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Sedgr
Sep 16, 2007

Neat!



Is anyone else a little shocked? I just watched a man rush into the dome, trip over a rock, and fall on his own blade. It's days and days until submission time and the Thunderdome already has a man laying on the sand screaming, just waiting to be put out of his misery.

Someone have pity on the poor fool and slit his throat.

It was just so senseless and avoidable. I can only hope the dome shows mercy and grants him a quick death.

Better that than being left on the ground bleeding just to eventually be torn apart by the ravenous horde.

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Sedgr
Sep 16, 2007

Neat!



Chairchucker posted:

Submit early and often, isn't that the theory? In the end it's probably not much different than what I usually do, which is wait until the deadline and then suddenly mash my keyboard.

My understanding was that the best thing to do in the dome is to keep working until the last possible moment. Submitting early gains you nothing, while taking extra time to chip away the rough edges can help a piece improve dramatically.

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

He swaggers in talking big, yet has never spilled his blood in the sand and does not sign up himself. I'm in a Ben Franklin mood, so here's my offer:

There was no swagger or big talk in that Judge. Even a mere dome spectator can see pain about to be inflicted and feel a little pity. Or is the dome to be a silent arena? With no gathered crowds to leer at the sport? Can a man truly leave the dome victorious if no one is able to cheer his name? Do the losers die for nothing? If no one sees them fall, and we can not speak of their deaths, the waste seems monumental.

Thunderdome is literary gladiatorial combat. The participants may pit themselves in battle, and the Judges decide who lives and who dies, but without the spectators there is no show. We are all complicit in this violence. It binds us as a society.

If you wish to add my name to the rolls, I will come and spill my blood and die among the others. But that means you must read what I write and that is the greater punishment I think.

A crowd that fears they may be dragged onto the field of battle for voicing their opinion is a crowd that is silent. And that would be the greatest Thunderdome death of all.

I would be but another body lost in the heap of corpses.

The choice is yours Judge. I will enter the dome this once if you demand it.

PM me your decision if you can please. I'm away tomorrow so I may miss in thread replies.

Sedgr
Sep 16, 2007

Neat!



Well, the Judge PM'd me and demanded that I post something in the dome, so here I am. What I ended up with was far longer than the 1500 word limit, closer to the 2500 mark. I edited it down some and got it to just under 1800 but I don't think I'll have time tonight to re-edit and drop it to 1500. I'm OK with how it ended up but its got some flaws. Oh well, my death in the dome was expected.

---------------------------
Arena - 1798 words.

The stone wall of the cell was uncomfortable as Rouald crouched against it. His clothing was torn and bloodied, rendered little better than rags by his days inside the cell. The other prisoners stood and talked amongst themselves but Rouald avoided them as best he could.

Moments ago he had said goodbye to his wife. It had cost far too much to bribe the guards for a chance to speak with her even briefly, but it had been worth it to see her one last time. He had convinced Olivia to sell their stock of exotic animals and leave. They had wept as they parted, but she would be safe at least. They had friends in the north who would take her in, and enough coin for her to live there comfortably for a long while.

Rouald knew his own fate. Death awaited him in the arena. There would be no chance of survival. Sending her away was for the best. He didn't want her to watch him die.

As he brooded a very thin prisoner walked over and sat down next to him against the wall.

“I guess that makes you and I partners.” the man said.

Rouald turned toward the man, his eyebrow raised in curiosity. An offer of partnership was not what he had been expecting.

The man continued, “Naturally you are confused. You were not present when the guards announced the part we will play in today's arena.”

Rouald responded quietly, “I was saying goodbye to my wife.”

“Ah.” said the man. “Then that explains your temporary absence. But since we will be partners I shall endeavor to explain the situation. You may call me Patrice. You are Rouald, yes?”

The mans speech and fine clothes marked him as a nobleman but still Rouald feared some kind of ploy. The man had the look of a trickster, but there seemed little harm in listening.

“That's right.” Rouald wondered for a moment if he had met the man before. If so, he didn't remember him. “Maybe you should tell me what I missed.”

Patrice began again, “Yes, of course. While you were bidding fondest farewells to your undoubtedly lovely wife, the guards announced that we criminals are to be chained in pairs and sent to battle a horde of slaves within the arena above.”

