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Ada… a simple name, fragile, mortal…
A withered hand reached up to rub out the dust and pain from weary, bloodshot eyes. All he needed was more time. No, that was incorrect. He did not need more time, he desired it, just as he desired Ada.
The withered husk-like thing turned to the still body of a woman, basking in the moonlight. Her skin was pale with a hint of blue, in part from the light’s hue, in part from being as cold as frost. She was pretty albeit plain if one could lack past such trivial things such as life. Still, the true dead lay still, and there was no point to it but food for the worms.
He had watched her, longed for her for many weeks, or had that been years? She was certainly taller than he last remembered, and her jaw line seemed more refined. She was also far paler, but that was an acceptable sacrifice. All of it was acceptable, for the chance to hold her, to bind her to his will, forever.
The necromancer read his tome, writ of blood, faded and nigh unreadable from centuries of slow but gradual weathering. Newt’s eye, or was it newts’ eyes? A touch of virgin’s breath, a dabble of gnarl root, and the slightest sprinkle of saffron. He mashed raw ingredients together with his mortar and pestle until the contents began to smolder.
The thing’s spine popped and cracked as it stood up and shuffled over, pouring the last few ingredients into the black iron cauldron. The grayish liquid erupted into fiery blue, wisps of lavender smoke rising. It was almost complete, all save for one thing.
The old, crusted once-human brought its bone knife up and slashed its own open palm. At first nothing came of it but cut skin. He waited though, and in a few, long, unnatural moments, black blood began to slowly seep to the outside. He moved his hand back and forth over the cauldron until finally a drop of black fluid fell from his hand into the mixture below. With speed unbefitting his poor state, he shuffled across the room and began hurriedly muttering guttural notes as if he were some base, degenerate beast.
For hours he read, meditated over the fell texts, taking note as the room grew darker and darker. All was pitch black by the time his words fell silent. A numbing cold took hold of him, a sensation he had not felt for so very long. It was another feeling he could add onto his growing list of things that he had lost until he had first laid eyes on the woman who now was just beyond reach.
Memories flooded his aching mind, of the times he had gazed upon her in the distance by day, how he had loomed over her unbeknownst in the night. How they had laughed over the silly little things like dust moths and the howling of starving wolves, oh how they had mourned over their losses, such as her father who was sent to the war – the letter he read had told of his demise to Beastmen – or how his own dreg had been caught and hung. What was his name again?
Movement in the darkness. The old, hideous man’s eyes opened wide, trying to better see through the thick night veil. A sound, a moan. Natural, perfectly natural. Any who had tasted death never felt well when life claimed them back. Though never fully lost in Morr’s insidious cage, he had touched the outside walls, more than once.
He dropped his book, pages breaking and crumbling upon impact with the ground. It was no matter, as the book was beyond its purpose. The necromancer walked over to the noise, moving besides his beloved.
“Speak… Ada.” He had spoken her name, surely now she would-
“Hyack. Hyaaack!” The woman coughed up dust and spittle, showing the dark wizard’s face. The room lit up once again to dim, and for a moment she was as lovely as ever. Then her jaw slacked ever so slightly. Her eyes glimmered with something pitiful, and her tongue rolled out. Mindless, hideous, zombie. It was not Ada.
A harsh scream pierced the night.
“Who’s there?” The young woman turned about, seeing nothing in the night.
“There is nothing to fear. I am… a friend.”
“A friend would show his face. What do you want of me?”
The necromancer, covered in a dark, grey cloaked stepped into view, its gnarled, sickly arm reached out for her. “I have wanted you, longer than you know. Please… come with me.” Spoken form his heart, she would understand.
“What? No, I do not walk with strangers, less alone ones who conceal themselves. Excuse me, but I’ll-”
“No!” He shook his head. “No, please. You do not understand. You see, I am no stranger. Have you not felt eyes upon you from afar? Have you not felt my feelings for you as you slept? Surely you know me, do you not?”
