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The bearded one - Empire
A nightmare in fort Oberstyre
After the defeat of Vlad von Carstein the count of Stirland ordered the Construction of a great fort, overlooking Sylvania from the west. A marvel of Imperial military technology it commanded four cannon batteries and could hold three thousand men. Yet civil war in the empire demanded Stirland’s resources elsewhere so the garrison was reduced to seven hundred and many cannons were removed.
When Konrad von Carstein attacked in 2088 it held out for less than two hours…
Nearly half a century later, fort Oberstyre is once again threatened by the vampire counts
Frederich looked out over the battlements of the fort towards the east, to the blighted lands of Sylvania. An unnatural land it was, where the dead stirred easily. The undead armies of the last and greatest of the vampire counts, Mannfred von Carstein, approached from the east and night preceded them like a roiling time of darkness. Over three thousand of the Stirland soldiery manned the walls. The count had restored the fortress after it had fallen and despite the costs maintained a full garrison.
Orders were shouted as the Stirlanders took their positions. In the gloom the undead approached. A nightmarish sight to behold. Ancient warriors and recently dead alike, a vast horde beyond imagining, marched towards the fort. The undead host halted and Mannfred von Carstein stepped forward from their ranks. Looking at the bristling walls he halted his steed and tilted his head to one side while examining the fort, as though contemplating his method of assault.
Several cannons fired, belching clouds of smoke, and smashing apart several scores of the undead close to the vampire count. The crew of one of the cannons hit the minions within an arm’s reach of the vampire, but Mannfred appeared unperturbed. With a wicked smile he raised his arms, and then moved with fluent motion. After the initial bombardment a dreaded silence fell upon the scene, when suddenly the barrel of the offending crew’s cannon was ripped from its carriage and it threw itself into the courtyard along with its crew.
Frederich was terrified at this sudden display of magical might and none of the cannon crews dared fire a single shot. He gripped the hilt of his sword tightly, for it gave a small sense of security and comfort, knowing he still had a measure of control over his fate and was not merely a prey at the mercy of the undead host. An older soldier noticed it.
“Calm yourself, lad. And pray to Sigmar your blade strikes true.”
“Yes, to Sigmar..” The mention of the God-king’s name helped to ease his mind.
the vampire’s next act shattered this momentary feeling of safety.
Manipulating the flow of magic with the movements of his hands the count’s eyes blazed with raw power. The sky appeared to darken and fires flickered as though in agony and died suddenly. A sickly green glow illuminated his immortal features. His vampire acolytes watched with glee as the arcane ritual fixed the defenders’ gaze. Mannfred lowered his arms towards the muddy ground, moving his clawed fingers as though grabbing air and then, as if he had caught hold of something moving his outstretched arms up again with open palms.
An eerie silence had fallen over the defenders, hardly daring to breathe. A feeling of dread descended on all, and sudden chilling cold sent shivers down their backs. Voices could be heard as if far away, issued from lipless mouths. The voices became louder, and went from mere whispers to shouts, and then deathly shrieking and wailing. The voices appeared not to be coming from the undead host, but from behind them and between them. From all around them. Their volume continued to rise until it became suffocating and drowned out even the Stirlanders’ fearful screams. The cacophony mingled into a single shriek of endless horror ready to descend upon them, and then it stopped.
Silence fell once more, and several men allowed themselves a sigh of relief.
Then the specters burst forth. Mists and horrors with skeletal visages exploded from the ground and walls of the fort, wailing and shrieking. In an instant the entire garrison ran in panic. These specters were the ghostly images of those that long ago garrisoned fort Oberstyre, the spirits of the men killed by Konrad and his vampire knights, and Mannfred’s necromantic powers had set them upon the defenders.
The spirit hosts descended on the Stirlanders, their chilling touch killed men and their very vicinity drained their souls. The spirits came down upon fleeing men, their cold vaporous forms moving through them as they died from their touch and sheer fright. Lifeless bodies tumbled from the battlements into the courtyard and the spirits moved through masonry and flesh alike. They dived through the air and chill ghostly vapor trailed their horrific forms through the sky. Their shrieks joined with the Stirlanders’ cries for their gods. Frederich stumbled and tripped over a cannon carriage, falling on the walkway with his face towards the courtyard.
Seeking escape several men managed to lower the drawbridge and were straining on the ropes to raise the portcullis that barred their escape. Slowly the wooden construction moved from view inside the stones of the gatehouse and terrified men rushed through. It was as though these spirits sought revenge upon the men of the empire for some perceived betrayal.
