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Re: [Nov 2017] - Water - Submission Thread Hello everyone! Long time lurker, second time poster ( I was going to say first time poster, but apparently I registered here three and-a-half years ago and posted only once.) I liked this month's prompt, and thus I've decided to throw my hat into the ring. I give you:

STORM WALKER 1348 words

Edit: almost forgot, there's a bit of foul language in this piece. Be forewarned!

Spoiler for Hiden:
Gandrian returned to Harbourbridge.

So too, did the rain.

He treaded into town, his shoulder aching under the weight of gold he’d carried from the next settlement. A hopeless venture. . . But all he could do, was try.

He headed straight to the port, and found the Storm Rider docked where it had been two days prior. "Hello again!" Said Captain Dantes, standing atop the plank.

Gandrian merely nodded.

"Looks like you were right," said the Captain. "Never seen a storm change its mind quite like that. Tough luck, fella. Should've been here yesterday, when the rain let up. Sure came back with a vengeance."

"Don't suppose you'd want to set off anyway?" Gandrian asked as he ascended the plank, boarding Dantes' ship.

He chuckled. "No can do. Too choppy. Anybody who sets sail in this mess is asking for a watery grave."

"You wouldn't have to worry about marauders," Gandrian argued. "Likely they wouldn't be foolish enough to set sail in this weather."

The Captain laughed. "And I suppose you think, that I would be foolish enough?"

Gandrian shook his head. "Desperate enough, maybe." He slung the bag from his shoulder and opened it,
pulling out a handful of gold. "Fifty coins, for safe passage to Teroth."

"No such thing as safe passage. Not in this weather." He took a good long look at the coins; it was likely more currency than he'd seen in a year. "Not interested in your money, at any rate."

Gandrian knew that the Captain might change his mind. "Seventy-five gold coins, then. That's twenty more than what we agreed upon."

Dantes shook his head. "That's an awful lot o' money," he said with an air of suspicion.

Gandrian could read the look on his face. "It isn't stolen," he said.

Dantes eyed him intently. Then the coins. Then Gandrian, again. "You on the run from somebody?"

"Myself," Gandrian replied. "One hundred coins, if that's what it takes to convince you."

There was silence between the two men, but only for a moment. Then once again the Captain refused. "Sorry fella, can't help ya. None of this sits right with me."

Reluctantly, Gandrian closed the bag of coins. He nodded towards the ship. "You should change the name," he said. "It's a falsehood."

Dantes took insult to that. "Best hold your tongue. The Storm Rider is legendary around these parts."

"Seems your legend is nothing but a tall tale. A lie."

"Pot calling the kettle black," said the Captain. "You’ve been dodgy from the moment we first met! What's so important about Teroth, eh?"

“It's somewhere else," he simply replied. "Anywhere's better than here."

"Do better than that," Dantes said, "and maybe we can talk business."

Gandrian hesitated. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"Well, humour me."

Gandrian said nothing.

The silence ran long, until The Captain turned toward his cabin. Gandrian followed him.  "Everyone in town told me, 'Go see Captain Dantes, he's your man. Old man Dantes, why, he's fearless! He's sailed through a maelstrom and lived to tell the tale!'"

Dantes just shook his head. "Don't believe everything you hear." He sighed. "Just wait until the storm clears, I'm sure someone will get you to where you're going." He kept walking. "Won't be me, though." The Captain then stepped into his quarters and out of the rain.

Gandrian strode in behind him before the door could be shut. "It's not gonna let up," Gandrian said. "Not until Harbourbridge is under water. You can either set sail before that happens, or after. Up to you."

The Captain turned. "Who the hell do you think you are?"

Again Gandrian hesitated, but only for a moment. Then he dropped the bag of coins on the Captain's desk, and looked him dead in the eye. "They call me Storm Walker."

Immediately, the Captain laughed. He laughed as if he'd never heard something so funny in all his life. "Friend, I've never had the gall to tell a paying customer this, not in all of my years sailing the seas. . . But you sir, can fuck right off."

Fuck off, Gandrian most certainly didn't. "Two days ago I told you the storm would return, did I not?"

"So what?" Asked Dantes.

"So, here it is. And here I am. I left for Ravenscrest, to procure your payment. In doing so, the town was nearly washed away."

He sighed. "I'd heard. Lots of folks fled to Harbourbridge. I was tempted to set sail yesterday, but. . ." Dantes hesitated.

"But you didn't want to get caught at sea when the storm returned."

"Aye," said Dantes.

"You would have missed it," Gandrian said. "You believed me when I said the rain would return. Believe me now, that so long as I am here, the tempest will remain."

