March 30, 2020, 08:21:50 PM

Poll

Who is your favourite this month?

Malik A. Millender (In the End)
0 (0%)
Arry (Rats)
1 (11.1%)
Lor (the Test)
0 (0%)
AlmightZael (Primal Desire)
1 (11.1%)
C.Hill (Greed's Deception)
2 (22.2%)
Idlewilder (Flesh-Masks)
0 (0%)
Simonster (A Hero's Disguise)
1 (11.1%)
Lionwalker (The Prince's Mask)
4 (44.4%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Voting closed: November 30, 2012, 03:28:45 PM

Author Topic: October 2012 Writing Contest (Voting Now Open)  (Read 6173 times)

Offline Lor

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October 2012 Writing Contest (Voting Now Open)
« on: October 01, 2012, 09:57:28 PM »
"Conceal me what I am, and be my aid. For such disguise as haply shall become the form of my intent." - Shakespeare

Image courtesy of NatalieShau @ deviantart

Halloween is coming, that one time of the year when we have a ready-made excuse to dress up in silly clothes and stuff ourselves full of sweets. And yet, when you want to hide in plain sight, a disguise is just what you need. This month's contest will involve characters hiding who or what they really are, tricking their way through life with the help of a make-up tweak and change of clothing.

The rules are as follows:
1. Must be prose
2. 1,500 - 2,500 words
3. It does not have to be a complete story, a scene will suffice
4. Use of a disguise must be a central part of the story

Submissions to the contest will close on Halloween (October 31st 2012), and voting open for the month thereafter. Any questions, feel free to post here or PM me :) Good luck everyone!
« Last Edit: November 01, 2012, 03:30:11 PM by Lor »
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye." - Miss Piggy

In the End
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2012, 09:59:16 AM »
   
In the End


        6:45Am  Christmas morning. You won't find any shadows nor reflections here. Silence stales the air as I lie cheek to cheek in your cold embrace, and the moonlight cuts razor edges through the darkened windows. Only an hour before sunrise and the peak of your weakness. Ah but before we get to the main event of our seven ring circus, we must first tour the side acts.
   
   The first stop of our bag of tricks would have to be Lust. Fore you see my dear, we are on a road to hell. You don't know it yet but I've already loaded you in the passengers seat and started the engine. The irony here is that up to this point you've been the driver. The problem is you never shifted out of park. Lucky I was here to get us going. Anyways here we are at our first stop, funny dear we haven't even left the driveway.

   I've never told you, though I'm sure you could have guessed, but I've wanted you since we first met. You standing there in your pale skin, perfect lips, and suave hair. I had wanted to jump you right then, to be a part of you, to be in your arms, and your soulless heart. I had known what you were from the start. How could I not, your attire, make up, and attitude were enough to give you away. Yet you always were a melodramatic and just had to make your appearance on a starless night. That didn't stop the want though, oh no,  in fact it made it stronger, with the thought of what you could give me. I obsessed for days. Completely changed my lifestyle to match yours. I slept through the day, ate only red meat, all so I could spend the night with you. Such a drastic change for me, but you didn't show even the slightest spark of interest. That was OK though I didn't hate you for it, not yet at least.

   Oh my look at how fast we are going. Already at our second stop. Yes my dear this bump in the road is called Wraith. A quiet little hamlet filled with a river of blood and many a shallow grave. You see I knew I wasn't the most attractive person and I was no fool to think I would be the only one to catch your eye. That didn't stop me, I had something that set me apart from the others. The will to do whatever it took to make you mine. So I disposed of them. It was rather quite simple. A slit of the throat here, a tying of a noose there. You'd be surprised at how trusting people are of an innocent face. So through a few careful weeks I insured I would be the only one.

   As we come to our third stop I think I'll set the car on cruise, if for nothing more then to set the air. For we have arrived at Sloth and perhaps the least of my sins. At this point in our tragic love story, I had decided to sit back and let you come to me. I figured that if I was the only one, you couldn't help but notice me. Yet still you didn't. You instead chose to ignore me and focused on your friends. I tried to pass it off as part of your grieving process, but it went on for months. Till that point where I just couldn't take it anymore.

   Damn, We're still moving too fast. We'll get there too soon. Might as well make a pit stop. Not that you'll mind huh dear. No, no of course not.

   Since this is our first and last conversation, maybe I should tell you a little about myself. I grew up in a simple enough of a life. The child of a preacher, always told what was right and what was wrong. How to get to Heaven and avoid Hell. Hilarious that that's our destination now. I digress however. You see I was an only child so I got whatever I wanted. Now maybe you'll understand why I'm not use to being dismissed. More importantly, why I won't stand for it now! Sorry lost it there for a moment. We should probably get back to the road anyways.

   Ah Pride. Such a beautiful town. Everything in it's place, streets clean, and store fronts well kept. A town were everything comes easy and you never have to work for anything. Oh if only our life could be so grand. I don't know why it couldn't be. It's my right to have you. I shouldn't have to do all this. You should just be mine I deserve you not them. It's my entitlement. Trust me I will, oh yes I shall.

   Pride shares a border with Greed. Such a possessive bunch of people. Not caring who they stab in the back to get what they want. As long as it puts them ahead. I'm happy to say this is the shortest stop of our trip. Fore there weren't many for me to betray. Oh sure there was my parents, but I only needed them for their money. Lucky for us they slept through that fire huh?

   My My we're almost there. Just two more stops. I can hardly wait. Funny how that fits into our next stop. Gluttony, a wealthy little town and quite often confused with greed. I suppose I could see why. They are quite similar. Then again they are completely different. Greed focused on furthering one's self. Gluttony, on the other hand, Gluttony had a much more complex motive. You see Gluttony goes well beyond one's self, it incorporates others as well. Making sure to include them as well. Qute noble I should think. Sure most of the time it's at their expense. Take now for example.
   
   Gluttony comes at a price, but nothing was worth more then you. So I was more then willing to pay the debt. Gluttony is never being able to get enough. Which is what happened with me and you. I more then needed you. I couldn't possibly live with out you. Hence what set this whole god forsaken plan into action.

   What a beautiful mountain. Almost makes me wish I had seen it in the light of day. Oh well no time for that now is there. Our time is almost at hand and we still have one last stop to make. Then at long last you will be mine. Only mine. I will forever ensure that.

   As I'm sure you have guessed by now my dear, the last and greatest stop of our drawn out trip is Envy. A luscious, beautifully green town. Oh so precariously perched atop the glorious mountain. There is but one way out of Envy. A very long and darkly twisted road down the side of the mountain. At the very bottom of the road resides a wondrous city inscribed with the enchanting name of Heaven. A place the likes of two such as us shall never see. Oh no our destination is much much sooner on this path that the locals have oh so cleverly named “The Highway to Hell”.

   Let us rest in Envy for a moment or two. Might as well enjoy them. They will be our last. 7:31 just a mere ten minutes to go. Now for the history of Envy. Envy is the deadliest town of them all. Very few can ever survive. For one to set out for Envy is to commit one's self to a death sentence. You see my love,my dear, my sweetie, my one and truly only, if I can't have you then no one ever shall. Not now, not ever. Excuse me for just a moment.

   There, all set. The brakes have been cut and the notes have been left. No one will question why, and no one will care. Yes love I figured it out. All those many many months ago. You are with out a doubt a Vampire. A true prince of the night. I believe the only reason others have failed to see it is because it seems crazy. As you can surely tell by now, I'm not above a little insanity.

   In three minutes the sun will rise and you'll burn in it's rays. Meanwhile the car will go off the edge and I'll die in the fiery crash below. Talk about a burning desire. No this is no time for jokes. This is a solemn occasion. Time to start the car. Goodbye my love see you in Hell. You be there for what you are and I'll be there for, well let's face what won't I be there for?

   7:41, right on time, Here's the edge and there's the sun. Look at your beautiful blues eyes open in fright. So sad to see them go.

   Wait, Blue eyes? No this is wrong!
   Why aren't you burning? Why are you screaming?
   How are you bleeding? No wait that means...
   You aren't a vampire. Which means you aren't going to hell.
   Yet I still am. After all I did for us to be together and ultimately I drove us apart.
   Guess true love does only happen in fairy tales.
   I'm sorry.
   FUC..........!
« Last Edit: October 05, 2012, 10:42:11 AM by Malik A. Millender »

Offline Arry

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Re: October 2012 Writing Contest
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2012, 11:32:22 PM »
Alright, here it goes.

Rats


Darkness was no longer a state of light, but a growing, consuming entity that slowly worked its way across the room, enveloping it completely. Val slowly moved within the protection of darkness. Heading straight for the desk, she rummaged through papers, and drawers until she finally found something of interest. She memorized the details and put everything back as she found it, then headed back out the window, pulling the darkness with her.

Running across town, she entered a seedy looking tavern and headed straight to their usual table in the back corner. Henrik was already waiting for her and handed her a mug of ale as she sat down.

“So, what did you find?”

“I couldn’t find any details to figure out who the new head of the Rat’s Thieves guild is. No clues to his identity. Everything just refers to him as Mr. Snark.”

