The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #151
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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

    Status for March 11 to March 17!


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    jseah passes with 2074 words for Hero's War.


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    Lycunadari
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    -----

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Status for March 18 to March 14!


    Lycunadari passes with 8 forest photos and one sunset photo.

    jseah passes with 1964 words for Hero's War.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Status for March 25 to March 31!


    Lycunadari passes with 8 flower photos.

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


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



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



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

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

    Stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Status for April 1 to April 7!


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    I love herbs <3
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    "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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  8. - Top - End - #158
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Let's not forget to post, mm?

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

  9. - Top - End - #159
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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    Status for April 8 to April 14!


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    Day trip pics!
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    "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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  10. - Top - End - #160
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Jun 2009

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

    Yeek! Nearly forget once and you start to forget more...

    1582 for Inherited Memory Girl

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    Kara was one of the few Fingers who actually had a brain among this bunch.
    When she had detected weak magic in one of the collapsed houses, the other meatheads might have thought an enemy still lived and pounded the position until nothing moved. Instead, she a single combat slave to investigate and after the subsequent weak fireball burnt him to ashes, she was rewarded.
    It was Lochar's little girl and a little earth sorcerer. The little girl's earth magic was the reason for the pair's survival, the fallen log wall had been propped up with a crude earth wall, but that had tied up all of the illicit sorcerer's magic and rendered her too exhausted to move. Lochar's daughter still had her fire of course but she wasn't even worthy of a Finger yet.
    It had taken no more than a simple shield of rock before the fiery girl ran out of magic too and Kara could pin her down safely. The screaming kid had to have her hands encased in rock to prevent any surprises.
    "Get collars on them," she commanded the slaves. Two sorcerer slaves? And children at that? They would easily pay for the cost of the trip out here.
    The combat slave carrying the collars squeezed his way into the space to snap the collars around them. The weak magic Kara felt disappeared immediately except what she could detect from the collars. That led to Kara hurriedly propping up the falling wall as the earth girl's magic stopped reinforcing the earth that held it up.
    Kara breathed out a sigh of relief. It would be really disappointing if she went to the trouble of getting these slaves only to have them crushed. Why, she would be the laughingstock of the band for months!
    She glared at the combat slaves looking at her, "what are you waiting for? Get them out of there!"
    That was one of the problems with slaves, no initiative, the lot of them. After all, they were rewarded for obeying and wouldn't do anything without orders, even if said orders could be quite broad. But this expedition had been put together in a hurry and there were only slaves and sorcerers here.
    The two new slaves were dug out of their makeshift shelter and draped over the biggest male slave under Kara. She turned to go.
    There was a familiar crack and the head of slave she set on watch exploded. The metal collar he was wearing glinted as it flipped into the air.
    As bits of blood and bone landed around them, the metallic ting of the slave's collar bouncing rang out into stunned silence.
    Kara hit the ground almost at the same time as the falling collar. She knew the sound of a stone bullet spell and glanced around for the shooter. Had one of the other Fingers decide to kill her for some reason?
    No, as the slaves milled around in confusion, Kara spotted the head of a girl sticking out above the waist high wheat at the edge of the planted fields, right next to the border of the forest. Another earth sorcerer?! One that could cast actually dangerous attacks?
    "Kill her!" Kara commanded the slaves. She saw them charge out into the fields and cursed herself at giving too broad an order. The man carrying her prizes was charging off with them! Kara snarled and held out a hand, ready to shoot back. She could always countermand the slave after she killed the attacker.
    Wait, what was that long metal tube the girl was pointing at her-

    Foet groaned to herself as she bounced on the big man's shoulder.
    The collar was heavy and her head hurt from throwing fireballs at the evil woman and she was so tired, but she had enough awareness to know they were heading off into the forest.
    For what or why, Foet was too preoccupied with her own hurts to wonder. The man holding her and Ri over his shoulders grunted as they crashed through the thick undergrowth and Foet had to shield herself from leaves and low branches.
    There were ear-splitting cracks and screams and terrible noises all around, and after the panic of the initial bombardment and the numb horror of the ruins of her home village, all she could do was cry.
    More shouts and cries passed her by, the man underneath her grunting with greater exertion as he plunged through a gentle slope, and was still carrying her!
    Their carrier tumbled to a halt after a particularly loud crack, sending Foet hurtling straight into a bush. She spat out soil and leaves, crying miserably at fresh bruises.
    It wasn't often that Foet thought of her mother, as her father took his wife for granted and his daughter copied him, but the little girl who wasn't trying to be a fire sorcerer to impress her father remembered gentle touches and soft words when her father was away. Even the occasional head pat.
    Foet wanted nothing more than her mother now.
    There was a soft rustling of leaves behind her and a familiar voice.
    "Foet?"
    She curled up into a ball of private misery, but the voice, hesitant and unsure, came back.
    "There, there?"
    The gentle hand that brushed away the broken twigs in her hair was too much for the little girl and she burst into relieved tears.

    Alice patted Foet's hair as girl clung to her and sobbed. Fortunately, she hadn't seen any blood outside of a few bad scrapes. The collar worried her but it didn't seem to be doing anything yet, so Alice dragged Lochar's daughter up to go find her sister. Ri had landed in a bush nearby as well.
    In the forest, Alice had been able to put her child size and hunting skills to lose the soldiers sent after her. Though why the soldier carrying Ri and Foet had come along, Alice didn't know, that was a good stroke of luck.
    She had been planning to lie low, despite the destruction. Alice didn't know what she was thinking firing at a clearly military force filled with sorcerers.
    But Alice recalled the cold fury that filled her when she saw her sister and friend being carried out of her fallen house.
    Petra had never killed even an animale in her long life and while Alice was far more used to blood and violence in her hunting, she hadn't fought humans before either. Still, she could recall every motion of her hands, every cloud in the sky and burning house in her village. Her mind empty of everything but the will to kill every last one of them.
    She recalled shooting and reloading with a methodical precision that outdid her best practice shots.
    One to the woman with the bow. One to the woman sorcerer who was giving commands. The sprays of bright red blood as their heads exploded. Then she shot them one at a time as they approached and she retreated into the forest. The canopy was deep and the undergrowth was lush, courtesy of the two Consecrations.
    Alice knew the forest just like her father, where the slopes with the bad footing was, where their animal traps had been set up to catch stray feet. Where she could hide in the bushes to kill some more. It hadn't taken long for Alice to lead the four surviving soldiers into traps for bigger game and cripple them or just find an opportunity to shoot.
    But her kinetic launcher was not quiet and by now the rest of the soldiers would be after them. And Alice had only a handful of shots remaining, certainly not enough to fight off the entire band of enemies.
    She shook Foet's shoulder, trying to dislodge the crying girl. Foet just sobbed harder.
    "Come on, we're not out of it yet," Alice said, "we still have to get Ri and more of them will be after us. "
    At the mention of Ri's name, Foet finally managed to pull herself together, sniffling and wiping at her eyes. Alice tried to nod reassuringly before turning to find her sister in the bushes.
    As it turned out, the fall had woken Ri up and she also needed precious moments to be comforted before they could move.
    "Sis," Ri complained once Alice tried to get her moving, "my arm. It's painful. "
    Alice looked at the bruised and deep scrapes. The splinters of wood stuck through her sister's skin bothered her but they could worry about infection after they were hidden.
    "Remember the gully near the river?" Alice asked. Ri had the same Skill Share in hunting as herself and theoretically knew the land just as well, though her sister had never taken to hunting despite that advantage.
    Still, they had played in that shallow cave before, more like an overhang, close to the bend in the river. It was hidden behind drooping branches of the slanted tree above and hard to spot if you didn't know it was there.
    Ri nodded.
    "Can you lead Foet there? Hide there and I will join you soon," Alice said.
    She got another acknowledgement from Ri and turned to Foet.
    "Where are you going?" Foet asked.
    Alice fingered the hilt of the hunting knife tied to her waist. "Just cleaning up. "

  11. - Top - End - #161
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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    Status for April 15 to April 21!


    Lycunadari passes with 9 castle and nature photos.

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    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

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    And another day trip! This time to the Chiemsee.
    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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  12. - Top - End - #162
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    5crownik007's Avatar

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

    How do I accept the challenge? Don't I need to be slapped with a glove or something?

    In seriousness, sign me up, I need more motivation!
    "You... little... *****. It's what my old man called me, it's like it was my name, and I proved him right, by killing all the wrong people. [And], I love ya Henry, and I'll never call you anything but your name, but you gotta decide; are you gonna lay there, swallow that blood in your mouth, or are you gonna stand up, spit it out, and go spill theirs?" - Unknown

  13. - Top - End - #163
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    You don't have to accept anywhere. Just start posting your piece!

