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Flash Fiction Contest Compilation - Bionicle

SSC The Obervers Flash Fiction

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#1 Offline Despair

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Posted May 29 2012 - 06:28 PM

The Observers

Visions

In the time before time…I watched as the once-mighty planet shattered into pieces, and I watched as the robotic vessel the others called their home started its journey through the stars. I observed the many events that took place within that robot – that universe. From the first hesitant steps of the Matoran to the treachery and eventual downfall of the League of Six Kingdoms; I watched it all. The others also watched, but I had no idea what scenes they were forced to view or if they too suffered the same way I did. It was our duty to examine the history of that world, and for most of us it was a wearisome task. I was no exception to this, for I would often grow tired of observing what had already come to pass.Among our numbers were a few who, like myself, wished to get a glimpse of the future instead of this endless stream of age-old history. When we were not busy fulfilling our duties of examining the past (which, admittedly, was not very often), we would often debate on what the future would be like. You see, we only knew of one time: the past. The present was hidden to us, and the future was an eternal mystery to all. Although you could argue that we each had our own time that could be labeled as the present, I believe most of us would agree that that was nonsense. When we were created, we were forced to cast aside our own lives for the sake of something greater.Or at least that was what we had been told. I found that “something” to be infuriatingly vague, for it gave us no idea of what exactly we were sacrificing what others deemed so precious for. Was it for the Matoran, who lived carelessly happy lives down below? Was it for the future that we would never live to experience, trapped as we were in a bottomless pit of the past?I kept these thoughts to myself, but this was my reason for wanting to see what would come to be. I wanted to know that my sacrificing my own happiness and the similar sacrifices of the others would indeed come to bring about something worthwhile. Even in my heart, I couldn’t imagine what could possibly be worth all that I had endured. I could only label that future as “something”, for none of us knew what it was.That was what I hated about the visions; the future was hidden from even we who had more than earned the right to know it. In all the events I had seen unfold, good had always somehow managed to prevail. So why, when there were those suffering for the sakes of others, could nothing but misfortune come their way?I closed my eyes, hoping in desperation that it would block out the images rushing through my mind. I knew it wouldn’t; I had tried hundreds of times before now and it had never worked before. However, a person could always hope.For me, hope was all I had left. I had hope, not for the future, but to see the future.Visions of the past were all I lived for, and visions of the future were all I dreamed of.

Lava Rescue

The Legends of Lhii

Lhii calmly noted the current of the lava and carefully repositioned his lava board so that he wouldn’t lose control of it. This land of heat and lava was his domain, and he had no intention of making a stupid mistake and dying because of it. He had a reputation to uphold, after all.As Lhii surfed, he thought about what had happened on the island during the last few months. At first, life had been peaceful, with the only concern of the Matoran being a slight overabundance of free time. Lhii had of course used that time to build a name for himself as the island’s best lava surfer, but lately… Lately, there had been instances. A missing tool here, a broken Ussal cart there. Nothing too big, but certainly an annoyance to a Matoran actually invested in their work.But yesterday, a Matoran had gone missing. It was the first time anything like this had happened on their peaceful little island, and it had caused quite the uproar. Lhii himself had been quite shaken by the news, though he tried to conceal his worry with a number of bad jokes and general tomfoolery. The other Matoran all wondered how he could behave in such a manner while such a grave situation was taking place, but Lhii refused to explain his actions.Lhii’s best friend had disappeared, and Lhii was going to find him if it was the last thing he did.* * *Weeks went by, with no sign of the missing Matoran. Eventually, the island gave up, convinced that the Matoran was gone for good. Lhii knew better, though. He knew his friend was out there. He had to be. So Lhii kept looking, even when all trails had long since dried up and everyone else had abandoned the search.One day, Lhii decided to take a short break from his constant search and relax a bit, to give himself a short reprieve. Naturally, this meant participating in a sport which entailed his being separated from a lake of lave by nothing more than a few inches of metallic something-or-rather. To Lhii, lava surfing was the most enjoyable thing in the world.As Lhii surfed, he noticed a small tunnel branching off from the main path. Making his way over to it, Lhii noticed a few scratch marks on the wall. From the looks of it, they belonged to Nui Rama, but what would Nui Rama have been doing scratching at the wall? They were much too big to fit inside, unless…Without hesitation, Lhii flung himself into the tunnel, the heat steadily increasing as he ventured farther in and further down. After a while of surfing, Lhii thought he heard a small voice cry out from the darkness. It was faint, but he had a good idea of who it belonged to. Sure enough, just a bit farther ahead was his friend desperately clinging to the wall in an attempt to not fall into the lava and be horrifically burned (and subsequently killed).“I found you!” Lhii said, his voice ringing with triumph. However, his newly-refound companion did not share in his happiness.“How are we supposed to get back? The slope is too steep to surf up!” the Ta-Matoran wailed.At this point, Vakama stopped talking and looked at the group of Ta-Matoran assembled before him. His eyes were serious, and his voice was grave. However, the Ta-Matoran would never be quite sure if what he said next was in seriousness or not.“And that is why you always surf with a buddy.”

