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Pour l’Amour – For Love
Steel rang from steel as the two men dueled in the woodland clearing. Markus ducked below another vicious mace-swing and circled left. His saber rose and fell twice to no avail, before the mace returned and crushed him brutally against a tree and left his mind reeling. Dazedly, Markus recalled the circumstances which had brought him to this pristine glade...
A young pistolier from Carroburg, Markus was part of a small imperial army sent to aid the Bretonians against a herd of rampaging beastmen. He had, as all romantic youths are wont to do, fallen in love with not only the rolling Breton countryside, but also a young jewel of nobility. Without a family, his Lady resided alone in a small manor tended by only a few servants. Markus made many a moonlit tryst to the lady, being encamped nearby, and despite the barriers of language, he was finding himself more and more lovestruck.
His courtship would have been unerring if not for another hopeful suitor- a haughty and arrogant Bretonian Knight, Caluin LeMalfleur. Swaggering and self-assured by his title, the jilted LeMalfleur had challenged Markus ‘en outrance’ to a duel for the lady’s hand.
...Markus shook his head clear, before LeMalfluer could split it asunder with another blow.
“You are weak, mon impériale” the knight called hollowly from his visored helm.
“And you, conceited” Markus punctuated his words with a sword thrust.
“I am not the conceited one. What right have you to pursue mademoiselle? These are not your lands- your advances are not welcome.” LeMalfluer parried.
“No, only our armies- since you cannot defend yourselves!” the knight faltered briefly, and Markus landed a telling blow against the man’s ribs, though the knight’s plate armor saved him from harm.
“I can defend my realm, and mademoiselle’s honneur, against Beastmen and worse- your ilk is nothing to me.” LeMalfleur redoubled his efforts, driving Markus back across the glade.
“What do you understand of love? What of our culture or our language?” the knight swung, “How could mademoiselle love un étranger?”
“Because I may be a stranger to your land, but not to love. You, Breton, are the stranger. You seek to steal the lady’s hand from me, rather than win it from her.” Markus spat contemptuously.
“You see? You do not understand, mon impériale- mademoiselle is noblesse, and I am noblesse. You are only an imbécile peasant. She could only belong with me.”
“She belongs to no man! Her heart is hers to decide- my customs, your customs, lay them all aside for a moment and you could see that.” Markus attacked ruthlessly, frenzied slashes tearing the knight’s bright tabard apart, and ringing from his gleaming armor, “Mademoiselle- the Lady- I may not understand her language, but I can still hear her heart. She deserves better than either of us, and yet she has denied only you.”
In his fury, Markus overstepped his bounds, and toppled towards the knight. LeMalfleur roared in triumph, his heavy mace slashing down and landing solidly across the back of Markus’s shoulders. The pistolier sprawled onto the ground amidst the crunching of bone and an agonized cry. A silken kerchief tumbled from his coat pocket.
“I see that mademoiselle has given you her faveur. I shall take this grâce.” LeMalfeur stooped and crumpled the favor into his unfeeling gauntlet. Markus watched his only remaining comfort slip away through bloody and spiteful eyes. With effort, he struggled to his knees, his arm hanging limply at his side, blood dripping from beneath the cuff of his sleeve.
LeMalfleur’s helmet creaked as he looked down slowly at the pitiful imériale.
“Say’eel vou plays” Markus fumbled, “without her, there is no sunlight anymore.”
LeMalfleur paused, and then turned away, rattling towards his horse.
The pistol shot rang out, echoing in the secluded grove for an eternity.
With painful slowness, LeMalfleur turned to see Markus drop his firearm, and reach unsteadily for another. There was a sudden rustling in the brush behind the knight. LeMalfleur whirled in time to see a beastman punched from his feet by the second pistol shot. Two more of the creatures charged from the woods with a roar.
“Une embuscade!” the knight yelled, “An ambush- scouts! We have been found!”
LeMalfleur slew the first ungors, as more poured from the trees. He raced back to Markus and hauled the pistolier to his feet, imploring
“Run! Run bouffon! Run Impériale! You truly are a noblesse, truly a knight. I am still fit, I can hold them off but not for long- you must find l’mademoiselle and save her, and yourself. I see she is right to have chosen your love. Now hurry! En vitesse!”
Markus had climbed awkwardly into his saddle, promising to send help as the proud Bretonian turned to face the onrushing tide.
“Find l’mademoiselle! Bonne chance, mon imbécile Impériale!” LeMalfleur called back. Markus spurred his steed into the underbrush.
“Pour l’enfer!” the Knight roared at the beastmen before all was drowned out by the clash of arms.
Markus burst into the manor, still blood-soaked and dripping perspiration.
“Mon aimé! My love!” the lady cried, shocked to see him so tattered. She rushed to hold him, but he brushed her off.
“We have to go!” he told her. She looked at him questioningly, “Mademoiselle- mon amy- we must leave. On vitessa! Le bête- the beast comes!”
