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Contest January-February 2022 Short Story Contest Reading Thread

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, Feb 7, 2022.

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Which story do you like best? (choose ONE)

Poll closed Mar 1, 2022.
  1. Story One: The Tale of the Lizards and the Vermin

    6 vote(s)
    46.2%
  2. Story Two: "Throw Caution to the Wind"

    3 vote(s)
    23.1%
  3. Story Three: "Murder Under the Nile"

    2 vote(s)
    15.4%
  4. Story Four: "Poisoned Water Supply"

    2 vote(s)
    15.4%
  1. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    The theme for our 29th seasonal short story contest, provided by @Killer Angel and @Aginor , was "Parasites"

    Please read all four stories before voting. You may vote for ONE piece.

    The order of the stories was determined completely randomly. The order has no bearing on which pieces were submitted in what order.

    If someone wants me to fix a typo or formatting error that slipped through the cracks. Please let me know by private message AND please post the entire story with all changes made. It's lot easier for me to copy and paste a new story rather than for me to dig through the text to find the two or three errant sentences.

    Four pieces is fewer than we usually see, but they are still four very good pieces and four very different pieces, so I hope you all enjoy reading them and place your votes carefully.

    The Tale of the Lizards and the Vermin


    From the Book of Fun Stories to Traumatise Your Children, by the Brothers Grimmdark, humble servants of the Empire.

    Once upon a time there was a family of skaven with no bread or cheese to eat. The sneaky rat-people starved, for they had already stolen and eaten all the nearby food and had nothing left on which to gnaw but chunks of glowing warpstone, and that's not very nice to eat!

    But rats are always cunning, so instead of giving up, they formed a new plan. They left their home where there was no food, and they went through their tunnels around the world to the far-off land of Lustria, where the lizard-people live. In Lustria you can find plenty to eat, as everything grows in abundance and to great size. However, it is also a very dangerous land, as most of the plants and almost all the animals are quite deadly, and the poor skaven family found they still couldn't get their paws on any food without risking their lives, which no rat will ever do willingly.

    The only place in Lustria with safe food was the great city of the lizard-people. But as everyone knows, the reptilians hate all warm-blooded outsiders, and do not share their wealth with anyone. The rats tried to buy food by trading their warpstone, which they considered precious. But the lizards hated warpstone and would not trade. So the sneaky rodents hatched a new plan.

    They waited until the lizards had a great battle with some invaders, and when the battle was finished, they snuck out and stole some of the dead lizard bodies, one for each member of the skaven family (which was very large, like all rat families, with dozens of siblings and cousins). Then they carefully cut the skin off the bodies and used their special skaven chemicals to preserve it.

    First, the oldest rat son went to the lizard city, dressed in the skin of one of the dead lizards. He pretended to be a traveling scholar from Itza, the lizard capital. He presented forged credentials and asked to serve as a teacher to young lizards.

    The city was only too happy to accept such a learned scholar. The rat was given a place to live and as much food as he wanted from the city stores. By day he taught classes of young lizards, and by night he snuck back to his family, bringing them food. But he didn't dare bring too much in case he was noticed. The skaven family still needed a way to get more.

    Soon enough, a second "traveling lizard" arrived at the lizard city - this time it was the skaven's oldest daughter, in another lizard skin. The oldest son claimed that she was an old friend from Itza, and the lizards accepted her on his recommendation. She was given a job keeping and training the lizards' pet monsters.

    Before long, the lizard city suffered a series of strange disappearances; their citizens were going missing or dying in unfortunate accidents. And yet the city was strangely lucky, for each time, a lizard was lost, a new one would arrive from Itza with exactly the right skillset to take over the job they had.

    Of course, this was all the work of the skaven family, who managed to get themselves all employed in the city, and were enjoying unrestricted access to its food stores. Unknown to the true lizards, they lived among them, draining their supplies and teaching their sneaky ideas to their young.

    And yet just when the skaven thought everything was going perfectly, they discovered a problem. One of the lizards they had secretly murdered to make room for themselves turned out not to be a lizard, but another skaven they didn't recognise! They searched its rooms and found a secret trapdoor leading to tunnels beneath the city. A whole other family of skaven had been living under the lizard city before the new family had even arrived! Some of them also pretended to be lizards to enter the city above, while most were living in the tunnels.

