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Offline xiagan

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[Sep 2014] - Cliché & Tropes - Submission Thread
« on: September 01, 2014, 09:16:23 PM »

"One Hero" by Paul Davies, PRDart

This month I want you to write a story containing the most clichéd fantasy tropes you can manage.

Orphan hero finds a magical sword and saves a damsel in distress (who turns out to be a princess) from the dark lord? Wonderful!

Gr'ygkâ'lúgô'ök, barbarian warrior from the North, seeks the mighty dragon Bragon to avenge his village and it turns out his true love survived and the dragon is his father (who got cursed by the evil witch)? Awesome!

Writers often fear to (unintentionally) fall prey to stereotypes or have their work called unoriginal and full of cliché. Now you are allowed - no forced - to write like this. And maybe it will even help you to avoid the most common tropes in future. :)

Great resources are:
TV Tropes (here: The Chosen One) or Diana Wynne Jones' Tough Guide Through Fantasyland.

If you have some resources you can post them in the discussion thread. :)

Rules:

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

Entry will close October 1st 2014 and voting will begin somewhere around the same time too.*

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

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

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

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

Offline G_R_Matthews

...drink thy tidings
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2014, 06:43:53 PM »
…drink thy tidings.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Dark clouds covered the sky. Winter was nigh. On the castle’s parapet a crow cawed then stretched its wings, taking flight into the gloom laden sky. It circled once over the towers and then disappeared into the distance. The drawbridge lowered with the clank of chains and groaning of wood tired with age, swollen by damp. Two guards, in chain mail hauberks and rust coloured tabards, stepped from the dark hole of the castle’s open gate. They held up crossed spears to bar the way. From under a dark fringe of tousled hair, the man on the horse watched with brooding eyes.

“What be yer business ‘ere?” the guard on the right said.

The stranger did not speak for a moment and then, in a deep, quiet voice that nonetheless carried distance with ease, said, “I have come to see the king.”

“Well,” said the same guard, “that is, pard’n me for saying, right nice of you. Question is, to my way of thinking, does he want to be seeing you?”

“He sent for me,” the man said and his horse neighed in agreement.

“Ah,” said the guard. “Um… aren’t you a mite cold?”

“Cold?”

“Well,” the guard looked at his comrade who shrugged in return. “I mean, what with you not wearing much in the way of, if you’ll be pardoning the bluntness, clothes.”

The man looked down at his apparel and, seeing nothing out of place, turned a questioning glare on the guard. “This is the accepted garb of my homeland and the weather is not inclement enough to warrant a change.”

“I’m not sure where clement is but I think, if you be wishing to see the king, you’ll be wanting to dress for the occasion.” The guard turned to his friend. “Go and ask the chamberlain to join us. He’ll be wanting to meet this one.”

“I am not,” the man said in his deep voice, pausing to taste and chew upon the words he was about to speak, “this one.”

“No ‘arm meant. Just a figure of speaking.” The guard gave the man on the horse a little bob of the head and then leaned on his spear.

The man on the horse looked down at his clothes then up at the sky. He cast a sidelong glance at the guard who was, at that moment, inspecting the latest treasure he had extracted from his nostrils. Clearly, the guard was wearing more but armour was a sign of weakness, so the gods of Valhalla said. He pondered the conclusion for a moment and found that it was good.

After a time, though with no visible sun in the sky to say how long, the second guard returned. He was accompanied by an old man who came dressed in rich robes of thick velvet, the sleeves of which covered his hands. The newcomer possessed upswept eyebrows. a piercing stare and a thin moustache that followed the line of his upper lip like a shadow.

“The guard hath informed me that thou seekest an audience with our most gracious of lords,” the old man said in a wheezing voice. “I am his chamberlain. It doth fall on me to guard his majesty from those who wouldst waste his valuable time. Allow me, aside of your enquiry and my response, to pose a question to which my mind must have an answer this day.”

“Sorry?” the man said.

“I shall take thine most wisest response as an acquiescence to my request.” The chamberlain’s sleeves fluttered as he freed a hand to gesture towards the man on the horse. “Dost thou not find yourself with a surfeit of chills on this bracing autumn’s morn when even the spiky beast that dwell’th upon the damp forest floor seeks a bed of fresh fallen leaves in which to pursue its desired and purposeful repose?”

“What? No, why?” The man swung one leg over the saddle in order to dismount. The two guards and chamberlain found the sky, the moat, the drawbridge, infinitely more interesting than the sight that confronted them at that very moment. “I have come a great distance to see the king. I hear, from travellers along the roads, that he has problem that needs a man of my particular skills to solve.”

The chamberlain tore his eyes away from his inspection of the algal layer of scum that floated upon the moat water and ran an analytical gaze over the man no longer on a horse. He was a large specimen. Sat on the horse he had given every impression of being a tall man but it was only now that his true size became evident. Along his arms, muscles rippled and twitched. The man’s bare pectorals were reminiscent of two circular steel shields, freshly oiled, and his nipples forming the boss of each. A stomach so defined that domestic women would mistake it for washboard and be embarrassed yet glad they had made such an error. And two legs so endowed with muscle that it was difficult to not believe they had been carved from the finest marble by a master sculptor. Both the guards backed off a step and readied their spears.

“It doth seemeth as if thou possess the stature of man that our lord and majesty does, doth, seeketh to do his bidding and solveth hith problem…eth,” the chamberlain said, his sentence losing a quanta of surety as each word fled his lips.

“Good, I think,” the man not on his horse said. “Shall we go see him then?”

“That we shall but, a thought doth enter my mind like the welcome west wind that brings the first billowing of the heavy laden galleon’s sails after many days caught within doldrums of the limitless ocean. Mayhap thou might desire to drape such suitable raiment about your person that propriety and respectful conscience would demand of those politest souls seeking an audience with a king.”

The man’s brow furrowed as he tore the chamberlain’s speech apart like an over-roasted chicken, discarding the inedible dry husk and seeking the succulent meat of meaning hidden within. “What is this fascination you have with my clothes? My people, who live in the snow covered northern mountains and valleys, whom you call barbarians, always wear these loincloths. It’s cultural.”

The chamberlain was about to answer when the man unhooked a great two-handed sword from the horse’s saddle and lifted the strap across his shoulders.

“There,” the man said, “happy now?”

The older man, eyes wide, nodded. “Wouldst thou grant me the boon of your most precious name that I might announce thee before our liege-lord?”

“I am called,” the man, soon to be named, puffed out his chest with pride, “Brad.”

The chamberlain flinched. “Surely thou canst not mean Brad the Blade?”

“My cousin, twice removed, on my mother’s side,” Brad said. “Bit of a pratt, if I am honest.”

“Then thou canst be only Brad’th Lothewellian-ap-barbarous?”

“No, he’s an elf. The most sought after hairdresser in all the lands. But then elves have the best hair. Met him once. Nice enough fellow, bit arrogant but you get that with elves don’t you.”

“Truly, thou canst only be Brad the Barbarian.”

“My dad, though he’s given up the barbarianing. His knees can’t take it anymore,” Brad said. “Makes the best salt and smoked fish this side of Ingernookfall.”

“Pray, then through what deed hast gained a name of power by which very sounding causes the bowels of thine enemies to void in a manner most violent and alacritous.”

“I,” and Brad’s chest puffed again, nipples threatening to spear the chamberlain who had to back a quick step away, “am Brad Bradsson.”

“Ah,” the chamberlain attempted to paint a look of admiration across his face but succeeded in the way a five year old paints the sky. “If I dost knoweth thy traditions and those of thy kin, your deed most brave and admirable doth appear to be granted upon thy father’s momentary grunting and thy mother’s pain at birth.”

“I was a big baby,” Brad, son of Brad, said. “Let me see this king of yours. I believe he has an evil wizard to kill, a dragon to slay and his only daughter, the princess, to rescue?”

“The truth dost fall from thy lips like money to a taxman’s purse,” the chamberlain said. “The reward, most sought after, is marriage to the king’s daughter, to be prince and future ruler of the realm.”

“Do you have a portrait?” Brad asked.

“Though wishest to look upon a likeness of the princess?”

“Dad said its best to be careful. He lost count of the times he had to run away from an ugly princess threatening marriage,” Brad said.