Henrik let out a sound of frustration and he glared at Val.

“Damn! I know that guy is in tight with the Rats. I really thought you would have found something there. There has got to be a way to find him.”

Val smiled to herself, enjoying watching Henrik get worked up for a minute before giving him more.

“Oh, I only said I didn’t find information as to who this Snark really is. I never said I couldn’t help you find him.” She said with a coy smile.

Henrik paused and stared at Val. “You better not be toyin’ with me.”

“Oh, trust me. I’m not.”

Henrik still looked hesitant, afraid to get his hopes up. “Tell me what you found.”

“I, dear Sir, have only found out not only when the next meeting for the Rat’s guild is, I also found out where. And that it is being run by Mr. Snark himself.”

Val enjoyed watching the disbelief on Henrik’s face as he processed what she told him. As a crooked smile replaced the look of shock, he grabbed her shoulders.

“Val! How the hell did you find that? I … I … “ Henrik shook his head. “If you weren’t you know, you, Val,” He gestured his hands at Val. “I would kiss you for that information.”

Val’s eyes narrowed as she punched him in the arm. “Careful, there Henrik. I haven’t given you the information yet. You even try to kiss me, and you can guarantee you wont get it.” She narrowed her eyes at him for a moment and then laughed.

“But seriously, before I tell you what I found, I want to get a better idea what you’re doing with this information. And what I get for it.”

“Carl needs a new second.” Henrik replied, naming the head of his own thieves guild.

Val raised an eyebrow. “And?”

Henrik paused to look around, making sure they were well hidden within Val’s shadows that trapped not just light, but sound as well.

“And, I’m thinking that if Snark meets an unfortunate end, that may be very fortunate for Carl. And Carl may be very generous to one of his own that makes it happen.”

“Has Carl put a price on Snark’s head?”

“No. But I think he will. I’m just looking for a head start, you know a way to get ahead of the others. I’m anticipating Carl’s needs, just a like a second would need to do.” Henrik looked quite pleased with himself.

Val nodded. It made sense. Henrik has already made quite a name for himself within the guild. Carl’s business has been suffering since Mr. Snark has taken over the Rats. They have been losing territory and men causing Carl to increase protection prices from those left within his domain. People weren’t happy. They were paying more money and violence was increasing. Finding a way to kill the cause and regain lost territory would make Carl very happy. And very grateful.

“What’s in it for me?”

“Ahhh. If I am Carl’s second, I will be in a position to make sure you get properly rewarded. You know me Val, if you help me get this, I am going to do everything I can to help you out. I can even look at a permanent reassignment for that repugnant scum that is your current boss.”

Val thinks it over. Henrik is right. If he pulls this off, he would be in an excellent position to take the role of second. He may actually get it anyway, but with this, none of the others could touch him. And as second, he could really make her life easier. She trusted Henrik as much as she could trust anyone this thick in a thieves’ guild. If he failed to come through for her, she would be no worse off than she was now. If he pulled this off, it would be well worth it.

“I trust this is in addition to my usual fee.” Val said bluntly, placing her hand on the table.

“Of course, of course.”  Henrik looked embarrassed and reluctantly fished out a couple of silvers. As he was about to  hand them over, he adds “Provided you agree to help me get to him. This is all I have right now, I can’t pay another one of your fees to make this happen.”

Val understood and nodded. “Fine. One fee, I help you get to him, but you don’t forget me when you’re made second.”

Henrik agreed and set the silvers on the table. Val pocketed the money and smiled.

Over the course of the week, Henrik and Val met several times, sharing information they had gathered on the location, who works and lives near there and how Henrik may be able to get close. They also memorized the most efficient escape routes. Any advantage they could prepare for, they made sure they would take it.

On the night of the Rat guild’s meeting, Val was already in place. She managed to pull some strings to get hired as a serving girl in the tavern. She was keeping an eye on the door to the back room where several Rats were already waiting. She also picked out close to a dozen of the guild’s roughs scattered about the tavern trying to blend in. They were also keeping an eye on the back room.

Finally, Val saw a hooded man enter the tavern and head straight to the back room. She knew all the Rats that were headed to the meeting but one. She had spotted the rest of them already. This had to be Snark. She signaled to Henrik and moved to head off  their mark until she was close enough for her to wrap him in shadow. Henrik approached from behind and she spread the shadow to include him.

The hooded man halted, suddenly deprived of the sights and sounds of the tavern. He was now enveloped in silence and darkness, unable to see or hear anything outside of the shadow.

“Well, Mr. Snark how nice to meet your acquaintance.” Val said as Henrik reached out stabbed the man from behind.

“Val?” the hooded man called, saturating her name with confusion and disbelief. As he collapsed to the ground, his hood slipped back, revealing his face.

The color fled from Val’s face as she looked down at Carl, the head of her own guild. He was still alive. Henrik was evidently not an efficient assassin. Although it did not look like Carl would last for long. The knife had missed his heart, but it was still a lethal blow.

“Henrik, what the hell have you gotten me into?”

Carl coughed, blood dribbled down his chin. “You fools. What have you done?”

“You were supposed to be Snark, I was trying to take him out for you.” Henrik tried to explain in a panic.

“Damn Fools! I am Snark.” Carl coughed and wheezed some more. Speaking between labored breaths. “Creating Snark and … overtaking the Rats … I doubled my territory …  doubled my protection fees … “ For a moment Carl actually looked proud.

“You fools!” He repeated just before relenting to death.

Val and Henrik exchanged a look of trepidation as they realized they have now taken out the head of not one but both of the thief guilds.

“Can you keep us shadowed if we try to get him out of here?”

Val looked around. “If we head out the back door, I think so.  Are you ready?”

“Yeah.”

As Henrik bent to pick up Carl, Val hurled a near by mug of ale out of their shadow and across the tavern. While the drunks and roughs were focused the other way, trying to figure out where the flying ale came from, Val and Henrik used the distraction to drag Carl out of the back.

“What the fuck do we do now?” Henrik demanded as they set Carl down outside.

Val smirked. It did not take her long to come up with a new plan. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“No. Sorry. This is not obvious. What the fuck do we do now?”

“Well, with no head and no second for our guild, you’re going to step in and take charge before anyone else knows what’s happening.” Val watched as that sunk in. Then once it did, she hit him again. “Now, from what I understand, no one in the Rats has seen or spoken to Snark in person before tonight.”

Henrik still had a blank look on his face, so Val added “So. Who wants to be Snark? You? Or me?”

Henrik finally matched her devious smile. After disposing of Carl’s body the pair parted ways. A few minutes later, a hooded figure entered the back room of the tavern.

“So sorry I am late gentleman. Any word of my appearance here leaves this room, I wont bother to find out who talked. You’ll all be dead. You know me as Mr. Snark and that is all you will ever know me as. Now let’s get to business…”




« Last Edit: October 09, 2012, 03:30:59 AM by Arry »
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Offline Lor

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Re: October 2012 Writing Contest
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2012, 12:26:51 PM »
The Test

   She scratched at her eyebrow where the edge of her hood was rubbing against her forehead, and sighed. This shower were something else. Guards in her days in the Fleet were never allowed to be as sloppy. Still, it made her job easy. Particularly since they didn’t seem able to organise something as simple as a sweep of the grounds.   
       
        She looked back down the hill, over the town, the night lit by the flames of Carnival. The racket reached her ears even from this distance, and she could just see the mass of dancers crowding the main square. The guards sent into the town would be busy this evening, it was just the new recruits left behind she had to deal with.
 
   A flash caught her eye, and she turned to the South, in the direction of the Abbey, in time to catch the second one. The signal from Jem; the monks were on their way to the castle. Same as every year; whilst the general population were in the midst of their celebrations, the Order of Zerran would make their way to the castle, and the Altar there, to make their tribute to the Lord of the Seas. And, as every year, she would slip into the group, dressed as one of their number, and relieve them of the treasure.

   The guard never caught her, because they never believed she would try the same trick year after year. Amateurs.

   Whilst she waited for the monks to make their way through the town and up the hill to the castle, she checked again the equipment she had stashed up the wide sleeves of her habit; poisoning someone wasn’t easy, and there was always a danger you’d accidentally dose yourself if you weren’t careful. The needle was tucked safely in its sheath though, and the spare vial strapped to her wrist. She absently scratched at a bite on her arm as she looked back down the hill; collecting the ingredients hadn’t been easy.

   A thought belatedly struck her as she waited for the group to make its way up to her position; she was tall. Not just for a woman, but for a Genanite in general. She stood head and shoulders above the average person, it could compromise her disguise…no, no it wouldn’t. She chuckled at herself; she did this every year, and her height was yet to be a problem. She had to get her head back in the game, not get complacent because she pulled it off every year.

   That way failure lay.

   She watched the monks approach up the hill, their slow, rhythmic chanting carrying towards her on the cool evening breeze. She spotted the Abbot, marching at the front of the group, small ceremonial chest clasped firmly in his hands, and grinned in the shadow of her cowl; he was her target. She scooped up her small pack and stepped out into the road as they approached, standing head bowed until they stopped beside her, and the Abbot spoke.