The Gift of Flight

Flight

The setting sun cast a crimson light across the horizon, the combination of the light and scenery creating a breathtaking scene that few ever had the chance to behold. One of those select few was currently staring into the sky, his orange eyes attempting to pierce through the heavens and see what lay beyond. He remained that way until the sun disappeared completely, at which point he awoke from his reverie and began the trip back to the place he called home.For a while, he walked in silence. However, as he neared his “home” a weary voice cried out to him from the darkness.“Ah, there you are! I’d hoped to find you before you left, but was afraid I’d missed you.”The Toa looked at the older being, an indecipherable look in his eyes. The wizened figure was the closest thing to family he had left, but he still had no intentions of being treated like a child.“Master, with all due respect-“The elderly individual lifted up a hand in interruption and said, “I’ve a gift for you.”The Toa bit his tongue, afraid that out of his irritation he might say something he would later regret. However, he couldn’t help but be curious as to what this “gift” was.“I spent a long while contemplating on what to give you before your departure, and this is what I eventually decided upon. If you insist on calling yourself by this new name, then I think it’s only fitting that you’re given this.”From with his robes, the being pulled out a Kanohi mask. Its visage was fierce, almost like that of a monster’s, but it had a certain streamlined quality to it nonetheless. Although difficult to properly examine in the dim lighting, the Toa immediately felt as if the mask was perfect in every way. Its shape, its red and black coloring, everything about it simply seemed like it had been made for him.Noticing his student’s reaction, the elderly being smiled gently. “I’m glad you like it,” he said, “but the true value of a Kanohi lies not in its appearance but its ability.”Although both of them knew that, he had felt the need to say it anyway. There had been times when his student had become a little obsessed with some detail and ended up completely missing the point of the main lesson. Of all the lessons he had taught, this one was possibly the most important, and the one he was most determined to get through to his pupil.“The ability of this particular mask is flight, making it a Kadin. I’m sure you’re familiar with its power well enough to not need any further explanation.”The Toa nodded, his mind already imagining what he could do with this new ability. A whole new style of combat lay stretched out before him, and he was eager to begin exploring it.His mentor, however, had other ideas of how he should use his new mask. The hope had been that once his student experienced some of the joys the world had to offer, he would give up on his path of revenge-laden “justice”. To him, the Kadin was a gift, a chance to see the world in a brand new way. In a way, he was right.The Toa thanked his master for the gift and, after placing the mask upon his face, soared off into the night, his flying unsteady due to inexperience.“Go, Salamander. May my gift help you soar amongst the light and keep you from falling into the darkness...”

