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Fiction Digitized Stash of Paradoxical Short Stories

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Paradoxical Pacifism, Sep 23, 2018.

  1. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Carnasaur

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    Fun little poem I thought of while listening to the legendary Nujabes. It's about a lizard pondering on the futility of life. It also poses a question I think about from time to time: Do lizards not have any memories of their spawning much like us humans not having any recollections of our own births?

    Funny Life


    memory of my Spawning flees me
    water Thrashing all that is left
    much like my little fellow fish
    Fighting with such bravery
    memory of my Spawning flees me
    water Thrashing all that is left
    lying dead the fish
    its ending in Peace
     
    Imrahil, Nazqua and Lizards of Renown like this.
  2. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Carnasaur

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    Around the time the theme for the short story contest was announced, I was indulging in The Witcher. Not the books nor the Netflix series, but the video game trilogy. More specifically, the first game released in 2007. Its graphics remind me of the PS2 days and its game engine makes it feel like it was literally made in the 90s, especially with the way it rendered npcs at long ranges. But despite these visual faults and a combat system more frustrating than unique, It was one of the most engaging and immersive games to play through. Most of the immersion could probably be chalked up to an amazing OST which fit the grimdark and somber tone so well, but also many of the story's themes. One of them is the constant persecution of minorities by a dominant society. In the Witcher, it's the Elves, dwarfs, gnomes, and other fantasy demi humans we all love that are of the minority and oppressed. It's interesting to me that it isn't the other way around since building a world in which humans are persecuted would be more relatable, but placing awe-inspiring, exotic races such as the elves and dwarfs in this role instead is a nice twist imo. Anyway, I really loved this aspect of the game, because many of the ideas, messages, and themes pertaining to race found in this world of sorcery and horrific monsters aren't so different from what I see from my window. The relatability is strong with the Witcher's worldbuilding, and i'll probably provide more details/examples later as to why because I haven't even talked about my story yet :confused: .

    The idea of writing the lizardmen, an awe-inspiring, exotic race, as a persecuted minority came to me because of playing The Witcher. But also because of Killer Angel's theme, which made writing my idea a bit easier imo. The possibility of the Empire and other states having the necessary logistics to not only win over the lizardmen, but also maintain rule over them is next to zero. So this implausibility was what motivated me to base the story off it anyway :D . Another important idea in my brainstorming was the concept of cultural appropriation. I'm probably pulling the pin of a grenade and guessing whether it'll explode in my hands talons by bringing up this topic, but please, I only bring it up because it was important in the brainstorming of my story. It always interested me how African American culture had permeated the United States despite the harsh amounts of oppression and racial hatred they experienced, especially during the early decades of the 20th century. Native American cultures have continued to be used in commercialism, and nomenclature in the military despite many genocides done against them. This paper does this controversial topic much justice, and reading it among some others made me realize culture in general is considerably more abstract and fickle than I ever thought.

    This abstractness made me wonder what aspects of lizardmen culture would look like if the Empire of man was in continual contact with the lizzies through subjugation. What purpose would the Cult of Sotek have in the Empire of Man in which religious zealotry against the ratmen was a valued virtue? How would the imperial colleges of magic appreciate the lizardmen’s incredible command of the winds of magic?

    I wanted to write a perspective from a lizard in which they experience in their view the degradation of their own culture. And because of the contest’s theme, writing all of it in First-Person was satisfactory too since I haven’t done that point of view before. I also really, REALLY, wanted a scene depicting a saurus getting beaten up, but not fighting back. I was thinking it would represent the lizardmen’s hopelessness but also their resiliency. Not to mention it’d be pretty shocking to see a saurus not fighting back in a story on LO.

    I Also intended there to be many side characters, all having about the same depth as the main character, just like The Witcher. Unfortunately, this didn’t pan out the way I wanted. It all seemed a very tough challenge, so I removed the side characters, and made the main character’s role in the story more personal. This first person story among others provided a nice basis for me on how i can write in first-person.

    The necklace part of the story represented the myriad of ideas I originally wanted to write about pertaining to cultural appropriation, leading the main character to a personal reckoning on the worth of his life, finally ending in a firm belief in rebellion despite it largely doomed to fail.