   “Are you lost, Brother? May we help you?”

   She cleared her throat, calling to mind her brother Tarak, and lowering her voice in imitation of him. “I would be much obliged, Father. I was travelling in the area, and told there was to be a Tribute to Our Lord Zerran on this most glorious night. I only wish to be in the company when it is performed.”

   The old man chuckled. “But of course, My Brother, you are most welcome to join our ranks, please.”

   She bowed her thanks, and shuffled into place behind the Abbot, muttering greetings to the other monks as she did so, glad her hood hid her face, and the smirk spreading across it. She was in.
   
   
                  ###

   Jem frowned up at the wall, and pulled at the collar of his purloined guard’s uniform. The thing was always damned uncomfortable, but living with Lin and eating well meant it was a little tighter than usual. He made a mental note to sort that as he pulled the rope and grappling hook out of his pack, tucking the now empty vessel into the shadows, and tying the rope on to the hook.

   The guards were even more hopeless than they had been the year before; he’d made it up the hill in the most unsubtle way, panting his way to the castle walls, and not a single body had seen him. Eva was going to have no trouble this time. He weighed the hook in his hand, and with practiced ease whirled it around his head twice before launching it at the parapet. It caught first time. He grinned, and began to pull himself upwards.

   He gained the top and pulled himself on to the rampart, breathing hard. Not a guard in sight. Tarak would have their heads for this. Struggling to regain his breath, he removed the hook, and dropped it down into the shadows to be collected later. He pulled his soft cloth cap out from inside his jacket, and squashed it onto his head, before stepping forward, hand on sword hilt, to look down into the courtyard. Disguise complete, he gave a relieved sigh, and hummed to himself as he waited for his captain to appear. Hopefully nothing would go wrong, and his exertions were over for the night.

                  ###

   
   Tarak stood in the middle of the courtyard, cap blown off as the night’s wind picked up, hands on his hips, and his new guard initiates lined up in front of him. At his feet sat the prisoner, cowl still pulled up over his face, the chest he had tried to steal at his side. Tarak had caught him himself, in the Altar Room, of all places. His guards had some explaining to do.

   The Abbot was being cared for inside, the castle medicine man fussing about him with herbs that were probably totally useless, but until he got a hold of Eva, Tarak wouldn’t be able to provide better for the old man. At least he was still alive, they didn’t have that disgrace on their record, yet.

   “So, who wants to tell me what happened tonight?”

   The initiates shuffled their feet, refusing to meet his eye, and Tarak sighed. Children, that’s all they were really, mere boys playing at being soldiers, pressed into service by families who were fed up feeding them. Zerran help him, why were they his responsibility?

   “The Abbot was poisoned on our watch, and this year’s tribute very nearly stolen from under our noses. What was the one thing I told you before you went on watch this evening?”

   “Watch out for you sister, sir, as she likes to try and intercept the Tribute. But sir, we saw no sign of her-“

   Tarak reached down and yanked the cowl off of his prisoner’s head, revealing his sister’s grinning face, and shocking the initiates into silence. A couple of them physically recoiled at the sight of Eva, which caused her to snort.

   “Well thanks very much.”

   There was chuckling  from the ramparts above them, and Tarak waved the man down. “I wondered where you were Tamarn. You can come down now.”

   The new guards looked confused as Jem joined them in the courtyard, tipping his cap to them as he passed, and then helping Eva to her feet, so they could both stand by Tarak.

   “Sir, I don’t undertand…”

   “It was a test, the whole thing. And you all failed.” Tarak sighed again, rubbing a hand across his eyes. “Every year she does the same damn thing, and you’re told that, and yet every year you are arrogant enough to believe she won’t do it again, and that you’ll catch her. Well you failed!”

   The boys jumped as their captain raised his voice, and as one looked at the ground. Eva placed a hand on her brother’s arm, her strong accent causing a small smile to creep across his lips; for all her proclamations of being a captain and belonging to that class, she still sounded like a farmhand.

   “They weren’t all bad. That one” she pointed at the short lad on the far left of the line. “He did stop us at the gate and question us on our intent, he just didn’t ask us to lower our cowls. Probably through fear of offending the Abbot. He can pass, Tar.”

   Tarak nodded slowly, and beckoned the boy forward. “Very well. Any others?”

   Jem nodded at the boy second from the right of the line. “That one knew something was amiss when he spotted me up on the wall, he was a bit quick to believe my story about being late to report for duty though.”

   “You pulled a sword on me! I only had my spear, that was useless against that!”

   “You could have brained me with the shaft, boy!”

   Even in the pale light from the moon and the torches the boy couldn’t hide his blushing, which caused the pirates to laugh. Tarak beckoned him forward.

   “Ah, but the lad knows he isn’t to use unreasonable force unless he is certain it is necessary. And with a gut like that Tamarn, you ain’t much of a threat.”

   Jem’s hand moved to his stomach, and he frowned at Tarak, ignoring Eva’s laughter from over her brother’s head. Tarak elbowed her to shut her up, and turned back to the boys in front of him.

   “Very well; you two may pass, you will sit your written test tomorrow morning. You may leave to prepare.” Both boys snapped to attention, threw Tarak a sharp salute, and then hurried off into the castle. He turned his attention to the boys left. “As for the rest of you…for falling for my sister’s trick, you will restart your training. From scratch. Starting with drills at dawn. Dismissed.”

   There were groans, but the boys saluted, and made their way off into the castle, more than one throwing Eva and Jem a disgusted look on the way past. Once they had left, Tarak deflated, and grinned at Eva.

   “Would have thought you’d have grown bored of that disguise by now?”

   “Why? It works every year. Saves me spending money on anything new. Speaking of which…” She bent down and retrieved the Tribute chest, weighing it in her hands. “Nice little haul.”

   “What did you give the Abbot?”

   “Nothing lethal. He’ll have the flu for a couple of days, then be right as rain. Just don’t let the castle medicine man near him, that guy is fucking useless!”

   “Of course he is.” Tarak turned to head into the castle, and then stopped, looking at her over his shoulder. “Thanks. Best test my recruits will ever get.” He nodded down at the chest in her hands. “What are you going to do with your reward?”

   “Same as I do every year.”

   He nodded once, and disappeared off into the castle. There was a long moment where the only sound was the wind blowing around the courtyard, and then Eva pulled her cowl back over her head, and beckoned to Jem.

   “Come on. Lord Zerran needs his Tribute.”
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye." - Miss Piggy

Offline AlmightyZael

Re: October 2012 Writing Contest
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2012, 09:44:20 PM »
Ok, here we go. 2'500 words exactly. Hope y'all enjoy it  :)

Primal Desire

I walk through shadow and bathe in fire; yet silence is my flavour.
Spread thin, my wings, and claim desires of mortal lust and favour.   
When you feel a wanting, needing, craving,
I’ll be there, my darling, waiting.
For I am Asmodai, not Godly Fae,
And here I am, to quench my prey.


***

Signal saw tonight’s pleasure waiting for him on the street corner. She held a red umbrella, though the night was dry. He could find them without such a signifier; his date gave off a distinctive resonance that separated them from the din of the crowded streets.

He lit a thin cigarette and took a few puffs, taking his time, letting her wait. She would know that he was in control tonight, just like he always was. He Inhaled slowly, letting the smoke fill his lungs. Nicotine had no effect on him, of course, but he had always liked the film-noir connotations that such practices inspired.

After a few minutes he decided she’d waited long enough.

“Sarah,” he said, his voice barely audible over the engines of passing vehicles and the chatter of pedestrians.

The young woman looked around, eventually spotting his sharp, handsome features and elegant suit. Similarly, she was clothed in a fashionable dress. As she looked at him she could tell that he was used to the finest of appearances at all times.

“Signal, hi,” she exclaimed, sounding far more enthusiastic than she would have liked.

The tall man gave her a smile, looking deep into her eyes with a hypnotic focus. Two grey points that seemed to pinpoint her very soul, staring down at it like a wolf. She could have sworn the first time they met that his eyes were a dark blue…

“I’m sorry, but there’s been a change of plan,” he said, still not taking his eyes off of hers. “There’s an event I must attend. A glorious chance to socialise with all the new C.E.O’s and fresh, arrogant talent that the industry has to offer.” His voice dripped with a concoction of sarcasm and boredom.

“Oh,” she raised a hand to her chest. “Well, I guess we can reschedule.”

The woman glanced down, looking a little deflated.

With a charming laugh that had made many a leg shake, Signal placed a hand on her shoulder.

“No, darling. I would like you to accompany me. Keep me… interested in tonight’s affair.”

Sarah smiled with a blush and said, “I may be a little under dressed for the occasion, don’t you think?”

Signal looked down at her short, black dress and long blonde hair. It was certainly fetching, though not at all suitable for high class meeting and greeting. He was getting cold, he needed to feed, to hurry up and get her on her own. But he couldn’t break appearances… not in public. 

“It’s fine. I know a guy.” With another smile he pulled out a slim phone.

***

“It fits!” Sarah squealed in delight. She wore a long blue dress, much fancier and expensive-looking than the small, black one.

