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Contest January-February 2017 Voting Thread

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, Feb 3, 2017.


Which Short Story or Stories Do you Like Best (choose up to five)?

Poll closed Mar 5, 2017.
  1. Story One: Hope Is In Order

    3 vote(s)
  2. Story Two: Those Left Behind

    2 vote(s)
  3. Story Three: Hammer of the Lost

    12 vote(s)
  4. Story Four: A Whimper

    3 vote(s)
  5. Story Five: The Next Generation

    6 vote(s)
  6. Story Six: Sacred Duty

    10 vote(s)
  7. Story Seven: Sacred Spawning

    10 vote(s)
  8. Story Eight: Call of the Stars

    10 vote(s)
  9. Story Nine: Purpose

    13 vote(s)
  10. Story Ten: The Ritual of Words Yet Unvoiced

    7 vote(s)
  11. Story Eleven: Commune

    3 vote(s)
  12. Story Twelve: Warlord of Sorrow

    5 vote(s)
  13. Story Thirteen: His Own Hands

    4 vote(s)
  14. Story Fourteen: Duty and Hatred

    4 vote(s)
  15. Story Fifteen: Vengeance’s Fire

    3 vote(s)
  16. Story Sixteen: Hope for Sun

    5 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. discomute

    discomute Well-Known Member

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    the next generation
    Oh dear. I have never watched star trek (except JJ's version) and i am still refusing to believe that serephon are a thing, and I've not read anything about the age of copyright at all. So I was a bit handicapped in this one. It was a bit disjointed and hard to read at times, but only at times. And I just love unique attempts in this competition so I rate this one highly.
  2. Bowser

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t read the stories yet, why are you reading the reviews? Anyway on with the Bowser Likes Something Reviews.

    1. Hope Is In Order
    I like how the main character starts out as sort of an Indiana Jones, and then moves to a grander purpose. We start out with the studying a plaque that is both familiar yet foreign, could be a cipher from the old ones, when suddenly the stars align, and strike him blind. Divine intervention seems to get him to a slann who has been working on this same plaque. Very interesting start to an epic adventure. Given his new found powers, the slann is able to crack the cipher through Yami’s new special sight. Where could this lead? Really awesome read, and a great story that leaves you wanting more.

    Yami, which is Sanskrit for pair, and Japanese for pertaining to darkness, both of these meanings fit this character, he has both been blinded, pertaining to darkness, paired with the unseen power, then later paired with the slann, to unlock the unseen power.

    HauniHauni-Lu, Hauni means He who reigns over the land, while Lu interestingly may mean path, but in French means read, and in Haitian means unread. Interesting because here is a plaque that is both read and unread. If that was intentional that was brilliant.

    2. Those Left Behind

    I like the way this one reads as an amazing start to a Zombie apocalypse type of movie or game. False hope abounds, only to be crushed by a verminlord corruptor. Amazingly described I might add, simple, but clear. The vengeance comes out, and is stomped right from existence. The one character the nameless priest who sees it all coming knows the end is upon them. She sees it all, and in the end, she know that her temple will fall, but if she can delay them, even by bringing down the temple around her as the rats pile in. I am a bit lost on the naming convention here, Darr’Ol reminded me immediately to watch the walking dead, but Narr, B’rrk, and GTT’Taax lost me, interestingly Narr, Burke, and Darrell come up with ace fighter pilot names, and as for GTT’Taax best guess is Gets two attacks? Really one of the best end times stories I have ever read. A lost cause but fighting on to slow the invasion down.

    3. Hammer Of The Lost

    I like that the action in this one. Brilliantly described. I also like that there is no quotation marks here. It tells you that they are speaking, but not with their mouths. I also like that the author clarified that the skink floated down using the cloak, as I initially thought this meant the slann was near, great use and clarification of game mechanics in this story, even using the realmgates. The real conflict here goes beyond the battle. The struggle of taking away a great warriors peace of mind. As Rex’Op knows that the jungles of Lustria no longer exist, they are what give Kai’Otl hope, he wants to tell the truth, but fears the consequences of a warrior without hope. Also, Rex’Ops! Sounds like an amazing covert dinosaur operation. Great name! If I had to make a guess at the author, as @Warden pointed out the name meaning, Kai, being a reused name in many stories here, and Otl being the stand in, I would think that this is Scalenex foray into the realms of AOS. Or possibly writtwn by new comer @Kai-Otl :p

    4. A Whimper

    I like how this starts out from a clueless soldier’s story, learning that it isn’t just run in weapons drawn and fighting, to a story of finding peace inwards. Running in with a roar, and marching on with a whimper. Short, but I think perfectly paced and ended right where it needed to. It no longer matters if he finds the lizards. The character learns to enjoy the small things, as they are all he has left. Really beautiful story.

    5. The Next Generation

    I like how this one just lightens up the heavy mood of the competition. And the fact that it is set in the time of battle “The Great Green Torc.” I have played that one a few times and have enjoyed the games immensely. The star trek references are a bit all over the place, with a few next generation references mixed in with a lot of the old show, but it was a lot of fun to read. At first I balked at the 6thgeneration slann, because mechanically you could summon lord Kroak through the engine as well, but then I remembered, relic priests. Lord Kroak is just the most famous of the first spawning relic priests, and Lord Kroak could be the AOS name for any relic priest. Bit of a stretch, but I think it is more fun to go along with the author’s logic! Also, theme music skinks! Best part of it.

    6. Sacred Duty

    I like the feeling in this one, it really breaks your heart when Trazki drops. Set in the rise of Sotek this is beautifully described, you knew we were dealing with a Troglodon, without the word being typed until the third paragraph. I like the use of Kytzl using his tongue to “Taste” the direction of the artefact they are hunting for, and how Trazki, uses similar methods of getting around, blind, but using whiskers, taste, scent and sound to track and “see.” Kytzl, having felt loss, is now on a mission of vengeance, following Tehennhuain into war, armed only with a plaque and divining rod. Funny naming convention here, Traszki translates from Polish to Newt, and KYZYL means read or crimson in Tuvan or other Turkic languages. So the member of the Crimson host and his Newt? Could be way off, but I enjoyed it. This story was beautifully written and heartbreaking.

    7. Sacred Spawning

    I like how this is another left behind story, similar to story two, set in a different time period though, and this time, given a choice to stay behind in their home, or trail along as a refugee, doomed to die along the trail. The suspense and atmosphere of this story is brilliant. Just the description of the different feel of the temple without the temple guard present really sets an amazing tone. When the surprise spawning starts to appear, the shock to all present is felt, and then the skinks snap right back to duty. The great hope, a born leader saurus, and a full crew spawning right then and there, ready to fight the influx of daemons. Yax Nuun Ayiin is the name of 2 rulers of the Mayan site of Tikal, Xiugu, a bit harder to find, the only thing I pull up is the Chinese word for armband, or Japanese for “what do you mean late?” The Japanese one is much funnier, and if I am guessing author, I am going to say this was from @Warden. Fantastic atmosphere, great description, and the spawning pools coming through in the end.

    8. Call To The Stars

    I like how this addresses how the slann transformed their powers coming into the age of Sigmar, through trial and error. You’re not given much information to start with, but it’s brilliant the way it unfolds. If they have to start somewhere start with the biggest and the best. The action is great, and really gives you a sense of relief and excitement when the name Grymloc is mentioned and the final heave before the two understood each other once more. The gory scene of the previous attempts is all too telling of the desperation felt by the slann, and the call for vengeance and redemption. This was an epic tale, expertly unfolded for us.

    9. Purpose

    I like the new take on the spawning pools in this one. Brilliantly thought out. This story accomplishes a lot, you have a vicious battle and a warrior without a master, a ronin if you will. With no purpose left but to die on the battlefield. A hero who had for his entire life only followed directions, never having to make a choice, is forced to do so. The choice he makes to try to save the spawning pools, brings about a new destiny, a new master. Hope for the future. Fantastic action, great character arc, and a brilliant beginning to an epic tale.