I prithee take the cork out of thy mouth, that I may drink thy tidings. - Shakespeare, “As you like it”, Act 3 Scene 2
« Last Edit: October 02, 2014, 09:08:24 AM by xiagan »
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Offline ryanmcgowan

Re: [Sep 2014] - Cliché & Tropes - Submission Thread
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2014, 03:27:50 PM »
My entry for this month 'Sword of a dark Lord' it comes in at 1456 words.

Hope it entertains, was fun to write anyway.  Good luck to all.

I can be found on twitter if you're interested in such things: @mcgowanryan

Oh! word of warning I suppose, there's I think three fairly unoffensive swears in it, thought it would be best to mention though.

Spoiler for Hiden:

Sword of a dark lord

Luke groaned like an old crone as he crossed his legs, levering himself down onto cold hard rock.  Though an uncomfortable seat and woefully unprotected from the elements, the rocky outcrop gave perfect vantage over the amassing forces of darkness.  Even from this distance Orcs were ugly bastards, all sharp edges and shades of dirt.  Pulling his sword from its sheath and laying it flat across his thighs, his fingertip unconsciously traced the words etched into the surface.  ‘Excali Oath Reaver’ a strong and ancient name he hoped, the true meaning long lost.
How had he ended up here, in this maelstrom at the very centre of destruction?  He was bloody sure that had the princess been half as pretty, he’d have thought twice as hard before accepting such an inescapable appointment.  “Chosen one my arse.” He grumbled.

It had been a tough year for Luke since discovering his mixed race, elf-human parentage.  Learning of such parentage though, had explained a lot.  Adopted by a kindly dwarf family, when a grandfather he could barely remember had become too elderly to care for him.  His resulting childhood had been one of hazardously low ceilings and too poor night vision, gifting him a legacy of nobbled shinbones and semi-permanent concussion. 
It had been a year of murderous revenge, for the life’s taken from him, those of his grandfather and father.  And so he had waded through this bloody year, following the crimson path laid before him.  A path manipulated he knew, by Grand Alf  the at times mysterious; at others out and out cryptic, wizard with a penchant for pyromania and mind-altering pipe weeds.
Though he maintained, at least to others, that learning of his fathers death at the hands of the dark lord had ultimately lead him to this place.

Luke’s eyes slid away from the gathering masses, towards a shadow within his own rock formation.  He forced his legs back into motion, groaning again as his knees ratcheted him upright.  Light wisps of smoke having captured his attention, continued to drift up from a dark fissure as he crept closer.  The shadowed hollow, he discovered, was a hidden tunnel leading down into the rock.  Age worn and moss covered steps had been cut into the ancient stone. 
He had only one memory of his grandfather, a piece of advice that had become the mantra he now lived by.
“Pretend to be brave Luke, especially when you are not, no one can tell the difference.”
His grandfathers’ words in mind and sword in hand, he followed the path down into the shadowed depths.

As the surface-light faded, the smoke thickened to a consistent choke and concern began to grow in his mind.  After a period that could only be described as hazardous, there was a change in the air.  The choking smoke thinned out to reveal a deep and terrible darkness.  Such forewarning did not stop him from taking another step into the darkness and he found himself tripping as the ground met his boot sooner than expected.  As he stumbled out from the staircase and into an indeterminably sized chamber, his eyes latched onto a flicker of darkness within the shadows.  Sharp crags in the walls casting deeper claw like shadows against the ambient darkness.  That ambience seemed to lighten as he continued, stumbling onwards. 
In the centre of a large chamber a vast fire cut flickering slivers of shadow into the walls.  To one side the light cast beautiful shadows across the unmistakable features of an elf.  Of indiscernible age, she lay sprawled too uncomfortably for simple sleep.  Unconscious then, he thought.  She was one of his people and he, at least in part, one of hers.  As his eyes wondered to her figure, he noticed the ruination of her dress.  So torn that only taters hung below her knees, his eye lingered on her flesh.  Both ankles were bare.  Exposed.  Luke felt his cheeks flush from the indecency.  Tearing his eyes away from her he caught a figure looming from behind the flames, clad in smoke blackened plate armour.

Darkness licked at the edges of him with corrupt flame and so, Luke knew him. 
“The Dark Lord.”  He breathed.

“Well yes, but titles aside, you may call me Brian.”

As the plated giant removed his great horned helm, Luke flinched.  His grandfathers’ likeness stared back at him.  Luke’s grandfather had been the famous Cone-man, barbarian war leader and conqueror of Kingdom Come.  He had been a strong man, unparalleled in his youth.  This man though, was younger than his grandfather had any right to be, larger and thicker built too.  “Grandfather?”

“No.”

“Then who?  What, are you?”

“I am human.  Only man has the… imagination needed for such a role as mine, to inflict such cruelty and pain upon the world.  I could be nothing less.”

“How do you wear his face?”

“It is worse than you imagine.  Luke, I am your father.” 

An unintelligible scream of raw emotion burst from his lungs, tearing through his epiglottis and bloodying his throat ‘Naaaaooo!’ Luke raised his sword as he launched himself forward as quick and terrible as lightning.  Sword of his grandfather, prised from the cold dead hands of his murderer and now planted hilt deep in the chest of the dark lord.  His father. 

With the dark lord’s corpse silently perfuming the air in the far corner and with time to kill until the she elf re-gained consciousness, Luke upended his rucksack.  He snatched up his last packet of instant stew, he’d found early on in his adventuring that a good homemade stew unfortunately required the better part of a good days cooking.
Finally settling down with a steaming bowl, he considered the fate of his father.  Considered also that having the dark lord for a father might go some way to explaining the recent adornment of horns on his forehead.  He was woken from such contemplations when the elf began to stir.  Jamming in as much stew as his mouth could hold, he placed the steaming bowl carefully to one side before scrambling over to where she was groggily shacking her head.  “Are you ok… Lady Elf?”

“Lady Elf?  My name is Mavis.” her accent was beautifully sing-song. 

Her dark blue eyes held untold depths he thought, and a smile cracked the fullness of her lips.  At that moment though she seemed to become suddenly aware of her surroundings, throwing sharp glances left and right. 

“The dark lord?”

“Dead”

“And you are?” Her eyes drifted up to his forehead.

“I killed him”

“A usurper?”

“No, once I’ve finished my stew I’ll be heading home, got me a little farm in the Shire-lands.  Looking forward to a quiet life.”

She laughed, though her eyes still hadn’t left his forehead.

“Is something the matter Mavis?”

“No.  No, well its just… the horns?”

Luke was beginning to tire of the incessant questioning.  “I’m afraid I can’t explain those.” He said.

“Right well.” She groaned, pushing herself onto bare, delicate feet. 

What Luke had taken to be a torn dress turned out to be a large cloak; that swung open to reveal an ornate breastplate shaped to the curve of her hips.
 
“Shall we get out of here, before the hoards descend?” She asked, the smile returning to her face.

Luke threw a longing glance at the stew.  “I suppose.  There’s a hidden stairway.”

“No need.” Again the smile, as if she found something in this dismal place amusing.

“Well then how?” He was cut short.  An alarming crash signalled the start of the roofs collapse.  He snatched Mavis’ hand and towed her clear from the worst of the falling debris, awkwardly sprawling over the corpse in his haste.
For a while all was dust and choking, as it began to settle he could see daylight streaming through the gaping hole that had once been the caverns roof.  And in the place of his once enticing stew, was a dragon, its giant tail swishing with agitation. 
Luke was wakened from his fearful stupor by the somewhat unexpected sound of trickling water and a warm feeling running down his leg. 
“Shit” he said.  He caught Mavis’ eye as her nose began to wrinkle.

“Shall we?” she asked signalling the dragon with a flick of her head before sprinting off, a graceful leap planting her lightly on its back.

Standing with sword drawn, plastered in rocky stour in a slowly widening puddle of his own piss, Luke knew this was the decisive moment of his life.  The sound came as expected; it always did in such moments.  The barely audible tinkle of small bones on rock.  As he turned towards the sound, a handful of polyhedral dice bounced toward him.

« Last Edit: September 15, 2014, 08:30:41 AM by ryanmcgowan »
It's the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears.

Offline Timnacious

Re: [Sep 2014] - Cliché & Tropes - Submission Thread
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2014, 05:48:09 AM »
Hello, everyone.

The monthly writing contests/challenges are always fun. I'm hoping to be more participative in the future.

Anyways, for my story...

