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In a hole in the ground there lived...



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Writing, Reading, and Voting

Posted by Tolkien , in Writing??, BZPower Jul 03 2013 · 79 views

...in that order. Hi. This is a quick entry about the Flash Fiction Marathon. I'm sure you've seen something about it. It's on the front page and everything! I'm here to encourage you to do three things:
 
1. Write for the FFM - There's a Bionicle category and an Off Topic Culture category every other day. That means there's something for Bionicle fan-fiction writers and for normal people too! (=P) By entering, you support writing on BZP, and you might just win something for it.
 
2. Read the entries - It's a Flash Fiction Marathon, so these things are pretty short. Really, it's amazing what some writers can cram into 750 words. I mean, that's the challenge, right? Sure it is. And reading these entries goes right along with #3:
 
3. Vote in the polls - This is probably the most important thing to emphasize. It's no fun when a story wins by a single vote out of four votes total. That's just statistics. No one likes statistics. Well, not in a writing contest, at least. Statistics is pretty cool...But I digress.
 
If you're as convinced as I am at this point, then I'll simply direct you on where to go:
 
- As of now, the current FFM theme is "The Mask" for OTC (entry period closes tonight, 11:59PM PST)
- As of now, two polls from previous themes are open for voting:
     -- "Character Story" polls #1, #2, #3 for OTC (also closes tonight, 11:59PM PST)
     -- "Find the Power" polls #1, #2, #3 for Bionicle (closes tomorrow night, 11:59PM PST)
 
Now go forth, and be awesome.
 
JRRT


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The Trumpet Sounds

Posted by Tolkien , in Writing??, Long Entries Dec 21 2012 · 190 views

[In honor of the imminent end, the Ambage decided to host an impromptu write-off. My first thought was "Mayans? Forget them. The end of the world is way more interesting in Norse mythology." And, well, here's the result. It may be a bit over the top, but I hope you can enjoy it anyway. Oh look, one minute till Tomorrow...]
 


: :
 
The Trumpet Sounds
 


When the trumpet sounded, we left our homes and went to watch. All our bickering was over—all our greed, our avarice. It was suddenly worth so little in the face of the coming end. The trumpet echoed over field and mountain, from the city to the waste, and into every corner of the groaning earth. Birds scattered across the sky, and the beasts of the field fled to their hollows, and far below, the dark things stirred and awakened, exulting.
 
The stones of the mighty causeway upon which we traveled had been laid down long ago by the giants of the earth, bound by their oaths to the gods. Their sleeping forms lay sprawled across the land on either side, clothed with trees and green grass. The fire would soon wake them if the trumpet did not. It was louder now: splitting the clouds above as the mass of humanity made its way down the track. Down toward the mountains of the gods. There we would watch. There we would be safe. So we thought.
 
A hand gripped my arm as I trudged forward, head down. I turned and saw a wrinkled face, a gray beard, a one-eyed gaze piercing me. The old man leaned upon a twisted stick. He looked weak, and I stooped to support him. Suddenly his grip tightened, and I felt the strength in his fingers.

“My time is done, lad,” he rasped in my ear. “The trumpet sounds for me.”

 
“Surely not yet, old one,” I replied and tried to smile, but he shook his gray head. His one eye looked distant.
 
“The trumpet sounds, and Death is blowing upon it. Its jaws are wide, and soon I must fall into those jaws...”
 
He stumbled again, trembling, and sank to the ground. I knelt with him as the stream of humanity trudged around us. He fixed me with his good eye once more, and now a smile played round his mouth.
 
“My thanks for your kindness, lad, but you must go now,” he said. “I’ll rest here and wait. My time is done, but yours isn’t. Only remember my words, when the jaws open wide for me: Seek the darkness when the fire comes. She’ll wait for you. She will.”
 
He sighed and pushed me away then, clutching his stick. I tried to help him, but he was gone. The bodies pressed closer, carrying me along the causeway. At last I surrendered and turned my face back toward the looming mountains, wondering at his words.
 
