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Author Topic: Let's Do ALL the Contest Prompts!  (Read 4925 times)

Offline WarbossTae

Let's Do ALL the Contest Prompts!
« on: August 12, 2016, 12:39:17 AM »
Sorry for the vague title, but I didn't know how to really express in a phrase what I was thinking of doing.

As a new member to this community, I really love the monthly writing contests and the range of possibilities that a simple prompt can open up for us writers.

What I would like to do is go back to the beginning and do as many of the Writing Contest prompts as I can.

There are some great ones, there are some that look really challenging, and there are some that just make me scratch my head in bewilderment, but as someone who wants to really put words to paper, I think our archive of writing contest prompts is a vault of creative inspiration and I want to tap in to it!

Has anyone attempted this epic journey before? Am I walking in the footprints of heroes?
« Last Edit: August 15, 2016, 02:02:57 AM by WarbossTae »

Offline Raptori

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We've been picking one at random every now and then when we feel like writing something just for the fun of it. Been meaning to make a concerted effort to methodically go through them all, would definitely be a lot of fun!
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline WarbossTae

I agree, Raptori, I think it's going to be an epic undertaking, but a worthwhile one.

Okay then! I'm going to begin my adventure!

I'll post all of my work here on this thread, starting with January 2011 "Pick Two Pictures"

Offline m3mnoch

[in my best arnold voice - which is considerable]

dooo eeet!!

Offline night_wrtr

I say go for it!

I started entering the contests late last year, so there are plenty that looked like great prompts I missed out on. I would like to think I would do that given the time, but I am so lazy sometimes.
Spoiler for Hiden:
Most of the time.

Offline WarbossTae

All right! Here's my first short story, for January 2011's Pick Two Pictures:
http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/(jan-2011)-pick-two-pictures/january-writing-challenge/

I chose the first pair of pictures. Three girls and a dark castle.

The Cave
997 words



Spoiler for Hiden:
“Okay.”

Brynne puckered her lips and furrowed her brow.

She squeezed the stone in her hand. It was cold and heavy, caked in the mud of the forest floor.

“Hiyaaah!”

Brynne hurled the rock into the cave mouth with all the strength her eight year old body could muster.

It hit the darkness and was swallowed immediately.

Silence.

Brynne’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. She exhaled slowly, her breath misting in the chilly air.

“It’s legit, you guys.”

Anella peeked out from where she was hiding behind Brynne. Her voice was full of wonder.

“The Portal Cave.” 

“Okay, no. No, Brynne. Anella! Forget it!”

Cecily stepped in front of her sisters and shook her head.

“But, Ceecee-”

“Anella!” Cecily crossed her arms emphatically and planted her feet. “I’m serious! We’re going back. Now!”

Cecily had only just reached her tenth birthday, but as the oldest of the three sisters, she had adopted the role of mother figure.

It was Cecily who had kept them together as they were shuffled from one foster family to another. It was Cecily who was able to calm Brynne when her sister’s temper threatened to have her sent to boarding school. It was Cecily who told Anella the stories their father used to tell them at bedtime.

And it was Cecily who reminded her younger sisters what their father looked like, during those lonely, terrible nights when they confessed, honestly and with tears in their eyes, that his face was fading from their memories.

It was not Cecily, however, who had found father’s journal.

That was young Anella.

*            *            *

The five year old had been unpacking with her sisters at their latest foster home, when she saw the old, leather-bound diary sitting at the bottom of her pink suitcase.

“What’s this?”

Brynne gasped. Cecily put her hand to her mouth in shock.

“Father’s journal…” Anella whispered.

The diary of Ezra Blankenship: world traveler, amateur adventurer, scientist, archaeologist.

He had many titles, but none as important to his daughters as “father”.

Blankenship had mysteriously vanished two years ago, and the discovery of the journal was both emotional and perplexing. A romantic and dreamer, as well as a great scholar, Blankenship disappeared one night in the middle of dinner. He was never seen or heard from again.

“It can’t be.” Cecily stared.

“It is.” Brynne said through gritted teeth. “Look.”

She pointed at the first page.

“To Daddy, With Love From CeeCee, Brynne, and Anella” 

Cecily took the journal from her sister and turned to the first page. Her sisters crowded around

“’My three angels,’” Cecily read out loud. Immediately, she put the journal down and backed away.

