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Fiction Scalenex's Old L-O Story Contest Entries

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, May 10, 2016.

  1. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    The Mind of a Huagerdon

    November-December 2020 Contest, Theme was "A Place to Call Home."

    I wrote this piece at the last minute. I had a general idea that I wanted to try a Jack London-esque story about a huagerdon, but wasn't sure how to do it. I pushed through this writing on the adrenaline of last minute panic. When I realized I couldn't come close to the Third Person Omniscient that Jack London I opted to go for First Person limited and try to go from the huagerdon's view. I threw in an arbitrary happy ending with an unlikely reunion to differentiate this piece from my first huagerdon based story.

    The pads on Lata’s feet were getting sore, but the huagerdon had to continue through the jungle, his instincts carrying him forward.

    SNIFF

    Sweet smell ahead. Too sweet. Could be carnivorous plants or benign plants attracting wasp. Go around.

    Lata continued through the jungle.

    SNIFF

    Air getting moist very fast. Hint of ozone. Rain coming soon. Lots of rain. High winds. Need shelter.

    SNIFF

    Swamp to the west. Not good during storm.

    SNIFF

    Stale blood and rotting flesh to the north. Carcass attracting scavengers. Not safe.

    SNIFF

    Nothing unusual to the south. Terrain gets steeper. Maybe safety here.

    Rain starts to fall. Earthy smell permeating air with water. Need to use ears and eyes more than nose. Thick shrubs, better than open ground. No sounds other than rain and insects.

    SNIFF

    Do not smell poison, carcass, or animals. Wait for storm here. Sleep long as can. Need rest



    The storm stopped in the morning. The shrubs provided little shelter, the huagerdon got very little rest.

    Lost time. Feet feel better. Stomach growls, must keep going.

    The huagerdon marched from dawn to dusk before collapsing in exhaustion.



    Birds chirp, not chirp I want. Must wake up must continue. Stomach growls. Must feed.

    SNIFF

    Smell of blood. Food. Danger. Food. Danger. Food.

    Lata cautiously approached the carcass of an antok. Growling and barking to scare off the vulture. The antok was somewhat decayed but the haugerdon hadn’t eaten in days. The meat and marrow was needed.

    Stomach full. Cannot rest. Must keep going. Feet sore. Keep going



    The next day, the rotted meal he had yesterday caused Lata to vomit.

    Dizzy, stomach empty. Must keep going.


    The next day when his hunger was too much to tolerate Lata had to stop his journey to catch a squirrel.

    Fresh meat good. Want more. Must keep going. Feet sore, must keep going.



    Two more days and a squirrel later, Lata’s hunger was getting unbearable.

    SNIFF

    Carcass. Fresh. Danger. Food. Danger. Food. Food.

    A hawk had taken down an especially large rabbit. The Huagerdon roared and snarled.

    Food. Mine. Food. MINE!

    The two creatures fought. The hawk fled after Lata bit its neck. The bite barely drew blood but it was more resistance than the hawk wanted. After the adrenaline of the fight and the enjoyment of the meat passed, Lata realized his hind leg was badly clawed. The huagerdon licked his wound clean as well as he could.

    Stomach full. Legs hurts. Keep going



    The huagerdon got slower over the next two days.

    Leg hurts. Stomach empty. Leg hurts. Keep going. Leg hurts. Feet sore. Leg hurts.

    Lata’s leg was not too injured for the huagerdon to travel but catching squirrels and rabbits was out of the question now.

    Leg hurts. Stomach empty. Leg hurts. Stomach empty. Leg hurts. Keep going.



    Another day and a half and the huagerdon could barely stand.


    Must continue. Cannot continue. Must continue. At least I die seeking home.

    A gentle breeze wafted over the huagerdon, carrying a familiar scent.

    SNIFF

    The huagerdon perked up.

    “YIFF!”

    “Lata is that you?”

    “YIFF!”

    The skink rose over the crest of a hill and Lata hobbled towards. Immediately noticing the huagerdon’s hurt leg, he gently scooped Lata into his arms.


    “I was looking everywhere for Lata. I found you now.”

    The huagerdon licked the skink’s face.

    I found you.

    “Let’s go home.”

    I am home.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
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  2. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    This bugged me too when writing this. I left out a lot of exposition, but I rationalized it at the time that the huagerdon did not know these answers so it didn't need to be in the story.

    Huagerdons are scaly cuddly dogs! Not the same as Kroxigors. I feel like Killer Angel's misunderstanding is a failure on my part :(

    I achieved my main goal. Huzzah.

    Thanks, I was proud of that too.

    Huzzah a vote. I'm glad I hit the right emotional notes. As of the contest, I was the only one to include Huagerdon, so it was not difficult to guess I was the author. But spoiler, someone else wrote about a Huagerdon in the January-February 2021 contest!

    Nothing really to add to my own commentary.

    Thank you for the praise. Lata was a "she" but other that you are spot on reading what I was trying to convey.

    Yup. Normally I like bittersweet emotional manipulation stories that make me people sad, but once in a while I will try something different. This time I was going for awwwwwww.

    Thank you.


    Yup, I both fully agree with and fully understand this comment.
     
  3. Imrahil
    Slann

    Imrahil Thirtheenth Spawning

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    This I noticed. The rest of the story didn't really say @Scalenex so I was suspicious ;)

    Grrr, Imrahil
     
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  4. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    So I was shocked that I won this contest round.

    The other contests where I won I poured a lot of emotion into them. This one not so much.