“If you really are the Storm Walker,” Dantes suggested, “then I’d be doing the world a favour by doing away with you. Permanently.”

“Go ahead,” Gandrian dared Captain Dantes. "Legend tells that he who kills the storm bringer, bears his curse." It was a complete fabrication, of course. But it was a lie that had saved Gandrian more than a few times. . . He'd told it so often that it had become part of his legend, surpassing him wherever he went. "I'm sure you'll enjoy a lifetime of unruly seas."

The Captain clenched his fists, as if he was ready to start throwing punches. 

Gandrian didn't back down. "Having doubts?"

Dantes slammed his closed fist on the table, causing the coins to jump. "So," said Dantes. "Teroth, then."

Gandrian smirked. "Do this for me, and I'll never bother you again." He stared the Captain down. "I've been all over this continent, and everywhere I go death is nipping at my heels. I want to go to Teroth, because it's somewhere I've never been. . .  I’ve heard that they have sprawling deserts there, sand dunes as far as the eye can see. It would be a good place for me to wander. These lands have suffered enough at my hands."

The look of utter contempt on the Captain's face was priceless. “All of your gold.”

Gandrian nodded. “Done.”

Dantes picked up the bag of coins, marched out of his cabin and went below deck. Gandrian followed. "Would be easier for everyone if you just took a long walk off a short pier," Dantes said over his shoulder.

"I've thought about it. Much easier said than done."

Down below, the ship's crew was waiting. "Gents, good news and bad news." Dantes dropped the bag, letting its contents spill out. "That's the good news. I'll let you figure out the bad."

Judging by the looks on their faces, the rest was obvious. Gandrian had never thought anyone could be so unhappy to see a pile of gold. "Lord Almighty, what god-forsaken curse have you brought us?" Said one of the crewmen.

"He doesn't answer," said Gandrian. "I've been asking him that for years."

* * *

Soon the Storm Rider was bound for Teroth; a place Gandrian knew only by name.

During the long hellish journey across angry seas, the crew asked many questions of the lone stranger travelling aboard their vessel; if he was truly who he claimed to be. . . He told them much of his journeys. He spoke of a place called Ironwell, where him and his true love once lived; when the flood began, he had desperately tried to help the townsfolk escape, staying until the bitter end when the setllement was eventually submerged. Little did he know, all he needed to do was leave Ironwell behind, and it would have been saved. . .

It would not be long after, that he came to understand: Death followed him.

As for his true love, she had escaped with her life. . . But Gandrian, knowing what their lives would become, chose to leave her behind as he begun his endless journey, lest his curse become her burden.

And so he wandered, forever alone. Only the grey skies kept him company.

December 01, 2017, 02:36:55 AM
Re: [Nov 2017] - Water - Discussion Thread Hello everyone! My name's Norm.

I was an aspiring author, once upon a time. I used to participate in the SFFWorld forum contests (and perhaps will participate in them again in the future, although that forum seems to have really died down.) Hoping re-ignite the spark by getting involved in this forum's short story contests. I posted an entry into this month's contest, and hopefully you'll be seeing more of me in the month's to come!

December 01, 2017, 02:58:57 AM
Re: How much did you write today?
600+ words, which will be welcome news to my readers.

Does anyone else find that the current political situation saps your energy/will to live?

It certainly makes writing good fiction more difficult; hard to write things that are out of the ordinary, when real life continues to defy logic and be stranger than the strangest imaginings. . .

December 10, 2017, 02:20:43 AM
Re: [Jan 2018] - Rebirth/Renewal - Submission Thread
I'm in:

A Clockwork Conspiracy
1500 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
"I have a task for you."

He was an off duty Night Guard, still dressed in his patrol uniform, his sword sheathed at his hip. He opened his palm, revealing three antique coins. Geralt whistled; they were the Old Currency, highly sought-after but seldom seen. "Must be a pretty big job, for that kinda pay."

"Not exactly." He placed them upon Geralt's anvil. "I was hoping you could tell me what kind of alloy this is."

Geralt shook his head. "That's a fine question. At a glance, I couldn't say."

"If you forged something from them, would that give you a better idea?"

"It likely would,” Gerald laughed. “If I were foolish enough to destroy such valuable coins."

"You would be compensated for your efforts," he told the blacksmith.

Geralt was baffled. "The destruction of currency is a criminal offense."

The officer suddenly lifted one of the coins, and threw it into the fires of the forge.

"Are you mad!?” Geralt quickly grabbed a pair of tongs, attempting to retrieve the coin.

