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Author Topic: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Submission Thread  (Read 11775 times)

Offline xiagan

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[May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Submission Thread
« on: May 02, 2014, 08:01:48 PM »


This month we're having a go at sad, little portal fantasy. For no obvious reason it's not trendy at the moment and besides Cat Valente's Fairyland books I can't remember any new publications in the last months.
Time to change that! ;)

No matter if it's Narnia, Oz, Wonderland, London below, Faerie or Un Lun Dun: It's always about (usually) a boy or girl from our world who finds a door/portal/way into another, fantastical word. Most of the time this world is in great peril and the quite normal boy/girl has to save it. (Of course you are free to twist this trope as much as you like ;))

Rules:

1. This can be prose or a poem.
2. Must be portal fantasy.
3. Ignore this rule, it's not really here.
4. Prose must be 500-1500 words long.
5. Poetry must be 100-500 words long.
6. You will be disqualified if you exceed the limits, full stop. That's why they're called limits.
7. Your entry can't be published somewhere else before.
8. This is a writing contest, not a "I have written something like this ten years ago" contest. So if you pick an already existing piece of your work, I'd like it to have a mayor overhaul/edit. Work for it. ;)
9. Please add your story's word count and, if you have, your twitter handle.

Entry will close May 31st 2014 and voting will begin somewhere around June, 1st 2014.*

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

The winner will have their piece displayed on the main Fantasy Faction website in June 2014.

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

*I seem to never be home around the end of month, so please excuse if I'm not always on time (which is hard in an international contest with all the time zones anyways. ;))
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline Elfy

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Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Submission Thread
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2014, 04:18:27 AM »
I guess someone had to kick it off so here we go. This is called Once Glimpsed, Never Forgotten it's 1407 words long, so just gets under the upper limit of the word count.
I can be found on Twitter as @ChrisElfy.

Once Glimpsed, Never Forgotten

Jane Hammond looked through the reinforced glass square in the cell door, examined the behaviour of the occupant, gave a small sad sigh, then made a notation on her pad.

“Subject’s behaviour has not altered since I began my observations. Runs from one side of the cell to the other repeatedly, bends and examines every inch of the wall intently. Mutters desperately and scratches the wall. Sometimes crawls around the cell on all fours.”

The blonde intern flicked though the file on the patient again. His name was Roger Simmons and he was twenty-four years of age. He had been a patient of the institute for the last ten years.

                                                               ****

Roger was an interesting case. Up until the age of fourteen he had been a normal, happy healthy boy, then one day when on holiday with his family in Ireland, he had gone missing for two days, and when he had been discovered a mile or so in the woods near the cottage his parents had rented for the family holiday he had been the way he was to this day.

The ranger who had found him had reported that the boy had been kneeling in a patch of grass, staring ahead intently and waving his hands as if he were looking for something or trying to push through an invisible barrier.

He showed no recognition of anyone else, not his parents or his younger sister, and when they had tried to move him he had struggled violently and begun screaming.

Unable to care for him at the family home, his parents had made the decision to have him institutionalized where doctors and therapists were on call, and he could receive prompt medical care, and be fed and bathed.

His reactions to contact to be fed, he would not take food himself, and groomed could vary. On good days he would submit meekly to being bathed or shaved. Other days he had to be sedated for this to take place. Some days he could be fed by a nurse, but there were times when he refused and had to be sedated and secured to his bed while a drip was fixed.

                                                          ****

Jane took an involuntary step back as there was a loud thumping noise. Roger had thrown himself at the wall. The intern stood in the middle of the corridor and stared.

The young man pressed his face to the glass. His eyes were wild and staring. Jane didn’t know what he was looking at, but it wasn’t the featureless corridor beyond the glass or the intern clutching her pad to her chest like a paper shield.

Roger’s mop of brown hair was in disarray around his face, some strands stuck out at angles and others had been plastered to his face by saliva. Roger often drooled in his desperate search for something no one else could see, and his hair had a tendency to get stuck to his cheeks.

“Lee!” Roger moaned. “Lee!” as he slid down the door to land in a crumpled pathetic, sobbing heap on the floor of his cell.

                                                           ****

Ireland was the best!  Roger Simmons thought as he tracked the flitting bird through the lush green forest. He was so glad his parents had taken he and his sister to this island country for their summer holiday. The boy was an amateur bird watcher, and he had seen the one that he was no following on the first day that the family arrived at their quaint little stone cottage on the edge of the woods he was now roaming.

Roger had gone through every book he had with him on birds of Ireland and birds in general, but he could not find a picture that resembled the one he was now tracking. He’d had one really good look at it using his binoculars, but most of the time it was a brightly coloured blur through the branches.

What made it really difficult was that it was not a large bird, it didn’t have any recognizable call, and it was very fast. Despite being on the look out for it, and getting that one glimpse through the lenses of his binoculars he had never been able to decide exactly what colour it was. It changed nearly every time he saw it.

                                                           ****

“What?” Roger blurted. “No! You can’t do that!”

The bird had literally disappeared. It wasn’t hiding in a tree or behind a bush or even fluttering around near him. It had actually disappeared. One moment it had been flying along and then the next it had vanished. It was a clear area surrounded by a little ring of stones that oddly enough looked to have been deliberately placed in a circular formation.

With a frown, Roger stepped over the ring of stones, and everything that had been around him, vanished and was replaced by a completely different scene. The boy blinked and rubbed his eyes vigorously, then shut them tightly and opened them again, only to be confronted by the same otherworldly scene as before he had closed them.

Roger looked up and the sky was green, the grass beneath his feet was blue. Trees grew around his ankles, like a forest of bonsais, yet the flowers were impossibly tall, their bright blooms reaching to that cloud free green sky.

                                                               ****

The confused young teenager saw the girl before he heard her. She was tall and blonde, ethereally beautiful, she wore a flowing white dress. She extended a hand into the air, and the bird that Roger had followed into this strange circle flew down from a flower and landed on the back of her wrist, only now it wasn’t a bird, it was a butterfly, an immense butterfly with wings that shimmered a bright blue and yellow as it flapped them lazily.

For the first time the girl seemed to notice the slack jawed boy standing there watching her. Binoculars forgotten, dangling at his side.

“I’m Roger,” he said shyly.

The girl opened her mouth, but she didn’t speak, she sang. She didn’t sing in words, no sound emerged from her mouth, but emotions filled Roger’s head, they swirled around and overwhelmed him. A mixture of desire and longing hit him so hard that he fell to his knees.

Leaning down the blonde girl let a lazy smile drift across her face, she put her lips next to the boy’s ear and purred, “Leanan Sidhe.” She put one long thin finger, tipped with a nail that had been cut to a razor sharp point, under the boy’s chin and tipped his face up to look at her.

Roger felt himself drowning in those endlessly blue eyes and he whimpered, “Leeanne Shee,” trying to pronounce the unfamiliar Gaelic words on his untutored tongue.

The girl chuckled richly, she placed her lips on his and began to kiss the young man. Roger struggled because he could feel the life seeping out of him, but at the same time he never wanted this to end. He opened his eyes and they widened. A beautiful young woman had started to kiss him. Now she was a withered old hag! Or was she? Right in front of the boy’s startled eyes, the image shifted again to the impossibly beautiful seductress that had first approached him when he entered this world.

“Roger!” a voice floated distantly from another world.

The woman broke off the kiss with a hiss. Roger felt himself being flung through the air. He landed heavily on the ground just outside the circle of stones. He scrambled to his knees, his eyes wide, tears streaming down his face, hands questing for the briefly glimpsed world and the beautiful deadly woman who had stolen his spirit and his mind with a single kiss.

                                                             ****

“It’s funny,” Jane’s supervisor said when she reported what had happened while she was observing Roger earlier that day.

“What is?” Jane asked.

“You said you thought he was saying the name Lee?” the woman probed.

Jane nodded and looked at her notepad to verify what she had written down.

“That, or Leeanne, are the only words anyone has ever been able to get out of him since the day he was admitted. Yet his parents insist that he never ever had contact with anyone called Leeanne. It’s only one of the many mysteries around the strange sad case of poor Roger Simmons.”
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline A.J. Van-Rixtel

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Submission Thread
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2014, 07:52:13 PM »
Here is my submission. This is the first time I have done anything like this! Please enjoy reading... Also first major attempt at first person writing. Twitter @FantasyWriter24 Please check out my other short story on my blog- http://fantasyfictionauthorslife.blogspot.co.uk/p/short-stories.html

Word count: 1430

Ready to be Entertained,

Another fight with my mother left me reeling. I had done nothing wrong but it seemed as though once again I was to blame. I left her clutching the frying pan in the kitchen. She had threatened to strike me with it if I showed my face in there again today. I guess that means I will get no dinner tonight. Slamming the door used up some of my pent up rage. It would mean I could calm down for a while. It felt like my blood was about to boil.

    Suddenly I heard what I thought to be carnival music. I figured it my be my sister in the next room. I banged on the wall.

‘Lexi turn that down.’ I shouted.

It seemed to get louder though. Annoyed I went to her room. The door was open a jar. My sister was not there. Her television was not on. I went to check the music player. That was not on either. Where is the noise coming from.

I turned to go out of the room and stood on her hand mirror. The frame was made out of a beautiful purple rock. I had never seen anything like this. Instinctively I picked it up and looked in the mirror. For some reason if there is a mirror people always seem to check their reflection. I am no different.

Expecting to see my long shoulder length black hair with my awkward smile. When the mirror did not reflect my own face I dropped it. The carnival music was still playing. I picked it up. Inside the mirror was a carnival. There were clowns and jesters. I could make out a contortionist. A snake man danced with his snakes.

There was an abundance of colours and I swore I could smell candy-floss too.

I put the mirror on my sister’s bedside table for a moment. It was ridiculous of course. I figured I must have hit my head or something and that I was in the middle of a strange unconscious dream. Clearly my family must be next to me now listening to the beeping of medical machine’s monitoring my vitals.

Yes that must be it.

The music became louder. I turned away from the mirror. As I did I felt something tighten around my waist. I looked down and saw that the snake from the mirror that danced with the snake man had coiled twice around my body.

It must be a dream. I closed my eyes. When I wake up I will be in bed. Or a hospital bed.