    Some of the skaven wanted to join forces and combine the two families. But most skaven are very untrusting, and each feared the other would betray them. Soon they fell to fighting each other, and in the chaos, the real lizards discovered what was happening.

    The lizard-people tried to kill as many skaven as possible, but they realised they could never be sure if they'd got rid of them all. Instead, they gathered all their possessions and left, moving away to a new city, leaving nothing behind but uninhabited ruins and the few surviving skaven living in the tunnels below.

    And so the skaven began to starve again, and they had no choice but to travel back through their tunnels and arrive in a new land where they were not known.

    Moral: Children, do not deceive others, for deception destroys the deceived and the deceiver alike. And never trust strangers offering just what you need!

    Throw caution to the wind


    A light breeze blew over the banks of the Questing Serpent River. The usual dark blue water now glowing with a bright green hue. Slowly the river brought the filth of chaos out to sea, cleansing the land around it of the Nurgle infestations.
    In the breeze a cloak of feathers moved back and forth. Overseeing the delta Yuq'al-takuil stood firm with a smile of satisfaction on his face. The battle was won, with a minimum of casualties. The corruption by Nurgle stopped, all deamons were slain.

    Suddenly a bright icy-blue light surrounded Yuq'al-takuil. Behind him several beams of light breached the clouds above and cascaded figures down below in a cold light. Saurus warriors, Skinks and even Kroxigors. In a couple of seconds the battlefield was left alone, not a soul to be found in sight.

    ----

    High above the plains of Ghur multiple pyramid shaped objects floated in the sky. On the outside it looked like giant temples of old, battered and weathered stone, partially covered with vegetation. If one was able to see them, this high up, they would not be able to make out what these things were, let alone how they possibly were kept afloat.

    ----

    Aboard one of them the transporter room bathed in the same icy-blue light that now vanished at the surface of Ghur. Yuq'al-takuil stepped out of the light in to the room. Immediately the light faded and disappeared. In the fading several scaled forms started to take shape. Five Skinks walked around the room pressing buttons and pulling levers until all light was gone. For a moment the room was pitch black. Yuq'al-takuil took a deep breath he was back home.
    With a sound click the small yellowish lights at the ceiling sprang on. The busy Skinks removed their shaded visors that they had been wearing while the bright light was on. The oldest of the Skinks stood up from behind his control panel to greet the Skinkpriest. “Welcome back, sir!”, he approached him bowing forward, “What an outstanding victory you have claimed today!”
    “Thank you, Tak’ek Muntoc.” Was Yuq'al-takuil’s reply, “Are we all back?”
    “Yes, sir, all the living have returned. You are the last.”
    “Fine. Good job.”

    Yuq'al-takuil left the transporter room. As he walked in to the corridor he shook his head and mumbled under his breath: “Suck up!”

    Although his own Constellation had not suffered that many losses Yuq'al-takuil knew that of the other Constellations at least two had taken countless victims to the swarming hordes of Nurgle. Their strategy had seem so watertight and all would have been relatively smooth sailing for them. They did not account for the Realm portal to be kept open for that long. Atop of it the portal was unexpectedly widened to fit a dozen of Greater Deamons and even a Great Unclean One.
    Even the exceptional Saurus Guards couldn’t hold the tide of Nurgle for that long.
    It was to divine magic shielding and a shower of comets by the great extent of their Slanns that they regained the upper hand and they were able to destroy the portal.

    -----

    The communications room was two floors above the transporter room. Yuq'al-takuil had to walk three corridors and take the escalator at the far end of the ship to get there. Along the way he passed the barracks of Skinks and Kroxigors. The barracks of the Saurus were stationed at the opposite side of the floor.
    The fast and light-footed Skinks were busy as usual, they always made their hands find or create work. In stark contrast with the mellow pace of the mighty Kroxigors next to them. But today there was something off about their behavior. At first Yuq'al-takuil had not really noticed it between all activity. It wasn’t until he watched and followed one Skink completing his task. Now and then the Skink interrupted his activities to scratch his nose and wipe his forehead. Yuq'al-takuil stopped and inspected another Skink to see the same behavior. And another, and another. All Skinks acted the same way. One of the Kroxigors started to act in a similar way, even more than the Skinks he seemed to scratch and sweat. What was even more different were his eyes, the usual yellow eyes were starting to glow red. First at the edge, but slowly it crawled to the middle, causing him to blink and rub his eyes.

