Page 44 of 44 FirstFirst ... 193435363738394041424344
Results 1,291 to 1,320 of 1320
  1. - Top - End - #1291
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    When is the deadline happening this week? I have written enough, but I would like to try and finish the story I am doing, do I have time to do that?

  2. - Top - End - #1292
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Oops, mustn't forget.

    912 for Hero's War
    Spoiler
    Show
    They trudged through the charred wasteland, long after the magical event had burnt itself out. The pair of them and a light guard of bowgun infantry gazed out at the blackened melted landscape. It looked worse than the aftermath of a large zombie attack, an impressive if horrifying feat.
    "Well, it could be worse, you only lost a hundred of the Minmay Guard alchemists and all but one of the portable spell cannons. "
    Erin glared at Denno. "That's three quarters of the spell cannons in total. Two thirds of the alchemists are dead and almost all the scouts and trackers too, whoever's left is too injured to fight. Our army consists of infantry and knight cavalry and that's it. Oh and we're stripped down to only one line of mines. If we're attacked again, we'll either take huge losses or lose the fort entirely!"
    Denno had the temerity to shrug. "Still, if you look at the raw numbers, you achieved a pretty ridiculous kill ratio. Four hundred dead holding off... what? A hundred thousand zombies?"
    "Apart from the alchemists, those three hundred were the best trained scouts. You can't just give a person a gun and tell them to go off and take a look. "
    "The elkas can be scouts for you. They only lost one person. "
    Erin sighed, "the elkas don't have the population to lose fighters. There are only thirty capable fighters in their village, losing even one hurts. Minmay's ambassador to the clan, Ka I think? He's tried but if they continue to take losses, the elka clan will just pack up and fly away. Doesn't help that Minmay is becoming friendlier to demihumans. They'll be a help but if I'll need to ask them to send full flights to be safe and doing that "

    Spang!
    The sound echoed across the factory floor and caused the overseer to hit the big red emergency stop button. With a series of clangs, surprised yells and curses, the rollers and prototype stampers ground to a halt.
    "Okay, what broke now?"
    Bashal shouted across the workfloor, sending his team scrambling over the machines to check their assigned parts.
    "Sir, the ball stamp is broken, it looks like the edge was chipped off. I told you it was too thin already. "
    Bashal clicked his tongue in annoyance. The metalsmith was an old style blacksmith from before the new standardized production was introduced. While the old man had his attitude problems, he kept it down and had an eye for finding flaws in metal.
    "It's not going to last, sir," the blacksmith complained, "not even tool steel is strong enough to stamp out such a tiny ball. Please give up on steel points, trying to shape steel with steel is not going to work. Aren't the iron ballpoints good enough?"
    "The ball deforms in the nib too quickly. You can barely write a few thousand words without the ink dribbling out," Bashal grumbled.
    It was really frustrating to see. They had come a long way since the old days of blacksmiths hammering out steel impurities with a hammer. A long way in a very short time. Steam hammers were still in use at the forges of course but here in the manufactories was where progress was being made.
    But for all their technology and ingenuity, all of the ironworkers put together still could not create a ballpoint pen like the example Cato had brought from Earth. Never mind the plastic shell, that could be replaced with a nice brass cylinder. It was the nib and the ball that was giving them the trouble. How their factories managed to make something that tiny and that perfect a sphere was a marvel.
    Forget grandiose feats of engineering like that Muller was chasing with his suspension bridge. That little pen sitting in a glass case in the university was the true marvel of human engineering. Even the spring, the grip, the little overhanging fastener, everything about the pen spoke of experience in designing pens. The kind of experience gained by building and using countless pens and making a better pen.




    What if Morey was dropped into a different setting?

    Non-Standard Chants

    "So... why is it that we have to recite a chant to cast magic anyway?" Morey asked.
    Etani shrugged, "that's the way its always been. Of course, there have been people who tried to cast with shorter chants, but shorter chants require more power. So it's really all skill. "
    "No, I mean, this whole thing doesn't make sense. Why would saying these words with magical power create an effect? Why words? Why not... music? A song?" Morey looked around the practice range where the knights were doing their daily magical drills.
    He blinked as two women fired their balls of fire at the target. "And those two are using different words! Their whole chant is different!"
    "Ah, that. Magical chants are basically personalized. You'll have to remember your own lines for each of your spells. You can change your words if you want but that's like learning the spell all over again. "
    Morey blinked. So the words didn't even matter?
    With slight hesitation, he gathered magic into his words as he stepped up onto the firing line. "One two three four five!"
    A weak fireball shot out. Not really any worse than his first attempt.



    722 words for... it was supposed to be a Madoka fanfic but eh... this could be a start to just about anything really.

    Spoiler
    Show
    "Come on, just one time?" Anko tugged on her sleeve.
    "You know that Mama will get angry," Riko replied calmly.
    Anko whined and wheedled but it was no use, she couldn't get Riko to buy her a sweet potato. It never was. Riko had never given in to her younger sister's manipulations that worked so well on their parents but she kept trying anyway.
    Walking Anko back from her elementary school was just another task in another day. When they got home, her mother would greet her and begin to cook dinner. Just like every other day in her memory. She supposed that considering the chore on the same level as sweeping the floor or mowing the lawn was in some way unusual, but that was just how it was.

    Another school day, more homework to be handed in, more learning to be done. At some level, Riko was learning all that she was supposed to, she had never failed a test, but periodically, she had always felt that this was an inefficient way to do things. She could learn just as well at home than in the glass walls of the school but the law was the law.
    Perhaps the law ought to be based on what all children had to know by a certain age instead of going to school? Riko pondered the problem through lunch, sitting alone at her desk.
    Today was different though. Her quiet musings were interrupted by a bright-eyed girl who approached her before Riko had even managed to touch her rice.
    "Namie, w-will you join us for lunch?" the girl stammered a little, glancing back at her friends for support.
    Riko considered it for a while. "Why do you ask?" she questioned the girl finally, no one had ever asked her.
    "Uh..." she looked a little confused and agitated, "I was just thinking if you would like that. "
    Well, she could think of no downside. 'Why not?' was just as good a question as 'Why?'. Where one ate lunch meant nothing.
    Riko nodded in agreement and re-packed her lunch to move over.
    The three other girls chattered around her after they exchanged greetings. Riko contributed whenever anyone asked a question and asked a few when one of them said something she did not understand. It did not escape her attention that the girl who asked her to eat lunch together kept glancing at her.
    It was not until after school that Riko realized that she still did not know any of their names. Oh well, she did learn a bit about pop idol culture from their talk.

    "We're home!" Anko shouted and ran into the house.
    Riko echoed the ritual greeting and bent down to arrange her sister's shoes. Her mother always did that for her sister, it might make finding shoes a bit easier so Riko thought it might be worth the time.
    The sweet smell of sweet potatoes made Anko squeal in joy and attracted Riko into the kitchen. As her mother handed out the hot potatoes, Riko tore out two paper towels to hold them with, handing one to Anko as her sister juggled the potato in her eagerness to tear into the treat.
    At least it was sweet, Riko would give it that much, she knew her sister liked sweet things. Alot.
    Her mother gestured to her as her sister ran out into the hall to eat, already nibbling cautiously at the steaming potato. Riko merely stopped and looked at her mother questioningly, taking a measured bite.
    "How do you find it?" her mother asked, nodding at the potato.
    Riko shrugged, "it's sweet. "
    Her mother sighed and pulled up a chair next to the small table in the kitchen with a worried look. Riko took the opposite one, this looked like it would take some time.
    "I'm worried," her mother began and Riko nodded, she could see that, "about you, I mean. "
    Her mother looked at her, straight in the eyes, "You were never like your sister. Very quiet and you only cried rarely when you were younger," her mother seemed to loosen up a little as she talked, "you have seen her room, I'm sure. Even at her age, Anko is already interested in everything. Idols, makeup, even some math. "

  3. - Top - End - #1293
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    I don't think I will get more words down before the deadline, so I will post the 1737 words i have. Enjoy.

    Spoiler: At the Door, part one
    Show
    It was all white.
    The entire room, if it even was a room, was pale like cream in a bowl. All around me there was nothing but untarnished whiteness.
    That is, except the door.
    It was a portal big enough for five men to walk through it side by side. It was a duble door, two smooth, black slaps of heavy wood, silently contrasting the pale room which surrounded them.
    At first, I was simply suprised to be here. In this perfectly pale place, in front of a midnight portal to…
    “Where does it lead?” I asked in a murmur.
    “I have absolutely no idea.” An energetic voice answered from behind me.
    I jumped, shocked to be in the company of another, when I had thought myself alone. There was a laugh like a silver bell from behind me, and I turned to see whose company I found myself in.
    She sat in an arm chair I hadn’t noticed before, reclining with her feet on another chair. She was small, roundfaced and cheerful. Red frizzy hair framed a devious smile. Blue eyes shone with mischief.
    “I’m sorry.” I said honestly. “I didn’t see you there.”
    “That’s okay.” She chortled. “That door gets to me too.”
    I nodded, smiling sheepishly and stood there trying to think of what to say next.
    “Wanna sit?” She sat up straighter in her armchair, pulling her legs off the opposing chair.
    “Thank you.” I mumbled, sitting down across from her. I glanced at the door, then back to my companion. “Why are you here?”
    “Because the concert I wanted to go to was sold out and I didn’t want to stay home.” She said, with a touch of mockery in her voice.
    “That isn’t really a reason to be here.” I pointed out. I figured, that if she was going to be difficult, I could play that game too. “That’s just a reason not to be somewhere else.”
    “I dunno.” She said, with a thoughtful frown. “Why are you here?”
    I opened my mouth, but before I could speak, it became clear to me that I did not know the answer to her question.
    “I wanted to go to that concert too.” I said, slightly crestfallen.
    “See?” she chuckled. “Not such an easy question to answer.”
    “I admit,” I said smiling. “That I had not thought that through.”
    “No one ever does.” She shrugged, then tilted her head and looked at me. “You look like someone who thinks a lot though.”
    “I do?” I couldn’t help but let out a laugh at her claim. “What makes you say that?”
    “I dunno.” She admitted. “You just have a thoughtful face.”
    I took that in, apreciating her honesty, and wondering about my own thoughtfulness. A thought came unbidden to me then, about a time when thinking too much had led me astray, and once the one thought had appeared, a small procession of like memories followed.
    I saw them clear as day, the memories.
    Myself standing outside a door, hesitating, hand raised to knock, but the will to do it fading. A telephone resting in my hand, number already typed, but my finger hovering motionless above the call button. And then I saw from my own perspective, the back of a girl, small and thin, long brown hair falling to the small of her back, she walked towards a door, but I dared not follow or even speak her name.
    “Ouch,” Said the redhaired girl. “That’s a tough one.”
    “Sorry, what?” I asked confused.
    “You liked her, didn’t you?” She didn’t wait for me to answer before she moved to her own conclusion. “But you never spoke up, you never took the chance.”
    “You…” I was completely flabbergasted. “You saw all that?”
    “Sure.” She gestured to the pale room at large. “As clear as you did.”
    Not knowing how to answer that, I returned to my thoughs of the past. This time I saw it as it happened. The slight brownhaired girl came to my mind. At the exact same time, the whiteness of the room was replaced with a vision of her walking away from me. As clear as on a tv screen, I saw my memory played back to me.
    I blinked and shook my head. When I looked up again the immage was gone.
    “It’s allright if you don’t wanna talk about it.” Said the redhaired girl.
    She had folded her legs into a lotus position, somehow managing to stay in the armchair and do yoga at the same time.
    “What is going on?” I asked her tentatively.
    “I can’t say that I know.” She smiled a disarming smile. “But if I figure it out, you’ll be the first to know.”
    “Thank you.” I said, more confused than thankful.
    She smiled a brillitant smile and tilted her head, looking at me with inquiry in her eyes.
    “Sometimes it helps to talk it over.” She said. There was a comforting note to her words.
    “Talk what over?” I asked, trying hard to follow her train of thought.
    “Whatever bothers you.” She smiled a cheerful smile.
    “You sound like my therapist.” I noted dryly.
    “I’m just trying to help.” She shrugged, and looked around the room. Her eyes found the black door and rested on it for a moment.
    “What is it with that door?” I asked, suspicion rising to my mind.
    “Well..” She hesitated slightly, her face suddenly serious. “Do you see any other exit?”
    I realised that she was right. I had no idea how I had come to be here, or why. I didn’t think I was in a hurry to leave, but then I didn’t rightly know. It was a sobering thought, that I was lost in this room, and had no idea about the where, how, what and when of it.
    It was disconcerting, but for some reason I didn’t feel all that worried. It seemed to me that this wasn’t really dangerous, inconvinient yes, but not really anything to panic about.
    “Where does the door lead?” I asked, my instinct to seek all the answer kicking into gear.
    “I dunno.” She admitted with a vague smile. “I never went through.”
    “And there is no other way out?”
    “Not that I know.”
    I chewed that over.
    “How long have you been here?”
    She shrugged.
    “Hard to say.
    “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”
    “I’m honestly not sure.” She tapped her nose thoughfully. “But I since noone has come looking for me, I’m probably not late for anything.”
    “I suppose.” I didn’t sound convincing, not even to my own ears.
    She smiled and leaned back in her armchair. She did look pretty comfortable. In an odd way the white room was rather appealing. There was a sense of relief in here, no stress or haste, just time and peace.
    My mind veered of the path it was following and turned to go against the flow. Instead of contemplating the relative peace of my current predicament, it threw itself into a procession of memories of the opposite.
    Around me, the room reacted.
    The pale white surrounding me shifted and blurred, and suddenly I was looking at a procession of schenes featuring myself hurrying or struggling.
    One wall showed me, running at full sped, only to turn a corner and see a bus leave without me. Another showed me myself surrounded by stacks of paper, reading furiously and making notes as I went, a cup of cold coffee forgotten in front of me. The third wall showed me reading again, but this time it was only a single sheet of paper, still the message far outweighed all those papers on the last wall, there was surrender in my eyes and very little will in my posture.
    “Ouch.” Said the girl. “That does not look fun at all.”
    “I…” For a moment I had no words, then I gathered myself and spoke. “No, It wasn’t fun. None of that was fun.”
    “That’s a bummer.” She shook her head slightly.
    “A bummer?” I asked.
    “Mega bummer.” She pressed her lips together. “You’re in a safe place, no pressure, no expectations. Why are all your memories so sad?”
    I did not have an answer for that. My mind bulled forward, digging into the question. I might be a slow thinker, but I have a lot of practice with thinking things over.
    The thoughts she had seen were indeed sad ones, or at least not happy. Thoughts of hesitating and regret. Was that all I had? I knew that I tended to dwell on situations like that, to rue my own indecision and to focus on my shortcommings.
    As I pondered that, the walls around me grew even more depressing, with scenes of myself being dragged down by my own mind. It was unpleasant to face the amount of pain I had given to myself, in this way.
    So I decided not to.
    Drawing in a deep breath, I recalled another memory. The walls changed, flushing with the red and orange colors of a sunset. I felt relief as the air of depression and self loathing lifted from me, scoured away by the memory of one perfect moment.
    The redhaired girl looked at the surrounding display and her face broke open in a surprised grin.
    “Wow!” She laughed. “I woudn’t have guessed you had that in you.”
    “I have a few of those moments.” I smiled. “I like to believe they make it all worth it.”
    She looked at me, head tilted, mouth quirked up in a smile, eyes shining.
    “Good for you.” She said with enthusiasm.
    I nodded and turned to watch the sunset.
    How long we just sat there enjoying the sight of a happy memory, I do not know. Time seemed to move oddly in the room with the black door. There was no rush, no feeling of seconds slipping by. It was as if the world stood still while we looked at the fading light of a day long ago.
    It was perhaps inevitable, that while we took in this beauty, I would start thinking again. I had been thinking about the room, and myself, trying to figure out why I was here and where this was. The thing I had not considered, was the nature of my companion. She was another piece of this puzzle.
    “How long have you been here?” I asked casually, still looking at the setting sun.