"The Last Laugh" is about a wizard of light (white wizard) vs. a wizard of darkness (black wizard). It stands at 1405 words and my twitter handle is Timnacious if anyone is interested.

Thanks and good luck to all!

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Last Laugh

“This feud ends today.”
   
The white wizard declared as he drew out his wand from its holster and aimed at his rival.    Never before had the Disciple of Light seen his opponent’s face, for the man hid it under a demonic mask. But what he did know was the man’s name. “Sabas!”
   
“I heard you, little candle.” With a low voice the opposing man accepted the challenge. “You should have remained in hiding. What can you do? Some of the best of your Order have failed against me. Do you wish to join them?” To punctuate his statement Sabas pounded the bottom of his staff into the dirt with his ghostly-white hands. From it stemmed a wave of power causing the ground to quiver. Crowned upon the metal staff was the Blood Jewel, a powerful gem which imprisoned its victims—leeching off their streams of magic to magnify its holder’s own strength. “Their light feeds my shadow.”
   
Gideon’s golden cape fluttered from the physical show of strength produced from Sabas’s staff as he struggled to keep his balance. Once he regained his footing, Gideon’s wand glowed a vibrant white, gathering Light. “Then you won’t mind a tasty treat I’ve got cooked up.”
   
As the two readied their powers they shared a moment, eyes locked and determined. The only matter was the wait.
   
Who would shoot first?
   
Sabas didn’t hesitate. Five tiny flames sizzled to life above each of his fingers before combusting together, creating a ferocious black fire cupped within his right hand. After taking a deep breath Sabas forcibly blew the elemental conjuration towards the white wizard’s direction, consuming all of the terrain on its path of destruction.
   
The white wizard held his stance as the pillar of fire approached. Beads of sweat perspired onto his face due to the intense heat of the blaze. Gideon utilized a flick of his hand and conjured a barrier of mist to construct a liquid shield. The fire collided with the summoned water and was quenched down to a harmless haze.
   
Showcasing a smile on his face, Gideon rolled his shoulders and gave his back an easy bend. “Thanks for the warm up.” The terrible pun made him smirk, but he wasn’t done. “How about I lighten the mood?”
   
Moving in a blur the wand charmed a ball of golden light into existence. Gideon twisted his wrist and the circular bubble floated high into the sky. Once the ordeal was over the young wizard spun another to life. Again and again, he threw numerous more spheres of magic into the sky.
   
His opponent lazily watched, unimpressed.
   
Sabas drew his pipe and relaxed with a puff. “Pathetic.” To prove his point Sabas poked one which had wandered his way with a finger and watched as it dissipated into a vapor of twinkling glitter.
   
“Hey! Don’t touch those!” Gideon screeched seeing his creation destroyed.
   
To irk the white wizard further Sabas touched another with the tip of his staff—cursing it to oblivion. Still, hundreds of the things littered the sky, surrounding their battleground.
   
“What did I say?” In his fury Gideon shot a laser of white light at Sabas’s face from his wand. The Blood Jewel radiated a vibrant red before negating the attack with a pulse of darkness.
   
“As you said before, it’s time we end this feud.” The masked wizard repeated his opponent’s own words. “If you’re in the mood for seeing impressive magic then I’ve got a trick for you.” Again, Sabas took a drag from his pipe. A long exhale freed the brewing smoke from the chambers of his lungs, it continued to exude from his mouth and nostrils until cocooning his entire body. From within the darkness a furious explosion ignited, violent enough to knock the white wizard straight onto his back.
   
Shaking the daze out of his head Gideon let out a few healthy coughs to clear out his own lungs. He looked up to see what had happened. What he saw was trouble. “By the Morning Light…”
   
A thunderous laugh sent a rumble through Gideon’s heart. “This is how you don’t disappoint,” Sabas had transformed, revealing his ultimate form. His dragonskin. 
   
“Impressive,” Gideon said with awe while cranking his head up to look at the dragon’s majesty. Preparing for this new level he readied himself by jumping to his feet and stretching out his wand-hand. “Now this is a challenge.” A line of light swirled around the wand and bonded onto it, infusing the piece of wood with the necessary magic to transform into a sword. The white wizard gripped onto this weapon’s hilt with both of his hands. Unleashing a battle cry he bellowed charging forward.
   
And then they met.
   
The blade met and clashed with the talons of the dragon. It was a swat of Sabas’s tail which caught Gideon off guard. Once it hit he could feel his bones shatter and body go limp. The momentum of the blow sent his body skidding across the terrain. Finally, he stopped. His body crushed like broken glass. Gideon looked up to the sky for salvation and his prayer was answered.
   
One of his bubbles dropped down to his aid. The light latched onto him, causing Gideon’s skin to radiate, healing the wounds of its master. Again Gideon stood, fully recovered.
   
“So that’s what those do?” Sabas asked.
   
Gideon clenched his teeth and didn’t respond.
   
With outstretched wings, Sabas taunted his foe, happy to see the fight was not over so soon. “So you wish for more, candle light? I’ll pummel you and allow every single one of those bubbles to heal you all you’d like. Watching you die slowly sounds like an excellent way to do this.” His dark eyes smoldered red inside their sockets. “Your Order of Light has been dimming for eons. I shall savor your doom as the Cycle of Darkness begins.”
   
“Never.” Gideon stood strong before the black dragon. “The Light shall never fade, not as long as a spark exists!” From his freehand Gideon let loose a bolt of lightning, its power cracked through the air and shot forward, straight for Sabas’s face.
   
And then it missed.
   
In his dragonskin Sabas couldn’t hold back his laughter. It was primal. But what was peculiar was how Gideon laughed along. Sabas gave him a quizzical look until he saw what had happened from the corner of his eye. It happened in a flash.
   
All around the dragon the lightning bolt danced from one orb of golden light to the next, threading an electric line from node to node. Before Sabas could react, the quick stitching of the spell left him surrounded. That was no miss, it was a net. And now it was closing in. The trap had been set and sprung by Sabas’s own naiveness. The look of satisfaction on Gideon’s face placed the dragon into a fit of rage. He thrashed and bashed at the fencing as it shrunk but there was no escape. He was a tethered beast.    “Victory is mine!” Gideon proclaimed. “Now to be rid of you, foul creature.” With the sword in hand Gideon gave his rival a mock salute, touching the base of the sword to his nose. As he performed this act two angelic wings of heavenly light sprouted from his back. Using a bend in his knees Gideon flew like a missile through the air and stuck his sword outright. From the high volume of velocity the white wizard punctured through the dragon’s heart—destroying the Blood Jewel in one swift motion.
   
Once Gideon landed he flicked his hand for a final time. The sword vanished in a glimmer of light, returning back to the wand. From its usage white whists of residual power fizzled out from the wand’s end. In synced unison Gideon blew out the expired magic as the monster fell.
   
The dark lord’s defeated body shriveled back to his human form. Gasping out his last few breaths Sabas attempted to utter something, but the flow of blood staunched the pronunciation out in a wet mess.
   
Only one thing remained, he needed to see who was behind that mask.
   
Cautiously, he approached the deadman and reached forward, pulling the thing off of Sabas’s face.   Gideon cringed as he looked upon his opponent’s true face. “Evil is ugly. Please, take this back…” Gideon shoved the mask back over Sabas’s hideous features. “Loser.”

Offline Elfy

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Re: [Sep 2014] - Cliché & Tropes - Submission Thread
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2014, 02:12:51 AM »
Hello again, it's Elfy (@ChrisElfy on twitter, if anyone wants to tweet me). Took me a little longer than usual to get around from this. Why is it that whenever you come back from a nice long holiday with so much to do that you feel like you need another holiday?

Anyway, enough of that. My entry is called Grunt, it's 1268 words without the one word title. I think it ticks off most of the cliche boxes, and hope everyone gets a bit of a laugh out of it.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Grunt.
 
The scarred old warrior ran a hand over his stubble covered scalp, loosened his notched blade in its scabbard, and slitted his eyes to stare into the distance at the approaching fire breathing winged death in the air.
 
It had all started with an advertisement in The Medieval Dirt Town Times. WANTED, the ad had read: grizzled old warrior to join quest, no experience necessary, must have own armour and weapons. Scars not a problem. Apply to the Wizard Karala’alf.
 
