The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #91
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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    May 2012
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    Germany

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Potatopeelerkin View Post
    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).
    Yeah, the rules are far from perfect. But I don't think there can be a perfectly balanced solution when you have to consider so many different things. That's why you (general) you can always make your case why a piece should be counted differently than going strictly by the rules.

    That said, I'd count your paintings like this:
    1) 1 point. That's pretty straight-forward.
    2) 3 points. Two characters, plus colour.
    3) 3 points. One "character", with lots of details, and colour.
    4) 4 points. Two characters, details, colour. Maybe an additional one for the background.

    So that's not quite proportional to the time spent on it. *shrug* Personally, when I work on something that's going to be undervalued by the rules, I just try to balance that out with several quick, high "time spent to points-ratio".

    (Also, I want to point out that the fact that colouring, shading and details count at all is a pretty new addition to the rules. Before I took over, the rules were even more strict. These two pieces were both worth 2 points. Good times. (I had some drawings with even more drastic quality/point value mismatch, but they're lost somewhere on imageshack or photobucket.))

    Quote Originally Posted by Bucky View Post
    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.
    Hi! That must have been quite some time ago then, because I don't remember you being around since I joined (or maybe I've just forgotten, there have been a lot of people who only participated for one week, and before I took over I didn't pay that much attention to who else was participating). The currently existing music rules are only a few months old, so I have no idea how your work was counted back then, but I can understand that it must have been frustrating. Are you interested in joining again? Then maybe you could help me come up with better rules that still work with the rest of the challenge, because I agree that they could use some more work. And I'm not just saying this because I've spent several hours this week writing sheet music for a MIKA piano cover. (Writing something original would probably have been easier for me, and been worth more points as well.)
    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!

  2. - Top - End - #92
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Nov 2008

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

    On reflection, I think sheet music should probably be scored per-page, regardless of the number of instruments involved.
    The gnomes once had many mines, but now they have gnome ore.

  3. - Top - End - #93
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    1987 for Inherited Memory Girl

    Spoiler
    Show
    Alice pored over the draft scrawled in charcoal, running through the runes in her head and checking for errors.
    To make a new Record with the runes she wanted, Alice had to write out every single rune, without mistakes and in the right order. Even after spending most of her free time on the runes, Alice still took more than a day of careful writing and rewriting before she managed to write a rune script correctly. A logical error meant a lot of wasted effort. Even with the progress she had made over the past year, checking the runes before writing the actual script was worth the time.
    When she first started, Alice had thought that with Petra's cheat sheet of all the Primary Runes and the script syntax, she would be able to quickly make a magic item that would have the same effect as Consecration.
    Nothing could be further from the truth. The Earth Clan wasn't around and they weren't going to let her poke at their precious Consecration to find out how it worked. Ri was still young and while she was practicing controlled her Earth-Alva graft, she hadn't yet worked out how to adjust the soil concentration. When trying, Ri still had a tendency to turn the soil into mud or just vanishing it, apparently digging holes was a command preset in the graft.
    And even if Alice had a working example of Consecration to study, she had no actual way of obtaining the runes in it. Sure, Petra's notes had the Primary Runes to make a copy of the runes from another Record, but that didn't help her see what the runes actually were. So she either needed to make a System Module to read and display the rune contents, something Alice wasn't even sure was possible, or make her own display method. But Alice had none of the Module developer tools nor a private server to work on, making her own tools meant she needed to work out how to interface with the System and that ran into the same problem of not knowing how the System actually worked.
    So Alice had to bootstrap herself a toolset for rune magic from nothing at all. Starting from the baby projects of making a floating, point-size light. Alice had gotten up to making other useful tools like a carving knife that vanished material along the edge, able to cut without feedback. Each of those were powered by the Potential transferred from someone touching them. Without a stabilizing magic core found in all magical beings, including humans, they wouldn't hold much of a charge and would leak, but they were simple. No more than a hundred runes or so.
    To make a display, she would need to make a font in order to translate each rune into a shape, but to do that would take thousands of runes at least. To write a display that would take the shape and translate it into a shaped volume where light would be spawned, would take thousands more. Add in the controlling logic, connection to another Record and the rune transfer, perhaps a few hundred to a thousand runes. Alice would have to write a small book just make the most basic rune reader.
    Completely infeasible. She would never be able to write that many without mistakes.
    Alice would have to cheat. To whit, she did not actually need a rune reader or a full set of rune script tools. She wanted to make something that would fertilize the soil, so if she just copied the compound makeup of a sample...
    "Alice? Are you still working?"
    Her mother appeared in the doorway, a concerned frown on her face.
    Alice looked up from the pieces of bark scattered over the floor. "Mama! I had a new idea! I don't need to-"
    "It's late, Alice. Children shouldn't stay up late," her mother interrupted, "isn't Papa taking you out to teach you how to hunt tomorrow? You'll need to sleep. "
    She nodded, biting back a yawn but failing to keep it in. Her mother smiled faintly and patted her head, "you can continue tomorrow, alright?"
    "Yes mama. "
    Once her mother was satisfied and went to her parent's room, Alice poked the floating ball of light that was keeping the kitchen lit in the evening. The basic toggle in the Record cut off the flow of Potential and the light winked out. It had taken months to perfect a toggle that detected a human's record touching it on just the right spot.
    As she toddled off to the childrens' room where her siblings were sleeping, Alice sighed at the slight deception. She didn't often want to stay up late herself, the point light was nowhere near as bright as daylight to save on Potential and as a six year old, Alice got terribly sleepy once the sun went down and her work was similarly slow.
    But her mother wanted to fuss and worry over her daughter, getting childishly caught up in her 'playtime' and needing to be reminded to go to sleep reassured her mother that her daughter still needed her. That she hadn't lost her child to a hundred year old stranger.
    It definitely was not because Alice forgot the time.

    Alice trudged through the forest, following her father's back in front of her as he avoided disturbing the undergrowth.
    The last few times she had come out to be taught how to track, like her brothers before her, Alice had been left too exhausted to keep up. While Alice grew up far more active than Petra, she was still just six and a half. Her stride was shorter and her stamina was small compared to a grown man, an active hunter and farmer at that.
    By the end of each of the weekly lessons, she was left panting and unable to focus on anything more than following him.
    Her father held up a fist and she stumbled to a halt. He held up a finger to be quiet and Alice nodded back, noting how he pointed towards the canopy of the forest.
    For a moment, Alice saw nothing but leaves. But eventually she spotted a shade of brown moving among the branches. A small bird was sitting in a nest, subtly concealed against the bark. It's head wasn't visible, apparently sleeping even though it was only late afternoon.
    She looked at her father and he nodded his permission.
    Finally! A live test! Alice grinned as she unhooked the tube hanging from her belt. A dart launcher was a terrible weapon compared to her father's light crossbow, but this one was special.
    Alice had the ability to make supposedly legendary magical items after all, and making things go fast was relatively simple, magically speaking. A hollow tube was simple to make and the tiny darts were light enough to accelerate a decent speed with a small amount Potential. She had even added a spin to stabilize them in flight.
    A light one shot weapon that even a six year old child could carry and kill small animals with. It might even stop a wolf. The dart was certainly going fast enough to give someone a concussion if you hit the head. Not bad for a month of work.
    Alice carefully lined the bird up with the sights, adjusting for the slight drop after remembering her firing tests. With a thumb, Alice pressed down lightly on two specific points of the launcher.
    There was a light whoosh and the bird squawked once before falling out of the nest in a cloud of feathers.
    "Yes!" Alice shouted, the excitement of her first real success running like hot fire through her blood. Petra was familiar with this feeling of achievement, but Alice felt the rushing enthusiasm as if it was her first time.
    The light was a valuable toy but far too conspicuous, the knife was not worth the Potential to use; but this dart launcher, this her father had told her would be useful next Consecration.
    "Easier to make than crossbows, just as easy to use and I already have a rune script for it!" Alice chattered at her father, who was walking back with their prey. "They're light enough on Potential that even non-mages can charge a few. "
    "Well done," her father rubbed her head with a smile, "I'll make use of these. "
    "And I have an idea for solving the fertilizer. Without needing to examine Consecration. "
    Alice's chatter was interrupted by a crunch from further into the forest, followed by a crackling of tearing wood and crashing of falling branches. Did a tree just fall over? The vague idea was put thoroughly to rest when the sound happened again.
    With another motion to silence her, Alice's father crept forward slowly and silently. He pointed up the tree where the bird used to be and Alice nodded before setting about climbing it.
    It took her at least five minutes, during which the crashing of falling trees in the distance continued. When Alice reached as high as she could go, she peered through the treetops while catching her breath.
    Further down the gentle slope was the rocky downstream of the river where the village drew their water. Somewhat outside the limits of the safe zone Lochar had cleared of monsters, the area was on the border of true wilderness and familiar hunting grounds. Something, or many somethings, were moving through the area, crossing the river.
    It took her minutes of watching the shadows moving under the trees, toppling the occasional tree in their movement. Then finally, one of the shadows moved into the gap where a tree had fallen across the stream.
    The shadows were monsters. Huge and dog-like in shape, with powerful muscles rippling under a bony carapace. Its front was armoured with dull metal and bone, from its faceplate to the shoulders and down to the tips of the paws. Paws that ended in sharp metal claws.
    The dog monster crossing the log turned its head and seemed to look right at Alice. The mouth, filled with razor sharp metal teeth, held a dull orange glow in the back. The surface of its skin and armour rippled and changed colours like a chameleon, matching the brown of the tree it was standing on.
    Then it turned back to join its fellows, dismissing her for the non-threat that she was.
    Alice jerked out of her frozen state when she felt a trickle of warm liquid rolling down her legs. Hands were frozen to the branch in a death grip had to be pried off a finger at a time. Staying in the tree wasn't going to help if one of those things decided to kill her.
    That was a war wisp. Alice was sure of it! A Stalker. Predator model have no camouflage system. Autonomous scout and raiding unit, light aluminum armour, endless physical endurance. Claws shear through steel, short ranged flamethrower in the mouth. Private network similar to system, pack hunting behaviour.
    All of the Stalkers in that swarm already knew she was up on this tree.
    Feeling as if she was floating, Alice scrambled down to the ground right as her father ran by and scooped her up without a word.
    "Papa!" Alice clung to his arm, hoping that they weren't already marked for death. "T-They saw me!" she choked out.
    Her father didn't reply, instead breathing deeply and rhythmically as he sped up even more. Almost on instinct, Alice buried her face in his side where she was carried under arm.
    The panicked flight came to an end as they neared the village's most outlying fields but no sign of pursuit followed them.

  4. - Top - End - #94
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

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

    1603 words of Finding wisdom.