Arrival

Alternate Universe

A cylindrical object washed upon a deserted shore. Despite the signs that it had been adrift for many years, its hull gleamed a bright silver in the cheery sunlight. A few birds darted from their trees, curious as to what the new arrival was. One in particular was especially daring, and settled itself upon the strange object. After a moment of deliberation, its head ducked down in a pecking motion, making a considerable noise on impact. The sound rang throughout the air, a signal to all that lived on the island that its heroes had finally arri-Something inside the canister began screaming, initially out of frustration and eventually out of simple rage. The birds, startled by loud noise, retreated back to their trees to observe from a safer distance.After a few minutes, the voice fell silent. The beach seemed strangely quiet in its absence, as if everything on it was waiting with bated breath for what would happen next.They didn’t have to wait long.Blows began to sound out from the canister, with each growing increasingly louder as whatever was trapped inside grew more desperate to be free. The bangs and crashes unnerved the Rahi; they were accustomed to the peaceful sounds of the island, and this strange object and whatever creature it contained had shattered that peace.Suddenly, a hand burst through the side of the canister. Crimson blood ran down its length, and its owner howled in pain. Flames began to escape from the canister, somehow in response to the creature inside.The nearby Rahi all fled, wanting nothing to do with this strange monster that could create fire in response to being injured. Even in their primitive minds, they had plans that didn’t involve being roasted alive because their curiosity got the better of them.Eventually, the creature worked its way out of its prison. It stood tall, its crimson and orange body covered in numerous wounds and of unmistakably masculine design. In its eyes was the rage of a savage animal intent on destroying anything and everything that crossed its path. Gripped tightly in its right hand was a blade seemingly composed of fire, the flames flickering in a way that made it seem like they craved for destruction.The being looked down at his sword, as if hearing the voice of his weapon and its cry for devastation. Slowly, the sword was pointed at the nearby forest. The trees themselves seemed to shy away from the spectacle, as if they knew what was about to happen and wished to somehow wished to escape their fate. Unfortunately, they had no chance for escape; a pillar of fire quickly shot out from the sword and began to consume everything that stood before the being of fire and destruction.And then the creature screamed. It screamed and screamed and screamed. It screamed out of rage, despair, frustration, loneliness, and finally as a challenge to the rest of the island. “Just try to destroy me as well,” its scream seemed to say. It had nothing save the impulse to destroy, the desire to burn.It was meant to be one of the saviors of the island, tasked with the duty of liberating the villagers from an oppressive dark force. Instead, it was a monster.The Toa of Fire had finally arrived.

Heart

Legacy

Vakama watched as the once-beautiful city of Metru Nui vanished in the mist. He, along with the rest of the Toa Metru, had fulfilled their duty of protecting the Matoran, but he couldn’t help but regret that it was necessary to leave his home behind. Sure, there was a new island up above, but it just wouldn’t be the same. There would be no Turaga Dume to gently lead the Matoran, no Coliseum to gather at for sporting events, and no Toa Lhikan to protect the citizens from danger.It felt like only a short while ago that Vakama had watched the Toa and eventually Turaga that he had admired so much taking his last breath and passing away. At the time, Vakama had been distraught at the death of Lhikan, and he had tried his best to ignore those emotions and act as a leader should.Naturally, that had only led to more misfortune. However, that was in the past and a tale for another time. What mattered was that now, on one of the many airships, he finally had the chance to sit down and think properly.With Lhikan’s death and Turaga Dume’s decision to remain in Metru Nui, the Matoran would inevitable end up looking towards Vakama and his teammates for guidance and protection from the forces of Makuta.It just doesn’t feel right. Only a short while ago we were Matoran ourselves, and now we are expected to protect them.If put into this kind of situation a few weeks prior, Vakama would have likely wished that he was a Matoran again. Now, he felt a degree of acceptance towards what lay ahead. It was their duty, tasked to them by the Great Spirit. It had been the job of other before and it would the duty of yet more in the future, but for now it was their task. Their job. Their duty.

* * *

Six Turaga stood before the recently-awakened Matoran, their smiles outshined only by the expressions of childlike wonderment that covered the faces of the Matoran. It was a new world to them, and also the only world. They had no memories of the past, but that was alright. After all, they had six Turaga there to guide them through whatever hardships they might face.“This is the island of Mata Nui, named in honor of the Great Spirit,” Vakama declared to the Matoran. A few of the Matoran mouthed the words “Mata Nui”, as if the words themselves were a blessing of peace. Looking at the Matoran, Vakama felt a surge of pride for what had been accomplished, and a quiet determination to continue the work that he had begun.Thank you, Lhikan, for trusting us with upholding your legacy. We will keep the heart of Metru Nui safe, even if it is removed from its home; that I promise you.

