June 03, 2020, 09:38:31 PM


Who is your favourite this month?

Lionwalker (Brother's Lament)
4 (30.8%)
Mordekai (Elf Book)
1 (7.7%)
Stratagem (The Cave of the Old Gray Brothers)
0 (0%)
David Bridger (The Orphan Age)
1 (7.7%)
zrwilliams (Geri and Freki)
0 (0%)
Idlewilder (Ell and Dee)
6 (46.2%)
Simonster (Brothers vs Sisters)
1 (7.7%)

Total Members Voted: 13

Voting closed: October 31, 2012, 04:18:52 PM

Author Topic: September 2012 Writing Challenge [Voting Now Open]  (Read 9967 times)

Offline Lor

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September 2012 Writing Challenge [Voting Now Open]
« on: September 10, 2012, 08:09:29 PM »
Apologies for this being a little late this month guys, there's been a temporary changing of the guard ;)

A friend is a brother who was once a bother. - Unknown

For better or for worse, siblings are a huge part of the lives of those who have them. They can be your best friend, your biggest nemesis, the one who drives you to do your best just to prove them wrong, or the first person you want to tell any secret.

Throughout history there have been great tales of sibling teams and rivalries; after all, no one knows how to hurt you quite like the ones you love.

Your challenge this month is to write a short story or scene in which that sibling bond, in whatever form, is central.

The rules are as follows:

1. Must be prose.
2. 1,500 - 2,000 words.
3. It doesn't have to be a fairy tale, but you can write one if you like ;)

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

Contest ends September 30th!

Good luck!
« Last Edit: September 30, 2012, 07:37:54 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

Offline simonster

Re: September 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2012, 09:41:58 PM »
3. Must be a fairy tale.
Is this intentional?  Or is the August Challenge rising up from the grave to eat our brains?

Apologies for this being a little late this month guys, there's been a temporary changing of the guard ;)
Congratulations on the new job!  Or sorry to hear that you're being punished for something.  (Delete as appropriate. ;) )

Offline Lor

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Re: September 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2012, 09:56:20 PM »
Yes, rule 3 is a mistake, guess what I forgot to take out when I  copied the rules over ;) I will fix it when I'm not trying to work from a hopeless phone.

EDIT: fixed rule 3 ;)
« Last Edit: September 10, 2012, 10:30:40 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

Offline Idlewilder

Re: September 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2012, 05:55:37 PM »
This might be a really daft question, but: Does the entry have to be SFF? I know this is fantasy faction, but I struggle to write a convincing SFF story in as few as 2000 words. I always end up doing too much (creating a world, magic system etc...). However I do have a few ideas on short stories that aren't SFF of this length.

Still giving it a go, but I'm not sure whether it should be SFF or not.
Make Another World.

Offline Lor

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Re: September 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2012, 06:04:09 PM »
Some elements if you can manage it. It doesn't have to be a complete story, just a scene if that makes it easier :) the one I'm working on is just a scene, because explaining the Shil'harrels in that amount of words will never happen! :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

Offline Idlewilder

Re: September 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2012, 06:07:10 PM »
Some elements if you can manage it. It doesn't have to be a complete story, just a scene if that makes it easier :) the one I'm working on is just a scene, because explaining the Shil'harrels in that amount of words will never happen! :D

Hmmm... something in my pre-existing world will have to do then.  ;)
Make Another World.

Offline Lor

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Re: September 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2012, 09:29:50 PM »
Ok, this isn't going up for the vote, but I felt it was time to get this underway, and I just really wanted to use these three in a piece again. :)

   Eva was sitting at the tavern table, staring off into space as she idly played with one of her ginger dreadlocks. There was a band torturing some instruments on the stage, but they weren’t holding her interest. Jem had disappeared off upstairs with the blacksmith’s apprentice he had been seeing, pretty little thing she was, so Eva had the evening to herself. To daydream, it seemed.

   She jumped as a tattooed hand placed a tankard in front of her, and its owner, in the tattiest uniform she’d see him in for a long while, dropped into the seat opposite her. She sniffed the tankard, and satisfied that it only contained water, lifted it to her lips with a nod of thanks.

   “Oh Tarak, Mama would tan your hide for that uniform if she saw you.”

   “Mama would tan my arse for being kicked out of the Fleet, so she would.”

   She lowered the tankard, staring wide-eyed at her big brother. “You are fucking joking me?”

   He shook his head as he took a swallow of his ale, coughing as he choked on it. Eva sat back in her chair, staring at him. Her eyebrows furrowed as her eyes travelled down from his neatly bearded face to his torn uniform, and the recent cuts on his arms. He’d been dishonourably discharged alright.

   She had just opened her mouth to ask him what had happened, when the main door slammed open, and the band ground to a startled halt. Tarak looked up over her head, and grinned. “Here we go…”

   “Shil’harrel! We need to have words!”

   Eva groaned, leaning forward to rest her head on the table. She kept it there as boots came stomping closer,  the band taking up their playing once more as the chair to her left slid out, and a body sat down rather heavily. She felt fists thump into the table beside her head, and she sat up just enough to identify them as Berit’s. The missing pinkie finger always gave him away.

   “Hi Berit, how you been doing? Better than Tarak?”

   “I…wait, what has Tarak done?”

   Eva sat up, arched eyebrow mocking her second brother; two coconuts short of a shy had been their father’s favourite way to describe this one. “Look at him. Dishonourably discharged, he’s joined the fallen side.”

   Berit stared at his brother for a moment, and then broke out into his gruff chuckle, extending his maimed hand for him to shake. “Congratulations. Knew you were too good to last.”

   “Yeah, well, couldn’t let you two have all the fun.” He raised his tankard in a mock-toast, and nodded to Eva with a smirk before taking a mouthful. “So, what has Eva done to piss you off this time.”

   “Oh yeah. Where the fuck is my ship?”

   She kept her face blank as she looked at him, mentally thanking the gods that he was only her adopted brother, and that she had been blessed with better looks than him. It would make her next statement sting all the more.
“I’ll tell you where it is if you tell me where my girlfriend is.”

   “Fuck off!”

   She nodded, still looking at Berit, but addressing Tarak. “This scumbag took her and buggered off who knows where. I think a ship is fair hostage until he tells me where the fuck she is!” It was more of a hiss than she had intended, but it had the appropriate effect; it rendered Berit  speechless. She turned back to the table, and took a mouthful from her drink again, fighting down her temper.

   Silence hung over them for a moment, broken only when Berit got to his feet and stomped off to the bar to get himself a drink. Eva sighed as he left, which set Tarak off laughing again.

   “You two never got any better as you got older, did you? You were exactly the same at home.”

   “Oh yeah, like when he held me over the edge of the roof by my ankle? Or when he threw me off the cliff into the sea when he knew I was only just learning to swim? He’s been an arse to me the whole time I’ve been there, Tarak, I had to stand up for myself eventually!”

   “By bringing the Fleet down on the pair of you? Fucking great idea that!”

   She glared at him for a second, then turned her attention towards the stage, where the band were finally breaking down, and her favourite singer was prepping her harp before her set. Tarak was making disgruntled noises on the other side of the table, but she ignored him. She’d become rather good at that in the orphanage.

   Berit finally made his way back to the table, fist clenched around the handle of his tankard, ugly face still set in the frown he had left with. Eva ignored him too as he took his set, and muttered something to Tarak, before their vessels clinked together.

   “So, Eva…”

   The bar around them fell silent, and all three of them looked round. Standing in the doorway was a Fleet Captain, until today one of Tarak’s colleagues. He didn’t look happy, and when his eyes took in the Shil’harrel trio, the line of his mouth hardened further still.

   “Tarak, Berit and Eva Shil’harrel, by order of Fleet High Captain Morgan Shan’brasik himself, all three of you are to come with me.”

   Eva and Tarak exchanged a quick look, and then both turned their gaze on Berit, who immediately held up both hands. “Don’t look at me, I didn’t bring them here!”

   She sighed, shaking her head as she got to her feet, Tarak downing the last of his drink as he followed suit. Berit groaned as he stood, back to the guard. “So, usual drill?”

   “Sounds good to me.” Eva flashed a grinned, and bolted, leaping the bar to the sound of the
waitresses’ startled yelps. She slipped into the kitchen, winking to old Belick as she scooped up one of his fresh rolls on her way past.

   “One of these days you kids will come in without trouble on your tails.”

   “Come off it, you’d die of shock! Cheers Belick!”

   “Take care Eva!”

   She peeked around the back door before she left, spotting a streak she assumed to be Tarak streaking past in the main street, followed by the clattering guard. She grinned again, took a bite of her roll, and set off down the narrow alleyway at a trot.