    When i finished writing the story, I thought it was ridiculous none of the mercenaries would notice a hulking saurus hiding under a cloak, but i was too lazy to rectify this with some in-story reason :rolleyes:

    Lustrian Redemption


    Am I sane? Traveling amidst an armed band of men would elicit some form of fear from anyone sane. Perhaps a fear of getting ambushed, or simply a fear of betrayal in the depths of the jungles where honor and truth has no meaning. Though I can remember a distant time when they did abundantly.

    But no, I have none of this fear. It has escaped me, blown away with the winds into someone more deserving, for I have done this for countless years. Always hiding and always waiting, I lived alongside all manner of strange creatures in search of a purpose buried so long ago.

    My only savior - a cloak concealing my every being, like scales onto a lizard.

    “How many shillings we get for this job again?”

    “All too little.”

    “Shootin’ orcs should make our pouches fatter and fatter.”

    “We only guns for hire. We the shamed and dammed of society!”

    “Damn straight.”

    The concept of money and man’s constant struggle for prosperity confused me. Most wallowed in dirt and mud, dreaming of a morsel to eat. Life of a man was like a great chase. A hunt for a prey fast and stealthy beyond compare.

    “You guys scared? It’s so dark and lonely. What if them orcs are the black ones instead? That be insane!”

    “Why you afraid? We’ll scrape ‘em! We’re mercenaries for Sigmar’s sake!”

    “I bagged this big guy too. Only wanted to come aboard for killing orcs, not one care for the pay. Haha. I bet he could tear an orc in half like a stick!”

    All of them turned their heads towards me with faces filled with wonder and bemusement.

    “What are them eyes? They glowing yellow like crazy.”

    “They like eyes of gold!”

    “Met a traveler like that in the taverns of New Averheim, all innocent and kind. Turns out she slaughtered an entire fledgling rat clan all by herself with the winds of magic.”

    “How many people you killed?”

    “How many rat bastards you killed?”

    “How many orc rat bastards you killed?”

    I simply nodded.

    “Not exactly the talkative type I see, haha.”

    We continued marching until a familiar scent wafted into my nose. It was the characteristic stench of the barbaric spore men. Could smell them miles away as if fire was rampaging through the jungles. The men were still talking and joking amidst themselves, completely unaware they were closing in on their hunt. I gestured towards them and they prepared for a fight.

    Ten orcs were up ahead foraging, some beating each other up. The gunners lined up and fired, dropping half of them with loud bangs. The rest of the green barbarians tried rushing, but three more met their fate. The last ones tried using trees and the myriad amounts of cover to flank. I cut them down effortlessly with spear.

    The men rejoiced and shouted cheers of the pay to come from their masters. I could’ve joined them, for the urge arose in my blood which had seen centuries of warfare and servitude to my gods. I never did, however. Cries from a throat like mine would’ve been too recognizable.

    Every man searched each bloodied orc corpse for sign of treasure. One of them found a gold encrusted necklace. I thought it meaningless orc spoils of raiding, until examining it further. I saw glyphs honoring the Old Ones Tlazcotl and Rigg. The necklace was granted as a blessing of good omen to saurus warriors who’ve proven themselves against impossible odds. Among my faintest of memories, I was to be given one.

    “Lookey at this strange thing! Gold!”

    “Eh not so fast. ‘Member what the boss said?”

    “To hell with him! He’s not here with us risking his life. We need only concern ourselves with who has rights to the treasure, and how it can be evenly divided up…”

    “Drop it,” I growled.

    “What in Sigmar’s name does that mean?”

    “Leave alone! It sacred valuables to the lizardmen!”

    The mercenaries looked on with confused faces. Some laughed jovially as they took turns toying with the necklace. I felt uncontrollable rage whenever someone mocked the Old Ones’ traditions. Whenever they flaunted and wore the aspirations of my long dead brethren!

    “What are you? Some kind of lizard? The lizard people have been conquered for centuries. Let us all enjoy their riches which are rightfully ours to take. Sigmar wills it, and our needy families depend on us.”

    “I’m your DEATHS!”

    I leaped at the man and tore through his neck. Sweet, warm blood gushed through my teeth as my cloak came loose. Screams filled the air upon seeing one of their own tackled on the ground a lifeless corpse. All of them trembled with a fear so intense, I could feel it as much as the liberating gusts of wind crashing upon my scales.

    “W-Wh-What is that!?”

    “A bloody lizard!”

    “Kill it! Kill it! There is more of us than it!”