Charles, the tailor, nodded approvingly. His personality left something to be desired, but Signal had to admit the man could alter the crap out of a dress and make it work.

“Perfect,” breathed Signal, handing Charles a wad of cash. “There’s a little extra for getting it done so quickly.”

“This is amazing,” Sarah said as they stepped into a stretch limo. “How do you know that guy?”

Waving his hand as if dismissing the question he told the chauffeur where they were going.

A twenty minute journey, filled with odd bits of chit-chat and a few quick lessons on etiquette, brought them to the fifty-story Dare Building. The construction represented every capitalist’s dream; polished glass and shining metal reached towards the sky, clutching at the Gods above.

“The party’s on the roof,” he said, pointing out the window.  “Well, the garden, really,” Signal told her.

He hopped out of the car and made his way around to Sarah’s side. As he did, a wave of nausea swept over him. Suddenly faint, he steadied himself on the limo roof. A couple of deep breaths and the sickness passed.

Not this again.

He opened the door to let Sarah out.

He took her arm as she stepped out of the limousine, helping keep her balance in her high heels. Sarah found herself comfortable in this man’s company. At first, she thought he was nothing more than a rich business type with the good looks of a middle aged man. Now, however, she knew that he was infinitely deeper. His eyes told her so. Those deep, mysterious eyes. Always seeing, never showing.

“So,” she asked, tentatively, “Ronald Dare... he'll actually be here tonight?”

Signal laughed at the quiver in her voice. “Yes. But I warn you, the guy’s an ass.”

“You know him?” Surprised would be an understatement.

The grey-eyed man gave her a quizzical look that was oddly raw and sexual. He brushed his dark hair back over his ear..

 “Know him? Who do you think created this company?”

Sarah let this information sink in. Ronald Dare, renowned billionaire and global technology entrepreneur, had built the company from nothing, and was now the biggest  company in the  western world.

“But the man’s a genius!” Sarah said a bit too loudly as they passed more couples on their way to the same elevator. 

“Nope. He’s a leader. Everything the company creates comes from me. I just don’t like meeting people. Which, coincidentally, Ron’s good at.”

The elevator dinged and they stepped in. Sarah was struck silent at this latest revelation. She was on a date with a billionaire. No wonder he could afford taking her to get a dress fitted on such short notice. But, why hadn’t she heard of him before? Everybody knew that Dare created the company…apparently Signal had no interest being in the public eye.

They reached the top floor. The doors parted, revealing what had to be the most beautiful room Sarah had ever seen. The room proper was grand in scale, ornate waterfalls lining one wall. Whitewashed pillars stretched across both sides of the room, though they did nothing to impair the total space available.

People stood in pairs or groups. Talking, laughing, taking small bites of food from the tiny plates they held. The men were all dressed in dinner jackets and fine suits. The women were dressed in brilliant dresses of all colours, the value of which would be enough to fund the start-up of a small business.

“Holy s-“

“Sarah, this is John Brendon,” he interrupted. “The only man in the world who can take your money and make you feel good about it.”

The two men laughed as they shook hands. As the newcomer greeted Sarah, Signal's thoughts wandered. The two engaged in small talk, being polite and friendly. She did good, it being her first event and all. It was in this time of pause and thought that he noticed him.

A grey haired man, perhaps in his mid-fifties, stared straight at him from across the room. The look was only for a second, but a ripple of pain echoed through Signal's spine and neck. The old man turned away; to anyone else in the room it would have seemed nothing more than a brisk glance around. Signal knew differently.

“Sorry, John. We’ll have to catch up later.” Signal patted the man on the shoulder and grabbed Sarah’s hand.

“Where are we going?”

“Outside. I need air.” His nostrils were flared and he was breathing deeply.

The two of them walked up the wide marble stairs to a roof garden. Trimmed bushes and palm trees were scattered around the rooftop, and benches and tables were placed here and there. Couples walked together through fence archways covered with ivy. Hired men and women walked around with platters of hors d'oeuvres in one hand.
Signal lead them to the edge of the building, where there were less people gathered. He faced the city proper and leaned against the railing. His breath was laboured.

“Signal, are you feeling al-“

A pulse. He felt it. It ran through him, around him. Around everything. Next he heard a buzzing. A familiar, repulsive sound.

“It’s been a while,” he managed to choke. His eyes flashed a spectrum of colours.

He turned around to see the elderly man standing before him, a smile touching his lips. Sarah, the other guests, the birds in the sky, they were all still. Nothing moved.

Nothing twitched. All locked into place, a blip in time, frozen as seeds under winter frost.

“You’re a hard man to track down, Asmodeus,” the man said, twirling his cane as he did.

Signal’s jaw clenched. He said nothing as he tried to fight the bombardment of more waves of nausea.

“Art thou afraid?” the man asked. “Afraid of one so ‘faerie,’ as you put it?”

Signal had to laugh at that. “He sent you, did He? Always one to intervene, our Lord, is He not?”

“Drop the humour, daemon. Surrender quietly or prepare yourself.”

Signal let the power manifest behind his eyes. The world came into Focus. He saw things as they really were, as they should be. Everyone at the affair, all of them, their souls were a dark and vile green. Greed, Lust, Gluttony. They all mixed inside them; the wealthy. They were all the same. He loved it.

He looked upon the man, though he was no longer the old gentleman he saw moments ago. Before him stood an Angel, shining in silver and gold armour, his cane now a sword. He was glorious and brilliant, breath-taking and beautiful. Devastating and terrible.

He spared a quick glance at Sarah and his heart stopped.

Her soul. It was…blank. Streaks of colour lashed out in all directions, an endless mass of possibilities before her. But she rejected them all.

“Raphael,” Signal said, regarding the blinding light. “Dost thou forget thine Fate? The Devil’s work will never stop, never slow.”

“I have had enough, daemon of Lust! Reveal yourself, for I see you!” The Angel's gaze shook somewhere deep inside Signal. “Prepare to die.”

His form was being undone, and his flesh began to tear. It peeled back, showing the grey sinew beneath.

Signal let a burst of energy pop with the clap of his hands. The shock wave did two things; first, it returned the flow of time to its regular course. And second, it created a shockwave just strong enough to stagger the Angel.

The daemon Signal spun on his heel and grabbed the arm of Sarah. He pulled her towards him with inhuman strength and leapt off the edge of the building.

“You are a Pure one,” he told her as the plummeted. Whether she heard him over her screaming he could only guess. “To feed from you would be akin to feeding from God himself!”

As they neared the ground, wind crashing passed their ears, Signal spun to land softly. Sarah began to let out another scream, but the man wrapped his fingers tightly around her throat and mouth.

With his other hand, which had also started to turn a pale grey colour, he pulled on her dress, revealing one of her breasts. He let his altered hand caress her subtle flesh for a moment as he drained her of her life’s energies. He didn’t have long, but Fear was all she felt now, so that was all he could take.

He began to sprint, his entire left side now completely disfigured and different. Muscular limbs that were far too long to be human dominated one side of his body. Only half of his face did the same; his guise was now useless.

Holding Sarah tightly he practically galloped down the street, searching for a dark alleyway or secluded building. There weren’t many of those in the financial district, unfortunately. His initial plan was to seduce the girl and feed off of her Lust, like he did every night with all the other girls. But Raphael, Angel of God, had finally found him. Again.

He had a better plan for this one, now. He hadn’t expected her to be one of the Pure.

***

His demonic form was now fully realised, and his wings were spread wide as he carried his prey through the air. He was graceful and menacing, though too high to be seen from the streets below.

His destination finally bloomed into view. An abandoned theatre far to the south of the city. He landed on the roof, Sarah limp in his arms. A simple hypnotic enchantment was sufficient to make her sleep. He entered the building, a familiar place to him after all these years.

The theatre itself looked bland, like it belonged, part of the background. He'd coated it in a series of protective and defensive wards many years before, and regularly replaced them. It would slow Raphael down, but only a little.

As Asmodeus reached the main hall of the theatre he kicked open the entry door. The man, the daemon, now stood over seven feet tall, a harsh figure in the low ceilinged hall. He rushed through to the theatre's main room and took position on stage. His binding circle and ritual tools were already in place. He placed Sarah in the centre of the circle, stripping away her dress completely as he did so.

He dipped his fingers into a basin of corrupted water. The water shimmered faintly and darkened. He sprinkled her breasts and genitals with the black, corrupted liquid and began his enchantment.

First she awoke, then she screamed. After a moment she calmed, and began to moan in ecstasy. He could feel the energy of Lust building around her. Ready for him to take, to drink her blood and start the Rising. But he felt the nausea come again.

Just then, smoke filled the air. The smell of burning fish, iron and coal. The darkened room blossomed into the purest of light as Raphael entered. The smell stung Asmodeus' senses, blinding him and locking his power. It had been too long since his last feeding, he had little energy.

There came a chiming chorus as Raphael chanted. Any mortal would weep at its sound. Asmodeus found himself shrinking, being constrained. Oddly pulled towards the Angel. He tried to fight, but Raphael was too strong.

