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Author Topic: [Nov 2019] - Arch Enemies - Submission Thread  (Read 1065 times)

Offline xiagan

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[Nov 2019] - Arch Enemies - Submission Thread
« on: November 01, 2019, 10:09:26 PM »
Arch Enemies



Bush Warriors by LockedBox

Only a few weeks until Christmas, the celebration of love and family, is upon us. So this is a good time to write about two people who absolutely hate each other. We're not talking rivals, we want arch enemies. She's his nemesis and he is hers. No sacrifice is too great to bring him/her down and it doesn't matter if the whole world burns.

This month we want you to write about an irresolvable conflict. You decide the scale. Could be generals with their armies, could be Suzie from next door (who is of course a witch in training because this is a fantasy forum ;)).


Rules:

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

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

Entry will close November 30th/December 1st, 2019 and voting will begin somewhere around the same time too.

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

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

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

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Re: [Nov 2019] - Arch Enemies - Submission Thread
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2019, 01:22:45 AM »
Perceval
501 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
In a remote forest of Wales, grew a lad named Perceval.  Perceval dreamed of joining the Knights of the Round Table.  The day arrived when Perceval journeyed to the king's castle.

Perceval was confronted by a knight named Sir Kay.  Kay asked, "Do you seek to serve Arthur, or Lancelot?"
Perceval replied, "I shall serve Arthur, as he cares for the commoners."

Kay sneered.  "You are still a toddler.  Only Lancelot's might will reap the land for riches.  Arthur grows weak.
Before the year ends, Lancelot shall banish Arthur.  Begone, before a Lancelot follower injures you."

A disappointed Perceval retreated to a lake.  Upon the lake came a canoe, steered by a man with frail legs.
The man introduced himself as the Fisher King.  The Fisher King lamented that his fish were stolen by poachers.  Perceval pitied the frail fisher, and resolved to pray for him.

Perceval departed to a different lake, where he sought spiritual guidance.  A manicured lady arose from the lake.  "The Lady of the Lake shall help you defend the Fisher King.  I grant you Excalibur, the sword of the just."

The shining sword Excalibur led Perceval to the poacher that menaced the fisher.  The poacher turned out to be Sir Kay.  Perceval challenged Kay to abandon poaching, but Kay would not heed a rookie.  Perceval and Kay dueled.  Excalibur defeated Kay.

Perceval brought proof of victory to the Fisher King.  In his gratitude, the Fisher gifted a silver platter.
"Take this to one you admire."

Perceval was puzzled at the utility of a single dish, but he bid farewell to the Fisher King.  Since Kay no longer thwarted Perceval, he returned to the king's castle.  A divine radiance followed him, which was detected by the lord of the castle.

Arthur declared, "This is the Holy Grail.  The innocence that Jesus held at the Last Supper.  The supper at which Jesus beheld his betrayed, as well as his denier.  The Grail was his forbearance of the evil around him, even as he lost his woman, Mary."

I discovered Lancelot in my search for a man that was pure of heart.  Alas, it was his son, Galahad, that bore the heart.  Lancelot was the greatest warrior, but he coveted the Queen, Guinevere.  I have eaten my final supper with my woman.

Among the Knights of the Round Table, there were others that coveted.  Camelot was usurped by greed and ambition.  Knights became brigands.  My father, Uther's kingdom also unraveled due to covet.

We shall sow a new land, structured with law and merit.  It can invigorate the fields, and bring prosperity.
With the Grail's blessing, I can subdue the traitor Lancelot, who stole my wife."

Perceval returned Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake.  The Lady assured Perceval that the lakes would be defended from poachers -- if not by him, then by another.

Perceval joined the Knights of the Round Table.  He was assigned to the jurisdiction of Wales.  However, this was only the beginning, as many adventures lay ahead of Perceval.

