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Writing of the Fortnight

General discussion about Avlis

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Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Zonr_0 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:11 pm

(Make sure any such posts are either within acceptable tavern/journal rules or have DM approval)

Shamelessly ripped off from Inspired by the excellent Art of the fortnight thread, I thought we should have a place for prose submissions since TwiBel would like to keep the thread dedicated to visual art. We already have the character journals, but I don't think I'm alone in knowing that I'm much more likely to write with a good prompt inspiring me. More excitingly, see that big scary red disclaimer up there? That means you have license to go crazy as long as it's at least tangentially related to Avlis in some way. Want to write for NPCs? All good here. Want to write about an alternate history Avlis where the Orcs won The Great War? How about what Avlis would look like as a modern urban fantasy? Or maybe you have a DBZ/Avlis slashfic that's been burning a hole in the back of your mind that you've been dying to share with the world. You're still welcome to write IC stuff, (following disclaimer above), but I heartily encourage you to try writing something different.

How it works:

Once every other week (Sunday), the next person on the list will post a writing prompt, and everyone who wants to will post their related poems/short stories/novels/sonnets/song lyrics/etc. in the thread for us to praise and enjoy. I'll keep a copy of the current prompt on the first page of the thread. Every who participates will be added to the list, and those who participate often will be moved up it faster.


1. Not everybody's Fitzgerald, but we're all here to have a good time. No hassling anybody about their writing skill.

2. Everybody's prompt turn is theirs to spend as they like. More general prompts where people can write whomever they like tend to work better, but if they want to ask for nothing but steamy vampire romance, they get to. Don't hassle them about that either.


1. Do not plagiarize. If your work riffs off an existing piece of writing or fiction, make sure it's sufficiently transformative and give proper attribution to the original work. Let's see your work and not some find/replace copypasta! (The irony of this is not lost on me)

2. Not everyone is reading this in the privacy of their own homes. The thread is marked not safe for work, but if you're posting something that might raise eyebrows in an office, please consider putting it up as a link rather than an image, just for courtesy. Please mark any writings with explicit sex in them as NSFW .

2b. Please do not submit anything that depicts nonconsensual or underaged sex either explicitly or as a significant reference in your story. Best just stay as far away as possible from them.

2c. Please do not write stories with a predominantly sexual or erotic focus involving other players' characters without their explicit permission.

3. Stories that contain unusually explicit violence or torture should also be linked with a warning. Be sensitive to other peoples' experiences.

4. If your story is long or contains lots of formatting, consider linking to it as well. Publishing a google doc is a good option for this. (File -> Publish to Web)

5. If somebody writes something about your character that would otherwise be canon and you like it so much you want to adopt it into your character history, please ask for permission from both the author and the DMs and then post it in a character journal.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Zonr_0 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:12 pm

This week's topic is:

The Games Children Play.....

Prompt runs till Sunday July 12. Have fun![/quote]
Last edited by Zonr_0 on Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Zonr_0 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:13 pm

Current queue:


Previous Prompts:

The Tavern
Last edited by Zonr_0 on Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:04 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: silverfields2 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:06 pm

:prost: :prost:
Someone told me I was delusional. I nearly fell off my unicorn.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Zonr_0 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:30 am

The Boast

“It’s true! Cadence Everhart herself saved me from a rampaging horde of bugbears on the road.” Shen’mil sat up straight and puffed out his chest. “She even stopped to ask me if I was alright” the young elf wore a big stupid grin on his face.

“So? What happened then?” Fendial sipped from his wine and leaned across the table. Shen’s eyes sparkled and he could barely stay in his seat.

“The news and stories don’t do her justice, Fendial! She looked at those hulking brutes like they were no more threatening than a lame buck and put five arrows into five skulls in five seconds.” Shen drew back an imaginary bow for dramatic effect and his words took a wistful quiet turn. “I wonder if I could learn to shoot a bow like that someday.” he trailed off with a smile, and Fendial couldn’t help but mirror it. Shen’s heads were perpetually in the clouds, but he was a hard worker and had a good heart.

“Alright then Shen, let’s head to the range behind the stag and see what we have to work with.”
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: silverfields2 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:52 am

6: Avlis Art of the Week: The Tavern and Heroes
Smokey corners in the dull morning hours
Rain falling on all the flowers
Lonely man employing his bardic powers
We are all drinking alone

Shadows hide eyes of mistrust
Shadows hide eyes full of lust
Bartender wipes illusionary dust
We are all drinking alone

When the door opens everyone stares
Hoping it may be someone who cares
Hoping it may be someone who dares
To not be the one drinking alone
Someone told me I was delusional. I nearly fell off my unicorn.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Toadyx » Thu Jun 18, 2015 9:36 am

In the Tavern

“He’s in again.”

Mrs Pettigee pounded a fist into the bread dough. “So? Get out there and serve him, Trudi. That’s your job.”

Trudi lifted the neckline of her bodice and buttoned it up. “I don’t like the way he looks at me.”

Mrs Pettigee paused as she rolled out the dough and looked at the young woman coolly. “He has coin and he’s willing to spend it. Why do you care how he looks at you? Just so long as he does look. What do you think we pay you for?”

Trudi walked over to the large grey stone sink and dropped two tankards into the warm water. She trotted back to the door that led to the main bar. Trudi paused and looked back at the older woman. She opened her mouth to speak, but thought better of it and walked through the door.

The tavern wasn’t busy. It was still early and most of the locals were still labouring in the city’s streets and workshops. There were only six customers seated at the oak tables, and another three leaned against the bar where Mr Pettigee stood, pouring ale from the large barrels behind him. Trudi sighed and wiped her fingers down her apron. Then she clenched her hands into fists and walked over to the table nearest the tavern’s main doors.
The man seated there stared intensely at the single coin that sat on the table top. It was as if the single silver florin was his only possession in the world, but the fat purse tied onto his belt gave the lie to his furrowed brow and desperate concentration. His face was thin and bitter. His eyes were bloodshot and glistened dully. He was dressed in a worn cotton jerkin and a long, heavy leather coat.

He heard her approach and looked up. His moist, reddened gaze slithered over the curves and crevices of her body. His lips twisted in a cynical, silent snarl. There was no hot lust or even any mild appreciation in his stare; merely a contemptuous, insulting, calculating examination that was in some way more intrusive.

Trudi hid her clenched fists behind her back and fixed a rigid smile on her face. She did not look at his face, but stared at a small stain on the wall behind his left shoulder. She came to a halt a single pace from the table.

“Good day, Master Jakob,” she said as brightly as she could, but she heard a tremor in her own voice that she hoped no-one else would notice. “What can we do for you today?”

Jakob’s watery eyes dripped down her bodice and apron until they came to rest on her red patterned sandals.
“A quart of old ale and a double gin,” he said, moving his stare back to the single coin on the table. His voice was quiet, but he bit his words out through broken yellow teeth. A rank odour wafted from his mouth as he spoke.

Trudi nodded jerkily and fled quickly back towards the bar. She exhaled heavily when she got there. Only then did she realise that she had been holding her breath. Mr Pettigee looked at her with some sympathy as she blurted out the order. She sneezed loudly, holding her apron in front of her face.

“Well done, my dear,” he said softly, “His usual old ale but with a double gin too? Does that mean-?” He looked up. “Ah, yes. He has a guest.”

Trudi risked a glance back over her shoulder to see another figure now seated at the table. It was short and its feet did not touch the floor, but dangled freely showing heavy, iron nailed boots. It was covered from head to boots with a long cloak and a deep hood. It placed a hand onto the table and Trudi could see that its skin was grey-green.

“One of them!” she hissed to the tavern keeper, leaning forward across the bar. She curled a lip. “I’m not at all surprised.”

“You mind your manners, young lady,” admonished the tavern keeper and his brows dipped in a temporary frown. “We welcome all sorts here. Put your personal views aside and keep your opinions to yourself.” He turned back to the barrels and poured dark ale into a large pewter mug. He placed it onto the bar. He took a bottle from a shelf and measured two shots into a smaller wooden mug that was shaped to mimic a barrel. He took out a small tray from under the bar and placed the drinks upon it.

Trudi pulled back her shoulders and picked up the tray. She turned back towards the table nearest to the tavern door. She fixed a rigid blank expression onto her face and stomped across the wooden floor. She reached the table and set the tray down. She took the pewter mug and placed it in front of Jakob. The little barrel of gin she placed on the table in front of the short, hooded figure. She risked a glance at it and she saw yellow, gleaming eyes looking back at her. She saw a grinning mouth full of ivory teeth that had been sharpened into points. Jakob flicked the silver coin an inch in her direction. She scooped it up quickly.