   Same drill as always; Tarak would draw them off, he was the sprinter. Berit would be waiting nearby their hideaway for any that managed to keep up, ready not make sure they didn’t remember anything when they came down. And as she set her fingers into the cracks in a wall, roll stuffed in her mouth, she reminded herself that she needed to get up onto the roof as soon as she could. She was the lookout, to watch out for any signs of the guards learning their tactics…

   Her foot slipped on a loose slate, and she fell, sliding down to the edge of the roof, her boot crashing into the gutter. She rolled onto her back, groaning, clutching at her ribs. “You stupid bitch…”

   Once she’d got her breath back, she scrambled to her feet, and took off, cursing at herself. She heard gunshots up ahead, and skidded to a halt; the guard had never shot at them before…

   She set off again, towards where she could see a plume of smoke rising between the buildings. It looked too much like where Berit should be for her liking. After what felt like an eternity running through syrup she made it to the roof above the smoke, and crept, crouched down, to the edge.

   Berit was there alright, as was Tarak, the two of them standing backs to the wall, hands up by their heads. The Fleet Captain and one of his minions stood with their backs to Eva, guns pointed at the two boys.

   “…running from the High Captain, you think it will end well?”

   Tarak’s eyes flickered up to Eva, and then back to the captain; she knew he’d be fighting hard to keep his expression schooled. Well, no guards were going to point guns at her brothers and get away with it.

   She pulled a chainmail glove from one of the pouches on her belt; Berit had given it to her when he had taught her how to get out of a bar brawl. She yanked it on to her left hand, flexed her fingers for a moment, and then curled the hand into a fist. That captain would be sleeping well tonight.

   Pulling a knife from her belt, she pried up a slate, and slid it quietly to the edge of the roof, so it was balanced just above the little minion’s head.


   The Fleetmen both looked up at the same time, and she pounced. The slate cracked into the sailor’s face, breaking his nose and knocking him out cold. Eva herself jumped on the captain, mailed fist smashing into his temple, his crumpled body breaking her fall as they both hit the ground. She got to her feet and ripped the glove off, massaging her knuckles. “Ow!”

   The boys just stared at her for a long moment, and then slowly lowered their hands. “What the fuck was that?”

   “Would you rather they had shot you?” She bent down to pick up her glove, still shaking her hand to get feeling back. She caught Berit’s grin as she tucked it back into her pouch and straightened. “We going to get out of here before their mates come along?”

   “Lead the way madam.” Tarak gave her a mock bow, still a little pale.

   She took his arm, and they set off down the street, Berit sticking the boot into the guards once for good measure behind them. Some things would never change.
"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 Lionwalker

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Re: September 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2012, 12:02:38 PM »
Alrighty then. Seeing as this is my first jaunt into the competition or showing my stuff publicly, I decided to write something special and different for the occasion.
It's rather baroque and over-written but that's what I was going for, and it's my first attempt at writing in present-tense.
Hope you enjoy.

Brother’s Lament

   Twisted iron gates wrought far in the past; maker’s marks long since rusted away. Above, right above, on broken pedestals of brick and mortar, sit two guardians on crumbling mounts. The decaying brothers stare out from heavy-lidded somnolence. Their bodies pitted and stained with the effluence of their urban mother and her raucous attendants who coo and crow from clawed perches.

   A visitor at the gates.

   Metal strains and squeals. The iron brothers turn oxide gazes down into the street. A fleshy pedestrian begs entrance into their realm, into the abandoned edifice they guard.

   “May I enter?” Wide eyes from an iodine face. A paper flutters hesitantly from a raised fist.

   Confusion. Brother Left arches forward torturing metal from accustomed pose and age-old comfort. With surprising tenderness – for a many-tonne statue should not show such care – his riveted beak retrieves the claiming paper.

   Ember eyes absorb words oh so formally printed.

   Brother Right shifts taloned feet revealing a sliver of unblemished brick. Rumbling disapproval at the disruption to their quiescent existences.

   Still day dies. Night dawns amidst flat-lit street lamps buzzing and flickering into timorous life.

   The fires within Brother Left flare, warming him as he considers his sibling; such a grumbler!

   The man steps back as burnished beaks slide closer.

   Sold? Unused, broken, almost: Brother Left’s voice grates across the barren pavement.

   “Yes, this is my land now.” The man’s undaunting chest pushes out ineffectually. “From tomorrow, you and all that is behind you are mine.”

   We are yours? Brother Right’s voice rumbles into life, a waking mountain.

   “Yes, and I will come in now. To look over my new acquisition.” 

   Some instinct demands denial within Brother Left as he sees the changes in the man claiming to be master. Trembling fingers have stilled, steps forward taken, a note of command enters his voice.

   No. The effort the word requires is almost too much. He and his brother were cast guardians as authority embodied and to deny it was a difficult thing. Only tomorrow. His hollow iron lungs fill with imagined gasps as he struggles to finish. If you cross our border, you shall be a trespasser. Metal creaks as Brother Left rises in proud salute to his own acquired dominion.

   “Stupid birds, insouciant flutter-byes,” hisses the man as he steps backward. He knows full well the power of the guardians and the danger of being declared a trespass. “Look around, you are alone. Holding to old ways, you fashionable anachronisms. You have a magic, I’ll grant you that, and so I shall give you your night, for tomorrow, it is mine.”

   His words call Brother Left and with little choice he sees the world around him.

   Sand-withered brick slumps up walls where once it shone golden, the garrulous gargoyles were gone from their perches; the sculptured lions no longer languidly survey the street. All that is left are the traces of the past held within stone roses and granite butterflies.

   Brother Right moans like an ancient timber falling alone at the centre of a desolated forest. How long have we slept? His wrenching cry smothers the street. A lamp bursts into candescence and shatters. raining frozen petals to the mossy slabs below.

   “Till tomorrow, my new friends. “ The man backs away somehow suggesting a bow.

   He disappears in the gloom.

   Brother! Is our mandate complete? Brother Right’s noble brow leans to the side as he fixes upon Brother Left.

   It could be. What would we do with such freedom? I find the thought of once again standing guard to be a weighty anchor, yet not unwelcome. The years stretch ahead, only this time filled with the noisy chatter of life, and Brother Left finds anticipation awakening within.

   You have always borne such burdens far more easily than I. The patina on Brother Right’s raptorial face condenses into a swamp of green and brown as he looks upon his sibling companion with everlasting affection.

   The hollows within Brother Left’s chest expand to cavernous dimensions. Aching. You must go then, brother. I shall never be the chain around your neck.

   You wish me gone?
Brother Right’s mournful tone freezes the dead night.

   Never, brother! Not gone, but away. For a time. Find a resting scaffold in a distant city. Fly far and feel the morning light upon your back and spreading wings. I shall be here, waiting for you. Your place with me shall always abide.

   Brother Right’s coal eyes brighten as he gazes starwards.

   Brother Left considers losing him. Such a presence he had. What would it be like to turn and find vacant space where once had been his brother? The decades of changes and noise riot through his metal mind as he recalls their years together. Go, my brother. Sing me back all you experience when you return to me.

   The iron brothers share comforting memories as the starry night slides away above them.

   Dawn rises and its chorus rumbles inharmoniously as the city wakes. The black stepped skyline cuts chaotically sideways against the coronal sky.

   Goodbye, my brother. Brother Right spreads his wings and Brother Left matches his movements. Concordant squeals as metal stretches, from either side their wingtips draw closer and with the delicacy of glass tapped for a toast, they touch in farewell.

   A shudder runs through them as they experience contact for the first time in a century.

   Brother Right leaps into the sky; the air hums with the corrugated cadence of iron wing beats. Higher, further, now smaller; Brother Right disappears into memory. For now.

   The hour arrives, and with it the man.

   Stretching behind him like a monstrous shadow a line of hulking and hissing automata obscured by screaming clouds of steam and shivering the potholed pavement with each ponderous step. Forced to life with piston-beat hearts, lacking the elegant humours flowing through the brothers, these wind-up ephemera seemed rude constructs. Brother Left – how truly he was now named – observed their arrival with distaste.

   “Do you like my workers, guardian of the gates?” The man’s voice cut through the brittle morning and raised copper-petalled feathers on Brother Left’s back like the hackles on a dog drawing in the scent of an intruder.

   I do not. Poor simulacrums, needing to be wound into life, tottering forward to collapse with the crack of a single bolt.

   The man sighs a fogged breath, whisked away in the breeze. “You are right there. They are flawed, imperfect attempts to recreate you!” With that last sharp word, the man slices his hand through the air.

   Hidden men emerge from corners and hurry along red-bricked walls. Brother Left looks curiously at those approaching, wondering at the silly actions of men, when bulky bundles appear in their hands. He recognises the nets and fear burns cold along his metal skin. Why-

   The woven nets are tossed and Brother Left screams as their touch eats away at him. Woven from vines recently enough to still contain life, they are a harness of nature made to hold a construct of metal.

   He is helpless as the men drag him from his pedestal. Regret fills him as his unyielding body gouges the pavement – he has damaged the property.
Dragged inside with grunts of men and screeches of metal he struggles feebly. Why?

   “You were right that these engines are failures, my failures. Until they live like you they will never be enough. Rejoice, you shall birth a whole family. An impossible dream for you that I will gift you.”