Online Alex Hormann

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Re: [Nov 2019] - Arch Enemies - Submission Thread
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2019, 04:14:32 PM »
 Balance
1418 words

Spoiler for Hiden:

There must be balance.
For every day, there must be a night.
For every land, there must be a sea.
For every Good, there must be an Evil.
This in all things is true. Without balance, there is nothing.
Kallet Thuhar has spent his entire life believing in these simple principles. For thirty seasons he has been a sword for Good, sworn to the service of the divine Aha Lek. For thirty seasons he has driven back the forces of the unholy Zurad Uan. For thirty more he has been in retreat. Balance, in all things. Or else all is chaos.
All was chaos once before. In the primordial times before the Twins created the cosmos, the land the sea and the firmament. A thousand generations have passed since that time before time. Aha Lek and Zurad Uan wresting for control of their creation. For every victory, there is a loss. For every advance, a retreat. Neither can ever win, but while the other exists they both must fight. It is the only purpose they have ever known.
Kallet knows he is but a pawn in the larger game, waiting for the cry of Shah Mat that will never come. There will be no ending, for if he loses, then he will die and be replaced. If by chance or fate he should win, then another will take the place of his foes. For so long as either lives, a foe will rise to take their place. It is the way of things. They way they have always been. The way they always must be. This he believes with all his mortal heart.
His foe this day is Hathuz Tellik, the Spear of Zurad Uan. The dark to Kallet’s light. The wrong to his right. If he is day, then Hathuz is night. They have fought before. Many times. On battlefields and in circles and in dreams. Each time, the killing blow is never struck. One must limp away, lest another more fearsome take their place. It is a game, of sorts, one they have developed over the long seasons of war. How best to beat a foe you are afraid to kill? To humiliate them, both have concluded. To break their spirit yet leave the body intact. Perhaps it is cruel. Maybe it is wrong. Certainly it is the way things must be.
But this day will not be as the others. For all their battles and glories, in spite of and because of the long stories of war they tell, both en arrive at the circle broken. Aged and wrecked by more than time. By losses suffered and tears shed, by grief and sorrow and the passage of lives unlived. This day will be their last encounter. Both know this. Both are two weak to make the journey to another. This day, one must die, and another should take their place in the great game.
A tragedy. Yet this is the way it must be.
“You fall here,” says Hathuz, pointing his spear at the dirt. It is soft underfoot, spreading under bare toes. Easy to dig a grave in dirt like this.
“Not this day,” says Kallet. His sword hangs by his side, gripped by a worn fist. Cracked knuckles and broken skin. “I have two fights left,” he boasts.
Hathuz smiles. “Then I will make my successor’s job a little easier.” He pulls the spear into a fighting stance and nods.
“So be it.” Kallet raises his sword high above his head and advances.
There is no audience for this final fight. No spectators. No crowds to cheer their names. Not even a priest to officiate the killing in their God’s name. There has not been for three seasons now. Both men are trusted to understand the importance of their task. They are old hands at this, in the most literal sense of the phrase. It is known that they will perform their duties to the last. For this final fight there is no ceremony. There is only earned and deserved privacy. Two men in the middle of the desert, soon to become one.
The spear nicks his thigh, drawing bright blood. Spilling it like wine upon the sand. He drops, gasping, to his knee. Only the sword flashing in his defence stops a second thrust from putting an end to him. Pushing through the pain, knowing such things are not as temporary as once they were, Kallet stands, driving forwards and slashing across Hathuz’s chest. Now he bleeds. Balance is restored.
It feels as though they fight for hours, but the slow passage of the overhead sun reveals this for a lie. It is minutes. Only mere minutes separating the living from the dead. The Good from the Evil. The balance is delicate, and they walk a fragile bridge.
Kallet continues his assault. Left then right then left again, his sword is forever moving. To stop is to die. The unrelenting fury of it all strains his muscles past the point of breaking. He is committed. No turning back now.
Hathuz stumbles back, his spear useless at this range. Blood drips from a dozen lacerations until he looks like a man who has fallen off a mountain. Slick with crimson, his hand trembling, the spear falls from his grip. He drops to his knees, tears in his eyes and hands raised to the sky like man in prayer. Perhaps he is praying. He does not speak, but his read eyes send message enough. One more time, they plead. Let us dance this dance one last time. Let me live as you always have before. And I you.
Kallet sighs. “I cannot,” he says, and with a single swing of his sword he brings to an end thirty seasons of conflict. A rivalry so intense it approached friendship, now over.
The sword droops like a flower wilting in the summer heat. It is done, he realises. This was not to be his last fight, but he knows it is the last he can win. Zurad Uan will choose a new champion. A spear or sword or bow to take up Hathuz’s mantle and lead the forces of Evil. Kallet, old man that he is, knows he cannot face a young champion. His life is ended as surely as his rivals. Perhaps it would have been better to lose, he thinks bleakly. To die by the hand of one he could respect. Not some whelp from more recent seasons.
He wishes, so desperately wishes that there is something he could do to put an end to it all. An end to the violence, so that heroes need no longer kill each other in the name of their God’s unknowable game. But there is not. There must be balance. Good has triumphed this day, and so Evil must again rise to face him.
Must? Must it? Is there no way to break this cycle?
Kallet’s eyes find his sword. Perhaps there is something he can do. One more life he can take to end this eternal petty conflict. If there were no good in the world, would Evil still rise? Would the Gods still dance and gamble and wage their ways of war? Perhaps they would. But if he cannot win another fight, if he is to die anyway, surely it is better that he seeks a new path.
He kneels on the dirt, in the pool made by Hathuz’s blood and his own. Lies the pommel of his sword against the earth between his knees and places the tip against his throat. Without Good, he wonders, without Evil, what will there be? Not a world he could find a place in. But a better world? It cannot be a worse one.
He forces his head down, the metal piercing his neck until he begins to choke on the blade. Evil has been vanquished this day. Sent back into the primordial void. It is better, he decided in his last moments, that Good follow. If their is to be a fight, let it be there. Away from the things he loves. Let Good and Evil find their way into darkness, until both are as myth. Lost. Forgotten. Dead.
He slides down the blade, curling like a child in the womb as he returns to the unknown from which all life springs. His eyes meet those of Hathuz as they glaze over. Tow corpses in the desert, with no sign of a victor.
There must be balance.

