered their arms and armor into Itself.

The Figure’s relief passed through It without meaning. The Figure left for a time. The fires of the gate and corpses died out. Sometime later, The Figure returned, burdened with a bulging sack that clanked when The Figure set it down.

“Down,” said The Voice.

It collapsed into a heap. The Figure knelt and rummaged through the sack for a circlet of gold. The Figure pried loose a crimson crystal and set the jewel within Its chains and whispered words of power that echoed in Its mind. A new light awoke within It, and in that light, It saw.

“Kill all who come through the gate,” said The Voice, and It comprehended. The Figure hefted the sack and left.

But It remained in the courtyard, just inside the gate, waiting. The sun set and then rose, and set again. And again. And again. The cycles of light and dark alternated faster and faster, but It remained, Its crimson eye fixed upon the entryway. Sometime later, a quiet, four-legged thing of flesh and fur came through. A loop of chain whistled through the air like a cleaver. Before the antlered head had struck the ground, It was still again, and waiting.

More time passed. The cycles of light and dark whirred past as It lay, undistracted by any thought, any memory. Rain came, then dried. Periods of hot and cold, light and dark swept past while It watched and waited.

The passing of time reached a shuddering momentum that careened on and on and on - and then suddenly It crashed into the present as a small being of flesh approached, much smaller than the others whose bones had gone away long ago. The tiny being walked upon two thin legs, clutching a tiny cloth simulacrum of itself in its arms.

In motionless coils, It lay poised for the flesh-thing to come.

The fleshy being came closer and closer, pausing just outside the gate. The small flesh-thing noticed It and paused. The small eyes peeked from beneath long lashes, settled on Its sparkling eye. “Pretty!” the small figure cooed to its cloth companion and scampered closer, crossing the threshold of the gate.

With every barbed chain, It struck.

But Its limbs would not move. It strained, felt the creaking within Itself, but Its countless links had fused into a single solid mass of rusted iron.

The small flesh-thing’s hand grew huge in Its eye. The tiny fingers scooped up the red jewel, raised the shining stone close to a sparkling eye rounded with excitement. The small figure capered away on its little legs, singing and dragging its stuffed companion by an arm.

Through the gaps between fingers, It watched as the landscape careened past as Its eye was carried away. Deep within the mass of rusted iron, a single link broke free, waving wildly from its neighbor in malice-less violence, forever.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2017, 05:24:05 PM by Anonymous »

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Re: [Mar 2017] - Through the Beast's Eye - Submission Thread
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2017, 11:11:53 PM »
The wind through the trees.

1,239 words.

Spoiler for Hiden:
A cold wind gusted through the trees, into their faces, and set the branches and leaves swaying. Sunlight danced with shadows on the dappled forest floor. The goat made no sound as it gently set down its left front hoof. With equal care it stepped its right rear leg forward, keeping pace with its two-legged herdmate. The herdmate wasn’t really a two-legged creature, it had four legs. It just used two of them to walk or run. The other two legs were used for carrying things, so the goat thought of them as carrying legs. Sometimes the herdmate used its carrying legs to swat at the goat, or to feed it, or to scratch its head. Very useful those carrying legs. The two-legger carried some of its things now, made from tree branches. He stepped through the forest toward a pair of two-leggers a short distance ahead. The goat sensed that the other two-leggers did not know that either it, or its herdmate, were there. They were themselves trying to move quietly in the same direction. The goat caught the smell of the fresh deer carcass one of the two-leggers was carrying, the scent floating along on the wind. They were predators. Its stomach clenched in fear as its brain registered the smell. Its muscles tensed and it froze in place. Its two-legged herdmate stopped as well and looked at the goat. The goat made no move, made no sound. Its muscles were flexed and it was ready to dart away from danger. The two-legger slowly reached out and patted it on its head, scratching the scalp between its horns. Relief flooded through the goat, the danger was still there, the smell of the carcass still filled its nostrils and the predators remained nearby, but its herdmate stood with it and there was safety in numbers. They quietly resumed their cautious movement through the trees, toward danger.

The smell of the carcass grew stronger as they got nearer to the predators. The smell was so strong that the goat almost missed the succulent flower at the end of a thick stem near its nose. Throwing caution to the wind, the goat stretched its neck to the side and chomped down on the delicious-smelling bulb. The crunching sound it made teeth clamped down was a bit of a surprise, there must have been a large shelled beetle in the flower. The beetle’s juices added a bitterness that only enhanced the sweetness of the flower’s nectar by contrast. The goat savoured the delicious delicacy for a few moments before realizing that the two-legger was no longer keeping pace. The goat froze once again. It angled its head to take advantage of its incredible field of vision, looking all around for the two-legger. The goat didn’t see him. The smell of the surprise-filled flower filled its nostrils now. The goat couldn’t even smell the deer carcass it had been following.

Just then the goat heard the sound of a strange bird. A bird that it had not ever heard in this forest before. On hearing the sound, the goat exploded into motion, launching itself forward. It darted around an enormous maple tree and saw a strange two-legger holding a thing similar to the one its herdmate carried, in its own carrying legs. The goat bounced sideways as a metal-tipped branch flew from the two-legger’s thing. The goat felt the air rush by as the flying branch grazed its left haunch. Foam flecked the corner of the goat’s mouth as it felt a surge of terror. These two-legged predators were death incarnate and the goat had no intention of dying this day.

