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Aug 2, 2002

4 early submissions, 28 procrastinators... sad!

early sub word bonus ends. 1,300 word limit now


Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

Orb of Chaos 2: Revenge of Zorax
1179 word, Chaos Orb MTG card

Autumn finally wins control in the pasture beyond Danielle's hobby-farm as I help set up Brian's camera on the tripod. Summer's last breath is a vibrant blue sky, obscured only by a single Swiss-Miss marshmallow of a cloud. Danielle is distributing costumes from her duffle bag, her red hair matching the leaves dancing across the meadow.

I'm already wearing the big white wizard beard when Evan decides that he and I are switching roles. He's going to play Izrendo, the wise mentor, and I'll be playing Zorax, the bad guy.

"You had a big fuckin' growth spurt over the summer," says Evan. He's made sure to include the F-word at least once in every sentence since the start of seventh grade. "gently caress, everyone knows the tallest has to the fuckin' bad guy."

The logic doesn't make sense. Sure, maybe I'm an inch or two taller, but he's more poised, less gangly. I know his game. Ever since he came back from Florida with stories of making out with his cousin's "mega hot" friend, his interest in making the Orb of Chaos trilogy has clearly waned, no matter how long Brian and I try to prolong the childish age of dragons and spaceships. Girlfriends and kissing are the future, it seems, and Evan's determined to come out on top. The real reason he wants to switch roles is so he can be scene partners with Danielle.

"No, I think you should be..." says Brian, who got a digital camcorder for his birthday and is therefore our director. But Evan glares at Brian before he can finish and Brian shuts up. Brian and I are both clinging to Evan's confident maturity. If Evan decides to ditch us in favor of sexier pursuits than high-fantasy filmmaking, we'll be reduced to regular dorks.

So I change out of the blue wizard cloak into Zorax's heavy black robe, sighing my annoyance the whole time. The costumes are Danielle's RenFest outfits, a significant improvement to the bathrobes the wizards wore in the original Orb of Chaos.

Danielle's family moved in across the street from me over the summer, and each time my parents went to visit hers, Danielle and I played GameCube in her basement. I had told Evan and Brian she had the costumes and scenery for our movie, so she must be included. I didn't tell them I wanted a full day to work up the courage to ask Danielle to go to Chamber of Secrets with me. But now she's going to spend all her scenes with Evan, with his elegant black hair and unpimpled cheeks. Sure enough, when we start shooting the scene where Izrendo teaches Shackle how to use magic, Evan takes Danielle's hands to guide her through the Incantational Dance. It's certainly a creative interpretation of what I wrote for the script.

I find the Orb of Chaos in the pocket of Zorax's sinister robe. For the first film we'd used a tennis ball, but now the Orb's a smokey gray, sickly-faced ceramic moon that Evan had stolen from atop of the art teacher's desk. Just touching it, I feel perfectly comfortable as Zorax, Dark King of Ku'ul-Khada.

Evan starts cracking up in the scene where he's supposed to tell Shackle that the Orb of Chaos was stolen from the temple, and Danielle cracks up too as she hears him laugh, and they laugh at each other's laughter long after both have forgotten what, if anything, was originally funny. As I caress the Orb's glossy wisps, I bathe in its warm anger.

It's time to film the climax. I stand on one side of the pasture's little creek. Evan's tied up beside me, the hostage Izrendo. Danielle poses on the other side of the river, fancy RenFest sword unsheathed.

"So, Shackle, you have come to rescue your friend," I say with a smug cackle. "This will make things much easier for me. Now you will both die!"

"You may have the Orb of Chaos, Zorax, but the cause of justice will strike you down," Danielle says with dignified rage as she charges into the creek.

She slashes up at me, and I block her stroke with my axe.

"Shackle, no!" Evan cries. "You shouldn't have come back for me. Save yourself!"

"I had to, Izrendo!" shouts Danielle. "I love you!" The line in the script was "It's the only way to free Talamaran!" I then recall that Danielle had only agreed to be in the movie when she learned Evan was involved.

Brooke flirts with Evan in study hall. Anna flirts with him in social studies. Katrina and Amy and Taylor flirt with him in the halls between classes. Anywhere I find myself with Evan, everyone always looks past me. The Orb weighs heavy in my pocket, and I see the future laid before me: Evan, making a whole party laugh, and me, just kinda standing there. Evan in a room full of strangers all acting like they've loved him for years, and me, still just kinda standing there. I'm a moon to Evan's sun, and gravity will always pull everything to him.

I'm supposed to kick Danielle into the creek, but instead, I turn back towards Evan. I smack him. Brian comes in for a closer shot.

"So, my old friend. This is how it ends," I sneer. I hit Evan again.

"Zorax!" he groans. He still thinks it's part of the scene. I punch that silly delusion out of him.

"What the gently caress, dude?" he breathes. The Orb requests I unleash its power, and I happily comply.

"Now, Izrendo, you die!" I cry, and thrust out my arm, clutching the Orb in my palm.

A bolt of lightning descends from the lonely, fluffy cloud above us and strikes Evan. For a moment the world is enveloped in soft, brutal white.

Evan is just kinda standing there for a moment. Then he blinks and falls to his knees. The Orb is suddenly still and silent, just some silly clay knick-knack.

Everyone is still. Danielle is knee-deep in the creek, Brian is crouched beside Evan, and I'm standing tall, the Orb held firm in my outstretched arm. The only thing that moves are Evan's eyeballs, scanning from Danielle to me and from me to Brian.

"Brian, please tell me you fuckin' got that," he says, then collapses into the tall prairie grass.

Danielle gets Evan to his feet and supports his weight as we walk back towards her house. Of course I'll do whatever I can to help. I'll tell the paramedics whatever they ask me. But still, I can't help but ponder everyone in the seventh grade whispering about how Evan survived a freak lightning strike. I imagine Brooke and Anna and Katrina and Amy and Taylor and Danielle all asking him about what it felt like, hoping to get some time with him alone to hear the whole story. I reach into the pocket of the cloak, and the Orb is once again alive with cruelty's cozy buzz.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


Prompt: Birdorb


Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at 21:41 on Dec 20, 2021

Mar 19, 2008

Look, if you had one shot
or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
in one moment
Would you capture it...
or just let it slip?


crabrock posted:

this orb is too big and too shiny! how tf can you even use an orb like that?

A Gift From Orbitron
1300 words

Okay — in my defense I fly between six systems a week, so it’s hard to keep track of the Sol calendar. Sure, it doesn’t absolve me from forgetting her birthday — twice — but I think it’s worth noting. Buying a fancy new warp drive and not telling her about it? Also not the best decision, which I somehow made worse by claiming I needed it for work, like she was dumb enough to think I needed the Warp-o-Tron 5000 to shuttle tourists around.

From there spawned a constellation of grievances: you never clean the air filters, you always leave the toilet seat dilated, etc. That wasn’t new, but it usually ended with makeup sex and pancakes — not her packing her overnight bag, and catching the first shuttle off-station.


I thought maybe we both just needed some space, and I really didn’t want to deal with any people; so I keyed in the coordinates for the most isolated destination in my shuttle’s memory, and cranked electronica for three hours while brainstorming ways to make good with Hannah. I’d gotten as far as “sell the warp drive and buy her something nice, you moron” when I arrived at the planet Orbitron.

After centuries of science and surveying, it turns out there wasn’t much to the planet besides an (admittedly very big, admittedly very shiny) orb. Occasionally I’d shuttle acolytes over to make offerings, as they believed a prophesied “conduit with the universe” would unleash its magic upon the world. To the rest of us, it was just a giant ball, without any real attraction.

I put the shuttle on standby, and eyed the emergency repairs kit with its hidden compartment.

Well, there was one way to make the trip more enjoyable.


I was hoping the orb would elevate my high in some magical, mystical way, but even so close, looking up at it wasn’t filling me with anything more profound than dizzy nausea. Perhaps I needed to get closer? I ducked under the security rope below faded “Welcome to Orbitron” placards, crept over to the supports — as if there were anybody within fifty light years to watch a stoned pilot trespassing — and, rolling sleeves up to elbows, began to climb the struts.

Once on the landing, I raised the joint to my mouth for another toke. From here, the ship below was so small and so distant, and I began to feel the sense of awe that must drive the acolytes to this pilgrimage. I reached out to touch the orb, and recoiled as a bolt of energy leaped to my hand and burned my joint to ash.

‘Jesus!’ I cried, collapsing back against the railing. ‘What the gently caress?’

You, the orb spoke, as a face resolved into the swirling mists of its surface, are no worthy acolyte.

‘Wow,’ I said, standing up and brushing myself off. ‘Rude.’

The face was old, bearded, and set within a heavy hood. Gnarled hands gripped either side of a chair as the face leaned forward. And yet—you have summoned me, he said. What is your desire?

‘My only desire,’ I spat, ‘was to get high without some old creep being a major loving buzzkill.’

Is there nothing else? The mists parted to show a vision of Hannah drinking at our local, probably talking poo poo about me to all our friends. Speak the words and she will be yours again.

‘Okay, first off, good job hacking my socials, don’t think I haven’t seen that before,’ I said, ticking off fingers as I went. ‘Second, she’s not property, it’s not like I own her and it’s super sketchy to think of it that way. Third, like I need the help of some dude who lives in a giant ball—’

You do need help, he insisted. You forgot her birthday. Twice!

Okay, I definitely didn’t admit to that on my socials.

‘Who are you?’ I asked, leaning back against the railing and folding my arms across my chest.

I am Zorblox the First, disciple to the all-seeing Eye, arbiter of—

‘Okay, Zorblox-who-lives-in-a-ball, I don’t know what Hannah’s paid you to set this up, but I am one-hundo-percent not in the mood for some weird test,’ I said. ‘I’m happy to talk if she is, but not through some unwashed scrublord from Galactica Prime or whatever-the-gently caress.’

I serve no man or master! the face screeched, and grew to almost fill the orb. You will treat Zorblox with respect or face the wrath of the All-Seeing Eye!

‘You’re a tourist attraction!’ I cried, waving back at my ship. ‘You’re not even a very good one!’

I am your only hope to rejoin your beloved!

‘Right, sure,’ I said. ‘The foundation of every strong and healthy relationship is the blessing of some centuries-old lunatic in a bathrobe.’

The face dissolved and I stepped away from the orb, before I felt a rush of energy beside me and turned to see Zorblox standing there, wearing a thick grey cloak, a ball of blue light growing larger in his outstretched hands. Your insolence will be tolerated no longer! he cried.

Nope,’ I said, and went for the struts.

From the base, I ran for the ship, narrowly dodging a blast of energy as it scorched the ground by my feet. I glanced back and he was drifting down, tendrils of energy flowing from the orb to his outstretched hands. It almost seemed the orb was shrinking — but that might also have been because I was running away from it very quickly.

Once aboard my shuttle, I ran straight to the cockpit, stumbling as something struck my ship and set off the alarms. I pushed the throttle as far as it would go, and heard my engines straining against the wizard’s power; their thrust no match for the centuries of acolyte devotion Zorblox was channelling from the rapidly-shrinking orb.

Of course, there was one way—

I flipped up the casing and rested a thumb on the trigger for the Warp-o-Tron 5000. I’m pretty sure using it planet-side would void the warranty, but then, I’m not sure it covered being vaporised by magical wizards. I kept one eye on Zorblox as he leaned in to his spell, and then pulled the trigger.

There was enough time to see Zorblox look up, eyes wide, before his tendrils of magic flew apart and everything shimmered in a wave of heat. The last I saw of Zorblox was him pushing back against the indomitable strength of incredibly expensive engineering, bathed in a pulsating orange glow, before the sky before me narrowed into a pinpoint of light — and I was gone.


I met Hannah at our local, and she moved her bag off the seat next to her so I could sit down, so, I hadn’t completely hosed up.

‘You were gone a while,’ she said, eyebrow raised.

‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘Did a lot of thinking.’


The bartender placed two beers before us, and I emptied half of mine before looking her in the eyes.