    10. The Ritual Of Words Yet Unvoiced

    I like the personality of Hutl, wisecracking tough guy with a spear of gold stuck in his brain. With that Tlax is lost to the daemons, particularly the amazing tentacle enemy. Like something right out of an anime, threatening, intimidating, and enjoying every moment of it. Skip to the present. The ritual, that had become something of a joke, tradition for traditions sake, needed a little something to liven up the day of the dead. The enemy here is amazing. Like something right out of an anime, threatening, intimidating, and enjoying every moment of it. The festival regains its meaning and value when that missing thing, rage, revenge, that feeling of loss is rekindled. With the ritual completed, thanks to Panquetzl seeking vengeance for her partner Zeltin, the dead do indeed come back to defend the city. Hutl resumes his 6000 year old battle with the tentacle daemon, and is victorious, until he tries his hand at some action hero one liners. Spear to the brain will do that. Really great use of some of the older source material, brilliant, funny, and a story told brilliantly.

    11. Commune

    I like the idea of a human cult of Sotek. Praying to the seraphon to defend them. Here you have a priestess, much like a slann or skink priest of old. Tradition for traditions sake. Then you have Emman who is a bit more willful, and a bit of a day dreamer. When he decides that he should be the one that brings about the return of the seraphon, he makes a bit of a mess. He does indeed summon them, but not in the way intended. Whatever he summoned from the fires, was not what he had intended, but once summoned the stars began to come down. The seraphon justice would be swift on this so called cult of Sotek, as they were now just summoners of chaos. Great read, amazing characters whose personalities bounced off of each other so well. The description of the fire, almost deceiving. You want to believe that he summoned Sotek, crimson and fiery tongues, but indeed, in the end that hope is lost.

    12. Warlord of Sorrow

    I like the idea of an undead saurus seeking vengeance from beyond the grave. A great start to the sequel for “The Fireblade’s Challenge,” we have the newly reborn Quetzan-Ti, now called Brokenfang. The great thing here is the saurus, even after death and undeath only thinks of protecting Lustria. Brilliant. That is until he sees the word Traitor written on his gravestone. Will he go for revenge on all? Will he clear his name and reveal the identity of the one who should have Traitor written on his grave? Epic start to this sequel. Looking forward to more.

    13. His Own Hands

    I like how we get another take on a seraphon worshipping society, but this time less zealous, as these ones had at some point fought alongside the seraphon. Harti, who is a bit disillusioned with the seraphon as they were not there in what he felt was a timely fashion decides he has had enough of hearing how great the seraphon are. If you want something done it must be done so with your own hands. Soon enough he is given the opportunity to defend the people with his own hands. A strange old man who offers him a sword. A brilliant Legend of Zelda reference right there. So good. The contract, unknown to Harti, is sealed with a bit of blood from his finger. He becomes a village hero when he slays a giant rat in the forest. Now for the next step, he must become a true warrior. The same old man offers him armour, but for a price. Will he seal the deal of this faustian pact? We may never know, but man what an amazing twist. Fantastic story, great flow, and perfect timing.

    14. Duty and Hatred: 3000

    I like this alternate timeline going on here. The follow up to the fantastic Freedom and Slavery: 3000. In this time line Chaos has enslaved most of the races, even the Lustrian lizardmen, as diseased Kroxigor work themselves to death for Nurgle, only a few small tribes from Lustria and the Southlands still battle on, but they may be the only ones left, and their numbers dwindle daily. Omyitl kind of comes in like a Rambo, silently floating in the water, waiting on the opportunity to strike and when he does he lets loose. Omyitl is rage incarnate, who then, mercifully must put his kin out of their misery to stop the spread of the disease. His job done, he retreats back to the waters he protects, only to slump over and we fade to black. The descriptions in here are as beautiful as they are mortifying. When the Pestigor goes for a drink, the description is simple, but beautiful, and conveys so much. Absolutely stunning scenery, as everything is described so perfectly.

    15. Vengeance’s Fire

    I like how we get both a prequel and a sequel to fireblade’s challenge here. We have the tale of the sword itself, a tale of vengeance, of defiance. This Norscan, out for vengeance on a saurus, may just have given this sword a purpose to fulfill, and, unlike him, the sword may succeed. Not willing to give in to the saurus, the gods, or even Khorne, he uses the sword to take away their power over him, if they held any at all. In steps everyone’s favourite greyseer, the warpstone smoking junkie Thanquol. Leading perfectly into fireblades’s challenge, and then Warlord of Sorrow. Great telling from the Norscan’s perspective, you feel his crazy, absolutely amazing how well you feel his fury, his paranoia, and finally his resignation and resolution. Thanquol is written so well, congratulating himself and scheming away. Wonderfully told.

    16. Hope For Sun

    I like how in this version, the seraphon, upon dying wind up respawing from their temples spawning pools. Arming themselves with just a thought. Really well thought out. So here we have a battle of Nurgle versus a small fishing village. The Seraphon have come to help. Alternating charges and lines, two scar-vets Xilour and Yuatac are leading the seraphon. When Yuatac falls to a chaos champion, the descriptions here are amazing, very poetic. Xilour remaining, the men of the village rush in to fight, they fight alongside each other, until in the distance hope arrives. Great shiny armour of valiant kights. Hope at last, that is until they reveal their banner. Though these knights are definitely helping to destroy the forces of Nurgle, it is only a matter of time before they come back to claim the village for their own. Brilliantly thought out, new mechanics for the seraphon, great twist at the end, and fantastic action.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2017
  3. discomute

    discomute Well-Known Member

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    Sacred Duty
    Wow! This was the best written one so far. The words are perfect, save for one criticism: the jump from limited-third-persin needs to be signposted in my opinion. I did a double take when the emphasis shifted to the beast. It was a good use of gender, but even though I might separate the paragraphs with a *

    Again this is the type of story that doesn't explore any grander narratives, but this board seems to do it so very well. I am reading and writing these as I go, but I would imagine I will end up voting for this one. Great work.
  4. thedarkfourth

    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    Incredible work all round, everyone! The critiques are coming in thick and fast! Record-setting quantities of great stories! The L-O fluff comp has never looked stronger! Woe unto the naysayers!

    I've decided not to do my own critiques this time. Instead I am going to attempt to do a little "sequel" of sorts for as many of the entries as I can. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Apologies for not getting them in one post but they're a little longer than a standard critique and there's already so much content to read I thought it might be kinder on folks' eyeballs to space them out a bit.

    Also I haven't done them in any regular sort of order. Here's the first few.

    2: Those Left Behind, but like, far behind

    The Skink Priest opened her eyes.

    “Surprise!” shouted Br’kk and about 500 other lizards. They were standing all around her in the room and spilling out into the corridors beyond. A big banner across the door read “Our World Would End Without You!” and was illustrated with cheery decorations of exploding planets. The skink priest realised that a light confetti was falling from the ceiling.


    “Ha, we got her! Look at her face!” exclaimed Br’kk, gleefully, and a great cheer went up. “Now let’s get this party started!”

    A saurus mariachi band that the priest hadn’t even spotted struck up a merry tune, and the assembled lizards began mingling and passing around drinks. Br’kk put one in the priest’s hands; she took it dumbly. Br'kk slapped her on the shoulder.

    “So? Whaddya think? Good prank, eh? Can’t take all the credit. I had help from Stxxxkz and Ygnntlkkkkkk. And of course we persuaded the mage priest to help implant all those visions in your head of skaven hordes and exploding moons and whatnot. Nice one, Jerry!” She nodded at a passing slann who gave a cheery wave in return.

    The priest stared. “G’tt-taax...” she spluttered, unable to utter even one more word.

    “Oh, she did really lead an assault on Darr-Ol, captured it easily. That was weeks ago. We didn’t tell you because you seemed so happy in your little world. We love you, priesty. We really do. This was all for you. Don’t ever change.”