    Every thrust of the spear, every embrace of my jaws with human flesh sprung forth memories of why slaughtering the arrogant humans was so enjoyable! Their numbers whittled down little by little until only a couple were left. They threw their weapons away and ran off crying for mercy.

    I bellowed out a roar not only for victory’s sake, but for the crushed and vanquished voices of all lizardmen. A reminder their spirits live on with the land! I buried the necklace before setting off.

    A place far from the slaughter was preferable, but I didn’t know how further my tired legs would go. It was always like this. Help the locals with monsters and other pests. Get discovered. Kill them and escape the clutches of death or a fate worse like slavery. It was the sorry state of what has now become of the lizardmen - a mere shadow of glories left far behind.

    But my own memories harken back to moments aplenty both disgraceful and miserable. Running away from unwinnable battles which claimed the lives of many brethren were among them. For this I earned the brand of a coward - often meaning mandatory execution or banishment. I thought what was the point of dying a needless death if I could serve the Slann and the Great Plan another day, until even those were taken away. The temple cities were overrun, and the Slann all slain.

    And so the prodigal races - the ones we’ve sworn to protect and guide - enslaved us all as if we were nothing more than their steeds. Skinks were to be lead to the slaughterhouse for their skin, saurus were to fight each other for entertainment, and the mighty kroxigor were to work until they no longer could.

    The blood of lizards awash the jungles for centuries, and today, none of it is dried. Why has the Old Ones not answered our cries? Have we failed them? Is my continued living a testament to that failure? I pleaded to the abyss that was the starry night.

    “IS MY DEATH WHAT YOU DESIRE!?”

    Silence pervaded over me as my chest rose and fell. Suddenly, I heard the cracks of branches from behind. Several men camouflaged with the jungle’s plants stood from their hiding spots and aimed their rifles at me.

    “Stay away!”

    “Oh, a lizard that talks! You’d fetch a good price shippin’ up to the Altdorf Imperial Zoo. Make me plump n’ round from the gold crowns alone.”

    The gunners were evenly spaced apart in a semi-circle. Every man was covered by another’s field of fire. Rushing them was useless. They intended this spot to be my death.

    “That was just a jest. Though you got a hefty bounty for slaughtering Audrick’s mercenaries. I know your kin lives only to fight. My great-great-great grandfather gunned down you lizards rank by rank. So come on and die the death your kin desires so much!”

    Was this what the Old Ones ordained for me? Death by weak warmbloods? A startling realization came to me. No. Today wasn’t to be my death, for there were still my memories reminding me of the joys and sorrows of yore. Of lizardmen who’ve risen above the tides and cemented themselves in history. Their legacies still endure through me and all lizard kin suffering now.

    So with my leg’s last bit of strength, I ran away. Ferns and bushes alike covered me as I thrashed on.

    “By Sigmar! It’s running away!”

    “Sir, perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to taunt–”

    “Shut up and shoot, damn it!”

    I’m shameful. I’m cowardly. I’m… alive. As the bullets flew, I finally found out what my purpose was. I’ll gather all the sick, starving and enslaved lizardmen. We will rebel against the invaders and occupiers, and remind the world of Lustria’s greatness. We will Let go of a past so hardened in our minds, yet isn’t here for claws to caress, and forge a new future. A new future of glorious redemption!
     
  3. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Carnasaur

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure why, but all of the sudden, I got really interested in Scalenex's Westhammer World. I guess because of the world's context, it makes writing strange relationships so much easier. I was thinking... skinkxelf, dwarfxsaurus, or even skinkxhuman. All of these would've been for fun and laughs, so i looked forward to that very much. I created a list of characters and their motivations for living in the westhammer world to make brainstorming easier, but despite that, It was really hard to structure the story. I'll post the character list, since I think I could've used some ideas I had but didn't use that could've fitted the theme of the contest so much more than what I went for. I'll probably use some in the future because some of them were genuinely that cool imo :cool:

    Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy my ridiculous foray into the Westhammer world. I'll also be posting another story that takes place in the same setting. It's called "Pennies by the Railway."

    Mika Acif - A wood elf. She was raised by albion immigrants. Usually loves to make harsh jokes and comparisons of her neighbors, but loves them deep down for their company. She fears loneliness.


