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Contest April-May 2018 Short Story Contest Voting Thread

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, May 7, 2018.

?

Which piece do you like best?

Poll closed May 30, 2018.
  1. Story One: "Cold"

    4 vote(s)
    30.8%
  2. Story Two: "What Really Counts"

    2 vote(s)
    15.4%
  3. Story Three: "Big Brother, Little Brother"

    3 vote(s)
    23.1%
  4. Story Four: "The Beast Within"

    1 vote(s)
    7.7%
  5. Story Five: "The Huagerdon"

    3 vote(s)
    23.1%
  1. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    If I missed something that needs to be fixed, let me know by a private message. If there is more than one error in a single piece, please message me the entire edited piece rather than just copy and paste the corrected sentences.

    We have five very fine pieces this month, and you only get one vote so make your choice carefully. The theme was "Beast and Master" proposed by @Infinity Turtle

    Cold

    The eye, glassy and dead, was Tark’s only answer.

    He remained kneeling before the dead Cold One, looking into its dead eye. The battle had ended and the victorious Lustrians had driven away the green robed Skaven of Pestilens. How long Tark had knelt before his fallen mount, he seemed not to know nor care. The Lustrians, even his own fellow riders had left with barely a pause.

    Cold blood from the wound that had killed his Cold One had begun to clot in the wound, as the heat of the jungle thinned away and night began to creep its path across the sky. It had been only Tark’s presence that had prevented most of the forest’s predators and scavengers from descending upon his former mount. With the advent of night, Tark would surely become prey himself.

    Still he knelt there, claw almost tenderly placed on the lifeless face of the Cold One.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Many suns ago


    The egg splintered and broke with but the softest of cracking sounds.

    A tiny head, still dripping with fluid blinked into the light. Filmy eyes opened and shut as they tried to adjust. The tiny Cold One chirped slowly, and was taken aback from the sound it had just made. It looked up and saw a similarly reptilian face looking down upon it, blue scaled with strange glittering devices upon its head.

    Tark looked down upon the hatchling that was to be his to raise. It chirped again and scrambled from its egg as the Saurus gently offered it some pre-chewed meat. The Cold One chick chirped again, happier sounding this time as its recently formed fangs attacked the meat with gusto.

    As it ate, Tark raised a claw and tenderly touched the chick’s face.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Through the jungle the pounding of Cold One claws grew to a crescendo as the formation of riders closed in on the massed ranks of chittering green robed Skaven. Elsewhere units of Saurus crashed into swarms of the Ratmen, the whistling of blowpipes signalled the efforts of Skink skirmishers, and a heavy throb of power indicated that the temple city's Mage Priest was making his presence felt.

    Tark raised his spear as he picked out a target, a vile ratman whose visible flesh was covered in weeping boils and sores carrying a great gong. Below him, his Cold One’s breath was rasping as it tapped into its kill urge as it neared the foe.

    Then with a great crash the two lines met. Verminous squeals and saurid roars, the crash of bone and metal on metal, scale, and flesh intermingled into one terrible noise. Cold Ones tore and gnashed through tattered green robes, Skaven claws tore at scaled flesh, and Tark slew all those Skaven around him again and again.

    It was then that from the mass of vermin an even fouler creature emerged, a heavy and noxiously smoking flail in paw. It crushed the skull of one Cold One rider and then swung at Tark. Tark brought his shield up, knowing that he would be too late. And yet the blow never connected. At the final moment, the Cold One had moved into the path of Skaven.

    Tark was hurled from his saddle by the blow as his Cold One sank to the ground. The Saurus rose to his feet and roared. The Skaven gave a burbling chitter of a laugh and launched himself forwards...

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The stars had begun to wink into life through the gaps in the treeline.

    Tark removed his claw and blinked.

    A feeling so strange and alien gripped the Saurus as the shadows began to cover his former mount. A feeling he perhaps wished he could understand.

    Gently he took in a final breath, filling his nostrils with the dying scent of the Cold One, and then rose.

    Without turning back, the Saurus began the long journey home.

    What Really Counts.

    Ivalde reined his magmadroth. The battle raged below him fyreslayers supported by seraphon held the mountain pass from the undead. There were hordes of skeletons swarming up from the lowlands. But the scions of order held fast against the thralls of death.

    The Seraphon commander rode up besides Ivalde. A great Saurus also rode atop a great reptilian beast. The Saurus saluted him before he drew a dagger and threw it over a hundred yards. Ivalde watched it arc across the sky and end up in a zombies head. The Saurus grinned her teeth and held up one finger.

    She counted! He realized.

    Well a as a hot blooded fyreslayer, Ivalde had to accept the challenge, no dwarf could lose to a coldblood. He spurred on his mount and charged in to the battle with the Scar-veteran right behind.

    He swung his axe at a larger fiend in the undead ranks felling it instantly. His magmadroth trampled zombies into the ground.

    Was she going to count those? He thought. Yes, he was the master and therefore he counted them.
    Ivalde continued relentlessly bearing down on the foes swinging his axe.

    No matter what, the undead would just keep on coming, but it didn’t do anything to him,. He was still after the scar-veteran in kills. Something he intended to change. He shouted to the scar-veteran his kill count and received her reply back, just four more than him. Well he was keeping pace.