Soon pillars of stone rose before us, and the high ridge--white as bone--that sheltered Earth from the light of heaven. We camped there, and at last we looked back upon the lands we had left behind, following the call of the horns of heaven. We looked and felt fear, for the end was a terrible thing to see:
 
On one hand came the hordes of the unfettered dead, marching from their caverns beneath the earth, cold and dripping and hungry for the light. On the other hand rose the raging sea, brimming with the waterlogged bodies of the drowned, and on its surface came the terrible stone ships of the fire giants—vast rafts of pockmarked pumice, floating on a foam of boiling surf. They raised flaming eyes to the shores of Earth, and in their hands was fire, unquenchable.
 
The shorelines quailed at their approach, and steam went up to darken the sky. Fields smoked and burned, and far above, carrion birds mixed their cries with the sound of the trumpet, while wolves howled on the empty hills. The beasts hoped to sate their hunger when the battle was over. They hoped in vain.
 
There was a crash away behind us as the gates of heaven opened, and deadly light flickered forth to strike at the armies of the dead below. They grasped at it in droves, hungry for life, but found only more death, and the dust of their corpses mixed with ashes on the battlefield while mighty men fought and fell and swelled the ranks of the dead all the more. From the boiling sea came serpents, and writhed across the dry land in waves of poison. Spears flew and swords flickered, and the footsteps of gods shook the earth as they had not since the beginning.
 
True fear gripped me at last, and I fell back from the edge of the ridge, for the tide of battle was drawing near. We had thought to find safety here, here in sight of heaven, but the end came on regardless, inevitable. It would all burn, and us with it. The gods could not stave off fire and death, for they had seen their own ends.
 
Suddenly I stopped, and an apparition crested the bone-white slope. A spear raised, scattering light from its nine-bladed tip, and the hand that grasped it was strong. A horse reared up, its mane and tail aflame, and the rider pierced me with his ancient, one-eyed gaze, gray hair framing a wrinkled face, full of fury. The trumpet swelled and crashed upon my ears.
 
And then I remembered the words, as the jaws opened wide for him. A wolf-like shape reared up behind the rider, and the sun turned black, and I fled.
 
I fled, and as I ran it seemed that world changed and grew thin: the mountain walls of heaven dissolved, and there was a narrow defile leading on beneath the sky. Deeper and deeper, dark walls of stone rising on either side, until the walls fell away, and at last I saw, thrusting from the horizon, the shape of a tree.
 
It was a withered tree, twisted branches hung with a thousand nooses, and I stumbled for a moment in the blood-soaked earth. Still I went on, and the dead canopy stretched over my head. As I continued, I felt a weight bearing down on me. A weight of despair...so heavy. Darkness was falling, and I stumbled again, almost giving up—
 
—but a hand gripped mine and pulled me to my feet once more. There was light again, and I saw that it was a woman, clad in rags. Her face was desperate, like mine. “She’ll wait for you,” the old man had said. I did not understand.
 
Wordless, she pointed to the base of the tree, and in the flickering I saw a hollow between the roots.
 
“Seek the darkness when the fire comes.”
 
A glance behind, and now I saw the source of the light: a horizon full to brimming, red and angry, filled with fire, unquenchable. The trumpet crowed on as the giants danced upon the graves of the gods, and a mighty wolf lay with his jaws broken, the nine-bladed spear buried in his side. A serpent writhed in its death throes, and suddenly the horizon brimmed over. Fire spilled out, and a thousand, thousand souls went screaming up as we plunged headlong into the final darkness beneath the hanging tree...
 
...And the trumpet fell silent.
 


: :
 
JRRT




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"The End" Explained

Posted by Tolkien , in Writing??, Long Entries, Bionicle Oct 24 2012 · 279 views
the end, short story, explanation
A few of you may have read a short story I posted at the end of last year, entitled “The End”. If you haven’t...well, this blog post won’t make much sense to you at all. So, in the interest of understanding, why not...go...read it? You might like it. (Shameful plug. Yeah, shameful.)