    419 for Hero's War
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    While foisting the construction of the new government of Illastein onto Queen Amarante was possibly the best decision I could have made, I still feel bad about essentially stirring up trouble and then leaving the rubble behind for others to clean up. They could certainly use the name of the Hero to try to hold the country together.
    Queen Amarante might be a fairy tale princess too obsessed with legend and the past, but she at least has a good heart and I know she will not take advantage of the Illastein people. Much better than me waking up one day as dictator.
    On the other hand, the bloodiness of the revolution has had a silver lining. The clearing of old interests and the complete overturning of the economy has allowed your industrial aid to take root far faster than anywhere else. Despite the setbacks of the civil war, I fully expect Illastein to adopt an industrial method faster than the other countries. Quite a similar effect that your Chancellor achieved.
    I only wish it had not taken so much blood.
    The country Inath has been slower to adopt the industrial process than Minmay due to the opposition of the nobles. However, Queen Amarante is fully behind the empowerment of the common people and your suggestion of mentioning the needs of a middle class has mostly convinced her. She still does not like the prospect of industrial warfare, but I believe that the Queen is able to avert war among the human countries.

    In any case, the ruins of First Landing are now crawling with every sort of bounty hunter. News of the Legendary Sword has spread and everyone wants to be the one to find it despite the empty towers having been scoured clean through the ages.
    Amarante fully expects me to find the Sword. Her only reason why I should be the one is that I am the 'Hero' and therefore the Sword will be found by me. Ancient prophecies aside, I have no idea where to begin.
    Please send help.

    Morey,
    Ex-revolutionary, sometime hero


    Dear Morey,

    I hope this letter does not miss you on your way to First Landing.
    I am getting engaged to Landar, and part of the requirement for the Iris Clan's support is that I join the expedition to the North. For that reason, our communication may be delayed. If you have urgent requests, you may direct these, un-ciphered of course, to the University who are receiving my mail.


    1147 for Inherited Memory Girl
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    The two men who had merely been crippled by her father's traps were still there and still trying to free themselves. The shallow hole filled with barbs was hard to get out of, as Alice could testify from her efforts at trying to get her kills free from them. Alice wondered how they were still struggling.
    She had heard tales from her father about hunters who forgot where their own traps were. Alice was quite sure that the perpetual sleep they got stuck in for weeks was due to their civilian healing graft trying to fight off infection. Nevertheless, the pain should have been debilitating.
    The two men were in pain but were still struggling to free themselves. In fact, one of them had gotten out of the trap already and was working on the other. When Alice stepped into view, they both looked up at her.
    She gulped as the freed man started to hobble towards her. He couldn't even walk fast and was bleeding badly through the crude wrappings on his leg wound. There was no way he could catch Alice with his bronze short sword but despite that, he still came on.
    The strange crazed smile of anticipation and glee on his face was unnerving.
    Alice glanced down at the trapped man and took a step back involuntarily. That one had the same twisted desperate grin.
    Almost without thought, the kinetic launcher came up to her shoulder and barked its sharp cry. The grin on the face of the approaching man disappeared. Even while blood showered the trees and bushes, Alice felt herself grow lightheaded.
    The faces of the charging soldiers shimmered in her memory, the ones she had killed in a cold rage. The same grin was on their faces too. Only the Earth Alva woman had anything like a normal expression.
    The man trapped in the hole tried to pry at his leg faster. Alice shot his arms on reflex, blowing off both limbs and the trapped leg.
    This was no battle lust, no people driven to desperation through their circumstances. Not once had they tried to speak other than to signal to each other. None had asked for mercy, none of them had even tried to stop.
    And that grin was haunting her. Petra knew that grin.
    While the dying man bled all over the trap, Alice approached the collar. She brought out her new rune tool. She had to know.
    Placing one end against the collar, she saw the light at the end of her tool light up. It had a Record. Alice injected a tiny set of runes that would perform a useless calculation and proceed to loop until the potential of the collar ran out. Depending on how much potential the collar had, it could take up to a minute.
    Alice barely managed to scurry behind the nearest tree before the collar exploded and removed the last soldier's head. The sharp report was the worst sound she or Petra had ever heard. No easy freedom either.
    Alice had to handle her sister and friend very carefully. And whatever survivors from her village. And maybe her parents were dead or worse. And there were far more 'soldiers' under the command of that clan and possibly other clans.
    The depth of horror in her belly seemed to sink deeper and darker with every step. Her breakfast was left behind under a log, her knees wobbled and protested. But there were two new victims of this sick and twisted device and they were relying on Alice. She forced herself onwards to their hideout.
    This was the worst case scenario. Anathema. Atrocity. The very thought of having to learn how these things worked to free her family made Alice want to scrub herself raw.
    Those collars were Record corruption devices.

    The series of sharp cracks had of course attracted attention. Ryui had immediately recalled some of the searchers and led a small force to investigate.
    Too late as it turned out. All that was left on the ground and among the wheat was the headless bodies and splatters of blood.
    "What happened here?!" Ryui demanded, sending his subordinates scurrying around to find traces.
    Wu looked up from Kara's body, her head just as missing as the other bodies. The exploded heads looked like the sort of injuries a rock bullet spell would inflict.
    But if there was a hostile Earth sorcerer sneaking around, trying to steal the Consecration artifacts, then attacking a lone Finger was just giving away surprise. Or was there a bigger ambush waiting for Ryui?
    "I don't think this was done with rock bullets," Wu said.
    The squad leader looked at his second in surprise. "But these are clearly rock bullet wounds!" Ryui exclaimed.
    "With one shot to each person's head? There's no Palm or even Fist who can do that," Wu pointed out.
    "Toron of the Flash could do it," Ryui grumbled. But Wu just raised an eyebrow. If the Flash was here and opposing them, the Fist of Earth would just kill them all in the open. Not that there was any reason for one of the legendary Fists to be here.
    "No, I think this is a monster's work," Wu concluded. "I've seen similar wounds from riolas before. "
    "Riola beams set roofs and people on fire, not blow off heads!"
    "And I'm telling you I've seen it before. Before I married into the Tos, I was a Finger from Om and the monster domain we guarded would constantly spawn riolas. Yes, their common sweeping beam will set things on fire but those bird monsters can also fire all of the beam in a single instant. Instead of burning, you just explode.
    They don't do it very often, thank goodness. It's one of their nastier tricks and impossible to dodge. "
    Ryui looked at the line of bodies of the slave soldiers leading into the forest. Riolas couldn't fire quickly so to cause this many casualties, there must be quite a few of them. Kara must have sent her slave soldiers to chase the mosnters and then died before she could pull them back.
    Was Ryui to send more soldiers into the forest to retrieve the collars of Kara's command? Those collars were moderately expensive and losing them would eat into their reward.
    There was a loud bang in the distant forest, accompanied by a flight of birds. A short pause then another bang. The monsters were still there.
    "Leave the ones in the forest, we're not here to hunt monsters," Ryui commanded, "collect the collars from the dead and Kara's body. Get ready to leave, I want to be gone before those monsters come back for us!"
    At least making slaves of the few survivors would help offset the damage.

  14. - Top - End - #164
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Status for April 22 to April 28!


    Lycunadari passes with 8 nature photos.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 5crownik007 View Post
    How do I accept the challenge? Don't I need to be slapped with a glove or something?

    In seriousness, sign me up, I need more motivation!
    Welcome! Just post/link your stuff here or send me a PM with it and I'll add you to the status post when you first pass a week.

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    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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  15. - Top - End - #165
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    1615 for Hero's War