“Any food tonight, gentlemen?” she asked, marvelling at her own bravery. “The roast pork is particularly good.”

The two customers both shook their heads. “Perhaps later,” croaked the hooded figure. Jakob’s gaze began to lift itself towards her and she skittered away from the table. It stopped and turned towards his companion.

“It can be arranged?” he asked.

“Of course, of course,” replied the goblin smoothly, “Anything for you and Mr Erasmus. My people will be ready.”

“I have found the one that we require,” said Jakob, “and I have told my master.”

“Does she know?”

“Of course not,” answered Jakob, shaking his head irritably. “First, she must be separated from her own friends.”

The goblin snickered. “They think themselves so strong, so powerful.”

“They will learn otherwise,” said Jakob with a contemptuous sneer. “Once we have her, you will be free to eliminate the others. I don’t care what methods you use, but make sure they are gone. Keep whatever you find.”

“Very generous, very generous, I’m sure,” answered the goblin. “However, that was not my price.”

Jakob placed his hand under his coat, and brought it out again. Through his closed fist a dull red gleam could be seen. The goblin laughed coarsely.

“Ah yes, there it is,” he said. “There it is.” For a moment it might have appeared that he was tempted to make a grab towards Jakob’s fist, but then he subsided back into his seat and his smile broadened. “The promises of Mr Erasmus are always to be trusted in matters of business.”

Jakob put the item back beneath his coat. “And so, tomorrow night?”

The goblin nodded. “We will be there, below ground and out of sight of any interference. Above ground?”

“You are not my only resource,” answered Jakob with a twisted smile. “Make sure your people know that she is not to be harmed in any way. I don’t want them getting too enthusiastic.”

“Yes, yes,” replied the goblin with a wave of his hand. “I’ll keep them in my claws.”

“Tomorrow night, then,” said Jakob. He sat back in his seat and lifted the pewter jug to his lips.

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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Geris » Fri Jun 19, 2015 4:33 am

...How Am I Supposed to Live Without You...

The brush behind her rustled. MJ, longcoat dusty and eyes weary from a long patrol, slowly turned around.

A shadow, black as ink against the moonlit dark of the forest, rose slowly before her. It took the shape of a man, tall and dark, long hair spilling from a hood and drifting in the shallow breeze. He stepped forward into the clearing, eyes glowing like a hunting cat's caught in the light. Upon him hung a menagerie of weapons.

She immediately reached for her blade, favored bow still tied to her back.

"What do you want?" She demanded.

The man licked his teeth as he stared at her. For the briefest moment, MJ got caught in that gaze, and when it lapsed he stood in front of her, towering above, heavy hand covering her own, which now held a half-drawn sword.

MJ swallowed. Her heart pounded. She had been this close before, known the touch of this hand, and it had nearly spelled her end.

"Let me go!" She tried to pull her hand away, but his hold was too strong. He leaned down towards her.

"What do you want?" She asked again, this time as a whisper. The question of her fate filled her eyes.

She felt his hand squeeze hers. Slowly, her fingers unwrapped the handle of her sword and the weight of her hand slid into his. Her mouth went dry. Her breath caught in her throat. His face grew closer. His eyes... closer. His lips... she could not look away.

"What do you want?" She asked a final time, mouth parting.

The man was silent, hair brushing her cheeks in the wind, lips but an inch from her own.

"You know what I want." His voice was deep, though barely audible. His breath fell warm upon her.

MJ stood frozen, silent, intoxicated by the darkness sweeping over her.

"You want..." The words barely made it out.

He waited, looming.

" turtle?"

"Yes, MJ. Your turtle."

She swallowed, drew in a breath, and sighed softly.

"Anything. Anything you please."

A flick of her eyes to the right, a glint of blue light, and the man dove to the side. A massive axe, crackling with lightning, split the air where he was standing. Behind it was a hulk of a man, a tower of rippling muscle, crowned with blonde hair and draped in white furs. The dark figure wasted no time in vanishing back into the shadows. MJ looked up to her rescuer.

"Thank you Tor."

"Methinks he is a nithling for trying to steal your turtle."

"He's an asshole."

"Hmmmmmmm." Tor's incredibly large left pectoral pulsed hypnotically. It stopped. Then the right pectoral started.


"He will try again some day."

MJ nodded with a scowl, picked up her walking stick, and turned towards town.

"Let's go before he comes back."

Tor hung his axe over his shoulder and joined her on the road. Together they marched north, much to the chagrin of a tribe of hobgoblins that frequently raided the road. They passed a familiar tavern.

Deep in the forest, beneath the cliffs of an ancient chasm, the mysterious man paces grief stricken and enraged.

He tears his weapons from his body and claws at his armor until his tattooed chest is bared to the moonlight.

He doubles over in pain, clenching his fist and teeth, only to draw in a deep breath and throw his hands desperately towards the sky. He cries out to the gods, relaxes, then breaks mournfully into song:

"I didn't come here for cryin'
Didn't come here to break down
It's just a dream of mine is coming to an end
And how can I blame you when I build my world around
The hope that one day we'd be so much more than friends
And I don't wanna know the price I'm gonna pay for dreaming
When even now it's more than I can take"

Grief contorts his face as he walks through the trees. He clenches his fists once more, tenses his body, and croons powerfully towards the sky.

"Tell me how am I supposed to live without you!
Now that I've been lovin' you so long!
How am I supposed to live without you!
How am I supposed to carry on!
When all that I've been livin' for is gone!"

Clouds pass over the moon, cloaking him in utter darkness.

Silence falls over his sanctuary.

The curtain drops.

The end.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Zonr_0 » Fri Jun 19, 2015 7:22 am

Wow, these are all amazing!

Also Geris, bwahahahaha.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: LadyAwesome » Sat Jun 20, 2015 4:27 am

Her name was Sasha, a human from the north. Although it had been a long time since she had called it her home, and just as long since she felt like any place was home. She had come across many people in her time as a whore, no body special an escape from her old life not that it was any better than this one.
Her skin was so warm as if the sun had kissed it himself, and her hair was the colour of honey which was tussled over her shoulder in a knot. Sasha stood pouring some beers in a small dingy tavern in a bustling city, smiling to a patrons and speaking to them as they were old friends. Every so often she would offer them a teasing kiss on the cheek.
With a few moments of a break her expression turned to the small child, who resembled the woman yet her nymphish feature stood strong and bold. Sasha smiled though as she watched the girl copy the notes that the dark man beside her was playing. The man laughed at the small girl’s frustration, yet she was so determined to get them right.
Sasha wiped the bar off and started to walk towards the piano then she is stopped in her tracks. A slobberish drunk man gropes at her behind, whispers in her ear before handing Sasha a hand full of gold. She nods in return with a sultry smile before turning to the piano.
“You okay to watch Suki for a bit Max?” the man nods and turn back to the girl.
Sasha and the drunk man head for the taverns rooms leaving the sweet sound of unpractised Piano playing.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Hamlet » Sat Jun 20, 2015 4:34 pm

Tales of Future-Past
The Tavern

"Might wanna grab a seat for this one. It gets real weird, real fast."

"Bah! Like y'all know weird." The dwarf tugged at his scorched beard, pacing around the unconscious ogre, kicking splintered furniture and sending broken pottery flying every which way.

One gaunt silhouette in the corner unfolded his bandaged arms. His black fingernails began a slow tap-dance atop the two alien skulls hanging off his belt. Next to him, a withered elf drooled into his drink; his mouth split forever in a wicked grin curving all the way up to his right cheekbone. Snow mixed with ashes wafted under the doorway, dusting his boots. The elf remained quite oblivious to that.

"The Pilgrim, no. The Crimson, maybe. As for me ..." The scrawny, pale Sentinel shrugged, circling his pewter mug with his index finger, pinky up. The hulking brute of a Deputy next to him kept silent.

"Welp. Moining shift 's out soon, so start talkin' or start walkin'. Can't have me venue closed fer tha day!"

The barkeep's speech met a sudden stop as the orc-blood rose from her seat, planting her axe at her feet. Her soft voice echoed in the trashed hall.

"Le'ss juzt call it a private party. Plea'z have a 'sseat, Mass'r Kessen."

Legnar "Snow Eater" Kessen let out a sharp breath, looking up.

"Speak yer piece, Deputy Edwina."

"Eh... 'ss juzt Ed, Mass'r Kessen."

"Foine. Ed. I'll hear ya. But then ya girls 'n yer shady boyfriends take yer thinking hats 'n take a hike away from me bar!"
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Kanos » Sun Jun 21, 2015 7:47 pm

Come what may
we will find a way
We will find harmony
Come what may
We will seek it and never stray
For every day that we linger
we remain fractured
we will not bring her
Come what may
We must find the way.
To unity.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: silverfields2 » Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:56 pm

Are you looking for another prompt to kick off another fortnight of writing? Look no further- I offer up the following idea for you to play with.....