    Spoiler: Finding Wisdom, part three
    Show
    I took a deep breath, and stepped into the room. The whole situation was so wierd, that I had reflexivly prepared myself for the worst. So I was a bit surprised by what awaited me inside.
    I found myself in a homely livingroom. Cluttered with old furniture and enough books for a small library, the place had a friendly vibe to it.
    There were two people in the room, besides myself. The first was an old woman. Thin as a rail and dry as a stale cracker, she sat in a soft leather chair, leant back in a relaxing pose, but watching me intently.
    I couldn’t begin to guess at her age, but my best guess was that she was closing in on three digits. He hair was pure white, and held in a tight bun, her face was thin and wrinkled, but her eyes were intelligent and showed a pressence you didn’t see in many people.
    The other person in the room was the kid I had been chasing. He was sitting on a couch, feet pulled up into a lotus position. He looked just as confused as I felt.
    “You have questions.” Said the old Lady with a smile. “I can answer three of them, but first we must have introductions.”
    “Introductions?” I asked, unsure of how to react to this whole situation.
    “Indeed.” She said seriously. “It is only proper. Normally the host would ask the name of her guest, but I make it a habit, to not ask questions to which I already know the answer.”’
    “Slow down.” I cut in. “You know my name?”
    “Yes Axel,” she said softly. “I know a fair bit more than that, but your name is more important for now.”
    “Right…” I said. “You don’t exactly want to give away all the details at once, fair enough.”
    “I am not done with introductions young man.” She smiled and gestured towards the young boy. ”This is Matthew, I believe you have met?”
    I eyed the boy. He faced me with a wary stare. It was prettye clear that he had already scoped out the place for exits and bolt holes. He did not look happy about the situation. Which made sense, his only way of escape was by jumping out of a second story window.
    “Matthew, This is Axel Cope.” The old lay explained. “He chased you here because he thinks you know the location of a young lady.”
    “Wisdom.” I mumbled.
    “The nice lady with the white hair?” Matthew asked, looking puzzled.
    “You met her?” I Snapped. “Where?”
    “On the street.” He mumbled. “This morning. She gave me a credit card and told me to use it.”
    “She gave you a credit card?”
    “Yeah,” he nodded eagerly. “I still have it.”
    “I had assumed you stole it from her.” I said furrowing my brow. Why would wisdom have given away her card willingly?
    “I tried, but she caught me.” Matthew admitted. “I was real afraid, but then she gave it to me anyways, she made me promise to go to the bar and use it.”
    I stared at the boy.
    He seemed to be telling the truth. If he was lying, he was doing a piss poor job of coming up with a believable story. This was the kind of thing that was so out there, that it almost had to be free.
    The boy looked like he had lived on the streets for some time. You don’t survive day to day on the streets if you can’t come up with a better lie than: A lady gave me her credit card.
    Also, he had the pin code for the card, which he couldn’t have stolen, and I doubted he could have guessed it on his own.
    “Look.” I said thoughtfully. “It’s not my job to figure out how you got her card. I don’t really care, if you nicked it. But I need to find the woman who gave you the card. And I think you can help me.”
    The boy just sat there staring, a surprised look on his face. It took me a second to realise that he was not looking at me.
    I turned to follow his gaze, and found that the old lady was gone. It wasn’t that she had left, there had been no movement, and she certainly hadn’t gone past me to the door.
    Instead, she had simply stopped sitting in the chair, as if she had never been there in the first place.We both stared at the empty seat, then at each other.
    “What just happened?” Matthew asked, voice trembling.
    “I’m not sure.” My mind raced down several different avenues of thought. “I think someone anted us to talk to each other.”
    “Uhm… Why do you think that?” The boy tilted his head and looked at me quizzically.
    “Because, the old lady made me introduce myself and gave me your name.” It made sense in my head, but my grasp was tenous, so I spoke my thoughts aloud to keep focused on them. “If I had caught up to you while you were on your own, I would have taken the card from you and been on my way. But I didn’t, I found you in the company of someone friendly and polite. I learned you rname, you aren’t just a pickpocket any longer. You are Matthew…”
    “Matt.” He mumbled.
    “What?”
    “I like it better when people call me Matt.”
    I shot him a sidewards glance. I had a feeling that this whole schene was a setup. Someone wanted me to know something, to act in a certain way. It had that feeling. But what did that tell me? Was the old lady an ally, trying to guide me? Or was she and enemy, luring me into a trap?
    “Okay Matt.” I said pushing aside all the useless speculation. “I want you to help me find the lady who gave you money.”
    He looked surprised.
    “You’re not going to beat me up and take the card?” He ventured.
    “Nope.” I agreed. “Not my job.”
    “So why are you trying to find the nice lady?”
    “That is my job.” I explained. “I also think she might be in danger.”
    “Why do you think that?” He sounded allarmed.
    “Just a feeling.” I said, mulling it over. “Someone has been rigging the game, bending the odds in favor of one outcome or the other. Actually, I think there is more than one person at work here. Several interests colliding, making things messy. And Wisdom Is at the center of it.”
    “So how do we find her?”
    “We go to where you met her, and work our way out from there.”
    He considered that for a moment, seemingly trying to judge his situation, figure out his odds. Then he nodded seriously.
    We left the building the way we had come in, and I noted on the way out that the place seemed different. Thick dust caked every corner. It was as if no one had been her for several years.
    What was going on?


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

    “False lead.” I said into my phone. “She wasn’t the one making the second charge at the cafe.”
    “Did you find out who did?” Arthur rumbled.
    “Yeah,” I said. “I got him to help me.”
    “You have a new lead then?”
    “Maybe.” I hedged. “I have an idea, a place and a time, but nothing concrete.”
    “Can you find her Mr. Cobe?” Arthur’s voice was deeply serious.
    “Matter of time.” I promised, as I surveyed my surroundings.
    The alleyway was a worn example of the worst parts of town. No one who came in here had pure intentions, and the place had probably seen it’s fair share of dark deeds.
    Trash was littered everywhere. There were garbage containers stood along the walls, old green monstrosities, but people seemd to belive the ground was a fine alternative to the actual container.
    On top of one of the green metal boxes, Matt sat cross legged, watching the place nerveously. He obviously liked this scene as little as I did.
    “Time is exactly what we don’t have.” Arthur rumbled. “She has been gone for too long already, I fear for her safety.”
    “On it.” I said, and hung up.
    “Sooo…” Matt said tentatively. “Now what?”
    “This is where you met her?” I asked.
    Instead of answering, he pointed at the ground in front of the container he was siting on.
    “Right there huh?”
    He nodded.
    Walking closer, I placed myself in the exact spot he had pointed at. I closed my eyes and listend to the world song. I opened my eyes, took a step to my left and tried again.
    The song flowed into me and I felt the fleeting pressense of Wisdom. She had been here and I knew for certain that she would not return. But I had a trail now, I could follow the world song and hear my way closer to my goal.
    I opened my eyes just enoug to walk without bumping into things. I waved for Matt to follow me and started walking out of the ally.
    It was slow going. I couldn’t move to fast or I would loose my tenous grip on the sound of Wisdom’s song. It would have been easier, had I heard her song clearly before. But all I had was the weak notes still lingering in the world after her passing.
    So I stepped gingerly to avoid breaking the song, and Matt followed me watching nerveously for trouble. Like that we walked through the dirty streets of the city, our course set for Wisdom.

  5. - Top - End - #95
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Germany

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

    Status for October 15 to October 21!

    The theme was Pure Evil!


    Lycunadari passes with six autumn photos and five pages of piano sheet music.

    jseah passes with 1987 words for Inherited Memory Girl.

    Xiander passes with 1603 words of Finding Wisdom.

    Arutema didn't upload/send me anything.


    Thus Arutema FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!



    Current standing:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Lycunadari
    Current run: 302 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 141 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 120 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

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


    The current theme is The Origin of Love. (Chosen by me to avoid a themeless week. Yes, that's a Mika reference.)

    The theme for the week from October 29 to November 4 has not yet been chosen - everyone can suggest one!

    The theme for the week from November 5 to November 11 is chosen by Arutema– let me know here or by PM and I'll include it in the next status post.

    ----

    Apples! And colourful leaves! I love autumn. I also wrote sheet music for a cover of Underwater by Mika, but I'm not sure where I could upload that.

    ---

    Quote Originally Posted by Bucky View Post
    On reflection, I think sheet music should probably be scored per-page, regardless of the number of instruments involved.
    That does sound reasonable, after all, it does get longer when you have more instruments anyway. Consider the rule changed. (I don't have time to update the first post rn, but I will do so soon.)
    Last edited by Lycunadari; 2018-11-07 at 10:35 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!

  6. - Top - End - #96
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    1641 words for Inherited Memory Girl

    https://forums.sufficientvelocity.co...#post-11545563

  7. - Top - End - #97
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

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

    1590 Words of preparation for my Nono project.

    Spoiler: Timeline for A world
    Show
    The age of myth/gods

    The world becomes

    Dai descends from the stars

    Draig rises from under the ground

    Aun and Ava are born from the union of the two first gods

    Aun shapes the first humans and Ava breathes life into them

    Draig and Dai create the dragons and the demons

    The resulting argument lasts for most of a century, until Aun and Ava intervene, distracting their parents from the fight.

    Draig goes north, settling into a slumber far beyond the northern sea. Cold gathers around him, and frosen winds blow his chill from the north.

    Dai wanders south, settling to slumber on a hidden island. Heat streams from her, warming the lands to the south and making deserts a common sight the further south you travel.

    Aun and ava rise to the sky, each creating their own home. Aun makes a golden palace shing with pure splendor, he names it sun. Ava settles in a silver sphere, reflecting the light of Aun’s abode, she names her home Moon.



    The age of dragons

    Humans populate the lands, living in scattered tribes.

    A dragon whose name is lost to time takes the shape of a man and lives with one tribe, becoming a trusted member and in the end becoming the leader of the tribe.

    The dragon tribe prospers, and eventually builds the first real city. A giant sprawling metropolis, the city is the jewel of the dawn age.

    Other dragons follow suit, making tribes of their own, building cities and creating a civilisation of Men ruled by dragons.

    Demons watch the dragons rule, growing steadily more jealous.



    Age of destruction


    The Demon known as *insert cool demon name here* Infiltrates the first city, and assaults the Dragon king. The two creatures fight for seven days, the battle spilling into the city and causing great destruction. In the end neither can kill the other, and both immortal beings live, while the city lies in ruins.

    Other demons follow the example of the first, and destruction reigns across the land.

    The demon known as flamebringer arms a small tribe of humans with the knowledge of fire and persuades them to make war upon their own kind

    Other demons follow suit and humans war with each other on behalf of the immortals.

    Neither Dragons or demons can die the final death, and so they lead the war with no danger to themself. Humans die by the thousands.

    The war rages for centuries, with no victory possible. Whenever a city rises, someone finds a way to bring destruction to it.

    While most immortals fight with great zeal, and most humans accept the course of the world and take to the field as soldiers, a few minds start to regret what the world has become.


    Age of redemption

    The three Great Sages have a clandestine meeting, forming a plan to end the wars and make the world a place of peace. This is the first time a Dragon a Demon and a Human work towards acommon goal.

    The Dragon sage Fandrel Forges the first of the Sacred Artifacts

    With trickery and deception the three trap several demons in the Sacred Artifacts. These empowered Artifacts are granted to a handful of humans, to aid them in their fight against the immortals

    The Handful of Heroes gather a following of hopful mortals behind them and take the fight to both dragons and demons.

    More demons are captured and more heroes are made, the men and women empowered by the demoninfused artifacts become known as the Saints, the saviors of human kind.

    Even with the power of the captured demons and the sages and saints on their side, humanity fights an uphill battle. Fighting immortals is not a winning preposition, and so the sages come up with a plan to limit the power of the dragons.
    Working in unison the three sages devellop a binding which can prevent a dragon from changing shape or drawing power from the earth. To test the binding, Fandrel offers to be the first dragon bound. The binding works, and Fandrel is bound in human form.

    Armed with The Binding, Fandrel walks the land, seeking out his own kind and offering them a choice: Cease the war or loose your power. Most dragons refuse to surrender, and Fandrel binds them in whatever form they have taken at the time.

    Meanwhile The Human Sage Ailyss and the Demon Sage known only as Pathmaker seek out and entrap as many demons as they can.

    In the end most Dragons are trapped in one shape, and almost every demon is trapped in an artifact.

    As their plan hass succeeded and they stand triumphant, The three great sages convene once more to celebrate. But when the Pathmaker arrives he finds his two allies waitingin ambush. Afraid that the Demon would at some point decide to undo the bindings holding the immortals, Fandrel decided to bind Pathmaker in a golden scepter, where he could not unravel their work.


    The age of prosperity

    Nations form. Saints take the lead and great cities are erected. Some of the heroes of the Immortals war install themselves as kings, others merely guide their people from positions of relative unimportance.

    A kingdom of forges led by a king Wielding the spear in wich Firebringer is bound. A shining city state guarded by twin saints armed with demon swords. A nation of wisemen led by the wizard king who carries the scepter binding Pathmaker.