Men fled the fortress while specters dived and disappeared into the wooden frame of the portcullis. It creaked and shifted. Then it plunged back to the ground. Several unlucky men were impaled and trapped beneath the sharpened end and transfixed on the blooded ground, and Frederich’s hopes were shattered. The tortured spirits dived once again down on the Stirlanders, and Frederich felt bone chilling cold as a shrieking insubstantial skull descended on him.
In a single night Mannfred swept the defenders away, and to this day fort Oberstyre is ruled by the restless spirits.
Deadstar_MRC - Vampire Counts
The diaries of a Vampire
They call me a monster, but they are fools. None see me for what I truly am.
I am an artist. The Empire is my canvas, flesh my clay, and blood my ink.
None are immune from the fall of my brush. Once, peasants championed me as their saviour; once, when I was slaughtering my way one by one through a house of nobles who had dared to defy me. The unwashed masses cheered each work, each carefully posed victim. They applauded each carefully torn wound, each artistic strike, each splash of blood that told of my fury.
And then, in a single night, I shattered their dreams. A whole town of those hailing me as a liberator fell beneath my fangs, and nothing but terror was left in my wake.
It was exhilarating, than night. The whole town, before my arrival, was in the midst of some annual festivities; all those of age were dancing, cheering and feasting in the town square, leaving me free to begin my work.
Their children were left for the night in the care of the local clergy, a small group of nuns. I left them until last while I worked my way through the sobbing, terrified children, creating a masterpiece that would astound the rest of the village.
The last of my victims I took my time with, coaxing them into giving voice to their agony. The others had been too afraid to do more than whimper as my claws and fangs ravaged their flesh, but this one... Oh, it was glorious. This one sang like an angel, screamed like a daemon, wailed like a wind that carried a breaking storm.
And their cries summoned the villagers.
Their joyful evening was shattered as they forced their way inside to find the display I had prepared for them, as they stumbled through the maze of corpses searching for their precious children. There were tears, sobs, wails of agony.
And then I struck once more. Those still in the doorway fled into the monastery as I descended on them, just as I wished for them to do. They stared, confused for a moment, as I smiled and pulled shut the doors.
And then, drawing dark powers around myself, I called on the dead to rise. How I revelled in the symphony of screams, the chorus of anguish and terror that rose from within that once sacred building. They begged me for mercy, but I answered not one of their pleas.
I left the doors chained, and left the town abandoned. I waited and watched for some time, wondering when my work would be discovered.
A traveller came by the next day. He seemed overcome with the brilliance of the masterpiece before him, and fled back along the road to spread the work.
An army arrived in another two days. Like the ignorant philistines I see everywhere in the Empire, the cordoned off the building, and allowed only a few to witness the marvel inside. And then they set a torch to my work, and destroyed it all.
None of those ignorant bastards ever left that town. I raised their terrified heads above the ashes of my previous masterpiece, leaving their bodies where they had fallen.
But I was disheartened for a time, I must admit. I went back to my retreat, pondering how they could fail to see the genius of my work. Perhaps, I felt, the world was simply not ready for one of my vision.
I contented myself with small works for a time after that. Somewhere in the Empire a poet, Nathaniel Garret, rose to fame, a fame he rightly deserved. Not once did I see a performance of his where the audience were not brought to tears by the majesty and sincerity of his prose.
A critic, one of those foul, lecherous parasites that gain their fame by riding the coat-tails of those with true talent, savaged Nathaniel as a disgrace, a fraud, as every insult his tiny mind could conjure. I paid this critic a visit one night, to discuss matters with him. With a scalpel, I scrawled every word Nathaniel had ever penned into his bare flesh. Yes, the critic admitted, Nathaniel's work had brought him to tears.
But this critic's death rekindled my passion for my own work, and set my mind in motion once more. I began planning, considering the scope and subject of my next piece, and soon... Soon I shall be ready to unleash my work upon the Empire once more.
Voting ends in 98hours
Woaaaa! I liked both of these stories very much!
The Bearded One - Your story is well written and I like the idea of including a picture I can really see for myself how the scene evolves, and I like your portraying of Terror. 5/5
Deadstar - At first, I couldn't decide if I liked your story alot or if I didn't like it at all. So, I read it again and LIKED IT ALOT! You're idea is genious, and it makes me want to read H P Lovecraft stories,,, Just because, hehe But, the first time I read it was a bit chaotic (I know it SHOULD be, but still) which gives you a small bit of minus there. 4,8/5
Nice stories from both entrants!