    The battle continued for hours without end. Dark clouds gathered in the sky as rain began to pour down. And with the rain did the legions of undead finally begin to waver. Their ranks thinning with every strike from dwarf or seraphon. Ivalde felled the last zombie with a mighty blow. He surveyed the battle field looking for anything more to kill. As no more dead where rising he he grunted and pulled out his pipe begining to stuff it. The scar-veteran came over stating that she had gotten 190 kills. Ivalde cried out in response:

    "191 kills for me beating you with one lousey skellie!" his magmadroth roared behind him. The scar-veteran asked how many kills the drake had gotten. The dwarf frowned

    "Well I counted them in."

    The scar-veteran laughed showing off rows of sharp teeth. After it she patted her Carnosaur gently, explaining that it had gotten 118 kills alone.

    Big Brother, Little Brother

    “Icpol! Icpol!” The skinks chirruped. The stegadon raised its head and regarded the bouncing creatures. They stood on the wall and whistled out to the beast which slowly acknowledged his hatch mates and the food in their hands.

    The monster slowly made its way to the edge of the pen, sniffing. They had brought good things for him today! He opened his beak and snapped at the fresh fruit but it was pulled away. The stegadon growled and stomped his feet, lunging.

    “Tahue! Just give it to him!” One skink shouted at the other, “How would you like it if I stole grubs off your plate!”

    “Cannot have a little fun?” Tahue replied, his mouth half open in a scaled grin. The other five skinks rolled their eyes.

    The second skink smacked Tahue’s hands, “Don’t be rude!”

    Icpol trumpeted at them once more, turning to his hatchmates who didn’t rudely pull the offered food away. The largest skink gently patted the stegadon’s nose.

    “A busy work day ahead of us, big brother,” He said. The skink was a pale, large figure and leapt from the wall to his back. The stegadon bellowed in compliance as the albino skink tapped his shield. The other skinks jumped up alongside him as the monster moved towards the enclosure’s gate. Tahue ran ahead and opened it.

    “Iztac!” Tahue chirped. The white skink hauled his spawn mate up onto the back of Icpol as they wandered down towards the city. Victorious they had been some days prior in a battle against the savage rat men, and a new wall needed to be constructed. As a hero, he had earned some respite, but his duty towards his city took paramount. Besides? Who else would command dear Icpol down to the work area?

    Iztac whistled as they neared the construction area, shouting and calling from other workers rose up, preparing hauling equipment for the beast. The skinks swarmed about connecting Icpol’s harness to the great blocks of stone. With another whistle, onwards he moved, dragging the blocks towards the ramps and kroxigors to be hauled upwards. The crew leapt off his back to help push it along, and splash water beneath it, keeping them moving as smoothly as possible. Iztac maintained his position near Icpol’s head, rapping his frill in the direction he wished the creature to go.

    The day was like any other Lustrian day, hot, humid, and perfect. At the end of it, Icpol lurched home, his crew dozing in the shade of his shield. Iztac alone was awake, almost perched on the stegadon’s brow. The late day sun bounced off the skink’s pale form.

    The mark of the Old One’s favor, his bright white scales marked him as a hero. Iztac was reluctant to shoulder such a burden…until that day…that day he went to wander away from his spawnmates and heard the great howling rage of beasts battling.

    He witnessed a mighty female stegadon fighting a carnosaur before her nest. Horns pierced, claws tore, and blood flowed freely into the mud around them. Iztac had watched in fascination, high in a tree above the fray, wincing when the nest was almost trampled. The great mother tripped the carnosaur causing the behemoth to collapse, leaving her free to crush his skull. But her wounds were too great, and she too succumbed.

    Iztac swiftly clambered down at the stegadon’s dying breath and approached the nest. One egg remained, perfect, not a single crack or blemish harmed it. And he claimed it. And ran.

    Bringing the egg back to the temple city only seemed to increase the portents surrounding him. Iztac watched over the egg, witnessing its hatching within the week. The beast slowly grew under his watchful eye, feeding Icpol from his own hands. When he had grown considerably, Iztac taught him to carry just him, a lone skink. They would charge about the jungles on the perimeter of the city chasing down the false targets the skink had set for him. The trumpeting call of the beast showed his pride even at a young age. And he continued to grow.

    He soon carried armor, then another skink, Tahue. Then another…slowly his crew was built. His howdah was slowly raised. All the while, the great creature still happily took its food directly from Iztac’s hands.

    Suddenly the burden of becoming a hero did not feel so great, especially with the broad back of a stegadon to support you.

    Icpol trundled into the enclosure, letting out a tired sigh and collapsing into the cool mud. The crew slowly slid off his back and landed into the mud alongside him, almost content to remain themselves until he rolled onto his side, sending the skinks scattering in a moment of fear. Iztac laughed from his new perch on Icpol’s shoulder. He gave the thick skin a friendly slap.

    “Sleep well, big brother, tomorrow is another day!” he chirped. Icpol opened one eye and regarded him carefully before letting out a tired wheeze and falling back asleep.

    The Beast Within

    Tap

    Tap

    Tap

    Brenn balled his hands into fists, his knuckles turning white as he squeezed them tighter.