“Ceecee?” Anella’s eyes were wide, worried. “What’s wrong?”

“That’s us, Anella.” Brynne’s voice was soft and fearful. “Father used to call us that. We’re his three angels.”

“This is bad.” Cecily shook her head. She was holding the journal away from her as if it were cursed. “I’ve got a bad feeling, you guys. Where did this even come from?”

“Does it matter?” Anella cried out. “Keep reading, Ceecee!”

Cecily slowly opened the journal and resumed.

“’My three angels, do not be afraid. I know where you are. You are in the house of Joseph and Kathleen Sullivan, your newest foster family. Cecily’s hair is in a ponytail, Brynne is wearing her usual beanie, and Anella is wearing her Smiley Bears t-shirt.”

“I am!” Anella squealed in amazement.

“Whoa,” Brynne gaped.

“’I believe that I will have been lost to you for two years-’”

“Two years, two months, a week, and four days.” Brynne interrupted. “But who’s counting?”
 
“’Luckily, if my calculations are correct, we will all be reunited soon.’”

“Hooray!” Anella clapped her hands, beaming.

“’It was never my intention to leave you. Please forgive me. I have always loved you, more than anything else in the world…and although it broke my heart to leave you behind…please believe that I could not take you with me…’”

Cecily stopped.

“CeeCee?” Brynne put a hand on her older sister’s shoulder.

“I hear him, Brynne.” Cecily said in a shaking voice. “I can hear his voice.”

Brynne gently took the journal from Cecily’s shaking hands, and continued reading.

“’…I could not take you with me, because I could not guarantee your safety. You see, my angels, there are…powers…that exist. Ancient and evil monsters like in the stories I used to read you at bedtime. I discovered a portal, like a gateway, and it led me to where the monsters live. It turns out there are many portals, hidden in the world around us, and we don’t even know it.’”

“Daddy…” Cecily put her arm around Anella and held her close as her younger sister cried.

“’Luckily, the monsters have been dealt with. I have fought them, and defeated them. It is safe for us to be together again. Inside this journal I’ve put a map. It will lead you through the forest behind the Sullivan house to a cave. This Portal Cave will open at precisely…’”

*            *            *

“It’s open! Brynne, CeeCee, look!”

All three girls turned to see the darkness of the cave shimmer and part, like black velvet curtains. Within, they could see the ruins of what was once a great castle. It was twilight, and bats flew from the upper windows and disappeared beyond view.

“We have to go, CeeCee.” Brynne scowled. “Dad is in there, and I’m going to find him.”

“Brynne…”

“Let’s go!” Anella ran into the cave.

“Anella!” the other two followed.

*            *            *

When they emerged, a welcoming party was waiting for them.

Knights clad in dark armor, their faces hidden behind fully enclosed helmets.

“Hello, angels.”

Rumbled the leader, a knight with a black cape, as the girls huddled close to each other.

This man wasn’t their father.

They couldn’t see any of the knights’ faces, but the sisters knew that their father wasn’t among them.

They knew this, because their father’s bloody head was hanging from the leader’s saddle.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2016, 09:07:54 PM by WarbossTae »

Offline WarbossTae



Here's my submission for February 2011 (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/(feb-2011)-romance/february-writing-challenge/)

Upon Reflection
499 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
Upon reflection, it had not been a bad life.

The old wizard lay on his deathbed, this thought forefront in his mind.

He had traveled all over the world, authored many books on the nature of magic. He had trained a number of apprentices who, in turn, had gone on to wonderful things.

There was Reynaldo Florenza, who created the Warlock’s Incantation: a revolutionary way of channeling magical power. A simple phrase that, when spoken, greatly increased a wizard’s power with only a minimal increase in the chance of catastrophic miscast. Florenza was celebrated for years, until he was eventually consumed by daemonic powers while trying to cast a simple Spell of Cleaning on his dusty library.

Lucian laughed all the time at that, although he always felt guilty afterward.

Another student, Clarissa Welch, had fought in King Cedric’s army and won great acclaim at Cedric’s Last Stand against the Zhu-Tao Hordes at Black Swamp.

Lucian had been at the ceremony of remembrance and listened with tears in his eyes as Prince Jarrod recounted how Clarissa summoned a gateway portal and held off the barbarians long enough for him to escape through it.

He thought of them all fondly. He thought of himself. He thought of the only woman he had ever loved.