The Flute

Music

I sat inside my sparsely-decorated hut of leaves and twigs, my project of the last few weeks held gently within my hands. After all those failed attempts, all those late nights spent working on it and improving it, had finally culminated into something magnificent.In my hand rested a new kind of instrument, something I had decided to call the flute. Its design was comprehensible to only one such as myself who had spent countless weeks tinkering with said design. It was beautiful, but I cared not for its appearance. No, all that mattered was the sound. The sound, that mattered immensely. I wanted to try it out, but something stayed my hand. I wanted to be the only one present when it first sang. I wanted to be not only the creator of the first flute, but the first person to listen to its sweet melody.But where to play it? Since he wanted secrecy, the village was out of the question. The swamp was also a bad choice to how dangerous it was. So it had to be away from the Koro, perhaps even the Wahi.Kanae Bay might just work… After all, we Le-Matoran avoid water almost as much as Po-Matoran.With that, I exited the village. It was one of the few times I was glad to be relatively unknown, for none of the few people who knew me were out and about as I left. As much as I valued their companionship, I was preoccupied by my desire to try out my new instrument.But of course, that was only natural.I made my way to the shoreline, thankful once more for our aversion to water. A few seabirds flew overhead, but other than that there was no sign of life. It was there, on the deserted beach situated before a lush jungle, that I first played my flute.It was just as beautiful as I had hoped it to be. Its sweet melody rose gently into thee, caressing my ears with their loveliness. To me, it felt as if a whole new world had opened up before me, beckoning me to step forward and immerse myself in the music. I wasn’t sure if the sound would carry any great distance, but I imagined for a moment what the other Matoran would say when they heard it. Surely I would get the respect I deserved, now that I had wrought such an incredibly instrument.And then a Kewa bird dropped from the sky. I jumped back, startled by its sudden arrival. The Rahi looked at me with an expectant gaze, its eyes asking me something I could not decipher. I glanced down at my flute, the beginnings of an idea forming in my mind. Had it been summoned by my playing the flute? And if so, would I be able to replicate the task? Playing it once more, I waited to see if another would arrive.It didn’t take long. Within moments, an entire flock of Kewa had descended upon me, each somehow drawn by the melody I had played.Oh yes. A whole new world had indeed opened up before me.

Edited by Despair, Jun 13 2012 - 12:52 AM.

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#2 Offline Velox

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Posted May 30 2012 - 01:12 AM

Official SSCC ReviewI want to start off with the title. I know, shocker, right? Considering it's the first thing I read. But not so much because it is the title, but because of the concept that you showed with the title. I know the title probably isn't something you thought about much, but I couldn't help but thinking of it as I read through the story. Of course there's the obvious fact, that the narrator is in fact an Observer, but you also go much deeper than that. They observe, yes, but so what? The answer to that question is the concept I was talking about earlier. You created this idea where there are people who must observe the things of the MU. I don't know if this is canon or based on canon, but either way the idea is certainly interesting. I realize that there were those Matoran (or whatever species they were lol) that looked after the Mata Nui robot, controlling it, in a way, making sure it worked correctly and whatnot. But this story shows something else: a sad side that people might not realize. That is, that there is someone who has to just sit and observe all day for one reason or another (and while you didn't exactly explain why, that's okay -- I didn't find myself caught up in wondering too much). But again, it's not just that they observe the happenings of the universe, but they observe time itself. Specifically, the past. Then of course you bring in the idea of how they suffer in their observing. Many people would consider history/knowledge to be a treasure, something that is cherished, but you put another light on it: being forced to view the past day after day is not enjoyable, but is indeed torturous. Naturally, after being forced to look at just the past for so long, one would want to view something else -- the future. While the past is important, there comes a time when you just don't care. Who wouldn't want to see the future? And that's something you wrote here well; you described accurately how a character in his position would feel and act based on being forced to observe.Then you bring in the present, which seems to be shrouded in even more mystery -- of course the present could be known, but they are not able to know it, yet they are able to surmise about the future, something you can't really do with the present as it very quickly then becomes the past. If you really had no way of knowing what was going on, you could never actually grasp the present -- you would only know what did happen and you could guess as to what might happen. The main character also realizes the value of time -- the present isn't simply everyone's own time, but it's something greater, something that he cannot see because of his job as an Observer. And you bring up a good point -- not knowing why you're doing something is not a great way to be living; arguably it is not "living in the present" but more of just a limbo. You're living, but not exactly in the present as you do not know what is going on around you. And obviously not being able to grasp time, especially the present, would be a reason for any infuriating emotions one might feel; not knowing is horrible, and you show that well here.Yes I realize I'm rambling now and I apologize, but this really is an interesting concept. Time itself is always an interesting thing to think about...its importance, its purpose, the different phases, etc. So enough of that for now. Moving on: your use of the word "something." With its repetition along with the fact that you italicized it and placed it in quotation marks clearly shows the importance of the word, and so that stood out to me. In a good way. Because that's exactly what it is: "something." He doesn't know what. He can't grasp what that something might be because he doesn't even know the present. He doesn't know if his life is even worth living or not. Which really shows the importance of time -- just by not having a firm grasp on time can cause someone to start questioning their life's worth and/or importance. Of course he would want to know if his sacrifice is worth anything, but that's the problem. He doesn't. But then you bring "visions" into the equation, something that fits very well. Because visions defy time. Through visions, dreams, etc., you can see the past, the future, even the present. Maybe not reality, but you can still see time in one way or another. And that is why he hates them...because he can't know the truth. It only gives him more questions that he doesn't have the answer to. The last sentence really drove this story home, I think. In just a few words you practically summed up the point of the whole story. He lives for the past, yes, because of his job -- he has no say in that matter -- but he dreams of the future. The future where he can know, have knowledge instead of simply being left in the dark as he is now. Then, bringing it all back to the title again: he wants to be an observer. The only problem is, he wants to observe the present and future, not the past. This makes for a very interesting and believable character. He didn't need a lot of characterization and background because of his qualities and his way of thinking, coupled with the idea behind the story itself. So in short? I liked it. I realize I'm completely over-analyzing it, but again: I like the concept. There were no noticeable grammar or spelling mistakes I noticed, and I really only have two criticisms. First, the opening line. To me it's just overused and I don't really see why it's necessary. But, thankfully, the story quickly progressed so that didn't end up leaving a negative impression on me; quite the opposite in fact: I greatly enjoyed this story. The second criticism I have is simply that I wish I could read more. Obviously this was for the flash fiction contest, but as I stated above it really is an interesting concept so it would be cool to see if you did more with it. That said, you were able to pull off something that is often not done well: you were able to take an interesting topic, explain it, tell your story, introduce an interesting character, and wrap it all up all within 600 words without it feeling rushed, so great job on that front. Your writing style is very enjoyable, and you definitely have some great ideas. Keep writing! I'll definitely keep an eye out for some of your future stories. Posted Image
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#3 Offline Kragghle