I felt the bearded one's story followed the theme only half-heartedly, and ironically followed the original theme, 'a siege', far more closely. Also, despite the fact that the soldiers are dying, there isn't much there to show their humanity, and make us care. That said, it is a very well written story, with good flow and execution. I just feel it's a little lacking in depth.
Deadstar's story was quite vicious, and very well executed. Still, a few more details of the 'art' would've helped us see a bit more of the vampire's 'character', but he followed the theme very well, and sent a chill down my spine, the first story in the competition to truly do so.
EDIT: I just realized one major flaw with Deadstar's story. There's no conversation. Isn't one required?
As it stands, I'm giving Deadstar a very narrow victory.
Bearded One: 4/5
Last edited by mynameisgrax; May 13th, 2010 at 14:10.
"Any job worth doing, is worth doing with a powerklaw."
Aww, how am I meant to compete against pictures!
A fine effort, The Bearded One. An you're off to an early 0.2 lead!
Mm. I think mynameisgrax snuck in before I could post...
@mynameisgrax - You're right; I kind of got caught up in the idea and wasn't sure how to work a conversation in there.
The Bearded One : 3.5/5
Overall a good story. However, it seemed to be more undead oriented than Empire. Also, with so few words to work with, the whole introduction of your setting took too much away from the actual event you were trying to portray. The other thing that I could see that needs some improvement are some of the visualizations. "their chilling touch killed men and their very vicinity drained their souls" does not do the scene justice. I think with more space (taken from the first couple paragraphs) would have given you the ability to really flush out the vivid details.
Interesting idea. Reminded me a lot of Clockwork Orange, the looney villainous protagonist talking about his deeds in such a positive light. The reason I can't give this a 5 is that I think there are some inconsistencies. For an artist, ignorant bastard seems like a very common term to throw, even for someone he doesn't like. Also, the terror that was the first scene started to decline. In such a story, save the best for the end! (However, considering you're on a PG-13 forum, good job for keeping the graphic nature of this in check).
I am heading off to the Peace Corps. It is bery likely I will not be back. Good luck to all of you endeavors.
I enjoyed your story. I once participated in a 6k+ megabattle where the Vampires sieged a village, and the flow of battle was very similar. The downside however, is that your story reads like a battlereport. The conversation is there, but it does seem like it was placed there to meet requirements, rather than to move the story very much. Sometimes, dialogue can clue us in to the details as much as narration, and in this instance, it would have saved you a few words.
I do like the picture, it was interesting even if it was a bit distracting. You seemed hard-up in this one, it seems that you haven't gotten much a read on the VC, but you still manage to do a good job from a literary standpoint.
I love your story! It's not my place to penalize you for not including a conversation- I'm sure that Tashin will handle that. It could be argued that the entire story is a single monologue delivered by a character (as I am hoping you didn't butcher a whole town yourself), but there are no responses so I think you're still going to take the hit.
Aside from that, the story was very engaging- it's dark and extremely twisted, and I could get into the character. 'Friedrick' from TBOs story was given a bit of fleshing out, but your character (aside from speaking directly to us) also gives us a candid view of his severe state of mental illness.
The paragraphs were nice and short, which makes it easier to read on the forums, and they each moved the story along at a brisk pace.
If I had to complain about any one thing, it is that you make the vampire go soft at the end. He has spent years being lauded as a hero for essentially causing havoc among the ruling class. Then he goes for his masterpiece- butchering an entire town. He feels slighted that his work isn't well recieved, so he retaliates by killing his critics. But then he still feels as if he's failed. So rather than plotting to make the greatest, most twisted display of his career, he sinks to killing a lowly critic of a poet.
I suppose that in a way it brings the story full circle, but you had a great Hannibal Lecter vibe going, with a truly diseased person. Then you instead paint him as an anti-hero, a sort of misunderstood emo-kid who has sympathy for a poet. Meh- should've kept him wicked.
Bearded One- for a good delivery and a well fought round: 3/5
Deadstar- for a truly entertaining character and insightful story: 4.5/5
I'm glad for the 'good job', I'm still somewhat struggeling at times with my language barrier.
Anyway, thanks so far voters, I can use your commentary and critiques and let the voting continue. I've still got 2 "lives", so either way I can take what I've learned to the next round with Skaven! Pure villanous character.