“Rest in my Sword, daemon. Forever shall you lay in my guard.” The Angel spoke the binding words of God.

The world brightened around him, eternally so, for nothing lay around Asmodeus now but the endless purity of blankness. And with it came the nausea, the buzzing energy of Raphael, his perpetual keeper.


Up Helly Aah!

Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: October 2012 Writing Contest
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2012, 01:00:21 AM »
Let's see how this went...

Greed's Deception

It was snowing. I was cold. And the knife pricking my back didn’t annoy me as much as it should’ve.

   “Keep on moving,” the soldier behind me ordered, his voice muffled by his mask. We kept walking through the crunching snow toward the castle’s gate. I sighed if for no other reason than to watch the wisps of my breath fall away beyond my grasp. It was the simple things that amused me before meeting a wretched noble.

   We passed through the stone gate with no harm, no major things to worry about besides the few soldiers stationed there that peppered me with insults. But I stayed silent. A beating wouldn’t be good right now.
 
   He pushed me forward, on through the massive doors only the rich could waste their money on and down the many corridors that held only murmurs of anything. “Come on,” he continued to say. His creaking chainmail pestered me. But I said nothing like a good little prisoner.

   Months. It had taken months to reach this castle far up on the hills. Months of analyzing the layout. Months of careful deceptions. Months of daydreaming about the reward all amounted to this one moment. And I was glad my brother was there to see it all right beside me. How he had advanced so quickly in Baron Avon’s Guard was beyond me. But hours of hard work on his part had paid off. Finally.

   “Halt,” a group of Corporals squeaked, their metal rings bobbing in the marrow-chilling halls. I bit my tongue, fearful of the trouble it might get me in. “Where are you two going?”

   I didn’t account for paranoid bastards.

   “I’m here to see the Baron,” my brother said nonchalantly. “Is there some problem?”

   They saw the stripes of a Lieutenant and backed away, shaking their heads. “No, nothing’s wrong. We were just curious.”

   “The Baron’s not paying you to be curious. Go out there and pretend to be menacing.”

   They hurried off, obeying my brother’s orders without a hint of objection. “Keep on going.” I reframed from snickering and did as told.

After a few agonizing minutes in the frosty stone halls, we stopped in front of two impressive doors in a great hall. But the polished wood did little to deter my ideas, my well thought-out plan. It only made me angrier.

Eander, my brother, remained ever stoic in the face of this majestic ruin on society. I didn’t dwell on the amount of hard work peasants had put into crafting those doors. Instead, I thought of the last slave this monster would use.

“I’m here to speak to the Baron,” my brother told the two bored-looking guards.

“With a prisoner?”

Eander shot them daggers made conveniently of ice. They understood immediately. Rank had a habit of shutting others up. So we went through to speak formalities in the face of our target.

Baron Avon sat on a dominating throne. A silk shirt harvested from countless worms wrapped around his body. Two beasts made up a bearskin coat that hung loosely on his small frame. But the elaborate rugs draped on walls and juicy grapes he sucked on pushed my fury farther. I was glad some man was paying for his death. It made this all the more thrilling.

“What is it?” he bellowed in that common jaded tone nobles seemed to have perfected. The harsh globs of makeup that adorned his face didn’t help his case. Eander strolled forward, me right in front with that stupid knife shoved nearly up my spine.

“I found this man near the wall. He asked to speak to you. Strange man, in my opinion.”

“So the assumption that he might be a strange man made you chain up this poor messenger?” He swallowed a grape. My spite grew as Avon frowned. “Well, release him, Lieutenant.” Eander obliged with no comment. The ruse was going perfectly, maybe all too well for my tastes. Nonetheless, I clenched and unclenched my hands releasing the cold, ready for this escapade of ours to be over.

I walked toward the man with no guards, a grin on my clever little face. “Okay,” he began. “What do you want?” I crossed my arms before speaking. Dramatics would help the situation. That and it warmed me up a bit.

“Why, I have a message of sorts, a message that is of the utmost importance.” He waved off the words with a tired expression. This was all play, all acting in the face of death. But I didn’t care much. For now, at least.

“Get to the point.”

“Yes, yes. Well, you see, this message is important, as I said.” His peeved face didn’t help my chances of living. So I walked forward, closer to him. “I must tell this important message privately, for it is a secret.”

I saw the twinkle in his eye, the peak in curiosity that I played to my advantage. So I walked forward to the now-standing man, inching my way toward his throne where the stench of uselessness ran its vile veins. My fingers twitched in the cold, a distraction I was pleased for. Eander shuffled behind me, possibly watching the door. Guards wouldn’t be welcome right now.

“What is it?” he snapped, his breath filled with the aroma of alcohol.

The thrill of killing overcame me as it always did; the rush that comes before the storm, the well-executed plan. I took a deep breath, relishing the harsh air that we were subjected to, and let the knife in my sleeve fall down into my grubby little hand.

I leaned forward, close enough to where he couldn’t see the knife and whispered, “I’m here to kill you.”

And I jabbed. Upward.

However, the sensation best described as confidence crumbled quickly as I felt my wrist push up, away, behind me, into flesh. And cold, hard metal.

The guard fell down to the marble ground, the knife lodged deep into his mask. No scream came from his mouth, no lasting agony that would maintain itself in my nightmares. Instead, his last testament was the enormous pool of blood, the stain on Avon’s majestic floor.

I spun around and took a quick step back, anticipating the Baron to attack me while I was preoccupied. But he didn’t. He stood before his throne, a smug look drawing its picture on his face.

“How could you…” I shut up as soldiers piled in because of a scream in the corner. A damn servant had seen the whole thing. I hadn’t planned that insignificant detail; or the Baron killing my brother.

Nonetheless, I remained motionless as the guards circled me, the lone assassin.
 
“M’lord, are you alright?” The Corporal looked aghast, as I expect I did as well, as Baron Avon began to wipe the makeup and sweat off his face, laughing that maniacal laugh.

One of the soldiers pushed handcuffs on me while the chuckling continued on, killing the air. I didn’t resist. It was useless. The game was over. I had failed.

 A knife in my back, oh so much like Eander had done, willed me forward away from the turmoil. The frost in my heart grew. I tried to cough out the pain, but to no avail.

The guard led me out of there as one man pulled my brother’s mask off and put rope around Avon’s arms. But the soldier that had led me in here was bald; his dead hand was clutching a knife. And strangely, the Baron looked very much like me.

***

I sat in the cell, twiddling my thumbs. Big James, my cell mate, was a lump in the corner. A massive lump at that. And Eander sat on the top bunk, staring at the graying ceiling, waiting patiently as always. I, for once, remained in my head, content with my thoughts.

Avon’s son sat on the throne. Amusingly, he was our employer.

Months had passed and still I wondered how Eander had planned it all: the makeup and disguise, the anticipation that came from knowing that Avon would do such a cunning trick.  But I knew better. Eander had always been the smarter of us. I had been the means to an end, the harbinger of death as befitting the title of an assassin. He had been bestowed the brains of the operations, even if that meant hoarding them from me until the very end.

This trivial nuisance of a habit he held onto led us into this situation.

Eander had been captured, as I, but was sentenced to three months in this cell far into the depths of the dungeon. I often wondered who he had paid to lighten the load.

But knowing your life will end due to an early hanging gave me paranoia.

“Shower time,” one guard muttered through the cell’s bars. Big John stood up, glad to be rid of the rancid stench of cabbage that permeated the air. Eander followed suit.

“You comin’?” the brutish man called Big John asked.

“Nah.”

“Well then, wallow in your self-pity for all I care.”

So in my indifferent depression, I stayed in the gloomy cell as Eander walked out of the bars to shower in this hell for the last time. I shook his hand, grateful that he was my brother, my partner in crime. I was glad that he would continue on this legacy and trail of murder.

Compulsion led me to shake Big John’s hand. Sweat caught itself on his meaty palms. I rubbed mine on my trousers afterward. And still, I was left with my thoughts once more.

Why was Eander leaving me to rot in this dungeon? Had he given up? Was I delusional and too hopeful? The last question presented me with a ‘yes.’ I did as Big John suggested and swam in the sea of despair, unwanted by me or any others.

I closed my eyes. Sleep. Precious sleep. It called my name, wishing me to come. But I resisted. The shadows were too dark, too ominous. Too many.

A sharp rattle woke me up.

The guard, with a forlorn look plastered on his face, strolled into my cell, eyes downcast. He fumbled with the keys and put them back into his pocket. I glared at him for waking me.

He came over, close enough for me to smell the pungent odor of perspiration on his body. And the man placed a gloved hand on my shoulder as he sat beside me. It wasn’t comforting as many usually were. No, it brought a cold chill to my heart, something the winter gales outside couldn’t do.

With a hurt and empathetic voice, he spoke to me like a lost puppy. “I’m sorry.”

For what?

The befuddled look in my eyes made him answer my silent question.

“Your brother’s dead. Committed suicide in the showers. Cut his own throat. Such a tragedy.” But that didn’t sound like him. Even so, he wasn’t keen on showing his emotion. And I had been battling a depression for some time. That tended to cloud my observational skills.

