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Fiction Stories of Renown... Kind of...

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Lizards of Renown, Mar 1, 2020.

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  1. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Then (as it was a multiple entry contest), I thought "what the hell" and entered a second poem, meant to be a bit of a funny one.

    Much to my surprise, it ended up winning the contest (tied with another from @Infinity Turtle and then in a subsequent run-off election managed to squeak past by one vote).

    "In the Mind of a Kroxigor"

    Pretty little skinkies, running all around,
    Pretty little skinkies making lots of sounds,
    What's that little skinky? Fighting does abound?

    Dwarves go squish,
    Elves go snap,
    Humans splat,
    Just like that

    Someone touch a skinkie, will get ripped apart,
    Rip off their heads and die, wasn't very smart,
    What's that little skinkie? Fight another part?

    Rats go squeak,
    Chaos go crack,
    Beastmen whine,
    Break their backs,

    YOU HURT PRETTY SKINKIE?!?!?
    RIP, TEAR, POUND, BITE, STOMP
    YOU HURT PRETTY SKINKIE?!?!?
    DIE, DIE, DIE, DIE, CHOMP

    Pretty little skinkie, turns out he's okay,
    Pretty little skinkie, let's go back and play.
     
  2. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    This was my entry for the October/November Short Story contest. It's a story that had been bouncing around in my head for ages and I really enjoyed writing it. I'm including it as I submitted it (after handling a couple of typos) but at some point I may flesh out the story a bit.

    It came in joint second so I was fairly happy with the result

    ---

    The Savage Beast

    Broken and bleeding Orcs littered the chamber. Charred lines led to fires still burning on the floor and walls while a solitary Orc floated in the middle of the room. Swirling lightning held it, constricting slowly and sickeningly until it’s spine shattered and it dropped to the floor.

    With nowhere else to run, the Orc Warboss cowered in the corner. It stood, weapon held in shaking hands, facing a shadowed figure advancing from the shadows from which pulsated raw, unfettered arcane energies.

    “Who are you?” The Warboss whispered. “How do you possess such power?”

    The lizard laughed. A cold, chilling sound that echoed in strange counterpart to the soft spluttering of flames around him. “I? I am death. I am your deepest fears. I am the madness within your soul. I am-“

    “It’chit” The Warboss interrupted him, but the Orc’s voice was strangely high-pitched, hadn’t it just been gutturally growling?

    “IT’CHIT!!!”

    It’chit blinked. The Orc Warboss looked awfully like Oracle Kno’Itawl…

    It’Chit recoiled as he came fully aware of the Oracle standing over him. As the last of the dream left him, assisted by the glare of his superior, he recognised the familiar walls of Outpost Chil’lax.

    Scrambling out of his berth, he hurriedly dressed as the Oracle railed at him. “It’Chit! You are needed at the assignment station! RUN!”

    It’chit hurriedly slipped on the gold headband as his last clothing item and rushed out the door. Speeding through the streets of the outpost, coming at last to the central parade ground, he heaved a sigh of relief that the sorting had not started. He scurried over to the other priests, walking around orderly lines of Saurus, fluid units of Skink Skirmishers and ducking under the belly of a waiting Stegadon.

    The strike force had been hastily summoned due to reports from their scouts at The High Sentinel, who had sighted Black Arks far out to sea heading south towards them at the Temple of Kara. Their force was a mere formality as the Slann predicted that they would land much further south, giving a shorter run on land to one of the temple cities.

    As It’Chit stood breathing heavily and starting to calm down, he became aware of his fellow Skinks sniggering. Glimpsing one pointing at his head, he realised his headband, with the tiny golden plaques identifying his lore and origin-city, was upside down.

    Mortified, It’Chit turned it the right way round and wished the earth would swallow him whole.

    It had always been like this. Ever since he had started in the Arcane Academy, his clumsiness had been the brunt of cruel jokes and jibes. Worse, when his magical aptitude had been determined, the spell he had been assigned always seemed beyond him. While other Skink Priests were permanently assigned to Talons, he remained Third Class, struggling with simple spells and his one assigned battle spell.

    It’Chit watched as the troops were divided into battle formations, each Talon assigned a Skink Priest for both communication and magic. He prayed to the Old Ones that he would not be needed and watched with growing hope as the Talons were assigned under waiting Scar Veterans and sent to their assigned locations along the coastline. Kno’Itawl relayed orders from the Slann, his eyes glowing with a slight golden-hue which marked a Priest being utilised as a vassal.

    After an hour, all of the Lizardmen had been assigned. It’Chit tried not to look hopeful as he realised that each Claw had a Priest already…

    Just at that moment, a Scar-Veteran barrelled into the square. Realising that comedy was all good timing, he applauded the gods giving him false hope and laughing as they dashed it before him.

    -

    Scar-Veteran Qar’Vup ran to the Old Blood, saluted and came to attention. It was a note of pride that he was always chosen for tough, almost suicidal, assignments and he expected no less from this current summons. He had marched day and night to get to the meeting point on time. He was entirely blind to his arrogant streak and believed himself an Old One reborn. Puffing himself up, he addressed the Old-Blood.

    “I came as soon as I got the summons, Talon-Leader, I am-“

    “Late.” The Old Blood cut him off. “Set up near the ruins. You can keep watch for any enemy movements.”

    Qar’Vup deflated slightly. “Great Leader, I would be better utilised at the forefront of the attack. I have proven myself time and time again-“

    The Old Blood cut him off again. “It is interesting, spawnling, that you should speak of time when you have so obviously wasted it. Go to your assigned station.”

    Qar’Vup could see it was futile. Smothering his anger, he saluted. “Old Blood, how will I alert you if I spot anything?”

    “Use the priest,” Old Blood shouted over it’s shoulder as it strode away.

    Qar’Vup frowned, there was no Priest here. Looking around again he heard a small, quavering voice from below, “Ahem…. Sc-Scar Veteran?” Qar’Vup looked down to see possibly the smallest Skink Priest that he had ever seen.

    -

    Trudging up the hill, It’Chit kicked a stone and snarled quietly to himself. He had been furious and embarrassed in equal measure when the Scar-Veteran had laughed in his face! To add insult to injury, he had then asked if he was sure that he hadn’t stolen the marks of office he now wore! Surely the gods were laughing now as the punchline to their joke was revealed.

    But this was all forgotten after two hours of climbing and he now laboured to draw breath as they reached the hilltop of the Temple of Kara. He was not built for this and had fallen further and further behind, much to the annoyance of the Scar-Veteran.

    -

    Qar’Vup surveyed the land from the vantage point on the hill. Standing at the edge of the ruins on the cliff, the sea was a stone’s throw away and the verdant jungle spread out as far as the eye could see to his left and right.

    He ground his teeth. This was a pointless gesture. A petty way of punishing his lateness by placing him in an irrelevant part of the battle. Turning, he accidentally knocked the diminutive Priest flying which only served to increase Qar’Vup’s irritation. “Go find something useful to do!” he bellowed and the Skink scampered off around the side of the ruins.

    Snorting, Qar’Vup started the mind-numbing exercise of watching the sea and surrounds for the enemy.

    -

    Qar’Vup stopped. What was that smell? Nostrils flaring and tongue flicking out to taste the air, he tried to identify it. Suddenly, hissing black flashed across his vision and pain blossomed in his shoulder. From out of nowhere, dozens of figures in black poured out of the trees. Cursing his own complacency, he snapped the bolt’s shaft, set his shield and roared his defiance as they formed a large circle around him.

    -

    The sudden roar startled It’Chit.

    Scurrying back round the side of the ruins, he beheld a surreal nightmare as dozens of Dark Elves surrounded the Scar-Veteran.

    Fear stunned him into inaction. He was so caught up he didn’t see the new arrivals until they were close. Startled, he stumbled backwards. Two Witch Elves lithely stalked towards him with another female behind them, which even It’Chit could perceive was a sorceress.

    As if they could smell his fear the two Witch Elves came on slowly. Licking lips and twirling serrated blades, they seemed to want to draw out the moment to enjoy their quarry’s last moments of terror-fuelled panic. It’Chit scrabbled backwards in the dirt, seeing before him his own death in the utmost pain and agony possible.

    Unless…

    He stopped trying to retreat, hunched over his holy relics and for the first time in his life threw all of his very being into his spellcasting.

    In the last seconds before the Elves reached him, he muttered his only battle spell’s incantation, “Er’lactra cambia fuonoa kadon…”

    Suddenly a surge came through him like a tidal wave catching a ship and carrying it into the very heavens. Surrounded by power, he felt the flows fall into an exact geometric pattern.