The Games Children Play.....

((... and if it inspires you to draw something instead.. I'm not judging.. :cooler: ))
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Elradra » Sun Jun 28, 2015 2:25 am

Metal Riddles

Another building blew up last night. It woke her up, the concussive blast and the screams. The orange glow of fire could be seen even from her bedroom window as it illuminated a pillar of black smoke against the night sky a whole district over. Once the initial shock wore off though the little girl smiled to herself. Tomorrow she might get a new toy.

She had to move fast before someone else could grab her targets. As soon as the sun peeked over the city walls she was up and at her chores. Her bed was made as soon as her feet hit the floor, the wooden bowls she and her mother used for breakfast cleaned in record time, and hanging the laundry provided the perfect chance for her to slip away with little notice.

The padding of tiny feet soon filled the alleys as small forms flitted through the small spaces of the city. The girl's sandy hair was soon caked in webs as she hurtled and dove through the tiny walkways between homes. Her lungs were choked with dust, but she couldn't slow down. Losing against the investigators meant a fate worse than death to her young mind. Losing the race meant boredom.

She burst out of the shadows covered in so much dirt and dust that she was nearly as gray as the stone around her from head to foot. Ahead in the morning sunlight was the blackened skeleton of the destroyed home. Around it milled the lizard people, hissing as they discussed the wreck. The girl crouched low and crept forward with the hope she'd blend in with the cobblestones. For good measure she silently mouthed a prayer to any deity that cared to listen. Meanwhile a handful of her playmates made their way into their impromptu playground.

Each of the children scanned the ashes for glints of metal. Hardly a one of them knew the other, but each found good reason in their mind to risk coming to these attack sites. Some wanted to scrape a few coins from the wreckage, others just wanted to check out the devastation. But she? She came here to dig for nothing more than the door handles and their locks. The fairy flitting above the scene came to these for the sugary treats that came with helping spot these locks for her. In short order the diminutive figure floated down to a glint near the edge of the ashes.

With part of last night's dessert traded for next week's entertainment the girl retreated back into the shadows of a nearby alley with prize in hand. With a little probing from some pins she kept stuck inside her shirt she found herself in luck. The flames hadn't damaged the delicate springs inside the lock! With a satisfied smirk she slipped back home with doorknob in hand to fetch her tools.

It had been weeks since her mother had had enough spare coin to buy another book to add to their slowly forming library. It had been months since her oovu had come back with stories from his time in the army in T'Nanshi. So it was with a greed that only the starved and hungry know that she set about figuring out her new puzzle, her little metal riddle, as soon as she snuck back in her bedroom.

Despite multiple scoldings about fiddling with locks she had become quite good at cracking them open. With a bobby pin she caressed the pin heads. Those that refused to yield were met with a meticulous tapping that forced them into place. Soon, far too soon, the lock fell against the onslaught of tiny fingers to let a rush of euphoria wash over the girl like a breeze through an open door. For a few seconds she grinned at her success. Then, with almost a disgusted sigh she slid the finished puzzle under her bed to join a growing pile of similar coping mechanisms.

She hoped her father would finally get to come back from fighting the lizards in the forests so he could tell her stories again. He had such a way of capturing her imagination even as he taught her practical lessons about survival in the wild. Soon, she told herself, he'll be back and she won't have to scavenge to keep her mind stimulated.

There was another explosion instead.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Hamlet » Sun Jun 28, 2015 3:41 am

Tales of Future-Past
The Games Children Play

"All due respect, Master Kessen, you didn't have to come all the way to Coldshadow just to complain about leaving your inn closed for the day --"

"All due respect, Brigadier, I've known ye since ye were a proper lady 'n nae... er... wotever that is..."

The scrawny Sentinel bared teeth. Before more barbs could be exchanged, his towering sidekick stepped in.

"... 'ess a gender-altering Tranzmutation done right, Mass'r Kessen."

"Wotever. With 'em elves, I ne'er know! Wot I do know, is that no skunk set foot in that inn, nor any living thing. It were closed 'fore it opened. Ain't that right, yer Holiness?"

"There was a family of miners living in the back room once. Only using it for storage, now." The old Ganoomkin removed her spectacles and wiped them in the sleeve of her robe, - that of Dagath's Order of Life. "It is most definitely not cursed. And I honestly doubt it's haunted." She pauses. "If I have to guess, some miscreants sneaked in."

"If the village council's all right with it, I'm all right with it. Let's make an entrance, Ed." The Brigadier stepped back, gesturing to the Deputy. Muscles bulging, the young woman endeavored to do just that, - which is, displace the door from its frame.

The group remained silent for a while, until the dust-tainted rays of morning light reached to the dark recesses of the Coldshadow Inn hallway, abandoned since its construction.

"Blast!... I knew it!" The Priestess approached first, nearly pushing the scrawny Sentinel aside. "That's her! That's her all right. The one in the orange sundress, that's my great-grand-daughter."

Legnar "Snow Eater" Kessen shifted his weight, uncomfortable. The Sentinels exchanged glances, none too eager to speak.

"The one that you can sorta see through, now, that's my baby sister. She fell down the roof when we were little. Passed right there and then." The Priestess threw her cane aside, stepping through the wreckage. "Now what are you gawking at? Clear the way!"

Inside, two little girls finally abandoned their hide-and-seek and rushed to greet her. Unbeknownst to most, tears streaked the Priestess' winter-apple-creased cheeks. She opened her arms.

Blinding light enveloped the three as they embraced.

In its aftermath, only two stood.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: TwiBel » Sun Jun 28, 2015 7:58 am

Tavern Story

Pulk watched the priestess drink at the Hang Brains, biding his time. As long as he didn’t make trouble, nobody looked close enough to care that he was a scrawny, underfed human youth and not one of the short folk. Melek always told him, better to stay with one mark you’re sure has got a purse than run around the whole damn city and get caught with your hand in somebody’s belt.

Not that that had helped Melek, in the end.

The priestess bought drinks carelessly, like money meant nothing, and Pulk could tell he wasn’t the only one watching her and stroking a knife. The woman had cozied up at the bar next to an ogre with a battle axe larger than Pulk, pulled out a tiny checkered game board, and taken turns with the bruiser moving back and forth pieces. She looked distracted enough for a clean snatch, but there was a long space in between him and the bar, and he wasn’t about to get caught next to someone eight times his size and meaner than a dock guard. He spent his time instead trying to figure out who the priestess was a priestess of.

It should have been easy. Even out of the giant tents of colored vestments they wore in the temple district, there should have been an amulet, a ring, some shout of praise. Instead the woman had no jewelry, no insignias, not even hair Pulk could look at to guess at her station from how it was done up. If three separate people in the bar hadn’t greeted her as “priest,” Pulk would never have guessed, so it was probably a god she was ashamed of, or one of the illegal ones: Verossa, Xenon, Angadar. If it was Xenon, Pulk decided, he wasn’t just going to swipe the purse. He was going to stab her, and damn the consequences.

The woman’s eyes swept the room, quick and casual, but Pulk saw it, and he ducked back behind one of the other patrons. When he looked back, she had her hands before her in a gesture of surrender and she was smiling in a way he didn’t trust.

“That’s your win again, Brogh.”

The ogre stroked its chin, its thinking expression painful. “You letting me.” The priestess hopped off her stool and took a fresh bottle of something dark from the bar in front of her.

“Yes, but less than I was before. Keep an eye on your bishops, they’re a tricky piece.” She stretched and brought the bottle to her lips. “I’m going for a walk and a bit of dock air.”

The ogre grunted and Pulk made his way out ahead of her. The faster this was over with the better. He nested himself in among crates and boxes in the narrow corridor between the Hang Brains and the easternmost docks where the goblin boats became floating lakes of rain and spoiled bait. Pulk had had a good knife once. Now he mostly made do with a bit of scrap metal ground sharp on one side. Nothing lasted anymore.

Maybe she wasn’t a Xenonite. Maybe he could just rob her.

When she walked past him, she looked for all the world like it was only a casual stroll, but something about it struck Pulk as wrong, almost practiced. He gripped his makeshift knife and made a fast slash for the strings on the pouch at her side, the one from which he had seen her pay for drinks.

He felt the knife hit more than just solid cloth, but there was no cry, no grunt of pain. He couldn’t look back, the only think for it now was to run, before the priestess called down some holy curse to pay him back for the wound. He scrabbled back past the light of the inn, past the doors and the cracked and smoky windows, and wedged himself between a drain pipe and the wall. Small as he was, he could scamper up this back way and no full grown person could follow him. The roof was isolated from the others and too far to jump, but the chimneys were warm even in the rain and he could watch below until any pursuit gave up.

