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Messages - Nora

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[NOV 2018] Image Prompt: Ships / Re: [Nov 2018] - Ships - Discussion Thread
« on: November 01, 2018, 05:43:08 PM »
Good references Skip!

I'm already working on an idea for #2 but we'll see. With my total lack of motivation these days, nothing is guaranteed.

[OCT 2018] Small Magics / Re: [Oct 2018] - Small Magics - Submission Thread
« on: November 01, 2018, 09:13:57 AM »
1485 - Artist and Hound

Kind of recycling a story I never got to use, but I've reworked the whole of it and completely changed the ending so I hope it qualifies.

Spoiler for Hiden:

Iain Hund, former supernatural homicide detective, now mere magical vandalism inspector, feels the staleness of his car's air like a strangling hand upon his thoughts.
He sends a last baleful glare at the wall he has pointlessly stalked for the past eight hours and starts his car to drive back to the station.

In all his years in the Sup-PD, Hund had never doubted his own righteousness. When the Harris case had come his way, he'd broken all the rules necessary to land the damn man behind bars and still felt like it was right.
He had accepted his demotion as a cheap price to pay to save the public from the likes of Jack Harris.
So when he put down his things on his new cramped desk at magical vandalism, and even after a year chasing Blues dealers, petty curse carvers, and weres doing their claws on public property, Iain Hund had remained serene.
Regret bloomed in him when the Artist's case was made his top priority.

Tom, whom he shares his desk with, is a cold shoulder to cry on.

"No chance with this new stake-out then?" Met only by moody silence, Tom pushes a box of donut accross the desk. "You look like you need some."

"You eat donuts like a road cop."

"Well, those guys know what's up. Didn't you work with them, back in the day?"

"Yes," Iain sighs, dunking his hand in the proffered box, "and this case is the most pointless and disheartening task I've been given in my career, which includes these old patrols with the normal's police, writing tickets and shit."

"Come on, the Artist has been taunting us for years, but she can't be flawless. Guy with an ability like yours, what's that? Magikolour synaesthesia? Why go for stake-outs and CCTV? Why not make some traps? You've got more magical ability than this whole floor put together!"

"Tom, I'd need so many warrants for one trap, it's not ever happening. I think I got given this task as extra punishment. Something senseless to run after until I retire."

"What if they really think you can catch the vandal who's never been caught?"

"Why do they want that anyway? Because some loony normal might scrap some paint off a wall and somehow figue out there's something off with it? What am I to say to her if I catch her? 'You're under arrest for artistry. Your fingers will be broken... No, sorry, I mean, I need your address so we can send you fines!' Don't you think we'd all be better off with more art like hers in NY, and less wendigos or murderous weres I could put behind bars?"

"Hund, I don't wanna disappoint, but the world's been doing just fine without you. Also, moaning to me isn't getting you back into homicide and you know it. Artist is no murderer, maybe you've got to change your tactic, get original."

Iain, knowing good advice when he hears it, wonders about the changes he could make. The police, sup or normal's, has no name or face to put on the Artist. Even her gender is as good as the street word, rumours from the guy who knows a guy who's seen her.

Dusting donut crumbs from his notebooks, Iain peruses through weeks of drawings. When seen by normals or photographed, the Artist's work is static, if beautiful graffiti art.
The drawings were to capture the details of what sups–anyone with a shred of magical ability–saw instead: myriads of images, sometimes a whole scene, with characters turning to the watcher, mouth opening in mute calls, sometimes the paint exploding out of the walls, pulling you in clouds of coruscant particles.
In his book Iain has little boats on the calm waters of a lake, the face of a submerged god half hidden under lotuses; a pale man weeping liquid gold; a woman playing a sitar, each sound coming alive in the shape of a fantastical animal; a highway bridge pillar turned into an aquarium in which twirled a bigger-than-life mermaid; and many more. His notebook is far thicker than the case file ever was.
In the last pages he finds the sketches made of a long mural of dancers. Their appearance changed depending on the angle you looked at it, a masquerade of shape-shifters. In it is a message for the man the Artist knows is on her trail, for hidden behind the legs of a dancer stands a black wolf-dog and though it has no collar, a golden tag gleams beneath its jaws, etched in the faintest strokes with the name Iain.

That's how she must see me: the law's dog on his invisible leash.

"Alright, let's get original."

"Mmh? Where are you going?"

"Hudson Heights. I'm gonna get friendlier with our local alchemists."

He leaves Tom to choke on his donut.