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    The room was spartan, lacking in all decoration. All the fittings were stainless metal or industrial concrete, the furniture plain but sturdy wood. Unlike the gathering rooms of major parties and larger alliances, the room held no trophies or letters of writ from times past. There was no boasting of wealth or experience here, only a calm efficiency.
    The Minmay Guard central planning room held maps. Maps of every country in the Federation, copies of maps of the monster lands beyond. Maps of cities, maps of smaller regions, and their copies. There were filing cabinets of reference reports, deemed of significant value either in information about enemies or about their weapons' performance. Accounts of important past battles. Assessments of threats and capabilities.
    The men and women in the room were the Minmay Guard's central staff. Veterans from past conflicts or retired leaders of parties that had been absorbed by the Guard. Their experience reflected this, stern and unyielding, or perhaps they were just mirroring the mood of Curasym, Leader of the Minmay Guard.
    "The new reports from the Northern expedition have arrived, I believe everyone has had time to review it. Today, we are focusing on the performance of our weapons, what worked and what did not. What aspects of the weapons can be improved and what new capabilities we need. "
    With that introduction, Curasym turned towards the first woman. Hino, the leader of the Minmay knights that had been reduced to peacekeeping and patrols, had been asked to review the mainstay of the army's weapons.
    "I will be reviewing the effectiveness of the Model 2, along with evaluating combat doctrine and suggested improvements. The Model 2, being the proposed improvement over the new model gun has performed satisfactorily in the field. The automatic reloading for ten shots has allowed wielders to fire faster and more accurately, something that the improvements in barrel and bullet precisions have helped as well. In its standard role, the Model 2 allows almost three times the firing speed along with twice the effective range at two hundred meters.
    The ability to customize the weapon slightly with attachments has allowed variants for different roles, the most prominent being trading off the automatic loading for a fully covered longer barrel with increased range and power.
    The initial adoption of individual squad tactics suggested by Cato had been hampered in the new model gun by its poor rate of fire as well as lack of range. In defensive battles, our Guards defaulted to massed fire behind trench works in order to deal significant damage. With the Model 2, I suggest we re-evaluate the feasibility of squads smaller than thirty due to their higher rate of fire.
    The reports of the encounters with these bone worms indicate that our guns are no more effective than force bolts. With that in mind, additional training to avoid panic firing and to volley fire force bolts.
    On areas for improvement.
    The pellet rounds should be removed. Despite the theoretical short range usefulness of a spray of small pellets, the Model 2 is almost never in a position to use it effectively. At short ranges, fire shell launching or bayonets are more powerful and easier to use. Removing this function should reduce the complexity of the spell forming stock and allow for a slightly reduced cost.
    Secondly, the fireshell launcher attachment has been well received but is reported to be awkward to use as well as inaccurate. A better way to launch fireshells or larger armour piercing bullets is required while still retaining portability. This would fill a gap in our capability between infantry weapons and spell cannons while not being as short ranged as flamers. "
    That such a weapon would be most beneficial to the knights who primarily worked in small teams that couldn't lug around a heavy weapon like a spell cannon was unstated but understood.
    "If Landar's rockets can be adapted to fire horizontally-"
    Curasym cut the man off before the review could be derailed, "Omal, suggestions for later. Your report on Landar's rockets?"
    Being one of the university's first alchemists, Omal had been working with Landar on her more sensitive projects. That missing hand of his might be an inconvenience in the lab but he made up for it with his keen mind.
    "Sorry. Yes, the rockets," the alchemist nodded and shuffled his notes, "the rockets performed satisfactorily, with an inaccuracy of about two hundred meters at a range of two kilometers. Which is a little worse than hoped despite the efforts put into making the rocket bodies. Still, the time fuses on the rockets worked well enough in the field, like in testing, and the airburst of living fire makes them more effective than even the best impact fuses. The saturation coverage of fire at the target leaves very little untouched by the fire, I am told.
    That and the ability to conduct extremely long range bombardment with a high volume of fire within a short time makes the rockets a powerful weapon that can break entire armies if used effectively.
    Cato has mentioned that larger, longer ranged rockets are quite feasible, and there exists a possibility of rockets correcting their paths while in flight as the aiming systems improve. It is clear that despite the success of Landar's rockets, there is room for improvement in almost every area. If the rockets could be made three centimeters larger, we could have gotten another kilometer of range with only ten percent more cost.
    Similarly, there is also a parallel to the recent findings of the Hero of past superweapons. Imagine if you will, a rocket a hundred times the size in every dimension, one that could deliver tons of living fire to any target within hundreds or thousands of kilometers. Now imagine these were launched in the same massed fire like we did in this field trial. Now that's a superweapon that can destroy entire cities from a whole country away. "
    "We're a little far off from making one of those," Curasym nodded, "thank you for your input however. "
    Despite the way that Landar's... pyromaniac proclivities rubbed off on her subordinates, the effectiveness of the rockets was not in question. The alchemist's perspective on the technical advantages was true but it neglected the primary assessment that Curasym had made. The weapon was the most expensive and the least cost effective in terms of money spent to destruction delivered. Its inaccuracy did not help matters either.
    But the weapon required very little manpower to use for its impact. The whole hundred rocket trial had taken one spotter on a balloon, maybe four soldiers on the ground to set the rockets up and one artillerist to calculate the range. Soldiers using rockets could deliver far more firepower than anything else, even spell cannons.
    For a industrially powerful and people short Minmay, this was a weapon that fit their circumstances.
    "We'll put that down as a successful field trial then. I expect the expedition wants more rockets?" Curasym asked.
    "They want more of everything, sir," said Willio, "bullets for guns and for spell cannons, more fireshells, more shields, more carts. You make the weapons, they'll find a use for it. "
    The Ironworker company leader had branched out into weapon manufacturing, one that he had been asked to lead due to his experience in large scale production with hazardous machinery. Steel manufactories were dangerous enough on a good day, ammunition manufactories that dealt with living fire by the tons was sometimes that Curasym was happy to leave in his hands.
    That missing tip of Willio's smallest finger on his left hand spoke of how dangerous those factories were. Despite stringent safety standards, the factory that filled the rocket and fireshell casings with living fire was isolated inside a hundred meter buffer zone of bare concrete. And a good thing too, that factory had burned down three times while getting the process right. Scaling up production from small workshops to feeding the ammunition use of an army of thousands of soldiers had been fraught with dangerous lessons.
    And that army had already shot away half their total ammunition just getting to and securing that ruin.
    "Speaking of spell cannons, Willio, what is your input on the suggested shot?" Curasym asked. "The larger model of spell cannons are sufficiently powerful. The shells were reasonably effective even against the worms that guns were not. Pure magic attacks remain just as magic power inefficient as ever. The current model of spell cannons is thus a useful weapon for destroying dense concentrations of enemies or armoured and fortified targets.
    However, the spell cannons are doing too many things. The spell cannons perform multiple roles, with mass target, hard targets and air targets all being what the spell cannon is supposed to kill. There is even a suggestion here to add a higher projectile velocity mode to the spell cannon at high angle to mimic rocket fire but in slower and more sustained bombardment.
    As they are now, the spell cannon can be described as the worst of all possibilities. In particular, the anti air role require an ability to track rapidly moving targets, something that ground targets don't do, and this limits the barrel weight and thus length and therefore the accuracy at range.


    "Alright, that concludes this weapon review meeting. We meet in two hours to discuss budget allocations," Curasym smiled faintly. Budget discussions were much more cutthroat and he was not looking forward to that phase of the performance review.
    He did not believe any of the other central staff liked it either but it had to be done.

  16. - Top - End - #166
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    1348 words.
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    A light pulsed against my shut eyelids, quickly brightening and then disappearing, repeatedly. I groaned, and tried to rub my head, but a light sound made me aware of my helmet. My eyes creaked open, and I saw that I was spinning. A current of air was passing by me, and below me was the open sky. I made a revolution every six seconds, and the blinding light of the sun would be visible for half of that. Panic did not take hold, but more of an icy grip of dread clawing my stomach. The feeling of my lunch crawling up from my stomach was not helped my the free fall.

    The splitting headache made itself known quite gradually, my focus faded quickly, and the dread made way for pain. I inhaled deeply and cleared my mind. Looking down at myself, my suit was charred and small chunks had been sheared off by shrapnel. I hefted my left forearm up to my visor and squinted at the burnt wrist computer. I put my arm down and reached for the right side of my head, clicking the long range radio on. Static filled my ears for the moment before I shut it off.

    The blue glow of the atmosphere had engulfed the stars above. The altimeter flickered on my heads up display. Six klicks. Fifty-seven hundred. Looking up, very distantly around me I saw reflective shine from pieces of debris. Fifty-five hundred. The atmospheric density rose and my velocity steadily fell. My limbs began to rise against the airflow and the ground approached. Fifty-two hundred.

    Using the air I slowed my spin and began to lie forward against the flow. The feeling of the air sliding past became stronger as my altitude fell. Less than one minute of free fall left. I reached for the blue tag on my left, and with a solid tug I felt my parachute pull from behind. For a minute longer I fell, approaching the silty grey surface of the planet. With the parachute controlling my descent, pieces of falling debris passed quickly and impacted with the ground, sending plumes of black silt into the air.

    The landing agitated bruises I didn’t know I had, and I rolled onto my side, dragging the parachute with me. Lying there for a few moments, I looked up to find the blue sky and exhaled. A lucid grief washed over me as I gazed around for my crewmates. Alone, I struggled to my feet against the gravity and looked closer. Charred pieces of metal rained down from above, landing beside me.

    Without support, alone, in a strange place. I collapsed against a large chunk of metal debris and cried out. My hope had evaporated under harsh temperature and shrapnel, leaving me an immovable white stone in a black silt desert. Long minutes and hours passed before I sat upright. I inhaled my precious air and opened my eyes. The instructors always told us one thing in training. Death is a choice that you make.

