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Contest April-May 2020 Short Story Contest Reading and Voting Thread

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, May 1, 2020.

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Which Story or Stories Do You Like Best? (choose up to four)

Poll closed May 31, 2020.
  1. Story One: "Bowl of Blood"

    6 vote(s)
    35.3%
  2. Story Two: "Abomination"

    7 vote(s)
    41.2%
  3. Story Three: "Awīak"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  4. Story Four: "Lost and Found"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  5. Story Five: "Return of the King"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  6. Story Six: "Fire of the Old Ones"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  7. Story Seven: "Prayers for Vengeance"

    5 vote(s)
    29.4%
  8. Story Eight: "Tipping the Scales"

    5 vote(s)
    29.4%
  9. Story Nine: "Praying for Reasons, Praying for a Purpose"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  10. Story Ten: "The Ritual"

    7 vote(s)
    41.2%
  11. Story Eleven: "Blooded Water"

    5 vote(s)
    29.4%
  12. Story Twelve: "The Bloodswamp War (part 1)"

    2 vote(s)
    11.8%
  13. Story Thirteen: "Ask and It Will Be Given"

    6 vote(s)
    35.3%
  14. Story Fourteen: "Tzeentchian Rituals"

    5 vote(s)
    29.4%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    that's because clearly you did not paid attention to MY previous commentary. Shame on you! :p
     
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  2. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    F**k!!!!!

    Good point, I hang my head in shame.....
     
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  3. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Pretty sure you intend "marlecht"! :D
     
  4. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    I find that a rather strong term.

    I went with the Ewok “F’yk” (pronounced “F-EEEEEEEEEEEEEK”) to use a term which, while still strong, isn’t at the level of curse as “marlecht”.

    For the record, you can hear the Ewoks using this swear word during the Battle of Endor when they get shot.

    :p

    @NIGHTBRINGER @Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
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  5. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Skink Chief

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    There was actually this interesting optical illusion a while back that sparked quite a lot of debate on whether this thing was a bird or a bunny.
     
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  6. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Slann

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Eleventh Spawning

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    Pity we didn’t hear enough of them saying it, or else Episode VI would have been 10 times better. Get rid of the second Death Star mcguffin and it would have been 100 times better
     
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  7. Warden
    Slann

    Warden Tenth Spawning

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    Fantastic early reviews and great stories so far!

    Agreed :D
     
  8. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    We need more reviews and more engagement, this thread has kind of atrophied.

    Also, some people miss-spell swear words to avoid censorship. You do not have to miss-spell "mahrlect."
     
  9. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Agree.
    I'm happy that everyone got at least 1 vote. I would be happier if my story was higher in the ranking, though. :p
     
  10. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Slann

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Eleventh Spawning

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    Well, I'm still working on my reviews - it's slower progress when you've got 14 stories to read :rolleyes:
     
  11. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    I don't trust that I could give my own story an impartial review so I find it difficult to do one that doesn't reveal which one I wrote... :oops:
     
  12. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    The trick is to hate your own work :)

    I've spoken to writers who do say they hate their own work and it drives them to excellence,

    I actually don't hate my own work, but I am comfortable picking it apart.
     
  13. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Well, that’s quite a good skill you have then.

    I haven’t written that much, mainly because I second guess myself and self-flagellate at the drop of a hat on creative things like that. So I get an idea, write a story as best I can and then end off on it.

    What I have been doing (and will continue to do) is promoting the contest on the profile flickers very regularly.
     
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  14. Carnikang
    Carnasaur

    Carnikang Well-Known Member

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    I really enjoy reviews, but always find it difficult to articulate what I think about a story. I can write things, about things, about feeling and all that, but critiquing a story or piece of work just never feels right to me.

    Much rather pop some popcorn and read people tearing into my own.
     
  15. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Well now that I have organized the basic metadata, I can verify that this is only your third story contest entry.

    I'd be happy to tear into your story every three months if you would like! Just enter more contests. Of course you can get constructive criticism from any story you post here, not just during contests.
     
  16. Lizerd
    Skink Priest

    Lizerd Well-Known Member

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    I hate my own work! But rather than constructively criticize it to find flaws i only look at the negatives, ignore the positives then contemplate my life choices
     
  17. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
    Slann

    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Eleventh Spawning

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    As there are so many stories to review this time around, I’ll be making two posts’ worth of reviews. Here are the first 7 of said reviews:

    Straightaway we’re treated to a pretty grimdark story this time! Everyone knows I love my grimdark stories, and this one certainly fits that bill. It revolves around Lizardmen sports teams playing games of ‘Pok Tok’ (which seems to be the Lizardman name for Blood Bowl given the title and player positions like ‘lineman’ and ‘star player’) against each other. I like how the different teams are discerned by their worship of different deities as opposed to location, that was well thought-out.