Regardless, I’ve always considered “The End” to be one of the most cryptic things I’ve written, probably to its own detriment. That’s been the consensus of the reviews, at least, and it’s my fault. The story is very vague about some very important points, and I’ve never given any clear description of the back-story or the idea behind the story itself (although there is a consistent storyline. I promise!). Well, now it’s time to end (!) the silence, and spoil it all. Read on if you care.

------------------

Basically, “The End” is set in an alternate Bionicle universe. That much, at least, has been stated before. Events progress in basically the same way that they did in the primary Bionicle reality, with a few significant changes. These differences are referenced (in an admittedly very vague way) in a series of passages near the end of the story. To start off, I’ll quote the passage of primary interest in full.

[Note: I am assuming that you’ve read the story, and are somewhat familiar with the plot, so I won’t be doing an in-depth summary of anything up to this point].

Nga-ro remembered the time before…a time when he had had a different place, a different name. What had his name been? He remembered the voices of his companions, his people. All around him, working and laboring. Filling the world with their voices and their life as he looked on from a distance.

And then it started to fade, and he felt weary…so weary…A dark figure arose on the horizon of the world. Black and immense, his laughter echoed in the skies. He lifted a hand upward, and sleep took hold of Nga-ro. Endless sleep. But Nga-ro had no relief, for the duty tortured him in his slumber. Make it right. Make it right.

He glimpsed the black one—the one who called himself Nothing—saw how he took hold of the world, sought to drain it of its life and its light. No, no, no. He had to make it right…but he was slipping away, slipping away into the darkness beyond all darkness. The darkness of death, and suddenly his spirit was alone in the cold, and harsh stars shed their alien light upon him. He had lost his destination, the point toward which he had always directed his steps. His guiding star. Nga-ro…no, surely that was not his name then…he had lost himself.

No! It must not be so! He turned back toward the world of the living, clawed his way back from the darkness. But he could not return to his former place. He was cast out, alone and unseen, as the world—his world—fell into chaos. Even the dark one could not stop it. He had not known what the consequences would be.

But then Nga-ro looked within himself, and a plan formed. Back, back, back to the City. The city still filled with life, with light. The dark one had fled, cowering, trying to escape. Even he was fearful, who had called himself Master of Fear, even he feared to become nothing in the end.

But Nga-ro had a plan. He had walked upon the solid ground and looked upon the solid sights of the City, and around him the people had gathered and they had seen him as he was—like them. Small, perhaps, but very alive. And he had told them his plan, as darkness fell over the world:

Sleep.

Sleep.

All must sleep.

And I will keep watch, until the darkness is over, and the light is found again.

Sleep, now.

Until I make all things right…


Okay, so (spoilers!) Nga-ro is actually the Great Spirit in Matoran form. At the end of the story, he “awakens” the Matoran (and, presumably, the rest of the universe), and the journey of the MU continues on toward Spherus Magna. This passage provides the backstory for how things came to be as they are at the time of “The End”. Nga-ro is alone, having forgotten almost everything. Metru Nui is in shambles. Everything is dark and dead. What leads up to this?

Nga-ro remembered the time before…a time when he had had a different place, a different name. What had his name been? He remembered the voices of his companions, his people. All around him, working and laboring. Filling the world with their voices and their life as he looked on from a distance.


The Great Spirit watches the Matoran—his people—“from a distance”. Pretty straightforward.

And then it started to fade, and he felt weary…so weary…A dark figure arose on the horizon of the world. Black and immense, his laughter echoed in the skies. He lifted a hand upward, and sleep took hold of Nga-ro. Endless sleep. But Nga-ro had no relief, for the duty tortured him in his slumber. Make it right. Make it right.


Mata Nui feels “weary”, a “dark figure” appears, and Mata Nui falls asleep. Also pretty straightforward. It should be clear that the “dark figure” is Makuta. Recall that there’s already been a discussion of someone who was called “Nothing” (but who must have had a more “original” name) earlier in the story.

