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Rock, Paper, Scissors

short story

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3 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Willy Brandt

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Posted Mar 21 2013 - 11:27 AM

The piercing scream of a, probably last, member of a moribund species shattered the frozen, paralytic silence of the Nindortharn Pass and was then suddenly cut short by the termination of the last individual of this species.

 

Typically, this was anything but a quiet pass. Typically, every lovely morning, dozens of people trekked down this road by the river Algorich, making their way beyond the Valley of Nindor and on to the Thaesterian lowlands. This was a relatively notable trade artery that axed through the valley, nudging the only local major city of Nindorlach and pressing on northeastward into the wastelands. Merchants who sought to set up trade relations with the northerners and the orcs (although a common joke in the Nindor said there was really no difference) often took this path to avoid gnome country and the resultant cross-border taxation.

 

Tonight wasn’t quiet, yes, but it wasn’t typical, either. Lightning slashed the sky and the water of the river Algorich tumultuously whirled round and round – up, up and out of the actual riverbed. This resultant column of water then swung round, aiming for the head of an unfortunate individual not too far away – well, not too unfortunate. Drawing a two-handed sword, this individual spun round, drawing a wide arc in the air. His weapon glowed like a thousand suns in the darkest night, and the column broke. It shattered in midflight as the wind howled, carrying a million water drops – the spawn of that collapsed column – off to parts unknown.

 

He wasn’t a tall man, barely taller than an average fourteen year old. His wind-weathered face spoke of a hundred battles, this one being merely, by his expression, a trifle. He had a short nose and dark (albeit slowly graying), short hair, barely going further down than his ears, wore a suit of plate armor and looked as if his best days were long gone, or he was at least telling himself as much.

 

Lightning struck, again, but this time not from the skies, but from the left hand of a cloaked figure standing about a hundred paces away. In the right one they grasped an ethereal, translucent sword with a bright purple glow.

 

The swordsman jumped out of the path of the lightning bolt, letting another participant of this surreal battle take point. She wore no armor; just a plain dark green robe that would’ve offered her no protection from swords or axes. She was young – definitely younger than the swordsman – and youth, in all its splendor, still shone from her gentle, beautiful face, and from the bright red, living color of her long hair.

Raising her hand in a clenched fist, she quickly made a set of signs in the air, drawing wide arcs with her fingers. Stretching out her left hand, she, herself, flung a lightning bolt at the one rapidly approaching her. The bolts collided and shattered, making way for the fourth combatant in this battle of the supernatural and supralogical.

 

He wasn’t tall, either. It was usually rare for an elf to be taller than a human, it often being vice-versa. Wearing a suit of leather armor, an expression of mild irritation and a head of spiky, silver-white hair (by no means in any way implying that he was old), this Elven youth charged the cloaked figure, devouring those hundred paces as if they were hamburgers, broadsword in one hand, dagger in the other.

 

The wind seemed to blow in the precisely right direction tonight as it swept after the elf, urging him on. Naturally, the cloaked figure wasn’t going to stand down as easily. A sequence of three fireballs flew at the whitehair, who, arm stretched out to the right, rolled aside, using his hand as leverage to jump back to his feet as if nothing had happened and push himself back into a sprint forward. On the left hand side of this battlefield, the two-hand swordsman joined him in this charge, although his heavy armor and sword made him significantly slower.

 

The cloaked figure, in their confusion and being caught off guard, found themselves doing the one logical thing they still could – spikes from the ground. Making two quick palm movements in the air, the trio’s opponent uprooted the earth itself, making large stone formations as sharp as daggers emerge from the ground right in the paths of the two swordsmen.

 

Unfortunately to the figure, that was precisely what they were expecting.

 

The whitehair elf fell forward as the spikes rose. For a moment, you’d have been expecting him to take one right through the heart. However, an elf was not a human, and that had certain extra bonuses when it came to agility.

 

His hand stretched out, grasping at this forming stalagmite’s tip, and in an action almost too quick to make out, he handwalked his way over the spike. The cloaked magician was, needless to say, surprised; but that did not stop him from getting his act back together quick enough to face the elf, ready for a duel with ethereal sword in hand.

 

The elf stood, facing the figure, and, almost absentmindedly, puffed slightly upwards, towards a loose strand of his hair.

 

“Well, now,” he muttered, “that was interesting. Never thought I could do that. Well. Let’s get on with your skewering into pieces, then, ar’taith.”

 

The piercing scream of a member of another moribund species pierced and shattered the silence of the Nindortharn Pass.

 

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

 

“As they say in Dhasallia,” the white-haired elf said, placing three tankards nigh overflowing with ale on a table in a dark, damp room in an equally dark, equally damp tavern before his two comrades, “good work, guys. Another two or three such jobs and we’ll be able to relax a while. Maybe buy a villa somewhere down south.”

