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BlackDowDaelrogFinding ones peace
Ponder gazed at those twin moons, intently aware of his own insignificance. It was a humbling sensation and one he was not accustomed to feel. Vampires should feel neither humbled nor awed. They should inspire it, provoke and destroy wherever they go. It was the mark of his kin to sow death and destruction. Leaning on the saddle of his majestic nightmare, he mused over the farce that was his existence.
Movement to his right interrupted his brooding thoughts and his trusted right hand stood illuminated by the twin moons. Tall, fair haired and with an almost handsome face, Malt had been Ponders friend and knightly brother all his life. Both this one and his former. His finger absently reached inside his shirt and fingered his amulet of the lady. The lady of the lake didn’t give her protection to vampires but he still treasured it. It was the only thing left from his mortal life.
“Sir,” Malt said in a low tone, “The Empire general agrees to parley with us.” Ponder raised an eyebrow at this. His heart would have jolted in excitement to see his foe, alas it lay dead and still in his breast. He sat motionless in his saddle and considered the words. On instinct, images of slaughtering the general came to mind. Blood, sweat and excrement soiling his blade, his fangs buried deep in the man’s throat. To release the animal within and let go of all mortal coils!
Ponder shook his head and the images subsided somewhat reluctantly from his mind. His knightly training and code of chivalry ran deep in him and he told Malt to bring the man.
The two vampires stood across the three men in Ponders command tent, the air rife with tension. General Tauber was a stern and veteran warrior; his two lieutenants flanking him looked both awed and fearful at the monsters facing them. Silence stretched on as neither side wanted to make the first move. Ponder didn’t mind, he had an eternity to spare.
Finally after the air had grown thick with the stench of grave dirt Tauber spoke in a commanding tone.
“You no doubt understand that you have encroached upon land under the protection of the Empire. We do not find ourselves with your kind and it must be Sigmar himself that is staying my hand from drawing my sword and killing you two where you stand.” He clipped every word and Ponder admired the man even though his chest was empty of any emotion. All vampires were capable of rage and that had died the same day he himself had died. All that was left was morning and sorrow.
Malt cleared his throat and addressed the general with a clear Brettonian accent.
“It is for us to decide where we go my dear gentleman. We are on our way to Brettonia in search of worthy opponents. And your army of dirty hill men is not what we are looking for. Please depart before any blood is shed and dishonor brought to your house.” He was cold and economical in his speech. He let no emotion show on his face or in his voice, he was stating the facts. Taubers face turned from white, to red, and then purple until he managed a semblance of control.
“You are abominations! A vile plague upon our land and it is your blood that shall be spilt this night, not mine!” His adjutants shuffled their feet and their fear made them start to draw their swords.
Ponder watch with little interest but when he heard swords drawn he cleared his throat. The sound made the three nervous men freeze and turn to him.
“Let us be civil gentlemen. There is no need to raise your voice.” He said gently.
“Stop with your silly speeches and fine words and be done with it. Accept my demand or denounce it, either way I need an answer.” There was no doubt in Ponders mind that Tauber thought himself superior and felt that he would win the battle ahead. Big words for such a small man.
“Rashness only leads to hastened decisions…” With one quick step Tabuer stepped forwards and backhanded Ponder across the face. Blood leaked from a cut on the vampires face.
“Insolent dogs! I should put you down like the freaks you and your kind are!” Before the men realized what was happening, Malt had crushed both lieutenants’ heads and Ponder was holding the general in an iron grip by the neck. He laughed politely and somewhere deep down he felt very satisfied at the utmost terror in Tauber’s eyes.
“We will not leave my good sir. Unfortunately it is your men that will pay for your foolishness. Now run back home and prepare yourself to die.” He dropped the man and the General’s gaze flickered from one vampire to the other and bolted. Malt looked over at his old friend.
“That wasn’t smart, he will lead his men with renewed purpose and it will be hard to crush them utterly.” Ponder sighed and shook his head.
“Killing him here does not bring us any honor, it’s disgraceful. On the field of battle,” He said, once again gazing towards the Empire’s encampment, “there we will have our honor. There…I might find the peace I so long have craved.”