   Heaved through gaping doors, Brother Left stares skywards. Windows above glow red like possessed eyes; the furnaces burn for the first time in decades.
Brother Left enters the foundry that birthed him so long ago.

   As they hoist him on rattling chains to swing gently above a bubbling molten cauldron, Brother Left wishes he could close his eyes, but no, as a guardian his was the burden to ever be watching. He seeks comfort with his brother, and finds anguish at the knowledge he would be leaving him alone. When Brother Right returns he hopes he would understand and not imagine himself abandoned. Perhaps these abominable offspring he was to engender would provide some solace, some replacement.

   Pain of absence sears through him as he slides into the volcanic broth; below that hypnotic shifting pattern of yellow and orange he slowly ceases to exist.

   Brother Left looks for the sky and imagines himself soaring with his brother. At least one of them would experience that.

   Half of him gone now.

   A shadow flickers at the window occluding the unblemished blue outside.

   A curved beak tap-taps for attention.

   Brother Right has returned!

   But, there is nothing to be done. There is little left of Brother Left but a proud eagle’s head hanging limp in chains. His oxide gaze is content, however, as it rests on his brother. He is not alone for these last moments.

   Whether from condensing steam or metal sweating, a single droplet shivers on Brother Left’s cheek.

   The last descent, the water drop bursts into nothingness.

   Empty, the chains rattle.
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Offline Mordekai

Re: September 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2012, 12:35:23 PM »
Here's something from my short story anthology WIP; "Tales from The Rat and Dagger"

I've had to do a quick revision to make it fit as the characters were originally just friends, and it was about 4500 words... so apologies if it feels abridged.

Elf Book

Byren Maclaern was approaching his two hundredth birthday. At home it would have been marked by a simple ceremony where he gave thanks to the Gods for his life, and a prayer to the effect that, by their grace, he would enjoy seeing another year through... That was back home though, and Elves had a more understated way of celebrating birthdays than the humans he now lived among.

Maybe it's because they live such short lives? They celebrate simply making it through another year without getting themselves killed

He'd considered this, but then also reflected that it wasn't simply birthdays that had humans celebrating enthusiastically. Any old anniversary seemed to warrant a celebration. It was odd to most elves that the thing humans rarely got excited about were funerals, and they always seemed to be full of misery. Elven funerals, whilst very respectful and steeped in tradition, always culminated in indulgent celebration of the life of the one who had died. A communal eulogy and remembrance, as family would excitedly talk of their early lives, and friends and colleagues would tell of the later achievements, culminating in the story of their life being committed to the fabirc of the community. Elven society tended away from celebrations of the self while it was still a work in progress, and life was measured on its final tally rather than brief flashes of achievement.

He didnt like humans, he hadnt liked them for amost a hundred years, since all his childhood illusions of them had been shattered.
His father was a book binder on the Island of Kallini, in High Elven Triumverate, and as children Byren and his twin brother, Bronn, had read all the books their father worked with.

Elves were great poets, but were not great crafters of fiction. An Elven Bard could could find a dozen or more ways to describe a flower's beauty, but coudn't envisage dramatic scenes that were untrue. All the great Elven tales were of real people, who had done real things, rescued real princesses and slain real dragons.

So, when Byren and Bronn read of the noble deeds of human heroes in the epic works of human literature they were overcome with the skills, nobility, and strength of character displayed by the human heroes.

When the mists had faded, and unveiled the Lost Island of Trojel, and it was announced that the elves would work with the humans of the continent to the East to explore and repopulate the place, Byren and Bronn had been among the first to volunteer to venture forth and work with the humans.

This was when the problems began for Byren.
There was something about the humans he met that didnt quite live up to those in the stories.
They weren't noble, not one bit. In fact most were down right ignoble. Mostly, they were low on morality, high on greed, and rarely enjoyed the pleasure of soap.
It took some time for the brothers to realise the reasons for the disparity between humans of legend, and the real thing.

Humans revered lying!

It wasnt that elves didn't or couldn't lie, or were ignorant of falsehood and so on, they just didnt like to do it. Lying was as wrong to an elf as swearing at Calandexian Priests should be to a human, (though Byren had even seen plenty of humans prepared to do that).

It was Bronn who noticed it first. The brothers had been living in Malaratos Cove, when the election of the town representative to the Commercial Council of Tasskurr happened. After the victor had been inaugurated and not lived up to one single promise in six months, Bronn declared that the best liar had won, and that must be what had won it for them.
Humans love a liar!

All the stories they had read as boys were lies, told by professional, expert liars. No more no less...

And this was when the brothers had fundamentally disagreed for the first time in their lives.
The fact that humans could happily allow someone to lie to them and then reward them by putting them in charge, fascinated Bronn, and he wanted to study it to help him understand humans.

Byren wanted to slap some sense into them.

So, following a stint together in the military where Elves had assisted humans during a period known as "The Vampire War" the brothers went their seperate ways, promising to each learn more about humanity, and ultimately return to the Triumverate together and write a book. They had already even decided on the title, "The Truth about Humans".

They met up regularly and exchanged notes, and findings, and this evening they were to meet at the Rat and Dagger Tavern in Taskkurr, a town on Trojels east coast

Byren had reached a conclusion, and he needed to discuss it with his brother.


Bronn Maclaern had been working for the militia in Tasskurr for three years, and was one of the best officers Chief Harlan had ever had.

This elf is a walking truth finder, dont bother lying to him, because the Gods have given him power!

The chief would begin every interrogation with those words....

There was, however, no divine influence involved. Bronn had spent the time since parting from his brother usefully... He had learned about lying.
For nearly a hundred years he had watched human interaction and learned about the intricacies of the falsehoods they span. He became aware of the similarities between liars, and how the tiniest curl of a lip, fluctuation in vocal pitch, or even a twitch of an eyelid might give away the lies that were falling from their mouths.

He could now walk among humans and know exactly who was lying to whom.
At first it had astounded him just how much it went on. They were all at it, all the time.

I'll meet you tonight...

That was a good song...

This fish was fresh out of the sea this morning...

I'll be there if you need me...

Trust me...

I love you...

Eventually Bronn had decided to put his talents to use, and while Byren went off, dismissive of the human race and it's failings, Bronn went to work...

As a militia officer he simply watched and advised as the Chief conducted interviews, and told the chief if the suspect were lying.
Currently the militia were very busy, as there was a killer on the loose who had murdered twelve people, Tasskurr was verging on panic, and the Chief dragged in anyone who seemed to walk past the Militia House doors as a "suspect," - so few clues were there.

Byren's missive to Bronn, suggesting tonight's meeting had made mention of the "dark events" and  "the cull in Tasskurr", and Bronn worried how much knowledge his brother might have of the events causing the streets to be empty by early evening.

Bronn pushed open the doors of The Rat and Dagger and was greeted by the smell of humanity at its most base. Sweat, ale and something that suggested the drains were blocked.
He walked past the main bar, and through the arch into "the best room" where there was carpet, and upholstered seating, and two bouncers at the door who nodded professional respect to a fellow "enforcer" as Bronn walked by.
He looked around and saw his brother already seated within one of the comfortable booths along the back wall.
There was already a bottle of wine, which was open, and half empty, and Bronn could see that two more bottles stood on a small stand next to Byren.

Byren stood to greet his brother and they smiled and embraced.

"You have a beard!" Bronn smiled as they finally released one another. "How did you grow a beard?"

"It's not real" Byren replied with fraternal chuckle... "I had a wizard use one of those poly-whatsit spells to put it there. It doesn't grow or anything. But I thought it might give a better idea of what goes on in their heads."

They sat opposite each other in the booth and Byren poured the wine, almost blood red, and well aged.

Bronn smiled as he took a drink, "oh, now this is nice... Jarri Valley I bet"

His brother nodded, and Bronn continued, with a smile that said, this is just SO you..."you grew a beard to understand the collective mind of humanity?"

"Not much else was working, I thought it worth a toss of the dice..." Byren shrugged and smiled back at his brother. "How about you? This militia work keeping you busy?"

"There's a lot on at the  moment, but I suspect from your note that you already know all about it" Bronn's demeanour had instantly assumed a harder edge, and he watched every movement, every twitch, and flicker on his brothers face, searching for a clue.

Byren put down his glass and stared back across the table, his eyes as cold as steel; "Please Bronn... dont try your tricks with me. If I wanted to lie to you, you know I could and you'd never know it. But of course, I'm not going to lie to you, because I dont lie! I'm not like them and neither are you! We are both better!"

"Is that why you asked to meet? To tell me that we're better than humans?" Bronn asked, finishing his first glass and pouring another, just as large.

"Of course not, why would I arrange to meet simply to say what you already know?"
 Byren tipped the last drop out of the bottle, and reached for another. "I have come to talk about dead humans"

"Any in particular?" Bronn was now worried that his brother did know about the murders, and was about to do something stupid like tell everyone.

"The ones the militia are seeking the killer of.. Tell me... what do you know of the victims. Of their lives and what led to their deaths..." Byren stared intensely at his brother who stared back...

