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Messages - Sam Bowring

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Hey you guys, what's the go with voting for ONESELF? Are you considered a fool if you don't, or a tool if you do?

Yay, another newbie in the competition :D
We like that a lot!

Well done, Sam.

Thanks! I originally meant for it to be 500 words. Turns out, once again, that it's harder to write less than more. Came in at 2100 before merciless cutting, perhaps due to the inclusion of so many elements.

Anyway, I look forward to being judged ;)

This is my first submission to the writing contest :) So hi!

I rolled:
grimdark / pirate / dungeon / talking sword / too trusting / mother / goat cheese

Word count: 1482.

Twitter: @sammyfantastic

Better with Salt

Spoiler for Hiden:
She still believes she can save me, the stupid old bitch. Oh, how I have wished, after many a long stretch plying the eddies at world’s edge, to return to some semi-civilised port with plunder in the hold and a will to spend it, and hear news of her demise – hopefully in some horrible fashion, instead of the ever-increasing likelihood that she will pass peacefully in her bed, surrounded by loyal attendants falling over themselves to mop the last spittle from her withered lips. That is not what she deserves. Tied to a stake in desert sands, or a glowing poker slowly pushed up the arse, or thrown into a pit with a dozen razer roaches – that’s what would await my mother were there such a thing as justice.

I am surprised, given her nature, to even find myself alive. Yes, locked deep in the castle dungeon and fed barely enough to stave off the need to eat rats, but alive. I eat them anyway, of course – meat is meat, and if I’m to maintain some semblance of my strength, I need more than what she gives me. Besides, what becalmed, hungry sailor hasn’t looked the odd rat in the eye? Better with salt, I admit – although currently sweetened by the fact that mother loathes rats so very much. If she could see me now, aha. 

Does she think there’s some way to salvage her first born from the life he has chosen? I who was prince, who would have been king, had I not abandoned my family in shame and horror, divesting myself of name and fortune in order to make my own way in the world. Which one, I wonder, of my ‘trusted’ crewmates finally figured out who I was, and what I’d be worth upon delivery? I suppose there are only so many posters of one’s own visage that one can hope to walk past unnoticed, yet I’d grown to think that my dyed-black dreadlocks and beard (not to mention the passage of time and effects of weather on my skin) would keep me hiding safely in plain sight until the end of my days.

Does she think she can simply scrub me up? Starting with my mind? Her ridiculous Priests of the Goat visit every day, explaining the need to recant my sins and surrender my soul back to Bhakeat. That’s part of why they leave me hungry, I suppose – they want me to eat of the Body of Goat. Trouble is, I detest goat’s cheese utterly, which serves as the ingestible part of their disgusting metaphor. One reason I was so ready to turn my back on the church – they insist on feeding everyone such overly pungent ceremonial nonsense every Seventh Day.

Perhaps she thinks that lack of company, except the odd priest, will drive me insane? I chuckle to myself and spit out a shard of rat skull. Maybe that’s why they’ve hung my hat, cloak and cutlass on a hook within plain sight, if not reach, of my cell? Am I to gaze upon these vestments of my former life and go mad with desire or loss? Aha, I will not go mad – what my jailers do not realise is that I can actually talk to my magic sword. Oh yes, you heard me. Taken from Redblain’s secret stash before the encroaching lava chased us out, it is his famous sword in fact, none other than Soulkeeper itself! The sword which holds the ghost of the very last thing it killed, able to commune only with its killer. Only released when the sword kills again.

‘Harken, Vargas Murkbender,’ I whisper to my blade. ‘Do you sleep? Or a better question – can you sleep?’

You know that I cannot, tormentor.

‘Now, don’t call me that. We are old friends by now, surely?’

Release me from this prison and I’ll say it is true.

I haven’t really explained to poor Vargas, who was until recently a much-feared mer-wizard ruling off the Skallafrag Isles, the limitations of his confinement. If he knew the truth – that I am currently powerless to free him in any way – I could not cajole him to entertain me with tales of his undersea kingdom by promising him that once he has satisfied my curiosity, I will let him go.

Free me, pirate lord. Was it not enough to cut off my head and watch it sink to the crabs?

‘I didn’t want to cut off your beautiful, blue-maned head, Vargas. I simply wanted the Pendant of Tides, and you wouldn’t give it over. Fetched a pretty penny in the Fyshlorn Ports, I can tell you. I would have liked to spend that penny too, before I … well, we ...’

Before we were brought here.


I beg you, let me soul pass into the grey waters.

‘Perhaps. But first, tell me a story.’

Always the same reply. When will my stories be enough?

‘When you’ve none left to tell, I suspect. So, if peace is what you seek, you had best be forthcoming.’

The sword sighs. Very well. What would you like to hear?

‘There is rumour that you once did battle with the shark-folk of the deep reefs when they encroached upon your spawning beds?’

Oh yes.

Vargas changes his tone a little as he remembers. He is proud of his exploits, and once he gets talking, he’s good at telling an exciting tale. War under the waves from a figure of legend – and they think they are torturing me down here!