 

Tara – for that was the name of the redhead mage member of this group – sighed. Every time they even so vaguely spoke of future plans, her Elven brother-in-arms would mention a villa in the south, and his eyes would glaze over with dreams of such a villa. She didn’t mind it in any way, it’s just that whenever asked why this villa mattered so much, he’d say nothing but, ‘No reason’ and that irked her quite a lot, because she felt like, for some reason, she needed to know.

 

“Pipe dreams, Aercadh,” the older man muttered under his nose, “I thought we agreed. We reach our goal of two thousand gold crowns, and then I quit. Get out of Thaesteria, get out of these wild borderlands and, taking half of that, I head south and back home to Dhasallia, where I would finally retire. You two, splitting those two quarters left, won’t afford a villa down in the south. Think of how far it is, how much the food’s gonna cost, how much---“

 

“Enough, Darmod, I get it.”

 

Darmod. That was an interesting name, thought Aercadh.

 

It wasn’t Dhasallian, certainly, despite Darmod continuously claiming he was from there. It might’ve been some human barbarization of the elvish name Diarmuidh, or one of its variants. Not exactly the sort of name that hints at one’s origins. Such names often occured within families of mixed human and Elven roots, or within Elven families that had gotten slightly better off and adapted better to human society – but Darmod looked neither Elven nor half-Elven by any standard.

 

Aercadh, himself, came from the west of Thaesteria, from a small Elven ghetto in an even smaller town popularly referred to as a hellhole. Every morning you would be roused from your sleep by a scent best described as an amalgamation of the subtle textures of dog dung and cow fart, and as you walked down the street you had to be careful not to trip over sleeping hobos. The bright side of living there – the only bright side – was that the ghetto’s population constituting an overall majority of the town’s inhabitants, there was no real notable discrimination against elves.

 

Well, except on holidays. Tradition.

 

“Irrespective of what we’ll actually do with the money,” Tara muttered, rousing the other two from their respective moments of being lost in thought, “we still need to earn it. And I rather hope that you won’t waste what we earned today on ale. These are the last pints you’re getting today.”

 

These words provoked a low if only slightly amused whine from Aercadh.

 

“Tara, you’re such a spoilsport---”

 

“No, shut up, Aercadh. You know very well what happens when you start drinking.”

 

Aercadh let out another low grovel and shot Tara an amused smile. “Fine,” he finally said and took a gulp from his pint. Tara sighed, and shot a look out the inn’s window, where, in the distant east, the sun was starting a weary, slow ascent through the sky.

 

“Tara,” he said, quietly, “what will you do with your part of the money?”

 

“My part of the money?” she echoed, a curious expression on her face, as she seemingly drifted away from the conversation entirely, her eyes distant and glazed with an air that only dreamers ever have. “Well,” she said awhile later, “I think I’d just do what I’m doing right now. Doing whatever I can to survive. The Order of Magi doesn’t like illegal mages like me, remember? Sitting in one place is unhealthy for me.”

 

“You’re a pretty sad person,” Aercadh replied, simply, his face remarkably serious for that sort of statement.

 

“What?”

 

“I mean, really. You can’t ever have a home. Tara, you say sitting in one place is literally unhealthy to you, and that’s pretty darn true – well, you’re gonna die if you sit in one place, yeah. Someone’s gonna come around and cleave your pretty head off. But not sitting in one place, never… is really unhealthy to anyone, Tara. Settling down is a thing you ought to do sometime. And you can’t even do that, because that particular option was forcibly taken from you.”

 

Tara opened her mouth, closed it again, and then just smiled. A smile incredibly shy for her.

 

“Wow, Aercadh, that was pretty intelligent for you. I’m surprised. Pleasantly.”

 

“It’s the ale. Like you said. I really shouldn’t drink more.”

 

She laughed. Aercadh laughed, too. Even old man Darmod managed a grin, and out the window, the sun finally emerged from beyond the horizon.

 

“Okay, fine,” Tara said, a few moments later, and grinned. “You can have one more pint.”

 

-----------------[color=rgb(178,34,34);]This is one of those short stories which, after writing, I find myself asking, "What the heck was I trying to say with this?" - there's no overarching plot nor plot twist, just the introduction of three characters and a battle scene. Then again, most of my short stories tend to be either experimental or... practice, so it worked quite well in that regard. Anyway. Comments appreciated.[/color]

[color=rgb(178,34,34);]-Dovydas[/color]


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91h1.png

critical acclaim:

"All I know is I'll be playing it because it's awesome. And that's about all that really matters." - Toa Levacius Zehvor

"Without a doubt, worth every post.