Pulk pressed his back against the warm, stained bricks of the chimney, curling into the slant of the roof around the little pouch. It felt lighter than he was hoping. He pulled at the strings and strained his eyes in the dim. Nothing shone within. Instead there were dark, square lumps.

“It’s chocolate” said a voice beside him. “You looked hungry.”

Pulk jumped backward and a hand reached out and grabbed his collar before he fell off the roof. The priestess eased him back, then released him and smiled. When she scooted back out of arms length, her hands raised amiably before her, Pulk could see the spreading wetness at her side.

“Fix it!” he snapped at her. “I know you can.”

The priestess put her hand to the wound and brought it away red, then turned her fingers in the dimness. Even Pulk could see the shine.

“I’ve had worse,” she said at last. She waved the bloody hand at him. “You should eat.”

Pulk pressed his back into the chimney, cornered as an animal. He reached for his scrap of knife. “How did you get up here?”

The priestess looked behind her, carelessly, then shrugged. “Not every hiding spot is as secure as we think.”

“That’s not an answer!” Pulk pushed the pouch back at her. “Take it back, if that’s what you came for. I don’t want your food.” But the woman made no move toward it, only canted her head to the side in amusement.

“How long have you been on the streets, child?”

Pulk let the silence hang between them. If she didn’t have to answer, he wouldn’t either. He kept his eyes on hers, snatched the bag back to himself, and rammed a handful of the food into his face. His fingers warmed it and made it sticky. The grit of the road got into it, but he didn’t care.

The priestess leaned back on the roof and looked up through the chimney smoke at the sky, which was never much to look at as far as Pulk was concerned. She had that far off look his grandmother had gotten when she was still alive, but it seemed like her mind had moved on to some other part of the cycle.

“I lived in Kuras for a while,” she said. “Years and years ago. Do you know where that is? No? Mm, it’s far north, and for a while it was ruled over by an immortal emperor, and to this day many of the people who live in Kuras would tell you it is the height of all human culture on the face of the world. They have great academies for sword fighting, ball rooms as big as all the broad alley tenements pushed together, great temples to Toran with columns straight and ordered as men at arms. Then, I was wearing fancy ball gowns and eating fine meals at tables where there were no less than six forks, each for a different course.”

Pulk glared at her. He couldn’t tell if she was lying to try to get him to lower his guard, or if she was truly enough of a scoundrel to tease him with talk of food when he hadn’t had a proper meal in weeks- at least not one that wasn’t charity or spoiling scraps. His belly burbled gratefully around the chocolate and he glared down at it as well.

“Be slow with those, child, or you’ll make yourself sick. Here, can I have one?” she held out her hand for the pouch, just at the edge of where he could reach. He hesitated. She could still kill him, he was sure. Kick him off the edge, at least, and that was without any praying or cursing, or any of the other tricks priestesses often had. He passed her the bag. She rooted around in it greedily, probably touching every single one of the candies before picking the one she wanted.

“It started with sneaking into parties,” the priestess continued. “Once you show up, correctly dressed, at one or two, people start to assume you belong there. “

“They didn’t care you was bald?”

“Mm, I had hair then, long and red. It was really quite something, but looking back, I let it be too much of a vanity.” The priestess ran a hand across a smooth scalp. “Not long after that, people began inviting me to their homes. I knew one man in particular- a noble by the name of va’Turess- who would not leave the confines of his house. It was a mansion, mind you, bigger than the inn, but anything beyond it terrified him. Some years before I met him, he had been able to walk as far as the path that led to his gate. One year before I met him, he could answer the door. By the time I came to visit, he had abandoned the entire front of his house, and dismissed half the servants. He’d bricked over all the windows, and we, his guests, had to carry candles with us wherever we went in the house.”

She paused and looked at Pulk. He knew she meant for him to participate, and he tried to shut his mouth just to spite her. “What was he afraid of?” he said at last, with a sigh. Giving up felt like crawling into a warm bed.

“Animals, he said. The wolves on his estate’s forests, the birds in the air, the hounds he’d once used to hunt, the cats that had been his mother’s before she died and he threw them out. The rats his staff killed whenever they caught them.”

Pulk winced away. He kept his eyes on the priestess, but she only nodded a little and went on like she didn’t see it.

“He could not stand to be cut, either. He would wail at the slightest prick of a finger, or fret over any stubbed to, but worst was anything that drew blood. Were he to drop his knife at dinner and catch it poorly, he would scream until the servants came and showed us out, finished or not.”

“So why go to his house?” Pulk asked, a little offended at the obviousness of the solution.
“The meals were free, and he was still quite important, for all that he was a little mad. I was there once when an old dowager noble lady brought a dog that had been her favorite companion- a small thing that barked high as a child’s whine, and whose fur she had to brush every day. She’d been warned, but she was a very rich person, and she was used to ignoring any rule she thought was meant for someone lesser than herself. Some of us thought it might be funny to see the man frightened. Perhaps that’s cruel, but we had all gotten frustrated. We thought, because facing the dog was simple for us, that it was a simple thing and it would do no harm. We helped her hide it in a shawl when the servants took our coats. We convinced her it was not a bad plan, because he was sure to like the dog in the end.”

The priestess leaned in like a conspirator, and Pulk found himself leaning in as well, before he could stop himself.

“We sat down to a dinner, and it was going well until the dog popped up in the old woman’s lap and yipped at the host. It should have been nothing, but he ran from it, pushed his chair over backwards, screamed, and all the while the little dog was barking as loud as it could, trying to save its mistress. And the man reached to try to quiet it, and it bit him. He threw back his head to scream. And that was when.”

She paused. Pulk hissed and crowded in to be closer. She passed the bag back to him and he took it numbly, setting it aside.

“That was when we saw his teeth.”

Pulk stood against the chimney, stung as surely as if she’d slapped him. She went on, not even looking at him more than out of the corner of her eye.

“Long and lean as a rat’s and growing, and the tail growing on him from behind. He set on the little dog and we were too shocked to stop him.” She paused and shook her head. “It was sad for him as well, when he came more to himself. He loved animals dearly. That was the reason for his fear. They could sense the curse inside him and they tried to defend themselves. As did he.”

Pulk rubbed the silty rainwater from his eyes and his cheeks. He felt hot, and angry, and despairing all at once.

The priestess leaned in and whispered. “He’d left it too long, you see, out of fear of what people would think if they knew. What it would do to his reputation. By the time I knew him, the rat had the run of his blood, and there was nothing in the world any priest could do to rid him of it. It wasn’t what he had wanted, and he had tried to hide, so that he no longer hurt people.”

Pulk stared down at the cobbled streets below the inn. He thought of old Melek, torn to shreds in his sleep, and the older apprentice thief who’d thrown himself under a cart when he couldn’t afford the price the temple wanted to cure him. Pulk swallowed and looked back at the priestess. “How did you know?”

Her smile was gentle in a way that filled him with hate and loneliness. “There are many rats in Mikona,” she answered. She tapped her neck and Pulk flipped his collar up where it had fallen. “I know what the scars of a bite look like.”

“Fix it,” Pulk said quietly. “I know you can.”

She looked back up at the sky. “If the moon is full and you are no shape but what you want to be, then the time when I can remove the effects of the bite are long since past.”

He turned away. He’d known- of course he’d known. But that didn’t make the truth of it sting any less. He heard the sound of the woman standing up on the roof tiles behind him. He did not know the language she prayed in, but it felt like a washing clean, like an absolution. Except after she fell quiet, nothing had truly changed.

“Dear child,” she said. “We do not choose what we are born, and some of us d not choose the bodies we walk in as time goes on. But we have the choice of what we do with it- whether we let our pasts consume us, or fear our future so much that we cannot move in our present. You are what you are now, you have some measure of control. You are stronger than you were. You can go where others do not. I think you know some of this already. In fact, I suspect it’s probably saved your life.”

Pulk hiccupped out a sob. Was what the curse had saved even a life at all? The priestess’s voice softened.

“I have heard, however,” she continued, “that some of the greatest priests in the city can fight a full blown curse, though I’ve never seen it for myself. I’m rather new to the profession. I suspect they want donations, or I’ve heard they will do it when the guard demands.” There was a grin in her words. “Perhaps if you keep stabbing people in alleys, the guard will take enough of an interest to see to you, but not enough that it ends at sword point, mm?”

“Shut up!” Pulk whirled on her, but her face stopped him. She looked like a carved marble saint in the streaks of moonlight.

“Or perhaps you will steal enough to manage the price, without getting caught, hm? How many people will you terrorize to change what you are?”