The two-leggers were making noises now, loud mouth noises like its two-legged herdmate made when it was in a foul mood. The goat bolted between the trees, hurtling its body forward as quickly as its legs could carry it, dodging and weaving through the underbrush, breaking the sightlines of the two-legged predators as they set off in pursuit. It was only a few heartbeats later that the goat heard a high-pitched noise from one of the two-leggers and changed direction to try and catch a glimpse of them.

One of the two-leggers was out of sight but the other leaned against a tree. The predator made high pitched sounds, sounding remarkably like an dying goat. The goat came to a stop, the two-legger was a good distance away now, at least thirty or forty body lengths, so the goat knew that it could get away if needed. Having stopped its flight, it heard sounds in a particularly dense clump of trees near the leaning two-legger. Thumping and more mouth noises, the goat realized that some of the mouth noises belonged to its herdmate.
Quickly now, the goat backtracked through the trees toward the sound. There. It saw its herdmate grappling with the other two-legger, grunting and making muted mouth noises. The other two-legger shoved the herdmate away and hit him in the midsection with a large branch-thing. The goat’s fear evaporated as it saw its herdmate in danger. It hopped back onto its hind legs and then catapulted itself forward toward the predator at a bounding sprint. The two-legger barely had time to turn around, doing so just as the goat’s horns would have collided with his buttocks. The two-legger squealed as the goat’s horns pulverized the fleshy bits between the two-legger’s legs and launched him away.

The goat’s herdmate slowly got onto all fours, then used its carrying legs to push itself onto its standing legs. Mouth noises came from its herdmate as he used its carrying legs to bind the carrying legs of the other two-legger. Searching around for the other two-legged predator, the goat saw it was still leaning against a tree. From this angle the goat could see a branch sticking from the two-legger’s back. A branch with feathers at the tip, similar to those its herdmate carried and used with its other branch thing. The goat could also smell the blood and the scent of death. Not the same odour as the deer carcass, the smell of a two-legger’s carcass was distinct and entirely different. The scent did not fill the goat with the same fear as the deer carcass. The scent of a dead two-legger meant that it and its herdmate could return to the rest of the herd.

At a sound from its herdmate, the goat turned to look directly at him with its right eye. He made the sound he made with his mouth when he wanted the goat to follow, so it came to his side. The two-legger that the goat had injured had its carrying legs tightly bound but was standing now. The goat’s herdmate put a harness on the bound two-legger, and assembled a thing from large branches nearby, pulling the other two-legger down from the tree and tying him to the thing it had fashioned. The herdmate also strapped the deer carcass onto the strange thing. The tool was strapped to the predator two-legger, who did not seem so terrifying now that it was being made to pull the thing.

The wind blew gently into their backs as they walked through the trees.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2017, 01:13:24 PM by Anonymous »

Anonymous

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Re: [Mar 2017] - Through the Beast's Eye - Submission Thread
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2017, 10:38:24 PM »
Understanding Dragons

Poetry - 217 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
All of the tales claim us dragons aren't nice,
They say we demand virgins, for sacrifice.
You say we're evil, but we're just misunderstood,
Why not eat people, when you all taste so good?
The stories say we covet gold, and hide it away,
We horde wealth for greed, or so the knights say.
You say we're misers, but such talk must stop,
If you were a dragon, just where would you shop?
The legends build fear of our fiery breath,
We leave nothing behind except ruin and death.
You say we're deadly, but one thing you've overlooked,
Why should we be blamed for liking our food cooked?
The minstrels sing songs exaggerating our pride,
I'm here to tell you, those singers have lied!
You say we have egos, but let me explain,
If you were a dragon, wouldn't you too be vain?
The poets speak of our sharp teeth and claws,
We call these a blessing, you call them flaws.
You say we are deadly and can't be controlled,
When you cut your meat, is your knife dulled?
The words on the pages tell nothing but lies,
The bards blame dragons when anyone dies.
You say we eat people, that much is the truth,
For it is not sugar that quells our sweet tooth!
« Last Edit: March 15, 2017, 11:39:51 PM by Anonymous »

Anonymous

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Re: [Mar 2017] - Through the Beast's Eye - Submission Thread
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2017, 10:58:50 PM »
Now 1500 words excluding the title. It does include some coarse language - though I considered it necessary.

The Dance

Spoiler for Hiden:

We have climbed this way before with other feet than these. As our dozen géaga walk in single file along the narrow pass, we savour the snowy peaks, inhale the crisp mountain air - refreshing after the arid heat of the desert. Four centuries have wrought many changes.  The waxing and waning of glaciers has gouged cliff faces. Rockfalls have swept parts of the trail aside. But still our géaga march towards the home they have never seen.

The sun has reached its zenith when we pick our way into a valley - once empty but now boasting a walled settlement and a stone tower. We approach within two bow-shot of the ramparts and halt. Let them come to us, and they do.

The gates open and three score of soldiers march out, mountain men made larger by the furs they must pack for warmth between flesh and armour.  They draw up with spearmen centre, archers on either side, waiting to parlay.