    Yuq'al-takuil started running. With a rush he entered the communications room shouting at the Skinks on duty: “Shut down the barracks immediately, close all doors until further notice! Make a connection with the other ships, fast!”
    With a few touches on the dials a siren started to sound and alarm lights started flashing. With a buzz three holographic images appeared in front of the Priest. Two other Skink priests and a Saurus Old Blood. “Praised be the Old Ones!” Yuq'al-takuil said, and before waiting for any response he continued: “It seems that our ship has been infested in the aftermath of the battle. Be aware of any signs under your subordinates”

    ----

    On the lower floors the tumult was increased by tenfold as all Skinks and Kroxigors now scratched at their faces because of the itch they felt.
    Yuq'al-takuil watched from behind the closed door preparing for what was to come. In the corner of the barracks a Kroxigor sat down with his back against the wall he was curled over holding his knees and had his tail wrapped around him in a form of protection. He rocked slowly back and forth. Yuq'al-takuil figured that he was infected the most, so he probably was the one that had brought it on to the ship. In preparation of entering the barracks Yuq'al-takuil whispered a prayer of protection with his eyes closed. He opened his eyes again and turned a switch beside the door and manually overrode the closure protocol. With his staff in one hand and the other stretched out before him he approached the Kroxigor. Step by step the Priest moved closer all the while muttering a chant in a soft voice. With only five steps to go he pointed the staff at the Kroxigor a sphere of blue arcane light encased the Kroxigor. Only then did the Kroxigor lift his head and noticed the Priest.
    As soon as the Arcane sphere was set all other Skinks and Kroxigors stopped scratching and a sigh of relieve was heard and felt through the whole barrack.

    “What is it that you have with you?” Yuq'al-takuil asked
    “Don’t hurt us. It is my friend!” He replied, “it found me by the river.”
    The Kroxigor moved his tail and hands aside to reveal a little furry kitten laying asleep at his lap.

    A smile appeared on Yuq'al-takuil’s face. This was not what he had expected. He relaxed his open hand a little and the sphere shrunk, it no longer encased the total Kroxigor but only the kitten. Yuq'al-takuil rotated his hand sideways and the kitten started to ascent from the Kroxigors lap and float towards the Skink Priest.
    “Don’t hurt it!” the Kroxigor repeated.

    Yuq'al-takuil walked down the corridor floating the kitten along in front of him. He walked around the corner to the transporter room. The Kroxigor followed them with his eyes, through the welling tears he could see a flash of icy-blue light coming from around the corner.

    Murder Under the Nile


    Snikkit hurried down the narrow tunnels. The close walls brushed at his fur as he scurried forwards, giving him a sense of protection and reminding him of his burrow back at Skavenblight.

    The Warlord was not going to be pleased. Their tunnelling had had to stop due to a cave-in killing most of the Skaven slaves doing the digging. This meant that work would stop while they were dug out and put back to work or the bodies removed as obstables. Either way, they would need more slaves shipped in before they could continue moving forwards through the underway now being carved into the jungle lands.

    Snikkit reached a crossroads and took a left, immediately coming to a wooden door set into the tunnel. He banged the prescribed three times and, doubled almost completely over, entered the room with his most servile face on. The warlord had been known to execute and/or eat anyone disturbing him… but equally he had been known to do the same to those who didn’t tell him what was happening.

    Snikkit’s nose twitched. That metallic smell… Fully entering the room, he stopped cold. Warlord Grashik lay on his bed, face and body bloated beyond recognition. Knife wounds across his body could only mean one thing. Assassins! He crouched and looked around furtively. Nothing. Well, he could still leave before…

    Loud arguing approached the half-open door behind him. He span and froze in fear as the two other lieutenants scrambled in mid argument. “-speak-speak that you are to blame-blame, Niffit!” Just as the other shouted “-Warlord, I have brought this traitor-thing to you directly for eating so save-save you time-time!”