  4. - Top - End - #1294
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Glass Mouse's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    The Icy North
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Sadly, I fail this week due to general business. I have managed to neither write a word nor draw a line. I'm not sure I'll get anything down this week either, but next week I'll be back in the fight!
    Spoiler
    Show


    Challenge badge
    , courtesy of HeadlessMermaid.

    Avatar courtesy of the talented Neoriceisgood. Features Pumpkin from my webcomic.


  5. - Top - End - #1295
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Sorry for the late update, I'm kind of out of it this week.

    Status for December 4 to December 10!


    Glass Mouse didn't upload/send me anything.

    Lycunadari passes with four drawings, one city photo and a handful of crocheted flowers .

    jseah passes with 912 words of A Hero's War and 722 words of Madoka fanfic.

    Xiander passes with 1737 words of At the Door.

    3WhiteFox3 passes with six poems. Welcome!


    Thus Glass Mouse FAILS this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah, Xiander and 3WhiteFox3 PASS this round!


    Current standing:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Glass Mouse
    Current run: 0
    Longest run: 290 weeks
    Themes: -

    Lycunadari
    Current run: 257 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 96 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 75 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    3WhiteFox3
    Current run: 1 week
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -


    LeSwordfish
    Longest run: 44 weeks

    Icewalker
    Longest run: 31 weeks

    Lovely Vulcan
    Longest run: 3

    Last edited by Lycunadari; 2017-12-26 at 11:45 AM. Reason: noticed a mistake in the week count
    You can call me Juniper.
    Please use gender-neutral pronouns (they/their or ze/hir) when referring to me.

    Stories (Not just German anymore!) DeviantArt

    Lycunadari

  6. - Top - End - #1296
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Some pictures from a christmas market + ren fair. I actually traded the pictures I took of the ren fair band against a CD from them.
    You can call me Juniper.
    Please use gender-neutral pronouns (they/their or ze/hir) when referring to me.

    Stories (Not just German anymore!) DeviantArt

    Lycunadari

  7. - Top - End - #1297
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Glass Mouse's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    The Icy North
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Nothing noteworthy from me this week either. I miss writing. But I'm also going away on vacation this week and so will have plenty of time! Woo-hoo!
    Spoiler
    Show


    Challenge badge
    , courtesy of HeadlessMermaid.

    Avatar courtesy of the talented Neoriceisgood. Features Pumpkin from my webcomic.


  8. - Top - End - #1298
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    This week i did 1129 words of At the door, and 478 words on a new piece callen Masks.

    Spoiler: At the door, part two
    Show
    For a while she didn’t answer, still just taking in the splendor of the sun, which shone off the walls. Then slowly she turned her head to look at me.
    “I dunno.” She scrunched up her face in a thoughtful grimace. “A fair bit of time, I think.”
    “Haven’t you got anywhere to be?” I asked, genuinely curious.
    Again she took time to think, and as she did the room changed. The golden light of the setting sun was replaced, slowly, with the pale, sharp glow of a naked lightbulb. The walls started showing a different room, a cold joyless place. There was a worn out bed and a rickety chair, the place seemed unpleasant and unwelcoming.
    Hunched on the bed, curled into a ball, lay a small redhaired figure, quietly sobbing. It was a memory, I realised, but not my own. There was none of the joy of my sunset here, instead the pictures evoked a sense of uncompromising hopelessness.
    I tore my eyes from the walls to glance at my companion, she was not looking back at me. Instead she glared at the pictures flashing on the walls, and as she did the impressions grew even darker, ever more bleak.
    I wanted to speak, to say something to alleviate her pain, to take away the horrid memory, and save her from her own emotions. But as I opened my mouth, I found no words to soothe her. I was silent as she enveloped herself with suffering.
    I took a breath and made a decision.
    Instead of trying to calm her turmoil with words, i rose from my chair. I took two short steps and stood at her side. Gently, I laid my hand on her shoulder.
    She looked up and I saw tears in her eyes. I realized my own eyes were blurry too, a lump of pain and uncertainty sat square in my breast. I never could look upon pain and not feel some of it myself.
    Still not speaking, I hunched down so our faces were level. I looked her in the eyes and tried for a smile. It probably came out solemn and a little melancholy, but it was a smile no matter what.
    She trembled. Her eyes peered straight into mine, and I imagined that she saw some of my feelings, my sympathy and my own pain there. Then she threw her arms around me in a hug.
    I didn’t know her, not really, and she knew only very little of me. But in that moment, in that sincere embrace, we both found a solace that no amount of words could have conveyed.
    We stayed there for a long while, just letting each other feel the presence of another person. In retrospect, I think I gained as much from it as she did.
    “Thank you.” She whispered after a long while.
    “Thank you.” I answered, smiling a real smile now.
    We broke of the hug at the same time, and I wen to sit down once more, but I didn’t make it all the way to the chair.
    Halfway there, my attention was drawn by a long creaking sound, as one half of the great black double door swung open.
    We both turned to stare at the portal, speechless.
    There had been no warning, no one to push the door open. It had simply swung open on its own, revealing a swirling, hypnotic patch of darkness, separated from the paleness of the room by some invisible barrier.
    “I think it’s your time to go.” She said, her voice a thready whisper.
    “Perhaps.” I answered, my own voice weak with reverie.
    There was something primal at my core which drew me to the door. I found it nearly impossible to look away. Still, I hesitated to step towards it, after all hesitation came natural to me.
    “Why should I step through?” I breathed.
    “It opened.” She said simply. “Go on then.”
    “You’re forgetting something.” I pointed out.
    “What?”
    “You.”
    “Me?”
    “Yes.” I managed to tear my eyes from the swirling blackness behind the door to look at her. “I’m not the first person you send through, rather than going yourself. Am I?”
    She didn’t really answer, but she didn’t meet my eyes either.
    I wanted to reach out to her, to suggest that she step with me through the black doors, out of the pale room. I had opened my mouth to speak again, but was caught off guard by a tugging sensation in my gut.
    It was as if someone had fastened a rope to my spike, and was pulling at it with rough motions, dragging me away from the door. I stumbled a step backwards, gasping in surprise.
    “Wha..?” I couldn’t finish the whole word, never mind the sentence.
    “You’re leaving.” She said with a tint of sadness in her voice.
    Another heavy tug in my spinal region send me tumbling backwards. I lost balance and landed on my ass with a surprised yelp.
    “Leaving?” I gasped. “I can’t reach the door.”
    “Some leave through the door.” She smiled a sad smile. “Others are pulled through the walls.”
    I slid a full foot over the floor, my arms and legs flailing. Then my back bumped against the wall, and it felt soft, like it was made of gelatin.
    “I’ll come back.” I told her, not knowing where that promise came from. “I’ll go through the door next time. I’ll see you there.”
    She looked tiny and lost than. I could feel her apprehension, her nervous mistrust. As I was dragged through the wall, I flashed her the best smile I could manage.
    It is a fact, that smiles are as contagious as yawns. When she looked back at me, there was a tiny smile on her face, and a glint in her eyes. Mischief and courage still lived in her soul, I could see that clearly in that moment.
    I started lifting upwards, and she turned her back to me and faced the door. I saw her small figure, back turned, eyes on the door. He hair a red halo around her head. He back straight, one foot forward.
    Then everything turned white.

    There was a lot of noise around me. A dull thumping feeling hit my chest in a steady one-two-three-pause rhythm. There was pain, but a vague pain which came to me as through a thick layer of cellophane.
    A warbled voice yelled something incomprehensible. Someone else answered from further away. Then a third voice spoke clearly and with great intensity.
    “He’s breathing!” A sharp breath indrawn, then the phrase was repeated in a yell. “HE’S BREATHING!”
    There was more noise and a maelstrom of sensation hit me like a hammer, chief amongst them pain.
    Then I opened my eyes.


    Spoiler: Masks, part one
    Show
    “Everyone has their own favorite.” Said the small man behind the counter. “Feel free to look around.”
    “I’ll have a quick peek.” Frank answered. “And I have some questions for you afterwards.”
    “All questions are welcome.” The man said. “Though mostly, I find the answer is your own to find.”
    Frank lifted one eybrow. The man was tiny, no taller than five foot ten. His hair had retreated from his temples, though he showed no otyher signs of aging. He smiled guilelessly as frank turned to look at the store.
    It was a small store, crammed so full of shelves that Frank had to shuflle almost sideways to not bump into anything. All the shelves were filled to the brimm with merchandice.
    Well, merchandice was the safe term, but Frank knew that he had to face the facts sooner or later. There were masks, filling every inch of every shelf, and since every spare bit of room held shelves, that amounted to whole lot of masks.
    They were of good quality, all of them carved carefuly from one single piece of wood. It was kind of amazing that anyone had the time and patience to tease forward the vast array of faces found on all those masks.
    Some of them were almost human, only the wooden colors and the unmoving grimaces placed them into uncanny territory. Other masks were like animals, on his left, Frank saw a boar’s face carved in reddish wood, next to it sad a bearmask in dark wood teeth bared eyes empty.
    Still the worst were the masks neither human or animal. They were demons, it was the only word there was for it. All fangs and evil empty eyesockets, Frank imagined the inhuman faces were watching him.
    Wipin away sweat from his brow with his red hankerchief, he made sure to circle round the store, looking at all the wooden faces. No other costumers here, so he could take his time. He needed to see if there was a mask like the one in the photo he had been given.
    There were loads of them with fangs and stripes, but he still wasn’t sure. The photo was of pretty poor quality, he might have to run it by a computerprogram.
    ****, he hated taking advice from a gloryfied calculator. But if he wanted to find his man, he might have to.
    Ambling back to the counter, he found the small shopkeep indly polishing a mask in pale white wood. The man put down mask and cloth as he aproached and looked up.
    “Find one to suit your fancy? He asked.
    “Are these all you have?” Frank let his voice be neutral, bored.
    “For now, but I carve more every night.” The man smiled earnestly.
    “You made all of these?”
    “Well, people don’t buy many masks, but they like having something to choose between.

  9. - Top - End - #1299
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    2474 words for Heart of Crown fanfic!
    Spoiler
    Show
    Magic sparkled brightly, dancing between fingertips, back and froth.
    "It's ready. "
    "Hai, onee-chan. "
    The two sisters spread their arms, the wave of magic enclosing the entire territory at once. The world outside darkened and slowed to a crawl.
    "Wow, I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it," the Duke said, watching them from behind.
    "Of course it'ld work. Lain and Shion are the best magicians in the country!" the blue haired sister puffed out her chest.
    "Tortellin, time. "
    The Duke nodded and turned to face the crowded market square, "right! We mustn't waste the effort of you girls. Get the construction supplies! They have given us time! Let's work hard to repair this city to support the princesses!"
    The roar of the crowd was deafening.
    "Onee-chan, enough support. "
    "Really?! We've also run out of magic. Then let's perform a Coronation Ceremony immediately!"