Their captain approaches - a big man flanked by two sorcerers. “My name is Blake.” He wears an unfriendly smile. “Who are you, my friends and what brings you to my domain?”

“We are the Dance,” our géaga declare as one, “come to reclaim our land.”

A rippling tremor afflicts the soldiers' spear-points. It seems four hundred years have not entirely erased the Dance from the memories of men.
 
Nervous whispers are cut short by the captain’s bark. “Listen, I don’t want any trouble.”  He addresses Bhí-sé-Conor, assuming that the old géag in the centre is our leader. “Have the sense not to fight. I have brought overwhelming force.”

We answer through Bhí-sí-Dervla at the right flank. “So have we.”

The speaker and her answer unsettle him. “I have sixty men and two empire wizards.” Bhí-sí-Dervla’s novice robes and youthful body draw a contemptuous sniff. “D’you think this hedge witch can lock horns with them?”

“This is your last chance,” we say together.

He turns away, giving a signal we see with nearly half our géaga’s eyes. Bhí-sí-Dervla’s hands twist into the intricacies of a cast guided by other wills than hers. Dervla may have been a hedge witch before she joined the Dance, but Bhí-sí-Dervla is so much more. The Dance carries hundreds of mages gathered in the many millennia we have walked this world. They linger still within us. Karatos of Gomian, Halbert of Nexos and many others add their weight and skill to Bhí-sí-Dervla’s hands.

The captain has barely completed turning when his two pet wizards burst into flames, tall incandescent plumes of white fire which consume them so quickly they have not even the time to scream.     

To his credit, Blake does not flinch. He wheels back, drawing his sword with a scream “Attack!” We sweep the archers aside with another spell, but the men-at-arms close the gap, shrinking the battle to a melee in which wizardry is as much a threat to friend as foe.  Forty armed and armoured men against our twelve géaga. Just as we told him, it is overwhelming force.

In the short and brutal battle we anticipate every blow, counter every move with skills drawn from thousands of the best and bravest warriors in history. Perceptions from every eye and ear of our géaga are shared with all. Sabres drive into armpits, armoured joints are opened, skulls split, as we stain the snow crimson.  The pleasure of battle consumes us, but the imminence of victory fuels our foolish pride. 

Bhí-sé-Conor is our oldest géag. Our will is strong and quick, but his flesh is weaker and slower, and in that crevice of opportunity the captain’s sword strikes – running Bhí-sé-Conor’s through. The point of his blade emerges bloodied from the old géag’s back.

We scream in fury more than pain. The direst agony when diluted across a thousand spirits becomes no more than a dull ache. The captain thinks he has scored a victory until a spell from Bhí-sí-Dervla’s fingers flings him a dozen yards back, crashing insensible into the piled corpses of his archers.

The battle lasts a few seconds more, his soldiers coughing their lives out on the snow either before or after they surrender. 

Bhí-sé-Conor still draws shallow breaths, the length of steel grating on ribs with each tiny inhalation. With a wail Bhí-sí-Caoimhe flings herself down by the dying géag’s side. They were lovers Caoimhe and Conor before they joined the Dance. Seeing his body destroyed has – for a moment - unhinged her spirit, driving her to reclaim the form she once inhabited, the géag that was her gift to the Dance. 

As his body splutters into bloody dust, her lover calls to her through Bhí-sé-Donal’s lips. “I am not there.”

And then through Bhí-sé-Usna. “I did not die.”

And then through Bhí-sí-Dervla, who lifts her up and kisses her softly. “I am the Dance.”

“We are the Dance.” Bhí-sí-Caoimhe’s reply is immediately echoed by all our géaga in chorus.

A movement draws our eyes. The captain is not dead, but in an instant we have him pinioned by our two strongest géaga and thrust to his knees. We form a circle around him.

“Get it over with,” he grunts. “It won’t change the fact that I took one of you bastards down.” He nods towards Bhí-sé-Conor’s corpse. “Bet that doesn’t happen so often.”

“Do you know who we are?”

“You are the Dance.” A grudging admission.

“You have heard of us? You know what that means?”

“I know you’re a fucking parasite, a body snatcher, turning decent folk into zombie slaves to your will. That’s why legend tells us you were driven out, out into the desert to die.”

We laugh then through all our géaga, a peel of amusement that infuriates Blake. No man likes to have his death’s door defiance ridiculed, but it is hard not to when he is wrong in so many ways.  We let Bhí-sí-Dervla be our mouth piece. She is still little more than a child and it pleases us to have this proud man take instruction in defeat from such as her.

“You poor man, Blake, imprisoned in your frame of flesh and bone, your time on earth compressed into the window between your body’s birth and death. How little you know, how little you can experience, how little you understand.”

He glares back. We watch him through Bhí-sí-Dervla’s eyes, all of us seeing the hate contort his features. He hocks up a ball of phlegm that we repulse – one of Karatos or Halberton conjures a deflection that has the poor man spit in his own face. 

“The Dance is not a parasite, those who join us – who accept the gift we offer – do so freely.”

“You expect me to believe that?”