Alchemists have no claws or tooth to rend through you, but they don't need them. The power they wield, and their tendency for single minded obsession, makes them a prickly bunch, and the Sup-PD has a special unit for policing them.
Iain's badge feels like a flimsy shield in his hand as he steps down from the sunny, all-American street and into the subterranean entrance to the alchemy quarters.
The skills of the Artist and the finesse of her alchemical paints has already sent Iain deep inside those hidden galleries of shops and studios, where his questions revealed envy, admiration, and wholesalers of raw materials who did most business online and all proudly claimed her as a loyal customer, whilst unable or unwilling to prove anything.

The man at the entrance smiles at Hund.

"What do you want this time, cop?"

"Just visiting Toby Smith as a customer today." Iain grimaces. "Please."

The doorman grins sardonically, Smith being a famously irascible alchemist. He reaches for the door handle and applies his magic to it. To Iain it looks like a blue aura. A small displacement magic, that opens doors to other places. He nods his thanks and scuttles past and right into the maddening chaos of Toby Smith's shop.

"You again? What do you want now?" a disembodied voice asks from all corners.

Smith does business like this, never bothering to be present in the same room as his customers, his store guarded by an arsenal of curses that would make any hardened criminal as docile as a puppy.


"You're still after the Artist?"

"Ah, yes sir."

"You planning on defacing her work?"

"No sir. I–well, I like her work too. She caters to her fans though, and I thought, maybe, I can get to discuss with her somehow?"

Drawers open at invisible hands, glass jars and packets start drifting towards Iain.

"You're planning some sort of painting show-down? You've got guts Hund, I like it. Leave two hundred behind, follow the instructions on the packs, and work on your magic before mixing, unless you want blowing your moronic face off."

"Thanks sir."

"You're a better guy than I assumed."


"Mixing paints to life is a tiny magic, but it's also very rare. The Artist has a unique gift. That someone with such a high grade magic as yours can appreciate her work is good. Maybe with you on her case she won't get wiped after all."

Iain mouth goes very dry.

"Wiped? Why would..."

His mind reels. It makes perfect sense now. Why bother with breaking fingers, indeed! Such a small gift, to breath life into a pot of already alchemical paint. It would take a tiny trap seal with her name on it to erase her magic as surely as if she were born a normal. He can picture his bosses, patting him on the shoulder. Good job Hund.


"Thank you sir. For your honesty."

Iain goes home on autopilot, lost in his thoughts. He spends several evenings practising, and more building the final spell-works and paints before going out. He's mapped the Artist's work throughout Manhattan, and picked a wall she is likely to walk by. Finally he sits behind the wheel of his car and works a small shifting magic on his face.
He has decided to go into the night to do what he's paid to stop. He feels shivers of anticipation and dread, a kinship and a respect stronger than ever before for the Artist who so inconspicuously prowls the nights. 

He does her portrait, suggested, unfinished, broad strokes of paint revealing how little he knows of her. Sitting beside her stands a black hound with a golden tag, his muzzle resting in her lap, adoring eyes gazing up into her unpainted face waiting to be filled. Artist and Hound, he titles it.

A promise.

Two days later, Iain finds that the mouth of the Artist has been painted over in a slight smile.

Yeah I have 3/4 done. I will try to foinish it tomorrow.

I've been rewatching Downtown Abbey, so I think I'll do a bit of a servant-in-a-big-mention story.

[JUL + AUG 2018] Games / Re: [Jul+Aug 2018] - Games - Voting Thread
« on: October 04, 2018, 06:10:00 PM »
Congrats Alex, I voted for your story! And also Simonster and Wyvern, who did extremely well for all that they're new to the contest, they just really impressed me.
Was a bit frustrated I couldn't have one or two more votes this month, and if I'd had one more I'd have for sure voted for Darewood's silly tick tack toe story. I found it very endearing.

Also thanks to the three people would voted for me, since my rusty piece was really on the fringes of what the theme allowed. I wasn't expecting anything out of it, so thanks!

So long as you put a disclaimer in front of your story, and that there is no gratuitous violence (that is meaningless, irrelevant to the plot and not addressed by the plot), then you should be fine.
I mean I've written stories that had outright cannibalism and insinuated sexual assault and somehow that got a lot of likes (but it was a dark fairy tale, so I guess people were prepared for it).

You should be fine.

That's a fantastic topic thanks. Will try to actually make it now.

