April 01, 2020, 09:52:12 PM

Poll

Who wrote the best story in May?

LeifGSNotae
0 (0%)
XanderB
1 (14.3%)
Sandman
0 (0%)
DeltaDawn
3 (42.9%)
NathanVandrew
0 (0%)
THElewisdix
0 (0%)
Lor
0 (0%)
Broken Protector
2 (28.6%)
Maeglin-Amandil
1 (14.3%)

Total Members Voted: 7

Voting closed: June 29, 2012, 04:37:22 PM

Author Topic: May 2012 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!  (Read 8298 times)

Offline Autumn2May

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May 2012 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Closed!
« on: May 03, 2012, 09:54:11 PM »
If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there. - Lewis Carroll


Image by gordon.adler.

Traveling in our world is pretty simple. We print out our directions or type our destination into our smart phones, then take off along marked roads to destinations where we will arrive (barring traffic) exactly when we know we will. In fantasy traveling is not only difficult, but it can be deadly. And fantasy roads don't always lead where we believe they do. In fact, sometimes the biggest adventure in a fantasy world is the road itself.

This month go where the path may lead you, and write a short story or scene involving travel on a road, trail, or path.  It could be a hidden tunnel through the trees, a cart path cut over rolling hills, or stone steps up the side of a snow covered mountain. All roads lead somewhere. Where does yours go?

The rules are as follows:

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

The contest is now closed!  And the winner is:

DeltaDawn

Congratulations to our winner!

Come discuss this month's entries here! http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/writers-corner/april-2012-writing-(poetry)-challenge-discussion-thread
« Last Edit: July 19, 2012, 02:23:13 PM by Autumn2May »

Offline LeifGSNotae

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Re: May 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2012, 02:09:08 PM »
I figured I'd give it another shot, why not? Enjoy!

------

Past Roads

The blue bird's calls sounded like accusations in her ear. Her head snapped up and gazed through the thick forest canopy over her head, looking for the cursed creature that stabbed a regretful knife into her heart. She stopped in her tracks and lowered her head, watching her squadron marching to the drummer's beat in front of her. The steady rhythm couldn't overpower the cries of murder in her mind.

She took a step back from the trees. Someone behind her slammed into her hard, causing her to tumble to the ground. She scrambled to her feet, and spun around with her hand on her sword hilt. Her hand lifted her oversized helmet from her eyes. She wished she didn't after seeing the sergeant's face glaring at her. She snapped a salute, slamming her left hand to her chest.

"What the forty-two hells is going on here, soldier? Did I give you permission to be a coward?" the sergeant asked.

"No sir, my apologies—"

"I don't want you to stand here and apologize like an idiot, turn around and keep marching!"

She turned on her heel and fell into step with the rest of the company. She kept her head down to disguise her embarrassment, her helmet falling over her eyes once more. Her hand lifted the nose guard, revealing two stout men marching side by side with her. The one to her right turned his head and glanced at the sergeant before giving her a warm smile. "You're lucky he didn't gut you, Rejon."

"I'd rather take that than have to travel these woods again, Hari," Rejon replied.

"I don't get it. These woods aren't vital to the war effort, and no one has lived here in ten years. Why are you so nervous?"

Rejon turned her head away from him and sighed, but the other soldier on her left shook his head. "Don't you get it, Hari? Rej used to live here."

"Out here?" Hari turned to Rejon and elbowed her in the arm. "Why didn't you tell me you used to live in these woods? This is a nice place to start your life."

Rejon ignored Hari's question, keeping her eyes locked on the boots in front of her. She saw the blue and gray leathers swishing left to right, causing her to drift back into her memory. She heard children laughing in the distance, and a parent calling out to all of them that it was dinner time. Her mind raced back to the time she used to hide in the trees, until her friend fell from the branches and broke his neck. Chills caressed her body when she heard someone scream, and she swore the sound of blood pooling in someone's throat was in her ear.

She turned her head and gasped when she saw an arrow jutting from Hari's neck. His hands wrapped around the shaft, but he couldn’t do anything other than struggle for breath. Her eyes grew wide, watching the blood pump from the wound and turn Hari's blue leather purple.

Hands grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her back. An arrow streaked by her face, the sound of the feathers roaring through the air made her heart skip a beat. She fell into the tall grass and saw the sergeant glaring at her, his voice a harsh whisper. "What do you think you're doing? You've been marching while the enemy is attacking us."

"Attacking?"

"The Eight be damned, Rejon. Didn't you hear the screaming or the explosion from the fireball in front of you? If those bastards didn't have bad aim, you'd be a corpse with your friends out there." The sergeant peered through the tall grass and motioned for Rejon to draw her weapon. "We might not get all of them, but I'll be damned if—"

A wet sound cut off his words, and his body twitched before falling still. Rejon turned and crawled through the tall grass, away from the carnage on the road. She heard another explosion, felt the heat sweep over her body, and the whistling of arrows in the distance. She kept moving, her instincts taking over for the reasoning that had left her long ago.

She moved like a snake, her body pressed to the ground, and kept her movements to a minimum. Arcane words echoed across the forest, causing her to break out in a cold sweat. She pressed harder, ignoring the aches and pains from the scrapes on her palms and knees. The words danced through her mind. She could see the healer standing over her friend's body, saying almost the same phrases. The boy didn't stir; he looked so peaceful except for his head facing the wrong direction. She whimpered and continued through the grass, though the trees grew thicker the farther she crawled.

Her hand pressed against the mossy pine tree, feeling cool to the touch. She grabbed the trunk and rose to a crouch, peering over the tall grass. Most of the road she escaped was charred or bloody. Some of her companions continued to fight, though the survivors were outmatched.

She lowered her head and surveyed the area around her. Her eyes caught a small pathway leading away from the carnage. She stayed hunched over and scrambled down the path, straightening when she thought she would be out of sight of the carnage. She kept her head forward, but the bloody screams behind her caused her to stumble more than once. The boy's mother cursed at Rejon; called her a demon spawn. Her father said she would have to leave the forest behind. Her mother wouldn't look at her anymore, and the anger her brother showed her made her feel like she was a terrible mistake.

Her mind reeled from the memories, but she kept her balance and continued to follow the overgrown path. She turned when the explosions seemed closer. Her head turned around in time to see a large tree limb in front of her face. She tried to stop her momentum, but she knew she would die from the jutting limbs. She closed her eyes and offered a prayer to any god that would hear her. She came to a stop and opened her eyes.

The tree limb moved.

She ignored her fear and continued, though she swore the limb moved back into place after she passed it. Her mind now struggled with where the path led to. Thoughts danced in the back of her mind, teasing her with the idea of what was at the end. She shook her head and continued to run, tripping over her feet more than once.

Her face slowed when she saw the path dip down and disappear around the thick tree growth. Her ears heard the ocean's roar, and the salty smell overpowered the smell of sulfur and blood lingering in the air. She drew her sword and took a step toward the cliffs, her heart pounding hard enough to make her feel woozy.

She approached the edge, and her heart stopped. She fell to her knees and saw the many large orchid and white flags snapping in the wind over thirty ships in the shallow waters. The sword fell from her grip and tumbled down the cliffs to the sand below. Tears welled in her eyes, though they stopped when she heard someone yelling behind her.

The cliffs shifted near her, revealing a small path that led to the beach. Her eyebrows raised, and she felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise. She tried to turn, but something gave her a gentle push down the path. She rolled down and landed on her back in the soft sand, her eyes cast to the clouds. The cliffs rumbled, and she tilted her head back to see them shift and change until the path disappeared.

She groaned and sat up, rubbing her back and wincing in pain. She caught sight of a small cave in the cliffs. Voices said something about a survivor above her head. She looked up at the edge and scrambled to the opening before anyone could catch her. She took three steps and turned, backing into the cave without much thought.

She bumped into something.

She felt the color drain from her face, and started to weep. She turned to see a ghost standing behind her. She wanted to scream, but her voice emitted a small peep.

"You were always afraid of me, weren't you Rej?" the ghost said.

"Y-You know me?" Rejon replied.

"I should. You were the one that pushed me off the tree and broke my neck."

"I-I didn't do that. You fell from the tree. You leaned too far over and—"

"And you pushed me off. I know. I can still feel your hand against my back. I can hear your laughter in my ears. You wanted me to suffer. I took your favorite toy, remember?"

"No, it wasn't like that. I tried to grab you, stop you from falling."

"They won't believe you," the ghost said. He floated by her, its head lolling on broken neck. It stopped at the entrance and waited for a moment before offering a smile. "You have a choice to make, Rej."

"I don't want to die, Marcus."

"You can't choose that today, I'm sorry." The ghost turned to the side and offered its hand to her. "You can take my hand, come with me to the other side, and present your side of the story. You might not like what will happen, but you'll have a chance at redemption."

"And if I don't?" Rejon asked.

"You'll die at the hands of the Orchids. I've met many people on their way down to the forty-two hells. They sent many of them there with evil magic. Of course, they don't need to damn you. You ran from your duty and didn't take responsibility, much like you never used to when we were younger."

Rejon fell to a sitting position. She felt her hand reach out to the boy. Their fingers touched, and a bright flash of white light exploded from the cave at the same time the cannonball slammed through the opening.

The blue birds continued to cry murder above the carnage.

Offline XanderB

Re: May 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2012, 08:48:27 AM »
THE EASTERN GRAVEYARD

And so I left the Post Office being sure that the little boy had never carried out the task asked of him. Continuing along the main road the breeze picked up upon leaving town and I regretted not bringing my coat. There was no time to turn back as the cemetery beckoned. I studied the map and picked up the pace. Within 10 minutes the town sat behind me and I was upon the eastern road which would take travellers through the Borgo mountain pass into Bukovina and Moldova beyond, but my own journey along here would be less than a mile. On my right was endless farmland, but on the left the hedging grew steadily thicker and trees began to appear in the background. By the time I was ready to turn off there was a dense forest before me which almost entirely obscured the cemetery gate.