    11: Commune 2: keep on communing

    10 years later

    Applause. Enman could hear it now. He’d be the centre of attention. Everyone would be saying how great he was, how he was the heart and soul of the operation, they could never function without him. They’d give him a promotion, heck, they’d make him boss, send him to head office. All that business with the botched sacrifice and the dead prophetess that everyone pretended to have forgotten about but he knew they still judged him for - all that would be forgotten.

    “No slacking, Enman! We don’t pay you for your daydreams!” came a shout.

    He jerked back into reality. “Screw you, you don’t own me!” he muttered back, half-heartedly.

    “No, but I am the junior manager in this store, so you do what I tell you,” snapped the busybody with a thin beard and a colourless regulation uniform. His little name tag said “Gerald”.

    Enman snarled and turned back to his task of endlessly stacking shelves. Just a temporary measure, he reminded himself as his blood boiled, soon his time as entry level assistant floor clerk would be a distant memory. Soon everyone would recognise him for the regional manager he so clearly deserved to be. Even Corporate would notice him-

    “I want to talk to the manager!” he heard a foul-looking man scream at one of his colleagues a little way away. He looked over. He could see Gerald bustling rapidly towards them. It was now or never.

    “Fear not, noble customer!” he cried, leaping over one of the aisles and sending produce scattering in all directions. He punched Gerald in the face and deftly grabbed his visor as his stunned boss fell to the floor. He put it suavely on his head. The cap read “manager”. He leapt up onto a check-out till, sending the register crashing noisily across the floor. He struck a pose, and turned to the aggrieved customer, who’s jaw was hanging open.

    “I am the manager,” he proclaimed in a bellowing voice. “What can I do for you?”

    There was a silence punctuated only by the last of the coins vibrating to a stop. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Trev and Mike, the two security guards, approaching at a jog.

    “Why does this never go the way I see it in my mind?” he said.

    5: The Next Next Generation

    “Captain’s log, star date 40504.43. We have been forced to veer off course and how found ourselves in the furthest reaches of Lizard Federation territory. We-”

    “We’re being hailed, Captain,” chirped one of the navigation skinks, but not one of the recurring character ones, just a regular red-scaled officer.

    “Onscreen,” said the captain in a tone that meant business.

    “Greetings, Star-temple Enterprise, it is most unexpected to see you in these parts,” said another federation slann, his dark-skinned visage appearing on the monitor.

    “Who are you?” said the captain.

    “You don’t recognise me? Star-commander Sisko?”

    “What?! But that means….”

    An anxious musician in the corner struck a suitably tense chord.

    “...We’re at Deep Slann Nine!!!”
  5. thedarkfourth

    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    The next batch. I apologise for the irreverent tone with which I am treating all of your deep an meaningful stories - hopefully I'm being even-handed in my irreverence so that nobody feels singled out. I do love serious writing but I also feel an irresistible urge to undercut it humorously - this is only further evidence of my admiration for the original.

    9 Purpose: Redemption

    “And that’s the story of how your mother and I first met,” said the elderly Roq dreamily, turning his gaze from the large, captivated eyes of his children, and wistfully recalling in his mind’s eye the way Isabella’s white scales had shimmered in the light of the dying spawning pools. He sighed, and leaned back into his armchair, next to the mantlepiece above which hung the obsidian axe.

    “That story is gross!” whined Roq Junior, his eldest child. “Tell us the one about how you fought the daemon monks of Naggaroth.”

    “Look at you all!” cried Isabella, striding into the room before Roq had a chance to respond. “No more stories, it’s way past your bedtime, off you go now!”

    As the kids scampered up to their bedrooms, she caught sight of the moisture in Roq’s eye. He was staring at her with a dreamy expression she hadn’t seen in years. She went to him and gave him a tender embrace.

    “You’re still so beautiful,” he said, voice choking with emotion. “Just like the day I-”

    “Shh, there there,” she comforted. For a long time they were quiet in each other’s arms.

    13 His Own Shovel

    “I’m tired, can I go home?” asked Ritter.

    “Not too much further to go now,” huffed Harti, breathing heavily. He braced himself for a final push.

    “You’re doing great!” called the old man from a little distance. Harti turned to scowl at him over the lip of the big hole he and the boy were in. The old man was reclining in a deck chair, a pair of dark shades over his eyes and several cubes of ice clinking peacefully in a colourful drink on a table alongside. The beautiful suit of armour was stacked neatly beneath his chair. “Keep it up!” he called again.

    “You know, when you said we had to earn that armour with the work of our own hands, I didn’t think the work in question was digging your latrine,” remarked Harti.

    “No such thing as a free lunch!” replied the old man gleefully. “Make sure it’s nice and deep. I want it to last a good while before I have to sell my next suit of armour for another one.”

    Harti told himself to just get on with it. He flung a spade-ful of dirt over his shoulder and leaned into the next strike. Suddenly he found himself toppling forward as the solid ground gave way. They had struck a collapsed tunnel. He pushed his face out of the dirt and looked up into the space they had fallen into. Several verminous snouts turned towards him, the expressions of the skaven changing from surprise to menace at varying speeds.

    Harti brushed some dirt from his eyes. “Oh skite,” he said.

    4 Another Whimper



    “You’re doing it again.”

    Reg blinked. Bother. He was still in the bleeding jungle.

    “You know you just said that out loud, right? About the bleeding jungle?” his pal Mortimer was looking at him with concern.

    “Damn. I can’t seem to stop myself narrating my thoughts and my surroundings.”

    “Don’t worry about it. Jungle turns us all crazy.”

    “Did you hear all that stuff just now about how they killed my family and my unquenchable thirst for revenge?”

    “Yeah I did mate, and if you really don’t care about your share of the gold, I’d be more than happy to…”

    There was an uneasy silence.

    “You know, actually, mate,” continued Mortimer. “Feel free to carry on monologuing. Me and some of the other lads were talking about it and we all reckon it could stand to go on a fair bit longer.”

    3 Hammer of the Getting Warmer

    Derek crept up from behind and put his hands around his wife’s eyes.

    “Guess who?” he said? “It’s Derek.”

    “Why would you use your own name in an activity where the whole point is anonymity?” asked his wife.

    “You won’t care about that when you see how great this offering is. Look!” He tugged out a little rectangle of canvas in an simple but tasteful wooden frame. It had cost him three week’s earnings to get Jim the painter to do it.

    “It’s a portrait of the two of us in front of our house,” she said. “Oh Derek, it’s wonderful.”

    “Did the frame myself.”

    “Let’s hang it on the wall above the mantlepiece, in pride of place.”

    “Good idea. Here’s a nail, now we just need to ...damn it, what did I do with the tool box? I can't seem to find my-”

    Just then the room was lit with blinding celestial energies as a vortex of raw starlight blazed into existence. And out of it, a figure was emerging. Derek covered his eyes with a hand and tried to squint at the form that was materialising.

    “Do not fear,” said a powerful reptilian voice, “the glory of the Starmasters has been gifted to you, in this your hour of need. For I am Kai-Otl, hammer of the lost.”

    He looked at the faces of the stunned peasants. “You have lost a hammer right? Or did they send me to the wrong place again?”

    6 Sacred Duty 2: Duty's Revenge

    Kytzl pushed into his bedroom grimly, forcing his grief to become rock-hard determination. He had a war to fight, and a duty to uphold.

    “You look properly miserable,” said Norman, his room mate. He had shoulder-length greasy black hair and was wearing an AC/DC T-shirt. His half of the room was covered in posters for heavy metal bands. Kytzl’s half, by contrast, was mostly barren. He ignored Norman.

    He went on his knees before his bed, pausing in reverence at what he was about to do. Then he reached under the bed and retrieved a large ring-binder.

    “Oh great, it’s plaque time,” said Norman, with a snort. Kytzl looked daggers at him from under his lids, breathing slowly. He calmly sad on his bed, placing the binder on his knees, and opened it. He began to flick through the pages, each one covered with a protective plastic film. Rows and rows of stone, obsidian and golden symbols met his eyes from the nearly five hundred plaques he had assembled into one comprehensive tome.