    Tap

    Tap-

    THUNK

    He ignored the immediate pain as his skull collided with the solid wood of the hold.

    THUNK

    It was better than the incessant tapping in his mind. The tugging; the whispering; the voices.

    The urges.

    THUNK

    He tasted blood as he bit into his lip. Chapped and dry from the salty sea breeze. The metallic taste and the stinging grounded him. Pain was a leash he could tie himself too.

    Footsteps sounded on the other side of the door and Brenn froze. He pushed himself into the shadows, praying silently that he would remain undiscovered.

    As the footsteps faded again he cursed under his breath and laughed to himself. A wretched sound and nothing short of mirthless. What god would listen to him now?

    He had spent most of his small pouch of coins to gain entrance to the ship, no questions asked. He didn’t know where he was going, and he didn’t particularly care. It would take him far away from his old home, far from his memories of his last few days spent there. Unfortunately not far enough.

    He had killed someone.

    >>:-:<<

    Brenn walked down the starlit street of the town. It wasn’t a large town, often finding itself omitted from maps and memories, but the townsfolk didn’t worry. They were content with their quiet, farm led lives. Everyone knew everyone. Life was blissfully ordinary.

    Putting a hand to his throbbing forehead, Brenn continued on his way. “Headache” would be an understatement. His steps had echoed off the cold cobblestone of the road, the laughter and shouting from the tavern had faded into the background. He swore quietly and colourfully to himself. A fool. He was a fool.

    The small bag of money felt worryingly light. A night at the tavern offered winnings, but seemed to only deliver loses. Brenn glance slightly over his shoulder to the sound of footsteps. A clanking of coins.

    Brenn tried to pretend he hadn’t noticed, but the footsteps appeared and an arm was slung over his shoulder.

    “No hard feelings, right?” A toothy grin. Eyes that held boastful glee.

    >>:-:<<

    That had been weeks ago. Months perhaps. Brenn had no interest in keeping track of time anymore.

    It had been messy, not entirely painless and an accident.

    Punches turned to a beating which lead to broken ribs and glossy eyes.

    An accident. Definitely.

    Stupid.

    Worth it.

    THUNK

    There it was again. The voice. It sounded familiar. It echoed from the very core of him. A voice he’d heard somewhere before…

    He’d rushed to the docks half a mile from the town, paying a merchant more than what was necessary to board a ship and stay below deck. He had tried not to think too hard as he handed over the leather pouch full of coins. He hoped the merchant wouldn’t notice his bloody knuckles, though when gold was involved, human curiosity often found other things to do.

    Stupid. Foolish. Horrible.

    Exhilarating.

    THUNK

    Fun.

    He stopped as more footsteps rushed passed. A few heart beats later another set followed. Shouts began to sound far above through the ceiling. Something was wrong.

    Carefully sliding off his sorry excuse for a bed, Brenn sidled his way to the door of the store room. The boat rocked gently underneath his feet as he pressed his ear against the door. More footsteps, more shouts. Very wrong.

    I hope there’s blood.

    He slammed his forehead into the door and winced at the pain. He could hear that… Thing inside him growling quietly to itself- purring. Razor sharp fangs, forked tongue- and that voice…

    He gently opened the door and stepped into the hall, turning towards the ladder at the far end of it. He took the rungs three at a time and slipped onto the main deck. Keeping to the shadows, he gazed around in the faint light of the moon and stars. He wouldn’t have to try hard to stay hidden given the frenzy on deck.

    Searching for the source of the panic, his eyes turned east where the horizon had started turning strained sort of pink. He narrowed his eyes at the once smooth line where sky meets sea. Land.

    Land that, with the wind behind them, was rapidly approaching.

    He felt the thing inside him snicker quietly to itself. A sound that was far from pleasant. Crew men had worked to lower most of the sails and were working to bring down the rest. Brenn was shoved back into reality when one of the voyagers, whether crew or merchant or just a traveller, Brenn didn’t know, grabbed his arms and tugged him along to a rope were a few other men were gathered. Whatever the man was shouting over the din, Brenn didn’t understand a word of it, but he joined the others in pulling on the rope. He had no idea what he was doing or how he could possibly be helping the situation. He was just thankful that the uproar had lent him invisibility.

    Brenn glanced again to the east, directly in form of the bow. Though still a fair way off, in the growing light he could now make out the real danger. The boat began to rock more violently as they drew nearer. Waves crashed and tumbled over one another as if fighting each other to reach the shore, separated only by the great expanse of a reef reaching out to shelter the now closer length of beach.

    Brenn heard the crack first, then he was thrown from the rope and the men he had been standing with. He swivelled to try and land on something that wasn’t his face and found the hard deck with his palms and chest. Clenching his teeth he tried to scramble into an upright position but found himself helplessly clawing at the smooth worn wood as the world began to turn.

    There was a mighty creaking as the boat began to tip. Its keel had been wedged against the reef so the swells pushed the vessel until it stood parallel to the shore. Waves buffeted the side and water rushed in below deck.

    He heard a scream close by. He realised it was himself. That voice- his voice…

    Brenn closed his eyes as the world went to hell.