    -

    Qar’Vup just managed to turn the blade aimed for his side with his shield as he parried another, taking a wound to his leg from another attacker. The faces surrounding him were filled with a malicious glee as they indulged their natural cruelty, dragging out the kill.

    A concussion rippled through the air behind him. Grinning faces became open-mouthed shock. Seizing the moment, Qar’Vup smashed through the Elves on his left. Spinning round, he had a moment of shock himself.

    Towering above all of the melee was a Great Fire Dragon.

    -

    The world spun. It’Chit seemed to rocket into the sky and suddenly was looking out over the tree tops. Confused, he looked down and staggered with a wave of vertigo. He was forty feet above the ground! It was then that he noticed his arms like tree trunks stretching out before him. Struck by a sense of childlike wonder, he flexed them marvelling at the sense of power.

    A movement below. It’Chit glanced down and panicked. The Witch Elves! A small scream escaped his lips, as he stamped down upon them repeatedly as he if he was squashing a small bug. His shrill cry came out as a deep guttural roar.

    As they were reduced to a small reddish paste on his clawed foot, the realisation of what had happened swept through his mind clearing all thought and fear.

    Eyes widening, he turned towards the Elves near the Scar-Veteran. A euphoric sense of power exploded within him. He was a terrifying monster! Raising his hands in what he was sure was a fearsome stance he charged towards them, unable to stop hysterical laughter from bubbling up within him.

    -

    Qar’Vup and the Dark Elf Shades both watched spellbound as the Dragon reduced the two Witch Elves to red smears while the Hag dived into cover. The beast turned and tottered towards them on it’s hind legs waving it’s arms overhead, like an infant Cold One learning to walk. Combined with odd burbling sounds, it would have been ridiculous, except there was nothing funny about 12 tons of Dragon bearing down on you.

    The dragon crashed into the Shades, stomping and slamming it’s arms down, obliterating the Elves in groups of two and three.

    Qar’Vup jumped to the side as a great gout of flame flashed out from it’s muzzle, obliterating a swathe of jungle behind him. “NOT THIS WAY, YOU IDIOT, GET THEM!!!,” he screamed, pointing towards the elves rallying nearby.

    The dragon drew its arms up near its snout, in a curiously vulnerable pose and a… well, as close to embarrassed as a Fire Dragon could look as it issued a short series of low-pitched whines and snarls.

    “RAARG! RA-RU-RUARGH-RA-“

    -

    “-and then I sneezed! I’m really sorry!”

    It’Chit realised his apologies was falling on deaf ears as the Scar-Veteran just kept screaming at him and pointing towards the rest of the Elves. Well, at least he knew how to breathe fire now.

    Turning, (Qar’Vup had to throw himself down to avoid being smashed by it’s huge tail) he sent a huge cone of flame into a group of Elves that had rallied and then bounded over (note to self: walking on all fours is better for moving fast).

    Within seconds there were none left standing and It’Chit realised that the battle was over.

    He saw the Sorceress standing on the other side of the clearing and smiled. Drawing himself up to his full forty-foot height, he stalked towards the Elf, growling menacingly, “I am you doom, pitiful mite. You are nothing before me. For I am an emissary of the Old Ones, come to exact-“

    -

    “-RURRRARG GRAUGH.”

    The Sorceress was unintimidated by the odd snarls or the Dragon advancing. The idiot creature had given her all the time she needed. Pulling deeply on the winds of magic, she reached out to sever the spell.

    Despite the loss of her Shades, she could still open the portal using the power of the ruined temple. Then she would have all the reinforcements she would ever need. She would have her whole army…

    -

    It’Chit’s world lurched. Suddenly, he seemed to be at the center of a whirlpool that pulled him down, down, down until, blinking, he stood looking up at the tall Hag. A cold terror froze him in place.

    Without even looking, the Hag gestured and the Scar-Veteran, running across he clearing to engage, crumpled to the floor.

    Her face was a mask of anger, her hands wove tendrils of power. His own magical ability exhausted, It’Chit could not even think of a thing to do as he watched the spell form.

    “I am here, little one.”

    A huge presence entered It’Chit’s mind. Golden hues fell over everything, as for the first time he became a Vassal. Instead of being flung into the heavens by the power of his spell, he felt he suddenly floated between the stars watching as entire universes were born and died. Somehow both a thousand miles away and right before him, he watched his hands weave a complicated counter-spell, snuffing out the power from the Dark Elf.

    While her shocked face still gaped as a pathetic Skink casually dismissed her best efforts, It’Chit watched as energy surged through his distant arm blossoming into a large, glowing spear. It’Chit watched the arm heft it once and then cast it forwards, tearing the Hag in two.

    “You have done well.”

    The golden hues disappeared as It’Chit flashed from the heavens back to his own body. Exhausted beyond all imagination, he fell to his knees amongst the carnage.

    A huge hand fell on his shoulder. The Scar-Veteran crouched before him, levelly meeting his gaze. “Blood of my blood, scale of my scale.” As he sounds faded, It’Chit stared up stunned. The ritual of brotherhood was absolute and binding, no one took this lightly.

    Overcome with emotion, many words came to It’Chit, but the only ones his traitorous mouth relayed were “Plarchgh” and then the earth rushed up towards him.

    -

    It’Chit stood by Qar’Vup as the apportioning of troops finished. As they moved out to their destination, he kept up with the towering Scar-Veteran through a combination of jogging and skipping. Qar’Vup noticed his trouble and stuck him into a rucksack he’d made just for this purpose. It’Chit didn’t mind. He had a brother now.
     
    Paradoxical Pacifism and Imrahil like this.
  3. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    REVIEWS:

    @Killer Angel

    "THE SAVAGE BEAST: Well, i cannot hide myself as this is one of my favorite pieces. I even believe i know the author, but who am i to shout it out?
    It’s brilliant, it conveys comedy and a heart-warming moment and depicts perfectly the feelings of this inept low-level skink priest that feels out of place and feels he’s not able to reach the expected standard.
    It’s kinda like when you’re at school and the captains of the 2 teams pick one at the time the players, and you are always left as last choice.
    Of course, until a certain point you already know what’s going to happen before reading it. The modest and weak skink will be paired with the strong and overconfident warrior, despite the general convinction the Dark Elves will attack and they will attack exactly the rear position where our protagonist stands, and finally something will happen. But when that something happens… for the Old Ones, this is EPIC (and fun at the same time). The whole battle is so unusual and memorable and epic (yeah, it’s epic twice, because when you think you have seen the best part with the Transformation of Kadon, then you have the wonderful depiction of what should be the experience of being used as arcane vassal from a Slann)
    … and that sets the path to the ending, when our snooty scar-vet becomes the active co-protagonist, and changes forever the life of the skink.
    WOW, whan an ending for this competition!
    Memorable phrases (yeah, sorry but i’ve got 2)
    I am here, little one”… OHOHOH, i know who’s coming! really exciting!
    Blood of my blood, scale of my scale”. Powerful line, so simple and yet so effective. Home is family, in the end."

    Glad you enjoyed it!

    @Imrahil

    "What I liked about this story was the development of the main character. From underdog position, this is also his view of himself, to a viable part of the army and worthy of being a vassal for the Slann. In the response of the Old Blood towards the Scar-Veteran there is a reveal of how behavior of belittling often works top down. Finally the skink found himself able to cast a spell and be of any significance to his Scar-Veteran. You could argue if the brother he finds is the same as a place to call home, but I will give it the benefit of the doubt."

    It was fun to review my own story. When I looked at it dispassionately and from a new viewpoint, I found TONS of things I didn't like about it.

    Ah well.

    :) Thanks for doing the reviews.

    Glad you liked it.

    Who was that masked Rat? Whoops, I mean Lizard?

    :)
     
    Aginor, Erta Wanderer and Imrahil like this.
  4. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    These were my two entries for the January 2021 Poetry Contest, the first one took second place :D the second one was just for laughs as it was a blatant rip-off from "Jingle Bells" :eek:

    POEM 1:

    Sparks to Fire, Fire to Embers

    The host gathers.

    With the uniting of brethren, their combined spirit merges and combines into something ever greater, ever larger.

    The sparks catch fire.

    Like a kindled flame, the isolated energy of the brothers builds from pools to sea as the fires of war ignite within them.

    The roaring flame.