When I opened them I saw my sisters face with her bright colourful eyes staring at me. My eyes adjusted to the new light. I was no longer in my sisters room. I was at the carnival. It turned out I was lying on the floor. Apparently I passed out.

‘Don’t worry about it brother,’ my sister said. ‘It happens to everyone who comes through the mirror to the carnival.

My sister finally took her face out of mine to give me a chance to sit up. I looked around. I took in every sight in that slow steady movement of my head. I recognised a lot of the people from when I saw the carnival in the mirror. There was even more to see in person. There were elves, with pointed ears. An elephant, four times larger than any I had seen before. There were fire spitters, knife dancers I even thought I saw a sphinx. Finally I made it back to where I started.

My sister’s bright eyes greeted me once again. She had the largest smile on her face. I dont think I had ever seen her smile so much. Lexi took a step back and now I could see that she was in an a tight all in one suit. The pattern had been quartered into black and red. Not one of the same colour touched. She put on a matching hat that had two spikes that hung down with two bells attached.

The next moment she leaned back into a bridge that I could remember having to do in gymnastics while at school.

‘A harlequin?’ I asked my sister.

‘Well ''dur''. You know I was always good at gymnastics brother.’ She clapped her hands then. A spark ignited between the impact and a puff of smoke. When the smoke dissipated she was gone.

I tried in vain to look for her.

‘Well what are you waiting for? You need to get changed.’ Her voice appeared behind me. I turned so that I could see her. I realised then that some how we were inside a large big top. Lexi hung from a rope upside down.

‘When did we get in here?’

‘Well... A magi never reveals their secrets.’ She winked at him. Before I could say anymore she told me that I needed to get ready. ‘As the Ringmaster you need to look the part. Go to the house of mirrors.’

‘Wait house of mirrors? Ringmaster.’ I asked the questions to air. My sister had disappeared again.

Despite all the questions I had I found myself following my sisters orders to go to the house of mirrors. Once I had the directions from the talking monkey. I knew where I needed to go.

I stood in front. I looked at the attraction owner. His two faces contradicting each other.

‘In you come.’ One said.

‘Out you go.’ Said the other.

‘Well don’t just stand there.’

‘Stand there all day if you must.’

I walked into the house of mirrors. It brought back the memories of a traveling carnival that once visited the field on the outskirts of my village. I had gone into the house of mirrors and became impossibly lost inside the maze. The contorted reflections of myself freaked me out so much. At the time I was only seven and my sister she was ten. She heard my cries as I fell to the floor scared witless.

When her arms went around my shoulder once she had found me I stopped crying. I knew that I was safe.

Now I navigated the house of mirrors. This time each reflection I noticed reflected not the cloths I was wearing but other things entirely. Some were entirely bizarre and outrageous. Others lacked any imagination at all. I became lost in all the different outfits.

Suddenly I remembered my sister had told me to get changed. I looked for the one that would shout out ringmaster. It seemed to take hours. I found the same ostrich costume five times before I found the one that must be meant for the show.

I touched the mirror and suddenly I was transported. I must have closed my eyes because I had to open them when it felt like I had landed where ever had been sent to.

I heard a round of applause. As my eyes adjusted to the light I could see that I was in the big top. There was a crowd. All the seats had been filled. Its like an opening night. I thought to myself.

I looked down at my cloths and could see that I was now wearing what I had found I had found in the house of mirrors. I wore black trousers. The waistcoat I wore had nice swirly lines sticked into the black fabric used to create it. I wore a white shirt. To finish off my look I had a long black trench coat with the same swirly designs as the waist coat. Naturally I had a top hat too.

I realised that I was at the stage entrance. The audience waited for the show to start. They waited for me to let the show begin.

‘Well what are you waiting for brother?’ Lexi asked. She stood behind me. Then her hands rested on my back. Before I could figure out what she was doing she shoved me onto the stage.

My eyes were instantly blinded by the sudden change of brightness. Somehow I found my way to the centre of the stage. It was almost as though I knew where to stand.

Standing on a podium I looked out into the cheering audience.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, grand parents, aunts and uncles. Are you ready to be amazed by the show we shall put on for you tonight?’
A raucous cheer exploded through the audience. They were ready to be entertained.   

Offline Carter

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Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Submission Thread
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2014, 10:09:35 PM »
Leaving His Mark 1483 Words

Dylan smiled as the guards led him towards the chair.  His heart pounded in apprehension as he took in the scene around him.  Cameras flashed and murmurs grew as he shuffled his way forwards, the shackles around his wrists and ankles jangling, adding to a discordant symphony. 

He flexed his tattooed shoulders and arms, erasing a knot of tension that had settled across his back and drawing eyes to the legacy written into his skin.

“Dylan Carraggio, do you have any final . . . “

He flashed his teeth at the priest as he spoke, a low, animal growl rising almost unbidden in his throat.  The noise silenced other man, fear replacing the slight hope at recantation, at repentance that had briefly graced his features.  Dylan’s hands itched to grasp his throat and squeeze the white dog collar into soft, waiting flesh.
 
“Just get on with it,” Dylan said. 

The guards were happy to comply.  They did not have to force him into the chair.  He did not resist as they fastened leather straps around his wrists and placed the cold metal helmet over his head, the nodes tickling against his bare scalp.  Looking out at the assembled crowd, he fixed a smile to his face.  At least he had left his mark on their pitiful lives. 

Let them hate me, let them despise me, let them remember my deeds forever.

The waiting justice read out the list of his convictions.  He sat smiling throughout the litany of accomplishments, the tattoos on his shoulders itching in remembrance.  As the executioner placed his hand on the lever, a hysterical laugh bubbled up from deep within him.  In the instant before it was pulled, in the heartbeat before the electricity surged, it burst out, his body arcing as the current struck, pain suffusing his body as the world exploded in blinding, crackling white. 

*

The air hung thick with the acrid smell of burnt hair and death.  He had had enough experience of both to recognise the distinct stench.  His body ached, his right shoulder itched like hell and something heavy was pressing him down into cold, damp earth but at least he felt something. 

He let loose a raucous, coughing laugh as he opened his eyes onto a brilliant blue sky.  How the government could possibly have failed to kill him, how they could have been so foolish, so careless, to dump his body outside rather than burying it, he had no idea.  All that mattered was that they had failed and he lived. 

Overhead he saw a large bird circling before it was joined by a second.  Lifting his head, he got a glimpse of what pinned him to the ground.  Bile rose in his throat but he swallowed it down.  Just a dead body.  Nothing he hadn’t seen before. 

Multiple lacerations.  Plenty of blood.  Eyes plucked out.  Skin blackened by fire.

His brain rattled off the injuries he had seen in that brief instant.  They failed to fit into anything he might have expected.  Why would the government execute someone in such a bloody manner?

Doesn't matter.  You’re alive, he’s not.

He wriggled until he had freed his arms, the weight of the dead man proving difficult to shift.  The birds above began a descent ad he thought he caught a shimmer of light off scales. 

Not scales.  Feathers.  Has to be feathers.

He tried to convince himself as they got lower and lower, their size and shape becoming increasingly inexplicable.  Reptilian, elongated bodies ended in draconic snouts.  Iridescent scales shimmered and flickered in a kaleidoscope of colour; dazzling, bewitching and terrifying. 

Impossible.

The denial did nothing to eradicate the evidence in front of his eyes.  He struggled harder.  Dragons.  Definitely dragons.
 
What kind of twisted government crap is this?

Wind buffeted his face as wings beat thunderclaps in the air above.  As they came lower, he could make out individual scales, note the leather strap that connected to a stirrup.  He made out a booted foot.  A foot meant a person.  A person meant something normal, something his brain could focus on, a means to find something resembling an explanation. 

The realisation calmed him.  People he could handle.  He fixed a smile to his face as the dragons landed, ceasing his struggles and waiting with as much patience as his pounding heart could give him.  The figures, both clothed in peculiar leathers, dismounted and made their way towards him.  Masks covered their faces, their eyes barely visible within the brown, stained fabric.
 
“Hi,” Dylan said, putting on his most persuasive voice.  “There seems to have been a problem here.”

The two men ignored him.  A booted foot nudged his shoulder, lifting it away from the dirt. 

“Hey, listen here,” he said, his anger, never too far away, bubbling to the surface.
 
“He has the markings,” the one man said. 

“Then burn him,” said the other.

“But the general said . . . “

“Just burn him.  We can bring his corpse to the general.  He won’t care.”

For a moment it looked as if the first man might argue but instead they both turned away, back towards their dragons.  For a moment, Dylan lay still and silent, uncomprehending of just what had happened, what had been decided. 

“Hey!  Hey!  I’m a US citizen.  I know my rights!”

They ignored him as he shouted and struggled, desperate to get free, to get away.  The first man got into his saddle and swung the dragon’s head around to face him.  The air in front of the dragon’s snout shimmered and the reek of sulphur filled the air. 

“Wait!  Wait!” he shouted. 

The first sputter of flame curled out of the dragon’s mouth.  In an instant the world erupted into endless, flickering fire.  Agony enveloped him and he screamed.
 
*

Cool breeze blew stinging kisses across his skin.  Dylan groaned and stirred, every movement filled with pain.  Alive.  Again. 

Two moons hung heavy in the lightening sky, each full and low to the horizon, morning light making them shine like blood.  The air smelt crisp and fine, faint whiffs of dew and blossom on the breeze.  Doing his best to remain calm, he moved gingerly into a sitting position. 

What is going on?  What have they done to me?

Unanswerable questions hurtled round his brain, seeking even the very edges of sense.  An itching down his arm drew his attention.  One glance sent a chill that clutched his bones.  One of his tattoos had vanished.  Before he could rationalise the disappearance, the peace shattered.
 
“There he is!”

The cry, accompanied by the pounding of hooves, had him on his feet in an instant.  He gasped as his legs almost buckled, every muscle aching and tender.  He had to run, to flee.  Across the open plain he could make out two figures on horseback kicking up dust as they galloped towards him.  Without a second thought he ran in the opposite direction. 

Who?  Why?  Where?

He tried to ignore the questions and the faint glimmers of answers his brain provided, concentrating instead on his feet, on his legs, on getting as far away from the chasing riders as he could.  Something snagged his foot and he tumbled to the ground.  Tucking himself into a ball, he did his best to roll to his feet.  As he did so something punched into his back.  Pain lanced through him as he fell to the ground and already he could feel blood trickling down his spine. 

