Not into your flash rule? Wishing you had asked for one but now it's "kinda awkward"?
These are free use. Because I didn't remember to offer SPACE as a genre, anyone who asked for a flash rule may swap them out for any of these tracks.
Yes, some of these are from a Star Wars-themed album. Yes, you can write Star Wars fanfiction this week. Should you? I'll be the judge of that. :)
Celestial Fires on the Path to Antares
Tundras Hidden from the Sibling Suns
The Farthest Planet
A Binding Force
Ashes From a Terrestrial Fall
Lost Planets of the Orrery
The Stars Through Smoke-Filled Eyes
Cloud City Incinerator Room
Repairing a Power Droid
Torches on the Forest Moon
Son of Starkiller
Of Desolate Poison Oceans
A Symphony in Stardust
Ruins of a Crystal Sky
|# ? Jun 18, 2021 17:45|
|# ? Jan 25, 2022 12:26|
Can I swap for cloud city incinerator room
|# ? Jun 18, 2021 18:00|
Can I swap for cloud city incinerator room
anyone who asked for a flash rule may swap them out for any of these tracks.
|# ? Jun 18, 2021 23:35|
Whatever the hell you do with your flashrule, please post it above your story when you submit
It makes archiving easier.
|# ? Jun 19, 2021 00:00|
|# ? Jun 19, 2021 00:17|
|# ? Jun 19, 2021 04:19|
See you in two days
|# ? Jun 19, 2021 07:01|
There's a new recap!
Did you enter week 462? Do you want to hear me, Ironic Twist and Chili wax lyrical about your bad words? Did you not enter but you want to find out all the secrets about how to write a good story?! You can do those things!
WEEK 462 RECAP
This will be uploaded to the archive eventually with timestamps and whatnot, but for now you'll just have to listen to the WHOLE THING.
|# ? Jun 19, 2021 10:20|
Flash Rule: I Wish You a Successful Hunt
I command the dirt and blood away from me and survey the ruin of our fall. The beetle that had carried us is scattered in three parts, its thorax and head still married in a long drawn moan. The beast’s desperate landing was enough to spare me an exile to the Dreaming, but the same could not be said of my human cohorts. Such fragile things.
I look to the sky. The night dances to the drums and lights of imperial artillery, the fiddle of our swarms, the choir of the dying and the shouts of the maestros of this carnage, it is beautiful. I enjoy the moment. Do not interrupt me. I kick at an inconvenience reaching onto my foot.
One of the cohorts survived. Pale, red-headed. No, auburn, that’s blood. I focus on them, male, fit as all soldiers should be, superficial wounds, he misses someone who hurt him, he’s angry, not scared, good. With a gesture I bid him to stand, I remember him of his strength, feed his anger at the Empire of Dis and his broken heart. I recall his name, Dietrich of the Smiling Lord, he’s one of mine.
“Rise Dietrich” I initiate our verbal communication “You are a survivor, death has chosen you to avenge the fallen.” I gesture to the dead, our beetle is still moaning, I cannot allow it to depart yet. “Survey your weapons and be alert.”
He thanks me for the honor and does as I command. I approach the beetle and weave its wounds, slow its metabolism so it will not pass before its time. After a few hours the night becomes silent apart from the echoes of ghosts. I notice there is admirable determination in my cohort’s soul. I draw my spear of branch and bone, it is time, I recall the lines and strike the beetle where its pain converges, invoking a loud cry that carries what remains of its life.
Dietrich asks me what I am doing, such beautiful insubordination, I will know him better if he survives.
“I am summoning our enemies. They think themselves hunters, we will show them what that truly means. Ready your steel, trust in my power.”
Why did I answer?
After the battle we loot the dead, I collect their ears while Dietrich explores their weapons. They were better equipped than they were trained, magnetic rifles, automatic crossbows, enchanted and iron-tipped bolts. All handles covered in iron. Their officer carried a cold iron dagger which I instructed Dietrich to throw away, he could avail himself of their other weapons. Their rifles were superior to ours and their ammo would be much more available as we hunted our way back home.
It is almost dawn, I find a hill with an overlook and bid the roots to carry us to it. From that position we can see endless scarred hills, the dance of a few remaining skirmishes and the distant lights of Fort Wail, the actual prize of our failed offensive. Next time. Dietrich is too tense to rest, so I lie down to dream and command him to practice with his new rifle.
From within my dream I visit Dietrich’s memories and thoughts. He did not throw away the cold iron dagger, it glows as a symbol of power against the Fair Folk he has always resented, a resentment that wears my beautiful face. Yet he longs for Dis’ defeat and a return home to a woman who will never take him again in her life, Nola, another of mine, I visit her and see she’s fornicating with her new man, a man she loves as she never loved Dietrich. I consider offering her return as a prize to this diligent soldier, a prize he will cherish, a prize that will rot both their hearts. I plant a dream in her mind to bloom when she collapses, loveworn. It is difficult to focus on her from this distance, so I return to Dietrich, my only subject for hundreds of leagues.
Dietrich is good with the rifle. I focus on his life, see what moulded him. He was one of the many children that were gifted to me two decades ago. The Knight of Crosses and the Whisper of Drought came from that offering, but Dietrich was too uncreative, too practical, to be made into one of us, he and the rest of the children were placed under my steward and trained into cohorts. Barely socialized except through discipline and the yearly fairs when they could mingle with my civilian subjects. I can see now where his love comes from, her charm and curiosity, his awkward physicality. He idealized her as an escape, as the only soft thing in a harsh world, he yearns for the undisciplined life, he yearns for freedom from me. He adores and hates me, I see no fear.
So that’s why. I am satisfied.
I move on, I gently caress the ears in my claws and dream of everything they have ever heard.
It takes us almost a full moon to return to Falkenstein, the mood in the fortress is grim at first, but I quickly make it jubilant with tales of our wild hunt. Some of my peers judge me for praising a mortal, but Dietrich has earned it. He has grown in stature and soul during our adventure. Three times he considered striking me with the cold iron dagger, but he threw it away one day before our glorious return. At night I approach him.
“You are granted leave, Nola will be waiting for you.” he knows it is true “Return upon my summons.”
“Thank you, Lord.” he says, but he thinks and hopes much more, he’s thankful for my cruelty.
I will miss his company, I will be visiting his dreams to watch his love rot. In two years Nola will be miserable enough to take her own life and then everything soft within him will die, he will be all mine.
ZearothK fucked around with this message at 22:12 on Jun 19, 2021
|# ? Jun 19, 2021 15:53|
Flash rule: Descent to the chamber of the exhumed star
Stefan punched his lockout code into the control pad. He breathed a sigh of relief as the blast door slammed home. It would buy him time to say goodbye.
He ran down the stairs to the observation chamber, keeping one hand on the rough-hewn stone wall for balance. Even as he descended into the depths of the cold, lifeless world, the air around him grew steadily warmer. Before long he began to smell it, that crackling-ozone scent of Star. All of Stefan’s fears dropped away as Star filled his nostrils.
The observation lab was unsurprisingly empty, given how late it was in the outpost’s daily schedule. Cool fluorescent lights bathed the sterile metal control panels in a stark luminescence, and reflected off the polished steel shutters covering the observation windows.
Stefan sat at a control panel and began punching in commands. Multiple warning windows popped up on the monitor, matter-of-factly telling him portents of doom.
>Raising shutters may expose those present in the observation room to excessive levels of radiation. Proceed?
As if Stefan had not bathed in that warmth so many times already. Once more would not kill him, at least not now. He was one of the lucky ones who had been on the surface when Star was unearthed. Dozens had died in that moment, consumed by invisible flame. Through careful work, the survivors had locked Star away safely. They had built instrumentation and sensors to watch Star and learn what they could of him.
But to Stefan, this was cold data, nothing but an approximation of Star that did not capture his essence. You may as well have said that what made Stefan himself were his femurs and ribs. Stefan had to know Star better, to bathe in his light and understand him. Many years of cellular mutation might map out a course of suffering through his life, but it was a worthwhile sacrifice to see Star. He punched the Y key and waited. A quiet hoom hoom of an alarm started up, followed by the metal screech and grind of the shutter opening.
The observation deck was flooded with a rich amber light that crept across every surface like a rolling wave of honey. With it came a blanket of warmth that set Stefan’s skin to tingling. He knew that was the poison of radiation flooding through his body, but it was a beautiful, slow death.
Star shined through the viewing windows, his skin a roiling churn of fire and light. Stefan placed a hand on the glass, pressed hard, sending his love forward where his body could not go.
small one has come
The voice was a whisper in his mind but shook the observation deck hard enough to throw him off balance. “We don’t have long. The soldiers will be here soon. They’re taking me away.”
where do you go, sweet one
“That doesn’t matter. Listen, they want to tap you, to feed off your essence. They’ll use it to power their weapons. They will kill you.” He’d promised himself he would be cold, clinical. Convince Star to do something by laying out the facts as clearly as he could, since Star did not always grasp reality in a way that humans would. But his eyes welled with tears nonetheless, thinking of Star’s immensity sealed away in darkness forever. “You need to do something to stop them.”
i cannot. it is not mine to do. it is mine to be. to shine, to be light, that is my joy
And mine, Stefan thought. “You don’t understand, if you let them do what they want to you, your light will die. Maybe not immediately, but you won’t last forever.”
i burn low already. i will go dark. it is the way of things. but i will go dark long after you are gone. if they speed me to oblivion, so much the better.
“No!” Stefan could not hold in the guttural refusal. “You should shine for eons, no matter whether I am gone. You must do something!”
i shine. i can do nothing else.
Stefan paced, trying to think of some way out. He’d sped to the observation deck when he heard the news that the mining conglomerate were going to turn Star into a fission generator, knowing it would destroy the delicate intelligence contained within.
He heard banging from the long stairwell back to the surface base. The rest of the team had arrived. It wouldn’t be long before they started cutting through the door. His time was short.
He looked out at Star as another set of alarms began. A robotic voice came through the speakers. “Warning, maximum exposure time reached. Please close observation shutters to prevent severe and immediate tissue damage.”