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Offline JMack

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Re: [Nov 2019] - Arch Enemies - Submission Thread
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2019, 01:58:14 AM »
Finally, after my first extended absence from this contest, here is

FIELD OF HONOR
clocking in at exactly 1,500 words.

 
Spoiler for Hiden:
The pre-dawn air turned to frost as it touched the deeper cold of Peter Manlove’s heart. Peter’s son, Albert, his second for the morning’s bleak business, misidentified the source of the chill and turned up his collar against the modest breeze.

At a jerk of his father’s chin, Albert drew a night-black box from the bag at their feet. He lifted the lid, revealing an even blacker weapon, nestled in red velvet. An awful thing, and the duels it fought more awful still. Albert couldn’t remember when he’d last seen his father with a gun. The Robertson’s estate? When Albert was a boy. The guns booming, and the bloodied pheasants drifting down like autumn leaves. Mother had been with them then. She’d held young Albert as he’d wept and known he was no man.

The bone grip of the dueler warmed like a live thing in Albert’s palm. He passed it to his father quickly. Next to the dueling pistol’s now-empty recess rested a smaller, single-shot device for extremely close range, the Coward’s Remedy. The thought of it made Albert ill. He wanted all this over. “You could -“ he began.

Peter Manlove snorted, raising the gun and sighting across the barrel. “Apologize? Turn womanly? Martin Anklesmith is a coward, a thief, and a murderer. It’s no insult to name a man for what he is.” He drew the Bullet from its blood-red velvet pouch, and stared into its depths. Black on black on black. “Thirty years,” he whispered. “It ends now.” He told the Bullet all his hate.