The gate was bolted from behind, and I stretched my hand through the bars to reach the handle. The rusty iron would not move no matter how hard I pulled. Ultimately I had to reach my right hand over the top and grip the handle at an awkward angle then, after exerting my full force, it slowly creaked as if in protest to the unwanted attention. Finally, a loud clank resonated through the leaves as the bolt jerked across.

Pushing the gate open I proceeded through a narrow path, surrounded by a tight tunnel of overgrown unkempt Cyprus trees, they met in the middle barely two metres above the ground. Bricks were under foot but so thickly smothered in green vegetation that they could seldom be seen; seldom did feet walk this way. The density of the surrounding greenery made it impossible to see how far the path stretched; it seemed to go on forever in a shallow curve to the right. Such an impractical entry to a communal cemetery was highly peculiar, and I doubted if it was still in use.
After a while the path curved to the left and then after a longer while a peek of daylight could be seen ahead. A southerly breeze poured into the opening and brought the chill air into the humid passageway. It was not a comfort for the air now seemed to have a sharper bite, causing me to shiver. I pressed on towards the opening, but stopped after hearing a large rustle in the trees behind me; too much noise to be the breeze I thought. I swung round convinced that someone, or some thing, had crept up on me but found no one in sight. Thinking it must have been the queer wind I exited the path, stepping out into eerie silence.

Before me, lay an ancient cemetery surrounded on all four sides by thick forest. Numerous decrepit gravestones were arranged across the ground, but not in the regimental manner that I have been accustomed to seeing. It was strange to see graves aligned in such an untidy way. The stones were worn and unreadable, but I was not here to examine old graves, for the tomb I sought was only erected by Pieter Strauss for his dear Eva, last year. Looking at the overgrown grass and untidy shrubbery I suspected a wrong turning had been taken into a redundant cemetery.
Upon leaving I noticed a broad well maintained path further up on my right, which led out to the main road; I had been premature in turning off. Full confirmation came presently when, straight ahead, I found the inscription set upon sparkling new marble:

EVA STRUASS OF MUNICH
WIFE OF PIETER, MOTHER OF MATTHIAS
WAITING WITH CHRIST
1904

While I searched for the tomb door suddenly there was more rustling in the perimeter of the cemetery. It died away quickly until I found the door when it started again, much worse than before. I swung myself around expecting to confront someone but was greeted by a brisk column of turbulent wind which passed over me and dispersed upon the marble behind. It took my breath away and led to a moment of profound hesitation. The dreadful thought surfaced that this excursion was folly. Could I really imagine that my Grandfather broke into this tomb on a whim? No! He would only have taken such action if he felt it absolutely necessary. And so, determined to confirm Grandfathers observations, I overcame my hesitance and considered the large, ornate door before me.

It was so peculiar, to be at the door of a tomb for the second time this week. Reflecting on that night, an oppressive sensation crept over me. Perhaps it wasn’t a trick of the tired mind; perhaps I had opened that tomb to find the dead living? Sheepishly I grasped the handle to the door before me and pulled, then pushed. It wouldn’t give. I was partly glad for whatever was, or wasn’t, inside should remain undisturbed. Yet my greater resolve was to press ahead and find a way in. Examining the door frame, I noted a slight abrasion at the lower-right corner where a small piece of tree bark was wedged. Had Grandfather used this point to lever the door open? Searching the ground around me I found a stiff branch, propped up against the side of the tomb.

A good measure of zeal sprang through my blood and with one downward thrust the door gave way with a low thud. Carefully entering the darkened room I stopped to light the lamp before continuing. The crypt was quite bare, the only décor being some elegant statues placed upon shelves and a plaque upon which some scripture was displayed. I wasted no time in approaching the coffin which was beautifully sculpted out of black stone; it gleamed in the flicker of the lamp behind me.

Inspecting the lid, I made my way along the right hand side and up to the head. The locks unhooked easily and I placed both hands on top and readied myself for a push that would place me face to face with the corpse. At that moment a black ripple moved across the lamps reflection upon the coffin. I glanced across and observed briefly what I though was a figure by its side. Letting go of the coffin lid I stepped toward the lamp but saw nothing. Perhaps it was only a gust of wind which had licked the lamps flame. Turning back towards the coffin a scream sounded from the doorway. At the same time a blast of wind coursed through the graveyard and the door slammed shut, the lamp died; the inky darkness leapt out from the shadows and soaked the world.

I fumbled in my bag for a match and ignited it on the stone wall. Upon ignition I was immediately aware of a small face in my peripheral vision. The fright caused me to drop the match. After a desperate few seconds I lit the lamp again and opened the door wide. Looking back towards the coffin it seemed that the cause of my fright had only been an oval shaped vase positioned on a low shelf. I wedged the door open with the branch and returned to the coffin lid.

With one push the sarcophagus was hatched. Its depth was such that the lurid light barely reached the interior walls. I detached the lamp and carried it across. My unease was reduced by the sight before me, for there was no vibrant undead creature, only a corpse, in the process of decomposition, as one would expect.

Carefully I unfastened her gown and found, straightaway, what I sought; the two puncture wounds encrusted with blood were there in plain sight, as mentioned by Grandfather – he was right! Even the stain of blood seepage was still visible on the skin of her breast, around the nipple. Then came a moment of profound realisation – this bite was mine own. Franticly I unbuttoned my blouse and inspected the mark. To my dismay it was an exact match in appearance, diameter and location. Furthermore my wound now appeared infected for it was swollen and red; an unpleasant puss oozed out as I pressed with my fingers.

The boy! It was the boy who withheld Grandfathers letter from the Postmaster! It was the boy who drew me out here in search of Grandfather. It was the boy who ensured my survival from the wolf. It was the boy who bit and suckled upon his mother until she died, and would do the same to me! It is the boy who corrupts and deceives. And yet he stood without suspicion, even under Grandfathers masterful scrutiny!

The weight of this realisation brought me to my knees, and left me dizzy. My head grew heavy and the light dimmed as my neck gave way. I sank to the ground; all went dark.

After what seemed like only seconds, I opened my eyes and checked my time piece. Three hours had passed! The lamp was still lit, but the daylight no longer poured in through the door which was, to my relief, still ajar. Struggling to my feet I pushed the lid back in place to close the sarcophagus. Blood dripped onto my hand; I’d been bitten, bitten on the neck! Quickly I left the crypt and stepped out into the cemetery which was now under a dark sky. I would not dare take the narrow path, the very thought of that claustrophobic tunnel repulsed me, and so I ran instead for the main gate on the far side of the cemetery but it was bolted and chained. I used the horizontal bars to clamber up with the intention of lowering myself down the other side and onto the road back to Bistritz.

Sitting astride the frame I faced a new horror. A pack of wolves sat below on the roadside waiting for me. I quickly jumped back in, triggering the silent group to commence in a terrifying chorus of protest, and ran through the graveyard. Looking back over my shoulder I could see that they now worked together desperately to dig their way under the gate. There was no time to spare, with a deep breath I dived into the same path from which I’d entered. In here no moonlight shone, it was pitch-black and to my great despair I found that I was not alone.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 09:44:59 PM by XanderB »
D, x

Offline Sandman

Re: May 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2012, 04:51:08 PM »
   This is an excerpt from my novel Of Pawns and Kings.
   In this scene, my heroes are trying to enter the haunted tower of the legendary mage Morandon to find the talisman of Ayleanna, a powerful relic needed to destroy a malicious evil. An attempt at the main entry has been made, and they have been met by a force of undead enemy.
   Thank you so much for your consideration.
   J.M. Campbell

   When the knight reached his friend, he tried to pull the dwarf free from the undead enemy’s hold, but he could not free Raelinthor. Raising the sword of Braxtus-Candor high above his head, he brought it down hard, hacking at the undead hands. Foulness spilled out, putrid blood and maggots, and the force of the release sent Raelinthor and Torajinn tumbling.
   Emberfawn ran to Torajinn’s side as did Gabriel, and Nieja’s body rocked as the heavy tower door slammed shut with great force. Evil laughter and hideous screams could be heard from within, and then all was quiet.

   The members of Orban’s party were quick to move from the stairs of Morandon’s Tower. They regrouped several yards away behind part of the fallen turret.
   “Is everyone all right?!” Emberfawn asked, as she began to string her bow. They were all there, Orban and Nieja the two magi from Water’s Edge, Torajinn the knight, Gabriel the cleric from the Dry-Sea Plains, and of course the dwarf Raelinthor.
   The later stood between the party and the tower, just on the other side of the large piece of parapet. He stood in a dwarfin battle stance, holding his battle axe before him. His shoulders heaved with heavy breathing. “Come to face us! Come out of the dark!” he cursed back at the tower.
   “Lo, it’s bad!” Torajinn said as he withdrew a bloody hand from under his shoulder plate.
Emberfawn moved to his side and began to unbuckle the strap. Removing the plate armor, she could see that his buckskins were torn and that there was a deep gash in his upper bicep. Blood steadily oozed dark-red from the wound. “Gabriel, Torajinn needs you!” Emberfawn said.
   Gabriel moved to the bonded knight’s side. “Step away from us.” he told her.
   Emberfawn moved back a few feet and watched the cleric expectantly, but the warrior in her required that she worry also about the party’s welfare. Picking up her bow again, she looked to the tower windows. Did their new enemy look down upon them now? Did they plan an exterior attack?
   Nieja knelt further from the tower than did the others. He stared at it with a strange look upon his face. He still held his dagger in his hand as well as his mage stone. Orban and Gabriel came to rest beside him.
   “Are you well?” Orban asked.
Nieja did not answer.
   “Obitobaz!” Orban called.
   The use of Nieja’s formal name woke him from his thoughts. “Yes master?” he asked.
   “Are you…” Orban began.
   “I am not injured.” Nieja said.
   As Raelinthor continued to yell obscenities and challenges at the tower, the other joined Nieja and Orban. “What now?” Torajinn asked, and he kneaded his freshly healed arm.
   “It is over! I cannot ask you to go into that place again.” Orban told them, looking to the dark, haunted site. “I will have to go alone.”
   “No, you can’t!” Emberfawn exclaimed.
   “I have my magic, and besides, I must.” was Orban’s reply.
   Nieja was still staring at the tower. He was silent and did not object to the talk of Orban’s obviously suicidal plan. He simply looked at the tower.
   “You’ll be killed without dwarfin steel!” it was Raelinthor that now spoke, having also joined the party.
    “We’ve all got to go back! We must tell the King that it was hopeless. We will meet his army on the north side of the Screaming Elf Forest, and we will defeat whatever evil lurks there.” Torajinn said.
   “The evil is Ayleanna! And no one can defeat her…not without the amulet.” Orban professed.
   “I know this place.” Nieja said quietly.
   “If we go back in there, all of you will die, and I will have to go home lonely!” Raelinthor exclaimed.
   “I know this place.” Nieja said, a little louder.
   Gabriel turned his head to the white mage. “Shhhh!” he said to the others, “Nieja, what did you say?”
Nieja looked at the tower and then to the cleric, dropping his head, what he said was barely a whisper. “There is another way in…”