    It wasn’t literally true, but the meaning was very clear. I heaved myself to my feet, pushing against the significant gravity. Looking around the horizon burnt my confidence for survival, but a distant speck of a structure appeared in my vision. My steps began very unsteadily in the direction of the structure, but as I made my way, I became surer and faster.

    Sweat glued my plastic clothes against my skin and my breath sped up. Condensation fogged up against the faceplate as I ran. My footsteps sank deep into the black silt, collapsing back in as my boot lifted up again. The constricting pull of gravity sunk my entire body down into the choking black ground, breaking my breath, dragging my feet.

    A long, echoing roar shook the air and I dropped to my chest, looking for the source of the sound. A trail of red tracers flew up toward the sky, through the clouds. The tracers disappeared, but the sound of gunfire continued for several seconds. Sinking my gauntleted hands into the silt, I stood once more, remaking my pace toward what now looked like a settlement.

    The walk felt like it lasted forever. One foot ahead of the last. My gaze fell to my feet as my last energy was expended. Looking up, the blue sky had turned a deep blood red and the sun touched the horizon. Scarce metres away was the edge of the settlement, sparsely populated with people and hastily constructed structures. My breath caught for a moment as I saw tangled plates of rusting steel bolted to prefabricated plastic structures, all haphazardly knitted together with metal cable, an impenetrable monolith buzzing with people.

    Exits and entrances were choked with the bodies of thousands of people, travelling in and out of the settlement. In the center of it all was a precise, solid, concrete anchor, taller than any structure. At about its halfway point, the bramble of metal cables met, keeping all the structures tied against this pin stuck into the ground below. I had forgotten my tired body, and took light steps forward.

    Few people noticed me, and none took note. Despite my armour, charred military insignia, most people were too busy to try and intercept me. There was not time to investigate the stranger, there were life support systems to maintain, there was food to process, and no delay was acceptable.

    An armoured buggy slowly made its way around the edge of the settlement. It had three men, each wearing a tan clamshell armour carapace, masked with a respirator and gauss rifle slung over their shoulder. It took scarcely a second for them to see me, and the distant yell was unmistakable.
    “Karandan!”

    Death is a choice that you make. An immediate burst of suppressive fire kicked up silt from around my feet, and I made a dash for the crowd of people. I felt a few powerful kicks in my side as some of the distant gunfire made its way toward me and into my armour. The black char was chipped away, revealing the original pale white armour below. The fire stopped, I scrambled into the crowd, making myself one with the civilians.

    A mix of curses and exclamations filled the air as I cut through the densely travelled walkway into the settlement. I joined with the flow of civilians. Behind me, the buggy drifted through the silt, leaving a cloud behind itself. A loudspeaker squealed loudly, projecting the voice of an insurgent.
    “Civilians! Disperse immediately!”

    People made their best attempt to flee, but the cramped space only allowed so much leeway for people to move. I continued to be pushed along with the flow, deeper into the bramble of structures and projects. I managed to scramble into a maintenance space, jamming myself in between piping and insulated electrical cable. As quickly as possible, I shimmied further into the space. Distantly, the sound of the loudspeaker demanding surrender echoed under the red sky.

    Not paying attention, I stumbled out of the space into an alcove and fell onto my side. Scrambling, I put my back against the wall and curled my legs against my body. A deep sigh left a fog on my visor for a moment, and my head dropped, facing toward the ground. A voice startled me, and I quickly snapped my head up.
    “Three to one and without a gun. That’s some pretty bad odds.”
    A girl standing above on a rooftop was squatting with her arms crossed over her legs, looking down at me.
    “If I were you, I’d ditch the suit quickly.” She added.
    She dropped down into the shaded alcove. Her brown hair was tied in a low ponytail and her fair skin was darkened with stains of machine oil. It was difficult to tell her age behind the glass plate of the respirator mask, but she couldn’t have been older than twenty. She extended her hand down toward me and spoke in a hushed tone.
    “Come on, you don’t want to die.”
    I replied, “Not yet anyway.”


    One drawing.
    Spoiler: Karandan Army Infantry
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    Last edited by 5crownik007; 2019-05-13 at 04:43 AM.
    "You... little... *****. It's what my old man called me, it's like it was my name, and I proved him right, by killing all the wrong people. [And], I love ya Henry, and I'll never call you anything but your name, but you gotta decide; are you gonna lay there, swallow that blood in your mouth, or are you gonna stand up, spit it out, and go spill theirs?" - Unknown

  17. - Top - End - #167
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Status for April 29 to May 5!


    Lycunadari passes with 7 nature photos and one page of fairies.

    jseah passes with 1615 words for Hero's War.


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    Nature pics~ and some fairies. (There was one more picture but imgur ate it while uploading :/ )

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    "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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  18. - Top - End - #168
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    1206 words for Hero's War

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    The hopes of this expedition are to make contact with the people living to the north and hopefully, find the origin of the zombies. Amarante's more recent legends indicate the zombies first appeared before the Federation had been formed, somewhere north east from this ruin. Further past the river, there is a large and deep forest that the First and Tsar never fully colonized. The zombies came first out of the forest.
    I am not hopeful of the second of these objectives. There aren't any supplies and venturing into the wilderness and ruins amid the zombies is not a good prospect.
    The first however seems doable. The city itself has been estimated to have fallen no more than two years ago. The stonework and wood are relatively new and the damage has not yet had time to be weathered. I expect the peoples of this plain to have been driven westward by the zombies, with cities and towns falling one after another. Similar to how the Algami Plains to Ranra's east had fallen.
    Minmay and Fort Yang merely caught some of the wandering groups that had gotten lost or wandered south, until this city fell and Fort Yang lost its 'protection'. The recent surge is likely population that used to stay in this city or perhaps one further to the west.
    I wonder if contact could be peaceful, if us people could work together to fight back against the monsters. The army expects to be welcomed with open arms, having come in a mission to defend the people and move them south.
    I have doubts that it would be so easy.

    Cato
    Head of Minmay University, sometime adventurer

    "Easy enough to make in large quantities. A steel shell with copper or lead filling is strong enough for his purpose, powerful and cheap. We could probably make and ship a small stock in a week, with thousands more ready to go with the next reinforcement of spell cannons. I could make these from a standard ironworks floor, with less risk and greater output.
    More important, I think, is the living fire shells. These are considerably more complex and dangerous. Not to mention that the University are continuing Landar's experiments into fuses, shield breaking enchantments and other potential changes. Frankly, Cato's other suggestion of making explosive warheads with nitrocellulose, that we have yet to formulate, are going to be even more challenging.
    Living fire is bad enough, I'm not really comfortable with working with stockpiles of things that Cato's warnings say can shatter concrete with just a few handfuls. One mistake could wipe out the entire plant and kill hundreds. And mistakes always happen. If I were to build this, I'd not want it anywhere near Minmay. "
    It made sense to Curasym. Development had been advancing at a breakneck pace and the ironworkers' factories were pushing the boundaries of engineering every day. They were trying to stretch beyond what they could do, learning along the way, and that did not give anyone confidence with handling materials even more dangerous than the tricky living fire. At least those could be quenched with the compressed nitrogen tanks issued for fire safety. Explosives gave no time at all to react.
    The commander turned to Hino for the military analysis.

    I suggest that we divide the roles the spellcannons are expected to play and design them to fit. Anti-material, anti-swarm, artillery, anti-air. Smaller squad portable versions and heavier army weapons. It shouldn't be too hard, we already know how to do these things. Right, Willio?"
    The Ironworker wiggled his hands, "depends on how fast the University come with designs. And if the benefits of specialized weapons outweighs the simpler logistics and numbers. If you have ideas on what these specialized spell cannons need to do..."
    Glances went around the table as a certain realization dawned.
    Before this, the University had been leading in nearly every area of innovation. Ideas flowed outwards, born from the collaboration of knowledgeable specialists, sponsored by the Chancellor and other interests who hoped they got something useful. When the available space was large, and the researchers could go anywhere and do anything, this had worked. But it was poorly focused and did not always refine the ideas for specific purposes, especially those disconnected from the University's goals.
    The military had been given guns and spellcannons, and proceeded to use the weapons designed by people who had never actually fought and had only a vague grasp of tactics. Cato's world's history had been a guidepost but this was not ideal for getting the most militarily useful weapons.
    "Perhaps we have been doing things wrong," Willio said slowly, "how's this. We should create a list of requirements, a wishlist of the traits we want to see in our weapons. Envision the roles they will play in our forces and the tactics to use them. Then we put the challenge to the University who make the designs to fulfill the roles. Recruit a small number of the design groups from the University to think of more roles and weapons and tactics. "
    "Maybe even a research and training division. Who test new weapons, new ideas for the military. " Hino mused, only partially to herself.
    "That is a good idea, Willio, I shall propose this to the Chancellor," Curasym said. This meeting had been more productive than he had predicted.
    The men and women were lost in idle daydreams of what a dedicated military design group could do.