    The army surges forwards, the sparks of life now a raging wildfire surging forwards as one to consume the foe.

    Flame envelops.

    The tidal sea of flaming passion engulfs the ranks of the enemy, their blaze enfolding the foe like the fire swallowing wood and branch.

    The fire burns.

    The army crashes into the enemy, surging and receding like the moon driven tide, and like the fire it both consumes and is consumed as foe and brother expire.

    The heat fades.

    The fiery rush begins to pale as brother watches brother cut down, watches life ended suddenly, senselessly until they are numb to the pain.

    The embers fade.

    As the clash ends, the last final motes of ferocity seem to fade as the quenching burst of grief spreads throughout the scene.

    And there is only ashes.

    Then it is done, then it has died, for feeling itself has died and those who remain wonder why they felt the passion, as they stand amidst the ashes of their dreams.

    POEM 2:

    Seventh Hell

    ‎Clashing with the foe,
    On a Cold-one, gonna slay,‎
    All the fiends be-low,‎
    Snarling all the way,‎
    Spells from clawed hand sling,
    Burning daemons bright,
    Oh, our weapons they do sing,
    Slaying with all our might,‎

    Oh, seventh hell, seventh hell,
    Who opened up the way?
    Oh, our hatred amplified,‎
    I hope we'll win the day,‎
    ‎‎
    A day or two ago‎,
    I fought some evil spied,‎
    Found a Chaos coven,‎
    Tried to take their lives,‎
    Missed some of their back ranks,
    Misfortune seems my lot,‎
    Rites chanted so we were sank,
    And Chaos gate they got,

    Oh, seventh hell, seventh hell,
    Don't accept our fate,‎
    Ir-re-sist-i-ble dispell,
    We are shutting down the gate.‎
     
    Imrahil and Paradoxical Pacifism like this.
  5. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    I wrote a short story for my wife for your anniversary (13 years! :) )

    -

    PROJECT ATHENA

    Lights shone through the sky, illuminating shafts that waved back and forth as if in welcome to the guests. The spotlights which had been hired for the occasion were also used in Las Vegas, although the northern Canadian lodge setting meant that it was not gaudy in the slightest.

    The mansion stood at the edge of both the Boreal Forest and a lake, the building itself a mixture of Jack Pine wood and locally quarried stone as a nod to the areas heritage. Snow hung from every bough and the lake’s surface glistened with diamond-like ice. The moon shone down on the road, which bore a parade of cars containing the Who’s Who of the world’s political scene.

    All of the guests exiting cars were wrapped up in expensive looking furs, faux-fur or artificial fleece depending on their nationality and the current public opinion sway.

    As a Bentley moved away from the front of the house, a sleek, black BMW glided to a halt. Those guests who were loitering around the front entrance were treated to the sight of a smooth, ivory leg emerging as the footman smoothly opened the door. Taking the footman’s hand gracefully, a slim, dark-haired beauty stepped out from the low-slung car. Adjusting the form-fitting dress, she tossed her carefully curled dark hair over her shoulder and sashayed towards the entrance. She attracted several pairs of male eyes in her black dress, with inset silver slashes down the skirt and bodice and a long slit which revealed an almost scandalous amount of leg. Her progress was also noted in a different fashion, through the eyes of watchful security guards positioned above and to the sides of the entrance.

    Reaching the stairs, the lady opened her matching clutch and extended an invitation to the well-dressed and manicured employee at the door. The man gave an ingratiating smile and, while scanning its code, asked for her passport and compared her to the photo inside.

    “Tight security,” she said, conversationally. The employee nodded. “Oui, your ‘ighness. Monsieur Resoin insisted on ze ‘ighest and tightest security considering ze guest list.” He led her over to another guard with a security wand. “I am very sorry, but we will ‘ave to scan you and your clutch.”

    “Pas de probleme, monsieur,” the lady answered smoothly, handing over the small bag. The inspecting guard poured the contents out onto a round mechanical device which promptly emitted several beeps and three indicator lights turned green. “It scans for explosives, drugs and poisons, Madame, quite ze cutting edge of technology,” simpered the reception employee, earning a well practiced smile.

    The guard proceeded to wand her then, evidently satisified waved her through. “Thank you, Madame.” The lady inclined her head and followed the other employee as he lead her to the main door.

    “I do ‘ope that Madame enjoys ‘er evening.”

    The lady’s lips twitched up as she glided past. She would enjoy herself, just not in the way that anyone was expecting.

    Handing her thermal wrap, matching her dress in black and silver, to the receptionist, she smoothly lifted a glass of champagne from a passing waiter and made her way into the grand hall.

    Remy Resoin was the owner of an international lumber company as well as a significant amount of forested land from which he derived his fortunes. As she walked through the ostentatious hallways, filled with curtains of gold lame and strategically placed pieces of priceless art, she reflected on the subject of the evening: Remy had invited his full address book of political persons of import to announce a new product that his company would be producing. And they had responded in force. Money evidently did add volume to a voice.

    The lady glided between sultans and dukes, presidents and prime ministers until she had crossed the floor and climbed a couple of stairs leading off into the house.

    Ahead, a security guard stood behind a rope stanchion. “I’m sorry Madame, but there is no access to this part of the house.”

    “Access? Who said I wanted access? I merely enjoy perusing a place once I arrive.” The lady continued her slow advance up the corridor towards the suited guard. She smiled disarmingly, a dimple appearing on one pristine cheek.

    The guard continued to wave her off. “No access in this direction on strict orders of Mister Resoin.” As she arrived at the stanchion, he put a hand on her shoulder and gestured in the opposite direction.

    The hand holding the clutch struck twice. A hard, central blow to the solar-plexus generating a standing wave through the rest of the body followed by a another to the groin. As the guard doubled up, the lady delivered an almost polite rap to the side of the proffered head. The unconscious guard slid to the ground.

    The lady’s demeanour changed instantly. Kneeling, she dragged the guard’s unconscious body into a nearby cupboard. Tapping her earpiece, she spoke softly, “Ulysses, I’m in and past the first layer of security.”

    The cultured and sardonic tones of her handler sounded in her ear. “Princess?! How in the world did you manage to get an ID for a princess?”

    Jess smiled, she loved pulling a fast one on her handler. “Strangely enough Uly, that part is true. I’m distantly related, just enough to avoid the tabloids.” Her handler’s voice bristled over the comms “You know how much I hate your version of my call sign, Athena, just get on with it.”

    The lower half of her dress detached and when wrapped around the rest of her body, created a full stealth body suit. Cleverly hidden zippers covered the silver patches and moved strategically placed ceramic plates into positions, effectively creating a bullet-proof vest. She gathered the ‘jewellery’ around her hands and connected each at the wrist, forming a very stylish set of knuckle dusters.

    Jess kneeled and, with a soft click, detached the heels from her shoes and twisted each of them. The bars telescopically enlarged into two short clubs with which she had extensively trained. “They never scan the shoes,” she remarked to herself as she tapped the formidable batons in her hands.

    Tying her hair back behind her, she heard the guard’s radio crackle. “Two-four, check in.”

    She swore under her breath. She had been hoping for a little bit more time before the breach in their security was identified.

    She twisted a button on the side of her watch and the state-of-the-art contact lenses provided her with a live display of the schematics of the mansion, along with small dots indicating thermal-imaging detected bodies from a satellite overhead. Making her way to the end of the corridor, she slowly opened the door.

    At the far side of the room, guarding the entrance to a small staircase, were two armed guards. She controlled her breathing and, hefting her weapons, sprinted into the room.

    The guards reacted instantly, turning towards her and hands diving into jackets for their weapons. Her hands flashed down. One baton sailed through the air to connect with one man’s forehead, the other barely missing as the other guard twisted back partially losing his balance while his colleague slumped to the floor.

    Within a heartbeat she closed with the guard still on his feet, who had regained his balance and had a semi-automatic pistol half drawn from a shoulder holster. Twisting the gun inwards and back, she disarmed him just as his right hand swung towards her in a wild haymaker. Instincts honed by hundreds of hours in training kicked in and she swayed backwards, catching him by the wrist as it sailed by. Turning her shoulder into him and shoving her shoulder into his armpit, the blow’s power was redirected as she pulled hard on the arm. The guard’s eyes widened as he found himself flying over her shoulder, all his breath leaving him as he slammed into the floor with his arm wrenched above him. Jess pivoted to complete the armlock and delivered a measured kick to the side of his head. His entire body went limp.