Grunt hadn’t even been able to say the wizard’s name, still couldn’t really. It was hard to say something that didn’t sound anything like it was spelled, and then there was the while making the apostrophe sound like a click in the back of the throat. It was the thief who had suggested just calling the old white bearded man Alf for short, and it had stuck. It was about the only useful thing the thief had done for the entire quest.
 
They were very much a standard group when Grunt had joined. ‘Alf’ had even registered them with the Questing Board under the category of Princess Rescuing.
 
Grunt had checked off their final box. They already had an elven archer, possibly of a royal elven line, a feisty dwarven smith, who argued incessantly with the elf about which race was better. Grunt felt rather superior on that score as humans outnumbered both elves and dwarves combined by more than three to one, and if the other two races weren’t so long lived they probably would have died off entirely. The dwarf blamed his kind’s lust for gold and pointed to the recent ill fated quest for a dragon’s hoard. The dwarf of course blamed the hobbit member of that group for all the bad things that had happened there. Never trust a hobbit was his mantra.
 
They also had a thief. Apparently it was the done thing to have a thief. Theirs was small, female and had a mouth that got her into more trouble than she was worth. She’d had them kicked out of more than one inn. Grunt wouldn’t have really minded, the inns were smoky little places that overcharged for everything, and you had to watch out for yourselves, most of the guests would slit someone’s throat for a handful of copper, but the meals did make a change from the endless diet of stew that they always seemed to have when they were out on the road. Grunt believed that the thief was human, but she was close mouthed about her origins and it was hard enough to determine her age, let alone her species.
 
Alf was their leader. He claimed to be a wizard, and he looked the part with the long white beard and flowing robes, but Grunt had yet to see him do any magic beyond card tricks, a never ending handkerchief that he pulled from the sleeve of his robes on occasion, usually to wipe his endlessly runny nose, and he had once produced a rabbit for supper from his hat. He’d oddly enough found it necessary to first push his sleeve up his arm just to show them that there was nothing up it.
 
The group was rounded out by Hero. No, honestly that was his name. The full name was Herodotus, but it was hard to say all the time, so they shortened it to Hero, it did fit. Alf said he was Hero’s grandfather, but Grunt couldn’t see a family resemblance. Hero was a good half foot taller than his grandfather. He was blond, and judging from the occasional dark hair that appeared in Alf’s beard from time to time, he had never been fair. Hero had muscles on his eyebrows, a chiseled jaw and brilliant blue eyes. He didn’t speak very often, other than to say he was hungry and ask ‘Are we there yet?’
 
Grunt had asked, aside from his name and a physique that should have had him modeling for sculptors or showing off armour to its best advantage, why did they follow Hero? That was when Alf produced the sword. It was gold with an ornate jeweled hilt, completely useless as a weapon in Grunt’s opinion. Gold was too soft to hold a proper edge, although it was heavy enough that you could bludgeon someone to death with it, even an orc, thick as their skulls were. It gave off a weird glowing light, which the thief said made it useless on a mission that required stealth; she apparently could see in the dark, but she couldn’t read a map. She’d gotten them lost three times before they finally stumbled across the Princess’s tower.
 
                                                               ****
 
The girl was tall and slender, she had skin like peaches and cream, eyes as blue as the summer sky and hair the colour of spun gold. It was just as well she was so beautiful, because she didn’t have much else to recommend her. She whined and pouted, she threw tantrums, and her voice sounded like a nail being dragged slowly across a slate.
 
Fortunately, the dragon who was meant to guard her and keep her in the tower until His Foulness (the Dark Lord in these parts who had kidnapped her from her father Goodking III) came for her, had been out on a foraging mission. There were rumours that it was actually avenging its brother, who had been killed when the dwarves and the hobbit attacked.
 
Even so, it had been Grunt who had actually had to scale the tower, drag the girl out kicking and screaming, then carry her over his shoulder back to the rest of the group. It was supposed to be Hero’s job, but he had apparently strained a hamstring. Exactly how he’d done that Grunt did not know. The rest of the group had done everything but carry the boy about in a sedan chair.
 
Despite that, the Princess Angharad (which the thief insisted was pronounced Airhead) had taken to Hero like a duck to water and the two had been inseparable since Grunt had removed her from her tower. Grunt had spent a lot of time looking over Alf’s shoulder as he chronicled the event, making sure that he, not Hero, was properly credited with the rescue. For some reason Alf seemed to think that Grunt couldn’t read.
 
                                                         ****
 
All of that had brought them to this point, huddling in a dark mountain pass, with a fire breathing dragon bearing down on them. The elf had exhausted his stock of arrows, the dragon having burned them all up with its fiery breath, the dwarf chewed his beard and threatened  to knock a few of the dragon’s iron scales off with his hammer. Hero stood with Princess Angharad clinging to him, the dragon’s fire silhouetting him heroically against the night sky, ridiculous sword held high and proud. Alf crouched behind a pile of dirt, frantically scribbling ‘They were handsome, they were young, they were in love,’ while rabbits and doves hopped and flew out from under his hat and sleeves and even his beard and made their escape.
 
Grunt had no idea where the thief was; she said something about going to relieve herself hours ago and had not been seen since. Both Grunt and the dwarf thought she was going to check the Princess’s tower to see if the dragon left any gold behind. Grunt sighed. She would have been useless in this fight anyway.
 
The old warrior stood up, drew his sword, let loose with a savage war cry and ran forward into the jaws of death…
I will expand your TBR pile.

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Offline Jaeulk

Re: [Sep 2014] - Cliché & Tropes - Submission Thread
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2014, 03:35:46 AM »
Hi everyone, this is my first go at putting something out there, I hope it meets the brief. It comes in at just under the limit at 1494 words - im on twitter at @Jaeulk - hope you enjoy :)