    The garrison left behind at Fort Yang was demoralized and discipline was poor. One could blame the sense that they had been abandoned, left behind while others went ahead to make history. Or the mostly fresh recruits were poorly disciplined and barely trained. Or perhaps they were just bored with doing nothing but training. Zombie attacks had trickled down to the stray group and the occasional lone nightcryer.
    All of these reasons were true, but the primary problem was the sheer emptiness of the Fort.
    Fort Yang had been the site of multiple attacks, some of the most ferocious battles against monsters and the greatest victories in Federation history. It's defenses reflected this history. As the battles had escalated and so too the defending forces and funding, the Fort had expanded from a stretch of low wall with the occasional tower into a sprawling network of trenches and wire, walls and strongpoints, minefields and kill zones. Behind the defensive lines lay barracks, repair workshops, underground supply storage and mana wells. It was practically a small town by itself, even if no civilians lived there.
    The strongest defensive structure in recent history, provided it was used.
    The garrison of a thousand trainee soldiers were barely enough to keep everything running while still manning the defences.
    Today however, that would change.
    The garrison commander, a promoted captain under Erin, had been expecting reinforcements from Ektal and when the messengers had come in, he discovered that the detailed report had been delayed by bad weather.
    It arrived barely a day before more than seven thousand new recruits marching up the route.
    Chaos was too light of a term for what resulted.


    530 words for an FKG fanfic
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    The commander walked through the headquarters building. The scene was both nostalgic and saddening at the same time. Where there once used to be a huge command and coordination staff, there was now empty rooms and rooms being emptied.
    "Danchou! Otsukare-sama!"
    He turned to find one of the Clovers saluting him awkwardly, balancing a cardboard box full of rolled up maps. Even they knew why he was here. Though with how the rest of the knight commanders had reacted, perhaps that wasn't so much of a surprise.
    Not that there were many left.
    He saluted back to the flower knight and continued on his way to the general's office.
    Knock knock.
    "Come in," said the general.
    The woman, a retired Edelweiss herself, looked up from her reports and sighed.
    "At ease. And take a seat," she gestured at the chair in front of her large desk. Even here the impact of the downsizing was felt. Where mountains of reports once overflowed without end, there was only a small stack. Mostly resignation letters.
    She looked at the paper in his hands and smiled wryly.
    "One more for the pile?" she asked.
    The commander shrugged, "it seems so. "
    "It doesn't have to be that way, you know?" the general said, "true, we're downsizing and ceasing exploration of new areas, but that doesn't mean you can't still have your post. There's a number of commanders staying on. "
    "We're just sticking to known patrol routes and not even developing new blessings. We're even drawing back from the initial efforts at Ancient Flower and the Whaleship has been de-funded. I signed up in the hopes of commanding a growing list of Flower Knights, beating back the pests and fighting to restore our world. Managing patrols we've ran for months... the girls don't need me around. "
    The general sighed with a rueful smile, "you don't know how many times I've heard the exact same thing over the last year. Very well. "
    They stood up and she gave him a final salute. "The Flower Knight Corps accepts your resignation. "
    The ex-commander placed his letter on her pile and saluted back.
    When he turned to go, she stopped him. "Your badge?"
    The ex-commander looked down at his lapel, the insignia of the flower still on it. "Can I keep it?"
    She grinned and shook her head at that, "I've heard that before as well. Keep it and remember your time with them. If you want to return, the Flower Knights will be waiting for you. "
    With that, the ex-commander turned to leave.
    At the door, a thought struck him. "By the way, general," he started.
    "I'm not your general anymore. "
    "Sorry, madam. Now that you're no longer my superior, would you like to get some coffee with me later? There will be cake. "
    She barked a sharp laugh and shooed him out of the room. "Go, you old horndog! Don't think I don't know what goes on in that command of yours!"
    The ex-commander shrugged and left with a smile.
    "I had to try. "

  19. - Top - End - #169
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for May 6 to May 12!


    Lycunadari passes with 8 nature photos.

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    "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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  20. - Top - End - #170
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Man, it seems this Nobody character fails every week. Poor guy.
    Scientific Name: Wombous apocolypticus | Diet: Apocolypse Pie | Cuddly: Yes

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  21. - Top - End - #171
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    933 for Hero's War
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    The alchemist operating the equipment got a nod to start once all the people watching were in place.
    "First, we push the ends of the metal close together but not touching, a bubble of Water is conjured around the join location, held in place with magical barriers. This strips the surface layer of the metal off the pieces. Unfortunately, due to the presence of air inside the Water bubble as well as the Water itself, hammering the pieces together like in the vacuum produces weak joins with microscopic bubbles of trapped Water.
    Instead, we employ a multi layer technique, expanding another bubble inside the first. The inner bubble of Water is isolated from the outer with a magical barrier and is insulated from the atmosphere by the outer bubble. In perfect conditions, the inner bubble would contain no air, but in practice, we find the magical barrier leaks. With each successive bubble, the amount of air impurity decreases but more layers of metal are stripped off the pieces.
    Next, the pieces are brought into contact and charged with disruption magic to cause the Water in the innermost bubble to revert to pure magic which is allowed to escape. The Water being removed deposits its dissolved metal into the join, sealing it.
    In a controlled workshop environment, a four or five layered bubble gives almost as good a join as vacuum welding without degrading the pieces beyond a millimeter. For welding used in the open, as long as its not raining, a three layer bubble is more easily controlled and still gives decent strength. "
    All while Elma was speaking, the alchemist was going through the welding process in time with each step that Elma described. The woman sitting at the equipment bench had the steadiest hand and the most experience at operating the welding equipment.
    "It seems to me that this setup isn't going to work outdoors," Willio pointed out.
    Indeed, said equipment didn't look like much, a trio of programmed spellforming wands held in place with more clamps and exact positioning. For a prototype demonstration, this would work. But even on the factory floor, the current setup was too small and the welds it could do were limited to joins less than two inches across.
    Also, the process was nowhere near as easy as Elma had described. Variables like the temperature and the speed of the disruption effect as well as the pressure placed on the join all affected the precipitation conditions.
    Cato had written to them about what little he remembered of crystallization conditions, woefully short of the lengthy list they had found. The bubble technique was simply the most successful of schemes to isolate the join, working out the precipitation conditions that did not result in powdered iron was the part that had taken most of the research time. Different steel formulae or heat treatment would require slightly different programs for ideal welding and a join between two different steels would be again different.
    Extending the technique to stone like Cato hoped would require re-researching the crystallization conditions from scratch. And stone was far more heterogenous than steel.
    "More work is required, but we have a working technique that we believe has great potential for improvement and further research," Elma replied to his superior.
    Willio nodded and spoke slowly. "You know, I came to Corbin just after the review meeting for the Guards' weapons and the Minmay Guards are going to start their own research group. What you have been doing here is nothing less than being a research group. I think it should be time to formally recognize the Corbin branch as the Minmay Ironworker's research group," he looked at Elma, "you seem to have done well, I hope you would be willing to lead it. "
    A great bubble of pride seemed to grow under his chest, Elma nodded rapidly. "Of course!" Visions of the Ironworkers being a rival to this University flashed past.
    "Work with the university, I'm sure they'll be able to help you as well as make use of the techniques you have discovered here. "
    And that bubble was gone. "But sir, the University publishes their discoveries for anyone! If we teach them this welding technique, others can copy it!" Elma protested.
    "One thing I've learnt, working with the University," Willio said, all the rest of the tour group watching their leader, "is that the more researchers working together there are, the more ideas there seem to be. We'll be benefiting from this arrangement, never doubt that.
    Besides, we'll still be first. Won't we?"
    The raised eyebrow in his direction had Elma nodding reflexively. "Yes, sir. We will be first. "

    The main spellcasting range of the Inath central Academy did not usually host such august bodies as the Queen and her General. It showed in the way the chairs and refreshments were mismatched and hastily arranged, despite the fact that someone had clearly tried to make it worthy of the Federation's premier monarch. Queen Amarante didn't seem to mind however.
    The attending students and staff stayed a healthy distance away from where Vorril planted himself, standing guard just behind the queen's shoulder.
    "People have said that with the University up north, the Academy has a competitor. " The slightly fat man giving the speech looked for all the world like an overweight pet Reki puffing itself up in front of the audience, but his skill was real, and so were the rest of the staff in attendance. The Academy did not tolerate too much nepotism.


    696 for Inherited Memory Girl
    https://forums.sufficientvelocity.co...#post-12492380
    Last edited by jseah; 2019-05-21 at 05:31 PM.

  22. - Top - End - #172
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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

    Status for May 13 to May 19!