"Leave it be," the officer told him. "I suspect it will still be there when the fire dies. The metal does not seem to retain heat. It does not even tarnish under flame."

The blacksmith put down his tongs.

"The banks have been relentlessly trying to acquire every last one of these.” The officer pushed the two remaining coins together. “Have you ever set two of them side by side?"

Geralt had never even seen two of the Old Currency in the same place before; he wondered how many people had. . . The blacksmith watched as the officer interconnected the two coins, their serrated edges interlocking; he rotated one while the other turned in response.  "It's like clockwork," said the blacksmith.


He looked to the coin in the fire, to see if it had melted. It hadn't. "You're saying it is clockwork?"

The officer sighed. "I believe so."

Geralt shook his head. "No engineer would ever design gears with such small teeth, unless they wanted the metal to wear out quickly."

"The metal doesn't wear. I was hoping you could tell me why."

Geralt scratched his jaw. "Damned if I know. Whoever designed them must have done so with a lot of foresight, knowing that they would be in circulation for ages to come."

The officer argued otherwise. “These were repurposed as currency. I don't believe it was the intent of their design." He lifted a coin, peering through the square hole in its center. "They couldn't be destroyed, so they were scattered far and wide. Eventually their origins were forgotten, and they became a bartering item." He sighed. "And now the banks want them. All of them.”

It sounded entirely mad to Geralt's ears. “So let's say they were once some kind of ancient clockwork component.” The blacksmith shrugged. “What of it?”

"Think of all the clockwork mechanisms you know. Massive machinery, powered by enormous gears.  But even clock towers are operated by no more than a few dozen cogs." He connected the coins once more. “There are perhaps hundreds of thousands of these scattered throughout the world. What could they have come from?”

"Hundreds of thousands of cogs." Geralt chewed on the idea for a moment. "The more cogs, the more complex the machine. . ." Before the blacksmith could finish that thought, the door opened; a tall man walked in, wearing an immaculate long coat and carrying a lock-box in his gloved right hand. "May I assist you?" Geralt said automatically, composing himself.

The stranger smiled. "Good day gentlemen. I come representing the bank of Gladwell and Strom. Do you have a moment?” He froze, noticing the coins atop the anvil. "I sincerely hope, that you two aren't making forgeries.”

The officer narrowed his eyes. "I am a Night Guard. My oath is to uphold the law.”

The banker laughed. "Forgive me, Officer. . .”


“Officer Stannick. I did not mean to offend.” The stranger stepped closer. "As you know, we've put forth an effort to retire old currency. With adequate compensation for each coin, of course."

"I wasn't aware you were going door-to-door in your collection efforts," said the officer. "What a peculiar use of the bank's time and resources."

The banker sighed. "Yes, well. . . It seems some folks are hesitant to relinquish their coins. We wanted to further encourage people to part ways with the old currencies, while our offer still stands.”

"I still have need of them," Stannick replied.

"You will be reimbursed," the banker said, dismissing his answer. "To the sum of ten thousand marks, per coin."

Geralt was taken aback by that amount. But the officer of the Night Guard was unfazed. "These coins have been with my family for generations. Such an offer is an insult to my heritage." Geralt stared wide-eyed at the officer, who remained stern and unyielding.

"You could live a life of prestige with such money," the collection's agent argued.

"Do you mean to imply, that my father's honour has a price?"

"Everything under the sun has a price," the banker sneered. "However, if you think that sum to be unfair, I am permitted to entertain a counter offer."

"Fifty thousand marks," Stannick replied.

"Fifty thousand. . ."

"Per coin," he then added. "My father was a reasonable man, and that is a reasonable offer."

The banker scowled. "I disagree wholeheartedly."

"Well then, best of luck with your acquisitions, Mr. . ."

But the banker gave no name. "Very well. Fifty thousand, each." He raised his lock-box.

The officer paused. "You’re carrying one hundred and fifty thousand marks, currently?"

The banker nodded. "We collections agents have many coins to acquire, and thus many funds to dispense."

Geralt eyed the lock-box; it looked to be made from oak, banded together with wide iron reinforcements. The case alone could not have weighed less than forty pounds, and with its contents, perhaps another ten. . . It never left the banker's hand. At no point did he even seem to notice the weight of it.

"Quite odd, that you would choose to wander from town to town with such a wealth of money and not take the necessary precautions," Stannick said to the banker.

These are peaceful times,” he argued. “Blatant daylight robberies are unheard of in these parts. Certainly a man of the law such as yourself, knows this.”