As one the undead horde marched on to the battlefield. Ponder sat upon his black steed with his Black Knights around him. Garbed in Brettonian livery he closed his eyes and felt for a second the touch of something on his soul. This was truly a message from the Lady that she still looked out for him! War cries from his enemies reached him and with one arm raised he and his army surged forward, crushing their opponents utterly.Voting begins now, and will end next Thursday (Jan 20) at 4pm GMT. Remember to give each entry a score between 1 and 5.Under Dead Eyes
The scent of brimstone was felt on the tip of every man’s tongue. The cold had a sense of staleness about it that did more than chill the bones, but shook their nerves as well. All was quiet save for the soft murmuring of soldiers who had only each other to cling onto. The night was dark, clouds grey and thick shrouding the stars and moon.
“Warner, stop rocking back and forth. It’s making me nervous.” Roland was an ugly man, the kind that had to pay extra for a whore. However, he was good with a sword, and he was mean as hell, two things needed in the armies of the Emperor Karl Franz.
“It’s the damned light up there, at the high tower. What kind of light emits green? Why is there only one light lit in the entire castle? Are they mocking us?”
“The vampire’s greatest weapon is fear, boy.” The voice of Priest Mateusz came from behind the fresh soldier. “And yes, you can assume that monster is mocking us.”
The priest moved on, leaving the soldiers with their fire not large enough to give them any warmth, to consider the holy man’s words. No one discerned same thing from them. The night continued on without another word for some time.
“I need to take a piss.”
“Half your leggings are yellow, aren’t they? Adjust yourself so it goes down the right side.”
Chuckles, hearty and quiet pierced the night. More than one considered taking up that piece of advice rather than walk to the edge of camp.
Plate boots broke the shale on the ground, heralding the Captain’s approach. No one bothered to stand at attention. The Captain’s hair was cut short, and his beard trimmed impressively, though it was starting to fray. “Should have known it was you lot causing the laughter.”
“Nonsense Warner. I was waiting all night for a chuckle or two, could use one myself, stretch my jaw. As long as you all fight when the time comes, I could care less whether you laugh, cry, or call my mother a whore.”
“Your mother is a whore, Captain.” Roland shook his head appreciatively.
The Captain, with his armored hand, pointed at Roland. “Exactly.”
Warner looked back at the castle, feeling something staring back at him. “I thought the dead usually attacked at night. Only a little longer to sunrise.”
“This far into Sylvania there is no sunlight, boy. The enemy is probably waiting for the last bit of this cold night to freeze us to death, numb our fingers, shatter our nerves. It’s what I’d do if I was sitting in a castle and my enemies were city out in the cold field below, being able to see clearly in the night or not. No, we’ll hear the attack coming an hour ahead of time. The dead may not speak, but with few exceptions, they’re clumsy, clanking, and stumbling things. Not only that, but we’re downwind from them, and by Sigmar the scent of rotting flesh will greet us before there’s a need to get in battle formations.”
Roland looked behind him shoulder and scoffed. “I don’t get Wilhelm. I mean look at him, sleeping with that stupid smile on his lips, like he was next to the Captain’s mother and drunk enough to think her worth the copper piece.”
Joseph, their unit’s standard bearer responded. “Wilhelm’s just that kind of guy. He could sleep in the middle of a battlefield if he had the mind to. Probably why he married his town’s best looking girl. Lot of women like the kind of guy who seems to have no troubles.”
The Captain looked over at the sleeping soldier. “Never knew he was married. Is she really that beautiful?”
“Looking at her doesn’t make you puke.” Joseph paused before he added, “Small town.”
The group shared another short laugh. The fact that Joseph was known for his honesty and brevity made it even funnier.
“So Captain, how’s the rest of the army doing?” Wilhelm looked hopefully at his commander, expecting his commander to lie if it was bad, which was fine by him.
The Captain shrugged, causing his armor to rattle. “About the same everywhere. Men’re cold, men’re seeing ghosts in the shadows. The free company we picked up from Gerheim threatened the General with leaving if he didn’t increase their pay. General told them if they wanted to walked back a hundred and twenty miles to the nearest friendly town all by themselves they were free to.”
