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Seriously just rolled S'ym from the marvel comics - plenty on this one but maybe too many options to go with?

great topic though look forward to reading the entries

Well here it is, I had fun with this one and tried to get both the joke and real themes incorporated. Hope you enjoy.

It's called The Contract and comes in at 1454 words.

Happy to receive feedback (useful only please don't be one of those people...)

I'm on twitter @Jaeulk where you'll find me mostly re-tweeting things of interest. Cheers.

Spoiler for Hiden:

The Contract

‘Watch it arsehole’ the fruit vendor spat as Dran brushed past causing the man’s box of Caya to wobble precipitously on his shoulders, threatening to spill the contents into the street. Dran paid little attention, today was not the day to be distracted by mouthy street merchants. The potential opportunities of completing the Royal contract did not escape the sell-sword, he knew a successful conclusion here would lead to other and better jobs for the Royals, enough to get him out of this Goddess-forsaken city. He quickly thumbed the copper crowns he pick-pocketed from the merchant, estimating their value. He was on task but not one to pass up a gift.

The Inn came into view once he passed the crossroads of the dying dragon and he walked cautiously towards the entrance past horses nibbling at the strung up bales of straw hanging from the awning. While fronting onto the main street the Inn was notorious for cut-throats and thieves and while Dran could handle himself in a fight, a dagger to the back of the neck was always a possibility for someone with his background. He pushed on the swinging saloon doors and stepped in, pausing once past the threshold to give his eyes a few seconds to adjust to the dimmer light inside. The Inn was quiet, most of the tables unoccupied and the bartender barely noticing the newcomer’s entrance, nothing to alarm him of impending peril. A wiry figure sat slumped in a large plush chair before the hearth. Dran walked over, and sat next to him. The pair conversed for a few minutes and finally Dran nodded and rose to leave. He had the information he needed. The girl was being held at the docks.

The smell of fish kept Dran moving in the right direction. Moving through the bustling crowd and getting slapped in the face by the tail of some large fish was all part of the journey for anyone moving around down here and Dran kept his emotions in check, focussing on the task he needed to complete. His informant provided only the pier she was being held, but not which specific shed she would be in. Fishmongers yelled out their prices and tried to entice Dran and others in the crowd to purchase ‘the freshest catch of the day’, he acted the interested shopper to a particularly overweight and pungent fishmonger, using the time to take a good look at the area behind the stalls and noted that one shed had two men laying around outside one of the large doors. They were trying, and failing, to be fishermen but were clearly military. No fisherman Dran had ever met walked with a back that straight. Dran moved on, inspecting more fish and repelling the advances of the mongers to purchase ‘the best priced fish in the land’ and other claims of similar ilk. He left the area, having confirmed where he needed to be. Now came the hard part, he only had this one night left to finish the task.

The waxing moon shone brightly, the gibbous had started two nights ago and there was enough light to provide Dran with the ability to move about confidently. Of course this mean that the guards would be able to see as well but that couldn’t be helped. Dran backed himself in a fight over the guards on even terms. He preferred seeing what he was doing than risk tripping over a rotted piece of wood or a discarded piece of netting. This one night and he would be a hero. All he had to do was get past a few guards and to a young imprisoned girl.

Rather than risk a ground assault, the pier provided little cover and a narrow approach, Dran planned to go underneath. He was shown a little trick by the Corsairs of Myeth years ago involving the stomach of a sheep which gave him an extra two or three breaths when underwater. It wasn’t a lot, but enough to allow him to swim below the surface far enough that when he came up, it was underneath the shed where he needed to be. Keeping still and listening he could hear the sounds of people inside, the wooden slats above bent downwards tracing their steps. He figured 5 in all, three inside. Dran brought himself up and out of the water to cling to the scaffolding that exists below the piers, the web of structural support assisting provide great movement for someone of Dran’s abilities and, like a spider, he moved towards the front of the doors. His plan wasn’t the most complex one ever devised. Get as close as possible to the front doors and kick them in. The most difficult part was over, the guards likely thought the openness and restricted access points of the shed was its strongest defense. Wrapped carefully to avoid getting it wet, Dran pulled out a light grenade. packed with magnesium the explosion itself wouldn’t hurt the two guards at the door but if they were staring at it during the night and it went off, the flash upon detonation would blind and disorient them for a while. Enough for Dran to swing up onto the decking and dispatch them. After that it would be all action. Drawing the guards out would also get them away from their captive.