    At the edges of these civilisations, odd races appear and grow. In wilderness and under mountains the hide and thrive. Giants, dwarves, gnomes and even odder beings. These are the Scions of dragons bound in inhuman forms, who found a way to create life in their own immages.

    As empires grow, so do tensions and envy.

    In the end the Wizard king’s nation goes to war against the Kingdom of forges, ending the age of prosperity.

    The age of war

    The two great nations war. Smaller countries and city states are drawn into the fight on either side.

    While war is dominating the lands, a mysterious figure calling herself the Ancient sage gathers a small group of trustworthy allies. She names them all sages, and tasks them with taking the weapons of war from the warmongers, in the hope that this will lead to peace.

    Acting in secrecy, the sages work to isolate and take down the warleaders who carry demon artifacts. Ambushes and trickery are the preferred method, as the wielders of the artifact hold too much power to be confronted directly.

    While the sages wage their own hidden war, the open war rages on. For every triumph the wIzard king has, he sees bitter defeat in another battle. The Lord of the Forges grants his soldiers strong armor and well forged weapons, while the Wizard king excells at devious strategies. In the end the two great nations are equally matched.

    To end the war, two small teams of sages are formed. One team is tasked with bringing down the Lord of the Forges, while the other team sets out to end the reign of the wizard king.

    In the great city of the Wizard King the small group of sages manage to infiltrate the great palace and gain an audience with the Wizard king himself. They spring an ambush and attemt to slay the king and take the demonscepter, but the King unleashes the power of the scepter and turns it on his attackers. The scepters power is more than the sages can handle, but the king looses control of his artifact and ends up causing a great earthquake, which decimates the city and collapses most of the great palace. The survivors of the catastrophe flee the city, sure that the wrath of the gods has fallen upone them. The king and the scepter are trapped withing the ruin of the palace and the king dies from his wounds.

    The team which infiltrate the Grand Forge meet more success. Instead of direct confrontation they opt for poisoning the Lord of the forges. This strategy works and they make off with the Firebringer spear. Without the spear, the flames of the forges falter. The power of the spear kept the flames alive at all times, so without that powersource the kingdom can no longer produce the ammounts of quality craft they used to. Smiths and craftsmen stubbornly attempt to keep the forges alive, but the kingdom has passed the peak of it’s glory.

    Without their kings and their greatest weapons, the two great kingdoms wane and wither and in the end they break into several smaller kingdoms.

    Current age

    After several centuries of squabble and politicking, Seven kingdoms have settled into a semi stable state, with some free cities and unclaimed territories dotted across the land.

    Ruins of the prior kingdoms exist, but most people avoid them, believing that trespassing there might call down the ire of the gods.

    From the shadows, the ancient Sage still direct a small contingency of sages, who seek to claim any sacred artifacts they can, to hand them to those who will use them wisely.

    The people who are granted such great responsibility are known as sages. They wander the world, seeking to do good and help humanity prosper, whough often they disagree on how to achive that goal.

    People revere both gods and saints as holy. Shrines to *Draig, Dai Aun and Ava are seen in most cities. Well known Saints have smaller shrines, mostly in the places they have helped.

  8. - Top - End - #98
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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

    Status for October 22 to October 28!

    The theme was Origin Of Love!


    Lycunadari passes with six portraits, including three Mika portraits.

    jseah passes with 1641 words for Inherited Memory Girl.

    Xiander passes with 1590 words of Timeline for A World.

    Arutema didn't upload/send me anything.


    Thus Arutema FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!



    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 303 weeks
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    jseah
    Current Run: 142 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
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    Xiander
    Current run: 121 weeks
    Longest run: -
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    Arutema
    Current run: -
    Longest run: 1 week
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    The current theme is Dark Sun. (Chosen by me to avoid a themeless week.)

    The theme for the week from November 5 to November 11 has not yet been chosen - everyone can suggest one!

    The theme for the week from November 12 to November 18 is chosen by me–it's Penguins!

    ----

    Drawing musicians is fun. MIKA, Owen Pallett and Patrick Wolf; and two more MIKAs, and one random person.
    Last edited by Lycunadari; 2018-11-07 at 10:35 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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  9. - Top - End - #99
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    It seems I must bow out. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a literal pain.

  10. - Top - End - #100
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Quote Originally Posted by Arutema View Post
    It seems I must bow out. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a literal pain.
    Oh no, that sucks. I hope it gets better soon!
    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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  11. - Top - End - #101
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    1613 for A Hero's War

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    "You cannot be serious!" Landar shouted and was quickly hushed by her mother.
    "Unfortunately. " Her brother, Akuo, sighed, "the families are split evenly. The way both of you have lead the University makes them independent of your leadership. The amount of money you earn through your consultancy isn't enough to convince them either. I could ignore the opinions of the other families and just approve your marriage but that would be an insult to them and they will not be likely to aid you with Clan resources. "
    "And I think that if that stuffy Clan council will not approve of our marriage, I'll get Minmay to marry us!" Landar huffed, "I don't need the Clan and if they don't like it? Well, I don't have to be a part of it. "
    Yan added, seemingly having retreated back into his gruff persona, "Landar, it won't take much to tilt the balance. And the Clan is a useful shield. "
    Cato looked at the ongoing argument over the sitting room. It was true that having the support of the Iris Clan did not translate into any business or reputation benefits. Yet, the Iris Clan did have a huge number of very disciplined casters who could afford to spend time testing training methods, as well as a cache of summoning stones.
    Perhaps Landar had rubbed off on him, Cato had been ignoring the summoner clans.
    "What sort of support could the Clan provide, assuming I gain the support?" Cato interrupted.
    Landar gave him a betrayed look, but Cato pushed aside the guilty feeling to focus on Yan.
    "The Summoner Clans have ancient artifacts of the Tsars and special training methods," Yan replied, "I'm sure you can make good use of those resources. "
    Indeed, lost artifacts, especially if they could not be used and thus might be amenable to more invasive tests, were of great interest. However, most such artifacts of the First were either blocks of inert material like crysteel or large broken structures.
    "And what do you think needs to be done in order to gain the support? I heard military achievements but I'm everyone here knows I can't use magic. "
    Cato expected his question to result in an awkward silence, implying the politics had set him an impossible task, but Yan had a reply ready too.
    "Your achievements to date have already almost convinced the families to support you fully. If you can simply make another such discovery, it will not matter if the achievement is military or not. "
    "But no one can guarantee a discovery will happen. " Cato added.
    Yan nodded, "indeed. Which is why I would like you to join the northern expedition together with the summoners who are going as well. "
    Cato was about to ask what Landar's father expected him to do in a battle, but Yan explained, "Landar and her brothers can go with you. A number of closer relatives and outer families friendly to me will also join the expedition. If they allow you access to study summoner practices despite the Clan not formally backing you, no one can say anything. Once you return, any discoveries that aid us in our magic or even just answer a historical question will certainly gather enough support to quiet any grumblings. "
    Heh. Of course, Yan would simply give him the resources said Clan support was supposed to give, in order for Cato make the same advances to get that support. Using the northern expedition to send off a large number of summoners so that Cato could study them, while pretending to gain military achievements? An audacious gamble.
    There was guarantee Cato could discover anything about the summoning stones that the Iris had not already found out. They had the stones in their possession for the hundreds of years since the Great Migration.
    And the northern expedition was on a hunt for the population source of the zombies and might need a research team in support.
    Hm.
    Cato looked at Landar, who just scowled back. Well, persuading her to cooperate might be more of a challenge.


    Minmay set down his cup, going through the terms of the new agreement he was going to propose. Arisacrota had run off somewhere, the Iris clan had guaranteed her safety and allowed her to roam through the compound. A show of trust that Minmay would make sure to return.
    It was not even three hours since he arrived at the Iris clan and Minmay had to prepare for the upcoming meeting with the King. No matter how much prior communication had improved understanding, the King always drove a hard bargain and Minmay had to be prepared to rebut his points.
    He could almost wish his wife was here to take his mind off things.
    This meeting was officially about the movement northwards and what Minmay city could provide to the Ektal Army. Carts, weapons and ammunition was the expected demand and Minmay could fully meet expectations.
    On the other hand, what was more important was the backroom agreement to divide up the specialization areas by region, before next year's general meeting of the nobles. Chancellor Minmay was not going to give up his research and heavy industry specialization, the University and the closely associated Ironworker company would allow the Minmay region to take the highest value industries.
    He would have to hold on to the military industry as well. It helped that the capital still could not make guns to the same standard that Minmay city could.
    With a strong military and industry impact, Minmay was certain he could make the King recognize the region as autonomously governing. Retroactively legitimizing all his administrative appointments and allowing the Chancellorship to retain direct political control of the entire region instead of being sabotaged by capital politics.
    The pounding of feet outside made Minmay look up from his notes.
    "Papa!" his daughter flew into the room, giggling and out of breath, "papa, the alchemists are here to see you!"
    Minmay smiled at his daughter before sending her off to play once more. In the doorway was Cato and Landar, the two most influential academics in his territory.
    "What can I do for you?"



    Bashal observed the chugging of the machine as it descended into the depths of the mine's corridors. Every revolution, the machine would puff a haze of mist from the exhaust vent onto the rails below. Each time the pistons pumped, the engine drove the wheels forward and dragged the line of carts along the rails.
    A mine railway where the engine was self-propelled. Attempts to make a purely coal driven steam engine for railways ran into issues in mines. Chief of which was that the engine had to stay outside or it would consume all the air in the mine. Furthermore, mine rails were tiny compared to the proposed transport rails, the still new steam engine literally could not fit. This posed issues with how far and how deep mineshafts could run, as eventually transmissions and belts would fail or losses grew too heavy.
    The huge iron-bearing stratas under the mountains near Selabia needed mines to go deeper to reach. The main productive mine was a cluster of vertical shafts through hard rock that hit a gently sloping iron ore layer, productive mining was slowly replacing much of the iron ore with cement support walls. Estimates placed the remaining amount of iron ore in the layer to be enough to feed Minmay's consumption for a hundred years.
    The problem was getting it out of the ground in enough quantities to meet the demand.
    Thus, the cold-air engine. Even though Bashal hadn't managed to solve the oil freezing issue when the temperature dropped too low, the cold engine was efficient and powerful for its size. It consumed magical power instead of fuel, making the problem of fires and fuel storage much simpler, as well negating the need for boilermen.
    If this application was successful, Bashal's engine company would be certain to get orders from the coal pit downstream of Minmay. No one wanted the fire of a steam engine to escape control in a coal mine.
    Unfortunately, until a better method of storing magical power became available, this cold engine was only feasible in mines where any vertical exploratory shafts could double as mana wells once re-sealed. The power consumption necessitated a mana well nearby to feed the engine and the contradiction of a engine meant for transport that had to stay in a fixed region severely cut its usefulness. Magical power storage was extremely expensive to construct, compared to coal's simple metal bins.
    "A marvel, isn't it?" said Selabia. The new mayor of the mining and logging town rumbled happily as he watched the workers haul empty ore carts back down the mine corridors.
    "It is. " Bashal agreed. Privately, he thought that the new mayor, just as fat as the old one, was practically no different. Both were greedy, both were somewhat lazy and both had an eye for encouraging business. Only this Selabia had gotten his office through the very thorough execution of the previous and he was wholly owned by Minmay.
    "Such wondrous things you make. I look forward to the improvement in the iron ore output. Perhaps even a transport rail soon?"
    The inventor swept aside the flattery of the administrator and sighed, "perhaps. Though there are still many hurdles to be overcome first. "
    "Given your record of engineering, I am sure you will meet the challenge. I look forward to the day when transport rails are laid across the country and beyond. "


    Must not forget to update...
    Last edited by jseah; 2018-11-05 at 02:57 PM.