Stannick nodded. “I also know that you’re carrying no less than one hundred and fifty thousand marks.” He stared the banker in the eye. “Even as a man of the law, I’d be tempted to run you through and take the money for myself.”

“Gentlemen!” The blacksmith yelled. “Let's keep this civil." Try as Geralt did to quell their argument, it merely escalated.

"You make strange threats, Officer." The banker towered over Stannick. "Relinquish the coins, and I'll waste no more of your time."

"I cannot do that," Stannick confessed. "Even if I wanted."

The banker's eyes narrowed."And why is that?"

“I threw one of them into the forge. But, do feel free to go in after it.”

The banker was livid. It was the type of anger Geralt had only ever seen in the worst kind of men, with the worst possible intentions. “Destroying currency. . . A most severe crime. You admit to such actions?”

"If indeed it has been destroyed,” Stannick began, “then you can accuse me of breaking the law.”

The banker faced the forge. “I grow tired of this. Douse the flames.”

Stannick rested a hand on the pommel of his sword. ”I’m afraid I cannot allow that.”

The banker put down the lock-box, and pulled the glove from his hand. He then shed his jacket and reached into the forge; Geralt and Stannick both stared on, frozen in horror. When the banker pulled his hand from the fire, his flesh had melted away, revealing what lay beneath. . .

Stannick drew his sword, and dealt a powerful blow to the banker’s head. But the blade merely bounced off as if striking armour, leaving only a shallow wound.

The banker's hand darted out, grabbing hold of the officer's throat, crushing it with a vice-like grip. He threw Stannick aside effortlessly, sending him crashing into Geralt's anvil.

Before Geralt could react, the banker was on him. Despite the blacksmith's strength, he was helpless; the banker brought Geralt's head down against the anvil with impossible strength. . . Once. Twice. Immense pain gripped Geralt, immobilizing him.  He tried screaming for help, but the words never reached his lips; he found himself struggling just to speak.

The banker met Geralt's eye, as he picked up the remaining coins with his burnt hand; a hand that was more metal than flesh. "Your trade is a mockery, blacksmith. As our time nears, your kind will come to understand." He pressed Geralt's head to the anvil, slowly squeezing the life out of him. "The Forgeborn returns, and your flesh will falter against hardened ore.”

January 29, 2018, 10:19:11 PM
Re: [Jan 2018] - Rebirth/Renewal - Voting Thread I appreciate all of the kind words and criticisms for my entry. It's a bit odd that secretly I hoped the story would do well in the voting even though I wasn't terribly happy with it myself; even now as I look at it, there's a handful of things I'd fix. And the story is set in the universe of another work-in-progress of mine, which I think shows. I'm hoping I can come up with something a bit more self-contained for the next contest.
March 02, 2018, 07:39:23 PM
Re: [Mar 2018] - Letters - Submission Thread I'm in. At 1219 words, I give you:
 The Heart, and the Heartless

Spoiler for Hiden:
Dearest mother,

Torbolt Keep has fallen. Our forces had spent many days and many long nights under merciless siege, desperately trying to hold our walls to no avail; the last of our soldiers have perished. I have no doubt word has already reached you about the fall of Lord Rostad and his army. . . Alas, his kingdom has succumbed to the all-encompassing darkness, and those who served under his command have all been lost. The land of Torbolt has now been claimed by him, the one they call The Heartless, and his ruthless undead minions. . .

I have seen him, mother. We have stood face to face, and I have stared into his eyes, his fierce, pitch black eyes. . .

But I have survived, unscathed.

Though I am certain you are overjoyed to hear that I am well, it is not the intention of my letter; I could tell you of the long, perilous journeys across seemingly endless battlefields, ever marching against an unyielding foe. The blood spilled, the allies lost. The pain and hardship, endured . . But I write you instead with some wonderful news: I have met someone! He is. . . Well, I don't know what I can tell you about him, other than that he has stolen my heart. I will return home soon, mother; the fighting is over for me. I want you to meet this man. He is my life, now. I do hope you and father will be able to approve of our courtship.

Does Stormbrook still see daylight? Or has the shadow of evil already shrouded the morning sun? I suppose I will find out soon enough. Fear not the coming of the darkness, mother. . . It will bring us no harm; I have ensured the safety of our family.

Our journey will be arduous. We hope to reach you within a fortnight. Until then, tell father of our coming, and give him my best wishes.

With love, your daughter,


Post script: If you happen to be watching the blackened skies when this letter arrives at your doorstep. . . I urge you, do not be alarmed by the winged beast I have employed as a carrier bird; neither falcon nor raven know how to navigate these unfamiliar skies, tainted with evil as they are. . . The scythe-clawed flesh-feaster was my only means of reaching you. Rest assured, the beast will not lay so much as a talon on you or father. I have seen to it.

