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DreamingofRoses
Jun 27, 2013


Nap Ghost

In. double or nothing. (I've always wanted to be Carmen Sandiego)

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DreamingofRoses
Jun 27, 2013


Nap Ghost

May Treasure Fill Your Home (金玉满堂)

1553 words

Flash rule: Big Trouble in Little China

The red carpet had been laid at her feet. The white marble floor between the two guardian lions had been covered in red carpet, a path leading to the other side of the lobby where a temporary red wall and arch had been erected. The normal miscellanea that lined the lobby had been removed, replaced with long tables and chairs filled with a glittering crowd of guests.

It’s go time. Communications check, 1, 2, 3. Carmen shaded her face with her fan as she walked down the carpet, focusing on her mental connection to her companions.

See you, kid. I’m in place. The bulky form of Jack lurked in a well-tailored suit on the outskirts of the crowd, near some neatly dressed ‘guards’ of the casino.

I see both of you. Chimes are set and ready for the signal. That was Wendy, the wizard of the group. Carmen used the excuse of gaping at the large golden, dragon statue holding up the main chandelier to which half a dozen ropes lined with paper lanterns were attached to look for her. She could see the dark-skinned woman leaning on one of the railings of the second floor.

Carmen took a deep breath and lowered the fan, her mind focused on the ceremony. She took the few steps to pass through the arch, where a handsome Chinese man with silver hair in a chair in front of her, Zheng Zhao, her target. In the room also stood a younger, just as handsome man who was to be her ‘husband’, Liang Zhao, her target’s son.

First was the bow to his father, then to the portrait of his mother, then to Liang, who looked achingly handsome in his red and gold suit. Next, they both knelt on cushions and she poured the already-prepared tea to serve them, being careful to make sure her hand movements weren’t observed. First served was his father, who accepted the cup with a solemn silence, and then Liang. She watched from the corner of her eye as Zheng grimaced at the taste of the tea, but said nothing. Settling back onto her calves, Carmen accepted the offered cup of tea from Liang with a smile. She tipped the cup to her lips and sipped, her smile growing wider as deep, sweet chiming began.

--

The first time she had met Liang Zhao, it had been at a bar. It wasn’t a dive bar, he wouldn’t be able to get to one of those if he wanted to with the sheer amount of security on him--mostly Triad thugs--but it was on lower scale of ritzy, with plenty of dark corners. Carmen had lured him into a private booth with the promise of drinks. It had taken one drink, and an application of her own persuasive power, to get the truth from him about his father and his recent personality whiplash which coincided with one of his ‘antiquity hunting’ trips.

It had taken weeks to convince Liang of their ability to help both him and his father. Then a month to set up an iron-clad identity that could withstand the inevitable searches from both the Triad and Liang’s father, and research the artifact he had recovered that had taken him. A ring, possessed by the spirit of a minor prince from the Tang dynasty who had been a sorcerer. It also took time to case the casino, with both Jack and Wendy ‘visiting’ the casino, and Liang taking her to his father’s office to meet him, ostensibly to investigate the effects of the ring.

The wedding plan had been idiotic at best, but it was determined to be the best way to ‘ambush’ Zheng for the ring, and to have the vault vulnerable. The best way the plan would work to protect them and Liang would be to stage a vault raid. The Zhaos were well-insured, and a robbery with Liang as the victim would keep him safe from suspicion. Liang had surprisingly few objections to this plan, although he did give Carmen an undecipherable look when he thought she wasn’t watching.

--

Liang looked at her a bittersweet smile crossing his face before his eyes drooped closed and his chin slumped to his chest. Around them, similar things happened to the rest of the guests and their bodyguards, as well as the Triad thugs dotting the room. In moments, the entire room was sleeping, Wendy’s counter-spelled hair decoration the only thing keeping Carmen awake.

God, I just want five minutes in that crowd. The jewelry alone must be worth—

Not the time, Wendy. Carmen’s attention focused on Zheng as he lunged upwards from his seat, notably unaffected. “Treachery,” he hissed in a voice that carried two tones and his eyes glowed brighter. “I am immune to your sorceries, warlock, and that of whatever devils you have at your call. You will not corrupt me or my son any longer. Die!” Zheng, or the ghost inside of him, summoned a long blade from air and lunged at the now-standing Carmen.


She snapped the fan shut and used the hard, wooden frame to redirect the blade from the thrust to her chest and into the wooden arch behind. The blade lodged into the red wood, but the edge caught her shoulder, and she hissed in pain. Carmen grabbed the wrist holding the sword with her right hand and pushed away from her body. It was an awkward angle, and Zheng grabbed her right wrist with the hand the ring was on. She dropped her fan, and twisted her wrist so her hand slid through his, palm to palm, and brought the ring with it.