Stefan searched the room in desperation, looking for anything that might buy him a few more moments.
you are agitated. be calm, my spark. i will always be with you.
In the corner, behind a slim pane of glass, there was a bright red cylinder. A fire extinguisher. What a comical gesture in a room separated from a living ball of fire by only a pane of glass. Stefan broke the case and took the extinguisher. He began to smash it against the window separating him from Star. “Help me!” he screamed. “Let me be with you!”
Star paused, uncertain. Stefan could not survive more than a moment of exposure to his body. He would die for nothing.
No, not for nothing. He would die for a moment with Star, a moment he had craved since they first met.
Star sent out a tongue of super-heated flame, burning away the glass and steel, enveloping Stefan in a single eternal moment of embrace.
Star had lived for tens of thousands of years, drifting in the dark infinity. In that moment, wrapped around Stefan, as the frail human stared into his bright brilliance, Star was happy.
|# ? Jun 20, 2021 04:07|
Flash rule: Fogcloaked Summits
The Dreamer's Companion
Sailor Viy fucked around with this message at 05:29 on Oct 30, 2021
|# ? Jun 20, 2021 06:31|
Flash rule: If music be the food of love, play on
Got No Rhythm 966 words
“That’s your new stepsister?”
“Yeah. She’s one of the Fair Folk.”
“Right.” Finn mulled this over for a moment. “So, your mum married a fairy.”
“Well, I guess they do say it’s not the size that counts.”
“Oh, come on,” said Michael, “please can you not.”
“But how would that even work, mechanically?”
“He’d be, what, less than half a foot tall?”
“Oh.” Finn was silent for a moment. “So, you have a fairy stepmother.”
Michael rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“Is it weird having two mums?”
Michael raised an eyebrow. “That is absolutely the least weird thing about this situation.”
“What are you two talking about?” asked Whisper, who’d just flown over.
“Nothing,” said Michael.
“Hey Whisper,” said Finn, “how do you feel about having a human stepbrother?”
“I like it!” said Whisper cheerfully. “Humans are fun!”
“Whatever,” said Michael.
And then the bell went, and they all went to class.
While walking from his maths class to basic enchantment, Michael heard the voice from inside a classroom. “What’s the matter, Tinkerbell? Out of fairy dust?”
He sighed and opened the door. It was Fred, and he was holding the top of an upside down box. “Let her out, Fred.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Let go of the box.”
“Who’s going to make me?”
Fred wasn’t a big guy, but some of his friends were. Nonetheless... Michael picked up a chair. “You’re going to do it out of the goodness of your own heart.”
Fred shook his head. “Easy, chief.” He let go of the box and stepped away. “Not gonna make any friends acting like that. I’ll be seeing you around.”
Fred left, Michael picked up the box, and Whisper slowly flew out from under it. “What happened?”
Whisper frowned. “He said he wanted to play. That wasn’t a fun game at all!”
Michael shook his head. “You can’t be that careless, Whisper. Some kids are jerks.”
“Well, thanks for helping me!” said Whisper. “I knew having you as a big brother would be great!”
“Whatever,” said Michael. “Mum would ground me for a year if I let some oaf squash you. I’ve gotta go to class, try not to get in any more trouble.”
Fred and his friends found Michael during recess. Well, they found Michael and Finn. Michael saw them coming. “Run,” he said to Finn. Finn ran.
“Your friend ditched you, ey?” said Fred. “Smart move.”
And then Fred’s friends hit Michael while Michael curled up and tried to take the blows on his arms and legs, until a teacher came, broke up the ‘fight’, and gave them all after school detention.
“Ouch,” said Finn, looking at Michael’s injuries. “Thanks for the heads up, by the way.”
Michael shrugged. “No reason for both of us to get bashed. Teacher came pretty quick, that your doing?”
“If anyone asks, they just happened to be there.”
Whisper flew over, at that point. “What happened to you?”
“Fred’s mates,” said Finn.
Whisper frowned. “Someone should punish those boys.”
“Don’t worry,” said Michael, “they’ve got after school detention, same as me, so justice prevails I suppose.”
“That doesn’t sound like justice.”
“I believe the official school policy is ‘it takes two to tango’,” said Finn. “Or in this case, four.”
“Tango?” asked Whisper.
“It’s a dance,” said Michael. “And also a saying.”
“Human dances sound dangerous. Someone should teach them a better dance.”
Michael laughed. “I’m sure you’d make a great dance instructor.”
Fortunately, there were no further run ins with Fred or his friends until after school detention. Michael sat in his desk and worked on some of his maths homework, because really, what else was there to do? Well, there was making threatening gestures at Michael, which is what Fred’s friends were doing. “Psst,” said Whisper.
Michael looked down. “What are you doing here?”
Whisper shrugged. “I’d prefer to wait so I can walk home with you.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Walk?”
“Well, fly while you walk.” She looked around. “Those are Fred’s friends?”
Michael nodded. Whisper grinned, took a small flute from her bag, and started playing.
“What are you doing?”
She paused and grinned again. “Time for their dancing lesson.”
The volume slowly rose. It was a lively tune, and Michael found himself tapping his toe. The effect seemed to be stronger on Fred and his friends, however. They had gotten up out of their seats and were dancing wildly.
Whisper played her flute for the entire hour of after school detention, and for the entire hour, Fred and co. danced madly. Sweat ran down their faces, and they yelled out for Whisper to stop, but she kept playing.
At one point early on, she paused, but started tapping a beat on the flute, which inexplicably played a different but equally bewitching tune. “No more tangoing, right?” she asked them.
She sighed. “You’re going to stop being jerks.”
“I’ll tear your wings off,” said Fred, and Whisper sighed and played faster.
She waited until halfway through, and tried again. “Perhaps you’d like to reconsider my request?”
“What request?” asked Fred.
“No more tangoing.”
“I’m never gonna dance again.”
“You’re not going to pick on anyone anymore?”
Fred and his friends all nodded. “Now, please let us stop.”
“Hmmm, I’ll think about it,” said Whisper, and went back to playing.
When after school detention was over, Whisper put the flute away, the music stopped, and Fred and his friends collapsed painfully into their chairs. “Remember our agreement,” she said, grinning. They all nodded.
Michael walked home, Whisper flying at his shoulder. “Still think humans are fun?” he asked.
She smiled. “That was lots of fun!”
He smiled back. “Yeah, it was.”
|# ? Jun 20, 2021 14:12|
A Raccoon at the End of the World
When the humans disappeared, they left all at once. There were no sirens, no gunshots, just a thick haze blocking out the stars and increased sounds of traffic disturbing Cybil's daytime den.
Cybil was a large young adult raccoon. Indistinguishable from other raccoons to most other animals, she had whelped two litters and nursed to rebellious adulthood six kits. This evening she was feeling the long stretch before people would place scraps of food by the side of the road for her to eat her fill.
Sticking her snout through the rust hole in the car that made her current den to taste the air, she recoiled. Something in the haze hurt and made her slightly frightened in some deep place she felt as keenly as hunger. Cybil wanted to learn what was happening, flee, and stay safely in her den. Curiosity won, but not because Cybil was a particularly inquisitive raccoon - she was, in all respects, a very common raccoon - but because in order to flee she would need food. Outside the car, the night was unusually dark, stars and moon obscured, and nearly silent. The quiet broken only by the faint rustling of the other animals with which she shared the night.
When she arrived at her regular foraging site (a long stretch of houses in a web of similar buildings), she noticed that there were no shiny containers of food along the road, even though her stomach told her that it was definitely the correct night for it. Waddling brazenly through front yards she saw many houses lit from the inside as if humans were doing whatever they did indoors, but with no sounds of their calls or other noises. Shortly, Cybil came upon a familiar house with a gap beneath the fence in the back. Flattening her body, she stalked the back yard of the house, hoping that the large container back there would be unlocked.
Once through, Cybil was alarmed by the sight of the house's dog through the patio door. The squat, curly white-haired animal usually called to the humans when it saw Cybil or other raccoons, but tonight the dog was silent. There were no humans to call. Cybil approached the door and as she got closer, she noted a few things. First, the door was only covered only by a fine mesh, no glass. Second, the dog smelled like humans and was making faint sounds of sadness and fear. Last, within the gleaming interior of the house, there sat a heaped bowl of brown kibble.
Now close enough to make out the dog's collar (if Cybil could read she would have understood the bone-shaped tag labeled "Bevan") and smell the food on his breath, Cybil made her body look larger and hissed a warning. Bevan emitted a high-pitched whine, stepped back and shrank to the floor. Cybil pressed her nose to the mesh, trying to see if any humans were waiting inside, possibly to trap or hurt her while she ate some of the dog food. Satisfied that she wasn't in danger, she clutched the mesh with her claws and the door yielded and formed a tiny gap. Bevan rose in excitement and Cybil's bodyweight opened the door enough for the dog to exit. She also lost her balance and flopped humiliatingly on her back, one claw still stuck in the mesh.
Bevan quickly ran through the gap and did a half circle around Cybil, who was frantically trying to extract her claw from the screen. She hissed and screamed but the dog only came closer and shoved his snout against her backside. After his inspection was complete, he gently put his snout under her arm, releasing her hooked claw from the mesh. Since it was clear that the dog meant no harm and she was still hungry, Cybil recovered and gorged herself on the heap of kibble. Once full, she was able to concentrate on other things. Most notably the smoke now filling the inside of the house and the alarming orange brightness of the hazy night outside.
Cybil would have inspected the house further, surely it was full of food and would make an excellent den, safe from whatever had scared off the humans, but Bevan was out in front of the house, barking and whining urgently. Cybil met him in the front yard, now fully alarmed. She tried to detect the direction of the smoke, but it was impossible. Bevan seemed confused as well and shot off at a trot the way Cybil had come. Having no other options and her sense of flight overriding her sated curiosity, Cybil followed as Bevan slowed and looked back to make sure she was coming.