And I know I hosed up, and I understand if you can’t forgive me, but I’d like to try—’

‘I think we both could’ve handled things better,’ she smiled, before reaching into her bag. ‘I know it’s early, but I got you a birthday present.’

I must have looked surprised, but she just smirked as she handed me a rectangular box. I pulled off the wrapping to reveal—

‘Cute,’ I said, smiling. ‘365 Days of Warp Drives.’

‘I’ve gone ahead and circled my birthday,’ she teased.

‘Speaking of,’ I said, pulling out my emergency repair kit with its hidden compartment.

She reached in and pulled out a fine silver chain attached to a very small, very shiny orb.

‘Happy birthday,’ I told her.

Aug 18, 2014


Prompt : teratoma orb

Kill it with fire
1216 words

When the door starts to open, Emil forces himself to smile at the disheveled man in dirty robes.

“It's not my fault, Emil! I hope you don't believe what those rumors say.” The man blurts.

“Don't worry, Amalric, I’ve known you for a long time and you're too much of a klutz to be responsible for those disappearances. I also know you need some company, and above all, some house cleaning.”

“Oh. It's the end of the season already?" Amalric looks relieved for a second. "Do you think it's necessary this time?”

Emil looks behind his friend and shrugs. The entrance is a clutter of books and clothes with a helping of dust. Amalric looks reluctant but steps back, allowing the other wizard to enter. With a gesture and some telekinesis, Emil attaches his cloak to a mannequin and starts to work his cleaning magic. Books go here in a nice pile, clothes go there to get cleaned and folded. At one point, he finds a little golden ring with a blue gemstone. He checks that his friend is gone from the room before tucking the ring in his sleeve. Amalric never pays, but he never complains about the missing objects so it's fair game, right?

Time to go clean the storage room. This one is full of brewing ware, ingredients and other knicks and knacks. It's also so cluttered that Emil wonders how his alchemist of a friend can find anything when he needs it. He gets to work and his mind starts to wander. Could Amalric, that doormat, really be the snatcher? And if so, was this little visit really worth the risk? Well, sulphur fees are so expensive these days, you have to make do with what you have.

Then his gaze spots something in the middle of all the mess.
It looks like a pink egg, but one that would have grown teeth on one side and hair on the other. Emil winces in disgust and fights an urge to launch his signature fire spell on the thing. How is Amalric in possession of such an eyesore? Emil levitates the thing on a table and steps out.

“Amalric? I've found something odd in your storage! Is that yours?” He shouts as he crosses the corridor.

“What are you talking about?”

Amalric's voice comes as a muffled sound.

“I think it'll be faster if you take a look.”

When the two wizards enter the room, they both stare at the thing. It's not in the spot Emil left it and there is some kind of liquid trail on the table.

“It moved. It’s alive? What is it?” says Emil, gesturing at the table.

“It's... I created that thing a few weeks ago by fumbling a recipe. I thought it could've been useful as a human teeth and hair stockpile. I kinda forgot about it, though. You said it moved?”

“I'm sure of it. It was in the middle of the table when I dropped it. How did you manage to fumble a recipe so hard, you created a living orb?”

Amalric clams up for a second and ends up giving a side glance to Emil.

“It's complicated.”

“Then you won't mind if I burn it up, right?”

“What? Then again you said it moved. Go ahead, but do it outside, please. Last time you burned something inside my house, I had so much trouble getting rid of the smell.”

Emil smiles. His first real smile since he entered the house.

“Your wish is my command. Can you get me some tea while I prepare the pyre? I might need it after I'm through with it.”

Then he makes the thing float towards the courtyard. As he passes by Amalric, an eye opens in the middle of the orb. Emil blinks, but the eye is gone. Bloody hell. Hallucination or not, the faster that thing is burned, the better. The good thing about this house is that it's far from the city. And the rumor said that the farmers around here were all abducted by the snatcher.

The courtyard is mostly overrun by weeds, but there is a corner filled with sand. Emil drops the thing on the sand and closes his eyes to focus.

Don't hurt us.

Emil opens his eyes in a flash. The orb does have an eye and it's staring at him.

“Telepathy now? I almost feel bad for you, but you're really too creepy for my taste.”

If you hurt us, we will hurt you. You are Father's friend. We do not want to hurt you.

“You're gonna hurt me, huh? I'd like to see you try.”

The wizard focuses again, and throws a fireball at the thing. At least it should've been a fireball, but only a drop of liquid fire escapes Emil's hands, and flies directly in the orb's eye.

It screams in Emil's head. The scream then echoes from all over the courtyard.

As Emil turns around, stunned by the mental noise, he sees dozens of living orbs emerging from the weeds. Some are larger and made of human flesh, some show rats fangs and hair, others are more bug than animal. And they're all shambling towards him.

We will hurt you. And then you'll be part of us.

Panicked, Emil tries to hurl fire at the things, but nothing comes out of his hands.

“Amalric, help me! I can't use my fire!”

No time to use fancy magic like portals or flight. At least telekinesis still works. Emil uses it to throw some of the things at the walls, but they don't die and they're too many. At this rate he's gonna get overrun.

Then he feels a pain in his heel. He forgot about the first one. He floats it in front of him and kicks it to the other side of the courtyard. At that moment, Amalric walks in, a mug of warm tea in his hand and a dumbfounded expression on his face.

“What are you doing? I thought you were supposed to make a pyre out of it.”

“Look around you and start helping me, you bloody airhead!”

Amalric looks around and screams.

“What the hell is this?”

“Dunno, but I can't cast fire spells for some reason.”

“Oh dear. I forgot about the ring.”

“What ring? What do you mean?”

“I've made a cursed ring as payback because I know you like to steal my things. You don't even have to wear it and it makes fire magic fizzle. But it was supposed to be just a prank! I just wanted you to look like a fool in front of others, not to make you defenseless.”

Emil stares at Amalric, stunned. Then he punches him in the face.

At the same time, a hundred voices scream in his head.

We will not let you hurt Father.

His leg is going numb. He looks down and sees teeth growing on his ankle.

“No. No!”

You will no longer hurt Father. You will be part of us.

The numbness spreads everywhere. In his body. In his mind. He can hear Amalric screaming about not being anyone's father and pleading someone to save Emil, but it seems so far away. Finally, his consciousness fade.

Too late for saving. All that remains is us.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

The Honorable Guild Of Barber Surgeons
bumpy orb
1290 words

It hadn’t been that long ago that Olyaga Haaskdottir could walk thirty miles in a day with a heavy pack, fight a horde of monsters, and then drink her bodyweight in ale without thinking about it. Her friend and fellow Adventurers’ Guild member, Vladim, was a priest of the Radiant God, and his divine healing always set her right.

But these days it didn’t seem to stick. Her knee clicked when she walked, and after only a few miles she was plagued with stabbing pains. Her shoulder ached even when she wasn’t wearing her pack, making it hard to ride when she could afford a horse, and hard to help around camp.

She gritted her teeth and pushed through it, as was the orcish way. Then they were ambushed by gnolls on the way back to the capital city. Olyaga roared, charging at the leader, her ax held low to cleave under his armor… and then her knee gave out halfway through the charge, sending her sprawling, an easy target for the gnoll’s war-club. Thank gods for the sacred fury that flowed through her in times of dire need, or she’d be dead.

Vladim drew a line. If magical healing wasn’t working, she needed the mundane. “The Guild has a new contract with the Barber-Surgeons,” he said. “Pay them a visit when we get home.”

Olya groaned. “Who pays real gold for a barber-surgeon when clerics exist?”

Vladim shrugged, heartlessly. “People whose knees hurt even after their long-suffering clerics heal them a dozen times.”

Olya grumbled, but the fact was the church of the Radiant God had already done all it could for her. The Honorable Guild of Barber-Surgeons was the last chance for her to be pain free again.

A week and a half later she found herself sitting self-consciously in a tiny room in the HGOBS guildhall. The room was pretty bare, the sole furnishings were a bench with a comfortable cushion on it and a desk upon which lay a blue sphere.

Olya picked it up. The barber-surgeons weren’t mages, so it couldn’t be proper magic at all. It was warm to the touch, covered in tiny bumps, and was made of some tough, dense material. It reminded her of the hide of some beasts she'd fought, though they weren't the same vibrant color.

Eventually a middle aged goblin woman hustled into the room. "Hello, my name is Kha-cirript<click>. Just call me Kelly. Adventurer Haaskdottir, is it?" She squinted up at Olya, the top of her topknot barely reaching higher than the half-orc's knee. "What brings you here?"

“My knee. And my shoulder.”

"Hmm." She took a lead pencil and wrote some things on a piece of paper labeled with Olya’s name. "What happened to them?"

"Log trap smashed my knee last year. The Radiant God healed it, but it's hurt ever since. And a troll broke my shoulder last month. Same thing, except I let the wizard try healing me. It healed, but now it just hurts whenever I move it." Olya rotated her shoulder, wincing for emphasis. "I carry a heavy pack and need to walk or ride long distances. I'm too young to retire from the Guild, but I can barely walk like this."

Kelly scribbled some more notes in handwriting so illegible it may as well have been arcane script. "Your guild paperwork says you use a battleaxe? When you try other weapons, does the pain lessen?”

“Not really. Carrying less weight helps my knee some, but the shoulder always aches.”

Kelly nodded and picked up the bumpy orb.

"This won't hurt much," she said, ”Lie down on the bench please.” When Olya did so, the barber-surgeon ran the ball along the back of her leg, then across her shoulder, moving it in little circles in such a way that brought out a deep ache in Olya’s muscles.

“What the gently caress is that?” Olya asked, grunting as the pressure increased. She wouldn’t have thought a skinny little goblin would be able to put in so much pressure.

“Therapeutic massage,” the woman said. “Also diagnostic. You can sit up now.” As Olya did so, she saw that the little ball had turned from a blue to a mixed shade of green and brown. Kelly took a few more notes and placed the ball back on the desk. “Bad news first. You’ve got arthritis in your knee and some swelling in your shoulder, probably from repetitive motion. Healing magic takes care of that poo poo when you’re young, but as you get older…” she shrugged. “The gods assume that older bodies just wear down. That’s why you still die of old age even if you’ve been healed a thousand times.”

“So what’s the good news?”

“Good news is there’s a healing ritual you can perform daily. I’ll teach it to you. If you do this every morning, your pain will go away. Does that make sense?”

Olya nodded, slowly. She’d have to give up some sleep, but it might be worth it. Kelly continued. “I’ll show you the steps today. Come back day after tomorrow and every other day for the next two weeks. Once you have the ritual down, feel free to go out adventuring again.”

The barber-surgeon led her to a slightly larger room, this one paneled with mirrors, and began showing her the steps to a slow ritual dance, bouncing on her toes, rotating her ankles, stretching out her hips and raising and lowering her arms in sequence. She held the little orb in various positions as she did, and she watched it slowly move from green and brown back to blue.

“Can I keep this?” Olya asked, holding up the ball. Kelly shook her head.

“Sorry, no freebies.”

Olya was about to respond when a werewolf came flying through the doorway and smashed into the mirror behind them. Kelly gaped at it, “Mr. Arkanos, are you all right?!”

The wolf rolled over. “Gnolls,” he managed to mumble through a broken jaw. “Dozens of them.”

Olya was not interested in Mr. Arkanos. She could feel the heat filling her body as the sacred fury came over her. “Kelly,” she rasped before the red haze descended. “Where is my axe?”

Kelly shook herself out of her daze. “Front desk! We’ll barricade in here!” The goblin woman opened a hidden compartment and took out a pair of crossbows and a quiver of bolts. “Go!”

Olya didn’t need permission.

A pair of gnolls blocked her path. They leered at her, seeing her unarmored and unarmed. Or so they thought. Olya whipped the little orb at the larger of the two, striking it directly between the eyes with the heavy ball. It collapsed, dazed, and Olya snatched up the ball and the gnoll’s sword and buried it in the other gnoll’s gut, withdrawing it in a trail of bloody ruin as she ran toward the front desk.

The lobby was chaos. The Barber-Surgeons guildhall was across from the Adventurers’ Guild, and so between the gnolls and every journeyman adventurer, it was an absolute sea of blood and viscera. Olya’s axe had been used, but then discarded. She scooped it up and went to work.

