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DJ Dublell
Dec 13, 2008


What better way to start writing than trial by fire? I'm in.

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DJ Dublell
Dec 13, 2008


Part of the Forest
(762 words)
Beast: Jaculus


Simple. We get deliveries like this all the time. Colin and I even talked our way into a little bonus. Told the client that forest jobs take longer, but really, I just hate mosquitoes as much as they love me. If I’m going to be bug-food, I better loving get paid for it.

But we do take pride in our work: twenty-seven years and not one missed delivery, and we go through a lot. When Colin first taught me the business, he’d frequently stroke his silver beard and growl, “Ye gotta stay in shape and bring a weapon, ‘cause ye never know when some twat’ll try to shank ye from behind.”

He often tells me stories of beasts that sound like fairy tales, and stories of men that keep adults awake at night. Any other person, I’d swear they’re loving with me, but there’s something earnest about that gruff old man, and I knew—from the start—that I could trust him with my life. He treats me like the kid he never had. Having each other’s backs for so many years makes his stories a lot less terrifying.

After packing basic supplies and readying the package, I check my dagger’s blade with a forefinger; nice and sharp. Colin looks over my shoulder as I sheath it in my belt, miming a stabbing motion in my back. We exchange a few laughs and mimed back stabbings before setting off.

We reach the forest and my life immediately becomes miserable. Mosquitoes are having their way with me: twenty loving bites in twenty loving minutes.

“How the gently caress do you not get bit? Not once? They come from loving nowhere!”

The old bundle of muscles raises a finger to shush me as he leads the way.

Though my mosquito bites are legion, there’s something about the forest in the evening that unnerves me enough to forget about the itching. Squeaks and shadows that may or may not be trees or creatures. A thickening canopy that threatens to block out the sky with every step. Closing in.

Colin turns around and meets my eyes.

“Places like these, ye’ll see an’ hear many things. Take ‘em all in. Then the things that can really get ye stand out much more.”

I take a moment to ground myself: dried broken sticks in the underbrush, perhaps from other travelers; tree branches disturbed by weakening gusts of wind; leaves shifting from little critters, and shadows shifting with them; the echoing taps of a woodpecker against a distant tree; the creaks of shifting bark, and the bugs beginning their evening squeals. I breathe deeply.

“gently caress you, Colin."

The old man grins and we move forward.

As the evening darkens, Colin lights his torch. Its crackle and orange glow—though not part of the forest—are soothing to me. I lose myself in them. The old man stops suddenly, snapping me out of my trance.

“What’s--”

I see a shadowy bolt of lightning dart towards and away from my mentor. He falls to the ground, limp, his throat a twisted mass of gore soaking the underbrush.

I unsheathe my dagger, head pounding, blood boiling. I listen for the sounds of the forest from a few hours earlier, guided by the light of the old man’s fallen torch.

Breathe.

Can’t hear anything. What stands out?

Breathe!

My left leg buckles and pain radiates through my lower body. I look down and catch a glimpse of a serpent, latched onto my thigh.

I swing at it with my dagger. Miss. It darts upwards into the canopy, taking a chunk of leg with it.

Pain roars within my left leg. Shifting my back against a tree and slowly balancing on my good leg, I clutch the dagger with all of my strength.

Breathe…

I drop my dagger as pain screams into my right arm, the snake removing another chunk of my flesh.

Slumping to the ground, I feel a sharp heat spreading from my wounds and roiling through my body. loving venom. Fantastic.

My head lands softly onto some leaves as the faint crackle of Colin’s torch enters my awareness. His killer comes into my field of vision, and I notice its wings for the first time.

Venom claws at my insides. The torchlight reflects on the winged serpent’s eyes, which stare directly into my own.

Of course! I couldn't see or hear it before, but this creature is always part of the forest’s sights and sounds. Now it waits for the life to leave the bloody mess in front of it. Simple.

DJ Dublell
Dec 13, 2008


Thanks for the crit, Yoruichi, that’s very helpful.

Antivehicular posted:

Okay, so, first things first: :toxx: to complete all my outstanding judge crits before submission deadline for week 337.

Furthermore, I'll do crits for Week 336 stories for anyone who requests one. These may be later than the deadline above, because I have like 40 crits to write, holy hell, but I'll do my best to be timely.
I’ll take you up on that offer. Thanks!

DJ Dublell
Dec 13, 2008


sebmojo posted:

I should be able to, but: Satan.

:toxx: to crit all stories last week by 24 jan 2359 pst - speak up if you want a line by line

Missed this earlier, but a line by line would be helpful.

DJ Dublell
Dec 13, 2008


Thanks for the crit, Staggy!

Bad idea, but I'm in this week, with flash.

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