“Why the smile, Lucian?” the smell of lavender heralded her entrance seconds before she spoke.

Liliana had entered his tower through a gateway portal, of course. She was able to open them silently, without the characteristic ‘pop!’ or vacuum of air sucking through the magic tunnel between anchor points.

Ninety years studying magic and he never could figure it out.

“Remembering…old friends…” Lucian was overcome with a coughing fit. He covered his mouth, and was unsurprised to find his sleeve speckled with blood when he regained his breath.

“You are dying.” It was not a question.

“Yes.” He rolled over, refusing to look at her. He knew what he would see: Liliana Goldleaf, as beautiful as the day they had first met.

She was an elf, immortal and timeless. She would always appear to be in her mid-20’s, while he would continue to look more like a skeleton in a suit of sagging leather.

“Did you ever create a spell to prolong your life?” she sat beside him and stroked his clammy forehead.

“No.”

“Do you regret loving me?” she asked quietly.

“Not for a second.”

Silence.

“I will miss you when you are gone. Look.”

He rolled over and saw the magical hand mirror. He looked at his reflection, and was unsurprised to see himself, but ninety years younger, smiling back at him.

“See?” his younger self said, looking at the old man trapped in the mirror. “I’ll always love you, Lilly. Until my dying day.”

Liliana put down the mirror and reached out for Lucian’s hand. It was strong, confident, sure. The old man in the mirror disappeared as her magic faded.

“Then let us share the time we have.”

Offline Lady Ty

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Belated welcome Warboss Tae and congratulations on this terrific idea. Love reading short stories and although the Contest has to get my first attention for reading votes, this will be huge ongoing fun with no time pressure, so thanks. ;D
“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.” 
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Offline WarbossTae

Belated welcome Warboss Tae and congratulations on this terrific idea. Love reading short stories and although the Contest has to get my first attention for reading votes, this will be huge ongoing fun with no time pressure, so thanks. ;D

Thank you, Lady! I'm really excited and hope I'll be able to churn out at least a few a week!

I've decided to start a Smashwords profile and put all of my work up as short stories. They're going to be free for now, but eventually, I might put them into an anthology, if I get a positive enough response.

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WarbossTae

Next up, Poetry submission for March 2011!

Offline WarbossTae

Re: Let's Do ALL the Contest Prompts!
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2016, 04:40:56 AM »
Here is my March 2011 Writing Prompt submission!
http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/(mar-2011)-poetry/march-writing-challenge/

The Red Widow of Avonleigh
694 Words

Spoiler for Hiden:
Ka loo diddy doo! Ka loo dilly dee!
Beware ye the ghost of the Red Widow Bree!
She haunts now the ruins of sad Avonleigh,
The ancient estate overlooking the sea.

But the Widow was once a fair bride-to-be.
Her intended? The heir to a great family.
Her ancestral home was called Avonleigh
Sitting high on the cliffs overlooking the sea.

Her groom loved another, however, not she:
Her very own sister, the sweet Melody.
Bree made this unfortunate discovery
When she pilfered sweet Melody’s red diary.

Yes, Bree was suspicious, full of jealousy
She thought herself plainer than sweet Melody.
She could not imagine the truth, which was Bree
Had and ever would the prettier of sisters be.

And so, Bree flew through the dark Avonleigh
That tragic estate overlooking the sea.
And on that black, stormy night at quarter past three
She opened and read Melody’s diary.   

It told of the glances between she and he
Confessed of romances, forbidden. And Bree,
With a broken heart hurled that red diary
From the uppermost window, out into the sea.

She sobbed in despair. A voice whispered, “Bree…”
Still tearful, she looked up. What did she see?
‘Twas a man, tall and thin, smiling quite wolfishly,
“Ka loo diddy doo! Ka loo dilly dee!”

“You poor dear, I will help you,” The Tall Man decreed.
“For your suffering saddens my heart so to see.
I will fix them this night, just you wait!” stated he.
“Ka loo diddy doo! Ka loo dilly dee!”

And what happened next happened so gruesomely
That, dear reader, if squeamish you happen to be
I implore you, stop reading, and brew up some tea.
For happier unknowing you’ll certainly be.

Well that evening, the Tall Man, at just half past three
Followed by vengeful and terrible Bree
He entered the chambers of her the groom-to-be
While humming that nonsense, “Ka loo dilly dee!”