  12. - Top - End - #102
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    For nanowrimo, I have written 4626 words of a brand new story, under the working title: The Scepter of the Wizard king.
    I do not want to post all those words in the thread, should I send it to you Lycunadari? Or is my Nano count enough?

  13. - Top - End - #103
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for October 29 to November 4!

    The theme was Dark Sun!


    Lycunadari passes with five nature photos and one portrait drawing.

    jseah passes with 1613 words for Hero's War.

    Xiander passes with 4626 words of The Scepter of the Wizard king.

    Arutema is out due to injury.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!



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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 304 weeks
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    jseah
    Current Run: 143 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
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    Xiander
    Current run: 122 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -



    The current theme is Rosemary. (Chosen by me to avoid a themeless week.)

    The theme for the week from November 12 to November 18 is Penguins!!

    The theme for the week from November 19 to November 25 is chosen by jseah–let me know here or by PM and I'll include it in the next status post!

    ----
    Some photos, and one portrait.



    Quote Originally Posted by Xiander View Post
    For nanowrimo, I have written 4626 words of a brand new story, under the working title: The Scepter of the Wizard king.
    I do not want to post all those words in the thread, should I send it to you Lycunadari? Or is my Nano count enough?
    The NaNo count is enough.

    ----
    While updating the first post I noticed there was a mistake in the week counter - apparently I stole jseah 10 weeks a while ago? Oops! But I went back through all the status posts since then and fixed it.
    Last edited by Lycunadari; 2018-11-07 at 10:37 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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  14. - Top - End - #104
    Ogre in the Playground
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    961 for AT x HP
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    Voldemort stalked into the hall of Malfoy Manor, acknowledging the bows of his hastily reassembled Death Eaters. Once he had performed the ritual for his own resurrection, substituting the majority of ingredients with a simple dash of Elixir, Quirrel had gained the not-so-enviable place of 'Most Favoured Death Eater'.
    The man was still unconscious from Voldemort's stint in his body and quite unable to appreciate the Dark Lord's consideration.
    Returned in his own body, young and vigorous as if he was still Tom Riddle right out of his NEWTs, Voldemort could sense the shock from the free Death Eaters. After all, their Dark Lord now looked and felt younger than they did.
    "Welcome back," they bowed together.
    "Isn't it interesting," he drawled, savouring the fearful trembling of these powerful men at the sound of his voice, "how many years has it been since I was forced to leave? How many years did I have to spend wandering around as nothing more than a spirit? But no one came. "
    Silence greeted him. Only to be expected. There was so much fun in asking questions that had no right answers.
    "Did you not believe that I had plans? That Voldemort had gone further into the realm of immortality than any before?" the Dark Lord's voice was still calm and silky, but no less dangerous.
    Ah, how he loved this feeling of power, but his forces were meager and despite the advantage of the stone, Voldemort still needed them. His battle with the old wizard had shown that for all his newfound might, he was still limited in speed.
    "I have obtained the philosopher's stone," Voldemort announced, smirking as the assembled faces lit up with greed, "indeed, despite the setbacks, we are closer to victory and our eternal reward than ever before. "
    He needed to cement these rabble to him, to position them irrevocably to Voldemort. More than any advantage of secrecy, Voldemort needed to both show them the rewards of service and seal any possibility of retreat. Beyond the loyalty the marks bought him, he needed to burn their bridges so that no such delay in helping their Lord would happen again.
    "Yes, you have noticed the reason for my newfound youth. And no doubt you want the benefits too. But how to redeem yourself when there has been such failure for ten years?"
    The concealed hope was both easy to spot and easy to manipulate.
    "In three days, my return will be announced. All of you here will join in the attack with me, without your masks. Your actions... will be rewarded. " Those who participated would be given Elixir, more to return their power to their youth than anything else. Those who did not would get their just reward.
    "My.. My lord," the fearful voice bowed, "if I go without my mask, I fear that my political uses will be severely affected. And our safety here cannot be guaranteed. "
    "Do you think me unable to keep you safe?" The Dark Lord grinned at the perfect hook for yet another question with no answer. "Oh very well then. You shall serve in a different way. Show me how useful your politics are, only then you shall receive. After all, if you so wish to keep your station, it would not do for others to ask awkward questions about your age, no?"
    The man bowed and scraped, muttering his thanks. Simpering fool.
    Voldemort scanned the room again. No one else brought up any objections.
    "Remember, three days. Go. "

    Before the instinctive denial could leave his mouth, there was a hurried knock on the office door again.
    "Wha-what is it now?" Fudge stammered, somewhat glad for the distraction.
    But without even waiting for the occupants to open the door, an auror stumbled through, arms waving, "Minister! The- The muggles! In Diagon Alley!"


    Petunia was in a bit of a bind. An awkward position, so to speak.
    She was trying very hard not to feel grateful, that she had taken in her nephew, for the first time in ten years.
    Ever since Petunia had taken in the child from that huge giant of a man, and received with veiled threats to treat him well, she had fed and clothed the boy. She wouldn't, couldn't, love the child, not when it was the spawn of her sister that was the utter embarrassment of the family, running off with that pompous git. But the boy had grown up over the years, not starved and not beaten too badly, and Petunia's fears that the scary people would make trouble had gone unwarranted.
    Until two masked black robed men had got themselves struck by lightning on her very doorstep.
    After all, the two of those people had turned up suddenly, all dolled up with black cloaks and masks, looking as if they wanted to burn her house down. They had waved their sticks and milled around outside for a few minutes. Then they took one step into her garden and lightning had struck them down. From clear blue sky, no less.
    It had left a scorched circle on her grass that was going to be the talk of the street for years. Before the police had turned up and claimed the smoking bodies, all the neighbours had gotten a good look at them and had promptly decided God himself had smote what was clearly devil worshippers.
    The boy had to go. Even if his presence was needed to protect her house, her house wouldn't be in danger if the boy wasn't around. The boy's watcher, the batty cat lady, could carry her letter.
    Yes, Petunia had decided. They would not accept the boy back over summer.


    772 for Hero's War
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    Cato patted Landar's shoulder as she twitched irritably and Minmay decided to make a wild guess.
    "The Iris want you to go north with the expedition. "
    The utter astonishment was worth the entire trip here to see. Minmay chuckled to himself as the pair looked at each other.
    "How did you know?" Cato asked finally.
    "I am familiar with the Iris family's requirements for external marriage," Minmay explained, "one of the six main branches had asked me about Arisacrota after all. What else would you come to me for right after announcing your engagement to the Iris Clan? Though maybe you should tell me exactly what happened at the meeting. "
    Minmay nodded to himself as they explained the political issues surrounding Landar's marriage. He would have thought Cato was famous enough for the Iris to accept him but it seemed that the Clan's conservativeness was deeper rooted than Minmay had first thought.
    On the other hand, while Cato had done a huge amount of work into making sure the University could run in his absence and to instill his mindset of discovery, the only way to be sure they could function without him was to make Cato go away for a long time.
    "Very well, this could be an opportunity," Minmay nodded again. "When you return to Minmay, if the two of you can arrange matters to run while you go on a long trip, I shall arrange for you to travel with the last group of Minmay Guards to join the expedition. "
    Cato bowed his thanks and it took him some urging to get Landar to mirror him.

    Kupo brought the sealed microscope slides under the focus again. The stained tissue trapped in preservative and glass swam into view.
    Her prepared and labeled samples from people chosen in Minmay had not yielded many clues. Ever since the tissue magic content tests had been conducted on death row prisoners, Kupo and Landar had isolated the majority of magic power containment to the muscle tissue. True, every part of the body contained magic, but the muscle had nearly twice as much as anywhere else.
    Staining the cells with as many different treatments as she knew of and had invented, Kupo was bordering on a medical revolution. The ability to look at tissues in detail, see the disease causing organisms, and even culture them, was hugely important for the ever lasting fight against illness.
    But here in the heart of the Iris Clan, Kupo was working to tease out the secrets behind the ability to cast magic at all. When she had asked for biopsies of muscle tissue from the Iris, they had first looked at her askance. When she explained what she was trying to find, they had fallen over themselves to provide samples.
    Trust the Iris to chase after every possible thing that could lead to 'more power'.
    What she was trying to puzzle out here was what made the tissues of the highly trained Iris different, compared to the alchemists in Minmay or even the untrained civilian population. The new overcharge based training program had not yielded the same benefits with those people who did not traced their maternal descent from the Tsarians. Kupo had acquired all sorts of stains of healthy muscle tissue from people from the First and people from the Tsar and there was little to show for her efforts.
    No, what she was hoping to see different was in Yan's biopsy, he had undergone the greatest amount of expansion in magic power after all. From the admittedly inaccurate blood tests, Yan's body contained close to twenty or thirty percent greater in magic density per volume than the Minmay alchemists.
    The various slides passed under her microscope to date had not yielded any secrets so far, but Kupo was confident of this one. The green dye showed little grains within cells, with long ropy bits in muscle tissue, and Cato's samples had contained half the number of anyone else's. It was little to go on but this dye was the only one that had shown such major differences that did not eventually trace back to one disease or another. Kupo still had no idea what the things were and Cato was no help either.
    The slide came into focus and Kupo blinked.
    That was unexpected. She quickly sketched her observations and pulled out the notebook, flipping to the pages from two months ago. Before the overcharge training program, Yan's cells had far less grains and ropes. Kupo's new slide was much greener.
    Perhaps she was on to something.

  15. - Top - End - #105
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    I did 8525 words on the scepter of the wizard king.

  16. - Top - End - #106
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for October November 5 to November 11!

    The theme was Rosemary!


    Lycunadari passes with nine nature photos.

    jseah passes with 772 words for Hero's War and 961 words for AT x HP.

    Xiander passes with 8525 words of The Scepter of the Wizard king.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!



    Current standing:
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    Current run: 305 weeks
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    jseah
    Current Run: 144 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
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    Xiander
    Current run: 123 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -



    The current theme is Penguins.

    The theme for the week from November 19 to November 25 has not yet been chosen – everyone can suggest one!

    The theme for the week from November 26 to December 2 is chosen by Xiander–let me know here or by PM and I'll include it in the next status post!