Cresting a small hill, with lungs now crying out in distress at the thickness of the smoke, Bevan and Cybill saw the advancing wildfire that had vanquished the humans and their vehicles. They turned along the wider road, trying to stay ahead of the flames, but their lungs and eyes stung and the heat from the fire was growing overwhelming. As their pace slowed, Cybil was struck by an absurd return to normal. She could hear the harsh machine sound of a truck and the orange haze was punctuated by the shaking twin beams of headlights.
Instinctively flattening against the road, Cybil watched as the headlights caught Bevan and the vehicle came to a stop. A human with short hair and a shirt wrapped around his face exited the truck and picked up the dog, who licked his face and wagged his tail desperately. As the human carried Bevan back to the truck, the dog squirmed and barked, calling to Cybil. Deciding to risk capture rather than fire and smoke, Cybil rose and slinked toward the truck. The human, still holding Bevan, bent to regard her, tears running down his face from the smoke. He made some sounds from under the mask and opened the other door of the truck, and Cybil climbed in.
|# ? Jun 20, 2021 18:35|
Flash: Almighty Allosaurus
Bobo and Ferrs Visit Grandma
It was one of those thick and buzzing summer afternoons when all the world feels a bit like a cozy nap. Bobo the raccoon was sitting slouched in his treehouse, drifting off into a pleasant daydream about cat food, when his best friend and partner in crime Ferrs the crow alighted on the window sill wearing a red cloak and a dazzling purple crystal pendant around her neck.
“Something’s different about you,” said Bobo, rubbing sleep from his eyes.
“Indeed!” said Ferrs, spreading her wings wide to display her pendant more prominently. “I found this magic crystal in the parking lot behind the high school, and by its power I have become a wizard! Reality itself bows before my mildest whim!”
“Goodness me,” said Bobo, not concealing an undertone of skepticism. “I don’t suppose you could conjure up a bit of food? A bit of Fancy Feast wouldn’t go unappreciated…”
“Bobo, my dear, you think too small! Space and time itself are our playthings -- I suggest that we embark on a journey into the past, to meet my grandmother!”
Bobo raised an eyebrow. “This sounds… dangerous?”
“Nonsense! We’ll be under the care of my grandmother, who will no doubt be overjoyed to have visitors from the future.”
Bobo considered this for a moment. A pleasant vision of a grey-feathered crow showering him with baked pies danced through his imagination. “All right, I’m in.”
Ferrs, delighted, began a complicated ritual, pecking at the floor of the treehouse and beating her wings. It all seemed a bit comical to Bobo, but then the crystal around Ferrs’s neck began to glow bright purple. There was a loud whooshing, and the floor of the treehouse melted away beneath them, swallowing them into a rushing tunnel of twisting light. Downward they tumbled, buffeted in a maelstrom of pure cosmic energy, and despite Ferrs’s cackling, Bobo had the strong sense that this was no place for a raccoon in good standing to be.
Fortunately, the whoosh came abruptly to an end, and Bobo and Ferrs found themselves clumsily deposited upon a clump of thick moss. The air was thick and humid, and immense ferns towered around them, tall as trees.
“Bobo, old chum, are you alright?” asked Ferrs, after reassuring herself that her magic crystal still hung around her neck.
“I seem to have arrived more or less intact,” said Bobo, surveying the odd vegetation around them. “How far back in time have we travelled, anyway?”
“Who’s to say? Maybe Grandma will have the answer -- I feel her presence nearby.”
Ferrs bobbled and hopped through the dense forest, with Bobo ambling along behind, and soon they found themselves at the mouth of a cave, from which came a sonorous sobbing. Bobo sniffed the air, and noted with some disappointment the absence of pie aromas.
“Hello?” called out Ferrs. “Grandma? It’s your granddaughter from the future, come to visit!”
The sobbing came to an abrupt halt, and with a loud shuffling of scales a humongous dinosaur emerged from the cave. “Who’s that now?” said the dinosaur, sniffling. “I’m afraid you must be mistaken -- I have no children, let alone grandchildren.”
“Goodness, your grandma has some big teeth,” said Bobo.
“We may have traveled further back in time than I thought,” said Ferrs. And then, to the dinosaur: “You might not have any children yet, but in the future you will, and then those children will have children of their own, and so on and so forth, and eventually that leads to me -- possibly not your grandchild, but more like a great-great-great-grandchild or some such.”
“A lovely notion, but impossible,” said the dinosaur. “Sadly, I am grotesquely deformed, and will never find a mate. Behold my shame!”
The dinosaur stepped out from her cave, wiping tears from her eyes with tiny arms, and turned to reveal a thick coating of stubbled protrusions along her back. “If only I had nice smooth scales, but alas, I am cursed to bear these horrible pointy bits, and the other dinosaurs mock me mercilessly.”
Ferrs gasped. “But Grandma, you simply must find a mate, for if you don’t, I will never exist -- Bobo, tell me quickly, do you see me fading from view?”
“You seem perfectly corporeal to me,” said Bobo, to Ferrs’s palpable relief. Bobo looked from Ferrs to the dinosaur, back and forth, several times. “Aha, I think I’ve deduced the answer to this conundrum.”
Both Ferrs and the dinosaur regarded Bobo curiously.
“Mrs. Dinosaur, I believe that these protrusions, unsightly as you might consider them, are the ancestral form of Ferrs’s feathers -- Ferrs, cast off your cloak so that your grandmother can see them more clearly.”
Ferrs removed her red cloak, revealing her coat of fine and glossy black feathers. Among her tail feathers were a few of which she was especially proud, as they shone emerald green when the sun hit them just right.
“Oh my,” said the dinosaur. “Those are rather beautiful indeed.”
“And that’s not all,” said Ferrs, spreading her wings. “Watch this!”
Ferrs flew up into the air, and began swooping and diving among giant fern fronds. The dinosaur gasped and began weeping again, but these were tears of joy.
“These… become those?” said the dinosaur incredulously, regarding her protrusions with fresh perspective. “Well, perhaps they’re not so bad after all…”
“I think they’re rather fetching, personally,” said Bobo.
“Alright, you’ve convinced me,” said the dinosaur. “I’ll cower in shame no longer, and find an excellent mate so that one day my great-great-great-and-so-on-grandchild can be a flying time wizard.”
And with that, the dinosaur lumbered off with a confident spring in her thunderous step.
“Bobo, that was amazing,” said Ferrs. “How can I ever repay you?”
“I believe there had been some discussion of Fancy Feast?” said Bobo, hopefully.
“Right this way,” said Ferrs, and her magic crystal began to glow once again as she conducted the ritual to transport them back to the future.
|# ? Jun 20, 2021 19:36|
Tea for Two
1,079 / 1,100 words
To Picnic Beneath Toadstools
On the first day of spring, as the rest of the village cowered behind spidersilk curtains in the toadstools that ringed the village green, Gnorri the gnome laid a trap of barleybread, scones and aromatic tea. He laid the feast along a low wooden table, which sagged beneath the weight of the steaming loaves and fat, speckled scones, and brewed the tea in a copper pot five times his size. The steam it gave off smelled of chamomile and mint and he was careful to always stay upwind of it. When the last plate was placed, he tucked his butter knife - honed to a wicked edge - in the pocket of his apron.
At midday, just as invited, Ivor Redscale dropped into the forest with a predator’s silent grace, his broad wingspan throwing the village into shade. Muffled cries came from a few of the toadstools but Gnorri ignored them, staring up at the towering dragon and throwing his arms out wide.
“Mighty Redscale,” he cried, “I welcome you back again!”
Smoke twisted from Ivor’s nostrils and he dipped his head low, down beneath the toadstools, to peer at the gnome.
“Aah, Gnorri,” he rumbled, “I see you now! Why have you not fled, hmm? You’ll never win, you know.”
“Mighty Redscale, I promise that this year - this year, after so many years - I’ll satisfy your appetite.”
The dragon laughed low in his chest, the rumble reverberating out across the forest floor and sending the smaller animals into a terrified flight.
“Brave words, master gnome, brave words! And speaking of words, you have my own: satisfy me and I shall bother you nevermore. Shall we start with the bread?”
Without waiting for permission, Ivor snaked out his tongue to wrap gently around the closest barleybread loaf. When it disappeared into his mouth, his great jaws not needing to chew so small a morsel, Gnorri heard a hushed murmur from the watching villagers.
“Delicious,” Ivor said, his nostrils flaring. “Almonds, I think?”
“Something like that,” Gnorri said, chuckling. “But I hardly think one would satisfy you - have another.” The weight of the knife in his apron felt as though it would pull him flat on his face.
Ivor didn’t seem to notice, his tongue darting out again and again in quick succession, each time pulling another loaf of steaming barleybread into his mouth. When the final one disappeared, a sigh went around the village.
“Satisfied yet?” Gnorri swept his hand across the table, which still strained under the weight of the scones. “There’s more, if you can stomach it.”
“Truly, you’ve outdone yourself,” Ivor said, his tongue flicking out as if to taste the memory of the devoured bread. “That subtle taste - why, it reminds me of a wine that they brew in the city of Kharsh, far to the south of here.”
Gnorri smiled and nodded as Ivor broke into a gentle, lyrical recollection of the months he had spent in the temples and hills of Kharsh, the dragon’s eyes glazing over and his voice echoing off of the toadstools. Where twitching curtains had filled each window, there was soon a comical pattern of gnome ears pressed flat against the glass.
“A mighty fine tale,” Gnorri said when Ivor’s voice faded. “Alas, I have never ventured so far from home, though you certainly tempt me. Perhaps when I do not have to spend the year foraging and baking …”
“Perhaps,” Ivor said, dipping his head. “Perhaps I ...”
The dragon trailed off and soon an awkward silence gripped the pair, broken only when the gnome sniffed and gestured towards the table.
“The scones then. Chessenroot and lavender with bramble jam, if you please.”
Ivor pushed his head down through the toadstools, bringing his snout to rest only inches from Gnorri’s face. The heat that the dragon radiated brought an instant shower of sweat to the gnome’s brow.
“There are those,” the dragon rumbled, “who believe chessenroot to be poison to my kind, you know.”