    “This is no ordinary plaque, foolish mortal,” he said, without looking at his room mate. “This is the single rarest item in the whole of the Tlanxla Series. It’s a first edition cutting - there are only 12 of them in the world. And it’s the only one I need to complete my entire collection.”

    “You are such a nerd,” huffed Norman, putting in his earbuds.

    “I literally had to cut this plaque from the dead body of a rival collector,” said Kytzl, darkly. Norman paused at this, and looked over with a new sense of respect.

    Kytzl stopped flipping pages. He had reached the one empty slot in the entire book. He brought the glowing plaque gently to his lips. “For Trakzi”, he whispered, inserting it into the slot.

    15 Fireblade Episode 1: The Forge’s Menace

    [this prequel-prequel and its prequel-sequels (Episode II: Attack of the Blades, Episode III: Revenge of the Fire) are too long and over-indulgent to reproduce here. Suffice it to say that the prequel trilogy deals with the ascent of the supposed Chosen-Sword from a backwater farm-sickle to a Scimitar of the Fire Side. We realise that this daemonic blade we know and love from the original stories was not always so twisted and bloodthirsty - once it had ambitions to bring peace and balance to the world and only incinerate those who thoroughly deserve it. Although it is tutored in the Sharp ways by the ancient and powerful order of Sabres, the sword is gradually corrupted by a powerful blacksmith who is secretly an evil and immortal Rapier. Tortured by worry about the death of his true love, an ornate dagger, the Firesword finally chooses to embrace the Fire Side, betraying the Sabres and murdering a whole bunch of newly-forged kitchen knives, before being scarred forever in a volcano that left it with the hideous appearance that we all recognise. The trilogy left many critics underwhelmed and resulted in outrage among fans.]
  6. Qupakoco
    Skink Chief

    Qupakoco Keeper of the Dice Staff Member

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    Oh boy, these reviews are wonderful. And the continuation of the stories is very tasteful, @thedarkfourth
    spawning of Bob and Bowser like this.
  7. thedarkfourth

    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    Curses, failed again!
  8. Slanputin

    Slanputin Well-Known Member

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    I laughed at the @thedarkfourth's go at mine. Although the character was parodied easily enough it began to make me wonder if I'd parodied myself in an attempt at sincere writing..


    Seeing where the results lie vs. my own predictions is always good for making you doubt your tastes.
  9. thedarkfourth

    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

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    Just read story 12. HOW ARE THERE TWO FIREBLADE PRE/SEQUELS!?! How am I supposed to do a follow up for that - I already used my great Fireblade idea for story 15! Total madness. The next competition should be Fireblade-verse entries only.
    spawning of Bob, Warden and Bowser like this.
  10. Wolfwerty33
    Cold One

    Wolfwerty33 Active Member

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    Can someone provide a link to the Fireblade setting, since I have no idea what that is...
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  11. Bowser

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    WIP Fireblade sequel
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  12. discomute

    discomute Well-Known Member

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    sacred spawning

    Beautifully written. I forgot I was reading an amateur story there and just got lost in it. Again, no big issues were tackled. But it as a very well written and enjoyable story. I will most likely vote for it.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2017
  13. discomute

    discomute Well-Known Member

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    call to the stars
    An interesting take on things, even if I'm not totally familiar with age of copyright. A good story but didn't write have the flow, I found myself going back on sentences every now and again. But overall, another strong candidate
  14. Essmir
    Chameleon Skink

    Essmir Well-Known Member

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    Great job every one! I havent had time to read all of them. But it is realy fun to see so many conpeting. 16 is a big number guessing every body will be hard. tho I notised that on the last story the name is wrong on the poll. It says "Hope for Fire" but it should say "Hope for Sun" as it says in the storys title.
    spawning of Bob, Carnikang and Bowser like this.
  15. spawning of Bob

    spawning of Bob Well-Known Member

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    By the twitching of my claws, something critiquey this way draws. Cackle cackle.

    16 stories and not a sincere bad word can be said about any. The standard and volume of writing on L-O grows exponentially. If 2015-2016 was the golden age, we have just gone double platinum. May it never end!

    I will edit and add all of my story critiques to this post over the next aeon. Don't forget phase 3 everyone - where the revealed authors scoff t our weak interpretations and tell the hapless critics what they REALLY meant to convey!

    General Comments in random order:

    Endings – a few reviewers have gone down the “but I wish I knew what happened next – it should go longer / have a sequel" path. Guess what. With a theme of hope, those kind of not quite question mark endings should be expected and enjoyed – because hope isn’t certainty, and filling in the blanks actually kills the theme. Plus, that’s my favourite ending type – where I get to apply my imagination to the question of what happens next.

    Genderings – I personally embrace female lizards. On special occasions I would embrace male ones, too, but it still seems a bit awkward. The two stories that sold me on the in-universe AND literary validity of female pronouns and all the baggage and stereotypes that go with were Food for Thought and The Mascot both by TDF, and both would be completely different with males.. Having said that, I don’t think all of the examples in this comp were plot essential, but even if they weren’t great, they didn’t grate, so to speak. And whenever @discomute gets anywhere near his feminine side, he goes out and murders some fish to restore the balance. Ignore him, my sisters.

    Parallelosaurolophus – as Bowser noted, parallels were rife. Not surprising given that everyone had the same subject material to work with. I think Chaos types shaded skaven as most frequent enemies. This gives me hope that our embarrassing little infestation may be finally coming to an end. Probably they’ve eaten on the cheese and will move on. We had cursed / magic weapons, plenty o’ pox, romance, necromance – what else does one need?

    Extreme widescreen descriptovision – The visuals were, without exception, extremely well done. I never had to stop to try to picture a confusing scene. The “lavish description” ones were lavish without drowning the plot, the “enough detail to fire the mind’s eye” ones gave enough to run with and the dreamy poetic ones were a guilty pleasure to read. Bravo, one and all.

    Battle-o-rama – I think there was a greater density of battles and duels in this comp, and these are usually the story component I am least interested in. I repent, having seen the error of my ways. Like the scenery, EVERY fight depicted enhanced rather than interrupted. They all had a followable physical layout (which is difficult), they had important little details that rang true and they all enhanced the meaning of the characters’ struggles (which is astounding). I would pick a fight with any of you, any day of the week and risk a beat down just to see and hear a reversed obsidian spear whirl in a short arc which intersects with bone with a satisfying crunch.

    The Easter Egg Challenge -
    Oh Dear. I think it is possible for me to know what I know, at least some of the time. Knowing what most everyone else doesn’t know might be beyond me. I have theories......

    My suggestion was to burn them all down (Harvest)- Yes, the defenceless village protected by Seraphon Schtick, thanks for pointing it out, Warden. We really should find something strategic t protect in AoS. Realmgates maybe? Some arcane mineral? A near extinct colony of tasty grubs?

    Ripe for Plunder – The author of Hammer of the Lost had Kai-Otl dripping celestial ichor. Actual blood you can feel and lose is so much grittier than leaking starlight, or glitter or whatever. Next time a I do a Seraphon story I will try to develop how real their bodies and their wounds are – just to give a bit of plot advancing jeopardy back to the poor, sterile things.

    individual Critiques - these stories can't be separated by quality. So you won't hear a lot of complaints from me. I will include nitpick corrections purely to demonstrate my superior proof reading. I will gush about what I loved, and then I will amaze you with my ignorance about the meaning of the stories and possibly the odd "but wouldn't it be cool if the author went down this alternate path" The latter is longhand for, gee I wish I had had this idea independently.

    Had had :) Far away a damp, blubbery eye twitches. A cultured voice intones, "its just not cricket...."

    Note - I planned a structure to my critiqques, but then I just wrote down every random thought I had. You have been warned....