    ----
    This weeks pictures are from a different botanical garden than usual.
    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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  17. - Top - End - #107
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    1057 words for Hero's War

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    Curasym and Cato walked down the firing range, inspecting the latest iteration of the standard weapon that was being produced in Minmay. After the order for seven thousand new model guns were confirmed, the flush of money had resulted in the newly established weapons company recruiting university alchemists to improve the gun.
    Cato had kept hands-off from that project, wanting to see if the teams could function independently. The trip to Iris Clan had happened during the most critical phase where the team were making prototypes and the problems in the design by committee had created. This was the result during Cato's three and a half weeks at the town of Barin.
    The training driller provided by the designing team led them to the table where a disassembled gun was waiting for them. Clearly trained by the Minmay Guards, the man's discharge reason was obvious from his wounded leg.
    "Here you can see the second new model gun, called the Model 2. These are the parts that make up the gun, each of them are enchanted to provide the function they are meant to support. " The man assembled the pieces of iron with a deft hand, creating a gun that looked like someone had added a whole bunch of attachments to the old one.
    "Just like the previous, the Model 2 supports shooting different types of magic bolts. Along with the original fire, force and disruption bolts, we have added a shield piercing disruption bolt and a shield piercing fire bolt, building on your spell designs. " The trainer acknowledged Cato with a nod. "For physical bullets, added onto the original pure speed mode, we also have the Hero's inertia and speed combination for attacking unshielded targets and another mode that adds a weak disruption spell to the bullet's enchantment. "
    "Furthermore, the bullet design has been refined, with spiral grooves cut into the bullet's head in order to spin stabilize it without the need for rifling. All bullet firing modes delay the inertia enchantment for at least ten meters of flight to let the bullet build up spin. This and the higher speed allows the Model 2 to shoot more accurately. "
    The man held up the gun and pointed to where the original loading spot was. There was a very familiar bolt and chamber there. "This here is inspired by Cato's description of the bolt-action, though obviously not the same. The bolt is fixed in place by a spring and serves to load the bullet from a clip when pulled. The clips have springs at the bottom to push the bullets up into the gun and can be reloaded simply by pushing a bullet into it. Each clip holds ten bullets. "
    The man detached the straight block of metal below the loading spot to show the bullets lined up in the rectangular ammo clip. Fixing it back into place, the trainer pulled the bolt back, twice as far as the size of the bullet, and rotated it upwards, showing the bullet that had been pulled up from the clip in the hole of the sliding portion attached to the bolt. He let the bolt stay open, inviting Cato and Curasym to view the mechanism and bullet chamber.
    "Alternately, rotating the bolt upwards holds the bullet chamber open for manual loading. Using this bolt action, the Model 2 can be fired nearly twice as fast as the previous model. Allow me to demonstrate. "
    He let the bolt drop and snap forwards. Bracing the gun against his shoulder and held up by his left hand, the trainer aimed down the range and fired with the characteristic supersonic crack. Simply drawing the bolt back and letting the spring snap it forwards reloaded the gun, allowing him to correct his aim and fire again. In just a handful of seconds, the trainer had fired all the bullets, and though the range was short, they could see the man had shot a splendidly close grouping of holes into the target.
    "We also have designed a different bullet to be used with this same gun, a canister containing a bunch of small metal balls that pops open after leaving the barrel. This canister sprays a cone of pellets at short range, you barely even need to aim. Very good for close in work. " The trainer loaded the small bullet sized wood cylinder on the table into the gun manually and fired. There was a buzz-crack and the target acquired a splattering of dents. Cato could count at least six dents in the human sized target at ten meters. Almost like a shotgun, though with much greater spread. "Unfortunately, this new bullet only works with the Model 2, the spell plates of the previous can't prime the canister. "
    The trainer pulled his attention back with a gesture to the bar hanging below the barrel. "The gun also comes with a bayonet attachment here, which also accepts an attachment for fireshell launching. A bracket can be attached to the standard fireshell produced in the country, slotted into place in the bayonet holder and the gun can prime and launch the fireshell up to fifty meters. Much further than can normally be thrown. "
    "Other additions are the charge indicators here on the stock, which is signaled to the gun from the new power container design. Changing the selected mode is also done with a dial on the stock instead of changing the spellplates manually. The stock itself is built like a spellforming wand and has all the modes built in. "
    The man once again deftly disassembled the gun into its component parts, all seven of them. "The best part of course is that each part of the Model 2 is built to the new interchangeable parts standard, including the enchantments. If a gun's spellforming stock is broken, it's working parts can be used as replacements for other guns. If the bayonet attachment has seen action and cannot fit the fireshell brackets any more, it won't affect bullet accuracy. Unlike the previous model, the Model 2 is not a single fixed piece, we hope this improves its use when damaged or needing maintenance. "
    Curasym looked at Cato, as if asking what he thought about it.
    All Cato could think of was that the guns of Minmay were starting to look more modern.


    783 for AT x HP

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    Lyner prepared to draw his blade for a shield, himself a shield to the civilians behind him. At the other end of the open brick wall was a row of the magic using people pointing wands at the delegation. He had to stop getting into these situations. How did this happen?
    Oh that's right, he decided to walk into a bar. Why was it that trouble always happened in bars? Lyner had merely asked for the entrance and a guide to their Ministry of Magic. When the bartender, a wizard by the name of Tom, had opened up the wall, there was the wand wielding people waiting for him and not looking friendly.
    Unknown to Lyner was that while most of the patrons of the bar in the afternoon had only regarded the party with some alarm but not hostility, one of the patrons had started drinking a little early. The man had panicked and flooed to the Auror reporting station, screaming that the muggles were cooperating with the Tower to invade magical Britain.
    "Gentlemen and ladies," said one of the severely dressed wizards in front of Lyner, stepping forwards, "lay down your arms and deactivate any magic on you or we will be forced to take action. "
    Which was something Lyner was not going to do. Being greeted this way did not bode well for future relations but if this person was high ranking enough to call for such action so quickly, he was also high ranking enough to get into contact with the government.
    "I am Lyner Barsett, current Representative of the Tower of Ar Tonelico. May I know who I am speaking to?" Lyner said carefully. Krushe's thumbs up beside him told Lyner he had not messed up his english.
    "John Dawlish, Auror Office. I must insist that you disarm yourself. You are in violation of the Statute of Secrecy. " The man frowned when none of Lyner's party moved.
    "We are not familiar with your laws, but we haven't had the chance to do anything or know any secrets," Lyner replied, "actually, I am here to formally establish contact between our respective governments. Perhaps you could convey a message to your Ministry in order to arrange a meeting date?"
    The auror simply looked even more impatient, "your knowledge of magic is the secret, and your ability to find and enter the Leaky Cauldron is an even larger one. Disarm yourself now and submit to questioning. "
    Lyner kept a frown off his face but his blank stare at the man was only making the tension ratchet higher every second. He didn't want to fight the magical law enforcement, he wanted to talk to them! But talking required both sides to actually cooperate, Lyner could not do anything if the British magic users adamantly did not want to talk.
    Lyner's combat instincts flared when one of the men shifted, about to launch a ranged attack Lyner thought, when there was a loud crack behind the men that made them all jump.
    A very tall hat heralded an ancient garishly dressed man pushing his way through the wall of robed magic users. Lyner suppressed a wince at the man's animated pink drawings on his green clothing, noting that the old man was followed by a much shorter and slightly plump man dressed in an electric blue jacket. What was with this disastrous fashion sense?
    "Put down your wands, there will be no fighting here at the entrance to the magical world," the old man said, waving a hand at the assembled magic users. Reassuringly, John Dawlish appeared to be overruled by this old man, reluctantly lowering his wand.
    "I am Dumbledore, Chief Warlock of Magical Britain," the old man introduced himself. The man's eyes moved over Lyner's party but did not seem immediately hostile. Somehow, Lyner's combat instincts told him that this man was more dangerous than the rest of the magic users present combined. This Dumbledore held himself too confidently despite his age.
    "Lyner Barsett, current Representative of the Tower of Ar Tonelico. " Chief Warlock sounded important, perhaps he was in their government?
    Mr Dumbledore turned to the shorter man accompanying him, who was looking constipated. "It appears our hands are forced, contact is inevitable. Do not let the first meeting between our peoples be that of violence. "
    "Yes-yes," the shorter man stammered, "Cornelius Fudge, Minister for Magic. I... I hope we can discuss some important issues regarding the Statute-"
    It was at this point that Lyner's sense for imminent crisis began to tingle. True enough, Dumbledore's head snapped up with a frown.
    "Portkey wards," the old man muttered.

  18. - Top - End - #108
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

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

    I did 9153 words this week. I am way behind, but I did fairly well this time.

  19. - Top - End - #109
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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

    Status for November 12 to November 18!

    The theme was Penguins!


    Lycunadari passes with eight nature photos.

    jseah passes with 1057 words for Hero's War and 783 words for AT x HP.

    Xiander passes with 9153 words of The Scepter of the Wizard king.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!



    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 306 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 145 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 124 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -



    -----

    I'm not including themes anymore for now as no one's using them – when someone wants to use them, I can bring them back.

    -----

    Your weekly supply of nature pics.
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

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

    Stories

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

  20. - Top - End - #110
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    +90 words for AT x HP, finishing the chapter.

    https://www.fanfiction.net/s/1288352...ional-Transfer

    699 words for A Hero's War, finishing the chapter.

    https://www.fictionpress.com/s/3238329/117/A-Hero-s-War

    801 words for Inherited Memory Girl
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    Alice watched the metal rod grow another few millimeters.
    Two years since the Consecration had been enough for her to work out how to make something like it. Rather than make a copy of Consecration, what Alice was making was a short rod that would transmute soil within half a meter from the marked tip into the same chemical makeup as the sample provided in the holder at the top. The Potential was of course taken from the holder.
    It had taken her three months just to write out the thousand or so symbols needed to read a variable thing and apply it to the Object Definition. Now she was on the last day of making the physical object.
    Conjuring it from thin air really. It was extremely expensive to conjure this titanium rod wholesale, Alice and her family had contributed their meagre civilian power for the last two weeks just to make this.
    Alice had initially wanted to use wood, but her father had explained the scheme he was going to use to deflect attention from Alice. They needed something that appeared to be a Pre-Collapse artifact and while Alice could not copy the design style of Petra's age, she knew that titanium was an impossible metal to make at present. At least she had done her testing of the Record's operation with wood copies.
    The soil sample her rod was going to duplicate was preserved from a small corner of the field. Her father had let it lay fallow for the past two years, the soil would be rich and fertile, even though the rains would have leached some of the nutrients away.
    Alice grinned to herself as she examined the metal rod again. Only a few more hours to go before she would Record it and start on a second.

    "It seemed like too much to believe, sir. "
    Lochar rubbed the metal rod curiously. When one of the hunters had returned from a long and futile chase, he had reported that he found an artifact that had been uncovered. It was the same man whose wife had a daughter by that obnoxious Earth Finger... ah yes, Denka was the hunter's name. Truly, the family was cursed with interesting times. One did not find magic items lying around in the forest unless you were cursed.
    An unadorned metal rod the length of his forearm, slightly bent from past damage, the metal below could still be polished to a shine. Even the dirt had not clung to the surface, given how Lochar's finger had easily polished clean a spot. The bottom tapered into a spike while the top held an empty pocket about a finger's deep and wide.
    Truly, just looking practically new while lying buried for hundreds of years was enough to identify the rod as a Pre-Collapse artifact. The Record Lochar could see on the thing was another clue. The big giveaway however was how the rod had tugged on Lochar, a phantom feeling that was his magic telling him that the rod was draining Potential from him. It was a working magic item.
    What it did though...
    "Do you know what it does?" Lochar asked idly.
    "How could I, sir?" the hunter replied. Lochar could see how the man hastily concealed his skepticism, as if wondering whether his governor was sane but too afraid to say anything. Well, at least it wasn't some heirloom that had been hidden away until the man got nervous.
    Well, nothing to it, Lochar fed in some Potential, watching the artifact glow with a small amount of power. Nothing happened as the glow drained away.
    Still, if the glow disappeared that quickly, that meant that the artifact had been using Potential. It had been doing something. Most likely, either it's activation was continuous or it had been jammed in a working mode. What luck! He didn't have to figure out how to activate the thing!
    Lochar dismissed the hunter with a promise to provide some favours for the discovery. Now, to figure out what the artifact was doing. Lochar had some ideas, the slot on top looked suspicious after all...

    The next day after her father had handed his 'discovery' to the governor, everyone had been called to assemble in the center of the village. Alice could practically jump in glee, they had succeeded!
    Mindful of the temptation to use the rod for conjuring of other materials, Alice had only made it accept mixtures containing something roughly of the same elemental makeup as the soil sample. That part had taken forever to get right and by the end of the month of work on the control system, Alice had gained a good understanding of how a Record's Object Definition saw atoms.
    Last edited by jseah; 2018-11-26 at 10:52 AM.

  21. - Top - End - #111
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

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

    I don't have the mind to math tonight, hopefully I will fel up for it tomorrow.

    Edit: I did the math, and it shows that I did 14696 words this past week. Ad I am still behind.
    Last edited by Xiander; 2018-11-27 at 03:08 AM.

  22. - Top - End - #112
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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

    Status for November 19 to November 25!


    Lycunadari passes with one watercolour portrait, two pencil portraits, one pencil drawing, one therapy painting, and one city picture.

    jseah passes with 699 words for Hero's War, 90 words for AT x HP and 801 words for Inherited Memory Girl.

    Xiander passes with 14696 words of The Scepter of the Wizard king.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!