He glimpsed the black one—the one who called himself Nothing—saw how he took hold of the world, sought to drain it of its life and its light. No, no, no. He had to make it right…but he was slipping away, slipping away into the darkness beyond all darkness. The darkness of death, and suddenly his spirit was alone in the cold, and harsh stars shed their alien light upon him. He had lost his destination, the point toward which he had always directed his steps. His guiding star. Nga-ro…no, surely that was not his name then…he had lost himself.


Mata Nui dreams as Makuta takes over the universe. And eventually, he slips into the “darkness of death”, having lost “his destination” (what is Mata Nui’s destination? Spherus Magna: a “guiding star”).

At this point, a summary/clarification of events is in order:
- First (this is implied but never stated), the MU never crashes into Aqua Magna after Mata Nui falls asleep. Therefore, the Great Cataclysm doesn’t necessarily happen in the same way. Why does that matter? It does. I promise.

- Second, Mata Nui falls asleep, and Makuta begins to take over the universe. Mata Nui dreams about this (he is “tortured” by his duty).

- Mata Nui eventually dies, same as in the primary Bionicle reality. He is “alone in the cold, and harsh stars shed their alien light upon him.” At this point, he has also lost his destination, Spherus Magna.

- This is where the second significant change comes into play, and events progress differently from there. Continuing on:

He turned back toward the world of the living, clawed his way back from the darkness.


Pretty straightforward. Mata Nui’s spirit returns.

But he could not return to his former place. He was cast out, alone and unseen, as the world—his world—fell into chaos.


Mata Nui’s death means that the MU is shutting down (falling into chaos). Mata Nui is only a spirit though, and cannot (or doesn’t remember how) to gain control of the MU again.

Even the dark one could not stop it. He had not known what the consequences would be.


This is an aside concerning Makuta. We know that, at some point, Makuta didn’t know that Mata Nui would die. So the MU shutting down was a wrinkle in his plan.

But then Nga-ro looked within himself, and a plan formed. Back, back, back to the City. The city still filled with life, with light.


The City is Metru Nui. Easy enough. Mata Nui has a plan.

The dark one had fled, cowering, trying to escape. Even he was fearful, who had called himself Master of Fear, even he feared to become nothing in the end.


Another aside concerning the fate of Makuta. Failing to prevent the shutdown of the universe, he flees.

But Nga-ro had a plan. He had walked upon the solid ground and looked upon the solid sights of the City, and around him the people had gathered and they had seen him as he was—like them. Small, perhaps, but very alive. And he had told them his plan, as darkness fell over the world:


This was probably the vaguest point of the entire story (although it is clarified slightly by a later passage). Basically, it’s implied that Mata Nui regains a physical form in Metru Nui (“walked upon the solid ground and looked upon the solid sights of the City”). The Matoran see him “as he was—like them. Small, perhaps, but very alive.” Implication is that he has become a Matoran. He tells them his plan, as the universe shuts down:

Sleep.

Sleep.

All must sleep.

And I will keep watch, until the darkness is over, and the light is found again.

Sleep, now.

Until I make all things right…


Basically, the universe (or maybe just the Matoran in Metru Nui?) goes into hibernation/stasis. Mata Nui alone remains, trying to figure out how to “make things right”.

This is probably the central concept of the story: a reversal of Mata Nui and the Matoran. Mata Nui has become a Matoran, and the Matoran themselves are all asleep, while Mata Nui remains awake trying to awaken them once more.

Alright, so the flashback ends, and we shift forward. Nga-ro awakens on the floor of the Great Temple. He has remembered his past, and suddenly he sees a star in the sky above him:

Because there was a light. There above him. A speck. A single point of white. His eyes strained, eyes that had been unused for so many millennia. It was almost too painful to look.

But he did not close his eyes. Suddenly it resolved, and all became clear. It was a light, far, far above him, immeasurably far away. A star, a single star in all that blackness of night. How could he see it?

The roof of the Great Temple was broken. He could see the outline where the stones had fallen in. Just enough for him to glimpse the sky. After all this time, one tiny point of light…a single star.