“All of them!” Pulk’s fists opened in surprise at his own outburst. He hadn’t realized he’d clenched them. “All of them,” he said, his voice shaking. “If that’s what it takes. I don’t care.”

But at the same time, he was thinking of a gang of men, full grown, circling around him, and how the fur and the teeth and the fury banished the fear of them. He thought of being small, utterly human before those knives. He closed his eyes and rubbed a fist hard across them. When he looked back up the priestess was gone.

He picked up the bag of chocolates, heavier now. He reached in for one of the treats to sooth the lump rising in his throat.

Then he brushed it aside and what was beneath gleamed in the moonlight, shining gold.

Pulk had the means, and the decision lay before him. He could bide his time no longer.
ni dieu, ni maître.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Toadyx » Sun Jun 28, 2015 12:09 pm

The Games Children Play - Played

“Oh there he is, there he is,” he said, dabbing at his moist eyes with an embroidered kerchief as he looked down at the child with compassionate eyes. “Oh gentlemen you have my deepest thanks. Wherever did you find him?”

The boy looked up at him with an air of vacuous, mischievous stupidity. He was no more than ten years old and dressed poorly for the most part, except for a silken cravat tied around his neck. The sergeant, who held the boy’s shoulder in one great gauntleted hand, shook his head solemnly.

“He is a very lucky young man,” said the sergeant, “and a very foolish urchin too. If he was my son, I’d beat some sense into him. I surely would. If your servants hadn’t raised the alarm and helped look for him, things would have turned out a lot worse, Mr Erasmus.”

“I was most concerned, most concerned,” said Mr Erasmus, and his hand fluttered the delicately embroidered kerchief in front of his face. “When Mrs Del’Asquith sent word that he had run away again from the orphanage, I was so distressed, so distressed. He is such an innocent, and the streets are so dangerous at night.”

The sergeant nodded, his gleaming steel helmet catching and reflecting a flickering light from the candles in the hallway. “Good citizens would do well to stay indoors and bar their doors this night in particular, Mr Erasmus.”

A second man slipped forward into the candlelight. He was tall, but bent forward and he had long matted dark hair. His eyes were red and moist. He wore a long leather coat and carried a narrow dagger sheathed at his waist. He glanced quickly down at the child with a disdainful sneer, then he turned his face towards Mr Erasmus, but he kept his eyes down and averted.

“There be a foulness out in the dark tonight, Mr Erasmus, sir,” he murmured softly. “The boy was bein’ hunted by such as should not be above ground, sir.”

The guard nodded his agreement. “Your man Jakob, is right Mr Erasmus. When we found the lad, there was a shadow nearby.” He hesitated. “I think-”

Mr Erasmus stepped forward and placed his hands over the boy’s ears and looked at the two men reproachfully. “Now, now gentlemen. That is quite enough of that sort of talk for young ears. Jakob, go around to the kitchen with the others. Cook has something warm ready for you all. Sergeant, I’m sure that there is enough for you and your men.”

Jakob shimmered out of the candlelight and led the small troop of servants and guards around the side of the mansion towards the servant’s entrance. The sergeant, however, stood his ground as the others clattered out of sight. He looked down at the boy and released his shoulder. His expression was grim and serious.

Mr Erasmus looked at him, blinked and the kerchief fluttered nervously. He glanced back over his shoulder. “Maria, my dear,” he said to the maid standing behind him. “Would you be so kind as to look after young Toby here? Take him through to the parlour. I’m sure that Cook has left several pastries there. They should keep him out of mischief at least for the moment.”

“Yes, Mr Erasmus,” replied Maria. She was a buxom, matronly woman with kind eyes.

Mr Erasmus waved the boy across the marble threshold with the fluttering kerchief. Maria took the child by the hand and led him on and out of sight.

“Sergeant?” whispered Mr Erasmus fearfully. His eyes opened wide and he brought the kerchief up to his mouth nervously. “There .. there is more?”

“Well, sir. Well,” said the sergeant. “Your man Jakob wasn’t wrong. I saw it with my own eyes. We found a body on the ground not far from where we caught up with that boy. It was a young lady, such as you might think had fallen on hard times, so to speak. The type of young lady, sir, who gives comfort to sailors down in the docks, if you take my meaning, sir. Well, dead as a doornail, she was, but that wasn’t all. As we came up with the lanterns and we disturbed a creature lurking over the poor girl’s body.”

“Oh dear, oh dear,” flustered Mr Erasmus, and he raised the perfumed kerchief to mop his brow.

“There was blood Mr Erasmus. Lots of blood,” continued the sergeant relentlessly, “and whatever the thing was, it was lapping at the blood, sir. Drinking it up. A foulness, sir. A proper foulness it was, to be sure.”

“Was it, a – a- ,” stumbled Mr Erasmus.

“I can’t rightly say, sir. Not for certain,” answered the sergeant. “We chased it away, but then we found the boy moments later and your man Jakob swore he saw another shadow following after the mite.”

“Oh dear, oh dear,” repeated Mr Erasmus tremulously, “and Jakob is never wrong about these things. Never wrong.”

“Yes,” said the sergeant. “And our captain was so worried that he’s asked for help from those religious fanatics over in the temple.”

“Oh no,” whimpered Mr Erasmus and he closed his eyes briefly. “Not them. Has it got that bad? I’m so sorry sergeant. It’s not that I dislike them or lack respect for their faith, I’m sure, and Forehammer himself is almost fit for proper society. But the rest -most of them - are hardly suitable for sensitive, refined company.”

“That’s as may be, Mr Erasmus,” agreed the sergeant, “but they are as brave as any and braver than most.”

Mr Erasmus shuddered, “I’m sure you are right, sergeant.”

“In any case, sir,” said the sergeant. “My advice to you is to stay in tonight, and make sure all the doors and windows in the house are barred and locked.”

“Of course, of course,” replied Mr Erasmus. “We do so every night, but I will let the domestics know to take special care. And can you please send word to Mrs Del’Asquith, that young Toby is safe and well? I would not wish her to worry. Please let her know that we shall take good care of him tonight and return him early tomorrow.”

“Of course, sir. And a very good evening to you, sir.” The sergeant nodded, turned and stomped down the marble steps. Then he walked around the corner of the mansion towards the kitchen at the rear.

“Such brave men,” said Mr Erasmus. He closed the heavy door, which was made of the finest rock elm, strengthened with iron and finely decorated with gold inlay. “It is all most upsetting. I’m sure I do not how they cope with it all.”

A second maid stood in the long hallway and she bobbed a curtsey nervously as he glanced at her.

“I am quite distraught,” he told her, “and such harrowing tales are so fatiguing. I think I shall retire.”

“Yes, sir, of course, sir,” she replied obsequiously and Mr Erasmus brushed her from his presence with the fluttering kerchief.

“And make sure you do as the good sergeant has said,” he added as she flitted down the hall. “All doors and windows are to be thrice locked and barred. Check them all!”

Mr Erasmus closed the heavy door and carefully drew across three iron bolts. He sighed and turned back into the now empty hallway. The hallway was lit by a small delicate chandelier made of sparkling crystal and Kurathene jade that threw ever-changing patterns onto the mahogany panelled walls.

Mr Erasmus stepped delicately over a rich carpet patterned with a dragon motif to the wide pale marble staircase. He drifted up the stairs, barely touching the balustrade with one finger tip, while the other hand fluttered the kerchief nervously. He climbed up past the first landing with its gallery of portraits, to the second and there he entered through a small door emblazoned with a dragon of red crystal.

The room beyond was lit by a warm glow given off by four glowing stones, set upon pedestals evenly spread around the room. In the centre of the room there was a large mahogany desk strewn with scrolls and paper files. Elsewhere there were cabinets and tables spread with a multitude of half seen objects and artefacts.

The room was dominated by two things. On one side of the room was a large life sized portrait. The portrait showed a woman standing in the moonlight. Her blonde hair framed a delicate pale face with half-closed blue eyes. She wore a long gown, glistening silver. A ruby amulet adorned her neck, held by a golden chain.

Across the room from the portrait there were large glazed doors that led out onto a wide balcony. Each door stood half again the height of a man. They were made of heavy oak frames holding panes of clear, heavy crystal of the finest quality. Each door could be held fast by heavy bars that could be lowered across them. In addition, a steel gate was available outside the doors that could easily be swung into place to protect the valuable clear windows. However, neither was in place and the doors were slightly ajar.

“Oh dear me,” said Mr Erasmus. “I am most forgetful. This will never do.”

He tripped delicately across the room to the half open doors. He reached out and closed the metal grill. Then he closed the doors and barred them firmly. He stepped back and looked at them, nodding to himself in satisfaction.