    But looking back, I don't think it was a fluke that I won. I didn't exactly pour my heart and soul into this, but I did put time and effort into this. I didn't spend a lot of time writing this, but I spent a long time pondering this.

    As soon this theme was given to me, I knew I wanted to do a buddy cop movie parody. I pondered three basic archetypes.

    First, an 80s action cop movie (the one I chose)

    Second, A Hot Fuzz parody. Probably is, this was already done better with 40K on Youtube.

    Third, I had the idea of a rated R early 90s gritty cop movie that was awkwardly edited to be child friendly. The protagonist was going to go after a "flour" smuggling operation. Upon pondering how to implement, I have seen this done in a hilarious way via cartoons but I have come to realize that those kind of jokes (voicing over swear words for instance) work better in a audio-visual media. Also, they wouldn't mix well with Warhammer.

    After some pondering of which races to make the good guys and which ones to make the bad guys, I thought about Zootopia. And figured the city of Los Hammerles would look a lot like that with different races and groups all part of the same society in a city that should not exist.

    I'm not planning on revisiting this setting, but if I did I could easily parody Zootopia. All the skaven and greenskins in this story were bad guys, but Los Hammerles is a diverse place and has law abiding skaven and goblins too that struggle against negative stereotypes.

    I am still vague on what the government is like. It's hard to imagine Slann not being in charge of this. Or you know, if not in charge per se, they have the lion's share of the upper positions.

    While the story I wrote wasn't exactly original and I will admit that I used video skips to get around parts that I wasn't sure what to write.

    I did put effort into my jokes and gags. I didn't rush that part. On most of my jokes I toyed with different methods of delivery and different phrasing for maximum comedy (and minimum word count, pushing against the word count ceiling is a problem in all of my pieces).

    Elrond Rudd name is based on Arjin Rudd from Lethal Weapon II, I couldn't resist, but his overall character is more of a combination of the two villain 80s archetypes: Evil British Dude, and Evil Rich Dude.

    I ultimately decided to go with a cocaine dealers. That was the go-to bad guy of 80s cop movies. I thought about making the villains car thieves but that's more of a late 90s early 00s thing.

    I liked the idea of a throway scene where the protagonist busted a car theft ring, just because I wanted to have Orcs running a Choppa Shop. Chop Shop is a slang term for a garage that tears apart stolen cars to sell the parts by the way. That detracted from the main plot and was a lot of words just for one pun.

    A lot of 80s movies have a C-list group of bad guys that are biker thugs. I couldn't figure out a good place to put in said biker thugs, and I wasn't sure what fantasy race to make them.

    “You bought the movie secondhand? This ancient VHS tape is skipping like crazy!”

    “Get off my back it’s better than nothing.”

    ”I don’t know It kind of feels like a weak contrivance to describe an entire action movie using under 2400 words.”


    Fade up on major studio label: the words "Alternate Universal" orbiting in giant letters around the Old World. This is followed by the indie studio label: Lustrian Pictures, with a stylized bronze sculpture of a skink with a blowpipe.


    Exciting music with synthesizers starts crescendo as the title sequence lands.


    Short and Scaly on the Streets


    Tape skips a few minutes


    The plain clothes Skink cop faced off against the trenchcoat wearing Skaven. The sneering Skaven addressed the Skink with a vaguely German accent.


    “Really Officer Xilitoc, you’ve been chasing me for over two years and you always fail-fail.”

    “I’m going to bring you in, you filthy rat!”

    “You can bring me in, or you can save the hostages. You cannot do both.”

    “Oh yeah?”


    Tape skips a few minutes



    “Move! Move!”


    The Skink waved the Humans to run faster ahead of him, their hands still tied. The Skink barely managed to outrun the looming explosion behind him.


    Tape skips a few minutes


    Officer Xilitoc walks by an electronics shop full of televisions. Zoom in on a TV with a big haired shoulder pad wearing Human news anchor.


    “After last year’s storm of magic, the once ritzy Forge World Grand Hotel remains heavily damaged. Philanthropist, businessman and community leader Elrond Rudd has purchased the building and promised to renovate it. According to Rudd, ‘This building will be restored to grandeur again and will be the center for a new prosperous neighborhood. I have big plans for this neighborhood, I have big plans for this city.’ Inspirational words from an inspirational elf! This is Sally Marienberg with Channel 4 Exposition News.”


    Tape skips a few minutes, cut to the police station



    “Better watch out, Xilitoc,” said an older Skink at his desk.

    “Did the Itzi Grub donut delivery arrive late?” Xilitoc quipped.

    “Don’t joke, the chief is really pissed.”

    XILITOC, MY CONTEMPLATION CHAMBER, NOW!

    Xilitoc winced from the telepathic shouting washing over him.


    Behind the golden desk stat a giant toad in a white shirt and suspenders working overtime to hold all the clothes together. A vein pulsed on the side of the Slann captain’s head.


    YOU REALLY MAHRLECT UP THIS TIME!

    “You don’t understand, chief.”
    I UNDERSTAND PERFECTLY WELL. YOU BLEW THE BUILDING TO CHAOS!

    “Mausmann blew up the building sir.”

    AND YOU LET THAT SKAVEN GET AWAY…AGAIN.

    “I got the hostages out, what more do you want?”


    The Slann looked slightly mollified.

    You are a loose cannon that never follows procedure, but you are a damn good cop, so I’m letting it slide…this time. I’m assigning you a partner, Officer Thorden. He’ll keep you from messing up again.

    “I work alone!”

    Not this time. I’m also reassigning you from Skaventown case because you keep dropping the egg on this one.