“Captain… do we have a chance to win this battle?”
“What? Honestly Warner I am beginning to see why Roland harasses you so much. Yes, we will win the battle. The priest of Morr puts their number as half of ours, and scouts report that their catapults have decayed to the point of being useless. We’ll take the castle, and with any luck can extend Stirland’s influence further into Sylvania.”
“And the vampire?”
“Probably not. Those creatures are as slippery as they are unnatural. Thirty huntsmen taken from the different companies have circled around the castle to block any escape once the battle is clearly in our favor, but only with a stroke of luck would they even be able to find the thing, let alone get an arrow into its heart. Still, we’ve been lucky in times past.”
“Aye, we have.” Roland raised his empty cup.
The Captain stood up. “Well, best check on the rest of the men. Only about an hour of night left.”
The soldiers listened as plated boots cracked shale, the sound growing more and more distant. All felt calm, and quiet. For all they knew the Captain was bluffing about the odds, or the wizard had read the omens wrong. Still, there were five hundred more men on this field, and if the others were not panicking, each one of them would stand strong.
“I can smell rotting meat.”
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BlackDow: 3/5 (Apparently I'm not allowed to give you the half point)
Your story was good, but I didn't really feel any emtional investment
It was good! I got a real sense of the scene, and the characters. It pulled me in, and it ended well. I would hate to be up against this piece.
I liked the theme(Brettonian undead), the story itself and the characters. Although I found some things a tad confusing, I still very much enjoyed reading your story.
Brilliant ending and well-written characters, and the whole story is connected, I don't know how to express it, in my native language, we would say, that there is a red thread through the story.
That means Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest-son-of-a-bitch in space!
I can't help but like Vampires, and you've portrayed these two very well. The tragic hero always resonates with me for some reason, which gives me more to like about this story.
More Vampires! Although not really Vampires, it's more about the mortal characters, which are all portrayed very well. As a curious aside, you seem to have used a lot more dialogue than any other entrant I've read thus far.
Daelrog's instantly stands out for me, focusing a lot more on characters and dialogue. It's a well executed effort, though BlackDow's is pretty decent also
I like teh tragic hero/antihero theeme of teh Vampires but again (and possibly like my own story) I thik it lacks emotional investment. Mind you- perhaps Ponder is a brother to Cromech?
Daelrog - that sounds like a Black Library exerpt. Have you considered entering their compos?
Join the LO army system! http://www.librarium-online.com/foru...t&uniqueid=910
Thanks for all the comments, will help me understand what i should improve to the next time i write
It's fun too see that i was put against such a good writer in the first round and get rightfully trounced xP
Thanks for all the compliments. It was five days planning, one day writing, one day revising and editing.
@kithre : I did once. However, I joined a thread to help edit each other's stories on LO, then found out that a number of people were disualified because their work was posted online.
EDIT: Since it's only a day left to vote, and no one's voted for awhile, I'll put my two cents on Black Dow's story. It started off very well with some great imagery. I think the problem came was when the vampires were completely reasonable, and the Empire General was completely not. The vampires did not have any faults to find, and thus it was hard to sympathize with them. As for the General, it was not his actions that seemed off (except for the fact that he even bothered to go to the undead command tent as opposed to just having the cannons fire on it), but he was so starkly the opposite of our heroes of the night that the character interaction was not smooth.
Also, I liked the stories more where it did not say whether the protaganists won or not. The "Eve Before Battle" revolves around the tension right before the storm hits. The battle itself is deserving on its own story, or at least more than a footnote.
Last edited by daelrog; January 19th, 2011 at 23:56.
I am heading off to the Peace Corps. It is bery likely I will not be back. Good luck to all of you endeavors.
BlackDow - 13
Daelrog - 19
Wow, Daelrog, you almost got perfect marks in that one! I had a feeling you'd be a bit of a juggernaut in this, and you haven't proven me wrong. BlackDow- your story wasn't bad, by any means. Infact, it was really quite good, and I think you were using the rationality of the vampires to display how cold and aloof they are. I randomized the pairings this time around, as there were so many new faces. Next time I'll try to seed the writers somewhat closer together- that's why there's double elimination after all.