    Lulunasaika sighed, "knowledge alone cannot make a strong kingdom. "
    "And your playing in the dirt is unbecoming of a princess. "
    The Dukes and Senators watching the politest screaming match they had ever seen between the two princesses were greatly regretting letting them meet now.
    "Emergency news!" a panting messenger ran into the room without knocking. "Princess Twins Lain and Shion have declared a coronation ceremony! They're going to crown themselves queen next month!"
    "What?!" Lulunasaika shot out of her seat. She blinked and cleared her throat, suddenly reverting to her 'elegant princess mode'.
    "How did they gather so much support so fast? The last I heard they were still two major regions from getting a faction together. "
    Bergamotte adjusted her glasses, "there were reports of their magic before. Did they deploy their abilities?"
    "Ha-hai. " The messenger stuttered, "Duke Tortellin's territory was restored in less than three days. "
    There was a short period of silence.
    "They're going to be queen, aren't they?" Bergamotte said, fingers twitching as she counted their political support.
    "... yeah, neither of us can gather enough support in time. "
    Bergamotte frowned, "what about Klam-chan? I hear she has sent support to many Dukes too. "
    Lulunasaika sighed, "that girl? She spreads her money around to gain favour but almost none of the Dukes she has supported have declared for her in turn. Honestly, with the way she's developed her villages, she could have crowned herself queen last month if she would just solidify her politics. I sometimes wonder what she's even doing. No, she has less support than us. Lain and Shion will become queen. "

    "Aaaaa, what do I do? What do I do?"
    The scene in Klam-Klam's southern estate was pure chaos. The little princess tore through her rooms, scattering precious stones and masterwork paintings like confetti. "Duke Macaron! Duke Macaron!"
    She burst into the study, "Duke Macaron! What do I do?"
    The Duke who had first pledged himself to her support looked up from his desk and sighed, "you can't do anything. You're last in the race to the crown, princess. If you wanted to be queen, you should have been gathering political support, not spending your time buying every little thing that catches your eye. "
    "But... but my shopping! My gold... too shiny..."
    A knock on the open door of the study attracted their attention to the princess's butler. "Hime-sama, the restoration work is done. "
    Klam-Klam perked up, a glint in her eye, "really?"
    "Hai. Your trading ship just arrived with the last batch of gems. "
    "Huhuhu... kakakaka! Yes, perfect, just perfect! Come, Duke Macaron! Let's show them the power of my money!!"

    The gathering in the castle's hall was full of supporters of the Princess Twins.
    "And so, with majority support, we crown-"
    The speaker was interrupted when the large double doors slammed open.
    "Ouch! How heavy is that door? Hold it right there!" a voice shouted across the court.
    "Klam-Klam?" Lain opened her eyes and glared at the intruder.
    And promptly paled.
    Klam-Klam stood in the doorway, escorted by her entourage and the sole Duke Macaron who supported her. But on top of her head was a crown. A certain old crown that was thought to have been lost in the chaos of Emperor Hellard's death.
    It didn't look battered and worn like it should have, in fact it looked just as regal as everyone in the court had remembered it at the height of Imperial glory.
    Klam-Klam cackled again, before the crown dropped in front of her eyes. She pushed it back.
    "How can you be queen if you don't have the Imperial Crown! I, Princess of the South Seas, Klam-Klam, declare myself as Queen-Candidate! With this, it is my victory!" the little girl grinned up at the gathered nobles before the crown slipped over her eyes again.
    "Mm, no support," Shion's mutter was only heard by Lain but her sister was all that mattered.
    "You may have the Crown, but we have the support of the noble court!" Lain shouted back. .
    Klam-Klam pushed back the heavy crown, "fine, then we'll just have to see who gets a full parliament first!"
    "We already-"
    Lain's retort was cut off when Shion tugged her sleeve. "Nobles, swaying. "
    Indeed, the crown was a major symbol of Imperial authority, even Lain and Shion's supporting Dukes and Senators were looking unsure. Luckily, none changed sides.
    "Fine, we still have more support, we'll get there first! Let's go, Shion!"

    Royal Newspaper Service - Special Report Edition
    Coronation Ceremony Interrupted! Royal Race to the Throne begins!
    In a surprise twist of events, Princess of the South Seas Klam-Klam has come from behind to declare her candidacy to the throne in direct competition with Princess Twins Lain and Shion! What's more, the Imperial Crown has been found and is currently on Princess Klam-Klam's head! Finding and restoring the Crown to its former glory with her considerable resources, Princess Klam-Klam proves the strength of her claim to be the most worthy Queen!
    Now with two candidates for the Imperial Throne, both sides must gather enough political support to create their own government and begin their rule. Whoever manages to do so will be powerful enough to declare herself Queen immediately!
    Who will win in this breathtaking race to the throne? Citizens, let us know in our Letters to the Princesses special edition next week!

    Klam-Klam bounded into the Duke's office. "Yosh! Let's gather support! I'll go see who needs more resources-"
    "No more shopping for Hime-sama," her butler said from behind her.
    "What?! But what about the Large City? How am I going to get more support from the Dukes if I don't give them more gold? Right? We need more gold if we're going to gather support, right?"
    Her shock and dismay, like someone had taken away her favourite teddy bear, almost made Macaron grin as he remembered his own daughter. He quashed it out of respect.
    "My princess, you already have enough potential support in your lands and pledges. " He reassured her, "You just need to consolidate them into a parliament. Here's letters of introduction to Pennedo and Fettucini Dukedoms, their restoration work is finishing soon, they just need to declare for you. With their support and the Imperial Crown, no one will contest your claim. Duke Ravio's territory restoration might happen first but I doubt it. "
    "But... but my shinies? What about my capitalism?" her eyes begged him.
    No... no no, he had to be strong for his princess! "No, hime-sama. No shopping until you become queen, now sit down. I'll guide you how to organize the public support and noble functions. "
    Klam-Klam turned her teary gaze to her butler but the aged man remained cruel and unmoving.
    "Noooo, my shopping!"

    "Magic?"
    Lain pouted, "we're out. The artifact won't recharge until next year. That'll be way too late. "
    She rocked on the edge of the office table, "Aaaa! That Klam-Klam just had to interrupt us! Now even our last Duke is not enough. We need one more Duke and we'll have enough to form a ruling parliament! But we already spent our money and magic!"
    "Onee-chan, Royal Maids. Let's hire. Maids of the Palace, nobles will follow. "
    "Oh! Good idea, Shion! We're almost there! One or two contingent of the Royal Maids should be enough!" Lain jumped off the table and pumped her fist in the air, "Queenship, here we come!"

    "Kakaka! Witness the power of my money!" Klam-Klam grinned as she climbed up the steps to the Imperial Palace. "With my gold and resources, I have restored the Imperial Capital! See my bridges! My workshops! My aqueducts! Princess Twins! Look upon my works and despair!"
    The Duke followed behind her as she ran through the palace to the throne room. Plopping herself down on the huge marble throne, and balancing the crown on her head, Klam-Klam surveyed her court.
    It was rather empty.
    The massive audience room was made to hold all the nobles of the Empire. A half-size Klam-Klam and one Duke Macaron barely occupied a fraction of the space.
    "Where's everyone?" she asked, swinging her legs on the edge of the hard stone seat. "Come on! I have a shiny capital city right here! Aren't they going to recognize me as queen?"
    Duke Macaron sighed, "Princess Klam-Klam, your work at the capital is certainly impressive and I'm sure most of the courtiers will be swayed. But a country is about the people, not a fancy crown, buildings or even land. You still need to gather your support. "
    She grumbled noisily, "I already sent them resources ages ago! What are they doing? Do they need more gold? I have more gold!"
    "You still need to attend their functions, Pennedo was looking forward to your attendance last month. Why didn't you go?"
    Klam-Klam huffed, adjusting the crown, "but those functions are boring! Where's the trade? The merchant ships? The shiny shiny gold? They just want to dance and say stupid stuff! They don't even serve mowmow nuts at those balls. "
    "Mowmow nuts are unbecoming of a princess," Duke Macaron sighed. Especially the way she liked to stuff her cheeks with them. "Why don't you invite them to your ball here at the Imperial Palace? Then at least you can control the menu. "
    "Oh! Good idea! I'll go set it up now!" the princess jumped off the throne, the crown rolling off her head onto the floor. She stretched, trying to avoid the Duke's disapproving eyes as she rubbed her bottom. "What? That marble is really hard, okay? Hmm, I should commission an Imperial cushion made of the best fibre-"
    "Ahem. "
    "Fine! After I become queen!"

    Klam-Klam fidgeted on the hard stone throne. The ball's dancers were graceful and elegant. Only to be expected of the best. Still, was she expected to dance? Did the Dukes want to embarrass her or something?
    Maybe hiring professional dancers was a bad idea.
    The throne room doors slammed open dramatically. Or it would have if it didn't just swing open slowly.
    "Darn it, what did she put in the doors, solid gold?! Princess Klam-Klam, your claim ends here! We have the support of another Duke and the contingent of Royal Maids!"
    "Lain!" Klam-Klam sprang off the throne, secretly happy something interesting was happening, "you certainly have daring, to come to my palace in my city!"
    "Ohoho! How will you even maintain your palace without the Royal Maids? Let's see you keep your noble support when your palace goes neglected!"
    She scanned the huge retinue the Princess Twins had gathered behind them. No... it was not quite enough to form a parliament. Not that she had enough of the court for her own parliament either. "No, not yet! I can hire my own maids! I'll fund a whole new contingent!"
    The twin grinned, "South Seas Princess! You'll never make it in time! We already have our own second Maid Corps in training!"
    "Grr," growling was all Klam-Klam could come up with.
    "Grr!" Lain obligingly growled back. The two small princesses glared at each other, noses almost touching, imaginary sparks flying between them. Shion... was off to the side, looking for rice dumplings in the buffet spread.
    Duke Macaron sighed again, wondering just why he backed this kid. Right, the Firone money, that was why. He looked up to find the same slightly exasperated look on the faces of the Princess Twins supporters. Duke Tortellin gave him a wry smile he couldn't help returning.
    The clash was interrupted as the doors opened again and in trooped a double block of courtiers and escorts. Two Ducal retinues.
    "Hime-sama, apologies for our delay, but we are here now," the pair of regally dressed nobles at their heads came up to Klam-Klam and knelt.
    The princess blinked at them, surprised at their sudden entrance. "Huh? Isn't it Pennedo and Fettuccini! Have you come to support my claim for the throne?"
    "Hai! We have indeed come to declare our support for your candidacy!"
    Fettuccini continued, "our territories have recovered with your financial support. As agreed, we will agree to serve as part of your court and hopefully your parliament. "
    She clasped his hand suddenly, shining eyes meeting his, "oh! That's enough to form parliament! Yes, yes of course!" Klam-Klam whirled to face Lain, who was staring as if in shock.
    The queen-candidate's smile grew to blinding proportions, "ha! With this, I have a parliament and my claim is uncontestable! I have the crown, the capital and the support of the whole Pastal farming Region! Kakaka! I will be queen!"

    Three months later...
    Klam-Klam slumped over the desk, chewing the edge of the report with tears in her eyes.
    "Jo-ou-sama! Our magic report is ready!" Without fanfare, Lain burst into the room. Shion was dragged along behind her, still munching on a stick of rice dumplings.
    "Jo-ou-sama! The Dukes are requesting an audience next week. Their territory reports are complete for your review!" Lulunasaika followed them in, sparing the twins a short glance.
    Barely a second passed before... "Jo-ou-sama! The Imperial Research Institute has been organized. You need to authorize these expenditures to fix the damage from the crisis!" Bergamotte added her own voice to the increasingly crowded office.
    Queen Klam-Klam buried her head into the nest of paper spread across the desk. "Aaa... my shopping time! Where has my shopping time gone?!"


    For those who don't know, HoC is a deck building game (ala Dominions) that recently had a steam release. It's cute and the campaign skits are funny as hell. Mechanics are solid and it's generally a good game that I've played way too much recently.

  10. - Top - End - #1300
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Status for December 11 to December 16!


    Glass Mouse didn't upload/send me anything.

    Lycunadari passes with seven market photos.

    jseah passes with 2474 words of Heart of Crown fanfic.

    Xiander passes with 1129 words of At the Door and 478 words of Masks.

    3WhiteFox3 didn't upload/send me anything.


    Thus Glass Mouse and 3WhiteFox3 FAILS this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!


    Current standing:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Glass Mouse
    Current run: -
    Longest run: 290 weeks
    Themes: -

    Lycunadari
    Current run: 258 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 97 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 76 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    3WhiteFox3
    Current run: -
    Longest run: 1 week
    Themes: -


    LeSwordfish
    Longest run: 44 weeks

    Icewalker
    Longest run: 31 weeks

    Lovely Vulcan
    Longest run: 3

    Last edited by Lycunadari; 2017-12-26 at 11:45 AM.
    You can call me Juniper.
    Please use gender-neutral pronouns (they/their or ze/hir) when referring to me.