    Lycunadari passes with 6 nature photos.

    jseah passes with 933 words for Hero's War and 696 words for Inherited Memory Girl.

    5crownik007 didn't upload/send me anything.


    Thus 5crownik007 FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWombatOfDoom View Post
    Man, it seems this Nobody character fails every week. Poor guy.
    You jinxed it!
    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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  23. - Top - End - #173
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Dah sorry, I had a writing task due this week. It was in Japanese as well so I couldn't even submit it . I'll do better this week, probably.

    I was close though, something like 900 words and half a drawing. I can't submit that for next week, right?
    Last edited by 5crownik007; 2019-05-24 at 03:41 PM.
    "You... little... *****. It's what my old man called me, it's like it was my name, and I proved him right, by killing all the wrong people. [And], I love ya Henry, and I'll never call you anything but your name, but you gotta decide; are you gonna lay there, swallow that blood in your mouth, or are you gonna stand up, spit it out, and go spill theirs?" - Unknown

  24. - Top - End - #174
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    There's no restriction on language. Writing in Japanese should count. Measuring its word count would be tricky, except you only need one work's worth this week so it's not a problem.
    The gnomes once had many mines, but now they have gnome ore.

  25. - Top - End - #175
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    1575 for Hero's War
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    Otto's skill lay more in alchemy than in spellstorm however.
    "I have never for a moment believed these rumours. The Academy deserves its place and today, you'll see why. Behold, the greatest invention of this era!"
    Otto held up his right arm, and the glove on it. Dotted with a complex mesh of lines and a few small gems, it certainly looked interesting. The magic on it, though, was so complicated that no one was able to understand it just by looking.
    "This is the Academy's spellcasting assistance device. Invented by us, made by us and used by us, we shall catapult to greatness! Witness me today!"
    With a grand overwrought gesture, he swung his arm out. And the glove did something in time with his own risen magic, instantly coalescing into a series of small balls in front of him. Another wave of his hand and the balls blasted down range to explode into the trademark puffs of fire of a firebolt.
    The audience exploded in excitement.
    "Did you just cast a seven shot spellstorm in a second?" Vorril's question cut over the sudden din.
    Instead of answering, the lead alchemist of the Academy simply raised his hand and waved it in a big circle, loosing bolts of magic to float in the air. When the circle of twelve readied spells was complete, the same hand flick and flare of magic blasted them forwards.
    Half the balls went left, half went right. And not divided into a simple half circle either, every alternate ball split from its neighbours, looking as if the circle had divided in two. The coordinated dance ended with a ring of fire and a ring of blasting force.
    This was no simple spellstorm. A spellstorm of two different spells was a mark of mastery, but was always done by separating the first half of the spells and the second. Alternating between two different spells like that was considered impossible.
    "You are a spellstorm of the sixth rank, and of not great casting speed either," Vorril noted over the stunned silence.
    "Indeed. That has not changed, unassisted, that is," the man explained. It was the reason why he was an alchemist employed by the Academy and not with one of the many famous parties in Inath.
    "You have my attention," Vorril said.
    "The concept is something I have been working on for some time," Otto started pacing, gesturing at the audience as if conducting a play. "Even before the Hero arrived in fact. While something like the spellforming wand has sometimes been made successfully, making such enchantments have always been unreliable. Enchantments that cast spells are too complex to be reliable, as our collaborator, First Staff, can attest to.
    Her Staff is a spellforming wand, only one so complex and still beset by flaws that only she can use it.
    The magic circle as introduced by Cato from Ektal has solved the production problems and presented new ways to structure spells. I and my assistants first aided First Staff in correcting the flaws of her custom enchantments, then with her help, created this prototype. With this glove to take over the casting of complex spell components, or even channel power from an external source, any caster that trains to use these can reap the benefits I have shown.
    This casting assistance device is merely the first of many. No longer does the Academy remain silent to this challenge raised by the University. With this, we can reclaim our premier position as the greatest magical academy of the Federation!"
    Vorril looked back at his wife, expecting to read some objection on her face to a potential new weapon. Instead, he found her with a wry smile.
    "My queen?"
    She murmured back, unheard by the rest of the excited audience. "Otto thinks that he has reclaimed the lead from a rival. I wonder how he'll react when he finds that Cato will be overjoyed that others have used his inventions to make their own. "

    No sooner than when the fires were out had Cato and the alchemists of the expedition crawling over the battlefield. Partially broken shells still leaking living fire and hissing pits, where the broiling liquid ahd seeped into the cracks between the old cobbles, littered the landscape. In the distance, a fire set by errant fireshells from the scouting squads found some combustibles, sending up a column of smoke to join the grey pallor in the sky.
    Through this sulphurous terrain, there were prizes to be found.
    Cato looked at Landar chivvying her own gaggle of alchemists into picking up the pieces of fireshells to inspect. The battle might have been successful but Landar's impact detonators were still buggy. Well, he could leave the task to Landar. Cato had his own investigations to do.
    Standing in front of the most intact worm, he could feel how intimidating it was. The two meter high specimen was slightly deflated and not the largest either. Its bulk still loomed over the humans gathered around it.
    If not for the hole ripped into its side and the stillness, the rest of the worm looked as if it might still get up and move. Cato could only imagine how much more fearsome the beast was when it was still a threat.
    He had to hand it to the scouts, those men and women had faced down a horror unlike any other and still maintained order.
    "Ready?" Cato asked, looking at the four men stationed two on each side of the wound. They nodded back, swinging down their poles with long glinting billhooks at the end. The hole started at chest height and extended most of the way up to the top of the worm.
    "Open it up!" he said. And they put their hooks into the sides of the worm, peeling back the wound. The dark hole into the interior of the worm was like a hole into the monster's maw. The other alchemists looked at each other dubiously.
    Did he see something shining in there? Cato squinted but the light was gone.
    "Come on, let's take a look, a lamp please?" he put his gloved hands into the hole to pull himself up. Huh, something really did shine back at him.
    "Lamp?" Cato called again, pulling his head out of the boneworm. Still hanging on with his forearms on the lip of packed bone and crystal that passed for the thing's armour, Cato looked back to find the nearest alchemist holding out the liquid light lamp nervously.
    The moment he took it off the woman's hands, she darted back a healthy distance from the monster.
    Cato sighed, the things he did for science...
    He pushed the lamp into the wound to get a look. Inside, the worm was indeed hollow, and the internal cavity was lined with what looked like zombie crystals, they were what had been glinting up at him. And these still held a bit of magic! This was the most intact specimen of the boneworms, the interiors of the others had been burnt into a charred mess.
    Alright, best not to touch those crystals, given what they knew of zombie reanimation mechanics. There was no telling if this more structured aura could turn living humans into zombies. He hopped back down.
    "We have masonry tools with the expedition, right? Hammer and chisels, that sort of thing?" Cato asked. One of the alchemists nodded back.
    "Good," Cato nodded, "send a messenger to the camp and ask them to bring the set up. Let's break this thing open and see what makes it work. "

    While waiting for the masons' cart, Cato dusted himself of zombie bits and joined Landar who was inspecting the jigsaw puzzle of shell pieces on the work table.
    "Oh Cato," she glanced up as he approached but focused back on the bits and pieces again, "it's not looking good. "
    Huh. From the pyrotechnics of the blasts, Cato would have thought the shells worked quite well, despite the bad rocketry tests.
    "I think about a fifth of the shells are duds. Maybe as much as a quarter. " Landar explained when he asked. She held up a broken piece of shell casting with a pair of tongs.
    "This bit is part of the living fire container, and see how its torn down this edge? That's not due to the bursting enchantment. The bursting enchantment pulls the shell apart in all directions, the stress is stretching the metal. This is something tearing the container in half, I think this shell hit something and the bottom sheared off. The worst part is that the failure caused most of the bursting enchantment to not trigger at all. The magic is still on this piece. "
    She held out the thin steel and Cato noted the slight feeling of something on it that indicated magic.
    "The shells without the detonator were mostly fired at the second half of this stretch but we're still finding shells that failed to properly detonate all the way up at to start of the street. The detonator is still too slow. "
    Indeed with the shells traveling faster than the speed of sound, even the detonator signal accelerated by magic did not travel fast enough.
    Cato mused over the pieces and met her eye, "do you think it might be worthwhile to look into physical explosives for detonators?"

  26. - Top - End - #176
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Let's see..
    1790 words:
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    She invited me into her home after leading me through the side streets and alleys of the brambling city. Deeper into the city were sturdier, more permanent structures, with pressure seals and airlocks. The housing was exclusively apartments, saving the precious little space that was available. The interior was not wholly drab and featured excellent lighting and ventilation.

    Her apartment was a miniscule two room space, with a low ceiling and little furniture. I removed my helmet and took a deep sniff of the recycled air. The floor was a layer of plastic tiles over concrete. As I entered the apartment behind her, she spoke,
    “You’ll be safe here for a bit, but you should find your army friends and leave quick.”

