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  • Locked thread
Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

HELP! I'VE FAILED AND I CAN'T SUBMIT


Grimey Drawer

Thunderdome 2016teen: We Love Writing, We Hate Yours

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flerp
Feb 25, 2014


also i dont like anime

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why didn't you invest in
Thunderdome?


Thunderdome 2016teen: everyone failed

klapman
Aug 27, 2012

gamers rise up


Thunderdome 2016teen: Thousands of Words Worth Zero Pictures

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006



Yams Fan

Thunderdome is super. Writing to prompts and receiving harsh and honest crits is absolutely invaluable, please remain your bitter and insulting kayfabe selves in 2016 and I will do the same. Also everyone here is cool and you have all helped my writing so much this year, so thank you, dome. Also a confession: I hate anime.

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Anime is good/bad

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER



Sitting Here posted:

I'd like to take this opportunity to ask everyone's suggestions for the next thread. Can we clarify the OP in some way? Are there rules you want to see/currently hate? I will probably ignore your suggestions unless they're really good, but it's nice to know people care. We also need a thread title. My current favorite is Thunderdome 2016teen: Fast Writing, Bad Writing, but I'd love to hear other ideas.

Explain what a redemption story is maybe? I'm still not quite sure, but it comes up every so often.

Jagermonster
May 7, 2005

Hey - NIZE HAT!


Thunderdome 2016teen: gently caress PC Writing: The Real World is Cruel and Your Writing Should Show It

i spent way too long looking for that cache cab rant to find this quote

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Fuschia tude posted:

Explain what a redemption story is maybe? I'm still not quite sure, but it comes up every so often.

If you fail a week, you can turn your failure into a redemption by posting a story for that prompt in the active TD thread. There's no time limit. Somebody who failed Week 3 could post a story of cis privilege in Swaziland right now and redeem himself. The down side is the low chance of feedback, lower the longer you wait, but if you have a personal goal to get stuff written then a redemption story is worthwhile.

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe

Just wanted to say thank you to everyone for being my only favorite writing group. I'll be back in and on IRC as soon as the sun returns and I no longer yearn for death as soon as there's another meetup near me so I can go hang out with SH soon!

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

This would be a great time to go back through the thread and delete all your stories, BTW, once the thread is locked they are here for good and you won't be able to submit them anywhere.

HellishWhiskers
Mar 29, 2012

She was an awkward girl


Very often I come and look at the week's prompt and think "What the hell is this I'll never be able to write about this" but that's bullshit and I love you TD and I'll write a ton of bad words for you in the new year just you watch.

This is like one of the most anime places on SA outside of VEGETA, never change.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


HellishWhiskers posted:

This is like one of the most anime places on SA outside of VEGETA, never change.

i agree, it is very bad

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.




Week 177 Results

Alright, this was a tough week to judge. None of the stories were particularly offensive - even with the loss and DMs, judgechat felt more like nitpicking than really tearing anything apart. Ultimately we had to look at the basics: Is there a conflict, and does it have a satisfying resolution? Are the characters developed, with clear motivations? Was it entertaining to read?

Everything was done in judgemode and there were a few surprises when I turned it off, but honestly I am really pleased with how everyone tackled this prompt. So without further ado:

Honorable Mentions go to:

Fumblemouse - Inland Dreaming for a story with a great hook that kept us intrigued, some nice character development, a clear-cut conflict / resolution, and a nice eye for detail. This was a cool way to approach the prompt and it did a good job of creating dramatic tension.

Kaishai - Mermen in Time of Plague for a story with a really fun, breezy tone, strong prose that did a great job of painting a picture, and a good eye for clarity that pays off in the more action-oriented scenes. This story was probably most in the spirit of the prompt, and it was a strong contender for the win. Good, thematic conflict and characters with realistic internal motivations - this is a good example of how to do a light-hearted story without sacrificing on the elements that make a good story.

Djeser - The Wettest Magic I will admit that at first, I wasn't as hot on this story as my wonderful co-judge spectres. But this was his favorite story of the week, and after re-reading it, it is a lot of fun. Yeah it kinda relies on some in-joke knowledge, but if there's any prompt to do that in, it's this one. The prose is strong, there's a great frenetic energy that kept us reading and smiling, and there's still a central conflict at the heart of everything. Overall it was a good, charming piece that takes the prompt and runs with it.


Dishonorable Mentions go to:

Thranguy - When You Can't Even - This was one of several joke entries, but there just isn't enough meat on its bones to put it on the same level as this week's mid-pile. There is a conflict, but we don't know the why of it until the very end. There's a motivation, but again, it's only a motivation because you tell us it is. He wants to get buff, but why? We find out he wants to seduce the narrator at the end, but you play those cards so close to your chest for so much of the story that I don't really get a chance to connect to the characters or care about the stakes. Still, it's not terrible - the fact that there is an actual conflict and a developed arc puts it above a lot of stories in many other weeks, and in terms of pacing and mechanics, nothing stuck out.

RedTonic - No Refunds or Exchanges (A Merry Buttmas Tale) - This was another story that is far from terrible, but just had a few structural issues that ended up dragging it down. The biggest issue is that you kind of focus on the less interesting conflict - buying the bidet is good for a brief moment of comedy, but it's hard to get invested in it as a central conflict when the stakes are basically nonexistent, and two of the characters basically dismiss it out of hand within the story itself. The sexual tension / relationship angle is much more compelling, but it gets pushed into the background until the end and then resolved with basically no challenge to any of the characters. The dialogue is also really stilted - people just don't talk like that, and when the characters end up essentially laying out and resolving the conflict in a couple lines of dialogue, it just fizzles. Your prose is good, and there are some good bits here that point to a much stronger potential story, should you ever choose to revisit it.

The Loser for this week was a very tough pick. Spectres and I went back and forth for a long time and ultimately settled on Bad Seafood - Christmas Rush. Out of all the stories this week, this is the only one where we had to stretch to see the prompt. The ornament's jacket shows up in the story, but it kinda feels tacked on - aside from a line or two of minor characterization, you could remove the prompt element from this story entirely and it wouldn't really change anything in a meaningful way. This was a tough pick because you definitely did some things right - your characters have distinct voices and believable dialogue, and your prose is snappy and clear and mechanically well-polished. But the characters are also very one-dimensional - only one character gets even a little development, and their motivations are basically just "get paid," and while you've got a conflict and some action, it all feels very perfunctory, like it exists solely in service of that final pun, which ends up feeling very unsatisfying.