    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 307 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 146 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 125 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -



    -----

    Portraits are fun! Here is one. And two more. And one other drawing, and a city picture. I also did one painting for therapy which I'm not going to upload.
    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!

  23. - Top - End - #113
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Almost went to sleep and forgot...

    1288 words for Inherited Memory Girl side story
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    She had to disable Database before it drove more people insane. Every moment she wasted, the worse the world was going to look like.
    But to do that, you had to be a System Administrator, a permission level that approved modules for widespread use. Davor was a System Administrator as well as a Knowledge Database Administrator. Petra had expected to gain a similar permission level once Skill Share had been launched and proved successful. But that hadn't happened yet and was impossible now.
    Two hours were spent where Petra had dug into the internals of how her test server's privileges worked. Her account had administrator privileges there but not on the public System. It functioned identically to the public System, just isolated from the wider area and only having a very limited list of accounts. If Petra could identify a weakness in her test server, the same exploit should work on the public System too...
    Petra frowned as she considered the handoff protocol for the Skill Share test server.
    When transferring her activity between the servers, the handoff told the public System which access level the account was. It was part of the code that allowed Petra to stay logged in seamlessly if she just left the Skill Share test server zone without swapping over to the overlapping public System first. What if... she just told the public System she was an Administrator?
    ... Surely that couldn't work? Right?
    Petra wrote a quick and dirty patch to hack her account handoff to pretend to be a System Administrator and then invoked it. The System screen showed the handover procedure being accepted. She was back on the public System.
    Her account details page still showed her Developer access, so had it not worked? No, wait, the handoff only claimed she was an Administrator, but that would only apply to this login instance. She could create accounts in the public System if she really had Administrator privileges...

    <Create new account: test123; Account Type: Administrator>
    <Account created. Initial password: Yellow@201>

    Petra sighed and looked up at the orange evening sky. What a time to find a zero-day exploit in the System. Any module developer with administrator privileges over a test server could escalate themselves into total control over the public System.
    Admittedly, that wasn't much of an exploit. Not everyone could just get a test server. Last Petra heard, there were less than a thousand of those worldwide.
    Logging into the test account, she promoted her primary account to Administrator. And from there, granted herself the ability to make any change she wanted to the System.

    <Module Verification certificate>

    A huge scrolling list of approved and deployed public modules on the System network and their previous version numbers began to fill her screen.

    <Search: "Knowledge Database">
    <Search complete. 126 certifications live. 766 certificates expired. >
    <Certification --revoke "Knowledge Database" --versions: all>
    <Warning: This action will revoke certificates of all versions of the module "Knowledge Database"! To proceed, enter account password: *********
    Password accepted...
    Completed. >
    <Database version v192.168.180.141 certificate invalid, module disabled!>

    A window popped up as her own outdated Database module disabled itself.
    And just like that, Database had been wiped from the world unless some other Administrator reactivated it. It had taken three hours for Petra to undo the program but that was also three hours in which the sync would have been corrupting everyone's memories and personalities.

    Natalie looked out at the field of circular hatches. Her control room was situated in the middle of the base, fenced and cut off from the outside world save through a secure military line. The base itself was in a non-descript valley and shrouded from long range scanners, the Record over the installation had both stealth and active defence modes.
    Not to mention the automated anti-air defenses, radar and lidar sensors, and the minefield littered around the valley slopes. Everything ran off hardened hardware computer, with physical controls as backups, instead of ephemeral AR System substitutes. Her control room could be evacuated to a bunker far below the surface, not that it would help if the base was hit by the sort of attack that might be directed at it.
    It was close to the time when she would customarily eat her packed lunch when the communicator to the base crackled to life.
    "STRATCOM actual to SMBase14, prepare to receive instruction code. "
    Natalie dropped her fork and scrambled for the paper. Strategic command liked to keep the operators on their toes and this was probably another drill...
    "Alert Condition Red, order code: Sierra Beta Gamma Alpha Beta Beta Sierra; repeat: order code: Sierra Beta Gamma Alpha Beta Beta Sierra. Instructions end. "
    The receiver shut off with a buzz-click, leaving Natalie to stare at it. Strategic command usually stayed on the line afterwards to assess any issues that might arise. For them to just drop instructions and leave was unprecedented.
    She unlocked the red cabinet, the ones that supposedly contained the launch codes for use when the country was being targeted with a First Strike. The woman searched for the order cases marked with SB and then the sealed case with the command codes to be entered into the computer. She performed her duty with a calmness that belied the seriousness of the situation.
    Then again, every single time Natalie had pulled a command code from the red cabinet, it had been a drill. The computer would run diagnostics on the missiles, just like it was doing now. The hatches would report open and the launch sequence-
    With a whomp, the rows of hatches outside lifted their covers into the sky. All two hundred of them. That had never happened before.
    Before Natalie could properly process the sight, the chair she was instructed to sit in was whisked downwards into the armoured underground control bunker. Natalie didn't go with it, having shot up in surprise when the hatches began to open and the strategic missiles inside priming for launch.
    "Oh hell, is this really happening?" Natalie groaned. She eyed the emergency damage switch, that could abort launches if the operator saw damage to certain missile silos. Something that was quite probable.
    Natalie had thought that no one would have actually used these missiles, everyone knew that to use them would end the world as they knew it. But to have her orders come from the red cabinet, that meant that her country was under attack by either a strategic missile strike, and an overwhelming one at that, or something more esoteric. The Great People were always thinking up new things after all. The missiles in the launch cells bore little resemblance to Aine's original SuperGravity design.
    They were far deadlier.
    The ground rumbled under her feet as the first missile whooshed into the air on a column of distorted space, vanishing into the distance in a blink of an eye. The second was close on its heels but rocketed off into a different trajectory.
    A strategic balance of close to half a century had disappeared in less than ten minutes. Natalie idly wondered if she would still be alive in the next ten. If the base was hit by an opposing missile, she was grossly exposed by not being in the bunker. Though even the designers were skeptical of the bunker's safety if attacked by the new induced fusion warheads.
    Then again, maybe Natalie would prefer dying quickly to the missiles than face what the world was going to be like very soon.
    The silo was halfway through launching its complement of two hundred and thirty when a supergravity missile came screaming in from the west, contemptuously skipped through the close in air defenses and detonated. Natalie, the base and most of the valley vanished into a miniature sun.


    731 words for Inherited Memory Girl
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    Having to do this with trial and error was so inefficient Alice wanted to tear her hair out. Being unable to read back the runes in the Record was a major obstacle. She had had to change her rune sets and observe the results, and often the error was not obvious.
    Still, it was done now, and Alice had created five rods, with her family helping, to bury in their chosen area. It looked like her father's explanation of finding a partially unburied Pre-Collapse artifact had been accepted.
    Indeed, just as Alice had predicted, Lochar had called together all the villagers to explain what he had found about the artifact. To say the farming village was amazed would be an understatement.
    "I am sure by now that you are aware of the implications of this artifact. Every family will add the use of these artifacts to the daily weeding schedule. No one is allowed to miss the Consecration duty! And at the end of each day, these artifacts will be returned to me. "
    And so far it was going well! Lochar had of course found that the 'artifact' could conjure soil if a sample was placed in the holder at the top. The Record would switch to adjusting soil makeup if the tip was placed in soil up to the first ridge, except for the water content. Lochar obviously made the connection that Consecration and the massive tax would be unnecessary if they simply used the rods each day on a different section of field.
    They would test out the rod for a growing season before using it across the entire village the next year. With three hundred villagers using five rods, and needing to do it each day, left them with only a quarter hour each to perform the fertilization if they were all to expend their Potential by sundown.
    Hopefully by next year, they would be able to exploit the rods to their full potential.
    Judging from the reception, the promise of not needing to pay a Consecration tax was attractive enough that the villagers would try their best.

    In the next year that followed, Alice had barely anything to do. Without a goal to work towards, she had fallen back on investigating the other legacies of Petra.
    In this case, Skill Share.
    "Father, I would like to test out the Skill Share function," Alice said one day during breakfast.
    Her family looked at her blankly. Oh, right, it had been nearly two years since she revealed Petra's memories to her family. They might not have remembered.
    "If you remember the myth about Pre-Collapse? Where the God of Skills was stolen from?" Alice asked, getting nods all round. "I think the legend might refer to how Skill Share was stolen. "
    And wasn't that worth a laugh? Petra? A god? What ridiculousness. But it was easier to explain things that way.
    "Skill Share was what Petra was working on before the Collapse. It took years and the efforts of almost fifty people. What Petra intended to do was to allow people to share their knowledge with each other. Skill Share can copy knowledge from one person and give it to another," Alice said. "Essentially, reading the skills shown by Skill Analysis and teaching it very quickly to someone else. "
    "Do you mean that you can learn hunting and tracking instantly?" Her father asked, clearly skeptical.
    "I can try, it will take some time for me to work out how to use the interface. A few weeks?" Skill Share did not have time to be optimized into something user friendly after all, it had been completed and made stable, and that was the end of it before Petra had died. The interface, from what Alice had seen, was a command line. While Petra was more than familiar with System command lines, the disaster that resulted from Skill Share's misuse meant that Alice wanted to be absolutely sure she was performing the actions correctly.
    "Do you remember what happened when you said you would take six months to achieve a miracle?" her father chuckled, "but alright, go ahead. I can see how it will be useful if I didn't have to teach these lumps how to track. "
    He waved at her brothers who squawked indignantly. Alice grinned and nodded. A new thing to work on!

  24. - Top - End - #114
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

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

    13034 words for Scepter of the wizard king, meaning that I beat nano. Keeping my six year streak feels good :)

  25. - Top - End - #115
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    Lycunadari's Avatar

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

    Status for November 26 to December 2!


    Lycunadari passes with one watercolour portrait + background, four nature pictures and 606 words for New Life.

    jseah passes with 731 words for Inherited Memory Girl and 1288 words for Inherited Memory Girl side story.

    Xiander passes with 13034 words of The Scepter of the Wizard king.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!



    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 308 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 147 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 126 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -



    -----

    Another portrait, this time with a background! And four nature pictures, and 606 words for something with the working title New Life. Only about half of that is actually new, the rest is edited and translated.

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    Ze had known for sure for over a year. Ilya had come over and told hir, so ze had time to prepare, emotionally. A year was not enough time to prepare.
    In hir head, ze had known for many years. Ze had known it, feared it, every time Ilya told hir how much ze missed Lucyn, how ze hated to be separated from hir. But even years were not enough.
    In hir heart, ze had known for a long, long time. Ze had known it, felt it, the first time Ilya had cried in hir arms after Lucyn had left. But no time could ever be enough time to prepare for this.
    No time could ever be enough for Cyrael to prepare for Ilya leaving.

    Ilya would be leaving today.

    Three days ago had been Ciarany’s naming ceremony. Cyrael had seen Lucyn there, but had not spoken to hir. Ze felt slightly guilty about that – they were friends after all, even if they weren’t close anymore – but ze didn’t want Lucyn to notice how upset ze was. Lucyn could be very perceptive, even if ze had trouble reading people, ze would notice that something was up. And Cyrael couldn’t tell hir.
    So ze had quickly congratulated Ciarany and left.

    Today, Lucyn would be leaving for the last time. And Ilya would go with hir.