Attempts to get back to his feet failed.  A whistle in the air preceded another punch in his back.  Tentative hands sought out the source of agony and found a wooden shaft sticking out of his flesh.  Breath came in ragged gulps, each lungful uncomfortable and far from satisfying. 

“I got him!”

The voice sounded young and right behind him, exuberant and full of delight. 

“Well done, son,” said a second, more mature voice.  “Now put the Marked One out of his misery.”

Dylan screamed as cold metal sank into his neck. 

*

When he opened his eyes he just got to his feet and ran.  He did his best to ignore the ache in his muscles, the itching that enveloped his left arm, and the torrent of screaming questions in his head.  He barely looked at the pink flesh where before there had been another tattoo, another reminder of his lifetime of crime.  Looking only raised further questions that he did not want to answer or even consider. 

Around him the trees danced, branches and trunks swaying to a rhythm only they could hear.  He spared such marvels just a cursory glance as he dashed onwards, away from whatever this world had in store. 

“There he is!  The Marked One!”

This time the cry was joined by a multitude of whoops and cheers.  The hunt began again. 

Offline ladygreen

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Submission Thread
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2014, 03:53:52 AM »
Well, here I go…  This was a great challenge - I wrote this from the POV of a secondary character in my current WIP.
Word Count: 1499 (This has to be a magic number - for Americans who have watched "The Price is Right" you know what I'm talking about  ;) )
Twitter: @AniAulbach

Song & Dance

Great-gran Abella said we came from the water; that once, my family’s ancestors swam the oceans and rivers.  It was why, even thousands of turns later, the land felt so uncomfortable.  It was a feeling we all had, like wearing someone else’s clothing – tight and wrong in all the most important places.  Father never got used to it, so eventually he went back to the water.  At least, this is what Great-gran told us.  I liked to think that Father had gone somewhere happy, somewhere that fit.  But Mother…well, she was closed to such things.  It’s sad, but I don’t even remember his face.

The water was full of dark secrets.  Great-gran whispered them to me and my sister on the sly, sharing forgotten family lore.  Mother said that Gilana was too old to believe in nonsense and yelled at her for listening.  The scolding wasn’t necessary; I knew Gilana was beginning to lose interest, only pretending to believe.  Thankfully, being the youngest, I was still allowed some freedoms.  After all, I was eleven turns and Great-gran said eleven was the perfect age for believing.   

My favorite stories were about the Ahn.  In some of Great-gran’s tales they were terrifying, with gnashing teeth and bulging eyes and transparent skin - horrible monsters that would snatch me up if I stayed in the water too long.  In others they were beautiful, with sapphire eyes and pearly skin and musical voices.  No one saw them anymore; they always stayed hidden.  Great-gran said they used to show themselves, guiding fishing ships by song. 

I was thinking of this the morning Great-gran took me and Gilana out to the lake to dig for clams.  More than anything, I wanted to hear that music.

“Will they sing today?” I asked, shielding my eyes against the bright rippling water.  The lake was huge; a wide, flat mirror that stretched out for miles before touching a distant craggy horizon. 

Great-gran tied her skirt up high between her legs and waded into the water.  Her skin shone bronze in the sun, only the faintest of creases hinting at her age.  “If we dance well enough.  Come.”  She swept her arms in an arc, twisting her body.  The water shimmered gold and pink around her.

Gilana strode into the water.  I watched her as she approached Great-gran, wondering if she cared anymore about why we were really here.  I had seen the belief dying in her eyes; each day there was a little less.

“Nadya!” Gilana called, cupping her hands so that her voice reached the shore.  “Come on!”

I tied up my skirt and followed my sister, bouncing on my heels to catch up.

“Now we begin,” Great-gran said.  She ran her palms over the surface of the water as if smoothing out wrinkles on a bed sheet, and then raised her arms to the sky, beginning a familiar dance. 

We mimicked her, each sweep of our arms bringing us deeper into the water.  Beckoning.  That’s what Great-gran called it.  Once a pass we came and beckoned with Great-gran and told Mother we were digging for clams.  In truth, ever since Father had left, we had been trying to call him back. 

We danced in silence until the sun finally poked out from behind the pockmarked moon and sent slanting rays of heat to beat upon our heads.  Steam rose from the lake in great billows and I began to sweat. 

Gilana abruptly stopped dancing, letting her arms fall like dead weight.  “Great-gran, can we go back now?” she asked.  “It’s too hot.”

Great-gran didn’t answer, kept dancing.

“We haven’t found Father yet,” I whispered, bringing my arm forward and trying to sweep it as gracefully as Great-gran.  “Keep beckoning.  You’ll ruin it.”

Gilana sighed and rolled her eyes.  She turned so Great-gran couldn’t see her.  “Nadya, Father’s not out here,” she said in a low voice.  “We just do this for her; you know that, right?”  She flicked her eyes back over her shoulder.

I froze, my arms hanging midair.  “Don’t say that.” 

She shrugged.  “I’m going back.  You coming?”

“He’s here.”

“He’s dead.”

I felt a rush of heat.  Dropping my arms, I shoved a wave of water at her. 

Spluttering, Gilana wiped her face.  “It’s true,” she hissed.  “I’m going now Great-gran,” she said in a louder voice and then turned to leave. 

I watched her for a moment and then yelled.  “It’s not!  It’s not true!”  She ignored me, bobbing back to shore.

“It doesn’t matter,” Great-gran said, sliding to my side. 

“You let her go,” I accused, wanting someone to blame for my sister’s change.  It wasn’t so very long ago when Gilana would stay out here for hours, dancing, believing.

Great-gran shook her head.  “It was time for her to go.  She has too much of your mother inside.  But you....”  She poked me.  “You have your father’s blood.  One day he will come.  Perhaps today, perhaps not.  Come, let us dance.”

A fierce longing ignited in my chest.  A fuzzy image of Father came to mind and I heard a distant laugh, rich and throaty and deep.  I began to dance again.  The sun climbed higher and higher and when my muscles began to burn and I thought I could do no more, Great-gran stopped and dropped her arms.

“Look,” she said, pointing at the water.

It was spinning in a slow circle.  I stepped back, but Great-gran’s hand shot out and she gripped my arm with surprising strength.

“No, you must stay.”

The water churned and a dark circle bloomed from the center of the swirl.  I struggled to ground my heels into the silt, leaning against the sudden current, but a hard impact on my back sent me lurching.  I clutched at Great-gran, but she was falling too.  The black center of the whirlpool roared open, sucked us down and sent us tumbling.  I flipped, losing all sense of up or down, the rush of water thundering in my ears.  The swirling, screaming madness finally stopped and I found myself standing, alone and shivering, in the middle of the lake. 

“Great-gran?”

The familiar shoreline of lakeside houses was gone.  The distant mountains were gone.  The bright blue afternoon sky was gone.  There was…nothing; just an endless stretch of still water, reflecting a deep red sky.  It looked as if everything was bleeding.  I blinked and rubbed my eyes, as if that would change it back.  When I looked again, the skies were still red and I was surrounded.  Stone boulders now dotted the water, their pale rounded forms rising like the hunched backs of a hundred men.

A high pitched keening rang out, undulating across the lake.  It was joined by others and soon a chorus of cascading notes filled the air.  The stones righted themselves and stood up. 

They were men.

No.

I blinked.  Human.

No.

Ahn!

They rounded on me as one and I shrank down in the water, letting the water cover half my face.  There was nowhere to go. 

When Great-gran stepped forward, I cried out in relief.  “I’m here!”  I rose up and waved.

She came to me, reaching out her hand.  “Nadya,” she said in a deep, unfamiliar voice.

Startled, I jumped back.  Great-gran reached out a long finger, stopping a few inches short of touching me.

“Ahnist,” said the hundred Ahn as one.

They were tall and pale as parchment.  A thousand sapphire eyes glittered and I dipped back down in the water. 

“I want to go home now,” I whispered.

Great-gran nodded.  “I know.”  Her voice was like a man’s. 

I realized that she had been standing with them, was still standing with them.  I turned round and round, searching for a way out.  They were all staring with those bulging blue eyes, everywhere.  Quick as a fish, Great-gran reached and grasped my arm, clamping down so hard that I cried out.  Her eyes burned a bright blue, as if lit from within.  This was not my Great-gran Abella.  This was something else – something terrible.

The thing that was not Great-gran grinned, revealing a gummy row of pointy fish teeth.  “I will take you home now.” 

I tried to pull away, yanked with all of my strength, but the grip on my arm was like iron.

“Weren't you looking for me, calling me?”  Her face slid off, the flesh dripping like melting ice.  Bulging blue eyes looked out from a new face that was familiar, and yet...

“F-father?” 

“I will take you home now,” he repeated, flashing another gummy grin.

“But where is Great-gran?”  I searched the pale faces.  They began to sing again, the high notes rolling up and up, until my ears hurt.  This is what they sound like; this is their music.  I had finally heard the song of the Ahn.  When Father dragged me beneath the surface, all I could think of was my sister, safe and dry and unbelieving on the shore.


Offline Giddler

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Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Submission Thread
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2014, 03:14:05 PM »
Magnum Opus                                                                                                              1460 words

Professor Godfrey Faulkner had captured the hearts of the Capital in years long past with his bold scientific mind - a mind many believed would bring the country into a New Golden Age of reasoned thinking and science-driven industry.

 His self-funded Academy of Natural Sciences had cemented his reputation as one of the country’s great philanthropists, and he had courted the working classes with his efforts to provide free education for all. His star had seemed ever-ascendant. His success, combined with his youth and charismatic personality, had made him a hugely popular and influential public figure.

Then his star had fallen.

Colleagues had spoken out vehemently against him, railing against the new and impossible ideas he put forth. Rumors of eccentric theories and erratic behavior had caused him to be shunned by his academic peers.  In response, he had avoided the public eye, preferring the drab surroundings of Faulkner Abbey to conduct his research. The sneering ink of the newspapers had a long memory, however, and it was to be many years before his humiliation was forgiven.

His abrupt return to the Academy’s lecture circuit, therefore, had been received with enthusiasm by the scandal-hungry public. Faulkner, now eminently middle-aged, was billed as a champion of the common folk and  lauded with adulation once again.