Which leads us, at last, to our Winner:

Entenzahn takes the crown this week with An Empty Shell, which really did a great job of meshing the goofy prompt trappings with a very somber, almost Southern Gothic narrative / style in a way that ends up highlighting the best parts of each. Both judges really liked the way you baked a strong voice into this story, and there are lots of great little details and bits of character development that you convey through subtle thoughts and actions, which ends up making the conflict feel very layered and human and relateable. This story also had a really nice cadence to it, which is something a lot of people don't really think about while they are writing, but stands out a lot when a judge is reading it. Writing a serious story for merman week is always a risk, but it seems to pay off for you!

Thank you to everyone for writing stories this week - I really do mean it when I say this was a really fun week to read, and even the bottom pile would have easily escaped negative mention in a bigger week - nothing evoked a reaction worse than "meh," which is pretty drat good in my book. I'll have crits up sooner or later, and anyone is free to hit me up on irc to talk their story over or whatever. See you next year, domers!

The throne is yours, Ent.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Grizzled Patriarch posted:

The Loser for this week was a very tough pick. Spectres and I went back and forth for a long time and ultimately settled on Bad Seafood - Christmas Rush.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=po77bJk1DdI

Kenshiro is GP, random mook is me.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

I like td but I hate all the people in it

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why didn't you invest in
Thunderdome?


Thunderdome Week CLXXVIII: I’m not mad, just disappointed

New Year’s resolutions are kind of bullshit if you think about it. Because you try, you really do, but how the gently caress were you supposed to know that your knee would start tickling occasionally after your first week of jogging, and then your doc tells you to go on the elliptical instead if you’re really that worried, but there’s only one gym in the area and Barry goes there and he’s a DICK and getting an elliptical yourself is goddamn expensive and also where the hell are you supposed to put that thing? There's just no space in the basement. Is that your fault? No. It’s not.

You will write about promises this week. Actually, gently caress, no, wait, hold on, wait wait WAIT! You will write about characters who are in some way affected by some kind of promise. Maybe they made one, or maybe they’re relying on one or maybe you have a better idea, which by the way is not a challenge for the love of god please don’t get cute with the prompt unless you’re 100% sure what you’re doing I just want to read a nice story. ONE NICE STORY that’s all I’m asking for.

Also this is a good time to reflect on your past misdeeds, so I will give 150 bonus words to anyone who crits a story of their own, preferably one that’s at least a month back. Dig out those oldies and laugh at yourself, or find out just what went wrong with Let’s Get hosed up on Love week. If this is your first time doing TD I’ll give you the 150 words for free in commemoration of your terrible life choices, but you’re still welcome to crit someone else if you feel like it. Try it! It’s fun to yell at people.

Words: 1400
Sign-ups: Friday, 1st Jan 2016, 23.59 PST
Submissions: Sunday, 3rd Jan 2016, 23.59 PST

Judges:
Entenzahn
Broenheim
A distant memory of bad advice

Promising writers:
jon joe
docbeard
klapman
Grizzled Patriarch
Ceighk
kurona_bright
Thranguy
Bad Seafood
Wangless Wonder
Ironic Twist
Sitting Here
Killer-of-Lawyers
unwantedplatypus

Entenzahn fucked around with this message at Jan 2, 2016 around 07:51

Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

HELP! I'VE FAILED AND I CAN'T SUBMIT


Grimey Drawer

The proper thing to do would be to sign up this week and fail.

In, though.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

High marks for compassion, low marks for survival skills





I've got a tenth of an idea, a long weekend, and my last entry's eleventh-hour mediocrity to claw my way back from.

Hit it.

klapman
Aug 27, 2012

gamers rise up


i've finally scrabbled my way to the desert of mediocrity and you bet your rear end i'm IN

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.




This sounds fun. In.

Ceighk
May 27, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

IN

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


im a judge

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.


Thunderdome has shown me that writing erotica is the only way to get paid.

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly


Dudes who were brawling for me, don't forget. Tomorrow night.

kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013


I'm in.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

'Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.' -Samuel Johnson

Ring in the new.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


In.

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011



things

intro: these are just my dumb gay opinions and i had fun reading these

Man out of Air

i liked the way you subverted the prompt, first of all. p creative but ultimately the setup was more interesting than the story you decided to tell with it, at least imo. the problem with setting up the "the protag needs to get over someone" arc is that ultimately the arc will always end in them getting over the someone. so for that reason that didnt work especially well for me but i did appreciate there was an arc there.

at one point you did the "x character always said that i react in y situations like z" thing which felt kind of like exposition tho i appreciate your effort to develop the character.

Sea Legs

so i liked the setup of this story, but like the first it told a story that wasnt esp compelling to me. what you did was take a goofy concept and tried to use it to tell a serious story about family. thats an ok idea but the problem was that none of the family members got any development at all. the only development is that the sister defends the kid from bullying (cliche) and the dad and the son went fishing (isnt this stealing whale food?). i wasnt even sure what the moms deal was or if she even had a job. i hope she did because she was encouraging the dad to quit and they were raising 2 kids. ultimately i didnt really understand the family that the dad was willing to sacrifice the whales for.

the house foreshadowing jumped rite in my face and yelled "im foreshadowing!" ultimately i wasnt psyched to get to the house buying scene at the end of the story.

that being said, it had an arc and no loose ends or confusion, so yay.

The Fool

i liked this story, i would give it like a high mid rating. the opening has clever wordplay and i got shakespeareian fool archetypey type vibes. you either lucked out with your prompt or just really made it work because i liked the juxtaposition of this feel with the whole merman thing. unfortunately as the story progressed it kind of slid into different territory; the jokes got a bit, idk, less shakespearey and more krusty the klowny. at the end we meet the two genies who are a rebellious son and his overbearing dad. these characters hamstrung the story imo, but i thought the fools arc was compelling tension wise and i did end up pulling for him.