“How dreadful,” Gnorri gasped, not daring to reach up and wipe his brow, “I had no idea!”
“Hmm, I am sure,” Ivor said, his eyes locked on Gnorri. “After all, it is not native to these parts. Why, you would have to go to such great lengths to even find a trader who could provide it …”
Gnorri’s palms itched and inched their way towards the pocket of his apron.
“... let alone know the proper way to prepare it.”
He shoved his hand inside the pocket of his apron, grasping for the shard of metal no larger than the dragon’s smallest tooth, but Ivor was quicker - he brought his almighty jaws down on the wooden table in a terrible smashing motion, chewing down scone and jam and wood as well. Gnorri was knocked back by the force of the impact and could only watch as Ivor turned and swallowed the urn of tea in one gulp, flame licking from between his teeth and smoke flaring from his nostrils as he melted and swallowed the copper.
“It is a lie, of course,” Ivor said when he had drunk his fill. “A lie we dragons spread quite deliberately; chessenroot is no more poison to us than cyanide or slumbermint tea.”
He brought his head down towards Gnorri, down and down, turning to stare at the gnome with one enormous eye, pressing it closer and closer until Gnorri could only see himself reflected in the black of the dragon’s iris, close enough to touch. The knife in his hand glinted in the dragon’s eye.
“But,” the dragon whispered, “it is delicious.”
The two of them stayed that way for several heartbeats, frozen in time. All Gnorri could see of Ivor was the mirror-sheen of his iris and he wondered what, if anything, the dragon could see of him in return.
Then Ivor laughed, flames tickling the wreckage of the table, and Gnorri couldn’t help but laugh too, a deep belly chuckle that grew and grew alongside the dragon’s snorting roar. When it seemed he could laugh no more, Ivor launched himself into the air with a single beat of his wings. Gnorri’s reflection raced away from him in a heartbeat, leaving him staring up at the silhouette of Ivor Redscale against the noon sky.
“Better luck next year, Gnorri!” the dragon cried down.
“Next year, bring a bottle of that wine!” Gnorri replied, cupping his hands to be heard.
The dragon’s laugh echoed long after he was gone.
|# ? Jun 20, 2021 22:53|
The Return of the Thunder Lizard
The dragons were halfway over the field before Nari caught up to them. Her warhorse snorted but galloped gamely into the dragons’ shadows. There were three of them: two carrying a cow between them, flapping laboriously, and one covering their escape. The one behind wheeled around and spat a fireball, which she avoided easily. Before it could breathe again, Nari aimed her crossbow and shot. The bolt missed its heart, instead punching a hole in its wing. It cried out and flew away over the forest. The other two dragons had already gotten away. drat.
Some townspeople had gathered in the field. As a Dragonslayer, she’d been assigned to this town, whose cattle kept being stolen by dragons from the nearby Thunder Mountains, which meant tracking down the injured dragon and finishing it off. She sighed; she was getting too old to be chasing dragons all over the countryside. It was so much easier when they stood and fought. Waving reassuringly at the townspeople, she rode into the dark forest.
Before long, she heard the telltale crunching of a large creature moving through the undergrowth. She approached cautiously, leaving her horse to graze on some clover. The tear in its wing had widened and it had broken its left front leg when it crashed. Still, it could roast her in a second. She stepped out from behind a tree to get an angle on the back of its skull.
A twig snapped her foot and she froze. The dragon whipped its head around and stared at her, fire building in its nostrils. Nari pointed the crossbow between its eyes. “If you kill me, I’m taking you with me,” she growled at it to bolster her courage.
“Then I suggest we find another method of resolving our differences,” the dragon said.
Nari blinked in shock, nearly dropping the crossbow. In her adventures, she’d come across massive dragons, sea dragons, dragons that breathed ice, but none that had talked. Even the ones she’d duelled just roared and breathed fire.
“Excuse me?” she said.
“Instead of mutually assured destruction, perhaps we can negotiate,” the dragon said. “My name is Rimvadys.”
“Sir Nari of the Dragonslayers, at your service,” she said automatically; how ridiculous to be chivalrous to a dragon. However, she was intrigued enough to lower her crossbow slightly.
“Thank you. Now, Sir Nari, my clanmates will return to rescue me and I’d like to avoid any more bloodshed. How about you leave me here and all of us can walk away from this encounter unscathed.” He waved his wing. “Mostly.”
Nari shook her head. She had a job to do, but it seemed dishonorable to shoot Rimvadys when he didn’t pose an active threat. “What about the cow you stole? This is a poor town that can’t afford to keep losing cattle. I’m afraid I can’t just let you go to continue your thievery.”
She managed to dodge his fireball, but it ignited her crossbow. She threw it away and took cover behind the tree, swearing. “Thievery?” he bellowed. “For dragons there is no such thing. If you are strong enough to take it, then it is yours.”
“But you’re not strong enough.” Nari said. “My fellow knights and I have killed hundreds of dragons, and we’ll keep doing so as long as dragons threaten humankind.” She awkwardly drew her sword. It had been ages since she had to use it, lucky he was injured.
He lunged awkwardly on his broken leg and she danced away, looking for an opening. “We will not starve to death for your convenience, human,” Rimvadys said. “We will keep taking what we want to feed our dragonlings and add to our hoards. It is a disgrace that I am even speaking to you now.”
She dodged his next attack and winced; she wasn’t as spry as she used to be. She knew she had to end this quickly, but an idea was tickling in the back of her mind.
Another fireball missed her entirely. She got the impression that Rimvadys wasn’t good at combat. “You’re not going to win this fight,” she said. “Dragonkind will not win against humans, we’ve already pushed you into the mountains and we’ll keep killing you, whether by combat or starvation. But it doesn’t have to be this way.”
He stopped his hobbling advance. “What is your proposal?”
“How large is your clan’s hoard?”
He puffed out his chest. “It is the largest in the Thunder Mountains, made of treasures from kingdoms unremembered by humans.”
“Great. Would you consider parting with some of it?” He bristled. “Not much, just a few golden trinkets. In return, the town will set aside a herd of cows for your specific use.” She added, “For another trinket, some humans will tend the cows for you, increasing their number so your dragonlings never go hungry again.”
“Give our treasure back to humans? That is unthinkable.”
“Would you rather have treasure or food?” she retorted.
“Would I rather have my pride or my life? Many dragons would choose pride, but I see your point.” He looked at her sword. “Quite literally, in fact.”
“Then you agree?”
“Trade is a dirty human thing,” Rimvadys said, “but our clan has lost many dragons. I will take your proposal to my queen and attempt to convince her to accept it.”
Good enough. Nari lowered her sword. “The mayor of the town will need to agree as well, but convincing him will be no problem, I am a knight after all.”
Naturally, the mayor eagerly agreed to treasure and the cessation of dragon attacks in exchange for a few cows. Nari lingered for weeks until Rimvadys reappeared over the field: the dragon queen had accepted as well. Nari gave Rimvadys a celebratory slap on the shoulder and he gave her a new proposal. She agreed. After penning her resignation to the Dragonslayers, Nari mounted Rimvadys and they flew off to spread interspecies peace through commerce.
|# ? Jun 21, 2021 00:08|
He Who Rides The Gust
Duvabon the war gull’s path almost seemed lazy as it moved from beneath the sky-ship to above it, but it was perfectly aimed, with a speed and heading which brought him up past the taffrail, where I rolled off and onto the Lowborn. The expert climb awarded me the momentum of his powerful wings as I landed on the deck, and in a smooth motion I drew my blade and turned with it, carrying all that energy into a swing which carved open the chest of a sailor in front of me, his face an expression of shock. Across the deck in leaps onto the next sailor, where I parried a clumsy blow and ran her through. Before I pulled back my saber, I turned and let my third opponent blunt his blade on his dead shipmate’s ribs, using the angle to push them both off the ship in a mighty heave.
“Near aft, they’re gathering for something,” Duvabon said. To anyone else it sounded like a high-pitched screech, but I was attuned to Duvabon from birth.
“Can you break them up?” I yelled.
In reply, Duvabon turned again in a great arch and slight climb, before using that momentum to dive towards the stern, wings tucked. Then, right before impact, those great wings sprung out like a sail in kind wind, and with armored feet outstretched, he struck the small group of sailors. Most dove away, but two were hit head on by sharpened steel, torn to ribbons. I was there before they could recover. One reached out with a sword and I cut him down, another sprung to his feet and barreled towards me. I stepped to the side, and on his return dive, Duvabon grabbed him and tossed him overboard. The remaining two sailors stayed on the deck, cowering fear. I left them there and walked into the captain’s cabin.
Captain Dimway Traywater sat in a cushioned seat near the great rear windows of the cabin. Outside, the broken clouds passed over the mountains below. On those flanks, the crushed bodies of Traywater’s crew laid, torn from his ship in a campaign of attrition. It started with a patrol every night or so. We would climb in the dark, me and Duvabon, just far enough to snatch a poor sailor leaning out past the railing. A disappearance in a flutter of feathers and the dull noise of shifting air. A ship like the Lowborn would hold six score sailors, more than enough to take down a skirmisher and a bird, but we moved as one creature, up and down from the cloud cover, gone for days or striking thrice in one evening. When the evening patrols grew in size, we would take out a handful of sailors in one strike, Duvabon would drop me on one side of the ship and in my path across the deck I would strike true, before leaping onto his back and disappearing into the mist.
Now, Traywater sat in his captain’s chair, the Lowborn nothing but a host to the terrorized remains of a once proud vessel.
“Are you proud?” he said.
He turned his head and looked at me, eyes red. A man of great stature, but a small man all the same. Balding, wisps of unshaved beard, a frame that hadn’t done the work of a true sailor in years. A great man in his own eyes, but something small in front of me. He rose.
“Are you proud?” he said again, taking a step towards me.
“One by one,” I said, sword hanging loosely at my side.
We watched each other, he drew his sword. The move was subtle, almost mundane. An inevitable action.
“One by one you picked them off. Your sailors rappelling down to tear us apart in inches. Every day I’d lose someone. Every week, years of history taken away in your hold.”
