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Nagash - High Elves (Rising Leviathan's armychoice)
Neanril the Lion
Neanril was ready for battle. He had heard of the great undead army marching towards the borders of the Land of the Dead, long since known as Nehekhara. The heat was of no problem this day, and the lion pelt he wore on his back was dry enough not to encumber him. In many days, the elven boats had been sailing towards these deserted lands, on a mission to gather information on the exact explanation on what happened to the people that once lived there. Neanril was part of the White Lion force, trained in the wilderness of Chrace. He had fought many battles, but those had all been against heavily armoured warriors of chaos.
His younger brother, Isilmarion, fought by his side. Isilmarion had been part of the White Lion force in about five years now, six years less than Neanril. Neither he had faced such warriors as rumours told would control these lands. Bare to the very bones, they were. They were told to control thousands of archers, darkening the sky with arrows when it came to large battles. Neanril could sence something in the air... A deep tension that his elven senses barely could notice, a feeling he associated with battle.
The commander of the unit, Ehinjíl, told the White Lions to look around. Neanril did so, just to witness how small their elven patrol was. As a soldier, he had to stay quiet. “Discipline”, he thought for himself. The elven patrol consisted of two archer units, one spearmen unit and a chariot pulled by lions. The commander shouted to everyone.
“Get ready! We're being watched!”
And as he shouted, shadowy silhouettes appeared above them. Neanril picked up his great axe, not afraid to use it at any moment. He was standing in the second rank of the unit, close to the middle. The shadowy silhouettes appeared to be giant birds, about the size of great eagles, but they weren't as majestic. What looked like a neck on one of them, covered in bandages, ended in a vicious beak. The birds landed close to the flank of the chariot, trying to pull off the chariot crew. The commander told everyone in the unit to get ready. Neanril didn't care that much, he had been ready since they arrived. He heard the sound of an eagle's eye about fifty metres away, in the direction of the boat. Some of the sailors seemed to be willing to fight too. And so, Neanril couldn't concentrate on others' moves, for his unit was moving.
Suddenly, a dark cloud hid the sun from view. The commander shouted something to everyone, but Neanril couldn't hear what he said. Luckily, he wasn't hit, for the cloud was filled with arrows. He thought about it a while, and it seemed pretty interesting; the arrows changed course when they closed in on the elves, as if magic was involved. He could see that only one person in his unit was hurt, one of the elves he didn't know. The injured elf was left in the sands, and as soon as the unit left him, a pack of these birds arrived to feast on his corpse. Neanril looked at his brother. He was uninjured, but three arrows had hit him. Luckily, his lion pelt had absorbed the impact of the projectiles.
As the White Lions faced the direction from where the arrows came, they became aware of the real threat. A huge army of living dead stood right in front of them, as if they had been there for many hours without even being noticed by the elven scouts. They wielded long blades, edged only at one side and wore no armour at all. The commander roared.
“For Ulthuan... CHARGE!”
And at once, Neanril readied his axe and ran towards battle, fearless while fighting side by side with his younger brother. Before him, he could see how bone flew from one side to another as the front rank of the White Lions penetrated into the mass of skeletal warriors. When he could see how easily they fell to the elven axes, he felt joy for the first time in very long. They would win this battle with ease, even though they were outnumbered to a very high degree.
After five minutes of slaughtering, there were still many skeletons standing. Behind the unit was a trace of crushed bones, proof to the hack-and-slash that had been for quite a while now. But these bones whispered. They seemed to repair themselves.
“Neanril”, the commander shouted out.
“Yes”, he responded in a cool tone. “What do you need me to do?”
“Clean the path behind us, so we can get out of this nightmare. We'll have to get back to the ship, or else I fear the dead will get to our archers. Take your brother with you!”
Neanril nodded to Isilmarion who followed him to the rear of the unit. The bones had already been starting to replenish their full health. The two elven brothers had received a commission that they wouldn't fail. But from below, a skeletal hand grabbed Isilmarion's leg while another penetrated his right lung. A skeleton aimed an arrow at the injured elf, but Neanril defended him by reflecting the projectile with his axe. Desperately, he crushed the skeleton into bonemeal, turning around to see even more of them circulate around his fallen brother.
“Leave him!” he shouted. “Don't even dare to touch my brother!”
One of the seven skeletons circulating around Isilmarion lowered his blade into the corpse. A deep sigh could be heard from the elf, as if life left his body vessel. Another blow came from a skeleton, whose Khopesh severed the elf's head from his body. Blood was everywhere.
Before Neanril himself got swallowed by the horrors of the desert, he could see his brother's eyes.
“Oh, how beautiful”, he sighed; deciding that now was the time to sleep.
