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Jopoho
Feb 17, 2012


I'll throw in with a flash rule.

I wrote in thunderdome a year or two back, during a brief internship and more free time than talent. I'm back with definitely less free time to prove I have more talent. Bring it.

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Jopoho
Feb 17, 2012


Family Business 1437 Words
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, but it rocks absolutely too.

“Evan, put another log on the fire,” Edward said, “Our guests could be here any minute.”

Evan looked up from his book. “You said that a half an hour ago, father. They’re late.”

“Then it’s been true for half an hour. And don’t just throw the log in. You’ll get ash everywhere.”

Evan slammed his book shut and complied. Not only that, his father noted, but he actually used the poker and stoked the fire as well. Typically, getting Evan to perform any household chore was like invoking the Wishing Well: you would get exactly what you asked for, undermined in every conceivable way. Once he finished his task, he returned to his book. His father couldn’t help but smirk as Evan struggled to find his page again

With the fire glowing brighter, Edward focused on the third person in the room.

“Are you comfortable, Lady Mahsa?”

She smiled. Even with the additional light, her dark skin made interpreting signs difficult. Yes, Uncle. A Pause. But I am bored.

“You have been very patient. If this job is everything we have been told, entertainment shouldn’t be a problem for much longer.”

I hope so. Cousin Evan is excited too.

“You are very astute, my dear.”

Evan cleared his throat. His father had never taught him signing, but he had an uncanny knack for knowing when he was being discussed. Edward ignored the protest, keeping his attention on his niece.

“Do you think your cousin is ready for the College of Mages?”

He is talented. He could dress better.

“Oh?”

She held up her hand, making no symbol Edward recognized. It took him several moments to realize it wasn’t signing at all. He turned back to Evan, and only now noticed the faint glimmer of metal in the firelight.

“Evan, why must you hurt your poor father so?”

Evan, once more, slammed his book. “What is it this time?” he asked.

“I would hope that a budding scholar would intuit that one wears rings on their ring finger.”

Evan opened his mouth to reply when somebody finally knocked on the door. He quickly moved his ring to the proper finger and moved to answer the door. A tall figure dressed in a black cloak glided over the threshold. He did not remove his hood.

Edward stood and approached his guest. “Welcome my dear friend!” he said, “Please, seat yourself by the fire. My boy can see to a drink for you. Some tea in this dreadful cold perhaps?”

The client shook his head. “I’d rather focus on business.”

Edward gave the slightest hint of disappointment. “Very well, I should be happy to discuss your grand designs. We share a common enemy it would seem.”

“What do you know of my enemy?”

“They stand between me and a future for these children. My boy Evan will be attending the College of Mages come spring, and their tuition isn’t cheap. My niece, Mahsa, deserves a proper dowry. I’ll kill anyone for the right price.”

“And if what I hear is true, you’re quite good at it.” The client tossed a small bag. It landed in the center of the room, spilling golden coins across the floor. It was enough to feed a family well for a year, and two if they were stretching. “That’s half. You get the other half when every soldier in the city’s fort lies dead.”

“Planning a rebellion then,” Edward said. Then, he looked to the floor. “You really could have handed me or one of the children the bag.”

“Are you interested then?”

Edward nodded. “The fort will be completely empty the day after tomorrow.”

“That soon?”

“Your timing happens to be very fortunate.”

“So it would seem.” A pause. “I will accompany you. I would…appreciate seeing the fort fall for myself.”

“I think we can accommodate that. I won’t take you all the way in, but you should be able to watch from nearby. Close enough to hear the screams, anyway.”

“That’s will do.”

“Good, there’s an inn on the edge of town near the fort. Meet there tomorrow night.”

The client nodded, and without saying anything else, he left.

Edward sighed. “Looks like I did my part. Time for you two to make this old man proud.”

Evan smiled in spite of himself. Mahsa gave her uncle a big hug.