She came out of a shadow, ten steps to his right. Silently she leapt forward. She had a dagger sheathed at her waist, but she did not draw it. With crooked fingers, she reached for his neck. She opened her mouth to show large ivory fangs. He half turned his head and she was close. Her breath was cool upon his face.

In the final moment, he span and with a sweep of his arm he struck his fist violently across her face. It struck with a sodden thud and she was thrown back into the air. Her body carved out an arc across the room, and it thudded into the wall beside the portrait fully fifteen paces from where the blow had landed. Undaunted, she bounced to her feet and drew her dagger. She stepped forward and made to rush him again.

As she bounded up, Mr Erasmus lifted his kerchief to cover his mouth and made a small gesture with the other hand. The lights from the crystals on the pedestals flickered and something flashed across the room. It struck her and immediately she was held in place immovably.

“How tiresome,” said Mr Erasmus contemptuously, “How rash. How unconsidered. No subtlety at all!” He sighed and walked across the room to where she was held. As he approached, the grip that held her tightened and pushed the air from her lungs.

He looked her up and down. He reached out a finger and moved her head from side to side. Her eyes stared out her fear at him, but he took little notice. He glanced up at the portrait on the wall behind her and then returned to his examination. He traced the features of her face with the little finger of his right hand, and then he placed both hands around her waist, seemingly measuring. His kerchief fluttered over her body from toes to crown. He took the dagger from her hand, holding it between two fingers and flicked it disdainfully onto the desk.

“Yes,” he said, musingly. “Jakob has always had a good eye. The high cheekbones are right. The forehead and the eyes are nearly perfect. The proportions are close enough, give or take half an inch. The hair colour isn’t quite right, but what else is dye for, eh?”

He stepped back and looked her in the face. “Limited intellect and powers obviously,” he sniffed. “Seriously, did you think that this was the only open window in the street accidentally? I don’t suppose you noticed the guards and my men in the other streets paralleling your flight? You only saw your pursuers behind you? Close of course, but not too close? Jakob is a man of many skills. Oh, yes. The boy? Bait, of course. He’s a tasty morsel for someone like you, eh? Innocently playing his little games in the alley.”

He turned and delicately dusted one of the glowing crystals on its pedestal with his kerchief. “Naïve,” he said, “Uncultured and unrefined undoubtedly. Reckless to a high degree. We will have to see what we can do about that.”

He looked her up and down once more. He grimaced in distaste. “Look at what you’re wearing; a black leather suit with a plunging neckline and some crude bone necklace with half a rune. And do you mind if I say that your odour is quite extensive? How are you going to get close to anything worth bleeding when you smell like some slaughter house? It comes from too much hanging around in the city sewers and those mouldy crypts.” He sighed. “Absolutely no style at all!”

“Yet,” he added thoughtfully, “you are not without charm. And Jakob says that he has watched you and that there is some hope for you, after all. Also, time presses and the years tumble by. So, though you are far from perfect, you may have to do.”

He stood in front of her paralysed form and stared directly into her fear-filled eyes. “I do not care what you were. It is of no consequence.” He waved a hand dismissively. “Your name is now Katerina,” he continued. “At first you will be given some simple lessons on what to do and how to behave. Then, we shall administer a simple test and examination. I strongly suggest that you do not fail. It would prove to be embarrassing. And, ever so slightly, fatal.”

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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: silverfields2 » Sun Jun 28, 2015 9:49 pm

8. Avlis Writing of the Fortnight: The Games Children Play
In Ferrell they play, Pretty-Pretty Stones.
In Jechran they play, I’ll Break your Bones
Deglos lads and lassies have Play-Clay.
Malekites start small with the game they flay.

You be the deer, I’ll be the hunter,
Hide-And-Seek, for Pelarites, couldn’t be blunter.
The well-born play dress up with their parent’s baubles.
City kids kick balls on cobbles.

The fey pretend to weave magic with flowers.
Gnome children can spend many hours,
Tinkering with gears and springs.
Avariel children love their swings.

All the games the children play,
Prepare them for their work one day.
Someone told me I was delusional. I nearly fell off my unicorn.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: silverfields2 » Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:25 pm

1. Heroes
Peering through silver sheets of rain,
Standing on the battle field again.
Its the only place I belong.

I'm not here for guts or glory.
I'm not here to tell a story.
I'm not even here to right any wrong.

Through the blossoming of pain,
I share the legacy of Cain,
Beating back the demons in my breast.

They call me hero and shout my name.
They make monuments with eternal flame.
I turn away, seek out another quest.

I want to break the endless chain of death.
I want a space to catch my breath.
Standing on the battlefield again.

These hands are curled around the hilt
Of a sword forged from guilt.
These eyes; peering through silver sheets of rain.
Someone told me I was delusional. I nearly fell off my unicorn.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: silverfields2 » Sun Jul 05, 2015 6:48 pm

2. Avlis Art of the Week: Your favorite person, place or thing.....
Its not about the place, the face, the thing;
Its about the memories they bring;
All the years I've roamed this world of my mind.

It takes up a space within my head.
I can see the Ferrell hills I tread.
I can smell Elysia's flowers.
I can feel the Deglosian towers.

There is not a moment of regret
For the time I've spent here yet,
And if it should be gone tomorrow,
It would fill my heart with sorrow.

So I cherish every step and hour,
Spent in Gertrie's bower,
In flights of fantasy of the imaginary kind.
Someone told me I was delusional. I nearly fell off my unicorn.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Toadyx » Sun Jul 12, 2015 11:06 am

My turn?

Let's call it : Meet 'n Greet

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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Toadyx » Sun Jul 12, 2015 3:39 pm

Meet ‘n Greet

“Erasmus!” The voice bellowed across the square. “I wan’ a worrrd with ye!”

Mr Erasmus turned and raised a single eyebrow. He was dressed in a long dark blue frock coat with a matching top hat. His waistcoat was of a lighter blue, embroidered with silver thread. His shoes were black and highly polished. In his left hand he carried a long black cane with an ornate silver handle shaped to resemble a wyvern with glittering red crystal eyes. In his right hand he gently held the hand of the woman who walked with him.

She was tall and slender. She stood elegantly with a faint smile on her lips. She was dressed from chin to toe in a dress of black silk. It was plain, restrained and had a high neckline, but it was cut in tight to her waist and hips. A narrow brimmed hat was perched on her head. Her face was covered by a dark veil of a gauzy material that did not hide her high cheekbones and wide blue eyes. Her deep red glossy lips contrasted with her alabaster skin. She shaded herself with a light grey parasol.

“Ah, it’s Forehammer,” murmured Mr Erasmus to his companion, “Stay calm, my dear. And if it would not be too much trouble, would you please smile nicely and curtsey at the religious lunatic?”

Her hand trembled and the smile on her face became brittle. She turned her head towards him and her eyes fixed themselves on his face. He gave her a gentle smile.

“Trust me, my dear,” he added quietly, “and all will be well. Here we are, walking in the bright sunshine. How could anyone guess who you were? I am sure I scarcely remember myself. That person was of such little consequence and note.”

The dwarf stomped across the square. He was short and broad with a beard that reached down to his waist. Despite the warmth of the day, he wore a heavy golden breastplate etched with silver. He openly carried a warhammer attached to a leather baldric that he wore over his shoulder. The hammer banged against his thigh with every step, but he did not seem to notice or perhaps care. He glowered at Erasmus.

“I’ve a bone t’pick with you, laddie,” he said as he came closer. He frowned heavily and did not spare even a glance at the elegant woman who stood holding Erasmus’ hand.

“What a pleasure to see you, Commander Forehammer,” smiled Mr Erasmus, “and on such a lovely day too.”

“Never mind that!” exclaimed the dwarf petulantly. “We’ve had terrrrrible trouble with-”

“May I present,” interrupted Mr Erasmus, “my sister, Katerina?”

She curtseyed deeply, and if her smile was a bit rigid the dwarf did not notice. “A pleasure to gain your acquaintance, sir,” she said and her voice was melodic with just a hint of huskiness.

“Oh, er, aye,” answered the dwarf, suddenly taken aback. His stubby fingers intertwined and he blushed. “Oh aye, sorry. I’m forgettin’ ma manners. It’s a pleasure ta meet you too, ma’am.”

“She is just recently arrived in the city,” said Mr Erasmus smoothly. “I thought it would do her good. A new place, don’t cha know? Put the past behind her, so to speak. We all suffer tragedies, but we must move on, don’t you agree Forehammer, old chap?”

“Oh, aye,” the dwarf answered, a little bewildered. “Tragedies…?”

“Oh yes,” nodded Mr Erasmus. “Oh you don’t know. Of course, why should you? My sister lost her husband just three months back. She is still in mourning.” Katerina bowed her head and turned a little away.

“Poor dear Boris,” continued Mr Erasmus, “Cruelly taken from us. His horse threw him. Terrible business.” He brushed away a single tear from his cheek. “He was such a tower of strength.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” said Forehammer genuinely. “Ye have my deepest condolences ma’am.”

“I am hoping to persuade my sister to put away her widow’s weeds,” said Mr Erasmus. “We must all find the strength to carry on. Three months is, perhaps, sufficient grief. Enough to be seemly, but any more might be considered to be excessively morbid. What do you think, old boy?”

“Aye well,” the dwarf shook his head slowly, “different people cope in their own ways. I dinna think we can set a limit on the heart, but ‘tis also true that we canna dwell too much on our old hurts.” He turned a sympathetic gaze on her. She turned away a trifle more and lifted a hand to her face. “I’m sure y’r guid man would not have wished you to spend all y’r days in grief, ma’am. Y’r brother is right to want you t’live your life. Gorethar bless ye ma’am. I’ll remember ye in m’prayers.”

Katerina still stood with her head bowed and her face half averted. “Thank you sir for your kind words,” she said in a quiet voice that held a hint of a tremor.

“And now business,” said Mr Erasmus brusquely.

“Aye, aye,” answered the dwarf in a much moderated tone, “it’s that last shipment of mithril ore ye sold us. The yields are terrrrrrible.”

“Ah yes, my dear chap,” said Mr Erasmus, “but as you recall I did say that it was from a new source and that I could not guarantee its quality.”

“Aye, aye, y’did, but-”

“And so I have not yet submitted my account,” Mr Erasmus interrupted smoothly once more.

“Y’have nae?” The dwarf’s eyes widened. “We have nae paid ye yet?”

“Not a brass fathing,” answered Mr Erasmus coolly. “You see old boy, I thought we should wait until your smiths had checked the quality. Then we could come to an agreed price. Of course I trusted your honesty to tell me exactly what the yields were. I mean, if you can’t trust a paladin of Gorethar, who can you trust?”

“Aye, aye,” said the deflated dwarf. “Tha’s very kind of you to say so.”

“So, if you would send a note to my clerk, Mercias, when you have worked out the final amounts,” continued Mr Erasmus, “then I am sure we can come to an equitable agreement.”

The dwarf bowed deeply and, not to be outdone, Mr Erasmus reciprocated sweeping his cane across his chest. Smiling broadly, Mr Erasmus and Katerina sauntered away across the square.

“Ah, how delightful,” he commented softly. “Outwitting a paladin is hardly difficult, but outmatching one in perceived honesty and courtesy is to be savoured.”

As they walked across the square in the bright sunshine, Mr Erasmus would lift his cane and wave a greeting to those he knew. Many smiled in return and a few stopped to pass the time of day. To each one he introduced his “sister”, the bereaved Katerina.

“Well done, my dear,” he murmured finally as they reached the other side of the square. “This is a fine opening performance. Given time, I think that you may learn to love Katerina as I did.”

Katerina looked at him and a genuine smile came to her face for the first time.

“Who are you?” she asked, “Really?”

“That is the wrong question,” he answered, and his eyes half closed. “Now? I am as you see me.”

“Who were you?” she persisted.

He smiled. “Ahhh, that answer will have to wait for another day. Meanwhile, look who comes.” He nodded towards a young officer of the city guard who was striding across the square towards them.

“His name is Tristam Besquith,” Mr Erasmus said dramatically. “On the one side, so to speak, he is nephew to our own Lady Finmaegen, Commandant of the Guard. Thus he is Captain of the Guard.” He grinned. “Nepotism is alive and well in that most august body I am pleased to say. On the other side of the family, he is second cousin to Lord Faversham. The nobility do like to keep things tidy, don’t they?

“He is also related by marriage to the Martins, of Martinsham Hall. His marriage is not a happy one, understandably perhaps, because he considers himself to be somewhat of a rake. He is also a terrible gambler and unfortunately, for him at least, I tend to be quite a good one.”

Mr Erasmus smiled gently. “Think of him as a doorkeeper, and we are people who want to open a lot of doors.”

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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: silverfields2 » Sun Jul 19, 2015 2:13 am

8: Avlis Art of the Week: Alternate Avlis

In another time-stream, O’Ma decided to create the Orcs. Their their strength impressed him. The Orcs of this time-stream are very attuned to the natural world. They are known to take care of vast areas of forest. The weapon of choice for the Champion is solely the body - feet and fist. They entered the Great War in this time-stream on the side of Toran’s Elves against all Fey for the sake of the forest. The Orcish mages still managed to blow up the wastelands and Orcish society still frowned upon mages in their ranks afterward, but there was no full scale outlawing or persecution of said mages.

In another time-stream, Forain decided to create The Fey. He made them any which way he desired and truly infuriated Titania. Yes, in this time-stream, the Fairy War still happened. It was even more chaotic, incredibly random and not very well organized. Eventually, the Orcs and Elves took up arms against all Fey in general. The Shaahesk were compelled to enter the war on the behalf of the Fey and it wasn’t until the Dwarves entered the conflict on the behalf of the Orcs and Elves that the Fey and the Shaahesk were finally subdued. The Confounder is very much a magic user.

In another time-stream, Toran decided to create the Elves. He thought their long lives would allow them to bring more order into the world. The Elven nation has strict laws and a very hierarchal society with a cast system which is very difficult to bend.. Toran’s Elves entered the Great War along with O’Ma’s Orcs as the Fairy War was too chaotic and to this day, the Elves and the Fey are not likely to maintain good relations. The Justicar tends to use bow or blade in accordance to how they are assigned roles in their organization

In another time-stream, Maleki created Humans. He believed they most embodied his ideas of free-will. Humans in this time stream are looked on with a great deal of mistrust by most of the goodly races. They do not live in organized empires, kingdoms or even settlements but tend to live in small raiding communities throughout Avlis. The Blackguard uses what ever weapon suits the individual best.

In another time-stream, Mikon chose the Lizard-kin. He believed they would prove to be a balanced race moving between the extreme of discipline and freedom. The kolbold race truly seems to embody this philosophy in this time-stream. When living in large groups there are some loose guidelines for behaving well with others but just as often they will be thieves and snake-oil salesmen. The Shaahesk tend to take up arms on what ever side of a conflict that seems to need them. The Shaahesk entered the Great War on the behalf of the Fey races, prolonging the conflict and drawing it out even after the Orcs nearly blew up the world. It wasn’t until the Dwarves through in their lot with the Orcs and the Elves that the fey and the Shahesk were crushed. The Fey and the Shaahesk often share a strange co-existance. The Equalizer,for some reason that is not entirely clear, prefer the halberd as a weapon.

In another time-stream, Valok created Dwarves. He thought they would be the kind of cunning and crafty creatures that would suit his philosophy well. Dwarves and Elves are the most likely to have empires, kingdoms and great cities in this time stream and often find their societies fairly compatible. The Dominator was not created to enforce the non-practice of magic by the Orcish race but rather to persecute the magic using Fey.

In another time-stream, Dru’El chose to create the Dracon. These four legged denizens of Dru’El love nature and are generally considered to be gentle folk who often provide respite to the persecuted; are often very welcoming to outsiders; and generally try to get along with everyone. They still have the Avenger however, to remind people that they are not to be pushed around if things get serious. They spent most of the Fey war and Great War simply attempting to defend their territory, which usually meant, putting pressure on the Fey.

In another time-stream, Gorethar chose Giant-kin. He decided their massive size would serve him well in enforcing his ideals that the pull toward law and good is the most dominant one. The Giant-kin have a mountain kingdom that is all but closed to the outside world. In the end, they did not want their society infiltrated by the ideas of the other races. This was partly due to the Great War. Individuals sometimes travel outside the kingdom for purposes of trade and spreading the word of Gorethar. The Paladin is known as the guardian of this mountain stronghold.

In another time-stream, Aarilax choose to create Changelings. He was certain that this was the creature that knew how to get what they wanted. He trusted them to embody his philosophy of desire and the knowledge of yourself as paramount. It is also very easy to be an assassin when you can change yourself to suit your environment on demand. The Annihilator ’s weapons are small and quick and close up to reflect this.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: dashdot » Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:46 pm

Meet and Greet!

In the city of Galdos, the temple of Gorethar loomed tall over the other buildings, easily the highest building standing in the ancient city. A young Avariel made her way towards it, accompanied by a stocky dwarf leading a pack Rothe which was heavily loaded with supplies. The two weary travelers were both clad in furs and leather, which bore the dust and dirt of their long journey towards this holy place.

“Lass, here yer arr, tha temple ‘ve tha Battlelord.” the Dwarf announced grandly, gesturing up to the stairs leading to the main doors of the temple. “The fellas which ye can find inside can guide yer the rest ‘ve yer way, if ya still mean ta go through wit it.”

She nodded in reply, she did mean to indeed. Yet, she paused for a moment and gazed up in wonder at the ancient columns that lined the staircase. She voiced a question that had been troubling her for the last few weeks on the road. She had no idea if the clergy here were anything like the one that tended the shrine near where she was raised.

"When I go in, what do I call them? I mean, should I address them in a certain way?"

“Hah! Well, I don’t rightly know, ‘cept, ye show ‘em respect ‘en tell ‘em why yer made yer journey ‘ere. Pretty sure they’ll tell yer wot they expect ta be called, amongst tellin’ yer what they expect from yer.” He pointed to her with a grubby finger, before itching at his expansive beard.

The girl nodded meekly to his words, her brow furrowed in thought, the silence broken by the Dwarf’s clearing of his throat. “Lass, yer pa made it clear at tha start ye were ta pay tha other ‘alf on completion ‘ve yer journey’ ‘n here ye are. So, yer owe me some coin, eh?”

“Oh! I’m sorry.” A blush quickly crept into her cheeks and she looked through her packs, to the coin pouch neatly secured beneath the rations and other sundry items that had seen her through the trek from the snow covered peaks to the heart of the Dwarven nation. Moving these aside, she presented the Dwarf his payment with a meek nod.

“Here you are, and you have my thanks again for your company along the way. I hope that your family isn't too upset with you for being away for so long."

To her surprise, the Dwarf laughed raucously as he placed away the gold coins, the elf grimacing at his reaction. After a moment the Dwarf calmed himself, and he wiped a tear from his good eye.

"Lass, ye got a good hart, but if ye knew me wife ye'd realise 'at she looks ferward ter me time away as much as I do. Maybe more, eh?" He gave another chuckle and shook his head, waving her towards the staircase and the grand columns that lined it.

"Go on lass, an Clangeddin watch over ye on yer way forth, yer'll be set from hereon out." He turned to his pack animal and busied himself by organising the carefully distributed packs, the Rothe letting out a mournful sound as he did so.

The Avariel turned from him solemnly, gazing up the marble hewn steps. The grand columns loomed up, as tall - or taller as the largest tree from her village. Motes of light - magical, she assumed - bobbed near the tops of each, illuminating the combat scenes engraved on them in a warm light. Figures fighting trolls, or giants, or undead. She inwardly shivered at the last one, refolding her wings and she began to ascend the staircase.

Approaching the top, her heart hammering in her chest, her attention was drawn to several heavily armoured dwarves stood rigidly, these men and women strikingly different from the grizzled, chubby merchant who had led her safely here. Each of the Paladins guarding the entryway to the temple wore the full plate, shield and hammer she'd heard and read so much about. Seeing it in person only made her more anxious as to her own quest. She hurried onwards, almost stumbling as she reached the last step, anticipating another in her distracted state, but she pressed on and entered the temple.

The solid stone doors opened into an expansive hallway, lined with tapestries and braziers. The smell of incense reached her, and the familiar smell set her at ease, the exhaustion from the road seeming to lessen slightly.

Dwarves could be seen towards the end of the hall, where it opened up into a larger room with the high altar at the far end. Groups were knelt in prayer before the altar, or had gathered to talk in reverential tones, and the one obvious thing that she saw was how very few non-Dwergen races there were in the temple. Her brow furrowed as she looked about for someone to speak to, to tell them why she was here, find out what it was she had to do. There were so many questions and things to learn about here.

She took a few moments to take in her surroundings, to actually appreciate that after all these weeks’ worth of travelling she’d made it. Staring up and about her at the grand hall she set down her packs by her feet and gawked unknowingly at the walls and the architecture that had been here for many hundreds of years.

A kindly voice belonging to a female Gnome in holy robes of Gorethar broke her reverie. “Hail lass, can I help ye with anything?” The Gnome smiled cheerily at the dusty Avariel, taking in the bags at her feet and the overwhelmed look the elf wore.

The Avariel nodded eagerly, “Greetings, my name is Yanyu, I’m here to meet…” she trailed off, unsure how to say it, and grimaced, glancing down uneasily to her bags. It had all been so much easier in her mind when she was imagining how this would go. The Gnomish woman remained smiling cheerily at her, and Yanyu cleared her throat.

“I’m here to pledge myself to the temple, to train in the ways of the Paladin, if Gorethar deems me worthy… worthy to do that, I mean.” she managed, feeling as if a great weight had been lifted at her confession, and watching the smiling Gnome smile even wider, if that were at all possible.

“Well lass! That’s a wonder to hear! En you’re in the right place!” she winked and motioned Yanyu to follow behind, smiling cheerily the whole time. “I’ll get ye introduced to the High Paladin, he can see to ye accommodations ‘n ye start ov ye training lass!” The Gnome almost squealed in delight, turning and leading the young elf onwards, to begin her apprenticeship.
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Re: Writing of the Fortnight

PostAuthor: Brayon » Tue Jul 21, 2015 8:44 pm

A Two-fer:

The Tavern/Meet & Greet

AJ sits alone outside the Leaping Stag Inn. The normally bustling town of Zvidureth is quiet today, meaning that there has not been any Demon, Undead, Kin, or other attack in the last several hours. He sips on his drink, & waits for his appointment to arrive. AJ’s not wearing his typical multicolor garb, nor is he in his Human form either. Dressed in muted colors of Brown & Green, that accent his elven features, he looks like any other elf in the village to an outsider’s eyes. With a practiced tongue he speak in Nanshi with those passing by, giving them a “Pelail!”

His wait doesn’t last long, as a hooded figure makes his way down the road. His old gnarled staff, making divots in the hard packed dirt, as he walks, cloak flowing, & wearing the Robes of a Mage, non-aligned with the Trust. The hooded man sits down next to AJ, & accepts the offered cup of wine. “It’s good to see you again, old friend.”

“Likewise. It’s been way too long, & much work needs to be done. How are things in Kuras,” AJ asks the traveler in low tones, & in the language of the Old Empire.

“It goes well. Your father sends his greetings & your mother her love. Both wish you well. However, your sister wishes that you stop writing her. She says that her position in the Church of Valok is starting to come into question, because a Confounder keeps sending her letters via Mikona,” the traveler responds to him. He takes a drink of the wine, with a lip smack, “Good wine. Who makes it?”

“That’s from Lome’s private stock. Not sure where he gets it, but it’s a Satyr vintage.”

“I’ll talk to him, about getting some shipped to Visimontium. I could always use some good wine for gatherings.”

“Not sure why you’re not wearing your Order Robes. It’s not like people will tell who you are.”

The Mage chuckles with that, & looks AJ over, “You were saying Elf?”

“So, how can this Confounder help the Archmagus of the Red Order of the Flame? Well, this time I mean.”

“The Archmagus wishes you to continue into your investigation. The less people suspect that the Red’s are involved, the better. However, he seems to think that some of the better known Fatespinners you are familiar with might find you out. He’s not sure, the Spider’s influence will keep them from seeing what you are doing,” the Mage drains his cup of wine, & refills it from the bottle on the table.

AJ sits listening to him, nodding a bit. “I will be careful. They don’t expect anything. I’ve already scryed the possibilities of them figuring it out, & the outcome is virtually unseen. However, we are talking about Ariana, & Sapphire. If Time gets wind of this, it will be for naught anyways. Just remind your Archmagus that the Deal still stands, & that Marcus will be protected at all costs. Otherwise, a couple Death Slaadi in my Legion might just have to visit Red Tower.” He lets the threat linger in the air briefly, before continuing. “I have not failed in my investigation, nor has anyone found out what your Order is doing with the Children of Forian. Astoria, & Jax will be meeting latter this evening with me, so we can plan the next phase of the investigation.”

“Good. Then, I will take my leave then. Got to return to Visimontium, before getting back to Kuras. Forian bless you Confounder.” With that the Mage stands, & heads down the road. Once safely out of town, he casts a spell to Teleport him to the Red Tower in Visimontium. AJ watches him walk off, & sits for a while longer. Having finished off the bottle of wine, he stands to leave as well.

He takes one last look at the town, as he walks North, muttering to himself, “Why must it all burn?” He walks till he sees Brunar, & nods to the Dwarf & his pack bears. Then quietly steps off the road, utters a spell to Planeshift, & leaves the Prime to arrive on Limbo.

To be continued.

Disclaimer: All Fictional, Other PCs are used as reference only.

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