The woman looked down upon the huddling mass gazing up at her. “What is your name?”
“I… have many names. Such things matter not. You could go by any of a thousand names and you would still be you. Can you not trust me? Please… the night is waning and the light will be upon us.”
“The light? The light… no. I know who you are.” The woman backed up, her heels finding the side of the bridge. “You are the necromancer Reinstaff! Leave now before I call the guards. Guards!”
“No!” The necromancer reached for her, hoping to cover her mouth and calm her troubled heart. As he moved forward, she stepped back, only to find air falling not but ten feet to the dry creek bed below without another word. He looked over the edge to see her body lying on the ground, her neck twisted awkwardly. “Ada? Ada?”
Sweat beading on his borrow, Korhelion staggers backwards, the clash of black Zhar Naggrund metal against the true-silver hide of his shield. The sun blazes above the rocky shore, the crashing of waves mingling with the screams of the dying and the screeching of carrion birds.
He steps aside, his opponent taken by surprise by the lateral movement, and the shining steel of his longsword darts forward, fixing the stunted fiend through the neck, beneath layers of black curling beard. The blade flickers back out, like a serpent’s tongue, as it barely parries a blow from another abomination.
The blow jars his arm, and he grits his teeth. The sting of salt makes him wince as the sweat trickles into his eye. Another strike misses his head, but slices through the delicate plumes of his helmet. Blood flecks his face, the blood of enemies and friends.
Beside him, Allarion is caught off-guard as a black armoured Chaos Dwarf brings his axe down through the warrior’s spear, shattering the haft and ending the Elf in a mess of gore. Arterial blood jets onto Korhelion’s shield, glistening bright crimson. Shimmering scales of star-metal litter the ground, mingling with the blood and bodies. With a roar Korhelion assails the Chaos Dwarf champion, his lightning fast blows denting and gouging the mage-forged armour, and the blue steel blade finally slicing through, evading the clumsy axe the brute wields, and sinking deep into his belly.
The snarling of wolves alerts Korhelion to a new danger. A sonorous tone of Imladrik’s horn is heard from far behind the Elven line, perhaps the Silver Helms have rallied, but they are no longer in the battle. Korhelion’s regiment is alone in a sea of foes.
As each elf dies, the enemy pays a bloody toll. But the foes are more numerous and the lines have shifted. The tension what remains of the battle-line is like a bow about to snap, the stress of the battle is overcoming his stalwart charges.
Feandril, the banner bearer, perishes to the black-armoured dwarf, and the battle-line steps back from this rampant creature. Several elves stumble as they retreat back, pushing back against their comrades behind them. Evil green skinned cowards wielding two curved knives leap forth and despatch those who are too slow to retreat behind the shield wall. More hobgoblins mounted on slavering wolves assail the flank of the spears, seeking to encircle the warriors of Ulthuan.
As the red-armoured Immortals of the Chaos Dwarves push forward inexorably, Korhelion steels his heart, whispers a prayer to Asuryan and commends his warriors to the gods, with a screamed command leads the counter-charge.
A screeching noise catches Korhelion’s attention as his comrades join his forlorn hope. A whistling shell from one of the Chaos Dwarf war machines lands squarely in front of him and all is deafening noise and white light.
Kithre Seablaze surveyed the scene of carnage on what was to have been an easily secured beachhead from the back of his soaring dragon, Kaldrachnir. Despite the desperate defence of Korhelion’s elite warriors, the line of battle had broken, and from a force of nearly three-hundred warriors, barely a fifth made it back to the boats. His relief force had arrived too late and only caught the looting hobgoblin filth desecrating the bodies of the fallen. The brave warriors had died not knowing that their allies were barely hours away.
Even the Eagleship “Vengeance of Sayana” was a smoking wreck, having been hit by flaming missiles from the infernal Chaso Dwarf machines, and was being towed by the mighty Dragonship “Kalganos”.