When You Cant Even

A Rock Falls to the Bottom If You Can't Catch It

i appreciated this piece, another attempt to get serious. unfortunately these characters didnt feel like, incredibly well defined? the girl communicated her emotional state thru smiling and that was about it. the merman sort of stopped being an individual after the first paragraph and became more of a reactionary device for the girls attempts to go swimming. some minor points follow:

who lets a girl go wandering around the edge of a cliff unsupervised?

what was the significance of passing and repassing the gift rock back and forth? it made for some repetitive action and dialogue.

at one point you said that the girls hand was "soft and warm like sand." i get that hes a merman but surely you can do better.

i get that the merman wants to spend more time with the girl, but shouldnt he know better than to suggest more swimming?

still the prose was solid and it was tense when it looked like the girl was about to drown so it was def a mid anyway.

Mer-Murder Most Mysterious

should have been "mer-der most mysterious" imo.

yeah ok so im not going to comment seriously on a story w a stealth dildo attack, but it was p funny sometimes. tbh i wasnt really following the intricacies of the plot or character motivations so if you wanted that to happen it didnt really for me. once the dildo was introduced i shut off the part of my brain that tried to keep track of important plot details.

laughed a couple times, gj

No Refunds or Exchanges (A Merry Buttmas Tale)

k so this was p much tailored for me not to especially like it. mostly this is because of a lot of facts about bidets which are not super interesting. but the main problem is that this element was supported by a coming out/confession of love/whatever story that didn't feel that authentic or compelling. like will she realize shes made out with her friend? will she confess her deep feelings? will her friend be into her? the answers to all of these questions were obviously yes and id use the word inevitable to further describe my reading experience. it was supported by not very realistic dialogue, which was esp egregious when the moment of truth arrived.

it was a story, about characters, with ok writing, but i just wasnt that into it.

Inland Dreaming

baller opening paragraph.

this story was cool because it wasnt about mermen until the end, but the tone felt right so that wasnt a huge deal. a lot of elements felt like you were just knocking the irish idea out of the way so you could focus on the actual story, and you were inviting me to do the same. it worked because the original prompt was mermen anyway and the story at its core was compelling and even a little deep. it was supported by prose that i really liked; the bus drowning scene was really vivid and chilling.

i kind of wanted to understand the ending more (because i really didnt) but i really enjoyed reading this and had no problem waffling around different interpretations in my head afterwards.

Just Like Riding an Underwater Bicycle

this was a joke story i guess, but i thought it was the funniest. good take on the prompt, and idk it was funny? im not going to technically analyze why.

could have used slightly better formatting when the cabin crew lady was talking up a storm

An Empty Shell

this was really good. first paragraph established backstory and motivation in an effective way. then you settled into this comfortable style with all these rhythms and cadences and stuff that made me feel like i was in the old south or something. you kept me constantly aware that they were mermen and that this was an underwater farm. that felt really ambitious and i thought it was pulled off perfectly. "He took her to watch the seahorses out on the field, watch them whinny and frolic, shimmering pink question marks against a deep blue horizon," would be a good example of these two tones contrasting beautifully together in a single sentence.

the actual story was some total literary thing where the main character has to come to grips with his ghosts and move on from a dead place. i was really feeling it and felt somber by the end. v cool considering the nature of the prompt.

Mermen in Time of Plague

ok so in my head while i was reading this i was thinking of those "i felt good about doing a good thing for my community" stories. those are gr8 and so was this. this wasnt a high literary artistic contrast like the last one, but it was a good job of matching tone to prompt. dude just goes around solving problems with his fists and at the end theres... sparkling merman romance. thats better than the non sparkling kind, anyway. the writing conveyed the action clearly and effectively, so i just kind of grooved along watching this 80s dude save the world and when it was over i felt good about my reading experience.

Christmas Rush

ok so the intro was awkward. it worked as a setup technically but the transition into the actual story was so abrupt that it seemed like bruce decided to move straight to major felonies while he was walking out thru the voidmart doors. in the end i wasnt left feeling any sense of need.

my big problem (besides autism) is that you creatively stretched the prompt, but only for a p generic heist story and the final result was just a pun. like gp said, these chars are only in it to get paid, and in the end i wasnt really rooting for them because they were just stereotypes.

ending the story in a pun kind of gave the impression your whole story was just a setup for a joke also.

The Wettest Magic

this was a solid prompt/tone combo that hit me right in the goofy feels. like gp said, i liked this one a lot. there was a lot of detail in the writing but none of it felt intrusive because it all added to stephanies character and her world. the arc was really well written, i had no trouble following her from decision to decision. the end result was that i was basically seeing the huge monster she ended up summoning from behind her eyes, which made it tense, not in the sense that i thought she would die or anything in a story this goofy, but in the sense that i really wanted her to overcome her trial and prove that she could witch it up eventually.

interesting trivia: the dude who showed up at the end is the second character this week to have frosted tip hair, the other one being the doctor in "Mermen in the Time of Plague."

Party Planning

ok so i read this one last and it was really hard to form an opinion on it. i think you hit whatever tone or feeling you were going for, but it was really hard to connect with a character who wilfully tries to be a dick at every opportunity. i mean i guess i was supposed to root for his downfall, but i didnt really. i kind of just wanted him to go away.

the ending of the story did not make me feel good about his arc or whatever and i think i was looking for that on christmas week. i cant call the writing bad tho, it was p effective.

take the moon fucked around with this message at Dec 30, 2015 around 06:18

Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

HELP! I'VE FAILED AND I CAN'T SUBMIT


Grimey Drawer

Thanks for your dumb gay opinions

POOL IS CLOSED
Jul 14, 2011

I'm just exploding with mackerel. This is the aji wo kutta of my discontent.


Pillbug

Thanks for the crit, spectres!

klapman
Aug 27, 2012

gamers rise up


Thanks for the crit, spectres. You can thank Sitting Here for the first half of the story not being the fight with the squid

Wangless Wonder
May 27, 2009


im in

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER



Kaishai posted:

If you fail a week, you can turn your failure into a redemption by posting a story for that prompt in the active TD thread. There's no time limit. Somebody who failed Week 3 could post a story of cis privilege in Swaziland right now and redeem himself. The down side is the low chance of feedback, lower the longer you wait, but if you have a personal goal to get stuff written then a redemption story is worthwhile.