    >>:-:<<

    There was sand everywhere. Sand and salt and water. The sound of crashing waves. The hiss on the sand. The stinging pain of warm sea water finding cuts and scrapes left by the coral.

    Everything blurred as Brenn dragged himself up the gritty beach, the push and pull of the waves slowing his ascent. He heard gulls and rolled onto his back to see them circling high above.

    The sun was nearing the centre of the sky, beating down on him.

    Looking out to sea, he could only make out a scattering of flotsam and a flock of gulls picking through for their next meal.

    Hauling himself to his feet, Brenn bit down on the collar of his shirt to try and block the scream that was building in his throat. Pain. Pain everywhere. He glanced down at a wedge of wood that had imbedded itself in his thigh. Blood seeped out from the wound. He took off his torn shirt and wrapped it tightly above the wound. Gritting his teeth he tugged out the piece of wood.

    Stupid.

    Use it.

    He blocked out the pain, turning it into a tingling throb at the back of his mind.

    A distraction.

    Focus.

    He gazed further down the beach and saw another figure. It lifted its hands and waved at him. Brenn only stared back. The figure approached. Limping. Injured.

    Weak.

    “You made it out too? I’ve been looking for other survivors…” The figure was a middle aged man. Drenched with sea water and dripping down one arm, with a distinct metallic scent… blood.

    The newcomer’s voice faded into the ringing in his ears. He felt his hand tighten around the piece of wood, still soaked in his blood.

    He stared blankly ahead. The other man’s mouth moved. A few moments later in his mind he registered the words: “Are you okay?”

    Brenn took a step closer. The man took a step back.

    Fear. You can taste it.

    That voice- his voice, he realised. It commanded him. He was merely a puppet, a creature of obedience.

    The other man didn’t get a chance to cry out before his throat was stabbed again and again and again with that splinter of driftwood.

    Weak. He deserved it.

    Blood soaked into the white sand and Brenn collapsed beside the twitching corpse. He didn’t hear the quiet footfalls on the beach. He didn’t feel the vibrations through the sand as something approached. He only looked up when he heard the hiss of breath from a few paces further up shore. Springing to his feet, Brenn brandished the small stake and whirled on the scaly creature behind him.

    Bloodshot, salt stung eyes met golden glowing ones and Brenn smiled grimly as the spear went through his chest.

    Foolish.

    Worth it.

    The Huagerdon

    Dawn began to recede into full daylight thought the forest canopy and hanging mists diluted the effect. The lone Skink breathed in deep, drawing in the nearby smells both good and bad. The smell of loamy soil mixed with the smell of ripening fruit. The smell of decomposing dung and rotting animal carcasses mixed with the sweet fragrance of blooming flowers. The jungle made sense. It smelled with the promise of new life and it reeked of the inevitability of death. Beauty and ugliness coexisted side-by -side. Perhaps this was what the Old Ones intended. Not a pastoral soft paradise, but an ever active shifting balancing moving about around an equilibrium.

    In the dawn’s light filtering through the jungle canopy, the beast caste Skink’s dark green scales were almost as good camouflage as a Chameleon Skink, but now that the light was brighter, he would be more visible. Not that he was in any danger. The jungle was quiet. Normal quiet, not dangerous quiet. The air was filled with light sound of chirping insects, singing birds, croaking amphibians, rustling trees from arboreal mammals and a light breeze. All was well, this was why Tal-Lat avoided Temple cities.

    This was part of the reason why Tal-Lat avoided Temple Cities…Being around other Skinks made him think of all the friends he lost. By himself the pain was diminished. He told others he was searching for signs of a Coatl. By finding a Coatl he hoped he could help advance the Great Plan, but really he hoped a Coatl would heal the hole in his soul. He began a silent devotion to Iztl.

    Itzl please give me the strength and wisdom to allow me to carry out your divine will. Please give me a sign.

    Perhaps he didn’t find completion in his soul, but he was reasonably content. He had fresh air and peaceful solitude. His stomach full of the breakfast of fresh meat and fresh fruit. Then his reverie was interrupted.

    “Mrrrrraaa”

    The nearby whine broke his reverie.

    That sounds kind of like a huagerdon….

    “Mrrrrrooo” it came more pitifully.

    Tal-Lat sighed and followed the sound. Probably, a huagerdon. Not the sign from Itzl I wanted. He walked a short distance to a small pit. Maybe eight feet deep at most. It was hard to tell if it was formed by pooling rain water or a trap setting carnivore. He carefully approached the hole. No cover over the top at all. Even an abandoned trap wouldn’t be completely uncovered.

    “Mrraa”

    A pair of large golden eyes looked up at him, so similar to a Skinks it reminded Tal-Lat why some First keep huagerdons. The four legged owner of the eyes backed up as much as the hole it was in could allow. It started shaking in fear. Definitely a huagerdon and a young one at that.

    “I’m not going to eat you. Stop shaking.”
    “Yurr?”

    Huagerdons were cute, but Tal-Lat was beyond that sentimentality. Seemed a little small to be out on its own, but what mother huagerdon would let her hatchling fall in a pit. Maybe it was a young adult that was small and underfed. Maybe the mother had to abandon one to save the others.