    “You sending me where? Skaventown is my beat!”

    I can move mountains with mind, so I can certainly move officers around in my precinct. Until you can show you can play by the rules, you are going to work the Elf District.

    “Mahrlect (bleeping sound).”


    Tape skips a few minutes


    Xilitoc looks sulkily at the older dwarf driving the squad car.

    “I didn’t ask for a partner or go to the Pointy Ear district.”

    The dwarf made a scoffing sound.

    “I didn’t ask to be working this either. Just try’in to survive to retirement. Maybe if you can avoid blowing skyte up, the toad won’t take away my pension. I do things by the Book Skinky.”

    “I hate doing things by the Book…or by the Plaque.”

    “Heh, it’s like the only thing we have in common is a badge and a gun.”


    Tape skips several minutes


    “What’s a Skaven doing in Elf Town?” the dwarf asked.

    “That’s mahrlect Mausmann! We’re bringing him in!”

    “Don’t just bolt off, maybe we can sneak up on him—”

    “Gnashgrib, you’re under arrest!”


    Tape skips a minute or two. By which point both chasers and chasees are in cars. Xilitoc is driving.


    The sirens are drowned out by chase music. An unnamed Skaven hangs out a window and shoots at the squad car.


    An oblivious skink is selling wares from a street side vending stall.


    “Mangos! Bananas! Got your fresh tropical fruit here at reasonable prices…aw mahrlect….”

    More gunfire is exchanged between the cars as they swerve around panicked pedestrians and slower moving cars.


    The Skink dives out of the way as the Skaven’s tinted car takes a corner too tight and hits the produce stand. The squad car is showered in mangos and bananas.


    More gunfire is exchanged between the cars as they swerve around panicked pedestrians and slower moving cars nearly identical to the ones in the last shot.


    An oblivious Halfling is shouting about his wares at his stall.


    “Fish, fresh caught today, reasonable price! Ah Gollum…”


    The Halfling dives out of way as the Skaven’s tinted car narrowly avoids the stall but the squad car skids and hits it. Covering the windshield in halibut. A fish ends up in the dwarf’s lap, he picks it up and tosses it out the window.


    Another vendor is up ahead. A Human.


    “Card board boxes! Get your empty cardboard boxes… Ah Chaos…”


    The Human leaps away. A few seconds later both cars stop shooting at each other as they drive through a mountain of bouncing boxes.


    Up ahead, two Elves were carrying a giant pane of glass.


    “What a lovely day to be carrying this large pane of glass through the market area …ah dav’rit.”


    TAPE SKIPS a minute or two


    At the end of the street, the battered squad car t-bones a limosine while the Skaven’s tinted car gets away.

    A well-dressed elf exit the limo, looking at the two battered cops.

    “Ancestors dammit, we just hit Elrond Rudd’s mahrlect limo!” officer Thoren muttered.

    Thoren picks a piece of glass out of his beard.

    “I’m getting too old for this.”


    The wealthy Elf spoke with a vaguely sinister British accent.


    “I hope you have a good explanation for this, officers.”


    Tape skips a few minutes back at the police station


    YOU TWO, MY CONTEMPLATION CHAMBER, NOW!


    Tape skips several minutes


    The two cops are eating and drinking at a Waaaghwigi’s Pizzeria.


    “Bugmann’s Ale, I’d never drink that.” The skink said

    “I’d never get a pizza with grubs, anchovies, and red peppers.”

    “You don’t like red peppers?”

    “I guess our taste in food and drink is nothing alike. It’s like the only thing we have in common is a badge and a gun. “


    Tape skips several minutes


    “I love my wife, but she doesn’t understand what it’s like out here. You married Skinky?”

    “No, Skinks reproduce asexually from pools.”

    “Have any kids?”

    “No, Skinks reproduce asexually from pools.”

    “How come you avoided having a partner all this time Skinky?”


    Xilitoc looks off into space for several seconds.


    “I had a partner once. Officer Kaxla. Chameleon Skink, good cop, good partner, like a spawning brother to me.”


    Xilitoc looks off into space for several even longer.


    “What happened to Kaxla?”

    “We were investigating Mausman…when Kaxla….disappeared. ”

    “I know what you mean. My father was a cop. Died in the line of duty. I became a cop to find his killer, but I never figured out who did it or why,” said the older dwarf.


    The two drank in silence for almost a full minute.


    “Maybe we are more alike than you thought beardy.”


    Tape skips several minutes


    “Why are the Skaven hiding their warpstone cocaine in Elftown…” the dwarf muttered.

    “I don’t believe it, Elrond Rudd owns this building. Let’s take them now!” the Skink said.

    “We should call for backup.”

    “I don’t need backup.”


    Tape skips several minutes


    The dwarf and skink jump through a window and barely manage to outpace the explosion as the warehouse in engulfed in flames. In the distance you can see a number of criminals getting away led by a distinctly dressed Skaven…Mausman.


    Officer Thoren pulls a shard of glass out of his beard.

    “I’m getting too old for this.”


    Tape skips several minutes


    “You want to accost Elrond Rudd in this fancy Brettonian restaurant? The toad told us to leave him alone.”

    “We aren’t going to arrest him, just talk. Maybe he’ll let something slip. What’s the worst that can happen.”


    Tape skips a few minutes


    Elrond’s bodyguard, a huge orc in a fancy suit, tosses the skink over a table into a platter of deserts. Reluctantly Officer Thoren moves to back up his partner and trips the orc causing him to knock down a stack of champaign glasses. They exchange punches.