Her eyes grew wide, and Markus knew that she understood. He pulled her by the hand outside to his horse. She cast about wildly, then struggled for Imperial words, “M- my frère. My brother” she cried, pointing towards the wood with tearful eyes.
Markus looked up at her, astride his horse. Suddenly he understood LeMalfleur’s challenge to duel, and why he had spared him. He pressed his own face against her thigh for a moment, to hide his own unbidden tears, then leapt into the saddle just behind her, and spurred the horse towards the safety of the Imperial camp.
8people (Beastmen)The Shame of Grack Berchte-Stole
Grack was a fine Gor, his horns spiralling behind him impressively, shaggy fur covering his neck, back and limbs in a matted display of his heritage, strewn with the fresh blood and sweat from the battle against the town of Niedling. The battle had been lost, their leader slaughtered in a show of bravado, over the few hours since his demise bickering descended upon the ranks and slowly the hordes ebbed back into the dark woods. Niedling was burning and the filth residing within it would be unable to recover for many moons, it could wait.
Grack could hear the rest of his herd, in small group bickering in hushed tones or tumbling through the woods alone for fear of sparking a fight before camp had been built and warriors could claim their leadership visibly and openly for all to see. Yet Grack could smell something, further away, something sweet and warm and full of dark flesh, his mouth watered and his stomach tensed at the prospect of a stolen meal, he cantered off in the dark, following his nose, the desire to consume growing as flickering lights appeared between stalwart trunks, a small village lay ahead in a large clearing, a large crowd near a border-forte, one of the largest boars Grack had ever seen was turning on a spit, roasting and crackling under the heat. Hypnotised by the scent and his desire to tear apart every man who stepped in his way, he loped forwards.
It was then that he heard a loud crack and found himself unable to move further. Grack pulled and pulled until the pain in his leg was burning, he could smell his own blood. He collapsed to the floor and called out to his brethren in deep, guttural snarls, the distorted call like a wolf bleating, his bestial nature manifesting distinctive rolls on certain sounds while also creating the roars and growls that would never be heard from one creature naturally. Yet none of his herd came for him, the village were absorbed in their own celebrations and did not hear him. Grack pulled and twisted before pain and exhaustion overcame him and he fell asleep on the ground, legs tangled in whatever man-made device had ensnared him.
He was woken up in the cold light of dawn by the stiffness in his legs. Looking down, weakened and hungry, he saw his cloven appendage stuck between the maws of a metallic contraption, bone was visible from his adrenaline fuelled struggles the night before and muscle and flesh lay ragged about the vicious snare, the ground sodden with his own blood and morning dew. Grack lay, panting slightly in his agony and licked at the leaves around him to slake his thirst. His nose twitched and his wicked eyes scanned around for the source of his concern, a young woman was crouched in the trees watching him, covered in furs, russet hair braided haphazardly about her shoulders, she had a wild, curious manner about her, she was strong and shapely yet in the manner of the hated man that killed the wild and built with stone. Grack tried to call out, yet only uttered a cracked bellow from his parched throat. The woman stood and approached him, placing a finger to her lips and making a sound like rustling leaves in an attempt to quiet him.
“leave! Child of man! Leave!” his voice was harsh and whispered in the cold and his body was shuddering uncontrollably, the girl looked confused and crouched down a safe distance away from him, Grack noticed his weapons were lying near the tree the girl hid, crafty wench! She gestured with sickeningly small hands to herself,
“Berchte” Grack tilted his head, this was a most infuriating situation, this tiny thing had him at his mercy! He looked around, sniffing the air, if any of his herd were around he could call to them, but no such luck. The girl before him shrugged off her furs and started wrapping it over him like a blanket, Grack struggled against such an indignity and attempted to bite the being before him, much to his surprise she swatted him on the nose! She put a finger by his face and started a spiel which was unmistakeably scolding. She drew a skin which was tied up against her boot and passed it into his hand, opening the top for him as she did. The scent of strong alcohol flooded his senses and he drank deeply, taking his fill until the skin yielded no more, he cast it aside belched in appreciation, he pointed at her with misshapen digits
“You, Berchte.” she smiled and nodded pointing towards him with her hand, he paused for a moment and pointed back to himself.
“Grack” her smile broadened and she moved towards his legs, instinctively Grack pulled away from her, gritting his teeth against the pain. She fiddled with some of the metallic parts that held him fast and much to his surprise, it relented its grip and she pried it apart. Free, Grack leapt to his hooves and bellowed, for the first time Berchte looked afraid and cowered on the ground beneath him, he could kill her now, bathe the frost in her blood, feast on her flesh, destroy his shame once and for all, he loathed this creature, this female who shared her name, her warmth and her sustenance, this woman who freed him from certain death when she could have called the hunters. He grabbed a rock and raised it for a killing strike, he hesitated, sickened by the thought of this action. He was wrought with conflict. With a pause he bent down to her, with his broad tongue he licked the side of her face before reclaiming his weapons and loping off into the wilderness. In time he would find his herd, perhaps he would recover from his encounter with Berchte, the woman who stole his rage.