[SEP 2018] Meetings / Re: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Discussion Thread
« on: October 01, 2018, 01:42:45 AM »
Sorry, I don't think I'll make it this month either.  :'(

[SEP 2018] Meetings / Re: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Discussion Thread
« on: September 30, 2018, 12:47:34 AM »
Will try to form up my story from my bits and pieces tomorrow, but no promises. Obviously one day isn't a lot to do a whole draft. But I'll try.

[JUL + AUG 2018] Games / Re: [Jul+Aug 2018] - Games - Voting Thread
« on: September 17, 2018, 01:53:01 PM »
Yep, got to admit it was a tougher choice than usual! I voted for three but could have confidently voted for 5. Good month in the end, so I guess it's for the best we spent two months on it!

[JUL + AUG 2018] Games / Re: [Jul+Aug 2018] - Games - Voting Thread
« on: September 10, 2018, 12:28:46 AM »
I’m about to vote, but before I do, I want to say how awesome this month’s stories are. I could easily vote for five or six and enjoyed all of them. Really. The best month of stories in a while, IMHO.


Maybe it´s because we had 2 Months instead of one.

No it's just 100% because I'm back hahaha!

rolls out and away....

Seriously though, thanks for the post guys, as I need to start reading and I've been finding it hard to make the time recently. I needed that motivation boost. Now I'll make it a thing to achieve tomorrow, instead of "later".

Then if I could get the motivation to sit and write the new topic too......

[SEP 2018] Meetings / Re: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Discussion Thread
« on: September 01, 2018, 09:16:55 PM »
That's very character and dialogue heavy, so very cool. I have a couple ideas, but I'll sleep on it today and hopefully wake up inspired tomorrow!

[JUL + AUG 2018] Games / Re: [Jul+Aug 2018] - Games - Discussion Thread
« on: September 01, 2018, 07:37:51 AM »
So long as it doesn't delay the new month topic? I also will have almost no time beyond this weekend and then another weekend in the month and that's it. It's gonna be rough to spare time to write at all.
If the kids play along I'll open it tonight, if not tomorrow night.

That'd be a whole day to try and sketch up something so that's good. I hope it'll be an easy theme to come up with something.

[JUL + AUG 2018] Games / Re: [Jul+Aug 2018] - Games - Discussion Thread
« on: August 31, 2018, 12:07:30 PM »
So long as it doesn't delay the new month topic? I also will have almost no time beyond this weekend and then another weekend in the month and that's it. It's gonna be rough to spare time to write at all.

[JUL + AUG 2018] Games / Re: [Jul+Aug 2018] - Games - Submission Thread
« on: August 28, 2018, 10:47:21 PM »
Arnas' Brand is 1400ish words, and for old timers, yes it is a riff on a previous story of mine, though that was so long ago I don't expect the memory of it will influence anyone's reading.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Arnas' Brand

Today I am playing tag. It's my day off and I was out shopping, enjoying the feel of the sun on my sadly white limbs, but dispatch called, saying it's happening near me and they know I don't mind a bit of tag. I don't, and anyway dispatch wasn't asking. So I give chase, reading data as it flashes over my vision. It feels good to run, even if it makes people nervous as I rush past them.
I leap over a bench and into a small park, pick up speed, loping strides swallowing all that open space. It makes me feel giddy, for a second it's like I'll get to keep going like this forever–and then I grind to a halt. It's a small park and I have long legs.

I'm faced with four possible streets, all twisting away into residential areas I'm unfamiliar with. My query is matched by grid maps overlaying themselves against my vision. I'm lost in thought, looking for clues in the red lines and blue nexuses, when a shrill cry splits the air.
I look down, all the way down, to a terrified little girl looking back up at me with angry tears running down a reddening face. A chubby fingers points, shaking, and her mouths opens to let out more anguish. A young woman comes running, her face even redder. She bows again and again like a broken toy, never looking up, dragging her child away in a tight embrace, as if I might reach out to snatch her.
I could try to reassure her, say that I'm not here for them, that her child can point and cry to her heart's content, but if I spoke I'd only scare them more. People can't help themselves. It's the red eyes, the bionics protruding from my shoulder blades, and the way I tower over them, all torso and legs and far-reaching arms, like I've been pulled thin.
I watch the mother and child disappear through the greenery and turn back to the task at hand. I have someone to find, and dispatch doesn't expect me to lose. I pick the most likely road and start running again, more conscious now of people's frightened looks. Well, they can relax, I'm after a code 33-0, so no relatives of theirs.