“We did not take enough, it appears.”
I could smell the mix of saltwater, blood and death, hear the heavy thumps of wind in sails departing. I could see myself in the ruins of my village. Everyone and everything shattered. Everyone and everything apart from a small boy, and a nest.
Duvabon’s landing shook the ship.
“Do you need help in there?” came the screech.
“I’m good,” I yelled, “Watch the prisoners.”
“Are you proud?” he said, one last time, as he stepped into range.
Quick lashes from the captain, forward stabs testing my celerity. One, two, three before stepping to the side and assaulting my flank with loping swings, a slight backstep to avoid the riposte. Not easy to deflect, but it wasn’t just sailor’s work his body had grown weary of.
Forward, now, pushing against his defenses, forcing him back towards the window. A dozen fine slashes from every direction, tired reflexes deflecting with more and more desperation. In the back of my mind, past the pure sensation of battle, I could feel the rocks digging against my flesh that day before the merchant ship found us, the sun baking my skin, the soft squawk of the gull nestled in the crook of my arm.
Soul draining attrition, and all that child could see until he and Duvabon took flight for the first time was the silhouette of the Lowborn departing.
Captain Dimway Traywater let out a low, exhausted sigh as I struck the blade from his hand.
Am I proud?
I dragged Traywater out of the captain’s cabin by the collar, and when I brought him to the railing, he was free of life. The thing I tossed overboard was nothing but weight of memory. Duvabon stood towards the bow, steel-clad beak pointed towards a small group of prisoners.
Nearly six score sailors dead by hand and wing, an ocean of death. When I looked at my brother in arms, my despair-forged companion, I felt nothing but pride.
|# ? Jun 21, 2021 00:23|
Cloud City Incinerator Room
Illuminated by the pale light of a glowworm lamp, Yixla scurried down the corridor. Grufnar clattered along quickly as they both moved to flee the mad wizard’s sentries. The automatons chased after them. “THE MASTER WISHES TO SPEAK WITH YOU,” they said in unison.
“YOUR MASTER CAN EAT BUTT.” Grufnar said as he clapped the backend of his chassis. A service compartment opened and released a stream of slippery oil. The sentries, unable to compensate for the hazard, fell prone. The sentries fired neutralizing negative rays at the pair instead.
The first ray whizzed past Yixla and fizzled against the bulkhead. The other collided with Grufnar who promptly went stiff and sprawled forward. Luckily, he fell into a portal Yixla hastily scrawled during the diversion. The portal dropped them into a nearby storage room. The sentries were still nearby.
Yixla donned her scanners so that she could see the spectral damage done to Grufnard from the negative ray. She quietly mouthed cantrips that mended her companion. Grufnar came to and withdrew his electro-mace, Raiden. Yixla crouched opposite him with a handful of blast caps and her poignard, Bite.
Yixla leveled her gaze at a pillar near the sentry and whispered “over here”. Her voice sounded out from that spot, and the sentry charged. Yixla tossed the blast caps at it and they ignited the oil it had slipped in. The fire didn’t do much damage, but it surprised the machine and allowed Grufnar to close the distance. He crushed the guard with the full might of Raiden, which sparked and roared as it tore through the plates and wires.
The other sentry hurried over, only to be ambushed by Yixla. She flipped from a column onto the its back and buried Bite into its processing core. Kelezet sounded out through the machine then. “You are so insufferable, you know that? Nothing ever changes with you. One misunderstanding and it’s right to nuclear war!”
“Oh, you’ve really got some nerve pal. I’m just here for what’s mine, and then I’ll never think of you again,” Yixla said venomously.
Grufnar knew early on that this heist was personal. The on and off again relationship Kelezet and Yixla maintained was beyond the scope of what Grufnar understood and it wore his patience thin.
“I TAKE IT THIS PETTY CHORE OF VENGEANCE IS NEAR ITS END?” Grufnar asked.
“Petty chore of vengeance? Grufnar, this is no petty chore of vengeance… this is justified retribution!” Yixla said animatedly.
“IF YOU SAY SO, BUT THE MAD WIZARD DOESN’T SEEM TO SEE IT THAT WAY.”
“Who cares what he sees! If he wants to consort with other gods and explore other adepts’ robes, so be it, but I’m taking back the Seraphic keys we stole together.”
“IF YOU STOLE THEM TOGETHER, LET HIM HAVE THE LAST. I GROW WEARY OF THIS.”
Yixla shot Grufnar an exasperated look.
“FINE,” Grufnar finally relented, “YOU NEED ALL SIX. LET US STEAL THE LAST AND BE DONE WITH THIS PETTY CHORE OF VENGEANCE.”
“It is NOT a petty chore of vengeance!”
“IF YOU SAY SO.”
Yixla rolled her eyes but carried on. “The palace is powered by an ensorcelled fire elemental in the furnace room, it also happens to be the guard of the last key.”
“SO WE’RE CRASHING THE CASTLE, THEN?”
“No… we’re getting my key back, crashing the castle is just an unavoidable coincidence.”
“AGAIN, IF YOU SAY SO.”
“REMIND ME NEVER TO GET ON YOUR BAD SIDE. WELL, ON WITH IT THEN. WHERE TO?”
Now that they were in range Yixla produced a desiccated eyestalk from her component pouch . The stalk curled up and down in acknowledgement, but demanded payment. Yixla showed it some raunchy sketches she had drawn. Satisfied, the stalk stiffened into a conjuring rod. A door materialized at her command, and the two thieves entered.
Stepping through the door they found themselves in a large cylindrical chamber where a jovial fire elemental was shackled in ethereal chains.
“Oh my stars, we have guests! Welcome, what are your names?” the elemental asked.
“GRUFNAR AND YIXLA.” Grufnar said plainly and earned a curious look from Yixla. He gestured for her to follow his lead.
“What brings you here?” the elemental asked.
“WELL, WHAT ABOUT YOUR NAME? I GAVE YOU OURS.”
“Oh, where are my manners!? My name… hmm…. I don’t have one. Strange, isn’t it?”
“NO, NOT REALLY. YOU’RE A FIRE ELEMENTAL. ELEMENTALS DON’T HAVE NAMES.”
“Oh, right… Strange, isn’t it?”
“NO, NOT AT ALL. WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING HERE?”
“Oh, that? A nice wizardly man said he’d train my children to be wizardly like him if I powered his castle. What a deal!”
“IT MIGHT BE, IF
YOU HAD CHILDREN. ELEMENTALS DO NOT.”
“Oh, that is strange. Very strange, isn’t it?”
“NOT EVEN A LITTLE. YOUR BEING HERE IS THE ONLY THING STRANGE.”
“Oh, well, I suppose I should get going then, yeah?”
“You wouldn’t happen to have a big seven winged key would you?” Yixla asked.
“Oh, this?” the elemental asked, summoning the key from the core of its being. “The wizardly man asked me to hold onto it. Suppose I should give it back to him.”
“We can hold onto it.” Yixla said with a smile.
“Oh, I don’t know…” the elemental said suddenly finding the circumstances strange. Yixla smiled extra wide.
“Oh, alright. Here you go. I’m off then, toodles!” the elemental said as the ethereal chains that bound it burned away into nothing. Immediately, the systems powered by the creature began to falter.
Kelezet burst into the room, hands aglow with eldritch energy, but he was too late. Grufnar’s metal feet slipped through the quick closing portal and they were gone leaving the mage alone in his falling castle.
“drat that witch right to hell! If I ever see her again I’ll- I’ll tell her what a fool I was, Gods how I love that woman.” Kelezet said solemnly as he cast his own portal to escape.
|# ? Jun 21, 2021 02:19|
Sir Edmund’s rusty brown stallion reared up in fright during a thunderstorm. The knight splashed into the ground, where he lay caked in sodden earth, with rain pinging from his cuirass. Unfortunately for Edmund, he was riding with about a hundred loyalist cavalrymen, who erupted in laughter. Of all the reasons to hate Aldir the pretender, this humiliation ranked closely after being made to ride great distances with soaked and chafing undergarments.
The riderless stallion was darting to and fro. Leyton was too frightened to be close to the dismounted knight, and too frightened to be far from him. Thus he looped around and blew past Sir Edmund several times, while the cavaliers circled around, preventing the horse’s escape.
“Why have we stopped?” barked Lord Caldersley. The cavaliers parted, while the man under the plumed helm glided forward on his silvery steed.
“I say, Edmund; I thought you trained my horses better than this.”
The rain melted the caked earth, which came streaming from the seams of sir Edmund’s armor. It was sir Edmund, the beastkeeper of Caldersley manor, whose skills tamed the lord’s silvery creature. It was he who honed the very gait that made Lord Caldersley appear as though he were gliding. It was he who decided to ride Leyton —so no one else had to.
“Leyton,” said Edmund, “are you a happy horse?”
Leyton slowed to a walk, looking at Edmund, as though pondering these words in his horse mind.
“That horse is not happy, Edmund,” said Caldersley.
“Are you a happy horse, Leyton?” said Edmund.
The horse faced Edmund, then smiled back to his gums. He nodded with the tempo and ferocity a carpenter’s hammer, which catapulted beads of rain from the soaked strands of his mane.
“That’s right, you are a happy horse!” said Edmund,
No sooner had Edmund mounted the now calmed —or possibly distracted— horse than the sound of a distant yell and the faraway din of clashing blades rolled down the riverside road.
Lorston bridge stood half a mile from the Knights’ crossing. Its stone arches were submerged by the high and racing waters of the river Soor. A flood of loyalist axemen flowed over the bridge road, and any who spilled out of the exit were contained by the spear wall of the pretender’s forces. Aldir’s spearmen formed in a thick semicircle around the bridge exit. They deliberately held back from the bridge this way, so they could close on the sides of any advancing axemen like a great mouth taking bite after bite out of the loyalist flood. While this mouth took in the feed of men on the bridge, the pretender’s archers lined on the banks to rain arrows down on the axemen. Thus the axemen advanced with their shields aloft, giving the appearance of a great scaled serpent crawling over the bridge into the mouth of the pretenders.