    Moyu - A saurus. He unusually ascribes to a lifestyle of inner-peace and harmony. When his bid to join the temple guards failed, he fled and eventually found himself under the mantle of a dwarven blacksmith. He lives his life smithing guns and other armaments with a rather comedic dwarfish temperament he usually doesn’t notice.


    Kalkstein - A human hailing from the city of marienburg. Inquisitive and curious, he travels the world’s corners in a thirst for knowledge. However, he’s nonetheless wrong most of the time in his convictions and often misses the mark on historical realities important to other people.


    Sraudhum - A dwarf. He was a master blacksmith reveled all throughout his native hold. When it was destroyed, he migrated to one of the many human dominated cities of the empire. His trade was well respected, however his living was diminished due to constant harassment and racism. He migrated once more to the burgeoning towns of the west in a bid to take advantage of the increased demand for weaponry there. Along the way, he educated a saurus on his ways, and employed it as his pupil.


    Dithlithlac - An elf. Though young for elf standards, his sense of justice and conviction were nonetheless as hardy as rock. He earned many scars and wounds from battling dark elf separatists, and used them on his travels as justifications as to why he should become a sheriff in many of the burgeoning towns. Though his physical wounds may have healed, his mental ones still etch clearly in his mind, for the horrors of war left him deeply disturbed. This has led to a rather poor self-esteem others don’t really mind exploiting for humor.


    Oahpapch - A skilled bestiary skink. He lived life tending to the various beasts for it was his duty ordained upon him. In a ritual commonplace in the templecity he lived in, wherein a pair of lizards are sent out into a journey to find their inner-selves, he went out to follow the famous or perhaps infamous examples of Yuqal'Cho-ax and Kai’ax. Though foolhardy and obtuse, he was very motivated by the fame and glory that could possibly follow by meeting them.


    Qozo - A kroxigor. This big beast follows the lead and example of Oahpapach as his partner, or rather superior. Despite his clumsiness and low intelligence, he’s unusually personable around others, and is good at reading peoples’ emotions, fears, and motivations.

    Muddied Legend


    “You want Yuqal'Cho-ax and Kai’ax?”

    “O, yes! I hear they lingered in this town of New Haven and I intend to offer my services in return for their companionship. I imagine we’d make a fine team out there.”

    There were two rangos in the darkness. There was only one source of light - the molten form of a gun barrel. One of the rangos, a saurus, was working on it as he bellowed out a deep sigh.

    “So you want fame and glory.”

    “What? I never said that!”

    “Then what do you want?”

    “I want to be a protector of the weak. A good lizard. Like a purveyor of justice in a wild, wild land.”

    “Ahh. So you want fame and glory.”

    The other rango, a skink named Qozo, was licked mad. “Just give me directions, damn it. From one rango to another, eh?”

    “I guess they headed north.”

    “To where?”

    “To where you ask? Beats me. Could be anywhere when they rode in weeks past,” the larger rango said with a shrug.

    Only a few seconds passed before the skink ran out the door in a cloud of dust.

    “Yeash. What has his tail caught in a stampede?”

    Near the outskirts of town, Qozo was overtaken with ecstasy. Weeks were spent riding upon the endless sands, battling bandits and evading coyote-headed apisi beastmen. But finally, the trail towards the names that traveled so often among his tribe seemingly neared its end. Scenes of boisterous cheers and flying hats filled his mind. It was a fantasy. Another world. But it felt so real! As if his very claws could manipulate the very air before him and create a celebration of an act only he alone could achieve.

    “Watch it you lil’ liz’un!”

    Qozo was broken out of his trance, and saw two humans. One of them held a revolver, while the other had a knife. They were holding a frightened dwarf.

    “What are you two fine gentlemen doing with that there fine dwarf on this fine afternoon?” The skink questioned with a smirk as he reached into his pockets.

    “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” The revolver pressed against the beardy’s head, “Reaching into your pockets as if you’re a god of the draw. Pah!”

    “Don’t need no god to take out trash.”

    “Valaya’s bread! Your shooting form is wrong and incorrect! I say you miss even with-”

    Two gunshots rang out. The skink’s pants were punctured by two smoking holes. The men didn’t move until they scanned their chests and legs for gunshot wounds before casting confused looks at each other.

    Both of the men’s pants fell with only a breeze. They dropped their weapons, running away screaming towards the skies for mercy.

    “Silly, silly humans! Your pants are completely unnecessary!”