Thanks!

your postthe OP

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Kaishai posted:


sebmojo vs. Benny Profane: O Christmas Tree


In compliance with an agreement between the relevant parties, the deadline for this brawl is now Sunday, January 3, 11:59pm USA Central Standard Time.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


HAPPY NEW YEARS BLUNDERDOME

I'm offering 10 in-depth crits (not line-by-lines sorry), quote this w/ your story, offer ends once its the new year in the real world (aka PST time)

klapman
Aug 27, 2012

gamers rise up


I got permission to crit one of my old high school stories from Entenzahn, so enjoy whatever this ends up being. I think it's been about four years since I wrote it.

The Lights (3318 Words lmao gently caress)

A Younger Klapman posted:


It was quiet there, nestled deep in the pockets of time between this world and the next. This is kinda neat, it makes me want to read more. Decent imagery. In the blackness, shafts of light played through eachother - a dark, velvety red slipped into a sharp blue, lending a violet glow to what little landscape still remained. Yeah, uh, cool, what're we doing though? In that place, a young man sat on a rock, staring confusedly at the lights above him. well im relating to your character at least

After a while, his eyes looked downward, towards his body. He flexed his hand into a fist, opened his palm to the light and watched the colors pour between his fingers, I thought the lights were above him marvelling at the clearest vision he had in years. Kids are known for their history. Like I remember what I do with this but it's still loving stupid kiddo Slowly, gingerly, he pushed himself off of the rock and onto the hard-packed dirt below. slowly, gingerly, he got to the loving point

He felt the dirt beneath his feet, and the young man smiled. He took a look around, finding only a small dirt field, with nothing beyond its edges save for the lights. He lowered himself, placing his open palm upon the dirt and digging his fingers in until he came up with a lump of clay. It’s not possible for clay to form in such a place, of course - but the young man had never cared about such things, and that day the universe gave in. he felt dirt. there was dirt there. dirt is fun. wait its clay and wow isnt that weird

The young man looked at the clay in his hands, the smile on his face growing ever wider as he twisted and pulled at the lump, forcing it to take any shape he desired. First a hill, then a small cave, perhaps a little dog - but then, he thought, wouldn’t it be more interesting if there was more clay to work with? So once more, the young man buried his fingers deep within the ground, this time coming up with more clay than he could ever use. This story is like an allegory's hangover.

He started small, at first. A little thing with four walls and a covering. ‘A house’, something whispered from deep within his mind. He smiled as the house came to completion. I thought he was building the house? Is it happening automatically or is he doing it? Stop being so loving fancy dude. But then, he thought, what kind of house just stands on its own? He looked at the mounds of clay stacked up next to him as the violet-drenched land slipped into a peculiar shade of gold. I'm sure this is meant to be a visual metaphor. I'm less sure what it means.

So he created little figures to live inside the house. One slept on the bed, his arm stretched out over his eyes - the figure was tired, the young man decided, and wouldn’t want the light coming through his window to disturb him. Another toiled at the opposite end of the house, busying herself with a kitchen full of pots and pans that needed cleaning. But that was boring too, he decided. There had to be something more to such a world besides a little hut!

Suddenly, he saw out of the corner of his eyes a flashing neon sign. "THIS IS A CREATION STORY." It said it in very large, flashing letters, also made of neon, that were on the neon sign. One of the letters was a velvety red, and it was all very interesting. It would have to be to justify so many paragraphs of something the reader's already figured out a long time ago. It's like I saw the opening crawl of a JRPG about how the world was made and went "WOW THAT SHOULD BE SO MUCH LONGER"

This time, the young man didn’t need clay. He dug a line leading from the house’s door to one of the small holes he dug, and put a few little people in there too. He made a few more little houses, stacked them up along the sides of the hole, and made a little ramp leading out of it, a smile on his face all the while. he did this. then he did this. he did that. he worked hard. it is so neato.

He worked and worked, always finding some new and interesting thing to give to his little people, if only you could do the same for your readers but no matter what he tried they never worked or played or fought. They may have inhabited the world, but they didn’t live in it. Creation lost its hold over the young man, who was then fussing over a particularly annoying river. With a sigh, he left the river to its own devices and stood up, wondering what was left for him to do.

There was one thing that the young man hadn’t tried yet, he realized as he stood over one of the many small holes that now dotted the landscape. After all this time, after all of his little projects and works, he never thought of making something for himself. He could start with a loaded gun imo He walked over to one of the few unused parts of his field, pondering. Eventually, he decided that since he had created so many things, that he would go out and find something interesting - something he didn’t know, something he couldn’t make. But since he couldn’t step off of his platform go ahead and remember this if you like, there was only one thing he could do.

The young man tore into the ground once more, ripping out fistfuls of clay and pushing them into two mounds on his sides. It's really a good thing we know about the mounds, thats really cool dude He couldn’t go out, he knew, so instead he would go deep. He tore at the ground with reckless abandon, and the mounds of clay grew large. He went deeper and deeper into the ground, searching for that interesting something that he knew had to exist.

Finally, he found his something. It moved like a snake, flitting what kind of snake flits dude about in the corners of his eyes and fleeing every time he turned to look. His pit was growing deep, and he was getting worried that he would eventually dig through the earth, so instead of digging deeper he decided to try and trap the strange object. The young man was never one to indulge in imagination, aside from when he spent an unknown amount of time imagining an entire world for imaginary people to live in but as he dug a small divot in the side of the hole, that imagination soared to heights considered unimaginable It'll lead to you being way too wordy in the future, but please find a thesaurus back in the old world.

The light that illuminated the surface so well This is pretty minor, but the story is called The Lights, you talked about how there were so many lights, why is it now just a light? If it's a metaphor for something, stick with it. Also yeah light illuminates things well done was difficult to see from within the hole, and the young man grew anxious as he waited for the interesting thing. agreed He wanted to get back up to the surface and get back to the creation he was beginning to miss, but the hole was far too deep to simply climb out of without a thought. Just as he looked up longingly at the light, something shone from within his little trap-hole.

The young man clamped his hand over the divot, a savage grin growing widely on his face. what a good trap, putting a hole in a wall that this thing had no reason to go into Soon enough, he found that he couldn’t contain himself any longer, that he had to know what kind of little trinket could be hidden from him for so long. He put his eyes close up to the hand covering the hole, and opened his fingers just enough so that he could see. Let me do these two sentences quick: His excitement building, he peered through the tiny gap between his fingers. It's still not good, but jesus christ is it better.