    Stories (Not just German anymore!) DeviantArt

    Lycunadari

  11. - Top - End - #1301
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Not much creative juice flowing this week, so I only did 1550 words of masks.

    Spoiler: Masks, Part Two
    Show
    Frank gave the little man a skeptical look.
    “You go through a lot of trouble to give people a few options.” He said.
    “I like the work.” There was something odd about the man’s smile, as if he was amused by a joke only he understood. “And it never hurts to build up a stock.”
    Frank had a growing feeling that he was running down a dead end, following a bad lead. The masks in this shop was like the masks on the picture, but there was really no way of proving a connection. In the end, his only option was to hope that he might get a new lead.
    “You make and sell every mask in here?” He asked, Reflex made him treat the small man like a witness.
    “I do.” The man smiled again. “This shop is far to small for me to hire help.”
    “Right.” Frank nodded and made a decicion. “Would you remember who bought a mask if I showed you a picture of it?”
    “I might.” The man gave him a puzzled look. “Are you a policeman?”
    “No.” Frank put his hand in his pocket and found the picture. “Just investigating something on my own time.”
    “A private eye?” The man asked, curiousity in his voice.
    “I suppose.” Frank nodded and got out the picture. “Anyway, do you recognise this mask?”
    The man looked down on the immage, and Frank followed his gaze. The picture was a black and white still frame from a security camera. It featured a very large man in black clothing wearing a mask carved in the immage of a boar’s head.
    Frank had been through five different stores, which sold masks, in the end one of the owners had pointed him to this place. He had figured the mask was unique enough that whoever sold it, might remember it.
    Time for that theory to be tested.
    “Ah.” The man’s eyes lit in recognition. “I sold that one a few days ago, to a large gentleman with a snake tatoo on his right hand, I remember it quite well, he was in a hurry but he refused to leave without the mask.”
    Well that seemed to fit the bill. The mask had been bought in this store, by a large man with a snake tatoo. It wasn’t much to go on, but it was something.
    “Can you tell me anything else about him?” Frank asked.
    “Not much.” The little man smiled. “He paid with cash and went on his way. He complained about the line, but he still waited his turn.”
    “There was a line?” Frank lifted one eyebrow, this place didn’t seem like a place that would often attract more than one costumer at a time.
    “Three people, the large man included.” The small man smiled proudly.
    “Do you remember what he talked about on the phone?” Frank hoped he could find some clue to the man’s identity. It was a slim chance, but a chance none the less.
    “I am sorry.” The storeowner said politely. “I do not listen in on other people’s calls.”
    “That’s a good principle.” Frank said. That said, there wasn’t much more to do here. “Thanks for your help.”
    With that he turned to walk out of the small shop. He had all the information he was getting from this place.
    “Can I interest you in a mask before you go?” Asked the small man, his tone all friendly.
    “No thanks.” Frank answered. “I don’t like masks, they freak me out.”
    He pushed open the door an stepped onto a street covered in a thin dusting of snow. Cold bit into his skin, but he ignored it, stuffing the picture back into his pocket.
    He got out a pack of gum, popped two pieces in his mouth and chewed thoughtfully as he walked. It was late afternoon and darkness was already gathering around him. Christmas lights were glimmering in the store windows and a good crowd of people were milling around, attending to their last bit of christmas shopping.
    This particular afternoon, Frank was not feeling very much it tune with the christmas spirit. He chewed at his gum rythmically, trying to allign the facts in his mind.
    The case had come to him in the usual way. A big brown envelope in his mailbox. Inside he had found the details of a breakin, which had happened less than twelve ours before. The victim had been unnamed, but there was a list of important things which had been taken.
    A silver candlabre, three bowls made of cedar wood, a piece of horn mounted on a piece of wood, and a thousand years old grimmoire.
    Frank wasn’t a private eye, not really.
    He worked with a security company. Not a company most people would know the name of, as they catered to a very certain crowd. A crowd who mostly didn’t want there names out in the open. At all.
    As a result, Frank did not know who had lost the flatware and the old book, he didn’t know from where, and he didn’t really have an idea of who might have wanted the articles.
    Buth then, those thing’s weren’t really his job.
    Frank was a retriever. When people signed contracts with the company, they had the option to pay extra for retrieval. If they did, and someone decided to rob them, the company was obligated to retrieve whatever was lost. When that happened, they sent big brown envelopes to Frank and the other retrievers. Whoever got the goods back first got payed.
    Which meant, that Frank had a case with next to no leads, fierce competition and not a lot of christmas spirit. He had already reached out to his contacts with the police, and he was waiting to hear back from them. The same was true with the people he knew who had ties with the black market for occult items, like the ones that had been stolen.
    So at this point all he could do was try to find a large man with a snake tatooed on his hands. Somehow he doubted that he would bump into that guy in the crowd of christmas shoppers.
    So he would have to pull out some bigger guns, and prove why he was a retriever. To that, he would have to go home.
    He found his car paked in the lot where he had left it, someone had gone through the trouble of leaving a ticket in his windshield. Apparantly finding the right shop full of creepy masks had taken too long. So much for christmas spirit.
    He shoved the ticket in his pocket next to the black and white security cam picture. One more reason to get this case solved before some other retriever got wise and brought home the culprit.
    He got in to the driver seat and jammed the key in the ignition. The car wheezed to life on the third try.
    “All I want for christmas is a million bucks.” Frank mumbled as he drove his dying car through the streets, lined with chrismas lights and thronging with jolly shoppers.

    Half an hour later, he pushed open the door to his appartment and stepped in. The air was colder inside than it was in the stairwell, any lower temperature and his bread would have been visible.
    In his mailbox he had found a notice from the building supervisor that the heat had been shut off until he paid his bills.
    ****.
    The power company would probably follow suit soon if he didn’t cought up. He didn’t have the cash to spare, there just hadn’t been many breakins with the clients of the company lately. Did burglars tak christmas hollidays?
    He decided they’d probably done just that in an effort to spite him personally. Then he decided to stop whining to himself about it and get down to the doing business.
    To that end he took of his big brown coat and his worn scarf. The cold bit at his neck, but he needed to free himself of a few mortal bonds for his next trick to work.
    He left his shoes, coat and scarf in the entré and walked furthre into his appartment. It was a small place, five rooms including the entré, the kitchen and the basthroom. Which left him with one room for a shoddy office and one room serving as living room, housing a comfortable chair and a battered old tv.
    The whole place needed a cleanup quite badly, but for now Frank had decided that could wait. He went into his tiny living room.
    There wasn’t much decoration to the place, Frank mostly furnished his place for practicality. His large leather armchair was really damn comfortable, but for now it was in the way.
    He wrestled it to the side of the room, leaving an empty spot of floor in the middle of the room.
    He sat down in that spot, stretched his arms over his head and heard the snap, crackle and pop of his joints. Ideally he should be naked for this trick, but it was just too damn cold.
    He closed his eyes, breathed out in a long, heavy exhalation, and left his body behind, while his mind went to dig up some more information.

  12. - Top - End - #1302
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Glass Mouse's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    The Icy North
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    I'm back in the game! 2958 words of character backstory. It was supposed to be about my changeling bard, but has so far only been the parents' story. It's fun to write in Danish again.
    Spoiler
    Show


    Challenge badge
    , courtesy of HeadlessMermaid.

    Avatar courtesy of the talented Neoriceisgood. Features Pumpkin from my webcomic.


  13. - Top - End - #1303
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Oops. Christmas is no excuse for nearly forgetting!

    1723 words for Hero's War
    Spoiler
    Show
    "So... this is your room?"
    Landar looked around with interest. When she proposed that Cato and her take some time to themselves, he had no idea what to do. Neither of them were the type to go browsing in Minmay's markets. Any attempt to visit the University laboratories or Kupo would result in them spending the entire day on experiments, visiting the guilds would result in Cato doing more troubleshooting for them.
    So she had insisted that he take her to his room where he slept, a part of the dormitories that was part of the University.
    It wasn't some palatial manor that would be expected of an important aristocrat. No matter how Cato denied that he should be a noble, his political importance was akin to that of a major guild leader or a mayor of a large town. Even Willio's mansion was much better looking now and the Chancellor was of course already enjoying his privileges before all this.
    Landar was certainly not expecting a tiny room with walls made of the new hard paper and plaster combination, a bed and two smaller areas for a kitchen and bathroom. It was smaller than her own house in the city, smaller than even some of the University alchemists' houses.
    "What is this? You really live here?" she asked, finding only a sad little table that would have struggled to seat two for dinner.
    Cato grinned, "look closer. Muller and I actually use this building to test new concepts for housing. I actually stay in one of the four rooms available while the others are undergoing renovations. "
    She frowned. The bed was not anything special... wait a minute. Landar approached the bed and sat down on it slowly.
    "Psst, shoes," Cato hissed at her with uncharacteristic annoyance.
    She glanced down and saw Cato had left his shoes at the entrance. She shrugged as she kicked her shoes off into the entranceway. "I didn't know you liked my hometown practice of removing our shoes," Landar asked.
    "Its only after I got rooms in this building, the others weren't clean enough to bother with. "
    Landar shook her head and patted the bed. The soft bed! "Never mind that. Cato! What did you do to this bed? Is this a spring I'm feeling?" she frowned as she realized the small size of the spring and the large size of the bed. It was significantly taller than she was, and... she ran a hand down the side of the bed. Yes, there was a division in the middle, some sort of frame that divided the bed into two layers of springs.
    "How many thousands of springs are in here?" she exclaimed. It was firm but at the same time not hard. She let herself fall onto the bed, feeling the gentle softness as she bounced on the surface.
    He straightened from where he was arranging her shoes and grinned at her, "that's a new design, recently refined at my special request. "
    Landar matched his grin then noticed a small square of metal set into the wall next to her head. Looking closer, the magical lines running through the wall passed behind the clearly magical device. The square had a pair of small angled holes where something could be inserted and held in place.
    "Ah, I see you've found the power socket," Cato said cheerfully. He opened a cabinet set into the wall, Landar hadn't noticed that was there, and took out a familiar device containing only minimal magic.
    "Wait, let me guess, that's the liquid light lamp we designed. You made it draw power from the socket!" she bounced off the bed and grabbed it excitedly, "and this cloth and metal rope is the connection that goes into the socket!" The alchemist plugged the two angled prongs into the corresponding holes, noting that it was impossible to fit in upside down.
    The red lined output in the middle of the lampshade stayed stubbornly inactive.
    She held up a hand as Cato opened his mouth and looked over the device again. "Ah! Here it is," she found a panel that contained a faint trace of power on the metal stand of the lamp. A circle for activation and cross for negation. She thumbed the circle and grinned as magical density at the socket converted into power and flowed down the metal rope to the lamp, which rapidly pooled liquid light into the red output bowl.
    "Easy!" she said, proud that she had deciphered Cato's device.
    "It was meant to be," Cato pierced her bubble, "the idea is to come up magical devices that we can sell to the general population. Even with the University running classes, a majority of the population still cannot use magic and are still illiterate. Hence the consistency between the control systems. Circles for activation, crosses for deactivation, red lined areas for outputs and danger. And so on. "
    He held up another familiar loop of metal. That was the combination air cooler and fan. Instead of blades or a pair of bellows, this just drove the air directly using magic to generate a pleasant wind. Landar remembered that time they invented this. Only the version in front of her was far sleeker, with the same circle switch and metal rope with socket.
    "And everything runs off the magical grid that will be built into the house," Landar nodded. She glanced around rapidly, excitement making her feel slightly giddy.
    A rectangular panel, set a bit further up the wall from the socket and near the entrance next to Cato, had the same circle and cross engraved into the metal. "And that," Cato said, tapping the circle with his finger when he caught her line of sight, "is the control switch for the room's light. "
    The metal squares set into the ceiling started to glow as they were coated with liquid light. He tapped the cross and the light slowly died away.
    "Getting the liquid light holder to work upside down was a problem you will not believe how long it took to solve. These ones have a lead glass covering," Cato said, "on the bright side, the liquid light is a dispersed and gentle light source so we don't face the same need to make mirrored settings for the light that electric bulbs do. "
    Landar nodded faintly as small details in the room began to jump out at her. The design was totally different from what she expected. No art decorations, no carvings or painted patterns. The room was austere enough that it could be mistaken for a poor peasant's room at first glance, when combined with the small size. However, she noted the subtle devices flush with the walls, understated handles that were oddly shaped dents showing doors where she first thought was a wall.
    Even the bathroom, when she peeked in, was completely different. The design for an adjustable temperature water tap eluded her for a moment but she eventually realized the panel above the lever controlled the magical heating in the pipes. Even the strange thing that Cato had to explain was a flushing chamber pot was something that looked nothing like the current attempts at flushing toilets. Cato had to stop her from the enchanting the water to track it down the u-bend.
    "I... withdraw my earlier objections," Landar said. Cato's room had far more luxury than she initially expected. The pure magical heating for the stove itself was smokeless and completely clean. The idea of having a stove that was just a simple red circle drawn onto the countertop was completely unimaginable to her for this visit. The refrigerator to keep food cold or even frozen was also better designed and clearly maintain its chill better, judging from its idle magical usage.
    All of these appliances as Cato called them, would be incredibly expensive in magic to run. All having a design to minimize visible features that was clearly inspired from Cato's Earth, completely unlike the crude devices currently being made.
    "How much did this cost?" she asked.
    Cato hummed as he made a rough estimate. "This room probably cost about as much as Minmay's entire manor to build and live in for a year. "
    She choked a little. That... even Minmay had built his manor over the course of decades!
    "It was the design of the appliances and the problems we had to solve in the plumbing and walls that really made this room expensive. The number of times we had to tear it down, rip conduit cables out of the wall, put new ones in and rebuild the wall? Countless. That's why there are four identical rooms in a row here and I just live in the one that is currently not under construction. The devices like the bedside lamp, the lights, the water pipe heater and separating the controls for the embedded devices? Those went through many revisions as well. " Cato paused and frowned, "well, making the structure of most of the portable devices out of the new chromium steel alloy doesn't help. Once the design is finalized, Muller should get a final cost estimate for the construction and furnishing for me. We think the final cost needs to be twenty to a hundred talens before this sort of room becomes something that can actually be sold. "
    Landar just stared at him dumbly. Was this what Cato was working on when he wasn't with the chancellor or guilds?
    He shrugged before wandering into the kitchen, saying, "well, let me cook lunch and we can discuss it more afterwards. "
    The alchemist only shook herself out of her shock when the sounds and smell of frying paka meat drifted through the door. She glanced at the two person sized dining table, wondering if anything was hiding in it.
    The thump of a glazed clay plate hitting the table brought Landar out of her futile examinations. Cato was smiling awkwardly as he set the forks and spoons next to the plates, "well, sometimes a table is just a table. If you can think of something that would be useful to have in it, I'll see. "
    Flushing slightly, she pulled out the chair to join him for the meal.