Let me see. I had just defeated Zargen and taken the crown of Skallafrag as my own, a triumph I detailed in our last conversation. Winter winds brought much churning and dumping of material from the coast, and the seas grew dark and troubled. I had not yet truly proven myself capable of rule, as one must be tested before one’s people before they will believe. Luckily for me, a tribe of shark-folk left their deeper waters and made dangerous incursions into our …

The dungeon door opens and one of mother’s brown-clothed lackeys enters, one hand around the sign of the Goat which dangles from his fat neck, the other carrying a small tray.

‘You had to come now!’ I shout in a rage. ‘Did you, with your blathering and bleating?’

The priest blinks at me, not knowing what he has cheated me out of.

‘Be at peace, oh prince,’ he says. ‘Please – your mother, the Queen, in her infinite wisdom, may she bathe in milk for the rest of time, has decided … to finally visit you.’

That does surprise me. It surprises me even more when she moves through the door, disgust plain on her face, into the dank room which houses my cell. 

‘Mother,’ I say, and give an insincere little bow. ‘I didn’t expect you down here.’

She sniffs at me. ‘I cannot bear the thought of your soul so tarnished. You must accept Bhakeat, Nannie to the Stars, back into your life. Take the Goat into thyself ...’

The priest lifts the tray to reveal a piece of cheese, which instantly turns my stomach. Still, it occurs to me that maybe I can pocket it somehow and use it to attract rats. As if summoned by my thought, a black rat appears from a crack in the wall, no doubt drawn by the pungent aroma.

My mother follows my gaze and spies it for herself.

‘Ergh,’ she says. ‘Filthy creature.’

Before I know what she’s doing, she draws my magic cutlass from the wall and raises it above her head.

‘No!’ I scream, making everyone start, including the rat. It flees into a recess in the wall which, while shadowed, is not deep at all.

‘What’s this now?’ says mother. ‘Don’t want me to kill it? Why, is it your only friend?’

‘Please,’ I say, a rare word to cross my lips, which I wish I could catch back the moment it escapes. She gets a decidedly malevolent look on her face – she thinks it is the rat I care about. She shoves the sword into the recess where it meets a short, sharp squeak.

Vargas’s soul is released with a grateful sigh only I can hear. The end of his story is lost to me forever.

‘There,’ she says. ‘No false idols before you.’ She hangs the sword back on the wall. ‘Now be a good boy and eat your cheese.’

I take the tray, and stare her in the eye as I wolf down the whole, horrible, sour tasting wedge.

‘And you,’ I say, ‘I curse with pirate magic.’

She scoffs. ‘There’s no such thing.’

‘Oh no? Mother, hear my words. The terrified squeaking of rats will follow you until you bring me the keys to my cell.’

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: 4-Word Reviews
« on: March 30, 2016, 12:37:28 PM »
Any book in the Cthulu Mythos:

See nothing, be terrified

Though one time I read The Dunwich Horror aloud to my wife and daughter. It was about an hour of derisive laughter and cries of "are we there yet?" And "this has to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard!"

So they would give a four word review of:

See nothing, bored silly

Were you doing the reading in some kind of ridiculous hat? That can take away the tone of these things, I have found! Also a silly voice undermines the horror somewhat.

And Mr.J I'll check out Black Tom, thanks for the tip.

Introductions / Re: Greetings to ye
« on: March 23, 2016, 01:21:15 AM »
Thanks for the warm greetings everyone! I've had a look at the nightmares thread and will give it a crack. I actually had a horrible nightmare last night, but I don't think anyone wants to read about me standing around with no pants on at a party where all the beer has run out. And I'm not making that up just to be 'cheeky' ahaha.

It was actually pretty disturbing when a large fight broke out over the last six pack. Goes to show you a little about my subconscious priorities.

Introductions / Re: Greetings to ye
« on: March 22, 2016, 07:32:00 AM »
Just try to read and watch as your tbr pile grows despite any effort you make.
Buying and downloading books is like, the same thing as reading them, right?



Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: 4-Word Reviews
« on: March 22, 2016, 04:18:03 AM »
Any book in the Cthulu Mythos:

See nothing, be terrified

Introductions / Greetings to ye
« on: March 22, 2016, 04:07:56 AM »
Hi everyone

I'm an author and stand-up comedian from Sydney, Australia. I've been a big fantasy fan since my dad read me the Hobbit when I was little and set me on the path for life. My mother sometimes encourages me to read other genres, and I try, I try, but it's soooooo hard to care when there aren't any goblins. To appease her I did recently read Oliver Twist, which I quite enjoyed, although there wasn't as much singing as I expected.

Some of my favourite authors include Robin Hobb, Patrick Rothfuss, Roger Zelazny, Lovecraft, gah, there's so many, how are you ever supposed to choose? Throw into the mix all the games worth playing (board and computer) and it's a wonder there's any time left for reality at all.

I stumbled across the forum recently and it looks like a great place to get involved. I look forward to delving deeper!

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