"I think... You already know who they were" Bronn frowned, "and I only become involved with the suspects rather than the investigation"

"Humour me..." Byren smiled coldly.

"Five women, seven men. Mostly from different backgrounds, ranging from a jeweller, to a tavern bard, a couple of tradesmen, a whore... all sorts really." Bronn shrugged at his brother.

"That jeweller tricked many people out of precious heirlooms by lying, and sold them off at extortionate prices after lying about their worth. The bard sang songs of the events of The Vampire War that were borderline libellous, the traders sold shoddy goods and refused to even discuss refunds, knowing that what they had sold was faulty. And the whore? She was married, three times at the same time, and none of her husbands knew... liars, liars, liars... all liars" Byren gently placed the wine glass on the table and stood up.

He buckled his sword belt and pulled on his overcoat, Bronn rose and placed his hand on his brother's shoulder.

"What are you doing? We cant leave this unfinished Byren..." Bronn was shaking... "We need to talk about this!"

Byren turned and looked at his brother, "What is there to say? I'm saying no more about the matter ever again and after tonight I will never set foot in Tasskurr again, unless you call for me. You are my brother and I will be kind. Tonight the killing stops"

"But I thought you hated them, that you wanted them dead? Are they not all beyond redemption as you once said?" Bronn was relieved but confused at the same time.

"I never wanted anyone dead brother... just teaching the error of their ways" Byren scowled at Bronn, "So that's it! No more!"

He turned to leave; "If I can figure out that it's YOU killing them, then so can someone else!"

Byren walked out into the evening air.  
Maybe he might write a different book when he eventually got home;

...maybe; "The Truth about Brothers?
« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 05:22:18 PM by Mordekai »

Offline Stratagem

Re: September 2012 Writing Challenge THE CAVE OF THE OLD GRAY BROTHERS
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2012, 07:41:18 AM »
Here is my entry into the flash fiction contest for September. Enjoy!


"They have gathered. Xetix, look, come, and see," said Droog. Droog stretched out his lengthy gray wrinkled arm and pointed a long-nailed bony finger in the direction of the cave opening. Giant stalactites and stalagmites rimmed the opening's round ragged edges, forming a gaping stony fang covered mouth. Day was breaking, letting light creep into the southern facing cave.

"Ahhh," Xetix said, after he stepped past a stalagmite, "many have come." Xetix scraped his jagged nails across the stalagmite to sharpen them.

"They are wearing bovine flesh, Xetix," Droog said, as he caressed his soft supple garments in the gloom. Xetix mouthed at his garments. Droog looked back at Xetix after hearing no response. "Careful, Xetix, their flesh is weak. It tears." Droog glanced at the faces gracing the garments draped over Xetix.

Droog and Xetix could hear the clattering of swords against shields, the whinnying and snorting of horses, and the clamoring of soldiers. The flat rock strewn basin below the Barren Mountains was covered with lichens and moss. "Many banners are flowing in their ranks. They have come from far, Droog," Xetix said.

"Shall I call than in, Xetix?" Droog said

"I too," Xetix said. They both breathed in deeply until their lungs were swollen with air. Out in the fields beyond the cave and the mountains the soldiers heard the shrill screech of the two Old Gray Brothers echoing out of the cavern. The soldiers struggle to steady their panicking horses.

Great King Grellor decided to use this moment to charge. "Charge soldiers! Charge legions! Charge into the cave of the Old Grays!" said Great King Grellor. Soon, the soldiers turned their horses panic into a thundering gallop. Thousands of soldiers from the Ten Kingdoms of Nelglume converged on the cave. The cave opening was huge, thousands of feet in diameter.

The soldiers howled and brandished their swords in the air as they neared the cave. Great King Grellor brandished the magical sword Grend Mane. The sword was golden and glowed bright to light the way into the cave. The pommel was that of a lion head and the hilt of the sword was two lion claws.

Grend Mane was given to the great king of old, whose name had been forgotten in an ancient time beyond the reckoning of the people of Nelglume, by the Sea Witch Grendmayn, the goddess of the sublime and the bizarre. The blade of Grend Mane bore her likeness, which had the lower torso of a sea serpent, the upper torso of a female human, whose face was half beautiful and half sea serpent scaled.

Great King Grellor was the leader of the army of the Ten Kingdoms of Nelglume and if he could defeat the Old Grays he would become King of all Nelglume. Great King Grellor was at the forefront of the charge and entered the cave first. Grend Mane's magical light not only lit the cave, but also caused the Old Gray Brothers to glow bright red.

Grellor smelled the pungent stench of ten-thousand freshly slain rotting corpses, and fifty years of the Old Grays' waste as he entered the cavern. The fumes were so intense as to cause his eyes to burn, and his throat to constrict, nevertheless, he continued leading his charge unabated.

Droog and Xetix stood firm at the back of the cavern waiting for the armies to surge upon them. Grellor swung Grend Mane as Droog slashed his claws. A shower of white sparks erupted and a shrill chime rang out from the clash. Xetix was plowed into by the forefront of the other side of the charge.

Xetix's claws splintered the metal of their swords and shields and tore through the flesh of the horses and soldiers creating a great swath of blood spray with a crunching and slurping sound like the sound a steel sword might make if chopping through a wet tin roof covered with moss.

The advancing army poured in from behind Grellor and waylaid the distracted Droog. Droog turned his attentions towards the less well defended soldiers, whom did not have magical swords. Droog lunged into their ranks and did similar damage to the soldiers as did his brother.

Great King Grellor followed Droog into the bloodbath and cleaved at his back with Grend Mane. Blood squirted from Droog's back into the darkness. Droog screeched and turned back towards Grellor. Again Droog's claws and Grend Mane clashed. More advancing soldiers poured past the fallen and attacked Droog from the rear.

Xetix continued his carnage uninterrupted until he heard the screech of his brother Droog. Xetix turned towards the sound of his brother's scream. Xetix retreated from his battle and went to the assistance of his brother. Xetix slashed at Grellor's left flank severing his arm.

King Grellor screamed and fell off his horse towards Droog. Droog rose up and was about to slay Grellor when the advancing army attacked Droog's wounded back causing him to let out another screech. Xetix jumped up on Grellor's horse and saw Droog fall dead. Xetix saw King Grellor lying on his side next to the fallen Droog.

Xetix screamed and lunged towards Grellor. Grellor saw his attacker and raised his sword which plunged deep into Xetix's chest. Xetix lurched backwards, grabbing the hilt of the sword, and fell against the horse. The horse panicked and kicked Xetix, knocking him into the advancing line of soldiers who finished him off.

The Old Gray Brothers were defeated. One of the captains, who was Grellor's brother, named Talim, rushed over to Grellor's aid, bound up his wounds, lifted him up on his shoulder, and placed him on his horse again. Talim removed Grend Mane from Xetix's corpse with a gurgling chime, placed the sword in Grellor's scabbard with the clack, and got up on Grellor's horse to help him ride in his injured and weakened state. Talim felt the warm energy of Grend Mane enter his body as he pulled it from the Old Gray.

Talim was injured as well, with a claw mark on his left cheek, a stab wound in his right shoulder, and many bruises and abrasions. Talim had been at the forefront of the battle with Droog, but still had strength enough to assist his brother the King.

"Sire, the Old Grays are no more. Grend Mane is safe in your scabbard. We are riding back to camp," Talim told the listless King, who moaned and unintelligible response. Grellor was barely conscious, but managed to ride back to camp with the aid of Captain Talim.


One month later, after Grellor recovered from his injuries, he stood before a crowd of thousands of his subjects to be coronated King of all Nelglume. After receiving his crown Great King Grellor waved his only arm at the crowds, his left shoulder covered with a red cloak, and began to give his acceptance speech.

"The Old Gray Brothers are no more. We have succeeded, as those of old, in ridding the land of the Old Grays. In times past the Cave of the Old Grays has seen many wars. Many have died in the past as in yester-month in the defense of these lands.

"The Ten Kingdoms of Nelglume are again united. Our kingdoms are again safe. We are a free and triumphant people once again thanks to Grend Mane our great sword of protection," Grellor said and unsheathed his sword and raised it into the air. The crowds roared in applause and celebrated for many days.


Thirty years later Grellor disappeared along with his chief adviser Talim. They had abandoned the throne, but had not taken Grend Mane. Shrill screams could be heard coming from the Cave of the Old Gray Brothers. Sixty years later Grellor stretched out his one gray wrinkled arm and pointed a long-nailed bony finger towards the cave opening.

"They have gathered. Talim, look, come, and see," said Grellor.

« Last Edit: September 22, 2012, 04:00:23 AM by Stratagem »

David Bridger

  • Guest
Re: September 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2012, 01:12:09 PM »
The Orphan Age

Paul sailed Marianne into Trenick Bay with a late-afternoon thunderstorm rolling up the south Cornish coast behind him.

A flash of sheet lightning silhouetted his house on the cliff top. The crescent-shaped town ahead of him bustled with life as shops closed their doors and people headed for home, but the old orphanage above it stood stark and silent like a lonely tooth in the sky's gaping mouth.

