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A grand chariot sped across the desert, driven by four large skeletal steeds. Behind the grand chariot as far as one could see in both directions rank after rank of skeletons marched quietly not a single expression on their faces.
In the chariot itself stood a pair of what looked like statues, one was without a doubt feminine, the other was male no doubt. But if one dared look closer one would see the blue bale-fire dancing in the eyes of the male statue, this was none other than the Beggar King Khallazar.
Even though Khallazar was a skeleton and wearing almost nothing but rags, anyone could tell he had once had blue blood in his veins, not only did he wear a golden crown and a jade talisman in the shape of a crocodile around his neck, but his posture was so regal, that people just did what he told them to without asking questions.
Khallazar felt better than he had in years, and as Khallazar was looking across the desolate blazing desert, that lay ahead of him, his thoughts were trailing backwards in time, back to when he was alive, his face revealing no expressions as he thought back to the time before he had become... this...
Many aeons ago he had been human, he had been alive. His eyes lit up in fury every time he recalled the false promises he had been given so long ago, promises of eternal life. His eyes flared red for a second longer and then faded back into a calmer blue fire. He no longer saw the scorching desert ahead of him, he saw the abundant fertile lands, which they used to be.
Many aeons ago he had enjoyed hunting with his falcons, he had been particularly great at that. His falcons had been renowned throughout the world. He had experienced no greater thrill than watching his falcons swoop down from a height of hundreds of feet and then accurately grab a small bird in flight.
Khallazar heard the scream from one of his falcons, he looked above and saw the bony skeleton of a falcon swooping down from high above, only for it to break off at the last minute. The pride he had felt for his falcons still lingered, one of the few emotions he had left, not as strong as it used to be, but still there no less. This offered Khallazar a little reprieve, he was still a little human at the very least.
Many aeons ago when he was alive he had been the crown prince of the Land of the Crocodile. As the crown prince it had been required of him to hold feasts, this was one duty he particularly enjoyed. His feasts had been so grand, that members of every race had visited the palace of the Crocodile at one time or another.
He remembered, how he had enjoyed participating in the competitions. The competitions were tests of ones abilities in battle, shooting after targets with bow and arrow, one on one staff combat and one on one combat with wooden swords had been the usual ones. A couple of times there had been some oddball competition like a chariot race, however chariot racing had been deemed barbaric, seeing as the competition had an extremely high mortality rate.
As he recalled all of this, a memory entered his mind, he had been undefeated in the competitions until he had met his queen.
Khallazar gazed shortly upon his queen by his side in the chariot, his calm blue eyes completely void of emotion, this body of dead flesh wasn’t capable of many emotions beyond rage anymore. He looked closer at her, analysing her, trying to find out why he had chosen to marry her. And he immediately thought back to his eighteenth birthday.
His father had held a feast to celebrate his eighteenth birthday, the day when he was to officially become the heir to the throne. On this day he had boldly announced that he would fight in a competition with anyone who dared challenge him. In the beginning of the evening he had received a few challenges from newcomers, these had been beaten so badly that no one else dared challenge him.
That was until he had noticed a black-haired beauty who had stared intently at him from the other side of the room. When she saw he had noticed her, she had walked over to him and out of nowhere she threw a wooden staff at him, thereby challenging him. He had smiled confidently as he caught it in the air and asked her who he would have to fight. He saw his own confident smile mirrored on her lips as she whirled her staff around in the air in front of her. Suddenly the staff stopped whirling and he felt it poking his throat gently. Still smiling they stepped towards the stone circle in which the staff competitions took place, and as they did this, it seemed like half the guests also did.
They readied themselves, and in the few moments before the captain of his father’s guard made the ready signal, he noticed how radiant she really looked. He was completely distracted by her beauty, but the spell broke when she moved and swung her staff at him, he had to stumble backwards to block it in time, but he quickly regained his balance and countered, she stepped backwards and their gazes met each other across the arena.
His attention was brought back to the present day abruptly by another scream from one of his falcons. He scoured the horizon and spotted the approaching army, his eyes flared red once again and he readied his sword. These ants were going to regret ever marching against him, this land, his land was going to become as it had once been, he was going to make it, no matter the cost.
Retribution: The origins of Braiith Hollowheart, the first of the Mournsingers, Waywatcher Noble.