Longswords in hand, the loyalist knights carved through archers as they charged, throwing them into the river dead or alive. Hooves louder than the storm, they struck from the riverside road under the jaw of the rebel mouth. This mass of horses flattened the thick line spearmen before they could turn to brace their weapons at the charge. With the rebel jaw broken, the bridge serpent could now push past and begin coiling around the spearmen like a feasting boa.
Before the victorious axemen and cavaliers could take their rest, there came a tearing and roaring sound in the sky. Trees turned to splinters that sprayed in every direction. The sodden earth splashed twenty feet tall, forming a crater, which settled around a boulder.
“They must have a catapult in the forest!” yelled sir Edmund, whose horse grew restless underneath him. The axemen reeled at the sky, waiting for another to fall. It threw waters from the rivers high into the heavens. The men protested.
“It’s only a matter of time before that does serious damage,” said one bearded man. The lord on his shining steed answered, “we must take formation; they are surely going to charge us the moment they stop this stone throwing.”
But the jeers of protest rose, silenced only by the next stone, which tore a pillar from the bridge. Sections began to peel into the floodwaters. Their escape crumbling away before their eyes, the men stood silent.
“Let’s find that thing before they cut off all our routes,” said the Lord. The men nodded, grunted, still crouching as though it'd somehow protect them from falling stones.
“Men!” the lord bellowed, “What are we here for?”
“For the king!” They chanted in unison, and the serpent reformed.
|# ? Jun 21, 2021 02:48|
My Bear of Unrest and Hibernation
It’s progress when Gerald walks the length of his driveway and empties the overflowing mailbox. It’s progress when he walks back instead of, maybe, lying down on the pavement and letting out a low, animal moan. And it’s progress when he dumps the mail on his Coors Light-strewn kitchen table, and despite all of his better instincts, he even looks down at what he knows are past-due notices. Those are there – the red lettering is hard to miss – but his eye meets a glossy flier with a blurry image of what Gerald thinks at first is a Bigfoot sighting, but which instead boasts a little WordArt heading: “BE AWARE! BEARS!”
And despite all the progress, all the momentum, Awareness is a step too far for Gerald. He stumbles back into bed, feeling like I Did One Thing. And then that morphs to the more familiar But There Are So Many Things. He thinks about that while he lies awake under his bedcovers, clinging to a pillow with a mysterious brown stain that looks like Australia.
Then there’s a knock at the door. Gerald knows it’s the union rep, here for a “wellness check,” also known as the So When Are You Going Back To Work House Call. Then the knocking turns into a scratching. Is that what happens when you exhaust the wellness checks? He lifts himself out of bed, peers out of his closed blinds, and he is suddenly Aware of the bipedal bear scratching at his front door.
He wades back to the front door and peers out at the bear. It’s definitely a bear. Gerald doesn’t know the different types of bears but this is certainly one of them. It’s brown, so it’s probably not a black bear. When he was a boy, his dad took him and his brother camping and he put all the food in a bag that they hoisted up into the air on a long pole, where the bears couldn’t get it. He wonders if the same principle applies here – no food for bear, bear fucks off somewhere else.
But instead the bear says “Hello. Is anyone in there? I hear you.”
Gerald takes a step back from the door and thinks about how dumb it would be to get eaten by a bear now, just when he was making Progress. He thinks it would be moderately dumb. Like a four out of ten.
“I’m not hungry, if that’s what you’re worried about,” the bear says. “You wouldn’t believe how much I ate earlier. Trying to hibernate, you know.”
Gerald opens the door and blinks at the bear’s chest and neck. “Is there something you want?”
“As a matter of fact, yes,” the bear says, ducking its head under the door frame and inviting itself in. “I think this is a good place to hibernate, don’t you?” The bear is back on all fours and is sniffing at a stack of empty Indian takeout containers.
“Don’t you have a cave or something?”
“Well, that would be nice – ideal, really – but it’s been loud and rumbly recently and it’s not really possible to sleep.” The bear places its paws on Gerald’s kitchen table and sees the “BE AWARE! BEARS” flier. “Oh hey – that’s me. Hey, don’t you think they should be sending some ‘ban fracking’ fliers out too?”
“You can’t sleep here,” Gerald says. “It’s not a house for bears.” He sees all sorts of routines ruined by a hibernating bear: the three AM grilled cheese, getting drunk and stoned and listening to his favorite Yes album on max volume, lying on the kitchen floor in his underwear.
“Oh please, I’ll bearly be in your way. Do you have a basement? And is it anywhere near as dank as the rest of this house, because if so, I think we’ve got a deal.”
“What deal?” Gerald isn’t sure if standing up to a bear is progress or suicide, but the words are out of his mouth anyway. “Why is it my house, anyway? Plenty of other houses around here. Bet some of them have more room for bears.”
“No one likes bears,” the bear says. Now the bear flops onto its back.
Gerald doesn’t know what to do. It’s like when his son was little and he was crying because some doofus at school called him a crybaby. And like, if he was emotionally articulate enough he could have told his son that it was OK to cry, but instead he just said “No you’re not,” and even his son had seen through this bullshit and just cried more. It was upsetting. And he doesn’t know how to make the bear feel better because yeah most people are just not that excited to have a bear as a houseguest.
“I don’t really use the basement,” Gerald says, “so I guess you can stay down there. It smells like cat pee, though.” This has always been a mystery to Gerald, who has never had a cat.
The bear hops back up onto two feet and claps its hands together. Inside Gerald, some spark of something ignites at the bear’s joy.
He leads the bear downstairs into the grim dankness. The bear stretches and snorts.
“You’re a real pal to bearkind, you know,” the bear says. Gerald coughs and mutters something before heading back upstairs and collapsing on his bed. Again he pulls the unwashed covers over his head, and he breathes in and out, and he realizes that he’s glad he is now Aware of bears.
|# ? Jun 21, 2021 03:02|
“I just came for the cat.”
He had rehearsed this conversation over a hundred-plus miles of interstate, but he hadn’t properly gauged how difficult it would be to disappoint his mother in person. She stood just inside the screen door, looking down at him as he progressed across the lawn. He climbed the cracked stone steps as she maintained her pained smile.
“I understand that, but your father’s been a bit rough lately and I think that you spending time with him would really do him some good. I set up a chair in there for you so you could talk or maybe watch a western with him. He’s as upset as we are, even if he doesn’t show it.” That might have been true, or it might have been something that she’d told herself enough times that she now believed it. His father had always felt some attachment to the cat, given that her adoption was meant to mitigate his potential death on the operating table. He lived, and man and beast came to know each other during a summer of convalescence. While he remained in bed, she remained by his feet. He valued that commitment. Since he’d begun shutting his door at night, though, it seemed the two didn’t have much interaction.
“Yeah, sure. I’ll check in with him in a minute.” It clearly wasn’t enough to satisfy her, but he knew she wouldn’t press the issue. Any conviction she once possessed had been drained from her, and while he felt guilty about taking advantage, it wasn’t quite enough to stop him. He walked inside, and she greeted him with a hug and kiss on the cheek. His anxiety grew.
When he’d decided that it was time to put the cat down, his immediate thoughts had been of the good times. She’d been his main companion throughout his high school years and was perhaps the only living thing he felt any connection to in that period. It had been easy to disconnect from his peers and family, but her outright refusal to abandon him set her apart. He still loved her uniquely and exclusively, and upon returning from school had taken on the responsibilities of caring for an aging animal without hesitation. His mother had been incredulous when he’d first detailed the routine, but in time the spoon feeding, fluid therapy, and modifications to the house seemed normal. When he left, his mother had taken over. He hugged her a little harder when he thought of that, and without a word, proceeded upstairs to find his father.
He had hurt the cat, and those were the memories that came next. His response to the inescapable pain and fear throughout his childhood had been to transfer them onto something else. She’d still been a kitten at that point, which meant that even a child could exercise complete control without risk of further harm. This was the low point of his life, and the worst thing he had ever done. In damaging the only thing in life that he loved unconditionally, he would have to remember his greatest friend in light of his hideous actions.
The cat had forgiven him, as much as an animal with no capacity for long-term memory could. Perhaps she felt that she didn’t really have an option, that she was stuck in a house with him and that if he wanted to, he could hurt her. He could understand that. It was one of those things that he tried not to think about. He preferred to believe that she understood him, somehow, in the way that animals are said to know and love the people they connect with. Maybe she knew that he’d tried to live his life with kindness and generosity toward animals, and the things he’d done to make her life more comfortable in recent years were out of love rather than guilt.
He had begun to miss her already. She remained a wonderful cat, even as she’d progressed into infirmity and senility. Where once she wandered and meowed for attention, she now lay down in the front hall and screamed as loudly as she could until she was scooped up and carried to a place where she could lie on a lap more comfortably. She had kept her personality through the worst of it, though her perpetual air of daintiness was now undercut by a propensity to misjudge jumps and landings. She had borne the indignity bravely with her feline stoicism, but he’d begun to recognize the signs. When his mother called to tell him that the cat was refusing to eat, he had known. She was in pain, and it was his obligation to her to relieve her of it. That was tomorrow, though, so rather than dwell on it any longer, he would pick her up and carry her around for one more night.
First, though, he’d promised to look in on his father. The man had a separate room now, not out of matrimonial dispute but rather convenience. His mother slept better without the sound of machines and a bedmate who rose several times a night to retch in the bathroom. He gave a light knock on the cracked door before progressing inside. Unexpectedly, he found both the man and the cat lying together in bed. Their raspy breaths were in sync, and as the cat stirred the man ceased his petting and looked up toward the door. He was crying, and he began to gesticulate toward the cat as he worked out what he wanted to say. Finally, he found the words. “I’m so sorry,” he said weakly, and began to cry again. He didn’t cry alone.
|# ? Jun 21, 2021 04:12|
Ride Swiftly, Dear Friends, and Meet Death with a Smile
the dragon of death pets a dog
flerp fucked around with this message at 20:40 on Jul 5, 2021
|# ? Jun 21, 2021 04:47|
Yours, Mine, and Ours
Flash rule: The Hundred League Stair/'Neath Fungal Fronds
The Glass Valley spread out before Nadja for miles, and all she could think about was how dry the air was. After months in the jungle air, rich and humid and spore-smelling, the Glass Valley tasted like clean desolation; cautiously, Nadja removed her kerchief and breathed in deeply. There was very little of the dust she'd expected -- recirculated, surely. She squinted at the domed glass ceiling, where nets of amber beads glittered. Filtration systems? The engineers would know, she told herself. For now, all that mattered was that she could breathe, no matter how wrong it felt.
