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Messages - Ancalagon

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[NOV 2014] Joker Month / Re: [Nov 2014] - joker month - Voting Thread
« on: January 05, 2015, 12:02:57 PM »
Thanks to everyone who voted for me, it probably wasn't an easy decision.

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Thanks Jmacyk, those were some good suggestions and I will definitely take them into consideration for future stories.

Jaeulk, I finally got around to re-reading your story and I have a few suggestions for you.

Firstly, I didn't seem to get a clear sense of conflict for most of the story. In the opening paragraph the reader discovers that Aleks is tracking down a small group of beings, but I didn't seem to get a clear reason as to why. The story then switches focus on the environment (I did like your descriptions here by the way) and loses track of the group. I felt that the only reason that they were included were to give Aleks a reason to come in contact with the statue. The story would have benefited from having a stronger reason for Aleks to arrive at the statue.

Your last sentence also hints at an area you could improve. Aleks knows his story isn't finished and the reader does too. The first major part of the story seems to occur at the end and leaves the reader wanting the rest of the story. Obviously you can't add anything to your story or you'll exceed the limit but you could perhaps rework the beginning to include more conflict as well as a clearer motive for Aleks. Alternatively, the end of your story could become the beginning, creating a hook for the reader and opening up a mystery as to what the statue is and why it was there.

Ultimately I think you should focus in the future on adding more conflict into your story and letting the reader know why you main character is doing whatever it is he's doing.

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I would also appreciate some critique on my writing if anyone has time. I will try and give some critique to Jaeulk when I get some time.

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[NOV 2014] Joker Month / Re: [Nov 2014] - joker month - Submission Thread
« on: November 30, 2014, 02:40:39 AM »
I chose the Betrayal topic for my story this month. It is called 'The Mist in Their Veins' and is 1496 words long.

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Mist in Their Veins

I am still unsure whether I should report the event of October 18th, 1899 in the Bloodworth crypt, for I have not been sure of my sanity since that night. Though I feel I should record the event else I will lose whatever sanity remains, if indeed I still hold some.

The event in the Bloodworth crypt would not have happened were I to have kept to the values important to my faith. Through my greed I had become friends with one Thomas Jones who brought me into a world of treasure hunting. We kept our ears open for talk of all sorts of items which, when sold on the right market would yield great pay.

By what I had thought to be chance, Thomas and I came into contact with a man named John Dallas. He was tall and slick, describing himself to us only as a ‘business man’ in the business of rare jewels. He said he yearned for one jewel in particular which he would pay heavily for our assistance retrieving it. The jewel was located in an underground crypt - the Bloodworth crypt I mentioned in the opening of this document.

I took a distrust to the man immediately, unsettled by his snake-like demeanor. I waited until I was alone with my friend before voicing my concerns and was met with a wave of laughter. Thomas told me he had seen none of the behaviors in John of which I had attributed to him and I was being overly cautious with whom I work with. He proposed that we bring the man along with us on a job prior to accepting his request in an effort to build trust.

So it came to be that on October 11th, one week prior to the events in the Bloodworth crypt, I found myself alongside Thomas Jones and John Dallas arriving to a party at the Davenport estate covertly undertaking out latest job. We had been hired by a man claiming to be the rightful recipient of an immensely valuable painting left to him in the will of his late mother but which had landed in the hands of his sister by manipulation of the executor. The job was to attend a party at his sister’s estate, where the painting would be displayed, and retrieve it for him. We attempted no background checks to confirm his heritage and though I think a part of me did not believe the man, the large reward at the end of it all gave me reason to overlook any doubts.

We took turns at the party to either mingle or scout the estate to gain intel for how best to approach the retrieval of the painting. We decided before hand that attending the party would be no more than reconnaissance, though to my surprise it was announced midway through the party that the painting would be moved to a museum before the conclusion of the night. It then fell upon us to improvise a means of obtaining the painting before this move. We decided to make our move as everyone was called out to the balcony.