    16 Hope for Sun
    First of all – AoS village saving? Sigh. But hey, you’ve got to have something to lose to have a reason to struggle, so this cliché serves the purpose. In the long run, though, undefended village stories which are about the village can be great (Midnight Chase by @Infinity Turtle , The Ghosts We Have by @Oldblood Itzahuan ) Ones where the village is the backdrop I think dilutes the urgency of the mission. Humans breed, right? We'll come back in a generation and it will all be hunky dory again.

    The battle – Super clear to follow and appreciate! The author described the field!!! Tactical context to the action was supplied!!! Description of real skirmish tactics, fighting withdrawal and other manoevres really underscored the author’s declaration abut the innate tactical nous of the Seraphon.

    The other guy... Hmm. Xilour the 2nd Scar vet had no story purpose other than to die (which she did awesomely), and she got a name and a whole point of view paragraph to break up the main story in a very bumpy way. The plot didn’t need her BUT the fascinating description of her return to Azyr to be spawned anew was one of my favourite explanations of the Seraphon rebirth process ever. So she can die anytime she likes from MY PoV.

    Theme – The hope here was kindled, then snatched away then unexpectedly renewed. Can’t ask for more than that.

    And then... – This was one of two that had me puzzled as to the meaning of the end. The last line, -“And the sun shone on his / her armour” was disjointed for me. Bar the title, and the reference to oncoming dawn the sun wasn’t a thematic feature of the story, so it didn’t tie things up for me. Confused :(

    Author clues – no idea.

    Nitpick. - Paragraph 6 - “Movements”, paragraph 7 “descent”, 3rd last para “Slaanesh”, last para “went”

    15 Vengeance’s Fire
    This author leapt into the vacuum created by @Lady Tor'ti Llaz's writers block only to find he/she was part of a movement of two (a twovement?)

    The battle – was completely ignored. Only the aftermath matters. My kind of author (battles are so much effort.)

    The weapon – is it daemon possessed? The fact that @Lady Tor'ti Llaz 's own canon shows that Lustria’s wise can’t identify the threat it poses. That thing is nasty, and now we think we know where it comes from. I’m much more interested in the motivations of the sword than the human. For a start. It wants a name – every owner gives it one. (rageflame, vengeances’ fire, fool-burner)

    Blessings - I echo @Warden's view about the quote about the betrayal of the norscan’s revenge not drawing khorne's blessing. I wonder if the sword was receiving the blessings instead of the user. Certainly when the owner is of no more use, the owner gets discarded.

    2 part story, two points of view – good word count balance - well done you. Also it’s clear who is thinking what. The well positioned double-speak all sounds very faithful to the real skaven conventions. Unlike the rotten conniving filthy skaven themselves.

    Politics – the plague rat / banishment thought bubble gives context to Thanquol’s later sell out of Pestilens, but gives no detail. What was he doing with them??? And what’s with a chaos goon hanging with his father, or caring how anyone else dies. That seems a bit too human.

    Theme – no hope here. @Slanputin and @discomute will be so pleased.

    Author clues – pretty sure it wasn’t @Lady Tor'ti Llaz (not enough detail). Otherwise, no idea.

    Nitpicks – none. Do I detect a bit of Scalenex elocution? (Scalenectrocution?) Well done anyway.

    14 Duty and Hatred: 3000, Part 2
    Presumably the sequel to Duty and Hatred 1999

    Right up front, the attention to detail and description is exquisite. So rich and clear.

    The first section gives us a taste of a forbidden ritual and then it goes away. Never to be explained. Aargh! Please do a prequel or sequel or phase 3 or whatever so I can understand.

    Hooray! Pestigors! So nice to have a different enemy, and they are so lavishly revolting. A real delight. And exciting uses for corrupted lizardmen. So many fresh ideas so prettily done. :)

    Omyitl, the crocodile saurus was an enigma. An awesome enigma. Why was he alone? Why did he have an assassin’s weapon? (I see it as a short sword stabby thing. He could have had paired weapons and it would have felt right.)

    The battle was vividly portrayed and super clear. The details of the Kroxigors taking orders, “saving the skinks, the grave, mud packs to prevent bloodspoor – all immediately visualisable. This story fits my category of the author being a master of the medium – he portayed precisely what he meant to and left nothing to chance.

    So what does it all mean? “ the last few blocks would never be carved” (with guardian names)? I say Omyitl was about to infect the pool, but does he die? Is the pool saved (for now)? Who ran off with the themes? I shall be confused forever.

    Author Clues- I say Warden is likely, based on the cliffside pool matching his geography. Against this possibility is the lack of sea monsters and floating temples.

    13 His Own Hands
    This one is a great lesson in instantly defining relateable characters. In about three sentences we have a self centred, sarcastic, cynical young man staring insolently at us. No way I’m saving that village.

    There are a few items that just stick out to me. Not in a bad way, but I noticed them more than was helpful to full immersion. Square toast??? People who aren’t @Scalenex saying “skite”??? Listing the threats from the forces of Chaos and Death without mentioning Destruction ??? (Maybe the jolly wee green forest folk are their friends. Along with their giant spiders).

    And what about the mysterious Ritter? His name randomly appeared about halfway through and then he fails the famous Houdini blanket escape near the end. I wonder if he is somehow connected to Dagmar’s annoying baby brother...

    OK no more nitpick, except for a big bunch of proofread type errors. Section 1 paragraph 1 “stuffed”, para 9 needs inverted commas at the start, para 10 has a broken sentence and a missing period. “Harti stormed away” belongs above the row of *****. Section 2 para 2 “it”. Section 3 para 2 “close”, para 3 missing a comma, para 3 “fowl war creatures” Where did the Chaos Chickens come from???, para 6 extra “and” missing comma and should be “until”. Section 4 para 1 “treatment”, para 3 has a broken sentence and a missing comma. Section 4 para 4 “sword”, para 5 a stray capital “O”. I remind you all that the Spawning of Bob proofread service hurts less if you use it prior to entering the comp. Anyhoo, the meaning of the story wasn’t obscured so no harm done. I’m just showing off.

    Back to the story. There are lots of ways of connecting ideas in a short story. Here the poetic tie in with “work of your own hands” was very slick.

    The old man is a good mystery. Is he of the community and known to Harti? If not, how does he know Harti’s words. The Red rimmed armour makes me think Khorne, but the trick seems too subtle. I’m going with The Keeper of Secrets being behind the plot.

    The duel is another well laid out, well paced and well described delight.

    Author clues – If, as I suspect, Harti and the man are going to eat Ritter, then the author is @discomute. Otherwise, I have no idea.

    I didn’t realise there were zero lizards until my third reading. I didn’t know a good story could even be written without lizards. Well done you.

    12 Warlord of Sorrow
    The sequel to Fireblade’s Challenge goes in a completely unexpected direction for me. I thought it would be all lizardmen internal politics from here on, but no... Another faction with veiled intent, a seemingly disposable character brought back with a vengeance! Theme – tick!

    Short and very sweet. Not a typical tied up short story, but a very fine next chapter. And another vivid piece of visual description. The necromancer is so detailed. Even his talking to himself makes perfect sense, being surrounded by generally silent “friends”

    · I have a few story construction “suggestions” but they are pretty lightweight and perfect for being ignored. It’s all a bit of a wall of text – more paragraph breaks would be a balm for the ancient eyes of the late night reader. It probably looked alright on word, but it pays to double check when doubl space when you export to L-O.
    · Fang pops out of the ground whole, with two yellow eyes (not bad for a pile of smoking chunks of meat, as we knew him from the last episode), but the Fireblade’s first slash put one of his eyes out last time. If I was the necromancer or the author, I would have left the eye damage as a reminder of Fang’s desire to avenge and as a parallel to the Fireblade’s own missing eye.
    · The usual convention is LM using glyphs (ie hieroglyphs) rather than runes for written language.
    · Fang looks back and can read “traitor” on his headstone. I think this should have happened a third of the way into that paragraph not at the end (after “ and then eye of a red scaled saurus.”) to be the trigger for his more recent, less happy memories. He could still look at the stele at the end to tie it up with his thoughts, or even smash the stone.
    · The biggy. The minutely detailed saurus revenant does not have missing teeth described. Yet he gets christened Brokenfang. My poor brain.