    Tape skips a few minutes

    Police arrive and break up the brawl.

    Thoren pulled a glass shard out of his beard.

    “I’m getting too old for this.”


    Tape skips a few minutesback at the police department.


    YOU’RE SUSPENDED! I WANT YOUR BADGE AND GUN ON MY DESK NOW!


    Tape skips several minutes


    “Our bumbling sidekick just belatedly gave us damning evidence that Eldrond Rudd is running warpstone cocaine out of the old Forgeworld Hotel.”

    “Your suspended, Skinky. I’m not even supposed to be talking to you.”

    “I’m just a citizen. I can go in with you and you can arrest them all.”

    “I’m not doing this, kid.”

    Tape skips several minutes

    “You son of a pool, I’m in.”

    Tape skips a few minutes

    “We need to sneak by those guards.” Xilitoc whispered.


    Fortunately the guards, a human and a skaven were immersed in an argument.


    “Yo, it’s like the damage to the building is all inside, but the outside of the building is still very beautiful. This gothic catherdral is almost like a metaphor for the boss man we are working for. Respectable on the outside but run down and ugly on the inside.”

    “No, you are wrong-wrong. This fancy hotel with a dark center is social commentary on 1980s consumer culture in general. There is so much focus on outward appearance, no one look-smells at the corruption beneath.”

    “Seriously, you don’t think it’s a metaphor for the boss man?”

    “Maybe it’s just an exciting place to have a shoot-gun fight.”

    “I hope not, I don’t want to get shot or thrown out a window. We are just nameless goons, we don’t stand a chance.”

    “We have-have names. Mine is—”

    Tape skips several minutes


    Thoren and Xilitoc are exchanging fire with several thugs in the dilapidated finery of the hotel. One of the human guards gets hit and staggers, tripping on an uneven floor and defenestrates himself breaking lots of glass at the start of this fall.


    “I knew this would happeeennnnnnnn!”


    Tape skips a few minutes


    While Xilitoc is exchanging fire with some nameless thugs, Thoren is locked in hand to hand combat with Elrond’s orc bodyguard having a long drawn out brawl. Eventually they both break through a window and defenestrate themselves falling together.

    Xilitoc screams in dismay.


    “THOREN NO!!!”


    While distracted, a nameless goblin thug manages to clock him on the head and knock him unconscious.


    He wakes up with his hands bound in a chair, the Skaven underboss Mausmann and two goblins all have guns pointed at him.

    “You were all too easy for us to catch-trap Xilitoc.” The Skaven said

    “You couldn’t catch a cold you rat bastard! Who is helping you?” Xilitoc said.

    “Me, I sssssset the trap,” said an unseen voice.


    The Skink looked dumbfounded.


    “Kaxla? Is that you? You’re working for Mausmann?!?”

    “Oh no. He’sssss working for me. I work for Elrond. You have no idea how deep the conspiraccccy goesssss…”


    Tape skips several minutes


    “I got tired of being overlooked! I wanted a piece of the pie, and now I have respect, and power, and money.” The Chameleon Skink continued.

    Tape skips a few minutes

    “…and that’s why the Forgeworld Hotel was the perfect bassssse for our operation.”

    “Why are you telling me all this?” Xilitoc asked.

    “You have useful sssskills, I like you. I know you like to work alone, but we were partnersss once. We can be partnerssss again. Ssssince you know the plan, you can either join me or I kill you now. What do you ssssay partner.”

    “You’re not my partner! I have a partner.”

    “Whosssse your partner now, Xilitoc. You are all alone!” The Chameleon skink changed his color to a shifting color pattern for intimidation.


    “Me!”


    An extremely bloody and battered Officer Thoren inexplicably emerges from the shadows and shoots the exposed Chameleon Skink.


    Even with his hands tied, Xilitoc starts grappling with Mausmann. One of the unnamed goblin thugs tries to shoot him but hits another unnamed goblin. He pauses in disbelief, Thoren guns him down. Meanwhile Xilitoc gets Mausmann in a strangle hold and chokes him to unconsciousness.


    Tape skips several minutes


    Elrond Rudd stands over the bloodied and barely conscious bodies of Xilitoc and Thoren. The elf gloats over them.


    “Well fought Thoren. Very tenacious. Your father was tenacious…back when I killed him all those years ago.”


    Tape skips several minutes


    Elrond Rudd is defenestrated in a cloud of broken glass falling dramatically before on a fuel tank which explodes.


    Tape skips a few minutes


    Xilitoc turned to Thorden, “Thank the Old Ones our bumbling sidekick unexpectedly came through with an unexpected distraction at our time of need.”


    The area is swarming with cop reinforcements including helicopters, and a floating Slann palanquin. Most of the criminals are dead, cuffed, or unconscious. A few are try to flee but are being round up by nameless police officers.


    Mahrlect Xilitoc, you are a loose cannon that doesn’t play by the rules. But you are a damn good cop.


    He floats towards Xilitoc and Thoren. He waves a hand and their wounds heal though they are still covered in blood and wearing tattered rags.


    “That’s better, but I forgot how much magical healing stings.” Thoren mutters.

    “You are not getting too old for this are you?” Xilitoc.

    “No Skinky, not yet.” Thoren replies.
     
  5. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    I also kind of wanted to have the humans revere Mr. Belvedere as a cultural icon, but I'm not sure how many people are Adventure Time fans, where the Mr. Belvedere theme is one of the few surviving cultural relics from ancient humanity.