    I put my back against the wall and slid down. She grabbed a plastic cup from a cabinet built into the wall and poured some water into it from the nearby sink. Unfolding a seat down from the wall, she sat and sipped from the cup, not looking at anything in particular. I rolled my head against the wall to face her, my expression dour.
    “Why?” I asked.
    She finished her water before answering, “It’s something you Karandans have trouble understanding.”

    Standing up from her seat, she put the cup away and kept talking, “But you weren’t born there, were you?” She knelt down close to the floor and pulled a drawer out from under her bed. While she rummaged through, I lifted my head from the wall and my expression softened, “How did you know that?”
    From the drawer she extracted a respirator mask as well as a power cell for it. “Too tall,” she explained, “You had trouble fitting through the door. Karandans aren’t typically taller than 175.” I put my hand in the air, gesturing for her to stop. “You’re steering away from my question.”

    She sighed, “It’s how we live out here.” Handing me the mask and power cell, she elaborated. “If we didn’t help out, we’d all be dead.” She stood, pushing the drawer back under her bed with her boot. She then offered her hand to pull me up, “I’m Olana.” She helped me to my feet and I replied, “I’m Torald.”

    My black and grey military fatigues camouflaged me well with the general population. My most anomalous feature was my incredibly pale skin, caused by years of space travel. The people around were tanned by constant work under sunlight. Even looking at the sun against the horizon made me feel slightly sick, as if it was abnormal in some way. Of course, I rarely had the opportunity to see a setting sun.

    Walking around outside without my spacesuit made me feel vulnerable, but letting my body out into open air did feel somewhat liberating. The atmosphere was mostly carbon dioxide, with enough oxygen that the respirator masks could concentrate it into breathable air. Olana led me through the streets, back out to the edge of the town.

    Every so often I would reach for my empty holster, before cursing myself for losing my sidearm. I knew that I stood no chance against the superior numbers of the insurgents, but the idea of being completely unarmed felt worse. Olana brought me into one of the largest structures by the very edge of the town. It was made of sheet metal bolted to a steel structure, and was very clearly not airtight. On the side facing the edge of the town, two gigantic roller doors stood open, exposing the interior to the east.

    The inside clearly identified the structure as a warehouse. Crates of goods stood precariously perched on one another, ruggedized ‘trade trucks’ parked by the entrance, some unloading their cargo into the warehouse, others loading goods for trading elsewhere. Olana approached a man who seemed to be overseeing the operation. He wore a high visibility vest, as well as a hard hat. In his hand he held a datapad. His greying hair was cut short.

    As we approached, he looked up from his datapad before looking toward a co-worker and asking him to cover his duties for a few minutes. He turned back to us, “Olana, what wicked trouble have ya brought for me this time?” She crossed her arms, “Why do you immediately assume I’m going to get you into trouble? I just want to send this guy east, out of the immediate grasp of the Coalition.” The man looked me up and down, “This guy? I’m sure no one would notice an extra body on one of the trucks.”

    And so, I was put onto one of the work crews as ‘Ivan Doe’, shipping out on a trade mission to one of the cities to the east. In less than an hour, I was ready to leave. With the sun fully under the horizon, I climbed into the back of the truck. As I was about to roll down the door of the van, Olana approached with large case in her hands, “You wouldn’t want to leave without this, would you?” I took the case from her hands and looked back at her, “My suit?”

    She crossed her arms, “I’m not going to keep it, and leaving it lying around is just asking for discovery.” I set the case down in the truck, its rectangular form blending with the other cargo. Turning back to face her, I dropped down and sat on the truck’s edge, legs hanging off the back. We sat in silence, neither one of us knowing what to say. Finally, I said what had been trapped in the back of my throat, “Thanks.” She nodded, “Just stay alive. That’s how the principle works.”

    The night painted the whole landscape in pure blackness. Up above were clear points of light, but no moon to mirror the light of the sun. The silty ground looked like an ocean against the horizon of the night sky. The truck vibrated as we drove across the well travelled dirt path. Staring out the rear of the truck at the void caused my body to slowly slump. Without noticing, my eyes slowly drifted down, there I found my sleep.

    I awoke to the red sky out the rear of the truck, and the black silt had turned to sturdy stone. Stepping out, I spotted the driver negotiating with a man wearing a deep blue uniform with a simple cap. As I approached, it became clear that he was a member of the local authority in the nearby town. He had stopped the convoy to alert us to the fact that Karandan force had a presence in the town here.

    I felt as though I had escaped easily. I could reunite with the Army in the next town. All of it felt too easy. The convoy continued, and we very quickly arrived in the town. The transition from stone to bitumen was welcome on my aching body. The truck pulled over in a trader’s depot, and I was able to leave. The driver of the truck and I parted ways silently, and I stepped out of the structure into the street.

    The city’s name was Redan. Above me, the buildings rose several stories, blocking my view. The street was bustling, but not choked with foot traffic. The whole city seemed to be in order, not a sprawling mass of hastily erected steel huts. Vehicles travelled the street, people walked to work, and an Army shuttle flew overhead. I hefted the black case in my hands and made my way.

    It didn’t take long at all to find a military checkpoint. An armoured car was parked, blocking one side of the street, and a prefab wall blocked the other side. By the car, a patrolman stood, rifle in hand, face hidden behind the reflective visor. Recognizing my fatigues, the patrolman walked over to me.
    “Oy! You okay man?”
    “Yeah, I need to speak to the CO here, my plane crashed.” Slowing my pace, the patrolman led me into the checkpoint.
    “You came at a good time friend, the Redan CoB is here, right now!”
    Hurrying my pace, the patrolman went back to his post, shouting, “CoB is in the command tent!”

    Pulling the curtain open and stepping into the tent, the CoB and the checkpoint captain were discussing reports of an insurgent force in the city. I set down my case and stood at attention, “Good morning sir, I’m Astroman Torald Kerich. My shuttle was downed a few clicks to the west.”

    The CoB was an older man, with grey entering his hair. He turned to me, then back to the checkpoint captain, “You have your orders. Kerich, sit.” I found an unoccupied chair and sat down in it. “Kerich, were the contents of your shuttle captured?”
    “No sir, it was obliterated. I’m not sure how I survived.”
    “Good. Having those supplies fall into enemy hands was a nightmare I didn’t have time for. How about your crew?”
    “No idea sir. I didn’t spot them among the wreckage.”
    Behind the respirator, the older man grimaced. After a few moments passed, he grabbed a messenger bag from the floor and rose to his feet. “We’ll be returning to the FOB. Torald, you’re coming with. Captain, I expect those insurgents dead or-”

    A series of holes appeared in the tent above my head. A spurt of blood landed on my mask, obscuring my vision. Shouting began across the checkpoint, “Contact, Northeast!” and the distinct clacking of gauss rifle bolts began to fill the air. Wiping my visor clean, I saw the CoB, bleeding shoulder, messenger bag in one hand. The checkpoint captain rushed to his aid, but the CoB stopped him, “Get out there! The bastards are on us!”

    I stepped out from the tent, and a deafening roar filled the air. I turned to look behind me, and an assault robot had unleashed a burst of fire at some insurgents out of sight. Before I could turn back, I heard the shout of a friendly, “Rocket, get down!” The wind whistled past my ear and smoke filled the air around me.

    A millisecond passed and I was on the ground. I wheezed out several winded breaths, and looking up, my vision was blurred. Turning onto my back, I saw the robot, hole in the center of its chest. Rigidly, it collapsed onto the ground, its back blown apart by the rocket’s detonation.

    The sound of footsteps crushing against stony debris was clear even against my ringing ears. With practiced efficiency, a squad of insurgents spread through the area like spilling water. Dust in the air made their silhouettes otherwordly, like creeping monoliths. Gauss rifles in hand, they advanced, “Secure the area, target is unaccounted for.”

    1 Artwork:
    Last edited by 5crownik007; 2019-05-30 at 02:09 AM.
    "You... little... *****. It's what my old man called me, it's like it was my name, and I proved him right, by killing all the wrong people. [And], I love ya Henry, and I'll never call you anything but your name, but you gotta decide; are you gonna lay there, swallow that blood in your mouth, or are you gonna stand up, spit it out, and go spill theirs?" - Unknown

  27. - Top - End - #177
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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

    Status for May 20 to May 26!


    Lycunadari passes with 9 nature photos.

    jseah passes with 1575 words for Hero's War.

    5crownik007 passes with 1790 words for The Short Way Down and one room drawing.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and 5crownik007PASS this round!



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    Quote Originally Posted by 5crownik007 View Post
    Dah sorry, I had a writing task due this week. It was in Japanese as well so I couldn't even submit it . I'll do better this week, probably.