Within the hole was something so fantastical that the young man’s face lit up in ecstasy. Oh my god, what could it be?! If it's so exciting, what could possibly await us?! Within that little hole on the landscape floating in nowhere was a little pinprick of light. Oh it's a light. Worth it. He remembered it, though he couldn’t say where exactly from, but the mere sight of it swept all of his fear away like a calming wave. He reached into the hole, delicately cupping the star in his hands and placing it gently upon the ground, and he looked up at the lights once again. When did it become a star. Am I supposed to be interested that you're calling it a star now, or is it a plot twist, or what? Something blows here, and it isn't my mind.

It might have hit him, then. what hit him The idea that he would never be able to see those lights so clearly ever again just loving say it then, that he sacrificed them for the dull glow of the star beneath his feet. I thought he was loving psyched about the star, and why is it beneath his feet, did he bury it, what the gently caress are you talking about His face was unreadable not the only thing as he stared up at the dancing lights, but down at his sides his fist clenched. His breathing, always calm and steady, grew ragged.

The young man began to tear at the sides of his hole savagely, like a caged beast catching the scent of freedom. He tore at the hole, like a caged beast, who is caged in a hole, but it's caught the scent of freedom, which would always be present in a cage. It's like a bad metaphor wrapped in a worse one. He dug down, he rationalized, so surely it would be possible to dig a way back up? no. loving. poo poo. It would be longer, sure, but if it was possible...

He dug for a long time, occasionally looking down at the star resting deep in the hole before returning to his work with fervor. He dug and he dug, always upwards and always slanted, and one day he came back to the bottom of the hole for a break. Woo, long day at work today, digging a hole like a rabid animal in order to escape this unending hell. Let's knock off for a break

When the man Oh he's a man now, that's really cool dude. So what made him a man, then? Working? Disappointment? Being really scared? What caused this sudden shift? Oh, you felt like it all of a sudden? Cool beans looked up at the lights, he found that he didn’t feel any of the pain or fear that hounded him during his every living moment. This guy is like a really pretentious Joe Dirt with anxiety issues, I swear to loving god He could forget the wretched beard reaching almost to his chest, his aching muscles stopped throbbing "Tenses, you fool!" gandalf cried as bad writing dragged him into the pit, and if he closed his eyes it was almost as if he was among the lights, dancing and twirling and changing with every passing moment.

After he was finished watching the lights, im getting kinda tired of this, his eyes were loving closed the man often found himself thinking. He held the star in the palm of his hand, wondering what it was and why it existed in such a dark, cruel place. It was larger - much larger than when he had begun digging, and its light was becoming noticeable in the near blackness of the pit. Oh, it's just now noticeable is it? The star you've been sneaking peeks at when you were digging way the gently caress up there? Now it's noticeable when you're sitting next to it? He watched it contentedly for a while, rolling it around in the cup of his palm, tossing it from hand to hand, but in the end he always placed it back on the ground and got back to digging. Okay, I thought he was just taking one break, but I guess this is common for him. You know, furious existential worry, followed by a nice chill sesh in the prison pit.

It had begun to seem to the man that the passage he was digging extended very far beyond his expectations. He grew frustrated, often thrashing about in the middle of his digging, lashing out at the walls and wailing in despair. HE WAS JUST loving CONTENT But he couldn’t bring himself to stop digging. It was something he had to do, something that had to be done if he didn’t want to stay in the disgusting, cramped pit that he likes to relax in for all eternity.

And yet in the end, it was hopeless. The passage upwards extended for far longer than the pit descended, and the man knew that his efforts were useless. He limped back down the tunnel once more until he reached the bottom of the pit. He clutched the star in one hand, looked up at the lights twisting together so far away, and closed his eyes. i hope he's dead

“Oi, Rob! Come check this out!” croikey mate, im a bloody englishman sayin' oi, also my name is jerry rickers (spoiler his name is jerry rickers) Jerry Rickers called down over the edge of the mountain before looking back at the... thing, shaking his head with a wild smile on his face. Jerry wasn’t anyone special, not really. Your character isn't interesting? Wow what a twist. He liked to sleep in on the weekends he didn’t have to work down in the quarry, he liked to drink, and once in awhile he went rock climbing with his buddies. It probably seemed strange to him, then, that he of all people was the one to find... well, whatever the hell this was. Well every other time you've played coy it's been incredibly interesting, so i'm sure this one will follow suit.

“Yeah yeah, what is it? One of yer damned rocks again?” Rob grumbled, finally clambering up the edge of the mountain. He wasn’t a terribly important man himself, really YOU. DON'T. SAY. - he fancied himself a rock climber, but he was always second best to Jerry. You know this really boring guy? Well he has a friend that's less interesting, and here he is! This fact never ceased to annoy him, though he loved the man like a brother. “Don’t care about no drat rocks, y’know.” "better not be telling me about any rocks while i'm rock climbing, i'll be real loving pissed"

“No, no, it’s not a rock. Well - not really, I guess? Look, just check this out!” Jerry stared down into the enormous pit, Rob stepping beside him. The two men stared down into the pit, sure that what they saw was something truly unbelievable, something absolutely transcendent that would shake the foundation of their very lives. i'd tell you to shoot yourself if you weren't me you dumb little fucker jesus christ

Rob smacked his arm, ending the life of a mosquito that had been following the two up the mountain for hours. Why didn't it bite them earlier. Like seriously this is all nitpicky poo poo but it's still an actual problem, none of the little things make a bit of loving sense, so why should I be paying attention to the bigger stuff? “Y’know...” He began thoughtfully, his attention back on the pit for a moment. “I reckon that’s a really big hole there, Jerry.” Jerry nodded, scratching the back of his neck. IT WAS A loving HOLE

Thousands of miles away, dozens of miners were gathered around a rather large hole one of them had just struck into. Wow, two holes?! INCREDIBLE PLOTTING “...But what does it mean?” One of the more theologically minded of the group asked, Why is it theological, except for the fact that your main dude is very obviously a god? This could just as easily be a scientist, or more likely a dumb joke because nobody would ever ask what a hole means on the spot like that. and nobody could answer. It was hard to say if they couldn’t answer because the question was too philosophical, or because most of them just dropped screaming into the hole. Welcome to the longest joke ever told!