     
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  6. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    I guess I should have immediately put a Westhammer label on this piece at the beginning. Relatively to my other Westhammer pieces, this probably the least laden with wild west tropes.

    It was Chaos Dwarf stuff they were digging up (you're welcome @NIGHTBRINGER).

    A k'daii destroyer.


    The parallel universe were the universe of Westhammer and the universe of Warhammer Fantasy. WHF was the world they were digging old relics from.

    I am physically incapable of writing something free of minor language errors. I'm glad you liked milk-drinker as the Rango's favorite racial slur.

    Yay, someone recognizes Westhammer and my Chaos Dwarf easter eggs!

    Huzzah, I entertained one reader at least.

    Groan. The parallel dimensions are the world of Westhammer and the world of Warhammer Fantasy classic, what the Westhammer folk call "the World that Was."

    At least Killer Angel saw the parallel dimensions I was shooting for. Of course he didn't just read my piece, I discussed it briefly with him before I started writing it.

    I wasn't expecting to win. I kind of wanted to prove to Nightbringer that Chaos Dwarfs do not equal an insta-win.

    So the people of Westhammer know of the universe of Warhammer Fantasy as a distant legend. You can read about it here. If you guys want to help develop Westhammer wiki with me, let know here or via private message.

    Thank you.
    I was playing coy with my reviews but I'm guessing almost everyone knew I was the author of this Westhammer piece.

    I hammered this piece out fairly quickly at the last minute to pad the numbers for this contest as with many of my last minute entries, it's flaws glare at me.

    The biggest flaw in this piece, that I see is that the Rangos do not do much more than witness the actions of other people (though their decision to grab provisions before fleeing shows they have had to flee from weird monsters before).

    I am considering rewriting this piece without Rango involvement and posting it on the Westhammer wiki.

    Just in case I wasn't 100% clear.

    The Chaos Dwarfs have been extinct for many centuries (and modern dwarves love to brag about the fact that they cleansed their ranks of Chaos far earlier than the humans did). But overtime, the dwarves understood less and less about the Chaos Dwarfs of yore.

    Remember to Chaos Dwarves, magic and technology are essentially one and the same. The dwarf who was the villain-protagonist of this story was not a Chaos worshiper but he thought he could reverse engineer some Chaos Dwarf artifacts, patent them and make lots of money.

    The nerdy human was an archaeologist he conned into helping them. In order to get his cooperation the dwarf said they were excavating a battle site where regular dwarves fought high elves in the War of the Beard.

    Of course when the mad dwarf found a K'daii are reanimated it, the K'daii had no desire to follow his orders and it did what leaderless K'daii do, kill everything in sight until it burns itself out.
     
  7. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Oops, did things out of order. Here is the story for the critiques I just posted.

    I was having an unrelated discussion with Nightbringer and my mind drifted to Chaos Dwarfs, so I thought about incorporating Chaos Dwarves into Westhammer because I was certain that if I was going to enter this contest, I would write a Westhammer piece. I wrote this rather quickly with the basic "dig too deep, too greedily" story.

    The Sleeping Giant


    Three months ago


    “So why do you want to hire us? Do you think there are ancient Lizardmen artifacts there?” Yuqal'Cho-ax asked.

    “If there was, would I invite you? I don’t want to get atwixt a Rango and some handle-less obsidian dagger or some other worthless relic. I know your kind get as mad as hornets and treacherous as goblins when your ancient 'treasures',” said the Hetrek the dwarf.

    The larger skink bristled at the insult, his had hand instinctively reached for his empty holster before remembering they agreed to disarm for this meeting deciding to just hiss and scowl. The skink priest gave his friend an admonishing look and Kai'ax softened his expression, but not by much.

    “You rangos aren’t the only folk with ancient ancestors. My employer believes this might have some elven or human artifacts from the World that Was.”

    Kai’ax failed attempt to give a polite smile gave away to a look of genuine confusion.

    “So why hire two Rangos?” he asked the suspiciously well-dressed human.

    The dwarf shrugged the shoulders rippling his silk suit, the fanciness of which didn’t match his haggard facial features and scarred callous hands suggesting a far more humble origin. Hetrek took a sip of coffee. His eyes had an intensity that suggested he was off-kilter or perhaps he had too much coffee. The skink was politely sipping the coffee offered to him, but decided he might be better off without it.

    “It’s mainly for theater. The area has a bad reputation, the workers believe the site is haunted. You two Rangos have a reputation for taking character of weird critters. It will make the superstitious men feel safer if you cut a figure there, but you can stay in the backseats”

    “And how much are you willing to pay for our backseats performance” Ka’ax asked.


    ***********

    Two weeks ago.

    Kai’ax sat under a shady tree on a hill over-looking the excavation site. He was sipping water and cleaning his rifle for the second time today while his Culchan hid her head in a burrow trying to catch a rabbit. Not too far away from the excavation site were the three small tent cities. The dwarves refused to camp next to the goblin workers or maybe the goblins refused to be near the dwarves. Either way, the humans were in between. He flicked a fly off his feathers and noticed his friend approaching.


    Yuqal'Cho-ax walked up the hill.


    “We shouldn’t have taken the job. I think that dwarf is cross-grained,” Kai’ax said.

    “Maybe he is, but we are essentially being paid to do nothing,” his friend replied.


    “The crew found more artifacts today.” The priest told his friend.

    “Broken spears, rusty shields, or rusty swords?” the larger skink asked indifferently.

    “Helmets and axes. Relatively intact. Randolph, the human from back East thinks this might have been a site where elves and dwarves fought in ancient time. Something about ‘the War of the Beard’.” The priest replied.