He would have to return to the Fortress of Dawn bearing ill tidings, the elves had underestimated their bitter enemies, and now his own soldiers had paid the price with their blood. He had failed both them and Ulthuan, and swore it would be for the last time …
Last edited by kithre; March 5th, 2011 at 17:15.
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Okay, let's kick this thing off!
Daelrog: Really like the concept (a necromancer, in love! Why does this remind me of my own life somehow... Is it the utter hopelessness? ), and I felt that you carried it through and stuck with it rather than dropping it halfway through like some would with that. There were a few grammar/spelling errors, not many, just reread it a little more. I was a little confused though, after the scream where she's raised as a zombie, it goes back a few days/hours/weeks? and it shows him in an earlier attempt, but it was never really explained properly. I think you should have added a little: "3 Days Earlier..." and just made it a little clearer. You put a lot of words (and 1000 isn't many to work with) into the raising the zombie incantation, using them to describe the later events would have been a little wiser I think. But otherwise, an enjoyable, original and humourous entry.
Kithre: Chaos Dwarfs! Haven't heard from these guys in ages! Good of you to work with something a little different. You followed the "failure" theme a little bit more like I imagined most would, nothing necessarily wrong with that. I have no major qualms with your entry, but I felt that it could have been made a little bit more personal/original, your entry could be summed up as "two armies fight, people die, one side wins, the other loses". No problems with spelling and grammar. Battle scenes were good, not the easiest thing to do so I commend you on that, I had no problems visually what you were trying to present.
Hard to give scores, both entries are very different...
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?
Daelrog: The concept it good and like Cannibal God said you approuched this whole thing in a way not a lot of us probably did. You also portray a side of necromancers that we tend to forget. Regular people who delve into the Dark Arts to save either themselves, or in this case, someone they love. A very touching idea and i see no fault in it.
Acually, i didn't understand what happened there in the middle before i read Cannibal Gods comment. It was unclear (least for my part) and you could have tried to clear that whole thing up. Otherwise, like always, real quality in your work both with words and concept.
Kithre: First of all, "Kithre Seablaze surveyed the scene of carnage" now why does that first name ring a bell?
But to more pressing matters. Its a good story no doubt with a clear red thread and a more standard entry which i was expecting. You did however make the combat vivid and i could really feel and see what was happening. Writing a good fight scene is hard and i praise you for doing a fine job on it.
Doing Chaos Dwarves as the enemy was very good since we rarely see those little buggers ^^
Gah both are good...
Kithre 4/4 I cant give you anything less. It was above average but didn't reach the top most.
Daelrog 4/4 I was going to give you a 3 but then i re-read it i paced the story and dialoge a little different. It took me two times to really feel the story and when i had read it the second time...i cant give you anything but a 4.
Good job both of you!
Very good overall. Perhaps a little too good?
But like the others said, it's not that easy to understand what's going on with the scene shift, and I think it somehow doesn't have quite as much sparkle as your previous entries, so it's a 4/5 from me.
Kithre: Good, but not great.
It felt average to me. Army A fights army B, army B wins. I think that suddenly throwing in the name out of nowhere does you no favours, so there's no time to connnect with the characters. 3/5 - Good, but nothing stands out.
The story opens strongly. I seemed to develop a sympathetic feeling towards Reinstaff's plight, at first. But in the second half, after Ada wakes, I seemed to lose that and begin seeing him as the creepy stalker that he is! Whether you intended that or not I don't know, but that's how I saw things.
Well, this is a pretty solid entry. I like the imagery at the start, the way you've described the battle. Not really much more to say about it than that, I guess...
So, how do I separate these two? They're both quite good... Perhaps the fact that I lost empathy for Daelrog's character is going to sway my vote, as I kind of feel the necromancer deserved to fail for being creepy about things...
Whereas Kithre's piece, while short... I dunno. Just seems to maintain the sense of failure a little better, in my eyes, so I'm going to have to give that one the advantage.
Daelrog - 3/5
Kithre - 4/5