Dupes, all of them, thought Edward, bitterly. You’d be laughed out of the building if these people knew the truth about you, Godfrey.

 He looked around the lecture theater, packed with the studious working families come to learn and improve their lot. Peering myopically through his cage bars, he nibbled his cabbage leaf. He had been witness to Faulkner’s recent works: where once scientific reason ruled supreme, he now resorted more and more to occultism and spirituality.

 “As every student of physics is aware, between every particle of any object is empty space. Space formed by the interplay of positively and negatively charged energies.”, Faulkner was saying.

He thumped his fist on the lectern, scattering the speech notes he had discarded.

“But what might we find if we were to peer deeply enough into the gaps between these tiniest of bodies? This is the crux of my great work: to answer this greatest of mysteries!”

He was distracted by a movement in the front row. A boy, scrubbed, starched and no older than seven, had slumped drowsily forwards in the stifling press of bodies. He snapped awake with a startled yelp, provoking laughter from the assembly. Faulkner chuckled, casting an indulgent smile at the mortified lad.

“Fear not, my boy, I have almost finished my dry oration. In fact, perhaps you would be so kind as to help me with my demonstration?” The young lad blushed pink, his embarrassment forgotten.

“Yes, please!”, the child squeaked, prompting further amusement throughout the crowd.
“Splendid! And your name, young fellow?”
“Frederick, sir!”

Faulkner bade the young boy up onto the stage, and gestured for the Academy porters to remove the lectern. He then had Frederick open the stage curtains with the lever at the left wing of the stage.
 
The audience was utterly silent as the device was revealed. It's appearance was so strange as to seem alien. Central to it was a screen composed of a leathery material pulled tight across a circular frame. It resembled the mounted skin of a Kraken. It’s color was drab but undefinable, seeming to shift constantly.

Throwing a switch on a panel of the device, Faulkner turned back to the restless crowd.

“Now, while the flux settles, I will explain this device. As I stated earlier, my research is devoted to the spaces between realities. This machine”- he stumbled over the word, as though about to say something else- “will open wide this hidden space, and allow us to see and go beyond!”

The device began to emit a droning hum. As the crowd stared, the stretched skin on the frame began to glow a baleful purple, swiftly intensifying into a lilac so bright it hurt the eyes, throbbing like a migraine.

Panic suddenly gripped Edward. Faulkner was no fool. He wouldn’t test an unproven device on himself.

“Frederick!” cried Faulkner.

Torn from his rapt attention on the device, the boy started in shock. In the front row a stout man, clearly the boy’s father, stood up to protest, obviously fearing the worst. Edward’s stomach lurched at his next words:

“Fetch me that cage, would you?”

Frederick stood goggle-eyed for a moment then hastened as fast as he could to obey. The boy’s father sat self-consciously down. Edward felt himself being plucked from the ground. The cage turned to face the glowing screen and the door slid open. Faulkner lifted Edward from his cage and held him close as he approached the device.

“I can’t go first, you see, his anger is too great,” Faulkner whined, audible only to Edward. “A sacrifice was supposed to be made, but I couldn’t. And I’d been promised so much.”

Stop this insanity!, snapped Edward, nibbling futilely at the hands grasping him. Faulkner! You madman, look at me! Look me in the eye! You can’t do this! You cannot -

Edward’s whole world went blank. He was falling.

- do this, you lunatic!

Edward felt himself rolling down a steep bank. Desperately, he splayed his legs out to arrest his momentum and remain shell-upwards. The slope leveled off and he slid to a halt.

Ash-black desert stretched off forever. He craned his neck up to look at a dead sky. The light here had the same quality as was emitted by the apparatus in the lecture theater. Edward looked around despondently.

“Greetings, little soul.” A deep, male voice spoke behind him.

Edwards span with excruciating slowness. Stood before him was a gaunt figure in dark plate armor. His eyes were the purest black, pits of void in the man’s ashen features.

 The warrior shifted the huge sword hanging across his back and sat, his armor making no sound.

“You were sent here in the stead of one too weak to match deeds to words. My name is Belioch-”

Fear gripped Edward as he recognized the name. Much of Faulkner’s occult research had concerned this entity. Belioch, the dark patron of thwarted ambition and unrewarded effort, if Edward’s memory served.

“-and your soul is mine.”

Edward cringed in his shell in terror. The demon smiled, leaning close.

“Although, a deal could be made.”

———————————

The lecture hall was almost empty.

“Most impressive, Sir! Most impressive!”, the boy’s father was saying.

Faulkner was barely listening. His imagination was afire with the possibilities of the wonders which were waiting beyond the portal.

“-and young Frederick is so proud to have assisted you-” the oaf wittered, nodding at the boy. Faulkner’s mind was elsewhere.

All knowledge. All experience. The demon had promised this and more when he first appeared to him during a summoning. The demon had shown him how to build the portal device, and had provided skin flayed from it's own torso to stretch across the frame of the portal. The final component was Faulkner’s soul.

 No sooner had the bloody skin appeared from nowhere onto the frame of the machine, Faulkner had reneged on the deal. The demon’s rage, contained within the summoning circle, had been awful.

Howl away, Belioch, he thought as the boy’s father droned on. Our contract is finished. You have a soul. You have no claim over me.

He was tugged from his reverie, aware that the fat buffoon had fallen abruptly silent. He noticed the look of horror on the man’s face, his horrified gaze fixed on something just behind Faulkner.

He turned slowly. On the face of the portal a small shape was forming, ripples spreading outward as it slid smoothly from the surface. A seething black fluid dripped from it, evaporating before it hit the floor to reveal a dome of smooth obsidian-dark metal.

Four legs and a tiny head emerged from the dome. Faulkner was dimly aware of Frederick and his father scrambling across chairs for the exit. Dark shades began to bleed across the walls.

“Edward?”, he whispered..

All knowledge, Godfrey. All experience. The voice spoke aloud in Faulkner’s mind. The little eyes locked onto his.

It began as a trickle. All the thoughts and memories of every creature ever to think or feel, growing in intensity until a mass of knowledge heavy enough to crack the mind of a god brought Faulkner to his knees, red tears trickling from his eyes. His last sensation was of a huge pressure building up in the base of his skull.

Faulkner’s whole world went blank.

Offline Maxfield

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Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Submission Thread
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2014, 01:52:19 PM »
Written by James Parkes
Words 1488

The Fantasy-Faction Network 

“Turn that computer off. It’s getting late!”

“Just five more minuets mum. This Fantasy-Faction site is awesome!” answered Bran.

“As awesome as it may be, you still have school tomorrow. Now turn it off,” ordered Bran’s mum.

“O-K mum,” sighed Bran. “I’m logging off now.”

“Thank you. Night-night my darling,” whispered Bran’s mum, before closing his bedroom door.

“Yeah night mum,” replied Bran, ignoring the blown kiss.

Adhering to his mum’s wishes, Bran reluctantly hovered over the logout option, when he noticed a new thread had appeared. The subject was Fantasy-Portal, which had been set up by Xiagan, one of the sites administrators. Intrigued, Bran couldn’t resist viewing the page, but there was nothing to view. The page was blank; all except for one word. The word Portal!

Assuming it was an error; Bran proceeded to logout - when the word Portal began flashing vigorously - faster and faster, twisting and turning until Bran started feeling nauseous and uneasy. It was at this point when he found himself being drawn towards the screen, closer and closer and…

*

Bran woke with a thumping head and feeling woozy. His first instincts were to call out for his parents, but there was no point - he wasn’t in his bedroom anymore. The prickly dried grass beneath; the smell of smoulder in the air and the screams of suffering carried across the winds told him otherwise.

But where was he?   

Slowly standing, Bran took his time to take in his new surroundings. He was in a large desiccated field. It was hot – very hot. In the distance some woods were set ablaze, encased in think smoke. The path behind was just as unenticing. A dark creepy forest that looked hostile to the bravest of brave.

Bran may only be fifteen, but he wasn’t stupid. He wasn’t dreaming and he certainly wasn’t in England anymore. But it was the alarming shrieks from the smoke filled skies that told him that he may not even be in the same universe. At first glance it may have been mistaken for a large bird, hovering above the burning woods, but the flames that emanated from its mouth exposed the species as dragon orientation.

But that wasn’t the only dragon in the sky. Bran hadn’t noticed another ascending from over his shoulder. And if it wasn’t for the cries that came out from the dark forest behind, he may never have.

Dragon - RUN!”

The air was already beginning to warm around him as the dragon drew close with his fire filled mouth wide open, preparing to unleash a ball of flame towards its designated target. Bran had one option – the forest. But it only took a few steps to realize that he couldn’t out run the dragon. Shutting his eyes he gave into the inevitable.

Although Bran didn’t turn to ash, instead the dragon screeched out in pain, withdrawing into the skies, just before reaching the edge of the forest.

Unsure of what had happened, Bran continued into the darkness of the forest. If fate had treated him so kindly with the dragon, maybe the forest was his sanctuary.   

It wasn’t long before such thoughts were abolished from his mind.

A few minutes of rash tumbling and thrashing through the dense forest, Bran was completely lost. Unfortunately that wasn’t his only concern, as there were far worse things than just being lost; the kind of things that scare off dragons – Bran wasn’t alone and he hadn’t been since he entered the forest. Something old, dark and evil lurked amongst the creepy shadows of the forest and unintentionally Bran had procured its fullest attention.

Once more Bran was caught unaware of the dangers of this perilous and unforgiving world, which was again closing in on him.   

“This way – hurry,” commanded the same voice who had guided him from the dragon.

Wary of this mysterious voice, Bran had no choice. Whoever they were, they wanted to help. For now anyway!

Moving swiftly, Bran headed in the direction from where the voice came. He may have been unable to see his predator, but the sound of the trees being split like twigs behind told him all that he needed to know. It was big, it was very close.

“Through here – quick,” ordered the voice.

Bran followed the voice into the trees, when the ground suddenly gave way and he found himself descending downwards, until he eventually landed into an open cave. 

 “You’re safe now,” calmly assured the voice.

“Who said that?” demanded Bran anxiously.

“A friend,” acknowledged the voice stepping out into view.

“You’re…you’re an elf!” stuttered Bran, rubbing his eyes to confirm the identification.

“My name is Xiagan and these are my companions, Arry and Autumn2May.”