When he'd got accidentally rich and bought the empty old building for his home, his London friends thought he'd gone mad. But he liked the complete-the-circle feeling of going back to where it had all started when someone left him on the orphanage doorstep.

He spun Marianne into the wind, dropped his sails in a single clattering spray-splattered movement and picked up the buoy with his boathook.

A glance over his shoulder confirmed what he thought he'd seen while turning. He wouldn't need his inflatable tender. Karen was rowing out to meet him.

"You okay?" She sounded breathless from pulling against the wind, which tore tendrils of dark hair from her ponytail and whipped them about her face.

"I'm fine." Paul leaned over to grab her gunwale and take her line. "You?"

"Yep." She clambered aboard Marianne and took a corner seat in the cockpit, tucking her long legs out of his way.

"Where did you get to this time?"

He tidied his cockpit around her. "I did the north coast up to Bristol and back."


He knew what her next question would be before the words left her mouth. He climbed down into the cabin so he wouldn't have to see her expression.

"Write anything?"

He'd secured the cabin hours earlier when the weather started turning so there was nothing for him to do, but he stayed below rather than meet her eyes.

"No ideas for the new book then?"

He slid his duffel bag full of dirty clothing into the cockpit.

"Did you even call your agent before you went away?"

Paul stepped out on deck to bag the mainsail against the boom and wind the jib tight.

"I bet he's spitting feathers by now."

He dumped his duffel bag in the bottom of her boat, jumped down, shipped one of the oars and waited for her. She wasn't saying anything new to his ears, and he'd thought of little else for the past four weeks.

The epic fantasy series he'd started banging out in his teens, which had famously brought him a ten-book contract at twenty-one, had written itself to a full stop in nine novels a decade later. It wasn't his idea of fun to have his editor and his agent lose faith in him, or to have ex-fans abusing his name across several continents. He hadn't opened an email in three months.

Tamass the Fearless had won his war and married his soul mate, and that was that. The well ran dry for the series and no matter what tricks Paul tried he couldn't dream up anything new. People were saying he was a one-trick pony. They were right.

Karen sat beside him. The wind took the boat and they skittered across the waves away from Marianne. They picked up the stroke together while the strong wind helped push them towards the shore.

"My job's gone."

The wind was whistling across the water and he hoped he'd got that wrong. "Your job?"

"Gone. The university pulled the plug. Funding ends next month."

They stared at each other as they rowed. Her grey irises contained flecks of blue.

"What will you do?"

She shrugged. "I'm looking for something. Bar work. Anything."

"Have you contacted other universities to ask for funding?"

"Yep. Three of them offered me positions."

Well, they would. Paul didn't know much about her career before she'd come to Trenick, but she had a PhD and he'd always got the impression from visiting marine biologists that she was highly regarded in their world.

"Nothing you fancied?"

"Nothing here."

"You sure about this?"

"Yes." She hauled savagely at her oar and he'd never heard her sound so fierce.

They caught the final wave to crunch up hard and high on the pebble beach. Paul grabbed his bag and waited while she tied her boat to the nearest stanchion.

"Dinner at mine?"

"Okay." She re-tied her ponytail with a deft twist. She led the way to her battered old Mini and Paul crammed himself into the passenger seat.

"Are you really going to work in a pub?"

Her jaw was strong against the glowering sky and the first big raindrops splatting on the side window. "I'm not leaving."

The best thing about coming home was always the first long shower. He luxuriated in its powerful heat for an hour and only his growling stomach and the promise of whatever Karen was cooking persuaded him eventually to get dry and dressed.

She'd lit the log fire. It crackled and sparked and welcomed him home.

"I've sorted your letters," she said. "Want me to take a look at your emails too?"

Sometimes he wondered if she could read his mind. An idea had occurred to him in the shower and he'd been looking forward to springing it on her after dinner, but she'd beaten him to it.

"Actually, I was wondering if you fancy doing that full time."

She chuckled. "What? Sorting out your emails?"

He held her gaze until her smile slipped.

"What do you mean?"

"I'm offering you a job." He spoke over her kneejerk objection. "You need a job. I need someone to manage my business." He glanced at the pile of letters and packages awaiting his attention. "Obviously."

"I don't know how to be a secretary."

"You can cope with anything I'd need from you, easily. And I'm not asking you to be a secretary. I want you to be my manager. I'll pay whatever your university position pays. More if you need it. Just say the word."

Karen's mouth dropped open. "You're serious."

"I am. You've moderated my fan forum without payment for five years. You know more about the Tamass series than just about anyone else. Sometimes I think you know it better than I do."

It was true. Karen was one of the hardcore fans who'd built a big fictional world and its history around his novels. It was all there for everyone to see on his site, and he'd created almost none of it.

She'd already been a keen fan of his books before she arrived in Trenick, and she'd been thrilled to meet him a week after she'd settled in. He'd discovered that she'd spent hundreds of happy hours using her scientific knowledge to help build the world with other fans. Once she and Paul got to know each other better she'd volunteered to moderate the forums and had helped develop whole new sections of the site.

Paul never thought about the big picture geography of Tamass's world. He simply wrote his stories and whatever turned up around them turned up. He was glad Karen and all the other fans enjoyed developing their version of the series world, but he rarely considered any of that stuff when he was writing.

"It's fun. I never wanted payment."

"You need a job. I need a manager. How more right could this be?"

She fetched two plates of sliced roast beef with heaps of mashed potatoes and vegetables and a jug of her lovely beef gravy. The food was too wonderful to speak around for a while, but eventually she responded. "I'm grateful for your offer and I'll take the job, but only on one condition."

Paul beamed. "Anything. Name it."

"You stay home and work on Book Ten until it's finished." It was her turn to talk over his objections, and she did it with determination glinting in her eyes. "I'll deal with your agent and editor. I'll smooth their feathers. I'll start fixing things with your readers too. While you get your nose to the grindstone and write that book."

His heart sank. He'd thought she understood.

Thunder crashed outside and rain spattered like gravel thrown against the dining room windows.

"I'll help you," she said. Her voice was gentle now. "I know you're struggling. You're not lazy. This year has been horrible and I know you need help to invent something. I'm here for you."

Talk about piling on the pressure.

"I'll help you," she insisted. "Two heads have to be better than one. At least say you'll try, and we'll shake hands on the whole deal."

Paul gazed across the room at his shining steel replica of Tamass's big two-handed sword mounted on the wall above the fireplace. He'd commissioned a Japanese master sword smith to make it for him in the first flush of his success. It was his most beautiful possession, but for the past year it had mocked him.

Could he do it? Create a new story for the warrior Tamass out of thin air, even though his world was now at peace? He regarded his friend, who waited for his decision. Could he do it with her help?

Actually, why hadn't he thought of this before? She knew his fictional world inside out, and she definitely knew him and his ways better than anyone else. Who better to help him brainstorm the final story? Damn right he could do it with her help.

"I'll give it a go."

She must have been holding her breath. It came out in a big woosh. "Excellent! I'll email your agent now and give him the good news. What do you think is a reasonable time period to promise him something? Three months?"

"What?" His voice squeaked. He cleared his throat. "Twelve months, thank you very much."

"Shall we say you'll have something to show him in six months? He's been very patient. Gimme a bone to throw him, eh?" She grinned.

He barked a rueful laugh. "Go on, then."

They both jumped when someone hammered something hard and heavy three times against the front door.

"What the…?" He started to rise from his seat.

Karen was already on her way. "I'll go."

She left the dining room door open and he listened to murmuring voices that were almost drowned by the storm battering the house.

The front door clicked shut and Karen walked back in with a pale and shocked expression on her face. Her eyes bored into Paul's as if she was trying to communicate something to him without words.

She was followed by the soaking wet figure of a tall, impressively built man dressed up like a medieval warrior, complete with a deep hood that shadowed his face even in the electric glare of the room lights. He stood confidently with his booted feet apart, dripping rainwater onto the rug, one hand resting easily on the pommel of a huge sword in its carved leather scabbard at his side, and pushed back his hood.

Paul gasped. It was like looking in a mirror.

The man fixed Paul with a curious stare. "I'm told we are brothers. My name is Tamass."

Offline ZRWilliams

Re: September 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2012, 08:24:44 PM »
So this is my first time posting. I thought this a good way to rid myself of my virginity :) Slight language warning.

Geri and Freki

Freki paced the length of his cage while Geri sat outside of it, watching calmly as his older brother palmed his mop of strawberry blonde hair and shouted at Taum. The old wizard stood no more than a foot behind him, an escort to make sure Geri didn’t do anything stupid, but he wouldn’t say as much.

“Because it’s bullshit!” Freki shouted. “All I did was defend myself, they would have killed me!”

“You used blood magic, Freki!” Taum shouted back at him. “What did you think the council was going to do? Congratulate you?”

“Yes!” Freki replied. “Thanks to me twenty four of the Cins are dead!”

“Just because they’re the enemy doesn’t give you the right to do whatever you want!”

“So I should have died then? That’s what you’re saying?”