   Heartsick, defeated…afraid, they walked, fighting tangled vine and rocky, jagged trail. Nieja led the others as they retraced their steps to the gate of Morandon’s garden wall and beyond. They moved away from the tower, farther east through the wood.
It seemed like a long time, the walk, and all in the party were confused. Nieja was leading them downhill, away from the place they were supposed to be. After a while, the air became more damp and the smell of stagnant water reached their nostrils.
   “Stop…Be careful,” Nieja told them.
   If Nieja had not warned them, Raelinthor and Torajinn would have tumbled head-long into the deep creek-bed that crossed their path in front of them for thick brush growth concealed it from view.
   Nieja followed the creek and beckoned the others to follow him. After a short walk, he came to where a smaller stream joined the large one. This one led back west, toward the tower. It was merely a trickle, and Nieja led the others that way.
   “We are here.” Nieja told them.
   “What do you mean?” Torajinn asked.
   It seemed that Nieja had simply led the others out into the middle of the forest. Emberfawn and Raelinthor moved out to guard the party’s flanks, while Orban and Gabriel joined Nieja and Torajinn.
   “This is it. Clear the area there.” Nieja said as he pointed to the place from where it seemed the water trickled.
   “Nieja, what is here?” Orban asked as he leaned heavily upon his staff.
   Gabriel did not ask any questions; he simply moved to the soggy, muddy thicket of brush and began to pull away the foliage.
   “Look and see,” Nieja said.
   Soon the brush was clear, and they looked down at the ground. There before them, was the darkness of a grotto, a corridor, black and deep, running into the hillside. The trickling water came from the opening. It was about four feet high and five feet wide. It was not a natural cave, for at the mouth was an arch of cut stone.
   “How did you know?” Torajinn asked Nieja.
   “I remember being here, walking these lands.” he answered.
   “When were you here?” Gabriel asked.
   “That is the mystery; I never have been.” Nieja replied.
   Orban looked at the sewer and an expression of understanding came to him. “It is the empowerment.” he said, looking to Nieja.
Nieja nodded his head, and as he spoke, all of the members of the party listened. “I know this place.” he stated again.
   Emberfawn and Raelinthor now gathered near the arch as well, only periodically glancing over their shoulders.
   Almost absently, Nieja continued. “I remember no thick woods, and the stream was strong and clear. The land was rolling hills, clear and green. Only tall oaks and planted fruit trees dotted the land. It is like a dream. No…it is like remembering a dream.” After saying this, Nieja was quiet for a moment. Then he continued, “But, I do know that this leads to the inside of Morandon’s Tower,” he said, pointing to the trickle.
   Emberfawn looked at Torajinn and then at the dark opening, and the dread began to return…


   The beautiful elfin assassin led the way, crawling through filth on her hands and knees. On two occasions she sliced the heads from snakes with her long battle-knife and shooed rats before her, scaring them to someplace ahead in the tunnel.
   They crawled for a long time, and at one point during the ordeal, Orban began to weave the web of magic.
   “Stop!” Nieja said. “We must wait for him.”
   No one could see the gestures Orban performed with his hands. No one could see that he lay on his back on the floor of the tunnel, the filth squishing around him. But they could hear the eerie words of the language of magic.
At the head of the line, Emberfawn felt a cool breeze against her sweating face, and it seemed that in the breeze something passed her. Nieja, too, felt a presence, soothing and peaceful. As soon as the feeling hit him he heard Orban sigh deeply.
   All was quiet for a moment. Then, Nieja could hear his master moving. Orban reached out in the darkness. “I am ready now.” he said as he squeezed Nieja’s ankle.
   When the elderly mage was ready, they crawled again. Long, upward they labored, and Emberfawn could feel the space before her opening up, and the scent of the environment changed. Also, there was a change in her vision, a slight color change when she looked directly ahead. When she felt for her next hand placement, the floor was gone. Groping in the darkness, she felt the stone’s edge.
   Emberfawn painted a picture for herself with her hands, her eyes, and her ears. Feeling with her hands, she could tell that she was exiting the tunnel through an opening much like the one the party entered in the forest; it was arched, and mortared, cut stone. The color change her elfin eyes could detect told her the room was large, and here and there she could see the body heat of scurrying rats. Her ears picked up the echo caused by her booted foot against the stone floor.
   The Shadowfighter moved out into the room to make way for the others to enter. She knelt and drew her elfin blade, holding it before her, and again the dread filled her. She felt as though she was watched by unseen eyes in the darkness. She could hear Gabriel exit the tunnel, and then Nieja.
   There was more noise and the shuffling of soft boots on stone as Orban exited the tunnel. “Ishta!” he said, and simultaneously a crack! Sounded as the master rapped his staff on the floor.
   The mummified hand at the top of Orban’s staff held forth the floating blue orb, and the now familiar tranquility accompanied it. The soft blue light filled the room revealing all that was unseen.
   It was a large room, dark and damp. The walls were cut from bedrock, like those of a tomb. Here and there, along the walls, were oblong alcoves where, in a time far past, oil lamps would have burned.
  Eerie shadows danced upon the stone walls as Orban came to kneel beside Emberfawn. “Two doors…there and there.” Orban whispered, pointing. Emberfawn looked, and indeed there were two ways out of the room. On the far wall was a large oak door, and on the left, a smaller twin.
   The clink and scrape of steel armor announced Torajinn and Raelinthor’s birth from the dark tunnel. “Oh, this is fine! Look at me beard!” Raelinthor exclaimed.
   “Shhhh!” Emberfawn scolded, as the dwarf busied himself with trying to work out the sludge clinging to his whiskers.
Raelinthor moved to one of the walls and sat with his back against it. He panted for breath, for the crawl through the tunnel had been hard on him. Laying his battle axe across his lap, he continued trying to comb the slime out of his beard.
   Torajinn moved to be beside Emberfawn and Orban. “Which way, and what now?” he asked.
   Orban looked at the dwarf and then at the others in the party. He knew they were all tired. Also, though now he felt as refreshed as a teen, having cast the very powerful spell, it required a heavy toll.
   Vigor would replenish strength and stamina to any mage, no matter their age. But the wizard could not cast a subsequent spell, or the power would be neutralized, and the caster would feel the draining effects of both commands, probably rendering him unconscious.
Considering this, Orban’s answer was easy. “This place is quiet, and we have not been attacked. I think we should take some rest.”

Offline DeltaDawn

Re: May 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2012, 06:34:02 PM »
                                                                    Alvaro’s Passage