The guard rose from the chair, an injured look evident in his eyes. Now I notice pain, I chided myself.

“So looks like it’s time to go, Mister Eander.”
« Last Edit: October 10, 2012, 01:02:52 AM by C.Hill »
“It’s a dangerous thing, pretense. A man ought to know who he is, even if he isn’t proud to be it.” - Tomorrow the Killing, Daniel Polansky

Offline Idlewilder

Re: October 2012 Writing Contest
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2012, 09:00:36 PM »
Well, here's my entry. As some of you know - Lionwalker challenged me to write something waaaaay out of my comfort zone for this (as I did to him) and his pick for "genre" of this short story was... Paranormal Comedy. Can't really get any further away from my comfort zone with that one!

Anyway, here we go...


Flesh-Masks


I’ve always hated the smell of rotting flesh. This probably seems like a fairly obvious observation. I mean, of course rotting flesh stinks. It’s decaying matter. And believe me when I tell you, human flesh is worst of all.

   Especially when you’re wearing it.

   Sometimes, the best way to disguise yourself amongst the humans is to take a face. Wear it. Feel it. Be it. You know how it is – you’re out torturing and murdering on a Friday night, and low and behold, some prick of a wannabe mage spots you in the shadows and sends you back to the pits. A mask can be a godsend – well, as much of a godsend as a raging demon from the bottom of hell can rely on, anyway.

   But this brings me back to my original point – flesh can only last so long. Creating a living flesh-link is a lot harder than you might think. Sure, films like The Exorcist and all those stinkers Hollywood churns out every Halloween might make it look a lot easier. But possession of the humans is a hard thing to maintain. So finding a fresh corpse, or better – making one, can be a lot easier.

   But the smell! You’ll be lucky to get more than a few hours out of a chunk of dead flesh. Someone always notices the rot, eventually.

   “What’s that fuckin’ smell?” they would say, cringing and ready to vomit. Just as Fred the Barman had just done. “What the fuck did you eat?”

   Luckily, I have enough of my own magic to stop the flesh from looking like a corpse. Otherwise, what would be the point? If I wanted to create a zombie then I would create a zombie. Simple. But zombies have never been my style; too stupid. They make too much noise; groaning and clattering.

   But if the flesh starts to smell, and some idiot Barman notices; then it’s not going to take long for some fucker of a mage to notice. And that’s when things get a little difficult. A little… messy.

   Lucky for me, I felt him before he felt me.

   I drained my tumbler of whisky; a fine Glenmorangie single malt. I could hear Fred the Barman in the back, coughing his lungs up. The bar was mostly empty, just a couple of lonely old drunks in the corners, sinking slowly into their drinks. Nobody else. So where was the mage? I could feel him at the back of my mind, that unmistakeable haze of power coming closer.

   The door to the bar burst open, wood splintering from the force.

   “Which one?” I could hear a voice say from the doorway, the torrential rain outside hammering on the stone cobbles.

   Another, deeper voice. “Not sure. But it’s in here, somewhere.”

   The woman came in first. Her dark hair tied up in a tail at the back, glistening from the rain. Beside her was a man who had to crouch slightly to enter the bar. He was huge. A Tower of a man, next to a dark Damsel. I see things in a classic kind of a way; old fashioned, some might say. But what’s the point in being a demon if you have to be politically correct?

   “Stinks in here,” the Damsel said.

   “Rotten flesh,” said the Tower. He pointed at me. I just sat at the bar, cool and collected. “Him. He reeks. And look at the sweat. Demon coming through the dead flesh.” Cool and collected, my ass. Demon-fire; it always betrays you in these situations. Know what I mean?

   “I’m sitting right here. No need to be insulting.” I stared at the Damsel, her eyes so innocent compared to her confident gait. “You humans; always so desperate to keep the planet to yourselves. I’m just sat here, enjoying a nice drink of an evening, and here you are – crucifix at the ready.”

   “Fuck you, demon. Your silvertongue won’t win you any sympathy from me. Begone!” The Tower smirked at me, rolling his eyes at the foolish Damsel.

   “This her first time?” I asked.

   The Tower nodded.

   She scowled. “What is that supposed to mean?”

   “It means that we’ve been around the block a few times, rookie, and you haven’t.” I enjoyed seeing the anger in her face. “You think these guys,” I said, pointing at the Tower,” are new to this? You think I’m new to this? He knows that I’m not here to cause any trouble. I know he’s here just to do his job.”

   “How is this my problem, demon?” she asked.

   I smiled. “It all comes down to respect. If there’s no respect between demon and human, then where are we?” She looked at the Tower and he shrugged. “I’ll tell you where: Armageddon. If this were the end of the world, then I wouldn’t be sat here drinking whisky like some old drunk. I’d be out living it up. Killing, setting fire to things: y’know, demon-y things.

   “Take away the respect and the balance of power shifts. Right now – humans control life, demons control death. Take away the respect and things quickly spiral out of control. I might be a demon, but it doesn’t mean I want to see the end of the status quo. It’s just way too much work.”

   Her face remained hard and confused.

   “Still, you killed a man to take this form,” the Tower said. “Can’t be having that.”

   I sighed. “No, I suppose not.”

   Fred the Barman trudged through the door behind the bar, grey-faced and sick. He took one whiff of the smell, clutched his mouth and returned to the bathroom. I must have left the face on too long. Usually, I switch long before the rot sets in.

   “So, we gonna do this?” I asked.

   The Damsel placed her hands on her hips, looking at the Tower. I wondered if she had her face set permanently to scowl. Some people have no sense of humour.

   “Best get it over with,” the Tower said. “Outside. Alleyway – two minutes.”

   I nodded.” I’ll have another quick drink and be right with you, boss.”

   The Damsel pulled out her handgun and pointed it at me. “You must be fuckin’ kidding me, Jackson.” Must have been the Tower’s name. “There is no way I’m letting this bastard out of my sight. I’ll blow his head off.”

   Jackson, the Tower, grabbed her shoulder. “Shoot him and he will slink off to find another body, Reena.” The Damsel’s name. “You’ll be taken in for homicide, and I’ll have to find him. Again.”

   She gulped. “Homicide? But he’s a fucking demon!”

   “Not if he disappears, he isn’t. I can’t write him up as exorcised if you let him go. Shoot the body, the demon is free.”

   She lowered the gun, and stomped out to the rain. “Fucking ridiculous,” she muttered.

   The Tower looked at me inquisitively. “Nothing stupid, demon. No more than three people in here. Not difficult to find you if you try anything.” He nodded, and walked out to the rain.

   I wandered around to the other side of the bar, grabbed the bottle of scotch and poured myself and decent measure. I could hear Fred, dry-heaving in the back. Human bodies can be really disgusting. I drank the whisky in one swig. It burnt on the way down. Whisky like that burns like nothing else. Hell be damned. It was glorious.

   I walked to the door, sighing at the thought of going home. They say home is where the heart is. What if you don’t have a heart? Or a soul?

   The spray from the rain was leaking in through the open door, making the wood floor slick and slippery. I lifted the collar of my trenchcoat. At least I’d be dry, soon.

    A voice behind me spoke. “Where you goin’?”

   I turned. It was one of the old guys in the corner. I had the sudden thought that they hadn’t commented earlier, or even decided to cower or bolt when the Damsel pulled her gun. Strange, that.

   The other lifted his head. “You youngsters give up so easily, these days.”

   I frowned. “What are you talking about?”

   The first one spoke again. “Come over here, boy. Where we can see you.”

   I walked over. Two minutes had to be nearly up. “Well?”

   Then I saw the deep darkness; the fires of hell in their eyes.

   The second one spoke. “Not too bright are you, boy?”

   “I didn’t feel you earlier. How are you doing this?”

   “Old tricks. Do as you’re told and maybe we’ll share.”

   The first snorted. “You must be from, what, the first circle, second at a push?”

   I could feel the demon-sweat trickling down the dead flesh of my face. Like a blush. “Third circle. What about you old boys?”

   “Seen it all, we have, lad. Up here on real business. Not this foolish nonsense you’re up to.”

   Old demons. They’re always so fucking… holier than thou. Tedious old pricks – always think they know best. Same up on earth; same down in the pits.

   I leant forward. “Fuck…you.”

   They both laughed. The first one spoke. “Your generation – it’s all fuck this and fuck that. Nothing is ever thought about.”

   I laughed at his attitude. “Why are you even here? Why disturb me?”

   “Think, boy.”

   I did. But in mid-thought, the Damsel appeared in the doorway, handgun pointed right at us. She walked slowly towards us. Her hands were shaking. “What did you to? What did you do to him?”

   I had no idea what the bitch was talking about, but the first of the old demons stood, his old human form stooped and bald. He pushed me to the side. “Do it. Pull the trigger.” He was willing her to do it.

   The gun cracked like thunder, the blast ringing in my ears.
 
   She looked at her shaking hands, dropping the gun. The old demon was choking on a raging torrent of black blood from the hole in his neck.

   The doorway filled with darkness. The Tower.

   I watched in stunned silence as he grabbed her shoulder, reached around to her throat and sliced a thin slit. Blood poured from her throat, much like the demons.