Taum fell quiet after that and Geri understood why. When it all boiled down to it, the old man agreed with what Freki had done. The three of them had known each other for the better part of the last fifteen years, ever since the Culmination, when all manner of magical folk, both talented and lacking were brought together, corralled into bunkers and caves in no man’s land. Taum was a believer that the lengths a man went to in order to save his own skin was almost always justifiable in cases of the Cin and Freki’s case was no different. The problem was, above all things, Taum was a good, law abiding man, he had a reputation for it. Moreover a reputation for disregarding his own beliefs for those of the council. He hadn’t even spoken during Freki’s trial, Geri was never sure if he was even there.

Geri hadn’t given testimony either; he wasn’t there when it happened. However he knew that Freki, his Irish twin as they said in the old days, had been looking into blood magic for a long time. Geri disagreed with it at first, he never said as much but he still disagreed.  Allowing the darkest of the dark arts was forbidden and for a time Geri understood why the council thought so. If they allowed such magic to be used let alone taught, where would their humanity end? Would there be squabbles? Duels where use of such a thing was accepted? It wasn’t rational. Keeping young wizards in line was hard enough as it was without blood magic. Geri understood this, he even agreed with it in terms of black and white. The problem was they weren’t fighting one another anymore; it wasn’t man on man, woman on woman or wizard against wizard. This was war. This was wizard on Cin in the best case scenario. How else were they supposed to fight the things?

“Aren’t you going to say something?” Freki spat at him. “Defend me for hell’s sake! Tell them there was no other way.”

“You know the law, Freki.” Geri said, the first thing he had said since he came to his brother. “You can’t just make up your own rules.”

“But the rules are bullshit!” Freki exclaimed. “You know that! They know that!”

“It isn’t bullshit, Freki.” Taum said. “You know what’s going on among the colonies. We can’t just accept the use of blood magic because you couldn’t figure anything else out.”

Freki scoffed at Taum, who was once his superior, then looked at Geri. Freki was smaller than he was even though he was older. He’d been stripped of his staff and his cloak and might as well have been a simple man with nothing more than his boxer shorts to prove some value in his humanity. Geri was bigger, much bigger; he stood a full ten inches taller than his older brother and had a good sixty pounds on him.  However those were things that would have been recognized in the old world, where size seemed to matter. The fact was Freki was stronger than he was; no one had ever questioned that.  Freki was one of the strongest of all of them, it was why the council had taken weeks to decide on his sentence.

“What time will it be?”

“Dawn tomorrow.” Taum replied as solidly as the soldier he was.

“Geri.” Freki said, his eyes pleading. “I promise I didn’t have another choice.”

Geri stared at Freki for a moment, looked at him in a way that only brothers can. “You were dead either way, Freki. If it means anything I agree with what you did.”

Freki looked heartbroken, more than that, he looked shattered as Geri made his way to the door. “You bastard! You know there is no winning this without it! You know we’ll all die and-”

His words faded to muffled shouts as the door closed and Taum escorted him out of the cell block and into the bunker. Geri kept his eyes on the floor the whole time, didn’t bother looking up until Taum spoke.

“You know I don’t like this.” Taum said as the metal secondary door closed, sealing off Freki’s voice. The old man’s face was red with blood, so much so even his bald head seemed a pinkish hue. “You boys have always meant the world to me.”

Geri nodded, not mentioning the fact that they were boys fifteen years ago when the Culmination had happened. “Not as much as I don’t like it.” Geri said then turned his back on his commanding wizard and made his way down the concrete and metal corridor.

Geri would pay for it later, he knew that. Taum wasn’t a man to turn your back on, it was the upmost of insults to a man of his age, of his power, but Geri did all the same. Freki, his older brother, his Irish twin would be beheaded in the morning and Taum hadn’t done anything to stop it. There was no way the old man could understand how he was feeling, Taum didn’t have any family in the bunker.

The smell of the bunker was sterile and clean, Geri’s footsteps echoed as he walked through the maze of hallways that had taken him years to memorize, his thoughts lost in the moment. It wasn’t unexpected when Shay popped her head out from behind a corner, the girl was always too curious for her own good and she never listened to the saying about the cat. Geri breezed by her, knowing that she was checking down the hallway for signs of Taum before she shuffled up to walk beside him.

“So it’s true then.” She seemed to read in his face. “They’re gonna kill him.”

Geri nodded; there was no denying it now, especially after the way Taum had acted. “Yeah, they’re gonna kill him, that’s why I have to break him out.”

Shay froze midway through a stride, no older than thirteen and she already understood exactly what that meant. “They’ll kill you.” She whispered when Geri turned to look at her.

“You just stay out of the way come morning.” Geri told her, “You’re in enough trouble as it is.” He turned and continued walking as Shay caught up to him.

“But you can’t just—just do this!” She said, tucking a lock of her light brown hair behind her ear. “He used blood magic, Geri. No one gets away with that.”

“He’s my brother.” Geri said definitively. “Whether or not he was wrong doesn’t change that.”

The girl placed her hand on his forearm and pulled him to a stop. “Geri, I—I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

Geri smiled, placing his mitt sized hands over her head and kissed her lightly on her hairline. “Nothing will. Now you keep your nose clean, I have it on good authority that with a little effort you’ll be promoted soon.” Her blue eyes twinkled with glee for a bare moment as she looked at him and it was cute, innocent really. Geri remembered being ecstatic when he was moved into the next school. “Go on, your mother probably knows you’ve sneaked out.”

She nodded then unexpectedly stood on the tips of her toes and kissed his cheek. Shay didn’t say anything after that, one of the few times she was without words to say. She turned and ran down the corridor, back to her quarters, where she should be at this time. Geri watched her go, her lavender cloak swaying behind her as he touched his cheek. It was warm and kind the feeling that was left there and he found himself smiling as he walked down the corridor, barely thinking that it may be the last time he would so peacefully.

“Stupid kids.” He muttered but the smile never left his face.


With his own staff, a personally carved length of oak, in his right hand and Freki’s in his left, Geri charged down the corridor knowing the seconds were valuable. It was two hours before dawn and the detail meant to patrol was suspiciously a couple of minutes off of their regular timing. Geri grinned as he ran, having found that his brother was a much more likeable person than he thought he was when he started to plan this. More than a couple of people decided to help him in this, with the contention that they wouldn’t be found out of course.

With nothing more than a simple charm, one that he’d seen Taum use a hundred times over the years the secondary door to the cell block opened. However as it creaked open he found Taum standing on the other side, between him and his brother. Taum was already shaking his head when he saw Geri, the look of disappointment only he could deliver. Beside him stood the three council members, Fara, Quinntus and Jayden, each of them strong enough to take on a dozen wizards of his strength.

“I wanted to be wrong about this, son.” Taum said, looking at him with tired eyes.

Geri glared at the set of them and rested his staff on the ground. “You knew I would do this.”

Taum nodded. “I did. The Council wasn’t so sure though. You’ve always been a good seed. Guess I know you too well.”

“Wizard Geri, this doesn’t need to end badly.” Fara said stepping forward. “Just put down your staff.”

Geri’s eyes didn’t even flicker to her, he remained fixed on Taum. “You don’t know me well enough.”

With a tap of his staff on the ground the symbol etched lightly into the ceiling blazed brightly, showered Taum and the council with sparks of blue and they fell to the ground, conscious but too fatigued to move. Geri smiled as he moved by them, satisfied that he’d outwitted them. The symbol on the ceiling weren’t runes; runes were child’s play by comparison. No, the symbol was something older than runes, something older than man. It was a symbol from the language of the Cins.

Freki was smiling when he saw Geri come into the room, as if he was expecting him. The lock to the cage that held his brother melted away at a simple beckon of his will and the door opened. Geri tossed his brother his staff with a grin.

“What did you do?” Freki asked.

“What do you think I’ve been doing for the last two months?” Geri replied. “Picking out a cloak for your funeral?”

Freki laughed when he saw the council and Taum sprawled on the ground unable to move. He laughed maniacally as they darted down the hall to the elevator, which remained active, one of Freki’s friends had made sure of that. The silence that followed, as they rode the elevator to ground level where they could breathe in the true air of the world again, was slightly awkward. What was he to say after stealing his brother from certain death?

“So what now?” He asked Freki, knowing from his furrowed brow that he was concocting some sort of plan.

“It’s simple.” He replied. “We end this war.
Each hour wounds. The last hour kills.
Neil Gaiman-- "American Gods"

Offline Idlewilder

Re: September 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2012, 03:06:24 PM »
This is my entry to the challenge for this month. It's unlike anything I have ever written before. More of a fable/fairytale kinda thing. Have at it!

Ell and Dee

Like any sisters, Ell and Dee didn’t always get on.

          Ell was short and plain; her face mousy and long. Dee was the pretty one; at least, Ell always thought so. Ell often saw Dee admiring herself in the glimmer of the clouds, but Dee always insisted she was simply looking at the places down below. Trying to see all of the people they would look after, when their mothers were retired.