The bridegroom woke, screaming in pain. Agony!
The knives were red hot, and they repeatedly
Were plunged*SNIKKIT SHUNK* into his soft body
And the last thing he saw before death claimed him? Bree.

Next they entered the chambers of sweet Melody
And the Tall Man jumped on to her bed with such glee
That the poor girl awoke with a start, mumbling “Bree?”
But the Tall Man just laughed, “Ka loo dilly dee!”

And the knives sang again and again. Melody
Screaming “Why?” and “Please, sister!” so horribally.
Reached out with shaking hand, so pale and bloody
To grab the Tall Man, but what she grabbed was Bree.

“Why, you ask, cherished sister?” she rasped terribly.
“I have read what you wrote in your red diary!
How you planned to elope with my bridegroom-to-be!
Ka loo diddy doo! Ka loo dilly dee!”

“Oh, Bree, I would never…” gasped sweet Melody
As her life dribbled out “Besides, don’t you see…
That red’s always been your color. My diary
Is blue…” and she died then, in the arms of Bree.

Melody’s blood fell like syrup.
Plip.
Plop.
The silver knives clattered to the cold stone floor.
   Bree’s white wedding gown-
(when had she put it on? She couldn’t remember.)
Was now stained a deep, dark
   Red.
      Blood.
         Plip. Plop.
Bree gasped.
Her eyes widened.
As if she was waking from a
Trance.
But where was the Tall Man?
Nowhere to be found.
Just Melody’s body, cooling.
   But still warm
      At least, for a while
         In her arms.
Bree screamed.
   In despair?
      In Confusion?
         In Rage?
No one could say, for no one was left.
Avonleigh sat cold and empty that night.
The Tall Man (or Bree?) had gone on a spree.
And painted the walls red with the blood of her
   Friends.
      Family.
         Servants.
            Strangers.
Her red wedding gown would never again be
   White.
      Pure.
         Clean.
Her sobs turned to laughter.
Though nobody heard.
Alone in her madness,
She uttered these words.
“So be it,” rasped Bree,
Then, she started to hum
As her senses broke free.

“Ka loo diddy doo! Ka loo dilly dee!
Beware ye the ghost of the Red Widow Bree!
She haunts now the ruins of sad Avonleigh,
The ancient estate overlooking the sea.”
« Last Edit: August 16, 2016, 09:33:18 PM by WarbossTae »

Offline WarbossTae

Re: Let's Do ALL the Contest Prompts!
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2016, 02:41:40 PM »
Hope After The Fall
996 Words

Writing Prompt:
http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/(apr-2011)-hope-warmth/april-writing-challenge/

Spoiler for Hiden:
The shot was clean. The wolf dropped like a rock.
Leland exhaled, his breath frosting before his eyes.
He lowered the bow.
The beast had not been easy to track. It had led him on a merry chase, and more than once Leland had thought he'd lost it.
But as the snowstorm died down, Leland had seen it, skulking through the bushes.
It had looked up and locked eyes with Leland just as he raised the bow.
The arrow had flown true and now the beast was dead.
But Leland had to be sure.
In this new world, nothing was as simple as it used to be.
Dead things sometimes did not stay that way for long, and the simple rules that used to govern Leland's existence had all gone out the window the day the bombs fell.
Crunching through the snow, he pulled a sharp knife from his belt.
It glinted in the sunlight.
"Oh shit."
The body was gone.
Leland's mind raced. Where-
The snap of the twig and a low growl were Leland's only warning before it hit him like freight train.

In another lifetime, Leland had played college football. One game, he had gotten tackled so hard that his collarbone snapped, even under the padding.
That night in the forest outside the compound, as he fell under two hundred pounds of savage rage, Leland thought the same thought he had twenty years ago: "Sharon, don't laugh..."
She had sat with him in the ambulance, even though she wasn't supposed to.
She waited for him outside the ER all night.
He decided that night that he would marry her one day.

Leland had lost the knife when he fell.
The wolf was smart.
Even with the arrow embedded in what had to have been its heart, it had worked back and around, then jumped him from the opposite side.
Leland felt its jaws clamping down. It tried to shake him, hard. Kill him by snapping his neck.
Sharon.
His hands fumbled clumsily at his belt.
Pistol!
The hot, foetid breath of the wolf reeked of spoiled meat and blood.
His blood!
Sharon...don't laugh...
BANG! BANG! BANG!