The glow behind the old man’s eyes faded abruptly and he released the sword. Strength seemed to seep from his body as he attempted to back up a step. Her grip on his wrist stopped his movement, “C-Carmen? Liang? What’s happening?”

Carmen looked him in the eyes and adjusted her grip on him to stash the ring into an inner pocket in her qipao. Her voice was calm and unhurried, “Nothing, Mr. Zhao, it’s all right. Just listen to the chimes. It’s time for you to sleep for a while, and when you wake up this will feel like a dream.” He slumped into sleep quickly, and she eased him to the ground.

Got the ring. Liang and his father are taken care of. I’ll meet you two in the vault.

When she got up to them, both Wendy and Jack had already changed into their work clothes. Wendy got a good look at her shoulder and sighed, “Did you even try to get him to drink the tranquilizer? What if he had--”

“I did, which is the only reason I still have a heart. It slowed him down, just didn’t stop him.” Carmen grabbed her bag from Jack. “How long left on the chimes?” She began stripping carefully out of her qipao, pausing only to make sure she wasn’t bleeding over everything.

“About fifteen minutes, less if the Triad has any sorcerers on staff and nearby. Or if the caterers come in, or if one of the bodyguards outside gets curious, or if someone called 911 while—"

Carmen came over to set her hands on the anxious woman’s shoulders. “Breathe, Wendy. We only need five.” Wendy paused, focused on breathing for the span of a few heartbeats before Jack’s calm voice interrupted the two.

“Done. Lock’s open. Your turn, Meerkat.” Wendy rolled her eyes at the nickname, but the less-anxious woman went to go check the door and surrounding area for any magical surprises.

“Hold on, Kid,” Jack put a hand on Carmen’s undamaged shoulder and she stopped. As Wendy worked, he dressed the injury. He finished, and Carmen finished redressing in time for Wendy to give the all clear.

They stood in front of the open door to the vault and Wendy sighed enviously, eyes immediately darting to a couple of jade dragon statues clearly labelled on one of the many filled shelves. “Think we can take it all?”

Carmen grinned, “We can certainly try.”

--

Months later, the whole mess had barely finished. His father’s physical strength had declined after the removal of the ring, but his mind had turned clear and his personality apologetic. He had made the decision to retire back to China, leaving Liang in charge of clean up. Carmen and her companions had not only taken the ring, but had also managed to make off with over $500,000 worth of ancient jewelry, pottery, and statues from his father’s collection.

It had been a year and he hadn’t heard so much as a word from or about her despite the sheer amount of detective work he had been able to pay for. It was only when he found a nearly-blank envelope that was left on his desk, with his name on it, that he had an inkling of where she might be. Inside it was a second envelope, this time with a note across it.

Happy Anniversary. I still owe you a honeymoon.
- Love, Mrs. Zhao


She had signed it in exaggeratedly large, looping letters, as well as a kissed lipstick mark at the bottom. He opened the second envelope, and grinned at the one-way plane ticket inside.

DreamingofRoses
Jun 27, 2013


Nap Ghost

Thunderdome CCLXXXVII: Bad Romance

Since I've been on a bit of a romance kick lately and since V-day is coming up in a couple of weeks I've decided to start the torture early. I like romance stories and not just Harlequin bodice rippers. Unfortunately, very few people can actually write a compelling romance, which is a loving tragedy. In the vain hope that someone can stir my long-shriveled heart, I want you guys to try your hands at it. I am used to reading trash so hopefully this shouldn't hurt that much.

Write an interesting romance. It can be joyful or tragic, funny or completely serious, the main focus of the story or just noticeable in the background, but it has to be interesting. The characters have to be interesting. The actual interplay between them has to be interesting. If you want to pull out bullshit cliches, you'd better earn them through characterization. Melodrama is accepted, but only if done well.

The word count is 1,000 words, but if you really want to hurt me, just ask for a :siren:flash rule:siren: and I will give you a couple from mythology or literature as inspiration and you can have 500 more words.

NO EROTICA OR FANFICTION

Word Count: 1,000 or 1,500
Sign-up Deadline:12:00 PM EST Saturday, February 3rd
Submission Deadline:11:59 PM EST Sunday, February 4th.

Judges:
DreamingofRoses
Sham bam bamina!
Exmond

Entrants:
1)Unfunny Poster
2)Chairchucker :siren:Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi from Japanese mythology:siren:
3)Antivehicular :siren:Niu Lang and Zhi Nu from Chinese mythology:siren:
4)apophenium :siren:Balthamos and Baruch from His Dark Materials:siren:
5)GenJoe
6)Nethilia:siren:Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice:siren:
7)Thranguy :siren:Sybil and Samuel Vimes from Sir Terry Pratchett:siren:
8)Jay W. Friks :siren:Orpheus and Eurydice from Greek mythology:siren:
9)Ninjalicious :siren:Laura and Shadow Moon from American Gods:siren:
10)Ironic Twist
11)Fuschia tude :siren:Lancelot and Guinevere from Arthurian legend :siren:
12) Tyrannosaurus :siren:Petruchio and Katherina from Taming of the Shrew:siren:
14) sparksbloom
15) Yoruichi
16) Sebmojo
17) QuoProQuid
18) Kaishai
19) Bad Seafood

DreamingofRoses fucked around with this message at 17:05 on Feb 3, 2018

DreamingofRoses
Jun 27, 2013


Nap Ghost

Chairchucker posted:

flash me pls

Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi from Japanese mythology

Antivehicular posted:

I'll take a Flash Rule, please.