    My definition of plot hole is something unsaid which makes you think. Plot holes are not inherently bad if a plausible explanation is to hand, or to enhance a feeling of mystery. They just give a feeling that the story is bigger than what you can see at the time. Bad plot holes jolt you out of suspension of disbelief with a crashing WTM. This story has... narrative gaps... which do not jar, but I am going to ask my questions out loud.
    · Does Krahen just keep a spare skink around just in case he needs a memory ritual?
    · How does Krahen know that this saurus has a thirst for revenge?
    · How does a pile of smoking meat learn that the Fireblade had “corrupted an entire city, maybe even all of Lustria.”

    · And now one of the gaps between all three stories – How did Krahen find Fang? Could the blade have corrupted Fang’s body and drawn the necromancer that way? Or is Krahen on the trail of the sword? Such possibilities, none of which this author probably intended

    I am so excited about the broader narrative. We have a demon blade, a rat-plot, a necromancer with obviously clear but mysterious motivations, hate, rage and vengeance all round. Sounds like a delicious recipe. Best served cold.

    Author Clues – It must be our very own self writer's block unblocking @Lady Tor'ti Llaz

    11 Commune

    TDFs parodical laser treatment of this is sublime, but I disagree with his interpretation. I think Emman actually succeeded in his intent, just for the wrong reasons. The outcome will also be not as expected, but he could still be the hero. Then he will mess up again.

    I’ll nit pick first – So the priestess stores complaints as a dwarf counts his coiffeurs. Even a particularly hoardy duardin is unlikely to have several hairstyles... I’m sure you meant coffers (a small strongbox or chest)

    You “rout” out a daemon. You “route” out an ungrammatical map.

    “maybe it tainted the flagellant’s libation...” needs an “if”.

    Moving on – Wordpower. What a lovely collection of words, some of which I recognised, but have never used, some I went to look up to understand their use in the context. This author is a fierce and cold blooded wild thesaurus. Run away! Run away!

    The setting was beautiful despite no actual detail – it was all dreamy and poetic and pushed the imagination of a cliff to fly for itself. :spiderman::spiderman:

    The characters and their relationships were instantly relateable, instantly dislikable. How do you know my work colleagues? :spiderman::spiderman::spiderman:

    The third last paragraph of dreams fracturing and eroding was pure poetry. :spiderman::spiderman::spiderman::spiderman:

    As for the story itself, I smile whenever the pathetic warmbloods try to worship us. Their efforts are so irrelevant to our inscrutable ends, but their hearts are in the right place. In this case, on an altar.

    I think an opportunity was missed to increase the drama of the telling. This happens: “The Prophetess shouted at him, one sentence, again and again. He didn’t care, it was his time.” Later we find out she was saying “It’s not time. It’s not time.” Which is a cool image. But if she had said it upfront, “He didn’t care. It was his time.” Could have been a paragraph to itself and the decision point / climax / pivot point of the story. Then he takes irreversible action and we see the consequences.

    What does it all mean? I say Emman summoned a daemon. Which drew the return of the Seraphon. Then it was banished again (although it would manifest more easily in future), and the cavalry arrives with nothing to fight. By rites (sic) they should probably kill the summoner just in case. Poor Emman

    Author Clues: This author got one of my two agony votes. The main protags echo @thedarkfourth ‘s priests in Blasphemy and dreamy / nightmary imagery is typical of @Slanputin . Either should be proud of this. Is there a dark horse in the field? Let’s eat it!

    Author clues revisited with extra Boblogical analysis. She is a prophetess of Tepok. She has a big hat. Is Tepok the Big-hatted Old One? Perhaps @Y'ttar Scaletail is the author-thing!

    10 The Ritual of Words Yet Unvoiced
    Automatic vote. This story deserves deep consideration from any aspiring author. It is a masterclass of some very well executed writing techniques.

    Let’s start with economy of words. In 18 lines we know everything we need to know about Hutl and the defence of Tlax. And most of those lines are dialogue. This is showing not telling condensed, refine and cast into an ingot of pure gold.

    Somehow description is lavish, without really saying anything. This is assisted by a fantastic use of vocabulary – “Soon the lost city of Tlax would be conjured again, its immemorial guardians permitted to ruminate, for one more annual moment, on what they had failed to save.” The duels are nothing but the bare necessities, but they are easy to picture and feel. Jumps in time are executed incredibly clearly – there is no confusion as to what is happening to whom and when. A lot of things happen “off camera” which saves narrative space, but the reader still knows that a lot is going on. This story blends the two theme elements absolutely perfectly – there is no hope without vengeance, and vice-versa. Grounding the story in the context of the army book gives it immediate weight – this is obviously important stuff. It is a gritty and dark story which bubbles with humour because the characters carry the jokes or are just amusing, happy people - For this reason, even the lame jokes don’t get blamed on the author (I should take notes).

    Advanced Technique – Lampshading. When you have a giant plot hole / ass-pull that the reader can’t miss, just lampshade the sucker and move on. The easiest way to do this is for one of the characters to ask the question the reader might reasonably want answered, and move on. For weird suspension of disbelief reasons, it doesn’t even need to get a plausible answer for this to plug the hole. The two obvious examples are the two “wha... how did you get in here, daemon?” examples, but the self commentary in the lame pun-fest at the end is also lampshading – the author acknowledges that he/she has pulled out something outrageous, thereby sharing the joke with the reader rather than insulting their intelligence. But calling someone “Anqipanki” is a definite low blow. All marks deducted.

    Back to the actual story. It might (I don’t know) be better to not have the daemon’s spear “magically” deflect in the final section. Rather to link the ghosts “permitted to ruminate, for one more annual moment, on what they had failed to save” purpose of the ritual (which is a hopeless situation) with the fact that “the ghosts turned to stare at her” (that is, Panquetzl interacted with the ghosts). The result is the flesh and blood defenders of Tlax got to see precisely what they had failed to save, not the abstraction that they may have thought of as they died in hopeless defeat. As a result, Hutl found enough strength /vengeance / guile to win his duel and hope was kindled.

    A variation on this would be that Panquetzl somehow revealed the daemon’s weakness, which Hutl exploited – but that dilutes the theme of vengeance being requisite for hope.

    Making the above work properly would involve removing payback from Hutl’s motivation at the beginning of the story – “Andthat’s for what you did to Xahutec! I was spawned in Xahutec you bastards!” he says. Probably removing hope from the defenders altogether. Even the mission to rouse the Slann can be cast as hopeless. (“but what is the point, one space frog against so many...”). At the end of the process, Hutl’s likeable character and mannerisms would be sacrificed on the altar of Bob’s lust for complex thematic symmetry. I am a cruel god.

    Now for the fridge logic moments:

    Umm. What was Tlax’s Slann actually doing during this attack? What good was she going to do anyway? Is it possible that the daemon itself was a necessary ingredient of the ritual, along with Panquetzl’s vengeance? Why was the daemon one of the aliens from The Simpsons? Why did Hutl resort to terrible one liners at the end, without showing a propensity for this in the other two sections of dialogue he enjoyed? What would Arnie have said?

    Author Clues: @thedarkfourth is this good. Others are also this good, but less likely to leave a happy feeling at the end. (See above: "let's eat Ritter!" - see how a single missing comma can ruin a sentence?)

    9 Purpose
    Automatic vote. The main character, Roq was having a tough day at the office. Every event / decision in the story, overlaid with what we know about temple guardians made the dilemmas facing him crystal clear, and the fact that every choice he made had drastic opportunity costs articulated the kind of crippling doubt that would paralyze a lesser cold blooded automaton. How was this done?