   The other old demon stood. “Bring her here, fool. Quickly.”

   The Tower obeyed. As he came into the light, I could see a glassy look in his eyes. Possessed. A living zombie. This was some serious shit. I started to wish I could go back down to the pits. I had a bad feeling.

   He dropped her dying body next to the old demons.

   The second old man-demon uttered something under his breath. “Light to darkness. Good for evil. Blood for blood. It is done. At last.”

   I knew those words.

   “Oh, fuck no!” I screamed.

   I grabbed the corner of the bar tightly. The whole room; the whole building, began to shake. Rumble. The fabric of existence ripped open. An almighty roar. The winds of fire pulled me towards the floor, but I held tight.

   “He’s free then,” I muttered to myself. Red flames ripped through the floor around where the corpses had been; a tunnel to the depths of hell itself. “Here they come.”

   And they did. Demons, devils – whatever you want to call them – they all climbed up, thousands. Skittering, chittering; malevolent evil itself.

   I braced myself for the inevitable. He would be here last. To rule. Forever.

   Just like I said to the Tower, it all comes down to respect. I felt like eating my words to the Tower and the Damsel; here was Armageddon, and it just went to show how much I knew about demons. Sometimes even a demon can be an outcast – Hell isn’t the most sociable of places, after all.

   I supposed I would have to get rid of the mask. Make the best of a particularly bad situation. Sometimes I really hated being a demon.

   I heard the toilet flush, and turned. Fred the Barman came through, wiping his mouth and zipping up his jeans.

   He looked on at the chaos. “This really isn’t my damned night.”
 
   I smiled. “Tell me about it.”
Make Another World.

Offline simonster

Re: October 2012 Writing Contest
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2012, 10:37:27 AM »
Here's something silly.


A Hero's Disguise

"Awaken, Mighty Yordrak!  Greatest of Dragons!  Wisest of the Ancients!  We seek your council."

Of course, I'd heard them as soon as they entered my cave, but there's a certain formality to such proceedings that I like to uphold.  The brave adventurers rouse the slumbering beast...

Not that I had been asleep, mind you.  No, just resting my eyes.

There was a hint of daylight around the cave's entrance, but it didn't penetrate beyond that.  I allowed myself a moment to sit up comfortably before booming out, "Who disturbs my rest?" and exhaling upwards a breath of fire.  The flames danced among the stalactites, kept alive by a modest spell, and I studied my visitors in the flickering illumination.

It was probably not the first time they'd seen me do that trick with the flames, but they seemed suitably impressed none-the-less.  There were two of them, both human.  The man looked the way a mountain would if you oiled up its muscles and strapped a battleaxe on its back.  The woman was as sleek and poised as a tiger, but with more blonde hair and fewer stripes.

They were old friends of mine, Conrag and Sendra, adventurers from the Western Plains.

"It is I, Brak," said the man.

"And I, Kinja," the woman added.

Well, when you've been mentoring adventurers for as long as I have, they do all start to look the same.  Of course, Conrag and Sendra hadn't visited me in a very long time.  Thinking about it, they'd probably been dead for centuries.

Still, Brak and Kinja weren't a bad pair as adventurers go.  They had a clear sense of right and wrong, and had proved many times to be tough and courageous.  Intelligence may not have been their strong point, but then they could always come to me for that.

"Brak and Kinja," I said.  "Welcome.  I sense you have come on a matter of some urgency."

"We bring grave news, Mighty Yordrak," said Kinja.  "The sorcerer Salaxar has found the Crystals of Darkhope."

"He has them in his tower at Flame Peak," said Brak, "and three days from now will use them to open a gateway into the Shadow Realms."

The trouble with evil necromancers is that they just won't stay dead.  Adventurers like Brak and Kinja may come and go over the years, but Salaxar is not a name I'll ever get the chance to forget.

"Then the fate of the world is in your hands," I said.  "The crystals must be shattered and cast into the Depthless Sea.  Along with Salaxar's body, if you can manage it."

Kinja nodded.  "Yes, of course," she said.  "But there may be... problems."

"Blood orcs," said Brak.  "An army of five hundred guard Salaxar's tower night and day."

"But you've defeated such an army single-handed before," I said.  "Between the two of you I wouldn't think it much of a problem."

"Well... there's also the volcano," said Kinja, with a glance at Brak.  "Salaxar's tower, you see, floats in a magical bubble over the lake of fire, only joined to earth by a bridge of melting ice less than one hand wide."

"So, much like the storm demon's fortress you raided last year then?  Quite a bit easier in fact, since you won't have to worry about any lightning hawks this time."  It wasn't like Brak and Kinja to back away from a challenge, particularly when all human life was threatened.  "Is there anything else?"

"Uh, well..." said Brak, and he looked at Kinja.

Kinja sighed, and took a sheet of parchment from her pack.  She held it up for me to see.  "These have been stuck up in every town and village within thirty leagues of Flame Peak."

It was a poster featuring a rather fetching portrait of Brak and Kinja standing by the pile of treasure they had liberated from the storm demon.  At the top were the words Free Gold!  At the bottom, Stop us and ask for your share.

"Ah," I said.  "I see."

"We can't move!" cried Brak.  "Everywhere we go, they're blocking our way - crowds of people!  We'll never get to Flame Peak in time!"

"Please, Mighty Yordrak," said Kinja.  "Can you help us?"

"Hmm," I said.  "Yes, I think I see a way.  What you need is -"  I left a suitable pause to heighten the sense of drama.  "- a disguise!"

Brak grunted.

"Well, it's just..." Kinja said.  "We were sort of hoping you could maybe make all the posters vanish with a spell."

"Or fly us straight up to Flame Peak," said Brak.  "It doesn't need to be all the way to the tower.  Just past all the people."

"What's wrong with a disguise?" I asked.

"Erm, well, we've tried disguises in the past," said Brak, looking a little sheepish.

"We're not very good at them," said Kinja.  "It's the accents, I think.  We can never do the accents."

I had to laugh.  "Now really," I said.  "I think I can do something better for you than a change of clothes and a silly voice.  What I have in mind is very rare, very potent magic."  Adventurers love it when I use the M-word.  "Magic that will let you pass unrecognised before even the most careful observer.

"Now, let me just find the things..."

People have remarked that my cave is a little untidy, but I always know where everything is.

Everything is in a great pile that I sleep on.

It took me a bit of digging, but eventually I had the two small boxes.  I held the first out to Brak, and gestured for him to open it.

His face was filled with awe as he gently lifted out the artefact.  He held it up before him, and turned it slowly.  It was clear that he didn't have the faintest idea what to do with it.

I thought it best to intervene before he decided that the magic needed to be ingested.  "Here, allow me."  My claws may be large, but I have a very delicate touch.  Brak barely flinched as I put the disguise on him.

Kinja shrieked.  "What have you done with Brak?  Who is that man?"

I chuckled.  "I told you it would -"

"Oof!"  Brak was struggling to get up off the floor.  He'd spun around to look for the intruder Kinja had seen, and had somehow managed to get his boot tangled up in the straps of his battleaxe.

"Ah," I said.  "Yes, that reminds me.  When dealing with magic this strong, there are often side-effects.  In your case, Brak, you may find that the disguise makes you..."  I tried to find a delicate way of putting it.  "...clumsy.  It might be better if you didn't do anything too athletic while wearing it."  At least to most people he'd hardly be worth picking a fight with while he looked like that.  Another side-effect.

"Now you, Kinja."  I gave her the second box.  She took out the artefact and put on her disguise.

"Well?"  She turned to Brak.  "How do I look?"

Brak had his hand tight over his mouth.  I thought it best not to give him time to reply.  "Now, Kinja, in your case I suspect that the magic of the disguise will prevent you from utilising your feminine glamour."  She looked blank.  "That is, your ability to command men."  That got through.  "Perhaps you should test it."

Brak was fiddling with his disguise, trying to get comfortable.  Kinja locked eyes with him, flicked back her hair, and held out the empty box her disguise had been in.  She dropped it on the floor.

"Pick that up for me," she said.

"Pick it up yourself!" said Brak.

Kinja gasped.

"Well, I think that proves it," I said.  "Now then, the two of you will need to get used to how each other looks in disguise.  If you get separated, you'll need to know who you're looking for, yes?  And don't take the disguises off unless -  Kinja?  There'll be time for that later if you don't mind."

She had picked up a book on Far Northern literature from my pile, and was reading intently.  Another side-effect.  I wondered how many others I was forgetting.

I carefully took the book from her, and started shooing the pair of them towards the cave entrance.  "You're ready for the journey to Flame Peak, I believe.  Time's short, so you must head there directly.  Be sure to give my regards to Salaxar.  Oh, unless there's something else?  Brak?"  The man had an expression on his face that I'd never expected to see there.  He appeared to be thinking.

"Mighty Yordrak," he began.  "I...  I mean, we...  it's just...  these disguises..."  There was a pause, then he blurted out, "Do we look like freaks?"