    Dropping the arm, she touched her ear. “Ulysses, I’m at the base of the staircase but timing is compromised. Use the satellite link and talk me through this.” Turning off the digital display from her contacts so she could concentrate, she knelt by the door.

    Ulysses’ voice came back through as she attached one of her earrings to the digital lock. “This staircase seems to lead to some kind of a mezzanine above the main hall. There’s something blocking scans so we can’t get an exact idea of what’s there.” The three diamonds on the earrings lit up one by one until, with a soft click, the staircase opened.

    Bounding up the stairs, a light frown crossed Jess’ forehead. “Going in blind, great. Remind me why we pay the IT guys again?”

    Ulysses voice took on the slighter higher pitch it always did when he was concerned, “Just be careful, Athena.”

    “Aren’t I always?” She responded sweetly.

    “Yes. Apart from jumping out of a plane in Prague saying ‘I’m sure I’ll catch up to the parachute, they just threw it out’ or disarming a dirty bomb in Moscow because ‘the tech idiots always take too long’ or-“

    Jess zoned out his voice. He always worried too much.

    Arriving at the top of the steps, she cautiously peered around the corner. A large laboratory was laid out before her, with a large figure seated at a computer terminal at the far end, dimly lit by monitors and flashing control boards. As she crept forwards, she passed what was evidently some kind of production line. First sets of distilleries, then vats of liquid and finally large tanks connected by countless pipes that spread like a spiderweb out across the ceiling and vanishing into the walls.

    She was almost to the table when her luck ran out. Evidently one of the guards had been discovered (or recovered) and a general alert put out, as a klaxon sounded seemingly right in her ear.

    The figure jumped up and span round. She tried to make to him in time, but it was too far and there was no place to take cover. His hand produced a small pistol-like object, which made a low thunk. Jess felt a pain in her thigh. Stumbling she instinctively grabbed at the wound and her hand closed around a dart.

    Blackness filled her and she was gone.

    o0o

    “... I want to know ‘oo she is and ‘ow she got so far into ze mansion!” Remy Resoin was furious. How had this girl managed to bypass his considerable security and get as far as she had? Mere moments more and she could have undone all his careful work and timing.

    “Yes sir, once she wakes we can extract the information.” Wilson, his head of security, stood sweating slightly as the blame for the incident fell primarily on him.

    “Yes, but do not notify ze police. I cannot ‘ave zem ‘ere right now. It is too close to ze time.”

    It had taken him years to perfect his formula and then months of work to find a time when he could have the majority of the world’s leaders in one place. Who would have guessed that the pine resin from the woods in this area could be refined into a narcotic so strong it completely bypassed any kind of conscious thought and inhibition, leaving any subject introduced to it immediately subject to complete deep-state hypnosis.

    He checked his watch. No matter. Even with this complication he was still on schedule. Checking the cameras, he saw that his Master of Ceremonies was summoning all guests to his auditorium in preparation for his announcement of a new product line. Ha! They would get first hand experience of his product.

    Chuckling to himself, he checked the direct gas line feed from this room to hundreds of dispersal units in the auditorium.

    A grunt from behind him disturbed his thoughts.

    He turned to find the security guard stationed next to the unconscious woman falling to the floor as the previously tied and unconscious woman rapidly closed with his head of security.

    Even though Wilson was a martial arts specialist, the woman made him seem like he was standing still. So close that they could have been dancing, the woman evaded three rapid punches from the guard, then turned his incoming knee strike into a hyperextended leg forcing the man into the splits. Grabbing his wrist on the way down, she spun one leg over his shoulder forcing his torso to the floor so she stood with one foot on his back and the other still holding his extended wrist. With a small flex, accompanied by a loud crack, she dislocated his shoulder.

    “Right,” the lady grunted, her voice dropping an octave in a clear sign of utmost danger. As the guard attempted to rise with his good arm, the lady slammed a knee into his chin, probably breaking it in three or more places. As Wilson’s body flopped to the floor, she stepped away. “Now you reprobates have REALLY pissed me off.”

    “Wha- ‘ow did you get free?” He stammered as she advanced on him.

    She twiddled carefully manicured fingers at him, “Re-fired porcelain. Stronger than steel and utterly undetectable to a metal scanner.” She admired the nails, “The ultimate fashion accessory.”

    “Stay back!” Remy warned, as he backed to the console and held his hand over a large red button, “any closer and I’ll initiate a fatal dosage of-“

    “Your new pine-fresh, mind control gas. Yes, yes. Very impressive.” She tilted her head. “You haven’t actually made yourself a RED button have you? How terribly unoriginal.”

    Remy was stunned. How could she know? Then he realized that she was much too close to one of the solution-concentrate valves. His heart skipped a beat when she put her hand on it.

    “NO! Don’t touch zat! Ze mixture is too concentrated! You’ll kill us both!

    Jess smiled as she attached the cloth from her erstwhile clutch to her face, the fabric moulding and firmly attaching through a series of nano-suction pads, “You really didn’t think this through, did you Remy?”

    With one spin of the valve, gas sprayed out and enveloped both of them.

    o0o

    The MC checked his watch. His boss was never this late. Maybe something was wrong? He could feel the crowd beginning to get restless. He glanced at the doors. Maybe he should check upstairs...

    The back door suddenly opened and Remy Resoin walked in with a dazzling beauty on his arm. Ah, he thought, relaxing, he got caught up with some lady-friend.

    Kissing the lady on the cheek, Remy settled her in a chair and walked to the stage, acknowledging greetings as he went, a large smile on his face. The MC took his cue leaned in to the microphone and announced: “Ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs, please welcome Monsieur Resoin!”

    Leaving the stage free for his boss, he headed to the side. His main job was financial advisor to the agricultural magnate and he knew that with the release of the toxin they would shortly be receiving major donations from each of the people present. A fortune given freely and which would make Resoin Industries the richest company in the world.

    Daydreaming slightly about yachts and bikini-clad young ladies, he didn’t realize that Remy had changed his speech until he was about halfway through.

    “- and so tonight is our first fundraiser for donations against animal cruelty, to be shared between each of your countries most effective charities on zis matter.”

    The MC was stunned. He pinched himself and looked up again. His boss was famous for allowing NO-ONE to interrupt his speeches and so he, along with the rest of the support staff, looked on helplessly as Remy continued.

    “- and Resoin Industries will be the first to donate 2.5 billion dollars to-,“ Gasps of shock and exclamations drowned out the rest of his sentence but clapping sprang up and raced through the crowd as the audience gave a standing ovation to the Billionaire as he handed a check over to a very confused looking charity spokesperson.

    No-one noticed the Master of Ceremonies collapse in a heap at the back of the stage.

    o0o

    Jess sat in the audience, admiring her handiwork, sipping on a glass of champagne. She licked her lips, this was actually quite good although obviously not a Chandon. She must ask for the vineyard.

    A low chuckle came through her earpiece. “You’re a criminal genius, you know that right?”

    She smiled into her drink. “Yes Ulysses, I believe I do.”

    “How long will the gas last?”

    Jess watched the disbelieving crowd, as Remy Resoin, known miser, started doing stage fundraising. She smiled as a South African dignitary raised his hand to give the first donation. Maybe he owned a nature reserve. “Well, he did say it was a concentrated dose. And they never did get round to testing the extent of the gases effects and the duration per cubic millilitre... So… Probably just long enough for him to donate the majority of his sizeable estate to charity, doing some good and leaving him pretty much penniless. Not to mention harmless” She toyed with the now ruined piece of cloth that had been part of the clutch. “At least we know that the gas mask works.”

    Ulysses chuckled again in her ear. “Genius. And more than a bit spiteful.”

    Jess tossed her hair back. A nicely tanned Colombian coffee plantation owner had just caught her eye and maybe she had some time on her hands now. “Well, they should know better than to shoot me then. He got off lightly all things considered. Now, I have a couple of things to attend to if there’s nothing else...?”

    The sigh that came through on the comm told her everything.

    Jess finished her drink and stood up to leave. With the lower part of her dress reattached and silver slashes uncovered, she again stood in her dazzling and utterly innocent looking evening dress. Although, she thought with a touch of irritability, I really did like that clutch…

    Turning her back on the chaos that she had unleashed, she spoke to Ulysses through the comm as she made her way back towards the main entrance. “Let me guess, an Indian nuclear research facility? Venezuelan dictator?”

    Ulysses coughed, “I’ll brief you when you’re back. Let’s just say that I hope you still remember how to ride a camel.”