“It was a cruel trick of your god to imprison your spirit in a body, Blake, to set a frontier on your soul more emphatic, more impenetrable than any border wall.”

“The Dance gives so much more.” We share the tale now each géag speaks a portion, forcing Blake to twist and turn to catch each new voice.

“We see through each other’s eyes.”

“We feel through each other’s bodies.”

“We share everything, every thought, every fear, every passion.”

“We are immortal.”

Blake glances across at Bhí-sé-Conor's body. “Looks pretty fucking mortal to me.”

We let Conor speak. He uses Bhí-sí-Caoimhe’s mouth – a choice that only adds to Blake’s confusion. “That is merely my body, a vessel I once lived in, but now it is just a limb I used, we all used. It is not where I exist. That body isn’t Conor it is Bhí-sé-Conor. As you would say it ‘He-was-Conor.’ I discard it as lightly as you would shave your beard. I live on in the Dance.”

“We all live on in the dance.”

 “Are you done? I haven’t been so pissed off with rhythmic chanting since my da used to make me sit through midwinter mass. Just kill me, assuming you’ve got the balls for it.  Or did you give those up too?”

We like him, even if he doesn’t like us.  Bhí-sí-Dervla kneels beside him.  For all his bravado he is trembling, not surprising perhaps since he has seen two empire wizards turned into mounds of ash by those fingers. She strokes his cheek and kisses him and we feel his spirit join us, we feel his fear and the courage he forces over it. His memories mingle with ours. A warrior who would be a poet? Maybe with time he could learn better rhymes.

We feel the wonder as his consciousness glimpses ours, as he sees all that we are and all that we have been and all that we do.

Bhí-sí-Dervla leans back and, for just an instant, Blake is caught on the cusp of the choice. “Who are you?” we all ask.

“We are the Dance,” he replies.

“We welcome you, Bhí-sé-Blake,” we say and the captain’s spirit dances with ours while his body arises as our newest géag.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 08:42:22 PM by Anonymous »

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Re: [Mar 2017] - Through the Beast's Eye - Submission Thread
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2017, 08:43:58 PM »
The Rye Mother
1,489 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Rye Mother


Like milkweed in a gentle breeze, the last tones of the sabbath chimes drifted from the little valley. The field folk stirred from their hiding places at the edge of the woods. Plink yawned and rubbed his eyes; first, two of them, then the others. "The day's half-gone," he sighed.

Jangle peered up from a deep fall of last year's leaves. "We're going to need a Rye Mother around here if this goes on much longer."

Plink shivered at the thought. "They shouldn't have bought that new bell." He dusted himself and started back to the village.

"And there's Frau Smiggen gone toes up last month." Jangle emerged from the pile to trail behind Plink. He pulled a spider from his nose and popped it in his mouth. "She believed in the old ways. Soon they'll be forgetting all about us."

"There's Vesna," said Plink. "She always leaves me breadcrumbs, and spills milk when she's churning." They pushed through the tall grass, shielded from the sun by waving heads of wheat.

"She's young," Jangle warned. "Wait till she's older. Remember Brianne? She was a girl who honored us. Then I showed her an image of her future husband in the millpond on Harvest Night. She's not given me so much as a handful of corn since."

The friends skirted the shadow of the village church, careful not to notice the stone angel looming above the door.

"You showed her the baker's son. She hates the baker's son."

"They're married now aren't they?"

"Which is my point." Plink hopped onto a rotting stump at the edge of the central green and surveyed the pasture with a sharp-toothed smile. "Let's scare some sheep."

Vesna wobbled across the rutted barnyard under the weight of the heavy milk buckets. Plink danced at her heels. She stopped at the buttery door, dipped her fingers into the warm liquid, and flicked them over her left shoulder. "Here you go," she whispered. Plink raced under one drop, then another, smacking his lips.

"Vesna!" The screeching voice made Plink miss the last dollop. He tumbled once and hid in Vesna's skirts. "What have I told you about the fairies?"

"I know, aunt. I got some cream on my --"

"Don't lie to me, girl." The woman had moved in last winter, when Plink was just a toadstool growing on a log over by the well. Even then, he'd known something bad had come. "I don't know what my sister was thinking, raising you like a little pagan, Lord rest her." The woman's voice was nearly as bad as church bells.

Vesna's aunt needed a lesson in what field folk could do. Plink peeked in at the kitchen window and spied a soup pot simmering over a bed of coals. Smiling wickedly, he pulled up some sourweed hiding in the herb garden. With a little spit and a quick rub between the palms, it would ruin anything, and the whole family would be puking from night to dawn.

Plink wound the sticky weed around a small, flat stone and trotted back to the house, humming a wicked tune. He raised the packet high and ran howling up the kitchen steps when he suddenly tripped and fell over something terrible that hadn't been there only minutes before.

Salt! The bitch aunt had sprinkled a whole line of salt across the top step. Oh, the fire! The pain! Unfair! Unfair!

Plink raced to the horse trough and hurled himself in, desperately scraping the agonizing stuff from his burning feet. He wept and cursed, rocking back and forth. I'll get her, thought Plink, if it's the last thing I do.

In the meantime, he still had the sourweed. If he couldn't poison the stew, he might still ruin the aunt's night.