  14. - Top - End - #1304
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany
    You can call me Juniper.
    Please use gender-neutral pronouns (they/their or ze/hir) when referring to me.

    Stories (Not just German anymore!) DeviantArt

    Lycunadari

  15. - Top - End - #1305
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Status for December 17 to December 24!


    Glass Mouse passes with 2958 words of character backstory.

    Lycunadari passes with five nature photos and two Christmas decoration photos.

    jseah passes with 1723 words of Hero's War.

    Xiander passes with 1550 words of Masks.

    3WhiteFox3 didn't upload/send me anything.


    Thus 3WhiteFox3 FAILS this round!

    Glass Mouse, Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!


    Current standing:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Glass Mouse
    Current run: 1 week
    Longest run: 290 weeks
    Themes: -

    Lycunadari
    Current run: 259 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 98 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 77 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    3WhiteFox3
    Current run: -
    Longest run: 1 week
    Themes: -


    LeSwordfish
    Longest run: 44 weeks

    Icewalker
    Longest run: 31 weeks

    Lovely Vulcan
    Longest run: 3



    ----

    I just noticed that a few weeks ago I made a mistake in updating the week counter ( I forgot to update mine, the others were all fine) so I've gone back and edited all the status posts since then. If you ever notice that I forgot to update something, please tell me!
    Last edited by Lycunadari; 2018-01-03 at 03:48 PM. Reason: noticed a mistake in the week count; accidentaly failed Glass Mouse
    You can call me Juniper.
    Please use gender-neutral pronouns (they/their or ze/hir) when referring to me.

    Stories (Not just German anymore!) DeviantArt

    Lycunadari

  16. - Top - End - #1306
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    You can call me Juniper.
    Please use gender-neutral pronouns (they/their or ze/hir) when referring to me.

    Stories (Not just German anymore!) DeviantArt

    Lycunadari

  17. - Top - End - #1307
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    1576 words for Hero's War

    Spoiler
    Show
    The battle report as written by Denno was full of observations of the new variant of the black mist and zombie nightcryers. The black mist was no longer a diffuse aura surrounding the zombies, instead it appeared to have structure, with denser clumps and flows of magic inside. Elka observers of the battle from the cliffs noted how the black mist seemed to respond to the fire shell attack like a living thing, swallowing the flammable material and ejecting it out of the area. The only reason why the defence was even successful was because not even the huge zombie auras could withstand a firestorm's worth of magic.
    The artificial firestorm had appeared and disappeared far faster than the famous Minmay disaster had. Furthermore, the cloud of fiery magic had spread in all directions, going by accounts from observers placed at different locations.
    Whether this was due to the smaller more concentrated fire than the Minmay disaster or if there was some as yet unknown factor, was impossible to tell.
    "We have to attack," Cato said as he put down the sheaf of paper, "with a large army destroyed, the zombies will be greatly weakened. Now is the time to press north before another city falls to the monsters. "
    "There is a problem with that proposal," Curasym interrupted him, "the Fort Yang army is in no shape to march anywhere. "
    "The casualties were almost nothing," Cato pointed out, "maybe five percent of the total strength. With the new mana wells here in Minmay, we'll have all the spell cannons replaced in a few weeks. The zombies' numbers will be greatly reduced. "
    "The casualties were primarily supporting units. Our Guards at Fort Yang lost nearly all our alchemists," Curasym fired back, "spell cannons and bowguns deployed on the field need constant repair and I'm certain that the shortage of alchemists there will soon result in the equipment breaking down. The Ektal's knight alchemists don't understand spell cannons, much less the new model gun.
    What's more, recruitment of alchemists for the Minmay Guard is greatly down, no alchemist will want to join the Guard when the factory companies are all in need of alchemists and they even pay more! Infantry is easy, any man, woman or fuka can just pick up a bowgun and shoot. Alchemists for maintenance and operation of spell cannons take much longer to train. It'll be six months to a year before we can even replace the numbers lost in that battle, much less the numbers we'll need to support further expansion of the infantry. "
    The chancellor frowned and leaned back as his two advisors started to go over the logistics of the Guard again. Minmay had already roughly predicted this result. The problems were compounded by the fact that the Inath Federation had been on the defensive for nearly two generations. Knight armies never had to worry about supplies, being formed out of whatever parties were in the region and gladly supported by the peasants they were protecting.
    But the area north of the Snow Wall was a very dry desert, and everyone there was probably dead from the zombies. Any prospective attack of the sort that Cato was proposing would have to bring their own food, water and ammunition. Almost certainly, the army would be forced to follow the River Yang upstream to avoid having to bring huge quantities of water along. Not to mention the total inexperience for long range operations at every level from the recruits to the commanders. Inath fighters were very good at killing monsters and defending walls, but woefully new to any sort of real warfare.
    Still, Cato's point that the zombies were weak was a good one. If Inath was to ever be free of the zombies, they would have to strike north eventually and a lull in zombie attacks would be a good time to suffer the learning mistakes of moving out of the human lands. In fact, the months leading up to the recent battle saw zombie and monster attacks at Wendy's Fort drop to nearly nothing. Ranra's knight cavalry also reported a much welcomed reduction in zombie activity when they were still adapting to the new light beam threat and the tactics for bowgun armed cavalry.
    "Cato, Curasym," Chancellor Minmay interrupted their discussion, "while I do agree that we have to take an offensive stance and now is a good time, it is simply impossible to order the Guards to march north without preparation. I will present this to Ektal, bringing forwards the talks for a stronger peace. That will take weeks to settle so we can coordinate the push together with the Ektal knights. In the mean time, we'll need to find a way to encourage replacements for the alchemists and to increase the reliability of the weapons. "
    "Leave the encouragement to me," a familiar woman's voice made them look up. Minmay's wife, Aesin, walked into the dining room and frowned at the mess of maps and charts covering one end. "We'll need a new set of propaganda articles and posters to achieve that effect. Is giving alchemist training in exchange for joining the Guard feasible?"
    "It'll take a long time to actually train good alchemists from nothing but it would help in the long run," Curasym nodded.
    "What of a military school then? A school that trains new recruits in magic, alchemy and literacy, in exchange for five years in the Guard. "
    Cato and Curasym looked at each other and turned together to Minmay. Any such project would be costly of course and the cost would have to be borne by the Chancellor.
    The Chancellor sighed, "fine, we have recovered from the debt incurred during the purge after all. But dear, you get to explain that to Arisacrota. "
    Aesin just laughed, "my, are you that scared of your own daughter?"
    Cato shook his head as the chancellor and his wife began to drift off topic. He turned back to the battle reports and began to take notes on what areas of the bowgun needed improvement.

    After finishing the stew, Landar finally popped her question. "This whole room seems more luxurious than I thought. It looks bare but so many features are hidden behind the walls. This design came from your world, right?"
    Cato nodded as expected.
    "Then you must be quite glad to find a familiar environment?"
    To her surprise, Cato wrinkled his nose and sighed, "it's not quite there. The materials here are not as great as what Earth has. For example, the plaster board walls are weak and easy to accidentally knock a hole in. The stove takes too long to heat up. The bed linen is scratchy and the toilet paper is too stiff and doesn't have perforations. I can go on for ages. "
    What.
    That was all Landar could think of to respond. Most of those complaints were trivial, little issues that would cost so much more to resolve than the gain in comfort. Was Cato secretly a pampered noble of some kind?
    No, he did say that these things were common in his world. That any normal person could afford all these luxuries, including the improved quality that Cato was missing.
    "The drawers get stuck half open, chairs don't fold and the fountain pens are terrible for writing..."
    She reached underneath the table to where the stack of long rolls of multiuse paper lay and drew out a long sheet. To think Cato was using these to wipe up food spills and in the toilet. What a waste of good writing paper!
    A flick of a wrist and the unrolled section rolled back up into a tube that she tore off in a single sweeping motion that ended with the tube of paper smacking into Cato's forehead.
    "Hey! What's the problem here?" She would never admit that his indignant squawk made her want to hit him, just to hear it once more.
    Landar shook her improvised distraction admiringly. This was a great use of paper! "The problem is that you expect far too much!" she yelled.
    Her arm shot up on instinct to intercept Cato's own rolled up paper tube.
    "See, it's way too stiff to use as toilet paper," he said triumphantly, "also a bit too long. Half a meter rolls are a terribly large size and make the toilets clog. "
    "Just be glad we aren't using the leaves like in Wendy's Fort," Landar huffed, clashing paper tubes again. Her attempt to spin Cato's out of his hand like a sword failed spectacularly when the tubes just bent in half. "These are an improvement already. "
    "Ah! So you do admit that the paper is better than leaves!" Cato grinned as he tried to jab at her. Too easy, she swiped it to the side and leapt back out of her chair. "Further improvements are always possible!"
    "Rather than waste time trying to make a softer paper, you should be concentrating on those spell cannon improvements no?" Landar shot back. The paper tube in her hand was beginning to sag a little as she locked it against Cato's. A flick of magic and it straightened out suddenly.
    "Hey, not fair!"
    With a laugh, she dodged a thrust from Cato and spun out of the room, "it's perfectly fair!"

  18. - Top - End - #1308
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    1639 words for Masks. This one is probably going to go really long. I really enjoy writing Frank, but I don't have a clue where the plot is heading.