    Both speakers froze. Snikkit scrambled as far from the body as he could. “No-no, Snikkit just found-found Warlord like this. No sneaky stab-stab.” He could tell that they were having none of it.

    Niffit, the bigger of the two, smiled evilly revealing yellowed-fangs. “Well-well, sneaky-stab-stab... Big plan-plan for Snikkit, being big rat..."

    Snikkit squirted the musk of fear. As he backed away from the pair, the door behind them opened again and Warlord Grashik's trusted advisor stalked in, flanked by two burly Stormvermin.

    "Well, well. Ze sneaky-sneakers ‘ave gone to far-far zis time.”

    Snikkit grimaced. He wasn’t sure what part of the Underway or Skavenblight the advisor was from but his accent was almost incomprehensible. “I was just…” but the advisor cut him off.

    “No-no. All suspects you are-are. I will ‘ave-‘ave to look-squint at all evidence before slow kill-kill.”

    The other Lieutenants had been smirking to themselves at his misfortune and only now realized that they were included in this remark. “I just found-spotted him here. How I guilty-thing…” just as the other spluttered “He was here-here, nasty guilty…” but the advisor cut them both off.

    “No-no, guilty stench-smell, it is ‘ere.” The rat sniffed the air, its small set of whiskers carefully curled. “And I will not stop-cease, until all ze guilt is found.” The rat swirled dramatically so that his cloak flared out behind him. “For zat is ‘ow Poirat always gets-finds ze guilty.” Leaving the bulky Stormvermin guarding the door, Poirat took the first lieutenant to a separate room for interrogation.

    “Let no-one enter-leave.”

    -

    Snikkit had never seen Poirat at work, but he was morbidly fascinated with the investigation process. The other two lieutenants were each taken individually for several hours at a time, leaving the other two in silence as the two hulking Stormvermin glared down at them. Between each interview, Poirat stomped around the warlord’s room huffing and puffing through his snout watched by the bewildered Skaven.

    When it came to his turn for questioning, Snikkit followed the rat down a tunnel into a dimly lit room. Poirat peppered him with questions: When had he arrived in the room, when was the last time he had used the privvy, just how attracted he was to grubs and worms as foodstufffs… The questions went on and on. Some he could see the relevance of, some seemed whimsically chosen and some were just downright strange.

    “You ask-speak how many steps into room-burrow, before I sniff-smelt Warlord’s body?”

    “Last snack-eating was four hours ago…”

    “Stretch-open my muzzle? Why would you-AAAAARGH”

    “Um… I can fetch-carry some of my droppings…”

    Leaving Poirat sifting through large masses of his droppings, Snikkit began to wonder if the advisor had a secret stash of warpstone. He seemed a couple of rats short of a swarm…

    -

    “You may be think-pondering why I ‘ave called-summoned you all ‘ere today.”

    The advisor stalked up and down the room in front of the three lieutenants. The two hulking Stormvermin still stood either side of the door. Snikkit exchanged looks with the others, for once there was no bickering between them. The surreal experience had created a temporary ceasefire and they sat together just as bemused as each other. Poirat paused, striking a dramatic pose. The moment stretched out.

    Snikkit couldn’t take it any longer. “Haven’t been able to leave-flee-“

    “Exactly!” A feverish light had kindled inside the eyes of the advisor. “You ‘aven’t been able to leave-flee. None of you…”

    He started pacing again. “The killer is in ‘zis room-burrow.”

    The silence following this proclamation was profound. Broken only by the slight hissing sound as Snikkit, and possibly some others, squirted the musk of fear.

    “From the moment-time I entered zis room, I ‘ave kept it secure. I ‘ave taken-grabbed each of you for question-talk. Each time-moment I came back, the room-scene ‘ad change-moved. The killer ‘ides ‘is track-scent.”

    The three lieuntenants looked at each other. The silence returned, but this time there was a greater pressure as the nervous Skaven eyed each other.

    Poirat’s tail lashed behind him as he preened his curled whiskers again. “When I first entered ze room-burrow, I could tell-see by ze warlord’s bloating zat the killer ‘ad struck long before. Knife wound-gashes were for show-show, no sign of struggle-fight. The bag of grub-worms warlord ‘ad been eat-snacking would ‘ave long-since come out ozzer end-bottom of the killer-stabber…”

    Snikkit was not following at all. Glancing at the others he could see that he was not the only one.