So like three if you're me." - The Doc

"Despite nobody mentioning me specifically at all in their speechy thingy even though I'm a good friend of all three staff members (or so I thought </3), GoMN is still an objectively good game and should be voted for. Alongside Spirits of the Ice, because, well, y'know. #shamless plug" -Kal Grochi

 


#2 Offline The Otter

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Posted Apr 01 2013 - 02:09 PM

Well, I gathered that they were doing something quite similar to bounty hunter work, and stuff like that, and that they were doing it so they could make money, Darmod could retire, Aercadh could buy a villa somewhere down south, and Tara could...be Tara.

 

Your little note at the bottom explained that you weren't really doing much by writing this other than writing, which is good, though I would've liked a bit more information as to what all is exactly happening in the world making them do what they do, why the Elves are discriminated against, and a bit more characterization, maybe something like that, but I dunno. My main hope now is that you'll write more stories in this setting to flesh it out a bit more, to add more to the setting of it all, if still not giving it some sort of plot.

 

For what it is, like you said, it worked well, though it left me wanting a bit more behind it. Right now it's like a single wall to a house. Sure, it's cool, but without the other four and a roof it doesn't do much.

 

EDIT: Oh, is it just me, or are your elves based on Goidelic culture by any chance? xP


Edited by Ilyusha Blokfase, Apr 01 2013 - 02:12 PM.

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#3 Offline Willy Brandt

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Posted Apr 01 2013 - 02:17 PM

[color=rgb(178,34,34);]Mate, I've written tons of stuff in this setting, you just haven't read any. And a good thing too, because tons of that stuff is old. :D[/color]

 

[color=rgb(178,34,34);]Anyway, yeah, my elves are very, very Gaelic. And yeah, I'm planning to write some more about these guys. Six seasons and a movie.[/color]

[color=rgb(178,34,34);]-Dovydas[/color]


Edited by Eduard Bernstein, Apr 01 2013 - 02:18 PM.

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91h1.png

critical acclaim:

"All I know is I'll be playing it because it's awesome. And that's about all that really matters." - Toa Levacius Zehvor

"Without a doubt, worth every post.

So like three if you're me." - The Doc

"Despite nobody mentioning me specifically at all in their speechy thingy even though I'm a good friend of all three staff members (or so I thought </3), GoMN is still an objectively good game and should be voted for. Alongside Spirits of the Ice, because, well, y'know. #shamless plug" -Kal Grochi

 


#4 Offline Zaxvo

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Posted Jun 18 2013 - 12:55 PM

Hey, its Zaxvo here from the SSCC. Your story has been selected for a free review!Woah. Woah woah woah. Before we get into the review proper, that first of yours is far to wordy and awkward. first of all, its not relevant at all to the rest of the story...and if it is, youre not making the connection between that first line and the rest of the tale clear enough. Was there another mysterious hooded guy that our three musketeers were hunting? Where did he go? How did he die? Which one of them killed him? The only suggestion to that is the recurring use of the word moribund which, I must admit, I hadnt heard before.Now as for that first sentence, I feel it would be much easier to simply say, The piercing scream of what was quite possibly the last male orc [or goblin, or elf, or whatever. Name the species. Dont be so vague!] shattered the frozen, paralytic silence of the Nindortham Pass and was suddenly cut short by his [or her death, for that matter] death.My point is, the sentence is far far to vague. So vague that we dont even know if this individual is male or female.Now, as you yourself acknowledge at the end, this isnt a grand story with some plot twist or message. In my opinion, its good that you have acknowledged that. Writing for writings sake is an excellent practice, and its great to see the results of that practice. Youve created an incredible world here and populated it with people of potentially many secrets and possible futures. The only thing I can provide you is more encouragement, because honestly, Im intrigued. Its a rich setting, full of possibilities. Write more.With that being said, as I touched upon above, your writing is far too vague. for example, the cloaked figure is never given a gender or species, or a reason to be killed. Was he/she/it a criminal? What did they do? Why are they the last of their species? Or, going in another direction, how did the three meet? Why are they working together? You touch upon their end goal, but how realistic is that goal? Why is Tara, obviously the youngest (and least experienced?) seemingly in charge?You leave me with more questions than I have answers. In some cases thats good; it can prime the readers or keep them in suspense, but in this quantity there are just not enough details.Overall, a brilliant example of world/setting creation, but it could use a little more flesh on the characters bones, so to speak. Keep writing :)And lastly, I couldnt help but notice a distinct D&D influence: the classic trio of a warrior, mage, and rogue, the elves having extra bonuses when it came to agility, etc. Just thought Id point that out; its an interesting allusion to make, although it is fitting in a fantasy story such as this.
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