The two guards did indeed look directly at the grenade, they did get blinded by the flash and Dran swept up over the ledge of the wharf. The first guard he struck down with a throwing knife and, not even looking to see if the knife hit, he rushed the second while drawing his rapier, and stabbed the man through the heart. The bang and the cries of the guards had already alerted their comrades and Dran could hear them coming. The doors slid open and he shoved the dead body into the first man out the door. The two fell, collapsing on the floor. The distraction worked on the next man out who acted as if the body of the dead guard was the assailant. Dran moved forward quickly and slid the point of his sword into the base of the skull, an instant kill. The fourth guard had drawn his sword and came out swinging. Dran pivoted and blocked the thrust, drew a dagger and stepped inside his opponent’s guard to thrust it into his chest. That left the last guard, now on his feet after untangling himself from the dead body thrown at him only moments ago. The guard entered into a proper fencing stance and lunged at Dran who blocked with ease, riposting immediately. The guard had clearly been trained properly and that was his downfall. Dran knew proper fencers, many of them, tournament and ribbon winners but all lacked one thing. They didn’t know how to fight for their lives. Dran assaulted the guard with speed and ferocity. Against a proper, street-wise fencer this would have been a mistake. Against a rent-a-guard it caused enough panic that a glaring opening in the defence became available and Dran struck lightning fast. The guard went down. Dran took a breath, this one might live through such a thrust - it didn’t take anything vital. He turned back to examine the scene. All up it was only a few moments but 4, maybe 5, dead. Not bad.

Dran stood still for a moment, if anyone else had seen the fight there would be sounds of alarm. Silence indicated he was safe. He walked slowly into the shed, a few candles stood flickering light over where the guards had kept their equipment. Moonlight pervaded the many cracks in the ceiling and walls where wooden slats and rotted away over the years. At the far end he could make out the cage where the girl was being kept. Picking up a candle he walked over to the bars, the light bouncing strangely off them. The lock was a standard tri-tumble, an easy pick for Dran. The door swung open silently and could make out the sleeping form huddled into blankets. He reached out and shook the figure. Yellow eyes opened to look at him.

In hindsight he should have been alert to it. A full-ish moon, and prescribed night attack, and if he had paused, only for a single moment, he would have considered the implications of a cage made of silver bars. The vamps had won the night-wars long ago but a Lycan on the loose in the city was enough for the night-king’s subjects to remain loyal. Too bad all this only came to mind as a huge set of jaws wrapped around his throat.

A pretty good month for me, got into some varied books;

The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan I really enjoyed this, while not high-end the characters had some good depth and the story had a few good twists and turns to make things interesting. I think there is another trilogy set afterwards as well so I'm going to track that one down.

The forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan - this is an interesting read, halfway through I wasn't sure if I liked it but after finishing it is a story that stays with you. It is a very dark tale that focuses on a girl who lives in a small gated community in a world where zombie-like creatures have basically eliminated the rest of the human population. Its about survival, relationships and hope and im glad I read it.

The well of ascension - mistborn trilogy book 2 - Brandon Sanderson This is great, an action packed sequel to the final empire and expands the world huegly. Got to get the third to finish it off

The Hobbit - felt like going back to one of my first ever read books :)

Im right into some good ones for December now and with the holidays coming up looks like a busy month!

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Hi and please recommend :)
« on: December 09, 2014, 11:31:14 PM »
Hi Kvothe

Others will probably agree that Peter V Brett's Demon Cycle series is a great read (first book is 'the painted man') and another interesting magic system although not finished yet it is an astonishingly good read. I also recommend Brent Week's Night Angel trilogy as this brought me right back into the fantasy genre after an extended period of absence.

I also really like Kate Elliott's crossroad series - it doesn't seem to be everyone's cup of tea but it does take a lot of disparate elements into a pretty epic story.

Enjoy your reading!

[DEC 2014] Religion / Re: [Dec 2014] - Religion - Discussion Thread
« on: December 03, 2014, 11:35:55 PM »
As I missed November's contest I'll attempt another go for December - interesting topic and perhaps take a cue from Elfy and look up some religious art from various beliefs for some inspiration

Hi Xiagan

I'm happy to receive critique to help me improve, and if others would like the same would be ahppy to provide my thoughts on other's work :)


I liked this challenge and would have enjoyed any of the inspirations if asked to but for this I've chosen 'Old Town' by Peter Lee.