When the red haze vanished, Olya found herself standing next to Kelly. The barber-surgeon had abandoned the crossbows and was armed instead with a pair of long daggers, almost short swords on her frame. Kelly glanced up at her, grinning fiercely.

“How’s the shoulder?” She asked.

Olya blinked and shrugged, testing it. “Still sore,” she said. “But better.”

Kelly patted Olya on her hip, which was about as high as she could reach. “Thank you for your help. Go ahead and keep the diagnostic orb. We’ll see you in a few days.”

Feb 25, 2014


crabrock posted:

this is a classic orb that some scientists found or invented, i'm not sure. i hope they figured out how to activate it for good and not evil!

Nowhere Else

flerp fucked around with this message at 20:21 on Dec 31, 2021

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

This is the way that it all falls.
This is how I feel,
This is what I need:

The Lesson
1254 words


crabrock posted:

this is your standard, run-of-the-mill orb, but the wizard who owns it is weird and a normal orb with a weird wizard ends up being a pretty fuckin weird orb

Hux held the silver orb aloft, scrutinizing its surface under the sputtering shop lights. After a moment, he smiled and clucked his tongue. His voice was gruff, but kind.

“Well, you’ve definitely got a wizard in there.”

Nathaniel groaned and walked frustrated little circles. He kept a cautious distance from the shop’s jumble of runed artifacts and assorted phylacteries. He turned back to Hux.

“You can get rid of it, right? Like kill the thing?”

Hux rapped his gnarled fingers across the orb’s surface, oblivious to the question.

“Ooh, he’s jammed in there real good, too. It’s a nice find, mister. You see how my reflection is all, mmm, malevolent-like? With the eyebrows? Aw, will you look at that: it’s growing me a little goatee. What a dramatic! How lovely.” Hux paused, suddenly wary. His eyes darted up to Nathaniel. “Hold on, kill him?”

Nathaniel loudly cleared his throat. His voice carried an edge of harrowed desperation.

“Look, I’m a little strapped for time. Can you fix it or not?”

Hux set the orb down and leaned back. It rolled back and forth, reflective distortions dancing across its surface, then stopped all on its own. Hux favored Nathaniel with a gentle grin, warped and oblong in the inflected mirror of the orb.

“Sir, do you know why wizards orbulate themselves like this?”

Nathaniel’s voice dripped with discomfited sarcasm.

“Uh, I dunno, it lost a bet with a dragon? I don’t really care, why don’t you just-”

But Hux went on, passing right over Nathaniel’s condescending protestation. The orb twinkled merrily.

“They learn, they study for centuries; that’s what wizards do. And then, one day…”

Hux snapped his fingers; Nathaniel flinched.

“...they’re done. They’re gnarled and gruff and tired, and they shrink down into a repository, just like this one. Then, when an opportunity appears, an important lesson to be learned by a compelling student, their orb makes itself known.”

Nathaniel was silent. Hux continued, incredulous.

“Nothing? You’re not even a little curious? I mean, those words, “opportunity”, and “lesson”, they’re loaded, they really beg some kind of-”

Nathaniel threw his hands up.

“Listen, if I had literally anywhere else to take this thing, or the cash to buy a real gift, I would; this whole deal grosses me out. Is there a manager back there I can talk to?”

Hux regarded Nathaniel with genial perplexity.

“Oh, so it’s a gift? In that case, I suppose I could do it on the quick. If you don’t mind me asking, why the rush?”

Nathaniel scowled, but with more than just frustration: there was malice in his eyes.

“I mind. It’s personal.”

Unperturbed, Hux smiled wide and slapped the table.

“Well then, sir, I do believe I have you over a barrel.”

Nathaniel shuddered violently. Hux continued.

“Let’s make a deal, how about that? You tell me why you want this orb ‘fixed’, the whole story. If your reason is convincing enough, I’ll do it.”

Nathaniel bristled; the whole shop suddenly felt hostile and cramped, its racks of shrouded knicknacks ignoring the overhead lights and casting aberrant shadows over the dark wood floor.

“God drat it. Fine. See, it’s my kid Rudy’s birthday. I forgot last year, and, well, I kinda forgot this year, too. So I’m driving home and I see this orb just sitting there in a pile of junk on the street. Money’s tight and I figured that he would like it...”

Hux nodded; kids really love orbs.

“...but I start driving home and the drat thing starts whispering at me from the backseat. It makes my ‘check engine’ light go on, it’s messing with my blinkers, and being a real pain in my rear end, but I don’t have time to get another gift. I always heard that you know what to do with this stuff, that’s the only reason I’d ever come into this place.”

Hux leaned forward now, his wild eyebrows narrowing. His bemused expression had changed; now the shopkeeper was deadly earnest. Nathaniel’s stomach jerked. Hux spoke softly.

“You tried to avoid my question, sir, and I don’t appreciate it.” Hux was stone-faced now, his voice carrying a hint of restrained agitation. “Exactly what is your problem with the orb?”

Nathaniel shifted in his chair. He distinctly loathed the way Hux had enunciated the word “problem”.

“Okay, so Rudy’s a He doesn’t make friends. He cuts class and reads these strange, stupid books all day. He’s always trying to enlarge the cat, or animate the kitchen appliances, and it’s not normal. I’ll give my son a gift, but I’ll be god-damned if I let some orb-stuck wizard encourage him.”

Hux began polishing the orb with a tattered rag. He peered into its surface.

“Oh, the orb doesn’t like that. Doesn’t like that at all. Here, take a look.”

Nathaniel shrank away in disgust, but Hux pressed the orb forward, almost shoving it into his chest. He took a hesitant peek down.

Nathaniel saw his own face in the pulsating reflection: cold but furious, gone grey behind the eyes. The image undulated, dissolved, and came back into sharp relief. Hux pulled the orb back and Nathaniel took a deep breath. He glared at Hux, contempt writhing into his voice.

“It’s always the same with you people, isn’t it? You act all charming, all harmless, but you get off on this poo poo. Rudy was just fine, he was a good kid before your kind got your claws in him. You’re like a loving virus.” He crossed his arms, as if restraining himself. “Now, we had a deal.”

Hux looked down at the countertop as he cradled the orb in the crook of his arm. The old man was clearly unsettled after Nathaniel’s outburst, and tenderly patted the glinting orb.

“Rudy still sounds like a good kid.”

Nathaniel burst from the chair and leaned close to Hux, his breath running hot and sour over the old man’s face.

“Okay, you loving monster, new deal. Keep the orb, keep the wizard, and keep all the cryptic bullshit. Gimme something normal for Rudy off the shelf and I promise that I won’t come back here tomorrow with a gas can. Agreed?”

Hux didn’t rise to meet him. Instead, he peered into the orb for what, to Nathaniel, seemed like a very long time. The old man nodded, as if in response to something only he could hear.


Hux hobbled to a shelf near the back, past shelves of musty curios, and rustled around for a minute. He returned holding a plain wooden horse on wheels, its bridle trailing a long plain thread. Hux placed it on the countertop.

“This is all I have. I think it’s balsa, or something equally insipid. It’s just as requested: exceedingly normal and completely unstimulating.”

Nathaniel snatched the horse out of Hux’s hands. He glowered at the wizened old man.

“If this thing so much as winks at my son, I’m coming for you.”

Nathaniel stomped out of the shop and slammed the door shut, cursing all the way to his car.

Hux was silent for a while, listening to the wind playing through the branches outside. He heard Nathaniel’s car start, then squeal away. The old man looked into the wizard’s orb: its surface had gone opaque. After a moment, it weakly gleamed back to life. He sighed.

“Poor kid. Well, I do suppose he’ll get a lesson out of all this.”

Hux tipped the faltering orb between his hands.

“I just hope it’s the right one.”

Nov 11, 2012

god damn it, you've got to be kind

Dear Diary
sickness orb
1281 words

Jan 1
Happy New Year! My Mom got me this diary for Christmas.

I made resolutions, here they are:
- Get an A in 7th grade Math
- Try out for softball
- Make Tammy leave me alone
- Be nicer to my Mom
- Lose 10lbs

Jan 3
Sorry I forgot to write yesterday LOL!

Today is my birthday. We went out and got cake after church. I don't like having my birthday so close to christmas because no-one gets me any good gifts. They say they combined them into Christmas and new years, but I know its because they don't care enough to go shopping twice.

I wanted an orb because now I'm finally old enough but Dad sent me a second-hand sickness orb he probably got a garage sale. Mom went quiet for a bit when I unwrapped it. I should be glad I got an orb but it sucks. I hate it and I hate my Dad and I hate my life and I wish I was never born.

Jan 4
I went back to school after break today. It sucked. I went into the restroom after lunch and Tammy and her friends were in there taking turns throwing up. Mom told me to ignore Tammy so she'd leave me alone but as soon as they saw me in the restroom she started calling me names. She said "I'd kick your rear end but you're too fat to feel it" and tossed wads of tp into the stall while I was trying to go.

Mom made chicken tetrazzini for dinner even though she knows I'm on a diet. She said I was too young to worry about my weight but she's old, no-one cares what she looks like. Then she offered to find someone to teach me how to use my orb safely. I told her I was fine and I didn't need lessons and she pulled that face where her lips go into a line.

Jan 5
In health class today Tammy kept whispering my name. I turned around to look and she yelled that I was harassing her and her friends called me a "creepy piggy."

Mom saw the orb on my bookshelf and asked me if I wanted her to take me to go practice with it somewhere safe. I lied and told her "yes but not now," so she'd get off my back.

Jan 6
School was really bad. Tammy was in the restroom again after school and every time I tried to go towards a stall she blocked me and said "my friend's going to use that one" but I really needed to go! I finally pushed her out of the way and she said it was assault and she was going to report me tomorrow.

Mom asked me again about practicing with the orb. She even got me some lame safety glasses! I wish she'd stay out of my business. I was mad at her so I tried to use it to give her a migraine. I think it worked because she went to bed early and left me alone?

Jan 7
Tammy showed me the report slip she'd written. I tried to grab it but she climbed on the table and dangled it up where I couldn't reach. She said she was going to send it in if I didn't do what she said. She told me to sit down so I did. I hate her.

When I got home I played with the orb more. I waited until Mom was asleep so she wouldn't nag me about being safe.

Jan 8
I had a great idea last night after I wrote in my diary! I used the orb to give myself a fever so I didn't have to go to school and see Tammy. Mom stayed home from work and made me tomato soup and let me lie under a blanket on the sofa.

Jan 9
Mom gave me some pamphlets for orb safety classes and a locking box to keep the orb in. I tried to tell her that I know what I'm doing but she didn't listen.

Jan 11
Mom drove me to school this morning and when I told her I didn't want to go she said "you'll feel better once you get there" and turned the radio up.

I don't want to write about what Tammy did. She still has that report slip and says she's using it to make me "behave."

Jan 12
Now I have the box I can sneak my orb into school! I did that today and did the fever trick after recess and the school nurse called Mom to come take me home so I didn't have to go to lunch or my afternoon classes or homeroom.

Jan 13
Today I made myself throw up after breakfast so Mom wouldn't make me go to school. She went to work but said we needed to talk after she got home tonight. She hasn't talked to me yet, I hope she forgot.

Jan 14
I made myself throw up breakfast again today but Mom took me to school anyway. Tammy was glaring at me in Math. I gave myself a fever after lunch so I could go to the nurse's office. Mom came to get me and drove me home but she was mad and told me that I needed to stop "crying wolf" to get out of things I didn't want to do.

Jan 15
Tammy tried to block me out of a restroom stall again today like she did last week. I told her she'd be sorry but all she did was laugh and mention the report slip. She doesn't know I've got an orb. Before I left school for the day I used it to make her sick.

Jan 16
I woke up early today and spent an hour working with the orb to make sure Tammy won't be at school on Monday.

Jan 17
Church was boring. Mom says I'm old enough now that I have to pay attention to the sermon. The pastor shook my hand on the way out of church and it was all wet and clammy. Gross.