The howling wind tore through the forest, the roaring noise of countless trees shaking their leaves echoed through out Athel Loren. The leaves cascaded down, dancing upon the wind, the storm growing stronger. And it was through this howling wind that the waywatcher ran.
He sprinted through the forest, the sound of his own heavy breathing and the wind in his ears. His cloak billowed madly in the wind, clinging to his form and displaying the strained muscles in his legs as they carried him. His long, braided hair flew behind him, bouncing off of the hood of his cloak. The sick smell of burnt wood and flesh hung thick in the air, making the elf run all the faster. The waywatcher’s feet made no noise on the forest floor as he leaped clear over the roots of trees far, far older than he. Any idea of stealth or subtlety had been replaced with desperation and fear as he burst into the clearing ahead of him.
Before him lay what remained of an ancient and thick tree, its charred form in stark contrast to the lush and abundant life around it. It had once been incomprehensibly tall; it had easily towered over the forest surrounding it. It was only in Athel Loren that such a monument could exist, for anywhere else it would have been cut down without any consideration, used to construct makeshift homes and rustic weapons of war. Yet, in the relative safety of the forest, it had been torn down and burnt. Even as it lay on its side, it still rose far above the lone elf. Axes and crude weapons of the cruel Bray-folk lay near to the fallen tree, several embedded deep into the bark of the tree; they were as blackened as the wood. And where the base of the tree used to lie was a winding set of blood and soot-stained stairs that lead into the belly of the earth. The elven hall had been discovered, and the inhabitants slaughtered by the rampaging beastmen. Burnt carcasses could be seen scattered near to the tree, limbs had been hacked of and the bodies defiled.
Crouching down, the waywatcher touched the earth and after a moment grimaced. The taint of chaos was stronger here than he had first feared; he could feel it, as if the very earth was crying out in agony. Grass and plant were already beginning to show decay. Their forms wilted and sick. He sighed; it would take many months for the forest to fully eradicate such corruption.
“Braiith!” The call awoke the waywatcher from his silent contemplation. He turned to see Siarl running towards him and rose. As soon as they were near Siarl roughly grabbed Braiith and tried to pull him away from the clearing. Pushing Siarl back, Braiith freed himself from his friends grasp. Siarl paused. The two waywatchers stood in silence for a moment, it was only when Braiith looked away that either of them moved. The two elves embraced quickly and both looked over at what remained of their childhood home.
“Don’t go down there Braiith, you know you don’t have to.”
“Why? For fear that our families may yet be alive?” And Siarl fell silent. Braiith walked forward alone. The ground had been coated in ash, and large areas had been scarred by the flames.
Walking slowly, and encircling the bodies of his kin, some of whom he recognised despite their injuries, burnt flesh and melted hair. When he reached the stairs to the hall he paused, he didn’t have to go inside to know what he would see. The walls were black, and smoke still lingered within.
It was in these very halls that Braiith and Siarl had been born, grown up and eventually left to pursue lives as waywatchers. Memories of childhood games, banquets and happier times felt like a knife in his side as he recalled them in turn. Of how when he was young he had been frightened by the dryads that could be seen moving through the forest, wary of any who would harm their home. The time that he had wondered off, following ethereal lights through the trees and had come across a stag drinking from one of the streams that began in the Pine Crags. and granted life to Athel Loren. The times when he would sit out under the stars with his mother and father, little sister beside him and he would be told of Athel Loren, of the wood elves and of the foes that would see his home and family destroyed. This was a place of peace and laughter. His home, everything that he had ever loved had been here, hidden away inside the tree, the earth, the forest.
Braiith sighed. “You know that we must hunt down the beasts that did this.”
“Your judgment is clouded!” Siarl pleaded “Don’t go; you’ll die for sure.”
“And these are the consequences of our ignorance, Siarl! There shall be vengeance, for our kin and the Athel Loren!” roared Braiith “It is our duty to protect this place, and for so long we did just that. We were so sure of our ability. And now, our arrogance has been met with retribution. Do not tell me this is so. This is our duty; we failed before, but shall not this time.”
The pair fell silent. Siarl sighed, and turned to leave. Braiith hoped that the swish of the elf’s cloak hid the soft sound of his tears hitting the ground, but he was sure he saw Siarl pause for a moment, ears pricked, before continuing.