In the land of Stormbrook, the darkness lingered.

It was blacker than the mere absence of daylight; it was a permanent shroud that hung over every corner of the world, placed there by a long reign of tyranny. Evil conquered the realm, casting its denizens into fear, sadness and misery.

But this of course, was no concern to Henrik. His mind was occupied by something far more daunting, something far more dreadful. "I'm a little nervous," Henrik admitted.

"You'll be fine," Margaret told him. "I'm sure of all the challenges you've faced, meeting my parents should be one of the easiest." They approached the door to her parents' home. Margaret knocked three times. "Just be yourself."

Henrik shook his head. "Not exactly what I had in mind." Slowly he took on another form. One of an ordinary man.

Margaret scolded him. "Change back, right this instant! You are not meeting my parents looking like that."

"Ugh." Henrik shifted back into his own form. He peered into the darkness. "I can't imagine they'll open their doors so easily. You told them we were coming, I hope?"

She merely smiled, then knocked again.

Henrik felt very uneasy. "Maybe they won't answer."

She knocked once more.
Henrik shied away ever so slightly. . . When was the last time he felt fear?

Suddenly the door swung open. "Margaret!"

"Mom!" Margaret practically leaped through the door, throwing her arms around her mother.

"Oh sweetheart, I'm so glad you're back!" Her mother turned. "Richard, come quick! Margaret is home safe!"

A burly older man stepped out from the kitchen. "I can't believe my eyes! Margie, you're really here!"

"You've worried us sick," Her mother intoned. "We feared that we'd lost you forever! Come in, come in! How did you escape from Torbolt?"

"I had a little bit of help, actually." Margaret turned to the doorway. "Mother, Father, I'd like for you to meet my boyfriend, Henrik."

Now was the moment of truth. Henrik stepped from the shadows, and into the doorway. Both of her parents gazed upon him. . .

The look of terror was unmistakable. Her mother screamed; her father merely stood slack-jawed.

Off to a bad start, Henrik thought. He continued to smile as if all was well, and extended his hand. "Pleased to meet you both. Margaret has told me such wonderful things about you."

Neither of them reached for a handshake. Her mother screamed once more, somehow louder this time. Her father stormed back into the kitchen, suddenly reappearing with a butcher's knife. "Kill him! Kill him!"

When the knife point came at him, Margaret screamed. "Dad, no!"

Henrik stood with his hand still outstretched. He resisted the urge to grab Margaret's father by the wrist. It hardly mattered. The blade buried itself halfway into Henrik's neck; it hurt a little, but he kept smiling.

Margaret stepped forward, pushing her father away. "Dad, what are you doing!? Stop it!"

Henrik pulled the knife from his neck. "It's alright Margaret. No harm done." He handed it back, handle first. "Please."

Margaret's father stood seemingly frozen in place. Her mother started to cry. "This can't be happening," she uttered, twice. Three times. Four. "This can't be happening!"

"I, uh. . ." Henrik suddenly found himself struggling for words. It had been a long time since he'd had to make peace with someone, and only now did he realize that he was entirely out of practice. "I can see that Margaret never told you."

They both stared, dumbfounded.

"I understand this must come as a bit of a shock, but I assure you, I mean no harm. I simply want to do right by Margaret." There was a long, awkward pause. "May I come in?"

They both said nothing. Henrik decided it would be better not to wait for an answer. Casually, he entered the home. Her parents cautiously backed away.

Typically, Henrik thrived off of evoking fear. It had never occurred to him that he evoked terror even when he didn't want to. Awkwardly, he sat at the dining room table, putting down the butcher's knife. Henrik smiled. "You have a very lovely home," he said, attempting pleasantries.

More horrified silence. Finally Margaret's mother spoke. "Margaret, why don't you give me a hand in the kitchen?"

Henrik stood up. "I can help if you'd like?"

"No!" She replied, somewhat urgently. "No, no. You two stay here and get to know each other!" She hurried off into the kitchen, gesturing for Margaret to follow along.

Her father and Henrik were left to gaze across the table at one another. Henrik continued to smile, though it seemed a futile effort; Margaret's father stared with a mix of anger, fear and hatred.

"So. . ." Henrik tapped his fingers on the table.

Her father sat down, slowly. "So. . . You're a tyrannical war monger," he said. "That must be exhausting."

Henrik the Heartless shrugged. "No rest for the wicked."

March 21, 2018, 08:58:26 PM