    The dwarf slapped his knee and laughed hysterically. “Splendid pocket advantage! You had ‘em running tail between leg with nary a sliver of my wares!”

    “Indeed. Now imagine if all that happened in the town’s center. Everyone would’ve been swooned over!”

    “And for savin' my noggin, I say you deserve a 15% discount and one year extended warranty on all in-store purchases,” The dwarf said, revealing a wide array of handguns under his coat.

    “Thanks, but I seek names instead. Yuqal'Cho-ax and Kai’ax.”

    “Ooo, those two. I’ve given one of them heaps load of ammo. I guess they headed north.”

    “Anything more specific?”

    The arms dealer raised a finger, pointing far off into the distance to his side. He told Qozo an elven huntress lived there, capable of tracking anything alive to the ends of the world. The rango knew those mountains were infamous around these parts, for it was often given the name ‘Ace high morgue,’ because many rich, important people never returned from visiting there.

    Qozo went on, wondering if this was all a stupid trap to walk into. If his life was worth more than the jagged rock of mountains. A few minutes later, a raven landed on his shoulder. It spoke to him in a surprisingly clear voice.

    “Have you seen two humans running around screaming like hooligans?”

    “What’s a random bird got to do with that?”

    “Funny you should ask when you’ve never been around here. You banal reptile.”

    “I’m sorry, but I never seen a bird land on someone’s shoulder out of nowhere and question the everyday happenings of these wild lands as if it’s a person messing with you.”

    “Then you shouldn’t be surprised by the unexpected.”

    The bird leapt forward from Qozo’s shoulder. It exploded into a ball of crackling energies until only a large smoke remained. Out of this smoke came out an elf.

    “Whaa…? How?”

    “Everyone who dabbles in magic knows that trick. Child’s play. Well, at least in olden times.”

    The bemused rango gazed on at the sight before him, until he put two and two together and realized this elf was what he was looking for all along.

    “Ahha! You’re that elven huntress that dwarf was talking about. You have something I want.”

    “And you have something I want.”

    “Hm?”

    “Those running and screaming hooligans. They’re a part of a local gang, well known around here for kidnapping people for ransom. I want to rescue someone. Someone important that has money to throw around for his saviors, by the way.”

    “So hostage rescue. Reminds me of those damsel and distress stories so popular in the lands of Bretonnia. Should we fancy ourselves as knights?”

    “So much pride in you to think that!” The elf chuckled, holding her stomach. “I wonder if your will to live ends once your pride does.”

    “Just a casual expression of heroism is all.”

    “Whatever. We ride in three hours. I’m bringing the stunty.”

    The elf told the arms dealer her wishes and plans and he agreed in exchange for all of the gang’s weaponry once they’re defeated. After preparations were made, the three rode out - white horse, grey mountain goat, and culchan in tow. Underneath the searing sun, they rode between canyons, past trickling ravines, and up sand dunes until it was dusk. They set up camp three-fourths the way to their objective and cooked the dwarf’s suggestion - beef sirloin with potatoes and gravy.

    Qozo looked upon his dish with complete disgust. The meat was stringy and stretchy. The potatoes were bland; the gravy too salty. All in all, the dish was completely unbalanced, with neither of its qualities supporting the other. Absolute rubbish.

    Meanwhile, the dwarf and elf were deep in conversation. Their stomachs full, their mood melancholic.

    “Why did you come to this wild land elgi?”

    “That’s an awfully unprovoked question.”

    “I know, I know. But you and me lived together, survivin’ off the town’s outskirts for years. Makes me think all we been living were sorry lives.”

    “So what? We go on survivin’ all the same. That’s good enough in these parts.”

    “It’d be bad choice if living out here is worse than home.”

    “Funny, considering I never had a choice. I was brought on over by people I never really knew, but still loved.”

    “What people?”

    The elf lifted her head, exhaled, and closed her eyes as memories washed on. “I was nothing ‘ore than an acorn when I came into this world. Nothing ‘ore than the winds that made me fall from my tree. Then I was dropped and picked up. Dropped and picked up again. Dropped and picked up another time. Eventually, I was grasped with such a warmth, I wanted to forget my troubles, until that was taken away. Then I ended up here.”

    “The life of an orphan, eh?” The dwarf remarked, getting teary eyed. Eventually, he burst into tears and hugged the elf’s leg.