I'm not very good at titles it seems so I'm going to call this one 'Hidden World' - not entirely happy with it but it will do :) -  I hope you enjoy, it comes in at 1466 words

I'm at @Jaeulk on twitter if you want to tweet me on there.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Aleks eased himself onto the large boulder overlooking the pass below and slid forward into a prone position. His eyes scanned for movement in the long grass and bushes below,  a mix of deep greens and light brown. The muted daylight caused by the grey clouds covering the sky hampered the clarity of the view but he was confident his quarry would not escape him and his partner. Aleks couldn’t make out where the half-elf was but that was the point, his heritage enabled un-noticed movement in a natural setting. Five days they had tracked the small group of beings from the hamlet of Hammid into the Northern wilds. The beings moved quickly at night and tended to camp out in the brighter daylight. The lack of sleep in tracking through the night and with little rest during the height of the day was beginning to take its toll on the human ranger, felt all the more because of the little impact it appeared to have on his half-elf counterpart. Aleks heard a whip-owl call three times, the signal from Elyn that the group were moving North again. There was the briefest of movement, the sway of a branch opposite to the direction of the light breeze, and Aleks slunk backwards

For another three days the Imperial rangers followed the group and the further North they travelled the longer the nights became, and what daylight there was was dulled by continual cloud cover, the sun a deep red as its light pushed through the shroud. On the ninth day the vegetation grew thin and the pair followed further back, reducing the risk of being spotted. Late in the day Aleks came to a wooden fence post sticking out of the ground. The post was rotted, split at the top and unusable but motioned to Elyn to come for a look. As far as either of them knew the Imperial archives didn’t have any record of habitation beyonds the borders of the wild forests which they crossed over a week ago. They continued on and soon found paths leading towards the rotting frame of a wooden house. Circling around the building it became clear that further on there were more ruined buildings of a larger size. Keeping care to avoid being spotted Aleks and Elyn came into the main square of a small town. Typical of Imperial farming hamlets the main square featured a large circular water fountain, long broken and overgrown with thick brown vines covered in spikes. Aleks ventured closer and saw the well was long dry. In the gloomy light the town was a story of dull browns and dark greys, jagged lines where wooden posts fell away from buildings and lamp-posts stood at angles to their original positions. Ears keenly attuned to the environment, he heard only the craw of a raven and shortly after the flaps of wings as a large black shape perched itself on the roof of what looked to have been a tavern and stood silent. The sharp clicks rang out and Aleks turned to see Elyn make the motion to join him. Aleks moved in a crouched position, eyes darting back and forth for signs of danger. The darkness and the dereliction of the town made him feel uneasy and the atmosphere was thick and cool. He followed Elyn into a nearby building that had kept most of its structure against the onslaught of the local flora and fauna’s slow but inevitable invasion. The opposite end of the room stood a life-size statue of a long haired figure with sharp features and dressed in a cloak.
‘Notice it?’ Elyn whispered.
Aleks just smiled and nodded. As an imperial ranger he would have been upset if he didn’t see it straight away. In this abandoned town decayed by nature and time this statue was clean and clear of dust. It was clear that someone was here, or attended this place regularly.
The rangers exited the building, looking for evidence of any recent activity. They had followed a small group here who seem now to have disappeared but it seemed to be only the two of them, the ravens and the deep red orb of the sun hovering overhead. Aleks become more and more aware of the silence closing in on him and he felt pressure inside his head. Elyn didn’t seem to notice it but his companion often held himself aloof from anything that might be considered a vulnerability. They kept searching, keeping to cover wherever possible and followed a path steeply winding upwards from behind a stable on the Western side. It was only a short distance and out of the gloomy haze appeared a cathedral. As soon as the two saw this they dropped to the ground and slid into hiding behind some rocks nearby. Peeking around the side, Aleks beheld a medium size building with large arched windows and a tall tower reaching upwards. It was constructed of a lightly coloured brick and from this side were a pair of dark black doors that were shut. A strange glow emanated from the windows, not torchlight as the ruby colour showed no signs of flickering. Slowly they moved around the perimeter of the cathedral and now it was not only Aleks’ ears that were affected by something but his sight as well. Even considering the additional shadows and the muted colours, Aleks was having some trouble discerning finer features and shapes. They came to the opposite side of the church and Aleks could make out that the cathedral stood on a ledge over the abandoned town. The town's overall plan could be seen including the remnants of where buildings that were now completely destroyed used to exist. The layout was familiar, it had similar plans and groupings of some of the larger Imperial hamlets that  used a consistent layout to make defense and administration easier. Aleks’ eyes were growing more affected now and he began to suspect some form of magic was the cause.
Elyn tried to peer through the windows but he shook his head, he could make nothing out. Returning to the front doors the effects on Aleks was getting worse. Elyn came close to him ‘I can feel something, and its affecting you. Whatever it is, I think its inside” Aleks agreed with that assessment but could only meekly nod “Lets go in,” Elyn continued “and deal with it”. Aleks could make out Elyn placing his hand on one of the great doors and push gently. Without a sound the door opened slightly. Elyn slid inside, and Aleks followed, the pressure in his head growing greater. Inside he looked up, quickly Aleks’ vision blurred into nothingness and he stumbled hand reaching out to grab a polished wooden rail. Faintly he could feel Elyn’s arms wrap around his chest. Aleks’ head lolled to the left and then, out of the sea of blurred vision and deep red hues floating around him was a white, perfectly clear vision of a man standing before him. The kind features promised Aleks sanctuary and assistance from the harshness of life, and he felt safe. Aleks dropped to his knees, only slightly aware of something in the background. Was it a voice? It didn’t matter. He wanted only to gaze upon the vision before him. Slowly his eyesight returned and around him he witnessed a large number of other worshippers, faces showing delight and pleasure at being in the presence of such a magnificent Lord. Aleks wanted nothing more than to stay here, he didn’t want to return to… where was it? It didn’t matter. He stayed for some time, gazing adoringly along with all the others. Then, without warning dread filled him. The statue fell to pieces. He screamed as terror filled his soul and his body crumbled. He rolled into a ball on the ground, weeping loudly. More time passed and eventually vision returned, hearing become clear and his breathing slowed to normal. He looked around. Elyn stood, surrounded by a small group of Imperial guards. His eyes rested on Elyn. “You’ve been here 2 weeks” he simply stated. Aleks couldn’t believe it but he looked around and saw dozens of corpses, some barely bones, others in varying states of decomposition. “There was a charm on the statue, looks like those enthralled would want nothing than to be with it, forever, without eating sleeping or drinking - guess we know what happened to the town” Elyn continued as he reached down to pick up a fragment of stone. The half-elf was probably more than half, his blood had kept him safe obviously. Aleks breathed deeply as his senses returned and witnessed sunlight, yellow and vibrant, beam onto the floor. He knew this story was not yet over.