   For as long as children had been tucked into bed, their dreams had been filled with mysterious beings called Earthen, that according to legend, lived just below their feet. Ariana was no exception, but they were only children’s tales. Beyond her days of playing at make-believe, the princess was no child.
   Fast approaching was the day her father would choose for her a husband and she had already made sure the king was aware of her interest in the handsome Lord Gavyn. When Ariana’s brother, Prince Daemyn, had been invited to a hunt on the grounds of Lord Gavyn’s estate, she begged her father to allow her to go along.
   Daemyn reluctantly agreed to chaperone, though he wasn’t overly concerned. Gavyn was a very respectable gentleman. The prince was more interested in the hunt, the real reason for the trip. Daemyn didn’t even notice when his sister’s mare began to fall behind as the party traveled.
   The winding road to Gavyn edged along the Ancient Forest, flirting with its mystique beauty as it occasionally dipped into the cool shade of her canopy. The road, finally seduced by the forest, turned into the woods. Daemyn and the men were engrossed in conversation and Ariana was dreaming of Lord Gavyn. Each were preoccupied with the destination, not the road. If Daemyn had been paying attention to his sister or if she had been paying attention to anything other than her daydreams, they may have arrived safely at Lord Gavyn’s estate with little to tell of their journey, but as often happens, the real journey began when Ariana left the road. 
   The small squirrel was nothing more than a flash as it darted between the hooves of Ariana’s mare, spooking the horse into the forest.
   “Ariana!”  Daemyn yelled, but his sister had disappeared.
   Ariana screamed as the horse, barely missing trees, cut sharply to the left, throwing her rider before galloping out of sight. Ariana landed hard on her back, knocking the breath out of her, leaving her scared but unharmed.
   Ariana lay on the ground, her eyes closed, unable to breathe.
   “Where in Earth did you come from?” a voice asked. The language was Aurelian, but the accent was so strange the words sounded foreign. When Ariana opened her eyes, a young man hovered inches from her face.
   “What kind of question is that to ask the princess?”  Ariana replied as the strange young man helped her to her feet. Concluding that she was lost, but not hurt, the princess noticed the strange clothing her would-be rescuer wore. “I’m Princess Ariana,” she said, deciding he was definitely not Aurelian.
   “Alvaro.” 
   “Pleased to meet you, Alvaro.” She said and she really was. Alvaro, even dressed in such simple clothes, made her forget all about Lord Gavyn. “You’re not from Aurelia,” she said, more as a question than an observation.
   “No.” Alvaro confirmed, but offered no further information.
   “Where are you from?” She pried.
   “Is that your mare?” he said, avoiding her question. He knew he shouldn’t have wondered so close to the edge of the forest. When he’d seen the girl fall from her horse, he had only meant to make sure she was alright. “She’s more than alright,” he thought. “She’s beautiful!”
   “Maybe you can catch her,” she said motioning to the mare. “She never has liked me.” Almost on command, the horse trotted up and nestled her head against Alvaro. Ariana was amazed and a little jealous as she gently rubbed the mare’s soft neck.
   “I should show you back to the road.” 
   “Yes. Daemyn must be looking for me.”
   “Daemyn?” He asked, disappointed.
   “My brother.” She explained, smiling. “I can’t wait to introduce you. I’m sure he will insist that you come and stay with us at Carawyn Castle.”
   “No!” Alvaro squeaked. “Uh hum… I mean, I couldn’t impose.”
   “It would be no imposition. I must do something to repay your kindness. Please say you’ll come to Carawyn.”
   “I really can’t.” Again he offered no explanation, but his eyes conveyed a more sincere apology than words could have. He reached to take her hand. Then suddenly drew back, but the mistake was already made.
   The instant Ariana saw the dirt on his hands, everything made sense and nothing Alvaro could have said would have hidden the truth. "A boy alone in the fabled Ancient Forest. He wears such strange clothing, yet he speaks perfect Aurelian. He never said he wasn’t from here, just not Aurelia," she thought.
   As Ariana put all the facts together, Alvaro wanted to run, but he couldn’t move. Enchanted by her beauty, he could run forever and never escape her. A chance encounter it was, but their paths had crossed and their hearts collided.
   “Ariana!” Daemyn’s voice was faint, but growing louder.
   “I have to go.”
   “I know.”
   “Ariana!” Daemyn was drawing closer. Ariana looked for him over her shoulder. When she turned back, Alvaro met her with a kiss. It was simple. Innocent. Gentle. And it was over before Ariana even knew it was happening. “Ariana! Thank God, you’re safe!” Ariana turned, blushing, to greet her brother. “Look at you! You’re flushed and you look as though you might faint. Are you alright? Were you talking to someone?”
   “Daemyn, this is-” But when she turned back, Alvaro was gone.
   “This is… what?”
   “There was a boy… a young man that helped me up and found my horse.”
   “Ariana, there’s no one here.”
   “Not now, but there was.” Daemyn unsheathed his sword. “Daemyn, no! He rescued me!”
   “A man rescued the princess of Aurelia and then disappeared without a reward? He must be a thief! Get on your horse Ariana. These woods are not safe.”
   “Daemyn, he is not a thief.”
   “Do as I say!”
   “Daemyn, I think he is an…Earthen.” 
   “Dear sister, you must have hit your head.”

   Daemyn forbade Ariana to tell anyone about the stranger she met in the forest. But as silly as his little sister could be at times, she wasn’t prone to making up tales.
   At Lord Gavyn’s, Ariana was as polite as ever, but Daemyn noticed she seemed distracted even when Gavyn paid her special attention. For the journey home, Daemyn, on the pretense of entertaining friends at Carawyn, tripled the size of their group and stayed close to Ariana’s side.
   As they passed the place where her mare had bolted, Ariana strained to see through the dense brush, hoping to catch a glimpse of Alvaro. Alvaro, though he was right beside her at times, was Earthen and easily blended into the forest that had concealed his people for centuries.
   As summer passed, Ariana stayed busy. She lost count of the balls and banquets she attended, but at night after the laughter and tinkling of crystal had quieted; she would sit alone at her window and look out over the vast darkness that was the Ancient Forest.
   Alvaro’s life was very different from the fanfare of Ariana’s. The Earthens were strictly against such extravagance. Their society held strong to the belief that everything was of the Earth and a gift from the Creator. To take more than was necessary was a disgrace.
   Alvaro was not an Earthen prince, but he was counted among the most respected of all the Earthen. Alvaro was a Terrae. He had been blessed by the Creator with the ability to command earth by simply laying his hands to the soil.
   At first, Alvaro fell behind in his studies and seemed almost ashamed of his gift. But then even Alvaro’s mentor, noticed a renewed interest and sudden improvement in his abilities. Alvaro shrugged it off, but he knew what the difference was. An idea had come to Alvaro as he lay awake wishing that he could actually go to Carawyn as Ariana had suggested. The next night he began to work. 
   The plan was simple. He would open a passage from the Earthen village, right to Ariana’s door. “The princess is accustomed to such luxuries. Could she ever be happy living like the Earthen,” he thought. He continued anyway, hoping that she would at least be willing to try.
   When Alvaro reached the halfway point between Carawyn and the Ancient Forest, he found that an underground river blocked his path. At first he thought about going over or under it. Eventually he decided to expose its natural beauty. Never did he think of quitting.
   Alvaro wasn’t the only one building something for Ariana. Her father, proud of the beautiful woman she had become and noticing her constant presence at her window - looking towards Lord Gavyn’s he assumed- commissioned a garden, complete with a statue of the princess to be built beneath her window. He decided it would improve her view and also be a wonderful place for her wedding.
   Staring blankly out at the darkness, Ariana never noticed the swift shadow moving about the garden, but Alvaro noticed her. “How beautiful,” he thought, like a painting framed by the window, her face bathed in moonlight. The newly placed statue, however, intrigued him the most. A stunning stone replica of Ariana stood causally upon a tall dais. Alvaro fancied the stone princess was looking towards the Ancient Forest, longing for her Earthen love, but the thing he liked most was that the podium was hollow, a perfect entrance to his secret passage.
   Alvaro ached for the princess, but covered in dirt, he decided to wait until the next night before showing Ariana the escape he’d made for them.
   Just as he had planned, Alvaro returned for Ariana the following night. She was amazed at what he had done in such a short time. Where Alvaro had run into the underground river, he’d excavated an impressive chamber that allowed the river to flow through. Over the water he’d designed a unique bridge by carving away the earth around it.
   It was there, standing on the bridge between their two worlds, that Alvaro asked Ariana to be his bride. As Ariana looked into his eyes, she was never more in love. She wanted him more than anything, but he had come to her too late. Everything had been arranged. Her marriage to Gavyn was to take place the next day.
   “I’m sorry, Alvaro,” she sobbed, running back through the passage. At the top of the stairs, she pushed back the heavy stone Alvaro had loosened as a doorway at the base of the statue.  She sat there, tears streaming down her face, when Daemyn found her.
  “Ariana, what are you doing out here? Mother and father are worried.” Daemyn said. “What’s this? Tears of joy, I hope. Happy wedding day, sister.” Ariana looked around and tried to be happy as she realized that her wedding day, the day she’d waited for all her life, had finally come.
   Later, from inside the statue, Alvaro watched the ceremony. He couldn’t see the tears hidden by Ariana’s veil, but they were there. That night, knowing she’d made a terrible mistake, she left Gavyn’s bed and entered the passage.
   Inside, the torches Alvaro had placed along the walls still flickered with light and, to Ariana, hope. She ran as fast as she could down the secret passage. She crossed the bridge, her feet barely hitting the ground, knowing she had crossed over into another world, his world. Then suddenly she stopped.
   The passage was closed. A wall of dirt blocked her path. Ariana sat down beside the wall and leaned her head against it as she cried. She tried to dig through, she tried until her delicate fingers bled, but it was no use.
   Ariana sat there facing the wall, when she realized that some paths, especially the ones that lead to our hearts’ desires, are open only for a time… Then, like Alvaro’s passage, they remain, hidden from the world, vacant except for the ghosts of what might have been.

Offline NathanVandrew

Re: May 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2012, 02:17:44 AM »
                                  The end of the rainbow


             Bradley had been searching for it for an hour already, and things were looking dim.
             "I thought it would be right around here", he stood in the middle of a large clearing holding a piece of paper in his hand, and scratching his head in confusion.
              "Well you thought wrong, and you've gone and woken me up, all for this stupid rainbow search, when will you just learn your lesson and accept that there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In fact, there is no actual end to a rainbow. Next thing you now we'll be searching for Unicorns, Big foot, and Nessie.
              "All in good time Charles, but please let's just focus on one thing for now, that's what I admire about you, always wanting to do more."  Bradley turned his map upside down.
              "Sometimes I think you just hear what you want to." Charles let out a sigh, and then a yawn.
             "Sometimes I think too, but I don't know what that has to do with us finding where the end of the rainbow is, now if you would be so kind as to tell me what time it is." Bradley turned the map in an angle so that it looked like a paper diamond.
             "You're ridiculous, it's six thirty in the morning" glancing at his watch, "and to be quite honest, I think that you're wasting my time, and yours, we should be asleep. I should be dreaming about this, and not experiencing it." Charles yawned again,     
             "If you don't find it in the next five minutes I'm leaving." Charles looked at his watch and back at Bradley.
             Bradley put the map down, and lowered his face to the ground, adjusting his head so that his ear was on the ground.
               "What in God's name are you doing?" Charles scrunched his face wishing he were underneath blankest on his way to lala land.
               "Please Charles, you musn't talk, I appreciate your inquisitiveness, but really it's quite annoying, you should see about getting that fixed."
               Bradley stood up, and penciled some things onto the piece of paper, that Charles realized wasn't a map, but a drawing of stick figures fighting each other. "I'm leaving."  
              As Charles was on the outskirts of the clearing Bradley called, "Here it is!"
              Charles turned around, not seeing whatever it was that Bradley seemed to be looking at. "What are you talking about?" Charles looked all around the clearing, seeing if he had missed something.
               Bradley walked over to Charles, "You see, a rainbow is a pathway, a road, and every road has it's end even the most beautiful ones count down with me, 3, 2, 1" As the number one had come out of Bradley's mouth, Charles heard a sound like a slot machine, and before them a rainbow revealed themselves, or at least the end of one. It looked more solid than it ever did in the air, almost like a staircase.
               Down from the staircase walked a little man with a briefcase. Bradley called to the little man, "Ho, little man, where is your pot of gold, and why are there stairs at the end of this marvelous little pathway, there was nothing about stairs in the diagram."
               The little man hobbled down the rest of the steps, and kicked Bradley in the shin, causing a shriek of a little girl's to come out of him, to which Charles got a smile out of, for the first time that morning.
                "Never call me a ho again," rolling his eyes, "Big people, think they can do whatever they want." The little man started explaining "I don't have a pot of gold, I have this!" Holding the suitcase , he opened it to reveal a large sum of bills. "One million dollars to be precise." The little man said as if reading Charles's mind.
                "The stairs are for my back, you have no idea what slides do to your posture." The little man cracked his back, as if the mention of bad posture made him cringe.
           Bradley looked at the briefcase, then at the little man, "So, are you going to try to stop me from taking it or what?"
           Charles couldn't believe it, Bradley was staring at a million dollars and asking the little man to stop him. Ridiculous.
           "No, I used to play that game, but as of lately I've gotten old, and to be honest, tired of tricking people out of their money." The little man gestured for Bradley to take the money.
           "Really?" Charles asked, getting more interested in the rainbow pathway by the moment.
          "No. Not really, if you answer my question wrong, the money and myself go poof." The little man said, snatching up the suitcase and closing it in one swift motion.
            "What's the question?" Bradley asked rubbing his shin, the little man had quite powerful a powerful kick for being so tiny.
           "What's my name?" The little man sat on the briefcase awaiting the inevitably wrong answer.
            Charles panicked, "How could we possible know that we don't even-"
            "Darius Eisenhower Ferdinand Gerard the fourth." Bradley said adjusting his glasses, like he had known the answer for quite some time.
            Both Charles and the little man looked shocked, Charles pointed at the suitcase and little man, "How could you-"
           "Guess my name correctly?" Darius finished the sentence that Charles hadn't intended.
        