Rouald's brow furrowed at the news as he glanced around the room. He hadn't noticed it when he returned but it was clear that many of the men were standing in pairs where they had not been before.

Patrice said, “You have the look of a warrior to me and I should think that will be to our benefit. A man of experience who has held a sword and shield and defeated great foes.”

“I am a merchant.” Rouald replied more harshly than he meant. Patrice's eyes widened slightly at the force of the reply. Rouald continued more softly, “I was part of the kings guard many years ago, but I left that life behind. I am a merchant of exotic animals now.”

“Ah.” Patrice said understandingly. “You worked hard and rose above your station. I meant no offense. I only wished to say that you have the look of a fighter. I am not gifted in the arts of combat and finding myself paired with a man that appeared to have some skill struck me as good fortune.”

Patrice spoke the truth. A stiff west wind would probably knock the man down. And while his clothing was of the finest quality, it could not cover the frailty of the man contained within.

“It's alright.” Rouald sighed. “Not your fault you stumbled onto a sore subject. Many who knew me as a guard still treat me as such. I had hoped to have earned their respect by now.”

“Well let me return to the subject at hand and direct conversation away from my indelicate comment. As I was saying, upon the guards announcement the other men began to sort out who would be chained to whom, and within a short span of time all but I were partnered. I feared that I would be forced to fight alone, until you returned and made our partnership obvious.”

Rouald frowned and looked around the room again. Being chained to a man the others had all passed over seemed like a poor fate but the arena was a death sentence regardless. It seemed he had little choice.

“Worry not,” Patrice continued, “to be honest I chose to avoid the others as much as they chose to avoid me. Murderers and thieves that lot.” He whispered the last so as not to raise the ire of those same murderers and thieves.

For a moment Rouald's mind drifted back to Olivia. Her shining smile and sweet embrace. He frowned deeply knowing he would never see her again.

“Your thoughts grow dark my friend.” Patrice said, noticing Rouald's frown.

“You know me so well?” Rouald said sarcastically. “Until a moment ago you thought I was a great warrior.”

“I know you better than you think.” Patrice replied. “While the others strutted and growled like a pack of dogs you remained silent and alone. Only a man with a conscience would be so heartbroken at his coming demise. The others go to it with almost wild abandon. As if they always knew this would be their fate.”

The cell's gate groaned as several guards in steel plate entered with two rough wooden tables and an assortment of shackles and equipment.

One of the guards called out “All criminals line up two by two. Chains and shackles to be affixed at the first table. Choose your weapon at the second. Any who refuse will die where they stand. Any who resist will die where they stand. Any who choose a weapon and start trouble will be taken alive! But only so that they may be fed to the King's beasts kicking and screaming!”

It was a practiced speech, but it had the proper effect. The King's bestiary was known to feast on slaves and criminals who made such trouble, and it was rumored he was adding dragons to his collection.

Rouald knew those rumors were untrue. It was his job to know. There were no such things as dragons. But the other men did not have his experience and dragons or no, being torn apart by beasts would be a terrible end regardless. The men began to line up, two by two.

“So it begins.” Patrice said. His voice was emotionless but his face showed his fear clearly.

Rouald changed the subject quickly. If he was going to be chained to this man he didn’t need him freezing up from overwhelming terror.

As they stood and fell into line with the others Rouald said, “Best not to think about the coming battle. Focus on something else. You said you avoided the others because of their crimes? But we are all criminals here. Are you claiming innocence?”

“No.” Patrice answered sadly. “Though my crime is a far lesser one I think.”

“What did you do?” Rouald asked.

“The story is complex, but I shall not regale you with my tale of misbegotten woe. Suffice to say I fell in love with a ferocious woman and she with me.”

Rouald thought of his wife again but pushed the memory aside. “That doesn’t seem like a crime.”

“Alas if that were the end of the tale you would be right,” said Patrice, “but the woman had a husband who was equally ferocious.”

“Oh, I see.” said Rouald, “So they threw you down here.”

“Yes.” Patrice said quietly. “Though honestly it was my choice to come. They gave me the option of the gallows but I thought the hangman’s noose a far worse fate. An honorable death in the arena seemed preferable.”

The line of men moved along and soon they were at the first table. Chains and shackles were affixed to their ankles, the iron uncomfortable and encumbering. They shuffled their way to the next table where an array of weapons had been laid out.