    First up are a series of games against a motley crew of captured humans. Of course the Lizardmen, who have most likely been training all week for this, wipe the floor with them every time, and when they finally tire of these captives the High Priest has them sacrificed to Sotek in a disturbing echo of Roman gladiatorial arenas.

    Next is a game between the Sotek Stegadons and the Tzunki Terradons, which turns into a rout when a Skink star player arrives and proceeds to dominate the game. To make matters worse, this star player then has the gall to demand that the opposing team, despite being Lizardmen, be sacrificed just because they lost one game. Of course this is more understandable when we find out that this chap is none other than Tehenhauin himself, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the very idea of sacrificing a fellow Lizardman seems abhorrent to the masses. Determined to avoid such an act (especially as it’s his favourite team that’s to get the chop) the High Priest attempts to denounce the player as an impostor, but that claim is made more dubious in the eyes of the masses when upon the player’s own cue, Morrsleib obscures the sun in an eclipse. Believing this to be a sign, the crowds readily pledge loyalty to him in desperation to save their jungle from the Chaos Moon and join his plea to have the losing team sacrificed - now outnumbered and forced to bow to the will of the crowds, the Priest has no choice but to give the order. An especially grim story that showcases how religion can so easily get out of hand if people use it for their own ends. Religion is infallible, but the people who follow them are not, and Lizardmen seem to be no exception.

    Delightful, another grimdark one! Like the previous one, this tale preaches of the flaws of religion, although this one examines a different flaw in a different way. Where the previous one warned of the zealousness of religion, this one warns of its dogma and inflexibility (there are certainly vibes of Darwin vs Christianity throughout). We are introduced to the Skink Biomancer Styn, originally commissioned to research bio-weapon manufacture, who has, after countless hours of work, been able to create life where it was previously deemed impossible, as a newly-formed Skink is birthed from a spawning pool as a result of his machinations.

    While the new Skink is very naive and simple-minded, he is nevertheless proof of the triumph of Styn’s science, and in some ways this is what angers the Skink Priest who arrives to inspect his work and discovers his new creation - because new spawnings can now be triggered by one Skink’s machinations, it puts into question whether the Old Ones really exist, if they were supposed to be the only ones able to summon new spawnings. In other ways it could be seen as an insult to the Old Ones to allow mortals to be given the privileges that they previously have enjoyed alone. It is a combination of both that compels Mobotl to order the execution of both Styn and his creation, but as he does so Styn makes use of one of his newly-invented bio-weapons to cover him in Troglodon acid. Realising that this has now only made his situation worse, Styn attempts to smuggle his creation to Xlanhuapec, but before they can even leave his laboratory they are confronted by a cohort of Temple Guard. Though the pair’s fate is left unclear, it is extremely unlikely they would survive given that the Temple Guard spot the Priest’s corroded corpse and all that Styn has is a weapon that can hit only one individual at a time.

    While it could be questioned that there is ever a ritual in this piece (rituals are usually done with a religious purpose), there is no denying that it is extremely well written with an especially tragic ending, the result of which is made all the more hypocritical given that it was the Priests that had hired Styn in the first place - obviously while the Lizardman religion objects to mortals creating new life (something humans have been doing ever since they first evolved), it has no qualms about developing biological weaponry.

    After two tales of raw undiluted grimdarkness, it’s nice to have a light-hearted story to calm the nerves a little, and this fits the bill well. When one starts reading you wonder who this Awīak could be, whether he’s a Kroxigor, a brave Saurus hero or even a mighty Carnosaur, but you gradually find that it’s a name given to one of least likely possible animals to feature in a story revolving around Lizardmen - a small tortoiseshell kitten. How it could have got to a lethal environment like Lustria is a mystery, let alone how it could have survived in a world riddled with predators like Cold Ones, Carnosaurs and Dread Saurians, but survived he has, as our Skink Priest protagonist finds out.