    The beautiful spy walked down the front steps as the BMW smoothly came to a halt at the bottom. The same employee as at her arrival opened the door for her. “I ‘ope that Madame ‘as enjoyed ‘er evening?”

    Jess stopped and listened for a moment at the shouts of delight and surprise that could be heard even at this distance front the auditorium and smiled broadly at the man.

    “You know what? I think I have.”

    o0o
     
  6. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    My entry in the March Short Story Contest. It only got two votes :( even though I felt I put a lot more effort into the storyline than before... [sigh] ah well...

    The Emissary


    Ben trudged up the seemingly endless stairs of stone which led higher and higher into the mist covered mountains. Green spread out around him, both trees and shrubs all glistening after rain during the night.

    The sponsored trip to Peru was for the history class to actually experience some history themselves, as their project was currently the ancient Incans. In Ben’s opinion, this was more money wasted on pointless people and a pointless subject. At least he got movies on the flight over…

    He had no real interest in history. What was the point? It was over and wouldn’t help him in life. Of course, he didn’t really have an interest in any of these academic subjects, much to the chagrin of his parents who farmed out a small fortune each year to get him to the school. Ben had been perfectly happy going to his old London school, where there was some kind of normality and people weren’t stuck-up idiots. There was nothing wrong with his intelligence. He had an IQ of 145 and, when he chose to pay attention, could get straight A’s in any class he wished. Unfortunately, the list of things that he was interested in seemed to dwindle every year.

    The bus ride which had brought them close to the top of the mountain had left at 5:30am, with all of the half-comatose, upper-class students herded into the back. Ben was sure that he alone had bothered to look out the window as they drove up, watching panoramic views of the valley below. Nature was one thing that had always interested him and he hiked whenever he had the chance.

    Ben reached the top of the gray stone stairs and a reddish-skinned native, evidently the guide, was talking to the history teacher. He looked around at the spectacular view.

    They stood at the base of a mountaintop city. Far below, the valley stretched out, alternately obscured and revealed by swirling clouds and mist. Other peaks loomed in the background, dark fingers of distant stone which cradled Machu Picchu which was thousands of years old. Gray walls of stacked stone, spotted with moss and lichen, extended upwards in tiers leading higher and higher, up to a single point of the mountain. The overcast sky gave everything a dull cast, but it was still impressive. The levels of the city had been carved out of the mountainside and encircled it up to it’s crest. Ben smiled, maybe this wouldn’t be as bad as he had thought.

    One hour later, Ben cursed himself for his naivety as the tour guide took them through endlessly similar rooms: this one a home, this a meeting hall.... There were only so many sets of four walls with no ceiling that could be made interesting before everything blurred together into one.

    Finally, they reached the top of the city. The breathtaking view dropped away on all sides with only the mist-wreathed mountains standing watch over this platform in the sky, floating above everything. The platform itself, unfortunately, held only an anti-climax.

    A large piece of stone sat in the middle of the platform. The stone itself was immediately unremarkable, the same gray stone as they had been seeing throughout the climb.

    But something... something caught his interest and held it.

    Ben had long since zoned out the tour guide’s voice, but somehow as they reached this point the words seemed to gain clarity and weight.

    “... the Incans seem to have built on top of other ruins...”

    Ben walked around the stone. It was about four foot high and slightly wider.

    “... this is the Inti Watana, ‘Hitching post of the sun’ in the ancient Incan tongue...”

    The closer Ben looked, the more surfaces, complex planes and angles seemed to reveal themselves.

    “... it was built directly from the mountains rock... we are not certain what it’s purpose was...”

    Ben studied the Inti Watana, oblivious to his surrounds. His first impression was that of a throne of some kind, a seat. Studying it closely he tried to imagine it a sacrificial altar or sundial but the initial impression remained.

    The throne illusion was heightened by an upright piece of the stone, giving the impression of a back support. Forgetting any threats of punishment for touching anything at the historical site, Ben ran his fingers over the stone. It was so smooth he would have bet his life it was not carved. It seemed shaped, like the rock had run like water.

    Suddenly, Ben realised he was alone. The guide must have moved on with the rest of the class and the narrow, twisting corridors would not have revealed that one had not followed.

    The Inti Watana before him, the mountains beyond and the sky above, as if he stood in the heavens itself.

    Ben stared at it. He should leave, he thought; catch up with the rest...

    But he couldn’t.

    He realized he was going to sit on the rock. No-one was around and it suddenly had become a burning compulsion which he knew he would regret for the rest of his life if he didn’t.

    Before he could over-think it, he glanced around once more and jumped up.

    Smiling he looked around. Somehow the seat was quite comfortable. Even though he was looking at the same scenery, it was a slightly different vantage point and he felt quite relaxed.

    To his right, he noticed an incongruous indent in the stone with cracks issuing out from a central point, a crater in the rock as if a blow had impacted on the stone. Maybe this WAS carved, Ben thought to himself.

    As he leaned back into the upright part of the stone, he felt a strange pulling sensation. He tried sitting back up but his back was stuck to the stone. Panicking, he tried to push himself off with his arms but they were stuck fast to the rocky sides.

    “Help!”

    Looking down, he could see no reason why he should be sticking to the stone. Was he having a stroke? A seizure? What was happening?!?

    “HELP!!!”

    Then with a low, almost silent, implosion, Ben disappeared. The almost seismic sound didn’t even cause an echo as the top plaza was left empty.

    -

    “YAAAHHHH!!!!”

    The cry was torn from Ben’s lips as a concussive blow wracked his body, the calm vista before him flickering in an instant into colossal figures, teeth, scales, gold and claws. Terror caused all rational thought to flee, as he scrabbled pointlessly at the rock supporting him while remaining firmly stuck to the stone seat.

    He was surrounded by... monsters! Tall, lizard things the size of a man with scales coloured cobalt, crimson and jade. Easily 7 feet tall, three of them filled his view. Gold medallions, torques and armbands glittered at him in shapes which he almost seemed to recognize.

    His throat tightened and his scream died as he realised they were all staring at him in silence... For three, long heartbeats none of them moved.

    Suddenly, the three lizards turned to each other, gesticulating wildly and issuing a series of grunting snarls. The lizard closest to him roared and slammed down his fist on the side of the stone, the blow heavily denting the rock. Ben would have jumped if he could have moved.

    In a flash of insight, he realized they were in shock just as much as he was.

    With their combined attention now elsewhere, Ben noticed a shifting motion from behind them, as a NINE foot lizard shifted it’s shoulders, wider than two of the others combined, as it lazily yawned a crocodile-size maw.

    Still in the thrall of the fear, a small squeak emitted from his gaping mouth.

    Then he looked beyond... and the sight snapped him out of his shock.

    The sky was aflame. The clouds themselves seemed to burn as they roiled in the sky, bursts of flame constantly combining and separating. The same mountains surrounded the platform they stood on as he had seen before but these were taller, grander. Those buildings he could see were no longer ruins, but soaring structures with ornate carvings on their sides.

    Stretching as much as possible to see more, his natural curiosity finally overcoming his fear, he saw... it.

    It was a toad, but a toad of the same proportions as the lizard-people that stood before him. Bedecked with gold necklaces and trinkets, it sat on a stone platform with a high back that glided closer to him as he watched. Bizarrely, he felt no fear as the thing approached and the other creatures quieted. As it arrived more or less face to face with him (well, as face to face as they were going to get with Ben’s body stuck to the Inti Watana like iron filings to a magnet) he noted, in a detached fashion, that it’s seat was hovering above the floor with no support.

    There was something about it’s eyes... a depth... a gravity that spoke of deep wisdom and keen intelligence. The toad lifted it’s arm and it’s eyes glowed white.

    “Human.”

    The voice sounded in Ben’s mind. Too shocked to do anything other than stare, Ben remained silent and wondered what the hell was happening here.

    “This connection to the future will only last minutes. We have observed the rituals and followed the instructions of the Old Ones for the use of this artefact to summon a champion and this has brought us... you.”

    Something finally loosened Ben’s tongue. “Wha- what? What is happening? Who are you? Where am I?”, he stammered.

    The toad’s eyes blazed white. The voice returned, but louder, more insistent.

    “THERE IS NO TIME! Attend human, for only seconds remain. Chaos has finally accessed time and space itself through the polar gate. We thought the end times was destruction or war, but the four gods of the nether have bypassed all this. Their spell will wipe all knowledge from our minds, all awareness and turn us into their chattel. Even now it covers the lands and I can feel my brothers disappear.”