Voting ends in 98 hours.
Tough one. The Captain's story was slightly better written, with plenty of dialog, but I'm not sure how believable the situation is. Oh sure, the situation is as common as love itself, but the full conversation during a duel? It seems a bit melodramatic to me. Also, we don't really see anyone express or show their love in any significant way. A few extra lines between the lady and pistolier would've been nice.
8people's story is a little more complex. It's a little confusing at times, especially as to the motivations of the peasant woman, but honestly, love and compassion are very complex things. Seeing a creature suffer, even a dangerous and potentially evil one, can lead someone to show compassion, even if it doesn't make logical sense. In a way, it's the story of Beauty and the Beast, which is just as old as the first story, two men fighting over a woman.
In a strange way, the two stories have juxtaposed the traditional view of love, first from a masculine perspective, and then from a feminine one. From the masculine perspective, love is something that's won, and taken away from other men. From the feminine perspective, love is something that's shared, given selflessly, and sometimes recklessly.
Despite being slightly better written, I think 8people's story better captures the true nature of love, and thus presents us with the better story.
Last edited by mynameisgrax; May 4th, 2010 at 15:37.
mynameisgrax's comment makes me blink.
* blink *
I'm finding it hard to decide. Mynameisgrax pointed it out well and made me aware of the different ways both writers looked at the subject of love/passion. The conversation during CaptainSarathai's duel may be a tad melodramatic but I do not feel it to be unrealistic, especially with a haughty noble. I will have to award these writers the same score, I liked them both.
Hmm, a tough one.
CaptainSarathai's I quite liked. It's very well written, as usual. I like the way you've managed to jam quite a few twists in to such a short story! I like the way you handle the language as well. The conversation during the duel... I don't mind it. I'd have no idea what's going on, otherwise, so I'm glad it was as comprehensive as it was.
For 8people's story... the writing style doesn't sit all that comfortably with me. Many sentences seem to run on too much, using commas where there should be a full stop. I'm quite impressed with the way you've been representing the fantasy races, 8people; you seem to have a convincing knowledge of many of them, and so in my eyes you've made back a few points there.
Ultimately, though, I believe CaptainSararthai has the better story of this match-up.
Grax, you're a tough one to please, but I feel that this time you may have misread me a little, or perhaps missed some things. That's fine, it may be my fault as an author that it wasn't clear enough.
The Lady is free to choose, and Markus makes that clear in the dialogue, in fact, he even responds directly to your feeling that men look at women as a prize to win from other men when he says,
"You seek to steal the lady’s hand from me, rather than win it from her.”
The expressions of love are a little different too, and yes, a little less obvious. LeMalfleur is her brother, willing to risk his life to test the worthiness of her suitor, and then to die so that they may be happy together. The Imperial has a rough time displaying much love other than saying that the light in his life is dark without her, because of the language barrier and the rush that their in to get the hell away from the attacking beastmen.
Oh well- it's down to voting at this point, and there's little I can do.
I do like 8people's story, and I knew it would be interesting to see her (if I recall correctly) take on the whole theme. I thought it was funny that we both robbed the French a bit- she took the tale of Beauty and the Beast, while I nabbed their language. In a way, I guess they're both a tale as old as time (shameless Disney pun), but handled differently. I'm sure that this will be another close contest.
Best of luck to all!
Am I tought to please? I should have warned you, I'm a literature snob. ^_^
I guess what I was trying to say by 'masculine view of love' was that the lady was more or less a prize to be won. In that sense, she might as well have been a magic sword, or a pile of gold. We never really saw why the pistolier loves her, or any of the romantic moments they shared together. She seemed a little 2 dimensional in that respect, and a little fleshing out of her character would have helped.
As for the combat, I have no doubt that they would banter back and forth, given the choice, but have you ever been in a fight? It's an exhausting clusterf*ck of rapid blows. The idea that they'd pause between attacks long enough to deliver whole sentences is what seemed a little unrealistic to me.
Still, it's a fine story. I just thought 8people's was a bit better. I didn't have any trouble following it at all.
I suppose this is true, and you're entititled to your opinions. I feel the same snobbishness when reading through the entries - there are some absolute buffs in here, and a lot of very talented individuals. I wouldn't be insulted to lose to any of the contestants.
Have I been in fights? Haha, I work the door at a bar, I've seen my share of scraps. I fence though too, and you could get some sentences in during those more ordered duels.
The voting must continue. We're currently in a tie!
A hard choice. On one hand, I really liked the twist at the end of the captains story. On the other hand, I liked the tone set by 8people a little bit better. I do have to say that sentence structure could be a little crowded in hers though.
Close on, but Vendraciese's vote sealed the deal. CaptainSarathai (15,5) wins by half a point against 8people (15)
edit: but as 8people is the one who scored most votes of all those who lost this round, she'll get compensated due to the special circumstances of this round.
Last edited by Tashin; May 9th, 2010 at 09:30.