---

The client had found the inn without incident. Edward was there. He greeted the man and took him up to a room he had rented out. Evan and Mahsa were there waiting. Evan was kneeling on the ground, holding a staff out in front of him. Wisps of raw magic encircled the boy.

“And look here,” Edward said. “We have a window facing the fort. It is the perfect viewing spot.” Edward produced a bottle of wine. “We can relax and toast your victory in comfort and privacy.”

“Aren’t you going in.”

“Not I. I am too old for such things.”

“Then, you have someone else.”

Edward indicated towards Evan and Mahsa. “I have two others.”

“Your children?!”

“They’re already doing their part. Evan has given his cousin the perfect conditions for an infiltration.”

Clouds had rolled in earlier in the day and had hung over the city. The moon was full tonight, but it would offer no light. “Your boy conjured this weather?”

“He has. And my niece is not without her own talents.” Edward nodded in Mahsa’s direction. Immediately, she began to clap her hands together and stomp at the grown with her feet. The client couldn’t deny that something unnatural was happening, but he couldn’t quite place it. She clapped harder and stomped more emphatically, and it finally occurred to him.

“There’s no noise!”

Edward chuckled. “She made a curious request of the Wishing Well. She hasn’t made a sound since.”

She was the perfect infiltrator, the client conceded, but he couldn’t help but doubt a single child’s ability to slaughter an entire fort. Edward picked up on his reluctance.

“She has other abilities, as I’m sure you’ll see before the night is through. But now, I think it is time for her to get working. The night won’t last forever.”

Mahsa nodded. She bowed to the client, and gave her uncle and cousin each a quick kiss before opening the window and leaping out into the night.”

“And now,” Edward said, “we wait.” He uncorked the bottle of wine and poured three glasses. He handed one to his client and placed one beside Evan. He took the third for himself and began to drink.”

“Your niece looks nothing like you.”

“She is prettier. Though I suppose your getting at her lineage. My sister married well, but she found she fancied one of her husband’s Chamian servants. Mahsa was given to me, and my sister’s husband was told his child was stillborn. He would discover the truth though, and killed my sister and her lover.”

“Ah.” The client chose to sip his wine as well. “And the Wishing Well. Something to do with losing her parents.”

“The poor girl was stricken with grief. She invoked the Well for the power to take revenge on any who hurt her parents. That night, she tracked down her mother’s killer and slaughtered him and his whole estate. She came to me the morning afterward. I think she was trying to tell me what happened. That’s when I taught her the signs.

“I see. So the silence is a curse then?”

“I don’t think the Well deals in curses and blessings. I think she got her wish, and I think she is happier than most who make a wish.”

From outside the window came a scream.

“I guess it is time to start then. Give your cousin some light, Evan.”

The magic swirling around Evan shifted. Outside, the winds howled with the force of a gale. Within minutes, the moon was shining over the city.

“Ha! I’m not even sure why you need the College Evan!” Edward said. “You’re world class, boy.”

Evan nodded at the complement, and took the glass of wine his father had poured for him. Edward turned back to their client.

“Well then, we wait”

“That’s it then?”

“Be grateful you don’t have to wait longer. The moon just happened to be right.”

A few more screams and shouts sounded out from the fort. Evan made a gesture with his hand, and a gentle breeze blew in towards the window. Now downwind, the screams were easier to make out.

“I do think she loves what the Well gave her, but I think she would be happier if she could howl.”

Jopoho
Feb 17, 2012


Thanks for crits judges.

In again.

Jopoho
Feb 17, 2012


King and Queen - 944 Words

Tanner Dawson could only think of two possible conclusions. Either he had somehow been robbed, despite being present the whole time, or his great grandfather’s creepy sex dungeon ate luggage. Not for the first time, he lamented inheriting the cabin.

White bishop to e3.

He once again opened the door to the back room, proving to himself that there were no other doors or windows. He felt along the coarse wooden walls, hoping there might be some trap door. It hadn’t technically been a sex dungeon, but by all accounts his great grandfather got up to some weird stuff. Still, there wasn’t anything he could find. He retreated to the main room, and stopped at the chessboard.