    Spoiler: Masks, part three
    Show
    Stepping out of his own body always felt like ripping off a bandaid. The expectation of pain was probably worse than the actual pain, but not by much.
    He spent a good while just getting in the zone. Letting go of everything physical. That was why it was better if he was naked, it’s a lot easier to let go of physical possessions if you anren’t covered in them at the time. It’s like dieting, no one starts a diet while they’re in a bakery. Frank couldn’t exit his own bakery in the physical sense, so he had to do it mentally.
    It took some effort, but after concentrating for a good while, he let out a long breath and stepped free of the world.
    His mind left his body in a rush, everything turned upside down as he stepped beyond, and then it all settled down around him.
    When his mind stopped feeling like a tv with no signal, Frank found himself in a room, with a row of simple chairs and a small table holding several outdated magazines. It was pretty much exactly like the waiting room at the dentist.
    He inhaled again, it was important to remember breathing, but he had to be careful not to think to much about why that was. He wasn’t really in a dentist’s waiting room, that was just how his mind filled in the blank space he was in. In reality his body was still sitting in his cold little livingroom, it was only his mind that had gone beyond.
    He couldn’t focus too much on that though, or he would snap back to his body. His mind was still connected to his physical form, and it wasn’t really meant to go straying like this. Which meant that he had limited time, and he had to focus to stay in this place for long enough to get some good info. That also meant that, the fact that he was in a waiting room was bad news.
    If he was put on hold for too long, the bond between his mind and his body would either break or pull him back. He briefly contemplated forcing the issue, but decided against it. No one likes a busybody and the entities he was trying to contact had their own way of dealing with people who pestered them with out taking their feelings into consideration.
    So he kept breathing steadily and sat down in one of the chairs. He picked up one of the old magazines to read while he waited, but when he opened it, he found that the words on the pages were completely unreadable.
    It made sense, this was all a construct of his own imagination, and he didn’t really have the wits to come up with even bad magazine articles on the fly.
    He put down the magazine again and settled back to wait. He kept his mind busy by going over the facts again.
    A man in a boar mask had broken through the companies security measures and taken a number of valuable items, most notably an ancient grimmoire. The only lead to the identity of the thief was the description of the large man with the snake tatoo on his hand, which Frank had gotten from the owner of the mask store.
    That left him with a lot of questions, and he knew from experience that the trick was picking the right question. That wasn’t as easy as you’d think. Asking for a guy with a snake tatoo would get him a lot of leads, most of them not really helpful.
    It was like looking up something on the internet. Getting five hundred hits wouldn’t help if he had no idea which one was the right one. And the people he was talking to here didn’t use page listings.
    He was pondering what question he should go with, when someone stepped into the waiting room. She was a small thing, no more than one fifty tall, and light enough that frank could pick her up and throw her. Not that he would, it wouldn’t be polite.
    She had short blond hair, a small pretty face and no eyes. It wasn’t that her eyes were missing, there were no empty sockets or grizzly scars. Her face was completely normal, except for the patches of naked skin where her eyes should have been.
    Not for the first time, Frank contemplated that his mind was a ****ed up place.
    “Second Finder.” She said. Her voice was like wind through a wheat field, and somehow Frank knew she was talking to him.
    “Is that my name for the day?” He asked, getting out of the chair.
    He knew he shouldn’t be asking questions in here, except for the one he really meant to ask, but he felt confident that this one wouldn’t count.
    “I name you as I see you.” She smiled a smile that would have been perfectly charming on any girl with eyes. “Follow.”
    “This from a girl without eyes?” He jabbed.
    “You know full well that truth is not always easiest seen with your eyes.” She said pleasantly.
    Cryptic bull**** like that made frank want to argue, but he decided not to push it any further. It was never a good idea to get into an argument with the go-between. So he followed her out of the waiting room, while he pondered the name. Second finder, what the hell did that mean?
    They walked through a couple of narrow hallways, with doors on either side. Without being able to see anything, Frank still felt the pressense of other minds behind those closed doors. While most of the imprssions he got when he was in this place was fabricated by his own mind, he knew that he wasn’t tha only one who could come here.
    For one, the eyeless girl in front of him was an actual being. Not a person, not really. Rather an entity with it’s own agenda and will. His mind showed him a small blonde with no eyes, but that was probably some kind of psycological thing. Carl Jung would have had something to say about that. Another person would see her diferently, but behind that subjective vision, was the same entity. A messenger and a go-between, the one who took him to the person he had come to talk to.
    “The oracle will see you now.” The blonde said, and gestured to one of the doors.
    “Thank you.” Frank mumbled and pushed the door open.
    He stepped into an office, much bigger than it should have been. Judging on the tight hallways and the narrowly spaced doors, there shouldn’t have been room for the room. It wasn’t at all like a room you would find at the dentist. It wasn’t even really like an office. It was more like a temple.
    Like an ancient place of worship, empty of any modern trappings, the only decoration was the alter, which in this case did looke like something from out of an office. It was an enormous oak table, big enough that it probably wouldn’t fit in Frank’s appartment.
    Behind it sat a figure garbed in an clean white robe. Under a heavy hood, Frank could just make out handsome androgynous features and a few pale locks of hair.
    “Second finder.” Said the oracle. “Welcome.”
    “Thank you.” Frank dropped his head hin a slight bow as he spoke. It payed to be polite with these folks.
    The was a slight movement under the oracle’s hood. Was that a small smile? Frank couldn’t quite see it.
    “You have come to seek my wisdom?” The oracle said, in a voice like the rush you hear when you put a seashell to your ear.
    “Yeah.” Frank nodded, he sure hadn’t come to chat about the weather.
    “Then approach, and ask your question.” The oracle said.
    So what question shoule he ask? Asking about the mask would probably lead him back to the creepy store. Asking about the man with the snake tatoo probably wouldn’t give him anything useful. He could ask about the victim of the theft, but that would pretty much defeat the point of all the secrecy, and discretion was a big part of the job.
    Which left him with just one good question.
    “I am looking for a couple of different things.” He said. “Stolen goods.”
    “I will answer one question.” The Oracle repeated.
    One question.
    That was the thing about coming here, you got one shot and then it might be days before there was any point in coming back. Maybe someone better at this divining stuff than Frank could have pried several questions off the Oracle or been able to return after a few hours. But Frank had to rely on getting the question right.
    “Five things.” he said. “A candelabra, two bowls, a grimmoire and a piece of bone on a plaque.”
    Under the hood, the Oracle’s head tilted slightly.
    “Ask.”
    “I figure they were really only after one thing.” Frank explained. “So you tell me: Which one?”
    There was a thrum of power, the air tensed around them and the Oracle straightened behind the giant desk which was also an alter.
    With a suddenmovement, the Oracle drew back the hood, revealing a beautilful face. Perfectly symetric, with smooth unmarred skin. Pale hair flowed freely around ivory skin. Sharp blue eyes glared back at him, and then the power coalesed and at third eye opened in the Oracles forehead.
    If the other two eyes where like sparkeling saphires, the third was like a ruby, burning an intence red. Frank knew better than to look into the third eye. The yes might be the gateway to the soul, but he had a good feeling that this one was also a path to something much worse.

  19. - Top - End - #1309
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Status for December 25 to December 31!


    Glass Mouse didn't upload/send me anything.

    Lycunadari passes with four nature photos and two drawings.

    jseah passes with 1576 words of Hero's War.

    Xiander passes with 1639 words of Masks.

    3WhiteFox3 didn't upload/send me anything.


    Thus Glass Mouse and 3WhiteFox3 FAILS this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!


    Congratulations to me for passing for five years! Yay!


    Current standing:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Glass Mouse
    Current run: -
    Longest run: 290 weeks
    Themes: -

    Lycunadari
    Current run: 260 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 99 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 78 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    3WhiteFox3
    Current run: -
    Longest run: 1 week
    Themes: -


    LeSwordfish
    Longest run: 44 weeks

    Icewalker
    Longest run: 31 weeks

    Lovely Vulcan
    Longest run: 3

    You can call me Juniper.
    Please use gender-neutral pronouns (they/their or ze/hir) when referring to me.

    Stories (Not just German anymore!) DeviantArt

    Lycunadari

  20. - Top - End - #1310
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    1527 words for Hero's War (and chapter complete)
    https://www.fictionpress.com/s/3238329/108/A-Hero-s-War

    Spoiler
    Show
    Having a much better understanding of how the guilds work and where technology used to be was critical to the improvements the University makes. While ideas like interchangeable parts and mass production have been huge collaborative projects, other smaller goals were much easier to achieve, especially blast furnaces and steelmaking.
    Looking back across the time since I arrived, it becomes clear to me that my initial impression of the state of the society was wrong. Inath appeared to me to be a society in decline, slowly losing technologies and understanding that they once had as the First and Tsar that they descended from. Where humans used to be all over the world, monsters and zombies have slowly pushed them back into this large but limited area.
    Nothing could be further from the truth. Whatever the initial war and the later Great Migration events were, very little survives from that period. Despite First Landing being a semi-preserved city of a presumably highly magical civilization, no magical artifacts survive. No documents or records beyond oral history survives. This is very strange since even the worst of disasters should still leave some trace of prior technology.
    Instead, like the Elkas and Fukas, humans were driven back into a purely hunter gatherer society after the war. While stories of the wonders of the First and Tsar serve as a guide post as to what is possible, and almost certainly the reason why ironworking was never lost, the whole magical and technological tradition had been practically reinvented.
    Zombies only recently appeared a few generations ago and have only become a major threat in the last generation, leading to the retreat to Inath's current borders. Indeed, if the zombies were as weak as they were implied to be, given how zombies slowly develop new abilities, it would not be surprising to find out that the initial appearance of zombies would not have been a threat.
    In this light, my near miraculous success can be boiled down to sheer luck. Inath is not a civilization in decline, in fact it was slowly building itself back up and I simply gave it a kick with Earth knowledge and ideas having arrived at just the right time for my own admittedly limited knowledge to be useful. The Ironworkers guild already had sophisticated furnaces for blister steel, experience with molten metals and other complex technologies. They would probably have reinvented the blast furnace on their own not long in the future.
    The conditions were simply ripe for my success.
    This is never more apparent than when my projects attempt to reach too far. Elemental fractionation of plasma by application of sheer heat is something that would be possible given magic, however the infrastructure of strong magical power sources is not present to take advantage of this. Project Flight still remains stalled at every point, no engine, no wings and only balloons for show. Landar's attempts to make a computer are huge and unwieldy and full of bugs.
    Standardization is probably right at the edge of what their techniques and sophistication can support. No other city or town has been able to obtain truly interchangeable parts like Minmay has.
    I cannot expect the breakneck pace of improvements to continue as we head into more complex technology. While attempts to make a magnet for the generation of electricity has been successful, the applications so far are limited due to the poor efficiency of generators and heavy losses on experimental wires.
    I have no more low hanging fruit left to try, I feel that the next major breakthrough will not be something I expect.

    Landar smacked Cato on the arm, "stop laughing already!"
    "Just... too funny," he snickered again, "you were yowling like a cat in there!"
    "It's not my fault your shower is so hard to use! How was I to know that blue meant cold water on your mixer tap anyway?" Landar retorted, then paused, "and what's a cat?"
    "It's a common pet on earth. They're cute and very independent minded. "
    The alchemist sighed and shook her head, sending water drops flying from her wet hair. She paused and drew the bathrobe tighter, "never mind that, it's getting cold. Do you have a heater in here?"
    As night had begun to fall and the temperatures with it, Cato went back to the control panel near the door and adjusted another slider embedded into the wall. The floor began to heat up gently, just like magic. It was magic after all.
    "I'm glad I got to see what you have been working on," Landar smiled as Cato prepared a pot of tea and some biscuits, "it might not be big but it's certainly convenient. Definitely expensive enough to qualify as a noble's residence. "
    "I'm glad you like it," Cato nodded. The familiar minty smell spread through the air, injecting some much needed calm after their earlier fun.
    And despite the excitement a while ago, Cato also appreciated the calmer mood. Sitting and simply enjoying a cup of tea was nice too.
    "I made a discovery today," Landar said after a few minutes of silence.
    "Hm?"
    "The Aura Light derived magic is very strange. I ran various objects through it at different amounts of magical material," Landar held up a hand and demonstrated the familiar shadowy ball. "We thought at first that this effect causes objects to turn invisible, since anything placed into the field disappears, and putting more than one object into the field causes them to hit each other. "
    That certainly sounded like invisibility. But that hypothesis didn't match what Cato saw from the tremors and from the Aura Light report.
    "And then I observed this," Landar pushed the ball of shadow into Cato's table and began to pour in power. The circle of tabletop faded out to nothing in the center, leaving an empty hole Cato could see through. That much matched their previous experiments.
    As the shadow darkened with increasing power however, the fade out effect began to spread outwards. And it didn't stop at the boundary of the effect. Even when the table within entire sphere of shadow, now a sharply defined region, was invisible, the fade out effect had simply spread outwards beyond the boundaries. Eventually, with a great amount of magic, the faded circle of the table had spread so far that a circular section of table outside the shadow region had disappeared as well.
    "Now watch," Landar said, picking up a biscuit from the plate they had moved aside. She used the edge of the biscuit to tap the invisible region of the table outside the shadow ball, upon which the biscuit passed right through, as if there wasn't a table there at all.
    Cato blinked and looked at Landar, who just shrugged. She stuck a hand underneath the table and dropped the biscuit. It went right through, not even fading in the slightest. Landar then dropped the biscuit into the middle of the shadow effect where it promptly fell through the table and onto the floor.
    She held the magic for a moment longer before releasing the spell. The shadow ball dispersed slowly, the faded region of table shrinking in reverse until only a biscuit was left sitting where there used to be a hole. The alchemist sitting across the table smiled at him, with a hint of smugness. "Explain that. "
    Cato frowned and had her repeat the experiment while he got a long spoon to stick into the shadow. As the spoon was still shorter than the zone of disappearing table, this resulted in a slight panic when Cato felt the spoon being pulled as if tugged from his hand and his fingers began to fade out. Dropping the spoon in a rush, Cato's faded fingers quickly snapped back.
    "It's all right, Landar," Cato patted her hand with the experimental hand, "the piyos all survived being passed through the shadow area. It'll be fine. "
    "But we don't know for sure. "
    "Then let's take this as a lesson, my fingers can be an experimental test on safety," he said wryly. It was already too late if the shadows turned out to give him cancer or something equally horrible.
    Landar looked apologetic but that could never last when the puzzle remained unsolved. She perked up in just a few seconds to ask, "so, any ideas?"
    Cato thought through the list. Two small objects would hit each other, two long rods also hit each other, but putting a part of a table allowed other objects through?
    He knocked on his table a few times but could find nothing interesting. The cheap plywood was a little flexible but not enough to seriously bend or be damaged by even magical tests. And there was that sensation of movement when he stuck the spoon in. It felt much like the acceleration magic.
    But the spoon wasn't moving...
    And there was how his hand had faded in and out when he had released the spoon...
    ... perhaps the spoon was moving after all?
    "Four dimensional space?!"

  21. - Top - End - #1311
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    You can call me Juniper.
    Please use gender-neutral pronouns (they/their or ze/hir) when referring to me.

    Stories (Not just German anymore!) DeviantArt

    Lycunadari

  22. - Top - End - #1312
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    One more chapter of Masks, numbering 1666 words. Christ this one shows no signs of stopping anytime soon...