BANG! BANG! BANG!
Sharon cried out as the firecrackers popped and jumped at her feet.
Leland smiled, watching her run back to the porch.
They were alone. His uncle had built the cabin deep in the Michigan wilderness. Their own private retreat, away from the world.
"YOU light the next one." Sharon fell into his lap.
He kissed her. Long, lovingly.
"I love you. You're more than enough firecracker for me."
"Shut up. Moron." She laughed.
Her hair smelled like vanilla. He held her hand, watching the light sparkle on their wedding rings.
"We'll go to Hawaii next year. I promise."
"Okay."
An owl hooted in the distance. She looked up into his eyes.
"So your uncle was...what?"
"A Prepper."
"Okay..."
"Yeah. 'Doomsday Prepper'. Living off the grid, preaching the fall of society and all that."
"Wow." She kissed the top of his head.
"It's okay. I didn't really know him."
"He couldn't have been that bad. He left you this beautiful cabin."
"Well, you know," Leland smiled, "he was a little crazy."

"RAAAAARGH!"
Leland pulled himself out from under the carcass.
He screamed.
He laughed, leaning back against the giant bulk of the dead monster.
He whooped.
He laughed again, despite the pain in his back and his neck.
He was alive.
"Oh. Shit."
The gunshots.
Leland looked around.
The commotion.
He got to his feet, shakily. He was light-headed.
Blood loss.
Needed to get back.
Snow was falling again. His breath turned to steam in the cold air.
"Come on."

"Come on!"
Leland honked his horn, adding to the cacophony.
Sharon's breathing was ragged, strained.
The baby was coming and the biggest highway in the state was a parking lot.
Hundreds (thousands?) of terrified citizens fleeing the city.
"Leland..." Sharon was pale, her face clammy. "What's happening?"
Sirens in the night. Panicked newscasters trying to make sense of it all.
Who had attacked first? Didn't matter. Bombs were falling in every country. Missiles fired off as a reaction to missiles already fired off.
The end of the world. It was...
"The cabin!"
Leland gritted his teeth, and hit the gas.
"Hold on, baby!" He cried in joy. "We're going to be okay!"

"Going to be okay...be okay..."
Leland hobbled through the snow.
Almost there.
"I'm coming, baby..."
The compound loomed ahead. Safety from the madness outside.
It had been his uncle's cabin once. The night the bombs fell, he and Sharon had made it there. Survivors began showing up over time, and now it was a fortress.
The gates opened. His daughter ran out to meet him.
"Daddy!"
He scooped her up.
She was perfect. His light in the darkness.
"Daddy? What happened?"
"Nothing, baby. Daddy's fine."
"You're bleeding."
"Just a scratch."
Her eyes searched his.
"Did you find anyone?"
"No, baby. I didn't."
"Do you think anyone's left?"
"Out there? Maybe."
The gates closed behind them.
Thomas was coming to meet him.
"Everything all right, chief?"
"Yeah. I got her."
"Purestrain?"
"No. Third gen mutant, maybe fourth. Three eyes. Quills on its back like a porcupine. Took an arrow to the heart and it only got meaner."
"God Damn."
"Language."
"Sorry. Sorry, Hope."
"Double sentries for the next few nights, yeah? I had to use my sidearm to finish it."
"We heard the shots. Coleman and Dowd are rounding up extra hands now."
"Good. I'm gonna see Doc Orly."
"Okay, Chief."
"Poker tomorrow night?"
"You know it."
Leland and Hope continued walking. He waved at familiar faces.
Sharon was waiting for them, Leland's newborn son in her arms.
She laughed when she saw him.
 


The worst thing about the end of the world was realizing how dependent we were on things that didn't matter.
The best thing?
Realizing the things that matter most are right in front of you.
 