The guard at the table wore a large steel helm which muffled his voice as he told them to choose.

“I shall leave the choice to you my friend. You have the greater experience.” Patrice said while carefully looking over the weapons displayed. “Perhaps the spear? It would give some distance at least.”

“No,” Rouald responded, “the spear requires training.”

He looked over the weapons briefly. There would be no perfect choice for a weak man that had never known combat, but eventually he decided upon a simple mace. Picking it up off the table he handed it to Patrice who grunted at its weight. For himself he chose a short sword similar to what he had used in his guarding days.

“A fine choice.” Patrice said admiring the sword. “Though I wonder what you expect me to do with this?” He swung the mace slowly, clearly imagining himself in battle.

“A mace is a simple weapon, “ explained Rouald, “but it will ruin anyone that isn't wearing armor. Just aim for the body, and try not to lose your balance.”

“As good a lesson as one can expect in these dire circumstances I'm sure.” Patrice said nodding his head in thanks. He continued, “It occurs to me that while I spoke of my crime you did not speak of yours. How did you end up facing the arena? A merchant is a respectable man. A merchant of exotic creatures, in this kingdom, doubly so. Did you cheat someone so badly they felt compelled to sentence you to death?”

“No.” Rouald said. “I made a mistake.”

They took several more shuffling steps forward. The guard at the cell gate opened it to let them through into a large stone tunnel that sloped gently up to the sands of arena itself.

“And that mistake?” Patrice prodded.

Rouald turned as he heard the faint cries of battle and the tunnel's heavy iron gate being lifted. The guards shouted for them to go.

“I spoke the truth to a king who didn't wish to hear it.” Rouald answered, readying himself for battle. “Bloody dragons!” he added with a snort.

Patrice surprised him with a smile and said, “Ah, the truth, the greatest crime of all. The King always was the prickly sort!”

They began their shuffling march towards the light of the arena above.
----------------------------

Sedgr
Sep 16, 2007

Neat!



Submitted.

Sedgr
Sep 16, 2007

Neat!



Are you still intending to post your notes Capntastic? I know you said you took some earlier when you were reviewing and you were going to go over the corpses later. I always like reading the tear downs but there were what, twenty-something entries? Makes it a lot of work even just to post notes so it's understandable if you aren't going to bother.

Sedgr
Sep 16, 2007

Neat!



I don't know what happened that earned us this warning so I'm just confused by it. I'm guessing it's a result of the message not being aimed at me. But just in case, is the usual Thunderdome poo poo talking of the submitted works going to be seen as causing drama? I'll be somewhat disappointed if the dome is supposed to go all nice and friendly input only.

Like I said though I think I've just missed out on the whole drama thing entirely and therefore my interpretation of the warning is suspect at best.

Also, I actually kind of enjoyed writing a little something for a previous dome so I think I'll go ahead and say I'm in this week.

(USER WAS PUT ON PROBATION FOR THIS POST)

Sedgr
Sep 16, 2007

Neat!



Went a touch long but better than nothing. Probably took the prompt a little overly literal as well. Seems like it would be better as part of a longer piece.

------------------------
Duel (1080 words)
------------------------

Corman drew his blade, careful of its razor edge, as he threw himself backwards barely avoiding the deadly sweep of Renault's two handed great-sword.

“You never should have challenged me boy,” Renault said as he fell into an aggressive posture.

Corman grimaced and held his sabre at the ready, its polished mirror finish shone in the dim morning light. His armor was heavy but comfortable in its familiarity.

Renault was probably right. He shouldn't have challenged him. As one of the Great Captains, Renault's skill almost legendary. And standing before Corman, in gleaming plate and mail, wielding that huge great-sword, he looked every bit the part.

But it was too late to back out now. The challenge had been issued. The ancient laws could not be ignored. Sweat dripped down Corman's brow and stung his eyes. He knew he was unlikely to survive this.

Renault rushed him, an avalanche of steel, the flurry of blows meant to wear down Corman's strength. Each strike from Renault's heavy blade sent a shock up his arms as he blocked the attacks. He fell back, catching his breath, the ringing of the swords echoing in his ears.

The men of the camp had gathered around them, though they remained silent. Dueling officers were something that a soldier avoided if he wanted to live very long. But still curiosity drew them in. They formed a loose circle around the two combatants.