    Spoiler: Masks, part Four
    Show
    “Second Finder!” The Oracles voice had dropped several octaves and now sounded like someone beating an empty oildrum. “You seek the bowls, the book, the horn.”
    “I know that.” Frank mumbled, but he kept his voice low. No sense in pissing off the Oracle now.
    “You seek the snake with the boars face.” The Oracle’s voice rose to a shout, and Frank could swear a wind was picking up in here. “The book is cast off, the bowls have been discarded. Only the Horn matters, but the Snake knows why.”
    “What?” Frank didn’t manage to keep his voice low this time.
    “Strings dance and play, and feet and hands move in time.” The Oracle didn’t seem to take any notice of his interruption. “Three men dance as the strings dictate. Seek the Horn to find the truth. And you shall be the Second Finder.”
    There was a sharp crackling sound, as the imaginary gale rose to a crescendo, and Frank could barely keep his balance. The oracles three eyes pierced his skin and looked into his soul. He felt stripped and laid bare, like no secret could possibly be held against the ruby glare of that third eye.
    Then suddenly the wind died down and he found his footing again. The ruby eye closed in the Oracle’s forehead and Frank once more looked into the emerald blue of the two regular eyes.
    “That’s the answer?” He asked. “Go for the bone on the piece of wood?”
    “Horn.” Said the oracle patiently.
    “What’s the difference?” Frank shrugged.
    “Quite important.” The Oracle smiled a sharp little smile. “But should not answer any more of your questions. Goodbye for now Second Finder.”
    Frank blinked his eyes open and looked up at his old tv screen. He was sitting on the floor of his tiny livingroom. Even fully clothed he was shivering with the cold, and he could feel his knees aching from supporting his weight for so long.
    He scrambled to his feet, correcting his tie and trying to get his thoughts into order.
    The sound of a peel of bells broke his concentration. He looked around to figure out where it came from, and realised it was emitting from his pocket. His phone was ringing.
    He wrestled the phone out of his pants, jabed one finger at the green icon to pick up the call, then put it to his ear.
    “Frank.” He said unsteadily.
    “Hello big boy!” An enthusiastic female voice said on the other end of the line.
    “Izzy?” He asked, his mind still reeling from the visit to the Oracle’s place.
    “The one and only.” Said the voice in the phone. “I have news of that thing you asked me about, meet me at the usual place in twenty minutes!”
    Frank was about to say something in answer to that, when the crisp sound of Izzy hanging up her phone interrupted him.
    He lovered his phone and stared at it with a puzzled look. Why had Izzy been so enthusiastic? Well, she was alway energetic to the point of madness, but hanging up before he could even affirm that he was coming to the meeting place, that was a bit much, even for her.

    Twenty minutes later, Frank walked into to a small café. Outside, people were still desperatly trying to get some christmas shopping done before the stores closed, but the inside of the café was blissfully free of holliday decorations.
    There were several guests seated around small round tables, drinking coffee, eating meals and having polite conversations.
    In the farthest corner, A girl had comandeered a table and held it against all commers. She wasn’t tall, or really big in any sense of the word. Not quite one sixty tall, and weighing less than sixty kilos, Izzy still manged to have a pressense about her. Everyone noticed when Izzy entered a room, and not just because of her loud voice.
    “Frank!” She greeted him, loud enough that everyone in the Café looked her way. She threw up one arm and waved at him, just in case the shout hadn’t been enough to draw his attention.
    He started towards her. Even without her vigorous greeting, he would have spotted Izzy a mile away. She had short spiky hair, dyed an angry orange colour, except for the tips, which were pitch black. Her clothes was a mix of the wardrobe of a rebellious teenager and that of some kind of cirkus performer. Judging by how torn up it was, probably a knife juggler.
    She was quite a character, but Frank knew that Izzy had good information. If she claimed to have something for him, she did have something. And since his gumshoing this far had thrown up nothing, and his visit at the oracle’s headspace hadn’t given him much more, he could really use some good leads.
    “Izzy.” He said as he walked up to her.
    The table was loaded with three diferent plates, each carrying a large piece of cake, and each paired with a cup of warm beverage. Tea, coffee, hot chokolate.
    “I didn’t know what you wanted.” Izzy explained when she saw him looking at the cake and the hot drinks. “So I just ordered for myself.”
    “I’ll just get a glass of water later.” Frank said and let himself sink onto a chair.
    “Killjoy.” Izzy said and stuck her tounge out at him.
    “I have to watch my calories.” Frank shot back.
    “Hah!” Izzy snorted. “You’ve never watched a calorie in your life.”
    “Guilty as charged.” He felt a smile spread on his lips, Izzy had a way of cheering him up. Maybe her high energy was just infectuous. “You had some info for me.”
    “Yeah!” She beamed, as she scooped up a big mouthful of chockolate cake and popped it in her mouth. She chewed fiercely, swallowed and then contiued. “I made some calls, and one of my contacts just got his hands on an old Grimmoire.”
    “That is convinient timing.” Frank said and adjusted his tie.
    “That’s what I thought!” Izzy smiled like a hungry tiger and took a bite from a cake which seemed to be constructed from pink clouds. “I can probably get him to spill some deatils….”
    “Probably?” Frank asked, sensing the trap.
    “If you make it worth my while.” She put on her most innocent face, which still looked like a todler caught with a face full of chocolate and a hand in the cookie jar.
    “What’s your price?” Frank asked wearily.
    “Just let me ride shotgun on this one, and we’ll call it even.” Izzy was still smiling, as she sipped her cup of cocoa.
    “You want to take part in the investigation?” Frank frowned. “Why?”
    “Because I’m bored.” She said, looking down at her cakes, as if deciding which to taste next.
    For a few seconds, Frank just watched his informant. Izzy didn’t need money, she never had. She could afford to go to a café and buy three pieces of cake and three hot drinks without worrying about the fact that she likely wouldn’t finish any of them.
    It was one of the reasons Frank had made sure to have good relations to her. Good information is damn hard to come by, and even harder if you’re short on cash. He wasn’t sure that he wanted her along on a case though. Izzy was in the business of passing on information, while discretion was the name of the game for Frank. Could he trust her to keep quiet?
    Thinking it through, he reached two important conclutions. He needed the money this case would bring in, and all the clues he had dug up this far had led him to dead ends. Getting a good lead on the grimoire would be a gift, and getting it almost for free would be just what the doctor ordered.
    “You keep quit and out of the way.” He said slowly. “And if there’s trouble you keep your head down.”
    “You’ll let me come along?” She was beeming like an eight year old on her birthday.
    He nodded, already regretting this decission.
    “Great!” She flashed him an other tiger’s grin and slid the third and untouched piece of cake across the table to him, then she pushed the cup of coffee along the same path.
    He looked down at the cake, and then up at her. He didn’t ask if she was sure, but he could feel the question settling on his face.
    “Go ahead.” she said, nodding with enough vigor to make her spiky hair vibrate. “I don’t really like coffee, and this chocolate cake is to awesome to waste.”
    He picked up the tiny fork and had a taste of the cake. It was some sort of marzipa construct, decorated with whipped cream and bits of fruit. It was delicious.
    “So what can you tell me about the grimmoire?” He asked and sipped the coffee.
    “My contact just got the book today.” She was too distracted by the chocolate cake to look at him. “He says it’s a rare piece, and if an old grimmoire was stolen less than twelve hours ago, that seems like a bit too much of a coincidence.”
    “Yeah.” Frank savored another sip of cofee. “Do you think he can give us the name of the guy who sold it to him?”
    “That one is iffy.” She said. “He likes to keep his clients’ confidence.”
    “Is he a fence?” Frank asked. He could feel this lead getting more complicated. It was giving him a headache.
    “Uhm…” Izzy suddenly poured a lot of attention into getting the maximum amount of cake onto her tiny fork.
    “It’s a yes or no question Izzy.” Frank pointed out, as he set down the cofee cup.
    “He doesn’t ask questions, okay.” Izzy shot back. “He isn’t encouraging people to sell their hot items to him, but he isn’t discouraging them either.”
    “I get it.” Frank drummed one finger on the table. “Innocence by way of ignorance.”

  23. - Top - End - #1313
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Glass Mouse's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    The Icy North
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Phew! I managed 521 words of character background, three pearls for practice, and a character portrait. The pictures aren't in the usual document right now, but I'll put them up in an hour at the latest (I'm on my way home right now).

    Edit: Images are up
    Last edited by Glass Mouse; 2018-01-08 at 12:05 PM.
    Spoiler
    Show


    Challenge badge
    , courtesy of HeadlessMermaid.

    Avatar courtesy of the talented Neoriceisgood. Features Pumpkin from my webcomic.


  24. - Top - End - #1314
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Status for January 1 to January 7!


    Glass Mouse passes with 521 words of character background, three painted pearls and one character portrait.

    Lycunadari passes with seven nature photos.

    jseah passes with 1527 words of Hero's War.

    Xiander passes with 1666 words of Masks.

    3WhiteFox3 didn't upload/send me anything.


    Thus 3WhiteFox3 FAILS this round!

    Glass Mouse, Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!


    Congratulations to jseah for passing for 100 weeks!


    Current standing:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Glass Mouse
    Current run: 1 week
    Longest run: 290 weeks
    Themes: -

    Lycunadari
    Current run: 261 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 100 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 79 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    3WhiteFox3
    Current run: -
    Longest run: 1 week
    Themes: -


    LeSwordfish
    Longest run: 44 weeks

    Icewalker
    Longest run: 31 weeks

    Lovely Vulcan
    Longest run: 3

    You can call me Juniper.
    Please use gender-neutral pronouns (they/their or ze/hir) when referring to me.

    Stories (Not just German anymore!) DeviantArt

    Lycunadari

  25. - Top - End - #1315
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Cute Earth's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2018

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Hi!

    I'm very, very new here (this is my second post), but I was checking things out and came across this thread. I haven't written anything in a long time but I used to write a lot. Looking back everything I used to write seems really embarrassing to me now, but I want to get back into it because I'm working on becoming an English teacher. This seems like a fun driving force to get myself to write more.

  26. - Top - End - #1316
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cute Earth View Post
    Hi!

    I'm very, very new here (this is my second post), but I was checking things out and came across this thread. I haven't written anything in a long time but I used to write a lot. Looking back everything I used to write seems really embarrassing to me now, but I want to get back into it because I'm working on becoming an English teacher. This seems like a fun driving force to get myself to write more.
    Welcome to the playground, and more specifically to the challenge.
    I hope you'll have fun and get a lot of writing done

  27. - Top - End - #1317
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    1502 words for this week. It feels like cheating when I just barely make it past the minimum wordcount...