Nadja stepped onto a glossy black sidewalk, unmarred by the footprints of the dead, and began to map the city of the Glass Valley. Chains of air-gapped apartments were suspended by cables strung between the ground and the roof, like vast strings of beads. Domed fields still held the desiccated remains of ancient crops; whatever had killed off the people of the Glass Valley, it had not been famine. Nadja navigated the maze of blocks and bead chains, each one a faceted jewel, and each one utterly alone. "What a sad place," she muttered to herself, and to the small bundle of telepathic warmth that rode in her hip pouch. "What a sad way to live."
I remember them, whispered the voice of the Jungle in Nadja's mind. They were afraid of me, of course. All of this was to keep me out. Now that we have found it, Nadja, surely you'll let me have it?
"I..." Nadja knew she should -- that she'd made promises to the Jungle, to the vast fungal mind that had guided her this far -- but staring at the unspoiled ruins, it was hard to envision letting the Jungle have its way with them. Every other city they'd found in the Jungle's reach was rotted to nothing, even the stone pitted and leached; they would never know how many nations had risen, fallen, and been devoured. Was it wrong to want to keep this one, just for a little while?
"In time," Nadja said. "Once we've investigated it. Once we know if it's safe for you to spread here."
I taste the lie, Nadja. It's no use.
For the rest of Nadja's day of surveying, the Jungle was silent. When at last Nadja could walk no further, she found a place to sleep with a view of the roof and of the distant fungal canopy, white fruiting bodies hanging over her behind the crazed glass. It was still too dry in here, too quiet and still, but it was a touch of home.
Nadja awoke before dawn, tangled up and sweating, with a leaden mix of nausea and hunger in her gut. The air around her was an oven. She gulped down half the contents of her canteen, mentally cursing the glass walls and amber-bead seals of this ancient city, this beautiful prison. Just a few days and she could start to think about returning home, she told herself, to civilization --
And leave me here, came the voice of the Jungle. You will not propagate me, and then you will abandon me? I led you here, Nadja, to this toxic place. Everything you asked for, I have offered. Are all single-bodies this selfish? There was an unfamiliar tone in the Jungle's voice, something oddly childish.
"No, it's not like that," Nadja replied, slow and steady, as if the tone of her voice mattered. "I'm taking you back with me, of course. I know you want the Glass Valley, but we need to study it first and make sure it's safe. Who knows what poisons they have in the ground?"
I'm not afraid of their poisons, Nadja. I will not be cheated. There were a few moments of mental silence, as the lone fruiting body spoke to its distant tendrils throughout the jungle; Nadja had learned by now that a mind that spanned half a continent was often slow. The only ones who ever cheated me were the Glass Valley people. The others kept their agreements, even at the end. They gave me their dead fresh from the sickbed, and you will not give me this dried-out husk of city?
"We will, but you have to understand -- what my people want is just a little time, to study and understand these ruins. Once we're done, they'll be yours. I might take my lifetime, or longer, but I'll do whatever I can. I promise you that, Jungle, like I promised you my body when this work is done. Maybe fifty years? One single-body lifetime."
So soon? I thought... I worried. Occupation, rebuilding. Fresh poisons and solitude for all of us. I feel truth from you now, Nadja, but will you offer me a better taste?
Nadja nodded, pointlessly, and pulled her penknife from her pocket. She opened her hip pouch and unwrapped a portion of the fragile fruiting body that served the Jungle as ambassador and mouthpiece. Once a segment of absorbent white fungus was exposed, she sliced open her fingertip and pressed it to the spongy flesh, letting the Jungle taste her more fully than her sweat could offer. Honesty always carried best in the blood.
Thank you, Nadja, murmured the Jungle. I taste the truth in you. One day, your people will give me the Glass Valley, but by then I hope we are all friends: you and your kin, me and mine. Is it true my kin live in your city?
"Four hypha-minds," Nadja said, "and five root-minds. They can't wait to meet you. You'll go farther than you ever imagined, and we'll do it together."
Together, in time. What's mine and what's yours will be ours, one day.
Nadja nodded again, to herself, and stared up at the glass room and the vast fungal canopy beyond. She tried not to think of technicalities, of study and toil, of the contracts and treaties that the Jungle would have to abide by to be a civilized hypha-mind. Time would solve everything, and they had time -- Nadja a little, and the Jungle eternity. Neither of them would ever again be alone.
|# ? Jun 21, 2021 05:12|
Same Old Story
“I think that I may be in love with you, Mira,” Eleagor said, his words coming out in a tumble. He held his breath and looked down at his wrong-shaped shoes, hoping he wouldn’t somehow fall over. He cursed himself for the thousandth time for making his human form so damnably tall.
“I know,” said Mira from her perch on the low wall of the courtyard, and smiled at his astonished expression when he looked up at her. “Oh come on, you were hardly subtle about it.”
“But, I- ah…” He had not prepared for this possibility. “Well then, do you return my feelings?”
“Do you really think I would still be talking to you after all the trouble you’ve caused me in the last month if I didn’t?” Mira pulled out the pin keeping her jet black hair in place, and let it fall over her broad shoulders, her expression sardonic.
Eleagor just stared at her mutely, and she laughed again.
“You have to admit, you’ve been pretty obnoxious. You’re lucky you’re able to pay for the stuff you break, otherwise Jerry would have banned you from the bar by now.”
“It was never my intention to-!” he stammered. “I simply- wait, do you truly mean it?”
“What, do you want me to change my mind or something?”
“Well no, but… I, um, I may have another confession to make.”
“Is it that you’re not human?”
“Well, let’s see,” Mira held up her hand and counted off on her fingers. “You talk like my spinster aunt when you look barely a day over twenty; all of your clothing is at least 50 years out of style, and none of it fits you; you put crushed limestone in your beer when you think no one is looking; and when I first met you, you told me your name was Fritzibald.”
“Fritzibald is a perfectly good name!”
“No, Fritzibald is a name that someone who isn’t human would think sounds like a human name.”
“Well, you do have me there, I suppose.” He looked down at himself, and inspected the frayed end of one velvet cuff. “Am I really that obvious?”
“The other servers have a pool going about what exactly you are,” Mira said with a laugh. “I’m staying out of it, but between you and me, Kielie is going to take home a lot of money tonight.”
“You know what I am, then?” said Eleagor in a small voice.
“Of course I do,” said Mira, standing up. “You’re a dragon.”
“I- how could you possibly-?” He gazed down at her as she drew close, confusion and wonder at war on his face. Despite his height, she was only a head shorter than he was, and he found himself unable to look away from her dark eyes.
“Because my grandfather was one, of course,” Mira replied, and kissed him.
|# ? Jun 21, 2021 05:15|
Would a Rose
Her tendrils embrace me, tender shoots slowly intruding down into my throat. Warm oxygen, fresh from the blue and violet flowering bodies that line her tall branches fills my lungs, and I will not die today.
This was never meant to be a survey mission. Daleth four is on interdict. Make no landings there, proceed directly to the gate on five in a standard transfer orbit. Practically routine, as much as a leg on a two year journey can be, until an indicator silently shifted from blue to amber to red over a few seconds. Six minutes later my captain and crew were dead and I was alone on a slowly falling rock.
She exudes comfort, safety, care. I can feel it, from my bones to my skin. It can't be mere chemistry; our physiologies and biochemistries evolved down separate paths from the eukaryotic seeds the Builders sowed eons ago. The odds of her pheromones matching my receptors perfectly are close to infinity to one against. So not chemical, then. Psychic. Brain chemistry and neuroelectricity must also be different, but there's something in us other than mere matter, according to some of our allies. Mind to mind. I try to feel, to broadcast gratitude, try not to do harm as the memories come.
The Lilting Sonata was not designed for emergency landings, for any kind of landings at all. Carved out of an asteroid, strictly station to station, over engineered for cargo space and speed. I happened to be there, in the holds, airlocks apart from the part of the ship now open to vacuum.
Comms did not go down when the drive exploded. I heard them, panicking, screaming. Saw them scramble for the exosuits. Dylan made it to one, sealed himself in. He almost reached the outer bay door before the second explosion.
Something almost like words are coming across. "You're a strange one," she says. I smile, which hurts my face in three places.
"You're beautiful," I try to think at her. She is. What I call her face is like a fractal rose, bright yellow with fringes that cycle through pink and violet and blue.
She's laughing, in my head. A high trilling sound. Warm. "You talk like an infant," she says. She moves soft leaves onto my burns and leaves gel on my skin, cool and burning.
Dylan drifted freely. We talked. I'd tell him stories, from my life, then from books he hadn't read. He read poetry. A little from Shakespeare. Traditional Japanese poems translated by his mother. And his own. He was a beautiful poet. There were places we'd both been, the shattering rocks of Bridegroom three, or the ethane geysers of Serendib six. I'd seen them with my eyes, but I hadn't really seen them, couldn't remember them properly, until I'd heard him describe them.
"You should have shared these earlier," I said.
"Mom always said you should read poems to family or people you're trying to sleep with," he said. Slowly, with irregular pauses. There wasn't much time left. His suit only gave him air, no water or food.
"You might have managed it," I said.
"That would have made this even worse, no?"
I stayed on the comm with him, to the end. I didn't let myself cry until he was gone, until I was sure. Then I screamed until I couldn't.
"Are there others?" I feel the corrections to the grammar of thought in my head before her reply.