Spoiler for Hiden:
I don’t want to die.
The thought repeats itself again and again, aligned with each blow the gates take from the enemy’s battering ram. With each booming impact the ranks of militia around me shudder as one, our spears, shields and armour vibrating with nervous energy. Long gone is the pre-battle confidence and thought of victory over our besiegers, replaced with a common and simple desire.
I don’t want to die.
BOOM! Another blow thunders against the gates, however there is something different this time, there is another sound hidden among the resonate beating of the ram, and after a split second there is an almost physical realisation among the troops in the front line. The locking bar has cracked. Our last hope of defence was about to fail.
I don’t want to die.
I can hear a sound from close behind me, it’s the sound of crying. We are all boys really, here at the end, and I am not ashamed of him, I’m too scared to cry.
CRACK! The locking bar splits, the colossal timber breaking in two and falling away. This is it now, my death is close. What few of us are left alive in the watchyard have witnessed the brutality these demons inflict on our comrades unfortunate to be stationed on the outer walls. In the beginning our town elders offered the devils appeasement, surrender, every valuable item down to the smallest trinket and it was not enough. The priests clung to their scriptures as if the prophesied light of Celestius’ sun would be enough to banish them, it hadn’t in the recent days - no reason why it would this morning.
I don’t want to die.
BOOM! The great oaken gates, ones that for over 300 years stood witness to the growth of the Empire, the portals by which king and criminals, priests and paupers entered and left the lands behind us, the gates that repelled dozens of armies, flew open.
For one moment I hear only my heartbeat, once...twice. Suddenly my body is rocked by an almighty roar as the enemy cheers, the sound of arms beating loudly against their shields and armour in a cacophony of rage. The man to my right drops his shield and turns to run. My legs are too weak to follow him. Under the sound of the roar I hear one, maybe two...now three shields drop to the ground…
I don’t want to die.
Strange now, with certain death only moments away, my mind is drawn back down the long path of my life starting in the orphanage managed by the silent priests of Celestius. The other children and I were sent to the local schools to learn how to speak and script, so we could communicate with our guardians. On what I guess was my thirteenth birthday, I was given the only possession that came from my parents, a necklace with a silver locket. In my adulthood I had tried unsuccessfully to open the locket many times, even seeking out the advice of enchanters who were unable to guess at the magic which held it firmly shut.
I don’t want to die.
I’m thrown out of my reverie by the impact of a large brute slamming its body into my shield. I hear screams and feel blood splatter across my face. My head strikes the ground and I become only vaguely aware of the slaughter commencing around me. My eyes close in a silent and quick prayer to gods, gods that I long ago abandoned, for some sort of intervention. Panic has overcome me and I scream as pain shoots through my leg and feel the weight of an attacker above me. Eyes open now, I look up to the heavens.
Don’t let me die.
One deep breath, and there is silence. I look around and all is still. The demons are motionless, poised aggressively over many of our troops; the defenders cowering, running and meekly looking to hang on to whatever seconds of life they can. A light shines from under my armour, and I pull on the necklace to see the locket glowing brightly and I grasp the thing in my hand. I look around and my heart skips a beat as I detect movement. A figure, cloaked in black, glides silently through the statues to stand before me. I look up at the cloak and there is no face. The figure reaches out with its right hand.
I don’t want to die.
No, that’s not it, for a moment, one instant, my mind becomes clear. That is a wish, a hope for something to intercede. To float on life’s river subject to the flows, eddies, rips and currents that we all experience. Reaching the shore is more than being pulled out by a rescuer, it means also reaching up to grab hold of the rescuer’s hand.
I will not die.
There is still no face, the figure barely moves. I reach out and our fingers touch. I feel embraced, like holding something precious. Energy flows through me and my mind opens to see the entire battle, but more than that, my view expands to see the entire fortress, now the entire kingdom, now the world. The world shrinks and I become aware of the stars themselves and more and more. I begin to see the past and the future, all the possibilities of what could have and what might be. My head begins to hurt and I draw my mind back to my body. Something is placed in my sword-hand.
Time begins again and I roll over to see a skeletal grin over me as a demon slashes down with a jagged bastard sword. Instinctively I raise my sword to block.
I will not die.
There is a blinding flash and the demon screams, I hear other inhuman screams as well. Eyes recovering, I rise to my feet as there is a lull in the battle. Beneath me is a pile of ash and nearby demons writhe in agony on the ground. Friends and foes both briefly pause to look at me then resume the battle. Another demon rushes at my, axe in motion. I raise my shield to block.
I will not die.
Another flash, another scream and another ash pile at my feet. For the first time since the siege began days ago, the demons take a step backwards. I look down. I am no longer wearing the blue-grey steel of the militia uniform. Somehow I am equipped with white armour, gold trimmed, and carrying an elegant longsword and shield that seem to glow even in the light of the day. I smile and feel power flow through me.
I will not die.
Now I am the agressor. With each stroke of my sword demons disappear in flashes of light. With each block on my shield, demons disappear in flashes of light. I am the light made anew to protect myself, my comrades and my kingdom. Demons fall left, right, ahead and behind. My squad rallies around me, taking heart, and presses the attack demonstrating their steel to also be effective.
We will not die.
As a group we push through the gates, repulsing the attackers. What magic gifts I hold is not a consideration. I accept them and use them to full effect. I feel powerful, and with each flash of light more energy and more strength seems to flow into me. We push back through the gates and into the main courtyard, surprised to see that some fortified positions of defenders do still remain.
We will not die.
As a group we move to our allies and drive the devils back. My sword flashes constantly, like the sun pushing back the night. Strange, we thought that there were more of them, that they were invincible. The fear that ruled our minds and bodies only minutes ago, that caused the death of so many of our comrades, has disappeared now and we see the demons as nothing more than a simple enemy that must be resisted.
We will not die.
The battle wanes as we drive the enemy out and they flee out past the outer battlements to the woods. When all is calm I stand alongside my comrades at the main gate as the sun rises to its zenith. My weapons and armour show no stains of battle and shine even more brightly brightly in the noon-day light. Men tend to the wounded and others work at repairing the battlements. We know the enemy will be back.
A priest, one of the few to stay and one of the very few to survive, approaches me. He places his hand on my heart and mutters his Lord’s prayer. I catch one line “...and the sun of Celestius will shine in the dark and push the devils back to the pit…”
I hear another voice tinged with amusement.
Not the Sun…..my Son.
 

Offline OnlyOneHighlander

Re: [Sep 2014] - Cliché & Tropes - Submission Thread
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2014, 05:13:41 PM »

Hi Everyone,

My entry for the competition is called 'The Four Orcshiremen' and it comes in at 1,477 words. I had fun writing it. I hope you have fun reading it.

I'm on Twitter at @David_Mac13, where I skulk waiting to make sub-standard puns.

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Four Orcshiremen

The city of Cromalot had been celebrating all day. That is, at least, most of the city. In the Ruptured Spleen Tavern the clientele didn’t go in for such frivolities (they didn’t go in for the word ‘clientele’ much either, and anyone using ‘frivolities’ within the confines of the damp, dark taproom was likely to wake up in pain, mugged or dead). Celebrating led to the spillage of drinks and, in the Spleen, spillage of drinks led to the spillage of teeth.

Thus, when four short humanoids, complete with long beards and metal miner’s helmets, stumbled down the stone steps full of unwelcome joviality they were greeted by a roomful of stern eyes: some singular and some in the more traditional pairs. With the same mix of fear and unease as the man who finds he has strolled into the lingerie department, the leader of the group hit the brakes on his companions.  The eyes continued to stare. Cold. Sterile. Surgical. But the four had come too far to turn tail now. So, carefully orbiting a glowering cache of orcs, their leader squeezed into a space at the bar.

‘Four ales pl –’

‘You got any ID on you?’ said the barman (his name is Graham by the way, but that really plays not part in the story so no-one will use it). ‘You and your friends.’

‘ID?’ The new customer patted the non-existent pockets of his chainmail covered trousers in the manner reserved for those about to explain why the requested paperwork was not presently on their person. ‘Ehhh, no. I did. Must’ve been stolen. Thieves Guild, pickpockets. What are they like? And this used to be such a nice city.’

The barman’s features showed all the emotion of a brick.

‘But, I mean, we’re dwarfs,’ the lead dwarf said, tugging on his beard in case the barman wasn’t getting the picture. ‘I’m three hundred and forty this year. Old enough for a quick one, eh?’

 ‘Dwarfs are you?’ the barman said, lifting a glass from the rack and rubbing it with a manky cloth (presumably making sure the dirt was spread evenly around the whole of the inside, lest someone complain). ‘Alright then. Tell me, dwarf, what’s the load baring capacity of a standard four geared Brockle-pulley pit crane?’

The would-be dwarf looked to his companions, doing his best not to appear worried. In a show of overwhelming solidarity they did their best to look somewhere else, the path to the exit becoming the agreed consensus.

‘I’ve got an axe,’ said the probably-not-a-dwarf. He pulled a short, shiny and very decorative axe from a loop on his belt.

Metal thudded on wood.

The barman’s axe was huge, stained, more functional than decorative, and buried a good inch into the top of the bar. ‘So do I. Get out. No minors allowed.’

At this remark a real dwarf (you could tell because his beard wasn’t held on by string and didn’t smell of horse shampoo) slammed his glass onto his table. ‘What!’

‘Minors, Glorin. Not miners.’

‘Oh,’ said Glorin, wiping up the spilled ale with the end of his ginger beard. ‘Sorry.’

The barman turned back to the terrified quartet. He reached over the bar and snatched away the lead not-a-dwarf’s beard. Colour drained from the lad’s face faster than a yard of ale into a thirsty ogre.

‘Shouldn’t go around dressing up as other races neither. It’s offensive. Lucky for you we’re a reasonable bunch here. I’ll give you the count of three. That seems pretty reasonable to me.’

The barman yanked his axe free and propped it against his tattooed shoulder. He started counting.

The four not-even-drunk-anymore sixteen year olds froze, melted, spun, sprinted and scarpered. A cheer followed them up the stairs to street level, but they had no wish for an encore performance.

‘Been like that all day,’ said Graham. He hung the fake beard on a peg behind the bar alongside three pairs of wood-elf ears, two sets of hobbit feet and an oversized gnome’s hat. ‘Whole town’s gone crazy. All ’cause some lad pulls a sword from a stone.’

‘Made him king for that?’ Beowarg the Northman shovelled a fist full of hog scratching into the gap between beard and moustache. ‘That ain’t even the hard bit. What did the guy what push it in there get? That’s what I want to know.’

‘You’re right there,’ called Jorel Elfsplitter. ‘Back when I was still adventuring I was always pulling my sword out of things. Most were a lot harder to beat than a lump of geology too. Once killed a whole clan of dark elves with that sword, and that was only after the end broke off in that duel with the Black Knight of the Shattered Peak of the Shrouded Mountain. No-one ever anointed me.’