    There was a knock at the door. For a second, Cyrael considered pretending not to hear. Ze was not prepared to say good-bye.
    But then ze got up and opened the door. Ze was even less prepared to let Ilya go without saying good-bye.
    „Hey Cyrael“, Ilya said and smiled at hir. Ze was wearing clothes suitable for travelling, sturdy boots and a backpack. Prepared to leave Lirving, maybe for good.
    „Hello Ilya, come in! I made a cake, do you want a piece?“ It was a lie, and Cyrael’s voice was shaking. Ze had never been good at lying. But still hoped, foolishly, that Ilya would stay at least a little longer.
    „Sorry, I’ll have to leave soon so I can still catch up to Lucyn.“
    „So you really want to go? You didn’t change your mind?“
    Foolish hopes.
    „Cyrael, you know I have to go, Lucyn needs me. I can’t let hir go alone – and I don’t want to.“
    Words failed hir. What about me? Cyrael wanted to say, I need you, too? Don’t you care about me, too? But ze stayed silent.
    Ilya took Cyrael’s hand and kissed hir finger tips. „I know this is hard for you… I wish things were different. But I have to go. I know you understand –*you’ve always understood.“
    No, I don’t! I don’t want to understand, I just want you to stay!
    Ze nodded.
    „You’re not angry at me, are you? I’ll write, always, I promise. And… please don’t be angry at Lucyn, either. Ze doesn’t even know that I’ll go with hir.“
    How could I be angry at you? How could I be angry at Lucyn? Angry for making you happy, happy like I couldn’t for years? Even though you’d never admit it.
    Ze shook hir head and even managed to force a smile. Just the words still didn’t come.
    Ilya knew that talking was sometimes hard for Cyrael. Ze hugged hir fiercely.
    „Thank you, Cyrael.“ Ze pulled hir down into a kiss. „I love you.“
    Then Ilya left, and Cyrael felt something break deep inside of hir as ze watched hir partner walk away.
    Ilya looked back once, waved, then ze was gone.
    „I love you“, Cyrael whispered. Tears were running down hir face. „I love you, too.“



    Quote Originally Posted by Xiander View Post
    13034 words for Scepter of the wizard king, meaning that I beat nano. Keeping my six year streak feels good :)
    Wow, congratulations! Well done!
    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!

  26. - Top - End - #116
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Lycunadari View Post
    Wow, congratulations! Well done!
    Thank you

    Pretty proud, not gonna lie.

  27. - Top - End - #117
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    1675 for Inherited Memory Girl

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    Skill Share took only a week before Alice was confident enough to copy skills. By the second week, she had saved a macro that, using her System Administrator access, grant a target person a Citizen account, install Skill Share as a module, and copy whichever skill names Alice wanted to specify.
    Said skills would be copied to herself by default, but she could also pipe the data into another person. Afterwards, all the temporary Citizen accounts would be removed. Best not to give System permissions to her family, who did not know how to hide it. Perhaps she should teach them how to use the System properly?
    The problem came when Alice copied her father's tracking skill onto herself while both of them were sleeping.
    "Ugh," Alice held her head as she woke up. That was a weird dream, stalking Foet through the village and seeing tracks everywhere. Evidently, Skill Share while sleeping resulted in strange dreams.
    "Alice, get your blowpipes and let's go see how well you track now," her father said through the doorway to the childrens' room.
    They had scheduled one of the hunts where Alice would be taught how to track just after the Skill Share test, only her father was going to let Alice do all the work. Alice herself wasn't good enough to be a hunter at all, the few pointers she had picked up over the three years of lessons wasn't enough to compare to her father's lifetime experience.
    "And you still can't track," her father observed. Alice was hunting through the bushes. She had spotted a rabbit's trail earlier and she had a niggling feeling that she was missing something under this bush.
    It was like having the name you had forgotten right on the tip of your tongue, Alice had to work to 'remember' details about how to track rabbits. Here was how they dug and there was a spoor left behind. Right, so the rabbit had followed the edge of the animal trail.
    Alice nodded to herself and proceeded down the trail.
    It was a long few hours before she managed to find the rabbit's nest under a tree.
    "I take it back, you actually can track now. " Did her father sound impressed? He did!
    Alice grinned, "it's almost like remembering how to do something you haven't done in a long time. The knowledge is there, but you need to make connections to what you already know and what you're seeing. The next trail will be much faster, you'll see!"
    And indeed it was. The knowledge had transferred, along with all the associations and specialized language that the language blessing didn't cover, but it did not come with the complete set of instincts and habits other than the knowledge that those actions should be done. As Alice continued on hunting lessons over the week, she was 'recalling' more and more of the borrowed skill, turning her father's knowledge into her own.
    A short period of time to integrate the knowledge was required, but 'learning' to track to an expert level within a single week was stupendously fast. Muscle memory could be gained in one or two revisions of the relevant activity, but converting instant knowledge into full fledged instinctual movements took some time. Still far faster than any actual training.
    So of course, two months later, her mother, brothers and Ri were all expert trackers and farmers. Her father could cook as well as her mother. The children could repair the house and sew clothing just as well as their parents, though limited by their lower strength, which Skill Share did not fix.
    The house never looked so new.
    With that done, Alice returned her attention towards refining her runes. She needed both more power and a better way to make runes than drawing with charcoal.

    Foet stomped over to the house. Alice hadn't played with her for half a month! That was almost forever!
    Despite fooling around with her weird self-made language, Alice had made time to play with Foet. They had explored the hills, safe from wild animals with Foet's fireballs, and surveyed the farmland. It had been so much fun! But then ever since Alice's father found that artifact, Alice had said she was too busy to play.
    And now in the last few days, Alice and her sister were running all over their house fixing things or going into the forest on hunting trips. They should be playing with Foet! Foet didn't get days off from her sorcery training all the time, not even every week.
    But with Alice being even busier then before, how would she ever find the time for Foet?
    Foet squared her shoulders and strode up to Alice's family house. No, she would make the time or Foet would order her to do so. She had permission from her father to get them out of work.
    She was about to push the door open when there was a shout from above. "Foet?" A familiar and rather welcome voice greeted her.
    Alice was on the roof, holding a stack of baked clay tiles. She was sitting at the edge of an unroofed area, with Ri on the other side. They were re-roofing their house. Weren't they fixing a wall just yesterday?
    "I have come to play!" Foet announced.
    The two sisters just blinked down at her. They just didn't understand.
    "Come down here and play!" Foet repeated herself.
    Alice glanced at her sister then at the remaining roof area. "How about you come up here?" Alice said eventually, "you can see most of the village from the roof!"
    Oh, that was a good idea! Foet scrambled up the ladder leaning against the side of the house, possibly the same one Alice had used to get to the roof.
    Indeed, the roof was so high! Foet could see so far! The fields rolled out below her, the slight slope down to the village center, where most of the larger families had their houses, kept Foet's sight open. The main crop of the year was barely peeking out of the soil, leaving the dirt paths easily distinguishable from the tilled fields.
    "Where are your brothers?" Foet asked, once she had her fill of the scene. Alice paused in her tiling.
    "They're helping father today. The field should be somewhere down there," she waved vaguely in the direction of some far off figures. "They're doing weeding. "
    Hm... Foet turned back to watch Alice and Ri place tiles. Take a tile, smear the glue on the bottom then snap it down onto the wooden roof boards. Repeat. That was so easy! No wonder Alice and Ri were doing it. Foet had thought repairing houses was adult work but obviously even children could do it.
    "Do you want to learn how to tile a roof?" Alice asked, catching Foet staring.
    Hmph! That looked easy enough. "I don't need you to teach me, I can do it too!" she said, grabbing a tile.
    A few minutes later, Foet was glaring at the uncooperative tiles. They refused to line up to the markings, looking all crooked. The line of tiles she was laying did not even meet up with the ones on the other end of the row where Ri was working.
    That would have wasted a good amount of Alice's time if not for the fact that Foet's tiles weren't even sticking to the roof. Alice had popped them right off with a yank and reset them behind Foet.
    "You want to keep two fingers on the line here, like this," Alice showed Foet, after yet another failure, "push the tile up against your fingers and it'll line up. And you have to push down a little on the tile to make the glue stick properly. "
    So that was how Alice made it look so easy! Foet placed a tile, correctly this time, and beamed when Alice nodded at her effort.
    "Just a few more rows and we can go play, alright, Foet?"
    Foet nodded as she set to filling in the roof. It was good to have Alice playing with her again.

    The room at the top of the four storey Shining Tower was well decorated, filled with lavish carpets and paintings that depicted the greatest military victories of the Elemental Empire. None of it was truly exotic, no silks from far off lands or artifact shields serving as display pieces, but the understated wealth was there.
    Chesther frowned as she read the report from her estranged younger cousin. Lochar was unimaginative and not particularly important to her family, but his exile still grated on her. Those other Families of Fire had wanted to chastise her mother's mistake and he was the sacrifice.
    Now he was writing to her about finding mysterious Alchemical Kingdom artifacts near his village. And he claimed that it would make Consecration unnecessary?
    She was tempted to write it off as preposterous. Except Lochar couldn't make this up to save his own life.
    Maybe Lochar had found something, but Chesther wouldn't believe her cousin could identify how a few undecorated rods worked. The Families had many artifacts from Pre-Collapse that no one knew how they worked, save that they were magical in some way. Artifacts were seldom complete, always obtuse and almost never worked perfectly, the ancient people had liked to rely a System that was far more active in their day to control their artifacts.
    If they were simple and obvious, the things wouldn't be called artifacts in the first place.
    No, let him have his delusions. Lochar was testing the artifacts after all. If he managed to get them to work and found them useful, Lochar's standing would be greatly improved. He might even be allowed to keep one of them.
    One more ally in this city couldn't hurt.

  28. - Top - End - #118
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

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

    1557 words on a new story about using stickers to have magic duels.