             Bradley pointed to the little man, more specifically his case of money, "It's on your suitcase."
            Darius looked down begrudgingly as he noticed the suitcase painfully more clear in his hands now.
            Darius slowly made his way back to the stairs of the rainbow, "It's all yours."  Darius waved and pushed a button that Charles swore wasn't there before, and the stairs turned into a rainbow escalator.
           Charles picked up the suitcase and opened it expecting a flow of money to pour out. As the suitcase revealed it's empty content Charles looked up at Darius only to find him giggling and pointing at the two men in the clearing. "Yeah right, as if I'd ever give you two clowns a million bucks, you can kiss my fanny." His Irish accent making the insult all the worse.
           Bradley picked up the suitcase opened it up, and placed his paper of stick figures inside, "Just what I needed, now come along Charles, I believe Unicorns was the next on your list, we'd better get going, I think you've had enough of rainbows for one day."
              

Offline THElewisdix

Re: May 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2012, 03:43:43 AM »
Here's my first attempt at this writing challenge thing. Made up a setting particular to this story. -- Was fun!!
  
The Savior's Road


    Five travelers sat huddled around a meager fire in the center of a stone highway, wary of the approaching night and the darkness that came with. Five sets of eyes followed the writhing flames, careful to avoid the hungry stares of the shadowy creatures gathering to either side of the Savior’s Road.  For to look into those empty red eyes was to become transfixed by the promise of the void, to step uncontrollably beyond the barrier and be devoured body and soul.

    “You sure the Road’s safe, Reshi?” asked one of the travelers, a red bride of Shallam, though she was sure to keep her eyes on the cross she held in her lap. “Safer than being off the Road,” replied an old man in a tired voice. Reshi didn’t bother to look up from the wood he was shaping with his calloused hands, and though she trusted his judgment, He is our guide, after all, and has made the pilgrimage twice already, his words did little to comfort the foreboding she felt at the night’s slow but inevitable embrace.

    Frowning, the red bride said a prayer to the red god of blood, which brought forth a chuckle from the two brothers, Taros and Piker; mercenaries she’d hired to protect her from the fey and bandits and other such dangers one could find when traveling the highways of Eralon. She had to resist the urge to eye them then, to give them that righteous stare that showed her disapproval. Instead, she finished the ritual words and kept her gaze upon the cross as she asked, “You think it funny, me praying to the lord god Shallam for protection? Tell me, what good is your steel now, when the danger holds no physical form?”  

   Taros, the elder of the two, was the first to respond. “Ain’t your lord Shallam that keeps us safe, priestess.” Like the red bride and their guide, the two brothers avoided looking past the flames. Even so, she could tell that Piker was nodding as he picked up where the other left off. “Aye, priestess. T ‘was the Savior that built this Road, after he defeated the Skylord and stole the Sunstone.”

   “Granting us passage through the Nightlands…yes I know the story good and well,” Her tone betrayed her irritation. “And I don’t need a history lesson from the likes of you, thanks very much!” The two brothers merely shrugged at her outburst as they chewed the tabycko leafs given them by the fifth member of their group, who now leaned forward to speak. “Easssy, Liliassss. They mean no harm by it.” His features were shrouded in a flowing cloak as black as the encroaching night, and only the glowing yellow eyes with slits for pupils, peering out from beneath the deep hood marked him as one of the Siyssin. He alone of the travelers dared to watch the churning darkness that hissed and wailed from beyond the Road, kept at bay by the sunstone beneath his feet.

   “Yeah, like the lizard man says, we didn’t mean no harm by it.” Taros smiled at no one in particular, brown spittle dripping from his lips to stain the red-gold stone. Lilias once again had to force herself to keep her eyes on the cross. I wonder if I can use it to knock him upside the head without looking. She kept her hands to herself, however, and condescendingly replied “Khazin is dragonkin, one of the Siyssin. He’s not just some lizard man, you ignorant twit!” The nerve of some people!

   Piker grinned as he spoke up, “Now who’s giving the lessons?” The two brothers had a good laugh at that, and even the old man serving as their guide couldn’t help but chuckle. But their laughter only further incensed the priestess, who’s fair skin blushed as red as her robes. Khazin must have felt the anger rising inside her, for he extended a scaled, clawed hand towards her own. “Sssteady, Liliasss…the night is young. Sssave your wroth for the creaturesss ssseeking your flesssh.”

   He’s right. We’ve got bigger problems ahead of us. But as long as we stay on the Road and keep our eyes off of them we’ll be safe from…Her thoughts were interrupted by a question from Reshi, spoken from the other side of the paltry fire. “So how is it you can look them demons in the eye when it would mean death for the rest of us?” He was addressing Khazin, of course. The Siyssin fixed his stare on their guide and offered a reply, “The creaturesss you call nightwraithsss were human, once. No longer, but ssstill, your mindsss and your ssspiritsss differ greatly from my own. The blood of the dragonsss runs in my veinsss, and with it I am immune to your magicsss, living or dead.”

   “Ain’t no way them things was humans, is there?” Piker nudged his brother for reassurance. Taros shrugged, “I reckon it’s possible.  Musta been before our time, though.” Now it was the Siyssin’s turn to laugh, a sound like splinters and sandpaper.  “T’wasss before all our timesss, Tarosss. Before even the one you call the Sssavior.” Piker gulped audibly, uncertainty in his voice, “What happened…I mean, what changed them into what they is now?” Khazin took a moment to scan the plains surrounding their makeshift camp before responding. His yellow gaze passed over countless nightwraiths, each one desperately trying to break through the invisible barrier that marked the edge of the road.  

   As she waited, she could feel the hunger emanating from the shadowy creatures. They all could. A hunger borne from the endless agony that was their existence. She knew that only the taste of warm flesh and living spirit could ease their suffering, however fleeting that relief might be. And after what felt like an eternity in silence, the Siyssin finally spoke, “Many agesss ago, when the Old Empire ruled all of Eralon, the firssst sssignsss…” But before he could finish, the old man suddenly jumped to his feet, startling the red bride and the two mercenary brothers. With erratic, jerking movements, he left the ring of light provided by the meager campfire and started towards the eastern edge of the Road, where a rolling mass of living shadows whined with high-pitched excitement.

   The others recovered quickly enough to avert their gaze back towards the fire, either unwilling or unable to stop him. All except for Khazin, who watched with understanding in his slitted yellow eyes. As Reshi neared the barrier, the red bride asked in a hushed voice, “What….how? He’s made this trip twice already…he knew what would happen if he looked.” Khazin sighed,  “It is not merely the sssunssstone that keeps the nightwraithsss at bay, Liliasss. At the turn of each new moon, there must also be sssacrifice...” He paused as the old man reached the edge of the Road and continued forward into the red plains beyond it. In that instant, he seemed to regain control, letting loose a bloodcurdling scream of pain and terror as the shadows swarmed him, feeding on him body and soul.

   Taros quickly rose to his feet, and the scraping of steel broke the silence immediately following Reshi’s death as the mercenary drew his sword. Piker did the same, and the two of them fixed a hard gaze on the Siyssin. The elder brother was the first to speak, “What do you mean, “sacrifice?” You saying you sacrificed him, lizard breath?” The red bride stood as well, though she raised a calming hand towards the brothers. “For truth, Khazin. What exactly are you saying?” The Siyssin remained motionless, sitting cross-legged upon the Road. He looked calmly from the drawn steel to the red bride and a smile played across his thin lips. “Fear not. Your deathsss will be quick, and will ensssure the sssafety of many other travelersss. Many humansss die without accomplissshing asss much.” He snapped his fingers, and Lilias instantly felt her body go numb. She tried to lift the cross she held in her hands and pray to Shallam but found neither her hands nor her lips to be responsive.