Niu Lang and Zhi Nu from Chinese mythology

apophenium posted:

And count me in for romance week, with flash rule(s)

Balthamos and Baruch from His Dark Materials

DreamingofRoses
Jun 27, 2013


Nap Ghost

Nethilia posted:

Romance, you say? Then I'm in.

Oh, and please give me a flash rule.

Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice



Thranguy posted:

in and a flash rule.

Sybil and Samuel Vimes from multiple books by Sir Terry Pratchett


Jay W. Friks posted:

In w Flash rule

Orpheus and Eurydice of Greek mythology


Ninjalicious posted:

In for romance week with a flash rule please.

Laura and Shadow Moon from Neil Gaiman's American Gods

DreamingofRoses
Jun 27, 2013


Nap Ghost

Fuschia tude posted:

Thank you!

I am in! also flash rule

Lancelot and Guinevere from Arthurian legend

DreamingofRoses
Jun 27, 2013


Nap Ghost

Tyrannosaurus posted:

I'm in and I'll take a flash rule thank you

Petruchio and Katherina from Taming of the Shrew

DreamingofRoses
Jun 27, 2013


Nap Ghost

:siren: Sign-ups are now over!:siren:

You have 36 hours to make me regret even thinking of this topic.

DreamingofRoses
Jun 27, 2013


Nap Ghost

:siren: One hour until submissions close. :siren:

DreamingofRoses
Jun 27, 2013


Nap Ghost

SUBMISSIONS ARE CLOSED

Chairchucker, GenJoe, Ninjalicious, Ironic Twist, sparksbloom and QuoProQuid have not dared to venture into the fields of love. If you get your stories up soon enough, I may take them into consideration for judging.

DreamingofRoses fucked around with this message at 05:06 on Feb 5, 2018

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DreamingofRoses
Jun 27, 2013


Nap Ghost

All right my wayward children, judgment has arrived. This week was certainly...something. Surprisingly (or maybe not), even with such a broad prompt, some of you managed to miss the point entirely. Most of you managed to hit the mark, although that may be me going soft. Full crits will be up by Sunday, but for now here is our:

Winner! Antivehicular with an endearing story that used its prompt to a unique end. The writing was emotive and made me feel for both Fengxia and Tsung-dao, and I have a very soft spot for sci-fi stories. A sad story with a sweet ending.

Honorable Mentions: Kaishai, Tyrannosaurus, and Sebmojo!

Kaishai- Your story about the Genius loci and a girl who can't stay falling in love while growing up together makes for a bittersweet story. The characters themselves were interesting (and the idea of a Genius loci being born into a human form that can grow up and go to school is fascinating) although I did find the chase to be a little unnecessary, it got the story where it needed to go for Annie to believe him.

Tyrannosaurus- A little creepy, sad, and sweet at the end. I know I gave you a tough prompt to work with to have even a minimally likable protagonist, and you did well with it. The idea of them relearning each other at the end is a very moving one.

Sebmojo- Your story was joyful, and I like that a lot. I love the catalog of librarian frowns and the possible start of a relationship through House of Leaves-style defacement of library books. It makes you wonder what else is going on in that guy's head and where in the world the relationship would go.

Dishonorable Mention: Unfunny poster - your story did not earn the angst it was trying to convey. There was a lot in the writing itself that could have been trimmed down or sharpened, and the characters lacked any defining characteristics beyond 'brave' or 'bright personality'. The relationship was set up but I did not feel enough investment with the characters and there was an awful lot of telling and not showing.

Loser: Fuschia Tude - I also gave you a tough prompt to work with to make the protagonists likable or interesting, as adultery is generally a great way to get a character hated. Unfortunately, your take on it didn't work so well for me. The connection between May and Darren wasn't really fleshed out, and the friendship between Darren and Sam suffers from the same deficit. This story might have fared a little better with a little more melodrama, or more development for the characters as individuals. As it stands currently it's just teenagers being teenagers which is realistic, but not terribly interesting which is the capital crime for this prompt.

DQ's: Chairchucker and Ninjalicious who submitted their stories three hours, and a day and a half after the deadline passed respectively. They are still better than GenJoe, Ironic Twist, sparksbloom and QuoProQuid who did not show up at all.

I cede the throne to you, Antivehicular.

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