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Posted May 30 2012 - 11:09 AM

:kaukau: I personally enjoy stories like these that get incredibly deep into the psyche of another being and get us to understand what it's like to think like him or her. I'm especially a fan of your constant focus on time. My sister hates these moments in writing because they require thinking and she thinks that deep moments "take you out of the story". I, on the other hand, look very highly upon this form of art, partially because it legitimately makes you think, and partly because this is what I often write about myself. I especially liked this strand of thought:

Although you could argue that we each had our own time that could be labeled as the present, I believe most of us would agree that that was nonsense.

To me, that's very interesting, and it gets me thinking in multiple different directions, with particular emphasis in the areas of "the reality of the mind" and "do we all perceive color the same?", both of which I have ranted about. What does it mean to live in the present, too? Since you bring up time, there's clearly much to think about. What I love about stories such as these, too, is that they provoke other people to create more profound thoughts, such as Velox here:

But then you bring "visions" into the equation, something that fits very well. Because visions defy time. Through visions, dreams, etc., you can see the past, the future, even the present. Maybe not reality, but you can still see time in one way or another. And that is why he hates them...because he can't know the truth. It only gives him more questions that he doesn't have the answer to.

Right there, Velox hits upon an interesting strand by recognizing that "all of time" isn't the same thing as reality. I find that a very intriguing concept, and one that I remember flooding my mind back in 6th grade.It reminds me of some personal essays I have had read to me in class, and it forms a very good basis for one if you choose to take inspiration from it and adapt it into more formal terms, because the ideas you have going here are strong.My positive review is, of course, biased, because this strongly reflects my own writing style. If you've ever read my stuff, I'm sure you would know that. The only real comment I have that might count as criticism is that there's no real plot to this story. I think that in this particular case that could be a good thing, however, because it was a pleasure to sit down and read a short vignette exploring the reality of a character's thoughts, and this definitely fits into the genre of impressionistic literature.Your Honor,Emperor Kraggh

Edited by Emperor Kraggh, May 30 2012 - 11:18 AM.