The moon was just rising when the pigs began to complain. Within an hour, they'd burst their pen, searching for anything to ease their plight. By midnight, Plink and Jangle were rolling with laughter as they watched the aunt chase the maddened creatures around the farm.

"I know you're there," said Vesna, the next day, as she and Plink idled in the shade after the morning's chores. How satisfying to be acknowledged, thought Plink. "Did you need to stir up the poor pigs like that?" Of course I did, thought Plink. "Was it the salt?" Why, yes it was. "Auntie doesn't think I notice, but she believes in you just as much as I do." Oh, yes, and probably more. "Have you always been here?" What a strange question. What did 'always' mean? Plink had been Plink for as long as Plink remembered.

"I wish my aunt didn't hate you so much. Mama said we have to respect the old powers, even if we believe in the new ones." Plink didn't like that, exactly.

"I wish we could talk to each other."

Plink picked up a pebble and tossed it at a tree leaf.

"Really? That's the best you can do?" Vesna took a stick and shredded the leaf with a series of quick swipes. They spent the afternoon destroying the tree together - at least, what they could reach.

Plink spent the next days torturing the aunt. He enlisted Jangle for much of it, who wasn't having any fun over at the Smiggen place now the old lady was in the dirt. They rooted up the garden. They pushed over the cistern, making a muddy pool where wooden shoes could get sucked down deep. They tied the two plow horses' tails together so they kicked each other bloody. That was the best fun.

After each bit of mischief, Plink waited for any sign that the aunt was ready to do him the honor he deserved, but the only thing his campaign did was make Vesna angry. She re-planted peas and turnips, righted the rain barrel, and soothed the horses, complaining like a grown woman. It was maddening.

They didn't play again.

"I told you we need a Rye Mother," said Jangle, when he got tired of Plink's whining about the aunt. "The woman needs to be properly scared. They all do."

"But which of our folk would call one?" Plink was rubbing fox droppings onto the hen house door.

"Not me," said Jangle. "No one believes in me enough."

"Well, it's not me," said Plink. "It's not me." He added some of his own spit to confuse things more. The hens wouldn't sleep, and the rooster wouldn't dare come near them.

Sunday rolled around again. The field folk waited in the forest for the service to end and the church bells to ring. The idea of summoning a Rye Mother drifted from one hidey-hole to the next, like smoke from a buried fire. Plink stopped his ears with moss, trying not hear the bells or the whispers. Jangle stared at him in a way that made Plink's neck prickle. Not me, he thought. Not me.

He stopped by the village green to frighten the sheep, but his heart wasn't in it. The empty eyes of the doorway angel felt like they were burning the back of his head.

Plink decided on one last strategy. There'd been no rain for several weeks, and the wheat in the field was yellow and brittle. All it would take was a single flame to kill the harvest. If that didn't bring them around, Plink hated to think what would.

He'd coaxed a spark from a fire ant into a pile of dry tinder when Vesna came up behind him. "What's this?" She scattered Plink's little flame with one quick kick of her clogs.

"Auntie told me you're a bad spirit, but I didn't believe her. But you can't do this! You can't!" She pulled a tiny bell from her apron pocket and shook it all around her. "Holy Father, guard the north," she sang over the clamor. "Holy Father, guard the east." Plink was running for his life before she could finish the charm.

They'd forgotten what they owed, every one. There was only one thing left that Plink could do.

He found Jangle sleeping under a melon leaf. His friend blinked in surprise as Plink opened his jaws wider than a wolf's and swallowed him up before he could warn the others. Plink searched out all the field folk of the valley, feeding his belly, and growing fatter with each bite. His anger was a hunger that nothing could fill.

It was deep night when he stopped at last and felt himself change from his toes to the top of his head. Black hair fell to his shoulders, heavy breasts hung from his chest. The land trembled.

The Rye Mother rose in the fields, tarry black, wielding a whip of sparking birch. Protector of the old ways, mother of the harvest, stealer of unwary children. The village would fear her or starve. She knew which girl would be first.

Anonymous

  • Guest
Re: [Mar 2017] - Through the Beast's Eye - Submission Thread
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2017, 02:21:18 PM »
THE SHUCK