Arry was a hard faced looking Dwarf; behind stood a solemn looking hobbit called Autumn2May.

 “But you’re real people! You work at the Fantasy-Faction website. I must be dreaming,” declared Bran.

“You tell him Xiagan,” said Autumn2May. “It’s your plan.”

“I understand that this may all seem surreal, but that’s why I picked you. You’re one of our avid followers. You know fantasy. So hopefully you’re open to the fact that you have crossed through a portal into a different world.”

“O-K. Go on!” replied Bran cautiously.

“We do work at the Fantasy-Faction site - that part is true,” continued Xiagan. “What you didn’t know is that websites can be used as portals and unfortunately for you, our emperor the Overlord has had his sights set on ruling your planet for some time. He’s been using the creative minds of your fantasy writers to feed this world. Whatever they write comes true. That’s why the monthly competitions were set up to find the best writers. Each monthly winner is then enslaved and hooked up into the network, being forced to continuously create fantasy characters for Overlords army of darkness, like the dragons you encountered. Previous winners are already here:  ACSmyth, G R Matthews, and TOMunro. Soon Overlord will have a large enough army to attack your world.”

“But what can I do?” I’m just a boy. I’m no hero!”

“That’s why you’re perfect. Overlord would never expect a teenage boy trying to stop him. If we can just get you into Overlord’s castle and into the network room, there’s a master chair that will connect you to the other writers. You will then be able to sever the link. Everything that was created will be destroyed.

“How would I get into the castle undetected?”

“We will disguise you as one of his human slaves. As generals to Overlord’s armies, no one will suspect us,” replied Arry, whilst surely stroking his beard.

“I don’t have a choice, do I?”

“I’m afraid not,” answered Xiagan reluctantly.     

“Then let’s do it. I’ve always wanted to be a hero!”

Unaware of their treachery, the three generals walked through the heavily guarded castle gates with their new companion. The castle was overrun with mindless slaves making it easy to go unnoticed and safely reach the network room.

“This is it,” announced Xiagan. “It’s up to you now Bran. Connect yourself to the master chair and separate the link.”

Cagily Bran entered the room. There were six writers linked up to the network. They were alive, but their eyes were pure white and they seemed hypnotised.

Bran didn’t hesitate; quickly he made his way towards the master chair and began putting his fingers into the side holes, as Xiagan instructed. Instantly Bran was connected to network. Remembering what Xiagan had told him – he focused on the writers to merge with their minds. He should then be able to separate their link - but it wasn’t working! Instead Bran was in severe pain. His eyes felt like they were burning within their sockets and there was an unbearable sensation inside his head. Immediately he tried removing his fingers to unlink himself from the network, but they were now entwined into the chair. He was stuck. The more he tried breaking free, the more confined he became. Anxiously Bran’s eyes danced across the room looking for Xiagan. Time was running out. Bran could feel the network taking over; he didn’t have long before he joined the writers. 

“Are you ok?” asked a vicious voice.

“Who said that?” snapped Bran.

“In this realm I’m known as the Overlord and thanks to you, so will the people of your world.”

“Xiagan…help…me.” Bran desperately cried out, now struggling to speak.

“You want Xiagan to help?” laughed Overlord. 

From behind the mighty Overlord stepped forward the slender elf known as Xiagan.

“Sorry Bran, but you forgot the number one rule in fantasy. Don’t trust anyone!” Xiagan chuckled.

“But why?” faintly asked Bran.

“We needed you Bran; you were the missing link to connect the network to your world. As we speak this story is being transmitted and whoever is reading this right now are slowly becoming a slave to the Fantasy-Faction website forever...
     
« Last Edit: June 30, 2014, 07:04:39 PM by xiagan »

Offline TOMunro

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Submission Thread
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2014, 10:59:09 PM »
This is 1500 words (not including the title). Like others I have written it is an (extreme) prequel story to my Boodline trilogy.  This one features my arch villain for the first time.  I hope you enjoy.  You can find me on twitter @tomunro


The Dark Lord Returns

Lightning coloured the clouded sky in an instant of electric blue.  The jagged mountain peak was silhouetted for a moment, kindling hope in Virrenda’s heart.

”Come on, Caleb!” She pulled at her brother’s arm lending physical force to her words of encouragement. 

He looked up. “It’s too far, we’ll never make it.”

She gripped a little tighter, sharp fingers digging into the thin flesh beneath his threadbare shirt.  “Come on.   We’re nearly there.  You owe it to Grandfather.”

“Grandfather was a fool,” Caleb mumbled through blue lips.  “It’s a stupid old story we’re chasing all the way to the top of the forbidden mountain.”

“Grandpa always said there was a reason why it was forbidden, a reason why He didn’t want anyone here.  It must be because here lies the means to defeat Him.”

“Defeat Him?”  Caleb looked around at the rain lashed slope sprawled beneath them. “That bastard can’t be defeated.” His eyes scanned the grey mass.  “He’ll know we’re here.  He’ll be coming for us.”

“In which case we’re doomed anyway.”  Virrenda pounded her brother with remorseless logic.  “Our only hope is to go on, to get there before He does.”

Persuaded by the argument, Caleb shuffled to his feet, scrabbling across the treacherous mountainside.  Eluding the sentries had been easy compared to the climb up the precipitous rock face.  It could have got no easier in the decades since their grandfather had made the perilous ascent.

Virrenda made it to the top first, half a length ahead of her brother, and immediately sprawled flat on the rain slicked summit to reach down and help him up.  Caleb, looking in stupefaction over her shoulder, muttered, “It’s just like grandpa said.”

His sister would not turn until he was safely panting on the peak.  When at last she could safely look around, she beheld an oval picture as tall as a man hanging in space a few inches above the mountain’s peak.  Caleb was too exhausted to rise, but Virrenda stood in awe at the precise fulfilment of her grandfather’s prophecy.   It looked like a painting hung in space, until a slight movement by the observer had the objects shift their relative positions, revealing depth to the image.

It was a window into a dark torchlit chamber.  A great stone throne stood upon a raised dais. Two finely dressed ladies sat on simple wooden chairs to either side, their long hair swept back past sharply cusped ears.  The one on the left lolled in her seat with half-lidded eyes.  The woman on the right was more alert, poised to rise.  The torch flames curled in intricate wisps of frozen glowing heat.

Caleb was shaking his head.  “They’re here, just like grandpa said.  But how can they help us.”

Virrenda sucked at her lip, suppressing a shiver in the freezing mountain air.  “He was sure. He said they would know how the Master could be destroyed.  This place is always so well guarded; it is precious to him.  It must hold the secrets by which we can bring him down.  This window must yield the answer.”

A booming sound echoed up from the valley below.   The siblings turned.  There was a red light glowing through the rain, far away.

“He’s coming!” Caleb cried backing away.

“Calm yourself. It took us a day to climb up here we have time yet.”

Virrenda kept her eye on the red light trying to gauge its speed of movement.  She did not see her brother fall.  She only heard the stifled yelp suddenly cut short.

She spun round.  A scuff in the ground showed the stone that must have tripped him.  But now the image in the oval window held another figure, a ragged man in a thin shirt with blue lips suspended against all the laws of gravity above the stone floor of that other place with its two high ladies and the empty throne.

Virrenda swung back at the red light swooping up the mountainside.  It was moving fast, leaping, covering distances that had taken them hours in mere minutes.  She pulled the thin knife from her belt and stood in wait.  She was ready to confront him, here where He must be most vulnerable.  She scratched her hand, hoping to keep herself awake with pain, but even so the freezing mountain air nearly did for her.  It was the sudden deeper cold heralding His arrival that roused her from the slow drawn comfort of a frozen death.

“What isss the meaning of thisss?”  The voice hissed from gumless teeth, a skull clad with cracked and blackened skin.  Twin red lights blazed in the empty sockets of his head, atop a body robed in rich and rotted cloth.  The staff in his withered hands was headed by a glowing gem which cast blood red light and shadow.

Virrenda thrust the knife out.  “This secret place is the heart of your power, Dark One. I will destroy it and you.”

His head rocked back on his shoulders, a cruel laugh cut through the raging storm. “Oh ssso foolisssh child, ssso little idea where you ssstand.”

He suddenly thrust the head of his staff towards her.  Despite the distance between them, she felt the force of his blow flinging her back towards the picture.  There was a strange sensation as of some membrane sliding over her and suddenly it was warmer and she was falling hard onto a stone floor beside Caleb.

She scrabbled to her feet looking back through an oval window at an empty mountain top lit by a flickering grey light.

“Who are you?” A woman’s voice.  The lady had risen with the clank of chains that Virrenda only now saw binding her ankles to the chair.  Her companion lolled insensible.  “Where is Maelgrum?”

“Where is this place?” Virrenda asked.  The cavernous hall stretched into the distance, its walls of rock unbroken by any window.  The floor was laid with mosaics depicting scenes of torture in intricate detail.  “Where is the key to destroying the Dark Lord?”

“There is no key,” the woman said.  “Not here.”

There was a blast of cold behind Virrenda.  The lady sank back trembling to the chair.  Caleb whimpered.  Virrenda felt her skin crawl before the first sibilant words intruded on her hearing.  “You are mossst welcome to my home, Virrenda.  I sssee you have met my guessstsss, the Lady Liessa and her sssleeping cousssin.”

Virrenda spun round, the knife jutting infront of her.  “I’ll cut you,” she told the tall dark shape.  His staff was gone but the bony digits of his hands flexed in a delicate dance.  Virrenda circled warily as Caleb stumbled to his feet behind her. 

“You think yourssself ssso clever, little Virrenda.  It isss almossst amusssing.”

“We’re not scared of you.” Virrenda insisted.

“You ssshould be, sssay goodbye to your brother.”

She screamed as Maelgrum’s hand sliced sideways and Caleb was jerked through the oval window onto the mountain peak, though she did not see him fall.

She thrust the knife out but he grabbed her wrist in a grip of icecold iron.  The knife fell from frozen fingers.  Liessa moaned at the agonised scream drawn from Virrenda’s lips.

“You mussst come with me,” the Dark Lord insisted dragging her through the window.

She tumbled onto a peak that was lush with green grass, rolling to be free of his reach.  Standing she looked around in bewilderment.  The mountain was lower than she remembered, its harsh slopes softened and garbed in forest greenery, the horizon punctured by a fresh mountain range.  “Where is this? Where is my brother?”