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#4 Offline Despair

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Posted May 30 2012 - 02:59 PM

First off, thank you guys so much for the reviews. I honestly don't know what I can say, your comments are just so thoughtful. Definitely far better than anything I could ever say in a review.VeloxI certainly didn't put that much thought into the title, but I see what you mean. And as for why they observe the past... I have an explanation, but it might ruin the feel of the story if I explained it. If I ever write with this character again, I'll be sure to explain why they are forced to live their lives that way.Wow, I typed that and immediately got a whole bunch of ideas. Guess I know what I'm doing once the contest is over. ^_^I originally got the idea from another idea of mine, which is a person with the entire human history trapped within their mind. At first I thought it'd be cool (History class would certainly never pose a problem), but the more I thought about it the more I realized how awful that could be. What I put into this story was a slightly altered version of that, and I'm very glad I was able to convey the suffering the character goes through.I wouldn't call that over-analyzing; rather, it's simply examining the inner mechanisms of the story to a degree that most people wouldn't. Your analysis is very well thought-out, and I'm really happy that something I wrote could provoke someone into thought in such a manner.As for the first line...When I started writing this story, I didn't quite have the same idea of where I wanted to go with it as I did by the time I finished writing it. All I really knew was that time would be involved, and that that phrase had the word "time" in it twice. So I used it, even when (as you said) it is overused. I was also afraid that I wouldn't be able to include enough BIONICLE elements in the actual story, so I guess I kinda forced it in there.Emperor KragghPlease don't even get me started on the "Do we all perceive color in the same way?" thing. There are instances when I spend hours wondering that, and it gives me a massive headache every time. So apparently we have thought the same thing at least once before. XDBut seriously, I'm glad you liked it. This was both my first time writing in first person and also writing something designed to provoke thought while not sacrificing the overall enjoyment of the story (which is just a fancy way of saying most of the stuff I've written before now has been a bit more action-oriented). I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed writing in first person, so if I ever continue this story I'll likely try to use it again.I honestly would have never thought to compare my writing with yours; it often seems to me like you are on a completely different (and far superior level) than I am in regards to writing skill and storytelling ability. However, that's an incredible thing to be told, so thank you very much. :DOne again, I'd like to thank you guys for the feedback. I really appreciate seeing what other people think about my stories.
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#5 Offline Tolkien

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Posted Jun 14 2012 - 11:48 PM

Hello, Despair (wow, that sounds…metaphorical). Here is one of three flash fiction reviews from the SSCC! Owing to its three-part nature (and the short length of the story at hand), this should be more of a “mini-review.” That is, unless I get carried away. We’ll see.---------Story: "Arrival"First impressions: Quite a grim take on the classic ‘Arrival of the Toa’ story. I think it fits the Alternate Universe theme quite well. Although you have limited space, I think you’ve used the words you have very effectively. The sudden twist at the end of the first paragraph and the lines that follow are wrenching and eerie, and they add a very dark tone to the story overall. Nicely done.Critique: In terms of writing structure, I don’t see much that I would change. There’s some good description, particularly at the beginning, describing the surroundings of the cylinder, and then throughout as you note the reaction of the wildlife to Tahu’s emergence.One point that might be improved is the progression of the action in the following section:

The being looked down at his sword, as if hearing the voice of his weapon and its cry for devastation. Slowly, the sword was pointed at the nearby forest. The trees themselves seemed to shy away from the spectacle, as if they knew what was about to happen and wished to somehow wished to escape their fate. Unfortunately, they had no chance for escape; a pillar of fire quickly shot out from the sword and began to consume everything that stood before the being of fire and destruction.

When I read this portion, I felt like it needed to be more abrupt—more of a shock for the reader. As it is, the process of Tahu raising his sword, pointing at the forest, the “reaction” of the forest, and then finally the occurrence of the action seems a bit too slow.You might improve this simply by delaying the point at which Tahu raises his sword and making it coincide with the blast of fire. The trick is to slowly increase the tension until it finally snaps.Other than that, this is a tightly written tale. Well done!One nitpick, though:

The trees themselves seemed to shy away from the spectacle, as if they knew what was about to happen and wished to somehow wished to escape their fate.

JRRT

Edited by Tolkien, Jun 14 2012 - 11:49 PM.

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