   Even as she began to grasp the situation, she felt her body begin to move towards the edge of the Road as if from a distance. Like it was happening to somebody else. Her limbs seemed to move on their own accord, and she felt not the impact of the red gold stone beneath her feet. The only sure tell sign was the writhing wall of darkness growing ever closer. Cursed dragonkin!! Shallam, if you can hear me, help me!! Deliver your servant from this creature’s evil doings! Lilias sensed that she had stepped off the Road and immediately regained control of her body. Bastard wants me to feel it. Closing her eyes to brace herself for the agonizing end that was sure to follow, she heard the tortured cries of the brothers as they were drained to desiccated husks by the swarming nightwraiths. But she was waiting for an end that never came…

   Nearly a minute passed before she finally opened her eyes. I’m alive!! But how?  The hungry spirits churning around her left her untouched, their pained cries bemoaning their desire to do otherwise. The red bride hugged the cross close to her chest, “Thank you, Shallam. Thank you.” Turning back to the Road and retreating to the safety it promised, she found Khazin standing there staring at her. There was no malice in his yellow gaze. Only cold calculation.  

   Nodding in her direction, he clasped his taloned hands behind his back and said, “Well, Liliasss….it ssseemsss the red god hasss heard your prayer.”

« Last Edit: May 23, 2012, 03:06:50 PM by THElewisdix »
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Offline Lor

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Re: May 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2012, 02:38:23 PM »
Some people will recognize these characters. This scene hasn't happened in canon yet, just wanted to try it out. The fact they're following a path to nowhere on and island that doesn't exist happily fits with this month's theme! :D

Edited for the typos I didn't catch when reading through it in the sun!



   “What d’ye mean the fucking path just ends?”

   “I’m telling you; go up there, and there’s nothing. I have no idea why, this fucking island makes no fucking sense!”

   Punisher eyed her for a moment, hand up to shade from the sunlight leaking through the tree canopy, and then he stomped off to investigate. Elspie shook her head at his retreating back, and then turned to find Adair looking thoroughly annoyed, arms folded across his chest. “What?”

   “Bad language.”

   “I think, after all that has happened the last two days, that’s the least of our worries, Adair.”

   He shrugged, and pulled Tokie from his pocket, the ragdoll more dishevelled than ever, and began a conversation in their made-up language. Elspie looked to the rest of her crew, or at least, those left with the group; Luthais was picking an argument with Oscar about the latter constantly wandering off of the path, Ruairidh was busy with a knife, sharpening the end of his walking staff yet again.

   “Monkey.”

   She turned back to Adair, the boy pointing up into a tree overhead, where indeed a monkey sat, half-chewed stick in mouth, seemingly watching them back.

   “Don’t suppose he knows where the path went, huh?”

   Adair opened his mouth to answer as Punisher came storming back, face darker and sweatier than ever. “S’no good, can’t get through that way. Looks like yer Reiva’s forsaken us at last.”

   “Reiva only looks after those on the seas.” Elspie clutched her stomach as pain shot through it. “Maybe we should take the safe path back that way, find another way around.”

   “Cap’n said this was the way, we keep going.”

   “Fuck your captain!” Elspie screwed up her eyes against the sudden pain. “We’re miles from anything, our supplies will only last another couple days, we should go back.”

   Punisher laughed. “Oh, yer in charge again, are ye?”

   Oscar bounced closer. “Elspie’s right; if we can’t get through, what’s the point? I could go and see if I can find another path through the forest if you like?”

   “No!” Luthais came storming over to join them, hands raised. “He’s gotten lost far too many bloody times already, I’m not going looking for him again!”

   “You wouldn’t have to, we’d send someone with him. Fool.” Luthais turned to face Ruairidh, looking very much like he’d like to hit him. The ginger man look back, eyebrow raised, sharpened staff balanced lightly in his hands. “Just try it.”

   “No.” It was quiet, but it was enough to make them all stop and look at Adair, the boy looking terrified at suddenly being the centre of everyone’s attention. He pointed off towards the dead end. “Path ends there.” He pointed the way they had come. “Safe. Go that way.”

   Elspie smiled through her pain. “Thank you, Adair, now, if we can just-“

   “I’m in charge, and the cap’n says we go this way, so we go this way.”

   “You’re a stubborn arsehole!”   

   “And yer a lippy little bitch who can do nothing about it!”

   Adair took a step forward, fist clenched. “No she’s not!”

   Punisher backed off, palms up, annoyance still writ across his face. “Adair, leave it.” He sighed. “Look, we’re all hot and tired, arguing ain’t going to get us nowhere. We need to press on, hanging about here won’t do us any good!”

   “This whole plan is ridiculous! Supposing we do find this damned magic  ruin your demented boss wants us to find, how are we going to get back to let the others know?”

   Luthais snorted. “We go back and tell them now, I’m sure Irelle will be happy with us. You saw what she did to Sorley when that fool argued with her.”

   Punisher shook his head. “He had that coming. Now-“

   “Look.” Adair had moved away from the group, still watching the monkey, which had swung down to lower trees on one side of the path, the tree it was sitting on guarding an opening. “Path.”

   “What?”

   He turned to Elspie, annoyed. “Path. There.”

   Punisher pushed past them, scaring off the monkey, and half-uprooting the tree in his hurry to move it aside. He looked over his shoulder. “It is. Adair and I might have a bit of trouble getting down here though.”

   “Why?”

   He rolled his eyes. “’Cause yer a big fella like me.” He waved Elspie forward. “Ye wanted a quick decision about what we were doing, here it is.”

   “Hang on.” Ruairidh moved past Luthais, giving him a dirty look as he did so, the taller man bristling. “Considering how many ‘accidents’ we’ve had on the actual path, why the fuck would we trust this one?”

   “He has a point.” Elspie was on her knees now, arms folded over her stomach. “I wasn’t aware monkeys were accurate guides.”

   “The fuck is wrong with ye?”

   “Told you, I can’t be away from the sea too long.”

   Punisher ran his hands over his bald head, grimacing as he pushed the salty sweat into his eyes. “Look, we find these ruins, we can rest, maybe send a couple back to tell the others we found it. Sitting here ain’t helping anyone.” He pointed a meaty finger at Ruairidh. “Since yer prepared, yer first.”

   He rolled his eyes, but hefted his staff and took a couple of steps down the path. “It gets wider down here.”

   Punisher waved Luthais and Oscar on. “What are ye waiting for?”

   There was grumbling, but they went, Oscar sticking as close to dead centre of the path as he could, most likely entirely to annoy Luthais. They were out of sight for a few seconds before there was a meaty thump, and a cry of pain.

   “Can ye stand, Elspie?”

   She looked  up at the change in Punisher’s tone, the big man crouching down beside her. “Probably, don’t know how quickly I can walk mind.” She couldn’t help but smile at his expression. “You’re not getting worried about me, are you”

   “Don’t be so fucking stupid. Can’t leave ye here though, something happens the cap’n’ll have my head!”

   “So it’s self-preservation, huh?” She mutteredto herself as she tried to stand, her legs giving way beneath her. Adair knlt down beside her without a word, and scooped her up in his arms.

   “Guess that’s one way of moving ye.”

   All three of them turned as there was a distant cry of pain, followed by a curse. “Stay on the fucking path!”

   “We’d better go and make sure Oscar doesn’t get killed, I don’t think that’ll go down too well.”

   Punisher gave a snort of a laugh, and led the way to the path entrance, Adair keeping close behind him. True to Ruairidh’s word the path widen a few yards past the entrance, stone borders visible beneath the overgrown vegetation giving away that it had once been cultivated. Here and there stone stumps loomed through the trees, the occasional one still topped by its lantern-head. Elspie felt Adair
shiver.

   “Creepy.”

   “Looks like we’re on the right trail though. Good thing you spotted that monkey.”

   They walked on, the path curving off to the left, before opening into a large clearing, the remains of a large stone gateway towering over them, the moss-covered remains of the temple lying through it. Ruairidh had parked himself on the remains of what looked like a well, and was clearly enjoying watching the fight raging between Luthais and Oscar, the two of them rolling about on the spongy grass. Elspie motioned for Adair to put her down, her anger overriding the pain for a moment, and she stormed towards them, taking Ruairidh’s staff from him as she passed and using the blunt end to prise her crewmen apart.

   “That’s enough!”  They looked up at. her both panting; Oscar’s lip was bleeding, as was Luthais’ nose. She glared at the pair of them, and then threw the staff back at Ruairidh. “Don’t know what you’re smiling about, you should have stopped their shit!”

   “It wasn’t anything to do with me how those fucking idiots wanted to act!”

   “We’re supposed to be on the same side here!”

   “Stop shouting.” Adair looked close to tears, Tokie clutched firmly in his hand; he hadn’t moved much past the gateway, and was looking like he’d much rather head back that way than stay with his fighting crewmates. Elspie sighed.

   “He’s right, we’re here, we don’t need to keep fighting.” She placed a hand on her stomach as the pain flared up again, and she looked up at Punisher. “Is it what you were expecting then?”

   “Near enough as makes no difference. “ He rubbed his bald pate. “Someone needs to go back and tell the cap’n we found it.” He nodded at Oscar and Luthais, still sitting on the ground, attempting to stop their respective bleeds. “I vote not the knuckleheads.”

   “Agreed. Ruairidh, you and Oscar head back, take what supplies you’ll need. Be careful though.”

   “The path’s clear, they’ll be fine.”

   “The path’s clear? Did you pay any fucking attention to our journey here? We lost three to that swamp, nearly lost one when the path collapsed over the river, hit a dead-end and didn’t have a fucking clue where we were going, but it’s safe, huh?” She turned away from him, moving about as much to ease her cramp as to vent her annoyance. She turned to look at Punisher again, still moving backwards.

   “Easy to see you don’t care about others, you didn’t even mourn those from your crew you lost!"

   “Elspie.”

   “But my boys…oh no, if something happens to my boys, you’ll fucking know about it!”

   “Elspie.”

   “Not now Adair!” She brought one hand up, pointing shakily at Punisher. “You haven’t respected us since the moment we set foot on your ship, but have you noticed nothing bad’s happened since, eh? How easy this has all-“

   “Elspie!”

   She turned her glare on Adair. “What?”

   He pointed to the ground just behind her. “Pit. You're gonna fall.”

   She looked over her shoulder; her heels were on the edge of the pit, just as he said. She took a hurried step forward, and then a shaky breath as she dropped to her knees.