          Ell and Dee were only half-sisters.

          They rarely saw their mothers. Always too busy, their father would tell them. Ell supposed it was true, but Dee would lock herself in her room; thrashing and screaming. It never did any good. Sometimes, Ell wondered how they could be sisters, when they were both so different. Ell had her head screwed on, her father always told her. But Dee was a wilder girl - always looking for trouble and dragging Ell into it with her.

          So when Dee told Ell that she had found a window to the down-below, Ell laughed. Until Dee showed her.

          “Come on, Ell. Live a little, for once. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?” Dee said, giggling to herself. “We can see them. See them early. Maybe Mum and Auntie Katie will be there?”

          Dee’s Auntie Katie was Ell’s mum. And her mum was stricter than Dee’s. Aunt Destie was just like Dee. Only older and a lot more fun.

          “You haven’t found anything,” Ell said. She crossed her arms, staring at her half-sister. “You’re lying, again.”

          “Am not.”

          “Are too.”

          Dee scowled. “I’ll prove it.”

          “Okay, then. Prove it.”

          Dee grabbed Ell by the arm. They half-skipped and half-tumbled along the bouncy clouds, Ell barely touching them with the soles of her feet, as Dee trawled her along.

          “Come on then, slow-poke,” Dee said. She giggled again. Constant giggling; Ell found it so annoying. Laugh when something is funny, not for the sake of laughing, Ell thought.
          “Slow down and let me go at my own pace, Dee.”

          “You never know how to have any fun.”

          They turned towards Ell’s mother’s house, the flower patch overgrown with weeds. It had been months since her mother had been home long enough to tend the garden. Dee pulled Ell along the path, picked up a key from under the mat at the porch, and unlocked the door.

          “What are you doing, Dee? If Dad finds out…”

          Dee brought a finger up to her mouth. “Shh. He won’t find out, Ell. Not unless you tell him.”

          Ell’s mother’s house was dark and musty. Ell went to turn on the light.

          “Don’t!” Dee whispered, barely managing to stop herself from screaming it. “We don’t want anyone to know we’re here, stupid.”

          Ell blushed. “I’m not stupid.”

          “Are too.”

          Ell scowled. She wasn’t getting pulled into another of Dee’s games.
          “I’m going home, Dee.”

          “No! Come on. This is your mum’s house, anyway, Ell. It is your home.”

          “Well hurry up, then.”

          Dee grabbed her hand, and dragged her upstairs to Ell’s mother’s bedroom.
          “How can we reach the down-below from here, Dee?” Ell asked; her mother’s room was full of cobwebs. “I think I would know if my mum had a hidden window.”

          “How would you?” Dee asked.
          “I… I just would, okay?” Her half-sister could be so infuriating.”It would be obvious.”
          Dee arched an eyebrow, and smirked. “Well, just watch this, then.”

          Dee went over to the wardrobe and looked at herself in the mirror. She nodded, and opened the middle door; the one with the mirror, angling it slightly. She nodded with satisfaction, and walked to the other mirror, on the wall above the dresser. It was matched perfectly opposite the one in the wardrobe.
Dee smiled, as though content with herself. She placed both hands on her sides and looked at Ell.

          “Well?” Ell asked.

          “Come here.”

          Ell walked towards her half-sister.

          “Stand right here,” Dee said. Ell did as she was told.

          “What? There’s nothing, Dee.”

          “Look at the mirror, Ell. On the wall.”
          Ell looked; she could see a reflection of herself, and a reflection of the mirror on the wardrobe. She had done this before; looking into seemingly infinite versions of herself. But something was different. Everything in the mirror rippled. Like a skipping stone on water. Ell gasped.

          She could see people. Everything else in the reflection was gone. She was gone. Dee was gone. The room, gone. In their place were hundreds of people, crossing in front, not seeing her. So many. Yellow cars which some of the people ran to, and jumped in through the back.

          Neon lights and big letters; flickering lights of red, amber and green. It was like organised chaos, and Ell loved it. She couldn’t explain why she loved it, but she did. More than anything. It was so alive. So real. She wanted nothing more than to go amongst everything; to tell everyone she loved them.

          It wasn’t like the way she loved her mother, or her father. Or even Dee. It was inherent; like she had no choice but to love them. Nurture and help them; as much as she could.

          She felt something shaking her away.

          “Ell!” Dee’s voice. “Ell!”

          Ell shook her head, and the room slowly came back to her.
          “What’s the matter with you?” Dee hissed. “I thought you had left me.” She was sniffling.
          “There are so many of them, Dee. I want to go back. I need to go back. Please.”

          Dee looked at her, confused. “Why? What good are they?”

          “I need to be with them.” Ell felt grief-stricken. Like she had been ripped away from everything which was dear to her. Though, she supposed, that is exactly what happened. “What have you done to me?”

          “Me? You were gone for nearly an hour, Ell. What was I supposed to do? Leave you?”

          “Yes.” Ell could hardly describe the anger and despair she felt.

          “Why? What makes them so special? When I went in, I could hardly wait to get out. All that energy. All that… life. Euch.”

          Ell gasped in disgust. “How can you think that? You’re supposed to help me!”

          “It was just so wrong, Ell. All those people. So many of them shouldn’t have been there. Y’know?”

          Ell did know, and she felt nauseous at her half-sister’s thoughts. “I…” She shook her head, stood up and bolted.

          Ell ran down the stairs, throwing herself outside. She buckled to her knees, and fell to the white of the clouds. It was soft.

          She cried. A gasping wail of pain.
          “Ell - come on. Let’s go and play jump-rope.” Dee pressed her hand into Ell’s shoulder.

          Ell shook her off. “Get…away…from…me.”

          She pulled herself to her feet, and ran as gracefully as she could over the soft clouds, to find her father.


Ell and Dee’s father was an old man. Very old. Some people liked to call him Grandfather Time. Others called him The Big Man in the Clouds; the Man on the Moon; or even much holier names than that. A man with too many names can sometimes forget who he really is. But not this man.
          Ell and Dee called him Daddy. And that is what he was, first and foremost.
          Ell was sulky, and Dee was angry. They were always in different moods, whenever he saw them. Such different girls. But then, they ought to be, he thought.

          “And when you were in the mirror, what did you feel?” he asked.

          As usual, Dee spoke first. “Some pain. Some suffering. I just wanted it to stop. I couldn’t wait to get out of there, Daddy.”

          He smiled gently, and looked to his other daughter. Ell was always the more introspective of the two. “And what about you, Ell? What did you feel?”

          Ell wiped away a tear from her cheek with the bottom of her sleeve. “I… I just didn’t want to go, Daddy. There are so many of them. They… need me.”

          He nodded. “You know that your mothers are out there right now, doing exactly what you will do, eventually?”

          “Yes,” they both answered together.

          “So enjoy your time while you have it, my girls. I can only watch over time; I cannot give it out freely. Even to the both of you. Enjoy your time together now. Some day, you will need to work together.”
          “I have to work with her?” Dee asked, a look of irritation on her face.

          Ell simply scowled.

          “We all have to work with those we don’t get along with, girls. But believe me, it will be a lot easier if you like each other.”

          “I hate her,” Ell said.

          “You do not hate your sister. You must love each other before you can go amongst those you must protect. Do you understand me girls?”

          They both looked at their feet, shuffling nervously. “Yes.”
          “We all have our opposites. Your mothers couldn’t be more different. Like black and white; or yin and yang.”
          They both stared at him.

          “Antiquity and destiny. Reality and fantasy. Love and hate.”

          They looked at each other, smiling.

          He smiled with them. A warm smile.

          “And both of you must be the same, when you go amongst those down below. So many of them. A task worthy only of those who can learn to love and hate.”

          “Yes, Daddy,” Ell said, wiping away her last tear.

          “We’ll be good,” Dee said, beaming widely.
          “Go on and play,” he said. They giggled together and ran out of his house.

          He stood out of his rocking chair, looking out of his kitchen window at the two girls. Hop, skip and jump. So long since he had played that game with his brother.
          “Ell and Dee,” he said to himself with a chuckle. “Life and Death. In time, you’ll come to us all.”
Make Another World.

Offline simonster

Re: September 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2012, 11:14:20 AM »
There are some fantastic stories in this thread!  But are sibling relationships really that warm and cuddly?  Here's a story that tells how things really are. ;)

Brothers vs Sisters

The knife thrust was expertly delivered.  Whoever had paid for the merchant's death had got their money's worth.

As the assassin walked away, the merchant staggered forward in pain and confusion.  He didn't know how lucky he was to still be alive.  The assassin's knife should have pierced his heart, but had been deflected by the chain of prayer beads his daughter made him wear.  The wound was none-the-less fatal, but the merchant's life would stay with him for a few minutes more.

Earlier in the day the streets near the market had been bustling with shoppers and traders, but in the afternoon heat they were deserted.  The merchant, who had worked his whole life in this quarter of the city, was suddenly lost.  With each agonizing step his thoughts grew fuzzier.  He saw a church in front of him, but could no longer remember its name or whether healers worked there.  As he passed through its doors he tried to call out, but no words would come.  He kept walking, relieved at least to be out of the sunlight.  When he reached the altar he could walk no further.