    “War of the Beard?” I know dwarves are proud of their facial hair, but they ancient dwarves and elves fought a war over beards?” the warrior asked

    “Milk drinkers have fought over stupider things,” the priest replied.

    “True, why bother digging this up?” Ka’ax asked

    “Some collectors will pay good coin for ancient relics of the World that Was.”

    “It better be real good coin. That dwarf is paying us, his own bulldozers, and half a hundred workers. He ain’t no Lordroid Goldman. His pockets have got to be nearing empty.” Yuqal'Cho-ax

    “We he hasn’t stopped paying us yet, so we can stick around.” Yuqal'Cho-ax

    “If we don’t die of boredom.


    One Week ago

    ***********


    The workers had really hit the motherlode of ancient artifacts, they seemed to be getting more dwarfy and less elfy the further the men dug. They amassed piles of assorted weapons. Meticulously sorted into specific piles by type. He was especially interested in the old muskets. Primitive rifles with very large bayonets on them. Almost impractically large.


    Ka’ax picked one up and examined it.


    Randolph seemed scandalized responding with his ridiculous Old World accent.


    “Mister Saurio, please don’t touch that! You might damage it!”


    The skink just scoffed.


    “This was sitting in a hole for thousands of years and pulled out of a rocky pit by goblins and you are worried that my feathery digits are going to break it.”


    One of the dwarf funders of the expedition just laughed.


    “Oh my ancestors built things to last and take a beating. I wouldn’t worry, Randolph. The skink is not going to harm it. One ol’ fire glaive is not going to matter much anyway.” The dwarf said.


    Kai’ax kept handling the odd weapon. He tried to mime firing it.

    “Definitely an old musket, but it couldn’t have had much accuracy, probably did most of their fighting with the blade part.”



    “I didn’t think the dwarves had any black powder weapons during the War of the Beard, accurate or otherwise.” Randolph exclaimed.

    “Who said it is the War of the Beard? Just because we got dead elfiedears and dwarves in the same place don’t mean it’s the big war. They had small grudge wars all the time in ancient days.”


    A goblin found a metal sheet with some runes on it. He sheepishly presented it Randolph and scampered away. The Easterner examined it for several minutes.


    “I don’t recognize these runes.” He finally said.

    “That kind of looks like a cow.” Ka’ax blurted out.


    A smile flashed across the dwarf’s face, but we quickly hid it.


    “Yeah, I think it is a cow. The dialect is ancient but I think is an old quarter master’s report. That worn out rune was probably a number saying how many head of cattle they had.”


    Another goblin scurried over.


    “Sirs, We’s found a big metal hand.”


    The dwarf smiled big at this.

    “Show me,” he said grinning with delight.



    Today

    ***********

    The workers had dug around the hand and eventually unearthed a giant metal man. Though sideways, the metal giant measured twenty-three and a half feet from head to toe. The bottom third of its body was still in the dirt. The metal man was exquisitely detailed, wearing ornate ancient dwarf style armor, but his face was a featureless plane.


    About half the workers were digging through the rocky, clay rich soil. The others were on break, but most were sticking around to gawk at it. Randolph had his nose buried in a book. He put it down suddenly and ran towards where Hetrek was standing supervising the digging.


    “Hetrek, sir! We must stop the excavation at once! I translated the rune!”


    Everyone stopped what they were doing to look at the commotion. Hetrek’s eyes flared briefly but he replaced it with a mask of polite curiosity.


    “Oh?”

    “It’s the symbol of Hashut, god of the Chaos Dwarves?”

    “Bosh! There is no such thing as Chaos dwarves, they never existed. The ancient dwarves distrusted magic so much that they forced those with a talent for it into exile and falsely labeled them followers of Chaos. The ancient dwarf wizards fused magic and metal to make wonders the world has never seen. Blades that never dull, trains that required no tracks and no coal.”


    The dwarf gestured at the partially submerged metal man.


    “Magnificent metal men to serve as their laborers.”


    Randolph sputtered incoherently and pulled out a pendant of Sigmar’s hammer.


    I didn’t think that human was religious. The skink priest mused to himself.

    “You speak blasphemy, sir! We must stop this excavation at once.”


    The haggard dwarf sighed.


    “I didn’t really think you would buy my explanation.”


    He blew three staccato blasts on a whistle around his neck. The human bulldozers as well as about a quarter of the workers (who seemed to be in cahoots) descended on the mass of people and they started clubbing dwarves, goblins, and men with the butts of their rifles or firing warning shots to herd them into one place while the two skinks just gawked. The mad dwarf turned towards them.


    “You were supposed to kill the Rangos first! You were only supposed to take the other alive.” Hetrek shouted as his minions but the skinks reacted faster.


    Kai’ax regretted not packing his heaviest irons on his person, but he pulled his six shooter and began firing at the thugs. Yuqal'Cho conjured a lightning bolt and threw it at Hetrek but it rolled off of him like water off a duck’s back. The haggard dwarf revealed a hidden charm around his neck and smirked

    Kai’ax downed two of mad dwarf’s bulls but missed with four of his shots. A few bullets came his way, but no one was especially accurate in the panicked confusion. He wondered if it was a coincidence the worshiper of the bull god’s hired men were nicknamed “bulls” but he didn’t have time to ponder this. He was out of bullets and their enemies were regrouping.

    Yuqal'Cho summoned a magical fog and the skinks fled towards their Culchans in the confusion.