It seemed oddly suspicious to me that the painting was left unattended at this time and I urged my friend to consider some last minute recon before we took the painting, but my friend decided it was the perfect opportunity and he was hellbent on seizing it. John and I waited outside the guest room on lookout while my friend went to retrieve the painting. He emerged from the room shortly after, carrying the painting within a bed sheet. It was then that the lady of the house came into the room with two guards by her side. It was John who made the quick decision to head for the wine cellar. After Thomas and I hurried into the cellar behind him, John quickly barricaded the door.

It was in that darkness, illuminated only by the moonlight filtering through the window, that I saw in John another face overlaid with his own. Flesh on his cheeks and forehead had rotted away in places, revealing teeth and skull. He took on a wraith-like appearance, but as I continued to look at him, his face returned to its human state and I resolved in my mind that it was simply a trick of the sparse light. It was then that John found a tunnel leading to the outside. At the time, while on the adrenaline high after escaping with the painting, I didn’t think it suspicious for a tunnel to be so conveniently placed. It is only now, thinking back on the event with what I now know of John Dallas, that I find the events of that night rather too coincidental. While I still had my concerns about John, I admitted it was through his efforts at the estate that we had successfully retrieved the painting and collected a large sum for our troubles. I reluctantly agreed to go with my friend and John into the Bloodworth crypt.

A week later I descended into the dark crypt of the Bloodworth family. I carried with me a lantern and - unbeknown to the others - a hunting knife. As we walked through the crypt I was amazed at the immensity of the place and number of bodies stored inside. It seemed to me to be more like a catacomb than a family crypt and there were far too many bodies. I found it curious also that no names were displayed for the deceased.

At last we came to the deepest part of the crypt, the only part with sarcophagi displaying the names of deceased members of the Bloodworth clan. It was the final two sarcophagi at the end of the crypt which planted the first seedlings of madness in my mind. The names given on the sarcophagi revealed the deceased to be Thomas Jones Bloodworth and John Dallas Bloodworth, having died nearly two hundred years ago. I turned to face my companions and saw in both of them what I had seen in John in the wine cellar of the Davenport estate. Their wraith-like bodies were pale and weary in the dim light of my lantern and even though the muscles in their faces appeared to have rotted away long ago, I am still certain that I saw a grin spread across their faces.

It was while I was standing there frozen in horror at what my friend had become, or always was, that I felt it slide past my ankles. I didn’t see it at this time for my only thought was on running. I ran towards the two wraiths and gripped my knife, slashing at them as I approached. I managed to cut deep into their sides, which seemed to stun them enough for me to get passed them. To my horror they did not bleed, but I did not stay to marvel at such wonder.

I ran through the crypt, stumbling as I went. The once silent burial chamber was now filled with a loud hissing. I do not think I ran for long before I realized I was lost. I crawled into a small fissure in the wall and waited, trying to think of a plan for escape. I remember the wraiths calling for me and I detected a hint of panic. ‘You must die so that we can live,’ I heard them say.

It felt to me an eternity hiding in that fissure and I realized I could not hide there forever. I waited for one of the wraiths to pass by the fissure before lunging out with my knife and decapitating it. The blade cut through with astounding ease. Mist spilled out of the wraiths wounds and it was this mist that I am sure attracted the terrifying thing. The mist seemed to carry light with it and I could see the thing as it approached. It was a large snake of immense proportions dripping with a colourless slime and carrying large bat-like wings on its back. To my surprise it did not attack me, choosing instead to latch onto the wraith’s body and began sucking out vast amounts of mist from it. The wraith thrashed about before finally it was gone, disappeared.

I do not know what then happened to the snake or the other wraith, but from the distant cries in the crypt I can only assume the wraith suffered the same fate as its kin. I do not know how long I remained in that crypt until I finally emerged into daylight.