“This isss where you left a moment ago and your brother isss dead, a thousssand yearsss dead.”

She shook her head at the nonsense, looking past his shoulder at the picture in the oval window.  It was the same scene as before, though the Lady’s face was now a picture of alarm.

“It is not where I left.  You lie!”

“It isss where you left, it isss not when you left.  Thisss portal isss a bridge between the planesss, it linksss your home to mine, but time runsss differently in each.  A thousssand yearsss passss here in but a sssecond in my home.  In the time it takesss to exchange two wordsss with my elven guessstsss there, empiresss may rissse and fall here, mountainsss even may sssucumb to nature.  The world, the people you knew are all mouldered into dussst.”

She shook with the certainty that he did not lie.  “Then at least my people died free of you, foul one.”

His mirthless echoed around the mountain top.  “Ten thousand yearsss passed here, Virrenda, before I followed you through the portal to my home.  Ten thousand years in which I made sssure that everyone borne of your line sssuffered a lifetime for your impudence.”  He bent close, cold air driving the heat from her body.  “And I mean to ssshow you what they experienced before I leave here for the lassst time.”   
 
« Last Edit: May 24, 2014, 11:42:21 PM by TOMunro »

Offline Wizardly-K9

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Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Submission Thread
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2014, 10:37:50 PM »
Trying to do something interesting with one. Specifically, making fun of fantasy tropes.  Gracias.

[1497 words]

A Hero's Burden

"I'm not going back in there," Lee said to his sister.

He had told her that line several times, but this time he meant it. His arms were crossed, his lips were pursed, and even Liz, aloof as she was, was able to distinguish the finality in his tone.

She looked away from the large painting in the attic to face her twin brother.  Her expression was the polar opposite of his. It was lofty and somewhat lackadaisical, though that basically described Liz in a nutshell.

"Lee, is now really the time to 'take a stand?' If we don't go to the other world soon-"

"Warsus will be doomed to eternal darkness.' Yeah, I know. That excuse is starting to get old, Liz. Warsus was doing pretty good on its own before we found this painting in Grandma's attic. Now, it's like the whole world will collapse if we don't help an orc find his missing nose ring."

"Or save princess Rita from Amacles."

Lee's brows perked up at Rita's name. She was to be the Warsus Kingdom's next ruler, but her future was a bleak one thanks to her constant kidnappings. The amount of times Lee and Liz had to save Rita from political enemies, rival kingdoms, or the Marsh King Amacles (who was by far the biggest offender) bordered on ridiculous; and Rita shared Lee's sentiment on the matter.

He sighed while messaging his temple. Warsus really would be doomed if Rita stayed missing. He went to fetch his golden sword Godspeed which was hidden under several dusty rugs, and joined his sister in front of the painting. He glanced at Liz and frowned when he saw the giant smile stretched on her face.

"Let's go already!" he barked.

She nodded, still smiling broadly, and waved her hand in front of the painting. The images in the frame swapped between locations. First it was grassy plains, then jagged mountains, then Warsus' bustling capital. Liz stopped at the image of a marsh with a black fortress in a background of ponds and trees.

Liz jumped in first, literally somersaulting into the painting. Lee took a deep breath and jumped in after her. The two landed in a pond. The sky was dark and cloudless and the twins were alone, save for the creatures growling to themselves in the night.

"Let's get this over with," Lee said marching toward Amacles' fortress. "The only thing I hate more than marshes are broody kings that live in them."

"Relax, bro. We'll be out of here before Amacles notices us. His fortress has always been easy to sneak into."

Liz stumbled. She looked at her feet and saw a root had sprouted from the ground and slithered over her heel. Lee was having the same problem. He tried hacking at the roots with his sword, but they were spreading too fast. The marsh was eating them. Liz tried to ignite the roots with flames, but she and Lee were consumed nonetheless.

Then they were spit out.

The marsh and its hostile vegetation had been swapped for a court. Torches were lit, armed men were standing at attention and the Marsh King was sitting on his throne with a nasty grin on his face, Lee's sword leaning on his throne's arm, and his cat on his lap.

"So we meet again, Cousland twins," he said.

Lee looked at his sister. She shrugged. "What? He's getting better at this."

Lee shook his head. He looked up at the dangling cage hanging next to Amacles. Sitting inside it was princess Rita looking as jaded as a kidnap victim could. She even yawned into her hand.

"Rita, are you OK? How are you holding up?" Liz shouted.

"Well... the cage could be bigger, there's a cold draft that keeps flowing up my dress, and I have to rub my legs to keep them from falling asleep. The worst thing has to be Amacles' monologues, though. Even his cat doesn't want to hear that crap."

"Don't pretend you know what Winifred the VIII's inner thoughts are, you wench!" Amacles exclaimed. "Now, watch as I kill Warsus' last hope. Their deaths mean-"

"Warsus will be doomed to eternal darkness; and look, can we just get this over with?" Lee asked. "Your floor is cold."

Amacles growled and snapped his fingers. Ten men filed in front of the twins with crossbows ready to fire. Lee glanced at his sister who smirked back. She twiddled her fingers just as Amacles commanded his men to fire. Godspeed spun from Amacles' throne-side to Lee's hand. The sword's enchantment blessed Lee with the speed of a stampede of peagusi.

In the blink of an eye his sword was drawn, sheathed, and the all of the crossbow bolts were cut to shambles. Amacles stood from his throne. "Men! Charge them!" he commanded.

The men did so, but Liz's magic tossed them around like rag dolls while Lee cut the hilts off the their swords before they could draw them. Seeing his imminent defeat unfold in front of him, Amacles coddled Winifred VIII and escaped the court.

"Liz, shoot the cage!" Lee urged.

Liz nodded and shot a bolt of lightning at the chain Rita's cage dangled from. When it snapped, the cage fell and Rita had to press down her dress to keep it from floating. Lee blinked under the cage and sliced its steel apart before it landed on top of him. Rita landed firmly in his arms.

"Hey, you didn't drop me this time," she said.

"Sixth time's the charm. Now, where did Amacles get to?"

There was an explosion in the court. Liz walked out of it wiping her hands.

"I think he's trying to escape through the marsh," she said.

"We'll get him. If that's alright with the princess?"

"Watching you two beat the hell out of that narcissist? Yeah, I wouldn't mind watching that. You can put me down now."

"That won't be necessary."

Rita was confused. Further so when Liz piggybacked onto her brother. Godspeed's enchantment invoked, and the three of them were outside of Amacles' fortress. They were surrounded by the damp, eerie surroundings of the marsh again. Liz jumped off Lee's back.

"Excuse me, princess," he said as he put Rita down.

He walked a short distance from the girls and put out his leg. A few seconds later, harried footsteps were heard, and Amacles tripped over Lee's foot.

"Shouldn't run in the dark," Lee said. "It's dangerous."

Winifred VIII hissed and ran off.

"Winifred! Be careful!" Amacles shouted.

Lee pressed Godspeed's golden blade against Amacles' face.  "You have bigger things to worry about than your kitty cat, Amacles."

Amacles scoffed. "You fool! Have you forgotten why I am called the Marsh King?"

Amacles gripped his fist. Just like before, roots trapped the Cousland twins, as well as the princess. They struggled fruitlessly to free themselves. Amacles calmly stood and dusted off his robes, whistling a sweet tune all the while.

"This was fun. Wasn't this fun? This was fun," Amacles said to himself. "I really wish we could do it again, but I have to kill you. For obvious reasons, of course. Any last questions before you die and I take the princess?"

Liz raised her hand, as it was the only thing she could move freely.

"What is it?"

"Your cat is called Winifred VIII, right? What happened to Winifred first through sixth?"

Before Amacles could answer, heavy stomps were heard. A marsh gator stomped by on its six legs. It ignored them entirely. You could barely make it out in the dark, but something thin and furry was dangling from the gator's mouth. Something resembling a cat's tail.

"Oh. So that's what happened," Liz said.
 
Amacles buckled to his knees. He was so rattled that his magic waned and Lee, Liz, and Rita were released from entrapment.

"Winifred... Why must the marsh continue to take you from me?" Amacles cried into the dark skies.

"House cats don't make spectacular pets if you live in a marsh," Rita said. Amacles didn't respond. "Yep. He's done for today. Let's head back."

"Finally..." Lee sighed.

The three left Amacles to wallow by himself.

"Today was a good day," Liz said stretching.

"Saving a princess from a mad swamp king? Again? Yeah, it was great," Lee said.

"Be more sensitive, Lee. It's not Rita's fault that crazies keep kidnapping her."

Lee sighed. He looked toward Rita to apologize, but instead saw the green, burly back of an orc. Over the orc's shoulder was Rita, bound and gagged. A second shorter orc on the back of a black rhino urged his comrade to hurry.

"Lee, those guys are from the kingdom of Ragae! If they take Rita it'll mean-"

"Warsus will be doomed to eternal- Oh my god. Just follow them!"

As the twins chased the orcs, Lee realized how set in stone his destiny was. This was his eternal doom. Albeit  with less darkness.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2014, 09:43:05 PM by Wizardly-K9 »
I'm back, baby!

Offline Ransonwrites

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Submission Thread
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2014, 05:53:47 PM »
Howling Jack
by Michael Ranson
Twitter: @Ransonwrites
1497 words

The police came later that night. Jack sat on the couch, blood still staining his face as he told them what had happened. 'He tried to kick my dog,' Jack began, shrugging.

It was long after dark as Jack walked through the park, his dog's tan-coloured hide almost black in the moonlight. Jack's feet ached inside their tight leather shoes after an agonising rush hour train journey home from the office. Arriving home late he had reached through the door to grab Rufus's lead, pausing long enough to call out to Lucy.

'I'm taking Rufus out!' he said, the mongrel's white-tipped tail wagging excitedly against his legs.
 
'Okay, honey!' his pregnant wife replied from somewhere within.

Now Jack's breath fogged the moonlit air as he stifled a yawn, then smiled when he saw the white tip circling as Rufus investigated something in the darkness ahead. A man stepped out of the bushes: a big man with thick limbs and a hairless dome for a head. Jack saw this head tilt down as the man looked at Rufus, then saw a huge booted foot swing in a vicious kick aimed at the dog's ribs.