Black bishop to g7.

There were two traditions Dawson men held to. The first was that they should play chess. The second was that the cabin was to be preserved as a way for Dawson men to escape their wives and children. Tanner was going to renovate and sell the cabin to fund a vacation with his wife. However, he did still play chess. It helped him think.

White queen to d2.

The chessboard was the most ornate he had seen in person. The actual board was marble set on top of some dark, wooden base - maybe cherry, complete with drawers for storing the pieces. The pieces were made out of some kind of heavy stone, though Tanner couldn’t even begin to guess what. He pondered black’s next move.

Black pawn c6.

He spent a moment considering how to shore up white’s defenses before shaking himself free. Aisha had gone to get takeout, and he at least wanted a solid explanation of how their stuff had disappeared by the time she was back. He moved again into the back room. He still couldn’t think of anything. Two duffels and air mattress should not have been able to leave the room. Desperate, he tried the trap door angle again, this time rolling the room’s throw carpet. There wasn’t a trap door, but something seemed off, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. He went back to the main room.

White pawn to f3.

Something was wrong with the carpet. He knew it but he couldn’t place what. He walked back to the back room.

There was no carpet. Great grandpa’s sex dungeon claimed another victim. Or had it?

On a whim, Tanner jogged back to the board, undoing white’s last move, and nearly tripped running back to the back room. The carpet was rolled up, right were he left it. He sprinted back to the chessboard, his now-shaking hands trying to replace the pieces to their starting positions, and darted back to the door, throwing it open.

Inside were two duffels and an air mattress that had been rolled out, but not inflated. Right where Tanner left them.

“Oh my god.”

He tested a few more times. When the chessboard was in it’s starting position, the stuff was there. When the board was in any other position, it wasn’t. Sometimes there were other things though. The board state changed the room. The Dawson cabin was a mansion, with thousands of rooms and one door for all of them. What else did the house hold?

Tanner could just place pieces at random and see what came up, but that hardly seemed productive. Instead, he went for common opening maneuvers. It proved productive. Petrov’s defense led to a miniature library. The Queen’s gambit, appropriately enough, led to a room designed for sexual encounters. Despite his horror, Tanner felt some pride knowing that he had correctly called that he had inherited a sex dungeon.

When Aisha got back, he would re-visit selling the cabin with her.

He continued to explore popular opening strategies, and he continued to find different treasures. With empty rooms, he began to plan out different ways they could be used. Could they get electricity to these rooms? Plumbing? Even if they couldn’t there was still so much they could do.

Another popular configuration occurred to Tanner. His father’s favorite board state.

White pawn to f3.
Black pawn to e5.
White pawn to g4.
Black queen to h4. Checkmate.


This room had a beige, metal filing cabinet set at the far end of the room. Inside the cabinet were files pertaining to every combination on the board and what it led to. Every room that had anything significant inside was, presumably, recorded here. He combed through the list, enthralled.

The door to the outside opened up.

“Back, babe,” Aisha said, “and I found the Home Depot, so we can get anything we need for tomorrow.”

“You have to see this,” Tanner replied.

“Sure, just let me set dinner down.”

Tanner scrambled through the files, looking for any particularly interesting set of rooms to show her. Several moments passed. Aisha had not come into the back room. He looked at a few more viable candidates for a room. One apparently had art, though he couldn’t imagine his father or grandfather appreciating any fine art. Another moment passed, and Tanner turned to call to Aisha again.

“You really should come back here-“

The door was gone.

Back in the cabin’s main room, Aisha hefted the black queen. She didn’t play chess seriously, but Tanner had taught her a bit. Enough, at least to recognize a checkmate when she saw one. She never liked that players never actually captured the king piece once they won. She decided to rectify the situation. She placed the queen back on the board, then charged it straight at white’s king, sending it off the board and tumbling across the floor.

“Checkmate,” she said.

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