    Spoiler: Sticker Magic, part one
    Show
    Ryder shrugged out of his coat and draped it over one arm. The coat was wet from the rain outside, but for the next hour or two, Ryder figured he was safe from getting any wetter.
    In an akward one handed motion, he took off his glasses dried them on his shirt and put them back on. His vision thus mostly restored, he looked around his home away from home.
    The back room of Frank’s Bar smelled of smoke and cheap liqour. It was still early in the evening, so there wasn’t a lot of guests back here yet. The front room had been pretty lively already, but then the front room was for anyone.
    The back room catered to a more eclectic crowd.
    There was several booths arranged along the walls on three sides of the room, while the floor in the middle of the room had been left open. On the open floor a big circle had been painted in red, with two smaller circles just touching its peripheri on opposite sides.
    Ryder glanced at the dueling circle, it was empty now, but the night was still young. Not wanting to linger at the entrance, he then looked around at the booths, taking in the patrons in attendance this evening.
    Only three of the booth’s were taken for now, though five more of them had signs denoting them as reserved. With Seven booths already taken or reserved, it seemed there would be a show tonight. Just as well that Ryder had gotten here early.
    “Hey four eyes!” A woman’s voice called at him. “Are you just gonna stand around all evening? Or are you gonna join us?”
    He found the origin of the voice in the booth straight across the room. There were three people sitting there, he knew all of them. His gang had shown up even earlier than he had. He cracked a smile as he approached them.
    Tiger returned his smile, reclining lazily on one side of the booth. Her hair was short and had forced into a forest of small spikes by the generous aplication of wax.
    He face was as slim as the rest of her, clever taking in Ryder as he stepped up to the booth. She wore all white clothing, somehow managing to avoid staining them. It was some sort of black magic.
    On the other side of the booth Jade and Worth sat. Those two were an odd pair. Jade was small, darkhaired and soft spoken. She never said anything without thinking it through twice.
    Worth was the size of a garbagetruck with a voice wich could probably drown out a rock concert. Tonight he was wearing a t-shirt with some kind of math joke on it in red text. It was a random assortment of numbers letters and symbols, followed by a claim that it was delicious. Ryder didn’t really get Worth’s shirt jokes, but the guy was friendly enough.
    Tiger had been the one to call out to Ryder, no one else called him four eyes. She was like that with everyone, the day Tiger showed an ounce of undue respect, Ryder would know the end of the world had come.
    “Welcome to the party buddy.” Worth boomed and gestured for him to sit.
    “We already ordered some food.” Tiger said as Ryder took the seat next to her. “I took the liberty of odering the usual for you.”
    “You are a true hero.” Ryder said, setting down his jacket next to him. He turned back towards his friends and caught a feeling of excitement, not sure what had prompted it, he decided to just ask them. “What’s new people?”
    Hed been out of the loop for a week. He hated crunchtime at work, but then again a man had to make a living.
    “You don’t know?” Jade was playing with a piece of paper, long manicured nails runing over it, as she folded and refolded it over and ovver again.
    “That’s why i ask.” Ryder said, curiousity getting ahold of him. Jade wasn’t normally the one to take point, if this had her exited enough to make outbursts it had to be good.
    “Point of order.” Tiger said with a wicked grin. They all looked at her, and she obviously loved the attention. “Tradition dictates, that we show the goods before we share news.”
    Worth groaned, and even Jade looked a little annoyed. Tiger beamed at them. Ryder wasn’t sure what had them all so excited, but he expected he would find out soon enough.
    So instead of prodding, he lifted his shoulder bag onto the table and took out his trading folder. The other three produced their own folders without speaking a word.
    There was an odd sense of reverence, of ritual to it. They had been meeting for just over a year. They always started out showing off their new tresures and offering each other trades, then went on to discussing current events.
    Next to him, tiger slapped her white folder onto the table and opened it onto the first page. Ninecolourful stickers, each in their own sepparate plastic sleeve were revealed.
    “Wow!” Worth said, almost reverently. “Tiger has been busy.”
    “You found nine new stickers since last time?” Jade’s voice was sceptical, but Ryder could see the respect in her eyes.
    The stickers were hard to come by, and most people who had them didn’t want to part with them. It made sense to Ryder, even though his collection was sporadic at best, he loved every damn sticker in it.
    “Eleven.” Tiger smiled ferociously as she flipped the page to reveal three more new stickers. “Bringing my collection up to fifty again.”
    “Damn!” Worth forgot to use his idoor voice, and drew stares from the few other guests assembled in Frank’s backroom. “How do you do that Tiger?”
    “I can’t help it.” Tiger smirked. “I’m amazing.”
    Worth and Ryder laughed at that, even Jade smiled. Tiger’s enormous ego was part of what made it fun to hang with her.
    She was also amazing at finding good trades, meaning that they all had an opportunity to trade her for some pretty rare stickers every now and then.
    Curious, Ryder leaned in to take a closer look at her newest additions, Tiger flipped back to the first page, showing off the full suite of stickers.
    On the stickers were detailed pictures of creatures or structures, all done with the attention to detail of a true master artist.
    The first couple of stickers weren’t all that special. Smallish elemental creatures, the kind you saw a lot of copies of floating around. Not that they weren’t cool, but everyone knew that the rarer a sticker the more powerful it was. The Earth Crab in the first protective seelve was common enough that it was the sticker a lot of kids started their collection with.
    Ryder skipped past the elementals, curious to see what else Tiger had dredged up. Halfway down the page he found a couple of celestrials. The two first of them were fairly common stickers two, but the third was an Archer, one of the stickers Ryder had been looking for.
    “Dibs.” He said tapping the sticker with one finger.
    “Aww maaan.” Worth sighed. “You got there before me.”
    “Sorry big guy.” Tiger grinned. “According to the codes, Ryder gets to make the first offer for that one.”
    The codes weren’t really an official rule set. It was just the way they did things in their group. Tiger upheld the loose rules ferouciously. Probably mostly because she had been the one to come up with them.
    Whenever someone showed off new stickers, everyone else could call dibs once. The dibs caller would then get to offer a trade for the dibsed sticker before anyone else. The owner of the dibsed sticker could take or leave the deal, but no one else could make an offer before the dibs offer had been accepted or declined.
    “He jumped the gun.” Jade said softly.
    “What?” Worth half turned and looked at the tiny dark haired girl.
    “Tiger always arranges her new finds common to rare.” Jade explained as if it was completely obvious. “The best picks are going to be on page two.”
    “Way to spoil the reveal Jade.” There was mock indignation in Tiger’s voice, but she was still grinning like a cat in a cream factory.
    With a flick of her wrist, she turned the page. Showing off the three last of the eleven new stickers. They were indeed rare stickers.
    A Demonic Eel and spirit wolf took up the first two spots. Ryder had seen both designs before, but only one time each.
    He looked at the last sticker, and his jaw dropped. On the other side of the booth Worth let out a soft curse, and Jade made a cooing sound.
    The sticker depicted a unicorn, raised on its hind legs. It was pearly white, except for the mane, which shimered and changed color as the light hit it.
    “You found a damn dream creature?” Ryder managed to ask. “Did you sell your car to afford this?”
    “I sold something.” Tiger winked at him, a mischivious smile indicating what that something might be.
    He felt his cheeks redden, she would always make comments like that and it always made him slightly nervous.

  29. - Top - End - #119
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

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

    Status for December 3 to December 9!


    Lycunadari passes with one watercolour landscape painting, one pencil drawing, and five pages of anatomy practise.

    jseah passes with 1675 words for Inherited Memory Girl.

    Xiander passes with 1557 words of Sticker Magic.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and Xiander PASS this round!


    Current standing:
    Spoiler
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 309 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 148 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    Xiander
    Current run: 127 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -


    -----

    I don't have access to my scanner atm, so you'll have to trust me that I actually did anything this week.
    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!

  30. - Top - End - #120
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    709 words for Hero's War

    Spoiler
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    Cato sighed as Landar sulked in the corner of the carriage. As she had done for the last day. Ever since they left the Iris Clan, in fact.
    He glanced up at her only to notice Landar looking away with a huff. Clearly she was not very happy with him.
    "Are you angry that I was agreeing with your father's proposals?" Cato guessed.
    Landar just remained silent.
    All Cato could do was continue. "I was trying to fix your relationship with your family. Maybe I went too far in trying but it seems to me that your father and you do not have to be estranged. "
    "I'm not angry about that-" Landar halted as she realized she had broken her silent sulk.
    She took a minute to compose her thoughts before continuing, "it's not even that you didn't talk to me before agreeing to go with the expedition. Yeah, I don't like that you didn't ask but I know better than most people that the Iris Clan is too influential to ignore. I'm just not happy that we have to do something just to pander to those close minded families!"
    So it was an emotional problem then? Cato could think of no way to help her with that. As an outsider to the Iris Clan issues and Landar's specifically, Cato had a rare third person view of the situation. While Cato identified the friction as one of cultural and values mismatch, Cato did not have any emotional stake in the environment Landar had grown up in.
    But Landar just sat in the corner looking miserable. No tears were falling, no flashes of anger or even the madness of one of Landar's moods. She was just morose and utterly lacking in her normal cheerfulness. A far cry from the absorbed focus when they were working together on the draft computer circuits, even if both Landars were just as silent.
    "Maybe you could try thinking of yourself as separate from the Clan?" Cato said eventually. "You work in a different city, doing different things. The Iris barely understand what we are doing and your father is reassured that your position is secure. So rather than the families imposing conditions on our engagement, we could regard it as us giving them a concession in order to maintain a good relationship. "
    Which was something that Cato and Landar had done in the various business dealings. Though none of those had any conditions as personal as an engagement, for the nobility here, marriages were inevitably part of the trade in favours. Landar effectively counted as nobility, and though she did not like that sort of calculation, she was used to it.
    "And if they try to push too much, we could just break it all off by declaring ourselves married. It's not like anyone outside the Clan would object and the Iris' opinions matter very little in the business circles we move in. Or perhaps our influence, backed by Minmay, could be used as levers. With the number of businesses that are friendly to us and their financial strength, we could... cause problems for the Clan. If we wanted to. "
    It might cost some political capital with Minmay and force both of them to truly participate in the political games of the aristocracy that they had so far stood apart from. But they could 'go to war' with the Iris, so to speak. Their company might not have the raw money that the Iris had, but they knew many people and had lots of allies who had enough money to affect the economy of the entire country.
    "So we can think of our relationship with the Iris as one of political entities, like that between the Ironworkers and Minmay, rather than one of an extended family. "
    "That's enough. " Cato's continued rambling was cut off by Landar as she quirked her lips into a small smile.
    Cato had no idea why she was feeling better now. But that was good. At least she was smiling again.
    Landar chuckled at his confusion and patted the seat next to her in the empty carriage. "Get over here and give me hug. "
    Cato did just that.


    845 words for a still unnamed story (let's call it magic book for now)
    Spoiler
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    "I submitted a request to swap for another day. Can you stand? I want to ask you something. In our room. "
    She must have found something about the book then. Maybe she thought of a good wish? I think that would be good. There's no point to staying in the tennis court, I can recover just as well back in the dormitory. Sinna helps me pack and carry my tennis racquet and towel.
    As we head out, with me still a little unsteady, David comes back with a cold drink. "Oh, you're leaving already? I suppose the hot tennis court can't be good for you to recover from a concussion. Here, it's not good enough to be a proper apology but please accept it. "
    He holds out the unopened can of sports drink. The half-drunk one would be better... No! I chase the thought out of my head and into my face. If I can think about that, I'm more than fine already. Still, I murmur a thank you and accept the can. What am I doing, acting like some kind of... well, I am a schoolgirl, I can perfectly well act like one.
    "Take care then. If you need anything, you can always ask me. " He watches me with a concerned look as we leave. I can feel the heat radiating from my face, and I'm sure Sinna has already noticed my unusual silence. Strange that she isn't saying anything about it.

    I sit down on Sinna's bed, massaging the last of my headache away. Ah, that was painful, I must have got a concussion. Guess I won't get much work done today. Still, what's with David today? He was far too playful in today's practice for a national team player.
    As I slide down the side of the bed, taking advantage of my injury to be lazy, Sinna comes out from the bathroom. I can hear the tap running. "So, what do you think of David? He seems to be a good match for you. "
    ?! I sit bolt upright and groan as the headache returns for a second, "What... what are you talking about? He's way out of my league. It's impossible I tell you. "
    She raises her eyebrows, "So you don't mind him but you've considered him too good for you?" Sinna mutters something to herself and grins. That's very suspicious. Besides, Sinna has never talked about anyone besides her family without sounding nervous.
    I hold out a hand to stop her, "Wait a moment, you're being very suspicious here. You aren't as afraid of David as you normally would be. "
    "Ah, that's because he isn't scary. "
    Well, that's true. He is a kind person after all, which makes him all the more popular. His face might also have played a part... no, Alice, don't get distracted. How would Sinna know that he's not scary? She barely knows anything about anyone beyond me and her family. The only reason she could have is if she knew beforehand. Wait... I have a very bad feeling about this.
    "This doesn't have anything to do with the book... does it?"
    The look on her face tells me all I need to know and I pounce on the book lying on her table. The last wish... I wish Alice to have an exciting high school romance. Ah, she really did it. Exciting high school romance, that phrase is already making my cheeks burn.
    The look on her face tells me all I need to know and I pounce on the book lying on her table. The last wish... I wish Alice to have an exciting high school romance. Ah, she really did it. Exciting high school romance, that phrase is already making my cheeks burn.
    "You.... really. So the reason why... those coincidences... ah!" Gah, I can't even make a coherent sentence. So David acting like this today isn't what would happen normally. Whew, at least I haven't gone absolutely crazy.
    Calm down, take a breath, then continue. Think of it as putting the ball back in her court. "Sinna, why this? I mean, we agreed to discuss before making a wish that would affect other people right?"
    She looks closely at me before replying, "Well, since it works off coincidences, I thought this one should be fine. "
    "You should have at least asked me first! I mean, this is like toying with my feelings. I didn't think you could do that. " I try to put on the most accusatory tone I can, not quite managing to do it properly.
    Sinna blinks for a bit and hands me a pen, "Ok, you can always reverse it. No harm done. "
    "You made the wish, you reverse it. " I complain petulantly. Hmph!
    "What?" she frowns and examines my face again, "Eh? But since it involves you, I can't possibly reverse the wish for you. You just said that. "

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