Upon writing this letter it is now almost a year passed, on October 9th, 1900 and I still hear the hissing of that hideous snake. It grows louder with each day, but that may just be madness slowly taking me. Though I have found since the night in that crypt that I no longer bleed, my wounds only emit a thin, cool mist.

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This is my first submission to this forum's monthly contests. My story is based off of 'The Passage' by Thierry Doizon. I did write two other stories for two of the other pictures but I ultimately decided to submit this one (if someone for some reason wants to read my other two, let me know).

This story is titled 'The Dead of Meirgon's Pass' and it comes in at 1,415 words. I hope you guys enjoy.

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Dead of Meirgon's Pass

Tasaile grabbed Brother Nye’s hand and pulled himself out of the boat. He emerged onto a platform and felt algae squish under his sandals. He turned and helped a third monk onto the platform.

The village’s cargo ship was docked at a nearby bay and already the hired men were rolling the cage down the gangway and onto the platform. Looking at the fiend inside the cage sent shivers up Tasaile’s spine. He was glad to be getting rid of it.

The Kingdom had had the hard job of capturing it. Now, all Tasaile and the other monks had to do was send it on its way. Sounded simple enough on parchment. But nothing is ever simple when it comes to the underworld.
Jore, Tasaile’s apprentice, was last up from the boat. He looked either nervous or excited - Tasaile could not figure out which.

‘How far is it from here?’ said Jore.

‘It’s not far,’ said Tasaile. ‘It’s in a cave at the base of the mountain directly behind these ruins.’ Tasaile pointed towards their destination. A mountain range towered in the near distance, but one mountain in particular stood out. Amid the snow capped, gray-brown towers of rock was a lone, shiny, blackened mountain.

‘We should head over and join the workers,’ said Nye.

‘Indeed,’ said Tasaile. ‘We should group up and raise our protection barrier. Once that’s done, the rest should be simple.’

Tasaile and his brethren sauntered over to the men charged with escorting the fiend. Their leader, Ned, greeted them.

‘We would like to set up the protection barrier before entering the ruins,’ said Tasaile.

‘Go ahead,’ said Ned. ‘There’s no telling what’s taken up residence in this place since the plague. And being so close to the gates I wouldn’t be surprised to find something has slipped out.’

The four monks gathered the other men together around the cage and proceeded to each move to four separate points around them. The monks clasped their hands together, bowed their heads and spoke the protection incantation.

By the light of Eredwrath
that pierces all darkness
we remove our fate
from those who would harm us

The fiend screamed in agony as a searing light - visible only to those who sought ill of the monks - spread from the centre of the group outward.

‘Serves the bugger right,’ Tasaile overheard a worker saying.

Tasaile did not feel the same way. He was happy to send the fiend back to the underworld, but did not wish agony upon it. He held respect for all entities, even murderous ones such as this.

###

The decayed ruins smelled damp and musty. During every step, Jore never felt they were alone. The ruins of Meirgon’s Pass had its own ominous presence. But there were also others; unseen eyes that held unblinkingly on Tasaile’s party. Some filled with curiosity, others with malice. But they were held at bay by the protection of Eredwrath’s light. That, Tasaile had assured him.

They were not but midway through the ruins when a flicker of purple light caught Jore’s attention. He stopped. The others did the same.

‘What’s that?’ Jore pointed towards one of many moss veiled buildings.

At that moment, they all saw it. An old man sat naked and lifeless, propped up by the rotting door of the building. A purple light emanated from his open mouth and eyeless eye sockets.

‘We leave it alone,’ said Tasaile.

‘Shouldn’t we investigate?’ said Jore.

‘If we break formation our protection falls. We have no choice but to continue.’

Hesitantly, Jore agreed.

The party continued. Jore shot repeated glances back towards the dead man as they walked away. Though when they were out of range, he stopped checking. Later, he felt an urge to look again. The old man was following them, limping. The purple light emanated even stronger than before.