Jan 18
Tammy wasn't in school today so it was good! In Health class we talked about "mindfulness" and I concentrated really hard on being "in the moment" when I brushed my teeth.

Jan 19
Tammy still wasn't in school. Her friends looked sad but they left me alone.
Mom made meatballs. They were greasy little spheres but I blotted them with a napkin and they weren't so gross. Mom told me to stop playing with my food.

Jan 20
Our homeroom teacher said Tammy is in the hospital and led us in prayer for her. Tammy's friends made a big deal about it but I didn't pray, instead I was really mindful of how it felt to breathe with my eyes closed.

Jan 21
None of Tammy's friends were in school today. They all got to skip so they could see her. I told my Mom about it and how unfair it was and she just made her lips go thin and told me to wash up for dinner.

Jan 22
Mom came in early and woke me up by sitting on my bed. She told me I was staying home from school. I didn't understand what was going on. She looked really sad and said Tammy was so sick she was going to die! She kept looking over at the orb box as she told me I'm going to go live with my Dad now and not to ever tell anyone at my new school about the orb.

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

Prompt: Corn Orb

Children and the Corn
1300 words

It was the Year of the Corn Orb in Pottersfield, Ohio. It had been the Year of the Corn Orb for several years. In fact, no one in Pottersfield could remember a time before the Corn Orb, before its life-sustaining nutrition, before the existence of the impenetrable corn maze that surrounded the city on every side. Every so often, someone tried to escape the Corn Orb’s benevolent glow by running into the maze, only to emerge several days later as warped husks, haunted by some terrible knowledge and full of a terrible and insatiable hunger. Those city leaders who expressed anti-corn sentiment tended to vanish, their images replaced with stock photos of corn fields.

Most people tried to make peace with these facts. Most lived quiet lives averting their gaze from the large corn sphere that hovered silently above the town square. Most people were not Elijah and Enoch. The two sat cross-legged in Enoch’s dad’s garage, piling supplies into their backpacks.

“You got the ropes?” Said Enoch, focused and practical as always.

“Eight feet!” Said Elijah in a loud, bright voice to disguise his dread. He smiled, looking toward Enoch for approval, for reassurance that attacking the Orb wouldn’t be a disaster. “Took it off my dad’s truck before he went to the husking plant.”

Enoch failed to notice the way Elijah was looking at him. “What about gloves? Did you find out what happens if we touch the Orb while we’re busting it apart?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so.” He frowned. I tried to ask my brother but he just started howling and clawing his face. That usually means, ‘no,’ but I could ask again if you really want…”

Elijah’s expression made it clear that he hoped he wouldn’t have to talk to his brother again. Ever since he’d gotten out of the maze, his brother had hidden himself inside his room and did little except whisper and devour large jugs of cream corn. The sounds of his slurping were unsettling but the things he murmured were worse. He spoke of a great nothing beyond the maze, oblivion. It haunted Elijah’s dreams.

“We should probably bring some just in case,” Enoch said. “My mom just got me some new gloves for last year’s Fall Jamboree so you can use those. I’ll use my old pair.”

He handed Elijah over a set of green and yellow gloves with a small cartoon corn on them. Elijah shuddered and took them while Enoch looked over the collection of rope and knives. “I think we’ve got this. I think we might actually be able to destroy the Orb and maybe, maybe, save the town.” He stood up and put his hands on his hips. “What do you think?”

Elijah thought a lot of things. He thought about what the Corn Orb might do to them if they failed. He thought about what might happen if they succeeded. He thought about the rustling of the maze on the edge of town, of whatever lay beyond it.

Instead of saying any of these things, he forced himself to smile. He did not want to let Enoch down, not here. Maybe when they arrived, he would find some way to stop him, to make him give up. Then, they could go back home and enjoy corn together. Elijah could spend forever with the friend who made his heart flutter.

“We could, uh, bring those little corn cob holder things?”

“Oh,” Enoch frowned. “I guess we could bring those.”


They loaded their bags onto their bikes and rode down toward the square. It was a short trip, dominated by Elijah’s nervous talking. He rambled about other places, other cities. He talked in a loud, high-pitched voice about the Big Apple. Even though there were no pictures of it in their geography textbooks, he worried whether a floating fruit would be better than a vegetable. He gave a nervous laugh and wondered if it even existed, if there was anything outside Pottersfield. He couldn’t stop himself.

“What do you think?” asked Elijah suddenly as he and Enoch passed by a colonial home overflowing with corn and corn-related products. Waterfalls of corn brine flowed from the upper window onto the grass and pooled across the lawn. “I know the corn is bad but, uh, at least we know what it is. That’s something right?”

Enoch swerved to avoid some of the juices. The plastic beads on his bike spokes rattled. “I think when we get out, we should meet with the president. They always let heroes meet the president in books and stuff.”

Elijah cast a baffled look to his friend as they approached the square. “What are you going to say to the president?”

“I think we should talk to him about reducing the recommended number of corn servings per meal,” he said. “One gallon per meal is a lot.” He paused. “A half would be better.”

“But what if he’s not—?” Began Elijah, but Enoch’s attention was elsewhere. They had arrived.


The town square was empty save for the giant floating Corn Orb and the usual mess of scarecrows beneath it. While the Orb had never communicated, never hinted at its motives or objectives, several of Elijah and Enoch’s neighbors had decided that they could ingratiate themselves to it by posting scarecrows to frighten away birds and vermin that might devour its flesh. The fact that no one had seen a bird near the square was proof enough that the system worked.

Enoch leaned his bike against one of the figures, making sure the mass of straw and burlap could support the bike’s weight. Then, he turned to his friend. “Are we ready?”

Elijah did not move from his bicycle. The Corn Orb glowed in the sky above them. He could not stop staring at the massive sphere, yellow and slick with butter. Several droplets plopped onto the ground and seeped into the street.

“Elijah?” Enoch said.

Elijah felt himself begin to shake. He could see the stalks in his brain. He could hear the rustling of the maze and hear his brother’s quiet muttering. “What if what we’re doing hurts people? What if… we get hurt or… or… there’s not anything—?”

Elijah felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked down and locked eyes with Enoch, his heart pounding.

“Whatever happens, we’ll be together. I won’t let you be alone.”

They stared into each other’s eyes for a long moment. Then, Enoch slapped on his gloves and took out the ropes. For several minutes, Enoch tried again and again to get the rope to stick to the Orb. Every time the rope made contact, it slid off.

It would have been so easy to let him continue failing. Instead, Elijah took a deep breath and took a step forward.

“What if we attach the corn cob holders to the rope so they catch?”

The scarecrows through the square rattled as they tied the small metal inserts to the ends of the rope. The Orb let out a pulse of energy as they stuck the giant sphere with it and heaved it downward. Inch by inch, it descended until, at last, it was in front of them.

Elijah said nothing, too stunned by their success. He lay a gloved hand on the Orb. The kernels were firm and warm, as if just cooked. The bright yellow was almost blinding up close.

Enoch took out the knives from the backpacks. “If we do this and it works, there’s no turning back. We gotta deal with whatever’s out there, beyond.” He waved his hand in the air. “We might find out stuff we wish we hadn’t.”

“So long as we have each other,” Elijah held out a hand for the knife. “I’m ready whenever you are.”

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008


Till Death Do Us Part
Prompt: Worst Orb(Wasp orb)
1,297 Words

Vanessa had moved on. At least that’s what she told anyone who bothered to ask. It was common courtesy in most places to neatly package away your suffering, so she did. People did occasionally wonder, but no one pressed her. As such, it was easy for her to slide back into esoteric practices that she had abandoned during the last four years of trying to earn Derek’s affection. After wondering for years if he loved her, she now held an ornate invitation in her hands that assured he did not.

It was a wax-stamped, matte-finished photocard of two lovers carrying on with the familiarity of old friends. ‘Save the date’ embossed in gold at the bottom. That was all she needed to put the scope of her relationship with Derek in real perspective. Suddenly, all the warnings from her family and friends proved themselves to be embarrassingly true. Vanessa and Derek had only been separated for three months, but the man and woman on the invitation had clearly known each other for much longer. His lack of commitment had been obvious to everyone but her, and this announcement made his betrayal complete. His beguiling of her had been dispelled by the intentional or mindless cruelty the invitation represented.

Vanessa didn’t really believe in magic. To her it was a form of catharsis. One that made her feel like she had a degree of agency in a life where an individual's agency was tenuous at best. Although she didn't believe, she did feel that there was a legitimacy to the practice that she hadn't been properly reverent of previously. A legitimacy that she had not considered until she wanted to hurt someone.

She sat in the middle of a meticulously drawn chalk circle, black candles burning on the vertices of intersected lines, she hummed until it crescendoed into a trilling ululation. Her voice, alien on her tongue, filled the room with a physical force. An immense pressure started to build inside her until she felt on the verge of bursting. Then she did.

The world went black. She felt like she was suffocating, like she couldn’t breathe right. She crawled instead of walked and felt as if she moved through jelly. When she tried to feel her way in the darkness, she reached out with a pair of sectioned, chitinous limbs. The resulting sensory panic startled her awake. She gasped, breathing with her lungs as if for the first time. Sunlight crept in through the blinds, and she considered herself lucky that her apartment hadn’t burned to the ground.

She examined her surroundings and felt disgusted. The accoutrements of the ritual seemed perverse in the morning light. A single peach rolled from her nearby table and pulped against the floor. The skin remained taut and vibrant, but the flesh within was rancid. A thick grub covered in the fruit’s ichor inched from the fruit onto the circle near Vanessa. She scooped it into her hands and watched it coil. A voice, quiet, but simultaneously harsh like the sawing of a swarm, uttered a command, “Feast upon its flesh.” She cupped it to her mouth compulsively and ground it between her teeth. It wriggled in horrible exultation as Vanessa’s life essence became suffused with its own, a pact forged.


Derek had spent the morning trying to calm his nerves. When he saw Vanessa's name on the guest list his stomach knotted. 'What the gently caress is she doing here?' he thought. He looked out at the field to try and spot her but found only a host of smiling faces. Family and friends come to celebrate what should be a beautiful day, but Vanessa being here would undoubtedly gently caress everything up. How did she even know about this?

He had been responsible for sending out the invitations, it was one of the few things Carmen trusted him with, but Vanessa was a secret chapter of his life that he has been slowly trying to close for years. What was supposed to be a business trip hookup became an ongoing affair that festered like an untreated wound. It had been over a year since they were last physical with one another, and the times before that were out of some confused sense of obligation. The guilt turned his insides raw, but he was too much of a coward to own up to his wrongdoings. Had he really sent an invitation to Vanessa? Could he have hosed up that bad?

Then he saw her sitting at the rear of the reception area, clad in all black with a veil covering her face. Vanessa looked like a woman in mourning. She smiled at him, and his heart sunk. He started towards her only to be intercepted by relatives who needed him for another round of toasts or congratulations. When he finally broke free of the roaming guests, Vanessa was gone.

The wedding coordinator signaled that it was time. Organs began to sound out, and Derek who had become manic at the sight of Vanessa, was hurried off to his position beneath the swaying branches of the large peach tree Carmen had picked for them to be married under. The priest and other wedding members spilled in under the tree. Derek, who scanned the audience futilely, was amazed by Carmen’s beauty as she made her way down the aisle, but everyone else in attendance, turned their eyes towards the sky that seemed to darken by the second.

The sun was completely obscured by roiling clouds, and a droning hum permeated the area. The priest began the service. When it came time to exchange vows, the winds had begun to whip and churn with strange energies that had many concerned about the nature of the storm, but it wasn’t until Derek said, “I do,” that things took a turn for the worse.

Pulp from the fruit hanging overhead began to drip onto the cast of people beneath the tree. A dollop of rotted peach flesh fell onto his bride's face. She shrieked as she backed away. The audience gasped, but the bride regained her composure, and they shared a laugh as she flung the fruit into the grass. Another, more prominent, heap of rotted fruit fell onto Derek and they all looked up then. Needling through multiple points on the dozens of fruit that hung from the tree were wriggling black dots. Those dots continued to tunnel out of the fruit until shiny black heads, antennae and wings pulled free of the devastated fruit.