The overseer of the mine gaped at the expanding hole in the ground, marvelling at the implications. “This oughta be, y’know, one of them old civilizations or summat, yeah? Maybe they lived underground?”I think the overseer would be more upset about his entire loving mine imploding. He turned to his assistant, his eyes lighting up. “Son, we just struck somethin’ big.” No, all of your infrastructure just loving broke, a lot of your people are dead or dying. PLEASE CARE ABOUT THAT!

The overseer’s assistant was even more pale than usual, and stared out at the ensuing destruction with a single horrified eye. This guy is more loving worried about the mine than the dude who runs the whole thing. “Um. Sir. About that...” The assistant raised a shaky hand, pointing out at the opening, and the overseer found himself giving the hole his full attention once more.

It’s hard to say exactly what the overseer thought as the old, wrinkly, gigantic head poked itself through the opening, but it probably wouldn’t be appropriate anyway, so it’s for the best. Hah, yeah, he might show some sort of emotion, and that would be terrible. The theologian miner on the other hand was much more appropriate. This sentence... “...God? That you?” The miner was the only one left of the group that uncovered the hole, so all of his co-workers are dead, awesome haha thats so cool it really makes u think!!! and as such was caught just slightly off-guard STOP by the head poking out of it. Shaking, the miner reached into his pocket... And pulled out his camera. SNAP.

His friends were going to be so jealous. NO, THEY WON'T BE, BECAUSE THEY'RE ALL loving DEAD!

The man was old now, he knew. So many years had passed that the star in his hand had left in an explosion of light and fury, leaving him alone in the dark. So, the star we made such a big deal out of just kinda died offscreen, that's neato. THAT IS NEATO. The lights above were no longer as vibrant as they once were, and instead of being dozens of shades they were now just a dull blue, with an occasional blot of grey.

He was strongly considering just letting it all fade away and trying to start again what does this mean when something rather peculiar happened. That something was Jerry Rickers’ shadow, silhouetted against the blue light. He never saw another shadow, in all his days. No birds, nothing? The old man frowned, focusing his eyes as hard as he could, and sure enough there was another shadow standing alongside Jerry’s. Just as he wished he could investigate it, there was an incredibly loud noise coming down from his passage. Hey, hey! Can you hear that? It's the sound a plot makes when it's doing all the work.

The old man had long ago lost hope, so even he couldn’t say what made him crawl up that passage one last time. Perhaps it was a dull curiosity, or perhaps he just wanted to claw his way up just one more time before allowing himself to pass. Why couldn't it just be hope? He has reason to be hopeful, the whole drat passage just cracked open. Why isn't it hope?! Either way, the sight that greeted him when he finally made his way through it must have perplexed him greatly.

At first there was just a pinprick of light, and a feeling of something falling onto his back with far more screaming than he was accustomed to. The old man stared up at the light, and then gave it a tentative poke with his finger. The ground fell away, letting even more light and screaming and falling into the passage. I'd say that this reads like Hemingway if he had a stroke, but he would've done this better regardless. One of the falling figures caught his eye, and he almost couldn’t believe it.

One of his creations was falling, screaming, and squirming around without any of his input at all! The old man grinned, caught the clay man and placed him down in the passage with a friendly pat on the head. Unknown to the old man, this pat on the head sent the miner screaming into the bowels of the earth, and that man now resides deep within the earth’s core, wondering why it’s only mildly warm and why a fully stocked bar even exists down there. That's not funny, it's just nonsense. You can't just sit there and type stupid things and have me go "haha, yeah, how weird!" You have to work for it. This is abysmal.

It didn’t take long for the media to react to this. The overseer and his assistant were paraded about on world-wide news, live webcam feeds were on the old man day and night, and hordes of people were surrounding the site and insisting that they found him first. One of these men was Jerry Rickers. “A big hole. In the mountains.” The journalist said, staring at Jerry as if he’d just proclaimed that God would someday just pop out of the ground like a common mole. haha yeah that'd be pretty stupid wouldn't it

“Well, yeah. Really big. Like, imagine a volcano, except it never actually ends and there’s no lava and God’s at the bottom.” Oh and also despite there being webcam feeds, a media circus, and an enormous quarry, we don't have helicopters or airplanes or anything that can loving FLY Jerry replied, with Rob nodding vigorously just a few feet behind him. The journalist stared blankly at the duo before pressing a button under his desk, prompting several burly men to remove the clearly unstable men from the office. Stop being cute! Why can't you just say something loving happens? Why?!

Outside of that office were many people holding many signs. ‘GOD ENT DED!’ yes i've read discworld too, haha, like granny weatherwax with her sign, neat proclaimed one, being frantically waved by an old woman in a rocking chair as her grandson stood by with a horrified expression. Another one was actually several signs duct-taped together, with an elaborate theory about how it wasn’t really God, but actually a really big robot built by the government, and that really what kind of God would just pop up, anyway? This sentence at least made me consider smiling, which is better than the others.

Jerry and Rob brushed themselves off, sent the office a very expressive form of salute they flicked the office off you purple motherfucker, and then ran away before they could get caught again. “Don’t you worry, Jerry. They’re just some... some...” Rob growled, spitting on the ground. “...I dunno, they’re dumb. Bet you we can just go talk to this God fella and he can tell ‘em what’s what!” The two pushed past a group of revelers choosing a more intimate way of expressing their love for their new-found religion, apologizing after stepping on a pair of especially energetic converts. This is a good enough line, if ridiculously over-worded. It's an entertaining idea executed poorly, but that's a step up.

The old man was tired, though. Even though he certainly was excited about being able to see his creations mingle about and take ‘pictures’ of him, it had been a long time since he had gotten to actually enjoy himself a bit and stretch his legs. Apparently the hole was big enough for him to walk down before, so oh gently caress it whatever But then, it had been even longer since he’d just had a nice, relaxing sleep. You said he was sleeping until the plot kicked his door down. He also lived there longer than he spent creating the whole loving world, so i'd imagine he got used to it. Bad. As Jerry and Rob finally made their way towards the front of the crowd, the old man yawned, stood up, and climbed up out of the hole, shocking millions of people who believed that God was always, well, decent. Ha, God has a penis. Another possibly funny situation, if it were in a better story.