'No!' Jack gasped, but the boot missed: Rufus had leapt aside, landing safely a few steps away, his tail still wagging as though it were all a game. Jack didn't think it was a game, and he wasn't tired, any more. Jack was angry.

'What the hell do you think you're doing?' he roared, advancing on the shadowy man. Then something smashed into his face. The world became a blinding riot of pain and colour. He felt hands grasping his collar and then he was flying, his feet lifting clear of the ground, the toes of his shoes bouncing off the grass as he was whirled through the air like a toy. Jack knew he had lost this fight. 'Okay, mate! Okay!' he cried desperately. 'You win!'

The man dropped Jack onto his knees. But it wasn't over yet. The boot that was meant for his dog now connected with Jack's gut, instead and, as he lay helpless, he felt his pockets being emptied. His phone, his wallet, his house keys... then the man got up and left, walking casually away as though nothing were amiss. Then Rufus was there, sniffing at his ear and wagging his tail. 'My hero...' Jack groaned while fresh blood stained his white collar black.

As Jack stopped talking Lucy reached out and touched his arm, her eyes filled with concern. But Jack couldn't look at her: he felt, somehow, that he had failed her. The short blonde policewoman sitting opposite seemed incongruous in their living room, her body made unnaturally bulky by her kevlar vest and equipment pouches. She gave Jack a critical look from beneath her tightly bound yellow hair before making a final note in her little black book. 'And you didn't see his face?' she enquired, her tone almost accusatory.

'No.'

After the police had gone, the phone calls began. Lucy answered the first one and when she turned to him, her face was white. 'It was just heavy breathing,' she said.

'He's got my phone,' Jack muttered. 'And my house keys,' he whispered.

'Oh, god, Jack!' Lucy breathed, unconsciously cradling the bulge of her pregnancy. 'What are we going to do?' Then, when he didn't answer: 'We should call the police again,' she said.

'No.'

'What? Why?'

'Just... let me handle this,' Jack insisted, turning away towards the stairs.

But Lucy's hand stopped him. 'Handle this? How?'

The phone rang again. With a growl, Jack shook off her hand and mounted the stairs two at a time, Rufus hot on his heels until they both reached the door to the spare room.

The spare room was Jack's haven. They sometimes called it the study: it had a desk and a book shelf. They sometimes called it the guest bedroom: there was a small bed, and Jack's old dressing gown hanging on a hook. Sometimes it was the dog's room: Rufus had a basket under the curtained window. But it was none of these things. It was, in fact, a portal to another world. Jack had never told Lucy. And so only Jack and Rufus knew that when Jack closed the door and turned the key in the lock, the world changed. And so did Jack.

The key rattled in Jack's shaking, blood-stained fingers and the peeling paint of the door in front of him melted away, replaced by rough-hewn, unpainted wood. The bed was transformed into a mean little cot with a mattress of straw. The desk became a three-legged stool. The curtains of the window were replaced with wooden shutters through which warm afternoon sunlight streamed across the hard clay floor. Only Rufus's wicker basket, and Rufus, remained the same. But not Jack.

Jack took down a woollen cloak and hood that now hung from the hook, the fibres parting slightly as they stretched across his enormous back. With his face and body concealed, he opened the door and stepped outside, Rufus's cheerful tail following along behind. The street outside had changed, too. No longer the row of inner city terraces in early Winter, it had become a busy medieval town in high Summer. Below a late afternoon sky lopsided houses leaned out over muddy streets lined with market stalls and workshops. These streets were trodden by all manner of folk, from fur-clad barbarians to merchants in fine cloth. Butchers hacked at meaty haunches and fish wives cackled loudly, while farmer's carts trundled by, groaning with fresh produce, fresh horse manure mingling with the mud, underfoot. Jack stepped carefully. He was barefoot now: his tight leather shoes were a mere human memory. He skipped lightly through the traffic, hardly noticed despite his height and bulk while Rufus trotted along behind, both of them moving with the same easy agility.

Jack's swift new feet took him down the street towards the wooden bridge at the edge of town. The town boundary was a shallow river in which children played and washerwomen laboured. Beyond it the road was bordered by dense forest. As Jack crossed he paused and looked down. Up to her knees in the cold water was a familiar female figure. Yellow hair was tied tightly behind her head above a body made unnaturally bulky by the rolled up skirts around her waist. Soap suds floated away as she rubbed the dirt from some merchant's doublet. Noticing his quiet scrutiny she glanced up. Her gaze travelled the length of Jack's body, from his clawed toes to his hooded head, and her eyes narrowed with unspoken accusation. Then she spat loudly and returned to her work.

Children frolicked in the water nearby, tossing a pig's bladder ball. Jack jerked his chin towards them. 'Go and play,' he said. As if in perfect understanding Rufus bounded away, leaping into the middle of the game to the children's squealing delight. He would be safe with them until morning, Jack thought. And just as well, for Jack had dark business with the coming night.

With nightfall the town grew quiet. Torchlight flickered from sconces along the bridge. It was patrolled by an elderly night watchman, swinging his lamp. Mugger watched him from the bushes beside the forest road. He stifled a yawn, then heard a sound that made him smile: the sound of footsteps drawing near. By their soft, fast tread he guessed they belonged to a small man in a hurry: a lonely traveller in need of a tavern, and Mugger's first customer of the evening! As the footsteps drew level with his hiding place, he pounced!

Away on the bridge the night watchman heard the man's scream. But what frightened him was the animal roar that followed it. It froze him like a statue as his weak bladder emptied itself into his trousers, and his shaking fingers loosened their grip on his lamp. The crash of it hitting the wooden deck heralded his own scream as he turned and, with the vigour of his forgotten youth, ran back into the town, crying one word over and over again. 'Werewolf!'

Jack got home late again the next night and, again, he opened the door only long enough to grab Rufus's lead and call out to Lucy. But she was there, waiting for him. 'You're going out?' she asked.

'Yes,' he replied, casually.

'But... aren't you... worried? At all?'

'No. Why should I be?'

'Well, the man... the man who mugged you. He might still be about.'

'Oh, I don't think so,' Jack said, confidently. 'Don't worry, Lucy. I think we've seen the last of him.'

In the quiet of a nearby police car the radio buzzed to life, its report interrupted by static. 'Sierra four-five this is Mike Whiskey, over. Shhhkkkkkk. Fatal stabbing in Whitworth Park. Victim white male, late thirties. Krrrrrrkkkkk. Multiple face and neck injuries. Probable I.D. Antony Creacher, also known as Mugger. Grrrrrrrkkk.'
Urgo: I wanna live! I wanna experience the universe! And I wanna eat pie!

Jack O'Neill: Who doesn't?

Offline negratti

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Submission Thread
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2014, 01:54:16 PM »
Ludwig Braun's brief time in Hell
Word Count: 1398
(Warning of strongly violent imagery and language ahead)
Spoiler for Hiden:
As it was the case with the majority of his cult-mates, Ludwig Braun had suffered all through his life from a massive nihilistic depression, and had been on the verge of suicide on several occasions. Since he was young, he never excelled at anything. He was a lousy athlete, useless in fights, inept at school, awkward with women and when he grew older he squandered the family fortune by investing in a bengali restaurant which went broke almost instantly. Later, when his parents finally kicked him out of their house, he was rejected in every job he ever applied. In every single one of them, until his high school friend Figasius introduced him to a whole new world.
It's no secret among citizens of New York and D&D enthusiasts everywhere that in order to join the satanic cult dedicated to the infamous Prince of Hell, one must sign -in blood, of course- a dark and deeply perverse contract, which threatens to transform the signer's life into a carnival of hedonism and unparalleled depravity.
This unholy agreement, filed in the cult's underground library, stipulates, between a sea of diabolical clauses and statutes, that the damned shall be honored with the possibility of being chosen for sacrifice in the name of Satan at any point and completely at random. At the beginning of each day, a group of infernal bureaucrats roll a number of twenty-sided dice and with those rolls they select the cult members who are to die that same night when the twelfth bell sounds and Lyzolda, the magister maleficarum, calls them to the altar. Randomness, it is said, is a demon's favorite weapon.
Thanks to this process, each member ensures itself to live every hour of every day as if it was the last, because it very well might. And due to the type of personalities who are drawn into this pact, the followers of Satan spend their time starring in absurd slaughters, multitudinary and illegal orgies, cannibal feasts, consuming all sorts of narcotic substances and, in general, taking part in everything involving destruction, torture and chaos. The cult is utterly despised and condemned by society and it's laws, but due to how little the cultists care about everything, they are absolutely invulnerable to live capture -much less interrogation- and police efforts to stop the forces of hell have proven futile.
Once initiated in the Cult, Ludwig's life did not become happier than before. Yes, he was an active participant in the great satanic bacchanalia -frequently followed by the great satanic slaughters-, assisted in the summoning of countless demons to the mortal realm and was responsible for a number of arsons in the city. Nevertheless, he was still a sad and miserable being. For some reason, innocent blood did not satiate his thirst for existential purpose, and neither demonphilia nor church burnings were enough to distract him from the void in his life. Everything was still meaningless.
Certain day, a troubled Ludwig decided to put an end to his suffering once and for all. Lacking the courage to cast himself from the top of a building or take a stroll through the Bronx at night, he hatched a suicidal plan during a rainy afternoon, previous to the equinox bacchanal.
Gathering every bit of courage he could muster, he infiltrated into the official library, by walking through the front gates. Until that point he was feeling calm, but soon his innate nervousness emerged to the surface. He first accidentally waved hello to the guard with the hand in which he carried his knife and then he tripped and fell through the stairs that led to the basement, ruining the stealthy job he had imagined. Knowing he had little time, he made haste through the dusty shelves filled with accounting volumes bound in human skin until he jumped over the demon charged with writing the names of the chosen ones and slit his throat.  Then, he wrote himself on the list of sacrifices. Ludwig smiled, for the first time in his all of his cursed life.
Knowing he was going to die, he participated in that night's feast with renewed vigor and wildness. He was no longer the wimp all the other kids beat in the playground. The callow teenager girls rejected constantly didn't exist anymore, and neither did the man who failed in every enterprise he attempted. He felt like a World Champion, and his forty four years could barely be noticed among the few hairs still in his head.
A few hours before midnight, in the middle of the saturnalia and as he licked lysergic acid from the chest of a cross-dressing zombie, Ludwig met eyes with those of a young woman of overwhelming beauty, who was drinking blood from the skull of a goat on the other side of the hall. Of course, he fell in love immediately and ran towards her. He rushed through the tides of naked bodies coiled like snakes, dodging deadly traps, rings of fire and his friend Figasius who was making out with some kind of two-headed demon. In the end, he reached the vaporous sight who was his savior.
The girl was the most beautiful one he had ever seen in his life and she was smart and mysterious, an authentic vampire cloaked in a veil of eroticism and leather. Ludwig didn't leave her side all through the evening, and didn't hesitate to lash out every bit of charm and every last coin he had in the ordeal of seducing her. Love coursed through his veins, right next to a dozen different kinds of other psychedelic drugs.
Happily, the lady yielded. They locked themselves in Satan's private wine cellar and right there, among kegs of cheap wine and under the sight of a thousand rats they clumsily loved each other. In the midst of the venereal feast, the first of the twelve bells of midnight made Ludwig realize he would never see his love again, because he was set to die that same night. He was scared. For the first time in his life he wanted to live. "Wait for me upstairs" he said to her "I’ll be right back". She sweetly looked at him and smiled.
He left without even dressing up and at full speed he got the street, right in time to intercept the already recovered demon bureaucrat who carried the list of sacrifices. Without giving explanations, Ludwig smashed his skull with his bare fists and stole the parchment away from him. Using the demon's pen he violently stroke out his name and wrote "Figasius" right next to it.
Once in the altar of sacrifice, the witch Lyzolda, the executioner, didn't even flinch when she received a list filled with strokes from the hand of a bald, naked and blood-soaked middle aged stranger, because it wasn't the first time that happened. Ludwig stepped aside as the witch summoned the victims for the night.
One by one she read the names and, as they were called, the damned joyfully walked to the stage. Figasius, red faced, limping and covered in sweat was the first to come up. The crowd roared and cheered, everyone hoping to be the next one. Ludwig almost felt sorry for them. None would ever know love. None would know the joy of living.
He wandered around, looking for his lover. She ought to be there somewhere, among the fire and the chaos. Ludwig didn't take long to spot her, and she walking towards him. His heart beat faster and faster as she approached, but it stopped for a second when she passed next to him and moved on without even looking at him. He understood that she was heading to die at the altar. He grabbed her arm to stopped her.
"No, please don't. I love you."
She looked at him, but said nothing.
"Run away with me, let's flee this sect of freaks. We'll get married. We'll be together forever. Loving each other forever!”
Lyzolda repeated her invocation. The crowd screamed like mad. Tears poured from Ludwig's eyes.
"Please..."
Suddenly, the girl's heart softened and she kissed him in the cheek. Then, she kicked him in the crotch
When Ludwig took hold of himself again, it was too late. As the witch's blade coursed through the neck of the love of his life, Ludwig realized he never knew her name.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 02:04:49 PM by negratti »