Writers' Corner / Re: Creting a Fantasy Map
« on: October 20, 2014, 07:36:10 AM »
Thanks for the tip here - going off to play with it now :) I've found drawing a map harder than it should be but this should give me some starting points.

In September I got through:

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks - I enjoyed this book and some of the twists and turns within it. Kip has grown into a character I now like a lot more since the first novel introduced him. Love the world as it has grown as well, happy to see it continue in more novels.

Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb - good read and became better as it went on. Will read the next one for sure and felt very happy to return to a world I have enjoyed for years.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore - I don't think this style and world is for me, probably more YA. Though it was easy to read so maybe a good travelling novel.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - While I didn't find this in the Fantasy section there are a lot of elements here that probably means it should be there. An innovative style and use of magic with really intriguing characters. Once I got into it, hard to put down and I recommend it to fantasy lovers as it is something quite different.

Into October now- hoping to get through a few classics!

[SEP 2014] Cliche / Re: [Sep 2014] - Cliché & Tropes - Submission Thread
« 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.

Introductions / Hi Fantasy Fans
« on: September 05, 2014, 04:07:45 AM »
Hi Everyone,

Name's Jess and I've read Fantasy books all my life, one of my very first memories in my life is reading the Hobbit (of course) and it just grew from there into the forgotten realms and dragonlance books as a young person and then into more mature fantasy books.

Favourites of all time:
1. The Night Angel Trilogy
2. Lord of the Rings
3. Demon Cycle series

Also recently discovered Joe Abercrombie so i'm very happy about that.

I heard about this site via Twitter and as a keen (and VEERY amateur) fantasy writer I'm hoping to engage here to look at some tips and hear how other keen writers are faring with their worlds and characters and also see what is upcoming in this genre.

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