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All was silent, a cool breeze flowing over the placid surroundings. A town, silhouetted against the darkness. The stench of ash filled the nostrils of the armoured captain, joining the streams of tears that ran in rivets down his face, as the blood had done along the cobbled roads. Distorted bodies lay strewn across the battlefield, brothers, sons, friends. The captain stopped, dropping to his knees and howling in pain. The house of his ancestors laid a mere pile of blazing rubble, along with the mutilated bodies of his family who had fought so bravely. The city that he had fought so bravely for, everything that he had ever loved- gone. A gruff yet familiar voice reverberated among the desolate scene. “There was nothing we could do”.Gnoblargobbler (Empire)
Story Round 3
He turned, wild with rage, distraught with loss. “There was nothing you could do!?” he howled. “My family, my people lay dead- you didn’t even fight!” He screamed his voice hoarse for shouting and sobbing. He drew his sword, an heirloom of his age old family, shattered in one night by the followers of Khorne. The thane knew stepped aside, grabbing the man’s arms with his own, and pulling his shining sword from them, his emotionless, battlehewn face hiding the endless shame that haunted him soul. “Coward” the man spat, and as the tears and blood that the captain had spilt hit the blood-stained streets, he knew his alliance and deep rooted friendship was over.
5 years later
The radiant sun reflected from the shining armour of the Sigmarite warriors, each clutching an ornate greatsword and clad in age old full plate armour. Each warrior stood grimfaced, ready to defend their master. To the death. Pietr stood, surveying his forces below. He had once had an army like that. No. It pained him to think of the life he had once lead, now fighting for the armies of his allies, surrounded by the last remaining warriors from his previous life. They had taken it all. He would take it back.
A cool breeze drifted cross the plain, gently causing the long grass to flow. This peace often precedented a great slaughter. “Sir!” Captain Wilhelm called. “The Northmen have arrived”. The humbled count raised his sword in a salute, issuing the charge. A grim smile crossed his scarred face as two units of swordsmen moved into position, surrounded by two more of Nordland’s finest halberdiers. Three units of Stirland handgunners prepared to open fire on the accursed chaos.
The mass of hardened Northern marauders crashed forwards, countless falling to the steel bullets that thudded amongst the units. What were these savages hoping to achieve? These marauders could not possibly win against the combined forces of two Imperial regions. Where were the knights of Khorne, those who had despoiled his fine town? The blood drained from his face. He knew exactly where they were. “Men, around me!” he cried.
How could he have been so stupid? The same foul plan that had cost the lives of so many of his men had been repeated, and it would now cost him his. His men formed a circle around him, preparing to face the knights, sound of their hooves surrounding them, enclosing the pitiless fools. A cackle resounded across the plain as the chosen of Khorne rode towards the stranded unit of greatswords.
The knights struck- the embodiments of Khorne himself. Within seconds the screaming of the fallen resonated deep into the souls of the Sigmarites. Piotr stood motionless, ornate sword limp at his side, ancient shield a dead weight in his hand. His head clouded with the images of his fallen family he knew he had no hope. The warriors around him struck desperately around him, but he could see that his despair affected them all. Betrayed by the one they had believed in they fought on.
A chaos knight thrust a sword at the champion, bouncing off his armour, but bruising the skin below. In a moment, he was on his feet, the strength of a beast, he plunged forward hacking and felling two of their numbers, the rage of those he had once loved channelled through his magical blade. Blindly, he screamed, hacking at the accursed scum. A well aimed blade knocked him back; he fell to the ground, tasting blood and bitter resentment. He narrowly moved aside, a glowing blade piercing the ground where his throat had been as an exalted, upon a snorting steed of chaos moved in for the kill.
Glowering down at the pink- bellied scum, the exalted lowered his blade, pointed his daemonic sword at the jugular of his enemy. “Your family squealed like cowards, when I killed them all. They didn’t even put up a fight.” He whispered laughing as the Captain closed his eyes, preparing for the final blow.
A rune encrusted blade came down in a vicious arc, lopping the head from the champion, fowl blood spurting forth. A ginger haired slayer stepping from behind the chosen of Khorne. “I came for you” a gruff voice sounded, pulling the manling to his feet. “It betrayed you manling” he said, pulling them man to his feet. “I was a fool,” he screamed, sobbing. A lance pierced the skull of the slayer before he could finish, his limp body falling onto his reunited friend, his brother in arms. The remaining greatswords rushed forwards, hacking the remaining Khorne knight limb from limb. An eyrie silence descended across the field, save for the sobbing of the man who had lost everything.