    The toad leaned forwards.

    “YOU ARE THE ONE CHOSEN BY THE OLD ONES! YOU WILL BE CHAMPION AND ENACT THEIR WILL UPON THE WORLD TO SAVE US FROM CALAMITY!”

    Ben swallowed, “... I don’t understand...”

    The toad sighed and closed it’s eyes, it’s voice sounding again but quieter now. “Neither do I, Human. Your arrival, instead of some mighty warrior or mage, has greatly upset the Old Bloods.” It gestured behind him, where the large lizard who had impacted the stone stood with it’s arms crossed, glaring at Ben.

    “When you wake, human, you will be the only one who knows. The only one with any idea that we live unknowingly enslaved to Chaos.” It paused. “You mind has not the capacity for all the knowledge necessary, but it can be circumvented with this amulet.” It held a golden circle in its hand. “We can only hope it is enough.”

    It extended it’s hand and the amulet floated across and into the pocket of Ben’s jacket.

    One of the large lizards, emitted a low snarl and pointed at the sky. Ben’s eyes widened as he realized the storm of fire above was rapidly dropping, drawing closer.

    The toad looked up once, then met Ben’s eyes again, its voice continuing in Ben’s mind, “It seems my time is over in more ways than one. Remember, human, you will be the only hope of salvation for us all. You alone will know what happened to all races and that Chaos rules from the shadows.” The sea of flame continued to drop behind it, gathering speed and Ben started to scrabble at his invisible bonds again. “I will return you.”

    Ben screamed again as the conflagration hurtled towards him. The toad extended his hand and bright light eclipsed everything...

    -

    “AAAAAAHHHHHH”

    Ben pitched sideways off of the Inti Watana, scrambling to find somewhere to hide from the fiery heavens crashing down on him. Landing in a large puddle, the cold water shocked him into the present and he stared down at his partially submerged hands. Like waking from a nightmare, reason started to seep through.

    He looked up into grey clouds. Across were misty pinnacles. Panting he looked all around and felt a surge of relief. A dream. A dream! I must have fallen asleep on the stone chair. Yes. Yes, I fell asleep as I was so tired and dreamt everything.

    A slightly hysterical chuckle escaped his throat. Wow, I need to cut back on the spicy foods, that was a bad one.

    A native guide appeared at the far corner, his face a mask of anger.

    “You’re not allowed here unsupervised. Come down now!”

    “Yes, coming!” Ben grabbed his backpack. It was cold now and he rubbed his hands together for warmth. He smiled. At least the dream spiced up the day. He walked forwards as the guide turned to lead him on, sticking his hands in his pockets for warmth.

    His blood froze as his right hand bumped against a cold surface. Something akin to an electric jolt ran up his arm and his vision bent. Instead of his guide, a red, horned creature stalked away from him.

    Knowledge flooded his brain....

    Bloodletter. Daemon of Khorne. Scaled skin acts as armour and natural affinity for winds of magic grants shielding aura. Deadly in close combat. Light magic to counter shield and engage from afar. Although Daemonic, it still susceptible to poison and...

    Ben’s fingers convulsed and the contact with the medallion was broken. His vision twisted.

    Looking up, the native guide ahead had returned to normal as he disappeared down the stairs.

    Ben was speechless. What the HELL was happening?!? His gaze fell again upon the Inti Watana, picking out the strange crater he had seen earlier. Almost as if some heavy blow had struck the side of it...

    The guide reappeared and Ben jumped.

    “No students without guides or teachers. Come now!”

    Ben stumbled forwards, his mind swimming as fear made him distance himself from the guide. Is this actually happening? Am I insane? He felt the amulet through the fabric of his coat. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!?

    As he reached the top of the steps, he took one last disbelieving look at the Inti Watana and then walked after the native guide.
     
  7. Imrahil
    OldBlood

    Imrahil Well-Known Member

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    As you would find in my reviews I did like this story very much, you got my vote.
    I even would like you to write a follow up, because this makes for a great long story.

    Grrr, Imrahil
     
    Lizards of Renown likes this.
  8. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    This was my entry for the May 2021 short story contest which came in a close second place.

    Very fun to write :)

    -

    A Fish Out of Water

    Blowing out a huge sigh, La’qui sat down in the corner of the spawning chambers.

    His day had been filled with the flurry of the latest spawning. The damp, chiselled rock around him had reverberated with the roars and chittering of newly spawned Saurus and Skink. The spawning pools, now silent and placid, had churned with new life as it fought to the surface. He and his brother priests had scurried around blessing the new arrivals and leading them to their quarters.

    La’qui sighed again, he was exhausted. It really took a lot out of you doing this for an entire day. While the other Priests had their own ways of relaxing and blowing off steam, he chose to laze in the spawning chambers themselves. He found the gloom, flickering torches and the stillness of the pools calmed him immensely.

    Looking around to ensure he was alone, he decided to indulge in his other method of relaxation. He reached under his cloak and brought out a crystal bowl that he had found. In the water within was a tiny, darting dab of colour. He smiled. He had found the little fish in a nearby stream. It’s bright scarlet colours had attracted him and he had run to find a suitable receptacle. He had smeared some of the mud from the stream on the bottom, put in a couple of plants to make the little fish feel at home and then had scooped him from the stream.

    Settling the bowl, he gazed inside, the little fish stilling itself and staring back at him. He smiled and slowly reached into the water. The little fish rose to meet his claws and seemed to enjoy having it’s back scratched. Surely the Old Ones would approve of his pet, being a follower of the Lore of Beasts as he was. He was just not sure that anyone else would. He sprinkled some mashed vegetable and fruit into the water and watched as the little scarlet fish darted to catch the pieces. He was still uncertain as to what it ate normally, but with enough trial and error he could-

    “PRIEST LA’QUI?”

    La’Qui jumped at the sudden loud voice, his elbow impacting against the edge of the crystal and spraying it’s contents across the stone.

    As the voice sounded again, La’qui’s eyes widened as saw his beloved fish flapping on the stone, it’s little mouth gasping. As he heard footsteps coming down the stone stairs, he scrambled over and frantically thought of some way to save his little pet. Knowing he had seconds, his distraught mind could think only of saving it and before he knew what he was doing his hands swept the fish into the spawning pool.

    As the fish was swallowed by the waters, he stared in horror as the tiny ripples in the spawning pool radiated outwards and then it was as if nothing had happened. The mirror-like surface just as pristine as it had been minutes before.

    Hearing his name called out again, he hurriedly stuffed the crystal bowl under his cloak and stood just as the high-priest came into view from down the long stairs.

    “Priest La’Qui. FINALLY. You are needed for the next ritual preparations. I need you to collect all the supplies, we need...”

    La’Qui hardly heard anything. As he was ushered away, he took one last look back to the pool that had claimed his little friend.

    Goodbye, he thought to himself, hoping that his actions had not brought about the demise of the little spark of life.

    -

    Confusion.

    The little fish’s mind could comprehend being in a river, with it’s flowing water and food sources abounding but also danger and alarm from bigger fish and other predators. The crystal bowl had been a mystery, with somehow... hard water... that confined him but the great one had brought him food and he had felt a sense of peace. The great one had protected him.

    The spawning pool was something else. No familiar plants, no food sources, no apparent predators but also no great one. But no hard water confining. The fish swam deeper.

    With no comprehension of distance or time, the fish swam on. The pool seeming to stretch out endlessly in all directions. The warm water at least was much like it’s home and so, emboldened by this at least, it continued down.

    A light.

    Seemingly appearing from nowhere, the endless waters ended with a vast glowing wall stretching out directly below. Flickering bolts of coruscating energy spiralled upwards like solar flares, but this meant nothing to the fish. Oblivious, the fish continued closer mesmerised by the glow.

    Suddenly the glow was all around. And just as suddenly a presence. A being appeared before the fish, somehow both the same size and towering over it; dwarfing it in both size and feeling. At once a part of the glowing substance and not. The fish could comprehend this not. The being swelled until it’s golden body covered eternity itself and shrank down before him. It was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The fish, with a bravery borne out of ignorance, flapped his fins once and stared. (Well, there was not much else to do since he had no eyelids.)

    A booming voice echoed out in the space where he swam, at once both loud and whispered in his mind.

    “Who are you, little one?”

    The fish ruffled it’s fins and it’s mouth flapped up and down, only making a soft “bop” as it did so.

    “Well, well! Such pride! Such ferocity! Who am I? I am Itzl, the Master of Beasts. And I would know, little one, what brings you here?”