1195 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
The one they called the Shuck approached the village with a purpose. It was evident in the way he walked. One lean and muscular leg emerging from his greatcoat only briefly before being consumed by the dark fabric a slow heartbeat later. This repeated as he moved along the road. A keen eye would have noted he favoured his left leg. The vestige of some past injury. But there were no keen eyes in the village. Only ones filled with fear. And suspicion. And dread.
   The Shuck paused at the village boundary. An ineffectual barrier of rotted stakes, barely rising more than a metre above ground. He raised the front of his wide-brimmed hat with a single thumb, and turned his eyes towards the sign hanging limply from a post before him. These eyes were keen eyes, not that any would notice. Most would not dare to look into them. Milky and bloodshot at the same time, they were the eyes of a dead man at best, and a beast at worst.
   Welcome to Visonn, creaked the sign. Permission to enter if ever it was written.
   The Shuck stepped across the boundary, suppressing a tingle that ran along the length of his spine. The innate but undesirable thrill that came from entering another's lair. Oh, how it plagued him.
   Visonn was about as civilised as the swamp that surrounded it. The houses were lopsided, their windows shuttered against the foul air. The doors hanging open to let the moisture out.  They looked for all the world like beaten and bruised faces. Mouldy thatched roofs clinging like damp hair across scarred scalps.
   An old man, as worn down and broken as cart he pushed stopped his motions as the Shuck approached.
   The Shuck too stopped. Stared back at the man.
   "What's that thing on your face?" asked the man. "You're not one of them weirds are you?"
   The Shuck raised a hand to his face. Slid pale fingers across the black metal of his respiratory mask. He always wore it, like a violent dog wears a muzzle. He couldn't say why.
   "Bad air," he said, his voice distorted and muffled. "Fill the lungs if you don't take precautions."
   The old man nodded. "Makes sense," he said. "What brings you to Visonn?"
   "Looking for someone," replied the Shuck. "Priest." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of cold iron coins. "Know anything about that?"
   The old man looked at the Shuck, confused. "The chapel," he said, pointing at a tall structure at the centre of the village. "Where the priest always is." He spoke as if addressing a simpleton.
   The Shuck dropped the coins at the man's feet. He walked way, headed for the chapel.
#
The old man sketched a charm over his chest. There was something strange about the newcomer. More than just his eyes, something about him was queer, almost inhuman. The old man scraped his new money off the floor. Good, weighty. Solid and real. Whatever was going on between stranger and priest, the old man decided, it was none of his concern.
#
The Shuck stood outside the chapel, looking in through an open door. Everything about it reeked of faith. Choking clouds of incense drifted within, painting the air a hazy pink. Candles flickered defiantly in the damp. The pews were as rotted as the walls. Rags hang in the places better chapels reserved for tapestries. Splashes of red and white on the walls were a poor imitation of murals. The chapel, like the rest of Visonn, clung to existence as stubbornly as a dying man.
   "Pathetic," growled the Shuck.
   Someone within the chapel moved. The Shuck's eyes perceived a man in the blue robes of the priesthood. He seemed busy. Some trivial matter.
   "Priest!" the Shuck barked.
   The priest was no longer visible, even to the Shuck's eyes, but a voice called out, "Do come in, I shan't be a moment."
   The Shuck crossed the threshold, again rejecting that deep-rooted desire to howl in triumph. The aroma of the burning incense assaulted him, but the mask kept it from his mouth and nose. Still, his skin crawled with the sensation of a thousand burrowing maggots.
   "Priest," the Shuck said, more calmly this time.
   The blue-robed man stood before him, clutching a set of candles. "Can I help you?" he asked. "Service isn't until tomorrow." The man was young. Almost too young to be a priest, thinks the Shuck.
   "I have been looking for you," the Shuck announced. "You are Caltin Hine."
   The priest's eyes widened. "Who are you?" he asked, a tremble setting in across his pale lips.
   "They call me the Shuck, and I am your doom." With that simple declaration, the Shuck reached into the depths of his greatcoat and produced a thin metal tube with a grip at one end. He pointed it at the priest.
   "Please," the priest begged, falling to his knees like a supplicant before the altar. "Don't do this. If you spill blood in the chapel, your soul will be damned. Spare me, not for my life, but for yours."
   The Shuck laughed, a wheezing rasp behind his mask. "I was damned long ago," he said. "And I have done far worse things in a chapel than the simple shedding of blood."
   Ignoring the priest's increasingly incoherent pleading, The Shuck tightened his grip on his weapon. A loud crack rang out through the chapel, accompanied by a brief flash from the end of the tube. The priest fell back, a chunk of his skull now missing.
   The Shuck kicked the fallen priest once. When the fallen man did not move, the Shuck left.
#
On the way out of Visonn, the Shuck passed the old man again. He stopped and turned around. Saying nothing, just staring, he waited for the man to act.
   "Find what you wanted?" asked the man.
   The Shuck paused. "I did." Another pause. "You will require a new priest, I believe."
   The man stared back. He stuttered a few attempts at speech.
   The Shuck continued undaunted. "And make sure they do not burn the body. He is not worthy of such a fate. Bury him, and bury him deep."
   "But, how will God find him?"
   "He won't." The Shuck took a step forward, looming over the old man. "But if you do not obey my instructions, I will find you."
   The old man nodded quickly. "Yes. Yes, of course."
   Behind his mask, the Shuck smiled. "Good." And with that, he walked away from the village.
#
The villagers would gather later that day, and contemplate what had happened. Even as they buried the priest twelve feet deep, they wondered. Some said the stranger had been a weird, taking its mischief too far. Other thought him a daemon risen from ancient myth, come to punish the devotees of a new faith. And there were even those who thought him nothing more than a man. A cruel man, and an evil one, but a man nonetheless. But they were all in agreement on one thing: They hoped to never see the one they called Shuck again.

Anonymous

  • Guest
Re: [Mar 2017] - Through the Beast's Eye - Submission Thread
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2017, 03:19:40 AM »
Spoiler for Hiden:
(Around 760 words)

Trophic Cascade

When nature has a problem, it's supposed to sort itself out through an evolutionary process of something else. That was how it worked throughout all of history, a trophic cascade handling any species that grew too powerful for the planets good.