‘You had a sword?’ replied Beowarg. ‘You were lucky. I spent fifteen years heroing with just a dagger. A second hand dagger at that. Even then I managed to lay siege to the Red Keep – single handed mind – defeat all fifty of Baron Jugular’s vampire swordsmen, spear the Baron with his own battle standard, and rescue Miss White City before she was sacrificed to the Blood God Coagula.’

‘Dagger eh?’ said Glorin. ‘What I wouldn’t have done for a dagger. When I was still a lad – only one hundred and seventy three mind – I fell into an underground river, got lost in the Midnight Caverns for two weeks, was captured by goblins and then had to fight my way out of the Screaming Dungeons of Goblinia with nothing but a pair of toe nail clippers. And I did it all while under a curse from the Dryad King of Speakleaf that made me think I was a broad leaved oak tree.’

Silence settled momentarily on the bar. Glorin folded his arms across his beard triumphantly.

‘Luxury.’ The growled syllables had come from one of the cache of orcs. He broke away from his group and came to sit with his companions in yarns. His skin was snot green, his neck adorned with a string of finger bones. ‘When Moglith Broken Tusk was only spawnling he crushed the skulls of the Nine-Headed Razor Wolf of Soba – using only Moglith’s bare hands – was swallowed whole by Trygar the Mega-Giant, lived on island of bones in stomach for twelve moon cycles, made pick and shovel from hip bones of own recently devoured clan, and tunnelled free from arm pit sweat glands. All this Moglith do while holding down two jobs: as slave pit overseer and as gladiator training school tutor.’

Moglith took one clawed fist in the other palm and cracked a row of walnut sized knuckles.

‘And this Razor Wolf,’ Jorel said, shifting on his stool to face the orc. ‘That was both hands was it?’

‘Yes,’ said Moglith.

‘Well,’ Jorel drew the scarred stump of his left arm from under his cape, ‘you had it easy then. When I was growing up in the gutters of Olop, an orphan mind – what with my whole family dead from the Boiling Plague – one night after the local guardsmen had beaten me unconscious for stealing mud from the Mayor’s stable, Saw-toothed rats gnawed through my wrist– ’

‘Hold up,’ Beowarg pointed his second hand dagger at Jorel. ‘You were stealing mud?’

‘To eat,’ said Jorel. ‘Think of that. I were so poor I couldn’t even afford my own mud. Try telling people that now and they won’t believe you. Course, mud were better in those days. But I didn’t let it hold me back. No, no. A week later I won the Mayor’s fencing tournament, my only weapon a mid-size halibut, became the city’s champion, fought off an attack on the harbour from the Death Tide Kraken, married the Mayor’s daughter, only for her to be carried off by Dodecadon the Dozen Headed Dragon and could only get her back by defeating each head, in turn mind, at a game of riddles.’

‘Riddles?’ said Glorin. ‘Anyone can beat a dragon at riddles. When I was challenged to a staring contest by the Gorgon Queen of the Calcified Catacombs, having just got over a bout of aggressive conjunctivitis –’

Glorin was cut off in his tale by the crashing reappearance of the four terrified youths. Sprawled on top of each other in the ruins of the door they looked even more scared than when they’d left.

‘Help!’ shouted the one on top. ‘The eagles are coming!’

‘So,’ said Glorin, unamused at having been so rudely interrupted.

 ‘The King. The coronation feast. He wanted omelettes! King-sized omelettes! They’re attacking all the guests!’

‘The omelettes?’

‘The eagles!’

Beowarg, Jorel, Glorin and Moglith all shifted their weight from buttock to buttock and back again. Bragging was one thing, suicide was quite another: After all, nobody ever beats the eagles.
 
“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it's much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!” Neil Gaiman

Check out my book Here Be Dragons here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Here-Be-Dragons-David-Macpherson-ebook/dp/B07CCGBDQW/ref=sr_1_3?s

Offline Saraband

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Re: [Sep 2014] - Cliché & Tropes - Submission Thread
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2014, 03:59:40 PM »
Hey everyone! With 1398 words, here is my entry for this month's contest :) Played around with common fantasy clichés, while turning some of them around at the same time. Hope you find the result enjoyable!

twitter: @mgboronha

The dragon that saved the world from beginning

Spoiler for Hiden:
There once lived a dragon, endowed with one of those slithering draconic names so hard to pronounce for the soft and singularly forked tongues of humans. So he came to be known amongst the species with lesser skills of diction as Garbad, an old word, its meaning lost in the big, nauseating digestion that is the passage of time.
Garbad’s family was in the possession of remarkably shiny scales, thus occupying the highest spheres of draconic hierarchy. They inhabited a castle, that was much like any other castle one can imagine when no particular muscle of the imagination is exercised: dark, grey stones for walls, mighty crenellated towers, and corresponding iron gate. This castle had, however, a very distinct feature: it rested on top of a cloud. It was no simple architectural achievement, even according to draconic standards. And it was also one of those mysteries best left untouched, fearing its comprehension may lead to the sudden castle’s fall from its cloud.
Although most of Garbad’s life went by without any events worthy of song or poem, it all changed when, on an ill-fated morning, a great prophet with one too many vowels in his name, and no less apostrophes, coalesced into existence in front of our very own dragon prince.
“The cruel chains of destiny carried me hither, to be the messenger of doom,” Baazdaa’ko’r, the illuminated prophet, said. “A great evil is taking root in Thaloth. The next seven nights will see their length diminish, and when the eighth night comes, there will be no moon, but only sun. The world will be consumed by light, and be born unto its beginning. And it will be twisted, for the knights of evil will become the heroes, and the good dragons will themselves become the source of fear.”
Whispers of terror flew amongst the horrified lizards, and great balls of flame were hurled in panic. Garbad, however, kept his blood from burning too hot, and questioned the prophet further.
“How can we stop the world from coming to its beginning, great Baazdaa’ko’r?”
“You must travel to Thaloth, and find the primeval knight that is conjuring this great calamity,” the prophet said. “Stop the knight, and all will go on as it should. Fail, and bid farewell to the age of the glimmering scale, for the age of egotistical apes will conquer all.”
With that, the prophet was engulfed in his own black cape, and vanished at once, leaving all the dragons wondering what an ape was.
After the initial shock, most dragons agreed that the prophet had been nothing more than a lunatic, and rapidly discarded his warning. But Garbad did not. He felt great sincerity in the prophet’s speech, and when the next night arrived and he immediately noticed its length become shorter, he decided to give his wings a mighty stretch and fly towards Thaloth.
Leaving the castle in the clouds behind him, Garbad flew alone, against the counsel of his family. Being a particularly stubborn specimen of lizard, he would not stop until he found this knight who dreamt of the beginning of the world. And although he left in great haste, Garbad went as prepared as any dragon prince should for such quest. His usual coat had been shed in exchange of golden scales, incrusted with beautiful jewels and diamonds. His family’s legendary sword, uprooted from the toughest rock to have ever existed, was firmly grasped in his claw, ready to strike at his foe.
Like the great winds that rise unexpectedly from beyond the dark seas, so Garbad flew, the beating of his wings shaking the very foundations of a world that was on the brink of coming into its beginning - if the word of a variously vowelled prophet was to be taken seriously, of course.
It was only after Garbad had flown far, that a matter of most importance came to light. He had no idea where the lands of Thaloth might be. In fact, Thaloth was another of those words that came from a language so old, its main purpose had become to serve as a residence for the deeply famished spiders that wove webs of remarkable artistry. No tome ever written by a great draconic scholar mentioned Thaloth. Not even the bearded storytellers, most cultured in all the stories that populated the world, would have anything to offer.
With this calamitous epiphany, Garbad was forced to stop. He had no idea of where he should be heading.
Perhaps by sensing this great moment of desperation, or only because such intervention would suit as a remarkable use of the Deus Ex Machina to aid the protagonist, the fact is that the prophet once more coalesced into existence, right before Garbad.
It should also come as no surprise, at this point, that the prophet came with more prophesizing.
“I sensed your mind pulling away at the threads of doubt, my prince, and I came as soon as I could,” the prophet said, bowing.
“I must ask you the location of Thaloth, so that I may put an end to the vile knight that will twist our world,” Garbad said. “I have travelled far, by now, but have found nothing.”
“Because you are heading towards the horizon, while the one that dreams of a new beginning lies beyond the rim of stars that shelters our world from greater evils,” the prophet said cryptically. And just as he had appeared, he was no more.
Dwelling on the words of the mysterious prophet, Garbad concluded that they could mean one thing only: he must fly upward.
And so, with a great movement of his wings, the dragon prince relieved the world from the burden that was the weight of his heavy scales, and had his eyes focused on the clouds above. He pierced them with great speed, hoping that he would not find any great castle up there, for fear of damaging the features which his great-grandmother always praised as the most beautiful dragon that there was and had ever been.
Time works differently, when one is trying to reach the stars. Days passed, the promise of success becoming less of a reality as the light of a new beginning gradually manifested. Just as the seventh night began, Garbad, exhausted as he was and about to give up, saw the last cloud before the great sea of glimmering stars that bathed the young dragon in all its glory. And there, in the middle of a constellation known as The Duck’s Liver, a shape waited motionless.
Garbad reached it, and was aghast by what he saw; a strange animal, with a skin made of steel, but with short limbs and an overall sense of frailty to it.
“Are you the knight that I seek?” Garbad asked. His voice echoed, and the stars shivered in awe, for draconic speech stirs great fear and respect. From the shape, however, came nothing. So Garbad raised his claw and touched what he thought to be the head, and to his horror, the skin made of steel fell off, back into the world below. For a moment, the dragon prince thought he had just deprived this motionless being from a body member of great importance, but then he looked closer and saw that below the skin of steel, there was a delicate face, with rosy cheeks and red lips, and hair more golden than all the stars and a scent sweeter than any fruit.
An urge overtook the baffled dragon prince, to bring his long face closer to that of the other creature, and kiss it.
And no more than a moment passed, a moment containing a thousand eternities, when their faces came apart and the being opened its great blue eyes, and smiled.
“You have saved me,” the knight said.
“No,” Garbad said, almost unable to breathe as he lost himself in the perfection of the eyes that mirrored his soul. “You have saved me.”
And thus, by putting a stop to the nightmares that had enslaved the knight’s soul for six nights, Garbad prevented the world from ever beginning, allowing all dragons to retain their place in memory as the most righteous beings that ever have been. He found out that knights could actually be very pleasant, and so they married, starting a new age of great prosperity for all who lived under the rule of dragons.