The bearded one (Dwarves)
Another orc fell before Grundri’s hammer as he brought it around in a swooping arc. The remainder of the Greenskin war band scattered from the walls and fields around the keep while the survivors of the Ostermark garrison fired parting shots into the retreating orcs. Cheers of triumph and relief sounded from the bloodstained walls. A Greenskin war band had come from the mountains and laid waste to a number of villages before coming across the keep that watched over this eastern region of Ostermark. Messengers had been sent for help but the ostermark state troops had been too far removed. In the end it was the dwarfs from a smaller hold north of Zhufbar that had responded and a force rushed down the mountains to relieve the garrison.
Grundri looked around at the devastation. Many orcs lay dead on the walls but a large number men and dwarfs as well. But it was not yet time to mourn the dead, it was time to celebrate victory. Grundri lifted his hammer over his shoulder and wiped the blood spatters off his face. He approached Oswald, one of the greatswords.
“A good day’s fighting be over, lad. You and yer men fought well, and befits you when fighting with steel created by my people.” Grundri remarked.
The greatsword leaned on his bloodied sword and wiped the sweat from his brow. “My sincere thanks, master dwarf. Their monstrous warlord appeared nigh unstoppable before you came.” The orc warboss had reaped a grim tally of the greatswords when the gate was breached and he had seemed impervious to their attacks. A blow from Grundri’s rune hammer had ended its miserable life and with its death the orc morale broke.
“We most likely wouldn’t have survived the day if you and your kin had not intervened, “ Oswald continued “You’ve always been friends and mentors of our people. I do not know how we can ever repay you.”
“Don’t beat yourself up over it, manling. My race is honor bound by ancient oath to aid yours. The friendship and loyalty of the dwarfs is like the love of a beautiful woman. It is hard to gain, but its rewards are worth all yer troubles and it should be treasured. Yet unlike a woman’s love our friendship is not fickle. It endures until either one of our races is extinguished. Remember that.” Grundri slung his hammer off his shoulder and tapped Oswald’s greatsword with it. “And who’d we be if we were to let dwarven craft fall into filthy greenskin hands, eh?”
Oswald was amazed at this generosity and how lightly the dwarf took aiding them in the battle. “Nevertheless you have my gratitude and that of the elector count.”
Grundri prepared to return to his kinfolk when the greatsword asked: “Master dwarf, would you honor me with a blood oath? It’s a ancient rite from the time of the tribes at the empire’s founding. A simple cut across the palm of one’s hand to allow the blood of both to join.” Oswald was aware of the importance of oaths and honor to the elder race.
Grundri turned around. “An blood oath you say? For dwarfs and oath does not require blood, merely the spoken word. But aye, I’ll do that.”
Oswald made a small cut on the palm of his own hand, small in comparison to Grundri’s rough dwarven palm. He made a small cut too and they joined hands as though in a handshake, allowing the blood to mingle in the same manner as the fates of both races were entwined.
Grundri left the keep with his kin while sunlight broke through the dark clouds. He could now see the promise of this race that High king Kurgan Ironbeard had seen in them two and a half thousand years before. The dwarfs respected the realm of Sigmar’s heirs knowing it to have been inspired by them and built around their gifts. And they would continue to guide it as long as they had to.
Voting ends in 98 hours
Last edited by Tashin; May 4th, 2010 at 17:43.
Hmm...another tough one. I can see that Gnoblargobbler tried to achieve something a bit more complex and deep with his story, but I felt he copped out on a few points. First of all, there's no title to his story. The title literally is 'Story Round 3'. Secondly, unless I'm mistaken, it doesn't seem to involve his opponent's army in any way. Finally, I don't really see the love. I understand that he loves his family, but without a description of the family the reader can't really empathize with him. The character's a crying man, but we don't fully understand why he's crying. It's an interesting and well written story, but it just seems lacking in several areas.
The bearded one gave a much simpler and more straightforward story, but it effectively captures the love between two comrades in arms, and shows a good bit of their character as well. It's also fairly well written, although lacking in action. Even a little bit of the battle would've been nice to read.
I gotta give this one to the bearded one. If nothing else, he stayed a bit more true to the requirements of the competition.
The bearded one: 4.5/5
"Any job worth doing, is worth doing with a powerklaw."
The spacing was messed up again, and I didn't have time to sort it out before sending it. here's the correct spacing Tashin
Gnoblargobbler's story was quite enjoyable and it was apparent to me you tried to accomplish something deeper in your story, including a history with this dwarf thane/slayer. This history those two had remained a bit unclear though.