Unfortunately, humans broke our design. Their intelligence, their weapons, and their raw numbers dwarfed anything we'd set out to build.

So we needed to drop a quick patch.

With less than a year of testing, we'd already come up with a perfect solution, and one that would help humans as well.

Their disputes, their differences.

None of it would matter, so long as what they met was truly human.

~~~~~

I've been staking out this hilltop for several minutes, waiting for something to catch my eye, and lo and behold.

Another human.

It was a mile and a half away, but that meant little to me. After all, when you can outrun and outlast your prey there's nothing they can do but fight.

I kick off the ground, my sleek white form sliding easily past the ground before landing heavily upon the Earth in a cloud of dust.

The dust didn't bother me either, the keratin barrier between my sets of eyes protecting me from the tiny particles.

All that was in my attention was the man, hustling between a ruined house and some place in the distance.

Why would it matter, if he never made it?

My legs carry me forward, but I don't even notice as I speed through the trees both silent and unseen. My body may not look like a tree, but the thinness of my form and the blurring quality of my body made it almost impossible to notice from a distance.

Not like it mattered with these weak creatures. They were food, and nothing more.

It was a punishment, I supposed, but thought nothing else of it. My existence was proof that they were prey, so effort spent on that would be wasted.

It's not like they would care if they were dining upon my flesh, should it ever happen. I am, after all, a Golarin, not a human.

Very rarely are humans so vulnerable these days. They seem to travel in packs for protection, but we can pick them off slowly regardless. What can a fleshy mortal even do to my swift armored form.

Nothing.

So why bother thinking on them? Why are they so interesting?

I stop thinking on this, my eyes locking onto the man but a dozen meters off. I pause, watching him from a distance in a vain hope for my question to be answered.

I needn't think, but I needn't not either. My life was the hunt, but humans stop hunting sometimes.

Like they stopped hunting each other.

It was quite the sight to see, actually, but that was a different day. This man looks around in a panic, as if suspecting my presence, but there was no way to be sure. After all, I'd have to stop to...

A loud sound escapes the man's tool, and suddenly I feel like I'm missing something. There was no pain, like they felt as they were torn apart, but as I looked down I knew he had hit me.

The cry resounds again, repeatedly this time, and I notice the ground moving towards me.

My legs were now missing as well.

Funny, how you only notice these things at the worst of times.

I turn my head towards the other shots, my eyes quickly tracking down the source: a group of humans stationed in a tree with more of those long metal noise makers.

I attempt to communicate, yet I have no mouth, so all I can do is gesture as they did.

Yet, they seem angry at me. They do not fire again, but their voices speak of anger at my waving. Did I offend them somehow? I see them wave a lot, even if it is shortly before death.

Was it not a greeting?

The one I was hunting, one I now believe to be a leader, lifts his weapon towards me yet again.

What did I do? Do I deserve death for doing what I have always done? What I was built to do?

I suppose they were built to live, and killing is just a part of their life as it is mine.

A fool I was, to think about them. A selfish species, one that contradicts itself at every waking moment.

I'm glad they call me a monster.

It means I'm not one of them.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2017, 05:05:27 AM by Anonymous »

Anonymous

  • Guest
Re: [Mar 2017] - Through the Beast's Eye - Submission Thread
« Reply #9 on: Today at 03:05:03 AM »
This was way too much fun to write. Cerberus is best doggie.

Hellhound - 1353 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
Our name is Cerberus. Guardian of Tartarus, Hound of Hades, Devourer of Souls. We are three heads become one, three minds in perfect co-ordination and design. Three mouths to tear and bite, three noses to smell and sniff, six eyes to watch and wait. We are the strongest among the Demons of Tartarus and the very earth shakes at our roar.

And we are a very Good Dog.

Our day begins when Favourite Human awakes. Who is Favourite Human, you may ask? Favourite Human is the best human in the entire world. Except Master Hades. But Master Hades isn’t a human. And he never takes us to fetch sticks. But his belly rubs are so much better. That is true. His belly rubs are the best.

Ahem.

As I was saying, Favourite Human was gifted to us by Master Hades, as he was too busy to take care of us anymore. She is the bestest human in the entire world because she is our human. And that makes her the best. Even if she doesn’t let us sleep on the bed anymore, because we’re ‘shedding’.

We felt this was evidently unfair, but no amount of whimpering or puppy-dog eyeswould persuade her. And we had six puppy dog eyes! That was a lot! Besides, what even is ‘shedding’ anyway?

I think it’s when we shake fur everywhere.

But we do that because we love her!

And because it’s too hot.

But also love!

It is too hot though. And I can’t help but think- OHMIGOSH IS THAT A BUG?!

WHERE?!

BUG!BUG!BUG!BUG!BUG!BUG!

“Okay, boys…” A weary sounded groan could be heard as the bedroom door creaked open. “What’s all the barking about?”

IT’S FAVOURITE HUMAN!

QUICK! PLAY CALM!

I LOVE YOU SO MUCH FAVOURITE HUMAN!