8people - Tomb Kings
The Exile of Khastun-Ptra
Khastun-Ptra awoke to the sounds of silence within his barrow, the unnerving lack of noise accompanying enforced silence by a stealthy intruder, he lay there, and waited. In the times of kings long past Khastun-Ptra was granted princedom of the barbarian lands of the far North, after an exhaustive sea-faring career exploring unending seas North and West of Nehekhara. Now he heard weeping.
Rising as elegantly as a linen-wrapped corpse could, Khastun-Ptra drew his blade from his side, the still-sharp blade singing in gentle anticipation against the stone it had rested in undisturbed centuries, tonight it may taste blood – and it was hungry. Khastun-Ptra glanced through the narrow doorway from his resting chamber to his room of worldly treasures. There was a man, throat sliced open, drained upon the stone floor and a woman knelt down weeping. They were short of stature to Khastun-Ptra, who was more akin to the silent being staring down pitilessly at the newly made widow. They wore cloaks of soft grey and elegant trinkets about themselves, their clothes were well made and intricately embroidered. Curiously, they wore long hair, man and woman alike, with angled eyes and sweeping ears that gave them an exotic, alien cast. Khastun-Ptra recalled a brief encounter with them at sea, communicating in simple gestures and mirrored signals in what was almost a game, but he wasn't laughing now. Who were they to disturb his rest?
“Why?” the woman called out to her husbands' murderers
“He was a thief, and you will tell us where he hid his ill-gotten gains.” the reply was sing-song, accented differently from her harsh calls.
“My husband was never a thief! He worked hard! We don't even know you!” An elfin woman spoke up from the back
“It is possible we got the wrong man... a lot of men look quite similar in these parts.”
“Silence yourself, Linanea!” their leader spoke with great annoyance, “I saw this man! This mockery! He ran to here with the princes' talisman. Need I remind you what happens if we don't get this back in time?” there was a pregnant pause, the only sound the widow sobbing over the remains of her once simple life.
“Captain, there is enough here in this place to replace the worth of the talisman five times over, and I can sense the power in many of these artefacts is great. It looks like our thief here stole from many delegations visiting the area. He certainly has odd tastes in his marks though.” the man speaking picked up a jewel encrusted statue of Phakth – the hawk faced god of the sky and justice.
Khastun-Ptra had seen enough, raising his blade he stepped into the dusky room and faced the long-eared interlopers, their looks of horror giving them pause long enough to watch their own thieving kin get cut down like a sail. The statuette landing with a delicate clatter and a slightly besmirched expression from being manhandled in such a manner. The small quarters of the room ended the battle quickly. Khastun-Ptra was fearless and quicker than any mortal, the elves were swift and agile, but lacked manoeuvrable space and only their captain had his arms at the ready. Blood flowed like thick wine from the wicked kopesh Khastun-Ptra wielded, light glinting off it maliciously as it moved unerringly to every artery and organ in turn, creating an orgy of pain and suffering in its victims as they decorated the gold and treasures they clambered over. Three of the elves drew bows in a futile attempt to prevent the slaughter of their kin. Of the eight that arrived with their captain four had been slain already, the stone floor seeped in gore another slipped and fell onto the blade, screaming as the blade twisted and wrenched inside him, tearing open his guts and kidney in a dark spray over the silver coins stacked in front of him. The captain turned and called his men to follow him as he sprinted down the corridor to the exit
“We will have more space out in the open!” was his final, desperate cry, his lieutenant followed scooping up the sputtering torch as she skipped past the toppled ornaments and dismembered crewmates. There was a pause, a hesitation as another decided to stay with his friend, as Khastun-Ptra descended upon Linanea. She was a valiant warrior, parrying his blade with skill and precision but unable to inflict much harm upon his majesty, her companion was brave and daring, striking blows from his bow in unmatched skill, Khastun-Ptra was impressed and would salute him if his blade wasn't so occupied with the fray.
A scream pierced the combat from the corridor, Linanea turned her head for the briefest moment, the blade bit into her neck without hesitation or mercy, arterial spray spattering a delicate mosaic of Khastun-Ptras' living victories as she crumpled with a gurgling moan. Her companion shouted in rage and ran off to the sound of the scream. Khastun-Ptra didn't follow.
He should leave some fun for his personal guards, after all.
Khastun-Ptra glanced around briefly before his sword arm jerked and lunged underneath an overladen table, there was a brief gasp, then silence. Peering under the table he saw the widow had been hiding there clutching her husband still.
“Was that really necessary?” the king spoke in an ancient tongue to the blade in his hand
“I am but a blade, master. It has been such a long time since I tasted blood.”
“She was nothing, Thirster-of-Blood, she would have kept others away from my resting place.”