    Real jeopardy folks. Watch George Lucas sometime and count the numbers of instances of unnecessary jeopardy – it makes the movie visually exciting, but does nothing to advance the plot or build characterisation. Follow the next sequence and try to spot the bits that are important to the plot:

    There is a big and long space battle. 2 Jedi get on the command ship. They get stuck in a lift. They get apprehended in a lift. A droid gets in trouble. They find the Senator and kill the Count, revealing a dark tendency. They get captured in a corridor. They have a chat. They have a fight. General Grievous escapes. The ship they are in blows up for no particular reason. They land half-a-ship on a planet, failing to crash it onto Jarjar Bink’s sorry ass.

    OK, I concede that a lot of characterisation occurred in there, but was there a single reason for a Bongo ride through the fish infested heart of Naboo, or the deleted scene immediately afterwards where the Bongo gets swept over a waterfall and the aquatic comic relief and the unkillable jedi are in mortal danger? No. (That felt good. Stick that up your palanquin @NIGHTBRINGER )

    Technically, the description of the environment and the unique spawning process was superb. The battle in flashback was palpably chaotic and messy, without laying on detailed gore. The fight with the assassins was harrowing and well laid out and rats haven’t been this menacing since the 1st of April last year.

    The author documented Roq’s plunge from utter sureness of purpose to anxiety as he bounced off panic at drowning in dying rats, fear of failure, loss of purpose, and fear of making the wrong choice. His recovery from despair touched accepting control of his own destiny which allowed him to find new purpose. The entire arc was travelled without his courage once being called into question. He reminds me a bit of Ta’avik in the award winning Fear, except that guardian never recovered and his fear paralysed and killed him.

    The amount of off-screen jeopardy was great, too. Green flashes and distant explosions tells us that this is just part of a wider, more complex engagement. Everyone in the city was having a bad day.

    I agree with @discomute , that the dead slann could have been revealed a little later to increase the shock value to Roq, but it was a necessity that this reveal be first or thereabouts in his character arc, so no biggy.

    I was delighted to find two apostrophe errors. “Intruder’s” (singular, possessive) should be “intruders’ ” (plural, possessive), and “it’s hip caved in” should be “it’s”. No other errors.

    Author clues. Scalenex is apostrophe anal (apostrophanal?) Scalenex likes to hide his tracks. Therefore the author is Scalenex.

    Bonus joke.
    Q. How did the skaven get into the city?
    A. Intruder sewers.

    8 Call of the Stars

    Another poetic entry. The as-yet-unnamed hero starts with urges and basic instincts with awareness tugging him from a distance. As he acts, at first for survival, then other forgotten instincts he unlocks the mystery of his identity and purpose. Or something like that.

    For me “poetic” evokes feelings and sensations through the written medium. In this story’s case this happens without compromise of a vivid and exciting duel for dominance.

    Given the wordsmith’s artistry, it was a bit surprising to find some little inconsistencies, for example the patchy use of italics and bold, and some confusion over the use of he and it. Clearly it should have been :she” in every case.

    And “it’s should have been “its” in the last paragraph. I have never been happier with @Scalenex's proofreading.

    Author Clues: @Slanputin can do light and sensation like this, but I understood all of the words, so probably not her. The title has nothing to do with the story so it could be @Lady Tor'ti Llaz (as per her clue). If we call this one “Warlord of Sorrow” and then we give that one the title "The Next Generation”. Then "The Next Generation” could be called “Call of the Stars” And then everything would be fixed. I assume @Scalenex jumbled the titles by accident.

    7 Sacred Spawning
    It reads more like a history. I think the distinction is that a history is a story about events, rather than about characters - some people love that (me). That said, the panic of the evacuation was palpable, and the description of the glows in the unique spawning chamber was beaut. There were lovely English word choices (calendrical) and well chosen, but not overdone saurian phrases. For the translation guide, go here.

    My favourite aspect of Sacred Spawning? The brilliant detail about the different roles and casts in society.

    On the gripe side, it really stood out that this kahoun (minor city) wasn’t given a name, while other cities were freely named. A history that gives a date, but not a location feels weird. As for word choices, there can sometimes be a bit too much thesaurus. Like the sentence that was “terse and brief” (and redundant). And it should have been “a millenium ago”.

    Author Guesses: The society is complex enough to be from @Scalenex , @pendrake or @Warden, but proof read errors are not typical of any of them. (except for Scalenex, he’s hopeless.)

    6 Sacred Duty
    Automatic vote for what this one did to my emotions. I almost teared up on the second reading. Why? I instantly engaged with the characters. Instantly, in this case meaning after the first 4 lines. Trakzi the trog wants to be a parrot and a dog, Kytzl’s affection for her is apparent by the doting smile, even though he feels uneasy about the unusual activity of the divining rod.

    The bond between them is everything. Without it, we can’t feel Kytzl’s loss and the assertion that he will fight on “for Trakzi”, rather than Sotek has no weight.

    Good characters and arc alone don’t a perfect story make. This story also gives beautiful insights into the hunting and fighting behaviours of a troglodon; A fight described not in visual terms but by smell, taste and sense of touch and noting that Trakzi was disadvantaged by losing another primary sense – hearing (Real and visceral jeopardy - fantastic); a very unpleasant and claustrophobic death from the “viewpoint” of a blind monster; some thoughts about the many practical uses of a divining rod; and a skink going graphically berserk with rage and grief.

    This story joins others which beg the question “but what happens next?” This time I know the answer: After Tehenhuan, Prophet of Sotek offers a friendly helping hand (WTM?), he hears Kytzl’s heretical “for Trakzi” whereupon the oracle is set upon by a sea of venomous serpents. He survives this, but not having his heart cut out as a fair restitution for Sotek.

    Author Theories: I hope a gurl wrote this, because then I can blame my being of the weaker sex for the fact that I can’t manipulate emotions like this.

    5 The Next Generation
    Hooray! Parody! I am not Star Trek Next Gen savvy, but I can relate because the characters are all old school Star Trek based (which I watched when it first came out. Sunday afternoons Star Trek and Get Smart ). Actual knowledge of Age of Sigmar lore is almost unnecessary – aside from the memory mechanic.

    The medic / magician mechanic is extremely clever. If you thought he was just a funny idea or plucky comic relief, look again. Every other single character in the story knows exactly what is going on – without a naïve character’s viewpoint there can be no tidy explanation of what is happening and no plot twist at the end.

    Plot holes abound, but the use of tired clichés is all of the explanation required to paper over them. The battle is messy and confusing – as the story requires. Even the suggested tactic in the 2nd last paragraph makes no particular sense. I choose to laugh with the author rather than try too hard to understand.

    One error found in the “I can also mortlly wound...” sentence. “I can also cause mortal wounds by using my tricorder backwards like a club” would read better and be more fun.

    Author Suspicions: A rhyming character? Welcome to the L-O story competitions @Karak Norn Clansman!

    4 A Whimper
    I can’t add much to the critiques here. I liked this a lot after the first read. After reading @discomute insight, I double like it. There is room for adding as much depth as the reader’s imagination can add.

    The story is technically very well polished. We have another author who wrote precisely what he/she meant to, but who trusts the reader to take the story further.

    Author evidence: This echoes @Slanputin 's Act of Cessation but A Whimper's downer ending is way too happy and optimistic for the psychedelic slann to have written it. So I don’t know.

    3 Hammer of the Lost
    To quote @Bowser : “What good is the memory of a memory?” This study of the Seraphon memory mechanic indicates that a memory of a memory with amnesia is a small mercy in a universe desolate of hope. Bleeping Age of Sigmar.

    Kai-Otl is a more effective killing machine given the absence of regret or despair for the glories lost. Rex-Op is perhaps a better marshall of the Seraphon’s might given that he does remember a distant past without war and he can see the promise of peace after conflict ends. (he says “Friend, do not take out your frustration on this land that knows nothing of the battles fought upon it. It may yet know peace if left well alone.”) The Slann may be better managers of the “ghosts of Lustria” than I had imagined.

    As a parallel process, we get to decide if it is better to have loved and lost than to have never love at all (in a cold-blooded way – no hugs). I say that Kai-Otl was the lucky one, and that Rex-Op should leave him to dream.

