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  1. - Top - End - #151
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for March 11 to March 17!


    Lycunadari passes with 5 nature photos, one portrait and one other painting.

    jseah passes with 2074 words for Hero's War.


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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 323 weeks
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    -----

    Flowers and stuff! Elf portrait! And what's the opposite of portrait? Elf person from behind?
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

    Stories

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  2. - Top - End - #152
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    1964 words for Hero's War
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    Erin cursed when the white flare went up. She knew the approach to the city was too easy, clearly this place held some surprises. The location was... in grid D1, right where the worst of the fire damage was.
    Distant cracks, barely audible. Gunfire. Then the distant roar washed over the encampment. The shriek was like nothing she had heard before, no animal or person could have made that sound, nor at that volume. The rekis in the camp were yelping in barely constrained panic, a similar ripple washed over the soldiers. Fear and doubt, with an undercurrent of tension.
    Something terrible had awoken, was the feeling of everyone who heard it.
    "Fast response one, go and kill it!" Erin snapped, not bothering to wait for the messenger doubtless on their way to her. Whatever it was, it needed to be crushed, immediately.
    One of the messengers waiting near the command center immediately dashed off to his bicycle and pedaled away. The Minmay 2nd Guard she had reserved was divided into three groups of three hundred each, with twenty summoners plus five of the new spell cannons attached to each group. Like the Model 2, spell cannons had also received an improvement. Mounted on reki-drawn carriages with powerful suspensions, the new spell cannons were meant to support flying columns like this.
    The base to elevate the barrels for high angle anti-air work was too heavy to transport quickly, so when moved like this with the response groups, they only had direct fire. They were no less deadly however, especially not with the special ammunition. No zombie nightcryers had been spotted however, so there was little risk of that.
    The messenger from the exploration squads returned a few minutes after the first group departed.
    "Commander!" the young man, practically still a boy, skidded to a halt in front of the command post and saluted her. "Scout squad in D1 reports they have encountered a new monster. It appears to be a bony worm roughly three meters high and ten meters long. Heavily armoured. It fires light beams from its mouth. Guns and fire ineffective!"
    Guns and fire was ineffective? That was their main weapons negated! Erin thought furiously. The summoners and spell cannons were their only hope then?
    "Send out the special summoner squad," Erin said.
    She hoped she would not regret using all her backup plans immediately.

    "Are the reinforcements not here yet?!" Kobel yelled as the bone worm lurched down the street in a horrible parody of life.
    What was left of his squad, less than half, had retreated towards the open hole in the city walls. Along the way, they had been joined in the retreat by two other squads as the fighting drew them to support him.
    "The messenger must have reached them minutes ago. The response squads can't get here that -!" the other squad's commander yelled back.
    His words were drowned out by the discordant shriek of the worm as it barreled through the street, slamming into a stone and wood building as bullets peppered it from all sides. A shower of broken rubble swept over it but the worm crawled out, none the worse for the wear. None of the scouts were out in the open any more as the light beam vapourized anyone standing in the worm's way.
    The only comfort was that the worm did not use it often and the beam was quite short ranged compared to the normal shooters. Its conical shape was only lethal out to about twenty meters. It would still easily blind anyone it hit who wasn't facing away, even if they were much further away.
    Half their fighters were unable to fight or dead. All their efforts and fireshells had yielded only a series of pockmarks and half the worm's armour on one side sloughing off. As Kobel watched, a spell storm of forcebolts sailed in from behind the worm and splashed across the side. Chunks of bone and flesh ripped away, the top layer of the weakened armour simply blowing apart.
    The worm turned around, blasting a wide light beam at the source of the forcebolts. The spell storm had already anticipated that however and she was already gone before the building flashed into a pyre.
    What made the worm so much more deadly than normal zombies was its intelligence. Shooters barely attracted any attention from it, the worm would chase after and try to run them down with its bulk, but it saved its deadly beam for things that threatened it. The monster had a rudimentary instinct that made its advantages so much more terrible.
    Ironically, the common forcebolt was the best answer they had. For whatever reason, the aura was very strong on the inside of the worm, but its armour was only poorly defended against direct magical attacks. Forcebolts were only half as effective, judging by the showers of stone and wood chips that flew everywhere whenever someone missed, but that was still better than a bullet that only broke a piece of armour.
    The problem was that they were fast running low on magical power. A third of the guns had run dry and the rest were not far behind. If this simple trap didn't work...
    Kobel leveled his gun at the worm as it turned back to the street. It crawled forwards with sudden speed, aiming for the building sheltering most of the three squads' casualties.
    "Fire!" Kobel yelled.
    Soldiers spread all over the buildings to either side of the street, Fukas perched on the roofs and every one of the injured who could still hold a gun opened fire at once. Forcebolts slammed in from three sides in a deadly crossfire that presented no relief to the worm. Its weak facing could not be protected and the hail of forcebolts tore chunks off it, slowly deepening the wounds.
    It shrieked again, but the soldiers were getting used to the cry. The steady stream of attacks barely faltered, but when it sprayed the building to its left with the beam, a third of the soldiers were silenced as they evacuated the suddenly burning buildings. From the desperate screams of the dying, a few had been caught in the beam as well. There would be no saving them.
    Kobel fired and fired until his gun refused to comply. The magic had run out.
    All across the area, the only ones still firing were those who had escaped its breath and returned to fight. The worm was writhing, looking much smaller now. Deep gashes in the mixed bone and stone armour were everywhere, exposing the zombie crystals underneath. The zombie aura was spilling out in deadly wisps.
    Had they almost killed it, only to be left inadequate at the last moment?
    Then the worm rolled over the ground. The ground filled with rubble and torn bits of street and buildings and shattered zombie bone. In its wake was only the larger slabs of stone and bare soil.
    Kobel cursed as the worm began to get fatter again. It regenerated its armour?!
    Another white flare shot upwards, from somewhere in the middle of the city. A far off, and familiar, shriek echoed over the city.
    This was just unfair.
    The hasty retreat almost turned into a rout when the worm caught up to them, but Kobel managed to get everyone to stick together and haul the injured back towards the entrance. They were practically down to nothing but steel blades and muscle power. The worm was only one street behind and they were all getting tired.
    So when the collapsed wall section came in sight and there was a group of bicycles being hauled over, the squads nearly collapsed in relief.

    The wall itself was six meters high of rough stone, stacked and bound with cement. With the base of the wall still present almost a meter above ground, the broken section of wall doubled as a raised firing platform as the advance party of bicycle riders readied themselves to fight the horror.
    The retreating squads reached the wall to find that half the special response squad were bicycle riding summoners, their escorts carrying fresh guns and spare ammunition. While majority of the exhausted scouts began to evacuate their injured over the fallen wall, the rest hastily rearmed themselves and spread the word to use force bolts.
    "Plain force. " Yan muttered as the scout squad leader finished explaining their findings. He nodded at the listening messenger and the girl dashed off on her bicycle to report to the army's command.
    "Swordstones, shieldwall and bladewall only. Wisp holders assist me. " Yan commanded. If living fire was not good, then magical flame was probably worse. Too bad his Ritual class stone was Frostfire and probably also ineffective.
    The summoners arranged their line. Planes of force, sharp and dull edges both, sprang into existence, covering the line with a cloudy wall of squares and rectangles. Yan climbed up to a higher point, but still within reach of the summoners who didn't have stones that used force.
    The crunching of stone got closer. Then the worm rolled into view, barreling through a shattered building.
    "Pin it down," Yan said. The assembled and charged phantoms all shot forwards, slamming into the worm from all sides. Blades cut deep, though their edges immediately began to dull as the zombie aura ate at them. Shieldwalls trapped the worm's sides and tail, pressing it into the ground.
    The worm ground to a halt more than forty meters away. Immediately, the escorting soldiers began to open fire, bullets and forcebolts splashing all over it.
    "The summons won't last," reported the summoner wielding Bladewall. He was a strong one, a cousin of one of the Third family if Yan recalled correctly. Already some of the summoners were reforming their phantoms and replacing them as the ones in the field continued to erode.
    Yan began to charge his magic.
    Power flooded the air and everyone's magic sense dimmed in response to the massive flare behind them. One summoner who could wield ritual class alone, fed power from three other summoners; the quantities of magic were greater than even a spell cannon charging a powerful shot.
    The worm shrieked and thrashed at the bindings, but the summoners held their concentration. These were the best of the summoners and it would take far more than unnatural sounds to faze them.
    Yan took his time forming a truly massive forcebolt. It was slightly different from the standard and was a ball the size of a person's chest.
    Perhaps sensing the danger, the zombie worm attempted to fire its beam from its mouth, but the summoners were ready for it. An overlapping layer of shieldwalls flew around to block the beam right in front of the worm's mouth. The flash of light was dazzling, but harmless. The shields, being non-material, needed virtually no power to deflect the deadly cone of light.
    With a coordination almost like a dance, the curtain of magic parted once the beam died down. Right behind it was the ball.
    The forcebolt sailed into the worm's mouth.
    A heartbeat later, the entire worm blew apart. Bits of zombie flesh, bone and chunks of buildings flew outwards, bouncing off everything and sailing high into the air. The shock wave from the explosion even cracked the street below. Dust and zombie bits rained down from above.
    "Spread out and find any magic. Disrupt it then burn it," Yan commanded.
    The group rushed to finish off whatever pieces they could find.
    Yan looked at the crater, idly brushing off a piece of zombie that landed in his hair.
    "Even an old summoner can learn new spells. "

  3. - Top - End - #153
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for March 18 to March 14!


    Lycunadari passes with 8 forest photos and one sunset photo.

    jseah passes with 1964 words for Hero's War.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 324 weeks
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    jseah
    Current Run: 163 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
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    One sunset, and a bunch of forest pics.
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

    Stories

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  4. - Top - End - #154
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    346 for Hero's War
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    Erin watched the flares shoot upwards as the shrieks of the monsters echoed out over the army not busy with exploration. As she thought with the first worm monster, they were concentrated around the ruined section of the city. How or why she did not know but her role was to put them down.
    "Orders," she said, watching the messengers around her perk up with attention, "all except you and you, go into the city and recall all scouts. Scouts to reform at entry points then move to the south gate to aid in the defence. Go, and stay safe. "
    To their credit, the unarmed and mostly young boys and girls of the army messengers all went without complaint. Erin spotted traces of worry and fear but they were willing to obey instructions despite the higher risk than usual.
    "One message to the special summoner squad, pull back and return to the south gate. " There was only one girl left.
    Erin paused then nodded to herself. No point hesitating now. "Go into the city and proceed down the south big street, all squads you find are to perform a fighting retreat and draw as many of the monsters towards the gate as possible. "
    As the less messenger sped off, Erin looked around at the remaining commanders of the forces that stayed in the back area. "Set up the spell cannons pointing towards the south gate. Keep in mind that there are our soldiers retreating through it. I do not want the spell cannons to kill anyone by mistake. All summoners to back up the spell cannons. The Minmay 2nd Guard are to aid in creating dugouts and defences for the spell cannons while time permits. "
    If guns were poorly effective, perhaps spell cannons could work. They also had improved ammunition after all.
    The report from the special summoner squad had not yet returned. Perhaps they had not yet even started fighting. Erin was going to have to bet on the spell cannons working.
    "Divert all messages to the south gate defence. I have to be there. "


    1184 for Singer (temp title)
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    The room was well-lit, just bright enough to see clearly, but dim enough to not hurt her eyes.
    She turned over and gurgled at the face, feeling a little hungry. A hand reached into the cot and she drank from the bottle before returning to sleep.

    Richard hefted his sword uncomfortably as he stepped further into the empty marble building. The uniform whiteness and lack of people was unnerving. After the villages of women with not a single men, all terrified and avoiding him, this island of Ultimate Evil was turning out to be rather unlike what he had expected.
    Exestar touched his shoulder to offer her support. He nodded at her appreciatively as the song she hummed under her breath calmed his nervousness. The tune just below the edge of hearing wouldn't have much power but he felt better.

    The young boy held out his father's sword with fire in his eyes, the slave trader sneering at him. As more and more guards began to crowd into the open square, the nobles at the slave auction jeered him.
    To be honest, he hadn't planned much ahead. Seeing that girl under chains being bid on had snapped something in him and now he was probably going to die. And so would she.
    He glanced back at the girl, with an unspoken apology. She held his gaze for a moment before dropping her eyes. Then she began to sing.

    Richard pushed open a door cautiously. The three women in the kitchen were all different again, as if they had been plucked from all over the world. Like the rest, they had squeaked in surprise and backed away from him. He eyed the meal being prepared and closed the door behind him.
    Exestar kept up her simple unheard song, encouraging him to go on.

    The boy watched as she gnawed at the rabbit bone hungrily. The girl didn't appear to know anything at all, apart from how to talk. And sing. He could see why all the nobles had wanted to keep her like a songbird. Her voice was beyond heavenly when she was singing, it had an otherwordly quality that seemed to reached straight in and change the world.
    To a large extent, he thought that was what happened back at the market square. And why they were out in the country trying to evade pursuit.

    The white corridors lead to a central large room at the bottom of the entire building. It was here he had to confront whatever evil had been plaguing the world. Exestar nodded to him and let her song die as he pushed open the door.
    The wide open space was nearly empty except for a small wooden stool and an middle-aged man rocking a small cot.
    The man looked up at them, seeming to look right through Richard. Exestar cowered behind him.

    "Once in a high place, I was created. Cast out from my place, I was thrown into the world. To find my own place, suffering was known to me. "
    The girl, who called herself Exestar, looked sadly at the wooden railings. The songs she sang had a language, that much Richard was sure of. He understood the meaning of what she was singing, despite being completely unable to repeat the words she actually used.
    The deck of the boat rocked beneath them. Paying off the head-price on her had taken months of bounty hunting and mercenary work. Richard was sure he couldn't have done it without her songs to help him. Now they were heading to a new land, and a new life.
    He still wasn't sure what to think of the girl. She never seemed to do anything by herself.

    "Welcome back," the man said, nodding once to Exestar.
    The girl looked blankly at him. Richard stepped in front of her, "Don't try your tricks. I have come to find her soul. "
    The man sighed and flicked a finger. Exestar gasped and twitched, suddenly feeling weak. As she clung to Richard for support, the man said, "There, it is done. "
    "What?" Richard regarded him suspiciously.
    "Her soul? You came to find it for her did you not? You have it now. Or was that not enough?"
    Richard turned back to Exestar, who only looked slightly confused.
    "Don't mess with us, I'll..."
    "Or you'll what?" the man shrugged.
    "Exestar, can you sing?" The girl nodded back. "Sing Luminous Rain for me?"
    She nodded and took a step back as Richard drew his sword. The glittering gems on the hilt and guard shone with risen magic.

    Richard stabbed upwards with his sword, cursing for the lack of money for fire gems. He felt the blade pass through the ghostly dragon but the fire around his blade burned away at the ethereal being.
    Exestar's song continued, echoes and supernatural voices chorusing with the magic. The fire blade enchantment was something she had just managed to learn and it took a heavy toll on her. Richard tore aside the blade back to a readied stance, feeling the innate magic in his body draining to force it through. He could not let Exestar shoulder the entire burden.
    The dragon roared in protest against her song, the dissonance draining its power. Richard quickly bled more magic to stab it again, the draining feeling in his legs warning him of possible danger.
    The ghostly image tore apart, leaving Richard kneeling on the ground in pain. He pushed aside the fire in his legs when he heard Exestar quietly collapse behind him.

    Richard smashed the shield again and again, light pouring off his sword, but the man inside didn't react. The hemispherical translucent bubble deflect all his hits with ease.
    The sword rang again, the magic around the blade suddenly resonating in time with Exestar's song. The magic spat and flared brighter. Richard nodded back at Exestar in appreciation and she smiled back, the song shifting.
    The light streamed around her hands and shot forward to the bubble, smashing aside the ward.
    Richard, sword still glowing, charged forward to the man, only to bounce off another slightly smaller shield. The man raised an eyebrow, "I'm surprised, you've been using Harmony Crystals?"
    He shook his head as Richard's sword and Exestar's light beam merely bounced off the new shield, "Do you even know what they are?"
    "What do I care?" Richard snarled as he hacked futilely against the shield. The song changed again, seeming to resonate to his bones. Suddenly speeding up, Richard turned into a blur of whirling steel and light that smashed through the second shield. There was a third below it. "It is a proof of our bond, between a Singer and her guardian. "
    "You've been inside her mind haven't you?" the man sighed and looked at Exestar with a sad expression, "It's not safe you know. Not ethical either. "
    The baby inside the cot murmured a little but settled back down, undisturbed by the events going on outside.

  5. - Top - End - #155
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for March 25 to March 31!


    Lycunadari passes with 8 flower photos.

    jseah passes with 346 words for Hero's War and 1184 words for Singer.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 325 weeks
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    jseah
    Current Run: 164 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -



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

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

    Stories

    Do you like writing? Drawing? Being creative? Come join the CHALLENGE!

  6. - Top - End - #156
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    2206 words for Hero's War
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    "Get the spell cannons in line! The monsters won't wait for you!"
    Outside the city, past the ruins of the south gate, was an open field that might have once held farmland. It now bustled with activity of a very different sort. Soldiers dug at the ground, spellcannons were sighted and ammunition made ready. In the distance, the occasional roar of the oncoming bone worms served as ample encouragement.
    Beside the spell cannons lay the ammunition. Piles of crystals, canisters of compressed magic and more importantly, a pile of large metal cylinders.
    Each of the cylinders had a diameter of about half a fist and were a handspan wide. Each of them was also tipped with a metal cone.
    Indeed, they looked a lot like Landar's rockets. These were made from failed rocket bodies, whose design had been chosen to fit in a spell cannon barrel. While not meeting the tolerances required to achieve the accuracy and stability for long range rocket use, these discards had been repurposed for making spelllcannon ammunition. Their high numbers compared to the rockets' spoke of how ridiculous the tolerances for rockets were, there were simply far more rejects turning into shells than successful rocket bodies.
    The body and conical tip were enchanted with disruption alchemy. Based on the shield piercing experiments, it had been hoped that these ammunition would be able to deliver a living fire payload into the middle of a zombie aura. Without the need to carry rocket propellant, the entire projectile body had been filled with an oversized liquid fire canister, that itself had been enchanted to explode open on impact.
    Cato called them 'shells' but of course no one had the required history to understand why he had chosen that name.
    Bone worms didn't have an aura outside their armour but Erin hoped the shells would pierce them anyway. Cato had explained that physical projectiles were more efficient than force bolts and that the worms' armour would hopefully only be effective against small bullets.
    Erin looked at the man standing to one side with the summoners, watching the preparations and the city. For all his reputation, Cato had not contributed to the military campaign in any way that Erin could see. Though he did stay out of her way.
    The distant roars were getting closer, individual cracks of gunfire became clearer with shortening distance. From the sounds of the fighting, the worms were heading towards the south gate. The soldiers' enthusiasm for defensive barriers became visibly more pronounced.
    Erin waited and watched as the first few ranging shots were fired into the city. Despite the risk of friendly fire on the retreating scouts, the ranging shots were necessary to be able to quickly attack the monsters. There would be no time to do so once the worms appeared.
    The observation balloon floating above the city waved their flags. The worms were getting closer and there were twenty of them. Her aides marked the progress of the enemy against the grid of the city map. The monsters were heading straight to Erin's group, she couldn't have lead them better into the trap if she had given the monsters orders.
    Far unlike the zombies in the open field, the bone worms' entrance was fast and explosive. One moment the straight cobbled road leading into the city was empty of any scouts or monsters, the next a bone worm smashed through a building to roll into the main street. It looked deceptively small in the distance but everyone could see that the worm was nearly as tall as the single floored building it had just leveled.
    The blackened scars on its armour spoke of the scouts' brave action. Now that the fire from the harassing scouts had died down, the worm monster turned its full attention to the arrayed spell cannons with their massive magical stockpiles.
    Before Erin could give the command, the various spell cannon squads had already begun to take action.
    With a sound like the sky tearing apart, the first of the spell cannons flung their shells into the city. Quite different from their smaller gun counterparts, the earsplitting cracks of the special shells traveling faster than sound was deafening. The bone worm and the street around it exploded into fireballs.
    "Fire by squad!" Erin commanded, reminding the spell cannons that they weren't all supposed to waste their shots on a single target.
    The worm broke free of the flames, still smoking and bearing two large craters in its armour that dripped living fire. Erin cursed, the shells did damage but were not as effective as Erin hoped.
    Another salvo of four spell cannons exploded onto the body of the worm, blowing huge chunks away. Only more worms had shown up, bulling through the buildings or crawling through side streets. The sergeants in charge of the spell cannon squads adjusted their fire, the battery of a full hundred was divided to fire at three zones of the enemy. The last minute range adjustments carried out, the full might of the spell cannon battery spoke at once.
    The replaced crews had regained some of their experience since the disaster of the Firestorm gambit. These spell cannons were also larger and more powerful than the easily portable versions Erin had deployed then. And most importantly, there were five times more of them.
    At the range of more than half a kilometer, the shells' inaccuracy made it hard to hit individual targets. The worms writhed as the shells smashed into them. The dirt and cobbles of the street fountained into the sky. Buildings had their faces smashed inwards and flames gutting their insides. And the blossoms of fire continued to bloom like a beautiful but deadly flower.
    And the worms refused to be destroyed. Too many shells were missing, those that hit were simply not enough. One or two burnt out husks was not going to stop the remaining as they charged through the onslaught.
    "... detonator! It's not working!" someone shouted next to Erin. She looked right to find Cato trying to make himself heard over the din of constant shell fire.
    "What?" Erin shouted back as Cato came to a halt next to her.
    "Tell the crews to remove the impact detonator! The armour is resistant to fire and if the shells don't explode until they get inside, the impact will do more damage!" Cato yelled.
    Erin considered the suggestion for a moment then nodded to the messenger, "give the order! Set the shells to not detonate on impact!"
    It took two precious reload cycles and the monsters reaching nearly the five hundred meter mark before the switch occurred.
    Immediately, the difference was obvious. Without the impact detonators in the nose cone, there were no more huge gouts of fire or thunderous reports of explosions... except when they hit a worm. The first shell impact blew straight through a weakened section of armour without exploding and a moment later, the inside of the worm exploded with fire. Later, it was determined that the shells that pierced the armour had exploded from the disruption aura triggering the living fire containers.
    Pools of living fire spat smoke into the sky, leaking from broken shells as they smashed apart on the ground instead of exploding in the intimidating towers of fire. Intimidation didn't work on monsters anyway.
    One by one, the worm monsters began to fall as the shells took their toll. The bone and stone armour was cracked apart, the fleshy insides set on fire and slowly but surely, the monsters were being ground down by superior firepower. A trail of broken and burning bodies scattered among the raw destruction was left in the wake of the monsters' advance.
    And then the shells ran out. Five worms with an assortment of scars continued soldiering on towards the human lines. They were getting a little close for comfort.
    As the soldiers began to fire their guns, in futile hope, and the spell cannons swapping over to force bolts, Erin felt the Iris camp blooming with sudden power.
    The remaining worms' rush was halted by a massive lightning bolt that smashed into the leading worm . As Erin blinked away the dark spot in her eyes, the crater of red hot rubble held a pile of broken bones and stone, burning merrily. That was far more powerful than the usual minimum power.
    The monsters continued their charge, even as the next was blown to pieces by concentrated force bolt fire from the spell cannons. Another was destroyed by another ritual summon. And on it went, until the last bone worm had charged right up to the human lines.
    The thousands of guns surrounding it flayed its surface with a withering barrage of fire, the armour was visibly deteriorating and spalling debris flew everywhere. The worm got into range of the few remaining flamethrowers at the front and was buried under continuous streams of living fire.
    The army adjusted their positions to surround the thing and fire at it from all sides. Sword summons flew in to pin it to the ground. Then the closest squad of spell cannons pushed their way through to get a clear firing line.
    The worm was burned and pounded into a smear of ash in short order.

    The cheers and celebrations was well deserved. The soldiers had come a long way, expending effort and material to step into the dangerous lands beyond the borders of civilization. They hadn't suffered too many losses either. In the process, they had become experienced, in their weapons and in the way war was now conducted.
    The city had been cleared of zombies after going through the ruins once more with a careful eye and many a trigger happy finger. By the time the city was known to be safe, the groundwork for the future military base was being laid. The Minmay Ironworkers had chosen a building for the steel workshop and were repairing it. A mana well was being dug in the center of the city. Material to repair the city's walls was being sourced, along with surveying the land for defensive trenchworks. Meanwhile, the slope of the land gave some hope that an aqueduct from the River Yang could be built. Surveys and patrol schedules were being drawn up.
    That humans could reclaim land lost to the monsters, no matter how small this one city was, was a great achievement. It would inspire the Federation and cement Ektal's place in history as the first to turn the tide.
    The mood in the command tent was less jubilant.
    "We simply do not have any more of the shells for spell cannons, with no way to produce them here. Minmay's last communication from a week ago indicates that supplies for more rockets and shells are being manufactured but we cannot expect resupply of these advanced weapons for at least three weeks. " Erin had her logistics officer briefed the military commanders of the divisions. "Though once the workshop is ready, we can replace our expended bullets and cut iron bars for spell cannon ammunition. "
    She nodded at Cato and Landar, who were special invitees. "A large and heavy rod of iron rolled into a similar shape as the shells will have even greater penetration and damage than the fireshells on the worm's armour," Cato explained, "it won't burn the insides of the worm like shells do, but they can blow holes into the armour through which living fire can enter. "
    "Our magical power stores are at less than a third of capacity," continued the man holding the current state of the northern expedition on his clipboard. "Fortunately, the mana well is expected to begin operation in a few days upon which we should be able to generate enough magic to cover our expenditure. Assuming the rate of attacks on us remains the same as on our journey here. Further mana wells could eventually allow us to build a stockpile as originally intended. "
    "What about fire?" asked the leader of the Ektal 1st Militia. It was the main question and one that everyone knew did not have a comforting answer.
    "The flamethrowers report that almost half of them are empty, the rest range from unused to almost empty. Fireshells are down to a quarter of what we started and of course, rockets and shells are completely depleted. At the rate of usage on our way here, we will run out of fireshells before the first supply shipment arrives. "
    And of course, out in the middle of nowhere, there was no way to make fireshells at this place.
    Erin thus gave her orders, "therefore, trenchworks and lower walls around the city are our top priority. To conserve our stock of fireshells and ammunition, we need to efficiently defeat the monsters. Luring groups into prepared defensive positions where spell cannons can destroy them will have to be our main strategy. "
    But the question that everyone was thinking of was, were there more worms out there? The worms were practically impossible to defeat without the living fire.
    If the worms came again, would the army run out before the first resupply could arrive?