    “Check-smell of your mouths-muzzle showed no recent food-snack, but on each look-glance ze bag of grub-worms was smaller and smaller.” He leaned closer to them. “The killer-stabber is still in zis room.”

    Snikkit nervously glanced around the room. There were no obvious hiding places in sight, but it wouldn’t be the first time a paranoid leader had commissioned a false wall, floor or ceiling in the event of a mutiny.

    “But where, I ask-question myself, could ze killer be ‘iding? I look-searched all tunnels surrounding zis one and found nothzing. Then I realized my mistake-folly…”

    Pulling a throwing knife from his belt, he spun and threw the knife into a section of the wall near the warlord’s body except that it stopped about a foot away. Poirat stepped closer as a body fell to the floor with the knife embedded in its shoulder. With the wound, the natural camouflage from the Chameleon Skink slowly reverted back to it’s natural green colour.

    “Only by process-check of elimination, could I work-find where ze killer was ‘iding through its musk-scent.” He grabbed hold of the lizard and pulled it to its feet. “To kill-maim immediately is waste, we must find-question about what ozzer Lizard things are in ze tunnels.” He signalled the Stormvermin and then hustled the wounded lizard out of the room.

    The other lieutenants sighed a collective sigh of relief and filed out of the room, resuming their bantering argument but now about who would be the warlord now.

    Snikkit remained in the room. Something about the set-up niggled at him like a piece of gristle stuck in his back teeth. Something just didn’t add up.

    He walked over to the body of the warlord. The poison-bloated body was covered in knife wounds and the stench was now almost too much to be able to stand close to the body for any length of time. He realized what it was. He had seen the warlord fight on despite several wounds from weeping-blades and it made no sense that he would have been senseless after a couple of darts. A feeling of panic slowly blossomed in his stomach as he backed away from the body. The only way there could have been no struggle is due to too much poison. Too many darts simultaneously.

    There wasn’t a killer. There were SEVERAL killers.

    He scrambled towards the door, he had to get away. What if the other lizards were still here. He had to-

    He skidded to a stop. The hallway was filled with the lifeless bodies of hulking Stormvermin and the lieutenants, resembling spiny sea creatures with blowdarts sticking out of them all over their flesh. Pressing himself to the wall and trying to watch all directions at once, he inched past the bodies. Lying on the floor beyond was the still form of Poirat, for once his features frozen into a look of shock.

    Snikkit didn’t spend any more time looking, he frantically scrabbled his way past and ran for the nearest exit.

    -

    La’Xiu berated Ka-Liq as they climbed through the foilage of the jungle with the rest of the pack of Chameleon Skinks. “You just couldn’t hold on til lunch, could you?! You just HAD to keep eating the forsaken things and give us away.” He shook his head. “Do you have anything to say for yourself?!”

    Ka-Liq hung his head low and muttered something unintelligible.

    “What?”

    “And I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for those pesky rats.”

    Poisoned Water Supply


    The sweltering desert sun burned bright onto the small Western town, but where Viktor was standing, thick canvass had blocked out most of the sun’s light leaving him standing in an artificial twilight. The canvass didn’t keep out the heat though, and the heat intensified the smells.

    The makeshift hospital tent smelled of blood, sweat, and back door trots. Despite keeping the tent flaps closed most of the time, a countless flies had managed their way in.

    At least two dozen were lying on simple cots. Men, women, and children. There were some weak moans of pain, but a lot of the patients were silent, having fallen unconscious or semiconscious. Nurses, most of them untrained volunteers, fluttered around trying to change soiled clothes and apply damp rags to feverish foreheads.

    The town doctor turned towards Viktor and spoke.

    “This is only getting worse. Many are still standing and working but a great many are showing stomach aches which all of these patients complained about before they became seriously ill later. This is only going to get worse I suspect whatever caused this illness is in the water.”

    Viktor swept his eyes across the room causing the doctor and all his attendants flinched under the witch hunter’s gaze. Then he spoke.