    The little cat then proves himself to be an especial handful like most of his kind, biting Zazec on the finger, leading him on a merry climb up a tree only to find his own way down again and squeezing under a rock through a gap that you’d think wouldn’t possibly fit him but somehow does (I can imagine real cats in our world doing the exact same exasperating things - whoever wrote this must be a cat owner for sure). However, all of the stress and pain in such a venture finally proves to be worth it when hordes of Skaven attacking the ruins of Itza suddenly turn tail and flee at the sight and smell of the little kitten, saving the Lizardman defenders from what could have been a devastating defeat. As a reward, he is given a little collar of his own and is granted the finest pieces of sacrificed-Skaven meat for his dinner. Not bad for a kitten lost and alone in the jungle only a few hours before.

    Like the previous story, it’s a little unclear on what the rituals and religious practices are here (unless it’s either the ceremony where the kitten receives his collar or the sacrificing of the captured Skaven, but both of those are quite minor at the end), but otherwise I say what a nice little piece this is. It captures the relationship between the Skink Priest and his new ‘pet’ beautifully, especially all the trials and tribulations that come with it. A story that will make any reader giggle.

    EDIT: This is also the only comedic piece this time around, so by default I award the Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Comedy Award for April-May 2020 to ‘Awīak’!

    Our first Age of Sigmar piece this time round features a group of Wood Elves running from a host of undead, only to find themselves confronted by another threat - an army of Seraphon, which destroys the undead horde but captures the Elves as well. They are taken into a Coalesced Temple-City, where a procession of Seraphon troops solemnly leads them to the central temple, where they are escorted up the steps to the altar. The Khorne Bloodbound prisoners attempt to escape, but are executed on the spot for their trouble, and the Skaven prisoners have their hearts brutally ripped out in praise of Sotek and the Old Ones, before a captured Vampire is sacrificed at the apex of the ritual. We then find out what the Seraphon are up to, as a familiar comet with two tails graces the sky. As all the Seraphon stare up at it in reverence, the Elves make their bid to escape. Curiously even though they are impudent warm-bloods like the rest of the prisoners, the Lizardmen are indifferent at seeing them go, and this allows them to safely return to the Free City they serve.

    Not the most original of stories, as having outsiders being captured, dragged into Lizardman Temple-Cities and witnessing the Lizardman lifestyle has been the plot line of stories revolving around the Lizardmen ever since their first army books were produced in the Fantasy era. Additionally there seems to be some confusion with regular Legions of Nagash armies and the Ossiarch Bonereapers (which field Kavalos Deathriders rather than Black Knights). However, it clearly and skilfully describes a ritual to summon the Twin-Tailed Comet of Sotek, which makes it fit the theme very nicely, and I especially enjoyed seeing Lizardmen defeating a Vampire Counts army and sacrificing a filthy Vampire upon their altars, which we don’t see that often and makes a change from the usual suspects (even though some of them die horribly too as the bulk of the sacrifice to the Serpent-God). Certainly an enjoyable piece to read, and a nice way of fleshing out the Coalesced a bit more as the link between the Lizardmen of old and the Seraphon of the Age of Sigmar.

    Guess who’s back? Settra’s back, and this story brings him into the Age of Sigmar with the utmost respect!

    This tale begins with a council of Slann Mage-Priests as they discuss the escape from prison of a mysterious figure known only to them as ‘the Conqueror’, but they have one chance to stop him - while the Conqueror’s soul is free, he doesn’t have anybody to go with (pun intended), so, desperate to make sure that this individual doesn’t interfere in the Great Plan, the Slann intend to tighten their grip upon the Mortal Realms.

    Meanwhile, down on the surface of Ghur, a young apprentice called Khadir starts to hear a voice in his head, that of someone who only calls himself ‘the True King’. When presented with a request to follow the voice’s demands for ingredients for a ritual, with the reward of having his life elevated beyond that of a put-upon student, the boy readily agrees, and so begins the process of gathering said ingredients and hiding them out of sight until it is time for the ritual to commence. The enchantments he has been told to recite are intoned toward the statue of Sigmar in the centre of the town, causing it to change its form to resemble a completely different individual, before it comes to life and steps down from its plinth. Saurus Warriors are sent down by the Slann to fight the statue, who they believe to be the Conqueror, but it dispatches them with ease. The Slann resort to desperate measures and summon a comet down from the heavens, reasoning that a few warm-blood lives are a small price to pay to stop the Conqueror, but the statue is more powerful than even they can imagine and deflects the comet right back to their Temple Ship to destroy it. With the Star-Lizards sent packing, the statue then proclaims himself to be Settra and claims not just the settlement but the whole realm of Ghur as his new kingdom (don’t tell Gordrakk) in especially regal fashion.