Of course, the old man didn’t really care what his creations thought of him, so long as they kept doing interesting things. Unfortunately for the creations in question, their screaming and gasping and reverent grinding were incredibly interesting for the old man, who laughed deeply at their expense. I like the idea of a God who's an rear end in a top hat. It's not a new story, but it's a better one than this. Shame it lasts like two paragraphs.

After a little bit of laughing, the old man decided to make things even more interesting by taking a step. Then another step. And then another. The people gathered around him scattered as quickly as they could as the old man took step after step after step, eventually disappearing over the horizon. The old man stared at the edge of the world, looked back at all of creation, and smiled happily.

“About time, you lousy layabouts.” The old man spoke his first words, and then took a step over the edge of the world. he couldn't step off the edge of the world, huh

The world stopped, for just a little while. People who were rushing towards their God stopped in their tracks as they heard what had happened as relayed to them by shocked (and mildly disturbed) news anchors, reporters, and live bloggers. People lowered their signs, revelers dropped their drug paraphernalia, and TV evangelists breathed a collective sigh of relief. God’s last words reverberated throughout the world, leaving everyone rather confused. Did they have to put that down in the Bible, now? Is this a new Book? Maybe this is the coming of the end times! i just dont care anymore

Speculation abounded for years on end after God’s disappearance but in the end, things died down as they tend to do. People began to become convinced that it was some sort of hoax concocted by the media in order to raise ratings, conspiracy theorists continued to say that God was there which made it even more implausible, and the politicians just carried on as always, because God didn’t specifically say he was against them, right?ughhhhhhhhhhhh

In fact, the only one whoever got an even half-decent explanation of what had happened was a miner in the earth’s core, who had an unexpected guest in his bar one day. “So, um.” The miner spoke nervously, tipping a few dozen liters of whiskey into an impossibly massive shot glass, “...What did you think? When you got up there, I mean. All that war, and the crime, and the people, all that?” he sure saw a lot of that from his lovely little hole he looked out of

The guest took the glass, downing it in a single gulp. His wizened features left him looking like the perfect kindly old man, if you could forget for a moment that he was impossibly huge. The wise man winked at the miner, placing the glass back down on the bar. “It was interesting.” He said. No it wasn't.

this hurt so much for 150 words... kill me

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



Broenheim posted:

HAPPY NEW YEARS BLUNDERDOME

I'm offering 10 in-depth crits (not line-by-lines sorry), quote this w/ your story, offer ends once its the new year in the real world (aka PST time)

pls crit me oniienheim

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

A Classy Ghost posted:

I'm not sure if I need to post an acceptance post or not but here we go. and stuff. Bit harder to work up animosity since I didn't initiate the brawl but I will make an effort.




sebmojo you write like a turd and prob smell like one too

ACG you toxxed for this brawl after djinn failed like a snail which was super gallant and awesome but you do need to write a story at some point imo, i'm happy to have the deadline be 3 jan 2359 pst

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Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why didn't you invest in
Thunderdome?


WeLandedOnTheMoon! posted:

Doming with the Devil Brawl

Two Tricksters
1998 words

Finto hadn’t imagined the devil like this: golden eyes, immaculate purple robe, pin-stripe beard on a smooth face. He had nothing to do with the beelzebub from the books. He could have been king somewhere. Maybe he was.

“You want me to lift the curse,” the devil said.

“Not mine. My brother’s.”

The curse, the sickness that rotted them away from within. The gypsy had laid it on both of them. But recently, his brother Tommel had gotten much worse – fevers and blackouts and even the occasional cough of blood – while Finto had gotten better. He didn’t know why, but he would not let his brother die.

“Can you do that?” Finto said.

“Yes. And no.” The devil closed his eyes, concentrated as if he was remembering something complicated. “Your brother is destined to die. Soon. And I cannot just create a new fate out of thin air. There must be balance.” He paused, maybe to pretend that he didn’t deal with this dilemma regularly, or maybe just making sure he hadn’t lost Finto. “Perhaps if you steal someone else’s fate. I can use that.”

“I… don’t know how to do that.”

The devil opened his eyes and all but pierced Finto’s soul. “I’m sure you’ll find a way. Do it, and I can change any fate you want.” He extended his hand.

Finto shook it uncertainly. “You did not ask for my soul.”

“Finto, you sly old trickster.” The devil chuckled as he faded to the foggy stench of sulfur. “I won’t have to.”

#

Treadmoore was a city that had everything. All day long ox carren moved exotic wares from market to market, past cryers and hagglers and people from all the corners of the earth. Worlds collided here, from the Settler’s District with its gossiping washerwomen all the way to the Grimoire, where there was a shady offer behind every corner.

If there was a way to steal someone’s fate, it was here.

Finto entered the Last Round. The inn’s wooden interior was cool and empty. He went upstairs.

Tommel lay in his bed. It was all he did these days, lying around and changing from hot to cold and back. Right now he was glowing like an angry sun, but soon, when the beads of sweat had gone, he’d be cold again, so cold and still that you weren’t sure if he wasn’t dead until you leaned in and felt his faint breath on your ear.

There used to be a time when they wouldn’t have walked a step without one another. They’d been inseparable, their tricks and capers known all across the realm. They’d travel from town to town, and everywhere they’d stop they’d play their songs and tell their jokes, and show off their magic, their famous escape tricks, nary a rope that could hold them! And they’d woo the ladies and empty the purses of the rich and gullible, but they’d never keep more than they need. The rest had always ended in the gutters, with the poor and unfortunate.

Nowadays they could barely look out for themselves.

Tommel was asleep, so Finto left. The old hag that ran the inn was the honest sort, and he’d paid her well. She’d look after Tommel. Someone had to.

#

The streets were ripe with opportunities. Rumors directed him to a shady den in the Grimoire, the kind of place that smelled like tobacco even from the outside, not quite a shack, but a non-descript establishment that just was. You wouldn’t even know it was open for business if people wouldn’t have staggered out constantly.

Inside, faceless shadows moved through the thick smoke. On tables all over he recognized the typical Four Fingers layout, a row of fours cards in the middle and one more at each corner. There were all kinds of gamblers here, from burly crooks to the kind of fat cats who smoked cigars for lunch, throwing around their money with the nonchalance of people who were clearly big-shot enough not to be touched even in this part of town.