« Last Edit: August 27, 2016, 05:02:49 PM by WarbossTae »

Offline WarbossTae

Re: Let's Do ALL the Contest Prompts!
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2016, 09:59:58 AM »
So, this last story, Hope After The Fall, was one I enjoyed so much, that I actually added a lot to it before submitting it to Smashwords. I won't include it here, as I want this thread to mainly be about how closely I can stick to the writing contest guidelines, but I will provide the link to the FREE download of the story on my Smashwords page. I hope you enjoy it!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/661725

Offline tebakutis

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Re: Let's Do ALL the Contest Prompts!
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2016, 06:55:36 PM »
So, this last story, Hope After The Fall, was one I enjoyed so much, that I actually added a lot to it before submitting it to Smashwords. I won't include it here, as I want this thread to mainly be about how closely I can stick to the writing contest guidelines, but I will provide the link to the FREE download of the story on my Smashwords page. I hope you enjoy it!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/661725

I haven't had time to read these yet, but I just want to say, sir, well done. Congrats on finishing! \m/

Offline WarbossTae

Re: Let's Do ALL the Contest Prompts!
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2016, 09:15:43 PM »
So, this last story, Hope After The Fall, was one I enjoyed so much, that I actually added a lot to it before submitting it to Smashwords. I won't include it here, as I want this thread to mainly be about how closely I can stick to the writing contest guidelines, but I will provide the link to the FREE download of the story on my Smashwords page. I hope you enjoy it!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/661725

I haven't had time to read these yet, but I just want to say, sir, well done. Congrats on finishing! \m/

Thank you, sir! I am excited to continue working through all the prompts. It's a nice distraction from everything else I've got on my plate hehehe

I especially love the Flash Fiction format, where the word count is high enough to crank out an interesting storyline, while being low enough to not bog us down in minutiae and let us focus on the important stuff (action, character, conflict, etc.) I can't wait to see what else I can whip up in the coming months.

The plan is to eventually compile all of them together into an anthology when I have enough to warrant slapping a $2.99 price tag on them! I look forward to posting all my work and getting feedback from the community!

Offline WarbossTae

Re: Let's Do ALL the Contest Prompts!
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2016, 02:37:56 AM »
The Old Warrior
1995 words

Prompt:
http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/(jun-2011)-storms/june-writing-challenge/

Hahahaha the story is supposed to take place during a storm, and even though I had that in my mind the entire time I was writing, I realized while I coming up with this story that I had no place to really describe a good storm. I sort of shoe horned it into the end, but I think it sets an appropriate tone. Hope you like it!

Spoiler for Hiden:
“We’re closing up, sir.”
Otto Wallach walked over and patted the solid oak countertop for emphasis.
“Gonna have to ask you to leave.”
Otto was a large slab of a man. A lifetime spent swinging a sword and wielding a shield had given Otto an impressive frame. Many townspeople gossiped that somewhere in his family lineage an Ogre must have snuck in.
“Don’t be stuffy. Pour us a drink.”
The old man’s voice rasped and grated like sandpaper.
“Sir, The Warrior’s Rest is a respectable establishment. Why don’t you try The Chum Bucket dockside, or Rotten Randy’s in Dwarf Town?”
The old man chuckled.
“Otto Wallach. Used to be ‘The Shieldwall’. Defender of the weak, protector of Blumpfkof village, slayer of trolls, goblins, and vampires.”
The color drained from Otto’s face.
“Blumpfkof. I haven’t heard that name in a long time.”
“It still stands today because of you. Because ‘The Shieldwall’ and his Bright Company saved them from that rampaging tribe of werewolves.”
“How do you know me, sir?”
“The better question is, ‘how much’? How much do I know? Do I know that your tavern is now going bankrupt? Thin layers of dust on all the tables and chairs. Not a single customer tonight, besides myself. You don’t have a serving girl and you sent your cook home early.”
“Business has been slow.”
“Slow enough to seek help from Don Reynaldo?”
Otto reached for the dagger at his belt.
“No! Don’t you do that, Otto!”
A small, black powder pistol suddenly appeared in the old man’s hand. It was aimed at Otto’s heart. Otto froze.
“We’re just having a conversation, Otto! Why would you reach for your dagger like that?”
“There’s no money. Take whatever else you want. Please, sir, I have a family.”
“I know that. And stop calling me ‘sir’!”
Keeping the pistol aimed at Otto, the old man glanced around.
“Damn it, Otto…How did you end up here? You should be leading armies on crusades, or advising King Jarrod on how to protect the kingdom. Not wasting away in the darkness, behind a bar, in debt to moneylenders and goons.”
“Didn’t want to fight anymore. Lost the stomach for it.”
“I know. Relax, Otto, I’m not going to hurt you. You’re damn near a brother to me. Lock the door. Pour us a drink. I want to tell you a story. Won’t be long. You can return to Shoshandra and your boy right after, I promise.”
With the barrel of the deadly pistol trained on him the entire time, Otto did as he was instructed.
“Do you remember,” the old man crowed, “your good friend Vandis?”