The men were exhausted. They had held out for days in this small pass, barely keeping from being overrun. Much longer and there would be no one left alive.

It had been a mistake to follow Renault here. The man was consumed with revenge. Attacking an enemy ten times their number to avenge his fallen brother had been foolhardy to say the least. They had paid dearly for Renault's vengeance, and finally been pushed back to this rocky pass. Another attack would break them.

Renault backed off, and lowered his blade, circling Corman like a lion would circle prey. His black eyes burned with a fevered rage. The quest for revenge consumed him, clouding his mind. Blinding him to the truth.

Corman held his blade in a guarded blocking position waiting for the next attack.

“Why? Why challenge me for command now? Why throw it all away?” Renault demanded.

“We shouldn't be here,” Corman answered. “We'll all die if we stay.”

He set his feet and leapt toward Renault with a thrusting jab trying to surprise him. Renault swept Corman's blade away with ease and spun in a countering attack that caught him on the thigh, drawing first blood. Corman limped back, the cut was painful but not mortal.

“It is my right. It is my command!” Renault shouted. He pointed at the surrounding men. “Their lives are mine to spend as I see fit. If I demand they die in battle, then they will die and thank me for the honor.” Renault flicked his blade, casting droplets of Corman's blood onto the dry earth at his feet.

“I have to save them if I can,” Corman said quietly.

“So you betray your oath and honor because suddenly the bloodshed is too much for you. You've never been so sentimental before. You've grown weak.” Renault spat onto the ground and shifted his stance swinging his large blade overhead. He moved toward Corman with lethal speed.

Corman dodged to the right as Renault's blade fell towards him, barely escaping the blow. The gash on his leg had slowed him. While Renault was off balance he brought his own blade around in a sweeping arc and knocked Renault's great-sword to the side. It wasn't much of an opening but Corman managed to slice the mail at Renault's elbow landing a minor wound. The Great Captain grunted from the pain before recovering and falling back defensively.

“It doesn't matter anymore,” Corman said. “Either I die and they are slaughtered, or I take command and save what I can. There's nothing else left.”

Corman stormed forward, the wound on his leg momentarily forgotten. Like a berserker he brought his blade down upon Renault's again and again, driving the man back. The wound on Renault's arm would make the great-sword difficult to wield. He must press the advantage. The hail of blows drove Renault to one knee and knocked one of his hands free of the grip.

Corman stepped in close to make the most of the opportunity trying to drive his blade down into the man's armor.

Too late he saw the flash of the dagger that Renault had drawn with his freed hand. Quick as a viper Renault stabbed him in the side, through a gap at the edge of his chest plate, burying the blade deep in his flesh.

“I told you,” Renault whispered, “you never should have challenged me.” He pulled the dagger free, it's blade coated in blood.

Corman fell to his knees, clutching his side, as Renault regained his footing and sheathed the dagger. Corman could feel his lifesblood begin to drain away. It had all happened so fast, over in an instant.

“Last words?” Renault asked, his face flushed from exertion, his voice still filled with anger.

“The men are safe now. That's all that ever mattered,” Corman said while trying to staunch the wound. Flecks of blood stained his lips as he spoke.

“They live or die as I command. You've saved no one,” Renault said, his eyes wild.

“Fellinger will lead them home,” Corman said faintly. Fellinger was third in command, a good man, he would remember his promise. Corman's blood ran through his fingers pooling on the ground below.

“No one else will dare challenge me,” Renault sneered.

Corman nodded towards his sword where it had fallen beside him. “Poisoned,” he whispered weakly.

Renault looked down at Corman's blade and then grabbed at the cut on his arm. Already thin tendrils of black snaked their way through his skin outward from the wound. The blood drained from his face. He wouldn't survive more than a few hours.

Corman smiled and closed his eyes as Renault growled lifting the great-sword high for the final blow. He heard the blade begin to fall but it seemed so far away. He could already feel death's sweet embrace.

The men would be saved. He had done his duty. Nothing else mattered.

The world went black.

----------THE END-----------

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Sedgr
Sep 16, 2007

Neat!



Wow, never even noticed that myself. I was thinking it was GMT-8. Now I'm glad I submitted a bit early. Could be a lot of people thinking it was US West Coast time and miss the deadline. Submit people! Submit while you can!

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