   Punisher shook his head at her. “This is going to be a long four days.” He nodded to Ruairidh and Oscar. “Come on, ye heard yer cap’n, get moving. Take it slow, we won’t be going anywhere.”

   The ginger cook nodded, dipping into one of the large packs Adair had been carrying and digging out supplies, Oscar shuffling up alongside him, holding open a smaller pack for him to put the items in. Adair had taken to crouching by Luthais, ripping a piece from the shirt he’d earlier stripped off and tucked into his belt, and holding it out to his companion to stem the flow of blood.

   “He hit you hard.”

   “Lucky fucking shot!”

   Punisher rolled his eyes at them, and moved over to where Elspie was kneeling, head on the ground, taking long, deep breaths. He dropped his pack and sat down beside her, getting comfortable on the mossy grass.

   “Now, ye’ve got some explaining to do missy.” She sat up, slowly, stiffly, and gave him a puzzled look. “Just why can’t we keep ye away from the sea?”
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 06:37:57 PM by Lor »
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye." - Miss Piggy

Re: May 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2012, 06:00:35 AM »
Deadlands: Contact


My heart pounded in my chest, its beat keeping time with the sound of my feet slamming against the cobblestone road as I raced away from the world ending behind me. Pangs of agony tore at my heels, tears and terror at my eyes. My mind, clouded by fear and distress, knew only thoughts of flight and of horror. I had to flee. I had to get away.

So I ran.

The screams, long since drowned out by distance and time, still echoed within the cavern of my skull, and I could not escape them. Images of bodies – men, women, and children alike – being torn asunder clung to my peripheral like a fleeing shadow, never there when I chanced a glance in their direction. The scent of it all, of rotting corpses, torched homes, and a spreading plague, filled my nostrils – its stench never relenting, never releasing me from its burden.

Naked and bleeding, with abrasions of every sort finding home on my body, I stumbled onwards. I could only pant and heave, never daring to cease my escape. There was nothing left for me in the places from which I came. The road was my companion now; all others had been slain or lost. My family and friends all lay behind me somewhere, murdered and consumed by an unstoppable force of death and destruction. Their demise, I was sure, would forever scar my memory.


They came at dusk. Slinking and hissing, their features all but concealed with the setting sun at their back. The landscape rotted behind them, as though the arrival of the Night Shadow had somehow caused the world to wither and die. A stench, powerful and toxic, rose up around them, drifting into the valley below with a fierce intensity. It was suffocating, and air itself felt thick and heavy with death. As an alarm sounded, men gathered weapons and rose to face the assailing mass. Their efforts were wasted, their timing too late, their forces outmatched.

Thousands of the monsters poured into the valley. Swift and violent, they cut down the armed settlers in an instant. Bodies were torn to pieces, bowels cast aside and flesh ripped from the muscle. Like carrion birds, some paused long enough to devour the remnants of their victims, while others continued their assault. Women and children alike were devoured by the creatures as they assailed my people without discrimination.

I hid while the others died. I was bathing in the pond below my home when the monsters first appeared, and when the first wave of settlers had met their end, I swam out to the reeds in the center and waited. I cowered while others perished; hoping to preserve my own life for a few precious seconds more.


My legs buckled and I tumbled forward. My nose broke as it slammed into the road, and a tremor of sheer agony crept through my being. Bare flesh met harsh stone, and senses were set ablaze as skin tore from my body. Blood oozed from the wounds, leaving jagged red blotches on the otherwise white cobblestone. Exhausted lungs refused to let out an audible cry, so I rasped out a silent gasp of anguish.

Muscles aching and bones grinding, I pushed myself to my feet. Inhaling deeply, I started again at a brisk walk. Running at his point was not an option. Not unless I wanted to collapse again, and after that last fall, I wasn’t sure my body could handle any more trauma. As it was, my skull throbbed and my frame ached. I was growing tired, wearier by the second, and my feet had long since blistered and ruptured. Much longer, and I wouldn’t be able to continue at all.

Still, I drove on. My mind ever occupied by thoughts of butchery and madness.


The monsters slaughtered everyone.

I watched them from the pond, nose held scarcely an inch above the water’s surface. If they noticed me, they did not seem to care. Their attention was directed elsewhere. Death spread from the monsters like a disease, overtaking the very land upon which they stood. Flowers wilted, grass dried up, and trees rotted. Whatever they were, they acted as harbingers of demise. Nothing they neared lived, nothing they touched survived. The earth itself perished in their wake.

I began to shiver, cold from my lengthy exposure to the pond’s water. The sun had long since set, and the temperature in the valley was prone to intense plummeting after nightfall. My lips quivered and my body trembled, and I knew that if I remained in the waters much longer, my life would be forfeit. I had a difficult decision to make: remain in the water, face hypothermia, pneumonia, and a slow but certain death; or, make a break for the land, face the monsters, some sort of plague, and a sudden but certain death.

A difficult decision indeed.



I gasped, lungs exerting a forceful enunciating of dismay. With every passing step, my body grew weaker and my steps wavered more and more. Muscles burning, I continued my hopeless trek down the cobblestone roadway, reminding myself constantly that stopping was not an option. I had to keep moving.

I knew that if I ran long enough, far enough, I would reach the Lightsworn Outpost. The soldiers there could offer me refuge from the nightmare, and in return, I could offer them some semblance of warning. Perhaps they could stave off the monsters. Perhaps they could even reclaim my home. If there was anything left worth reclaiming.


The feel of soft earth fell under my feet as I neared the water’s edge. I crouched low, keeping myself as close to the ground as possible. Despite the utter darkness that had overtaken the landscape, I couldn’t risk being spotted by whatever roving monsters happened to pass by. I checked my surroundings, searching with caution for dark figures moving about in the night. Seeing nothing, I crept out of the pond.

It was a mistake.

The moment my skin made contact with the withered grass, a loud cry pierced the air. Though I couldn’t see them in the dark, I knew the eyes of every monster was upon me. They came at me, fierce and horrid. Their scent nearly knocked me back into the water, but I forced myself remain firm. They were coming, and nothing I could do would stop them. I was no warrior, no fighter. My limbs were lanky and my bones frail. I was weak, cold, and exposed, so I did what any coward would do.

I ran.



My body gave out.

I collapsed to the ground with an abrupt thud. Ribs cracked against cobblestone as my arms gave out, refusing to break my fall. I vomited blood, coughing and wheezing as my lungs collapsed. My heart raced, thudding constant beats that seemed as though they might burst from my chest at any moment. As consciousness drifted in and out, the already-dark world around me seemed to dim even further.

A flicker caught my eye. Something pierced the darkness to the east, there in the furthest corner of my peripheral vision. It was faint, but it was there. Then there was more. The horizon caught fire, slivers of sunlight passing over the landscape, as I lay, naked and wheezing, upon the cobblestone road. Finally, the long night was ending.

Just as hope crept into mind, my last shred of resilience fled, and the dawning world faded into blackness.


I ran as fast as my legs would carry me. The world, burning and horrible, blurred as I fled from its grasp. Monsters cried out in pursuit, their voices pitched and broken. I cringed at the sound of them, sobs catching in my throat as tears of cowardice and fear began to pour from my eyes. Death was only moments away, I knew. All I could do was run, flee, and maybe find somewhere to hide, before the encroaching darkness consumed me.

A monster leapt at my heels, its inhuman jaws clenching around my calf. Pain shot through my body, and a scream escaped my lips. Piercing and hollow, my scream echoed throughout the valley, producing an almost ominous narration to the events at play. I kicked at the monster as I tumbled forward, using my free leg to stamp at its skull.
The thing broke off, taking with it a chunk of my meat and muscle. It did not die, though. Instead, it crouched low and hissed, as if to prepare for a final pounce.

I clambered to my feet as fast as I could, wincing at the burning pain the wound allotted. Arms held out in front of me in an almost-defensive posture, I backed away from the monster slowly. Its form was still a shadow in the darkened world, but I could hardly make out any of its features. The thing was resembled a panther in some aspects, its body feline and monstrous at the same time. Its head almost shared the appearance of a viper, eyes thin and snout contorted. It had no fur; instead, it was near-naked with rotting flesh. In some places, bones jutted out from its frame. In every essence, the thing throbbed with malevolence and death, and I cowered in its sight. This thing, this plaguebeast from hell, would surely slay me.

An instrument of sorts – something almost flute-like in expression – sounded from the settlement. Its notes seemed to have an odd effect on the monster, and it turned from me and fled back towards the source of the noise. I watched it go, my heart pounding in my chest as it faded into the night. Then, wasting no more time, I turned and ran as quickly as I could.



The sound of boots against the cobblestone woke me from my unconscious slumber, The sun, already high in the sky, beat down upon me. My skin ached with sunburn, and my body threatened finality. I could not move. I lay there in the road, waiting for whatever was coming towards me. After what felt like an eternity, a man stooped into my vision.

He was tall and muscular, with strong features. Short, cropped, hair and a clean-shaven face carefully matched his tailored uniform. A sword at his side and a shield on his back, coupled with the insignia on his chest, announced him as one of the Lightsworn.

The man noticed my glance, turned away from me, and shouted, “Commander, she’s alive.”

A voice, low and gravelly, called back, “Check her for wounds.”

With a salute, the Lightsworn began his examination. He checked over my entire body, and I found myself blushing at my nakedness. His eyes held no arousal, however, instead they were firm and focused. Finally, he rolled me to one side and noted the bite on my calf.

“Here,” he said, pointing to the wound, “It looks like one of their fang-marks.”

There was a long pause before the man’s superior responded. When he did, a sound of regret and pity flooded through his words, “How far gone is she?”

“No way to be sure, though I’d reckon she won’t last much longer. She’s already feverish, and these other wounds aren’t helping.”

“We’ll do what we can then,” the commander said flatly. “Put her with the others.”

The soldier grabbed at my underarms, hefting me over his shoulders, and carried me to a shaded cart nearby. He placed me inside it, lying me with my back against the cart’s wall, and then left. All around me lay the twisted forms of other survivors. Limbs were missing, with some entire chunks of bodies were gone, and all lay near the brink of death.