Thinking of his children, he died.

* * *

Brother Martin looked at the body on the altar.  He had seen many atrocities during his years in the Fraternity, but this sacrilege against his order sickened him more than any human suffering ever had.

"Send word to Brother Jacob," he said, then raised his hand to stop the novice from leaving.  "But first bring me my sword.  This blood on our altar must be washed off with more blood."

The Fraternity of the Sword followed God in his aspect as Father and Warrior.  They ran homes for orphans too young to join a religious order, but unlike the city's other orders they would not accept charity.  The orphanages were paid for through the brothers' work as mercenaries.

Brother Martin followed the trail of blood back along the street.  Where it ended he hammered at the doors of the houses that overlooked the scene.  The witness he found might have preferred to remain silent, but the Fraternity's bloody reputation was good for loosening tongues.  Brother Martin soon had a description of the killer, and the route of her departure.

With patience and a little luck, he picked up her trail in the market, and followed her into the old quarter.  He saw her go into a house with boarded-up windows in a run-down terrace, and he waited.

Night came, and when he judged it to be past midnight he quietly broke the lock on the door and entered the building.

Expecting the interior of a house, he found himself instead in an empty hallway from which two long corridors led away.  Candlelight flickered at the end of one, and he cautiously walked towards it past closed doors on either side.  When he reached the candlelit room he thought for a moment that he was back in the prayer room of his own church.  It was only when he saw the silver-painted skulls in the corners of the room that he realised where he was.

He turned to run, but a fist caught him in the throat and he collapsed to the floor.

* * *

The Merciful Sisterhood worshipped God as the transition between life and death, and saw themselves as guardians of that sacred boundary.  They trained as healers to keep people from crossing it before their time.  They trained as assassins to grant premature passage in return for donations.

Sister Jessica struggled to return Sister Beatrice's gaze.  She had been raised from the rank of novice less than a year before, and the noises that were starting to come from the unconscious man at her feet were distracting her.

Sister Beatrice's voice had a strength that belied her elderly frame.  "You are aware of course that the punishment for someone not of the Sisterhood who enters our sanctum is death?"

"Yes, Elder Sister."  When Sister Beatrice didn't reply, it took Sister Jessica a moment to realise what had been implied by the question.

Her boot swiftly accomplished what her fist had failed to do.

"That's better," said Sister Beatrice with a note in her voice that was almost kind.  She turned to the senior sisters who had assembled in the sanctum, and when she spoke again her anger was clear.  "I do not know what childish whim made the Fraternity send one of their members here.  But our response must tell them that we do not play games."

* * *

They had found him dumped on the street by the church entrance.

Brother Jacob looked down at the lifeless body of Brother Martin.  Half a century of violence had not lessened the pain he felt on seeing dead friends, but as the order's first brother he could not let that show.

His finger traced the lines that had been carved into Brother Martin's flesh.  With the blood washed away, the symbol of the Merciful Sisterhood was clear.

"First a body on the altar.  Now this treatment of our own dear brother."  He had called the members of the Fraternity's council into the dead brother's room where his body had been laid.  "In truth, I have long suspected that the Sisterhood would one day try something like this.  They are arrogant, manipulative, treacherous.  I believe they would destroy our Fraternity – if we let them."  For Brother Jacob the glory of leading men into battle had long since tarnished, but he would never turn away from duty.  "The sisterhood may think they know something of killing, but we will show them what it means to go to war."

* * *

The small infirmaries where the Sisterhood offered their healing skills to the people of the city were easy targets.  It took until noon for word to spread that the infirmaries were to be abandoned, and by then eleven sisters were dead.

Sister Beatrice chose a single target for retaliation.  The orphanage on Hope Street was the largest run by the Fraternity.  At midnight it started to burn.  Archers on overlooking rooftops brought down anyone fleeing the blaze who didn't look too young to be a brother.

The Fraternity stormed Charity Hospital the next night.  Brother Jacob anticipated that armed sisters would be disguised and hidden in ambush among the patients, so he ordered that any woman in the hospital able to stand be treated as an enemy.

Each day the killing escalated.  By the time Sister Beatrice sent a message asking to talk, Brother Jacob estimated the dead on both sides to number more than a hundred.

* * *

The Hall of Regrets was shared by all religious orders, the property of none.  The old stone building stood empty except when two or more orders came together to debate, to cooperate, or to settle differences.

Sister Beatrice was already in the hall when Brother Jacob arrived.

She rose from the bench when she saw him.  "Brother –"

"Why here?" Brother Jacob interrupted harshly.  "I never took you to be sentimental."

"This place has a history of difficult decisions," Sister Beatrice said, her voice cold.  "You know that as well as I."

The two studied each other as they might their own reflections.  They were similarly worn down with age, with similar reputations for devout and ruthless leadership.

Brother Jacob spoke at last.  "What is there to decide?  The city is running out of coffins.  Say the word and the killing ends tonight."

"For how long?"


"The Sisterhood has been badly wounded.  The Fraternity too, although I don't expect you to admit it.  How long until the wounds reopen and my sisters' corpses again lie in the streets?"

"My brothers would not break a truce."  Brother Jacob spoke with conviction, but after a moment's silence added, "You have a proposal?"

"We heal the wounds.  Heal them forever."  Sister Beatrice's voice was suddenly filled with urgent pleading.  "Brother, let us join our orders together."

"Together..."  The word was barely a whisper.

"The Sisterhood, the Fraternity – they're alike in so many ways!  The hospitals, the orphanages – we could combine them, work side-by-side.  Train together side-by-side – the sisters to fight in the city, the brothers on the battlefield.  Our God would bless –"

"Enough!"  Brother Jacob's cry echoed off the stone walls.  "I should have known.  This was your plan all along!  It's control of the Fraternity you want!  Murdering my brothers is not enough – you want to trick them into... into slavery!"

"Oh, you stubborn fool!  Of what use are your butchers to me?"

But Brother Jacob was already halfway to the door.  "You brought it to this!  Remember that!"  When he stopped at the door to look back he was shaking with fury.  "Every death now is on your hands!"

By the next morning the number of casualties on both sides had doubled.

* * *

In the weeks that followed, the city's other orders one by one declared allegiance to either the Fraternity or the Sisterhood, some with a sense of duty, others in fear of such an allegiance being wrongly assumed.  Being secular the city guard could not take sides, and, as fighting intensified, they retreated from the streets.

The roads out of the city filled up with convoys of families, fleeing with whatever possessions they could carry.  The only people heading the other way were same-sex groups, hard-eyed and well-armed: brothers returning from distant campaigns; sisters from affiliated orders in other cities.

Every tall building was a possible hiding place for archers.  Every alleyway a possible ambush.  Wooden buildings were torched to flush out possible enemies.  Each street that changed hands did so at a cost of dozens of lives.

Slowly the weeks turned into months

* * *

The intelligence, corroborated through torture, said that Sister Beatrice was meeting with other senior sisters in the Church of Resolutions.

Brother Jacob led the attack himself.  He realised too late that something was wrong: the sisters inside the church were retreating too quickly.  More than a hundred brothers were in the stone building when it started to collapse.  Fewer than half made it out, only to face the Sisterhood's counter-attack.

Separated from his brothers, Brother Jacob cut through five sisters to make his escape.  Concussed, bleeding, and in hostile territory, he made for a landmark that he hoped was still neutral.

* * *

The Hall of Regrets was empty; forgotten and untouched through months of fighting.

Brother Jacob collapsed onto a bench, and inspected his wounds.  His old body wouldn't last through many more battles, but it wasn't quite finished yet.

He felt like he hadn't slept in all the time since he had last been there.

His exhausted mind drifted back to a day long before when he had sat in the hall, perhaps on that very same bench.  Almost fifty years ago.  Just after mother had died.  The hall had been full that day, with rows of nervous orphans along the benches.

Brothers and sisters representing all of the city's orders were there too, come to offer substitute families to the lost ones.

She had said, "We must stick together, Jay, and find an order that will take us both.  We've only got each other now."

But he was crying, for his mother and for himself, and he wanted to lash out, to hurt as much as he was hurting.

The sound of footsteps brought him back to the present, and when he looked up the girl from his memories was standing there.  "Sister –" he said as he blinked away tears, and the young girl aged into Sister Beatrice.  "You've come back?"

"I come here every day," she said, sitting next to him.  "Every day for fifty years."

And then he was crying again, and she had her arm around him.  "Oh, Jay," she said.

"I'm sorry, Bee," he sobbed.  "I'm so sorry."

Offline Autumn2May

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Re: September 2012 Writing Challenge
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2012, 03:42:14 PM »
The contest is closed! Voting will go up shortly. :)

*edit* Or...you know we could actually wait until October. XD Sorry about that I got my days wrong.

Contest is still open! :D
« Last Edit: September 30, 2012, 06:19:46 PM by Autumn2May »