    “Alright, alright. It’s been 400 years since then. Countless human generations. You cotton-skinned oaf.”

    “But it’s the experience of so, so many…”

    The sight of the two bemused Qozo, and yet he wanted to be a part of it. Something about the perseverance of a person to go on despite the world’s persistent attempts at erasing them made his dreams slightly change. Made him reflect, if only for a little.

    The three slept before waking up just before sun rise. They rode out once more, stopping near the fringes of their objective.

    They dismounted and discussed tactics. It was eventually decided it would be best for the dwarf to pick them off from a distance with his long range rifle and suppress them. Meanwhile, the elf would flank them from their sides and kill more with bow and arrow. In amidst all this chaos, Qozo would rush into the tunnels where the bandits were keeping their hostage, clearing them out with his derringers in close quarters combat.

    With a raised hand signal, the plan was put into action. It was well-executed. The combination of attacking with the element of surprise and combined-arms worked well. Qozo already smoked a few in the tunnels. He checked every room until he found a man sitting on the floor with his mouth and hands tightened with rope.

    “If it's not my damsel in distress. Here, let me help you out.”

    The skink slowly and carefully cut the rope piece by piece until the man was freed.

    “Gahhhh! Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

    “No problem.”

    A few seconds later, the elf and dwarf barged in, weapons drawn. They holstered once they saw the lizard and the freed human.

    “We meet again!” The man exclaimed, pointing towards the elf, “I’m thoroughly pleased! Though not as much to be rotting here like a dried up leaf. I have to say, I don’t really understand the appeal of these wild, wild lands wherein infrastructure is rarer than gold. Looking over the statistics of this region, there appears to be a correlation between those living in poverty and a higher propensity to commit-”

    Please. Stop. Yapping,” everyone in the room said all at once.

    “Oh, right. Sorry. By the way, I have the records you requested.”

    “You do?”

    “Indeed. The records of a certain Bernhard Hahn and Felda Hahn?”

    The elf’s face instantly lit up at the sound of those names. She hugged him with all her strength.

    “Because of people like you, I still have a lil’ hope left in this world. Thanks.”

    ***

    The sun was high up in the sky. Near the outskirts of New Haven, Qozo watered and fed his culchan. He was already given the locations to where he’ll find what he had sought after for so long. But something held him back. The blacksmith saurus was with him.

    “I heard what you did for that dwarf,” The larger rango said.

    “Was he important to you? Is that why you work a dwarf’s trade?”

    “He was the only thing there was, besides the harsh winds and endless sands. A long time ago.”

    “I see. In all fairness, I was hoping you’d be the type taking .50 bullets to the chest, or wrestling apisi beastmen to the ground like it was nothing.”

    “Alas, I’m not a lizard of fame and glory.”

    Qozo smirked. He wanted to go, but couldn’t. It wasn't until he realized he simply didn’t want to anymore.

    “I haven’t told anyone this yet, but I guess I will spill the beans on you now. In my first weeks of living on this world, I lived in the shadow of greater beings… my understanding of life was completely made by their image. When they left, this understanding of mine never did. So I was stuck trying to make sense of it all. So I was a fool trying to find this sense in others. I finally learned this sense can only come from within one place. Yourself.”
     
  4. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Carnasaur

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    Pennies by the Railway


    Whenever I lie my eyes upon the monstrous sight before me, scenes in my mind begin singing and dancing, playing out an act etched in my memory. I remember my ears twitch as bells and whistles roar their chorus, my fur swaying along with what seemed an avalanche of wind swallowing me and everyone else alive whole. And my body! It was trembling as if my very blood boiled. I only drew breath for six months when I saw the interconnected line of carts and wagons following an engine billowing smoke. It was really called a train, and it rode through the newly laid tracks striking through our town. My respect for this monster of moving metal and steel parts only grew as I gained more years of experience drawing breath in this world. What was an immense fear of the monstrous soon turned into an indomitable ambition to conquer it.

    Now, hundreds of kilometers away, I lie behind a few rocks, spotting beyond the wooden fences, a train and all its carts and wagons interconnected with each other from behind. It’s silent and stationary, while the air tasted of a toasted humidity—overcooked and hard on the mouth. And as I grab my canteen for a drop to drink, the train erupts with a deafening whistle. All of it including the engine, its carts, and wagons springs into action.