Across the twilit meadow, pregnant now with subtle golds and green, Martin Anklesmith took a twin of the dueler from his own son’s firm grip.

“I’m proud of you, Father,” said Andre. Martin wished he believed him. His son’s disdain was a long-established thing. “Calling that dog out was an act of true honor.” An act of true idiocy, thought Martin. It was Andre who’d talked him into it. Well, no, he’d talked himself into it. But the insult! The accusation! Of course he’d had to act. He’d not have been able to show himself to his friends, after Manlove had so publicly slandered him. But no, it wasn’t about his friends. It was about her. How could he ever speak to her again, ever visit her grave, ever walk with her in memory unless he took this final step.

Andre straightened his collar. So tall. Strong. Any father would be proud. Mariah’s beauty looked out from their son’s features, though none of her tenderness. Martin knew where the poison came from. Hate blackens everything. And, oh, how he’d nursed his hate. Giving it up had been the only gift he’d ever held back from his wife.

Martin took the Bullet from Andre and held it up between thumb and forefinger. Mariah’s image filled the vacant dark of his vision: the night she left that fiend Manlove and pounded on his door, bleeding, bruised. Martin had gone for his hunting rifle, intent on murder. She’d held him back with a word. She would never have wanted... this. He sagged.

“No!” Andre hissed, gripping his father’s shoulders. “No, you don’t. I wrote very the challenge for you. I delivered it. I sought out the dueling guns.” His breath stank of wine. How early had he started? “I brought you here. I even drove the carriage. All you have to do is squeeze the trigger!”

A sudden, panicky humor took Martin. “Maybe you should, Andre. You have enough anger for us both.”

Andre’s slap caught Martin with a burst of pain. He raised the gun between them, heart pounding. It shook at the end of his hand, an inch from Andre’s face. Sllowly, he noticed the barrel of the Coward’s Remedy staring unwaveringly into his own eye.

Andre smiled. Lowering his own weapon, he pushed his father’s aside and stepped in close. “Across this field is a man you’ve hated all your life. He’s beaten you at everything, except the one thing that mattered. So what did he do? He paid off mother’s doctor -“ Martin paled. “What? Didn’t you suspect?”

“No, that’s not -“

“Not possible? Not possible that Peter Manlove killed my mother? Not possible that you were so stupid that you didn’t notice the doctor switch her medicine?” Martin stared horror-struck. “And then that monster accused you of letting her die! Wanting her inheritance for yourself, since God knows you’ve made a disaster of every business you tried.”

“No,” Martin protested, his heart wrenched with grief and shame.

“Finish it.” Andre forced Martin’s fingers around the cold, heavy ball of the Bullet. “Tell it everything. Give it so much hate it can’t miss.”

They met at the center of the field, a gathered darkness, though the dawn at last set all the colors glowing. The half-brothers greeted each other stiffly, sons of the same mother, but as different as their fathers.

Manlove towered over Anklesmith, pressing close so Martin had to crane his head to meet his eyes. Martin had always believed that the source of the man’s hatred, more than Mariah’s actual rejection, was that he lost her to a man who was modest in every way.

“Nothing to say?” snarled Manlove. He curled his lip in an expression so planned that Martin nearly laughed. Relief flooded him. The bastard wanted a confrontation, wanted an excuse to talk, brag. Martin stepped back. He raised his Bullet and let its power speak for him. Manlove went to show his, but Martin turned his back on him and walked to his spot five yards away.

“Coward!” Manlove threw after him. “Did you see that?” he said to Albert. “Wouldn’t even face me.” Albert thought the man showed bravery, but he kept his opinion to himself. His father took a moment to bask in the pleasure of cowing his enemy, then sauntered to his place.