“Who-hoah!” Favourite Human laughs as we smother her with licks and kisses. “You three are in an excitable mood this morning, huh?” She’s rubbing my head! This is the greatest day of my life! “Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy?”

GASP! She’s asking who is a good boy?

We must find out who it is immediately!

Maybe it’s one of us!

Favourite Human reached down and rubbed us across the belly. “That’s right! You’re a good boy! You are!”

OHMIGOSH IT WAS US ALL ALONG!

HOW DOES SHE KNOW THESE THINGS?!

SHE IS SO SMART!

“Okay boys, just give me a few minutes to get changed and then we’ll go for walkies, okay?” Favourite Human said, cutting off the belly rub frighteningly short.

We solemnly watched as she broke away from us and headed towards the Terror Room of Pain Suffering, also known as the ‘bath’ room. We were not allowed in there ever since we savaged the toilet paper holder. And because Favourite Human didn’t like us drinking out of the water bowl there. And because we ate one of her tampons and Favourite Human had to take us to the vet to get it surgically removed.

We spent weeks in the cone of shame for that one.

Anyway, as Favourite Human shut the door behind, we curled up into our corner bed, alone and with our bellies frightfully under-tickled.

I told you Master Hades did better belly rubs.

But she said she’ll make it up for us by taking us walkies!

There is no substitute for good belly rubs. Not even walkies can fill that void.

What about treats?

Treats are good.

Treats could maybe fill that void. But I still maintain that a well-maintain belly rub supply is more important than anything that could- OHMIGOSH THE BUG IS BACK!!

GET IT!

Letting out a roar of challenge, we leaped as one towards the foul creature, intending to crush it with all of our great demonic might.

We then immediately ran straight into a wall. That bug was more crafty than we gave it credit for…



20 minutes later and we were bouncing happily down the city streets on our leash. Favourite Human was jogging a short way behind us, like she normally did. She had in her ear one of those noisy music things with wires that we’re not supposed to eat. She occasionally nodded her head in time with the sounds.

It was still very early in the morning, so not many other humans were outside today. This was both good and bad because some humans were willing to give us headpats and treats because they were amazing humans. But some smaller humans would pull on our fur and then Favourite Human would get mad at us when we barked at them and then we got sent to bed early without dinner.

It was a grave miscarriage of justice.

Still, we sometimes missed the company of other humans. Some of them had dogs like us, minus the whole three heads thing. But those dogs always got frightened whenever we approached. We had no idea why. Maybe it was because we peed sulphur?

I didn’t like those other dogs anyway. They might try to steal Favourite Human.

But Favourite Human is our human! They have their own humans!

Other humans with dogs sometimes bring toys though.

Toys are great.

Toys are the best. We should get Favourite Human to play with our tugrope when we get back home.

What about fetch, though?

Fetch is also the best. But you guys always get in the way when I try to catch the ball.

That’s because you don’t catch it as well as I do.

Now now, no arguments you two. We can take it in turns during fetch to-

“Huh?” Favourite Human said, peering at a nearby tree. “Is that a squirrel up there?”

SQUIRREL?! WHERE?! GET THE SQUIRREL?! I DON’T SEE IT! THE SQUIRREL IS TOO CRAFTY! GET THE SQUIRREL! BARK AT IT, QUICK! SQUIRRREEEEEELLLLLLL!

Favourite Human chuckled as she watched us barrel off towards the tree, barking wildly at our deadly enemy.

“Gets them every time.”



A few minutes later and our walkies were nearly over. As a shortcut, Favourite Human led us down a secluded alley that led near to our house. There were a few scorch marks on the wall from where we last marked our territory. We were about to sprint away so  we could get to our front door first when we suddenly smelt something.

Another human!

I don’t know this human.

He smells of blood and death.

I don’t like this human.

He might hurt Favourite Human.

Stay back until Favourite Human tells us to move.

We came to a slow halt as all three of our heads let out a deep growl. Favourite Human came to a stop beside us, confused as to our warning. A noise sounded from further up the alley. Favourite Human looked up and let out a small gasp. We could hear her heartbeat increase.

The Other Human stepped into our path, brandishing a switchblade.

“Okay, lady.” He licked his lips. “Give me your phone and whatever valuables you’ve got on or else I might stick you and your dog with a few new holes.”

“Please, I don’t know who you are...” Favourite Human said, raising a hand to halt him. “…but just walk away. Nobody here needs to get hurt.”

“Didn’t you hear what I said?” Other Human snarled, flecks of spittle spraying onto the ground. Our growling increased in pitch and volume. We did not like this man. “And shut your dog up!”

“This is your last chance.” Favourite Human said. “Seriously, step away now.”

“Dumb bitch.” Other Human stumbled forward, reaching for Favourite Human. “If you won’t give it to me, then-“

“Cerberus.” Favourite Human said. We stood to attention. “Sic ‘em.”

That was what we had been waiting for.

Dark energy poured into our bones as we felt ourselves growing larger and larger. The magical veil that concealed our appearance to the mortal realm dropped away, allowing our true form to be viewed. Our growling grew louder and darker as we braced ourselves to pounce.

The Other Human turned pale. He stepped back, shaking. “Wha-What the hell is that?! M-Monster!!”

How rude. We aren’t a monster.

We are a very Good Dog.

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