“Oh poo poo!” one of the groomsmen exclaimed as they leaped away from the tree. Derek staggered away and remembered the lump of fruit on his jacket. He sent a trembling hand to brush it away, and three of the black winged wasps buzzed free of the fruit when he did, only they didn’t fly off. They flew back to Derek and sunk their long ovipositors into any open flesh they could find. He brushed what he could away, but other wasps just joined in on the attack until he, and he alone was fleeing a sizable swarm. The guests in attendance rightfully entered a panic of their own, and the wedding was quickly evacuated as all the peaches within a mile radius were seemingly rotten and filled to the brim with fruit wasps.

The chaos that ensued didn’t cause much damage or leave many injured, but when it was all said and done, there were two corpses in the orchard. Derek, covered in hundreds, if not thousands of stings and egg deposits, was found face down nearly a mile away. However, it was the corpse of the gaunt-faced woman in all black that created the mystery. A pair of wasps crawled free from her lips and flew off towards the sun.

Apr 30, 2006

Tuesday Night
841 words

On Reddit they said the Pope was planning to send an army for the orb, but I didn’t care. I was busy dominating the world. With a foot on the cross orb, my will was manifest.

Marcel was nervous, though. “It’s not your orb,” he said, “and it shouldn’t be under your foot.”

“Oh,” I said, “I bet you’d prefer it’s under someone else’s foot, wouldn’t you? I think, objectively, that I’m a better custodian of the orb than most people. I’ve never cheated on my taxes and I always ask before I pet strangers’ dogs.” Marcel was always doing this sort of thing, the whole “moral reservations” schtick, and frankly, I was tired of entertaining it.

It was his idea to steal the orb anyway. We were in the Museum of Fine Arts, high as gently caress, looking at some fresco and there was some guy with a cross orb. So Marcel said “I wish I had a cross orb.” And we laughed for a long time. Cross orb.

Later, after we’d gone home, we were lying in bed together and I said “Are you still thinking about the cross orb?”

And Marcel said “I haven’t stopped.”

And then I suggested that we stage a heist of the Vatican, not for their most priceless artifacts but for cross orb. I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of cross orbs the Vatican would possess, but I figured they would have had to have a few. By carefully cultivating relationships with the Pope’s most trusted cardinals through the guise of gentle, open-hearted faith, it would be no trouble at all to retrieve the artifacts from the Vatican vault

“Oh wow,” Marcel said, “Sure. That sounds fantastic.”

I see no need to recount the tedious exploits that followed -- the subterfuge, the manipulation, the cloak-and-dagger tactics -- but to be sure, we retrieved the orbs. Three of them, to be exact, but two of them were stuck to a pope hat and we deemed those less suitable than the “bare orb” retrieved from the deepest parts of the vault. And since then I have been standing atop it, as if to replicate my own dominion on the world.

And Marcel was still being annoying about it. “I mean, I think maybe I should get a chance?” Marcel said. “Like I thought we were going to share.”

“Well,” I said, “since the orb makes my will manifest, and we have basically the same will, that’s not really necessary, right?”

“I just figured we could each have a chance at channeling a holy sense of power. I don’t know. Just seems like it’s fun.”

“It’s a lot of responsibility. You wouldn’t like it.”

What I didn’t say was that I didn’t want him implicated when the papal forces came to our doorstep. Of course, such things were not within my will, but neither were people posting theories I didn’t like on reddit about the Great Vatican Caper. Some people were getting very heated in blaming at least five different religions and also yoga for some reason. I didn’t like that. I thought that people might understand how nice it would be to have a cross orb.

Marcel didn’t seem to like my explanation but he didn’t say anything more. He went back to organizing his neckties as I stood on the cross orb.

Usually when I slept I kept the cross orb beneath my belly but I guess I rolled over or something because one day I woke up and Marcel was just there, standing atop the cross orb, glowing with a kind of holy countenance. It was a beautific sight and I was struck by a sense of awe, a sense of my partner exerting dominion over God’s kingdom. Then I got upset. It should have been my sense of awe. My dominion.

My cross orb.

“How could you,” I said in a throaty whisper. When Marcel looked up at me I started to cry, big billowing tears. “Everything in our lives has led up to this moment. You, enjoying cross orb, even though I’ve explicitly asked you not to.”

“Sorry,” Marcel said. “I just had to–”

“I don’t want to hear excuses. I just want to have cross orb.”

“Well,” Marcel said, “maybe I think I’m doing a better job.”

I reflected, briefly, on how the cross orb, once such a source of joy in our imaginings, had become a pollutant, infringing on our love. It was pretty sad and I made a mental note to write a sad song about it later.

“You’re not,” I said.

I grabbed him by the shoulders and twisted, trying to wrestle him off cross orb, but Marcel stayed strong, especially for someone who only had one foot solidly on the ground. “Get off of me,” he said, and I leaned in hard, trying to topple him over.

Instead, cross orb snapped beneath my feet.

“Oh poo poo,” I said.

“Oh poo poo,” Marcel agreed.

Then we smoked weed and watched videos of car wrecks on Youtube all night long.

Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

crabrock posted:

well that is pretty weird but i guess maybe it's good for casting traveling spells or maybe the wizard just has a sponsorship, i dunno

Maybe Third and a Half? 581 words

“Did you really think you could fool me, Herr Finkelstein?” Grand Admiral Johannes Müller was monologuing, and it felt good. “I’ve known for some time now that you were an American spy.”

And even if not, Finkelstein was a very Jewish sounding name, which made him extra suspicious.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Sir,” said Finkelstein. “I’m just the cleaner.”

Müller laughed. “I’m not as easily fooled as your capitalist masters apparently think. I’ve been feeding you false information for weeks.”

Finkelstein wrinkled his forehead and pondered. “Does that mean you don’t really enjoy jazz?”

Müller frowned. “What? Of course I love jazz! Stop embarrassing me in front of Nina Simone!” Nina shrugged and kept tuning her piano.

“I’ve been meaning to ask about her,” said Dr Gisele Haschke. “Why is she here again?”

“We need music, Fraulein Haschke,” said Müller.

“It’s Doctor Haschke.”

Müller waved a hand. “Of course, dear. Anyway, she’s just a singer, and a black one at that. We needn’t worry.” Nina raised an eyebrow, but kept tuning. “I didn’t mean it in a bad way,” he said to Nina. “Besides, you’re one of the good ones.” He turned back to Finkelstein. “I meant about this airship we’re in. I let you think it was just another hydrogen airship, like that one we don’t mention.”

“Hindenburg,” said Haschke.

Müller ignored her. “No, this blimp is powered by black magic.”

“Black magic?” asked Haschke. “Is that a good thing?”

“Oh!” said Müller. “I see your concern. No, you needn’t worry, in this context ‘black magic’ just means it’s demonic in origin. Like, ‘made a deal with the devil’, that kind of thing.”

“Oh,” said Haschke. “Phew! I thought you meant – well never mind.”

“I would never!” said Müller. “So anyway,” and he pulled out a small orb from somewhere inside his uniform, “this orb is what powers this blimp, and what will enable the Third Reich to rise up!”

“Third?” asked Haschke. “Is that what we’re up to?”


“Wasn’t Hitler the third one?” asked Finkelstein.

“I suppose it depends on whether we’re a continuation of his Reich, or our own, new Reich,” said Haschke.

“Hmmm,” said Müller. “Third Reich tested well in focus groups, but maybe for branding we should make it fourth, so that we’re our own thing.” He pondered for a moment, while gazing at his orb. “In any case, with the dark power of this orb – but where dark implies merely evil, demonic powers, nothing else – we will usher in a glorious age of Aryan supremacy, and all the other, inferior races, will be crushed beneath our mighty boots!” He paused for a moment, then added, “Not you, of course, Nina. You’re one of the good ones.”

“Well honey,” said Nina, “that’s where you’re wrong.” She pulled out a pair of dark glasses and put them on. “I’m bad as hell, baby.” She pulled a knife from her sleeve and threw it towards Müller. It struck the orb, shattering it into pieces, and the blimp started to list. Nina bent over the open piano, pulled out a parachute, put it on then ran to the wall of the blimp. She pulled out another knife and cut a hole in the fabric of its wall.

“So, it was you all along?” said Müller. “You’re a spy for the American government?”

“Please,” said Nina Simone. “Government? Hell no. Nina’s freelance, baby.”

She jumped out of the blimp and dove.

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


crabrock posted:

an orb you can live in floating above the forest floor? well now i've seen everything!
Wizards, they're just like you!
583 Words

‘Ello my lovelies! Welcome to the Muggle’s favorite look into the Wizardry World: Wizards, They’re Just Like You! I’m your host, Paparazzi Wizard Demos! As usual, with my size changing traveling orb (That’s supposedly a resort as well, I was drunk at the time), we will explore the world of wizardry, and show how similar us wizards are to you muggles! Without further ado, let’s go!


Here we are in the land of Azoria! Where Jasper Willybobbom, the Wizard of Odds, is walking his Cerberus! A Cerberus is, of course, a three headed dog from the pits of hell! Say hello for the readers, boy!


Good dog! Perhaps your master might use a tree to play fetch with you later! Moving on...


Next is the Forest Mage Greendo, who is watering his garden! Legend has it that he is trying to grow a plant that can reach its way up to the Sun, so he can use it as a weapon of mass destruction! Even wizards have hobbies! I heard that if you talk to plants, it can help them grow better! Hello Mister Plant!

“KiLl Me!”

Ha ha ha! Those plants sure are quite the jokers! What about this plant?


Oh, you! Moving on…


Next, we explore the workplace of Rose Mage Guinevere, who just so happens to be my wife! She’s out doing friendly things with another woman, you know, womanly things! Surely, they are on a business trip! Oh? The meeting is over, and they kissed each other! Silly women! They do that all the time! Moving on…


Here we have Jimmy Kacsllab, son of famed wizard Harry Kacsllab, shopping for a wand, the most essential item for beginner mages! Perhaps he will get a Giorgio Armani? Why don’t we ask him! Hey Jimmy, what kind of wand did you get?

“A regular one, I guess?”

Smashing! Or as the kids say, based! Like his father, Jimmy is destined for greatness! Moving on…


And here we are at the garden of the young prince Timothy, who was recently turned to a beast! Here he is tending to his rose garden! Watch out, your majesty, one of those roses might eat you for some reason! Speaking of roses, I miss my wife! I wonder how she is doing.


Here is my home, where I live with my wife, who is sleeping in her bed with…the woman from earlier? The hell?! I should see what is going on!

“Gwen, love. What are you doing?!”

“It’s over, Demos! I found someone who could really love me!”

“But… a woman??”

“Yes, a woman! You were such a poo poo husband that I lost my taste in men!”

“I thought you loved me…”

“I did, and that was the biggest mistake of my life! Now get out!”

Here we have, Demos the Paparazzi Wizard. He’s just like you. He loved, and now lost. Not only his woman, but his reason for living. And you know about those guys, they get what they loving deserve!

Editors Note: We of Wizard Us Magazine would like to apologize to our regular readers. Soon after he wrote this article, Demos shot himself in the head. Our staff has decided to publish Demos’ last article to show the reader just how troubled of a man he was. Proceeds from the sale of this Issue of Wizard Us Magazine will go to the Wizardry Suicide Hotline in his memory.

Sep 11, 2018

Beezus fucked around with this message at 19:51 on Jan 3, 2022

Dec 15, 2006

Come fight terrifying creatures in the THUNDERDOME!

crabrock posted:

you have made demands of the orb, and the orb of prophecy answers back.

curlingiron fucked around with this message at 05:59 on Jan 1, 2022

Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!

crabrock posted:

wtf?! this orb seems to change shape at whim! what a strange orb!

Things I Learned During My Apprenticeship

747 words

#1: Do not touch the orb unless you understand it. Touching the orb is a good way to find your fingers in Moscow, your toes in a horrifically moist part of Venice, and your left buttock on top of the eighty-five mile marker on a highway in Arizona.