He knew that star.


Mata Nui has found Spherus Magna (his “guiding star”) once again.

There was the Symbol again, the constant reminder of his duty.


The concept of Mata Nui’s duty comes up once again. This “constant reminder” harkens back to the passage:

But what of his destination? That must be where the end would come. Yes, he remembered something about it. It drew him...as if someone had written its pattern upon his mind. And no matter how long he lived or how far he went, it was always there, pushing at him, prodding him, as if to say, Make it right.


The fact that the Symbol is actually a map of the Spherus Magna system, and that it is actually physically carved into the MU by the Blade Burrowers is, I admit, a really obtuse piece of trivia. Sorry.

He placed his hand upon the middle of the three circles, flattened his palm. Words came to him, words that he had spoken in the time when time still ran true and straight. Words that he had spoken to his people when he had found his way back from the darkness of sleep and death.

Who am I? he had asked. Who indeed? Shading his eyes as he had stumbled from the entrance to the Great Temple, dazed, confused. Limited. He had not lived within a body so small before…


This is the clarifying passage I noted above. Maybe it’s not so clarifying...Anyways, after regaining physical form (“finding his way back”), Mata Nui “stumbled from the entrance to the Great Temple.” He is disoriented: “...dazed, confused. Limited. He had not lived within a body so small before...” (hint hint!). He asks the Matoran a question: “Who am I?”

And what had they answered? What had they said to him when they turned their faces upon him, faces filled with fear as the light of their universe faded? What had they said when they saw the light of his eyes and knew him?


Basically a clarification of the situation. The Matoran recognize him as the Great Spirit, as their universe continues to crumble. The answer to his question is given a bit later, at the climax of the story, where it is revealed that Nga-ro is Mata Nui. Mata Nui then reawakens the universe, and continues on toward Spherus Magna.

And I think that should cover it. If you got this far, you're a trooper. I appreciate your time. Hopefully, this has made "The End" just slightly less cryptic and bizarre of a story to read. If so, success.

Glad I got that off my chest.

JRRT


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Wttv 1.4

Posted by Tolkien , in Writing??, Windows Through the Void Jun 30 2012 · 139 views
wttv1, 1.4

WttV Entry 1.4


“Remember, creature.”

“Perhaps then you will learn to listen...”

The Hau faded into the starlight as Takanuva moved away, its eyes glittering with a knowing look as it flickered and vanished.

The wind began to moan again as Takanuva jogged off down the ruined track of the road. His focus was now turned to a new duty—a new goal. He was running out of time. He felt the urgency of his plight keenly now. He would have to finish this task quickly if he was to continue.

Before him, along the horizon, the silver light rose up into the towers and spires of a vast city. A City of Silver. The stars paled in comparison as he ran briskly down the winding track. Here and there to the side of the road a stone pillar loomed among the trees, and sometimes he glimpsed the remains of ruins deeper in the forest, broken and buried beneath ancient dust and the winding of dead roots.

The forest ended abruptly before the walls of the Silver City. Straight from the earth it rose, smooth and glass-like. Takanuva approached and ran a hand along the surface. It was almost frictionless. Impossible to climb, for sure. The metal or crystal of which the wall was made glowed with an inner light, filling the sky above him with its silver radiance.

He turned back to the road. Now he saw that it wound its way parallel to the wall, vanishing in the dusk to his right. He followed it, moving more slowly now, staff in hand, ready for anything he might meet.

After a while, he found that the roadway was paved. Closely-fitted stones made the path straight and even. The stones were well-carved, bathed in the same silver light as the city. No Po-Matoran could do better...

For a moment, faced with memories rising in his mind, Takanuva felt the strangeness of his situation. Lost in a dead forest in some Mata Nui-forsaken land, searching along a glowing road beside a glowing city. He certainly never expected to be doing this.

A sound broke his reverie—the noise of shouts. He realized that he had slowed to a walk, but now he quickened his pace. There was a commotion ahead. Some kind of uproar. He squinted through the dimness, around the curve of the wall. This must be the danger the Hau had spoken of.