Offline RareCameo

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Submission Thread
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2014, 06:43:48 PM »
Well, here we go. Hope you stick with it to the end! :D

Twitter: @CCBerendsen

Word count: 1491

Long Live the Prince

PART 1

So far as atmosphere for murdering a crown prince went, a full moon shining down on placid Lake Loringale and the castle overlooking it was pretty much as good as it got. Max Longfellow checked his teeth in the shiny flat of his dagger, tucked it away, and waited. He wasn't a huge fan of loitering in an armoire, but he couldn't risk someone tracing a poison back to him. Anyway, he’d made a name for himself slicing throats.

A lesser assassin would have felt a pang of guilt upon sighting the trusted advisor who hired him chatting easily with the prince while they sipped wine and relaxed in the tall armchairs before the fire, but not Max Longfellow. He was of the sturdy stock from frozen Dorill and had been trained by the renowned Wanderer Jason Priest. He had earned respect in Onjun in the Hotsands. He had killed marchriders from the Feahram. Three of them. A little Amarian prince would be nothing.

He supposed it would be a bit of a loss for the country, from what he understood of the politics. Prince Adelbrand wasn't technically the crown prince—that wouldn’t be decided for a few more years—but the general consensus was that he would make the best king out of the six princes. He had made a name for himself negotiating a peace with the Feahram, and he had the sort of profile that would look really good on a coin.

Never mind. In, out, done. No need to think too hard about it.

The room was spacious but sparsely furnished. A few open windows looked out on the lake and let in a light summer breeze. Aside from the armchairs before the fire, there was the armoire Max was waiting in, another beside it, and a table with a vase of flowers. The prince's bed, stacked with rich coverings and pillows, stood as far from the door to the receiving room as possible. This was the last room in his apartment, his most private sanctuary.

Max couldn't imagine a better place to kill.

PART 2

Tim Hadley of Port Washington, New York had no use for books. His teachers were always harping on about literature (especially The Great Gatsby. Port Washingtonians get disgusting about their town being the inspiration for East Egg) and the importance of it "in our daily lives." It was almost enough to make him puke.

But summer vacation was coming up, and that meant endless hours of gaming between trips to the kitchen for snacks. All his friends were playing Sixth Prince, which was the latest installment of the Age of Arms series from COMPL8TION STUDIOS.

That's how it was written. All-caps. "8" in the middle. He had no idea why (or how it was supposed to be pronounced, for that matter), but Tim chalked it up to its being a foreign firm.

It didn't matter. Warm June sunshine and sandy beaches couldn't compete with the world created by the studio. The lands were vast, the wars unending, the races always at odds with each other, and new details about the titular sixth prince, Aiven, were being released daily. It was starting to look bleak for the would-be king, especially with his older brother, Adelbrand, getting closer to the throne.

Tim didn't care much about the politics. Sure, the NPCs sometimes talked about what was happening way up north in the capital of Amaria, but usually only until he pulled out his sword and demanded all their coin.

He played as Victor Danaeth, a member of the mysterious Vindaran race who went about wreaking havoc along the border between Amaria and Jovan. Tim didn't know much about the people, but he liked the way their white hair looked against the umber colored skin and the fact that they were the best archers. He was getting good enough that he was pretty sure he could take on the outlaw Max Longfellow. Finding him was the hard part.

Tim's mother would sometimes suggest that he go outside, and then he would suggest that she leave him alone with a "God, Mom, stop telling me what to do! I'm sixteen!" and she would scurry away to tearfully confront her husband about the wayward path their little angel was taking. She was convinced his anger stemmed from the video games, and certainly not the fact that he struggled in school, or that his high school was a cesspit of drugs and money, or that his parents' marriage had been on shaky ground for a few years now, and neither of them had really tried to hide it from him.

PART 3

Max waited for the prince to fall asleep before creeping out of the armoire to his side. In, out, done. No problem. He raised the dagger.

The prince's arm shot out and grabbed his wrist with a stronger grip than expected. "Did you think it was going to be that easy?" he murmured, his eyes still closed.

Max didn't say anything.

The prince's eyes flew open. "Max Longfellow."

"At your service."

"Somehow I doubt that."

"Understandable."

They stared at each other for a moment, and then the prince leapt out at him. Tumbling to the wooden floor under the weight of the prince, Max considered briefly if he hadn't made a misstep in his career.

"Aren't you going to call your guards?" he hissed and pushed him off.

"I'd rather take care of this myself."

But Max knew the prince was wondering who he could trust. If an assassin could get this far into the private rooms in the castle, the ranks of loyal servants must have thinned.

Adelbrand grabbed a wine goblet and swung at Max's head. Max ducked, swiping out with the dagger and missing the prince by a hair.

PART 4

It was almost four in the morning and everything was quiet and dark in the Hadley house, except for Tim's room. An undulating blue glow seeped through the crack beneath his door. Victor Danaeth was energetically cutting through a gang of Vindarans unhappy with his pillaging. Tim Hadley was staring at his monitor with ferocious intensity, brows drawn together to straining, tapping at his keyboard—faster, faster, never fast enough.

PART 5

Adelbrand brought the vase of flowers down on Max's head, soaking him with cold water and decorating him with red tulips.

"You're awfully persistent," Max said. "It's an admirable quality."

"One does what one must." And he jumped on the assassin again, driving his fist against his jaw.

Max gripped his dagger tightly and went to thrust it into the prince's neck. With desperate force, the prince slammed his hand against the floor and pried the dagger away, digging his fingernails into Max's skin. His own blade turned on him, Max grabbed the prince's wrist, wrestling to turn the tip of the dagger away. It came closer and closer, he could feel the tip scratching the stubble on his neck. He could see the prince's flinty eyes, his face hollowed out by the shadows.

PART 6

A bright, white glow engulfed Tim's monitor. He leaned forward, touched it, and found his hand going through. The air on the other side was cool. Faintly, he heard someone ask, "Ready to die?"

Tim frowned. "What the—?"

PART 7

It isn't over, Max said to himself. It never was before. His arms straining, he pushed to force the prince away. The tip of the blade pressed against his throat, broke his skin. A droplet of blood rolled down right under his jaw into his hair.

"Ready to die?" the prince hissed.

His blood surged. A new wave of strength flooded him.  "You will not kill me," Max declared. "I will not die."

A white flash burst above the prince. A body fell through the air, hit the prince hard, and Max's eyes rolled back as the dagger sank through his skin into his neck. Blood bubbled in his throat, dribbled out on to the wooden floor. He drew a gurgling breath as the prince stood up, and then he died.

PART 8

At COMPL8TION STUDIOS, Danny Cheng and Ezra Mollins worked in a very particular room that could only be accessed through a retina scan, a fingerprint scan, and voice recognition.

"Another one bites the dust," Danny said, as if it was funny. He rolled across the room and flicked a few switches. On the huge central monitor, Prince Adelbrand and Tim Hadley stood over Max Longfellow's body.

"I feel like we could have settled that some other way," Ezra mused.

Danny shrugged. "You know Max would have gotten him otherwise."

"I know, but…what about the kid's parents?"

"Man, why do you always have to ask me that? I don't know. He's missing now." He shrugged again and looked at the enormous monitor, where Tim was on his knees now, his jaw slack. "Whatever happens, Adelbrand has to live."
« Last Edit: May 31, 2014, 10:54:02 PM by RareCameo »
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