    Spoiler: Masks, part five
    Show
    Izzy shrugged and ate more cake.
    “So what do we do?” Frank asked. “I need something that can lead me to the thief.”
    “We go take a look, and I see if I can get my friend to spill something useful.” Izzy said cheerfully. “And you see if this really is the book you’re looking for.”
    “Seems like a plan.” Frank sipped the coffee. “Lets finish our cakes and go.”
    Izzy beamed at him and took another bite of chocolate cake.
    The pawnshop was located in a small side street, away from most of the christmas rush. All the storefronts here had seen better days, and most of them sold questionable merchandice. A bookstore with a sign in the door warning people not to bring their children inside was next to a windo featuring a lot of mannequins clad in poorly concealing leather dresses.
    Izzy waltzed past the seedy shops, smiling widely, and apparantly oblivious to the nature of the street she was on.
    “This is the place.” She said, pointing to the door to the pawnshop.
    “Let’s step inside.” Frank suggested.
    Izzy’s eyes sparkled as she pushed open the door and stepped inside. The eager excitement rolling off her struck Frank like a hammer. This was apparantly a great adventure for her. To him it was pretty routine, but he suppsed she hadn’t done the treassuere hunt thing as often as she had.
    Following her into the shop, Frank found himself in a veritable treassure trove. Every bit of the room he was in held something of value. Perhaps not great monetary value, but every object in here had at one point been a dear to someones heart. People think they pawn off things with monetary value, which they can do without, but that’s often dead wrong.
    When you find yourself needing money bad enough to pawn off something you own, the sad truth is that you tend to misjudge what’s valuable. People get their emotions mixed up in judgements like that, and end up thinking the most valuable thing they own is the thing they care most about.
    Frank could feel the emotions radiating off every object in the room. There were paintings, books, jewelery and more, all of it charged with the thoughts and emotions of their previous owners.
    The door swung shut behind him, and a loud ringing sound jarred him out of his reverie. He started slightly, and Izzy sent him a surprised look. Apparantly the emotional feedback he got from the room was lost on her.
    “Be right with you.” A voice said from the far end of the pawnshop.
    Izzy shot him a mischievious glance, then set about exploring the vast array of lost treassures. Frank waited, a bit uncomfortable. He couldn’t look anywhere without experiencing a sense of loss and regret. In the end he went to the counter and shut his eyes focusing on the purpose of the visit.
    A dor opened and shut, and he heard footsteps from the back of the store. Hoping to meet the store owner, he opened his eyes, and looked around.
    The man who came around the nearest corner was not the owner of the pawnshop. He was squat and heavy set, but a full head shorter than Frank, he whore a white shirt and a suitjacket, but it made him look more like mobster than a gentleman. The adition of a well worn bowler hat did nothing to offset that immage.
    “Frank?” The man asked in a voice like ash and gravel. “Is this gonna be one of those jobs then?”
    “Looks that way.” Frank felt a deep frown settling on his face. “Long time no see, Magnus.”
    For a long second they just watched each other, both trying to size the other up. Frank knew the man in front of him pretty well. They had both worked as retrievers for the company, for long enough to be well aquainted with each other. They were colleagues, and by the nature of their job, rivals.
    When the money goes to the first person to bring back what was stolen, a healthy ammount of competition is bound to rise between everyone involved. More than once, Frank and Magnus had worked the same case and fought fiercely to be the one to actually earn the paycheck.
    This was going to be one of those cases then, and Frank felk like he was already a step behind. He noticed that the other retriver was carrying a large leatherbound tome under one arm, and couldn’t help but sigh.
    “You found the first item?” He asked.
    “Yeah.” Magnus didn’t quite smile, but his mouth quirked upwards for a split second. “You’ll understand that I can’t share the details.”
    “Got it.” Frank said, getting out his pack of gum and popping two pieces in his mouth.
    “I should be off.” Magnus said, and nodded at him. “I have four more pieces of harware to locate.”
    “Good hunting.” Frank said.
    With a grunt, Magnus pushed past him and out the door. Frank whatched the other man through the window in the door, as he paused outside to light a cigar, then walked out of sight, pace brisk.
    “Second finder.” Frank mumbled under his breath.
    This was a bothersome turn of events. If he was to earn any money on this job, he had to figure out a way to beat Magnus to the other stolen items.
    “Friend of yours?” Izzy asked from right beside him.
    Frank jumped in surprise, then collected himself and faced her.
    “Colleague.” He said dryly, and chewed his gum.
    “He just left with the book Frank.” Izzy tilted her head as she spoke, her voice sounded sceptical.
    “Yeah.” Frank made a helpless gesture. “Finder’s keepers. We don’t steal each other’s finds.”
    “Honour among thieves?” Izzy smiled her tiger’s smile and pointed into the shop. “Art, will answer your questions, as long as you dont push him about the things he can’t say.”
    “I suppose it can’t hurt.” Frank mumbled and chewed his gum thoughtfully.
    They found the man called Art around a corner, sorting a bunch of old books onto a shelf.
    “Good day.” He said smiling a lobsided smile.
    Art was younger than frank by at least five years. He had a shaggy beard which didn’t make him seem as old and wise as he probably wanted. He wore a black sweater and a set of well used glasses.
    “You’re the pawnbroker?” Frank went right to the questions, no time to waste if Magnus was his competition.
    “I run the shop.” Art agreed. “Izzy tells me you have questions about the book.”
    “A couple.” Frank nodded. “But mostly about the man who brought it in.”
    “I don’t know anything good.” Art held up one hand preemptively warding off questions. “I make it a point not to ask for names or adresses.”
    “I know.” Frank said, trying to sound patient and understanding. He didn’t really think he pulled it off. “Do you remember how he looked? When he came in?”
    “He was here last night, just before I closed.” Art said, voice thoughtful as he concentrated on remembering. He put two more books onto the shelf, then spoke again. “He was a big fellow, wore a leather jacket.”
    “Tatoo of a snake on one hand?” Frank asked.
    “How did you know?” Art looked surprised.
    “Lucky guess.” Frank said.
    The other man eyed him sceptically, then proceeded to put more books onto the shelves.
    “Anyways, he took cash as payment and left in a hurry.” He said, his eyes on the book. “The guy who was just here bought the book for three times what I gave for it.”
    “That’s a good deal for you.” Frank pointed out.
    “It’s what I do.” There was no shame to Art’s voice. “People don’t know what they have, and I sell it to people who know. Sometimes people hand me something dear to them and I sell it back to them half a year later and still make a profit. I gotta eat man.”
    It was obviously a line of discussion Art had been down enough times to know it by rote. Frank didn’t bother to moralize. It wouldn’t change Art’s mind, and people chose for them selves to come here. No sense in making a fuzz.
    “If you don’t ask for names, how do you know who sold you what?” Frank asked, taking the conversation back to the topic at hand.
    “Reciepts.” Art said simply.
    “What if someone writes their own reciept?” Frank pushed.
    With a sigh, Art rose to his feet, leaving a stack of unshelved books on the floor. He shot a glance at Izzy, who was happily padding around the room, looking at all the merchandice with unbridled enthusiasm.
    “I’ll show you.” He said, and walked towards the counter at the front of the store.
    Frank followed him, chewing thoughtfully. Maybe there was a way of figuring this all out, or at leaset finding the man with the snake tatoo.

  28. - Top - End - #1318
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    640 words for a BAHHSCQ omake (still under construction)
    Spoiler
    Show
    "Aisha! Come look at this! It's so huge!"
    The bundle of yellow hair runs down the corridor like an unstoppable freight train. The viewing deck near the top of the residential block is lined with floor to ceiling windows, a great view of the spiraling architecture of what is essentially a hole in the ground.
    No, I shouldn't say that. This arcology is where we will be living in after all. And the way the triangular plates were designed to catch the light along with the great amount of open air was as far beyond a 'hole in the ground' as a Valkyrie was before a pre-Impact helicopter.
    "Yomi! Not so fast! We still have to get back in time for orientation!" I call after her.
    "But it's still two hours away! And the dawn in an arcology is really different from the outside! I can see the flatness of the sun from here! And-"
    Just like every other time, Yomi zooms back to my side with a bright grin and ever present chatter. And just like every other time, I filter the word vomit mentally. Nothing has changed, even though it feels like everything has.
    I thumb the empty hook for holding the Valkyrie Core on my uniform's belt.
    I met Yomi in a Japanese refugee camp. My family were lucky enough to have all survived, including even my three year old baby brother. Yomi was my next door neighbour, next tent for the first three weeks. While I don't normally like the hyper and chatterbox personality type, Yomi grows on you like a particularly tenacious mold. How she managed to remain so cheery in a line 3 camp, I have no idea.
    Given how much of my sanity in those days depended on her, that we became friends was inevitable really.
    And then of course, in a general sweep that everyone in our street signed up for, on patriotic principle, I and Yomi turned up compatible.
    "Hey, what are you spacing out for?"
    I shake out a questing hand from my hair. She doesn't have to rub it in that she's taller than me every time! "I'll be fine. Just thinking. "
    That narrowed eye gaze would appear to be overacting to others, but that's just how Yomi is. I cannot help but smile and huff at her worry.
    "Don't you end up browsing the net so much that you walk into a wall. Seriously, we're Valkyries now, you can't just do undignified stuff like that!"
    What?! She dares bring that up! I'll- grr! "That was one time! And I got used to it quickly!"
    Yomi grins knowingly. "You still have that newsfeed in one corner though. "
    How?!
    "I can see your eyes flicking up every time something updates. "
    That... how did Yomi even notice that? I was taking care not to be- hey, wait a minute. "How do you even know when the newsfeed updates? Do you have one in your vision too?"
    I don't even need to wait for her reply, the little smirk on her face is reply enough. "It's not like you're any better! Reading romance novels and giggling to yourself," I fire back and cut off with a sigh. How she always manages to get under my skin but not irritate me enough to get angry is a mystery. "It's not even orientation and I'm already tired. Let's head back, unless you want to explore the arcology further?"
    Yomi pats my head again but her hand meets a hard wall of impeller. Heh.
    She just grins. "Nah, let's head back to our room. We all know you take forever to get dressed. "
    "Not anymore!"
    "Do I need to talk about that black dress- ugh!"


    866 words for Hero's War
    Spoiler
    Show
    "Hey, you had a great night?"
    Cato frowned as the other man took a seat across from him. Bashal, the ironworker's chief inventor, flashed him a brilliant grin.
    "It was okay, how was yours?" Cato replied bemusedly.
    "Oh come on, don't be like that, I want details!" Bashal hinted heavily.
    But Cato had no idea what he was hinting at, all he could do was give the big man a confused look.
    A moment's pause. "Don't tell me nothing happened last night?"
    "No? We had some new ideas for experiments on the Aura Light magic. It's very promising but we couldn't do the experiments in my room of course. Other than that, Landar certainly adapted better to my room's devices than-"
    Bashal slowly brought his hand to his face, "you suck, man. You really suck. -"
    "I'm starting to regret introducing internet slang to you..."
    "- she went to your room, had a romantic lunch affair, used your shower! There's hinting and there's beating you over the head with a stick!" Bashal sighed.
    Cato frowned at him, "okay, how did you even know she used my shower?"
    "There's no way Landar would ever not use a new magical device. Also, she walked back to her lab in your bathrobe," Bashal gave him a flat stare.
    "Good point. "
    "Anyone who knows anyone important in the city going to expect you two to announce your engagement any day now. "
    There was another pause before Bashal sighed and continued, "look, Cato, be honest here. Is there any reason why you two aren't together yet?"
    Cato considered the question, and then thought some more. Enough so that Bashal grew fed up and interrupted his thinking.

    "Um. "
    Cato looked up from his paperwork, stifling the regret that he had ever introduced the printing press. The astronomer he was funding out of his own pocket stood in front of his desk.
    "Ah! Telv! Did you find a planet? Or maybe the star charts?"
    Telv fidgeted and frowned but stayed silent. It dragged on and on and when Cato was just about to speak up, she suddenly blurted out, "I found something on Selna. I think. Maybe. "
    It was much later that night that Telv, Cato and Landar were at the little observatory built some distance away from the main city. Shielded from light as best as they could, the thirty centimeter lens was decent enough to see details on huge Selna.
    Yet, at that time, Cato had never wished for a bigger telescope or better lenses. Trial and error grinding was expensive and didn't yield good lenses.
    "Might be metallic. I think I saw the sunlight flash off the surface. Tch, the image isn't good enough. " Cato said as he scribbled blindly on the notepad next to the telescope.
    Telv nodded off to the side. "Any idea what that is?"
    "Looks artificial," Cato wrinkled his nose, "I don't think gas giants have metal pins in them. "
    He stepped away from the telescope to let Landar have a go.
    The strange object showed as a barely visible line on the surface of Selna. Placed quite far 'north', it avoided the major storm belt in the equatorial region, staying in a somewhat calmer region. As to what it was, according to Telv, she had been watching it as Selna rotated on its axis. The object grew and shrunk in length based on the time of the Selna day. It did move across the surface of the planet, at least its appearance and disappearance times were slowly drifting, but its movement was clearly slower than the clouds.
    This implied all sorts of things that made Cato's eye twitch.
    It looked like someone had stuck tiny pin into Selna's impenetrable lower cloud deck. It didn't seem to be made of clouds either. But a solid object on a gas giant? How did it stay above the crushing depths? What under all of Selna's red light could possibly survive on the unimaginably harsh conditions of a gas giant?
    The existence of the Thing made Cato want to scream.
    Better yet, how did it get there? If it was natural, Cato would dearly love to see what natural process could possibly make that. If it was artificial, and this was looking likely, then 'how'? 'How' everything. And he could add 'why' to the open ended question stack.
    "I don't know what that could be either. It's not something mentioned in legends," Landar murmured, eye glued to the telescope.
    Cato rubbed his temples. He wasn't feeling a headache but it seemed like the proper thing to do. "There's nothing we can do about it. We can't even fly, let's not talk about a space program, yeah? I'll buy you a bigger telescope when we work out the lens shape equations, but... I'm sorry. "
    Telv bowed, accepting his apologies with only a resigned air. She was quite used to people dismissing her interest in the night sky, at least Cato was interested even if he couldn't do anything beyond throw money at the problem.

  29. - Top - End - #1319
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    I saw a very fearless (or very hungry) squirrel this. It didn't care at all that I was standing right next to it, I think if I had some nut with me it even would have eaten them out of my hand. Link! (Also includes some other nature pics and a bird.)
    You can call me Juniper.
    Please use gender-neutral pronouns (they/their or ze/hir) when referring to me.

    Stories (Not just German anymore!) DeviantArt

    Lycunadari

  30. - Top - End - #1320
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE chugs on!

    Status for January 8 to January 14!


    Glass Mouse didn't upload/send me anything.

    Lycunadari passes with three squirrel photos, seven nature photos and one bird photo.

    jseah passes with 866 words of Hero's War and 640 words of a BAHHSCQ omake.

    Xiander passes with 1502 words of Masks.

    3WhiteFox3 didn't upload/send me anything. Are you still participating?


    Thus Glass Mouse and 3WhiteFox3 FAIL this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!



    Current standing:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Glass Mouse
    Current run: -
    Longest run: 290 weeks
    Themes: -

    Lycunadari
    Current run: 262 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 101 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 80 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    3WhiteFox3
    Current run: -
    Longest run: 1 week
    Themes: -


    LeSwordfish
    Longest run: 44 weeks

    Icewalker
    Longest run: 31 weeks

    Lovely Vulcan
    Longest run: 3



    ----

    Quote Originally Posted by Cute Earth View Post
    Hi!

    I'm very, very new here (this is my second post), but I was checking things out and came across this thread. I haven't written anything in a long time but I used to write a lot. Looking back everything I used to write seems really embarrassing to me now, but I want to get back into it because I'm working on becoming an English teacher. This seems like a fun driving force to get myself to write more.
    Welcome! Just post what you write or a link to it here or send it to me in a PM and I'll add you to the status post.
    You can call me Juniper.
    Please use gender-neutral pronouns (they/their or ze/hir) when referring to me.

    Stories (Not just German anymore!) DeviantArt

    Lycunadari

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •