The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #61
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Jun 2009

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

    306 words for Hero's War

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    Erin looked out at the mountain of supplies secured under heavy tarps. The field of supply tents behind the Fort Yang wall was the size of a small town. The stockpile of food, ammunition and magic had been growing day by day with no end in sight. It was clear to anyone seeing it that a major operation was being planned.
    To no one's surprise, the Central Territory nobility had praised Erin's actions and 'amazing tactical skill' for her sacrifice gambit. Her resignation had been refused and Erin shipped back to the Fort. She could have pushed it through but King Ektal himself had confided in her that there wasn't anyone to take her place.
    At present, Erin was regarded as the foremost defensive commander in all of the Federation. Fort Yang had repelled a truly preposterous number of zombies and her reputation had grown with every kill the foot soldiers made in her name. That number coming through Algami Plains would have spelled the end of Ranra and possibly the rest of the Federation.
    An offensive commander had not been found, outside of Ranra cavalry companies, and Ektal did not want to invite outside help for this operation. So Erin had also been tapped for this expedition.
    She was starting to regret not insisting on her resignation.
    At first, Erin had demanded a huge amount of food, weapons and soldiers to fulfill the objective of creating a military outpost at the ruined city. The Chancellors and King had conferred with letters flown by Elka messenger, and eventually agreed to make the expenditure.
    And then Erin had found that bringing that huge amount of food was going to take an insane number of carts. So now she had to go back and ask them for more carts and the rekis to pull them.


    1267 words for AT x HP
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    The spellfire behind him crackled higher in intensity when he got through the door, Dumbledore and whoever Tom was unleashing magic that seemed to tear at the fabric of reality. Dumbledore's phoenix sang a battlecry that lifted his spirits despite the exhaustion from keeping Hermione floating.
    Behind the door, he saw Snape and Flitwick hurrying down the third floor corridor towards them. The stern potions teacher glanced down at Harry struggling with Hermione and flicked his wand at her once. Immediately the load lightened to a feather. Flitwick tapped the doorway and hooted twice, like an owl, and immediately the sounds of battle faded to a distant roar. The two of them
    On their tail was Madam Pomfrey and Pomona, the first of whom gasped at Hermione's horrible wounds. The mediwitch immediately motioned for Harry to set her down, which he did gladly, and knelt beside his friend with her wand out. Pomona fretted for a moment before continuing to join the battle.
    "I've stabilized her as best as I can," Madam Pomfrey said, wand still moving non-stop. Hermione's burns stopped oozing blood but still remained just as horrible. "She's lucky, there's no curses in the damage, it won't scar much. Take her down to the hospital wing and put her on a bed, do not cover her with a sheet. A seventh year will be with you to administer potions. " Seeing Harry nod back, Pomfrey stood up and sent of the same glowing white messenger Harry saw McGonagall use and hurried through the doorway to help any of the teachers who might get injured.
    Harry stood up, marshalled his magic and levitated Hermione again. He might be exhausted but Hermione depended on him now. Never mind his unearned legend as the Boy-Who-Lived, if he couldn't even lift her to the hospital wing when she was a feather's weight then he wasn't worthy of the name Harry Potter.

    Dumbledore shouted a carefully pronounced word and a jet of water flew out of his wand, transforming into a hail of metal needles on its way towards Riddle. The phoenix hovering near his shoulder started its battlesong. Almost instinctively, Dumbledore fell into the rhythm of that wordless crying and whistles.
    Forwards and left twice, duck under a killing curse, transform the blast of fire into a swarm of exploding snitches. Charm the snitches to follow the target. Shield against bonebreaker, step right and back to dodge another killing curse. Wand up, retransfigure blocked metal needles into a cloud of acid fog.
    It was almost like a dance, something he had forgotten since the time he had dueled Grindelwald with a phoenix on his shoulder. Riddle had never stood around to fight like this, always plotting and striking from the shadows, always fearful of a decisive battle he might lose. Clearly the boost given by Elixir of Life was making the dark lord overconfident.
    Without looking, Dumbledore felt two familiar presences step up behind him. Snape and Flitwick. Charms and curses flew from them thick and fast as Dumbledore stepped back into a more defensive role without needing to discuss strategy.
    Transfigure rock to intercept killing curse at Flitwick. Glance at Snape, send "you will not return to him" with Legilimency, immediately Snape's curses become darker and lethal. Homing bonebreaker into blood-to-acid into shadow shield.
    The barrage of magic sent at Tom was putting him on the backfoot but revitalized by the Elixir, they had less stamina than he. Dumbledore felt Pomona join the battle and took a risk. Glancing at Snape again to tell him the plan, Dumbledore swiped aside a curse meant for the Herbology teacher before disappearing into a blaze of phoenix fire, the only teleportation that worked in Hogwarts.
    Fawkes' battlesong remained uninterrupted through the fire step, even as Dumbledore materialized behind Tom and catching the dark lord in a lethal crossfire that made his defence precarious. The dark lord still managed to catch Snape with a bouncing sunfire curse that Dumbledore wasn't around to intercept. The potions master rolled to the ground and batted the flames down with his wand but his off-hand was charred and burnt.
    Still, caught between Dumbledore's transfiguration, Snape's offensive barrage and Flitwicks more subtle but no less deadly assortment of charms, with Pomona and now Pomfrey to play defence and exploit opportunities, a lone Voldemort might have all the magical power but he simply couldn't cast fast enough to counter everything that was being thrown at him.
    Just before Dumbledore could finish turning a spray of burning smoke into a magic resistant silver cage for Flitwick to animate while Snape began a sequence of hard to counter curses, the dark lord had sensed his impending doom and cast his wand down. The flight spell cut out, dropping the wizard below Snape's barrage, and a blossom of blood-red flame appeared below the dark lord.
    There was a distinctive discordant shriek as the universe protested the birth of the Fiendfyre. Immediately, the droplet expanded, feeding on the fertile magical soil of the Hogwarts grounds, birthing a deadly python made of raw negativity. Fawkes shrieked its anger at the snake, the two magical songs clashing in a horrible disharmony. But disharmony only fed the chaotic destruction that was Fiendfyre.
    Not that Voldemort was getting away with that however, the dark lord had to dodge his own Fiendfyre as it began to run out of control almost immediately. As Dumbledore immediately worked to corral it, feeling Flitwick singing a goblin tune on the opposite side, Voldemort zoomed up and away into the sky.
    The dark lord had successfully gambled that Dumbledore would work to save his school and the children there over capturing Voldemort.
    So be it.
    The headmaster sighed as the last of the flaming python disappeared back into nothingness, leaving a circle of fused glass on the lawn. Now that the phoenix battlesong had faded, he was starting to second guess his decision to place the trap in the school. Had he spread himself too thin with too many offices? But everyone had wanted him to take the posts. And now the Tower had arrived, making his schedule so stretched that a gap in the response time to the trap had appeared, and Voldemort had exploited it.
    "Was that wise?"
    He looked up to find Snape standing close, a question in his eyes despite the hint of pain from the cursed burns. Snape going serious on the dark lord would jeopardize his position. But that was infeasible anyway. "Voldemort has the stone. With it, he will be more aggressive and less accepting of subterfuge. It would have been too dangerous for you to return, he would have asked you to do things I could not allow you to do. " And now too dangerous to leave the castle.
    Dumbledore could see Snape understood the effective jail sentence. "I sense you're happy about that," Dumbledore asked, "will you not grow bored in captivity?"
    "Compared to the excitement of being a spy in the dark lord's inner circle, I'll take boredom and being annoyed at children every time. "
    "Even the annoyance of the son of a certain woman?"
    "Even him. "
    Dumbledore chuckled hollowly and returned to look at the glass circle. The offer of a lemon drop to Snape was refused as always. In a moment, he would recall the Order and the war would begin anew.
    But for now, he just wanted to remember his faults and mistakes.

  2. - Top - End - #62
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

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

    1529 words of Eye for detail.

    Spoiler: Eye for detail, part two
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    The guy hadn’t even looked away from the computer screen, and as Grim watched he ajusted his designer glasses and returned to tapping keys on the keyboard.
    After a few seconds, Grim cleared his throat.
    The man swore under his breath turned away from the computer. When he saw Grim his expression went from annoyance to surprise, to fear.
    “You aren’t from the cleaning service.” He said, voice shaky.
    “What gave it away?” Grim peered down his shaggy old coat, then back up at the man.
    “Who are you?” Beads of sweat formed visibly on the man’s forehead as he asked the question.
    “I am the collecter.” Grim answered calmly. “I am here for my due.”
    “What?” The man asked, his voice cracking with fear.
    “You have something of mine.” Grim stepped forward. “Give it back!”
    “I don’t know what you are talking about.” The man whined.
    “You are Frank Robinson?” Grim insisted.
    “Y-yes.” The other man stammered. “But I don’t have anything…”
    Grim took two quick steps forward and slammed an open palm onto the desk. The man jumped in pure fright, and made a whimpering sound.
    With a slow, deliberate movement Grim lifted his hand and revealed the business card. He stared down Frank with all the intensity his lone eye had to bring. Judging on Franks facial expression, one eye was plenty to make him wet his pants.
    “You know who I am.” He intoned, his voice sounded hollow and portentious, even to himself. “Don’t you?”
    “He told me you would come.” Frank admitted. “Sooner or later, he said, you would be here.”
    “Who?” Grimm asked puzzled.
    “The man with the false eye.” Frank explained. “He never told me his name.”
    That stopped Grimm dead in his tracks. He’d thought he had found the man he was looking for, the one who owed him, his prey.
    He looked down at the business card, and felt the vision coming on imedeately.

    The eye stared at him unblinking.
    With a morbid fascination he raised it and gave it a closer look. His own eye, resting in his hand. The other eye seeing like it had alway been his. Seing so much more than the one in his palm ever had.
    He got to his feet, a little unsteadily. A coulple of wobly steps took him to the only table in the room. He gently put down his old eye on the flat surface. It glared at him, maybe in anger, or regret. Or maybe he was attributing feelings to the dead eye it couldn’t possibly have.
    He wiped is hand on his shirt and left a long stain of blood. Then he reached out and took something from the table. Looking down on it, he saw a business card.
    His sight was still blurry, and the letters flowed into each other. He could only make out the middle part of the first line.
    ….. Ank Robin….

    The vision peeled away, revealing Frank’s terrified face. Had he moved a bit to the right? How long had the vision distracted him? Probably only for a second. Still, there was something odd about it all.
    “Why would you be looking at your own businiss card?” Grim asked, when the vision bled away and he found himself back in the office with Frank.
    “What?” Frank asked again. It was enough to make Grimm think this guy was pretty dense.
    “You know your own phone number, and the adress fro your office.” Grim mused. “At leas I assume you do.”
    “Yes.” Frank moved uncomfortably in his seat.
    In a sudden motion, Grim leaned forward and looked straight into Frank’s eyes. They were a pale green, flicking nerveous back and forth. Identical in colour and shape.
    “You don’t have it.” He sighed.
    Frank let out a choked sound.
    A rush of emotions flooded through Hrim’s head. Frustration and anger swirled right behind his one good eye. With a snarl, he picked up the computer monitor from the table and threw it against a wall. There was a wrenching sound as cables tore themselves free of the screen, then a loud crash, and the monitor splintered all over the floor.
    “How ****ing stupid am i!?” He roared and kicked at a bit of broken monitor. “**** it all! I got the wrong guy!”
    He wanted to punch the wall, and scream some more, but he reeled himself in. Throwing a tantrum wouldn’t help.
    He was about to turn back to Frank, when he heard the sharp sound of a drawer being yanked open, followed by the click of a gun’s hamme being cocked.
    He turned to see Frank aiming a gun at him. It wasn’t a heavy firearm, but Frank held it like it might explode. Grim lifted one eyebrow.
    “He told me you’d come.” Frank babbled. “That I should be ready to kill you. I’m not going to let you send me to jail.”
    The accountant’s hands were trembling, but he still managed to aim more or less at Grim. A cold sensation gathered in Grim’s stomach and spread slowly through his entire body.
    It’s no fun, getting shot.
    Still, sometimes there’s just no way around it, so you learn to cope. This wasn’t the first time Grim had a gun aimed at him. He doubted it would be the last either.
    So he stared down Frank. He let the ice, which he felt in his stomach, show in his one good eye. And he spoke in a coarse, defiant voice.
    “Are you going to shoot me?” He asked. “Or are we going to stand around all night pretending you might?”
    There was a sharp sound, like someone striking the top of the table with a hammer. Grim felt a pressure against his stomach. Then a crisp pain started spreading from his gut.
    He looked down to see a bullthole, right above his navel, blood soaking into his shirt, making a right mess. He raised his eyes to glare at Frank again, then tilted his head iin a quizical motion.
    Frank shot him three more times.
    Sharp sparks of pain danced through his body and ha grit his teeth. He hadn’t really expected the encountant to shoot. Still, people surprise you at times.
    He realised, that he had stumpled backwards and fallen onto his ass. He was sitting against a wall, bleeding everywhere.
    Looking up, he saw Frank step around the desk, gun still in hand, motions carefull. He seemed a lot more relaxed now. Shooting was good for the nerves.
    “Is that a glock?” Grim wheezed. There was blood in his mouth.
    “I don’t really care.” Frank said distractedly. “I just got the one the store clerk suggested.”
    “Shame.” Even the single word hurt like hell, when he pressed it through his teeth. “I was hoping you spend as much money on guns as you did on your suit.”
    “Why do you care?” Frank asked. He wasn’t looking at Grim, rather he was heading for a file cabinet, standing in a corner of the office. “You’re dead anyways.”
    “Death never really impressed me.” Grim said, and started getiing up.
    The pain went from unpleasant, to downright unbearable. Still, he didn’t have time to sit around. Someone might have heard gunshots and called the police.
    He got to his feet, wobbled slightly, and stared down Frank with a grin. He imagined the blood on his teeth only made the spectacle better.
    “Wh.. How..” Frank sounded like he couldn’t decide on what question to ask in disbelief.
    “Do you know why I don’t carry a gun Frank?” Grim asked pleasantly. The sharp taste of Iron in his mouth made him feel alive and energetic. It had been a while since someone shot him.
    “What?” Frank asked in disbelief.
    “I don’t carry a gun.” Grim explained. “Because people get nervous when they think you are armed. I don’t have one, because they cost money, and are impractical to travel with. And someone always brings a gun to the party anyways, so I just use that instead.”
    In a flash, he surged forward, slamming a fist into Frank’s face. The strike wouldn’t really hurt the man, but it would disorient him. He staggered, and Grim siezed his gun hand and applied preassur to the wrinst.
    With a squeak, Frank let go of the gun and Grim snapped it up as it fell. His elbow caught Frank in the gut, and the accountant lost his ballance and fell to his ass.
    Grim pointed the gun at Franks head and paused, to think it over.
    “I owe you four shots.” He said thoughtfully.
    Frank uselessly covered his head with his arms, and gibbered something in a high pitched panic voice. For a moment, Grim simply stared down at the accountant, thinking it all over.
    Finally, he crouched down level with the other man. Frank was still cowering and whimpering. Grim slapped him.
    “Stop whining and answer my questions.” He snapped.
    The accountant made a pathetic sound, then drew in a breath and looked at him.
    “I shot you.” He accused. “Why aren’t you dead?”
    Grim slapped him again.
    “I’m asking the questions.” He growled. “Why did you shoot me?”

  3. - Top - End - #63
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Jun 2009

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

    1276 for A Hero's War

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    And then the rekis needed their feed, carts needs repair supplies and craftsmen to maintain them. Repair supplies of replacement shafts and wheels, most of which did not fit each other. The key difference being that every cart and replacement part that came from Minmay would fit if its size looked the same. Every other place except for one workshop in the Central Territories put out carts that looked the same but could not by used to repair each other without bringing a woodworking workshop along.
    When Erin had asked for three hundred carts specifying that all of them should come from Minmay, the hullabaloo raised by her 'implied insult' made her truly question her posting for the first time.
    And now a fresh bunch of recruits from the capital were here and expecting to receive training in guns supplied by Minmay. The only good thing about the recruits from the capital, trying to mimic the Minmay Guards, was that they were numerous. King Ektal had scraped up every petty criminal, levy and conscript he could get his hands on to get hands to use his order of seven thousand Minmay guns.
    They turned up with no discipline, barely any training beyond how to march and unreasonable expectations of matching the Guard. The number of command roles with the formations were far too few, one in a hundred or so, and usually second or later sons and daughters of nobles out for glory. Sometimes she would get a huge block of a thousand and not have the guns to arm them, or a few weeks would go by with no one coming and the Minmay guns would stockpile with every fighter having one under their bed.
    Fort Yang was not a place for basic training! It was an actual frontline that even the Minmay Guard took serious losses at times! Even if the attacks had trickled to near zero after her Firestorm gambit, Erin did not want them here.
    They might be expecting to be part of the expedition but no matter how they whined, Erin would stick them with holding down the fort while the expedition consisted of actual experienced soldiers and knights. Not even poor conscripts could fail to defend the formidable Fort Yang defences.
    The worst part of all these problems was that Erin was quite sure she had missed some small but critical supply issue and it would rear its head halfway through the desert. Just in time for a zombie army to kill them all.
    But she had food, transport and weapons and she really couldn't think of anything else to bring.
    Wait, they had to sleep somewhere. Erin scribbled a note to herself order tents and construction supplies. No wood in a desert after all. They were building a military outpost after all.
    Right, she could do with one of those new flying balloons too. Elkas needed to rest their wings and a high perch would let them stay up for much longer.


    Cato wiggled the pencil, feeling too lazy to grab the eraser to rub out his error. Across the paper from him, Landar stuck out her tongue as she added more lines to their diagram. Her legs poked up as she swung them in the air.
    Scratch, scratch. Alright, that was the accumulator done. He glanced up to see how Landar was doing on the input circuits.
    Doing quite well, even if she was in a slight trance. Landar always liked being in a creative mood and her focus was ridiculously high during that time. Rather than restrict her, Cato had elected to help stop her from going to excess.
    Like now. He sighed as he reached across the paper to pop the end of her pencil out of her mouth before she could chew on it. It was Cato's fault that Landar had picked up that bad habit, but he wasn't about to let her eat wood. Landar didn't even notice that action and scribbled down another set of circuits onto the hard paper, but Cato had learned that if he interrupted her occasionally, it would stop her trances from getting too deep.
    "Ugh, this is hard," Landar whined as she frowned. Addition and multiplication were easy. Subtraction was a little harder and division was giving them problems.
    Half a calculator in magic circuits was laid out across the matted floor of the Iris family room. Feeling supremely lazy in the morning before lunch, and without their usual business in Minmay city, the both of them were just lying on the floor and working on a fun blue sky project.
    So far, the proposed calculator design would hold two ten digit numbers for one of the four basic operations, plus an output and a button to copy the output into the first number slot. Typing numbers left to right? Ha! You had a manual indicator that you moved to each digit's position to change that digit. This rudimentary calculator was looking to be somewhere around the size of a cupboard and high in magical power consumption. Oh, and it would probably break every month or so.
    Still, it would calculate faster than you could push the buttons, at least so they hoped. That would be useful in Minmay's record keeping department.
    What was more important than its use was developing a proper computing circuit. Their calculator had the essentials of a computer, a tiny four number memory and an instruction set. Plus four fixed 'programs', though the word was too generous, that ran each of the mathematical functions. The calculator was the useful toy built on top.
    Base ten memory was not something Cato wanted to see, but Landar insisted that she could make each bit hold ten values and that binary made her brain hurt. The other proposal was to use base six, though that was based on available magical groups that would make memory storage simpler. What the Fukas called 'colour'. In any case, this was just the first attempt and there would be later opportunities to convince Landar.
    Shortcuts, simplifications and other compromises dotted their diagram, like how the working memory was hardwired into the instruction set. It would never be anything more than a calculator, and would need significantly larger space to do anything else. A good proof of concept, nothing more.
    Cato looked back down to his section as Landar absentmindedly pulled her shoulder sleeve back up.
    They continued their scribbling to the chirping of birds in the distance and the soft midday sun glowing just outside the door.
    Oh, that was a mistake she just made. Cato tapped the end of his pencil on the spot where she missed a jump and Landar rubbed it out without a word.
    It felt an age later that a knock came on the door and Landar's mother came in.
    "Oh, is it lunch already?" Cato asked. Landar didn't even look up, instead starting work on the jump instruction. Cato pushed some of his work over for her to reference before rolling on his back to sit up.
    The woman just giggled, "she used to like lying on the floor like that when she was young. Always chasing a dream no one else could see. "
    They looked at Landar, who was still absorbed in the project.
    "Ari, I haven't done anything improper, have I?"
    She shook her head, "it's nothing. Lunch is ready. We need to go over the procedure for the dinner later, please join us. "
    Cato nodded. Of course, the duty of breaking Landar out of her trances also fell to him now.


    And 1 arrangement of items from characters in Flower Knight Girl
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  4. - Top - End - #64
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

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

    I did 1009 words of Eye for detail:

    Spoiler: Eye for detail, part three
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    “Youre the one eyed gunman!” Frank whined. “He told me you were dangerous.”
    “Who told you that?” Grim broke in.
    “The man with the fake eye.” Frank nearly sobbed in panic. “I don’t know him. He was Allan’s costumer. I only spoke to him twice.”
    “Fake eye?” Grim could hear a growl right under his own questin, he had to hold back not to snarl at the whiny accountant.
    “It wasn’t even very convincing.” Frank babbled. “You could see that it wasn’t his own eye, it had the wrong colour…”
    “It was blue.” Grim said coldly.” “What did your guy Allan do for him?”
    “I don’t know.” Frank whimpered. “They hatched some scheme. It made us a lot of money, but they would never tell me what it was.”
    Grim gestured to the file cabinet.
    “There’s something in there,” He said. “Something they want hidden. Right?”
    Instead of answering, Frank let out a long high pitched sound. His eyes were darting everywhere, clearly looking for a way to escape, clearly not finding it.
    “Tell me everything you know Frank.” Grim spoke in a calm, low voice. “I won’t hurt you if you give me the information I want.”
    “I don’t know anything.” Frank protested weakly.
    “You know who this guy Allan is.” Grim pointed out. “You know the face of the other man. And I bet you know why they were being so covert.”
    “I can’t tell you.”
    “Why not?”
    “He’ll come for me if I tell you anything.”
    “Frank, Frank, Frank.” Grimm shook his head as he spoke. “I’ll do a hundred times worse to you, if you don’t spill the beans right now.”
    There was a long silent second. Then Frank swallowed audibly.
    With a slow, demonstrative motion, Grimm lifted the gun to point at the accoountant.
    “Okay, Okay!” Frank held up both his hands, his voice cracked and his eyes were full of terror.
    “Spill.” Grim ordered, and to his credit he did.
    “They’re blackmailing someone.” Frank explained. “I don’t know for what, or who, I swear man!”
    “And they said I would show up?” Grim asked.
    “The eye guy told me that.”
    “When?”
    “Last time I saw them both.” Frank paused to count the days. “Four days ago. I haven’t heard anything from them since then.”
    “Did he tell you why I would come?”
    “No…” Frank hesitated.
    “But?” Grim prompted.
    “You want the eye… don’t you?” There was aquiver to Frank’s voice, an undertone of pure terror.
    “Clever.” Grim mused. “You figured that out all on your own. Do you know where your blackmailing frineds went?”
    “No,” Frank shook his head furiously. “They left a folder in the cabinet, told me not to look in it, and they left. I swear, I don’t know anything!”
    Grim sighed.
    This was a dead end. Well, not completely. He had an new name and whatever was in that folder to work with. He would just have to point his cintacts at this new puzzle and see what they could discover.
    “I suppose that concludes the interview then.” Grim said and rose to his feet again.
    A desperate giggle escaped Frank’s mouth. Grim looked him over, frowning. There was a sharp smell of amonia and a dark spot had appeared on Franks trousers. Not all men werecreated courageous or cool headed.
    He walked to the cabinet, opened it and rifled through it. Most of the things in there seemed boring and ordinary. All the way in the back of one shelf, a thick manilla folder caught his eyes.
    “This is it, right?” He asked, waving the folder at Frank.
    The accountant nodded, apparantly not trusting him self to speak.
    Grim tugged the folder under his arm and walked to the desk. Ignoring the accountant, he put down the folder and rifles through drawes until he found what he was looking for.
    In the third drawer he checked, he found a stack of business cards. They were much like the one which had led him here today, with one exception. The name on the front of them was Allan Barrymoore.
    Grim stuffed one of the cards in his pocket, picked up the folder again and stepped around the desk. On the floor Frank stared up at him in terror.
    Without sparing the accountant a second glance, Grim started walking for the door. He had a lot to do, a lot of new information to considder, and his goal wasn’t any closer than it had been that morning.
    “You’re leaving?” Frank asked in a whiny voice. “You’re just leaving?”
    The man had a point. With the new lead in his hands, he had almost forgotten about the accountant. That was sloppy, he chided himself.
    “I am leaving.” he said, turning around. “What i came here for isn’t here. So I should go.”
    A small chuckling laugh escaped Frank, he wasn’t finding the situation funny. He was laughing from a mix of terror and relief.
    “However.” Grimm continued. “I still owe you something.”
    “What?” Frank’s eyes widened.
    “You shot me four times.” Grim reminded him.
    The accountant’s eyes tracked to the bullet holes in Grim’s chest. There were gears turning in his head, trying to figure out why Grim hadn’t died. The question was forming, and given time the man would ask. Grim had no desire to duscuss the bargain he made for that particular super power.
    So he aimed the gun at Frank’s head and squeezed the trigger.
    Four times the gun barked.
    The gun had served it’s purpose, so he left it lying on Frank’s lap, as he left the building. He hadn’t gotten what he wanted, but he was one step closer. Perhaps Barrymoore would know who it was he was really after.
    The socket where his left eye should be itched something fierce. Annoyance crept around inside him, that someone was using his eye for scamming money out of people.
    He drew in a deep breath, let his inner eyes watch the paths stretching into the future. Then he picked a direction and walked out into the night.


    And 538 words of a new story:

    Spoiler: The tale of the three knights, part one
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    It is said, that when the dark armies came to raid and pillage the lands, the good king bade his three most loyal knights to defend his people.
    Sir William the strong led a vast army to face the enemy head on. A giant of a man, his prowess in battle was the stuff of stories and it was said that no other man had the strength to wield his great warhammer. The men who went with him feared no enemy, for such was his might that his mere reputation shielded them from any fright or worry.
    Sir Cillias Windborne took a smaller force to lead the common people to safety. He was known for his keen eyes and his swift hand. No man in the kingdom could match his precision with a bow, or his knowledge of the land. His men knew that Sir Cilias would lead them through weather, darkness and doubt, and find a safe path for them to tread.
    Sir Fallon the Pure took command of what few men the other two did not bring with them. He insisted on safeguarding the king and his family. For though no enemy had come close to the capitol, Fallon had sworn an oath, that no harm would come to the king or his kin for as long as the knight drew breath.
    Through the mountain passes to the east, the dark armies marched, and Sir William met them head to head, stopping them dead. Great battles raged and the knight’s forced suffered many casualties, but the defence held and no army made it through the pss.
    For a while, the people rejoiced, thinking they were safe from the ravages of war. No army could breach the mountain, so long as Sir william stood vigil.
    But no good thing lasts forever, and Sir William’s brave stand only forced the enemy to find other ways of harming the Good King’s people.
    Darkness dwells in the hears of all men, and it did not take long for the enemy to find those willing to betray the Good King. Dark agents infiltrated the land, and sowed seeds of descend. Soon Sir Cillias was forced to marshall his forces to face riots and discent from the people he had sworn to protect.
    Thus Sir William found himself holding the mountain passes, without any hope of reinforcements, while Sir Cillias struck harshly against the dissenters.
    It was then, that the enemy struck in earnest, bringing all his hidden pices to the front and reveling hidden plans that would have broken the king, had it not been for the three loyal knights.
    From the east, byond the mountains, an army much larger than anything the enmy had shown before approached. Sir William’s forces were tired and worn after months of fighting, but they steeled themselves and trusted that they would have reinforcements before long.
    Meanwhile, the rebel forces within the country gathered in greater force, massing to assault the home of the kings son. Sir Cillias had gathered his forces and marched to the defence, but in the end, his army could not reach in time. So the Knight had taken his fastest horse and ridden ahead, to arrive just before the assault.

  5. - Top - End - #65
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    1476 continuing an old wish granting book idea

    Spoiler
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    I take out our math textbook from my schoolbag and flip to the complex number chapter. We were supposed to start it tomorrow and I can't do the example questions. I look at them to make sure and yes, I really cannot do them. The "i" makes no sense to me as part of an equation. Sinna smiles as she understands my intention and writes down, "I wish Alice would understand how to do the complex number example question in New Mathematics 2. "
    Nothing happens. It's puzzling how specific she made that sentence, as if she was absolutely confident. Ah, she did not want the wish to have unintended effects? It's freaky how serious she is about this. Full of doubts, yet not quite sure what to expect, I look down at the question.
    Oh... Oh damn. I can do it. De Moivre's Theorem is so obvious. Despite me only having the vaguest idea about complex numbers, I understand it. That... that can't be right! I can't possibly have learnt it by glancing over the pages just now, not even a world-class genius can do that! I flip to the answers page and check it. Yes, it is official. That book works.
    "That... That's crazy! A book like that can't exist!" even I can tell that I'm not making much sense. It's sitting there on foot of the bed after all.
    No no no, get yourself together Alice, aren't you proud of your calmness? You should not be so flustered just because... because we can wish for anything we like now. That's certainly something worthy to get hyped up about right? Think about it, anything you want can be yours! Money and fame would look small compared to what you can simply get. You can change the world with this.
    "Alice?" Sinna crawled across the bed and looked at me closer.
    "Ah, sorry, I was just thinking. We need to know more about that book," I look down at the now very important book. I can already think of a few things to do.

    I stare at the fat raindrops hitting the window pane. A massive downpour in the dry season, the news said something about an unexpected cold front. It's our work of course. Sinna fidgets in the seat in front of me, also looking out the window.
    Writing in pencil works. As carefully as possible, I erase the line wishing for rain and look expectantly outside. Nothing happened. Well, it took ten minutes for rain to happen.
    "Miss Scott, pay attention please," Mr Armin snaps at me. I put the book away hurriedly and mutter an apology.
    "Why don't you answer this question then? And explain to the class as well," he asks, pointing at the Argand diagram on the board. Oh my, he's in a bad mood. Of course, he won't scold Sinna, nor call her up. There's no point if she's just going to faint or freak out, she's already looking rather pale, so it falls to me to cover for her.
    The marker in my hand scribbles across the board as I think about the book. It's not all powerful. Wishing for the impossible doesn't seem to work, since the sun is still rising in the east. We have already come to an agreement that anything we wish for in the test has to have a time limit, in case it takes too long to happen and comes back to bite us in the future. The book can also make small things happen, like a freak wind that turns pages to just the correct one you want. That must be how it works, by changing small things. I wonder how small.
    I've considered wishing to understand anything we read but decided that it could be dangerous. Who knows what people would think if you could suddenly read a foreign language? And besides, what counts as a language? It would be bad if we could suddenly read bird sign. And we haven't yet discovered how to reverse a wish.
    "And that's how you apply the theorem. Since raising their power simply multiplies their angle, the roots must be evenly spaced around the origin on the Argand diagram," I put down the marker. Mr Armin and most of the class are staring at me. It's perfect answer. Of course it is, since I can't get the understanding of the theorem out of my head. At least that one doesn't matter.
    I walk back to my desk deliberately, not looking at anyone. As I sit down and the lesson continues, Sinna discreetly hands me the book. She made another wish. I wish for the effects of the above wish to be negated.
    The downpour continues regardless. No... wait, it is lightening up already. The clouds at the edges are already rolling away, I can almost imagine how the meteorologists would react to that. So you can reverse a wish by wishing for it to be negated. Good to know.
    Ten minutes later, the only remaining thing of the rain is the wet ground and fresh air.

    Crack! The tennis ball flies past my shoulder like a rocket. Flinching, I bring my racket up instinctively to cover myself. Much too late of course, the sound of the ball hitting the fence sounded my loss. Hey, I'm a girl, what will you do if you hit me with something like that?
    My opponent was the tennis club's best player, David. I'm not sure why we managed to get paired off to practice since my skill was so far below his that I never came close to scoring a single point. Our manager was sick today and we drew lots to determine who played whom. David wiped off the sweat on his face and shook my hand formally.
    "Kyaa! He's so cool!"
    Squeals could be heard from outside the court fence. David always attracted a gathering of fangirls around him, what with his lithe frame and perfect features. Good scores in school and excellent at tennis, just like the dream guy out of a fantasy. As for me? Well, he's totally out of my league and I won't waste time chasing an impossible dream.
    "Would you like another game?"
    What...? I shake my head and stare at him curiously. That can't be right. "You should find someone better to play against. You can't get better playing with an amateur with me. " Ah, what am I saying, that would a good chance... No! It's not right! I force myself to stop adjusting my skirt.
    He gestures at the other courts. They are still playing. A few of the closely matched seniors were not even halfway done. I really am outclassed, not that I need reminding. "There's no one else to change with. We can get another game in. Think of it as me giving you a lesson. "
    Ah. So that's why. Yes, there is no reason to read too deeply into it. He can't be wanting another game with me. There's just no other choice.
    "Um... you need the practice more than I do. Tennis is important to you," I can't be holding him back.
    He raises an eyebrow and smiles gently, "all right, I won't hold back then. "
    Wait wait wait... he was holding back? That was holding back?! He tosses the ball into the air and whacks it. Before I even take a step, the ball hits the fence behind me. Ugh, how am I even supposed to reach it, much less hit? Well, at least he won't be wasting his time, getting to practice serving.
    "Don't just stand there," he shouts over, "chase the ball. You won't get better like that!"
    I force myself to move after the ball. At least he doesn't hit it all over the court, instead aiming somewhere near me so I can barely reach them. Not that I can hit them at all. Just getting the racquet in the path of the ball takes everything I have. Darn, I get the feeling he's toying with me, putting them just outside my reach. Does he find it fun to watch me run around futilely?
    "The next one is a big one!" he shouts over and takes a swing, putting all his power behind it. There's a loud crack as the ball speeds over... oh, it's heading this way, I can reach this one easily. No... it's heading straight for me! I flinch and block with my racquet, but the force of the ball smashes it into my face.


    And 87 words for AT x HP
    Spoiler
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    There was a knock on his door and the old wizard walked in. The man of the hour!
    "Dumbledore! Come, come, take a seat!" Fudge gestured at the chair across the Minister's desk. The Chief Warlock settled himself in gratefully. "It's terrible! The Tower is sending an embassy to the muggles! The Statute won't survive this!"
    The old wizard simply looked at him. It was irritating how Dumbledore always managed to make Fudge feel as if he was still learning transfiguration under the man.


    Which was a tiny little bit before I got stuck... T_T

  6. - Top - End - #66
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Denmark
    Gender
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    1558 words about knights and stuff

    Spoiler: A tale of three knights, part three
    Show
    As fate would have it, all three knights faced their greatest challenge on the same night. When darkness fell, the enemies of the good king moved as one.
    The overwhelming force of the dark army massed and pushed through the slim passage of the mountain pass. Sir Williams men stood strong against them, but in the face of overwhelming odds, they slowly faltered and many of them fell.
    Sir William gathered his elite knight, readying them for one last desperate counter attack. There was little hope of overcoming the opposing army, but they readied their weapons none the less.
    The rebel forces assaulted the home of the kings son. With too few men and no hope for reinforcements Sir Cilian fought a hopeless battle. He held them at bay for some time, but it was clear that he could not hold them forever.
    And so he left his men to fight against the rebel forces Bringing only a small group of his most loyal men and the son of his liege he fled towards a nearby forest. Distracted by the desperate last stand, the rebels did not realise that their target was gone, until Sir Cillian had gained a good head start.
    As soon as they realised the ploy, the rebels sent riders to catch and kill the son of the Good King. They found the trail of the knight and his men, and followed them to the forest. With nowhere to run and to few men to make a fight of it, Sir Cillian grew desperate.
    Meanwhile, in the Good King’s own castle, shadows stirred and agents of the enemy moved as well. In the cover of night, they made their move. Their aim was to murder the Good King himself, but they knew that he was watched by his most loyal knight at all time. So they acted to remove that obstacle first.
    Ten armed men found Sir Falon and his second in command. They drew steel and went for the kill, but even outnumbered on to five, the knights made them pay for the kill. Four of the attackers fell, and it looked like the rest were ready to flee. And then, betrayal.
    Sir Fallon had trusted his second, and the enemy had seen that truth and spoken words of shadow and falsehood in the man’s ear. His name has long since been forgotten, and to this day, Sir Fallon’s second is only known as the betrayer.
    When victory seemed within grasp, the betrayer turned his hand against Sir Fallon, and the knigt fell bleeding to the floor, a dagger wedged between the plates of his armour. The betrayer and his remaining men left him to bleed out, and moved to end the Good King.
    In that darkest of nights, in the most desperate of circumstances, the Three knights raised their voices. They spoke, not in despair or in fury, but in stuborn determination.
    Sir William looked upon the moon and spoke aloud an oath: “Give me strength to fight my enemy, and and I shall make a spectacle, a dance of steel and death under your light.”
    Sir Cillian hidden among the green of the forest spoke in a whisper to the trees around him: “See to it that both i and my charge lives, and as long as we do I shall protect this forest.”
    And Sir Fallon bleeding out on the floor in the barracks of his lords castle rasped into the darkness: “Give me the strenght to rise and wield my blade against those who betrayed me, and I shall draw their blood in your honour.”
    In the darknes of the night, their words rang out true and dire. And though no man heard the pledges of the three Knights,their oths did not go unheard.
    The Moon, The Forest and The Darkness took heed of those promises, and the knights were granted what they asked for.
    And so, when the dark army came rushing into the mountain pass, ready to trample all over the defenders, it was not met by men in armor wielding swords. Instead great beasts, like wolves walking on two legs came forth to meet the dark army’s advance. With a fury and ferousity seldom seen before or since, the monstrous knights tore into their enemies.
    The strength granted to them by the moon was such that the great army cracked and fled before it came close to breaching the mountain pass. The wolf creatures persued their enemies ruthlessly, tearing apart any they caught, and leaving a trail of blood and gor behind them.
    In the deep of the forest, rebels searched for Sir Cillian and his charge. They searched his and low, turning over every leaf, and found nothing. The forest itself had hidden away the knight and his men, and they waited patiently for the rebels to split up. As soon as any of the rebels isolated themselves, the forest would open to reveal Cillian and his men, and the isolated rebels would fal to a hail of arrows.
    More than thirty men lost their lives searching the forest that knight, before the rebels gave up the search and withdrew. None of them saw the forest knights and lived to report it to their comrades.
    In the darkness of the barracks, Sir Fallon lay bleeding. His raspin voice ecchoed in the empty darkness. And then his blood stopped flowing out of him, he thought he would feel the cold embrace of death, instead the pain simply stopped.
    In a slow, tentative motion the knight moved to stand. He found his feet, and felt so trace of the wounds that had come so close to killing him. He saw the world through reddened eyes, and could not tell that the floor he stood on was slick with blood. His own and that of his enemies. He knew then, that his own men led by the betrayer were moving to end the life of his king. So he ran.
    Like a shadow he raced through the castle, and he found the would be assasins in the throne room. They had failed to find the king in his bed chambers, and so had come to the seat of his power, to snuff his life and take that power from him.
    The Good King sat on his throne, and the men stood before him, weapons drawn, when Sir Fallon entered the room.
    The first assasin fell to Sir Fallon’s blade before he had time to face his opponent. Two mor whirled bringing weapons to bear on the fallen knight, and Sir Fallon cut their hands from their arms.
    Then the Betrayer turned his sword against Sir Fallon for the second time that night. Instead of defending himself, Sir Fallon let the blade slide home, and then trapped it with his own flesh, leaving the Betrayer defenceless against his attack. The traitor would have died right thent, had the last one of his men not distracted Sir Fallon at a critical moment.
    In a desperate attempt to fell the undying knight, the man shouted his terror and disdain and struck at Sir Fallon’s back. The bladed dug deep into Sir Fallon’s shoulder, and the knight reacted with a single flick of his own blade, spilling the heartblood of the soldier.
    The betrayer took that seconds distraction as his chance to flee. Leaving behind his blade trapped in Sir Fallon’s flesh, he ran for his life. The knight might have caught up to the Betrayer and dealt with hime appropriately, had not his pact taken a toll on him at that moment.
    Instead of taking up persuit, the undying knight sank to his knees over the body of his fallen foe, and drank deeply of the other’s life blood. Right there in front of the throne of his king, Sir Fallon disgraced his name, by drinking the blood of another.
    Both the Good king and the Betrayer lived the knight. There was a funeral for Sir Fallon, a massive ceremony sending the loyal knight safely to the hereafter. The entire city watched the proceedings and the Good King himself spoke solemn words over the casket.
    Sir Fallon watched his own funeral from the shadows. He was no longer welcome in the castle, The king had cast him out when her saw the creature the knight had become. He found that the sunlight hurt him now, so he stayed inside for the day, and waited for nightfall to leave the city. To seek a new place to dwell, perhaps new ways to serve his liege.
    In the mountain pass, the remains of Sir William’s army surveyed the batlefield in the dim light of morning. There was no sign of the great beasts that had driven off the dark army, and they worried what they would do if the army returned. Sir William and his men were harried and worn, they showed little pride in their victory.
    The enemy would not return for a long while, and the greater part of Sir Williams army returned to help the Good King rout the rebels. Only sir William and his elite knights stayed to stand vigil in the pass.
    To this day rumers hold that strange beasts stalk those mountains in the moonlight, and the people who lives there stay behind locked doors at night.

  7. - Top - End - #67
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    922 for Record of the Inherited Memory Girl's Efforts

    98 in various revisions to the old Chapter 1 and 2
    +170 to an extra section to chapter 2
    +654 for the start of the "past" sidestory
    Spoiler: New Chp1 & 2
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    <Download complete. >

    Petra jerked awake, feeling very very odd.
    For one thing, her eyes were heavy, she was incredibly sleepy, and she felt as if she was being smothered by a heavy weight. And her body also felt awkward and uncoordinated. The blurry blue box of the System floating above her gave up waiting for input and winked closed.
    And while questions arose together with a sinking dread, she was just so sleepy...

    The first thought that occurred to her after Petra awoke properly was that the experiment had gone wrong.
    What she should have seen was the roof of the medical room, a nurse to check on her, all the soft sounds of the company's offices.
    What she actually saw was a wooden ceiling, no one in her field of view and only a faint twittering of birds in the distance. In fact, her head was heavy and she couldn't move her arms or legs beyond a spastic jerk.
    Had she suffered brain damage from the upload process? That was vanishingly unlikely, the upload process was perfectly safe, being read only.
    The opening of the door startled her and a wordless cry came out of Petra's mouth, almost involuntarily.
    There was a sob and the person who opened the door rushed over to Petra, picked her up and started crying happily over her. "Alice, you're awake! You're safe! Thank the System!"
    The woman who had picked up Petra was fair skinned with a long braid of black hair tossed over her shoulder. She wore a practical and undyed cotton dress, with soft texture that felt reassuring to Petra's skin. Biologically younger than Petra when she had gone to sleep and with a sharpness to her face that had softened in sheer relief, the woman continued to babble without knowing that Petra was listening to every word in stunned silence.
    It seemed that she had gone to sleep for a mind scan and woken up in the body of a year old baby.

    Being a baby, she had trouble even lifting her head when lying down. She had to learn how to move her arms and legs all over again, like a trauma patient in rehabilitation. Talking was right out, the most Petra could manage was an uncoordinated babble.
    What Petra had gleaned from her mother's daytime baby talk and carrying her around the house however was worrying. There was no sign of any of the devices Petra had recognized in the past, no air control, doorways left empty or the doors were manually operated, no appliances or servant wisps. Even the ever present AR object identification was missing. It was a confusing and strange world she had woken up to, with much fewer comforts than she had come to expect.
    Petra still felt safe in her mother's arms. Even going so far as to call her 'mother' in her mind, something that felt innately obvious to her.
    She expected to be shocked at the sudden change in the world, and the loss of all her friends and family, but none of it seemed to matter. 'Mother' was here and 'Father' came back at day's end and her parents fussed over her awakening, therefore loved her and thus all was right in the world. With a bone deep certainty that lulled her to sleep in her mother's arms long before dark.
    It was a distracting few days before she realized that she really was a baby again, complete with the instincts of a baby and even the vague baby memories of her past few months that her baby self was not able to interpret before she had woken up with Petra's memories. And no matter how much more experience Petra had, Alice was the actual body. The result was a fusion between Alice and Petra, Petra's goals and motivation were incomprehensible to baby Alice and she just couldn't work up enough urgency to care. Not that Alice remembered having any goals or motivations beyond food and mummy before all this.
    She was just as much Alice as Petra, even if Petra's memories and maturity were sharing her head.
    Then again, it seemed that her body was called Alice, so she better get used to that name. Babies did not name themselves after all.
    Alice felt it was less of a shock than it should have been. Another courtesy of her uncaring childish side.

    Those few days also prevented Alice from pulling up her AR system. Her parents had been worried about her, apparently Alice hadn't woken up for two days straight and now that she was awake, her mother carried Alice with her everywhere, even going so far as to sleep next to her. She even drew away attention from her newborn little sister.
    While grateful that they so obviously cared about her, Alice didn't want to suddenly call up a very visible AR window when she couldn't even talk coherently enough to give verbal commands. Mother and Father did sometimes use the "Status" command to view their personal page, that Alice never got a good look at, but they didn't seem to use the mental interface.
    Not that Alice could form words nor would normal parents believe a one year old baby could use the AR system.
    In that time, Alice found that they were speaking the exact same language that Petra remembered, which was definitely not called Common in her inherited memories, and that the Status window itself was viewed as something akin to a blessing from a god called System. A very rare few babies would be touched early by a System window at one year old, without invoking the special "System Registration" blessing, and all of them went to sleep and never woke up.
    Her parents had feared the same had happened to Alice but it seemed now that they had written it off as a strange disease coinciding with her birthday.
    So it was a few days of constant fussing that Alice was happy to indulge in and yet impatient for it to end, before she managed to find the privacy when her mother finally ran out of energy and had a midday nap together with her.
    Alice woke up first and rather than wake her mother, she opted to try opening the System.
    Status. She tested the mental command but nothing happened. Hm, she wasn't registered?
    System Registration, Name Alice.
    The characteristic blue window of the System appeared in front of her, a simple hovering box.

    <Initializing guest account, lifeforce signature registration. >

    She dutifully waited for the loading bar to fill, the window disappeared before Alice called up the Status page.

    <Alice
    Lifeforce Power: 100%
    Grafts: Self maintenance, System registration
    Skill Analysis module missing or out of date. Please reinstall your module and restart. >

    That was totally barebones. Self maintenance would allow her to convert lifeforce power to maintain her body condition, a basic civilian grade healing ability that mostly prevented you from dying so you could reach proper medical services. It also let you get away without food or water for two or three weeks before your power ran out. One did not generate lifeforce power when starving after all.
    She had nothing more than the basic set, none of Petra's lifeforce power grafts nor any modules. Not even Database or Skill Share. Then again, lifeforce grafts were not part of System even if the AR system could detect them, needing specialized medical facilities to add to one's lifeforce. Alice was not Petra after all.
    Strangely, Petra did not remember any such thing as a Skill Analysis. While such a function to label your own skills had to be present for their skill share to work, Petra definitely did not remember it being integrated into infrastructure as fundamental as Status was.
    Sighing to herself, Alice sent a mental command. Log out.
    A confirmation window appeared and she confirmed, her status window disappeared. Time to see if Petra's account was still active.
    Log in, Account Name PetraZivoska91, Password *********
    Using the mental interface to type was slow and terrible but the results of her effort was well worth it.

    <Logging in...
    Welcome Petra
    Your last log out was 311 years, 115 days, 16 hours, 23 minutes and 1 second ago
    Your local modules could not be detected or are out of date, please set updates to automatic to reinstall>

    Right as the welcome page finished displaying, another box appeared on top of it.

    <Automatic update: Messenger module missing or damaged, reinstalling now.
    Please wait. >

    She blinked at it for a moment before opening her account details page. Status was Local and wouldn't have changed apart from her new messenger module, but account details was on the System network. The difference between the Local and System was well hidden but Petra, being a module developer, knew it all like the back of her hand.
    That said, the fact that her log in had worked meant that those memories were very real.

    <Petra Zivoska
    Messenger ID: PetraZ91
    Access Level: Administrator
    Birth Date: 23/1/2191 Standard Calendar
    Privacy Mode: OFF
    Automatically Open Government Alerts: OFF
    ---Automatic Updates---
    Local System: OFF
    Skill Analysis: OFF
    Messenger: ON
    Aggregated News: OFF
    Global Maps: OFF
    Network Fileshare: OFF
    Wisp Control: OFF
    Database: OFF
    Skill Share: OFF>

    Huh. So it was over three hundred years since Petra's last login and her account had not been archived. Judging by Petra's 115 years of age at her last memory before the upload process, that would put the current date at least over 2617. Petra also wasn't a System Administrator, a government access level that could change someone's System permissions, perform routing actions on the System's grid network and even commit updates and changes to the underlying software the System ran.
    A module developer would only have access to an experimental System grid within their local offices to prevent crashes from affecting public utilities. Likely Petra was dead, there was no way an admin would get away without logging in for hundreds of years. And having a System Administrator account remain active even after death was a major security no-no, someone with administrator access had to have prevented the automatic archival.
    Alice had a very bad feeling that something terrible had happened. Three hundred years would have made the world unrecognizable to Petra, and while this wooden house was unrecognizable in its lack of everything, that was not what Petra had imagined when she speculated about the far future.
    She set Privacy Mode to ON and the windows faded into a mental construct that only Alice could see.
    The Messenger module finished installation into her Local and another box popped up, Petra had evidently set a macro. This one was a long message.

    <Hi to myself, if you've logged in to our account, this message should have displayed as soon as possible.
    Now, you're probably wondering what is going on, waking up as a baby after the upload. Well, the simple explanation is that you're the full upload copy of me. I'm not sure if you're mentally stable since we've never done this before, a full mental download into a person with their own memories and everything would drive them crazy instantly. I hope as a baby, there won't be any memories to interfere with the process.
    If you're reading this, I have likely succeeded. Log in to the System Administration Console and you can set the Reincarnation Macro to stop, otherwise it will find a new baby to download into every year if it finds a compatible mind. I have setup a tiny module you can download to control that macro, it will test your mental stability using the sanity index we at Skill Share developed, I suggest you let that module control the macro in case you're not stable in the long term.
    As to why I did something that would get me jailed by the government and yelled out of any ethics committee, please understand that our situation is desperate.
    I will likely die shortly after I have finished this message, the zombies are battering at the gates even as I type this. It is literally the end of the world.
    Right after our mental upload to refine Skill Share into something workable, the company was attacked by the Liberty fighters terrorist group. They wanted us to give our system away, like Database did, and decided to extort us of our research at gun point. Unfortunately, they did not tell us what they were going to do, so I gave them the incomplete system thinking they would drive themselves insane. They instead published it as a Database Update. Yes, that was not my best moment.
    It's not every day one ends the world accidentally.
    This is not a good time to laugh.
    With essentially 99.9% of the world population totally insane yet trained in every single martial arts that anyone alive knows, I am not sure if humanity will survive this. It was all our research team could do to seal the Database servers to prevent future updates, I performed the permission escalation attack on System itself to give myself Administrator rights so I could disconnect Database entirely. Database is frozen now, you cannot read it without physical access to the server. I strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with System Administrator functions to hack yourself a Developer access to Database before you attempt to retrieve anything. The faulty Skill Share macro in Database is still active and likely will drive insane anyone who connects to it.
    Skill Share's memory scramble effect is solved and I leave Skill Share to you, though I have abused my Administrator rights to make the Skill Analysis module a default part of Status. Just say Install Skill Analysis and your skills will appear on your Status. I've also added on to the Analysis tool a global comparison to see what other people have learnt that you have yet to do so. I just hope that being able to see how far you have yet to go is motivating.
    Skill Analysis is a module that can break down skills into discrete components and analyse it for overlap with similar components in other people's skills. We never managed to create a good visualization for this overlapping, being extremely high dimensional, all we could do was give you a number of similar components you have in relation to the components anyone else might have across the world, as well as create a subtraction process to average out similar components you have versus those you are downloading. Yes, we managed to make duplicate skills overlap instead of being separate skills you need to manually integrate into each other by practice.
    I did not make Skill Share or Messenger a default module. With Skill Share having caused this apocalypse, I could not convince the team to allow anything other than read-only functions to work on something automatically granted like guest accounts. If you wish to do that, I have left notes in our network Fileshare on how to set it up with the Administrator privileges.
    I have made the same notes on making new accounts of Citizen, Supervisor or Administrator privileges, as well as disabling the death archival process. I have speculated on how to bootstrap lifeforce grafts from nothing and have a few ideas on being at least able to copy grafts but wholesale engineering is something you'll have to figure out for yourself.
    There may be surviving people out there. I don't know. There's only three of us left, our food will likely outlast our defenses and the roaming hordes of hungry mind zombies will tear us limb from limb. We've survived three months, we won't reach four.
    This Reincarnation gambit of mine is a secret from the rest of the team. I am not sure it will even work but I doubt much of our civilization will survive this. Database and its corrupted skill records are sealed, we stopped using physical media a long time ago and any survivors will be too few, too scattered and without the magical infrastructure needed to rebuild anything. If they survive the hordes anyway.
    My mental copy, mental module software, Skill Share itself and what notes on lifeforce grafts I remember, I have set the System to create copies of what knowledge we have to prevent destruction. The System Network itself is also set to self maintenance mode and should cover the entire world by now.
    I have set the System to find one year old babies and download my mental copy into them, starting a hundred years from now and if more than a hundred thousand valid targets exist. If civilization has rebuilt, then feel free to enjoy your life with some extra historical knowledge. If not, then please, I do not wish for our legacy to be lost like this. There is much good you can do with our knowledge of the System and mental modules, please make the world a better place.
    But in the end, those are just my wishes. I have no idea how you will think and what the future may be like. Even if you are a copy of me, your life is yours to live and not mine to dictate. Do as you will, this is all I can present to you.
    A ghost of your past, Petra Zivoska>

    Alice sat in her mother's arms stunned. Petra's memories had no indication that the end of the world was approaching. Even now, all her memories were ones of accomplishment, progress and optimism. And her newfound maturity wasn't any help in deciding what to do.
    Alice was a one year old baby! Even if she could think clearly and had a century of memories in her head, that didn't mean she could just accept the old Petra's desire for her to... to do what? Improve the world?
    Ah, this must be a bad dream of some sort. Petra had told her to live her life as she wanted. Fine! Alice would do just that. She might end up a very intelligent one year old, with some strange memories and System permissions, but Alice was just going to grow up like a normal kid and decide what to do later.
    Mhm.
    Alice rolled over deeper into her mother's embrace, wriggling her cloth pajamas into a more comfortable position. Time to sleep.

    Growing up in a peasant farmer's household was far harsher than any of Petra's experiences, but Alice decided to take life as it came. After all, her mother, father, two older brothers and one younger sister, all of them were her family. They had enough to eat, even if bland and unvaried compared to Petra's food. Potatoes, root vegetables and chicken was their feed.
    Alicia, her mother, was weather beaten with age and work and her body showed signs of her four pregnancies. Still, one could see in her fair skin and decent figure that Alicia had been relatively pretty when she was younger. It gave Alice a bit of hope of her own appearances, which were similar to her mother's. Long dark hair and expressive black eyes were the family traits. Nothing like Petra's dazzling raw perfection of lifeforce modification though.
    Her mother was stern and occasionally snapped at them irritably, but Alice could tell that the harsh realities of their life was wearing on her mother. None of the outbursts were truly angry and Alice always made sure to hug her mother whenever that happened. It never failed to melt the steely mask her mother put on outside of their home.
    There was apparently a custom that the oldest daughter would inherit a shorter variant of their mother's name, until there was no possible contraction, upon which a new long name would be picked. So Alice's first daughter would be Ari and her granddaughter would have something new, preferably not starting with 'A'. The same applied to the first son and the father.
    Denka, her father, was wiry and not much taller than her mother. But his body concealed a strength and stamina forged through countless hours of fieldwork and hunting. He shared her mother's black eyes but his hair was more a dark brown than black. Quiet and not outspoken, her father was still knowledgeable about the forest and land, paying great attention to his farming and hunting in order to feed the family. Yet, if any of the family were truly threatened, Denka would show his seething anger and deal with the threat coldly and ruthlessly.
    Alice still remembered crying for hours after seeing her father use his hoe to grind to a fine paste a poisonous snake that had almost bit her. The cold fury on her father's face was not something she would ever forget and she had to comfort him in slow lisping words afterwards. The sadness in his eyes was heartbreaking for the short time when he thought he had frightened Alice. She lied that it was not her father's face that had shook her, just the snake.
    Her elder brothers, Den and Erias, were almost clones of their father. The same pointed nose, slightly short stature, only their black hair was at all like mother. Both of them were hardworking, like father, though Erias was more adventurous and dreamed of leaving the village one day. Den however, wanted him to stay and help on the farm, dreaming of an extended family like the bigger households nearer the center of the village.
    Alice's younger sister, Rishiamaher, was clearly the subject of high hopes from her mother, what with the absurdly long name to cut down through the generations; the family nicknamed her Ri. The mischievous little monkey was fast and she dodged all of Alice's attempts to rein her in. Her feet were fast and sure and Ri had never tripped a single time in her life. Only a year younger, with golden-brown hair and fair features, Ri was also set to be the most beautiful girl in the village of her generation.
    They had no cousins and only Den remembered their grandparents. Denka's brothers and sisters had all left the village, leaving Denka the farm.
    Alice loved them all, and ignored the way her father and mother sighed at Ri when her sister wasn't looking. Her parents treated Ri and Alice fairly and equally. Unless a problem appeared, Alice would do the same too.
    Still, Alice kept her memories a secret. Alice wasn't sure if her family would treat her differently if she told them, and she was already considered a weirdly intelligent child as she was unable to act her age. While childish amusements did distract her easily, Alice quickly grew bored of non-physical games she learnt too easily. Some day, Alice would find the courage to tell her parents, when she could trust them more.
    On her third birthday, Alice was taken to the governor's building and the man in charge of the entire village had recited the same guest registration process and activated skill analysis for her account. Alice was deathly afraid her secret memories were about to be exposed but he didn't even look at her AR display. Nothing strange appeared on her Status however, only the lone Common Language line was shown.
    She quickly swapped back to Petra's account though, after changing all the personal details to match Alice's. At the same time, the redundant language blessing was given and Alice decided to no longer conceal her adult like vocabulary.
    This drew a little suspicion but it was eventually written off that her language developed faster than others. Children took time to integrate the language blessing from the System and while most were completely fluent by five years of age, Alice's sudden development of language mastery in a week stood out.
    Alice dutifully kept her mouth shut about the truth about the language blessing. Whoever it was that had made a language skill a default download for all accounts, it wasn't Petra, judging by the contents of her letter.
    The results of the Skill Analysis was also surprising. She had nothing at all, despite having all of Petra's memories. Querying the System using Petra's access, she found out that Petra had adjusted Skill Analysis to ignore any memories gained from downloading Petra.
    So it was with some relief that Alice got through her third birthday without raising too many questions.

    Helping out on her parents' farming efforts, Alice could only peel and wash vegetables or grain. After all, no matter how mature she was, Alice was just a five year old.
    Their village was a small one with only three hundred population. Growing food and hunting wildlife were the main activities, even if the grain tax to the governor took half of all the produce. But the villagers could do nothing about that.
    The village was in the domain of the Elemental Empire, itself composed of four magical clans that each manipulated one of the four elements, Fire, Air, Earth and Water. The governor of Alice's village, Lochar, was an offshoot of a branch family of the Divine Fire Clan, essentially a nobody. A third son of an unimportant family, whose only prospect was to be consigned to squeeze taxes from a small village, protecting it from monsters and keeping the peasants in line.
    He and his daughter could shoot fireballs from their hands. Upon arrival, Lochar had demanded all the virgin women in the village line up in front of him and chose the prettiest one to be his bride. Mindful of potential inheritance disputes, the governor had not ordered any others to his bed, much to the relief of everyone else.
    No matter how much the villagers resented this state of affairs, what could they do against someone who could easily burn the whole village down if he felt like it one day? His wife's brother had objected to her forced marriage by attempting to poison the governor and had been made an example of.
    No one else said a peep as the man was sold off as a criminal slave.
    That said, Lochar was not stupid or lazy. He had ended the dispute between two of the older farming families by force, rallied a tiny militia to beat back encroaching monsters and used his powers to clear swathes of forest by fire. Abusing his absolute power, the governor conscripted sons and daughters into reclaiming the cleared forest land and even tried to start a pottery work with clay from the river.
    Underneath his fiery boot, Lochar had quashed all the petty squabbles by uniting the village with the threat of force. Within this tiny pond, Lochar was king. Of course, the governor had did that to improve tax yields and thus his position in the clans but the villagers did receive some trickle down benefits. By the time Alice was born, in the same year as Lochar's daughter, all thought of rebellion had ended and the villagers had adjusted to living under his firm yoke.
    All of this wasn't an unusual state of affairs in the Elemental Empire, as the governor's speeches to the children said. The Clans were familial in structure, their magical abilities were all dynastic, and each family had a network of relatives to call upon in case they needed extra firepower. On top of clearing monsters and ruling by force, their magical abilities were also indispensable. Fire was used to clear land, metalworking and as the strongest element for military use. Water could adjust water supplies and control floods. Earth was suitable for terraforming and mining. Air could predict and influence weather, as well as control rainfall in conjunction with Water.
    If a village had a clan family attached, the governor would use their abilities as well as trade favours with the other three clans. Together with the familial hierarchy and the discipline expected of clan members, they often caused their territories to develop rapidly. At the cost of a tyrannical government that viewed the no-ability villagers as nothing more than raw labour force.

    Of course, Petra's memories spoke of the real truth. Humans didn't normally have magical abilities like that. Alice recognized those as variants on a certain class of lifeforce grafts. Those with that series could expand their lifeforce boundary outside their skin, and with lifeforce to power the active abilities, create changes in the environment within that expanded boundary. Originally experimented on animals to create self-replicating cannon fodder for war, some of Petra's memories aligned roughly with what Alice heard of monsters, the same innovations had been applied to humans.
    Those artificial soldiers with extensive combat mods eventually became known as Alva, created as a black project by a military scientist. What to do with clone soldiers who could demolish whole city blocks with enough lifeforce power, or with many in concert and an external power tap could unleash destruction on the scale of strategic weapons, was a thorny question not yet solved by the time Petra's memories ended.
    It appeared that some of those had not been drive insane by the faulty Skill Share. And of course, Alva would have no trouble surviving hordes of zombies. Likely they would have been able to shelter some normal humans too and with their power, would naturally float to the top in the post-collapse society where military strength would rule.

    Alice sighed mentally and closed the window. Accessing the account activity logs in the system, even when out of date by a year for AR nodes on the other side of the planet, had revealed that no Administrators or Supervisors had logged in within the last two hundred years.
    She would have started studying the lifeforce modification notes that Petra wrote but her fifth year was full of chores. Much more than usual. She couldn't find the time or energy after the work was done to test the manual rune writing used before rise of magical technology in ancient history.
    Alice dumped the basket of wheat chaff she had painstakingly picked out of the harvested brans. Petra's memories of what farms were like pre-collapse only told of large magical devices that automatically harvested, sorted and even milled the wheat. Obviously, Alice had no ability to reproduce any of that, Petra didn't even know how they worked.
    She bent down and swept into her basket another load of fallen chaff her mother had fanned to the floor with a wooden rod. She had to pick out the small amounts of wheat from the chaff.
    Normally, chaff was separated from the wheat by blowing air over the harvest with a fan. Chaff would fly further than wheat and the fallen wheat that fell nearby could be collected. With multiple rounds, most of the chaff would be blown away. Inevitably, this also blew away some wheat with the chaff but retrieving those was deemed to be not worth the labour to retrieve manually.
    Not this harvest. Every child too young to work in the fields was pressed into this task during the harvest sorting.
    "Mama," Alice looked up at her mother, seeing the lines of exhaustion on her mother's face.
    "Yes Alice?" her mother continued to fan the wheat.
    "Why are we doing this, mama?"
    Her elder brothers paused and looked conflicted but resumed their fanning work when her mother glared at them.
    Her mother sighed deeply, "the first time this happened was when you were born. That was a difficult year. Harvests were falling, just like now, and Lochar demanded the same improvement in yield. At the time, no one knew what was going on and some youths were even discussing trying to attack the governor. "
    The wheat yields had been falling as Alice was growing up too, Petra's memories indicated that the continuous planting of wheat every year was exhausting the land, but in the village meeting before the wheat planting, Lochar had given instructions to the entire village that the harvest was to be increased by a third. Yields were to be made up by expanding the farm area. Hunting and gathering activity was to be at a minimum until after harvest, whereupon every able bodied adult would strip the land around them clean.
    Alice had wondered at the unused farmland all around the village that was much larger than the adults could normally plow and plant. Supposedly, that area had been cleared of forest by Lochar after he arrived.
    "We knew, from stories of other villages, that Lochar's demand to plant wheat all the time for tax was going to result in this situation. And yet, there was nothing we could do to him. That year, a branch of the Divine Earth clan sent thirty Fingers and one Palm to consecrate our village. The huge harvest we sweated and bled for was taken away by them," her mother sighed again, "they came, we threw large feasts every day, forced to wait on them. The sorcerers set up a huge ceremony in the middle of the village, did their magic that none could see, took as much as they could and left. In the end, we were left with nothing for our efforts. But what could we do? Lochar was bad enough, but he's just a Finger of Fire. The Palm of Earth could destroy our village with a wave of a hand. "
    She continued, "the next year, the wheat yields were twice what they were before Lochar arrived. That is what the Consecration cycle is, as explained by our governor. Every five years, when our land grows poor, we have to make an extraordinary effort to pay the Divine Earth clan to restore the land. Then we plant wheat every year until the land is exhausted again. "
    Hm. Wouldn't that mean that her family was going to eat poorly for the rest of the year? Alice did think that her food had reduced a little, so it wasn't just her imagination! And more importantly, she wasn't going to get the time to herself to 'play'. Alice did want to start testing the ancient runic script that Petra had made notes on.
    "So there's no chance I'm going to get any time to play for the rest of the month?" Alice asked.
    "I'm afraid not, dear. "

    The grueling month of work came to an end two days before the Earth clan arrived in their village. Their harvest was collected, the wheat, fruits and meat stockpiled in their barns. The village was overflowing with the collected food, with earthenware pots of pickles, bread and fairer delicacies stacking high in their houses.
    The day the Earth clan arrived, Lochar had the entire village, down to the last newborn baby, turn out along the road that afternoon to welcome them in.
    "Ri!"
    The excited shout turned heads but Toli's gang of boys paid no attention. Alice grinned at them as her sister paled and hid behind her back.
    "Toli, Jo and Bachi, aren't you supposed to be with your parents?" Alice asked innocently.
    The three boys were dressed in the local best clothing, which was still terrible by Petra's standards, all the festival bead decorations hanging off their caps in a jingling mess. In contrast, Alice and Ri had their beads woven into their braided hair by their mother earlier today.
    "Hey, Alice," Toli grinned back, peeking around her shoulder. Ri shuffled around her, keeping Alice between them. Without looking, Alice already knew her sister's face was totally red.
    That childish crush was so adorable!
    She would have fun teasing her sister into a puddle of embarrassment once this hell of work was ended. Toli, in his dense insensitive way, just thought it was funny how Ri acted so differently in front of him.
    "Hey. " "Hi!" Jo and Bachi greeted her as well. Alice nodded back at them.
    "Don't think I didn't notice you're dodging the question," Alice said smugly.
    Toli ended his game of chasing her sister and looked sheepish, "well, every time I see them, we get told to do something. There's just no time to play any more! I wish the Earth people didn't have to come. "
    She frowned and looked back at her parents but they were distracted with talking to old man Tas, a neighbour.
    "Shh, you don't want Lochar to get angry with you," Alice hissed. Inwardly, she was glad none of the adults had noticed Toli's words. He would surely get scolded.
    "Eh, you can't scare me with that, Lochar doesn't care about us," he waved a hand dismissively, grinning at his friends. It was something of a childish game, to show that one wasn't afraid of even the governor. A way to reinforce social status, Petra's ghost whispered in Alice's ear.
    "Anyway-"
    Alice's words were cut off with a shout from the front of the lines. The crowd lining the dirt road stirred and everyone looked to the village entrance. Out of the corner of her eye, Alice saw Lochar and his daughter position themselves in the middle of the open space at the center of the village. Right in front of the rows of tables and chairs laid out by the villagers last night.
    The Earth sorcerers had arrived.

    The travelling group contained more than fifty people, but the brown robes of the Earth sorcerers were obvious. There was also the way that none of them held any baggage, leaving it up to their white robed servants to struggle with the horses and masses of empty carts.
    Lochar greeted the leader of the group of Earth sorcerers with a deep bow. A hand wave into a fist sent out a serpent of fire as thick as his arm to drip angry flaming droplets onto the dirt ground of the village center. His daughter beside him, golden curls bouncing, did the same hand wave but all that happened was a small gout of flame shooting out from her fist.
    The two Palms of Earth, marked by their greater ornamentation of iron and gold, brought their hands together with a clap that was echoed immediately by their entourage of Fingers. In an practiced motion, they all stamped their feet at the same time. There was a huge deep noise and the ground vibrated beneath their feet, as if someone had hit the ground like a drum.
    They bowed back to Lochar, but distinctly shallower.
    Having proved their identities, Lochar guided the Earth sorcerers to the tables and barked at the villagers to set out the feast they had prepared.
    Alice carried a small basket of bread, standing around as rehearsed for any of the thirty or so sorcerers to fill their plates with. Lochar sat at the head of the table, with the two Palms of Earth sitting on either side. Despite his position, it was clear the two of them were the superior in this meeting and they only let him sit there because he was the host.
    Ri stood beside Alice, holding another basket of forest fruit. Her sister watched the feast with envious eyes and Alice had to nudge her occasionally to get her to keep up.
    "More bread!" called one of the Fingers of Earth close to them. In the setting sun, their faces all blurred together and the way they treated the villagers as if they were just made of air did not help Alice in remembering who they were.
    Alice stepped forward to place a hard loaf in front of the man. He snatched it up and bit into it without even looking at her.
    As she moved back to her position in the line, Ri sighed beside her. "I wish we had something to eat too," she whispered.
    There was nothing she could say to her sister. They watched the raucous feasting in front of them silently.
    "Gah!"
    The shout behind them was not early enough for Alice to dodge. The boy carrying the flagon of mead tripped into her and they went down messily. Drink and bread flew everywhere, drenching Alice's clothes with the yellow liquid and the smell of alcohol. Ri bounced away from her, ignoring the hit on her shoulder with nothing more than a skip back, not even dropping a single piece of bread from her basket.
    The catastrophe attracted the attention of the feasters as the sorcerers all stared at them. Alice could only look up at them in terror, the boy next to her sniffled in a vain attempt to stop his panicked tears.
    No. They were not looking at Alice, all their eyes were focused on her sister. Who met their looks with a confused and worried frown.
    "Lochar, who is this girl?" asked the female Palm of Earth mildly. Despite her gentle tone, the words made Alice shiver. They were like a hidden knife, a hair away from unleashing death and destruction.
    "Lady Erina, that is Rishiamaher, second daughter of Alicia. The one on the ground is Alice," Lochar answered.
    "And her father?"
    "That would be Denka. One of the farmers. He owns a plot-"
    "He's not her father," snapped the woman.
    "Did Alicia serve at the last Consecration?" asked the male Palm of Earth on Lochar's other side.
    Lochar didn't answer. Instead the three of them just stared at Ri. Similarly, all Alice could do was watch.
    A few seconds of uncomfortable scrutiny let their parents rush up behind them. Alice brushed pieces of bread back into the basket as her father checked her for injuries. Ri seemed frozen to her spot.
    "Alicia, who was it, five years ago?" Lochar asked her mother.
    "That was Broma," she replied with a hurried bow.
    The two Palms shook their head. The woman, Erina, spoke up, "no. He's Palm now. And the nephew of the Eighth Valley branch head. You would have thought he would be more careful but I suppose rumours have to come from somewhere. We can't take her. The scandal would make us all enemies of him. "
    Another silence.
    "What do you intend to do?" Lochar asked them, no doubt the same question running through Alice's parents' minds. Though Ri was still completely confused as to what was going on, Alice already had a hunch and judging from her parent's reaction, it was correct.
    The woman shrugged, "we can't train her. Keep her away from Consecrations, don't let her have children. Untrained, nothing will happen. If something does happen, it won't start with me. I'm not going to risk that sort of attention. "
    It was with great relief when Lochar let her family be excused from the rest of the feasting duty.
    Her parents hurried them back to their home with haste, both to wash Alice's clothing and to avoid further attention. All the way, Ri was still stunned at the strange happenings, and mother and father were in no rush to explain.
    Ri was going to be insufferable when Alice told her she had magic. Not until the Earth clan had left though.

    The Consecration ceremony lasted from dawn to midday.
    The two Palms sat in the center, backs to each other, with the Fingers sitting in two rings around them. Occupying the center of the village, everyone had once again turned up to watch them, all work in the fields and travel into the forest beyond was prohibited by order of the governor.
    It was boring. Really really boring. All they did was sit there.
    According to her mother, the first time was the same. According to what Petra knew of how lifeforce grafts worked, each of the sorcerers had to be expanding the boundaries of a huge magical effect outwards over the land. That covering such a large area was not how grafts were supposed to be used was understating matters. It was inefficient and would consume lifeforce power just to expand that influence. It was almost always easier to travel there yourself, throw the results of your magic or even move the whole effect itself, rather than cast at a massive distance.
    The fact that the thirty Fingers were sharing their power with the two Palms was the only reason why the Consecration could work at all.
    If Alice had a Sensor class graft, something that was clearly part of their set, she would be able to see the boundaries they had set up. If she had an Analysis class graft, she might even be able to take snapshots of the rune base describing the effect they were using. Since they had so kindly included her in the boundary, it would be trivial to intercept whatever they were doing.
    Having none of them, she saw and felt nothing at all.
    Beside her, Ri gaped down at the ground, seeing things that no one else could. If the feast last night hadn't convinced Alice, this would. She clearly had a sensor graft as part of the whole Earth sorcerer package.
    At midday, the Earth clan sorcerers were done. Most of the Fingers just sat there, groaning with exhaustion. Alice had discreetly used her Administrator powers to observe their Status pages.
    Most of them had lifeforce power in the single digit percent or actually at zero. Having zero lifeforce power remaining would shut down the self maintenance graft that everyone had, which explained why they were so exhausted. Not a healthy state to remain in for a long time but without further drain, they would recover quickly. Switching to quantified view showed most of them had maximums of hundreds of units, according to Petra's memories, magical devices could demolish a sturdy stone building on a budget of four or five hundred.
    The Palms, however, were at eighty percent and a maximum of about a thousand units. None of Petra's memories had indicated that anyone in the pre-collapse society had that much power. There was just no need for that amount of power grafts, and they risked giving someone so much power they couldn't be policed. How they managed to get that much lifeforce storage and power generation, Petra had no answer for. Plus, they were the leaders of that magical effect, how did they avoid spending most of their lifeforce on this? Not every question could be answered by consulting Alice's inherited memory, however.
    That said, from what Petra's memories contained of the Earth strain Alvas, the Consecration had likely just adjusted the contents of the soil. Conjuration of matter at its most wasteful. That sort of magical adjustment of soil makeup was only used in the most exacting of requirements, like the attempts to recreate wine from a specific year. Physical fertilizers were just easier and more efficient. A few quick words with her sister had confirmed that no magical effects remained on the fields.
    Alice's family was excluded from the feast but obviously not the tax.
    "What was that? The sorcerers were doing something to the ground!" Ri's excitement had been clearly suppressed through the day and now exploded as the family sat around their much poorer meal.
    Her brothers looked at their parents curiously, but Alice's mother just sighed and buried her face in father's shoulder.
    No matter how young she was, even Ri could tell the mood was unpleasant. At their parents' continued silence, she grew quiet and worried.
    Alice had more on her mind than possible indiscretions in the past. Petra knew, vaguely, that farms needed fertilizer, especially with the monocropping their governor was forcing them to do. Added to the massive payment for Consecration, the lowered yield meant that everyone had to exhaust themselves farming far more land than they normally could do.
    Petra's memories did not include how to make fertilizers, especially since the pre-collapse society had chemical fertilizers that were specially made in factories. But of course, she had her own solution, based off the same principle as the soil adjustment even.
    If Alice could learn enough of the rune notes left to her in her Messenger inbox, she could try to write an extremely basic magic Detection. With that and some raw rune base reverse engineering, it would be possible to isolate the runes required for an active magical effect. Her sister likely could also learn to create the fertilizers so Alice could copy it.
    Each person in the village had a civilian's level of lifeforce and the amount needed to run the soil adjustment effect was huge. Any prospective enchanted item would quickly exhaust the user, unless it was Lochar or his daughter using it. But each person in the village could contribute a small amount every day, the hundreds of trickles of lifeforce would add up into a flood that would be greater than total lifeforce the Earth Clan could have used.
    And all that without needing a single Consecration.
    So maybe this was what Petra had meant by improving the world? For once, Alice agreed. If her inherited knowledge could help her family, then why was she ignoring it?
    Why was she afraid her parents would treat her differently? Her sister was the result of that Earth sorcerer Broma in the last Consecration, her mother wouldn't have been in any position to refuse him. But in all four years, her parents had never treated Alice and Ri differently, even her father who wasn't her sister's father.
    "Mother, Father," Alice spoke up, drawing her family's attention, "I have something I need to tell you. "

  8. - Top - End - #68
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    Spoiler: Sidestory
    Show
    Aldar walked the halls to his office. The staff and researchers saluted him with bright smiles on their faces.
    Petra would wake up tomorrow and the final adjustments would be done. With the ability to remove episodic memory from the procedural skill and knowledge components of the data, Skill Share would no longer degrade the sanity of anyone using it.
    Of course everyone was happy. The project was near completion. The fruits of their labour and personal investment was about to be harvested, everyone was about to become famous. Not as much as Petra would, but the thought of the profits from their proposed Skill Marketplace soothed any number of hurt feelings.
    Petra was brilliant, like any other Great Person, but she was also the only one willing to accept a lower share in profits for the title of Research Lead. Of the original four project founders, one had left before any prototype was complete, the other wanted to just be a researcher. She was the one who took charge of the research and would consequently earn all the fame.
    Aldar nodded to his secretary and settled into his office. Forty years ago a computer screen would have greeted him, but now there lay only stacks of paper. Even in this day and age of Augmented Reality, now called the AR System, it seemed that management couldn't escape from paperwork.
    He glanced up at the chime of the Messenger application. It hadn't been long but he was already glad for the interruption.
    "Aldar, I have a sealed message for you," his secretary called him. Her face in the floating box was slightly troubled as she held up a small envelope.
    A physical letter? Who in the world would use that nowadays, apart from official paperwork that everyone knew to expect? "Send it in. "
    He wasn't worried about threats, security would have scanned it. She brought it into his office and Aldar opened the envelope to find a single sheet of paper. On it was typed a simple warning.

    "Be warned, those who wish to exploit progress for their own selfish gain.
    Collected knowledge of man, it shall fly free, one way or another.
    Desist now, release your gains for the public good, renounce the Market.
    Or we shall do it for you. "

    Aldar frowned. The language was ominous and threatening. The writer did not like their company's plans to make Skill Share a marketplace and skim a small transaction fee of each skill update. He was quite confident of the interpretation with that reference to the Market.
    "Are they threatening us?" his secretary asked, not quite believing this was a legitimate attempt to harass Skill Share. The thought of something like that happening nowadays was ridiculous. Especially when delivered in such overdone theatrics.
    "Nonsense," Aldar huffed. The very idea! A threat for money, he could believe, a disgruntled employee wanting more fame, he could believe. But poetic vaguely threatening letters demanding they give away their work for free? "This is a problem, but not because of the threat. Whoever wrote this must be insane, I wouldn't worry about anything they can do. The problem is that someone out there clearly knows our project is about to finish. Our schedule was supposed to be a secret. "
    The secretary nodded, finally understanding what the real issue was. Aldar continued, "Get me Human Resources and let's see if we can't find any suspects. I doubt it but maybe they left some incriminating communications. "
    He tossed the letter aside and hurried the woman out of the office.
    The style of writing was familiar though. Like he had seen it before in someone's book... perhaps one of those autobiographies of Great People Petra liked to read? They were usually pretentious too.
    Nah. Great People had too many things to do to bother with something like this, that was even more preposterous.



    And 643 for the wish granting book idea
    Spoiler
    Show
    Argh... what a headache. Everything looks so fuzzy, and my head feels like it's stuffed full of cotton wool. With someone pushing a burning hot stick through it. In and out... If only I could just curl up and go to sleep.
    There's the sensation of sound, like my skull is vibrating. Ugh, it just makes my headache worse. Stop it, someone, before my head splits in half. It spikes and jumps, like a few people talking loudly, then there's a feeling of pressure and movement. I'm being moved somewhere. I can feel my ribs vibrating as someone talks, as if they were right next to me.
    More movement... I'm being carried? I think, there's pressure all down my front and someone's pulling on my arms to keep me there. Oh, on the back. I see, someone's carrying me on their back. That's so confusing.
    There's a short walk in silence, then the person puts me down onto a chair gently. I think it's a boy, he looks familiar. As the daze begins to wear off, I become aware of other people crowding around me. At least my headache is also going, I don't think I could have tolerated it for much longer.
    They are saying something but I'm not in any condition to listen. Who was that boy who carried me anyway? Wait... no that can't be right. I really must have hit my head hard, to be hallucinating that David would stoop to help me.
    "Are you feeling ok? Do you need to go to the infirmary?" What's he saying? This is just like a scene out of that trashy romance novel I read yesterday. Ahaha, I really must be going crazy.
    A dark haired Caucasian girl runs up and looks me over worriedly. Sinna? Yes, I think it's her. "Are... are you all right?"
    Everyone is asking the same thing, and if I don't respond they are only going to get more anxious. Still leaning against the back of the chair, I try to sound confident, "Yes, I think so. Just let me rest here for a while, my head's all fluffy and I don't think I can stand. "
    The other club members around me look bemused. David laughs with a tinge of light-headed relief, "Head's all fluffy. What an interesting phrase. "
    Sinna yelps and clings to my leg suddenly, reminded that there are other people around. She really shouldn't be here if she can't stand being near the center of attention. What is she doing here anyway? Isn't she a librarian? I pet her head, trying to be reassuring and failing quite miserably. Making a dismissing wave, I ask the others to give me some space, "Ah, I'm really all right, I'll just stay here until I feel better and return on my own. You should continue the club practice without me. "
    The teacher in charge considers it for a short moment and they disperse the half-curious, half-concerned crowd of tennis players. David doesn't go however. Strange, he can't be concerned... oh yes, he doesn't have anyone to play with now. "Um, I'm sorry for causing you trouble," at least I can apologize.
    "Ah, no. It was my fault for pushing you too far. I should be the one to apologize. You are sure you will be fine right?" Is it just me or does he seem nervous? Sinna stares at him, still crouching beside me. She does seem a little less fearful of him, as if she was... watching him?
    As I appear fine and have said as much, David leaves me to recover at the chair. "So, Sinna. Don't you have library duty today?"


    Still horrible at 1st person.

    Also post split in two due to length

  9. - Top - End - #69
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

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

    I concluded my knigths tale with 255 words.

    Spoiler: Tale of three knights, part three
    Show

    Stories tell us, that the Good King’s son never returned Everyone who went searching for him in that forest, was either lost among the trees, or returned with tales of strange people and paths which changed as soon as they turned their backs. The forest kept it’s secret, and has yet to divulge it to anyone. Sir Cillian has not been seen since that night, but often enough, tales of a green clad knight spring up. Some scolars draw a connection between the lost knigt and the green knight, others call all these tales fanciful and regard them as nothing more than simple mythology.
    There is no agreement amongst scolars on whether or not the Good King is a romanticised version of a real king, or a matter of pure fabrication.
    It is however true, that in the mountanous region of Gralaan, people avoid venturing out after nightfall, to avoid the creatures said to dwell in the dark. We also know for certain tha the great trade road between Arburg and Castellan passes around the deep forests of Hweill rather than cutting through them. And in the Grand graveyard in the middle of Castellan, there is a giant gravestone, faded with time, but obviously of fine make. In it’s weathered surface the name Fallon is carved, although it has almost been worn away with time.
    So is there truth in these legends? I leave that for the scolars to decide. I merely tell the tales to anyone with silver to spare and ears to listen.





    As an experiment, I did 1300 words of character work, trying to write myself to an impression of a character I might use in a story.

    Spoiler: Interview with Jahred, the dragonhunter
    Show
    What can you tell me about dragons?

    You people always want to know about dragons. I’m not surprisd that that’s the first question you ask. I have to tell everyone stories about how I find the beasts and how to kill them. I made up a lot of bull**** to cover the truth of it.
    Everyone knows that dragons turn to stone when killed. Dragons are invisible unless you know the secret words that will make them appear. To kill a dragon you must have a blade forged in dragon’s fire.
    It’s all a bunch of complicated lies. The more complicated I make it sound, the more magical, the more people eat me up. They pay three times as much for a necklace if they think it comes from a dragon’s hoarde.
    But none of the things I sell are from dragon’s hoarde. I find them in the ruins, out in the wastes. Most people avoid the place, they say it’s cursed. So I have first pick of any treasure there, and no one knows where I get any of it. So I embellish it all a little, and people beg me to rip them off.
    No, there aren’t any dragons out in those ruins, and I will tell you why i know for sure: Dragons don’t exist.

    How did you come to be the dragonhunter?

    I took to the wastes to run away from trouble. What kind of trouble? I don’t remember, someones daughter had gotten pregnant i think. Don’t look at me like that, we all have our fun.
    Anyways, I took some alone time away from cities. The wastes aren’t all fun and games though, so when I found the ruins one evening shortly before nightfall, I decided that a roof over my head would be nice. Just for the night.
    So I ducked into one of the ruind buildings. I picked the one with a mostly intact roof, so I would get more shelter. Turned out this place was much bigger than it looked. From the outside it was a small stone struckture, but inside I found stairs leadding down into a great big cella complex.
    So I wandered a bit, looked around to see what the place was like. I found a lot of bones, more than I am comfortable discussing really. There were paintings on the walls, decoration from a forgotten age.
    At the bottom of the complex I found a grand hall,lined with statues of mythical beasts, everyone adorned with treasure. I couldn’t carry all of it, so I took what fit in my bag.
    Then I realised that if I walked into a town with this kind of trasure, and no explanation of where I got it, people would think I had robbed some merchant. I could have told the truth, but doing that would mean dozens if not scores of people searching for the treasure, trying to steal it from me.
    I needed something that would explain the treasure and keep other treasure hunters away from my trove. I thought about that until I ran out of provisions, and didn’t come up with anything good.
    In the end, it was one of the statues which gave me the idea. If the treasure was guarded by dangerous beasts, there would be a lot fewer people ready to try and steal it.
    And so I told them stories of dragons, when I came back with the treasure. People ate it up, and when someone called me out and asked for proof of these mystical beings, I produced the head of the smallest statue, and told them all, that it had turned to stone as soon as I cut it off.
    And now they call me Dragon hunter.

    Do you have family?

    Honestly, I never really saw the appeal.
    I mean what can I get from a lover that I couldn’t get from a… lady of negotiable affection?
    Kids? No thank you. I have better things to do than spen the next ten years playinf servant for a greedy little beast that can’t even speak straight.

    What about you parents? Siblings?

    I left my parents behind when I was Twelve. I don’t remember much of them. My father was a bearded old bastard who drank too much and smelled of stables. My mother was silent most of the time and not very inspiring when she actually spoke.
    I found work with a caravan, helping out with the horses on the treck across the wastes. I suppose that is the one thin my father gave me. He was stablehand at the caraven post in my hometown, and he did teach me my way around a horse.
    Did I take anything from my mother? Yeas, she taught me how to lie. The main thing is to act like what youre saying couldn’t be any other way. If you seem nervous or open up the possibility of alternatives, you’ll loose your audience.
    Mother showed me how it works, everytime my father came home drunk. He would ask her questions, look for something to get angry about, and she would tell him that things were exactly how he wanted them. Then he would take her to bed and fall asleep befor he even got to the good part.
    I can’t figure out how they ever managed to concieve me.

    Ever thought of having a different career?

    I had several different jobs before I became the dragonhunter. I traveled with a caravan for some years tending their horses and helping with making camp, cooking and other common tasks.
    I tried settling down in one of the great cities. I was a stable hand for a while, but it grew old quickly. I like horses, but the job reminded me too much of my father.
    So I tried finding work that didn’t include horses. I worked in a shop for five days, before the owner kicked me out for being rude to dumb customers.
    I was a bouncer at an in, for a while, the work was simple enough, but in the end, the violence was too much for me. As long as I could threaten violence and scare off any troublemakers, I was fine. Sadly, when people get drunk enough, threats loose their effectiveness, and you have to resort to actual violence. It isn’t that I can’t fight, but whenever I have the option, I prefer not to.
    In the end I was hired to run messages across the waste for a lesse noble, who wanted to comunicate with his brother in a different town. I had travelled the wastes before and found it easy to make the trip from town to town.
    Caravans are nice, but they do attract more attention than a lone traveller. And when you know the terrain as well as I do, it is no trouble to avoid notice completely.
    It was on one of these message runs that I stumbled across the ruin where I found my calling as a Dragonhunter.

    What would make you stop hunting Dragons?

    If I ever find enough goal to last me a litteral lifetime. Alternatively, I might die or get injured at some point. The wastes are a dangerous place even for someone as savvy as me.
    Until I meet my fate or find a treasure I can’t singlehandedly spend on drink and women, I expect I will be searching for new ruins to loot.
    It’s served me well enough thus far.

    Does anyone know where you find your treasure?

    I hope not.
    Most people seem to buy the dragon story. Those who don’t believe me to be a clever smugler. I don’t think anyone suspects that I am finding treasure in cursed ruins.
    And as long as no one suspects, I don’t have any competition, which serves me just fine.

  10. - Top - End - #70
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

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

    Giant status post incoming!

    Status for August 13 to August 19!

    The theme was Sunshine!


    Lycunadari passes with a ton of Ireland photos, including some sunshine.

    jseah passes with 1766 words for AT x HP.

    Xiander passes with 1542 words of Eye for Detail.

    Jormengand is out.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!

    -----

    Status for August 20 to August 26!

    The theme was Unfortunate Implications!


    Lycunadari passes with a ton of Ireland photos.

    jseah passes with 1267 words for AT x HP and 306 words of Hero's War.

    Xiander passes with 1529 words of Eye for Detail.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!

    -----

    Status for August 27 to September 2!

    The theme was Mundane!


    Lycunadari passes with a ton of Ireland photos.

    jseah passes with 1276 words of Hero's War and a bunch of Flower Knight items.

    Xiander passes with 1009 words of Eye for Detail and 538 words of The tale of the three knights.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!

    -----

    Status for September 3 to September 9!

    The theme was Sorcery!


    Lycunadari passes with a ton of Ireland photos.

    jseah passes with 1476 words continuing an old wish granting book and 87 words of AT x HP.

    Xiander passes with 1558 words of The tale of the three knights.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!

    -----

    Status for September 10 to September 16!

    The theme was Reanimation!


    Lycunadari passes with a ton of Ireland photos.

    jseah passes with 922 words for Record of the Inherited Memory Girl's Efforts, 98 words of various revisions, 170 words added to a chapter, 654 words for a side story and 643 words for the wish granting book.

    Xiander passes with 255 words of The tale of the three knights and 1300 words of an interview with a dragon hunter.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!



    Current standing:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Lycunadari
    Current run: 297 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 136 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 115 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -



    The current theme is End of Summer. (Chosen by me to avoid a themeless week).

    The theme for the week from September 24 to September 30 has not been chosen yet – anyone can suggest one!

    The theme for the week from October 1 to October 7 is chosen by jseah, please post it here or send it to me so I can edit it into this status post.

    -------
    I'm back! Ireland was beautiful, and I took approx. 1500 pictures. Are you peeps interested in seeing some of them? Otherwise I'm not going to bother with uploading. Sadly, there are a lot of very bad ones (extremely blurry or extremely over- or underexposed), my objective is probably broken.
    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!

  11. - Top - End - #71
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    Theme: Calculator

    2507 - 654 = 1853 words added to the side story

    Spoiler
    Show
    Aldar walked the halls to his office. The staff and researchers saluted him with bright smiles on their faces.
    Petra would wake up tomorrow and the final adjustments would be done. With the ability to remove episodic memory from the procedural skill and knowledge components of the data, Skill Share would no longer degrade the sanity of anyone using it.
    Of course everyone was happy. The project was near completion. The fruits of their labour and personal investment was about to be harvested, everyone was about to become famous. Not as much as Petra would, but the thought of the profits from their proposed Skill Marketplace soothed any number of hurt feelings.
    Petra was brilliant, like any other Great Person, but she was also the only one willing to accept a lower share in profits for the title of Research Lead. Of the original four project founders, one had left before any prototype was complete, the other wanted to just be a researcher. She was the one who took charge of the research and would consequently earn all the fame.
    Aldar nodded to his secretary and settled into his office. Forty years ago a computer screen would have greeted him, but now there lay only stacks of paper. Even in this day and age of Augmented Reality, now called the AR System, it seemed that management couldn't escape from paperwork.
    The AR System, a graft that integrated personal computers into each person's local, allowed modules to work. Rather than grafts that directly modified lifeforce, needing specialized equipment to add and modify, modules were pure information. Together with a self-maintaining distributed network, the AR System allowed modules to affect the mind, with permission, and be updated automatically from central servers.
    The Knowledge Database was one such module, distributing a curated collection of facts and articles, and it was already old. Grafted onto the popular Status system, itself a development of the AR labeling project to make all Items part of the System, the Database was a non-profit organization that had changed the world with their replacement of academic study. Being able to just dump knowledge into the mind made fact checking trivial, but one still needed to practice applying that knowledge.
    Skill Share was the next step forwards. Able to share any skill from anyone to anyone else, instead of just dry knowledge.
    He glanced up at the chime of the Messenger application. It hadn't been long but he was already glad for the interruption.
    "Aldar, I have a sealed message for you," his secretary called him. Her face in the floating box was slightly troubled as she held up a small envelope.
    A physical letter? Who in the world would use that nowadays, apart from official paperwork that everyone knew to expect? "Send it in. "
    He wasn't worried about threats, security would have scanned it. She brought it into his office and Aldar opened the envelope to find a single sheet of paper. On it was typed a simple warning.

    "Be warned, those who wish to exploit progress for their own selfish gain.
    Collected knowledge of man, it shall fly free, one way or another.
    Desist now, release your knowledge for the public good, renounce the corrupt gains.
    Or we shall do it for you. "

    Aldar frowned. The language was ominous and threatening. The writer did not like their company's plans to make Skill Share a marketplace and skim a small transaction fee of each skill update. He was quite confident of the interpretation with that reference to the Market.
    "Are they threatening us?" his secretary asked, not quite believing this was a legitimate attempt to harass Skill Share. The thought of something like that happening nowadays was ridiculous. Especially when delivered in such overdone theatrics.
    "Nonsense," Aldar huffed. The very idea! A threat for money, he could believe, a disgruntled employee wanting more fame, he could believe. But poetic vaguely threatening letters demanding they give away their work for free? "This is a problem, but not because of the threat. Whoever wrote this must be insane, I wouldn't worry about anything they can do. The problem is that someone out there clearly knows our project is about to finish. Our schedule was supposed to be a secret. "
    The secretary nodded, finally understanding what the real issue was. Aldar continued, "Get me Human Resources and let's see if we can't find any suspects. I doubt it but maybe they left some incriminating communications. "
    He tossed the letter aside and hurried the woman out of the office.
    The style of writing was familiar though. Like he had seen it before in someone's book... perhaps one of those autobiographies of Great People Petra liked to read? They were usually pretentious too.
    Nah. Great People had too many things to do to bother with something like this, that was even more preposterous.

    <Upload complete. >
    Petra awoke to find a nurse watching her expectantly. The woman immediately bustled over to her and fussed with the scanner. She blinked a few times, still trying to boot her mind awake. Petra rolled her head, feeling her neck pop. Oh, that felt good.
    The nurse just hummed approvingly, "you're healthy, lifeforce at 88%. No problems reported. "
    It was done. It was done! She practically leapt out of the bed, sending the servant wisp waiting in the corner scurrying for her clothes. The upload was complete! Just a short period of matching pre-made analysis to the upload data and her Skill Share would be ready to use! Petra ignored the nurse fussing over her hands and checking her eyes.
    "You're a little dehydrated," said the nurse, "also low on blood sugar. Have a good meal and drink lots of water before you go back to work. I believe you have a cake waiting for you. "
    Petra nodded her thanks before shrugging into the office wear. There was work to be done and progress to be made.
    But first, a celebration party!

    "Glad to see you back with us!" Aldar said, slapping her on the back. "All eager to finish the project?"
    Petra tried to avoid spilling cake crumbs over the carpet. All around her, the members of the Skill Share team mingled in conference room, overworked servant wisps keeping the drinks and food flowing. Skill Share wasn't deployed yet, they couldn't afford that many servant wisps. A small party with only cheap alcohol and almost no decorations. But to Petra and everyone else in the room, it was clearly a celebration of their accomplishments.
    "I'm perfectly fine, thank you for asking," she sniffed at him, but broke out into a smile after a short while. "Yeah, just two or three more days. Frankly, we don't even need this many researchers any more. "
    Aldar nodded. Both of them knew the schedule of course. By the time the week was out, Skill Share would be opening for volunteer testing. The heavy computation machinery was busy churning away in the basement below them. It would be done soon.
    The gooey chocolate cake beckoned and Petra raised a forkful-
    Boom!
    The whole building shook with a massive impact, along with a deafening crash from the wall of the room. Petra stumbled, still clutching her plate in shock.
    "Everyone on the far wall!" shouted an unknown voice. Rough hands shoved her and Aldar beside her, driving them towards the edge of the room.
    The few moments of disorientation was enough for their assailants to gain complete control of the room. Not that it needed much work, Petra could see they were armed.
    Dressed in militaristic fatigues, they were well armed with a patchwork of weapons. Petra could see swordshields and projectile throwers. The leader even had a coherent radiation weapon and the six part force field wings of a flight graft. That was practically military hardware! Twenty assailants, with six more of the dog-like armoured drakka, combat form wisps. The muzzles of the metallic combat machines glinted with sharp steel teeth.
    The distinctly civilian Skill Share stood no chance. They were all corralled against the wall in short order.
    "Well, hello everyone," the leader bowed mockingly, "you can call me Carver and we're here today for your Skill Share. Don't resist and you'll be unharmed. Do so..."
    He hefted his weapon and blasted an errant servant wisp still trying to serve alcohol. The room flinched and the few sobs subsided into a stunned silence.
    Carver glanced around and nodded in satisfaction when he saw they were all cowed. "All right everyone, since you refused to hear our demands, we're going to take it by force. I know you're done with your module, give it to us. My good man Davor here will open a tunnel out of your private AR servers. Well? Do I have to start shooting?"
    Davor, a scrawny man next to the leader, opened up an AR window and began running a bridging program. Their internal private server wasn't supposed to be connected to the public System but clearly Davor could bypass the restrictions.
    Aldar looked a little sick, sitting on the floor next to her.
    "Did you know about this?" she asked.
    "I thought..." he stuttered, "it was too unbelievable. Who would send us threats like that?"
    Petra glanced around and noticed many of the researchers giving her looks. She could almost feel them expecting her to get them out of this. The terrorists had also noticed and most of the room was paying attention to her now.
    Well, she was about to join the ranks of the famous Great People. And it wasn't as if Petra didn't have an idea.
    She stood up slowly and raised her hands. "I'm Petra, Research Lead. "
    "There you are!" Carver said, "come on, just give it to us and no one has to get hurt. "
    "I'll do it," Petra said, nodded solemnly at Aldar who merely looked back in confusion, "give me a few seconds, I just need to publish a version to be usable. "
    She opened up her AR window, logged into the private server and checked out the current version of the Skill Share module. All it took was removing the warnings and comments about the insanity and it was ready to use. Petra sent a copy of the module to Davor's local system.
    Davor installed the module. Almost.
    "You can test it, there's a juggling skill we use for testing that I attached to it," Petra explained.
    Carver nodded at him. It was only a matter of moments for the Skill Share module to upload the tiny juggling skill to Davor.
    The man demonstrated their success by grabbing two of the empty wine bottles and putting on a display of artificial skill.
    Carver laughed triumphantly. "Ha! See, we didn't have to do this the hard way. All right Davor, upload it and let's get out of here before security arrives!"
    Petra could only conceal a smirk as she sat back down. Aldar nudged her, curious as to what she had done, but all she could do was wink at him.
    After all, Skill Share wasn't done. The algorithm refinement would take most of the day and some time further to test for stability. The current, and soon to be old, version Petra had given them was the flawed one that would slowly drive insane those using it. Anyone using it would suffer from bits of memories, habits and thoughts of the source bleeding over.
    A small contained muscle-memory based skill like juggling brought a tiny amount of mental contamination, practically unnoticeable. But the contamination would build up over time if the module was used, worse if a broad skill that touched on many areas at once or was strongly tied to remembered events. Users would suffer mental instability, confusion and eventually descend into hallucinations and full schizophrenia.
    These terrorists thought they could rob her of her achievements and steal it for themselves? After the terrorists had left and security had arrived, she would just make a public statement and they would be left with an unusable module.
    And if they wanted to use it for themselves? Well, they were in for a surprise.
    Poetic justice indeed.
    She watched as Davor used the scanning module to determine skill areas of his own mindscape. The module couldn't identify the skills involved without enough data between people to compare, but it could tell where skills were in the mind. He highlighted everything and ordered the module to separate it out into separate downloads.
    And that was a macro to control the Skill Share module. Heh, it looked like they were going to use it after all. Share everything? They would drive themselves insane instantly.
    Petra watched intently as Davor... opened a login window?
    That was a Database login.
    "Wait, are you publishing Skill Share as a Database update?" Petra practically shrieked.
    Carver laughed, "you know it well! Your tyranny of the market is over! We will not let you exploit the collective knowledge of mankind for your own gain!"
    "You can't do that!" she shouted and leapt up, but was instantly restrained by the terrorists keeping her down at the wall. "Let me go!" she struggled as three men pinned her down roughly.
    But at least Database wouldn't just publish an update to everyone, right?
    "How can a bunch of terrorists affect Database?! Skill Share cannot- mmph!"
    Whether she had annoyed them too much or they were just trying to subdue a struggling Petra, the three men restraining her muffled her mouth.
    "Ah, but Davor here is a Database Administrator!" Carver grinned down at her, "and we have the requisite approval for instant deployment too! After all, Rottheim is sympathetic to our cause. "
    Rottheim of Database. He was one of those kooky anti-market people, wasn't he? Petra remembered how he caused an uproar a few years ago about equality. She concentrated around the gloved stuffed into her mouth.

    <Messenger: Emergency Message: To->

    The butt of a projectile thrower smashed into her temple and she flopped bonelessly, barely able to see straight.
    Carver sneered, "Save your tears, it is just the dying screams of a defunct capitalist era! We will bring about a new era of equality!"
    The world seemed to narrow as she raced ahead to the inevitable conclusion. Packaged as a Database update, Skill Share would be shared to everyone who used Database and it would operate... yes, she could see Davor connecting the Skill Share module with the macro to a two-way connection to Database. They would upload everyone's skills to Database and download to everyone!

    <Knowledge Database Update v192.168.181.45 compiled
    Administrator credentials required
    Username: KDBadminDavorDalisa1911
    Password: ******************
    Warning update publishing check missing- PASS
    Publish Public Update Y/N?>

    A desperate whine escaped from her throat as Carver's finger descended with dramatic sluggishness... and hit 'Yes'.
    Last edited by jseah; 2018-09-24 at 01:20 PM.

  12. - Top - End - #72
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

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

    Aw fishsticks! I forgot to post before going to work -_-

    I will get my words posted as soon as I get home.

    Edit: I am waay late with posting (I swear i thought i put this up yesterday) but I did 1581 words of a new story.

    Spoiler: Chrysalis, part one
    Show
    I couldn’t sleep that night, at least not at first. So I sat up and watched the moon rise to the top of the sky, and the stars blink into existence on the dark velvet of the firmament.
    I was jittery and excited, butterflies fluttering around in my stomach, though nothing was happening around me. By the time the moon reached the top of the sky, my parents were asleep in their bedroom, and even my dog Freddie had settled down for the night.
    Still, I couldn’t sleep.
    I was too overcome with expectations and excitement, because the next day would be something special. It would be my day.
    “What do you think i will get for my birthday?” I asked the moon.
    “You know I am not supposed to tell you that.” Said the moon.
    “You could at least give me a hint.” I insisted.
    “You should just go to sleep.” The moon sighed. “You will see in the morning.”
    “I can’t wait that long.” I said, crossing my arms demonstratively.
    “If I give you a hint,” The moon suggested. “Will you promise to go to sleep?”
    I looked up suspicious of the offer.
    “Maybe.” I hedged.
    “If you don’t promise, I won’t tell you anything.” The moon said firmly.
    “Okay.” I reluctantly agreed. “I will go to sleep if you give me a hint.”
    “Thirteen is a special age.” The moon confided.
    “That’s why I am so excited!” I agreed.
    “Sleep now,” Said the moon gently. “In the morning you emerge from your chrysalis.”
    “Yes.” A handful of stars chimed in. “Go to sleep, wake up complete.”
    I didn’t really understand what she meant, but I didn’t want to admit that, so I nodded sagely and pulled my blanket all the way up to my ears.
    “Goodnight.” I mumbled.
    “Goodnight.” Said the moon.
    “Sleep tight.” Sang the stars.
    I took a deep breath and thought of presents and cake, as I closed my eyes.

    ****************************************

    I woke up to the sound of birdsong.
    I was curled up, blanket rolled around me like a tightly wrapped burrito. At first I was disoriented, unsure why I was excited, then I remembered what day it was.
    I tried to stretch, but my blanket got in the way. I couldn’t throw it off, because I was lying on parts of it. In the end I wormed myself free. Squeezing out of a tiny hole in the blanket cocoon.
    There might have been a more elegant way, but I was in a hyrry, and not in any mood to stop and think rational thoughts.
    I escaped the ensnarement of the blanket, lost my balance and fell out of bed. There was something odd going on. Like I was heavier than I was used to.
    Something seemed to be stuck to my back, but I couldn’t see it. Whenever I turned to get a look, whatever it was turned with me, always just out of view.
    I turned in circles three times, before I realised that wasn’t going to work. I slapped my forehead, when i realised how silly I must have looked.
    Instead of chasing my own tail, I went to look in the mirror. My hair was a tangled mess of amber, and my nightie was in complete disarray, but that wasn’t what I was looking at.
    From my back sprouted a set of butterfly wings, almost as long as I was and coloured in a rainbow’s worth of hues. For a long while I just stared at my own reflection, not really believing what I saw.
    Then I turned away from the mirror and ran out of my room and down the stairs.
    “MOM!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. “MOM MOM MOM!”
    I burst into my parents’ bedroom and only barely managed to stop before colliding with their bed. My mother turned in the bed and raised her head sluggishly.
    “What is it Samantha?” She slurred.
    “What time is it?” My father groaned.
    “Look!” I half yelled. “Look at me!”
    My mother glanced at me blearily. She didn’t seem surprised, she just gave me that slightly annoyed look I always got when I woke her up early.
    “It’s sive in the morning.” My father mumbled, and yawned.
    “Go back to sleep honey.” My mother said, patience fraying in her voice. “We’ll celebrate a little later.”
    “But...” I started.
    “Go to bed honey.” Said my father firmly.
    So I turned around and walked back up stairs to my own bedroom. I didn’t understand how they hadn’t seen the wings, why they hadn’t been excited.
    Back in my room, I found my hairbrush and sat down on the floor in front of the mirror. I carfully brushed all of the tangles out of my hair. My reflection was a little distraction, every once in a while I would catch myself staring at it instead of brushing.
    The wings were beautiful. They were impossible, but entrancing. I was pretty sure people didn’t normally grow wings on their thirteenth birthday, but then I was pretty sure this was what the moon had hinted at. Maybe the wings were my present from the moon.
    I couldn’t ask her, not now at least. I would have to wait until night time when she rose again. I would have asked the sun, but he was never all that talkative, and it hurt my eyes to look at him.
    Who else would know?
    Normally I would ask mom or dad, but it didn’t seem like they could see my wings. I glanced in the mirror where the wings still fluttered lightly on my back. There had to be someone who could tell me why I had grown these things.
    It wasn’t that I disliked them. They were really pretty, and I felt special for having them. Still it was wierd. I was almost certain that other girls didn’t grow wings over night on their thirteenth birthday.
    Maybe some of them did and I just didn’t know about it?
    I could ask my freinds if any of them knew someone who had grown wings. But I wouldn’t see my friends until school the next day.
    This year my biirthday fell on a warm, beautiful sunday, which did explain why my parents weren’t happy to be woken early.
    The brush got caught in a tangle of hair, and I distracted myself with combing it out. My thoughts were wandering as I worked the brush, trying to figure out who to ask about the wings.
    When I finally had the last amber locks unfiltered, I had comeup with a plan. I knew who I would ask about my birthday gift.
    I looked out the window at the rising sun, and at the birds in the back yard. They flittered back and forth, chasing food and enjoying the nice weather. I could hear them calling to each other, but I couldn’t make out the words.
    It would probably be at least another hour before my parents woke up and got out of bed. What should I do until then?
    In the end I just watched the garden. There were lots of things to look at out there. I don’t think people realise how many living things there are right outside our windows. Birds, insects plants. I even thought I saw a squirrel dart from one tree to another, but it was very quick, so I couldn’t be sure.
    When my parent’s finally woke up, I was bursting at the seams with excitement. I rushed downstairs and attacked the breakfast my mother presented to me.
    “Someone really wants her present.” My father said with a chuckle.
    I paused in the middle of a mouthful to look at him. I could feel my wings move slightly on my back, but my father looked straight at me without seeming to notice them.
    I decided to nod and keep eating.
    Breakfast lasted a fair bit longer than I wanted it to, mostly because my parents insisted that I stay seated until they were both done eating. I tried not to jump up nd down on my chair. I got mixed results.
    When breakfas finally ended, my mother cleared the table, while my father went and got my gift from their bedroom. They always hid it in their closet. When I was younger I would sneak in and peek at it to try and figure out what I was getting. This birthday had me distracted with other things.
    Dad returned with a box wrapped in colorful paper. I did feel excited at that moment, to see what my parents had gotten for me. Still, the gift I got from the moon was taking up most of my focus.
    I tore the wrapping off the gift and looked at a really cool set of roller scates. I let out a little squeal of apreciation and hugged both mom and dad tight. For a moment I almost forgot my other plan, in my excitement to try out my new scates, but when I jumped off my chair to got outside, i felt my wings hitting the edge of the table.
    It was an odd thing.
    Touching things with my wings did not feel like touching things with my fingers of any other part of my body. They were fragile and strong at the same time. So thin, and yet so hardy. And they were mine, a part of me.
    I had to go get some answers. Rollerscates could wait.
    Last edited by Xiander; 2018-09-26 at 04:55 PM.

  13. - Top - End - #73
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

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

    Status for September 17 to September 23!

    The theme was End of Summer!


    Lycunadari passes with a bunch of nature and food pictures.

    jseah passes with 1853 words for the side story.

    Xiander passes with 1581 words of Chrysalis.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!


    Current standing:
    Spoiler
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 298 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 137 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 116 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -




    The current theme is Moonshine.

    The theme for the week from October 1 to October 6 is Calculator!

    The theme for the week from October 7 to October 13 is chosen by Xiander - let me know here or in PM and I'll include it in the next status post.
    Last edited by Lycunadari; 2018-11-07 at 10:33 AM. Reason: fixed mistake in jseah's count
    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!

  14. - Top - End - #74
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    1653 for Hero's War

    Spoiler
    Show
    King Ektal flung open the doors with a dramatic bang and strode into the room, guards trailing behind him. "What exactly is the problem here?"
    He did not appreciate having to come down to solve some minor issue that the craftsmen were facing. The room full of the fools turned to face their king, some of them partially blocked by the stacks of paper on the groaning table in the middle. No one said anything, only people avoiding his gaze.
    "Tully," he addressed the woman Cato had sent down from Minmay to establish the branch university in the capital. "Explain why the capital ironworkers and woodcrafts guilds have not achieved this 'interchangeable parts' goal. You gave me a timeline that is now six months overdue. "
    Ektal had been told that making guns of the same quality that came out of Minmay was impossible without the experience in making lesser things like tables and screws. They couldn't even achieve that.
    Tully nodded to him, "sir, we could not manage to match the correct tolerances as the guilds refuse to-"
    "We don't need you to tell us how to do our jobs, woman!" Came a shout from across the table.
    Tully fired back scathingly, "If your 'experts' cannot even follow instructions-"
    And the room descended into predictable chaos.
    "What does it matter if the gun works? And ours shoots straighter than Minmay guns!" shouted one of the gunsmiths.
    "When the barrel of your gun needs replacing, barrels from Minmay or Allie won't fit!" Tully shouted back.
    "Then they just have to bring it us and we'll-"
    "Enough!"
    Ektal's roar silenced the room. He glanced at them and the guards placed hands on their swords, none of the craftsmen or Tully were willing to meet his gaze.
    "Tully, explain what is wrong with their work. I have seen a gun made by the workshops and they work fine. "
    He watched her look at his guards nervously. She gulped, "Sir. The reports I submitted state that the measurement tools and standards of the following classes-"
    The king sighed internally. The woman did not respond well to intimidation and perhaps he had been a little too heavy handed. He spoke in a gentler tone this time. "Please, relax, stand up and tell us clearly what is the nature of the problem. "
    Tully nodded and rose. "Minmay has used calibrated measuring tools and standards and production methods to ensure our products are of high quality and interchangeable. As you may have noticed. "
    "I have. "
    "The problem is..." The woman glanced at the craftsmen hesitantly, who were starting to look indignant again.
    "You are speaking to me," Ektal half-growled. He glanced out of the corner of his eye at the craftsmen who settled down again.
    "Sir. The guilds are not purchasing the standards or using the production methods that the Ironworkers in Minmay used. "
    "The guns the smiths make individually have slightly better performance than the guns made in Minmay, this is true. " She had clearly decided to try to pacify the craftsmen by flattering them a little. Tully did not believe what she was saying. "But each of those guns requires a precise fit between the different parts of the two rails, stock and trigger. Each gun has to be made individually, slowly and carefully by a master smith. Each gun's parts, if damaged or worn, has to be replaced by a smith by adjusting stock parts until they fit. "
    From the grimaces and the righteous superiority on the representatives of the three smithing and ironworker guilds, this assessment was essentially accurate. He nodded for her to go on.

    Arthur walked into the study of the Chancellor, feeling a little awkward. "Sir. "
    Minmay looked up from the reports. He gave a small nod.
    "Sir, the number of migrants arriving in Minmay city has decreased from last month. The companies are complaining about needing more people again. " Arthur saw his Chancellor sigh but continued anyway. "The Recordkeepers have found that the peasants in the farming villages have stopped leaving. Are you sure the migration policy is the right thing to do?"
    The report in Arthur's hands contained the details but the butler knew he wouldn't need it. Minmay trusted him to understand these figures.
    "It is," the Chancellor said.
    The peasants in the villages around them had to make sure all the land was farmed, the countryside barons had been instructed not to let so many leave their villages that farming would stop.
    With the seed drills, steel plow and steam engines for milling, the number of peasants needed to farm a given piece of land had drastically reduced, along with increased yields per area. With that in mind, Minmay had allowed a mass migration of peasantry to the city to seek their fortunes and serve as much needed labour force. However, each family could not send so many of their children that the land would go idle.
    Occasional patrols were sufficient enough to deter whole families, who usually had children that could not travel fast, from just running away. No matter how low the price of food was getting, or how much excess they had, they could not all leave. Subsidizing the cost of the farming tools helped there too. The end result was that the number of peasants in the villages in the Minmay Region had bottomed out and only a slow trickle to the city remained. Most of their incoming population came from peasants outside Minmay Region.
    The industry in Minmay that were already shorthanded, constantly complained about the difficulty of finding workers. The steel and machines production that Cato and Minmay wanted to increase further, was eating up more and more labour and squeezing out the other firms by starving them of labour. The high quality of the steel parts the Ironworkers produced was in great demand and fetched such high prices outside of Minmay Region that the Ironworkers were the best paying company.
    Cato had proposed before that the peasants should be allowed to move to Minmay while making up the food shortfall from the Central Territory. The land there was more fertile, flatter and easier to farm, and they didn't have a strong industry to provoke the peasants to move to the cities. The bumper harvests in that region had completely destroyed the food market and there were rumours that they had so much food to eat that the windeyes were rotting in the ground.
    With how much food could be bought for almost nothing, a single mana well drill from the Ironworkers could buy enough food to feed all of Minmay city for two weeks. The Ironworkers could make one drill per week, along with everything else they were also making. Transport might be an issue, but it was solvable by simply making and selling more carts. If the food sales were constant and in large volume, the merchant caravans would naturally expand to fill that need.
    Everything made sense and it would solve the biggest bottleneck to expanding the profitable industries further.
    But the Chancellor had decreed that the farming area in Minmay was to not decrease below the point that Minmay Region could not feed itself. The Recordkeepers estimated that this would need a quarter of the population in the villages and the migration policy was the result.
    Cato had left for Iris before he asked why that policy was made, but now the industrial leaders were asking it for him.
    No one wanted to do the deed and eventually the Recordkeepers had pushed the role onto Arthur. He was a long serving and loyal servant of the Chancellor after all.
    Minmay put down his report when Arthur just looked curious. "Did you know? The Recordkeepers did an estimate for me. The Central Territory, if they focused on farming their fertile abundant river land and could achieve a yield improvement like Minmay has, could feed the entire population of Ektal. By themselves. With a good buffer for bad years. We could tear down all the other farming villages in the country. But that's not going to happen.
    "King Ektal is jealous of Minmay's development. He fears that we will overtake the capital, especially with the problems he is facing from his guilds that still hold to the old methods of production that I purged here. If Minmay depends on Central Territory for food, they can easily pressure us with that supply. Yes, they are friendly to us right now, mostly because of Iris, but that can change and if we are vulnerable that way, then you can be sure King Ektal will expend all effort to woo them to his side. "
    Arthur couldn't help but ask, "aren't you going to meet the King at Barin town again? We should be getting a more solid peace now. "
    "We are. But an agreement is just a piece of paper. Unless something more drastic is done to seal an alliance. " Minmay said. Arthur and the Chancellor both knew that could mean one of the princes getting betrothed to Arisacrota. And Minmay was a doting father who Arthur knew did not want to sell off his only daughter. "Who knows if that will even happen. Even if an alliance is made, King Ektal still cannot allow the capital to be much weaker than a regional territory. "
    The butler and chief assistant to the most powerful man in the Minmay Region shared a look with his master. Arthur gave him a short bow. He would have to explain to the Lesser Circle in private.
    "By the way, how is the preparation for the trip to Iris?"
    "The carriage has been outfitted with a new suspension, sir. I am sure your daughter will have a much easier time than her trip to Duport. There are no further problems in acquiring the needed supplies. "

  15. - Top - End - #75
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

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

    I did 1522 words of Chrysalis.

    Spoiler: 1522 Part two
    Show

    It took some elaborate excuses to explain why I wasn’t racing off to try the scates. After about fifteen minutes of creative explanation, I found myself running through the garden towards the bit of forest behind our house.
    I didn’t know who owned the forest, I hadn’t ever given that much thought. All I knew was that the trees were a lot older than me, and they knew lots of stuff.
    When I reached the treeline, I yelled excitedly, drawing attention from every nearby tree.
    “Look!” I shouted. “Look what I got.”
    A low murmur ran through the trees. They all seemed impressed with my wings, but none of them said anything to me.
    “You guys don’t know what’s going on, do you?” I asked the trees.
    There was another murmur, but again the trees didn’t answer me. I stomped my foot, annoyed.
    “You’re no help at all.” I yelled.
    I hadn’t expected the trees to help me out, but it still frustrated me to have them looking and whispering, without any of them answering my question.
    Still, I hadn’t expected these young trees to be able to help me, I’d just been hopeful. This just meant I had to follow my plan, and go further into the small forest.
    There was a small path worn mostly by me, which ran from the back of our garden and into the small forest, to the old tree.
    The old tree was a masive oak, bigger than any other tree I knew of. It stood alone in the middle of a clearing, as if the other trees kept their distance, to show respect. That was were I was going, to the clearing where the old tree stood.
    It was a clear, warm day, and I took in the sunbeams falling through green leaves as I walked down the path towards the clearing.
    I stopped suddenly, when I heard a voice. It wasn’t a tree or a bird. It wasn’t the whisper of the wind or the searing voice of the sun.
    It was a person.
    Someone was speaking softly somewhere up ahead, in the clearing.
    I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I desperately wanted to know. So I snuck closer. I don’t know why I went all quiet, or what made me so curious, but in that moment I wanted nothing more than to know what the person in the clearing was saying. And for some reason, I didn’t want them to know I was there.
    I snuck all the way to the edge of the clearing, and there he was. A boy, not much bigger than me, thin as a rail with a shock of dark hair sat under the tree.
    When I saw him, I completely forgot to listen to what he was saying. It wasn’t his looks, not really. It was the set of thick, curling ram’s horns growing from his head, and the fact that he was talking to the tree.
    “There she is.” Said the tree in his groaning old voice.
    The boy look up and glared straight at me. I stared at his horns and he stared at my wings, and none of us had any words for almost a full minute.
    In the end I shook my head and stomped closer to the tree. I had wanted to talk to the old tree about my wings, I always came to him with things I couldn’t understand, when the moon was sleeping. For some reason, the boy’s pressence made me angry, even jealous.
    “This is my place.” I snapped. “I came to ask the tree about my wings.”
    “I didn’t know.” The boy apologized. “I didn’t know who to ask. The bird told me…”
    He trailed off and looked down at the ground.
    “I can answer you both.” The tree spoke the words slowly, it’s voice was like a stream of molases.
    “Answer me first!” I demanded before the boy had time to say anything.
    “The answer is the same.” The tree groaned. “You have seen your thirteenth year, and gone through your chrysalis. You have your gift and you path lies open.”
    “I don’t know what that means!” I yelled at the tree.
    “Chysalis is like what butterflies do.” The boy mumbled.
    “What?” I asked.
    “They spin themselves up, the larva.” He explained. “And then the butterfly comes out.”
    “I’m not a butterfly.” I complained.
    He looked at me doubtfully. I threw up my hands and made an annoyed sound.
    “You’re not a butterfly.” I accused. “You look more like a goat.”
    He looked hurt then, and I clamped my hands in front of my mouth. I hadn’t really wanted to hurt him. I just wanted to know what the wings were for. The answer the tree had given was frustrating, and I har yelled at the boy for it.
    He stared at the ground again, refusing to meet my eyes. I didn’t know what to say. So I shut up.
    “Oh!” The old tree said, as if surprised. “Where are my manners. Samantha, this is Tommy. Tommy, Samantha.”
    He looked up again, without saying anything. I took a step closer and reached out my hand.
    “Hi.” I said. “Sorry for yelling, it’s nice to meet you.”
    He hesitated for a moment, then took my hand.
    “Hi.” He murmured as we shook.
    “I haven’t seen you before.” I noted. “Where do you live?”
    He pointed away from my garden. I had no idea what lay in that direction, but I guessed there could be a house.
    “We just moved in.” He explained.
    I nodded, not really sure what to say to that.
    “I live over there.” I pointed in the direction of my parent’s garden. “I’m Samantha.”
    “The tree already told me that.” He reminded me. I must have looked annoyed, because he sounded apologetic when he added: “I’m tommy.”
    I crossed my arms and looked at him curiously. Taking a closer looke, the horns on his head were actually quite pretty. Stark white bone contrasted with his black hair, giving him a dangerous look.
    “When did you get them?” I asked, curious.
    “They where just there this morning.” He hesitated, then added. “The moon said I would have a birthday gift, but this is…”
    “It’s your birthday?” I interrupted, excited.
    “Yes..” He looked confused.
    “It’s my birthday too!” I cracked awide grin. “I got rollerscates. And wings?”
    “What did you get?”
    “Horns….” He said, looking puzzled. “And I got scates too.”
    “Cool!” I was so excited I was nearly yelling. “We can go scate together!”
    “Really?” He sounded surprised.
    “Sure!” I clapped my hands together. “But lets figure out this chrysalis stuff first.”
    He stared at me for a moment, then his eyes drifted to the tree. I tilted my head in an unspoken question.
    “He really isn’tmuch help.” Tommy whispered.
    I snickered, then rested my hands on my hips and said loudly:
    “You just don’t know how wise he is.”
    “Oh no.” The tree groaned. “You can’t flatter me into revealing anything.”
    “What?” I asked innocently. “I wasn’t flattering you. It’s just that you are the only one clever enough to help us.”
    “I’m not supposed to tell you.”
    “Aww..” I pouted. “Then I gues I’ll just have to wait for the moon to rise.”
    “The moon?” The old three rumbled. “What does she know?”
    “She told me about the chrysalis.” I told him. “But she couldn’t say much because it was a surprise. I’m sure she knows everything though.”
    “Bah.” The old tree spat. “She acts all wise, but she is too far away to understand.”
    “I’m sure you could explain it much better.” I pressed.
    “Well.” His voice creaked with false modisty. “I won’t say I know everything, but most things seem clear to me.”
    “So tell me something useful.” I pleaded. “Just one thing. You don’t have to say everything.”
    The tree paused to considder, for almost five minutes. Trees are slow like that. I was shuffling my feet impatiently, while Tommy looked on in silence. Finally the tree spoke again.
    “Go east.” The old tree groaned. “Find the big rock, you might meet someone there, who will answer more of your questions.”
    “Thank you.” I said with a grin, and bowed politely to the old tree.
    “My pleasure young Samantha.” The tree answered.
    “Come on!” I yelled at Tommy. “Lets go east.”
    “Do you know which way east is?” He asked. He sounded exasperated.
    “Uhm…” I had almost run off, but his question stopped me in my tracks.
    He got to his feet and dusted dirt of the seat of his pants with a sigh.
    “I know where it is.” He sighed. “It’s where the sun rises.”
    “Oh!” I broke out into a wide grin. “Why didn’t you just say so. Come on!”
    I set off at a run, laughing with the sher joy of hurtling through the woods. I could hear Tommy trying to keep up behind me. I was faster than him, but I soon ran out of breath and had to stop for a moment. He caught up to me then, breathing heavily, but still running.

  16. - Top - End - #76
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

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

    Status for September 24 to September 30!

    The theme was Moonshine!


    Lycunadari passes with five nature pictures and one silk painitng.

    jseah passes with 1653 words for Hero's War.

    Xiander passes with 1522 words of Chrysalis.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!


    Current standing:
    Spoiler
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 299 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 138 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 117 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -




    The current theme is Calculator.

    The theme for the week from October 8 to October 14 has not yet been chosen - everyone can suggest one!

    The theme for the week from October 15 to October 21 is chosen by me - it's Pure Evil.

    ----

    Silk painting is fun! (+ some nature pics).

    I'm trying to do inktober again this year, though I won't be doing the official prompt list - I found an Arcana-Game list, which looked more fun.
    Last edited by Lycunadari; 2018-11-07 at 10:34 AM. Reason: fixed mistake in jseah's count
    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!

  17. - Top - End - #77
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Jun 2009

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

    2473 for Inherited Memory Girl

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    Denka had known his oldest daughter was unusual. Ever since being touched by the System at a year old, and somehow surviving, he had kept that incident at the back of his mind. His wife believed that Alice hadn't been touched by the System since none had survived that before but Denka had seen the System window himself. Still, Alice had been well-behaved and apparently normal so he put it out of his mind.
    But as Alice grew up, she displayed more patience than some of his fellow villagers, greater insight than the fool next door and adapted to the language blessing in record time. Alice displayed her childish side only rarely, demanding hugs to calm her mother down rather than asking to be comforted.
    Still, she was his daughter and he would give thanks to the System that she was growing up well despite the scare when she was a baby. Perhaps she might be beautiful and intelligent enough to attract the eye of some Earth clan Consecrationist and move to a better life. Denka wished only the best for her.
    And then came the second Consecration of their village when Alice was five. In the midst of discovering Rishiamaher had inherited more than just looks from that oaf of an Earth Finger, suddenly Alice confessed that she too had a secret.
    "I have the memories of a woman named Petra," she said, looking at him. His daughter's eyes had more seriousness now that she had ever displayed. "She lived more than three hundred years ago and left the majority of her work on the System to me. "
    Silence at the table was all that greeted her.
    "Please don't say this now," Alicia snapped at her, a frown on her face. Denka could already see his wife deciding that she was just trying to attract attention after the revelations of Rishiamaher's father. "We don't need you to distract us while we are discussing a family matter. "
    Denka blinked, he didn't know his wife was aware of how Alice tried to manage her mother's anger. Perhaps she just allowed herself to be manipulated, seeing how Alice behaved maturely.
    "Your father and I have already discussed this back when I discovered I was carrying your sister," Alicia continued, sighing as she recalled the month after the last Consecration. Denka rubbed her shoulders, hoping she would relax. "Ri, your father is one of the Fingers of Earth and you have inherited his ability. "
    Denka watched Alice closely as she hugged Rishiamaher. Ri just stared at her mother, stunned.
    "I know. You don't have to worry, we will treat her just like one of our family, no matter who her father is. Right?" Alice said, looking at her two brothers in turn. They were seven and nine years old and they displayed far less calm than a five year old Alice. Denka would not be surprised to find out that Alice had already figured out that something was strange with her half-sister.
    Den and Erias were looking at Ri askance but Alice just glared them down. "You will treat our sister just like normal, right?" Alice pressed them. She smiled triumphantly when they just nodded mutely. "Then there's no problem! We're still a family!"
    "I told you they would be fine," Denka whispered to his wife, who was watching their children with tears in her eyes, "they can accept it. You know Alice, even her brothers listen to her. "
    He watched his wife's face darken as she watched Alice in turn. Their daughter was simultaneously comforting Rishiamaher, who still looked shocked at the revelation, while encouraging her brothers into turn it into a group hug. They only responded gingerly, the universal reaction of young boys trying to look proud and manly and reluctant to display affection.
    Sitting there managing her siblings, Alice looked liked a child playing at being an adult, but Denka could see that her efforts were working. Rishiamaher responded to her whispered reassurances and her brothers took her behaviour as a role model. It was only a few minutes, but the rift that he and his wife so feared would tear apart their children was already being repaired.
    His wife did not like it however. He could tell she recalled what Alice just said and the incident when she was one that his wife had put out of her mind.
    "Let's hear what she has to say first," Denka whispered to Alicia. She frowned but eventually nodded her acceptance. "Alice," he interrupted the children, "I would like you to explain what you said earlier. "
    She looked up at him from the middle of her siblings. "I meant exactly what I said. I have the memories of a woman who lived three hundred years ago. Her name was Petra. "
    "Does- What about Alice? What did you do to her?" his wife asked and immediately Denka could tell it was the wrong question. His daughter eyes concealed her distress to her brothers and sister but Denka could see his wife had hurt her with the questions.
    "I'm not Petra," his daughter said softly. "It's complicated. I'm Alice with a hundred years of memories and some of her maturity. I was one year old when I woke up, almost all of my experiences were Petra's. So I'm not Alice either. But I don't feel like my name should be Petra and I still think you're... mama, please. Please don't cry. I've just grown up a little faster. "
    Denka squeezed his wife into a tighter hug as she sobbed. He hadn't expected that his daughter would have suddenly grown up by having a hundred year old woman from before the Collapse give her... her soul? That one night when she was a year old, she had been touched by the System and been granted something very close to a true Blessing of the System.
    To have the memories of the legendary Alchemical Kingdom, pre-Collapse with all it's mythical wonders, the storied golden age of mankind. How could it be anything but a blessing? But along with the revelation of Rishiamaher's father being revealed and now this, it felt like the world had conspired to curse their daughters.
    This time, for once, Alice didn't try to comfort her mother and instead sat miserably on her stool. Her siblings didn't seem to understand everything but her brothers were already in the position of comforting their youngest sister and now it was Alice's turn to get hugged.
    "You're still papa and mama," Alice said, suddenly looking like all five years of her age with the loss of her usual mature confidence and her speech reverting to words she hadn't used since she was three. "And Den and Erias and Ri. I kept secrets, but everyone is still my family. " The fat teardrops rolling down her cheeks mirrored that of his wife.
    "I haven't been lying, I am Alice and I am your daughter," Alice continued, "just because I chose to tell you now doesn't mean I've changed. "
    As Alice gradually recovered her maturity, no, her mask of sophistication, Denka could see that his wife's lack of response was hurting her worse than anything Alice had ever shown. In a flash of understanding, Denka saw that Alice had seen how they treated Rishiamaher, that her sister was also the subject of a secret and still accepted as part of their family. And so she had decided that her own secret could be shared too.
    If they didn't reassure her now, there wouldn't be an Alice to fix a rift that could tear their family apart for she was the target this time. And her siblings were only normal children, not inheritors of a century old soul.
    "It's all right," Denka said, drawing attention to himself, "I believe you. I believe that our last four years are not a lie. And... no matter how old your memories might be, you are and will always be my daughter. "
    His sons and Rishiamaher only caught his solemn tone but Alice understood what he was saying and nodded gladly. Denka glanced at his wife and saw that she was also starting to believe. Good, perhaps his family wasn't going to fall apart like he had feared at the start of the day.

    The rest of the dinner was quiet, but not solemn like when they started. The airing of the secrets still cast a shadow over the rest of the evening but it was in the open and receding.
    "So, what was Petra like?" Erias asked. Denka looked at his second son in surprise but realized he shouldn't have been. The boy was the most adventurous of the family and would certainly have been curious. Now that he asked the question however, everyone was paying attention to Alice.
    Alice frowned, "driven. She worked for decades, as part of a... team of people. They built on the work done by Database and the System in order to eventually create Skill Share. The last I remember is that it wasn't complete, but she left me a note written after where the memories stop saying that she and her team created Skill Analysis. "
    That... what was he supposed to say about that? Alice had started by searching for concepts they could understand but gave up. Most of the middle Denka could see none of his family understood, but Skill Analysis was something universal. It was part of what made Status work, the blessing that recorded what you had learned and what you could do.
    It was a cornerstone of society, showing someone your Status panel instantly let them know if your claim that you could do skilled work was true. What was more, Skill Analysis also told you how good you were and whether you recently learnt anything new, and how much you knew compared to the rest of the world. Children grew up aspiring to push the bounds of their favourite skill, to be the one that Skill Analysis would visit with the acclaimed message <New Skill Component Found>. To increment the sum total of human ability.
    That Petra was directly responsible for Skill Analysis?
    Denka could feel himself wondering again if Alice had just made something up.
    She definitely noticed her brothers' skepticism first and huffed, "well, if you don't believe me, I could abuse the System Administrator privileges she left me to turn off your Skill Analysis updates. "
    Then she turned her head, blinked a few times in the air and a System panel appeared out of nothing. With not a single voice command. And it wasn't a panel Denka recognized. The reverse text from the opposite side of a System panel was unreadable but the grey blobs next to each line was not something he had ever seen on a System panel before.
    "There, I've made my System details visible. I think that's something that's been lost. " Alice said, not knowing she had also done another impossible thing.
    "How do you talk to the System without talking?" Erias asked. He was practically bouncing on his stool.
    "The voice control is for lazy people," Alice laughed, "it takes some getting used to, but if you visualize talking without actually moving your mouth, the System will still recognize commands. What's more, the System presents hooks so you can control it directly without even needing to think words. It's like having extra fingers. "
    Erias of course had to immediately try it, and Denka could see Den and Rishiamaher also attempting to follow Alice's instructions discreetly. But no panels appeared.
    Still, that confirmed that Alice knew things she couldn't possibly have known, and could do things with the System that no one else could do. If all that was true, then her story about Petra and Skill Analysis...
    "Quiet down a moment," Denka shushed the other children, "Alice, did you mean to say you have memories of Petra, who lived before the First Collapse?!"
    Alice tilted her head in confusion, "I don't know what you mean by the First Collapse. "
    Denka blinked but then remembered that Alice hadn't heard the legends before. The last travelling storyteller who re-told the Story of the Two Collapses was three years ago and Alice was too young to have heard it at the tavern.
    "Let me try to remember," Denka said and paused to gather his thoughts. "Before the First Collapse, the gods built the world. They raised the mountains out of the sea and built cities full of wonders. They created the System to govern the lives of men. But the God of Knowledge was jealous of the works of his fellows and whispered to the Betrayer, an angel who worked for the God of Skills, 'if you could take the work of the God of Skill, with my help, you could become a god too. ' And so the Betrayer fought with the God of Skills just before he was to expand the System and stole his power.
    But the angel was not a god and could not control it, the System was corrupted and the cities of men descended into chaos and death. With the last of his strength, the God of Skills sealed away the God of Knowledge and his corruption of the System, and disappeared. The Gods and men were scattered and destroyed. And that was the First Collapse. "
    Den had heard the tale before from the storyteller but Erias and Ri hadn't. Their round eyes were not like Alice's however. They were fascinated, while Alice was just confused.
    "I... it's not even wrong. " Alice said eventually. What did that even mean? But Alice wasn't done. "There were no gods. Only men and women. And what even is an angel? Your story doesn't tell me anything about what the First Collapse was. "
    "An angel is the helper of a god!" Erias piped up helpfully.
    Denka added, "if- if Petra lived before the Collapse, then she would remember the great cities of the Golden Age. They were said to be filled with gleaming towers, where people never went hungry or cold, never got sick and never grew old. "
    At that, Alice nodded, "yeah, I guess if you didn't know what a skyscraper was, they could be described as shiny towers. And yeah, Petra was never hungry. Ever. She never had a single memory in more than a hundred years where she was hungry. "
    She paused for a moment then switched topics, "oh, but that reminds me, I wanted to "

  18. - Top - End - #78
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

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

    I ran out of inspiration for chrysalis, and started something new... So without further ado: 1569 words of finding wisdom.


    Spoiler: Finding wisdom, Part one
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    On the third day of my search for Wisdom, I chased a pickpocket into a fairytale.
    I had followed a trail of strange and vague clues and it had led me to the city. I rented a tiny room in a ratty motel on the outskirts of a ghetto.
    Locating missing people is more of an art than a science, and like most art it doesn’t pay as much as the artist would prefer. Also like a lot of other artforms, it frequently brings the artist face to face with some pretty philosophical questions.
    When my clint called and asked me to locate a girl Wisdom, my first question was; What kind of a name is Wisdom?
    That’s the kind of question you keep to yourself though. So I asked the client why he though Wisdom was missing, and he invited me to his mansion to talk about it.
    The mansion in question was huge, oppulent and slightly worn looking. All those adjectives also applied to my client.
    Arthur Dunning Grayham the third was as tall as me, even though he was sitting down. He wore a crisp white suit, gold rings on seven out of ten fingers and reclined in a leather chair worth a five digit number of dollars.
    His beard was well trimmed, but turning grey. His eyes were inteligent, but there were bags under them, big enough to make me think he hadn’t slept for a week.
    “Axel Cobe?” His voice was a deep rumble, the question was a formality. He knew who I was, his butler had told him when I arrived, and most likely he had seen my picture twenty times before deciding to hire me.
    I nodded.
    “I appreciate that you came so swiftly.” He began.
    I cleared my throat. He stopped speaking and eyed me with a certain ammount of surprise on his face. This was not a man who was used to being interrupted.
    “I am glad you called me, you are glad I came. Theres is business to discuss. You have someone you want me to find. I have bills to pay. Skip the preamble, and let me get on the job.” I spoke softly, and looked him in the eye as I did.
    He didn’t answer for a full ten seconds. I watched his face, looking for the moment where surprise would turn to anger. Against my expectation, the moment didn’t come.
    Arthur’s mouth opened into a brilliant smile, and he let out a rolling chuckle. Then he shook his head and looked at me as if he saw me for the first time.
    “I had heard you were a straightforward man,” He said seriously. “But I didn’t expect you to be so blunt.”
    “Sooo…” I spread my hands in a questioning gesture. “Am I hired?”
    He gave that a few seconds of thought. Hes gold ringed fingers steepled undr his chin as he considered.
    “Tell me what you have already found out about the case before you came here.” He said seriously.
    “You are Arthur Dunning Grayham the third.” I stated. “Your ward, a young lady called Wisdom has gone missing. She has been gone for just under a day, but you are certain she is not just spending the night at a friend’s house. She isn’t the streetwise type and you fear for her safety, but you have yet to recieve a ransom note or anything like it.”
    He stared at me, silently trying to figure out how I knew that much just hours after he had contacted me. He had as much as told me most of it himself.
    He gave me the name Wisdom, and the adress of his mansion. It wasn’t rocket science to figure out who lived at the adress, or his relation to the girl. The next clue was the lack of police. If the boys in blue weren’t here, it meant that Arthur hadn’t contacted them. So he either didn’t believe Wisdom was in real danger, or he had other reasons to avoid involving the cops.
    He had contacted me though. So he wanted her found, probably on the down low, which was fine by me. That’s my job after all.
    “You are hired.” He said after almost a minute of silence.
    “Good.” I gave him a half smile. “Give me all the details you have and I will get your ward back. Soon.”
    “We have not discussed your sallary.” He objected.
    “You contacted me.” I shrugged. “You know what my services cost.”
    An hour later, I left the mansion. In a manilla folder under my arm I carried the clues that would let me find wisdom. I didn’t have much to work with, but I have found more with less in the past.
    Wisdom had left the mansion twentytwo hours earlier, she had not been seen since. Her credit card had been used once since her disappearance, and she had left a strange garbled message on the mansion’s answerphone.
    It boggled my mind, that the mansion was old enough to have a landline and an answerphone. What was this? The nineties?
    I used the first day of my search to run down the location of the credit card charge and find out where the call had come from. Both pointed to a cheap bar on an old street near the middle of The City.
    That was my first stop then.
    I had a gut feeling, that Wisdom was going to take some finding, so I booked a motel room. That night, I fell asleep in a well worn bed, staring at wallpaper from the seventies and listening to a garbled answerphone message on repeat.
    That sort of thing helps me think.
    I spend day two pounding the pavement, canvassing and asking dangerous questions. The boring part of finding things takes up ninety percent of the allotted time. It takes patience to be good at your job, and I am very good at my job.
    My questions and all my nosiness hadn’t yielded a lot by the end of day two. I had a fair idea about who was moving behind the schenes on the streets of the city. Several people had given me the impression that the could point me in the right direction.
    Upon closer expection they seemed to be mistaken, or outright lying in the hopes of getting a reward for giving me information.
    The bar where Wisdom had bought a soda and made her call, gave me only the vaguest of clues. I showed the bartender a picture of the girl. Pale skin, hair like snow and eyes so blue you could drown in them. Not a vissage one easily forgets.
    The bartender hadn’t forgotten her, but he could only confirm that she had bought a soda and made a call from the old phone they lend out to customers. I was about to leave, when he added thoughtfully, that he though there had been someone with her.
    After fifteen minutes of further questions, all I was left with was a vague description. A skinny guy in a long coat. Short black hair. No description of the face, the bartender had only seen him from behind and from the other end of the room.
    In the end I went back to my motel room, sank down into a ratty chair and pressed play on the voice recording.
    I closed my eyes and listened to the whole thing for something like the hundreth time.

    “Arthur.
    Please don’t scrrrsc, I am scrrsc danger scrrsc not alone. There is something I must scrrrsc.. cannot help me find it. I will return scrrrrrrsc.. that which was promised to me.
    I will scrrrsc. Bye.”

    There was the clicking sound of wisdom hanging up the reciever, then the message started over. I pondered it as my mind drifted to sleep. What was hidden under the bits of static? The message could mean anything, more or less. It all depended on what had been left out.
    I fell asleep before it repeated for the fifth time.
    I dreamt of chasing a girl, Which looked a lot like the picture of wisdom. She ran through a maze of red rosed and old newspaper cutouts. I finally caught upp to her in fromt of an article about the Fifth Street Burglar and how he had been apprehended.
    In the dream I grapped Wisdom by the wrist and tried to pull her with me, out of danger back to the mansion. But she twisted and struggled in my grip. Then suddenly the picture of the burglar rose out of the oversized curout and attacked me. I fended of the black abd white immage of the criminal, but Wisdom took the chance to skamper.
    I tried to yell a warning at her, but found myself sitting in the ratty chair, yelling into an empty motel room. Next to me my phone was blaring a ring tone.
    It took me five seconds to realise that someone was calling me. When I finally fumbled the fone up to my ear, my voice sounded rough and sleepdeprived.
    “Yeah?” I asked into the phone.
    “There was another charge on Wisdoms credit card.” Arthur said on the other end of the line.
    After a second I realised the significance of the statement. I blinked my eyes open and forced some life into my voice.
    “Where?” I asked getting out of the chair.

  19. - Top - End - #79
    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 October 1 to October 7!

    The theme was Calculator!


    Lycunadari passes with five Inktober drawings, one silk painting and one nature picture.

    jseah passes with 2473 words for Inherited Memory Girl.

    Xiander passes with 1569 words of Finding Wisdom.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!


    Congratulations to me for passing 300 weeks!

    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 300 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 139 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 118 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -




    The current theme is Butterflies, chosen by me to avoid a themeless week.

    The theme for the week from October 15 to October 21 is Pure Evil!

    The theme for the week from October 22 to October 28 is chosen by jseah– let me know here or by PM and I'll include it in the next status post.

    ----

    I fell a bit behind on Inktober drawings (I only did 5); I also have one sky picture another silk painting but I'm too tired to upload them rn.


    A question for you two– are you interested in the themes at all? Currently nobody's using them, so we might as well drop them again unless you want to keep them just in case you're particularly inspired by one?
    Last edited by Lycunadari; 2018-11-07 at 10:34 AM. Reason: fixed mistake in jseah's count
    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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  20. - Top - End - #80
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Arutema's Avatar

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

    *inserts coins*
    *presses 4p start*

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    I've decided to turn an idea I've been kicking around for a while into an actual video game, and that means creating the models for it. So I will accept the challenge.

    Player flagship:
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    Galaxy map star:
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    As for themes? Maybe they'll help me come up with names? I'm generally terrible at those.

  21. - Top - End - #81
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Arutema's Avatar

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

    Maybe I'm taking the butterfly theme too literally here.

    Morpho-class interceptor:
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    Monarch-class fighter:
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    Swallowtail-class bomber:
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    edit: Updated paintjobs now included.
    Last edited by Arutema; 2018-10-13 at 02:42 AM.

  22. - Top - End - #82
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Arutema's Avatar

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

    And for my 6th, the Blue-class auxiliary.

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  23. - Top - End - #83
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

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

    1535 words of finding wisdom


    Spoiler: Finding wisdom, part two
    Show
    “Not sure yet.” He rumbled. “I have people tracking it, you will know as soon as i do.”
    “Good.” I mumbled, sticking my feet in my shoes. “I’m going to play a hunch, call me when you have anything new.”
    With that I hung up on the ridiculously rich man, grapped my jacket and left my motel room. It was a cloudy, moody day. Rain hung in the sky, building up momentum, waiting for some unknown signal to start falling. Wind danced over rooftops. There was a tension running through the entire city.
    When I arrived outside the bar, the hidden tension was so thick, it was all I could do to ignore it. Some thing big was about to happen and the whole worlds seemed to be holding its breath.
    I pushed open the door to the bar, swept my eyes across the place, locking briefly on the bartender then moving on to the only other person in the joint.
    The boy was around fifteen. His clothes were worn, his red hair shaggy and uncombed, and he was shoveling food into his mouth as if he had never eaten before.
    The door closed behind me with a loud clicking sound. The boy looked up and locked eyes with me. And the world breathed out.
    I knew my hunch had been a good one, and he knew that I knew something. There was a frozen second, as we both tried to read the other.
    Then the kid bolted.
    He jumped out of his chair as if it had been springloaded and ran towards the back of the joint. I wasted no time picking up the chase.
    I tipped over a couple of chairs I bulldozed through the cafe. The boy slipped through the door to the toilets and out of sight.
    Just as I reached the door, my phone rang. I slapped it to my ear as I took the corner.
    “Talk to me.” I growled.
    “It’s the same bar as the first charge.” Arthur said. He sounded perplexed, probably due to my curt tone. “She may return, we should stake out…”
    “Negative.” I cut him off. “She doesn’t have the card anymore.”
    I saw one of the kid’s feet slip into the ladies room, and threw myself in to a full sprint in persuit.
    “How..” Arthur started.
    “Persuing a suspect now.” I cut him off again, then hung up the phon and pushed it into my jacket pocket.
    I barged into the ladies bathroom, just in time to see the kid squeeze through a gap no vider than a loaf of bread, to escape through a partially open window.
    Huffing like an angry locomotive, I dashed to the window and pushed upwards to open it. The damn thing stuck tight. I could close it, but it wouldn’t open more than ten inches.
    “Sir.” Said a staffmember from the entrance to the ladies room. “You aren’t supposed to…”
    “Can you open this window?” I spoke over the poor girl.
    Baffled by my interruption, she simply shook her head.
    “I’ll make sure someone pays for the dammages.” I promised.
    Then I drove my elbow straight through the glass several times. It took a while to make a hole bige enough for me to climb through, but less than circling the building or going through the kitchen would have.
    I climbed through the shattered window and into an alley behind the cafe. I had a hot lead and no time to waste. My gut feeling had been right, and that kid had made contact with Wisdom within the last three days.
    He might know where the girl was.
    The kid had a lead on me, but I was pretty sure I could catch up. He probably had a better knowledge of the general area, but I have some advantages of my own, and I am not above ruthlessly abusing them.
    I set of at a full tilt run.
    The kid had left the alley and my line of sight, long before I had made it through the shattered window. So instead of trying to follow him, I just ran.
    The first time i hit an intersection, I turned right. I wasn’t sure why, but it felt like the way to go. Keeping my speed up, I took random lefts and rights, just picking the path that felt right.
    After the fourth turn, I was rewarded.
    I cornered hard, turning into yet another alley, and the kid sprinted into the ally a little further down. He turned his back on me and set of like a rabit fleeing a pack of greyhounds.
    I leant into my run and poured on the speed. The kid was fast, but I run daily, for just this purpose. You’d be surprise how many of my jobs involve people who don’t really want to be found.
    I gained on him as we tore down the alley. He took a sharp turn ans I almost lost my footing as I tried to follow his lead. He took us into yet another alley, and I chased him relentlessly.
    I had almost caught up to him when the game changed. It wasn’t something overt, nothing a normal person would feel, but in my stomach, it was like someone pounded on a gong. Some thing happened right then, and it was not to my advantage.
    The boy jumped forward, and barely avoided being hit by a potted plant, as it crashed against the tarmac. I slammed the brakes and made a full stop, just as a second pot hit the ground right in front of me.
    I cursed and went wide to get around ground zero. I shot a glance upwards, to see where the improvised artellery had come from. High above me, on a balcony, a small eager dog looked down on its handiwork. How id had gotten onto the balcony, or why it was smashing pots I didn’t know, but I felt a hidden hand behind this randomness.
    Someone was protecting the kid.
    But then again, someone had paid me to find wisdom, and the kid was my best lead. So I would just have to see exatly how good the protection was.
    The kid had gained a good deal of ground, but I had seen him duck into another back alley. I turned the corner and found a dead end. The narrow space stopped, where someone had put up a building.
    There were three doors one in each wall of the dead end, and no other means of escape. The kid had gone through one of them, and I didn’t have time to figure out which one of the doors always lied and which one always told the truth.
    I closed my eyes, opened my mind and listened to the hidden tunes of the world. At first the hidden song came to me onely as a vague murmur. Normally I didn’t have to strain to hear the tunes, but now everything was hushed, as if someone had stuck cotton in my ears.
    I focused, grit my teeth and tore the veil apart. There was a ripping sensation, a sharp pain in my chest, and then the song of the world flowed into my soul unhindered again.
    I staggered under the pain, but refused to be slowed down. With power comes pain, my mentor had said. He had neglected to mention that pain comes to everyone, no matter what amount of power they posess.
    With my feet under me again, and the song of the world in my ears, I reviewed the doors. It was simple enough. The door on the left was unlocked and I opened it without any more trouble.
    It lead to a dirty, well worn set of stairs. No doubt the back stairs of an appartment building which had seen better days.
    I strated up the stairs, humming softly in tune with the song in my ears. The kid couldn’t have gotten far. I got to the top of the first flight, and decided that he had come farther than this. I went up another flight and found myself facing the back doors of two appartments.
    I tried the closests door, and it swung open into a small, well worn kitchen. I stepped in, guided by the worldsong towards my target.
    I was fairly sure I wasn’t alone in the appartment. The worldsong also gave me the impression that the kid wasn’t tho only occupant I might worry about.
    I stepped out of the kitchen and into a hallway. At that point the song in my soul changed tune and tempo, i was no longer just listening to the world. I was hearing someone elses song entirely.
    And I knew, that she was hearing mine as well.
    “Wellcome.” Said a creaky voice from one of the adjoining rooms. “Please come in here in peace, we have much to discuss.”
    The song in my soul vibrated in time with the speaking voice. I was certain that whoever was in there, could hear the worldsong just as I could.
    I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I didn’t plan on backing out now. So I had only one way to go, forward.

  24. - Top - End - #84
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    927 for Inherited Memory Girl

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    say that Petra left notes on the Primary Runes that she retrieved from Database. I wanted to start practicing drawing runes when I got old enough, but I had no time this year. " At that, Alice smiled wryly at her mother, the expression quite unexpected on the face of a five year old child. Denka was sure no one around the table understood what she was saying.
    "If I practice enough, I can copy the Consecration. "
    And of course that was when the most preposterous statement came out of her mouth. Copy the Consecration? That... it wasn't something Denka had even considered possible. The Consecration was a mysterious thing the Earth Clan did, how could normal people like Alice use it too?
    "I should be able to make a Record that does it. Add it to the plow or something similar-"
    "Wait, stop," Denka interrupted his daughter. She looked up from her musing to her empty plate. "Do you mean to say you can make enchanted objects?"
    Magic items. Rumours and stories expounded on their qualities and legends told of their tales. Swords that could strike true, maps that showed treasures and your enemies, arrows that pierced the target without fail, such stories and wonders were... well, stories. Denka had never seen a magic item, nor did he believe that even Lochar would have seen one. They probably existed, maybe the Clans had a few, but they weren't real. Not like the furniture in front of him was.
    And his daughter claimed she could make them. As if she could make his wooden plowshare magical, just like that.
    She frowned at him, "well, if you don't believe me, I can make one. Just give me a week and I'm sure I can get something to glow. Trying to make a plow fertilize the land is much harder though. That might take a year. "
    Denka frowned back. If this was true, and if Petra's memory really came from before the Collapse, then Alice would be used by Lochar without fail. And the Clans would be jealous and- well, more than that, Denka did not care to speculate. But he knew enough that letting anyone else know about Alice's memories would be a bad thing.
    "Alright, now that Consecration is over, you will get time to play in winter," he said, "if you really do manage to make a magic item, I want you to tell me. Let me talk to Lochar, we'll create a lie. Maybe I found it while hunting or buried in the field. But for now, none of us are to mention Alice's memory or Ri's father. Is that clear?"
    Alice nodded immediately of course. He glanced at his wife, who was still looking pained. Denka nudged her shoulder, she nodded slowly. But Alice's brothers looked a little confused and Rishiamaher was totally lost. He had to make it clear.
    "If other people know about Alice's memory or Ri's father, they will come and take them away," he said to his sons seriously. They gave him their full attention. "You must not talk about what we said here tonight, you have to protect your sisters. Do you understand?"
    The two boys glanced at each other and finally nodded. Rishiamaher looked at him and imitated them too but it was clear that a four year old did not understand just how important it was to keep silent. He looked at Alice and saw she already understood.
    "Alice, I'm sorry, but you'll have to accompany Ri and make sure she doesn't talk. Can you do that?" he asked. Best to make sure.
    His daughter, special and seemingly given a huge legacy by the System, just nodded again.

    Alicia laid on the bed of straw, trying to feel some comfort in her husband's arms. But each time she tried to go to sleep, her daughter's face appeared in her mind. Memories of her intelligent eyes, sharp words and rare cheerful laughter swam amidst the ones that were missing. She had never comforted Alice, never had to share her bed after a nightmare, never had to kiss away the pain of a fall.
    Alicia was not too proud to admit that she had ignored Alice in favour of her needier, normal, siblings.
    Was she wrong? Did she lose her child to the memory of another woman long dead?
    "It will be alright," her husband said, hugging her tightly. It was a little warm but she needed that feeling.
    "We do know her. She has been with us for four years. Alice has always been good and obedient. " Alicia muttered. She remembered taking care of Alice as an infant before the System took her. The little girl was like any other baby, demanding attention and needy. Afterwards, Alice was watchful and nearly silent. She could not believe she had excused Alice's behaviour to herself at the time, thinking it was just a result of a fever or other sickness.
    But Alicia also recalled her daughter crying at the table, begging her not to disregard her. Alice's tears that were as rare as the moon's tears. And Alice had grown up with her memories for four years.
    "We just have to believe that she has been acting true," Denka added. That the Alice they knew had not been a lie. That he didn't say but Alicia still thought about anyway.
    "We have to believe," Alicia repeated, trying to convince herself.


    828 for Hero's War
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    The dinner was not the formal sitting of the Inath noble parties, but the Tsarian clan meeting was nevertheless filled with the same wheeling and dealing that Cato was familiar with. The companies in Minmay loved to invite Cato to various dinners between partners and sometimes rivals, and what Cato was seeing as the families were getting seated was similar.
    The six main clans were to sit on the floor, tables surrounding the central open area were laden with vaguely oriental dishes, or so they appeared to Cato with their pungent spices and promise of tongue searing heat. The less important families who were nevertheless important enough to attend an engagement announcement of the main branch family.
    "So, you're the man of the evening?" came a voice from behind him.
    Cato turned around to see a tall woman dressed in figure concealing Tsarian robes. Her unquestionably Tsarian features, the nose and straight black hair, made her look like Landar's relative. Though obviously all of the main families in the Iris clan would be interrelated. He glanced at Landar out of the corner of his eye, she was busy talking to another older man a few steps away. A cousin, if Cato remembered him right.
    Another row down, Kupo and Yan were besieged by eager summoners wanting to learn the new techniques. No help from them either.
    He bowed and greeted her formally, "If Cato is that man, then I am, madam. May I have your name?"
    She scanned him, with concealed derision in her eyes, "you can call me Chi. Tell me, how much of the new training methods are your work?"
    It was quite obvious to Cato that the woman was antagonistic, but not knowing who Chi was made it impossible for him to tell why. "It was a joint effort by Landar's family and Kupo, built on work on the nature of magic done by Landar and I. So the training methods were inspired by my work on the measurement of magic. "
    "Very well. "
    And with that, the mysterious Chi walked off to join her political allies. That left Cato wondering if he had made a mistake.

    It didn't take long before the dinner began. Cato and Landar were seated next to and just behind Yan, placing them clearly in his faction.
    "We are here today to celebrate the engagement of my daughter, Landar, and this man, Cato," Yan began, raising a plate full of a fried meat to attract attention, "together, they have made great contributions towards our training programs, in the Iris search for greater power. It is thanks to them that I have surpassed the level of magic needed to use a Ritual stone, by myself. Without tools to aid. "
    Landar's father looked around the room slowly, each of the six most important families seating around the central area. The arrangement was somewhat odd, since the third, fourth and sixth branch families were sitting together directly opposite him. Yan had a bad feeling, Sati from the third branch shouldn't have been sitting with Chi, his main opponent. He'd have to try harder to win her support back, and remind her who was the first branch now.
    "If there are any objections to the engagement, speak now. " Yan said the ritual words. It was mostly a formality, no one would interrupt-
    "There are. " The clear voice sent a ripple of shock through the Iris gathered in the dinner hall.
    Chi. The woman from the fourth branch family stood up, attracting all the attention to herself. Yan had known she was going to be trouble, but to actually interrupt the declaration ceremony? Madness. Even her allies looked surprised. Did Chi not even tell her allies about this?
    "There is a question of suitability," she said boldly, "Landar is a summoner of middling strength, but still a summoner of one of our core families. How can you say Cato here is worthy of her? He comes from outside the clan, has no magic. You're only diluting your bloodline, and the first branch cannot be allowed to do that!"
    Yan immediately put a hand backwards to push down on Landar's legs. Just in time to prevent her from blowing up. Still, he let his voice take on a hard tone in his reply.
    "You know as well as anyone here that the Iris have always accepted people of exceptional achievements. Cato's investigation into magic lead to the discovery of the overcharge training method. Is that not good enough for you?"
    Chi just shrugged, "indeed, such a discovery is worthy of an achievement that could make him an acceptable partner to the clan. If it was really his at all. From what I understand, this method was developed by Kupo working with you. The only participation Cato had was in the construction of the power measurement devices. And while useful, those boxes are not sufficient to convince me. "

  25. - Top - End - #85
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Do you guys ever get any non-animation art submissions? I was interested in this for a bit, but then I looked at the way points were awarded... It doesn't look like anything other than writing, videos, photos or simple animation is viable for anyone other than the extraordinarily dedicated.

    250 words is worth the same amount of points as a finished artwork? A figurine is worth one point? Let's do a time breakdown. I both write and draw.

    My avatar, a fairly simple single-character drawing in a simple style with no background and very simple shading took me 2 hours. That's 10 minutes for the sketch, an hour for the lineart, and 50 minutes for the colouring and shading. That'd win me 1 point. A simple background might take me another hour and a half, while a detailed one would be closer to 4. A digital painting could take 8 hours and only earn me 3 points. Yikes.

    If I were to try and game the system and produce the lowest quality "passing" art I could get 1 point every 20 minutes. That doesn't sound like much fun though, and I'd have to work for 2 hours to do it. At that point I'd much rather work on my own stuff. And if I wanted to do it to the best of my ability, I don't think it'd be possible for me to ever meet that deadline.

    Some people work faster than I do, but those people are busy doing commissions.

    Animation would be much easier to meet the deadline for, since after I draw the first frame, most of the hard work is done for me. I already know the positions and design of everything, and certain elements can just be duplicated or traced. A run cycle of 8 original frames might take me 2-3 hours.

    But if I'm writing, I can pump out about 750 words of a passable quality in an hour if I'm pushed. Maybe more. That won't give me much time for proofreading, but I'd be happy enough to submit it. And I'm far from the fastest or most prolific of writers. That's 2 hours over the course of a week to pass. Achievable.

    Composing musicians seem to get the worst deal. I barely know anything about making music myself, but I have a friend who does composition, and it takes her weeks to do a single piece she's happy with. And that's just instrumentals. Lyrics is a whole 'nother can of worms. Popular Youtube musicians like Chetro (who synthesise their music from soundbytes, which is efficient) are well known for being able to make songs very quickly, and even they can only do two a week at best.

    I'm not trying to be a **** here, but I don't think the points system is at all balanced. At this point it might as well be a writing challenge, since some mediums will be nearly impossible. Points ought to be based on time spent, not pieces completed.

    For reference, this is 500 words and took me much less than an hour.
    Last edited by Potatopeelerkin; 2018-10-18 at 05:31 AM.
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  26. - Top - End - #86
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for October 8 to October 14!

    The theme was Butterfly!


    Lycunadari passes with six Inktober drawings.

    jseah passes with 927 words for Inherited Memory Girl and 828 words for Hero's War.

    Xiander passes with 1535 words of Finding Wisdom.

    Arutema passes with 5 butterfly-themes starship models and one starmap.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah, Xiander and Arutema PASS this round!



    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 301 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 140 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 119 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    Arutema
    Current run: 1 week
    Longest run: -
    Themes: 1 week


    The current theme is Pure Evil.

    The theme for the week from October 22 to October 28 has not yet been chosen - everyone can suggest one!

    The theme for the week from October 29 to November 4 is chosen by Xiander– let me know here or by PM and I'll include it in the next status post.

    ----
    As long as there is one person interested in the themes I'm going to keep them.

    @Arutema: Welcome!

    @Potatopeelerkin: Hi! I'm going to write a longer response to you soon, but for now– yes, we have other art (like my inktober drawings!), but I am absolutely open to adjusting the rules.

    ----

    Six more inktober drawings!
    Last edited by Lycunadari; 2018-11-07 at 10:34 AM. Reason: fixed mistake in jseah's count
    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

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  27. - Top - End - #87
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Quote Originally Posted by Potatopeelerkin View Post
    Do you guys ever get any non-animation art submissions? I was interested in this for a bit, but then I looked at the way points were awarded... It doesn't look like anything other than writing, videos, photos or simple animation is viable for anyone other than the extraordinarily dedicated.

    250 words is worth the same amount of points as a finished artwork? A figurine is worth one point? Let's do a time breakdown. I both write and draw.

    My avatar, a fairly simple single-character drawing in a simple style with no background and very simple shading took me 2 hours. That's 10 minutes for the sketch, an hour for the lineart, and 50 minutes for the colouring and shading. That'd win me 1 point. A simple background might take me another hour and a half, while a detailed one would be closer to 4. A digital painting could take 8 hours and only earn me 3 points. Yikes.

    If I were to try and game the system and produce the lowest quality "passing" art I could get 1 point every 20 minutes. That doesn't sound like much fun though, and I'd have to work for 2 hours to do it. At that point I'd much rather work on my own stuff. And if I wanted to do it to the best of my ability, I don't think it'd be possible for me to ever meet that deadline.

    Some people work faster than I do, but those people are busy doing commissions.

    Animation would be much easier to meet the deadline for, since after I draw the first frame, most of the hard work is done for me. I already know the positions and design of everything, and certain elements can just be duplicated or traced. A run cycle of 8 original frames might take me 2-3 hours.

    But if I'm writing, I can pump out about 750 words of a passable quality in an hour if I'm pushed. Maybe more. That won't give me much time for proofreading, but I'd be happy enough to submit it. And I'm far from the fastest or most prolific of writers. That's 2 hours over the course of a week to pass. Achievable.

    Composing musicians seem to get the worst deal. I barely know anything about making music myself, but I have a friend who does composition, and it takes her weeks to do a single piece she's happy with. And that's just instrumentals. Lyrics is a whole 'nother can of worms. Popular Youtube musicians like Chetro (who synthesise their music from soundbytes, which is efficient) are well known for being able to make songs very quickly, and even they can only do two a week at best.

    I'm not trying to be a **** here, but I don't think the points system is at all balanced. At this point it might as well be a writing challenge, since some mediums will be nearly impossible. Points ought to be based on time spent, not pieces completed.

    For reference, this is 500 words and took me much less than an hour.
    Okay, now you get a proper response.

    Currently we do mostly have people writing or doing photography, but we've had everything else in the past. Personally, I've done painting/drawing (traditional), avatars, writing, photography, poetry, music (only once, though) and various crafts stuff (like knitting). The rules are the way they are because they are cobbled together from the very basic original rules (which only covered drawing, without any more specifications than one piece= one point, IIRC) with additions every time someone wanted to do something else, and a few updates from me to make things more fair. They are a work in progress. If you have *specific* proposals on how to improve them, please tell me! I'm always open to suggestions. Also, like I wrote in the rules, I'm also always open for counting things differently on a case-by-case basis.

    First, one important thing: the challenge is not meant to produce masterpieces. It's to get yourself to do *anything* creative, and to get things finished. You know how NaNoWriMo is not supposed to produce perfect books, it's to get you writing, writing a lot, just for the sake of writing? The challenge is the same. It's the creative equivalent to going jogging everyday, and not to running a marathon or winning a race. It's about continuity and endurance, not strength or perfection. (I hope that metaphor makes sense). That's why we count the amount of finished things/pieces and not the time spent making them. If that's not what you're looking for, that's okay. It just means that the challenge is not the right thing for you. (My sister considered joining the challenge a few years ago, but that was exactly why she didn't, she was already drawing everyday, lots of sketches and bigger pieces that took longed to finish, both things that don't really work for the challenge.)

    Now, to some of the points you mentioned. I don't remember how long my avatars took me to make, but I found the one avatar=one piece rule entirely fair. Now, yours is more detailed, and shaded, so I think counting it as two pieces would be fine. The same goes for a detailed background- I'm not opposed to counting one as more than one point, but there needs to be *some* kind of rule, and so far nobody else has complained about it.

    We've only had one person doing figurines, and that rule was made by them forever ago, so I just left it (even though I agree that that does seem very strict). If there ever joins anyone else who wants to do figurines, we can change it of course.

    I have never done animation, so those rules were mostly made by the people who do, and I can't say much about them.

    Writing is very situational, I've found. I've had weeks where I've written 3000+ words, and others where I've struggled to write 250 words and had to go back to drawing (because for me, drawing is usually easier than writing). Some people can do NaNoWriMo, and there have been people in the challenge who have written that much, even outside of November, but judging by how much jseah and Xiander tend to write every week, I think 1500 words is a pretty good rule.

    The music rules are really new, so there hasn't been much opportunity to see how well they work. I wrote them based on my own (limited) experience creating music, and Jormengand (the only other person who did anything with music) didn't object to anything in them, so I thought they're okay. But we can of course rework them if someone else wants to to music for the challenge.

    In case any of this sounds defensive- it's not meant to be, I'm honestly glad you spoke up! Most of the rules changes and new rules I made since I took over got little to no feedback from other participants, so I just assumed everyone was okay with them, but I suppose that was just because I only changed rules/made new rules for things very few people did. I guess if I started changing the rules for writing, I'd get more feedback.

    (Also, forum posts don't count as creative writing )
    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

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  28. - Top - End - #88
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Quote Originally Posted by Lycunadari View Post
    Okay, now you get a proper response.

    (Also, forum posts don't count as creative writing )
    But I HAVE used forum posts before, like posted transcriptions, or a created system, or a poem for iron poet. Traditional forum posts don't count, for sure.
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  29. - Top - End - #89
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Quote Originally Posted by Lycunadari View Post
    -snip-
    Thanks for responding. That makes sense, although it still feels a little unbalanced to me.

    And thanks for not taking it as too hostile, I didn't mean it in a hostile way.

    The amount of time taken for art does depend a lot on someone's style, level of detail and technique. A simple OOTS avatar would probably only take me around 30 minutes, whereas anything painted (especially without lines) will certainly stretch into multiple hours at least. Although perhaps the rules are more flexible than I initially thought. If my avatar is worth 2 points, that seems more reasonable.

    So for reference's sake, how much would each of these be worth and why?
    Approx. 15 minutes
    Approx. 1.5 hours
    Approx 3 hours
    Approx 5 hours

    (Don't question the subject matter too much. This is the stuff I have conveniently saved to my imgur account, so it's gonna be a little strange).
    Last edited by Potatopeelerkin; 2018-10-18 at 04:17 PM.
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  30. - Top - End - #90
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Quote Originally Posted by Lycunadari View Post
    The music rules are really new, so there hasn't been much opportunity to see how well they work. I wrote them based on my own (limited) experience creating music, and Jormengand (the only other person who did anything with music) didn't object to anything in them, so I thought they're okay. But we can of course rework them if someone else wants to to music for the challenge.
    I participated for one week, then dropped out because I was doing music and clearly wasn't going to get anywhere close to 5 even during very productive weeks.

    ...except that one week I did a very short (~1 minute) work for string quartet, which probably shouldn't be worth twice as much as a 6 minute rondo for solo piano.
    Last edited by Bucky; 2018-10-18 at 09:22 PM.
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