    Most of the workers were near the metal man in the ground, but not all of them, the two skinks warned as few humans and dwarves on the outskirts and told them to find a horse and hightail it while the skinks mounted their Culchans.


    They heard a distant shout of Hetrek. “These are not fueled by coal but by blood!” followed by the death screams of goblins, dwarves, and men alike.


    Kai’ax tried to rally the fleeing men.


    “I know we all want to get gaited, but as much as I want to put distance between us and those madmen, we need to grab some food and water first. No sense escaping with our lives only to starve in the desert.”

    Two skinks, three humans, and two dwarves had hastily gathered as many provisions as they can loading up a donkey cart anxiously, when they saw the partially submerged man glow red like an iron on a smith’s forge and push itself up. A fiery evil face appeared on what was once a featureless surface.

    Yuqal'Cho’s sharp ears heard the distant shout.

    “Mighty K’daii, I have brought you back to life, now you must serve me!”

    The sound coming from the metal monster was heard by all.


    DWAAARF!

    YOU SEEK MY POWER FOR YOUR OWN PETTY GREED, BUT YOU DO NOT SERVE MIGHTY HASHUT. NONBELIEVERS MUST BURN.


    More death screams filled the desert air. Hetrek’s loudest of all.


    Now is the time to escape with our lives.” Yuqal'Cho said.

    They rode as fast as they could.


    Within a few hours, they lost sight of the glow of the thing that Hetrek called a K’daii, they didn’t stop riding till the horses were so lathered they were on the verge of collapsing.


    A week later the skinks rode back alongside a hundred cavalry men. The men rode into a veritable bone Hetrek and his followers made a blood sacrifice of all of the goblins and most of the dwarves and humans to awaken the monsters. Vultures and flies feasted on their corpses. Not far where the fire charred corpses of Hetrek and his followers.


    A blind man could have followed the deep tracks the K’daii left in his wake. They followed the tracks for about three miles before they found the metal monster silent, non-moving and bereft of its fire. Once again it was lying on its side.


    A few of the men fired their carbines at it, but they didn’t even dent the sleeping giant.


    “Cease fire!” the captain ordered.


    He looked about nervously as if the shots would make it come alive, but it remained unmoving.


    “So what do we do now,” the captain turned to the Rangos.

    “That’s a stumper” Kai’ax said.

    “I reckon we should bury it again and hope no one digs it up again.” Yuqal'Cho suggested.
     
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  8. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    The World of Skink Chief McBragg: Spine of Sotek Mountains


    Que the old timey epic music.

    At the Gentleskinks’ Club where all the old skinks had inexplicable British accents and even more inexplicable mustaches.

    “There, the Spine of Sotek Mountains.” Skink Chief McBragg said imperiously pointing at the globe. He turned to the slightly less old Skink standing near him.

    “Did I ever tell you about the time that I thwarted an invasion of Daemons?”
    “Chief, I really must be going.”

    Chief McBragg pulls the rug out from under the other Skink sending him sprawling into an easy chair. McBragg nonchalantly takes the chair opposite, relights his pipe and begins his tale.

    “A rift to the Chaos Realm appeared in the mountains. Itza sent an army to stop them, but the Chaos blighters routed the army sent against them, so naturally they asked me to lead a relief force.”

    Cut to a scene with McBragg in a temple chamber. All the Skink attendants are on their hands and knees begging.

    “I accepted of course.”

    Cut back to the temple chamber. McBragg is saluted by all the Skinks, the Temple Guard, and finally the Slann.

    “So we began the long arduous march through the jungle to cut the Demons off before they could greater damage don’t you know.”

    Cut to McBragg leading about four Kroxigor, thirty Skinks, twenty Saurus Warriors, and Stegadon.

    “With my strategic brilliance I spotted a highly defensible narrow pass and instructed my men to begin erecting hasty fortification.”

    Cut to Skinks carrying small rocks, Saurus Warriors carrying medium rocks, and Kroxigor carrying large rocks. Behind them the Stegadon is pushing a large boulder, behind which McBragg is pushing an equally large boulder. Within a short while there was a crude but solid fort guarding the pass.

    “All seemed well, but I had made a small miscalculation.”

    Cut to several Daemons were hiding behind trees in an obvious fashion, on the other side of the pass giggling as the Lizardmen fortified the wrong side of the pass.

    “Suddenly, we were ambushed!”

    The Lizardmen were surrounded by a much larger force of assorted Daemons.

    “Leading the assault was a mighty Hellcannon, it barreled towards our center line. Thinking quickly, I borrowed a maul from one of the Kroxigor.”

    McBragg unceremoniously snatches the large weapon from a Kroxigor leaving him to fight a large number of Deamons without a weapon causing him to fall under a dog pile of Daemons.”

    “Making lightning calculations in my head, I calculated the trajectory of the projectile, swung the maul and batted it back towards the Hellcannon destroying it utterly.”

    The Hellcannon explodes taking out several Daemons near it and panicking the rest nearest.

    “The Deamon horde fled.”

    (Back at the Gentleskinks Club)

    “I thought Daemons were unbreakable?” asked the other skink.
    “They aren’t used to facing true courage don’t you know.”

    Cut back to the narrated story. The Lizardmen cheer McBragg until their happy looks turn to panic as the Daemons regroup.

    “But suddenly a Great Bloodthirster appeared, rallying the Daemons into renewing their unholy charge!”

    “Oh my Commander—I mean Chief, did you flee the field?” asked the other Skink.

    “Of course not, courage don’t you know. With a mighty leap, I jumped on the back of the Stegadon and took command of the giant bow.”