The brothers watched the two men prepare their pistols. Each placed his Bullet into the chamber and snapped the gun closed.

“You know what to do?” Andre said to Albert.

“Yes.” Andre was nearly as tall Albert’s his own father.And beautiful. “But there should be a better way than this.”

“Not after what they did to our mother.” Andre patted his shoulder. “Now go, take your place.”

Albert stood three paces behind his father, as Andre stood behind his. Each slid a fat but unmagik’d lead ball into the maw of his Coward’s Remedy, standing ready to take his own father’s life if he shied away from the duel’s conclusion.

A deceptive silence fell, then was broken by Andre’s harsh voice. “Honor demands that we allow you the opportunity of apology.”

“Get on with it, boy!” answered Manlove. “You are the son of a coward, and you’ll always be known for it.” From the distance of over thirty feet, Albert saw his half-brother’s face redden. Yes. It was easy to hate Peter Manlove after just a few minutes acquaintance. Imagine a lifetime.

There were more words. Rituals of accusation and dispute, then an incantation to activate the Bullets. The weird syllables had taken much work to memorize. There was something ridiculous about it all, if it hadn’t been so deadly. Albert was almost shocked when the two enemies’ arms rose and the guns thundered. He raised his own gun and focused on his father’s head while the Bullets swerved to an unerring embrace.

The Bullets met with a sharp crack, then hung in the air, unmoving. At first, nothing happened. Then black light flared from Peter Manlove’s Bullet, tendrils of energy reaching around to absorb the other ball. Manlove crowed. Albert couldn’t help feeling relief.

Golden light broke through the black shell, the hateful tendrils retreating. Martin’s Bullet forced its opposite the barest inch toward where Manlove cheered it on. Then another inch, and another.

Love, thought Martin Anklesmith. He’d whispered love to his Bullet. Mariah’s love. So much more powerful than hate. Love pushed Peter’s Bullet back and back. The man was screaming in fear now. Just a few more feet. Martin wished he wanted the bullet to stop, to spare the man, but he didn’t.

Manlove broke and ran. And as he did, Albert shot his father in the back, the Remedy blowing a whole through the man’s heart.

It was over. At last. Martin felt -

He never heard the blast of Andre’s weapon. He was dead before his body crumpled to the ground.

The brothers met between the bodies sprawled in the fallen leaves.

“I wasn’t sure you’d actually do it,” Andre said.

Albert shook, his teeth rattling. “One of us,” he started, breathed, then started again. “One of us had to do murder.”

“And you’re glad it wasn’t you? I’m no more a murderer than you. You shot a coward, and so did I. Mother would be proud.” Andre stretched out his hand. Albert took it, since he didn’t know how to refuse.

So that they wouldn’t hate themselves, they started to hate each other.
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Offline bdcharles

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Re: [Nov 2019] - Arch Enemies - Submission Thread
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2019, 05:49:35 PM »


Spoiler for "Fuh, 1011 words":


Fuh

You have a new a new adversary.

Forget everything you knew about your previous conquests. Those primal triumphs on the banks of the Speere that saw you crippled and muddy to your waist, swinging Lesion in violent arcs until the floodplains choked in gore, are nothing but a child’s tale. Your campaigns in Vishgilly, the ones the minstrels sing about from the Barror Royal Courts to the low taverns in Seamsisters to the homeliest school-rooms in the gentlest villages nestled here among the peaceful Astion hills – why, they are naught but storybook fancy, nothing more. I say again: you have a new adversary.

Stringing your bow and nocking arrows will not help you. Run a caster’s mitt down Lesion’s singing edge while speaking sharpening-runes if it pleaseth you, and know that I say this not to discredit your blade, for it is a fine artefact with a rare equal, but prepare for the fact that it will serve you nothing. Fill your potion jars with sympost, and essence of hinglenic, and feats-of-stamina – and give them all away to mothers and nannies. Better yet, smash them on the cobbles of your home town.