#1a. At least understand how to put your body together across folded space without the help of Master Fineas, who apparently can't count to ten and may leave a toe unaccounted for.

#1b. When you understand the orb well enough, you must destroy it and forge it anew with your own hands and mind. If you survive, your apprenticeship is over.

#1c. The orb Master Fineas forged for me contains within it an exploding sun. 

#2. Space isn't real. Which is to say that there isn't any kind of empty three-dimensional manifold in which objects are placed. Rather, position is a property of matter, or rather a series of properties of matter that can, with the proper spell, be manipulated.

#2a. This is how you can have a toe in a dank puddle of something foul in another city and still pump blood in and nerve sensations out.

#2b. This is also how you can, to pick an example completely at random, walk directly from Master Fineas' study into the vault beneath the Sorceress Xaou Li's tower.

#3. Xaou Li was Master Fineas's ex. The breakup was rather heated. It was not the first time they had ended their affair.

#3a. Xaou Li is a Sorceress of temperature and energy.

#3b. 'Teleport into my existing vault and take a box of my old things back with you without her noticing' is Master Fineas' idea of a midterm exam.

#3c. Two items out of three is, just barely, a passing grade.

#4. Wizards and Sorceresses are, without exception, greedy lovers and are also, with a few exceptions, bad lays.

#4a. Xaou Li was no exception to the first but was to the second. By her report Master Fineas is an exception to neither.

#4b. I'm fairly certain none of what happened was about me.

#4c. I'm not the first of Master Fineas' apprentices she has seduced.

#4d. Apprentices are not all that young: to qualify one needs multiple graduate degrees with very little overlap. They are fairly young compared to wizards of the age to take one on.

#4e. You know what helps you last longer even better than baseball statistics? Try focusing a little attention on your specially displaced slightly cold and damp right middle toe.

#4f. Master Fineas has, at times, attempted to compensate for lack of skill by enlarging his entire body and trusting to proportionality. Xaou Li found this amusing. 

#5. Size, as it turns out, doesn't matter.

#5a. Master Fineas never taught me that aspect of the orb, of how to use it to rescale objects. 

#5b. The square-cube law is for chumps. Because mass is also fake. It's all just distortions in space-time. If you can do that, you can make your giant insects the right mass to breathe and fly, make your giant dogs able to stand on their own feet, make your molecule-scale or galaxy-scale lab mice able to do whatever you need them to do, within reason.

#5c. If you try to go to quantum scale or bigger-than-the-observable universe scale you'll just end up tripping balls and then have a horrible hangover for a week.

#5d. Time is real. You can't mess with it, other than in boring special relativity ways, at least not with this orb.

#6. There's a trick to breaking the orb and surviving.

#6a. If the orb is shrinking at the same rate that the sun is exploding when it shatters then the nova will be perfectly balanced for a few seconds, long enough for a glassforging cantrip. 

#6b. For that to work you also need to be shrinking at the same rate.

#6c. Novas explode at a significant fraction of the speed of light. Special relativity comes into play here and those few seconds are stretched out to several months in the rest of the universe.

#7. A lot can change while you're cracking and repairing your orb. Your master might get back together with his ex. 

#7a. But he's not your master any more. 

#7b. And it's not his orb any more. 

#7c. Which means there isn't any blocking spell to stop you from bringing that damned toe back onto your foot where it belongs.

Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give

The Eater of Filth
1150 words

After years of masterless slumber, the Eater of Filth awoke in a clean kitchen, and immediately it yearned for sleep again. The wizard who stood before it looked like every kitchen wizard it had ever met: a guileless face, pulled-back hair, a plain smock. For all the shining novelty of the devices that surrounded them, kitchen wizards of every generation were the same.

"I greet you, great orb spirit," said the wizard, words measured and rehearsed. "My name is Amira. I offer a pact, binding my power to yours that we might both grow."

It had been a very long time since the Eater of Filth had grown, or had opportunity to. "I see," it spoke, in its voice as dry as flour dust. "What is your proposal?"

The wizard paused, dumbstruck -- had she not expected to be asked? Perhaps not, the orb realized, considering the soft hum of domesticated orb spirits that surrounded them in the kitchen. Perhaps this one had never had a pact questioned. "Well," she began at last, "I'm working on a school project. Ancients grains revival. My advisor suggested a really ancient orb for best results on the bread."

"Bread," the Eater replied. "Of course. What do humans want besides bread and beer? I am the Eater of Filth! Your ancestors offered me flood-rotted grain and spoiled meat, and I fed them well. These days, all you have for me is turning sugar to liquor, or sugar to air! I have slept a long time, but I am still glutted on sugar. Is there no poison or famine in your world worthy of my attention?"

Amira was silent, glancing around her shining kitchen as if the tame metal orbs there would speak for her. "Well, um, maybe? I have an idea. Are you okay with theft?"

"I am not bound against it. From whom are you stealing? And why?" And how, of course, could this round-faced child steal anything?

"Some friends of mine in the co-op told me about... well, maybe it'll be easier to show you. You'll be feeding people, trust me. And there'll definitely be some poison."


When the Eater of Filth had been alive, very long ago, the first sign of trouble in the hunt was silence. Silence meant fear of something not you, another predator lurking or recently departed, and watchful eyes everywhere. Even in the half-lit night of the city, riding in Amira's smock pocket while she tinkered with the lock on the metal midden, that instinct stood fast. "One lock and no guards?" it said, as softly as its power allowed. "And it's quiet? You are certain this is something they value?"

"That's the thing," whispered Amira in reply. "This store doesn't guard their Dumpsters for a reason. Even the lock's more of a fake-out. Hold on... okay, there we go." A soft click, and the lock fell open in her hands. "Way too easy. They want people breaking in." She hefted the lid of the "Dumpster" open, then grimaced. "Jesus! The smell!"

The aura rising from the Dumpster carried the familiar sensations of poison and pain, but painted in strange, bright colors: new techniques to the same foul ends. Metal-bright chemicals clashed with the earthen rot of disease spirits, swarming over food that bore no natural decay. The Dumpster was piled with it, fresh and pleasing to the eye but rotten to any magical sense, and carrying a metallic, caustic odor that the Eater could not identify. "What is this?" it said, louder than it intended. "And why is it?"

"A trap," said Amira. "For people raiding the Dumpsters. They have a lock and throw a little bleach in there, but it's easy on purpose, and the food still looks okay, right? A lot of people decide they can risk a little bleach, if they're hungry enough. Then the spirits get them. But if you can do something about it... we can take it all, get it to people who need it. Feed the hungry."

"And eat," said the Eater of Filth. Orb spirits were beyond normal hunger, but it had been alive once, and it remembered being ravenous: a scavenger and hunter by turns, and a colony of microbes, a super-organism bent on surviving on whatever meager fare it could. Life was a race against the newest poisons, a world of bitter plants and chitinous prey, and there was little the world inside its gut could not turn into food. Nothing could blunt its hunger for long: not death, not slow encasement in stone, not millennia of gorging on human sugar. Nothing, perhaps, but an exceptional meal. A dangerous meal.

The Eater of Sins looked down on the disease spirits, swarming like ants, and thought: in my day, you were bigger.

It fell on the spirits, which sent up thin astral shrieks but mounted no resistance -- domesticated things, clearly, trained only to kill the weakest. Their taste was a blunted sourness, spoiled by their lack of fight. The bleach burnt, hateful and unfamiliar, but the Eater had swallowed worse. Where it passed, the angry tang of the air receded, and by the time it rose sated from the Dumpster, Amira was breathing easily through her nose again. "Your friends will have their feast," it said. "Take what you need."


The Eater of Filth took several days in slow digestion; to learn a new poison was always a delicate process, especially so soon after waking. It rested in pride of place in Amira's kitchen, sleepily watching her preserve their spoils. Her docile swarm of orbs dehydrated, brined, and boiled in concert, tireless and simple. It thought idly of clay jars, of cauldrons of wort, of the fed multitudes. There had been joy in the service, once.

"Your kitchen runs smoothly," it said, on the morning that the poison torpor faded. "Your bread rises well. What did you need me for?"

"Well," said Amira, "first of all, my leavening orb only handles modern wheat flours. It's kind of a unitasker. That, and I want the authentic experience. I want the bread to taste like it did back then, and... I want an orb that's seen things. An orb that knows things."

"I can tell you what I know," said the Eater, "on two conditions. One: when you learn of new poisons, you take me to them and let me hunt. Two: the bread we make together feeds people. You may write about it, for your apprenticeship, but it must be eaten above all. I eat to feed."

"We both do." Amira drew a sigil in the air with one finger: the rune of pact-binding, sanctified in the sacred space of the kitchen. "Now let's get started. You're good with einkorn, right? I have... a lot."

There would be days of sugar, then -- but after days of poison? Something like balance, the Eater thought. Something like the old days.

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

Overall, Deon’s day turned out pretty good
1300 words


Yoruichi fucked around with this message at 04:15 on Jan 6, 2022

May 19, 2021


Get your head out of your orb
Word count: 567 words
Prompt: Stuck head orb

Morgan was an all-powerful sorceress who had, through guile, ruthlessness, and a bitching orb had brought the isles under her will.

Somehow, she had gotten her head stuck in the orb.

Don't ask how-it's not relevant. Don't tell-half of the country wants Morgan dead.

Beasts of mixed race and blood stomped, scurried, and trampled around the halls of Camelot, looking for the best loot.

"Out of the way, runt!" a beast, top half lion-bottom half eagle, roared at me.

I scampered away into my master's bedroom. Her former minions grasped and clawed the fine wine, leather books, and linen scatted throughout her room.

Morgan stood in the middle of the room, with her head stuck inside her prized orb.

"Careful with that tome! It cost me three golden feathers and a bag of spice," she yelled out.

She winced as a minion dropped and smashed a carved vase. I picked up a shard that portrayed a black-haired woman standing over twelve bodies.

The room was stripped bare before the minions rushed out to loot the rest of the castle.

"Without my magic, I am nothing," Morgan wailed.

"That's not true, my lady. You have many assets."

She gave me a dour look with her piercing blue eyes.

"I am speaking of your guile and intelligence, of course. Not your ... let's focus on removing that sphere of your head, shall we?"

"How foolish of you to think that I have not tried already!"

"My lady, there is no need to yell. I can hear you perfectly, even with that orb around your head."

She shot me another death glare.

"What about your magisters? Have you sought their help?"

"Of course I have. They pointed and laughed at me."

Hmm, people do tend to be uncooperative without the threat of death and violence.

"Maybe poisoning Merlin wasn't such a good idea. Well, it's not like he would help if he was alive." Morgan averted her gaze from mine. "He's still alive?"

"Maybe. He could help. If we get to him."

"I don't remember seeing him in the dungeon."

"That's because he is not in one. I found it a safer option to erase his memory, and now he thinks he's a town blacksmith. Luckily, I don't need my magic. I just need to utter a few phrases to refresh his memory."

We walked to town. Chaos had spread to the rest of the country as the humans fought with the hybrids. We did our best to avoid the fighting.

"This is stupid. Why do I have to wear this blanket?" Morgan asked.

"You wouldn't be inconspicuous even if you didn't a giant orb for a head."

"Nonsense, I don't need to hide from my subjects."

"There kind of resentful of you due to the whole evil overlord thing."

"Halt! Who goes there?!" a man shouted at them. He yanked the blanket off of Morgan. The man's eyes widened and he yelled out, "the enchantress! Burn her!"

Morgan and I ran through the cobbled streets as more townsmen gathered with pitchforks and torches in hand. Morgan tripped and fell on her head, which shattered the orb and finally freed her head. Unfortunately, that was our last chance of saving our skins.

The townsmen beat and stomped on Morgan as I ran away into an alleyway.

A little boy looked out and pointed at me.

"Look, dad, a shaggy dog."

t a s t e
Sep 6, 2010

E: rip

t a s t e fucked around with this message at 00:45 on Jan 1, 2022

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

800 words

Tony’s orb had a big dent in it the size of his goddam thumb because that’s what he’d shoved in there about two minutes ago, right up to the knuckle. He was regretting it now.