    “This is no ordinary illness. This is the work of evil. I suspect the heathen Rangos have called upon their blasphemous ‘Old Ones” to curse us with this sickness. I will go up river to investigate the source of this evil”

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Not far away several skinks were lying near the bank of a stream. Some were moaning of stomach pain and others were unconscious or semiconscious. The attending priest anointed them with mud to cool them and bestow the serenity of the earth’s healing powers upon them but to no avail.

    The skink priest staggered and clutched his stomach.

    “A few of the sauruses are showing early symptoms too, almost all the skinks have it now. I believe I have the sickness too, in less than a day I will barely be able to stand. ”

    I am fine.” Ecodohl said.

    “Heh, you are always fine, warrior. You are the strongest skink among us. Though we may all die if we cannot figure out what is causing the sickness. I believe something foul is in the water. Perhaps the local humans have poisoned us or simply dumped their waste in the river.” The priest said.

    “I will check upriver.” Ecodohl said shaking some dust out of the feathers on his arms and checking the stock of his rifle.

    “Don’t go alone. Take Anklah and Itzloq.” The priest said.


    “You want me to take sauruses to deal with humans. That often doesn’t end well,” the warrior said,

    “Who else do we have that isn’t sick? Plus, they know a few words of the Breeder’s tongue and can ride Culchans.”

    “Barely.”

    “What is the Breeder's expression? ‘Beggars can’t be choosers?’”

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


    Ecodahl and the two sauruses were hiding behind a boulder as bullets ricocheted off the rock.


    “Why we hide behind rock? Two humans, three of us. We have advantage” Anklah asked.

    Ecodahl fired a quick shot. The humans also had cover. At this range the odds of hitting one were low, but he wanted them to keep their heads down.

    “They have two rifles, we have one. It’s flat ground between us. You two aren’t bullet proof,” he replied to her.

    And I think they are probably better shots than me.

    Ecodahl kept that part to himself.

    “Die Lizard Demon! How dare you poison our river?” one of the humans shouted.

    Ecodahl thought for a moment, stuck his head out and shouted back.

    “All my eye! We are downstream from you. How would we poison your water? You milk drinkers poisoned our water!”

    Ecodahl ducked behind his boulder as the human fired on him again.

    “Hold your fire!” the other human said.

    “We wouldn’t poison our own water. Someone must be poisoning us both.” Viktor the human said.

    “Maybe we can stop shootin’ each other and have a jaw about this?”

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    The two saurus the human rifleman eyed each other suspiciously while the witch hunter and skink warrior walked well ahead of them several paces.


    “The further we go upriver, the greener the water gets. This isn’t natural.” Ecodahl said.
    “Agreed, this is a sign of something vile,” Viktor said.

    “There are bodies over there. That also sign,” Anklah the saurus said pointing down the river.

    There was an awkward pause.

    There were some humans and orcs lying on the ground. They all had matching red sashes but otherwise were poorly dressed and filthy.

    “A criminal gang of some sort,” the witch hunter said.

    The other human knelt down near one. “Weak heartbeats, barely alive.”

    An unconscious orc suddenly woke up and started screaming

    “WAAAAAAAAAaaaa---”

    The orc’s scream was cut off by a wet gurgle. A tiny bulbous green man looking like a living sack of tumors burst out of the orc’s chest.

    “Not alive anymore.” Anklah the saurus said.

    The rifleman was examining the human next to dead orc and backed away nervously.

    “That’s new….” Ecodahl said drawing a pistol cautiously.

    “Actually this is old. Very old.” Viktor said.
    “Yech, even outlaws don’t deserve to get dusted like that,” said the other human

    He pulled a glass vial from his pocket and dripped a few drops on the wriggling vaguely human amorphous creature. It let loose a high pitched screeched, began to writhe and burn, then melted leaving an odor behind even worse than the medical tent.

    Suddenly all the men and orcs on the ground writhed on the ground as more living disease creatures burst from their chests alone or in pairs.

    “I’m not sure I have enough holy water to smite all of these abominations…” Viktor said not breaking his stoic façade.

    The living puss men advanced and the skink and humans backed up a few steps.

    Itzloq the male saurus lowered his cudgel obliterating one of the creatures. Anklah followed suit with her axe.

    “No water needed.” Anklah said.

    Viktor’s companion joined the saurus crushing one of the creatures with the butt of his rifle. In under two minutes all of the dark creatures were dead.