His quiver full, bow in hand, Braiith walked alone off into the forest. His rage and sorrow his only companion. The beastmen tracks were fresh, and it was impossible to hide their presence in such large numbers. The blood of the Bray would flow tonight, and Braiith did not fear losing his own; everything he had loved was lost, and so was he.
Alright- the voting for this round will end on Feb 5th at 4pm GMT. Remember to give each contestant a score between 1 and 5. Even if you're not participating in the Fluffwar, you can still support the writers and vote!
Just a note guys (am I even allowed to post in here?). This is a fluff war, not a measure of our ability with the English language. I've spoken (and written) English all my life, while I know that for Lasso it's his second. He has mentioned that he doesn't want this to affect judging in any way. So, let's keep it to the fluff yeah? Cheers guys.
Hey Cap'n, where my tabs at?
If someone helps you, rep them.
In a votewar you don't vote on a single match, you vote on the entire round. Got that?
Again, in keeping with teh breif of Youth, I think that Lasso does a great job - the flashbacks, seeing the land as it was once rather than is now, calssic imagery. I take on board the language, just think that it could have had a little more embellishment. However a strong story all-round, 3/5
Cannibal, I think that your story reads very well as a suspense, but I don;t really see it as an origins story. The focus is on teh here-and-now situation rather than the protagnists as children or in their flush of youth. My understanding is that Waywatchers are veterans rather than inexperienced younglings. With this in mind, I'll have to be harsh and only give you 2/5. Had this story been titled vengeance - that would be a VERY different score though!!
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Good to see Khallazar back in action! A pretty well written story, with a nice bit of exposition of Khallazar's past. Seems a little dull, though, for some reason I can't adequately explain...
A very good piece. I think you conveyed the emotion and motivations of the characters a little better, and your potrayl of the forest and the waywatcher's passage through it at the beginning worked very well.
Lasso290391 - 3/5
Cannibal_God - 4/5
What went right: I cannot stress enough how much improvement there is between this and your last story. I liked what you did to hit the theme. I enjoed your protaganist.
What could be done better: Still a few awkward sentences here and there such as " one was without a doubt feminine, the other was male no doubt". Get rid of the 'no doubt' at the end because it's repetitive. I think the story's main problem is that it lacked focus. Stick to either the falcons, the chariots, or the wife. A thousand words really is not enough space in my opinion for all of those things.
Cannibal God's Retribution
What went right: Very intense theme. It made me really want to knwo more, and I tried to picture what happened next (which is great).
What could be done better: I have to agree that this story fell short of the theme, but I won't penalize oyu for it, that's for the Captain to decide. I thought it was home, family, but not youth. I aslo wasn't convinced by the exchanges between Braiith and Siarl. Siarl seemed to only be there to be overly cautious as opposed to Braiith's rage. A little more depth would have been good so we knew why each character acted as they did.
Lasso: 3/5 for a great improvement over the last sotry, and still room to go up
Cannibal God: ... I am almost inclined to give a lower score, but you have definately earned at least a 3/5, especially since I truly did care about the story
I am heading off to the Peace Corps. It is bery likely I will not be back. Good luck to all of you endeavors.
Well, it looks like CannibalGod has squeaked by by a point, with the scores standing at 12 to 13.
I liked both stories, and just as Daelrog pointed out- they were both a definite improvement over the entries from R1.
I think that what hurt Lasso the most, may have been not going back to reread what was written. As Daelrog pointed out in his post, there were a few instances where words could have been omitted or sentences made more concise, that would have freed up words to tell the story with. 1000 words was a struggle for me, but it did (contrary to my rambling posts) turn me into a much briefer writer.
Cannibal's story was a little loose on the theme, but I leave it to the other voters to decide whether or not to penalize someone for that. I'll penalize you if you write about the wrong army, but I won't go after you for missing a theme. I felt the same "lack of depth" with the characters also. It should be noted that dialogue can make or break a story. You're spending words to say things like "he said", and in order to keep the characters convincing, they have to share information that would be easier to simply 'give us' as readers. However, dialogue does provide a chance to add depth and make us feel for the characters. I remember that last Fluffwar, there was a round where almost everyone wrote their dialogues in an accent, which was strange. It worked for some, and fell flat for others. Cannibal, you're still moving up the ladder, so I look forward to seeing what you can come up with.