Before long I get a little help as the grid pings me. A cam caught sight of my quarry before it squeezed between two buildings. I veer North, pleased. He had me fooled and I took the wrong street.
You can tell a lot about people by how they behave on the run. Do they hide, do they backtrack in a circle, do they run without looking back? Some bluff while others think the administration does, that it won't actually come for them. Even when they choose to run, how many know to avoid the grid? If they're even willing to pull their chip out. I have a worthy opponent today. Here is a man who knows how to lay off the grid, tireless and zigzaging like he can shake the pursuit he knows is hot on his heels. But by definition it's his first time, while I have a lot of experience at this game.

The walls surrounding communal gardens get higher, the back streets, away from the all-seeing eyes of grid-connected entrance gates, get narrower. Soon there are no more gardens, trash starts getting in the way and rusty maintenance ladders snake down grimy facades. If we keep going that way we'll end up in the slums by the sea-side, and things will get complicated.
I loose time checking side streets, but there is no hurry, I'm catching up.

By the time I can smell him it's game over. I pick up the pace, abandoning all pretence of human movement. When I see him I bound ahead, cutting off the chase.
My target is male, of middling age, and heavily disfigured by Pep abuse. Acrid sweat has drenched his shirt, revealing the blotched and distorted flesh on which it clings. A duffel bag rests in the rubbish scattered at his feet. His breath is wheezy and his glare full of hatred, which is nice–it beats fear, and that'll come soon enough.

"That was a good run," I say, "but you're it."

The man's face contorts.

"Is this a game to you, you fucking monster?"

I look at the pink drool quivering from his swollen lips. I probably look less monstrous than he does right now, but it's besides the point.

"Well, it was a game to you, wasn't it?" I ask. "You certainly gambled  with your life, and lost. You could have stayed put, played your part in society–your choice."

"Gambled? My choice? To end up–like this? With this screwed up life?" The man's voice grows shrill, his breath full of phlegm. "Society doesn't give people choices, monster, never did! Doesn't want me either, it wants someone to fill a role and not do anything else. I'd have to kill who I am to fit in the crazy fucking box your society would have me put in. Fuck this shit! What if I overdosed on Pep? The stuff makes you like a god. What if it's black market goods? I kept it to myself! All I wanted was–was some freedom! Alright? This isn't fair!"

I can feel the smile splitting my face, lips stretching over metal-composite teeth in a crescent of horror. I wonder if he knows Pep is the street name of the drug techs feed us when we're recovering from injury. It boosts our metabolisms, but on humans... I laugh.

"You poor thing! Society's not giving you a break? I'd feel sorry for you if I hadn't been engineered specifically to do this job." I pull down my collar, revealing the intricate tattoo embedded in my DNA, a birthmark proclaiming me the eternal property of Arnas BioLife Incorporated. "My kin and I, we live in rooms in building blocks owned and operated by Arnas, we work on Arnas orders and schedules, they own us down to the patent."

I glare down at the man, feeling for once a rush of cruel pleasure as terror creeps over his puffy face.

"You think you have it bad, but you had the freedom to rebel, the liberty to fuck yourself up and to run away! You just made a mistake, had to go and trip all your health wires on stolen Pep, a trademark property of Arnas." I shrug. "I was made to uphold the rules, and that's why we call it tag and toy with you. It's the only game we really get to play."

I step forward, watch him stumble back.

"Cases like yours are the best too, since I get to choose. In code 33-0, do you know what the zero stands for?"

He shakes his head, his spunk all gone. I crouch to face him.

"It means we can bring you back dead or alive, as convenient."

The man's bloodshot eyes roll back in his skull and he falls with a heavy thud, the sweet sound of total victory. I snap a monitoring cuff on his left wrist and ping dispatch. A buzz heralds the voice of my dispatch overseer, Lee.

"Good job. Only took you half an hour."

"I was fast, as per my overlord's orders. Please send in the pick up team so I can go back to my shopping."

"Stop with the nerdy references or I will sign you up on some littoral sanitation work on Black Beach. Also, the monitor says the guy's passed out?"

"Yes. I felt like he wasn't ready to appreciate his future."

"You can't knock out everyone we send you to tag."

"You don't get it Lee. This guy will wake up in a cell, not understanding why he isn't dead. He'll be forced to get clean and serve time, and go through social rehab, and the whole time he'll think this is his lucky strike, his one chance at redemption. Instead of being bitter, he'll marvel that he didn't die in the maw of the evil–"

"Aye, aye, cut the crap. You're a cat playing with your food, and I've known you from the day they rolled you out of assembly line. Now go back to your day off."

I smile. I don't get to chose much in my life, but I wouldn't swap Lee for anyone if I could.

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