Finto bought himself into the tourney.

He was not the best of players, but then he wasn’t here to win. He was here to steal. He cheated. He swapped bad hands with better ones up his sleeve. He dealt cards the wrong way round, or mixed them just right. He played it cool. Won the occasional round, pulled out the occasional miracle. Just enough to play his way into the final. Just enough to pull out a Five-Finger-Streak to win the deciding round. Just enough to be accused of cheating, to have the table flung at him, to be rushed from two directions and to disappear in one of those old magic tricks of his, a chemical bomb that flashed and smoked, leaving everyone blind and himself invisible for just long enough to disappear inside the shadow crowd.

He left through the back door.

“Cheating at cards,” the devil said. “That’s classy, I guess.” His immaculate appearance had made way for something a bit more appropriate to the Grimoire – a hooded cape, three-day stubble on his chin. The golden eyes still stabbed through Finto’s racing heart.

“Are we clear then?” Finto said.

The devil held out his hand. “You got the fate?” But Finto didn’t move, and when the devil was satisfied that his point had been made, he reclined. “A lost game – that’s not fate, Finto. You can do better than that.”

And then he was gone.

#

Finto tried everything, but the devil had high standards. The engaged woman Finto had seduced into marrying him instead of her betrothed – it obviously hadn’t been their fate if they could be broken up so easily. A nearby Count’s precious will that Finto had intercepted, well that was just a shift of meaningless titles, no? It hadn’t changed much.

The devil was never satisfied. No matter what tricks Finto pulled.

Tommel’s lucid times grew shorter, and more vicious. He barely recognized Finto anymore. Whenever he was awake, all he did was cry from pain and beg for the end.

Finto was desperate enough to pay attention when he heard of the execution. Word of a farmer who’d gone mad and killed his entire family. A man most had never seen, out from the fields. He was slender, and tall, and had short brown hair, that much was certain. Just like Finto.

He visited his brother one last time, saying goodbye. He asked for forgiveness for what was about to happen, but Tommel was not awake.

#

Finto visited the town castle’s court, playing his lute and singing his bawdy songs of dragons and the maidens that rode them, and showing his magic tricks, the escape tricks he had once been famous for, nary a rope that could hold him! The grand vizier was amused.

Finto was invited to stay in the guest quarters that night. There he waited until the moon was high, and then he took his bag and left, snuck to the upper levels, sticking to the shadows, sneaking from door to door, corner to corner, always ready to shake a flash bomb out his undergarments like he had back in the gambling den. He kept on going until he heard snoring through someone’s door.

That’s how he got his nobleman attire.

The disguise brought him all the way to the dungeon, where he tossed a gold coin towards the guard and asked, no, demanded to speak with the prisoner alone. The man inside the cell was indeed a similar build to Finto. A bit malnourished. The face was different, but that’s why he’d brought a bag of dirt and molding clay.

He picked the lock open. The prisoner didn’t seem surprised that Finto was there. He didn’t even seem surprised that Finto wanted to swap places.

“He isn’t surprised,” the devil said. “He’s paid dearly for his rescue.”

Finto’s heart almost stopped. There stood the devil, golden eyes shining out a guard’s helmet.

“You’re using me,” Finto said.

“You want to rescue your brother. This is the way.”

That double-dealing bastard. Finto hated being played. But if that was the price…

He masked his face with the clay, and that of the prisoner. He gave the man his robe, and then the cell was locked with only Finto inside.

“One thing I should probably tell you,” the devil said after the prisoner had left. “You noticed that your brother got worse while you got better? I wonder how he did that.”

The realization crept up on Finto like a pack of wolves, and pounced. “You bastard.”

“Don’t worry,” the devil said. “A deal’s a deal. I will lift your brother’s curse. He’ll thank you when you see each other in hell.”

“I never sold you my soul.”

“Finto, you sly old trickster. You just freed a murderer from prison. You didn't have to.” And then he faded, and his laughter consumed Finto, until all he could do was lie down and think, think of a plan, any way out.

#

He left the castle strung up high on a cart, paraded along the street inside a cluster of guardsmen. The mob had come prepared: salads and radishes pelted his face, and if he hadn’t turned and trashed through the ordeal, his fake nose might have well been shot off.

The gallows stood ready at the town square, noose dangling in the wind – even the rope couldn’t contain its excitement. And as it was tied around his neck, he saw the devil amongst the commoners, the devil with his pin-stripe-beard, with his smooth face, his golden eyes--

Finto didn’t have any last words.

The ground disappeared, and that’s when he moved his wrist, used the bit of wiggle room he had given himself to drop the flash bomb from his undergarments. He disappeared in lightning and smoke. He only had seconds, but the knots were simple. Nary a noose that could hold him.

He dropped down to underneath the stand, where coughing guards wandered blindly through the fumes. He ripped the clay off his face and dashed towards the audience. The first row parted way for him and then he disappeared inside the masses, down the street, and around the Grimoire’s corners.

#

“Well done,” the devil said. He’d gotten ahead, waiting in a shady corner in the Grimoire. “Ready to lift your brother’s curse?”

Finto swallowed. “That was not the deal. The deal was, I steal fate, and you change fate.”

“Alright." The devil cocked his head, not sure what to expect. "So?”

“My brother is destined to die to the curse, and go to hell. I want you to take his fate, and give it to the prisoner I freed.”

“That would change the fates of two people. We agreed on one.”

Finto held up a finger. “It is one. The prisoner does not have a fate. I stole it. We're merely shifting things around a bit. Keeps the balance.”

The devil flared his nostrils. His golden eyes glowed like molten steel, turned red, red like the way the sky is supposed to bleed when the Gods are angry, and then his face turned the same color and suddenly Finto felt three sizes smaller.

“You think you have outsmarted me?” the devil thundered. “You have not! I will tear your soul asunder! You are mine, and your brother will be mine again, and then I will see both of you in hell, and I will make you suffer.”

“I have just brought the prisoner to justice,” Finto said. The words came out uncertainly, but they came. “And I will make good for my other sins as well.”

And the devil was intimidating, but for all that, he did nothing. Instead, he disappeared, not laughing this time, but swearing vengeance. And Finto didn’t look at his fading image. He turned, and ran, all the way back to the Last Round.

He was ready to have his brother back.

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