    McBragg rapidly fires giant arrows by himself and manages to never miss hitting a Daemon with every shot, usually killing a line of three or four of them and other times pegging a single Deamon square between the eyes. Even the Stegadon was staring in disbelief.

    “We were beating back the Daemon horde, until finally I ran out of ammo.”

    After running out of giant arrows, McBragg fires a regular javelin which hits squarely but bounces harmlessly off the Bloodthirster with a loud ping.

    “The men around me were dropping like flies but I fought on bravely until it was just me and the Great Bloodthirster”
    Cut to the Lizardmen falling one by one. Finally a small rock hits the Stegadon’s head knocking it unconscious.

    “The great losses we inflicted was causing Bloodthirster’s hold on the material world to falter, but he wouldn’t disappear for hours. He roared at me in anger.”

    The Bloodthirster thumps his chest and soundlessly speaks while McBragg narrates his lines.

    “’Lizardman! You have thwarted my invasion but I can still destroy you.’ He said to me very demonically."

    “I fought bravely, but I was tired from all the fighting from before.”

    Cut to the Bloodthirster attacking in a flailing manner while McBragg barely parries the blows in time, McBraggs eyes show fear and his face beaded with sweat (never mind that reptiles don’t sweat).

    “Then suddenly, my weapon was sundered!”

    Cut to a scene where McBragg looks truly worried holding an empty pommel of a sword as the Bloodthirster looms over him gloating. Cut back to the Gentleskinks club. The other old Skink has a worried look on his my.

    “Oh my Chief, what did you do?” asked the other Skink

    “Thinking quickly, using the rope I always carry, I took the feathers from my headdress and tied them to myself like the fletching of a giant arrow. I leaped back to the giant bow, loaded myself in and fired.”

    McBragg conjures a rope seemingly from nowhere, fletches himself in less than a second and launches into the air.

    “I flew through the air over the Spine of Sotek Mountains all the way back to Itza, where I was given a hero’s welcome.”


    Cut to him landing in Itza, the city cheering enthusiastically, including the Slann. Cut back to the Gentleskink’s Club. McBragg’s solo audience member marvels.

    “I say Commander…I mean Chief, that story sounds like a real long shot.”

    McBragg tapped some ash out of his pipe and grunted.

    “Quite.."
     
  9. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    So I was going through something difficult in April. I used silly cartoons as a coping mechanism.

    As soon as I saw the concept of "Old Ones" I thought I should do a short story parodying Commander McMragg.

    I don't remember if this was a fresh idea I came up with in April or if this was an idea I came up with long ago and said "No, that idea is too stupid," then changed my mind later.

    Anyway, I had fun writing this and it did not take long to write.

    I was actually going for a WWI vibe, course back then they didn't call it WWI, they called "the Great War."

    Here is the Wikipedia article for Commander McBragg. McBragg was a character created in the 1960s to make fun of braggadocios old men. McBragg's exploits go all the way back to the 1880s and go as far for as the 1950s but no matter how far back you go, McBragg always has white hair, a pot belly, and a white mustache in his reminisces.

    I watched all 48 episodes as "research" for writing this piece, but the most important one inspirationally speaking was probably this one.



    I like how he camel doesn't even believe the story and he's witnessing it.

    All 48 episodes are on Youtube. Probably better to use the episode guide to look for it because if you look up "the complete works of McBragg" there are about 75 videos which means several of the original cartoons come up twice or thrice.

    McBragg's cartoons are all under 2 minutes. I made this story a little bit longer than but still short and sweet. I actually had more potential gags I chose not to include so as not to bog down my story's pacing. I could easily writing another McBragg story in a future contest, but it'd be cooler if someone else wrote one to disguise the authorship since another McBragg story would probably point an arrow at me.

    I was mildly concern that I was making an obscure reference no one get and that translating a cartoon into a short story would lose something in the transition but LoR seemed to have voted for my post despite not being familiar with Commander McBragg.

    Imrahil hit on my fears. I was concerned that translating a visual media to a written media would have some bumps and it did. Also, Imrahil was not familar with this obscure cartoon, but I guess McBragg did have a fair share of Wild West adventures. I even thought about going Westhammer. I wasn't sure how to best represent McBraggs best recurring visual gag. Every time McBragg runs out of ammo, he looks distraught, points the gun at his face, looks down the barrel and pulls the trigger.

    While that gag would be easier to do with Westhammer, I instead wanted to have a gag about firing the giant bow with perfect accuracy in homage to Spawning of Bob.

    But I guess my story turned out okay regardless of the built in difficulties. I guess because I'm an awesome writer whose writing skill is only eclipsed by his great modesty.

    There...Lustria-Online, did I ever tell you of the time I nailed a cartoon parody perfectly and got two votes in a highly competitive contest?


    I don't have anything to add to my own commentary.

    I figured that statistically speaking, at least one person would be familar with Commander McBragg.

    I wonder if Bowser was my other vote. It'd be fitting because Bowser and Lizards of Renown are two of my most consistent supporters and it'd be great if their fandom was drawn towards my work even when I'm anonymous.

    I guess he said it was 5 and 7, but I still got Bowser's enthusiastic nod on my story. Close enough.
     
  10. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    I guess I should have been more specific. It gave me the whole vibe of the old World War (not sure which ones) propaganda videos with the slightly high-pitched voices giving a little bit ridiculous accounts of the glories of the British Army.

    I think you nailed it. I've never heard of the Commander McBragg and your story definitely captured the idea.
     
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