    I jolt my legs into a run, desperate to catch and overcome it. Getting closer, I remember years ago when I felt like nothing more than a coin when that train came. I imagined I’d be swept up and carried away easily, not chasing one like its prey. But the allure of becoming a part of it, complete with a purpose and destination, make me want to run faster. I didn’t have much to lose after all.

    I was within a claw’s distance of grabbing one of the wagon’s access rails, but they were neither moving closer nor further away. The train is slow, but I know it could soon accelerate into the horizon in seconds. I jump, barely grasping the railings with my claws. My heart raced with reckless abandon as I try climbing away from the wagon’s wheels that would’ve spelled my death. Finally atop with wind peeling back my whiskers onto my face, I fall safely into the wagon’s contents.

    Landing, I feel pain but it’s nothing too serious. Charred flakes litter the floor, their smell twisting my stomach. It’s all dirty trash, but so was I with my unclipped tail and torn clothes. The walls of the wagon are thick, but I could still hunch over and see how fast I’m going. And fast it is. The station from which I jumped the train is now a part of the horizon behind me in mere seconds.

    I sit on the ledge of the wagon, and see many of the other connected masses of steel moving along in the same direction I’m heading. I see towns in all their loudness and peacefulness before they become one with the sand. I see pointyear-things, stunty-things, and breeder-things smile and frown their lives away before they are nothing more but a spec. I hoard every breath of the charred flakes—like I conquered not just this train, but the whole world.

    In my moment of complete joy and happiness where everything seemed so small and insignificant, I retrieve a bag. Inside this bag is a heap of things representing the entirety of me. Without them, I don't know who I would be, or what I would become. I first grab a warpstone ornamented wedding ring. It was my mother’s and she died shortly after she birthed me. Next I grab a worn out revolver. It was my father’s and he died of lynching for killing a murderer. Then I grabbed a cheese-shaped chewing toy. It was my older brother’s, who threw himself off a cliff because he thought I killed his mother. I hold all three close to my chest and sit in silence.

    Out of nowhere, there is a terrible bump. I didn't fall to my death, but I lost grip of the worn out revolver. I try catching it, but in doing so, I lose the other two. All three of them tumble upon the sand before disappearing without a trace.

    I remain there without anything to say or do, except faint upon the charred flakes—the only thing I have left.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2021
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  5. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    and rightly so! it's a fascinating setting.
     
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  6. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    I'm sorry I didn't notice your Westhammer story later.

    I really like the character interactions in "Muddied Legend" but I'm still not sure why the protagonist is so single-minded towards finding Yuqal'Cho-ax and Kai’ax.

    I wish the story had a bit more traditional structure, but I guess infrastructure is rare than gold in the wild west. ;)

    It read as an introduction to a larger saga more than a short story which I am okay with as long as I can read the larger saga and it has a satisfying build up and conclusion.

    "Pennies by the Railway" was well structured and made me really sad for a filthy skaven. Who knew that was possible?

    By contrast with "Muddied Legend," this was concise and self-contained. PP, you are always good at writing sad reflective protagonists and you did not disappoint here.

    If you have a World Anvil Account or are thinking of getting one, I think you should become a co-author for Westhammer's World Anvil page.

    EDIT: Muddied Waters had a lot of western slang. I like that a lot. I think Westhammer stories should be stuffed to the gills with western style slang and that's something I think other people writing in Westhammer have all too often skimped on.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021 at 11:50 AM
  7. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Carnasaur

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    ^ I felt like that after reading reviews for my story from Aginor and Imrahil, lol.

    I was inspired to write it after reading Killer Angel's comment on how inner-conflict in stories should be 'showed' rather than 'debated,' and i completely agreed and noticed some of my stories usually follow the latter format.

    I was also inspired by this russian dude's videos:





    He usually travels around the world jumping freight trains for adventure. His stuff usually feature lots of nice scenery, and he meets some of the most extreme people i've ever seen (from strange to sad to awesome to crazy). But i guess that's the resilience of the human psyche.
     
  8. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Yeah, Padme is right. Almost all of your stories have this. That's not a terrible place to be.

    I would rather read about interesting characters meandering around than read about dull card board cut out characters in a perfectly paced story. I think it's easier to study plotting then to try to study characterization.

    You have enough plot in place to keep me reading updates of Psyche of War, so your weakness is not crippling, it's just inconvenient.
     
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