  7. - Top - End - #157
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for April 1 to April 7!


    Lycunadari passes with 7 herb photos.

    jseah passes with 2206 words for Hero's War.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 326 weeks
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    jseah
    Current Run: 165 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
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    I love herbs <3
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

    Stories

    Do you like writing? Drawing? Being creative? Come join the CHALLENGE!

  8. - Top - End - #158
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Let's not forget to post, mm?

    1508 for a new story idea (isekai?) - Of Magic
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    The first thing Rhianna noticed was the gods. Even if they were people-shaped, the male and female figures in her sight had a presence that insisted they were gods.
    Even though she had abruptly found herself a disembodied floating ball of light, she didn't try to speak or move. The godly figures had not noticed her and she wasn't about to attract their attention. The open space she was in did not give any place to hide however, the floor and walls were all impossibly smooth tiles interrupted with columns leading up to a roof inscribed with colourful murals.
    The second thing she noticed was the division. One of the male figures stood apart from the rest, who were crowding around a table that flashed with movement and light. The outsider figure turned to her and winked, putting a finger to his mouth in a shushing motion.
    Huh.
    Had she somehow interrupted a god's prank? Or perhaps Rhianna was the prank?
    The gods around the table watching the moving pictures were dressed in flowing robes, with one woman dressed in bronze armour. The one god standing apart watching them with her was dressed in a dapper long coat with a wide brimmed hat, his gentleman's tuxedo clashing horribly with the greek god aesthetics of the place.
    The chattering of the gods brought her attention back to them.
    "No, War, I don't want to watch those hairy men! They're disgusting brutes and very un-fun!" complained a petite girl dressed in a child's pyjamas festooned with colourful ribbons that chased each other around her body.
    "Indeed! Where's their love? They just want to force themselves on those poor women. " A thin man agreed with her. He was wearing a similarly colourful outfit, but unlike the little girl's riotuous colours, his was an elegant multicoloured robe topped with a garland of flowers. Possibly every flower in the world at once, the petals subdivided into more flowers in an endless fractal-like complexity.
    The woman they were addressing was the one in the armour. The polished metal pauldrons was light yet exuded an aura of power, aided by the tight cords of muscle on her bare arms. On her waist was a sword of bronze whose edge promised death. "But look at those muscles! Won't you agree that these warriors are delicious?"
    The girl and the man replied with a silent disapproving gaze.
    "Argh, fine, fine. I knew Comedy and Romance only like little girls anyway," War sighed exaggeratedly.
    "I do not!" "I like all children!" Protested Romance and Comedy over each other.
    The almost child-like Comedy glared up at the man, "what do you mean you don't like little girls? Do you have some prejudice against girls?"
    "That's enough, the two of you," clapped the man in his mismatching outfit.
    The gods looked up from the table they were arguing over, the images in it continuing to silently play. They noticed Rhianna almost immediately and the chatter cut out.
    "Is this when we say 'I can explain?'" said a woman into the awkward silence. She was wearing a wistful sundress that hid everything and nothing at once.
    "Sister," Romance sighed, "not everything is a Romance Drama. Disembodied souls especially do not have romance. Death has done them apart, after all. "
    Was Rhianna dead? She didn't remember dying. Though her most recent memories were sort of a blur. She just left the office and... and something happened?
    "That's because your brain hadn't committed the events just before your death to long term memory, you did die before that happened after all," the unnamed tuxedo man explained.
    And they could read her thoughts. This was now slightly disturbing.
    "Let me introduce myself," the tuxedo man bowed elegantly, "I am Rob. And apparently, now also inter-universal contractor. "
    Oh. Rob, huh. So this was one of Those situations. Rhianna had read about them before.