There you go
Gnoblargobbler: A very well done effort. The return of the dwarf at the end, atoning for his earlier failing, is a nice touch. The battle seems a little chaotic though (and I don't mean just because of who they're fighting, sorry about the unintentional pun...) and the end seems a bit rushed. Having just read that you only had forty minutes in which to write it, though, I now see my impression was quite accurate!
The bearded one: I quite like this entry. One of those pieces with less action, leaving you free to explore your themes and ideas in a little more depth. It does seem quite short (and is, my word count assures me) but in truth I think you said everything you needed to; making it longer wouldn't have helped. Sometimes it's better that you know when to stop!
The bearded one: 4/5
Hmmm, this is really hard. So many seem to have taken different routes around the "love" aspect, going with comradery or other bonds aside from what we would typically consider love. I'm not sure that this may have been the way to go, but I understand that some of us had no choice, given the armies we were meant to deal with.
Love is hard to actually capture, and I think it unfair to ask for much action or description in the stories. Yes, it could be done, but nobody cares what the girl looks like, we can fill in the blanks (Stephanie Meyer -I disgust myself- knows this all too well). The same is true of action. These things only form filler to a larger achievement. With 1000 words, it is more importnat to know how they love, or why they fight, than to know who they love or how they fight. It's why you can pick apart penny dreadfuls like the 'Halo' series and most Black Library books (yes, I went there) and discover that there's not much meat to the story.
Alright, well, with my mini rant over, I guess it's time to get down to the voting:
GnoblarGobbler- your story was rushed and, sadly, it shows. I've been in the same shoes and got lucky this time. However, you should always read back through your work atleast once. Some of your word usage was a bit off, for instance "precedented" instead of "preceeded". I do like your story though- it reminds me of one that I did for the fluffshop, The Fall of Mortien Everblight. The story of a soldier who loses everything he held dear, and is left a shattered remnant.
Downfalls to your story, aside from the grammatical errors, is that the end seems forced. Suddenly, depsite being surrounded by allies and furthermore by a ring of red-armored death, the Dwarf springs up seemingly from nowhere. At first I thought that he was a ghost, sort of like a Valkyrie to lead the Imperial to the afterlife. His gory end is sort of grim as well- the Imperial is already being assaulted by memories of his past, and suddenly his forgotten friend shows up, apologizes, and has his head split open like a grapfruit. The poor Imperial would probably have been completely unhinged! You didn't really show much emotional scarring throughout the story- sure, you covered the immediate post-battle feelings, but you don't convey a sense of someone who is truly alone.
The Bearded One-
your story is solid, and pretty watertight. A little less on the 'romantic' love, although I do like the comparison between Dwarven friendship and the friendship of a woman. It certainly sheds light on the tight bond shared between the Empire and the Dwarves. It also features more interaction between the two concerned races, and has a very clean method of mixing the two and providing an original interpretation of the criteria.
If I had to criticize anything, it feels short. I'm quite sure that you had some room to spare with the word limit. 1000 is small enough, it should be nothing to fill it up with a little extra dialogue or some nice imagery, embellishment, or elaboration. I remember Palos's entry last round as a good example- he took a very short and simple story, much like your own, but added a great deal of extra shiny bits to it. It works, and it makes your story seem even stronger, because suddenly it looks like you've managed to cram a great deal into a small space.
Gnoblargobbler: I think you already know that you slipped a little on this one, but it was a nice effort all the same, and a bit familiar- 4/5
The Bearded One: a quick and concise story, which can make all the difference in this competition, as well as a fresh look at the subject- 4.5/5
Gnoblargobbler (3.5/5): The story did seem a little rushed and fragmented, but I did think the dwarf coming back was a nice ending. Also, I would like to add to the Captain's defense of your style and also say that Tolkien also uses a similar technique in his descriptions, offering a lot of little details but leaving large gaps to be filled in by the reader. Certainly very good for a forty minute story. I would like to see it polished and finished at a later date, but that's just me.
The bearded one (5/5): My friend says that you're pretty big on the Dwarf forums, so I was really looking forward to your Dwarf story. I am happy to say that I am not disappointed. My only complaint is one that I'm not going to mark you down for, and that is that you simply love Dwarves to the same point my friend does and whenever my friend talks about how great dwarves are it drives me nuts. Don't get me wrong, I love Dwarves, but I also don't think they are the best, noblest, and greatest of all the races. Still, a well written story with a nice focus on the quiet loyalty and camaraderie of after a battle.
The bearded one takes this home with a total of 18 votes against Gnoblargobbler's 14.
edit: but as Gnoblargobbler is the one who scored the secondmost votes of all those who lost this round, he'll get compensated due to the special circumstances of this round.
Last edited by Tashin; May 8th, 2010 at 11:14.