    “Hmmm, that was licking butter off a knife.” Said the human rifleman.

    Anklah turned to him.

    “You want lick butter of these creatures?”
    “No! That’s just an expression. I was saying this fight was easy.” He said sheepishly wiping the monster gunk from his weapon.
    “Indeed, we have stopped the contagion from spreading.” Viktor said triumphantly.


    Ecodahl hissed angrily then muttered something in Saurian. He drew confused stares from the humans, so he repeated it in Reikspiel.

    “(Didn’t do much good for those already dead). Didn’t do much good for those already dead.”
    “You have a point, Rango. We don’t know how long ago these dead varmits got infected, so we don’t know how long it will take for these monsters to bouge out of our sick people’s chests.” Viktor said.
    “I want to save my people as well.” Ecodahl said.
    “What do we do?” asked the other human.
    “Drink the holy water?” Anklah suggested.

    Viktor paused and he scratched his chin. Then his face let up.

    “That will probably work! But we better hurry. We need to get the priest to bless some more holy water fast to get enough for everyone. Maybe we can cleanse the river too” He said.

    “NOOOO!!!! The holy work of Pestilence must not be abated.”

    The humans and Rangos turned towards the new shouting.

    Six fairly haggard looking men had emerged from behind rocks or trees.

    The two humans and the three Saurios already had weapons ready. The two sauruses charged the largest two attackers who were advancing with axes. They seemed to have unholy strength, but they didn’t have saurus strength, so they didn't last long.

    Ecodahl and the two humans began firing at the others.

    The leader was especially strong taking three bullets and an axe blow to fell him, but all the Pestilence cultists were soon dead. Anklah had a bullet wound but it was not deep. At Viktors suggestion, they put a few droplets of holy water on the wound.

    Ecodahl examined the wound. “She’ll be fine. We need our priest to look at this later but we need to get more holy water like you said and cure all our ill first.”

    Viktor nodded.

    “Good, good. Wait, that’s a she?

    “Isn’t it obvious?” Ecodahl asked.
    “No.” the rifleman.

    It’s hard to build trust between strangers but fighting a bunch of disease monsters is a good start. The ad hoc company laughed and prepared to ride off for their home.

    As the five warriors mounted their steeds and disappeared over the horizon. A rider on a green horse was visible, a wide brimmed hat hid the rider’s face. A gurgling voice whispered.

    “This was a disappointment. I will need to recruit stronger agents next time.”
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2022
  2. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    The winner by a wide margin is story one, congratulations to thedarkfourth!

    Story One, "The Tale of Lizards and the Vermin" by @thedarkfourth

    Story Two, "Throw Caution to the Wind" by @Imrahil

    Story Three, "Murder Under the Nile" by @Lizards of Renown

    Story Four, "Poisoned Water Supply" by Scalenex

    Thank you to everyone who entered and/or voted!
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2022
  3. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Okay! Time to check out the stories!
     
  4. Paul1748
    Saurus

    Paul1748 Well-Known Member

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    4 stories and 1 vote. It's gonna be tough.
     
  5. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    it could have been worse. Think about five stories and 1 vote...
     
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  6. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    [​IMG]

    I was hoping for five stories. Don't rub it in.
     
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  7. Imrahil
    Slann

    Imrahil Thirtheenth Spawning

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    Only one vote will be difficult, but we can read again :) :bookworm:

    Grrr, Imrahil
     
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  8. Bowser
    Slann

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    Wow! These are all amazing, I regret that I had but one vote to give. They all got a smile out of me, but story one had me laughing before I realized what it was paralleling. The shocking xenophobia of the Grimm tales setup just hit that dark comedy note, before I realized the other dark comedy, aptly named for this contest, was the inspiration.

    It was difficult though. Amazing work from all of the authors. You should all be very proud of your work.
     
  9. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Great to see you around Bowser.
     
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  10. Bowser
    Slann

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    I am going to leave a quick review of these four stories, so spoilers ahead. Read the stories, then come back.

    First these are all beautifully written. They each conjure up different imagery for me, and I will explain how I imagine it in the reviews. The soft world building in these is unparalleled. Seriously, we know the basics of the mythology, but these stories all go off into their own dimensions with them, and build a familiar, yet foreign world for these characters.