He would find out soon enough. . . .Read on.



JRRT




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Guys, Guys

Posted by Tolkien , in Writing??, BZPower Jun 20 2012 · 192 views
contest, polls
Them polls are (and have been) up.

So let me give you a gentle nudge and tell you to go get reading and get voting. =)

(For purposes of full disclosure, I did survive into the current round in one poll. Yay.)

JRRT


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There Goes Another One

Posted by Tolkien , in Writing?? Jun 08 2012 · 197 views
short story, flash fiction and 1 more...
Wrote another entry for the final theme of the Flash Fiction Marathon ("Preparation"), and this time I decided to put it in a topic of its own. It's the first COT short story I've hazarded to post on BZP, so take a look, if you dare:

"Ever Up"

Even though I missed most of the themes for the contest, I suppose its somewhat appropriate that I got in on the first and last of them. Ah, symmetry.

JRRT


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It's New

Posted by Tolkien , in Writing??, Life, BZPower, Bionicle Jun 02 2012 · 243 views
once whole, short story
Hi. Remember that story I mentioned in the last entry?

There it is. Title: "Once Whole."

Any and all comments/critiques are welcome.

Regarding the Flash Fiction Marathon (which is still ongoing, btw--enter here or vote here), I'm excited to see such a large influx of entries for this contest. Over 20 in just the first round! Go BZP library-folks.

Also, 'tis (edit: 'twas) my birthday. Thanks for the well-wishings people.

JRRT


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Flash Fiction Marathon

Posted by Tolkien , in BZPower, Writing?? May 27 2012 · 227 views

So, you've probably heard about this awesome contest by now. It's hard to ignore, being on the front page and all. I encourage you to enter. Yes, you.

But beware: there is this thing in the rules called a Word Limit. It is an infuriating thing, since I am convinced that I cannot tell a really good story under 600 words. But that's stylistic...I guess I'd prefer flash-fiction based on a time-limit, but that'd be impossible to regulate for a contest.

Oh well, I did manage to whip up an entry, after failing to check the Word Limit (grr) on my first attempt and hitting 1300 words before I knew what was happening. That'll end up in the SS forum sometime soon, I suppose. Silly me. >.<

JRRT


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Old Fool!

Posted by Tolkien , in Writing??, Tolkien Mythos Mar 02 2012 · 142 views

'Old fool! This is my hour.


Do you not know Death when you see it?


Die now and curse in vain!'


JRRT




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Questions For The Library Folks

Posted by Tolkien , in Writing??, BZPower Feb 25 2012 · 159 views
and 3 more...
This is a new one. A "survey" of sorts. The BZP Library has certainly not been as happenin' a place as it once was, due to the End of Bionicle, the downtime, etc. (mostly the downtime, I'd say =P). So, here are two simple questions related to why. I'm posing these to all the multifarious people who look at this blog. Yeah, all 1-3 of you (if that). How would you answer the following?

1) What, if anything, motivates you to post in a story topic?

And conversely:

2) What, if anything, discourages you from posting in a story topic?

I'll admit, I'm not the most rapid-fire review-poster in the library, and never have been. Not at all. In fact, I have to be a part of a Critics Club just for the motivation these days, so I'm as much a part of the problem. But I'd certainly like to see a return of interest to the fiction-writing related portions of this forum (and to that end, as a Reporter, I'm always on the lookout for something good for the Member Creation Spotlight!). So maybe this can help. Maybe. Or maybe this is just totally self-serving on my part. I mean, I'd love to know how to get people to post in my topics...no, I assure you, I have the greater good in mind here. Really.

JRRT






Chapter I

Posted Image


=ll=


"Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a blog-hole, and that means comfort."

=ll=

A Short Bio of the...Author?

=ll=

 

The author of this blog currently resides in the rather dry, bare, sandy climate of the southwest United States. He is a grad-student and teaching associate at his university, currently working toward a Ph.D. in rhetoric/composition and linguistics.
 

=ll=

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