« Last Edit: September 29, 2014, 06:07:32 PM by M. G. Boronha »
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Offline Carter

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Re: [Sep 2014] - Cliché & Tropes - Submission Thread
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2014, 11:56:22 AM »
Here's my entry for this month.  It's called 'Another Round' and stands at 1499 words.  I hope you all enjoy it.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Another Round

The tankards sloshed, foaming ale dribbling onto the notched and scarred table.  His companions reached to take their mugs, reluctant and resigned.  Nothing could bring men lower than having to drink the disgusting viscous stuff prevalent in dwarf bars.  Prince Amoras winced as he brought the tankard to his lips, shut his eyes and swallowed, doing his best not to let it touch anything but his throat on the way down.  Even so he almost gagged and spat the whole lot out again.  It tasted like the dwarves had fermented earth and succeeded in creating something revolting and potent enough to fell a horse. 

His companions, slightly inured to the taste after days spent in the tavern, fared a little better yet even their faces twisted into grimaces of distaste.  Under any other circumstances, he would never have drunk with them, never even been seen in the room with any of them with the possible exception of the woman.  Here, with no other humans for company and the gruff, inscrutable dwarves inevitably shunning and ignoring anyone not a dwarf, he had little choice.  Besides, if fate had dealt them a hand as horrendous as his, they all deserved each other.

“My round.  As promised,” he said when they had all taken a draft, with only the burly man opposite seeming to enjoy the experience.  “Now.  Tell me what brings you all to this . . . tavern.”

He hesitated to even call it that.  Gone were the sounds of revelry expected in any human establishment, the floor was encrusted with the gods only knew what, and the less he thought about the only drink on offer the better.  Still, humans did not come to a dwarf bar for the atmosphere.
 
“Oh no,” said the skinny man with a smile.  “You first.  You’re the new one here.”

“Indeed, Prince Amoras.  Those are the rules around this table.”

The woman smiled as she said it, her eyes sparkling with a knowing mischief that made him even more reluctant to tell his tale.  And yet, he had never been able to resist a pretty face and sultry voice, gods curse him.  He sighed.  Instead of speaking he unhooked the pouch from his belt, averting his eyes from its familiar bulge as he undid the toggle and let its contents spill across the table. 

Reactions were mixed; the skinny man howled with laughter and rocked back in his chair, the woman covered her mouth with a delicate hand while the burly man just frowned, uncomprehending.

“I can’t believe you fell for it,” said the skinny man. 

Heat flushed his cheeks and his hands bunched into fists.  Apparently he was not as immune to embarrassment as he had believed.   With a long breath he let his anger slide out of him and looked once more at the sparkling crystal slipper lying on the table. 

“She was beautiful, refined, everything I would have expected in a well-born woman.  She said her family mistreated her, that she needed a little money to get away from them.  I gave it to her and more.  I thought I was in love.”

The bitterness welled up inside him once more as he thought of how easily he had been duped, about the arguments with his parents until finally they had cut him off, cast him out and all but disowned him.  All because he had fallen victim to the oldest con in the book.

“One bad decision led to another, and so I’m here.  Poorer, friendless, hopefully wiser - but nowhere near as drunk as I need to be.”

Another laugh plucked at the skinny man’s lips until the woman cuffed him round the head. 

“No more of that,” she said.  “After all, think of your own problems.”

The skinny man shrugged as if it were every day that he wound up in a dwarf bar, exiled from human civilisation and seeking the anonymity it offered its patrons.  Even so, Amoras thought he detected a glint of something within his green eyes.  Sorrow?  Penitence?  It was difficult to tell. 

“Name’s Jack.  Well, it is now anyway.  I’m a thief.  Managed to steal a goose that laid golden eggs from a giant.”

“That was you?”

The shock burst out of him before he could restrain it.  Even though it had happened several kingdoms away, the event was infamous, its lesson salutary and chastening, so much so that he had believed it a fable. 

“Turns out you can’t flood an economy with vast amounts of gold without devaluing the currency, getting run out of every settlement you travel to and having an obscene bounty on your head,” Jack said.

If it weren’t for Jack’s candour, Amoras might have doubted him.  Instead of questioning the truth, he turned his attentions to the woman. 

“And you, my lady?  What brought you here?”

Her posture and bearing made it obvious that the woman had some breeding and deserved the honorific despite whatever sorry turn of events had led her here. 

“That’s sweet,” she said with a smile that quickened his heart.  “It’s a sad tale.”

The burly man frowned into his emptying mug.

“I married a king and life was full of delights.  He already had a daughter by his late wife and I thought I could, if not replace her, then at least make all their lives better.  But the princess hated me from the start, called me wicked and accused me of enchanting the king.  Eventually she convinced the populace that I was a witch.  That’s where Gregor comes in to the story.”

Gregor hunched his shoulders and tried to disappear into his tankard. 

“A farmer’s son trying to become a knight.  He’s strong, handy with a warhammer, but a bit simple.  The princess convinced him she loved him and that he had to kill me to prove his loyalty to her and the kingdom.  So I faked my death, the princess reneged on her promise to Gregor and we ended up here.”

The story’s details plucked at something in his memories.  Looking at the woman, it did not quite fit yet he gave voice to his wonderings. 

“That sounds like what happened to King Fernand and Isabella,” he said. 

Looking at her closely, he could see no resemblance to Isabella.  After all, he had attended that wedding, seen the bride and then heard all the tales that had spread from Fernand’s kingdom in the years that followed.  It made it difficult to give any credence to her tale. 

The woman’s smile was resigned and wretched.

“The same.”

“But you look nothing like Isabella,” he said, his disquiet growing.
 
“That’s because she’s a witch,” said Gregor, his voice low, slow and booming.

Isabella sighed.

“We’ve been over this every day.  I’m not a witch.  I’m a sorceress.  There’s a world of difference.  I’m not evil.  I don’t practise any of the dark arts, no matter what Olivia told you.”

The frown turned into a chasm across Gregor’s forehead but he said no more. 

“I can transform my appearance.  Among other things,” she said, turning to him once more.  “But I used none of those things with Fernand, for all the good it did me.”