It was their eyes, though, that really caught my attention. Rather than the round whites of a healthy person, these people bore thin slits of blackness. One of the people chanced a look in my direction, and upon making eye contact, he bared his teeth and hissed. 



Re: May 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2012, 04:52:51 PM »
Here is my entry for the competition. I think it is exactly 2000 words.

The Right Road


   Since the presence of the Seven Churches had renewed itself in the Country, the Noble Houses had found themselves unable to resist the demands of the Holy institutions, several of which had wrestled some coin from their hands, the majority of which was spend on the people. Hence, where there had been little more than beaten tracks, the Church had commissioned the construction of paved roads, each of which rolled out across the countryside, woven into an intricate, interconnected web.
   The Seven Churches decided to make their stronghold in the very centre of the woodland, resurrecting the “Deerfort”, which had been a ruin upon their arrival. Several historians, from the High City with a Paladin Contingent escort, spent days unravelling the lore of such a place, though their efforts turned up little.
   In essence the Hierophants were more than a little enamoured to the place, finding themselves immersed in a place of great historical significance. They loved it so dearly because they knew so little of its significance. Truly, the place was an enigma to them, something that they could dwell upon, should they ever find themselves idle.
   Yet the recent reports of revenant creatures prowling through the wood did nothing to alleviate the burdens of duty. It was for this reason that Maria had been unleashed, dispatched with a group of warriors to hunt between the trees for such a creature.
   She marched at the head of the group which followed at her back with less purpose than she. Tumbling light levels led her eyes to squint, ever eager to pierce through the trees despite the disabling nature of her environment. Though she did not expect their quarry to be in the open air, she was not one to take needless risk, certainly not with the knowledge of what they were to face.
The ball of fire had begun its sojourn towards the horizon and already the eastern skies were specked with great blots of navy and violet, more vivid that any watercolour they had seen. A great weariness lurked in their limbs and the hollowing resonance of exhaustion had bored well and truly into their minds, leaving their vision blurred and their hearing dulled.
   As the last little pool of gold descended from sight in the western borders of their vision, a net of anxiety was cast over the group. The air suddenly grew very crisp and chilling, sending shivering pulses down their spines. Maria heard the slithering sound of steel as her companions unsheathed their weapons, the ringing of blade on air frighteningly comforting.
   The unit shuffled further along the pathway, the natural columns of inky wood slowly passing them on either side, fading into the night behind them whilst pillar after pillar emerged from the darkness before them. Maria found it hard to breathe between the trees, for the scent of the greenery was overpoweringly potent, serving to force the air out of her lungs.
   They came to a fork in the road, one path traipsing off to the left, with the second curving distinctly towards the right. Maria was acutely aware of many pairs of eyes digging into the back of her neck. She shivered under their silent pressure and swung around to face them. Their faces were several shades of fear and anxiety. As their leader, she knew that she had to say something. As a member of the church, she knew how heavy the burden of duty was, but also how it would demand to be fulfilled…no matter what she wanted herself.
   When she began to speak, she hoped that her voice did not sound to them as cracked and weary as she herself perceived it. ‘The Light leaves us, friends, as you know it must. Likewise, you know that this being which we face only grows stronger in the dark…it will be able to flee from us now. Yet this is no reason for us to abandon ourselves to dread, nor to forsake our quest. We are servants of the Seven Churches, fearless in the face of heresy and pious beneath the weight of our duty. Be strong, now.’
   Her words were met with nods and smiles, though there was no cheering. It seemed the animosity harvested from the woods was more disturbing than Maria cared to consider. She could feel the darkness closing in; feel the night’s hands slithering towards her throat. The day had been tranquil enough. The night was oppressive.
   One of the expressions before her changed. A man standing on Maria’s left suddenly became terrified, staring outwards with wide eyes. Maria watched him emotionlessly, hoping to remain composed so as not to scare the others. The man began to look about wildly. Maria would have sworn she noticed his ears shift slightly, as if he strained to hear something.
   Then a shadow skirred from the treeline. Diving towards the man, the shape coiled around him for an instant, then soared upwards, dragging him from his feet. The men began to shout, their voices rising into a great guffaw!
   ‘Ready yourselves!’ Maria shouted, having no doubt that their quarry had found them first. How easily our roles have been reversed, she smirked at the irony, even though fear was rising quickly, adrenaline racing through her veins. Drawing her blade, she intoned a quick prayer, her words bubbling warmly as the divine power swelled and shot forth, forming a spherical shape over her group which shimmered and glistered with a pale golden light. It may not have been the sun, but at least it would keep her foe somewhat at bay.
   The shadow returned, sweeping across the fork in the road to pluck another man from her party, this time sending him clattering into the foliage by the side of the road. Without leaving her eye line, the shape snapped around, changing direction and bowling through a pair of her men before hoisting up one of her women and drawing her up through the air into the trees.
   ‘We are of the Gods! We shall not fear whilst they are with us!’ Maria cried, hoping that someone would take notice of her commands. ‘At arms! At arms! Be ready!’
   There was a moment of silence. Everything fell into a deep reverie for little more than a moment. Then came the screeching and a sound like thunder. Once more, the shadow slipped through the branches and shot downwards, smashing into a soldier and sending her skidding across the ground, leaving a trail of blood. But before the shape could shift away, one of the knights struck it with his sword. Though the blade itself did no damage, the semi-solid shadow was thrown off course by the blow, which sent it tumbling upwards into the light.
   A sound like singeing rose into the air, accompanied by a scream as the shade became more substantial, taking a humanoid form. Still coated in its darkness, the creature swung wildly, tearing into the face of one assailant whilst another was smashing into the floor. The remaining soldiers formed a loose circle around the creature, who was becoming more and more recognisable by the minute.
   ‘Ah, my dearest Maria,’ he greeted her with his heavily accented tongue. ‘It makes such sense that the Church would send you to do their little errands, with your being so good at the simpler tasks…’
   With little trace of shadow upon him, Maria could recognise the man before her as Bieito Xosé Rocha, once an ally to the Churches though now a convicted heretic. At first glance he looked as any Light Elf might look: a tall and slender frame with a sense of animalistic drive lurking in his features, as if he were ready to pounce at any moment. His hair may be a little darker than most of his race, though this was not altogether too unsettling. It was the ruby sheen to his eyes which unnerved her so, for they were the most evident mark of his curse. Once those were noted, it was not difficult to take note of his overly pale skin.
   ‘How are you, my dear? Feeling better after we last met? I am indeed sorry about that…nasty bit of business that was…but I would be lying if I were to say that I would do it any differently had I the option now.’ He smiled, the expression was dark and yet sinisterly alluring.
   ‘Bieito Rocha,’ Maria greeted him spitefully, approaching with her blade before her, a precaution should he make a move. ‘You have been convicted of the crime of murder under the eyes of the Gods. As a named Blood Vampyre, the penalty for this crime is immediate execution without further trial or plea. May the Gods-‘
   ‘Spare me the righteousness,’ Bieito snarled, raising his hand so that the palm faced her. ‘I know what you would do with me, though I answer with no. I will not be slain for something I had no part it, it just does not strike me as being fair.’
   ‘You cannot simply decline a sentence from the Seven Churches. This is an order, not an offer.’ Maria tensed, he knew how to stress her, but she would not let him. Not this time.
   She gripped her blade tighter and raised it so that it was directed towards the centre of his chest. ‘I have killed your kind since our last meeting. Don’t think I don’t know what I am doing.’
   Bieito laughed. ‘Those were nothing more than children, fledglings. I don’t think you’ll find me equally simple to vanquish.’
   ‘Try me,’ Maria glared with narrow eyes.
   ‘Well…you certainly have me surrounded here,’ Bieito glanced to the ring of armoured men and women which encompassed him. ‘You have weakened me also…that little light of yours certainly did good work. No, I think it is pretty evident that I cannot escape from this and I have been fleeing down so many different roads for such a very long time. Those church folk never seem to tire.’ The Vampyre sighed. ‘Very well then, kill me if you wish to. Just give me a proper burial.’
   Burial? Vampyres left behind no body. Upon death they became dust. Maria knew what the Vampyre wanted from her. He was an adult of kind…able to restore himself from most wounds if given the time. If struck directly through the heart, he would enter into a deep sleep…unable to heal himself or awaken again until the blade was removed. He hoped she would stab him, withdraw the blade and then he would be able to recover and flee them again.
   However, her blade was enchanted with the necessary spells to bring him ending. If this scratched his heart…his death would be unstoppable.
   She touched the blade to the centre of his torso. ‘Your death will cleanse you and all between you and the Gods shall be made good.’
   Bieito nodded, suddenly not so confident.
   Maria took a deep breath, knowing that what she was about to do was slay a man who had been a companion of hers in the past. All thoughts of mercy fled from her as the boulder of duty fell upon them. There was no choice. She had a task to do, set to her by the Hierophantic orders. She could not disobey them.
   She let the steel slide gently through his white flesh, feeling it cleanly slip out the other side.
   Bieito’s eyes went wide. He tensed, his eyes going wide with agony. Then there came a flash of brilliance. In a pulse of gold, his body seemed to go lax. Flesh and bone became discoloured and grey before finally shimmering into a fine powder. There was a crack and Bieito became ash.
   Maria turned and began to walk the road towards the Deerfort. She would not look back upon the road she had just taken. She would not question whether it had been right. She would look only forwards and pray that the Gods knew her heart.


Thanks for Reading

Offline Autumn2May

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Re: May 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2012, 04:33:58 PM »
This month's writing contest is closed. Voting will be up shortly. :)

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May 2012 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Open!
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2012, 04:37:22 PM »
Voting is now open! Make sure you read all the stories before you vote. Good luck to all our entrants! :)

Offline Autumn2May

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Re: May 2012 Writing Challenge - Voting Now Open!
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2012, 08:23:00 PM »
Voting is now closed! Congrats to our winner DeltaDawn! :D