"There are," she said. "Far from here. Best we stay away, until you can-" She had no word, no thought pattern for 'walk', and I hadn't been able to explain it terribly well. In her transmitted thoughts it was a comic endeavor, a clown show slapstick routine of one near fall after another. My broken leg was still healing.
"Tell me a story," I said. "Something your people all learn."
She smiled, ribbons of rose quartz pink across her petals. "Six-thorn was a short and sullen child, but her father loved her very much. When she could barely uproot herself for a day, she decided to cross the wife-grass to Aeld..."
The Lilting Sonata was not designed to land, but like a meteorite it landed anyhow. Dylan and I had calculated the decaying orbit. I arranged the cargo around me, for maximum cushioning, and waited to find out if the shipyard had left enough rocky shell to survive the impact, if I would burn or melt or be atomized on impact. I waited. I told myself that I'd probably die instantly. I had not prepared myself, had not really anticipated nearly as much pain as there was, when it came. I didn't at all expect to survive the impact only to be left unable to move as sea-water began to fill the hold.
I will never go home again. I know that. Even if someone comes to investigate and salvage, even if they break the interdict rules to contact the pre-technological society here, even if I face rescue rather than arrest, the mandatory quarantine would last longer than my natural life. But none of that will happen. The cargo was boring, mundane, and now ruined. If it was sabotage the evidence is gone and drowned.
I start to hear other voices, tentative, probing. Her cousins, she says. They've come to see me walk. I may yet come to call this world home. I can no longer imagine a home without her.
|# ? Jun 21, 2021 05:39|
Barring special circumstances (pre-arranged judges, weird rule week etc.) and/or personal animosity (arch-rival, lands raided and salted by my forces etc.) I'll be a judge next week.
|# ? Jun 21, 2021 14:50|
Week 462 Crits
alright. here we go.
Dome Racer Alpha and Dome Racer Sigma
Yeah, out of everyone this week I have the least amount of patience for your I Can’t Drive 55 bullshit so you both have to share a crit. I could almost get behind the Speed Racer versus Racer X dynamic y’all have if both of your stories weren’t so incredibly boring and basic. You really don’t need to register gimmick accounts in order to eat the first idea you have for a story and poo poo it out in under a couple hours. If I wanted to fix this story I’d actually write something compelling that tried to subvert the prompt in some way rather than just write Sunday-newspaper-cartoon-rear end nonsense. But you do you.
“It’s possible my body thought motherhood was preferable to the way I’d treated it. I’d always been a runner, and runners always got injuries. That’s just how it was. You ran until it hurt, then you taped it up and ran some more. It wasn’t that I hadn’t known what my body was trying to tell me. I wilfully ignored it. Told it to shut up and stop complaining. I figured healing could come later. When I was old.”
This passage, and it isn’t the last one like it, illustrates the thing that tripped me up about this story, in that every sort of interesting conflict or hurdle happens before the story starts, and then we’re only left with “is she going to win the race or not” and neither outcome seems particularly satisfying. The inner monologue feels honest but it feels far-removed from any sort of immediacy or urgency, and the story doesn’t give us that either.
The only thing I have to add to this is that I could believe you don’t even know who Adam Levine is from reading this story, other than that he’s in a band and he’s a douchebag. This story seems married to the prompt and it’s not even a happy marriage. Pass.
This was solid, but it shares the problem almost all of the stories this week had in that there’s not a lot of motion or intrigue or urgency. The dragon doesn’t really do anything in the story, the curse just seems like a reaction to the kiss rather than a conscious decision by the dragon. The atmosphere was solid, but I wanted more of a journey, even if it was an internal one.
I’m gonna cut down that motherfucking tree. Neighborhood bureaucracy is dry as gently caress even when it’s not, and we have a secondary POV to keep us even further from any sort of excitement. The sentences are fine and competent but I struggled to find anything about this story that was even halfway interesting.
This is more or less the reverse of Viy’s story in that it’s interesting and there’s a lot going on but it’s not competently constructed. The opening paragraph doesn’t need to be there, there’s a lot of signifiers coming in hot and heavy in a story that doesn’t have the time to flesh them out, there’s this dilemma of the human element versus artificial intelligence and by the end of the story it gets cast aside in favor of “sure, destroy the place that I own, who gives a gently caress”. This is one of the stories this week I might have given a shot after a second or third draft, but we all want things that we can’t have.
It feels like you ripped page 327 out of a novel and made that your story. NOthing loving happens here and the only thing that would save this story is if there was layers and layers of context prior to this relationship between You Me and Dupree that the story desperately wants us to care about. My question is why a phone shoved in a box for decades still has a charge and is still getting calls. God forbid something weird and interesting happens.
My Shark Waifuu
Like I said in the recap, this had a decent amount in common with the winner of this week in that it was a stock premise executed at an okay level. I could’ve seen this getting a positive mention if there was more depth of character. And more of a sense of urgency. And if the language was a bit more interesting and story-specific. Ok, so maybe it would’ve still had trouble, but after the first half of this week I was starved for a story that had something even halfway interesting or compelling in it.
As I’m reading these stories again for crits, I keep wishing that I could take two at a time and smash them together and end up with a decent story. A lot of people half-stepped and wrote half-stories this week, and if I could take the setting and characters of this one and smash them into the plotting of SharkWaifuu’s, we might have something here. As it is, this was a waste of a good premise. You had a good idea and then you just sort of stopped, I’m repeating what other judges have said here, but to add something new--why not just have the kid go crazy? Or at least start foaming at the mouth until ATV dude slaps him. You can’t set up a traverse dimension that makes you go crazy if you look at it directly and then not have that happen when someone does. You no-sold your own finishing move. You didn’t fire your own Chekhov’s gun.
Cut out everything but the last letter and then write all the cool poo poo you really want to write about blowing up the moon. Next.
Given the amount of time spent in TD talking about how death and murder are weak ways to end a story and how that can lead to some embarrassing reads, you’d think that’d be less prevalent these days, but I guess none of us are immune to the siren call of “and then that one guy died, the end”. I think of all the stories this week, I’m the most curious to know what the thought process was with this one, and how you ended up with this story and this ending. Why is time-travelling murder the solution to this problem? It’d be more understandable if Tanner was a Dead Zone-type monster that would eventually start WW3, but no, he’s just an rear end in a top hat and Future Charlie really wants to go back in time and kill him so that then she’ll...potentially not exist. Why.
Yet another half-story. Exactly one thing happens in this story that’s of any importance and it ultimately doesn’t matter all that much. I don’t care about any of these people and the perspective of the story is too far-removed to force me to. I could buy this from the up-close POV of a child who’s sweating bullets in a packed train car seeing people in gorilla masks with guns advancing menacingly, but this is all told from a perspective from way after the story where it’s clear that Everything is Mostly Okay. Probably just as much of a wasted premise as the Warprunner story.
Rhymes With Clue
So, this was a bit of a mess, and it’s kind of a shame, because some of these characters I kind of felt resonance from. If you had taken away the nonsense improv framing gimmick and just made it a story about a mother-in-law getting for-real drunk on purpose in front of her daughter and daughter’s husband, then the story would’ve had a better shot at being competent. The faking-being-drunk-improv-class thing made no goddamn sense and the word count wasn’t long enough for you to make it make sense. Simplify things for yourself next time. Take a simple idea that you think is cool and execute it to the best of your ability.
Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 02:42 on Jun 22, 2021
|# ? Jun 22, 2021 02:39|
Thunderdome Week #463 Results
This week was a good week.
Antivehicular's Yours, Mine and Ours,
Black Griffon's Vengeance Climb,
Sailor Viy's The Dreamer's Companion,
MockingQuantum's Buried Light,
Sitting Here's Gorgeous Attaction Warrior Rumina: Calamity Witch Redux, and
Dome Racer Sigma's Accounting for Dragons all HM.
But even in good weeks, the Dome demands blood.
Azza Bamboo's The Serpent takes the loss.
Idle Amalgam's DIspelled Love and
Dome Racer Alpha's A story about a crash DM.
Staggy's Tea for Two wins.
Judge crits will be posted by the end of the day tomorrow. Black Griffon and Chili have agreed to each crit half of the stories this week, and I am also making the following offer to encourage critting:
If you write crits for at least five stories from this week by Sunday night, ping me on Discord and I will buy you a gift certificate for an avatar change.
This is completely optional, though, as doing crits is its own reward.
|# ? Jun 22, 2021 19:17|
Thunderdome Week 464: Time Capsules
A passing interest of mine is internet archaeology; digging up content from the distant, hazy past of 10-20 years ago when the web was a very different place. As you may have noticed, the new admins of SA recently revealed a cache of old images hosted on the now-defunct WaffleImages hosting site in the late 2000s. You can dig in further in the dedicated thread here where you can load images at random.
(Obligatory warning: there's NSFW content on there, not to mention stuff that either hasn't aged well or was unacceptable at the time. I wouldn't browse it at work.)
This week, you are going to write me a story about time capsules. You can interpret that narrowly or loosely - I don't demand a literal keepsakes-buried-under-town-hall time capsule but there should be a recovered artifact from the past at the centre of your story.
However, you are also going to be given a flash rule image taken from the aforementioned WaffleImages cache. This is taken at random but filtered by me for the aforementioned NSFW/etc. content. If you aren't happy with your selection you can reroll up to two times but each reroll will knock 100 words off of your max word count. You only ever have to use your most recently rolled image. To repeat: I assign the image.
Max Word Count: 1200 words (but see above)
Deadline for entry: Friday Midnight PDT / Saturday 8AM BST
Deadline for submission: Sunday Midnight PDT / Monday 8AM BST
Staggy fucked around with this message at 12:16 on Jun 27, 2021
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|# ? Jun 22, 2021 19:59|
Why yes, in
|# ? Jun 22, 2021 20:00|
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|# ? Jun 22, 2021 20:05|
Why yes, in
Staggy fucked around with this message at 21:34 on Jun 22, 2021
|# ? Jun 22, 2021 20:07|
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|# ? Jan 25, 2022 12:26|
my name is judge
|# ? Jun 22, 2021 20:15|