“Repair,” he said, again.

Nothing happened, again.

His orb didn’t work, and that was bad.

A wizard must be cautious in the words they say, lest the world pay heed unwanted. Therefore Tony did not yell ‘MOTHERFUCKER’ as he wanted to; his mother was still alive, after all.

Instead, he frowned at the orb for another moment, then reached out and depressed the button on his desk. A sonorous noise emanated from every part of his cluttered study at once: It sounded like a retired actor saying the word ‘bong’. Tony slumped back into his chair, palms flat on the age-worn leather armrests as his Djinn manifested. Its spiral of elemental energies were coiling with an atypical sluggishness. Tony decided this, too, was an orb-related issue, and his frown deepened.

“Sylvester,” he said. “Fix my orb.”

The Djinn, its face swirling like cream in a well-stirred cup of coffee, leant over the desk. It poked the orb with one of its long black fingernails.

“It’s not working,” said Sylvester.

Tony’s face didn’t move, but an expert in the body language of wizards might have perceived a tightening around his whiskers. “I know that, Sylvester. It is why I instructed you to fix it,” he said.

Owing to mystic bindings laid on them thousands of years ago by the Council of Windlords, Djinn are unable to shrug. So the Djinn bowed instead, in a shruglike way.

“My master the task you have set me is unable to be completed, and therefore I am obligated and required and necessitated to--”

“Pick up that ashtray!” Tony shouted.

The Djinn, interrupted from its threefold statement of disavowal, picked up the ashtray. It was full of butts, and a couple slid from the side where they were balanced and bounced off the desk.

Djinns were notoriously easy to lose, as the bounds of their powers were fuzzy and any command they could not fulfill would release them. Sylvester and Tony had worked together for a long time but that meant little in the face of ill-chosen words.

“Ok, put it down again. I command you to, uh, tell me how I may restore my orb to its power, or, should that not lie within your powers, to leave my presence until I summon you once more.”

Sylvester placed his palms together and gently insufflated the thin streamers of smoke they produced. “The orb is my master as much as you, Magister. I cannot encompass its failings any more than you could look at the back of your own head. I can but suggest you investigate other methods. And now, having failed your command, I shall take my leave as ordered.”

It held its black-nailed finger and thumb together and sucked, its body turning into smoke and coiling through the hole, wrapping in on itself until it was just a smokey bubble, which then popped leaving naught but a faint smell of cinnamon.

Tony's lips tightened into a single puce line like a caterpillar. This was unsupportable. He could feel his spells weakening around him, the air conditioning charm letting in the odour of sulphur, the dimensional anchor starting to allow the shivering interpolation of the surrounding astral threads to tease apart his walls and bookshelves. The orb sat there, lifeless and he looked at it with a dawning sense of helplessness.

Then, he picked it up. The indentation where he'd shoved his thumb was a perfect inverse mirror, every wrinkle and crease. Driven by a sudden impulse, he put his thumb back into the orb.

It nestled there and he had the sense it was waiting for something. Driven by an impulse he could not explain and would certainly never reveal to any living creature, he kissed it. His whiskers made a faint pattern on the orb's translucent surface.

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

Was he imagining it? Did it quiver?

"I'm a bad wizard, and I shouldn't have done that."

It definitely quivered then.

"Please forgive me. Please come back."

At first he was sure he was imagining the hum, but then it rose in pitch and he knew he wasn't. Smoothly, calmly, the orb pushed itself off his thumb and into the palm of his hand.

Holding it, Tony thought he knew what it must be to have a child. Annoying, but delightful. He patted his orb, and felt it vibrate in happy sympathy.

Aug 2, 2002

ok i gave u brats an extra half hour

submissions closed

this is probably gonna take us a while u might wanna interprompt and/or just fill the thread with a bunch of bullshit for a while

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Interprmpt: the opposite of orb is bro. 300 words

Dec 15, 2006

Come fight terrifying creatures in the THUNDERDOME!

Mistaken Orb-dentity
75 words

Once long ago in the land of polyhedra, there were two orbs who were the best of friends. They were so close, in fact, that they called themselves brothers. One day, one of these two orbs was walking through his neighborhood, when he saw his friend standing in his neighbor Roy's yard.

"Oh wait," he said, realizing his mistake. "That's not my orb bro, it's Roy Orb's son!"

something something completely wrapped up in clingfilm

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Hey everyone!

It's the holidays!

I usually put together a big ol thing of a post imploring as many people as I can to sign up for some gift-giving, story-writing, hoopla-filled palooza.

But, I'm tired.

Keeping it simple this year. Want to do a merry happy person? Join the card exchange!

What it is: By signing up you're committing to send two holiday cards of any form to two of your fellow domers. Want to do more? Feel free. The expectation is a cheer bringing card, and that's it. You may have to mail internationally, or you can find a creative alternative if that's prohibitive.

How do you sign up? Find me on a discord, and shoot me a dm with your mailing address. You are not signed up until you do that and I say the words 'cardscardscards' back to you. DO NOT POST HERE AND poo poo UP THE THREAD, only do that if you're not on discord and need help or something.

Deadlines: Sign up by 12/10 11:59 EDT Ship it out by year's end.

Get it? Got it?

Get crackin'

Chili fucked around with this message at 22:00 on Dec 7, 2021

Mar 21, 2010


Yeah kia ora koutou everyone, Alice has got the minutes this week, and obviously our first point of discussion is the current orb situation which–

Sorry Miss Margolis, you’re on mute. You’ve gotta tap the orb–no, yep, yep, that’s it. Look, there’s no point playing the blame game, I accept full personal responsibility, but I think right now we need to be solution-oriented.

Look mate, look, it seemed like a good idea at the time and I bloody stick by it. All these daft cunts putting their spell circles on the outside of the orb, oooh look somebody touches it and it goes boom, look at you Clever Trevor, you think that one up on your own or did your dad help? Nah, nah, you spin it on the inside of the orb, that’s the real trick. Big portal in the ocean floor, little portal inside a spell-tempered orb of unbreakable glass, with a bung to let the water out when needed.

No I did not spell-temper the bung Les, that’s exactly why we’re here, I understand what went wrong thank you very much. A–a what? Oh of course, thank you very much for your contribution, yes I know you work at Xeno, keep it up mate and the single point of failure is gonna be your solar plexus. Which spell? I’m gonna cast my loving boot into it ya oval office. Kickax Dipshitus.

Everybody please calm down, we’ve been through worse, we’ve–look for irrigation, Hamish, for turning deserts into paradise … es? Paradisos? Making deserts green and poo poo. It’s water, seed of life, if you can’t think of a good use then it’s not me who didn’t think this through. I–what? Mate just cast a boom boom spell on it, it’s a loving octopus, what’s the worst that could happen?

Well RIP your doghouse but I don’t see how that’s my problem.

Oh storm off, very mature.

Miriam the children are perfectly safe, concealed like the rest of us beneath a dome of unbreakable glass that I miraculously spun from nothing in mere seconds as the deluge consumed our city, sacrificing his own laboratory in the process, it was spellwork that I really think deserves some sort of award, we’re all safe because of me and the gigantic orb I made thank you very much.


Oh, your mortgage is underwater Barry? Yours?


Wait, what? It’s okay, the dome is shatterproof, but I do need to make perfectly clear at this point that when I told you to cast a boom boom spell on an octopus I did mean at the octopus, while I acknowledge there was some lack of clarity I really do feel that’s a situation where you could’ve used your own good loving sense.


I must admit that I appreciate the whole nautical theme it’s got going but if it was an 18th century cannon you should’ve led with that, but more importantly CONSULT MY PREVIOUS ENQUIRY, WHERE DID IT GET AN 18TH CENTURY CANNON, LES.


Yeah just shake it a bit, there ya go, it happens, anyway, now that we're all back I think we do have a second topic to discuss today.

Well look I think his demands are very reasonable, and if anything we have an overabundance of marine life around the place right now, two birds one stone and all that.

What’s his platform? I think he made that perfectly clear, and it’s not like you lot weren’t fishing on the weekends anyway, just do that but up instead of down.

I think it’s reasonable to infer his stance towards the city’s waterworks is distinctly positive.

Well look, if you don’t like him, cast a boom boom spell on a crab and then let them fight it out.



Aug 2, 2002

:siren: Week 487 results - horny orb week :siren:

hi! thunderdome really likes wizards and orbs. and really, REALLY likes horny wizards. well, I sure did get what i asked for.

This week was pretty strong and good. I was happy to read most of the stories this week. Even some of the ones that were bad I was like "well it has a wizard and an orb so that's pretty good for thunderdome."

The bar was set pretty high from the beginning. So i'll start with all three judge's favorite story of the week, the submission by Captain_Indigo captured the lead early and never relinquished its stranglehold on that win.

Runners up, in the "very easily could have won in a different week" were curlingiron and Antivehicular, followed by a friendly penguin and flerp also turning in stronger-than-the-rest entries. Thanks everybody!

Down at the bottom end of the scale we started judge fighting about which "story" was worse (cause neither really fits the criteria for an honest attempt at a story), Taletel's weird, short story that said it was a shaggy dog story but didn't feel like one because a shaggy dog story typically engages the listener and they feel disappointed when it's done, or The man called M's "look at all the wizard references i know" story that feels like they're having fun fishing for the loss now because they're scared to try actually writing a good story. Then we're like, wait, why are we fighting when we can just give both of them a loss and feel good about ourselves? so that's what we did.

The sole DM this week goes to Chairchucker for writing a story that if we had gone into it blind without knowing who wrote it would give us some serious reservations. Sometimes repeating racist talking points/language is better NOT doing rather than trying to make a joke story feel more authentic. In the end the jokes weren't good enough to justify the "yikes" content in this one. We still love you though.

Thank you all for pondering your orbs this week, it was a fun week to judge.

here is a picture of a shark

Feb 13, 2006

Grimey Drawer

Crits for Week #487

My Shark Waifuu - Rosewood:

A lot of potential here and some cool setting elements are going. Still, it needs some draft work. There are too many characters in the research wizard camp, leaving them all feeling a little flat. There’s “dangling” plot points like Rose and Ash’s tryst that just sort of get mentioned, then shoveled off to the side because word count wouldn’t allow it to develop properly. Tone problems like Sorrel watching his friend/colleague get impaled by a plant and just sort of giving a surprised “Well, that’s new!” response.

derp - That night I called you:

Self discovery in the form of a dream that might have been real. The idea works, and the weird dream-reality helps that along. But Dika’s voice in this feels off—to much like writer’s prose rather than how a real person would talk, even if that person sees boob orbs in underground caverns in the night. As a one-off ED entry looking to respectably no mention, I think it works well enough and you’re not in any threat of a DM or an L. If you wanted to tune this one for an audience outside the dome, I think I’d look at the structure of it and work on Dika’s monologue to make her sound more “real.” Having this be a monologue driven story I think is the right call, but the intercessions should be where the “weird” happens, rather than the other way round—otherwise you risk Dika becoming unrelatable as an MC.

a friendly penguin - Personal Contact:

All in all, good comedy writing on this one. Instead of one gag that repeats and gets stale, you kept switching it up just enough to keep me guessing, which was the right call. When thinking about how to polish this one, I’m afraid that this is a case of the devil being in the details. You’re going to have to go through it with a fine comb looking for little tweaks and prods to get it exactly where you want it (which is a lot of comedy writing.) Like early on, there’s a reference to the pandemic… You need to decide if you want to keep that in to ground it, or pull it out to keep the piece from getting dated, or move it later in the piece so you can play the “is this modern, or is this medieval fantasy?” gag a little closer to your chest. I don’t think there’s a right answer, which is why comedy is hard.

Captain_Indigo - The God in the Trees in the Orb in the House on the Hill:

This was a really fun story, but it was ultimately a goes-nowhere-does-nothing story. It felt like it was picking up steam, then it was just sort of an “ok, we’re done.” I’m guessing that it was word limit that forced the quick exit, but the “I guess you’ve got a friend now” gag wasn’t quite strong enough to bring it to a completely satisfying landing. Not that it can’t be—but it needs some tweaking to get it there. Once again, comedy writing is hard.