    Story 1 "The Tale of the Lizard and The Vermin"

    First off it tells us it is from the Fun Book to Traumatize Your Children. This is funny on multiple levels. So the imagery this sets up immediately is a western animation style, you know that dark and cell shaded animation that you might see with a retelling of Hansel and Gretel or the works of Poe.
    This story gives us a masterful abridged version of the movie Parasite. It is on point and hilarious the whole way through. The story tellers are the Brothers Grimmdark from the Empire. Their immediate and ruthless xenophobia really sets this up as based on a true story, but told through the eyes of the imperials. The only critique I have for this one is that it felt a tad rushed at the end, but this did still feel natural to the type of fairy tale story telling. Now I want some Ramdon.

    Story 2 "Throw Caution to the Wind"

    Straight away the skillfully crafted descriptions had me visualize this in an anime style. The bright colors, the skinks with their helmets and visors, the larger than life ships. Brilliantly told story, and an AOS story to boot! It's always nice to step out of the old world/lore. The way there are certain pauses in the story, it takes the action down to zero and gives a small window of reflection. Incredible. Like seeing a studio Ghibli movie on the page. The innocence of this hulking Kroxigor with a kitten is great. My only critique of this one is that it felt less like a short story, and more like a first chapter. I would read the hell out of the rest of this, if there's more to come. While it was self contained, it felt like a small part of a much larger tale.

    Story 3 "Murder Under the Nile"

    This one is immediately and from the get go action packed. This brings up a slapstick non stop comedy image for me. Like Clue or the Pink Panther. Peter Sellers as Poirat. Tim curry as Snikkit, you get the idea. I actually visualized it as a 1940s Warner Brothers cartoon, similar to Yankee Doodle Daffy. The suspense is killer throughout, and matched only by the wit with which it is told. The only thing that tipped me off was my thoughts of when do the lizards show up? Hilarious through and through and ends with a Scooby-Doo reference. That always adds points in my book.

    Story 4 "Poisoned Water Supply"

    This one I felt had the best pacing out of all of them. I imagined this like the old western or samurai serials that inspired the style of "The Mandalorian."
    I could see the beautifull painted title cards and everything. The subtle differences between Echodal and Viktor is amazingly well done. Echodahl who is calm and collected versus Viktor who is trying to remain calm and collected gives you a very real feel for the differences between the two species. The fun little jump scare of the Orc sitting up to yell WAAAAaa was a great setup to the body horror coming out in these parasites. Extremely expertly written, like, given how the scene is described, I have to wonder if Stephen King plays Lizardmen in Warhammer. Once again, this felt less like a short story, and more like the first episode of a serial.

    It was a tough call on who to vote for, these are all incredibly well written and thought out. Each has a clear and distinct style, and once again the soft world building present in these stories is absolutely brilliant.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2022
  11. Scolenex
    Razordon

    Scolenex Well-Known Member

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    If it is true you periodically hibernate in the sea, feel free to surface every three months. There will be another short story contest and you can leave more excellent critiques.
     
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  12. Bowser
    Slann

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    Well, at the very least I will have to come back around March first to see if my guesses on the authors are correct, and to see who wins this one.
     
  13. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    What an amazing bunch of stories. Kudos to everyone of you.
     
  14. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    I like the fact that there is an equal smattering of votes. Great stories guys.
     
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  15. Imrahil
    Slann

    Imrahil Thirtheenth Spawning

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    Just finished reading all the stories, great work from all.
    My vote is in and it is a three-way tie at the moment.

    Just 13 days of voting left

    Grrr, Imrahil
     
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  16. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Ha! Nice!
     
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  17. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    And then one pulls ahead!!!! The race is on!!!
     
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  18. Bowser
    Slann

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    Quick we need more reviews, I don't want to think I have somehow influenced the vote!
     
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  19. NIGHTBRINGER
    Slann

    NIGHTBRINGER Second Spawning

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    Such is the power of the mighty @Bowser !
     
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  20. Imrahil
    Slann

    Imrahil Thirtheenth Spawning

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    I will try to write some minimal review... but it is always hard if you are the author of one of the participating stories :rolleyes:

    Grrr, Imrahil
     
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