I wanted to laugh, but he seemed so sincere.  "Brak," I said.  "You know all the people in the world?  The ones who aren't heroes?  The ones who have never defeated an evil sorcerer?  That's what the disguises make you look like.  They make you look ordinary."

We made our farewells at the cave entrance, and I watched them from there as they walked to their horses.  I thought it best not to go any closer.  The sight of the horses was making me peckish, and I think the horses knew that.

It took three attempts for Brak to mount his horse, which Kinja seemed to find amusing.  I was too far away to hear what he said to her, but I suspect it concerned some aspect of her transformed appearance.  From her expression, I don't think she was going to let that go any time soon.

I watched them ride away until they were specks in the distance.  Which reminded me of another side-effect.

Ah well, it probably wouldn't be important.

"Eyesight," I muttered to myself as I turned back into my cave.  "They'll have better eyesight."

Offline Lionwalker

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Re: October 2012 Writing Contest
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2012, 02:41:02 PM »
Well.....here it is. Idlewilder and I challenged each other to write something different. His challenge to me was write an Old English-style fairy tale. Here it is...

THE PRINCE’S MASK

  The Prince was born and the Kingdom celebrated. The waddled babe was held up and the People cheered, for it was the King and Queen’s first born, and a holiday had been declared. Far below the balcony where the King and Queen preened, the People remarked to one another how beautiful they appeared and how the Prince was lucky to have been born to them and what a beautiful child he was and what powerful lungs he had to bellow so loudly.

  The Prince’s first birthday was again met with much happiness but quieter celebration for many births had been recorded in the last months. It had been a happy year with many unexpected marriages. The Prince was a blessing to the Kingdom.

  The new children were cause for much joy to the Castle as the Prince had many friends and the halls were filled with laughter and play.

  After a few years of this the Prince noticed his friends had become much taller than him and oft changed clothes due to the vagaries of such spurts of growth. His clothes remained the same, for he had so many he did not wear them out.

  He asked of his mother, the Queen. “Why do my clothes not shrink like the other children’s?” She stroked his face and told him why. “You are the Prince. You are special. Your clothes will never shrink.” The Prince did not like this. “I should like my clothes to shrink. And why do the other children appear so much taller than me?” The King and Queen did not like this. The Prince was special and could not be made less than the People’s children.

  The Prince was given cakes and sweets and all manner of delicious things because he was so special and soon the Prince found his clothes ill-fitted and when he went to play with his friends he found he had new friends, and he was taller than them all. He asked his parents, the King and Queen, what had happened?  “You are such a clever boy,” they told him sweetly, “you deserve a reward.” In a grand ceremony he was presented with his first sword and told he was to be a Knight as well as a Prince. He would be the best Knight the Kingdom had ever had for he was the Prince.

  The Call went out and heroes journeyed from far and wide to gain the privilege of being the Prince’s trainer. In a Grand Combat the heroes saluted the Prince who sat between the King and Queen upon the balcony and did assail one another until one Hero was victorious. The Prince did notice that many of the People were larger by far than he was. He asked his parents, the King and Queen, why this was so? “You are special because you are the Prince. And there are many who would be jealous of you. Who better to guard you than Giants? And who else could rule a land of Giants, but you, the Prince? For they are very fearsome and you are very brave.’ They told him. The Prince felt fear for the first time when he saw he was surrounded by Giants, but when he saw they obeyed him readily and were still the People he realized he was special, for truly, who else could so easily control Giants?

  The Prince did attend the Hero and receive training, but soon found himself tired and the world spinning and his bed beckoning. The Servants rushed to call his parents, the King and Queen, and they put him into his bed and told him he had been poisoned. He felt fear for the second time, but they told him how special and how strong he was so the poison could not harm him. He knew they spoke the truth when that same day he felt much better with only a little stiffness to show for his battle with the poison. The source of which was never revealed to him.

  The King and Queen came to him with much dismay and said the Hero had been called to a Quest.  “But how shall I be a Knight with no Hero?” he cried. “Do not worry,” they told him, “you are already a Knight. The Hero told us so before he left.” They presented him with his armour, he remarked how much thinner it was than the knights’ armour he had seen and did not seem to cover so much of his body. “Do not worry. You are the Prince, and you are special and so you have magic armour. Would you rather have common armour?” they asked. The Prince was horrified. He was special; he could never wear anything common! He took his magic armour and did practice battle against the guard of the King and Queen and found he was truly a knight for so easily did he vanquish them. Barely a stroke and they collapsed to the ground, he did feel the poison again, but knew himself to be strong and did not fear it. Whenever he felt the poison he took himself to bed.

  As he grew older he found many a maid eager to join him in his bedchambers, and their ecstatic cries were a source of much pride to him, even if he did not know their cause. They told him how special he was and how no one else had ever been like him. He knew this was so, for he was the Prince. 
 
  The Prince became a man and found he had accomplished all he had set out to do. Except the one thing that he had kept secret for himself, something he had always yearned to do. The Prince waited for a Quest to appear, a feat only he could accomplish, a Monster only he could vanquish. After waiting for several years he grew tired of keeping his secret and shared his heart’s desire with his parents, the King and Queen. They told him to be patient and that a Quest challenging enough to be worthy of the Prince’s skills was rare indeed. The Prince understood that and tried to be patient. Fortunately, a Messenger arrived not two days later. A Dragon had stolen a Princess, he was told after the Messenger had left. The Prince knew he had found his Quest. “Lead me to its Lair,” he cried loudly and shook his sword that was smaller than all others because it was a magic sword.

  The Dragon was truly fearsome in its cave. The Prince stood before the entrance and heard the beast’s roars and saw the glow of its flames. He felt fear for the third time, but he heeded his parents, the King and Queen, when they said he was special and had no need of light or seeing to defeat the Dragon. The Prince knew he was special and rushed forth to do battle with the beast. In the blackness of the cave he swung his sword and screamed his challenge and felt his strikes crash against the beast’s body, which was as hard as stone. The Dragon’s cries, coming from a head far back in the cave, grew quieter until at last there was silence and the Prince knew he had defeated it. His magic blade was dented yet he had not a single wound. The King and Queen declared a Celebration in his honour. The Princess was rescued and he took her back to the Castle.

  The Prince and Princess married soon after. The Princess was truly beautiful with hair like sunlight and the face of a goddess. She told him everyday how special he was and how no man could ever compare to him. The Prince knew this to be true, for his parents, the King and Queen, had said as much to him many times before.

  It came that time of year when the night was longest and the People held a Celebration to throw back the winter. The Princess said to the Prince. “You should go among them.” The Prince said, “But how will they know who I am, for everyone must wear masks.” She said, “You are special, even without seeing your face, all shall be in awe of you, for you are special.” The Prince agreed and decided to attend the People’s Celebration.

  He spoke to no one of his plans and the Princess promised not to tell a soul.

  The night of the Celebration, the Prince donned his mask and walked to the Village where the People were celebrating. He found his way to a tavern where he stood in the door expectantly until someone shouted at him to step inside and stop letting the night in. The voice had been rude and addressed him as idiot. The Prince felt surprise, but knew the power of drink could make men act as they ordinarily would not.

  He took a cup of ale from the serving maid and challenged the nearest man to a drinking contest, for he had always had a strong stomach. The man accepted and they faced off to roars of approval. The Prince opened his mouth and poured the ale into his mouth and tasted something awful. It was like the ale he had always had, but far stronger, as a hill to a mountain. The laughter at his coughing hurt him sorely. He sat and pondered what had happened. He listened to the People and heard someone mention the Prince. It was a man retelling the story of the Dragon, yet it was wrong. The man laughed and told of how he had been the voice of the dragon and how difficult it had been not to laugh as the Prince had swung his sword like a mad person attacking the walls of the cave. The Prince moved to rebuke him when he remembered he was wearing his Mask. He would have to prove he was special all over again, in one night.

  He challenged a bear of a man to wrestle. He was surprised when he found himself on the floor with the other man sitting on top of him.

  He challenged an off-duty Guard to a sword fight with wooden sticks. He was worried when he found himself beaten on the backside to the great merriment of those watching.

  He convinced a girl to join him in a hayloft. He was humiliated when she laughed when he showed her how special he was.

  The Prince realised his Mask was too good at hiding how special he was and wanted to take it off, but knew his parents, the King and Queen, would be angry with him should they find he had gone to the Celebration in secret. 

  Feeling the poison in him and fearful that with the Mask on he would not be so strong, the Prince rushed back to the Castle and into his bed where he ripped off his Mask and threw it out the window.

  The Prince never covered his face again and he was special for the rest of his days.

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Offline simonster

Re: October 2012 Writing Contest (Voting Now Open)
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2012, 07:09:12 PM »
Oh look!  Voting is open!

(Just a cheeky bump to make this thread show up in the 'recent posts' list ;) )

Offline simonster

Re: October 2012 Writing Contest (Voting Now Open)
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2012, 08:58:39 AM »
Public Service Announcement:
There's one week left to vote.

Offline Lor

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Re: October 2012 Writing Contest (Voting Now Open)
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2012, 11:14:00 AM »
Congratualtions to Lionwalker!

And apologies for it being a day late! :D
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye." - Miss Piggy