Albatrossy_Rodent - Orb of Chaos 2: Revenge of Zorax:

The plot here is solid, and the twist at the end is good. The central issues the story has at the moment are tense shifts in the prose, and a precocious narrator. I think you’re going to have to look at it and decide if you want it to be written in the “close past” tense with a young adult narrating it, or if you want it to be “distant past” with a mature narrator who has the benefit of perspective. When you’ve got a (presumably) 13 to 15 year old narrator with lines like “Brian and I try to prolong the childish age of dragons and spaceships,” that’s sort of trying to have your cake and eat it too in terms of prosaic voice. Still, good bones on this one and nothing another draft wouldn’t fix.

Uranium Phoenix - A Time of Storms:

The core story kind of gets lost in the lore on this one, which is a shame because it’s one of the most compelling “old stories” out there. Will we make the world a better place, and will we be remembered after we’re gone? I think this has true Flash potential, but you’re going to have to go after it with a knife and trim back all but the essentials—it’s no secret that most of us skipped the singing when we read Tolkien. I’d say set a word count of 750, dial it in, and you’d have something with publishing potential.

rohan - A Gift From Orbitron:

A decent yarn that kind of flubbed it at the end. I’m not sure if the orb in question ended up as Hanna’s present, or if that was a gift picked up from a souvenir stand after a bolt of inspiration struck the MC. Rework the causality on how that happened and make it a little clearer and this goes from an “sure, ok” sort of story to a “haha, nice” story.

Gorka - Kill it with fire:

This story would benefit greatly from either switching to the past tense or shifting to a second person perspective. The use of present tense with a third person narrator is terribly awkward because it stunts the flow and scan of the prose. The quick fix is to just go back and swap out for past tense, and the story gets 75% better nearly instantly. The slightly more obtuse fix is to rewrite it in the second person, where the reader is thrust into the persona of Emil and experiences this ordeal alongside the MC. That’s risky, but if you can pull it off, it makes for powerful storytelling.

Chernobyl Princess - The Honorable Guild Of Barber Surgeons:

This one hit pretty close to home for me, so I may be a little biased. But overall it was just fun to see my ailments dressed up in fantasy drag. Comedy writing is hard, but your timing worked well and you hit most of the right beats through this one. Like I’ve told a couple of other people, now is when the really hard work starts because it’s all in tiny tweaks and details, not big structural changes. Work in some sort of “on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you describe the pain” gag at the end, and I’d be sold.

flerp - Nowhere Else:

This one has kind of a slow burn of an opener that I think can be trimmed back. The story really kicks off when the MC approaches the orb and the conversations starts. Now, thare is some important information before that, so I can’t give the general advice of “trim the first paragraphs.” Rather, I’d say prune them, then reinsert some of that information back into the story later—the MC’s father leaving town, the fear that if the orb is removed it will kill everyone, etc. This is a story that really relies on good narrative flow to keep the plot advancing.

Carl Killer Miller - The Lesson:

I’m a little conflicted on this one because the prose and dialogue are both excellent, but there’s a missing element that prevents the gel from completely setting for me. And it’s hard to put my finger on it but I think it’s Rudy. Nathaniel might not be a very good dad, but there is something that is obviously bothering him. And without knowing a little more about that I can’t really make a decision if he’s just a grade A rear end in a top hat or if he’s an imperfect guy who’s trying to do the right thing but coming up short. I think knowing just a sentence or two more about Rudy would make for a more satisfying end.

ChickenOfTomorrow - Dear Diary:

This was dark. But that’s good! This did not go in the direction I was expecting it to, but you managed to really nail it with the voice. There were only a couple of times that I looked a little side-eye at some of the word choices in the prose because they seemed too precocious. (Calling the meatballs “spheres” seemed a little too specific, and having her mom “pull” a face instead of “make” a face seemed like something an older person would say vs. a 12/13 year old.) I was sort of skeptical when I went into this, just glancing at the format, but I gotta say you pulled it off.

QuoProQuid - Children and the Corn:

This one’s just silly and I think you know that already. I got a few chuckles out of it. Things that are silly for the sake of being silly are hard to crit because I’m not sure where you’d want to go with this if it ever left the Dome, or how it would ever make sense to anyone outside the context of a weird orb wizard prompt week. I guess if I was going to tweak it in any substantial way, it would be to tune in how old Enoch and Elijah are—are they middle schoolers or high schoolers, or is this some 80s movie where kids talk like adults?

Idle Amalgam - Till Death Do Us Part:

The plot is fine on this, but the prose needs some work. There are a lot of sentences here that are just restatements of earlier sentences. If you went through and took a knife to a lot of these, you’d have a story that moved along more briskly without sacrificing any ideas.

sparksbloom - Tuesday Night:

Fun, but feels suspiciously like just having a good old fashioned TD wank. Nothing wrong with that, and it saves you from the shame of a failure. That said, the “lol and then we all smoked a bowl” style of wacky ending is getting long in the tooth.

Chairchucker - Maybe Third and a Half?:

See above, with an additional note. This may be more of an American issue, but be mindful of phrases like “she’s one of the good ones.” I know that you had it spoken by one of the baddies in this bit, but it’s sort of a sensitive issue here in the States at the moment and can be hurtful even when used by an obvious villain.

The man called M - Wizards, they're just like you!:

This isn’t even a story.

Beezus - Help:

This one started promising and seemed to be going in a pretty serious direction, then it just sort of monkey-cheesed and died. It was like you were writing another story, then remembered at the last minute you had to shoehorn a cheese orb into this, so that’s how it ended. It was going ok up until then, so I’d just load up the file, delete everything after Myra and her mom went to the mall and write the ending to the story you wanted to write.

curlingiron - The Blue and the Deep:

I’m reading this mostly as an addiction allegory because that’s the only why I can fathom as to the reason the MC wants to go deeper into the Deep. If that’s the case then good job! If it’s not, then you may want to spend a few sentences describing the MC wants to see the deep beyond the Deep. Other than that the prose is great and the story feels tight. It’s one of the longer pieces this week, but didn’t feel like it “dragged” on reading.

Thranguy - Things I Learned During My Apprenticeship:

This one is amusing and got some chuckles out of me, but the format left something to be desired. I think if you’re going to do something like this, you need to go whole hog and use bb code and format it up like a proper outline. Beyond that I think this is very much a Dome story and I’m not sure how I’d shift it around for any sort of submission.

Antivehicular - The Eater of Filth:

So I’m a yeast nerd, and this is a very good story about yeast. The prose is great, the story itself is compelling in terms of the characters and what they want and how they work to get those wants. I caught a few typos (Eater of Sin instead of Eater of Filth at one point, etc), but those should clean up easy and this is a great story.

Yoruichi - Overall, Deon’s day turned out pretty good:

It’s sort of like value-brand Harry Potter fanfic. But credit where credit is due—you’re a lot less hateful than JK Rowling. The action sequences were tight, amusing, and well-choreographed. It was a fun read that walked the line between fanfic and lampoon and just sort of trusted that the reader would “get it” without overexplaining the joke. I’m not going to tell you how to pretty it up for submission because I fear that would open you to legal risks.

Taletel - Get your head out of your orb:

*sad trombone* For a shaggy dog story to work, you really have to put in some serious work in the build up rather than phoning it in and hoping jazz hands will save it in the end.

t a s t e - The Other Side of Things:

I think there’s a foundation here for a fantastic story, but 1200 words can’t do it justice. There’s too much to take in and wrestle with, and too many questions just sort of go unanswered as a result. If this is a story or setting you’re interested in working with more, give yourself 5k and go for it again, see what turns out.

sebmojo - Orblems:

Quick and amusing, this story sort of gets in, does its thing, then gets back out. Overall it’s satisfying if not terribly profound. I think what I found most interesting about it was that it managed to go with a fantasy-esque setting without getting bogged down in worldbuilding, and it did it in under 900 words. It’s nice not having to reinvent the wheel every time fantasy is popped into the writing equation.


This is fun but it suffers from a lot of “one sided conversation” genre issues, namely that it’ll have really good lines here and there but it’s sort of hard to digest as a whole. Sometimes you get a line that’s just funny on its own, other times the lack of context throws the scan and I find myself re-reading a line two or three times before deciding it’s not for me and moving on. Mostly I’m just happy that you submitted something!

Jul 29, 2007

"That’s cheating! You know the rules: once you sacrifice something here, you don’t get it back!"

Week 488: TDTCG

ORBS and wizards?! Move over losers, because this week's for the jocks! Welcome to the world of trading card games!

When you sign up, you get a booster pack of TDTGC cards that will determine the nature of your submission this week.

Red Cards are character cards. They tell you about one of your characters. It could be the protagonist, it could be the antagonist, but it shouldn't be a random passerby. They need to be in the meat of the story.
Blue Cards are setting cards. They tell you where the majority of your story needs to take place. You can have other bits of setting in there, but it needs to FEEL like the story is set within the setting on your blue card.
Gold Cards are plot cards. They give you something that has to happen in your story.

Each card will also give you a number of words to make up your word limit. Open your pack, check out your cards and write your story.

However, there's one card in there that works different.

Black Cards are hell cards. They work different. Hell cards don't reveal their meaning until signups close. So you don't know what you're working with until then. However, some of them you might be able to guess by their names. Some Hell cards are punishments, some are just spanners to throw in the works, maybe one or two are blessings in disguise? MOST black cards carry a +400 words. Some carry more, some carry less...

Now, why make this all so complicated? What does it really have to do with trading cards?

Well the best thing about trading cards is that they are cards that you trade! You don't like your character? See if someone will swap theirs with you! Need a few extra words and got a plotline that's not pulling its weight? See if someone will give you that meaty +500 words card you've got your eye on. If you've got a hell card and you suspect you know what it's going to be and you don't like it, see if you can palm it off on someone else for their's! There's rules on trading though because the best thing about card games are all the rules.

1) Trades are 1 for 1.
2) You can only trade a card for a card of the same colour.
3) If you trade then change your mind you can't cry.

So in summary...
Now: Sign up, get cards, trade with friends (and enemies), write a thing using the points on the card.
When signups close: Hell cards are revealed - maybe rewrite your entire thing!
Sign ups close 11:59 PST on Friday 10th December.
Submissions in by 11:59 PST on Sunday 12th December.

First edition Blue Eyes White Dragons:
Carl Killer Miller

1) Albatrossy_Rodent
2) Idle Amalgam
3) The Man Called M
4) t a s t e
5) Thranguy
6) Crabrock
7) Chernobyl Princess
8) Rohan
9) Sebmojo
10) SurreptitiousMuffin
11) Tyrannosaurus
12) Yoruichi
13) Flerp
14) My Shark Waifu
15) Sailor Viy
16) Uranium Phoenix
17) Taletel

Google Doc Trader Link:

Anyone who takes part in a trade gets an additional 200 words (one time only)

Captain_Indigo fucked around with this message at 11:29 on Dec 11, 2021

Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

It's time to d-d--ddddeclare myself in.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008


Albatrossy_Rodent posted:

It's time to d-d--ddddeclare myself in.

Lmao, in

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


I write, I Die, I write again. In.

Jul 29, 2007

"That’s cheating! You know the rules: once you sacrifice something here, you don’t get it back!"

Albatrossy_Rodent posted:

It's time to d-d--ddddeclare myself in.
Let's crack this pack open!

I can see some synergy here - not bad!

The man called M posted:

I write, I Die, I write again. In.
You got The Queen of Denmark? Dang, never seen it in real life before!

t a s t e
Sep 6, 2010


Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Aug 2, 2002

Oh neat, gimmie all the cards

Aug 2, 2002

Double post.

Point this post out to me in 2 years to the day to get a special prize.

Jul 29, 2007

"That’s cheating! You know the rules: once you sacrifice something here, you don’t get it back!"

Hmmm tough draw, but you can play something here.

Did you know the artwork for The Seer is from a painting of Cassandra?

crabrock posted:

Oh neat, gimmie all the cards
Dig in.


Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Seems hard.


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