    "Indeed, these gods have something of a demon lord problem. And they used to summon heroes to deal with the past demon lords but the latest problem has survived five heroes so far and they decided to bring me in from a different genre to help. I wanted to do things my way, but they insist I use their methods and this universe doesn't belong to me. We could be done already but no..."
    Romance Drama glared at the ROB, "yeah, you do have a reputation, Rob. We're not going to just let you oops our nice planet. "
    So she was to picked as an isekai hero by a Random Omnipotent Bastard? Rhianna was starting to get curious as to just what solution ROB had suggested.
    "How many pebbles does it take to kill a demon lord?" His cocky grin was more than enough to give her the answer.
    One, at sufficient velocity, Rhianna completed silently. Yes, this ROB was clearly from a very different genre. She 'looked' at War, who just scowled.
    "There is no War in that," the warrior woman grumbled.
    Rob gestured at her, "so here you are. You're my pick. Their tradition dictates that I now grant you a special ability of some sort in compensation for and to aid your task. If you would just choose something, you can be on your way. I have full confidence in your problem solving abilities. "
    Rhianna hesitated. She didn't know what the world she was going to be summoned to was like.
    "You're going with them," Rob indicated the totally-not-greek gods.
    So this was to be a sword and sorcery fantasy then?
    "Indeed. "
    "I want to be good at magic. " Rhianna spoke up. That sounded more like something had spoken for her or allowed her to speak for the first time instead of just getting her thoughts read.
    The local gods looked her curiously. "Usually," said Comedy with unusual seriousness, "people tend to ask for something more specific. "
    Well, it didn't really matter whatever Rhianna asked for. She didn't know the world nor the gods at all.
    "Still, to leave it up to Rob is extending quite a lot of trust," added Romance Drama, "possibly misplaced trust. "
    This was the problem with genies and other unknown wish mechanisms. If ROB was a genie who wished her well, then he would give Rhianna what she needed, thus her exact request didn't matter. If ROB was a genie who did not wish her well, there was no way Rhianna could create a request that was foolproof, thus her request also didn't matter.
    In the end, all the power lay with Rob and he could do to Rhianna whatever he wanted anyway. She was just being realistic about the amount of control she had over this situation, none at all.
    So Rhianna might as well wish for a fantasy in a fantasy world.
    They read her reasoning and Rob chuckled at the horrified looks on the face of the local gods, especially on Comedy's. The little girl might think of herself as fun and harmless but a god was a god and Rhianna did not know any of them well enough to avoid hot buttons that might cause her to contract spontaneous existence failure.
    "Your choice is pretty interesting, Rob," commented Romance Drama, "my sister, Drama, would have loved her. Still, I don't see how you intend to make her 'good at magic'. Remember the conditions, we're not allowed to change the rules of the world. "
    "Easy, I'll give her the ability to create spells as well as to cast them. " Rob spread his hands. "Don't tell me that doesn't fit 'being good at magic'. As it turns out, Rob is a decent sort and won't screw her over. "
    He waved a hand and Rhianna's disembodied soul disappeared. "Well, not too much anyway," he grinned.
    War leaned forwards, "and did you just give her those abilities? Casting talent is an easy enough instinct, but you do realize that creating spells cannot be an instinctual process. In fact, even if you give her accurate knowledge of how magic works at all, magic is all about the combinations of the component parts. Without giving her an Oracle every time she wants a new spell, I don't see how you can do this. "
    Rob's grin only grew wider, "all you need is enough power of the right sort. "
    "Gyaa! Where did you send her?!" Comedy's scream had the gods turn to her then glare suspiciously at Rob.
    He merely held up his hands, "I'm sure she'll do fine. And hey, I do have a reputation to uphold. "
    "You sent her to the Primordial Jungle!" Comedy looked like she wanted to strangle him, her tiny hands grasped angrily at the air. "Our hero won't last a day in there!"
    At that, Rob raised an eyebrow in challenge, "care to wager on that?"

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