    Bop. Bop-bop. Bop.

    “Truly?”

    Bop bop bop, bop-bop.

    “Hmmmmm.....” The tiny and titanic being grasped it’s chin in one clawed hand. “I have never granted such a request before... But then, no one has ever been bold enough to attempt the reverse crossing through the pools...”

    The fish sat deathly still, it’s tiny black eyes fixed on the apparitions face.

    A small small broke out on the god’s face.

    “Very well, my determined little friend. So it shall be. You shall be returned and your request granted.”

    BOP.

    The being smiled again at the fish, it’s fervour and passion were unmistakable.

    “Your boon is granted little one, but you are beholden to me. Listen to me well and what I require of you...”

    -

    La’Qui stood with the long line of Skink Priests in formal garb. The chamber where he had been sitting quietly now bustled with swift figures darting backwards and forwards to prepare for the arrival of the next spawning. Their Mage-Lord had predicted another today and the priests were ensuring that the new arrivals would be properly blessed.

    La’Qui scratched his head underneath the feathered headdress and adjusted the gold bangles on his arm. They always chafed at moments like these. He cast a quick glance over to the cloak in the far corner and silently kicked himself for losing his little friend. He’d have to make another trip to the river and find another fish he could-

    The sudden churning of the spawning pool waters yanked him out of his reverie. He shook his head and placed his whole attention on the matter on hand. His peace would have to wait.

    -

    The little fish found itself rising through the golden glow. As it drifted upwards, it noticed other sparks rising as well from around him. The sparks began to form into tiny lizards and as each one exploded into size and shape, he felt his own scales begin to writhe. Unable to comprehend what was happening to him, the fish’s body became a maelstrom of surging sinew, muscle and bone.

    And still he floated upwards.

    -

    La’Qui wiped his head.

    The last of the newly spawned Saurus had been blessed and lead up the broad ramp to the barracks of the temple city. His sacred duty done, his tiredness returned like an aching wound and his eyes were drawn irresistibly to the cloak in the corner and the small sliver of crystal that he could see.

    As the other Priests gathered their belongings, sacred symbols and cleaned up, he trotted over to the bundle. He really needed to-

    A strangled cry from behind him caused him to spin around. A Skink Priest pointed at the furthermost spawning pool which, unlike all of the others, continued to churn. It’s waters choppy like an ocean beset by tempest made all the more real by the glass-like surface of it’s neighbour.

    Something else was coming through.

    La’Qui scurried back just as a huge figure reared up out of the water. Metallic red scales shimmered in the light of the torches as the huge beast threw it’s head back and uttered an impossibly low guttural grunt.

    BOP!!!!! The almost seismic sound echoed through the Cham amber and for a minute nobody moved.

    A fin like a Salamander ran down it’s back, rippling in time with the muscles of it’s barrel chest. It’s arms, thick as a Kroxigor’s, also had fins which similarly waved in a non-existent breeze. But what had evidently horrified the Priest who had shrieked was it’s head. Plainly fish-like, with an O shaped mouth, it’s black glinting eyes glared at them all before grunting out another BOP. Suddenly, it’s gaze latched on to La’Qui. Faster than a striking snake it lunged out of the pool scattering terrorised Priests before it. Before La’Qui could even think it was upon him. Fear rooted him to the spot and he squeezed his eyes shut while muttering incoherent prayers to the Old Ones.

    Silence.

    He jerked back as his hand came into contact with something slimy. Opening his eyes, he found the fish-beast crouched before him. It was offering up it’s back for scratching. As he looked again at the glittering scales, the crimson colour, it suddenly came to him in a flash. HIS FISH! HIS FISH HAD COME BACK!

    Marvelling, he scratched the back of the monstrosity as it arched against his hand like a fledgling Terradon. How had he transformed? Was there a way to do this with something else? Bizarrely, he found himself wondering if he could still feel at peace with this... Fishigor? Yes, Fishigor, that’s right. He ran a claw down the sides of it’s back. How had the scales hardened so well? How could it breathe? How did-

    Suddenly, he realized just how quiet the chamber had become.

    Looking up he saw all of attending Skink Priests were staring at him, as the Fishigor squirmed under his scratching claws like an oversized Huargerdon. His thoughts faltered under their accusative gazes.

    “Um... So, I can explain...”
     
  9. Imrahil
    OldBlood

    Imrahil Well-Known Member

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    I liked this story very much, what you might have read in the review I did.
    A very emotional feel-good story.

    You had one of my votes
    Keep writing like this and you will win a competition soon

    Grrr, Imrahil
     
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  10. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    A fun and well written story.

    I like your style and your pieces usually come with a good quality; I often find myself giving them a vote.
     
  11. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    This was my second win on the short story contest! :)

    I felt I wrote outside my comfort zone on it so it was great to see a bunch of people liked it.

    I think the title may have misrepresented it though…

    A SKAVEN, DARK ELF AND CHAOS DWARF WALK INTO A JUNGLE...


    Kharrak dropped to the jungle floor, frothing from the mouth as the virulent poisons overwhelmed even his Chaos Dwarf’s hardy constitution. Gharluk swore under his breath and turned back towards his unseen pursuers, shield held high. Nothing.

    Even after his ship was boarded there had still been a fairly large amount of survivors. The lizards who had boarded ship had brought larger, flame-belching lizards but these had only killed about half of the crew before they escaped. None of the dwarves had spared a second thought for the slaves, all of whom perished in the flames or drowned as the ship went down. He felt a fresh wave of anger over his burns, Hashut was lord of the furnace and fire! How dare they turn this against him!

    When they had gotten ashore, they had thought to salvage something from the ship, but the lizards had harassed them immediately. The jungle favoured the creatures and the Chaos Dwarves had been forced inland to search for cover. None had been found and their attempted escape through the jungle had resulted in them being whittled down to two... well, one now. Gharluk snarled and wiped sweat out of his eyes. Still holding the shield high, he pushed his way through the foliage trying to find somewhere defensible.

    -

    Kathos leapt over a log and huddled behind it, his keen elven eyes searching for the damned lizards that had been tailing him.

    What a disaster this had been! Freak winds had driven the Black Ark he was stationed on onto the rocks, just after they had returned from a successful raid in Ulthuan. The last thing the look-out had seen was a small lizard atop a nearby cliff, glowing with power as he doubtless harnessed the elements against them. As far as he knew, he was the only survivor. His thought had been to somehow move north towards his homelands but unseen stalkers dogged his every move and he would have died many times over if not for his keen eyes spotting motion in the undergrowth and elven reflexes.

    No movement. He must have lost them for now. Keeping low, he spotted the sun through the canopy and set off north again.

    -

    Skirrik squirted the musk of fear. Again. That last dart had missed by a whiskersbreadth. He breathed heavily with his back to the large tree. He must have lost them by now. His raiding party had moved up the coast but the ambush had separated him from the main body of troops. He had no idea where he was or where his kin were.

    Not that he cared. He had already made an agreement to betray his fang-leader in exchange for swearing to Warlord Snik-Snak, who would then promote him inturn to fang-leader himself. He had had such a grand plan to plant damning evidence that his leader was hoarding warpstone without reporting to the Council of Thirteen, resulting in him being cast down into slavery. He would have been the perfect pet, chained to show all the others the extent of Skirrik’s masterful cunning.

    Panting from the running, he poked his shield slightly around the tree. He flinched as three darts struck the edge, green poison running down the shield. Skirrick threw himself to floor and started crawling on all fours through the waist high undergrowth.

    He needed somewhere to hide!

    -

    The small clearing lay deep in the undergrowth. The tall trees were alive with life. Plants bloomed up and down the trees, birds and lizards of all descriptions scurried up and down and leapt between branches.

    A vision of balance. Of nature.

    Viewed from above, three trails of disturbance made their way through the surrounding trees towards the clearing. Not that much could be seen through the canopy, but birds and small flying reptiles flew up from three distinct lines all rapidly approaching the clearing. Branches and smaller trees moved as they were disturbed from below.

    The clearing exploded into action.

    A stocky, bearded Dwarf grappled with two larger lizards on one side of the clearing, while a slender, lithe Elf exchanged flurried blows with several smaller creatures. A hunched Skaven burst from one side of the clearing, runningstraight through the combat and disappearing into the other side of the clearing, it’s pursuers running into the other combats already ongoing in the center.

    -

    Skirrik offered up prayers to the Horned Rat. He had escaped his pursuers only to run headlong into several smaller lizards but, thankfully, his god hadn't abandoned him and they had all been aiming blowpipes at something else in the clearing he had run from. Dispatching them from behind, the true Skaven way, had been easy and his sword dripped with lizard blood as the last of them twitched in death throes before him.

    Turning, Skirrik saw two of the lizard creatures with their backs towards him. Seeing that he was truly blessed, he scurried forwards for the proffered backs. He could strike them before they came for him again! As he leaped forwards with his poisoned blades, he remembered the old Skaven adage: If at first you don’t succeed, wait until their back is turned...

    -

    Gharluk swore, he was being flanked by the smaller lizards! He needed to make some space in the combat! Shoving the large lizard in front of him sideways into his fellow with his shield, Gharluk rushed as fast as his stunted legs would carry him into the mustered lizards.

    In the whirlwind of combat, he didn’t notice that they were not attacking him but the Elf beyond.

    -

    Kathos cursed the gods. Three of these small lizards he could deal with, but another four were charging towards him. His mind raced to come up with some tactic as he blocked the blows from the three before him, but before he could do anything a Dwarf crashed into the approaching lizards from the side.

    Focusing again on the three before him, Kathos plunged his blade into the throat of one lizards while the other’s attention was drawn away by the new arrivals. Down to two, they lasted only seconds faced by the Corsair’s superior swordsmanship and twin blades.

    Spinning to confront any new threats, Kathos saw a large lizard with his back to him. Taking advantage of the element of surprise, he darted forwards and plunged his blades deep into the back of the lizard.

    The creature roared in pain and slumped forwards to the ground, revealing a Skaven standing over the body of another lizard. Kathos’ surprise stopped him for a moment. Hold on, a Dwarf? Skaven? What was going on here? In Kathos’ peripheral vision, he spotted one of the smaller lizards darting forwards. Dragging his blades from the body, he realized his moment of hesitation had been a fatal error and his back muscles tightened as they awaited the blow landing.

    It never landed. Kathos turned to see the Dwarf crushing the life out of the little lizard.

    -

    The clearing was quiet again, but now without the rushing life of small creatures. Indeed, the clearing was deathly silent, first from the bodies lying dead and broken around the clearing and second from the three figures warily eyeing each other.

    -

    Skirrik spoke up first. Knowing he was the weakest of three, he defaulted to nervous grovelling. “Good-good, many thanks for slay-slay the hairless ones.” Yes-yes, make them think you offer no threat-threat. Then wait for the backs to turn. Strike-strike, quick-quick.

    Kathos, his eyes slightly narrowed, responded. “Yes, it seems that we find ourselves as allies.” The dwarf will have to go, there’s no way to subjugate him. The rat however... The rat will make a fine slave.

    Gharluk spoke up. “Yes, perhaps we can assist each other to escape this mess. Eternal Hashut, why have you saddled me with two weaklings? I’ll need to break the elf and rat will fall into line.

    The elf spoke again, “Let us leave this place before more of their ilk arrive. Lead the way, Skaven. I will cover the rear.” The dwarf suspects me, he must be dealt with immediately.

    Gharluk’s eyes were narrowed now as well. “Your elven senses will do best in further forward.” The rat is of no consequence, but the Elf... The Elf must die...

    Skirrik squirmed as sweat formed on his forehead. In his best grovelly voice, “Sorry-sorry, nose hurt during the fight. Cannot smell-smell. Best to have Elf-thing at front.” Wait-wait. Their backs... Their backs must be turned...

    “It’s decided then.” Dwarven eyes narrowed even further.

    “Yes, follow me.” Elven eyes narrowed more.

    “Yes-yes, I follow-follow.” A bead of sweat ran down the Skaven nose.

    Kathos checked the sun and strode towards the edge of the clearing. I’ll double-back in the undergrowth, once the Dwarf is gone the rat will be mine.

    Gharluk followed as fast as his legs would carry him. As he passed the rat, he grabbed it by the scruff of it’s neck and threw him towards the Elf. Preternaturally alert, the Elf spun as it drew both it’s blades and slashedbackwards, narrowly missing the squealing rat as it recoiled from the blades.

    A dwarven axe flashed towards his side and he barely parried the blow as he span towards the new threat. Swords and axe clashed, as the two exchanged blows. The Corsair’s blows were faster and after the element of surprise was gone he had the measure of his opponent and soon wounds dripped blood from the Dwarf’s arm and right leg.

    -

    Skirrik raised himself up from the ground as the dwarf and elf clashed in the center. He was no fool, whichever one of these prevailed would be too much for him to handle and he would end up dead or enslaved.

    Drawing his blade, he crept closer. He would need a moment where both of them somehow had their backs turned. He needed an idea... Glancing down at his shield, it came to him. Perfect.

    -

    Kathos closed in, a cruel smile on his face. He could see the dwarf’s expression now was haggard and he was close to tiring him out. He had never tortured one of Hashut’s chosen. His smile widened, he would actually enjoy this.

    Pain exploded from his shoulder as he was knocked forwards by a weight hitting his back. He tried to reach round with his right hand, but it was no longer responding and hung loosely at his side. He tried to shake off the Skavenclutching his back but to no avail. He dropped his sword and with his left hand grasped the Skaven’s leg and threw him from his back.

    Now he could deal with-

    -

    The elf’s expression was almost comical as Gharluk swung his axe down. As he was splattered with brain matter, he felt a moment of loss that he wouldn’t be able to work this one slowly to the bone in one of his mines and shatter his very will to live.

    Gharluk was not surprised that the Skaven had chosen this moment to strike. Sneaky, backstabbing little creatures. Almost as bad as a Hobgoblin.

    Pulling his axe free from the corpse, he spotted the rat getting to it’s feet. He was no fool. He knew that this thing would turn on him just as quickly when his back was turned.

    He limped forwards.

    -

    Skirrik staggered to his feet, his ankle twisted and pained. His original plan to strike one and then attack the other while they were still fighting was ruined now and escape was no option.

    He put on his most ingratiating expression. “You see-see, dwarf-thing. I help in fight-fight. I am useful, yes-yes?”

    The dwarf came closer. Skirrik squirted the musk of fear. Again.

    -

    Gharluk saw the Skaven had twisted it’s foot. A cruel smile came onto his face. Good. No running. He would have to somehow hide and tend his wounds before the lizards came back, but first... His smile broadened. First to have some pleasure.

    As he came closer, the Skaven bared it’s teeth and brandished it’s sword, but several heavy blows smashed the weapon from it’s grip.

    Gharluk dropped his own axe to the floor and gripped the rat by its neck. The Skaven’s eyes bulged as its oxygen was cut off and Gharluk leaned forwards as he throttled the mangy creature. It’s flailing arms cut at his back and shoulders causing a burning pain which he ignored as he concentrated on the joyful feeling of power.

    Slowly the scrabbling became less and less, until the rat’s eyes rolled up in its head and the arms dropped limply to it’s sides. Gharluk chuckled to himself.Even after all these years it still gave him savage pleasure to extinguish the life from one of the lesser races.

    He dropped the body to the floor and gathered his axe. He needed to leave. He was already feeling the effects of the sun beating down on him. He turned towards the edge of the jungle. The burning pain from the rat’s blows grew rapidly, spreading down his arm and over his shoulders. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted some things sticking out of his shoulder and yanked them free.

    Darts from the lizards.

    His mind raced, had he not felt the impact due to his other injuries? As theburning feeling spread further, his legs wobbled and he fell to his knees and had to steady himself on the ground with his hands. His gaze fell upon the Skaven’s hands, which clutched several more darts.

    He coughed, feeling foam gathering at the corners of his mouth as the burning sensation continued to spread, now like hot magma being poured over him.

    As his vision faded, the irony of the situation was not lost on him.

    -

    Itchi’qa watched as the last of the three figures toppled over.

    He looked over at Xctahi. The other Chameleon Skink shrugged and turned to slowly walk back into the jungle. Itchi’qa shook his head. Who knew what the lesser races thought. Maybe this had some kind of logic for them? He turned also and followed his spawn-brother into the jungle, leaving the scene of carnage behind.
     
  12. Imrahil
    OldBlood

    Imrahil Well-Known Member

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    A well written piece. Nice characterization.

    Congrats on the win :)

    Grrr, Imrahil
     
  13. Sudsinabucket
    Skink Chief

    Sudsinabucket Well-Known Member

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    Reminder to myself to read this! Congrats!
     
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  14. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Thanks matey! :D
     

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