    The story format is rather “wall of text” – more paragraph breaks help the eye. I actually liked the sequence of

    - Rex was nearby...
    - 5 saurus guard...
    - etc etc

    It is unorthodox, but it conveyed that a lot of things were happening simultaneously in the battle, and Kai-Otl was aware of all of them and capable of making tactical decisions in the thick of it.

    The first paragraph manifestation from the realmgate was beautiful.

    Some sentences were equally lovely “... hefting them with a hiss that emanated impossibly from mouths that had no tongue, from chests that held no lungs”.

    Another great and followable duel with real jeopardy. You could feel the crunch of every impact on hide and bone. The dark magic was suitably corrupt.

    The story is in two sections, but they seemed to balance alright to me, both in length and “weight”.

    Author Guess: I’ll go out on a limb and say @Oldblood Itzahuan , author of another seraphon and deathrattler story, The Ghosts We Have.

    2 Those Left Behind

    The relationship of the story chunks is a big tease. I couldn’t figure it out. I don’t know how they were related in time or geography. I want it to be that the Skink Priest (no name ☹ ) was in the city all along and wanted to warn the relieving force about the trap, but there aren’t enough shared data points for me to be confident. And the meaning of the priest’s resolve (“because I must”) varies according to scenario. Is there hope or not? Please let me know in phase 3!

    The conversation between the priest and her messenger, Br’kk felt real, with much left unspoken, but it did really drop the pace and temperature of the story – not necessarily a bad thing. It can be like cutting in the middle of a movie battle scene to a quiet bit of dialogue, or defusing a bomb or something. The trick is to get the plot or emotional intensity of the scenes to a similar level so that it isn’t a momentum killer. Think about the battle for Minas Tirith cutting with the madness of Denethor in wanting to burn himself and Faramir alive. Try not to think of the end of the battle for Helm’s Deep cutting with Sam Gamgee’s speech in Osgiliath.

    And yes, it was another gritty and palpable battle, with skaven almost as menacing and disgusting as @Y'ttar Scaletail 's gym locker.

    One typo detected – “Another ratmen leapt forwards...”

    Author assumptions: I’ve no idea.

    1 Hope is in Order
    I love the broken format of the first paragraph (the same one that everyone else decried). The image-heaviness and the irregular breaks brings to mind “modern poetry” as sensations and visions scatter and reform in an off beat rhythm. So I say “screw you” to the doubters in the form of Haiku.

    The mind, a still pond
    Sudden ripples bring delight
    Or is it unease?

    Everyone (me included) loves an outcast. With my unshakable faith in the Great Plan, I suggest that a thieving skink is just a plaque we haven’t interpreted yet. With Yami, I would like to think that he was spawned a skink oracle but it was missed because he had a single tail. His kleptomania was a result of his talents not having an outlet.

    The story doesn’t say if he had found an artefact in the jungle, only that there were runes he was studying. Did he find a shrine or carved building? A tablet? Was this something he had stolen from the city earlier? Either way, I hope the thing + star lines + Yami = Rosetta Stone and the result is that the Slann open vast new tracts of knowledge of the Great Plan. The thing is never mentioned again, so I assume it work was done with opening Yami’s inner eyes. Maybe it dissolved.

    Luckily he was rescued by friendly humans. They would have been a great snack for the patrolling skinks. The rest of the story is history, but I imagine that the next time we see Yami he will be full fledged blind oracle, paired with a blind troglodon and they will be an utter terror to the things of darkness and he pilfers and pillages the lost treasures of the Old Ones from their unholy grasp.

    Yam’s auditory perception of the bubbling rise of the Slann was great, paralleling the sensory feast in Sacred Duty.

    There were little errors. In the first paragraph, the revered “Old Ones” deserve capitals. Mating “Bloat toads” do not. In the second paragraph, “He” is capitalised, “Stony” shouldn’t be, and “Yamis vision” needs an apostrophe. And, in the third big paragraph, if the temple city has a “boarder”, I want to know if he/she/it shares a fridge and a bathroom with the owners. Who pays the phone bills? There is much potential for future story conflict right here!

    Author Clues:
    The author's true self
    Is not to be discovered
    by my blurred sight

    Critiques done. Best Comp Eva. Thank you General @Scalenex.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  16. Slanputin

    Slanputin Well-Known Member

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    This! I have a bias towards ambiguity in writing, and I find it's the works that tease your imagination whilst balancing it against a robust character-arc that tend to be the most rewarding. Generally, too many authors lean towards the clean-cut ending, the ending where "and they all made it home in time for dinner" in which all conflicts are resolved. The more identifiable a story is the more the work reflects some aspect of the real-world, no matter how much of an escapist-piece it is. One of the major constants in real-life is uncertainty - even our brains (via the amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex) are hard-wired to calculate our response to ambiguity. Embracing this in some respect really nails down the character as something the reader can identify with: moral questioning, uncertainty in relationships, social angst, pursuing emotional catharsis vs. reasoned response, decision-making in high-risk scenarios etc.

    All stories should reach catharsis (in the literary sense) but that doesn't require a book-end conclusion to neatly tie everything together. The character reaching closure doesn't negate what has happened to them. For example, a character might be reunited with their lost daughter (catharsis!) but the methods of reunion will have altered their relationship (ambiguous conclusion.)

    Hope and vengeance are great themes within which ambiguity can be effectively applied - both involve actions towards for change, and both orbit causality. By the end of the piece the character will have changed in some degree through action, offering some closure by resolving their arc, however in the grander narrative the events which motivated the character remain and have been the main influence which altered the character, no matter how much a character acted on their own. After the climax ambiguity remains to define the character post-narrative, whilst also altering the world through their new perspective.

    One of my favourites, A Whimper, got a lot of critique on its short-length and focus on the mundane. This is why I liked it however - I interpreted it as an exercise in ennui. We know by the end the character has moved from the visceral incentive to embrace an nihilistic perspective on their quest; their future uncertain and their motivation dry.

    I still haven't repented. I find action scenes the dullest to read and write. I agree that most succeeded in using the action as a vector for character/plot development rather than a directionless-if-imaginative piece.

    I think I know. But I also think that I might not know. I think I know more than I think I don't know, but what do I even know - do you know?

    One more thing
    Because this comp I'm all about throwing my two cents/pence about.

    The one thing that tripped me up on a number of the stories were the amount of authors who told me what was going on rather than showing me. For example: don't tell me that this person is lonely, show me their physical dejection, their psychological projection, how their actions result from their situation or even consolidate it. That city is deserted? Don't just tell me it's empty: was it recent? Then what about a lonely dinner cooling on a family table; is the character a citizen? describe how their memories of metropolitan life haunt the echoic temples. The examples are general, but you get the idea.

    A quote I came across recently summerises this nicely:
    "being told is an explanation, being shown is a revelation"

    It's easy to critique, so I need to add that as much as I can roll an incredibly long yarn on writing and meta-critiques I did enjoy every single one. Group-inspiration ftw.

    @Carnikang i'm still waiting your second review. Quantify me.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2017
  17. discomute

    discomute Well-Known Member

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    Wow. Just when I think things can't get better. My favourite so far, it will be voted for.

    The action is amazingly written. I can't write action this good I'm very jealous. The character is believable. And through the simple and fun story we get an undertone of a warrior seeking purpose. My only criticism is the title - 'purpose' is what the story is about but it's better hinted at than directly pointed out. I think. Overall my fav so far!
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  18. Carnikang

    Carnikang Well-Known Member

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    Don't worry @Slanputin , ill be doing the rest soonish. Have a very busy few days ahead, including Valentines for my other half. Words will be wrought and a quantity matched, but first love must be sought and spawnlings put to their beds in a timely manner.
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  19. spawning of Bob

    spawning of Bob Well-Known Member

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  20. Slanputin

    Slanputin Well-Known Member

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    *upside-down smile emoji*
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