Vandis the Thief, also known as Velvety Vandis, Silver-Tongued Vandis, and The Slippery Eel of Davinport.
Vandis was an orphan, and had learned at a young age that if we wanted to survive, he would need to be faster and smarter than everyone around him. He picked pockets and cut purses in the market square. He joined a local gang of street urchins and learned how to pick locks from the leader, Garvey Roche the Roach. When Garvey was finally caught and beheaded, Vandis took over the crew.
And when the authorities finally caught up with Vandis’ gang, he fled the city and ended up at a roadside tavern. One identical to The Warrior’s Rest.
That was where he met Otto, twenty years younger and full of excitement to have left his farm for the first time.
Also in the tavern was the beautiful sword maiden Lilianna, who laughed loudly and with all the bravado of her native Corsica. Her fiery red hair was tied back with an ivory pin in the shape of a dragon.
There was Dwarf warrior, Hargrimm. He was gruff and humorless, which made all of Vandis’ jokes at his expense even funnier.
The archer, Joachim, was originally a hunter. His wife had been slain and his farm razed to the ground by marauding goblins.
Finally, there was a young wizard, Mannheim, who had recently completed his apprenticeship and was conducting what he called a “practical application” of what he had learned under the tutelage of his former master, Ultor the Stark.
The six of them shared drinks and gossip long into the night. When the sun came up the next morning, they left side-by-side, to seek adventure, glory, and gold.
The days became weeks, weeks became months, and months became years.
A harpy tore Joachim’s throat out with its talons. The next week, they were joined by a Halfling knife-thrower named Hamish. After a particularly nasty scuffle with a cyclops, Hargrimm left with his share of the treasure, decreeing the foolishness of all manlings. They were later joined by the twins Aeric and Daerik, who were Sword Dancers from the kingdom of Le Spania. Comrades were lost or left for new adventures, and new companions were made.
“We should have a name.” Vandis said one night as they ate roast rabbit and quail around the fire.
Mannheim scoffed from where he was reading, away from the others. “Why do we need a name?”
“Broaden your worldview, Manny!” Vandis threw a haunch at Mannheim. Just before it hit the wizard, Mannheim made a sign with one hand and the bone bounced off an invisible shield.
Vandis continued, addressing the rest of the group.
“Our legend is growing, Otty. We are gaining a reputation across the kingdom! We should have a name that can be spoken with admiration and respect throughout the entire world! Right now, when people speak of us, they just call us ‘Vandis’ Group’.”
“Ha! Vandis’ Group?” Lilianna was curled up beside Otto. She laughed, beaming. “I think people call us Lilianna’s Group!”
Otto leaned in and kissed Lilianna sweetly.
Out of the corner of his eye, Vandis saw Mannheim watching the two lovers.
“We should be the Bright Company!” Hamish mumbled, his mouth full of roasted quail.
“Bright Company, I like that.” Otto agreed, squeezing Lilianna close.
“It does have a ring to it, Otty.” Vandis smiled.



“Who are you to tell me of these things?” Otto said between gritted teeth. He slammed his hands on the bar and bellowed “I was there for all of it!”
The old man smiled. Many of his teeth were missing.
“So was I, Otty.”
Otto recoiled in horror.
“Vandis? Vandis, is that you? How is this possible?”
The old man shook his head. “Vandis is dead, Otty. I am his shade.”
Otto collapsed into a chair. The old man hobbled off the barstool and joined him at the table.
“Do you remember Illuvia, Otty?”