    "Why did you step into an uncovered pit like this?”
    “Yoff!”
    “Idiot. If there wasn’t a tiny chance you are a sign from Itzl, I’d leave you there.”
    “Mrrrroo”
    “Stop looking at me like that, I’ll get you out.”
    “Yoff!”

    Tal-Lat sighed audibly. Tal-Lat thought it was just an old rain formed hole that dried up, and the huagerdon’s thrashing would have probably triggered any dangers, but he didn’t take any chances. He found a long stick and poked around the hole to look for trapdoor spiders, quicksand and any other hazards. The young creature pounced on the stick and tried to grasp it with its teeth, at one point tugging on it.

    “Stop that!”
    “Yiff!”
    “Alright, I’m coming down.”

    Carefully, the Skink dropped clambered into the hole. The huagerdon seemed torn between rushing forward in delight and backing away in fear. Tal-Lat saw it was a young female and a bit scrawny. It might have been in the hole over a day.

    “Want some food, girl?”
    “Yurr?”
    “Food.”

    The creature stared at him with her large golden eyes. Slowly he removed his backpack and unwrapped a piece of cooked meat leftover from last night’s hunt. He waved it at the huagerdon slowly. Her nose wiggled.

    “Yiff!”

    The little reptile surged forward and pulled the meat from his claws. She tore into the meat so fast she seemed to inhale it. Once it was all gone she sniffed around for more and looked up at the Skink, her tail frantically wagging.

    “Yurr?”
    “That’s all the meat I got.”
    “Yurr?”
    “I’ll need to hunt more, later. By the way, you’re welcome.”
    “Yiff!”

    The huagderon nuzzled against the Skink’s leg. Tal-Lat fought the urge to smile.

    “Okay, let’s get you out of this hole that you obviously couldn’t get yourself out of by yourself”

    He examined the hole. The mud hadn’t hardened completely, but it wasn’t soft enough to let a creature without opposable digits get enough of a claw hold to climb out. Tal-Lat could have climbed out by hand, but that wouldn’t be necessary. He walked to closest vertical edge and extended his arms. He could almost reach the ledge. It would be fairly easy to make a short jump to the edge and pull himself up. Tal-Lat wished he tied a rope to a tree before descending the hole. The little huagderon looked at him and cocked her ears toward him quizzically, unsure what he was doing.

    “Yurr?”
    “I’m figuring how to get your puddle brained tail out of this hole."
    “Yoff!”

    Tal-Lat paused and fished out his water bladder from his pack and took a sip.

    “Mrrraa”
    “Thirsty, girl?”
    “Yoff!”

    Tal-Lat spread out the wrapping his meat was on and poured a little water on it. The huagerdon began messily lapping it up.

    “You know maybe you should try getting some of the water in your mouth.”
    “Yurr?”
    “Nevermind.”

    Tal-Lat waited till all the water was either drinked up or absorbed into the ground.

    “Can we go back to escaping this hole now?”
    “Yiff!”
    “I’ll take that as a yes.”

    Tal-Lat bent down and reached for the huagerdon, and she began vigorously licking his hands. The Skink started laughing before he caught himself and stopped.

    “Hey, stop that! I’m trying to pick you up.”

    Eventually he got two hands grasping both sides of her midsection. He lifted the huagerdon to the edge of the pit.

    She didn’t move.

    “This…is the part…where you clamber out…the mahrlect….hole…”

    She pawed feebly and started whining and shaking again. Tal-Lat grunted and tried to inch her closer.

    “GO!”
    “Mrraaa!”
    “Puddle brained tadpole…”

    Tal-Lat lowered her back to the bottom of the pit and flexed his sore muscles.

    “What’s wrong with you?”
    “Mrrroooo”

    The Skink sat down grumpily in the drying mud. He fished around in his backpack and remembered his meat was all gone. He grabbed some dried fruit.

    “You are more trouble than you are worth.” He scolded.
    “Yurr?”
    “What’s wrong with your paw?”

    The huagerdon clambered forward into the Skink’s lap. His expression softened as annoyance gave way to paternalistic concern.

    “Oh, your front paws are all scratched up. No wonder you couldn’t get a good grasp on the ledge. It can’t be good thrashing about the mud like that. Hold still.”

    Tal-Lat grabbed some disinfecting ointment from his medicinal pouch and began cleaning the shallow cuts on her paws.

    “Mrraaa!”
    “Yeah it stings but this will make you feel better in the long run.”

    After he cleaned and coated the scratches, he blew on them gently.

    “Yiff!”

    Then he wrapped some small bandages around them.

    “That’s better but you probably shouldn’t put more weight on your paws than you need. Itzl, if this moron is a sign from above I want you notice how respectful I am being to a cold blooded creature under your auspices”
    “Yarr?”
    “Nevermind. Anyway, I’m going to you out of this hole and take you to the nearest Kahoun.”
    “Yarr?”
    “Well you can’t stay with me. You’d just slow me down.”
    “Yoff!”
    “No I don’t need a blood hound, my senses are fine. Some soft-hearted Skink who doesn’t mind useless pets can take you in.”

    The huagerdon started licking his hands again. Tal-Lat sighed.

    “Why am I even talking to you?

    The Skink picked her up experimentally. The huagerdon was light, but he would need both hands to get out of the pit.

    He put her down and stood up and put on his backpack. Then he did a jumping pull up to get out of the hole.

    “Mrrroo!! Yaff! Yaff! Yaff!”
    “I’m not leaving you. Why I would I through the trouble to feed you just to leave you down there.”

    The two locked eyes from the top and bottom of the hole.

    “Yurr?”
    “Idiot.”

    He uncoiled his rope and securely tied it to a sturdy tree. Then he emptied the contents of his pack and put on his empty pack and slid down the hole once again.

    “Yiff!”

    The huagerdon started frantically jumping at him, pawing and licking.

    “I told I wasn’t leaving. Okay, enough. I’m getting you out of here.”

    Tal-Lat removed his pack. This time when he picked her up she stood helpfully still for once.

    “Into the pack you go!”

    Tal-Lat fed the beast into his backpack. She resumed squirming. Tal-Lat couldn’t tell if it was from excitement or discomfort. Her head and front two bandaged paws were sticking adorably out. He climbed up the rope, and then removed the pack and sat on the ground. The huagerdon licked the Skink’s face eagerly. Tal-Lat didn’t restrain his smile this time. Once free of the pack she began running in circles and yipping excessively.

    This diversion wasn’t all bad, Itzl. Thank you for leading me to this haugerdon.

    “Okay when you calm down, and come back here, we’ll go find some more food then head back to Kahoun where you can rest and recuperate from your paw scratches.”

    “Yi—"

    A Terradon swooped down and stifled the huagerdon’s sounds before flying away with its prize.

    “Not funny, Itztl!”

    Per usual, critiques, comparisons and friendly banter is encouraged.

    I'm not going to be too strict on this, but if you are aiming to do a comprehensive critique, I'd prefer you make a few large posts rather than a swarm of little ones. Mainly for the benefit of people who are reading this thread a year from now.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
  2. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Crowsfoot and spawning of Bob like this.
  3. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Kroxigor

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    Must say-squeak, impressive submissions as always! :D

    Am actually scribble-writing some review-things, so hopefully will have something up soon(tm)...
     
  4. Carnikang
    Kroxigor

    Carnikang Well-Known Member

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    I enjoyed all of them. Though which one was the best is quite the conundrum.
     
  5. Infinity Turtle
    Cold One

    Infinity Turtle Well-Known Member

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    I enjoyed all of them! Some very creative and unique ideas. It’s always fun to read for these comps as people all seem to think differently and write as such.

    (Well I was enjoying story five, but it left me a bit emotionally scarred at the end... I don’t think I’ll ever recover...)
     
  6. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning

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    Story 1: I am almost too sad to even write a review. Poor little Cold One. :(:sorry: It surely was emotionally gripping and I like how the whole story is told in that single moment, recounting the moment that led to the cruel reality we know from the very first paragraph.

    Story 2: This one has an upbeat vibe, reminded me of Lord of the Rings with Legolas and Gimli counting. I would like to have it a bit longer.

    Story 3: Heartwarming. A glimpse of hope in a cruel world. I like it. The most interesting part is the flashback, but I also liked the description of the work area with Kroxigor lifting stuff and so on.

    Story 4: I am not sure I fully grasp this one. The main character kills someone, and that makes Khorne take over or something, which makes him violent. He flees using the ship and the ship sinks. He is in Khorne-rage-mode and kills the other survivor, and in the end a Lizardmen kills him? I like how the story is written, it flows nicely, but I have the feeling I missed something.

    Story 5: :eek::eek::(:(:sorry: I am not even sure whether that end is supposed to be funny or not. Up to that point I liked the story, and had the end been more... filled with purpose at least, I think I'd like it better. The way it is it fits the universe I guess, where basically everyting is a cruel joke at the expense of the creatures living in the universe, still.... it feels like a wasted opportunity for me, which might exactly be what the author wants. I am not sure.


    EDIT: I haven't voted yet.
     
  7. Killer Angel
    Skink Priest

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Let me tell that these are five wonderful stories. I miss the fact that I only have one vote, but given that it's my fault (as I didn't submit a piece) I cannot complain.

    I'll ponder on them and post a review asap. Kudos to all authors.
     
  8. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Scalenex Imparts his Unimpeachable Wisdom


    Good pieces all around. Going to be tough to assign a single vote to this one.

    Story One, Story One:
    Very well constructed story. The tough Saurus Warrior reflects on the death of his mount and experiences a new emotion. Or maybe based on the flashback, the love was always in his heart. Gushy, but it involves death and mourning (and a vicious bloody battle) so it balances out.

    What could have made this piece better? I would have liked a few hundred extra words on the battle. I would have liked a few battle vignettes where the Saurus and Cold One were efficiently killing the enemy before hopping straight to the noble sacrifice. That would make the noble sacrifice more poignant. We only had one pre-mortem bonding scene (birth and baby birding) but two bonding scenes would have been good before the sacrifice. Maybe give the Cold One a name. That would be easy to put into the hatching scene.


    Story Two, “What Really Counts”: A nice straightforward action piece with good humor and good characterization.

    Maybe this piece was a bit too short. I think this piece should have been longer. The author is good at writing evocative action scenes so we could have used more of it. It was little a bit longer, we readers could build up more tension about who is going to win the informal contest.


    Story Three, “Big Brother, Little Brother”: Good characterization, good storytelling with an economy of words. A nice simple story without the negativity and sadness of some of the other pieces.

    My misgiving is that this could have used a bit more framing or exposition. This piece was basically in media res and it took a reread or two to figure out who was who and who was doing what.


    Story Four, “The Beast Within”: The concept of the beast within is a nice classic story trope. The story had excellent emotional resonance, pacing and characterization. A full story was told in a relatively small word count. Nice and dark. Strong contender for the Scalenex Cup.

    The author took a risk using non-linear storytelling. My misgiving with this piece was that it was hard to follow what was happening to who and where at times.


    Story Five, “The Huagerdon”: Well we are long overdue for developing some Lustrian creatures that are not in any army books. Good characterization. I liked how the huagerdon gradually wore down the protagonist’s tough outer shell. I also like how there was evocative dialogue where half of it was “yiff”s. Not as eloquent as Bob’s dialogues about hand weapons and spears, but pretty good.

    Last contest had lots of nihilism in many pieces. This contest put all the nihilism in one piece. Now I like it dark, but this may have gone too far and according to polls, I’m a soulless monster. This is basically a puppy we are talking about…The pit seemed a little too convenient. There was not much of an explanation for why it's there or why the little critter fell into it beyond "the plot demands it!"
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2018
  9. Carnikang
    Kroxigor

    Carnikang Well-Known Member

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    After some thought, and a great deal of reflection, I picked one. Suffice to say, they were all worthy of being picked, by their own merits and the tools used. I particularly enjoyed the dynamic of The Huagerdon, and the sort of 'Slice of Life' that was Big Brother, Little Brother.

    That not to say that the others didn't do interesting things as well. Particularly What Really Counts tackling the fluff of AoS, The Beast Within using a unique (in this forum) character to be the focus, and Cold. Cold was a nice change of pace, reflecting on what do the Sauras actually feel in moments where a human would feel grief, loss, emotional pain? I've never been a fan of the 'autonomous, mostly-sentient, god-made-robots' they've been made out to be in the fluff.

    Again, to reiterate, Bravo Writers.
     
  10. spawning of Bob
    Skar-Veteran

    spawning of Bob Well-Known Member

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    4 Masters of writing and the Beast who concocted Story 5. The competition follows its own theme.

    A tough set to choose 1 vote for, particularly because they couldn't be judged by the same criteria - very diverse.

    Discussions to follow
     
    Crowsfoot and Essmir like this.
  11. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Kroxigor

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    Story One

    I knew it! Of course there’d be a piece with a grief-stricken rider and his former mount (or the other way around.)

    That said, there is the issue of how ‘human’ you make a Lizardman to show grief in such a comparable sense. Can a Lizardman feel grief over something which they are likely meant to regard as a tool? And yet there are examples I know of where saurians show affection to their mounts such as Kroq-Gar and Grymloq, so perhaps not.

    This story seems to try and go through both avenues, with the Saurus clearly upset and yet seemingly unable to process the emotion. It’s quite the middle ground and I’m impressed that the writer went for this path.

    The story itself is very hefty on description and yet we don’t really get much for Tark nor his unnamed mount. Whilst this is good for the reader to create their own image from the scraps given, it does perhaps make it feel a little distant. Otherwise, the use of description elsewhere is quite visceral in places and gloriously beautiful in others. This is a story that needs no dialogue, and a challenging feat by this writer to boot!

    I will say that some of the sentences drag in places and I feel a bit cheated that we can only assume Tark did get vengeance. But overall an intriguing and emotional piece! Well done you heartstring pulling monster!


    Story Two

    “Legolas! Two already!”

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

    I have been wondering how the memory constructs of mounts and beasts would work for Seraphon. Whilst this piece didn’t go too much in depth with the nuances and potential challenges and problems, there was enough of an implied companionship to give an impression. Well she afterall did count exactly how many kills her mount claimed, which on top of her own is a fair feat. I also get the impression that the Fyreslayer had a lot less kills than his mount in contrast to the Scar-Vet. Typical Dwarf-things...

    The fight scenes were well done without losing the focus on the two battling over most kills, and the pacing seemed about right for this sort of story (mayhaps I would have preferred it to be a bit drawn out with more details and context of the battle, but that’s just me.)

    I do think that this story really needed a good proofreading or two before it was submitted. I do realise that the race towards the chequered flag was a panicked and rushed affair for many of us writer-meat (certainly in my case) but I do feel the odd misspelling and such like errors do make a difference.

    But yes, definitely a lot more light hearted and fun compared to the last one! Nicely done! :)



    Story Three

    Yay! Steg-thing live-live (maybe later food-thing for mighty-great Skaven armies...hrrrmmm...)

    *Cough* Erm I mean...it’s nice to see such a heart-warming piece!

    It’s funny how this piece has similarities to the first piece, with both protagonists hatching and raising their mount. I think this piece by dint of devoting a bit more time to the relationship between the steg and skink does it better in showing the (I’d really agree with the title and say brotherly) bond between the two.

    I guess I feel like this piece could have benefitted with a little ironing out over who was who and the transition to Iztac’s memories of Icpol. A minor issue maybe, but it did take me more than a scan through to process it properly.

    Even so, a very strong and enjoyable piece!


    Story Four

    Bad-bad voice-things in head-meat!

    I really like how the ‘evil’ voice is written. Another voice that urges the protagonist to do terrible things is a classic trope (I myself have used it many times such as with my Tech-Priest when the spirit of a Harlequin got into his mind, Mizzreek’s shattered psyche from his overuse of opium, or how my birdman character has not only his evil alter ego in his mind at times but also voices that may or may not be gods talking to him...) The author-thing here does a very good job in portraying the two voices. I don’t think he/she overdoes it and keeps it simple yet powerful.

    I will say that the whole Lustria thing feels a bit shoehorned in to better meet with it being in a Lizzie story comp. Though considering how well the voices are written, I’m more than willing to overlook this. :p

    That being said, there does feel like there is something distinctly lacking in this piece. The pace for much of it is fairly slow and then almost abruptly ends with the skink. Perhaps something more on the nature of the voice and Brenn might have given it something more? I’m not sure.

    Even so, a nice look into the darkness within!


    Story Five


    Whoever wrote this piece is a monster...a glorious monster that oozes such black humour that I must tip my hat to... *tips hat*

    Hooboy...where do I begin?

    The characters are very nicely written, and even though both don’t really speak the same language (if you scent-ask me you lizzie-things all sound like hiss-things...I mean-mean...hiss hisss growl hisssss...) the dialogue between the two is utterly charming and funny.

    Despite the length of this piece it didn’t feel too dragging for me, there was enough well placed description and dialogue to offset this. I kinda liked the slowness of pace too.

    And that ending...

    It goes to show you how ‘cruel’ the world is. That you spend hours, days, weeks, years striving for something when it can be overturned in mere moments. That life is so fragile and insignificant in this universe as far galaxies collide and a million million stars burn and die...sorry...think I lost myself there... If anything I loved the twist ending very muchly.

    Very well done!


    All in all you scale-things keep pumping up some great scribble-scratches! You all are credit-things to your spawning pools! :p
     
    Crowsfoot, Essmir, Carnikang and 2 others like this.
  12. Scolenex
    Cold One

    Scolenex Well-Known Member

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    More reviews. We need more reviews!

    Very postive and uplifting. Perhaps too positive...

    Story One: Yay, the saurus survived!

    Story Two: Yay the undead died!

    Story Three: Yay, one of the Stegadon's young survived!

    Story Four: Yay, the human died with ironic contentment!

    Story Five: Yay, the huagerdon didn't die a slow death of starvation!
     
  13. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Skink Chief

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Well-Known Member

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    Yay, the panda’s back! :p
     
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  14. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Kroxigor

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    One week to go...and looks like but a single vote-thing can sway it!
     
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  15. Killer Angel
    Skink Priest

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    I am ashamed that i have so little time even to write my reviews… :(

    1 - Cold
    This was the first, and I thought "wow... if this is the level, it will be hard to take a decision".
    A good heartbreaking piece, I knew there would have been at least one of those.
    Unluckily for you, this round I wanted to give my vote to a positive story. Hope you don't mind. ;)

    2 - What really counts
    Nice one… it really gives the idea of the two different ways of living the "bond" with riders and mounts.
    Fyreslayers, so tipically filled with dwarven, greedy mentality, see their mounts just as a living equipment, while lizzies have a relationship with a living companion, a bond between peers. There's much more in this story than it could seem at a first glance.

    3 - Big Brother, Little Brother.
    a typical day of skinks, skink Alpha and stegadon. Daily routine with no combat, and the true nature of the quiet bonding between beasts and lizards in Lustria. Peaceful, reassuring and eartwarming. It took my vote.

    4 - the beast within
    It took me unprepared. Of course, Beast and Master can be intended also in this way. Good story, it's always nice to see how chaos consumes its own servants/victims and it's fueled by the fall of such wretched tools.

    5 - The huagerdon
    The ending cracked me up. I was almost going to give it my vote just for it… really brilliant. :D
    But all the story buildin was well developed, I truly enjoied the development of the interaction between the skink and the animal. Well done.


    Thanks to all the authors, it was really a good contest! :)
     
    Crowsfoot, Aginor, Carnikang and 3 others like this.
  16. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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  17. Crowsfoot
    Slann

    Crowsfoot Guardian of Paints Staff Member

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    Well done to all the writers some cracking stories and let's hope the next contest is just as good ;)
     
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  18. Killer Angel
    Skink Priest

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Kudos to the winner, and a big thanks to all authors!
     
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  19. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Kroxigor

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    I...wasn't expecting that. :eek:

    Well...I did vote on day one so I have been watching all this time...but still.

    The quality of writing as always with this forum was top notch, that I really think this compy could have gone either way. I'm still grateful for @Scalenex inviting me along from the Skaven forums all that time ago. As always, thirteen thousand sneaky backstabs thanks to everyone who voted (especially for my piece), everyone who entered such fantastic pieces, and the compy runner!
     
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  20. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning

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    Congratulations!
     

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