Find yourself an archmage, my friend. Find yourself an archmage and warn them, tell them to run, to take up a trite profession such as would be ignored by this new threat. Tell them to study counting, or law, or an artisan’s pastime, for they no longer have a skill that can save you, or them, or anybody else for that matter.

Learn this one word. The word is: humility.

Look for salvation in the tracks of migratory birds. Note their movements, record the days of their parting. Observe the croak of the giant bullfrog that makes its fortified den in the razor reeds that line the Brotteviers. Overcome your fear of the mile-high waves that pound cliffs that are higher yet. You must travel to all these places and learn myriad natural languages – if you are to stand a chance. Take Lesion – please! The presence of this adversary does not discount the existence of all the others! Take Lesion – and surrender your beloved blade to the sea.

And if you should find yourself alone in a yellow screponshii field, then steal a moment to smell the flowers.

You, who have battled Compoor Wyverns (and ridden a few, I daresay!), you who has lain with Dimina – all the markers point to you as the one who will face what rises over the horizon.

You will know our archenemy not by sight but by moment. The cold shivers of a forgotten day. The depthless nights when sleep places you on your back, to stare upwards at a vaulted worshipful ceiling or the rafters of a hayshed, the cold sky or whatever you can barter. You will know palaces and sewers. You will be revered as a duke, spat upon as a vile thief, ignored by those you once called friends. It is nothing.

Stride up! Place a booted heel upon the mountainside! Echo your call down this mighty valley; children and kin shall look up as you holler it, and wonder for a moment if a torrent doth race down upon them, because well it may. You will not stop for it. Cut green space through the fiercest orc armies. Hack the stone of Trollbridge with Lesion’s severest side until it all crumbles. Pummel Thodon’s cities in siege and anger if you want. But do not take your mind from your goal, and your new enemy.

Sit astride a cockatrice – tame it! Roar into the wind from the moment your mount takes flight to the last leathery talon-scuttle on hard spans of Huttager rock. And when you lose yourself to drink in Spottisheds’ (as I know you will), I beg you, use that stupor to shave away the filings of fear, even if only for a night. Above all those things, fear will not assist your travails.

You will be swept from a rock and drowned in the Gascring Ocean. They will drag your body thence and hang it out to dry like granny-blooms. Crabs and lobsters will take your eyes. A colony of eels will be eviscerated from your gut. Purple Mages will reanimate you. Crowds will line every boulevard from here to Immanty and they will shout, do it again!, do it again!

You will do it again. The Baroness of Abbron will hang you for it. You will see many Purple Mages several times after that. At your request, they’ll brick you up under a mountain somewhere. But that mountain will crumble. Your cell’s indestructible griffin-iron will be your undoing. Or rather, it won’t be. Because before it all will loom once more the shadow of this latest foe.

Maybe you could run. You might think about madness. All the foulest curses from the grossest fingertips of the most demonic hex-spinners may be shot at your head. Let them. Let those two-bit wizards babble alchemical nothings into your face – it can’t hurt and it certainly won’t help.

Scream at grimoires. Shake a fist – both fists – at an indifferent sky. Hurl seers and soothsayers from the topmost window of the tallest tower you can scout out. Spurn suitors. Deny princes and princesses what they want. Make outrageous demands of cruel elf-rulers. It makes no difference. Nothing will stop the adversary.

So, enter legend. Be immortalised thus:

Fuh stood on a wounded field. Acres of enemy lay dead. Lines of fleeing archers left but the barest timbers, signs of emplacement and tins of beans, which fell to a single twist of an opening-knive. How had each swing caused such devastation? Fuh should be excited by this new power but instead all there was, was the stormcloud dread of an onrushing future.

Later, camp. A note. A single crepuscular sound, then another in the evening, threading its melody through the canopy. It was beautiful and sad, all the more so for being a sign that the Purple Mages had spoke of. End soon, it sung; end soon, end soon.







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