    I was close though, something like 900 words and half a drawing. I can't submit that for next week, right?
    No need to apologise! Writing in Japanese is fine, we've had other languages before (Dutch and German, IIRC). As long as it's in some way creative (and not like, a science paper or essay or something) it counts!
    Generally, you're only supposed to submit stuff in the week it was created, though for bigger things like artwork you've worked on for several weeks and that's worth several points it's okay to submit it in the week it was finished- this isn't an official rule, but it's a way to allow people to work on bigger projects and have those projects count for the challenge. It's not really meant for writing, because with writing, the word count is enough and it doesn't have to be a finished piece (I can't make you submit fully finished novels :P ).
    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!

  28. - Top - End - #178
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    1521 for Inherited Memory Girl
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    Alice looked up at the afternoon sky. Ri and Foet had been jittery and hard to calm down, they had not quite cried, but it had been close. The shock of a close shave with hostile enemies was not good for their nerves. But with some soothing, Alice had managed to get them to take a nap.
    For that matter, Alice wasn't doing so well herself.
    She watched her hands trembling in her lap as she sat in front of the cove. Alice wouldn't say she was hysterical or even afraid. There was no dread, no quick anger, just a numbness and hands and legs that did not want to sit still.
    She was exhausted, ten year olds were not meant to go trekking through the woods and fighting battles.
    But her body wouldn't let her sleep.
    Instead, Alice just kept vigil over all that remained of her life, kinetic launcher ready for the slightest noise that anything had found them.
    There was nothing but slowly returning insects and birds for long long hours.

    It was dark when Foet first stirred. Her slow waking prodded Alice's sister into sitting up. Their collars shifted and Alice tamped down a glare that threatened to break through to her face. She would destroy those collars eventually.
    "We should go back," Alice said, once they had rubbed the sleep out of their eyes. "The Earth sorcerers must have left by now. "
    Outside of the concealing branches, the river burbled in the evening light. It was subtly calming, as if inviting the three children to simply lay down and ignore the rest of the world.
    Which Alice might be able to do. She had fiddled with her rune writer tool, trying to devise a way to make something edible. Working with the abstraction levels she had re-discovered in her various projects, Alice thought she might be able to create a Record that would break down wood into its component sugars. And with this new rune writer, the few hundred runes that would require would be no challenge. Between that and hunting with the kinetic launcher, it would let them survive.
    Only, staying here was not a long term plan. Alice did not want to be a hermit and who knew what else might come to investigate the ruined village?
    "We need to get any food we can from the houses," Alice said, "there's not much we can do here, alone, but... we do what we must. "
    The two of them simply looked up at her and nodded slowly. Alice could see they had no idea what to do, something, anything would help keep their minds off the recent tragedies. They could not afford to be stuck in a stupor.
    As they slowly got up at Alice's urging and encouragement, she unplugged the potential crystal and its holder from her kinetic launcher.
    "Before that, can you charge this crystal?"

    After a check from the forest's edge that the invaders had indeed all left, Alice led her sister and friend back into the ruins. She studiously ignored Foet biting back sobs as the destruction grew worse and worse towards the far edge of the village.
    There lay a frozen puddle of stone, as in someone had stirred the ground like a soup pot and re-froze it. The charred lines and blast rings dotting the area spoke of a very different source of destruction. No one had survived near that zone.
    Then it was Ri's turn to start crying, as Alice passed by their house. The bodies lying under the ruins were obvious, the house had been torn down around her family. It was only Ri's earth sorcery and hiding in the outer barn with Alice that had saved her.
    "We should see what we can find," Alice said sadly.
    Her family had been good to her, more real. Petra's own parents were distant both in time and in memory, she had lived for more than a hundred years and her memories of childhood were faded. Seeing Den and Erias lying among the fallen stone and wood, her brothers looking like they were just sleeping in awkward positions, was... not quite horrifying but not something Alice would have wanted to see.
    Alice left Ri to grieve while she tried to find where the pantry would have ended up. On the way, she found her father's hand sticking out from under a fallen wall. Not something any of them could have moved. Alice ducked down to peer underneath, there was only rocks and a body.
    Alice had found what was left of the food when it struck her. She had not seen her mother. If the rest of her family was together when they were attacked, possibly in the middle of eating, then where was her mother?
    "Mama's not here," she whispered, but not softly enough.
    "Mama?" Ri asked, teary eyes wandering over the ruins.
    "Not here," Alice said. There was the sinking feeling again.
    She glanced up to where Ri had been sobbing on the ground, with Foet squatting glumly behind her. The collars resting on their necks glinted in the evening light.
    With a lurch of her stomach, Alice sat down heavily on the dusty rubble. The invaders had taken her mother. They had put a Record corruption collar on her mother.
    "Where's mama?" Ri asked again, tottering up to Alice. She swallowed down her disgust.
    This was no time to go to pieces. Alice had to be strong for all three of them. She was the one with a hundred year old woman in her head.
    Ri and Foet wouldn't understand, they had no context to understand the sheer violation that was a Record corruption device meant to enslave and render people into... that thing Alice had confronted in the forest.
    "Come on," she mussed Ri's hair, forcing a smile onto her own face, "let's find the food. "
    She bent down to crawl under the fallen wall. There was a bowl she saw down there.

    It was getting truly dark by the time Alice had managed to collect whatever salvage she wanted for her next step.
    Three tough bags, loaded lightly with waterskins and food. A few carving knives, two bowls and a few utensils. And her tools. The rest Alice could make. As long as she had a knife, her borrowed carving skill would let her make whatever Record tools needed for their base.
    Alice had plans. Already, while waiting for Foet and Ri to collect the last of the food, Alice had turned a simple pointed rock into a fire starter. No more complex than the light creating Record for her family's table, the stone had taken her only a few minutes. The runic tool was a step forward, as long as she could plan her runes, Alice could make the Record.
    Even the crude kinetic launcher Alice was holding could be made in less than a day, given sufficient potential. If she settled for a shorter barrel, it would need even less potential. The bottleneck was both their potential storage and generation.
    "Where are going," Foet finally asked after they had gathered at the village's edge.
    "There are a few people who are not here," Alice said, then pointed at the obvious tracks of a large group of people leaving the village, "I'm going to find them. We're going to find them. "
    If her sister and friend were older, they might have objected. If they knew just what fate had befallen their parent, friends and fellow villages, they might have been too horrified to do anything but cower.
    Instead, the ten year old and nine year old girls simply nodded and put all their trust in another girl seemingly their age.
    Alice had a lot to live up to.

    Following the trail was easy enough. The group was moving slow and far too large to conceal anything, much less from a hunter as good as Denka. Alice wielded her borrowed skill shamelessly, leading the children in a chase that was just short of punishing.
    A few nights were spent making the bowl rearrange anything organic put into it into sugar, though Alice did not trust it with anything more than tree bark and leaves. The crackle and pop of escaping nitrogen gas was somewhat disturbing, but their food would run out pretty soon and sugar was a rare delicacy in the village. Ri and Foet did not complain.
    The firestarter came in useful every night. Alice had also been forced to make one of the waterskin caps conjure water when the trail went two days without seeing a river. The cost in potential of conjuring pure water was far too high to contemplate but with two sorcerers and practically endless sugar to feed their energy, they managed it.
    If it wasn't for Alice's sugar bowl, she was sure the other two would have simply given up in exhaustion.
    They never caught sight of the party of sorcerers they were trailing.


    Shamelessly almost forgetting...

  29. - Top - End - #179
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    5crownik007's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Australia
    Gender
    Male

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

    "You... little... *****. It's what my old man called me, it's like it was my name, and I proved him right, by killing all the wrong people. [And], I love ya Henry, and I'll never call you anything but your name, but you gotta decide; are you gonna lay there, swallow that blood in your mouth, or are you gonna stand up, spit it out, and go spill theirs?" - Unknown

  30. - Top - End - #180
    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 May 27 to June 2!


    Lycunadari passes with 6 nature photos and one painting.

    jseah passes with 1521 words for Inherited Memory Girl.

    5crownik007 passes with 5 animations.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and 5crownik007PASS this round!



    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 333 weeks
    Longest run: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 172 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks

    5crownik007
    Current run: 2 week
    Longest run: 1 week



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    Your weekly dose of flowers, and one painting (that also has flowers).
    -----

    Quote Originally Posted by jseah View Post

    Shamelessly almost forgetting...
    I can't blame you, considering how late I am with making the status post...

    Quote Originally Posted by 5crownik007 View Post
    Well, I made these, although I'm not sure if it counts, since the update post is overdue...
    Oh well, here goes.
    5 animations.
    As long as you post before the update, you're fine. But you probably shouldn't get used to the update being this late.
    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!

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