It was not Jore who stopped first this time, but Tasaile. However, Tasaile didn’t look back towards the old man; he looked forward.

‘Stop,’ said Tasaile. They all did.

Ahead of them was a young girl, standing upright and eyeless, her mouth hanging open. Purple light escaped from her, just as with the old dead man. The girl turned and walked away towards the black mountain, almost as if she expected them to follow.

Jore noticed the men exchange worried glances. Without the protection of Eredwrath’s light, Jore knew they would have run. Though it seemed Eredwrath’s light would not provide them complete comfort. Nor would it do the same for Jore.

Cautiously, they pushed on.

###

Tasaile’s eyes never left the young girl. She walked seemingly towards the same destination as Tasaile and his companions. They followed, but kept their distance. Tasaile held his faith that Eredwrath would protect them.
The girl stopped at the edge of the ruins. As Tasaile and the others slowed to a hault, they saw the entrance to a cave at the base of the shiny, black mountain. Within the cave, waited the gates to the underworld. The job was nearly complete. Soon the fiend would be banished from the mortal realm.

The girl started towards the cave, and as she did so, Tasaile saw others emerge from the structures nearby. There seemed a hundred or more, each with the same purple glow as the man and the girl. They walked towards the cave.

‘We should turn back,’ said Ned.

Muttering amongst the men seemed to suggest a consensus had been reached in favour of Ned’s suggestion.
‘We are safe as long as we’re within Eredwrath’s light,’ said Nye. ‘Any beings that wish us harm will be scorched by the light. If you turn back now, you will fall out of its protection. We four monks must deliver this fiend to the underworld.’

Tasaile knew they would follow. Wandering through the ruins without protection would bring certain danger.
‘Alright men,’ said Ned. ‘Let’s get this over with.’

‘What do you think they are?’ said Jore, as the group began towards the cave.

‘Souls of the departed,’ answered Nye. ‘I would say that they may be heading for the gates so that they can pass through once we have opened them. As for why we can see them, I can’t say.’

‘Nevertheless,’ said Tasaile. ‘If they wanted to harm us they would have been forced away by now.’

###

The purple light of the dead glistened in the obsidian rock surface of the mountain. On any other day the cave would have led towards a deep darkness as it stretched further away from the sun’s rays. But the light from the dead seemed to lead the way with a dim purple haze for Tasaile and his company.

They arrived at a set of wide brass gates deep into the mountain. It was here where the dead stopped, and waited. Through the gates, Tasaile could see nothing. But he knew of the foul creatures that rested there. Now one more would join them, and, it would seem, hundreds of other souls would come with it.

‘This is where our objective ends, brothers,’ said Tasaile. ‘I will unlock the gates.’

Tasaile removed an emerald from his robes and placed it on a pedestal before the gates.A rumble sounded from deep within the mountain. They waited. Shortly thereafter, they heard a low clunk reverberate throughout the cave. The gates began to open.

Almost in perfect unison, the entirety of the dead people vocalized a distinctly inhuman cry. Then they descended upon the monks and the hired men. Tasaile was thrown against the cave wall. His back crunched on an outcrop of rock. He watched as the dead people destroyed the cage holding back the fiend. The monk’s formation had been broken, severing their link to Eredwrath.

The fiend emerged and Tasaile saw the same purple light emanate from it as it did among the dead. And he understood. The dead people before him were not souls, capable of being repelled by the light of Eredwrath, but mere flesh able to animate at the will of the fiend.

He watched, unable to move, as the fiend beckoned towards the gates of the underworld. Through the wide gates came many a monster, hideous and murderous. Tasaile lay helpless amid the shrieking and ripping and thundering footsteps filling the once silent cave. He thought of the world and how it would damn him for his failure.

Tasaile looked back at the fiend, which did nothing but return Tasaile’s gaze with its large glowing purple eyes.

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