The bitterness and regret in her tone almost broke his heart and he had to steel himself against too much sympathy.  For all that he believed her story, he could not get his head around the fact that this radiant woman was a sorceress.  The same sorceress he had heard very damaging and reprehensible tales about back when he had been considered a prince.  But then could he really judge her on those terms?  After what he had been through?

Just face it, you are a failure just like them.  A prince.  A farmer with knightly urges.  A thief and a sorceress.  All worthless.  All cast out.

Morose, he joined them in staring into the depths of the frothing tankard before him, his mind still struggling to take in the changes to his station.  For all he knew wishes were worthless, he longed for a way to rectify his situation, to take back what was his and regain his place. 

Another round of ale - courtesy of Jack - disappeared in another bout of silent, mutual masochism. 

A thief.

Another round.

A sorceress.

Another round.

A knight.

Another round.

An idea struck him. 

“We should join together,” he said. 

The others lifted their eyes from the abyss to stare at him. 

“We could become adventurers.  We can seek out treasures untold.  Protect the innocent and reap the rewards.  With our abilities we should be able to amass a fortune and a reputation in no time.”

Interest and hope seemed to brighten the faces of his drinking companions.  Or perhaps it was the flush of drunkenness.  Either way the concept snowballed.  What better way for them all to regain something of what they had lost?  His smile was broad and delighted.
   
“Who wants another round to celebrate?”

Offline Giddler

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Re: [Sep 2014] - Cliché & Tropes - Submission Thread
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2014, 10:45:30 PM »
Hi all, this is my effort which I nearly binned. All I can say is it's amazing how the cliche's dry up when you're actively going for them.

Spoiler for Hiden:

The Power of the Mon-tarj 1351 words

A frantic thumping at the front door echoed through the College of Heroes, barely audible over the hissing rain. Brother Paul meandered along the corridor, pausing to close the shutters as he went. At the last window he paused to listen, and nodded to himself as the piercing cries of a baby rose up from the courtyard. The knocking started up again, louder, eventually fading to a stop. He leaned out to get a better view and saw a sodden figure hurrying away through the downpour.

He made his way down to the front door, meeting Brother Jerome heading in the same direction. The younger monk cleared his throat in mock reproach.

“Far be it from me to tell you your job, Brother Paul…”

“Far be it from you, indeed. If I have to stand and listen to another round of drivel from the latest kind soul to dump their newborn upon the college…”

Jerome shrugged.

Paul went over to the door and pulled it open. “In my day, they’d at least make up something entertaining: ‘Oh, please look after my baby, he’s the king’s bastard and the queen won’t rest until he’s dead’. That sort of thing used to generate a bit of excitement, you know? People would take an interest. Nowadays, we’re lucky if they remember to knock before they run off.”

He knelt with a pained grunt and picked up the wailing bundle on the doorstep. Moving over to the table in the foyer, he put the baby down on a clean, soft and permanently stained blanket left there for that purpose.

“Let’s have a look at you then. Blond hair - are you getting this?”

“No, sorry, let me just get the right page.” Jerome picked up a ledger. “Alright, go ahead: blond hair…”

Paul appraised the baby further. “Blue eyes; no notable resemblance to any royal persons living or dead. No distinguishing features of any sort, in fact.”

Jerome looked up from his writing. “Nothing? That’s unusual in itself.”

Paul nodded. “Not even a painted-on birthmark in the shape of a crown. I’m beginning to wish I had seen whoever left him here.” He ignored Jerome’s rather smug look and held the baby boy in the crook of his arm while he took the bowl of warm milk handed to him. “Pick him a name, will you?”

Jerome took a huge volume from a shelf and opened it at random. “Gedric.”

“So then, Gedric,” wondered Paul, aloud. He turned to the far wall, where a painting hung above the door, portraying three men: a knight in plate armour, a thief in a hooded cloak, and a bearded mage holding a staff with lightning crackling along it. A brass plate underneath gave the title: ‘Destiny’.

“What are we going to do with you?” he murmured to the baby.

——————————————————————————

Paul and Jerome were in the dining hall when one of the novices ran in excitedly.

“Quickly, Brother Paul, Brother Jerome! You must come and see young Gedric! He reads like a grown man far beyond his years.” Without waiting for a response the novice ran off to revisit the miracle.

Jerome jumped to his feet and hurried towards the door. He stopped and turned as he realised Paul was not behind him. “You’re not coming?” he called over.

Paul shook his head. “It’ll be like this for the first few years. Every thing the boy does out of the ordinary will be proof of his incredible destiny. It gets tiresome after a while.”

Jerome snorted. “You’re hard work sometimes. Now, are you sure I can’t persuade you to come and see an infant pretend to read?”

Paul shook his head. “I’ll pass."

——————————————————-

Gedric was sitting on the bench near the river when Paul found him. The boy’s head was in his hands and he was slumped despondently in the boneless posture of a dejected teenager. It had been his first day of training.

“How did it go?” he asked, sitting down.

“Not great,” admitted Gedric. “Brother Johannes said he had never seen such a profound lack of ability in swordsmanship.”

“Brother Johannes can be harsh at times.”

“And then, in magic training, Brother Arthel went all red in the face and wouldn’t acknowledge my presence for the rest of the lesson.”

“Why?” frowned Paul.

“I performed a summoning spell wrong.”

“Ah.” Paul searched around for some consoling words, but drew a blank. “Stealth training?” he asked, dreading the answer.

“Probably my worst subject. What am I going to do?”

Paul was at a loss for words. It wasn’t the boy’s fault, he knew. The weight of expectation could crush the best of men, he knew, never mind a child. He patted the boy’s shoulder.

“I’ll talk with Jerome. There may be something.”

----------------

Two men and a boy made their unsteady way by flickering torchlight along the tunnel beneath the college. Finally, after several bruises and much swearing, they emerged into a stone chamber. The very walls seemed to exude a sense of forbidden knowledge, and the altar in the centre of the room glowed, despite being made of a darker stone than the walls and floor.

Jerome lit the sconces lining the walls with the torch, and turned to the other two.

“Are we sure we want to do this?” he asked.

Gedric looked uncertain. Paul nodded resignedly. “You know how to perform the ritual?” he asked Jerome.

“Yes. The Rite of Mon-tarj is, fortunately, simple enough for me to conduct. It is, however, one of the most powerful pieces of magic ever devised; a bending of the rules of time and space. If we do this there is no going back.”

Paul swallowed and nodded again. “Well,” he said, “let’s do this shall we?”

They took their places in a triangle with the altar in the centre. Jerome raised his hands and a nimbus of light  surrounded him.

“Mon-tarj…” he whispered. The air seemed to grow thicker, pulsing with power.

“Mon-tarj.” Louder now. At the edge of hearing, they could detect music, strident and powerful. Paul could see the effects of it on the faces across from him. Jerome seemed more purposeful now, less diffident than before.

The music got louder. The Mon-tarj took over.

If Paul was able to recall anything of the episode afterwards, it was of Gedric undergoing an impossible amount of technical learning and physical effort; all squeezed into the few minutes which the music took to run its course. One moment the lad would be struggling to learn a difficult spell or sword move. Then mere seconds later he would be able to perform the skill like an expert, to the accompaniment of man-hugs and the slapping of each other’s palms.

At some point, near the end, the music had degenerated into a kind of squealing wail as though a ghost were inserting itself into a saxophone. By this point no more than four minutes had elapsed, and Gedric had put on several pounds of lean muscle and was shadow boxing around a statue in the courtyard.

———————————————————————

“I’ll miss him,” said Jerome.

Paul grunted in agreement. Gedric had left the training hall the day before for his new job as the Emperor’s chief aide and bodyguard.

“Do you remember that day?” Paul didn’t need to ask which day Jerome meant.

“Of course I do. Why?”

“Do you remember how it felt during the rite? The focus I felt. The energy. It was …” Jerome struggled for the right words.

“Exhilarating,” Paul finished for him. “But we can’t use that power again, can we? Not without too great a cost.”

Jerome shook his head, and both men felt a shared understanding; an acute feeling of loss.

Both men rose and bade each other good night. As they went past a window, a wailing cry floated up from the courtyard. Paul poked his head out of the window and spied the bundle laying in the cot outside the front door. He caught Jerome’s gaze. Without a word, both men grinned and high-fived.