The Catacombs of Illuvia, lair of the evil wizard Mortimer. By then, The Bright Company had been comprised of thirty individuals, each with his or her own skills and talents.
Clad in shining full plate steel armor, wielding his war hammer and tower shield, he looked very much like a knight out of the story books.
“Companions!” Otto bellowed, raising his hammer above his head. “The sorcerer Mortimer hides in these ruins, seeking to unlock mastery over death! With the knowledge of Necromancy, he will create an army of the undead and wreak havoc upon our fair kingdom. Now, I know that many of you are here for riches and treasure, and that you shall receive! But remember, firstly, that what we do is right and just. Let us purge the land of this evil!”
Otto was always the one with the moral compass. That sense of justice and purity. That compassion.
He was the hero story book knights were based upon.
But even “The Shieldwall” was not strong enough to save his friends that day.
The day The Bright Company was destroyed.
Mortimer’s magic proved stronger than Mannheim’s. His traps were brilliantly hidden, and even Vandis’ keen eyes could detect them. And the undead minions they faced were possessed of an unimaginable strength and ferocity.
Hamish the Halfling, always the first to break into song or fart for a laugh, was cut cleanly in half by a blade trap set in the wall.
Aeric’s head was crushed by the club of a bone giant. Daerick refused to leave his brother’s body and he died at the end of Aeric’s sword, when Mortimer’s black magic reanimated him.
One by one, The Bright Company fell as they desperately tried to fight their way to Mortimer’s inner sanctuary. And one by one, they were cut down again when Mortimer raised them from the dead to fight their former friends.
Otto, Vandis, Mannheim, and Lilianna were the only survivors to penetrate Mortimer’s secret library.
He was waiting for them.
Exhausted from wielding so much black magic, the sorcerer barely had the strength to pick up his staff and meet what was left of The Bright Company.
“Die!” Mortimer wasted no more words than this as a lance of green fire shot from his staff.
Mannheim, himself weakened from using protective and healing magic throughout their ordeal in the catacombs, still managed to put up a barrier of blue light, shielding the four of them as they walked forward.
“Hold, Mannheim!” Otto shouted as they pushed forward, closing the distance inch by inch.
“I can’t, Otto!” Mannheim was exhausted, his arms quivering with effort as he struggled to keep the barrier together.
“We’re not going to make it!” Vandis screamed.
Lilianna looked back and forth between her friends and the evil wizard.
“Mannheim, don’t you drop that barrier! Vandis, get ready! Otto,” Lilianna kissed Otto on the lips and looked briefly into his eyes. “I love you.”
She was gone, rushing behind them and around to the side.
“No!” Mannheim shouted hoarsely.
“Lilianna!” Otto screamed.
Vandis did not say or shout anything. He was aiming his pistol.
“Here, monster!” Lilianna raised her swords over her head, running at Mortimer from the side.
The evil wizard shrieked and turned to hit Lilianna with the full force of the green fire.
She disappeared into the light.
Vandis pulled the trigger.



“Enough, Vandis.” Otto interrupted. “I remember all of this. Why do you torture me by bringing it up again?”
“Because he loved her, Otto!” A thin line of drool fell unnoticed from the side of Vandis’ mouth. He was raving. “Mannheim went back! He wanted to restore her. Bring her back.”
“No.” Otto shook his head. His voice was a terrified whisper. “It’s impossible.”
“He’s a wizard, Otto.” Vandis nodded, licking his leathery lips as he continued. “You know they don’t see things the way we do. They think nothing is out of their power, if they only know the right incantation!”
“And you followed him? Is that…” Otto gestured at his friend’s face.
“Fifty years, Otto!” Vandis grabbed Otto’s shirt and pulled him close. “Mannheim banished me to another dimension for fifty years! He said I wouldn’t find my way back, but I did! I found my way here! And now, we’re going to find Mannheim, together, and we’re going to finish what he started!”
“No!” Otto rose, kicking over his chair. “Vandis, I’m sorry-but, no. How do you expect us-the two of us! Against…against whatever Mannheim has become! We barely made our way out the last time, and we were in our prime. Thirty of us, Vandis! How can you-I mean, look at you!”
“Look at you, Otto.” Vandis said quietly. He rose unsteadily and hobbled toward the door. “We all looked up to you. We wanted to be worthy of you. Of your sense of justice and decency. Now, you just turn your back?”
“I’m sorry, Vandis.” Otto couldn’t meet his friend’s gaze. “I have a family now.”
“Oh, Otty…” Vandis stopped at the door. “We were your family, too.”



The catacombs of Illuvia. Midnight.
Thunder cracked loudly overhead. Lightning forked across the sky.
The rain fell in torrents.
Otto adjusted the ill-fitting chainmail shirt over his tunic. It had been too long since he had moved in armor.
“Vandis,” He whispered, his voice lost in the storm. “I’m coming, friend.”
« Last Edit: September 02, 2016, 03:29:40 AM by WarbossTae »