“I am aware of this, master.” Khastun-Ptra sighed and reached down, pulling the least soiled cloak from one of his foes.
“Considering what you did to my last set of servants. I suppose it's up to me to clear up this mess.”
“My apologies, master. It is my nature. Why we were sent here.”
Voting ends in 98 hours
Last edited by Tashin; May 13th, 2010 at 13:23.
Nagash - To be honest, I'm not all that happy with the ending. The rest is alright but doesn't particularly stand out as anything all that remarkable, if I may be a little blunt. I'm just... ungripped. In a total state of un-grippedness, one could say, to borrow from the Red Dwarf TV show.
8people - So the conversation is with... the sword? Well, that's certainly different! I kind of like your descriptions of the battle, but they seemed to drag on for a bit longer than was necessary. Still, a decent effort.
Nagash - 3.5/5
8people - 4/5
Well y'know, it's one of those days where bloodthirsty paraphanelia just seems appropriate
Fantasy: Wood Elves, Dark Elves, Beastmen and Tomb Kings.
LotR: Misty Mountains and Rohan
I liked both of the stories very much!
I thought Nagash's story had some issues with the grammar/spelling, and he fulfilled the blood and conversation requirements very half-heartedly (shouting at people isn't exactly a conversation). Still, I liked the ending. It was very sad and thoughtful.
8people's story was very intriguing and original. I liked the conversation between the blood thirsty weapon and its master. The sword being unapologeic and fatalistic, while its master is annoyed and concerned, like any true leader should be. In fact, it's probably the most 'human' Tomb King characters so far in the competition.
In the end, I have to give the advantage to 8people, since her characters were far better (ironically) 'fleshed out'.
I liked them both too, but my preference is for 8people. A talking blade. I do wonder how those elves got into the tomb king's lair. They just ran after a thief in and randomly found it? Nagash's story felt a bit less deep in story and events, I in fact do like the ending though, the endings of both writers. Talking sword
Both of you had a similar problem that occurred, you tried to convey in a description what you need to be action. For example, 8people, I know the elf woman was a valiant warrior. You didn't have to say it. Nagash, don't tell me that the white lion was afraid to use his axe. Just show me. The more the reader can read between the lines, the better. That being said, my biggest issue with Nagash's story was the opening. I don't care what r who the white lions have fought, or how many years they have fought, etc. I want to know what's going to happen now. With so few words to use, don't waste them on needless details that do nothing for character growth. Also to both, work on the fight scenes and get more out of them.
I am heading off to the Peace Corps. It is bery likely I will not be back. Good luck to all of you endeavors.
Both attempts came a little flat for me, to be honest.
Nagash- your story was all there, and I was able to clear the spelling/grammar errors (although those shouldn't be there at all) with enough ease. The trouble is that I couldn't really follow it. There were a lot of estimations, "About five years" for example. The White Lions are the elite bodyguard of the king, they should know how long they've been fighting. You keep a detached sense about the characters- he notices things slowly, like he doesn't really care that he's in a life-or-death battle.
Your characters are an extension of yourself, so they should react as you would react (or hope to react). Neanril should have been afraid, or else very bold, and when his brother died he should have showed a great deal more emotion.
Your stories are good- the plot is all right there and it's done very well. The part that you're falling through on though, are your characters. Caring about what happens to a character we can relate to, is what brings us back for more.
Your story confused the hell out of me! The woman and her husband- were they elves or humans? What did they steal, why were the elves looking for them? I can vaguely assume what happened, but I'm not entirely sure that I have the right idea. The conversation with the sword at the end was slightly confusing as well, as at first I wasn't sure who he was talking to, and then when I realized that it was his sword, it seemed to come out of nowhere. I went from thinking
"Oh, this is an ancient undead kind who doesn't care about the affairs of mortals, and is simply exterminating some pests"
"So... did he do all of that awesome killing just because the sword told him to?"
The plot seemed good. If I assume that you had to cut out your intro to save words, and I assume that I know what that intro consisted of, then you have a fine tale. However, without the intro, the intrigue and the mystery is greatly diminished. During the story, I'm spending most of my time wondering why the hell any of this is even happening, rather than worrying about what's taking place.
Once again, both stories focused a lot on fighting, which makes sense given the topic. However, for writers who've made their way into the quarter-finals, I would have expected to see a little more innovation from the both of you. Especially since 8People put up such a hard fight last round. It seems that you've both (I know Nagash has) rushed a little to knock this one out.
I thought both stories were better than that. Pretty ironic, considering that I'm usually pretty hard to please. ^_^
Nagash bits the dust (...again). Never pick a fight with a girl. 8people wins with a total of 19,5 points/votes.