    This story was an especially long one, but it is worth it when you get to the very end and finally find out who the Conqueror/The True King is and his significance to the world - keeping the real name of the being secret until the very last line constantly had me guessing. Couple this with a clear ritual as part of the plot fitting nicely with the theme and great descriptions of settings and characters across the fold (with especial respect to Settra), and you have a very promising story. The only thing I would say is that it is stretching realism a bit, even in a fantasy story, to have a being be able to deflect a comet - it took all of a Slann’s strength to simply change its course, so Settra’s new incarnation must be incredibly powerful to actively deflect one back. But then, in order to beat an OP Nagash, Settra would have to be OP himself to have the best chance of doing so. Certainly a great read!

    This piece is one of the most interesting I’ve read in a long time, and gives a nice link between the Lizardmen and the Aztecs they were based upon.

    We are initially presented with a Lizardman hunting party having returned with the spoils of war taken from defeating some shipwrecked Old-Worlders, the Saurus leading the group carrying a long stick that he uses to knock aside spiders’ webs and undergrowth as the party trek home. When they reach their Temple-City, they take everything that they have collected to the main Temple for analysis by the resident Priesthood, and apart from sorting any bladed weapons they find to be sent to the armoury, they leave everything there to be burnt as a sacrifice to the Old Ones. Yet the stick that the Saurus found was no ordinary stick, but a firearm, most likely an Imperial Handgun, and when it is thrown into the flames as part of the sacrifice, the gunpowder still inside it causes it to detonate in a big explosion, knocking the attendant Priest to the ground and shocking everyone there. This unusual occurrence is interpreted as a sign that the Old Ones appreciate the gifts sacrificed to them, and though the Saurus was briefly tempted to take the firearm for himself to keep as a stick for parting spider webs, he is reconciled by this new interpretation.

    This is a most fascinating take on proposing what the Lizardmen would think of such an item, and certainly I imagine the Aztecs the Lizardmen were based on would have been similarly puzzled as to the purpose of these strange wooden sticks when they first saw them (before the Spanish started using them on them). Because Saurus are pragmatic and have relatively little imagination, they wouldn’t think of exploring the artefact to see how it worked (that would be what a Skink would do), but would just use it for whatever immediate purpose they would think of (in this case as almost like a swagger-stick). A really enjoyable tale that not only contains a ritual as per the theme but also fits Lizardman lore seamlessly.

    This one is another extremely interesting piece, because it’s probably the one story I’ve seen that features two protagonists rather than one, and both are swearing vengeance against each other.

    We are first met with the Skink Chief called Tekakor, who visits a small temple dedicated to the Old One of vengeance, Xapati, after he fought in a battle to defend the City of Shadows, Xahutec, against a Dark Elf army. We then meet the Dark Elf Black Ark Corsair Iliphar, who at the same time invokes the wrath of the Elf goddess of revenge, Drakira, after he fought in a raid against the ruins of a Lizardman City. We hear the accounts of both protagonists detailing their points of view of the same battle, riven with all the tactical nuances a battle in Warhammer Fantasy can have. Both protagonists fight hard and perform feats of heroism that leave numerous dead on both sides. Ultimately the Lizardmen retain hold of the ruins, and the Dark Elves escape with prisoners and treasure aplenty, both believing they have won a close victory against the other, but neither can forget the face of the commander of the enemy force, who they are eager for vengeance against to please their gods.

    This story was a fantastically unique piece that excellently captures the points of view of rival commanders, and brilliantly describes one of the many unrecorded battles that have occurred in the history of the Warhammer Fantasy world. The only thing I would say is that some of the wording is mismatched and some grammar is incorrect, but that seems almost churlish when the story itself is so well presented, and that this is probably one of the best stories to involve rituals I’ve seen, as the plot revolves around both characters’ rituals the entire time. We have an especially original and well-thought-out piece here!

    I’m still working on the next 7 reviews (got up to reviewing Story 9, will be working on 10 and hopefully 11 tomorrow), and should have them all done and my votes in by around Sunday (so don’t anyone wrap up the contest result until then - I remember what happened last time @Scalenex ;)).
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
  18. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    tnx, it was much needed. ;)
     
  19. hanskurt
    Skink

    hanskurt Member

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    Lots of good entries.

    The hardest part about these competitions, is that, when you see other people's entries, you would want like anything, to go back and do your story again!

    It requires strong nerves!
     
  20. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    [​IMG]
     

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